Behind The Obama Path To 270 Is A Warning About Complacency

Dec 29 2011

Now that Obama outlook for reelection is improving his campaign manager Jim Messina put out a video today that was designed to guard against complacency among those who support Obama.

Here’s the video:

After stating that the campaign sees more than forty possible paths to the 270 electoral college delegates needed for election, Messina focused on five specific paths, but the key to video came after the maps when Messina said,

Our entire goal here is to put as many of these maps in play as possible. And at the end it’s just a financial decision. Do we have enough money to register the voters we need in Arizona? Can we start putting more neighborhood team organizers on the ground in North Carolina? It’s all about whether or not we have the resources to do this. People have speculated this is a billion-dollar campaign. That’s bull[bleeped].

We don’t take PAC money, unlike our opponents. We fund this campaign in contributions of three dollars or five dollars or whatever you can do to help us expand the map, to put more people on the ground, to build a real grass-roots campaign that is going to be the difference between winning and losing.

Beneath the maps and the fundraising pitch was the real purpose of this video. The Obama campaign is trying to guard against complacency. They saw what happened in 2010 when Democrats didn’t bother to show up. They see what is happening right now with the president’s improving poll numbers and the improving economic outlook. Most importantly, they see how weak the Republican field is.

So far the race for the Republican nomination has been such a farce that it would easy for an Obama supporter to look at the GOP field and think that none of those candidates could possibly defeat Obama, but the truth is that a repeat of the 2010 election is possible if the Obama Democrats don’t come out to vote in 2012. Messina was trying to debunk the stories about Obama potentially having a billion dollar war chest, because he knows that grassroots organization, not fundraising is why Obama won in 2008.

In 2008, the Obama campaign stretched Republican resources by making their opposition defend states that were traditionally red. When Messina discussed competing in Arizona, he was mentioning one possible method of expanding their strategy. (This is a fairly big hint that money is not going to be an issue for the 2012 Obama campaign).

It is telling that the Obama campaign is going to spend a large sum of money on grassroots organizing and get out the vote efforts. The Republican gotv machine atrophied under George W. Bush and as of yet there has been no indication that the Republican Party is planning to spend the resources to rebuild their grassroots network. Odds are that they might depend on the tea party to get the base out.

The fact that the Obama campaign released this type of video right before the year end fundraising deadline indicates that they are not only trying to finish the year strong on the fundraising front, but they are concerned about complacency.

This would also seem to drill a hole right through Robert Reich’s prediction that Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are going to swap jobs in 2012. A campaign with 40 paths to victory doesn’t need to make a desperate move like getting a new running mate.

It is a fun fantasy, the revival of the Democratic dream team, but I think Clinton was serious when she stated that she wanted a rest. She may take a break for a while, but I suspect her batteries will be recharged by 2016. It was nice of Reich to give us all something to debate between Christmas and New Year’s though.

Approval of Obama is on the rise. Democratic support for the renomination of the president recently tied a record high. Things seem to be going in the right direction for Obama’s reelection effort.

The Obama campaign knows that they are the favorite, and the biggest thing they need to guard against is complacency as they head into 2012.

15 responses so far

The Real Job Creator: Obama Has Created 2.3 Million Jobs Since 2010

Dec 29 2011

In Article VI of the Constitution, it says that, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It is arguably one of the most important parts of the Constitution to protect America from becoming a theocracy. However, when a candidate’s religion is purported to be an integral part of their character it goes without saying that adherence to the perceived high moral standards inherent with devout religious men and women should reconcile with the veracity, or lack thereof, of their campaign statements. Pundits assail Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and the other conservative Christian Republican presidential hopefuls for their rhetoric and policy positions that are contrary to their Christian beliefs, but up to this point Willard Romney has avoided criticism for contradicting his religious beliefs.

At issue is not whether Romney’s Mormon faith is a cult or not as many Christians claim, but rather, if his Mormon beliefs permit blatant lying to earn the Republican nomination for the presidency. Romney claims that he follows the tenets of the Christian faith, and if that is indeed true (it is not entirely true), then his character becomes suspect because he is a liar. This is not an indictment of Romney’s tendency to change his position on issues at the rate most people change their underwear, but a clear charge of mendacious statements about President Obama.

Romney’s criticisms of President Obama’s record and intentions for the country go beyond lacking veracity; they are deliberately fallacious and misleading for the sole purpose of portraying the president as an ineffectual leader and provocateur of Socialism and Communism. In fact, it is difficult to find any truth in Romney’s statements about the president leading any reasonable person to assume that Willard is not only not a Christian, but a Satanist whose belief system has as its basis lies and misinformation for the purpose of self-promotion and material enrichment. In Romney’s case, since he is already rich, his lies are for self-promotion to attain the nation’s highest office and a position of unmatched power and influence.

One of the biggest lies Romney told is that President Obama has not created any jobs during his three years as president. Romney’s lying is to cover the truth that his former company, Bain Capital, eliminated jobs while Romney raked in millions of dollars a year even during his retirement. Romney’s plan to respond to upcoming attacks on his business acumen that depends on slashing jobs to increase profits is to lie by claiming that the president “has not created any new jobs during his tenure.”  Romney said, “25 million people are out of work because of Barack Obama. And so I’ll compare my experience in the private sector where, net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs. I’ll compare that record with his record, where he has not created any new jobs.” Romney, the devout Mormon, is a liar.

Since March 2010, the private sector added 2.3 million new jobs and “it took the Obama economy one year to create more jobs” than during George W. Bush’s presidency did in eight years. The new jobs created during the Obama Administration are due in part to the stimulus, unemployment benefit extension and payroll tax cut from December 2010. There have been public sector job losses due to state budget deficits caused by the Bush-Republican Great Recession, but Romney has promised to cut more public sector jobs by slashing government programs that will make government employees face what Romney did to employees while at Bain Capital.  During Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts, from 2003-2007 before the recession hit the economy, the state ranked 47th in job creation. Romney’s lack of honesty and dispensation of the truth prevents him from providing evidence that during his time a Bain he created 100,000 jobs.

In New Hampshire this past Monday, Romney claimed that President Obama’s “rate of regulatory burden has increased four-fold since Obama has become president. Four times the amount of regulation coming out per year as in the past. And so businesses say, gosh, I’m not sure I want to invest in America.”  Romney has repeated the regulations lie before and NPR asked Romney’s campaign for verification and they had to admit that “the governor misspoke.” No, misspeaking is different from blatantly lying and Romney’s campaign lied again when they attempted to clarify that new regulations under President Obama were twice what Bush’s administration made and that is also a blatant lie. Bloomberg News said that, “Obama’s White House approved 613 federal rules during the first 33 months of his term, 4.7 percent fewer than the 643 cleared by President George W. Bush’s administration in the same time frame, according to an Office of Management and Budget statistical database reviewed by Bloomberg.” So not only is Romney lying about Obama creating more regulations than Bush, it turns out that the President is responsible for less regulatory activity than Bush.

Romney also said that, according to an official government report, regulations cost the economy $1.7 trillion annually. It is another lie. Only a fraction of layoffs are attributable to regulations under Obama and according to an OMB estimation, the economic benefits of regulations outweigh their costs; often by a large margin. For a reference, during the Clinton Administration, regulations increased and the Clinton presidency oversaw one of the biggest job creation and economic booms in recent memory. Regulations are crucial to protect consumers from environmental hazards as well as protecting workers on the job.

Romney’s tendency to lie, as a matter-of-course, belies his alleged Christian beliefs. Whether or not Mormons are encouraged to lie to get ahead is unclear, but perhaps it is some kind of cult-like ritual that works well in Utah and Mormon missionary training, but it is not worthy of a presidential candidate or an honest American. Willard cannot claim ignorance in misstating figures and assertions because every lying statement he makes is easily verifiable as part of the public government record. Romney is a liar and there is a big difference between changing positions on an issue and fabricating stories about President Obama to portray him as mishandling the economy.

The Constitution’s ban on a religious test for public office is reasonable and necessary to prevent a theocratic takeover or restricting a particular candidate’s religious belief from allowing them to serve.  But Romney has portrayed himself as a Mormon of high moral character who adheres to the bible and its prohibition on lying, but by lying profusely, Willard belies that he is honest, a Christian, or has any moral character whatsoever. If Romney is willing to tell abject lies that are easily refuted, what does it say about every other statement the man has ever told? It is unclear if Mormons are encouraged to lie because of the secretive nature of the religion, but if Willard Romney is any indication, then one must assume that his religion does indeed promote lying in order to earn the highest office in America. The last thing Americans need is another liar in the White House because like George Bush and Ronald Reagan, a Willard Romney presidency will be a disaster based on deceit, fear-mongering and lies to protect the wealthy and start unnecessary wars.


20 responses so far

Exposing The Lie: South Carolina Can’t Prove the Need for Voter ID Law

Dec 29 2011

14 responses so far

Bryan Fischer Says Picking a President is Choosing a Minister of God

Dec 29 2011

Embracing the divine right of kings

Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), stumbled into the bad old Dark Ages the other day (and no, it’s not his first trip back). Writing on his personal blog on AFA which speaks only for him and aparently not for the AFA, the man who hates gays, secularists, Muslims, Native Americans, healthy Americans, and a bunch of others we don’t have the space to name, made the claim (as far as we know without blushing) that “when we pick a president, we are in fact choosing a minister of God.”

As such, he sees the “considerable debate” engaged in by Evangelicals over “marital qualifications for public office” as healthy and “a sign of a vigorous community of faith.”

In other words, all the extremist pandering in Iowa I’ve recently spent most every day denouncing, is a good, healthy part of American politics.

I was about to say we might want to spend more time arguing about the candidate’s knowledge of the economy or foreign relations or heck, even the U.S. Constitution, but what was I thinking? It isn’t the Constitution with its prohibition of religious tests or against state-sponsored religion that matters, says Fischer, but the Bible.

Fischer, Johnny-on-the-spot, has anticipated me:

“Those who say that a candidate’s trouble marital past should not be a consideration for values voters are quick to point out that we are choosing a president, not a pastor. The qualifications, they say, are different for pastors than for politicians.”

And they are different, manifestly so. Certainly we want a good character person in the White House just as you’d want one for pastor. But how many times the candidate has been married matters a bit more for a pastor, who, after all, is supposed to morally guide his flock, than for a president, who is supposed to govern a country.

When was the last time a pastor needed to be well-versed in nuclear disarmament protocols or to master the complex machinations of the Pentagon or the grand strategy of the asymmetrical war on terror and two conventional wars besides? How many pastors could have taken out Osama bin Laden?

Here is where all of you who questioned the relevance of Paul of Tarsus in a recent article might take note. Fischer finds the answer “no less than three times in Romans 13” where Paul “uses words that emphasize the sacredness of public service.” Look at the language Paul uses and Fischer eagerly quotes:

“The one who serves in public office is ‘God’s servant’ and the ‘servant of God’ (v. 4), and statesmen are ‘ministers of God’ (v. 6).

Thus, claims Fischer in a eureka-moment, “if in fact we allow the Scriptures to be our guide, then public service is a form of ministry. One who holds public office is serving in a divinely ordained role, just as much as a pastor in the pulpit. The role of a statesman is every bit as sacred as that of a clergyman.”

Sacredly ordained…I think Bryan Fischer just rediscovered the divine right of kings – and a neat segue into the GOP principal that God chooses our presidents for us since we are a divinely sanctioned nation. And sure enough, there it is:

“[T]here is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Therefore, says Fischer, pounding his point home, “Every politician, whether he knows it or not, is using delegated power, delegated authority, authority delegated to him by God himself.”

Not, significantly, delegated by the Constitution, which in fact established our political offices. It is the will of the people – we the people – who hold the reins in the United States – not God, not the Bible, not the will of men pretending to do God’s will.  Remember how I suggested perhaps a president should have a working knowledge of the Constitution? That goes doubly for Bryan Fischer, the guy who thinks the Establishment Clause established Christianity as the state religion rather than forbidding that establishment, and who as a result, perhaps, should stick to ministering.

Even if we go back in time to the days when Paul wrote (the first century C.E.), his insights would no doubt have startled the Romans as much as any constitutionally-minded American, given that their institutions were ancient and unique and established in the distant polytheistic past in central Italy, not by a small group of rabid monotheists in Judaea. I bet Caesar didn’t know he was serving “God” when he became consul. I’m certain he thought he was serving the Senate and the People of Rome – and maybe himself (but that’s true of every office holder throughout history).

The idea that God controls all human affairs and takes a direct hand in them through agents on earth is an ancient one. The mantle rested lightly in the days before God started telling people how to act, much less so afterward. The Jewish priesthood in post-monarchical Israel claimed to be governing Israel for the true King (God) and we all know how Jesus felt about that; and we are all well aware of the horrors perpetrated on humanity by European king after European king pretending to stand in for God on earth. Any horror can be perpetrated when one claims divine sanction. Hitler even declared divine sanction in the form of “providence” (a term also much used by Christianity).

History teaches us, even if you choose like Fischer to ignore the U.S. Constitution, that sane people ought to be running away from the idea that elected officials serve God before they serve their constituents. The Founding Fathers ran away from that idea by eliminating (or so they thought) the possibility of state-sponsored religion and religious tests for office, by leaving out all mention of God, Jesus, Bible (including the aforementioned Paul) and divine right out of the Constitution.

Yet again and again religious conservatives circle the argument around to God and the Bible and leave the Constitution out of it, unless pretending the Constitution is actually based on the Ten Commandments (leaving you to wonder if they have read either document). “Values voters” are certainly free to vote their conscience in 2012 – the Constitution (not the Bible) guarantees them this right. But all the “faith” in the world cannot change the wording of that document or make Paul ‘s nattering relevant to the political process established by it.

Ultimate authority derives not from God, not through some outdated concept of divine sanction, but from the people, and a voter’s first concern should be in choosing the candidate who best serves the interest not of God but of the people.  Leave issues of morality to those best able to hypocritize them – ministers like Bryan Fischer.

15 responses so far

2011: The Year The 99% Fought Back

Dec 28 2011

As we close out 2011, Politicus Radio reflects on the most under reported development of the year. The 99% have risen up and fought back against the criminals who destroyed our economy, the politicians who are owned by conservative billionaires, and economic inequality. From Wisconsin to Occupy Wall Street, 2011 has been the year of the 99%.

Listen to the show:

Listen to internet radio with Jason Easley on Blog Talk Radio

7 responses so far

Jon Stewart Crushes Fox News In The 2011 Ratings

Dec 28 2011

By losing 9% of their audience in 2011, Fox News’ prime time lineup now averages fewer viewers than Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

According to TVNewser, Fox News averaged 1.868 million total viewers in prime time compared to 2.3 million for The Daily Show.

The audience erosion continued over at Fox News as the network lost 8% of its total viewers and 14% of their viewers in the 25-54 demo. The total number of daytime Fox News viewers slipped to 1.073 million.

“Red Eye” was the only Fox News show to post ratings gains in 2011. Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and On The Record With Greta Van Susteren all lost viewers. In the morning, Fox and Friends remained flat. Fox News still showed its dominance by having the top 13 rated cable news programs, but a certain program hosted by a comedian that Fox News loves to hate on Comedy Central blew past most of the Fox News shows in the ratings.

According to Comedy Central, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart averaged 2.3 million viewers per episode in 2011. Unlike Fox News, “The Daily Show” was up in total viewers (+7%) and all key demos: adults 18-49 (+6%); men 18-34 (+2%); men 18-24 (+4%).” The Daily Show was also the top cable late night talk show in terms of total viewers, and was generally dominant. While Fox News was losing 14% in the demo in 2011, Jon Stewart was gaining 6%.

Jon Stewart has become Fox News’ #1 media nemesis. To put Stewart’s ratings into a head to head context, The O’Reilly Factor tends to hover around the 3 million viewers range. Hannity is at around 2+ million, and On The Record with Greta Van Susteren varies between 1.1 million and 1.5 million as an average. This means that The Daily Show is more popular than both Hannity and On The Record, and trails O’Reilly by about 700,000 viewers.

The reason why Fox News feels so threatened by Jon Stewart is because his program is more popular than anything not named Bill O’Reilly on the network. Not only is Stewart popular, but he is popular with the coveted young demographics that Fox News struggles with. The average Fox News viewer is 65 years old. For years, the Fox News model of success has been powered by viewers literally aging in to watching Fox.

However, Jon Stewart has thrown a wrench in the Fox News cycle of life by educating his millions of younger viewers about Fox News. Stewart spends segments debunking the propaganda, exposing facts, and uncovering the edited video that is the bread and butter of America’s top cable news network.

Every night Stewart is teaching Americans how to not watch Fox News. The Daily Show host has become the media critic with the biggest platform and loudest voice in our country, and most often that voice is targeting Fox News for their brand of “journalism.”

Overall Stewart beat Fox News’ prime time lineup 2.3 million-2.2 million (which is a different number than the above mentioned 1.8 million, but when The Daily Show is matched up against every non-O’Reilly FNC program, it leads and/or dominates. As we head into 2012, the news that Stewart’s entertainment program based in large part on debunking the misinformation in the mainstream media is doing so well should provide hope that maybe someday sanity will return to our national discourse.

151 responses so far

A Movement To Draft Sarah Palin Urges Iowa Republicans to Vote Rogue

Dec 28 2011

The Sarah Palin crowd is hanging on to Iowa with all they’ve got. They are urging Iowans to vote rogue this January!

An independent group are running ads in Iowa asking voters to write in Palin’s name. They will air on KCAU-TV in the Sioux City, Iowa market. Some will also air as a commercial during the Broncos-Chiefs game on WHBF-TV in the market for the eastern border of Iowa. Here’s their vote rogue ad:

Okay, in case you weren’t quaking from that one, check out the Bear:

There’s a bear in the woods and the bear is vicious and dangerous and isn’t it smart to be as dangerous as the bear, if there really is a bear? Or something like that. Anyway, the point is to vote for Palin (the bear) and the other point is that the other non-Palin candidates better get it together because they are not as tough as the bear (if the bear exists).

Back on the 6th of December, Shellymic, the maker of these videos, debuted the first video, claiming that the ads were not to promote Palin as a write-in candidate, “This is a 30-second commercial and is NOT promoting a write-in effort for Iowa.”

My how times have changed!

The Sarah Palin Earthquake group noted yesterday on Facebook, “MEMBERS: I am happy to announce that our group will be credited with running some radio ads in Iowa on station WHO over this week and weekend. We were asked by some independent individuals if we would work with them to get the ads put on. They are donating to having the ads run and we are lending our Iowa Earthquake’s name to the ads. They have secured a spot on the Rush Limbaugh show and Simon Conway show along with other scattered time slots. This will add to the saturation of the airwaves this last week. Thank you to our members and others who arranged this merger of all of us!”

With Newt falling in the polls and on Intrade, the conservative field is opening up once again for the fickle followers. Fox News is pushing Rick Santorum (the only one left other than Jon Hunstman and he’s not a Fox News conservative or religious cultist), but Santorum has never had national lift-off in spite of his Google fame. He is polling at 16% in Iowa now, thanks to Fox telling their viewers who to support this month (we report, you fall in line). However, with all the changes in the rules and the wide open field, Palin could take Iowa by storm if she wished.

Sarah Palin’s Iowa Earthquake is a closed Facebook group with 359 members, although there are many other Palin Earthquake groups on Facebook. The main page has 1,242 likes as of this writing. On Free Republic, a member claims that on October 8, 2011, the Sarah Palin’s Earthquake group had 1,000s of members that are a part of a draft Sarah Palin movement.

Conservatives for Palin states that the Palin Quake’s main purpose is to round up all of her supporters to create the “earthquake” that will stir a change of heart in their chosen candidate. They write, “A win in Iowa would be a strong enough earthquake to meet the bar she has set. If we could deliver Iowa for her, it would make a huge statement for her viability and in her supporters’ sincere grassroots efforts to help get her into the race.”

The name of the group is based on Palin’s conversation with Mark Levin wherein she said she would not change her mind about running absent a 10.3 magnitude earthquake, which her supporters are trying to create by taking Iowa for Palin.

It’s encouraging to see citizens this engaged in the election process, no matter who their chosen candidate is.

Is there a bear in the woods? Time will tell.

33 responses so far

Corporate Food News: McDonald’s Goes Belly Up In Bolivia

Dec 28 2011

The golden arches are belly up in Bolivia. It seems Bolivians don’t consider fast food good food. Cue the panicked and confused Mickey D marketers grasping on to their established American victims.

Lisa Karpova of Pravda translated from the original Spanish:

After 14 years of presence in the country, and despite all the existing campaigns and having a network, the chain was forced to close the eight restaurants that remained open in the three main cities: La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

It is a question of the first Latin-American country that will remain without any McDonald’s, and the first country in the world where the company has to close because it persists in having their numbers in the red for over a decade.

Confused marketers made a documentary entitled “Why McDonald’s went broke in Bolivia” in which they tried to explain that Bolivians don’t like hamburgers. But it turns out that Bolivians simply prefer slow cooked food.

In Bolivia, the food to be good requires, in addition to taste, care, and hygiene, a lot of preparation time. This is how a consumer values the quality of what goes into the stomach, also by the amount of time it took to make the meal. Fast food is not for these people, the Americans concluded.

So, we are not hard-wired for Mickey D’s. This means that something else is selling us on eating cardboard grease. Gosh, whatever could it be? How did corporations sell Americans on a culture of fast food, creating a desire for semi-food, frozen specks of animal fat laden with additives covered in sugary syrups?

In May of this year, McDonald’s got a letter from 550 health experts, accusing the corporate monster of ignoring the impact its product and predatory marketing has on kids.

“McDonald’s and industry front groups have refused to address the dangerous toll that fast food and predatory marketing is taking on our kids,” they wrote.

“In the decades to come, one in three children will develop type 2 diabetes as a result of diets high in McDonald’s-style junk food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the experts noted. The letter, which also attacked Ronald McDonald as a marketing toll which helps the fast food company draw in younger customers, ran in several papers around the country, including large metros like The Chicago Sun-Times.

In Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me , he ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. In that short period, his health rapidly deteriorated.

John Robbins, one of the participants in the documentary, concluded for Huffington Post, “It turned out that in the 30 days, the then 32-year-old man gained 25 pounds, his cholesterol levels rose dangerously as did fatty accumulations in his liver, and he experienced mood swings, depression, heart palpitations and sexual dysfunction.”

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine draws attention to the link between heart disease deaths and fast food with this ad, taking aim at McDonald’s:

While it may be overtly manipulative and pushing a vegetarian diet (fwiw, your writer is a ‘mostly vegetarian’), is it any more manipulative than the typical McDonald’s ad?

In 2007, McDonald’s won an Australian award for most manipulative ad.

The SpongeBob Squarepants Happy Meal ad was named the winner of the Pester Power Award at the third annual Children’s TV Food Advertising Awards in Melbourne today.

The award recognises the most manipulative food ad on television and is voted on by the 2900 members of the Parents Jury, a web-based forum for parents to voice their views and advocate for the improvement of children’s food and physical activity environments.

Professor Boyd Swinburn from Deakin University said the result clearly highlighted the continuing frustrations parents had about toys being used as marketing gimmicks for unhealthy foods. “The message is loud and clear. Parents are fed up having to contend with McDonald’s enticing their children to want its food by using free toy giveaways,” he said.

Here’s the Sponge Bob German version commercial:

Which is more manipulative – the Sponge Bob giveaways aimed at the kids or the Mickey D toe-tagged heart attack patient clutching a McDonald’s burger? One is using toys to manipulate children into eating death, while the other is trying to manipulate adults into not eating death. However, the medical evidence supports the Mickey D toe tag theory whereas I have yet to see any evidence that Sponge Bob has great taste in food.

Bolivians let the free market decide McDonald’s fate and they went broke because Bolivian culture does not value fast food. But we Americans are way too busy and important to value the food we put into our bodies and our children’s bodies. After all, we have to work so we can pay the outrageous healthcare costs that this bad food creates a need for.

Thanks to our willing complicity, McDonald’s shares rose 120% in the last five years. They get rich as we go broke, and the more broke we are, the more we eat their food, which is causing a need for healthcare we can’t afford. And so it goes.

Speaking of too big to fail, just how long do you think it might be before the awakening to economic injustice leads to the death-by-corporate food awakening?

Feed yourselves, people. It’s cheaper, it’s better for you, and it will save you tons of money in the long run on top of saving the quality of your life. It will also keep you from paying the corporate monsters to screw you out of your health while supporting local farmers. It’s called freedom and independence.

Yes, it’s a PIA, but isn’t your life worth it?

44 responses so far

2011 Ends With The Republican War On Women Still Going Strong

Dec 28 2011

There is a twisted mentality throughout the world that engenders oppression of women that has, as its basis, extremist religious fundamentalism.  Normally, persecution of women is thought to be Islamic countries’ provenance, and, indeed, women in countries such as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan suffered horribly for not following a rigid interpretation of Islamic law. There have been, however, recent reports from Israel of extremist religious fundamentalists persecuting women for not adhering to strict dress codes and modesty rules. In Egypt, the military is accused of conducting virginity tests on female prisoners who were arrested for demonstrating the slow transition of power from military to civilian rule. It appears that around the world there is a rise in religious extremism that targets women for non-compliance of religious edicts and the notion that women must be subordinate to men. Unfortunately, it is not just extremists who oppress women and keep them in subordinate roles; the truth is that oppression of women is rampant in main-stream, seemingly moderate religions.

America’s women can relate to the religious persecution that Egyptian and Israeli women are facing after a full year of assaults by Republicans in Congress and state legislatures on behalf of Christian fundamentalists. It is true that American women suffer beatings and oppression in private from their fine Christian husbands who follow Stone Age biblical rules, but they are not being spat on in public, forced to sit in the back of a bus, or forced to submit to virginity tests; at least not yet. If 2011 was any indication, Republicans may yet match Afghanistan, Israel, and Egyptian fundamentalists’ oppression of women and they will continue using legislation to do it.

In Israel, Ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) are facing a pledge from Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to curb harassment and discrimination after complaints over the actions of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Like American ultra-Christian fundamentalists, Haredim have a higher birthrate than Israeli Jews, with 10 children in a single family not uncommon, and their rising numbers portend a theocratic takeover of the government similar to America and when that occurs, they, like Republicans, will begin using the legislative process to impose their Stone Age edicts on Israeli women.  However, for now, Israeli women are fortunate their government protects them from persecution at the hands of religious extremists and hopefully, they are able to avoid following in the footsteps of America where one political party legislates the bible’s harsh rules against women’s rights.

In 2011, there were nearly 1,000 bills in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s right to legal abortion services. The sad news is that the Republicans in the House waged an all-out war on women that was wide-ranging as well as drastic on a federal level. The assailants in Congress and state houses were not limited to anti-abortion measures, but were as far-reaching as restricting birth control, family counseling, and critical cancer screenings for low-income women. The anti-woman proponents found novel ways to persecute women and their right to choose, and although all of the legislation attacking women is hideous, there are some that defy belief in America in 2011.

The personhood movement is the most unbelievable approach to forced birth and although voters in states like Mississippi rejected attempts to define a zygote as a person, there are 24 other states reworking Mississippi’s version of the bill to help give a single-celled organism the same rights as an American adult. The movement is promoted by Catholics whose goal is outlawing abortion, contraceptives, and stem cell research, and one Republican presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, called for a national personhood movement and constitutional amendment. It is one thing for religious fundamentalists in the most Christian state in the Union to push a Catholic belief on the entire state, but a major Republican presidential candidate pushing a national constitutional amendment informs the beginning of theocracy by Constitutional edict. Of course, Gingrich and Christian fundamentalists are doing what white male chauvinists have done for centuries, and that is oppress women by biblical authority.

The other tragic development that bears repeating is the “Protect Life Act” passed by Republicans in the House that allows hospitals that receive federal funds, and by extension all medical professionals, to “reject any woman in need of an abortion procedure, even if it is necessary to save her life.” Republicans have gone to such extremes to satisfy religious fundamentalists that they banned “tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or insurance.“  Their ban includes any health plan that offers abortion services regardless if a woman uses the services or not. Republicans decry government overreach as a matter-of-course, and yet they have no issue dictating what type of health insurance plan women choose.

Perhaps the most egregious Republican assault on women was H.R. 3, a bill that redefined rape to mean “forcible rape.” It meant that a woman who does not physically fight a rapist’s advances whether it was a stranger, husband, or acquaintance, she could not claim she was raped or get an abortion. The Republicans were joined by 16 despicable Democrats in passing a bill that means if their wives or 10-year old daughters said no to unwanted sexual predator’s advances and were not beaten, they simply were not raped and would be forced to give birth to their attackers’ progeny. It is another instance of forced birth and although the bill did not reach fruition in the Senate,  there was legislative manipulation that tells the courts that “statutory rape cases will not be covered by Medicaid if the law passed and was challenged in court.

America, like Israel, is allegedly a modern industrialized society that pioneered the information age and is responsible for the technological revolution, but religious extremists and their assault on women’s rights harkens back to Bronze Age biblical Moses. Israeli women have their government to protect them, but the religious fanatics have infiltrated the halls of Congress and state legislatures to launch the harshest attack in decades in the war on women and the basis, like ultra-Orthodox Jews and Taliban, is religion.

America’s women deserve better than to face persecution, forced birth, and loss of personal rights at the hands of conservative Christian lawmakers whether in state legislatures or the United States Congress. Republicans distinguished themselves as equal to the Taliban’s religious fanatics and should take a lesson from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and pledge to crack down on attacks on women; not perpetrate them. In order to impose the bible as law of the land, Republicans, fueled by misogynistic rage, have taken extraordinary steps to force birth on women, deprive them of their choice of health insurance, and die because a hospital refuses to perform a life-saving abortion.

The Republicans have used the bible and Christian fundamentalists’ pressure to impose their deep-seated belief that women must subject themselves to a man’s will under any circumstance. Republicans should understand that god may be proud of their misogyny and chauvinism, but decent Americans are repulsed by their Stone Age biblical edicts masquerading as socially conservative legislation. If Republicans do not care enough for America’s women to protect their rights as citizens of an allegedly freedom-loving nation, then perhaps they care about their own wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters’ rights now and in the future because there comes a point when religious frenzy encompasses a majority of the population and at that point no woman in America will be safe whether she is married to a senator or congressional representative.



13 responses so far

The One Against the Many

Dec 28 2011

“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation,
nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.
Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.”
– Gandhi

A long time ago, in what was not a galaxy far, far away, but certainly not Iowa, there were many gods and goddesses, and we mortals were free to worship them, to honor them, in whatever fashion our customs dictated. There was nothing wrong with this belief in many deities or in seeing in some of these deities the same deity – Zeus as Jupiter, Asherah as Ishtar, Apollo as Helios. The despised earth itself could be numinous, a host for and a thing of surpassing divinity and the gods participants within and not observers from without our mundane world.

Once upon a time, “worldly” was not a dirty word.

It was seen as both logical and natural that the universe – both above and below and all around us – was filled with the divine. There was nothing wrong with one person worshipping Thor, another Jupiter or Zeus, or yet another Isis or her Demeter or Ra or Baal or one in the morning and a different god in the afternoon. There was no one to tell us we were wrong, because the idea that there was one capital “T” Truth and one capital “G” God and the concomitant intolerance based on religion had not yet been born.

If it did not matter if you went to one temple in the morning and another in the afternoon, it did not matter if your neighbor, or even your brother, sister, wife or husband or child went to another. All gods by definition existed; all demanded our respect. And that was what religion was: paying proper respect to the gods, nothing more, and nothing less. The gods did not tell you how to live; no one had invented “revealed” religion and while atheists, inured to centuries of repressive monotheism, say religion makes us slaves, you cannot be a slave without a master, and the gods of polytheism, speaking occasionally through oracles or dreams, gave humankind no ordinances to follow. The occasional cryptic utterance of the Pythia in Delphi cannot be compared to the detailed prohibitions of Mosaic or Sharia law.

This changed of course, with the coming of monotheism. Monotheism could not – and cannot now – abide competition. Polytheism can accommodate monotheism – it merely requires the introduction of an additional god after all. That is easily done. But if polytheism can coexist with monotheism, monotheism cannot abide or coexist with polytheism because by its very definition, there can be only one god and one truth.

Monotheists are and always have been very serious about this particular point, as has their God. Why it should matter that others accept more than this one god may seem a bit puzzling to polytheists, agnostics, atheists, pantheists and others today – it certainly surprised the polytheists of yesteryear. They were baffled, puzzled, and downright frustrated by this insistence that all the divine was contained within this one God, who was too jealous to share the credit. Even then, simple disdain would not be so hard, but monotheism mixes disdain with blood. If it claims to eschew sacrifice, it embraces slaughter of another sort, the destruction of those it marks as “the Other,” of those who refuse for one reason or another to embrace the idea of that single god.

We might say that such jealousy, whether from god or man must be generated by an equally fierce inferiority complex and sense of inadequacy, but such knowledge does little to shield us from the harsh verdict of religious courts and the implements of torture and death, or even from the more minor punishments of confiscation of property, loss of rights and alienation and verbal and physical abuse – the elements our modern society now groups together under the label of marginalization and discrimination. Something more is needed to protect us from the wrath of this insecure and jealous deity and his zealous followers. That thing is knowledge, not the carefully fabricated capital “T” Truth of monotheism but the myriad truths of polytheism, a truth that is as numerous as the gods and goddesses we were once free to honor and to worship and as vast as the universe itself.

A quote often misattributed to Sinclair Lewis in his 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here:  “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross,” still captures the essence of the truth we face today. That day has arrived, and the Enlightenment itself has come under attack by the Christian Right,[1] as has the idea of Separation of Church and State, enshrined in the Constitution. Pat Robertson, for example, says “There is no such thing as … separation of state and church … in the Constitution. It’s a lie of the left.” Bryan Fischer claims that the First Amendment, which forbids establishment of a state religion establishes Christianity as a state religion. The very thing the Constitution forbids – a religious test for candidates – is now a fact, whether official or not. Even President Obama, rather than reminding the country that it’s none of their business, hastens to reassure America that he is indeed a Christian.

Regina Schwartz notes the tenacity of monotheism and observes that it’s tenet – “one God establishes one people under God – has been translated from the sphere of the sacred to nationalism”[2] and we find ourselves in a nation in which patriotism is equated with God, that one-of-a-kind monotheistic God. Since God has created our Nation (so the logic goes) he has also chosen our “rulers” and if we despise them we are despising God also – a very dangerous thing to do when dealing with a self-proclaimed jealous God and his (to say the least) rabidly devoted followers.

We have arrived at a point where not only is the possibility of the many denigrated but also the myriad of possibilities surrounding the one. With the loss of power suffered by orthodox Christianity by way of first the Reformation and then the European Enlightenment, it came to be rediscovered that there were many possible Christianities, many possible interpretations and modes of belief and worship. People were freer than at any time since the destruction of polytheism to have their religions (or no religion), and the U.S. Constitution guaranteed this right.

But now the idea that we can have our religions – even if our religion is no religion – is under attack. Barack Obama, Keith Ellison, Mitt Romney – are all victims of the same monotheistic prejudice. If religious fundamentalists have their way, Christians will have no more right to their beliefs than does a Pagan and an atheist and the fanatical minority – as they have done before – will direct and guide our thoughts and punish us when we stray. We have seen it already: Islam is a cult, “pagan culture” has destroyed America, atheists aren’t really citizens, only Christians are real Americans and if you don’t believe in God you’re not patriotic.

The fevered pandering to religious extremists in Iowa has made this clear: A Republican victory in 2012 means more than a continued war on women or a war on marriage equality. It would mean the defeat of the very pluralism that America was founded upon, the freedom to think and to decide for yourself; the right to worship twenty gods or no god. America has held religion against a candidate before – John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism was an issue long before Obama’s progressive Christianity or Mitt Romney Mormonism – but that is no reason it should be so again. And Americans will either support or not support the U.S. Constitution in 2012, with a vote for a GOP candidate being a vote against the very essence of America.


[1] A fact noted by Gerd Lüdemann in his recent work, The Resurrection of Christ (2004) in which he notes  (p. 202) “Recently we have witnessed a resurgence of fundamentalism; dogmatic thinking seems to be gaining adherents not only in the world at large but also within the church. Credulous acceptance of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection goes hand in hand with attacks on rationalism’s alleged narrowing of the notion of reality – a scurrilous subterfuge, according to doctrinaire believers, that excludes the very investigation of the possibility of the resurrection.”

[2] Regina Schwartz, The Curse of Cain: The Violent History of Monotheism (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 15-16.

20 responses so far

« Newer posts Older posts »