Who is to blame for the current chaos in the Republican party?

I love it when Charles Pierce cuts loose.

For four decades now, ever since Ronald Reagan fed it the monkeybrains in the 1980, hitching his party to the snake-oil of supply-side economics and to the sad remnants of white supremacy, often as expressed through an extremist splinter of American Protestantism, the Republican Party has been afflicted with the prion disease that now has blossomed into utter public madness. That’s the story everyone was too blind, stupid, or afraid to tell. You know who in the media really created He, Trump? Anyone who laughed at Ronald Reagan’s casual relationship with the truth and with empirical reality. Anyone who blew off Iran-Contra. Anyone who draped C-Plus Augustus in a toga after 9/11. Anyone who cast Newt Gingrich as a serious man of ideas. Anyone who cast Paul Ryan as an economic savant, that’s who. Anyone who wrote admiring profiles of how shrewd Lee Atwater and Karl Rove were. Anyone who put Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck on the cover of national magazines based simply on their ratings. Anyone who put Matt Drudge on a public-affairs program. Anyone who watched the conservative movement, the only animating force the Republican party has, drive the party further and deeper into madness, they are the ones who share the blame. He, Trump merely has taken the bark off ideas that were treated as legitimate for far too long by far too many people, most of whom don’t really give a damn about the plight of the vanishing middle class except for its use as fuel for rage-based, self-destructive politics.

I could not believe it when that dopey clown Reagan got elected — that bozo should have been slapped down before he became governor of California. I was even more appalled when the dopier, clownier W got elected, and once again, I was wondering why the media just peddled it as a great way to sell advertising minutes on the news. And now…

Limbaugh and Beck and Drudge and Breitbart continue to be treated as oracles into the guts of the American psyche, and have become the American psyche.

I can’t even bear to watch the network pundits any more. When David Brooks is treated as if he’s the serious, sane one, we’re done.

Even our Republicans are better than yours

I’ve been bragging about the progressive Democrats we have here in Minnesota: Dayton, Klobuchar, Franken, for instance. But sometimes even our Republicans surprise me.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey is breaking from leading Republican presidential candidates after controversial remarks about Muslims by Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Downey spoke at “Muslim Day at the Capitol” last week after deadly attacks in Brussels by Islamic terrorist group ISIL. The attacks prompted Trump and Cruz to call for closer scrutiny of Muslims to protect the country from dangerous extremists.

The GOP chairman, who spoke at the annual event for the first time, quoted extensively from letters he exchanged with Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota and an organizer of the discussion. Downey told the audience that “the political debate occurring in this context unfortunately is severely hampered by a lack of knowledge about Islam and the Muslim community in America.”

I’m still not ever voting for them. But they’re taking steps in the right direction.

(Before 300 million people pack up and move to Minnesota, I’ll remind you all of the downsides. Cold. And mosquitoes. Also, occasional outbursts of accordion music.)

I knew the Trump2016 trauma was exaggerated

It’s become the standard trope: college students are whiny, delicate, over-sensitive wimps who can’t take the real world and demand safe spaces and trigger warnings. These complaints about students are usually made by ignorant jerks who don’t know any, and who will also be complaining about too PC and of course, the regressive Left, and before you know it, they’ve put all college folk into the cultural Marxist category. Those phrases are good tells to let you know you’re dealing with an idiot.

The latest cause célèbre for the regressive trolls is an incident at Emory University, in which someone scrawled “Trump 2016” on the sidewalk. As the right-wing twits tell it, the students were shocked and horrified and demanding protection from the administration, and the administration rushed to coddle them.

It was all a lie.

[Read more…]

The Bundy clan are filthy vandals

pooptrench

The people who occupied the Malheur refuge were more than just sanctimonious criminals — they were also disgusting. Here’s a gallery of photos illustrating the wreckage they left behind. They trashed the place. They wrecked the land. They disrespected the property of the people who worked at the refuge while demanding that their property rights were paramount.

That photo is of their legacy: a shit-filled trench.

That’s how I’ll always remember the Bundys.

North Carolina: You suck.

The Republicans are flailing about to promote their regressive social agenda, and they’re succeeding, at least temporarily. While we’re all distracted by the spectacle of presidential elections, they’ve managed to control legislatures and governorships in many states, and that means they get to push through all kinds of ugly laws.

So North Carolina has passed a ‘bathroom law’, which seems to be the new strategy for getting public approval of odious legislation. They’re making sure men don’t get to sneak into women’s restrooms, how can you disagree with that? Well, I can, but appealing to modesty and privacy works as a great stalking horse when what you’re really about is oppressing minorities. The NC bill isn’t just about regulating bathrooms.

McCrory’s statement and tweets tonight only mention the so-called “bathroom issue” – but in fact the bill excludes LGBT citizens from protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations. The bill also overturns not only the LGBT rights bill in Charlotte, it repeals similar laws in eight other North Carolina municipalities.

McCrory also keeps emphasizing that it is a “bipartisan” bill. There were a few Democrats who voted for it initially, but how can you call it bipartisan when every Democrat in the senate walked out on the vote in protest? It seems to me that that is kind of the opposite of bipartisan support.

So not only are they passing oppressive legislation, they are constantly lying about it. Business as usual for the Republicans, I guess.

Remember this next fall. The election isn’t just about the highest office in the land, it’s also about the entire poisonous nest of scumbags at every level of government. Vote the Republicans out. Don’t even let a professed Republican be elected to dogcatcher.


jpsheffield

A nice twist on the North Carolina law: see this manly bearded fellow? He’s a transgender man. He’s now required by law to use women’s restrooms in North Carolina.

It’s going to be spectacular, what with all the conservative crania exploding, when someone tries to prevent him from entering the room the law says he must use.

I’m sure there are also transgender women who are going to blow everyone’s mind when they use the men’s room. The proponents are all thinking about enforcing strict gender norms, and they’ve just taken an action that is going to make all the people who don’t fit in their narrow little boxes more prominent.

The War on Bathrooms

It’s getting ridiculous. Now Minnesota Republicans have teamed up to propose a bill outlawing gender-neutral bathrooms. Why are Republicans so obsessed with bathrooms? I don’t know. Personally, I can’t get worked up about where someone carries out excretion, as long as they’re discreet and don’t make a mess.

A striking fourty-four Republicans have cosponsored a bill in the Minnesota House that would block businesses and other employers from providing gender-neutral restrooms or from enacting policies that allow transgender employees to use appropriate restrooms. The bill, like one introduced in the Minnesota Senate on Friday, amends the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the nation’s first nondiscrimination law barring discrimination based on gender identity.

HF 3374 and its identical counterpart HF 3395 defines “sex” as “A person’s sex is either male or female as biologically defined.” The bill does not mention people who fall outside the male-female binary such as those who are intersex, nor those whose sex designations have been legally changed under Minnesota law.

I’m a biologist, and I don’t know how to unambiguously define every person’s sex. Chromosomes? Genitals? Those can give conflicting messages. Culturally, sex is a behavior and an attitude, and that doesn’t align well with the signs labeling bathroom doors. Should I only pee in the presence of people who don’t want to have sex with me? That’s easy — 99.9999% of the human race can share a bathroom with me. And that rare 0.0001% who do would include both men and women. Shall we also prohibit gay men from using men’s rooms? (I shouldn’t say that — Republicans might think that’s a dandy idea for more oppressive legislation.)

Fortunately, this is Minnesota, where the Republicans are a minority, and I suspect that not only will it fail to get out of the legislature, but if it does, our Democratic governor will veto it.

Chaos/Savagery and the elimination of Grey Zones

I’ve been reading Scott Atran to try to figure out what is going on with these attacks in Europe, and he has some important insights. What are their goals? To eliminate the Grey Zone and polarize nations. They win when they isolate immigrant populations.

The core strategy outlined in the ISIS playbook, The Management of Chaos-Savagery (Idarat at-Tawahoush, required reading for every ISIS political, religious and military leader, or amir), is to fill the void wherever chaos already exists, as in much of the Sahel and Sahara, and create chaos that can be filled as in Europe.

In reality, today’s Brussel attacks represented just the latest, ever more effective, installment for fomenting chaos in Europe and thereby “Extinguish the Grey Zone,” along the lines of 12-page editorial published in ISIS’s online magazine Dabiq in early 2015. ‘The Grey ZOne’ describes the twilight area occupied by most Muslims between good and evil – in other words, between the Caliphate and the Infidel, which the ‘blessed operations of September 11’ brought into relief. The editorial quotes Osama bin Laden, for whom ISIS is the true heir: ‘The world today is divided. Bush spoke the truth when he said, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists”’, with the actual ‘terrorist’ being the Western Crusaders. Now, ‘the time had come for another event to… bring division to the world and destroy the Grayzone.’A welcome to Syrian refugees would clearly represent a winning response to this strategy, whereas wholesale rejection of refugees just as clearly represents a losing response to ISIS. We might wish to celebrate diversity and tolerance in the grayzone, but the general trend in Europe and the majority of the US political establishment and population is to collude in erasing it.

The following are axioms drawn from The Management of Chaos-Savagery (Idarat at-Tawahoush, required reading for every ISIS political, religious and military leader, or amir), and from the February 2015 editorial in Dabiq (online ISIS publication), on “The Extinction of the Gray Zone.” ISIS’s actions have been, and likely will continue to be, consistent with these axioms:

Diversify the strikes and attack soft targets – tourist areas, eating places, places of entertainment, sports events, and so forth — that cannot possibly be defended everywhere. Disperse the infidels’ resources and drain them to the greatest extent possible, and so undermine people’s faith in the ability of their governments to provide security, most basic of all state functions.

· Motivate the masses to fly to regions that we manage, by eliminating the “Gray Zone” between the true believer and the infidel, which most people, including most Muslims, currently inhabit. Use so-called “terror attacks” to help Muslims realize that non-Muslims hate Islam and want to harm all who practice it, to show that peacefulness gains Muslims nothing but pain.

· Use social media to inspire sympathizers abroad to violence. Communicate the message: Do what you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are, whenever possible.

I suspect that ISIS is planning a coordinated attack across multiple cities in Europe to ramp up the process of extinguishing the gray zone, and to also shift the focus of its possible adherents away form its increasingly noteworthy military containment in Syria and Iraq.

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Brussels attacked

There has been another terrorist attack in Europe, in Brussels.

A series of deadly terrorist attacks struck Brussels on Tuesday, with two explosions at the city’s main international airport and a third in a subway station at the heart of the city, near the headquarters complex of the European Union.

At least 11 people were killed at the airport, according to news agencies, and the city’s transit agency said 15 were killed in the subway bombing. More than 130 others were reported wounded. At least one of the two airport explosions was touched off by a suicide bomber, officials said.

The attacks, a vivid illustration of the continued threat to Europe, occurred four days after the capture on Friday of Europe’s most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam. He is the sole survivor of the 10 men believed to have been directly involved in the attacks that killed 130 people in and around Paris on Nov. 13.

The death toll is still going up; I’ve just heard that 20 were killed on the subway, and 14 in the airport explosion.

This is a horrific attack, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were connected to Abdeslam’s gang of fanatics, since he was captured in Brussels. The people responsible must be tracked down and arrested, but I would hope that we can all retain the civilized values that the terrorists are trying to destroy. That means not abandoning the law — Donald Trump is already advocating more torture. It means focusing on the perpetrators, and not tormenting the innocent.

I fear already that this event will be used to excuse doing great harm to Muslims who were not involved and deplore the bombings as much as I do.