Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dennis Hastert Gets 15 Months in Prison

Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker of the House, was recently convicted of illegally structuring bank transactions in order to cover up his sexual abuse of teenage athletes while he was a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. The reason his sentence was only 15 months was because of his "age" and "declining health," according to Judge Thomas M. Durkin.

Before I give my judgement on this scandal, let's look at Mr. Hastert's record in Congress and his opinions on the law. Hastert is from a very conservative small town in Illinois, and attended Wheaton College, an evangelical Protestant liberal arts college. It is very straight-laced--no student is allowed to drink, smoke, gamble, or dance. Hastert attended this college in the 1960s; while other college campuses erupted in protest over the Civil Rights Movement and the War in Vietnam, the only protest that happened--at least in Hastert's senior year--was over the school's "no-beard" rule. 

He started his political career in 1980, entering the Illinois state house. During his years in the Illinois State House, he developed close relationships with various big businesses, in particular the utilities industry. Although he'd been a member of the state teacher's union when taught at Yorkville High, he voted against collective bargaining for most state employees, including firefighters, during his time in the Illinois Legislature. In 1986, he crafted a plan that would change Illinois tax structure in way that would benefit utilities significantly. Critics accused this bill of favoritism and it never advanced past committee. Later that same year, Hastert was elected to the House of Representatives.

Almost immediately upon entering Congress, he developed friendships with numerous businesses and political action committees. He became friends with powerful Congressmen Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich, and worked behind the scenes gathering votes for their Contract With America in 1994. When Newt Gingrich stepped as Speaker of the House in 1998, it looked like Bob Livingston was going to take his place. However, revelations of his extramarital affairs forced him to resign, and Hastert began lobbing for votes immediately. He became Speaker in 1999.

Hastert has a perfect 100 Rating from the Christian Coalition. He was an ardent supporter of the War on Drugs. During his time as Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert earmarked $24 million in taxpayer dollars to his hometown of Aurora, Illinois. In 2000, he supported the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act, which sought stronger penalties against child molesters. He was a staunch supporter of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. He publicly called for legislation that would "put repeat child molesters in jail for the rest of their lives" in 2003. In 2006, Hastert condemned Mark Foley during his sex scandal, and called for his expulsion from the House. He claimed that he only learned about Foley's actions when the scandal was first made public, but there is evidence that suggests that he did know about what Foley was doing months beforehand and did nothing about it.

So Dennis Hastert, who repeatedly advocated harsher punishment for child sex offenders, is getting a lenient punishment for being a child sex offender. We live in such a wonderful world. I'll leave you with a quote from the comments section of this Crooked Timber post from 2004:

We don’t know whether Mr. Hastert likes to have sex with little boys, or whether he likes black boys or latino boys in addition to white boys. We do know he enjoys watching boys roll around on the ground together, and used to give boys instructions as to how to cradle another boy in their arms.
Someone may have documented the full extent of his pedophilia- there may even be a series of films of Mr. Hastert having sexual intercourse with boys- I would stress that at this point we don’t know for sure whether any such videotapes exist or whether Mr. Hastert might have destroyed them.

Michael Voris Thanks God for Giving His Mom Cancer to Stop Him from Being Gay

Michael Voris is a hyper-traditionalist Catholic from Michigan. Voris runs something called, where he fancies himself a latter-day Knight Templar. His website was previously called RealCatholicTV, and he used to have a YouTube channel. The channel has not been updated since June of 2012. This was around the time he was forced to change the name of his website because the Archdiocese of Detroit said that Voris could not use the word "Catholic" in the title because he did not have the consent required under the Code of Canon Law 216. Being a Traditionalist Catholic, he views the modern Catholic Church as "corrupt" and "heretical." Voris also believes that democracy should be replaced with a "benevolent Catholic monarch." The video where he called for this caused much controversy and was widely condemned by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and was removed from his channel.

Since Voris has been off YouTube for almost four years, he's moved on to Facebook. He still regularly posts videos to his website. And he apparently he's come into conflict with the Archdiocese of New York, who he accuses of trying to discredit his work in "exposing" an alleged gay sex scandal. He made a video called, "Limiting God." Here, he "confesses" all of the sins from his past life before he converted to Catholicism. He was "confused about his sexuality" during his thirties, and "has frequent sexual liaisons with both adult men and adult women" during his twenties. I love he clarifies that the people had "sexual liaisons" with were adults. Frankly, a lot of people in the Catholic Church wish they could say that about their "sexual liaisons." 

After rambling about "liaisons" for a bit, he mentions that his mother prayed for him to return to Church and give up his "sinful" life. His mom prayed to be given "whatever suffering was needed" for him to be "granted sufficient grace to revert." His mother received stomach cancer shortly after this prayer, and died a few years later. As for Voris...I'm just going to quote him directly because I don't think I have any words to describe how fucked up he is:

He was thrilled, over the top with gratitude. Fuck me, read that paragraph again. He's so thankful for what God did for him by giving his mother stomach cancer! This is even worse when you consider the context of his situation right now. Since the Archdiocese of New York allegedly has a file on Voris that could potentially make him look bad, Voris made this video to make himself look like a good guy! He thinks that this story will make him look like a hero

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bernie Sanders: Not Jewish but "Jew-ish"

So begins this article in the New York Post by someone named Andrea Peyser. (This author also has an article entitled, "Megyn Kelly is no different than Kim Kardashian." Make of that what you will.) She describes "Jew-ish" as being "a non-practicing, anti-Israel, kinda, sorta Hebrew." Wow, that's really professional language right there! 

"Raised in a veritable shtetl in Brooklyn, the Bernmeister had a bar mitzvah, worked as a volunteer on an Israeli kibbutz — a collective farm modeled on communist principles — for several months while in his 20s, and counts a number of his European ancestors as victims of the Holocaust."

Kibbutz is a Hebrew word for "communal settlement." The Jewish Virtual Library describes it as thus: "a socioeconomic system based on the principle of joint ownership of property, equality, and cooperation of production, consumption, and education." describes it as "usually agricultural" and "organized under collectivist principles." Note how Ms. Peyser describes it communist in order to bring up images of tyranny. This is classic example of political spin.

She brings up the fact that Bernie Sanders stared in a low-budget comedy back in 1999 in order to bring us this piece of truly genius investigative journalism:

"In the flick, Bernie/Manny rants disjointedly before wedding guests in a thick outer-borough accent, slamming the Dodgers for leaving Brooklyn and bemoaning the big money paid to baseball-playing free agents. Was he signaling that, if elected president, the self-described “democratic socialist” might one day try to redistribute athletes’ wealth?"

Yes, I'm sure he was signaling to his fellow insidious socialists that one day, in seventeen years, he would run for President with the express purpose of redistributing the wealth of pro-athletes. This is a perfectly rational assumption to make.

"Bernie Sanders, 74, has forged a far-left political brand, siding with Jew-haters and Israel foes, which is redundant. I urge Jews and their supporters voting in New York’s Democratic presidential primary on April 19 to reject Bernie. He’s not good for the Jews, or anyone else. The rotten actor is certainly not good for the City of New York, home to more Jews than Jerusalem is."

*blink* I'm sorry, you want to run that by me one more time? How do we go from a low-budget movie starring Bernie Sanders to Bernie Sanders being a Jew-hater? I love how she implies that opposing Israel and hating Jews are one and the same. No wait, she doesn't imply that, she explicitly states that outright. He's "certainly" not good for New York. I like how she emphasizes that over him not being good for the Jews. Is it because NYC is home to more Jews than Jerusalem? How is that relevant? 

"Bernie is strangely quiet about his recent history-making achievement. Winning the New Hampshire Democratic primary on Feb. 9, Sanders became not only the first Jew ever to win a presidential primary or caucus, but the first non-Christian to do so.
This might help explain why he doesn’t talk about it. Sanders was the only presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, to skip the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference in Washington, DC, last month. Campaigning in Utah, Sanders instead delivered a speech to the pro-Israel lobbying group from afar that was highly critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians."
You don't know how to structure articles, do you? This information should have been placed before the part where you said he was bad for the Jews. As for him being the "first non-Christian" to win a presidential primary, I'm pretty sure there were a lot of people who didn't consider Al Smith to be a real Christian in 1928. 
"He was the first US senator to join House Democrats boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. He rejected Netanyahu’s dire warning that the nuclear deal entered into by the governments of Iran, the United States and other world powers threatens the very existence of the Jewish state."
That's good, because Netanyahu's warning was demagogic bullshit. 
"Campaigning in Dearborn, Mich., last month, a city whose population contains the nation’s highest proportion of Arab-American Muslims, Sanders stuck it to his own people.
“Hopefully, we can have a level playing field, the United States treating everyone in that region equally,” he said about US involvement in the Middle East. A playing field in which bloody attacks on Israel don’t draw a “disproportionate” response? Sanders scored an upset victory in the Michigan primary, beating Dem front-runner Hillary Clinton."
I've taken the liberty to bold the font containing the most absurd framing in this piece. Dearborn contains the highest proportion of Muslims in America! This is relevant because...actually it's not. But it's a way for Peyser to paint Sanders as being anti-Israel, and thus bad for Jews, because apparently all Jews should support Israel. 
That was the primary message of this piece: You're not really Jewish if you don't support Israel. In fact, opposing Israel means you are "sticking it to your own people." By that logic, women who don't vote for Hillary are "sticking it to their own gender." 

Ladies and Gentleman: The Worst Music Video Ever

What is it with YouTube Atheists and their paranoia about feminism? These people seem utterly terrified women speaking out in favor of their rights, so much so that you'd get the impression that they believe that giving women more rights will lead to men losing theirs. I'm not going to drop names--at least not right now, I might get the inspiration to review some of these guys soon--but there seems to be an entire genre of videos on YouTube right now, and it's basically a bunch of atheists ranting in front of a webcam about how feminism is either a religion or anti-male hate movement.

There's numerous videos on the subject, and the points they try to make are either based on strawmen or fueled by illogical paranoia. There's one channel called the SyeTenAtheist that made an animated music video on the subject. It's just...just watch it.

Jesus Christ. This is the most cringe thing I've ever seen. I couldn't sit through it in one sitting. I don't even know where to start. The nursery school background music makes me shudder, the "singing" is pure ear poison, the animation itself is stiff and awkward, and the "stereotypical jew" voice they give the feminist just makes me...uncomfortable. The video was trying to say that feminists and islamists have a lot in common, but no effort was made to actually prove this.

Is the logic that feminists and islamists are similar because islamists blame the jews and feminists blame the patriarchy for their problems? Are feminists and islamists banding together to defeat the International Jewish Patriarchy? Is that why she says that, "it's not rape if you're a muslim" at the end of the video? I mean, it obviously wasn't, that was just a retarded attempt to be "edgy" and "offensive" on the part of the creator, but it's too stupid to be either of those things.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Donald Trump Damage Control

A few days ago, Donald Trump pissed a lot of people off when he went on Chris Matthews' show and backed an abortion ban and said that women who received abortions would be "punished." He later made a "clarification" that only the doctor's who perform abortions would be punished, but this did not stop the avalanche of criticism he received from people on both sides of the abortion debate. The President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund accused him of being "out of touch" with the pro-life movement, members of pro-choice NARAL said his position was "far from where the American people are," and Ken Blackwell of the pro-life Family Research Council said that this comment revealed his "lack of any in-depth involvement with the pro-life movement."

John Kasich slammed Trump, and said that he'd probably find a way to claim that he was "misquoted." Given Trump's history of getting butthurt when subjected to criticism, this was an astute prediction. And lo and behold, this is exactly what he did!
"That was a hypothetical question. It was not a wrong answer." Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity during his Monday night show in Wisconsin. "There were other people that wrote me letters by the hundreds saying that it was a great answer to that question the way it was raised."
Are these "hundreds" of people also hypothetical? And did he only "hypothetically" insult Chris Matthews in his next statement?
"I did this show because it's not a high-rated show. He's always been--I mean, he's never treated me badly. And I didn't think it was a big thing to do the show, and as a hypothetical question you give a hypothetical answer, and I didn't see the big, big, huge deal."
Trump also complained that John Kasich gave a bad answer to a question on abortion and it got no coverage. Because of course he did. This is pretty much a prototypical Donald Trump reaction to criticism. It goes in four points. Dodge the criticism, claim that numerous people are on his side, insult the person who asked him the original question, and complain that the other candidates aren't getting as much scrutiny as he is.

The Dodging: Trump claimed that it was just a hypothetical question, meaning that his answer is also hypothetical, and therefore it can't be a wrong answer

The Claims of Support: Trump claimed that "hundreds" of people sent him letters that told him he gave a "great answer," ignoring the fact that his answer was different from his first answer in which he unmistakably said that the woman would receive "some form of punishment." Broad, blanket statements claiming that "hundreds of people liked my answer," can't be fact-checked and proven wrong, therefore Trump is right

The Insult: A classic staple of Mr. Trump--one that makes him so successful in politics--is his use of the ad hominem fallacy, in which he attacks the person making the argument rather than the substance of the argument itself. Hence, his snipe at the "not high" ratings of Chris Matthews' show. Since the ratings are low, his answer shouldn't be a "big deal," and is therefore not wrong

The Complaints: Trump complained that the media is biased against him because John Kasich also gave a bad answer on abortion and there was no coverage. This is despite the fact that Trump previously stated that his answer was hypothetical, and is therefore not bad. This is also despite the fact that there was coverage of this.

This makes me wonder how Trump would respond to criticism as President. Would British criticism of his actions be invalid because America is a more popular place to live than Britain? Would he not be responsible for any tension he inflames if he threatens to bomb a country because bombing of said country is just a "hypothetical" scenario? Would it be okay for him to ignore the Bill of Rights because he gets a lot of letters from people saying they agree with him?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Donald Trump's Union-Busting attempt in Las Vegas fails

A group of 500 workers at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas voted to unionize in December and have been demanding a sit-down and contract negotiation with the management. The National Labor Relations Board has certified this union over the objections of Trump's Company. The management has announced their intentions to appeal the ruling, and workers have reported being intimidated by members of a "union avoidance" consulting firm hired by the management. The firm told them that if they voted to unionize they'd lose their jobs, and that the company would blacklist their names so that they'd never find work in Las Vegas again.

The National Labor Relations Act prohibits companies from using coercion and intimidation tactics in order to prevent employees from unionizing. The reason these workers were unionizing was because of their low wages--"lower than most in Las Vegas" according to the housekeeper who organized the union. Trump likes to talk about the problems faced by many (white) Americans working for lower-wages (and how it's Mexico's fault that wages are falling), but his own businesses routinely engage in practices that lower wages and the standard of living for workers.

Donald Trump Outlines Plan To Have Mexico Pay For The Wall

You know how Donald Trump wants to build a wall around Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants? And he wants to make Mexico pay for it? Well, he's finally revealed his plan to make them do just that!
Trump: The wall is a fraction of the kind of money that--in many different ways--that Mexico takes from us. The wall is a fraction--you know you're talking about a $10 billion wall...and...a trade deficit with Mexico of $58 billion, and probably going to get worse--if they run it, if I run it, there won't be a trade deficit.
But of course.
Kevin Liptak (CNN Reporter): Today, the Trump Campaign is outlining its plan--what it's saying is that it is essentially going to threaten Mexico that if it does not pay the $10 billion dollars for the wall, the US Government will halt remittances--money transfers--stopping citizens from wiring money to their relatives in Mexico...the Trump Campaign estimates that will total somewhere in the neighborhood of $24 billion. 
And how is Trump going to make sure that money doesn't get sent? He didn't explain that, but he did propose that the US Government crack down on visas from business travelers and tourists coming from Mexico.  If you're wondering how either proposal is in any way legal, Trump is using an interpretation of the Patriot Act--yes that Patriot Act. He has a memo on his website detailing how this plan would work. Most of it is posturing--especially the part where he talks about cancelling visas. He only speaks about it as a leverage point--no details about he can do this legally are given. He also seems to think that losing $24 billion in yearly remittances will somehow be financially devastating to a country with a GDP of $1.3 trillion...and that doesn't count the profits from the underground economy ruled by the drug cartels.

Oh, but I'm sure the Mexican government is shaking in fear from Trump's threats.