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Showing posts from April, 2015

We Will Not Obey!

So say Christian leaders, who among other things are asking Justices Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from the final vote on the case to legalize same-sex marriage across the country.  Of course, such brashness has come to be expected from the religious right, who created this situation by pressing for these State Restoration of Religious Freedom Acts across the country.

The funny part is that these religious conservatives regard Justice Ginsburg as biased because she spoke out on the case.  Has Justice Scalia been any less outspoken?  Should he recuse himself as well?

It has been a very raucous proceeding, with most of the justices speaking out at one point or another.  It is pretty clear that Justices Scalia, Alito and Thomas have made up their minds, just as have Kagan and Ginsburg.  This leaves the balance in the hands of Sotomayor, Beyer, Roberts and Kennedy.  I'm guessing the vote abolishing gay marriage bans goes 6-3 with the religious right clamoring for the recal…

Bush "apparently criticized" Obama

So much for the long standing policy of not criticizing the standing President.  George Bush opened up over the weekend as to what he regards as a lapse of foreign policy judgement in regard to Iraq, Iran and all of the Middle Eastern and Central Asian region for that matter.  However, Ari Fleischer was quick to defend his old boss, saying Bush was simply stating his opinion, not criticizing the Obama administration.  Of course, that's not how the media read these juicy quotes leaked by those who attended the "behind-closed-doors" meeting of Republican Jewish Coalition members, which Ari now heads.

The White House didn't seem to take the comments too seriously, saying that the former President was entitled to his opinion, but reminding him of the situation the Obama administration inherited.  Of course this is what the news media had been longing for.   Fox, CNN and other news outlets jumped all over the story, anxious to stir up controversy where apparently none w…

Not my cross to bear

It would appear the Republicans have really boxed themselves into a corner on gay marriage.  Social conservative issues have long been the staple of GOP politics, but with over 60 per cent of Americans now supporting gay marriage, the religious conservative messages no longer resonate beyond their most devoted base.  Yet, here the GOP prospective candidates all were at a tent revival in Iowa, pledging they would take their case against gay marriage to Washington and fight for a constitutional amendment that clearly states what marriage should be.

We've been down this road before.  The Supreme Court overturned the much reviled Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, which guys like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee would like to see restored.   Now, they are praying that the Surpreme Court won't shoot down the hard fought religious freedom acts which have been recently enacted.

At this point, the only opposition to full marriage equality are conservative state governors and legislatures.  T…

Sometimes satire is the best medicine

The President showed quite a bit of humor at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.  His sketch with Luther as his anger translator was probably the highlight of the evening.  Judging by some of the looks in the audience, not everyone found it so funny, but the President eventually let his own "anger" go over climate change, which brought down most of the house.  It seems satire is the best way to go after your critics.  If nothing else it throws your political adversaries off guard.  His little zinger at Michelle Bachmann was perfect.  Anything more and it would have looked like he was actually taking her seriously.

Obama is entering the "fourth quarter" of his administration and feeling "looser than ever."  It shows.  The Republican presidential candidates still see him as a convenient foil, but there will be no overtime.  At some point they will actually have to offer their visions for the presidency, not just run as anti-Obamas.

For a politic…

Meet the Cheneys

It's been three years since Dick Cheney's heart transplant and there seems to be no change in his attitude.  He either got a heart from a very similar person or we just have to accept the fact that a heart is an organ, not the spiritual center of our body.

Of course his family would tell us that the gruff persona he has honed to Darth Vader like perfection is just his public face.  He's actually a pussy cat at home.  I would like to think so, but judging by how his daughter Liz has taken up the very same persona, co-authoring a book slamming Obama for the ungteenth time, one can imagine the conversations at the breakfast table.  They've both been busy promoting this virulent screed on the talk show circuit.  For whatever absurd reason, mainstream media lap it up.

I guess I should make an exception for Mary, who doesn't seem to be cut from the same cloth.  She's been an active proponent of marriage equality.  Still, she sees herself as a "Log Cabin Republi…

Jim Crow raises his ugly head once again

The long ugly battle over the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as US Attorney General has finally drawn to a close with 10 Republicans crossing over in support of Lynch.  Surprisingly, Mitch McConnell himself voted for her confirmation.  Yet, 43 Republican senators stood pat, and one chose to skip the vote for a private fund raiser in Texas.

Of course, Ted Cruz was quick to vent his disgust with the confirmation.  I'm sure this appealed to those gathered at his event in Dallas, but if he wants to win over the nation in his bid for president he better take a few tips from those Republicans who voted for her confirmation, like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.  However, Graham was the only Republican senator with presidential ambitions to vote for Lynch.  Rand Paul and Marco Rubio also voted against her, althoug they weren't so outspoken as Cruz.

While Republicans have gone out of their way to disclaim racial motivations, the sticking point was her support of President Obama's…

Chill, Baby, Chill

The war on pot has reignited again over 420, the day everyone is supposed to share in a universal joint together.  Fox News is at the vanguard, calling in its so-called experts to tell us how dangerous the new strains of marijuana are now that it is legal in a handful of states.  It borders on parody to see guys like Brian Kilmeade and David Murray go ballistic over "skunk," a strain that purportedly is 7 times stronger than that Cheech and Chong smoked in their heyday, with 30 to 40 per cent THC.

For the record, THC typically ranges from one to five per cent by weight in marijuana and five to fifteen per cent in hashish, although it can reach as high as 20 per cent, well below Murray's overblown estimates.  THC is what gives you the high, but at most it temporarily impairs your motor skills, so you are advised not to drive for approximately 3 hours after consumption.  Of course, some doctors have claimed it can lead to long term brain damage if smoked in excessive amou…

Call Me Irresponsible

I understand the campaign season is starting and candidates need to get their names out, but if what we've heard the past month coming out of the GOP tent revival is any indication of what's in store, we are in for one of the worst election years ever.  It is hard to fathom some of the comments, such as prospective presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's call to parents to not have their children join the military, presumably because Obama has made it a "secular" armed forces,

There's nothing more honorable than serving one's country and there's no greater heroes to our country than our military, but I might suggest to parents, I'd wait a couple of years until we get a new commander-in-chief that will once again believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing the country, but defending this country.

The theme of this year's GOP campaign is all about religion, and more specifically the Christian faith, wh…

The future of presidential campaigning?

It seems that every Republican presidential candidate has at least one book to his credit, but coloring books is a medium I wouldn't have imagined.  Leave it to Ted Cruz to mine this territory, hoping to instill his set of values on a generation not far out of diapers, judging by the level of illustrations.  No one could quite believe it when Stephen Colbert mocked the coloring book over a year ago, but it is real and apparently selling quite well.

I made the mistake of looking it up on amazon, and now my screen is filled with similar coloring books, autobiographies and other screeds by today's leading conservatives.  It will probably take a month of surfing other titles before I get my home page cleaned.  Another title that caught my eye was this one, Help Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed! which actually dates back to 2005.  Hence, the outdated image of Ted Kennedy on the cover.

Hillary, however, is very much in vogue and has a new coloring book, thanks to Ulysses Pres…

Marco and Ted's Excellent Adventure

The entrance of Marco Rubio into the GOP race presents a bit of a problem for Ted Cruz, as both are hoping to appeal to Hispanic American voters, not that it matters in the Republican primaries as there are so few registered Republican Hispanics.  The percentage of "non-white" voters among the GOP electorate is only 11 per cent. but I guess they are appealing to those who consider themselves "white of Hispanic origin."

Unfortunately, the two seem to be on the wrong side of most issues that concern Hispanic voters.  Rubio did support immigration reform at one point, but has since backed away from it.  Both have come out sharply opposed to lifting sanctions on Cuba, still appealing to old-guard Cuban-Americans who represent an increasingly smaller percentage of the Hispanic electorate.  However, Cruz and Rubio are hoping to appeal to the social conservatism among a large percentage of Hispanics.   George W. Bush was able to get a whopping 44% of the Hispanic vote in…

Honest Abe and the Press

Manipulating the press is nothing new.  Harold Holzer illustrates that there were few better than "Honest Abe" Lincoln at playing the press for his own personal gain.   Of course, Holzer sees this in a positive light, as he is a big fan of Lincoln,  having previously dissected his famed Cooper Union address, which went a long way toward achieving his presidential ambitions.  In this book review, Garry Wills outlines Holzer's approach to his latest book, Lincoln and the Power of the Press.

At times, Lincoln's tactics were not so honest as when he created a fictional "Rebecca" to assail James Shields, a rising candidate in the Democratic party.  Lincoln was a young Whig at the time.  He and his law partner, William Herndon, often penned anonymous articles for Whig papers, promoting their political agenda, but these "scurrilous letters" almost cost him his life, as Shields challenged young Lincoln to a duel.  Fortunately for Lincoln, he was able to …

Coming in from the cold

What a weekend!  Just when you thought it couldn't get anymore exciting, President Obama meets with Castro and Hillary declares she is running for President.  This of course put the Republicans into full panic mode, scrambling all over the airwaves to tell us how awful it is that Obama has recognized this rogue nation and the terrible future we would have if Hillary was elected President.  The biggest loser was Marco Rubio, whose announcement scheduled for today will carry about as much weight as Obama's jock strap after a White House basketball game.

The President used the occasion of meeting with the heads of the American states to fire back at Congress, notably the less than honorable McCain and McConnell, or the two Macs, for trying to undermine his authority abroad on the Iran nuclear deal and other negotiations he has ongoing, like that with Cuba over formal US recognition of the state.

For his part, Raul Castro called Obama an "honest man" and seemed to defu…

Of Dicks and Men

The Trouble with Section 215

After reading the various angry responses in this article on John Oliver's "tough interview" with Edward Snowden, I decided to watch the interview myself.  It is important to see the whole show, as Oliver sets up the interview nicely with a lengthy piece on the notorious provisions in the NSA that allow the government to intercept your e-mails, and his interviews on the street indicating that very few persons actually know who Snowden is, much less what he had done two short years ago.

At about the 15-minute mark of the program, the interview starts with Oliver worried that Snowden may have stood him up.  But, Edward does pitch up and offers a very candid set of answers to Oliver's questions, even as Oliver's questions steer into "dick pics," which John amusingly uses to illustrate just how far the NSA can go through its labyrinth of electronic spying programs to invade your privacy.

Unlike many of the op-ed pieces on the in…

Here She Comes

It seems that the Republicans' worst nightmare is about to materialize, as Hillary plans to announce her candidacy as early as this weekend.   This will put a damper on Marco Rubio's coming out party planned for Monday.  The Republicans have been preparing for this.  The scandal they generated around her e-mails is just the latest in orchestrated attacks on her, launched under the guise of investigations.  None of this mudslinging seems to stick, as Hillary leads all GOP challengers in polls, although some state polls have become toss-ups.

Hillary has her detractors in the Democratic party as well, yet only three persons have expressed interest in running for the nomination.  Martin O'Malley, the popular governor of Maryland, is the most intriguing alternative at this point, but like most Democratic wannabes he suffers from name recognition.  The only person who could mount a serious challenge is Elizabeth Warren, but she seems to be sitting this election out.

Many of us …

A long, long time ago ...

Seems Don Mclean is still rather cagey as to the meaning behind the lyrics of American Pie, other than to say he painted a rather gloomy picture of the music world ten years after the death of Buddy Holley.  The manuscript sold for $1.2 million at a Christie's auction.  One assumes there are notes in the margins that offer clues to the various couplets that have beguiled listeners for decades.

The song vaulted to the top of the US and UK charts back in 1972, and has lingered on radio stations ever since, in part because of the death of subsequent musicians that had DJ's often playing this song in eulogy. Madonna reprised the song in 2001, much to the chagrin of devoted fans who couldn't believe McLean actually sold her the rights to the song.  Not only did he grant her the opportunity to cover his song, but praised her rendition as "sensual and mystical."  (sigh)

McLean frames the song within the context of a high school homecoming weekend replete with football …

The Power Broker

For decades it seems that Israel has been the tail that wags the dog in regard to American Foreign Policy.  It's nice to see the head finally taking some control over our FP, but of course that does not come without a fight.  Obama not only faces a mad Republican Congress, but divisions within his own ranks, notably Chuck Schumer, who is slated to be the next Senate Democratic leader when Harry Byrd steps down next year.

Schumer is supporting a so-called "bipartisan" bill that would essentially allow Congress to reject any agreements made by the President, not that he doesn't already need Congressional approval to make such deals binding.   What makes this bill particularly noxious is that it is a direct challenge to the President's authority, largely inspired by AIPAC, which lobbies both Republican and Democratic leaders in the defense of Israel's interests.

This very narrow world view has been promoted far too long, and has caused great damage in our fore…

Fast Food Politics

Memories Pizza and More looks so innocent with its Olive Gardens-inspired sign on the main street of Walkerton, Indiana.  However, it has become "ground zero" for the new war on religion, at least in cyberspace.

It's appropriately symbolic that a pizza parlor has become the focal point of these new religion bigotry, er I mean religious freedom laws being passed around the country.  We are a country that loves its fast food, especially pizza, and apparently would even have a pizza parlor cater our weddings, since Memories Pizza has placed a ban on catering gay weddings, not who comes into its pizza parlor.  I assume that's because it is hard to differentiate between customers, unless a gay couple were too make an obvious show of their affection to each other when entering this fine establishment.

Since this particular pizza parlor announced itself, it has received over $40,000 in donations, thanks to GoFundMe, which apparently allows persons to fund their bigotry.  O…

A Sense of Perspective

What a week! and it's not even over yet.  First came all that backlash to the Indiana new "Religious freedom" law.  Not happy that they are being second guessed, religious conservatives have described the strong response to their new law as "homofascism."  It seems that pizza parlors refusing to serve pizza to gays is not religious fascism, but heh you've got to stand your ground even if the Indiana legislature is working hard to amend this new law so that the owners of Memories Pizza can't hide their bigotry behind this insane law.

Meanwhile, President Obama dropped the bomb on the Republicans by acknowledging a deal struck by his state department and representatives of five other countries with Iran that would freeze its nuclear development and open their nuclear plants to international inspection teams.  The deal was met with jubilation in Iran, as it would gradually lift international sanctions, but not in the halls of Congress, where Presidential w…

Obama Resigns

President Obama has resigned from office, as has Vice-President Biden.  House Speaker John Boehner was immediately sworn in as the new President in a special ceremony in Iraq, where he was at the time of this unprecedented announcement.  This move has taken the nation, and indeed the world by shock.  It was all the House Speaker could do to hold back tears when informed of this stunning turn of events.

The former President offered no explanation and refused to field any questions from the White House press.  He said he will be traveling with his family to Hawaii for Easter weekend and will reassess his future there.  He also noted that he would be doing so at his own expense.  From this point forward he is a "private citizen."

The news media was totally stunned, and seemed to be at a loss of words to explain the event.  Fox correspondents and pundits rejoiced in the news until they figured out that the House Speaker was next in line.  Roger Ailes was quoted as saying, "…