Nel's New Day

November 22, 2015

‘Religious Freedom,’ Safety from GOP Point of View

Seven GOP presidential candidates gathered last week at the “presidential family forum,” hosted in Iowa by the far-right fundamentalist Christian group called The Family Leader.

Republican presidential candidates, from left, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, moderator Frank Luntz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum stand on stage during the Presidential Family Forum, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

From left: Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, moderator Frank Luntz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

When seven contenders were asked who they would first call after hearing about a terrorist attack, Fiorina and Huckabee said they’d fall to their knees and pray. Messages from GOP presidential candidates, including these seven, don’t fit the positions that Jesus espoused.

Donald Trump’s first wanted to put surveillance on mosques but moved on to agreeing that Muslims should be forced to wear identifying marks because of their Islam religion. He’s disagreed that he said this, but there’s video of the interview. This morning he doubled down on his call to keep Syrians out of the United States and added that he would torture Syrian refugees.

Marco Rubio goes beyond Trump: “it’s about closing down any place—whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site—any place where radicals are being inspired.” He said on the Fox network this morning that the attacks on Paris were a “positive development.”

John Kasich, sometimes considered a more reasonable GOP presidential candidate, wants a new government agency to push Judeo-Christian values throughout the world—specifically in China, Iran, Russia, and the Middle East. He said:

“I will consolidate [U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting] into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share.”

Questions about his approach:

  • Will he use public money for this endeavor, contrary to the constitution’s First Amendment?
  • Why is Iran not included in the Middle East?
  • Does he want to get rid of all other religions in China with Muslims only 1.7 percent of its population?

A day later, public opinion “softened” his approach to assigning Voice of America to spread his “Judeo-Christian Western values.” Kasich tried to walk back his Christian-only views on this morning’s Meet the Press by saying that the “Western ethic” is “about life … about equality of women … about the freedom of religion.” First, these are not necessarily the ethics of the U.S.; and second,  he assumes that only the Judeo-Christian world has these values.” When he says “they don’t want to negotiate,” he could be referring to the U.S. Congress instead of Muslims.

Ben Carson joined Trump this morning in calling for torturing Syrian refugees. Carson’s advisor, retired US Army Maj. Gen. Robert Dees, also promotes the creation of a Christian active duty military that will “indoctrinate” the people in the United States. In a 2007 video, Dees said:

“We’re in twenty different countries around the world, recognizing that if you could possibly impact the military, you can possibly impact that whole nation for Jesus Christ and for democracy and for proper morality and values-based institutions.”

After Carson compared Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs,” he called on a gigantic database on everyone in the U.S. According to Carson, Syrian refugees should be left where they are because of his human brain’s “big frontal lobes, as opposed to other animals, because we can engage in rational thought processing.” Still looking for an answer to the problem, he explained that his brain allowed him to “extract information from the past, present, process it, and project it into a plan” while “animals, on the other hand, have big brain stems and rudimentary things because they react.”

Carson’s answer to the Israel/Palestine problem is to leave the Israelis where they are in Palestinian territory and “just slip [the Palestinian territory] into Egypt.” Chris Matthews broke up reading the quote on MSNBC’s Hardball, and Trevor Noah used the clip for part of his takedown of the hapless candidate. While Trump keeps approximately one-third of the GOP support in various polls, Carson has slipped to third in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Mike Huckabee uses food analogies in comparing refugees to “tainted milk,” Chipotle’s problem with E.coli, huge bags of peanuts with ten poisoned ones, etc. He also can’t imagine anyone other than extremist Muslims targeting innocent civilians. Yet in the decade after the 9/11 attacks, Christian terrorists have averaged 337 attacks in the U.S. per year, killing at least 254 people. The death toll increased after the release of the study in 2012. During the same time, an average of nine U.S. Muslims were involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots in the U.S. The 20 plots carried out in fewer than 14 years had 50 fatalities.

A few extremist Christian terrorist actions in the U.S.:

The Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church Shooting: On July 27, 2008, devout Christian Jim David Adkisson killed two children and wounded seven other.

Christian Terrorism against Doctors Who Perform Abortions:  Dr. Richard Gunn was killed in 1993, Drs. John Britton and James Barrett were killed in 1994, Dr. Barnett Sleipan was killed in a home in 1998, Dr. George Tiller was shot dead in his church in 2009, and many other doctors were wounded by Christian terrorists in the U.S. because of religious beliefs–17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, 13 wounded, 100 butyric acid attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers since 1977. All these were by extremist Christian terrorists on U.S. soil.

The 1995 Oklahoma City Bombings: Member of the Seventh-Day Adventist splinter group Branch Davidians, Timothy McVeigh, killed 168 people when he detonated a fertilizer bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Another 648 were wounded.

Ku Klux Klan: For the past 150 years, the terrorist extremist Christian groups has terrorized people in the name of Protestantism and racism against blacks, Jews, immigrants, LGBTs, and Catholics. Only two weeks ago, Frazier Glenn Cross, the leader of the Carolina Knights of the KKK, was sentenced to death by lethal injection for murdering a 14-year-old girl and two seniors outside the Overland Park Jewish Community Center in Kansas City. He said, “Jews are destroying the white race” but didn’t realize until afterwards that none of his victims was Jewish.

The Massacre at Zion Emmanuel AME Church (Charleston, SC): An extremist Christian white man killed nine black worshippers.

Ted Cruz is willing to take in Syrian refugees as long as they are proved to be Christians. Without the refugee program, the United States would not have Cruz because his father, Rafael Cruz, was granted asylum in the U.S., but the elder Cruz wants radical Christianity imposed on the entire United States while eliminating atheists and LGBT people. Cruz  also asked for more “tolerance for civilian casualties” in President Obama’s airstrikes (aka let’s kill more innocent people) and joined Huckabee in ignorance about extremist Christian killings in the United States.

Jeb Bush, like Cruz, can’t find any Christian terrorists but couldn’t find words when he was asked how to prove that the refugees are Christians. He finally said, “You know, you err on the side of caution.”

Rand Paul introduced a bill to stop refugees from 34 “high-risk” countries and an amendment to a housing and transportation funding bill barring federally-funded social welfare assistance for any refugees from those same “high-risk” nations. Libertarian policy experts oppose discrimination against people from specific countries. Paul’s office calls it a “careful balance of libertarian principles,” meaning that any non-libertarian view is a “balance.”

Rick Santorum opposes bringing Syrian refugees to the United States. Instead, he wants them put into resettlement camps somewhere in the Middle East. Trump made the same suggestion.

Carly Fiorina just keeps doing what she does best—lying. “The vast majority of these refugees are young, able-bodied men looking for work,” she said, perhaps hoping that the media wouldn’t pick up on her false statement. According to a UN database of 4 million registered Syrian refugees, most of them are children under 18. Geoffrey Mock, a Syrian country specialist for Amnesty International USA, said, “The priorities go to torture survivors, people with serious medical conditions, children and teens on their own, and women and children at risk.” Of the 10,000 refugees who President Obama proposes to bring to the U.S., only 22 percent are “young able-bodied men”—2,200.

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s almost-gone governor and the latest GOP presidential candidate dropout, told Fox that his state will ban Syrian refugees and that he’s “ordered the state police to track the ones that are already in Louisiana.” Doug Cain, spokesman for the state police, said that this statement isn’t true. He added, “We are just keeping an open line of communication with federal authorities to make sure everyone is safely settled.”

At the close of the religious gathering in Iowa, Cruz made a prophetic statement:

“If conservatives come together and stand as one, it’s game over.”

Cruz was correct in a very twisted way: the United States may be entering a darker period than even during George W. Bush’s reign—unlimited torture, surveillance by profiling, banning refugees, religious discrimination and forced Christianity, concentration camps, and World War III.

November 21, 2015

Christians Discriminate against Muslims in U.S.

 

Firefighter. let it burnThree Muslim-American students were murdered in Chapel Hill last February. Christian white people in the U.S. wanted to call this hate crime a matter of a parking dispute, but the three young people were lined up on the ground, kneeling, and shot in the back of their heads execution style. It was a Christian terror attack. A few days later, the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, storing religious books, was completely destroyed by fire last February because of arson. Dustin Herron, a retired Houston-area firefighter who volunteered at the time for Crystal Beach Fire & Rescue posted the following:

“Let it burn … block the fire hydrant.”

That summarizes the conservative response since the attacks in Paris.

Indiana’s governor Mike Pence, who might have run for president if his state hadn’t tried to pass an anti-LGBT “religious liberty” law, told two Syrian refugee families that they cannot come to his state. He also told two religious charities, Exodus Refugee Immigration and Catholic Charities, that no other families will be allowed in Indiana. One of the families waited for three years in Jordan before the vetting process was completed.

In Rhode Island, state senator Elaine Morgan suggested segregated camps for Syrians after calling on state governments to refuse any Syrian refugees in the country. She thinks refugees are part of a plan “to spread out their people to attack all non Muslim persons.” One U.S. human rights abuse was the internment of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, some of the U.S. citizens, in abusive camps during World War II.

According to the annual Hate Crimes Statistics Report, the number of the hate crimes in 2014 decreased for every minority group except Muslims. The increase of 14 percent against Muslims may be under-reported because they tend not to report these crimes. The rise of these crimes against Muslims parallels the increase in the number of hate groups formed in the U.S., most of them based on conspiracy-based and virulent anti-government leanings. Christian attacks have moved from LGBT people to Muslims.

Following the tragedy of hate in Paris last week, Christian people in the U.S. immediately responded—with more irrational hate. Gunshots at mosques and private homes, threatening phone messages, hate graffiti, Islamophobic statements at community meetings—these are only a few of the occurrences during the past week. The Islamic Center of Pflugerville (TX) was vandalized with feces and torn pages of the Quran.

In contrast to the bigoted reaction from conservatives, seven-year-old Jack Swanson took his piggy bank to the Pflugerville mosque and gave them all the contents of $20.

The day before the killings in Paris, ISIS killed 45 people and injured another 200, some of them critically, in Beirut (Lebanon). The death toll would have been much higher if a man had not thrown himself on a bomb to save his son. A terrorist group left 147 people dead and 79 injured at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya last April, a tragedy that barely grazed the U.S. news media. A terrorist bomb on an airplane between Russia and Egypt killed 224 people. Only the attacks in Paris affected people in the U.S.

The U.S. concern primarily for people in France and not those on other continents might come from experiencing human empathy for only victims similar to themselves. Studies show that individuals focus more on their “ingroup,” creating an “empathy gap” among victims in attacks. The media obsessed with the attacks in Paris but gave little attention to other attacks.

Some people in the United States see every one of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as connected to the Paris attacks. These facts might give a different perspective:

  • Worldwide the 1.6 billion Muslims are expected to increase by 35 percent by the year 2030.
  • By 2050 the number of Muslims in the world will match the number of Christians.
  • Only 20 percent of Muslims live in the Middle East.
  • The majority of people who follow the Islamic religion, more than 60 percent, live in the Asian-Pacific region.
  • Muslims have lived in China for more than 1400 years.
  • Less than 15 percent of the world’s Muslim population is Arab.
  • Two-thirds of the U.S. Arab population is Christian, not Muslim.
  • The most common name in the world is Muhammad.
  • All Muslim women do not wear hijabs.
  • The percentage of women in government in Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, is higher than in the United States.
  • The youngest female president in the world, Atifete Jahjaga, the president of Kosovo, is a Muslim woman.
  • Muslims give twice as much to charity as Christians.
  • When Columbus came to America, he may carried a book written by Portuguese Muslims who had navigated their way to the New World centuries before him.
  • Muslims may have settled in America before the Europeans did.
  • The first wave of Muslims to the U.S. was African slaves; at least 25 percent of the slaves violently kidnapped from their homes and families by white men were Muslim.
  • About six million Muslim live in the United States; about one-third are black.
  • Muslims range from highly orthodox to moderate to secular with many different interpretations of their religion.

The United States is not and never has been a Christian nation. On June 10, 1797 the United States signed a compact of friendship with the Muslim population living along the Barbary Coast. The Treaty of Tripoli was commissioned by President George Washington. It was unanimously approved by the United States Congress. It was signed by the country’s second President, John Adams. Of special importance is Article 11, which reads:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

How far will GOP politicians go in using the Paris attacks? Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) blamed the current distrust of Syrian refugees on President Obama’s handling of the 2011 terrorist attack in Benghazi. Yes, Benghazi. Again. Buck believes that the White House covered up some imaginary scandal, leading to U.S. distrust and making the Benghazi tragedy responsible for hostility toward refugees from a different country. (An aside about the recent 11-hour Benghazi hearing: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) said that Hillary Clinton laid “a trap” for the committee by making her appearance go “as long as possible.”

States_that_have_surrendered_to_ISIS

The above map shows which states have embarrassed the people of the United States by surrendering to ISIS. All the “red states” have GOP governors except New Hampshire. Since the map was published on November 16, 2015, Oregon has joined the green section.

What problems have we had from refugees in the U.S.? Since 9/22, 750,000 people have come into the U.S. as refugees. The following chart shows the number of refugees arrested on domestic terrorism:

refugees arrested

That’s right: zero.

The people happiest about conservatives’ rejection of Syrian refugees are members of ISIS. They hoped for this reaction, and they got it. ISIS isn’t a country: it’s an idea. Propaganda spreads this idea, and ISIS has succeeded. The more conservatives spew their hatred, the more ISIS can persuade people that peace is impossible. Rejected by the U.S., people are sent into the arms of ISIS.

November 18, 2015

Ryan Abandons Promises, Moves Bill against Syrian Refugees

Filed under: Immigration — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
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ryan

How long does it take for the new House Speaker to break his promises? It depends on how long Congress is in recess. In this case, Paul Ryan (R-WI) started his job by leading a fairly quiet session for the first week of November. Dana Milbank wrote, “It was nice while it lasted.” I’m now at the place where I appreciate recesses because the GOP seems to cause less damage when they wandering around trying to look important rather than making stupid decisions.

While campaigning for the job that Ryan said he didn’t want, Ryan promised “regular order”: the House of Representatives would operate by deliberation rather than fiat, and the House members could amend and shape legislation. Ryan said, “The committees should retake the lead in drafting all major legislation…. When we rush to pass bills, a lot of us do not understand we are not doing our job.”

After a week off, the members returned day before yesterday. Last night Ryan put a “rush job” onto a bill to keep Syrian refugees out of the United States.   At 10:15 pm, House leaders presented a brand new piece of legislation, written during the day, to rewrite mandates for the U.S. refugees from Syria and Iraq. No hearings, no expert testimony, no consultation with any agencies, no committee action, no amendments, nothing. The vote is planned for tomorrow.

In his first address as speaker, Ryan said:

“The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. … We are supposed to study up and do the homework that [the people] cannot do. So when we do not follow regular order—when we rush to pass bills a lot of us do not understand– we are not doing our job. Only a fully functioning House can truly represent the people.”

H.R. 4038, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act” (SAFE Act because the GOP loves to give things the opposite name of what they mean) may make people feel “safe” because of new vetting requirements. Yet current rules demand an 18-to-24 month rigorous examination of refugees to certify that they are not security threats. Is the new one better? No one knows because there have been no hearings. The new bureaucracy of the proposed SAFE Act , however, shuts down the refugee program for years. This from the party that hates federal intervention.

President Obama has promised to veto the bill, which would first need to survive the Senate, so the GOP “emergency” is simply to get push more Republicans into getting elected in 2016. Ryan refused to allow a vote on an alternative Syrian refugee bill.

Today House and Senate negotiators gathered together to somewhat harmoniously blend their versions of a transportation bill. The bill had cleared the House by a large majority during Ryan’s first week when he permitted over 100 amendments. Actually compromising on bills with amendments and hard work is exhausting, which may be why Ryan made the Syrian refugee bill the 45th “closed rule” of the year, establishing a record for the number of bills on the House floor without the possibility of amendment.

Ryan is following the leadership style of former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who resigned as of Halloween. Boehner’s promises of “regular order” also began with allowing over 100 amendments on a bill before he broke this promise of “openness.” Ryan made promises to get his job—such as refusing to work with the president on immigration reform—but his only vision was what he wouldn’t do. On Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Ryan what the one thing he could accomplish in six months. Ryan detoured the question by talking about working families falling behind and the disaster of “Obamacare.”

One thing Ryan did accomplish: he gets to go home every weekend to be with his family instead of doing the Speaker’s job of fundraising and campaigning for GOP congressional candidates. Family values are important to Ryan unless they include paid child care, sick leave, and maternity/paternity care for people in the United States, one of just three countries–out of 185—without guaranteed paid maternity leave. Amanda Marcotte wrote that Ryan “sees a family life as a privilege for the elite, instead of a right for all.” Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, who expressed herself as a feminist in her book Lean In, praised Ryan for his desire to parent. Only the wealthy deserve such advantages as family time, according to the powerful.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., arrives at a news conference following a House Republican meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Ryan told GOP lawmakers that he will run for speaker, but only if they embrace him by week's end as their consensus candidate, an ambitious bid to impose unity on a disordered and divided House. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Not every GOP House member was pleased with Ryan’s demands. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) compared Ryan to a maid applying for a job who says “I don’t clean windows, I don’t do floors, I don’t do beds, these are the hours I’ll work.”  For many years, the Speaker was a prestigious job; now it’s comparable to being a “maid.”

Before the faux crisis of the Syrian refugees, the House had passed another partial repeal of The Affordable Care Act, but the Senate has had to shelve it because he may not be able to get even 51 necessary signatures. Of the 54 GOP Senators, three of them may refuse to vote against it because the House bill defunds Planned Parenthood, and other object because it doesn’t repeal the entire law. Even the House members who voted in favor of the bill are having buyers’ remorse because it repeals only six of the 419 provisions—1.4 percent of the law.

Next year, Congress will have less time to mess up: they’ve assigned themselves a two-day work week with only 111 days in session. That’s over $1,500 a day for all those GOP legislators who think that $15 an hour is too much for hard work. The GOP must become the “proposition” party; it’s not enough to be an opposition party, said the new speaker. He’s found his vision and “proposition” in trying to keep all desperate Syrian refugees out of the United States. And he may get the bill passed in two days, leaving him another 109 days to save the United States.

Ryan called the attacks in Paris “an act of war” and said that the annual National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday requires the president to have a plan to defeat ISIS. The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to authorize the president to engage in war, something that this Congress has avoided for over a year. If the House can put together a bill to stop Syrian refugees from coming into the country in less than a week, they have time to work on a plan of “war.”

In the past, the Speaker of the House of Representatives sometimes served all the people in the United States, not the GOP. It’s time to return to that practice. Ryan is right: the House is broken. And with Ryan at the helm, it’s still broken.

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