Stop Trying to Make “Hail Satan” Happen, Greg Abbott (UPDATED)

Greg Abbott never could decide exactly how to respond to the stunt planned by his former staffer, Lorenzo Garcia, who is currently the UT chapter chair of Young Conservatives of Texas. As Joe Deshotel describes at Burnt Orange Report, he first threw Garcia under the bus, but then decided this was a good opportunity for political cheap shots. Most notable, of course, was his attempt to resurrect the “Hail Satan” nontroversy from this summer. He couldn’t even do that right, of course, claiming that it was a series of chants during Wendy Davis’ filibuster. It actually occurred during the protests that started with the second special session, and by all appearances it was actually a handful (at most) of kids who clearly did not realize that many people would actually take them seriously.

I tried to find any media coverage of the incident that wasn’t overblown and sensational. U.S. News and World Report called it heckling, which seems fair. The Blaze offered a grudgingly fair assessment with a shout-out to the nutters: “Obviously, it is much more likely that the abortion supporters were chanting ‘Hail Satan!’ to mock pro-lifers rather than actually hailing Lucifer, but anything is possible.” Of course, Natural News (via Infowars, of course), let the crazy fly:

Obviously, not all abortion activists are Satan worshippers, but you’ll notice that none of them have denounced the Satanists, either. By failing to denounce it, they effectively embrace and welcome Satan worship as part of their cause. [Emphasis in original.]

Somewhat hilariously, the episode drew the ire of actual Satanists: Continue reading


You Can’t Argue With Folks Who See a Different Reality Than You

The following is an excerpt from a conversation between Washington Post reporter Jonathan Capehart and Belmont, NC resident David Jackson:

Capehart: [Y]ou — and correct me if I’m wrong, I’ve been listening to you these last few minutes — you don’t think President Obama loves this country?

Jackson: Not at all. Not one bit, not one breath that comes out of his body.

Capehart: So why would he run for president of a country that he doesn’t love?

Jackson: Because he wanted to change it.

Capehart: And change into what?

Continue reading


Quick Reference Guide to the Shutdown/Debt Ceiling Deal

I haven’t written much about the government shutdown debacle of the past 2+ weeks, partly because of the Thumper Rule (“If you can’t say something nice…” Not that I ever really follow that rule.) I am still gathering my thoughts about the almost-literally-last-minute deal that seems to have kicked the can down the road a bit.

Paul Waldman at The American Prospect has a quick guide to the deal that outlines the various points and offers “an easy-to-digest set of opinions you can adopt as your own.” This should appeal to conservatives who believe that liberals are incapable of independent thought. (If that last sentence describes you, please keep reading, just in case I decide to put some erotic pictures of guns at the end of this post.) Here are his points with the conclusions. Read the whole article for his full analysis: Continue reading


Modern Politics and Joseph Heller

20130922-192041.jpgIf ever there was a character who managed to be memorable without inspiring many specific memories, it would have to be Major Major Major Major from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. (I enjoyed the book immensely, but mostly only remember Major Major’s tragic haplessness.) Heller’s ridiculously clasic novel also proved to be quite prescient, as Atrios noted:

From Catch-22.

Major Major’s father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie about his age. He was a longlimbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged indi­vid­u­al­ist who held that fed­er­al aid to any­one but farm­ers was creep­ing social­ism. He advo­cat­ed thrift and hard work and dis­ap­proved of loose women who turned him down. His spe­cial­ty was alfal­fa, and he made a good thing out of not grow­ing any. The gov­ern­ment paid him well for every bushel of alfal­fa he did not grow. The more alfal­fa he did not grow, the more money the gov­ern­ment gave him, and he spent every penny he didn’t earn on new land to increase the amount of alfal­fa he did not pro­duce. Major Major’s father worked with­out rest at not grow­ing alfal­fa. On long win­ter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend har­ness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make cer­tain that the chores would not be done. He invest­ed in land wise­ly and soon was not grow­ing more alfal­fa than any other man in the coun­ty. Neigh­bors sought him out for advice on all sub­jects, for he had made much money and was there­fore wise. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” he coun­seled one and all, and every­one said, “Amen.”

Major Major’s father was an out­spo­ken cham­pi­on of econ­o­my in gov­ern­ment, pro­vid­ed it did not inter­fere with the sacred duty of gov­ern­ment to pay farm­ers as much as they could get for all the alfal­fa they pro­duced that no one else want­ed or for not pro­duc­ing any alfal­fa at all. He was a proud and inde­pen­dent man who was opposed to unem­ploy­ment insur­ance and never hes­i­tat­ed to whine, whim­per, whee­dle and extort for as much as he could get from whomev­er he could.

Our pol­i­tics never changes.


The New York Times Says Something Mildly Critical of Profit-Driven Healthcare; Conservatives Predictably Lose Their Damn Minds

983494_13007489From the din certain people on the right have been making, they apparently think that the New York Times has the unilateral power to set American domestic economic policy. Someone really needs to explain to some people the difference between offering an opinion on a matter of public interest and tyrannically imposing dictates. Newspapers generally do the former. Very, very, very few people do the latter.

The pages of the New York Times featured a rather poorly-sourced, polemical piece by Eduardo Porter entitled “Health Care and Profits, a Poor Mix.” He cites a 1984 study that found that for-profit nursing homes used far more sedatives on their patients than comparable nursing homes that were affiliated with churches, and therefore non-profit. The reason, according to Porter (citing other authors), was that sedatives are cheaper than caregivers, and it is better for the bottom line to dope up your residents as opposed to hiring trained staffers who can provide individual attention and treatment.

That sounds perfectly rational, actually. Is Porter right? Well, he only has the one study that was published during Reagan’s first term, along with a scattered assortment of other academic papers. That hardly builds up to a mountain of evidence indicting profit-driven nursing homes. There is a certain amount of common-sense appeal to the idea that nursing home administrators who are principally beholden to corporate shareholders have greater incentive to cut corners, and it certainly happens all the time. Nonprofit healthcare facilities, however, don’t exactly get to write blank checks for state-of-the-art care. Their motivation might be to stretch the money out until the next grant check arrives. Porter’s article raises some good questions, but does not give us enough information to state a definitive preference.

Of course, that doesn’t stop some people from going apoplectic. See, Porter committed the cardinal sin of saying something mean about the free market. The free market—sorry, the Free Market—is always right. Because shut up.

A Google search of the two authors of the 1984 study, Bonnie Svarstad and Chester Bond, yields a treasure trove of overreaction. (Incidentally, their paper, “The Use of Hypnotics in Proprietary and Church-Related Nursing Homes,” does not appear to be available online, so none of us can check Porter’s work.) Let us bring on the hysterics! Continue reading


Kay Bailey Hutchison Gets It (Better Late Than Never)

473px-Kay_Bailey_Hutchison,_official_photo_2Retiring Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison recently opined on how her party (the Republicans) really blew it with women voters:

“When we talk about women’s issues and the social issues, people have to stop acting like the woman is a throw-away here,” the Texas senator, who is retiring, said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “We’ve got to talk to women about the issues they care about.”

[Emphasis added.] I noticed something during the campaign when certain Republican candidates discussed issues pertaining to anyone who did not fit the affluent white Christian male demographic. It seemed to me like they tended to talk about people in those groups (e.g. women, people of color, LGBT people), but they rarely if ever talked to them. I’m not just referring to the more abhorrent of the Republican field, a la Todd Akin. Even Mitt Romney had a tendency, when addressing women’s issues, to speak as though he were discussing abstract concepts, rather than deeply-held concerns that affect the lives of more than half of the people in this country.

I don’t see how the Republican party can stop being the party of old, rich, white, Christian men, and those who aspire to belong to their club, without more soul-searching and compromise than is possible. Then again, people sang dirges to the demise of the Republican Party in 2006 and 2008, and the same was said of the Democratic Party in 2004 and 2010. It is impossible to say what will happen to the two parties with which we are stuck, but it is fun to guess.

I’m just glad to see that there is at least one Republican senator – albeit a retiring one – who is getting a clue.

Photo credit: “Kay Bailey Hutchison, official photo 2” by United States Congress. ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


My less-celebratory thoughts on the election results, as shamelessly stolen from this legal blog that I like

Because of this compulsive need I have to share my thoughts on things, I tend to write a lot. I also tend to delete much of what I write because it felt good to get it out onto a screen, but no one actually needs to read it. Every so often I type a response to someone’s Facebook post, decide the world will be just fine and dandy without my contribution to the discussion, and then hit Enter instead of Delete by accident.

Hilarity rarely ensues when that happens.

The internet is not short of celebrations today. It’s also not short on eschatological rantings, which should not be surprising. The internet does not need me whooping and hollering, and I need to be packing for my big move anyway (more on that later, I’m sure.) Fortunately, I frequent the blogs of people who seem to manage their time better than I do, at least judging my their published output.

Ken at Popehat, who you should be following if you are not already, offered his post-election thoughts Wednesday morning. I do not agree with everything Ken has to say there, but he hit the nail on the head for me in a section entitled “I’m not happy Obama won.” I’m borrowing the section that hit home for me, or at least that expresses the ambivalence I feel on certain issues:

Romney might have been somewhat more belligerent on the international stage than Obama, though their foreign policy differences seemed to be mostly matters of degree and recrimination for Obama’s mishandling of Benghazi. Romney would surely have continued the ruinous War on Drugs, the steady one-way ratchet of the insipid “tough on crime” mindset, the post-9/11 security state, and the unprincipled asterisk grafted onto the Constitution that is the open-ended War on Terror. My chief concern is that because Obama — a Democrat widely (but inaccurately) classified as a liberal — is doing those things, they will become even more firmly entrenched and normalized.

Guantanamo. Drone attacks. Surveillance. Bradley Manning. The list of matters where I diverge sharply with the Obama administration may not be extensively long, but it goes to the very heart of some pretty fundamental concepts of government checks and balances, not to mention big abstract nouns like liberty. These issues never came up during the election because, at least in that context, the two candidates barely differed at all. I cannot commiserate with Obama’s opponents on the right on any of these issues because these are the issues that make him look like a Republican.

I might also argue that his economic policies are really just Republican Lite, and that anyone who thinks he’s some sort of Marxist is either ignorant of actual Marxism, delusional, or a shameless liar, but it’s late and I’m tired. We have four more years to try vainly to explain that Obama cannot be a socialist and a fascist at the same time, or that he is neither at any rate.


The Bluest County in Texas

Austin often seems like a blue island in a sea of red. Yesterday, Travis County (which includes Austin) went for President Obama by 60%, according to Fox News. Yes, I’m relying on Fox News’ election returns. Let it never be said that I don’t occasionally slum it online. Of course, the state overall went 57% for Romney. It got me wondering, though, since we vote precinct-by-precinct, county-by-county, and then the winner takes all at the state level, what is the actual Bluest County in Texas?

Starr County, Texas.

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Screen capture from

The area has likely been inhabited for 11,000 years. Europeans first arrived there in 1638, when Jacinto García de Sepulveda went looking for Dutch sailors rumored to be on the Gulf coast. That really has nothing to do with yesterday’s election, though.

Starr County went 86% for Barack Obama. Romney drew a paltry 13%. Fox News does not provide a breakdown for other parties, literally lumping them in the “Other” category.

According to the 2011 Census Bureau estimate, 61,715 people live in Starr County. Of those, 95.6% are “of Hispanic or Latino Origin.” A language other than English is spoken in the homes of 96.0% of the county’s residents. The county borders the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The county seat, Rio Grande City, has a population of roughly 13,834 people, and is the birthplace of Lieutenant General (ret.) Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded the coalition ground forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004.

The county also seems to have a corruption problem. A former sheriff pleaded guilty to federal drug conspiracy charges in May 2009 and received a 64-month prison sentence. A deputy sheriff was charged with federal bribery, extortion, and drug charges in July 2012.

That’s all I’ve got. I just thought it was interesting.

Photo credit: Screen capture from


“Here, have a taco”

With the news of Meat Loaf’s endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, it may be worth taking a moment to remember his finest performance. While Meat Loaf has undoubtedly had a distinguished career, it was his duet with Chef for 1998’s Chef Aid album that stands above all the rest, including his consumption of an animated taco on a two-dimensional stage.

South Park – Chef Aid – Tonight Is Right for Love from Stanley Trent on Vimeo.



The Libertarian Dream World

Ian Boudreau seems to have captured the idealistically ethereal nature of libertarian ideas in today’s political discourse: