It’s 1804. Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton but he’s still the vice president, runs out of town. Back, 1805, he’s in the chamber. He’s still dispensing advice in the Senate. And Burr says, you’re a great deliberative body but a really great chamber has a very clean rulebook and yours is a mess. And he singles out that previous question motion. They get rid of it in 1806, not because they wanted to create filibusters, right, not because they saw the great deliberative body of the Senate and they needed a right way to protect the rights of minorities. That rule was gone because Aaron Burr told them to get rid of it and it hadn’t been used yet.
The Senate isn’t a democratic body. It is a body created to ensure that states had a voice in the federal government. That is its reason for existing and that is why it is made up the way that it is. But that doesn’t mean that the rules that govern the Senate should be broken in such a way that it can’t get business done because the minority wants to roll around on the floor like a temperamental child that doesn’t get what it wants (Yes, Ted Cruz. I’m imagining you with chocolate smeared on your face and wearing an OshKosh jumper rolling on the Senate floor right now, destroying my fond memories of Green Eggs and Ham. Petulant. Small. Child. Ted Cruz) The Senate simply needs to restore the motion to call the previous question that still exists in the House rules and in the basic parliamentary rules that govern most legislative bodies (Robert’s Rules of Order) Striking that rule in the Senate is what has lead to the impasse of the filibuster.
It is amusing to me that the rule was originally struck because it was thought that Senators were too civilized to need to end debate with a vote since no Senator had ever refused to stop talking when it was clear that he was not convincing anyone. Had the original Senators known the future, known that John C. Calhoun would use the filibuster in defense of slavery to bring the United States to the brink of Civil War, that Mitch McConnell and his Republicans would use it to stop the Senate from being able to get anything done, they would have left the ability to call the previous question in place. If we could talk to them today they would probably marvel at our inability to simply set the filibuster aside as a bad idea that has long outlived its usefulness. They had just voted themselves as no longer subject to the King of England a few decades earlier. Don’t like the rules? Change the rules.
This was originally published as a quote from the episode of On the Media that tops the article, near the date when the episode released. Since this is a problem that we are still talking about four years later, I have moved it forward to today and added more of my thoughts on the subject, like I had originally intended to do when I set the quote aside to be published later, and then published even later after my thoughts evaporated.
You were in the capitol that day. You know what the mob did. You know who sent that mob to the capitol, looking for your blood and the blood of your fellow legislators as well as the blood of the Vice President who loyally served him for four years. The guilty person I’m referencing is Donald Trump. In 2016 he said he wouldn’t accept a vote outcome that showed that he lost, even though he planned on losing. That is the poor excuse for a human being that Donald Trump has always been. He reiterated this unwillingness to accept defeat before the 2020 election was held, after the election results were known, and still refuses to allow anyone to call him the former president within his earshot.
He lost, yet he refuses to admit the truth of this to anyone, including himself. He is an active threat to all of us individually and to you personally as a locus of power inside the American government, power that can oppose his will and the will of the mob that he controls even to this day. He and they will come for you eventually. Sooner or later there will come a time when he and they draw a line that you won’t cross, and then you will be eliminated in your turn just as every person that refuses to back his play has been betrayed over the decades that he has been in business, let alone in power as the president. This is an unavoidable course once you start down the road to dictatorship, the kind of country that Donald Trump and his supporters want to remake the United States into.
There is only one way for you to avoid this fate, avoid it for all of our sakes. You must convict Donald Trump for the many, many crimes he has committed over the last four years as well as for the ones he committed since last November when he lost his chance to be president again. Convict him and then bar him from ever holding public office again. Only then will we be free from the fear and hatred that Donald Trump wields as a weapon. We may still have to fight the White Nationalists that his behavior and your blindness in supporting him have empowered over the last four years, but at least they will not have Trump to lead them anymore.
If you don’t convict him for his crimes and bar him from ever serving in public office again, you will have loosed the hounds of war as surely as if you released them yourself. The White Nationalists will be empowered, and Trump will lead them to take control of the United States government again, just as they are taking over the state governments under the colors of the Republican party right now, while you blindly continue to pretend that it isn’t happening.
Hell is coming, Senator. On February 5th of last year, when you didn’t convict Donald Trump at his first impeachment trial, you set us up to lose half a million lives to the coronavirus under his leadership. All that blood is on your hands. The death toll will be even higher if you fail to uphold the law this time. Millions will die as the country tears itself apart from within, killed by your willingness put party over country and not remove the threat that resides within your own political party. Killed by the enemies from within the country that back this cancerous growth in your party.
May the blood of your evil deeds ever lie heavily upon you for that vote last February and for the actions that your partisan blinders keep you from taking now. Hell is coming for us all, unless you act to convict this cancer named Donald Trump and bar him from ever holding office again. If you fail us, I pray that hell will find you and yours sooner than it finds me and mine. Hell may spare me and mine if I am clever enough to avoid the scythe that death wields, but it will certainly not spare you.
Convict Donald Trump and bar him from ever holding public office again. That is the right choice, and no one knows these facts better than you do. Back the prosecutions that are mounted against him and his supporters for the crimes that they have committed. Dedicate yourself once again to the country that you took an oath to preserve, and perhaps you will be spared like Scrooge on that fateful night when he saw the error of his ways. No one knows the future. The known acts of President Trump warrant his conviction and his demonstrated willingness to subvert the rule of law requires you to bar him from ever holding office again. These things we do know. They now require you to act.
A letter I sent to our Texas Senators
Here is a video of the first day of the House managers arguments as recorded on C-Span:
On January 6, President Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead.
Those of the forty-three Senators that openly stated that the question of the rightness of trial was their reason for why they voted to acquit, should be censured and removed from office for their violations of their oaths to the constitution. It can’t be more simply stated than that. If they cannot be bound to their own decisions of less than a week prior, then they have no moral backbone on which they can base future judgements. They should be replaced as soon as possible with people who can stand by their own decisions, and the decisions of their own legislative bodies. Yes. I am looking at you Ted Cruz and at you John Cornyn. You have disgraced your office, your state, and yourselves. You cannot justifiably presume to represent any Texas citizen in good standing, no matter what justifications you offer for your actions.
Those were your people once, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Cornyn. The talking heads on the podcast and their audience of tens of thousands of subscribers. Now they are your opponents.
Hey, isn’t it nice to have access to trillions of dollars and millions of man hours just so you two bozos can feel safe in your bunker in Washington D.C.? Too bad you couldn’t swing getting that kind of safety net out for the rest of us regular folks.
They still don’t have enough tests to pull of effective tracing and quarantine of the infected in the United States. Not even after three months.
…I wrote that on February 29th, back when the pandemic wasn’t even officially a pandemic yet. They knew they would need tests then and they’ve been promising them for the entirety of the time between now and then. They were two months late on getting tests out then, and now they are 5 months late and people in their inner circle are starting to catch it. So now they have tests available to test all the people around the president, the kinds of intensive testing and tracking that will be required to locate and isolate all of the people who are currently sick with this virus, but we won’t be getting that kind of security blanket.
That kind of security is only for the special people. The leadership. The authority figures, no matter how shady their path to authority was. They get the gold star treatment. The rest of us have to hunker down in our houses for the fourth month in a row, and be thankful that we still have houses. Those who had houses in the first place and weren’t already living in the streets of the major cities in North America. Never mind the poor immigrants and refugees that will be the real victims in this crisis. The people confined in camps all over the face of the globe. Packed together with minimal or no hygiene, poorly fed, they are the people who will bear the brunt of the suffering now just as they always do.
Next in line will the the essential workers. The people who have to work to survive. Those places are already becoming hotbeds of infection. Never mind the hospitals that no one would dare go to today without already feeling sick with the virus. Those places are the obvious nexus of infection that we all will avoid if we can. No, the essential work that is being done on farms. The meat packing plants. The grocery stores and other retail outlets.
It is totally laughable to me that the hair salons and barbershops are opening back up. I spent three haircuts worth of money to buy a Wahl self-cut set and I plan on cutting my own hair for the next six months at least. Social distancing goes out the window when one person touches the hair of even ten people in one day, and that would be a slow day in a hair salon.
Texas? Your fly is open. You might want to turn around and fix that. The Trump coronavirus response has been a complete joke. I only wish it had been a funny joke. We could all use a good laugh right about now.
I didn’t watch the witch hunt that was televised today (Thursday September 28th, 2018) although I have seen several stories in the media telling me how everyone else did watch. That would be their time to waste in watching the execution of a good woman’s reputation. I didn’t watch just like I didn’t watch the debates with the Orange Hate-Monkey. Brett Kavanaugh is lying now, just like the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) was lying then. Everyone knows Kavanaugh is lying. They know he is lying because he refused to ask for an FBI investigation when prompted. Repeatedly. So everyone in that Judiciary Committee hearing knew he was lying, but they all have to stick to their scripts.
Do you know how we know that Mueller’s investigation isn’t a witch hunt? There are no women accused. There are no women accused and the Orange Hate-Monkey is still in office two years later. If the OHM had been a woman, if Hillary Clinton had won the election in 2016, there would already be a high rise built on the spot where her body was burnt eighteen months ago. Because witch hunts come to a speedy conclusion and they inevitably convict innocent people.
I started to watch the debates between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz last week. Ted Cruz was lying before he even got out of his opening comments. What’s the point of listening to defacto, demonstrable liars? People who start off lying and never stop lying, playing dirty, blaming others for their behavior? Save yourself some time, spare yourself and the furniture the wear and tear of torment like that. They’re lying, they’re going to keep lying, so let’s get on to the next thing. What is the next thing, you ask? filling the streets of Washington DC with enough people that normal life comes to a standstill until this travesty of a Presidency comes to an end. That has been the next thing that needs doing since January 20, 2017.
Illness got in the way of my documenting the travesty of the Kavanaugh confirmation (as mentioned here) I’m going to append the material I intended to include in the further documentation to this post in a largely unedited format.
I’ve shared that post widely. Many people who don’t follow Stonekettle Station expressed agreement with the words. It hadn’t occurred to me to think what might have happened had Kavanaugh not channeled the Orange Hate-Monkey until I read that post. Then it struck me. He was right. Kavanaugh’d be on the court already, if he had simply done the standard wring your hands I’m sorry bullshit. If he had done that instead of blow his top, they would have held the full Senate vote that day. Trump inspired him to destroy his own career by telling him to go hard. Whatever it is he’s hiding will come to light now, just as Trump’s dirty laundry airs on a nearly nightly basis these days.
…tell me again, why do people think the OHM knows anything about politics? Because I don’t think he knows thing one about the subject.
…also, I’m hoping the FBI does what the interrogator did to Kavanaugh at the hearing. Probed in sensitive spots in such a way that the skeletons fall out of the closet. “Oops, we didn’t mean to do that!” But you are probably right. The White House is going to try to orchestrate the investigation.
However, there was a ton of pushback that Jim got from elsewhere on Facebook, leading him to write an even longer post on the subject two days later.
I was NOT suggesting Kavanaugh cop to rape. Again, you MUST have seen enough of this to know how it works. There’s a list a couple hundred deep on Wikipedia of American politicians caught with their pants down.
I mean, you guys read the paper right? You watch the news? You know this is NOT the first guy with a shady sexual history nominated for office, right?
Lawyers write non-apology apologies for politicians all of the time without admitting anything. Kavanaugh IS a lawyer. The Senate committee confirming him are almost all lawyers. The SENATE is mostly lawyers. You people HAVE to know how this game is played? Right? You’ve seen it often enough.
There’s a formula for this: The guy makes some sort of vague tearful apology written by a lawyer without admitting anything. The powers-that-be use that to justify their approval AND their dismissal of the victims and any public protest. Confirmation. Business as usual.
Now before you start misinterpreting THAT statement, I didn’t say it was right. This formula. I said it IS. Call it the Patriarchy. Call it White Privilege. Call it Politics As Usual or the Swamp or whatever.”
It literally blew my mind that people did not understand what the first post was getting at. That he had to write a post three times longer than the first one just to get the key points across. As if this was grade school and you have to lead these people by the hands to get them to understand. I write, too. I get that narratives are hard to construct. But seriously, some people should stick to watching children’s cartoons rather than trying to master big words and hard concepts.
Reviewing the evidence revealed by the talking heads I listened to, talking heads endlessly discussing the hearings, I came away with the fact that Christine Blasey Ford, the prosecutor that the Senate Judiciary Committee had hired to cross-examine now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, got him to reveal his character by making him lose his cool. He had secrets he was hiding, and he wasn’t going to reveal them willingly. He probably should have played with himself before going into that hearing. It might have made him less of a raging asshole, but I doubt it.
After this groundbreaking revelation, that Kavanaugh was lying on the stand, an impeachable error for a sitting justice, the Republican leadership of the committee fired Christine Blasey Ford, burning another witch. They had two witch burnings in one Senate hearing, and they counted that as a success. I know that Lindsey Graham saw it that way. The Senate Republicans burned the witches and pretended none of that bad stuff that Justice Kavanaugh was accused of ever happened. Just as they did with Justice Thomas. #IBelieveHer and That Still Isn’t Enough People. The outcome of the hearings was preordained by the Republican leadership of the Senate. Holding the hearings were just a sham.
On top of that, justice Kavanaugh was drunk on the witness stand. Pull up the video of his Senate hearing. Look at the flush on his nose and cheeks. That man is one angry drunk. I pity his wife and children.
Facebook wants me to use Facebook to contact my representatives in government. I’ll get to the issue of my never giving Facebook the authority to be the messenger to and from my representatives in government eventually. First I would like to explain why none of these people really want to hear from me again.
There is one preliminary quibble I need to get out of the way. Facebook claims my local government representatives are on Facebook. this is false. Austin’s mayor is on Facebook as part of this new Townhall function they’ve come up with, so there is a representative of my local government. But not nearly all of them, or even more than that one. No one below that, local townsfolk who have actual knowledge of what I need and might want to say to them are on Facebook as part of this function that Facebook has given itself. None of them; City Manager, City Councilmember, County Commissioners, Justice of the Peace, County Clerk, Municipal Court, Police Department, Fire Department, EMS, Austin Utilities, Texas Gas, Or the various information service providers, all of whom are between me and my access to Facebook who has deemed itself my conduit to speaking to my government representatives, are listed as being part of this townhall dublafluwichy they’ve invented for Facebook.
Now, these guys? These guys aren’t local, but one of them was. So I’ll follow him. He’s also the only one of these people who would willingly take a call from me personally and not actually ignore anything I say, so he’s the only one worth talking to. Now, you could say, What about Dawnna Dukes? She’s local. Yeah, she’s local, but there’s no point in talking to her. She wasn’t present to do her job this session in congress, and I voted for her for the first time in 2016 only because she promised she’d retire and let a special session pick her replacement. This time around I will vote for anybody who runs against her in the primary. Anybody. I’ll vote for anybody running against her in the general. Anybody. That’s how much I want her out of the seat she’s sitting in.
The other two state Schmos? The ones who represent the entire state of Texas? I’ve never voted for either of them at any point in history, and I doubt that I ever will. One of them is a crazed religious zealot who wants to kick all Hispanics out of the state of Texas and thinks that the transgendered, homosexuals and atheists are threats to the christian way of life, and the other one is Dan Patrick. The less said about him the better.
These guys are definitely not local. District twenty-five is a gerrymandered piece of shit that the Texas GOP came up with to get rid of what was then the only sitting Texas Democrat in the House of Representatives. They failed. He’s still there sitting in the seat he inherited from J.J. Jake Pickle.
Roger Williams is from Killeen, a place way up North of Austin. He’s not local. If Texas was broken up like the Atlantic states are, He’d be from Maine while I was from Connecticut. Not even vaguely similar. Killeen is as much like Austin as a Catholic is like a Baptist. Jesus is their shared savior but they aren’t exactly sure how that is.
Likewise John Cornyn is from Texas but his notion of what Texas is and mine will never be the same. Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz. I’ve talked to both of them before. I’d rather have a conversation with my dog. I’m pretty sure my dog understands me better and I’m quite comfortable calling my dog a friend I can relate to. If I could relate to those two I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night.
All three of those guys, Williams, Cornyn and Cruz are on the same list as Dawnna Dukes, which is a low point for Democrats for me. The one Democrat who represents me is the one Democrat I want to be rid of; the one Democrat that I would vote for anybody on the ticket other than her. The other three are just typical Texas Republicans. People I generally have no use for but are stuck in the same state with anyway. Their twisted values are as familiar to me as the taint of oil refinery polluted air around Houston and Borger. The shell-shocked town of West. The destitute colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. No, I know these people quite well. They are the problem, not the solution.
All of the negative observations above goes double for both Mike Pence and Donald Trump. Mike Pence may end up being the person in charge of the federal government but that will only be because the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is completely incapable of holding government office successfully. His probable presidency will not be because Mike Pence has the slightest clue in which direction reality lies or an idea of what good governance is or might be. He’s only the Vice President because the OHM picked someone everyone would be less inclined to trust than him. We can’t impeach Trump, then we’d have to face President Pence. Except we have to impeach Trump because he’s probably a lunatic, making him more dangerous to the world than a President Pence would be to us.
Having now taken the tour of Facebook’s townhall offering, I’d like to make a counter-offer. Be careful, Facebook. You are starting to look like the Post Office. The Post Office was Benjamin Franklin’s invention that allowed an informed public to be created and through it for representative governance to be possible. If you are the Post Office, then you are subject to direct federal oversight. You are a part of government; and as such, can be dictated to by the exact same representatives you list for me to contact. You can be altered, ordered or dismantled by the government without an appeal to the population at large. Without a claim to private business or privacy protections. Branches of government can come and go at the government’s whim.
With a user base of over a billion people, I have to wonder if there is anything with enough power to bring you to heel? I’m beginning to doubt that there is an entity with enough authority to govern the internet in general and Facebook in particular. But it may be about time that we starting talking about that kind of authority, if not well past that time.
I started to write this post after Jim posted Unknown unknowns over at Stonekettle Station, which was a post in response to the tempest in a teapot that represented the 24 hour news cycle reporting on the clinic standoff and shooting incident in Colorado Springs. I shelved it for various reasons at first, none of them really earth-shattering. Of course, a week later and we have the inexplicable mass shooting in San Bernardino, which instantly eclipsed the previous story.
I could easily spin this into an screed against the gun lobby and their paid cronies in Washington DC who won’t let the CDC even study gun violence in an effort to figure out how to address it, considering that we have had more than one mass shooting every day of this year (2015) which has to be some kind of record that no society on the face of this earth is really interested in breaking…
…but that isn’t the article I want to write. This isn’t going to be the article I started out writing, either. The issue is much bigger than the specific subject of what we know or don’t know about a specific person set on doing wrong, or having been caught doing wrong. It is even bigger than the problem that Jim was trying to address, the 24 hour news cycle, which I agree probably represents the greatest threat to human civilization in the modern age. The need to fill time, to produce facts and counterfactuals when no hard facts are known about the specifics of the incident in question, can lead to greater and greater flights of fancy.
I turn the TV off when that feeding frenzy starts. It is hard enough to separate the wheat from the chaff on good days. On bad days like the two events above bring, listening to the news just feeds confirmation bias until you end up looking and sounding like an idiot.
I will include the specific arguments for the Colorado Springs incident in this post, but the point that I’m seeing come into focus now that the shooter has appeared in court and indicted himself is the argument about what we know vs. what we believe. How we can know what we think we know, and how is that different than belief?
That is the reason why the 24 hour news cycle is such a threat. Being not much more than the talking heads that sold soap in the early days of television, the current crop of news faces appear to have even less familiarity with what facts are and why fact-checking is important. They are, after all, just selling soap. Keeping the most number of eyes on the screen is how they sell soap and so the factual content of what they say isn’t the important part of the equation. That they tell you things that reinforce your beliefs on a subject so that you will keep watching, is.
Most of the white-looking people in the US trust the police intrinsically, for example. Most of us older types were raised on police dramas portraying the cops as the good guys who enforce the laws and keep the peace. It is very uncomfortable for most of us to be confronted with stories if entire police departments covering up the details of killings done at their hands. And yet, time after time over the last few years, we have been shown just how human police departments are everywhere in the US. Be it Chicago, Baltimore or Saint Louis, just about anywhere USA, there are examples of police who brazenly violate laws and procedures who are then protected by their brothers in uniform.
This really isn’t news. If you’ve been paying attention you would have run across stories by people like Radley Balko who have been documenting police excess for several decades now. The police are humans, they make mistakes just like the rest of us. If you were in their place you would act no differently than they would, because that is what humans do. But that doesn’t excuse the excess, it is a point of data that needs to be accounted for when deciding what you know or don’t know about any given subject.
For the black or brown people who are almost always the bad guys in police dramas, the revelation that cops are only human really isn’t news either. They’ve lived with the reality of constant police scrutiny for generations. So much so that stories abound of fathers and mothers cautioning their children not to become police statistics. So it is no wonder that the chant black lives matter resounds with them. The counter offered by clueless whites that all lives matter is heard by these same people as just another call for them to sit down and be quiet. How is this possible? How can realities and beliefs about these realities be so widely separated?
When it comes right down to it, what you know with certainty is a very small number of things. Whether it is night or day. Whether it is cold or hot. You know these things because you can test them directly with your senses. Solipsists will argue that you can’t even know those things because we are all just brains in jars at best, but I’d like us all to pretend that the shadows on the cave walls actually represent something real, and try to make sense of that. If that much can’t be granted, then there is little point in continuing to read this. Even less in my continuing to write.
Beyond what you can test yourself (fire burns) there are grades of factual knowledge which you can probably safely rely on. At each point where the facts exchange hands, the ownership of that data has to be documented to be trusted. This is why, when doing research, it is important to seek out source material and not just rely on wikipedia. The more obscure the subject matter the less reliable secondary sources are.
When watching the news on television or reading news stories on any other site than AP, Reuters or UPI you are already dealing with information that has been through at least three hands if not dozens. When you’ve gone beyond the point where the witness is being interviewed in person, you are dealing with evidence that wouldn’t be accepted in court. That doesn’t mean it is without value, it just means the news you are being offered could be just this side of fantasy.
It might even be pure fantasy. Case in point, the FOX/conservative/anti-abortion counter-narrative about the Colorado Springs shooter. When I logged on Blogger that night, the first thing I saw wasn’t the Stonekettle Station article. The first article that caught my eye was a piece over at Friendly Atheist in which Ted Cruz voices the notion that the shooter was some kind of leftist. No, I could not make something that stupid up myself.
Cruz is basing that characterization on a supposed voter registration form in which Dear was listed as a woman. Whether it’s a mistake, or Dear was just messing around, or simply not the right form, we don’t know, but no other evidence indicates that he was transgender.
There’s even less evidence that he was a “leftist.”
The problem that I had with Jim’s Unknown unknowns piece now surfaces. Jim mentions this story in opposition to the reports (which he attributes to Planned Parenthood) that the shooter was heard to say “no more baby parts” as he was being arrested. But the contrast between the veracity of these two stories is as marked as they are in opposition to each other.
The statement no more baby parts was repeated by an officer to a reporter directly on the scene, a reporter who dutifully passed the comment on to their viewing audience. While that is hearsay and not evidence admissible in court; the officer, if he were to appear in court, could repeat the statement and it would be admissible. It would also be accepted by an overwhelming number of juries who trust police officers to be truthful (see above) even in the face of so much evidence that police will lie to protect their own.
Since this case isn’t about one of their own, and since the police showed remarkable restraint in bringing a cop killer in alive, I was inclined to believe the statement of the arresting officer. That the shooter (not alleged, he plead guilty) repeated a version of the same statement at his hearing just confirms the motivation that lead him to commit the crimes he is guilty of.
On the other hand, the preferred story of conservatives/anti-abortionists is based on what? Essentially no evidence whatsoever, more wishful thinking than anything else. And yet it is repeated by a Republican Presidential candidate as if it was the unquestionable truth.
That is the nature of belief. It doesn’t require facts. Facts are counterproductive because they can be questioned. If facts are presented that counter a belief, it only takes the briefest scrutiny to discover or manufacture an anomaly which the believer will use to discard the entirety of the factual information presented. Ted Cruz wants to believe that the shooter couldn’t be one of his fellow anti-abortionists. Ted Cruz believes that leftists are dangerous people, and that LGBT people are a threat to his way of life. The story he repeats is ready-made to fit into his preconceived view of the world, and it matters not one bit that the story makes no sense on its face. That the average liberal and LGBT person would be in support of Planned Parenthood and consequently wouldn’t see a need to attack one of their clinics never enters into the mind of a conservative repeating this laughable story.
Given the history of attacks on Planned Parenthood, and the current cloud of controversy artificially created by anti-abortion activists faking videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood selling body parts, the story of a shooter in a clinic almost serves itself up ready-made as a vehicle to attack the religious right and conservatives in general. Of course they would want to craft a counter-narrative (however flimsy) to give themselves an out, a way to disavow accountability for their actions over the last twenty years and more.
A conservative could easily counter all of the above (most probably will) with the adult equivalent of I know you are but what am I? Since about the time that Reagan was elected, conservatives started to complain about the liberal media. Even I, for a time, fell for this notion that the media was somehow biased in general against conservatives. As the years have progressed, and conservatives have created their own outlets like FOX news, conservapedia, and uncounted news sites including the whacko fringe like prisonplanet and infowars, it has become clear that conservatives aren’t satisfied with simply presenting news from their point of view. No, what they want is their own set of facts which are unassailable. Unassailable because they aren’t based on anything real.
Another example is the softer, nicer language of pro-life and pro-choice adopted by the two sides of the endless argument over abortion. Having softened the language, pollsters can get majorities of citizens in the US to say they are pro-life. Who would be against life?I’m pro-life, I’m also pro-choice; militantly pro-choice. The fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans still believe that abortion should be legal gets lost in the conservative rush to declare the opposite, that the majority of Americans oppose abortion. This conservative view on the matter simply isn’t true as polling shows.
What has occurred since the creation of FOX news is the division of the US into two camps; one of those camps thinks they are right, and the rest of us are liberal. In their attempt to prove that the rest of the media is based on a liberal conspiracy, conservatives have consciously created a conspiracy of their own. A conspiracy where they tell lies which they know are lies, because the ends justify the means.
When you evade the truth, when you spin tales to hide your true goals, what you get are people who believe your lies so firmly that they will act on them as if they were truths. You get what transpired in Colorado Springs yesterday, to the embarrassment of every single person who identifies as pro-life. Remember that the next time you hear the phrase liberal media.
Five minutes into this, and I’m already pissed off. Ted Cruz is right to call for only christian refugees to be let in? Only to the extent that an observation that only atheists be let in by an atheist is correct.
“President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America—it is nothing less than lunacy,” Ted Cruz said on Fox News, the day after the attacks on Paris. If there are Syrian Muslims who are really being persecuted, he said, they should be sent to “majority-Muslim countries.” Then he reset his eyebrows, which had been angled in a peak of concern, as if he had something pious to say. And he did: “On the other hand,” he added, “Christians who are being targeted for genocide, for persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them. But President Obama refuses to do that.”
Atheists should be more welcome than christians, especially Christianists like Ted Cruz. Atheists are under more threat, and they have no religious test to inflict on our secular government if brought here. Cruz’s test would exclude these people as well as Muslims, which is why no test should be allowed beyond ascertaining no inclination to violence and links to terrorist organizations. We will have to trust, as we do with all citizens, that the refugees will attempt to conform to norms (normative behavior patterns) Whatever those are.
The last political piece I wrote for this blog was titled Pharisee vs. Christian and it was about the Kim Davis farce that continues to play out in Kentucky.
I’ve apparently pissed off some people on this subject. Not the religious people that the wife said would firebomb us for the title; no those people really can’t seem to care one way or the other (as I’ve noted over most of my life, the vast majority of people who identify as christian are reasonable, sane, and capable of rational discussion even on the subject of religion. There are exceptions as there are in any group) no, the group that I appear to have pissed off is Democrats.
The most frequent response I get from this observation is that conservatives can be Democrats, stated in a voice that seems to drip with disdain for requiring them to state the obvious. This isn’t news to me, nor is it the point that I’m trying to make when I bring this fact up, although I could have worded my initial comment more clearly.
Specifically the fracas emerged on a Facebook post on Jim Wright’s wall. Jim rightly notes that the comparison that Huckabee is making (go to the link and read about it, I don’t care enough to even try to summarize it) really doesn’t hold water for various reasons; mostly because Huckabee is a grandstanding buffoon competing with Donald Trump for air time. Huckabee and Ted Cruz (another buffoon) are now embracing Kim Davis as their poster child for the persecution of christians. But I’d still like to point out to these two Republican Presidential hopefuls that they are defending a Democrat as being the best example of conservative christian in office.
A Democrat. A Democrat who refuses to do her job.
Now, I’ve been active in political circles for a long time. There was a time when fraternizing with the opposition was commonplace, but that was before Newt Gingrich and the birth of FOX news. These days having anything nice to say about a Democrat spells disaster for conservatives who are trying to out-conservative all the other conservatives. To this day the most telling criticism that can be leveled by conservatives at fellow conservative Governor Chris Christie is that he hugged President Obama. His hand in costing the state of New Jersey uncounted man-hours with the George Washington Bridge fiasco barely registers outside his own state. Now these two buffoons are hugging a Democrat on national television.
This Democrat might be conservative, I don’t know. She hasn’t changed her party affiliation, something that former Democrat and former Governor Rick Perry can tell you is easy to do. So her claim to be conservative doesn’t equate to her huggability as a Republican by other Republicans. She is demonstrably not acting in a christian manner, so I doubt very much that she really qualifies as a christian. She is acting in a way that the homo-obsessed religious-right lead GOP embraces, I get that part of the equation. Homophobia equals conservative in that light, if conservatives want to go there that is their business. If the GOP wants to endorse homophobia as a plank in their party platform, more power to them.
But what will this little farce look like in a year, a month before the 2016 elections? That really is the question. What will the optics be in the rear-view mirror? I imagine that neither of these two will be on the dais debating whoever the Democrats end up nominating, but just how will the GOP attract votes from any group outside of the aging white demographic of the religious right when they’ve gone out of their way to embrace lawlessness, racism and homophobia all in the space of the campaign for selecting their nominee?
November 9, 2018 – Neither Huckabee nor Cruz were ultimately the nominees for the Republican party in 2016 in spite of all the demagoguery and pandering. They were apparently too sane to make the cut. We got the Orange Hate-Monkey instead. Kim Davis switched to the Republican party and ran for reelection this year. So at least the headline Huckabee, Cruz Embrace a Republican Official can now be substituted for what actually happened that day in 2015.
However, Kim Davis lost her reelection bid. The gay man who was refused a marriage license by Kim Davis was not the candidate that defeated her, unfortunately; although he did run as a Democrat in the primaries this year. That would have been a priceless bit of news. But he lost to the same challenger that faced off against Davis previously and lost, when she was also running as a Democrat. This time the Democrat won, again. Hooray for partisan loyalty? I guess so. Let’s see if he’s a better human being than Kim Davis was when she was a Democrat holding that office. It would be hard to be worse.
Since this is topical once again, I moved it forward from its original April 30th publication and added an addendum to the end discussing current events. If I had perfect knowledge of future events before they happened, like a god, I would have held off posting this and Homophobia in Denial until now.
On The Other Hand, If god is really what people say he is, he could have fixed this problem as well as the slavery problem in advance by giving detailed instructions to the people who wrote his books; rather than letting them write down their own customs and fears as if they were instructions from him. But then I was going to leave that specific discussion to Jim over at Stonekettle Station. I’m trying to stick to the legality of the issue at hand here.
It slipped my mind that I was actually being topical with my piece Homophobia in Denial, that the SCOTUS was going to be debating the legality of marriage being broadened to include two people of the same sex. Given the contents of that piece, it should be pretty obvious that I have no problem with two people of the same sex getting married.
I actually go a bit farther than just not having a problem with that. I really don’t see the point in marriage in the first place, as far as being separated from other business contracts.
I know, I know, I’m a soulless bastard that has no emotions. Trust me, I’ve heard that a few times. Still, I have to wonder why marriage is different than any other joint partnership? Why are there special rules for this business arrangement that are completely different from all the others?
The Wife and I have a prenuptial agreement that involves a rather grisly death if either of us strays, sexually. I know that I wouldn’t have to make that deal with a business partner. But I also know that we are complete weirdos and discuss every point of an agreement before we enter into them. This is true with everything we purchase, not just with the agreement that started our relationship.
Most people don’t even know what their partner wants in the case of medical incapacity. We’ve discussed so many different scenarios that I’d be hard pressed to name an event we haven’t discussed and what her wishes would be. Without that level of discussion, marriage is just a business arrangement, with no more emotional investment than the subject of which TV to buy. Fully half of the people who get married will stay married less than 5 years. The first TV they buy as a couple will still be working when the divorce is settled.
That is not a sacrament, that is an agreement made on an emotional whim. A moment of sexual lust, lost as soon as the dopamine receptors become habituated to the reward.
Given that marriage is expected before sexual gratification is achieved because of religious teachings, who is to blame for its being entered into so lightly? Not the government, which is tasked with simply keeping track of the business agreements made in its jurisdiction. That blame rests solely on the shoulders of religious leaders who push the agenda of sexual abstinence (which is in reality a perversion) onto our unsuspecting children. The selfsame leaders who are now leading the charge against so-called gay marriage.
I’d like to offer the counter-argument that gay marriage is actually better than heterosexual marriage. How is that possible, you ask? Because homosexuals who want to get married have at least thought about what marriage means. Have at least talked to their partner about future plans. Want to tie each other together in a binding relationship that means more than a few months of hot sex. They at least understand that marriage should be a lifetime commitment, not something entered into because they have to do it before sexual gratification occurs.
The real sacrament, if there is one at all, is the gay marriage; because they’re making a pledge with the full knowledge of what that pledge means, not blinded by the passion of unfulfilled lust.
As for how to address those naysayers out there who think that marriage is some holy union too good for homosexuals to share in, I’ll leave that to Stonekettle. He does a much better job of taking them apart than I ever could.
You are the very absolutists, the very religious fanatics, this country was designed to protect its citizens from.
About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce, according to data from Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist
Among the many facts in the article is the notation that the less educated, more traditionalist male-lead households still suffer from divorce rates at the previous high levels. So it is a myth for every group outside of traditional christian households lead by a male breadwinner.
It is also worth noting that the progressive changes of the 70’s persist today. The feminist revolution, the achievement of reproductive rights for women, and the more relaxed attitudes towards living together before marriage have lead to reduced rates of divorce, with women holding an equal place in modern society alongside men. This comes as no surprise to me, that women being formally allowed to now pick their mates instead of being prizes handed out by their fathers has lead to fewer bad marriages.
Fewer people marry these days. That statistic has also lead to a reduction in divorce. Can’t get divorced if you never marry.
The point that is made statistically in the article is synonymous with the point I made in this blog post; that marriage has already changed and will continue to change. That escaping from the confines of christian dogma has been a positive change in US society. That testing a relationship with co-habitation before actually getting married is a very good idea.
The Wife hates that I compare marriage to a business arrangement. She has always hated that comparison when I have made it. I’m sure most romantics of both sexes hate the very notion that marriage is anything like a business deal. Their rejection of this observation doesn’t actually change the reality of the situation. That there are financial concerns that have to be addressed when contemplating any union. That marriage is desirable to homosexuals because it fixes problems with custody of children, inheritance and survivor’s benefits. These are largely financial calculations, and marriage exists to address them. Not because of love. The notion of romantic marriage was an unrealized ideal before the 1970’s. That is the hard-nosed fact about marriage that romantics ignore.
When seen in that light as opposed to the notion of fee for sex being the business arrangement (you dirty-minded people. I wasn’t even thinking of it that way) it becomes understandable that the largest concerns in any marriage are financial. If you fail to discuss these issues before tying the knot, you will regret it later.
The Supreme Court has long held that laws that discriminate based on sex must be presumed unconstitutional and invalidated unless the government can prove that they can pass rigorous, heightened judicial scrutiny. Relying on that doctrine would answer the crucial question why the Court was deciding the same-sex marriage question at all. The sex discrimination shifts the burden of proof to the state, and the state hasn’t met that burden. The argument is clear and based on decades-old precedent. An amicus brief I coauthored developed this claim, and Chief Justice Roberts raised it when the case was argued.
But any vehicle that gets you where you want to go is better than no vehicle at all.
No need to repeal DOMA now. That act has been rendered invalid with the decision handed down last week. We still need to repeal RFRA and apologize to religious minorities and the non-religious for ever passing it in the first place. Still hoping for a congress that is more useful and less obstructionist than it has been for as long as I can remember now.
The American Bar Association designed the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to define ethical duties of attorneys. State Supreme Courts have adopted versions of the Model Rules as binding upon attorneys who practice law in their jurisdictions. Attorneys are not free to ignore them–compliance is conditioned upon being licensed to practice law–and failure to obey could result in disbarment.
Disbarring them for ethical violations (Cruz’s behavior on several subject warrants this, not just this one) would be a supreme irony, considering the arguments that they are making.
Not to put too fine a point on it but the guy wasn’t born a US citizen and his social security record will probably show that. How do I know this? Because I wasn’t born a US citizen:
…and if the US government can pretend that I wasn’t a US citizen for several years, and if the birthers still can’t be convinced that Obama is a US citizen, then I’d really like to know what portion of the population will accept that Ted Cruz, born in Canada to a US mother and a Cuban father is a US citizen? No really, I want to know what fraction of the population will accept this Zodiac Killer lookalike as their president?
Fine, fine. He can claim citizenship, I get that. His mother is an American and children born to Americans can claim citizenship if they want to do that. I was born to two Americans and the government still pretended that I wasn’t a citizen when I flew into the country at six months of age on my mother’s American passport. Look, I’m willing to share the territorial boundaries of the United States with him, no problem. I’m mostly wishing he’d stop pretending he’s a Texan, because a half-Cuban Canuck that has two college degrees cannot be a native Texan. My left nut is more Texan than he is. The religious right here in Texas like him though, so I’m stuck with him as a Senator from my home state even though he’s the worst mannered Canuck I’ve ever run across.
Sarah H. Duggin, a professor of law at Catholic University, has written about and studied the issue extensively. She told us in 2008 that the question of natural born citizenship is “one of the most deceptively simple, complex issues.”
We reached her again this week to ask about Cruz’s eligibility. “It would be reasonable to interpret the Constitution’s natural born citizenship provision to include children born abroad to U.S. citizens, including Senator Cruz, for a number of reasons,” she said.
But is it 100 percent sure?
“Unfortunately, we cannot say for sure without either a definitive Supreme Court ruling, or an amendment to clarify the Constitution.”
What I’d like is for the SCOTUS to rule on this subject before we accept that this man is eligible to run for President. It’s a reasonable request, and I suggest that someone get started on this now, because I’d really hate to have to still be pointing this fact out come 2016.
The fun part of all of this will be listening to Obama birthers explain why their man Ted is different than Obama. Where is Ted Cruz’s birth certificate? His naturalization papers? How, exactly did he become a US citizen so easily, when (as I’ve pointed out in the linked article above) it took me years to get the government to admit I was a citizen, even when I had two parents who were both from the US?
No, I’m not kidding. I want an explanation before I accept that the man can even run for President. He is a US citizen because of his mother’s citizenship if he wants to claim US citizenship. US law, if not clear, is pretty definitive on that point. That in no way means that the Constitution allows that either of us, born in similar situations, can serve as President. That is up to the SCOTUS to decide.
Once that question is answered, then we can get to the even bigger question; Does Ted Cruz have the mental capability to serve as President of the United States and not manage to start World War 3 within a few minutes of taking the oath? I actually think that question is marginally more important.
Now, I’m sorry Google, but American is not a nationality. A Brazilian native is also an American. American is a hemispherical status, not a national status. Ted Cruz’s nationality is actually in question here. He was born a Canadian. From his father he might have had the right to claim citizenship in Cuba. He definitely would be granted citizenship in the US from his mother’s citizenship, if he applied.
But that nationality would be United States or US, not American. This is easily demonstrable by a search of countries. There is no country called America.
I get it that we refer to ourselves colloquially as Americans. This is a lot like Germans thinking of themselves as Deutsche, Germany as Deutschland. However, everyone who lives in the Americas is American, they just don’t happen to be citizens of the United States. Nationality is United States or US, like German nationality is DE.
There are those who can imagine Ted Cruz being elected president – or at least being the 2016 Republican nominee – and those who cannot and will not allow themselves to contemplate that possibility. I am among the former, in part because every prediction of Cruz’s imminent political self-immolation so far has proved wrong, and because of how unhinged Cruz deniers tend to get in their denials.
Look, I get it. He won once, he can win again (not against Hillary) What I’d like to establish is baseline credentials for being able to do the job. First on that list is eligibility. I don’t think he even passes that test; which doesn’t even begin to address the far more important fact that he’s not a real person, or as the Statesman article goes on to note:
Cruz is testing the proposition whether, amid the rise of the tea party movement, there may be longing in the conservative movement for a return to its roughest theocratic and insurrectionary edges, albeit as brought to you to by a Princeton/Harvard anti-intellectual intellectual.
The guy has two degrees. He’s not stupid. The jury is still out on his sanity, so I can’t say if he’s crazy. But the concept of an anti-intellectual intellectual is fake. It is a pose, a hypocrisy, a false piety. There isn’t any way he can keep up the image of borderline wacko for the next two years.
You also might want to take a look at tedcruz.com if you think this guy is serious about winning the election. That’s some quality planning showing, right there. If you can’t even get the pre-candidacy resources in place before announcing, your ability to run the far more complex machine we call the US government will be (and should be) the highest concern of any voter.
It won’t be, but it should be.
Come on I hear you saying, he can’t be that bad, can he?
If you think that, then in my opinion you haven’t been playing enough attention. Ted Cruz is the guy who convinced the House of Representatives to shutdown the government in 2013. If he had gotten his way, the government would still be shut down, which means it probably would have collapsed and been replaced by some other system of government (that’s what happens when you create a power vacuum. Other systems emerge to take the previous one’s place) probably one not based on such arbitrary notions as representational democracy.
Some of you would probably be fine with that. You people scare me.
Here’s some more food for thought. After his announcement (at the religious college where the students were compelled to attend) several people spoke out concerning his unsuitability to be President, including California Governor Jerry Brown who said he was “absolutely unfit to be running for office.”
I’m a bit of a science geek. Have been one all my life. The stunning lack of scientific understanding evident in that statement should give anyone pause to wonder what this guy is doing in government at all, much less running for President.
Why you ask? Let me explain it to you.
First off, it was Eratosthenes of Cyrene who calculated the circumference of the earth, a couple of hundred years before the birth of Christ, or Before the Common Era (BCE) as it is noted these days. So, while the myth goes that people thought the world was flat, most people have not thought so for a very, very long time. It is the modern era that has seen the creation of the Flat Earth Society, a tribute to the stupidity we humans can descend to when divorced from the natural world by layers of technology, and reliance on ancient texts, for our knowledge.
Secondly, Galileo Galilei promoted the idea of a heliocentric system, as theorized by Nicolaus Copernicus more than a hundred years earlier, and was jailed by the then Ted Cruz’s of the world at the time (the Roman Catholic Church) for daring to contradict scriptural doctrine. The church finally apologized for this indignity in 1992 when Pope John Paul II admitted the church acted in error.
It only took 300 years. Not an inspiring observation. Ted Cruz is displaying some Sarah Palin level savvy on the subject of reality. Also not very inspiring. Or to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen:
This Forbes article goes into just how wrong Cruz is, when it comes to global warming. Yes, the same Forbes that is solidly pro-business:
“The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA ’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies.”
Ted Cruz never made it out of the primary for the presidential race. He was almost defeated by an unknown Democratic opponent named Beto O’Rourke for his own Senate seat in 2018. Donald Trump became President instead. The country has gone mad in the subsequent four years, and Ted Cruz helped Donald Trump attempt a coup in Washington D.C. this week (January 6, 2021) during the counting of the electoral college votes that handed the presidency to Joe Biden. Hold onto your butts. Hope we’re all still here in two weeks for the inauguration.