Category Archives: Politics

Religious scumbags, racist remarks and more political links

As a Christian, I realize despise some of the right-wing shitbags who belong to my faith.

For example, megachurch pastor Andy Savage confesses to assaulting a teenager twenty years ago (confessing because she’d gone public), describing it as a sexual incident. His church stands by him and wishes his victim was on the same “path to healing” as Savage is. Trump spiritual adviser Paula White tells people to send her one month’s pay or God will punish them (this kind of scam does seem to fit with Trump’s spirituality, of course).  Religious gay-loather Matt Saver insists gay judges cannot rule fairly on any case involving Christians.

Pastor Tom Fuerst argues that preachers who don’t speak out against racism “are not teaching Jesus.” Amy Sullivan suggests, however, that’s because rightwing evangelicals have a new concept of Christianity — Fox news evangelicism. Right-wing evangelical David French’s (of the Consensual Sex Is Bad wing of Christianity) solution: stop using the word evangelical.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Christianity is somehow compatible with worshipping Trump and lying her teeth off every day, but that’s still no reason (as one blogger did recently) to throw the “c-word” at her. Gendered slams aren’t acceptable just because the target is a conservative woman.

Sanders’ boss, of course, has dismissed the nonwhite world as “shithole countries.” Surprise, Republicans are not criticizing him as hard as Dems. They never will as long as he can nominate more right-wing judges and destroy government regulations and sign anything they give him. And yes, Trump’s argument is racist. As is Kansas Republican State Rep. Steve Alford’s claim the reason pot was banned in the 1930s was because blacks are genetically pot-heads. But Alford’s totally not racist, at least according to himself.

You can count on any Trump policy to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. And afflicting wildlife too.

Republican voters hate elites, but they’ve convinced themselves billionaire Trump isn’t really one.

Right-wing pundits used to dismiss Obama as some illiterate fraud reading off a teleprompter. But when Trump reads off a teleprompter, that proves he’s smart.

David Brooks, a man who believes we should just shut up and obey our leaders, and that if Republicans say they’re going to help the poor it doesn’t matter whether they actually do, unsurprisingly thinks Trump is doing a good job, it’s everyone who thinks he’s an idiot who’s at fault.

Slacktivist says the point of Oprah’s Golden Globes speech isn’t that she should be president, but that we should all be the change we want to see in the world.

Echidne reminds us that sexual harassment at work isn’t just about sex, it’s about job opportunities lost.

Trump tried to wreck the Iran nuclear deal. So far, he’s failed. Once again, we’re lucky he’s so inept.

 

 

 

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is actually a politician? OMG!

According to the Daily Beast’s Ciro Scotti, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the wrong horse for Democrats to back in 2020 (not a direct link). How so?

She’s ambitious. And driven by ambition, she’s “too transparently opportunistic to be a viable candidate” because she picks her positions based on political calculation rather than gut feeling. And this is a fatal flaw in the 21st century: “The word that defines the zeitgeist is ‘genuine,’ and one big reason Trump retains a core of support is that whatever you think of him, what you see is what you get.”

As the Caterpillar said to Alice, this is wrong from beginning to end. Taking it bit by bit:

Anyone who runs for president is ambitious.

This would seem obvious. It’s the most powerful position in the country, perhaps the world, and only one person can be president at a time. Unambitious people ain’t gonna make it. Nevertheless, “ambitious” is a standard template for politicians pundits dislike. John Kerry was “too ambitious.” Al Gore would “lick the floor to be president.” Criticizing Gillibrand for ambition says more about Scotti than her (and may be just plain sexist, her being an ambitious woman).

Politicians tack with the winds — that’s part of politics.

I’d love to vote for a politician whose personal beliefs exactly matched mine. But I’ll settle for one whose polices match the ones I want, and Gillibrand may qualify (it’s way too early for me to pick). That’s how politics works.If someone supports those policies solely because the Democratic Party is trending leftward, I can live with that. Clinton in 2016 was way to the left of where she was in the 1990s, because the party (and by and large the country) has shifted left. She’d have done a much better job than “genuine” Trump.

“Genuine” doesn’t define the zeitgeist.

The Daily Howler website has grumbled for years about how pundits make being “genuine” or “authentic” a big issue. It sounds like a reasonable metric but it’s very subjective. Hilary Clinton having been tagged as phony and inauthentic years ago, pundits simply assume everything she does is phony. When Clinton said in one interview that her favorite childhood film is The Wizard of Oz — one article on HuffPo insisted she was lying: why else would she claim to like a movie millions of people liked as children? She’s so — inauthentic! Conversely Bush II, the Yalie who reinvented himself as a plain-spoken Texas man of the soil, was accepted as “authentic” so his tastes were too. By contrast,  I have never seen any particular evidence voters care, except when pundits browbeat them about it (Don’t Vote For X He Isn’t Genuine).

And what exactly is genuine about Trump? He promised an increased social safety net and an improved, more affordable Obamacare but he ain’t doing shit for either of them. He’s bounced around on gay rights, depending on his audience (that would seem to be tacking) and backed off from his birtherism when it got politically inconvenient. He denies things he’s said or done just a few days before (he didn’t support Moore gosh no, and he hardly knew Steve Bannon). Trumpites aren’t responding to some abstract authenticity — what draws them is that he’s authentically racist and sexist. That’s a lousy template for Dems to follow. “Genuine” is also the cover some people offer for Trump’s incoherence — the media hate him because he’s fresh and outspoken — but that’s no template either.

But I’m sure we’ll see more criticism of Gillibrand along these lines, that danged ambitious, uppity woman.

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My first political link-post of 2018! Gasp in awe!

Vox explains why the fall of Weinstein, Franken, Keillor, Lauer, etc. without a conviction does not violate their rights. And no, it won’t be the death of flirting.

According to Trump and Breitbart backer Robert Mercer, the Civil Rights Act was bad, and things like Jim Crow and lynching just weren’t important. As noted at the link, this seems “really racist.” It’s the equivalent of the sexist argument women were better off when they were the property of their husbands and couldn’t vote. Slacktivist linked to the Mercer piece and other postcards from the culture wars.

As several bloggers have pointed out, the calls for Hilary Clinton to shut up and retire from public life have no precedent (McCain didn’t shut up, Kerry didn’t shut up, Palin didn’t shut up, Romney may replace Orrin Hatch in the Senate). Echidne looks at this some more.

When NYC Mayor Bill deBlaisio ended New York’s “stop and frisk” program (the one where police hassled black people for the crime of walking around black), conservatives predicted anarchy and apocalypse. Instead, crime rates plummeted, so right-wing pundits have an explanation: it’s not deBlasio who gets the credit, it’s Trump.

I’m pretty sure when the leader of the White House Bible study group says it’s the government’s job to punish sin, the irony of saying this while serving a lying, sexual harasser who bears false witness against his neighbor and cheats people he’s in business with escapes him. Or maybe it doesn’t and he doesn’t give a crap. Likewise Gary Bauer, religious right-winger who compares liberals to the Taliban, suddenly pretends Taliban metaphors offend him.

A survey indicates evangelicals are very pro-science. Slacktivist points out that’s because the science they believe — gay is a mental illness, the Earth is 6,000 years old, contraceptives kill babies and cause breast cancer — is wrong.

There is no bottom to the craziness of conspiracy theorists.

Orrin Hatch is retiring. He won’t be missed.

You’ve probably noticed over the past year that a lot of Republicans hate Hilary Clinton (“Lock her up!”). Here’s a golden oldie, National Review columnist John Derbyshire saying he hates Chelsea Clinton and wants to see her and her parents put to death.

Jeff Sessions has notified federal prosecutors around the country that he’s dropping an Obama policy against prosecuting legal pot. Is it just that Sessions is an antique who gets his ideas about marijuana from Reefer Madness or that he’s getting payoffs from the prison-industrial complex? Oh, and Sessions is also working hard to roll-back disability protection.

During the Obama years, conservative pundits such as David Brooks and Ross Douthat saw the deficit as the greatest threat to America’s future, so Obama better get busy gutting Social Security and Medicare and not spending on anything new. Now that the Repubs just piled up future debt via the new tax legislation, Douthat’s suddenly discovered deficits are unimportant — which I suspect will change again as soon as a Democrat gets into office. The column is an impressively piece of threading the needle in other ways, as Douthat simultaneously praises Trump (he put Gorsuch on the Supreme Court! And he’s nominating other anti-gay judges) while assuring readers he’s not totally convinced Trump won’t be a disaster down the road (apparently the past year didn’t convince him).

So apparently white nationalists are now admitting the Confederacy was about slavery.

Three of four Congressional investigations into Russian interference in US elections have decided to investigate Clinton or the Democrats instead. LGM adds more thoughts. When Trump’s gone and current Congressional Republicans denounce him, they’ll be lying — when it counted, they took his side. As do white evangelicals. Which isn’t new.

President Shit-Gibbon trying to prevent publication of a book criticizing him is a bad thing (legally it’s way more serious than suing after it came out). And as James Fallows points out, what the book says about Trump is an open secret.

Trump isn’t trying to distract us with his use of Twitter, he’s reflexively tweeting whatever’s on Fox News.

Slacktivist discusses and dismisses the idea that having freedom of religion conflicts with the ban on the government imposing religion. It doesn’t.

 

 

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This is the future conservatives don’t want

One of the recurrent claims of the past year has been that Republicans aren’t voting for Trump, they’re voting against all the people who judge them and criticize them and don’t accept their way of life. As I’ve mentioned before, I think that’s tommyrot: what drives them (or a great many of them) is anger that they can’t judge us without getting blowback. If they lecture us on how women who work or don’t submit to their husbands are ungodly or how rape victims have it coming, they get criticized — and that, in their eyes, is oppression and thought policing. What they’re doing is simply saying the simple truth.

But beyond that, we get things like this (which is not new, so probably many of you have seen it before). Put it by some right-wing group it’s supposed to be AAAAH Horrifying.

And to some conservatives it is. Not because they’ll be forced to approve of these people or dress like them, or because any stray Christian preacher will be forced by law to hold a Muslim gay wedding. Simply because they exist. And in the future liberals want, they exist unafraid, sitting there (at least in the future I want) without worrying about being bullied, harassed. They have the right to sit there, as much as any Republican; they have a right to co-exist. And many conservatives think having to co-exist, having to acknowledge the Other’s rights, is a violation of conservative safe space principles. Absurd as it seems to me, I’m sure some conservatives do indeed react to it with utter horror.

Too bad for them. At this point even with Breitbart and Fox News pushing assorted right-wing themes, I don’t think they can turn attitudes back to the 1950s. However they can make it as hard to be gay, black, Muslim or independent female as possible. Give employers more rights to fire and hire based on moral judgments. Choke off access to birth control and abortion. Entitle businesses to refuse customers who offend their faith (and no-one else’s — I doubt that refusing Paul Ryan service because he does not give his cloak to the beggar or care for the orphan would find favor). In  the long run, they’ll lose, but as the saying goes, in the long run we’ll all be dead.

But looking at the photo reminds me of one thing: the side that accepts this future is better than the side that recoils from it.

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Quotes on the first year of Trump (and a few links to boot)

Lance Mannion: “Four of the last six Republican presidents either ran their administrations as criminal enterprises or harbored and nurtured criminal enterprises within them. Nixon, Reagan, George W. Bush, and now Donald Trump.”

Timothy Burke: “If America needs to be great again, it first needs to stop letting the people who love that slogan have their own way.

Slacktivist on Christianity as going beyond the zero-sum game: “that’s not how Pentecost works. It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s not musical chairs Everybody means everybody. And “everybody else” doesn’t mean anything because there is no “else.”

Adam Serwer: ” What I found was that Trump embodied his supporters’ most profound beliefs—combining an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.”

The Anti-Defamation League looks at right-wing terrorism:  “This lengthy string of dangerous attacks and plots illustrates how deeply seated the threat of right-wing terrorism is in the United States. ”

No More Mr. Nice Blog: “There is a [moral] high ground — but voters need to be reminded again and again that Republicans individually and collectively occupy the lowest possible ground.”

CNN’s Chris Cillizza: “[Trump’s] operating principle in life can be boiled down to “I’ll show you. I’ll show you all!” And so his Tweet-feuding with the father of someone he helped out becomes normal presidential conduct.

Lauren Duca: “Perhaps the one optimistic take on this godforsaken year is that we’ve begun to recall that the American project is not a historical accomplishment to be celebrated but instead an ongoing process of figuring out how we ought to live together … We’re all too angry, but nothing will change if we don’t find a way to convert that energy into action. The future of democracy depends on it.”

Police in Georgia felt up several hundred high school students searching for drugs. And didn’t find any. And had no warrant or other authority to conduct the search.

Oregon is supposed to be a model for oversight of police — but it’s a bad model.

Something Ronald Reagan doesn’t get credit for often enough: gutting school lunch programs.

Right-Wing Watch: “There was no way that Trump could keep his promises to the Religious Right—which delivered an overwhelming majority of white evangelical voters to Trump—without sacrificing the rights and well-being of LGBTQ Americans.”

No More Mr. Nice Blog on one piece of both-sides-are-at-fault reporting: “Yes, there’s the message: The loophole survived because it has backing from Democrats as well as Republicans, even though no Democrats had input into the writing of the bill.”

Blue states generate the revenue that generates the federal aid that helps prop up red states. A conservative struggles to demonstrate it’s the other way around.

Senate Republicans can accept a trillion-dollar deficit caused by giving themselves a tax cut, they can’t accept $75 billion for sick children.

So under a Trump department of labor proposal, restaurants could collect wait-staff tip money — and just keep it.

Roy Edroso on how the right-wing’s Never Trump side keeps forgetting the never part.

 

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NC Sen. Thom Tillis lies a lot (and more political links)

I’ve mentioned Tillis’s bullshit statements about the Affordable Care Act and how he’s trying to make insurance more affordable by killing ACA. Now he’s explaining his support for the GOP tax bill is because it “will lead to bigger paychecks for hardworking Americans.” Unless he defines hardworking Americans as “rich people, including myself,” he’s lying again. Sen. Richard Burr voted for the tax monstrosity too, so I’m sure he’d lie about it if he ever responded to my letters.

Not that the rest of the Repubs are much better. Rep. Paul Ryan wants us to know it’s a heartbreaking burden to labor on as Speaker of the House, cutting taxes on himself and fighting so he doesn’t have to pay estate tax. He’s a noble soul who just wants to stay in office long enough to gut Social Security and Medicare (sure, he went to college on Social Security Disability, but he doesn’t need it now, does he?), then retire to be with his family. So tragic.

Equally tragic: The media pretending the Republicans really wanted a better bill.

And then there’s the last minute decision that allows people who set up their businesses as limited liability companies take extra deductions if, like President Shit-Gibbon and Bob Corker, they’re in real estate.

A police officer refuses to believe trans people really suffer higher rates of police violence. A female captain tells the man he’s showing his privilege. The captain gets suspended.

Slacktivist looks at the symbolism and problems of Trump declaring Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The belief of some religious conservatives that this is good because it helps advance us toward the Apocalypse strikes me as the worst kind of arrogance, a conviction that if they play their cards right they can make the Second Coming happen on their schedule.

An Oklahoma preacher allegedly used his church’s phone number for a prostitution ring he ran.

How Steve Bannon tried to take down Twitter. And in supporting Roy Moore, Bannon seems to have taken down himself. Although right-wing pundits are desperately trying to blame Moore’s defeat on Mitch McConnell instead (or Christians who got unreasonably freaked out by Roy Moore molesting children) Trump, of course, having endorsed Moore now claims he never had much hope for him. And John Rogers of Leverage explains that no, George Soros couldn’t have bused an extra 20,000 fake voters into Alabama.

Reagan declared we should make it harder to vote, something people have to struggle to achieve. Lance Manion points out that the people who advocate this aren’t exactly crossing trackless jungles to deliver their ballots.

Assessing sexual harassment cases when we don’t know the charges.

Rebecca Traister points out the issue in harassment cases isn’t the assault on women’s virtue but the damage to their ability to earn a living.

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Roy Moore lost. My jaw is dropping.

Because I would have bet money Moore’s Bible thumping, racism and sexism would put him across. In fact I did bet TYG money ($5) and I’m delighted to pay up.

I’ve heard arguments Moore’s extreme positions, like thinking America would be better off if we eliminated every amendment but the Bill of Rights (goodbye women’s suffrage, ending slavery) and believing that the last time America was great was during slavery, would be crippling for the Republican Party (or left-wing arguments Jones isn’t liberal enough so there’s no reason for liberals to prefer him to Moore). But I think the effect of mainstreaming someone as extreme and evil as Moore would be worse. Losing to Doug Jones is a good thing for America. And a good sign for Democrats, because even though the race involved some lucky breaks, if we can win in Alabama …

That said, I doubt Moore will fade from the scene. As a judge, he was removed from office twice and re-elected. Even if Alabama’s done with him, he can play Christian martyr for the rest of his life and be lionized by true believers (right-winger Dave Daubenmire has already stated the way Moore should have handled the underage-girls issue was to lie for Jesus). And as I’ve mentioned before, it’s not just Moore and Trump, there’s a whole cesspool that needs cleaning. Other Christian supremacist bigots are planning to run. Right wingers Carl Gallups and Mike Shoesmith who believe women who dress too sexy are guilty of sexual assault, and that the recent charges of sexual assault and harassment are just part of a plot for women to nag their way into power.

Then we have recently removed Congressman Trent Franks, a right-wing mess even without asking employees to become surrogate mothers for him. Or the guy who thinks vaccines make people gay. Or more whiny white people insisting that a continent settled first by Native Americans, then by Hispanics somehow qualifies as a white homeland. It’s as absurd as Moore’s delusion the US is supposed to be a Christian theocracy. Or the Treasury’s tax analysis which lies about tax cuts. Or the elected official who thinks being patted on the arm by another man is a gay come-on. Or right-wing terrorists who want a jury of Trump voters.

But despite all that … Jones won. The better people of Alabama won. We all won. The Washington Post gets kudos for its reportage on the sex scandals, and the woman who were brave enough to come forward get more.

It isn’t the beginning of the end, and I don’t know that it’s the end of the beginning, but it’s a very big deal.

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