Right wing religious extremists in the US continue their incredible movement to ignore our Constitution’s separation of church and state to push hate agendas throughout various states in the country. The hate was front and center in Indiana as Governor Mike Pence signed a bill that basically labels bigotry as “religious freedom.” We continue to see Jim Crow type laws established so bigot business owners can openly refuse service to GLBT Americans.
The Indiana bill is part of a wave of recent legislation seeking to guarantee “religious freedom” on the part of organizations or businesses who want to retain the right to discriminate against gay people. While the advocates usually posit a baker who doesn’t want to have to take business from a gay couple seeking a wedding cake as the person the law would protect, the laws are often written so vaguely that they would allow almost any kind of discrimination, so long as the discriminator justifies it on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The bill in Indiana doesn’t mention words like “gay” at all. It merely says that the government can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” And a key element of the conservative Christian argument about religious freedom is that “exercise” of religion isn’t just about rituals and prayer and worship; it extends to everything, including commerce.
The implications are therefore enormous. Forget about the baker — what if you own a restaurant and think homosexuality is an abomination, and therefore you want to hang a “No gays allowed” sign in your window? Under this law, you’d be able to. Or what if you’re a Muslim who owns an auto repair shop, and you want to refuse to serve women, because you say your religion tells you that women shouldn’t drive?
Those kinds of concerns are what led former governor Jan Brewer to veto a similar bill in Arizona, after she got all kinds of pressure from the state’s business community, which feared boycotts of the state. That same pressure has been building in Indiana, though it doesn’t seem to have moved Governor Pence.
The more news this Indiana law gets, the more likely it is that it will become an issue in the presidential primaries. And it fits neatly within the key divide among Republicans: on one side you could have business groups that are nervous about negative economic impacts and strategists who don’t want the GOP to be known as the party of discrimination, while on the other side you have candidates eager for the votes of religious right primary voters.
Pence signed the bill in private and against the outcry of many in the business community who are now pulling business from the state. This is from the Indianapolis Star. This includes a video of his statement and a presser with Q&A.
The nation’s latest legislative battle over religious freedom and gay rights came to a close Thursday when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a controversial “religious freedom” bill into law.
His action followed two days of intense pressure from opponents — including technology company executives and convention organizers — who fear the measure could allow discrimination, particularly against gays and lesbians.
Pence and leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly called those concerns a “misunderstanding.”
“This bill is not about discrimination,” Pence said, “and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”
Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.
Although the bill does not mention sexual orientation, opponents fear it could allow business owners to deny services to gays and lesbians for religious reasons.
Pence signed the bill during a private ceremony in his Statehouse office just before 10 a.m. Thursday. He was joined by supportive lawmakers, Franciscan monks and nuns, orthodox Jews, and some of the state’s most powerful lobbyists on conservative social issues.
The event was closed to the public and the press.
The CEO of major U.S. corporation is following through on his warning to the State of Indiana to not pass a discriminatory “religious freedom” bill.
Salesforce, founded in 1999, has grown into a $4 billion software corporation. It is a component of the prestigious S&P 500, and boasts 12,000 employees.
50-year old CEO, founder, and chairman Marc Benioff (photo), who started the company in San Francisco, and his wife Lynne Krilich, have given millions to children’s hospitals.
Recently, Salesforce came out strongly against Indiana’s discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We have been an active member of the Indiana business community and a key job creator for more than a decade,” Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud division, wrote in a letter to Indiana lawmakers. “Our success is fundamentally based on our ability to attract and retain the best and most diverse pool of highly skilled employees, regardless of gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”
“Without an open business environment that welcomes all residents and visitors,” he warned, “Salesforce will be unable to continue building on its tradition of marketing innovation in Indianapolis.”
Already, the gamer convention Gen Con and the Disciples of Christ church group had threatened to pull their conventions out of Indianapolis. Tech giant Salesforce said it would halt its plans to expand in the state, too.
The NCAA had hinted for days that the bill — which has the effect of allowing businesses to challenge local laws that forbid discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation in court — could damage the city’s reputation as a host of major sporting events.
Jason Collins, who last year became the first openly gay active NBA player, asked Pence in a tweet whether it is “going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come” to the Final Four.
Still, Pence signed the bill in his office Thursday. In a statement explaining his decision, he pointed to President Barack Obama’s health care law — which triggered a lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to ensure the company wasn’t required to cover birth control through its employees’ health insurance plans.
Of course, the War on Women continues too with the Republican’s whackadoodle religious right taking the lead. Arizona proves its once again the place where medical science can be damned when it gets in the way of fetus fever.
Doctors in Arizona might soon be required to tell women that abortions can be “reversed.” As the Washington Post reports, the Arizona legislature just passed a bill that is the latest in state-based attempts to ban women from using their own health insurance to pay for abortion. What makes this bill especially Orwellian is this attempt to force doctors to put the stamp of medical authority on the fantastical belief that women en masse are regretting their abortions hours after getting them and are miraculously getting them reversed through heroic interventions by Christian doctors.
I reported on this fantasy back in December, but to recap: Anti-choicers, backed by one particularly vocal doctor named George Delgado, are claiming that you can “reverse” medication abortions. A woman having a medication abortion takes two pill doses, one of mifepristone and then another of misoprostol. Proponents of “abortion reversal” would like you to believe it’s common for women to take the first dose and become wracked with guilt, desperate to save her pregnancy. To help these women, Delgado gives the woman progesterone shots, supposedly in an effort to reverse the effects of the mifepristone.
The problem is it’s almost certainly quackery. Mifepristone is not enough on its own to terminate a pregnancy some of the time, so you’re not “reversing” the abortion so much as interrupting the process before it’s complete. The progesterone shots reverse nothing—they are medically unnecessary theater, designed to portray anti-choicers as conquering heroes rescuing pregnant maidens from the clutches of abortionists. There’s no evidence of much demand from women to interrupt their abortions, and in the rare circumstances that someone is seized by regret, all she needs to do is contact her regular doctor about stopping the pills.
Forcing doctors to “inform” patients about an intervention that isn’t medically useful and isn’t really in demand serves no other purpose but to inject anti-choice histrionics into what is already a stressful situation for many patients. You should be able to get through an abortion without having to indulge a right-wing delusion.
I’ve had several friends travelling to Mississippi to defend the last standing abortion clinic there. The Fetus Fanatics have physically attacked the building and are doing all kinds of crazy things there in the name of Operation “Rescue”. So, here’s a little of that homegrown terrorism for you.
A couple nights ago, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last standing abortion clinic in all of Mississippi, was attacked and vandalized by a masked intruder who destroyed security cameras and attempted to cut the power lines.
So I’ll just ice the cake with a little gratuitous Pat Robertson. You remember him, he ran for the Republican presidential nomination and did pretty well back in the 1980s? Ongoing investigations show that the co-pilot most likely downed that German Airliner in a murder/suicide action related to ongoing issues with depression. So, with that in mind … Here’s Patty!!!
Christian televangelist Pat Robertson suggested on Thursday that the co-pilot’s decision to crash Germanwings Flight 9525 could be explained if he was a Muslim.
French prosecutors concluded on Thursday that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had locked the pilot out of the cockpit, and then deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing 150 people.
“What happened to that plane that crashed into the French Alps?” Robertson asked on Thursday’s edition of The 700 Club. “Well, they’ve begun to find out. The pilot went to the lavatory and was soon locked out of the cockpit. He pounded on the door, begging to come in. But the door was not opened.”
“The co-pilot then takes the plane, pushes it into a dive and crashes it. The passengers are screaming as the plane went down. The pilot is yelling.”
“What a terrible tragedy,” the TV preacher continued. “Was that co-pilot a Muslim? Was he suicidal? What was it about him?”
Robertson later allowed for the possibility that Lubitz could have been “just psychotic.”
“What was it?” he wondered. “Why would he want to kill all those people?”
French prosecutor Brice Robin on Thursday described Lubitz as a 28-year-old German who was “not listed as a terrorist.”
Robin told reporters that he did not know Lubitz’s religion or ethnicity, but said, “I don’t think that’s where the answer to this lies.”
I’m still stunned by the murder fantasies of hyper-Christian and Duck seducer/murderer Daddy FuckBucks Robertson who seems to have replaced a smack addiction for talking religious smack.
Phil Robertson, the paterfamilias on A&E’sDuck Dynasty who also frequents the Christian speaking circuit, has stirred up controversy yet again by inventing a bizarre parable in which an atheist family is raped and murdered.
The conservative reality television star has a reputation for sounding off about controversial issues. In 2013, he came under fire for making homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ.This time, his focal point was atheists, whom—he asserted—have no moral compass because they do not believe in God. Here is the graphic story he told, per the audio from Right Wing Watch:
I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
The moral of the tale? “If it happens to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right,’” Robertson said.
Some fundamental Christians, like Robertson, believe that morality is dependent on the existence of God and by rejecting God, atheists also reject morals.
WTF is wrong with these people?!?!?! Dude, nonsociopaths do not have to have imaginary beings threaten them with hell to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is its own reward. We can ask BB, but I’d say the guy has a serious case of projectionitis.
But, here’s a better question … why are we enacting their hateful, bigoted crap into our laws? And, why do these people get a public platform?
There’s way too many of them and way too few lions for my taste.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Small worlds, it is amazing, last week my son had a friend who spent some time in New Orleans…and he came back with tales of “real live drag queens” on Bourbon Street. What do you know…the friend was talking about Dak and her new gig, playing piano for the ladies at Lucky Pierre’s.
What are the chances of that? From Banjoville to Nola…to Bourbon Street to Lucky Pierre’s.
Alright, the links for today are few since I am still very sick with this yuk of a sinus infection. (Thanks to BB for doing my post yesterday.)
Investigators retrieved audio from the cockpit voice recorder in theGermanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday, but rather than explaining why the plane fell out of the sky, killing all 150 people on board, the recording revealed a shocking twist. A senior military official investigating the crash told the New York Times that one pilot is heard leaving the cockpit, then there’s increasingly frantic banging on the door as the Airbus A320 inexplicably begins to descend. Within 10 minutes, the plane dropped from an altitude of 38,000 feet to about 6,000 and crashed into the mountainside – all while one pilot was apparently locked out and the other gave no response. “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.” He added, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”
What makes the report even more bizarre is that there’s no indication of any friction between the pilots up to that point. The investigator said their conversation had been “very smooth, very cool,” throughout the flight. It’s unclear why one pilot left the cockpit, but “what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door,” the official said.
Remi Jouty, spokesman for the French air crash investigations bureau BEA, would only say that they are still analyzing the recording. “It is too early to draw conclusions to what happened,” he said. “There is going to be detailed work performed on that audio file to understand and interpret the sounds and the voices that can be heard.” Debris from the crash was spread across an area of about 5 acres, on a remote mountain range 2,000 meters high.
That is strange, don’t you think?
Some speculation at that Boston Herald link.
With the support of nine mostly Arab countries, Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign in neighboring Yemen on Thursday, where for months Houthi rebels have intensified their violent campaign against the government.
The Houthis, ever defiant, responded by saying they will meet force with force.
Yemen, a longtime stronghold for one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous branches, has been plunged into chaos since the Houthi rebels began seizing control of the capital and other areas of the country in recent months.
For years, Yemen had allowed U.S. drones and special operations forces to stalk AQAP in the country. But the unrest led to the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from Yemen, leaving that arrangement in tatters, along with any semblance of peace in the Middle Eastern nation.
Now for some links to other stories.
“Cosby” is now a “thing,” in that things can get Fukushima’d up.
Think of this as an open thread.
I just found out that JJ isn’t feeling well enough to do a post this morning, so I’m filling in. I have things to do this afternoon, so this will have to be a very quick link dump.
Personally, I have Spring Fever! It has been sunny and not so cold here for the past few days and I’m loving it. We still have piles of snow, but they are shrinking steadily. I think March is going to go out with like lamb here in Boston. AND . . . soon it will be staying light here until almost 7PM. Isn’t Spring great?
Latest Ted Cruz Reactions
The Week: Ted Cruz isn’t really running for president.
Ted Cruz is running for president. Or at least that’s officially what’s happening, according to his FEC filings. But if you actually listen to him, it seems like he is running for something else.
Cruz’s announcement speech at Liberty University was less like a first step toward the Oval Office, than the latest of many steps he has taken to becoming the political leader of the conservative movement. This is distinct from being the nominee of the Grand Old Party, of which that movement is just a devoted part.
There is nothing about Cruz that appeals to people beyond his political sect. The one rhetorical move independents and Democrats may relate to in Cruz’s speech was the tribute to his mother as a glass ceiling–smashing computer programmer. But otherwise his mode of speech is much like Mike Huckabee’s: sentimental, broadly evangelical, and reliant on personal charisma. Although it isn’t easy to pinpoint what about a candidate’s personality rubs a larger demographic cohort the wrong way, Huckabeefared terribly among non-rural, non-Evangelical voters in 2008. Cruz may be headed for the same fate.
Consider Cruz’s overt sense of personal destiny. He makes Mitt Romney seem positively shy. Cruz’s speech implicitly compared Ted Cruz to Patrick Henry, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.
“I may owe Mitt Romney an apology,” Jon Stewart said on Monday’s “Daily Show,” after learning that Cruz and his wife actually practiced waving and kissing before the announcement. “Even the Mitt Romneytron 3000 didn’t have to rehearse waving and kissing,” he continued.
If you were wondering why so many of the students in the audience looked bored out of their minds (and why one girl was even wearing a Rand t-shirt): It’s because the conservative Christian university required students to attend the Ted Cruz announcement as part of their weekly convocation. No word on whether the university also required students to text “constitution” to an undisclosed number, as per Cruz’s orders.
“Let me clarify this a little bit: Students at Liberty University were required to attend a partisan political speech where a small-government conservative who had just promised he would respect privacy rights, told them if they cared about freedom, text your information to a mysterious address that collects your cell phone number for undisclosed purposes,” Stewart said.
More good stuff in the video (see link). Can you believe Cruz and his wife practiced kissing before the event?
Washington Post: Ted Cruz’s phenomenally bad idea.
Sen. Ted Cruz says he wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service. This is a phenomenally bad idea, one so obviously wrongheaded it’s hard to believe he really means it….
This is not the first time Cruz has proposed this. He pitched it on Facebooktwo years ago and in multiple interviews since, even calling it the “single most important tax reform” and priority “No. 2” (after repealing Obamacare) in recent talks. The fact that he might make ending the IRS a centerpiece of a presidential campaign, though, is singularly scary, particularly given Republicans’ demonstrated appetite for cutting the agency’s funding to the bone and beyond….
Well, sorry to say it, but someone has to collect the money that keeps our government up and running, funding everything from Medicare to the military. The IRS is a cash-flow-positive agency, collecting an estimated$255 for every $1 appropriated to it, and dumping it would vastly widen existing government deficits. This is something fiscal conservatives, Cruz included, presumably already know. Yet the view that the IRS’s budget should be minimized, and perhaps zeroed out entirely, is peculiarly popular on the right.
Read more at the WaPo.
Some satire from Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker: President Signs Order Making Ted Cruz Ineligible for Obamacare.
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Just hours after Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN that he had no choice but to sign up for Obamacare, President Barack Obama signed an executive order making Cruz ineligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
“Clearly, the hardship of receiving Obamacare was causing Ted a great deal of pain,” the President said. “This should take care of that.”
Obama acknowledged that the executive order, which makes Cruz the only American expressly forbidden from signing up for Obamacare, was an extraordinary measure, but added, “I felt it was a necessary humanitarian gesture to protect Ted from the law he hates.”
Germanwings Plane Crash
New York Times: Details Emerging of Passengers Aboard Crashed Germanwings Jet.
According to the airline, at least 67 Germans, including two infants, were on the Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday on its way to Düsseldorf,Germany, from Barcelona, Spain. Many Spaniards were also aboard. The passengers included two opera singers, as well as a class of 16 German high school students returning from a study program near Barcelona, along with their two teachers.
Germanwings was working to notify families before releasing further information about the 144 passengers and six crew members who were on the plane. But some countries whose citizens were aboard began to confirm their identities, and details also emerged from other sources.
Also from the Times: Challenges Weigh Heavily on Recovery Efforts in Crash of Germanwings Jet.
Read all about it at the paper of record.
Iran and Israel News
Jerusalem Post: US Democrats say Israel’s efforts on Iran are backfiring.
Following months of intensified calls by Israel to block any deals with Iran, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress, members of the US senate say that theiropinions on a nuclear deal with Iran have not budged.
Read the responses from Senators at the link.
Speaker John Boehner said he was “shocked” by a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday morning that said the Israelis were spying on negotiations by the U.S. and other world powers to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.
“I read that story this morning, and frankly, I was a bit shocked because there’s no information revealed to me whatsoever,” Boehner, a Republican from Ohio told reporters Tuesday morning. He added, “I was shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the Israelis to members of Congress. I’m not aware of that at all.”
He probably had a few too many before the meeting at which the leaks were discussed.
If all goes according to plan, U.S. officials will return home from here next week declaring they have reached a historic agreement that will restrict Iran’s nuclear program forever.
Iranian officials will be in Tehran triumphantly explaining that they have secured a deal that will free Iran in a few years to pursue its nuclear program just like any other country.
Major international agreements usually require both sides to acknowledge they’ve given ground. Because of the brutal politics of the nuclear issue, however, neither side has much room to acknowledge compromise.
As a result, over the next few months, U.S. and Iranian officials are likely to be making starkly contradictory cases about the deal they have reached, both seeking to sell it at home.
Inside windowless negotiating rooms here, “we can talk about looking for a middle ground,” said a European diplomat said, who declined to be identified discussing the sensitive negotiations.
“Outside in the light, it’s harder.”
GOP Clown Car
Aren’t GOP presidential politics just great? You wake up one morning and suddenly Jeb Bush is the “anti-Israel candidate” in the Republican presidential primary field.How did this happen? Last we checked, Jeb Bush loved the dickens out of Israel. He’s been very clear about his deep affection for any and everything that (the right wing of) Israel does. “Governor Bush’s support for Israel and its Prime Minister is clear,” Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy Campbell said Monday night. This is perfectly in line with his support for the dumb Tom Cotton letter, and his insistence that the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran is “bad” and should be rejected because Israel. Et cetera et cetera, SO ON, AND SO ON. Jeb Bush has no interest in straying from the prevailing party line on Israel, which is that American foreign policy should be conducted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But why, pray tell, was Kristy Campbell issuing this reassurance of Jeb Bush’s deep, unwavering, total love for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel late on a Monday night? Because James Baker, the former White House chief of staff, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of State under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., had just addressed the annual J Street conference.
J Street is the advocacy group founded as a more liberal counterpart to AIPAC. It is critical of the Israeli right wing and does not see it as helping the prospects for peace in the Middle East. So naturally conservatives see J Street as a radical extremist left-wing terrorist organization in bed with the mullahs of Iran and hellbent on securing the total annihilation of Israel. (The views of American Jews at large, meanwhile, tend to align with J Street’s.)
Fascinating. I actually don’t think Jeb has a serious chance for the nomination. For one thing, he has zero charisma. He comes across as stuffy and boring.
“Have you ever fibbed on the air?” Letterman asked the Factor host.
“Fibbed? Not that I know of,” O’Reilly responded. “What I do is analysis — different from what other people do. So I bioviate and give my opinion, as you well know. But it’s not worth it for me to do that.”
Letterman countered that there was a common factor linking O’Reilly’s editorializing and NBC’s Brian Williams’ position as a network anchor.
“Trust is the residue of both positions,” the Late Showhost said. “People must trust you to the same degree. They might disagree with you, but they must trust you, the same way they trust Brian Williams.”
Fibbed? No, but he’s told hundreds of bald faced lies; and Fox viewers trust him because they can’t tell the difference between reality and propaganda.
Sarah Palin is using recent scandals to apparently push for the dismantling of the Veterans Administration.
The federal agency has been rocked in recent months by scandals – including the deaths of at least 40 veterans awaiting care at facilities in Arizona — that resulted in a shakeup of its top leadership.
New VA Secretary Robert McDonald was recently forced to apologize after misstating his military service record while speaking to a veteran during a photo opportunity, which Palin said called his character into question.
Palin cited these and other incidents in a Facebook video posted Tuesday evening as justification to “clean house” at the VA and “fire bad employees like we do out in the private sector.”
“It’s time to reform the VA so thoroughly that vets don’t have to depend on it for their basic needs,” Palin said.
That’s about as good an idea as Ted Cruz’s proposal to abolish the IRS.
So . . . . What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your early Spring Wednesday.
Get your barf bags ready before you read the new “interview” with George Zimmerman. I put that word in quotes, because the so-called “interview” was with Zimmerman’s divorce lawyer Howard Iken, not an objective journalist who might have asked uncomfortable questions. I couldn’t bring myself to read the whole thing, but you can do so at the Ayo and Iken website. You can also watch the video if you can stomach it. I did read a couple of press reports:
The Orlando Sentinel reported, George Zimmerman: President Obama amped up racial tension against me.
In his first public comments since the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute him for violating Trayvon Martin‘s civil rights, George Zimmerman says he was victimized by President Obama….
In it, he faulted the media for portraying him as a racist and the criminal justice system for bringing him to trial but saved his harshest criticism for Obama, whom he accused of trying to prosecute “an innocent American.”
“For him to make incendiary comments as he did and direct the Department of Justice to pursue a baseless prosecution, he by far over-stretched, over-reached,” Zimmerman said.
The president, whom he referred to as “Barack Hussein Obama,” should have told the public, ” ‘Let’s not rush to judgment,’ ” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman told his attorney that he doesn’t feel guilty about killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed and walking to his father’s home after buying skittles and iced tea at a local convenience store.
He said he’s convinced there’s nothing he could have done differently that would have allowed both him and Trayvon to survive their confrontation that night.
“In all fairness, you cannot as a human feel guilty for living, for surviving,” he said.
Talking Points Memo: George Zimmerman Compares Himself To Anne Frank, Says Obama Victimized Him.
“I believe that God does everything for a purpose, and he had his plans and for me to second guess them would be hypocritical and almost blasphemous,” Zimmerman said. “Had I have had a fraction of a thought that I could have done something differently, acted differently so that both of us would’ve survived then I would have heavier weight on my shoulders.”
His lawyer, Howard Iken, asked him whether he was the same man he was five years ago.
“Absolutely not,” Zimmerman said. “I have to have my guard up significantly. … I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”
Apparently “God” actually wanted Trayvon dead and Zimmerman just happened to be the medium for “God’s” handiwork. Because, you know, “God” is a racist who hates black teenagers….
Don’t put away that barf bag just yet. The next topic is Ted Cruz’ announcement yesterday that he’s running for president. Cruz made the big announcement at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Jerry Falwell. You can read the full transcript at Time Magazine. Cruze praised the “christian” college profusely, but please note that Cruz himself chose to get his education at Princeton and Harvard.
Cruz led off the speech with a lengthy and sentimental description of his and his wife’s family history. Then he launched into his dream for the future of America.
I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America: 240 years ago on this very day, a 38-year-old lawyer named Patrick Henry stood up just a hundred miles from here in Richmond, Virginia, and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison “we demand our liberty.”
Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.
Today millions of young people are scared, worried about the future, worried about what the future will hold. Imagine millions of young people coming together and standing together, saying “we will stand for liberty.”
That’s not too specific, but I’m pretty sure that by “liberty” Cruz means taking away freedom of choice from women, taking away health care from millions of Americans, blocking immigration reform, and increasing income inequality through tax cuts and removal of government regulations that protect the environment and the health and safety of workers.
Cruz went on to provide some specifics:
Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law. Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law. Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.
Imagine health care reform that keeps government out of the way between you and your doctor and that makes health insurance personal and portable and affordable.
Yes, you’ll just have to imagine that, because you won’t get it with a Republican president.
Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends met, imagine a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.
Imagine abolishing the IRS.
So taxes would get paid on the honor system? And with a flat tax, the burden would fall mostly on lower wage earners. Again, it’s about “freedom” for the rich and the rest of us can pay for it.
Women and LGBT people can forget about their freedom under a Ted Cruz presidency.
Instead of a federal government that wages an assault on our religious liberty, that goes after Hobby Lobby, that goes after the Little Sisters of the Poor, that goes after Liberty University, imagine a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American.
Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.
There’s much more of Cruz’s “freedom” talk at the link.
Some reactions to the speech:
Think Progress: Ted Cruz Just Laid Out The Most Anti-Woman Agenda Yet.
FactCheck.org: FactChecking Ted Cruz
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to be getting close to announcing her own run for president. Yesterday she had a private meeting with President Obama.
From Politico: Hillary Clinton meets Barack Obama at the White House.
Clinton was in Washington for an event about the future of urban policy hosted by the Center for American Progress in the morning and the presentation of the Toner Award at a dinner in the evening.
In between, the all-but-declared Democratic presidential candidate swung by to see her old boss in the building she’s hoping to move into.
The White House wouldn’t comment about whether a meeting was going to happen earlier in the day, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed afterward that it had happened — though he provided few details.
“President Obama and Secretary Clinton enjoy catching up in person when their schedules permit,” Earnest said. “This afternoon they met privately for about an hour at the White House and discussed a range of topics.”
I wonder if they talked about Clinton’s announcement and what Obama would do to back her up?
Also at Politico, Gabriel DeBenedetti wrote that Clinton and other Democrats are thrilled that Ted Cruz will be running for the GOP nomination.
Democrats from both inside and outside the Clinton camp have groused for months that the all-but-certain candidate was moving too slowly in formulating and projecting a rationale for running for the White House outside of her gender and the dreaded “it’s my time” argument. She was relying too much on a platform of inevitability, they said — the same platform that doomed her bid in 2008. But those closest to the former secretary of state have counseled patience, arguing that a core element of Clinton’s plan was to get out of the way and let the dueling wings of the Republican Party savage each other while she floats above it all.
Cruz, they say, is Hillary’s wrecking ball.
People close to Clinton smiled at the sight of the first-term senator wandering alone on stage at Liberty University, implicitly threatening a civil war with the “mushy” establishment of his party that he loves to decry — while at the exact same time Clinton sat comfortably alongside heavyweights from her own party’s progressive and labor elements, who have thus far entirely declined to challenge her.
Meanwhile the clamoring of some liberal groups to recruit Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive darling, was entirely unheard in downtown Washington as Clinton spent her morning discussing domestic policy at the headquarters of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank run by her allies. The presumptive Democratic front-runner sat near a pair of union bosses and current and former urban mayors, making sure to throw in some love for liberal hero Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, as she previewed pieces of her likely domestic policy platform.
She touched all corners of the Democratic Party in the morning performance before meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House and speaking at an award ceremony for political reporters in the evening, dogged only by barbs from her Republican critics.
So for Clinton, Monday was smooth sailing. For Republicans, her camp figures, it signaled the beginning of a wild and messy primary contest that will let Clinton appear to be the adult in the room before she takes on a bloodied GOP nominee.
Could the GOP clown car be even more packed with loonies in 2016 than it was in 2012?
What are you hearing? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great day.
NOTE: The paintings of piano players by Matisse are meant as a tribute to our fearless leader Dakinikat and her new moneymaking enterprise.
I’m going to just give you some links to look at today since I’m probably going to bed to sleep as you’re waking. Such is my life right now. I’ve been trying to keep up with some of the recent political news but frankly, it’s somewhat disturbing and hearkens back to BostonBoomer asking if Republicans are even human beings these days.
The clown car is going to get its first passenger this week and it’s one of the whackiest of the whackadoodles. Dominionist and ego-maniacal fruit cake Texas Senator Ted Cruz is set to kick off with some kind of announcement. You may notice that I have an interesting set of vintage photos up today. These are haunting imagines of the residents of historical bedlams. It reminds me that some times the most dangerous people are not the ones we lock up.
Sen. Ted Cruz plans to announce Monday that he will run for president of the United States, accelerating his already rapid three-year rise from a tea party insurgent in Texas into a divisive political force in Washington.
Cruz will launch a presidential bid outright rather than form an exploratory committee, said senior advisers with direct knowledge of his plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made yet. They say he is done exploring and is now ready to become the first Republican presidential candidate.
The senator is scheduled to speak Monday at a convocation ceremony at Liberty University in Virginia, where he is expected to declare his campaign for the presidency.
Over the course of the primary campaign, Cruz will aim to raise between $40 million and $50 million, according to advisers, and dominate with the same tea party voters who supported his underdog Senate campaign in 2012. But the key to victory, Cruz advisers believe, is to be the second choice of enough voters in the party’s libertarian and social conservative wings to cobble together a coalition to defeat the chosen candidate of the Republican establishment.
The firebrand Texan may have few Senate colleagues who will back his White House bid, but his appeal to his party’s base who vote disproportionately in Republican primaries could make him competitive in Iowa and beyond.
We’ve said this here before, but Ted Cruz and his brand of Dominionism is a dangerous extremist movement that hopefully will be placed in the air and sunshine for all to see. This article by Chris Hedges reminds us of exactly how deluded these folks can be. BB has done extensive research on the Dominionist movement and its Washington DC insider cult of the “Brotherhood”. You can find her writings in our SkyDancing files. However, I’m going to point at the Hedges article as a good description of the crazy Cruzs.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz—whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire ministry—and legions of the senator’s wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism. This ideology calls on anointed “Christian” leaders to take over the state and make the goals and laws of the nation “biblical.” It seeks to reduce government to organizing little more than defense, internal security and the protection of property rights. It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism. The intellectual and moral hollowness of the ideology, its flagrant distortion and misuse of the Bible, the contradictions that abound within it—its leaders champion small government and a large military, as if the military is not part of government—and its laughable pseudoscience are impervious to reason and fact. And that is why the movement is dangerous.
The cult of masculinity, as in all fascist movements, pervades the ideology of the Christian right. The movement uses religion to sanctify military and heroic “virtues,” glorify blind obedience and order over reason and conscience, and pander to the euphoria of collective emotions. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent, that’s why is important to learn symptoms of spiritual awakening, so you know exactly when your psych powers are starting. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and ultimately slaying nonbelievers. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is appealing to the powerless. It stokes the anger of many Americans, mostly white and economically disadvantaged, and encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is fostered by bizarre conspiracy theories, many of which are prominent in the rhetoric of those leading the government shutdown. Believers, especially now, are called to a perpetual state of war with the “secular humanist” state. The march, they believe, is irreversible. Global war, even nuclear war, is the joyful harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms billions of apostates to death.
Dominionists believe they are engaged in an epic battle against the forces of Satan. They live in a binary world of black and white. They feel they are victims, surrounded by sinister groups bent on their destruction. They have anointed themselves as agents of God who alone know God’s will. They sanctify their rage. This rage lies at the center of the ideology. It leaves them sputtering inanities about Barack Obama, his corporate-sponsored health care reform bill, his alleged mandated suicide counseling or “death panels” for seniors under the bill, his supposed secret alliance with radical Muslims, and “creeping socialism.” They see the government bureaucracy as being controlled by “secular humanists” who want to destroy the family and make war against the purity of their belief system. They seek total cultural and political domination.
Between this odd cult and the Opus Dei Catholics–who the church itself considers a cult–we’ve seen some pretty odd policies come to fruition. The GOP’s current budget recommendations are just one example of the absurdity of giving policy making to people who believe in a literal Satan and think some kind of end time is upon us. It’s back to the 19th Century and then some. Please go read the complete essay written by Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir. I’ve skipped the part where he points to the complicity of the Democratic Party which has been essential to this entire debacle.
No period of recorded history made possible the accumulation of so much wealth so quickly, or represented a purer laboratory to experiment with the operations of unfettered and unregulated capitalism. As Marx documented in hair-raising fashion in Chapter 10 of “Capital,” the early 19th century saw industrial wages driven down to the level of bare subsistence, while the advent of gaslight and then electricity stretched the working day deep into the hours of darkness, beyond any limits imagined by the most ruthless feudal aristocrat. (Even the divine right of kings, he observes, could not compel medieval peasants to work after the sun went down.) Profit became the object of stringent mathematical analysis for the first time, and Victorian capitalism learned to maximize profit – or “surplus labor,” the work an employee performs after covering the cost of her own continued existence – with magnificent precision and endless ingenuity.
But there’s more to the allure of the Victorian era, and the renewed class war of the 21st century, than unmitigated greed. Class interests shape ideology, and ideology shapes class interests. I’m inclined to think that the Kochs and their political hobby-horses are not entirely hypocritical, or at least that they genuinely believe the path to renewed American greatness lies in unregulated profit-taking and the political defeat and disempowerment of the working class. All that wealth that was so rapidly created by driving the laboring people of the British Isles into such spectacular misery – by working 7-year-old children 16 hours a day, in numerous documented instances — fueled the rise of a mighty industrial economy, and a globe-spanning empire.
This is where the belligerent foreign-policy stance of Cotton and other Republican radicals, and their naked yearning for war with Iran and an expanded American military presence around the world, dovetails with their Mr. Bumble approach to the ungrateful and undeserving poor. They believe that a nation ruled by the rich – by the very, very rich – is a great and powerful nation, and that in the long run the lower orders will be better off if they do as they’re told. It’s a contradictory blend of macho fantasy, discredited supply-side economics and wishful thinking, which reveals all their rhetoric of fiscal responsibility as utter bullshit (as, in fact, a pretext for class war). But through it all runs a strong current of neo-Victorian and neo-Calvinist morality, and a confused nostalgia for the fixed social hierarchies and uncontested global dominance of the British Empire. Why should we wonder (they ask) at America’s declining superpower status? We have surrendered our moral fiber to minimum-wage laws and environmental regulations and the $121 a month in food-stamp benefits provided to Tom Cotton’s poorest Arkansas constituents.
Big Capital’s mission to remake America through renewed class war is far from complete, and there is no near-term version of reality in which Cotton and Cruz live out their wild fantasies of repealing Obamacare, killing food stamps, privatizing Medicare and Social Security, and all the rest of it. But if I had told you a few years ago that public-sector unions would be eviscerated across a wide swath of the labor-friendly Midwest, that would have sounded outrageous too. Inch by inch, the stealth strategy of the Koch brothers is winning a war that most Americans don’t even recognize as a war, between classes we no longer see as classes. In the greatest victory of all, Marx’s history-making proletariat has been broken down by the scrubbing bubbles of class-war ideology into millions of individual “consumers,” who all happen to have low-wage, non-union jobs in the service sector. Only one side is fighting the class war; the other has been persuaded that no war is even possible, and therefore it must surrender.
Some right-wing outfits contest these numbers and try to make the dubious case that Israel can annex the Palestinian territories and still survive as a democratic Jewish state. Those were the type of voters Netanyahu was fishing for when he said before the election that he would not allow a Palestinian state — and when he warned on election day that “Arab voters are coming out in droves.” But in the end there can be no democratic Jewish state unless there is also a Palestinian state.
My friend Jeffrey Goldberg, in a powerful new article in the Atlantic on the tenuous future of Europe’s Jews, recalled an event he attended in the fall with American Jewish leaders at Vice President Biden’s residence. Biden, Goldberg recalled, told the story of a long-ago visit with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who told him that Israel’s “secret weapon” was that the Jews “have no place else to go.”
“Folks,” Goldberg quoted Biden as saying to the American Jews, “there is no place else to go, and you understand that in your bones. You understand in your bones that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States . . . there’s only one guarantee. There is really only one absolute guarantee, and that’s the state of Israel.”
Goldberg thought Biden had “antiquated notions about Jewish anxiety.” And it’s true that Jews are safe and happy in the United States today — but that could change. This is why I plunged my baby in the mikvah. And this is why I was appalled by Netanyahu’s disavowal of a two-state solution.
Without two states, there won’t be even one Jewish state if — God forbid — my daughter or her progeny someday have no place else to go.
The army closed a mess hall to women and barred a female officer from entering when new recruits of the ultra-Orthodox Nahal battalion were having lunch, the Israel Defense Forces said.
The incident happened at the Tel Hashomer induction base Thursday. The IDF explained the move by saying the army had promised that there would be no women around ultra-Orthodox recruits during their induction.
According to Channel 2 News, the battalion commander, Col. Uri Levi, said he thought most of the battalion’s new recruits were not ultra-Orthodox. “A minority come from ultra-Orthodox homes and some are not observant at all,” he wrote in a letter.
According to a reservist at the base Saturday, about 80 recruits were inducted into the battalion, most of them wearing the knitted skullcap identified with the religious-Zionist movement, which is generally more liberal on social affairs.
The reservist said a female officer who arrived at the mess hall was told she could not enter and eat because of the presence of the ultra-Orthodox recruits.
“If a female officer can’t sit in the mess hall on this day, we’ve gone crazy,” said the reservist, who said he knew ultra-Orthodox society well. “What if a group of settlers said they didn’t want to sit with Arabs or Druze, or that we couldn’t serve with Muslims?”
This is really over-the-top discrimination so as not to offend one small minority group of fundamentalists. How does that work in a democracy?
Islamic State has posted online what it says are the names, U.S. addresses and photos of 100 American military service members, and called upon its “brothers residing in America” to kill them.
The Pentagon said after the information was posted on the Internet that it was investigating the matter. “I can’t confirm the validity of the information, but we are looking into it,” a U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Saturday.
“We always encourage our personnel to exercise appropriate OPSEC (operations security) and force protection procedures,” the official added.
In the posting, a group referring to itself as the “Islamic State Hacking Division” wrote in English that it had hacked several military servers, databases and emails and made public the information on 100 members of the U.S. military so that “lone wolf” attackers can kill them.
The New York Times reported that it did not look like the information had been hacked from U.S. government servers and quoted an unnamed Defense Department official as saying most of the information could be found in public records, residential address search sites and social media.
What sort’ve hornets nest has been whacked that has created a swarm of buzzing, stinging, religious pests? More importantly, why are they in high places in governments? This is truly just one of the disturbing trends of this century. Who would think in an age of science and knowledge that religious fundamentalism and cults would carry so much sway?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?