Saturday, February 2, 2013

I've Debunked Centuries Of Catholic Theology




That's it. It's over. I mean, there's also the massive criminal coverup. But I think this Twitter thing will really shock people.

UPDATE: The pope changed his tweet without comment! Obviously I am on that guy.

UPDATE #2: While we wait 500 years for an explanation, I'm going to start blogging about the equal humanity of gay people and the necessity for condoms in Africa. I now know the pope is reading my blog. Also, the role of women in the church, and...

UPDATE #3: Wait. The pope has 1.5 million readers. Is it even possible that any of them have noticed this first? Let me...

UPDATE #4: Yes. Yes, they noticed. A great number of people noticed. This is kind of embarrassing for me. But what can I say? I make mistakes. We all do. We're human.

Friday, February 1, 2013

At The Hagel Hearing, Two Old White Men Got Their Feelings Hurt



Like many Americans, I was deeply disturbed to watch Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing. What they discussed about the Iraq war, which killed more than 4,400 US troops and wounded almost 32,000, was something truly awful. Particularly when the two old white men got their feelings hurt.

A commentator on HuffPost Live described the exchange as a "damaging, horrifying hearing for Chuck Hagel." I completely agree. It was sad the way Chuck Hagel suffered. Brutal - I don't think that's too strong a word to describe the spectacle of someone who voted for a military operation in which American forces smashed a foreign government and in the chaos that followed more than a hundred thousand civilians died and two million became refugees... having to answer very hard questions. And even more heartbreaking - this is a trigger warning for those of you who've been US senators - the questions came from a former friend.

That's right. This grim article in the Washington Post - John McCain And Chuck Hagel Were Once BFFs. What happened? - explains it all for you. The two men bonded over their shared experience being rebels in the Republican party. But all that collapsed over disagreements - terrible, terrible disagreements - over a military action that resulted in far too many tragedies. Like this little girl's family being shot to death in front of her at a checkpoint. Or another checkpoint incident, in which coalition troops killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Or the surge in infants born with heart defects, deformed limbs, and brain damage from exposure to toxic materials from coalition assaults in Fallujah and Basra. And yes, like two people who served together in Congress being so angry at each other that they'd fight it out on national TV. When will we be able to put this behind us? Haven't people lost enough? Sadly, no. Because just within the last three weeks a string of bombings killed 60 people in Iraq, and Chuck Hagel might not even get the job he wanted.

Who Won The Chuck Hagel-John McCain Surge Fight? US News wants to know. Because when two powerful white men vote to send troops to war for reasons that completely evaporate, and involve dishonesty and incompetence at the highest levels of our government, and that war lasts almost a decade and kills hundreds of thousands of people, and then those two powerful men have an argument over how best to mitigate the damage they've caused, what everyone wants to know is who gets to say "I told you so," while cameras video them sitting in an expensive-looking room next to little glasses of water.

Obviously it's important to bring up the backstory, the fact that the two former allies served together in another war. And one of them dropped explosives on people from the air, and the other shot at them from the ground. But they both learned lessons. And they disagree about what those lessons are. It is a drama of two, exactly two, very wealthy men being sad and angry and generally inconvenienced as people die all around them. And this, we are told, is the tragedy of war.

Isn't it?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Message From A Woman Defending Her Babies With An AR-15

I don't have time to talk. These multiple intruders are breaking into my house, and I want to keep my cool so I can empty round after round into them as they pop into the room from windows, air ducts, and a hole in my floor. I just want to make it clear that I need an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine. Each one of these thugs is impossibly-muscled and hopped up on some kind of powerful street drug. Probably that zombie bath salt stuff I've been hearing about.

Excuse me. I had to execute a somersault over the buffet, give my toddler the sippy cup he dropped, and then whirl around and line up two assailants so I could kill them with one shot. My jumpsuit is torn and sweaty - and I'm very well-endowed, so this thing's almost coming off. One of the attackers leered at me, but I was able to crush his Adam's apple with a martial arts hand strike and finish him off with my katana before wasting his entire crew in the front parlor. Damn, I just cleaned that floor. Oh well. It's hard being a mother and a woman in today's America. But this AR-15 helps me do it all. It's important to help women get what they need to protect themselves and their families.

You know what would work even better? One of those prosthetic machine gun legs the chick had in the Tarantino movie. That would be awesome. I think I have the figure to pull it off, too.

Or maybe a Harry Potter wand. I could use it to zap all these dudes at once.

Or maybe a pet Manticore on a chain. Congress needs to stop regulating the Manticores I need to make my children safe.

Even cooler would be if I could make people's heads explode just by thinking about it.

I mean, as long as I am a completely fictional character - a combination of male fantasy and useful approximation of feminism for conservatives. And of course you'd need one or two women to sign on to this nonsense for the speech on TV. The same way you need to find a woman to back an extremist anti-choice position using the language of choice. Why do conservatives talking about women's issues always sound like Steve Carell's 40 year-old virgin trying to describe how a breast feels? Anyway, all this will work as long as you ignore the fact that 69 percent of women want tougher gun control. Or that the most recent FBI crime reports show that a murdered child is more likely to have been killed by a firearm than by any other weapon. Or that the NRA has spent decades fighting to suppress research so you won't know whether having a gun in the home actually makes you safer.

A mom defending her children with assault rifles. A militia protecting their homes from the military. Have you noticed how often the gun lobby depends on hypotheticals that sound like stupid action movies you've seen? But of course in the real world, the ugly one we have to live in, the NRA's power depends on boring, depressing things you already know about, like white fear and obscene amounts of campaign money. And in the real world the AR-15 is indeed a "light," "accurate" weapon that handles easily for engaging many targets. And most importantly, as Gayle Trotter said, it's a "scary-looking" weapon. In the middle of Trotter's delirious posturing she actually described why it's the perfect weapon for a mentally ill person to use in their awful role-playing exercise where they walk into a school and kill someone else's child. And then kill many, many more. But everyone's hoping if I sound dramatic enough, you won't think about that.

A magic spear. I'd like a magic spear. Wearing my fur bikini atop my dragon mount, I could swoop down on my enemies. I'd have to find someone to watch Porter and Jackson and Mackenzie. Maybe the elves could open a daycare. We need elf daycare in America. Less ridiculous political rhetoric would help. But elf daycare's crucial.

(Special Thanks To SH)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Message To Ann Coulter From A Labrador Puppy


I just do not like you.

It's hard to admit. Part of me is still trying to deny it. But it's true. Honestly, I can think about any single other person on this planet, and I only want to run around their ankles yipping at them happily and then nibble their hands with my cute little needle-sharp teeth. But somehow you are just not doing it for me.

Do you understand how bad this is? I am the most popular type of dog in the United States, because I'm never supposed to find a single thing wrong with people. Tens of thousands of years of evolution are working inside my adorable head trying to make me overlook your awfulness, so you can scratch my ear and give me a snausage. And then I just... I just look at that stupid, mean smirk on your face, and I want to take you down like prey, Discovery Channel-style. Really. Watching you open your yap on Fox News makes me feel like a failure.

Is it because of those hideous things you've said about Muslims? Or the way you made fun of those 9/11 widows? Or... God, I don't want to do the list. Everyone already knows the list. Here's the latest. You wrote it in a paint-by-numbers piece against gun control:

Expect to hear a lot about Republicans preferring "the gun lobby" to "children." (Which is evidently not at all like preferring the teachers lobby to children.)

I think socked feet are creatures that burrow inside shoes, but your words break my brain. Let's be clear: The teachers' lobby isn't trying to make it easier to shoot kids, right? You see the difference? Never mind. Of course you don't. Because you've spent more than a decade proving that you don't care how mindlessly sadistic you sound to everyone around you. People in the GOP are doing some soul-searching about how they can stop being "the stupid party." Tuning you out would be a good place to begin.

Okay, I'm going to go hide under the dresser and chew something to calm down. Normally I'm the least judgmental thing alive. But lady, you are garbage.

(Photo of Tara by NorwegianMarcus. Used under Creative Commons license; information here.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Life Begins At 40" Is A Terrible Slogan For Anti-Abortion Advocates

I feel like I shouldn't even need to explain this.

On their website the Family Research Council recently posted an article about how they're marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with the headline Life Begins At 40. I glanced at the piece:

For four decades, families have traveled over miles of wintry highways in the hope that their trips to Washington, D.C. will someday end--and with it, one of the darkest periods of... Okay, yeah, whatever, crazy people with the carnage posters. But your message here is not getting across. Because "Life Begins At 40" doesn't sound like a slogan. It sounds like a really serious policy change. It sounds like instead of trying to meet the feminists of America halfway, you've just leapfrogged over them and run straight into some morally dark territory. I was thinking it was maybe some intern's error. Someone would catch it. And then the president of the FRC, Tony Perkins, tweeted it. So I had to reply.

"Killing a 39 year-old is still homicide in my book," I tweeted at him. He hasn't gotten back yet.

Dear FRC: Here's why you're capable of saying and writing unfortunate things like this. It's because you're not really listening to yourself. You're not hearing how awful you come across sometimes. Like when you refer to demonstrations against same-sex couples in France as a "new French resistance," portraying gay people who want to get married as Nazis. Or when you produce this pamphlet on how to argue against abortion in cases of rape and incest. Or when you equate Planned Parenthood with slave owners in the South. When you do this you reveal that you don't care if there's any connection whatsoever between your rhetoric and the terrible policies you want to inflict on the powerless in our society.

You say whatever you think will work.

Sometimes the results are - and I really mean this - wonderful.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

GOP Vote-Rigging And The Big Coal Connection

(Today's post is guest-written by Steve, a rat who was partially eaten by Republican operative G. Gordon Liddy many years ago. He hobbled up from my crawlspace on his crutches with a message. I didn't argue.)

You thought I was dead, didn't you? Yeah, well... let's just say that Liddy isn't the toughest bastard who ever worked for Nixon. I'll settle things with him soon enough. But as you can probably guess I'm not a fan of the GOP. I came out of the shadows - literally, the shadows - to help you people see the bigger picture about their vote-rigging plan, and maybe stop it. As you remember, Sen. Charles Carrico sponsored a bill that would change how Virginia awarded its electoral votes - it would suppress the power of people in urban areas. The guy who writes this blog pointed out that it would have counted each Obama voter as 3/5 of a person, which sounds pretty ugly. Anyway, the bill's dying: Gov. McDonnell came out against it, because he's such a wonderful moderate, and other Republicans are scampering away like, well... I'm looking for a simile here. So it was just a fluke, right? Not on your life.

Here's what you need to know:

Carrico's top donor since 2009 has been Bob McDonnell's PAC, Opportunity Virginia. McDonnell can distance himself in public, but the money tells the real story.
Two more donors in Carrico's top five are major coal companies: Alpha Natural Resources and Consol Energy.
Consol Energy is also Opportunity Virginia PAC's top donor. It gave McDonnell's group $332,000 (and Alpha paid $50,000 to his 2010 inaugural committee).
Consol Energy is a link between Carrico and McDonnell, but it's also a link to the Pennsylvania vote-rigging scheme.

Gov. Tom Corbett backed a plan to change the electoral rules in Pennsylvania in 2011, remember? Consol donated more than $40,000 to Corbett, according to this site by Common Cause Pennsylvania. And the numbers get bigger and harder to trace.

"Corbett collected almost $1.3 million from donors with oil and gas interests, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics." This was reported in an eye-opening article by the Center for Public Integrity. The article says some of the money came directly. But the companies funneled much more into the Republican Governors Association, which was Corbett's top donor. Consol gave the RGA more than $338,000.

Consol has other connections to rightwing causes. Back in 2008, it allowed the NRA to use one of its mines to film an anti-Obama commercial, which caused a union uproar.

But the plot thickens. Mother Jones had an article in 2011 that talked about how a secretive nonprofit group called All Votes Matter was pushing the Pennsylvania vote-rigging plan. The article cited a newswire called Capitolwire that said they'd spent more than $77,000 to lobby on the issue. Mother Jones reported that All Votes Matter raised hundreds of thousands more, from undisclosed donors. But All Votes Matter is another connection back to Virginia. The lobbying firms on record for the group are all from Pennsylvania, but the preparer and contact person is Michael Bayes of Holtzman Vogel, a law firm in Virginia. Bayes is listed as a senior associate of the firm "with a primary focus on campaign finance and election law, lobbying and ethics compliance, and tax-exempt organizations." Naturally. But the managing partner of the firm, Jill Holtzman Vogel, sat on the subcommittee that hatched Carrico's bill. Vogel abstained from voting on it, and told a Washington Post reporter that the timing of the bill, just after Obama's victory, made "an awful impression." So, let's be fair. Of course, to be really fair, we'd have to point out that this article appeared recently, after the bill got a pile of bad publicity.

But this is continuing far beyond two states. The Atlantic reports that a DC strategist named Jordan Gehrke has teamed up with former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (yeah, him) to bring this plan across the country. Here's the important quote: "Gehrke and Blackwell have been talking to major donors and plan to send a fundraising email to grassroots conservatives early next week."

Who are they talking to? Where are they getting the money?

I don't know yet, but I have a couple guesses. I'll scratch around and get back to you.
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