Archive for category Authoritarianism
As most of you have already heard, Ted Cruz has dropped out as did Kasich. The mainstream media has said that Republicans have never been more divided. Actually I think it is the exact opposite. Donald Trump has annihilated the competition and it should come to no surprise. As much as I can complain about Trump, he is not as bad as Cruz who preached religion until people were sick of it and wanted to have a 1950’s mentality of America. Those people are the unpopular minority and it’s about time. The reason I say this is because Ted Cruz had no chance of winning even when the GOP put all the effort into getting him elected. To me, that is good. That means for once, the goalpost has moved to the left.
If all the other corporations that produce phones which provide a detailed log of the owner’s account numbers, passwords and all manner of other private information are not providing a firewall from the FBI, and Apple is, you’d have to be pretty dumb not to choose an iPhone if you had something to hide from the government.
It’s a scary new place we live in today. We don’t want somebody who wishes to harm America to plan things behind our back, but it’s just as likely they’d get hold of the secret code the FBI plans to use to unlock the whole, wide world. Besides, they can still find a way to do things behind our back.
I don’t have an iPhone, but I hope this battle results in safer world for me and my data. I don’t worry much about terrorists, environmental or otherwise anyway, but the big government snooping infrastructure, put in place during the George W. Bush administration creeps me out. I would have just as soon known my water was safe, and I’m sure Flint Michigan feels the same. And besides, James Comey reminds me of John Ashcroft.
We probably can’t have the money back that we and the rest of the nation spent on this giant Bluffdale, public works peepshow, but we can sure save the water it takes to cool it. It looks like we’re going to need it.
Well, only virtually, but it is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever heard. The obvious weight of the event makes the audience eerily silent through the first part. In fact I wasn’t even aware there was an audience until Snowden gets applause for the first of many statements that are undeniably illumining of our times, in ways you haven’t thought of before.
He’s had a lot of time to think about what he did, by breaking the law with the knowlege his life would be changing, forever. Personally, I think the guy is brilliant, obviously brave, and very hard to refute, even considering the stunning scope of his actions.
He points out that fewer of our leaders have been calling for his head since his revelations first came out, and that’s not really an exaggeration. There’s still one man, James Woolsey, who very recently called for him to be hung and even blames him for the terrorist attack in France.
In a presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was not much more forgiving then Woolsey. Bernie Sanders said he should pay a price for what he did, but also acknowledged that his actions have had positive effects. Surprisingly, Snowden agrees with Sanders and has even said he would stand trial, and be willing to go to prison, providing he gets a fair and transparent trial. Humorously, he has documents that state the only thing our government has guaranteed, is that he won’t be tortured.
Interviewer Doug Fabrizio, tests him pretty hard on his insistence that handing the top secret NSA documents to the media for careful release to the public was a safe way to go, and, indeed, top officials testifying have admitted that nobody has been put in danger. Pretty amazing.
Be sure to carfully listen to the whole show. The points Snowden makes at the end are compelling and irrefutable.
Senator Rick Santorum is probably sorry one of his aides didn’t rush him off before the public had a chance to submit questions on the “Overtime” segment of the popular HBO “Real Time” political series from August 28th 2015, which takes place after the HBO cable show signs off. Americans want to know why Republicans are so upset about Obama’s recent diplomacy successes in Iran.
To those of you who are as tired of Reagan worship as I am, this might interest you. Let me try to capsulize a little American history for you here.
Near the end of the seventies, president Jimmy Carter was humiliated by Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” program, which started out every night with a countdown of how many days our second worst enemy – behind Russia – had held American hostages in that “terrorist” country. The American media still avoids touching on what Republican operatives did to gain political prominence during those times.
To make a long story short: Republicans made a secret deal to sell weapons to the “terrorists” in Iran so they could use them against our “friends” in Iraq, while at the same time, making Carter look weak by requiring Iran to detain our hostages until the very moment Reagan was sworn in. Cute.
That’s what Maher is alluding to in this video, which was not broadcast on his cable show. The lesson Democrats are supposed to learn, is that only Republicans can negotiate with “terrorists”. When THEY do it, it’s called a “deal”. Notice the, I got caught, look on Santorum’s face. He’ll be telling the same lie starting tomorrow.
Obama has been stingy with his pardons, but these are way past due and make me feel empowered. I’ve been getting a lot of petitions in my E-mail telling of terrible, family busting, life destroying injustices that have been going on for way too long. I’ve been signing them.
Seems like all I do these days is sign petitions. Nothing ever seems to happen, but now it has. You might think Obama is going way out on a limb here, but I think things have changed enough since the good old, “lock em’ up and throw away the key!” – unless you’re Scooter Libby – days of yore.
If your job is to test peoples urine for marijuana traces, it might be time to find another job. Lawyers might not be doing quite so well in the future either, unless we start arresting dangerous people. You can bet the drug cartels aren’t happy.
When I was starting out in Junior High School in 1965, they were building a new one to accommodate our large student population in that area. They had already picked a name for the new school, but a fellow student, who was a big history buff decided he wanted the school to be named after a personal hero of his. He began his quest to have the school named after Winston Churchill. I can’t remember all of the details or how difficult, or long the procedure took, but I’ll be damned if the school isn’t named Churchill Junior High today.
You may have already heard about the teacher in New Hampshire who recently decide to teach his fourth grade students how a bill is adopted, so he had them decide on a bill and they took it to the legislature. The attempt to get the red-tailed hawk named as the official state raptor turned into a learning experience for sure, but definitley not one you would have imagined.
After one legislator mocked the bill, saying they’d probably next be naming an official state hotdog, Republican Representative Warren Groen really took the wind out of the sails of these kids by saying:
“The hawk grasps its prey “with its talons and then uses its razor-sharp beak to rip its victims to shreds, to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.’’
I guess this idiot thought these students were being taught to be a bunch of stinking liberals by their stinking liberal teacher. Just let the adults come up with the bills, huh?
The Democratic governor is going to visit the school and try to get the students not to give up trying to be involved in their communities. My sense is that after making the national news, they are going to be even more involved. That’s how these sorts of inane blunders usually work out, but you’ll never convince some ideologues.
So far, nothing about this on cable TV news. Not even from MSNBC. Via Think Progress:
Around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the National Security Agency released hundreds of pages of heavily-redacted reports detailing numerous instances over the past decade in which agents intentionally or unintentionally violated the law and improperly collected private data. The revelations, triggered by a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union, still fail to disclose how many violations occurred and how many were unlawful.
…Jesselyn Radack with the Government Accountability Project, who has been working on Edward Snowden’s legal team, emphasized that these revelations would never have been possible without her fugitive client. “The ACLU only knew what to ask for because of the Snowden leaks,” she said. “There’s been semantics games with the NSA not using regular definitions for words like ‘collection’ and ‘analysis,’ which makes it very difficult to find the documents we’re looking for. Now, at least we have a road map and we know names of specific programs to ask about.”
Radack also told ThinkProgress that she suspects the release of the documents intentionally came at a time few would be paying attention. “It was an extremely conspicuous and shameless move to release this on Christmas Eve, but it’s entirely in keeping with the fact that the Director of National Intelligence has done similar kinds of document dumps on Friday afternoons in order to avoid the media cycle,” she said.
Of course, ALL the programs of widespread warrantless surveillance of Americans in their entirety violate the law because they are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.
Last month, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was shot and killed by police in Saratoga Springs, Utah, while carrying a toy sword. The Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy confirms that six bullets hit Hunt in the back. Contrary to what was implied in the original police report, a toxicology analysis concluded that Hunt had no drugs in his body.
Susan Hunt told the Deseret News: “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.
“Those stupid cops thought they had to murder over a toy. This is my baby. This is my family. And they ruined my family.”
Again, we have to wonder what they were thinking. Why shoot an unarmed citizen who is running away? Assuming the police believed they had no choice but to use deadly force, why not shoot ONE TIME?
At the time of his death, Hunt was wearing an outfit that bore a striking resemblance the Japanese anime character Mugen, from the series Samurai Champloo. The weekend prior to his death, Salt Lake City hosted the annual Comic Con event at which attendees dress up as comic book characters in a practice known as “cosplaying.”
Prosecutors won’t file criminal charges in this case. Darrien Hunt’s family plans a civil suit against the police.
Earlier this week, a story spread like wildfire about two pastors threatened with jail time and massive fines for not performing gay weddings. Attorneys from the right wing ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the pastors. The story was breathless, controversial and inaccurate.
The pastors in question run a for profit business that as recently as two weeks ago was very clear that they offered both religious and civil ceremonies. They run a marriage mill, performing something like 1400 weddings per year. Oh, and the big error? The city of Coeur d’Alene had not threatened them with fines or jail time, there have been no complaints filed against them. The couple in question asked the city attorney what would happen if they failed to comply with the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and refused to marry a same-sex couple; the city attorney spelled out the possible legal consequences. End of story. Not really. I’ll let Jeremy Hooper explain:
When I first learned about the story of Idaho’s Hitching Post, which was suddenly the far-right’s latest marriage “victim” for supposedly being threatened by the city of Coeur d’Alene for not marrying a same-sex couple, I thought the whole thing was too coincidental to be true. I didn’t focus on it in my last post on the subject since I had the much more newsworthy discovery that the business had changed its website so that they could seem much more faith-driven than they had been operating in the past. But a part of me was wondering how the same business that went to the press back in May with its preemptive marriage fears, well before Idaho had marriage equality, could now be in the spotlight in such a major way. it just seemed too perfectly orchestrated.
To wit (Gridley is the city attorney):
“Their lawsuit was something of a surprise because we have had cordial conversations with them in the past and they have never disclosed that they have recently become a religious corporation,” Gridley wrote.
Gridley wrote that the city will not prosecute legitimate nonprofit religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies or other exempt organizations or anyone else as a result of their lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.
In addition to exempting those groups, Gridley wrote that the anti-discrimination ordinance states that it “shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence regarding the freedom of speech and exercise of religion.”
When contacted by The Press for comment, Don Knapp said the Hitching Post is not operating as a not-for-profit religious corporation. He also said he does not know ADF Attorney David Cortman.
Let’s be clear – almost everything you’ve heard about the case is wrong. No complaint has been filed against The Hitching Post. If they are a legitimate religious organization, they are exempt from the city’s ordinance. (It’s worth noting that they have been an ordinary, for profit business up to this point and have a history of performing both religious and civil ceremonies; they have not been, up to this point, a church or religious organization.)
The facts haven’t stopped hosts of religious people sanctimoniously declaring that “no one should be forced to do something that violates their conscience” and “no one should be forced to participate in a same sex wedding.” Utah legislators have obviously seen the story and are alreayd discussing a bill that would allow people to declare they have a religious objection and exempt themselves from participating in same-sex weddings (if history is any guide, the bill will pass, but will be so overly broad it will fail constitutional muster and be struck down, leading to all sorts of public hysterics over activists judges and repeated sharing of bathetic overhyped tales of bakers and florists and photographers and poor picked on pastors). It’s clear that a great many religious persons oppose same-sex marriage, and believe their opposition is entirely based on theological reasons and fear that at some point, some legal change will force them to “accept” same-sex marriage.
I don’t want to minimize the difficulty marriage equality presents for many religious persons. People do not lightly give up tradition or traditional teachings about sexuality and relationships.
Until very recently, most people casually accepted the idea that something was “wrong” with gay and lesbian persons. The idea that sexual minority persons are not inherently sick, immoral or incapable of forming long-lasting, stable relationships is relatively new in our society. The idea of same-sex marriage is also relatively new (although the Boston Marriage is a fascinating bit of history). Many socially and religiously conservative persons continue to embrace the belief that gay persons can become straight through therapy and prayer, that being gay is a choice and a bad one.
For some persons, the idea of a same sex couple marrying seems absurd at best. These individuals define marriage as a man and a woman and exclude anything else (one suspects Utah State Rep. Kraig Powell is such a person). It’s not uncommon in discussions to hear someone declare that marriage is between a man and a woman and anything is fake and the law can’t make “real” what isn’t real. The “love the sinner hate the sin” motto employed by religious persons reveals more than most people think – for many religious persons, gay people are less than straight people and same-sex couples are less than heterosexual couples.
With the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the various cases coming to them, the number of states in which same sex marriage is legal increased dramatically in one week (at JoeMyGod, Joe observed that there had been 9 separate marriage equality maps in the week of October 6).
Religious conservatives have very visibly and vocally expressed their dismay. We’ve heard all the usual buzzwords about out of control judges, judicial activism, and the usual predictions of coming tyranny. Religious conservatives are asking “What next?” with a combination of weariness and trepidation.
There is a challenge for religious conservatives. They’re being asked to acknowledge and live with the reality that same sex marriage is legal and to recognize that means some changes on how they conduct their business. I am certain there will be some lawsuits when religious business owners try to refuse family insurance coverage to same-sex spouses. We will, no doubt, hear paeans to the free market and dreamy invocations that gays can just go elsewhere for jobs and services. Thus far, the courts have not be amenable to such arguments. From a legal standpoint, a marriage is a marriage. Treating married couples differently will not be acceptable.
Religious conservatives are also going to have to face activism within their churches. Although legally there’s no reason to fear that churches will be forced to recognize same-sex marriage, gay persons can be incredibly effective activists. Churches will feel pressure to perform marriages for same-sex couples.
The Hobby Lobby case was probably the most high profile but it is one of many in which the religious right is trying to carve out a separate public and legal sphere for itself in which the devout serve solely the devout and can refuse to serve the sinful masses – a modern Jim Crow – using religious freedom as the rationale. I get this – I’ve read Martha Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity: Disgust Shame and the Law – it’s about fear of moral contagion. Although it’s emotional appeal is undeniable, I think it will ultimately fail of its own weight.
This afternoon, I read that The Hitching Post has re-incorporated itself as a religious corporation. The ACLU and the city of Coeur d’Alene agree that in keeping with their newly filed corporate status, The Hitching Post is a “religious corporation” and exempt from the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. IOW, the whole brouhaha has basically evaporated.
The public spaces from which religious conservatives can exclude gay people are going to become increasingly constrained. The option of declaring one’s self a religious corporation isn’t going to be available to a great many religious conservatives. If, however, claims of religious freedom and religious conscience become publicly linked with discrimination – against women, gays and lesbians, “immoral people” – then very quickly the mythical “war on Christianity” will become a very real public disgust for anyone claiming to be Christian and for Christianity itself.
Colorado students and teachers alike have been staging walkouts over the new conservative version of history that is being forced on schools by the rightwing school board. And this story is just full of irony. For one thing, among the subjects being removed is all mention of civil disobedience. Thus the students are teaching the topic to the school board. At least a thousand students walked out of class Tuesday, at three separate schools. More followed Wednesday and still more were planned for today.
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Knowledge is sometimes defined in philosophy circles as “justified true belief.” Sometimes philosophers can drain the passion out of any phrase.
Still, the idea counts for something. Can you really say you “know” something if you are wrong? Being raised Mormon I was always bothered when people gave their testimony with the phrase “I know this is true” because it was clear to me that they did not “know” anything of the sort. They believed. They may even be right. But unless it was proven true, they couldn’t actually know. They simply had faith that they mistakenly called knowledge…..
Over at MotherJones.com, Chris Mooney has an interesting article about some of the research on how political ideology and views can affect our reasoning ability. There has been a fair amount of research in the area of late, and I find an awful lot of it fascinating, I also find a lot of what is written about it to be misled for what seems like some pretty basic reasons.
Posted by Firmage Ed in 4th Estate (Media), 9/11, Activist groups, Afghanistan, American History, American People, assault weapons, Authoritarianism, Barack Obama, Bigotry, Bush Administration, Conservative, Drone Strikes, Liberal, Libya, NSA Surveillance, Obamacare, Syria, This Blog on May 28, 2014
The yammerings of the Republicans, and even some Democrats, about VA hospitals, show no trace, not even a trickle of a trace, of institutional and personal memory, let alone history. This is always true, for most people and all institutions. None have historical perspective beyond that of a Snail Darter. Remember, dear friends, that George Bush the Less, and Dick Cheney, the Dark Lord; and Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, started two wars of choice that will fill up to overflowing for at least fifty and likely a hundred years, all our hospitals. The impact of wars, so easy for stupid, venal, misinformed people to start and , in a sense, impossible, ever, to stop , is obvious. World War One is still very much alive, after destroying the twentieth Century, the Century of Total War. And the Bush administration severely cut the funding for our VA hospitals. All hospitals are effected by this avoidable tragedy, the greatest of our time. Our jails, our mental homes, our suicide prevention systems; our broken families and children without mothers and fathers, shooting crime statistics up into the stratosphere, ripple on forever.
The entire world, out into and through the cosmos, suffer from this violation of all that is decent and good, not to mention the laws of war. If the Nuremberg principle were applied to us and not just Nazi Germany, this dark band of brothers would all be in jail, or executed for the hundreds of thousands of murders that they accomplished. George W. Bush placed us squack in the middle of a civil war in Islam, which has been going on time out of mind.(we had our civil wars of religion that followed 400 years of Crusades from the 10th to the 14th centuries, the Renaissance and Reformation and the Enlightenment which gave us a rule of law community not shared by any state in the Middle East, except Israel; and no secular state in the Middle East except Turkey, thanks to Ataturk. The Treaties of Westphalia and Utrecht ended religious-based states in Europe and North America, and in their place we have had, with never a backward step, secular states, thank God (and I’m not being ironic), territorial nation states without any church in charge. (Utah is another matter.) Islamic civil war is not our business. It took us many centuries to build these rule of law communities throughout Europe and North America. Do you really think that Afghanistan will somehow, willy nilly, become democratic? Really? or Iraq?
Now, a huge portion of the Middle East, very understandably, see us as their premiere enemy. And much of Africa. And most other Islamic nations. Add to that what the Dulles brothers did in Iran, in deposing an popularly appointed tradition, conservative ruler, Mohammed Mossadeq, to put the Shah back on his throne and his bloodthirsty killers over the military and the police (the CIA’s war; just like Laos; just as we now do in Pakistan, way way before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Pakistan is the most dangerous nation in the world, because it is the Islamic nuclear missile state and George Bush’s wars threaten always to bring any reasonable government down. I’ll bet World War Three starts there); and what we did in murdering an African head of state (both CIA assassins); and one Latin American democratically elected president assassinated under Nixon’s orders,why not see America as the Great Satan? There is blood on the hands of this dark band of brothers, and Karma, dark amoral Karma, that has nothing to do with God.
Of course we should do more for our veterans. But these tragic events play out, literally, forever. Remember: the Great Depression of our time began under Bush the Less. It had been building ever since Ronald Reagan created street people by refusing to fund mental homes and hospitals and put these people in jails and on the streets, so he could raise the military budget three and a half times over. He ran deficits like no Democrats before him. Then came the crash that remains very much with us still. So many millions of unemployed we don’t even count, because they’ve given up, and have taken themselves out of the workforce. How can the Republicans do this with a straight face? Well, they now are consummate liars, after decades of practice. Some in the Democratic Party do this too. Neither party has a monopoly on lying. BUT this is not to say there is equivalence. With the Tea Party, now absorbed within the Republican Party, truly inexperienced and terribly undereducated people rule the day. I believe the Republicans will gain seats in the House and narrowly take the Senate. All because most people and all institutions lack any trace of historical memory. ed firmage xoxo
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