Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Conservative crowdfund welfare update.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the baker-martyrs of Gresham, Oregon, have hit 9% of the $150,000 goal they set in their latest beg. The Kleins, who are facing a recommended $135,000 fine for emotional distress they have cause the lesbian couple whose wedding cake order they rejected with the admonition that their children are an abomination, then followed up with a two-year media campaign to portray themselves as the victims, raised $109,000 from a campaign previously.

The Kleins are also getting money from a beg Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse organization is stretching its nonprofit status to run. SP won't say how much they have raised, nor will the Kleins. The Kleins have also been accepting donations via a local church. They won't say how much that has generated, either.

So far, then, the Kleins have made upwards of $118,000 tax-free dollars. If they make their second $150,000 target, they will be looking at a haul of over $275,000.

Barronelle Stutzman, the martyr-florist of Richland, Washington, continue to stonewall questions how much she has made since her gofundme beg was shut down at $173,000, but continues a brisk round of media appearances claiming she will be ruined financially for her faith. Nor will she say how much she is getting, or has gotten from Jack and Crystal O'Connor, of Memories Pizza in Indiana, who have said they are giving some of their $842,000 haul to Stutzman.

Luis Lang, the South Carolina Republican who hated Obamacare when he didn't need it and hated Obamacare for his failure to get in on it before he did, has experienced a checkbook conversion after 1300 self-described liberals raised $25,000 for him to get vision-saving eye surgery. He has embraced universal health care and realized, he says,he really isn't a Republican after all.

Jimbo Boggess, the New Jersey deli owner who put himself out of business asking his customers to join him in celebrating White History Month, has raised $1905.

Brian Brown, head of National Organization for Marriage, is still raising funds to pay for buses to bring carless opponents of marriage equality to a rally he held in Washington, DC, on April 25.

A third of the Republicans Fox News will let debate August 6 are former Fox News employees.

Fox News, which is hosting the first GOP presidential debate, says it is limiting the stage gaggle to ten candidates. Three three of its five former employees qualify.

Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum all appear the have enough heft in the polls to make the cut, Media Matters says.

A fourth Fox employee, John Bolton, recently announced he won't run. A fifth, Ohio Governor John Kasich, is currently in 11th place, a tenth of a point behind Santorum.

The 18 actual or potential candidates in the Republican field, as a group, have appeared on Fox News programs 804 times in the last two years.

Qualified, to the Genth degree

Have you noticed how political activists in early primary/caucus states develop such a keenly-honed sense of superior insight as to who should be president?

Here's Dean Genth, an Iowa gay Democrats apparatchik hosted a do at his and his husband's abode:
“We just felt as a lot of people did that it was [Obama's] moment and it was his time, but I think we feel equally as strong now that this is Hillary’s moment and this is Hillary’s time,” Genth said. “We think she’s tremendously a more mature and stronger candidate than just eight years ago. You could sense in the house today, her demeanor and her sense of knowing what she knows now that she’s served four years as the most traveled secretary of state in the history of our country. I think she’s more comfortable in her skin.”  
But Genth recalled that during the 2008 presidential primary, when he helped set up the first Obama campaign office in Iowa and allowed Obama campaign workers to stay at his home, the split in the LGBT community was palpable.

“A lot of our LGBT folks, especially our lesbian friends, were just adamant for Hillary,” Genth said. “We were back in that mode of saying we got to go for the person that can win in November. Our LGBT issues and progress is going to depend on somebody holding the White House for us.”  
This time around, Genth said Clinton’s experience in the Obama administration as secretary of state places her at the top of the list of candidates seeking the White House.  
“There is no human being alive and breathing on this planet Earth that has her resume,” Genth said. “Not Abraham Lincoln, not Thomas Jefferson, not Ronald Reagan, not Bill Clinton, nor Barack Obama. No one has — male or female, or for that matter worldwide — that resume of hers now."
Grandiose as that sounds, it seems like Genth is setting the bar a bit low. At one end is Jefferson: state legislator, governor, Continental Congress member, author of the Declaration of Independence, minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice President, President, and founder of the University of Virginia.

On the other, there's Lincoln: a one-term Congressman; Barack Obama, a former state legislator and US Senator; Reagan, a former actor and state governor; and Bubba, a former governor. And that's not considering the rest of the planet. Unpacked, Genth's effusion seems like declaring that the moon s round, and pizza is delicious. "Her qualifications put her somewhere between a random phone book listing and God."

Waldo was a she-Clinton skeptic in '08. Her treatment of the gay tribe showed a tin ear and a thin veneer of briefing-book awareness on the part of a woman who, with her husband, used up and threw away all their gay supporters over the years.
Ans as Waldo noted in 2008, if credentials were all, John Quincy Adams and James Buchanan were America's two best-qualified presidents. And what's with this "It's her turn" stuff? Isn't that how the Republicans do it?

In the end, it little matters. If Mrs Clinton can get the nomination, she will get the gay vote. There will simply be no other choice.

Mr Haney worries about gays- the Islamic ones.

"Is there something about the left — and I am going to put the media in this category — that is obsessed with sex?” Cruz asked after fielding multiple questions on gay rights. “ISIS is executing homosexuals — you want to talk about gay rights? This week was a very bad week for gay rights because the expansion of ISIS, the expansion of radical, theocratic, Islamic zealots that crucify Christians, that behead children and that murder homosexuals — that ought to be concerning you far more than asking six questions all on the same topic.” 
“With respect, I would suggest not drawing your questions from MSNBC. They have very few viewers and they are a radical and extreme partisan outlet,” Cruz told a reporter. He cited the expansion of “mandatory same-sex marriage” as an assault on religious liberty in the United States.

Jindal: watch me create law from thin air!

President George W. Bush (right) is greeted by...
President George W. Bush (right) is greeted by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (left) and his wife, Supriya Jolly Jindal (center), on his arrival to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Monday, April 21, 2008, where President Bush will attend the 2008 North American Leaders’ Summit. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, irked that, after five years of trying, he can't get his Death Star Antigay Bill passed, has issued an executive order telling agencies to pretend it's law.

Jindal might, in other circumstances, call this sort of action "executive overreach." He would know.

When the Department of Justice asked Louisiana for an analysis of the racial makeup of the state's private schools, Jindal declared, "The federal government's new request is a frightening overreach of the federal government and shows it knows no bounds."

Jindal knows overreach when he sees it: in a 2014 speech to the conservative Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit, he criticized President Obama on everything from education and foreign policy to what he called his administration's "silent war on our religious liberty."

It was a full-throated attack on what Jindal called federal overreach..." Last November, criticizing action by the president on immigration reform, Jindal said, "The President is lecturing us and not listening to us. He's bypassing Congress, and ignoring the American people...If the President wants to make the case that the law should be changed, he should go make the case to Congress and our people. This is an arrogant, cynical political move by the President.."

Jindal's own lieutenant governor has called the governor's war on Common Core standards in education (which Jindal supported before deciding he wants to be president, and now must jettison), an "executive overreach."

Jindal's order, issued just hours after the legislature handed his hat, expires shortly after the 2016 election in Louisiana. J. Stephen Perry, president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Center Bureau and a former chief of staff to Republican governor Mike Foster, issued a 932 word statement responding to Jindal's order, in part:

Since the resounding legislative defeat shortly after noon today, Governor Bobby Jindal, who formed a presidential exploratory committee this week and has positioned himself as a national leader on religious freedom matters, has announced plans to issue an Executive Order that would mirror some of the narrow intent of HB 707 as related to state actions. We perceive this as largely a political statement by our conservative governor in support of his national position on the issue. That is certainly his right. The issuance of this Executive Order will have very little practical impact, however, since under the Louisiana Constitution and statutes, and according to on-point court decisions as recently as December of 2014, no Executive Order of a governor may create substantive law, even in an emergency situation. Thus, any belief that the Executive Order could enact law similar to that proposed by Rep. Johnson is simply unfounded and would not survive a court test. Furthermore, there are no current cases of such discrimination pending in Louisiana, something of which the Louisiana business community may be proud.

Perry previously called the bill "toxic," adding, "The issue is so radioactive that most people will not look at the details." The chair of the committee that killed the bill politely described it as "just too problematic."

Anticipating corporate opposition in an April 23 New York Times op-ed, Jindal huffed:

As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your’s time for corporate America to make a decision. Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all. This strategy requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters. This is the grand bargain that makes freedom’s defense possible.


Here's an interesting meditation on where casuistry for political ends can get you:
Bush seems to believe that gay people shouldn’t face discrimination for being gay but should accept discrimination for getting married. If that’s really true, the logic should hold in other contexts: Christians shouldn’t face discrimination for being Christian, but they should accept a restriction of their rights when they open a store to the public. Of course, opening a bakery doesn’t implicate fundamental aspects of the Christian identity the way getting married implicates intrinsic elements of the gay identity. But who cares? With his carefully prepared statement, Bush elegantly laid the groundwork for a firm distinction between legal protections for identity and conduct. Now all he has to do is move it to the proper setting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

He's seen the light, you could say

Luis Lang, the man rescued from blindness by the kindness of strangers, has undergone a checkbook conversion:

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Lang joked that he might be the most hated Republican in the country right now. But he also said that, thanks in part to a flood of media attention that led him to learn more about health care policy, he doesn’t identify with the GOP anymore.
“Now that I’m looking at what each party represents, my wife and I are both saying — hey, we’re not Republicans!” Lang said. He added that, though he’s not a political person by nature and has never voted solely along party lines, he wants to rip up his voter registration card on national television so Americans will have proof that he’s making the switch.
Although the Charlotte Observer article positioned Lang against the ACA, he insists he has never been completely opposed to the law. He does, however, have some issues with the way it’s been implemented.

A gaffe is when you get caught saying what you truly believe.

How much your life has America been at war?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Another financial Schock in the GOP congressional ranks

English: Official portrait of US Rep Frank Guinta
Official portrait of US Rep Frank Guinta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
National Journal:

May 18, 2015 For five years, Rep. Frank Guinta has dismissed allegations that he broke campaign-finance laws as a political witch hunt orchestrated by Democrats. Now, his time in Congress may be over because of them, and Republicans are trying to make sure he doesn't take the party down with him.
After the Federal Election Commission found last week that Guinta illegally accepted $355,000 in campaign donations from his parents, the New Hampshire Republican is facing calls for his resignation, even from inside his own party. On Monday, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the state's most prominent Republican officeholder, said Guinta should step down. For his part, Guinta said he's not going anywhere, according to an Associated Press report, though Ayotte's statement is just the latest sign Guinta's support is waning.

Huckabee issues the new Ten Commandments, adjusted to 17 for inflation

The Huckster borrows from ex-UK Labor leader Ed Milliband, who, just before vanishing from the electoral radar, unveiled a tablet of Labor promises he said he would erect in the back garden at No. 10:

I, Mike Huckabee, pledge allegiance to God, the Constitution, and the citizens of the United States:

  I will adhere to the Constitution of the United States.
  I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.
  I will advocate for a complete overhaul of our tax system. This means passing the FairTax and abolishing the IRS.
  I will support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
  I will now, and will for the duration of my presidency, promote and sign all measures leading to Obamacare’s defunding, deauthorization, and repeal.
  I will oppose amnesty and government benefits for illegal immigrants who violated our laws, repeal President Obama's unconstitutional executive orders, and secure our borders.
  I will stand for the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception until the grave. Taking this unequivocal stand includes fighting to defund Planned Parenthood.
  I will stand for the Institution of Marriage and vigorously oppose any redefinition.
  I will defend our 2nd Amendment rights and oppose gun control legislation.
  I will fight for the United States military to be the most feared, respected, and capable fighting force the world has ever known. I will restore our military infrastructure after years of abuse and neglect.
  I will stand with our friend and ally Israel in our shared fight against Radical Islam.
  I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability.
  I will end the national disgrace of failing to properly care for our veterans.
  I will protect Social Security and Medicare and never rob seniors of the benefits they were promised and forced to pay for.
  I will fight to kill Common Core and restore common sense. Education is a family function - not a federal function.
  I will support the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices. They must be committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench.
  I will fight for term limits for members of Congress and judges.

Gimlet-eyed Maggie Gallagher surveys the presidential posse and anoints Ted Cruz as the Baddest Bigot of the Bunch

Still struggling to seem relevant to a cause her hamfisted, money-wasting legal strategy frittered away in her years at National Organization for Marriage, Maggie Gallagher says the pizza-and-prayer battles this spring are over the soul of the Republican Party, and that soul wants to be free to ignore that confine its soaring, Founders-blessed call to discriminate:

English: Maggie Gallagher at the Cato Institute

The fight, a window into the soul of the GOP,  spilled over into the Georgia GOP convention, when all 11 Congressional delegations among others voted to support the original language.
However, the bill is still not law, and Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston both side with the let the little guys be punished out of business in the name of avoiding gay equality wrath.
What are the lessons to be learned from the Georgia fight?
  1. This is an issue that can tear apart the Republican Party.  Corporations had best think a bit about how much they like working in Democrat-controlled territory before jumping on board this train.
  2. State RFRAs are bad vehicles for this fight, because they are broad and vague and their outcome is uncertain. It is very unlikely that a state RFRA will protect anyone from any gay equality wrath, precisely because courts uniformly view equality as a compelling interest, and because there is no way to make sure everyone gets treated equally while permitting some people to refuse to serve gay weddings.
  3. A better vehicle is some version of a Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (MARFA), which prevents governments from punishing individuals and small businesses for refusing to participate in a wedding they do not approve of. If you ask me, I would carve out an exception for race and leave it at that. The protection is narrow, but tight and clear; they can be crafted to be viewpoint neutral (meaning you can refuse Maggie’s wedding if you object to it, too).  And they can be narrowed to apply to small businesses, so that the big corporations have no excuse to getting involved unless they want to be mean to the little guy.
  4. Ted Cruz was a rock star, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, delivering two crowd-enthusing speeches, and when he went behind closed doors to speak to the press, delegates gathered behind him chanting, “We want Cruz! We want Cruz!” There is an opportunity here for presidential candidates to make a difference pushing for the federal Marriage and Religious Freedom Act. When the Justice Department is at the Supreme Court saying religious schools and charities could lose their tax-exempt status if they don’t support “marriage equality,” it’s time to get serious about carving out protections.
  5. Christian conservatives need to raise hard money and spend it defeating Hillary Clinton in one or two swing states by showing this anti-religious extremism is going to cost Democrats votes not only among white working class voters but also among Hispanic and black evangelicals..  I know I am repeating myself, but I am going to say it a lot.  Because Christian conservatives don’t usually do this. Time to get serious about being in politics. Past time.

The Tinfoil Hat Crowd now has a candidate

Department of Bless Their Hearts, They Just Can't Help Themselves...

Hedley Lamarr: Qualifications?
Applicant: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
Hedley Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Applicant: I like rape.

West Virginia Delegate Brian Kurcaba is proving anew that a "gaffe" is when you get caught saying what you really believe:
Raw Story recaps highlights of the GOP's obsession with forced sex:
In 2012, Missouri’s Rep. Todd Akin said that pregnancy can’t result from rape because “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” 
Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that while sexual assaults are unfortunate, the resulting pregnancy is a “gift from God.” 
Libertarian favorite Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) made statements of his own implying that women routinely fabricate rape stories in order to get abortions. 
“If it’s an honest rape,” said Paul, physicians should allow the victim to abort, but otherwise, women should not be able to terminate their pregnancies just because they claim to have been raped.

Jeb to his high-profile gay staffers: shut up and keep cashing your big paychecks.

CBN's David Brody gave Jeb Bush the puffball treatment in an interview released today, and Bush responded by chewing the scenery in a manful way. So much so, in fact, that Brody fears primary voters' animal spirits will blind them to what a dreamboat Jeb is:
It’s interesting because the reality is that Jeb Bush’s record as Florida Governor reads like a social conservative’s dream scorecard. He championed pro-life causes like a late term abortion ban, parental notification laws and fought against those who wanted to pull the plug on brain-damaged heroine Terri Schiavo. He also championed school choice and tried to protect prayers at public school events. It’s that Jeb Bush that social conservative voters want to see emerge in 2016. They want to see the Jeb Bush that was on display as governor of Florida. What they don’t want is another politician (Bush or anyone) who is more consultant-driven than principle-driven. 
In the interview, Bush did an Iraq War-style pivot on his previous comments about a vague sort of tolerance of gays and lined up with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum, and, well pretty much all the others: we should get to do and think and discriminate all we want, when we want, and what's left, well that's the "space" the gays get to occupy in American life. Until, of course, we decide to narrow it some more. Making "space" is a favorite Republican dog whistle, as Waldo noted recently. When it comes to abortion clinics, for example, they find they need ever-increasing amounts of space and time around such entities.

So now Bush is doubling down, exhorting himself to be a "stalwart supporter of traditional marriage" and offering some sort of incoherent notion that marriage equality is bad for "children born in poverty": worse, even, than the bait-and-switch legislation Wisconsin is running on food assistance (you can't have ketchup; you can't have shellfish; you can't have pasta sauce in a jar); cuts in school meal programs, education programs, public transit, job training, and all the other things that might help a family get out of poverty than if a gay couple across town gets married.

I probably give the Bush team too much credit for historical memory, but once George W. picked up and started running with the Dred Scott code talk for abortion, anything is possible. The GOP has had a turn with "stalwarts" before, in the 1870s. Then too, they were reactionary, mostly Southern, opposed to reform except as a meaningless buzzword stuffed with flannel. It is Karl Rove's favorite period in American political history; he considers its apotheosis to be William McKinley, the congressman made president by Ohio industrialist Mark Hanna.

But what baffles me is this: the OED tells me a "heroine" is a demigoddess; heroic woman; chief female character in a poem, play or story. Terri Schiavo was a brain-dead woman who lay in a vegetative state for fifteen years, during which her brain shrank to half its normal size. Never mind, for the moment, the intense personal trials her family and friends went through, not least by being made political footballs by the likes of Jeb Bush and his brother, the President. Just what makes Terri Schiavo a Heroine? And of what?

As for Bush's new, harder position, well, big whoop. Expecting any Republican candidate to take anything but the most "severely conservative" lip service possible is folly. Some have been trying out some vague nostrums of tolerance and fence-straddling since the Battle of Indiana, and they are finding 1/ it doesn't poll well in Iowa and South Carolina; and 2/ with a field of candidates expected to top out somewhere between 12 and 19 (nearly all in the pocket of a billionaire), leaving any daylight at all to the right will mean getting redefined as a communist.

Third, and perhaps most important, is Fox News. It is hard to tell, most days whether Fox is an arm of the party, or the party itself. But its gravitational pull is undeniable. Republican presidential candidates can no longer escape it. As Bruce Bartlett wrote in an important assessment of Fox's history the other day,
[S]ome political observers now question whether Fox is a net plus or a net minus for Republican presidential candidates. As Columbia University political scientist Lincoln Mitchell put it after Romney’s loss: Fox has now become a problem for the Republican Party because it keeps a far right base mobilized and angry, making it hard for the party to move to the center or increase its appeal, as it must do to remain electorally competitive….One of the reasons Mitt Romney was so unable to pivot back to the center was due to the drumbeat at Fox, which contributed to forcing him to the right during the primary season. Even after the primary season, when Fox became a big supporter for Romney, the rift between official editorial position and the political feelings of Fox viewers and hosts was clear.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Outwit. Outplay.Outlast.

In a refreshing departure from the elegantly worded, ancien regime-toned articles on how America refuses to listen to its betters, Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen has penned a bracing, bare-knuckled assessment of the pizza-and-prayer battles of 2015. Not for him the tortured, love the sinner/hate the sin formulations of the genteel (emphasis added):
As the dust from the recent explosion over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act begins to settle, one thing is clear: Republicans and Christians lost, Democrats and gay activists won. Republican leaders initially ­supported the legislation for what was likely a combination of strategic political reasons and the belief that religious freedom is a positive good. Passage of RFRA laws was an intensifying demand in conservative Christian circles. Having concluded that the culture war was lost, conservative Christians retreated to the castle keep of American political order: the right to the free exercise of religion, a right that had been bolstered by the bipartisan passage of the federal RFRA law in 1993. Governor Mike Pence no doubt thought he was practicing good politics: giving his base something they dearly wanted, while only potentially alienating committed members of the opposition party.
Mike Pence, Asa Hutchinson, and the Republican party were not blindsided by opposition to RFRA by gay rights activists. What knocked them back were major corporations, such as Apple, Walmart, and Angie’s List, and organizations such as the NCAA that denounced the law, in many cases announcing boycotts of Indiana. Had the only appreciable opposition to RFRA come from gay rights activists, RFRA would have been a smashing political success for Republicans. It would have made the right enemies while generating gratitude and energy in the base. They did not expect their usual friends in corporate America to join the opposition, which was an idiotic miscalculation given the fact that establishment outrage scuttled the Arizona RFRA last year...