Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Is Utah's LGBT Rights Bill A Trojan Horse For Religious Right?

There has been much hoopla in certain circles over Utah's passage of a LGBT non-discrimination bill that was backed by the Mormon Church - not exactly the most gay friendly of organizations.  The law is being called a "model" for other red states and, while it contains positive measures, many fear that it is a Trojan Horse for the Christofascists due to the religious exemptions in the bill.  Yes, gays have increased rights, except when "religious belief" trumps the law.  While perhaps the exemption was needed to secure passage, the reality is that non-discrimination protections for other protected classes contain no such exemptions.  Gays in the end remain in a second class status.  A piece in The New Civil Rights Movement looks at the valid concerns.  Here are highlights:
While there is much to be happy with in the legislation, and the protections it offers to some of the most vulnerable citizens in the Beehive State, the law also contains a tiny Trojan Horse individual religious exemptions clause. 

The Utah bill is being called a “model” to be used in states around the nation, but we must be forewarned. The individual religious exemption in the law, as small and seemingly noninvasive as it is, could put the civil liberties of everyone at stake for decades to come.

Religious freedom is important, and as a principle has existed since before the writing of the U.S. Constitution. The 13 original colonies were a fractured bunch of near-theocracies, with various Christian sects dominating different colonies—to the detriment of anyone not a member of the particular sect in power locally. Thanks to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the principle of religious freedom in the Constitution set in motion of the disestablishment of the state churches, and the advantages they held in the public sphere. Jefferson's famous Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which predated the Constitution and was the first such law to be enacted in the world, said one's beliefs or non-beliefs cannot “enhance, diminish, or impact” one's “civil capacity.”

But the Religious Right has launched a campaign to redefine the meaning of religious liberty, stripping away those protections and once again giving religions the power to circumscribe the rights of individual conscience. 

This coalition, led by right-wing groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly known as Alliance Defense Fund), the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and Liberty Counsel, is systematically working the courts and state legislatures to enact religious exemptions—essentially a right of religious institutions and individuals to decide which laws they will or will not follow.

In practical terms, this could play out as a business owner invoking faith to deny service to a LGBTQ couple, or refusing to hire Jewish employees. Or a man refusing to promote women to managerial positions because he doesn't believe men should be subservient to women. We cannot allow such freedom of conscience to become a legal sanction for these and other forms of discrimination.

The bill does indeed ban workplace and housing discrimination against LGBTQ people in Utah. But buried underneath those important protections, is a small clause guaranteeing the right of individuals to express faith-based anti-LGBTQ views at work.

It’s a small exemption. Seemingly inconsequential in comparison to the benefits the new law could bring. Viewed purely as a standalone piece of legislation, SB296 does a lot more good than bad and it’s unsurprising to see so many social justice-minded people supporting it.

But the equality movement cannot survive if we view legislation through a short-term and narrow lens. To do so is to ignore the context of the long-term consequences of the Religious Right’s national agenda—which only needs to get a foot in the door to get the ball rolling.

[T]he Religious Right's goal of codifying their redefined version of religious freedom into law has taken a giant step forward. Once Pandora’s Box is opened, there’s no shutting it.

Freedom of religion was envisioned by the Founding Fathers as meaning (i) no one had to pay taxes to support an established church, (ii) no one could be forced to hold a particular set of beliefs, and (iii) individuals were free to attend the house of worship of their choice.  It was never intended to grant the right to ignore civil laws because of one's religious belief.  This is a very, very dangerous precedent.

Jussie Smollett Discusses Why He Needed to "Come Out"

In this area, other than the lunatics over at Pat Robertson's CBN outfit, no one is more homophobic than the black pastor crowd who allow themselves to be regularly manipulated by the Christofascists and white supremacists at The Family Foundation, Virginia's leading hate group.  Thus, it is timely that someone like Empire star, Jussie Smollett come out and help dispel some of the batshitery peddled by the "godly folk," including the black pastors fanning homophobia - and increasing the number of men "on the down low" - as they shake down their parishioners for money.  Smollett discusses his reason for coming out in a piece in Variety.  Here are highlights:

Earlier this week, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett confirmed that he’s gay in a backstage interview with Ellen DeGeneres, saying, “There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in.” Smollett told Variety that the reaction since that moment has been great.

“It was a bigger deal to everyone than it was for me,” he said. “But at the same time I do understand why it is something to talk about.”

Smollett said he hopes to use the platform as a way to make other people feel less alone, and re-emphasized that his personal life is off-limits.

“I didn’t talk to Ellen so that people could, be like ‘oh my God, let’s see what Jussie does in his bedroom in his private life.’ But I did talk to her so that people understood that they’re not alone. That’s all.”

Smollett’s character on “Empire,” Jamal Lyon, who is also gay, explores the issues associated with being homosexual, including his tense relationship with his father. Smollett says getting to play his character is one of the most beautiful experiences of his life.

“You don’t always get these experiences as an artist of [playing] roles where you feel the impact of what you’re doing, but I do. And that as an artist, as an activist, as a man, it’s feeding my soul.”

Being "out" and living your life is the best way to end homophobia.  Other than the die hard haters and religious fanatics, once people have a face and name and someone they know to dispel the hate-filled stereotypes our enemies disseminate, it becomes more difficult to hang onto prejudices. 

Army General Trashes Tom "Male Michele Bachmann" Cotton

With Michele Bachmann no longer in Congress - although she continues to utter batshit crazy remarks - it increasingly seems that not ready for prime time Senator Tom Cotton is the new Bachmann substitute.  All he has to do is get down the crazy eye stares to complete the package.  If he wants to perfect his village idiot persona, he can bleach his hair blond so that we can call him a blond bimbo as well.  Retired Army Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton is none too happy with Cotton and while stopping short of calling him a traitor suggested that he was leading a "mutiny."  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the general's trashing of Cotton.  Here are excerpts:
The open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran signed by 47 senators and instigated by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was a stunning breach of protocol. One so outrageous that my former colleagues at the New York Daily News dubbed the signers “traitors.” While it is indeed a slap in the face of President Obama and an affront to the presidency, I’m not sure I would go that far, especially since Cotton is an Army veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. So, I turned to retired Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton for perspective. He wouldn’t say Cotton and Co. were “traitors,” either. He had a better word.

“I would use the word mutinous,” said Eaton, whose long career includes training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004. He is now a senior adviser to . . . they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act.” 

Eaton certainly had stern words for Cotton. “What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better,” . . .
to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.”

 The consequences of Cotton’s missive were plainly apparent to Eaton. “The breach of discipline is extremely dangerous, because undermining our diplomatic efforts, at this moment, brings us another step closer to a very costly and perilous war with Iran,” he said. . . .  “I think Senator Cotton recognizes this, and he simply does not care,”. . . . 

“I expect better from the men and women who wore the uniform,” Eaton said of Cotton. And the American people deserve better from the Senate.
Mutineers are typically court martialed and imprisoned - an idea I find attractive for Mr. Cotton.  And should his stunt lead us to war with Iran, he should be forced to resign his seat in the Senate and go to the front - preferably leading at the front of a charge like the civil war generals (who suffered a very high mortality rate).  Perhaps all 47 Republicans should have to do the same.  Just saying  . . . 

7.5 Million Americans Left Religion Since 2012

News that ought to terrify the Christofascists and Republican Party - i.e., that the number of "Nones" is growing rapidly - is, to me, actually good news.  Look around in the world today or even here in America and after perhaps race, nothing promotes more hate and bigotry than religion.  Yes, there are churches that quietly do their bake sales, run soup kitchens, and actually heed the Gospel message, but for all of that the overall stock in trade of religion is division and discord, if not outright hatred.  How many atheists do you hear wanting to enact laws for the execution of gays or other people or killing nonbelievers?  Religion News Service looks at the results of the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) that was released last week.  Here are highlights:
A new survey shows that the Great Decline of religion in America continues. Since 2012, the U.S. has about 7.5 million Americans who are no longer active in religion.

Last week, the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) was released. The GSS is the gold standard for sociological surveys. Funded by the National Science Foundation this multi-million dollar study gives us the most accurate data on American society — including religion.

Here are three measures that show that the percentage of Americans who left religion increased between 2012 and 2014, reaching its highest level in decades. 

[W]e see between a one and three point rise in secularity since 2012, with 7.5 million more people never entering a church or other worship service than just two years earlier.

When asked their “religious preference”, nearly one-in-four Americans now says “none.” Up until the 1990s, this group of so-called “nones” hovered in the single digits.  The 2014 GSS showed that the so-called nones are 21 percent. How large is this group of nones? There are nearly as many Americans who claim no religion as there are Catholics (24 percent). If this growth continues, in a few years the largest “religion” in the U.S. may be no religion at all.

The number of Americans who never darken a church door is also at a new high. Over a third of Americans (34 percent) never attend a worship service (other than weddings and other ceremonies). This is a 3.4 point increase from just a few years earlier. Put differently, the group of Americans who don’t attend church grew by a rate of over ten percent in two years.

Bottom line:  The number of Americans who are no longer active in religion reached a new high in 2014. Since 2012, about 7.5 million Americans more Americans don’t attend attend church. Millions also stopped identifying with any religion or praying. 
Are Americans less moral than in the past?  I don't think so.  Simply more and more have decided not to listen to ignorance and bigotry and don't want to support a parasitic (and often morally bankrupt) clergy class.  As for the GOP, but pandering to the most extreme far right Christians, the party seems determined to commit long term suicide. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

More Friday Male Beauty

GOP Closet Case Aaron Schock Facing Questions About His Expensive "Male companion"

Aaron Schock's boyfriend??

GOP Congressman Aaron Schock's troubles about his lavish lifestyle and extravagant travels just keep on growing.  now, it seems that Schock violated House of Representative rules when he took Jonathon Link - Schock's "photographer - to India to accompany the congressman on the trip, but failed to disclose Link's name appears anywhere on the travel disclosure form Schock filed afterwards. There has been much speculation that Schock is gay and now, some are questioning Link's real relationship with Schock.  Schock may be a jerk, but Link - -pictured above - does seem to have some some attractive attributes even if they have nothing to do with photography.  Here are highlights from CNN:
Another week, another report about a possible violation of House ethics rules by Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Illinois.

The congressman traveled to India last August 24-29 on a trip sponsored by the Global Poverty Project, an international anti-poverty group. The group also paid for Schock's Dallas-based photographer, Jonathon Link, to accompany the congressman on the trip, the group's spokesperson confirmed. But Link's name appears nowhere on the travel disclosure form Schock filed afterwards, as required by House rules.

The National Journal first reported about the disclosure oversight.

Schock's office paid Jonathon Link $4,166 for "communications" in September 2014 and listed him under "personnel" in its quarterly expense records, making him an official staffer. It is unclear if that payment was for the services rendered in India and Link did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Schock, a fourth-term congressman from a reliably Republican district, has been under scrutiny over his use of taxpayer and campaign money to pay for flights on private jets -- including planes owned by key donors -- concert tickets and other entertainment expenses. 

He's also under fire for lapses in reporting some of his expenses and already has taken steps to correct or amend some of those errors. He has hired a public relations team as well as a pair of lawyers, William McGinley and Donald McGahn, to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC to decide whether they can be improved.

Global Poverty Project spent $4,000 to fly Link from Dallas to New Delhi and to lodge and feed him. According to the travel disclosure form Schock filed, the group spent $5,000 on his travel, $525 on his lodging, $300 on his meals and another $389 on travel insurance and ground transportation. Schock stayed at the Radisson Blu Plaza in New Delhi at a rate of $152.03 a night and at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai at a rate of $159 a night, according to the disclosure form.
One can only wonder what next week's revelation will be!  Meanwhile, some on the far right are beginning to call for Schock's resignation.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Norfolk Catholic Church Shows Its Hypocrisy in St. Patrick's Day Dust Up

Anti-gay, anti-woman Rev. Beerman
Other than worshiping unborn fetuses, bashing and denigrating the civil rights of gays, and striving to subordinate women to men, there seems to be little else that matters to supposed leaders in the Roman Catholic Church - especially the Gospel mandate of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and caring for the sick.  A dust up over Terry McAuliffe's selection as grand marshal of Norfolk's St. Patrick's Day parade is bringing the warped priorities of the Church into sharp focus. Leading the charge in hypocrisy is Rev. Dan Beeman, pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church which is located in the area of the city where the parade takes place. He is incensed that McAuliffe was selected  since McAuliffe supports gay marriage and believes a woman should have some level of control over her own body.  Meanwhile, Beeman has been silent on the Virginia GOP's war on the poor, the national GOP's reverse Robin Hood agenda, and other policy directly at odds with the Church's social gospel message (similarly, I have heard a peep out of Beeman about punishing bishops and cardinals who aided and abetted predator priests).  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the hypocrisy dripping batshitery.  Here are highlights:
A Norfolk Catholic church is refusing to participate in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend because Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is leading the procession.

The Rev. Dan Beeman of Holy Trinity Catholic Church wrote a letter to parishioners saying he was “shocked and saddened” that the organizers had asked McAuliffe to be the parade’s grand marshal. 

“Governor McAuliffe stands contrary to the Catholic Church in not one but many of the most essential teachings of the Church in the political arena,” Beeman wrote.

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy responded in a statement: “The Governor is a lifelong Catholic who takes his faith very seriously. He also believes in keeping government out of decisions that should be left to women and their doctors, or to consenting adults who love each other.”

Beeman’s parish will not participate in the parade or any related events. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is withdrawing as well, taking with it several Catholic schools that were scheduled to attend at the order’s invitation. 

The parade has been organized every year since 1968 by a local council of the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal Catholic association that dates to the 1800s. In a statement, leaders of the state Knights of Columbus distanced themselves from the Norfolk chapter. 

“It is an erroneous and serious mistake in judgment for any Catholic organization to grant awards, honors and platforms to any public person who clearly acts in defiance to Catholic teaching,” wrote Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington. The state council was not consulted on the decision to honor McAuliffe, they said.

[P]arade organizers initially agreed to withdraw the invitation to the governor but then reversed that decision. Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D), who shares the governor’s views on abortion and gay marriage, was not allowed to lead the parade last year after similar protests.
Perhaps the local K of C chapter understands that the world is changing and that maintaining 13th century positions (i) bodes ill for the organization's future, and (ii) undermines popular participation in the event.  It should be noted that nationally, the K of C has spent millions of dollars opposing civil law gay marriage rather than feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and caring for the sick.  Just saying . . . .  Perhaps merchants in the area should take over sponsorship of the parade in future years.

The Iran Letter and the GOP's Inability to Govern

If one has watched the transformation of the Republican Party from a political party where a decent, moral person who values knowledge, logic and contending with objective reality could feel at home to today's insane asylum controlled by extremists and fanatics, two trends are easily seen.  The first is the rise of the Christofascists and all the poison that has brought.  The second is the change in focus of GOP elected officials from actually looking out for the best interests of America and seeking to govern to a place where the sole focus is on appealing to the hate, bigotry and delusions of the party base.  There is no long term plan and no vision of governing.  It's all about self-prostitution to religious whack jobs and racists with a strong dash of pandering to the wealthy.  A piece in the Washington Post by a conservative columnist laments the GOP's growing unfitness to govern.  Here are excerpts:

The true scandal of the Tom Cotton letter to Iranian leaders is the manner in which the Republican Senate apparently conducts its affairs. 

The document was crafted by a senator with two months of experience under his belt. It was signed by some members rushing off the Senate floor to catch airplanes, often with little close analysis. Many of the 47 signatories reasoned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement was vetting enough. There was no caucus-wide debate about strategy; no consultation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has studiously followed the nuclear talks (and who refused to sign).

This was a foreign policy maneuver, in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation, with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting. In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about the Republican majority’s capacity to govern. 

The exact shape of a possible Iran deal remains unknown. I’m on record predicting that it may be a bad one — a very unlikely throw of the dice that a terror-sponsoring, clerical regime will become a minimally responsible regional power.

But the half-baked Cotton letter was a poor instrument to express concern. First, the bleedingly obvious: If Republican senators want to make the point that an Iran deal requires a treaty, they should make that case to the American people, not to the Iranians. Congress simply has no business conducting foreign policy with a foreign government, especially an adversarial one. Every Republican who pictures his or her feet up on the Resolute Desk should fear this precedent.

[T]he main result is not a weakened presidency but a weakened legislature. Corker has been toiling with the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), to craft legislation that would require Senate approval of an Iran deal. Before the Cotton letter, Corker was two votes away from a veto-proof, bipartisan majority. Now Obama and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are using the letter to argue that Republicans are engaged only in partisan games. 

A final objection to the Cotton letter concerns not institutional positioning but grand strategy. The alternative to a bad nuclear deal is not war; it is strong sanctions and covert actions to limit Iranian capacities until the regime falls (as it came close to doing in 2009) or demonstrates behavior change in a variety of areas. But this approach depends on the tightening of sanctions in cooperation with Europe, as well as Russia and China. And this effort can be held together only by the impression that the United States has negotiated with Iran in good faith.

The Cotton letter creates the impression that Senate Republicans are rooting for negotiations to fail — which would complicate our attempt to maintain strong sanctions if negotiations end up failing. 

[J]ustifying a bad idea by recounting a history of bad ideas is a particularly bad way to conduct foreign policy. It is the crutch of a partisan, not the argument of a statesman. This is presumably the reason we have a Senate, not only a House. A six-year term should ensure an extra 30 minutes to read a document and think through its implications.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

Anti-Gay Military Chaplain Faces Dismissal

Faux Christian Martyr Modder
The far right are preparing to make a martyr out of Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder, a Pentecostal chaplain once assigned to elite Navy SEAL units, who is facing dismissal because of his behavior towards gays and unmarried woman within the command to which he was assigned.   Modder was given a "detachment for cause" letter on Feb. 17 after his commanders concluded that he is "intolerant" and "unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment" of his current assignment.  The usual suspects and liberty counsel are claiming that Modder is being persecuted for being a Christian when the truth is that he refused to recognize the freedom of religion rights of military members at his assignment and sought to force his religious beliefs on them.  As is always the case with Christofascists, they construe "religious freedom" as their unfettered right to inflict their beliefs on others with zero regard for the rights of others.  Ultimately, it is form of extreme selfishness and contempt for others.  The Navy Times has details.  Here are highlights:
Navy Capt. Jon Fahs, NNPTC commander, cited several specific incidents in which Modder offered inappropriate counseling to sailors in the command, according to the detachment for cause letter. The letter states that Modder:
  • Told a female that she was "shaming herself in the eyes of god" for having premarital sex.
  • Told another student that homosexuality was wrong and that "the penis was meant for the vagina and not for the anus."
  • Suggested to a student that he, Modder, had the ability to "save" gay people.
  • "Berated" a student for becoming pregnant while not married.
Commanders felt that allowing vulnerable sailors to be counseled by Modder is "a recipe for tragedy," according to the letter.

The issue arose after multiple sailors filed equal opportunity complaints about Modder with the command, alleging discrimination.

Modder's Liberty Institute attorney, Michael Berry, said the effort to fire him reflects a broader cultural change in the military.

"I think what we are seeing is a hostility to religious expression in the military now," Berry said. "What we're seeing is this new modern, pluralistic, Navy where service members are encouraged to be hypersensitive, especially about issues of faith, marriage and family."

Commanding officers feel that "if we don't silence this immediately, then somebody is going to complain that my commanding officer didn't do anything about it," Berry said.

When confronted with the complaints, Modder told his command that "he will not follow Navy policy if it conflicts with his faith," according to the letter.
Kudos to the Navy.  I hope Modder is kicked out.  It is far past time that the Christofascist realize that they are not above the law and rules and regulations.  If they cannot abide by the military's rules, then get out.  Nothing is preventing Modder from embracing his ignorance and fear based beliefs - he simply doesn't have the right to force them on others.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Is the Main Stream Media a GOP Tool?

One hears constant charges from the far right and Republican side of the isle about the "liberal media" not providing "balanced" coverage.   I would counter that, if anything, the media is too deferential to the Republican Party - much as it gives deference to religious extremists and religion in general - and all too often merely parrots whatever bullshit the GOP is peddling while never fact checking any of it. One only need to recall the lead up to the Iraq War which was based on deliberate Bush/Cheney lies to remember but one example of this frightening failure.   The media bears a huge responsibility in keeping politicians honest, but the same standard needs to be applied to the GOP as Hillary Clinton.  A piece in The Week looks at the media's responsibility.  Here are excerpts:
You can't understand Hillary Clinton's perspective without understanding what happened in the 1990s, and the media transformation that was going on while Bill Clinton was president. From the first moments of that presidency, Clinton's opponents were convinced he was corrupt to the core. They assumed that if they mounted enough investigations and tossed around enough charges, something would stick and Clinton would be brought down. If you think the endless Benghazi investigations are ridiculous, you should have been around then . . .

Conservative talk radio came into its own in the 1990s, providing Republicans both an outlet for their most outrageous charges and a goad to produce more of them. (When they won control of Congress in 1994, Republicans literally made Rush Limbaugh an honorary member of their freshman class). Fox News debuted in 1996, in time for the impeachment crisis of 1998. The previously leisurely news cycle accelerated rapidly, and nothing fed it like scandal.

While the Clintons bear responsibility for getting many of those scandals going with questionable decision-making or behavior, it's also true that the mainstream media made huge mistakes during that period by treating every Republican charge, no matter how ludicrous, as though it was worthy of a full-scale investigation splashed across the front page. Again and again, they reacted to the most thinly justified accusations as though the next Watergate or Iran-Contra was at hand, and when it turned out that there was no corruption or illegality to be found, they simply moved on to the next faux-scandal, presented no less breathlessly.

That past — and journalists' failures to reckon with it — are still affecting coverage today. When this email story broke, how many journalists said it was important because it "plays into a narrative" of Hillary Clinton as scandal-tainted? I must have heard it a dozen times just in the past week.

Here's a tip for my fellow scribes and opinionators: If you find yourself justifying blanket coverage of an issue because it "plays into a narrative," stop right there. That's a way of saying that you can't come up with an actual, substantive reason this is important or newsworthy . . . during the Clinton years, reporters would say they had no choice but to devote attention to some scurrilous charge, whether there was evidence for it or not, because someone had made the charge and therefore it was "out there."

They should apply similar standards to all the candidates; if it's important that Clinton used a private email account while at State, then it must be equally important that other candidates have used private emails for work, and they should be subject to as much scrutiny as she is. When a new revelation or accusation emerges, the questions reporters should ask themselves include: Is there evidence for this? What's the context in which it took place? How does it bear on the presidency?

"Does this play into a narrative?" ought to be the last question they ask. As I wrote about Hillary Clinton, there are ways in which she owes her supporters better than what they've gotten from her in the past. But that's only half the story. The news media owes their readers, listeners, and viewers better than what they got, too.

Lessons From Hillary's E-Mail Debacle

Hillary Clinton's explanation for use of private e-mail while Secretary of State will never satisfy her detractors, including the unwashed GOP base.  Her supporters are and will continue to be only too happy to accept the explanation and move on.  Fortunately, 47 GOP Senators provided the perfect mechanism for Hillary to change the subject - especially since their communication may well have been a federal crime (see yesterday's last post).  Where things go from here will depend in large part on one's political leanings and how fearful you are about the thought of a Republican in the White House.  Many will choose to support Hillary, defects and all, rather than see a Republican in the White House - I am probably in this camp myself.  An editorial in the Washington Post looks at what we may expect as things move forward.  Here are highlights:
The controversy over Clinton’s  e-mails as secretary of state is an early skirmish in what will be one of the defining battles of her quest for the White House. Her success will depend in significant part on which aspects the 1990s voters choose to remember. 

Clinton’s foes want Americans to recall the investigations, the political circus and fascinating philosophical discussions over what the meaning of “is” is. Her supporters want every voter who casts a ballot to think about a period when the going was good, when every income group saw its standard of living rise and when the world beyond our borders looked much safer and more stable.

Round One, the e-mails saga, goes to Clinton’s opponents. . . . Democrats were thus happy to accept her explanation Tuesday that she used a private server out of “convenience.” They were willing to trust that the e-mails she deleted really were about weddings, funerals and yoga.

They know their party has no real alternative to Clinton. They also share her dim view of a Republican Party willing to pick up any rock to throw the Clintons’ way and remember a GOP that had been happy to push the country to an impeachment drama most voters plainly didn’t want.

It was thus shrewd of her to lead Tuesday’s news conference by assailing the 47 Republican senators who wrote an open letter to Iran’s leadership by way of undermining President Obama’s nuclear negotiations. Pointing to this outlandish move reminded Democrats (and the country as a whole) that she is still dealing with an opposition that scorns the traditional rules and norms of statesmanship and politics. She also gently nudged Obama to remember which side he needs to be on.

Rallying Democrats will likely get Clinton through this storm, even if her responses will not satisfy those who will always wonder which e-mails she deleted and whether her use of a private server was not only about convenience but also a way of shielding her electronic correspondence from Freedom of Information Act and congressional requests.

To survive the next 20 months until Election Day, she will have to find her way toward a less viscerally antagonistic view of media scrutiny that distinguishes between partisan muggings and the sorts of questions all presidential candidates inevitably confront.

[T]he e-mail saga could be highly useful to Clinton’s campaign and her potential presidency — if she draws the right conclusions.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Did Senate Republican Commit a Crime?

I won't be labor the issue any more today other than to lay out this provision of the United States Code:

18 U.S. Code § 953 - Private correspondence with foreign governments.

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. 

 It looks like the Justice Department needs to be drawing up criminal indictments against 47 Republicans. 

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Tom Cotton - A Male Michele Bachmann?

I will admit that I cannot help myself when it comes to piling on GOP Senator Tom Cotton.  The man seems hell bent to become the male replacement for the seriously unhindered Michele Bachmann.  Like Bachmann, Cotton seems to revel in his ignorance and willing to say literally anything required in order to thoroughly prostitute himself to the ugliest elements of the GOP base.  A piece in Talking Points Memo looks at Cotton's effort to out crazy Bachmann.   Here are highlights:
Cotton actually has as much in common with the Frank Gaffney/Crazy Town Steve King/Michele Bachmann world. Related yes, but not precisely the same. Here's the lead quote from that MoJo [Mother Jones] article. "Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they're willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas."  Sound familiar?

Cottonites think the (Barack Hussein) Obama White House is infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and is bringing down the border fence to facilitate incursions by the Mexican Drug Cartel/Hezbollah/ISIS alliance to launch the decisive attack your local convenience store.

Iran Letter Blowback Startles GOP

I've noted before that today's GOP base and its political whores in Congress live in a bubble and never venture out into venues where voters and citizens have not been swilling Kool-Aid by the bucket full.   When, on rare occasions, they do venture out of the bubble, they seem stunned by the fact that most people do not believe the myths, fairy tales, and propaganda so popular among the knuckle dragging, Kool-Aid drinking party base.  Hence, the shock and surprise among the cretins and political whores who signed Tom Cotton's seditious letter to Iran.  A piece in Politico looks at the bewilderment experienced by the modern day GOP traitors/secessionists.  Here are excerpts:

Some Republican senators admitted Wednesday they were caught off guard by the backlash to a letter warning Iranian leaders against a nuclear agreement with President Barack Obama. And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Republicans — many of whom blessed the missive during a brisk signing session at a Senate lunch a week ago, as senators prepared to flee a Washington snowstorm — should have given it closer consideration.

On this at least, Democrats and Republicans found agreement.  “I find it hard to believe that they understood the severity of what they were doing,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Though none of the 47 Republican signers has expressed regret for co-signing it, the missive, authored by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, is creating unexpected fallout in Congress. And it threatens to linger politically and legislatively.

Sensing a public relations advantage, the campaign arm for Senate Democrats on Wednesday quickly circulated newspaper op-eds criticizing Republicans who signed the missive, and strategists said the issue will soon show up in TV ads in states of vulnerable senators. Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took to the Senate floor for a second time to blast Republican “gimmicks” on Iran and Secretary of State John Kerry called it a “stunning” breach of protocol after being teed up by a question from a Democratic senator at a committee hearing.

On the legislative front, a fragile bipartisan coalition of Iran hawks, who had been approaching a veto-proof majority for legislation that could potentially scuttle any U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement, was showing signs of cracking, as some centrist senators warned they were close to backing away from the measure.

[T]here appeared to be little hope of turning back the clock on the politicization elicited by the letter, and multiple Democratic strategists predicted there would be more political repercussions to come for Republicans. One said there’s “no question” that Democrats will run ads attacking Republicans who signed onto the letter.

Message to Senate Republicans: get your heads out of your asses, stop drinking the Kool-Aid and stop listening to Christofascists and white supremacists. 

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton - Insane Batshitery is Now the GOP Normal

Sen. Tom Cotton - traitor or brainless idiot?
In the wake of the infamous letter to Iran signed by 47 Republican Senators, all kinds of accusations of treason and lesser offenses are being thrown at the Republican cretins who signed the letter - most probably in a quest to prostitute themselves to the white supremacist base of the party.   Meanwhile, even more focus is coming to bear on Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton who was behind the letter in the first place.  And the picture of Cotton which is emerging is not pretty.  Deliberate lies, extremism and a disregard for truth and veracity seem to be the norm for Cotton.  As The Raw Story is reporting, Cotton even told one uninsured constituent not to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act because, if she did, Russian mobsters would steal her identity.  Here are story highlights:
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton has been in the news for spearheading a coalition of 47 Senators who are trying to kill any deal with Iran by warning its leadership that Obama is only in office for another 21 months.

But long before Cotton had fame and his seat in the Senate, he was a little-known member of the House of Representatives. On November 23rd, 2013, he held a town hall meeting in his district in Hot Springs, Arkansas at the Clarion Lake Resort. The meeting was organized primarily to discuss the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the mishaps with the websites governing the health insurance exchanges.

At one point, a constituent submitted a question mentioning that her insurance plan had been cancelled and she refuses to utilize the exchanges that Obama, who she calls a liar, set up.  Rather than telling her that she has an obligation for her own health to seek insurance, Cotton goaded her on, telling her that he himself wouldn’t use the exchange website because “Russian mobsters” may steal his identity.

COTTON: I have to say I share Tammy’s concerns about her personal information. I have to buy any kind of insurance plan that I might buy through the exchange. And I am certainly not going on the exchange to shop right now. I  did in early October just because I knew that it would crash and I would prove a point. But I certainly wouldn’t put my Social Security number or my tax information in there right now until I’m 100% confident that it’s not going to be stolen by Russian mobsters and I’d have my identity stolen and sold on the black market internationally.

For a man who has railed on a supposed threat from the dangers of Iran, he is awfully comfortable subjecting his own constituents to the dangers of no health coverage.
In short, as more information comes out, it becomes increasingly obvious that Cotton is unfit to even hold a high school student council position much less a U.S. Senator.  All of which, of course, means that Cotton is perfectly fit to be a darling of the GOP base.  Once upon a time - e.g., before the take over of the GOP by the Christofascists/Tea Party - someone like Cotton would never has risen to hold a u.S. Senate seat.  Now, mental midgets and extremists like Cotton are the norm in today's GOP.  My Republican ancestors must be spinning in their graves.