Sunday, December 27, 2015

The more things change, the more they stay the same

According to Snopes, Trump never said this. It's still true, but ol' Turnip Top never had the integrity to say it out loud.

But it is worth noting here, as a false left wing quote appearing on FB.  We lose substance and credibility when we do not make the effort to be factual and substantive.

It is, for example, worth noting that per Mediate, Trump has racked up more time appearing on Fox News than the other leading right wingnut candidates combined. 

So much for 'fair and balanced'.  As to the stupid voters, well, that's been pretty well documented as a majority of supporters of Trump reading and thinking at a low level -- around 3rd grade level of maturity and competence.
From May 1 to December 15, leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lapped the rest of the field in interview airtime on Fox News. Trump's 22 hours and 46 minutes of airtime was more than twice as much as any other candidate during the period studied. Trump racked up more airtime on the network than Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Sen. Marco Rubio combined.
Interviews with the Republican field have been a near-constant fixture of Fox News' programming during the second half of 2015, and The Fox Primary is showing no signs of slowing down as we approach 2016 and the first primaries.
So far this cycle, the network has already surpassed coverage of the 2012 campaign season: During the period studied, Fox News aired more than 117 hours worth of interviews with Republican candidates. Over a similar time frame (June 1 to January 22, 2012), Fox devoted 77 hours and 24 minutes to interviews of the then-candidates. (The disparity is even more striking considering the 2012 report included appearances on Fox News' sister network, Fox Business.)
Lagging well behind Trump were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor and former Fox News host Mike Huckabee, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who round out the top five. Each spent less than 10 hours on Fox over the same time period

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

T'is the Season to Abandon Reason - The Conservative Christmas War on Freedom and the Constitution

For those of you who missed me, I'm back after an approximately two months hiatus.

This will serve as my holidays post - covering Christmas and the Solstice.

I am heartily sick this December of two thing - the excessive Star Wars hype, and the false claims about a war on Christmas (or Christians). There is nothing I can do about either, other than vent my vexation here. Star Wars hype will eventually subside in satiation; the effort to continue the manipulation of conservatives and the false and faulty screeches of fake victims will continue. But for the interim, it very much feels as if Star Wars has substantially hijacked the holidays.

There is no war on Christmas or Christians in the United States, and precious little effective war on Christians anywhere else.

There IS, however, something I can do about the Conservative War on Freedom  and their attacks on intelligent, informed thinking. It seems particularly apt as my first returning topic, given a brief browse of faulty claims and sloppy propaganda made by local conservative bloggers as I sit down to my computer to write.

Specifically, I am joining here in the protest against -- where else? -- Texas conservatives and their hatred of our constitution, in spite of all the lip service they give that document. Part of my objection is a continuing pet peeve when it comes to fake sources and especially inaccurate attribution of quotes in support of propaganda.

When I saw the image below, the one that bigot governor Abbott saw fit to remove as offensive, what I was reminded of was the opening line to the Gettysburg address:
Apparently those who are elected by ignorant conservatives are not equally well educated in American history -- especially historically accurate quotations.

Hat tip to the Free Thinker for this one, and the Dallas Morning News:
Nativity display created by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which Gov. Greg Abbott demanded removed from the Capitol grounds.
Nativity display created by the
Freedom from Religion Foundation,
which Gov. Greg Abbott demanded
be removed from the Capitol grounds.

Staff at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday removed an exhibit that Gov. Greg Abbott said mocked religion without contacting the organization that sponsored the faux nativity display that replaced baby Jesus with a representation of the Bill of Rights.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization that promotes the separation of church and state, said it is reviewing its options to take further action against the state for the move.

“This sort of censorship is inappropriate and illegal,” said Sam Grover, the foundation’s staff attorney. Removal of the exhibit came after Abbott sent the State Preservation Board a letter saying that the display mocked religion and calling for its immediate elimination from the capitol grounds. 

The exhibit, called the “Bill of Rights Nativity and Winter Solstice Display,” was on the ground floor of the capitol building. In it, the bill of rights sat in the manger in place of baby Jesus, and it was surrounded by three founding fathers and the Statue of Liberty, which appeared to be worshiping the document.

...Abbott, in his letter, said the exhibit did not meet the requirements for display at the Capitol because it didn’t promote a “public purpose.”

And as observed by Patheos and subsequently the Freethinker, but sadly neglected by the Dallas Morning News, Texas Gov. Abbot did not merely remove a legitimate display supporting the separation of church and state -- which GENUINELY was a desideratum held by our founding fathers.  He went on to attempt to support his illegal act against freedom with a false attribution to George Washington.  I despise false attributions, particularly when a source is so well known to be false, and when it is so easily verified if they are correct.  When done by a governor, it is clear that the governor is either willfully too ignorant to fulfill the duties of his office, or he is a propagandizing dictator. 

It is entirely possible Abbot is both.

From the Freethinker:
Andrew L  Seidel, Staff Attorney for the FFRF, Freedom From Religion Foundation, said here that Abbott:
Quoted, at length, erroneous history to support his position. The quote comes from a fabricated prayer journal, misattributed to Washington.
In a letter explaining his decision to have the display removed, Abbott called the FFRF’s  Bill of Rights display “tasteless,” a “spiteful message … intentionally designed to belittle and offend” and charged that it is:
Far from promoting morals and the general welfare.
He even likened the Bill of Rights display to:
A photograph of a crucifix immersed in a jar of urine.
Frank Grizzard, an editor of the George Washington Papers at the University of Virginia, wrote of the book from which Abbott pulled the quote:
Tens of thousands of genuine Washington manuscripts have survived to the present, including many from the youthful Washington, and even a cursory comparison of the prayer book with a genuine Washington manuscript reveals that they are not the same handwriting.
Not only are the prayers not in Washington’s handwriting, they were not composed by Washington himself as Abbott claims.
To borrow from Gizzard, “Both claims are patently false”. That prayer book had been “rejected by the Smithsonian Institute as having no value” and even at the time it first surfaced, “others continued to challenge its authenticity.”
Other historians, such as John Fea, chair of the History Department at Messiah College and author of Was American Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction, agree that this prayer book is not Washington’s:
It is also far too pious for Washington. In fact … George Washington only referenced Jesus Christ twice in all his extant writings and neither of them were in a prayer …
Seidel said:
All that vitriol, from looking at three founding fathers, the Statue of Liberty, and the Bill of Rights. One wonders how such disrespect for the Bill of Rights comports with Abbott’s oaths of office to uphold that sacred document.
We are a secular nation, and we should be a thoughtful nation which embraces freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion, and most of all we should, in order to remain free, push back at any attempts like this one of Texas governor Abbot to make encroachments that effectively create a state sponsored, endorsed and/or promoted religion.  Because when THAT happens, we ALL are less free than our founding fathers intended.

Oppose the tyranny, and the erosion of constitutionally guaranteed freedom promoted by the worst of conservative evangelicals attempting to impose a state sponsored religion.  Oppose ignorance peddled by conservatives in positions of power; the truth, and facts, are not on their side.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Terrorism, nothing else. When it's a duck, admit it's a duck

Over the weekend I saw a brief "interview" of a Democratic and Republican pundit on CNN.  They were talking about the shooting at Planned Parenthood.  The Democrat made his points and generally kept his voice at a normal level, the Republican, as I see so often, continually interrupted the Democrat and the "journalist", continually raised his voice and was quite frankly very successful at shouting down any objection from either the person from CNN or the Democrat.  His point was that the "Black Lives Matter" movement was just as much a terroristic threat as was/is any right-wing group.

The assertion, beyond absurd on it's face about the "Black Lives Matter" movement, is also absurd in that it sought to deflect any serious discussion about the growing trend of radical, violent action by right wingers to get their way through intimidation and violence.  That violence is committed against civilians with the goal to both cause fear and to shape political policy.  There is no better definition of terrorism than that.  Robert Lewis Dear shot up the place, killed two civilians and a police officer to "no more baby parts" (sold) by Planned Parenthood.  That Mr. Dear is following a widely debunked meme' of the far right makes no dent on him, nor on the far right.  His ideology is that of the far right as evidenced by his acquaintances and his commentary.  It is so obviously so that Ted Cruz sought to perpetrate the big lie by calling him a "transgendered leftist."  Now, of course Mr. Cruz needed to somehow wrap in some attack on the idea of sexual identity, as if it had anything at all to do with this attack, but there is no evidence whatsoever that this guy was gender-neutral, seeking a gender change, was a transvestite or in any other way was transgender.

Per the NY Times (via       
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the latest presidential candidate trying to downplay the role anti-abortion rhetoric may have played in motivating the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs Friday afternoon. When a reporter asked him at an Iowa campaign stop Sunday evening about suspect Robert Lewis Dear saying he was motivated by “no more baby parts,” Cruz countered that he’s also been reported to be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist.”

Cruz explained, “We know that he was a man registered to vote as a woman.” This discrepancy on Dear’s voter registration was first reported by The Gateway Pundit, a self-described “right-of-center news website,” under the claim that he “identifies as [a] woman.” Conservatives have since run with the claim that Dear is transgender.

There is actually no evidence to suggest that he is transgender, nor a “leftist,” nor any kind of activist. In fact, all of the available information suggests he was none of those things.

As the New York Times explained, Dear was very much a recluse, the type “that preferred to be left alone,” living in various single-wide trailers and cabins since his divorce in 2000. Neighbors did not know him well, and if they did, it’s because he would lash out at them when they tried to interfere with his business, like reporting him for mistreating his dogs.

The Times’ profile also identifies him as “generally conservative,” having been raised as a Baptist, but as someone who did not discuss politics much. According to his ex-wife, “he believed wholeheartedly in the Bible” and believed that abortion was wrong. He also distributed pamphlets criticizing President Obama to his neighbors in Colorado. On the voter registration form with the gender discrepancy, his party is listed as “UAF,” meaning unaffliated.

None of the people interviewed about Dear had anything to say about his gender identity. Nothing about his appearance nor any past reports of his identity suggests that he identifies as a woman. The voter registration form identifying him as female is the only discrepancy, making it most likely a typo and nothing more."

So, based on a typographical error on his voting record, despite the fact that he was married, despite the fact that there was no other evidence and despite the fact that on a couple of key issues AND the fact that the man distributed anti-Obama pamphlets, somehow Cruz can try to say with a straight face that Dear was "trangered" and a "Leftist Activist."  It's appalling conduct by Cruz.  It points to a man willing to say ANYTHING, repeat ANY lie, show that he has precisely zero morality when it comes to getting his way, and in that, he is the perfect example of how far off the rails the far right in this country has gone.

Cruz is playing to a base that laps up this kind of fomented rhetoric.  The kind that believes BS videos clipped together over years of interviews, like the O'Keefe videos, paid for by unidentified and quite likely wealthy backers, intentionally edited to mislead.  They hear the evidence about these falsehoods, but they just don't care.  They BELIEVE them to be true.  Like Mr. Dear does. 

Yesterday a FOUR men in Minneapolis were charged with various crimes related to their alleged shooting and shooting at several people at a Black Lives Matter demonstration.  It wasn't the demonstrators who were violent (though a few have been elsewhere), it was angry white guys with guns (and apparently for at least one, a license to carry).  The contention of the Republican pundit on CNN was that the movement itself was terroristic, yet his justification was made based on the actions of a couple of people who were angry demonstrators who lashed out in apparently unplanned acts, lashing out against harsh police responses.  Hardly similar to planning and then shooting up a clinic, or blowing it up, or assassinating a doctor, all done to make the people who perform legal medical procedures afraid to do so OR showing up at a political rally and shooting at people to "show them who is boss" or otherwise intimidate.  By contrast, the justification others have used to claim the BLM movement is terroristic is a video of some members of the movement shouting "Pigs in a blanket, fry em' like bacon." Of course, they DIDN'T bother to report about that video that it was done in jest in a conversation with a police officer.  They didn't also bother to report that no one actually DID fry any police officers.  While there is a growing sense of frustration with the enormous inequality in treatment of blacks by our justice system, the rhetoric and actions of people in the BLM movement has been widely AGAINST violent response and as far as I can find, no one, not one person directly affiliated with the BLM movement has been charged with a terrorist act.  A handful have been charged with clashing with police, but that's hardly the same as killing people to intimidate.  Unless we are going to start claiming that protest is terrorism, the BLM movement is about as close to terrorism as is the NRA, or the Tea Party, or the Open-Carry movements.  There are members who've done bad things, but the movements don't own those acts.  And, at least in the case of the BLM movement, they denounce the actions of the far right.

Yet, there are people in the far right who are not only willing to engage in deceptive rhetoric, they saying "something must be done", and through that rhetoric, they provide motivation/justification to the 1% of that fringe that are willing to engage in violence.  Furthermore, by attempting to shift the debate to supposed bad acts by the likes of the BLM movement, they certainly appear to be saying, "well, YOU'RE doing it, so why it is bad if other do so as well?"  Or at least saying, the left is doing it, which gives justification to violence by the right (albeit false justification), to retaliate, after all, they can claim, "We didn't start it."  Yet, the similarities aren't there, and even if they were, violent reprisal is STILL terrorism. 

Regardless of the rhetoric, it is time for the right wing (meaning the Republicans who are now so far to the right that they are virtually all the far right), it is time for the Republican party to admit that the far right has a terrorism problem.  It is true that it is a tiny, tiny fraction, but it is also true that it is THAT fraction, just like the tiny fraction of Muslims in Europe, which is engaging in violence for the purpose of political intimidation and change.  It is further time for them to stop trying to label EVERYONE else as a terrorist, it is time for them to stop using terrorism as their boogey-man, especially when they have a problem with their own base.  They have a log in their eye but complain about splinters.

The right wing has a terrorism problem.  It has fueled action by nut-jobs, and it is time that movement start being truthful about the fact that the REST of the country are good people (by and large), that blacks are almost universally law abiding, that whites kill whites far more often than do blacks, just like blacks kill blacks, and that it REPUDIATE the terrorist actions of it's nut-job fringe.  Failing to do so is nothing less than abiding terrorism.  And let's be clear, that IS what these attacks are.  They are violence and threats of violence "2nd Amendment remedies" to change the political landscape.  When a white guy confronts blacks protesting on the street, argues with them, and then gets out a gun to shut them up and shut down their protest, it's terrorism.  It's not just walking like a duck, it's not just talking like a duck, it's a duck. 

Sorry for the absence

All, DG is dealing with personal stuff and so has been out-of-pocket, and my mother passed away and so I have too.  Sorry for the lack of content lately.