Obama Signing Statement: The NDAA Doesn’t Apply To US Citizens

Dec 31 2011

In his signing statement attached to the NDAA, President Obama made it clear that the language about detentions does not apply to US citizens.

In the second paragraph of his NDAA signing statement, Obama stated, “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Over the last several years, my Administration has developed an effective, sustainable framework for the detention, interrogation and trial of suspected terrorists that allows us to maximize both our ability to collect intelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals in rapidly developing situations, and the results we have achieved are undeniable. Our success against al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents has derived in significant measure from providing our counterterrorism professionals with the clarity and flexibility they need to adapt to changing circumstances and to utilize whichever authorities best protect the American people, and our accomplishments have respected the values that make our country an example for the world.”

The president explained why he signed the NDAA, “Against that record of success, some in Congress continue to insist upon restricting the options available to our counterterrorism professionals and interfering with the very operations that have kept us safe. My Administration has consistently opposed such measures. Ultimately, I decided to sign this bill not only because of the critically important services it provides for our forces and their families and the national security programs it authorizes, but also because the Congress revised provisions that otherwise would have jeopardized the safety, security, and liberty of the American people. Moving forward, my Administration will interpret and implement the provisions described below in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded.”

Obama then strongly debunked once and for all the notion that the NDAA detention provisions apply to American citizens, “Section 1021 affirms the executive branch’s authority to detain persons covered by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note). This section breaks no new ground and is unnecessary. The authority it describes was included in the 2001 AUMF, as recognized by the Supreme Court and confirmed through lower court decisions since then. Two critical limitations in section 1021 confirm that it solely codifies established authorities. First, under section 1021(d), the bill does not “limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.” Second, under section 1021(e), the bill may not be construed to affect any “existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.” My Administration strongly supported the inclusion of these limitations in order to make clear beyond doubt that the legislation does nothing more than confirm authorities that the Federal courts have recognized as lawful under the 2001 AUMF. Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”

The Lawfare blog, translated section 1022 into plain English, “We would also note that, under a plain-language reading, section 1022 would not even cover persons apprehended in the U.S. by the FBI or other law-enforcement officials: That provision applies only to a person “who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the AUMF”—and in the case of a domestic FBI or other law-enforcement arrest, presumably neither the arresting entity nor the individual would be engaged in “hostilities authorized by the AUMF.” On this reading—which is fortified by the language clarifying that 1022 does not affect FBI authorities—the statute could only apply in the first instance to someone captured by a U.S. agency acting pursuant to the AUMF, which in effect would mean apprehensions by the armed forces overseas.”

Lawfare also pointed out that although Section 1022 is both ambiguous and toothless it is troubling because the message it sends it that the American legislature prefers indefinite detentions. The language added to the NDAA could potentially undo much of the work of the Obama administration to show the world the prosecutions are our preferred method to deal with suspects.

In summary and for the millionth time, the detention provisions do not apply to the NDAA. The law itself states that it does not apply to American citizens. Some people will still continue to feed their mistrust of government, but it is in black and white. It was written in the revised legislation.

The NDAA is a terrible law because it forbids the funding to close GITMO. It is a terrible law because the language of the bill contains a predisposition towards indefinite detentions. The language used is the right’s attempt to revive the policies of the war on terror. The NDAA is lousy because what it is advocating runs counter to who we are as a people and what this great nation stands for. The NDAA stinks for all of these reasons and many more, but it is NOT lousy because it allows for the detention of US citizens.

Those who believe that Obama should have vetoed the NDAA don’t seem to realize that what they are asking for is that the military go unfunded. The NDAA is a yearly funding measure, and as such could be amended when a new, and hopefully saner Congress is sworn into session to remove the war on terror language that this Congress foolishly in a bit of near election year pandering passed.

Too many Democrats went along with supporting the NDAA, and those members of Congress along with their detention and torture loving GOP colleagues must be held accountable. I know that it is easier to blame the president for everything, because he is but one man, but the truth that we need to clean out and disinfect this Congress.

Yes, Obama signed the NDAA. Even if he would have vetoed it, an override would have been likely. His veto would have been nothing more than an empty symbolic gesture that would have caused more problems than it solved.

The NDAA does a lot of things, but the one thing it does not do is authorize the detention of American citizens. As we head into to 2012, can we finally put this bogus piece of misinformation to bed?

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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Republicans

Dec 31 2011

We all seem to make New Year’s resolutions, so here are a few recommended resolutions for our Republican friends:

Cry Less!

We liberals are supposed to be the bleeding hearts–the crying, whiny ones–and you conservatives are supposed to be hardened pragmatists who are tough on everything from crime to government freeloaders to dealing with terra-ists. Actually, you’re supposed to be tough on everyone but millionaires and billionaires.

Then why is it that every time I turn on the television, you’re crying about one thing or another? Either it’s John Boehner crying because he’s impressed with himself for becoming Speaker of the House, or it’s New Gingrich crying at the thought of his late mother.

There’s nothing wrong with sentimentality, but crying is for liberals.

Less Gay Sex!

Personally, I don’t care who you have sex with, even if you’re married; however, if you’re obsessed with “traditional family values,” marriage being defined as being between a man and woman in the Constitution, and fighting against the right for gay Americans to have the same rights as the rest of us, then you probably shouldn’t have gay affairs.

It makes you look bad.

According to the LGBTQ Web site, if there’s a gay sex scandal involving a politician, then there’s a two in three chance that it will involve a Republican.

Be Careful of What You Say!

If you’re serious about becoming President, then you need to be very cognizant of what you say long before you’re a household name in Ames, Iowa.

For instance, if you write a book and someday want to be elected by the general population (not just the extreme conservatives of the world), don’t blame AIDS victims for their disease. and don’t recommend that people being sexually harassed at work share some responsibility for the problem when they don’t quit their jobs after being harassed, which is what Ron Paul said in his earlier book (according to CNN).

If those who are sexually harassed left their jobs, wouldn’t that create a job crisis for Godfather’s Pizza joints all across the country?

Be Careful of What You Do!

I know we’re talking about politics, but what you do is sometimes still more important than what you say.

For instance, if you’re trying to pretend that you’re a diehard Republican so that you can win a primary fight against other diehard Republicans, you probably shouldn’t have implemented a state-run healthcare system that mirrors the one that is being attacked by the group from whom you’re trying to get votes. This is especially true when you implemented the plan when you were governor of a liberal state and have since spent month after month after month attacking your own program–sort of–at least on some days.

You’ll soon look like someone who will say anything to get elected, and ambition without principle is not an endearing (or electable) quality.

In other words, you’ll look like Mitt Romney.

Reduce Budget for Spray-On Tanning/Tanning Salons

We’ve all got to cut back during these difficult times–even you John Boehner.

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Iowa: What To Expect On Caucus Night And After

Dec 31 2011

There is no better moment to make predictions than hours before they can be tested. That in mind, what follows is my take on what we can expect to see on the the day of the Iowa Caucuses, and in the immediately following few weeks.

It’s critical to understand that we are standing on the precipice of a housecleaning. Iowa does not elect the president, but it does decide which candidates get to move forward. It’s time to lose some deadwood. Who knows, that fact might even provide a touch of spice to the coming debates.

My crystal ball:

Paul may eke a victory in Iowa with a small margin, but any tight finish is a win for Romney. Santorum will perform strongly, absorbing the last vapors of hope from the Perry and Bachmann campaigns. Gingrich will likely stay in the double digits, and will make vague shouts after the tally about staying in the race for the next few states. He probably won’t, as his fundraising will collapse following a fourth place finish.

Perry and Bachmann will both begin to look for an open door the very next day. Romney, ebullient after a strong finish in the first state (where he had been written off some hundred times in the last few months), will, in all likelihood, shortly pick up at least one of their endorsements. It will come down to monetary dance. Bachmann likely has enough debt that she is willing to go back on her previous sharp remarks on the Governor, provided he picks up her tab. Perry might have enough cash to close out his race sans the need to grovel. That will become clear once the numbers come out. However, given that his chance of endorsing Ron Paul is near zero, and with Gingrich set to fade away back to his Gollum-cave, his choices appear to narrow to one.

If he needs the money, expect him to say hello to Massachusetts quickly. If not, it could take time.

Paul’s campaign is geared up for the great spate of coming states, has the money to keep his candidacy going, and has more than enough of a volunteer base to keep pushing forward. However, once Romney locks up New Hampshire and does well in South Carolina, he will essentially be the nominee. Paul may force the longer slog, mostly because his base is unlikely to abandon him, even as the establishment coalesces around the only candidate that they ever found to be palatable.

At that point a two horse race is the reality (discounting Huntsman who is running, effectively, for the nomination in 2016 after Romney is womped by the sitting President), which will, after Romney locks down a host of delegates, culminate in a dull convention of broken dreams and bitter disappointment. Congratulations Mitt, you finally won. Not the general election of course, but you can count that your Wikipedia page will glom on a few new words.

And that’s that. The comments are yours: What do you see happening?

8 responses so far

2011: The Year The Republican Party Repeatedly Humiliated America

Dec 31 2011

It is beneficial, and often distressing, to look back over the past year and attempt to rationalize the conduct of politicians elected to serve the American people to predict where the country is headed. The biggest news of 2011 is not the various Republican assaults on job creation, or holding the debt ceiling hostage nearly sending America into a credit default, or their extremist presidential candidates, but their sustained assault on the poor, women, children, and senior citizens. There is a famous quote that says; “The measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members” and although there is questionable attribution related to those few words, it certainly is relevant to the lack of humanity inherent in a major segment of the population and especially the Republican Party.

If an independent entity measured Republicans’ treatment of America’s weakest members, they would assign labels like disgraceful, hateful, and reprehensible for the vile attacks on the population in general, but the poor and minorities in particular. When referring to the poor, minorities, women, and seniors as weakest members, it is important to remember that in America, weakness is relative to income and influence in government. The Occupy Movement understands this simple fact and it is why the best summation of their entire purpose was nicely articulated by a protestor who said, “we want government to work for the people; not just the wealthy and corporations.” Republicans have not only rigged the government to work for the wealthy, they actively sought legislative means to punish those least able to fend for themselves or have a voice in the government tasked with serving them.

There are volumes written about Republicans’ assault on women in 2011, and with over 1,000 bills in states and Congress meant to deprive them of their constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment, there is ample evidence Republicans distinguished themselves as having low-moral character. The sad fact that many conservative Christian voters support the GOP’s assault of Planned Parenthood that serves primarily low-income women with family planning, contraception, and cancer screening means that as a country, America is better measured against extremists in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan than a modern industrialized society.

Republicans have also assailed senior citizens who built this country into the (once) great nation it would become only to fall into disrepair because the GOP rejected job creation plans to rebuild roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals. Retired Americans who paid into their retirement (Social Security) and healthcare accounts (Medicare) for their entire working lives have been charged with taking welfare from the government that Republicans claim is better spent on enriching the wealthy and Wall Street.

There is no better measure of America than how we treat children, single mothers, and those stuck in dire poverty. Within the ranks of the poor lie the real victims of Republicans’ malfeasance and contempt; minorities. It is true, that in late 2011, there were one-in-two Americans at or very close to the federal poverty level, and at nearly 50%, it is more than just minorities who are affected by Republican Draconian spending cuts.  However, before they slashed spending to eliminate countless public jobs, Republicans slashed spending on programs that assisted low-income minorities, including seniors, women, and children.

Republicans have assaulted the middle class since the beginning of 2011, but their primary emphasis was on inner-city, low-income minorities. The GOP cannot stand before the American people and claim ignorance for the spending cuts that target minorities, because House Speaker John Boehner said,  “No one here in this Congress, Democrat or Republican, wants to do anything about putting holes in the safety net for Americans. There are Americans who are poor, and I think it’s the responsibility of the rest of us to ensure that they have food in their stomachs and they have a roof over their head.” Lofty words that should have evoked tears of humanity from the House Speaker, but Republicans spent nearly all of 2011 pushing spending cuts that would slash low-income benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, heating assistance and housing subsidies and John Boehner supported all of those cuts. The groups most impacted are the poorest Americans including senior citizens, children, the infirm, single-mothers, and the poorest of the poor; rural and inner-city minorities.

The Republicans are a humiliation for Americans who have even the slightest hint of humanity and if cutting programs that help the weakest among us was not enough, there is the issue of disenfranchising voters from the ranks of the poor. In nearly every state legislature that Republicans control, there are efforts to restrict voting among the demographics that are most impacted by GOP spending cuts. Students, minorities, senior citizens, and the poor have been targeted with laws to suppress votes and it is no coincidence Republicans target the groups most likely to vote for Democratic candidates who have fought for the weakest members of our society. In those Republican-controlled legislatures, unrealistic limitations on voter registration, early voting, and out-of-state students is meant to keep Democrats from winning and eventually staunching safety net spending cuts Republicans are so fond of passing.

The worst aspect of Republican assaults on the poor is their claim that spending cuts and deficit reduction measures create jobs. Republicans have not only killed jobs and job creation plans with their spending cuts keeping the weakest members of society poor, but they have the audacity to tell them to go find work. The assault on African-Americans is most egregious and it is a measure of insult and inhumanity to tell Black Americans they were better off living in slavery than under the Obama presidency, and then guarantee they stay poor, starving, and homeless by eliminating jobs with their cuts.

If America was judged by the way Republicans treat the weakest members of society, this country would be labeled the most hate-filled, morally bankrupt country in the history of the world. The only saving grace is that Republicans are not in control of all 50 states or both houses of Congress and the White House. However, with Republicans controlling just the House of Representatives, they have caused more damage to women, seniors, children, minorities, and students than in recent memory and it is a blemish on this nation’s  image at home and abroad. Republicans are so morally deficient, that all of the candidates for the GOP nomination for president promise more inhumane legislation and executive orders that eliminate departments of housing and urban development, privatizing or ending Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, abolishing child labor laws, and eliminating the minimum wage. The goal behind ending those programs is to take the savings and hand them to the wealthy and corporations.

This country is better than the Republicans who have decimated the poor and now that they have begun assailing the middle class, the public is finally expressing outrage. Of course, with nearly half of the country at or near poverty, the middle class is disappearing and giving more entertainment value to Republicans who take great pleasure at besetting doom and gloom poverty on more of America. 2011 will go down in history as the year America became a society of cold-hearted and callous people who were measured and came up lacking in basic humanity for treating our weakest, poorest, oldest, and sickest citizens as little more than dirt. Decent Americans weep at the plight of the poor, child hunger, homelessness, and destitution of the elderly, but Republicans see the disadvantaged and devise novels ways to increase their numbers. Because of the GOP’s policies and agendas in 2011, the measure of our society is a vile, shameful nation.

Image: critterscrap.com

 

25 responses so far

The Dirty Thirty Year End Edition

Dec 31 2011

It’s been a rough year for America and Americans, particularly for American women, but also for minorities, immigrants, the environment and for the U.S. Constitution. On March 14, 2011 we first published a list of thirty pieces of Republican legislation “that Republicans are using to destroy America” and called it “The Dirty Thirty.” That original list has been updated several times and grown significantly although the list is incomplete, given there have been a thousand bills alone restricting a woman’s right to abortion. If most of the laws directed toward Women’s Reproductive Rights seem petty and punitive, well…they are.

(As always, new items and categories in red).

The War on Women’s Reproductive Rights

Despite an electorate that is overwhelmingly pro-choice, there is no doubt that the GOP’s first goal is to deprive women of their reproductive rights. It’s so important an issue to the GOP that out of some 40,000 laws of all types enacted in 2011, as RMuse wrote here the other day, “there were nearly 1,000 bills in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s right to legal abortion services.” Alternet lists the 10 worst states in which to be a woman. The lone piece of good news was the unexpected sanity of Mississippi voters.

o    Anti-abortion Laws

Republican legislators have introduced a wide array of laws designed to either outlaw abortion outright or to discourage it by making ridiculous and sometimes humiliating requirements of women who might consider having a pregnancy terminated. These include so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) regulations.

  • Republicans in the House proposed a bill (HR 1179) called “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011.” The bill, introduced by Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb), allows health care providers and pharmacists to deny birth control to women if it conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.
  • Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, has proposed a bill (House Bill 2988) that would prevent any abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother.
  • In Georgia, a bill (SB 209) sponsored by Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, would close all abortion clinics in the state and require abortions to be performed in hospitals
  • South Dakota wants to require “spiritual” counseling (House Bill 1217) at religious centers before allowing an abortion to take place. The bill was signed into law in March 2011 and challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU in May.
  • Also in South Dakota, H.B. 1166, which was enacted in 2005, was, says RHRealityCheck.org, billed as an “informed consent law,” but what it really mandated was misinformation, requiring doctors “to tell a woman seeking an abortion that she faces an ‘increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide,’ a claim for which there is absolutely no scientific or medical evidence.” On September 2, 2011, “Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out important provisions of a South Dakota law that literally forced doctors to lie to their patients.”
  • The Texas State House of Representatives has passed the Sonogram Bill (HB 15), a measure requiring women to get a sonogram before ending a pregnancy, forcing even victims of rape to have a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure. Gov. Rick Perry has signed the bill into law, which takes effect September 1, 2011. There are exceptions in cases of rape and incest.
  • Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would not only make abortion illegal but would make miscarriages illegal.
  • Indiana (House Bill 1210) wants to force doctors to lie to women about abortion causing breast cancer despite medical evidence to the contrary in order to discourage women from having abortions
  • Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” (HR 3) that would limit the rape exemption for abortion to “forcible rape” which would have defined many rapes, for example, statutory rape of a minor, as non-forcible and therefore not covered by federal assistance. Mother Jones has reported another aspect of this legislation, that the IRS would be turned into abortion-cops: “Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest,” says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. “If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it.”
  • Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a bill (HR 358 – the “Protect Life Act”) would allow states to deny insurance coverage for birth control meaning hospitals could deny abortion procedures and transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman. The “Let Women Die Act” passed the House on 10/13/11.
  • Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie wants to sentence both women and doctors who commit this crime the ban to 15 years hard labor. The law would make no exceptions for cases of danger to the health of the mother, incest or rape.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed (by a 234-182 vote) an amendment sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC) prohibiting teaching hospitals from receiving federal funding if they teach doctors how to perform abortions. Unfortunately, as a result of this legislation new physicians will not receive the training needed to save women’s lives. As Correntewire.com puts it, “234 members of the House voted to ban the teaching of medical procedures that are vital in saving the lives of women who have miscarried, or have complications that endanger their health, or who aren’t even pregnant.”
  • In Ohio, Janet Porter’s “Heartbeat Bill” criminalizing abortion and which was backed by Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, passed the Ohio State House on June 28, 2011. “It prohibits abortions after only about six weeks, a time when many women do not yet even know they are pregnant,” said Armond Budish, leader of the Democratic caucus in the House.
  • Also in Ohio, The state budget, approved June 28, 2011 by the Senate, bars state hospitals from performing abortions.
  • Mother Jones reports that “Every abortion provider in the state of Kansas has been denied a license to continue operating as of July 1 [2011].” This is the result, according to Mother Jones, of passage in April of a law “directing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to author new facility standards for abortion clinics, which the staunchly anti-abortion GOP governor, Sam Brownback, signed into law on May 16.” It turns out that if you want to know how these new rules were developed, you can’t, because the Republicans don’t want to tell you, and won’t.
  • On July 1, 2011 a budget impasse shut down the government of the state of Minnesota. The Republican majorities in the house and senate refuse to negotiate in good faith, insisting that a list of social issues be included in the budget, including abortion restrictions.
  • In Arizona, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 2443 sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Montenegro, on February 21, 2011. The bill, if passed into law, would criminalize abortions being performed because of the race or sex of the fetus. Montenegro claims that “there are targeted communities that the abortion industry targets.” If made law, HB 2443 would require that “women seeking abortions in Arizona will have to sign a statement declaring that race or sex was not the reason they sought the procedure.”
  • In Illinois Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville in March 2011 submitted a bill – anti-abortion legislation mind, which would require clinics that perform more than 50 abortions a year to meet the same regulatory requirements as other medical outpatient surgery clinics – to the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee. Why, you ask? Because the agriculture committee is dominated by conservative downstate Democrats and Republicans. And guess what? They passed it: unanimously.
  • In Florida, during a debate about a bill “that would prohibit governments from deducting union dues from a worker’s paycheck,” Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) said “if my wife’s uterus was incorporate” the legislature “would be talking about deregulating.” Rep. Randolph was then taken to task for using the word “uterus” by the House leadership, which said that the word was “language that would be considered inappropriate for children and other guests.”
  • In Florida Republicans passed House Bill 501 redistributes funds from “Choose Life” license plates to the Ocala-based Choose Life, Inc, which the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates says will “result in more funds being given to ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ anti-abortion organizations that falsely market themselves as professional health facilities.”
  • In Virginia, RH Reality Check reports that “Governor Bob McDonnell found time to issue regulations for first trimester abortion providers that go well beyond any existing regulations seen in other states, including South Carolina, according to the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health.” Apparently, these “draft” regulations ” (SB 924) were formulated under an emergency process that bypasses public review and comment periods and standard economic assessments for new regulations and is undemocratic on its face.” They will be put into effect up to 18 months to 2 years in advance of any permanent regulations. In a blatant attempt to eliminate first trimester abortions, reports RH Reality Check, the regulations “contain what can only be called ridiculous mandates for abortion providers, such as requiring specific sizes of rooms and lengths of hallways which have nothing to do with either patient care or safety.” See also the article in Mother Jones about how these new rules would affect the Falls Church Planned Parenthood Clinic.
  • In the U.S. House the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) otherwise known as HR 3541, is being called a “civil rights” bill by its Republican sponsors. Under this bill, physicians would be banned from performing abortions based on the race of the fetus, something that does not happen anyway, apparently, since nobody could offer any evidence that it did.

o    Arguing that it is “morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions,” Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind, introduced a bill (HR 217) in the U.S. House of Representatives to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, despite the many other services Planned Parenthood provides to both men and women, including contraception and STD testing

o    Legalizing the Murder of Abortion Doctors

  • South Dakota flirted with a law to make the murder of an abortion doctor legal as self-defense
  • When South Dakota was forced to drop the idea of murdering abortion doctors, Nebraska and Iowa picked up the idea

o   ”Personhood Laws” and Fetal Rights

The latest anti-abortion measure is passage of laws that would give fertilized eggs the rights of “personhood” – in other words, fertilized eggs would have the same rights as you or me – a blatant ploy to attack women’s reproductive rights. Florida, Montana and Ohio will have “personhood” on the ballot in 2012 and according to CNN “efforts in at least five other states are in the planning stages.” Mississippi has just rejected one such extremist measure and Colorado and South Dakota have also rejected them.

  • In Iowa a pregnant woman was arrested for falling down a flight of stairs. Yes, for falling down a flight of stairs. You see, following a fight on the phone with her husband, Christine Taylor fell down a flight of. Like any responsible pregnant woman would, she went to the hospital to check on the fetus – and was arrested thanks to one of the many state laws that grant fetuses rights separate from the mother. Iowa has a “feticide” law that pertains to the second trimester and beyond, and since Taylor confessed that she had contemplated abortion but had chosen to have the baby, the nurse and doctor at the hospital decided to phone the police and accuse her of trying to terminate her pregnancy illegally. She was fortunate not to be charged with a crime – for falling down the stairs.
  • Nebraska banned abortions after 20 weeks on the unscientific grounds that fetuses feel pain at that gestational age. Shortly thereafter, Danielle Deaver discovered at 22 weeks she had a pregnancy that could not result in a living baby. Yet Nebraska law denied her an abortion.   Nebraska is not alone, and Deaver will not be alone. Legislators in 12 other states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oregon — are considering similar laws. But banning abortion could not save Deaver’s fetus: With undeveloped lungs, the baby likely would never survive outside the womb, and because all the amniotic fluid had drained, the tiny growing fetus slowly would be crushed by the uterus walls. On Dec. 8, Deaver delivered 1-pound, 10-ounce Elizabeth, who, as doctors had predicted, lived for only 15 minutes outside the womb.
  • Idaho is the latest state, inspired by Nebraska’s example, to put such a law on the books. Senate Bill 1165 bans abortion after 20 weeks but leaves no loophole even for cases of rape. Their justification? The bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples. And Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton says, “Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked “It didn’t ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.”[…]
  • On February 11, 2011, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed House Bill 1450; a bill which seeking to define a fertilized egg as a human being.  As Planned Parenthood reports, “HB 1450 is backed by a national activist group, Personhood USA, working to make North Dakota the epicenter of a heated national debate.”
  • The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 94 to 2 to a ban on abortion’s later than 20 weeks of gestation similar to Nebraska’s in what it called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Bill 1888 will go on to the state Senate.
  • A personhood bill in Louisiana sponsored by Republican State Rep. John LaBruzzo that would have banned all abortions in the state was defeated when a House vote sent it to the House Appropriations Committee, which shelved the measure. This is not the end, however, as this fall a referendum on a personhood amendment.
  • Ohio has joined the personhood amendment sweepstakes. Personhood Ohio is gathering signatures to add an abortion ban to the state’s constitution in 2012, defining as a person even fertilization of an egg. Even a fertilized egg apparently as inalienable rights. The measure would not only ban abortion, but contraception. Personhood Ohio hasn’t announced any plans to see to the caring of all the resultant births.
  • In Mississippi, a ballot initiative, Measure 26 (The Personhood Amendment), would have, if passed (it fortunately did not) defined zygotes, embryos—even a fertilized egg—as a person. Women would have been unable to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest – even if her life is in danger, and IUDs, birth control pills and other forms of contraception would have become illegal.
  • In California, conservatives are peddling the “California Human Rights Amendment“. It is okay to condemn people after they’re born but you must let them be born first.  This latest personhood gimmick claims the “inherent human rights, dignity and worth of all human  beings from the beginning of their biological development as human beings” but its real goal is to make abortion illegal – even in cases of rape or incest (“regardless of the means by which they were procreated”), or fetal anomaly. In other words, taking away women’s reproductive rights is a promotion of human rights.
  • In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Sanctity of Human Life Act (HR 212) proposed by Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-Ga.) “includes” reports Mother Jones, “language that directly parallels that of the Mississippi personhood amendment.” According to HR 212, “the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent…at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”

o   War on Birth Control

  • The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is attacking the Department of Health and Human Services new guidelines that require insurance companies to cover contraceptive services free of charge. Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) claims the new rules do not protect religious groups who object to contraception. He claims the government is taking, “coercive actions to force people to abandon their religious principles.” As part of the Republican War on Women, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) has introduced a bill, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, which would allow providers to throw women under the bus on religious grounds.

The War on Church and State

o   Americans United for Separation of Church and State (au.org) reveals that “officials in May Minette, Ala., have crossed a constitutional line by creating a program that allows low-level offenders to choose between fines and jail or going to church for a year.” 56 churches have agreed to take part in the program, which is being called “Operation Restore Our Community.”

o    Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, is responsible for sponsoring legislation to reaffirm that “In God We Trust” is our national motto, claiming “As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for Members of Congress and our nation—like our predecessors—to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come.” The bill passed 396-9. Zero jobs were created by this incredible and unconstitutional waste of time. The Senate had already wastefully reaffirmed the motto in 2006.

The War on Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

o   Having ensured that children will be born through their anti-abortion legislation, House Republicans have now ensured those children will be deprived of proper nutrition once they come into the world, ensuring that 300,000 millionaires will have more money in their pockets at the expense of nearly 500,000 women and children. Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee approved the appropriations bill which reduces WIC funding from $6.73 billion this year to $5.90 billion in 2012. The bill will also cut $38 million from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSIP), as well as $63 million from the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAB). If the Republicans had been truly interested in slashing the federal budget they could have saved more money by ending tax cuts for the rich or slashing subsidies to the oil companies. Instead they starve the infants and elderly. Why do I say that?  WIC could be fully funded at the cost of just one week of Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires. According to the Center for American Progress, “one day’s worth of millionaire tax cuts would feed needy families for a year.”

The War on National Public Radio (NPR)

o    The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund NPR: “It is time for American citizens to stop funding an organization that can stand on its own feet,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., the sponsor. The real reason, of course, is that NPR is seen as a bastion of liberalism and it’s voice stands in stark contrast to the propaganda-laden broadcasts from FOX News. The Free Press and Freedom of Speech are the staunch enemies of fascism, and so NPR has to go. Only the “official” voice must be heard. The President is against defunding NPR and Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill. It is unlikely to pass muster in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The War on Desegregation

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Republicans are actually waging war on desegregation in the seeming belief that you can never turn the clock back too far.

o    In Minnesota, the Education Finance Committee is readying a funding bill that will eliminate the goal of desegregated schools. On page 53 of the legislation is a complete repeal of the school integration section of the Minnesota Administrative rules. In defense, Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), chair of the committee, claims the goal is to change the focus to academic achievement from diversity of the student body.

o    In Wake County, North Carolina, the school board eliminated integration bussing. According to the Washington Post, the Tea Party-backed school board (funded, says Robert Greenwald and Brave New Foundation, by the Koch brothers), has pledged  to “say no to the social engineers!” and “abolished the policy behind one of the nation’s most celebrated integration efforts.”  Says one Tea Party board member, John Tedesco: “This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma, Alabama, in the 1960s – my life is integrated. We need new paradigms.” A paradigm, apparently, of “back to the 50s.”

The War on High-Speed Rail

o    Gas prices are rising and President Obama wants to improve the nation’s infrastructure through the introduction of high-speed rail corridors in areas where they would be particularly effective, and linking the Midwest’s population centers with those of the East Coast. The Republicans and Tea Party are opposed.

  • In Wisconsin, Governor Walker rejected an $810 million federal grant for a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison, declaring the project “dead.”
  • In Ohio, Governor John Kasich turned down nearly $400 million from the Department of Transportation for a high-speed rail line between Cleveland and Cincinnati.
  • In Florida, Governor Rick Scott—siding with his backers in the Tea Party—rejected $2.4 billion in Department of Transportation funds for a rail line between Tampa and Orlando

The War on Marriage Equality and the Anti-Gay Agenda

To demonstrate how serious the GOP is about depriving a segment of Americans of their constitutional rights, conservative activist Alan Caruba called Obama’s DOMA decision an act of “societal suicide” in a column titled, “America’s Gay White House.” So the equality guaranteed by the Constitution is societal suicide?

  • The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives wants to defend DOMA (the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) in court despite the unconstitutionality of the law according to the DOJ’s own review. As Nancy Pelosi has asked John Boehner, how much will that cost?
  • The Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee considered but did not take a vote on House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR-6), the proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman and prohibit the state from enacting civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
  • In Tennessee, Senate Bill 49, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill would bar discussion of homosexuality until high school; the bill would make it a crime for teachers to mention it.
  • The North Carolina Senate is about to debate a constitutional amendment that would ban marriage equality. Reprehensibly, the GOP tried to hide this fact by pretending HB 61 (Speaker/Pro Tem Term Limits) was a  proposal to limit the tenure of Senate and House leaders but on Friday it was reported by WRAL that HB 61 is actually the anti-gay marriage bill. The legislature’s website has carefully hidden the true content of the bill.

The War on Net Neutrality

o    Republicans oppose net neutrality. They want corporations to control the internet to better their profits and to control the message getting out. A free press has always been fascism’s most potent enemy; it is no wonder they want to strangle it.  At a Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing “House Republicans pushed for a resolution to eliminate ‘net neutrality’ rules recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).” Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) introduced H. J. Res. 37 which would prohibit the FCC from regulating the Internet. Republicans claim net neutrality rules amount to a government takeover of the Internet; what they really amount to is protection against a corporate takeover of the Internet. To counter this move, Al Franken (D-MN) has said he will introduce legislation that will make violations of net neutrality illegal.

o   The “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA (HR 3261) would give, says FreePress.net, “corporations the power to blacklist websites at will. And it violates the due process rights of the thousands of Internet users who could see their sites disappear… for a “crime” as innocent as posting a video of themselves singing along to a favorite song.” FreePress.net reports that, “A Senate version of SOPA, called the Protect IP Act, passed committee approval in the spring following a massive push by brazen film and music industry lobbyists.”

o   They are calling it a “resolution of disapproval” (of the FCC).  In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced S.J. Resolution 6, which is supported by the Tea Party and corporations (of course) would, in the words of FreePress.net, “remove the FCC’s ability to protect free speech online, and place a few large companies in charge of deciding what consumers can or can’t do on the Internet. Undoing the FCC’s rules is akin to putting BP in charge of protecting our oceans or Goldman Sachs in charge of protecting the nation’s economy.”

The War on Obama: Birthers and Anti-Obama Legislation

o    The Republican and Tea Parties are determined that President Obama should be a one-term president, and that meanwhile, punitive damages should be assessed against him for having the audacity as a black man to not only run for president, but to win.

  • In Tennessee, state Sen. Mae Beavers has introduced SB 1091, a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a “long-form” birth certificate in order to be on the ballot in that state. Nearly a dozen states have had similar anti-Obama legislation aimed at making President Obama a one-term president, including – unsurprisingly – Arizona – as well as Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Montana, and Maine, and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) has promised to sign one of these bills as well. Mae Beavers admits she has no idea what a “long-form” birth certificate even is. She “hasn’t looked into it yet.” Keep in mind, all these proposals will cost the taxpayers money at a time when the GOP claims we’re too poor to even educate our children.
  • The Arizona State Senate passed a bill HB 2177 that forces presidential candidates to submit extensive paperwork to prove they’re American citizens, including, the New York Times reports, “a sworn affidavit stating citizenship and age; a long-form birth certificate showing date and place of birth, name of hospital and doctor, and witness signatures; and a sworn statement listing a candidate’s places of residence for the last 14 years.”
  • Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., proposed legislation to eliminate funding for the president’s Teleprompter. He later withdrew the proposal citing as a reason the inability “to get an estimate on how much it would save.” Womack told FOX News, “We’re asking people to do more with less. And I think the president ought to lead by example. He is already a very gifted speaker. And I think that’s one platform he could do without,” Interestingly and tellingly, he didn’t suggest putting aside his own government funded healthcare program. “I think we made our point,” Womack said. Yes, you did. You proved you’re a petty-minded hypocrite.
  • Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), proposed legislation “to strip funding for the alteration, repair or improvement of the executive residence of the White House and instead divert that amount to deficit reduction.” Because letting the White House fall down sends a powerful message to other countries.

o   Republicans embarked on a campaign of nullification , the tactics employed by a permanent minority – for example the slave-owning states – to protect their rights. Nullification employs filibuster to procure a victory of the minority over the majority, in this case holding up presidential appointments, such as that to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  By actively refusing to participate in the functioning of the federal government, it is doing all in its power to keep the federal government from functioning at all. 

The War on Unions and Collective Bargaining/War on Middle Class

This is more than an attack on unions, teachers, the public sector and collective bargaining and it is far from being the budget/deficit issue Republicans claim. It is, as Noam Chomsky writes, an attack on democracy itself.

o    Class Warfare

Examples of Republican hostility to average working- and middle class Americans are many. Rep. Tom Emmer, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota announced  that many waitstaff made six figure salaries at their jobs, a statement that he quickly had to back away from as false.  Do you know many waiters and waitresses making better than minimum wage? I don’t. It’s no wonder Democrat Mark Dayton won.

  • In Georgia a new bill (HB 385) would raise taxes on things like Girl Scout Cookies, groceries and gasoline but would lower tax rates on corporate income, from 6 percent this year to just 4 percent in 2014
  • Republicans voted to end a program “that helped low-income families weatherize their homes and permanently reduce their energy bills”
  • Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) has proposed some tax changes that are corporate-friendly and middle-class hostile. The Michigan League for Human Services reports that “Business taxes would be cut by 86 percent from an estimated $2.1 billion in FY 2011 to $292.7 million in FY 2013, the first full year of the proposed tax changes…Taxes on individuals from the state income tax would rise by $1.7 billion or nearly 31 percent, from an estimated $5.75 billion in FY 2011 to $7.5 billion in FY 2013, the first full year of the tax changes.”
  • The Raw Story reported on March 17, 2011 that “Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he hopes to cut the tax rate for the richest individuals and corporations to 25 percent to help spur job growth.” Right, Dave; that must be why rich industrialists like the Koch Brothers (who increased their wealth by $9 billion last year) continue to lay off employees claiming the economic downturn has hit them. Hint to Dave: Wealth does not trickle down – it goes in the Koch Brothers’ bank accounts.
  • “Minnesota GOP wants it to be illegal to carry cash if you’re poor” reports City Pages  – “A bill introduced by Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) would prohibit people who use EBT cards–government assistance on plastic–from withdrawing cash at ATMs with the cards, except for $20 per month.”
  • Florida has a new law on the books requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug tests because Governor Rick Scott says it’s “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction.” He claims “It’s the right thing for taxpayers. It’s the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don’t want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs.” Because only rich people whose taxes the rest of us are paying should be allowed to use drugs.

o    Attacking Unions/Collective Bargaining

A Tea Party-led movement is afoot to attack collective bargaining and public sector pay as responsible for our nation’s economic woes even though the problem is clearly Wall Street. Fights are going on in several Republican-controlled states:

o    Deregulating Wall Street – The Great Recession Part Two Plan

  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, tasked with overseeing derivative swaps and financial instruments, would lose $56.8 billion in the House budget. President Obama did not want to cut the CFTC at all; he wanted to increase its funding, and for good reason following the irresponsibility on Wall Street that led to the Great Recession of 2008.
  • Reuters reports that “Congressional Republicans on Wednesday will stage their first outright challenge to 2010’s Dodd-Frank financial regulation reforms with a fistful of bills favoring private equity firms, derivatives end-users and corporate CEOs.” This legislation “would repeal or amend parts of the laws approved after the severe 2007-2009 financial crisis.” Unsuccessful at defunding these important economic protections the Republicans have resorted to voting them away.

The War on Immigration

o    Nobody hates an immigrant like the Republican Party – except for the Tea Party. Anti-immigration legislation, though bad enough in Arizona, has reached new lows in Arizona and Texas. But not only in those states (and the Arizona measures listed below were voted down on March 17, 2011):  Kansas State Representative Virgil Peck, a Republican, in a recent legislative budget hearing said, “It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem.”

  • Texas Department of Agriculture sets up border vigilante website to promote and support (sometimes violent) vigilantism
  • In Texas, more than 60 anti-immigration bills have been filed this legislative session including  requiring birth certificates to enroll in public schools and allowing police officers to act as immigration agents
  • In Texas, “Tea Party favorite Debbie Riddle (I kid you not) (R-TX) introduced House Bill 2012 into the Texas State House, a bill that would jail folks who hire undocumented workers but would exempt anyone who hires “the help” for their homes, thereby effectively legalizing slavery for illegal immigrants..”
  • Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia have laws which “require businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to ensure that employees are eligible to work in the United States.”
  • Several Texas cities have laws making English the official language.
  • In Arizona, Senate Bill 1222 would require public-housing operators to evict anyone who allows an illegal immigrant to live with them, as well as require proof of legal status to receive any public benefits.
  • In Arizona, SB 1012 would allow the Arizona Department of Public Safety to conduct fingerprint-background checks on only individuals who can prove that they are U.S. citizens or legally eligible to work in the state. The state-issued fingerprint-clearance cards are required for a variety of jobs and work permits.
  • In Arizona, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1035 would ask voters to change the state Constitution to prohibit any state official or agency from using a language other than English for official communications. Individuals could ask that communications be conducted in a second language, but the state doesn’t have to adhere to the request.
  • In Arizona, the full Senate is also expected to vote in the coming days or weeks on broader immigration-related measures, including SB 1611, which makes several changes to immigration law, including preventing children not born in the U.S. from attending school, prohibiting illegal immigrants from driving or buying a car, and denying illegal immigrants the ability to obtain a marriage license in Arizona.
  • Other bills in Arizona include SB 1405, which would require hospitals to check the legal status of a patient if he or she was unable to show proof of health insurance, and SB 1308 and SB 1309 – the “birthright citizenship” measures.
  • In Georgia, anti-immigration law HB 87, that was written to bring Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070 to the state. HB 87 would “restrict immigrants’ access to public benefits and mandate the adoption of E-Verify, the controversial federal employment verification database.”
  • Alabama has passed an immigration law more restrictive even than Arizona (SB 1070), becoming the fifth state to pass strict anti-immigration legislation. The bill, HB 56, called the “Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act” because it is claimed illegal aliens cost Alabama tax payers $300 million per year, has been called a ” draconian immigration enforcement scheme.”

The War on Child Labor Laws

o    Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said that Congressional laws banning child labor are forbidden by the US Constitution despite the fact that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in 1941 (United States v. Darby Lumber). (A similar movement is underway in Missouri where State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) has introduced a bill [S.B. 222] to minimize child labor laws)

The War on the Right to Vote

o   The Republican Party has a long history of disenfranchising voters. If you don’t have a viable platform all that’s left is ensuring that those who would otherwise vote against you can’t vote. President Clinton has compared Republican anti-voting laws to Jim Crow. Rolling Stone reports, “In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.”

  • The Democratic Governor’s Association reports that “New laws in Ohio and Texas, passed by Republican-led Houses and backed by Republican governors, are set to disenfranchise millions of voters. Twenty other states are gearing up to follow suit.”
  • Florida Republicans have also moved to disenfranchise voters. HB 1355 was passed by the state senate by a 25-13 vote. The House passage followed on a 77-38 party-line vote. The bill will make it more difficult to vote if you move (aimed at college students who vote Democratic) and will also limit early voting (another strength for Democrats) by curtailing early voting from 14 days to eight. The bill has been signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, a harsh critic of President Obama.
  • A similar bill (Voter ID Bill (AB-7) requiring Wisconsin voters to show photo ID in order to vote passed Wisconsin state Senate in May and was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker.
  • In Pennsylvania, Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) conceived an idea to create a permanent Electoral College majority. The current system gives the state’s electoral votes to whoever wins the state. Redistricting in 2012 leaves Pennsylvania with 20 electoral votes and the votes in those districts would, like the districts themselves, remain permanently Republican.
  • Kansas and Alabama require voters to provide proof of citizenship before voting.
  • Maine repealed Election Day voter registration.
  • A total of five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – have reduced early voting periods.
  • And, as Rolling Stone reports, “six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.”
  • Florida and Iowa now bar ex-felons from voting. The Orlando Sentinel reported in July: “According to a letter opposing the rule change from the American Civil Liberties Union and several legal defense groups, Florida has become one of only four states to bar ex-felons from voting for life unless they get clemency from the governor. They estimate that at least 13 percent of voting-age African-Americans have lost the right to vote this way.” And people wonder why blacks vote Democrat. Another case of giving rights to fetus’ (see PRENDA under anti-abortion laws above) but taking them away from they grow up.

The War on Islam/Islamophobia

o    Islamophobia has become institutionalized in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives as Rep. Peter King (R – N.Y.), is begins his McCarthy-esque “investigation of radical Islam”

o    The states of Missouri , South Carolina and Oklahoma are all attempting to ban the alleged “creeping influence” of Sharia Law. Needless to say, most of the opponents of Sharia Law are strongly in favor of its exact equivalent, Mosaic Law – otherwise known as the Ten Commandments.

o    Alabama proposed a law to ban Sharia law this spring.

o    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) told the Values Voters Summit in 2010 that he wants a federal law to ban Sharia law.

o    Oklahoma passed an anti-Sharia law last year, the “Save Our State” amendment, which was supported by 70 percent of voters but was blocked by a federal judge on First Amendment grounds. Rep. Sally Kern (R) introduced a new anti-Sharia bill in 20100 – House Bill 1552 – designed to be less objectionable to courts.

The War on the Federal Government (Tentherism)

o   In Arizona, the State Senate introduced SB 1433 which “proposed nothing less than the creation of a 12-person body tasked with studying federal laws and nullifying any and all of those it deemed unconstitutional.” The bill (which failed to pass) would have applied to both existing and any new legislation. This was essentially a secession act.

o   In Virginia, Robert G. Marshall (R), a Tea Partier, proposed Joint House Resolution No. 557Establishing a joint subcommittee to study whether the Commonwealth should adopt a currency to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve System in the event of a major breakdown of the Federal Reserve System.”

o    In Georgia, “Constitutional Tender Act” (HB 3)sponsored by Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) would override federal monetary regulations, stating, “Pre-1965 silver coins, silver eagles, and gold eagles shall be the exclusive medium which the state shall use to make any payments whatsoever to any person or entity, whether private or governmental.” TPM reports: “Lawmakers in Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington have proposed legislation, mostly in 2009, to include gold and silver in its accepted currency forms.”

o    Montana’s “Sheriffs First Act,” SB 114, sponsored by Sen. Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls, would give precedence to local sheriff’s over any federal agent in their counties;  According to the Helena Independent Record: “The bill says that if a sheriff claims that a federal agent acted without permission (with a few exceptions) the county attorney “must” — on pain of possible recall or charges of official misconduct — prosecute the federal agent for a crime such as kidnapping, trespassing or theft.”

o    In Kentucky. Senate Natural Resources and Energy Chairman Brandon Smith, R-Hazard proposed Senate Joint Resolution 99 “declaring Kentucky a sanctuary state from the regulatory overreach of the United States Environmental Protection Agency against coal operators and the coal industry in Kentucky; proscribe enforcement of federal conductivity standards; require state agency to set conductivity standard that allows for coal mining and protects health, safety, and environment; declare state agency to have jurisdiction over water quality standards; proscribe collection of fines and penalties for standards in excess of federal requirements…”

The War on Gun Control

o    Reuters reports that Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich has signed into law “a bill that allows gun owners in the state to carry concealed weapons into bars and other places where alcohol is served.” The law also allows gun owners to go armed into shopping malls.

o   The U.S. House of Representatives wants to undermine state gun controls by forcing each state to honor the gun-carrying permits of other states. H.R. 822 the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 “would require all states to allow out-of-state visitors to carry concealed firearms as long as the laws of the visitors” home states allow them to do so” which would override protections that other states citizens want. So much for Republicans opposing the federal government riding roughshod over states rights. If it’s something the GOP wants, the feds can lord it all they want. Congress rejected a similar law in 2009. It may surprise no one that the sponsor is Rep. Clifford Stearns (R-FL): read on below.

o   In Florida, a new law passed in June 2011 by the Republican-controlled legislature (of course), mandates penalties against local communities and officials for not dropping their gun control laws in obedience to a 1987 act that, as the New York Times reports, “allowed the state to pre-empt the whole field of gun and ammunition controls” but which since then has been largely ignored. The deadline is now October 1. From the Daytona Beach News-Journal:  State Rep. Fred Costello said the strong language in the new law — 790.33 of the Florida Statues — assumes full control of all gun regulation. No local government can override state laws or make more restrictive laws regarding guns. “The bottom line is, although some will disagree, that criminals will have guns anywhere, so it is arguably better for legal, law-abiding citizens to also be able to have guns to give the bad guys pause,” said Costello, R-Ormond Beach.

o   In 2009, Tennessee State Representative Curry Todd (R-Collierville) sponsored a bill to allow guns in bars for the purposes of “self-defense” (a category of catastrophically stupid all on its own), the so-called “guns in bars” bill. Todd, actually a college graduate, has also, reports the Nashville City Paper, “compared pregnant illegal immigrants to ‘reproducing rats.'” In the Department of Irony, the same Nashville source reports that “Todd was picked up by Metro Police and charged with DUI and possession of a handgun while under the influence” on October 11, 2011. By the way, the bill passed the House 66-23.

o   In Virginia, July 1, 2010 meant you could carry a gun into a bar or restaurant. The only restriction is that you can’t drink alcohol while you do so. Despite pleas from state police chiefs that it was a recipe for disaster, Governor Bob McDonnell said passage of SB334 was all about upholding the second amendment rights of good ole boys to pack heat.

The War on Consumers

o   In the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1315, sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), would block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rules and replace the single director chosen by President Obama with a five-member commission answerable to the Republicans and big business, like a fox guarding a hen-house.

The War on Democracy

o    Michigan passed a Financial Martial Law bill, which essentially established a Republican dictatorship in place of democracy by turning over to unelected emergency managers the powers to supersede legally elected local governments without oversight from those legally constituted local governments.

The War on Jobs

o   House Democrats have demonstrated that in their first 202+ days in office, House Republicans have not only failed to deliver even one job creation bill, they have passed legislation to kill 1.9 million jobs.

  • H.R. 1. According to Mark Zandi this legislation amounts to  -700,000 jobs
  • H.R. 2. According to the Council of Economic Advisors this legislation amounts to  -300,000 jobs
  • H.Con.Res. 34. According to Mark Zandi, this legislation amounts to   -900,000 jobs

The War on Science, the Environment and Health

“Rep. Joe Barton claimed that there was “no medical negative” from mercury, sulfur dioxide or other toxic air pollutants. This appalling statement flies in the face of years of scientific research and blatantly ignores the EPA’s finding that roughly one in twelve – and as many as one in six – women of childbearing age have unsafe levels of mercury in their bodies.” – From the League of Conservation Voters

o    Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives kills climate committee, the Select Committee on Global Warming. Not only that, but as Care2 reports, “House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee demonstrated their commitment to science denial…by unanimously voting down three separate amendments offered by Democrats to reaffirm basic facts about climate science. They then unanimously voted to pass the Upton-Inhofe bill to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific endangerment finding on greenhouse pollution.” In other words, they have legislated that climate-change does not exist. They have legislated it out of existence.

o    The House budget for 2011 would have taken $126 million away from the National Weather Service. This is, of course, the agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that prepares and warns us of nasty life-threatening and property-destroying things like tsunamis, hurricanes, blizzards, floods and fires. Keep in mind, the House wants to continue to subsidize the oil industry that gouges you at the pumps each week and is increasing profits hand over fist. But dying in a tornado you didn’t know about is just fine.

o    Republicans oppose energy saving lightbulbs, citing the evils of government interference. In a case of Republican cannibalism, Republican lawmakers want to repeal a 2007 U.S. law (signed by President George W. Bush) which phases out the old incandescent light bulbs in favor of alternative energy-saving bulbs (that use 25%-30% less energy than standard incandescent). With typical ignorance of the facts, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blames the Obama Administration

o    Senator Rand Paul blames the administration and the Department of Energy for the fact that his toilet doesn’t work, telling Energy Department official Kathleen Hogan that it’s her fault (the EPA says if we replaced our old toilets we “could save nearly 2 billion gallons per day across the country—that’s nearly 11 gallons per toilet in your home every day”

o    Republicans in the House (House CR or continuing resolution) voted to cut $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health or NIH (5% below the president’s 2011 request and $638 million, or 2%, below current levels), which would do untold damage to cancer research and probably result in cuts to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research, and cause job losses.

o    The Republicans launch a stealth attack on endangered species, showing they love animals at least as much as the middle class.

o   The Tea Party in at least a dozen states has come up with a radical, states-rights-centered proposal to attack healthcare reform:  the health care compact would allow, Mother Jones reports, “them to seize control of and administer virtually all federal health care programs operating in their states and exempt them from the requirements of the health care law.”

o    The House Judiciary Committee is looking at the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10), a bill that would undermine the public protections most crucial to our health, safety, environment and economy

o   Republicans (and 12 Democrats from coal states) in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed (on July 14, 2011) the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011″ which rolls back the Clean Water Act of 1972, eliminating federal oversight on water standards and returning it to the states.

o    Michele Bachmann, running as Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012 says, “I pledge to you I’m not a talker. I’m a doer…. And I guarantee you the EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off and they will only be about conservation.” She promises, “It will be a new day and a new sheriff in Washington, D.C.”

o   In Georgia, SB 61, in the words of Jim Galloway, declared “Georgia’s sovereign authority over incandescent light bulbs that do not cross state lines.” The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, said he wasn’t going to let the federal government do to light bulbs what they did to toilets.

o   Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), second ranking member of the GOP-led Energy and Power Subcommittee, introduced legislation (H.R. 1705)- called the TRAIN Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4, 2011 to create a committee to do a cost-benefit analyses of 10 EPA regulations which are designed to curb pollution. Sullivan says Congress needs “an honest accounting of how much the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory train wreck is costing our economy and American consumers.” Democrats like Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) are right to demand to know how much the bill itself would cost Americans. The TRAIN act was passed by the House on 9/23/11.

o   In Florida, Governor Rick Scott  says that Florida doesn’t need “a lot more anthropologists in this state” and that “It’s a great degree if people want to get it. But we don’t need them here.” He apparently feels that “science, technology, engineering and math degrees” are where money should be spent, apparently ignorant of the fact that anthropology is a science. Perhaps somebody should have spent more money on Rick Scott’s education?

o   It’s not just the House but the Senate as well. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn proposed in September that federal funding for bike and pedestrian projects be stripped from the Transportation Bill then under consideration.

o   Coburn failed as a result of public outcry but Senator Rand Paul now wants to use money allocated for bike and pedestrian projects to bridge repair – he says the bridges are a priority (so why aren’t they allocating money for it?) but since 2007, 2,800 cyclists and 20,000 pedestrians have died in this country.

o   In a really bizarre end-run around environmental protections, Republicans in the House (who else?) are pushing Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop’s  National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, which, the Texas Tribune says, “would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior from enacting environmental regulations that hinder the operations of the CBP on public lands within 100 miles of the U.S. border.” Argues Paul Spitler of the Wilderness Society: “There are literally no checks on the agency. They would have unfettered access and control to do whatever they choose; there would be no oversight in Congress.” So much for small, non-intrusive government.

The War on Education/Historical Revisionism

o    “War on Evolution/Creationism/Intelligent Design”

  • Creationism and its non-science version known as “Creation Science” or Intelligent Design are invading our school curriculums and dumbing-down the most scientifically advanced nation in the world to a Bronze Age level. The National Center for Science Education reports that of nine of these anti-science bills have been introduced around the country in 2011, including Texas, Florida and Tennessee.
  • In Oklahoma, Rep. Josh Brecheen introduced an anti-evolution bill which fortunately died in committee. Senate Bill 554 would have required “every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.” The problem for Rep. Brecheen is that in science, there is no debate. Brecheen calls evolution the “religion” of evolution, which is an ironic label from a believer in creationism.
  • In Florida, Senate Bill 1854 calls for educators to “teach efficiently and faithfully… a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.” Florida state Sen. Stephen Wise (a Republican), chairman of the Senate Education Committee (who failed in a similar attempt in 2009) told the Florida Times-Union in 2009, “If you’re going to teach evolution then you’ve got to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking.”
  • Science Advisor April 7, 2011: “In a 70-28 vote today, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed HB 368, a bill that encourages science teachers to explore controversial topics without fear of reprisal. Critics say the measure will enable K-12 teachers to present intelligent design and creationism as acceptable alternatives to evolution in the classroom.”

o    House Republicans voted to cut Pell Grants, that help middle class kids go to college, by 25%

o   Some 90 Tennessee counties have now adopted resolutions claiming that the Ten Commandments are the basis of the American legal system, despite the clear and incontrovertible evidence that the American legal system is based on English common-law (that is to say, ancient Pagan Germanic law) and on Pagan Roman law, which is to say, civil law.

o    Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed to cut teacher pay by 12 percent to 20 percent

o   In Michigan, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is considering punitive legislation against teachers that would prohibit them (and other public employees, those nasty collective bargainers) from using a publicly-owned email service to send political messages. HB 4052, adopted by the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee would mandate a $10,000 fine for an organization and a $1,000 fine and one-year imprisonment for an individual for violating the law. The Michigan Education Association correctly defines this act as “political payback.”

o    De-funding Head Start

  • In Frederick County, Maryland, the Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to Head Start, cutting funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision by arguing that women should be married and staying at home with their kids, which would make the program unnecessary.
  • Saying that the country is broke and we need to tighten our belts, Senate Republicans vote to cut the Head Start budget by $2 billion, or nearly a quarter of President Obama’s $8.2 billion 2011 budget request (the program’s current funding is $7.2 billion) but voted to continue $4 billion worth of subsidies to Big Oil (Exxon, etc). Exxon’s profits went up 53% in the last quarter of 2010. The Head Start funding cut will have the following effects:
  • 218,000 children from low income families will lose Head Start/Early Head Start services;
  • 16,000 Head Start/Early Head Start classrooms will close;
  • 55,000 Head Start/Early Head Start teachers and staff will lose their jobs;
  • 150,000 low-income families and their children will lose assistance in paying for child care.

Shutting Down the Government

The Republicans spent much of the past two years shutting down the United States government over one issue or another. It would take an entire article to account for all their underhanded attempts to hold government hostage. One example will suffice.

o   House Republicans decided that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was funding abortions (it wasn’t as proven by its steering document). but because they insisted that their fantasy was true,  they threatened to shut down the government over a policy rider banning funding to the UNFPA.

You’ve pushed us white folks too far!

This piece of legislation deserved a category of its own. If you’ve ever doubted that Republicans and Tea Partiers are wasting everyone’s time and money rather than trying to fix what’s wrong with America, doubt no longer:

o   Never happy with “political correctness” the Republicans in the North Dakota legislature passed a piece of legislation, House Bill 1263, which was signed into law Gov. Jack Dalrymple, which prohibits the University of North Dakota from changing their 90-year-old Native American nickname — the Fighting Sioux – in compliance with the NCAA’s policy on mascots “deemed hostile or abusive toward Native Americans.”

 

7 responses so far

What the Hell is Happening in Iowa?

Dec 30 2011

What the Hell is happening in Iowa? If verbiage could be a runaway train, then Republican political theology has gone off the tracks and is plowing its way across the fecund fields of Iowa with a force not even Denzel Washington and Chris Pine can stop. The fields, unfortunately, are fertilized with barely metaphorical excrement, and the stench is becoming unbearable.

The problem might be, at least in part, with the Republican idea that you can make your own reality. Bush ran with this and was pretty successful. He got his Iraq War out of it, that we are just now done with almost ten years later. That’s nearly as long a run as the Trojan War, fought by another guy who needed an excuse (a woman, not weapons of mass destruction though Republicans often act like they’re the same) to “self-aggrandize” – Agamemnon.

Here’s the kicker: Once you divorce yourself from reason and logic and the laws of the universe, anything becomes possible. If this, why not that? What Republicans speculate about instantly becomes true.

Look at the talk about Iranian development of nuclear weapons. Iran is the new Troy and the dreams of Agamemnon are alive and well in the Golden Mycenae of the West, otherwise known as Iowa. According to Gingrich, the nuclear weapons are a done deal.  Ron Paul, who apparently has nothing against war after all (or racism), wants to take a ‘hands off” approach to Iran’s nuclear program. If he was smarter and less insane, we might almost think of Paul as the Odysseus of this fable.

The rule of thumb here is that you must up the ante. If you respond conservatively (irony intended) you run the risk of being seen as irrelevant. So Gingrich responded with,  ”Do you feel comfortable in terms of my two grandchildren and everybody in this city with someone who believes that Iranian nuclear weapons are irrelevant?”

Egads! The only answer to that, of course (as Gingrich knows well) is, “Of course not!” The same answer Agamemnon demanded and received before starting his own personal war of self-aggrandizement.  And it worked for Bush and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. We all know they had ‘em. Bush told us so.

But Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, not as far as we know. They might or might not be developing them. We could always just attack Iran and look bewildered when we don’t find any. That worked for Bush too. Bewildered was a good look for him, you have to admit. It was like the world was just moving too fast for Dubya.

Trouble is, it’s moving to fast for the rest of them as well. Look at Ron Paul. Paul’s pandering to racists and religious extremists is disturbing enough, as is his wishy-washy response to the words he may or may not have written long ago, but now he feels the need to let all those conservative voters know that he’s really quite a warlike guy, his position on Iran notwithstanding.

If Gingrich is Agamemnon, then by golly Ron Paul needs to show that he has big Mycenaean cojones too. Hell, he loves the smell of gunpowder!

Watch the video from America Live on Fox News:

Ron Paul’s problem with the stance Gingrich and others take on Iran is this, according to Doug Wead:

“He’s against these endless wars that happen at a whim because somebody believes that someone is a threat to the United States.”

Well that’s good to know. No doubt a lot of Greeks thought Troy was a threat to Greece. So Ron Paul is not against war, but he’s against the Bush Doctrine, at least. That would keep us out of a few extra wars along the way. But the essential fact here is that Ron Paul, known for his anti-war stance, is eager to make clear to the crazed masses that he is not anti-war after all.

Testosterone cred is important to any Republican candidate. Even Sarah Palin liked to remind Americans that she has a bigger set than President Obama.

What the Republican contest has come down to a game of one-upmanship (it would not be unreasonable to call it “brinkmanship” given the stakes) where each candidate tries to outdo the other in craziness in order to satisfy the extremist views of a right-wing Christian minority, as though fulfilling their fevered cravings will make them acceptable to the country at large.

Even if they sing different tunes later, as is likely once the primaries are over, they can’t take back the words they’re saying now, which we are assiduously recording to bring up at the appropriate moment leading up to Election Day. This Looney Tunes Theater in Iowa must have consequences. You cannot open the door to madness and then close it again: you will have exposed yourself.

And expose themselves as fanatics of every stripe these candidates have done. No more do we think Michele Bachmann is a lone batshit crazy candidate sitting on a branch by herself. That branch at this point can barely hold the weight and the shit is piling up on the ground beneath them. And they keep edging further out to the tip of that branch, wrestling for its tip.

It doesn’t take an Odysseus to see where this is going.

It seems almost an orgy, a sort of sexual release for the candidates, getting to air their deepest, darkest secrets and actually receive approbation and not sentences in psychiatric hospitals for having done so.  It must be a vicarious thrill for the average Iowa extremist too, standing in a field full of shit of their own making, receiving abundant affirmation of their own extremist views. But then where else is a racist White Evangelical going to go outside of Texas?

Image from Andrew Sullivan The Daily Beast

21 responses so far

Team Obama Pounds Mitt Romney For Pandering To Birthers

Dec 30 2011

Obama 2012 hammered Mitt Romney for pandering to the fringe after his son Matt went the birther route to help his father court GOP extremists.

Here is video of Matt Romney bringing up Obama’s birth certificate in New Hampshire:

While talking about the fact that his father has not released his tax returns, Matt Romney said, “He has not said that he will not do it. He has also not said that he will. It’s a matter of time until that issue comes up because I think everyone has to get a chance to do that. So I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not sure he knows the answer to that. But he will do everything that he needs to do. He’s certainly not afraid of anything. Hiding anything. I heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as President Obama releases his grades and birth certificate and sort of a long list of things then maybe he’d do it.”

In an email to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote, “This is how the Romney campaign thinks it’s going to win the Republican primary: by pandering to the dead-ender fringe of extremists who still question where the President was born. We can’t make them rewrite their talking points. But we can drive up the cost of this kind of politics.”

The campaign also wrote in a blog post, “Matt Romney says his dad Mitt will release his tax returns “as soon as” President Obama releases his birth certificate. This is how the Romney campaign thinks it’s going to win the Republican primary: by pandering to the dead-ender fringe of extremists who still question where the President was born.”

Later, Matt Romney tweeted a non-apology, “I repeated a dumb joke. My bad.” Yep, he really regrets bringing up the birther thing when it just so happens to appeal to the group of conservatives who have the biggest doubts about his father’s candidacy. In the new NBC News/Marist Iowa Poll only 8% of Republican respondents considered Mitt Romney a true conservative. Republican voters still don’t like Mitt Romney, but they may be forced to settle for him as all of their more attractive options have flamed out.

By going the birther route, the Romney campaign isn’t going to convince the people who already doubt his conservative cred, but they are going to hurt themselves with other voters. Unlike in 2008, the Obama campaign is prepared to deal with the birther nonsense quickly and effectively. Obama has released his long and short form birth certificates. Only the most delusional of Republicans could still possibly believe that the president was not born in this country.

The fact that anybody from the Romney campaign went birther this soon shows that they are getting desperate.

19 responses so far

Fox Apologizes for Jews Killed Jesus Poll But Not For Smearing US Muslims

Dec 30 2011

It’s not just here in the US that Fox News takes its religious cultism and hate mongering to dangerous lows.

The propaganda network is global. Over Christmas, Fox Latin America staffers put a poll on a Facebook page promoting the National Geographic Channels’ Christmas special that asked whether Jews killed Jesus. The poll asked whether they thought Pontius Pilate, the Jewish People, or the High Priests were responsible for killing Christ.

MSNBC reports:

The Simon Weisenthal Center in Buenos Aires calls it a defamatory reference to Vatican propaganda that “resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews for two millennia.”

The Jewish group says it’s outraged that Fox would perpetuate an idea that the Vatican annulled back in 1965.

The notion that Jews killed Jesus Christ has damaged Jewish-Christian relations for centuries and even the Vatican renounced the notion forty years ago.

Fox spokeswoman Guadalupe Lucero apologized for the poll, saying, “We sincerely apologize for the publication of a poll that might have unintentionally given place to interpretations, opinions or expressions of intolerance affecting the Jewish community. We deeply regret the incident.”

It’s great that Fox Latin America apologized for hate-baiting. Now, what about all of the Muslim-bashing, liberal-bashing, Obama-bashing, Democrat-bashing, poor-bashing, and basic other-bashing they do here in the United States?

Here’s a few examples of Fox News Muslim bashing courtesy of Media Matters:

Discussing NYC Islamic center, Beck asks, “[A]fter you’ve killed 3,000 people, you’re going to now build your mosque”?

Fox Business promotes discredited activist Pam Geller, who says Obama has “an anti-Semitic history”


Morris: Park51 would be a “command center for terrorism”


Beck, Geller push falsehood that Ground Zero “mosque” will open on September 11

Limbaugh on NYC Islamic center: “Why not have” KSM trial there? “Pick the jurors from the congregants”

After stoking fears about Muslim birth rate, Beck says we’re on “edge of the precipice,” across which is “Dark Ages”

Limbaugh compares NYC Islamic center to Tim McVeigh memorial near Murrah Federal Building

Media Matters breaks this down:

Insert “Jewish” or “Catholic” into the Islamic references above and see if you think the press would make a big deal about a similar Fox News and far-right hate crusade that targeted a different faith in America….

And yes, there’s a connection between the recent race-baiting and today’s fresh Muslim-bashing as Fox News remains at the forefront of a long-running smear effort (see “terrorist fist jab”) to depict the president of the United States as some sort of Manchurian Candidate whose true allegiance lays elsewhere. The NAACP? The New Black Panther Party? Mecca? That answer bounces around from week to week. But the implication is clear and unbending: Obama is not like you and me, and Obama will destroy the United States the first chance he gets.

He’s “anti-American.”

Yet once again, you can practically hear the audible justifications: “Well, it’s just Fox being Fox.” Or, “It’s just Rush being Rush.”

I realize I’m repeating myself from last month when I asked why Fox News’ proud race-baiting hadn’t become the story, but honestly, when the most-watched cable news channel relentlessly depicts moderate Muslims as being part of a murderous cult, that’s news. When it routinely provides a national forum for a hatemonger like Pam Geller who calls the president of the United States an anti-Semite and claims he’s allied with Islamic terrorists, that’s news.

Yes, just why hasn’t Fox News’ race-baiting and hate-mongering been news here? Why does our media bend over for Fox News’ hate, contorting themselves into all manner of distortions in order to justify the indefensible? And most importantly, why are we not all speaking out more loudly against it?

We recall Fox News and the right wing politicians in its pockets who spent weeks demonizing Park 51 and only chose to distance themselves from their hate-mongering once the Catholic Church, General Petraeus and two other generals denounced extremist Pastor Terry Jones, who was threatening to burn the Quran because he shared the beliefs as Fox News expressed relentlessly in the time period leading up to the Jones burning debacle.

Fox News’ Bill Hemmer said Park51 could be “the first stop for a radical jihadist who comes to America who wants to go pray.” Fred Barnes on Fox’s Bret Baier called Park 51 an unnecessary provocation back then. What do they call their own behavior?

In response to Lowe’s bigotry, Christians, Jews and Muslims joined together to take a stand for tolerance. When will Americans of all faiths, colors and political ideology do the same in response to the blatant, outrageous bigotry of Fox News? Fox News needs to apologize for their hate-mongering in the United States. Or is that they only apologize to certain groups and not to others for perpetrating the exact same bigotry and ugliness.

Can we get an apology, or at least an amen?

18 responses so far

Memo To America: Ron Paul’s Ideology Is As Dangerous As The Tea Party

Dec 30 2011

Every election year brings out one or two quirky candidates that appear to have little chance of winning more than a seat on a local city council or if they are fortunate, a seat in the House of Representatives. This year, quirky candidates are extremist, main-stream Republicans seeking the presidency and although they may not reach the White House, they are gaining traction among Christian conservatives and anti-government groups that gave rise to the tea party in 2010 and resulted in Republicans taking control of the House. The 2010 elections gave Americans a glimpse of what electing extremists to positions of power means for the nation and although the tea party’s popularity is in decline, another quirky candidate is rising in popularity among conservatives and some mainstream Republicans.

Ron Paul’s third run for the presidency is different than in previous years and his Libertarian policies have caught up to Republicans who embrace his small government, state’s rights, and decreased taxes mantra that Paul has espoused for years. Ron Paul is no longer a fringe candidate, but his Libertarian ideology, if implemented, is as extreme as any tea party candidate and ultimately just as dangerous for America and its people. It is unfortunate that more Americans lack an understanding of Libertarianism because even Paul’s supporters would rail against some of his remedies for the country if he were elected president.

It has been well-reported that Paul’s racist views from the past are cause for concern, and last week he flaunted an endorsement of an anti-gay evangelical preacher who advocated for capital punishment as a “restorative” measure to prevent homosexuality. Paul removed the press release announcing the anti-gay preacher’s endorsement, but the preacher’s reason for endorsing him informs the dangers of electing a Libertarian who would give states latitude to implement harsh biblical laws. Under a Libertarian’s vision for America, giving individual states the right to make and enforce their own laws heralds  a dark time for the country and its citizens.

Libertarians envision a country with every citizen fending for themselves with no federally enforced equal rights protections or programs to maintain and build roads, schools, hospitals, or regulations to protect consumers. In fact, Ron Paul said that as president, he would immediately eliminate five federal departments of Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Education. He would end war spending and recall all U.S. forces from overseas, end foreign aid, and abolish the IRS and Federal Reserve. Paul’s vision for America is 50 states that make up their own laws irrespective of constitutional rights, and leave Americans at the mercy of the wealthy elite. If one talks to a Ron Paul supporter, they support the philosophy of anything goes and everyone is on their own, but upon further review and reflection, few Americans really advocate for being left on their own.

Libertarianism is a wealthy person’s dream with no regulations or taxes and no concern for anyone but themselves. The wealthy have financial security to pay for private schools, private security, private fire departments, private roads, and private airports and for them, go it on your own works well; especially when their corporations avoid regulations, consumer protection laws, and taxes. However, for everyone else, Libertarianism means a return to frontier America where each family provides all the services the government provides today. There are few Americans who can afford to individually pay for services their tax dollars provide as part of being an American citizen, and yet it is astonishing the number of supporters Ron Paul has amassed over the years.

The notion of a Libertarian president who eliminates entire departments that preside over and regulate education, commerce, housing and energy as well as the IRS responsible for assessing and collecting taxes the federal government uses to guarantee all Americans are protected and educated is a nightmare scenario. Ron Paul’s idea of returning power to states means that cash-strapped states and communities that cannot fund basic necessities such as fire protection will have no option but to allow homes to burn to the ground unless individuals band together and pay, by subscription, for a fire truck and fire fighters.

Two weeks ago in Tennessee, a couple watched their home burn to the ground as firefighters stood by and watched because the couple did not pay an annual subscription fee. The local mayor defended fire fighters and said if they responded to non-subscribers, no-one would have an incentive to pay their fee. It is the second time in a year that South Fulton policy allowed first responders to watch, with equipment in hand, as a home burned to the ground. In Ron Paul’s Libertarian vision for America, homes burning to the ground and vicious rapes would be spectator events for first responders if residents could not afford to buy a subscription for law enforcement or fire protection.

Ron Paul will not be elected president, but his ideology that was quirky and fringe a decade ago is part and parcel of the Republicans drive to eliminate the federal government. In one of the Republican debates a month ago, Rick Perry struggled to remember the departments he would eliminate if he were elected as president, but the idea of eliminating entire departments is relatively novel; except in Libertarian ideology. The pre-Civil War, state’s rights secessionist movement is gaining traction as the Tenther Movement that espouses that many United States government actions are unconstitutional and wants to allow each state to have autonomy to make laws without regard for federal protections such as civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-discrimination laws. The result is 50 separate little fiefdoms that, depending on the population, can pass laws based on theology or oligarchy without intervention of the federal government to stop archaic activities like executing homosexuals, or women for giving birth out of wedlock.

Republicans could not care less about whether or not a home burns down or gays are executed by stoning. Their main impetus is eliminating regulations that prevent corporations from unfair business practices and ending taxation for the wealthy. Ron Paul’s small government has identical goals as Republicans and except for his idea of greatly reducing defense spending and foreign aid, he will garner support from many main-stream Republican voters; especially the racists and homophobes in the extremist Christian conservative segment of the population.

As Americans have witnessed since Barack Obama’s election victory three years ago, Republicans bolstered by racists in the tea party have lurched so far right, that a one-time novelty candidate like Ron Paul whose quirky, fringe political philosophy was laughable, is now mainstream in Republican ranks and it demonstrates just how far the country is regressing back to pre-Civil War America and frontier sensibilities where government did not exist and each family was on their own. The sad truth is that regardless of which Republican earns their party’s nomination for president, the result of a GOP victory will be an America with no federal government and a Libertarian’s dream that benefits only the wealthy and their corporations; a dream Republicans have fostered since Ronald Reagan was president.

Image: chron.com

29 responses so far

Demythologizing American Exceptionalism

Dec 30 2011

Our conservative Christians (identical these days with the Republican Party) are all about American Exceptionalism; they like to talk about America as a divinely ordained nation, chosen by God to be special, as Israel was once special, a vehicle for his divine plan (whatever that might be). Witness Tom DeLay back in ’08:

I know that America was created by God and it was created by God, not for wealth, personal wealth. It wasn’t created by God so that we would have the resources that we now have. It wasn’t even created by God to have the freedom that we have now. America was created by God to spread the Gospel; to spread the word of Jesus Christ and to propagate Christianity.

Or Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) a year earlier, who doesn’t like that we have Hindus and Muslims in this country. Reported OneNewsNow at the time:

Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through “the protective hand of God.”

The mythical shining city on a hill. It is amazing how thoroughly a religion that claims to be historical can separate itself from historical forces – and from reality itself.

There is plenty more of the same and the hyperbole has only gotten more extreme in the years since President Obama was elected. They like to harp on how God created the United States, but God had very little to do with it, though the oft-times fanatical  devotion of his believers played a great role indeed, at the very least in creating the mythology being pushed today, hundreds of years later.

What did the Native Americans in was not force of arms but disease. Disease of all sorts – measles, smallpox, typhus, influenza – against which the indigenous population had no defense. They had never been exposed to these killers before and had no immunity to them, nor any understanding of how they were spread.

When Columbus arrived and popularized the New World – Vikings, Basques, Celts and others had been sailing over the seas for centuries – the Americas teamed with human as well as animal life. The early reports of various explorers – of all nations – show that there was scarcely any room on these shores for the newcomers. They could sail up and down the American Atlantic coast and go away disappointed. America was not the trackless wilderness of myth. White people from Europe did not “discover” anything and they certainly did not do anything with the land the natives had not already done, from irrigation, plowing and planting, and even canals and huge cities with complex societies and intricate networks of trade and alliance.

John Smith, after his adventures in Jamestown, sailed along the New England coast and fell in love with it, but there were Indians everywhere, and he spoke again and again of the multitude of people already living there.

America, as it turns out, was quite a success even without any Europeans.

Of course, the Europeans cared very little for native rights, just as we have continued to care very little for them today (a lesson well learned, it seems). They couldn’t defeat the Indians – there weren’t enough Europeans to even establish a viable toe-hold against such odds, which were only exacerbated by disease, ignorance, and the super power rivalries of the era. Unwittingly, the Europeans had the answer to hand, however – germ warfare.

Estimates which once offered a round million persons now reach to a stratosphere previously unimagined – possibly tens of millions (many estimates range from thirty to fifty) of pre-Columbian (before Columbus) Indians inhabited the Americas, with from 2 to 18 million in North America alone. The Native American population of North America before the Europeans began to establish colonies in the late fifteenth to early sixteenth centuries has recently (1992) been estimated to be in the area of 3.8 million with a million or so inhabiting the region between the Appalachians and the Atlantic.

According to census estimates, the population of that area (the American colonies) was not this high again until the mid-eighteenth century.

Even FOX News reported in 2007 that “While there is no reliable figure on Mexico’s population in the 1500s — estimates range from 6 million to 25 million — it is clear that by 1600 only around 2 million remained.”

The indigenous population was melted away by disease within a few short years. When DeSoto was raping and pillaging his way across the Southeastern United States to the Mississippi there was a thriving, centuries old mound culture (Southern Ceremonial Complex). One tribe along the Spanish route, the Coosa, lost an estimated 95 percent of its population to DeSoto alone, mostly through disease. A century and a half later French explorers found the once populous area to be inhabited only by ghosts, free for the taking.

Entire tribes were wiped out almost overnight. When Squanto returned home after five years captivity in England, he was eager to see his thriving village again, but it was empty of all but bones. Everyone he had known was gone, in just five short years. Suddenly, land was abundant. The overcrowded area John Smith had yearned for emptied of people from 1616 to 1622. According to one early seventeenth century account, that of Thomas Morton, there were not even enough Indians to tell anyone what had happened to all the rest.

The settlers thanked God, for it was the hand of God in their eyes that cleared the way for their colonies and farms. Divine providence.

But it is this:

Not this:

Conservative Christians should be thanking for “White” America.

It is understandable that religious people knowing nothing about the germ theory of medicine might give their God the credit for murdering millions to make room for a filthy and backward-thinking few thousand, which doesn’t say much for religion, admittedly. But hundreds of years on, we know what did kill those people. And we know it wasn’t God. Science explains the success of the American colonies that grew into the United States. And God had no role in it.

Thomas Morton saw it differently, of course, wrote of the plague in 1637 that “By this means the place is made so much more fit for the English nation to inhabit in, and erect in it Temples to the glory of God.” And of course, if Indians remained, you could always make like a Puritan and overthrow the local order with the Sharia law of the seventeenth century: the Bible said untilled land was for the taking.

There is no crime for those who have Christ.

The question which must be asked is why are we still hearing the same song and dance four hundred years later?

It was no more God who settled North America successfully than it was God who won the American Revolution. It was not God who established this great nation, but men and women and children who suffered and labored long and hard in the face of terrible conditions – and all because the diseases they brought with them had wiped out the original inhabitants.  It is easy to imagine no America at all had disease not wiped out the original inhabitants.

It is impossible to say of course what might have come but it is known that European intervention was not required to build great cities on these shores, or canals or to develop complex cultures and viable ethnic religions. This the native inhabitants managed on their own.  We cannot say there would not in our place be some great nation, possibly developed by the Iroquois or perhaps the Mississippi mound builders or perhaps some other native culture, or possibly several great nations. To pretend that there is only an America today because an invading culture’s deity willed it is absurd.

It is time for America to grow up, and time for conservative Christians to acknowledge the role of science in their environment, to get past the mythologies which depend on a pre-scientific outlook long discredited. We have more useful things to teach our children and a realistic appraisal of our place in the environment, how we got to where we are, would be a nice start. We might even be able to skip a few wars as a result.

32 responses so far

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