This week, conservatives’ anti-science agenda blew up in their faces, Republican Aaron Schock landed in hot water for his interior design choices, and Bobby Jindal got an enlightening makeover.
No Vaccine For Stupid
It started innocently enough. Asked about a recent measles outbreak during a visit to London, New Jersey governor Chris Christie responded by backing parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) weighed in, and — apparently channeling Michele Bachmann — said that vaccinations cause “profound mental disorders.” The usual anti-science wingnuttery ensued.
Conservatives tried to “teach the controversy,” but this time it didn’t work.
- California is considering a bill to end “personal belief exemptions” that allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who once contracted polio, spoke in support of vaccinations.
- House Speaker John Boehner said, “Every child should be vaccinated.”
- Rand Paul tried to walk back his statements, and even got himself a “booster vaccine” as a stunt.
- Fox News attempted to quarantine Christie, Paul, and the rest of the anti-vaxxers, with as much of a ringing endorsement of vaccinations as you’re likely to hear from the right.
An Office Fit For A …
Of all the rumors going around about Rep. Aaron Shrock (R-Ill.), there’s one we can definitely confirm. He doesn’t like to talk about it, but Rep. Aaron Shock is such a big fan of the hit PBS show “Downton Abbey,” that he had his Capitol Hill office decorated in the style of the “red room” on the show.
Washington Post writer Ben Terris created “a bit of a crisis” when he popped by Schock’s office to check things out. Then Schock’s interior decorator — Annie Brahler, of the (you can’t make the stuff up) Euro Trash design firm — invited him in to see the rest of the place. When Terris started snapping pictures, Schock’s communications director Benjamin Cole halted the tour, and later tried to pressure Terris into deleting the photographs and ditching the story.
Schock may have an ethical crisis on his hands. Brahler did the redesign for free, which may violate an old House rule prohibiting members from accepting “gifts of services, training, transportation, lodging, and meals,” valued at more than $50. Indeed, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed an ethics complaint against Schock for taking the free interior design work. Rep. Schock has offered to pay the decorator for her work, probably to avoid an ethics inquiry.
The real question here is, why would a guy who voted to defund PBS decorate his office in the style of a PBS show?
Benjamin Cole is now Rep. Schock’s former communications director. The spotlight on his boss also uncovered some of Cole’s racist Facebook posts
The National Zoo was closed that week, due to the federal government shutdown that Schock voted for, inspiring Cole to compare Blacks to zoo animals.
In another post, Cole suggested a mosque should be built on White House grounds, for the president.
Cole resigned following the revelation of his racially-charged comments. The question is, would anyone hire a communications director dumb enough to post stuff like that on social media? Probably. Some right-wing outfit will gladly put Cole on the payroll.
UPDATE: It just keeps getting better. Colby Itkowitz, at WaPo, uncovered that Benjamin Cole was once featured in a film about “saving” the Jews. Filmed in 1999, the hour-long documentary about the Southern Baptists efforts to convert Jews never aired, but it was posted to YouTube. It’s now posted here for your viewing pleasure.
Will The Real Piyush “Bobby” Jindal Please Stand Up?
This is a portrait of Louisiana’s Republican governor, Piyush Jindal, painted by a constituent. (Piyush is Jindal’s real first name, but he was nicknamed “Bobby” as a child — after the youngest son in “The Brady Bunch.”) On loan from the constituent, it hung in the governor’s office.
This is Piyush “Bobby” Jindal’s official portrait as governor.
This is Piyush “Bobby” Jindal.
Got a problem with that? Bobby Jindal says you’re a “race-baiter” if you do. Jindal is a big fan of forced “assimilation” for brown-skinned immigrants entering the U.S., but this is taking things a bit too far. It’s one thing to demand that people shed their cultural identity. It’s a whole other thing to expect them to shed some melanin, too.
Here’s the best of the rest of the worst in wingnuttery this week:
- Fox News became the U.S. propaganda arm of ISIS, when it posted the full video of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh being burned to death by his captors. But Fox got burned by the backlash against its foray into jihadist snuff films.
- A bill in the Utah legislature would make it illegal to have sex with an unconscious person, because an unconscious person can’t consent. Republican Rep. Brian Greene has a problem with that. “It looks to me now like sex with an unconscious person is, by definition, rape,” Green said, before going on to add that it shouldn’t be considered rape if “an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious.” Green now says his comments were “taken out of context.
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told an audience at the Bipartisan Policy Center that he doesn’t think restaurant employees should be required to wash their hands after a trip to the restroom. Be careful about shaking Tillis’ hand, if you’re ever in D.C.
- For twenty years, Sen. Rand Paul was a member of a medical group that promoted AIDS denialism, and believed that HIV was not the cause of AIDS. So Paul’s vaccine denialism shouldn’t come as a surprise.
- Presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee defended his stance against teenage dancing, while attacking President Obama’s pot-smoking past. “So, I mean, I just had to say, is this really controversial?“ Huckabee said of a column he wrote at 17-years-old, recommending ”that Christian teens stay away from dancing.“ ”I’d much rather have to defend this than say, yes, I used to regularly be apart of the choom gang,” Huckabee added, leaving little doubt who would have been more fun to hang out with in high school.
- Huckabee also said that asking Christians to accept same-sex marriage is “like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli … or like asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him, or to have dogs in his backyard.” But Huckabee says theres’ “room in the tent” for pro-marriage equality Republicans.
- Alabama Republican state Sen. Del Marsh worries that gay marriages would be too expensive .. for the government! “Let’s face it. If gay marriage is approved, I assume that those types of unions, those people would be entitled to Social Security benefits, insurance. Where does it end?” Marsh asked radio host Dale Jackson.
- West Virginia Republican state Delegate Brian Kurcaba suggested that rape can be “beautiful” if it produced a child. Kurcaba made the remarks during a House of Delegates discussion of a bill outlawing all abortions in the state after 20 weeks’ gestation.
- Former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell will have to pay $3.5 million for stalking and harassing his alma mater’s openly gay student body president. A federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling against Shirvell, who thought he had a First Amendment right to stalk and harass gay people.
- The 4 Winds, a conservative “sports ministry,” issued a press release this weekend criticizing Bruce Jenner for “promoting sin” and sending a “very bad message to the kids of America.” Jenner is reportedly transitioning into being a woman.
- Fox News is concerned that female-led movies like Frozen portray men as “evil and cold and bumblers,” amounting to misandry.
- Not even Super Bowl commercials were safe. Laura Ingraham attacked a Super Bowl commercial that was all about empowering girls.
- Creationists were up in arms over a Carnival Cruise commercial featuring John F. Kennedy talking about how “We are tied to the ocean.”
- Former member of Congress Alan West told Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg that Congress should censure President Obama for being an “Islamist sympathiser.”
- WorldNet Daily columnist Erik Rush wrote that President Obama “has become the chief facilitator of Islamist terror on a global scale” and “had a hand in orchestrating the Benghazi attack.”
- American Family Association President Tim Wildmon said on his radio program that President Obama might be a secret Muslim, “because he grew up in it over there in Indonesia or somewhere.”
- Tucker Carlson’s anti-Obamacare magazine went awry, when Colorado resident Steven Roussel told Carlson, “Well, I didn’t have any healthcare before the Affordable Healthcare Act went in. And it was because of that, that I was actually able to afford it.”
- Country singer Larry Gatlin wants to kick Rep. Alcee Hasting’s (D, Florida) butt, after Hastings called Texas a “crazy state” for not fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. Gatlin wrote a song about it, which was a big hit on Fox News.
- Glenn Beck tearfully begged his viewers to realize, “We’re living in the 1930s all over again.”
- Still reeling from President Obama’s re-election, Pat Robertson asked his “700 Club” audience, “can we survive as a nation these next two years before we get him replaced?”