The Watering Hole, Monday, July 27th, 2015: The (R) Debates

A little over a week from now, the first of the planned nine 2016 Republican Presidential debates, this one being held in Cleveland, Ohio, will kick off the start of the season. Fox will be airing the August 6th debate, which will be limited to the the top ten candidates, their inclusion being based on an average of several national polls.

Wait a second, that’s not exactly true. Fox will also air, prior to the ‘main event’, an hour-long debate amongst the second-tier candidates, according to AP via YahooNews. As of yesterday, those ‘also running’ will be: Carly “I tanked Hewlitt-Packard” Fiorina, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Elmer “George” Pataki, Rick “Frothy” Santorum, Lindsey “The Vapors” Graham, and possibly John “Republicans don’t like to wait in line” Kasich, Chris “Sit down and shut up!” Christie, and Rick “Oops!” Perry.

A few excerpts from the article:

Frank Luntz:

“If you’re not on the stage [in the first-tier debate] you’re irrelevant, you don’t matter. Unless you have some serious ad dollars, it’s not a glass ceiling. It’s a concrete ceiling.”

Well, we all know that if there’s an election coming, Frank Luntz is always going to be involved.

Rick Perry:

“Perry unloaded on Wednesday when he called Trump’s campaign a “barking carnival act” and “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense.”

OMG, I think that’s the one time we can all agree with Rick Perry on something!

Jindal campaign:

“Curt Anderson, a strategist advising Jindal’s campaign, wrote in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that the Republican Party was sabotaging itself by controlling the debates too much, after concluding that marginal candidates dragged 2012 nominee Mitt Romney too far to the right.”

Now hold on there, Anderson, Romney wasn’t pulled ‘too far to the right’, he tanked his chances all by himself with his own words.

I think that both debates should be highly entertaining. However, one thing I’m wondering: with all of the recent racial issues that have occurred in Cleveland, in particular the “Black Lives Matter” conference and protest, during which a white cop decided to pepper-spray protesters, will ANY of the candidates be asked about race relations and/or police violence? I don’t know who the moderator will be in either debate, but if they’re airing on Fox…well, we’ll just have to see.

All I can say is, after the 25+ debates during the 2012 election season, I am SO glad that there’s only supposed to be nine this time!

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, discuss things!

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, Monday, July 20th, 2015: Iran Nuclear Deal Fallout

Last week, it was announced that the long-awaited Iran Nuclear Deal was finally agreed to by the negotiating parties. The EU High Representative and the Iran Foreign Minister issued a joint statement, which included the following:

“With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.’

Apparently conservatives don’t understand most of the words and phrases in that statement. As we have seen throughout the Obama presidency, their idea of “negotiation” means “you give us everything we want, or else.” FoxNews gives a rundown on the ‘highlights'(?):

Jeb Bush: “This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement.”

Ted Cruz: This is a “fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States.”

Ben Carson: “A historic mistake with potentially deadly consequences.”

Scott Walker: “Will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.”
[According to Raw Story, Walker also stated that:

“He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran…

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about…

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.”]

Marco Rubio: The President made “concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands.”

Now, the above presidential wannabes mainly focused their criticism on the ‘evil’ Iran, with a minor mention of our bestest friend ever in the whole wide world, Israel. Huckabee, on the other hand, is pretty much all Israel, with barely even a mention of OUR country, the United States.

Mike Huckabee: “Shame on the Obama administration…

“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.’
John Kerry should have long ago gotten up on his crutches, walked out of the sham talks, and went straight to Jerusalem to stand next to Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that America will stand with Israel and the other sane governments of the Middle East instead of with the terrorist government of Iran.

As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”
[emphasis mine]

Mike, why don’t you just move to Israel and run for president there?   ‘Cause there will be no “As president” for you here.  You do realize that this agreement is about limiting Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, not the unHoly war you’re salivating over.

Donald Trump: “Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”

[The Donald was also quoted by FoxBusiness as saying, without elaboration, “I think the deal is absolutely horrible for us, but it’s really, really bad for Israel”]

Rick Perry: If elected, I will “fully rescind this accord.”

“President Obama’s decision to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime. For decades to come, the world will have to deal with the repercussions of this…”

Seriously, Rick? You think that signing a deal that means peace, that signals a willingness to negotiate instead of starting WWIII, is more destructive than deliberately and cavalierly lying our country into a wasteful quagmire of an unnecessary war?

Perry also stated: “As President, one of my first official acts will be to fully rescind this accord.”

There’s more, including comments from the lower-tier lineup of Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and…wait, is that it? Oh, yeah, and Elmer Pataki. But there’s no need to continue wallowing in the their ignorance, I think you get the idea.

Do any of those responses reflect “courage, political will, mutual respect [or respect of any kind], and leadership”? I think it’s abundantly clear that the (R) presidential field has none of those qualities.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

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, Saturday, July 11th, 2015: The Planet Killers

Over the last few days, several related and intertwined articles are pulling together more and more evidence that Exxon-Mobil, BP, Chevron, other fossil-fuel giants, and the Koch Brothers, along with their front groups, have deliberately and willfully been funding a disinformation campaign denying global climate change reports that they have known about since the early 1980s.

From yesterday’s ThinkProgress thread written by Joe Romm, “Oil Company Exxon Knew About The Scientific Reality of Climate Change in 1981″:

“…despite a growing understanding of the scientific reality of climate change in the 1980s and 1990s, Exxon became one of the biggest funders of scientists and think tanks and others who do little but deny and cast doubt on the scientific understanding of human-caused global warming.
Over the years, fossil fuel company executives have funneled tens of millions of dollars into this disinformation campaign. The top funder was ExxonMobil for a long time. But the company was overtaken years ago by Koch Industries, run by billionaires Charles and David Koch, who spent more than $48.5 million from 1997 to 2010 to fund disinformation. From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs outspent Exxon-Mobil well over 2-to-1 in funding the climate denial machine.”

From Huffington Post’s July 8th article, “Internal Documents Show Fossil Fuel Industry Has Been Aware of Climate Change for Decades”, written by Elliott Negin:

“Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse created a stir recently when he speculated that fossil fuel companies may be violating federal racketeering law by colluding to defraud the public about the threat posed by carbon pollution.”

~~~

“Exxon Recognized Carbon Emissions Problem 34 Years Ago
The collected documents reveal the fossil fuel industry campaign has relied on a variety of deceptive practices, including creating phony grassroots groups, secretly funding purportedly independent scientists, and even forging letters from nonprofit advocacy groups to lobby members of Congress.

ExxonMobil’s duplicity is perhaps the most remarkable. Internal documents and public statements stretching back decades show that ExxonMobil’s corporate forerunners Exxon and Mobil, which merged in 1999, acknowledged the threat posed by global warming as far back as the early 1980s.”

~~~

In November 1988…Mobil President Richard F. Tucker cited the “greenhouse effect” in a list of serious environmental challenges during a speech at an American Institute of Chemical Engineers national conference.

“Our strategy must be to reduce pollution before it is ever generated — to prevent problems at the source,” he said. “That will involve working at the edge of scientific knowledge and developing new technology at every scale on the engineering spectrum. …Prevention on a global scale may even require a dramatic reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels — and a shift toward solar, hydrogen, and safe nuclear power. It may be possible — just possible — that the energy industry will transform itself so completely that observers will declare it a new industry.”

Fossil Fuel Companies Disregard Their Own Scientists

Tucker’s warning went unheeded even by his own company. A year later, in 1989, 50 U.S. corporations and trade groups created the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) to discredit climate science. Its founding members included API, British Petroleum (now BP), Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Texaco and … Mobil.

Until it disbanded in 2002, GCC conducted a multimillion-dollar lobbying and public relations campaign to undermine national and international efforts to address global warming. One of its fact sheets for legislators and journalists, for example, claimed “the role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood” and emphasized that “scientists differ” on the issue.”

From a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), titled “The Climate Deception Dossiers: Internal Fossil Fuel Industry Memos Reveal Decades of Corporate Disinformation” (also linked to within the HuffPost article):

“Containing 85 internal memos totaling more than 330 pages, the seven dossiers reveal a range of deceptive tactics deployed by the fossil fuel industry. These include forged letters to Congress, secret funding of a supposedly independent scientist, the creation of fake grassroots organizations, multiple efforts to deliberately manufacture uncertainty about climate science, and more.
The documents clearly show that:
– Fossil fuel companies have intentionally spread climate disinformation for decades.
– Fossil fuel company leaders knew that their products were harmful to people and the planet but still chose to actively deceive the public and deny this harm.
– The campaign of deception continues today.

The UCS report includes links to all of the memos, emails, and other documentation. While I haven’t had the chance to delve into it much, a quick glance at the titles of the seven “Deception Dossiers” includes “Deception Dossier #6: Deception by the American Legislative Exchange Council”.

Gee, whodathunk?

As Inspector Kemp [played by Kenneth Mars] said in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”, “A riot is an ungly thingk… undt, I tink, that it is chust about time ve had vun!”

This is our daily Open Thread–get your pitchforks and torches ready!

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.

Sunday Roast: Idiot America

How does anyone get out of primary school without knowing basic facts about our own country?  These people think they’re cute, but being so fucking stupid does not qualify as cuteness.

No wonder this country is in such deep shit.  So embarrassed…

This is our daily open thread — Get a clue, morans!!