Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Morning Madness in America

I should learn to abstain from browsing political news on Monday mornings. Getting myself out of bed, showered, dressed and to work on time is challenge enough, I don’t need a further assault on my senses by reading articles about our frighteningly ignorant, dangerously delusional leaders. I need to ease into it, prepare myself mentally for the tsunami of absurdity that passes for politics in America today. Why make Monday’s tougher than they already are?

Today, however, it’s too late. I dove headfirst into Raw Story, The Huffington Post, Truthout, and Salon and found myself treading water in a cesspool of profound lunacy, hypocrisy, misogyny, bigotry, and…I could keep going, but I’ll stop there. From the Governor of Indiana trying lamely to rationalize the inherent bigotry of his “Religious Freedom” law to the droopy faced Ted Cruz wishing the White House could be moved to Texas where people like him to “The Dumbest Person in Congress” Louie Gohmert’s assertion that negotiations with Iran have already failed and we should just fly there and bomb their nuclear facilities.

The gravity of their stupidity has me reeling. The level of government to which they have ascended has me terrified. Whatever name you want to give our election system, it has failed us and allowed dangerously inept people into the halls of power, and the media is forced to take them seriously. How bad is it? The FOX News host who was interviewing Gohmert was visibly stunned and disturbed by his loony plan to bomb Iran. When, as a Republican, you can say something so inane it makes a FOX News host shudder, you have literally crossed the line into a clinically recognized mental disorder.

You can’t unthink this stuff. The Republicans running for President are crazy, and one of them could end up in the Oval Office. America has been given the opportunity to elect a person who would make George Bush look like FDR. It’s Monday morning and I’ve already had my week’s fill of stupidity. Thanks, me.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

At an Indianapolis restaurant

This sign was recently posted in the window of an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Indianapolis.

Dear Patrons,

Our deeply held Christian beliefs prohibit us from serving the following people:

African Americans
Muslims (especially you)
Midgets, Dwarves or Gnomes
Anyone who has ever voted for a Clinton
Anyone with the last name Obama
Anyone with an IQ over 100
Welfare recipients
The homeless
Latin Americans
Indians (both kinds)
Anyone working in the liberal media (you know who you are)
The physically deformed
Anyone who regularly watches PBS
Anyone who is friends with my alcoholic Uncle Chester
Tom Hunter, who beat me up in fourth grade
Janice Paulson, who dumped me for Calvin Weathers in ninth grade
Anyone whose last name ends with an “I”
Anyone wearing saggy pants
Circus workers
Anyone with a 666 license plate
Anyone with tattoos (Christian related tattoos exempt)

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 America 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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Health alert: OH (Obama Hatred) reaching dangerous levels in U.S.

The media has remained strangely quiet about the spread of a debilitating disease afflicting millions of Americans. Symptoms include loss of logic, bouts of uncontrollable anger, delusions and occasionally the complete shutdown of all mental processes. The disease is Obama Hatred (OH), and it targets politically conservative Americans across the nation.

The origin of the disease can be traced back to the 2008 Presidential election results and the moment when Barack Obama was declared the victor. Millions of low functioning Americans were instantly afflicted with OH, and most remain infected to this day.

From shutting down the U.S. government to unceasing attacks on Obamacare to Benghazi, sufferers of OH display symptoms of unbridled hostility and disrespect toward President Obama. Unable to control their actions or subdue their racism, those afflicted with OH work tirelessly to undercut, punish and embarrass the President of the United States.

An extremely virulent strain affects Arizona Republicans, who just recently passed a bill in the state legislature that would prohibit the state from enforcing or cooperating with Obama’s executive orders unless they were affirmed by the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress. It’s as close to a state seceding from the Union as it gets.

The Republican members of Congress to whom the Arizona Republicans refer to are no less afflicted with OH. They recently invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the President, and within the past few days sent a letter to Iran’s leadership telling them not make any nuclear proliferation deals with Obama because…it’s Obama.

The sad news is that there is no known cure for OH. Carriers are immune to logic, common sense and bipartisanship. The advice of health officials to the uninfected is to avoid watching FOX News, never vote for Republicans and always base your opinions on facts rather then ideology.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Republican senators openly try to sabotage Iran nuclear talks

It’s a sad, sad day in this country when Iran lectures our government, and they’re right. Yesterday, 47 of the 54 GOP senator’s sent a letter to the "leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran" warning them not to make any deal with Obama -- because it could be overturned once he leaves office. This was done while the Administration is involved in very delicate negotiations with Iran on nuclear weapons.

Lead by war monger Sen. Tom Cotton (R. Ark), the traitorous Republican buffoons who tried to do an end run around the President are being roundly and justly castigated for their outrageous behavior, even by members of their own party. This deliberate attempt to sabotage American foreign policy and President Obama is being called traitorous by some and is pretty clearly a violation of the Logan Act, which reads:

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

The Administration has signaled it won’t pursue this, which is a shame, but on some levels understandable. On top of everything else, the author’s of the patronizing letter flubbed a point about our own Constitution, and was then lectured by the Iranian negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif in his response.

"The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations. A change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor.”

The embarrassing action of Cotton and his co-conspirators demonstrates once again that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party cares far less for this country than it does its own demented and dangerous ideological agenda.

New poll says FOX News is the most trusted news coverage in America

As if we needed any further evidence that the end times for America are nigh, results of a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that FOX News provides the most trusted news coverage among cable and broadcast news programs.

If you’re like me, you just spit coffee all over your laptop. Only slightly reassuring is the fact that the results run along partisan lines, with 58% of Republicans and 25% of Independents voting for FOX, while Democrats heavily favored CNN and only 3% voted for FOX News.

Still, this is messed up. How are there so many people willing to admit they trust FOX News? FOX News isn’t even news! It’s the right-wing propaganda channel. Its viewers are consistently at rock bottom on the scale of best-informed audiences for news shows. There are libraries filled with the lies, half-truths and distortions that FOX News barfs out on a daily basis. Why in the name of all that is holy would anyone rely on FOX for their news?

Maybe this is an Onion piece that slipped through the cracks. I don’t know anyone who would watch FOX News for anything other than a good laugh. John Stewart just finished up a 14-year career exposing the lies of FOX News night after night after night.

Excuse me while I curl up into a tight ball and cry myself to sleep.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The greatest threat to democracy isn’t what you think it is

The greatest threat to American democracy isn’t ISIS or Russia or even Canada (we’ve got our eye on you) but the latest iteration of the Republican Party. What may have been a grand old party in Lincoln’s days has turned into a rats nest of intolerant, anti-intellectual nationalists with a very undemocratic agenda of handing the reins of this country’s governance over to a handful of fascist billionaires.

Today’s Republican party has been put in a half nelson by rabid Tea Partiers who can’t tolerate the egalitarian nature of true democracy and who seem to prefer a feudal system. This goal just happens to align nicely with the desires of conservative “privatize everything” billionaires who, thanks to the Supreme Court, lavish money on sympathetic candidates and organizations.

Unable to win elections legitimately, Republicans at all levels of government are doing everything in their power to game elections in their favor, from gerrymandering to voter ID laws to election day shenanigans like sending democratic voters inaccurate information about poling places and times. They have to cheat to win, and they are more than willing to turn to the sinister arts of deception to get what they want.

And you can’t reason with these people. They don’t accept the existence of objective reality and have created their own imaginary world based in Ayn Randion greed, selective Christian beliefs and a pathological hatred of government. They are not interested in compromise and would rather die a martyr’s death than give an inch to the non-believers (sound familiar?). Their intransigence in Congress, coupled with their hatred of Obama, has nearly brought our government to a standstill. The popularity of Congress among Americans is at the lowest point it’s ever been.

What can we do when one of the two major political parties in America is a threat to our democratic principals? If America was working like it should, we would be able to demonstrate our desires through the ballot box, but, of course, America is not working the way it should, and the will of the majority is being usurped by the one percent and their truckloads of money. Unfortunately, Americans are too complacent and ill-informed to get up out of their La-Z-Boys and demand change. Until they are willing to stand up and be counted, Republicans will continue chipping away at our democracy until one day — surprise! Welcome to Oceania, Citizen 44659.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Conservative lunacy was on a roll this week (I can’t help myself)

“The grey wolf in fact is a predator that’s killing the cloven hoof animals,” Rep. Don Young (R-AK) told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Thursday. “And we’ve got 79 congressmen sending you a letter, haven’t got a damn wolf in their whole district. I’d like to introduce them to your district. I introduce them in your district, you wouldn’t have a homeless problem any more.”

Snowball lobbing Senator Jim Inhofe, one of Senate’s most vocal critics of man-made climate change, explains why in his book, The Greatest Hoax. "I take my religion seriously," Inhofe writes. "[T]his is what a lot of alarmists forget: God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas, said on his local radio show, "It's not a huge jump" to believe President Obama intends to suspend the laws of the country in order to make sure African Americans cannot be prosecuted.

At a news conference on Monday, New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton blamed a slight uptick in violence in the city (45 homicides at this point last year, versus 54 this year) on marijuana. “The seemingly innocent drug that’s been legalized around the country. In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with [in the] 80s and 90s with heroin and cocaine . . . In some instances, it’s a causal factor. But it’s an influence in almost everything that we do here.”

Tea Party radio host Andrea Shea King said in a clip of her radio show on Monday that Democratic lawmakers, especially members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who don’t attend Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday should be put to death. “Obama doesn’t have to run for reelection again, a lot of these guys do. Listen, I would like to think that these guys could pay with their lives, hanging from a noose in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.”

Scores of U.S. lawmakers are converging on tiny Selma, Alabama, for a large commemoration of a civil rights anniversary. But their ranks don’t include a single member of House Republican leadership. None of the top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise — will be in Selma for the three-day event that commemorates the 1965 march and the violence that protesters faced at the hands of white police officers.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Can we handle the truth about our violent country?

As Americans, we love to characterize ourselves as a peace-loving nation that only commits acts of violence in self-defense or to aid our allies. Like so many of our bedtime stories about our country, it is a myth that sounds great in a political stump speech but isn’t borne out by the facts. Here are a few of those nasty, inconvenient facts:

We are a country born of violent revolution, and America has been at war 222 years out of 239 years since 1776.

The 2013 Global Peace Index by Vision of Humanity ranks the United States 100 out of 162 countries, behind countries like Sierra Leone, Mongolia, Brazil, Morocco, and Nicaragua. The organization defines peace as: "Harmony achieved by the absence of war, conflict or violence or fear of the aforementioned."

When the battleship U.S.S. Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor in 1898, this was the last push needed to force America into a war with Spain. The explosion and loss of life was blamed on Spanish forces, even though it was actually the result of a smoldering coal bunker fire that melted through a bulkhead into an ammunition locker.

A plan to attack American cities to justify war with Cuba was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962. Rejected by President Kennedy, Operation Northwoods remained classified for 35 years.

In 1964, President Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident, where it was claimed a U.S. ship was attacked by North Vietnam, to greatly escalate our military presence in South Vietnam. Later declassified documents revealed there was no attack on the ship by the North Vietnamese.

America invaded Iraq in 2003 based on claims that the country presided over by Saddam Hussien had concealed weapons of mass destruction, an active nuclear weapons program and was a supporter of al Qaeda, none of which proved to be true.

The A.C. Nielsen Company estimates that the average child will see 8,000 murders on television by the time he or she completes elementary school, and a given child will view over 200,000 acts of violence by the age of 18.

America has a homicide rate of 4.7 murders per 100,000 people, which is one of the highest of all developed countries.

The United States is by far the world's biggest arms exporter.

The U.S. has recently supplied firearms, armored vehicles, and items from a category that includes chemical and riot control agents like tear gas to nations with records of suppressing democratic dissent such as Algeria, Egypt, and Peru.

In 2013, the United States sent Israel at least $196 million in parts for military airplanes and helicopters, a category that includes F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, both of which Israel is currently using to attack Gazan homes, offices and farmland. Total military aid sent by the U.S. to Israel stands at $3 billion annually.

America has secretly supported brutal dictatorships around the globe since the end of World War II, from Chili’s Augusto Pinochet to Libya’s Gaddafi to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.

Since the War on Terror began, 41 men have been targeted for drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. These strikes caused 1,147 deaths, and some of the targets are still believed to be alive. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that drones have killed 3,674 people outside of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Republican candidates in a race to the bottom of the intellectual barrel

There are days, actually a lot of days, when I feel as though I’m living in a nightmare of collective insanity. Everywhere I turn in this dark theatre, there is someone on stage saying things that are incomprehensibly stupid, but the audience applauds as if he or she is the president of MENSA. In my nightmare, ignorance is rewarded and knowledge debased.

I feel that way after reading a quote from Republican presidential contender Ben Carson. In a CNN interview, he said that homosexuality was absolutely a choice. How does he know this?

"A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question," he said.

This may sound like something one of the Duck Dynasty hillbillies might say, but Ben Carson isn’t some backwoods hick with a microphone, he’s a freaking neurosurgeon!  A brain surgeon! Here is a highly educated man, a serious contender for the most important job in America espousing views that make Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne sound like Harvard professors.

Of course, he’s only doing what he has to do to win the approval of the intellectually stunted, rage-filled Tea Baggers who have taken control of his party. That fact alone tells you a tremendous amount about the quality of political discourse in America in the twenty-first century. One of our two major political parties has forsaken reality for a fantasyland built on a foundation of wishful thinking, anger, superstition and bigotry. It’s their dream world, but to everyone else it’s a living nightmare.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Cleveland blames 12-year old boy for his own death at the hands of cops

It sounds like a sick Onion article, but the City of Cleveland is claiming that the death of 12-year old Tamir Rice at the hands of police officers was his own fault. Tamir was playing with a replica gun at a park when police pulled up and, within seconds, shot the boy to death. Here is the argument made by the city:

“Plaintiffs’ decedent’s injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the failure of Plaintiffs’ decedent to exercise due care to avoid injury.”

In other words, Tamir died because he didn’t have superhuman powers to get out of the way of bullets fired in his direction. On top of that, the city says that the suffering of Rice’s family is also his fault in a cynical attempt to derail a lawsuit filed by the family.

Before they knew the incident was videotaped, the officers clamed there was a group of boys in the park and Tamir was waving the gun around threatening to shoot someone. The video, however, reveals the boy was alone and he was shot almost immediately after the squad car came to a stop.

Racist, violent, out-of-control cops are a serious problem, but equally problematic is a justice system that allows them to get away with murder. We see this happening time after time and then we still ask ourselves why minorities in America are so distrustful of the police.

The City of Cleveland’s attempt to convince us that Tamir was responsible for his own murder would be hilarious if it wasn’t such a tragic issue. Place a white boy in Tamir’s shoes, and we all know the sequence of events would have been much different. American cities need to spend less time and money on military paraphernalia and more on quality training for cops on the streets. And the justice system has to start treating the police like anyone else who breaks the law.


Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson issued an apology this morning for the "very insensitive response" to the family's lawsuit and the city is drafting a revised document. There was no apology for the shooting death of Tamir Rice.

Monday, March 02, 2015

More Republicans Saying Stupid Things

The fight against ignorance is daunting, and in America, an uphill battle. Although Washington is without a doubt the epicenter of know-knothingism, Republicans in statehouses around the country (predominantly red states) routinely display a shocking lack of basic knowledge about science, history and the Constitution. Here are a few choice examples from last week.

The right to let your kids die

Idaho Republican state representative Christy Perry says that the state has no right to protect children from their parents who refuse them needed medical treatment in favor of faith healing. Apparently it’s okay with her if Idaho children die in the name of God. Perry says that a proposed ban on faith healing would violate the religious rights of her constituents.

So the stomach and the uterus aren’t connected?

Republican state representative Vito Barbieri argued with a doctor on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine. Dr. Julie Madsen, a doctor testifying against the bill, was explaining that colonoscopy patients sometimes swallow small cameras to let doctors examine colons.

“Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?”

No, replied the incredulous doctor.

It’s a miracle. Texas Rep has the cure for cancer

Texas state representative Michele Fiore (R) is keen on allowing people to take drugs that are not FDA approved. As an example, she said this:

“If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing with, say, salt water, sodium cardonate [sic-it's "biocarbonate"] through that line and flushing out the fungus. These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective.”

Republicans hate science and the Constitution

A new Public Policy Polling poll just released finds that:
  • 49 percent of Republicans say they do not believe in evolution. Only 37 percent say they do.
  • 66 percent of Republicans say they do not believe in global warming. Mind you, even the most science-denying Republicans in Congress have said they "believe" in global warming, they just don't think we should do anything about it. Their base has not yet reached this enlightened state.
  • 57 percent of Republicans would support establishing Christianity as our "national religion."
Don’t mess with Texas toilets

Texas State Rep. Debbie Riddle (R) has introduced two new bills that seek to criminalize the use of bathrooms by transgender people. Not only could trans people face jail time and fines for using gender-segregated facilities that match their gender, so too could businesses who make their facilities open to trans patrons.

Your facts are not stronger than my stupidity

Despite being proven bogus and dangerous many times over, the Oklahoma House Children, Youth, and Family Services committee passed a bill allowing parents to utilize gay conversion therapy along a 5-3 vote, ensuring that it will advance to the full House.