Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Talibangelists Lose Another Round In Arkansas

The Republican Governor of Arkansas, Asa "Not Assa" Hutchinson, at the urging of the party's big money donors (including Walmart), has decided to punt the discriminatory anti-LGBT bill back to the Bible-bangers in his state assembly for revision.  Just a day or two earlier, he vowed to sign the bill, which parallels the bill in Indiana that has drawn national criticism and shame on its backers.

In a press conference earlier today, Not Assa looked sheepish as he claimed to want to bring the bill in line with the Federal law, which doesn't give an opening for private businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers.  He noted correctly that this has created a generational divide, with his own son signing a petition to him to veto the bill.  We're certain that his phone line is burning up with the howls of Talibangelists who want their religious freedom to deny products or services based on someone's sexual orientation -- just like Jesus would have done….or something.

April Fool!

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(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

Mid-Week Fool Song

In recognition of April Fool's Day, here's the Beatles' sweet  ballad "Fool on the Hill" from their 1967 "Magical Mystery Tour" album.  Enjoy, and hope you don't get punked today.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Republican-Who-Will-Never-Be-President Profile

Charles Pierce profiles one of the third (or fifth) tier potential Republican presidential candidates:
Carly Fiorina, who has failed spectacularly at business and even more spectacularly at politics, is now thinking of running for president based on her staggering career success. [snip]
I have heard of humble-bragging, but this is an entirely new tactic -- failure-bragging. At Hewlett-Packard, she nearly ran the company into Middle Earth, bragged about outsourcing jobs when she did it, and was generally so incompetent a manager that the company paid her millions of dollars to never darken its towels again. This is the record on which she is running for president. Also, no porn at work, or she's going to outsource the Department of Agriculture to a sweatshop in Bangladesh.
Fiorina's main utility for Republicans will be to appear on all the Serious News Shows to refute the notion that there's a Republican War on Women.  She'll be there to demonstrate that, when it came to outsourcing jobs at Hewlett-Packard, there was no discrimination:  you got a pink slip whether you were a man or a woman.

(Image:  "I'm going to run you into the ground, America, just like I did with Hewlett-Packard!")

Good To Know Who's Supporting The Bigots

As the backlash against Indiana's anti-LGBT law grows, there are some who have another opinion about the law:
Republican presidential hopefuls are lining up in defense of Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law, which critics warn will open the door to legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals by businesses in the state.
“I think Gov. [Mike] Pence has done the right thing,” former Florida governor and likely 2016 contender Jeb Bush said in a Monday interview. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”
As a reason why such laws are necessary, Bush pointed to the case of a Washington state florist who was fined for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.  (our emphasis)
The tell right there is Jebbie Bush's example of the florist who refused service to a same-sex couple.  ("But it's not about discrimination! =wink=wink= ")  "Moderate" Jebbie needs to brush up on the Indiana Republican talking points, which seek to obfuscate the potential for anti-LGBT discrimination as represented by the Washington State florist example.

Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio, Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz, Gov. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, and Ben "On Meds?" Carson have also stated their support for the anti-LGBT law.  Koch employee of the year and vanquisher of ISIS labor unions Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker has effectively shrugged and run in the other direction when asked about his views (a man of many minds has no mind at all, it's said).

Let's make sure the American public remembers this shameful episode, and the response of Republican presidential bigots hopefuls, as November 2016 approaches.

BONUS:  As if any further proof were needed, this is how the anti-LGBT law is seen in reality by the good upstanding Christians knuckle-draggers.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Duckworth Announces For Senate In Illinois

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mark Kirk, putting the seat in more danger for the Rethuglicans in 2016. Duckworth, a double amputee combat veteran of the Iraq War, is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.  Kirk, who is in his first term, has been a pretty reliable vote for the Republican / New Confederate / Stupid Party's policy of obstruction.  He was one of the signers of the infamous letter to Iran's leaders concerning talks on nuclear disarmament.  Having suffered a serious stroke in early 2012, Kirk has been making progress in his rehabilitation.

Duckworth ran a courageous race for her seat in 2012 against corrupt wingnut and deadbeat dad Joe "Joke" Walsh, who ran a slimy, cowardly campaign against her and lost.

Heeeerre's Trevor

Comedy Central has announced that the replacement for the irreplaceable Jon Stewart on The Daily Show will be South African-born comedian Trevor Noah.  Noah has appeared on The Daily Show a few times, but is not as well known as some of the regulars.

We're hoping he has -- or can develop -- Stewart's sense of comedic outrage at hacks in politics and the general culture alike, from the treatment of veterans and our environment, to right-wing politicians and their media allies.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon: Cruz-ing To Victory

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(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Sermon

Under extraordinary pressure from business and other groups, Indiana's Republican Gov. Mike "Dense" Pence now says he's in favor of legislation  "clarifying" the recent anti-LGBT law that allows businesses to refuse service to LBGT people on the basis of "religious beliefs."  The catch, of course, is that he says it won't carve out an exception for LGBT people -- "not my agenda."

As the estimable John Fugelsang said on MSNBC
“You know, being gay is natural, hating gays is a lifestyle choice, and Mike Pence should be very very grateful there isn’t a law that prohibits businesses from serving fake Christian bigots."
UPDATE:  Dense apparently has no problem lying about what the law does, and comparing it to a law that then-State Senator Obama voted for in Illinois or the Federal law signed over 20 years ago by President Clinton.

UPDATE II:  One Republican lawmaker in Indiana expects to see "No Gays Allowed" signs in his state.  Well done, bigot.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

His Unlucky Number

New Hampshire's Grafton County Republican Committee came up with the idea for a fundraiser to auction ties donated by prospective Republican candidates in 2016 -- all eighteen (!) of them.  That didn't turn out to be such a great idea as far as short-fingered vulgarian and birther buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump:
"Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump was among the 18 possible Republican White House hopefuls who contributed a tie to the auction.

But when the online auction ended at midnight on Saturday, the famously well-dressed Trump -- the one prospective candidate in the field who sells his own line of neckwear -- finished in a disappointing 13th place." (emphasis added)
The fact that he was beaten by such lightweights as nutcase bomb thrower John "Pornstache" Bolton and -- this is rich -- former Maryland Gov. Bob Erlich (who, what?) indicates that Rump's ego far outdistances his appeal, even to the hardcore base.

Willie Nelson: Cannabis Capitalist

One of America's (and progressives') most beloved artists, Willie Nelson, 81, has announced he's segueing from his long-time advocacy for marijuana legalization into a business venture:
... [W]e’re talking about why he puts on the [Heartbreaker Banquet fundraiser/ music] event every year. In the process, he lets slip that he has something else in the works: a new brand of weed, called, naturally, Willie’s Reserve. (our emphasis)
The venture will include not only Willie's special weed, but also branded bongs and stores in states where marijuana use is legal.  With the venture up and running, cannabis-infused Willie may, in the distant future, be able to offer fans a really special "weed".

Saturday Reading - "Lesser-Evilism We Can Believe In"

Michael Tomasky writes on why it's vitally important that progressives support the Democratic Party nominee, whoever she is:
... With the Republican Party controlled by the radical right, a Republican presidency doesn't mean merely that you're going to have to see that distasteful reactionary with the cracker-ish accent on your TV screen for the next few years. It means that thousands of people are going to be making many thousands of deeply reactionary decisions, across all federal agencies and departments. This stuff doesn't make the front pages. It rarely makes the news at all. But it goes on, and it affects all of us every day: decisions about civil-rights and environmental enforcement, about the protection of public lands, about the ethical questions raised in scientific research, about the safety of consumer products (and now financial instruments, thanks to Elizabeth Warren), about which polluting or swindling corporations to investigate and with how much zeal… You get the picture.
When you think of the presidency in these terms, Hillary Clinton's various and real ideological impurities become less central, and the idea that the executive branch will be staffed either by people who think they ought to carry out the mission of the agency they work for, or by people who are scheming to subvert that mission, becomes pivotal. And this is why I say that no matter who the candidate is—no matter how deeply in hock to Wall Street, no matter how tepid her (ahem) inequality platform—the responsible person of the left must vote for the Democrat. Not strategically, but on principle. And not sometimes, or only in the states where it might truly matter. Everywhere, and every time.  (our emphasis)
After presenting examples of reactionary Republican "governance" and what it means when you have the Executive Branch salted with people who subscribe to anti-tax monomaniac Grover Norquist's philosophy of dismembering government to the point where you can "drown it in the bathtub," he addresses the Naderite purists on the left and the consequences of a "protest vote:"
This is what you're helping unleash on this country with your "protest vote." And something else I've noticed over the years: protest votes tend to be cast by people who don't have much skin in the game when it comes to the direct delivery of government services. That is, their own day-to-day lives won't really be affected much by which party controls the White House. But most people who are direct beneficiaries of government programs and services can't afford the luxury of being protest voters. Yes, millions of them vote Republican, because their guns (or whatever) are more important to them than their pay packet. But most poorer people still vote Democratic, and I can't imagine that you could have gone to, say, the corner of 145th Street and Lenox Avenue in early November of 2000 and found many Ralph Nader voters(our emphasis)
At this point in American politics, we would have to agree with Tomasky that it's not a question of a potential choice being between "the lesser of two evils";  the question is, which party will bring people into government who will enforce laws and regulations that protect and benefit average Americans, versus which party will bring people in to actively subvert those protections.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Weekend Hate Your Next Door Neighbor But Don't Forget To Say Grace Song

It seems this song by country music quartet Little Big Town has some talibangelist nitwits all riled up because of this: 
Alana Lynn, a morning co-host on country music station 104.3 FM in Boise, Idaho, was excited to play Little Big Town’s latest single for her listeners. “Girl Crush,” a powerful ballad about a woman envious of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, seemed destined to be a hit.
“I want to taste her lips, yeah cause they taste like you / I want to drown myself in a bottle of her perfume,” vocalist Karen Fairchild sings. “I want her long blond hair, I want her magic touch / Yeah cause maybe then, you’d want me just as much. . . I got a girl crush.”
Sure, it’s a provocative way to describe jealousy. But when Lynn played the song on the air, she didn’t anticipate that she would get furious phone calls and e-mails accusing “Girl Crush” of “promoting the gay agenda” and threats to boycott the station.
It must be challenging to go through life with a mind so simple that you can't discern a subtle conceit  like the one in "Girl Crush."  It must be, um, crushing to go through life with a mind so full of hate that you would respond to this song in the vicious way so many upright "Christians" apparently have. In light of this, and of Thursday's passage of the hate law in Indiana, we'd like to offer this as our Weekend Song (h/t brother Hackwhacker):

Indiana's Anti-LGBT Travesty

God-botherers and the cranks assembled together as the Indiana Republican Party strike another blow for freedumb tolerance ugly discrimination:
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) quietly signed legislation Thursday that could legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. But many opponents of the bill, which included business leaders, argued that it could open the door to widespread discrimination. Business owners who don't want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.
"[Q]uietly signed legislation."  We don't doubt Pence and his fellow Republicans were trying to low-key this homophobic piece of malicious trash.  But the potential impact of "The Religious Freedom Restoration Act," perhaps one of the more Orwellian titles for a law that we've ever witnessed, is huge:
"These bills are often incredibly vague and light on details -- usually intentionally. In practice, most of these bills could empower any individual to sue the government to attempt to end enforcement of a non-discrimination law," wrote the LGBT equality group in a report. "The evangelical owner of a business providing a secular service can sue claiming that their personal faith empowers them to refuse to hire Jews, divorcees, or LGBT people. A landlord could claim the right to refuse to rent an apartment to a Muslim or a transgender person."

In a statement Thursday, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said the Indiana General Assembly and Pence have sent a message saying, "as long as your religion tells you to, it’s ok to discriminate against people despite what the law says."
The NCAA, which holds it's Final Four college basketball tournament and is headquartered in Indianapolis, promised to "examine the implications of the bill," and corporate giant Salesforce is cancelling all programs in Indiana.  In addition, the Gen Con gaming convention is expected to change its venue from Indianapolis (it's the largest and most lucrative convention hosted by the city).

In the "good for them" category, among the groups and individuals expressing dismay over this retrograde legislation are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- who could teach the Bible-bangers who pushed for this law a thing or three about the real meaning of Christ's teachings -- and, yes,  the Republican mayor of Indianapolis. 

Editorial boards are also weighing in, with the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle saying the law is "embracing intolerance under the guise of protecting people of faith."  The Terre Haute (IN) Tribune Star called it a "disgusting discrimination law."  The Iowa State Daily called it "a step backward for civil rights."

This, we have to believe, is a temporary step backward for civil rights for LGBT people, who -- in 2015! --should not have to suffer discrimination because the warped "religious" views of an intolerant minority hold sway over the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party.

(Image: Indiana Republican Preacher Gov. Mike Pence - "Thou shalt be a bigoted ass.")

Reid Won't Run for Re-Election

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that he won't be running for reelection in 2016.  Reid, 75, would have faced a tough reelection in the swing state of Nevada, and was the prime target of big right-wing money from the Koch brothers and Sheldon "Smelly Shelly" Adelson.  Reid suffered a serious fall a few months ago, where he broke some ribs and bones in his face, causing damage to his right eye.  Reid's announcement will set off a scramble for his leadership position among his top lieutenants, including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.  In Nevada, former Democratic State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is considered to be a leading contender for the seat, if she so chooses.

Here's a picture from the signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act on March 22, 2010, one of Harry Reid's most important legislative achievements:

BONUS: More on Harry Reid's lasting legacy.