About Wayne A. Schneider

I'm a Liberal, Libertarian, Atheist Humanist. I believe that though the world is a dangerous place, it can be made better if we stop dividing ourselves by how we're different from each other, and reach out to each other through what we have in common. And that is that we are all human beings on this planet. Please remember that.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 25, 2015: We Told Us So

In January 2009, the Strategic Analysis Group, Homeland Environment and Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on Left Wing Extremism. The purpose of the report was to “to facilitate a greater understanding of the emerging threats to the United States. The information is provided to federal, state, and local counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.” It said that the primary concern over the next ten years would be non-violent cyber-terrorism targeting chiefly economic entities. The report clearly stated right at the beginning that it was one of a series of reports on threats to homeland security. Nobody appeared to pay it much attention. In fact, DHS had to remind people of its existence when they followed up three months later with a report on Right Wing Extremism. And in typical right wing fashion, Republicans and Conservatives went ape shit and bullied the DHS to retract the report (as if that would make the words in it go away.) Because that’s what bullies do – they scream and shout and stamp their feet and threaten violence if they don’t get their way. They mischaracterized the report’s recommendations in a number of ways. One was by taking the suggestion that disgruntled military veterans (note the word “disgruntled”) were prime recruiting targets for extremist groups looking to use violence. It did not in any way, shape or form say that ALL veterans were candidates for extremism, but that is how the right wing portrayed the report’s findings. They demanded an apology to veterans (which Secretary Napolitano eventually gave) even though she insulted none of them (except, perhaps, the extreme white nationalist, anti-immigration kind – IOW, people just like today’s Republican Party). And they demanded that the report, the one that said people just like them might resort to physical violence, go away because they said it wasn’t true. Except it was. And the fallout was that DHS eventually reduced to one person the number of people following left or right wing extremism in America. Way to keep us safe, Republicans.

The straw man argument is a tactic the right wing uses a lot in political discourse, especially when they’re wrong from the beginning. They made it seem as if the report was saying that every veteran returning from war was going to commit acts of terrorism. Nothing of the kind was true, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone with an IQ in the three-digit range. When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, the right decided that the section which said Medicare would pay for your doctor’s time to sit down with you and discuss your end-of-life options really amounted to a “Death Panel.” This, BTW, was one of several things they referred to falsely as a Death Panel – you and your doctor discussing what happens if you get a terminal illness. Another was a board that would look for ways to spend taxpayer money more effectively and efficiently. That was also a Death Panel. That there is nothing even remotely describing a Death Panel in the PP/ACA never once deterred them from saying there were several. In his dissent in the recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Justice Thomas said, “It appears all but inevitable that [civil marriage and religious marriage] will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” Again, this is a straw man argument. In the first place, marriage in the United States is a civil arrangement, not a religious one. You can be married without it having any connection to any religion. (As in the case of my marriage by a Justice of the Peace at the restaurant where we held the reception.) Second, no individual has to participate in any wedding if he or she doesn’t want to participate. And third, in every state where marriage equality was enacted by a state legislature, an exemption was written into the law stating that no religious entity could be forced to perform a same-sex marriage if it violated their religious beliefs. Not one state was going to force churches to perform same-sex weddings if they thought gay sex was icky. Yet here’s Justice Thomas (who, BTW, ought to be removed from the bench for voting on issues before the court where he had a clear conflict of interest, such as one side paying his wife to be their advocate) claiming that churches were now going to be forced to participate in same sex weddings even if they don’t want to do it. Totally untrue. Conservatives seem to have a hard time with options. They act as if the choice to do something is equivalent to it being a government mandate to do that something. They have a binary way of thinking that tells them everything is one way or the other, there’s no in-between. Except life is filled with in-betweens and there’s rarely that many black-or-white, yes-or-no options. As former President George H.W. Bush once said, “Either you’re for it or you’re against it.” I forget what the “it” was but it makes no difference because that’s how the right feels about everything.

So because the right was all butthurt over the Right Wing Extremism report, they demanded that it not only be retracted, but that no further discussion of the subject by the government could take place. And so insufficient resources were devoted to tracking the rise of right wing extremism, and more and more people died as a consequence. The same month the report was released, Joshua Cartwright (who was “severely disturbed” that Barack Obama was elected president) shot and killed two sheriff’s deputies. The next month Scott Roeder (an anti-abortion extremist connected to the sovereign citizens movement) shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in the entrance to a church. The very next month James von Brunn (a neo-Nazi and white supremacist) walked up to the Holocaust Museum and shot and killed a guard. And the violence by right wing extremists continued month after month. Since the criminal attacks of 9/11 (they were crimes, not acts of war), anti-government, racist and non-jihadist extremists have killed nearly twice as many people as those by Islamic jihadists, yet the right would have you believe ISIS is more of a danger to us than they are. It is simply untrue. As this last Thursday showed.

John Russell Houser, who Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson described as “an anti-government loon who admired Adolph Hitler, Timothy McVeigh, white power groups, the Westboro Baptist Church and the “scientific racism” of Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve,”” opened fire inside a Lafayette, LA, movie theater using a hand gun he legally purchased from a pawn shop, killing two women and injuring nine others. It’s exactly the kind of violent act our own government warned us was likely to happen. But did we listen? No. Even worse, the right wing told us to shut up and act like it couldn’t happen. Except it did. If only we had listened to ourselves.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the dangers of right wing extremism or any other topic you wish.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 18, 2015: White Be Not Proud

When the Confederate Flag was finally removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, we saw how racists (who often do not understand why they are racist) in that state reacted – with more racism. A petition to remove the African-American Monument has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures so far. Their stated reason for wanting the monument removed? Because “this monument can and does serve to invoke in the white community feelings of shame, humiliation and offense, serving as a constant reminder of the dark history of slavery.” Which is, of course, the entire point.

Keith Harmon, the petition’s author, said the flag shouldn’t have been removed in response to a white supremacist’s massacre of nine black churchgoers. He said, “I think killing nine innocent people was completely and totally wrong, (but) it has nothing to do with the flag — nothing at all.” He could not have been more wrong. The Confederate Flag had EVERYTHING to do with this crime of despicable hatred. Like many lovers of the Confederacy who have been taught an alternate reality of history, Harmon thinks the flag can’t be a symbol of hate because his ancestors fought under it. “My great, great, great grandfather and ancestors fought in this war for this state,” Harmon said. Well, Harmon, your great, great, great granddaddy fought to preserve Slavery and the oppression of the black man.

Since you mentioned “this state,” Harmon, perhaps you should read up on your history. “This state” (South Carolina) seceded from the United States specifically, unequivocally, and indisputably because they believed in Slavery, and they were very upset that President-Elect Lincoln might want to end it in America. In fact, many of the states that seceded cited this very reason. And not only did they believe in Slavery, they believed that white people were superior to black people, and that the natural state of the black man was as a slave to the white man. It’s no coincidence that the people who primarily fly that flag today do so out of racism. In fact, the very thing that has Harmon so upset – the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse – was done to correct a wrong done about fifty years ago. The flag was intentionally put on the statehouse in protest to the Civil Rights movement, so there is ample reason to believe that today, in the 21st century, the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia is primarily a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

So the African-American Monument makes you feel ashamed as a white person? Good, it’s doing its job, because you should be ashamed of what your ancestors did in defense of Slavery. There is not and never was anything noble about Slavery, no matter who’s doing it or to whom. I sincerely hope that South Carolina’s official reaction to this petition is three simple words: “Go to Hell.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 13, 2015: What Should Be Done About The Confederate Flag?

Charleston Conservative Examiner Kyle Rogers posted a column claiming Lynyrd Skynard fans were “outraged” after the band’s sole remaining original member, Gary Rossington, announced they would no longer display the Confederate Flag at their performances saying that they didn’t want to offend anyone. Since the author of that article referenced a CNN appearance by Rossington it’s safe to assume that part of the story is accurate. As for the rest? Well, it’s clear the author is not a journalist. He writes, “However, there is a growing outrage among fans. Many say they have attended Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts for decades, but will never buy a ticket again. Twitter and Facebook have exploded with condemnation. Many are now calling the band a “fake,” who just own the right’s to the original band’s name.” He does not include any examples, however. Nor does he provide any links to this so-called “outrage.” Nor does he know the difference between plurals and possessives or how to use the apostrophe correctly. But he is clearly upset that the Confederate Flag is being rejected once again.

And why shouldn’t it be? I’ve been trying to find what the justification for continuing to fly that flag is. I read a lot that it represents “Southern Pride” and “Southern Heritage,” but I’ve been having a hard time finding reliable definitions of those terms. I found this from a Texas Progressive who claims that this heritage is based on white supremacy. And considering that it took a century for black people to even have civil rights because of opposition from the former states of the Confederacy, and considering that many Southern states STILL don’t want black people to vote and have said as much, it’s hard to see anything noble about the Southern Cause. A pro-General Lee Civil War buff, Joe Ryan, opened his excellent timeline of debates in Congress that led to the Civil War with teh assertion that it was caused by Racism, “plain and simple.” I have not had the opportunity to research this further, but the author of this article says that many Northerners did not feel it was possible to live with black people, and actually wanted the slaves to be free but to stay in the South. He says that had more Northern Members of Congress supported the Abolitionists and spoken up about how to resolve the issue of ending Slavery, the war might have been avoided. I honestly don’t know what the truth is on that subject. But one thing that is indisputable is that the Confederate States of America fired upon the United States of America, and their flag is the flag of Traitors. It does not belong on the public property of the United States of America. Despite all the hysteria from the right (including Conservative Democrats), we are not looking to ban the flag outright. Our primary goal at this point is to eliminate the Confederate Flag from public property, except inside museums. I’m conflicted on allowing an exception to any actual Confederacy Museums our govt maintains. If there are any, a small replica of it on the front yard sign would be okay. But not an actual flag flying from a pole. Not on public property.

As for flying it on private property, I’ll fully support your right to do so when you admit to me that it stands for White Supremacy and Enslavement of Black People, because that is historically undeniable. I’m not at all sure what the “pride” and “heritage” of the South is that the flag is supposed to represent. If it’s all about manners and hospitality then, yeah, but only toward white people. Jim Webb, who wants to be the Democratic nominee for President, but who will likely get no further than the short list of VP running mates, thinks the talk of taking down the flag is an attack on “Southern White culture.” Some wavers of the Rebel Flag, like the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups, freely admit that’s why they fly it. I just want any other citizen who flies it to publicly admit they’re doing it for the same reason. Then I’ll exercise my First Amendment rights and tell them what idiotic assholes they are. And, yes, I’m prepared to die for saying it. As a nation, we need to stop treating every opinion as if it’s a valid one, worthy of respect. Even mine if you find no factual basis in it. But an opinion on what to do with the Confederate Flag (General Robert E. Lee said it belongs in a museum) means nothing if the person holding it believes Slavery had little or nothing to do with the Civil War, or that it was just a side issue. Because that is not an opinion based on facts.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to ridicule racist assholes who still fly the Confederate Flag, or anything you else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 6, 2015: How The Right Gets Religious Freedom Wrong – Still

It appears the Conservatives still don’t understand how religious freedom works, even if their State legislatures do. They definitely don’t understand how the Constitution works. Or how Executive Orders work. Even when they lose at the Supreme Court level, the way our Founding Fathers intended legal disputes to be resolved once and for all (it’s exactly what they said, in slightly different wording), they decide their right to freely practice their religion says they don’t have to obey the Constitution of the United States of America, because they are Americans, and they have Religious Freedom, just like the people who amended the Constitution said. Pay no attention to what the later people amended the Constitution to say, such as Equality Under the Law for everyone and Birthright Citizenship, the direct taxation of income from whatever source derived, the direct election of Senators by the People, the right of women to vote, and term limits on the President. Those are Amendments Conservatives have openly stated they would like to see repealed. Because they just won’t accept losing. I consider it one of their mental defects. (I have plenty of my own, as people who personally know me would be quickly paid to list.) But for a party that traditionally boasted their desire for Law and Order: SCU (Skull Cracking Unit) style life to prevail, they show an astonishing, almost pathological, intent to never be ruled by the laws they say the rest of us must follow.

Proving for anyone wishing to check that he has never read Article III of the Constitution, The Incredible Huck (I never believe a word he says) wrote an op-ed for Fox News Dot Com claiming he would not surrender to judicial tyranny, but you will surrender to his tyranny. He began by mischaracterizing the recent SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality thusly:

America didn’t fight a revolution against the tyranny of one unelected monarch so we could surrender our religious liberty to the tyranny of five unelected lawyers.

You mean like when your side told us to sit down and shut up about the Bush v. Gore ruling, the one where five unelected lawyers told the state of Florida to ignore the Constitution and not continue re-counting the votes because the result might harm the petitioner’s ability to claim victory (the petitioner being Bush and the likely winner of the recount Gore), which meant that if the recount was allowed to continue and it showed that Gore won, Bush would have a harder time claiming victory. That is exactly what they said. And THEN they said that, oh yeah, this decision can never be used as precedent for any future decision ever. Talk about judicial tyranny. How was this marriage equality decision like Bush v. Gore? His second sentence proved his ignorance of the concept of Separation of Church and State.

The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and the Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than they can the laws of gravity.

There is a great body of scientific experiment that tends to support the Theory of Gravity as being valid. There is nothing which shows that your idea of the “laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage” exist anywhere but in your religious texts. Nor are any of us constitutionally required to live according to your religious texts. That’s what my religious freedom means. And I have never once heard you argue so vociferously against the marriage of divorced people or pregnant women, just gay people. I seriously question how sincere a religious belief this is, and not simply one of ignorant bigotry. But in case you thought Huck understood Article III, he continued

Last Friday’s same-sex marriage decision by the Court, which rejected the will of people in over 30 states, is an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny.

Actually, the other decision I mentioned was an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny. The Marriage Equality decision striking down the unconstitutional will of people in 30 states (because you don’t vote on rights) was exactly what they were created to do. To strike down laws that go too far, that violate the Constitution (of which the 14th Amendment is still a part). But then, Marbury v. Madison was another decision they didn’t like. And so, in traditional Conservative opposite-speak, The Incredible Huck vows to light a match to the Constitution by ignoring it.

While some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and surrender to the false god of judicial supremacy, I refuse to light a match to our Constitution. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.

Except, Huck, when the Supreme Court rules, it’s over. But you won’t let a little thing like the Constitution get in your way, will you? No, you’re just going to get around it by issuing the biggest, baddest tool of Executive Tyranny you have – the Executive Order. You think that as President, you have the authority to tell everyone working for the federal government that they don’t have to obey a Supreme Court decision. That is a far cry from issuing an EO that tells the Administration how it will carry out a law passed by Congress, which is the purpose and properly constitutional function of an EO. If a President feels a law passed by Congress is unconstitutional, he can fight that law all the way to the Supremes. But if they rule against him, he has no choice. He MUST follow the law. He (or She) can’t just tell the Administration that the oath he took to faithfully carry out the office of President allowed him to ignore the law. Nixon tried that approach and look where it got him. Dead. Okay, it had nothing to do with his death, but he did die Disgraced.

Another Conservative who is either illiterate or stupid intellectually challenged is Texas Attorney General Bill Ken Paxton. He believes that the Federal Constitutionally Mandated oath to support and defend the United States Constitution does not supersede his state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that clerks in his state do not have to issue marriage licenses to a particular couple if it violates their religious beliefs. And he would be wrong on both counts. Not only must they all obey the Supremes' decisions, but Texas is one of those states that passed a RFRA that actually says you can’t deny someone their civil rights and use the RFRA as an excuse. Which means Bill Ken Paxton was wrong when he told his state’s clerks they didn’t have to issue licenses to “those” people because the RFRA said so, because the RFRA said the exact opposite.

What the Bill Ken Paxton’s of the world keep ignoring was the original intent of the federal RFRA. It was passed after the Supremes said Native Americans couldn’t use peyote in their thousand-year-old rituals if the federal law says nobody can use it. They thought they were being fair to everyone by saying that the law didn’t allow for any religious exemptions, so nobody could claim one. Except nobody, I mean nobody, seriously meant for federal anti-peyote laws to apply to people who appeared to be responsibly using it for millennia. So they passed the national RFRA to protect the right of Native Americans to practice their religious rituals. And nobody, and I mean nobody, intended for the law to be used to protect someone’s right to violate another person’s civil rights. And the first few state level RFRA’s were similar to the federal law. But that began to change in recent years, and Conservative Christians began using RFRA’s to claim the right to deny their services to gay couples on the grounds that it violated their religious beliefs to in any way support an attempt by gay people to get married. Never mind that the part they were being asked to play may have had nothing at all to do with the marriage itself (though some may), or that it seemed to be the only thing they refused to do on religious grounds. There are plenty of other people in both Lev 18 & Lev 20 (the source of the Conservative Christian Contempt for Teh Gay) that you’re told to treat just as harshly (be it banishment or stoning) but that you refuse to treat so. Are your religious beliefs only that strong when it comes to gay people? You have no problem selling a bridal gown to a pregnant woman? You have no problem selling wedding rings to a divorced woman? You only have a problem selling a cake to a couple of guys who want to celebrate the marriage ceremony they just finished with a party for their friends. I have a seriously hard time believing your wish to discriminate against gays has anything whatsoever to do with your religious beliefs, and everyone to do with your ignorant bigoted ones. So don’t ever lie to us again and claim your religious freedom is being threatened, because it’s not. As some of you know, I live in New York State (to my first-time visitors, How ya doin’?), and when we passed our Marriage Equality Act, we allowed churches and clergy to refuse to marry same-sex couples. I’m pretty sure even more conservative states would have fiercely insisted on having such an exemption in their laws, too. And rightly so.

And nobody’s, I mean nobody’s, religious freedom is being denied in any way. Only their hate.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss religious freedom or anything else you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 29, 2015: In Three Minutes, Rick Santorum Proves He’s Unfit To Be POTUS

In the span of about three minutes, Rick Santorum proved he has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to how the Government is supposed to function, and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the White House, let alone be its lawful occupant. Ricky thinks that the recent ruling on Marriage Equality will mean the end of the United States. He believes promoting heterosexual marriage is not only necessary “for the survival of our country,” but more important than talking about climate change.

He began by complaining, as conservatives often do when the SCOTUS rules against them (on account of them being wrong so much), that judges have been entering into the political realm more and more over the past few decades. (Personally, I trace it back to Reagan’s appointees, but that’s probably just me.) He then goes onto complain that they’re “making law” (untrue) and that their job is to “be referees between the Executive and Congressional branches.” Actually, Ricky, it’s more properly referred to as the Legislative branch. And it’s not the job of the SCOTUS to just be referees between the POTUS and the Congress. In fact, that’s not really what their job is at all. Their job is to decide if laws passed by the Congress violate the Constitution. Conservatives like to think that anything a Legislative body passes is automatically constitutional because their job is to pass laws. But being the types who don’t like to follow rules imposed by others (including the framers of the Constitution), Conservatives feel that you’re wrong to ever call them wrong. Many red states are already saying they won’t follow the Supreme Court’s ruling and will refuse to allow same sex couples to marry. And they would be violating their oaths of office if they do so, and could and should face impeachment and removal from office. But they should also face permanent disqualification from ever holding public office again. That’s the mistake Alabama made when they impeached their SCOTUS-disrespecting Chief Justice Roy Moore for refusing to obey the SCOTUS when it said he couldn’t order the Ten Commandments displayed in front of the Court House. They kicked him out of office, but didn’t bar him from holding office again. And now he’s once again the Chief Justice of Alabama and refusing to follow the Constitution again. But that’s another topic.

Ricky thinks that by striking down all statewide bans on same-sex marriage as violations of the federal Constitution, the judges are making law. That is not at all what is happening. Striking down unconstitutional laws is not making laws, it’s nullifying improper ones. No state, no matter how fervently is citizens or (in most cases) its conservative legislature wants to do it, can pass a law repugnant to the Constitution. But then, Conservatives have never liked Marbury v. Madison, because they don’t like being told they can’t do what they want. So it’s not surprising that Ricky thinks the SCOTUS should: a) no longer have lifetime appointments and be elected, instead; b) not have jurisdiction over certain topics; and, c) be required to hear all appeals to their rulings. That’s not at all the way the framers intended it, Ricky. They didn’t want the federal judiciary to be forced to run for office because they knew they would have to appeal to the lowest common denominator to get elected, and that often results in bad judges with misguided priorities. They also intended the jurisdiction of the Judicial branch of our government to be able to settle all disputes, not just the ones you feel comfortable letting them decide. And they also intended that their rulings be final and the Law of the Land. But then that would mean not letting Conservatives do whatever they want to do to the rest of us with impunity.

The Fox News hosts then went on to lament that heterosexual marriage is in decline and that more and more people are choosing to raise families out of wedlock, and that might somehow be a bad thing. But Ricky thinks that instead of using the power of the bully pulpit to discuss climate change, that the president should be putting all of that energy into trying to promote heterosexual marriage. Is that really a valid argument to the declaration that marriage need not depend on the genders of the two people getting married? That’s where it started, but Ricky and the Fox hosts think that all children should be raised in a home where the parents are married. That would be nice, except it doesn’t match Reality. In real life, people die or get divorced, and children grow up with only one parent. That doesn’t make them bad or immoral people, but the way Conservatives talk about “family,” you’d think any kid who grew up without both a male and female parent in the house could never turn out good. (Presidents Clinton and Obama might disagree.) But if marriage is something never once mentioned in the Constitution, and if it’s therefore supposed to be left entirely up to the states to decide who can and cannot enter into these civil arrangements (which, legally, is all they are), then why does Ricky think the president should be talking about it? Why shouldn’t the president talk about Climate Change, and what we should do to counter or slow its worsening effects?

Climate Change is real. It’s not a hoax cooked up by climate scientists to make a lot of money. It is being worsened by human activity, specifically but not limited to, the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. (There’s no such thing as “clean burning fossil fuels.” The fossil fuel industry just wants you to believe that, or to doubt those of us who rightly claim it’s a lie.) We are close to the point where the cumulative effects of pumping all that carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will not only make the air unbreathable (since we insist on letting the rain forests, those things with all the living things that can breath carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, be destroyed at a breath-taking rate), it will also raise the overall temperature of the planet. This will cause the oceans to warm up and provide storms with more heat and energy. This will cause the storms we do get, no matter what time of year, to be larger, more intense, and more destructive. You can expect to hear about record breaking storms for the next few decades. In fact, if you’re younger than 30, you’ve never experienced a month in which the average surface temperature of the Earth was below average. Will fighting the problem cost money? Of course it will, don’t be silly. The reason the situation is as bad as it is is precisely because we tried to find the least expensive ways to produce energy, instead of the smartest ways. Conservatives would have you believe that anything that reduces profits is a bad thing, even if what the profits are being diverted from is killing the planet. And we can’t regulate businesses to stop polluting our biosphere, because government regulations make the Baby Jesus cry.

I’m getting tired of these people.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Little Ricky Santorum, marriage equality, climate change, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 20, 2015: Blame Anything But Racism

By 1852, the State of South Carolina was fed up with the Government of the United States and voted to secede from the Union. They forbore exercising the right of secession they claimed “in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States.” That was from the first sentence of South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession. They felt that Slavery was one of their “domestic institutions” and that the refusal of the Northern States to return runaway slaves, as actually required by the Constitution, constituted a breach of the agreement of the original thirteen colonies to be governed under it. So they declared their Independence in much the same manner (and at times quoting) as the Colonies did in our famous Declaration of Independence. (Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Nicholas Cage stole it once and pinned the theft on another guy.) There is no question that Slavery was a part of the Southern Heritage they defend to this day. And to defend Slavery is to defend the idea that some people, in particular black people, are less than human and can be treated morally and legally as property. That heritage is represented to this day by the Confederate Flag, in one form or another. (The “Stars and bars” come in various forms. One was the official National Flag, while another variation formed the Battle Flag.) To many of us, when you proudly display the Confederate Flag, you are insisting that the South was right on Slavery and the North was wrong. This is why the South has the reputation it does for being the home of racists. That does not mean, nor does anyone in the North truly believe, that everybody in the South is a dyed-in-the-wool racist. It does mean that racists can live in the South and not be bothered over their views.

So when a young white supremacist decided to callously murder nine unsuspecting, unarmed black citizens in one of the most famous landmark black churches in American history just because they were black, and for no other reason, the conversation ought to include the subject of racism, and why it is so acceptable to so many people in the South. (Whether or not examples of racism can be found in other parts of the country is completely irrelevant and beside the point. The discussion needs to be about the openly accepted racism in the South.) But conservatives are trying to divert from that topic and blame anything but racism as the reason Dylann Storm Roof killed all those people. People who hadn’t done a thing wrong to him. People who let him sit among them before he told them, “You have to go.” Once pictures of him wearing flags of the white-ruled nations of South Africa and Rhodesia went public, there was no doubt in any right-thinking person’s mind that this massacre was motivated by racial hatred. So it should come as no surprise that Conservatives reject the racism motivation and cling to their guns and bibles, to borrow a phrase.

[NOTE: FTR, what I am about to write I fully intended to write before I sat down to watch Friday night’s Bill Maher show. I didn’t get the idea from him any more than he got his idea from me.]

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” [President Obama] said at the White House. Besides the clearly displayed racism shown in the massacre, guns are another issue the Right Wing refuses to discuss openly and fairly. But we can get to what the National Rifle Association (NAMBLA) has to say another time.

And quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after four black girls were killed in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Ala., 52 years ago, he said the lessons of this tragedy must extend beyond one city and one church. He cited Dr. King’s words that their deaths were a demand to “substitute courage for caution,” and urging people to ask not just who did the killing but “about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

It seems Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece and Fox News Channel contributor, Alveda King, would disagree. [NOTE: Full disclosure/confession/cry-for-help. For reasons surpassing all logical thought, Alveda King decided to follow me on The Twitter. I’m guessing after I questioned her there she’ll be re-thinking that decision. Cool.] She made a truly bizarre leap of logic to conclude that the Charleston Massacre was linked to abortion. You heard me right. Abortion. Okay, maybe you didn’t hear me. Maybe you heard a voice in your head you thought was mine. You should get that checked. And Alveda King should get hers checked, too. Is there something they’re serving in the green rooms at Fox that makes their contributors come out and say bat shit crazy things on live television?

There is no doubt at all that this massacre was motivated solely by racism. None. Zero. But Rick Perry cautions us to wait, we don’t have all the facts. It may turn out drugs were involved. You heard me right. Drugs. (Maybe the drugs are why you can hear me. I know that’s why I can hear you.) That’s after he “misspoke” and called the massacre an “accident”.

Sweater vest aficionado and Presidential Delusions-Filled former Senator Rick Santorum believed it was an attack on our religious liberty, even though at the time he said that it was known this was a purely race-motivated attack. US Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham, currently running for First Lady, sat down with other women on The View to stress the shooting was an attack on Christianity (it most certainly was not), though he seemed to express doubts about whether or not race had anything to do with it (it most certainly did).

Fox & Friends invited Bishop E.W. Jackson who jumped to the conclusion that because this happened in a church, it’s clearly an attack on Christianity. They completely ignore the comments the killer made prior to opening fire on almost everyone in the church (reloading several times) and cold-bloodedly telling one survivor that he was letting her live so she could tell everyone what happened. Which she did. And she said he did it because they were black, and for no other reason.

Also believing the motivation was unknown, SC Gov Nikki Haley emphasized the fact that the shooting took place in a house of worship, without mentioning the racism openly displayed by the killer. NRA Board Member Charles Cotton even went so far as to blame Pastor and SC State Senator Clementa Pinckney for the dead saying his opposition to guns prevented them from being saved. The leaders of Gun Owners of America, father-son duo Larry and Erich Pratt, also blamed Rev Pinckney.

But none of these people on the right want to blame the murders on Racism. Some allow that it may or may not have been a factor (Yes. It clearly was. The killer himself said so to the person he let live so she could tell us why he did it.), but they always reach for something else to blame. And the only logical reason I can think of for why they do it, is because deep down, they don’t want to admit they feel the same way Dylann Storm Roof did. They sympathize with Roof’s racist rantings, but they can never say so publicly. Others probably will. (I’m guessing Rush Limbaugh is going to cross the line on this one sooner or later.) Because they don’t want the South’s history with Slavery and their undying support of it, their view of it as one of their domestic institutions, to come under scrutiny again.

South Carolina still proudly flies the battle flag their army followed when they killed more US Soldiers than any other army in our nation’s history. Maybe we should reconsider our decision to stop them from seceding. And they can take all those people who think racism isn’t a problem with them. The United States will recognize the birthright citizenship of any SC citizen who wishes to remain here in the states. Racists need not apply.

UPDATE: The Perry campaign insists that from the context, it’s clear Governor Perry meant to say “incident,” not “accident.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about Racism or any other topic you want, in case that one is a little too uncomfortable for you.

The Watering Hole, June 15, 2015: Where Do They Get These Dicks?

Courtesy of the good people at Right Wing Watch (A project of People For the American Way dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement), we learned this weekend of several dicks for which Society, frankly, has no good use. These are people who, despite any position of prominence they may have previously held, hold viewpoints your normal person with an IQ in the three-digit range (such as you, Dear Readers) would call “dickish.” Let me elaborate a little.

Rick “Dick” Perry
The former Governor of Texas, best known for being an idiot of the highest magnitude despite the brainiac birth control glasses he’s taken to wearing lately, is claiming that President Obama lacks executive experience to properly deal with ISIS/ISIL/IS/Assholes. And Rick Perry does? These aren’t children fleeing oppressive regimes in Central America, Dick. These are well-armed maniacs willing to die for a myth not that far removed from the one you believe. You both claim to worship the same God, although by different names. You just show that love differently, especially in whom you choose to execute and how. Absent from your cogent analysis, besides analysis, is the fact that the problem of ISIS was created by people who think just like you. It takes a big Dick to complain that Obama doesn’t have a solution to a problem your predecessor and think-alike created. If President Bush/Cheney couldn’t prevent it from happening, what makes you think President Obama should be able to?

Richard “Dick” Land
You might remember this Dick from his days as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, until he claimed the Obama Administration had no interest in Justice for Trayvon Martin but just wanted to “gin up the black vote.” They have since found themselves someone else to perform his duties, so it’s a wonder to people like me who can think critically why anyone would consider his viewpoint worth hearing. Uncritical Thinker Sandy Rios In The Morning wanted to know, so she invited Dick on her program. Dick is really afraid of Teh Gays.

Land blamed such trends on “a broad cultural assault on biblical values through the media, through entertainment [and] through MTV,” specifically calling out the “gay and lesbian, bisexual community” for its “sustained campaign” to “propagandize” Americans.

Evangelizing is also propagandizing, but that’s beside the point right now. If you’re going to bash the LGBT community because the Bible tells you so, then why are you not also calling out all adulterers and fornicators that the same Chapter of the Bible tells you to equally bash? Why is it only the LGBT folks you fear? And it is fear. Why them and not the others? You never mention businesses being allowed to not do business with adulterers, or young people having sex out of wedlock. These things don’t seem to instill the fear in you that gay people do. I have a personal theory about people like you, who worry so much about what gay people are allowed to do. Although there is ample anecdotal evidence that people such as yourself are secretly gay, my theory is different. I think that you’re worried not about being anally penetrated by a man, but that you won’t find the experience as unpleasant as you’d expect. And this would force you to rethink your worldview. And you’re afraid of what the results might be, so you don’t ever want that to be a possibility. And you think that can’t happen if gay people were just made to go away and never show themselves to you. Well, that ain’t gonna happen, Dick. And neither are you going to be anally penetrated by a man. Unless you want one to. We won’t stop you.

Rick “Dick” Wiles
People like this Dick scare me a little. It’s not just that they seem to earnestly believe the nonsense they spew about the End of the Word coming, but that they’re not the only ones, and they have followers who believe the same insane nonsense. That the Bible predicts how the world will end, and that we are approaching those End Times. What fascinates me about this silliness, is that there is a sharp disagreement over the Logistics of how this Rapture thing will unfold, to the point where Dick got his Program chopped off by the station owners who went with the Competing Theory.

On Wednesday, fanatical End Times radio host Rick Wiles kicked off his radio program with a long attack on what he claims is the false doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture, which is the idea that Christians will be taken up to Heaven before the world descends into war, famine, and chaos prior to the return of Christ.

Wiles was outraged that this view is widely held among conservative Christians today, but the real target of his wrath was the board of directors of Christian radio station KATB in Alaska, which voted to stop broadcasting Wiles’ radio show just three days after it began airing on the station because he preached against this doctrine.

But it is Wiles who will have the last laugh, he declared, when Russia invades Alaska as God’s judgment upon America for homosexuality.

“All I can say to the KATB board of directors is you guys will be the first people to see the Russian soldiers moving across the Bering Strait to invade the continental U.S.A. and bring judgment to this country for becoming a land of sodomites,” Wiles said. “Don’t worry. You will be raptured before World War III begins, right?”

A couple of things, Dick. As I told the other Dick, there are other things that have been going on since the country’s founding that violate the same Chapter of the Bible you cite as justification for your views, but God’s never done anything about that. Also, invading Alaska would be stupid, as Canada would immediately get involved to defend its borders, and the land invasion would do nothing but get troops killed. And Putin may be crazy but he’s not stupid. I also don’t think he cares enough about marriage equality to invade us to stop it. I’m pretty sure the United Nations isn’t going to let him get away with that. Nor would the people of Alaska. You think these people who openly talk about secession don’t believe they can take care of themselves? You’d be better off skipping Alaska, keeping a blockade above the Pacific Northwest, and invading the State of Washington, where they’re all happily stoned. Lastly, I honestly don’t know how Conservatives can claim to be followers of an obvious Liberal like the character Jesus Christ of Nazareth, as portrayed by the very white American actor, Jeffrey Hunter, who came back (as foretold in Revelations) to command the USS Enterprise.

Michael “Savage” Weiner
In case you didn’t know, professional misanthrope Michael Savage’s real last name is Weiner. I do not know, nor do I care, if he has legally changed his last name to Savage, but that is certainly his DBA name. Michael Savage. Sounds so masculine, so macho, so not-at-all compensation for being beaten up continuously in school for having the last name Weiner. I’m guessing it was immigrants who administered most of the beatings, as The Weiner has a serious grudge against them. He wants them deported, every single one. After expressing his love for Sen Joseph McCarthy, The Weiner said we should work out a deal with Russia to build Siberian internment camps where we could send all these deported people. Except it wouldn’t work, Weiner. Because Russia would just train them all, put them in uniform, and send them in to invade Alaska where, quite frankly, they wouldn’t care what happened to them, because they’d become the problem of the Independent Country of Alaska.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Dicks or anything else you wish to discuss.