The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 20, 2014: Conservative Governance

I’ve often said it’s the ideology of the political people doing things, not the party, that matters. On a national level, the Republican Party is entirely Conservative, with no Liberals in the House or Senate. The Democratic Party, OTOH, has many fiercely staunch Liberals, but it also has Conservatives, especially from predominantly red states, who we call “ConservaDems”, from the Latin word for “assholes.” People almost exclusively attribute to Republicans what should rightly be attributed to Conservatism. When people talk about what a Republican-controlled House passed, they often ignore how much Democratic support that same bill got. And that support usually didn’t come from the Liberal Wing of the party, it came from the Assholes, I mean, ConservaDems. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (a/k/a, “LBJ”) passed his New Deal legislation, some prominent millionaires set about to destroy everything FDR (a/k/a “Neil Patrick Harris”) did. They did it because they were Conservatives, and Conservatism is a philosophy rooted in Selfishness, of putting the needs and desires of oneself above all others. It is the antithesis of Liberalism, which seeks to do what’s best for everyone as a whole. The mistake is in believing that the best way to govern a country is to treat both philosophies as equally valid. They are not. When you want to govern a population of lots of different people, you need to think about the group as a whole, not just about the individuals, whose concerns ,must also be considered. Conservatives do not believe in thinking about people as a whole group, but prefer to think of them as a bunch of individuals. I’m not saying there’s no place for a little bit of Conservative thought brought to a search for a public solution to a problem. It actually helps to have people who can say, “But the way you wrote this, convicted sex offenders can still vote in school board elections. Do you want that?” Or something like that. They can help define what the reasonable limits of our public assistance should be. But if you left it entirely up to them to decide, there would be no public assistance at all! And that is where America is headed by giving control of the country to Conservatives. Here’s some examples of the kinds of things Conservatives do when they get hold of public office.

By now you’ve heard stories about Ferguson, Missouri, Grand Jury Witness 40, the one whose testimony staunchly (and a little suspiciously) supported Officer Darren Wilson’s version of events. I say “suspiciously” because she raised money for Darren Wilson’s defense before giving testimony. And because she was a documented liar. [WARNING: Site has photo at the top of Officer Wilson standing over Michael Brown’s deceased, uncovered body. Just thought you should know.] This has not stopped Conservative radio and television entity Sean Hannity from using her perjury testimony words to defend Wilson. Now, one might wonder why a prosecutor would put someone up to testify to a grand jury, whose sole purpose is to decide if enough evidence exists to indict someone, if he knew the person would not give truthful testimony. He must not have known how unreliable a witness she was. Funny thing about that. It turns out he did know. He knew she could not possibly have been a witness to the events of that day, yet he put her forth, without revealing to the grand jury why he knew she was lying, to relay what turned out to be, for all intents and purposes, Darren Wilson’s version of events, as if it would corroborate what he told investigators. Conservatives do not respect the Truth, especially when it proves them wrong. If you know nothing else about how the grand jury process works, you must have heard that you can indict a ham sandwich. All that means is if a prosecutor wants to bring charges against someone so they stand trial, it can easily be done, even if evidence exists of the person’s innocence. So when a prosecutor with a history of being pro-police fails to convince a grand jury that a cop shooting an unarmed man might have committed a crime, you have to conclude he didn’t try very hard. Maybe there’s another ham sandwich out there against whom he will bring charges. In the meantime, that’s what Conservative law enforcement will get you. Expect to hear more stories like this.

Speaking of Missouri, even though women in this country (regardless of which state they’re in) have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion, a woman there must give her consent and convince the person performing the abortion that she is not being forced to have it. But it’s not enough for her to say on her own that she wants to have an abortion. But State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced a bill to be taken up in next year’s session that would require a woman to obtain and present the consent of the biological father before receiving abortion services. The language of the bill says there’s an exception if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, but in an interview with Mother Jones Brattin said that the rape would have to be proven.

“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin tells Mother Jones. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.” Brattin adds that he is not using the term “legitimate rape” in the same way as former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who famously claimed that women couldn’t get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” “I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed,” Brattin says. “That’s just common sense.” Under his bill, he adds, “you have to take steps to show that you were raped…And I’d think you’d be able to prove that.” The bill contains no provision establishing standards for claiming the rape or incest exceptions. It also doesn’t state any specific penalties for violating the law nor say whether a penalty would be imposed on the woman seeking the abortion or the abortion provider.

Some Conservatives may argue that if there is no penalty for not doing these things, then why worry about it? That’s not the point. Why write the law that way at all if it really doesn’t matter to you whether or not he woman is telling the truth? Unless, of course, your entire point is to humiliate and dominate a woman already going through a very difficult decision. A decision she has every legal right to make. Because we already know the truth doesn’t matter when you’re a Conservative. Brattin defended his bill by claiming it was an attempt to protect men’s rights. That’s nice, except Roe v. Wade protected a woman’s rights, not a man’s. If any such right existed in this situation, it surely would have been part of the debate from the beginning. It hasn’t because it doesn’t. You won’t hear many Liberals introducing bills like this..

And if you think Conservative governance is bad from the beginning of life, it doesn’t get any better at the end, either, especially when it’s a “legitimate death” at the hands of the state. If you don’t know this already about me, I am adamantly, 100% opposed to the use of capital punishment anywhere in the world, but I am especially opposed to its use in a country supposedly built on the idea of personal freedom (if you listen to the Conservatives.) There is 0% justification to execute someone for a crime he did not commit, but Conservatives on the Supreme Court don’t think that’s a problem. Nor are Conservatives particularly concerned about how cruel an execution is, as evidenced by Oklahoma’s refusal to stop using a drug in its lethal injections that doctors have warned is inadequate to do the job it’s supposed to do. After botching the execution of Clayton Lockett, 21 inmates have asked the courts to suspend further execution using lethal injections. One of the drugs used, which is supposed to make the condemned unconscious, doesn’t perform well enough to be used in operations (where you don’t want the patient waking up to find out his insides are opened up) and would be “problematic” to use in executions. The drugs that would be best for this purpose, if you still want to go through with killing someone that badly, are sold in Europe, and most European nations refuse to sell them if they know they’ll be used in carrying out executions. Good for them. What Oklahoma Government Murderers are failing to remember is that lethal injection was supposed to be a more humane way of killing someone because they would be unconscious for the part where they are killed. That point is entirely missed when the condemned is wide awake and totally aware of the effects on his body. Liberals care about this kind of thing. if you’re going to have executions at all (and there is no evidence that it does any good at deterring others from committing the same crimes), then don’t be like the people you say are the worst in Society. Conservatives, who respond better to negative stimuli, don’t get that a killer who knows someone else is getting executed for his crimes, is not in the least bit deterred from killing again. So you can expect more people to be put to death and, because it is inevitable if you’re going to execute people, more of them will be innocent of the crimes for which they are being executed, which doesn’t serve Society at all.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the disease that is Conservatism, or anything else you wish to discuss.

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The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 8, 2014: Why Republican Religiosity is Wrong

According to my dictionary, the definition of “fact” is

n. 1. the quality of existing or of being real; actuality; truth.
2. something known to exist or have happened.
3. a truth known by actual experience or observation.

Facts are important. When Reality offers a challenge, you must deal with facts if you’re going to solve the problem. You can’t solve a real problem if you ignore the facts, or worse, try to act as if the opposite were true. Now look at the definition of “belief”:

n. 1. something believed; an opinion or conviction.
2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to vigorous proof.
3. confidence, faith, or trust.
4. a religious tenet or tenets

Notice the difference between these two words. Facts have the quality of being real and actual, where beliefs do not require any reality or actuality. You can believe something with all your heart but it won’t make it a fact if it’s not actually true. Beliefs can be wrong (and often are), but facts, by their very definition, cannot be wrong, because they are what is true, what actually happened. When it comes to education, you cannot treat belief as equal to fact. You cannot give an opinion or conviction equal weight with something real, actual or true. It may, in the long run, turn out that what someone believes is true, but that doesn’t justify teaching it as an actual fact, reliable as anything based on scientific evidence or experiment. Just because you believe something to be true, it doesn’t mean everyone else should be taught your belief as it were an actual fact. Especially, and I cannot emphasize this enough, if your belief is a religious one.

There are many Americans (far, far too many, IMHO) who believe that The Bible is factually true, that it is literally the Word of God, and that it should be taught in public schools. I have yet to hear any of these proponents specify which version of the Bible should be considered “The” Bible, and this, in itself, is problematic for me. Not so much that people can’t decide which version of the Bible they want taught in public schools, but that there are so many versions of the “literal Word of God” in the first place from which a choice must be made. They’re all different in some way or else there wouldn’t be different versions. But how can any one of them claim to be the literal Word of God if they differ? And just because King James I commissioned a new version of The Bible which he hoped would replace the one then currently in widespread use, why should that version be given any more credibility than any other version? It’s not because the King said so, as James did not make any order or proclamation that this version of The Bible be used in place of any other. It might interest you to know that the Geneva Bible, the one eventually supplanted by the KJV, was even more popular among the Pilgrims than the KJV. So when enthusiastic Conservative Christians claim America was founded on the principles of “The Bible,” it’s important to know which version they mean. But I digress.

In Missouri, Republicans want belief to be given equal authority to fact. A second-term State Representative, Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), has introduced a bill that would allow parents to pull their children out of classes where evolution is being taught. “What my bill would do is it would allow parents to opt out of natural selection teaching,” Brattin explained. “It would not prohibit the child from going through biology from learning about cell structure, DNA and the building blocks of life.” Mr. Brattin has been trying for several years to get Intelligent Design taught in high school science classes as an alternative theory to Darwin’s theories about Natural Selection. This despite the fact (there’s that important word) that courts have consistently ruled against public schools teaching Intelligent Design as Science because it’s nothing more than Creationism dressed up in a sexier framework. [A quick word about Natural Selection. Its advocacy of “survival of the fittest” does not, as its opponents often say, mean “survival of the strongest.” Rather it means survival of the species most suited – i.e., “fit” – for a given environment. If the edible leaves on the plants are higher up on the tree, the species that can reach them are more likely to survive and pass on their physical characteristics to their offspring than the ones who can’t reach them as easily. It has nothing to do with strength, but with suitability to one’s environment. The species that thrive, survive, and the ones that don’t, won’t.]

No matter how they try to disguise it, Intelligent Design is nothing more than Creationism, and Creationism is nothing but Religion, and Christianity in particular. And it’s a violation of the First Amendment to require publicly financed schools to adhere to any particular religion, even Christianity. It doesn’t matter that it’s the most popular religion in the United States, it’s still a religion and it still violates the Separation of Church and State to endorse any one over the other. You might believe it’s true, but you can’t prove it through any scientific methods, and that’s the primary reason it has no place in a Science class room. Evolution, on the other hand, has testable hypotheses and is constantly being confirmed by new findings and evidence. If you have to infect the minds of the young with something as ridiculous as Intelligent Design (its main argument seems to be that you can’t prove it’s wrong, and the fact that you can’t explain every aspect of Evolution somehow proves that Intelligent Design is right, as if the only two choices were a 100% understanding of everything that ever happened or blind acceptance that a God designed and made everything and that this is the reason you can’t understand it), then a Philosophy or Religion or Study Hall class might be the more appropriate place. But you do not teach Creationism as Science when it is anything but. People should be free to believe it if they wish (though they’re wasting their time and lives doing so), but it shouldn’t be public policy that every child in school be taught that this particular Religion is as true as Science.

But if you think that the Science class is the only place where Republican Christians want their religious beliefs to decide all aspects of our lives, think again. Not only does Mary Helen Sears of Houghton Count, Michigan, claim that Darwin’s evolutionary theory “gave rise to Hitler’s Third Reich, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s Russia,” but she also believes homosexuals prey on children, that “Satan uses homosexuality to attack the living space of the Holy Spirit” and that Republicans “as a party should be purging this perversion and send them to a party with a much bigger tent.” Why does it matter what she thinks? Because she’s a candidate for a Michigan seat in the Republican National Committee. And she would join a man the party chairman asked to resign “for the good of the party” for his anti-gay comments. He would not do so, and due to specific party rules about representation on the national committee, a seat for only a woman was opened when a woman on the committee stepped down to concentrate on her Senate campaign. The funny thing about this anti-homosexual strain in today’s GOP is that there is no universal agreement on whether not the Bible bans homosexuality. Listening to the anti-gay crowd, you’d think the Bible was filled cover-to-cover with anti-homosexual pronouncements, but in truth there are only seven passages in the Bible that mention the subject, and not one of them is associated with Jesus! (Nor Satan, for that matter.) Why these folks think the Bible is more concerned with male homosexuality (lesbianism is not actually condemned outright anywhere in the Bible) than it is with income inequality or helping the poor is beyond me, and it is dangerous for America if they are given any kind of political power. Having your opinion influenced by Biblical teachings (whatever they may be) is one thing, but having those beliefs carved in stone by them is something altogether different. And it’s dangerous for Americans to put people who think this way in positions of political power in the secular United States of America.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you want.

The Watering Hole: Monday, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading

The Watering Hole – Saturday, October 6, 2012 – Republican Denial of Reality

Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R-GA) is member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. At a recent banquet in Georgia, Rep. Broun had this to say: [WARNING: The following transcript and video may precipitate an episode of irritable bowel syndrome.]

From Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-GA) remarks at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia:

BROUN: God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Rep W. Todd Akin (R-MO), a candidate for the U.S. Senate running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), is another member of this committee. Rep. Akin rose to national attention when he brought the phrase “legitimate rape” into the political conversation. One could call it a public service since it helped bring attention to the well-documented Republican War on Women. [In Arizona, Gov Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that could declare a women pregnant before she even had intercourse.]

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) refuses to believe that man-made Global Warming is happening. He prefers to think that solar flares are contributing more to the problem than Man.

This is just a sampling of the way Republicans approach their Constitutional responsibilities to govern. They choose people to write legislation on topics they deny need regulating, in order to to solve critical life-threatening problems they deny exist. They refuse to accept the facts as proven by scientists and prefer to write scientific legislation based on their Biblical beliefs. These people are, by definition, unqualified to sit on any committee with the word “Science” in its name. Until the Republican Party begins choosing qualified people to sit on committees overseeing various areas of our lives, they should have no voice on any legislation writing body. They can vote against the bills when they come to a floor vote, but they should be the authors of none of them.

This is our Daily Open Thread. Feel free to discuss this or any other topic you’d like to bring up. It’s okay. We’re open-minded people here. 🙂

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.]

Independence, Mo.: Lawsuit Accuses Police of Negligence

The City of Independence, its police department, and a major ambulance provider in the metro face a lawsuit. They’re accused of allowing a teenager, hit by a suspect fleeing police, to bleed to death.

Maybe most disturbing is the comment an officer made on tape.  “They’re like roaches, man,” said the unidentified Independence police officer. “They don’t die.”

That comment is at the heart of a new lawsuit filed Monday.

Last November, during a police chase, Wilfredo Pujols ran over Christopher Cooper, 17, who was crossing Noland Road on a bicycle. Pujuols pled guilty for his role in criminal court. But Cooper’s family believes “a cowboy atmosphere” within the police department makes them just as liable.

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McCain Campaign Outreach to Women – Attack Feminists

This is part of the transcript of the video courtesy of Steve Benen.

Davis explained that Palin drives “liberal feminists” “nuts” because “she’s a conservative Republican” who’s working as a governor. Bennett agreed, adding, “Let me give you three things that I think drives them crazy, and you don’t have to comment. That’s she’s very attractive. That she’s very competent or that she’s very happy. You know, as a human being.”

After Rick Davis slams “liberal feminists” with Bennett, then John McCain on Monday had some harsh criticisms about the Feminist left also.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks to supporters, Monday, Oct. 20, 2008, in St. Charles, Mo. McCain opened his remarks in St. Charles by defending Palin against unspecified attacks.

“My friends, it’s remarkable the comments of the feminist left about Sarah Palin,” he said to a chorus of boos. “I want to tell you, I am so proud of the way she has energized America. She is a reformer, she is a great leader, she is the most popular governor in America, and I can hardly wait to introduce her to Washington, D.C.”

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McCain Proud Of Terrorist Flier Sent To VA & MO

This is another reprehensible lie that John McCain is mailing to the states of Virginia and Missouri.  

The Washington Post has the full details of this particular flier. 

Sen. John McCain this week gave his personal stamp of approval to one of the toughest pieces of direct mail in the 2008 campaign. The brochure features a picture of what is either a plane about to crash into a building full of people or an airport departure gate, along with the words: “Terrorists Don’t Care Who They Hurt.”

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