Saturday, July 12, 2008

Conservatives lie about Obama statement

Barack Obama speaks the truth. Republican conservatives speak with forked tongue.

Obama was asked a question about education. In his reply he said he didn't understand people who insist on "English only."

He went on to explain that "immigrants should learn English. But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English - they'll learn English - you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language."

Obama further said that schools should emphasize foreign language study.

There is absolutely nothing controversial in any of that. In fact, our schools have stressed the study of foreign languages. I was required to study a foreign language when in Junior High School a number of years ago. Many, if not most, high schools require two years of foreign language study in order to be eligible for a diploma, and the same is true for our colleges and universities.

Obama was attacked for his statements by right wing radio talk shows and conservative bloggers. But in many cases he was not quoted correctly. For example, the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC took aim by claiming that "Barack Obama has stepped on a political land mine by stating that Americans should be forced to learn Spanish."

That is not what Obama said, of course. But for the conservatives, truth doesn't matter. Why have a rational discourse about an important issue when you can try to damage your opponent with false accusations?

Obama responded forcefully reiterating his statement that immigrants need to learn English and the rest of us should learn a foreign language. "We should want our children with more knowledge. We should want our children to have more skills. That's a good thing. I know, because I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing. ...

"It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English. They speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is 'merci beaucoup!'"

Obama is absolutely right on! Those who attacked him are typical of the "swift boater" types who will do or say almost anything to discredit their perceived enemies. It would be nice if we could shame them into silence, but they are beyond shame.

No more clean air for you!

The United States is looking more and more like Alice-in-Wonderland land!

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled yesterday that the utility industry was right -- the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped its bounds with its Clean Air Interstate Rule in 2005.

Shortly thereafter, the EPA administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said the EPA had no authority to regulate greenhouse gases under existing law. According to the AP, Johnson's statement "reinforced a message that the Bush administration has been sending for months: that it does not intend to impose mandatory controls on the emissions that cause climate change."

Johnson, in spite of his comment, is appalled, and "extremely disappointed" with the ruling of the court, "because it's overturning one of the most significant and health-protective rules in our nation's history." Then, being a Bush man, turned right around that said the the Clean Air Act and similar laws were "ill-suited" to the arduous process of regulating greenhouse gases.

Like so many things in the Bush administration, the whole issue is very confusing, when it should be straight-forward. Bush has never, ever wanted mandatory controls on greenhouse gases or any other pollutants! Whatever laws were put into place were nothing more than a sham designed to fool the public into thinking that Bush gave a damn.

In March of 2005, the EPA issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) which capped emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the large eastern states. It was estimated that "When fully implemented, CAIR will reduce SO2 emissions in these states by over 70 percent and NOx emissions by over 60 percent. This will result in $85 to $100 billion in visibility benefits per year by 2015 and will substantially reduce premature mortality in the eastern United States."

"A closely related action is the EPA Clean Air Mercury Rule, the first ever federally-mandated requirements that coal-fired electric utilities reduce their emissions of mercury."

Just a few months later,, Congress passed the Clean Air Act of 2005, a blatant attempt by conservatives to undermine the EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule. This was a revision that made it easier for polluters to pollute and for communities to ignore their own pollution. In April of 2005, The New York Times reported that the energy bill (which included a revision to the Clean Air Act) would, "If it becomes law, ...make one of the most significant changes to the Clean Air Act in 15 years, allowing communities whose air pollution comes from hundreds of miles away to delay meeting national air quality standards until their offending neighbors clean up their own air."

Those who favored the measure claimed it "would give state and local governments the flexibility and discretion they urgently need to deal with air pollution from distant sources. Otherwise, they would have to impose much stricter limits on pollution from local sources, including power plants, factories and automobiles.

"But House members who fought against the measure, and other opponents, say flexibility and discretion are just other words for delay, saving money for industry and posing risks for millions of people living where the air does not meet health-based standards."

In other words the Clean Air Act, should rightly have been named the "Dirty Air Act."

And it was based on the same logic as used by the man who refused to clean up the soot and ash falling on his house from his neighbor's burning of trash until his neighbor stopped burning trash (which his neighbor had no intention of doing). Thus the man and his family contracted a variety of diseases from all this crap falling upon them, which could have been mitigated, in part, by cleaning up his own premises.

Now all of this is moot as the court has ruled the EPA can't make EPA rules, and the little bit of environmental protection provided by those rules, weakened by the Clean Air Act, are history!

McCain a bigamist?

Everyone knows McCain is an adulterer. But many people have fallen prey to temptation and that doesn't make them "bad" people. It certainly doesn't disqualify a person from becoming president of the United States. Many of our presidents have been adulterers.

McCain is a liar. Some people still refuse to accept that.

Worse, McCain is a bigamist. What?

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that McCain is indeed a bigamist. The article, titled "McCain's broken marriage and fractured Reagan friendship," by Richard A Serrano and Ralph Vartabedian, describes exactly how McCain became a bigamist.

"McCain, who is about to become the GOP nominee, has made several statements about how he divorced Carol and married Hensley that conflict with the public record.

"In his 2002 memoir, 'Worth the Fighting For,' McCain wrote that he had separated from Carol before he began dating Hensley. 'I spent as much time with Cindy in Washington and Arizona as our jobs would allow,' McCain wrote. 'I was separated from Carol, but our divorce would not become final until February of 1980.'"

Well, that's not true.

"An examination of court records tells a different story. McCain did not sue his wife for divorce until February 19, 1980, and he wrote in his court petition that he and his wife had 'cohabited' until Jan. 7 of that year - or for the first nine months of his relationship with Hensley.

"Although McCain suggested in his autobiography that months passed between his divorce and remarriage, the divorce was granted April 2, 1980, and he wed Hensley in a private ceremony five weeks later. McCain obtained an Arizona marriage license on March 6, 1980, while still legally married to his first wife."

John Avavosis, at, admittedly not an admirer of John McCain, makes a very pertinent point, nonetheless:

"Imagine if Barack Obama had two marriages at the same time. Imagine had Barack Obama lied about living with his first wife while having a mistress on the side. Imagine that all this happened while Obama had promised to speak out vocally about how gay people are a threat to marriage. We'd never hear the end of it from the Republicans and the media."

There is an excellent story on McCain and his marriage here.

Cooking the books to devalue American life

I admit it. I'm biased against the Bush administration and any and all agencies operating under the flag of the Bush administration. I'm especially biased and angry with the Environmental Protection Agency, which would be better named the Environmental Destruction Agency.

Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press reports that last May the EPA adjusted the "value of a statistical life." Five years ago, the EPA valued an American life at about $7.9 million. Today, the EPA says an American life is only worth $6.9 million.

Why did the EPA drop the value of an American life?

Because the agency is "cooking the books." Why are they cooking the books?

Because it allows the EPA to allow more companies to pollute more air. The polluters are freed of onerous regulations which cut their profits.

As Borenstein explains: "When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution."

In other words, if the value of an American life drops, the EPA can relax its pollution rules and the corporate muggers get happy as their pockets fill with money.

S. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said "It appears that they're cooking the books in regards to the value of life. Those decisions are literally a matter of life and death."

Smog kills! Greenhouse gases cause global warming!

A former EPA official and now director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Dan Esty claims "It's hard to imagine that it has other than a political motivation."

Current EPA honchos disavow any such shady political motivations.

Of course they do.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How do you explain McCain?

The Bush administration fought hard to defeat Jim Webb's new GI bill. The Bushites said it was bad because it provided educational benefits to soldiers who served "only" two years.

When Bush signed the war supplemental spending bill which, as Think Progress reminds us, "included a doubling of GI Bill college benefits for troops and veterans," he said, with utmost hypocrisy and insincerity:

"The bill is a result of close collaboration between my administration and members of both parties on Capitol Hill. ... I want to thank members who worked hard for the GI Bill expansion, especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, McCain. This bill shows that even in an election year, Democrats and Republicans can come together to stand behind our troops."

What was McCain's position on this GI Bill? And how exactly did McCain work hard to see it a reality? "McCain ... was one of the most vocal opponents of Webb's bill. He claimed it was too generous, would lead to a drop in military retention, and would 'hurt the military.' ...

"In fact, McCain didn't even show up ... to vote on the GI bill legislation, which passed 92-6. The only other senator not present for the vote was Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who is battling a brain tumor."

The following is also from Think Progress.

Back on November 11, 2004, (on C-Span Road to the White House), John McCain said: "Without privatization, I don't see how you can possibly over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits."

McCain is also quoted in the Wall Street Journal of March 3, 2008 thusly: "As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed."

Carly Fiorina, of Hewlett Packard fame, and now a top economic adviser for John McCain, recently told right wing radio host Bill Bennett, that McCain "supports private accounts as one of the ways to reform the system" and furthermore, "he will continue to be supportive of those."

Oh, oh. Something's wrong. McCain forgot hisself agin! At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire last month, McCain got into a verbal todo with a voter about Social Security privatization. McCain said "I'm not for, quote, privatizing Social Security. I never have been. I never will be."

Buzzflash (in an article by AmyW) has more stuff on McCain's recent gaffes, including another one related to Social Security. While campaigning in Denver, McCain called Social Security an "absolute disgrace," and explained that it shouldn't be paid for by young worker's taxes.

Reed Hundt, a former Federal Communications Commission Chairman and supporter of Barack Obama wondered "...why reporters don't ask: If Senator McCain doesn't want payroll taxes to fund Social Security (as has long been the case), then how does he propose to pay for it?"

And in a DNC conference call involving several Social Security experts, Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said: "After being in the United States Congress for close to 30 years, John McCain doesn't understand how the Social Security system works. It's always been 'pay as you go' with today's workers paying for today's retirees. What's a disgrace is, that this is news to John McCain."

Last Monday, McCain told a Vietnam vet who had the audacity to question his voting record on issues of importance to veterans, that he has "a perfect voting record from organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, and all the other veterans' service organizations."

He went on to say "I've been endorsed in every election by all of the veterans' organizations that do that. I've been supported by them and received the highest awards from all those organizations, so I guess they don't know something you know."

Not quite. According to Buzzflash, "The Disabled Veterans of America gave McCain a 20 out of 100 for the period from Jan 2006-Jan 2007. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association gave him a 'D.' The Vietnam Veterans of America show that since 2001 McCain has voted with' them 9 times, against them 15 times, and has missed 8 votes on legislation they consider important."

And we must not forget McCain's views on the economy. Former senator Phil Gramm, the person many people blame for the banking troubles currently underway in this country, is McCain's top economic adviser. Gramm, never a friend to the "little" people, went a little nuts and told the Washington Times that the US is "a nation of whiners" because the people are complaining about their economic problems and the recession isn't real, but merely a "mental recession."

McCain's campaign immediately determined that Gramm's comments weren't likely to bring in many votes, so put out a statement saying that John McCain's views are not in sync with Phil Gramm's views.

If that's true, why in god's name would McCain hire Gramm as his top economic adviser? But, you know and I know, McCain and Gramm are rooting around in the same sty, no matter how many statements the McCain campaign puts out.

Poor John. He just can't seem to remember much. Last Wednesday he was asked why insurance companies cover treatment for erectile dysfunction (e.g. Viagra), but not birth control (e.g. contraceptives).

McCain responded, "I certainly do not want to discuss that issue."

Why not?

McCain then admitted he didn't remember how he voted on the issue of insurance companies providing contraceptives. He said he would check to see what his position was.

Finally, McCain was asked why he missed the big vote in the Senate on Wednesday. The Repugnicans attempted a filibuster of a Medicare bill which would prevent cutting physician reimbursements. McCain was nowhere to be found.

Ted Kennedy stumbled in to provide the necessary vote to collapse the filibuster and the bill passed. McCain said he would have voted with the Republicans to keep the filibuster going. But he didn't mind missing the vote because the President would veto the bill anyway. Then he said he "regrets" missing vote.

Note that McCain was the only senator not present when the medicare vote took place. He was also absent Thursday. He has "no scheduled campaign appearance until July 15."

How does one explain McCain?

Bush and gang have changed America - forever?

When our spineless, weak kneed, gutless Congress approved Bush's illegal FISA bill, which not only allows the Bushites to spy on the American people, but also includes a provision to immunize telecoms who broke the law, Bush said the bill was "landmark legislation that is vital to the security of our people."

No, Mr. Bush, it's not "vital to the security of our people," it's a threat to our security! And, it's unconstitutional.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit to have the law negated. We should be so lucky.

Why, we must ask, would so many Democrats, including Barack Obama, go along with this nonsense? Is it due to a fear of being rejected?

Bush and his neocons have played 9/11 like an old familiar song - "The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming." The rest of the lyrics include,

"We must ignore the law,
we must take away your rights,
we must spy on you and all your friends,
in the light of day and in the dark of night."

This song, written by Bush and his neocons, became a number one hit. The American public bought into all the fear-mongering and war-mongering. The Democrats are afraid to appear weak on terror and lose their place in the money pit known as Congress. So they fall on their knees and crawl to approve this illegal bill under the gaze of a smirking chimp of a president.

Bush signed the bill in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. He tried to justify this travesty by claiming the 9/11 attacks "changed our country forever." Our intelligence community must know who the terrorists are talking to and what they are talking about, he said.

That doesn't explain, of course, why Bush wants to spy illegally on American citizens, or utilize the records of the telecoms to cast a net over all of us in hopes of catching one or two bad people.
It does however, once again show that the Bush administration does not believe in the Constitution of the United States.

It's not 9/11 or the terrorists that have "changed our country forever." If blame is to be assigned, point to George and his friends. They're the ones who have changed our country.

It's up to the voters to decide whether we return to the rule of law or whether we simply collapse constitutional government in favor of an all-powerful executive.

Rove thumbs nose at Congress, flees country

So what's Congress going to do now?

Karl Rove received a subpoena from a House Judiciary subcommittee. The committee wants to talk to Rove about whether or not he exerted political pressure in a blatantly partisan set-up which ended with a former governor of Alabama going to jail.

Rove has contended he has immunity due to his position in the White House.

He ignored the subpoena.

John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, along with Representative Linda Sanchez, sent a letter to Rove's lawyer insisting that Rove comply or else. Well, the "else" was stated this way: "...we will proceed to consider all other appropriate recourse." About a week ago, Conyers and Sanchez indicated that might hold Rove in contempt if he defied their subpoena.

Rove has left the building, er, the country, says his lawyer. But this was a trip planned long ago.


What will the committee do?

This committee is made up of members of the same Congress that just bent over in obeisance to Mr. Bush by voting approval of his illegal FISA bill. Do you think they will follow through on their threat to hold Rove in contempt?

Rawstory has more here.

McCain's so-called "experience"

McCain is credited by some supporters as having more "experience" than Barack Obama and thus is more qualified to be president of the United States.

Many McCain supporters play up his "heroic" role in Vietnam, as if that is an experience that somehow translates to the qualities needed in an occupant of the White House. It does not. And while some may consider McCain a "hero," it would seem he does not qualify for that role, either, according to generally-accepted guidelines as to what constitutes a hero.

A hero is someone who, without regard for his or her own safety, accomplishes deeds of bravery on behalf of others. A hero is proactive, moving beyond what is required to what is inspired.

McCain was shot down by the North Vietnamese. He was captured and held in prison for five years. At times, it appears he was physically abused. In the end he cooperated with his jailers.
Many other men went through the same experience in Vietnam as did John McCain. They should be credited for their stamina and endurance. But stamina and endurance doth not a hero make.

McCain returned home, dumped his wife, married a young, very rich woman and then used her money to seek political office, eventually winding up in the United States Senate. He has been, at best, a mediocre senator, generally falling in line with the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.

He is perhaps best known for his affiliation with lobbyists, which continues to this day, in spite of his protestations that he is anti-lobbyist. He chief adviser, Charlie Black, is a notorious lobbyist, and former adviser to Jesse Helms.

Fairly soon after arriving in the Senate, McCain, along with four other Congressmen, became embroiled in a major scandal which involved assisting Charles Keating deregulate the Savings and Loan industry, a scandal that cost the U.S. taxpayers at least $200 billion! McCain must have had clout, for he received merely a slap on the wrist.

McCain has changed his mind on almost every position he has taken over the past 10-20 years, giving the appearance of a person who is unstable and unfaithful to his stated principles. These flip-flops have been well-documented so there is no reason to detail them here.

On a couple of occasions he has worked with other Senators to sponsor legislation of some importance: campaign finance reform and immigration. In both cases, he appears to be backing away from involvement on these two issues. In fact, with regard to immigration, he now opposes the bill he proposed.

We have also seen on several occasions that McCain knows almost nothing of the Middle East, which in terms of foreign policy will continue to be front and center in the years to come. He also has a tendency to lie. When traveling in Iraq, he made several statements which he knew were false when he made them. For example, he said he walked through an area of Baghdad basically unprotected with no problem. It was later revealed he was accompanied by hundreds of armed troops and well as helicopters.

In summary, McCain's touted "experience" is non-existent. He is simply another right-wing Republican lackey with no moral or ethical center.

While McCain's "experience" doesn't qualify him for the presidency, neither does Obama's experience. In truth, there is just no way to obtain all the experience one needs to sit in the Oval Office. The presidency of the United States is a unique position, and demands much more than mere "experience."

We need someone who not only understands the workings of the government, but who is knowledgeable about the document that undergirds those workings -- the Constitution. But more than that, we need a president who is committed to ensuring that all governmental agencies follow constitutional mandates.

Bush, as we have seen, does not know the duties of the three branches of government, claiming at one point the executive makes the laws.

An effective president will also be one who cares about people, not party platforms. We need a pragmatic president, who determines policies and programs based on the needs of the people of the United States, not on the needs of the corporations.

We need a president who stands in the legal tradition of the Magna Carta and the ethical tradition of the Enlightenment.

We need a president who has enough confidence in himself or herself that he or she can listen to other views without taking umbrage; a president who is able to change his or her mind if the reasons for doing so are based on a concern for the people and not his or her political career.

We need a president who is an intellectual, who is smart, who reads real books, who has a grasp of the history, not only of our country, but the other countries in the world; a president who doesn't have to rely on one-page daily briefings written by cronies; a president who knows when he is being conned.

Some say Barack Obama does not have enough "experience," as if McCain does. We've seen McCain's experience; it is sorely lacking. Obama, on the other hand, did not have everything handed to him on a silver platter, as did McCain. Obama had to work for everything he has obtained. And working your way up is a great learning experience! Obama was not in the bottom of his college class as was McCain, which would lead one to believed he got more out of college than did McCain. Obama did not end up working for a major law firm, (or beer company) but took a job as a community organizer believing he could actually help people who were suffering financially in the Chicago area.

Obama has learned from his experiences, and that's perhaps the most important "experience" a candidate for president can have. He isn't perfect by any means, but the presidency will challenge a person in unimaginable ways, and it would appear that Obama is by far and away the man up to the challenge.

Currently, we have a president who is so weak he thinks wars solve problems; who is so frightened, he has shut down his government from the public view; a president who is so terrified of the terrorists he believes it necessary to gut the Constitution to "save" the nation; a president who is so stupid he proudly claims he doesn't read books; a president who is so superstitious he believes God talks to him and tells him what to do.

McCain represents more of the above.

Obama represents a different kind of presidency; a presidency where "experience" is defined, not as a series of static events in the past, but in those life situations that provide the opportunity for learning, growing, and maturing.

And that's exactly the kind of presidential "experience" we need in the 21st Century!

You can read another take on McCain's "experience" here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Student steals body of Christ in Orlando, Florida, reports that Webster Cook, a University of Central Florida Student Senator, went to a Catholic Mass at the University and stole the body of Christ.

June 29. Cook went to the altar; he took the wafer which had been transubstantiated into the actual, real, physical body of Christ; but he didn't eat it. He tried to take it back to his seat. He fully intended to eat it, but first he wanted to show it to a friend who had expressed some interest in the Roman Catholic Church and had attended Mass with him.

On his way back to his seat, Cook was accosted by a woman. He says that "[s]he came up behind me, grabbed my wrist with her right hand, with her left hand grabbed my fingers and was trying to pry them open to get the Eucharist out of my hand."

He finally put the wafer into his mouth and made his way back to his seat, where he took it out of his mouth.

Cook has filed an "abuse complaint" with UCF's student conduct court. Meanwhile church officials filed their own complaint citing disruptive conduct.

Isn't this fun?

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Orlando says she wasn't aware that anyone had touched Cook. Of course not.

But the Diocese wants the wafer back! It needs care and respect. Cook was keeping it in a bag.

Father Miguel Gonzalez complained: "Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family." Furthermore, to "intentionally" abuse the Eucharist is a mortal sin! That's as bad as it gets. So, if the wafer doesn't come back, the whole community's gonna have to pray real hard, make acts of reparation, and "ask the Lord for pardon, forgiveness, peace ... "

Hee, hee.

Well, the community did its thing, only it wasn't about pardon, forgiveness or peace. Cook received all kinds of emails from Catholics around the globe accusing him of premeditative theft -- planning to steal the wafer all along, and damning him to hell. Some warned they were going to break into his room to "rescue the Eucharist."

Cook decided he didn't need all that crap and brought the wafer back - no worse for wear, we hope.

Don't you just love all this superstition and magic? My god, if you believe that a little bitty wafer actually turns into the body of some mythical figure from 2000 plus years ago, you've got a real big problem.

Of course, you could test the wafer scientifically. You know what you'd find, right?

It's just a damned wafer!

You'll find a McDonalds in hell

Donald and Tim Wildmon, the founder and the current president of the zany Christian right American Family Association, have decided that McDonald's has committed an offense against Almighty God. As every true Bible-believing Christian is well aware, unforgiven offenses against Almighty God will land you in hell for all eternity; and that's a long time!

Obviously McDonalds has been consigned to hell!

And who would know better than Donny and Timmy Wildmon what comprises a hell-worthy offense against God? They've been in the business of denouncing hellish corporations for years and have enlisted millions of god-fearing American fundamentalists in their cause. You'd expect they'd have things down pretty well pat by now.

This is not a defense of McDonald's as McDonald's. Chris Kelly at The Huffington Post says rightly that "There are billions and billions of reasons to hate McDonald's. They took the McRib away, for one, and that burns. (Sometimes I almost wish I'd never loved it at all.)"

But, continues Mr. Kelly, "There's at least one good reason to like McDonald's: They're being boycotted by the American Family Association.

"What did McDonald's do to cross the AFA, its president, Donald Wildmon, and -- by extension -- Jesus (R-Nz.)? They donated $20,000 to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. McDonald's revenue runs about five billion dollars a quarter, so you can see their profound commitment to destroying the family through sodomy."

Yup, McDonald's, with this massive contribution, is, according to the AFA, "promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage."

In fact, Donny Wildmon, now getting up in years, says that the home of the Big Mac is "promoting a lifestyle that would utterly destroy the traditional family."

It must be frustrating for "old" Donny. I mean the AFA has boycotted Burger King, Carl's Jr., 7-11, Proctor & Gamble, and Kraft. They've gone after IKEA, Old Navy, Kohl's, Target, Kmart, and Sears.

And while the homosexuals are still promoting their family-destroying lifestyle, there seems to be no let up in the number of traditional marriages! Not only so, but every one of these companies is still in business.

You almost wonder if god gives a damn.

The Pledge of Allegiance - A sales gimmick

Have you ever wondered why people pledge allegiance to a flag? As a school teacher I asked that question almost every day. First period, a voice over the squawk box, "Please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance." My ragtag bunch of students moaned and stumbled to their feet, swiped at their chests with their hands and mumbled the Pledge, collapsing with a sigh into their seats as the last syllables faded away.

A flag is an ensign, a symbol of something else. The American flag presumably symbolizes the United States of America. But why not pledge allegiance to the United States. Why add a middleman, or middleflag, so to speak?

Stardust at God is for Suckers published a post on July 7, containing a letter written by author/photographer, Paul M. Howey. It is replicated below.

"Independence Day - a perfect time for some independent thinking. On this all-American day of apple pie, parades and fireworks, what better time to question why we pledge 'allegiance' to a flag.

"We say the Pledge of Allegiance at lot, mechanically mouthing the words without truly understanding them or their history. Are we deluding ourselves into believing this somehow renders us more patriotic?

"At the risk of sounding like Cliff from 'Cheers,' here are some little-known facts, Norm.

"Conservatives are up in arms about presidential candidates wearing flag pins. I'll bet precious few of them, however, are aware the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a left-winger, a socialist even, and that corporate profits were the sole motivating factor behind it.

"Francis Bellamy penned the Pledge in 1892. Bellamy was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and an extreme nationalist whose sermons ('Jesus the Socialist,' for one) eventually got him booted from the church.

"He then landed a job with Youth's Companion, a magazine that also happened to be in the business of selling flags. The magazine's owners decided they needed to boost flag sales. They came up with a marketing gimmick.

"They engineered a deal with the National Education Association to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing in the New World. By agreement, all the schools in the country were to have flag ceremonies, and naturally they would all need to have flags. To cement the deal, they had Bellamy write the following pledge that youngsters all over the country would be required to say:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

"'One nation indivisible' was a phrase Bellamy used to drive home the fact that the states had no inherent right of secession. The Civil War was still fresh on the minds of Americans, and the Northerners wanted to be sure the Southerners understood the new rules.

"Socialist that he was, Francis had wanted to include 'equality for all' in his Pledge, but he knew that states' superintendents of education--who generally did not support equality for women or for African-Americans--would object. That could hurt flag sales (the Pledge was, after all, just an advertising ploy meant to peddle more flags), and so he dropped the idea.

"The last change to the Pledge came in 1954. In response to the 'Red Scare' of the McCarthy era, the words 'under God' were added, supposed to show that we rejected the godless precepts of Communism. Otherwise patriotic atheists and agnostics were not consulted.

"Sadly, the Pledge of Allegiance was but an ad campaign created to bolster a corporation's bottom line. Perhaps worse, it was worded to be politically expedient rather than politically correct.

"We're about the only nation to 'pledge allegiance' to a flag, and we do it without even understanding why we do so. Perhaps it's time to consider retiring this anachronistic practice, or at least find a meaningful replacement."

You can find more info here, and here, and even more interesting stuff here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Teaching religion in science class in Louisiana

One of the things you can say about the Christian right is that sometimes they are downright devious.

Bobby Jindal, the Roman Catholic right wing governor of Louisiana, has signed the "Louisiana Science Education Act." This bill allows science teachers to "freely teach the scientific evidence both for and against Darwinian evolution," says Casey Luskin, a representative of the Discovery Institute.

The Discovery Institute is a right wing outfit dedicated to overturning the teaching of evolution in the public schools and replacing it with creationism or creationism's cousin, intelligent design.

Luskin claims this bill keeps the state's hands off teachers who "'help students understand, analyze, critic, (sic) and objectively review scientific theories being studied' and that includes, of course, the scientific theory of evolution."

Here again we have a religious rightist casting aspersions on the "theory" of evolution as if it were not the basic explanation of life on this planet, failing to recognize that without evolution one cannot understand any of the fundamental sciences which circumscribe our world.

Supposedly the law forbids teachers to promote religion. Hell, any smart religious right teacher can circumvent that pretty easily.

Onenewsnow says that "Besides opening the door to critiquing leading theories of evolution, the bill also protects teachers from being harassed, intimidated, and sometimes fired for offering evidence critical of Darwinian theory."

"Theories" of evolution? Please.

The truth is plain: This bill is an open door to the religious propagandizing inherent in creationism and intelligent design! Whatever else you want to say about creationism and/or intelligent design, neither of them work at all without positing a creator of some sort. They begin with a creator - in fact - they begin with the god of Genesis.

They are religion not science. They will always be religion, and no matter how either of those nonsense "theories" are dressed up, they will never be science, and they are lousy religion at that!

What a travesty that in the 21st century we have politicians that are so damn dumb they don't know the difference between real science and trash science. Maybe they were all home-schooled.

It is of some interest and amusement that Jindal, an ultra-conservative, who promotes a brand of Catholicism called "muscular" Catholicism, signed off on this legislative stupidity! The Roman Catholic Church has no problem with evolution and believes the theory of evolution is quite compatible with its version of the Christian faith.

Louisiana once again is in the limelight for backwardness.

Leaders fiddle while world burns

This week, in Japan, the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations promised they would "move toward a low-carbon society" by reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050."

Big whoop! Global warming is not nigh, it is here.

In other words, they did nothing. Bush has been praised for finally agreeing on "an explicit long-term target for eliminating the gases that scientists have said are warming the planet." Unfortunately, this agreement contains no "goal for cutting emissions over the next decade..."

Some scientists are warning that coastal areas could be underwater by 2012.

Philip E. Clapp, director of the Pew Environmental Group, not that "the emissions reduction goal is extremely weak; the language in the communique is almost meaningless."

Bush and company have long maintained that he would become part of a global pact to reduce global warming only if "developing" nations such as China and India are included in any treaty dealing with climate change.

You can put it this way: The neighborhood is burning down. You and your wealthy neighbors refused to install fire hydrants and now refuse to fight the fire because other neighbors down the street, who are poorer than you and thus live in less expensive homes, failed to install smoke detectors.

Furthermore, you have argued for years that there is no danger of fire and when the fire department provided you with documentation that fire was a very real possibility in the near future, you altered the documents to mesh with your beliefs.

The neighborhood is burning down. You and your wealthy neighbors decide to wait for a few more years and then call the fire department.

Welcome to the netherworld of Bush and company.

The Coming Republican Convention or McCain's Nightmare

Barack Obama has said, assuming he obtains the Democratic nomination at the convention in Denver, that he will make his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium, in front of 75,000 plus people! Obama will speak, coincidentally, on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

McCain, heading to the Republican Convention in Minneapolis, has another story to tell. He is hounded by the most unpopular president since Richard Nixon. That wouldn't be so bad if Bush would stay in the shadows, but you can expect Bush to speak to the Convention which means that all things Republican will be tied to his administration.

Furthermore, according to an article by David Knowles, the GOP platform, is "at present ... a 100-page-long decree that mentions George W. Bush's name at every scintillating, right-wing turn of phrase:

"Virturally the entire platform will have to be rewritten to lessen the imprint of the president, who has the highest disapproval rating of any White House occupant since Richard M. Nixon."

McCain has fawned over the religious right since his campaign began, with ludicrous results. His fawning continues in an attempt to assure right wing conservatives that his thinking is their thinking and he's their man.

But that may not be enough. Knowles says the "conservatives are itching for a fight. Will the new Republican road-map include such McCain priorities as global warming, stem cell research, immigration reform, and campaign finance restriction? Just how many planks can you change before you admit you've installed a new floor altogether?"

I think Knowles is being overly generous to Senator McCain. I'm not sure anyone knows at this time where the senator stands with regard to the issues of global warming, stem cell research, immigration reform and campaign finance restriction. He's flipped and flopped over these and other issues just about every week. Maybe by convention time, he'll be walking lock-step with the right wing on everything!

Of course, that will lose him the moderate vote (if there is such a thing anymore in Repugnican land!)

Another piece of McCain's nightmare is the fact that Ron Paul is waiting in the wings to toss a monkey wrench in the works. Ron Paul, having really nothing to lose, has "booked his own 'mini-convention' so as to overlap (like a minor eclipse) over the bigger party down the way:

"Maverick GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has booked an arena in Minneapolis for a 'mini-convention' that could steal some of John McCain's thunder just days before he accepts the Republican nomination."

Poor John! Couldn't happen to a nicer Repugnican.

G. W. Bush - a presidential caricature

The president of the United States, George W. Bush attended a G-8 summit meeting two years ago hosted by the first female chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.

Ms. Merkel was speaking with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, when the president of the United States, George W. Bush, came up behind her and began to massage her shoulders. You can see the aghast look on her face in the photo above.

It was at this same G-8 summit that Mr. Bush embarrassed the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, by calling out at a meeting, "Yo, Blair!"

Mr. Bush seems to lack a sense of time and place.

This month, another G-8 summit is being held in Japan. Please understand that Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister is reportedly a rather "stiff and shy" figure. Mr. Bush, talking with Nigerian president Umaru Yar'Adua, spotted Mr. Harper and called you, "Yo, Harper!"

Such a gaffe was particularly unfortunate, as Harper's government is criticized rather roundly in Canada for "taking orders from Washington." Some said Bush's calling out, "Yo, Harper!" as did his calling out "Yo, Blair!" two years previously, indicated that Bush felt superior to his Canadian and European counterpart.

Such a conclusion finds further justification in the fact that when Bush and Harper met in the White House in 2006, Bush referred to Harper casually as "Steve." This is not the way to win friends and influence people!

Unfortunately for the United States, the misadventures of George W. Bush in Japan included another chapter. A press kit handed out to the White House press corps that travels with the president included a rather nasty biography of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

It stated, for example, that Berlusconi was one of the "most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice."

The biography also stated that Berlusconi entered into Italian politics with no experience, and was able to finance his campaign with his "vast network of media holdings," and promised to "purge the notoriously lackadaisical Italian government of corruption."

However, said the biography, "he [Berlusconi] and his fellow Forza Italia Party leaders soon found themselves accused of the very corruption he had vowed to eradicate."

(One cannot help but wonder if the persons responsible for writing that biography were thinking, not of Berlusconi, but Bush!)

George W. Bush is a caricature of a president. We should be reading about George W. Bush on the comic pages of the daily newspaper, not on the front pages!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tim Wildmon warns Christian influence is on the way out!

Tim Wildmon is the president of the American Family Association headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. The AFA is that group of Christian right do-gooders who believe it is their mission to tell you what you can hear and what you can see and what you can read. This is the outfit that loves to boycott businesses who fail to adhere to their Talibanic views.

Wildmon has written an article titled, "Universalism -- the end of Christian influence." Wildmon is quite worried that too many people in America no longer are "real" Christians. "Americans today," he claims, "are dropping the concept that one must subscribe to a particular set of beliefs in order to be in right standing with God. ... so they are willing to go with the idea that, 'Hey, everybody's in.'"

Well, that just won't do! Wildmon, you see, knows the mind of god, too, just like the Roman Catholic poohbahs, and John Hagee. And he knows that god isn't going to let people into heaven who don't follow the "particular set of beliefs" that Wildmon holds up as necessary!

My god, we're succumbing to "universalism!" Oprah subscribes to universalism, says Wildmon, and oh, dear, so does Barack Obama. I mean Obama actually said that he believed there was "a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people." What a rotten universalist!

This, says Wildmon, is "in complete contradiction to Christianity. Read the New Testament. It is all about Jesus Christ being the only begotten Son of God and the only way to eternal life. There is nothing in there about other religious paths being an option. ... There are certain essential doctrines that one must subscribe to in order to be considered a Christian."

That's all very interesting, but if you read what Jesus says, at least in one part of the gospels, you ain't gonna get into heaven unless you feed and clothe the poor and visit those in prison. He didn't mention anything about needing to believe he was the "only begotten Son of God."

I guess it just depends upon what part of the New Testament you want to accept as your "truth."

Wildmon doesn't like this "growing pluralistic impulse toward tolerance...[it's] having theological consequences" like allowing people to disavow the need for a particular creed or "all that old fashioned stuff about repenting of your sin and giving your life to the Lord."

And, says Wildmon, this trend toward universalism could well mean "there will be no Christian influence of any consequence in America in 25 years."

The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Actually, if this universalism means we could be rid of Wildmon and his ilk and their sectarian god and their constant meddling in the lives of more liberal Christians and non-Christians and just plain secular people, and if we could do this within 25 years, I'd say go for it!

The United States and the world would be one hell of a lot better off!

Klingenschmitt and the Christian U.S. Navy

We've written before about a former Navy chaplain by name of Gordon James Klingenschmitt. This is the character who thought there was nothing wrong for him to pray in public in Jesus name wearing the uniform of the U.S. Navy. Klingenschmitt always said if people didn't like it, they could lump it. He didn't and doesn't understand that a Navy chaplain cares for all the sailors, even those who don't share his religious convictions. A Navy chaplain does not try to convert sailors, but helps them better understand and follow their own particular faith system. Klingenschmitt believed his job was to convert sailors - to lead them to make a commitment to his Christ.

Klingenschmitt is back in the news, sort of. Not that anyone really cares much, but the story has some importance as it indicates the Christian right is still strong and has not given up its mission of turning the military into a branch of their type of militant fundamentalism.

The U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis has had a tradition of prayers before the noon lunch. Attendance is required. The midshipmen do not have a choice. The American Civil Liberties Union believes that this should not happen at a U.S. military installation or at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Now, the midshipmen don't have to join in or believe in what is being said, but they do have to attend and they do have to stand and they do have to listen. The ACLU claims, rightly, that there is a great deal of social pressure to join in and therefore wants the practice discontinued.

Back in 1995, the Anti-Defamation League tried without success to stop this practice.

Klingenschmitt is taken aback, which is his normal stance. No longer a chaplain, he still made his opinion known and it's worth reading as it exemplifies the disdainful attitude typical of his type toward those who are not fundamentalist Christians.

"Well good grief -- does the First Amendment protect the freedom of religious expression? Does it protect the freedom of speech? Or does it protect the easily offended ears of the bystander who not harmed while other people are expressing their faith?"

Klingenschmitt went on to say that this country is not like the former Soviet Union where believers in Christ had to "lock Jesus in the chapel or go to underground churches."

Well, good grief, what would Klingenschmitt say to having Muslim or Hindu or Wicca prayers said at the noon lunch at Annapolis? He wouldn't like that one bit!

None of this has anything to do with the First Amendment or freedom of speech. It has to do with the U.S. Military, a part of the United States government, not recognizing any religion. Klingenschmitt doesn't agree with that part of the Constitution, and therefore pressures the U.S. government to force military personnel into participating in a particular Christian religious exercise.

It is not all right! It is wrong! It violates the Constitution! It is even against the New Testament. Once again, I would refer Klingenschmitt and all his fellow fundys to re-read the gospel stories of the one they claim as their "savior." Jesus was very clear about his stance on prayer. Do not, he said, stand in the public square and pray. That's what hypocrites do! Go into your closet and pray!

It's too bad Klingenschmitt doesn't believe the bible!

John Hagee's "secular humanist" woman

Thanks to Right Wing Watch for this.

"In a sermon on 'God's Plan for Wives and Mothers' that aired last week, Hagee outlined the 'ideal woman' -- along with the 'secular humanist' woman" ... here's part of what he said:

"If the secular humanist of the 21st century took his brush to paint the portrait of a thoroughly modern Millie, it would be with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth, smoke twirling out of her nostrils, language that would make a sailor blush--even Rosie O'Donnell.

"Her breath would smell like a brewery; a condom in one hand, and the feminist manual in the other, listing the local abortion clinics to snuff out the life that was within her body. Her allegiance is always to her career. Her children are latch-key children who come home and live alone until mother and daddy finally arrive after dark.

"Woman can render service in many secular field, but God says her highest and best field, in God's opinion, is that of being a mother."

Well, there you have it! From God's mouth to your ears, via the very wrong, very phony and not very reverend John Hagee!

And whatever else you can say about Hagee, you've got to say that he is one mean, lying, worthless sonofabitch!

If you have a strong stomach, you can watch his entire rant here.

Tim Pawlenty - Minnesota's gift to McCain

(Photo of Tim Pawlenty)

David Brody is a "Senior National News Correspondent" for the right wing Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).

Brody recently interviewed Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who is said to be another of those on McCain's short-list for vice president.

Guess what? Pawlenty is also an "evangelical, born-again" Christian who wears his faith on his sleeve.

Hear that, McCain? Tim might just be your man!

When Brody asked Pawlenty to speak to his faith, Pawlenty said:

"As a person, I am defined by my commitment to Christ and people always say well there is an official role and there is but I don't think people in public life should shy away from sharing their faith perspective because it informs others about their value system and what they believe and who they are and so I am a committed Christian and I am someone who is proud to say that my value system, my beliefs are shaped my (sic) faith and my faith in Christ and I think that is informative for people to know and I'm not bashful about that."

Well, we wouldn't want Tim to be bashful about anything. And maybe it's true that his commitment to Christ says something about his value system. The problem is that the phrase, "I'm committed to Christ" doesn't give us a frigging clue as to what value system that might represent. In many cases, it would suggest the best course of action is to lock the person up in a straight-jacket.

Bush is "committed to Christ" and he's a lying nogoodnik who conned the American people into an unnecessary war that has led to hundreds of thousands of dead men, women and children. In fact, Bush lies about most everything!

What's really funny is how Pawlenty answers Brody's next question which is: "Should Evangelicals be concerned at all about a McCain presidency? Can you pretty much look Evangelicals in the eye and say listen, don't worry about John McCain as the President of the United States?"

And Tim says: "Yes, I can David. I mean, if you think about the major things he stands for; winning the war, getting us strict constructionists on the Supreme Court which is so important not just for now but for the next 20 years, appreciating the limited role of the government and his value system. ... I'm sure there are certain things here or there that people might say well I don't fully agree with him or this or that but as a general proposition his value system, his faith system I think would be something that would make Evangelicals proud."

C'mon, Tim, don't you kinda wonder in your hearts of hearts about a man who would leave his devoted wife who had waited years for him to return from the war for a blonde bimbo with tons of beer money? Don't you kind wonder about a man who went out of his way to use his political clout to help a friend make money at public expense? Don't you wonder about someone who switched from being an Episcopalian (which you probably don't even recognize as a "real" Christian church) to Southern Baptist in order to attract southern votes? Don't you wonder about a man who has flip-flopped on abortion, taxes, the war in Iraq, torture, etc.? Don't you wonder just a little about a man who calls his wife a cunt in public, Tim? Don't you wonder about a man who calls certain religious leaders "agents of intolerance" in one breath, and then taking another breath a few years later speaks of them as "angels of deliverance"?

What McCain values are you talking about, Tim?

But Tim wasn't done with his description of John McCain, man of values. He said, "John McCain is a person of faith and he is a committed Christian and he is somebody that I think is probably less comfortable being overt about that than perhaps some others might be but his value system and his belief in Christ I think is something that is part of who he is as a person..."

Well, Tim continues on in that vein. It's pretty sickening. And most of it isn't even true. And you have to wonder as to what the hell these so-called "committed Christians" are talking about when they talk about their "faith" and their "values" and then continue the politics of unending war, policies that tend to beat people up, especially the poor, and legislative programs that benefit only global entities engaged in activities destined to destroy the earth.

Maybe Tim's your man, John. And you know what, you can have him!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

McCain - he'll do what's right if there's an upside

In September of 2004, Dan Rather of CBS News anchored a report by Mary Mapes and her producing and reporting team on "President George W. Bush's dereliction of his National Guard duty."

"The firestorm that followed their broadcast trashed Mapes's well-respected career, caused Rather to resign from his anchor chair a year early, and led to an unprecedented 'internal inquiry' into the story--chaired by former Reagan attorney general Richard Thornburgh."

And you don't believe the power of the Bushites and the corporate world of which they are a part?

In her book, Truth and Duty - The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power, Ms. Mapes describes in scintillating detail the story behind the story. It wasn't that CBS had the story wrong--Bush was and is guilty of dereliction of duty--it was they had the temerity to tell the story on the air.

Mapes' book is "a riveting chronicle of how the public's right to know--or even to ask questions--is being threatened by an alliance of politicians, news organizations, bloggers, and corporate America."

I'm reading the book. It's very hard to put down.

Mary Mapes worked for CBS News for 15 years, mostly with CBS Evening News and then with Dan Rather and 60 Minutes II. She was the one who broke the story of the Abu Ghraib prison tortures and for that was graced with the Peabody Award in 2005.

It is the Abu Ghraib prison torture story that this post is about.

When Ms. Mapes, Dan Rather, and others working together at CBS got a hint that certain soldiers were being detained in Iraq for unspecified reasons about which no one was talking and then that their detention had a relationship to an emerging story that something was badly wrong at the Abu Ghraib prison, they went after the story full-force. It was a long and difficult task as the military consistently dissembled and stonewalled the CBS investigative reporters.

Eventually, the CBS team was able to identify the soldiers involved, and through various interviews pieced together the brutal, disturbing tale. The most crucial evidence, though, consisted of the photographs which they were able to obtain, which have been published over and over again around the world - horrifying scenes of torture and debasement.

At that point, Ms. Mapes writes, "I began looking for people who could comment on what these pictures represented. My first thought was that Sen. John McCain would be ideal. As a former soldier and a former prisoner of war, McCain could offer valuable insight. I contacted his office and talked repeatedly to his aides, telling them what we had and how I hoped the senator could help us. In the end, they told me he was going to stay out of this one. This was an ugly story and there was no upside in volunteering to be part of it."

(Truth and Duty - The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power, by Mary Mapes, 2005, St. Martin's Press, New York, pp. 123-124)

Could it be possible that in 2005 John McCain was in process of planning his run for the presidency in 2008? Is it possible that in light of his political ambitions he felt it would behoove him not to rile those militarists and politicos and corporate honchos who might find his involvement in outing the Pentagon's hidden Abu Ghraib scandal less than providential? Could that be the reason this American "hero" refused to get involved in setting right what was at the least, a betrayal of our professed American ideals?

If you should run into Senator McCain in your travels, ask him why he would not cooperate with CBS News in this most significant and crucial attempt to get at the truth of Abu Ghraib. Ask him if his morality is always based on whether there's an "upside" for John McCain.

Jesse Helms - dead men don't lie

Blogenfreude at Agitprop says:

"Another conservative asshole kept alive well beyond his sell-by date courtesy of your tax dollars is gone -- Jesse Helms has expired. ...

"...we'll probably wind up paying for some of the funeral too! Watch for him lying in state in the Senate and a bunch of weepy tributes by cowed Democrats afraid to tell the fucking truth. ...

"And watch for the wingnuts to make a big deal of the fact that he managed to die on July 4th (as did Adams and Jefferson)."

Speaking of wingnuts:

Former North Carolina Republican Representative Bill Cobey, now chairman of The Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, N.C.

"It's just incredible that he would die on July 4, the same day of the Declaration of Independence and the same day that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died, and he certainly is a patriot in the mold of those great men."

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican Leader:

"Today we lost a Senator whose stature in Congress had few equals. Senator Jesse Helms was a leading voice and courageous champion for the many causes he believed in.

Ed Fuelner, president of the Heritage Foundation:

Helms was "a dedicated, unflinching and articulate advocate of conservative policy and principle..."

The Rev. Billy Graham:

Helms was "my friend and long-time senator from my home state of North Carolina." He was "a man of consistent conviction to conservative ideals and courage to faithfully serve God and country based on principle, not popularity or politics." It is "fitting that such a patriot who fought for free markets and free people would die on Independence Day."

Graham also said that Helms was a loyal and effective leader for North Carolina and one with whom he connected during times of national crisis. Graham intends to pray for the Helms family as they honor Helms "legendary life and extraordinary legacy."

Unfortunately, the truth about Helms is something very different from those tributes. It is dark and foreboding. It is evil dressed in the cloak of a United States Senator.

Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise has done an excellent job at summarizing this nogoodnik's career and what follows next are excerpts from her article, "Race-baiting former senator Jesse Helms has died." You can read the entire article here.

"Helms wasn't just another racist politician, racism was his politics. His entire career was an extended pitch to the worst instincts of Americans. He became a conservative icon by skillfully harnessing the media of his day to stoke the country's darkest fears about race, sex, and modernity.

"Along the way, Helms played a major role in assembling what we know today as the right wing noise machine--an integrated network of media outlets, think tanks, political consultants, lobbyists, church groups, and direct-mail fundraisers dedicated to rolling back the reforms of the 1960s and 'reclaiming' America for straight white guys with money."

In 1960, Helms began a program called Viewpoint on WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina. "Helms used the Viewpoint and other syndicated media outlets to establish his brand of race-baiting demagoguery."

Helms hated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and said that King's organization was "heavily laden at the top with leaders of proven records of communism, socialism and sex perversion, as well as other curious behavior." Helms called King a communist on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

In 1964, Helms said that the Civil Rights Act was "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress."

Helms could say something like that for he believed blacks were by nature inferior to whites. "No intelligent Negro citizen should be insulted by a reference to this very plain fact of life. It is time to face honestly and sincerely the purely scientific statistical evidence of natural racial distinction in group intellect..."

"...Jesse Helms was the father of modern racially charged political campaign ads. His fascination with race as a campaign weapon goes back at least to his work as an 'unofficial researcher' for a 1950 senate campaign. Helms' side released a doctored photo of the rival candidate's wife dancing with a black man." Although Helms denied it, "[A]t least one Helms biographer claims that Helms personally faked the picture."

When Helms ran against Harvey Gantt in 1996 for the Senate, "one of the ugliest, most racially charged contests in the history of the Senate ... the Helms camp ran the infamous White Hands ad, featuring a pair of white hands crumpling a rejection letter. The voice over says, 'You needed that job, but they had to give it to a minority because of racial quotas."

[Ms. Beyerstein commends to us the fact that an adviser to Jesse Helms in that 1996 campaign was none other that John McCain's senior adviser, Charlie Black.]

And, says Ms. Beyerstein, we must not forget that Helms was "a patron of right wing terrorist movements around the world including the UNITA rebels in Angola, the RENAMO guerrillas in Mozambique, not to mention the Nicaraguan Contras." He also supported "the Afghan mujahedin--the same groups that would turn on the U.S."

Helms "despised gay people as much as African Americans, intellectuals, 'sex perverts,' and leftists."

Jesse Helms reveled in being cantankerous. He was mean-spirited and devious and nasty. His nickname was "Senator No" as he so often voted no in opposition to such things as increased government spending, civil rights legislation, and support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Pam at Pam's House Blend provides some other quotes from this bigoted racist:

"The New York Times and Washington Post are both infested with homosexuals themselves. Just about every person down there is a homosexual or lesbian." -- 1995

"The University of Negroes and Communists" - a reference to the University of North Carolina. -- 1950

"Your tax dollars are being used to pay for grade-school classes that teach our children that CANNIBALISM, WIFE-SWAPPING and MURDER of infants and the elderly are acceptable behavior>" - Fundraising mailer, 1996

"All Latins are volatile people. Hence, I was not surprised at the volatile reaction." - After Mexicans protested his visit in 1986

"Homosexuals are weak, morally sick wretches." -- 1995 radio broadcast

"She's a damn lesbian. I am not going to put a lesbian in a position like that. If you want to call me a bigot, fine." -- Explaining his opposition to the appointment of a woman to a cabinet post

"They should ask their parents if it would be all right for their son or daughter to marry a Negro." -- In response to Duke University students holding a vigil after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. -- 1968

[It is interesting to note that Helm's granddaughter, Jennifer Knox, is a lesbian and a Republican and was elected as a judge in North Carolina.]

Helms fought civil rights for blacks. He blamed blacks for the high crime rate. He launched a Senate filibuster against a bill establishing the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., as a national holiday. He said that AIDs was always caused by "people deliberately engaging in unnatural acts." In 1993 he sang "Dixie" in an elevator to Carol Moseley-Braun, the first African American woman elected to the Senate, while bragging, "I'm going to make her cry. I'm going to sing Dixie until she cries."

I've heard it said one should not speak ill of the dead. I've often wondered why people believe that. Certainly they wouldn't apply it to certain folks like Hitler or Stalin.

Jesse Helms was not a nice man. He is dead. There is no reason to pretend he was a nice man. His life and his words speak for themselves. I'm just glad he won't be coming back. He can't hurt people anymore.

And he can't tell any more lies!

Porn addict Phil Burress endorses John McCain

Phil Burress? Ah yes. He's the homophobic porn addict who feels he has a mission to impose his beliefs on the rest of the world, particularly the state of Ohio. (See photo)

Burress is famous for leading a fight against strip clubs and X-rated bookstores, as well as his real passion--same-sex marriage. He's agin' it! The "gay agenda," in Burress' mind, is a huge threat to fundamentalist Christian beliefs and traditional family values. Thus he has fought for constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and woman, and in the process has developed a large organization of conservative advocates.

Ohio has been the focus of his efforts. Back in 2004, The New York Times reported that "Mr. Burress plans to take his grass-roots movement in Ohio to a new level, using a computer database of 1.5 million voters to build a network of Christian conservative officials, candidates and political advocates.

"He envisions holding town-hall-style meetings early next year in Ohio's 88 counties to identify issues, recruit organizers and train volunteers. With a cadre of 15 to 20 leaders in each county, he says he believes religious conservatives can be running school boards, town councils and county prosecutor's offices across the state within a few years."

Burress is a representative of what I call the American Taliban (right-wing Christian fundamentalists trying by means fair and foul to impose their beliefs and doctrines upon all the citizens of our fair land). The methods and goals are the same as Afghanistan's Taliban, now resurgent against American and NATO forces. Who knows, maybe we'll have to call in Ohio's National Guard to put the SOB down!

His personal life is the stuff of dime novels. Burress is a porn addict. Or, as Ian James says, "A self proclaimed thrice married porn addict whose third wife reads him porn so that he can avoid being overly titillated..." In 2007, non-titillated, Phil went to work to make enact draconian measures against strip clubs in that state to ensure that no one else might get overly titillated.

He was named "Girlieman of the Week" by the King's Right Site for advocating legislation which would impose his beliefs upon the adult entertainment industry. It was such activity that led King's Right to describe him as "that most dangerous kind of despot, a man who is so terrified of his own cravings ... that's he's compelled to remove any/all temptation, through Nanny State coercion."

As a confirmation of his crazed mendacity, in 2006, Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, (a group that promotes abstinence), argued that drugstores should lock up condoms. "It's a lie that condoms prevent all sexually transmitted diseases anyway," said Burress.

Phil Burress is the latest extremist of the Christian right to put his imprimatur upon Senator John McCain. reports that Burress, until recently, held a "strong dislike for John McCain." Burress said "We don't like him and he doesn't like us," referring to the relationship between McCain and "values voters."

About a week ago, however, McCain met privately with six conservative "activists" from Ohio, a group that included Burress. Burress praised McCain, saying that he treated the group courteously and took notes on what they said "about issues such as the sanctity of life, marriage, and judges."

Burress fairly glowed: "It was so refreshing to me because he was so different than any other politician that I have ever met." Burress said that McCain was not swayed like other politicians.

"...[I] don't care whether you threaten this man, whether you offer him money, however you try to approach him -- [whatever] sways most politicians, he won't have any of it. He believes what he believes and his mind can be changed if you have the facts..."

Maybe Burress met with someone other than John McCain? Or maybe Burrress is simply a moron.

"...[I] left there a changed man," says Phil. Ok, he's a moron.

Not only so, but Burress was pleased that, in the course of the meeting, Dr. Jack Wilke explained to McCain the moral and ethical problems related to human embryonic research in such a way that McCain could not possible support the federal funding of "embryo-destructive research."

Burress does not like Barack Obama. Barack Obama, says Burress is a "borderline idiot," and has a "scary" political record. He thinks "the best thing McCain can do is let Obama talk."

I wonder how long it will be before the MSM picks up on this meeting and McCain is renouncing the endorsement of Phil Burress and friends?

The Declaration of Independence a submission to God

According to the Christian right news outfit,, the American Declaration of Independence, according to one "scholar ... is more a submission to God than an assertion of rights."

Let's be right up front here. The man who said that, Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College in Michigan is no "scholar". He thinks it just "remarkable" that the Declaration of Independence contains four references to God.

"The posture of The Declaration of Independence is an appeal to heaven," says this "scholar." The Declaration puts forth God as "maker of the laws of nature and of nature's God - which makes him a legislator. He's mentioned as the supreme judge of the world - which makes him a judge. He's mentioned as divine providence - which makes him an executive. And he's mentioned as the creator -- which is like being a founder."

Oh, stop laughing.

For Dr. Arnn, all of this can mean only one thing: "...the power of government could only be rightly united in the hands of God." And he concludes that is " a submission [to God] at the same time as it is an assertion [to the King of England]."

Well, I guess you can make just about anything say anything you want if you try hard enough. Dr. Arnn knows full well that the framers of the Declaration of Independence were using the typical "nod-to-god" language of the time; that references to God in such a document are not "remarkable" at all; and that most of those involved in writing the Declaration were Deists who would would find the type of fundamentalist Christianity that casts a pall over our landscape today incomprehensible.

You can read the entire Declaration of Independence here and decide for yourself if this document should be thought of as "more a submission to God than an assertion of rights."

Bobby Jindal - a heartbeat away?

No one outside the McCain brain really knows, of course, and those who might have some inside information aren't talking about the person John McCain is most likely to pick as his vice presidential running mate. Several names have popped up in the press as possibilities, however, including Charlie Crist, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Bobby Jindal.

The vice presidency has gained status in recent years and it is a position that we should consider with great deliberation for one never knows what the future holds. Many people, myself included, believe Bush to be a horrendous president, but we also believe Dick Cheney would be worse. In fact, some folks are convinced that Dick Cheney has been one of the most important driving forces in the Bush administration; that Bush has, at times, been a mere figurehead, with the real power centered in Cheney.

While the role of the vice president is largely determined by the president, the fact is that the the vice president is only a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. On several occasions in our history, the president's death has led to the vice president moving up.

John McCain will be 72 years of age if elected. That is not really "old" by today's standards (some wags claim 70 is the "new 50), but it is still old enough that some of the body's inner workings are slowing down and wearing out. All of which means nothing other than that John McCain's age should also be factored into the presidential equation, if for no other reason that he won't get any younger and if elected wouldn't leave office until he was 76, unless he should seek another term and win, which would mean he could be president until he was 80.

One man's name has been cropping up with increasing frequency on McCain's "short list" for the vice presidential spot: Bobby Jindal.

Bobby Jindal is the Republican governor of Louisiana. Bobby Jindal is the right wing's wet dream. Rush Limbaugh has praised him, calling Jindal "the next Ronald Reagan." Bobby Jindal is the proverbial disaster waiting in the wings. We could, as a nation, hardly do worse than Bobby Jindal as vice president.

Admittedly, Jindal has an impressive resume. His real first name is Piyush and he was born 1971 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Punjabi immigrants who followed the Hindu religion. When a teenager, he converted to Roman Catholicism.

Jindal did well in school graduating magnu cum laude from Brown University with degrees in biology and public policy at age 20! Yale and Harvard both pursued him, but he accepted a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford where he earned a master's degree in political science.

Jindal exemplifies the fact that a world-class education does not necessarily translate into intellectual rigor or intellectual integrity.

For two years, Jindal worked at McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm which he left in 1996 to accept the job of secretary of Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals. He did what he was supposed to do, wiping out a huge deficit by "cutting per-beneficiary Medicaid spending and reducing the work force by 1000 employees." That should be a clue as to Jindal's attitude toward the least among us.

In 1998, Jindal was appointed as executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicine, which he left in1999 to become president of the University of Louisiana system. Two years later, Bush appointed him as assistant secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the DHS.

In 2003, Jindal ran for governor, but lost to Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic governor we watched blunder her way through the Katrina disaster. Jindal then ran for and won the congressional seat which had been held by David Vitter, (the escort services' best friend) who was elected a senator in 2004.

Jindal used Hurricane Katrina and the inept bureaucratic workings in Louisiana as a trigger to jump start another campaign for governor. He portrayed himself as the answer to the corruption that plagued the state of Louisiana, and like so many phonies pretended to aspire to bipartisanship.

We have recently reported on Jindal's praise of the Louisiana courts for allowing convicted rapists to be castrated. That's the good news. Jindal, according to The American Prospect, "strongly and openly opposes abortion (without exception, even in cases of rape and incest), supports teaching intelligent design in public schools, has proposed bans on both stem-cell research and flag-burning, and voted to a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman." We should also note that Jindal is homophobic and much opposed to gay rights.He promotes faith-based initiatives with no restrictions and favors prayer in the public schools.

Jindal wears his Roman Catholicism on his sleeve. He believes it is his Christian duty to promote ultra-right Christian positions as public policy. Michael Gerson, in a Washington Post article, reported that in a telephone interview Jindal said, "I'm proud of my faith. I believe in God, that Jesus died and rose. I can't divide my public and private conscience. I can't stop being a Christian, and wouldn't want to for a moment of the day."

Frank Cocozzelli, in an article at talk2action says that in the 1990s, Jindal published an article which argued, "The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their 'utterly depraved' minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin."

Jindal wrote elsewhere, "The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy."

Whew. This is what Gerson calls a "muscular Roman Catholicism." It's why I would call a medieval Christianity.

Many politicians are men and women of faith and their faith is fundamental to their values and their values impact their political beliefs and decisions. They stop short, however, of trying to translate those values into law, or impose those values upon the rest of the population. Thus a politician's values may lead her to oppose abortion, but she does not want to enact a law that would forbid all women the right to choose.

Jindal is not that kind of politician. The so-called "muscular Roman Catholicism" of which Gerson speaks operates from the point of view that Catholic values should be reflected by specific laws that relate to those values. Thus, Jindal will oppose abortion for any and all reasons. He will oppose gay rights because his church, in its majesty, has decided that gays are incomplete human beings (even though a goodly percentage of its leaders fall into that category!).

Jindals "muscular Roman Catholicism" even trumps his training in biology. He has bought into the creationist crap promoted by the Discovery Institute and is a supporter of creationist revisionism and/or the teaching of intelligent design in public schools! In justifying his position, he relies on talking points provided by the Discovery Institute and its minions. "The reality is there are a lot of things we don't understand...I think we owe it to our children to teach them the best possible modern scientific facts and theories..." blah, blah, blah. It's all right out of the Discovery Institute's handbook.

David Barton is a Christian nationalist, very influential in homeschooling circles and the far Christian right. Chris Rodda at talk2action says he "has long been pegged as a fraud and an historical revisionist by legitimate scholars, but this hasn't halted the spread of his lies."

Barton spreads his mythical version of American history via a variety of "discredited materials" used by homeschoolers, Christian high schools and colleges and in a number of public schools "via the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools course," which is best described as a collection of lies wrapped in the American and Christian flags. Even worse is that various members of Congress have used Barton's non-history to promote resolutions such as the one by Randy Forbes that called for an American religious history week.

In 2006, one candidate for public office helped by Barton was Bobby Jindal. Jindal, running for governor at the time, appeared on Barton's "WallBuildersLIVE!" radio show.

The weekend before the interview, Jindal (who had made several church campaign appearances with Barton) said:

"Let me tell you, Dave did a fantastic job -- went to three churches with us, just reminding us of our nation's history, our nation's heritage. You know, I listen to him. I learn something new on every Capital tour, at every presentation. The response was tremendous -- people just telling me that every single stop, every single church -- they said they learned so much."

Mr. Rodda describes the kinds of things Jindal "learned." He says Barton's American history is "pure, unadulterated BULLSHIT!"

You can read all of Mr. Rodda's article here.

The fact that Jindal is so easily taken in by a conman like David Barton is just plain scary. He seems cowed by religious authority. He seems to need religious authority. He doesn't ever question religious authority. His Catholic church is "right" by virtue of its being the Roman Catholic Church, the repository of God's teaching and the expression of God on earth.

But Jindal does not stop there. His faith is "muscular," which, again, means he sees that part of his political duty is to ensure that his faith is reflected in the laws of the land.

God makes him do it.

Do we really want another of these clowns near the Oval Office, a heartbeat away?