A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Norman Mailer


Our Politicians Lack The Courage To Fix A National Tragedy


Even 40 years later, Americans consider Vietnam to be a tragedy. And they should. Far too many were wounded and killed in that war -- a war that never should have been fought by this country. We have even built a memorial to the brave soldiers who died in that conflict.

But Americans kill each other with guns in far larger numbers than the deaths and injuries of the Vietnam War. In the last 10 years, 750,000 Americans were wounded by guns (while 304,000 were wounded in Vietnam), and 130,000 were killed by guns (while 58,000 soldiers were killed in Vietnam) -- and that number has recently risen to about 30,000 gun deaths a year. Why is this not considered a national shame, and a tragedy worthy of action by our political representatives?

The answer of course, is that the gun manufacturers have a very effective lobbying organization -- the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA used to be an organization that promoted gun safety and reasonable regulation, but no more. Now the organization is just the propaganda arm of American gun manufacturers, and opposes any effort to reasonably regulate guns -- even efforts to keep guns from being sold to convicted criminals. They paint any responsible effort to do that as a government effort to confiscate guns from honest and responsible citizens.

That propaganda campaign isn't even remotely true, but it has been effective. The truth is that NO ONE -- not the president, not the Democrats, and not even most liberals -- want to take guns away from responsible and honest Americans (or prevent them from buying guns). What we do want is to make it as hard as possible for criminals (including convicted domestic abuser) and the dangerously mentally ill to buy a gun.

One way to do this, a way that is both constitutional and reasonable, is to close the loopholes in the background check law required of gun purchasers. About 40% of all gun sales in the United States are done without any background check at all. That is ridiculous, because it means that any criminal can legally purchase a gun anytime they want (without having to resort to the difficult and dangerous world of underground illegal gun sales). There is no legitimate excuse for allowing that.

Polls have shown that between 75% and 90% of the public would support closing the loopholes in the background check law. So why haven't our politicians acted to do what the public wants done? Because too many of them have sold out to the NRA for political donations, and too many more are afraid the NRA will spend large sums to defeat them on election day. In short, they are political cowards.

How many more massacres like that at Newtown (Connecticut) is it going to take to give our politicians some backbone? I shudder to think.

An Inexcusable Mindset

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Bernie Sanders Announces His Candidacy - Again

(This photo of Bernie Sanders is from CNN.)

On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. This is no surprise to anyone. Back on April 30th, he told everyone he was a candidate for that nomination (and started collecting campaign funds). Tuesday was just the "official" announcement.

I know a lot of my progressive friends like to think Democrats will flock to the Sanders candidacy, and that he will be able to raise the money to run an effective campaign. I doubt it though. Currently Hillary Clinton is extremely popular among Democrats nationwide, and is sitting on a huge campaign chest.

Will Sanders' official announcement start that flood of voters to support him. Probably not. The chart below shows the results of the three national polls that have been taken on the Democratic race since Sanders' first announcement -- a YouGov Poll, a Public Policy Polling survey, and a Fox News Poll. That announcement didn't cost Clinton any support, and this one won't either.

If Sanders is to have any chance in this race, it will be in the Democratic debates. Almost immediately after Sanders announced in April, Clinton generously agreed to participate in three debates. I expect millions of Democrats nationwide will be watching those debates, and that will be Sanders' best chance to win them over.

But Hillary Clinton's popularity is not Sanders' only problem. Martin O'Malley says he will announce his own candidacy next Saturday -- and he will be trying to win over the same liberals that Sanders is going after. If they split that vote, it will be bad news for both of them.


GOP Debate

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Many States Use Taxes To Steal From Poor And Give To Rich

(The cartoon above is by Joel Pett in USA Today.)

The following post is by Sara Goddard at the Wonk Wire:

Christopher Ingraham: “We don’t usually think as much about the impacts of state taxes on inequality. A team of researchers at the Federal Reserve recently released a paper exploring the topic and found something, if not surprising, discouraging.”
Many states “actually undermine the federal government’s anti-inequality measures.”
“In essence, they take from the poor and give that money to the rich. I’ve mapped each state’s contributions to inequality reduction below. States in green have tax policies that build on the federal tax code, making the gap between rich and poor smaller. States in purple have tax laws that undo federal measures to address inequality.”
“In some cases, the magnitude of the effects are quite large. The tax code of Tennessee, for instance, decreases federal anti-inequality efforts by nearly one-third.”
“‘State-levied taxes, on average, work to exacerbate income inequality.’ There are a number of factors driving this, including state-level gas taxes, which tend to be regressive (everyone pays the same rate) and serve to moderately increase inequality.”

The Smart One

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

Have The Courage To Stand Up


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Job Creation


A Story Of Privilege




This cartoon story is by Toby Morris of Auckland. I found it at Liberals Unite. I think it sums up the problem of privilege pretty well. We're supposed to be a country offering equal opportunity for all citizens. We're not -- and it's time we fixed that.

It Works For The 1%

Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Whatever Happened To Our Anti-Trust Laws?

(The image above was found at pinterest.com.)

The following post was written by Robert Reich over at his own blog. Needless to say, I agree with every word he has written.

Last week’s settlement between the Justice Department and five giant banks reveals the appalling weakness of modern antitrust. 
The banks had engaged in the biggest price-fixing conspiracy in modern history. Their self-described “cartel” used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language to manipulate the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency exchange market. It was a “brazen display of collusion” that went on for years, said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 
But there will be no trial, no executive will go to jail, the banks can continue to gamble in the same currency markets, and the fines – although large – are a fraction of the banks’ potential gains and will be treated by the banks as costs of doing business.
America used to have antitrust laws that permanently stopped corporations from monopolizing markets, and often broke up the biggest culprits. 
No longer. Now, giant corporations are taking over the economy – and they’re busily weakening antitrust enforcement. 
The result has been higher prices for the many, and higher profits for the few. It’s a hidden upward redistribution from the majority of Americans to corporate executives and wealthy shareholders. 
Wall Street’s five largest banks now account for 44 percent of America’s banking assets – up from about 25 percent before the crash of 2008 and 10 percent in 1990. That means higher fees and interest rates on loans, as well as a greater risk of another “too-big-to-fail” bailout.
But politicians don’t dare bust them up because Wall Street pays part of their campaign expenses. 
Similar upward distributions are occurring elsewhere in the economy. 
Americans spend far more on medications per person than do citizens in any other developed country, even though the typical American takes fewer prescription drugs. A big reason is the power of pharmaceutical companies to keep their patents going way beyond the twenty years they’re supposed to run.
Drug companies pay the makers of generic drugs to delay cheaper versions. Such “pay-for-delay” agreements are illegal in other advanced economies, but antitrust enforcement hasn’t laid a finger on them in America. They cost you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year.
Or consider health insurance. Decades ago health insurers wangled from Congress an exemption to the antitrust laws that allowed them to fix prices, allocate markets, and collude over the terms of coverage, on the assumption they’d be regulated by state insurance commissioners.
But America’s giant insurers outgrew state regulation. Consolidating into a few large national firms and operating across many different states, they’ve gained considerable economic and political power.  
Why does the United States have the highest broadband prices among advanced nations and the slowest speeds? 
Because more than 80 percent of Americans have no choice but to rely on their local cable company for high capacity wired data connections to the Internet – usually Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, or Time-Warner. And these corporations are among the most politically potent in America (although, thankfully, not powerful enough to grease the merger of Comcast with Time-Warner). 
Have you wondered why your airline ticket prices have remained so high even though the cost of jet fuel has plummeted 40 percent? 
Because U.S. airlines have consolidated into a handful of giant carriers that divide up routes and collude on fares. In 2005 the U.S. had nine major airlines. Now we have just four. And all are politically well-connected. 
Why does food cost so much? Because the four largest food companies control 82 percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing. 
Monsanto alone owns the key genetic traits to more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted by farmers in the United States, and 80 percent of the corn. 
Big Agribusiness wants to keep it this way. 
Google’s search engine is so dominant “google” has become a verb. Three years ago the staff of the Federal Trade Commission recommended suing Google for “conduct [that] has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation.” 
The commissioners decided against the lawsuit, perhaps because Google is also the biggest lobbyist in Washington.
The list goes on, industry after industry, across the economy.
Antitrust has been ambushed by the giant companies it was designed to contain.
Congress has squeezed the budgets of the antitrust division of the Justice Department and the bureau of competition of the Federal Trade Commission. Politically-powerful interests have squelched major investigations and lawsuits. Right-wing judges have stopped or shrunk the few cases that get through. 
We’re now in a new gilded age of wealth and power similar to the first gilded age when the nation’s antitrust laws were enacted. But unlike then, today’s biggest corporations have enough political clout to neuter antitrust. 
Conservatives rhapsodize about the “free market” and condemn government intrusion. Yet the market is rigged. And unless government unrigs it through bold antitrust action to restore competition, the upward distributions hidden inside the “free market” will become even larger.

Holding Up

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson in The Philadelphia Daily News.

Principles


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day - A Time To Remember

(Image is from c3iopscenter.com.)

"Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren." -- Howard Zinn

Violence


Reality TV

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ben Carson Wins Southern Conservative Straw Poll


This last weekend about 1,500 Southern conservatives met in Oklahoma City for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. They heard from numerous GOP presidential hopefuls -- and about two-thirds of them voted for their favorite in the SRLC's Straw Poll.

Ben Carson was the winner in that straw poll, garnering over a quarter of the vote in a 16-person field. Carson got 25.4% of the vote, while Scott Walker finished second with 20.5% and Ted Cruz was third with 16.6%. Everyone else (including supposed front-runners like Bush, Rubio, and Huckabee) finished far behind the top three.

This does not mean Carson (or the other of the top three) will get the nomination. But it does show us that Southern Republicans are not happy with establishment candidates. They want an extremist, and the more extreme the better.

Some of you may be surprised that a black man would win a Southern straw poll. You should't be. Southern racists didn't hate all Blacks -- only the ones who wanted to be equal with Whites. They were perfectly happy with "Uncle Tom's" (Blacks who supported and worked for the status quo -- White superiority).

And Ben Carson is the king of the Uncle Tom's. Carson hates President Obama, and blames him for the racial problems in the U.S. -- and actually said Blacks were happy with their place in this country until President Obama stirred them up. He would be a disaster as president.

GOP Science

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Public Says Art Is Important - But Is Unwilling To Support It


I admit up front that I have no artistic ability at all. Hell, I have trouble drawing stick figures! But I love art, and I consider it to be extremely important. And I believe a society without art, or one in which art is censored, is a failed society -- and cannot last. Art gives us beauty, it exposes truths, and it allows us to view the world in a different way.

So I was initially happy when I saw this new YouGov Poll (done on May 14th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a 3.9 point margin of error). The survey showed that 51% of Americans think art is necessary to live a well-rounded life (which is something we all should be trying to do).

But then I read some of the other survey results, and I was very disappointed. Even though they say art is important, a majority are unwilling to pay to make that art more accessible to everyone. Half of the population said they would be unwilling to pay an extra $5 a year in taxes to make art more accessible to everyone (while only 34% said they would). That's terrible! I don't know if it reflects an incredible ignorance or selfishness -- but it certainly doesn't reflect well on our country. If art is truly important (and I believe it is), then we should be willing to pay a few dollars to make it accessible to everyone.

And then we have the results of another of the survey questions -- which words would you use to describe the world of art today? The most common answer was expensive (given by 47% of the respondents). Only 9% said art was affordable.

Now I will admit that the art of past masters (like Van Gogh, Picasso, and others) can be very expensive -- but that is a very tiny percentage of all the incredible art that is out there for us to enjoy (and much of it can be viewed inexpensively in art museums). There is a whole world of art that is available for a very reasonable price. Just visit your local galleries, or college student art shows, or find current artists on the internet. They are making some incredible art that will simply blow you away -- and it is affordable. But if even that is beyond your budget, there are prints and reproductions that can be had for only a few dollars.

Art is important, and we should all include it in our lives. Make time to go to art museums, and buy what you can afford for yourself. It will make you a better and more well-rounded person -- and if enough of us do that, it will make us a better society.



Race-Baiter ?

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

The Iraq War Was Not A Mistake - It Was A Crime


If there is anything good about another Bush running for president (Jeb Bush this time), it is that it seems to have re-ignited discussion about the Iraq War -- a discussion this country has been avoiding. I think most people now think it was a mistake for Bush/Cheney to have invaded Iraq. They are wrong -- it was a crime. It has long been recognized among civilized nations that invading another country is a criminal act, even if that country poses a danger to your own (and Iraq posed no danger to the U.S.).

This is what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has to say:

Surprise! It turns out that there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago.

But many influential people — not just Mr. Bush — would prefer that we not have that discussion. There’s a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

Well, let’s not — because that’s a false narrative, and everyone who was involved in the debate over the war knows that it’s false. The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war’s opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself — literally before the dust had settled — Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. “Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] ...sweep it all up things related and not”; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld’s aide.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, “were made” by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire. Did the intelligence agencies wrongly conclude that Iraq had chemical weapons and a nuclear program? That’s because they were under intense pressure to justify the war. Did prewar assessments vastly understate the difficulty and cost of occupation? That’s because the war party didn’t want to hear anything that might raise doubts about the rush to invade. Indeed, the Army’s chief of staff was effectively fired for questioning claims that the occupation phase would be cheap and easy.

Why did they want a war? That’s a harder question to answer. Some of the warmongers believed that deploying shock and awe in Iraq would enhance American power and influence around the world. Some saw Iraq as a sort of pilot project, preparation for a series of regime changes. And it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that there was a strong element of wagging the dog, of using military triumph to strengthen the Republican brand at home.

Whatever the precise motives, the result was a very dark chapter in American history. Once again: We were lied into war.

Now, you can understand why many political and media figures would prefer not to talk about any of this. Some of them, I suppose, may have been duped: may have fallen for the obvious lies, which doesn’t say much about their judgment. More, I suspect, were complicit: they realized that the official case for war was a pretext, but had their own reasons for wanting a war, or, alternatively, allowed themselves to be intimidated into going along. For there was a definite climate of fear among politicians and pundits in 2002 and 2003, one in which criticizing the push for war looked very much like a career killer.

On top of these personal motives, our news media in general have a hard time coping with policy dishonesty. Reporters are reluctant to call politicians on their lies, even when these involve mundane issues like budget numbers, for fear of seeming partisan. In fact, the bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud, the more hesitant the reporting. And it doesn’t get much bigger — indeed, more or less criminal — than lying America into war.

But truth matters, and not just because those who refuse to learn from history are doomed in some general sense to repeat it. The campaign of lies that took us into Iraq was recent enough that it’s still important to hold the guilty individuals accountable. Never mind Jeb Bush’s verbal stumbles. Think, instead, about his foreign-policy team, led by people who were directly involved in concocting a false case for war.

So let’s get the Iraq story right. Yes, from a national point of view the invasion was a mistake. But (with apologies to Talleyrand) it was worse than a mistake, it was a crime.

(NOTE -- The photo above of the Bush brothers is by Larry Downing for Reuters, and was found at Salon.com.)

Birther Hypocrisy

Political Cartoon is by Chan Lowe in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Un-American Businesses


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bible


Ireland Votes To Legalize Same-Sex Marriages


This is a big deal. Only about 22 years after legalizing homosexuality in Ireland, the voters of that country voted to also legalize same-sex marriages. And it wasn't a close vote either. Those voting to allow same-sex marriages scored a big victory.

YES (62.1%) 1,201,607 votes
NO (37.9%) 734,300 votes

I am happy for the gay/lesbian couples in Ireland, and proud of the Irish people -- and I have to admit it makes me a little prouder of my own Irish heritage. What they actually did was vote to amend their constitution. As amended, Article 41 of their 1937 Constitution now reads "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.".

Having said that, I must also say that I am glad our own constitution cannot be amended that easily. Anything that can be accomplished with a majority vote, can be overturned by a future majority vote. And I believe constitutional rights are too important to be subjected to a majority vote. Rights should never be subject to the whims of a majority of voters.

Fortunately, it is a much more difficult process to amend the U.S. Constitution -- and that's a good thing, because it protects those rights contained in that constitution. I believe same-sex marriages will be legal throughout the United States very soon, and that will happen as a defense of constitutional rights -- not an amendment to those rights.

I say this because of two reasons. First, the Supreme Court, in the Loving decision, has already declared marriage to be a constitutional right. Second, the Fourteenth Amendment establishes clearly that all citizens are guaranteed the same rights under the law. If marriage is a right, as the court has ruled, then bans against marriages by same-sex couples cannot be constitutional. The LGBT community deserves the same rights as all other American citizens.

Jesus (GOP version)

Political Cartoon is by Matt Bors at Daily Kos.

The Texas "Pastor Protection" Bill Is Just Political Theater

(This image of a pastor performing a same-sex wedding is by Adithya Sambamurthy and was found at cirnoline.org.)

The Texas legislature, in its imminent lack of wisdom, has passed a new bill -- and the governor is expected to sign it into law. It is called the "Pastor Protection Act", and its purpose is to insure that no pastor will be forced to perform a same-sex wedding if it goes against their religious beliefs. The law has a couple of exceptions -- if the pastor has a for-profit business open to the public (like a Wedding Chapel) or the pastor holds a government office (like Justice of the Peace).

This bill accomplishes absolutely NOTHING! No pastor is currently forced to perform any wedding they don't wish to perform (except for the two reasons listed above -- acting as a businessman or a government official), and a Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex weddings would not change that. In fact, many pastors already exercise this religious freedom (refusing to perform marriages for many reasons). They refuse because of age, race, religion, and sexual preference -- and that is not going to change. The religious freedom provision of the U.S. Constitution protects this.

And no one wants that changed. There are plenty of loving ministers willing to perform same-sex marriages -- as well as businesses and government officials.

So, why did the legislature pass this bill, since it accomplishes nothing? The answer is that it was just an exercise in political theater. They know the bill changes nothing -- but they also know it will play well to the ignorant bigots opposed to same-sex weddings, and will give the appearance that they have done something to further that bigotry. It is propaganda designed to insure right-wing Republicans can get re-elected -- especially those in districts full of evangelicals and teabaggers.

Brothers

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

No Religion Has A Monopoly On Terrorism


A lot of christians (and their right-wing political representatives) want people in this country to believe a lie -- that islam is a violent religion that produces terrorists, while christianity is a peaceful religion that has no terrorists. The truth is that both religions have extremists who are willing to use violence to spread their religious beliefs. In fact, all religions have the capability of producing this kind of extremism.

And for those of you that don't think there is any christian terrorism, just peruse the photo below of a christian terrorist group that has existed in the United States for over 150 years. Note that they are celebrating their hatred under christian crosses.


Over at Raw Story, there is a list of six other christian terrorist groups (as named by the Southern Poverty Law Center). Here are their names and a brief description:

1. The Army of God
A network of violent Christianists that has been active since the early 1980s, the Army of God openly promotes killing abortion providers—and the long list of terrorists who have been active in that organization has included Paul Jennings Hill (who was executed by lethal injection in 2003 for the 1994 killings of abortion doctor John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett), John C. Salvi (who killed two receptionists when he attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1994) and Eric Rudolph, who is serving life in prison for his role in the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996 and other terrorist acts. Rudolph, in fact, has often been exalted as a Christian hero on the Army of God’s website, as have fellow Army of God members such as Scott Roeder (who is serving life without parole for murdering Wichita, Kansas-based abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009), Shelley Shannon (who attempted to kill Tiller in 2003) and Michael Frederick Griffin (who is serving a life sentence for the 1993 killing of Dr. David Gunn, an OB-GYN, in Pensacola, Florida).
Although primarily an anti-abortion organization, the Army of God also has a history of promoting violence against gays. And one of the terrorist acts that Rudolph confessed to was bombing a lesbian bar in Atlanta in 1997.
2. Eastern Lightning, a.k.a. the Church of the Almighty God
Founded in Henan Province, China in 1990, Eastern Lightning (also known as the Church of the Almighty God or the Church of the Gospel’s Kingdom) is a Christianist cult with an end-time/apocalypse focus: Eastern Lightning believes that the world is coming to an end, and in the meantime, its duty is to slay as many demons as possible. While most Christianists have an extremely patriarchal viewpoint (much like their Islamist counterparts) and consider women inferior to men, Eastern Lightning believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth in the form of a Chinese woman. But they are quite capable of violence against women: in May 2014, for example, members of the cult beat a 37-year-old woman named Wu Shuoyan to death in a McDonalds in Zhaoyuan, China when she refused to give them her phone number. Eastern Lightning members Zhang Lidong and his daughter, Zhang Fan, were convicted of murder for the crime and executed in February. In a 2014 interview in prison, Lidong expressed no remorse when he said of Shuoyan, “I beat her with all my might and stamped on her too. She was a demon. We had to destroy her.”
Eastern Lightning’s other acts of violence have ranged from the killing of a grammar school student in 2010 (in retaliation, police believe, for one of the child’s relatives wanting to leave the cult) to cult member Min Yongjun using a knife to attack an elderly woman and a group of schoolchildren in Chenpeng in 2012. Christian groups are not exempt from Eastern Lightning’s fanaticism: in 2002, cult members kidnapped 34 members of a Christian group called the China Gospel Fellowship and held them captive for two months in the hope of forcing them to join their cult. Although mainly active in the communist People’s Republic of China, Eastern Lighting has been trying to expand its membership in Hong Kong.
3. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)
The mainstream media have had much to say about the Islamist brutality of Boko Haram, but one terrorist group they haven’t paid nearly as much attention to is the Lord’s Resistance Army—which was founded by Joseph Kony (a radical Christianist) in Uganda in 1987 and has called for the establishment of a severe Christian fundamentalist government in that country. The LRA, according to Human Rights Watch, has committed thousands of killings and kidnappings—and along the way, its terrorism spread from Uganda to parts of the Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. The word “jihadist” is seldom used in connection with the LRA, but in fact, the LRA’s tactics are not unlike those of ISIS or Boko Haram. And the governments Kony hopes to establish in Sub-Saharan Africa would implement a Christianist equivalent of Islamic Sharia law.
4. The National Liberation Front of Tripura
India is not only a country of Hindus and Sikhs, but also, of Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics and Protestants. Most of India’s Christians are peaceful, but a major exception is the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT). Active in the state of Tripura in Northeastern India since 1989, NLFT is a paramilitary Christianist movement that hopes to secede from India and establish a Christian fundamentalist government in Tripura. NLFT has zero tolerance for any religion other than Christianity, and the group has repeatedly shown a willingness to kill, kidnap or torture Hindus who refuse to be converted to its extreme brand of Protestant fundamentalism.
In 2000, NLFT vowed to kill anyone who participated in Durga Puja (an annual Hindu festival) And in May 2003, at least 30 Hindus were murdered during one of NLFT’s killing sprees.
5. The Phineas Priesthood
White supremacist groups don’t necessarily have a religious orientation: some of them welcome atheists as long as they believe in white superiority. But the Christian Identity movement specifically combines white supremacist ideology with Christianist terrorism, arguing that violence against non-WASPs is ordained by God and that white Anglo Saxon Protestants are God’s chosen people. The modern Christian Identity movement in the U.S. has been greatly influenced by the Ku Klux Klan—an organization that has committed numerous acts of terrorism over the years—and in the 1970s, new Christian Identity groups like the Aryan Nations and the Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) emerged. Another Christian Identity group of recent decades has been the Phineas Priesthood, whose members have been involved in violent activities ranging from abortion clinic bombings to bank robberies (mainly in the Pacific Northwest). On November 28, 2014, Phineas Priesthood member Larry Steven McQuilliams went on a violent rampage in Austin, Texas—where he fired over 100 rounds at various targets (including a federal courthouse, the local Mexican Consulate building and a police station) before being shot and killed by police.
6. The Concerned Christians
One of the ironic things about some Christianists is the fact that although they believe that Jews must be converted to Christianity, they consider themselves staunch supporters of Israel. And some of them believe in violently forcing all Muslims out of Israel. The Concerned Christians, a Christianist doomsday cult that was founded by pastor Monte “Kim” Miller in Denver in the 1980s, alarmed Colorado residents when, in 1998, at least 60 of its members suddenly quit their jobs, abandoned their homes and went missing—and it turned out there was reason for concern. In 1999, Israeli officials arrested 14 members of the Concerned Christians in Jerusalem and deported them from Israel because they suspected them of plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims. One likely target, according to Israeli police, was Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque—the same mosque that was targeted in 1969 (when a Christianist from Australia named Denis Michael Rohan unsuccessfully tried to destroy it by arson) and, Israeli police suspect, was a likely target in 2014 (when Adam Everett Livix, a Christianist from Texas, was arrested by Israeli police on suspicion of plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem).

CEO / Worker

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at farleftside.com.

From George Carlin


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Foundations


U.S. Public Is Now More "Liberal" On Social Issues

 For years, the Republicans had Americans convinced that "liberal" was a dirty word, but that seems to be changing -- at least when it comes to social issues. This doesn't really surprise me. Anyone who has looked at the polls about same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, relations toward Cuba, and other liberal social issues, could see that the public had moved radically toward the liberal positions. It's just nice to know that the public is no longer afraid of the word liberal when discussing these issues.

But when it comes to economic issues, the public still is not ready to call themselves liberal (see chart below). I think this is more a perception than a reality though. They have yet to shake off the GOP myth that liberals are big spenders, while conservatives are fiscally responsible -- even though this has been shown to be untrue in the last couple of decades.

I believe (and polls have shown) that a significant majority of the public actually agrees with the liberal position on many economic issues -- like protecting and expanding Social Security, protecting Medicare, raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on the rich, helping the poor and disadvantaged, helping the unemployed, making corporations pay their fair share of taxes, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, etc.

I expect that perception to change though, and catch up with the reality -- especially if the congressional Republicans continue to protect the rich while punishing everyone else, and the Democrats continue to pursue policies that puts the bottom 90% first.

These charts were made from a new Gallup Poll -- done between May 6th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,024 adults, with a margin of error of 4 points.


Runaway Train

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Do These GOP Candidates Now Regret These Pictures ?









The man in these pictures with Republicans presidential hopefuls (Bush, Cruz, Huckabee, Jindal, Paul, Perry, Santorum, and Walker) is Josh Duggar. At the time, Duggar (along with his parents and siblings) was the star of the TV "reality" show 19 And Counting, and the executive director of the christian hate group Family Research Council. The candidates were obviously trying to score points with christian bigots.

Duggar was flying high for a while there, but an expose by intouchweekly.com has ended that. They revealed that Duggar was guilty of molesting several children (including some of his siblings) a few years ago -- and they had the proof to prove their allegation. Allegations that his "christian" parents helped to cover up.

The parents said they had sent him to a facility so he could receive counseling to overcome his "problem". That was a lie. They actually sent him to stay with a friend of the family out of town, and he received no counseling at all. They also said they reported his criminal behavior to the police, but they did that only after being sure the statute of limitation on his crimes had expired. In other words, they made sure he got no negative action because of his molesting children.

Duggar has now confessed his crimes to People Magazine. And he has resigned his position with the Family Research Council. He is trying to pass off his crimes as something in his past, which has been now magically cured through prayer. I have to wonder though -- can child molesters really be cured through nothing but prayer?

I also wonder if the presidential hopefuls pictured above with Duggar regret having their picture taken with him -- a self-confessed child molester. At least one doesn't -- Mike Huckabee. Huckabee said Duggar made a mistake, and has been forgiven. I beg to disagree -- it wasn't a mistake, but a criminal acts (and repeated several times).

Will any of the other candidates be willing to make a statement about Duggar, or these pictures. I doubt it. I think they'll just remain silent (and be thankful they weren't the only one to make this mistake).

(NOTE -- All of these pictures were found at Addicting Info.)

----------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE -- Ted Cruz has now spoken -- and proved that he is not just a fool, but a dangerous fool. He would have us believe that consensual and loving acts between gays are worse than molesting children (a crime). We must make sure this idiot never lives in the White House.