Justin's Political Corner

Jul 28

Teen daughter of Tea Party Loudons dating 50-something actor : Lifestyles -

She’s just another deranged Tea Party nutbar.

h/t: Joe Holleman at STLToday.com

Fast Food Workers Will Now Use Civil Disobedience In Their Fight For Higher Wages -

h/t: Bryce Covert at Think Progress Economy

We are now officially at a tipping point in marriage equality. We’re likely to have marriage equality nationwide before the 2016 presidential election. Wow.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

Limbaugh Revises Obama's Remarks To Cast Him As Apathetic On Female Genital Mutilation -

Rush Limbaugh accused President Obama of refusing to rebuke the practice of female genital mutilation while speaking to a group of young African leaders, cherry-picking from his remarks to mischaracterize Obama’s very clear condemnation of the practice as a “barbaric” tradition that “needs to be eliminated.”

President Obama spoke on Monday at a town-hall-style meeting honoring the Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders, urging guests to abandon oppressive traditions, such as female genital mutilation and polygamy, in favor of progress.

Cherry-picking from Obama’s remarks, Rush Limbaugh accused the president of refusing to condemn the practice of female genital mutilation on the July 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show. Limbaugh claimed Obama only halfheartedly stated, “‘Female genital mutilation is not a tradition worth hanging onto,’” and implied Obama’s statement didn’t go far enough, claiming "he didn’t condemn female genital mutilation. That would have been telling Africans what to do, and he would never impose his views on them because we’re from the U.S. and who are we":

Limbaugh further suggested that rather than condemn the practice, Obama would advise Africans to simply contract out mutilation to the terror group Boko Haram. 

In reality, President Obama actually called female genital mutilation a “barbaric” tradition that “needs to be eliminated”:

OBAMA: Now, I have to say there are some traditions that just have to be gotten rid of. And there’s no excuse for them. You know, female genital mutilation, I’m sorry, I don’t consider that a tradition worth hanging onto. I think that’s a tradition that is barbaric and should be eliminated. Violence towards women, I don’t care for that tradition. I’m not interested in it. It needs to be eliminated.

h/t: Chance Seales at MMFA

BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban -


WASHINGTON — The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held Monday that Virginia’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages is unconstitutional.

On a 2-1 vote, the appeals court joined the wave of court decisions declaring such bans unconstitutional. The decision, by Judge Henry Floyd acknowledged both the debate over such laws and, in the court’s view, the clear constitutional impediment to laws banning same-sex couples from marrying.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” he wrote. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”

In considering the matter, Floyd, joined by Judge Roger Gregory, ruled, “The Virginia Marriage Laws … impede the right to marry by preventing same-sex couples from marrying and nullifying the legal import of their out-of-state marriages. Strict scrutiny therefore applies in this case.”

Judge Paul Niemeyer dissented from the decision, writing, “Because there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and there are rational reasons for not recognizing it, just as there are rational reasons for recognizing it, I conclude that we, in the Third Branch, must allow the States to enact legislation on the subject in accordance with their political processes.”

The court heard arguments in the case in May.

Read the opinion.

Source: Chris Geidner for Buzzfeed

BarbWire.com: When A Hate Group Creates Its Own Conservative "News" Site | Equality Matters -

The vice president of a notorious right-wing legal organization has spent much of 2014 developing one of the most extreme anti-LGBT “news” sites on the internet. Now he’s using the site to hawk a treasure trove of right-wing merchandise and souvenirs.

In January of 2014, Liberty Counsel vice president Matt Barber launched BarbWire.com, a website that claims to offer news and opinion “from a decidedly biblical worldview.”

Though BarbWire isn’t exclusively an anti-LGBT website – the site spares some vitriol for immigrantsMuslimsreproductive choice, and President Barack Obama – LGBT topics have dominated its content since its inception. BarbWire’s first post championed Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for his comments comparing gay people to murderers and equating homosexuality with bestiality. 

In its short existence, the site has featured commentary some of America’s most notorious homophobes; Scott Lively, an American pastor closely linked to anti-LGBT persecution in Uganda and Russia; the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who blames gay men for the HolocaustLaurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, another anti-LGBT hate group; and Robert Oscar Lopez, an anti-gay activist who has made a second career of publishing bizarre gay erotica novels.

Unsurprisingly, BarbWire has become a hub for the kind of anti-LGBT propaganda that even many conservative news sites shy away from:


But BarbWire is more than just a platform for publishing the Right’s more unsavory anti-LGBT sentiments – it’s also a money-making scheme for Liberty Counsel’s Barber.

In July, subscribers to BarbWire’s mailing list began receiving emails peddling products from Patriot Depot, a website that offers “supplies for the conservative revolution.”

There’s the “’Say Hello To My Little Friend’ Garden Gnome,” available for $18.95:

A tin “Don’t Tread On Me” sign could be yours for $14.95:

You could purchase an “Obama’s Last Day Countdown Clock” for $12.95:

And nothing will stick it to liberals quite like Rise, Kill, & Eat, a paean to “edible wildlife” from “Genesis to Revelation” featuring a foreword by Ted Nugent:

Both BarbWire.com and Patriot Depot are part of Liberty Alliance, a network of conservative web sites and web stores. 

BarbWire And Liberty Counsel

BarbWire’s anti-LGBT extremism closely mirrors the work Barber is known for at Liberty Counsel.

Led by Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel is the legal arm of the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University. Billed as a nonprofit “litigation, education, and policy organization,” Liberty Counsel is notorious for championing even the most extreme anti-gay causes in the name of religious freedom. The organization defended Scott Lively against a federal human rights lawsuit stemming from his role in a 2009 bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda. While Liberty Counsel fancies itself as a serious conservative legal organization, it also churns out bombastic statements denouncing LGBT-inclusive education as “sexual assault” on the nation’s children.

Despite his fondness for fringe causes, Staver’s connections in conservative media and politics have helped elevate Liberty Counsel to a prominent position on the Religious Right. A close associate of Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Staver is a repeat guest on Fox and has testified before Congress in support of “ex-gay” therapy. In recent weeks, Liberty Counsel garnered headlines for defending Florida’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

And though Liberty Counsel is not formally affiliated with BarbWire.com, Staver hasn’t hesitated to be a frequent contributor to his deputy’s website. (Sample headlines: “Obama Puts Homosexual Rights Over Children’s Innocence,” “Sharia Law Is A Growing Threat To American Culture,” and “36,000 New Reasons To Impeach Obama.”)

For years, conservative outlets like Fox have reliably offered Liberty Counsel favorable, accountability-free treatment, allowing figures like Staver to depict Liberty Counsel’s work as part of a noble effort to defend religious liberty and obscuring the group’s true extremism. Now, in order to disseminate that extremism unfiltered, the group’s vice president felt compelled to create his own “news” site – offering an ugly look at the animus that motivates his organization’s work.

See Also: Right Wing Watch’s archives about BarbWire.com

h/t: Luke Brinker at Equality Matters

The Rise Of Europe's Religious Right -

h/t: J. Lester Feder at BuzzFeed

Sarah Palin Wants A Piece Of Fox's Audience (And She's Employed By Fox) -

The Fox News Channel has more competition for its conservative audience, this time from one of its own employees.

Sarah Palin is launching the Sarah Palin Channel, an online “news channel” that will ”cut through the media’s politically correct filter” and address “the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about.” Rupert Murdoch launched his Fox News Channel in similar fashion by decrying the alleged liberal bias of the media, and targeting his channel to a disaffected audience.

Palin is a Fox News contributor who has a rocky history with her employer. Earlier this month she called for President Obama’s impeachment in an op-ed for Breitbart News. This came in apparent violation of her Fox contract, which reportedly “guarantees the cable-news leader exclusive rights to her work on television and on the Internet.” If that description of her contract is accurate, it’s unclear how the Sarah Palin Channel could be permitted under the terms of her agreement with Fox.

The Sarah Palin Channel is backed by TAPP, a company building “niche” digital channels and founded by former NBCU executive Jeff Gaspin and former CNN executive Jon Klein.  

Palin’s “news channel” joins an already crowded universe of networks attempting to whittle away at Fox News’ Republican audience.

Glenn Beck launched TheBlaze after his messy 2011 exit from the Fox News Channel. Beck’s network is accessible through Internet subscriptions, and several television operators. The Blaze and Palin’s channel both offer subscription plans for roughly $10 a month or $100 a year.

In June conservative publisher Christopher Ruddy launched Newsmax TV online and on providers like DirecTV and the Dish Network. Bloomberg Businessweek wrote that Ruddy wants Newsmax TV to be “a kinder, gentler Fox” and that Ruddy “doesn’t need to beat Fox News, he just needs to shave off a little of its audience—particularly those conservatives who feel Fox has drifted too far to the right. ‘If we take 10 to 15 percent of the Fox audience,’ he says, ‘and they are making $1 billion a year, then we are going to be hugely profitable.’”

San Diego-based Herring Broadcasting and The Washington Times launched One America News Network in July 2013. It caters to viewers “with self-described independent, conservative & libertarian values.” Charles Herring, president of Herring Broadcasting, “said his network also would provide a platform for a broader spectrum of voices on the right than Fox now offers.” One America has struggled to gain a foothold on cable networks, has a small social media presence (currently less than 4,000 Twitter followers), and lacks well-known conservative personalities.

RightNetwork, a network launched in 2010 by actor Kelsey Grammer and Philadelphia sports owner Ed Snider, failed in its mission to attract a Fox-like audience with programming featuring people like "Joe The Plumber." It went defunct in 2011. 

Other internet video ventures include Pajamas Media’s Next Generation TV, a “multimedia platform” for millennials whose most visible personality is former Daily Caller reporter Michelle Fields. The site gained notoriety when BuzzFeed reported that former Rep. Allen West (also a Fox News contributor) left the site “after an altercation with a female staffer in which he allegedly called her a ‘Jewish American princess.’” Former Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Herman Cain (whose subscription model has “withered away”) also have their own video sites. 

H/T: Eric Hananoki at MMFA

BREAKING: Confirmed: Congress reaches deal to reform VA health-care system, but the details of a plan aren't known yet -


After the massive scandal at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Congress reportedly reached an agreement on how to the fix the nation’s publicly run health-care system for veterans — despite at times appearing like both sides of the debate would fail to set a deal.

Negotiations between Senate Democrats and House Republicans seemingly broke down on Thursday, July 24, as both sides held dueling press conferences accusing each other of bad faith.

The negotiations appeared to be on much better ground as of the weekend, with staffers from both sides resuming discussions. House VA Chair Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Senate VA Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also agreed to fly back to Washington, DC, if it would push the negotiations forward.


On Sunday, congressional staffers confirmed they had reached a deal. Neither side disclosed details on what, exactly, the final compromise will look like. A joint press conference scheduled for Monday will presumably lay out the details of the plan.

"I can say that an agreement has been reached to deal with both the short-term and long-term needs of the VA," said Michael Briggs, a spokesperson for Sanders.

The debate centered around how Congress should fix a VA health-care system that simply doesn’t have enough doctors and staff for the number of patients it sees every year. The lack of capacity is one of the reasons schedulers and administrators in Phoenix and at other VA hospitals around the country manipulated records. The falsified reports made it look like VA hospitals were still hitting goals, which were linked to bonus payments, for seeing patients in a timely manner.

Before Congress reached a deal, they had to work through one remaining hurdle: funding.

The debate focused on money


Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the VA conference committee. (Win McNamee / Getty Images News)

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill passed by the Senate would cost $35 billion. The final cost will likely change in the final bill, but the high CBO estimate gives a rough idea of just how much money was being debated — and why a highly budget-conscious Congress had so much trouble reaching an agreement.

On Thursday, Miller released what he framed as a compromise between the original House and Senate proposals. The bill would, among other changes, fund a $10 billion, two-year pilot program that would let veterans get private care outside the VA system, allow the VA to hire more doctors, and establish more accountability measures.

But the bill didn’t include the full $17.6 billion in funding requested by the VA. The VA said the funds would help expand its infrastructure and hire new staff, including doctors, to get ahead of a surge of veterans coming home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Sanders spokesperson Briggs said the senator doesn’t necessarily want the final compromise to include all of the VA’s requested funding, but he would like to see at least some of it in a compromise.

House Republicans, a staffer said, would prefer to see the additional funding requested by the VA dealt with in separate discussions about broader budget bills. Republicans haven’t decided whether the request is too much, but they would like more time to work through the issue in separate budget negotiations to see what justifies such a big increase in funds and how the money should be appropriated.

Miller put it more candidly in a recent statement: “I am committed to giving VA the resources it needs to provide our veterans with the care and benefits they have earned. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last few months, it’s that we can’t trust VA’s numbers. That includes the $17.6 billion in additional funding Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson asked for today.”

No one expected to be completely happy with the final bill


A military veteran walks after having his prosthetic leg serviced at a VA hospital. (John Moore / Getty Images News)

Prior to reaching a deal, both sides said they would each need to ultimately give something up if they were to reach a deal in time for the August recess.

"We’re trying to reach a middle-ground that probably nobody will be completely happy with," Briggs said, "but it will do a lot of good for the VA and for veterans."

Some veterans advocates, meanwhile, don’t like the idea of putting veterans into private care. As they see it, veterans are multifaceted patients with all sorts of injuries, both mental and physical, that need a comprehensive, specialized approach that the VA is built to take on. The private system, on the other hand, is structured more for an everyday patient that might deal with fewer physical and mental health problems.

"I’m not sure that our members would benefit greatly from this legislation," Carl Blake of Paralyzed Veterans of America said. From Blake’s perspective, veterans with major disabilities, like those his organization represents, are never going to find the kind of care they need at a private hospital.


A major concern for veterans groups is that Congress will enact the two-year pilot program for private care, assume the VA’s problems have been fixed, and leave the system to deteriorate after the pilot program ends. That, veterans advocates argued, would leave the VA worse off than it is today, because the pilot program would expire at a time more veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will be entering the system.

Joe Violante, national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, said adding more funding to the system, as veterans advocates have recommended for years in independent budget proposals, is key to a successful bill that will leave the VA in better shape. He argued, “If they’re not going to ensure that there’s funding available for the VA to expand during these two years, I’d rather see them do nothing at this point.”

Congressional staffers confirmed on Sunday that Congress will do something, although the details of the deal weren’t disclosed. As they see it, the final compromise might not satisfy everyone, but it could help alleviate a system that’s been clearly strained by too many patients, too few doctors, and misguided regulations for years.

Update: This article was updated to reflect the announcement of a deal on Sunday.

Source: German Lopez for Vox

“a person’s a person no matter how small” — Dr. Seuss, a pro-choice advocate who publicly donated to Planned Parenthood and actively sued pro-life organizations for using this as a slogan. Stop using this to justify your bullshit pro-life ideals. Not even the original author of the phrase agrees with you.  (via celestialfucker)

(via pro-choice-or-no-voice)

Jul 27

Anti-Choice Groups Seek to Stack State Courts -

h/t: Zoe Greenburg at RH Reality Check

Ohio State Fires Marching Band Director For Tolerating Culture Of Harassment


Ohio State Fires Marching Band Director For Tolerating Culture Of Harassment

Jonathan Waters, the now-former director of the Ohio State University Marching Band, speaking at the 2013 Leading Through Excellence Summit. (Courtesy FisherCOE's Flickr feed)

Jonathan Waters, the now-former director of the Ohio State University Marching Band, speaking at the 2013 Leading Through Excellence Summit. (Courtesy FisherCOE’s Flickr feed)

The Ohio State University dropped a bombshell late Thursday afternoon when it announced it had fired the director of the world-famous Ohio State University Marching Band, Jonathan Waters, for tolerating of harassing and…

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New York Times Editorial Board Calls For Legalization Of Marijuana -


The most authoritative paper in the United States has put its weight behind the federal legalization of marijuana, a momentous endorsement in the prolonged fight to end to the criminalization of marijuana that has been in place since 1937.

Debuting what is to be a six-part seriesThe New York Times editorial board called for an end to the “prohibition” of marijuana, saying the current ban “[inflicts] great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.” The interactive series is to run from July 26 to August 5, beginning with Saturday’s editorial, “High Time: An Editorial Series on Marijuana Legalization.” An accompanying blog post by editor Andrew Rosenthal stated the decision to back legalizing marijuana was “long in the making,” and “as more and more states liberalized their marijuana laws in open defiance of the federal ban, it became clear to us that there had to be a national approach to the issue.”

The board argues that after weighing the pros and cons of legalization, the scale tips in favor of ending the ban. The Times acknowledges that there are concerns about certain forms of marijuana use, including that by minors. Thus, the board advocates for restricting sales of marijuana to those under the age of 21. Addressing other health, social and legal concerns, the board writes that “there are no perfect answers but neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol.” But as the Times argues, the concerns are outweighed by the “vast” social costs of marijuana laws.

From the Times editors:

There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

As Politico notes, the “The Times is the biggest U.S. newspaper to endorse the legalization of marijuana.” Adding to the significance is the Times’ history of being conservative when it comes to legalization. In 2013, an article stressed the dangers of more potent forms of marijuana as well as use of the drug by teenagers. Following Colorado’s legalization of marijuana in January 2014, a Times article sounded alarm over having more users of the drug behind the wheel. The article was accompanied by a photo of Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin in the film “Up in Smoke,” lighting up in a vehicle. Fears over food laced with marijuana being more accessible to children were sparked by tales of a rise in youth being taken to the emergency room after consuming snacks with the drug. As Washington state moved to join Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana, the Times wrote on the manyhurdles that medical marijuana providers would encounter. In June, the Times hosted an op-ed column where the writer said “Marijuana is more dangerous than many of us once thought,” pointing to a link between marijuana use and schizophrenia. And of course, there was New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s “bad trip,” where she detailed being “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours,” after trying a marijuana candy bar while on assignment.

Given the Times influence, it could be that the endorsement of federal legalization of marijuana could spur politicians, organizations and publications to do in kind. The Times’ endorsement is strengthened by the paper’s history on issues concerning marijuana and strong language, likening the ban on marijuana to the prohibition of alcohol. Set beside an interactive American flag where stars transform to marijuana leaves as readers scroll, the editorial opens:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The Times editors close with certainty, “It is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.”

President Barack Obama said in 2012 that prosecuting pot users in states that have legalized it would not be a top priority for his administration, telling ABC News’ Barbara Walters, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” The New York Times editorial board endorsement of legalizing marijuana counts as another key voice sounding for a change in how the U.S. approaches marijuana.

CORRECTION: 10:30 p.m. ET — This article previously stated that marijuana had been banned in the United States for 40 years. As Frontline notes, the Marijuana Tax Act effectively criminalized marijuana in the U.S. in 1937.

Explosive Report Uncovers Extreme Homophobia In Ohio State University’s Marching Band [TW: Anti-LGBT Bigotry, Homophobia] -


Ohio State University marching band director Jonathan Waters was abruptly fired this week, following a two-month investigation of the band’s rumored hazing rituals that found he witnessed and silently approved of the deeply offensive, disgusting and blatantly homophobic conduct happening among its members.

According to the report, obtained and published by Deadspin, band members kept a physical booklet that included the lyrics to the vulgar parody “fight songs” they wrote. While many of the songs are directly inspired by the fight songs of rival schools (“Come blow us, Michigan, Our cocks are waiting for you”), some of the most vulgar songs are totally out of left field.

Take, for instance, this one called “Proud to be a Homosexual”. Set to the tune of “God Bless the USA”, the chorus reads:

And I”m proud to be a homosexual,
Where at least I can run free.
And I won’t forget the fags with AIDS,
Who gave that right to me.
And I’ll gladly bend over,and spread my cheeks,
So you may sodomize me.


The lovely “Pieces of Baritone Shit” is even more shocking:

Bite my ass and lick my balls you mother fucking queers,
Get on your knees and tell me how the megaphone fits up your mother-fucking ass YOU GAY FAGS!
Lick my balls and lube up your ass,
Anal sex gives you nasty gas.
Fuck you, you big gay fags.
You pieces of Baritone shit!


Another song, titled “Brigham Young is a Goddamn Queer”, is…well…here:


The report also reveals the disgusting nicknames given to underclassmen, almost all inspired directly by sexual acts. A female student “pretending to be a vibrating sex toy” was named “E Row Vibrator”; a male student “conducting a full-body demonstration of a flaccid penis becoming erect” was “Jizzy.”

Other names given to students included “Jewoobs,” “Squirt,” “Testicles,” “Twat Thumper,” and “Twinkle Dick.”

As expected, the news has led to media hunt in search of Waters’ all-time lows. Early this morning, Ohio State University released an audio clip of Waters “disciplining” a band member:

The public, understandably, is outraged:

This Illini fan HATES Ohio State, and this is yet more reason I HATE them. 

Report: Over 2,500 Ground Zero Workers Have Cancer -


“I knew that day that a lot of us would get sick,” one retired FDNY captain told theNew York Post.

Last year, 1,140 cases of cancer were reported among Ground Zero responders and rescuers, but now the number has grown to over 2,500, the New York Post reports.

The World Trade Center Health Program at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital has a record of 1,655 responders with cancer among the total of 37,000 9/11 workers in its program, including police officers, sanitation workers, and city employees.

When firefighters and EMTs are added, the number of cancer cases rises to 2,518.

On Friday, the FDNY said that 863 of its members have been certified to receive 9/11-related treatment.

Crews with heavy equipment work at the ground zero site of the World Trade Center on Oct. 12, 2001. Reuters Photographer / Reuter / Reuters

World Trade Center epidemiologists report that 9/11 workers suffer from cancers at a much greater rate than seen in the general population, specifically lung cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma.

One retired FDNY captain, now 63, suffers from lung disease and inoperable pancreatic cancer. He worked at Ground Zero for a week following the attacks of September 11, and recently received $1.5 million from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

Th captain, who was not named, took control of a city bus and managed to close the Brooklyn Bridge after the terrorist attack so that he and his crew could rush to Ground Zero and join in the search for victims. He is one of hundreds who was forced to retire due to lung damage and other ailments.

The former fireman reportedly brought the Victim Compensation Fund Special Master Sheila Birnbaum to tears after he testified at a hearing in May and spoke on how much he loves his grandchildren and his wife of 40 years.

“I’m hoping they rush more cases like mine, where we’re not expected to last long,” he told the Post. “I knew that day that a lot of us would get sick.”

In this Oct. 11, 2001 file photo, firefighters make their way over the ruins of the World Trade Center AP Photo/Stan Honda, Pool, File

So far, the VCF has awarded 115 cancer patients with a total of $50.5 million, in sums ranging from $400,000 to $4.1 million.

Many more 9/11 responders or their next-of-kin are likely to file claimants by the Oct. 14 deadline.

Source: Alison Vingiano for Buzzfeed