Nel's New Day

September 30, 2014

GOP House Candidates: Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 7:43 PM
Tags: , ,

DailyKos has proposed that Glenn Grothman, the Wisconsin state senator considered to be a shoe-in for the U.S. representative in the state’s sixth district in seven weeks, is the new “dumbest Congressman” for the 114th Congress. Mother Jones offered up some of his credentials for this position:

  • He proposed rolling back a state law requiring employers to give workers at least one day of rest a week, describing the current state law as “a little goofy” and claiming that his proposal is about “freedom.” At one time, people declared that being forced to work seven days a week wasn’t Christian; now preventing a seven-day work week is communism.
  • He believes that homosexuality is a choice and wants to keep public school teachers from mentioning homosexuality in sex education. To him, Ugandan law to criminalize homosexuality is ideal.
  • He thinks that Kwanzaa is a phony holiday promoted by “white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.”
  • He is opposed to equal-pay legislation because “money is more important for men.”
  • He introduced a bill requiring Wisconsin to officially deem single parenthood to be a “contributor” to child abuse and neglect and in the laws of the state.

At least 26 GOP members of the House will be replaced because they have resigned or lost their primaries. Here is some competition for Glenn Grothman, other candidates likely to be elected:

Baptist pastor Mark Walker, running for the position of Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), wrote on Facebook that he “had the privilege of spending an hour with an African-American male who grew up in the inner city,” but that “most of these Americans have no concept of the pride and joy when we, as parents, invest in our children.” Walker also wants to impeach the president and declare war on Mexico because of undocumented immigrants coming across the border.

Former Navy SEAL team member Ryan Zinke, running for the position of Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), said the country is losing its focus on “the real enemy,” Hillary Clinton, whom he called the Antichrist.

Former candidate in both New Hampshire and Maryland Alex X. Mooney, running for the position of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), has 100 percent approval from Right to Life, Christian Coalition, and Family Values Alliance and never voted for a tax increase.

After defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary, David Brat has a chance at the Virginia seat. He wants to slash Social Security, Medicare, and education spending and says “rich” nations don’t have to fear climate change. Brat also wants to dissolve the IRS and absolves Big Finance and the banks of responsibility for the financial crisis that triggered the recession. (He’s an economist—and an educator?!) Another of Brat’s positions is getting rid of the United Nation and the Affordable Care Act while strictly controlling immigration.

Jody Hice, likely Georgia replacement for Rep. Paul Broun (evolution, a lie from “the pit of hell”), said of women in politics, “If the woman’s within the authority of her husband, I don’t see a problem.” Hice also compared the recent appearance of red “blood moons” to prophecies that preceded the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Israeli statehood, and the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. He claims that Islam is not a religion but a political ideology and therefore does not deserve First Amendment protections. In a satirical book, he claimed he had found a homosexual agenda to “sodomize your sons” by seducing them “in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms.”

Ken Buck, trying to take the job of Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) who’s aiming for the senate, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and compares homosexuality to alcoholism. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is no prize: he co-sponsored a fetal personhood bill in the House to give protected status to fertilized eggs. In 2010, Gardner supported a defeated statewide “personhood” amendment but has now renounced it. His name is still on the federal bill although he has claimed that the bill doesn’t exist. He outshouted a Denver reporter who asked why the representative remains a cosponsor of the Life At Conception Act, and a spokesman later said that the bill that would block many forms of contraception was largely “symbolic.”

Colorado already has Rep. Doug Lamborn, running for re-election, who bragged about talking to generals to retire en masse because of President Obama’s ISIL strategy. The member of the House Armed Services Committee told his audience of “liberty voters” that “a lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation.’” Abandoning troops in the midst of war might be one definition of sedition. After criticism of George W. Bush in 2003, Eric Cantor, senior House Republican from Virginia, said, “Traditionally, both Republicans and Democrats leave politics at the water’s edge. A united front is essential for the U.S. to effectively deal with other nations and troubled regions.”

Facing national criticism, Lamborn tried to cover up his statements by saying that they were in the past, but his speech used present tense–a dead giveaway.

Other far-right representatives will most likely be replaced by farther-right candidates: John Ratcliffe is to the right of retiring Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX); Gary Palmer is to the right of retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL); Barbara Comstock  is to the right of retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA); and so on. Comstock wants to track immigrants like FedEx tracks packages.

Several of these candidates have promised to vote against current House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for another term if they are elected. A new advertisement in Wisconsin states: “We have plenty of yes men in Congress, and look where it’s gotten us. Glen Grothman knows when it’s time to stand up and say no.” Boehner has struggled with his recalcitrant caucus for the entire 113th Congress. He may not even have the job in January.

Then there’s Monica Wehby who wants to take the U.S. senate position from Oregon’s Democrat Jeff Merkley. But that’s another story for another day.

September 29, 2014

SCOTUS: Future, Ginsburg Criticisms

Filed under: Elections,Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:34 PM
Tags: , , ,

On the first day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new session, and the conservative justices are already voiding citizens’ rights, temporarily stopping early voting in Ohio which was scheduled to begin tomorrow. The 5-4  vote to reverse a federal appeals court decision stays in effect until SCOTUS acts on the state officials’ appeal, which has not yet been formally filed. If that is denied, the order lapses. The order could also mean that early voting will not be permitted on most Sundays and after 5: pm, perhaps the only time that low-income people can vote.The ruling may also suppress the vote in Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. (The five conservative justices from left to right: Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy)

supreme court justices What other damage can the conservative Court do in the current session? Ian Millhiser and Nicole Flatow identify major cases and issues for this term:

Pregnancy Discrimination: UPS refused to put Peggy Young on “light duty,” not lifting over 20 pounds, after she got pregnant although the company would have permitted this if she had broken her arm. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals supported UPS, but even pro-life groups object because the decision might cause women to get abortions. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from treating pregnant women differently from other employees who are “similar in their ability, or inability, to work.” Considering the SCOTUS ruling against Lilly Ledbetter’s fair pay lawsuit, pregnancy women are likely to lose.

Racial Gerrymandering: One judge called the method for Alabama’s redrawn legislative districts as “naked ‘racial quotas’” because black voters were packed into a few districts. Considering the Court’s history against voting rights, black voters are likely to lose.

Facebook and the First Amendment: In Elonis v. United States, plaintiff Anthony Elonis threatened to kill his wife on social media: “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts. Hurry up and die, bitch, so I can bust this nut all over your corpse from atop your shallow grave. I used to be a nice guy but then you became a slut. Guess it’s not your fault you liked your daddy raped you. So hurry up and die, bitch, so I can forgive you.” The wife saw the comments as threatening, but Elonis said he didn’t mean them literally and called it art. A lower court ruled that his words were a “true threat,” but pro-life groups and anti-abortion protesters claim that an objective standard infringes on the First Amendment right to protest.

Religious Liberty in Prison: Abdul Maalik Muhammad is considered a dangerous prisoner. He wants to grow a beard because of his religious beliefs, but Arkansas officials claim that a beard could conceal contraband or weapons.

Israel and Palestine: For almost seven decades, the U.S. has been neutral about Jerusalem as an international city until Congress passed a law in 2002 that passports can list Israel as the birthplace for U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama refused to invoke the law because it interferes with the president’s exclusive authority over American foreign policy.

Cops Apprehending People by Mistake:  North Carolina troopers pulled over Nicholas Heien for having a broken tail light and found cocaine when they searched the car. Because having just one non-working tail light isn’t a state law violation, Heien claimed that the search was invalid because the police had no basis for stopping him. The state Supreme Court upheld the search by 4-3.

Marriage Equality: The question is whether SCOTUS will take a case in which all the federal appeals courts have agreed.

Hobby Lobby Redux: After SCOTUS laid a minefield across the country by ruling that a business can be “religious,” it may feel the need to clarify how far businesses can go to eliminate workers’ ability to obtain birth control coverage—or to commit any other illegal behavior.

Abortion: Several cases on TRAP laws, sham health regulations to restrict access to abortion, are in the federal court system. In its last term SCOTUS agreed to hear a case concerning whether a state may enact a law that restricted access to medication abortion. The Court dismissed the case before reaching the merits. With many new anti-abortion laws at the state level, SCOTUS may tackle the issue.

Affordable Care Act: The federal courts currently have consensus in accepting ACA after the decision of two judges ruling against the health care law were withdrawn because the full appeals court decided to hear the case. Politics, however, may cause the four conservative judges to take on a case in this area.

At least one of those four judges, possibly Chief Justice John Roberts, may realize that taking on cases without federal court dissension opens up the Court to further charges of putting politics before the law and diminish the prestige of the highly unpopular court. In his confirmation he promised promising an age of apolitical comity. “It’s a high priority to keep any kind of partisan divide out of the judiciary as well,” Roberts said.

As Garrett Epps wrote in The Atlantic: 

 “The Supreme Court’s 2013 term began with oral argument in a divisive, highly political case about campaign finance and concluded with two 5-4 decisions of divisive, highly political cases, one about public-employee unions and the other about contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. In all three cases, the result furthered a high-profile objective of the Republican Party. In all three cases, the voting precisely followed the partisan makeup of the Court, with the five Republican appointees voting one way and the four Democratic appointees bitterly dissenting. In all three cases, the chief voted with the hard-right position. By the end of the term, the polarization Roberts had seen in the nation had clearly spread to the Court.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become more and more open in her dissatisfaction of her Court. In an interview with Jeffrey Rosen for The New Republic, she discussed a wide variety of topics:

On differences if Justice Sandra Day O’Connor had stayed on the Court: “She would have been with us in Citizens United, in Shelby County, probably in Hobby Lobby, too…. I think she must be concerned about some of the Court’s rulings, those that veer away from opinions she wrote.”

Regarding former Chief Justice Rehnquist and Roberts: “As to [Roberts’] decisions, there’s not a major shift. I’m hoping that as our current chief gets older, he may end up the way Rehnquist did when he wrote for the Court upholding the Family and Medical Leave Act. That’s a decision you wouldn’t have believed he would ever write when he joined the Court in the early 70s. Chief Justice Rehnquist also decided that, as much as he disliked the Miranda decision, it had become police culture and he wasn’t going to overrule it.”

Regarding the 60 percent of the cases that were unanimous: “That figure is deceptive because of the disagreement among people who joined the ultimate judgment. In some of the leading cases, those disagreements were marked. For example, the recess-appointment case. The Court was unanimous that Obama’s appointments to the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] were invalid, but divided on the first two questions posed in that case: Does the president have the authority to exercise the recess power when Congress takes an intra-session recess or only when the recess occurs between sessions of Congress? The second question was, when must the vacancy occur? Must it occur during the recess? Or can the president fill up vacancies that existed before the recess? Those are questions of major importance and the Court divided sharply on the answers.”

Worst ruling of the current Court: “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United. I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. So that’s number one on my list. Number two would be the part of the health care decision that concerns the commerce clause. Since 1937, the Court has allowed Congress a very free hand in enacting social and economic legislation. I thought that the attempt of the Court to intrude on Congress’s domain in that area had stopped by the end of the 1930s. Of course health care involves commerce. Perhaps number three would be Shelby County, involving essentially the destruction of the Voting Rights Act. That act had a voluminous legislative history. The bill extending the Voting Rights Act was passed overwhelmingly by both houses, Republicans and Democrats, everyone was on board. The Court’s interference with that decision of the political branches seemed to me out of order. The Court should have respected the legislative judgment. Legislators know much more about elections than the Court does. And the same was true of Citizens United. I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.”

Overturning Roe v. Wade: “Women who can’t pay are the only women who would be affected…. It will take people who care about poor women… There is no big constituency out there concerned about access restrictions on poor women.”

About her dissents: “Sometimes one must be forceful about saying how wrong the Court’s decision is.”

The full interview is here.

September 28, 2014

Control by Religious Fanatics

ISIL has established school curriculum in the occupied Iraqi city of Mosul, declaring that it seeks to “eliminate ignorance, to spread religious sciences, and to fight the decayed curriculum.” History classes are on hold until a revised history can be written and codified, and offensive pictures are to be removed from textbooks. Science classes are to be taught in accordance with religious doctrine, including the banning of evolution as a subject. In its anti-homosexual, anti-women and pro-death penalty approach, ISIL opposes all other religions. Imagine if you woke up in the morning and found yourself in a country controlled by religious fanatics? That would happen in the U.S. on November 5, the day after this year’s general elections.

Political right-wing leaders in the United States support the following:

Texas is trying to approve new textbooks that place Moses into history lessons.

The Wilks brothers, Farris and Dan, are using millions of dollars gained from fracking to put the Bible back into public schools. Their church, Assembly of Yahweh (7th Day), believes “That the Bible, as originally given, was true and correct in every scientific and historical detail. Every translation of the Bible is not necessarily one hundred percent correct, however.”

“Religious” organizations—including businesses—object to telling the federal government the names of insurance providers because their female employees might be able to get birth control from the government.

The Family Research Council Values Voters Summit had speeches from many political leaders, including presidential wannabes Bobbie Jindal, LA governor and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin also made an appearance. An FRC premise is that freedom of religion applies only to Christians who oppose same-sex marriage. Bobbie Jindal calls anti-discrimination laws a “silent war on religious liberty.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson believes that the Bible supports genocide of those who oppose against people of different religious beliefs.

Oklahoma’s GOP state Senator John Bennett claimed in a town hall meeting all Muslims are violent and need to be removed from the U.S. like “a cancer” that “needs to be cut out.” Complaining about the violence in the Koran, he ignored the fact that the Bible has more violence than the Islam holy book. Religion historian Philip Jenkins said on NPR, “Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Koran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wants the federal government to spy on mosques to defeat ISIL. The U.S. estimates that ISIL has about 12 U.S. citizens in the country, but most of the Muslims in this country rejects the organization. They view ISIL as an abomination because it deviates from Islam fundamentals in destroying Qur’an copies, murdering Muslims, killing innocent youths, using rape and sexual slavery.

After a teacher harassed a student and threatened punishment for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the ninth-grader contacted the American Humanist Association for help. The Supreme Court ruling that compelling people to recite the Pledge violates the First Amendment hasn’t reached Beaufort County, South Carolina. Although a form of the Pledge was written in 1892, “under God” wasn’t added until 1954.

Kentucky senate candidate Robert Ransdell told listeners Constitution Day at Kentucky University that “I believe that there is no such thing as racial equality. You see that in our cities everyday.” He added, “Blacks used to know better when they did not see whites as…easy targets. When they knew that there were real consequences if they were to attack a white person, especially…a white woman or a white child. Black people are a race of savages living in a white nation.” This was after he posted 20 campaign signs across the Cincinnati suburb of Florence stating, “With Jews You Lose.” He has 200 more signs.

with jews we lose

Quiverfull is a fundamentalist Christianity that rejects all contraception, including family planning, as a form of abortion because the faithful must “out-populate the enemy” to win the culture wars. In this patriarchal cult, men are “leaders, teachers, initiators, protectors and providers,” and women are “helpmeets” who serve men by being “submissive and yielding.” Girls cannot date but must be “courted” under the watchful eye of the father until they can marry and “experience their first kiss at the marriage altar.” The Duggar family of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting are adherents to Quiverfull. Men who constantly criticize their families are “hating the sin, but loving the sinner.” Domestic abuse, economic and emotional, is praised in their beliefs. All the Quiverfull beliefs—that men and women have separate and complementary gender roles, that sex should be restricted to marriage and is primarily for procreation, that the secular world is a threat that children must be sheltered from—come directly from the mainstream conservative Christian movement.

Catholic priest Father Jonathan Morris, Fox network contributor, wanted to stop a Satanic black mass because it was “inciting violence” by mocking Christians. He said on The Fight for Faith that Oklahoma City must stop the mass because it has a “responsibility to defend the good governance of its people.” Morris used that excuse to declare that the mass was not “free speech” and therefore against the First Amendment. He used the examples of desecrating a Koran or speaking “pro-Nazi stuff right in front of my church” as non-protected speech. It actually is protected, but as stating Christian beliefs is protected by the First Amendment.

Televangelist Rodney Howard-Browne has claimed that the federal government, under President Obama’s orders, is building concentration camps and gas chambers while preparing to institute martial law. Howard-Browne is known for leading prayer groups with senior U.S. Congressmen, including Rep. David Jolly (R-FL). A “leading congressman” told the televangelist that the dollar is about to collapse, food will become scarce, and riots will start within 12 hours.

“For Christian swingers, things are not easy.” So reads the first line of a website advocating wife-swapping for Jesus. Cristy and Dean Parave had trouble finding other couples who wanted to discuss Bible verses while trading partners, so they now shop on the net. Cristy said that God created people “to breed and enjoy each other.” She’s also pretty sure that God wouldn’t be angry with wife-swapping. Want to take a look? Go to FitnessSwingers.com. Dean said, “I’m getting to people that probably never even visited church,” the usual excuse from Christians so that they can whatever they want. Last year, the website ChristianSwingers.com preached the same idea. Dean stated that he’ll keep swinging until God sends him a sign.

Wrestling also has its own group—the Christian Wrestling Federation. Their goal is “to be a Christian outreach ministry that shares the love of Jesus Christ, through wrestling events around the world.” Their website also uses the excuse that “the Bible says we are to use unique and different ways to reach people for Christ.” The CWF thinks that Jesus would like to see someone handcuffed to the ropes before getting stomped, chocked, and kicked. After this, the handcuffed person is released and led to a room where they are told to give their lives to Jesus Christ.

Hypocrisy from the religious right in Kansas: Massive tax cuts for the wealthy have left the state with a $238 million budget deficit by 2016. Instead of raising taxes for the wealthy, Kansas plans to pay for part of the deficit is to sell thousands of X-rated items seized from five sex shops in the state because the businesses didn’t pay $163,000 in states taxes.

September 27, 2014

Far-Right Indoctrinates Small Children through Terror, Falsehoods

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 11:00 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Desperate because conservatives are losing their constituency of older white people, far-right leaders are working to proselytize the young. Fox network is losing its watchers, and conservative radio shows are losing their sponsors. The answer to the conservative movement is children. The best way to take them into the fold is false and misleading education. For a long time, schools have tried to obtain textbooks that give the conservative revisionist history and science. Ten scholars in politics and history have found that Texas textbooks are full of lies and distortions to trick students into believing the radical right myths about racism, government, and the false perception that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation.”

For example, segregation wasn’t so bad, according to the textbooks, because white and black schools had “similar buildings, buses, and teachers.” Although taxes have gone up since 1927, society “does not appear to be much more civilized today than it was” back then. The book provides no information about the much reduced poverty and diseases, improved education, and better infrastructure such as the federal highway system.

Not satisfied with indoctrinating children in schools, the far right hocks coloring books for the littlest ones. Open carry is good, gays are bad—these are just a few ideas in the coloring books.

true facesThe newest offering shows bin Laden’s last moments, a man being killed by ISIL, and Taliban members. Open this new coloring book and you’ll find bin Laden’s last few moments, Taliban members and a man being killed by ISIS. Big Coloring Books has re-released the updated We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom and The True Faces of Evil Global Terrorism (with trading cards). The one letting kiddies color in an image of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the words “stone him” now includes a man being crucified as an introduction to ISIL. The page reads, “This is what ISIS wants to bring to America and its people. What are you going to do when they come for you?” (The last line comes from “Bad Boys,” written by the reggae group “Inner Circle.”)

The video accompanying the announcement of the book admits that it is “savage, barbaric, and animalistic.” Visuals of what children can color are available here.

The books’ publisher, Wayne Bell, touted his goods on Fox & Friends. Brian Kilmeade faithfully explained that the coloring books are “meant to teach kids about terror threats facing our nation” and explained that they are “teaching tools.” In claiming that the books are “accurate and fair,” he skipped over the concern that the books reinforce negative stereotypes because almost all mention of Muslims come with the terms “extremists” and “terrorists.” In the Bowe Bergdhal prisoner exchange, the book states that Obama “broke the law.”

Bell defended the gory nature of the books by claiming that TV-watching children see Christian kids being “cut in half” in Iraq. The Internet has published reports of one 5-year-old child so killed, but no video. Kilmeade said that the images in the books could “cause nightmares” but children “will be educated at the same time.” According to Kilmeade, there would be no need for these books if teachers did their jobs.

cruz coloring bookThese coloring books aren’t the only false, scary propaganda aimed at small children. Like this one by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).  Note the “Tea Plant” on the cover. According to its description, the Ted Cruz to the Future™ – Comic Coloring Activity Book is a “non-partisan, fact-driven view of how Texas Sen. Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz became a U.S. senator and details, through his quotes and public information his ideas for what he believes will help America grow.”  Among “non-partisan, fact-driven” information children will learn from the new book:

  • Ted Cruz Is A Man Of Great Virility And Stamina. (The word “virility” should bring up interesting discussions with little children.)
  • Ted Cruz Can See The Future.  (because he spoke with “clairvoyant precision” about the “quickly approaching Obama Care disaster.”)
  • Cruz Is the Constitution’s Guardian.
  • America Is a Christian Nation. (from all those “official references to … Divine guidance.”)
  • Providing Health Care To People Who Can’t Afford It Is Worse Than War.

tea party coloring bookThese radical right-wing coloring books for kids as young as two years old aren’t new. Before the 2010 election, the 32-page The Tea Party Coloring Book for Kids came on the scene from Really Big Coloring Books Inc. Christopher Knight described it in the LA Times as “cheerful in tone, semi-literate in its writing, and factually challenged…. Puzzles, lyrics to patriotic songs and line drawings of the Statue of Liberty, edifices in Washington and the facade of the New York Stock Exchange are interspersed with free-market-obsessed texts.” Messages include “No more taxes!” and private medicine “not restricted by federal or state governments.” Mr. Rushmore presidents look worried while citizens have huge smiles on vacant faces. Federal debt has “become a life style because as [sic] this will bankrupt our country.”  Run-on sentences are rife, which would have caused my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Adams, apoplexy.

The false myth of the Tea Party of 1773 is carefully placed on the front cover. No mention that the tea was thrown into the Boston Harbor because government gave big business a deal that caused small Colonial businesses to go under because they couldn’t compete. The Boston Tea Party was an uprising against big corporate tax cuts enacted by the British Parliament, many of whose members were, like King George III, major company stockholders.  (If that sounds familiar to present day, members of Congress might start worrying about a revolution.)

~TeaParty_Cover3.20A sequel to this has popped up, Tea Party II: Why America Loves You, replete with the cult’s heroes such as Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rand Paul, and Sarah Palin.  It came out before Palin’s big brawl in Anchorage that called out the police and caused her to deny she was there before she admitted she was there. House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are represented, but the text explains that they are bullies because they “openly make fun of the Tea Party.”

Politifact, which tends to lean conservative , has ruled that 60 percent of the claims by Fox network pundits and on-air personalities are Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire. Add the above statements from Wayne Bell and Brian Kilmeade to that 60 percent. And avoid the false fears of the far-right coloring books unless you want to provoke nightmares.

September 26, 2014

Voter Suppression, Solutions

A new form of voter suppression has appeared in North Carolina where Americans for Prosperity, partially funded by the Koch brothers, sent incorrect voter registration information to voters in the state and one cat. Hundreds of recipients have called the State Board of Elections about the form that they received with the wrong information:

  • At the top, the form states voter registrations are due 30 days before an election to the State Board of Elections’ office. Below, in smaller type, it states the deadline is 25 days before the election. The information must be sent to the county elections board, not the state board.
  • The first page also states people should return the registration to the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, though the envelope is addressed to the State Board of Elections.
  • It states the Secretary of State’s office has an elections division and can answer questions about registration. The North Carolina Secretary of State does not handle elections. The phone number for the Secretary of State’s office is actually for the State Board of Elections.
  • The form states that after voters mail in their information, they will be notified of their precinct by their local county clerk. Notification comes from the county board of elections or the elections director, not the county clerk.
  • The registration form also includes the wrong ZIP code for the State Board of Elections. The ZIP code associated with the board’s post office box is 27611, and the board’s office ZIP code is 27603.

A form sent to Alison Beal of Wake Forest was addressed to her brother-in-law who lives in Caldwell. Neither one belongs to Americans for Prosperity.

Adam C. Nicholson, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, refused to say how many people were sent the forms, how the group obtained the voter lists, or how the mistakes occurred. Another spokesman, Levi Russell, said that people need to look at the forms in context with an otherwise “highly successful” voter registration drive. North Carolina is the same state where Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R) was forced to change his television commercials because it gave misleading information about a new identification requirement that doesn’t go into effect until 2016.

Conservative lawmakers claimed that their new voting laws, the most restrictive and suppressive in the nation, would reduce fraud. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on a lawsuit yesterday. Thomas Farr, one of the lawyers representing the state, justified the repressive laws because nothing “horrible” happened in the May primary. said the provisions didn’t hinder minority voting in the May primary, saying nothing “horrible” had happened. Another argument against allowing people to vote is that it would be a burden for the state because it had already mailed a 30-page pamphlet to households and would have to “re-educate” voters and “let them know the new rules with the election underway.”

Judge Henry Floyd asked, “Does an administrative burden trump a constitutional right?” Judge James Wynn also questioned the seriousness of long lines at polling places, people going to wrong precincts, and the need to count same-day voter registrations by hand if they reinstated the former procedures. “How come the state of North Carolina doesn’t want people to vote?” Wynn asked.

Last Monday, a U.S. District Court heard closing arguments in the case that challenges voter suppression of 600,000 people in Texas because of the narrow number of photo IDs that can be used to vote. There is no indication of when the court will issue its ruling.

Ohio has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay a federal judge’s order that expands the state’s early voting schedule this fall. Without help from SCOTUS, people can start casting early ballots next week.

One solution for voting problems is to modernize registration at the state level. Voters are told they aren’t registered in the right place, that their address hasn’t been updated, and that their name is misspelled. Some of them have been wrongly removed from the rolls.

A uniform early voting period would remove states’ abilities to restrict the time to vote and reduce long voting lines. Another way to reduce waiting time at the polls is to establish standards for voting machines per capita. During the last election, some states saw almost no waiting time in predominantly white precincts and many hours in precincts with mostly black voters.

The federal government could also research problems with computers for voting and perhaps the owners. For example, Karl Rove had a deep involvement with the voting computers used in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election, which coincidentally had abnormalities bringing the state in for George W. Bush. In 2012, Rove guaranteed that Ohio would go for Mitt Romney, resulting in rumors that hackers changed the rigged computer software that would have provided this. Certainly, Rove’s face on Election Night showed his disbelief that Ohio went for President Obama in 2012.

The Election Assistance Commission needs to be strengthened. Without commissioners or a permanent executive director, the EAC had long been dysfunctional. Currently all four commissioner positions are vacant.

To give voters greater freedom for voting personal choice, employers need to be stopped from controlling political activity outside the job. Only four states--California, Colorado, New York and North Dakota–protect workers from being fired for legal activity outside of work. Federal law makes it illegal to “intimidate, threaten or coerce” anyone against voting as they wish, but the connection between possible coercion or intimidation and “worker education” is rather fuzzy in the eyes of the law. The federal government has mostly chosen to let states, including the ones that promote voter suppression, to decide questions of employee free speech. About half of people in the United States live in states that do not provide any worker protection for political speech or from pressure, such as threat of job loss, to vote in a specific way.

In New Mexico, a signed letter saying that a person was fired because of carrying an Obama tote bag is no protection without litigation. The Supreme Court has strongly expanded “employer free speech,” giving them the rights to pay millions and millions of dollars to elect a specific candidate. Employees need the same right.

In their goal of suppressing the votes for the poor, the elderly, and minorities, Republicans will undoubtedly oppose any such moves, but these are ways to move the country toward the concept of one person, one vote.

Update in Georgia: After Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp refused to process 51,000 voter registrations from the New Georgia Project, black lawmakers in the state are demanding answers about the status of these registrations. NGP has reportedly submitted about 85,000 applications to county election officials in the state. Kemp staffers said they would “move expeditiously” to process the registrations before the October 6 deadline. That’s ten days. The office, however, was unable to provide adequate details about how the process would be carried out, according to state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler. Kemp claimed that they had found several dozen suspicious applications after they sent letters to 159 counties in a concern for fraud.

The excuse for refusing to let people register or vote is always a concern that changing the rules so close to the election would cause voter confusion. This is the excuse from Alexander Peters, North Carolina’s senior deputy attorney general, who noted in arguments before the 4th Circuit Court yesterday that absentee ballots were mailed Sept. 5. Thanks to television ads from conservatives, voters in at least that state are already confused. So are voters in Wisconsin just increased voter suppression, thanks to a GOP three-judge panel.

North Carolina resident Rosanell Eaton, 93, remembers her registering to vote in 1939 when she turned 18. Three white officials told her that she had to recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution before she could vote. She did it perfectly. Seventy-five years later, she and many others are once again facing obstacles to voting because of white conservatives. As Wynn asked, “How come the state of North Carolina doesn’t want people to vote?” That’s a question that could be asked in the majority of states in the United States of America.

September 25, 2014

More Voter Discrimination

Exactly 50 years ago this summer, Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old anthropology major at Queens College, Mickey Schwerner, a 24-year-old graduate student in social work at Columbia University, and James Chaney, a 21-year-old volunteer with the Congress for Racial Equality, participated in Freedom Summer, urging Mississippi blacks to register to vote. In 1964, only 6.7 percent of blacks were registered in Mississippi; the county where they spoke had not one registered black person.

On June 21, 1964, the three were arrested, released, and then abducted by the Ku Klux Klan. Their bodies were found 44 days later in an earthen dam. The two white men had each been shot once; Cheney, who was black, had been mutilated beyond recognition. Only the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon Johnson signed on August 6, 1965, moved the country toward voting rights for eligible citizens. The law stopped literacy tests and poll taxes used to keep blacks from registering in the South and prevented future voter suppression methods. Now Mississippi has more black elected officials than any other state.

One year ago on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling that invalidated the requirement that states and regions have to “preclear” their voting changes with the federal government. Chief Justice John Roberts claimed that the data was outdated and cited the “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty” among states. He did concede that “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that” but that the country didn’t need the “extraordinary measures” of the VRA. Tuesday’s blog shows the need for these “extraordinary measures.”

The 22 states suppressing voting since the 2010 election are using “extraordinary measures” to ensure that only “certain people” could vote: strict photo IDs, elimination of early voting, harsher laws to register people to vote, rescinding voting rights for non-violent ex-felons, etc. Conservative discrimination against low-income people and minorities were obvious in the new laws. Eighteen of the 22 states have GOP legislatures or governors. Seven of the 11 states with the highest black turnout in 2008 have new restrictions. Nine of the 12 states with the biggest Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2010 have the same new restrictions. Nine of the 15 states previously covered by the Voting Rights Act, almost two-thirds, passed new voting restrictions.

Although most of these states are in the South, other states farther north joined them: Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Two of these have backed down, but Kansas and Wisconsin kept their oppressive anti-voting laws.

In her dissent to overruling the VRA section, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” People in Texas lost the umbrella protecting them from voter restrictions within two hours of the decision’s announcement. North Carolina waited only two months to pass the most stringent set of voting restrictions among all 50 states.

Local governments have also adopted strategies to cut out minorities. Augusta (GA) moved city council elections from November to July when black turnout is traditionally far lower. Pasadena (TX) approved an at-large system for electing council members to reduce the number of successful Hispanic candidates. Beaumont (TX) followed the same process for its school board. The federal government blocked the move, but Beaumont did an end run and succeeded in state court. Decatur (AL) has a new system to rid the city council of its one black member.

After the five conservatives of the Supreme Court eviscerated the VRA, it claimed that Congress could clean up their mess. With the GOP-caused gridlock, this will not happen now or, possibly, in the near future. Rep. Eric Cantor seemed amenable to listening to the voting problems after a trip to Mississippi with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who was beaten by state troopers during the civil rights movement, and David Goodman, who is the brother of the slain Andrew Goodman. Cantor said, “This voting issue is not a partisan issue.” He has not been re-elected.

[Thanks to Ari Berman for these thoughts and words.]

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, believes that there is no voting discrimination because current laws don’t allow this to happen. Goodlatte still thinks that Section 2 of the VRA, which remains after the Supreme Court ruling, is sufficient protection. It allows victims of racial discrimination in voting to file suit. Therefore, Goodlatte will not schedule a hearing on the issue.

A broad coalition of civil rights, labor, and progressive leaders launched the VRA for Today Coalition with a petition signed by more than 500,000 Americans who strongly support restoring the Voting Rights Act and protecting all voters from discrimination. Advocates who tried to deliver the names of the petition signers this month found that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had locked his office door during normal business hours.

The voiced argument for voting suppression in 34 states has always been a self-righteous claim that laws are necessary to stop voting fraud. Sworn congressional testimony by Loyola Law Prof. Justin Levitt in September 2011 cited only nine potential cases of in-person impersonation since 2000 out of 400 million votes cast during that time. A non-partisan news consortium in 2012 found one more case. Levitt updated his data recently and found 31 cases out of 1 billion ballots cast in the past 14 years. Some of these 31 cases have not been thoroughly investigated which means that they may be debunked through computer error or confusion of names. This is a fraud rate of 0.00002 percent. Impersonation results in a $10,000 fine and three years of imprisonment—for just one vote. It would also require the name of another person registered at a specific polling place who has not yet voted and does not know the person.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), presidential wannabe, has waffled about photo ID, but this week he again argued that the GOP is causing problems for minority voters. At the Liberty PAC conference, he said:

“So many times, Republicans are seen as this party of, ‘We don’t want black people to vote because they’re voting Democrat, we don’t want Hispanic people to vote because they’re voting Democrat. We wonder why the Republican Party is so small. Why don’t we be the party that’s for people voting, for voting rights?”

As a U.S. senator, Paul has sponsored no legislation to protect voters targeted by the GOP. In July he said that he wanted to bring back a federal role for the Voting Rights Act, but he has failed to sign on to a legislative proposal to do just that. He hasn’t even come up with an alternative.

Update to Kansas: Since my report two days ago about Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s insistence that the Democrats name a candidate for the U.S. Senate on the ballot, a Kansas Democrat, whose son is the regional field director for GOP Gov. Brownback’s re-election campaign, filed a lawsuit intended to force Democrats into selecting a new candidate for the highly contented U.S. Senate race. The Kansas Supreme Court sent the case to a lower court which must consider barriers to mandamus relief. It’s doubtful that the case will be settled there before ballots have been printed for Election Day on November 4. The Kansas Secretary of State polls show that Kris Kobach and his Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf are even in the race.

The residence of the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, incumbent Pat Roberts, is in question. He has signed a mortgage on a Virginia residence that declares Fairfax County as his “principal residence.” In Kansas he owns a duplex in Dodge City and registers to vote at the home of supporters and donors C. Duane and Phyllis Ross. He joked, “I have full access to the recliner.” For this privilege he pays $300 a month. He said in an interview, “Every time I get an opponent — I mean, every time I get a chance — I’m home.” (No, that’s not satire.)

 

September 23, 2014

Voter Discrimination on Voter Registration Day

Today, National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), is a time to encourage people to sign up for their civic rights to more the United States forward. Voting is a constitutional right for all people over 18 although some states prevent people convicted of crimes from voting. The practice of voting may be the most critical thing that people can do. The direction of the country will be decided in 42 days when millions of people decide who will make their laws. It should be noted that Republicans are changing NVRD devoted to registering voters with its project called Vote GOP.

Because voting can be so powerful, conservatives are trying to stop people from voting. A half century ago, hundreds of activists died when they tried to help blacks in the South gain their constitution rights. One way that whites kept blacks from voting throughout much of the 20th century was to make them pass tests in order to register to vote. Elisabeth Hasselbeck wants the tests back. On Fox & Friends, she proposed that all people would have to pass the same citizenship test for high school graduation that’s part of a Utah bill. In 2012, 60 percent of voters from ages 18 to 29 voted for President Obama, and only 36 percent voted for Mitt Romney.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) compared the danger of absentee voting to a “loaded gun” and bragged that how early voting has been cut in his state. He hopes to see early voting completely destroyed. He also said that “it’s a privilege to vote,” not having read his constitution that makes voting a “right.” In the future, Yoho hopes that only property owners will be able to vote. The average of a first-time home owner is 30-32, and young voters are a threat to the GOP.

Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the huge corporation-controlled far-right political organization ALEC, described the current GOP position back in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact [GOP] leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Conservative pundit George Will agrees with Weyrich.  After President Obama was re-elected two years ago, Will became very distressed that the president wants voter registration and voting to be easier. Will likes the fact that 60 million people eligible to vote in the United States were not registered at that time and believes that it would be oppressive to have them register. Then he cites the high turnout of voters in Nazi Germany to prove that a large number of voters for an election is a bad thing.

State Sen. Fran Millar, a GOP in Georgia, is highly incensed that early voting will be available at a mall in a predominantly black county. He said he wants “more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.” Clarifying his criticism, he said that his comments weren’t related to race but instead to “an effort to maximize Democratic votes pure and simple.”

Less than two months before Election Day 2014, a panel of GOP-nominated judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Wisconsin’s voter ID law challenged in court for several years. Scott Walker, the state’s governor, won by only 124,638 votes in 2010, and the investigation into his campaign fraud makes this an even closer race this year. With 300,000 eligible voters lacking the photo ID, the ACLU predicts “the state would have to process and issue 6,000 photo IDs every day between now and November 4” to provide IDs. Absentee voters are also disenfranchised because voters without an ID check have already submitted many ballots that might be thrown away. The state had only 2.1 million voters in 2010.

Not satisfied with the federal ruling, GOP legislative leaders have filed a lawsuit because Democrats are listed before Republicans on the newly designed ballot by a nonpartisan elections agency. That process follows state law: parties are listed according to the presidential or gubernatorial winner of the last general election. President Obama won. He’s a Democrat. Democrats are listed first. In 2012, Republicans were listed first on the ballot because GOP Scott Walker had more votes for governor. The lawsuit also says that putting Democrats first could violate the rights of millions of Wisconsin voters. The GOP has no concerns about voter ID laws which can disenfranchise a large number of voters because they think those who are disenfranchised would probably not vote Republican.

Kansas and Georgia also show the impact of GOP efforts to cut off access to voting. Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, said he had received complaints about voter applications from the New Georgia Project, an attempt to increase black voter turnout. The group reported that the GOP official had held up more than 50,000 voter registration forms for months.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas GOP Secretary of State, is behaving in an even more bizarre fashion. The Democratic candidate for Senate, Chad Taylor, decided to withdraw from the election because it would give the independent candidate a better chance of being elected over GOP incumbent, Pat Roberts. Kobach refused to remove his name until the Kansas Supreme Court ordered him to do so. Then Kobach ordered the Democratic party to select another candidate and would “review the legal options if Democrats fail to comply.” He cannot legally force the Democrats to have a candidate.

Kobach said first that he would delay sending overseas ballots but then mailed 526 ballots to overseas voters with the disclaimer that new ballots will be printed if the court forces the Democratic party to name a replacement candidate. According to Kobach’s statement to voters, their votes may not count in the election, depending on how successful he is in helping the GOP candidate. (Kobach is a member of Roberts’ re-election campaign):

“You may vote using the ballot accompanying this letter as soon as you receive it, or you may wait to vote until you’ve received further notification from us. If a replacement ballot is sent to you, and you have already returned the ballot that accompanies this letter, only your replacement ballot will be counted.”

Kobach has also said that he might try to delay elections in Kansas by over a week, making November 12 the day in that state to vote for local, state, and federal offices on November 12.

GOP states, especially those with large black populations, are more likely to pass voter ID and other limits against access to voting. North Carolina combined voter ID with closing precincts near colleges and universities.

Whether a person can vote depends on where that person lives. In all, 15 states have stricter voting rules in a major election for the first time. Laws in six of these states are being challenged in court. Since 2010, 22 states, almost all of them in the South and the Midwest, have rolled out new restrictions. Of the 11 states with the highest black turnout rate in 2008, seven have new restrictions in place, and of the dozen states with the largest growth in Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010, nine passed laws making it harder to vote. Judges in Arkansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have overturned photo ID laws because of no proof from fraud. Other decisions have upheld stricter voting laws.

Photo ID laws have been approved in Tennessee, Kansas, and Arizona. Republican lawmakers in Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona have passed “proof of citizenship” laws. These are valid only for elections of state officials; voters at the polls can vote only for federal offices without their birth certificates—if they have photo ID. The Texas law goes to trial this month and North Carolina, next year.

A summary of voting restrictions in different states is available here.

voting restrictions

A 93-year-old man who has voted in every election since 2000 was turned away at the polls in Alabama this year. He’s one of nearly 11% of the U.S. population that lacks the mandated identification. They don’t have the advantage that Republicans like Asa Hutchinson do. When the candidate for Arkansas and fan of the new voter ID law, forgot his ID at the polls, he sent a staffer to get it. He found it only a “minor inconvenience.”

A major question is whether the GOP will lose its own constituency through restrictive ID laws. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, chair of the Republican Governors Association, railed against an effort to boost voter turnout in Illinois as an underhanded Democratic tactic, despite state Board of Elections being composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. Yet same-day registration increased Republican turnout in Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Republicans rely on older people, the ones who are most likely to not have identification such as drivers’ licenses. Former speaker of the Texas House, Jim Wright, is now 90, and he was prevented from voting because a lapsed ID. Married women are more likely to vote for Republicans than single women, yet their IDs are often questioned because they have changed their names. Happy VOTE GOP, Republicans.

September 22, 2014

Courts, Laws Protect Domestic Abusers

Jessica Arrendale, 33, was found dead in her bathroom after her partner beat her with a baseball  bat, kicked in the locked bathroom door, and then shot her with an assault rifle. She saved her six-month-old daughter, Cobie by putting her in the toilet and leaning over it. Antoine Davis, a Iraq veteran, had been suffering from depression, according to his ex-wife. After killing Arrendale, Davis went to his infant daughter’s bedroom and killed himself. His two daughters, ages 9 and 10, were in the house. Police waited 13 hours until storming the townhouse. The infant has a traumatic head injury but is alive after being cared for hypothermia.

The death of Arrendale will join the number of women killed with a gun by an intimate partner—6,410 between 2001 and 2012, more than the number of U.S. military members killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  The risk of a woman being the victim of homicide increases at least 500 percent when guns are present during the domestic violence crisis.

While people continue to be killed by guns either through intent or accident, the National Rifle Association has ramped up its attempt to put more money into the coffers of gun manufacturers. One of these efforts is hiring female gun enthusiasts as official NRA News commentators and the NRA Women’s TV Network, launched last year. Next month the NRA-hosted Women’s Leadership Forum Executive Summit will “celebrate the role of women as powerful leaders.”

One woman leader who NRA won’t celebrate is Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, attacked in the most recent issue of NRA’s America’s 1st Freedom. Conservative legal scholar and gun rights lobbyist Dave Kopel accuses Watts of being a front for a political group instead of a homemaker turned grassroots activist. Mother of five, Watts left her corporate PR executive position four years ago to be a consultant from her home. In 2010, she and her husband opened an art gallery. After Kopel’s denigration of Watts, he proceeds into the stale, false argument about how often good guys with guns stop the bad guys. But the major criticism is that “the willfully gullible media persist in portraying [Moms Demand Action] as an authentic social movement and Watts as a homemaker who just decided to do something about guns.”

Male NRA members support Kopel’s position. After the magazine posted an item on Facebook about Moms Demand Action “desperately bullying Kroger” over that company’s gun policy one commenter responded: “‘Moms Demand Action’ more like fat housewives that need to get a good dicking and get their ass back in the kitchen.” Another wrote, “Women are generally idiots.” Other responses: “Somebody needs to point out to these bitches that people who legally buy guns are not the ones going out and committing crimes”; and “They need to change their name to everyday nagging wives. That’s all they do. Seriously annoying.”

Desperate because they are not selling enough weapons for the gun manufacturers, the NRA has released two videos fantasizing young women as assault rifles. “Beauty Shots” shows NRA News commentator Colion Noir describing an attractive woman as she dresses in workout gear, swims, and stares seductively into the camera. Noir concludes, “She is Daniel Defense M4-A1.” The video was released three days after a college student killed seven people in Santa Barbara because of his rage at attractive young women. In a discussion of another video, Noir said, “The HK MR556 is that gun like that girl who’s unbelievably attractive, she has this presence about her that seems untouchable and she’s not apologetic about her beauty.” His female interviewer responded, “I like the comparison with the woman—the hot woman.”

The NRA sees women as an untapped source of gun buyers. Of the 70,000 people who attend its annual conferences, over 80 percent are men. As household gun ownership declines, male gun owners outnumber females by 3-1.

A common response from NRA supporters and people who refuse to believe in gun sense is that women should protect themselves with guns. Arrendale tried to protect herself with a baseball bat, but her killer took it away and beat her with it. Violence would most likely have happened if she had had a gun. There are many stories of men who purchase guns for wives and female partners before killing them with these weapons.

Equally—or perhaps more—tragic is the story of  Marissa Alexander, who fired one warning shot into the wall to ward off her abusive ex-husband as he threatened to attack her. The Florida woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Following George Zimmerman’s exoneration after he stalked and killed a black teenager, Alexander’s supporters were able to get her out of prison for a new trial. Now the prosecutor, the same person who gave such a weak case against Zimmerman’s defense, wants her in prison for 60 years. Florida has a new “Stand Your Ground” law that legalizes warning shots without first attempting to retreat. Yet Duval County Circuit Court Judge James Daniel has denied Alexander a hearing seeking immunity from prosecution.

No one knows how many other women are in prison because they defended themselves against abusers: no agency, including prison and court systems, keeps track of this statistic. A California prison study found that 93 percent of women who killed their significant others had been abused by them. In New York, it’s 67 percent.

Victoria Law reports that every domestic violence survivor in prison for defending herself had repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, sought help. One woman said that the police drove by and ignored the violence while her boyfriend beat her on the street. The only time that they arrested the boyfriend was for illegal drug paraphernalia—an overnight offense. Another woman said that every time she called the police that they would talk to the boyfriend and then allow him to return to abusing her. The abuser of a third woman was a police officer which left her nowhere to go for protection.

Law wrote:

“In Sin by Silence, a documentary about survivors incarcerated for defending themselves, sociologist Dr. Elizabeth Leonard explained that a battered woman is 75 percent more at risk of being killed after she leaves. She stays at that increased risk for the next two years. Feeling as if he’s losing control, batterers generally increase their level of violence. ‘Leaving does not stop the violence,’ states Dr. Leonard, in the film.”

Every women dealing with abuse knows that the choice is his life or hers. The difference between men and women is that men are exonerated and women are imprisoned.

Last month U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller was arrested for misdemeanor battery after his wife called 911 during his attack on her. He agreed to a 24-week domestic violence intervention program with no time behind bars and stays on the bench with his record expunged. Federal judges are confirmed by the Senate to lifetime terms, though the chamber can also remove them from office. Fuller, a George W. Bush appointee, was confirmed in 2002 with the support of GOP Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.

Fuller issued this statement:

“This incident has been very embarrassing to me, my family, friends and the court,” Judge Fuller said in a statement. “I deeply regret this incident and look forward to working to resolve these difficulties with my family, where they should be resolved.”

At this time, Shelby and Sessions both want Fuller to leave the bench, but they have not called for impeachment. Law enforcement and courts continue to protect men and incarcerate women. Marissa Alexander is still in prison for defending herself, as are thousands of other women. Jessica Arrendale is dead because of domestic violence, like thousands of other women. And the United States allows uncontrolled purchase and ownership of guns used for killing innocent people.

September 21, 2014

Conservatives Continue To Fight Freedom of Religion

Air Force enlistees and commissioned members will no longer be forced to swear “So help me God” in their oath, after a review of the policy by the Department of Defense, possibly because someone read the Constitution:

“No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The revised policy has greatly disappointed religious right members. Bryan Fischer had already praised the oath that included his God, stating that “a man who doesn’t believe in the Creator … most certainly should not wear the uniform.” In this manner, Fischer dismisses the value of soldiers such as Pat Tillman, an open atheist who lost his life after he left his professional football career to fight al-Qaeda.

Televangelist Pat Robertson claims that it’s “crazy” to remove the requirement. He blames “a left-wing radical named Mikey Weinstein who has got a group about people against religion or whatever he calls it, and he has just terrorized the armed forces.” Robertson went on to describe Weinstein as “one little Jewish radical.” Weinstein is the President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Robertson has also added to the blessings of Jesus on the poor and hungry in his Sermon on the Mount. The televangelist added, “Blessed are the fully armed because theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

There’s more information about the 14-year-old boy who could go to prison for two years because he posted a photograph of himself simulating oral sex on a statue of Jesus. DA Bill Higgins of Bedford County (PA) called him a “troubled young man” and used a law from 1972 for punishment higher than simple vandalism. “Troubled” might also refer to Higgins: he admitted to having an extramarital affair in his office with a woman who sued him for sexual harassment but was then “convinced” to drop the charges. In addition, he seems to be fan of pornography. The ACLU is looking into the boy’s case.

The Mars Hill (Seattle) is megachurch no longer led by Mark Driscoll; he’s taking a leave of absence after it was revealed that he considers men to be God’s “tool” and women the shelter for the “tool.” In 2001, under the name William Wallace II, Driscoll wrote:

“Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

“Therefore, if you are single you must remember that your penis is homeless and needs a home. But, though you may believe your hand is shaped like a home, it is not… And, if you look at a man it is quite obvious that what a homeless man does not need is another man without a home.”

More recently Driscoll said that women need to serve their husbands with oral sex, he would not have married his wife if he knew she was a victim of sexual abuse, and masturbation is homosexuality unless the man’s wife is watching him. He also accused a parishioner of having “sexual demons” and asked her, in front of her husband, “which one of my husband’s friends I had imagined sleeping with.” Forty percent of the Mars Hill staff has been laid off, and the executive elder has resigned.

Continuing its support for separation of church and state, the Satanic Temple announced its plans to provide its own materials to public school students in Orange County (FL). The action would be a response to a Christian group’s distribution of Bibles to students. In its decision for evangelical groups showing Christian films on school property in Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District (1993), the Supreme Court ruled that  “the First Amendment forbids the government to regulate speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others.” Unlike many Christians, the Satanic Temple does not believe the devil to be real and “advocates for religious tolerance and pluralism.”

raelian symbolEarlier an atheist group sued the school district’s refusal to leave its pamphlets after the distribution of Bibles. The district dropped the case, allowing the pamphlets in the school.  Joining the Satanic Temple are the Raelians, a UFO cult that claimed in 2002 that they had cloned a human baby. As Rael said, “Religious freedom is either for everybody or it doesn’t exist,” Rael declared in his statement. Raelian Guide Ricky Roehr, head of the group’s North American branch, said, “Children should … be exposed to a variety of spiritual beliefs and philosophies, and to experience them as well if they wish. That way, they can make their own choice when they reach adulthood, without the pressure of their parents or their social environment.”

The bombs spread across the country from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in support of Hobby Lobby’s religion have started to explode.  U.S. District Court Judge David Sam ruled that because of Vergel Steed’s religious belief, the member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) can avoid naming church leaders who took children out of school and sent them to harvest pecans in violation of child labor laws. Government officials have also been investigating FLDS for several years because of their forced marriage between underage girls and adults males. Warren Jeff, FLDS’ former president, is in prison for life because of several sex crimes including incest and pedophilia.

Meanwhile Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green is moving forward with his $800 million, eight-story Bible museum in Washington, D.C. His only concern is that he wants it closer than two blocks from the National Mall. To a retailer, location is all.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has defined faith as “belief without proof.” Bryan Fischer now has the proof (scientific evidence?) that the United States is meant to be a theocracy and not a secular country. In one word, bacon. He told his radio audience:

“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation? One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.”

In his follow-up article, “The Blessings of Bacon,” he complains about attacks from the God-hating left and libertarian right. No mention of the idea that a secular society would also sell bacon. That’s because selling bacon is in the Bible: Mark 7:19 says of Jesus, “Thus he declared all foods clean.” Leviticus 18 bans bacon, which bothers Fischer not one whit although he uses Leviticus to blast his hatred against same-sex relationships.

According to Fischer’s rationale, China must be a very Christian nation. Each person in that country eats 39 kilograms of pork a year, about 45 percent more than people do in the United States. Actually, fewer than 4 percent of people in China are Christians. Of those believing in religion, about 12 percent are Christians whereas 66.1 percent are Buddhists, Taoists or worshippers of legendary figures such as the Dragon King and God of Fortune. Fischer is the Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association which annually receives $20 million in donations.

Fischer has other pronouncements. Although scientists have support for the threat of a sea-level rise, he denies any problem. Climate change is causing the rise of temperatures which are melting ice caps and glaciers at a rapidly growing rate. Increase in water from decrease in ice causes higher sea levels that are putting thousands of miles of coastline underwater. Rainbows remind God to not flood the planet, according to Fischer, because he read it in Genesis 9. God might not flood the planet, but humans are certainly doing this. By the way, rainbows are both a reflection and refraction of light in water droplets. That’s science, not faith.

The Catholic church is expressing an ambivalent attitude toward same-sex marriage. It refuses to recognize marriage equality, but it demands that a gay couple, together for over 30 years and legally married in Washington state, must be legally divorced before they can receive communion. Rev. Samuel Spiering served four days as administrator of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown (MT) four days before he issued his directive to the couple. The next day he dismissed them from their volunteer posts in the church.Two weeks later, the couple agreed to write a restoration statement supporting the church’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, but they refuse to get a legal divorce. About 50 percent of the parishioners support the gay couple.

Christians should celebrate the actions of 13-year-old Kyle Bradford (Weaverville, CA) who gave his lunch to a friend assigned to the cheese sandwich for “non-paying” children. “It seemed like he couldn’t get a normal lunch so I just wanted to give mine to him because I wasn’t really that hungry and it was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it,” Bradford said.  Kyle got detention. And we wonder why we have problems in the United States.

September 20, 2014

Wanted: Strategy for Peace, Not War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
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The International Day of Peace is commemorated each year on the 21st of September. Before Congress left for home two days ago, members passed an amendment to arm Syrian “moderates” for more war. Where the United States goes from there is not yet known because Congress doesn’t meet for very long and makes very few decisions when it does.

The media has fueled the fear of ISIL in the U.S., and the constant showing videos of two beheadings has created a frenzy among people in the U.S. United States intelligence agencies concluded that it provides no threat to this country. Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a “farce” and that the lurid descriptions of the threat are “unjustified.”

Former Senate Intelligence Chair, former Sen. Bob Graham, believes the rise of ISIL was helped by the U.S. failure to investigate Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11/01 attacks. When air traffic was blocked after 9/11, 144 people, mostly from Saudi aristocracy, were allowed to fly back to Saudi Arabia without any questioning. Graham noted that U.S. officials “were inexplicably solicitous to Saudis.” U.S. officials in Saudi Arabia found people to be obstructive to any investigative attempts, and the pattern continued for a decade. In 2007, Stuart Levey, the Under Secretary of the US Treasury in charge of monitoring and impeding the financing of terrorism, said, “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia.” At that time, no one identified by the U.S. or the U.N. as funding terrorism had been prosecuted by the Saudis.

Other concerns, according to the co-chairman of the official inquiry into these attacks, are the continued Saudi support of jihadi movements such as al-Quaeda. In 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Throughout George W. Bush’s “war on terror,” Saudis funded al-Qaeda, ISIL, Hamas, and the Taliban. The Saudi monarchy has long had an alliance with the Wahhabi clergy, who support an intolerant Islam belief that denounces Shia as heretics and treats women as possessions.

The current plan calls for a special training facility for “moderate” Syrian opposition in Saudi Arabia, which gives priority to regime changes in Damascus. Each U.S. military intervention in Iraq only makes the country more unstable. After U.S. involvement, Syria and Libya are failed states.

A century ago, Britain and France divided Middle East countries between the two countries to loot its resources and maintained power by defeating any move toward independence, smothering Arab nationalism. The French put Christians in charge of Lebanon to control the Sunnis and Shiites and the minority Shiites in charge of the majority Sunnis in Syria. Britain set up a Sunni king in Iraq to rule the majority Shiites and used Zionism in Palestine to keep the country divided.

The U.S. and Europe continue to keep the status quo.  As President Obama said, “We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world.” Roughly translated, the U.S. goal is to keep making money off the oil.

Bin Laden said he goaded the U.S. into war to “bleed America to the point of bankruptcy.” George W. Bush paid between $3 trillion and $4 trillion for his two wars in the Middle East, and, with the help of Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), ISIL is following the same pattern. The Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, found support from these two legislators to move toward taking over Damascus. To topple the Syrian president Bashar Assad, Saudi King Abdulla appointed Prince Bandar bin Sultan who successfully woos McCain.  Bandar was involved in illegal sale of U.S. weapons to Iran during Ronald Reagan’s administration and was clear about his goal to use Sunnis in committing genocide on all Shiites in 2001. In 2008, he threatened a terrorist attack in London if Britain did not stop their investigation into Saudi arms deals. Although Bandar resigned as head of Saudi General Intelligence, he remains Secretary General of Saudi National Security Council.

james o.keefeJames O’Keefe, master of editing videos to prove that liberals are evil, also fueled McCain’s arguments by dressing like Osama bin Laden and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In a Senate hearing, McCain use the stunt in claiming that the border isn’t safe. Top Homeland Security official, Francis Taylor, said that border officials saw O’Keefe and the people filming him, but The Drudge Report (one of Mitt Romney’s “news” resources) printed as its top headine “ISIS at the border?” Fox told its elderly white viewers “D.H.S. Confirms ISIS Planning Infiltration of U.S. Southern Border” although its headline on the Fox Latino network read “ISIS Terrorists Not Sneaking Over U.S. Southern Border With Mexico, D.H.S. Officials Tell Congress.”

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) criticized President Obama’s playing golf and said that ISIL may partner with Iran to receive nuclear weapons and cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Playing golf doesn’t “degrade” national security, Iran and ISIL are enemies, and Iran has no nuclear weapons. Yet Franks is still convinced that ISIL is operating in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico) across the border from El Paso (TX). Franks is a member of the Armed Services Committee.  Senatorial candidates on the campaign trail in Alaska, Arkansas, New Hampshire, and North Carolina are using this issue to instill more fear in their constituents. Republicans believe that the ISIL controversy will win them this fall’s election.

Retired generals demanding aggression against ISIL are making money from war. General Jack Keene wants 25,000 “boots on the ground.” His think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), includes such neoconservatives as Liz Cheney and William Kristol among its leaders. He has long called for air strikes and then moved up to calling for special operation forces. Among his other credentials, left unmentioned, are special adviser to Academi (formerly Blackwater); board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics, which paid him $258,006 just last year; and “venture partner” to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an “operations management decision support system” company used in Air Force drone training.

General James Mattis also wants the U.S. in Iraq; his role on General Dynamics paid $88,479 cash and stock options last year. General Anthony Zinni, who wants at least 10,000 troops, is a board member to BAE Systems’ US subsidiary and also works for several military-focused private equity firms. Frances Townsend has positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group, as well as acting as advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences.”

The U.S. has actually been training and arming Syrian rebels in Turkey and Jordan during the past six years. Keane’s ISW, which made money out of the venture, promised that this action will create stability. Many of the groups that were part of the Free Syria Army—and who we trained—have now joined ISIL with their CIA-backed training and equipment.

The United States caused the Middle East to implode by removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq with no contingency plan. The loss of his power led to the rise of fundamentalist movements that resulted in the Isis Caliphate and the exploitation of Syria’s populist uprising. Without U.S.-provided training, weapons, and funding, ISIL would never progressed into starting war throughout the Middle East and leading to serious global issues.

The plan to arm more so-called moderates that can then take their weapons to ISIL is reminiscent of the protest sign during the Bush years: “We’re making enemies faster than we can kill them.”

We need to listen to Aristotle’s advice: “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.” We have never had a strategy for winning the war that George W. Bush created at the beginning of his first term and then nurtured during his eight years in Washington. The U.S. needs a strategy for peace, not war.

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