Friday, July 27, 2012

Last Call

Remember, racism simply doesn't exist anymore because we have an African-American President.

A black couple in Crystal Springs, Missouri says that a predominantly white Baptist church refused to let them get married because of their race.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson told WLBT that the day before they were to be married, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs informed them the ceremony would have to be moved due to the reaction of some white church members — even though the couple had attended the church regularly.

“The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if [the pastor] went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” Charles Wilson explained.
“He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple,” Te’Andrea Wilson added. “I didn’t like it at all, because I wasn’t brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody.”

Dr. Stan Weatherford, the church’s pastor, was forced to perform the marriage at another church after he was taken by surprise by his congregation’s outrage.

“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” Weatherford said. “I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’ Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.”

Church officials said they would hold meetings to decide what to do if another non-white couple wanted to use their facility in the future. They insisted that all races were welcome at the church.
Oh you're welcome...unless you want to get married.  Otherwise, take your blackity black black asses on outta here.   If you're wondering why I'm agnostic and for marriage equality, this nonsense right here is exactly why.  Explain to me when all these asshole conservatives do is say "You black people don't have good Christian values like we do" and then when you get a black couple willing to join your congregation and get married at your church, you threaten to vote them out?

What the hell makes you think they would want to stay after that?  Where are the loving values you claim to hold dear when you do this to anyone?  I'd say you should be ashamed, but that apparently left the train station years ago.  Do you teach your kids these values, so that 25 years from now a new generation has to put up with this stupid, racist garbage, too?

I don't know what to think, other than it's been a looooooong day.

The Kroog Versus Banging Our Heads Into A Wall

Second quarter GDP numbers have once again summoned Mighty Krugthulhu from the depths, beard tentacles of sanity clutching charts for all to behold.  How'd we do?

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 2.0 percent.

Better than having our faces kicked in, I guess.  Kroog comes along with his comprehensible glare and injects reason into your mind.

Here’s a chart. It shows changes since the second quarter of 2009, which was both the bottom of the recession and the earliest point at which you can plausibly say that Obama had any influence on actual policy. I show nonresidential fixed investment — basically business investment — and government purchases of goods and services:
Business investment has actually gone up a lot; maybe you think it should have gone up even more, but it’s not the heart of the problem. On the other hand, we’ve had a lot of cutbacks in government — mainly at the state and local level, but federal aid could have avoided that.
This isn’t a picture of an economy hobbled by Big Government; it’s a picture of an economy hobbled by premature austerity.

Like I keep saying, the economy is pretty much doing what the Republicans say the economy should be doing, that is cut government spending (down $120 billion or so) and let the private sector do its invisible hand thing (up about twice that).  The result:  exactly what you would expect, a mehburger GDP report because we're, you know, wiping out a whole bunch of private sector economic activity stimulus by wrecking government spending.  This is the stated GOP plan in action right now as we speak, and gosh it kind of sucks.

You think we would then ramp up government spending, but Republicans are all insane and need to have anvils dropped on them.

There Are Bad Decisions...

...and then there's Power Line's Paul Mirengoff, defending Joe Paterno.  Well, one of his lawyer friends does, at least.

The only evidence of Mr. Paterno’s involvement is a passing reference in an email from [former Athletic Director] Curley to [former university President] Spanier and [former university Vice-President] Schultz that says that Curley “touched base with the coach. Keep us posted.” Freeh Report at 20, 48. A second email from Curley to Schultz that says “Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” Freeh Report at 20, 48. There is no other information about Mr. Paterno’s involvement in the incident. In fact, the Freeh Report does not even establish that the references to “Coach” refer to Joe Paterno. The most it can and does say is that “[t]he reference to Coach is believed to be Paterno.” Freeh Report at 49. The Freeh Report cites no evidence to support this assertion, but even if “Coach” refers to Coach Paterno, what do these emails prove? The answer is: nothing. At most, these emails suggest that Mr. Paterno was concerned and wanted to know whether Sandusky was guilty of any wrongdoing.

Of course, if Mr. Paterno did express concern about the matter, then the question becomes: what did anyone tell him about the allegations and the investigation?

The Freeh Report provides no answer to this question. The Report does not provide any evidence about what Joe Paterno knew about the 1998 allegations against Sandusky. The Report does not provide any evidence about what Mr. Paterno did or said, or what anyone said to Mr. Paterno. Indeed, the Freeh Report suggests that both law enforcement and the University police agreed that nothing improper happened and that the allegations lacked merit. Did anyone tell Joe Paterno about those findings?

OK, at this point, may I say that Joe Paterno, as Jerry Sandusky's manager, had a decade-plus to do something and didn't.  Does that make him legally culpable?  That's arguable, and that's why we have courts of law.  Does it make him the worst head coach in any sport ever?  Pretty gorram much. But by all means, explain your theories to Sandusky's victims and their families.  I'm sure the'll be glad to listen to why Joe Paterno probably didn't break any laws in covering up more than ten years of sexual assault of kids, so it's okay.


A Gallery Worth Viewing

I normally don't like photo galleries or slides.  This is an exception to the rule, and I think it's worth sharing.  Faces of Addiction takes photos and stories of addicts that really do tell a story.  Photographer Chris Arnade will challenge our ideas on who addicts are and how they became addicts.  From the death of a loved one to an unexpected windfall leading to a coke binge, he touches on such a wide section of people that we can see how devastating and destructive addiction really is.

Not all addicts look like addicts.  Not all addicts are criminals, or would be criminals if they could just kick their habit.  Some destroy themselves on purpose, others are blind to what they are doing.  But photos don't lie.

It's easy to write these people off.  That is a shame we all should bear.

Modern History

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --   A disagreement over a gambling debt and a pocket watch led to what some call the first true Wild West showdown.  It was on July 21,1865, when Wild Bill Hickok shot Davis Tutt dead in Springfield's town square.
The feud became the stuff of legend -- retold and embellished in magazines and dime store novels, and re-enacted throughout the years.  Now the city is bringing this 147-year old tale back to life.
The recordings, which are voiced by Springfield employees, are linked to a series of YouTube videos.
The videos are linked to nine QR codes located around the square where it all happened nearly a century and a half ago.  Using any Smartphone with a QR code scanner -- there is one on the KY3 app -- place it over the code, click on it, and learn about the dispute between Hickok and Tutt.

Springfield's square has actually seen a remarkable amount of history, most of it sad.  However, this has been local legend for years, with rural schools even doing an occasional field trip to the area to see where Hickok made us famous.

What is extra exciting is the QR code approach and the video connection that can use downtown's free WiFi to show the videos.  This is big news for a city that a few years ago was determined to remain in the dark ages.  I can't wait to check out the videos.  Of course it has to be dramatized, but it would seem attention was paid to as much history as can be verified.  There are enough local historians to keep them honest, I would imagine.

I had to share this, my sweet city is making me proud!

Eat Mor Vile Speech

You have no idea how much it galls me to agree with Glenn Effing Greenwald on anything, but he's right about Chicago Mayor Rahmbo going after Chik-Fil-A and denying them a permit to operate a franchise in the city for the sole reason that their President is a homophobic asshole.

Obviously, it’s perfectly legitimate for private citizens to decide not to patronize a business with executives who have such views (I’d likely refrain from doing so in this case). Beyond that, if a business is engaging in discriminatory hiring or service practices in violation of the law — refusing to hire gay employees or serve gay patrons in cities which have made sexual orientation discrimination illegal — then it is perfectly legitimate to take action against them.

But that is not the case here; the actions are purely in retribution against the views of the business’ top executive on the desirability of same-sex marriage:
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has said Chick-fil-A “doesn’t belong in Boston” because of [Chick-fil-A President Dan] Cathy’s discriminatory stance.
On Wednesday, the tag team of Emanuel and Moreno joined the chorus, citing Cathy’s anti-gay views.
Yes, Chicago, Dan Cathy is a homophobe, a bigot, and an unapologetic assclown.  I refuse to eat at Chik-Fil-A for the sole reason that Cathy is a continued hateful bigot.  But the Constitution is pretty gorram clear about what constitutes free speech, and the Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on that fact in March of 2011 saying that our old friends, the anti-gay bigots of Westboro Baptist Church, have the Constitutional right to say awful things about people.

You can't deny Chik-Fil-A a permit because Dan Cathy is a bigot.  Period.

As my Salon colleague Mary Elizabeth Williams noted when writing about the controversy in Boston: “Aside from the fact that Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, there’s no evidence those beliefs have been institutionalized in any way. There’s no record of refusing service to gay patrons, or unfair hiring practices, or a hostile work environment.” Indeed, Joe Moreno, the Chicago alderman who represents a “hipster ward” and who initially blocked the business’ expansion, made clear that he was motivated not by any alleged discriminatory business practices but solely by “bigoted, homophobic comments”: namely, the Chick-fil-A President’s view that the Bible mandates marriages be between men and women only. And as Williams noted, the company oversees a “foundation that’s contributed financially to” numerous right-wing groups: Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, among others.

That's awful of them.  But it is not illegal to have that opinion.  Defense of free speech in the United States requires that clear cases of vile speech like this are protected and cannot be used to punish an organization.  It requires accepting that fact.  It requires vigilance and swift legal action should those opinions become discriminatory action, but the opinions themselves are valid.  You have the right to have those opinions, and I have the right to disagree with them.  That's how America works, people.

Glenn Greenwald is someone I rarely agree with and in fact his transgressions against logic, discourse, reason, and propriety are well documented.  But he is right here, this is Constitution 101, folks.

And as far as Rahmbo goes, you screwed it badly, man.  Let these guys open their restaurant.  Then don't eat there.  But you treat them in accordance to the letter of the law.

I have an opinion too:  screw Chik-Fil-A, and screw the people who eat there.  Constitution allows me to say that right here.  Your mileage may of course vary.  By the way, Facebook?  That means Dem strategist Karl Frisch gets to post this.


Do we understand the whole "vile speech is protected under the Constitution" thing now?


London Mitt Is Falling Down

The plan was simple:  Mitt Romney goes over to the London Games to tout his own Olympic organizer credentials in Salt Lake in 2002, and to burnish his foreign policy credentials with our closest European ally.  Instead, yesterday's Mittastrophe performance was so staggeringly pathetic it got to the point where Romney's multiple-day series of gaffes has the British press now openly mocking him.

First, Romney insulted his hosts Tuesday:

Strictly speaking, this one isn't Romney's fault, but still, the media loves a narrative, and this comment certainly plays into it. Before the trip had even begun, a Romney "adviser" was quoted as saying the Republican contender would be better placed than Barack Obama to sustain the transatlantic relationship with the UK because of a shared "Anglo-Saxon heritage

Then he did it again on Wednesday:

On Wednesday, the day he arrived in London, Romney was interviewed by NBC's Brian Williams. In a softball warm-up question, Williams asked Romney about his wife's horse, Rafalca, which will be in competition in the dressage, and whether Britain looked ready to host the Olympics. Easy, surely? Not for Romney.

"There are a few things that were disconcerting," Romney said of the event which has been 15 years in the planning and is expected to cost over £9bn.

"The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

Then he stepped in it, forgetting the name of Labour party opposition leader Ed Miliband.

On to a meeting with the leader of the opposition Labour party, Ed Miliband – a man often criticised for being awkward and lacking a common touch. They should have got on famously. But Romney seemed to forget Miliband's name. "Like you, Mr Leader, I look forward to our conversations this morning," Romney said.

Then he botched it by admitting he met with the head of Britain's super-secret MI6, another no-no.

The existence of MI6, the international arm of the British secret service, was not officially acknowledged until 1994, 82 years after it was established. But the organisation is still shrouded in secrecy, and its operations – and the diary schedule of its chief – are rarely acknowledged. But here comes Romney, in fully open mode: "I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and the opposition here as well as the head of MI6". 

After that, he bobbled a comment about backsides.

There are two things you should know before you "look out of the backside of 10 Downing Street", as Mitt Romney did on Thursday.

Firstly, in Britain, "backside" means "ass". As in the part of the body. Secondly, "10 Downing Street" is often used in political reporting as a synonym for a press spokesman for the prime minister, in the same way as "the White House" can say things or have opinions.

And it got so bad, London Mayor Boris Johnson called him out at the city's pre-Olympics rally yesterday.

"The Geiger counter of Olympo-mania is going to go zoink! off the scale! People are coming from around the world, and they're seeing us, and they're seeing the greatest country on Earth, aren't they? There are some people who are coming from around the world who don't yet know about all the preparations we've done to get London ready in the last seven years. I hear there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready?"

Even Prime Minister David Cameron politely told Mittens to bugger off back to Utah.

Promising London would deliver, the Prime Minister said it had been challenging to host an Olympics in one of the world's busiest cities rather than the “middle of nowhere”, where it would be easier.

And now this morning, Mitt faceplanted again on his geography.

Mr Romney was asked in his interview on Thursday evening whether he had been aware of his roots in northern England, where his great-great-grandfather, a carpenter from Preston, was one of the first Mormons in Britain some 175 years ago.

“I knew that my ancestors came from here,” he said. “I know Miles Romney and Miles Park Romney – these are the folks that came and helped settle the West.”

Asked whether he felt “partly English” as a result, a chuckling Mr Romney replied: “Well, I’m married to a girl from Wales, and I’m a guy from Great Britain. So I feel like this is home too, I guess.” 

Great Britain is the island, Mittens.  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the country.  And I'm betting between bouts of massive laughter that the residents want you to toddle off back to your Aspen mansion and stop being such a complete wanker.

Folks, if Mitt Romney can't handle a trip to the effing Olympics without making America look like a bunch of morons, how can he possibly handle real foreign policy situations involving China or Pakistan or North Korea or Israel?  He's actually made Sarah Palin look competent here.  I mean, it was bad for Mitt before, but now he has no credibility in foreign affairs at all.

And we've got another day of fantastic blunders to go.  God save the Queen.


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