Friday, February 12, 2016

Fact-checking Ted Cruz's climate denial

Ted Cruz lied. Surprise, surprise, huh?

But I was quite impressed by the clever way this video clip demonstrated that.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Charles M. Blow calls Marco Rubio "a too-slick-to-be-trusted stripling who oozes ambition with every obviously rehearsed response." And Chris Christie hammered Rubio in last night's debate for being "scripted" by his handlers (which Rubio then demonstrated to the audience by continuing to repeat his prepared soundbite three more times).

But that's not what bothers me the most about Rubio. What bothers me the most is that he's pretty much owned by billionaire Norman Braman.
He has bankrolled Mr. Rubio’s campaigns. He has financed Mr. Rubio’s legislative agenda. And, at the same time, he has subsidized Mr. Rubio’s personal finances, as the rising politician and his wife grappled with heavy debt and big swings in their income. ...

A detailed review of their relationship shows that Mr. Braman, 82, has left few corners of Mr. Rubio’s world untouched. He hired Mr. Rubio, then a Senate candidate, as a lawyer; employed his wife to advise the Braman family’s philanthropic foundation; helped cover the cost of Mr. Rubio’s salary as an instructor at a Miami college; and gave Mr. Rubio access to his private plane.

The money has flowed both ways. Mr. Rubio has steered taxpayer funds to Mr. Braman’s favored causes, successfully pushing for an $80 million state grant to finance a genomics center at a private university and securing $5 million for cancer research at a Miami institute for which Mr. Braman is a major donor.

Even in an era dominated by super-wealthy donors, Mr. Braman stands out, given how integral he has been not only to Mr. Rubio’s political aspirations but also to his personal finances.

Now, there's even more information about that teaching job:
Marco Rubio has received plenty of attention - and criticism - for skipping Senate hearings and votes as he campaigns for his White House bid.

But this isn't the first job where Rubio has taken heat for failing to go all in. Documents and records obtained by NBC News suggest that as a visiting professor at Florida International University, he worked less than 10 hours a week and missed three-in-10 classes during his first semester of teaching - all while making more than most part-time visiting professors. ...

For that, he would earn $69,000 ...

Yes, Rubio was paid $69,000 for working less than 10 hours a week and missing three out of ten classes that semester. (And this was at a time of "layoffs and tuition hikes caused by what the university president called 'the most serious budget crisis in our history.'")

Note that he didn't even teach the class by himself. His "longtime friend and pollster Dario Moreno" taught the class with him, and by Moreno's own admission, Rubio didn't even have to grade papers. (If you're a teacher, or you know a teacher, you should know what a huge deal that is.)

So why did the golden boy get such benefits? Well,... maybe because his billionaire backer, Norman Braman, gave $100,000 to the school?

Norman Braman owns Marco Rubio. His money is everywhere in Rubio's life, both his private life (and his wife's) and his public life.

I know that the five Republicans on our Supreme Court have declared that "money is speech," but this guy owns a U.S. Senator and a guy who might well become President of the United States. Certainly, if he does become president, that will be almost entirely a result of Braman's money (which not only bankrolled Rubio's U.S. Senate campaign, but started his political career in the Florida state legislature, too).

This isn't particularly unusual. Now that we've sold our country to the highest bidder, billionaire sugar-daddies are common in the Republican Party. Sheldon Adelson almost single-handedly kept Newt Gingrich in the presidential race in 2012, and Foster Friess did the same thing for Rick Santorum.

Other billionaires are bankrolling their own candidates, or pooling their money into Super PACs. But even for Republicans, the extent to which Braman's money pervades every aspect of Rubio's public and private life is just astonishing, isn't it?

And I'm sure he's got the best handlers that money can buy. Whether or not that means he can win the presidency is an open question. But if this doesn't work, there's plenty more money out there to try with other candidates.

What have we done to our democracy? Make no mistake, we did it to ourselves. Certainly, we elected the Republican presidents who appointed right-wing ideologues to the Supreme Court.

(OK, maybe we didn't elect George W. Bush in 2000, but we let the election get close enough that the five Republicans on the court could appoint him to that position. And the fact that Republicans were a majority on the court was because of our previous bad decisions in electing presidents.)

Of course, when it comes to presidential candidates, the entire Republican slate is horrible. As Charles Blow points out, the top three finishers in the Iowa caucus were "a much-loathed anti-institutional who has shown a pyromaniac’s predilection for wanting to torch Washington rather than make it work; the real estate developer spouting nativist and even fascist policies with the fervor of a prosperity preacher" and Rubio, scripted and packaged and entirely bought.

What have we done to ourselves?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

AronRa interviews Rebecca Vitsmun

Rebecca Vitsmun is always great, isn't she? She's just so sparkling, so funny, so... likable.

The first 15-20 minutes of this is especially good, as she talks about surviving the tornado that destroyed her house (the whole community, in fact) and then being outed as an atheist on national television by Wolf Blitzer.

There's a reason why the video clip of that went viral, and that reason is Rebecca Vitsmun. Watching this, it's easy to see why.

Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan

Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. Well, if he were still alive, at least. In honor of the occasion, maybe you'd like to read this obituary.
Even at age twelve I could tell that Jimmy Carter was an honest man trying to address complicated issues and Ronald Reagan was a brilcreemed salesman telling people what they wanted to hear. ... I spent the eight years he was in office living in one of those science-fiction movies where everyone is taken over by aliens—I was appalled by how stupid and mean-spirited and repulsive the world was becoming while everyone else in America seemed to agree that things were finally exactly as they should be. The Washington Press corps was so enamored of his down-to-earth charm that they never checked his facts, but if you watched his face when it was at rest, when he wasn’t performing for anyone, you could see him for what he really was—a black-eyed, slit-mouthed, lizard-faced old son-of-a-bitch. He was a bad actor, an informer for McCarthy, and a hired front man for a gang of Texas oilmen, fundamentalist dingbats, and right-wing psychotics out of Dr. Strangelove. He put a genial face on chauvanism, callousness, and greed, and made people feel good about being bigots again. He likened Central American death squads to our founding fathers and called the Taliban “freedom fighters.” His legacy includes the dismantling of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the final dirty win of Management over Labor, the outsourcing of America’s manufacturing base, the embezzlement of almost all the country's wealth by 1% of its citizens, the scapegoating of the poor and black, the War on Drugs, the eviction of schizophrenics into the streets, AIDS, acid rain, Iran-Contra, and, let’s not forget, the corpses of two hundred forty United States Marines. He moved the center of political discourse in this country to somewhere in between Richard Nixon and Augusto Pinochet. He believed in astrology and Armageddon and didn't know the difference between history and movies; his stories were lies and his jokes were scripted. He was the triumph of image over truth, paving the way for even more vapid spokesmodels like George W. Bush. He was, as everyone agrees, exactly what he appeared to be—nothing. He made me ashamed to be an American.

Yup, that about sums it up.

Oh, and he was elected, at least in part, thanks to the Republican Party's 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists. Remember those famous "Reagan Democrats"? They were working-class white people who'd been persuaded to see economics in racial terms.

Heck, Lee Atwater himself admitted it:
It has become, for liberals and leftists enraged by the way Republicans never suffer the consequences for turning electoral politics into a cesspool, a kind of smoking gun. The late, legendarily brutal campaign consultant Lee Atwater explains how Republicans can win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Anyway, you can read the rest of that if you want. But here's another perspective on Ronald Reagan:
No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed. ... “You could walk through Ronald Reagan’s deepest thoughts,” a California legislator said, “and not get your ankles wet.”

In all fields of public affairs—from diplomacy to the economy—the president stunned Washington policymakers by how little basic information he commanded. His mind, said the well-disposed Peggy Noonan, was “barren terrain.” Speaking of one far-ranging discussion on the MX missile, the Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, an authority on national defense, reported, “Reagan’s only contribution throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he’d watched a movie the night before, and he gave us the plot from War Games.” The president “cut ribbons and made speeches. He did these things beautifully,” Congressman Jim Wright of Texas acknowledged. “But he never knew frijoles from pralines about the substantive facts of issues.” Some thought him to be not only ignorant but, in the word of a former CIA director, “stupid.” Clark Clifford called the president an “amiable dunce,” and the usually restrained columnist David Broder wrote, “The task of watering the arid desert between Reagan’s ears is a challenging one for his aides.”

No Democratic adversary would ever constitute as great a peril to the president’s political future, his advisers concluded, as Reagan did himself. Therefore, they protected him by severely restricting situations where he might blurt out a fantasy. ... His secretary of the treasury and later chief of staff said of the president: “Every moment of every public appearance was scheduled, every word scripted, every place where Reagan was expected to stand was chalked with toe marks.” Those manipulations, he added, seemed customary to Reagan, for “he had been learning his lines, composing his facial expressions, hitting his toe marks for half a century.” Each night, before turning in, he took comfort in a shooting schedule for the next day’s television-focused events that was laid out for him at his bedside, just as it had been in Hollywood.

His White House staff found it difficult, often impossible, to get him to stir himself to follow even this rudimentary routine. When he was expected to read briefing papers, he lazed on a couch watching old movies. On the day before a summit meeting with world leaders about the future of the economy, he was given a briefing book. The next morning, his chief of staff asked him why he had not even opened it. “Well, Jim,” the president explained, “The Sound of Music was on last night.”

If I were the kind of guy who'd give up on America (I'm not), I'd say that Ronald Reagan was the beginning of the end for us. He might not have been as disastrous as George W. Bush - and even Bush looks reasonable compared to today's Republican politicians - but this is where we started to go downhill.

Reagan wasn't responsible for everything. He wasn't smart enough for that. But I never understood why he was so popular. With Republicans? Sure. Faith-based people will believe whatever they want to believe, and Reagan was just as shallow as television.

But why he still has a generally good reputation today, I'll never understand.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Elizabeth Warren: America's rigged justice system

This is the person I want to elect President of the United States! Oh, I'll be happy enough with either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. But if I really had my choice, it would be Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

PS. I'm always being told, usually by particularly clueless progressives, that there's no difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties. Look at what Republicans are trying to do in the House of Representatives, as Sen. Warren explains so well, and tell me that.

Hell, look at the plethora of 5 to 4 decisions - disastrous decisions, when all five Republicans have their way - in the Supreme Court and tell me that.

You won't agree with anyone about everything. (I hope not, at least.) But there are huge differences between the parties - and yes, I mean between Hillary Clinton and any Republican, too.

Barack Obama dividing Americans

On Wednesday, Barack Obama visited a mosque:
President Barack Obama said Wednesday he wanted to assure Muslim-Americans that they were an important part of the country’s successes despite the rhetoric coming from some Republican presidential candidates.

Obama delivered his comments in Maryland after meeting with Muslim leaders at the Islamic Society of Baltimore. It marked his first visit to an American mosque as commander-in-chief.

He said that he had two words for Muslim-Americans that he said they don't get to hear often enough: "Thank you," both for keeping the country together and serving their neighbors.

He noted that this is "a time of concern" and "of some fear" for Muslim communities across the United States, attributing some of it to the "inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans that has no place in our country."

“We’re one American family and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second class or targeted it tears at the very fabric of our nation," he said.

"We’re one American family and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second class or targeted it tears at the very fabric of  our nation."

To Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, that was Obama dividing us, "Always pitting people against each other." Funny, isn't it? It's just like how Barack Obama divided America by being black, I suppose.

Obama should have realized that many Americans hate and fear black people. So why divide us by being black?

Likewise, many Americans hate and fear Muslims, so why divide us by telling American Muslims that they're an equal part of our country, one part of the "American family"? That's just so divisive, isn't it? LOL

Republicans, on the other hand, know how to bring us all together. Like this Republican state representative in New Hampshire:
A Republican state representative in New Hampshire on Wednesday submitted testimony to a state House committee hearing arguing that giving public assistance to Muslims amounts to treason. ...

"Giving public benefits to any person or family that practices Islam is aiding and abetting the enemy. That is treason," [Ken] Weyler wrote in his testimony...

Yeah, why couldn't Barack Obama have united us by calling some Americans - including those who've fought and sometimes died for our country - treasonous and "the enemy," based entirely on their religion?

After all, there's nothing that unites people like religious bigotry, right?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Refuting the Kalam Cosmological Argument

I find it funny that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is based on Medieval Islamic thinking. It's never seemed at all convincing to me, and I doubt if it's ever convinced anyone. (The Christians and Muslims who use this argument already believe in their god.)

Certainly, this video does a good job of refuting it. But that's nothing new, either. What I particularly liked is his first point, that a god which is anything at all like the Christian 'God' wouldn't play hide-and-seek with people. If such a god existed, we wouldn't be debating it, since we wouldn't have to wonder.

The whole idea that you'd have to use some bizarre, and quite dubious, philosophical argument to demonstrate that your god exists pretty much demonstrates how implausible the whole thing is, right from the beginning. Of course, the argument itself is badly flawed, as well.

As I say, I suspect that the Kalam Cosmological Argument has never convinced anyone. William Lane Craig is popular with Christians because they think he sounds smart and is backing up what they already believe - almost always because they were raised to believe it - with philosophy. Obviously, they're not going to be very skeptical.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Who's marginally less awful?

I'd pick bone cancer, too, I think.

Admittedly, I don't think it matters. Any Republican would be a complete disaster for America, even worse than George W. Bush.

Have you seen how crazy the party has gotten? When extremists take control, you can never be too extreme. When the mob is running madly to the right, the people who get crushed are those who don't run fast enough.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz aren't so much the problem as they are the symptoms of the problem. Any Republican president would be as bad for our country. Until conservatives regain their sanity, that's going to be the case, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rapper says the Earth is flat

Are we Americans getting dumber? No, I doubt it. It may seem like that sometimes, but these people have always been with us. They just find it easier to publicize their stupidity these days.

Maybe this is just a publicity gimmick, I don't know. As the Los Angeles Times says:
Did we mention B.o.B. is promoting a new album? Well he is. But he insists those things are definitely not related.

So far, B.o.B. -- nee Bobby Ray Simmons -- has posted almost 50 images of the supposedly flat planet, along with quotes from the 2014 book "The Flat Earth Conspiracy" by Eric Dubay.

(Dubay is known for his series of YouTube videos, including a two-hour production that claims to offer “200 Proofs Earth is Not a Spinning Ball.” He also denies the existence of evolution, nuclear bombs, gravity and the Holocaust.)

But hey, you can make a living as a professional crazy person. Just ask Alex Jones, among many others.

Of course, it doesn't have to be about money (though it usually is). If you really want to be a celebrity, being batshit crazy is a good way to get attention, too. He could just be trolling.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Carrying a gun to defend yourself

From TPM, it's the latest shooting incident. (Well, almost certainly not, huh? After all, it's been four days already.)
A man arrested for accidentally shooting a woman at a Washington state movie theater on Friday reportedly told police that he was armed because he feared mass shootings. ...

Gallion's firearm discharged during the film, striking a 40-year-old woman sitting in front of him in the shoulder. She was sent to a nearby hospital and was in stable condition as of Saturday.

The Seattle Times reported that Gallion’s explanations for how exactly the gun went off varied significantly. His father, Donald Gallion, told police that his son said the gun had fallen from his pocket and gone off. But Gallion himself told the arresting officer that another movie attendee had reached for his crotch, causing him to accidentally fire the weapon. He then told a different officer at the police station that a man had been bothering him and that the gun accidentally went off during their altercation, according to the newspaper.

What's noteworthy about this? Well, nothing, really. It happens all the time.

But this is what the gun nuts in the Republican Party want. They want everyone in a movie theater or a restaurant or even a church to be carrying a gun, in the irrational fear of mass shootings, terrorism, or... I don't know, alien abduction?

At least a few of those fearful idiots will also be drunk or bored or angry or depressed or just careless. And when the rest of them hear a gunshot, what then? Heck, what if it is the mass shooting they've all been made to fear?

The thing about gun fights at point-blank range is that you need to be the first person to pull the trigger, not the second. So you'll have all of these people with their steel courage, pulling their Precious and pointing it at all of the other hysterical people who are pointing guns at them. How are they going to tell which one's the 'bad guy with a gun'?

Heck, maybe the initial gunshot was just a stupid accident, like this one. They happen all the time. But when you desperately fear mass shootings, and you've got a gun to 'protect yourself,' are you really going to wait until the stranger across the room shoots you before using that gun on him?

Maybe you will. Maybe you're exceptional. And maybe you're never drunk or bored or angry or depressed or careless. But remember, the NRA wants everyone in that theater to be carrying a gun. Is everyone going to be perfect?

This is the insanity of ordinary citizens carrying deadly weapons everywhere they go. It's bad enough that the police have them. The police do, after all, shoot people by accident (or the wrong people deliberately), leave their guns in bathrooms, and do the same sorts of dumb things we all do, despite all their training. Well, they're human.

The NRA pushes irrational fear because the NRA works for gun and ammo manufacturers who make money from irrational fear. Republican politicians push irrational fear, because that gets them votes from the ignorant, the gullible, and the easily scared. None of them are doing it for you.

Are you really going to feel safer when everyone around you is carrying a gun? I've known people I wouldn't trust with sharp scissors. Typically, though, they were the people most eager to get a concealed-carry permit.

Personally, I fear idiots with guns far more than I fear criminals with guns - mostly because there are a lot more idiots than criminals in America. And when every idiot has a gun, the criminals will have absolutely no problem getting them, as well. Heck, we're pretty much there already.

Who is Ted Cruz?

The other day, I called Ted Cruz a "lying piece of crap." Was that really fair? Who is the real Ted Cruz?

Well, Mother Jones has an interesting article about the people who know him - Republicans, mostly, who've worked with him in support of their mutual interests. It's quite a read. Here are a few brief excerpts:
"Ted thought he was an expert on everything," says this campaign veteran, who asked not to be named. ... In fact, this Bush alum recalls, "the quickest way for a meeting to end would be for Ted to come in. People would want out of that meeting. People wouldn't go to a meeting if they knew he would be there. It was his inability to be part of the team. That's exactly what he was: a big asshole." ...

[Rep. Peter King] has called Cruz a "carnival barker," a "counterfeit" with "no qualifications" who appeals "to the lowest common denominator," and "just a guy with a big mouth and no results." ...

GQ reported that Cruz started a study group during his first year in Cambridge, but he announced that "he didn't want anybody from 'minor Ivies' like Penn or Brown." In an interview with the Boston Globe, another student recalled what happened when she agreed to carpool with Cruz: "We hadn't left Manhattan before he asked my IQ." ...

"I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States," screenwriter Craig Mazin told the Daily Beast in 2013. "Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book." On Twitter, Mazin—who has called Cruz "a nightmare of a human being"—recalled that when he was a freshman sharing a dorm room with Cruz, he would get invited to parties hosted by seniors because the upperclassmen pitied him. Cruz, he notes, "was that widely loathed. It's his superpower." ...

Per the Daily Beast, "Several fellow classmates who asked that their names not be used described the young Cruz with words like 'abrasive,' 'intense,' 'strident,' 'crank,' and 'arrogant.' Four independently offered the word 'creepy.'"

And the Republican Party seems to be down to choosing between this creepy asshole and... Donald Trump (who hardly needs a description from me, given his penchant for chintzy self-promotion). Incredible, isn't it?

Are any mainstream Republicans beginning to wonder if deliberately wooing white racists, in their notorious 'Southern strategy,' was such a good idea after all?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What is holy?

Inherit the Wind was a great movie, wasn't it? Of course, it was just a movie. But Spencer Tracy did a great job.

The movie was released in 1960 - more than 55 years ago! It's hard to imagine that we're still fighting the forces of superstition, isn't it?

Heck, the Republican Party actually accepted science in 1960. Yeah, they were more modern - and certainly more rational - back then than they are now, more than 55 years later.

Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump

We've all been waiting for this, haven't we? :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: steps we can take right now to lessen the influence of money in politics

Impressive, isn't she? That's Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate on the sixth anniversary of Citizens United.

This should be a bipartisan issue. Indeed, rank-and-file Republicans agree with Democrats about stopping - or, at least, slowing - the sale of our government to the highest bidder.

But note that every Democrat on the Supreme Court opposed the majority's decision in Citizens United. It was the five Republicans on the court who overturned longstanding precedent and opened up our government for purchase by the super-wealthy.

Yes, the mistakes we make live on long afterwards, sometimes. We made the enormous mistake of electing George W. Bush and other Republican presidents, and the damage they did lingers to this day.

Make no mistake, plenty of Democratic politicians aren't as strong as they should be in opposing the sale of our political leaders. After all, incumbents in both political parties tend to benefit from these legal bribes. But only the Democrats are really fighting against it.

And we wouldn't be in this situation if we hadn't elected Republican presidents. Republicans get a partisan political advantage from this, since they're the party of the wealthy, anyway. After all, they're the party which continually wants to cut taxes on the rich.

It wasn't just coincidence that the partisan political ideologues Republican presidents appointed to our Supreme Court (all men, all Catholic - which is another issue when they have majority power like this) who opened up the floodgates not just to billionaire money, but to anonymous billionaire money.

Whether you're conservative or not, you can't think that's good for our country. (And as polls show, Republicans generally don't think that. But they still vote for the politicians who continue to make it worse, not better.)

What do you believe?

What are you going to believe, reality or campaign rhetoric?

Thanks, Obama!

From the Los Angeles Times:
United States Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination, has revealed on the campaign trail that his family is no longer covered by health insurance.

Naturally, he blames the Affordable Care Act: "I’ll tell you, you know who one of those millions of Americans is who’s lost their health care because of Obamacare? That would be me," he told an audience in Manchester, N.H., according to Politico. "I don’t have health care right now."

If you pay attention, however, you'll discover that Cruz's quandary is entirely his own fault. His, and his Republican colleagues in the Senate.

The details are pretty funny, especially if you already know what a lying piece of crap Ted Cruz is.

First, Cruz is a U.S. Senator. Why isn't he covered by health insurance at work, like most Americans? 'Obamacare' was never meant to apply to workplace coverage. It doesn't change anything about that.

Well, that was the Republican Party playing games. So now, members of Congress and their staffs are required to get health insurance through the exchanges of the Affordable Care Act.

Still no problem, right? Why didn't Cruz do that? Well, he just missed the deadline. It was entirely his own fault. He didn't sign up by December 31st, so now he and his family won't be covered until March 1st. Thanks, Obama! LOL

There's more. He claims that his new plan raises premiums by 50%, but that can't possibly be true, because no plan in Texas does that. But that's not the funny thing. This was, after all, substituted for his employer's plan (because of his job in the U.S. Senate), so the government - like most employers - pays 75% of the premiums.

Except, the grandstanding Ted Cruz declared that he wouldn't accept that. Thus, when he's complaining about the cost, it's all his own fault.

As the article says:
Cruz's lament is sadly typical of Congressional critics of Obamacare, including former Speaker John Boehner, who made the claim back in 2013 that his insurance rates had "spiked" because of Obamacare. It was just as bogus as Cruz's complaint, as we demonstrated here. Former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., claimed in 2014 that Obamacare had cost him his cancer doctor. Typically, his office refused to provide any details, including why the 65-year-old Coburn was using an ACA plan instead of Medicare.

That's the state of Obamacare criticism on the GOP side of the aisle. They insist they want to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Since they can't offer any legitimate reasons to do so, they're stuck with making them up.

Edit: And it turns out that this whole thing was a lie, anyway. Cruz and his family do have health insurance. They never lost it. Apparently, the whole thing was just a lie designed to appeal to low-information Republican voters. Well, that's Ted Cruz for you.

Is it any wonder that even his Republican colleagues hate him? Pretty much everyone who knows him, hates him (Craig Mazin, his former college roommate, in particular).

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The original Material Girl is back!

I really miss The Colbert Report, but Stephen Colbert certainly nailed it this time, didn't he?

Note that Palin, in her speech endorsing Donald Trump, apparently tried to blame President Obama for her son's recent arrest on domestic violence charges. Thanks, Obama! You can't even raise Sarah Palin's kids for her?

Luckily, Track Palin had an AR-15 assault rifle, so we know there wasn't really a problem there. Isn't it great how guns make everything safer?

Hmm,... I wonder if Barack Obama is also to blame for Bristol Palin, that highly-paid spokesperson for abstinence-only sex education, getting knocked up - twice, by two different men - outside of marriage?

Well, you've got to admire that work ethic. Despite a complete lack of sex education, Bristol figured out how sex works all on her own. (Well, not all on her own, I guess.) Yup, learn by doing, that's what I always say!

And then there was that drunken brawl in 2014. What a family! Can you imagine how the right-wing would react if this were Barack Obama's family, rather than Sarah Palin's?

Funny, but I haven't heard much about how white culture is to blame for the Alaskan escapades of Caribou Barbie and family...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dr. Mary Anne Franks: fighting fundamentalism

This is a great talk, it really is - very perceptive and thought-provoking. It's not just about religious fundamentalism, either. Indeed, she seems to hit all of the hot-button topics.

Weirdly, the video has nearly as many down-votes as up-votes. Dr. Franks seems to be someone who gets her share of internet hate.

I have to wonder if they even listened to her talk, though. Even if I didn't agree with her (though I certainly do), I'd find it well-argued and interesting, and certainly nothing to get bent out of shape about.

Ah, but those hot-button issues - guns, race, internet harassment, abortion, etc.  Just the mention of them gets some people bent out of shape, huh?

Seth Meyers: a closer look at the Iran prisoner swap

Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican. :)

OK, that's lame, no doubt. But true, nonetheless. And Seth Meyers just gets better and better at pointing out that hypocrisy.

Republicans seem to think that foreigners will do anything you want if you just speak English loudly enough. "Iran, release your prisoners!"  "Mexico, pay for the wall I plan to build!"  "Russia, get out of the Ukraine!"

Negotiations don't mean that the other side has to get something, too, right?

And then, of course, you get the deliberate lies, like from Ted Cruz (none of the prisoners we released were even accused of terrorism) or Donald Trump ("I never said it was never going to happen"). Do Republicans have no shame?

As Meyers points out, at least there still are moderates in Iran, unlike in the GOP.

American exceptionalism in India

AronRa packs a lot into 15 minutes, doesn't he? The fact that this talk was given in India makes it all the more powerful, given how seldom we Americans typically think about other countries and other cultures.

Note, however, that AronRa made this comment about his own speech:
I was convinced when I went to India that different religions were well represented and visible, since they all dress differently. I did not realize that 80% of the population was Hindu. Nor did I have any idea how militant Indian Hindus had become. They're very right wing over there.