For Religious Conservatives, the War Against Gay Rights is Already Lost

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the recent and rapid advance of gay
rights over the past few years -- and the past few months in particular
-- has been watching the Baghdad Bob-like insistence on the far-right
that the battle against the Homosexual Menace can still be won. For
those of you who might not remember, "Baghdad Bob" was a nickname given to Saddam Hussein's Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf. He earned notoriety for being the worst propagandist anyone had ever seen, insisting that the defense of Iraq from the Dubya
invasion was going great for Hussein -- at one point telling reporters
there were no Americans in Baghdad while our tanks rolled around in the

The right's approach to the advance of gay rights and gay acceptance has
been complete denial to a ludicrous degree. For people who talk about
liberty and freedom a lot, they sure don't seem to have a lot of use for

At the head of all this stupid, you're generally going to find Michele Bachmann. Yesterday was no exception.

Raw Story: Appearing on CNN’s
The Situation Room, and speaking before Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062
which would have effectively legalized discrimination based on
religious grounds, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) explained to Wolf Blitzer that a veto would “eviscerate” freedom of speech.

Asked by host Blitzer what she thinks Governor Jan Brewer should do with
the bill sitting on her desk, Bachmann replied that we need to have
“tolerance” for people on both sides of the issue.

“I think what we need to do is respect both sides. We need to respect
both opinions,” Bachmann replied. “And just like we need to observe
tolerance for the gay and lesbian community, we need to have tolerance
for the community of people who hold sincerely held religious belief.”

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: the right to discriminate is not
religious freedom. It's the opposite. When you give everyone the right
to be as oppressive as their dark, hating hearts desire, the result is
not more freedom, but more oppression. This is what Libertarians
constantly fail to understand and this is why hate-filled intellectual
lightweights like Bachmann love Libertarian arguments so much. They
aren't pro-freedom, they're pro-oppression. It's the same with the Obamacare
contraception coverage debate -- forcing your employees to abide by
your religious beliefs is not religious freedom, it's state-sanctioned
religious oppression.

So when a Bible-beating dope like Bachmann tells you something is about
freedom or liberty, it's not. It's about the opposite. If Michele
Bachmann gave a damn about religious liberty, she wouldn't be such a tireless fearmonger when it came to Muslims.

But the bigger and dumber argument is that we have to tolerate the intolerance of bigots like Bachmann and other SB1062
supporters -- or we are ourselves intolerant. This is an incredibly
stupid argument specifically designed to turn logic on its head. It
would make the people denouncing white supremacists or
counter-protesters at a Westboro Baptist funeral protest the real
bigots. This is not an argument that can survive in the wild. "Tolerate
my intolerance, hater!" is just as stupid and illogical as it sounds

Meanwhile, similar pro-discrimination bills are dropping like flies
all around the country. None made it as far as Arizona's, so they
didn't get the same amount of coverage. And, as I spent yesterday pointing out, no challenge to a state same-sex marriage ban has failed since the Supreme Court's Windsor decision -- a fact that handed the Michele Bachmanns of the world yet another loss yesterday.

The tide in the right's fight against the Creeping Homosexual Menace
isn't turning, it's turned. The war is all but over and the fierce
denials from the homophobe chorus only serve to (barely) delay the
inevitable. Those tanks behind the Baghdad Bob-like Michele Bachmann
aren't from the Religious Conservatives' advance force -- they're flying
rainbow flags.

And it's time for the dead-enders to wave white ones.


[photo via Wikimedia Commons]


One Good Reason to Raise the Minimum Wage: the 99% Want Their Money Back

Protesters demand a liveable wage
What's a big factor in driving up deficits and government spending? Lazy, no-good moochers on welfare, getting a free ride.

Aljazeera America:
State and local governments have awarded at least $110 billion in
taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer
than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of
corporate welfare revealed today.

Boeing ranks first, with 137 subsidies totaling $13.2 billion, followed
by Alcoa at $5.6 billion, Intel at $3.9 billion, General Motors at $3.5
billion and Ford Motor at $2.5 billion, the new report by the nonprofit
research organization Good Jobs First shows.

Dow Chemical had the most subsidies, 410 totaling $1.4 billion, followed
by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway holding company, with 310 valued
at $1.1 billion.

The figures were compiled from disclosures made by state and local
government agencies that subsidize companies in all sorts of ways,
including cash giveaways, building and land transfers, tax abatements
and steep discounts on electric and water bills.

Meanwhile, families in poverty are having trouble getting by -- because
government supposedly can't afford to pay for things like food stamps or
the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Welfare reform was supposed to lift people out of poverty, but it's done the opposite. And it was all predictable.

After Clinton signed welfare reform into law, families were basically
given one chance to get out of poverty, then they'd be trapped there for
life. You had a lifetime cap on welfare payments, then you were on your
own. After Clinton signed the bill into law, payday loan shark
businesses sprouted up like mushrooms all over the nation. These
businesses prey on people in need, trapping them in a debt cycle with
incredible interest rates and eliminating any hope of ever being able to
escape poverty. According to ThinkProgress, the number of families in poverty who missed out on welfare benefits was 28%. Today, it's 74%.

As programs to eliminate poverty go, TANF -- the program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC
or "welfare as we know it") -- blows. It does exactly the opposite of
what was promised. When a handful of people have to switch from crappy
health coverage, that law needs to be scrapped. When a law that was
supposed to reduce poverty instead has families paying loans with
massive interest rates just to stay in a flea bag apartment in the worst
side of town, that law is somehow inviolate. In fact, there's no
shortage of Republicans who'll tell you it has to be made even worse.

But where is money being thrown away here. If Warren Buffet stops
getting a tax credit for merely existing, if the Koch brothers get cut
off from oil subsidies, if Wall Street has to pay higher taxes, are they
going to go broke. Will we see JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon living out of a pay-by-the-week motel room, rolling a 40% interest payment over and over just to make the rent?

I doubt it. Yet they're the ones getting all the welfare. Worse, we
don't even pretend that the handouts we give Wall Street are designed to
get the super-rich's snouts out of the government troughs. Whereas
welfare for people in poverty is supposed to get people off welfare,
handouts for the rich keep coming, no questions asked. Need a tax break
to build your new office complex or hotel? Sure! We don't even need to
check and see if you need the money. Which is good, because it's 100%
guaranteed that you don't.

And here's the thing. No one in government actually keeps track of how
much we spend total in corporate welfare. In order to find out, you have
to do an in-depth study. "The best estimate of total state and local
subsidies comes from Professor Kenneth Thomas, a political scientist at
the University of Missouri at St. Louis. In 2010 he calculated
the annual cost at $70 billion. No serious challenge has been made to
this conservatively calculated figure, which in 2014 dollars comes to
$75 billion. That is about $240 per person — nearly $1,000 annually for a
family of four," Aljazeera reports. "That amounts to more than a week’s take-home pay for a median-income family with two parents and two children."

That's a massive transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1%. A huge heist
that goes on every day, unreported and untracked. "Class warfare" is
actually underselling it. We've created an American aristocracy.

A grand a family and what do we have to show for it? Income inequality
at historic levels. All this corporate welfare doesn't seem to be doing
one helluva
lot, other giving wealthy money-hoarders more money to hoard. At this
point, raising the minimum wage would be justified even if the economy
was going gangbusters -- just as a way to force these platinum-plated
welfare queens to pay a few of the taxpayers back. At least them we'd
get something back from this massive raid on taxpayers'
pocketbooks. We need to do much. much more to level the playing field
and actually get people out of poverty, but raising the minimum wage
would be a good start and the very least we can do. Those wages will be
spent, benefiting everyone.

We've got our welfare policy bass-ackwards
and wrong. Unless we turn it completely around, things are never going
to get any better. Raising the minimum wage is a step toward reversing a
transfer of wealth that's moving in entirely the wrong direction.


[photo via The All-Nite Images]


Better Pay, More Independent Workers -- No Wonder GOP Hates Obamacare

Pro-Obamacare demonstrators
The bad news keeps coming for the anti-Obamacare right. Not only did a Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday detail how the Affordable Care Care would empower workers to work fewer hours if they chose, but further examination of the report finds even more good news for America's working people. Talking Points Memo's Dylan Scott is once again on the ball:

TPM spoke with... top economists who agreed with [this] analysis: People choosing to work less because of Obamacare, as CBO projects, would mean higher wages.

"That stands to reason. You get this sorting effect," Dean Baker, co-founder of the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research. "You have a lot of people working now who don't want to work. The only way they can get insurance is through their employer."

Those people retire or cut back their hours or otherwise lower their participation in the labor market -- a possibility that CBO raised itself -- reducing the labor supply. Over the long term, that drives up wages. Baker said that CBO said as much in its analysis: The report projected that total hours worked would drop by as much as 2 percent by 2024 because of Obamacare, but total compensation would fall only 1 percent.

Supply and demand: reality's greatest defender -- at least, in matters economic.

It's a pretty simple concept; if American workers work fewer hours, that doesn't mean that the workload they used to carry no longer needs to get done. As the supply of work hours drops, the demand automatically rises. When demand for labor rises, wages rise. Workers can demand more to work the same hours -- although in reality this will probably manifest as employer-designed incentive programs to keep employees at the workplace longer. Workers won't have to actually make that demand, because employers will beat them to the punch with the offer.

This has always been at the heart of Republican fearmongering over Obamacare. Before, many employees were trapped in jobs they didn't like or were working more hours than they preferred, because leaving or cutting back would mean losing their necessary health insurance. If insurance is no longer contingent on full-time employment, workers are free to pursue other interests, create more family-friendly work schedules, cut back to part time as the get closer to retirement, or even retire earlier. Employers do not like this and the big corporations who make up the GOP's funding base are big employers.

The ironic thing is that this all plays to the sort of things that Republicans are always talking about. It's not hard to foresee an increase in entrepreneurship, as employees leave companies or cut back hours to pursue their dreams. We'll probably see growth in self-employed or partially self-employed workers. American workers will be able to be more independent, more self-reliant, more able to take the risks required to start up a small business.

But of course when Republicans talk about this stuff, it's all happy horsecrap. It's a sales pitch, not an aspiration. If you still need proof of that, I don't know what to tell you. Why do they want to repeal a law that will increase entrepreneurship -- oh, and decreases the deficit at the same time? You think the big businesses the GOP represents wants a whole bunch of small businesses popping up and competing with them?

When the CBO report came out yesterday, the initial reporting on it was terrible -- journalistic malpractice, pure and simple. But the earlier crap reporting by the mainstream press is being corrected, while the more partisan media outlets never get it right anyway. If you watch Fox News, you want to be lied to and you'll hate Obamacare no matter what. And of course, reality will do some heavy lifting when 2 million jobs fail to evaporate and employees' compensation begins to rise.

That's the problem with spin -- eventually, it'll be proven wrong. Especially when it's based on a deliberate misunderstanding of the facts.


[photo by LaDawna Howard]


Tea Party on RiNO Safari in Kentucky

Mitch McConnell
It's 2014, an election year, which means it's time for a good ol' fashioned RiNO hunt. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, RiNO stands for "Republican in Name Only" and is meant to indicate a GOP sell-out to moderation or even liberalism -- but in reality, it's come to mean a heretic in the cult of Tea Party purity. Democrats, liberals, and various and sundry other commies, behold of the wonder of the RiNO safari and rejoice.

CNN: A conservative group is launching a new campaign which calls on "the GOP leadership in both the House and the Senate to step aside."

ForAmerica told CNN that it's putting six figures behind its "Dump the Leadership" campaign between now and November's leadership elections.

The group says that its digital ads will target House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn, and the group adds that the first paid spots are now up online.

ForAmerica has been put together by ultra-conservative one man noise machine Brent Bozell. Brent is... Well, Brent's an interesting character -- if by "interesting" you mean an unrelenting, fiery ball of seething hatred, ridiculous lies, and perpetual victimhood. Also interesting (in the more traditional sense) is Bozell's reason for this RiNO hunt.

"Time and again, year after year, the Republican leadership in the House and Senate has come to grassroots conservatives, and Tea Party supporters pleading for our money, our volunteers, our time, our energy and our votes," Bozell told CNN. "In return they have repeatedly promised not just to stop the liberal assault on our freedoms and our national treasury, but to advance our conservative agenda. It's been years. There is not a single conservative accomplishment this so-called 'leadership' can point to."

There's a reason for that failure to advance the agenda -- conservative leadership spends way too much time listening to extremists like Brent Bozell. The government shutdown, the debt limit fiasco; these aren't exactly the children of Republican moderates. The Tea Party's demand for everything they want, right now, with no compromise whatsoever is a lousy strategy to get anything done. Replacing the leadership with Tea Party purists is not going to fix the problem Bozell thinks he sees.

In fact, the effort itself can only hurt Bozell's cause, as reality demonstrates.

Talking Points Memo: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is tied with his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, at 42 percent each in a new poll by conservative-leaning firm Rasmussen Reports.

Six percent preferred neither of them, and 10 percent were undecided, according to the survey, which was released Monday.

Rasmussen's polls came under fire during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles for regularly overstating the standing of Republican candidates.

Rasmussen's poll shows the person Bozell and ForAmerica would prefer -- Matt Bevin -- actually doing better against Grimes in the general. But the most recent polling shows that Bevin has no hope at all of winning the Republican primary in Kentucky. Barring some earthshattering scandal or the incumbent's untimely demise, Mitch McConnell will win the primary and advance to the general. The man has a better than 20-point lead.

Which means that Brent Bozell and company are going to throw money at a candidate who's almost certainly going to lose the GOP primary, dirtying and roughing up the Republican who's just as certain to win. Mitch McConnell will not come out of this smelling like a rose, to say the least, and the man who's already the least popular senator in the US goes into a race even less popular than before. And that's a race where poll averages show him slightly behind. SPOILER ALERT: that's not going to help Republicans keep that seat.

After the race is over, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will probably be sending Brent Bozell a box of chocolates and a thank you card.

And while McConnell's case is an extreme example, it's still an important one. Other targeted Republicans probably won't be taken down so easily and ForAmerica's money will, for the most part, be wasted. But in a year where the GOP has hopes of retaking the Senate, throwing a seat away like this could spell disaster. And the fact that it's the Senate Minority Leader himself would only be a PR coup for Dems.

It also shows just how counterproductive conservative extremist tantrums and RiNO hunts can be. No wonder GOP leadership are going to war with the Tea Party. The 'baggers are true believers -- and true believers would rather destroy the party than allow it to be run by anyone other than purists.


[photo by Gage Skidmore]