Daily Gnuz (of the day)

Welcome to Wednesday the Nineteenth of July, in the year 2017

Here’s what’z in the gnuz.

Inside Trump Family’s Turmoil Amid Russia Scandal: Don Jr. Is ‘Miserable’ and Wants ‘These Four Years to Be Over’
h/t People (yeah, I know, please just ignore the noise on the cover about Blac Chyna, etc)
Ahh, Donny Junior, you’re not the only one with that sentiment. BUT! There’s an easy way out! Just have daddy resign, and you can go back to being the total sleazebag you’ve always been, just without all the damnable scrutiny that is routinely applied to those in the First Nepotistic Family!

And

Tax reform becomes a must-win issue for the White House
h/t Politico
Prediction…They’ll have exactly the same failure as the repeal of ACA. Rand Paul will insist on a flat tax, no Republikkin will agree to close loopholes the size of galaxies for their patrons and benefactors in Big (fill in blank here, Pharma, Oil…you call it)

Finally,

Trump: Republicans ‘never discuss how good their healthcare bill is’
h/t The Hill
Agreed, Orangeshitgibbon, the only question remaining would be ‘good for who/m’??? Idiot.

And ONE MORE find o’ the day at Vox!
Trump can’t make a health care deal because he doesn’t understand health care
A terrific treatise on how not to lead the nation in an area
like health care…

Open Thread, enjoy!
RUCerious @ TPZoo

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The Watering Hole, Monday, January 23rd, 2017: Freedom of the Press

We’ve all ripped both network and cable news organizations for their role in aiding and abetting this abomination of a Presidential election. But since the Orange Shitgibbon has won, and he and his spokesgoblins are taking more active steps to label any accurate and unflattering reporting of their words and activities as “fake news” by the “dishonest press”, this should be considered a very serious attack on the First Amendment right of Freedom of the Press. After having previously, in a fit of pique, revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials during the campaign, now the new Trump administration has shut down access to and from CNN.

According to a MediaMatters article:

President Donald Trump and his team continued their unprecedented attempts to delegitimize and blacklist CNN by refusing to have a representative appear on CNN’s Sunday political talk show, State of the Union, while booking appearances on the other major political talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co.
At the top of the January 22 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper said that his show “asked the Trump White House for a member of the new administration to join us this morning, but they declined.”

 

During Trump’s first press conference as president-elect on January 11, Trump refused to take a question from CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, calling his network “fake news” and “terrible.” Following the event, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer admitted to threatening to remove Acosta from the press conference and later demanded an apology. Trump ally and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich responded to the incident by asserting that Trump should use the altercation to “shrink and isolate” CNN and eventually “close down the elite press.” Acosta and his colleagues from across the media condemned Trump’s treatment of CNN.

 

The Trump team’s refusal to appear on CNN came one day after it declined to air the live feed of Spicer’s first press conference after the inauguration, where Spicer blatantly lied about the size of inauguration crowds. According to Variety’s Brian Steinberg, “CNN’s refusal to take the live feed suggests executives there are reluctant to put false statements on air, and, what’s more, do not think the new White House press representative is entirely credible.” From the January 21 report:

 

“CNN’s decision to not air the press conference live illustrates a recognition that the role of the press must be different under Trump. When the White House holds press briefings to promote demonstrably false information and refuses to take questions, then press ‘access’ becomes meaningless at best and complicit at worst,” said Danna Young, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who studies politics and the media. “Democracy works best when journalists have access to the executive branch, of course. But that holds true if and only if that access leads to verifiable, accurate information. The decision on behalf of CNN to wait and verify before airing it live suggests that the media are adapting quickly to this new era.”

 

To be certain, news outlets routinely make decisions about whether to air press events live, usually based on projections about news value. But this press conference, held just a day after the President’s inauguration, would have been a hot prospect for a cable-news outlet, and could have sparked hours of debate and follow-up on CNN’s schedule. In an unusual and aggressive maneuver, CNN aired its regular weekday lineup this Saturday, underscoring heavy interest in breaking news of a series of massive protests by women across the nation in response to Trump’s presidency as well as the new President’s first few days in office.

While I am still outraged by the fact that CNN had hired Corey Lewandowski fresh from the Trump team campaign, and paid the lying POS good money to NOT say anything bad about Trump, maybe, just maybe, CNN can redeem itself by employing real investigative journalism. There’s a lot to dig into in all aspects of Trump’s life/taxes/business practices/Russian connections/conflicts of interest, and a 24-hour news network is what’s needed to get to the bottom of Trump’s “alternate facts” swamp.

What do you say, CNN? Do the right thing, or cave to a tyrant?

This is our Open Thread–comments welcome.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 19th. 2016: The Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment refers to a change in the U.S. tax code made in 1954 which prohibited certain tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates upon this prohibition as follows:

[4] Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

The Internal Revenue Service provides resources to exempt organizations and the public to help them understand the prohibition. As part of its examination program, the IRS also monitors whether organizations are complying with the prohibition.

[4] “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations”. Irs.gov. 2012-08-14. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-09.

Keeping this in mind, let’s turn to the main “Politics” page of The Christian Post. I noticed two articles there regarding the tax-exempt status of certain religious organizations. However, since one of them purports to prove through Biblical scriptures that churches are supposed to get involved in politics – “Preaching on Politics Is Biblical”, By Rev. Mark H. Creech: “To argue that pastors should avoid all politicking and just stick to preaching, I suggest, is not only unbiblical but un-American” – which is a ridiculous pile of horse manure, I’ll focus on the other one.

The article by Samuel Smith discusses a survey which found that the vast majority of Americans (79%) feel that “pastors should not endorse political candidates.

Nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe it’s inappropriate for pastors to endorse political candidates at church, while over seven in 10 Americans feel it’s inappropriate for churches to endorse political candidates.
As part of a LifeWay Research survey released last week, 1,000 randomly selected Americans were asked over the phone about their views on whether or not it’s appropriate for clergy and churches to endorse politicians for political office.

The survey comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which puts churches at risk of losing their tax-exempt status if they endorse political candidates or if their pastors endorse political candidates in church.

According to the survey, which has a plus-or-minus 3.6 percentage point margin of error, 79 percent of the respondents either somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with the sentence: “I believe it is appropriate for pastors to publicly endorse candidates for public office during a church service.”

Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents said they somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches endorsing political candidates for public office. Additionally, 81 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches using their resources to campaign for political candidates.

As it does not violate the Johnson Amendment for a pastor to endorse a political candidate outside church as a citizen, 53 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with pastors endorsing candidates outside of their role in the church. Only 43 percent somewhat agreed or strongly agreed with it being appropriate for a pastor to endorse a candidate for public office outside of the church.

Although many Americans might not think it’s appropriate for pastors or churches to endorse political candidates, 52 percent of respondents felt that churches should not be stripped of their tax-exempt status for endorsing candidates.

“I don’t think pastors should endorse candidates and I don’t think churches should endorse candidates,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

“They should be looking for candidates who endorse them, but I believe that should be a decision that is left to the churches, not dictated by the government,” added Land, who is also CP’s executive editor. “I favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment but at the same time, I don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates. That ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government. To me, that is a violation of the First Amendment. How does that fit with the free** exercise of religion?”

Dr. Richard Land is “President of Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board“, as well as being the Christian Post’s executive editor.  To quote The Church Lady, “How conVEENient!”  Of course you favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.  I find it highly unlikely, however, that you “don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates.”  Your idea that it “ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government”, and that it’s “a violation of the First Amendment”, is totally ludicrous.

Left up to the individual churches, how long will it be before (at least) thousands of dioceses gleefully dive into the political cesspool?  And how would this NOT be a religious entity’s version of Citizens United – rather than a corporation, it’s a “church” that is now a “person” with the same expansive “free speech” rights, (i.e., to take up a special collection during Mass or its equivalent, a ritual which can be used to shame any who do not contribute towards influencing political outcomes and policies.)

The survey data was broken down into religious demographics and found that Protestants (20 percent) are more likely than Catholics (13 percent) to agree with it being appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates. About 27 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants feel it’s appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates.

About 33 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants said it’s appropriate for churches to endorse political candidates, while only 27 percent of Protestants and 18 percent of Catholics agree.

“My main concern would be that churches would end up being embarrassed by the later behavior of politicians they have endorsed. Richard Nixon comes to mind,” Land said. “When Billy Graham heard the Watergate tapes, he went into the bathroom and vomited because he was so upset that Nixon was so different than the person he had presented himself to be.”

So, Dr. Land, when was the first time that Donald Trump’s shady dealings, incessant lying and boasting, badly-cloaked hints to his Trumpkins to exercise their Second Amendment rights to “stop Crooked Hillary”, etc., etc. – when was the first time all of that made YOU run into the bathroom and vomit? I’m willing to bet NEVER. And I can’t even (don’t want to) imagine just what it will finally take, what ever-more-hideous and dangerous idiocies, pronouncements or behaviors, will finally open your eyes to the fact that you are supporting a monster who is lying through his teeth about being a Christian in any sense of the word. FFS, Trump actually says that he doesn’t ask god for forgiveness, because he doesn’t feel that he has done anything that needs divine forgiveness! The arrogance and ignorance of Charlatan Trump make a well-deserved mockery of your craven acceptance of all of Trump’s evil, decidedly un-Christian “moral values.” You sold your soul to play a fool for Trump, and I hope that you puke your rotten guts out when the realization hits you.

Land added that when churches and pastors get involved in endorsing candidates, that can “turn off people we are trying to reach.”

“If you endorse Republican candidates, you are going to seemingly make it more difficult to reach Democrats with the Gospel,” he said.

Another thing that Dr. Land doesn’t realize is that many of the religious folk who actually try to follow Christ’s teachings are Democrats. But you’d never reach them with the kind of “Gospel” that Evangelicals preach. Don’t forget that “gospel” meant “good news”, which is something that, IMO, Evangelicals don’t talk about much – too busy trying to frighten their flocks of sheep.

Land concluded that the church’s role is to make sure that their congregants understand the biblical positions on political issues. However, it is up to each voter to “connect the dots” at the voting booth.

“I think that the church, we are commanded to be salt and light, so we can get involved on issues and we make it clear where the Bible stands on issues,” Land said. “But, we have to leave it to the people to connect** their own dots.”

**The word “free” was highlighted as a link in this story at CP’s site, as was the word “connect” noted below. Instead of providing further enlightenment of what defines the ‘”free” exercise of religion, it actually links to a Pizza Hut(TM) coupon/deal offer. How sacred!

Hey, don’t forget to check out the Christian Post’s “Most Popular” threads (lower right sidebar), the subjects of which do NOT do anything to disabuse me of the conclusion that “Evangelical” “Christians” are ghoulish nosy perverts.

This is our daily Open Thread – what’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 20th, 2016: Promises, Promises

ICYMI –

From yesterday’s Washington Post: David A. Fahrenthold and Alice Crites present an in-depth, detailed look at Donald Trump’s claimed generosity on The Apprentice, focusing on promises of donations to many of the ‘fired’ contestants’ favorite charity. Despite the video recordings and transcripts of the show verifying Trump’s own words (the particular phrases varied, but the meaning was unambiguous), not one single penny came out of his own personal “wallet”, “pocket” or “account.” In fact, several of the named charities never received the stated donation at all.

Obviously, this provides more evidence that Trump has always been a lying, cheap, manipulative fraud whose word – as in, “his word is his bond” – means absolutely nothing. Of course, anyone with half a brain should know that anyway. But many details about the Trump Foundation and its funding that the WaPo investigation dug up also make it clear that The Donald’s tax returns contain more than one reason why he refuses to release them.

Trump’s pattern of public displays of ‘generosity’ without the actual donation has already been seen over the course of his campaign. WaPo’s report reinforces the fact that this is a real pattern, and one that, in view of Trump’s monstrously overblown ego, we should expect to continue simply because Trump cannot help himself. And it won’t just be about money. While Trump’s mouth is not as big as his ego, it is certainly bigger than his wallet, his brain, and whatever dark, malignant growth passes for his ‘soul.’ His big mouth will continue to make empty promises that he cannot and will not keep. Trump’s entire campaign is simply snake oil, but he and his rube supporters are really the snakes.

One could almost feel sorry for the Republican party – almost, but since they created this monster, the GOP doesn’t deserve pity. What they really deserve is worldwide humiliation, followed by extinction. However, I find it ironic that in 2012 they chose an extremely wealthy and experienced candidate who at least knew the ropes; this time around, all they could afford was a fake billionaire with fake hair and a fake persona who knows nothing, absolutely nothing, about how government works. Well, they got what they paid for, and now they are paying much more dearly than they apparently could have imagined.  Let’s hope that the rest of the country doesn’t have to pay so dearly for the GOP’s biggest mistake.

This is our daily Open Thread, so go ahead and talk about anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 9th, 2015: Monday Morning Morons

I know that we do a lot of Right-Wing-Nut-Job (RWNJ) bashing here, much of it about the more Rabid Religious amongst them (RRRWNJ) but…well, both (often overlapping) groups just come up with so many things that invite ridicule, they’re their own worst enemy. Just look at last week alone (in case you missed some of these):

Being gay is worse than Murder and Genocide. Yes, now, according to “Pastor” Scott Lively, homosexuality is the Number One sin against God. An excerpt from Right Wing Watch’s article:

“Last month, rabidly anti-gay activist Scott Lively warned that if the Supreme Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage, it could lead to the rise of the Antichrist by the end of the year.”

In an interview with Bryan Fischer on Friday, “Lively told Fischer that America is about to cross “a line with God that hasn’t occurred in the entire history of the world since Noah’s flood” – which Lively claims was caused by god because god apparently hates gays. Back in January of 2013, Lively had stated:

“We need to remember that in the time leading up to the Flood what the rabbis teach about the last straw for God before He brought the Flood was when they started writing wedding songs to homosexual marriage and Jesus said that you’ll know the End Times because it will be like the days of Noah. There’s never been a time in the history of the world since before the Flood when homosexual marriage has been open and celebrated, and that’s another sign that I believe that we’re close to the end.”

(Snip)

“I think this is the issue of the End Times, homosexuality. It’s present, if you do a careful investigation of all the scriptures dealing with this from the beginning and all the way to the end, God is painting a very clear picture that this represents the outer extent of rebellion against Him in a society and the last thing that happens before wrath comes.”

Okay…first, I thought that President Barack “Hussein” Obama was the AntiChrist in RWNJ eyes. So there’s another one? Second, I don’t know what religious sect/cult Lively is the “Pastor” of, but if it’s based on Christianity in any way, then I must have been dozing throughout my 13 years of Catholic schools.

Anyhoo…today, “Pastor” Lively is urging his followers and other groups to, according to his “Open Letter to America”

“…band together in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to promote and conduct a continual prayer vigil and stand-out for marriage at SCOTUS (or any Federal Courthouse for those who can’t get there) from now until the ruling comes out, probably in June…”
“This is a general call to all believers to go to SCOTUS alone or in groups to pray and hold signs. Churches and other organizations can choose dates or times to rally their own troops if they like and/or hold press conferences etc., but let’s all just put out the word to whatever circle of influence we have and let the Holy Spirit stir hearts.

I am asking every Christian and pro-family radio talk host to promote this vigil, and perhaps do a broadcast from the site. Large organizations could provide logistical support…”

(snip)

“Only God can save us from the calamity and disgrace of defiling His institution of marriage in our official national policy.

Let us take the authority we have in Him, and the freedom we have as Americans, to join together to surround the federal judges with such a hedge of prayer that they will be forced to bow their knee to the one who created marriage as the foundation of all human civilization — one man and one woman.”

Hmm, “god created marriage as the foundation of all civilization”? I don’t remember any wedding performed by god himself–you’d think that the bible would have mentioned that, huh? And now Scott Lively thinks that the entire Supreme Court of the United States should get on their knees for something other than sucking Koch and refer all decisions to Lively’s god? I realize that one or two of the Justices would be happy to do so, but all nine? Rather unconstitutional, don’tcha think?

Back to Lively’s call for a prayer vigil: from BibleGateway, the 1599 Geneva Bible version, here’s 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land”
Footnotes: 2 Chronicles 7:14 I will cause the pestilence to cease and destroy the beasts that hurt the fruits of the earth, and send rain in due season.

I’m not sure how Lively uses this as an anti-gay call to march/pray, as neither 2 Chronicles 6, nor the remainder of 2 Chronicles 7, makes any reference to homosexuality. But I’m sure that Lively’s twisted interpretation is a masterpiece of pulling it out of his ass, so to speak. Considering how many whoppers he produces, one could probably drive an SUV up his asshole–well, a 4WD SUV, anyway.

Well, let’s leave “Pastor” Lively to his unChristian vigil, and go on to:

OMG, Christians are being persecuted – again! Poor embattled Ken Ham (“Answers In Genesis”, Creation Museum) is whining about being denied $18 million in tax breaks for his planned Noah’s Ark park by the State of Kentucky’s Tourism Board. The Board “cited AIG’s stated intention to discriminate based on religion in its hiring of theme park employees and to use the taxpayer-subsidized park for religious evangelism…” On a RW radio program last week, Ham stated:

“If Christians just keep accommodating and allowing this to happen more and more, we will lose that free exercise of religion.”

“It’s more and more of that trying to eliminate the Christian freedom that we have in this nation,” he said.

Yes, of course…those poor, poor Christians having to cave to the Constitution. I just don’t know how they’ll manage to keep practicing their faith, what with all their churches being shut down and religious leaders arrested, and…oh, wait, that never happens. But, but…tax breaks!

And lastly, in a switch away from the RRRWNJs to the “normal” RWNJs, Fox News’ pet climate change denier, Mark Morano of climatedepot.com, is very upset. According to RawStory, he does NOT like the idea that “Google’s popular web-search engine is being re-engineered to direct users to more “trustworthy” websites, saying “Let the public decide what’s the truth…” The article goes on to say:

“The proposed changes at Google would move websites up in the rankings based upon truth and not popularity.

Morano, who previously worked for Rush Limbaugh and climate change-denying Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), says this would be[sic] put him at a disadvantage.

Well, fucking DUH.

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 21st, 2014: SCALIA: JUSTice REVOLTing

Why does Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia keep giving us more reasons to question his fitness for his job?

It’s not like he hasn’t provided ample evidence of judicial bias over the years, the most fateful of which being his participation in the Selection of George W. Bush as President in Bush v Gore. Scalia’s later spinning of that decision, along with his callous exhortations to Gore voters to “get over it!”, calls into question both the decision and his more recent mental competence. One commenter on the linked article, which is from 2012, succinctly put it:

“Since Supreme Court decisions are intended to set legal precedent going forward (although in this bizarre instance the court stated this decision was meant to be sui generis, an abrogation of its function) then it is literally impossible to “get over” a Supreme Court decision. Maybe this swaggering jerk should step down if he doesn’t get that.”

justice scalia being rude
From a 2012 article in The Daily Beast, some info about the most infamous photo of Scalia:

“Vaffanculo”
Scalia didn’t appreciate a reporter from the Boston Herald asking him in 2006 how he responds to critics who say his religion impairs his fairness in rulings. “To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’” Scalia reportedly said, flicking his right hand from under his chin. In Italian, this not-so subtle phrase means “f–k off” and the accompanying hand flick is equally rude. “You’re not going to print that are you?” he apparently asked in an interaction that occurred, it’s worth noting, inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at Sunday mass.”

[emphasis mine]

Scalia has no love for LGBT Americans, as discussed in a 2013 Mother Jones article. One example:

“In his dissent in Lawrence [Lawrence v Texas], Scalia argued that moral objections to homosexuality were sufficient justification for criminalizing gay sex. “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home,” he wrote. “They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

And in this Mother Jones article from February of 2012, sarcastically entitled “Supreme Court Poised to Declare Racism Over”, the [dis]honarable Justice Scalia displays his views on racial discrimination during Shelby County, Alabama’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act. From the article:

That’s not to say all discrimination is a thing of the past. In the eyes of the high court’s conservatives, America has transcended its tragic history of disenfranchising minorities, but there’s still one kind of discrimination that matters: Discrimination against the states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was “sort of extraordinary to say” that “Congress can just pick out…these eight states,” referring to the states covered by Section 5.

Later, Scalia telegraphed his reasoning for what will almost certainly be a vote to strike down part of the law. Explaining overwhelming support for the Voting Rights Act reauthorization in Congress in 2006, Scalia called Section 5 the “perpetuation of a racial entitlement” that legislators would never have the courage to overturn. “In the House there are practically black districts by law now,” Scalia complained.

[Makes ya wonder how Scalia’s Siamese twin, Clarence Thomas, REALLY feels about discrimination against other American citizens of color.]

When Supreme Court Justices are connected at the spine

When Supreme Court Justices are connected at the spine


Conan O'Brien hits the nail on the head

Conan O’Brien hits the nail on the head

And then there’s these:
scalia court not political

Delusions of grandeur?

Delusions of grandeur?

Last week, Justice Scalia came out with another disturbing notion. From yesterday’s Think Progress thread:

“During an event at the University of Tennessee’s law school on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggested to the capacity crowd that perhaps they should revolt against the U.S government if their taxes ever get too high.

During a question and answer part of the event, a student asked Scalia about the constitutionality of a federal income tax. Scalia assured the questioner that the tax was in fact permissible by the constitution, but added that if it ever became too high, “perhaps you should revolt.” … Supreme Court justices have largely refrained from such rhetoric. Still, in recent years, Scalia has shifted even further to the right than when he was first appointed.

Days later, at a joint appearance with fellow Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Scalia offered a bit of ironic commentary on inflammatory rhetoric. “It sometimes annoys me when somebody has made outrageous statements that are hateful,” he told the audience at the National Press Club. “Sometimes the press will say, ‘well, he was just exercising his first amendment rights’…You can be using your first amendment rights and it can be abominable that you are using your first amendment rights. I’ll defend your right to use it, but I will not defend the appropriateness of the manner in which you are using it.”

[Right back atcha, Antonin.]

And all of this from someone who was once a regular on the PBS series “Ethics In America”. The series was produced by the Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society and was hosted by Fred Friendly; individual episodes can be viewed here. I recommend checking out some of the episodes; the ones with Scalia show a younger, more reasonable and slightly more jovial Antonin Scalia.

These days, I don’t believe that Antonin Scalia knows the meaning of the word “ethics.”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 17th, 2013: Small Gummint/Big Gummint: A Love/Hate Story

It’s been two months since the tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Currently, town leaders and residents looking for financial assistance in rebuilding seem to be involved in navigating a maze to acquire that funding. Of course, first the people of West who had insurance coverage have to start there, while other funding sources must wait in the wings to pick up where the insurance leaves off. But that’s where the real maze starts.According to the local ABC News affiliate, WFAA.com:

“…more than $5 million in private donations has funneled into accounts set up at the town’s two banks, as well as a variety of relief funds through agencies like the Salvation Army, Baylor University and the Waco Foundation.
The Waco Foundation has collected the largest amount to date, close to $1.4 million. Executive director Ashley Allison…admits only about $20,000 of the $1.4 million has been handed out.

Baylor hasn’t yet distributed a single penny.

The Salvation Army told News 8 most of the money it has put into West so far was to cover operational expenses of their relief efforts on the ground.

So what accounts for the holdup?

Town leaders have been pushing for most of the private donations to be channeled through a newly established non-profit organization called the West Long-Term Recovery Center. The center is trying to attain a 501(c)3 designation so it can fully operate as a charity and start helping distribute the private money that the relief funds and banks have collected.

“It is a process, we know that,” said interim executive director Karen Bernsen.

The Internal Revenue Service will ultimately decide on approving the center’s designation. An application was filed last month, but there is no timetable for approval.”

But no one is going to pay attention to mundane details about local West town government, when there’s an opening to complain about a ‘big gummint’ agency. As USAToday.com reported,

“According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state’s appeal to help West but decided that the explosion “is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.””

From wacotrib.com, responses to FEMA’s decision:

“Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was critical of the federal response.

“…once the cameras have stopped rolling, President Obama’s FEMA has denied our state and our neighbors the necessary opportunities to rebuild critical infrastructure in the town, including an entire school.””

West Mayor Tommy Muska: “… In my opinion, the federal government is looking for the state to pony up and the state is looking at the federal government to pay.””

“U.S. Rep. Bill Flores…said he will urge fellow Texas Congress members to sign a letter urging the president to reverse the decision.”

Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell,
R-Granbury, said in a statement he also was “stunned” at the ruling and pledged to work with Perry, Flores and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz toward winning an appeal.

Governor Perry’s office: “The day of the West memorial service, President Obama stood in front of a grieving community and told them they would not be forgotten. He said his administration would stand with them, ready to help. We anticipate the president will hold true to his word and help us work with FEMA to ensure much-needed assistance reaches the community of West.”

Even though the main headline of the majority of articles was “FEMA denies aid to West, Texas”, most of them did, at least, admit that:

“FEMA has, however, provided emergency funds to individual residents.” ~ WFAA.com

“FEMA said last week more than $6.5 million has been approved for nearly 800 residents impacted by the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17.” ~ WFAA.com

“Though FEMA is denying aid to the city, agency representatives note that millions of dollars have gone directly to residents in the form of grants and low-interest loans.” ~ wacotrib.com

So, does anyone else besides me find it ironic that Texas, a state whose Republican leaders extol States’ Rights and despise all ‘big gummint’, especially the IRS and FEMA, now is looking to that same ‘big gummint’ for taxpayer-funded relief? Let’s see who, if any, amongst them, suggests that the federal government should cut spending elsewhere in order to ‘balance’ the FEMA aid that Texas requests.

Finally, there’s this pointless, obviously slanted piece by Mike Sackett of USA Today. Here’s a couple of excerpts:

“Federal agencies investigating the cause of the blast that killed 15 and injured 200 would do well to include in their findings the federal government’s pivotal role in making the stuff that exploded. That might change FEMA’s attitude.”

[The “federal government’s pivotal role”? Making ammonium nitrate into bombs in WWII! Darn gummint!]

~ and ~

“I suspect that as long as the National Security Agency’s domestic spying scandal sizzles in the glare of public scrutiny, federal investigators in Texas will loll in the shade, taking their sweet time investigating the explosion in West.”

[And I suspect that Mr. Sackett is pulling stuff out of his ass here.]

This is our Open Thread. Talk about anything that’s on your mind!