Just in time to piss all over Black History Month, right-wing nutbag and unjust Justice Antonin Scalia has characterized the Voting Rights Act as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement”. Of course, normal people know that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought protections from impediments to voting that resulted in the disenfranchisement of black voters througout much of the country. By characterizing the right to vote as a “racial entitlement”, Scalia denigrates the legacy of martyrs to the cause of civil rights such as James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. By characterizing the right to vote as an entitlement, Scalia denigrates the legacy of all of those who fought for the expansion of suffrage. Here is the text of Scalia’s jaw-dropping statement:
Well, maybe it was making that judgment, Mr. Verrilli. But that’s — that’s a problem that I have. This Court doesn’t like to get involved in — in racial questions such as this one. It’s something that can be left — left to Congress.
The problem here, however, is suggested by the comment I made earlier, that the initial enactment of this legislation in a — in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear was — in the Senate, there — it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term.
Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it. And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.
I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.
That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have. It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose — they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.
Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?
Well, evidently, something knocked Erick Erickson off his ass on the road to DC. As a result, the author of such journalistic low-points as:
- comparing an Obama Administration official to a Nazi
- asking if President Obama was shagging hookers behind the media’s back (guess he didn’t get the memo about Obama being gay)
- referring to Michelle Obama as a “Marxist Harpy”
- calling former Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester”
- and oh, so much more . . .
has now become an advocate for journalistic integrity, forcing the rest of us to set aside our regular business and ponder that age-old question of whether or not a mean-spirited, conservative hack can grow up to become a contributing member of society.
A short clip of this Stones song was featured in “Argo.” The lyrics are obviously the result of a prolonged heroin binge, but the song rocks nonetheless:
In a comment on an Oscars thread yesterday, Robin G praised “Moonrise Kingdom.” I’d been meaning to see it and finally did last night. Awesome movie—highly recommended—and thanks for reminding me of it, Robin G: It was exactly the thing I needed to see.
Why People Hate the Government
My teenage daughter will soon go on a class trip that involves a domestic flight. Among the many neuroses her father and I share is an aversion to flying, but we try not to allow our eccentricities to completely dominate our child’s life, which is some of the hardest work in parenting. However, our ignorance of the demands of modern air travel nearly put the kibosh on a trip for which we’d already paid $1,400 (non-refundable!).
We foolishly assumed minors accompanied by fellow students, teachers and chaperones on a school-sponsored class trip would be allowed to board a winged bus to a destination within the United States with only common forms of identification like a student ID card and birth certificate. Not so; now, even a child must have an official state ID card from the DMV to board a plane. (Because of 9/11? If so, that’s reason enough to take a scuba trip to the North Arabian Sea, find Osama bin Laden’s skull and fashion it into a poop-scoop.)
Anyhoo, we learned that to obtain an official state ID card, a kid must have a Social Security card or a specific printout from the Social Security Administration verifying her application for a Social Security card. The form containing the same information that is issued to new parents to enable them to deduct children from their taxes doesn’t count, or so I was told by the DMV.
To obtain the magical correct form, one must have many additional forms of ID, which may or may not be acceptable to the person at SSA who ultimately reviews it. County school district vaccination records are considered a kind of gold standard, though. I learned this after finally reaching a human being following multiple excursions into the SSA’s hellish, circular automated call menu, which is designed to automatically dump callers if too many other luckless supplicants are in queue, a situation that is apparently the case 90% of the time.
Thus it came to pass that the kid and I took a day off of school and work last week and visited the Three Circles of Bureaucratic Hell in a nearby city. First we sat in the overflow holding area at the county health department to secure the vaccination records, occupying a zone teeming with screaming toddlers, anxious children and nervous families applying for citizenship or refugee status.
Then we languished in the waiting room at the local branch of the Social Security Administration with many crabby elderly folks, some of whom seemed to be practicing outraged speeches to unleash on the indifferent heads of bureaucrats seated behind numbered, Plexiglass-barred window openings in a vast, echoing hall that would make a great set for a MiniTruth scene from “1984.”
After emerging from that ordeal limp and exhausted by ennui, we made our way to the DMV for another crushing round of paper-shuffling and waiting. All told, it took around seven hours (not counting transportation), which was actually less than I thought it would. But it occurred to me that perhaps the experience of being gnashed in the gears of bureaucratic machinery is a more potent driver of people’s reflexive hatred of government than I’d realized.
I’m a confirmed fan of Big Government. I don’t enjoy paying taxes any more than I look forward to dental work, but I understand the necessity of both. The only thing that pisses me off about my tax rate is that Mitt Romney pays a lower percentage, and I’d gladly exchange a larger chunk of my income for a Scandinavian-style social safety net.
But I flatter myself and the Balloon Juice / Rumproast communities by believing that we’ve thought this through more than Honey Boo Boo’s core audience has. To them, the silly hoop-jumping requirements, appalling run-arounds and astoundingly inefficient service on display at the customer-facing outlets of local, state and federal agencies are The Government. Which makes it easier to understand why assholes like Rand Paul get elected.
Maybe better customer service would help consign Reaganism to the political dung heap it so richly deserves? It’s a thought.
Please feel free to discuss movies, music, parenting, soulless bureaucracy or anything else. In other words, open thread.
Freshman senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is really starting to work my nerves and not in a good way. In a slow news cycle dominated by gridlock over fiscal things that none of us are expected to understand, a loudmouthed, showboating Senate newbie is as good as a train wreck to the media. I, myself, recently posted on Cruz and didn’t expect to be following up so soon, but, as the say in MSM “this is a developing story.”
As a result of the media’s comprehensive and exhaustive coverage of “Shit My Senator Says,” my first impression of Sen. Cruz is that he is an over-achiever with a ‘tude and an adolescent boy’s dedication to shock value. And, at a time in American politics that the bar for shock value has been set almost impossibly high, Cruz’s flamboyant debut has upped the ante.
I find people like Ted Cruz pretty fascinating. The combination of quantifiable intellectual talent cohabiting with mind-numbing idealogical orthodoxy is an enigma wrapped in a paradox and shrouded in a conundrum, to my mind. And so, I set out to find out a little bit more about what makes Senator Ted Cruz tick. And, frankly, I’m scared.
By which I mean, questioning the foundation of several centuries worth of scientific inquiry by providing students with the option of a “Build Your Own Bullshit” Bar at the old studiatorium we used to consider a classroom.
In biology class, public school students can’t generally argue that dinosaurs and people ran around Earth at the same time, at least not without risking a big fat F. But that could soon change for kids in Oklahoma: On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Common Education committee is expected to consider a House bill that would forbid teachers from penalizing students who turn in papers attempting to debunk almost universally accepted scientific theories such as biological evolution and anthropogenic (human-driven) climate change.
Gus Blackwell, the Republican state representative who introduced the bill, insists that his legislation has nothing to do with religion; it simply encourages scientific exploration. “I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks,” says Blackwell, who previously spent 20 years working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. “A student has the freedom to write a paper that points out that highly complex life may not be explained by chance mutations.”
HB 1674 is the latest in an ongoing series of “academic freedom” bills aimed at watering down the teaching of science on highly charged topics. Instead of requiring that teachers and textbooks include creationism—see the bill proposed by Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin—HB 1674’scrafters say it merely encourages teachers and students to question, as the bill puts it, the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of topics that “cause controversy,” including “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
If someone wants their kid to be a nice little coddled egg or shit-fed mushroom, why is it so difficult to just homeschool the little larva without trying to impose one’s vast ignorance on everyone else’s brat? I mean, really! Making up stuff as you go along is to science as drinking cleaning fluids found under mother’s sink is to eating. In other words—that’s just wrong, son. The freeedom to write a paper claiming that the earth is held up by an infinite number of turtles is the freedom to step out in traffic—just because you can, doesn’t make it right. To understand science is to be able to ably defend your propostition because it has been tested and you understand what the tests meant and what the results meant. Parroting back the bullshit you were raised with is no more science than a dog shaking hands means that the canine in question is attempting to introduce itself into human society—except that a dog, at least, might expect a treat. Or petting. But a child who parrots nonsense and expects an A for failing to be educated isn’t introducing hirself to science. That child is rejecting it. And is no more educated than a child who rejects spelling or claims 2x2=a million.
Making bullshit a law doesn’t make it anything more than bullshit. They might as well call ice cream a vegetable.
In an opinion piece yesterday for, who else, the Washington Post, Bob Woodward managed to come off as manipulative, petty and totally off the mark.
Titled “Obama’s sequester deal-changer” he rambles on about just who was responsible for the sequester thingamajig anyway:
Misunderstanding, misstatements and all the classic contortions of partisan message management surround the sequester, the term for the $85 billion in ugly and largely irrational federal spending cuts set by law to begin Friday.
What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?
And then goes on to pat himself on the back for his remarkable reporting that shows that Obama’s team originally proposed the idea. To which the only reasonable response is “who cares anyway?” Congress passed it. Everyone was responsible for it. What our intrepid analytic reporter completely glosses over is why the idea of a sequester was proposed in the first place. To hear Woodward tell it, it was just some mean trick that Obama wanted to play on an unwitting American public. Here is his sole reference to the situation in the second to the last paragraph of a piece taking up two pages:
In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.
During last year’s election, we and many others remarked on the possibly disastrous consequences of politicians believing the BS that the rightwing blogosphere and other online media peddle and parroting it in public, where occasionally more stringent evidential standards apply. It cost Mittens dear during the second Presidential Debate when his attempt to bully President Obama about when precisely he characterized the Benghazi attack as an act of terrorism backfired catastrophically and left him scraping egg off his coif.
On February 7, Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro reported that Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel (according to “Senate sources”) received money from a group called “Friends of Hamas.” The report spread quickly through the conservative media as damning of Hagel, until Dave Weigel at Slate.com pointed out a salient fact—there’s no evidence that “Friends of Hamas” exists. Now, New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman is claiming that a joke he shared with a GOP source is the provenance of “Friends of Hamas.” In response to their story falling apart, Shapiro and Breitbart.com—who angrily and self-righteously demand accountability from the rest of the media for every slip-up, real or imagined—are lashing out and refusing to accept responsibility for publishing a report based on a falsehood.
If Shapiro deserves credit for anything, it’s introducing us to a new meme about his oeuvre—”accurate and clearly caveated,” which translates as, “I pulled this out of somebody else’s ass, and I warned you it was probably bullshit at the time.” (It’s also led to much Twitter punnery on the lines of “Friends of Hummus” etc., to which the title of this post is a humble contribution.)
Meanwhile, the unspeakable John Nolte has been wearing out his iPhone in a desperate CYA campaign on Twitter. You can always tell when they’ve screwed up particularly badly because he goes postal.
Malkin’s Twitchyite horde have also been trying to comfort each other, distracting and covering their embarrassment by picking up on a brief minor omission by BuzzFeed’s Cat Correspondent Andrew Kaczynski.
There’s a conspicuous silence and lack of support for Shapiro on this issue from the rest of the RW blogs, some of whom, like Hugh Hewett, were also caught out, the buffoonery also ensnaring Rand Paul. Others are crediting the ‘bartlets et al. for fouling the pitch for their conspiracymongering and virtually ensuring Hagel’s appointment next Monday.
I may be premature and overly optimistic here, but the era of knitting your own reality seems to be drawing to a close. Will Republicans ever learn to factcheck before shooting their mouths off on the basis of the nonsense their online organs churn out? I hope not.
This morning I came across a down-to-earth, plain-spoken little gem of bloggage that made my day. It was posted under the intriguing title: If you Were John Boehner, Your Ass Would Be Fired. Who could resist? The post was written by a lady named Sandy Hingston who, it turns out, is a senior editor at Philadelphia magazine right here in my own backyard.
Imagine that every day, when you went to your job, you spent the entire time thwarting everything your co-workers and your boss did. Imagine that you took every opportunity possible to undermine them: You badmouthed them to the media, you interfered with their projects, you didn’t show up for meetings, you even stole their lunches out of the office fridge. Imagine that when they came to you for help, you shouted at them and called them names. Imagine that when they came up with new ideas, you shot those ideas down, said, “What, are you crazy? That will never work.” When they issued press releases about the great things your company was doing, you issued press releases that said your company was doing crappy.
How long do you think you’d last, working for that company and that boss?
“Anyone ever hear of pocket tweet, pocket dial? I mean it was pretty simple, you know. I have an iPhone 5. If anyone has an iPhone 5, the keys are small,” Brown told Boston’s FOX 25. “It’s very, very sensitive.”
He said his daughter had been teaching him how to use Facebook and Twitter, but “there are some areas that I didn’t really understand.”
“It was after her concert, we were here right in the living room and I responded to a couple of people. And then I put it in my pocket,” he said.
One of the tweets — “bqhatevwr” — quickly became a meme and was widely mocked.
“The next thing, I wake up and I said — it trended worldwide. Worldwide trending on a pocket tweet,” he said.
FOX 25’s Maria Stephanos then asked whether the tweets were just a mistake. “What else would it be?” he replied.
Okay, player—what else could they be? Let’s stipulate you were sober, because, really, I don’t care who drinks and who doesn’t, because I get ‘faced now and again, my ownself. Maybe you just had a case of the fumblefingers, typo’d, and then made Tweets you didn’t have to explain because, duh, just Tweets.
Instead, we get an explanation about asspocket-dialing. On an iPhone 5. Now, I have an Android phone myself, but it does have one of those touchpad deals. It doesn’t even recognize my dry-skinned fingers unless I’ve used a little lotion. They aren’t so weirdly receptive that you can post nonsense handsfree—and even if you could—it would be nonsense. Although there was this one time I nearly texted pi to the tenth decimal place with my butt. It was all like:
And I’m like “That’s random—except if that was pi, it would be ‘3.1415926535’—I thought my ass knew math!” and it was when I had a phone with an actual, not virtual keyboard, and I might have been tipsy like erryone else in the club, oh yeah, and I made that up because you can’t ass-dial a nearly statistically improbable series of numbers anymore than you could a nearly-English language Tweet. So, like, why front, Brown?
Unless, as is the contention of, I believe, most of us here at Rumproast, this Scott Brown guy just ain’t bright. Thus, “Bqhatevwr” has become one of our tags to symbolize not-bright things conservatives say. And I thought I would throw this down about the legend of Brown because he may resurface as a gubernatorial candidate in MA or something. And our auld acquaintance with this knob shouldn’t be forgot. So bqhatevwer for auld lang syne, my dears. His ridicule is just and deserved.
Since embarking on my Mad Scientists of the Laboratories of Democracy series, I have been wrestling with an existential dilemma that I’m sure will sound familiar to most readers, that is: When faced with monolithic human stupidity is it best to back slowly and quietly away, so as not to induce an escalation to barking madness -or- does one have a responsibility to stop and try to help?
Today’s case study involves Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R- Dixieland), who has been serving the good people of Alabama, in their state legislature, for close to fourteen years now. Being a God-fearing, well-bred southern lady of refined sensibilities, Rep. McClurkin despairs of the fact that girls, these days, have far too many options when it comes to their lady parts.
The more things change, the more they stay the same . . . especially if you’re a Republican. Take brand new Senator Ted Cruz, for example. Ted Cruz career trajectory is a thing of beauty, the stuff American Dreams are made of. Smart-as-a-whip Cuban-Irish-Italian boy works hard, goes to Princeton where he becomes a national debating champion, then on to a magna cum laude degree from Harvard Law, followed by a Supreme Court clerkship to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Cruz was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.
From there it was a short hop to a post as Texas Solicitor General. Cruz was the first Hispanic Solicitor General in Texas, the youngest Solicitor General in the United States, and had the longest tenure—2003-2008—in the post thus far in Texas history.
When Kay Bailey Hutchinson retired from her Senate post, Cruz won his party’s nomination to replace her and entered the world of US politics-writ-large. Cruz won TEA Party and Republican Liberty Caucus endorsements and went on to defeat GOP establishment choice, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, in a Republican primary runoff. He then beat his Democratic opponent, Paul Sadler, handily in the November 6, 2012 general election for the Senate seat.
A flawlessly executed blueprint for achieving the American Dream, eh? But nothing that a case of seriously arrested development can’t F-up.
See, Ted Cruz has an ego the size of his home state and not a clue how to play well with others. Cruz doesn’t even seem to realize that there are “others”—he’s on the stage, in the spotlight, utterly alone. He’s the brainiac with no common sense and even less politesse, we’ve all known one. But Cruz may very well have reached his apogee and be fixing to crash and burn as a fascinated America looks on.
At a time when the Republican brand is so fragile that even the so-called Young Guns are keeping a lower profile, a loose cannon like Ted Cruz does nothing but confirm the general public’s already unflattering opinion of Republican politicians. Cruz is exactly the wrong man to help resurrect the troubled GOP and, in a rare show of bipartisan agreement, his Senate colleagues are beginning to agree that Cruz is a BIG problem.
You know, I’ve been percolating over a long-form thing about FreedomWorks, and the revelation that the whole Tea Party notion is a decade-long bit of Astroturf cooked up between the cancer-denialists of Big Tobacco and the Koch brothers, which is all of a piece with the unifying theory of modern conservatism (“Grifters gotta grift”), but you know what? Forget it. That could be a book, someday. In the meanwhile, I think this is as insightful a glimpse into the mentality of these Kochtopi as anything you could find:
Some FreedomWorks staffers worried last year about a promotional video created ahead of FreePAC, a FreedomWorks conference held on July 26, 2012, where thousands of conservative grassroots activists nearly filled the American Airlines Center in Dallas to hear from tea party favorites, including Glenn Beck and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). The short film hailing FreedomWorks was intended to play on the large video screens inside the arena.
In one segment of the film, according to a former official who saw it, Brandon is seen waking from a nap at his desk. In what appears to be a dream or a nightmare, he wanders down a hallway and spots a giant panda on its knees with its head in the lap of a seated Hillary Clinton and apparently performing oral sex on the then-secretary of state. Two female interns at FreedomWorks were recruited to play the panda and Clinton. One intern wore a Hillary Clinton mask. The other wore a giant panda suit that FreedomWorks had used at protests to denounce progressives as panderers. (See here, here, and here.) Placing the panda in the video, a former FreedomWorks staffer says, was “an inside joke.”
Another FreedomWorks staffer who worked there at the time confirms that “Yes, this video was created.”
Uh. Huh. A very serious conservative advocacy group, indeed.
On Planet Earth this morning, my family and I got up, breakfasted on scrambled eggs, toast, coffee and orange juice. Then my husband left for work, and shortly thereafter, I drove my daughter to school and came back home.
At no point during our morning routine were we required to employ an AR-15 to lay withering cover fire to repel the menacing gangs of Latin American drug lords who threatened to accost us as we moved from home to chicken coop, from house to vehicle or from vehicle to school building or workplace. That’s because we don’t live in Wayne LaPierre’s Insane World [warning—link to Bowtied Wingnuttia]:
It has always been sensible for good citizens to own and carry firearms for lawful protection against violent criminals who prey on decent people.
During the second Obama term, however, additional threats are growing. Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.
At some point today, I’m going to have to visit the grocery store, and if I somehow emerge from that riotous hellscape of looters and drug-addled violent criminals unscathed, it’s entirely possible that al Qaeda terrorists will murder me in the parking lot to steal my 2001 Beetle or my green bag containing pet food and a baguette:
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
Yes, law-abiding citizens who want to model responsible behavior must purchase additional firearms, because 300 million guns clearly isn’t enough:
We will not surrender. We will not appease. We will buy more guns than ever. We will use them for sport and lawful self-defense more than ever. We will grow the NRA more than ever. And we will be prouder than ever to be freedom-loving NRA patriots. And with your help, we will ensure that the Second Amendment remains America’s First Freedom.
We will Stand And Fight.
Honest to god, if the only danger was that these people would accidentally shoot their own dicks off, this would be positively comedic. But this insane death huckster has a controlling interest in many of our congresscritters. Goddammit, fellow sane people, this needs to change.
I just am not up to putting together a critique of Obama’s pretty darn good SOTU speech, which addressed climate change, gun control, and raising the minimum wage—all things quite timely and appropriate; nor am I concerned with poor Senator Marco Rubio’s long day, which started with voting against VAWA and ended with a speech where he complained that the President (who mentioned lowering the deficit, like a million times) was trying to create bigger government and boo-hoo’d over the notion that any Democratic president might ascribe motives to the GOP based on the logical outcomes of their policies as opposed to assuming in good faith that they believed their talking points. I just want to focus on what everyone will focus on, and are already all about on the Twitter engines:the Big Sip.
It’s a thing of so much awkwardness, and the water bottle is so tiny. He moves in for it like maybe, if he moves fast enough, we won’t even notice he had a case of cottonmouth and naturally, took a drink during a speech (LIKE PEOPLE DO!). (JUST NOT SO AWKWARDLY!)
Anyone want to share their impressions? Open thread.