Well bully for you, Supreme Court!

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We’ve heard a lot about bullying over the past decade or two. And from what I can tell, pretty much everyone who is anyone is against it. We don’t bully nerds. We don’t bully gays. We don’t bully the unpretty, or the unhandsome. We don’t kick sand on the 97-pound weakling. We don’t beat up the fat kid.

Not anymore. We’ve evolved.

Or at least that’s what I thought until Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in its inevitable 5-4 decision along its usual 5-4 philosophical lines, declared it was perfectly fine and legal and good and wholesome and downright American to bully – yes, I said bully – people who don’t share your religion.

Well bully for you, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy.

Boy did you get this one wrong. Continue reading

Bronx cheer, 10/09/13

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Say hello, or guten tag, to Brenda Barton, an Arizona state representative who can’t spell right and can’t think straight.

Our gal Brenda decided recently that the president of the United States reminded her of a certain German dictator from back in the early ’40s. We’ll pause here for a moment while you try to figure out who that might be.

The decidedly left-wing Talking Points Memo notes that our gal Brenda posted this cute message on her Facebook page:

“Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their efforts to carry out the order of De Fuhrer… where are our Constitutional Sheriffs who can revoke the Park Service Rangers authority to arrest??? Do we have any Sheriffs with a pair?”

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Never mind that it should be Der Fuhrer, not De Fuhrer (It’s Der, d’uhhhh!). Let’s just consider that it is really, really offensive to compare just about anybody to that certain German dictator who was responsible for the systematic extermination of roughly . . .

5.1–6.0 million Jews, including 3.0–3.5 million Polish Jews
1.8 –1.9 million non-Jewish Poles (includes all those killed in executions or those that died in prisons, labor, and concentration camps, as well as civilians killed in the 1939 invasion and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising)
500,000–1.2 million Serbs killed by Croat Nazis
200,000–800,000 Roma & Sinti
200,000–300,000 people with disabilities
80,000–200,000 Freemasons [23]
100,000 communists
10,000–25,000 homosexual men
2,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses

Barton, to her “credit,” decided to stick to her guns (this, after all, is Arizona), reportedly telling the Arizona Capital Times, which is behind a paywall:

“He’s dictating beyond his authority . . . . “It’s not just the death camps. [Hitler] started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people.”

Well, I guess that makes it official. Obama = Hitler.

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Here’s someone else who was compared to Hitler . . .

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And here’s another . . .

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And another . . .

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I could go on. But you know what? It ain’t funny. Not even close.

Frank Bruni addressed this in The New York Times the other day, and he was dead right.

The only person who should be reasonably compared to the worst genocidal maniac in the history of our planet should be an equally genocidal maniac. And we haven’t seen him in the last 70 years, and I hope we never do. Largely because of him, over 60 million people were killed, including nearly half a million American servicemen.

So I’m sick and tired of hearing about how this is like the Nazis and how this guy is like this guy . . .

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. . . because it debases each and every one of us when we say that. Nobody is like this guy. Nobody.

Not a day has gone by in my life when I haven’t heard the word “Nazi” or “Hitler” or “Third Reich,” which just goes to show what an influence this evil wretch had on history. Time Magazine named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century back in 2000, but they were wrong. It was Hitler. It’s 2013 now, and I can go days, even weeks, without reading or hearing Einstein’s name. I can’t say the same for Hitler. Somehow, I seem to hear or read a reference to him every damn day.

See for yourself. See if a day goes by when you don’t see a reference to Nazis/Hitler/Third Reich. (I’ve just covered today.) They’re always there. And there’s a reason for that . . . Because an unimaginable global horror took place just 70 years ago, and we can’t help but gape in awe at the evil.

There’s a reason we say “Never Forget.” And that’s because we never should. But it’s also why we need to stop comparing people we don’t happen to like to the person we hate more than anyone else. It’s unseemly. It’s beneath us. Let’s stop.

— 30 —

Bronx cheer, 08/20/13

This week is off to a helluva start.

Let’s talk about this guy . . .

Somebody, somewhere has to come to this guy’s defense. It might as well be me.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

According to a story in the Portland Press Herald, this guy remarked at a Maine Republican Party fundraiser on Aug. 12 that Barack Obama could have been the best president ever if he’d only highlighted his biracial heritage, but that Obama couldn’t do that because he “hates white people.”

OK, that’s kind of disgusting. Let’s read on:

The governor made the comment during a Maine Republican Party fundraiser on Aug. 12 at the home of John and Linda Fortier in Belgrade. According to the invitation, the fundraiser was a “meet and greet” for LePage and first lady Ann LePage, and an opportunity to meet Rick Bennett, the new party chairman.

OK . . . people with brains should be furious about this, if LePage said it.

But note that I said “if.” That’s because . . .

NOBODY WILL GO ON THE RECORD SAYING HE DID.

That’s what’s really disgusting here. LePage’s accusers, according to the Press Herald, are “two state lawmakers who say they heard the remark directly,” but who don’t have the cojones to reveal their names.

The lawmakers, both Republicans, confirmed the comment when asked by a Portland Press Herald reporter but asked that their names be withheld for fear of political retribution. 

So what we have here is a guy who is essentially being called a racist by two snakes who swear he said it but who don’t have the nerve to tell us who they are.

And it leads to stuff like this:

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SHOCKING REMARKS EXPOSED!!!

And this:

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And this:

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And nowhere is there an accuser willing to go on the record.

Where I come from, we call this character assassination. If you’re going to call someone a racist, then have the decency to come out from behind the curtain and let me see who you are.

So the Bronx cheer here goes to those two unidentified Maine Republican legislators who “confirmed” this story, and to the Press Herald, and to Think Progress, and to Mediate, and to MSNBC, and to anyone else who ran with it without getting someone – anyone – to go on the record.

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And then there’s this guy . . .

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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, eh?

Our guy Teddy has decided to renounce his Canadian citizenship, because why exactly? Are you somehow embarrassed that you were born there? Do you really feel that you are somehow less American if you have dual citizenship? Do you think that anyone – anyone – will seriously question your loyalty to Texas or your loyalty to the United States just because of this? . . .

Or are you renouncing your citizenship because you’re deathly afraid of what this clown might say? . . .

Teddy, renouncing your dual citizenship is silly. You’re an American. You don’t have to  do stupid stuff to prove it.

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And this guy . . .

Valarie (Geez, I Never Thought of That) Hodges

We’ve saved the best for last.

Our gal Val is a representative in the Louisiana legislature, and she was very supportive of a law backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal that, according to livingstonparishnews.com, “proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups.”

But Val has changed her mind, because it has come to her attention that there is more than one religion in the world.

[S]he had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools. 

“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.” 

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

— 30 —

I just want to know who won the eighth at Belmont

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Barack To The Future: Future President Obama Hopes We All ‘Had A Safe And Happy 4th Of July’ (Mediaite)

President Obama‘s supporters and detractors, alike, have imbued our Commander-in-Chief with a variety of superpowers over the years, from anability to control the weather to the now-canonical Jedi Mind-meld. Now, apparently, you can add time travel to the list, as the President, in a video address released by the White House Thursday morning, told Americans “I hope you all had a safe and happy Fourth of July,” and regaled them with the past-tense tale of the White House’s 4th of July event, which seems to have gone off without a hitch later today.

“Hi everybody.  I hope you all had a safe and happy Fourth of July, filled with parades, cookouts, fireworks and family reunions,” the President said, or will say, I haven’t worked that part out yet. He added/will add “We celebrated at the White House with a few hundred members of the military and their families. And we took a moment amid the festivities to remember what our Independence Day is all about – what happened 237 years ago, and what it meant to the world.”

Really, Matt?

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Hmmmm . . . Let’s have a look at what she really said.

Michelle Obama jokes: White House ‘a really nice prison’ (Washington Post)

Speaking at a summit of the wives of African leaders in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday,Michelle Obama and Laura Bush commiserated on the constrictions of being first lady and how hard it is to talk about substantive issues when people are focused on your hairstyle.

“There are prison-like elements, but it’s a really nice prison,” Michelle Obama said. ”You can’t complain. There are confining elements.”

Nuf said.

We now await the next totally misleading headline from the Drudge Report.

Worth reading, 06/28/13

The Service of Snowden (Roger Cohen, New York Times)

So what is Snowden? A self-aggrandizing geek who betrayed his country and his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, exposed the United States to greater risk of terrorist attack, and may now — wittingly or unwittingly — have made his trove of secrets available to China and Russia, nations that are no longer enemies but are rival powers?

Or a brave young American determined to fight — at the risk of long imprisonment — against his country’s post-9/11 lurch toward invasion of citizens’ lives, ever more intrusive surveillance, undifferentiated data-hauling of the world’s digital exhaust fumes (for storage in a one-million-square-foot fortress in Utah), and the powers of a compliant secret court to issue warrants for international eavesdropping and e-mail vacuuming?

As the old Miller Lite ad used to say, I feel very strongly both ways.

This is an excellent analysis. Make sure to read this today.

Wasting our time

A couple of items leaped out from my Twitter feed this morning.

Here’s one:

Here’s the other:

They’re intertwined. We’ve had 37 votes in the House to repeal Obamacare, and everyone knows they’re going nowhere. So what’s the point, Mr. Speaker? Are you there to score points with Republicans? Or are you there to legislate?

Isn’t it time to stop fighting this pointless war over Obamacare? It’s the law. It’s a done deal. And you can host a vote to repeal it every day of the year and it still won’t pass in the Senate. And even if it does, it will be vetoed by the president of the United States.

Why not move on to some other things — like affordable loans for college students — that actually might do some good?

There has to be more to being a congressman than launching your reelection drive the moment you take your oath of office. How about trying to accomplish something while you’re there?

Want to cite a poll, Mr. Boehner? Cite the one that shows public approval of Congress.

Game over

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The old joke used to go, “I have no problem with gay marriage unless they make it mandatory.”

The old joke stands.

I’m straight. Can’t help it, I was born that way. But some people aren’t, and they were born that way, too. And whom they choose to love, and whom they choose to be their sex partners, is none of my damn business. And it most definitely is not my government’s business.

Opponents of gay marriage are adamant that their god intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. But that argument makes marriage a religious ceremony, and that has to be decided within their religion. Those opponents don’t have to morally accept  a marriage between two men or two women. But now they have to accept it legally. It’s the law.

As long as the government chooses to sanction marriage — and as long as it authorizes government employees such as judges and mayors and justices of the peace to engage in the act of marrying people — then it has to be fair. Same-sex couples are entitled to the same civil rights as opposite-sex couples.

Years ago, an editor at my workplace ordered that these unions be referred to as “same-sex marriages,” and not “gay marriages,” because he said it wasn’t about sex, it was about marriage. I disagreed. It was all about sex, I said. Opponents of gay marriage  wouldn’t give a damn if those married gays weren’t having sex.

I doubt you’ll find a single opponent of gay-marriage who is fine with gay sex outside of marriage. It is homosexuality that sets their hair on fire, not the notion of homosexuals getting married.

So today was a good day. The Supreme Court got it right. I would have preferred something more sweeping, something on the lines of Loving v. Virginia, but today’s rulings forbid the United States of America to discriminate against gay couples, and they make it much easier for gays to get married.

Thirteen states allow gay marriages now, and California’s addition to the club means 30 percent of Americans live in those states. And gays who don’t live in one of those states can travel out-of-state, get married, and be entitled to all federal benefits.

A majority of Americans now support gay marriage. Most polls show that young Americans overwhelmingly support gay marriage.

That sound you hear is the sound of dominoes falling. Another pillar of bigotry is crumbling at our feet.

Good.

Sam needs a time out

Justice Samuel Alito’s middle-school antics (by Dana Milbank, Washington Post)

The most remarkable thing about the Supreme Court’s opinions announced Monday was not what the justices wrote or said. It was what Samuel Alito did.

The associate justice, a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn’t stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague.

Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, was making her argument about how the majority opinion made it easier for sexual harassment to occur in the workplace when Alito, seated immediately to Ginsburg’s left, shook his head from side to side in disagreement, rolled his eyes and looked at the ceiling.

His treatment of the 80-year-old Ginsburg, 17 years his elder and with 13 years more seniority, was a curious display of judicial temperament or, more accurately, judicial intemperance. Typically, justices state their differences in words — and Alito, as it happens, had just spoken several hundred of his own from the bench. But he frequently supplements words with middle-school gestures.

This guy needs to go to the principal’s office. Sam is a big boy now and really should know better.

Shame.

Get the government out of the marriage business

The Supreme Court is going to rule very soon on the issue of gay marriage, and right now we can be certain of this much:

Roughly half the country is going to be very upset.

And understandably so.

If gay marriage is illegal, then it’s discrimination against gays. And discrimination is wrong. Just. Plain. Wrong.

But if gay marriage is legal, it’s an affront to a lot of people’s religious beliefs. And that’s wrong, too.

I am willing to accept the notion that marriage is a religious vow, and every church, mosque or synagogue has a First Amendment right to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Religious bigotry is none of the state’s business.

But once I accept that notion, I have to ask why the government is officially recognizing a religious rite.

How about we settle this dilemma once and for all by getting the government out of the marriage business?

You got married? Good for you. Have a ball. But your government doesn’t care. None of its business.

You want the legal rights of a couple? Get a civil union certification. And the government will not and cannot discriminate on issuing them. Two adults, legally united. Anyone may apply.

Get the married checkbox off the 1040. Require hospitals to allow visitation privileges only to blood relatives and persons in civil unions. Marriage does not give you the rights of survivorship. That requires a recognized civil union.

And there you have it. If gay marriage violates your religious beliefs . . . Fine. Don’t recognize a gay marriage. But you DO have to recognize a gay couple’s civil union. And their civil union will be the exact same one that straight couples must get in addition to their marriage certificate if they want to have the legal rights of a couple.

Basically, it’s time to end the marriage between church and state.

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Next crisis!