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Welcome to The Asylum. Just as before, Josh is always right.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Attorneys General Are Pissing Me Off and Other News You Should Be Paying Attention To

It sure is a good thing that I don't get paid to write this blog, because if I did, it'd be a pretty paltry paycheck given how infrequently I've posted to it.  So to make up for lost time, let's just skip the formalities and go straight to what's on my mind these days, shall we?  We shall.

Let's Talk About Dishonest Lawyers, Part I (or, In What Way Is Pam Bondi Breaking The Law This Time?)

Florida's attorney general (who I cannot mention without pointing out that she believes so staunchly in the sanctity of marriage that she's on Fiancé #3 right now) is "expediting" the legal process by intentionally stalling it.

As The Advocate reports, Bondi told WPLG on Tuesday evening that she still plans to appeal the Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County rulings overturning the state's unconstitutional same-sex marriage ban directly to the Florida Supreme Court.  This despite the ruling of the Third District Court of Appeal (for Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties; Broward and Palm Beach are in the Fourth District) that, because these cases came from the county courts -- which are not the same as district courts -- they must first go through the appropriate district courts of appeal before they can be brought before the Florida Supreme Court.  A decision which is based on, you know, actual law (see subsection (b) (1) (A)).

And in case you're wondering, yes, what Bondi is doing here is WHOLLY illegal, and she could and should be disbarred for it. As per Florida Statute 57.105 (2):

At any time in any civil proceeding or action in which the moving party proves by a preponderance of the evidence that any action taken by the opposing party, including, but not limited to, the filing of any pleading or part thereof [...] was taken primarily for the purpose of unreasonable delay, the court shall award damages to the moving party for its reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, which may include attorney’s fees, and other loss resulting from the improper delay.

Which means that because Bondi is insisting that the Florida Supreme Court take up the case even though they procedurally cannot, the families she's fighting against can, as soon as she attempts to file the case, go to the state supreme court, move that she's pleading to cause unnecessary delay, and Bondi would be forced to abide by the lower court's ruling that she has to go through the appellate process first.

In other words, she's not only violating her oath of office by refusing to uphold the United States Constitution first and foremost, she's breaking state law to do it and violating one of the most basic rules of ethics in her profession. It's known on the federal level as Rule 11, and lawyers live and die by it.  And damnit, if Pam Bondi is gonna die by it, she's gonna die on her terms!  It's the juris equivalent of the mafioso in a noir movie shouting out the window of his getaway car, "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE, COPPAS!!!" just before crashing into a brick wall and bursting into flames.  What makes it especially egregious is that she's doing it to the detriment of thousands of people whom she swore an oath to protect.  The level of my disdain for this woman and her actions is beyond measure.

Governor Rick Scott, by the way, is almost just as awful a person for the very reasons that WPLG's Michael Putney pointed out on Sunday morningAlmost just as awful.  Not quite.  But almost.

Let's Talk About Dishonest Lawyers, Part II (or, Bill "The Will Of The People" Schuette Is A Despicable Human Being, But Then, We Already Knew That...)

It's pretty pathetic that Michigan's attorney general has had to fall back on human trafficking as a campaign issue to win points with a voting public who's had enough of him.

Let's take a look at the situation our fine William finds himself in:

  • He continues to violate his oath of office to defend the unconstitutional Michigan Marriage Amendment while insisting against all mathematical possibility that it was "the will of the people."
  • His unpopular (and illegal) attempts to undermine the state's medical marijuana laws continue to anger just about everyone, from seniors and their advocates to those of us who understand the failed "War on Drugs" to be nothing more than statist bullshit.  His antics even sparked several attempts at recall campaigns against him, though they unfortunately fizzled out.  Mostly because the people behind them didn't really know what they were doing.  Not that that excuses Bill's actions at all.  The folks had the right motives, they just didn't know how the system works.
  • Almost every major poll in the attorney general's race so far has put combined undecided/third-party voters at more than half of his support.  Meanwhile, his Democrat opponent, Mark Totten, is only two to twelve percentage points behind him... with a few ties, and even one poll putting Schuette behind Totten.  The Detroit News just finished up a poll that's making them nervous.  Hell, even Tim Skubick asked all the way back in July if Schuette was vulnerable, and if you've lost Tim Skubick, you've lost the election.  Schuette knows he has to do something to garner more support, and that something is apparently relying upon one of the most emotionally-charged issues available to run on.

That last point, of course, begs a few questions. For starters, if human trafficking is such an important issue to him, why is he only now making it a priority to publicly address it?  Has human trafficking become more of a problem during his first term? And if so, doesn't that mean that his efforts to fight it aren't working?  Because remember: the laws are already in place; he's simply pointing out that he's been using them.  So if what he's doing isn't working and the effort needs to be stepped up, whose fault is that?  Certainly not Totten's.  Certainly not yours or mine.  Who's the elected official in charge of taking these things to court?  Ah, yes!  That would be... Bill Schuette!

And just who in the political arena supports the criminalizing of kidnapped children who have been forced into sex work?  Is Totten going around telling people that the victims had it coming?  I highly doubt it.  You'd think that would have made the news by now if he had. 

And finally, when the hell did this step out of the realm of "something we should be doing without begging for credit" and into the world of "hey, look at me, I'm doing the most basic function of my job description, so even if I'm not going above and beyond, you should definitely vote for me!"

The man continues to sicken me.

And Speaking Of Douchebags In Michigan's Government, Rick Snyder!

Apologies to the Columbia University Marching Band for stealing their joke format.

To be fair, The Tough Nerd was the best candidate on the ballot the last time around, and given the options that were on that ballot, I'd vote for him again.  But we won't ever see that ballot again, and frankly, we could have done better.

Yes, Michigan needed a businessman in Lansing.  Governor 867-5309 did a real number on this state's economy -- long before the national and world economies decided to play along with her -- and only someone who actually knows how the economy works could have fixed the damage she left in her wake.  In that regard, Snyder was the smart choice, and it was obvious that most Michiganders understood that.  Otherwise, obviously, he wouldn't be in office right now.

Problem is, even going to the polls to pull the lever for him, most of us understood that there was a lot about his politics we didn't know.  For example, he (wisely) tended to avoid social issues on the campaign trail, and the deflections he replied with when asked didn't really inspire any hope that he was a social liberal.  In fact, he was (and still is) particularly adept at giving a repeated complete and total non-answer to questions about his position on same-sex marriage.  And that answer is this: he was elected to enforce the laws of the State of Michigan, and he will enforce the Michigan Marriage Amendment.  He will not answer whether or not he supports same-sex marriage either personally or politically, but simply that the MMA is state law, and his job is to enforce it.

Keep in mind that the unconstitutional Michigan Marriage Amendment was passed in 2004, so it had already been firmly established as state law by the time he was running for office in 2010.  And both of those elections took place quite some time before the now well-established support for marriage equality supposedly became the majority.

(I say "supposedly" there because it was the majority even before state bans became all the rage.  Those bans were nothing more than a result of Reagan's biggest mistake: tying social conservatism to fiscal conservatism in the Republican Party.  Every one of them came about at the same time Republicans won power, and you can thank Reagan for courting the religious nutjob wing as a campaign strategy.)

Today, however, the majority will not be silenced, and yet Snyder still refuses to give a clear answer on the topic.  He has stated that, quote, "I will respect what happens in our court system,"... buuuuuuuuut let's not get our hopes up just yet.  You'll notice that he said he will "respect what happens in our court system."  That doesn't necessarily mean that he'll abide by the 6th Circuit's ruling (whenever the hell they decide to make it), it could also mean that he's prepared to go to the Supreme Court with it.  The Detroit Free Press also points out that he has, in the past, stated his desire for the state legislature to take up the issue, which would say to me that he wants to find some legislative circumvention of the ban's inevitable courtroom demise.

You'll also notice that he said he will respect what happens.  There's no guarantee that Bill Schuette will, and Snyder was quoted by MLive shortly after Judge Bernard Friedman struck the MMA down, saying, "I'm not spending my time on the appeal nor did I spend my time on the lawsuit.  I'm spending my time on the implementation of what the law is."  Which draws an interesting parallel: two governors of states that I've lived in, both named Rick, both refusing to take responsibility for their attorney general's refusal to abide by now clearly established judicial precedent on the same issue, both with the authority -- and responsibility -- to put an end to this blatantly illegal discrimination once and for all, and both of them falling back on the entirely untruthful excuse that "that's not my job."

But social issues aren't the only front on which Nerd Boy's facing trouble; oh no!  Let's start with the right-to-work law.  Fantastic law.  I supported it 100% and I continue to stand by it.  He absolutely did the right thing by signing it into effect.  It is unquestionably one of the best moves this state's government has ever made.  But in the very heart of American unions?  It was political suicide.  It hasn't played a role in he or his opponents' advertising, and received nary a mention at the one gubernatorial debate.  But it didn't have to.  The moment that bill was signed into law, his numbers dropped drastically.  If he hadn't signed it, he'd be clobbering Mark Schauer right now.  He knew that would be the case when he did it, and I respect the hell out of him for it, because I would have done the same, but he's got a tough road ahead of him on that point alone.  I don't doubt he'll pull it off, especially since the third-party candidates are barely even showing up in the polls, but Schauer wouldn't have nearly the support that he does if Snyder hadn't passed right-to-work.  That's just how the game is played.

And now, he has an actual strike against his economic leadership credentials: protectionism for car dealership franchisees.  Long story short, Tesla Motors sells their cars directly.  Instead of signing franchise agreements with dealerships, they simply open up shop and do all the business themselves.  In Michigan, that was already illegal, but this new law goes a few steps further by prohibiting manufacturers from dictating transaction fees and explicitly requiring the manufacturers to sell through franchised dealerships.  And guess who came up with that language?  Why, the dealership lobby, of course!  (Oh yes, they exist.)  They slipped this in and poured the pressure on, and now Tesla, after publicly stating that they want to bring stores to Michigan, won't be able to do so.  Standing up for special interests when he feels like it?  That's One Tough Nerd.

Things Just Keep Getting Worse for Darren Wilson

You know that second autopsy of Michael Brown's body that came out last week?  Remember how it was played up in the media as vindicating his killer?  Yeah... if you had actually read the autopsy report instead of all the news stories about the autopsy report, you would know that it doesn't vindicate Wilson at all.  Actually, it confirms the eyewitness accounts and calls Wilson into question even moreso than before.

Let's start with the bullet wound to the thumb.  This shows that Michael Brown was shot in the thumb during the struggle in the vehicle, as the only time he was in close proximity to the gun was during that struggle.  Which begs the question: why did Wilson pull his gun while he was sitting inside his vehicle?  Firing a weapon in that enclosed space is insanely dangerous and irresponsible, even if the use is justified.  If the door was shut and Brown was trying to get in through it, Wilson should have grabbed the steering wheel, floored the gas pedal and rolled up the window, in that order.  Brown would have had to let go at some point.  But the wound to the thumb shows that Wilson's first reaction was to go for his gun.  That's gotta instill confidence in police training, huh?  The wise choice is to drive over or through your attacker, but the police choice is to pump lead whether justified or not.  I feel safer just thinking about it, don't you?

Then there's the skin left on the outside of the vehicle door.  Wilson pulled his gun and was threatening to shoot Brown while Brown was struggling against the door.  The eyewitnesses claimed that Brown was struggling to get out.  Wilson claimed that Brown was struggling to get in.  A la the infamous Maury segment, the skin on the door proves that was a lie.  Think about it: if you were trying to get inside an SUV through the window, you would be using downward force on your feet to push your way up through the window, not inward force on your legs to push yourself away from the window.  The inward force could easily result in scratching of the legs on the running board as you struggled against the door to get away, whereas the downward force would not, as you're putting your weight on the ground -- or possibly the running board -- and wouldn't have as much freedom to move your legs.  It's at this point that Wilson's story begins to crack.

Then comes the full-fledged shattering: the shot to Brown's forearm was from the back to the inside, which means that Brown was NOT facing forward when that shot was fired, and his hands were down at the time, which would suggest that he was still running away.  That tells us that Wilson fired at Brown BEFORE Brown turned around.  Again, a confirmation of eyewitness accounts.  And given that standard training is to continue shooting until the clip is empty or the target is dead, that means that Brown could have motioned for surrender after he turned around, but Wilson would have just kept firing anyway.  Which he obviously did four more times, according to the math.  In other words, Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown from behind.  That's the damning evidence right there.

It should also be noted that the presence of marijuana in Brown's system (or anyone else's, for that matter) does not necessarily mean inebriation. Tests do not reveal how long marijuana has been in one's system, and it stays in the body for days or even weeks after losing its intoxicating properties. So the presence of marijuana in his system is entirely irrelevant to the events of that fateful day.  Even if Brown had been high, marijuana isn't the kind of drug that would make you charge full-speed at a police officer who's firing a gun at you.  In fact, it's well-known for its ability to induce paranoia, particularly the kind that makes you fearful of authority.  Making a huge deal of the presence of the drug in Brown's body (as many in the media have tried to do) is not merely ignorance or anti-drug hysteria, it's an attempt -- by those who have everything to lose from the truth -- to spin public opinion in their favor.  Because the facts are quickly adding up against them.  Don't fall for it.

Long story short, in order to accept the idea that this second set of autopsy results vindicates Darren Wilson, you HAVE to believe either one of two things. Either:

  1. Michael Brown was freakishly capable of doing the physically impossible by rotating his arm outward on a vertical axis at the shoulder, or...
  2. The bullet that hit Brown in the back of his arm and exited the inside was a Kennedy-style "magic bullet" that somehow passed Brown, stopped and turned around mid-air, then hit Brown from behind.

If you believe either one, I have some oceanfront property in Nevada to sell you.

Oh, But We're Not Done With The FPD Yet; Oh No!

If you thought the Ferguson Police Department was a circus act before, you're gonna love this turn of events.

It seems that CNN, relying on their ever-accurate anonymous sources (this time credited as "government officials familiar with the ongoing discussions"), reported Tuesday that FPD chief Thomas Jackson would be announcing his resignation next week.

Jackson, of course, flatly denies this, stating that he is the man in charge here, and he's keeping his job no matter what you hear from those mean and nasty journalists who ask too many questions and always want explanations for things.  God, it's like people want to hold you accountable for your actions or something!  The nerve!

Sadly, even if the CNN report had been true -- or if it still is, we have yet to see -- it would just provide the opportunity for just yet another Won't Get Fooled Again reference.  The same people that put Jackson in charge in the first place are still running the show now, and whoever they pick this time around would most likely be just as bad.

Another option that's been floated out there is to simply close up shop at FPD and let the St. Louis County Police step in to do the job, but that's just as terrible an idea.  Let's not forget that SLCPD had a very key role in the repressive and overkill (terrible pun intended) insanity that was the militarized response to peaceful protestors and journalists, and they themselves have a long and storied love affair with racial profiling.

Either way, meet the new boss: same as the old boss.

Now there are calls for reform from the top down, but how do you effect that kind of change when you have two different police agencies operating under the jurisdiction of two different government entities?  You can fire all the cops in the world, but you can't un-elect the people in office who hired them and write their paychecks, and unless you hold those elected officials criminally responsible for something (and what would you hold them criminally responsible for, exactly?), there's nothing stopping them from taking things right back in the same direction.

Basically, the residents of Ferguson have to keep fighting for their city, not only on the streets, but at the polls.  This has to be a local political revolution, or nothing will change.

I Was Going To Title This Section "Monica Lewinsky Needs To Get It Through Her Head," But That Might Be Too Tasteless, So I Won't

No, Monica Lewinsky was NOT "patient zero," as she puts it, for cyber-bullying.  She put herself in the public spotlight when she and Bill Clinton -- The President of the United States at the time -- decided to have an affair.  Yes, mean and nasty things were said about her by media figures and no-names alike, but that in and of itself does not constitute cyber-bullying; it was the public discourse -- vile as some of it may have been -- about a woman who opened herself up to it by getting down on her knees under the Oval Office desk.  The entire situation could have been avoided if she had simply said "no" to Slick Willy's advances.  Her failure to take into account the consequences of having sex with the president does not give her license to escape those consequences.

In contrast, victims of cyber-bullying are outside the public spotlight and have done nothing to bring such attacks on themselves.  They're usually a student in school being attacked by peers, which means they can't just ignore it because they are inescapably surrounded by their tormentors in person every day.  None of that describes Monica Lewinsky.  She wasn't cyber-bullied, she made a conscious choice and she had to deal with the fallout.  I have no doubt that said fallout did her emotional and psychological harm, but that does not in any way make what she went through cyber-bullying.

In getting the definition wrong, she is misrepresenting herself and wrongfully appropriating the term, which in turn diminishes the public perception of cyber-bullying and endangers its victims.  She is literally doing more harm than good.  I don't believe she's necessarily doing it to be self-serving or self-promoting; I think she genuinely wants to help.  But she cannot.  She is incapable of helping victims of cyber-bullying by falsely claiming that she, herself, was cyber-bullied.  She needs to take a few steps back and think that through.

Listen Up, Neocons: Here's Your Civics Lesson For The Century

A friend of mine brought this story to my attention about a week and a half ago through this blog post right here.  (Don't click that link unless you feel like both screaming in rage and laughing at the author's stupidity.)

Here's what's going on.  Two bigots -- a married couple who both happen to be ordained ministers -- run a for-profit wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; much like the kind in Las Vegas where you can elope and get hitched by an Elvis impersonator.  The city, in 2013, passed a non-discrimination ordinance which includes protection on the basis of sexual orientation as well as the standard bases of race, sex, religion, et cetera.

This law applies to all public accommodations, otherwise known to you and I as for-profit businesses.  Basically, if you're conducting business with the general public, you have to serve all of the general public unless you suspect that they are committing or planning to commit a criminal act.  That means that this for-profit wedding chapel, which is classified as a public accommodation, cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation.  Even if the ordinance hadn't been written to include sexual orientation, discrimination against same-sex couples is sexual discrimination against either one partner or the other, because one partner is not the opposite sex from their significant other.  So either way, now that same-sex marriage is legal in Idaho, a for-profit wedding chapel is clearly committing a criminal act by rejecting the business of same-sex couples, be that defined as sexual orientation discrimination or sexual discrimination.  You just can't do it.

But that's exactly what these two morons did.  According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, a man called the chapel to inquire about booking a same-sex ceremony.  The idiots on the other end of the line turned him down, and then proceeded to file for a restraining order against the city to prevent them from enforcing the non-discrimination ordinance.  They have also filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming that they're facing oppressive religious discrimination.  The city, for its part, correctly makes the case that the chapel is a for-profit business serving the public, and as such, they are subject to fines and/or jail time if they do not comply.

Now before you neo-conservatives get your big girl panties all in a wad, no, this is NOT an attack on religious liberty, because if these two clowns want to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples without the threat of fines or jail time, all they have to do is convert their chapel to a full-fledged church, which will make it a religious institution under the law, and therefore exempt from the city's non-discrimination ordinance on religious grounds.  Or they could also simply hire an officiant who is willing to perform same-sex marriages.  The fact that the two operators of the for-profit wedding chapel are ordained ministers means absolutely nothing, because they're not performing wedding ceremonies individually as ordained ministers for a fee, they're operating a for-profit business, the sole purpose of which is to provide a primary source of income for themselves by performing wedding ceremonies.  They are not under attack, their freedom of religion is not being violated, and they could easily solve this problem if they hired another minister just for same-sex weddings or were to simply start a church.  The latter option being, you know, what ordained ministers are kinda supposed to do: pastor churches.

So why don't they do that?  Simple: they want to create a situation that appears to fulfill the lie that same-sex marriage is inherently an attack on religious freedom.  They're bigots, they want to continue both their bigotry and their business, and they have to make it appear as though they're the victims here in order to gain your sympathy -- not to mention spark a frenzy amongst the socially-conservative minority who already thinks that gay marriage will bring an end to humanity.  Their only motives here are hatred and money.  They're not victims, and deep down, they know they're not victims, but they also know that they can make mountains of money off of this situation in neo-conservative circles, from giving speeches at events to making appearances on Fox News... maybe even "writing" a book (by which I mean they'll spew their nonsense and someone will write it down in a somewhat literate fashion).

And you neocons are eating it up like a fat kid eats cake.  I would know.  I was a fat kid.

Oh, and by the way, don't kid yourself: the "National Organization for Marriage" and the "Alliance Defending Freedom" (sarcasm quotes in full effect there) are in this purely for the money, themselves.  The ADF is representing these two jackballs in court, and both they and NOM are 1000% (not a typo) guaranteed to use this whole manufactured controversy as fundraising material.  They know a moneymaking scam when they see one.

In other words: this is not the outrage you're making it out to be, and by fanning the flames, you're only further proving to the world what imbeciles you are.

And On A Similar Note...

This.  I don't need to say anything about it, because it's just right the way it is.  It is mandatory reading.  And if that didn't bring you to tears...

At What Point Can The Southern Baptist Convention Be Charged With First-Degree Murder In Transgender Youth Suicides?

I have never been more proud in my life to no longer be a member of a Southern Baptist church.  It's been almost fifteen years since I last set foot in one, I've never once considered doing so again, and I've never once regretted either of those two facts.  Why would I when the church leadership keeps spewing vile shit?

Hey, you have to ask yourself (as I did): what can you really expect from a denomination that was founded by racists to uphold slavery on Biblical grounds?  No, really: what can you expect from such an organization?  A church that didn't even acknowledge or renounce their own roots in racism and slavery until 1995; how can you expect them to catch up to modern times?

I mean, let's ignore the fact that every single valid scientific study on the physiology of transgender people has shown that gender identity is an inborn biological trait with actual physical differences in the brain.

Let's ignore the fact that the psychiatric, medical and social work communities have completely blown away the notion that "nurture" has anything to do with gender identity.

Let's ignore the fact that transgender people -- specifically transgender children -- are at substantially higher risk for suicide directly in relation to their parents, family and social circle's lack of acceptance.

Oh.  ...Well, given the facts, science and statistics that are stacked entirely against their position, I guess you can expect better of them.  Much better.

I've made this point countless times before, but it bears repeating: science trumps dogma.  God gave us the ability to study His creation for a reason: to use it and learn more about Him.  Every so often, He uses the scientific process to tell us things.  I like to think of it as Him calmly leaning against the doorway of a pastor's office, saying "hey, you know that thing that you keep saying I said?  Yeah, well, uh... My creation doesn't reflect that at all, and I don't make mistakes, so... yeah, this one's all on you guys."

And yet, even when presented with all of this evidence, the SBC still rejects transgender people, particularly transgender youth at this event, and they encourage parents of transgender children to utilize the extremely dangerous quackery known as "reparative therapy" (which has rightly been made illegal in several states) and in all other conceivable ways psychologically torture their children in an effort to change their physiologically unchangeable gender identity.  Which, as the evidence cannot possibly make more obvious, more often than not leads those children to kill themselves.

This is first-degree murder.  There is no getting around that fact.  It is an act (or, in this case, a series of acts) with malice aforethought and prior planning that directly results in the death of the victim.  That is the very definition of first-degree murder.  The Southern Baptist Convention is not only encouraging it, they are engaging in it.  Blood is on their hands, and they revel in that fact.  In any other setting, we'd be frying them by now.

So what is it going to take before we can start locking them in prison for life without parole?  Because that's what they deserve.  Nothing short of the next to maximum penalty -- because death would be too good for these sick fucks.

We need to be demanding that they face the punishment for their crimes.  That they're committing them in God's name should be even more of a reason to bring them to justice, not an excuse for them to hide behind.

Also In Church News...

This happened.  It leaves about as many questions unanswered as it does... well, no, it doesn't really answer anything, it just raises more questions.  But Mark Driscoll has stepped down at Mars Hill, and the world is a slightly better place for it.  Let's hope and pray that God guides the church back to the right path.

And Finally Tonight, A Water-Skiing Squirrel

A state rep in Pennsylvania put his concealed carry permit to use while standing up to some thugs who tried to mug him and one of his colleagues.  And he's a Democrat.  No, they're not all anti-gun whackjobs.

Are You Done Now?

Yep.  I'll try not to let so much content stack up before I write next time.