Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Feynman Series - Curiosity

Neat, isn't it? According to the blurb that accompanies this video, "The Feynman Series is a side project of The Sagan Series, an educational project working in the hopes of promoting scientific literacy in the general population."

The rest of them are here.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Thanks, Obama!

The Ebola stuff is interesting to me, because I remember the hysteria last year, here in Nebraska.

I remember a commenter on a local news site here who observed that our medical personnel were dropping like flies, all across America. What were we going to do when we ran out of doctors and nurses, having lost all of them to this dreaded disease?

Yeah. At the time, one nurse had caught Ebola in America. One. And she hadn't died of it. In fact, she never did die. But in right-wing fantasyland (no connection to reality whatsoever), doctors and nurses everywhere in America were dying off in the Ebola epidemic. Thanks, Obama!

Of course, our right-wing news media helped fuel the hysteria. And when the hysteria could no longer be maintained, our media just ignored it. There was absolutely nothing after that. But then, if you can't scare dumb white people, what's the point to news at all, right?

I say "white people," because the scary black man in the White House, the secret Muslim funding ISIS and spreading Ebola, is the biggest subject of hysteria in my state. Admittedly, there are apparently lots of reasons for hysteria on the right (even if Obama seems to be the cause of all of them).

That would explain it

Note that I very much respect your right to hold those beliefs, whether I find them ridiculous or not. But I do not respect the beliefs themselves.

If you expect me to respect your beliefs, please back them up with evidence.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christianity refutes itself

Tis the season for videos about Jesus, huh? But these have been quite good, haven't they?

In fact, the creator of this video also made a (short) series of videos called "Jesus Was Not the Messiah." I find it very interesting, although the fact that the New Testament was written after the Old Testament, by authors who were very familiar with what the Old Testament said, makes fulfilled prophecies pretty ridiculous as an argument anyway, don't you think?

Of course their 'Messiah' would be portrayed as having fulfilled the prophecies in the stories his worshipers told about him. What else would you expect?

Five stupid things about the Nativity

But this video, unlike the last one I posted, is just in time for Christmas...

Vaccines - too many, too soon?

This is nothing to do with Christmas, but it's important information which needs to be passed around as widely as possible. Don't you agree?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christian terrorism

Remember when we were shocked that Republicans supported torturing prisoners of war? Oh, we were so innocent back then, weren't we?

Now, they support terrorism. Christian terrorism. American terrorism. There is no other word for it. Republican candidates for President of the United States argue for deliberately killing innocent families. How is that not terrorism?

Ted Cruz apparently wants to nuke the Middle East. (Yeah, he's not honest enough, not man enough, to say it outright, so he just implies it.) How is that not advocating terrorism?

Of course, Republican audiences cheer for everything, no matter how evil it gets. Admittedly, Jesus was a big supporter of terrorism, wasn't he? Torture, too, as I recall.

Or was that the other guys? Gee, who nailed whom to a cross, again? (You know, that's something Republicans haven't suggested yet, bringing back crucifixion. I suppose it's only a matter of time, huh?)

But then, they're cowards. Terrorism works very well on cowards, because it gets them to overreact out of fear.

But you had me at torture. I was aghast enough at that. Americans torturing prisoners of war? Unbelievable! Oh, how little I knew. As I say, it was a more innocent time. Now, Republicans plan for America to become the world's foremost terrorist.


PS. Note the last part of this, where Cenk Uygur says:
"Like the fundamentalist Muslims, these fundamentalist Christians believe in killing civilians. They don't have any problem with it at all. They just said it!  'We'll kill their families and we'll carpet-bomb their cities.

This is the kind of insane crap that Ann Coulter used to say, to be so over-the-top, to garner attention. Right? Now, it's become mainstream and gets wild applause at a Republican debate. So, understand who you are. You're in league with the terrorists. That's what terrorists do.

Terrorists say, 'We will kill their families and we will bomb them indiscriminately.' Republicans agree."

Ann Coulter used to be extreme. But when fanatics take control, you can never be too extreme. Ann Coulter is mainstream these days. So is Rush Limbaugh. How do you make a living being extreme when this is mainstream Republican thinking these days?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Good guy with a gun

Of course, this was done for humor, but I have to wonder about people, every time I hear that 'good guy with a gun' crap.

The right-wing wants everyone to be armed. That way, when you hear gunshots, you pull your gun and run forward, just like everyone else. But then,... who do you shoot?

'Bad guys with guns' don't have 'bad guy' tattooed on their forehead, as far as I know. Do you just shoot the brown people or something? And if you're going to shoot everyone with a gun, you're going to be shooting other 'good guys with guns,' just like they'll be shooting you.

It just makes no sense whatsoever. Even if you see the 'bad guy' - and can identify him as a 'bad guy' - how do you know that there's just one of them? It's going to be a very stressful situation, you know. How about all the other people with guns, if gun-nut fantasies come true?

Keep in mind that you won't have a lot of time to think about it. You're going to be pointing your gun at other people, and they're going to be pointing a gun at you. The 'bad guy' might not even be there anymore. Or he might already have been shot by a 'good guy' who you mistake for a 'bad guy' when you see the shooting.

Even trained police officers make mistakes like this. All the time. Have you missed the entire Black Lives Matter controversy? What really happens when everyone carries a gun? Check out these GunFAIL compilations by David Waldman.

But there's yet another problem. Who is a 'good guy with a gun'? Isn't it someone who hasn't shot anyone else yet?

Dylann Roof was a 'good guy with a gun' until he killed nine people in a black church. Robert Dear was a 'good guy with a gun' before he shot up that Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. The NRA would have hit the ceiling if anyone had tried to keep them from owning guns. You're not going to discriminate against conservative white men, are you?

Alex Kozak was a 'good guy with a gun' - and an "open-carry" promoter who carried his gun everywhere - before he shot Andrea Farrington three times in the back for refusing his sexual advances. George Zimmerman was a 'good guy with a gun' before he accosted Trayvon Martin for the crime of walking while black.

Retired cop Curtis Reeves was a 'good guy with a gun' before he killed Chad Oulson for texting his daughter in a theater. And both James Pullam and Robert Taylor were 'good guys with guns' - with their concealed-carry permits and everything - before they killed each other in a road rage incident which wouldn't have happened if they hadn't both been armed.

But gun nuts are faith-based. They have their dogma, and that's it. Of course, they're encouraged by the NRA, which works for gun and ammo manufacturers, and by politicians who also work for such big-money donors. But what about the rest of us? We don't have to buy their bullshit.

What has happened to my country?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The societal sickness of Fox News

Another one from Josh Marshall at TPM:
It's hard to explain exactly why we submit ourselves to this. But in our New York City office we spend most of the day listening to Fox News. In moments of tension and incitement such as these it is difficult to capture the sheer scale and measure of the storm of hate, lies, nonsense and febrile fear that constantly flows out of it, minute by minute and hour after hour. I've become particularly focused in the last couple days on the almost constant stream of often small but highly significant falsehoods which go together to create a frightening and highly distorted image of the world.

Just now we're listening to this show "Outnumbered" where a woman named Andrea Tantaros (who manages to combine in her person in a concentrated form everything that is awful about Fox News) went on a tear about how it was that the San Bernardino shooter's brother was allowed to attend a press conference sponsored by CAIR the day after the attack, 'spouting CAIR talking points' as opposed to being in FBI custody. Why wasn't the whole family in FBI custody, she ranted? Well, as far as I know, the person she's referring to isn't Syed Farook's brother but his brother-in-law. His brother is actually a Navy veteran who lives in a different part of Southern California and, from everything we've heard, had absolutely nothing to do with his brother's crimes. ...

These might seem like small or picayune examples. But they are constant. And they build up to a whole tapestry of falsehoods, that combined with incitement and hysteria create a mental world in which Donald Trump's mounting volume of racist incitement is just not at all surprising. They are the false links that piece together the chain of distortion and lies that would simply collapse without them. You may have noticed that Fox felt compelled to suspend two on-air personalities yesterday because of rants about the President. But they were suspended not because of general tone or extremity but simply because they lapsed into profanity. When I saw this yesterday, it didn't seem surprising because the tone has become so hyperbolic and the climate of outrage and drama against the President not endorsing a military escalation or a clampdown on American Muslims so extreme that it's hardly surprising that a couple of regulars would slip into profanity.

As I wrote last night, this is sort of like a national Milgram Experiment. [Note that my post about that is here.] Are there limits on how far you can go as the possible nominee of a major national party? Seemingly not. ...

But it's not about Trump. It's about his supporters. A big chunk of the Republican base is awash in racism and xenophobic hysteria. And this is the food that they feed on every day. It's a societal sickness and we can't ignore it.

Fox 'News' - and the Republican Party in general - have fed Americans this toxic slurry of racism and xenophobic hysteria for decades now. It started long before Fox, with the GOP's notorious 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists, after the Democratic Party abandoned the racist wing of their own party to support civil rights for black people and other racial minorities.

Politically, that was a huge success for the GOP. The Republicans took the entire South from the Democrats and attracted many northern racists, too. I've known many former Democrats who switched to the Republican Party at that time, because the GOP did such a good job of wooing racists.

Republican leaders were able to use those racists to advance their own political power and their own political goals (mostly, giving tax cuts to the rich). They had to throw the racists a bone occasionally, but mostly this was just rhetoric.

But it worked so well, they continued using it. For example, they've deliberately stoked panic about Hispanic immigration. (That's worked particularly well here in Nebraska.) Right-wing talk radio exploded with Rush Limbaugh and others competing on who could be the angriest, who could proclaim the most outrageous lies, who could most ramp up his gullible listeners to the heights of hysteria.

And then Fox 'News' came along and showed how you could really make money - and advance Republican Party goals - by pushing anger, bigotry, and right-wing lies.

Today's Republican Party has thrived on garbage like this. Fear, bigotry, anger, hysteria - all have greatly benefited the GOP financially and politically. But as sane people have increasingly left the party, and elderly white racists die off, the crazy has become more and more concentrated. This is the party base now. This is the Republican Party.

All of the Republican candidates for president have taken advantage of the sickness they've helped create. Donald Trump just does it better than anyone else. But people like Ted Cruz aren't far behind, not at all. This is the Republican Party today.

It used to be that Republicans were careful to use racist dog whistles - messages that resonated with racists without being too blatant. Blatant racism would turn off more moderate voters. (Racism would still work on those voters, of course, but only if they could tell themselves that they weren't racist.)

Most Republicans try to do the same thing when it comes to Hispanics and Muslims. They try not to be too blatant about their bigotry and xenophobia. But Donald Trump doesn't even bother. After all, he's trying to woo the Republican base, and the base doesn't have such qualms. Not anymore.

As I've said before, this reminds me of the French Revolution. When fanatics take control, you can never be too fanatic. When the mob rules, you can never be too extreme. In the French Revolution, as the mob rushed madly to the left, the people left behind lost their heads (literally), even when they'd been leading the revolution previously. You couldn't stand still. You had to be more and more and more extreme all the time.

It's similar in the Republican Party of the 21st Century, only they've all been rushing madly to the right. You can never be too extreme for extremists. Note that the worst thing one Republican can call another is "moderate." Moderation is the kiss of death in today's Republican Party - not literally, not yet at least. So far, Republicans only lose their heads figuratively, not literally. But no Republican politician can stand being considered "moderate."

This is extremism. This is bigotry and xenophobia. And increasingly, as I noted yesterday, this is fascism in America. Have we forgotten how Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler came to power?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Our national Milgram Experiment


From Josh Marshall at TPM:
You may think of Donald Trump as a crafty blowhard intuiting the darkest recesses of the American mood and riding that wave into ever-escalating racist incitement, militant derp and extremism. But this evening it occurred to me that it may not be that at all. ... You probably know about the notorious Milgram Experiment, conducted by the late Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1961. In the experiment subjects were tested to see how far they would go in inflicting extreme pain - escalating electric shocks - on other test subjects simply because a figure in authority, the person running the experiment, told them to do so. So how far would the subjects go?

It turns out really, really far. Sometimes they'd keep inducing shocks with a chilling indifference. In other instances it would be clear that the test subject knew what he was doing was wrong. But instructed to continue, in almost every case, that's what they did. (The person on the other side of the glass wasn't really being shocked; they were pretending, but quite convincingly and often begging for mercy and expressing fear of death.)

And here we are, the experiment taken nationwide.

Intended or not, we have a grand national version of something very similar. How far will this go? Donald Trump started calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. Then he called for the rushed expulsion of over 10 million residents of the United States. This was followed by proposals to create a national registry or database of American Muslims. Late last month it was the continued invocation of a lurid racist fantasy of thousands of U.S. Muslims cheering the fall of the Twin Towers from across the river in North Jersey on 9/11 — in many countries something that might be charged as racist incitement to violence. And then today, we have the culmination — or perhaps better to say, since this can't possibly be the end of it, the next massive upping of the ante — which became inevitable in the wake of everything that preceded it: Donald Trump, frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, says Muslims as a religious class should be banned from entering the United States.

What's next?

It reminds me of Nazi Germany, of the lead-up to the "final solution of the Jewish question" by the Nazis.

I'm serious. I'm very serious. The Nazis didn't start by killing six million Jews. That was just where they ended up.

Already, we have people supporting torture - Americans supporting torture!  I still struggle to believe it. Already we have Americans proposing to end freedom of religion. Already, we have fear-mongering, exaggeration, and stereotyping.

This is fascism. What's next? Where will it end?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Seth Meyers: Obama on terror

I've never been a big fan of Saturday Night Live, but I always liked Seth Meyers when he was there. Still, he's really come into his own on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

I'm still disappointed that Jon Stewart is gone, and The Colbert Report, too. (Stephen Colbert on The Late Show just isn't the same) But Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore are pretty decent replacements, and better yet, John Oliver and Seth Meyers have been superb.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A moral outrage and a national disgrace

There was a front page editorial in the New York Times yesterday, "End the Gun Epidemic in America":
(M)otives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism. ...

...politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation. ...

What better time than during a presidential election to show, at long last, that our nation has retained its sense of decency?

That's just an excerpt, of course, but let me emphasize this paragraph by repeating it: "It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation."

Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Constitution, too, but slander and libel are still crimes. So is treason. You can still be arrested for falsely yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded theater. No right is absolute.

Freedom of religion is also guaranteed by our Constitution, but you can't burn witches alive. You can't sacrifice people - even willing volunteers - to your bloodthirsty god. You still have to obey the law, no matter what your religious beliefs might be.

Personally, I don't think that the 2nd Amendment is about individual gun rights at all, but rather the rights of states to equip their national guard units. (You know, the whole "well regulated militia" part that gun nuts prefer to ignore.)

But even if I'm wrong about that, it doesn't matter. No rights are absolute. Reasonable regulations are absolutely constitutional. Not that we'll get any. We have mass shootings every single day, on average, and it does nothing. Even when it's children, we do nothing.

We've lost all sense of decency, apparently.

I like this woman


From TPM:
Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) pre-filed a bill Tuesday that would restrict access to firearms in the same way her state restricts access to abortion.

Newman's bill includes a 72-hour waiting period for purchasing guns and watching a 30-minute video on firearms fatalities before purchasing. It also requires the firearms dealer be at least 120 miles from the purchaser's residence.

The bill would require that a gun purchaser visit an emergency room at the nearest "urban hospital" on a weekend between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. "when gun violence victims are present."

Within 72 hours of their purchase, the individual also must meet with at least two families who have been victims of firearm violence and two faith leaders who have presided over funerals in the last year of a child gun violence victim.

Of course, it's Missouri, so there's not the slightest chance it will pass. Not that it would pass anywhere, really. But I love the whole idea here.

I suppose she won't be too popular with the NRA, though. Of course, that's another plus in my book. :)

Amanda Marcotte does it again

Seriously, Amanda Marcotte is one of the most clear-thinking people on the internet. I don't think there's anything I've read from her that isn't perceptive and intelligent. She's just exceptional, all the time.

Obviously, I'm impressed. And here she goes again with "Liberals are not soft on, sympathetic towards, or defensive about Islamic terrorism."

First, she notes the two most recent mass shootings, at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado and at the office party in San Bernadino, and contrasts the reactions to each. Then:
To wit, conservatives are extremely defensive about the Planned Parenthood shooting, but clearly see it as a political “win” if the San Bernardino shooting was rooted in Islamic terrorism. Even more bizarrely, there’s a sense, particularly in right wing circles, that the opposite is true for liberals: That we somehow have reason to be on the defense if this shooting, as it looks like it will be, is an act of Islamic terrorism. ...

We’ve been down this road before. After the Paris attacks, accusing liberals of somehow being protective of or defensive of the teachings of ISIS became a popular talking point on the right. Republicans harped endlessly on the Democratic candidates for avoiding the inexact and needlessly provocative term “radical Islam.”

It’s part point-scoring, and part projection. After all, conservative Christians continue to blindly endorse radical rhetoric and beliefs that lead to Christian terrorism of the sort that we saw at Planned Parenthood, so they assume that the “other” side has a similar problem, just with Islam instead of Christianity.

Sadly, it’s not just conservatives who make this asinine assumption, either — there’s a certain arrogant, pseudo-liberal type of atheist who also seems to think that liberals are somehow more sympathetic to or protective of Islamic terrorism than Christian terrorism. After the Paris attacks, Bill Maher, while grasping that it’s probably unwise to bomb blindly, still sneered, “It was probably not the Amish,” as if liberals were suggesting otherwise. Sam Harris went even farther, echoing Ted Cruz’s rhetoric about how Christian terrorism isn’t even really a thing, and assuming that the only reason liberals support the Syrian refugees is that we’re blind to the threat of Islamic terrorism.

This has gone on long enough. It’s time to say it straight: Just because conservatives believe there’s some kind of global battle between Christianity and Islam doesn’t mean that liberals have to agree, much less that they take the “Islam” side of that equation. On the contrary, most liberals see fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam as categorically the same and categorically illiberal in their shared opposition to feminism and modernity.

This goes double when it comes to the fringe actors in either faith who become radicalized and turn to violence to impose their theocratic views on the unwilling. Liberals understand that there are theological and political differences between the different kinds of radical fundamentalism that lead to terrorism, but we are keenly aware that people who pick up a gun in the name of God have more in common with each other than they do with the rest of us.

What liberals object to is the conservative tendency to erase all distinctions between the relatively few Muslims around the world who have violent views and the majority of Muslims who, whether they are conservative or not, do not agree with ISIS or Al Qaeda’s distortion of Islam. ... Just as it’s important to maintain these distinctions when talking about Christianity, it’s equally important to keep these distinctions in mind when talking about Islam.

There’s nothing in that logic that suggests that liberals have some secret googly-eyes for demagoguing radical Muslim fundamentalists, anymore than we love Pat Robertson. On the contrary, we tend to see them as basically the same kind of misogynist, homophobic authoritarians who hide behind God to get their way. To suggest otherwise is not just dishonest, but irresponsible, since it can hinder the very diplomatic efforts we need to keep people alive.

Great, isn't it?  I'll go further. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. As an atheist, I don't particularly like that, any more than I like the fact that there are 2.2. billion Christians or 1 billion Hindus.

I don't agree with any of them. But they don't have to be my enemies. We disagree, but so what? With freedom of speech and freedom of religion, you're allowed to disagree. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that disagreement is a good thing. If you never speak with anyone who disagrees with you, how could you ever have confidence in your own beliefs?

It would be stupid - incredibly, astonishingly stupid - to make 1.6 billion people our enemies without having a very, very good reason for it. Why would we be dumb enough to do that?

And who wants it? Well, Islamic terrorists want it, for one. But why would we do what they want? That just makes no sense whatsoever.

Right-wing Christians want it, too. Both groups of fanatics want to see this as a war between Christianity and Islam. But why in the hell would we sane people want to go along with that? I just can't imagine that kind of mindset.

I sure as hell, as an atheist, don't want to make it a war between atheists and believers. We're heavily outnumbered, for one thing. For another, we can do just fine with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And for a third, we'd destroy everything we want in a civilized society if we tried to outlaw religion - even if we did have that kind of power. The whole idea is just... stupid.

If this is a war, it's a war between civilized people who accept - even treasure - freedom of speech and freedom of religion and those people who want to force their own beliefs on everyone else. There are Muslims on both sides of that war, just as there are Christians and Hindus and, yes, even atheists.

Furthermore, as a practical matter, it's a very good thing for American politicians - especially at the highest levels - to bend over backward making it clear that this isn't a war with Islam. Thus, there's a very, very, very good reason why Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others, try to avoid terms like "radical Islam," even though the terrorists themselves push the idea that they're fighting for their religion.

After all, why in the hell would we be stupid enough to do exactly what our enemies want?  ISIS and Al-Qaeda alike want to convince the world - and especially the 1.6 Muslims in the world - that their terrorism is a matter of defending Islam from the Christian West. I can't even imagine why we'd be dumb enough to help them.

Except that right-wing Christian fanatics also want to push that idea. And right-wing politicians see a political advantage in pushing it. (Note that these are the same people who used racism for political advantage, too. Nothing is too low for them, apparently. Their political ambition trumps everything else (pun intended).)

Of course, that's the other thing. Republican politicians and propaganda mills like Fox 'News' also see a political advantage in claiming that liberals are soft on Islam. Face it, Republican politicians do everything for political advantage. Well, all politicians do that to some extent. But for the Democrats, there tend to be limits. Democrats at least put America above their own political advantage.

I don't know what's wrong with Bill Maher and Sam Harris. But they're not politicians, and they only speak for themselves. And just because you're smart about some things, that doesn't mean you're smart about everything - and certainly not that you're right about everything.

Heck, even I've been known to be wrong occasionally. Well, once or twice, at least. Not recently. :)

Anyway, I'm not wrong about Amanda Marcotte, am I?

The Holy Quran Experiment: Islam or Christianity?

This is not in English (there are English subtitles), but it's remarkable enough to post, anyway. As many commenters suggested, I wish someone would conduct this experiment in America.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Are you depressed yet?

Are you depressed yet? Here's the Henry County Report about Alabama police officers planting guns and drugs on young black men for twenty years. They were racists, part of a Neoconfederate extremist group working against blacks and Jews.

This wasn't from the distant past, either. This started in the 1990s, apparently (with this particular group, at least). The district attorney knew about it when he prosecuted these innocent men, and as the report says, "They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current Asst. Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alabama."

Twenty years of framing young black men! Are you depressed yet? Yeah, it's a good thing racism is over, isn't it? LOL

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A huge, steaming Trump

OK, here's some more Trump. That's all I can manage today. Sorry, guys, but I haven't been able to post anything about the Planned Parenthood shooting. It's just too depressing.

Yeah, Republicans nationwide have hammered America with their lies about 'baby parts' and 'baby killers' over and over and over again - for their own political advantage, of course - until one of the gullible idiots who believe that stuff, less stable than most, decides to do 'God's will' with his AK-47 (which everyone in America needs for the coming race war, apparently).

It's right-wing Christian terrorism, but no one will say that. Indeed, Republican politicians and media outlets have been busy rationalizing away their lies. Ted Cruz claims the shooter was a "transgender leftist activist." Carly Fiorina calls this deranged white Christian a "protester" and compares murder to Black Lives Matter activists (who've also been taking fire from right-wing racists - literally - recently).

None of this is funny. It's not just random lunatics, either. Republican candidates for President of the United States lie with impunity. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz - these people are leading in the GOP. Their lies don't matter in the slightest.

Even the most hilarious lies don't matter at all, because the Republican Party doesn't care about the truth. Not even slightly. The Republican Party is entirely faith-based. Reality doesn't matter in the slightest to them.

And lest you forget, this isn't a fringe group. It's one of America's two political parties. It's backed by wealthy billionaires, corporations, and Wall Street - most of whom just want to use the crazies for their own financial benefit. The GOP controls my state, lock, stock, and barrel - and plenty of other states, too. They even control two of the three branches of our federal government.

None of this is funny. OK, I can still laugh at Donald Trump, but only barely. Remember, he's still leading - leading - the other crazies in the Republican primary for President of the United States!

What has happened to my country?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

America and Islam

Even if Americans don't give a crap about freedom of religion or the Statue of Liberty, perhaps they should remember their history classes:
In the final years of the 18th century and throughout the first two decades of the 19th century, the United States was drawn into multiple, semi-undeclared military conflicts with these Barbary Pirates. The first such Barbary War was conducted by the Jefferson administration against Karamanli’s Tripoli between 1801 and 1805, supported by congressional acts that stopped short of declaring war but authorized activities such as seizing ships and supplies. The Second Barbary War (1815) was fought by the Madison administration (with more overt congressional sanction) a decade later against Algiers, which had sided with England during the recently concluded War of 1812 and was continuing to harass American shipping.

The specific causes and histories of each Barbary War, and of the conflicts that led up to and followed them, were various and complex. Yet from the earliest such conflicts the U.S. government had made one thing very explicit and clear: the battles were not in any way between religions or civilizations. In 1796, the Washington administration sent his old Army colleague David Humphreys and other ambassadors to North Africa to negotiate a treaty with the Barbary States; the resulting document came to be known as the Treaty of Tripoli, and was sent to the Senate by new President John Adams and unanimously ratified in the summer of 1797.

That treaty opened with a clear statement of the goal, “a firm and perpetual Peace and friendship” between the nations. And in Article 11, it addressed directly the issue of religion:
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Those interruptions, when they arose a few years later, had no more to do with religion or a clash of civilizations than did these late 18th century issues.

The evolving U.S. relationship with the Barbary States didn’t just affect our foreign policy. During the Revolution, the North African nation of Morocco was the first in the world to recognize the new United States (in 1777); the two nations would subsequently sign a Treaty of Friendship in 1786, with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson signing for the United States. Thanks to this enduring relationship, when a number of Moroccan Muslims—“Moors,” as they were known in the language of era—sought to flee the rising power and brutality of the Barbary States, they chose America as their destination. Many of these refugees settled in Charleston, South Carolina, helping comprise the state’s burgeoning Moorish community that would become the subject of one of South Carolina’s first post-Constitution laws, the Moors Sundry Act of 1790.

There are no easy answers to the international issues and conflicts facing the United States and our allies in 2015, nor simple solutions for the communities of refugees fleeing those conflicts. Yet as our histories illustrate, any answers that include either a “war with Islam” or a refusal to accept such refugees in the United States will represent a significant and troubling break from some of our foundational moments and ideals.

Incidentally, can you imagine getting any bill through Congress today acknowledging that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion"? And that was ratified unanimously.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

When fascism comes to America

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis

I know that Americans are notoriously ignorant about history, but... this ignorant? And this cowardly, too? How did Americans get to be such hopeless cowards? I don't get it.

Incidentally, in that video clip, Trump says he "wouldn't rule it out." But don't let that give you the wrong impression:
So on Monday he's saying he'd "strongly consider" shutting down mosques. And then just a day later he's saying he'd "absolutely" close them down. With his Muslim ID card and database, Wednesday he said he wouldn't rule out creating such a system. By the end of the day he was telling NBC News he would "absolutely" create such a system.

In the Republican Party, crazy isn't enough. You have to be crazier than the other guy. If you're a Republican politician, you don't want to be seen as a 'moderate' when it comes to destroying America's freedoms, because sure as hell there will be someone even crazier than you are to steal your thunder.

Friday, November 20, 2015

This is a Republican?

This is a Republican? Yeah, this is a Republican. I'm impressed. And I can't imagine when I last said that about a Republican politician.

I expect this kind of clear thinking from Elizabeth Warren. I don't expect it from any Republican.

Edit: This guy ended up voting for the bill to keep out Syrian refugees. So maybe he's a more typical Republican than it seemed.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Putting the Christ back in coffee

Yeah, here's more about the Starbucks coffee cup war on Christmas. Sorry, but I think this is just hilarious!

As Bristol Palin says, this isn't all Christians. But it is the front-runner in the Republican campaign for president. And did you hear that crowd response? If it's a tiny fringe group, that apparently describes a large proportion of the Republican Party.

In conclusion, here's Stephen Colbert:

I have to admit that, these days, my absolute favorite part of the holiday season is the Christian right's war on the war on Christmas. :)

Truth and fiction in the GOP debate

The GOP was pleased as punch with the Fox Business Channel, which let their candidates lie with impunity in the last debate.

That was much better than the previous debate, also hosted by a right-wing business channel, where the moderators occasionally questioned a response (though not very well).

But then, we wouldn't expect news channels to do journalism, would we? We have to leave that to comedy shows.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The War on Christmas: Starbucks coffee cups

Funny, isn't it? How desperate must you be to feel victimized because Starbucks didn't put snowflakes and snowmen on its coffee cups?

And how insecure? It's almost as if you don't have the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the Universe on your side.

PS. I'll tell you how the 'War on Christmas' is going here in Nebraska: My neighbor put up his Christmas decorations on Halloween!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Autoplay problems

Sorry, guys, but all of a sudden, I'm having autoplay problems.

It doesn't seem to be a problem with YouTube videos, but only with those from Comedy Central (from what I've seen so far, at least). The videos start automatically, even when I include code that's supposed to prevent that.

As you might have noticed, it's a particularly big problem when there are multiple videos on the same page. Then again, maybe it's only a problem with my particular browser (Firefox) or settings? I just don't know.

As I say, I've never had this happen before, and I haven't figured out how to fix it. Nothing I've tried so far has worked at all. So, my apologies if this has been a problem for you. I'm aware of it. But that's about all I can say.

Edit: OK, I fixed this at my end by going to the list of Firefox plugins and turning Shockwave Flash from "Always Activate" to "Ask to Activate." I don't know why this is necessary, all of a sudden, but it works. I just have to give permission for each video that I want to see.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Now I understand Genesis

Ben Carson was right

OK, I poked fun at Ben Carson yesterday, and certainly liberals are having a lot of fun with his pyramids-were-grain-silos idea (here, here, and here, for example).

But this guy points out that Carson might actually be right, in a way:
Remember when Cain was peddling the 9/9/9 tax plan that turned out to come from Sim City?

Well Carson's statement about the pyramids being used to store grain is actually true in Civilization II where building the Pyramids wonder gives you a granary in every city.

Obviously, Ben Carson was just talking about my all-time favorite computer game, Civilization II. Hey, maybe he's not so crazy after all, huh?

Of course, do we really want a president who confuses a computer game with reality? How about one who confuses fantasy with reality?
The GOP frontrunner's theory that archaeologists are wrong and that the Egyptian pyramids were really built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain wasn't created in a vacuum. In the fringier corners of the Internet, variations of the pyramids-as-grain-storage argument has spawned entire blogs and a 30-minute documentary.

Carson -- who is continuing to defend beliefs that were surfaced this week in video of a 1998 commencement address by the acclaimed neurosurgeon -- joins the ranks of pyramids truthers who believe that, warned by God of an oncoming famine, Joseph built grain storage units that exist today in the form of the ancient pyramids. ...

According to [Richard] Flower, the theory gained traction in Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks, written in the 6th century, where the bishop wrote about a “city in which Joseph built granaries from squared stones and rubble with marvellous workmanship."

“He made them larger at the base and very much smaller at the top so that wheat could be thrown in there through a tiny hole. These granaries are still visible even today,” Gregory wrote at the time,...

Clearly, this is why Ben Carson is leading in the polls. While the rest of the Republican Party wants to return us to the 12th Century, Carson wants to return to the 6th Century. Now that's conservative!

Also batshit crazy, of course. But that seems to be an advantage in today's GOP.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ben Carson has the answers

From TPM:
GOP frontrunner Ben Carson, in a 1998 commencement address, floated his own personal theory that the pyramids in Egypt were built by Joseph -- the biblical patriarch known for his coat of many colors -- to store grain, Buzzfeed reported.

In the speech -- given at Andrews University, a school with ties to Carson's Seventh-day Adventist faith -- the neurosurgeon shot down claim that aliens had built the pyramids. But he also disagreed with the archaeological consensus that the pyramids were constructed as tombs for the pharaohs.

“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said. “Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.”

In the video surfaced by Buzzfeed Wednesday, Carson goes on to lay out his argument that the pyramids were constructed for grain storage.

“And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they’d have to be that way for various reasons," Carson said. "And various of scientists have said, ‘well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how-’ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.”

This guy is running for President of the United States. Maybe he's an alien himself? After all, how can he be a brain surgeon when he's clearly too dumb to pour water out of a boot?

"Various of scientists" have said that aliens built the pyramids? Really? How crazy do you have to be before you're disqualified from running the most powerful nation on Earth?

Seriously, the problem here isn't intelligence, I suspect. The problem is that Ben Carson is entirely faith-based. Therefore, he just believes whatever the hell he wants to believe. Reality doesn't enter into his thinking at all.

This is today's Republican Party. Do you think it's coincidence that complete lunatics like Donald Trump and Ben Carson are leading in the GOP polls? Not at all. This is the Republican Party, today.

Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower must be rolling in their graves.

Edit: Also from TPM, Josh Marshall wonders if Carson's whole campaign is just a direct-mail scam:
If you remember the plot of Mel Brooks' classic movie, The Producers, the idea was that the scammers set out to produce the worst possible play imaginable to be certain it would close after one night. Yet, they made it so bad it broke through the membrane of awful into the sublime. And they were screwed. Which brings us to the Ben Carson campaign. There is a lot of evidence, coming from a variety of angles, that Carson for President is actually a direct mail scam. Or at least that it started that way. ...

Hucksters and cheats can be found everywhere. But particularly on the right there is a significant layer of people in the business of fleecing outraged and/or low-information conservatives of their money. Some of it you see with those advertisements for buying gold on Fox News. Another is supplements! Supplements, supplements, supplements - a topic we'll get back to, given Carson's controversial relationship with supplement maker Mannatech. But the big thing on the right are various fundraising groups that exist largely to fundraise. So for instance, you'll have Americans Against RINOs which sends out a ton of direct mail, raises lots of money from conservatives who've just had it up to here with RINOs like Boehner and McCain and McConnell selling the country out to Obama. But instead of that money going to fight the RINOs, most of the money goes back into raising more money.

So where's the money going? Well, the direct mail business is very lucrative. And usually you'll find that Americans Against RINOs has a tight relationship with AAR Direct Mail Inc which is making a pretty penny servicing Americans Against RINOs. You get the idea. Obviously there are crooked charities that run this way. But it's a prevalent model on the right.

And Ben Carson's campaign look a bit similar. Ed Kilgore looked at some of the details here. David Graham has more here at The Altantic. ...

There are other versions of this story. Like why is Mike Huckabee running for President? Because he thinks he's going to be president? Or because of the next Fox News gig or to draw a check or just to keep the name out there for the next promotion deal for Golds R' Us or your home bunker and survival kit? There was some hint of this with the Gingrich campaign in 2012 before he improbably took off for his run as the anti-Romney.

In any case, as I said, whatever role Carson did or didn't have with Mannatech, that's a bit of a tell for me since, as I said, 'supplements' are an endemic part of the wingnut fleecing industry.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Whining: million dollar babies

Funny, isn't it? Such tough guys!

Of course, Republicans like to think of themselves as victims. Conservatives are persecuted by the liberal media who ask 'gotcha' questions, like "what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read?" They're bullied by big, scary college professors. Scientists kick sand in their face at the beach.

Christians are persecuted, too. Remember the 'war on Christmas'? Martyr stories are always very popular. Poor little Christians, only 72% of America (and more than that were raised Christian). How can such a tiny minority survive?

It's hard for even a tough guy, who must always fear that someone will make fun of him. How can they stand it?

Iowa Republicans, at least, had the answer. They refused to issue a press pass to The Daily Show. That would keep them from being mocked, right? Right?

The Daily Show admitted defeat (here and here). :)

Monday, November 2, 2015

John Oliver: Medicaid gap

Note that Nebraska is one of those states which rejected expanding Medicaid. (Naturally.)

Why? Politics. Just politics. Who cares about human beings? Who cares about people? Politics is everything to the GOP.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The story of the white guy in the photo

I remember this very well. It was a big deal in America and got a lot of press attention. But I never heard one word about Peter Norman.

Admittedly, I'm not a sports fan. Maybe this isn't news to others reading this? It's a great video, nonetheless.

Science and religion are mortal enemies

There are scientists who are religious, no doubt about it. But when working in their own field of expertise, those scientists don't consider miracles as possibly affecting their research results. They don't consider the possibility that 'God' might be placing his thumb on the scales.

By and large, they keep their religious beliefs compartmentalized. After all, if they thought that God or Satan or angels interfered in the world, how could science ever get demonstrably valid - reproducible - results?

Science is evidence-based for good reason. Religion is faith-based, which means that it's indistinguishable from delusion and wishful-thinking. Sure, some scientists are religious, but that doesn't prove that science and religion are compatible, but only that human beings aren't always rational and can sometimes hold two contradictory notions at the same time.

God: the love born of terror

A great video for Halloween, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Worse than Benghazi

What's even worse than the Benghazi committee? The House science committee.
Last Thursday, the nation watched with a mix of amusement and horror as the House Benghazi committee spent 11 hours grilling Hillary Clinton on a bizarre farrago of issues, many of which bore only tangential connection to the Benghazi attack.

Over the past few weeks, the political narrative seems to have shifted from "Clinton in trouble" to "congressional witch hunt seeks to take down Clinton." Between McCarthy's accidental truth telling, an ex-staffer confirming the worst reports about the committee, and another House Republican conceding the obvious, it has become clear that the Benghazi committee is a thoroughly partisan political endeavor. Opinion has turned, but Republicans are trapped.

The thing is: The Benghazi committee is not even the worst committee in the House. I'd argue that the House science committee, under the chairmanship of Lamar Smith (R-TX), deserves that superlative for its open-ended, Orwellian attempts to intimidate some of the nation's leading scientists and scientific institutions.

The science committee's modus operandi is similar to the Benghazi committee's — sweeping, catchall investigations, with no specific allegations of wrongdoing or clear rationale, searching through private documents for out-of-context bits and pieces to leak to the press, hoping to gain short-term political advantage — but it stands to do more lasting long-term damage.

In both cases, the investigations have continued long after all questions have been answered. (There were half a dozen probes into Benghazi before this one.) In both cases, the chair has drifted from inquiry to inquisition. But with Benghazi, the only threat is to the reputation of Hillary Clinton, who has the resources to defend herself. With the science committee, it is working scientists being intimidated, who often do not have the resources to defend themselves, and the threat is to the integrity of the scientific process in the US. It won't take much for scientists to get the message that research into politically contested topics is more hassle than it's worth.

The article continues with plenty of examples, then concludes with this:
The science committee, Fox News, the Daily Caller, climate deniers, CEI — at this point, it's all one partisan operation, sharing information and strategies.

Republican radicalization has already laid waste to many of the written and unwritten rules that once governed American politics. The use of congressional committees as tools of partisan intimidation is only a chapter in that grim story.

But the science committee is going after individual scientists, who rarely have the resources on hand to defend themselves from unexpected political attack. It is doing so without any rationale related to the constitutional exercise of its oversight powers — not with a false rationale, but without any stated rationale, no allegations of waste, fraud, or abuse — in service of an effort to suppress inconvenient scientific results and score partisan political points against the executive branch.

The federal government is an enormous supporter of scientific research, to the country's great and enduring benefit, though that support is now under sustained attack. If such funding comes with strings, with the threat that the wrong inquiry or results could bring down a congressional inquisition, researchers are likely to shy away from controversial subjects. The effects on the US scientific community, and on America's reputation as a leader in science, could be dire, lingering on well past the 2016 election.

As if we didn't have enough to worry about, huh? But this is what happens when you put faith over reality and politics over country.

Republicans saw - and still see - racism as an opportunity to make political gains. They saw the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression (on their watch, no less) as an opportunity to make Americans so unhappy they'd vote Republican again in despair. They saw the death of four Americans in Benghazi as an opportunity to attack the likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

They even committed treason, attempting to sabotage America's side in the negotiations with Iran, for political advantage. There seems to be absolutely nothing Republicans won't do if they think it will benefit them politically (and that includes getting them campaign funds from wealthy individuals and corporations).

How much damage will the Republican Party do to America before conservatives come to their senses? Or will they bring America down before that happens?

PS. My thanks to Jim Harris for the link.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Benghazi hearing

Yeah, I know. I've been posting a lot of political cartoons the past couple of days. But I love 'em! And it's been awhile since I really went overboard.

Besides, there's a theme to all of these. :)

Mitt Romney takes the credit for Obamacare

I knew this would happen, eventually. I'm surprised it only took three years, though.
Mitt Romney is finally ready to take credit for Obamacare.

Speaking to the Boston Globe for their obituary of Staples founder Thomas G. Stemberg, who died Friday, the former Massachusetts praised Stemberg for his involvement in pushing “Romneycare,” which in turn, Romney said, led to Obamacare, giving “a lot of people” health coverage.

“Without Tom pushing it, I don’t think we would have had Romneycare,” Romney said. “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So, without Tom a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”

It’s hard to imagine Romney saying such a thing during the 2012 election cycle. Back then Romney was stumbling and bumbling his way to create some distance between the health care reform he championed as a governor and President Obama’s signature health care law.

The focus by conservatives on Obamacare as the leading example of everything that was wrong with Obama made for some extremely awkward moments for the eventual Republican nominee. The similarities between the Massachusetts and the federal laws even prompted one of Romney’s primary rivals to coin the term “Obamneycare.”

The next day Romney promised to repeal Obamacare if elected and vowed that on his first day in the White House, he would “grant a waiver to all 50 states from Obamacare."

Of course, the whole point of 'Obamacare' was that it was the Republican health care plan. Congressional Democrats adopted the Republican health care plan in the hope that Republicans would join them in a bipartisan effort to get health care to the American people.

Of course, what happened was that every Republican instantly turned against their own plan. But then, Republican leaders had vowed, before Barack Obama even took office, to do nothing the Democrats wanted, no matter what it was.

Note that this was while we were in the middle of two wars, not to mention right when our economy was crashing into a black hole in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. This was when the Republican Party decided - unanimously - to put politics above the good of our country!

PS. Of course, Romney is trying to take back his comments now, after they were noticed. What else did you expect? Funny, isn't it?

GOP grumpy cat

I like this president. In fact, I wish we'd had this Obama all along, instead of the one who bent over backward trying to appease Republicans, hoping that they'd eventually value America over politics (which they never did and never would).

Hillary Clinton clearly knows better, and that's one reason why I'm still undecided about the Democratic primary. This guy puts it well:
As an active Democrat who has remained, thus far, undecided, her performance here and at the debate have gone a long way toward convincing me to support Clinton instead of Sanders; even though, politically, my ideals line up more closely with Sanders' democratic socialism than Clinton's quasi-third way centrism.

If a Democrat wins the 2016 election, her or his main job as I see it will be defending the achievements of the Obama administration, which will surely be under even more sustained attack once he leaves office. Any major expansion to that legacy will need to be incremental given a hostile, partisan Congress that, at least in the House, is pretty much "locked in" by gerrymandering until the next redistricting cycle.

In that light, I'm increasingly leaning toward Hillary, not so much based on what she believes but on her competence, both as a public official and as a politician who knows how to punch back.

Yes. In general, I prefer Bernie Sanders' policy positions, though there's not really that much difference. And neither one is going to get his or her policy positions through Congress anyway, since the House of Representatives will stay Republican. (The GOP has gerrymandered election districts, so they continue to control the House even when they badly lose the popular vote.)

Hillary Clinton is establishment, through and through. But she's smart, she's capable, and she knows politics inside and out. Plus, there's no way she'll have the early Obama's naive hope that Republicans will be anything but bitter political enemies, no matter how much their actions harm America.

She has never been more impressive than she was during the Benghazi hearing. That's the kind of president we need. Now, yes, we need a lot of other things, too - especially to get money out of politics. But Clinton is a politician. If the voters demand it, she will get on board.

Keep in mind that Republicans benefit far more than Democrats do by letting billionaires control our country. Even for selfish political reasons, Clinton would be wise to address this problem.

Also, Citizens United was decided by the five Republicans on our Supreme Court, in opposition to the four Democrats. There's no way that any Democratic president will appoint another Scalia, or Alito, or Thomas, or Roberts - or even another Kennedy - to the Supreme Court.

The makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court is probably the most important issue in 2016, and it will probably have the most important impact on money in politics (given the fact that, as I noted previously, the Republicans will continue to control the House of Representatives).

Hillary Clinton impressed me at the debate, and she really impressed me at the Benghazi hearing. And I've always had my doubts that a self-described "socialist" could get elected in America (as stupid as that prejudice might be).

I want to support whichever candidate has the best chance to win in 2016, because the alternative would be worse than George W. Bush as a disaster for America. I was never wild about Hillary Clinton - especially after the 2008 campaign - but she's been changing my mind lately.

We'll see. Nebraska won't be deciding the Democratic primary, anyway, I'm sure.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tom Toles

Is this guy funny, or what? I was looking for a cartoon to illustrate my previous post, and I just couldn't stop browsing through Tom Toles' cartoons. Damn, they're funny! And spot on, too.

Anyway, here's a sampling from the past month or so.

The secret Benghazi conspiracy

When it comes to Benghazi, I'd say that PZ Myers has finally got to the truth here:
The true meaning is at last revealed. I watched bits and pieces of Clinton’s hearing yesterday, and it all became clear.

Years ago, undercover operatives within the Republican party exploited a tragic, deadly attack in Libya. They stirred up some of the dumbest people in the party with a story: Benghazi is in a foreign country, and everyone knows that the Secretary of State is in charge of the foreigns, and so master manipulator Hillary Clinton must have done sumfin’ to rile up the brown people. And then all the dumb people started howling “Benghazi!”, further derailing their party, and getting the people who howled loudest into prominent positions, and sucking up millions of dollars for an “investigation”.

And then they put a guy with a funny name and an even goofier haircut in charge of the whole thing, and every third-rate sour, bitter Republican they could on the committee, and they staged a show trial in which posturing clowns asked stupid questions and Hillary Clinton could demonstrate god-like patience and look like the only grown-up in Washington DC.

It was brilliant. The Republicans look like twits, while Hillary Clinton looked presidential. It was the Kennedy-Nixon debate all over again, with Clinton as the telegenic, good-looking one, and the entire Republican party looking thuggish.

I heard the siren song. I found myself thinking that maybe I should vote for Clinton, too — never mind that Sanders is closer to me politically, man, I could picture President Hillary Clinton so easily.

And in case you missed it all, here is a most accurately abbreviated transcription of the whole thing.

Make sure you check out that link to the abbreviated - very abbreviated - transcription of the ten-hour hearing.

It's paraphrased, a bit. But it's the most accurate - and entertaining - transcription I've seen yet. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fox News vs Captain America

Funny, isn't it? This is absolutely hilarious.

White supremacists as villains? How dare they? Well, I'm white, but like John Iadarola, I don't identify with white supremacists. Not even slightly. They are villains.

BTW, did you catch John's comment about "six years clean"? I nearly bust a gut when he said that (6 minutes, 11 seconds in).

George W. Bush kept us safe,... right?

As ridiculous as he is, Donald Trump is... not wrong about this. George W. Bush kept us safe... if and only if you ignore all the ways he did not keep us safe.

It wasn't just 9/11. We lost thousands of young men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq (not just soldiers, either, but civilian contractors who are conveniently left out of the statistics). How is that "safe"?

Fox 'News' is a complete joke. They're the propaganda arm of the GOP, nothing else.

Star Wars VII: The Racism Awakens

You have to laugh at this stuff, don't you? Is there any other valid response than ridicule?

It's pathetic. It's depressing. But you have to laugh.

The end of this clip was especially good, wasn't it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hypothetical heroics

There's a lot wrong with Republican thinking about 9/11, but... George W. Bush "united our country"?  No, the Democrats united our country. Democrats came together to support America at a time of crisis, rather than engage in partisan obstructionism.

Note what happened during another crisis. In early 2009, our economy was collapsing in the worst economic crash since the Great Depression (and, of course, we were still mired in two wars). A new president was coming into office at this time of potential disaster, taking over from the Republican who had led us into all of these messes.

Did Republicans come together to support America? Did they put aside partisan bickering for the good of the country? On the contrary. Republican leaders met together before Barack Obama had even taken office and agreed to do nothing the new president wanted, no matter what it might be. And they held to that.

Even when the Democrats adopted the Republican health care plan, in an attempt to be bipartisan, every Republican in Congress immediately turned against it - their own plan!

George W. Bush did not unite our country. After 9/11, it was the Democrats who united our country, by putting America above partisanship. Personally, I think they went too far at that, letting Bush get away with far too much. And maybe that was timidity, as well. I don't want to give them too much credit.

Nevertheless, we have a recent example, a clear example, from both the Democrats and the Republicans on how they responded to a crisis threatening America. The Democrats worked to unite us. The Republicans worked to divide us. And they're still doing that.

Anyway, the Nightly Show segment continues here:

I love his point about "hypothetical heroics." Any such claim should be met with complete ridicule. But note his point about blame, too.

You can't blame Barack Obama for Benghazi, where four people died, without blaming George W. Bush for 9/11, where nearly three thousand people died (let alone the Iraq War, where hundreds of thousands of people have died - including 4486 American soldiers).

Republicans want it both ways because it's entirely about politics for them.

PS. Note that Trevor Noah, on the Daily Show, had a segment about this, too: