Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: Russian Scammers' Dream U.S. Legislator

U.S. Representative
John Carter (R-Texas)
Chairman of 
House Subcommittee on Homeland Security, computer and cyber security

what eye thynk:  Just when you thought it was safe to use a debit card or turn on your laptop...
"Cyber's just pounding me from every direction.  I don't know anything about this stuff."
Did I mention Mr. Carter is Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee in charge of our country's computer and cyber security?

He probably has Western Union on speed dial and brags about the number of orphans he is helping escape from Uszbekistan.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30 - Monday Quote

Christian fundamentalism has become a political rallying point for our reddest states and our most conservative Republican politicians.  Considering the news out of Indiana over the past few days, I could think of no more appropriate quote for this Monday than this unattributed sentence I saw on someecards.com.

I doubt that Governor Mike Pence or the Indiana legislature will see much humor in it; but then there really isn't anything funny about state-sanctioned discrimination.

monday quote: 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

So, Gov. Pence, How's That Religious "Freedom" Thing Working Out for You?

Last Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) signed his state's  Freedom to Discriminate Protection Act , oops, sorry; I meant (ahem) the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law--a law that awards rights to conservative Christians that are allowed to no other ethnic or religious group.  

The bill was signed into law in a private ceremony.  

what eye thynk:  The ceremony may have been private, but the reaction has been public, swift, and negative.

  1. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) sent a letter to the governor letting him know they were reconsidering holding their 2017 general assembly in Indianapolis.  The church estimates 6,000 people will attend.
  2. Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in the U.S. is threatening to move its next convention out of Indiana.  Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO said 56,000 people attended last year, pumping $50 million into Indianapolis' economy.
  3. exit6 Gift Emporium announced "we are pulling out of our expansion efforts into the Indiana retail market due to its controversial law passed on Thursday by Governor Pence.  We are immediately canceling all business contracts and lease negotiations."
  4. The NCAA national office is located in Indianapolis.  President Mark Emmert issued this statement: "Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce...The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events.  We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student athletes and employees."
  5. Charles Barkley, NBA analyist, called for the Final Four tournament to be moved out of Indiana. He told USA Today, "Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me. As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states' cities." It should be noted that the NFL told then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer that Super Bowl XLIX, which was scheduled to be held in Glendale this past February, would immediately be moved to another location if she signed a similar bill.  Ms. Brewer vetoed the legislation.
  6. Marc Benioff, CEO of the tech company Salesforce, announced, "Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination....Technology professionals are by their nature very progressive, and backward-looking legislation such as the RFRA will make the state of Indiana a less appealing place to live and work."
  7. Angie's List said it was canceling a $40 million, 1000 job expansion in Indiana.   They said they would "begin reviewing alternatives for the expansion of (our) headquarters immediately."  CEO Bill Oesterle hinted that moving some parts out of the state completely is "on the table."
  8. Yelp, a crowd-sourcing review site, released a statement saying, "It is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees or consumers at large."
  9. San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee said, "San Francisco taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by the state of Indiana."  Mr. Lee immediately barred any city employee from traveling to Indiana on official business.
  10. Eli Lilly employs more than 11,000 workers in Indiana.  The company called the law "bad for business" and urged the Governor not to sign the law.  It is unlikely they will make any fast moves, but they did issue a statement that would seem to leave the option open. "We certainly understand the implications this legislation has on our ability to attract and retain employees.  As we recruit, we are searching for top talent all over the world.  We need people who will help find cures for such devastating diseases as cancer and Alzheimer's.  Many of those individuals won't want to come to a state with laws that discriminate."
  11. Ezkenazi Health, a leading health care provider with a 316 bed hospital and ten community health centers in central Indiana, worked to stop the bill from becoming law.  They explained that "if we have an employee who refuses to provide care based on that person's personal characteristics, we have policies that prohibit that, and we would discipline that employee."  Jessica Barth, Ezkanazi's Vice President of Legal Affairs, said the law's official passage "calls into question our ability to discipline an employee (and) undermines our patient's trust in every member of Eskenazi Health's staff."
  12. Gogobot, a travel planning site, has updated their Indiana travel information with this warning: "If you are traveling to Indiana or intend to travel to Indiana you should know that on March 26, 2015, the Governor of Indiana signed  the religious objections bill into law...It may legalize discrimination against travelers due to their sexual orientation." CEO Travis Katz told Bloomberg TV that his company wanted to make people "aware of what they are getting into."
I harbor this personal fantasy that some city in Indiana recruits a force of garbage collectors made up entirely of gay pagans who refuse to pick up trash at any home that displays a cross or a statue of the Virgin Mary on their front lawn.  I think the reaction to that would be fun to watch.  Or maybe the cleaning person in charge of Governor Pence's office could refuse to empty his wastebasket because his/her religion believes bigotry in any form is wrong. A smaller rebellion, but I like that one too.

On Saturday, Governor Pence expressed to the Indianapolis Star that he was surprised by the reaction to the law.  He said he didn't anticipate "the hostility that's been directed at our state."  In yesterday's post, I called Mr. Pence an idiot for saying "This bill is not about discrimination."  The fact that he is surprised by the backlash proves me correct.

Mr. Pence said that he and legislative leaders will introduce a new bill this coming week designed to "clarify the intent" of the law.  He had no details, but re-iterated that giving gay and lesbian residents protected legal status under Indiana's civil rights law is "not on my agenda."  

No matter what comes next week, Governor Pence's agenda for Indiana already seems pretty clear to me.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Indiana: Where the Bigots are Bigger--and Protected by Law!

In recent months, twenty red state legislatures have considered and/or passed what they have been calling "religious freedom" bills.  In case after case, state leadership has stopped short of actually making them into law.  Even former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, never the face of tolerance on any liberal issue, vetoed one of these bills when it arrived on her desk saying the bill had "the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve."

The winning streak for governmental common sense is over.  In a private ceremony on Thursday morning, Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) became the first governor to actually sign one of these bills into law when he put his signature to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

what eye thynk:  One detail that jumped out at me when I first read about this travesty, was that Governor Pence chose to sign the bill in a private ceremony.  If he and his fellow Republican bigots are so proud of their work on this, why the need to hide the actual signing--the exact historical moment when Indiana became the poster child for bigotry in America? Why turn their backs on the opportunity for a huge media event? Imagine:
"In Primetime! See Governor Mike Pence (R) Put Pen to Paper and Officially Ostracize Thousands of Indiana Citizens!  Tonight at 8:00PM! Exclusively on Fox!  Don't Miss This Once-in-a-Lifetime Event!"   
Megyn Kelly could have called a roll-call of Republican legislators and re-staged the signing of the Declaration of Independence, calling each proud Republican's name one by one.  The camera could have moved in for a close-up to record each legislator striding up to the podium and adding his signature to this, their magnificent document.
Imagine a cheering studio audience of conservative evangelicals leaping to their feet as the Governor puts his "John Hancock" to the document below the legislator's autographs, signifying it's official passage into Indiana law. 
Despite attempting to hide this proud moment in Indiana history from the public, Mr. Pence found himself immediately called upon to defend the bill.  His ridiculous reply: "There has been a lot of misunderstanding about this bill.  This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

If Governor Mike Pence really believes that statement, he is a bona fide idiot.  No matter what he or anyone in Indiana says, this bill was designed and written specifically to ensure that gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered people are denied their full rights, benefits and services.

Members of the media, realizing how large was the Sinkhole of Discriminatory Possibilities into which Indiana was about to disappear, asked Mr. Pence if he would consider adding sexual orientation to Indiana's civil rights law in order to prevent prejudice in the areas of employment or housing.  He answered, "That's not on my agenda.  I won't be pursuing that."

Conservative backers of the bill may claim the law will simply protect people of faith from being compelled to cater, or photograph or provide a cake for a same-sex wedding; but, in fact, the vague wording of the law opens possibilities for a much broader interpretation.

It goes way beyond weddings and bakeries and same-sex couples.  Under this law, any business can refuse service by claiming their religion tells them to.  Are you a militantly, conservatively, Catholic coffee shop owner?  You can refuse the neighborhood divorcee her morning latte; or if you're an uber-conservative Catholic working as a government clerk, you can refuse, not just a gay couple, but that same divorcee her application for a second marriage license.  Does your drugstore employ a pharmacist of the Hobby Lobby ilk?  He is free to refuse to fill a prescription for birth control.  Are you one of those evangelicals who believes everyone who isn't an equally ardent evangelical is a heathen idolater?  Fear not! Thou shalt no longer need to soil thy hands by accepting the debased lucre of a Buddhist or (gasp!) a Muslim.  Anti-Semitic?  No problem!  Claim you believe Jews to be unrepentant for the killing of your Jesus and that you would be sullied by selling the kid in the yarmulke the pencils he needs for his Yeshiva.

And it goes way beyond the Indiana service industry.  This new law can be used by any Indiana business owner to refuse employment or any Indiana landlord to deny housing to an applicant who does not fit their personal definition of "godly."

In fairness, not all Republicans are rejoicing over this legislation.  Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard (R) spoke against the bill calling it a "wrong signal" for his city and his state.

And not all Christians are pleased to see Christianity--in any form--be so closely aligned with bigotry.  The Disciples of Christ Church told the governor that they were reconsidering bringing their 6,000 members to the state in 2017 for a convocation as planned.

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn't restore anything.  Every Indiana citizen is already free to worship as they choose and that right has never been under threat.  What this law really does is turn its back on 200+ years of American history to create a two-caste system of freedom.  Beginning this summer, there will exist 1) a class of fanatics, raised up by virtue of a state-awarded decree that protects their--and only their--freedom to worship, work, and live as they choose and 2) the rest of us.

I am ashamed for all the good and caring people who live there.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Eye Recommend --- Things People Say That Offend Republicans

what eye thynk:  Mr. Rackoff has created a spot-on, and often very funny article.  In no particular order:
"Bush lied us into Iraq.
They get madder about us saying this than we get about Bush doing it.  It was not a misunderstanding...This was a president misleading the country into a war he already knew he wanted."

"Santa is not white.
A unicorn is not left-handed.  It's a ridiculous thing to argue.  Santa can be whatever you want him to be.  Sorry Megyn Kelly.  You are sort of a news person.  This is not news."

"We need more regulation.
Remember the Great Recession?  Well, 78% of Americans think we actually need more rules for Wall Street.  Not to mention laws protecting the environment.  It seems like a pipeline has been bursting every week lately."

"CNN isn't liberal.
Yes, MSNBC is liberal.  But CBS, CNN and most other outlets are just reporting the news.  If Rand Paul comes off like a weirdo, maybe that's on Rand Paul."

"Reagan was imperfect.
This really bothers Republicans.  But Iran Contra.  But huge deficits. But not mentioning AIDS for so long.  So just maybe cool it on the naming of everything after him."

"Enhanced interrogation techniques is a fancy phrase meaning torture.
Use whatever synonym you want, it doesn't matter what Roget's Thesaurus says, waterboarding = torture.  And it's un-American."

"You voted for Sarah Palin.
Tell yourself that you voted for John McCain, war hero, Senator, maverick.  But remember the name printed right below his? Yes, you cast a vote for Sarah freakin' Palin.  You did that.  Seriously.  I can't believe it either."

"Racist Dixiecrats are now called Republicans.
Yes, southern Democrats used to be the racist ones.  Totally.  That's on us.  We're very sorry and embarrassed.  But that powerful voting bloc didn't just disappear.  They are now called southern Republicans."

"The deficit is different from the debt.  And it's down since Obama took office.
The debt is the total amount, including from past administrations.  The deficit is the difference between what we take in and what we spend.  And it's way down.  When Obama said we've seen 'our deficits cut by two thirds,' he was correct.  And it makes Republicans nuts."

"I don't care what Clinton did with those ladies.
Yes, it's a little icky.  And not great.  And I wouldn't fix him up with one of my single friends.  But he did a damn good job as president. George W was by all accounts a devoted husband.  But not so good with the governing.  I prefer good president, bad husband."

"'Under God' was not in the Pledge for a long time.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892.  It wasn't until the Communist scare in the fifties that 'under God' was added.  In 1954.  If you're keeping track, that's 62 years without, 60 years with."

"Lower taxes don't generate more tax revenue.
This one is hard to say with a straight face.  Of course they don't...It is what George Bush (the good one) called 'voodoo economics.'  It has been disproved time and time again.  Because of course."

"Lincoln wasn't a real Republican.
They get mad about this one because they know it's true.  What we mean when we say Republican and what they meant back then are totally different things.  Lincoln's Republican party (Republican Classic?) believed in a strong federal government, they created the income tax, and thought that government should protect minorities from the tyrannies of the majority."

"Actually, it's Dr. Maddow.
Yeah, she has a PhD.  In politics.  From Oxford.  She's a Rhodes Scholar.  I think she knows what she's talking about."

"They all use executive orders.
...They all issued them.  In fact, George W. Bush issued almost 100 more than Obama has.  Literally every single president has issued them. (Except for William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days after taking office.)  So impeach them all, starting with George Washington."

"Obamacare is not Socialism.
Guys, I know you're being hyperbolic and all (aren't you?) but the Affordable Care Act is a market-based health care solution that was pretty much invented by the (super-conservative) Heritage Foundation, and implemented by comrade Mitt Romney.  I'm all for socialized medicine (sort of like we have socialized police and fire departments) but Obamacare isn't that.

"You guys are terrible at governing.
It's just a hunch I have.  Oh, wait.  It's empirical.  Using data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Quality of Life Study, 24/7 Wall Street compiled a list of the ten states with the worst quality of life.  Guess how many were totally controlled by Republicans?  All of them.  Sorry, did I offend you?"

The way I see it, we could all enjoy 17 days of fun by sending one of these a day to our favorite Republicans. We could call it an "advanced interrogation technique" and wait to see how long it is  before they begin to crack under the pressure. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

God to California: Repent or No Water for You!

California is moving into its fourth year of severe drought.  Scientists at NASA say, if Californians don't make some drastic adjustments NOW, they will run out of water in 2016.

Christian broadcaster Rick Wiles has the answer: "Repent."  (He also predicted that Ebola was going to cleanse the earth of homosexuals and "the promiscuous," but that's another subject.)

In a recent TruNews broadcast, Mr. Wiles told his listeners, "Rain will follow repentance.  The state is in the forefront of spiritual rebellion against God: abortion, homosexuality, pornography; Hollywood's movies that promote sexual immorality, violence, bloodshed, witchcraft, occult practices; the television industry...All of it has combined to reach a level of depravity that has reached Heaven and God has no other choice but to cut off the rain."

----> RANDOM THOUGHT:  Following Mr. Wiles logic, "God has no other choice" but to send the hurricanes that regularly devastate our Southern states as a sign that He is pissed off about the way they treat His black and homosexual creations.  I expect we'll hear Pat Robertson preach that sermon the day after Tea Party Republicans stand up and embrace the science of climate change.  For now, Louisianians would be advised to continue to hoard lots of plywood and bottled water.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Let's Hear It for These 4 Republican Heroes...

Clockwise from left: 
  • Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee - Doesn't believe in climate change.
  • Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-South Carolina), serves on Senate Appropriations, Armed Forces, Budget and Judiciary Committees - Stuck somewhere in the 1970s.
  • Half-term ex-Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin (R), used-to-be-TV personality, currently serves as founder and chairman of the I-Wanna-Be-Important Committee - Believes she knows something but can't prove it.

And now they give us:
  • Senator and Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee  - within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy for President managed to shoot himself in the foot while dancing the I'm-gettin'-mine-while-the-gettin's-good-variation of the GOP's "Obamacare Has Got To Go Ballet."

what eye thynk:  The Republican Party has effectively become its own punchline.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: U.S. Congress--the Skilled and the Unskilled

U.S. Representative 
Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania)

Recent votes in the U.S. House have shown Democratic members voting nearly unanimously on the same side of each issue.  When asked to compare House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California)'s firm control of her caucus with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)'s endless struggle to get the Tea Party in the same corral with establishment Republicans, Mr. Dent had this to say: 
"I don't think it takes a lot of skill to vote against an agenda."
what eye thynk:  If we accept Representative Dent's words as truth, then surely, over the past six years, the Republican Party has proven itself to be the most unskilled political organization on the face of the planet.

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23 - Monday Quote

By now everyone knows that the U.S. House and Senate have both released their budget proposals for the coming fiscal year.   It should come as no surprise that both budgets call for huge drops in spending on domestic programs and large increases in military spending.  

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), following the smashing success of his Senate 47 letter to Iran, decided he was ready to take on the federal budget too. Today's quote is from 3/16/15,  shortly before the Senate's budget vote.

It says a lot about how the Republican Party sees the 99%--especially all of us "dangerous" senior citizens who have lived long enough to qualify for Medicare.

monday quote:  
"We should triple the amount we spend on defense and quadruple what we spend on prisons.  Why do we pay for food stamps?  Welfare? Medicare? They don't keep us safe.  If anything, they nurture the most dangerous elements of society."
(Republican Senator Tom Cotton during his first ever floor speech, 1977-     )


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Eye Recommend --- White Christian America is in Decline

what eye thynk:  And I would add, not just "young people."
The article begins with some statistics on American white Christians, vs. other Christians, vs. other religions, then gets into the guts of the issue. (Any underlines are mine.)
"This isn't some kind of side effect of their youth, either...The millennial generation is becoming less religious as they age.

These changes explain the modern political landscape...  While not all white Christians are conservative, these changing numbers definitely suggest that conservative Christians are rapidly losing their grip on power...And conservative Christians aren't taking these changes well at all.

To look at the Christian right now is to see people who know they are losing power and are desperately trying to reassert dominance before it's lost altogether.  The most obvious example of this is the frenzy of anti-abortion activity in recent years.  Anti-choice forces have controlled the Republican Party since the late '70s, but only in the past few years have they concentrated so singlemindedly on trying to destroy legal abortion in wide swaths of the country.

None of this is a reaction to any changes in people's sexual behavior or reproductive choices. It's not like there was a spike in abortions causing this panic...Despite continuing media panic over adolescent sexuality, the fact is that teenagers are waiting longer to have sex, on average, than in the past.  Despite this, not only are you seeing a dramatic increase in attacks on legal abortion, the Christian right has expanded its attacks to contraception access, suggesting that something has worked them into a panic they believe can only be resolved by trying to reassert their religious and sexual values.

That something isn't changes in sexual behavior, but it's reasonable to believe it's because of changes in sexual values.  People might not be having more sex, but they are feeling less guilty about the sex they are having."

A 2001 Gallup poll indicated that consensual, premarital sex between adults was deemed acceptable by 53 percent of Americans.  Today that number is 66 percent.
An ABC poll taken in March 2014 indicated that 59 percent of American adults support the legalization of same-sex marriage.  That is a 21 point jump from 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex unions.
"The fact that these changes in attitude are rising alongside the growth of irreligiosity is not a coincidence.  More perhaps even than the 1960s, Americans are in a period of questioning rigid sexual and religious mores... Some of them--now a whopping 22 percent of Americans!--are leaving religion entirely.  Some are continuing in their faith but choosing to interpret their values differently than Christian conservatives would like.

And so we see Christian conservatives cracking down in a desperate bid to regain control.  They claim that they're being oppressed... They have latched onto, with some success, the claim that 'religious freedom' requires giving Christians the right to oppress others.  The Republican Party is in complete thrall to the religious right...

...The irony is that this panic-based overreach is just making the situation worse for the Christian right.  One of the biggest reasons the secularization trend has accelerated in recent years is that young people see the victim complex and the sex policing...and it's turning them off.  And they're not just rejecting conservative Christianity but the entire idea of organized religion altogether. In other words, the past few years have created a self-perpetuating cycle:  Christian conservatives, in a panic over changing demographics, start cracking down.  In reaction, more people give up on religion.  That causes the Christian right to panic more and crack down more.  In the end, Christian conservatives are going to hasten their own demise by trying to save themselves.

Personally, that demise can't come soon enough.  Conservative interpretation--and  interpretation is indeed the correct word--is what moved me away from being a church-every-Sunday adolescent to an occasional-church-on-Sunday adult and finally into a maybe-once-every-ten-years older adult.   
I haven't given up my moral upbringing.  I haven't become evil.  I simply find it impossible to accept that Jesus meant "Love thy neighbor" to come with exceptions: Love thy (poor) neighbor--except if he doesn't work as hard as you'd like.  Love thy (ill) neighbor--except if he wants health coverage.  Love thy (gay) neighbor--except if he wants marriage rights equal to those you enjoy.
Modern conservative Christians and their current, all-consuming focus on Biblical sex to the exclusion of any other of Christ's teachings, reduces this beautiful book to a piece of ancient pornography--like Playboy without the redeeming articles.   
They are screaming (and Republicans are listening) that their interpretation of sexual mores is paramount and gives them the right to rule on your sexuality--or my sexuality, or the right of a gay person to have a sexuality at all.   They claim their right by virtue of belief in a Bible they see as an exact and literal record of the word of God.
At the same time, these champions of the literal Bible choose to ignore biblical lessons they find inconvenient. (Ask the most conservative Christians in New Orleans if they ever eat jambalaya.) 
When their demise comes, it won't be because Karen got an abortion.  It won't be because Tom and Kevin got married.  It won't be because Barack Obama saw to it that every American got health coverage. And it won't be because they were persecuted out of existence.   It will be because they came to believe that their judgements, and the prejudices they employed to reach them, mattered more than the lessons taught by the God they worshipped.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

West Virginia Governor Vetoes Concealed Carry Bill

what eye thynk:  This argument isn't over; but for now, common sense will prevail in West Virginia thanks to a Democratic governor willing to stand up to the NRA and a Republican legislature. 
Both houses of West Virginia's legislature have Republican majorities.  West Virginia SB347, which would have allowed anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon without the fuss and bother of getting a permit, passed the House of Delegates 71-29 and the Senate 30-4.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D)

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) vetoed that bill on Friday.  Explaining his decision, Governor Tomblin said, "Law enforcement officers throughout the state have voiced overwhelming opposition to this bill.  In light of their concerns and in the interest of public safety, I believe a veto is appropriate...We've got to put public safety first."

Delegate Mike Folk (R) disagreed, dismissing law enforcement claims that the bill would put police officers at risk.  "They assume (already) that every person is armed, so the safety issue is not a good argument."

Delegate Mike Folk (R)
Nice to know that Mr. Folk has so little respect for his state's law enforcement officers that he can dismiss their concerns so easily.  I wonder if he would show such a blithe disregard for their safety if he had a family member who was putting his life on the line every time he went to work. 
I believe "the safety issue" is a VERY good argument; and I doubt there is one spouse, one child, one parent of a police officer who would disagree with me.

Monongalia County Sheriff Al Kisner, who also serves as vice president of the WV Sheriff's Association, said his organization was one that urged the Governor to veto the bill.  "I think we need more time to sit down, with everybody at the table, and decide what we all can live with and what we can live without."

In an effort to keep that NRA money flowing, Delegate Folk promises to bring the proposal up again during next year's legislative session.  He plans to do it early enough that the legislature will have time to vote to override Governor Tomblin if he vetoes the bill a second time. 

It's not as if anyone is trying to outlaw guns in West Virginia.  Today, gun owners can walk down the street anywhere in the state and openly carry their weapon--no permit required.  If a gun owner feels the need to carry his ego-enhancer in a concealed manner, that is also perfectly legal in West Virginia--as long as the gun owner gets a state permit.

While that seems like a common sense restriction to me, supporters of the bill argued that the permit, which requires mandatory weapons training and a $100 fee treads on their Second Amendment rights.

Oh, the horror! 
Nobody seems to be gnashing their teeth over requirements that people must take Drivers Ed and pass both a written and practical test and pay a fee to get a drivers license; but then, the NRA hasn't purchased the bureaucrats in charge of that department yet.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #21 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

I'm looking for the connection here, but...nope...nothing.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Eye Recommend -- The House Budget Disaster

Representative Tom Price (R-Georgia), Chairman of the House Budget Committee 
announces the House budget proposal

THE HOUSE BUDGET DISASTER, by The New York Times Editorial Board --
what eye thynk:  Read it and weep. (Any underlines are mine.)
"If the budget resolution released on Tuesday by House Republicans is a road map to a 'Stronger America,' as its title proclaims, it's hard to imagine what the path to a diminished America would look like.

The plan's deep cuts land squarely on the people who most need help: the poor and the working class.  The plan also would turn Medicare into a system of unspecified subsidies to buy private insurance by the time Americans who are now 56 years old become eligible.  And it would strip 16.4 million people of health insurance by repealing the Affordable Care Act (the umpteenth attempt by Republicans to do so since the law was enacted in 2010.)

House Republicans would increase defense financing by bolstering a contingency fund that is not subject to existing budget caps, while insisting on adherence to caps or even deeper cuts to nondefense spending on education, the environment, law enforcement, medical research and other so-called discretionary programs.  At the same time, the plan proposes deep cuts to 'mandatory' nondefense spending, which includes Medicaid, federal pensions, food stamps, farm supports and tax credits for the working poor...

...Over all, at least two-thirds of the $5 trillion in cuts over 10 years would come from programs that focus on low-and modest-income Americans, even though such programs account for less than one-fourth of all federal program costs."

-----> Those numbers cannot be emphasized enough:  Programs in place to help the poor and middle class make up just 25 percent of the federal budget.  But House Republicans believe those programs alone should absorb 66 percent of their proposed budget cuts. <-----
"Republicans say the cuts are necessary to reduce the deficit...but annual budget deficits have (already) fallen steeply during the Obama years.  Going forward, there is both a need and an opportunity for the government to spend in ways that create jobs..."
(Remember when jobs were important to the GOP?)
"...and lay a foundation for future growth, say, by investing in education, science and infratructure."
(Remember when education and science were also important to the GOP?  Yeah, me either.) 
"The House Republican plan ignores the most sensible, equitable cuts.

For example, it doesn't propose to reduce the deficit by closing tax loopholes that drain the budget of more than $1 trillion a year and that overwhelmingly benefit the highest-income households, including the special low tax rates on investment income."

I would love to see the secret GOP formula that explains why a plumber should pay a higher tax rate than the guy who invests in a plumbing company.
"The absence of tax increases in the presence of deep spending cuts is a recipe for increasing both poverty and inequality...

...House Republicans are sticking to their tired themes of spending cuts, no matter the need or consequences, and tax cuts above all."

 As a matter of fact, one of the Senate budget proposals would reduce the tax on investment income and capital gains income, (do I need to point out that would mean the wealthy--not the middle class, not the poor) to zero.
I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say that the GOP "We Care About Income Inequality" campaign slogan for 2016 is nothing more than a paper tiger.
Or maybe we're simply been misinterpreting that slogan.  What they really mean is "We  Care About  Love Income Inequality (So Much That We Want, Not Only to Protect It, but to See It Grow!)"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A day late, but still...

Mike Huckabee, Currently Running for Huckster-in-Chief

Mike Huckabee
what eye thynk:  I know there is serious news all over the world today, but sometimes you just have to pause and shake your head...or laugh.
Mike Huckabee (R) quit his gig at Fox in January to concentrate on a new bid for president. His preparation is, to put it mildly, a bit bizarre.

The Cure for Diabetes
If you have a Facebook account, you have probably seen Mr. Huckabee featured in an ad for
a diabetes cure.  I can't seem to open my FB page without seeing it at least once.

Click on the ad and you'll hear this presidential hopeful telling people with diabetes they should ignore "Big Pharma" and instead use a "kitchen-cabinet cure."  Both the American and Canadian Diabetes Associations have cautioned against this so-called "cure."

In the initial video he tells viewers, "Let me tell you, diabetes can be reversed.  I should know because I did it.  Today you can too!...Just sit tight because in a moment a free presentation is coming up that will reveal all natural secrets that are backed up by real science that really work."

It's interesting that he knows about "real science" here, but draws a blank when confronted with environmental science.
In the "free presentation" that follows, viewers learn about a Diabetes Solution Kit--available for $19.95.  "Most big pharma companies don't know squat about how to reverse diabetes...Techniques just like you're going to find in this kit worked for me."  

Send in your $19.95, and you'll learn about the wonders of cinnamon and chromium picolinate, a mineral found in some foods and often sold as a dietary supplement.

Screenshot from Mike Huckabee's infomercial

When he was asked if he had, in fact used this cure, he answered "No," explaining that he had lost 100 pounds through a healthier diet and exercise.
Guess I'll save my twenty bucks.

The Cure for Cancer
Sign up at MikeHuckabee.com and he will send you a newsletter of regularly updated political commentaries.  His January newsletter included an announcement that a miracle cure for cancer is hidden in the Bible.
You'd think with all the Bible thumping going on in Republican politics these days, one of these biblical experts would have found this secret by now.
The newsletter included a link to a video offering what it called the Matthew4Protocol--FREE with a $72.00 subscription to the Health Revelations newsletter.

The Cure for Hunger
In an earlier newsletter, Mr. Huckabee warned: Food Shortage Could Devastate Country.  He kindly included a link to Food4Patriots (I think I see a 4theme here) where a three month supply of freeze-dried food could be had for $497.

According to wanna-be president Mike Huckabee, this is the "number one item you should be hoarding."

Politics and Dubious Advertising--joined at the hip with super-bonding Gullibility Glue. 
(Adhesive supplied FREE with a $100 donation to the Mike Huckster-bee for President campaign.) 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Oregon Becomes The First State To Implement Sweeping Automatic Voter Registration

On Monday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D), signed into law a bill that immediately adds 300,000 new voters to their state voter registry.  The Motor Voter bill, which was easily passed by the Democratically controlled legislature, automatically turns every Oregon driver into an Oregon registered voter.

Every Republican in the state legislature voted against the bill.

eye'm thinkin':  Paragraph #1 - This is brilliant. Paragraph #2 - Color me not surprised.

Read full story at Addicting Info.

McConnell: No Lynch Vote Unless Democrats Relent on Bill

A bill to protect and aid victims of human trafficking was quickly passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.  The Republicans were then in charge of printing out the bill and presenting it for a full Senate vote.

When the bill appeared on the Senate docket, leading Democratic Senators noticed something had been added: A clause that would prevent victims of human trafficking from using restitution funds to pay for abortions.  Senate Democrats immediately pointed out the sneaky GOP tactic and made it clear they would not vote for this bill until that clause was removed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) says he will hold up the vote on Secretary of State nominee Loretta Lynch until the Democrats relent.  "We have to finish the human trafficking bill.  the Loretta Lynch nomination comes next."

eye'm thynkin':   What, the Senate can't take a vote on one issue and debate another on the same day?  The vote on Loretta Lynch would take an hour, tops.  That would seem to leave adequate time for other issues--unless "leadership" is unprepared to...well...lead.    I guess Mitch thought that once his party had the majority all he would have to do would be to wave his magic gavel and all the Republicans' dreams would come true.  Did he learn nothing from the DHS debacle just a few weeks ago?

I read news like this and I picture Mitch McConnell slowly sliding from sight behind the Majority Leader's podium, sinking into the ooze of his own incompetence.

Read more, including Democrats' response on CNN.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16 - Monday Quote

I'm dedicating this week's quote to the Senate 47. 

monday quote:  
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." 
(Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist, 1879-1955)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

GOP Discovers Income Inequality

As evidenced by some recent quotes, it appears the Republican party is trying to get a We-Care-About-Income-Inequality agenda off the ground before the 2016 election cycle heats up.

  • Jeb Bush: "The opportunity gap is the defining issue of our time."
  • Paul Ryan: "The Obamanomics that we're practicing now have exacerbated inequality."
  • Rand Paul: "Income inequality has worsened under this administration."
  • Ted Cruz: "We're facing right now a divided American when it comes to the economy...Today, the top 1% earn a higher share of our national income than any year since 1928."
  • Mitt Romney: "Under President Obama the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse."

what eye thynk:   Apparently deciding to sweep GOP policy culpability under the rug, Republicans love, love, love income inequality as a campaign issue.  They also love the Right to Work (for Less) movement, hate labor unions, and refuse to raise the minimum wage--three strictly Republican positions that have, in fact, "exacerbated inequality"--so I'm not sure how far their We-Care slogan will fly.

I can't help but smile at President Obama's response to Mitt (47-percent) Romney's take on the problem: "We've got a former presidential candidate on the other side who suddenly is just deeply concerned about poverty.  That's great."

Acknowledging the existence of a problem is not the same as effecting a solution.  No matter how brightly they try to paint it, recognizing the existence of income inequality is not the same as reversing its effect on the American worker. 

If they really care about income inequality and rebuilding the middle class, they would be looking at our labor history (not that history is high on their favorites list either.)

Let's be realistic, there are exceptions, but does anyone really believe the average business owner will raise his employees' pay voluntarily?  One person asking for better pay is an exercise in futility.  One hundred people asking for better pay is a movement toward equity.

America's middle class was virtually created by the modern labor union movement.  Ayn Rand had nothing to do with it.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mitt's 14.1% Tax Rate Is So Yesterday

Remember when the GOP called the working poor, those who don't make enough money to owe taxes, "lazy freeloaders?"  They wanted to re-do the tax code so even the poorest had to pay something so, as Senator Dan Coates (R-Indiana) put it, they would "have some skin in the game."

what eye thynk:  Well, now it seems a couple of Republicans want to create an entirely different type of non-taxpayer; but, please, don't call then "freeloaders."

Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced a new tax plan this week. It includes giving parents a $2,500 tax credit per child.  But never fear, the Senators have thoughtfully taken care of the wealthy too.  These two great Republicans have proposed reducing income taxes on dividends and capital gains to zero.

All the rich people who do virtually nothing for a living but sit back and collect the interest from their already considerable bank accounts and the profits from their capitalist ventures (where they give other people money to work for them) would be able to keep all their moolah 
for themselves!  Great, huh?!

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is probably kicking himself for not coming up with this idea first. 

Remember, this is the same party that is trying out "We Care About Income Inequality" as a 2016 campaign theme.  I guess they still have a few kinds to work out.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mitch McConnell, Sitting at the Bottom of the Leadership Learning Curve

Senators John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) realized his life's dream on the day he became U.S. Senate Majority Leader.  He's now the official top Republican in Congress, the guy in control, head of it all, leader extraordinaire, ready, willing, able, and eager to demonstrate his ability to stand at the vanguard of his caucus.  

So he showcases his leadership skill by--and this without any apparent hesitation--signing a dubious letter created, presented, and advanced by first-termer Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)? Mr. McConnell doesn't pause, he doesn't suggest any in-depth thought on the legality of such a letter, he doesn't wonder if maybe the letter should first be discussed in committee, he doesn't even suggest his caucus take a few days to read the letter more carefully.  Some kid, fresh out of nursery school waves a letter in Mitch's face, says it will undermine the president and without thought to the consequences, Mitch adds his signature.

And, when the backlash becomes a nationwide event, instead of stepping up and addressing his decision, he remains conspicuously silent, letting John McCain do the Senate 47's talking.

---> RANDOM THOUGHT: So who really is wearing the GOP's big-boy pants, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or Kindergarten Senator Tom Cotton?  And should we consider Mitch's Underoos on permanent loan to John McCain?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Republicans Say the Darndest Things: John McCain, Dancing as Fast as He Can

U.S. Senator
John McCain (R-Arizona)

Forty-seven U.S. Senators sign and send a letter to Iran, one that borders on treason.  A huge, nationwide negative backlash ensues.  GOP damage control begins.

Sending Senate aides out to spread the word-of-the-day ("cheeky!") and to test the waters with excuses like "the administration has no sense of humor" failed to calm the storm.  So, it's time for some fancy Republican footwork, led by the GOP's own Arthur Murray...

John McCain, Excuse #1 to Politico:
"I saw the letter, I saw that it looked reasonable to me and I signed it, that's all.  I sign lots of letters."
what eye thynk:  You believed a letter being sent to a foreign power behind the President's back was "reasonable?"  Just one of "lots of letters" you sign, nothing special, nothing worth studying or really even thinking about?  Kinda makes me wonder if you sign all government business that casually.
John McCain, Excuse #2 also to Politico: 
"It was kind of a very rapid process.  Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm.  (We) probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is."
God forbid you might all have been stuck in Washington for a weekend and maybe gotten some work done.  I'd be interested to know just how much discussion actually took place--or if there was any discussion.

It sounds like it was more, "Hey, I know it's Friday, but before ya'll head out to the airport, here's a letter to Iran. Wanna take a second and sign it? (scribble, scribble) Thanks! See ya on Monday!"

John McCain, Excuse #3 to Fox: 
"Maybe (the letter) wasn't the best way...It's also symptomatic between the total lack of trust that exists now between we Republicans and the president...This has established a poisoned environment here which sometimes causes us to react maybe in not the most effective fashion."
So, it's the president's fault that 47 U.S. Senators signed an ill-conceived letter without giving it much thought?  And, gee, I wonder how that "total lack of trust" could have happened? I mean with all the co-operation the Republican party has offered and all.

With the number of qualifiers in his statement to Fox--maybe not the best way, sometimes causes us, maybe not most effective--it sounds like even McCain doesn't believe McCain.  Which is okay 'cause no one else is buying it either.

But, don't worry, there's still John's near-weekly Meet the Press appearance.  I'm sure he can take a minute to interrupt his attempt to appear relevant (and cognizant) by coming up with another excuse for his Senate-47 buddies.