Friday, March 27, 2015

Another fun-filled week of Republican lunacy

During a discussion on gun legislation, Arizona State Sen. Sylvia Allen (R) expressed her support for mandatory church attendance nationwide. “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth,” Allen said at a recent Senate subcommittee meeting.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R), chairman of the House Rules Committee, said he did the math and that the federal government will be paying $5 million dollars per Obamacare beneficiary in the 2016 fiscal year. After others did the math correctly, the actual cost is closer to $4,130 per person.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) filed a budget amendment intended to keep American dollars printed as paper currency – instead of minting fancy, European-style coins. The Louisiana Republican objected to a proposal by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY), who wants to facilitate the move toward dollar coins as a potential budget-cutting measure.

Indiana Governor Mark Pence signed the disingenuously named “Religious Freedom Bill” into law that allows businesses the right to refuse serving gays and lesbians on religious grounds. Former Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei is leading a boycott of the state, urging people not to attend events taking place in Indiana.

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs) commented about the recent attack on a pregnant woman where her unborn child was removed from her womb. "This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb," Klingenschmitt said, attributing the attack in Longmont to legal policy on unborn children. "Part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open."

Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said this week, “The global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-earthers.” He also said that he used to listen to rock music, but switched to country after 9/11. Oh, and he also signed up for Obamacare.

In an interview during this year’s state of the union address, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson called President Obama a psychopath.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Politics in 2015: Ignorance is an asset

The first two “official” Republican candidates for the presidency, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz, are fumbling their way from one gaffe to the next, and left-wing commentators and publications are having a field day. From the shirt-rending hypocrisy of Ted Cruz signing up for Obamacare after spending 24/7, 365 days a year trying to destroy it to Ben Carson’s bloodthirsty homophobic rants, columns of eye-rolling, head shaking revelations are being posted at Salon, The Huffington Post, Raw Story and many other zines.

The one point that is overlooked in all of the verbiage is that in today’s Republican Party, ignorance is an asset. The religious right and Tea Party members are deeply distrustful of people outside their ideological circle, which is the majority of Americans, seeing them as snarky know-it-alls who look down their noses at America’s true patriots and their bedrock values. As difficult as it is, we have to come to grips with the fact that one of the two major political parties in America values superstitious beliefs and unquestioning adherence to a faith-based ideology over reason and objective reality, and that this group is putty in the hands of today’s ruling elites.

Politics in America today is not about competing solutions to our major problems, it is about competing views of reality. Our political leaders can’t even agree on what’s real and what isn’t real. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, we have people in positions of power who believe the earth is 6000 years old, that humans and dinosaurs lived together; that global warming is a hoax; that homosexuals should be put to death; and yes, that dark-skinned people are inferior.

Many of us shake our heads in astonishment when Ben Carson reveals he knows absolutely nothing about modern-day Israel, a country he loudly supports with every fiber of his being, but that attitude only strengthens him in the eyes of his supporters. Ignorance is strength. War is peace. Up is down.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Should the Republican Party be classified as a terrorist organization?

How could anyone propose such a horrendous idea? Well, it’s actually quite easy. Today’s Republican Party is doing more to destroy those ideas and principals that made America a great country than all the actual terrorist organizations combined. I present my case:

They want to destroy our form of government – The conservative propaganda is relentless: government is bad, government is bad, government is bad. We get it. You hate our government. So does ISIS. Ignoring everything good that government has done, the ongoing attacks on our leadership and active efforts to weaken the executive branch have zombefied many Americans who repeat the chant without giving it a second thought. By overtly working daily to destroy our form of government, conservatives in Congress and their Right Wing megaphone are accomplishing what al Qaeda and ISIS and the Taliban could never dream of achieving. Their conscious and unconscious ineptness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

They want to destroy our educational system – A strong system of public education during the forties, fifties and sixties truly made America the envy of the world. Young people from all economic strata and ethnic backgrounds could (theoretically) get the same education as sons and daughters of the elite. Republicans reject the idea that Americans should have a strong, healthy public education system, and have spent decades criticizing, defunding and demonizing the public education sector. As with everything else having government ties, they want to completely privatize education, allowing schools across the country to teach whatever they feel like, filling the minds of young people with whatever religious beliefs or political propaganda the local community desires.

They are at war with science – In recent years there has been a relentless attack from Tea Party Republicans on science and scientific findings that clash with their religious beliefs or campaign funding sources. Like their Middle East brethren, many conservatives refuse to accept established science and continue propagating myths and superstitious mumbo jumbo. How can America possibly compete on the world stage if our children are being taught religious theory instead of scientific facts? There is a subset of Republicans who attack science to protect their funding sources. Climate change deniers often fall into this camp, doing the oil and energy industries bidding at the expense of the world’s future health. In both cases, the result is an assault on science that is dooming not only the United States, but the world at large.

They are intent on crippling our economy – Conservatives slavish devotion to illogical and demonstrably wrong economic theories like austerity, free markets, supply side economics and deregulation have resulted in an economy that is as unequal as it’s been in over 100 years. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, conservatives continue to believe, and act on the belief, that tax breaks for the already wealthy will stimulate the economy. Ignoring the fact that this has been tried over and over with the same dismal results, it remains an article of faith among Republicans. The Republican Party is the party of the elites, and whatever they can do to please their financial supporters, that is the course they will follow with no regard for anyone else. The middle class is being destroyed as a result of their misguided economic policies. The great irony is that American voters have been convinced to vote against their best economic interests by double-talking conservatives who play on their emotions and religious beliefs.

They want to turn American into a theocracy – Conservatives have been more than willing to rewrite history to try and support a major tenet of theirs; that the United States is a Christian nation. Ignoring accepted history surrounding the founding of our country, the right wing continues to promote the idea that the founding fathers were fundamentalist Christians who built this nation on biblical principals. They want to rewrite and revise our fundamental documents to align with the Bible, and rule the country using a Biblical foundation. Like their Middle Eastern counterparts, they want their particular religious views woven into the entire fabric of our country, from schools to the workplace to the halls of power in Washington, D.C.

From shutting down the government to conducting illegal foreign policy to flagrant attacks on the very institutions that once made America a true world power, I think the evidence is irrefutable that the Republican Party is intent on destroying the current version of American and replacing it with a theocracy. What would you call that?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ted Cruz is running for President. Now that’s entertainment.

Ted Cruz announced he is running for President today. One of the sleaziest, most obnoxious, low-functioning members of Congress has chosen to waste everyone’s time by jetting around the country for the next year-and-a-half putting his ignorance on display like a freak show exhibit and making children cry.

Cruz isn’t considered a front-runner for the Republican nomination, but on planet Tea Party, this has nothing to do with his medieval belief system, but everything to do with whom the Koch’s are going to choose to rain their money down on. Apparently, Cruz isn’t at the top of that list.

Don’t think for a minute that Cruz couldn’t become the Republican nominee. As the campaign heats up and other presidential hopefuls throw their tri-corner hats in the ring, we will be treated to an inter-party battle where combatants heatedly exchange lies in a ring of ignorance. Cruz should do very well at this stage, but the money men are looking for a Republican who can go from throwing red meat to the Tea Party crowd in the primary to someone who can resemble a sane person in the general election. This could be Cruz’s Achilles heel.

And then there’s that face. Those droopy eyebrows, that painful-looking smile, that creepy squint, Cruz is the store manager you never want to be caught alone with in the back room, regardless of your sex.

All of that being said, the Republican primary should be chock full of entertainment as candidates sever ties to their brains and work to impress Tea Party members with their ignorance, heartlessness, and bigotry. Should be fun.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A frightening new duo of short scary stories

I've uploaded two new short scary stories for your ghoulish pleasure at They're Only Shadows.

In "The Accident," a man panics and flees the scene of a car accident only to learn that the damage he caused is far worse than he imagined.

A peeping Tom spies on a young woman next door in "Voyeur, but the object of his attraction is not what she seems to be.

The Poisonous Influence of the Tea Party in American Politics

I used to be counted among the camp of lefties who believed that there was fundamentally very little difference between Democrats and Republicans. Members of both parties pander to lobbyists, allow the rich and connected more influence than the average citizen and are desperately afraid of upsetting the status quo in Washington. While I still believe that’s true in many cases, the growth and influence of the Tea Party among Republicans has pulled its members farther to the right than ever before into a dangerous fantasy land that bears little resemblance to the democracy in which we claim to live.

An incredibly disturbing example of this appears in today’s news. Ever searching for ways to enhance his Tea Party creds, Florida Governor Rick Scott recently issued an unwritten ban on state employees from using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming.” As pernicious as this is, he followed up his warning with action when an employee of Florida’s environmental protection department used the terms in official notes from a forum he attended.

Okay, you might think, the guy probably got a warning or a nasty email, but no, it went far beyond that into the realm of 1984 totalitarian thought control. The employee was forced to take a leave of absence and told he could return to work only after a mental health evaluation from his doctor that verified his “fitness for duty.”

A mental health evaluation?

This, friends, is the kind of pre-enlightenment, fact-denying, authoritarian direction the Republican Party has taken of late. It almost seems as if there is a below-the-radar weekly contest among conservatives to see who can spew the most ignorant, hate filled comment. Rick Scott, you are without question this week’s winner. But let this be a serious warning to voters, in 2015 there is a stark difference between where Democrats and Republicans want to take this country. If you prefer a democracy to a theocracy, freedom of speech to thought control, reality to fantasy, you cannot in good conscience vote Republican.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Signs of our times

I live in Minneapolis and often drive up and down Highway 169, a major north/south artery just to the west of downtown. I don’t know how old the road is, but over the decades, numerous small to medium sized businesses grew up along 169, and its entire length is lined with buildings of various sizes intended for white color companies. On one of my last drives to the north end of the highway and back, I became aware of something that on prior trips had gone unnoticed. I was passing dozens and dozens of “For Lease” signs. I was taken aback by the number of signs on both sides of the road indicating that building space was empty and in need of tenants.

Over the past few months, we’ve had numerous reports from the mainstream media on the improving economy, often accompanied by photos of a smiling Obama. Unemployment is dropping, Wall Street is booming, and the economy is rebounding! The “For Lease” signs along 169 tell a different story, and many progressive writes are pointing out that while things appear to be getting better, it’s more wishful thinking than a reality for many Americans.

The economy is certainly booming for the one percent of people at the top of the ladder, those whose biggest worry is how to avoid paying taxes on the billions they make. For the rest of us, not so much. There is a revealing article from Alternet today that blows past the smoke and mirrors to reveal the dark side of our current economy. Here is just one statistic from the article:

The average U.S. household pays $400 to feed and clothe employees of Walmart, McDonalds, and other low-wage workers.

There are other dismal but important statistics cited in the article clearly showing that the American economy is not improving for the bottom 90 percent. Our government, and the media, are failing and fooling the majority of this nation’s citizens.

Monday, March 16, 2015

If you voted for or supported these people, you should feel really bad…

Ted Cruz – Wants to eliminate all restrictions on campaign contributions. Gave a speech were he painted such a bleak picture of America he made a little girl cry.

Tom Cotton – Stands by his letter to Iranian officials despite world-wide condemnation. Doesn’t know Tehran is the capital of Iran. Makes America wonder what it actually takes to get a degree from Harvard.

John Boehner – Wants to launch yet another time-wasting, money-wasting investigation of a Clinton, this time it’s about Hillary’s emails. Wonders why everyone hates the U.S. Congress.

Scott Walker – Thinks eliminating the federal income tax “sounds like a pretty appealing idea.”

Mitch McConnell – Is holding attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch hostage as he tries to force Democrats to vote on a human trafficking bill into which Republicans snuck an anti-abortion provision.

John McCain – When questioned about why he signed Tom Cotton’s much-reviled letter to Iran, he responded, “I sign lots of letters. It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm.” That’s our deliberative, reflective political process at work, fellow Americans.

Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum – All three spoke at an event called “The Awakening” last weekend hosted by Liberty Counsel. Attended by the country’s most conservative religious right leaders, speakers included Mat Staver, who supports criminalizing homosexuality; Kamal Saleem, who claims President Obama attends a Mosque in D.C. and that Islamists are working through Sasha and Malia Obama’s babysitters to establish a shadow government; and Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, who believes the White House is infiltrated by Muslims and America’s pastors must be prepared to get their heads chopped off in the fight against gay rights.

Lindsey Graham – From the early 1980s to 2000, Graham’s longtime political advisor, pollster and consultant Richard Quinn was editor-in-chief of The Southern Partisan, formally one of the country’s leading neo-Confederate magazines.