Monday, June 30, 2014

Impeach the Supreme Court!

I know this is supposed to be Monday Quote day, but THIS:
The Supreme Court has spoken.  Employers can prohibit women's access to birth control. 


what eye thynk:  I am beyond incensed.

The Court notes that its decision is "narrow," saying that it applies only to prescriptions or devices designed to prevent a woman from getting pregnant.   It does not apply to other medical practices that may be prohibited by a person's religion -- i.e. transfusions or vaccinations.  

In other words, your employer can tell a wife/girl friend she is on her own if she chooses to use birth control; but, that same employer must provide coverage to a husband/boy friend for transfusions and vaccinations--even if it those practices are against your employer's religious beliefs.  No prejudice there!

The Court claims their decision prevents discrimination.  Against WHOM?  ONE employer can dictate the health choices of HUNDREDS of female employees and we're supposed to believe that isn't discriminatory?!  

The Court reasoned that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires that "corporate objectors" be awarded the same "accommodation it already provides nonprofit organization objectors."   The problem with that statement isn't the logic used to reach their decision.  It is the fact that there is such a thing as the "Religious Freedom RESTORATION Act in the first place. I was against the passage of that conservative gift-basket of an act back in 1993 and I find it even more offensive today, especially given the interpretation of the act in today's political climate.

Evidence of the harmful aspects of such an act can be seen in the Supreme Court's determination to use the existence of that pointless "restoration" to take away of woman's right to make her own family choices.  Because, you know, a woman can't be trusted to make these kinds of decisions by herself.  

I began this blog back in early 2012 after finding myself sitting in front of my television with tears running down my face, listening to another report of a red state voting to prohibit a woman's right to legal abortion.   I began to write in order to vent; but after 800+ posts, where do I go now?  

I am so angry at being seen as second class simply because I was born with a vagina.  And I am angry that other "Christians" are using their conservative political agenda to keep me in permanent servitude to THEIR interpretation of the Bible.  And I am angry that our lawmakers and our Supreme Court are abetting them in their cause.

I - am - just - so - angry.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - I Got Beat by a Dead Guy

Candidate for
U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma
Timothy Ray Murray
From a letter written by Mr. Murray to the Oklahoma Board of Elections following his primary election loss:
"The election for U.S. House for Oklahoma's 3rd District will be contested by the Candidate, Timothy Ray Murray.  I will be stating that his votes are switched with Rep. Lucas votes, because it is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike.  Rep. Lucas' look alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011."
His web page explains that Mr. Lucas was executed in the Ukraine by the world court.
"I am contesting that this matter has happen since his election was blocked, because the U.S. Defense Department's use of Mr. Murray's DNA.  To my knowledge, the U.S. Defense Department has not released to the public that information, as it is their confidential information about many people.  Congress is likely wanting me to state that all my DNA used will not result in benefits to people I have never had relations with of a family nature.  I have been bound to protect that information unless it causes harm to The People."
Where do they get these people?  And shouldn't a basic grasp of the English language be a requirement for anyone wanting to be a U.S. Congressman?  This reads like Sarah Palin talks.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Letter from the GOP to America


what eye thynk:  Sometimes sarcasm is the only answer.  In that vein, I bring you "A Letter from the GOP to America.

Dear Fellow Americans:

Yes, we're desperate and talking about suing our democratically elected President for trying to govern despite all the times we have tried to stop him.   But we hate him so much that we have been in a dither for nearly six years now so this latest idea actually sounds reasonable to us.  

You can help us by ignoring the well documented numbers quoted above.  Those are facts and we can't have you being confused by them.  All you need to know is that even one executive order delivered by an -uppity black man   Democratic president is one too many.  Just listen to us and we'll tell you all you need to know...no messy truths needed.  

The office of President of the United States is a position of leadership that we feel should rightfully belong to no one but us.  God told us.  We know you share our sense of outrage at the current state of the executive branch and look back fondly on the years of President Cheney and his side-kick W, when there was always a new war on the horizon, the poor joyfully paid taxes so the rich didn't have to, when the earth was ours to exploit and health care was a privilege available only to those with sufficient funds to pay for it.  

With your help, we can get there again.  Our planned lawsuit against the President is just one step in our master plan to take back our country.  When we succeed, we promise you will all be welcome to stay, as long as you do one of two things:  be rich, or be silent.

We are the GOP, the party dedicated to the Bible, war and rich white guys. Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Your Republican Party

Friday, June 27, 2014

How Bad Is It On the Right When Fox News Calls You "Silly?"


House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants to sue the President of the United States.  Michele Bachmann thinks that's a swell idea.

what eye thynk:  Republicans are aware they have lost the fight against the Affordable Care Act, their conspiracy theories on Benghazi and the IRS are weak and struggling, the top three proposed Republican candidates for President in 2016 are all subjects of federal fraud investigations and there is a mid-term election coming up.  What's a Party to do?  Why sue the President, of course!

A few weeks ago, Republicans floated the idea of defunding the EPA and forcing the closing of the federal government later this year in an effort to stop the President from using the power of his office to address climate change--a scientific reality that is anathema to anyone on the right.  There must be one or two legislators on that side of the aisle who can boast of a few still functioning brain cells, because someone pointed out that shuttering the government hadn't worked all that well the last time they tried it. 

Admitting that forcing a government shut-down just a few weeks before an election is not the soundest way to move forward, Mr. Boehner has instead decided that he will demonstrate his leadership acumen by filing a lawsuit against President Obama.  He seems to be a little cloudy on the specifics of that suit, but has complained about President Obama's use of executive orders, so we can assume those will be cited.  I doubt there will be any mention of the fact that President Obama has issued the fewest executive orders of any President (but one) since World War II.  I mean, why mess up a perfectly good vote-attracting lawsuit with something as untidy as facts?

To realize how ridiculous this latest Republican publicity stunt is, you need only look as far as Fox News.  On Wednesday, Michele Bachmann talked to Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto about the Speaker's proposed legal action.  Expecting support, Ms. Bachmann was met instead with derision.  Mr. Cavuto called the lawsuit "an enormous waste of effort" and accused Ms. Bachmann of "conflating issues and being silly...I think you know in your heart of hearts this is a waste of time."

Ms. Bachmann did not take well to this unexpected response and upped the ante by suggesting that Republicans should simply defund the Executive Branch of government.  Mr. Cavuto wasn't having any of that either.  Completely losing his temper, he screamed at Ms. Bachmann, "Think about what you're saying!  Defund the Executive Branch?  Congresswoman!  If Democrats had said to you, 'we're going to defund President Bush,' you would have laughed at them and so you should have been."

It says a lot about how bad things are on the Republican side of the aisle when even Fox News is calling them out for being foolish.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quick Note(s): Gay Rights - Wednesday was a win, Win, WIN!


1.  Indiana
The Indiana legislature, woefully out of step with the times, has been working to get a referendum on a state-wide ballot this November that would amend the state's constitution and ban same-sex marriage.  Indiana currently prohibits same-sex marriage, but that measure was passed by the legislature only and was never presented for a ballot vote.

On Wednesday, Federal District Judge Richard Young made the issue moot by calling any ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.  "These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street.  The Constitution demands that we treat them as such."
I would change his statement slightly to read "These couples ARE the family down the street."
Judge Young did not issue a stay on his order and state clerks began issuing marriage licenses immediately. 

Through a spokesman, Governor Mike Pence (R) said he believes that Indiana has the "right to define the institution of marriage for the residents of our state".  The state will appeal Judge Young's decision.  
Because wasting more money on a lost cause is an example of smart government?

2.  Utah
Last December, Federal District Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah's ban on same-sex marriage.  State Attorney General Sean D. Reyes immediately appealed the opinion, becoming one of ten states taking their arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

Yesterday, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals became the first Appeals Court to announce their decision on the issue.  In a 2-1 ruling, the Court decided against the state.  "We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state's marital laws...A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of persons in the marriage union."

Oklahoma also has an appeal on the docket of the 10th Circuit Court.  The Utah decision does not bode well for that state's petition.

Attorney General Reyes announced that his office will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  A stay will remain in place while the case continues, though some clerks are issuing marriage licenses obviously in preparation for the day when the state ultimately loses its final appeal.
The Supreme Court could decide not to hear the case; but given the current social climate, I don't see that happening.

Update:
3.  South Carolina
In April, I wrote about a newly elected South Carolina mayor firing a popular police chief because she was openly gay.  At the time, he stated that he'd rather have his children protected by a drunk "than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children."
http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2014/04/eye-recommend-south-carolina-mayor.html

After repeated pleas to Mayor Earl Bullard asking him to reverse the firing were ignored, the citizens of Latta, South Carolina held a referendum vote this week.  The result was 328 to 147 for stripping the Mayor of most of his powers and giving those powers to the City Council.  The vote will be certified on Friday morning and the Council plans to reinstate Chief Crystal Moore the same day.
This whole thing makes me wonder how a bigot like Earl Bullard could get elected in the first place, even in a conservative place like South Carolina.  The referendum result proves that the town is more open minded than the man they put in office. Maybe the good people of Latta, South Carolina will be more careful with their votes in the future.   
Ultimately, this week's move gives me hope for the South.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Update: Methodist Appeal Committee Re-Instates Defrocked Minister Frank Schaefer


UPDATE:  
Wa-a-a-ay back in December, I shared an article about the defrocking of Methodist minister Frank Schaefer after he performed a same-sex wedding ceremony for one of his three gay children.:
http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2013/12/eye-recommend-defrocking-of-minister.html

I found it sad that a church could exclude a man like this and ask him to deny his own progeny the rite of marriage.  In a church that claims to be inclusionary, this made no sense to me.  

Yesterday, a Methodist appeals committee overturned Mr. Schaefer's defrocking.  The nine-member panel made up of clergy and lay people decided that the action taken last year was more a retaliation for Mr. Schaefer's refusal to promise never to perform another same-sex marriage ceremony than a punishment for having performed one in the first place.  A representative for Mr. Schaefer cited the case of two Methodist ministers in Washington State who were given 24 hour suspensions after they performed same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Mr. Schaefer explained his decision to celebrate his son's same-sex marriage this way: "I did this as an act of love.  He had been harmed and hurt by the message of the church that said you can't be homosexual and go to heaven."

While the United Methodist Church's official Book of Discipline continues to define marriage as between a man and a woman and forbids the ordination of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals," there are examples of gay clergy serving in the Methodist church, and hundreds of Methodist ministers have signed a document stating their willingness to perform same-sex marriages.  That document begins, "Even as we sign, we repent that it has taken us so long to act.  We acknowledge our complicity in the church's discriminatory policies that have tarnished the witness of the Church to the world."

Conservative Methodists see the committee's decision as the end of a united church.  Reverend Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, a United Methodists organization that opposes same-sex marriage said, "This will be confirmation for traditionalists that we are deeply divided and may not be able to live together.  When we have people who are not only disobedient, but who find a way to not have to keep the covenant they have made with the rest of the church, it helps us to see that maybe we are so different that we've come to the end of the road together."

I prefer to agree with the Mr. Schaefer: "Today there was a very clear and strong signal from the church, and that message is 'Change is on the way.'  One day we will celebrate the fact that we have moved beyond this horrible chapter in our church's life."
Amen to that.

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23 - Monday Quote

This goes along with my post from yesterday, only Mr. Asimov said this 34 years ago in a Newsweek article published on January 21, 1980.  I can't imagine that he would have been happy to find out just how right he was.



monday quote:  There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.  The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"  (Isaac Asimov, writer. 1920-1992)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Beyond the War on Science: Why the Right Embraces Ignorance As a Virtue



BEYOND THE WAR ON SCIENCE: WHY THE RIGHT EMBRACES IGNORANCE AS A VIRTUE, by Amanda Marcotte --
http://www.salon.com/2014/06/13/beyond_the_war_on_science_why_the_right_embraces_ignorance_as_a_virtue_partner/
A look at how the right is perpetuating the adulation of "stupid."  
"Spouting off about stuff you know nothing about is traditionally considered unwise.  But as the Republican war on science intensifies, ignorance has started to become not only less of a handicap, but a point of pride.  In the face of expertise and facts, being belligerently ignorant...has become the go-to position for many conservative politicians and pundits.  Sadly, it's a strategy that's working, making it harder every day for liberals to argue the value of evidence and reason over wishful thinking and unblinking prejudice."
Think of the way Republicans have recently begun using "I'm not a scientist" to defend their position on global warming or women's medical rights, while making it seem that scientists are foolishly delusional and should have no bearing on those charged with making intelligent decisions.
"For modern Republicans, being downright proud of their ignorance has become a badge of honor, a way to demonstrate loyalty to the right-wing cause while also sticking it to those liberal pinheads who think there's some kind of value in knowing what they're talking about before offering an opinion.

This mentality, in its modern form, can be traced back to the Bush White House.  In 2004, Ron Suskind of the New York Times interviewed an unnamed Bush official who famously pooh-poohed what he believed to be the shortcomings of journalists who insist that the truth matters more than fantasy:

The aide said that (journalists) were " in what we call the reality-based community.  That's not the way the world really works anymore.  We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.'"
Aside from the arrogance so typical of the W years, this sounds eerily like the Middle Eastern belief that reality changes minute by minute and so facts are flexible.
"The thing is, shameless lying and ignorance works surprisingly well as a debate tactic.  It's hard to argue with someone who not only has signaled that he doesn't care what the truth is but is downright proud of how little he actually knows.  Such a person is not amenable to being educated. Once the pretense of really caring one way or another about what is right and what is wrong has been abandoned, all avenue of discourse is shut down. 

Take Rep. Jeff Miller's recent appearance on MSNBC.  It was a performance that has become standard on the right when talking about climate change:  Dismissively wave away the scientific consensus and spout ignorance in the most condescending tone possible, as if nothing could be sillier than those scientists with their interests in facts and research.  Miller repeatedly dismissed decades of scientific research showing the reality of global warming as 'foolish.'...

...The problem here is that someone who is not only so catastrophically wrong but downright proud of being an ignoramus is not going to actually bother to listen to a (scientific) explanation...That's why the wall of ignorance is such a powerful rhetorical tool.  When you have nothing but contempt for the facts, attempts to educate you will only make your pride in your own ignorance grow stronger.  The more you try to educate the proudly ignorant, the dumber they get.

At the end of the day, the problem is one of identity.  The conservative identiy is one of being opposed to everything liberal, to the point of despising anything even associated with liberalism.  As liberalism has increasingly been aligned with the values of empiricism and reason, the incentives for conservatives to reject empiricism and reason multiply.  To be a 'conservative' increasingly means taking a contemptuous view of reality.  And so the proudly ignorant grow more belligerent, day after day."
How have we reached this point in our history, a point where one Party sees facts as the enemy and in which a large percentage of our population is unaware they are being bamboozled?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Quick Note(s): Gay Rights, ENDA and the Presbyterian Church


1. ENDA
Earlier this week, President Obama announced that the White House is drafting an executive order that will ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors.  

This is his answer to John Boehner and House Republicans who refuse to consider the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill which has already passed the Senate with bi-partisan support.  The bill now boasts 205 co-sponsors and has a good chance of passing in the House; but Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will not allow his chamber to vote, incorrectly stating that "People are already protected in the workplace."  The protection which he cites prohibits discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or genetic information," but does not protect members of the LGBT community.

So the Speaker is either lying outright or woefully uninformed.  My guess is that it's the former and he is choosing to protect his position as Speaker of the House rather than confront the lack of protection with which LGBT job-seekers and employees contend on a daily basis.
There will be a tremendous outcry when the President signs the executive order, followed by more complaints about him overstepping his rights, followed by more heated cries for impeachment; but the fact remains, if Boehner is so afraid of his fellow Republicans that he refuses to allow a vote and continues to lie about a protection that doesn't exist, the President has no choice but to make this (perfectly legal) move on his own.
The order will only cover employees who work directly for the federal government or for companies who do business with the federal government, but it is the right thing to do.


2. The Presbyterian Church
Yesterday, by a count of 429-175, leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) attending their biennial General Assembly voted to change the definition of marriage.  The Book of Order will now identify marriage as being between "two people."  

The change still must be approved by a majority of the 176 regional bodies before it becomes official--a process that could take as long as a year--but church pastors attending the Assembly said they were optimistic. 


In a second decision, the Assembly voted 371-238 to allow pastors who minister in the 19 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.  That decision does not need further approval and same-sex marriages can begin immediately.


Just over three years ago, the Presbyterian Church (USA), which is the largest Presbyterian denomination, voted to allow the ordination of openly gay pastors.   Their decisions are not binding on smaller denominations like the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, a denomination known to be more conservative.

Two more bricks removed from the wall.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quick Note: GOP on Iraq -- "I Don't Know" vs. the Cheneys



The GOP is talking about Iraq again.  The old guard is back in the media spotlight, gabbing away to anyone who will listen and the current guard is so busy covering their own soon-to-be-up-for-re-election behinds, that they are having trouble saying anything at all.

Dick Cheney has suddenly re-emerged as a conservative media darling and, (God help us), supposed expert on solving the problems in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, co-written by Dick and his I-want-to-be-important daughter, Liz, they wrote: "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."
It is self-serving, revisionist history like this that makes my head want to explode. There is no mention of the 4500 American lives and trillions of dollars that W. and Dick spent on an entirely false hunt for non-existent WMDs.  I guess re-writing history is more fun than admitting you're a lying idiot with no conscience. 
The Cheneys continued:  "Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change.  Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing."
At the risk of being petty: 1.  The President's pronouncements on climate change were made before the situation in Iraq devolved into the current mess.  2.  Yes, the President went golfing over Father's Day weekend while insurgents were beginning to move in Iraq. Cheney conveniently forgets that, at the request of the Iraqi government, we are no longer involved in the day to day running of Iraq.   3.  W. went on several long vacations during the Iraq War, thus becoming the first president in U.S. history to vacation while Americans were risking their lives in foreign lands.
And more:  "Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent and they present a security threat not seen since the Cold War.  Defeating them will require a strategy--not a fantasy.  It will require sustained difficult military intelligence and diplomatic efforts--not empty misleading rhetoric."
This from the man who was front and center in deciding to start a war based entirely on "a fantasy."  As one pundit wrote yesterday, "The Cheneys--the Cheneys--want to talk about the scourge of 'misleading rhetoric.'  Let that thought roll around in your head for a moment."
Rachel Maddow commented on the re-emergence of the Bush-era foreign policy brain trust by saying, "It is very frustrating to see that this is the way that we handle debates about foreign policy in this country.  We take people who were so provably, terribly wrong and bring them back and treat then like experts on the very subject they have been so wrong about.  It is maddening."

But when you look at current Republican leadership, it explains a lot about why the old-guard is back in the headlines.  We have Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) who voiced his displeasure with the way the White House is handling the current crisis in Iraq.  He urged the President to "act quickly" to present a strategy in Iraq. When asked for details on the action he wished the President to take, McConnell said he had no specifics.  Senate Republicans themselves are sharply divided over whether the U.S. should intervene militarily.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged the President to "get engaged" in Iraq.  CBS News' Nancy Cordes asked the Speaker to explain what he wanted the President to do: "Do you think the U.S. should be launching airstrikes?  And if not, what should the U.S. do?"  

Mr. Boehner replied "I don't know enough of the details about airstrikes to comment," but he did propose that we should "provide the equipment and the technical assistance that the Iraqis have been asking for."
Looking beyond the fact that Mr. Boehner appears, improbably, to be unaware that we are already providing equipment and technical assistance to the Iraqi government, the Speaker wants the U.S. to "engage" in Iraq; but he doesn't have any knowledge of how exactly, which makes me wonder how he came to the conclusion that engagement was the answer in the first place.  And I guarantee you that if the President does "engage," the Speaker will be leading the charge to declare it the wrong choice. 
So what we have is a Republican Party whose leaders want somebody else to do something that they can't exactly explain but they know they want it done.  And they want it done yesterday--right after they approve it.  
With an agenda like that, can we really fault the media for focusing on Cheney and his sidekick Li'l Cheney?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - If Only the Poor Would Just Die

John Johnston 
Republican Candidate for the
Indiana House of Representatives, 10th District

During a Facebook discussion on poverty, he remarked that "no one has the guts to just let them wither and die."

When The Post-Tribune asked him about his comment, he explained that he "was not trying to hurt anybody's feelings" but that poor people lacked "motivation."  His solution:  "It's like training a child, either you enable then or force them out at some point."
Oh, that's okay then. For a minute there I thought Mr. Johnston might have misplaced his empathy gene.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quick Note(s): GOP Living in the Land of "Nothing Makes Me Happy"

1. Starbucks

Starbucks is known to be a generous employer paying above minimum wage and offering health insurance even to part-time employees.  
And the company is still profitable!  Someone tell Sam Walton and John Schnatter!  
One would think that Howard Schultz' announcement of a new employee benefit would be met with nothing but smiles, but one would be wrong.

Yesterday, Starbucks announced that it would provide every employee working at least 20 hours a week with two years of absolutely free college tuition at Arizona State University. Arizona State has one of the most advanced and successful on-line programs in the country. Students who take advantage of the program will not be required to stay on as a barista after graduation, and there is no limit on the field of studies that can be chosen. 

The first complaint about the new tuition program is that Starbucks is eliminating its current tuition aid program.  Currently, Starbucks employees are eligible for aid not to exceed $1000/per calendar year.  Few employees took advantage of the soon-to-be obsolete program and the new plan is much more generous; but some people are just never happy.

Students who have completed at least 21 credits (the number considered to equal one full year of college education), are eligible to have the next two years of tuition--at the cost of $450-500 per credit hour--paid 100% by Starbucks.  If a student has yet to earn 21 credits, Starbucks will offer partial aid and will help in applying for federal assistance; but critics think that isn't generous enough. 

The third complaint seems to be that Starbucks will not pay a student's course fees upfront, but will reimburse the costs only after 21 credits are completed.  
So basically, Starbucks is offering their employees approximately $20,000 in virtually free tuition, but critics are unhappy because the employee has to demonstrate some responsibility by actually completing the course work first? 
These are the same people who look at a perfectly blue Summer sky and complain that it isn't their favorite shade.
2. Benghazi 

 Portrait of Ahmed Abu Khattala, that has been independently confirmed by two sources to The Washington Post. Photo was taken from a Facebook page.

U.S. forces have captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, believed to be the mastermind behind the 2012 attack on our consulate in Benghazi.

Like the death of Osama Bin Laden, when Republicans whined because Bush wasn't given the credit they thought he deserved, (never mind that he had been out of office for nearly three years at that point), Republicans are finding lots to not like about the Benghazi capture.  For one, they don't think the President should get credit for the arrest because he wasn't in Washington when it happened.  
Because this was not planned long in advance of the President's trip or they don't believe there are phones wherever the President was at the time the arrest was made?  Take your pick.
A Fox News host seems to think there is something odd about the timing:  "You have a former secretary of state who is in the middle of a high profile book tour.  I think this is convenient for her to shift the talking points to some of the things she has been discussing."  Another member of the Fox News team called it "Good news there...I guess."

Rush Limbaugh called it a "timely coincidence" and suggested that the arrest was designed as a distraction from the IRS scandal. 
 You know, the one that was over and done a year ago and was proven not to be a scandal at all.
Former congressman Joe Walsh (R) commented on his Twitter feed: "Glad we nabbed a #Benghazi suspect, but the timing is questionable.  Did they let him wander, waiting for the perfect political opportunity?"
I'm guessing that the GOP talking point gurus sent out a memo saying to "lean heavy on the timing issue."
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, (who both called for the closing of Guantanamo Bay back in 2008) now think it would be a mistake to try Khattala in U.S. courts despite the fact these courts have great track records for convicting and imprisoning terrorists.  Instead, they want him sent to Guantanamo, preferably without Mirandizing him.  
Terrorist suspects were routinely Mirandized under W--but that is so last administration.
Upon hearing Mr. McCain's and Mr. Graham's comments, Senator Pat Leahy (D), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee was quoted as saying, "Oh for God's sake."  
Which seems like a good note on which to end this post.

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16 - Monday Quote



The principal of Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida has canceled the entire Summer reading program because the book list included Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother."  He says a parent complained about the book's profanity.  (In truth, there is no actual profanity, only a reference made to one "bad" word--something the principal would know if he'd bothered to read the book himself.)  He also objected to "Little Brother" because he believes it encourages youth to "question authority." 

It should be emphasized that this was a HIGH SCHOOL reading program--you know, a school populated by teenagers who already know more swear words than most adults and for whom questioning authority is a right of passage.

Realizing that having a book banned is going to mean that every student in the school is going to want to read it to see why, Tor Books has arranged for 200 free copies to be delivered to the school.

This principal might have heeded Ms. Godwin's words before he acted.

monday quote:  A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone. (Jo Godwin)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Quick Note: Non-Christians Are Going to Hell! (This Message Paid For With Your Tax Dollars)

Representative Louis Gohmert (R-Texas)

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing this past week to delve into religious freedom.  

Reverend Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State was asked to appear and offer his perspective on the issue from the view of minorities. Instead, Representative Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) seemed determined to turn it into a trial about Reverend Lynn's personal beliefs.

Reverend Lynn introduced himself by explaining that he believes in religious freedom for everyone and his life's work has been promoting that right.  Apparently this upset Representative Gohmert, who immediately went on the offensive asking the Reverend if he understood that he should be promoting Christianity above all else, especially the concept that anyone who does not believe in Christ is going to hell.

Rep. Gohmert:  I'm curious, in your Christian beliefs, do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to to hell, consistent with the Christian belief?

Rev. Lynn:  I wouldn't agree with your construction of what hell is like or why one gets there.


Rep. Gohmert:  You don't believe somebody would go to hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?


Rev. Lynn responded that he does not believe there is "a specific set of ideas" guaranteeing a one-way ticket to hell.


Rep Gohmert:  No, not a set of ideas.  Either you believe as a Christian that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life or you don't. And there's nothing wrong in our country with that--there's no crime, there's no shame.


Rev. Lynn:  Congressman, what I believe is not necessarily what I think ought to justify the creation of public policy for everybody.  For the 2,000 different religions that exist in this country, the 25 million non-believers.  I've never been offended.  I've never been afraid to share my beliefs.

This whole exchange is offensive in so many ways, and Mr. Gohmert's self-important bullying is only one of them. 
But the question that I really want answered is, given our premise of separation of church and state, why is the "state" holding hearings on religion in the first place?   And, to follow that line of thinking further: why, if these hearings are being funded with tax dollars paid into the U.S. Treasury by Christians as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, atheists and agnostics when will the non-Christians be invited to "testify?"
Or are these Congressional hearings designed to establish that religious freedom is a right reserved only for Christians like Mr. Gohmert?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Quick Note: David Brat, Uncovered?



David Brat has looked like a deer in the headlights since upsetting Eric Cantor in Virginia's primary election earlier this week, and has shown himself to be woefully unprepared for life in the media spotlight.

Mr. Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, was interviewed by MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Wednesday.  When he was asked about whether he would support raising the minimum wage, Mr. Brat replied "Um, I don't have a well-crafted response on that one."
This is a professor of economics, who has been running a campaign for Congress for months and he doesn't know what he thinks about the minimum wage?
Mr. Brat added: "I thought we were just going to chat today about the celebratory aspects...I love all the policy questions, I'm happy to do more, but I just wanted to talk about the victory."  
He sounds like a 15 year old who was just elected president of his junior high school chess club. Wheee!  Yippy Skippy!  Look at me!  I won!
Then there is Mr. Brat's campaign manager, Zachary Werrell, a 23 year old Libertarian who wiped his Facebook page this week, but not before some of his postings were scrutinized.  In one post, Mr. Werrell supported the innocence of George Zimmerman and railed against people who were pro-choice but didn't support the Zimmerman verdict.   
I'm not sure of the connection, but I don't see his post making any inroads with minorities or pro-choice advocates. 
In other posts he called for abolishing the FDA, (all drugs should be legal), supported the right of any state to secede from the U.S., "I say yes.  I derive that opinion from our first foundational document--the Declaration of Independence.  What say you?", and offered the opinion that women should not be permitted within "fifty feet of where boys are taught...It is way past time.  Women in our feminized classrooms are consigning generations of our sons to years of misery and diminished futures."
That ought to bring in the women voters.
I can only hope that now that he is running in a "grown-up" election, Mr. Brat will consider hiring a adult campaign manager.   
While Zachary Werrell's posts were interesting, I was still curious to know what Mr. Brat had to say for himself.   I did a search putting together David Brat and all the Republican favorite talking points.  I found his opinion on Benghazi to be an eye opener:  "My guess is Republican leadership did something related to Benghazi that they don't want coming out. That's the best of what I've heard.  There's something a little fishy there."
So Republicans are gung ho on investigating Benghazi because they had something to do with it that they are trying to cover up?  Why do I feel that this opinion will not make him popular with his fellow Republicans?
The Christian right may be able to find something to love about him.  In an essay on economics and Christian ethics, he wrote:  "If we make all of the people good, markets will be good.  If markets are bad, which they are, that means people are bad, which they are.  Want good markets?  Change the people."

Of course, he also said, "Are you willing to force someone you know to pay for the benefits for one of your neighbors?  Very few Christians I know are willing to say 'yes' to this question."
He seems to believe that all our economic problems will go away if everyone becomes Christian and attends church regularly.  But at the same time, he doesn't know many Christians who want to help their neighbors, which is sort of a basic tenet of Christianity.  It's not clear how he reconciles what I see as two disparate opinions. Or maybe he means there won't be anyone left for Christians to help because we'll all have become equally rich church goers.
All I know is, that after delving into Mr. Brat's writing, I still don't know what he stands for.  Better minds than mine will be analyzing this latest Tea Party darling in the months to come.
 I can't wait. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

No More American Lives for Iraq!

Iraq is a mess...again.

Not unsurprisingly, Republicans are blaming it all on President Obama and calling for military intervention.

what eye thynk:   Don't even get me started on how there wouldn't be anything to blame on anybody if W. and his warmongering buddies hadn't decided to get their "war jollies" on by invading that country--under false pretenses--in the first place.

Republicans are saying we should have left a small residual force in Iraq after the 2011 American troop withdrawal.  What they seem to forget is that, at that time, the Iraqis refused.  They took our military training, they took our weaponry, they took our investment in their infrastructure, they took our monetary aide; but they made it very clear that Iraq was not part of the United States and they wanted to run their country by themselves.  They wanted us out...period.

So now we have Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe with Sam Stein and claiming that the U.S. had a "victory" in Iraq that could have withstood the passage of time if we had left a residual force there to police it. 

Ignoring the fact that Mr. McCain has forgotten that Iraq refused to allow any U.S. military personnel to remain, Mr. Stein asked an important question:  "So I'm curious.  What is the definition of victory?  What is the definition of winning?  Does it mean having a residual force basically without end date? I'm a bit confused.  I want to know what victory is to you."

John McCain, (who loves to be on television but gets darn right prickly when anyone disagrees with him), replied: "I think you are confused because you didn't know what happened with the surge where we basically had the country pacified.  We had a stable government in Baghdad, and we had the conflict basically...won...Now (Prime Minister) al-Maliki is very weak.  Maliki got worse after we left.  And again, I knew this was going to happen, because we didn't leave that force behind.  And so I'm sorry about your confusion,  but anybody who was there will tell you we had the conflict won."

So, Mr. McCain believes we "won;" but thinks we should have left troops there indefinitely in order to remind people of it.  He thinks the government in Baghdad was stable, but then says that Maliki "got worse after we left," which begs the question, how bad was he in the first place?  And how stable was this wonderful government we had created for him?

I have to say, I agree with Mr. Stein's point that it's really not a victory if you have to leave troops to enforce it indefinitely.

As for Mr. Maliki's call for the U.S. to bring military help back to his country, I would remind him that the people who created the Iraq war claim that it ended in victory.  Mr. Maliki acknowledged that victory, made it clear that the leadership of his country belonged to himself and his fellow Iraqiis free of outside intervention and sent us on our merry way.

Now, thanks to his mismanagement, Iraq is broken again and Mr. Maliki wants a do-over.  He seems to think that every time he has a problem,  we should fix it.

Note to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki:  War doesn't come with a warranty, even "victories" like W's.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer is Coming! Got Your Bulletproof Beach Blanket?

Sunday, June 8 -- Two Las Vegas policeman executed, one civilian shot dead by self-proclaimed Tea Party revolutionaries.  After barricading themselves in a Wal-Mart, one shooter was killed by police, the second killed herself.

Tuesday, June 10 -- A high school freshman in Oregon shot dead by classmate, one teacher wounded. (This was considered so "normal" that it wasn't even front page news.  I had to search for the article and found it in an inside section of the newspaper.)  Shooter killed himself after being cornered by police.

Wednesday, June 12 -- One priest shot dead in his Phoenix church, a second priest wounded.  Shooter still at large.

what eye thynk:  Where do we find Congressman willing to stand up and admit that we are losing our country and our children's futures to gun violence?  Where are the legislators who are appalled by a world where a school shooting ceases to be front page news?

How many people do you have to kill and where do you have to kill them to become a headline?

And still pro-gun nuts want more gun access.  They want to live in a world where strapping an AK-47 to your back when you go out to mow your lawn is normal behavior.   They want us to believe that if everyone carried a gun wherever they went--home, school, church, restaurant, movie theater, beach, shopping mall--all the killing would stop.  But, when everyone is armed, how do we tell the rifle-toting guy who is just out walking his dog from the shoulder-holster accessorized woman who is looking to overthrow the government or avenge some perceived social slight?

Bill Maher may have put it best:  "We are at the intersection of Open Carry Rd. and Stand Your Ground Place.  According to the NRA's basic principles, you have the right to carry a weapon that may cause a reasonable person to believe they are in danger of great bodily injury. And they have the right, if they feel that way, to respond with deadly force.  It's a perpetual violence machine."

I saw an ad from an Oklahoma company the other day that is marketing neon orange bulletproof blankets to schools at a cost of $1000 each using this cheery text:  "9:02 a.m.  Who would have guessed that on a quiet spring morning their lives would be changed forever by a sudden school tragedy."



What does it say about us that we accept school shootings as inevitable; and, rather than working to neutralize the threat of gun violence at its source, we choose instead to create a $1000 band-aid and a marketing plan?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Alex Jones is an Idiot...and Dangerous...and a Coward



On Monday, conspiracy theorist and sometimes Fox News guest Alex Jones claimed that the killing of three people in Las Vegas on Sunday was "absolutely staged" by the federal government.  "There is so much proof of this being staged yesterday, when I first read about it, and this morning, that my mind exploded with hundreds of data points, and quite frankly it's conclusive."

what eye thynk:   Alex Jones is an idiot...and dangerous.  The idiot part should be obvious to anyone with functioning brain matter.  What makes him dangerous is the people out there who lack that attribute.  They are listening to "The Alex Jones Show," his Austin, Texas based syndicated news/talk show and believing everything this nutcase says.  

These are the sort of people who walk around carrying assault rifles and looking for someone to object to their "look at me, I'm a gun owner" posturing so they can holler anti-government slogans into the wind.  The sort of people who swallow the conspiracy garbage spewed forth by narcissistic haranguers like Alex Jones.  The sort of people who the NRA, Fox News and far right-conservative screamers continue to encourage with the use of more and more escalating and inflammatory rhetoric.  The sort of people who become the Tea Party couple who executed two Las Vegas police officers who were doing nothing more contentious than eating lunch at a family friendly Cici's Pizza restaurant.  This couple, who believed they had been called to "start the revolution," draped one officer's body in a Tea Party-affiliated flag before moving on to kill another innocent American who was doing nothing more nefarious than shopping at his local Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon. 

Organizations like the NRA and those who support their "guns-are-the-answer" oratory have created an American sub-culture that courts violence.  It is a bottom-feeding aesthetic that favors confrontation over conversation and exploits the intellectually unfavored among us with the promise of ascendancy garnered through the ownership and public display of guns--more guns, bigger guns, faster guns, louder guns, more powerful guns. 

This is not moral.  This is not honorable.  This is not noble.   It is the dissolution of ethical civilization and the shaming of America on the world stage.   It is cowardice.  

It is said that great civilizations begin to decline after 200 years as their leaders become apathetic and the weakest begin to fill the vacuum left by the strongest's inability to move beyond complacent torpor. The United States of America is 238 years old.  Think about it.  And weep.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Update: How Far Will the GOP Go to Deny Health Care to Virginia's Poor? Pretty Damn Far.


Ex-State Senator Phillip P. Puckett

Update:  The Fight for Expanded Medicaid in Virginia
Back in April, I wrote a "Quick Note" article about the fight by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) to expand Medicaid under the ACA in order to provide health care for 400,000 of his state's poor:
http://whateyethynk-politics.blogspot.com/2014/04/quick-notes-aca-and-medicaid-expansion.html

I explained the empasse in Virginia this way:
Most of the states that have refused to expand Medicaid are completely in Republican hands--both legislature and governor.  But one fight is different.  Virginia's Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), is trying to expand Medicaid for 400,000 poor Virginians who fall into the ACA coverage gap--people who cannot afford the ACA but are not quite poor enough to qualify for Medicaid as it currently stands in Virginia. Mr. McAuliffe  is facing Republicans in Virginia's House of Delegates who say they are willing to shut down the entire state government in order avoid the expansion.  The Governor even proposed a two-year trial expansion--the period when the federal government would pick up 100% of the cost--which could be canceled if it was unsuccessful.  The Republican led House Appropriations Committee killed it in committee.
With a deadline of June 30 looming, (if no budget is passed by then, the state of Virginia will effectively close), the Hold-the-Budget-Hostage-Over-Medicaid fight just got a little dirtier. The Republican dominated House of Delegates refused to consider the budget if the healthcare provision was included.  The Virginia Senate, which was split evenly with 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats could not muster a majority.  Republicans decided the solution was to bow to the gods of dirty politics; all they needed was a Democrat who was willing to play their game. 

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that Virginia's Republicans had found a willing participant in State Senator Phillip P. Puckett (D).   You see, Mr. Puckett has a daughter, one Martha Ketron, and Ms. Ketron wants to be a Juvenile Court judge.  It was reported that, if Mr. Puckett would resign, Virginia's Senate Republicans would be only to happy to make sure that happens.  In order to sweeten the deal, and in acknowledgement that Mr. Puckett would be voluntarily giving up a well-paying gig as State Senator, Terry G. Kilgore (R), a member of the House of Delegates and chairman of Virginia's Tobacco Commission, canceled a meeting on Wednesday in order to "interview" Mr. Puckett for the position of deputy director of the Tobacco Commission.  

That weekend news report resulted in swift and vehement backlash against Mr. Puckett.  Mr. Kilgore called the attacks on Mr. Puckett "reprehensible."

Perhaps, but the fact remains that Mr. Puckett did formally resign from the Virginia Senate on Monday, leaving his district--one of the poorest in the state and one that would greatly benefit from the passage of a budget that included the Medicaid expansion--without representation while handing the Republicans a 20-19 majority.  With no chance of a special election happening before the June 30 budget deadline, the Senate can now remove Governor McAuliffe's health care provision and forward the neutered budget to the House of Delegates for their approval.  Governor McAuliffe would then find himself in the unenviable position of vetoing the budget and closing his state down or of signing the budget thus leaving 400,000 Virginians without healthcare.

The only hope left seems to be three moderate Senate Republicans who previously had indicated they were open to supporting the Medicaid expansion.  Now that their party holds a slim majority, however, they have been silent about whether they will continue their support or give in to party loyalties.
Ex-State Senator Phillip P. Puckett's obvious self-serving resignation puts him beneath contempt and the fellow-Virginians he pledged to serve are left at the mercy of a state GOP that appears to have given up even the pretense of fair and honest governing with their convoluted yet obvious machinations.  
As one pundit remarked:  "Imagine what would be possible if conservative policymakers invested this much effort in actually helping working families."
Imagine indeed.   

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 9 - Monday Quote

Yesterday's post regarding a new Christian Dating Game reality show on GSN reminded me of today's quote.

If you have never read anything by Anne Lamott, (she describes herself as "a left-wing, born-again Christian with a bad attitude...If Jesus does not have a sense of humor, I am so doomed that none of this matters anyway"), you are missing a refreshing and unique voice in Christian literature.  It doesn't matter whether you believe or not; her sense of humor and irreverent take on faith will make you think.  

Many Christian bookstores will not carry her books, which is what made me first look at her book GRACE (EVENTUALLY).  I wanted to know why an American, born-again Christian author who writes on life and faith would be banned from bookstores catering to the Christian faithful.  

After reading her book GRACE (EVENTUALLY), I decided that Christian bookstores preferred their customers to be coddled rather than challenged.  It also explains a lot about my lack of respect for the modern, conservative, evangelical Christian movement in this country.
monday quote:  You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates the same people you do.  (Anne Lamott, writer, 1954-       )

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Quick Note: The Christian Right Gets Its Own Game Show

Game show contestant Angela Morgan (left) with show host Natalie Grant in Charlotte, N.C.

GSN, (the Game Show Network), will be premiering a new, eight-episode reality game show next year.  "It Takes a Church" will be hosted by singer Natalie Grant and sponsored by the Christian Mingle dating service.

The hour long show will take a pre-selected single person across the U.S. to visit different Christian churches where the pastors will ask their congregations to find a romantic partner for her/him. Each church will present several prospective partners, and at the end of each hour, the contestant will choose one candidate to join her/him on a date.  The church's candidates who are left standing "near" the altar (so to speak) will be awarded a free membership to ChristianMingle.com.
I would laugh if this wasn't so patently sad.
At the end of the season's "competition," the contestant will choose her/his favorite date from her/his eight weekly partners and the church that put forward that partner will win a cash prize.

In the press release, Ms. Grant said, "I'm so excited to host 'It Takes a Church' and to have the opportunity to interact with churches all across America to bring a family-friendly show based on Christian faith and values."
You have got to be kidding me.  I can't help but wonder if Jesus is going to make a surprise appearance in episode six and throw these buffoons out of His house.  Or as television columnist Neil Genzlinger put it:  "The show is utterly frivolous and is reviewed here only because it's another development in the continuing spectacle that is religion in America."
And, in a final note, please look at the photo at the top of this post one more time.  Am I the only one who finds the group of grinning men surrounding contestant and host just plain creepy? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Quick Note(s): Same-Sex Marriage By the Numbers -- 19, 10, 21 and the Final 1



1. Wisconsin
Between June 2013 and May 2014, thirteen states have seen their bans on same-sex marriage overturned by federal courts.  On Friday, Wisconsin became the 14th state to join that club when U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the state's 2006 ban on such unions was unconstitutional. 

The state argued that, traditionally, marriage has been recognized to be "the union of an opposite-sex couple."  Judge Crabb noted that "tradition" is not a legal argument.  She reminded them that nearly 100 years ago it was traditional that women be denied the right to vote.  

"Like moral disapproval, tradition alone proves nothing more than a state's desire to prohibit particular conduct."

She also pointed out that, according to biblical text and for much of human history, traditional marriage was accepted as being between one man and multiple women, "which presumably is not a tradition that defendants...would like to continue."

In anticipation of the Judge's ruling, clerks in Milwaukee and Madison brought in extra staff in anticipation of some busy days ahead, though it is still not clear at this time whether same-sex couples will be permitted to begin marrying immediately.  

Governor Scott Walker (R) indicated the state will appeal Judge Crabb's decision.
There are now 27 states where same-sex marriage is legal.  That number includes states where either voters or legislatures have passed laws recognizing same-sex marriage and also states where federal judges have overturned same-sex marriage bans, whether under appeal or not.
We're more than half-way there!

2.  North Dakota
Late Friday afternoon, North Dakota became the last state to test the same-sex marriage waters when seven couples--some old, some young, some seeking recognition of out-of-state marriages--filed a case challenging that state's ban on same-sex unions.

Where we stand today:

  • Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states + D.C.: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
  • Federal judges have declared laws against same-sex marriage unconstitutional and those decisions are now under appeal in 10 states: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin.
  • Challenges against same-sex marriage bans have been filed, but no ruling has been issued in 21 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.
These cases are going to begin landing in the Supreme Court's lap soon.  I look forward to celebrating the announcement that same-sex partners are free to marry anywhere in the United States of America.

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day, June 6, 1944

Seventy years ago today, the United States and England, joined by many of the Western Allies, began the Normandy Invasion.. D-Day, June 6, 1944, was the first day of the massive amphibious attack on the coast of France, then under German occupation.  On that day, thousands of ships, tanks, planes and troops crossed the English Channel, coming to shore on the coast of Normandy.


June 6, 1944 - Omaha Beach
Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division

"Whenever the world makes you cynical, whenever you doubt that courage and goodness is possible, stop and think of these men." 

(President Barack Obama on June 6, 2014, 
the 70th Anniversary of D-Day)


June 6, 1944, Omaha Beach

Thursday, June 5, 2014

And the Republican Bizarre Opinion Machine Goes Into Overdrive



Yesterday I wrote about the freeing of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and how there is no clear right or wrong answer to how it was accomplished or even how he became a prisoner of the Taliban:  Bowe Bergdahl Is a Free Man. Now What Do We Do?

Today, Republicans are falling all over each other to talk about it.

what eye thynk:   If the Republican response to his imprisonment and subsequent release were a mixed bag yesterday, they are just plain bizarre today.

1.  Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) wants us to believe that the President decided to arrange a prisoner exchange and release of Sgt. Bergdahl only after the VA healthcare mess became front page news. 

Mr. Perry talking to Sean Hannity on Fox News:  "Here's the bigger concern for me, and I really would like for somebody to take a look at this and answer it--was this done to take the VA off the front page of the newspapers?  An absolute debacle that we've seen this administration not taking care of the men and women of our military, and this kind of happened all of a sudden it seems like."
This exchange didn't happen overnight. It was in the works long before the VA problems became public--something anyone with a modicum of common sense would realize.  Swaps like this aren't arranged between coffee breaks on a slow Monday.

2.  Yesterday I predicted that the GOP would find a way to connect Bergdahl and Benghazi.   U.S. Representative Buck McKeon (R-California), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, almost beat me to the punch.  He is already planning on holding hearings connecting the two issues.  

"It really is kind of ironic, because this is kind of playing out much like Benghazi where they kind of do or don't do something, and uh, and then kind of come up with a story afterward of why they did or didn't do something. This is really mind-boggling."
What boggles my mind is that this is what passes for intelligent discourse in the GOP.

3.   And then we have U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (R-California), whose comments, while not especially well thought out, are at least original.  He came out swinging, not at the President, but at Secretary of State John Kerry.  Mr. Kerry undoubtedly was a hands-on participant in the Bergdahl release negotiations, but his participation wasn't the focus of Mr. Hunter's ire.  Instead, he decided to attack John Kerry's patriotism--the same John Kerry who earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts during his service in the Vietnam conflict.

"As John Kerry threw his medals over the White House fence and turned his back on all of his Vietnam brothers and sisters, that's what Bergdahl did.  Bergdahl walked away from his men." He added that the Bergdahl exchange was "a botched foreign policy move."
While Mr. Hunter's comment pins the "deserter" appellation on Bowe Bergdahl, it is still unclear whether the Army considered him a deserter or not.  (Does the Army promote deserters?  He was a Private when he disappeared, a Sergeant when he was released.) 
Mr. Hunter takes a leap and bases his comparison on the fact that, after being honorably discharged from the military, Mr. Kerry protested the war in which he had served bravely.   Apparently, on Mr. Hunter's side of the political spectrum, publicly expressing an opinion equals desertion.  (Did I miss the small print that says the First Amendment does not apply to military veterans?)
**********
The Bowe Bergdahl release is fresh news and, as I said yesterday, there are no easy answers. 

In the partisan world that is modern American politics, we can expect the Republicans to squeeze as much negativity from the issue as possible; just don't expect their arguments to be particularly coherent or consistent with the positions they voiced just last week, at least not right away.  Give the GOP message gurus a day or two and they'll all be on the same page.  In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the Chimera.