Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Rand Paul, obviously, was sending two messages with this little gesture:
Rand Paul met privately with Cliven Bundy on Monday, the Nevada rancher and anti-government activist told POLITICO.

The encounter came after Bundy attended an event for the Kentucky senator’s presidential campaign at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. When the larger group dispersed, Bundy said, he was escorted by Paul’s aides to a back room where he and the Republican 2016 contender spoke for approximately 45 minutes....
Paul obviously wants it to be clear that he thinks the federal government is evil:
"I'd either sell or turn over all the land management to the states," Paul, a Republican presidential candidate and senator from Kentucky, said, landing him big applause at [this] campaign event. "I don't think the federal government needs to be involved."
But -- after spending a few months running what's occasionally seemed to be the GOP field's most racial inclusive campaign, and not getting very far with it in the polls -- Paul wants us to know that racism is OK with him:
Rand had thrown his support behind the rancher in 2013, calling the federal government’s actions “overreach.” But he withdrew it after the New York Times reported Bundy made racist remarks about blacks, saying they:
abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.
But Paul seemed ready to court him again on Monday.
In case you missed the message -- in case you read this as just Paul saying he agrees with Bundy on the federal government's role in land management -- Paul tweeted the following a few hours ago:

There are few things white conservatives like more than negating or minimizing the mistreatment of non-white people in this country. Everything is as bad as slavery except, apparently, slavery. Plenty of Americans have suffered oppression equal to or exceeding what blacks have suffered in America -- and a lot of that suffering is happening to white people, right now! That's the message.

If you think conservative tolerance of racism is ending just because a few Republicans have gotten the message that the Confederate flag offends some people, you're naive. Donald Trump attacks Mexicans as rapists and is denounced by not one of the other GOP candidates for president. What's more, he soars in several polls, and gets his usual tongue bath from Fox News:
"Fox & Friends" co-hosts Steve Doocy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Brian Kilmeade agreed with Trump Tuesday morning, arguing that the "Apprentice" brought in a huge profit for the network, and gave away money in return....

"He is not going to take it lying down," Kilmeade said.

"[NBC] never wanted him to run in the first place," Hasselbeck added, "perhaps because he was bringing in millions of viewers to the network ... and money."

"It was the No. 4 show on TV!" Doocy replied.

"I guarantee you they would not be worried about this if he wasn't doing so well," Kilmeade argued.

Doocy also added that Trump "was right" in his comments about immigrants, adding that the southern border "does have a problem." He admired of Trump for standing by his comments and not apologizing or backing down.

"He takes no prisoners," Doocy said.

The hosts also echoed criticism that the network was ditching Trump while choosing to stay with other media personalities who have made controversial statements, including Brian Williams and Al Sharpton.
And you know what else you can still say to a right-wing audience without arousing a ripple of protest? this:
In [a] discussion [on Fox Business, Ann Coulter] said of the Confederate battle flag and the Confederate Army:
The Confederate flag we’re talking about never flew over an official Confederate building. It was a battle flag. It is to honor Robert E. Lee. And anyone who knows the first thing about military history, knows that there is no greater army that ever took the field than the Confederate Army.
It's apparently no longer necessary in Conservative World to say that the U.S. military is the greatest fighting force in history -- if you're a conservative, you're perfectly free to say it's inferior to the Confederate army. Patriotically, of course.

Republican officials can take down all the Confederate flags they want. This stuff is not going away on the right.


This is from The Hill:
Sen. Ted Cruz is hoping to ride the conservative backlash on gay marriage to the front of the Republican presidential pack.

The Texas Republican has hit the Supreme Court with repeated rhetorical barbs in the wake of its ruling Friday that allowed for same-sex marriage in all 50 states, calling the justices “lawless,” “elites” and “a threat to our democracy.”

... The Texas senator has been courting the religious right from the start of his presidential bid, launching his candidacy this spring at the evangelical Liberty University.

But he has competition for the conservative mantle, with rivals, such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also taking aim at the Supreme Court.

... Cruz needs to make up ground in Iowa, which is the first state in the presidential nominating process. A Des Moines Register poll released late last month found only 5 percent of potential caucus-goers listed Cruz as their first choice for president.

By comparison, Huckabee, who won Iowa in 2008, garnered 9 percent in that poll.
Right -- and in the same poll, Ben Carson is at 10% and Scott Walker is at 17%.

My first thought when I read this was that perhaps white religious conservatives see Cruz as a bit too, um, foreign. Compare him to Scott Walker, a Wisconsin preacher's kid who talks the Christian talk on the trail ("Jesus affects my life no matter what I do"). And compare him to Mike Huckabee, a white minister who exudes Southernness. But then there's Ben Carson -- a black city kid who's also developed a big following among evangelical voters. I don't think ethnicity is Cruz's problem. It may not even be Bobby Jindal's problem.

I think the problem Jindal and Cruz might be having with these voters is that their religious conservatism doesn't seem baked into their makeup. With Cruz, it seems added on. (Jindal just seems to be trying too hard.) From what I read about Walker and Carson, the God talk just seems to flow naturally. Cruz seems as if he's glommed onto it as a source of bullet points to use in debates; he comes off as a sincere wingnut, but not so much as a sincere conservative Christian.

Rafael Cruz, Ted's father, might be able to make some inroads with this crowd -- Byron York calls him "the most effective surrogate of the 2016 campaign." Of course, he actually is a right-wing preacher. But I'm not sure he's effective enough to change the impression his son conveys: a right-wing zealot, yes, but one who got that way not by praying but by being trapped in Enemy Territory (i.e., the Ivy League). Ted has to make people think he feels this stuff in his bones. I don't think the church-social crowd buys that.


In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, David Brooks notes that social conservatives still seem determined to turn back the clock on sexual morality. Brooks tries to steer them away from the course they're on:
These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war.

I am to the left of the people I have been describing on almost all of these social issues. But I hope they regard me as a friend and admirer. And from that vantage point, I would just ask them to consider a change in course....

Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.
I'd argue that the War on Sex not only makes religion look stifling and awful, it's done the same thing to conservatism, which was going great guns in the 1980s, and might have won an overwhelming, decades-long victory if righties hadn't been so obsessed with unwed mothers and gay people and porn.

What Brooks is trying to do is futile, because these folks aren't going to listen to his recommendation for an alternative course:
Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love....

The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.

... the sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon. The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable. Social conservatives are well equipped to repair this fabric, and to serve as messengers of love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace.
But these social conservatives aren't remotely interested in "selfless love." They're interested in God's wrath. More specifically, they're interested in being the broken-windows cops enforcing God's wrath. They want to scold. They want to ban. They want to identify sinners and declare them unworthy unless they repent, while society, in unison, chants, "Shame! Shame! Shame!"

And, failing that, they want to regard themselves as the culture's most long-suffering martyrs. Here's Rod Dreher, one of the conservatives Brooks mentions by name in his column, responding to what Brooks wrote:
I am recommending a strategy for resisting, enduring and thriving under the reality of occupation.
Yeah, there's a guy you want ministering to those in need, right?

The sense of being under siege feeds Dreher's sense of self-righteousness. He knows he stands for good. He knows that the society we live in is evil -- and that those of us who share the values of this society are deranged destroyers of civilization:
The point is, there is no way for Christians to undertake the task of nurturing stable families, as David correctly wishes for, without making the teaching of Christian chastity part of the mission. This is the one thing the world cannot accept....

The romanticization of sexual love is no new thing. But it continues to seduce us and to confuse us, and, along with economic individualism, has become on of the two dominant ideologies of our civilization. This bad idea has consequences. The destruction of the family and the sundering of social bonds are among them.
Love your significant other? Love your significant other romantically and sexually? You're going to hell. And you're taking the rest of us with you.

Stop trying to reason with these people, David. Stop trying to be one of these people -- we've read the rumors and we know you can't live according to their moral code. I'm sure most of these clowns can't do it themselves, either. But that won't stop them from lecturing us. David, please realize that what they want most for society is to be its morality cops. They don't really give a crap about Christ's love.

Monday, June 29, 2015


At Bloomberg's With All Due Respect, John Heilemann and Al Hunt (presumably in for a vacationing Mark Halperin) think Trump might quit the presidential race now that NBC has dumped him over his racist remarks about Mexicans:
JOHN HEILEMANN: ... Some people think Trump was just in the race to pump up his TV ratings. So now that he's off the network, Al, is it more or less likely that the Donald will stay in the race, at least until Iowa?

AL HUNT: Well, I've never seen the light and really fully appreciated the virtue of the Donald's candidacy, John, and I think it's an exercise in self-promotion. But what I don't know is, does this make it more likely he'll drop out 'cause he doesn't have this show to promote, or does the Donald figure, "Hey, if I stay in, I'll get a couple more gigs just as good"?

HEILEMANN: It's an interesting question. I think the conventional wisdom is, he's got no TV career going, he's more likely to stay in 'cause what else is he going to do. I wonder, though, at this point, if there's no financial return on the backside, if there's no ratings to ramp up, those are the ways -- the previous theories had always been, well, he's jut pumping his TV ratings, that would lead to more money is his coffers. Now, if he runs, and he's got no TV career, it's all just net outflow. He's just writing check after heck after check, and I don't know how Trump will feel about that if it gets to be September, October, November, and he's not moving in the polls and he's writing all those -- seeing all those dollars flow out of his bank account.

Do you really think the issue here is strictly money? Until he announced his candidacy, I was skeptical about Trump's interest in actually running for president, but he obviously has had a huge interest in making people think he could be a great president. Ever see his Twitter feed? He retweets every message of praise he gets. There's a psychological craving for adulation there -- the Koch brothers don't do that. Yes, Trump may be in it mostly for the grift, but I think he believes his own lavish praise of himself. I don't think it's just an act. I can't imagine being like that, but then again I can't imagine being Bobby Jindal or Chris Christie or George Pataki and thinking, "I have a real shot at the presidency." There's something going on with these guys, something delusional and psychologically unhealthy, something that's not about cash. (Christie and Jindal will have all the corporate and media opportunities they want once they leave office.)

Trump is an emotionally needy candidate, but he's also like the somewhat richer guys in he donor class who feel vital when they think they're controlling the presidential race -- even when they're throwing their money away on a loser. Did Sheldon Adelson invest wisely when he gave all that money four years ago to Newt Gingrich? How about Foster Friess and Rick Santorum? For them, owning a presidential candidate was an ego trip. Trump is just trying to be both the sugar daddy and the rich man's toy.

And besides, the most recent polls suggest that all this drunk-at-the-end-of-the-bar ranting is actually working for Trump. In the next round of polls, he'll probably be in first place. So he's not going anywhere anytime soon.


The attorney general of the state of Texas is encouraging defiance of the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage:
County clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday.

Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge....

Paxton’s opinion also noted that judges and justices of the peace can refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

“Judges and justices of the peace have no mandatory duty to conduct any wedding ceremony,” the opinion said, adding that couples cannot be refused on the basis of race, religion or national origin.
Texas likes to throw states'-rights fits of this kind. On the other hand, Texas is very willing to accept federal relief in the wake of major disasters -- fourteen in the past decade, including one just last month after a period of tornadoes, high winds, and flooding:
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding in Cooke, Gaines, Grimes, Harris, Hays, Navarro, and Van Zandt counties.

Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Why provide this money to a state that doesn't think government employees are subject to federal law?

I realize that the U.S. government won't really withhold disaster relief if Texas needs it tomorrow, or next week, or next month. But the money should be withheld. These people regularly bite the hand that feeds them.

Personally, I'd like to close all the military bases in Texas and invite Texans to secede, as they're always threatening to do. But that's just me. At the very least, let 'em clean up after their own damn tornadoes.


I don't know why so many people misinterpreted this:
... a few of the conservative Christian horn-blowers, like famously anti-gay Texas pastor Rick Scarborough, are backtracking on previous statements made regarding the ... SCOTUS ruling [on same-sex marriage]. Scarborough’s most recent clarification is noteworthy because he’s no longer going to set himself on fire in protest....

Earlier in June, a conference call Scarborough participated in leaked to the media. Aside from the usual rigmarole of protesting marriage equality, the pastor made one rather startling statement:
We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary we will burn.
... many believed Scarborough was indirectly threatening to set himself on fire if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

According to the Advocate, Scarborough claims that’s not at all what he was trying to say:
I made that comment to paraphrase a spiritual song, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,” in which the three were given a choice -- to bow to the image of Nebucahdnezzar or burn in a furnace. “We will burn” means that we will accept any sanction from the government for resisting [last Friday’s] Supreme Court decision. We do not support any violence or physical harm.
So he was figuratively going to set himself on fire if the SCOTUS ruled in favor of Obergefell and the other plaintiffs in the case....
That's from Andrew Husband at Mediaite -- but he was hardly the only person who interpreted what Scarborough said as a threat to engage in self-immolation.

That's not what it was. It was Scarborough imagining -- with satisfaction, even though he'd never admit it -- that we evil pro-gay Christ-haters were going to burn him. Metaphorically, of course. I don't really believe he's up for that sort of martyrdom in any literal sense. But it delights him, as it delights most right-wingers, to feel persecuted and besieged. So he was proclaiming that he and his fellow believers are, in fact, under siege. Admire us for being targets of persecution because of our faith!

Conservatives love feeling besieged. Think of the usual rhetoric from the gun crowd. They don't want you to believe that they amass large numbers of guns simply because they like guns. So they imagine imminent fascist threats to our way of life from a tyrannical government, and unrelenting rampages by urban criminals, and waves of violent undocumented immigrants streaming over the border (accompanied by Middle Eastern terrorists! as well as the now-traitorous U.S. Army conducting Jade Helm 15 exercises in order to repress the people!). See, they don't want to feel obligated to own all those guns. But they're the good people, and because they're so good, evildoers want to threaten them. They have no choice.

Conservatives, similarly, don't want to rail endlessly against evil sodomites -- but evil sodomites and their heterosexual enablers just won't stop threatening them. See, for instance, Notre Dame professor Gerard Bradley's contribution by to a National Review symposium on the Court ruling, as quoted at Power Line:
This transformation is itself the “beginning” of something much larger and more dangerous than same-sex, monogamish “marriages.” Yes, polygamy is just around the corner. And Obergefell’s evident determination to, somehow, use the law to equalize the self-esteem (“dignity”) of adults and children in all sorts of irregular groupings is at least Orwellian.

... we should expect today’s decision to inaugurate the greatest crisis of religious liberty in American history. I am certain that it will.
He sure hopes it will, because if he's besieged by a world-historic level of persecution, then he's a righteous hero in his own mind. Just like the gunners, and just like Rick Scarborough smelling nonexistent smoke.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Here's the headline of a Washington Post story by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa:
In a fast-changing culture, can the GOP get in step with modern America?
Here's the focus of the story:
Across the cultural landscape, the national consensus is evolving rapidly, epitomized by this year’s convulsions of celebrity, social issues and politics -- including the acceptance of Caitlyn Jenner’s gender identity, Pope Francis’s climate-change decree and the widespread shunning of the Confederate flag.

Then came Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. As rainbow colors bathed the White House and other landmarks in celebration, the entire field of Republican presidential candidates condemned the ruling.

This uneven terrain is now a key battlefield in the 2016 campaign, unnerving red America and fueling intense debate within the Republican Party about how to navigate such changes -- or whether to adapt to the mainstream at all.
What I don't accept about this is the notion that we're in a culture so "fast-changing" that the GOP's struggle to keep up is understandable. I don't agree that, on most of these issues, we're "evolving rapidly." There's been plenty of time to catch up. It's just that the right refuses to join the rest of us.

Gay marriage? Yes, we've definitely come a long way in a short time. But state after state has legalized gay marriage in recent years and the Apocalypse never arrived. A president endorsed gay marriage three years ago and won reelection easily. Didn't that give conservatives a pretty good heads-up? So why are they acting so gobsmacked after Friday's Supreme Court ruling?

And how long have ordinary Americans been signaling that prejudices against gay people are disappearing? How long have been watching Will & Grace and Glee and Modern Family (which the wife of the last Republican presidential candidate called her favorite TV show)? Did conservatives really not get enough advance warning about the way cultural attitudes were evolving?

And let's look at the other issues. Are we seriously arguing that the "national consensus is evolving rapidly" with regard to the Confederacy? Um, when did that war end exactly? And how many decades ago was the battle to overturn Jim Crow? We defeated the rebellious South and enacted civil rights legislation a long time ago -- it's just that conservatives in the South wouldn't let go of this symbol. It wasn't us -- it was you, righties.

And climate change? How long have we been talking about that? It was an old story in 2001, when 61% of American in one survey said that the U.S. should ratify the Kyoto treaty. Al Gore had written Earth in the Balance nine years earlier, the year he ran for vice president and was denounced by the sitting president as "Ozone Man." Gore won anyway. There's been plenty of time to grasp the essence of this problem. The right has just been standing athwart climate history saying "No."

The GOP has had ample opportunity to adjust to today's America. The party and its angry members have simply refused to do so. And they're still refusing.


The American Thinker's Vel Nirtist claims to have devised a fiendishly clever way to use this week's gay marriage ruling to get around the estate tax:
How about advising a terminally ill widowed grandma to marry her much-beloved granddaughter at the deathbed? Won't the estate pass to the surviving spouse intact? I'm not a lawyer, but I think it will -- without IRS getting the bite out of it as would happen now.

And it would be very hard to have a sound legal argument against such marriage. Isn't it born out of love? Absolutely. But doesn't it go against the prohibition of marriage with a blood relative? But this prohibition is rooted merely in the very same authority that also prohibits the same-sex union, and hence could survive juducial review if litigation results.
(Smacks forehead.) Wow! Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Jim Hoft posted this at Gateway Pundit yesterday:
It’s an Obama World... US Troops Put on Drinking, Eating Restrictions for Ramadan
He quotes a Weekly Standard post:
A top commander in southwest Asia reminded U.S military personnel stationed in Muslim countries in the Middle East of the restrictions placed on them during Ramadan....

During the 30-day religious celebration of Ramadan, even non-Muslims are expected to obey local laws regarding eating, drinking, and using tobacco in public. Violators can be fined up to $685 or receive two months in jail. A spokesperson for United States Central Command [CENTCOM] said that "we are not aware of any specific instances of anyone being arrested" for such violations.
Yes, but as the CENTCOM statement notes, this affects only those who go outside areas controlled by the U.S., with reasonable exceptions:
One part of Ramadan is that those observing the holiday fast from dawn until sunset.

When outside U.S. controlled areas, eating and drinking in public during daylight hours is against the law. Failure to obey could result in fines up to $685 or a sentence of up to two months in jail....

The only personnel exempt from this requirement are those performing strenuous labor outside U.S. controlled areas. They are authorized to drink and consume as much food as they need to maintain proper hydration and energy.
And despite Hoft's assertion that this is an Obama policy, similar warnings were issued to U.S. personnel long before Obama was president. This is from a booklet issued by the U.S. Army's Area Support Group-Kuwait in 2002:
Do be aware of restrictions during Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, which is approximately one month of nationwide fasting once a year, certain forms of public behavior are expected to be followed whether or not you are a Muslim. No eating, drinking, chewing gum, or smoking is allowed by law in public during daylight hours. If you are not fasting as a Muslim, you must be sure you do these things in the privacy of your own home. Exceptions are made only for young children.
A 2003 Defense Department news release titled "Experiencing Ramadan in Afghanistan" said in part:
During the month of Ramadan, officials said, troops here should remain aware of the rules of the holy time, and courtesy may require some changes from everyday activities.

Troops should not offer food or drink to practicing Muslims during the daylight hours of Ramadan, and should refrain from eating or drinking in front of Muslims so as to not distract them from their religious practices....

Muslim coalition troops and Muslims working on base may have an intense and rigorous prayer ritual during this time, and exceptions to everyday schedules should be allowed to give Muslim followers a chance to partake in the calls to prayer....
And here's a 2007 news release from Area Support Group Qatar in which U.S. servicemembers talk happily about their Ramadan experience:
To create a cultural opportunity, the ASG-QA Public Affairs Office sponsored service members to depart the installation and attend a five-star Islamic celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha.

While on pass in Qatar, gaining off-post sponsorship during Ramadan can be unrewarding. Much of the nation is desolate throughout daylight hours. With few exceptions, all adult Muslims must abstain from drinking, eating, smoking or anything leading to impure thoughts which draw attention away from worshiping God. More time is spent praying in congregation at the Mosques. All expatriates – Muslim or otherwise – must abide by the local religious environment and never engage in any activity which might tempt a Muslim into breaking religious duties....

"We lucked out," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Philip Henderson, from Jacksonville, Fla. "What we hear about Ramadan is what you can not do – this was a unique opportunity. We had off-post sponsors with experience in Islamic customs. Being able to understand the culture and see how generous the people are is something to appreciate. We had a VIP tour at the hotel that explained everything!" Souheil Kebdani, Bar and Lounge Manager, escorted the group through the hotel, providing explanations of the event's traditional customs and religious significance....
So, Jim, the U.S. military didn't just suddenly become culturally sensitive to Ramadan after the Evil Kenyan was inaugurated. Too bad your readers will never learn that.


Good for her:
The Confederate flag has been temporarily removed from in front of the South Carolina Statehouse.

A black woman was about halfway up the more than 30-foot steel flagpole just after dawn Saturday when State Capitol police told her to come down. Instead, she continued up and removed the flag before returning to the ground.

The woman and another man who had entered the wrought-iron fence surrounding the flag were arrested.

The woman, who has not been named by local authorities, was identified on social media as Brittany “Bree” Newsome, an activist from North Carolina. Her actions inspired the hashtag #keepitdown, which was a one of the top trending topics in the United States on Twitter Saturday. Later in the day the hashtag #FreeBree was also trending in the United States.

According to website BreeNewsome.com, which was linked to by a Twitter account belonging to a user with the name Bree Newsome and mentioned by numerous users in conjunction with the #keepitdown hashtag, Newsome is an activist and graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

I don't know what's going to happen to her. Given the way the Republican Party has (mostly) retreated on the Confederate flag, I suspect she won't be severely punished. She can be defined as an "outsider," however, so it's hard to know what will happen.

In any case, she was arrested. An observer from another planet whose understanding of America was based solely on the ranting of right-wingers might assume, from the wingers' apocalyptic cries of pain this week, that we lefties were now forming bloodthirsty mobs to enforce liberal correctness, and therefore the state employees who raise and lower the Confederate flag in Columbia are now at risk of being seized and beheaded by those mobs, after first being forcibly gay-married. Apparently that's not happening.


(I'm kidding, righties!)

Just a reminder: Gay marriage and Obamacare are the law of the land, but some things are still in the process of changing, and feral crowds of lefties aren't running amok enforcing conformity just because some political and legal battles haven't gone conservatives' way. Bill Kristol is wrong:
We see a French Revolution-like tendency to move with the speed of light from a reasonable and perhaps overdue change (taking down the Confederate flag over state buildings) to an all-out determination to expunge from our history any recognition or respect for that which doesn’t fully comport with contemporary progressive sentiment.

French Revolution? Even now, it's being reported that the flag is back up now at the South Carolina capitol grounds. I guess we're gonna need a bigger tumbrel.

Friday, June 26, 2015


From gun blogger Bob Owens, who, you may recall used to blog as Confederate Yankee:

Monomania much, guys?


I know I should just relax and savor the Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide. But it's been a devastating week for angry American reactionaries who think civilization as we know it is going to hell in a handbasket -- yesterday's Obamacare ruling, the sudden rethinking of Confederate symbols, and, let's not forget, gruesome terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia, and Kuwait. If you're an American right-winger, all of this is connected. It's a sign that we've mocked God and fallen out of his favor. It's a sign that satanic forces are winning.

I wouldn't give a crap what these people think except for the fact that they vote, they dominate many American states, and they own guns.

Their control over the political system at the state and local levels means, at the very least, that we're not just going to transition seamlessly into an America where gay couples can marry anywhere. Granted, maybe there'll only be a few pockets of resistence like this, in Alabama:
Pike County out of marriage business for good after Supreme Court ruling

Pike County officials haven't issued marriage licenses in months, and today Probate Judge Wes Allen announced that his office is now permanently out of the marriage business.

"My office discontinued issuing marriage licenses in February and I have no plans to put Pike County back into the marriage business," Allen wrote in a statement. "The policy of my office regarding marriage is no different today than it was yesterday."

Couples -- both gay and straight -- who want to get married in Colbert, Washington and Henry Counties will have to wait a little while.

The probate offices closed this morning to review the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage in Alabama and across the nation. Colbert County Probate Judge Daniel Rosser would not say when the office would reopen, or whether it would ultimately issue licenses to same-sex couples....

Probate Judge Ryan Robertson of Cleburne County said he will stop performing marriages in his courthouse. He has not made any firm decision on whether he will issue marriage licenses.
Religious right leaders want resistance at the state level:

I think that won't happen -- but you never know:

(UPDATE: Well, there it is:

More on that here.

UPDATE: "But on Friday, Paxton said in the headline of his statement that the state would be 'following high court’s flawed ruling.'")

When I think of the roadblocks to legal abortion devised by the right since Roe v. Wade, what astonishes me is the sheer creativity. Say what you will about conservatives, they have a genius for concocting ways around laws they don't like. I can't believe they won't find ways around this one.

And as Greg Sargent says, they're going to keep fighting Obamacare, too. They're going to keep resisting the Medicaid expansion and they're going to keep putting out propaganda designed to portray the law as a disaster. And yes, they will repeal it if they win the presidential election in 2016.

I'm glad that election is more than a year away -- I don't care how many times you say that the GOP field is a "clown car," the domestic events of the past week have the potential to be massively inspiring to GOP voters, while conveying the impression to everyone else that liberalism is triumphant (which, to centrist voters, suggests that a return swing of the pendulum might be a good thing).

There's a lot of chuckling over Antonin Scalia's dissent in the same-sex marriage case, but I'm struck by this passage, in which he offers his party a talking point for the 2016 presidential election, on the subject of the makeup of the federal bench, and the Supreme Court in particular:
... the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.
A month ago, this argument would have rung hollow. Now I fear a lot of heartlanders might think it makes a lot of sense.

Right-wingers are really, really mad right now, in both senses of the word. I get nervous when they're this mad.


I'll spoil the ending of the latest column by David Brooks: While he agrees with the removal of Confederate flags from public spaces, he's pained by the question of what to do with monuments to heroes of the Confederacy, particularly Robert E. Lee. Ultimately, Brooks splits the baby:
My own view is that we should preserve most Confederate memorials out of respect for the common soldiers. We should keep Lee’s name on institutions that reflect postwar service, like Washington and Lee University, where he was president. But we should remove Lee’s name from most schools, roads and other institutions, where the name could be seen as acceptance of what he did and stood for during the war.
But even proposing this half-measure pains Brooks, because Lee was such a fine man:
The case for Lee begins with his personal character. It is almost impossible to imagine a finer and more considerate gentleman.

As a general and public figure, he was a man of impeccable honesty, integrity and kindness. As a soldier, he displayed courage from the beginning of his career straight through to the end. Despite his blunders at Gettysburg and elsewhere he was by many accounts the most effective general in the Civil War and maybe in American history. One biographer, Michael Korda, writes, “His generosity of spirit, undiminished by ideological or political differences, and even by the divisive, bloody Civil War, shines through in every letter he writes, and in every conversation of his that was reported or remembered.”
In theory, he opposed slavery, once calling it “a moral and political evil in any country.”
Well, yes -- but as Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in 2010, that quote, from a letter Lee wrote to his wife in 1856, is the only evidence of Lee's opposition to slavery. What's more, as Coates writes, this is "a highly-selective, Breitbart-style quote that cuts against the context of the larger letter." In the letter, Lee goes on to say of slavery:
I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.
Or, in Coates's paraphrase:
Shorter Lee: slavery sucks, sure, but it's God's will. It's good for you, too. You're welcome.
And as for Lee the "considerate gentleman," the man of "kindness" and "generosity of spirit," well, there's the little matter of his treatment of escaped slaves.

Citing Elizabeth Brown Pryor's book Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters, Coates reminds us that Lee inherited his father-in-law's slaves -- slaves who'd been reasonably well treated. Some of these slaves went on to escape. When they were captured and returned, Lee oversaw brutal whippings, according to firsthand accounts. Lee's admirers dispute these reports -- but Pryor found seven of them and believes they're accurate. One letter, published in an anti-slavery newspaper in 1866, is from one of the whipped slaves. It reads in part:
... we were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away; we frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson we never would forget; he then ordered us to the barn, where in his presence, we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer, who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to "lay it on well," an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.
(Emphasis added.)

Oh, but it's "almost impossible to imagine a finer and more considerate gentleman" than Lee, according to Brooks. Plus, he liked having his feet tickled!
As a family man, he was surprisingly relaxed and affectionate. We think of him as a man of marble, but he loved having his kids jump into bed with him and tickle his feet. With his wife’s loving cooperation, he could write witty and even saucy letters to other women. He was devout in his faith, a gifted watercolorist, a lover of animals and a charming conversationalist.
So pay no attention to the whippings or the brine.

(Coates link via Alicublog.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015


You probably know that Bristol Palin just announced on her blog that she's pregnant again. Palin, of course, is unmarried. This is her second out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

I bring this up because, as you probably also know, she was paid $262,500 by a teen pregnancy prevention nonprofit a few years ago; her fee for an abstinence lecture was reported to be $17,500.

Oh, but she's not just a moralizing hypocrite grifter. Sometimes she moralizes hypocritically for free.

Back in 2012, President Obama said that he'd changed his mind on same-sex marriage and now supported it, in part because of conversations he'd had with his daughters. He said:
You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and, frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.
Palin responded to this on her blog:
While it’s great to listen to your kids’ ideas, there’s also a time when dads simply need to be dads. In this case, it would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage. Or that -- as great as her friends may be -- we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home.
(Emphasis added.)

Really, Bristol? Is that why you think gay marriage is awful? Because it's vitally important, in your opinion, to have two opposite-sex parents in the home raising every child?

When I go to this post, I'm told that I "might also enjoy" another post from Bristol's blog:
Put a Ring on It

Have you ever heard of “shacking up?” Now, people describe living together with a more complimentary phrase: “a trial marriage.” ...

In fact, you may have even recently heard rumors I’m living with my boyfriend. As that gossip spread a couple of weeks ago, people all over America were applauding me for -- finally! -- coming to my senses and abandoning my no-sex-until-marriage policy. Others are saying that me shacking up with my boyfriend is the height of hypocrisy.

Here’s the thing. It’s not true. As I mentioned before, I recently bought a home across the lake from my parents’ house. While it’s under renovation, I’m actually living in an apartment on their property. Rest assured -- there’s no way on earth my mom and dad would allow a guy to spend the night here with me.

But even if I weren’t temporarily living on their property, I wouldn’t move in with someone. Why? Well, new evidence reported in the New York Times suggests what the Bible has already told us: living together before marriage does not lead to happiness.

... now we have the Bible, the New York Times, and even Beyonce suggesting the best way to secure relationship success is to... “put a ring on it.”
Um, thanks for clearing that up, Bristol.


The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act again, this time by a 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell. The case turned on a few words in the long, complicated law that inadvertently contradicted the intentions of the law's designers; most liberal and centrist experts believed the Court never should have agreed to hear the case, because the law was functioning as intended. It takes agreement by at least four justices to put a case on the Court's docket. Why did this case make it? And why did at least one justice who agreed to hear the case vote to uphold the law?

It seems highly unlikely that any of the four liberal justices would have agreed to hear the case, since they would have believed the wording error shouldn't trump the law's clear intent, and they wouldn't have voted to put the law at risk. The three justices who went on to dissent -- Alito, Roberts Thomas, and Scalia -- surely believe that the law is an abomination and that all Real Americans would be happy to see it go, whatever the consequences.

So was John Roberts the fourth justice to vote to hear the case, and if so, why? He's conservative, but he's politic. It's my guess that he believed the nonsensical conventional wisdom we've heard for years: that for all the fiery rhetoric that emanates from the right, the Republican Party isn't really a bunch of bomb-throwers. If Obamacare was doomed, surely cooler heads would prevail -- the Republican majorities in Congress would have a remedy ready to avert chaos. It would be certain to pass, and it would provide a gentle transition to a post-Obamacare future, because they are all honorable men.

That's my hunch -- and when Roberts (and presumably Kennedy) saw that elected Republicans really are crazy and really wouldn't be able to pass anything to avert an Obamacare death spiral, the law was saved. If my guess is right, a naive faith in the myth of GOP reasonableness was why the law was at risk at all.


I'm extremely happy that the health care law was saved, and I'm very happy that there's been a tremendous change in the politics of the Confederate flag -- but I wonder how much calculation there is behind this month's retreats from conservative purism. The preservation of Obamacare by the Roberts court does a couple of things for the GOP for 2016: It preserves Obamacare as a voter-motivating grievance for the party's base, and it makes it much more difficult for Hillary Clinton (or Bernie Sanders or whoever) to say that the Supreme Court is a force for wingnuttery that will only get worse if a Republican is elected president next year. Never mind the fact that the court will, in fact, be extraordinarily conservative if a Republican gets to restock it -- that warning will now ring hollow.

Roberts seems to be content to allow Republicans to run against him if it means Democrats can't -- and Nikki Haley and other Republican elected officials who've denounced Confederate symbols seem content to make that the public face of the party (in order not to alienate swing voters for 2016) while angrier voices (not just overt racists but pundits such as Bill Kristol and Todd Starnes) fan the pro-Confederacy backlash. In each case, it seems as if the GOP wants to keep rage alive while the best-known conservatives publicly reject that rage. I don't know if the good cop-bad cop strategy will work, but it reminds me of the heyday of birtherism, when A-list Republicans generally rejected the conspiracy theory while it flourished in less savory corners of the conservative universe. Next year, we'll see if all this works. It's certain, though, that the right looks much more reasonable now than it actually is, though I'm grateful for the concessions creating that illusion.


The Federalist's Ben Domenech is very upset because of the naked contempt epressed toward Bobby Jindal by The Washington Post:
Jindal presents a challenging figure to the media in a number of respects, particularly those used to depicting Republicans as uneducated dummies. He has an Ivy League resume unmatched in the field -- a Rhodes Scholar who was accepted into Harvard Medical and Yale Law but chose Oxford instead, appointed secretary of the Louisiana Health system at 24, president of the University system at 28. He’s got a brain, and a child of immigrants story to go with it.

So you ask how to write about Jindal? I give you The Washington Post’s India bureau chief:
“As a child, he announced he wanted to go by the name Bobby, after a character in “The Brady Bunch.” He converted from Hinduism to Christianity as a teen and was later baptized a Catholic as a student at Brown University -- making his devotion to Christianity a centerpiece of his public life. He and his wife were quick to say in a “60 Minutes” interview in 2009 that they do not observe many Indian traditions -- although they had two wedding ceremonies, one Hindu and one Catholic. He said recently that he wants to be known simply as an American, not an Indian American. “There’s not much Indian left in Bobby Jindal,” said Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who is writing a book on the governor.”
... Imagine the WaPo or any other newspaper publishing a piece taking exactly this line of attack on the Castro brothers. Imagine a white journalist quoting a white professor criticizing the Castro brothers as being insufficiently Hispanic -- “my goodness, they don’t even speak Spanish!” -- and think how that would play in media circles.
Well, in fact, the Post has noted that Julian Castro, often mentioned as a possible Democratic VP candidate in 2016, and his brother Joaquin don't speak Spanish -- in fact, the Post mentioned that three times just last month.

But with regard to Jindal, why bring up all this stuff? The Brady Bunch, the religious conversion, the rejection of hyphenated labels for Americans?

Um, maybe because Jindal's own campaign material stresses all this.

In the Post story, we read, "As a child, he announced he wanted to go by the name Bobby, after a character in 'The Brady Bunch.'" Now let's go to "Seven Things You Didn't Know About Bobby," on Jindal's campaign site. Here's #2:
Call me Bobby:
Growing up, Governor Jindal loved The Brady Bunch. Everyday after school he would watch, and instantly identified the youngest Brady boy, Bobby. As a 4 year old, the Governor decided to rename himself after his favorite TV character. One day his teacher told his mother, ‘Well, your son has got a new name.’ His self-imposed nickname stuck and he has been Bobby Jindal ever since.
The coversion story cited in the Post? Here's "Seven Things You Didn't Know About Bobby," item #5, on Jindal's site:
Father Jindal:
Bobby was raised Hindu, and converted to Christianity in high school. When he received a personalized Bible as a birthday present he dismissed it as a boring gift that he couldn’t even re-gift. Friends grew tired of trying to convert him, but they didn’t give up. Throughout high school, Bobby wrestled with the Lord and the work that He was doing in his life. He dug out his Bible and read it cover to cover. In high school, while watching a grainy film about the Crucifixion of Jesus, Bobby surrendered his life to Christ and has never looked back.
And this line in the Post -- "He said recently that he wants to be known simply as an American, not an Indian American"? Well, here's a tweet Jindal sent last night:

How dare The Washingon Post echo Jindal's own PR! Racist! Racist!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Jim Webb wants to be the Democratic candidate for president, but he has a strange way of showing it. He posted the following on Facebook today:
This is an emotional time and we all need to think through these issues with a care that recognizes the need for change but also respects the complicated history of the Civil War. The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades. It should not be used in any way as a political symbol that divides us.
Um, I'm confused. Wasn't being "a political symbol that divides us" the whole freaking point of the Confederate battle flag?

Webb went on to write that "honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War" -- though it's accurate to say that honorable men fought on all sides of every major war. Honorable Germans fought for the Nazis. What does this mean?

Max Rosenthal and Tim Murphy of Mother Jones point out that this is a hobbyhorse of Webb's:
Webb ... has two relatives who served in the Confederate Army.... In a 1990 speech at the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, which Webb called a "deeply inspiring memorial," he argued that Confederate soldiers' "enormous suffering and collective gallantry are to this day still misunderstood by most Americans."

... In his 2004 book Born Fighting, a popular history of Scots-Irish immigrants in the United States, Webb complained that present-day attacks on the Confederacy and the Confederate flag were part of "the Nazification of the Confederacy." The book included a lengthy attack on post-Civil War Reconstruction policies, and Webb claimed that the federal government "raped the region" during this period. The passage was repeated in his memoir, published in 2014.
Also, Webb has a longtime political adviser with similar views -- or at least a public posture intended to make you think he has similar views:
Webb's longtime strategist, Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, is an even more ardent fan and defender of the Confederacy. As the New Yorker reported in 2008, Saunders "sleeps under a Rebel-flag quilt, and when challenged on such matters he has invited his inquisitors to 'kiss my Rebel ass' -- his way of making the point that when Democrats are drawn into culture battles by prissy liberal sensitivities they usually lose the larger war." Saunders is currently advising Webb on his potential presidential campaign.
Saunders likes to bloviate this way in the presence of reporters' microphones. He was also the guy who said this in 2006, when an anti-gay marriage amendment was on the Virginia ballot:
"I'm pretty sure I ain't a queer. And I've never had queer thoughts, but I do have several queer buddies who called me and asked me to help. I think it's blasphemy to put this on the ballot and try to divide God's children for political gain. God loves them queers every bit that he loves the Republicans."
This may have been an understandable approach back when America was rejecting the presidential candidacies of Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis, but in 2008 and 2012 America chose as president a Northern, city-dwelling black man who didn't hunt or listen to country music or sing the praises of NASCAR. It's a new day. The Saunders schtick is transparently phony, and of limited use for Democrats dealing with the contemporary electorate. (Saunders's peculiar paean to tolerance when that gay marriage amendment was on the ballot did no good -- the amendment he was opposing passed 57%-43, though it was later overturned in the courts.)

But isn't it good that Saunders is a man of the people? Yeah -- he's such a man of the people that in 2013 he endorsed Republican Ken Cuccinelli for governor rather than Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, a veteran smash-mouth Democratic strategist, says he is supporting Republican Ken Cuccinelli for governor, branding Democrat Terry McAuliffe a "corporatist."

"What these corporatists have done to us in rural America and in urban America ..." Saunders said in a telephone interview. "I can't support a corporatist. I just can't. This guy is not my kind of Democrat."
Look, I understand that McAuliffe was not the ideal candidate for governor. But beyond the fact that Cuccinelli was a cro-Magnon on gay rights and abortion (what, does Ms. Bubba never have an unplanned pregnancy?), the Cooch was very much a corporatist:
The gubernatorial campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) raised 40 percent of its more than $1 million haul from donors giving $10,000 or more, according to a campaign finance report filed on Tuesday. These large donations came from a collection of corporations, wealthy individuals and political action committees....

One contribution of note is the $50,000 given by Intrust Wealth Management, one of many corporations under the control of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. The company is a subsidiary of Intrust Bank, headed by Charles Koch. This is the second Koch contribution to Cuccinelli, who received $10,000 from Koch Industries in the first half of 2012.

In 2011, the attorney general flew to Vail, Colo., to speak at a Koch seminar titled, "Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Enterprise and Prosperity." ...
And incidentally, Cuccinelli collected $1000 in that 2013 race from Earl Holt of the Council of Conservative Citizens, and a pro-Cuccinelli super PAC, Fight for Tomorrow, received $1000 more. But I don't imagine that news would upset Saunders very much.

I'v had it with both of these guys. NASCAR was kryptonite to the Democrats a generation ago. That day is long gone.


Power Line's John Hinderaker has decided that we live in "the era of symbolic liberalism":
I am old enough to remember when liberals actually thought liberalism was a good idea. Long ago, liberals like Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey fought for programs that they thought would improve the lives of Americans. True, many of their ideas turned out to be bad -- I would argue that most were -- but at least they had ideas, and they made an impact.

Those days are gone. Today, being a liberal is almost entirely a symbolic project.
Really, John? Tell us more.
The current flap over the Confederate flag in South Carolina is a good example. But at least the flag has some arguable importance as a symbol. Here in Minneapolis, a campaign is under way to effect a symbolic change that has no conceivable importance: liberals want to change the name of Lake Calhoun, one of the city’s several urban lakes.
So place names have no symbolic value? Good. Then I assume that, as a dyed-in-the-wool anti-communist, you'd have no objection if the names of the Twin Cities were changed to Castroville and Guevaratown. Right?
It turns out that Lake Calhoun is named for John C. Calhoun, who was Secretary of War under President Monroe, during whose administration Fort Snelling was founded at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. No one has ever accused Minnesota of harboring Confederate sympathies, and until now hardly anyone knew where the name came from, so what’s the point?
Yeah, Calhoun was a passionate advocate of slavery. But people don't actually know that he was, so it's totally cool.
An activist explains:
[Mike Spangenberg of Minneapolis] said the petition represents confronting the nation’s past and addressing systemic racism.
“Systemic” in this context meaning “not actually existing.”
Yes, that's right -- according to Hinderaker, racism is "not actually existing" in America. That large, bloody bolus of racism that was coughed up in Charleston last week was a figment of your imagination, hippie.
There is one slight problem: the proposed name change would be illegal:
In 2011, the [Park Board] was advised by its legal counsel that it lacked the unilateral power to change the name.

Asked about that, [Park Board President Liz Wielinski] responded, “That doesn’t mean in today’s climate that wouldn’t happen.”
The Park Board lacks the unilateral power to change the name -- but that doesn't mean it can't be changed. As we're told in the story Hinderaker quotes, the Park Board can't make the change on its own, and the state legislature is under constitutional restrictions:
The Minnesota constitution bars the Legislature at Article 12, Section 1 from passing a special or local law that changes the name of "persons, places lakes or rivers."
And yes, the Minnesota constitution does say, "The legislature shall pass no local or special law ... changing the names of persons, places, lakes or rivers." But the same section of the constitution also says:
The inhibitions of local or special laws in this section shall not prevent the passage of general laws on any of the subjects enumerated.
So the legislature could change this name -- a fact that Hinderaker (a lawyer) could have determined by looking at the state's constitution online, just the way I (a non-lawyer) did. But no -- he'd rather rant and rave about liberal fascism:
By “today’s climate,” I take it she means the climate of lawlessness fostered by the Obama administration. This illustrates another striking feature of contemporary liberalism: as the ends become more trivial, the means become more extreme and intolerant.
Yes, that's right: An unashamed white racist shot nine black people to death in a church last week, and Hinderaker thinks looking for a way to change the name of a freaking lake is "extreme and intolerant."

But Hinderaker has a larger point to make:
One could expand on the theme of symbolic liberalism indefinitely. What else are liberals fired up about these days? Making sure everyone calls Caitlyn Jenner -- one of a tiny number of transgendered Americans -- by her chosen name. And, of course, gay marriage, another purely symbolic issue, especially since all material and legal advantages of marriage are available through civil unions. And the most trivial issue of all, forcing bakers and florists to participate in gay weddings whether they like it or not, even though no one has ever suggested that gays suffer from a lack of cakes or flowers.
I'm sure Hinderaker doesn't think that signing a waiver to avoid direct contact with birth-control cooties under Obamacare is a "symbolic" gesture for Jesus-y businesses. And if "all material and legal advantages of marriage are available through civil unions," then I don't know why conservatives are fighting so hard to restrict marriage to straight people.

But the point Hinderaker seems to be making is that liberals are deemphasizing economics, crime, and foreign policy these days. I would say that that only seems to be the case -- and only because practically everything in those areas that liberals want to accomplish is being blocked by conservatives.

We're not allowed to take serious steps to curb climate change. We're not allowed to tighten access to guns. We're not allowed to reform America's immigration policy. We're not allowed to close a prison at Guantanamo that's a major recruiting tool for jihadists. We're not allowed to raise the national minimum wage. We're not allowed to close outrageous tax loopholes benefiting the super-rich. We're not allowed to undertake a major effort to build and repair infrastructure. (Hinderaker makes the laughable arguments that liberals oppose infrastructure.) A universal health-care law was passed, but every available conservative resource has been devoted to eviscerating that law, because conservatives are hell-bent on establishing that we're not allowed to make affordable, effective health coverage available to everyone.

So if liberalism seems to be directing its focus elsewhere, maybe that's why, John.


It would be nice to think that this means Fox News is changing, but that's unlikely:
Fox News will not renew its contract with Sarah Palin, whose bombastic appearances have been a cable staple since the former Alaska governor’s failed run on John McCain’s ticket in the 2008 presidential election cycle. When asked for comment, a Fox News spokesperson confirmed the network had amicably parted ways with the governor on June 1.

Palin, 51, is expected to make occasional guest appearances on Fox and Fox Business, and will appear on other networks and cables. She has a show on the Sportsman Channel, does a lot of speeches, and will announce a new publishing project soon.
Did Fox change when it dumped Glenn Beck in 2011? No. This move doesn't signal a change, either.

The handwriting was on the wall for Palin in late January when she was hinting that she might join the presidential race. Howard Kurtz published a roundup of skeptical commentary at FoxNews.com under the title "Panning Palin: Why Conservative Media Are Dismissing Her 2016 Prospects." At the same time, Palin got into a tiff with Bill O'Reilly, who was also dismissive about her presidential prospects:
Sarah Palin complained that “quasi-right” media figures weren’t uniting behind conservative potential presidential candidates like herself after Bill O’Reilly joked about her during a promo.

The Fox News host suggested Tuesday that Palin, Donald Trump, and Chris Christie were not serious candidates in the 2016 White House race.

“Wow, talk about a reality show,” a smirking O’Reilly said....

Palin ... complained afterward during an appearance on “The Sean Hannity Show” ...

“Even there on Fox, kind of a quasi- or assumed conservative outlet,” Palin [said], “we have all day listening to the tease with Bill O’Reilly’s, he’s talking about the guests on his show tonight, or the commentary on his show, and that would be, ‘Oh, all these GOP contenders thinking about running like Donald Trump, Sarah Palin,’ and he names them off -- he says, ‘Oh, what a reality show that would be, yuck-yuck.’”

... “No, the people of America deserve the best, and competition through a GOP primary, whether a Bill O’Reilly or somebody else assumes it’s a reality show or not, they deserve that competition to surface the competitor who can take on Hillary or whomever it may be and win for this country,” Palin said.
(Oh, we'll miss that Palin syntax on Fox, won't we?)

And Roger Ailes soured on Palin years ago, according to Gabriel Sherman's Ailes biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room:

Sherman says Palin alienated others at Fox from the beginning -- Fox producers called Palin and her husband "The Bitch" and "The Eskimo."

So this says nothing about Fox. Fox will remain as awful as ever.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway has posted an unstructured, meandering, relentless whiny diatribe about the growing movement to take down flags and other items that honor the Confederacy. She quotes Solzhenitsyn and Heine; she compares the orderly removal of Confederate flags and statues to the destruction of ancient Buddhas by ISIS.

Ultimately, we get to the gist of her argument:
Basically it’s just such a hysterical atmosphere at this point, that no one can conceive of a person who is against something but also willing to tolerate the expression of that thing....

Listen, it’s great that we’re aiming to be an anti-racist society. That’s very, very good! But it’s bad that we are slowly forgetting how to dislike something without seeking its utter destruction.
This argument might give me pause -- except that I know it comes from a representative of a conservative movement that disapproved of what a handful of ACORN employees said on videotape and responding by destroying the organization altogether. I know this movement is trying to destroy legal abortion in America, and government labor unions, and, ultimately, non-government labor unions. I know the movement wants to destroy Obamacare and the public school system and the Postal Service and Amtrak. I know the movement wants to hobble Social Security and Medicare until they cease to exist, and would abolish the minimum wage if that were politically feasible.

Here's the Heine quote from Hemingway:
And how we manage these processes of disapproval truly is important for civil society. To quote Heinrich Heine, a man who definitely knew of what he spoke, “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning men.”
If Hemingway objects to the "burning" of people, let me give her a list of names: Lani Guinier, the Dixie Chicks, Shirley Sherrod, Sandra Fluke, Graeme Frost, Van Jones, Dan Rather, Eason Jordan. And can we talk about the developers of the Park51 project, aka the "Ground Zero mosque"? I'd say they were singed. Did Hemingway have a problem with that?

No modern movement conservative has any standing whatsoever to lecture anyone else on intolerance. It's that simple.


David Brooks worries that Pope Francis lacks a proper appreciation of the glories of capitalism:
Pope Francis is one of the world’s most inspiring figures. There are passages in his new encyclical on the environment that beautifully place human beings within the seamless garment of life. And yet over all the encyclical is surprisingly disappointing....

Hardest to accept ... is the moral premise implied throughout the encyclical: that the only legitimate human relationships are based on compassion, harmony and love, and that arrangements based on self-interest and competition are inherently destructive....

Moral realists, including Catholic ones, should be able to worship and emulate a God of perfect love and still appreciate systems, like democracy and capitalism, that harness self-interest. But Francis doesn’t seem to have practical strategies for a fallen world. He neglects the obvious truth that the qualities that do harm can often, when carefully directed, do enormous good. Within marriage, lust can lead to childbearing. Within a regulated market, greed can lead to entrepreneurship and economic innovation. Within a constitution, the desire for fame can lead to political greatness.

You would never know from the encyclical that we are living through the greatest reduction in poverty in human history. A raw and rugged capitalism in Asia has led, ironically, to a great expansion of the middle class and great gains in human dignity....
Omigod! The Catholic Church has gone Bolshevik!

Well, no, actually it hasn't. This story would suggest that the church is still cozying up to power, the way it generally has in recent memory:

James B. Lee Jr., a towering figure on Wall Street, was remembered at his funeral Mass on Monday as a father, a friend and an investment banker possessed of boundless energy, sprawling interests and a crackling wit, qualities that made him one of the most successful and beloved figures in his industry.

The service, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan, was just blocks from where Mr. Lee worked as vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase. There, he shaped corporate America, and the nation’s biggest bank, through a career that established him as perhaps the pre-eminent deal maker of his generation.

... Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan presided over the funeral Mass....

Mr. Lee pioneered the syndicated loan market -- in which multiple banks cooperate to lend money to a single client to finance a major transaction. This innovation allowed Mr. Lee to become the go-to financier for corporate chieftains looking to strike transformative multibillion-dollar deals as well as for private equity heads seeking leverage for their big debt-laden buyouts of public companies....

“This is where we New Yorkers come, Catholics and all faiths, in moments of loss and difficulty and heartache,” Cardinal Dolan said. “So you are all very much at home here this morning.”
Lee, known as Jimmy, wasn't the worst of the banksters, although Matt Taibbi wrote this about him:
As one of the world's leading Leveraged Buyout (LBO) pioneers, Lee is a human bridge symbolically connecting two different and equally loathsome eras in Wall Street iniquity -- the Gordon Gekko/LBO Eighties and Nineties, and the price-rigging, bubble-making, steal-everything-not-nailed-down era covering the Wall Street of today. From the public's perspective, Lee basically represents the banker who foreclosed on your house and the guy who liquidated your factory in a deal financed by junk bonds, all in one.
In 2013, Lee was asked to do a Twitter Q&A on behalf of JPMorgan Chase. The Q&A had to be canceled when it resulted in tweets such as the following:

Reading David Brooks, you'd think Lee would get a similar response in a Catholic church under the new commie pope. But not to worry -- he got a cardinal to do his funeral Mass, and the ushers were strictly from the A list:

So relax, David. They're not stashing pitchforks and tumbrels in the sacristy. Capitalism is still in no real danger from Catholics.


UPDATE:(My analysis in this post was wrong -- Trump shot up in the polls shortly after I wrote it.)

You may have missed this yesterday, but according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Donald Trump is the choice of just 1% of Republicans. An NBC poll analysis tells us this:
The Donald: Is just a bit outside the top 10 at 1% support, meaning he would be left off the debate stage in August. Worth noting that he announced the day after Bush and apparently did not get a bump from that interesting speech he delivered at Trump tower.
It's unusual for a candidate to get no bump whatsoever from a candidacy announcement. By contrast, Jeb Bush, who finished first in the poll, seems to have been helped by his announcement:
Jeb Bush is the first choice of 22% of likely GOP voters....

The caveat: The poll was conducted June 14-18 in the midst of the Bush announcement tour, which may have given him a bump.
The widespread reaction to Trump's announcement was laughter. If it had been exasperation -- if he'd angered liberals and Democrats in particular, and if, after his announcement, we and the non-conservative media were talking about how dangerous his demagoguery was -- I think he'd have gotten a bump. He didn't have to be serious or credible -- he just had to be approximately as infuriating as he was, say, when he was first talking about the president's birth certificate, before the long-form certificate was released.

Maybe he should have delivered the relatively tight, ten-minute prepared speech he released in document form before his announcement, rather than that incoherent hour-long rant. A tight speech that attacked the president as weak and included nativist denunciations of foreigners? That might have helped him.

GOP voters choose candidates primarily based on one criterion: Can you make our political enemies howl? Jeb is doing reasonably well because some Republican voters think he can win a general election against Hillary Clinton. Scott Walker has been doing quite well because he's beaten Democrats repeatedly.

We laugh at Trump. We laugh at Sarah Palin now as well, so she no longer does well in Republican polls -- but when she seemed to have the potential to hurt and enrage us, Republicans thought she could be a great president.

Nobody fears you, Donald. We know you're a clown, but after that announcement, nobody thinks you're a dangerous clown. You blew it.

Monday, June 22, 2015


South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds in South Carolina. Walmart has announced that it will no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise. The Republican speaker of the Mississippi House now says that Confederate emblem in the state's flag should be removed.

Change is coming fast. But then there's South Carolina state senator Lee Bright:
Some Spartanburg County lawmakers support removing the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds, but state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, characterized the movement to remove it and other Confederate monuments as a “Stalinist Purge.”
Yes, a "Stalinist purge."

More, from The Washington Post:
Lee Bright, a South Carolina state senator with a Confederate flag framed above his office sofa, saw his inbox ping with hundreds of e-mails calling for the flag to come down from the statehouse grounds. He said the rebel symbol was threatened by a “war of political correctness” run amok.

“It’s a lot of hateful e-mails about the South,” Bright said. “If they have such contempt for it, they’re welcome to stay where they are. Just because a mass murderer has a symbol on his automobile -- there are folks that have killed in the name throughout history. We won’t take things out of context just because of an atrocity.

“The Klan used to burn crosses, but nobody thinks of that as a hate symbol. I am very proud of the history of South Carolina. I don’t think any reasonable person would make an argument for slavery, but the men who defended the South were just trying to protect their homes.”
Bright got 16% of the vote in the 2014 Republican U.S. Senate primary, finishing a distant second to incumbent Lindsey Graham.

As I noted in 2013, he's a piece of work:
Bright introduced a bill in 2010 that would exempt firearms made in South Carolina from federal gun laws -- and then reintroduced it after the Sandy Hook massacre. He wants to exempt virtually all adult residents of the state from new federal gun laws because these people are deemed to be members of a state militia....

Bright, who has been named a "Taxpayer Hero" by the Club for Growth, once introduced legislation to study the notion that South Carolina should create its own currency. He likes this sort of thing, and makes extremely funny jokes on the subject:
During the 2010 session, Bright sponsored legislation passed by the state Senate that in addition to affirming South Carolina's Second-, Ninth- and 10th-amendment rights, also targeted federal health care legislation by saying state residents are not subject to any law that interferes with patients' rights to choose their own health care provider or pay for medical services directly.

"If at first you don't secede, try again," Bright said with a laugh after the legislation passed last year.
He invited people reading his campaign Web site to sign a fetal personhood pledge. He's on the board of directors of the Palmetto Family Council, which opposes "militant homosexual advocacy." Oh, and he was the South Carolina chairman of Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign.
That guy will vote no. We'll see how many vote yes. South Carolina's Post and Courier is asking all state legislators how they'll vote; so far, a significant majority of legislators, of both parties, say they'll vote yes. Eight legislators, all Republicans, promise to vote no. Keep checking that link for updated totals.


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: I did not realize that Lee Bright is South Carolina co-chair of the Ted Cruz presidential campaign.