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Republican Voters Support Gay Marriage

A new set of polls from NBC News and Marist College are even more surprising than expected.

The expected parts are that Republican voters don’t like presidential candidates who support things like Common Core, immigration reform, doing something about climate change, or raising taxes on the wealthy.

The surprise part is that opposition to gay marriage will also alienate Republican voters. In the poll, around half of likely GOP primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina said that opposition to gay marriage is either “mostly” or “totally” unacceptable in a candidate. In Iowa, 47% said opposing gay marriage was unacceptable, while in the other two states 52% (a majority) found it unacceptable.

The days when Republicans could use opposition to gay marriage to attract social conservatives are gone. Today, opposition to gay marriage is more likely to hurt a candidate than help them. These numbers have changed dramatically in just the last year, and are likely to continue to change in favor of candidates who support gay marriage.

The problem is that the current candidates have not kept up. Pretty much every aspiring Republican candidate is on record as opposing gay marriage, including relative Republican moderates like Jeb Bush.

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Late Night Political Humor

“Now people want Brian Williams to resign, but it could have a happy ending. Apparently what he said was such a blatant departure from the truth, today he got an offer from Fox News.” – Bill Maher

“Brian Williams of NBC News has admitted he embellished a story about being in a helicopter that was shot at in Iraq. Williams says the helicopter part was true but it was a coin-operated helicopter outside of a Chuck E. Cheese. It was in a bad part of Connecticut.” – Conan O”Brien

“At today’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama and the Dalai Lama avoided a direct meeting. Uh-oh, sounds like there may be some Obama-Lama drama.” – Seth Meyers

“What we don’t know about is Jeb Bush and cocaine. But we do know that he did once gave his brother Florida on a silver platter.” – Bill Maher

“House Speaker John Boehner said the Republican Party will no longer stand in the way of gay marriage. Then Boehner said, ‘Now can I go to Elton John’s Oscar party?'” – Conan O’Brien

“Rand Paul and Chris Christie both said vaccinations should be a choice, not a government mandate. Because when have Republicans ever told people what they could do with their own bodies?” – Bill Maher

“According to a recent survey, 12 percent of Americans say that it’s fine to cheat a little on your taxes. While the other 88 percent know not to talk to a guy with a clipboard asking them if they cheat on their taxes.” – Jimmy Fallon

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Liberals v. Conservatives – It’s Funny

An interesting (and well worth reading) article in The Atlantic dives into some important questions: Why is there no conservative entertainer as funny as Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, or many others? And why is there no liberal talk radio host as successful as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or many others?

Theorists have been trying to explain humor as far back as Plato. The ancient Greek philosopher said humor got its power from the pleasure people get when they feel superior over others, laughing at their foibles and flaws. Freud saw it as a cathartic release from society’s repressions, thus explaining all our sex and fart jokes. And Hegel saw it as reconciling two normally incongruous spheres of meaning—i.e., showing a football player in a cheerleading outfit or putting a cat in human clothes.

Peter McGraw, an associate professor at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, has argued for what he calls the “benign-violation theory” of humor. McGraw believes that humor results from violating social norms or by violating a particular person or group. But it only becomes funny when it’s placed in a second context that clearly signals the violation is harmless or benign. In other words, if someone falls down the stairs, it will only be really funny if that person doesn’t get hurt.

There may be alternative theories. For example, maybe there aren’t as many conservative satirists because you have to be a bit of an uncaring asshole in order to be an outspoken conservative. And maybe liberals can’t make it on AM talk radio because liberals don’t make very good ditto-heads.

Maybe that is too harsh. But it does make you wonder. And it would explain why an academic study found that a majority of conservatives believe Colbert is really a conservative.

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Trouble?

Ruben Bolling
© Ruben Bolling

It’s true. Why is Brian Williams the only one to get in trouble for rewriting the Iraq war history?

In somewhat related news, on Friday, Iceland actually jailed some bankers and CEOs. In the rest of the world, being rich and powerful still gives you a personal get-out-of-jail-free card.

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Quotes from Jon Stewart

“I view America like this: 70 to 80 percent [are] pretty reasonable people that truthfully, if they sat down, even on contentious issues, would get along. And the other 20 percent of the country run it.”

“I’m not going to censor myself to comfort your ignorance.”

“Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion. If America leads a blessed life, then why did God put all of our oil under people who hate us?”

“I’ll tell you this: Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have, for religion — we protect religion. And talk about a lifestyle choice — that is absolutely a choice. Gay people don’t choose to be gay. At what age did you choose not to be gay?”

“The [Christmas] season wouldn’t feel the same without people going out of their way to be offended by nothing.”

“Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely! In broad daylight! Openly wearing the symbols of their religion… perhaps around their necks? And maybe — dare I dream it? — maybe one day there can be an openly Christian President. Or, perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.”

“They always throw around this term ‘the liberal elite’. And I kept thinking to myself about the Christian right. What’s more elite than believing that only you will go to heaven?”

“Michael Brown, the director of FEMA, was nominated by President Bush in 2003 and plans to start the job any day now. … Prior to heading FEMA, Brown spent the 90’s as a commissioner — this is true — of the International Arabian Horse Association. I guess he stands out because most Bush appointees are beholden to Arabian people.”

“Fox opposes a Syria peace plan because its modus operandi is to foment dissent in the form of a relentless and irrational contrarianism to Barack Obama and all things Democratic, to advance its ultimate objective of creating a deliberately misinformed body politic whose fear, anger, mistrust, and discontent is the manna upon which it sustains its parasitic succubus-like existence.”

“Democrats do have an historic race going. Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama. Normally, when you see a black man or a woman president an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty.”

“Mitt Romney calling the President ‘detached and out of touch’ is like a multimillionaire who owns two mansions, six cars, and who thinks ‘corporations are people, my friend’ calling someone ‘detached and out of touch’.”

“Must be nice to be a Republican senator sometimes, because you get the fun of breaking shit and the joy of complaining the shit you just broke doesn’t work.”

“President Obama’s new slogan is: ‘I Thought We Could, but It Turns Out the Other Guys Are Assholes.”

“Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting us. When a country owes you a billion dollars they have a problem. When they owe you a trillion dollars, YOU have a problem. We’re too big to fail!”

“What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.” (to Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, dooming their program “Crossfire”)

“They said I wasn’t being funny. And I said to them, ‘I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow.” (responding to their criticism)

“You know if I had nickel for every time Bush has mentioned 9/11, I could raise enough reward money to go after Bin Laden.”

“Why is it that if you take advantage of a tax break and you’re a corporation, you’re a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something you need to not be hungry, you’re a moocher?”

“He’s not George Bush on steroids. Rick Perry is what happens if Lex Luther distilled down George Bush essence in a laboratory and crossed it with gun powder and semen from the finest thoroughbred in Lubbock, and then strapped that concoction onto a nuclear missile and shot it into the fucking sun! And then, waited, waited, waited, until one day, on the anniversarry of the Alamo, a solar flare, yada yada yada, Rick Perry!”

“Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, once two of the most powerful men in this country, are now suffering from Balzheimer’s disease. Why didn’t I see it before? Balzheimer’s is a terrible illness that attacks the memory and gives its victims the balls to attack others for things they themselves made a career of. There is no known cure.”

“Rick [Santorum], I’m sorry that hearing that JFK speech on religion makes you throw up. But if it makes you feel any better, if JFK were alive today, knowing you were running for President would make him shit his pants.”

“Condoleezza Rice was confirmed by a vote of 85 to 13, despite a contentious but futile protest vote by Democrats. By the way, for a fun second term drinking game, chug a beer every time you hear the phrase ‘contentious but futile protest vote by democrats.’ By the time Jeb Bush is elected, you’ll be so wasted you won’t even notice the war in Syria.”

“I know the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people, but what I didn’t realize is that those people are assholes.”

“Corporations are the only reason the tax code is so complicated in the first place. Those off-shore loopholes didn’t get carved out by poor people.”

“We have got to pay those bailed out firm CEOs top dollar. Otherwise those companies could end up being run by a couple of jackasses who fuck things up so royally, it torpedoes the entire global economy.”

“You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn’t that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.”

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Beating a Dead Horse

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), in a craven attempt to burnish his ultra-conservative credentials (probably for the upcoming Republican presidential primary), has introduced a bill that would strip federal benefits from same-sex couples and leave it up to the states to restrict marriage as the union of one man and one woman. On his website, Cruz states:

Even though the Supreme Court made clear in United States v. Windsor that the federal government should defer to state ‘choices about who may be married,’ the Obama Administration has disregarded state marriage laws enacted by democratically-elected legislatures to uphold traditional marriage. I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama Administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states. The State Marriage Defense Act helps safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for their citizens.

There are several ironies about this. First, of course, is that it has absolutely no chance of becoming law. A reasonable number of Republicans would vote against it, and even if Congress passed it, it would be vetoed by Obama.

Second, even if it became law, it would have no long-term effect. The courts have been overturning laws discriminating against same-sex couples in state after state (37 now, last week including Alabama of all places!). Once a state allows gay marriage, the law would have no meaning there.

Third, Cruz seems to be blaming Obama for destroying “traditional marriage” and attempting to “force” it on all 50 states. Other than refusing to enforce DOMA because it was unconstitutional (with the Supreme Court agreeing that it was unconstitutional soon after), Obama has done very little to champion gay marriage. Most legal scholars expect the Supreme Court to strike down laws against gay marriage in June.

Cruz claims that he will be “introducing a constitutional amendment to further protect marriage and to prevent judicial activism.” My guess is that is a promise he won’t keep. Republicans have been promising to do this for a long time. And Cruz is purposely vague about what this means, instead using terms like “judicial activism” to fire people up.

Indeed, once upon a time gay marriage was a red meat hot button topic for social conservatives, but even they seem to have given up on it. Nobody cares any more, which is how it should be. Gays are getting married and nothing bad happened. Despite dire predictions from religious conservatives, God hasn’t started smiting gays.

Cruz seems to be willing to say anything to get elected. But in this case I think he is just beating a dead horse.

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Late Night Political Humor

“The CDC announced that there are currently 102 measles cases in the U.S. Some say it’s because people aren’t vaccinating their children. You can tell things are getting bad. Today Disneyland opened a new ride called ‘It’s a Smallpox World’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Health officials are saying the number of measles cases that originated in Disneyland continues to grow. Which is why this year after the game the Super Bowl MVP shouted, ‘No way am I going to Disneyland!'” – Conan O’Brien

“Hillary Clinton is weighing in on the measles outbreak. She tweeted: ‘The Earth is round, the sky is blue, and vaccines work.’ She didn’t stop there. She also tweeted, ‘Fire is hot, ice is cold, and the Seahawks should have handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Tom Brady says he wants to give the truck he was given as the Super Bowl MVP to the guy who won the Super Bowl for the Patriots. So Brady’s giving his truck to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.” – Conan O’Brien

“The city of Boston today held its Super Bowl victory parade. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle held Seahawks coach Pete Carroll out a window by his ankles.” – Seth Meyers

“Remember that dancing shark from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show? A guy in Colorado actually got a tattoo of the shark. That story again: Weed is still legal in Colorado.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Mitt Romney is not going to be running for president. So you know what that means. We are getting closer and closer to ‘President Trump’.” – David Letterman

“I like Mitt Romney. He looks like the guy who comes with the picture frame.” – David Letterman

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Good-bye

Jon Stewart announced tonight he will be leaving The Daily Show sometime later this year. He has been host for 16 years!

Tonight’s episode also talked about another news anchor who is departing. NBC News suspended Brian Williams for six months without pay.

Between these two announcements plus Stephen Colbert, how are we going to manage to survive the 2016 presidential election?

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Bipartisan Science!

Matt Bors
© Matt Bors

In a strange, ironic way, it is comforting to know that it isn’t just conservatives who are anti-science. That way we can work together to address the problem.

The other irony of vaccinations is that their effectiveness has led people to not appreciate them. I’m old enough to remember when childhood diseases were rampant, and vaccinations were a life saving miracle. They were so successful that they virtually wiped out many diseases. Which led to people not worrying about those diseases any more. Which led to an opening for those diseases to come back.

And if we aren’t careful, they will come back with a vengeance. Because they are now so uncommon there is little if any natural resistance to them any more.

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Late Night Political Humor

“During an interview last weekend, President Obama was talking about the next race for president and refused to choose between Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, saying quote, ‘Love ‘em both’. Which was nice until he said he’d support the nominee, regardless of who she is.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama unveiled a $4 trillion budget for 2016 that would increase taxes on the wealthy and spend more money on education. He also made a snowball and put it in the oven, just to see which would last longer, his budget or the snowball.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday Obama presented a $4 trillion budget that he says would help the middle class. Then the middle class said, ‘You know what? How about you just give us the $4 trillion? We’ll figure out what to do with it.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Mitt Romney is not going to run for president. Mitt said it’s time for fresh faces. So that’s good news for Bruce Jenner.” – David Letterman

“Jeb Bush admitted that he smoked a notable amount of pot in school. He said, ‘You would too if your parents had named you ‘Jeb’.” – Conan O’Brien

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Naomi Wolf on Fake News Stories

So, could you believe that the Boston Terrorist Bombing was possibly a false flag operation?

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Beyond Bipartisanship

Following my recent post about bipartisanship, there is an interesting piece in The Guardian by Gary Younge:

As a means, bipartisanship is, of course, an admirable goal: the more politicians are able to work together, put the interests of their constituents first and get things done, the better. The grandstanding, bickering and procedural one-upmanship that characterises so much of what passes for politics is one of the things that makes electorates cynical and drives down voter turnout.

But as an end in itself, bipartisanship is at best shallow and at worst corrosive. For it entirely depends what parties are joining together to do. This is particularly true in America, where constituencies are openly gerrymandered, both parties are funded by big money, and legislation is often written by corporate lobbyists.

Bipartisan efforts over the past couple of decades have produced the Iraq war, the deregulation of the financial industry, the bank bailout made necessary by that deregulation, the slashing of welfare to the poor, and an exponential increase in incarceration. As the hapless Steve Martin says to his hopeless travel companion, John Candy, in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “You know, I was thinking, when we put our heads together … we’ve really gotten nowhere.”

The main point of the article is that in order to have true bipartisan cooperation, you have to have something worth cooperating with. But the real problem is that Republicans still reject reality.

Half of Republicans still believe the US did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, over half believe climate change is a hoax, and almost half do not believe in evolution. There is a limit to how much agreement you can reach with people with whom you disagree on fundamental matters of fact, let alone principle.

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Late Night Political Humor

“In the last 48 hours King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia passed away. I have a moral dilemma. The king passed away three or four days ago. Is it too soon to hit on Queen Latifah?” – David Letterman

“Today President Obama is in the Middle East. He met the new king of Saudi Arabia. Obama also met Saudi Arabia’s first lady, the second lady, third lady, and fourth lady.” – Conan O’Brien

“In a speech today, President Obama said that Michelle Obama is very strong and talented and she frequently tells him that he is wrong. As a result, Michelle Obama is now the Republican front-runner for 2016.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama said the small drone that flew over the White House fence yesterday could be bought at any RadioShack. After hearing this, the RadioShack CEO said, ‘I’m shocked to find out we still sell something people want.'” – Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney announced that he is no longer considering running for president in 2016. As opposed to those other guys who forgot about running — the Seattle Seahawks.” – Jimmy Fallon

“An amazing Super Bowl last evening. The New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks both defeated the Seattle Seahawks.” – Seth Meyers

“It really was an incredible game. And even though the Patriots won, you really have to hand it to Marshawn Lynch. Don’t think about it. Just hand it to Marshawn Lynch.” – Seth Meyers

“In addition to being the winning Super Bowl quarterback, Tom Brady now has a brand-new pickup truck. I guess we’ll have to sit through the whole thing about whether his tires are properly inflated.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP and was given a new Chevy truck. Brady says the truck handles great, especially after he let some air out of the tires.” – Seth Meyers

“The Northeast is being hit with a major snowstorm. Forecasters said they’ve haven’t seen a whiteout like this since last week’s Oscar nominations.” – Conan O’Brien

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Bipartisanship Begone!

Ted Rall
© Ted Rall

What if Washington grid lock was the best thing that ever happened to us? What if it was the only thing keeping the rich and powerful from taking over, privatizing pretty much everything, and completely looting the government? Which would you rather have: Political paralysis or corporate big brother completely controlling everything?

It may be that when the founders of this country talked about “checks and balances” their intent was to slow everything down to a crawl. That’s why we have two houses in Congress, both of which have to approve in order to pass anything (and one of them by a super-majority). And if they do, the president has a veto. And after that the Supreme Court can still throw it out, even years later.

The Republicans may be the Party of No, opposing everything that Obama proposes. But the only reason they get away with it is because we are the Country of No. Maybe, just maybe, that is a good thing.

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Thom Tillis v. Typhoid Mary

The most ironic part is that Senator Tillis doesn’t seem to understand what a regulation is.

Does he expect food establishments to just honestly tell you when things aren’t clean in their kitchens out of the kindness of their hearts? Seriously? Because if not, he just wants to replace one regulation with another regulation that will actually cost the business more than the existing one.

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