The courts giveth, and the courts taketh away

While we’ve all been pleased to see the courts enforcing minority rights by striking down restrictions on same sex marriage, the flip side also happens: the Supreme Court has now ruled that abortion protesters can’t be restricted by a ‘buffer zone’ around clinics. Their rationale is some nonsense about “sidewalk counseling”.

Some of the individuals who stand outside Massachusetts abortion clinics are fairly described as protestors, who express their moral or religious opposition to abortion through signs and chants or, in some cases, more aggressive methods such as face-to-face confrontation. Petitioners take a different tack. They attempt to engage women approaching the clinics in what they call “sidewalk counseling,” which involves offering information about alternatives to abortion and help pursuing those options. Petitioner Eleanor McCullen, for instance, will typically initiate a conversation this way: “Good morning, may I give you my literature? Is there anything I can do for you? I’m available if you have any questions.” If the woman seems receptive, McCullen will provide additional information. McCullen and the other petitioners consider it essential to maintain a caring demeanor, a calm tone of voice, and direct eye contact during these exchanges. Such interactions, petitioners believe, are a much more effective means of dissuading women from having abortions than confrontational methods such as shouting or brandishing signs, which in petitioners’ view tend only to antagonize their intended audience. In unrefuted testimony, petitioners say they have collectively persuaded hundreds of women to forgo abortions.

So the court recognizes that many protesters use “aggressive methods”, but they side with the sweet little lady who claims to be kindly offering pamphlets, rather than with the women who are being frightened away from medical care. If there is a buffer zone, poor Ms McCullen is denied her right to be condescending, but if there is no buffer zone, patients are denied the right to seek legal medical treatment without harassment.

I fail to see how this “unrefuted” claim that their tactics of suppression actually work is relevant to their claim that their right to lie to patients trumps the patients’ rights to care.

But I wonder how the court deals with the stark reality that abortion clinics need volunteer clinic escorts to help women get through the lines of shouting protesters? Isn’t the fact of their existence evidence that there is a problem with access? Apparently not. The escorts are the problem.

…theBoston clinic uses “escorts” to greet women as they approach the clinic, accompanying them through the zones to the clinic entrance. Petitioners claim that the escorts sometimes thwart petitioners’ attempts to communicate with patients by blocking petitioners from handing literature to patients, telling patients not to “pay any attention” or “listen to” petitioners, and disparaging petitioners as “crazy.”

It’s clear where the judges’ sympathies lie.

It’s great when the courts are on the side of justice, but not so great when you’ve got bought & paid-for clowns of the reactionary right, like Roberts and Scalia, calling the shots.


This is amusing. The Supreme Court is surrounded by a rather restrictive barrier.

scotusbarrier

But what if I want to give the justices some ‘sidewalk counseling’?

Joining the ranks of great American masters of the English language

Twain and Webster, Lincoln and King, every past paragon of the American idiom, are sighing in their graves right now, because Sarah Palin has announced her desire to split the Republican party in two.

Well if Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung-ho about getting more Republicans in there? We need people who understand the beauty of…. the value of … allowing  free market to thrive. Otherwise our country is going to be continued to be over-regulated, driving industry away, driving jobs away. We’re going to be a bankrupt, fundamentally transformed country unless those who know what they’re doing, and aren’t going along just to get along with those in power, it being today the Democrats. That does no good. So yeah if Republicans aren’t going to stand strong on the planks in our platform then it does no good to get all enthused about them anymore.

While I applaud her desire to take the Tea Party on a lovely ride off the cliff of irrelevance, to explode in a cloud of futility on impact with reality, I regret that she’s doing her damnedest to drag the language to hell with her.

Human beings seeking a better life

That’s what I see in this boatload of immigrants trying to reach Italy.

Italian navy rescue asylum seekers

There have been several mass drownings recently, and the Italian navy is trying to rescue people. It’s not clear from the article what they do with them — are they granted asylum in Italy? Or sent back? Or parked in a refugee camp?

Or possibly worse. Although it can’t be worse than what the US has been doing. Mass graves of migrants have been found in Texas.

Unidentified migrants who died entering the United States were buried in mass graves in a South Texas cemetery, with remains found in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags, or no containers at all, researchers discovered.

In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another instance, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other, Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker said. Skulls were found in biohazard bags — like the red plastic bags in receptacles at doctors’ offices — placed between coffins.

This is not a discovery of a tragedy in the distant past — these are bodies that have accumulated since 2005, and it’s the product of an ongoing practice by a funeral home that was paid to dispose of the bodies. Dispose of them like trash, apparently.

Human beings deserve better.

Further evidence that Republicans have signed the divorce papers from reality

South Dakota Republicans are demanding the impeachment of Obama.

The South Dakota Republican Party passed a resolution on Saturday calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama.

Delegates at the party’s annual convention in Rapid City voted 191-176 in favor of the measure, which claims that the president has "violated his oath of office in numerous ways," according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

They cite the exchange of Bowe Bergdahl and Obamacare as violations of his oath of office. At least it’s slightly reassuring that a bit less than half the Republicans in attendance voted against the silly measure.

Let’s just call them traitors

The religious right has been having a grand old time at the Faith and Freedom Conference this past weekend. Some of it is laughable, like this decorative addition to the urinals at the venue.

obamaurinal

That’s silly and stupid, but part of the usual political discourse. I’d have been happy to piss on Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush myself — but I’d also recognize that this isn’t the way to win elections.

This is worse. Bobby Jindal is delusional.

Are we witnessing right now the most radically, extremely liberal, ideological president of our entire lifetime right here in the United States of America, or are we witnessing the most incompetent president of the United States of America in the history of our lifetimes? You know, it is a difficult question, he said. I’ve thought long and hard about it. Here’s the only answer I’ve come up with, and I’m going to quote Secretary Clinton: `What difference does it make?’

Obama is neither radical, nor liberal, nor particularly ideological. He’s also not a socialist, nor is he a Kenyan. Obama is a middle-of-the-road, right-of-center, conservative Democrat who has not done anything particularly dramatic while in office. Even Obamacare, which has Republicans chewing the scenery everywhere, was a compromise. Every time some nutcake on the right screams Socialist! it just convinces me further that no one of that party should be in office — we need real solutions to real problems, not this imaginary tribalism.

This is worser. Jindal wants to foment rebellion.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for a hostile takeover of the nation’s capital.

Jindal spoke at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed. Organizers said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders attended the three-day gathering. Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical voters continue to play a critical role in GOP politics.

I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States, Jindal said, where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.

That’s all we need: an army of fanatical and self-righteous gun nuts fanned into fury by supposedly responsible leaders of a political party marching on DC for a hostile takeover. Fantasy is sequeing into visions of violence.

Perhaps the Secret Service ought to have a little conversation with Mr Jindal about the legality of encouraging sedition.

Louie Gohmert really is the dumbest man in congress

And when the dumbest Christians collides with one of the smartest Christians I know, the contrast is dazzling. Here’s Gohmert grilling Barry Lynn on proper Christian beliefs. Apparently, he doesn’t want to judge — only God can do that, he piously declaims — but he does want Lynn to declare that all non-Christians are condemned to Hell right this minute. Don’t ask me how that simultaneously judgmental and non-judgmental thing is supposed to work, I think you have to have a gigantic hole in your brain to accommodate both views at once.

And it’s true that even when talking to a swarm of atheists, Lynn doesn’t hide the fact that he’s a Christian minister.

Girl criticizes math ability of old man

But…but…everyone knows that girls suck at math. So how can Christie Wilcox batter George Will’s out-of-his-ass math calculation so thoroughly? This cannot be.

I have a theory, which is mine, that Republicans have been experiencing many generations of selection for stupidity. This theory makes a prediction that newer Republicans ought to be significantly stupider than older Republicans. I know what you’re thinking: George Will is pretty damned stupid. How could they get worse and still manage to reproduce?

But here’s a case in point. Eric Cantor, also pretty damned stupid. But is he stupider than George Will? Well, that is debatable, but we do know that he’s stupid enough to get defeated by a teabagger in a landslide. And one thing we know for sure, his challenger, Dave Brat really is incredibly stupid.

As for the winner, Brat seems a very bad combination of serious religious quester and devout Randian economist, a combination that would have had Ms. Rand herself reaching for the opium pipe. He got his undergraduate degree at Hope College in Michigan, which is run by the Reformed Church in the United States, a conservative evangelical wing of the United Church Of Christ. He then got a Masters in Divinity at Princeton, which is a very conservative seminary and now, according to his website, Dave attends St. Mary’s Catholic Church with his wife Laura and their two children: Jonathan, 15 and Sophia, 11. So either he’s a Douthatian convert, god help us, or his faith is all over the lot, which may account for his rather startling announcement last night that he won because God was speaking through the voters of the Seventh Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

So far, my hypothesis is confirmed. Rather strongly confirmed. I predict that by 2020 the Republican establishment will be plucking up dying earthworms on the sidewalk after a rain and running them for high office as intellectual superstars.

And then Christie Wilcox will just have to sit there, stunned into silence, rather than running circles around Republicans who try to do elementary arithmetic. That’ll teach her.

Texas Republicans setting a bad example

You really must read the temporary Texas Republican Party platform for 2014. They have a clear vision for the future of America, and it is a hellhole. I skimmed through it this morning and there was much to fill me with dismay and amusement, all at the same time.

Socialism breeds mediocrity. America is exceptional. Therefore, the Republican Party of Texas opposes socialism, in all of its forms.

We are special. Don’t you forget it.

Inasmuch as the Civil Rights Movement argued against using race as a factor in American life, affirmative action reintroduces race as a divisive force in American life. The Republican Party of Texas believes in equal opportunity for all citizens without regard to race or gender. Affirmative action casts doubt on minority achievement making such achievement as seemingly unearned. We believe that true minority advancement will come from a demand for personal responsibility, accountability and competitive excellence.

Racism is over.

While we all strive to be good stewards of the earth, “climate change” is a political agenda which attempts to control every aspect of our lives. We urge government at all levels to ignore any plea for money to fund global climate change or “climate justice” initiatives.

Texans prefer ideology over data, and the way to manage that is to declare all scientific evidence ideological.

We believe we are to be good stewards of our planet and thus manage the resources it provides. We believe that the changes in climate that we have observed are simply part of the ongoing natural planetary cycle; we reject the use of this natural process to promote more government regulation of the private economy. Furthermore we reject the idea of “climate justice” and the accompanying redistribution of wealth that comes with accepting it.

“Climate Justice”…it’s bad. This reminds me of the kooks who belittle social justice — apparently, just as adding the word “family” to anything makes it praiseworthy, “justice” is a dirty word to the regressive right.

We urge amendment of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send the government any personal information about their contributors.

This is the “protect religious privilege harder” platform.

We oppose calling welfare and other income and product redistribution schemes “rights” or “entitlements”. We know that fundamental human rights are inherent to individuals and are granted by God and are protected by the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. They are not products of others labor. Unalienable rights, such as life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, property rights, free speech, religious freedom, self-defense, etc. do not impose on others rights whereas income and product redistribution invariably do so.

Any kind of social safety net is unconstitutional — suffer and die, losers, I got mine and you don’t get any of it.

We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Ten Commandments or other religious symbols.

Satanic statues are therefore OK. I’m fine with that.

We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman.

Texas must be suffering from a plague of unnatural people right now.

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.

Shame the gays.

You have to read the next two together:

We revere the sanctity of human life and therefore oppose genocide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.

Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate, is an effective deterrent, and should be swift and unencumbered.

Only some life has sanctity, I guess.

All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves, or their minor children, without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.

Yay! They’re going anti-vax!

We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty, which includes the contribution and assimilation of different racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the US and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism. Students have the right to display patriotic items on school property

Because forcing people to recite a loyalty oath automatically makes them loyal.

We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

The usual creationist boilerplate. “Strengths and weaknesses” is the give-away phrase.

America’s founding fathers wrote the 2nd amendment with clear intent – no level of government shall regulate either the ownership or possession of firearms. Therefore we strongly oppose all laws that infringe on the right to bear arms. We oppose the monitoring of gun ownership, the taxation and regulation of guns, ammunition, and gun magazines. We collectively urge the legislature to pass “constitutional carry” legislation whereby law-abiding citizens that possess firearms can legally exercise their God-given right to carry that firearm as well. Until such time we urge the state to re-introduce and pass legislation easing current restrictions on firearms such as open carry and campus carry. Stiff penalties shall be imposed for frivolous litigation against legitimate firearm manufacturers. All federal acts, laws, executive orders, and court orders which restrict or infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall be invalid in Texas, not be recognized by Texas, shall be specifically rejected by Texas, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in Texas. We urge the Texas Legislature to enact legislation to protect law-abiding firearms owners from having their right to bear arms infringed by federal agencies due to such minor mental health diagnoses as non-severe PTS (post-traumatic stress), seeking counseling for minor depression or other minor mental health diagnoses.

There’s a lot of gun stuff in here. Texans want to carry their guns with them everywhere they go.

We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations.

God magic!

Since data is clear that additional money does not translate into educational achievement, and higher education costs are out of control, we support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.

Wait…higher ed costs are out of control because state legislatures constantly whittle away all local support, so Texas will bring those costs under control by whittling harder?

We support the freedom to continue to use and manufacture incandescent light bulbs.

Fire good.

We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed

That only benefits poor people.

Our Founding Fathers warned us of the dangers of allowing central bankers to control our currency because inflation equals taxation without representation. We support the return to the time-tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar

This is why all the wacky grandpas who watch Glenn Beck get slammed with commercials about gold. Because they’re idiots.

This one is titled “Bilingual education”.

We encourage non-English speaking students to transition to English within
three years.

Shouldn’t that be renamed “Monolingual education”?

It’s only 40 pages of far right, Fox News-style, Libertarian bullshit (which makes it a little bit ironic that another of their points demands that bills shall be less than 30 pages). Read it and see where these loons want to take our country.

Democrats: You suck.

I made a donation to the Democratic party once. Little did I know that it would lead to a deluge of spam. I am now getting a dozen emails a day from dccc.org, and their latest tactic is fear. They all have subject lines like “All Hope is Lost”, “Painful Defeat”, “DEVASTATING Defeat”, “EVISCERATED”, “throw in the towel”, etc., etc., etc. And then when I open it up (which I rarely do anymore), it’s got some simple message in a giant font telling me there’s an important deadline right now for me to give them money. It seems to be a new imminent deadline every day.

I also get daily phone calls asking for money. At least I think that’s what they’re doing; I now look at the incoming source, and if it’s the Democrats, I don’t bother to pick up. And here I am, entirely sympathetic to that party (if dissatisfied with their conservatism), and I have a conditioned aversion now.

I’ve had enough. I can learn. And the moral I have learned is to never donate to the Democratic party.

Who’s the idiot behind this campaign? Is it actually working for them?

James O’Keefe finally accomplishes something

O’Keefe, who has made a career of stunts to mislead people about the Left’s political goals, has screwed up again. He tried to entrap an environmentalist documentarian, Josh Fox, by having one of his accomplices pose as an agent for a Saudi sheik, and trying to get Fox on tape accepting money from Big Oil interests. O’Keefe then appeared triumphantly on Fox News with a tiny sliver of a recording that has Fox saying one sentence that sounds like he’s willing. That was it.

We are familiar with what creationists do all the time, aren’t we, boys and girls? You know what we should immediately suspect Mr O’Keefe of doing, shouldn’t we? Quote-mining. Blatant editing. Unfortunately for him (although this won’t hurt his reputation, since everyone knows that if you look up Bumbling Sleazebags in the Yellow Pages, you can get O’Keefe’s number), Josh Fox recorded the full ten minute phone conversation. You can guess what’s on it: Josh Fox refusing to work for anyone without full transparency, and just generally finding the whole discussion suspicious and weird. O’Keefe tried to play gotcha, and instead Fox got him right back.

But there is good news. O’Keefe’s stunt and backfire got one happy result: I am now aware of Fox’s movie, Gasland, which is available on NetFlix right now for streaming. I’m going to watch it this weekend.

Say…if I were Alex Jones, I’d be wondering if James O’Keefe was a secret agent for the environmental movement who had just carried out a successful false flag event to raise awareness of the perils of fracking.