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Friday, December 4, 2015

The Daily Drift

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The Rip-Off


Government Surveillance and the Third Amendment

The Third Amendment to the US Constitution gets less respect than the other amendments in the Bill of Rights. It has been used in Supreme Court cases fewer times than the rest, and on the surface, seems hopelessly antiquated. It says, "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." Now, that was a problem when we were a colony in the British Empire, but no one regards it as a possibility now. Or do they? California assemblyman Mike Gatto believes the amendment could be used to prohibit the National Security Agency (NSA) from spying on American citizens.
    Let's examine whether a case may be made. The National Security Agency is part of the Department of Defense and therefore of our nation's military. By law, the NSA director must be a commissioned military officer, and per its mission statement, the NSA gathers information for military purposes. That's strong evidence that NSA personnel would qualify as soldiers under the 3rd Amendment.
    And why did the framers prohibit the government lodging soldiers in private homes? Besides a general distaste for standing armies, quartering was costly for homeowners; it was also an annoyance that completely extinguished a family's sense of privacy and made them feel violated. Sound familiar?
It’s been said many times that the US Constitution guarantees no right to privacy, but a broad interpretation of the Third Amendment might actually include some expectation of privacy. Ars Technica lays out some of the pros and cons of this argument.


Republicans Ramp Up The Koch Crusade And Inquisition Against Science

When NOAA published research using empirical data to refute wingnut climate-change denial, Smith (R-TX) subpoenaed to the scientists…
GOP Anti-ScienceIf there was ever any doubt whatsoever about exactly who Republicans work for and represent, or who is directing their time and money-wasting agenda in the U.S. Congress, an event in Texas reveals what most Americans already know.
If one was unaware of what era this is, they may think it is the 16th Century and congressional Republicans are the high and holy roman catholic cult attacking science and scientists for contradicting god almighty and the 'christian' bible. But this is 21st Century America and instead of “the church” conducting an inquisition and attacking science and scientists, it is the fossil fuel industry using congressional Republicans to impugn and “intimidate” scientists for being scientists contradicting the fossil fuel industry.
At a Texas Public Policy Foundation event this week where the fossil fuel industry gathered to plot their attacks on the climate, the owner and CEO of coal giant Murray Energy thanked the industry’s leading inquisitor for using the U.S. Congress to attack scientists. The recipient of the glowing praise, heartfelt gratitude and effusive congratulations was anti-science Chairman of the House Science Committee Smith (R-TX). The Murray Energy CEO, Robert E. Murray, enthusiastically praised Smith for leading an inquisition into noted and prominent climate scientists and environmental officials tasked with gathering empirical data to help protect Americans’ air and water.
Murray, after “congratulating” Smith for doing the lord’s work in issuing a congressional subpoena to the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) head Kathryn Sullivan, issued further orders to Smith. Murray demanded that Smith immediately issue more congressional subpoenas and start investigating the American Meteorology Association (weather forecasters) and the Union of Concerned Scientists; two private nonprofit organizations that serve the scientific community and the American people. According to Murray, the organizations also “need to be investigated” because they have empirical scientific data and mounds of research contradicting the fossil fuel industry’s claim that global climate change is a liberal hoax to rob Americans.
It is noteworthy that the anti-science climate-denying attendees, all donors to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, were “inadvertentlydisclosed as billionaires at Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Chevron, VF-Russia, ConocoPhillips and Murray Energy among many others. The president of the event’s sponsor, Brooke Rollins, explained how and why event was conceived and why it is “critical” to the industry’s assault on scientists, the environment, and Earth’s climate. Rollins said,
About a year and a half ago, a supporter of ours that I know well and is a good friend, said ‘Brooke, I think we really need to pull together the best and the brightest who are debunking the myth of climate change and global warming.'” Rollins then revealed that the filthy rich “supporter and good friend” was none other than noted hydraulic fracturing executive and climate change denier Bud Brigham; a real piece of fossil fuel work and Smith cohort.
Since the anti-science Smith has chaired the House Science Committee, he has led a series of unrelenting fossil fuel-funded attacks on the scientists and scientific consensus around global warming. Smith even wastes taxpayer money by holding congressional hearings for the sole purpose of allowing Koch Republicans to each take a turn at berating NOAA, National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) scientists involved in providing empirical data necessary for climate policy founded on reality.
Smith has also proposed Koch-ALEC legislation to create new fossil fuel industry-mandated criteria for all future National Science Foundation studies and duly slashed the budgets of scientists involved in climate research; he has not yet prohibited the words “climate change” from being uttered like other state-level Republicans, but it is likely on the near horizon. Smith has rapidly ramped up his aggressive tactics against science and scientists that garnered high praise from the coal industry’s largest corporation and inspired Smith to get serious about expanding the industry’s crusade and inquisition.
For example, in June, after NOAA scientists published a study in the highly-regarded peer-reviewed journal Science that used scientific research and empirical data to refute the absurd Republican claim that global warming they claim does not exist has “paused,” Smith immediately issued congressional subpoenas to the scientists who participated in the study.
The very serious House subpoenas included NOAA director Kathryn Sullivan demanding, not more scientific data, but all personalcommunications between or among all NOAA employees.” It is what Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson(D-TX) charged was just Smith’s way of “furthering a fishing expedition.” Less politically-correct human beings would label Smith’s actions a religious witch hunt or what they truly are; 16th Century Vatican-like inquisitions and attacks on science that targeted the likes of Galileo and Copernicus. In Koch Republicans’ minds, disagreeing with the fossil fuel industry is tantamount to disputing the authority of the holy roman catholic cult and dog almighty himself, and they have congressional authority to do something about it.
Americans not beholden to the Kochs’ fossil fuel industry say Smith’s investigations are deliberate attempts to intimidate scientists whose research may pose a financial hardship to the fossil fuel industry which donates heavily to Republican politicians; including Chairman of the House Science Committee Lamar Smith. As well-regarded scientist and Slate writer Phil Plait notes, Smith’s subpoenas are “politically-motivated strong-arm tactics,” and not remotely related to “an actual attempt at oversight.” Although Plait is highly-respected in the scientific community, and by this author, it is curious he failed to question how on Earth a science-denying moron and fossil fuel industry puppet like Smith could possibly provide any oversight to scientists, but perhaps that is why Phil is a noted and respected science spokesman.
This week, seven leading scientific societies issued a damn tersely-worded letter to the anti-science Smith asserting that, “Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that some may see as politically controversial.” It is true, of course, scientists should not be investigated or harassed for doing their jobs with due diligence, but this is America controlled by fossil fuel acolytes and driven by a 16th Century religious mindset with congressional subpoena power; power bestowed on them by the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry.
It is not difficult to imagine how far back in time Republicans will eventually take America. First it was deluded teabaggers driving to return to the 1950s, and then it was evangelical fanatics lusting to return to old testament theocratic rule. Of late, it is a small vocal group of Republicans intent on tactics devised by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and now it is the Koch-Republicans drawing inspiration from the 16th century roman catholic cult attacking scientists. Besides a push to leave the 21st Century, the only connection between all the wingnut’s attempts to “take their country back” in history is that they are driven by special interests. And it is not the interests of the incredibly stupid people who continue putting Republicans and their fossil fuel masters in power.

Even Jeb’s Brother The Shrub Thinks He’s A Dumb Asshole

On the right: Favorite. On the left: LOLFrom the "Pot and Kettle" Department:
Oh Jeb. Oh Jeb. On a scale of Typical Jeb Facepalm to Sweet Holy Moses In Heaven What Even The HELL JEB!?, we are not sure where this ranks. But getting called a catastrophically dumb idiot by the moronic shrub "Most Dumbest Pretender Ever"...

Trump’s New Ad Attacks Obama For Taking Selfies – Yet He’s Been In Dozens Of Them

Trump has just released a brand new political ad via his Instagram account. Instead of saying anything worthwhile, or even remotely relevant to...

Rubio "Explains" His Opposition To Equal Pay Law

Walker's Wisconsin Is Taking Food Stamps From The Unemployed

Scott Walker's Wisconsin Is Taking Food Stamps From The UnemployedLaurel Patrick, a mouthpiece for Walker, said the “entitlement reforms” in the 2013-15 budget “help childless adults transition into the workforce.”

Hatch wants to tear down the wall of separation between cult and state

In a biting editorial, written for the Washington Times, Hatch (R-UT) suggests a novel and literal approach to the First Amendment.

Cruz is the bad guy in his own philosophic narrative

Ted Cruz, via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia CommonsCruz is the bad guy in his own philosophic narrative
Cruz is using his Ivy League education to be the sophist ancient philosophers warned us about.

Cruz lashes out: ‘The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats’

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at CPAC
Cruz lashes out: ‘The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats’

Dirty Words

Brother of Iraq War Vet Murdered In Planned Parenthood Attack Bravely Condemns Gun Laws

Image from NBC News
The brother of murdered Iraq War combat veteran Ke’Arre Stewart said he forgives the alleged Planned Parenthood shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, but he condemned the gun laws that allowed Dear to have access to guns.
Leyonte Chandler told NBC News that he forgives the gunman who shot and killed his 29-year-old brother, who was also the father of two.
“I don’t have any resentment or anything — I forgive him,” he said. “It’s a hard pill to swallow because he took my only brother from me. That’s the only brother that I had, that I grew up with. He took that away from me and it’s hard but I forgive him. Jesus forgave me, so I have to forgive him.”
Chandler added: “My anger is not toward him, toward the gunmen … my anger is toward the laws that allow things like this to happen: the gun laws. When you allow people to carry firearms at their own will it makes a breeding ground for destruction and tragedy.”
The two other people fatally shot by Dear include a mother of two, 36-year-old Jennifer Markovsky, and married father of two, Pastor and Officer Garrett Swasey.
The “pro-life” value system espoused by the shooter who ranted to police about President Obama and “baby parts” is a belief system currently based on anti-christian actions like hatred for President Obama, spreading lies about Planned Parenthood, bearing false witness against individuals working for Planned Parenthood, and shaming, humiliating and terrifying women seeking access to control over their bodies.
The Planned Parenthood videos don’t reveal what the shooter thinks they did, and Republicans who elevated and gave credibility to the false videos through taxpayer funded Congressional witch hunts know that. They knew it at the time, because they know that selling fetal tissue for medical research is legal.
Additionally, multiple committees have already investigated the claims against Planned Parenthood and they came up empty handed. But Republicans didn’t let facts deter their partisan agenda and get out the vote tactic – they started yet another investigation in what has become the go-to for them– keep throwing stuff at the wall and something will stick. At the very least the public will associate the person/agency/organization with corruption because why else would they be investigated over and over again.
Once again, someone falling for Republican conspiracy theories – yet another alleged “lone wolf” and “mentally disturbed” person – has gunned down innocent people — fathers, mothers, sisters, daughters, sons, husbands and wives – someone’s family member.
And in seeming perfect juxtaposition to this specific Republican brand of hatred and willingness to lie and fear-monger about people and their ideas until they are harmed by yet another “mentally disturbed” person with access to weapons, we have Leyonte Chandler.

Cruz thinks cucumbers taste better pickled

Ted Cruz, via DonkeyHotey / FlickrCruz thinks cucumbers taste better pickled
Cruz’s response to last Friday’s Planned Parenthood shooting was a particularly lazy form of misdirection.

How Trump’s “Muslims gone wild” rhetoric is helping terrorism worldwide

Bad foreign policy is good wingnut politics.

Data Shows That Wingnut Republicans Are The Real Terrorist Threat To America

Ted Cruz CNN State Of The UnionContrary to Republican claims, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter was not a left wing activist. The shooter was a wingnut and according to the data, extremist Republicans and wingnuts are the real terror threat to the American people.
A New York Times profile described the Planned Parenthood shooter as living in a trailer with a black cross painted on one end. Robert L. Dear was seen by a neighbor handing out anti-Obama pamphlets. Dear was described in the profile as generally conservative, but not obsessed with politics.
In short, the Planned Parenthood shooter fit the profile of anti-government, extremist Republicans who represent the biggest threat to the American people. To be clear, the anti-government extremist Republican is different from the typical Fox News watching, Republican voting relative who speaks about Obamacare with disgust while happily collecting their Medicare.
According to Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer, data suggests that the homegrown extremist is a much bigger threat that ISIL or Al Qaeda:
Despite public anxiety about extremists inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the number of violent plots by such individuals has remained very low. Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.

In contrast, wingnut extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

As Republicans try to spread fear about immigrants and refugees, their hateful and inaccurate rhetoric is fuel for the right-wing domestic terrorist.
Instead of toning down their rhetoric, Republican pretender candidates like Cruz and Fiorina blamed the left for the attack on Planned Parenthood. Republicans are trying to avoid the 'unintended' consequences of their actions. The Republican cabal doesn’t set out to create a terrorist like Robert Dear. They embolden these extremists through bogus scandals and reckless behavior.
The American people have more to fear immediately from the unhinged Republican extremist than they do that a group of international terrorists will strike again.

The Truth Be Told

Democrats Demand That Ryan Shut Down Planned Parenthood Investigation

After the deaths at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, Democrats in Congress are demanding that Ryan shut down the House investigation into the healthcare provider.
In a statement after the shootings, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said:
No one in America should ever have to worry about gun violence when going to a health clinic or a church or a movie theater or a school. It is not enough for us to condemn the violence after it happens-we must act now to prevent it.
It is time to step up our efforts to protect clinic workers and patients.
It is time to finally get guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. And it is time to stop the demonizing and witch hunts against Planned Parenthood, its staff and patients, and the life-saving health care it provides to millions every day.

Today, I am calling on Ryan to disband the wingnut’s special committee, which was set up only to continue this witch hunt against Planned Parenthood.
Teabagger Blackburn (R-TN) the chairwoman of the committee investigating Planned Parenthood accused Democrats of playing politics with the Colorado shooting, but Congressional Democrats have been calling on Ryan to close down the investigation for months.
On October 29, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) wrote to Speaker Ryan (R-WI), “I also urge you to shut down the Select Investigative Panel on Planned Parenthood, which was similarly created to satisfy partisan and political goals. Not only have multiple committees already investigated the discredited claims against Planned Parenthood and turned up nothing, but the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee admitted there is no evidence that Planned Parenthood has broken the law. Instead of doubling-down on abusing taxpayer funds, you should start your speakership on a positive note by ending this political theater for the good of the country.”
Republicans are on the defensive after their violent rhetoric against Planned Parenthood inspired a domestic terrorist attack that kill three innocent Americans and wounded nine others.
Instead of taking responsibility for their words, Republicans have chosen to blame Democrats. The Planned Parenthood issue has gone from a political loser for Republicans to a deadly lesson in the unintended consequences that occur when leaders irresponsibly abuse their positions of power for partisan gain.
Democrats are turning up the heat, and Ryan is already showing signs of dropping the wingnut attack on Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood Killings Put Anti-Choice Agitators On Defense

Planned Parenthood official rips Fiorina

Ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis DearPlanned Parenthood official rips Fiorina: She and the Colorado shooter spout the same lies

5 Awful Wingnut Responses to Planned Parenthood Murders

Fox Blames Planned Parenthood Victims

The wingnut reactions to the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood terrorist attack has been nothing short of horrific. So far, wingnut responses...

Fox hack on clinic shooting: Liberals are ‘indicting an entire religion — 'christian' white Republican’

Fox News host Andrea Tantaros (screen grab)
Fox News hack Andrea Tantaros added that “the left” wanted to stop all talk about “the illegal harvesting of baby parts."

Deluded and Afraid

This Hilarious Video Shows That 'Christian' And Islamic Fundamentalists Are Made For Each Other

Image via ScreenshotA four-minute video making the rounds on social media is hilariously demonstrating just how much 'christian' fundamentalists have in common with Islamic fundamentalists.

'Christian' Terrorists Burn Accused ‘Witches’ At The Stake; Where’s The Outrage?

Featured image credit: Pixabay CCO public domain imageMuslim Sharia? Meet “Anti-balaka,” Africa’s 'christian' terrorist network that burns suspected “witches” at the stake or buries them alive.

You’re 7 Times More Likely To Be Killed By A Wingnut Terrorist Than A Muslim Extremist

You’re 7 Times More Likely To Be Killed By A Conservative Terrorist Than A Muslim Extremist
In other words, Trump rallies are a scary place to be…
Read more 

Bachmann: Syrian Refugees Want To Gang Rape Us

From the Land of Batshit Crazy ...
Michele Bachmann: Syrian Refugees Want To Gang Rape UsBachmann is promoting a conspiracy theory that Muslim Syrian war refugees want to rape Americans.

Texas Threatens To Sue Non-profit Groups For Aiding Syrian Refugees

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the state of Texas began notifying charities and other non-profit groups that they could be sued for helping Syrian refugees.