Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Roundup of Recent Right Wing Idiocy and Hate

I can’t think of any better place to start this new edition of my occasional roundup of recent examples of right wing idiocy and hate than in the great state of Tennessee where Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-Tennessee) was able to draw a big applause from a crowd at a town hall gathering. What did Rep. Desjarlais do to draw the applause? Simple. He told an 11-year-old girl that her father should be deported.

I know that the video isn’t very good (and the audio is probably worse). From The Raw Story:

11-year-old Josie Molina told Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R) that she has papers but her father does not.

During a question and answer session at the meeting, Molina stepped up to the microphone and, with a quavering voice, asked, “Mr. DesJarlais, I have papers, but I have a dad who’s undocumented. What can I do to have him stay with me?”

Rather than make any attempt to assuage the girl’s fears, Desjarlais said, “Thank you for being here and thank you for coming forward and speaking,” but “the answer still kind of remains the same, that we have laws and we need to follow those laws and that’s where we’re at.”

This “law & order” Republican couldn’t try to soften the blow to a little girl. Rather than doing what would have been the human thing to do and try to make her feel even just a bit better, Rep. Desjarlais played to the immigrant-hating crowd … and got the response that he was probably hoping for. Where is the simple humanity in applauding a little girl’s misery? But then let’s remember that these are the same people who boo American soldiers who just happen to be gay.

By the way, does Rep. DesJarlais’ name ring a bell? If you follow this kind of stuff it should. Remember that he told the little girl “that we have laws and we need to follow those laws”. That is, unless you’re Scott Desjarlais:

Desjarlais is a former physician and anti-choice crusader who was fined $500 by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners after it came to light that he had engaged in multiple extramarital affairs with female patients. When one woman became pregnant, the staunch anti-abortion conservative pressured her into terminating the pregnancy. Another patient charged that Desjarlais prescribed narcotic painkillers to her for recreational use and frequently smoked marijuana with her.

“I know God has forgiven me” for the transgressions, Desjarlais told a conservative radio host in an interview in December of 2012.

And yet he was elected to Congress and has the … er … gumption to stand on a stage and tell a little girl that her father needs to be deported because “we have laws”. Apparently his God forgives forcing women to have abortions, cheating on your spouse, and smoking a little weed … but not being an illegal immigrant.

Next we have one of the most jaw-dropping quotes that I’ve heard recently. And please note that this quote was reported by the conservative Washington Times and Wall Street Journal:

Twenty tea party and conservative groups in Tennessee have signed onto a letter that asks Sen. Lamar Alexander to retire, claiming “our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous.”

Wait, what? (And note that we’re still in Tennessee…) Here’s the whole letter (emphasis added):

Senator Alexander,

You have served a long and marked career. You have been a part of the Tennessee political scene for as long as most of us can remember. You have worked for Howard Baker, Winfield Dunn, served as Governor, were appointed to be the Secretary of Education of the federal government, President of the University of Tennessee, were a serious contender for the nomination of the Republican Party for President, and of course you are currently serving as a United States Senator. Your life-long career in government service is noteworthy.

During your tenure in the Senate we have no doubt that you voted in a way which you felt was appropriate. Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values. Quite honestly, your voting record shows that you do not represent the conservative values that we hold dear and the votes you have cast as Senator are intolerable to us. Furthermore we have serious doubts about your ability to fix our problems since you have played such a significant role in creating them.

The Little Plaid Book you authored contains very sage advice on politics. Rule #297 is especially important because you advise anyone running for office to “Serve two terms, then get out.”  Are you willing to follow your own advice, or will you fall into the mire of hypocrisy?

As you are likely aware, there have been polls conducted that show your vulnerability. While no viable contender has yet emerged, it is becoming more probable with each passing day that one will rise to the challenge. When a serious contender eventually does enter the race, the moment their fundraising capability makes them a viable candidate, your re-election is in serious jeopardy.

Therefore, we urge you to conclude your long and notable career by retiring with dignity instead of fighting against a serious conservative primary challenger who would expose to all Tennessee voters the actual history of your voting record.

Sincerely,

Sevier County Tea Party

Tea Party of Lincoln County

Gibson County Patriots

Benton County Tea Party

Carroll County Tea Party

Jackson Madison County Tea Party

Dickson County Tea Party / 912 Project

Obion County Tea Party

Stewart County Tea Party

Tennesseans for Liberty (Madison County)

Volunteers for Freedom (Henry County)

We the People (Tipton County)

Rutherford County Tea Party

TN 9-12 Project

Caney Branch Tea Party

TN Republican Assembly

Smoky Mountain Tea Party Patriots (Blount Co)

McMinn County TEA Party

North Sumner Tea Party

Tennessee 8th District Tea Party Coalition

Just think about that for a moment: “Our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship”. If that sort of attitude prevailed in 1787, the Constitution, and all of the compromises therein, would never have been written or adopted. And it was that sort of attitude that, in no small part, led to the Civil War. Seriously, do you think that our problem today is too much bipartisanship and compromise? Or is the “our way or we fuck as all” platform, that the Tea Party has adopted?

And this is just too funny not to include. A Tea Party candidate has stepped forward to challenge Sen. Alexander. Look closely at his initial campaign image:

I don’t know. Maybe I’m too picky. But it seems to me that you should probably be able to spell the office to which you want to be elected. However, anyone proficient with deciphering Teabonics will recognize that this is par for the course. After the mistake was pointed out, the image was fixed. But we get a good laugh anyway.

Next, let’s go to right wing radio hosts Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner on Generations Radio. Apparently, these guys aren’t big fans of homosexuals or the decision of the Boy Scouts to permit gay scouts.

Swanson: Manhood is a problem and the Boy Scouts are going to lead the decline since the final decision came down that the Boy Scouts as a national organization are going to invite homosexuals into the troops.

Buehner: Which is just a matter [of time] until they invite homosexuals, active homosexuals, to be leaders of the troops and pretty soon you’re going to have the sodomy merit badge. Christians are fleeing like rats.

Swanson: And after that I guess it’s incest; after that I guess it’s the cannibal merit badge, where I guess you cut up human flesh, fry it—

Buehner: Cook it in a Dutch oven out in the wilderness.

Swanson: So that’s what the Boy Scouts are doing, they are trying to add abomination on abomination, effectively going into God’s word, trying to find the thing that God really, really, really hates the most. The sins listed in the Bible, going through the lists of sins in the Bible, finding the very worst ones and creating merit badges for them is where the Boy Scouts are headed.

If you really want to listen to them, head over to Right Wing Watch where they have a SoundCloud clip of the program.

Anyway, the real point here is these guys (like many of their colleagues on the right) are quick to equate homosexuality with incest. But, rather than going next to bestiality or polygamy (the usual progression for the homophobic crowd), they move on to cannibalism. Because, you know, showing compassion to homosexual children is just like cannibalism. Moreover, rather than trying to find some sort of compassion within themselves (wasn’t Jesus all about “love”?), they conclude that the Boy Scouts are going through the Bible “finding the very worst” sins and creating merit badges for them. Really? So now the Boy Scouts are going to give badges for eating shrimp, wearing a cotton-polyester blend, and cutting hair? I presume that they already have merit badges for learning how to stone a neighbor who transgresses by touching a football (pig skin).

On a similar note, it’s also worth reading what another right-wing Christian talk show host had to say. Sandy Rios hosts a radio talk show for the American Family Association. And she’s worried about the afterlife for the left, for gay activists, and for President Obama:

I would not want to be in the shoes of any of the left right now. I would not want to be in Barack Obama’s shoes. I would not want to be in the shoes of homosexual activists. I say that with humility and with fear for them because God will even the score, he will sort things out, he will be God and he will not be mocked. Whereas they think they are getting away with breaking all kinds of moral laws and mocking everyone in the process, they just don’t know God, they don’t know who they are up against and we do. And that should bring out some mercy in us because I wouldn’t want to be — what did that old evangelist say: ‘it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.’

My friend, college professor, and blogger Sheila Kennedy, had a terrific response to this comment from Sandy Rios:

Unlike all us sinners, you see, Sandy Rios knows God.

The monumental arrogance and self-delusion displayed by those who purport to know the mind of a deity they themselves describe as all-knowing and all-powerful is certainly mind-blowing. But what really gets to me is the nature of the God these people have created in their own image: small-minded, vengeful and partisan. Hardly the sort of God worth worshipping.

I don’t mean to be snarky or dismissive, but if God exists, I’m pretty confident she will reward charity, inclusiveness and loving-kindness rather than prejudice and hate. But then, I must hasten to say that I can’t really know.

Unlike Sandy Rios, I haven’t chatted with God lately.

I don’t have much to add to Kennedy’s comments, though I’d of course be concerned for Rios if her blouse and skirt are of two different fabrics or if she and the family ate at Red Lobster last night.

The Washington Times has a similar worry (internal links omitted):

Christian churches are being warned that if they continue to sponsor Boy Scout troops, they are opening themselves to multiple legal challenges that could affect whether they can “freely preach the Gospel.”

The policy change has legal ramifications for religious chartering groups, potentially exposing them to lawsuits if they continue to sponsor troops while seeking to maintain the traditional Christian teaching that homosexual behavior is immoral.

What could happen is “somebody would come and say, ‘We want to use your church for a same-sex wedding ceremony,’ and the church would say, ‘Wait, we have a religious belief against that,’” said Erik Stanley, an alliance lawyer and Eagle Scout.

Most states that have gay-marriage laws also have some kind of “conscience exemption” that does not require churches to perform same-sex ceremonies.

But the rebuttal by such a gay advocacy group would be, “Well no, you don’t — or if you do, you’re not sincere or you don’t follow it, because you allow this Boy Scout troop in, and you had to specifically sign a charter” saying that “you agreed with the BSA policy of allowing in openly homosexual youth,” Mr. Stanley said.

“That’s our basic concern — that it weakens the church’s freedom of religion and freedom of association arguments on that point,” he said, adding that churches may need to separate from the Boy Scouts of America to “protect their right to freely preach the Gospel” and “be a witness to our nation’s youth.”

The problem with all of that hyperbolic fear-mongering is that it’s all bullshit. Grade A bullshit. You have to do all sorts of mental gymnastics to follow the logic of this insane “concern”. One important point to note is that despite the fear being expressed, the author didn’t identify a single example of a church that had been sued to be forced to perform a same-sex marriage. Apparently, the author of this article and the groups “warning” the churches are completely unaware that there is a difference between religious marriage and civil marriage. A Catholic church doesn’t have to marry anyone it doesn’t want to; nor does a Jewish synagogue or an Evangelical Christian church. For that matter, we haven’t seen lawsuits by Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or atheists demanding that Christian churches officiate their marriages on the basis of the fact that they sponsored Boy Scout troops with Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist kids. You see, to the people pushing this kind of argument, it’s not about reality; it’s about fear. And these homophobic bigots are doing everything that they can to convince their dwindling followers that compassion towards homosexuals will inevitably lead toward some sort of Biblical smackdown or something.

Then we have Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Michigan) who said this week that he wanted to impeach President Obama:

If I could write that bill and submit it, it would be a dream come true,” Bentivolio said. “I stood 12 feet away from the guy and listened to him. I couldn’t stand being there, but because he is president I have to respect the office. That’s my job, as a congressman, I respect the office.”

“I went back to my office and I’ve had lawyers come in,” the congressman continued. “These are lawyers, PhDs in history, and I said, ‘Tell me how I can impeach the president of the United States.’”

(Emphasis added.) Why, I wonder, is that Rep. Bentivolio “couldn’t stand” being just 12 feet from President Obama? Was he afraid that some of the President’s “blackness” might rub off or something? More importantly, when asked why he didn’t introduce a bill of impeachment, Rep. Bentivolio was forced to acknowledge a problem:

“Until we have evidence, you’re going to become a laughingstock if you’ve submitted the bill to impeach the president because number one, you’ve got to convince the press,” he said. “There are some people out there no matter what Obama does he’s still the greatest president they’ve ever had. That’s what you’re fighting.”

In other words, Rep. Bentivolio wants to impeach President Obama even though he has no evidence of an impeachable offense. Hmm. Why then does he want to impeach President Obama? And note further that in Rep. Bentivolio’s warped little world, the “number one” thing you need to do is not to gather evidence; rather, it’s to convince the press. He criticizes people who think that President Obama is the greatest president no matter what he does, yet he wants to impeach without evidence. Irony, anyone? Calling Alanis Morriessette.

I also “liked” this quotation from Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) on Fox News:

“He has an agenda and he’s going to do whatever he has to do to pass that agenda, regardless of the Constitution,” Grimm said. “I mean, I think our founding fathers are turning over in the graves right now because he’s just so blatant in his — the administrators, the people he puts in charge of these agencies are bold and brazen about saying, ‘yes, we’re going to make an end run around Congress.’”

(Original emphasis deleted.) What brazen, unconstitutional, end run has Rep. Grimm fuming? The FCC has proposed a surcharge on telephone bills, that would add, for a period of 3 years, approximately $4.00 per year to an average phone bill (note that was $4.00; I didn’t mistakenly drop a 0…) in order to provide broadband Internet access to schools that don’t currently have broadband.

In the category of “hard to believe” someone actually said that, I give you this item from Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller about the new dog that the Obama family got this week (emphasis added):

It’s a dog named “Sunny.” Apparently it’s a girl and it was born in 2012 in Michigan, where the unemployment rate was 8.8 percent last month. It is the Obamas’ second dog, after “Bo.”

With the addition of Sunny, the Obamas now have two black Portuguese water dogs.

The Obamas do not have any white dogs.

Seriously? First, why was it worth noting, in an article about a dog, that Michigan has an unemployment rate of 8.8%? Note that the article didn’t mention that Michigan has a Republican governor and Republican-dominated legislature. If you’re going to mention the unemployment rate, that seems pertinent, no? But it’s that last line that leaves me nearly speechless: “The Obamas do not have any white dogs.” Obviously, that is concrete proof that President Obama is a racist that hates white people and white culture. Oh, except for the fact that the Obama’s first dog — Bo — is mostly black and a little bit white …

…you know, like President Obama whose mother was white.

Then again, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-California) doesn’t believe that there are different races in America:

Interestingly, that provision for patriotic integration is missing from the Senate legislation. The motto of this country is e pluribus unum, and one of its meanings is “from many nations, one nation, the American nation.” There’s only one race here, it’s the American race. And the only way you accomplish that is through assimilation. That is what our immigration laws are designed to promote, and that is precisely what illegal immigration undermines.

Um, what? I mean… er… Oh, fuck it. I have no words. Seriously.

But to finish, I have to go back to Tennessee and a story that many of you have already heard about. When parents of 7-month-old boy went to court about child support issues and to determine which parent’s last name the child would use, the Tennessee family court magistrate judge decided not only the issues before her. No. She also ordered that the child’s first name be changed from Messiah to Martin.

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Judge Ballew said.

Yes. You read that right. Judge Ballew determined that because her religion holds that “Messiah” is a title that has “only been earned by one person” then that title cannot be used as a name. I have to wonder how anyone could become a judge without even a passing, rudimentary notion of that little thing called the First Amendment.

Well, that’s enough for now. I just wish that I didn’t have so much more material that I could have drawn from for this post. If you come across a comment that makes your jaw drop, let me know!

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