Gay Marriage Debate Shifts Into The Surreal April 2, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: agema, chris clemons, chris kluwe, doma, everhart, gay marriage, prop 8, supreme court, willie nelson
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Hunter Thompson famously remarked, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” If Thompson could still be here for the Supreme Court case on DOMA and California’s Prop 8, he’d probably do a couple of lines of coke, munch some peyote buttons, and go out in the back with his .357 Magnum to shoot some shit…because like the man says, the weird turn pro.
There’s just no other explanation for it when some 11 year-old kid is standing outside a North Carolina church spouting senseless propaganda like, “The Bible talks about the homosexuals — they’re worthy of death.” Yeah, well the Bible also talks about people who eat shellfish, and they’re worthy of death too, so maybe you should be protesting outside Red Lobster.
Or take a look at Dave Agema, Michigan Republican National Committeeman, who is using his Facebook page to claim that part of the “homosexual agenda” is to “get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle”. And when he is challenged on this sort of hateful rhetoric, he, conforming to the GOP handbook, doesn’t back down, but doubles down (Don’t retreat, reload.) His followup Facebook reply is notable for its many factual, grammatical, and spelling errors. Here’s my favorite lines: “I can send you reems [sic] of studies showing the negative health affects [sic] of this lifestyle,” Agema wrote. “Instead you would have us accept it, teach it to our kids, include it in our platform and cause great harm to society.” Listen, fella, you’d do well to stop worrying if they’re going to teach gay marriage as an alternative lifestyle in school and worry more whether they can teach you how to compose a coherent sentence.
Stop for a moment and consider the argument of Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart, who warns that if gay marriage is legalized, there will be a rash of straight individuals entering into sham gay marriages just to receive spousal benefits. She says this with a completely straight face, without ever once stopping to consider the irony of a society in which, thanks to Republican policies, things like health insurance and unemployment benefits and food stamps are at such a premium that anyone would even consider such a bizarre scheme.
But for pure Twilight Zone creative imagination, no one is going to top Italian scientist Gian Paolo Vanoli. Vanoli claims that homosexuality is a disease, a form of autism, and that it is caused by…wait for it…vaccines. Ironically, Vanoli supports gay marriage and gay adoption, because he doesn’t believe in discriminating against people who are afflicted with an illness. Great. With friends like these….
At the same time, there have been rumors swirling around the internet that a gay NFL player is about to come out of the closet. There are a lot of NFL players who want to believe that with 33 teams, each with 53 players on the roster, not a single one of them has ever sucked a dick. Like Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons, who thinks such a move would be “selfish” on the part of the player outing himself. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe issues the only possible response: “Grow the fuck up”.
In the absence of Hunter Thompson, I think it’s appropriate that we turn to another folk philosopher for a much-needed dose of common sense wisdom on this controversy that shouldn’t be controversial:
Willie Nelson, apparently the only sane man in the state, tells “Texas Monthly”: “It’s ridiculous to me that this is something we’re having a conversation about in this day and age. I thought it was something that was settled a long time ago. I’ve known straight and gay people all my life. I can’t tell the difference. People are people where I came from.”
And about his equality poster…he’s right about that other thing too.
Mississippi Madness July 11, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Uncategorized.
Tags: abortion, mississippi, rights, Romney, supreme court
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It’s good to have Nurse Tidwell back in the house, and as always, she makes a good point. She was hurling expletives at CNN this morning while I was rolling my eyes in disbelief at MSNBC last night. Rachel Maddow had a spokesperson for an abortion rights group on, and she was lauding a federal court in one jurisdiction or another that had upheld abortion rights in some form. This woman went on to smilingly proclaim that the war for a woman’s right to control her own body was being successfully waged in courts across the country…while completely ignoring the fact that knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers in state legislatures across the land are passing new laws every day that, while not challenging the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade, are making it all but physically impossible to obtain a safe legal abortion anywhere in America. If it’s not just the Mississippi law that insists that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at the local hospital (which no local hospital anywhere in Mississippi is going to grant them), it’s the Virginia law that a woman must go a transvaginal ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion (at her own expense), and it’s the 83 separate laws passed in various states also limiting access to abortion. Many of these regulations are so-called TRAP laws, for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. These are laws that try to nickel and dime abortion clinics out of business by insisting on revisions of everything from door heights to hallway widths to drinking fountain specifications. If we on the left naively believe that the courts will continue to provide a remedy for this onslaught on women’s rights, we’d better think again. The Supreme Court is just one vote shy of repealing Roe v. Wade, with every possibility of as many as two seats becoming available on SCOTUS during the next presidential administration. How any woman in America can in good conscience pull the lever for Mitt Romney is beyond me, but then again, a lot of things are beyond me.
Supreme Politics June 29, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, decision, john roberts, Politics, rigged, supreme court
No sensible person ever would describe the Supreme Court as “rigged”, but no sane person would ever fail to note that it is, in fact, political. It has ever been so, and that is why presidents are so eager to have the opportunity to appoint new justices. This is not to say that every decision the court makes has its basis in political expediency, but irrespective of yesterday’s outcome, I will forever believe that the decisions in Citizens United and Gore v. Bush were nothing more than pure political hackery. A single exception does not disprove the rule. There are several possible explanations for the chief justice’s decision on the Affordable Care Act:
1) As my blogmate suggested, he may simply have decided purely on the merits of the case.
2) As Robert Reich suggested, Roberts may have needed to reassert the legitimacy of the court to once again give it the patina of impartiality and nonpartisanship. A third negative decision after Gore v. Bush and Citizens United would have been the last nail in that argument’s coffin.
3) Roberts is no fool. He knows that this decision has as much chance of derailing Obama’s re-election chances as it does of bolstering them. And if the Republicans can retain the House, win the Senate, and take the White House, they will almost certainly repeal Obamacare in short order, making the SCOTUS decision moot. Even if the Republicans don’t win it all, and they probably won’t, Obamacare is still in for a relentless attack for the next four years. Politically speaking, Roberts has thrown the Democrats a bone. The Citizens United decision is way more likely to win the election for the Republicans that the Affordable Care decision is to win for the Dems. But it’s still a political calculus.
Partisanship And SCOTUS June 26, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, arizona, immigration, partisanship, SCOTUS, supreme court
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Not every decision the Supreme Court makes is a partisan political decision (of course). The decision striking down three of the four major provisions in the draconian Arizona immigration law can still be viewed in a political light. On the one hand, the court makes a show of nonpartisanship by throwing Obama a bone, but they also maintain a bullet point for the right by failing to strike down the onerous “show me your papers” provision. Or maybe the Arizona law really is clearly unconstitutional and even a blind man with a black Sharpie couldn’t fail to redact most of it. The immigration decision is small potatoes. The main course is still coming up on the Affordable Care Act. A reversal of that piece of legislation would be like a rebuke to the core values of the Obama agenda, and would serve as a ready-made campaign commercial for Mitt Romney. On the other hand, such a decision could also backfire. It would serve to emphasize the political nature of SCOTUS and highlight the absolute necessity of assuring that the next justice is one appointed by President Obama (take one look at Ruth Bador Ginsburg in the photo, and you’ll see why I’m worried…)
You’re Blogmate Was Taking Sunday Off June 25, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Health Care, Politics.
Tags: citizens united, Health Care, Obamacare, partisan, political, supreme court
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And I didn’t have the balls to post the piece about the guy with the hundred pound scrotum, even though I’d bookmarked it days ago. Mitt Romney might consider this guy for Secretary of State, but I suspect that Hillary’s are still larger.
I have a feeling that what my blogmate and I will be focused on this week is the potential reversal of Obamacare by the Supreme Court. If they do reverse it, I believe it will be a partisan political decision, but the court isn’t really above that sort of thing. If the “Citizens United” ruling didn’t give the GOP enough of a leg up to win back the White House, then crushing Obama’s most important initiative ought to do the trick. Stand by.
That’s Not A Headsplit, THIS Is A Headsplit May 15, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Uncategorized.
Tags: Common Cause, crazy-land, fillibuster, Republicans are the problem, supreme court
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With less than six months to election day, the very real possibility that Mitt Romney could take over the White House and Republicans could capture both the Senate and the House is almost too terrifying to contemplate. The Republican Party has become more like Darth Vader and a legion of imperial storm troopers than a reasoned deliberative political body in the last two decades, and in the last four years they’ve demonstrated that it is not only feasible for the tail to wag the dog, but that the dog’s wishes are basically immaterial. If they move from the obstructionist minority party to the proactive majority party, the resulting legislative landscape might be unrecognizable…think “scorched earth”.
It’s not just me who’s grown weary and fearful of the Republican’s en masse migration to crazy-land. Guys who analyze political trends for a living are beginning to realize that what we’ve seen recently is unlike anything our system has witnessed since George Washington said he didn’t really want the job. In last week’s Washington Post (yeah, the same publication that shared Mitt Romney’s bullying past), Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, political scientists from Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute respectively, wrote:
It’s worth reading every word, and I imagine my blogmate already has or will, and will return with half a dozen bullet points refuting the whole premise, with particular attention to the “fact” that the Democrats supposedly had a “supermajority” in Congress and squandered it, but for those of you (and you know who you are) who don’t have the time or interest to click on the links, let me give you the core of Mann and Ornstein’s postulate:
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
The method by which the tail has successfully wagged the dog throughout Obama’s first term is the fillibuster, which has been used more frequently in the last three years than ever in the history of the Senate. Attorneys for Common Cause are petitioning the Supreme Court to have the fillibuster declared unconstitutional. Given the court’s recent fondness for Republican and conservative causes, the fillibuster case has about as much chance of a favorable ruling as I do of scoring a Pulitzer, but hope springs eternal.
The Least Important Thing You’ll Read Today April 4, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Health Care, Politics.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, corporate, individual mandate, insurance, judicial activism, justices, obama, political decision, SCOTUS, supreme court
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Which I say not because I think I’m wrong, but simply because being right doesn’t matter one hell of a lot if not many people are paying attention, and if none of them could do anything about it anyway. That being said, let’s talk for a moment about health care reform, judicial activism, and the Supreme Court. There’s a fair chance that at least the individual mandate aspect of the Affordable Care Act is going to be overturned by SCOTUS. Is that judicial activism? In one sense yes, and in another, no, it’s just politics. The fact of the matter is that the Republicans have hated the whole concept of health care reform from the outset. The idea of single-payer universal access has about as much appeal to the GOP as a 50% capital gains tax. This is the party of corporations, whether it’s the guys selling beans and franks at twenty bucks a can to the GI’s in Kandihar or the guys giving you a thousand bucks and three days in the hospital for a liver transplant. Not a one of them voted for the original bill and to a man they vowed to destroy it from the moment it passed with 60 Democratic votes in the Senate…and state by state and clause by clause, they’ve done a pretty good job of doing exactly that. Now they’ve managed to make a real federal case out of it, landing it before the nine justices of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is basically a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP in 2012. Obama has appointed two new justices during his tenure, but they are moderates or liberals who replaced retiring moderates or liberals, so the well-documented and persistent 5-4 rightward lean of the court is unchanged. It’s fair to say that the justices are about to make a political decision as much as a constitutional one. Even when the justices plead that they are being completely objective, their own political precepts are bound to have an influence on their decisions. Contrary to what Obama may have said in previous speeches or books or any disavowals from the GOP on the same issue, this is one of the reasons to be elected president, to have the opportunity to appoint judges who share your worldview and are likely to come down on your side of issues when other factors are equal. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous and naive. Would Bill Clinton have nominated Clarence Thomas? Would Reagan have appointed Ruth Bader Ginsberg?
The Affordable Care Act may, in fact, go down in flames, but the problem of tens of millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans won’t go away. The whole issue will have to be addressed and readdressed, and three years or six years or ten years from now, it might even end up before the Supreme Court again in another form. What happens in this election in 2012 may have a lot to do with how that future SCOTUS will see things, and even more to do with the health of American voters. The Republicans, who are very good at controlling the debate, put “Death Panels” on the front page three years ago. Why Democrats haven’t managed to similarly highlight the Republican motto, “Let ‘Em Die”, in 2012 is beyond me.
Activist Judicial Overreach: Lefty Headsplit March 29, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Health Care, Politics.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, election, Gore, individual mandate, obama, Obamacare, state's rights, supreme court
It was a similar crew of conservative justices on the Supreme Court that decided that their long-held beliefs on states’ rights were irrelevant and made George W. Bush our next president in 2000. Now, they’re back!!! And they might decide yet another presidential election.
Imagine the damage it does to President Obama to strip him of his signature accomplishment right before the election. It would also allow the Republicans to say — “See, we told you so! It was unconstitutional all along. It was a wild, socialist over-reach of big government.” It creates a permanent stain on the law — as if there was something horribly wrong with it all along. And it takes it off the books at a moment when it is still relatively unpopular. So, before any of the popular provisions are put into effect it would go in the record books as a complete disaster.
Why don’t you just hand the Republicans the election? Which is, of course, exactly what the conservatives of this court would love to do. These conservative justices are given far too much deference in the media. They are largely partisan hacks.
Antonin Scalia is a complete fraud. He will bend any so-called principle to get to the political result he wants. If it’s upholding anti-gay legislation or striking down federal laws he doesn’t like, he is a huge advocate for states’ rights. But if it’s marijuana legalization or euthanasia or Bush v. Gore, then he hates states’ rights. So, which one is it? Here’s how you can tell — which side is the Republican Party on?
Remember, this is a guy who goes duck hunting with Dick Cheney and attends political fundraisers with the Koch brothers. Of course, he doesn’t recuse himself from any cases that involve those people. In fact, he votes on their side nearly 100% of the time.
We’ve been hearing for at least thirty years about the dangers of activist judges. That it is so wrong for unelected officials, like judges, to invalidate laws made by the people’s representatives. Now, all of a sudden, the Republicans love that idea! They want to interpret the Commerce Clause in a way that it has not been interpreted since 1937. They want to invalidate a sitting president’s signature piece of legislation for the first time in 75 years. And their hack, partisan justices on the Supreme Court can’t wait to do their bidding.
The way Scalia, Alito and Thomas are going to vote is certain. There isn’t a single Republican position those guys haven’t wanted to fondle. They will enthusiastically wrap their legs around the idea that the mandate is unconstitutional. And they will double down by saying it strikes down the rest of the law with it.
John Roberts plays a moderate on TV, so there is some questions about which way he’ll go. But in the real world, he always votes with the conservatives because… he is deeply conservative (or more accurately, party line Republican, no matter where the so-called conservative position lies).
So, that leaves us with Justice Kennedy, who is a genuine swing vote. But remember he is the one that swung toward Bush and meddled with howFloridacounts its votes despite decades of empty talk about states’ rights. If he sides with the rest of the conservative justices, he will forever cement his place on the Hack Hall of Fame as one of the most deeply partisan justices we have ever had. If he helped to decide two presidential elections based on which party he likes rather than his so-called deeply held beliefs, like his oft-repeated deference to precedent, than it would be hard to find a more political and disingenuous justice.
One last thought, which is on the sad incompetence of the Democratic Party. They should be screaming “activist judges” from the rooftops. Instead they are meekly mumbling about how it’s unclear which way the court is going to go and how we shouldn’t pre-judge. I got news for you — the Republicans have been pre-judging your bill for years now. You should consider fighting back.
But the primary responsibility is the president’s. Why did you agree to the Republican idea of mandates in the first place?
Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was the original sponsor of the mandate in the Senate back in 1993. The Heritage Foundation championed the idea. Mitt Romney was applauded wildly by conservatives when he passed a mandate inMassachusetts. Did the president think they would like him more if he agreed to their idea? No, they have always opposed you at every turn, and they always will. They turned on their own idea the minute you agreed to it — and now they’re using it to kill your whole bill.
When is the president ever going to learn that agreeing with Republicans never helps him? It never helps the country. All it does is make it easier for them to beat you because you made the fatal mistake of agreeing with them.
It’s Time For Another GOP Candidate To Call It Quits December 10, 2011Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: candidate, Des Moines Register, gop, rick perry, sotomayor, supreme court
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If we’re going to set some sort of minimal moral standard for holding high office, and if this week’s resignation by FAA administrator Randy Babbit after a single DUI arrest is an indication of that standard, shouldn’t we also have some sort of minimum intelligence requirement? There’s no SAT or ACT or MCAT or LSAT that presidential candidates have to take before suggesting to the nation that they ought to be trusted with our nuclear launch codes. They don’t even have to take the civics test that’s required of immigrants before they can attain US citizenship. Barring some sort of written examination, we ought to demand that applicants for our highest office verbally demonstrate a certain minimum knowledge base of civics, history, geography, and arithmetic. It would also be good if we had confidence in their long and short-term memory.
Rick Perry fails on all counts. We can forgive anyone the occasional senior moment…Ronald Reagan’s whole presidency was a series of senior moments. But Rick Perry just isn’t smart enough or knowledgeable enough to be president. After not even being able to remember which three cabinet departments he personally wanted to eliminate, plenty of Republicans were willing to give him another chance…presumably because he’s such a charming fellow. After yesterday’s interview with the Des Moines Register, he ought to be out of second chances. First he couldn’t remember Sonya Sotomayor’s name, and then he railed against the power of the Supreme Court’s eight justices.
Everyone makes mistakes, and I’m sure my blogmate will happily contribute any number from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and even me, but when there is a persistent and glaringly obvious pattern of ignorance of basic facts and inability to recall common knowledge, then it’s time to do the honorable thing and step aside. After all, you don’t have to be all that bright to be governor of Texas. As long as you can remember the four magic words, “Proceed with the execution”, you’re golden.
Keeping Occupied October 13, 2011Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: corporate contributions, obama, Occupy movement, presidential election, Ralph Nader, ron paul, supreme court
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To my blogmate and his son. So what is the rally cry of the movement? Overthrow the System, Reelect Obama?
Cory makes a valid point, and it’s one I highlighted in my last post. For the “Occupy” movement to acheive any measurable objective goals, they’re going to have to do more than protest. They’re going to have get into politics, just like the Tea Party did. There isn’t a single candidate for president who comes anywhere close to representing the positions of the Occupy movement. Ron Paul might be closest, but that’s only by default. If Ralph Nader was running again, it’d be a better fit, and perhaps that’s something the Occupy organizers ought to think about. The problem is money…under the current circumstances, it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to be elected president. The Supreme Court saw to it that the candidate with the closest connection to corporate America was always going to have the best chance of making it to the Oval Office, and that’s perhaps the number one issue on the Occupy bullet list…and the most difficult to overcome. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where anyone but the Democratic or Republican candidate is elected president in 2012. Given those choices, there’s really no choice at all…between the devil and the deep blue sea…Ahoy, matey! I’ll take Obama.