Nice work if you can get it

All lies, of course. Which is unfortunate, since $1,500/week is pretty good money for yelling at members of Congress. Seems like most people are willing to do that for free.

The head of the National Rifle Association on Friday claimed that anti-Donald Trump protesters were paid “$1,500 a week” and that they “spit in the face of Gold Star families.”

During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre said anti-Trump protesters don’t even know what they stand for, but he claimed that they’re paid and they’re violent.

(Via All TPM News)

Ryan, Rand, and raised tails

Back when we used to visit the farm in Roseau, one of the places we often walked through was the dairy barn where the cows were milked. We didn’t necessarily care so much for the cows, but there were always kittens in the barn to play with. The cows faced outward, and their back ends faced a central walkway. That way it was fairly quick and easy to hook up the milking machines to the udders. This also meant that any excrement was aimed at the walkway. As a kid, I was deathly afraid of getting hit with a shower of crap, so I always kept one eye out for the tell-tale sign of a raised tail.

Which brings me to Paul Ryan on Twitter. Today he had this:

Freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need. Obamacare is Washington telling you what to buy regardless of your needs.

I always thought freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose, but what do I know. Apparently more than Paul Ryan does about how Obamacare works. He might want to read up on ACA and the “three-legged stool.” I know he’s a Randian acolyte and is all about individual choice, etc etc but this is really a case where that’s all a load of crap— more so than the usual Ayn Rand load. I’m reminded of what John Rogers wrote:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

A man hears what he wants to hear…

I wasn’t going to post anything on the recent bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and cemetery vandalism in St. Louis…and then I saw this:

The local Fox anchor is complaining on Twitter that people are too hastily concluding Jewish cemetery desecration is anti-Semitic.

Talk about willful blindness. We’re supposed to think it’s just a coincidence that these happened on the same day? In a time where anti-Semitism is at best silently condoned in the White House, if not actively encouraged? No. These are clearly deliberate attacks against Jewish people. Trump did finally say something about this, but I didn’t think much of his statement. Turns out, neither did Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, who said:

The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.

Josh Marshall also wrote a short piece about the St. Louis vandalism, which included this:

We live in troubled times. Hate and barbarity are always with us. But today they are being granted permission to act. Like the wink and a nod one gives to dissolute youth to help them along to do evil. It's part of what I've called the 'great disinhibition'. All of this can only be fought – mercilessly. It must also be understood, yes. But only in a pragmatic and instrumental fashion to fight it more effectively, more totally. I think of the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Jewish partisans rising out of their displaced persons camps who took vengeance on Nazis in the months and years after the War. No one of age is an infant and none deserve coddling. Of course the tide of barbarism is not only upon us. It has taken critical high ground. It is coming for Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, every group that is marginalized. We must fight it everywhere and not simply with words and ideas. It's a fight, not a metaphor. Treat it that way.

I desperately want this to be hyperbole, but it’s clearly not. While so far all the bomb threats have been hoaxes, and while symbolically horrible, at least no one was hurt in the cemetery vandalism. However, unless something serious and concrete is done to combat the rising hatred in this country, it’s only a matter of time before people start getting killed.

Pity the Poor Trump Voter

Came across an editorial in the NY Times today titled “Are Liberals Helping Trump?” That contained this gem from a Trump voter.

“It invalidated anything that’s good about me, just because of how I voted. Poof, it’s gone.”

Another person in the same article claimed to feel “backed into a corner,” and the article accuses liberals of practicing a form of “moral bolshevism,” whatever that means. And yet liberals are supposed to be ones needing their safe spaces?

Here’s the thing. I’m well aware of the backfire effect, and have no doubt that some Trump voters just dig in harder when presented with opposition to their candidate, whether that opposition takes the form of nuanced argument, angry name-calling, or a pairing that goes south. However, it is ridiculous to suggest that those of us opposed to Trump should somehow back off, as if that will help conservatives see reason. Think about this— what would happen if you told a conservative to quit calling someone a “libtard”? They would fire back by calling you a “snowflake.” So when that same conservative complains about being called on their shit, the only appropriate response is point out their hypocrisy and tell them to piss off. Maybe the people in that article represent a gentler form of conservative, but as someone who has witnessed the scorn heaped on liberals for literally decades from those on the right, I have absolutely no sympathy for their new-found sensitivity.

An aside— I would also argue that there is a significant element to our collective opposition to Trump that has absolutely nothing to do with whether you’re liberal or conservative. I think people of all stripes can recognize an incompetent asshole when we see one. That may be part of the pressure the people in the article are expressing. It’s hard to know how deep into the right-wing media bubble they are, but it has to be a shock to see such a steady stream of large protests and media calling out the White House on their crap. They may want to close their eyes to it all. To which I say, nope:


In fact, I would argue that everyone resisting Trump should continue pushing as hard as we can on all fronts, no matter how bad it makes some misguided Trump voters feel. Cries of protest just mean that the message is getting through. That guilt they’re feeling is the first sign of conscience, and that maybe they’ll think twice about pulling the lever for a demagogue next time, or for the party that supports him. We’ll know the message is really succeeding when people are not only ashamed to admit they voted for Trump, but that they are GOP voters.

How I spent the morning

I debated how to express my irritation with GOP members of the House Oversight Committee, and opted for this. My “see no evil suckers” image with text that simply reads, “I thought the Oversight Committee could use a logo appropriate to it’s current attitude. Feel free to use until you decide to do your job.” I doubt this will actually have any impact on their behavior, but one can hope.

I considered pointing out that the committee’s mission statement says nothing about “does not apply to Republican presidents,” or that they spend untold hours and dollars investigating Benghazi and show no inclination to dig into the Yemen debacle. Nor did I point out that back in the day the same committee made noises about having issues with Socks the cat, but seems to have no problem with the Trump family milking Mar-a Lago (or however you spell that) for everything it’s worth…not to mention the marital separation we’re apparently footing the bill for as long as Melania stays ensconced in Trump Tower. Maybe another day.

Dem Senator Slams Trump For Making A ‘Spectacle’ Of Missile Test Response

"There is certainly enough evidence here to suggest that in a meeting with a head of state of a close ally in a very difficult circumstance, President Trump was frankly partly showing off for his country club guests and making this somewhat of a spectacle," he said. "These sorts of important briefings between heads of state should be happening in a classified setting, not over cocktails and appetizers."


Republicans, Nazis, and me (or maybe you)

A few days ago, Talking Points Memo published an article titled, “College Republicans Apologize for Handing Out Hitler-Themed Valentine’s Card.” It included a photo of said card, which reads, “my love 4 u burns like 6,000 jews.” I came very close to sharing this story myself, with some snark about GOP = Nazi attached, but for whatever reason didn’t. Turns out this may have been a good thing, since the next day there was a follow-up story that started with this:

The woman who created an anti-Semitic Valentine's card featuring Adolf Hitler that was handed out by Central Michigan University College Republicans earlier this week admitted her role and has left the university's town, the school said in a statement Friday.

The unnamed "young woman" who created the card was not a student, according to the university, and she is no longer in the town of Mount Pleasant. It is not clear if she was a part of the organization or why she was involved in the College Republicans' event.

You can’t really tell from the article, but it looks to me like someone not affiliated with the College Republicans snuck these cards in, unbeknownst to the group. Well played, whoever you are. I certainly bought into the initial story that the College Republicans had slipped over into blatant anti-Semitism, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. I’ll admit that part of me felt bad about this, but then I came across an article about the Ann Frank Center in Salon that included this quote from Steven Goldstein:

“When the Trump Administration refuses to mention Jews in a Holocaust remembrance statement, that’s Holocaust denial, and Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism. When the Trump Administration defends its anti-Semitic exclusion of Jews day after day without the president’s apology, that makes him guilty of anti-Semitism, too. And it doesn’t matter that his daughter is Jewish and married to Jared Kushner and that they’ve given the president Jewish grandchildren. What kind of defense is that? Donald Trump is still guilty of anti-Semitism.”

So yes, the College Republicans may not have had anything to do with that Nazi Valentine card, but the president and his advisors are definitely anti-Semitic. Further, the GOP as a whole hasn’t said that much about it. They certainly haven’t been protesting it. That makes the GOP complicit in the administration’s anti-Semitism, and by extension that includes the College Republicans.

So, do I feel bad about thinking the College Republicans would have published such a harshly anti-Jewish card as a “joke?” Maybe. But until they and the GOP start actively fighting against the racism and bigotry that has taken over their party overall, people will continue to believe such hoaxes. I would argue that it’s on them to make such things less plausible. Let’s see if they can do it.