Sunday, August 31, 2014

How Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Recruiting for Armed and Unregulated Militias

by Nomad




After an close call at the Texas border between Border Patrol guards and armed militias, isn't time we should start asking who is in charge? When it comes to leadership, Governor Rick Perry has been an excellent recruiter for armed and dangerous vigilante groups.


The Brownsville Incident
"Land's sakes, that's a good way to get your head blown off!" That's what somebody should have warned one lucky militia member with more bullets than brain matter.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, a US Border Patrol agent near Brownsville Texas mistook a member of an armed militia for an illegal intruder on Friday.
It was apparently a close call.    
Omar Zamora, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that the agent was chasing several suspects through an area of thick brush near the Rio Grande on Friday afternoon when he came upon a militia member holding a shotgun or rifle.
After the patrol agent fired several rounds, the militia member, reportedly, threw down his weapon immediately (no doubt wetting himself about that time). Fortunately nobody on either side was injured. 
Somebody nearly learned the limits of his Second Amendment rights the hard way.

The identity of the man was not released to the public and it isn't clear whether the Cameron County Sheriff will press criminal charges.  
Zamora did not identify the patrol agent and said it was not clear what organization the militia member belonged to. He was standing on private property at the time of the incident.
Clearly  it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. And the next time state and federal border patrol encounter armed groups, things could easily be tragic.

Border Vigilantes On Call
Indeed, there were unheeded warnings.
Last July, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  declared that the agency does not "endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences."

According to a Houston Chronicle article, armed militia groups along the Texas border have grown to more than 10 active "teams" from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley,
These groups which included Oathkeepers, Three Percenters and Patriots, began organizing and recruiting as the hysteria began over the influx of immigrant children crossing the border.
Other groups may include
  • Bolinas Border Patrol, 
  • Central Valley Militia,
  • Independent Citizens Militia, 
  • Alpha Team, 
  • Bravo Team, 
  • FOB Harmony, 
  • Operation Secure Our Border: 
  • Laredo Sector, 
  • O'Shanessy's Team, 
  • the 77's and 
  • Camp Geronimo
Clearly this is a problem Governor Rick Perry has not addressed. (Perhaps he is afraid to cross them?)

Barbie Rogers is the founder of the Patriots Information Hotline which has been instrumental in organizing  and finding new members for the militias. According to Rogers, many of the groups are stationed on ranch land with permission from the owners.  

She has called upon the Governor to send even more Texas National guard personnel to defend the border. She also says to Rick Perry that "if cost is an issue" to "call the militia. They will come if you call them."
As one militia leader said:
“We have patriots all across this country who are willing to sacrifice their time, money even quit their jobs to come down and fight for freedom, liberty and national sovereignty.”
Whether Perry knows it or not, he has already called up the armed gangs.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kentucky Kickback: How the Olmsted Dam Project Exposed Mitch McConnell's Hypocrisy on Government Spending

by Nomad

Though McConnell now says he is dead set against any more government shutdowns, Kentucky voters have every reason to be a little dubious.

After all, in the last shutdown, Senator McConnell was able to parlay the last one into what one conservative group called a "boondoggle" sticking with an eye-watering $3 billion bill for taxpayers.


Back in October 2013 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were pitted against each other at the negotiation table, in an attempt to work out some kind of compromise to end the 16-day-long government shutdown. The Republicans had refused to increase the debt ceiling in an attempt to roll back Obamacare- or Affordable Care.

Despite the usual talk about limiting Big Government spending, McConnell managed to slip a provision into the debt ceiling bill on the sly that included nearly $3 billion for a dam project.
A provision in the funding bill includes $2.918 billion in funding to the Army Corps of Engineers to install locks as part of the Olmsted Dam and Lock Authority Project on the Ohio River.
That was in fact an increase in the $1.5 billion funding that Congress had authorized several years earlier.

The Dam that Ran Away
According to an investigation by the St. Louis Post Dospatch, the Olmsted dam project has run way over budget since it was first proposed back in 1988. 
A Post-Dispatch review of thousands of pages of documents and more than two dozen interviews reveal a project plagued by cost overruns, delays and engineering challenges stemming largely from the corps’ stubborn insistence on an innovative construction method that met its match in the unruly Ohio River.
It was originally given a budget of $775 million (that's not accounting for inflation). According to the builders, the price tag has soared to an estimated $ 3.1 billion dollars. (So the McConnell deal in effect doubled the funding.)

This project- if it is ever finished- will be the largest and most expensive inland water navigation installation ever built in the United States. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has called the whole project a "boondoggle’ and in an unusually clever turn of phrase said that it was a case of "one of these things where we're damned if we do, damned if we don't." According to Paul, as expensive as it has become, we have no choice but to plow ahead. 

With cost soaring for Olmsted project, Rep. Ed Whitfeld, a Republican from Kentucky, who had ushered through the House of Representatives critical funding for project in 2009, was even more blunt back. By 2011, he was calling the project "a complete failure."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Arkansas, the Ebola Virus, and the License to Lie

by Nomad

When the town of Harrison, Arkansas decided to cancel a planned visit by a delegation from Ghana, was it just ignorance about Ebola or old-fashioned racism?

Lately a lot of people from the Far Right have been making some pretty irresponsible and ignorant remarks about Ebola. It's not just hysteria. Actually, it's a symptom of something worse- an outright betrayal of the public trust. 


Africa and Ebola in Perspective
Sarah Palin might not realize it but Africa is not a country. It is a continent and a mighty large one at that. Africa covers a full six percent of the Earth's total surface area and over 20  percent of the total land area. But then geography - along with any other subject you wish to name- isn't really Palin's forte.  

As the second most populated continent, Africa has a population of around 1 billion people. Depending on who you ask, there are 47 countries on the African continent, (53 if you count some of the islands off the coast.)  Of those 47 nations, only five of them have had reports of the much-discussed, much-feared disease known as Ebola.

As scary as it is, the deaths and the infection rates from the Ebola virus are not very impressive. The disease has up to now claimed more than 1,400 lives and infected over a thousand more across West Africa. 
Dreadful, terrible. And yes, it is better to do something before the situation gets any worse. Now is the time to act.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Key to Happiness and the Death of the American Dream

by Nomad

A recent study on happiness can tell us why Americans are so angry with Washington. It has, the study suggests, been a long time coming.


According to a study highlighted in Psychology Today, researchers from University College London have discovered, after studying more than 18,000 people from all over the world, what really makes people happy. One key factor, they concluded, comes down to what we expect and how strongly we expect it. They were even able to derive an equation to predict the factors that created happiness.

Dr. Robb Rutledge, a cognitive and computational neuroscientist and lead author of the study,
“Life is full of expectations — it would be difficult to make good decisions without knowing, for example, which restaurant you like better. It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower. We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness
But, according to Rutlege, that's only half of the story. Sometimes happiness comes solely from the expectation itself. When some people play the lottery, the expectation of winning and the plans of what they would do with the winnings is more than enough to keep people playing week after week. This is true when those expectations are known to be false or based on fantasy.

Using MRI scans, the researchers were even able to track the place in the brain where our happiness originates. They found that setting expectations and receiving the pay off trigger a release of a the pleasure hormone, dopamine, which excited those areas of the brain.
So, the researchers seem to suggest that having high hopes is one way to achieve short term happiness but having realistic expectations is more important to long term happiness. 

The American Dream and the Happiness of Fantasy
The findings on the surface might seem a little obvious. At least the results of the study fits pretty squarely with conventional wisdom about keeping your expectations low.

However, on a social and political level, there are some interesting implications. 
There are things that Americans have tended to believe to the core. One of those articles of faith is the American Dream. Some have argued that that dream is dead. The expectation that life will forever improve, that social mobility is possible if only one works harder and that you too can rise out of poverty by virtue of your ambition and your intelligence, all that is now forever lost. 

If the American Dream is truly dead, then America is going to be a particularly unhappy place to live. Especially for the middle class. The poor have learned from grim experience to expect less and many have been forced to rely on social programs. The rich tend to have their expectations met and can use the system to guarantee it. However, it is the middle class that will not so easily adjust to the downgrading of our dreams.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Frederick Douglass and the Hidden Truth about Slavery

by Nomad

A letter written while former slave Frederick Douglass toured England reveals a truth about the insults and attacks aimed him. What was the mindset of those that use this kind of language?

His observation gives us an insight into a half-hidden truth about slavery and the age that followed.


Exciting Hatred and Jealousy
The quote in  the meme above comes from a letter sent to the abolitionist and newspaper mogul Horace Greeley in 1846. It had been sent from Great Britain, where Frederick Douglass was giving a series of anti-slavery speeches and recounting his own history. 

Douglas' purpose for his trans-Atlantic journey was to lay bare the evils of slavery before the British people.
Slavery exists in the United States because it is reputable, and it is reputable in the United States because it is not disreputable out of the United States as it ought to be, and it is not so disreputable out of the United States as it ought to be because its character is not so well known as it ought to be.
In calling out the sins of America, both North and South, by indicting those that stood by hypocritically, he was subtly pointing out the British role as well. 

Using every possible rhetorical device, Douglass, in his farewell address to the British, pointed out how the Christians in England had been "hoodwinked" when American evangelicals alleged "that their peculiar circumstances make it a matter of Christian duty in them to hold their slaves." 

He warned the British "that slavery takes refuge in the churches of the United States " and for them not to be misled by the excuses the Americans had offered about slavery. 
He went still further:
The fact is, the whole system, the entire network of American society, is one great falsehood, from beginning to end. I might say, that the present generation of Americans have become dishonest men from the circumstances by which they are surrounded.
From the period of the first adoption of the constitution of the United States downward, everything good and great in the heart of the American people— everything patriotic within their breasts—has been summoned to defend this great lie before the world. They have been driven from their very patriotism, to defend this great falsehood.
*   *   *   *
There are, for a historian, some interesting points in the Greeley letter. In it, he referred to his numerous critics in the New York press who condemned him for being "a runaway slave" (as if there were some merit or nobility in remaining a slave.) 
As Douglass wrily noted, "There's no pleasing some people." (That's something President Obama has had to learn the hard way.)


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Desolation Row: Scenes from the Syrian Civil War

by Nomad

Scenes of destruction in Syria demonstrates what national suicide looks like.


Here are some images of the devastation in the three-year Syria Civil War. In addition to this appalling destruction and the deaths of over 191,000, it has sparked one of the biggest refugee crises since WWII.
The UN has recently released a report on the Syrian Civil War. The number of dead had to be revised from an earlier UN figure. Navi Pillay, the U.N.'s top human rights official told the press:
Tragically it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict."


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fastening The Shackles: How the Militarization of the Police was Prophesied a Century Ago

by Nomad


Progressive reformers and anti-imperialists from a century ago warned us about what happens when a nation uses its military to establish an empire. Today, with the militarization of the police force around the country we are watching their warnings playing out right before our eyes.


Some effects are more predictable than others. If you do that, this will happen. That is also true for nations and societies. Take the militarization of the American police force.

Over a hundred years ago, high-minded progressives were warning that the nation which relies on military for its empire-building would suffer some drastic unintended consequences. It would, without any doubt, lead to the kind of police force that was counter to anybody's concept of liberty. Those chickens, as they say, would inevitably come home to roost.

In 1900, for instance, William Jennings Bryan espoused that view. In a speech on American imperialism, he said that when a nation freely violates the human rights of other nations it would be no time at all when it turns its lawlessness on its own people. 

Bryan said:
If there is poison in the blood of the hand it will ultimately reach the heart.
Scouring the archives, I found this stunning quote by the long-forgotten American reformer and author, Ernest Howard Crosby. Though his career as a reformer was short- only the last ten years of his life- he earned a fine reputation for his anti-militarist and anti-imperialist writings. 
(You can find Crosby's complete biography here.)

When he died of pneumonia in 1907, there was hardly a mention of his passing. That fact prompted the feminist, anarchist, atheist Emma Goldman to write:
Oh, if he had been a puller of strings in the murky business of politics, an unscrupulous bare-faced parvenu, a successful thief of the toil and sweat of the poor, the columns of the major newspapers of the lying money press would have been unanimous in their sing splendid paeans to his virtues..
They said nothing: no one seemed to have noticed that a great intellect and noble heart had been still forever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are Gov Rick Perry's Indictments Just the Tip of the Iceberg?

by Nomad

Texas Governor Perry's indictments may be the tip of the iceberg if one investigative writer's theory is correct.


A New York Times bestselling author and Emmy winning former TV news correspondent, James Moore, offers a some important background to the Rick Perry indictments in a recent blog post.
Moore suggests there's a lot more to this story than meets the eye.

The narrative widely promoted by the mainstream media runs something like this: The Texas governor has been indicted for using some high pressure tactics to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign. 

That move came, so the story goes, after Lehmberg was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The police report shows blood alcohol content at three times the legal limits.
However, as Moore observes in his article, drunk driving - for which there is absolutely no excuse- is not something that Rick Perry cared too much about in the past.
Two other Texas D.A.s were arrested for DUI during Perry’s tenure in office and he spoke not a discouraging word about their indiscretions.
When it came to Lehmberg, it was a completely different story  According to Perry, the governor eliminated the $7.5 million dollar budget that Lehmberg managed for the Public Integrity Unit (PIU) because “the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.”  

Moore thinks it's important to look at the details a little closer.

Martin Luther King on the Futility of Hating the Haters

by Nomad

A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that matching hate with hate, violence with violence, is not the solution. 

I saw this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. and thought it deserved a little more attention. In my opinion, what he said is the essence of Christian doctrine as preached by Jesus. (Nevertheless, we hear a lot of hate speech from people claim to be Christian.)
In Chapter six from the Book of Luke, it says:
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you....
In Matthew we also see:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 
To resist matching hate for hate must be the hardest advice to follow. I am not sure whether most of us are up to that task. I suppose the underlying idea is that love is an irresistible force. I hope that's true. But the idea goes beyond that. It is also a warning that hate is a contagion that can infect even the purest angels among us. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Security without Liberty: The Militarization of American Police

by Nomad

After the September 11 attacks, the American public was quite willing to make a trade off: the exchange of some of their constitutional rights and liberties in the name of security. Over the years, the level of police militarization has not decreased in comparison to the threat. If anything it has increased.

Americans have suddenly woken up to the fact that when you trade liberty for security, you end up with neither.


If there is one good thing to come out of the events in St. Louis, it is the increased attention that is now being paid to the wholesale militarization of the police. It is a subject we have covered several times in this blog.

Matt Apuzzo from the New York Times recently wrote an article which noted that in the Obama era:
“police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”
The result is that police agencies around the nation possess military-grade equipment, turning officers who are supposed to fight crime and protect communities into what look like invading forces from an army. And military-style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year.
The article also adds that there is a racial element too:
Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that “American policing has become excessively militarized through the use of weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield” and that this militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.”
Journalist Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides us with information about the police force there. 
(This article is reprinted with permission.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Prohibited Person: What Happens If Texas Governor Rick Perry Becomes a Convicted Felon

by Nomad

Here's a quick peek into what Governor Perry's life might be like if he is convicted on felony charges.


It's a post title I never thought I'd write, that's for sure.

By now most people have heard the news that Texas governor Rick Perry has been indicted for abuse of power after carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors. Of course the most serious result of any conviction would be hard time in prison. A conviction on those charges carries with it a maximum punishment on the first charge is five to 99 years in prison. The second is two to 10 years.

While the charge and the possible punishments are not something about would dismiss lightly, nobody should be foolish enough to think that a conviction is a sure thing, of course.
This is, after all, Texas.

The possibility that Perry will ever walk down "Broadway" in an orange one-piece and state-issued bo-bos is fairly remote. However, supposing the judicial system can withstand the enormous political pressure that will doubtless be exerted, and Perry is actually convicted of these felonies, he might find life a little less lovely.
Even without any time in the Big House.
There are other legal limits imposed on a convicted felon For example he will no longer be allowed to serve on a federal grand or petit jury jury, according to Texas and federal laws.
Big Whoop, right? But that's the least important restriction. Let's take a look some others.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Reagan Quote: Setting the Record Straight

by Nomad


Buried in the past post was a quote by Reagan and I think it is worth highlighting. It's a quote that many on the Right have used in a number of way unrelated to the subject that Reagan was referring to.
I made this meme to set the record straight.

Reagan Unions

If a right wing troll should ever challenge you to cite you sources, send him to this transcription of Reagan's Labor Day Speech at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey on September 1, 1980.

Why Elaine Chao, Wife of Mitch McConnell, Could Help Sink his Re-election Bid 3 /3

by Nomad


Here is the final installment in the series on Ms. Elaine Chao, wife of Senator Mitch McConnell and former Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush.

In this post we shall be looking at how under Ms. Chao, the regulatory authority of Department of Labor was systematically dismantled by conservative policy. The results were both predictable and devastating.


To view Part One
To view Part Two


Mining Safety under Ms. Chao

One agency that the Department of Labor oversees is the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) which administers the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety Act of 1977.
It is an important responsibility.
MSHA is authorized to force mining companies to comply with safety and health standards. Its goal is "to eliminate fatal accidents, to reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents, to minimize health hazards, and to promote improved safety and health conditions in the nation's mines." 

A kind of OSHA for the mining industry.
At the end of Elaine Chao's tenure as Secretary of Labor, MSHA came under fire for its generally lax attitude to mining safety. According to Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress,
"I think you've got people embedded there who are philosophically hostile to the mission of the agency."
One of those at the center of the storm was the head of MSHA, David Lauriski, a man who had actually worked for the coal industry most of his life. Early on in the Bush era he announced that reforms proposed by the Clinton Administration would be tossed out and that from now on, the agency would enforce those rules that "all parties can accept as necessary and practical."

For an agency whose primary purpose was to oversee the mining companies and protecting miners, the changes in policy came as a shocker. But it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Jumping in bed with corporations was practically a prime directive for the Bush agenda.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why Elaine Chao, Wife of Mitch McConnell, Could Help Sink his Re-election Bid 2 / 3

by Nomad


In this installment - the second of three on Elaine Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell- we shall be examining her tenure as Labor Secretary during the Bush years, her philosophy and her performance.


To view Part One

The Confirmation Hiccup
Elaine Chao's 2001 confirmation hearings for the top post in the Department of Labor was a breeze by today's standards.
Or by any standards.
Here's how her biographer put it:
What qualified Chao to oversee 125 million workers, 10 million employers and the enforcement of 180 federal laws? The Senate’s confirmation committee never asked. It was enough that Chao had, as one senator put it, this ”compelling” and ”poignant” personal story. Even if no one knew what it was.
There was only one minor hiccup.

Judicial Watch provided the Senators of the confirmation committee with a letter detailing how Chao had asked Chinese agent John Huang for campaign contributions for her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell as well as former Senator Alfonse D'Amato.
Both had apparently received contributions from both John Huang and his company, Lippo Group.
With annual revenues of some $3 billion, the Lippo Group is a major Indonesian conglomerate with significant investments in retail, media, real estate, mega-banking, natural resources, hospitality, and healthcare industries. 

In August of 1999, Huang had pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge for violating campaign finance laws. For that he was sentenced to one year of probation. He was also ordered by U.S. District Court to pay a $10,000 fine and serve 500 hours of community service.
Huang was responsible, the prosecutors said, for arranging about $156,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Lippo Group employees mostly to the  Democratic Party.
Talk about an equal opportunity provider.

In November of 1999, Huang also revealed that the 1989 campaign money which he donated to McConnell, D'Amato and others (and which Ms. Chao apparently had arranged) was illegally laundered from overseas bank accounts.

By the time of the hearings, (February 2001) the Democratic Party had already returned more than $1 million in donations that Huang funneled to political campaigns from the Asian-American community. After learning the details from press reports, McConnell too returned the Huang money at about the same time.

In the end, it was not much of a scandal- not like, say, Benghazi or the IRS targeting scandals. The Judicial Watch letter was ignored by the confirmation hearing and not a single senator had the courage to ask Ms. Chao a question concerning her ties to convicted felon Huang.

Protective Life
So the question was: Were there any connections between Chao and Lippo? Business connections can often be byzantine and hard to follow so please bear with me.

According to Senate financial-disclosure records, for the four years prior to her confirmation, Chao had held a seat on the board of a Birmingham, Ala.-based insurance company, Protective Life Corp. If the public securities records are true, at the time of her confirmation, Chao owned more than 7,000 shares of Protective Life. That company reportedly owned a 50% stake in another company the Hong Kong-based CRC Protective Life Insurance.
Who own the remaining 50%? 
The rest of the shares are split between Lippo and another Hong-Kong based unit with China Resources Holding Co

Now, China Resources Holding Co. was founded by none other than the People's Republic of China (PRC). It started life as Liow & Company (聯和公司) in Hong Kong in 1938 and originally Its purpose was to raise funds and purchase supplies and equipment for the People's Liberation Army, then engaged in the Chinese Civil War. It changed its name in 1948.

Today the company owns over 500 subsidiaries and assets of billions. A Senate report concluded that China Resource Holdings had been identified by one investigative journalist, as a "PRC intelligence-gathering operation with ties to the People's Liberation Army."

What do all these connections mean? Who can tell? Perhaps nothing.
But shouldn't this matter have  at the very least been brought up at her confirmation hearings?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Vintage Republican: This is What the War on Whites Used to Look Like

by Nomad




A Failed Test of Compassion: Whatever Ann Coulter has, It's Worse than Ebola

by Nomad


Ann Coulter succeeded in making a spectacle of herself  the other day by calling Africa "a disease-ridden cesspool" and the American doctor who contracted Ebola as an idiot. In the next breath, she dares to mention moral decadence and Christian values.


Like a lot of people, I would like to think I have developed a natural immunity against Ann Coulter and her dreadful attention-seeking declarations. I want to believe that whatever she has- and by the looks and sounds of it, it's quite lethal, I won't catch it.

As any doctor will tell you, reducing one's exposure decreases the chances of infection and subsequent transmission.
So, I do my best to avoid reading or hearing anything from Ms. Coulter. It's not easy. Coulter's the Bird Flu of the Right Wing.  

Three days ago, I read (through a third party) that Coulter scribbled a piece called “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiocy. "  (That's about as clever as Coulter ever gets, I'm afraid.)

In her article, she criticizes Dr. Ken Brantly, one of the two Americans who has been diagnosed with Ebola. Coulter castigates the missionary for forcing the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA to pay for him to fly in a private jet back to the U.S. and receive care at “one of America’s premier hospitals.”

American Christians go on “mission trips to disease-ridden cesspools," says Coulter because "they're tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots."

American culture is to blame, according to Coulter. Hollywood films, she claims, spread the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence which infects the world.

These do-goers "slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works." Coulter suggests that instead of traipsing into the the jungles of Africa, the doctor could have done so much more good work right here at home.  

 She moaned  “Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?” 
Like so many things that Coulter writes about, this article begins with a false premise and runs wild from that point. Is she trying to claim there are there no Christian charities working inside the US? If so, she needs to do a little more research before picking up her poison pen. 

Here's an easily-found website that offers a list of Christian charities and I assume that most of them work inside the US. (I will not vouch for any of them but that is surely enough evidence to scrap the Coulter article at its inception.)

But perhaps I have misread: is she trying to claim that American-based Christian charities have no business helping the poor outside of American borders? I don't happen to remember Jesus saying anything like that. 
The Bible does say :
To help the poor is to honor God.
For some reason, it doesn't specify the poor of which country or region of the world. A bit vexing, isn't it? There's so many poor people in the world. 

Again the same problem happens in the New Testament. In the Epistle of John, Christians are told that pity isn't enough, We must give help. We must act. Strangely there's no map or border, no advice on how to distinguish who we should and should not be helping.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth”
Every Christian must speculate for himself why the Book doesn't tell exactly which brother in need is more deserving of our aid. It doesn't tell us at where the borders our compassion for the poor begin and end.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why Elaine Chao, Wife of Mitch McConnell, Could Help Sink his Re-election Bid 1/3

by Nomad

In this three part post, we take a closer look at the career of Elaine Chao, wife of the Senator Mitch McConnell. She is one-half of the Washington power couple.


No Trophy Wife

In the last few weeks, the wife of Mitch McConnell, Ms. Elaine Chao, has jumped feet first into the campaign. 
Strategists probably thought what McConnell's flagging re-election bid really needed was a pretty face. Clearly, the public is fed up with looking at Mitch's sour mug.  

However, Ms. Elaine Chao is by no means a trophy wife. Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Chao was the Secretary of Labor in the George W. Bush presidency from 2001 to 2009. 
In that regard, it was perhaps a risky decision to have her make an appearance. 
Cleverly the GOP strategists have thrown a smokescreen over any real discussion of Elaine Chao. Here's how they did it.  In the last few days, the Republicans have attempted to turn the tables on the left by claiming that a left winger made a rather stupid tweet about the fact that Choa is an Asian and was not born in Kentucky.  The GOP quickly seized this opportunity to charge "racism" -which given the source is perhaps ironic.

To be sure, Ms. Chao has never attempted to hide her background. On the other hand, it's also hard to tell the Elaine Chao story without at least noting her ethnic background. That in itself is not racism. After all, Republicans have used every opportunity to use Ms. Chao's Asian background when it benefited them.  

How Ms. Chao got to where she is today is indeed a fascinating story. A suspect charge of racism shouldn't prevent a careful look at her history and her career.

Chao's Bootstraps

Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is all the rage for conservatives but wise researchers should take all that malarky with a grain of salt. The Christian Science Monitor profiled Chao telling its readers how she "began her life in this country with nothing."
It really depends on how one describes nothing. As any investor will tell you, nothing is something if you have what they call "access. " Being in the right place with the set of diverse and powerful connections in high places is often worth more than gold in pocket.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hunger in the Heartland: How a Record-Breaking Spaghetti Dinner Could Help Nebraska's Most Needy

by Nomad

Omaha spaghetti fundraiser in September hopes to bring the community together to break records for a good cause. 


Ms. Lin Leahy is a woman with a mission. 
Three missions in fact. 
The first mission?
This 54-year-old professional chef in Omaha, Nebraska has gathered together her friends, neighbors and co-workers in order to break the Guinness World Record. 
How? 
Well, with 3,780 pounds of pasta, 4,000 pounds of meatballs, Leahy aims to set the record for the most people served in one meal. That means, by serving more than 17,000 persons.
But it's much more than just a publicity stunt.

More than a Pretty Plate
With a board of directors made up of volunteers, Leahy's non-profit tax-exempt organization the Power of O.NE will also attempt to raise $100,000 for the Food Bank for the Heartland

But then, it's not just about the money. 

Her third goal is more far-reaching. The organization wants to raise awareness of food insecurities and also to remind people that a sense of community is formed when neighbor helps neighbor.

So, on Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., she plans to serve 20,000 plates of pasta, sauce, meatballs and green beans for $5 each at various local locations. Nobody will leave hungry, even if they can't pay. They hope people who can afford it will give more.

So far, the group has found donors for all the food. The volunteers have reached out to area high schools and secured 13 serving sites in every corner of the metropolitan area. They estimate they’ll need 500 volunteers, and several groups already are interested in helping.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Is This Finally the End Of Issa's Benghazi Witch Hunt?

by Nomad

While the mainstream media looks the other way, a newly declassified report from Congress seems to exonerate the president and his administration in the tragic Benghazi attack on the consulate in September 2012 in which four Americans died.

The report clears the White House of any intentional or conspiratorial wrong-doing, blowing up the wild claims made by Republicans.


A report that the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted to declassify its completed Benghazi report last week has made a Hindenberg of the Benghazi investigation. It had all started so nicely too. With Mitt Romney inappropriately sneering in a midnight press conference. And when the Republican- led Congress decided to investigate claims of mismanagement and a cover up shivers of delight up the spines of die-hard conservatives.

It's all over now, Baby Blue. The report concludes that there was no clear advance warning of any organized terrorist attack, and that there was no "stand down" order issued to any American rescuers. Despite Republican claims to the contrary, the report also concludes that there was no attempt to clean up the site of the attack for the sake of politics. Finally, it finds that there was no conspiracy by the Obama administration to hide the facts or to cover up wrongdoing.
Basically every one of the allegations have been shown to be fictional. 

Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa owes the American taxpayers a  millions dollars- up to over $14 million by some estimates- as well as apologies for his the baseless claims against the Obama administration.

Most of all, Issa and others who followed him, especially owes an apology to the victims of the attack. Back in May, at a Florida fundraiser, Issa clearly attempted to exploit the tragedy in Libya. He told his audience:
It takes very little time and very little committees if the administration wants to tell the truth. If the administration wants to continue delaying, denying and lying and covering up, it takes a long time.
There was a lot of time and a lot of money spent on Watergate to eventually get to the truth about the wrongdoing of Richard Milhous Nixon.
Wait.. Nixon, you mean, the Republican president? (But then he might well have cited the Republican President Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal too.)

Many on the Left knew these allegations were ridiculous and would lead nowhere.

But there is one thing this investigation has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. This fiasco of a scandal investigation  is solid evidence that the Tea Party Republicans would rather waste time and money on baseless witch hunts than actually doing the work they are being paid to do.

Here's a syndicated post from the group, Americans Against the Tea Party

Obama vs. The Cheneys: A Question of American Values

by Nomad

When President Obama admitted that the CIA had, in the years after 9/11, committed torture, Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice-president blasted the president, calling him an "utter disgrace." The interrogators, she said, were "patriots" and "heroes."

She failed to understand that the torture debate wasn't a matter of patriotism. It was a question of American values and what America stands for.


The Unseen Trap
In itself it was a fairly obvious thing to say. Last Friday, President Obama admitted that the CIA had committed torture. But what was surprising was his use of the pronoun "we." 
After handing over a report to Congress about an investigation into “enhanced interrogation techniques," President Obama said the CIA had “tortured some folks” after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
What gives? I wondered. Presumably he was referring to the CIA during the Bush administrationIf he were attempting to show solidarity with the CIA then it seemed a politically dangerous and needless thing to say. Indeed, many headlines from the so-called liberally-biased media simply read "We tortured folks, says Obama."
Now it is clear what he was doing: It was a bait for conservatives.

In short order, Liz Cheney, daughter of the former Vice President Dick Cheney, erupted with indignation about Obama's remarks. The venue was, predictably enough, Sean Hannity's show on Fox News.  
Hyperbole, like you never saw.
"..This president is an utter disgrace. He’s got a situation where... you’ve got crises erupting around the world."
A classic non-sequitur and a distraction. Obama wasn't there to talk about the problems of the world and she knew it.  Cheney, (Liz , that is) went on to say:
“And he is expending more time, more energy, more passion, more aggressive activity in targeting and going after patriots, heroes. CIA officers and others who kept is safe after 9/11."
Of course, Cheney's explosive rhetoric is aimed at dividing Americans, a lame attempt to stoke fears one more time. The Cheney apples do not fall far from the tree.
Additionally, there is a very real question about the accuracy of her allegation. Did torture actually keep anybody safe, either in the short or long term?

That's a statement that requires Cheney to prove and she is clearly not willing to attempt it. However, the unreleased U.S. Senate report, according to one source, is purported to conclude that the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques following 9/11 attacks was ineffective and yielded no critical intelligence. 
That's bad news for the Cheney family.

Actually, President Obama never said that enhanced interrogation didn't save lives. He said only that these techniques were contrary to our values. Perhaps the moral question -which is what the president was referring to- is simply not something a daughter of Mr. Dick Cheney could possibly grasp.
Not in a million years.

And that is the trap that Obama set and the one into which Liz Cheney - clearly speaking in defense of her father's policies- unwittingly tumbled. It is a question of values, a question whether the ends justify the means. 
Just because we can find a rationale for doing it and a legal means to escape second-guessing, does it make it right? 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Spoofing Palin's New Money-Grabbing Gimmick

by Nomad


If honesty were a priority in politics, this is what Sarah Palin's new channel would actually look like.


Alas, parting the fools from their money seems to be a full time occupation with some politicians nowadays. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tea Party Debris: How Michele Bachmann has Made the GOP America's Spoof Party

by Nomad

If the Republicans have lost credibility among voters, they have only themselves to blame. Republicans should start asking why the Tea Party leaders like Michele Bachmann were allowed to make such a joke of their party? Where was the leadership?


We have all seen them and some of us have been fooled by them. Nowadays spoof news sites are everywhere on the Net, parodying the news. And these joke pieces can often sound quite convincing. I have seen endless rolls of roaring comments on FaceBook pages about news stories that were in fact completely imaginary.
As a blog writer who attempts to verify sources, it can be dangerous. I have very nearly used spoofed news as a source in the past before asking myself. "Does that even sound plausible?" Frankly, given the present state of politics in America at the moment, it's hard to know sometimes.

The Spoof that Wasn't
That's why when I saw this news story about Michelle Bachmann the other day, I hesitated and double-checked the source.  The title read:

Michele Bachmann Claims President Obama Wants To Use Unaccompanied Children For Medical Experiments

Reading and re-reading that headline, I was a little confused. After all, Right Wing Watch is most certainly not a news spoof site. The introduction seemed straight faced.
Rep. Michele Bachmann has a new theory about the unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America who have come in large numbers to the southern U.S. border: they are future victims of a liberal plot to use unwilling children for medical experiments..
Finally I decided- against my better judgment- that this was not a joke. Bachmann had actually said this. 
(For the sake of my readership, I've decided not to reproduce her claims. Why? Simply because I am not qualified to explore the minds of lunatics. If you are interested in an analysis of her delusions and how she came up with this particular fixation, then go to the link above.)
  
From Laughing-Stock...
Fortunately, the number of people who take Bachmann totally seriously has probably always been small. However, like The Incredible Shrinking Man, Bachmann's audience may be microscopic but it never quite vanishes entirely. 

In the past, Michele Bachmann has shown that no allegation against Obama is too foul or insulting or outrageous to pass up. Her refusal to just say "No" to the addiction of nuttiness has made her a regular guest on the Fox News Network. Because of that, throughout the Obama administration, Bachmann has unintentionally made a laughing stock of the Republican party. 

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