Friday, January 29, 2016

The Evolution Of The Patriot

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chris Christie Defends Low Poll Numbers In His Home State

On Sunday Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey governor, Chris Christie appeared on CNN, and host, Jake Tapper asked him why he feels he should be president of the United States when the people in his own state don't like him. Christie offered a very interesting answer:

“That — that approval rating has gone down once I started to run for president,” Christie replied. “And it should be no shock. You know, the fact is when you start looking for another job, you’re current employer gets a little miffed and that’s what’s gone on here in New Jersey.”

Not sure about you guys, but I'm not really impressed with this particular defense. I think many people would agree that the mere action of running for President of the United States, isn't generally enough to make your constituents dislike you. After all, if they feel that you're doing a good job serving your state, presumably they would want you to expand that leadership to the entire country. As Tapper pointed out, fellow Republican governor, John Kasich is also running for President, but his approval rating is at 62% (compared to 31% for Christie). What's the disconnect there, Chris?

In cases like this, I feel that we can just simply invoke our good friend Occam, and assert that the fine people of New Jersey don't like Christie cause he's simply a lousy governor. The rest of the country also seems to concur as well.

Still, I suppose this is a slightly better argument than Christie made last year when he hilariously claimed that his terrible poll numbers were a result of his constituents missing him too much if he ever became president.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

No, Senator Cruz. You Are Not The Spiritual Successor To John F. Kennedy

While campaigning the other day, Republican presidential candidate, and most unlikable man in America, Ted Cruz delivered this bit of stupid:

Just days after attacking the values of New Yorkers, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) traveled to New England on Sunday and attempted to claim that he was heir to the mantle of one of the nation’s most beloved presidents, Democrat John F. Kennedy.
“JFK campaigned on tax cuts, limiting government and standing up and defeating Soviet communists,” he told a New Hampshire audience. “JFK would be a Republican today. He stood for religious liberty, and he would be tarred and feathered by the modern Democratic Party.”
This gets brought up from time to time, but it never gets less annoying. Republicans have long been using the talking point that JFK would be a Republican primarily because he lowered taxes. Ted Cruz goes a bit further by claiming the late Democratic president also supported limited government and religious liberty. Unsurprisingly, Cruz, once again,, happens to be wrong on everything.

First off, it's true that JFK proposed sweeping tax cuts, lowering the top rate from 91% to 65%. However, there are several key distinctions when comparing it to the kind of tax policies Cruz and his ilk support. As Brother Benen explains:

In the years following World War II, both Truman and Eisenhower kept high tax rates in place in order to help pay off war-era debts and help in post-war reconstruction. By the time Kennedy took office, the nation could afford to reduce rates, so he lowered the top marginal tax from 91% to 65%. (For comparison, note that a 65% top bracket is still far higher than today’s 39.6%.)
In an amusing twist, many congressional Republicans opposed JFK’s plan – Republicans had not yet made the transition in earnest from an anti-deficit party to an anti-tax party, and many GOP lawmakers from the era questioned whether the nation could afford Kennedy’s tax breaks.
Furthermore, the type of tax cuts that JFK supported were not the kind that would be proposed by a proto-Reaganite:

Does that suggest JFK was some knee-jerk supply-sider, who’d be comfortable with contemporary Republican policies? Um, no. Not only was Kennedy’s plan rooted in Keynesian economics, it was also designed to spread the wealth around – the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation determined that the bottom 85% of the population received 59% of the benefits of JFK’s tax cut. The top 2.4% received 17.4% of the tax cut, and the top 0.4% received just 6% of it.
As opposed to the tax cuts signed into law by Reagan and Bush II, where nearly all the wealth went to the richest among us (aka the "job creators").

It should also be pointed out that by the time JFK came into office, a top tax rate of over 90%, which was in place for a good while, probably was hurting job growth and tax receipts.  This may have been one of the few times where a tax cut was legitimately helpful to the economy. This is a situation that most Democrats probably wouldn't have too much of an issue with. We don't reflexively hate tax cuts on the wealthy, we just think that most tax cuts (especially nowadays with current rates) wouldn't have any significant positive effects and in the case of revenue, would almost always have a negative effect. We're not ideologues, we're pragmatists, and infinitely more so than Republicans.

Moving along, Cruz's claim about JFK supporting "limited government" is even more laughable. The  37th president supported a  significant expansion of welfare and anti-poverty programs, endorsed tremendously strengthening civil liberties, created a massive socialized health care program that President Obama could only dream of passing. Not to mention he greatly increased spending for education, particularly in the areas of science, something that would be anathema to a flat-Earther like Cruz.

No matter how you slice it, JFK was in no way someone who advocated limited government.

Finally, there's Cruz's assertion about JFK's support for religious liberty. Now this one Cruz actually happens to be correct on. JFK did indeed support religious freedom. The problem though, is that this is a completely different kind of "religious freedom" that Cruz and the Republican Party support. JFK was a strong proponent of the separation of Church and State. Cruz wants to allow Christians to ban gay people from shopping at their stores. Not exactly  the same thing.

I think we'd all appreciate it if Republicans would stop co-opting one of the most popular Democratic presidents. It's already annoying enough when they glorify Republican presidents that they would probably hate if they were alive today.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Michael Bay's Conservative Catnip Flops In Theaters

Michael Bay's long awaited film, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was finally released this past weekend. Unfortunately, for those hoping the movie would finally demonstrate to the American people what eight federal investigations, dozens of congressional hearings, and thousands of hours of righteous indignation from conservative media over the past three years couldn't, they were in for a massive disappointment:

Michael Bay’s action movie about the Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks stumbled at the box office this weekend, opening at No. 4 in American theaters.

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” opened with an estimated $19.6 million domestically, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  “American Sniper,” which opened the same weekend a year prior, pulled in a stunning $107.2 million, while “Lone Survivor” opened to $37 million in early January 2014. Bay's last opening as a director — for "Transformers: Age of Extinction" — brought in more than $100 million.

Ouch. Not only did the movie fail to meet expectations, but it was the worst performing film by Michael Bay in a decade. And it might even end up actually losing money as well.

I have to say, I'm somewhat surprised that the movie flopped. Considering how polarized the country is, and with a massive marketing campaign by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, I figured there would be enough die hard Hillary haters to make the movie perform much better. Maybe not achieving American Sniper numbers, but still something more respectable than how it actually did.

Of course, I suppose it's important to note that, while a film like American Sniper is loved by conservatives, it wasn't a film that was only seen by conservatives. It was far less politically charged than BAYGHAZI! and thus seemed to have gained a wider audience, one that was made up of a good portion of people who believe Obama was born in the U.S., but also just simply wanted to see a fun action flick.

Despite the claims of Michael Bay and many of the people involved with the movie that it was "apolitical", it was pretty damn clear it was in fact, quite political. I haven't seen the movie myself, but I've read a good chunk of reviews. While it's true that the movie isn't "political" in the sense that it never once mentions either President Obama or Hillary Clinton, there's a lot dog whistling throughout. It makes several references to things like protests, the anti-muslim Youtube video that was initially believed to have led to the attack, the constant failure of the U.S. government to send help, and probably the most prominent right-wing meme, the alleged "stand down" order that was featured prominently in every single trailer since the movie was unveiled. Every single one of these things were nods to hardcore Republicans, and despite Obama or Hillary not being uttered by name, it was made blatantly clear to the conservative faithful who the true perpetrators of Benghazi were.

Alternatively, it's also quite possible that the movie failed to live up to expectations because it wasn't political enough. As mentioned, the movie makes plenty of allusions to the incompetence/malevolence of the Obama administration and the State department, but unless you've actually been religiously following the scandal via Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, you probably wouldn't make the connection as to who was really responsible for what transpired. The typical indifferent American voter might walk away thinking the reason those four brave Americans died was because of the movie's antagonist, the CIA station chief, or probably some random government bureaucrat at either the State department or the Pentagon. The idea that the President or the Secretary of State (or both) murdered their own ambassador is not something any low information voter would immediately conclude from the movie unless it was specifically spelled out for them.

Thus, it stands to reason that the typical Fox News fanatic probably might have felt disappointed at what they may have perceived as a lost opportunity to properly educate the American public, and so didn't bother recommending the film to any of their friends that didn't already share their opinions to begin with.

In any case, while I don't know for sure why BAYGHAZI! bombed (no pun[s] intended),  I'm glad it did. If for no other reason than to relish in the tears brought forth by dashed conservative hopes and dreams that this would be the one thing that would finally bring Hillary Clinton to justice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Party of Personal Responsbility...

The Palin clan is definitely filled with some upstanding citizens:

Track Palin, the son of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was arrested Monday and charged with with domestic violence and other counts, according to the Wasilla, Alaska police department.

Police said in a statement released Tuesday that officers were called to a residence in Wasilla for a disturbance report at about 10 p.m. Monday, where they encountered Track Palin.

"An investigation revealed Track Palin had committed a domestic violence assault on a female, interfered with her ability to report a crime of domestic violence, and possessed a firearm while intoxicated," police said in the statement.

Now does anyone want to guess how the Palin matriarch responded?

"It starts from the top. The question though it comes from our own president, when they have to look at him and wonder, do you know what we go through, do you know what we're trying to do to secure America and to secure the freedoms that have been bequeathed us?" [Governor Palin] added. "So when my own son is going through what he goes through, coming back, I can certainly relate with other families who feel these ramifications of some PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with."

Yes, you read that right.  Sarah Palin actually blamed her son's PTSD and subsequent domestic abuse on Obama. Definitely didn't see that one coming, no sir.

Now, while this is the least surprising thing in the world, it does bring up a question I've had for a while. Has anyone from the so-called "Party of personal responsibility" ever taken responsibility for anything bad in the past twenty years? Legit question. Cause I honestly cannot think of any instance where that has been the case. It seems like there's been a pattern where, if you're a Republican, and something unfortunate happens under your watch, it's always someone else's fault. Whether it's 9/11, Iraq, the handling of Katrina, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, etc. there always seems to be plenty of blame to go around...for the other party.

You would think in this particular case that there would be even an infinitesimal amount of introspection on Sarah Palin's part on whether it's possible that she might have failed as a parent, and deserves some blame. But of course, accepting blame is only something that non-patriots do, no doubt. Seriously, it must be great to be a Republican. You get to take credit for good things that happen that you might not have had anything to do with whatsoever, while simultaneously escaping all culpability whenever things go South. That's what it means to be the party of personal responsibility.

To paraphrase the words of s a wise man: "It's easy to blame yourself, but it's even easier to blame the Kenyan socialist".

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bill O'Reilly Threatens To Flee Socialist U.S. To Even More Socialist Country

Bill O'Reilly understandably doesn't like Bernie Sanders. But he doesn't just dislike him. He dislikes him enough that he would actually flee the U.S. if he ever got elected president:

“And you know, look, I’m fleeing,” he warned. “If Bernie Sanders gets elected president, I’m fleeing. I’m going to Ireland. And they already know it.”

O’Reilly added: “I shouldn’t say it publicly because that will get Sanders more votes. But I’m not going to pay 90 percent of my income to that guy. I’m sorry. I’m not doing it.”
Now, while I would be the first to offer Bill help in packing his bags, I feel that it is my duty as a good liberal to caution him about the wisdom of such a decision.

See, Bill wants to leave the U.S. because Bernie Sanders, a self described socialist, would turn the U.S. socialist (moreso than what current socialist president, Barack Hussein Obama has done, apparently). One way he would do that, would be to raise taxes on rich people like O'Reilly and use that money to fund universal health care. Slight problem though, as Henry Farrell from the Washington Post helpfully explains. On taxes:

He does have a second possibility though — paying to become a citizen. Ireland, like many other countries, provides citizenship to individuals who are willing to invest or donate a large sum of money to the benefit of the Irish economy.

What would O’Reilly get in return for his money? First off, a tax system which is not all that different from the U.S. tax system for top earners, and arguably a little less favorable. The effective top Irish income tax rate is a little over half of income.
 On health care:

O’Reilly denounces Obamacare as ‘socialism’ because it uses taxpayers’ money to subsidize the poor. The Irish health-care system does the same thing, on a much larger scale, with a hospital system that is directly run by the government. In Ireland, hospital doctors are government employees (although many senior doctors earn substantial incomes on the side from private practice). Everyone in Ireland is entitled to free basic health care in hospitals, and low income people get medical cards entitling them to free doctors’ visits and many other services.
So turns out that O'Reilly ingenious plan for fleeing a newly made socialist hellhole is to move to a more established socialist hellhole. Brilliant.

I'm surprised that even someone as dumb as O'Reilly would actually make a rookie mistake like this. I mean, this isn't 3rd grade oceanography we're talking about here. This is something Bill O' should actually be deeply familiar with, as a conservative talking head. Ireland is a country that's in Europe, which is a continent/entity that's representative of everything conservatives hate. Strong labor laws, a generous welfare state, France, etc. It'd be like a liberal complaining that New Jersey was becoming too conservative cause of Chris Christie, and so they plan on moving to Kentucky.

To be fair to Bill O', he's not he first conservative to make an inane threat in response to a progressive policy that would result in fleeing to a much more progressive country.

Of course, none of this really matters anyway because Bill O's just huffing and puffing, but just like a few years ago when he threatened to stop working if Obama raised his taxes, he'll somehow find the motivation to still stick around for whatever reason.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sometimes The Internet Is Totally Awesome

Offered without comment:

Well Somebody In The Oregon Legal System Plans On Punishing #Yallqaeda

This is a good start:

An Oregon judge says he will bill Ammon Bundy up to $70,000 a day to reimburse Harney County for security costs related to the ongoing occupation of a wildlife refuge.

Of course, while I fully support this course of action, the problem lies in the other part of the equation: how to get these meatheads to actually pay up. After all, Ammon and Ryan's deadbeat dad, Cliven, owed the government over a million dollars, which was the entire reason his inbred hide became a nationwide story in the first place. As of this date, he still owes the government that million dollars, and presumably with interest.

At the moment however, Cliven hasn't made any announcement on any plans to make good on said payment, and the Feds don't seem to be too bothered by it either. I don't see how this situation will play out any differently. This nice judge may be mailing bills to the Bundy household after this idiotic insurrection is done, but mostly said bills will be used for kindling.

Of course, I'm also totally fine with jail time too. Just throwing that out there.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Example #13274 of Our So-Called "Liberal" Media

Seriously, Anderson? 

At last night’s CNN Town Hall on gun control at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, Anderson Cooper’s discussion with President Obama got fiery when Anderson asked The President if it’s fair to use the word “conspiracy” when discussing people who accuse Obama of wanting to take away guns.

“A lot of people really believe this deeply, that they just don’t trust you,” said Anderson, clearly touching a nerve.

I'm immensely disappointed at Cooper for giving any level of credibility to moronic right-wing conspiracy theories. The fact that so many idiots out there actually believe Obama is going to "take away" their guns does not make this inane belief any more legitimate.

Lots of people also "believe deeply" that the Earth is less than 6,000 years old. Lots of people also "believe deeply" that the moon landing was faked. Lots of people also "believe deeply" that Hillary Clinton wanted to murder her own Ambassador for some reason. Lots of people also "believe deeply" that homosexuality is an abomination, and that gay people should be killed.

This doesn't mean we should entertain the dittoheads who think stuff like this has any element of truth behind it.

It bothers me even more when someone like Anderson Cooper says this, than it does if some flat-Earther on Breitbart or Newsbusters does. With the latter, I totally expect this kind of thing from that bunch. That's their entire business plan. To intentionally distort and lie about everything Obama or any Democrat does.

But Anderson Cooper is generally a pretty good journalist, and what he says would carry some credibility with voters who aren't loyal Fox News viewers. The average voter, who doesn't follow politics that closely, and doesn't religiously watch The O'Reilly Factor would see Cooper's comments and think "Well, gee, if mainstream journalist, Anderson Cooper, thinks it's possible that Obama's going to impose martial law...".

This is the absolute worst thing about mainstream news anchors. That every conspiracy theory on the Right, no matter how breathtakingly stupid, deserves a platform. People like Anderson Cooper think they're being objective by allowing both sides to make an argument, without bothering to get in the way. But that's the exact opposite of being objective. A journalist's job is to seek out the truth. I'm not talking about taking a stand on whether gun control is a good or bad thing. I'm talking about details that are easily measurable and disprovable.

It's one thing to say "I believe their should be no gun control whatsoever!". It's another thing to say "Obummer wants to take all ma guns!". One of these statements we can actually fact check. And to my knowledge, while Obama has proposed many gun control measures, there's not a single one that I can find since he's become president that would do more than reauthorize the assault weapons ban.

You might think even that that's a bridge too far, but you would still be able to buy as many other guns as your heart desires. But again, that's probably the most extreme thing he's proposed, and not only has that not been enacted into law, and not only has NO gun control legislation been enacted into law under his watch, but Obama has actually expanded gun rights since he became president! Seriously, let that sink in.

Again, these are all verifiable claims. Cooper wouldn't be doing anything wrong by pointing this out.

Furthermore, even if Obama was secretly actually planning on doing what the tinfoil hat folks are claiming, how the hell is he going to accomplish that goal?  As he stated in the video, he's only got a year left in office, and even if he had more time, how would he be able to pass anything with a Republican congress and a Republican Supreme Court? Have they been pretending to oppose Obama all this time? Are they suddenly going to follow his directives now, for some reason?

Oh, I know! Obama will abolish the other two branches of government and consolidate his power right? Even if that was the case, why is he waiting until the last year of his presidency to do it? Does Obama find it more exciting that way? Seriously, I'd love some elaboration. This is better than a Tom Clancy novel.

It's totally understandable why Obama responded in a very annoyed manner to Cooper's inane remarks. I don't blame him whatsoever. I expect way better of Anderson Cooper and he should be ashamed.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Another Reminder: NOBODY Likes The Bundys

When will these guys take a hint?

Saying they appreciated bringing attention to federal control of lands in their Oregon community, a spokesperson for the recently formed Harney County Committee of Safety asked the militants to give up their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and leave town.

According to the Oregonian, the committee — previously affiliated with occupation leader Ammon Bundy — held a townhall Friday evening where a draft letter was read to the packed house, that can be summed up as: “you made your point, now it’s time for you to go home.”

Yes, you read that right. A committee formed by the leader of the Yeehawdists, wants these clowns gone ASAP. But as hilarious as that was, it's still not the best part.

According to the Oregonian, no one officially representing the occupiers attended the meeting although militia members are free to come and go from the occupied bird refuge.

I think this provides a clue as to what Bundy's decision will be.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Yallqaeda Says They'll Be Helping We The People In Oregon, Whether They Like It Or Not

A couple of days ago, the Oregon Yeehawdists said that they would leave peacefully if the locals wanted them to:

Anti-federalist militants continue to hold the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., as law enforcement officials keep their distance. But they say they're willing to leave if local residents ask them to, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Well, it turns out that the fine citizens of Burr, did in fact, want them to get the hell out of their town. Sheriff David Ward relayed that message to the militia's leader, Ammon Bundy. Unfortunately, it turns out that the whole "we'll get lost if y'all hate us so much" was actually just a figure of speech, and the militia is actually enjoying its new digs just fine, thank you very much:

The leader of a group of armed protesters occupying a U.S. wildlife refuge in rural southeastern Oregon on Thursday rejected a sheriff’s offer of passage out of the state to end the standoff.

What a shock. Surely, no one saw that coming.

In one of his previous interviews, Ammon Bundy claimed that the Sheriff is the supreme law of the land. Until they do something that militia folk like Bundy disagree with. Then, just like with federal authorities, like the BLM or the FBI, following "laws" basically becomes optional.

It sure was a great idea to let the Bundy clan get off Scot-free for attempted murder/armed sedition in 2014, wasn't it?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Republicans Start The New Year Off With Yet Another Obummercare Repeal Bill

This would probably make the 62nd repeal vote Republicans have had so far:

For the first time, Republicans on Wednesday are expected to send a bill to President Obama’s desk that would repeal most of his signature healthcare law.
While the bill faces a certain veto, the vote in the House brings Republicans closer than ever before to dismantling the healthcare legislation that they say has failed the country.

This stopped being funny around the 25th attempt.

I know Republicans are just trying to appease their stupid base, but I would think even the base is just intelligent enough to realize these are all meaningless votes that will have zero impact on the actual law itself. I mean, I would figure that there would be at least one teabagger out there who realizes that if this is the 62nd attempt at repealing Obamacare, then that would mean the other 61 times somehow failed to do the job. If I were a (god forbid) a Republican voter, I'd be pissed that my useless congressmen would be treating me in such a patronizing manner.

Granted, Democrats do tend to hold symbolic votes as well, but those are generally only done one or two times, and in many cases it's to get members of congress to take an official stand on a piece of legislation. I don't recall there being 60+ votes held by the Democratic congress on repealing the Bush tax cuts, or withdrawing completely from Iraq.

Still, when it comes to actual damage Republicans are inflicting on the country, these moronic symbolic spectacles are not actually pernicious, so I suppose it's not worth making a huge stink.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Apparently, The Idea of Willingly Getting Shot At By Law Enforcement Isn't As Appealing As It Sounds

That's the sad reality that at least one Oregon occupier would have to face:

Another man from Utah who took part in the Bundy standoff told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he was miffed by how few protesters showed up. “I feel quite betrayed. It’s been on Facebook that everyone is going to come. And we show up, and everyone just craps out,” he said. “You come up here, ready to get killed if we have to and these people are just on Facebook about it."

Huh. Go figure. See, folks? This is precisely why Facebook added the "Interested" option on the event invites. That way, in case you're unable to make any solid commitments, nobody will be able to criticize you for it.

He added, “I’m not here to shoot anyone, I’m here to get shot."

Somebody should tell this guy that he can still make that happen.

Conservative Media Respond To #OregonUnderAttack (With Surprising Results!)

So with the news of YallQaeda taking over a bird sanctuary in Oregon over the weekend, I was curious to see how the right-wing media were covering this story (if they were covering it at all). Let's see what we got, shall we?

This article was written by friend of the blog, Caleb Howe. He doesn't seem to be enthusiastically supporting the Yeehawdists (which he refers to as simply "trespassers"), rather preferring to minimize the severity of the situation, and that the real problem is the left being mean by using mocking hashtags.

To his credit, he does point out that the militia folk did say they plan on possibly killing people:

Still, whatever the numbers, no one has been shot nor has anything been set on fire, although the mainstream media cites “reports” that some of the militia-members (which is how the men referred to themselves, we are told) have vowed that they are prepared to kill or be killed in defense of their strong belief in remaining in the shack.
Why the word "reports" is in quotes, is not exactly clear. Does Caleb think that the quotes from the militia members are fabricated by the evil liberal media? Cause if that's the case, one of his conservative buddies in conservative media could possibly ask them to clarify that whole killing thing, which could probably do a lot to make this story go away. Just a thought.

Hot Air

This one was written by Jazz Shaw, and he seems to be fully against what's going on.

But… with all of that said, I’m with John Hawkins on this one. This is crazy. (And I know that’s not going to sit well with those regularly spoiling for a fight with the feds.) Taking armed troops in to seize control of a federal building and essentially daring the government to come get you is pretty much the course of last resort. This is the fight you choose to draw the line in the sand over? If the Hammonds aren’t seeking protection and are planning to continue their appeal through the normal legal channels, this armed insurrection isn’t being done for their benefit. If you’re doing it to try to stop the feds from exercising control over a wildlife refuge, well… nope. Sorry. Still crazy.

There is that bit about the whole "last resort" thing we could quibble about, but I won't.

Shaw's colleague, Taylor Millard, however has an unfortunately, less agreeable take on the situation. He doesn't seem to mind the idea of killing federal workers, so much as he seems to mind how "the media" would "spin" it. Check this out:

There’s a lot going on as regards the standoff in Oregon involving three of Cliven Bundy’s sons and the federal government. Jazz has already offered his opinion on the matter, and I mostly agree with him. But I’m not sure the term “armed troops” is appropriate to describe Bundy’s group because that suggests they’re in tactical gear. That doesn’t appear to be true based off what Ammon Bundy’s video posted on Facebook.
See, they don't have "tactical gear", they just have lethal firearms, which therefore means they're not truly "armed". Good to know.

Millard takes issue with the way The Oregonian's portrayed one of the militia members, a guy named Ryan Payne:

Among those joining Bundy in the occupation are Ryan Payne,  U.S. Army veteran, and Blaine Cooper. Payne has claimed to have helped organize militia snipers to target federal agents in a standoff last year in Nevada. He told one news organization the federal agents would have been killed had they made the wrong move.
He has been a steady presence in Burns in recent weeks, questioning people who were critical of the militia’s presence. He typically had a holstered sidearm as he moved around the community.
But here's how it should have been reported, according to Millard:

The problem is The Oregonian is overblowing what Payne actually told Missoula Independent about what the “militia snipers” were doing during the Bundy Ranch situation last year.
“We locked them down,” Payne says. “We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions. We had at least one guy—sometimes two guys—per BLM agent in there. So, it was a complete tactical superiority. … If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died.”
That’s a lot different than the vague term “federal agents,” and suggests Payne was just making sure his men could beat the Bureau of Land Management if it came to that.
See, the problem was that The Oregonian claimed that Payne was setting up sniper positions to kill federal agents, when in fact, what he was trying to do was specifically kill BLM agents. Totally different! Nice try, liberal media!

So what happens if Bundy’s group decides to stick around and won’t leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge? Hopefully, not violence. This is where authorities need to show patience, and not do anything which ends up endangering the lives of anyone. Bundy’s group isn’t hurting people, and, at worst, is guilty of trespassing. Yes, they’re armed but that doesn’t mean SWAT needs to go rolling into the refuge or a drone be used to end the standoff.
Sure, they claimed that they're prepared to kill anyone who tries to stop them, but hey, that's just another colloquialism for trespassing.

He then finishes his column by saying that everyone should remain calm and that there's no need to resort to violence, and that the authorities just need to wait them out, all civil like and such. Which I'm sure is the exact same reaction he would have had if the people in question were either Black, Hispanic or Muslim. Obviously.


Okay, now this one legitimately surprised me. Considering that even within conservative media outlets, Breitbart happens to be uniquely terrible, it was delightful to see them come out with one of the most solid rebukes so far:

While it may appear to be a severe overreaction to a criminal justice matter, such episodes are deeply embedded in certain pockets of western states where local property owners and government officials regularly clash over land usage rights and restrictions. Like some progressive activists capitalizing on officer-involved urban shootings, the Bundy family is now leveraging its experience in fomenting illogical protests across state lines.
Standing up to the federal government and protecting private property rights both can be noble pursuit that inspires the hearts of conservatives, but was the Bundy standoff really about private property rights? The answer is largely no.

Credit where credit's due, I guess.


Okay, this has got to be strangest one on this list. News Max's Mike Garcia wrote a column entitled "12 Things the Media Won't Tell You About the Militia Occupation in Oregon". Ooh, sounds rather interesting and juicy, eh?

Well, no. Not only is it not interesting in any way whatsoever, but it's downright bizarre. Not only has every bullet point (no pun intended) on the list been actually mentioned by the media, but hardly any of them actually paint the Oregon militia goons in any positive light whatsoever. I mean, just look at some of these:

1. Two ranchers were convicted of arson

6. A militia took over a federal building after the march

9. Bundy said he is willing to use violence to maintain the occupation

10. The Hammonds distanced themselves from the Bundys

11. A local representative distanced the community from the Bundys

12. The sheriff distanced the community from the Bundys
Just so we're clear, these are supposed to be Garcia's attempts at defending the militia. How the hell do any of these details put them in a flattering light?! Whatever, I'm not complaining.

Also surprisingly, not much here to chew on. Looks like they just copy/pasted the AP's original report. BORING.

Honestly, I'm legitimately surprised at how the response has been throughout most right-wing media outlets. Conservatives will normally defend anything their side does, so it's heartening to see that even they appear to have limits (for the most part). This makes the Bundy family seem like even bigger losers than they already were.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Donald Trump Doesn't Seem To Mind Being In A Terrorist Recruitment Video After All

During the last Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton appeared to get herself into a bit of trouble when she claimed that ISIS was using footage involving Donald Trump in terrorism recruitment videos. Fact checkers pounced on Clinton's claim as being false, even though there was some truth to the matter. Trump and his right-wing allies immediately and predictably went on to attack Clinton for making such a claim. After all, how on earth could anyone think that any Islamic terrorist organization which had an interest in increasing membership in their crusade against the West would want to use Donald Trump's vitriolic anti-Islamic rhetoric and policies to aid themselves in such an effort?
Somalia-based Islamist militant group al Shabaab has released a recruitment film in the form of a documentary about racial injustice in the United States featuring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, SITE Monitoring reported Saturday. […]
It was shown between two clips of militant leader Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011, saying Muslims in the United States would face a choice between leaving for Islamic countries or staying at home to fight the West.
The film was distributed on Twitter on Friday by the al-Kataib Media Foundation, an Islamist militant organization, SITE reported.
Huh. Whaddya know? Guess at least one radical Islamic terror group thought the Donald would be of some use after all.

So how does Trump feel about this new turn of events?

“What am I going to do?  I have to say what I have to say.”

Well, I guess that's that.

What's really amusing about all this is how Trump and his conservative comrades went completely apoplectic at Clinton's initial comments. Even if there weren't any videos originally, why was it such a horrific thing to claim Trump's own rhetoric would probably make pissed off Muslims even more pissed off? I mean, were Trump, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. actually arguing that his anti-Muslim policies would make him more beloved and appreciated among the Muslim community?

I truly do not understand how the hell these people think.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Once Again, Your Liberal Media, Ladies And Gentlemen...

From Rawstory:

CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick said over the weekend that armed protesters who took over a federal building in Oregon were not being treated harshly like Black Lives Matter protesters and Muslims would be because they were “not looting anything.”


Roderick told CNN host Brian Stelter on Sunday that law enforcement should not react with force to end the militia’s occupation of the federal building.

“The last thing we need is some type of large confrontation because that’s when stuff goes bad,” Roderick explained. “And I think in this particular instance, if we just wait them out, see what they’ve got to say, then eventually, they’re all going to go home.”

Stelter pointed out that many activists had complained if the militia members were “Black Lives Matter protesters or if these were peaceful Muslim Americans [then] they would be treated very differently by law enforcement.”

“This is a very rural area,” Roderick replied. “It is out in the middle of nowhere. What are they actually doing? They’re not destroying property, they’re not looting anything.”

If illegally taking over a piece of federal property doesn't constitute "looting", I don't know what does. And even if they didn't decide to lay claim to federal property, there is the whole issue of, you know, THREATENING TO KILL ANYONE THAT TRIES TO REMOVE THEM (seriously, why is this detail constantly being overlooked?).

Brian Stelter is normally a pretty good journalist, but unfortunately, in this instance he just went ahead and nodded in agreement with Roderick's inane comments. Come on, Brian. You're better than that.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Domestic Terrorist Cliven Bundy Returns To Take Over Federal Building In Oregon

Remember how back in early 2014, Cliven Bundy got away with bilking the government for more than a million dollars, because the Constitution exempts extreme right-wingers from paying federal taxes? Well good news. It seems like the decision by the Feds to not go after him anymore didn't appear to have any adverse consequences or anything:

The Bundy family of Nevada joined with hard-core militiamen Saturday to take over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, vowing to occupy the remote federal outpost 50 miles southeast of Burns for years.

The occupation came shortly after an estimated 300 marchers – militia and local citizens both – paraded through Burns to protest the prosecution of two Harney County ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, who are to report to prison Monday.

Among the occupiers is Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and two of his brothers. Militia members at the refuge claimed they had as many as 150 supporters with them. The refuge was closed and unoccupied for the weekend.

In phone interviews from inside the occupied building Saturday night, Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, said they are not looking to hurt anyone. But they would not rule out violence if law enforcement tries to remove them, they said, though they declined to elaborate.

“The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,” Ammon Bundy said.

“We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” he added. “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”
So I'm quite a bit conflicted on how the Feds handled the issue last time. As revolting as Bundy and his ilk are, I'm kind of glad that it ended without anybody getting hurt. Sure, he stiffed the government of a substantial amount of money, but I don't know if that would be worth the cost of actual lives.

On the other hand, these idiots have literally threatened to KILL any federal agents that came onto their property! We are not talking about a bunch of hippies protesting with daisies and guitars. These scumbags are armed to the teeth, and are practically begging to become martyrs for their incredibly shitty cause.

Now we have to once again deal with these right-wing extremist shenanigans.

And the thing that bugs me the most is the gigantic level of disparity in  how the law doles out punishment based on the kind of people involved. We've had people like Sean Hannity say that the use of excessive force was perfectly fine against Eric Garner because he was flailing his arms around, not because he was attempting to be violent, but because he couldn't breathe! We've had people like Elisabeth Hasselbeck argue that Sandra Bland lighting a cigarette was enough to threaten the safety of a police officer.

Yet here we have a bunch of violent yahoos with high powered weaponry, who have made it abundantly clear that anyone who attempts to remove them from any federal property that they've decided to claim as their own, will be welcomed with a barrage of bullets. Again, Sean Hannity, who was Bundy's biggest cheerleader last time around, had absolutely no problem with that one douchebag cop who pepper sprayed that group of Occupy protesters in Berkeley. It's absolutely sickening. Bundy and every one of these militia asshats need to be imprisoned for sedition and domestic terrorism. 

Finally, can I just say how amusing it is that the Civil War reenactors that make up many of these militia groups always happen to take their stand with the least threatening departments in the federal government? Last time around they stood up to the mighty Bureau of Land Management, and now it's against a National Wildlife Refuge under the oppressive grip of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Yeah, real buncha tough guys, Bundy and his posse, going after these well guarded fortresses of tyranny. Would love to see these mouthbreathers try to take on the FBI, CIA or any military compound. See how well that works out for them.

Friday, January 1, 2016

So....Looks Like It's 2016 Now

Well, it appears a new year is upon us.

It's kind of funny (though not really "ha-ha" funny). At the end of 2014, one of my New Year's resolutions was to make an attempt to post more in 2015 than I did in 2014. This is a goal that I apparently failed quite miserably in achieving. Not only did I not post significantly more in 2015 than I had hoped, but it turns out I posted far less than I did in 2014 as well. In fact, if you observe the archives on the right hand side of the page, you'll notice an interesting thing. It seems that my post count has gotten progressively worse as time has gone by. For that I do apologize.

I've said this more times than I can count, but the lack of posting has been due to a factor of several things, but in all honesty, the biggest culprit is laziness. Or at least, it's a big part of it. There's many, many instances where I just don't feel like going through the effort of posting about something, even if it's on a topic that I'm actually interested in. Though it's not always just that. In many cases, even when I want to post about something, I tend to struggle to come up with a way to write about it.

Not to too my own horn or anything, but when I'm in the zone, I feel like I can write pretty dang well. Unfortunately, more often than not, I don't have that mindset. There are considerably many instances where I honestly find it difficult to just string a few words together. I do try to add a bit of snark/humor in my writing, which tend to take up a lot of time, but even when I'm trying to do something as simple as describing the contents of a news item, I find myself struggling quite a bit. (I got a fairly long piece on Breitbart's John Nolte that's nearly finished on the draft page, but has been languishing for nearly a month now, for that very reason)

Regardless, I do want things to be different from this day forward. I am legitimately going to strive to make a quota of at least one post per day. Even if it's just a few sentences, I'll still make an attempt. After all, even that would be a dramatic improvement over the current frequency (in fact, that would be over triple the amount of posts that I would have even at the height of this blog in 2012!). Many of my favorite political writers - such as friend of the blog, Steve Benen - post dozens of items a day. If they can write that much on a daily basis without breaking a sweat, then I should be able to do the absolute bare minimum, at least.

Also, one other thing I wanted to mention. Something that I've also wanted to do for a long while now, will hopefully become reality in the coming days, and that something is a podcast. I finally have both the hardware and the software to do so, and Allah willing, it'll be up very soon. So I hope y'all are looking forward to that.

So, yeah. I hope to make 2016 the best and most productive year for Reading Is For Snobs. Let's see how this plays out. Happy New Year!