Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Call

Well, we all know that according to the Tea Party, the subset of Real Americans can't include any minorities, atheists, Mormons, Muslims, gays, Democrats, liberals, and anyone who watches Glee.  Now you have to add Methodists to the list of people who don't count as actual Americans, and who should have no say in American society.

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips has a dream: "No more Methodist Church."

A blog post on his Tea Party Nation page says that on Friday he walked by the United Methodist Building in Washington D.C., which had a sign that said, "Pass the DREAM Act." Phillips wrote: " I have a DREAM. That is, no more United Methodist Church."

Phillips explains that he was formerly a member of the church, but he left because it's "the first Church of Karl Marx," and "little more than the "religious" arm of socialism."

"The Methodist church is pro-illegal immigration," he continues. "They have been in the bag for socialist health care, going as far as sending out emails to their membership "debunking" the myths of Obamacare. Say, where are the liberal complaints on the separation of church and state?"

"In short, if you hate America, you have a great future in the Methodist church," he says.

And so when the only Real Americans left are Judson Phillips, what then?   I guess he becomes dictator for life because anyone else must be voted out of office for not listening to the will of the Real Americans in the Tea Party movement...and anyone who isn't a Real American, well you can't count their vote.

What, you thought Christians who believed in a merciful God who doesn't want to set "illegals" on fire were going to survive the purge?  Fools.  Mercy is for the weak, especially around Christmas!


Why The U.S. Needs Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt is best known to many for his publications, with Hustler (thank you SS) drawing the most controversy.  Some will also remember him for championing the right to free speech, and with a trademark lack of finesse and in-your-face brilliance he manages to summarize his thoughts regarding Julian Assange:

"Let's get something straight: Julian Assange is a journalist. You can argue that he is not practicing journalism the way you think it should be practiced -- releasing classified U.S. State Department documents -- but he's a journalist nonetheless."
"Here's what I know about censorship: The free flow of information is ultimately less harmful than the impeded flow of information. A democracy cannot exist without total access to the facts."
This is why  we need  people like Larry Flynt. He can take a convoluted discussion and reduce it to the core issues.  You don't have to approve for something to exist.  You don't always win when doing the right thing, or get the hero treatment.  Freedom of speech comes at a price, but in the end it is our saving grace when it comes to educating people and sharing ideas.  Sometimes we must travel through the unpleasant to reach the victory on the other side.  And most of all, don't step on his rights or he'll come after you with the power of a thousand burning suns and lawyers all in a row.

Assange just made a powerful ally, and he needs one right about now. Assuming, of course, that Flynt isn't with Bank of America.

Something Happened On The Way To My Floridian Galtian Paradise

Betty Cracker over at Rumproast (who has the misfortune of Rick Scott as her new Governor) details the sad.

Rick Scott, ladies and germs: Governor-Elect of Florida, epic Medicare fraudster and flailing nincompoop. In a state that has one of the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country and a dysfunctional, corrupt state government, Scott campaigned as a no-nonsense businessman.

His campaign slogan was “Let’s get to work.” He pummeled current Republican governor turned failed-indy-senatorial-candidate Charlie Crist for being an ineffective, wasteful career politician. He said his first order of business would be to run the Crist cronies out of Tallahassee.

And he kept that promise, demanding the resignations of the top 10 honchos in each state department in the Crist administration. But, uh oh, now it turns out that Scott’s transition team has yet to make a single hire. The only thing they have accomplished is to piss off the public by raising $2 million for a lavish inaugural bash, mostly from fat cats and special interests.

So now Scott is reduced to begging Team Crist to stay on a bit longer. And some of them are telling him to go pound sand.

Yeah that's right, he got rid of all the "Crist Cronies" and replaced them with...nobody.  Squat.  Diddly.  Shrinking government the awesome way!

Oh man, I'm going to enjoy watching this idiot fall apart, along with Florida's economy, and watch him get run out of town on a rail.

I don't feel so bad about Kentucky now.

It's That Time Again!

Today, Time reports that Santa has struck again in Joplin, Missouri.  Since 2004, an anonymous donor has deposited $50,000 each year in the Salvation Army kettles.  Last year and now, when times have been particularly tight, the donation doubled.  Camouflaged with $1 bills, the cashier's checks promise help for people who need it.

Joplin is most famous for its historical Route 66 and Bonnie and Clyde connection, but now it will also be remembered for a heartwarming kindness that repeats every year.

Manic Progressive Bear Theater

All the cool kids are doing it.  Also NOT EVEN REMOTELY safe for work.

Now with Bernie Sanders action figure with 8 hour filibuster action!

Back In The Day

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour keeps digging southern Republicans into a deeper and deeper hole with his steam shovel of a mouth.

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), a potential Republican presidential candidate, has an interesting perspective on the tumults of the civil rights era that swept through his Deep South state.
As Barbour recalls it in a new profile in The Weekly Standard, things weren't so bad in his hometown of Yazoo City, which took until 1970 to integrate its schools (though the final event itself is said to have gone on peacefully). For example, Barbour says that there was no problem of Ku Klux Klan activity in the town -- thanks to the Citizens Council movement, an organization that was founded on the basis of resistance to integration and the promotion of white supremacy.
"You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK," said Barbour. "Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you'd lose it. If you had a store, they'd see nobody shopped there. We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City."

Yeah, only one problem with the Citizens Council...they were the Klan, just without the robes and pointy sheets.

The White Citizens Council movement was founded in Mississippi in 1954, shortly after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregated public schools, and was dedicated to political activities opposing civil rights -- notably boycotts of pro-civil rights individuals in Barbour's hometown, as opposed to Barbour's recollection of actions against the Klan. It was distinguished from the Klan by the public self-identification of its members, and its image of suits and ties as opposed to white robes and nooses.

In 1998, American Conservative Union head David Keene barred the Citizens Council's modern incarnation, the Council of Conservative Citizens, from the annual CPAC conference: "we kicked [them] out of CPAC because they are racists."

Just your friendly, garden variety white supremacists. And Barbour is hoping to rewrite history so that nobody notices and the Republicans become the champions of civil rights or something.

The bad stuff in the civil rights movement?  Yeah, see, that was somebody else, see.  And they think you'll fall for it.

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

Another example of totally insane wingnut Republicans that got little play last week was that House Republicans killed a bill designed to protect girls from child marriages...after it got unanimous consent from Senate Republicans.

No, really.  The story goes like this:

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), was blindsided. After the Child Marriage Protection Act passed the Senate with zero objection on Dec. 1 -- a rare feat these days -- it didn't seem like there was much to worry about.

But just before the vote began, Republican leadership blasted out a "whip alert" to GOP staffers with a message: Vote no. The alert claimed the bill cost too much and that a competing bill, introduced just the day before, would be better.

"There are also concerns that funding will be directed to NGOs that promote and perform abortion and efforts to combat child marriage could be usurped as a way to overturn pro-life laws," the alert read.

And so the bill, which needed a two-thirds vote to pass under the suspended rules, failed. Even some congressmen who sponsored the bill voted no.

McCollum, along with human rights organizations and the State Department, believes that child marriage is a form of child abuse that includes sexual abuse, domestic violence and slavery.

The text of the bill does not mention abortion, contraception or family planning. Instead, it directs the president to make preventing child marriage a priority, especially in countries where more than 40 percent of girls under the age of 18 are married. The ways to do that, according to the bill: support educating communities on the dangers and health effects of child marriage, keep young girls in school, support female mentoring programs and make sure girls have access to health care services.

It's the "health care services" provision that had Republicans riled, according to a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, whose name is on the whip alert and who voted no on the bill.

"The concern was that the reference to 'health services' in the bill -- under the current Administration -- would include abortion services," the spokesman, Michael Steel, told TPM. 

To recap, paranoia that the bill might have been a secret horrible back door way to fund abortions defeated the very real danger of girls being sexually abused.  Then again, Republicans have made no attempt to hide the fact that some of them have no problem with rape or incest or sexual abuse of underage girls being preferable to them getting an abortion.

Even though the bill had nothing to do with reproductive health care services.

Paranoia is a wonderful thing.

More of this completely reasonable line of thought coming over the next two years as GOP paranoia descends upon the country.  Hey. you voted them in, America.  Elections have consequences.

Senate Dems Call 9-1-1 On The 9/11 First Responders Bill

The 9/11 first responders health care bill blocked by Republicans may be resuscitated after all, thanks to New York Senate Dems Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

"We believe we are on a path to victory by the end of this week," said Senator Charles Schumer. But he was quick to add that unexpected obstacles could arise.

He and fellow New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand outlined for reporters some changes they will propose to their bill in an attempt to win over enough Republican support for passage as Congress winds down its legislative session for the year.

They hope to do that by producing a less expensive bill that they said would end up paying for itself, with $57 million left over in a 10-year period. That money could be used for deficit reduction, they said.
Instead of costing $7.4 billion, Gillibrand and Schumer said the measure's price tag would be reduced to $6.2 billion.

Their revised legislation would impose a new 2 percent fee on goods and services from firms in foreign countries that are not members of the Agreement on Government Procurement. Gillibrand said Saudi Arabia would be one of the countries in that category.

Other ways the $6.2 billion cost of the health bill would be covered were by continuing a fee on travelers to the United States that is set to expire in 2015 and continuing another fee for outsourcing companies that have more than half of their employees on visas to work in the United States.

And of course the problem according to Republicans was that the bill would add to the deficit, which apparently is more important that the people who ran to the collapsed World Trade Center and risked their lives and their health to save people during the worst terror attack this country has seen.  The trimmed down bill, now paid for, has to pass muster with the Republicans.  If they say word boo, it's time for Chuck to go nuclear on camera.

I honestly don't know how Republicans got away with opposing this in the first place.  Democrats should have been screaming on every morning show, newscast, and Sunday roundtable they could get access to over this.  The same Republicans who said building a Muslim community center anywhere in Manhattan was an insult to 9/11 are the same people throwing the first responders under the bus?

I applaud Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand for taking the high road, but this is something that Dems should have hammered in the press relentlessly.

Still A Non-STARTer For The GOP

Well, if you thought for a millisecond that the tax cut deal and DADT and even the surprise passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act last night was going to usher in a new era of bipartisan snuggle fun time in the Senate, I'm here to disabuse you of that particular notion as it looks increasingly grim for the START treaty.  Republicans are looking for political payback.

With some prominent Republicans angry over passage of legislation ending the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, the mood in the Senate turned increasingly divisive and Mr. Obama and Democratic lawmakers scrambled to hold together a coalition to approve the treaty.

Senator Harry M. Reid, the Democratic majority leader, moved to hold a vote on Tuesday to close off debate, saying, “You either want to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists or you don’t.” But the fate of the treaty, known as New Start, was complicated by a deadlock over government spending and the political subtext about whether the pact’s approval would rejuvenate a weakened president after his party’s midterm election defeat.

For the second day, Mr. Obama’s supporters defeated a Republican amendment that would have blocked approval of the treaty by the end of the year. But the 60-to-32 vote left them short of the two-thirds majority they will need for final approval, and the White House lost a Republican it had hoped would join them on the decisive vote expected later this week.

The debate on the Senate floor came hours after Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican leaders in the upper chamber, said they would vote against the treaty. While their opposition was not a surprise, the question was how aggressively Mr. McConnell in particular would lobby the handful of wavering Republicans who will decide the matter.

“I’ve decided that I cannot support the treaty,” Senator McConnell said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “I think the verification provisions are inadequate and I do worry about the missile-defense implications of it.” While the treaty was signed eight months ago, he said, “rushing it right before Christmas, it strikes me as trying to jam us.”

One Republican who had previously signaled willingness to support the treaty, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, suggested Sunday that he would not. Mr. Graham cited the sour mood engendered by Democrats forcing votes on other topics in recent days, including the bill on gays in the military that passed Saturday. “If you really want to have a chance of passing Start, you better start over and do it in the next Congress because this lame duck has been poisoned,” Mr. Graham said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. 

And Republicans are right back to the same idiotic arguments that they used during the health care reform debate:  that somehow this is "jamming it down the throats" of America as a last minute, unread cryptic mess even though the Senate has been discussing this treaty for eight full months now, and that Republicans want to "scrap it and start over".

It's clear the Republicans believe it's time to exact more concessions from the President and Democrats, and they are pretty confident that they will get them.  With the government now running on the fumes of short-term continuing resolutions and the Tea Party base livid that the Republicans haven't impeached Obama yet, the GOP has no choice but to say no to everything else.

We'll see if the Republicans stop acting like spoiled brats long enough to get this ratified.  As Sen. Kerry pointed out yesterday, this treaty has already been in Senate debate longer than the last three arms treaties with Russia combined.

The Tea-ranny Of The Majority Wants To Repeal The Federal Government

As I said yesterday the goal isn't to get crazy stuff like a constitutional amendment allowing states to repeal federal laws passed, it's to prevent the debate on our politics from ever moving an inch to the left.

The same people driving the lawsuits that seek to dismantle the Obama administration’s health care overhaul have set their sights on an even bigger target: a constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the states to overturn any act of Congress.
Under the proposed “repeal amendment,” any federal law or regulation could be repealed if the legislatures of two-thirds of the states voted to do so.
The idea has been propelled by the wave of Republican victories in the midterm elections. First promoted by Virginia lawmakers and Tea Party groups, it has the support of legislative leaders in 12 states. It also won the backing of the incoming House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, when it was introduced this month in Congress.
Like any constitutional amendment, it faces enormous hurdles: it must be approved by both chambers of Congress — requiring them to agree, in this case, to check their own power — and then by three-quarters of, or 38, state legislatures.
Still, the idea that the health care legislation was unconstitutional was dismissed as a fringe argument just six months ago — but last week, a federal judge agreed with that argument. Now, legal scholars are handicapping which Supreme Court justices will do the same.
The repeal amendment reflects a larger, growing debate about federal power at a time when the public’s approval of Congress is at a historic low. In the last several years, many states have passed so-called sovereignty resolutions, largely symbolic, aimed at nullifying federal laws they do not agree with, mostly on health care or gun control. 

The repeal amendment is the new unreachable goal for the wingnut right, just like all the other constitutional amendments that fell by the wayside:  amendments preventing flag burning, abortion, gay marriage...but it gets the wingnuts out and gets them to open their wallets to give.  It also pushes the debate further to the right, to the point where openly questioning if we should even have a federal government, and murmurs of secession from the union are growing.

It's a dangerous game to play, but that doesn't matter to some on the right.  Some 150 years ago very similar arguments were made in a much more violent fashion.  If the wingnuts can't have the country they want, then there won't be a country at all, it seems.


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