Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ad Attacking Hillary Shows Grave Of US Ambassador Killed In Benghazi

From Talking Points Memo:

An ad attacking Hillary Clinton set to air during Tuesday night's Democratic debate employs images of the four Americans killed in the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, including prominent placement of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens’ gravestone.

The 30-second TV ad, titled “I’d Like To Ask,” was released by the Stop Hillary PAC online on Monday. Politico reported the ad is scheduled to air during the debate, but did not say how much the group is planning to spend or where it will air.

More here.

A House Republican dominated committee investigation has already cleared Hillary of any wrongdoing with Benghazi. This, in turn, meant that the Republicans had to have ANOTHER investigation because they didn't get the result they wanted with the first one.

Meanwhile, Republicans have already admitted to the nation that the entire ongoing Benghazi freakout isn't even about Benghazi, but rather about politically discrediting Hillary so the GOP would have a better shot at winning the White House next year, a waste of millions of tax dollars and a straight up abuse of governmental power. All for the sake of executing some political dirty tricks as lowdown and sleazy as those bogus Planned Parenthood videos.

Bunch of lying scum bags.

But some Republicans think they ought to sink lower still. So they've got this ad, which pushes some lies that we already know are lies, thanks to the aforementioned Republican investigation. No, Hillary did not ignore calls for help. Yes, that anti-Muslim internet video did, in fact, have something to do with the attack. And nobody tried to silence any "whistleblowers." The whole thing is a steaming shit pile of lies.

Stay classy, GOP. You totally suck.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Voodoo Never Dies


You might think that there was a defensible economic case for the obsession with cutting taxes on the rich. That is, you might think that if you’d spent the past 20 years in a cave (or a conservative think tank). Otherwise, you’d be aware that tax-cut enthusiasts have a remarkable track record: They’ve been wrong about everything, year after year.

Some readers may remember the forecasts of economic doom back in 1993, when Bill Clinton raised the top tax rate. What happened instead was a sustained boom, surpassing the Reagan years by every measure.

Undaunted, the same people predicted great things as a result of George W. Bush’s tax cuts. What happened instead was a sluggish recovery followed by a catastrophic economic crash.

More here.

We've been doing this, cutting taxes for the rich and claiming it will grow the economy, on and off, mostly on, for over thirty years. Economists have had plenty of time to study the effects, which, of course, they've done. So we've understood this for a long time now: throwing money at the rich does nothing but cause deficits and impoverish. Well, okay, it also makes the rich even richer. At everyone else's expense. It's very bad economics. There can be no doubt.

Thus, when Republicans, and often even corporate toady Democrats, of which there are many, suggest that it's good for the economy to cut taxes for the rich, they're either stupid or lying.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO: We’re in Business of Shareholder Profit, not Helping the Sick

From Ring of Fire:

Pierson’s company is not in the business of curing disease and easing suffering. It exists to make big money for its shareholders, something that Pearson readily acknowledges: “[If] products are sort of mispriced and there’s an opportunity, we will act appropriately in terms of doing what I assume our shareholders would like us to do.” In “acting appropriately,” Valeant has raised the prices on several drugs this year – in some cases, as much as 800%.

More here.

This is a pretty clear and concise explanation why capitalism and the Hippocratic Oath are hopelessly at odds.

I mean, of course, individual capitalists can run their own businesses however they want; in this sense, a doctor can earn money ethically. But the larger a business becomes, the less ability there is to do this, and the more the concerns of business begin to outweigh the ethics of practicing medicine.

Today, the entire field is dominated by such organizations. Corporate medicine. It exists to enrich the wealthy. Not to heal the sick. That's why the ACA, in the long run, isn't much more than a band-aid on a massive malignant tumor. Obamacare will collapse on itself under such conditions.

Socialized medicine is inevitable. The only question to be asked is how many people will have to die before we start doing what we have to do.


Saturday, October 10, 2015


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


Friday, October 09, 2015



Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Hillary Clinton Says She Opposes Trans-Pacific Partnership

From ABC News:

Clinton came out against the trade agreement as it looks today in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, adding “Trade agreements don’t happen in a vacuum. In order for us to have a competitive economy in the global marketplace there are things we need to do here at home that help raise wages. And Republicans have blocked everything President Obama has tried to do on that front. So for the larger issues and then what I know and then again I don’t have the text we don’t have all the details, I don’t believe it is going to meet the high bar I have set.”

More here.

I'm pretty sure Hillary would have never, EVER, taken such a position without Bernie Sanders in the race--she is, and has long been, a corporate Democrat. So, in that sense, Bernie is already wildly successful with his presidential bid in that he has definitely changed the conversation, making it much more liberal on economics than it would have been without him.

The times they are a changing. And it's cool.


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Study: White People React to Evidence of White Privilege by Claiming Greater Personal Hardships

From AlterNet:

Researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business have found that white people respond to evidence that they are privileged by their race by insisting that they face greater hardships in life.

In a study published in the November issue of Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, L. Taylor Phillips and Brian S. Lowery point out that progress on racial equality is limited by the fact that many whites deny the existence of inequities.

“Despite this reality, policy makers and power brokers continue to debate whether racial privilege even exists and whether to address such inequity,” the researchers noted. “One reason for this inaction might be an unwillingness among Whites to acknowledge racial privilege — acknowledgment that may be difficult given that Whites are motivated to believe that meritocratic systems and personal virtues determine life outcomes.”

More here.

This happens like clockwork in my discussion threads about racial injustice. It frustrates the devil out of me, but it does seem to be a fairly common psychological affliction among white people. That means I've got to deal with it. But I'm still at something of a loss about how to do so.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Noam Chomsky Quotes

They're kind of a thing on facebook.

This is the real reason everything sucks. It's not simply that unregulated capitalism creates vast economic injustices. It has also totally destroyed our culture, perversely warped what it means to be an American. We are no longer the people we think we are. We're something else. And it's not very pretty.


Monday, October 05, 2015

Alabama Demands Voter ID--Then Closes Driver's License Offices In Black Counties

From Talking Points Memo:

What happens when a state with a tough voter ID law suddenly makes it much harder for minorities to get driver's licenses? We are about to find out in Alabama.

Facing a budget crisis, Alabama has shuttered 31 driver's license offices, many of them in counties with a high proportion of black residents. Coming after the state recently put into effect a tougher voter ID law, the closures will cut off access -- particularly for minorities -- to one of the few types of IDs accepted.

According to a tally by AL.com columnist John Archibald, eight of the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters saw their driver's license offices closed.

More here.

No, voter ID laws REALLY ARE about keeping black people from voting. They REALLY ARE racist. Telling me anything else is just insulting. I mean, stop lying to my face about this. Just own it. Just be honest. You don't want black people voting. That's what this is about.


Sunday, October 04, 2015


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Twenty-six-year-old Chris Harper Mercer opened fire Thursday at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College.

He killed nine people before dying during an exchange of gunfire with officers. It wasn't clear if Mercer was killed by authorities or took his own life.

More here.

They're not shooting victims. They're Second Amendment martyrs. The price we have to pay for our "freedom." These deceased college students in Oregon have made yet another noble sacrifice for our nation so that we can all be "free," so that we can all "resist government tyranny," so that we can shoot people who have been carjacked.

All hail the Second Amendment martyrs who keep us "free"!

(Yes, my disgust with this is at an all time high today.)


Saturday, October 03, 2015


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


Friday, October 02, 2015



Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, October 01, 2015

Kevin McCarthy Admits Benghazi Was All About Doing Political Harm To Hillary Clinton

From Crooks and Liars:

Therefore, this should have come as no surprise to anyone, but because our librul media has the memory of a goat --and I may be being mean to goats-- they just carried on with all the bullshit Benghazi stories and let the likes of Joe Scarborough pick up the reins and run with the smears.

More here, with video.

So it was a fake right-wing freakout from the very beginning, which they usually are, and which discerning observers already knew. Okay, nice to hear a mea culpa on this. But...who's going to tell the rank and file, the grassroots, all the regular guy Republicans out there in flyover territory, WHO ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS LIE, that it was all a scam? Anyone? Anyone?

Does the truth even matter anymore?


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Noam Chomsky on George Orwell, the Suppression of Ideas and the Myth of American Exceptionalism

From Democracy Now:

In a Democracy Now! special, we spend the hour with Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than half a century. Chomsky has written more than 100 books, including his latest, "Because We Say So," a collection of his monthly columns. On Saturday, Chomsky spoke before a sold-out audience of nearly 1,000 people at The New School’s John L. Tishman Auditorium in New York City. In a speech titled “On Power and Ideology,” he discussed the persistence of U.S. exceptionalism, Republican efforts to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal, and the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

Click here to read, watch, or listen to the rest.

"American exceptionalism" essentially means "We're better than everybody else." Oh sure, there are definitely some mental gymnastics involved, namely the inclusion of the false notion that we actually adhere to our lip-service values of freedom and democracy, both domestically and in our foreign policy, making our "exceptionalism" disguised with good vibes and whatnot. Otherwise "American exceptionalism" is the exact same thing as old school European great power nationalism. You know, German "exceptionalism," French "exceptionalism," English "exceptionalism."

At least our forebears across the Atlantic had the decency to just be straight-up chauvinistic about themselves. I think we Americans are lacking in that kind of honesty.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Huckabee asks Frito Lay to drop pro-LGBT Rainbow Doritos partnership

From Fox News:

The controversy surrounding Rainbow Doritos, the special-edition snack released to build support for gay and lesbian youth-isn't letting up anytime soon.

After the rainbow-colored chips debuted last week-- in partnership with the pro-LBGT non-profit group It Gets Better--people have been taking to social media and the Doritos Facebook page to voice their displeasure and threaten Frito-Lay boycotts.

And now Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is adding a dissenting voice by asking Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo that produces Doritos, to end its relationship with the group and its outspoken co-founder, Dan Savage.

More here.

There's just something about teh gay that drives fundamentalists into crazed conniption fits. I'm reminded of the freakouts over Barney the dinosaur and Tinky Winky. The gays! The gays! They're EVERYWHERE. And they're recruiting our children with corn chips and lovable television characters.

Oy vey.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Scientists find flowing salt water on Mars, say it's a good place to look for life

From the Houston Chronicle:

Scientists say the water likely exists intermittently as thin layers of wet soil. It is very salty, far more so than oceans on Earth. This brine can therefore exist as a liquid on the surface during the warmer spring and summer months, when temperatures rise to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the search for life, evidence of flowing water is a game-changer. It strongly indicates that there are large glaciers and possibly flowing water just beneath the surface of Mars.

More here.

This is a game changer. We really ought to stop giving money to the rich and start giving more to NASA. Because finding life on other planets is far, far, far more important than pleasing our wealthy betters, who generally don't do much more with our lavish handouts to them than buy yachts. This is real. We, all of us, should be more real.


Sunday, September 27, 2015


From KPRC:

When the assailants attempted to take his truck, a witness parked at the gas pump started shooting at the men, according to authorities.

Police said he accidentally shot the victim in the head.

More here.

An armed society is NOT a polite society. I mean, that's just stupid, and it's amazing that anybody at all takes such a notion seriously. Of course, we've got a lot of stupid people out there, so I shouldn't be surprised. And a lot of those stupid people own guns.

No, not a polite society. Instead, an armed society is a downright dangerous society. Life isn't like television.


Saturday, September 26, 2015


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


Friday, September 25, 2015


Frankie and Sammy

Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, September 24, 2015


Yeah. I'm getting pretty sick of the bogus picking and choosing. I mean, by all means, pick and choose, and then we can have an honest discussion, but don't insult me by telling me you don't. It makes me take you far less seriously as a principled religious person.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The GOP’s bullsh*t campaign: Why they’re drowning the country in an ocean of lies

From Salon:

For those of you who can’t see embedded tweets and aren’t familiar with the BAP already, it goes like this: “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of a magnitude bigger than to produce it.” And if you’ve ever been on the Internet before — or had a conversation with a 9/11 Truther — it’s likely that you don’t need me to explain the BAP to you, because its truth is utterly (and painfully) self-evident.

But if you want a more specific example, look no further than the grotesque and meaningless postmodern spectacle broadcast by CNN and the Republican Party earlier this week. Because with three hours and 11 candidates at its disposal, the former “most trusted name in news” unleashed a Pacific Ocean-size amount of bullshit. It was so voluminous, in fact, that even those in the media who wanted to refute it couldn’t.

More here.

Personally, having come to realize that it takes more effort to refute bullshit convincingly than to sling bullshit, I've taken just to saying "that's bullshit, total bullshit" when confronted with the equivalent of Rambo riding a fanged unicorn that I get from conservatives so often these days. I mean, it's probably not going to persuade the bullshitter, but it lets him know that it's not so easy to do the Goebbels big lie thing in America, and it lets anyone listening in know that things aren't so open and shut.

So yes, in political debate these days, it is perfectly acceptable to call bullshit often and loudly. Conservatives have brought us to this place. So that's what you've gotta do.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fantasies and Fictions at G.O.P. Debate


I’ve been going over what was said at Wednesday’s Republican debate, and I’m terrified. You should be, too. After all, given the vagaries of elections, there’s a pretty good chance that one of these people will end up in the White House.

Why is that scary? I would argue that all of the G.O.P. candidates are calling for policies that would be deeply destructive at home, abroad, or both. But even if you like the broad thrust of modern Republican policies, it should worry you that the men and woman on that stage are clearly living in a world of fantasies and fictions. And some seem willing to advance their ambitions with outright lies.

More here

Flash back to the 80s and 90s.

The Republicans had learned to use a new phrase with devastating effect: "the liberal media." They were, and still are to an extent, absolutely relentless with it. They complained and whined about "the liberal media" always. They shouted it, screamed it, even while Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman had pretty convincingly illustrated in their seminal work, "Manufacturing Consent," that the news media were NOT liberal, and, in fact, by and large, exist to play a subservient role toward centers of national power, regardless of party or ideology. But that didn't matter. Conservatives didn't care about the reality. They pushed it so intensely that it finally got into the media's heads.

Ultimately, as Krugman observes in this column, newspapers were running headlines that might as well have been along the lines of "Shape of the Earth: Views Differ." The media caved, and decided to favor a false sense of "balance" over accuracy. This opened things up widely for conservatives.

Flash forward to today. The right wing can now essentially say ANYTHING IT WANTS, no matter how wrong, unsupported, absurd, or dangerous, without any resistance from "the liberal media." Ever wonder how so many Americans are confused about the settled science of global warming and climate change? Ever wonder why "creationism" or "intelligent design" have managed to develop such a massive following, even making their way into the schools as "education"? Wonder why we invaded Iraq in order to find weapons of mass destruction when there were no weapons of mass destruction to find, which was KNOWN at the time? And on and on.

It's because conservatives worked their asses off a couple of decades ago to create the circumstances that would allow them to lie constantly, for their own political benefit. Only now, in its critical mass of malicious disinformation, is the nation starting to see how truly f'd up the situation has become. How can there be a useful public discourse, the "marketplace of ideas" so greatly valued by our founding fathers, when lies and bullshit are given the same value as the truth?

I don't know if we'll ever be able to dig ourselves out of this one. Things could actually get worse.


Monday, September 21, 2015


A brief exchange with a young friend of mine who has asked me for advice for the paper she's writing on social justice and human rights:

Ilse How would you tie in public goods to human rights and social justice?

Ron How are you using the term "public goods"?

Ilse Free market

Ron I would argue that capitalism, and its accompanying profit motive, are so widespread, so utterly dominant, in politics, in the culture, in the mass media, and on and on, that profit and money become a value unto themselves.  Indeed, for many, the SUPREME value.  Money, having it, and making even more, this is all a moral position.

Needless to say, such "morality" is in hopeless conflict with actual morality, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Did you know that the African slave trade, as an economic institution, started because English investors knew they could make a mint with sugar plantations in the Caribbean, but no self-respecting Englishman would work under such conditions?  Thus, slavery, completely born of the profit motive.  Racism, of the white supremacist variety, came only a bit later, in order to justify the obvious immorality at work with slavery. 

So it wasn't racism that started slavery.  It was money.  And the racism was just the rhetorical excuse.  The Bible really is right when it says that "the love of money is the root of all evil."  And we have crafted a society where loving money is the greatest moral principle of all. 

It's pretty disgusting.  And not many Americans appear to understand.


Sunday, September 20, 2015


An old buddy of mine was taking some shit on facebook from another old buddy of mine because the former compared Trump to Hitler.  Of course, I had to weigh in:

Personally, I think the exacting "has to have killed six million Jews" test for Hitler comparisons is just straight up unreasonable.

Hitler did LOTS of bad shit besides the Holocaust. Concentration camps, for instance, something very much like interning illegal immigrants today. Or making various non-Aryan ethnicities, like Jews and Gypsies, register with the government. Or torture. Or aggressive war. Or extreme nationalism. Stuff that is offered as serious policy in the twenty first century by Republicans.

And all these things we also identify with Hitler. But it's considered out-of-bounds by many to make the comparison unless the subject being compared killed six million Jews. I call bullshit on that.

The whole point to making the Hitler comparison is to show where the lesser transgressions necessarily lead. And extreme nationalism, singling out various minorities as the enemy, torturing, invading other nations without just cause, all these things lead ultimately to devaluing human life. And that's the fertile ground you need to plant a new holocaust.

Yeah, it's an overused comparison, especially by Republicans who live in WWII in their minds. But it's a good comparison. I'm afraid of these people. They are bad for the nation, for our national soul. And the "reasonable Republicans" are in bed with the Nazi Republicans: they refuse to call them out for their hate and evil.

For that matter, the Republicans aren't too terribly good on making right the horrible sins of our own American Holocausts, against American Indians, and against African Americans. I mean, the Democrats aren't great on this, but at least they acknowledge it as a great national sin. Republicans just get pissed off when you mention it.

Hitler is totally appropriate.
'Nuff said.  Well, okay, one more thing.  Godwin's Law is not always applicable.


Saturday, September 19, 2015


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


Friday, September 18, 2015



Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

9/11 responders bill defeated by Senate GOP filibuster

From CNN:

Senate Democrats failed Thursday to win a procedural vote to open debate on a bill that would provide medical benefits and compensation for emergency workers who were first on the scene of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The motion for cloture, or to begin debate, needed 60 votes to pass due to a Republican filibuster, but fell short at 57-42 in favor.

More here.

You know, I just don't take these people seriously anymore with their "patriotism" shit.  This happened five years ago, but it might as well have happened yesterday.  We need to be constantly reminded of the GOP's true stance on love-of-country because they keep rubbing our noses in this perversity--as if inviting a foreign head of state to address Congress in order to publicly trash the President's diplomacy was a patriotic act.

I mean, you, the individual, may very well love your nation a great deal.  But your party doesn't, and hasn't for a really long time.  Any asshole can drape himself in the flag and hit people over the head with a rolled up copy of the Constitution.  But that makes you an asshole, not a patriot.  To be a patriot, you've got to put your money where your mouth is.  You've got to really support the troops--simply sending them to die isn't good enough.  Same thing with first responders.  This is some sick, sick shit.

Henceforth, Republicans no longer have any business telling us all who's a patriot and who's not.  It seems to me you've got to be a patriot in the first place to have any perspective on that at all, and Republicans are not patriots.  They lie when they say they love this country.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015


From Salon:

This is what a political earthquake feels like: Why 
Bernie Sanders’s speech at Liberty University matters

I believe in a woman’s right to control her own body. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage. Those are my views, and it is no secret. But I came here today, because I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse.

Click here for more.

I posted this essay on facebook last night and almost immediately got a comment from a conservative Christian friend making a decades old right-wing argument: Jesus wasn't talking about the government; he was talking about churches.

Here's my response:

"That's the job of the body of Christ, not the government."

We live in a democracy, where the government and the people are the same thing. Consequently, the body of Christ is also part of the government. This strange schism between government and the people that I've heard pushed so often by conservative Christians makes no sense to me.

Certainly, it's not Scriptural. As far as I've ever been able to tell, the Bible doesn't talk about democracy at all. All the references to government are about despots, kings, and emperors. Rome, which dominated during the New Testament era was certainly no democracy, just as the various kings, judges, and oppressive enemy states that ruled the Israelites during the Old Testament were not democrats.

For that matter, the kind of personal charity you describe, while noble, is woefully inadequate when compared to government resources--remember that in America, government is of, by, and for the people, which includes the body of Christ. And, while both charity and welfare are helpful, and alleviate suffering, neither does anything to alter the social circumstances guaranteeing that people will be poor. Only the government can do such a thing.

So I hear your argument, and know it well because I've heard it so many times. But it still doesn't really come together for me for the reasons I've stated above. It seems to me that if one really is serious about helping the poor, one wouldn't tie his hands behind his back for reasons that are not entirely clear.


Monday, September 14, 2015


You and your conservative ilk refuse to take responsibility for anything at all, ever. Conservatives are today the most irresponsible political force we've ever seen in this country. From government shutdowns, to bringing the nation into illegal and immoral wars, to increasing the abortion rate by reducing access to birth control and sex education, to encouraging the policies that brought down Wall Street, to refusing to admit widespread racism exists, and on and on and on.

Conservatives are TOTALLY IRRESPONSIBLE, and cannot be trusted to run the country. A bunch of selfish, drug addled teenagers driving the car into a ditch.


Sunday, September 13, 2015


The phrase "illegal immigration" now serves essentially the same purpose that the phrase "Cadillac driving welfare queens" has served for many years. That is, it's now right-wing coded speech, allowing conservative whites to revel in racism while claiming with straight faces that they're concerned about a "real issue."

But it's getting pretty old and lame.