Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quick Note: The Supreme Court Giveth and Greece, NY Taketh Away

In May of this year, the Supreme Court heard the case of Greece v Galloway.  The suit, brought by a group of local citizens of Greece, New York, was an attempt to stop the practice of beginning each council meeting with a prayer offered by an informal "chaplain of the month." The citizen group (Galloway) cited the separation of church and state. 

Arguing in favor of the opening prayer, lawyers for the town council stated that the invocation was not exclusively Christian, but was open to all religions.  They stated that even a non-believer would be welcome to make an opening statement as long as it had some positive or inspirational purpose.  Lawyers for the citizen's group pointed out that, despite what Greece's attorneys stated, according to public record, the prayers were not all-inclusive, and even the title "chaplain of the month" denoted a member of the Christian faith.   They offered evidence that the opening prayers were offered almost exclusively by members of the Christian clergy who "called on Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit to guide the council's deliberations."  The council's lawyers responded that anyone could "apply" to offer the opening prayer and that were open to hearing from other religious groups.

The Supreme Court's conservative Justices swallowed the council's argument and, by a vote of 5-4, concluded that "ceremonial prayer" is permissible.  That decision overturned an earlier and unanimous appellate court's ruling.

Fast forward to this past week in Greece, New York.  Taking advantage of the Supreme Court's decision, the town council there adopted a formal invocation policy that makes mock of the inclusiveness their lawyers argued in their case just this past spring. The new policy restricts opening remarks to "assemblies with an established presence in the Town of Greece that regularly meet for the primary purpose of sharing a religious perspective."

According to what I have been able to find, there are several Catholic churches, an Episcopalian church, Baptist churches and churches belonging to the Congregationalists and United Church of Christ.  And, while there are established Jewish synagogues and even Buddhist temples in the area around Greece, none are actually within Greece's town limits, which would seem to exclude their members from offering an opening prayer at any Greece town meeting, even if the member is a town resident. Further, since non-believers would naturally lack "established" meeting places where "religious perspective(s)" were discussed, it would seem that this new policy also excludes their participation.

As the Reverend Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said, "They said they're open to anybody.  Now (that they have the Supreme Court on their side) they're not open to anybody.  It's really a scam...They only want religious people--frankly they only want Christians--to participate.  This is a step backward."
Not only is it a step backward, it is the exact opposite of what the Greece council's lawyers argued just four months ago--it makes their entire case before the Supreme Court a lie.   
How proud these "Christians" must be.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bob McDonnell: Straight or Gay, Despicable is Despicable

Former Virginia Bob McDonnell, center

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is currently on trial for corruption in office.  

It is obvious to anyone following the trial, that he and his wife did not have a happy relationship.  This week, he moved out of their joint home.  His new living arrangement is,  to say the least, interesting.

what eye thynk:   When I was a kid and in the middle of a childhood spat the point of which is lost to me, I remember my grandmother telling me that the things we dislike most in other people are usually, if we look closely enough, the things we actually dislike about ourselves.  

I am reminded of that conversation as I consider the case of Bob McDonnell's new living arrangement.  A well-known homophobe, ex-Governor McDonnell refused to include sexual orientation in the list of hiring discriminations he would not tolerate as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Mr. McDonnell is a graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University--the same Pat Robertson who blamed 9-11 on America's tolerant attitude toward gays--and has a history of agreeing with most of Mr. Robertson's most egregious anti-gay opinions.

Which brings me to how Mr. McDonnell's new roommate brought my grandmother's teaching to mind.  This week, he moved out of the home he had been sharing with his wife and moved in with the Reverend David V. McGuire.  Reverend McGuire was recently removed from his post as pastor of St. John's Catholic Church in Highland Heights after pleading guilty to having gay sex in a parking lot on Thanksgiving night.

Anyone who has followed this blog or who knows me personally can tell you I have no problem with the Reverend McGuire being gay.  In fact, I feel sorry for the heavy burden his church puts on him, a burden that requires him to be less than the man God created in the first place.

But the case of ex-Governor McDonnell is another matter.  Mr. McDonnell is either a) a closet homosexual who, as my grandmother would say, hates himself or, at the very least is b) taking advantage of the innocent hospitality of a man whose ilk he has treated with derision his entire life.

Take your pick, either choice exposes Bob McDonnell for the wretched human being he is.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Quick Note: The NRA's Callousness on Full Auto

On Monday, a 9 year-old girl accidentally killed her shooting instructor when she couldn't control the kickback on an Uzi after the instructor set it to full auto.  

The media exploded with all the obvious questions: Why is a 9 year-old even holding an Uzi? Why isn't there a minimum age for handling military type weapons?  What were these parents thinking? What made the instructor think a 9 year-old girl could control such a weapon?

On Wednesday, while the two families involved in this tragedy were dealing with their new reality--one family lost its father and husband and the other must deal with a child who will live with this memory for the rest of her life--an official with the NRA using the Twitter handle @NRAWomen tweeted this gem:

I am beyond words.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tea Party Signs - the Joke Is On Them

Installment #2 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

It's hard to say which is funniest, this guy's obvious belief that a comma and an apostrophe serve the same purpose, his rationing of the letter "R" or his (I hope) inadvertent public request to help him choose a lifestyle.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Several Questions I Want Republicans to Answer About President Obama

It's been nearly 6 years since Barack Obama became our 44th President.  In all the intervening months, the Republican Party has done everything it can to breed discontent in their constituency by creating and feeding one bizarre theory after another, by lying, by obstructing, by generally disrespecting the man and the office and claiming that the world as we know it is coming to an end.  They have been Chicken Little on uber-steriods. 
Mr. Clifton has some questions for them.

"When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, I knew the right-wing freak out over our nation electing its first black president was going to be fairly intense,  Though I really didn't think it would be as bad as it's been.  

I figured there would be a lot of ignorance thrown his way, but I really didn't believe that it would reach the level of unrelenting paranoia and hatred that we've seen.  

And even after well over five years in office, you can't convince many conservatives that their ridiculous conspiracy theories about the president that haven't remotely come true are wrong.  The still believe them...

...For instance, when is he finally going to come around and confiscate our guns?  I've been hearing the NRA and their fellow gun nuts proclaim President Obama is out to confiscate our guns since he was elected in 2008.  So, I'm just wondering, as we're quickly approaching about the 75 percent completion mark of two terms in office, when exactly does he plan on doing this?

Another question I'd like conservatives to answer is what freedoms have they lost since he's been president?  He's this big 'freedom-hating socialist,' right?  Well, what freedoms did they have prior to his election in 2008 that they don't have now?"
I have to admit, that's my favorite question.  Wish I'd thought of it.
"Oh, and where are those death panels?  I'm really curious to see which sick American will be the first one the Obamacare death panels sentence to die.

Also, where's all this socialism I've heard about?  It's been well over 5 years and all I've seen is record stock levels, high corporate profits and record-setting private sector job growth.  If he's a socialist, he's the worst one in history.

And can some conservative please explain to me how has Obama made the United States less safe?  Is it his high use of drone strikes against terrorism?  His threatening military action against Syria if they didn't turn over their chemical weapons?  Or what about when he ordered the killing of Osama bin Ladin?  I guess he needed to start two wars, while not accomplishing the goals of either, to be seen by conservatives as 'making us safer.'

Another thing, if he's really this radical anti-Christian Muslin, why has he come out in support of gay rights, more specifically same-sex marriage?  (Conservatives must realize that radical followers of Islam are) even more fiercely against gay rights than many far-right evangelical Christian conservatives.

I guess the same question could be posed about his stance on women's rights.  Being that followers of radical Islamic laws aren't known to be the most pro-women's rights people out there.  In fact, if he were really some radical-leaning follower of Islam, his social policies would be much more in line with conservatives than liberals.

And I'm sorry conservatives, but you can't claim 'Republicans in Congress have prevented most of this from happening.'  Because, according to those same congressional Republicans, President Obama has acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally to wield his power, bypassing Congress to 'rule more like a king or dictator.'...

...So, conservatives, please enlighten me.  Because I'm really curious as to why so many of your conspiracy theories and outlandish claims against the president have yet to come true."
Listed like this, the GOP's dire warnings seem even sillier.   
The GOP has spent nearly 6 years acting like a colony of ants that suddenly found its hill kicked over.  They have been running in circles with no clear leadership and no agenda other than to re-fight the last two presidential elections.  They are unable to accept that they lost--twice--so they continue this strange, delusional campaign.  They continue searching for that one sound byte that will turn the tide in their direction, will cause their supporters to cheer and wave the Republican battle flag at their next campaign stop, that will carry them triumphantly into the White House.  
They are so busy bemoaning the loss of their beloved demesne, that it has yet to occur to them that they, their constituency and the country would be better served if they were to forsake their lies, abandon their flattened insect hill and put together a plan to rebuild a mound that works.   
Even ants are smarter than that.

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25 - Monday Quote

This bumper sticker, currently for sale at Cafe Press, made me laugh out loud.

monday quote:   Obama is not a brown-skinned, anti-war socialist who helps the poor and gives away free health care.  You're thinking of Jesus.


Then, looking for a good photo of President Obama to go with the bumper sticker quote, I came across this and couldn't resist sharing:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

GOP Not Racist, Just Misunderstood

Screen shot from Poplar Bluff, Missouri city councilman Peter Tinsley's Facebook page.
The picture has since been removed.

In October of last year, in a fit of pique and to show how on-board he was with the GOP's Obamacare-Will-Destroy-the-Country campaign, Poplar Bluff, Missouri city councilman Peter Tinsley posted a doctored photo on his Facebook page showing President Obama as an African witch doctor dressed in loincloth, bones and feathers and with the "C" in Obamacare changed to a Communist hammer and sickle symbol.

Last week, after being called out at a city council meeting, he apologized, blaming the Republican Party for making him do it.  "At one time, I was a very active Republican, very opposed to Obama...I believe I got caught up in an emotional moment of sharing jokes."

Local Republican chairman Eddy Justice responded, in the GOP's defense, that Republicans are not racist and did not encourage Mr. Tinsley's racist photos or comments.  "Republicans believe everyone should be judged on their qualifications, on their ability."

On August 18, ten months after posting it, Mr. Tinsley finally removed the offensive picture from his Facebook page.

what eye thynk:   First, I have to believe that if he hadn't been called out by a prominent church leader in Poplar Bluff, that picture would still be on Mr. Tinsley's Facebook page.  And, what ever happened to personal responsibility?  Why is it that everything seems to be someone else's fault?  The "my political party made me do it" defense just doesn't fly.

Second, looking at the GOP's record since President Obama took office in 2009, I'd say chairman Justice may be a bit confused about how his party views minorities:

  • Jim Brown (R) candidate for Congress from Arizona: "I want folks to think about something.  I want folks to think about how slavery really works.  Back in the day of slavery, slaves were kept in slavery by denying them education and opportunity while providing them with their basic needs...Basically slave owners took pretty good care of their slaves and livestock and this kept business rolling along."
  • In his book, Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative, Arkansas State Representative Jon Hubbard (R) wrote that slavery "may actually have been a blessing in disguise.  The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation every established on the face of the earth...(and) wouldn't life for blacks in America today be more enjoyable and successful if they would only learn to appreciate the value of a good education?"
  • Nevada State Representative Jim Wheeler, speaking to a Republican crowd last year, responded to a question from Chuck Muth, leader of the conservative group Citizens Outreach.  Muth asked Mr. Wheeler if he would vote yes "If...citizens decided they wanted to, say, bring back slavery?" Wheeler responded "Yeah, I would."
  • At last year's Conservative Political Action Conference, the largest and most important gathering of conservative Republicans of the year, one of the scheduled panel discussions was called "Trump the Race Card."  Audience participant Scott Terry's comment that "Blacks should be happy that the slave master gave them shelter, clothing and food" was greeted with cheers.  He was rewarded with more cheers and applause when he continued that he believed racial integration would be a better policy for today.  He did agree that blacks should be allowed to Africa.
  • Alabama Representative Mo Brooks (R) recently opined that Democrats are "waging war against white people."
  • In Kentucky, conservative Judge Sandra McLaughlin makes no apologies for her dislike of President Obama.  Recently Darryl Broaddus appeared in her courtroom for an arraignment wearing an Obama t-shirt. "He's lucky to get out of here alive.  Did you see his t-shirt? That was a double whammy...(that shirt is) not helping (his cause.)"
  • U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) told Fox News that "We would treat any other colored President the same way...I don't see why they call us racists."
  • Don Yelton (R) North Carolina precinct captain appeared on The Daily Show to defend the state's new voter ID laws and peppered his comments with the N-word and phrases like "lazy blacks." He said he loved seeing portrayals of President Obama as a witch doctor.
Which brings us back to Mr. Tinsley's Facebook post of our President as an African tribal witch doctor.  

Is it true that every Republican is a racist? Of course not.  Neither does every Democrat support equal opportunity for those of other races.  The truth is, however, that the Republican Party does little to silence racist attitudes within its ranks, choosing instead to laugh at members' tasteless jokes, wink at disrespectful comments aimed at our first black President, (when Republican leadership isn't making like comments themselves), and cheer when rank and file party members voice opinions steeped in pre-1960 precepts.

Public denial, no matter how loud, does nothing to change private attitudes--and privately, the GOP provides its members with a protected environment in which to continue the incubation of their entrenched racist beliefs.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - The GOP Needs to Talk Down to Women...Really

Renee Ellmers (R)
U.S. Representative from North Carolina

Republicans admit they have a hard time connecting with women voters.  Ms. Ellmers would like to give them some tips:

"Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level.  Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they've got some pie chart or graph behind them and they're talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful, and you, know, we all agree with that.  We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman's level and what everything that she is balancing in her life--that's the way to go."
Maybe women in North Carolina are, you know, stupider than, you know, women in Ohio, but, you know, this doesn't sound like it's going to, you know, be a blueprint for success with, you know, women voters across the, you know, country. 
Color me proud to be a Democrat where it is believed that a woman cannot only understand but is capable of creating her own pie chart and of grasping the vastness of anything numbered in the trillions--a party that doesn't require a woman to check her brain at the know.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Rand Paul: International Trash Talking--It's Not Wrong If the GOP Does It

Then-President George W. Bush signing the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2008

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) visited Guatemala recently bringing along three TV cameras, three photographers, six reporters, a political aide, two press secretaries and David Bossie, a far-right political activist.  The purported reason for his visit was to do some volunteer work As a U.S. licensed ophthalmologist, Mr. Paul's purported reason for his visit was to do some volunteer medical work.

what eye thynk:  Why he needed cameras, photographers, reporters, press secretaries and a political activist made more sense when it turns out he also planned a meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina to discuss American politics.

Speaking of his 45 minute meeting with Mr. Molina, Senator Paul said, "I told him, frankly, that I didn't think the problem was in Guatemala City, but that the problem was in the White House in our country, and that the mess we've got at the border is frankly because of the White House's policies."

Of those being intercepted at our southern border, a large percentage have stated they came here to escape the culture of violence endemic in places like Guatemala where wholesale kidnapping of children in order to force them to join violent cartels is a fact of life.  Yes, it is common knowledge that they will not be immediately returned to their native countries which gives these young people a chance to disappear among the millions of undocumented residents here.  But, contrary to what Mr. Paul would like to believe, that is not an Obama policy!

The current law that forbids the immediate deportation of these children is a George W. Bush legacy.  One of the last pieces of legislation he signed into law as President was the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  Its purpose is to protect young immigrants from ending up in the sex trade.  The law is a good one; but it has tied the hands of the current administration during the current border crisis.  Rather than acknowledge that fact, we have Rand Paul venting his Republican spleen against the Democratic President his party has made a near-religion out of disrespecting.

During the Bush/Cheney years, Al Gore (D) was widely criticized during a trip to Saudi Arabia for speaking negatively about "abuses" committed against lawful Arab citizens following 9-11.  Accusations of treason were heard from the right. 

In 2007, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) met with leadership officials in Syria, Eric Cantor (R) spoke to the media suggesting that she may have violated the Logan Act, "which makes it a felony for any American 'without authority of the United States' to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government's behavior on any disputes with the U.S."  Fellow GOP congressman agreed with his assessment and flogged that news story for a few weeks.

The loud silence about Mr. Rand's Guatemala meeting makes it apparent that talking trash about American leadership is okay, if you're a Republican. 

I guess that's what happens when your vitriol over the other party winning the White House becomes too corrosive to contain within your own borders.  I mean, how many times can you disrespect the president at home when that just doesn't do enough to soothe your hatred anymore, and the only way to make yourself feel better, bigger, more important is to take your show on the road?  Diplomacy, respect and national pride be damned; let that dirty laundry fly, GOP, let it fly.  And if it undermines the current diplomatic dialogue between President Obama and President Molina, so much the better.

Shame, Mr. Paul, shame on you and your party.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Closer Look at the Facts Put Perry in More Peril?

Texas Governor Rick Perry's Mug Shot

Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted on charges of abuse of power.  This week, he was formally charged, fingerprinted and smiled for his mugshot.  The case stems from his attempt to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg (D) to resign after her 2013 DUI arrest.  Ms. Lehmberg, who has worked for the DA's office since 1976 and has headed the office since 2009, was fined $4000 and served half of her 45 day jail sentence after pleading guilty in the case.  

Governor Perry requested that she resign, stating that she was unfit for public office.  If she did not resign, he threatened to veto $7.5 million in funding for her department.  When she returned to her job after serving her sentence, Mr. Perry made good on his threat and vetoed her funding.  

what eye thynk:   At the time of her arrest, Ms. Lehmberg's office, which is in a Democratic leaning county, (surely an anomaly in Texas), was investigating Gov. Perry's office for corruption involving a cancer charity. If she resigned, the governor would have been free to choose her successor, undoubtedly a Republican, and that investigation would have died on the vine.

Some news stories have looked at Ms. Lehmberg, sitting in her anomalous blue county, and Mr. Perry, steeping himself in red presidential hopes, and called the indictment "iffy," and simple political in-fighting.  I'll admit to wondering how far the case could go, until I found that:

  • In 2002, Texas Swisher County District Attorney Terry McEachem (R) was found guilty of DWI in a New Mexico courtroom.  Governor Perry had nothing to say.
  • In 2009, Kaufman County District Attorney Rick Harrison (R) was found guilty of DWI after he drove the wrong way down a one-way street and struck another car.  This was Mr. Harrison's second DWI conviction.  Governor Perry had nothing to say.
  • In 2012, State Representative Jim Stick (R) was arrested for DWI.  Since then, he has requested and been granted extension after extension on his case.  The latest information I can find is that there was another hearing scheduled for May of this year.  In this case, Governor Perry did have something to say.  He thought Mr. Stick was one of Texas' finest and, in April--four weeks before Mr. Stick's May DWI hearing--appointed him as chief legal council for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
I'd say the Republican Party should save themselves a lot of trouble and just remove Mr. Perry's name from their presidential primary ballot now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - We'd Disrespect Any "Colored" President

Michele Bachmann (R)
soon to be Ex-U.S. Representative 
from Minnesota

It's August and Congress is at home resting after a grueling 56 days of work since April 28, the day this session began.  Since I can't write about any current developments at the Capital, I looked back at some of the comments I've saved.  This one reminds me how much I'm going to miss Michele Bachmann next year.

Am I supposed to feel better that Republicans believe it is okay to treat any President who isn't a WASP with disrespect?   
Michele Bachmann: stupid and not afraid to prove it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - No Lesbians Allowed

Bryan Fisher, 
Conservative Radio Host and 
Director of Issues Analysis 
for the American Family Association

In a Tweet regarding the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry on charges of Abuse of Power:

"I've just received credible information that the DA who indicted Gov. Perry is an open lesbian. Abuse of power, anyone?"
So, if you're a gay District Attorney you shouldn't be permitted to indict anyone? And if you do, you're guilty of abuse of power?  
I wonder in which book of the Bible this nutcase found that gem?

And let's not forget 
Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) 

who had this to say about his indictment: 

"We don't settle political differences with indictments in this country"
We sue them instead! 
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott recently boasted that he has filed 30 lawsuits against President Obama, adding "I am not done yet."  And do I need to mention the lawsuit House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is planning against the President? 
So, in Republicanland,  Indictments = bad...Lawsuits = good; and only straight people should be permitted to file indictments.
Republicans have some weird rules.

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18 - Monday Quote

Well said...

monday quote:  Quiet people have the loudest minds. (Stephen King, author, 1947-     )

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quick Note: Whose Religion?

We hear a lot these days about bringing prayer and religion back into public schools.  Some of the loudest voices have probably not thought this idea out all the way...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Eye Recommend --- A Mother's White Privilege

A MOTHER'S WHITE PRIVILEGE, from the Manic Pixie Dream Mama blog
A friend of mine shared a post from the above blog this morning.  It is fairly long and I have condensed it somewhat; but the point is still potent.  No matter how many minority friends or co-workers we have, white people cannot really know what it is to be black in America.  And this mother points out that if we don't educate our white children about the inequalities, we will never be completely equal. 
"As the ongoing events in Ferguson, Missouri show us, America's racial tensions didn't disappear when George Wallace backed down from the school house door...White America remembers this at ugly flashpoints: the Rodney King beatings...Trayvon Martin's death.  White America recoils in horror not at the crimes--though the crimes are certainly horrible.  It's not the teenagers gunned down, the police abuse, the corrupt trials.  It's this:  at these sudden, raw moments, in these riots and demonstrations and travesties of justice, White America is forced to gaze upon the emotional roil of oppression, the anger and fear and deep grief endemic to the Black American experience. Black America holds up a mirror for us.  And white America is terrified to look.

To admit white privilege is to admit a stake, however small, in ongoing injustice.  It's to see a world different than your previous perception.  Acknowledging that your own group enjoys social and economic benefits of systemic racism is frightening and uncomfortable...But think on this.

I have three sons...They are various shades of blond, various shades of pinkish-white...Their eyes are blue and green.  Basically, I'm raising the physical embodiment of The Man, times three.  The White is strong in these ones.

Clerks to not follow my sons around the store, presuming they might steal something.

Their normal kid stuff--tantrums, running, shouting--these are chalked up to being children, not to being non-white.

People do not assume that, with three children, I am scheming to cheat the welfare system....

...When my sons are teenagers, I will not worry about them leaving the house.  I will worry--that they'll crash the car, or impregnate a girl, or engage in the same stupidness endemic to teenagers everywhere.

I will not worry that the police will shoot them.

If their car breaks down, I will not worry that people they ask for help will call the police, who will shoot them.

I will not worry that people will mistake a toy pistol for a real one and gun them down in the local Wal-Mart.

In fact, if my sons so desire, they will be able to carry firearms openly.  Perhaps in Chipotle or Target.

They will walk together, all three, through our suburban neighborhood.  People will think, Look at those kids out for a walk.  They will not think, Look at those punks casing the joint.

People will assume they are intelligent.  No one will say they are "well-spoken" when they break out SAT words. 

Women will not cross the street when they see them...

...My sons will never be mistaken for stealing their own cars, or entering their own houses.

No one will stop and frisk my boys because they look suspicious...

...My boys will carry a burden of privilege with them always.  They will be golden boys, inoculated by a lack of melanin and all its social trapping against the problems faced by Black America.

For a mother, white privilege means your heart doesn't hit your throat when your kids walk out the door...

...It carries another burden instead.  White privilege means that if you don't school your sons about it, if you don't insist on its reality and call out its oppression, your sons may become something terrifying.

Your sons may become the shooters."

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Am Ashamed

Michael Brown

I have hesitated to write on the mess in Ferguson, Missouri despite the fact that it has been front and center on every newscast and news publication over the past few days.  My first reaction, which I posted on August 12: "Another Teenager is Dead.  Let's Go Get Stuff!" got me kicked off the Democratic Underground site for being a racist. 

That wasn't my intent. I only wanted to point out that looting and burning are self-defeating responses to grief and anger.  I don't understand when similar demonstrations happen after someone loses a soccer game either, though I didn't mention that in my post.  I was looking only at the narrow example of the mess in Ferguson and how lawlessness was doing nothing to help the family of that dead boy. You can read my comments here.

what eye thynk:  Over the past few days, I've read everything I could find on the conflict, from a Twitter post made by a white woman who offered outrage that the black citizens of Ferguson see themselves victims, (I won't repeat it here, it was embarrassingly ugly and hateful), to editorials on the militarization of police forces across the U.S., to the stories about reporters being arrested in a McDonald's while they were charging their phones and filing their reports.

With the changing of the guard in Ferguson, and the obvious difference it has made to the people there, I find myself relieved...and not a little ashamed. Ashamed that "my people" thought the best way to react was with tanks and tear gas. Ashamed that it took this tragedy for me to recognize that the apparent sense of white superiority demonstrated by the police force in Ferguson is not just the stuff of political or hypothetical rhetoric, but an embedded fact of life in some cities and some states.  I am ashamed that there are places in this country where burning down a QuickTrip market is the only way to get my attention.

I still think looting and burning is wrong and self-defeating.  I don't understand it as a response--to anything--and I probably never will.  Those are shoes I can never walk in.

But I find I want to apologize. And I want to know that Michael Brown's death will serve a purpose; that things will change, that life will get better and fairer, that people will listen to everyone equally.

And I am ashamed to think that it won't.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quick Fact: Too Many Issues!

Escalating violence in the Middle East, racial unrest in Missouri, Congressional ineptitude, continuing Republican attacks on the ACA, and Social Security, diminishing women's rights...I didn't know where to start today, so I turned to Maxine:

Sometimes you need to take a breath and smile.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why Can't the Tea Party Learn to Spell?

Today, I'm starting a new feature.  I call this one:
 Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot 
(and Grammar Is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

As an inaugural example, I give you this Tea Party-er who may still be holding a grudge over being the first one eliminated during his second grade spelling bee...also the third grade bee, the fourth grade, the fifth, sixth, seventh... 

A true and proud believer in the "Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot" doctrine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another Teenager is Dead. Let's Go Get Stuff!

Another black teenager is dead, shot by a policeman, this time outside St. Louis.  The stories of what happened are so diametrically opposite that the parties seem to be talking about two entirely different events.  We may never know the entire story of what happened, but that is not the point of this post.  Everyone with a heart has to feel sadness: but something else came to my mind as I watched and read about the aftermath of the tragedy.
A QuickTrip convenience store burns during a night of rioting in Ferguson, Missouri last Sunday.

 ---> RANDOM THOUGHT:  When did "Someone got shot!  Let's go get stuff!" become a reasonable response to the loss of a life?  

It disgusts me.  It cheapens the sorrow and makes mock of the anger if we believe the answer to one family's personal tragedy is to avail ourselves of someone else's property and to destroy someone else's source of income.

I am not saying anyone should accept these losses silently; but there is a huge difference between a civilized, responsive demonstration and using the disastrous event for personal profit. 

While the young man's family continues to mourn their son and the innocent businessmen these people stole from are cleaning up and worrying about their loss of income, the looters are at home, wearing their stolen shoes and watching the aftermath on a brand new, pilfered big screen TV. 

I wonder: Do they think they helped solve the problem?  And are they proud?

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11 - Monday Quote

Ann Coulter called Dr. Kent Brantley and nurse Nancy Writebol "idiotic" for choosing to volunteer in Africa during the Ebola outbreak.  Of Dr. Brantley in particular, she said that if he had stayed home to "care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham...he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World."  (Why all those editors, writers, etc. should find themselves uninsured when we have the ACA is an argument for another time.)

Donald Trump tweeted: "People that go to far away places to help out are great--but must suffer the consequences." (Cringe-worthy incorrect use of the English language here. People WHO, Donald.  "Who" refers to people, "that" is for everything animals and inanimate objects--or your hair.)

I much prefer the response voiced in today's quote, in defense of those who voluntarily put themselves in harm's way...

monday quote:   It's natural to feel sorry for Kent, but I wonder if Kent...might feel sorry for some of us, at least those of us shaking our heads in dismay at anyone who would travel halfway across the world to do what he did.  A ship may be safest in harbor but that is not what ships are for. (Dr. Richard Gunderman, former medical school professor of Dr. Kent Brantley)

Nurse Nancy Writebol and Doctor Kent Brantley

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Quick Note: Pope Francis--Loved by the World, Dissed by House Republicans

Pope Francis wears an indigenous headdress given to him by
 Ubirai Matos from the Pataxo tribe in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 27, 2013

With the gridlock that has plagued Congress for the past 5 1/2 years, the news that another piece of legislature is being held up in the House is hardly big news, but this one rates some notice:

Representatives John Larson (D-Connecticut) and Pete King (R- New York) introduced a resolution congratulating Pope Francis on his election and recognizing "his inspirational statements and actions."  The measure, which is symbolic only, has 221 sponsors--202 of those sponsors are Democrats.

The resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has refused to act on it.  One House Republican, who is unnamed in a Religion News Service report, said the GOP considers the pope to be "too liberal."  This same lawmaker is quoted as saying that his fellow Republicans have complained that Pope Francis is "sounding like Obama" and were unhappy that the pope had voiced a negative opinion of his party's "trickle-down economics" platform.  He said conservatives consider that sort of rhetoric to be "politically charged."

Nearly half of all resolutions introduced in the past two years have been voted on and passed by the House. A symbolic resolution praising the head of the Catholic church can't even make it out of committee in Washington.
If the Pope isn't good enough for you, maybe the problem isn't the Pope.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Eye Recommend --- One Court, Three Judges and Four States With Gay Marriage Cases

Advocates of same-sex marriage marched in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

My home state of Ohio joined Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee in federal court on Wednesday where each defended its ban on same-sex marriage.  It didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped.
"The steady march of judicial approval for same-sex marriage over the past year ran into some skepticism...on Wednesday as a three-judge federal appeals panel heard arguments in six same-sex marriage cases from four states."
The panel consisted of two judges appointed by George W. and one appointed by Bill Clinton.  The hearing lasted for three hours.
"Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, one of the Bush appointees and a likely swing vote among the three, repeatedly asked why gay rights advocates wanted to use the courts to hasten an outcome they were gradually winning through elections and changes in attitude.

"'I'd have thought the best way to get respect and dignity is through the democratic process," he said.'"
Maybe because these people are asking the court to intervene because they are sick of waiting for the "democratic process" that created these same-sex marriage bans in the first place to un-create them. 
Really, if a state legislature or state voters put such a ban in place, how else are gay couples supposed to get them reversed if not through the court system? Public opinion may have changed over the past decade; but, as evidenced by the number of states appearing in District Courts defending their bans, it doesn't look like state governments are inclined to respond positively to the current tide.
And has Judge Sutton forgotten that it was the Supreme Court that jump-started the present-day movement by overturning DOMA?  The movement started in the court system and it will have to end there.
"Judge Sutton did suggest that the arguments offered against marriage equality were weak, saying that marriage bans would be hard to defend if subjected to the intense 'heightened scrutiny' that courts apply when fundamental civil rights are at stake."
Which is sort of the point of bringing the cases to court, so he seems to have answered his own question.
"But he also wondered whether legal precedents...should prevent the panel from declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right deserving court intervention."
May I say that Judge Sutton sounds an awful lot like a closet homophobe looking for an excuse to hide behind? 
"In often caustic questions, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, the Clinton appointee, left no doubt where she stood.  When the lawyer for Michigan said that the courts should not tamper with an institution as deeply rooted as marriage, she replied that bans on interracial marriage were also deeply rooted before the Supreme Court found them unconstitutional.  'That was the law across a huge swath of the Southern states,' she said. 

The third judge, Deborah L. Cook, another Bush appointee, spoke little during the unusual proceeding in which one state's case followed another without any breaks.  But she seemed to favor the right of states to ban same-sex marriage.

If this court were to rule against same-sex marriage, it would create greater pressure on the Supreme Court to rule on the issue to clear up the contradictory decisions among appeals courts."
Well, if there is a bright side to the chance that my District Court may be the one to put the brakes on the same-sex marriage juggernaut, I guess that would be it; but I would still prefer that I didn't find myself living in a state facing the wrong way in this fight.
"A core issue, lawyers representing the states said again and again, was whether the federal courts had a right to overrule the will of the people."
But if popular opinion is changing, as Judge Sutton suggested, that would mean the "will of the people" in 2014 is not the same as it was in 2004--and it would seem to give the court a reason to nudge the "democratic process" along.
"A second crucial issue in Wednesday's hearings and in courts across the country is whether same-sex marriage is simply an expansion of a well-established fundamental right to marry reflecting shifting social norms, and thus worthy of constitutional protection, or whether gay couples 'seek recognition of a new right,' as Kentucky argued."
If same-sex marriage is an "expansion...reflecting shifting social norms," then why are states fighting to stop it? And calling the right to marry a "new right" is an argument that rates a big "Huh?"
"This week, Utah and a county clerk in Oklahoma petitioned the Supreme Court for a hearing.  More such appeals are expected, and many experts predict that the Supreme Court will accept one or more of these appeals this fall, for a decision in 2015.  If the Cincinnati panel or another appeals court rules against same-sex marriage, resulting in a 'circuit split,' quick Supreme Court action would be virtually certain."
Other arguments presented were Michigan's claim that marriage between a man and women is a "bedrock of society."  Judge Daughtrey responded that "It doesn't look like the sky has fallen" in any of the states that now recognize same-sex marriage.
Kentucky argued an economic rationale by claiming that natural procreation among heterosexual couples is necessary for a strong economy. This is one of those arguments that makes zero sense to me.  I wonder how Kentucky would handle heterosexual couples who choose not to have children.  If, after xxx number of years as a married couple there are no children in evidence, will the couple receive a State-Sanctioned Annulment Notice in the mail because they didn't procreate?  Or will Kentucky insist they pay a We-Don't-Have-Children-Fine-of-Shame into the state coffers in order to keep the economy booming? And judging by the number of same-sex couples with infants on hand in the Cincinnati courtroom this week, it doesn't appear that baby-making is a problem for same-sex couples.
The fight continues with cases from Indiana and Wisconsin scheduled before the Seventh Circuit Court on August 26.  The Ninth Circuit Court will hear arguments from Idaho and Nevada on September 8.
This bump in the road to marriage equality surprised me and disappointed me.  I can only hope Judge Sutton recognizes that his apparent personal aversion is not a legal argument.


Friday, August 8, 2014

I Agree With Rick Santorum! -- Eric Cantor, Not So Much

With all that is going on in the world today, I felt the need to write about something that, while it may not be timely, may bring a smile.

Quotes from Mr. Santorum and Mr. Cantor are taken from a transcript of last fall's Values Voters Summit.

what eye thynk:  What amazes me about this statement is that he is proud of it.  He is living proof of his own veracity.  

And if you need any more evidence that conservatives exult in exercising their right to be stupid, I give you this argument against poverty programs and gay marriage voiced by (then) House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

"That is why we believe in traditional marriage, because marriage, more than any government program ever has or ever will, has lifted up people out of poverty, even those who felt there was no hope.  Marriage has proven to be that formula which has been more successful at allowing for that pursuit of happiness.  And that is why we stand tall and stand proud for traditional marriage."

So maybe the answer isn't food stamps, but a government paid membership to Christian Mingle!  And since no gay people would be allowed to join the CM site, they would all remain poor and then the GOP could justify turning their backs on them because they would be, well...poor.  

Or maybe Mr. Cantor believes that traditional marriage must be protected because, if same-sex marriage is permitted to proliferate, the magic Marriage Poverty Cure would stop working. 

As Louis Peitzman of Gawker said: "If that doesn't make sense to you, take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror.  You might be one of those smart people Santorum has heard so much about."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Abortion Like Right to Bear Arms

An excellent argument with an outside-the-box perspective.
"What if Alabama passed a law that shut down all but two of the state's guns-and-ammo stores?

'The defenders of this law would be called upon to do a heck of a lot of explaining--and rightly so in the face of an effect so severe,' U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson wrote this week in a 172-page marjoity opinion striking down a provision of state law restricting abortions."
In 2013, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) signed new abortion restrictions into law. One of the new requirements was that all doctors performing abortions in Alabama have admitting privileges at local hospitals.  This requirement would have closed all but two abortion clinics in the state.
In July of that year, Judge Thompson temporarily barred the state from enforcing that provision, considered a linchpin of the law, after pro-abortion activists filed a suit saying the provision was medically unnecessary.  
"Revisiting the issue in the court's Monday ruling, Thompson said, 'The court was struck by a parallel in some respects between the right of women to decide to terminate a pregnancy and the right of the individual to keep and bear firearms, including handguns, in her home for the purposes of self-defense.'...

...The right to bear arms means little if there is no one from whom to procure guns and ammunition, Thompson wrote.  Likewise, the right to abortions is meaningless if there are no medical professionals to perform them.

'With this parallelism in mind, the court poses the hypothetical that suppose, for the public weal, the federal or state government were to implement a new restriction on the procedure they must employ in selling such goods and that, further, only two vendors in the State of Alabama were capable of complying with the restriction: one in Huntsville and one in Tuscaloosa,' Thompson proposed.

'The public and courts would demand that backers of the law explain themselves,' the judge wrote.

'So long as the Supreme Court continues to recognize a constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, any regulation that would, in effect, restrict the exercise of that right to only Huntsville and Tuscaloosa should be subject to the same skepticism,' he said...

...Gov. Robert Bentley issued a statement Monday saying the federal ruling will make abortions less safe.

'As a doctor, I firmly believe that medical procedures, including abortions, performed in Alabama should be done in the safest manner possible.  This law ensures that if a complication arises there is continuity of treatment between doctor and patient.  This ruling significantly diminishes those important protections.'"
Well, "as a doctor," Mr. Bentley should also be aware that, should a rare emergency situation arise, the local hospital will admit and care for the patient whether the doctor has admitting privileges or not; but that fact doesn't mesh well with his true prejudice toward a woman's right to choose:
"(Mr. Bentley continued) 'We are extremely disappointed by today's ruling.  Abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life, and I believe that it should only be done as a last possible effort to save the life of the mother...I will always fight for the rights of the unborn, and support an appeal of today's decision." 
Anyone has the right to oppose abortion; but it would be a lot easier to respect their opposition if they would stop lying and throwing around claims that they are only trying to protect the safety of women's health. 
If you oppose abortion for religious reasons, be honest enough to say so.  Stop hiding behind phony medical safety issues.  If you want the freedom to worship as you choose, then allow me the freedom to do the same, even if we see Christ's role in my family planning choices differently. 
Keep YOUR religion out of MY choice; and I'll respect your choice to make a quasi-religion out of gun ownership.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Barack Obama, Top Strategist of a "War on Whites?"

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama)

In a recent interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), spoke about immigration reform and censored President Obama for fighting a war against America's white population. 

He said, "This is a part of the war on whites that's being launched by the Democratic Party.  And the way in which they're launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else.  It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things."

what eye thynk:   I am in awe of the convoluted thinking that Mr. Brooks must have used to get to his opinion.  Somehow, he has twisted the GOP's anti-immigration stance into a Democratic anti-white crusade.  He doesn't seem to care that Hispanic voters may be turned off by his party's immigration policies.  Instead, he appears to believe it is more important that immigration reform be seen as part of a "war on whites" implemented by our first minority President specifically to hurt white Americans, who, it must be interpreted, he secretly hates.

Stay with me on this, because I realize I'm treading perilously close to aluminum hat theorist territory.

In our recent history, positions on social issues have been decidedly partisan. With that in mind, ask yourself who are the "whites" that Mr. Brooks claims Democrats are using as targets?    Then look at the quote again, and this time change one word:  "And the way in which they're launching this war is by claiming that  whites  Republicans hate everybody else."

The only way I can interpret his statement is that he sees the GOP as a party for whites only.  By supporting the rights of minorities, LGBT citizens and the poor, Democrats have become a home for minorities from which they are "launching a war" against an embattled white majority--the white majority that Mr. Brooks sees as solely Republican.  And so, conversely, the Republican Party, by fighting to keep minorities from voting, by promoting the wholesale deportation of Hispanic minorities, by continuing to repress the rights of LGBT citizens and by choosing to bend to the rich rather than assist the poor, has become the sole champion and welcoming home for white Americans.  

To add credence to his belief, he feeds Southern white prejudice by blaming President Obama for forcing the GOP to take on the job of protecting the Caucasian population.

Can he really view our political  ideologies as, quite literally, black vs. white? How lost in the 1960s is this guy?

It's interesting to me, that, while the modern GOP has proudly been the party of big business and social conservatism, it wasn't until we elected a black President that they began to identify our political money/social activism divide as an issue of race rather than principle. 

And that says more about the party still clinging to 1960s racist coattails than any statement Mr. Brooks or his fellow Republicans can come up with.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quick Note: Clueless House Proves They Don't Know Their Energy from Their Interior

The hard working members of our U.S. House of Representatives are on a five week hiatus right now; but did you know that just a few weeks before they left, the House actually passed a bill?  YES! And it had nothing to do with defunding, derailing or repealing the ACA!

Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) introduced a proposal that would bar the Department of Energy from standing in the way of the approval of offshore drilling permits. The Republican majority was so excited about this idea that they overwhelmingly supported adding it as an amendment to an appropriations bill that was about to be voted on.  The bill passed with a vote of 218 to 204.

Republicans are feeling pretty smug about getting this amendment written into law. While they're in their home states, I imagine they'll be bragging about this great accomplishment:  "Everyone knows those oil companies need to 'Drill baby, drill!' And we just made sure the road is kept clear for them!"
I wonder when someone is going to tell them that the Department of Energy doesn't have anything to do with drilling regulations or permits.  That's the job of the Department of the Interior.
It's like the Washington D.C. version of Dumb and Dumber.  You'd think if they're going to be charged with running the government, they might at least make an effort to understand how it actually works. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4 - Monday Quote

I love this:

monday quote:    Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common. (Dorothy Parker, poet and satirist, 1893-1967)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Family Foundation Organizing a Fast. Dinner Will Be Served.

Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation

The Family Foundation in Virginia is planning a big protest for later this year to demonstrate their unhappiness with the number of gay marriage bans being overturned by federal courts.  Acknowledging that the Supreme Court is likely to hear at least one of the state cases now winding their way through our court system, the group is getting their members ready to be at fever pitch come this August.

They acknowledge their fight will be hard with public opinion so obviously moving toward acceptance of same-sex marriage: "Only the church stands in support of God's design for marriage."

Their recent announcement:

"Jesus has issued a trumpet call and declared a holy fast to gather his people together for a time of consecration, to purify our way of thinking and cleanse our way of living.  Our state and nation are mired in confusion and post-modern thinking and nowhere is this more evident than in the current debate raging about what constitutes marriage.  The Supreme Court begins their session on October 6th.  We fully expect them to take a marriage case sometime in the next year.  Join us for 40 Days of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance for Marriage from August 27 through October 5, 2014."

what eye thynk:   While I disagree with their stand on same-sex marriage, I can't fault them for standing up for what they believe.  It is their right, and if they want to pray and starve themselves for 40 days, that's fine with me.  But, it turns out there is a catch to the "Fasting" part of the protest.  

In a second announcement, they added this interesting twist:  "Giving up physical food isn't necessary."

In other words, Virginia's Family Foundation is drumming up support for a fast where you never actually have to miss a meal.  Maybe that's where the "Repentance" part comes in.  You know, first you have the "Prayer"...then you go to McDonald's for the "Fasting" part...and finally you Repent that you super-sized it.

As James Parker of Addicting Info said, "It's official:  Family Foundation found the laziest form of protesting possible--protest by imagination."