Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The "Biblical Family Values" Nightmare That Drives Perry, Bachmann, and Tea Party Politics

The "Biblical Family Values" Nightmare That Drives Perry, Bachmann, and Tea Party Politics

ABC's Primetime Nightline recently aired a segment featuring the Gil & Kelly Bates family — a conservative, Evangelical mega-family of twenty. The Bates, who are close friends of JimBob & Michelle Duggar of TLC's "19 and Counting" fame, hold to the extreme fundamentalist ideals of the growing "Quiverfull movement."

During the one-hour special, Gil, Kelly, and their children explained the family's lifestyle which, to all modern appearances, represents a throw back to the imaginary 60's-style "Leave It to Beaver" family combined with strict, Victorian Era sexual mores and the atavistic gender roles of ancient goat-herders. The Bates eschew all forms of birth control and adhere to the marriage model of the biblical Patriarchs — with Gil as family leader and Kelly as submissive "help meet." Kelly and the girls adorn themselves in modest, hand-sewn dresses, while Gil and his clean-cut sons teach bible study and participate in local Tea Party politics.

Aren't they lovely? Don'tcha wanna be just like them?

I sure did! I left home at 15 and embarked on a quest to recreate my long-lost perfect, happy family — my REAL courtly family, where I truly belonged. After a false start involving marriage at 16, a baby at 19, and divorce after seven years of abuse rivaling the most astonishing freak show acts Mom's circus family had ever performed — I remarried, found a "bible-believing" church, and worked hard within the Quiverfull counterculture to implement the best of the best biblical family values into our home life. I had six more children. I homebirthed, homeschooled, and home-churched. I submitted to my husband and joyfully sacrificed my time, energy and talents to build him up and help him to succeed. I published a "pro-life, pro-family" Christian family newspaper to inform and encourage other Christians to defend "Traditional Family Values."

In 2003, we were honored as Family of the Year at the Nebraska Family Council's "Salt & Light" awards. I'd finally made it! I had built my own Magic Kingdom where my husband reigned as King and I was his Queen, the children were our loyal subjects and we could all live happily ever after ...

Like the Bates family, we were the perfect picture of the "biblical family values" fantasy — an idealistic vision of big, happy families: devoted husband and wife surrounded by a passel of respectful, obedient children — we were all sweetness and smiles. It is this mesmerizing dream world which energizes and motivates Tea Party Republicans like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann to work tirelessly to implement the "pro-family" theocratic agenda into every aspect of American society: not only in politics, but religion, family, media, education, business and entertainment.

Fundamentalist Christians are convinced that contemporary American society is the World's Most Spectacular Display of hideously mutated, diseased and anomalous freaks. "Step right up folks!" the preacher yells, "and witness a grotesque parade of ho-mo-sex-uals, lesbians, Wiccans, radical feminists, godless liberals, secular humanists, and ..." (congregation gasps!) "Muslim extremists!!"

Simultaneously fascinated and horrified, respectable religious parents scramble to shield their innocent children's eyes and ears from the depravity and corruption of "The World." They homeschool and form special Chastity and Creation Science clubs designed to insulate and isolate their vulnerable young from the miscreants and most depraved elements of popular culture.

It's completely understandable and normal for preteens to create imaginary worlds — their own private, safe hideout where they can dream of nobility, of rising above and doing so much better than the clowns running the Big Top's Museum of Mutantstrosities. The grown-ups watch in silent, knowing amusement as kids disavow their relatives as "psychos" and "bozos."

But when otherwise responsible, Christian adults in recent years set out on a mission to create a radically distinct way of life based on "biblical family values," the resultant countercultural movement known as "Quiverfull" has become an all-too-real Hall of Mirrors horror show.

In my own life, perpetual pregnancies destroyed my health, and my indiscriminate acquiescence to my husband's every whim transformed him from a loving father into a tantrum-throwing tyrant. Burnout and disillusionment led to abuse, neglect, family disintegration and a particularly nasty divorce.

When the dust settled, I took a good look at myself in the mirror. I could no longer deny the strong family resemblance — I saw my mother in my own face staring back at me. After all those years of fighting and denial, I had to finally accept the fact that I really am one of them — I belong to these crazy people. I, too, am a conspicuous oddity — a bizarre spectacle and an embarrassment to my own noble children.

Funny thing is ... these days, I don't mind so much being associated with my misfit clan of circus freaks. Life experience has given me perspective and a deep appreciation for the inevitable realities and desperate circumstances which deformed and mutated Mom and the rest of us into shocking and extraordinary creatures worthy of society's disquietude and awe.

Black market adoption fantasies and youthful idealism are important wayposts on the journey to adulthood. Rebellion against blatant injustice, hypocrisy, moral compromise and the myriad of other common grown-up failure is a healthy manifestation of a kid's personal power and strong moral agency. Arrogant and annoying, yes — but in moments of truth we have to admit, the kid's got a point.

Society sucks. Bigotry, racism, inequity, corruption, greed, depravity, malevolence, and all manner of evil abound. Let's just face the fact that in many ways, the contemporary American social and political scene has devolved to become the World's Greatest Freak Show.

No wonder Tea Party Patriot families like the Bates and the Duggars escape into their own personal fantasyland.

Ironically, with maturity comes humility — along with a profound sense of connection and belonging to that wacky bunch of buffoons who share our DNA. We see our people with new eyes. Sure, Grandma's got a beard and Uncle Stan is a charlatan — Aunt Betty's such a lunatic, she may as well have two heads. But in the end, they're all we've got. That perfect, royal family whom we imagined searched frantically for us for years and never gave up hope that one day we would return to our true home? They're not real. Cousin Roger is real — never mind that he doesn't have a lick of sense and the only thing he's good for is shoveling elephant shit — he's the one who truly understands you, knows all about you, and loves you anyway.

Tea Party family values are the fundamentalists' desperate attempt to deny their own imperfections, vulnerability, and their inescapable mortality. Sure it hurts that they look down on us regular folk — those of us who make no pretense of actually having our acts together — they avoid being seen out in public with us, they disown us, and they shrink away in fear of catching our cooties.

But take heart — perhaps they'll grow up.

I did. Not saying I don't still sometimes get all starry-eyed and visionary over the possibility of influencing our society for the better — I've got a bit of spunk left in me and I'm doing what I can to stick it to The Man. But I no longer think of myself as qualitatively different or "other" than all the rest of my fellow human beings — my family. My freakish, crazy, wonderfully imperfect people.

I don't believe in God anymore, but I still have faith. I have hope and I trust that collectively, we're all gonna make it — we are learning from our mistakes and growing more compassionate. Our shared experiences make us wiser and I have confidence that better times are just ahead.
What are the differences between a cult and ultra right-wing conservative "Christians"? The difference between a cult the the twisted way conservatives pervert religion is so small as to be not worth getting into. What are the differences between the Taliban and right-wing pretend Christians. They do tend to have a different fashion sensibility. America doesn't want to go back to the good old days of 1812 when women and children were not much more than property, on earth to serve the whims of their white male masters.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Conservative and Traitor Dick Cheney Writes Dishonest Book of Revisionism

Conservative and Traitor Dick Cheney Writes Dishonest Book of Revisionism

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was given a multi-million contract to write a book about his political career. According to Cheney’s media hype, the book, called In My Time, will have “heads exploding all over Washington.” The Darth Vader of the Bush administration offers no apologies and feels no remorse. But peace activists around the country are stealthily gearing up to visit bookstores, grab a stack of books, and deposit them where they belong—the Crime Section.

Here are ten of Cheney’s many offenses to inspire you to move Cheney’s book, and to insert these bookmarks explaining why the author of In My Time should be “doin’ time.”

1. Cheney lied; Iraqis and U.S. soldiers died. As Vice President, Cheney lied about (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s (nonexistent) ties to the 9/11 attack as a way to justify a war with a country that never attacked us. Thanks to Cheney and company, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,000 American soldiers perished in a war that should never have been fought.

2. Committing War Crimes in Iraq. During the course of the Iraq war, the Bush/Cheney administration violated the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.

3. War profiteering. U.S. taxpayers shelled out about three trillion dollars for the Bush/Cheney wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—a major factor in our nation’s present economic meltdown. But Cheney and his cronies at Halliburton made out like bandits, getting billions in contracts for everything from feeding troops in Iraq to constructing the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan to building the infamous Guantanamo prison. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995-2000, leaving for the VP position with a $20 million retirement package, plus millions in stock options and deferred salary. Before the Iraq War began, Halliburton was 19th on the U.S. Army's list of top contractors; with Cheney’s help, by 2003 it was number one—increasing the value of Cheney’s stocks by over 3,000%.

4. Violating basic rights. Cheney shares responsibility for holding thousands of prisoners without charges and without the fundamental right to the writ of habeas corpus, and for keeping prisoners hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross. He sanctioned kidnapping people and simply rendering them to secret overseas prisons. His authorization of the arbitrary detention of Americans, legal residents, and non-Americans--without due process, without charges, and without access to counsel--was in gross violation of U.S. and international law. A fan of indefinite detention in Guantanamo, Cheney writes in his book that he has been “happy to note” that President Obama failed to honor his pledge to close the Guantánamo prison.

5. Advocating torture. Cheney was a prime mover behind the Bush administration's decision to violate the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and to break with decades of past practice by the U.S. military by supporting “enhanced interrogation techniques.” This led to hundreds of documented cases in Iraq and Afghanistan of abuse, torture and homicide. The torture included the practice known as "water-boarding," a form of simulated drowning. After World War II, Japanese soldiers were tried and convicted of war crimes in US courts for water-boarding. The sanctioning of abuses from the top trickled down, as the whole world saw in the photos from Abu Ghraib, becoming a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda and sullying the reputation of our nation.

6. Trying to prolong the Afghan war. Not content with the damage he caused as VP, Cheney continues to encourage more grist for the war machine. In his book he criticizes President Obama’s decision to withdraw, by September 2012, the 33,000 additional troops Obama sent to Afghanistan in 2009. He has also cautioned Obama not to pull out all the troops from Afghanistan at the planned date of 2014. “I don't think we need to run for the exits,” he told Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace.

7. Abusing executive privilege: Cheney used executive privilege to refuse to comply with over a dozen Congressional subpoenas related to improper firing of Federal attorneys, torture, election violations and exposing—for political retribution--the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative working on sensitive WMD proliferation.

8. Spying on us. Cheney was the mastermind behind the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program that spied on thousands, perhaps millions of American citizens on American soil. This massive government interference with personal phone calls and emails was in violation of FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), the Federal Telecommunications Act, and 4th Amendment of the Constitution.

9. Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. When Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, the company skirted the law against investing in Iran by using a phony offshore subsidiary. Once VP, however, Cheney advocated bombing Iran. "I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues," Cheney said in response to questions about whether the Bush administration should have launched a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities prior to handing over the White House to Barack Obama. Cheney thinks Obama is too soft on Iran, and has said that the only way for diplomacy with Iran to work is if Obama also threatens to bomb the country. Negotiations are “bound to fail unless we are perceived as very credible” in threatening military action against Iran, he said. It seems that wars with Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, plus drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, are not enough to satisfy Cheney’s war addiction. But wait, there’s more….

10. Favored bombing Syria—and North Korea—instead of negotiating. One of the key anecdotes in Cheney’s memoir is his recollection of a session with the National Security Council in 2007, when he advised Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site. “After I finished,” he writes, “the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.” Luckily, Cheney's advice was dismissed in favor of a diplomatic approach (although the Israelis bombed the site in September 2007). As for North Korea, in his book, Cheney calls former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice naive for trying to forge a nuclear weapons agreement with North Korea.
Conservatives like Cheney better at the very least give lip service to loving America. In most of the civilized world he would have tried and hung for treason. Yes, when you lie a nation into war and get thousands of Americans killed, maimed and crippled that makes you a traitor.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Three Economic Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law

Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law

Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about "Obama spending" and "Obama deficits" and how the "Stimulus" just made things worse. Solution: Here are three "reality-based" charts to send to him. These charts show what actually happened.

Bush-Obama Spending Chart -3rd chart down

Government spending increased dramatically under Bush. It has not increased much under Obama. Note that this chart does not reflect any spending cuts resulting from deficit-cutting deals.

Bush-Obama Deficit Chart -2nd chart down

Notes, this chart includes Clinton's last budget year for comparison.

The numbers in these two charts come from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2012. They are just the amounts that the government spent and borrowed, period, Anyone can go look then up. People who claim that Obama "tripled the deficit" are either misled or are trying to mislead.

The Stimulus and Jobs
Bush-Obama-Jobs-Chart -1st chart at top

In this chart, the RED lines on the left side -- the ones that keep doing DOWN -- show what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs every month, and it was getting worse and worse. The BLUE lines -- the ones that just go UP -- show what happened to jobs when the stimulus was in effect. We stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better. The leveling off on the right side of the chart shows what happened as the stimulus started to wind down: job creation leveled off at too low a level.

It looks a lot like the stimulus reversed what was going on before the stimulus.


More False Things

These are just three of the false things that everyone "knows." Some others are (click through): Obama bailed out the banks, businesses will hire if they get tax cuts, health care reform cost $1 trillion, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme or is "going broke", government spending "takes money out of the economy."

Why This Matters

These things really matter. We all want to fix the terrible problems the country has. But it is so important to know just what the problems are before you decide how to fix them. Otherwise the things you do to try to solve those problems might just make them worse. If you get tricked into thinking that Obama has made things worse and that we should go back to what we were doing before Obama -- tax cuts for the rich, giving giant corporations and Wall Street everything they want -- when those are the things that caused the problems in the first place, then we will be in real trouble.
Why doesn't the mainstream media explain these facts as simply and straight forward as these charts and a few paragraphs. besides leaning conservative, the media gets more eyeballs on the TV screen if they talk about the latest sex scandal or fall fashions. They could care less how informed the public is.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Is It True That Obama Went on a Big Spending Spree

Don't believe the Obama big spender hype - The GOP just can't handle the truth: Tax cuts, war and the financial crisis created our huge deficits

How many outright errors of fact can you spot in the following paragraph from an op-ed by Mitt Romney published this Monday?

[Barack Obama's] approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history. With its failed stimulus package, its grandiose new social programs, its fervor for more taxes and government regulations, and its hostility toward business, the administration has made the debt problem worse, hindered economic recovery and needlessly cost American workers countless jobs.

Let's see. We're at war in Afghanistan, so "peacetime" is dubious. Obama has cut taxes -- income taxes, payroll taxes, taxes for small businesses. Private sector economic forecasters say the stimulus increased GDP growth and kept the unemployment rate from rising higher. We could even range into the subjective, and argue that from the left side of the political aisle, Obama has been anything but hostile to business and hasn't done nearly enough to regulate the financial sector. And we could note, just for fun, that Obama's "grandiose" social program is modeled explicitly after the healthcare reform enacted by none other than Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. (And this guy, most political analysts think, poses the biggest threat to Obama's reelection!)

But nothing is more ridiculous than the notion that Obama is a "binge" spender. Paul Krugman rightfully calls this scurrilous accusation a "zombie lie." No matter how many times you kill it, whether by decapitation, a spike through the heart or immolation -- it just keeps coming back. It's enough to make you despair -- particularly when you consider how many more times we're going to hear this nonsense from Romney and the rest of the Republican presidential candidates from now until the last precinct closes on Election Day 2012.

But as long as the undead keep coming, we have no choice but to fight hellspawn with our own holy fire. So let's review the facts.

The current budget deficit is predominantly an outgrowth of the Bush tax cuts, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Medicare Part D and the financial crisis.

Here's the first thing to understand. Before Obama took office, before he was able to spend a single dime as president, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the 2009 deficit would be $1 trillion dollars. According to an analysis published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in June 2010, about half of that total -- $500 billion -- can be attributed to the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Another $400 billion was a direct result of the "changed economic outlook" -- the collapse of "tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps and other safety-net programs."

In the summer of 2009, the New York Times's David Leonhardt (recently awarded a Pulitzer prize for his economic coverage) conducted an indispensable analysis of the budget deficit for 2009. (By that point it was projected to hit $1.2 trillion; ultimately it reached $1.4 trillion -- in part because of stimulus spending and in part because the economy continued to get worse.) Leonhardt observed that since 2000, the year that Bill Clinton bequeathed George Bush with an $800 billion surplus, there had been a negative $2 trillion swing in the health of the government's finances. Crunching the numbers from a decade's worth of CBO reports, Leonhardt discovered:

The 2001 and 2007-2009 recessions accounted for 37 percent of the swing -- again, because of decreased tax revenue and automatically higher spending on social welfare.
Legislation signed by George Bush accounted for another 33 percent -- the tax cuts and Medicare Part D.

"Mr. Obama's main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies -- together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama -- account for 20 percent of the swing."

"About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama's agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas."

The CBPP includes a neat little chart in its analysis that brings home the long-term consequences of the decisions made by Bush and Obama. Yes, the stimulus added to the budget deficit in the short term, but over the next 10 years, its contribution to the ongoing deficit -- along with TARP and the Fannie-Freddie rescue -- is minimal. The real drivers of the deficit will continue to be the Bush tax cuts and the wars -- if both continue. The tax cuts alone will account for some $7 trillion of the additional national debt over the next 10 years. And the interest payments on the debt accrued simply to pay for the automatic safety-net response to the Great Recession will also continue making a meaningful impact for years to come, long after a full recovery.

Fiscal Chart - see above.

Obama, of course, bears some responsibility for continuing the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars -- but so do nearly every Republican legislator, and it's very difficult to imagine that Mitt Romney as president would have done anything differently. In fact, it's quite possible that the deficit would have gotten worse under Romney, because if he had decided to inject no stimulus at all into the economy, the downturn would likely have been worse, tax revenue would have declined even further, and social welfare spending would be even greater. And if any Republican president had attempted to slash spending in accordance with current party rhetoric, we'd be staring directly into the depths of Great Depression 2.0.

Also crucial to note: Obama's major new initiatives were either designed to be short term, such as the stimulus, or revenue neutral, such as healthcare reform. That's not something you can say about Bush's budget busters.

The budget deficits under Obama are big, there's no doubt about that. But the primary drivers of those deficits are a combination of decisions made by George W. Bush and the worst economic crisis in the United States in 80 years.
Why do conservatives keep spreading the lie that President Obama is a big spender? To distract from the fact they drove the economy off a cliff. Conservatives know they caused the recession by not keeping an eye on Wall St and by not paying for two wars. All the while insisting that we keep tax cuts for the richest who need them the least.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Republican Cult Worship - Rupert Murdoch Set To Air 9/11 Documentary Glorifying Bush; Producer Says He’s Not Interested In ‘Facts’

Republican Cult Worship - Rupert Murdoch Set To Air 9/11 Documentary Glorifying Bush; Producer Says He’s Not Interested In ‘Facts’

After spending over a decade promoting President Bush, the PATRIOT Act, and the Iraq War, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation appears to be up to the same tricks, this time with an hour-long promotional video about Bush’s leadership during the 9/11 attacks. Although News Corp. is perhaps best known for its Bush cheerleading through its Fox News subsidiary, the Bush documentary is airing on another News Corp. company with a better brand image, National Geographic.

The documentary has not aired yet, but is scheduled to come out a few days before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Early reviews of the program, however, paint Bush as a hero who discarded politics and his right-wing agenda once the planes hit the towers. The film also depicts Bush as a leader bent on capturing Osama bin Laden, no matter what:

“It’s not one of those moments where you weigh the consequences or think about the politics,” [Bush] adds. ”You decide. And I made the decisions as best I could in the fog of war. I was determined. Determined to protect the country. And I was determined to find out who did it and go get them.”

In reality, within hours of the 9/11 plane hijackings, Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began drawing up plans to launch a war in Iraq “even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.” Indeed, Bush aides quickly went to work undercutting the proposed commission to study the events leading up the 9/11, and despite the growing evidence linking the terrorist act with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda group, Bush never made bin Laden a priority. By January 2002, Dick Cheney told the press that bin Laden “isn’t that big a threat.” The next month, Bush said bin Laden was “not the issue.”

Will producer Peter Schnall critically, and accurately, explain to the public Bush’s actions during and after the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks? In a recent interview about the program, Schnall said he tried not to push “it too far” with the former president, and that he was “less interested in facts than how” Bush “was feeling”:

“He would only take it to so far,” Schnall tells Zap2it. “If I had pushed it too far, he might have shut down a bit more, and my goal was to get him to talk about those four or five days. I was less interested in facts than how he was feeling.”

News Corp. has a long and complicated relationship with the Bush administration. In addition to promoting the Bush political agenda for two terms on Fox News, former Bush aides have flocked to the corporation as employees (Bush’s top strategist and spokeswoman, Karl Rove and Dana Perino, are among the many Bush admin alumni seen every day on Fox News). Bush’s assistant attorney general Viet Dinh, the “chief architect” of the PATRIOT Act, is an influential board member of News Corp. now overseeing the investigation of the hacking scandal now embroiling the company.

But if there’s any doubt that News Corp. isn’t serious about its latest attempt at Bush hagiography, take a look at the publicity effort around the documentary. On Tuesday, Matt Dornic promoted a special viewing of the documentary on the FishbowlDC website. Dornic is a staffer for Quinn Gillespie, News Corp.’s lobbying firm and public relations agency in Washington, DC
Also a fact that Bin Laden, the man responsible for 9-11 was in Afghanistan, where Bush Squandered Victory to make Saddam a priority. Bush also had a chance to get Bin laden at Tora Bora but had already shifted many military sources away from capturing him. President Obama reconsitutted the CIA's Bin laden unit which eventually lead to Bin laden's death.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

America Hating Conservative Koch Brothers Puts Over 4 Million Americans in Danger

America Hating Conservative Koch Brothers Puts Over 4 Million Americans in Danger

Recent Greenpeace analysis of lobbying disclosure records reveals that since 2005, Koch Industries has hired more lobbyists than Dow and Dupont to fight legislation that could protect over 100 million Americans from what national security experts say is a catastrophic risk from the bulk storage of poison gasses at dangerous chemical facilities such as oil refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, and water treatment plants. Koch lobbyists even outnumber those at trade associations including the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute. Only the American Chemistry Council deployed more.

In 2010 Koch Industries and the billionaire brothers who run it were first exposed as a major funder of front groups spreading denial of global warming in a Greenpeace report, which sparked an expose in the New Yorker. Since then, the brothers have been further exposed as a key backer of efforts to roll back environmental, labor, and health protections at the state and federal levels. Through enormous campaign contributions, an army of lobbyists, and funding of think tanks and front groups, David and Charles Koch push their agenda of a world in which their company can operate without regard for the risks they pose to communities, workers, or our environment.

Today, in a new expose, Greenpeace has shown how Koch Industries has quietly played a key role in blocking yet another effort to protect workers and vulnerable communities - comprehensive chemical security legislation. The Report is called "Toxic Koch: Keeping Americans at risk of a Poison Gas Disaster."

Since before the September 11, 2001 attacks, security experts have warned of the catastrophic risk that nearly every major American city faces from the bulk storage of poison gasses at dangerous chemical facilities such as oil refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, and water treatment plants. Nevertheless, ten years later, thousands of facilities still put more than 100 million Americans at risk of a chemical disaster. According to the company's own reports to the EPA, Koch Industries and its subsidiaries Invista, Flint Hills, and Georgia Pacific operate 57 dangerous chemical facilities in the United States that together put 4.4 million people at risk.
But wait a minute these people run a business and employy people shouldn't they be able to do anything they want. In America we punish people who hurt other people, especially killers. The Koch brothers and their philsophy of conservatism says that killing some people is OK in the name of unregulated capitalism. Running a safe business might mean the Koch brothers might be worth 800 or 950 million instead of being billionaires. So not in the name of business or capitalism, but in the name of greed let them kill some Americans. Regular Americans would prefer the kind of good capitalism where greedy bastards like the Koch brothers make a few dollars less.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rupert Murdoch's Anti-American Fox News Wrong Again On The Global Temperature Record

Rupert Murdoch's Anti-American Fox News Wrong Again On The Global Temperature Record

Last night on Fox News' The Five, Greg Gutfeld claimed that the world was hotter in 1910 than it is now:

GUTFELD: Can I address something, Bob? You always bring up this streak, the last ten years was about one and a half degrees warmer than the climate of the 70's. So that means - and actually, they also say that it hasn't been this warm since 1910. So that means we're still not back up to the 1910 levels of heat.

We are far above the "1910 levels of heat" as can easily be seen from the global temperature record, which dates back to 1850. This chart shows how the global surface temperature each year differs from the 1961-1990 average:

As this chart from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration makes clear, the last decade was the warmest on record:

This isn't the first time Fox has had trouble reading the temperature data. Previously, Fox News' Sean Hannity falsely claimed 2009 was the "coldest year on record," and Fox guest Brian Sussman falsely claimed the "hottest decade in history was the 1930s."

The Five appears to be fast becoming Fox News' new home for climate change misinformation and mockery.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Monday, August 22, 2011

Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann Acting Like Anti-American Iranians

Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann Acting Like Anti-American Iranians

An article in the Texas Observer last month about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's relationship with followers of a little-known neo-Pentecostal movement sparked a frenzied reaction from many commentators: Dominionism! Spiritual warfare! Strange prophecies!

All the attention came in the weeks before and after "The Response," Perry's highly publicized prayer rally modeled on what organizers believe is the "solemn assembly" described in Joel 2, in which "end-times warriors" prepare the nation for God's judgment and, ultimately, Christ's return. This "new" movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, is one strand of neo-Pentecostalism that draws on the ideas of dominionism and spiritual warfare. Its adherents display gifts of the spirit, the religious expression of Pentecostal and charismatic believers that includes speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing and a belief in signs, wonders and miracles. These evangelists also preach the "Seven Mountains" theory of dominionism: that Christians need to take control of different sectors of public life, such as government, the media and the law.

The NAR is not new, but rather derivative of charismatic movements that came before it. Its founder, C. Peter Wagner, set out in the 1990s to create more churches, and more believers. Wagner's movement involves new jargon, notably demanding that believers take control of the "Seven Mountains" of society (government, law, media and so forth), but that's no different from other iterations of dominionism that call on Christians to enter these fields so that they are controlled by Christians.

....Christian Reconstructionists, and their acolytes of the Constitution Party, believe America should be governed by biblical law. In her 1995 book, "Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States," Sara Diamond describes the most significant impact of Reconstructionism on dominionism:

"the diffuse influence of the ideas that America was ordained a Christian nation and that Christians, exclusively, were to rule and reign." While most Christian right activists were "not well-versed in the arcane teachings" of Christian Reconstructionism, she wrote, "there was a wider following for softer forms of dominionism."

For the Christian right, it's more a political strategy than a secret "plot" to "overthrow" the government, even as some evangelists describe it in terms of "overthrowing" the powers of darkness (i.e., Satan), and even some more radical, militia-minded groups do suggest such a revolution. In general, though, the Christian right has been very open about its strategy and has spent a lot of money on it: in the law, as just one example, there are now two ABA-accredited Christian law schools, at Regent (which absorbed the ORU law school) and Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. There are a number of Christian law firms, like the Alliance Defense Fund, formed as a Christian counterweight to the ACLU. Yet outsiders don't notice that this is all an expression of dominionism, until someone from that world, like Bachmann, hits the national stage.

The complete article is at the link. Nothing could be more fundamentally anti-American than the organized attempt to undermine some of the basic rights spelled out in the US Constitution. We all have a right to worship as we please but than is a wall that separates church from government.

"Thomas Jefferson was a man of deep religious conviction — his conviction was that religion was a very personal matter, one which the government had no business getting involved in. He was vilified by his political opponents for his role in the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and for his criticism of such biblical events as the Great Flood and the theological age of the Earth. As president, he discontinued the practice started by his predecessors George Washington and John Adams of proclaiming days of fasting and thanksgiving. He was a staunch believer in the separation of church and state.

Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 to answer a letter from them written in October 1801. A copy of the Danbury letter is available here. The Danbury Baptists were a religious minority in Connecticut, and they complained that in their state, the religious liberties they enjoyed were not seen as immutable rights, but as privileges granted by the legislature — as "favors granted." Jefferson's reply did not address their concerns about problems with state establishment of religion — only of establishment on the national level. The letter contains the phrase "wall of separation between church and state," which led to the short-hand for the Establishment Clause that we use today: "Separation of church and state."

The letter was the subject of intense scrutiny by Jefferson, and he consulted a couple of New England politicians to assure that his words would not offend while still conveying his message: it was not the place of the Congress or the Executive to do anything that might be misconstrued as the establishment of religion."

To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.


The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
There is at least a little irony in that Perry, Bachmann, the dominionists and the rulers of Iran have one belief in common, that the government and religion should be one and the same.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Perhaps The Most Corrupt Member of Congress Darrell Issa (R-CA) Shuts Down Transparency in Government

Perhaps The Most Corrupt Member of Congress Darrell Issa (R-CA) Shuts Down Transparency in Government

Yesterday the House Committees on Government Oversight and Reform and Small Business held a joint hearing entitled, “Politicizing Procurement: Will President Obama’s Proposal Curb Free Speech and Hurt Small Business?” The irony of this title was not lost on us, nor most others. The hearing was ostensibly held to address a draft executive order currently being considered by the Obama administration that would require government contractors to disclose political contributions before receiving government contracts, something CREW strongly supports. For more background on the proposed executive order, see here. Taking a page out of his standard play book, however, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) once again used his power as head of the Oversight Committee to politicize the legislative process. This time he refused the request of Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) to allow the one witness who supports the administration’s draft executive order to testify.

It is no surprise the House Oversight and Government Reform and Small Business Committees would hold a hearing on this change in policy, even if quite frankly it is a rather modest step. But by vetoing the one witness requested by the minority – something CREW has experienced firsthand -- Chairman Issa revealed the true political motivation underlying the hearing – skewering the public record to support his, and his party’s, opposition to the executive order. Ironically, Chairman Issa is the co-founder of the Bipartisan Transparency Caucus and loves to tout how “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Yesterday “Mr. Transparency” simultaneously denied the public a truly informative hearing with diverse views on the proposal and turned reality on its head by – to quote Rep. Cummings – making sunlight the “infectant.”

Unchecked by any counterbalancing testimony, the committee members were free to spin and spew misinformation and fear mongering. One tired distortion heard repeatedly yesterday, for example, is that President Obama secretly wants to misuse the new disclosure information to create a “Nixonian” enemies list. President Obama has no role in the procurement process, and the draft executive order explicitly states that every stage of the contracting process must be “free from the undue influence of factors extraneous to the underlying merits of contracting decision making, such as political activity or political favoritism.” The notion that federal contracting officers would use the new disclosures required by the draft executive order to punish foes by awarding or withholding government contracts is absolute malarkey. In the extremely unlikely case that contracting officials would abuse their authority in this way, this draft executive order would allow the public to hold our public officials accountable.

As far as CREW is concerned, yesterday’s hearing only served to tarnish the integrity of the committee and therefore disserved the American public. We encourage you to watch Ranking Member Cummings’ opening statement where he effectively calls out the charade that yesterday’s hearing really was.(video at link)
Of course Issa wants less transparency in government. He is one of the few members of Congress who has not put his business holdings into a blind trust while he serves and he frequently votes on issues that directly effect his profits. You can contact Issa(R-CA) here and tell him you want more open, responsible and ethical government.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Does Michele Bachmann(R-MN) Keep Up With Current Events

Does Michele Bachmann(R-MN) Keep Up With Current Events

[Bachmann:] "It really is about jobs and the economy. That doesn't mean people haven't [sic] forgotten about protecting life and marriage and the sanctity of the family. People are very concerned about that as well. But what people recognize is that there's a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward. And especially with this very bad debt ceiling bill, what we have done is given a favor to President Obama and the first thing he'll whack is five hundred billion out of the military defense at a time when we're fighting three wars. People recognize that."

There's not much that Michele Bachmann isn't afraid of, and she's pretty darn sure that every single thing she's afraid of represents an imminent danger to the United States. Being afraid of the rise of the Soviet Union, though? That's pretty old school, what with the notable handicap of them not existing anymore.

I've long thought that there's a certain group of conservatives who took the breakup of the Soviet Union harder than the Soviets themselves did. It was a simpler time, after all: Sure, the entire world could end in the span of half a day, but politics was much more straightforward. All you had to do was hate the communists, and anyone who associated with the communists, and anyone who sympathized with communists, and anyone who you suspected might sympathize with communists, and anyone who proposed anything that, when looked at cockeyed, sounded a little damn communist to you.

The problem with worrying about the geo-political entity known as the Soviet Union raising up is that it ended in 1991. I guess it is too much to expect that a conservative who wants to be president is actually aware of such world changing events. So that they could identify the actual challenges facing the US and not imagined ones. Many people think of China as a communist country, but it has changed its economic model to what economists have been calling authoritarian capitalism. China owns most of America's debt. As a matter of fact Bush put his two wars on the Chinese credit card.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corrupt Republican of the Week - Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) Turns Over Congressional Authority to Financial Lobbyist

Corrupt Republican of the Week - Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) Turns Over Congressional Authority to Financial Lobbyist

Peter Haller, also known as Peter Simonyi, a former Goldman Sachs VP now working for Chairman Issa to block regulations on Goldman Sachs.

Has Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank lobbying firm with the power to subpoena and pressure government regulators? ThinkProgress has found that a Goldman Sachs vice president changed his name, then quietly went to work for Issa to coordinate his effort to thwart regulations that affect Goldman Sachs’ bottom line.

In July, Issa sent a letter to top government regulators demanding that they back off and provide more justification for new margin requirements for financial firms dealing in derivatives. A standard practice on Capitol Hill is to end a letter to a government agency with contact information for the congressional staffer responsible for working on the issue for the committee. In most cases, the contact staffer is the one who actually writes such letters. With this in mind, it is important to note that the Issa letter ended with contact information for Peter Haller, a staffer hired this year to work for Issa on the Oversight Committee.

Issa’s demand to regulators is exactly what banks have been wishing for. Indeed, Goldman Sachs has spent millions this year trying to slow down the implementation of the new rules. In the letter, Issa explicitly mentions that the new derivative regulations might hurt brokers “such as Goldman Sachs.”

Haller, as he is now known, went by the name Peter Simonyi until three years ago. Simonyi adopted his mother’s maiden name Haller in 2008 just as he was leaving Goldman Sachs as a vice president of the bank’s commodity compliance group. In a few short years, Haller went from being in charge of dealing with regulators for Goldman Sachs to working for Congress in a position where he made official demands from regulators overseeing his old firm.

It’s not the first time Haller has worked the revolving door to help out Goldman Sachs. According to a report by the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, Haller — then known as Peter Simonyi — left the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2005 to work for Goldman Sachs, then quickly began lobbying his colleagues at the SEC on behalf of his new firm. At one point, Haller was compelled to issue a letter to the SEC claiming he did not violate ethics rules. A brief timeline of Haller’s work history underscores the ethical issues raised with Issa’s latest letter to bank regulators:

– After completing his law degree in 2000, Haller was employed by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as an economist, and later with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Office of Enforcement.

– In April of 2005, Haller resigned from the SEC to take a job with Goldman Sachs. He soon began lobbying the SEC on behalf of Goldman Sachs.

– On September 2, 2009, Haller left Goldman Sachs to take a job with the law/lobbying firm Brickfield Burchette Ritts & Stone.

– In January of 2011, Haller was hired to work for Issa on the Oversight Committee. Under the supervision of Haller, Issa sent a letter dated July 22, 2011 to bank regulators (including the heads of the Federal Reserve, FDIC, FCA, CFTC, FHFA, and Office of Comptroller) demanding documents to justify new Dodd-Frank mandated rules on margin requirements for banks dealing in the multi-trillion dollar OTC derivatives market, like Goldman Sachs.

When he took over the chairmanship of the Oversight Committee this year, Issa dramatically shifted the committee’s focus away from its traditional role of investigating major corporate scandals. Instead, Issa has used the committee to merge the responsibilities of Congress with the interests of K Street and Issa’s own fortune.

In June of this year, ThinkProgress broke the story about Issa’s own complicated relationship with Goldman Sachs. We revealed that Issa purchased a large amount of Goldman Sachs high yield bonds at the same time as he used the Oversight Committee to attack an investigation into allegations that Goldman Sachs had systematically defrauded investors leading up to the financial crisis. This conflict of interests, along with our exclusive story about Issa’s earmarks benefitting his own real estate empire, received coverage in a recent piece by the New York Times.

We also broke a story last month revealing other revolving door conflicts within Issa’s staff. Peter Warren, Issa’s new policy director, maintains some type of financial contract with a student loan lobbying group he led last year, and received a bonus from the lobbying group before leaving to work for Issa. Since joining Issa’s staff, Warren and his colleagues have fought to weaken the recently created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency charged with overseeing student loans.

The new revelations about Peter Haller, however, raise even more significant ethical concerns than Peter Warren and other ex-lobbyists working for Issa. Why did Issa hire a high-level Goldman Sachs executive to work on stopping regulations on banks like Goldman Sachs? Haller’s direct involvement in the July letter brings Issa’s ability to lead the Oversight Committee — charged with conducting investigations on behalf of the public interest — into serious doubt.
Remember way back when - like two years ago - the tea bagger conservatives like Issa were playing the populist heroes who were made at Wall St for robbing the nation of $17 trillion dollars in wealth. As a result of Wall St's malfeasance and conservatives during the Bush era not enforcing regulation millions of Americans are out of work, have lost their homes or both. Now the fake populist conservatives like Issa won a majority in Congress America gets to see their true agenda. They're not looking out for the average American, they looking out for special interests using guys that change their names because their old names are tainted with corruption. It might be time to call, e-mail and fax Congress to start impeachment proceedings against Issa for using his authority to make money and protect his cronies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One of the Greatest Threats to Democracy The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Facilitating Corporate Influence Behind Closed Doors

One of the Greatest Threats to Democracy The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Facilitating Corporate Influence Behind Closed Doors

Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), corporations pay to bring state legislators to one place, sit them down for a sales pitch on policies that benefit the corporate bottom line, then push “model bills” for legislators to make law in their states. Corporations also vote behind closed doors alongside politicians on this wishlist legislation through ALEC task forces. Notably absent were the real people who would actually be affected by many of those bills and policies.

With legislators concentrated in one city, lobbyists descend on the conference to wine-and-dine elected officials after-hours, a process simplified by legislators’ schedules being freed from home and family responsibilities. Multiple Wisconsin lobbyists for Koch Industries, the American Bail Coalition, Competitive Wisconsin, State Farm, Pfizer, and Wal Mart were in New Orleans, as were lobbyists for Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Alliant Energy, and Johnson & Johnson. Corporations also sponsor invite-only events like the Reynolds American tobacco company’s cigar reception, attended by several Wisconsin legislators including Health & Human Services chair Leah Vukmir.

ALEC’s power lies not only in generating corporate-sponsored “model bills” for state legislators to make law, but that it facilitates multiple levels of influence-peddling. ALEC itself has a $7 million budget and 32 staffers. In addition to this budget, ALEC technically acts as an intermediary for about a million dollars in travel “scholarships” that pay for many legislators’ trips to ALEC meetings, with corporate funds for the scholarships held in trust by ALEC. With corporate “sponsorship” of ALEC meetings, a couple million dollars flow through ALEC to put on days of workshops, meetings, and festivities. (This does not account for the dollars corporations spend for lobbyists to prepare for and meet with ALEC legislators in pursuit of their legislative agenda, nor does it take into account any campaign contributions that might result from the relationships cultivated at ALEC meetings.)

Which is why ALEC National Chair and Louisiana Representative Noble Ellington told attendees at the beginning of the conference “when you see a sponsor, thank them” for their generosity and that “without them, we could not come close to doing the things we are about to do.”

Corporate-Sponsored Legislation

The legislative sausage is ground at the task force meetings, where a body of legislators and corporate lobbyists actually vote on proposed model legislation. The meetings were closed to the press and the public. While legislators can bring proposed bills to the meeting, “the majority of proposed model bills I saw came from corporations,” says Jeff Wright, a Florida teacher’s union member who paid to attend the conference to observe ALEC in action. As Task Force members discussed and voted on proposed legislation, in the sessions Wright observed “the corporations and think tanks absolutely controlled the debate,” he said. This does not mean corporate members always agree – Wright said a Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting included a dispute between online sellers like Amazon and brick-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy about taxing online sales.

“In order for model legislation to move forward,” says Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat who attended the ALEC meeting and wrote about it for the Progressive Magazine, “each task force must garner a majority of votes from each HALF. For example, if the legislator half likes an idea, but the corporate half doesn’t, the bill does NOT move forward,” which actually happened in a task force Rep. Pocan attended.

ALEC spokeswoman Raegan Weber notes that a piece of model legislation passed by the task force still must be approved by the 22-person Board of Directors, all of whom are legislators (and all of whom are Republicans.) Nothing that the legislative board votes on, however, gets to the board unless the corporate wing of each task force has voted in favor of it. The site launched by the Center for Media and Democracy in July demonstrates that over 800 bills and resolutions voted for by corporations have been ratified by the ALEC legislators selected for its board. ALEC’s National Chair, Louisiana Rep. Noble Ellington, told NPR’s Terry Gross that even if the public (and the press) are not allowed inside the task force and board meetings, “We represent the public, and we are the ones who decide. So the tax-paying public is represented there at the table, because I’m there.”

ALEC Members Making Laws for Unrepresented Demographics

At the 2011 ALEC meeting, Rep. Ellington was there, as were others who fit his demographic profile. Very, very few African-Americans or Latinos were present. “Wisdom can come from years, and it is not impossible to imagine aged white males being able to represent the interests of a diverse constituency,” said Rev. Dr. Willie Gable, pastor of the Progressive Baptist Church and President of the Inter-Denominational Ministry Alliance of New Orleans, where the ALEC conference was held (a city that is 67% African-American). “But too often legislators work in a vacuum, and have little experience with other populations in their state,” he said. Even if corporations are partnering with legislators who agree with (or can be influenced by) their interests or ideology, Rev. Gable continued, “if they are not bringing in, listening to, or considering the voices of a diverse public, they are not preparing legislation for the masses, but for themselves and corporations.”

The polling place restriction labeled as “voter ID” is one example of an ALEC initiative that predominantly affects those who were not represented at ALEC meetings. Like many other states in 2011, Wisconsin passed a bill earlier this year that echoes the ALEC legislation and will disproportionately impact people of color: more than half of Wisconsin’s African-American and Latino residents do not have a driver’s license or photo ID, but do have proof of residency that has traditionally been accepted at polling places. College students and the elderly will also be affected.

Offering a free ID does little to remedy these issues – the problem is not the cost of ID but the obstacles to obtaining it. States like South Carolina are finding that tens of thousands of largely African-American elderly residents don’t have the birth certificate necessary to receive an ID because they were born in their rural homes. In cities like Milwaukee with few Department of Motor Vehicles offices, acquiring an ID just so a person can vote requires taking a day off work and a long bus ride, a burden that leaders like Jesse Jackson have called akin to a “poll tax.”

ALEC’s Weber notes that even if a “model bill” is created without the input of certain stakeholders, it still must pass through the legislative process, at which point the non-corporate voices absent from the ALEC conference can be heard. But the Wisconsin experience suggests otherwise, with resident Nicole Schulte observing that “the fact that there is a superficial chance for public input [once a bill is introduced] makes no difference” when partisan politicians are determined to force through legislation despite public opposition. Schulte participated in hearings against Wisconsin’s ALEC-influenced Voter ID law, saying that “despite the legislature hearing from the public,” efforts to ameliorate the effect of the bill were thwarted in party-line votes against compromises and amendments.

Indeed, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, an ALEC alum and the 2011 recipient of ALEC’s highest honor, the “Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award,” repeatedly praised the power of obstinance, proclaiming to ALEC members that when legislating, “it pays to be stubborn.”

He added, “I don’t care what china we break in the process.”

Mary Bottari is the Director of the Center for Media and Democracy's Real Economy Project and editor of their site.
Individual Americans frequently feel powerless. That the gears of government have spun beyond their control, beyond anything they say. That have every reason to feel that way. The shadowy powers that be have taken the whole concept of passing laws into the backrooms of elite power brokers.

Monday, August 15, 2011

America Hating Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) Thinks All Americans Are Lazy and Shiftless

America Hating Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) Thinks All American Are Lazy and Shiftless

Right now, 14 million unemployed Americans are struggling to make ends meet. 44.4 percent of these Americans have been struggling without a job for six months or more. While Republican lawmakers continually put off their “jobs” agenda, many of these Americans receive much needed financial support from the federal unemployment benefits program. These benefits, unfortunately, will expire at the end of 2011.

GOP presidential frontrunner Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has been touting a “jobs” candidacy and emphatically insists that she could spur some economic recovery within the first three months of her presidency, if “not the whole turnaround.” Her powerhouse plan? Fire Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, repeal “Obamacare,” and cut taxes for the wealthy. Indeed, today on NBC’s Meet The Press, Bachmann reiterated that, to ensure “job creation,” Congress needs to cut the coporate tax rate from 34 percent to “something that is far more competitive.” But when asked whether extending the much-needed jobless benefits is part of her jobs agenda, Bachmann flatly rejected the idea. “Frankly we don’t have the money,” she said:

BACHMANN: I think we need to focus on more than anything is, what will lead to job creation. And what will lead to job creation is taking the United States down from about the top corporate tax rate in the world at 34 percent down to something that is far more competitive.

GREGORY: What about extending jobless benefits for people who are out of work. Do you think that’s a necessary step?

BACHMANN: I think it would be very difficult for us to do because we frankly don’t have the money. That’s the bottom line in the United States. We are now, according to Mark Stein, he wrote a book called “After America,” and in his book he says we are the brokest [SIC] nation history. He said we have gone from the biggest creditor nation to the biggest debtor nation in a very short period of time.

GREGORY: So no on extending jobless benefits.

BACHMANN: Right now I don’t think we can afford it.

Bachmann’s focus on the corporate tax rate to create jobs and spur the economy is, at best, ironic. Right now, corporations are sitting pretty on trillions in cash reserves. Corporate profits are at record highs. Still, Bachmann advocates for cutting the corporate tax rate down to nine percent, a policy that would cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion over ten years. According to the Tax Policy Center, a ten point reduction would cost $915 billion. Such a significant blow to the deficit may be justifiable if it resulted in job creation. However, as the non-partisan CBO noted, it doesn’t.

By contrast, an extension of jobless benefits for six months would cost $34 billion and will actually generate two dollars of economic growth for every dollar spent — not to mention the peace of mind it would provide to millions of jobless Americans. A fact, it seems, that Bachmann frankly does not seem to care about.
Yet Bachmann, like most conservatives, is a welfare queen. On at least 16 separate occasions, Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid. When conservative politicians are not applying for welfare they are complaining about how they are trying to get by on the $175 thousand they get paid per year, along with the government sponsored health care they receive. Maybe its time for conservatives to pack up and go start their own country. They don't seem to share the values on which America was founded and they actively work to make life miserable for regular Americans.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rick Perry's Close Ties to Radical American Taliban and Self-Proclaimed Prophets

Rick Perry's Close Ties to Radical American Taliban and Self-Proclaimed Prophets

AMY GOODMAN: Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas is expected to announce Saturday he’ll be entering the presidential race. Perry will make the announcement at a conference in South Carolina organized by Erick Erickson’s Perry is then scheduled to travel to New Hampshire, site of the first 2012 presidential primary, and then on to Iowa.

In 2000, Perry succeeded then-Governor George W. Bush, who resigned to become president. Perry went on to win three gubernatorial terms, in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Early Perry backers, at least presidential backers, have heralded him as being behind the so-called Texas economic miracle. This TV ad has already begun airing in Iowa.

JOBS FOR IOWA AD: What if we had a candidate for president with a real record of creating jobs, a conservative with proven leadership in tough times, the leader of a state that created more jobs in the past two years than the other 49 states combined, with no state income tax and no deficit, a decade of balanced budgets? What if we had a better option for president? We do. Rick Perry. Jobs for Iowa is responsible for the content of this advertising.

AMY GOODMAN: But many have questioned Governor Perry’s economic claims in Texas. The Pulitzer Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman pointed out recent economic data suggest the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, not quite up to New Jersey levels.

Questions have also arisen over Governor Perry’s close ties to the radical wing of the Christian evangelical movement. On Saturday, Perry helped organize and spoke at a controversial seven-hour Christian prayer rally in Houston called "The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis."

GOV. RICK PERRY: Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government. And as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us. And for that, we cry out for Your forgiveness.

AMY GOODMAN: Governor Perry, leading the prayer session. It drew 30,000 participants, received national press. Little attention was paid to the Christian evangelicals Perry worked with to organize the event.

The Texas Observer has just published an explosive new article titled "Rick Perry’s Army of God." It exposes how a group of radical Christians and self-proclaimed prophets from a little-known movement known as New Apostolic Reformation have been quietly pushing for Perry to run for president. The author of the article, Forrest Wilder, is a staff reporter at theTexas Observer. He’s joining us from Austin.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Forrest. Talk about this event that took place. And you were there. Describe what it was like.

FORREST WILDER: Well, the response was patterned after what’s "TheCall," and TheCall are events that are put on by a group by the same name out of Kansas City. They’re day-long events of prayer and fasting. They’re usually laced with pretty hardcore anti-abortion and anti-gay messages. There was a call recently where the leader of it, Lou Engle, called for a generation of martyrs. So, The Response, in its programming and its feel, was very similar to TheCall, and that’s largely because the folks that were organizing The Response, some of the primary organizers work for TheCall. So it was an explicitly not just Christian, but explicitly evangelical or fundamentalist-type rally—same kind of music, same sort of tone, same kind of themes that ran throughout the event, and a lot of, really, the same people that move in a certain circle on the religious right.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the people that Perry organized this event with, who they were, what they said. This was characterized in the mainstream media as very much a non-political event. You had a very different take on it.

FORREST WILDER: Well, as I write about in the article, the organizers and the endorsers of the event largely come out of what’s called the New Apostolic Reformation movement. And the founder of this movement, the sort of intellectual godfather, is a guy named Peter Wagner, and he’s termed it "the most radical change in the way of doing Christianity since the Protestant Reformation." Little bit of a grandiose statement, but it is really this movement that’s happening at the bleeding edge of evangelical Christianity in this country. And it wasn’t—it’s not really widely known, although it does have growing influence.

And I think one of the defining characteristics of it is this idea that there are modern-day prophets and apostles, that the prophets and apostles didn’t end in the Bible, and we have them now walking amongst us. And so, the leadership of the movement are self-proclaimed prophets and apostles. They hold themselves out as such, and they’re recognized as such by their followers. So this was, by and large, the set of individuals and organizations that were running The Response.

And, you know, another aspect of their sort of theology is this idea of the "Seven Mountains," and it’s a form of Christian dominionism. They’re not the only sort of tendency or movement within American Christianity that has a form of dominionism, but this one—this doctrine is kind of a little unusual. The Seven Mountains are basically the power centers of society, so government, family, media, arts and entertainment, education, and so on and so forth. And they believe that Christians, or a certain type of Christian, are to take control of the Seven Mountains and initiate, you know, godly government, biblical values, inject them into these institutions in preparation for the installation of the Kingdom of God on earth and Jesus’ return. So that’s kind of who Perry has thrown in with in this event.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to play another clip from the event. One official endorser of the Response prayer gathering was Cindy Jacobs, the self-declared Christian prophet. Earlier this year, she made headlines when she recorded a video declaring a connection between the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and the sudden death of thousands of blackbirds in Arkansas.

CINDY JACOBS: According to biblical principles, a marriage is between a man and a woman. So, we have to say, what happens when a nation makes a decision that is against God’s principles? Well, often what happens is the nature itself will begin to talk to us. For instance, violent storms, flooding. There’s something interesting we have been watching. Let’s talk about this Arkansas pattern and say, could it be a pattern? We’re going to watch and see. But the blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. Well, the governor of Arkansas’s name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," by a former governor, this was proposed, Bill Clinton.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Cindy Jacobs. Who is she?

FORREST WILDER: Cindy Jacobs is sort of one of the kind of leading prophets within the movement. She’s based out of Dallas. She frequently issues these type of prophecies. And they’re taken very seriously by those who follow her and admire her. I mean, she is sort of, you know, a rock star in this sort of prophetic circuit. She endorsed—she was an endorser of The Response, although I did not see her appear on stage. She certainly didn’t say anything. I don’t know if she was actually there, though some of the other prophets and apostles were.

And some of their prophecies are very specific. I mean, she has also said that she predicted the tsunamis in Japan, and not just that, but that that happened because the Japanese hadn’t sufficiently come to Christianity, so, in essence, God was punishing them. Peter Wagner, the founder of the movement, for example, when he was in Germany in 2001, God acted through him to end mad cow disease in Germany. So they actually think that they have some supernatural abilities, at least as God works through them, to do things in what they call "the natural." The natural is basically the real world. So they—the supernatural and the natural, for them, are constantly interacting, and they’re kind of the bridge between the two.

AMY GOODMAN: Forrest Wilder, let me play another clip. It’s Governor Rick Perry speaking at The Response prayer gathering in Houston. And talk about, afterwards, the significance of Perry’s use of language.

GOV. RICK PERRY: Blow the trumpet in Zion. Declare a holy fast. Call a sacred assembly. Gather the people. Consecrate the assembly. Bring together the elders. Gather the children. Gather the mothers, nurturing their children at the breast.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Governor Rick Perry, who will be announcing for president, we expect, on Saturday. Forrest Wilder, what exactly is he saying?

FORREST WILDER: He’s reading from the Book of Joel, and it’s a part of the Bible, Old Testament, that is very important to the New Apostolic Reformation movement. In fact, the basis for The Response comes straight out of Joel chapter 2. And the fundamental idea here is that, just as in—was described in the Book of Joel, they have an agricultural collapse, they have drought, they have economic woes. They have—they’re having all sorts of problems as a society, and the solution to that is to get on one’s knees and repent to God, who, if your repentance is sufficient enough, will act and, you know, restore the natural good order of things.

There’s a lot of things actually going on in that particular clip that you played, of—one, note that people are, you know, sort of cheering, cheering it on, just this reading of Scripture, very energetically, because there’s all sorts of meaning that’s loaded up into that, into Joel and those particular verses. For example, "Blow the trumpet in Zion." This is a Christian Zionist—a phrase that’s very important to them. For example, John Hagee—he’s one of the leading Christian Zionists, he has a megachurch down in San Antonio—is very involved in, you know, sort of right-wing foreign policy stuff around Israel. That’s a verse that you hear a lot at their events, at their church services, at their political events. And it’s also a popular song. It’s kind of the main—I don’t know if it’s the name of the song, but that’s the theme that runs throughout the song, "Blow the trumpet in Zion." And it’s about—you know, it’s about the role that Israel plays in their End Times eschatology and the role that the Jews play in fulfilling biblical prophecy and ultimately the return of Christ and a thousand-year reign.
Unlike most governments of the past, the American Founding Fathers set up a government divorced from any religion. Their establishment of a secular government did not require a reflection to themselves of its origin; they knew this as a ubiquitous unspoken given. However, as the United States delved into international affairs, few foreign nations knew about the intentions of the U.S. For this reason, an insight from at a little known but legal document written in the late 1700s explicitly reveals the secular nature of the U.S. goverenment to a foreign nation. Officially called the "Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary," most refer to it as simply the Treaty of Tripoli. In Article 11, it states:

"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 tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan 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."

The preliminary treaty began with a signing on 4 November, 1796 (the end of George Washington's last term as president). Joel Barlow, the American diplomat served as counsel to Algiers and held responsibility for the treaty negotiations. Barlow had once served under Washington as a chaplain in the revolutionary army. He became good friends with Paine, Jefferson, and read Enlightenment literature. Later he abandoned Christian orthodoxy for rationalism and became an advocate of secular government.