Thursday, July 18, 2019

Terrifying Headline of the Day

Mike Pompeo unveils panel to examine 'unalienable rights'

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There is no way in Hell that this can possibly be a good thing. Or even a neutral thing. Or benign. There is no way on God's green Earth that Mike Pompeo is looking to increase the number of unalienable rights. Unless yopu are a Christian small-business owner who wants the right to deny service to any people whose existence you find troubling. That might possibly be a new right that this commission discovers. Other than that, though, there is no way that this panel wasn't convened to try to find ways to make current rights a bit less unalienable.

Mike Pompeo is a far-right theocratic lunatic. We all know this. Even the fairly conservative Economist had this to say about him:

Several things have earned Mr Pompeo the reputation of being a kind of latter-day Crusader. One is a video clip in which he argues vigorously that at least some individuals are motivated by their Muslim beliefs, and by things they read in the Koran, to commit terrible violence. . . What is more striking is the remedy of Christian solidarity he proposes: Islam-inspired terrorists “will continue to press against us until we make sure…we know that Jesus Christ is the only solution for our world.”

Then there was this, via The Intercept:

At an evangelical church in his district that specializes in addressing “Satanism and paranormal activity” — and standing in front of a Christian flag — Pompeo in 2015  spoke of the “struggle against radical Islam, the kind of struggle this country has not faced since its great wars.” He warned that “evil is all around us,” citing reports of terror plots, and cautioned the congregation not to be deterred by those who might call them “Islamophobes or bigots.”
The Kansas lawmaker is best known in the national media for his zealous investigations of Hillary Clinton’s response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. government facility in Benghazi . . . He has pushed for broad National Security Agency powers and supports interrogation techniques broadly viewed as torture.

So, yeah, that's the guy you want to put in charge of determining which human rights are "inalienable." The guy who's fine with torture.

Oh, and he's real strong on religious freedom. He totally believes that people should be free to practice their faith as they see fit. Except for Muslims, of course!

Earlier this year, the congressman shocked the Islamic Society of Wichita, a local mosque in his district, by publishing a statement denouncing the group for inviting a speaker he alleged had ties to Hamas. The speaker had spoken four times to the mosque in the past without incident.
But Pompeo, in his statement, released without prior notice to the mosque, charged that the Islamic Society of Wichita’s event was an insult because it coincided with the Christian holiday of Good Friday, and that if the mosque failed to rescind the invitation, they would be “responsible for the damage among religious faiths that is sure to follow.”

 Pompeo appeared on Secure Freedom Radio, a program hosted by anti-Muslim campaigner Frank Gaffney, to boast that he had used Gaffney’s organization as a resource to research the speaker. Gaffney is notorious for spreading fears about Muslims, claiming absurdly that President Obama is “still” a Muslim, that Gov. Chris Christie had committed “treason” for appointing a Muslim judge. He runs a website that claims that Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology bent on destroying Western civilization.

So, yeah. A guy who supports Frank Fucking Gaffney, a guy who believes that Muslims should not be allowed to hold any governmental positions, that to appoint a MUslim to the bench is actually "treason," That's the guy who's going to decide who has what rights.

The panel is being headed up by former US ambassador to the Vatican

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 Mary Ann Glendon.

Here are a few excerpts from an interview she gave to Crux, a website dedicated to "taking the Catholic Pulse."

ROME - Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon believes the entire human rights movement has fallen victim to a new form of skepticism that risks bringing it to collapse, with religious freedom being in the most precarious position.

Glendon said her biggest concern is for religious freedom, which she said risks “becoming a second-class right that is regularly, or too often, subordinated to a whole range of other rights, claims and interests,” particularly in the United States.

Oh, good. Someone who thinks that rights are a zero-sum game is heading up the human rights panel.

While it might seem surprising, Glendon said there are a number of prominent legal academics arguing to toss out religious freedom laws on grounds that, with freedom of speech and expression and assembly, a law specifically guaranteeing religious liberty is “a relic of a superstitious [age],” and is no longer necessary.

No there aren't. No "prominent legal academics" are arguing that we should get rid of religious freedom. If there were, she would be able to name at least one. How many does she name?

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So what are Pompeo and Glendon saying about their approach to the whole "rights" thing?"

In remarks at the State Department on Monday, Pompeo noted that “words like ‘rights’ can be used by good or evil,” decrying how some have “hijacked” human rights rhetoric to be used for “dubious or malignant purposes.”

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Holy shit! Just leading right off with the whole "too many rights are bad" theory!

Glendon, in brief comments, echoed that, telling reporters that "basic human rights are misunderstood by many, manipulated by many, and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators."

Oh, and here's a couple more things she said to Crux:

Another major concern for Glendon is in developing nations, where “Western-funded human rights organizations are coming in and claiming universal human rights status for their agenda, treating people in those countries as if they are ignorant and they better get with the human rights program.”

“It smacks of neocolonialism, and makes people very angry,” she said, adding that at the moment, “very little is known about the financing of the scores of NGOs that are promoting one right or another.”

Neo-colonialism. Yeah, 'cuz did you ever think that maybe some countries don't want to have rights for people? Hmm? Ever think about that? If some other countries want to kill people with different political or religious views, what right do we have to tell them otherwise? Unless the people being persecuted are Christians, then obviously you have a moral obligation to intervene.

When it comes to church-state relations, particularly the current push for abortion and euthanasia to be declared human rights, Glendon said the debate needs to happen but outside of a courtroom.
“If the issues are decided in the courts, you’re going to get an all-or-nothing decision where it makes the losers very angry and disappointed,” she said.

And she would know, as her people have been on the losing side of these court decisions for a while now. If they had been winning these court cases, I'm sure she would be equally concerned with the feelings of the losers.

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Also, yeah, I can see where all-or-nothing decisions about rights might be problematic. I mean, what if the courst just decided that, hey, LGBT people should have all the exact same rights and priveleges ans any other human being? Isn't it better to slowly add in a couple rights at a time? Maybe they can serve in the military, if they don't let anyone know who they are. Then, maybe they can serve openly. Then, maybe they can get married now. Then maybe some day down the road, we make it so that there aren't a couple dozen states where a person can be fired for being gay. You have to approach these things slowly, or otherwise, the bigots will be "very angry and disappointed." And we can't have that. Their feelings need to be considered at least as much as other people's rights.

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“If we want to save our democratic experiment, it’s gotta take place in the realm of bargaining, education, persuasion, convincing your fellow citizens of the justice of your cause, and then you vote.”

Yes, if you think you should have human rights, you don't go to court! You have to convince everyone that you deserve to have rights. Then we vote on whether you get to have rights or not. It's called Democracy, people!

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Anyway, these people are going to decide what rights we have and who gets to have them. We are well and truly fucked.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Culture Warrior of the Day

EntertainmentGOP Senate Candidate Upset Over 'Homosexual Activities,' 'Wife-Swap TV Shows'

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Okay, first of all, let's dispense with the obvious. The television show "Wife Swap" was NOT about "wife-swapping." It was absolutely not about swinging. I know that the title of the show implies that it would be, but believe me, it was not. (Much to my chagrin).

A Republican Alabama official seeking to unseat Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in the 2020 election complained that “homosexual activities” have supplanted “good TV shows” of the 1950s and 1960s.

Seriously? There aren't good TV shows because people are too busy doing homosexual activities to make them?

“There are no more good TV shows on like ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Bonanza,’ ‘The Virginian,’ ‘Andy Griffith,’ ‘I Love Lucy.’ 

I don't know what you consider "good" TV shows, apparently Westerns mainly, but we just ended an absolute golden age of television with shows like Deadwood and Hell On Wheels that should satisfy any fan of classic horse operas.
And if you honestly think that sit-coms like Andy Griffith and I Love Lucy could hold a candle to Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, or Frasier then I'm not sure we really have anything to talk about. You think we don't have any good TV shows anymore? You must not have Netflix.

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We don’t have those shows anymore. We’re too interested in homosexual activities,” Senate candidate John Merrill, Alabama’s current secretary of state, said at a Saturday campaign event. 

Are there. . . are you seeing a lot of shows about homosexual activities?

Did you pay for the super extra premium cable package with all the adults-only channels? You know you could just turn on ESPN or something.

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Instead, Merrill said, Americans are “too interested” in seeing “how people are trying to date on TV” and “having wife-swapping on TV.”

Well, I'll give you that first point. There are definitely too many dating shows on TV. As for the second part, dude. Just turn off the Spice channel!

“The foundational principles which we have grown up as a nation are no more,” Merrill told

Yeah, the principles on which this country was founded, like "black people should be slaves" and "women shouldn't be allowed to vote" and "hey, let's kill all the Indians!" Whatever happened to those good old fashioned foundational principles?

He repeated his view that people are too willing to watch “the wife swap TV shows and the shows that are not morally uplifting” and not based on “biblical foundations.”

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Okay, once again - Where are you seeing all these shows about wife-swapping?

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And second, "biblical foundations?" You think shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza were based on "Biblical foundations?"

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Who would Jesus shoot?

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Turning the other cheek

God, will someone please tell these idiots that the culture wars are over and they lost? Of course, they still can't accept that they lost the Civil War, so it probably wouldn't do any good.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Worst Possible Take

This was some "news" organization's angle on the sickening Jeffery Epstein story:
(it's apparently from Forbes.)

From private island to private jet: What is 'billionaire' Jeffrey Epstein's net worth?

 Janna Herron and Kevin McCoy 8 hours ago 

Why? Why is this the question?
Who heard the horrific Jeffery Epstein story and thought "I wonder if he's really a billionaire? I think that's something my readers would want to know. I should really delve into this aspect of the appalling, horrifying sex-crimes story. Jeffery Epstein accused of heinous crimes against underage girls? Time for some investigative reporting! Does anyone have a contact at DeutscheBank? Can we get ahold of his tax returns? God damn it, our readers deserve to know whether this vile, loathsome serial rapist of children is really a billionaire or not!"

Oh, and here is the lede sentence:

Who is Jeffrey Epstein? It turns out that the descriptor most used to identify him over the past decades – billionaire – may not even apply.

Really? Is "billionaire" the descriptor most often used to describe Epstein?
Not "degenerate?"
Not "pervert?"
Not "sexual predator?"
Not "rapist?"
Not "child abuser?'
Not "vile, loathsome swine?"

The most definitive view came late on Friday, when federal prosecutors in New York said records obtained from a financial institution they did not identify showed that Epstein is worth more than $500 million and makes an estimated $10 million a year.Messages to Epstein's lawyers were not immediately returned. 

No! You don't say! It's almost as if Jeffery Epstein's lawyers have a bigger problem on their hands at the moment, what with their client being a serial sexual predator. (allegedly).It's almost as if not even his own fucking lawyers give a shit about how much money the son of a bitch has because WHY WOULD ANYONE CARE ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW?

One of the easier ways to gauge some of Epstein’s net worth is through his real estate holdings and other possessions, which were listed in a July 8 court filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Oh, yes. His real estate holdings. The various properties in which Epstein has (allegedly) RAPED UNDERAGE GIRLS! Yes, let's estimate the combined value of all the properties in which Epstein committed horrific sex crimes. Because that's what's important right now. His net fucking worth. That's what people care about.

Holy fuck, Forbes! I get that you're a financial publication and you instinctively are going to look for a financial angle in every story you cover, but maybe if the only angle you can come up with for a story about sexual predators is the (alleged) sexual predator's wealth? Maybe just leave that story alone.
jesus Christ!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Who's got two thumbs and is the most corrupt state in the Union? This Georgia!

Look out, New Jersey! Step aside, Illinois. The great state of Georgia is staking its claim to the title of Most Corrupt State in the Union.

We had a n election a little while back. You probably heard about it. Potential rising star Stacey Abrams ran for governor against slimy smarmy shady Republican Brian Kemp.

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The reason that you might have heard about the governor's race in our humble little state is that Brian Kemp, in addition to being one of the two candidates,was also at the same time, serving as Georgia's Secretary of State. I don't know how things work in your state, but here in Georgia, the Secretary of State is in charge of elections. So one of the two candidates for governor was the person who decided how many voting machines were allocated to each precinct, how much early voting would be allowed and who would be considered an eligible voter. And he smugly refused to hand over any of those duties to someone else. Now, this may come as a shock to you, but as it happened, heavily Democratic districts somehow ended up with fewer voting machines while, coincidentally, many voters with black-sounding names found themselves inexplicably removed from the voting rolls.

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Well, as it turns out, Kemp ended up winning by a narrow margin. (about 50% to 49%)

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Now we find out that the votes were counted not by election workers, but by one of those shady-as-hell voting machine companies. ES&S. (whose business address is, I just discovered, 11208 JOHN GALT Blvd.)

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Yes, ES&S was given a $300k contract BY BRIAN KEMP to count the votes in Brian Kemp's election which was overseen by Brian Kemp. And by a felicitous turn of luck, the winner was Brian Kemp. And no one is going to ever do anything about it.

Can it get worse? hahahaha of course it can! We're talking about Twenty First Century Republicans!

Okay, Georgia is one of those states where you have to show a driver's license to vote. Because otherwise, I would just put on a variety of different wigs and false moustaches and pretend to be all my neighbors and co-workers, casting votes for left-wing candidates in their names. And no one would be the wiser!

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Anyway, there are in Georgia some people from Puerto Rico. I don't know how many, probably more since the big hurricane, but there are some. And these people from Puerto Rico are, as you know but your conservative relatives do not, American citizens. Meaning that they can vote once they get Georgia driver's licences. Which should be a pretty simpole thing to do. I moved here from California and went to the DMV or whatever they call it here and basically traded in my California license for a shiny new Georgia one. Simple. Buuutttt, I guess someone figured out that Puerto Rican people might not be all that eager to vote for a party whose standard-bearer they last saw hucking paper towels at them while their island was drowning.

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So now there's this: Logo

The 43 questions Georgia asks Puerto Ricans who want a driver’s license

The governor of Puerto Rico today asked Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to address “disturbing irregularities” cited in a federal lawsuit that claims the state discriminates against Puerto Rico natives who apply for driver’s licenses – by asking questions about local politics, geography, sports and music.

When I came here from California, I was asked ZERO questions about local politics, geography, sports or music. I am a white guy, but that's probably just a coincidence.

We now have a bit more information on this state Department of Driver Services policy. Specifically, we have the 43 potential questions that the DDS has put together in a “Puerto Rican Interview Guide.”

Okay, how is that even legal? How are they even allowed to have an interview guide for a specific ethnicity? I mean,. I know no one cares about the law or the rules any more since the 2016 election, but holy fuck, this seems blatantly illegal. I hope someone is getting lawyers involved.

A copy of the guide was provided by attorneys for Kenneth Caban Gonzalez, who says he’s waited 600 days for his Georgia driver’s license – and still doesn’t have it.

Okay, good. Lawyers. Lawyers for a guy who. . . .SIX HUNDRED DAYS?!?!?!? What the HELL?

The DDS document says the material contained within was “taken from Diplomatic Security Service PR Interview Guide,” but it’s not clear whether that’s a federal source. 

Well, the Diplomatic Security Service is definitely a federal organization, but the Georgia Department of Driver Services has no business coordinating with them or using their materials. I assume that this "interview guide" is intended to trip up Cuban spies who are trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans for nefarious purposes. The state licensing bureau should have no aithority to "interview" anyone on their place of origin.

Now, as we were saying, the “Puerto Rican Interview Guide” has its trick questions:
-- “Where is Caguas Beach? Caguas is the largest inland city and has no beach.”
-- “How long is the San Juan-Fajardo train ride? There is no train.”
-- “How do citizens of Puerto Rico vote for President of the U.S. They cannot vote for the U.S. President.”

So the point of this is, what? To try and get a wrong answer form someone who maybe doesn't speak great English and might misunderstand the question so that you have an excuse to deny that person a driver's license?

Updated at 6 p.m.: Shevondah Leslie, the DDS director of communications, just called to say that the “Puerto Rican Interview Guide” was never authorized by DDS authorities, but was unable to say in whose possession the document was in when it surfaced during the lawsuit discovery process -- last December, before Kemp took office.

So no one even knows how or why they have this thing? I mean,we know why. but they don't even have a rationale?
And Kemp may have had nothing to do with this, but Georgia has been run by slimy crooked Republicans since we moved here. )Our last governor was the unscrupulous Nathan Deal. Before Deal, it was Sonny Purdue who is currently serving as tRump's Secretary of Agriculture).

Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce also sent us this statement:

“Governor Kemp expects state employees to follow the law and treat every constituent with dignity and respect. Our team has spoken with DDS Commissioner Spencer Moore and asked him to conduct a full investigation into these claims.”

Oh, good! Because if you really want to get to the bottom of soemthing like this, the best way is to have the agency investigate itself!
Problem solved!

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Monday, July 1, 2019

We Don't Need You and We Don't Care What You Think.

They're so predictable. You could set your watch by them.
Every election year, all the very serious conservatives come out of the woodwork to sincerely offer their good-faith advice to the Democratic candidates.

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Here's Tom Nichols in the pages of USA Today:


Never Trumper: I'll vote for almost any Democrat, but lurching left won't beat Trump

This election is a referendum on Trump, and nothing else should come close as the central issue. His name alone should be enough to drive up turnout.

Oh, a "Never Trumper!" Oh, you're a member of that important demographic? Oh, well, by all means, you just go right ahead and dictate terms to the Democratic Party! You're such a valuable voting block! All half-dozen of you! The electoral importance of "Never Trumpers" ranks just above "Babies" and just below "Cryptozoology Moms" Of course you should be in a position to make demands about what kind of candidate you will accept from the opposing party.

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Never Trumpers, of whom I am a charter member, fear that the Democrats and their unruly coalition are going to lurch to the left, lose the Electoral College again, and hand Trump a second term while the Democratic nominee claims another victory as the imperial regent of the Pacific Coast Empire.

Oh. Okay. Well why don't we nominate a bland, inoffensive middling moderate then? Someone with a lot of experience who won't go too far on any issue. Someone who likes Obamacare but assures us that single payer will never happen. Someone who talks about the environment but likes fracking and oil pipelines. Someone who thinks it might be okay to raise the minimum wage, but raising it to a livable level is just unreasonable! Someone like, oh, I don't know, Hillary Clinton?

Look, Tom. We don't need your vote. We don't need any of you "never Trump" Republicans' votes. You are not relevant. Trump got fewer votes in 2016 than Mitt Romney got in 2012. If the Clinton campaign had been able to energize the Democratic base the way Obama had in 2008 and 2012, she would have won. And it ain't like there's going to be any new Trump voters this time around. I don't think he's won over any skeptics with three years of buffoonery, graft and racist sadism. All the Democrats will need to do is generate some excitement among their voters. And you know how you don't do that? By nominating someone who is acceptable to a Never Trump Republican. If you people were at all sincere about your "never Trump" stand, you'd have voted for Hillary Clinton. And if you had any electoral power, you would have put her over the top. You didn't and you don't. We don't need your votes and we don't care what you think.

And of course David Brooks had to weigh in.

Dems, Please Don’t Drive Me Away

David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

Oh, yeah. We'd sure hate to lose David Brooks and the tens of readers over whom he has influence. Why, there must be at least a score of Times Readers who don't hate-read read David Brooks' column, but honestly look to Brooks for his insight and wisdom!

I could never in a million years vote for Donald Trump. So my question to Democrats is: Will there be a candidate I can vote for?

This is a hell of a premise, and Brooks isn't the first to use it. "I could never vote for Trump, he's a racist, misogynist clown who is dangerously unqualified and too unstable to be trusted with the nuclear codes. I would never vote to put such a monstrous fool back into the most powerful office in the land. Unless the Dems nominate someone I don't like!" If you honestly understand the threat of another Trump term, you would vote for anyone the Dems put up. But by saying that you won't, you show that you really aren't serious.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 35 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, 35 percent call themselves moderate and 26 percent call themselves liberal. The candidates at the debates this week fall mostly within the 26 percent. The party seems to think it can win without any of the 35 percent of us in the moderate camp, the ones who actually delivered the 2018 midterm win.

Oh my God, where to begin?
How about since when are you a "moderate?" Just being a bit to the left of the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer hardly makes you a moderate.
Also, when you say "liberal," I assume you are using that term interchangably with "progressive" or "leftist," since you only allow for three categories. And if you think that candidates like Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gilibrand, John Hickenlooper, Pete Butiegieg, and Beto O'Rourke are on the Left, that just goes to show how far to the right you actually are.
Ans what eveidence do you have that "moderates" delivered the 2018 midterm wins? This would be the electoral wave that brought Ayanna Presley, Lucy McBath, Chuy Garcia, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Debra Haaland and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to DC? Is that the electoral victory for which you think "moderates" deserve credit?

Oh, and one more thing. Does it occur to you that a lot of people don't identify themselves as "liberal" because that word has been poisoned for the last 30-some-odd years by Republicans hurling it as invective and Democrats trying to duck it? Does it occur to you that, no matter how many people identify themselves as "moderate" or "liberal" or whatever, progressive policies like Medicare for All and a $15/hr minimum wage are actually quite popular? That maybe people who support these progressive/liberal policies call themselves "moderates" because these things just seem like common-sense ideas?

The party is moving toward all sorts of positions that drive away moderates and make it more likely the nominee will be unelectable. A

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You say "unelectable" but the polling shows that the two leftiest candidates in the Dem primary would both beat Trump in the general election.So there's no need to settle for a dull centrist like Biden, whose polling numbers v Trump aren't much better and he has yet to unleash the gaffe machine.

Polling Data

PollDateSampleMoEWarren (D)Trump (R)Spread
RCP Average3/27 - 6/24----48.344.7Warren +3.6
Emerson6/21 - 6/241096 RV2.95347Warren +6
FOX News6/9 - 6/121001 RV3.04341Warren +2
Quinnipiac6/6 - 6/101214 RV3.54942Warren +7
Rasmussen Reports5/12 - 5/235000 LV1.54644Warren +2
Emerson5/10 - 5/131006 RV3.05249Warren +3
CNN4/25 - 4/29452 RV5.64748Trump +1
PPP (D)3/27 - 3/28846 RV3.44842Warren +6

Polling Data

PollDateSampleMoESanders (D)Trump (R)Spread
RCP Average3/27 - 6/24----49.743.2Sanders +6.5
Emerson6/21 - 6/241096 RV2.95545Sanders +10
FOX News6/9 - 6/121001 RV3.04940Sanders +9
Quinnipiac6/6 - 6/101214 RV3.55142Sanders +9
CNN4/25 - 4/29456 RV5.65044Sanders +6
Rasmussen Reports3/31 - 4/115000 LV1.54447Trump +3
PPP (D)3/27 - 3/28846 RV3.44941Sanders +8

There are others, of course. Plenty of other conservatives who just want to be helpful and offer some solid advice to the Democrats. Ross Douthat phoned it in, kind of giving the game away.

Yes, it is the same bullshit Every. Damn. Time. Thank you for copping to it, Douche Hat.

Look, here's the thing. There are more of us (Dems/Libs/Progs) than there are of you (Republicans/Conservatives/Right-wingers). And there are a HELL of a lot more of us than there are "Never Trumpers." We Don't Need You. We don't care what you think. You people have been on the wrong side of every issue ever.

Also, we already tried it your way. Remember Chuck Schumer's strategy for 2016?

 “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

I think we all remember how that turned out.

So, here's the deal. We will decide on our own nominee. If we want to nominate a centrist like Biden or Beto or Butiegieg, we will nominate a centrist. If we decide to nominate the ghost of Che Guevarra, we will nominate the ghost of Che Guevarra. And if that results in a smattering of  "Never Trump"conservative Republicans voting for Trump as if they weren't already going to do that, it won't matter one bit. WE DON"T NEED YOU> AND WE DON"T CARE WHAT YOU THINK.