A debate watcher’s guide to batshit-crazy Republicans!

Jones, Arnold WayneNow that Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race — technically, he has “suspended” his campaign, sort of the way a cattle rustler gets “suspended” from committing larceny by a vigilante posse — many gay Texans are probably scratching their Stetsons with quizzical looks on their faces wondering, “Garsh … who can I vote for now?!” Fear not, Log Cabinites! I have prepared this handy-dandy voters’ guide to help you navigate the remaining slate of GOP candidates, in more-or-less descending order of incompetence, ignorance and hate-mongering (including his or Carly’s current rounded average ranking in the polls according to RealClearPolitics.com). Keep it close as you watch the presidential debates on CNN tonight. It’s educational and fun!

Ted Cruz (7 percent) and Mike Huckabee (4 percent). No, these aren’t the same person, they just seem like it because they share the same batshit-crazy ideas. Both are fundamentalist Christians, and both foolishly cleave to their skewed understanding of the Bible, the role of religion in American politics and, frankly, our constitutional structure. Huckabee is slightly more of a dolt than Cruz, but when you factor in that the Canadian-born Cruz is a lawyer whereas Huckabee just a hick from the sticks and an ordained preacher, you can forgive the ignorant redneck slightly more. Both think that Kim Davis had a right not to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Both, surprisingly, think that the Dred Scott decision — which was overturned by an amendment to the Constitution — is still good law and it’s just that no one enforces it. Both are more loyal to God than to their oaths, logic or humanity as a whole. They are homophobic demons who, if there were a God, would have been struck down by lightning years ago for perverting Her message.

Ben Carson (18 percent). Ben Carson was a pioneering surgeon at separating conjoined twins, but that seems to be where his educational achievements and intellectual pursuits end as well. He is a climate-change denier. He does not believe in the “myth” of evolution and has no reason to doubt the earth is as old as the Bible says. (Carbon dating is irrelevant, according to Carson, cuz God could make anything as old as He wanted.) He takes the “political” position that homosexuality is a sin, and suggested that prison “makes” people gay. He’s compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, and had to apologize for it. He’s black, but thinks “Black Lives Matters” is divisive. He wants a flat tax and to abolish the I.R.S. (How you collect even flat taxes without the I.R.S.? Not sure.) As a non-politician, Carson is ignorant of the world as a whole, admittedly lacking familiarity with such issues as Israeli political parties and NATO members. I somehow doubt he could find Canadian-born Ted Cruz’s homeland on a map if we spotted him Mexico and the U.S. Short course: He’s a kook.

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Donald Trump (29 percent). At his appearance in Dallas Monday (in a not-sold-out American Airlines Center, not that he’ll ‘fess up to that), Trump rambled on and on with drivel and self-aggrandizing statements about football, himself and himself again. Because Trump is not a politician and has never been elected to any office, he thinks broad-stroke ideas about “jobs” and “immigration” substitute for specifics. So, for instance, he wants to fight immigration by building a 2,000-mile-long wall on the southern U.S. border and “making Mexico pay for it.” (How you force a foreign country to pay for an infrastructure program on your own soil he’s vague about.) He also promises to increase American jobs … but won’t say how. (He’s knows he can’t just say “You’re fired!” to the elderly and children, right?) He has a foolproof plan to combat ISIS, but will only share it if we elect him. (Gee, you’d think he’d want to prevent genocide ASAP; guess not.)  He will consider shutting down the U.S. government in its entirety to prevent Planned Parenthood from getting any federal funding. For the record, PP gets about $550 million in public monies; the 16-day 2013 government shutdown cost the economy $24 billion, or about 44 times as much as PP gets, according to S&P. (Anyone who would spend $24 billion to save $550 million shows exactly why he’s forced so many of his companies into bankruptcy.) He also devolves to ad hominen insults against others, from attacking Carly Fiorina’s face and John McCain’s war record. His statements about gay issues aren’t the worst among the Republican slate, actually — he acts resigned to SCOTUS’ marriage equality ruling, if not enthusiastic about it — but his overall incompetence, abrasiveness and arrogance make him the most likely to ruin America in the long run. America isn’t a business you leverage — it’s a nation of people whom you serve. Folks like Trump don’t get that.

Carly Fiorina (4 percent). The best thing Fiorina has going for her? Being the undeserved target of The Donald’s jackass-fueled vitriol. (Vitriol! Regular Unleaded and Premium available as your local KKK fill-up station!) Worst thing about her? Literally every other fact of her life. Just as Carson is the GOP’s “black friend,” Carly is their “girlfriend,” the one woman in a lineup larger than the Miss American pageant who proves Republicans have nothing against chicks. What they don’t have is any skill in picking a good one. (Possible reason: All qualified women are too smart to be members of the Republican party.) Fiorina is a failed candidate for public office, and was a disaster as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, eventually getting fired for virtually running the tech giant into the ground. I, for one, am not a fan of the “business folks can be good chief executives of the nation” line of reasoning, but if it were true, don’t you want one who actually did a good job? Romney’s business background makes her look like a schoolchild with a lemonade stand at the North Pole.  She’s anti-choice, anti-marriage equality, was pro-Prop 8 and pro-gun nuttery.

Rick Santorum (1 percent). He’s just as much a fundamentalist, just as crazy, as Mike and Canadian-born Ted, but because he’s barely even alive in the polls, he’s less of threat to sanity. On the plus side, his name is a synonym for sloppy, dirty gay sex. Oh, and he’s anti-abortion but his wife had an abortion. So he’s also a hypocrite. Sound familiar?

Bobby Jindal (n/a). Another non-entity from a political standpoint, he’s anti-immigration even though his parents were immigrants; he’s a fundamentalist about Christianity, even though he converted to the faith as an adult. He’s one of the worst state executives in the country, ruining his state’s economy, then doubling down to welcome homophobic groups to his state just as Ohio was backing off from their ill-fated effort at institutionalized hatred. He’s not just a nut — he’s a coconut. If he weren’t such a blip in the polls, he’d probably be higher on this list.

Rand Paul (3 percent). Another doctor-who-seems-to-know-nothing, Paul was a darling until his overwrought devotion to libertarianism got him in hot water with the GOP faithful. He’s actually said we don’t need the EPA or the Clean Water Act because the environment has never been better in 50 years … right, because that’s when we passed the EPA and Clean Water Act. Like all doctrinaire goofballs, he can’t see the error of his logic. But at least he didn’t run to Kentucky to embrace Kim Davis … and he’s from Kentucky.

Marco Rubio (6 percent). This sad wannabe looks like what the GOP thinks voters want, sort of the way Steve Guttenberg became a movie star. No one really thinks he’s qualified, but he’s young and attractive and speaks Spanish (but won’t because “Immigrants!”) and so will give the Republicans someone to hold up to voters younger than Chuck Norris to support. Trouble is, no one in the base feels that way, so while Rubio might stand a chance in the general, he’s a non-starter in the primaries. He’s also not very bright, so far as I see. He’s pro-life (i.e., anti-choice), opposes equal pay for women, has voted against raising the debt limit, was pro-DOMA and basically stands as a party-line hack.

Lindsey Graham (n/a). I do declare! This closet case has only two saving graces: First, even South Carolina Republicans can’t put him on the polls, and second, he’s close friends with Joe Biden. Frankly, I’d like to see a face-off between Biden and Graham in the general. At least it would appear civilized.

Scott Walker (4 percent). His greatest claim to fame is surviving a recall election and demonizing unions and teachers, but ever since he actually started running for president, this cheesehead has been virtually irrelevant on the national scene. He’s not even doing all that well in Iowa, which is right next door to his state. He’s just the latest example of a small-state governor with a national profile who thinks popularity at home translates into higher national office. Ummm, he’s wrong.

Jeb! (8 percent). Since the B in Jeb stands for Bush, he doesn’t get a last name. But he also hasn’t earned the exclamation point. He’s the tone-deaf zero of the pack, the slow-witted assistant high school principal who believes the kids think he’s cool, even though they know he’s a tool. With Colbert last week, he acted like he was on the edge politically when he said, “I don’t think Obama has bad motives.” Whoa! Imagine! He flirts with alienating his base by assuming our president wants to do a good job! If that doubles for “moderate” in the GOP, you see why Jeb doesn’t generate as much support even in his party as “undecided.” Like his brother, I think he’s actually a good guy who is so desperate to be president as a kind of birthright, he’ll betray every instinct he has to win. Oh, and his handling of the Terri Schiavo incident also makes him a total dick. That’s someone you can’t trust.

Chris Christie (2 percent). Even I was surprised that Christie managed to appear so near the “top” of my “not the worst candidate” list, but given the clown car that is the GOP slate, that’s like saying, “which rusty knife do you want plunged into your eye?” He’s a typical Jersey politician, an opportunist who, more than anyone aside Trump, “tells it like it is” but who is actually quite dangerous. He’s not an enemy to, for instance, the gay community, but he’ll never be a reliable friend. He’s comfortable wadded in scandal. He’s the Bill Clinton of the GOP, and I mean that in the worst possible way.

John Kasich (3 percent). I have very little respect for someone who will attend a gay wedding and then come out against it “officially,” as this man did. But considering that he has experience in Congress and as a chief executive, he’s got the political chops and the history that make him, at a minimum, qualified. Which is more than you can say about every other person in the debate.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Perry suspends presidential campaign


Former governor and former presidential candidate Rick Perry.

Jesus has told Rick Perry to suspend his campaign for president, and Rick is listening, according to NPR.

Speaking at the Eagle Forum conference today in Missouri, the former governor of Texas said: “When I gave my life to Christ, I said, ‘Your ways are greater than my ways. Your will superior to mine.’ Today I submit that His will remains a mystery, but some things have become clear. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.”

I wish Jesus would have spoken up earlier and talked to Rick about not running for governor. Ever. Anyway.

Perry has had trouble getting any traction since Day 1 in this, his second presidential campaign. He is at or near the bottom of a very crowded field of candidates — Donald Trump, frighteningly enough, leads the pack — and he was forced to stop paying staffers last month.

—  Tammye Nash

Rick Perry’s broke. Whoops


Former Gov. Rick Perry

Former Gov. Rick Perry stopped paying his staff at his national campaign headquarters in Austin and in early primary and caucus states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, The Washington Post is reporting.

According to the Post, Perry told his staff on Friday, the day after the first Republican debate, that the money has dried up.

But does the lack of money mean Perry will be the first of the — currently 18 — Republican candidates to drop out of the race? His super-PAC has plenty of money, but since a super-PAC can’t coordinate with a campaign, it had no idea about the cash flow problem at the campaign.

The super-PAC is gearing up to expand its operation, but it’s not clear if that means hiring all those campaign workers.

Either way, Perry said he’s committed to participating in the early caucuses and primaries.

In a poll by NBC/SurveyMonkey, Rick Perry remained at 2 percent support after the debate. The poll showed no one thought he did best in the debate and 2 percent thought he did worst.

—  David Taffet

Rick Perry: Boy Scouts would ‘be better off’ without gay Scoutmasters

Perry.Rick_Jesus Christ, give this guy a closet already.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said yesterday (Sunday, July 19) the Boy Scouts would be “better off” without openly gay or bisexual Scoutmasters.

The Republican, who is now making his second presidential bid, made the remarks on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday (Sunday, July 19).

The Irving-based Boy Scouts of America, now lead by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, recently repealed the organization’s ban on openly gay or bisexual leadership.

“You wrote this in a book in 2008. And it was about scouting. And you said this: ‘Openly active gays, particular advocates, present a problem. Because gay activism is central to their lives. It would unavoidably be a topic of conversation within a scout troop. This would distract from the mission of scouting, character building, not sex education.’ Do you still stand by that statement?,” host Chuck Todd asked.

“I do,” he replied. “I believe that scouting would be better off, if they didn’t have openly gay scoutmasters.”

Fellow Republican candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently made a similar comment before backtracking on CNN.

In 2013, the organization lifted its ban on allowing openly gay or bisexual scouts.

The interview can be found below:

—  James Russell

Even Rick Perry thinks Greg Abbott is a dumbass


Gov. Greg Abbott wearing his tinfoil hat

You know you’ve sunk to a new low when Woody Allen calls you a child molester, when Bill Cosby calls you a rapist or when Rick Perry points out that you’re a dumbass.

According to a Dallas local newspaper that endorsed Greg Abbott for governor — I don’t want to embarrass the Dallas Morning News by mentioning them by name — former Gov. Rick Perry said Abbott went too far in questioning U.S. military exercises in Texas.

Last week, Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor U.S. military operations in Texas. The exercise, dubbed “Jade Helm 15,” is taking place in Texas and several other states and has anti-Obama conspiracy theorists going wild.

Apparently Abbott thinks if things get out of hand, the Texas State Guard can control things.

Perry called the U.S. military “trustworthy” and said Abbott “went too far.”

President Barack Obama should call Abbott and ask him if he’d like the U.S. to move its bases out of Texas. Closing Fort Hood would devastate the Central Texas economy and any state would proudly house an installation of that size.

Fort Hood is the largest U.S. Army base in the country. I’m not military strategist but I’m just kinda wondering here if that just may be one of the reasons military exercises are taking place in Texas.

—  David Taffet

See? You can be a more embarrassingly stupid governor than Rick Perry


Greg Abbott pandering in front of the 11 Commandments monument at the state Capitol

The U.S. military is conducting regular military exercises in South Texas. That, of course, led to the conspiracy theorists gathering at town hall meetings and worrying that Obama was invading Texas and confiscating our guns. The exercise is dubbed “Jade Helm 15.”

Rather than ignore the people wearing tin foil hats, Gov. Greg Abbott is making a name for himself nationally by addressing the controversy and protecting the state from being overrun by putting the Texas State Guard on standby.

Progress Texas ran five headlines, including a plea from the newspaper that endorsed him, The Dallas Morning News: “Please don’t feed the conspiracy theorists, Gov. Abbott.”

Well, since Progress Texas ran its piece, the story has caught on across the country.

“U.S. military says it isn’t invading Texas, but Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t taking any chances,” reads the headline in The Birmingham News. Embarrassing when an Alabama newspaper is making fun of Texas.

Wait, it gets better. By the time Abbott gets through with his term, we won’t be able to proudly proclaim, “Thank God for Mississippi.”

Here’s a quote I got from Abbott about how he’s protecting the state (It’s embarrassingly from the Biloxi Sun-Herald. Yes, even Mississippi is in on the fun, but who can blame them?):

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

Daily Beast headline: Texas Guv Surrenders to Conspiracy Nuts

Salon: Right-wing lunatics think the military is planning to invade Texas

Dallas Morning News: Ex-GOP lawmaker blisters Abbott for ‘pandering to idiots’ over military exercise

Wait, you endorsed him, right?

Well, Abbott has set the tone. It should be a fun four years covering him and his antics. You ever think you’d be saying these words? “Remember the good old days when Rick Perry was governor?”

—  David Taffet

Rick Perry to New Hampshire audience: Keep on farmin’ in the free world

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Freedom fighter and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Do you remember the good old days? When government didn’t get in the way of good ol’ Texas wheat farmers selling their product to Soviet Russia? Before the era of big government was over — unless you were in the banking industry? Before that closeted Communist President Jimmy Carter lead a boycott against the 1980 Moscow Olympics over its invasion of Afghanistan?


The half-dozen young people listening to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry talk yesterday (Thursday, April 16) in rural New Hampshire probably don’t either.

Thankfully for Perry, who is mulling his second presidential bid, most of the attendees at his “youth summit” were geriatric.

At Milford High School, Perry said that former President Jimmy Carter’s boycott of the 1980 Olympics was devastating for business if you were a wheat farmer, like Perry was – and for the kids.

“Remember 1979?” Mr. Perry asked the audience. “Remember where we were in 1979? No. 1, we were at 20 percent interest rates. Our kids were boycotted from going to the Olympics. President Carter made that decision. He didn’t let our wheat to be sold to Russia. I know. I was a wheat farmer.”

But Carter just didn’t kill business. As an advocate for youth around the world, Perry said he’s mad because the 1980 boycott killed so many young athletes’ dreams.

“These are kids who in some cases had spent their entire lives working to go represent America,” he said. “To use them as a tool, I think was in particular bad judgment, and I don’t think it had a bit of influence.”

After addressing the Most Pressing Issue of the Day, Perry bounced back from his 2012 campaign blunder. This time he remembered all three of the government projects he’d abolish: Common Core, No Child Left Behind and, of course, Obama’s ruthless reign of healthcare terror.

Since Texas can’t secede from America, he told the crowd, let’s make America become Texas. Perry touted his economic record in the state, dubbed the “Texas [$7.25 an hour] Miracle.” Watch me make the Texas Miracle into the American Miracle, he declared. Under President Perry, you too will be able to sell your wheat and take your ice skates to Russia.

Evoking a song by that other famous Canadian (the one not running for president), President Perry basically told the crowd: under me, you’ll be farmin’ in the free world.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Judge declines to toss Perry indictment case


Former Gov. Rick Perry

A state judge declined today (Tuesday, Jan. 27) to toss an indictment against former Gov. Rick Perry for abuse of power, the San Antonio New-Express reports.

Perry was indicted last summer after he threatened to veto funding for the public corruption unit in the Travis County District Attorney’s office. He stated the Democratic incumbent Rosemary Lehmberg had lost the public’s trust after being arrested for drunk driving. After Lehmberg refused to resign, Perry cut the funding.

Lehmberg, a Democrat, decided to not seek re-election.

A complaint filed by Texans for Public Justice alleged Perry abused his official capacity and accused him of “coercion of a public servant.”

Perry, who is mulling a second presidential run, has reportedly paid his legal team  $1 million out of his campaign war chest.


—  James Russell

GOP presidential candidates run toward 2016


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

This past weekend, potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders spoke to the grassroots. They’re gearing up for what’s expected to be a blood bath, pitting establishment Republicans against those more aligned with the Tea Party.

Up in Des Moines, Iowa, 20 presidential contenders spoke at the inaugural Iowa Freedom Summit, hosted by the hard right Rep. Steve King and conservative advocacy group Citizens United. Among the speakers were broke straight boy and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, business mogul Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The goal of the summit, according to its website, was to “bring grassroots activists from across Iowa to hear directly from conservative leaders on how we can get America back on track by focusing on our core principles of pro-growth economics, social conservatism, and a strong national defense.”

The perceived “establishment” — perennial candidate Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — were not in attendance. But another establishment contender, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, braved the event and bellowed to the crowd.

The Huffington Post reported that, fortunately for us, same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues were not high on the agenda. In fact, the only mention of same-sex marriage was when King, introducing Christie, mentioned his veto of a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in his state. But these potential candidates’ agendas speak far louder than their words. Cruz, for instance, needn’t worry about his conservative bonafides. He has announced plans to introduce an amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage anyway even if the Supreme Court makes marriage equality legal nationwide.

Fortunately Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another 2016 contender, filled the hate gap. Speaking at the “The Response: Louisiana,” a prayer rally sponsored by the staunchly anti-LGBT American Family Association on the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Jindal spoke for 15 minutes about God, himself, moral decay and the United States. He insisted it wasn’t a chance to score political points with social conservatives.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Lambda Legal sues TDCJ on behalf of trans inmate


Jael Humphrey

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit today (Thursday, Oct. 23), on behalf of Passion Star, a trans woman being housed with male prisoners in the Texas prison system. The lawsuit claims that officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have “displayed deliberate indifference to threats of sexual assault and violence against Ms. Star in TDCJ’s male facilities,” according to a statement released this afternoon.

“Ms. Star has been pleading for protection from rapes, beatings, knifings and threats to her life since she entered TDCJ custody as a teenager, but instead of separating her from aggressors, Texas prison officials have forced her to remain in the general population in male prisons, even though the risk that she would be seriously harmed was obvious,” said Lambda Legal staff attorney Jael Humphrey.

“It is absolutely appalling how TDCJ officials, following the clear lead of Gov. Rick Perry, callously ignore the desperate pleas of Ms. Star and other LGBT people in custody asking to be protected from sexual abuse,” Humphrey added.

Star, now 30, was still a teenager when she pled guilty to charges of aggravated kidnapping, charges that were based on allegations that Star’s boyfriend refused to return to the dealership a used car they were test driving, instead driving around for several hours with the car salesman as an unwilling passenger in the front seat. Star herself was in the back seat.

Star was sentenced to 20 years and transferred into TDCJ custody, and has been housed with male inmates since.

Humphrey said Star has been housed in six different male prison facilities, and that inmates at all six have identified her as feminine. She has been raped, forced to submit to unwanted sexual acts to avoid physical violence and threatened with sexual assault.

Attorneys say Star has filed numerous grievances, complaints and requests asking to be placed in safekeeping. But instead of taking measures to protect her, prison officials have instead told Star to “suck dick,” fight or “stop acting gay” if she wants to keep from being assaulted.

Lambda Legal alleges that on Nov. 19, 2013, Star asked TDCJ officials to protect her from a gang member who had told her that he “owned her.” But instead of protecting her, prison officials actually moved her closer to the person who was threatening her. The next morning, the gang member attacked Star, calling her a “snitching faggot” and slashing her face eight times with a razor.

Still, prison officials refused to move Star to protect her.

Humphrey noted that the Prison Rape Elimination Act, passed by a unanimous vote of Congress, requires states to take measures to eliminate sexual abuse of those in custody and provides guidelines on how to do that — including screening and separating particularly vulnerable people, like trans women, from the general population. Gov. Perry, however, has dismissed the PREA standards as “ill-conceived” and chose to pass up federal funds earmarked by the Department of Justice for the prevention of sexual abuse in detention facilities.

In a written statement released by Lambda Legal, Star said, “Somebody, somehow, needs to shed light on what is taking place here in Texas prisons. TDCJ officials get away with so much and disregard so many legitimate threats to people’s safety. It needs to stop somewhere. I fight for my life every day in here. Safety from rape and assault is not a privilege; it’s a right. I hope this lawsuit will help make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Kenneth Upton and Paul Castillo are handling the case, joined by co-counsel Christina N. Goodrich, Christopher J. Kondon and Saman M. Rejali with K&L Gates LLP.

—  Tammye Nash