Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) boycotted Pope Frank’s speech because he was afraid the Holy Father might misguidedly claim that the earth is warming. Gosar’s fear of hearing heresy from the pope led The Arizona Republic’s E.J. Montini to roast, “Gosar prefers a racist who hasn’t paid fees for 20 years and says African Americans would be better off as slaves over the pope?” Montini found it odd that Gosar couldn’t walk a short distance from his office to hear the pope but he managed to get to rural Nevada to support Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees.
Too bad Gosar does not get roasted for engineering the gift of sacred Apache land at Oak Flat to Australian mining corporation Rio Tinto, but we are happy to take up the slack. Gosar was last seen in these pages as the House member who conspired with Arizona senators Jeff Flake and John McCain to attach the giveaway to a “must pass” defense bill.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spent over five hours getting grilled by Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It was a prime opportunity to confront Richards with video of Planned Parenthood selling body parts of fetuses….if such video existed outside the fevered imagination of Carly Fiorina. There being no evidence with which to confront Richards, they made speeches to each other and complained about her salary—which is not paid with public funds.
One of the attack dogs was the aforementioned Paul Gosar. Whether it’s denying health care to women or encouraging armed resistance to federal authorities, Arizonians can count on their man in Congress.
But the pièce de résistance of the Planned Parenthood roasting was brought forth by Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who finally confronted Richards with some “evidence.” Chaffetz projected a Cartesian chart purporting to show abortions going up and cancer screenings going down.
Surprised by the chart, Richards might be excused for not noticing immediately that it had no Y axis and so was mathematical gibberish but she did say it was incorrect. Chaffetz assured her it came directly from Planned Parenthood corporate filings. Unfortunately for Chaffetz, he neglected to remove the credit line on the slide: SOURCE: AMERICANS UNITED FOR LIFE.
Pants around his ankles, the Chair passed the witness.
“With all this noise,” my embarrassed Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller commented, “you would think Planned Parenthood is funded by the government.” Ray referred to the fact that most of the federal money Planned Parenthood gets is not grants or subsidies; it’s Medicaid reimbursement for providing healthcare to poor women.
Back when the Republicans were attacking Obamacare by arguing the mandate to buy insurance on the private market was unconstitutional, I knew the argument was nonsense, but it was professional historians who came up with a fact that trumped all kinds of legal opinions: the First Congress passed and President George Washington signed a law that required purchase of insurance on the private market.
Similarly, I knew that when Dr. Ben Carson opposed a Muslim becoming POTUS, he was disqualifying himself as unable to take an oath to follow the Constitution. Article VI sets out the content of the oath he can’t take, that all federal and state officers “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
I knew that because I’m a lawyer, but now come the historians with evidence that the prospect of a Muslim POTUS figured explicitly in the ratification debate. Time reported a complaint in Massachusetts that Article VI was “a door opened for Jews, Turks, and Heathens to enter into publick office.” Muslims were at the time described as “Turks.”
Similarly, in New Hampshire, “a Turk, a Jew, a Roman Catholic, and what is worse than all, a Universalist, may be President of the United States.”
North Carolina Federalist James Iredell opined in the ratification debate:
America has set an example to mankind to think more modestly and reasonably—that a man may be of different religious sentiments from our own, without being a bad member of society.
Iredell was later appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington.
Justin Peters panned the second Republican debate in Slate, and tossed off a rich description of the challenge facing moderator Jake Tapper to wrangle “ten type A personalities plus Jeb Bush.”
The Donald is in high dudgeon about Fox News allowing National Review editor Rich Lowry to comment on the second debate, “Carly Fiorina cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon.”
Trump demanded an apology from Fox and a fine of Lowry by the FCC. Lowry tweeted, “I love how Mr. Anti-PC now wants the FCC to fine me. #pathetic” and, directly to The Donald, “man, you can dish it out but you REALLY REALLY can’t take it.”
Dianna Duran is the first Republican elected Secretary of State in New Mexico in some 80 years. She is now facing a 64-count indictment charging that she converted campaign funds to her personal use (mostly in casinos) and then tried to cover up the transactions amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors have narrowed down the charges to transactions amounting to $13,000.
In alleged corruption on the other side of the aisle, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, about to lose the ability to do her job when the suspension of her law license kicks in, has announced that the charge she is facing—leaking grand jury testimony—involves an investigation of public officials accessing pornography on their work computers. She resolves to make the evidence public, creating the raciest public documents since the release of the Starr Report on how Bill Clinton “did not have sex with that woman.”
The Texas Observer reported that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Tea Party favorite currently facing three felony securities fraud indictments, took credit for the passage of the “pastor protection bill” in an appearance at the First Baptist Church in Grapevine. He related his Herculean efforts to make the political lift necessary to rescue religious people from being forced by the government to perform gay marriages.
How could Paxton get away with that when everybody with the IQ of a houseplant knows the First Amendment already protects religious people from that horrible fate? How could he get away with that when the bill passed 141 to 2? How could he get away with that when even the LGBT caucus voted in favor? Paxton’s appearance at the church was advertised as a Northeast Tarrant County Tea Party event.
“That explains why he was sure nobody knew about the Constitution,” Cousin Ray snarked, “but it does not explain why the First Baptist Church should have a tax exemption.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire has released a report on New Hampshire’s sliver of the national disgrace over jailing poor people who can’t pay traffic fines. The study concludes that New Hampshire spent $166,870 in 2013 in a futile attempt to collect $75,850 in fines. Cousin Ray was not impressed. “Why should I think New Hampshire turnips bleed any better than Texas turnips?”
Reuters reported that 717 were killed and 863 injured among Muslim pilgrims in Mina, Saudi Arabia, who were on their way to stone the Devil, one of the principal ceremonies of the Hajj, the sacred journey expected of every observant Muslim who is financially and physically able. Cousin Ray suggested that the Devil is fighting back.
Later in the week, the Saudi government put the death toll at 769. The Iranian government claimed the true body count was over 4,000.
Iran, which believes itself to be the leader of Shi’a Islam, had over 100 citizens killed and so used the occasion to criticize Saudi Arabia, which believes itself to be the head of Sunni Islam. All Muslims are supposed to put political rivalries aside during the Hajj.
The Taliban in Afghanistan took the northern city of Kunduz, the first taking of a major city since the U.S. invasion in 2001. The neocon claim will be President Obama is about to lose Afghanistan and we need to cease withdrawal.
Kunduz is in the north and the Taliban’s ethnic base, Pashtuns, are in the south. The fight for Kunduz was about 500 Taliban against about 7,000 government troops. “Training Afghans,” Cousin Ray snorted, “is going about as well as training Iraqis.”
Kim Davis, the clerk who won’t work in Georgia, visited privately with the pope.
Showing similar judgment, Pope Frank canonized Fr. Junipero Serra. The New York Times reported that somebody painted a “saint of genocide” graffito, which the police called a “hate crime,” and the Times reported on the reason for it:
Historians agree that he forced Native Americans to abandon their tribal culture and convert to Christianity, and that he had them whipped and imprisoned and sometimes worked or tortured to death.
“Frank’s a good man,” Cousin Ray sighed, “but a terrible judge of character.”