Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Satire: Santorum Edition

David Letterman: “They’re saying now it looks like the state of Michigan is swinging toward Rick Santorum. And I think if there’s a word that best describes Rick, it’s ‘swinging.’”

“They’re saying now that Rick Santorum is gaining momentum because he’s not Romney. And Mitt Romney was furious. He replied, ‘Well, I can do that.”

"Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are both against gay marriage. Really, against gay marriage? I tell you, the problem with this is they’d make such a cute couple.”

Bill Maher: “We have a new frontrunner for the Republicans, Rick Santorum…the little creep that could.”

“Poor Mitt Romney, he’s got the money, he’s got the organization, he’s got the name recognition. He has one weakness: an inability to get votes.”

“You can tell that this Santorum surge has Mitt Romney a little rattled. He was at the CPAC Convention today, and he showed up in a sweater vest with a fetus in a jar.”

"Contraception is back in the news, Planned Parenthood -- issues that have been real losers for Republicans in the past, especially with women. Makes Republicans lose their votes, makes them seem out of touch, but they say, 'We'll worry about that when women get the vote.'"
“Rick Santorum is against birth control, he’s against ordaining women as priests, he thinks two women kissing is immoral. See, this is the difference between me and Rick Santorum; neither one of us got a lot of dates in high school, but I just didn’t spend the rest of my life taking it out on women.”
“Romney, Gingrich, Santorum spent their week lecturing America about the morality of birth control. You know, you guys don’t need birth control, you are birth control.”

Seth Meyers:  “Rick Santorum is hoping his three wins in the Republican primaries on Tuesday will position him as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. And I think that's reflected in his new campaign slogan: the other white meat.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mitt Romney and the GOP: “ Where Nonsense Becomes Truth “

By Tom Schimmeck
Translated By Ron Argentati  for
13 February 2012

Edited by Louis Standish          Original ( In German )

The Republican primaries are proving that many Americans live in a bizarre world. A cultural war threatens.
They're calling Mitt Romney a “moderate” again. He's middle of the road — a centrist. If the rest are all zombies, then Dracula wins the beauty contest.
The battle to become the Republican presidential nominee has raged for months. That's a convincing argument, first of all, for the fact that the Republican Party has degenerated into a pack of raving fundamentalists, and secondly, it signals a severe decline in the level of discourse. The first point is no issue at all; for them, loony has been normal for ages. This is a group that has become increasingly excitable and thus increasingly dimwitted. It's not just the poisonous darts from talk radio hosts, not just Rupert Murdoch's notoriously hyperventilating Fox News moderators that are dragging the level of American politics ever lower. It looks like all the various arch- and neoconservative, libertarian, evangelical and chauvinistic elements in the United States are coalescing into a new cosmos of extremists.
The cultural warriors of conservatism see the world thus: Health insurance for everyone is socialism. The right to have an abortion is mass murder. Environmental protection is dictatorship. Climate change is all a lie. But of course the military is sacrosanct and the right to private weapons ownership is inviolable. The rowdies on the right indulge their political furor, slavering every few days over a new liberal issue. They gnaw at it as if it were a juicy bone. They still believe they're fighting against some liberal mainstream and never realize that they themselves are the new mainstream. They're always at their enemy's throat; they're on an eternal holy crusade.
Those identifying with the tea party movement have truly proven to be the most useful idiots. They helped divert the anger against Wall Street onto the Washington political establishment, onto politics in general. Government sucks. Politics is crap. They find their own government repugnant — the “federal government” (pronounced as if they were spitting out a piece of gristle). Such rhetoric is mortally dangerous; it causes democracy to self-destruct.
Think that's too extreme? Just listen to Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul. Evolution? What the hell is that? Ah, you mean God! Financial crisis? That wasn't caused by greed on the part of bankers, it was due to over-regulation by the government. They wallow in a torrent of nonsense, in a fiery, hyper-patriotic, ultra-bizarre idiocy. They trot out theories and “facts” that Josef Joffe buries in clauses and the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper would reject; stuff even the tabloid Bild newspaper wouldn't dare print. German Christian Democrats in favor of a social safety net would be called communists in their United States. The entire spectrum there is skewed to the right. It's a nation of people who dwell in a completely different reality. And they rant and they rave.
Can it be that reality is just whatever insanity happens to be most socially popular at any given moment? That may sound a bit too cynical but we're talking about a nation that is the cradle of democracy, the world's leading capitalist country and the nation that also accounts for a major portion of the popular culture the rest of the world consumes.
Multimillionaire Willard Mitt Romney acts as if he hates politics. He constantly reminds us that he has never worked a single day inside the Beltway. But he wants to allow gays to hang on to a few rights enjoyed by straights — already treason to many Republican zealots. And he's not entirely against the minimum wage — enough to get a radio agitator like Rush Limbaugh screeching. Romney has even pointed out that “Islam is not an inherently violent faith.”
That REALLY set them off ...


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans; Douchebags At Large

Senate Republicans push to let any employer deny coverage for any health service on 'moral' grounds

 By   Laura Clawson      Sun Feb 12, 2012              Original

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is putting his weight behind Sen. Roy Blunt's amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would allow employers to deny coverage not just for contraception but for any treatment or any condition they claimed was contrary to their religious beliefs.


Scumbag Republican McConnell

While coverage of the bill will likely center around contraception, that's not the Republicans' only target:

“The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem. This is about freedom of religion, it’s right there in the First Amendment. You can’t miss it — right there in the very first amendment to our Constitution,” McConnell said. “What the overall view on the issue of contraception is has nothing to do with an issue about religious freedom.”

That's the religious freedom to deny coverage for birth control, of course. But it's also the religious freedom to deny coverage for cervical cancer, because it's caused by HPV, which is transmitted sexually. It's the religious freedom to deny coverage for treatment for alcoholism or any health issue associated with drinking. It's the religious freedom for any employer, not just religiously affiliated ones, to be legally allowed to come up with any excuse to exclude any kind of care from the health coverage they provide their employees, as long as they say it's a religious or moral reason.

Even as they claim it's about something bigger than contraception, you can bet Republicans will keep the focus squarely on that—they want the public debate to be contraception (associated with sex and women's health, and therefore ... icky) against religious freedom (a noble abstract idea and essential constitutional principle). But they're going for something much bigger. They're simultaneously looking to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, turn over governance to churches—in fact, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is sponsoring a bill similar to Blunt's because of something he heard in church—and give employers yet another way to shaft their workers.

Mitch McConnell is right. This fight is bigger than contraception. It always has been, because women's health isn't just a minor issue. But now, thanks to Republicans, it's a fight about any kind of health care you might name, and about workers at any business. Because women aren't a big enough target anymore; they're going after everyone now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Republicans: The Group That Time Forgot

    You have to love the Flintstone Republican Party as they fight tooth and nail to throw Americans back into the stone age era with their fake outrage over contraception, and women’s right in general.

    The party of nothing but cult-like talking points really has nothing to run on during this election season as decades of their failed policies have proven to be disastrous for most Americans.

Republicans undiscover fire

by Mark Sumner for Daily Kos on Sun Feb 12, 2012

There's a mythology around politics, one that sees the ballot box and the floor of Congress as a battleground of ideas. In this star-spangled arena, progressives and conservatives square off in the competition to prove the worth of their opposing philosophies and the merit of their plans. Of course it's not all high-minded rhetoric and reasoned discourse, there are selfish motives and personal ambitions, angry outbursts and plain old mistakes, but in the end the best ideas win out in the great experiment that is America! Cue the brass section and wave the flag.

The truth is it was probably never that way. It doesn't take much prompting for people to produce examples of nastiness in campaigns back Jefferson and Adams, or to revisit instances of corruption from decades or centuries gone by. We all know that Mr. Smith is a fictional character.

However, just because it's possible to unearth grizzled examples of ugliness doesn't mean that the current season is not unique. Uniquely dangerous. And what makes it dangerous is the pretense that we're still in that fantasyland were ideas arm wrestle for history's approval. In fact, that time is long past. It's not even that what's now coming from the right consists of 100% emotional, fear-based appeals without a factual basis. In 2012, a campaign of suggestive fear-mongering seems almost quaint.

It's that the Republicans have staked out a position that requires that they lie, 24/7, 365. Not shade the facts their way. Not put their own spin on the situation. Lie. Big, sloppy, and constantly.

The lies go beyond instantly dismissible claims like President Obama being the "food stamp president" (why you have to go back one whole administration to discover that more people joined the food stamp ranks under Bush than Obama, but then the Republicans don't seem to remember Bush in any case).  The blatant lies extend through every aspect of the Republican platform, such as it is. The simple reason is that the Republicans have no ideas left, at least no ideas that have not been tested and proven to be failures again, and again, and again.

The economy didn't just crash under a Republican president, it crashed under Republican policies. It crashed with low taxes. It crashed with deregulated markets. It crashed with huge restrictions on union activity. It crashed with massive cuts in environmental regulations. It crashed with lowered trade barriers. It crashed with big fat Pentagon spending.

They got what they wanted. They got CEOs with no limits on their wealth. They got banks with no limits on their "creativity." They got trade agreements that guaranteed manufacturing could be moved to the dirtiest, cheapest, most desperate source available. They got massive cuts in capital gains taxes and equally large boosts in the wealth they could pass along in estates. They got everything they said would make us all wealthy. They got record oil and gas drilling. They got record giveaways of public land. They got everything they said would create jobs. They got the middle class to shoulder more, more, more of the burden so that those beautiful job creators would be free to work their magic.

They can't say the economy crashed because taxes went up, because they didn't. They can't say that the economy crashed because there was a raft of new regulation, because there wasn't. They can't blame it on "union thugs" or Saul Alinsky or the guy who writes Happy Holidays cards at Hallmark. They can't blame it on a president who was elected when the world was already in free fall. Only, of course they do. They say it because they have no choice.

For the same reason that they have to maintain that global warming is the creation of a conspiracy of scientists, and that evolution is a conspiracy of other scientists, and that gay marriage is a threat to "traditional" marriage. They have to lie about the threat of illegal immigrants. Lie about the state of the national debt. Lie about the effects of the President's health care plan. They have to lie, because lies are all they have left.

They certainly can't admit the truth about the economy. They can't admit that they did it. Own it. That their policies directly caused the worst economic failure in American history. Strike that. Make it "the greatest failure in American history since the last time that these same policies were tried." But then, they've been lying about that bit of history for years.

The truth is that the Republicans have nothing to offer. Not even anything that looks like a governing philosophy. Conservatism has moved out of the ranks of political theories and simply become a cult; one that requires that certain phrases be mouthed, that certain hatreds be nourished, and that purity be maintained regardless of cost. That schism with reality is increasingly large and increasingly obvious. They try to paper over that gap by dismissing little things like science, reason, history. Real science fails to support their contentions, so they have to write it off. Reason doesn't work for them, so any question must be met with red-faced indignity — every question a gotcha question. Real history is full of warts, quirks, and unfortunate truths that don't fit their ritualized beliefs. So they have to try to rewrite history, giving us rewrite Reagan who never raised a tax or increased a debt, rewrite FDR who created the issues he actually solved, rewrite Lincoln who championed the Confederate cause, rewrite founding fathers who never owned slaves, never supported government regulation of the economy, never wavered in their ardent love for a form of religiosity that didn't yet exist. Tricorner hats are the new tinfoil.

The real danger isn't that someone might listen to the Republicans—anyone who lies long enough and loud enough can always find an audience, especially when that someone has three quarters of the television media and ninety+ percent of radio. The danger is that we might forget that they're lying. Too often Democrats, including this president, have felt that the best way to handle Republican fantasies is to compromise with them. You can't compromise reality, no no matter how loud the lies.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Religious Far Right and Their Sexual Agenda

Originally posted to Tim DeLaney on Sun Feb 05, 2012

The recent controversy over the political decisions of the Susan G Komen foundation has inspired this diary. I cannot for the life of me understand why politics ought to play a role in this arena. However, this diary is not about that particular story; others have commented more cogently than I could about those details. Rather, it is more general in scope. Let's explore this topic below the Satanic orange graphic.

A frequently repeated mantra of the religious far right is that "Life begins at conception."

This is just wrong, both in fact and in biology. The sperm and the egg were both fully alive before conception. Life actually began about four billion years ago. Since that time, there is an unbroken line of living cells that leads to the sperm and the egg. Life doesn't begin anew simply because an egg is fertilized; life simply continues. Maybe you don't believe in common descent or evolution. Even though I think that's a foolish belief, you are entitled to it, but common descent is nonetheless true. The scientific evidence for it is just overwhelming, and it would be perverse to reject it.

The invention of sex was, in evolutionary terms, a (figurative) stroke of genius. Among other advantages, sex enables a species to preserve traits that might otherwise be lethal until a time when they might be useful. A prime example of this is sickle cell anemia. (Google is your friend.) Without the invention of sex, evolution would be much slower, much different, and perhaps impossible. It is not a coincidence that sex is also a great deal of fun.

Human conception is not a supernatural event, any more than is turtle conception. It is wondrous to be sure, but it's not supernatural. If you believe that something supernatural happens when a sperm penetrates and fertilizes an egg, then that belief is a private religious belief. Science cannot disprove this belief; it is theological in nature. But in reality (as opposed to theology) there is nothing that happens in a cell that cannot be explained by chemistry. This is a fact; scientists call it biochemistry.

If human conception is a supernatural event, then what about the conception of a chimpanzee, a dog, or a turtle? These are events that have a great deal in common with human conception. Their chemistry is extraordinarily similar. Why would these events not be considered supernatural? Why is human conception alone regarded as a supernatural event?

You might argue that the specific arrangement of the genetic material of the fertilized egg makes it unique, something that will never again be duplicated exactly. True enough, but unique is not a synonym for supernatural. You can say the same for a deal at bridge, but nobody talks of a bridge deal as supernatural. It is just 52 cards arranged in a particular way. The human genome is far more complex than a deck of cards. But still, it is not supernatural, at least not in any scientific sense.

You can choose to believe that at the moment of conception, a deity creates a soul, and embeds that soul into the fertilized egg. There is no physical evidence for such a belief, but I support your right to believe it, even though I myself do not. This is the meaning of the first amendment. You have the absolute and unfettered right to any religious belief you choose. I am strictly forbidden to try to impose my private beliefs upon you.

In like manner, you do not have the right to impose your beliefs upon me. For example, you might believe that God doesn't want us to play golf on Sunday. That's fine with me--just don't play golf on Sunday. But don't pass a law against Sunday golf; that would be imposing your religious beliefs upon me. Do you see the analogy between Sunday golf and abortion?

In the USA, civil rights are recognized only at birth. Various milestones, such as the age of majority, are recognized as occurring at a specified time interval after birth. Citizenship itself is defined in terms of birthplace. By custom, we do not even receive a name until we are born. Indeed, the single most meaningful document in our lives is our birth certificate. As far as the nation is concerned, the singular event of birth is what defines each us as a person and as a citizen.

The alternative proposed by the religious right--to define a fertilized egg as a person--raises some annoying practical questions. In what country was the person conceived? Exactly how old is the person? Is the fetus, even if miscarried at two months, a dependent for tax purposes? What about a baby born on September 29? Would that enable me to amend my tax return?

Defining a person as starting from birth is unambiguous and precise. It simplifies things and it is practical. More importantly, it is the criterion we have chosen as a nation. We must live with that criterion, even though we might have theological beliefs to the contrary.

Having said all this, I think there is room for compromise. For example, I would be willing to accept a law that requires a doctor to preserve the life of a viable fetus after it is aborted whenever possible. So, please don't drag in the red herring of partial birth abortion. The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed during the first six months, more than 99.96% according to this study. In fact, roughly 89% are performed during the first 12 weeks. 

Nowhere in this essay do I mean to suggest that an unwanted pregnancy ought to be terminated without a care in the world, as one might dispose of a Kleenex. If I were a woman I would take such a decision very seriously, and I would expect others to do so as well. This belief on my part is well founded. I trust women to understand that an abortion has far reaching consequences, as does a pregnancy carried to term. However, I do mean to suggest that government must not intrude itself in that decision.

It would be natural to expect that the religious far right, being opposed as they are to abortion, would be avid supporters of contraceptive information for young people. After all, preventing unwanted pregnancies would do away with most abortions. Strangely, they are generally unfriendly towards this idea. They may or may not be opposed to contraception in principle, but only very rarely do they advocate making such information freely available to young unmarried people.

The religious far right know--or at least they should know--that the urge to procreate is so strong that nature / God / evolution (take your pick) has instilled in the young of our species a very strong urge to copulate. (Think back to your teen years. Did you ever wish to copulate?) We are not unique in that respect; we share that urge with all other animals. Without that urge, we would die out as a species.

The religious far right objects to abortion and in large part to contraception. They are not big fans of unmarried women having children either. The only way these three notions can exist in the same brain is to entertain the notion that society somehow ought to regulate the private sexual behavior of young people women. (Does this ironic use of HTML suggest to you the origin of the double standard?)

One would think that the religious far right would approve of homosexual behavior, because this arguably advances all of their principles referred to above. Gay and lesbian behavior by its very nature does away with any worries about abortion, contraception, and unwed mothers. If I were offered a solution to my top three worries I would eagerly embrace it. Oddly enough, the religious far right rejects this notion. Go figure.

What is the vision of the religious far right, and should we consider accepting it or should we reject it? Let's put it all together. The only consistent position I can imagine is that they wish to somehow prevent young people from having sex of any kind unless they are married to a member of the opposite sex. They not only believe this, but they want the government to enforce these theological beliefs with legislation.

On the other hand, I believe that sexual or reproductive behavior of any kind, whether solitary or between consenting adults, is beyond the bounds of government to permit, regulate, or forbid.

Which of these two views makes sense in a free society?