Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Road

I saw a wonderful, but disturbing movie. "The Road" depicts a father and son surviving in a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. They are journeying to the cost in a desperate attempt to survive. Civilization has fallen and the world is filled with people who are either dying or dead. In this world they are trying to go down the road, trying to stay one of the "good guys." In this world the lives of people are a desperate struggle to survive. There is nothing to keep the world alive. Nothing grows anymore. The skies are dark and bleak and no light shines in the gray skies. People are either searching for food or eating each other to survive. The scenes depicting cannibalism are difficult to watch and I have to wonder how and what I would do to live in a world like that. I would hope that I would not resort to something like that to survive. But they were disturbing. People eat each other and that is not a good thing.

I have always wondered about the end of the world. How this wonderful thing called civilization is such a fragile thing. How easily we take such a fragile thing for granted. How easy it is for civilization to end. A disaster can strip away the veneer of our civilization and leaves us savages. In that we are but animals without that veneer.

A movie filled with that bleakness can be a depression. Sometimes a world can touch you in a way that you cannot believe. We like to think we are not animals. Somehow we are blessed with a special gift with that civilization. Its only a thing and a very empty thing. I hope that if it does fall, we learn the lessons of our literature.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Battle of Britian - The Polish

Back in the early dark days of World War II, where victory was far from certain and the armies of darkness swarmed the world, Britain was the country that stood alone against the darkness. Flooded with people who fled the Nazi onslaught, those that were willing signed up to join the British in fighting against their common enemy.

The Americans came, with the Eagle squadrons, the Checks, Free French, and the Poles. The following is one of my favorite scenes in the famous movie "The Battle of Britain" which depicted the period of time where Britain fought alone with the help of its exile allies. In this scene, the volunteer Polish squadron, still undergoing training, sees a group of German Aircraft and a chance at payback:

We aren't the only country with religous problems

Turkey is a nation which has struggled with a fine line between religion and secularism. In my search for information about the escalator miracle I came across this story on one Turkish News website:

Atheist Turkish family wins case on compulsory religious classes.

This has recently happened as the story was dated today. Our nation now is starting to follow in the footsteps of religious extremism. We take tiny baby steps towards the Theocratic abyss daily. The camel's nose is definitely inside the tent and soon we will have to deal with the whole smelly animal in the tent. There is a whole group in this country that makes the Islamic extremists look tame and they are armed and dangerous. They are also taking steps to taking over our government which will lead to religious crusades. Israel and Saudi Arabia had better watch out since both are threatened. Israel enjoys some slight enthusiasm and support from the Christians in this country, but they can just as easily turn against them as many of the organizations allied with this Christian theocratic elite come from a white-supremacist/anti-Semitic tradition.

So the United States isn't the only country with a secular tradition having a crisis of conscience with that tradition.

Miracle at the Shopping Mall

Now this could be at the mall I work at as we have an escalator similar to this. Apparently, this four year old by decided to take a ride up an escalator. the only wrong things is that he went on the other side of the escalator riding on the handrail. As you can see on the video below he hold onto the handrail riding to the top where he looses his grip and falls. Fortunately for him, a bystander (possibly his own father in one report), sees him and runs, catching him as halls.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Anthem of the Tea Party?

One of my favorite entertainers is Tom Lehrer. He was active in the 1960's. Many of you may remember a song he did called "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park." However, he had an extensive reportuare of songs, many of which have a wonderful political bent. One song he had was a song of the Wild West written in his days as a physicist at the Los Alamos Laboratory. A line in the song said something about watching the planes droping bombs "while the old FBI was watching me."

Some of his songs bordered on the bizarre and I present this one forthwith:

Very intersting thing I just discovered - or couldn't find

In my youth I lived in Joplin, MO. I graduated High School in 1982 and subsequently moved to Springfield, MO and later St. Louis MO. I remember this rather large brick building on one of the main roads across from the Lincoln-Mercury Dealer. A sign in front of it proclaimed it to be "Lincoln School" but it was empty and never used by the school district in the time I lived in Joplin.

Come to find out it had been the "Negro School" in Joplin. This was where blacks were provided "separate, but equal" education in the local school district. There was also a park provided for them as well as other facilities to keep blacks from intermingling with the white citizens of Joplin. This was a city that created a hospital strictly to keep from having to be treated by Catholics. (Joplin never had a Jewish hospital. I don't think there were enough Jews in Joplin to support one. The synagogue was just down the alley from where I grew up but apparently only had a traveling Rabbi and maybe a handful of attendees. However there was a Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. It was merged with the much larger Barnes Hospital just recently). I don't know when the school was closed. I don't know when the school was opened. I have no idea if it had any famous alumni. In searching for the school online, you would think it would have at least a picture, but its as if the school never existed. Even the building is gone now.

I find myself wondering what kind of memories, stories and the like existed for that school. Certainly it had some people who remembered it and what kind of teachers it had. Maybe its shame that they were kept apart from the society, but its a legacy that should be remembered.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is the way the world ends, not with a whimper

I started writing this last night, wondering how theocracy might come to pass in this country. I think it would be fairly easy. I thought about this after the Texas School Standards victory by the religious nuts the other day. There have been some classics in the field, Margaret Atwater's A Handmaden's Tale; Sinclar Lewis' "It Could Happen Here," and a recent good one by Douglas McKinnon's "The Apocalypse Directive." This is my take on the whole subject. Its a timeline, but it could serve as the basis for a novel. Understand this is a rough draft, heck the typewriter keys are still hot from me writing it. There might be some confusion, so bear with me and let me know what you think, please.

Timeline of the American Theocracy
President Obama wins the final Democratic primary and the Democratic convention selects him as the candidate for the 2012 election. Tea Party and other Right wing groups stage a tumultuous demonstration vowing that he will never be elected again.
Sarah Palin is selected as the Republican presidential candidate after a stormy Republican convention in which the Tea Party and Christian Nativist groups drown out moderate elements of the Party.

September 15, 2011 - President Obama assassinated by White Supremacist and Militia member Robert O'Dell of the Ohio "Patriot" militia at a campaign stop in Cleveland. O'Dell is killed in the resultant gun battle as the sniper nest he was concealed in is stormed by Secret Service Agents. Vice President Biden assumes office vowing to crack down on the perpetrators of this deed.

September 16, 2011 - Republican Candidate Palin appears on Fox News to express condolences for the death of the President but then calls into question the electability of President Biden since he was not the Presidential candidate. Right wing media takes up this question, fanning indecision and the electorate begins to question the electability of Biden.

September 29, 2011 - A joint FBI, Secret Service and ATF task force begins crackdown of several so called "militia" units. The Colorado 44th "Jim Bridger" militia fights back resulting in a stand-off in Boulder for 34 days. The Police vehicles are shot at by RPG's and heavy machine guns.

October 10, 2011 - FBI agent Harold Rediker is killed by a sniper within the Boulder compound.

October 15, 2011 - Units of the Colorado National Guard refuse orders to surround the Bridger militia compound citing their membership in the so-called "Oath Keepers" organization. Units of the US Army are called in from Ft. Hood. Some members of these units also refuse orders, also citing their membership in the Oath Keepers.

November 1, 2011 - Sarah Palin wins the Presidency as enough doubt is cast on Biden that many vote for her in the belief that Biden is not legitimate thanks to a campaign by right wing media outlets and pundits.

November 3, 2011 - Units of the US Army, along with FBI and ATF agents storm the Boulder compound. Much like Waco, the compound is set ablaze by Bridger Militia members, many of whom kill themselves rather than submit to capture.

November 4, 2011 - Fox News, which has supported the Militias since the storming of the Boulder compound, interview several soldiers who claim they were ordered to execute militia members rather than attempt to capture them. Subsequent investigation proves the soldiers were nowhere near the are of Boulder or even assigned to the storming of the Boulder compound. Several right wing organizations pick up this rumor and it is spread through the use of social media on the internet. Attempts to explain or refute the interview are fruitless.

November 23, 2011 - An attempt is made to assassinate President Biden and Speaker Polosi. A state of emergency is declared in the Washington DC area and the National Guard is called out in order to maintain security.

November 29, 2011 - Militia members attempt to storm the Supreme Court, but are thwarted by soldiers of the National Guard.

December 15th, 2011 - The Joint Militia Task Force storms the compound of the Maryland Militia unit responsible for the attempt on the President and the Supreme Court attack. Many of the militia are killed.

December 29, 2011 - Units of Xe Incorporated are called upon to secure some areas of Washington DC as some units of the US Military are rendered ineffective due to many soldiers who refuse to follow orders to maintain security citing their Oath Keeper membership.

January 5th 2012 - Units of Xe Incorporated seize President Biden and Speaker Polosi and hold them hostage as Sarah Palin assumes the Presidency. Citing an unprecedented national emergency, Supreme Court Justice Roberts swears Palin in early.

January 19th, 2012 - Justice Sonja Sotamayor dies under mysterious circumstances. Sarah Palin nominates Judge Joe Moore of Alabama as her replacement. Many soldiers which formerly were disobeying orders are released from military custody by the President who calls their imprisonment "un-American."

February 20th, 2012 - In a Capitol building surrounded by armed militia units of the, National guard and military units loyal to the President, Joe Moore is confirmed as the new Supreme Court Justice in a swift vote. Some objecting Senators are taken away by armed guards. Of those taken away, some disappear under mysterious circumstances.

February 22, 2012 - Cynthia Dunbar, formerly of the Texas Education Standards Board, is confirmed as Secretary of Education vowing to "bring God back to the classroom."

February 29, 2012 - Many Americans fearing for their safety begin to gather at the borders of Canada and Mexico fleeing the country as a campaign of intimidation and ostracized by Tea Party sympathizers. Canada grants asylum to many, but the numbers are starting to grow overwhelmingly as a wave of religious oppression begins in America.

March 14th, 2012 - President Palin proposes the first of many laws designed to "bring a Godly presence to government." Among these are laws withdrawing the United States from the United Nations, criminalizing homosexuality, instituting broad censorship of media outlets across the spectrum from television to Internet and criminalizing "disrespect of God." The penalty of many of these laws are low, but the sentiment in the country promises that such laws will be strictly enforced.

March 17th, 2012 - The City of Berkely, CA is among the first of many cities and states to object to the new laws proposed. Many cities in California, Oregon, and other "blue states" pass resolutions condemning the laws.

March 29th, 2012 - After a tumultuous debate, the slate of laws are passed by the House and Senate. They are quickly signed into law by President Palin in a Rose Garden ceremony. In a speech at the signing ceremony, she states that, "We have begun a new order in which the Lord and Jesus Christ will be the king of our land."

March 31, 2012 - Former President Biden and Former Speaker Pelosi are charged with treason by the Justice Department for facilitating Obama's Presidency. In the charges, it is alleged that Obama was not a citizen of the United States due to his status as a Kenyan citizen (or Indonesian depending on the media outlet originating the story). Hearings begin to nullify laws passed during the Obama Administration due to their alleged illegality and the alleged illegitimacy of the Presidency.

April 1, 2012 - The Religious Enforcement Division (RED) of the Department of Homeland Security is created by executive order to enforce the slate of laws passed in March since many professionals at the various agencies object to enforcing them. The new agency is staffed with extremists from various Christian religions, among the Eric Prince, former head of Blackwater (Xe Incorporated) who is the head of the new agency.

April 2, 2012 - The offices of MSNBC are stormed by Federal agents and many of the media personalities are arrested for Treason. Among them are Rachael Maddow, Keith Olberman and others. MSNBC is taken off the air. Similar raids take place at the offices of other Media companies, newspapers and radio stations in the ensuing days. Some reporters and media personalities slip away and flee to Canada or Europe who grant asylum.

April 12, 2012 - NATO forces, citing the present US policies state they will no longer support US operations in Afghanistan. Their forces begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, leaving the US alone.

April 22nd, 2012 - Former President Biden and Former Speaker Polosi are moved to a High Security Federal Penitentiary in Colorado.

May 23rd, 2012 - Troops from the US Army (apparently forgetting their Oath Keeper oaths) under the auspices of the RED raid various sections of Dearborn and Detroit to start rounding up persons of Arab decent regardless of citizenship. Similar raids take place in various Southwestern states with the exception that the persons rounded up are of Hispanic decent. Raids at various "gay bars" start rounding up persons alleged to be homosexual. In spite of statements to the contrary, many are killed in these initial raids by overzealous personnel in the RED.

May 25th, 2012 - New gun control laws are instituted requiring an RED background check before one can purchase a firearm. A letter or similar document from a pastor or other "approved" church leader is needed before a firearm can be purchased.

May 27th, 2012 - Citing lack of support by their allies, President Palin quietly withdraws US troops from Afghanistan. This is not seen as a setback as they are going to be desperately needed to quell domestic disturbances. This goes unreported in the media due to censorship. Units are consolidated in Iraq as insurgent attacks increase.

May 30, 2012 - Federal troops seize control of Berkley and other locations in the San Francisco Bay Area as roundups begin of homosexual and other undesirables. A new "Federal District" is created in the area to house "displaced persons." Homosexuals from other locations throughout the country are brought to this area to be "processed." A similar area is created in the Detroit and Dearborn areas to house persons of Arab decent. The city of El Paso is cordoned off to create a similar district for Hispanics. They are then deported across the border to Mexico. (Strangely enough, persons of Cuban decent are not included, but it is strongly suggested that they remain in Florida so that they not be confused with Hispanics from other areas. Due to this, many Hispanics of all countries flee to Florida to escape arrest).

June 5, 2012 - in order to prevent "confusion," persons of Hispanic or Arab decent are required to wear flags on their clothing indicating whether they are a legal citizen or not. This does not stop the arbitrary detentions or arrests as people are known to wear the flags regardless of their citizenship status. The penalties for violations are harsh if one is caught wearing a flag he is not entitled to wear. Persons on temporary visas are required to wear a flag of their country of origin either on their clothing or in a pouch contained on or about their person visible to law enforcement personnel. All citizens are encouraged to carry required display identification and display such if approached by law enforcement. Failure to do so is enforced by harsh penalties as well. Homosexuals are required to wear pink triangles on their clothing. Hispanic radio and television stations and other media outlets are ordered to begin broadcasting in English under penalty of license forfeiture. Border control officers along the Mexican border are now advised to "shoot to kill" anyone trying to get across the border from Mexico. Many Restaurants and Yard Care companies close due to lack of personnel.

June 20th, 2012 - In order to prevent "confusion" in news reporting and media outlets, all media outlets are closed down in favor of Fox News and other Murdoch and conservative owned papers, electronic media, radio and television stations. The newspapers, radio stations, and television and cable outlets of several cities are seized and given over to the new government sanctioned media monopoly. Glenn Beck is appointed to the revised Federal Communications Commission which is given responsibility to apply the new directives concerning the media. Stations not seized and not in the affected areas are strongly encouraged to broadcast the sanctioned media.

June 30th, 2012 - A resolution in the Oregon State legislature proposes secession from the United States. The Governor of Oregon mobilizes the National Guard in his state to protect its citizens from the new Federal Laws and seizures. A similar resolution is proposed in California but is quickly quashed by conservative legislators. Governor Schwarzenegger resigns rather than enforce the new federal laws.

July 1, 2012 - Federal troops from Fort Lewis, Fort Ord and Camp Pendelton are mobilized in order to invade Oregon in the first step to quash the so-called "Blue State Rebellion." Oregon passes its secession resolution by acclimation. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York all pass resolutions to join Oregon. These states mobilize their various National Guard Units. The State of Maine petitions Canada for assistance to protect itself from US Federal troops.

July 15, 2012 - Sailors on the USS Harry Truman and her escorts mutiny and sail towards Oregon to assist them in their struggle. The "Blue Mutiny" of the US Military begins. There is some chaos as other Federal units begin to mutiny on some overseas bases. Some other Federal individual soldiers and some entire units join the "Blue Mutiny" as well and head to Oregon and other states to assist them.

July 20th, 2012 - The Harry Truman is sunk off the coast of California by Air Force aircraft. Mutinies by other units are quashed as leaders are executed by officers loyal to the President. Some soldiers in the Blue States flee their bases to join National Guard Units. Those that remain on base are enclaves surrounded by National Guard troops of the states in question.

July 22nd, 2012 - The RED begins purging the military of suspect persons based on affiliations and the like. Many discharged soldiers, sailors and Airman flee to the Blue States as the so-called "Blue State Rebellion" begins. President Palin declares martial law and begins to institute federal rule by decree calling it "Gods Order."

July 31, 2012 - Canadian officers and military personnel are removed from NORAD and Space Command Headquarters at Pearson AFB in Colorado. Canada continues to offer asylum to US citizens and soldiers fleeing the country. Some soldiers who slip into Canada return to Blue States to join up with Blue National Guard units. Canada begins to mobilize its military. Units of other NATO countries are quietly mobilized to assist Canada in the event they are needed.

August 10, 2012 - Riot at the Canadian border crossing at Detroit as persons attempting to cross are shot at by Federal troops. Lines of cars are shot at and set ablaze by Federal troops. The Detroit Border crossing is closed.

August 12th, 2012 - NATO advises US units to leave Germany and England. Soldiers who do not wish to return to the US are invited to stay and many do so. Remaining US Forces are withdrawn and evacuate via Airlift. Whatever heavy equipment could not be flown out is demilitarized and left behind by withdrawing US Federal Troops. The US is given 30 days to remove all Personnel. US responds by banning flights from the US to NATO and EU countries by Executive Order. Thousands of stranded travelers, students and businessmen unable to flee before begin to make their way to Blue States or to the Canadian or Mexican border in order to return to their home country. US units in Iraq and units remaining in Afghanistan are attacked by insurgents. The units in Afghanistan are few since the withdrawal was almost complete. Those units institute a fighting withdrawal as they flee by transport aircraft. Units in Iraq are surrounded as they hole up in Baghdad.

August 14th, 2012 - US Navy personnel at the US Base in Yokohama are asked to leave by Japanese authorities. What forces do not turn themselves over for asylum to Japanese Self-Defense Forces withdraw to Korea, Guam and Hawaii or are tasked to assist in the evacuation of US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

August 15, 2012 - US borders are closed to departing persons by Presidential decree. Units of the Department of Homeland Security are placed under the Eric Prince, (Head of the RED) and Law Enforcement is Federalized under the RED by Executive Order.

August 17, 2012 - In what is typical of many abuses by the RED, a 20 year old woman in Denver is executed for failing to wear a dress according to the new dress code instituted under the "Gods Order" Laws. Hair Salons and beauty shops are ordered closed and the sale of makeup and birth control devices are banned.

September 12th, 2012 - US Forces complete withdrawal from NATO countries.

September 15th, 2012 - Oregon is invaded by US Federal troops in an attempt to quash their rebellion.

September 20th, 2012 - Portland is bombed by US Air Force and by Cruise Missiles launched from US Naval vessels in the Pacific.

September 30th, 2012 - Portland, Oregon falls to Federal troops as the last pockets of the Oregon National Guard surrender. Lacking sufficient manpower, resources and equipment the Oregon forces were doomed form the start. Some officers and men are executed summarily by Federal troops by order of the President. The Governor of Oregon is hanged by executive order. The hanging is broadcast live on Fox News as a warning to all who would oppose Gods Order.

October 10th, 2012 - In a meeting in the Adirondacks, the Governors and key legislators of the various remaining Blue States elect the Governor of New York as de facto head of the government. The declare all Federal Laws and the Constitution of the US the was extant before the new administration to be in force in the area. They adopt the name Free United States as their name. The Council of Governors and the heads of the various state national guard units begin the process of coordinating strategies to maintain their republic and the safety of the people therein.

October 15, 2012 - Units of the New York National Guard attempt to seize Fort Drum, the HQ of the 10th Mountain Division and are successful as the units are understrength due to the mutiny. In a coordinated operation, Blue Rebel units seize federal facilities in their states and imprison Federal officers who refuse to join in the rebellion.

October 25, 2012 - US Federal Forces mass at the New York Border in Northern Pennsylvania in a standoff that lasts approximately two months.

November 1st, 2012 - Fighter sweeps begin as the US Air Force attempts to gain Air Superiority over the area controlled by the Free US.

November 10th, 2012 - A raid by rebel navy units of the Free US Navy based in Groton, Connecticut responding from Submarines, seize the remaining ships based at the Diego Garcia Naval facility which contain ammunition, vehicles and supplies for the Rapid Deployment Forces. They are then spirited to New York for use by the Free US Military. (Although the USNS Bob Hope is sunk by the Federally controlled USS Sacramento, the Sacramento is then sunk by Free US units defending the Convoy).

November 20th, 2012 - This the middle of a period of relative calm as both sides take steps to consolidate their positions. The RED continues to round up various groups people who practice non-Christian religions and ship them to Detroit (if they are in the East) or San Francisco (in the West). Some practicing witches other Pagan religions are summarily executed rather than shipped off because they worship Satan or practice religions against "Gods will." Prices rise for goods and services in the Federal states as world trade increasingly becomes disrupted. Groups of RED officers continue to make sweeps across Oregon looking for Blue State sympathizers. They adopt the Celtic cross as a logo on their uniforms and wear armbands with the logo on them. Its a symbol that becomes increasingly associate with "Gods Order."

However, the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have had their toll on Federal forces. The Oregon attack proved brutal on many and the prospect of shooting their own citizens has had the effect of polarizing some soldiers.

Blue state units attempt to fortify their positions with the limited manpower and resources available to them. Many of the new arrivals who manage to slip in have abilities to assist. Tens of Thousands head to the Blue States to attempt to slip in and get away from the repression of "Gods Order." While they would love to assist, Canada and other NATO countries have to have an official neutral stance given the nuclear capability of the Federal Forces and the lack of it on the Blue State side. (While some soldiers and units escaped with Nuclear Weapons, in many cases the codes did not come with them and the weapons are few and far between).

Several overseas US Federal military bases and facilities are seized by their host governments. Air Forces continue a battle of wits over the skies of the Blue States as they attempt to maintain air travel to and from the rest of the world.

December 27th, 2012 - An Air Canada Airbus A320 is shot down by a USAF fighter for "violating" the Federal Airspace restricted zone around the Blue States. The shooting is accidental, but the effect is to drive Canada into the rebel camp. US Federal troops are massing at the southern border in preparation for an expected invasion of New York.

January 15th, 2013 - NATO officially begins to assist clandestinely the Free US forces by shipping whatever spare parts were left at US bases in Europe and other countries which were seized after US forces left. Since many spares are universal among the NATO countries, the transfer of parts offers a respite the Free US Forces need.

January 25th, 2013 - The countries of Kenya and Uganda officially offer support the US Federal Government. Several other Christian-dominated African countries on the western coast offer their support as well.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I wonder if he does everything God tells him to do

May 20, 6:19 PM EDT

Man tells cops God told him to stroll in the nude

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) -- A man who told police that God told him to walk the streets naked to save his soul has been arrested. Thibodaux police responded to an obscenity complaint around 2 a.m. Thursday and found Shafiq Mohamed walking nude down the street. When approached, Mohamed reportedly told officers that "America raped him" and added God told him to walk the streets naked to save his soul.

Mohamed was taken into custody and charged with obscenity. He was booked into the Lafourche Parish Detention Center where he awaited bail.

It was not immediately known whether Mohamed has an attorney.

� 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Martin Niem�ller updated for 2010

In researching this I had to read the original poem by Niemoller which, translated from German reads thus:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Now this poem has been quoted many ways, but from my research this is the original. There have been variants which have included the Catholics, the Homosexuals, and what have you. Niemoller varied it depending on the year.

What would the modern version say?

First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist and they were our enemy anyway so I was not concerned.

Then they came for the anti-war protesters. I wasn't necessarally for the war, but then we stopped fighting the war, and they faded away.

Then President Reagan fired all the Air Traffic Controllers because they had the audacity to strike. I thought Reagan did the right thing because it disrupted my travel plans. In fact, we needed to get rid of all those pesky unions and their silly rules to keep the corporations in check. We let Reagan do that and now we have no unions.

Then they deregulated the banks. They let banks sell insurance and play the stock market with our savings. I didn't say anything because I was getting rich and my 401 K was getting large.

Then they came for those "Activist Judges," you know, the ones who "leglislate from the bench." Yeah, those judges that made Abortion legal and forced us to go to school with black kids. Yeah, we got those guys out of there and replaced them with judges who say that corporations are people and that even though that fella Al Gore got the most votes, that George Bush was the man who won the election and he should be President of the United States.

Then they came for the Welfare recipients. I didn't care because they were lazy bastards anyway and we needed to get them to work. It didn't matter that the only jobs they could get were the menial ones that didn't pay anything, no child care and if the welfare recipient was a single mother left the child at home to raise themselves. I didn't care just as long as those welfare mothers had a job and weren't on the dole.

Then the came for the Arabs. I didn't care because the Arabs had smashed some planes into our buildings. Anyone who wore a rag was suspect as far as I was concerned. "Kill them all," I said, "and let God sort them out." It didn't matter that the Arabs we rounded up didn't have anything to do with the Arabs who flew the planes into those buildings. It didn't matter that the country we bought most of our oil from and had a repressive religious regime and that was where the Arabs who flew the planes came from.

Then we invaded Afghanistan. I thought that was good since the terrorists who flew the planes were trained there. But we didn't go in with enough troops and I thought that was strange.

Then we invaded Iraq. I thought that was good since they were Arab, we had fought them before, and they might have had something to do with those planes hitting those buildings. (Even though, as mentioned before, the country where most of those terrorists came from wasn't Iraq).

Then they came for the new President. They said he was a Muslim, that he wasn't born in the United States and since he wouldn't show his birth certificate (even though the State of Hawaii has it on file and there are announcements on the day of his birth in the newspapers in Honolulu) he wasn't the legitimate President of the United States. They accused him of being a Socialist and a Fascist even though he was neither.

Then they came for the Mexicans. Well, that was OK since Mexicans steal our jobs. (Still, I don't think for all the tea in China I would work some of the jobs that Mexicans do, so they really aren't stealing those jobs are they?)

Then they changed the textbooks. Thomas Jefferson was an idiot they said, so we should ignore him because he believed in the separation of church and state.. Instead we need to study people like Phillis Schfley, and Newt Gingrich and things like the Contract with America. Joe McCarthy might have been right in his pursuit of Communists even though he destroyed many lives of people who had nothing to do with communism and his lists were lies. We need to study Jefferson Davis and the wonderful contributions his cause made to the United States and that his words mean as much to the country as those of Abraham Lincoln and are just as great. We don't need to study people who didn't contribute much like the Latinos, since they didn't do much to make Texas what it is today. There were "unintended consequences" of things like the Civil Rights movement. And that the United States is a "Christian Nation" in spite of the fact that most of our Founding Fathers argued for a strict separation of Church and State because the kings had used the church to control the populace and we elected our leaders, they weren't selected by God, but by the people.

Who will they come for next?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Typical of Texas politics

May 17, 9:06 AM EDT

Gov. Perry's temporary digs costs Texas big bucks

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- With the state facing a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent almost $600,000 in public money during the past two years to live in a sprawling rental home in the hills above the capital, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

It costs more than $10,000 a month in rent, utilities and upkeep to house Perry in a five-bedroom, seven-bath mansion that has pecan-wood floors, a gourmet kitchen and three dining rooms. Perry has also spent $130,000 in campaign donations to throw parties, buy food and drink, and pay for cable TV and a host of other services since he moved in, the records show.

The public spending on Perry's rental comes as the state grapples with a budget shortfall forecast to reach at least $11 billion over the next two years. Perry has asked state agencies to cut their budgets by 5 percent and the Republican House speaker has begun to consider furloughs and shortened workweeks for state employees.

Ethics watchdogs, meanwhile, say Perry's campaign may have violated state disclosure laws because of the vague way he's reported what his staff calls "incidental" spending at the mansion.

"Anybody who is not offended probably doesn't know what's going on," said Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco, the Texas House Democratic leader. To spend so much while asking state agencies to spend less, Dunnam said, is "just rank hypocrisy."

Perry dismissed such criticism with a laugh when asked by the AP about the costs of living in the exclusive Barton Creek Estates neighborhood in West Austin: "If that's the best cut anybody's got of leadership in the state of Texas, then bring it on."

Texas' longest-serving governor moved into his temporary home in the fall of 2007, leaving the white columned, two-story governor's mansion so it could undergo repairs. A still-unsolved arson wrecked the 1856 residence less than a year later, and officials say it will take another two years to finish its reconstruction.

His 6,386-square-foot rental sits on more than three acres and was advertised in 2007 for sale at $1.85 million. Perry's state-paid expenses at the home include $18,000 for "consumables" such as household supplies and cleaning products, $1,001.46 in window coverings from upscale retailer Neiman Marcus, a $1,000 "emergency repair" of the governor's filtered ice machine, a $700 clothes rack, and a little over $70 for a two year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine.

Maintenance on the heated pool has cost taxpayers at least $8,400, and the tab for grounds and lawn maintenance has topped $44,000, the records show. All told, taxpayers have spent at least $592,000 for rent, utilities, repairs, furnishings and supplies since Perry moved in.

By comparison, the Texas governor's mansion is wholly owned by the state - there is no rent or mortgage to pay. As currently configured, it has about 9,900 total square feet, but most is public space packed with historic artifacts. Only 2,750 square feet is dedicated to the governor's residence.

Democratic critics have said Perry and his wife, Anita, could live in a downtown apartment while the mansion is under repair. Should he win in November, Democrat Bill White, the former Houston mayor and multimillionaire lawyer challenging Perry's bid for a third full term, told the AP he would rent his own home until the mansion is repaired.

The records detailing the amount of public money spent on Perry's temporary home came from the governor's office, the State Preservation Board and the Texas Facilities Commission, and were obtained by the AP through the Texas Public Information Act. Perry's office is still fighting the release of at least 10 e-mails about his temporary residence.

The governor's staff said Perry, who earns $150,000 a year as governor, has cut back on some luxuries in response to the state's tight finances. Spokeswoman Allison Castle said he has just one housekeeper, one full-time chef - although a second chef works part time - and a mansion administrator who left and was not replaced. Along with a steward, the salaries for the five mansion employees cost taxpayers $195,770 a year, records show. The governor's security detail occupies the guest house.

Castle also said Perry and his wife lessen the burden on taxpayers by using campaign funds to pay for their expenses and reimburse the fund for their own food. For the 28 months from September 2007 through the end of 2009, the campaign-funded "Mansion Fund" has incurred costs of over $130,000, including more than $56,000 for food and beverages. Thousands more were spent on flowers, tent set-ups and other rentals, the cable bill, invitations and unspecified "services."

That spending tops more than $810,000 in all since Perry took office in 2001.

"These are non-taxpayer dollars that go for entertaining and various costs that a governor's residence would have," said Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner. "These are the same policies that were implemented for numerous governors before Rick Perry."

Perry's aides add the governor, who has made officeholder transparency a signature issue of his 2010 campaign, has fully complied with ethics and transparency laws that govern such spending.

But Perry's state disclosure reports describe the $810,000 directed to the "Mansion Fund" generically as "Mansion Expenditures," despite state requirements that recipients of political dollars be listed by name along with a description of the goods or services they provide.

"It's a fact question on a case by case basis to determine whether the actual payee has been disclosed," said Tim Sorrells, the deputy general counsel at the Texas Ethics Commission.

Sorrells stressed that he could not specifically speak about Perry's report. But ethics watchdog Fred Lewis, an Austin lawyer and activist who for years has urged the Legislature to tighten political disclosure rules, said Perry's reports may not comply with the law.

"When you do not describe who the payee is, and do not describe what the services or goods are, it's impossible for anybody to know whether the expenditures comply with the law or whether it is an expenditure for something that the public would like or dislike," Lewis said.

� 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Mama Test

I got this from a female friend.  Feel free to borrow it.


I was out walking with my 4-year-old daughter. She picked up something off

of the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away

from her and I asked her not to do that. 'Why?' my daughter asked.

'Because it's been on the ground; You don't know where it's been, it's

dirty and probably has germs,' I replied. At this point, my daughter

looked at me with total admiration and asked, 'Mama, how do you know all

this stuff? you are so smart.' I was thinking quickly and replied, 'All

moms know this stuff..... It's on the Mama Test. You have to know it, or

they don't let you be a Mama.'

We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, But she was evidently

pondering this new information. 'Oh.....I get it!' she beamed, 'So if you

don't pass the test you have to be the dad.' 'Exactly,' I replied with a

big smile on my face.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Sad Ending of a St. Louis Tradition

In the next few days, in spite of all efforts to the contrary, one of the great institutions of St. Louis will cease to exist. I speak of our award winning classical music radio station, KFUO. Since 1948, KFUO has broadcast its 100,000 watt signal filled with wonderful sounds of classical music throughout the St. Louis area. It has won many awards and is among the highest rated classical music radio stations in the nation.

However, its ownership, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, decided it was loosing money on the station and decided to sell it a couple of years ago. When the news came out, a group of listeners decided to put up the money to buy the station from its owners. However, the church was determined to adhere to its political and religious agenda rather than the loyalty of the listeners who had supported the station for years. It negotiated a deal with an organization called Joy FM which ALREADY owns and operates TWO stations in the area, broadcasting a so-called "Contemporary Christian" format to purchase the station. The deal may end up breaking the Lutheran Church here, but at least they had their way.

Local leaders petitioned the FCC contending that the deal or the transfer was not open to competitive bidding or taking the public good into account. However, the FCC apparently was not listening and the transfer was approved on or about May 7th. So, within a week, the station will be transferred and will cease broadcasting.its present format and broadcast its new format. The institutions which broadcast on KFUO, such as the St. Louis Symphony and local High School and College Symphony Orchestras, will have to look elsewhere in order to have their music go out to the public.

Again, the fundies have removed another symbol of art in their inane pursuit of spreading the Gospel.

I don;t know whether to be disgusted or just plain angry.

Our local NBC affiliate has revealed that the Catholic Church has a center where it "treats" its pedophile priests. Especially heinous offenders are sent to the center for "rehabilitation." A former employer of the center, which is much like a summer camp where the priests are left free to roam, contacted the station after she became disgusted with what the priests there were doing. Some have access to pornography. There is no real supervision.

I have real problems with this. Why is the Catholic Church treated differently from any other organization in the world? If someone did the things that some of these priests are accused of, especially in a church, they would be arrested and incarcerated at a REAL jail to be molested by REAL inmates skilled in such matters.

I invite you to watch the report at the link above and form your own opinion. My respect for the Catholic Church diminishes by the day, especially with every revelation of the actions of its leadership in covering up the actions of its clergy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recent updates on life

I finally finished my ham radio installation in my vehicle. The installation of the Yaesu FT-1802M was accomplished by several things. Not only including inventiveness, some shade tree "mechanicin" and a little blood, sweat and tears. This picture to the left shows the antenna installation I opted to do. Rather than break the factory seal on the sunroof, which would probably have resulted in a lot of headaches, roof distortion, hands sticky with silicone sealant and a leaky roof, I decided to compromise and put it through the door I use the least, the passenger side.

As an aside, on Saturday the 24rd I was awoken by my weather radio blaring an alarm about a severe Thunderstorm warning and a tornado warning for my area. As a volunteer storm spotter I leapt into action getting out in truck to start spotting and hopefully make a phone call if there was a storm. The radio hadn't been installed yet so I was armed with the cell phone with a number to the Skywarn office we have at the County EOC.

I opened my door to a yellow sky which isn't a good sign. So I watched the storm clouds gather and sure enough, it started to rain. Only this wasn't an ordinary rain, no, by all means. I think the technical term is GULLY WASHER. Like being in a car wash, except all that is being washed is also possible in the process of being blown away by the high winds being driven by the rain and vice versa. I watch to my right as my neighbors lawn furniture and radio (probably now useless due to its being drenched) start to take flight in the wind.

It was then that I started to notice my roof was leaking. One of the connector points to the sunroof hatch was leaking by drips. Not too bad, but then I didn't want to be wet. I began a search for something to staunch the flow and found a napkin that quickly became saturated. I couldn't see a thing due to the intensity of the rain and wind so I was not very useful at that point as a storm spotter.

I heard someone on the scanner report that someone to the west had seen a funnel cloud over St. Clair Hospital, which is the new one built just to the North west of where I live near Hwy 141 and Interstate 44. So I just have to hope it isn't heading for me. Then the funnel touched down briefly at a spot east of the West County Center Mall. Fortunately it didn't hit a mall crowded with shoppers. It damaged several homes in that area and lifted off heading for Illinois to cause more damage. Another tornado struck Overland, MO ripping apart a storage facility with one spotter reporting shopping carts and items of clothing, appliances and other articles raining from the heavens.

The most amazing thing I was to behold was on the television. KSDK apparently decided that coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks/Nashville Predators Hockey game was far more important than the fact that the city was being pummeled by tornadoes. Usually KTVI, the Fox affiliate is the one I like to watch for emergency weather info because they have a couple of professional Met guys on staff. Chris Higgins is in the Air Force Reserve and spent a year deployed to Iraq, being a lead forcaster in the Air Force office for Central Command. KMOV is usually the more panicky people but have lots of reporters and such out looking for nice pictures. Our ABC affiliate is owned by a large eastern conglomerate and has decided that we need no local news and continued to broadcast the ABC network stream or infomercials it always does.

After this event I began to tell myself I need to get myself set for the need to modify my vehicle. However, I was much too drained to do it over the weekend I encountered another wave of storms the weekend of the 30th. Tornadoes danced all around me but no damage here. I did take my Mom and myself to Shop and Save since it was a better shelter than my trailer.

Now back to the subject at hand. I finished the installation yesterday and so far it has held up and I am proud of myself The picture at the top shows my antenna installation which is a magnetic mount with plastic clips holding my antenna wire. The clips are held on with double sided foam stickey which is the same kind of installation we use for our safety lights on the vehicles at work.

Here is the installation at the rear of the vehicle for the antenna proper. You can't see any sticky clips here because they are behind the roof rack.

Now here is the dashboard installation. I got me a ashtray holder from a similar vehicle and used that for my under dash installation. I screwed the bracket for the radio to the spare and then reinstalled it in the conventional location back under the dash. I then installed the radio which is underneath the car CD player above. It is for the moment powered by a cigarette lighter socket connected to the power cable supplied by the manufacturer.

The future of the installation is shown here. This is the ashtray that came with the bracket I stripped from the salvage car. What I will do is cut off the front end of it to place in the bracket to cover the screws. It will look like the ashtray. I may also put the three socket strip I am going to use in the future in that area and that will be used to power cell phone, laptop and other items I need to power.

Now I am set up for my future storm spotting. I need to have the spark plugs swapped out with resister spark plugs to kill the interference from the engine on the radio like Jade has to do.

Next project? Installing a new rear window with a windshield wiper on the back. Stay tuned.

The Bankers Manifesto of 1892 or could it be 2010

The Bankers Manifesto of 1892

The Father and his more famous son.
Revealed by US Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, SR from Minnesota before the US Congress sometime during his term of office between the years of 1907 and 1917 to warn the citizens.

"We (the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.

The Farmers Alliance and Knights of Labor organizations in the United States should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.

At the coming Omaha Convention to be held July 4th (1892), our men must attend and direct its movement, or else there will be set on foot such antagonism to our designs as may require force to overcome. This at the present time would be premature. We are not yet ready for such a crisis. Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination (conspiracy) and legislation.

The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.

When through the process of the law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders.

History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.

The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection with the reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party.

By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expand their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers to the common herd. Thus, by discrete action, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished."

Greg Palast - Slick Operator - The BP I have known so well

Slick Operator: The BP I've Known Too Well

by: Greg Palast, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis


I've seen this movie before. In 1989, I was a fraud investigator hired to dig into the cause of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Despite Exxon's name on that boat, I found the party most to blame for the destruction was ... British Petroleum (BP).

That's important to know, because the way BP caused devastation in Alaska is exactly the way BP is now sliming the entire Gulf Coast.

Tankers run aground, wells blow out, pipes burst. It shouldn't happen, but it does. And when it does, the name of the game is containment. Both in Alaska, when the Exxon Valdez grounded, and in the Gulf last week, when the Deepwater Horizon platform blew, it was British Petroleum that was charged with carrying out the Oil Spill Response Plans (OSRP), which the company itself drafted and filed with the government.

What's so insane, when I look over that sickening slick moving toward the Delta, is that containing spilled oil is really quite simple and easy. And from my investigation, BP has figured out a very low-cost way to prepare for this task: BP lies. BP prevaricates, BP fabricates and BP obfuscates.

That's because responding to a spill may be easy and simple, but not at all cheap. And BP is cheap. Deadly cheap.

To contain a spill, the main thing you need is a lot of rubber, long skirts of it called a "boom." Quickly surround a spill, leak or burst, then pump it out into skimmers, or disperse it, sink it or burn it. Simple.

But there's one thing about the rubber skirts: you've got to have lots of them at the ready, with crews on standby in helicopters and on containment barges ready to roll. They have to be in place round the clock, all the time, just like a fire department, even when all is operating A-O.K. Because rapid response is the key. In Alaska, that was BP's job, as principal owner of the pipeline consortium Alyeska. It is, as well, BP's job in the Gulf, as principal lessee of the deepwater oil concession.

Before the Exxon Valdez grounding, BP's Alyeska group claimed it had these full-time, oil spill response crews. Alyeska had hired Alaskan natives, trained them to drop from helicopters into the freezing water and set booms in case of emergency. Alyeska also certified in writing that a containment barge with equipment was within five hours sailing of any point in the Prince William Sound. Alyeska also told the state and federal government it had plenty of boom and equipment cached on Bligh Island.

But it was all a lie. On that March night in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in the Prince William Sound, the BP group had, in fact, not a lick of boom there. And Alyeska had fired the natives who had manned the full-time response teams, replacing them with phantom crews, lists of untrained employees with no idea how to control a spill. And that containment barge at the ready was, in fact, laid up in a drydock in Cordova, locked under ice, 12 hours away.

As a result, the oil from the Exxon Valdez, which could have and should have been contained around the ship, spread out in a sludge tide that wrecked 1,200 miles of shoreline.

And here we go again. Valdez goes Cajun.

BP's CEO Tony Hayward reportedly asked, "What the hell did we do to deserve this?"

It's what you didn't do, Mr. Hayward. Where was BP's containment barge and response crew? Why was the containment boom laid so damn late, too late and too little? Why is it that the US Navy is hauling in 12 miles of rubber boom and fielding seven skimmers, instead of BP?

Last year, CEO Hayward boasted that, despite increased oil production in exotic deep waters, he had cut BP's costs by an extra one billion dollars a year. Now we know how he did it.

As chance would have it, I was meeting last week with Louisiana lawyer Daniel Becnel Jr. when word came in of the platform explosion. Daniel represents oil workers on those platforms; now, he'll represent their bereaved families. The Coast Guard called him. They had found the emergency evacuation capsule floating in the sea and were afraid to open it and disturb the cooked bodies.

I wonder if BP painted the capsule green, like they paint their gas stations.

Becnel, yesterday by phone from his office from the town of Reserve, Louisiana, said the spill response crews were told they weren't needed because the company had already sealed the well. Like everything else from BP mouthpieces, it was a lie.

In the end, this is bigger than BP and its policy of cheaping out and skiving the rules. This is about the anti-regulatory mania, which has infected the American body politic. While the tea baggers are simply its extreme expression, US politicians of all stripes love to attack "the little bureaucrat with the fat rule book." It began with Ronald Reagan and was promoted, most vociferously, by Bill Clinton and the head of Clinton's deregulation committee, one Al Gore.

Americans want government off our backs ... that is, until a folding crib crushes the skull of our baby, Toyota accelerators speed us to our death, banks blow our savings on gambling sprees and crude oil smothers the Mississippi.

Then, suddenly, it's, "Where was hell was the government? Why didn't the government do something to stop it?"

The answer is because government took you at your word they should get out of the way of business, that business could be trusted to police itself. It was only last month that BP, lobbying for new deepwater drilling, testified to Congress that additional equipment and inspection wasn't needed.

You should meet some of these little bureaucrats with the fat rule books. Like Dan Lawn, the inspector from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, who warned and warned and warned, before the Exxon Valdez grounding, that BP and Alyeska were courting disaster in their arrogant disregard of the rule book. In 2006, I printed his latest warnings about BP's culture of negligence. When the choice is between Lawn's rule book and a bag of tea, Lawn's my man.

This just in: Becnel tells me that one of the platform workers has informed him that the BP well was apparently deeper than the 18,000 feet depth reported. BP failed to communicate that additional depth to Halliburton crews, who, therefore, poured in too small a cement cap for the additional pressure caused by the extra depth. So, it blew.

Why didn't Halliburton check? "Gross negligence on everyone's part," said Becnel. Negligence driven by penny-pinching, bottom-line squeezing. BP says its worker is lying. Someone's lying here, man on the platform or the company that has practiced prevarication from Alaska to Louisiana.

Creative Commons License
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Greg Palast has investigated the illegal disenfranchisement of voters for BBC Television, "Rolling Stone" (with Robert Kennedy Jr.), "Harper's," "The Nation" and Palast co-authored the investigative comic book, "Steal Back Your Vote" with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., available in full-color print or for download at for a donation to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Politics has come full circle

We have come back to the beginning of our political struggle. In the early late 1800's and early 1900's, we lived in a world vastly different from today. People lived in squalid tenements. they worked 12 hours a day in factories often times with their children with them for pennies. The working conditions were horrendous. Machines were unsafe often maiming or killing their operators. They were machines that would not be stopped because those in charge did not want to loose money to down production time. Workers were treated like expendable property. Robber barons played Monopoly with real buildings, real cities, real railroads and real people. They controlled the political process through intimidation, graft, thuggery and other despicable acts.

The few progressives started a battle to gain rights for workers and the people so they would no longer be treated as wage slaves and property to be used up at a bosses whim. They stopped work and took on the strike breaking thugs employed by business owners. They gave us gifts we take for granted today. Break time, Lunch time, the Eight Hour day, the weekend and vacations are things we have thanks to those few who fought those battles so that we might enjoy freedom to be people and not endure the constant drudgery of work. The populist progressives battled the trusts, the affluent, the political elite, the Klan and its minions, and the robber barons. All of these disparate battles combined and resulted in a nation that won the Second World War, gave us the greatest standard of living we ever had, landed on the moon, and gave us a generation of statesmen who accomplished much.

Something changed in the 1980's. We elected a president who said that government was the problem and that business was too shackled by onerous regulation which limited the ability to gather wealth and power. We were told that we needed to change things to give us wealth. We forgot the lessons of that greatest generation, and now we have had the rise of abject poverty, the greed of the corporate capitalists, and a nation falling apart at the seams. The conservatives dismantled the regulatory framework which kept the greedy in check, and resulted in a generation of greed. The result of which has created the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression.

Now politics has come full circle. Most of the populist progressivism which resulted in the nation we had up to the Reagan era (which created the politics we live in today) happened in the early 20th Century. That world of progress was dismantled and now the world is a bastardized mess of greed and avarice. The rich and the powerful roam at will in our halls of power and dictate policies which affect the lives of millions. They exploit the people, lie, cheat and steal with impunity and are rewarded with riches. We live in this world of our creation and ignore it at our own peril.

We now have to again fight those battles since we forgot those lessons. We need to rise up and take back what is ours, our rights to be free of greed and those who would exploit us in the blind pursuit of wealth. Our world can be bright again. We can enjoy freedom from poverty again. We only have to have the courage to change the world we live in.

One reason I am against Concealed Carry Laws

May 5, 2:37 PM EDT

Woman's gun stolen after leaving it in restroom

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- A 24-year-old Juneau woman went into a public restroom packing heat and left burned. The Juneau Police Department reports Veronica Valle-Arnes was carrying a Ruger .380 - a small pocket pistol - worth about $400 with her Friday night.

She told police she took the gun out of her waistband and set it on top of a toilet paper dispenser in the women's room at the Fisherman's Wharf, a building on Juneau's downtown waterfront with a bar, eateries and shops.

She told police she forgot to pick it back up. When she realized it was missing a few moments later, she returned to the restroom but the gun was gone.

� 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fox News, Nazis and the Tea Party

This was an interesting article I encountered this morning. Apparently, any attempt to connect the Tea Party to its similarity to the Nazi movement of the 1930's is sacrosanct. The very fact that Tea Party protesters keep calling the President a "Nazi" and a "Fascist" shows no real understanding of the true meaning of the terms. Several definitions are available for these terms and the previous administration was well on the road to fulfilling the true definitions of the terms mentioned above.

I Was the Target of a Fox News Hoax

When I was asked to address a conference at Brandeis, a right-wing shock jock created a hoax to stir up the right. Then Glenn Beck ran with it.
Photo Credit:

The story surfaces nationally with a surreal Glenn Beck segment and two ludicrous Fox News discussions highlighting the false claim that Brandeis University was hosting an international conference linking the Tea Party movement to Nazis in Europe. The conference, which took place yesterday, revealed the entire propaganda campaign was a hoax, but not before anguished Holocaust survivors, conservative Jews in the Tea Party movement, and others had deluged Brandeis University with complaints.

Now it seems that the story emerged as part of a Fox News campaign to defend the diverse and complicated Tea Party movement from evidence that its supporters include a significant contingent of White people who harbor racial resentment against Blacks and Latinos/Latinas.

For the original Brandeis story on Fox News reporters relied on the claims of a single local Boston Tea Party advocate and conservative talk radio shock jock, Michael Graham, for its information. So Fox News featured the offensive hoax based on biased hearsay, unsubstantiated supposition, and a misreading of the conference program by a person who is a Tea Party supporter

The Glenn Beck segment drifted farther away from facts and logic.
Glenn Beck segment:
3:20 Brandeis conference denounced
6:00 Beck tells viewers to contact Brandeis

As Media Matters for America observed, apparently the most significant aspect of the story for Beck was that the university was named after the late Jewish scholar and Supreme Court justice, Louis D. Brandeis. For Beck, wrote a Media Matters researcher, the "Brandeis University symposium on political extremism is suspect because Louis Brandeis was in [Woodrow] Wilson's cabinet;" the quip accompanies a link to that portion of Beck's tirade which skirted on the thin ice of classic antisemitic conspiracy claims about manipulation of politics by powerful elite Jews.

Since I was a conference participant, and part of the hoax was based on the title of my paper, "From Tea Parties to Armed Militias," I am writing this from a personal perspective. And am I pissed off? You betcha!

Unlike Fox News and the right-wing blogosphere, some people actually contacted me before the conference and fact-checked the claims. Not Graham, who wrote an op-ed in the Boston Herald repeating his false claims.

My conference paper, which clearly stated that I did not think that Tea Party activists were Nazis, was presented at an interdisciplinary conference coordinated by the Brandeis Center for German and European Studies. The conference title was "New Right-Wing Radicalism: A Transatlantic Perspective." A range of scholars with demonstrable expertise on the subject from Europe and United States were invited.

When Brandeis realized the conference program was being misinterpreted, it issued the following statement:

On April 28, the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis University is hosting a conference on the rise of right-wing radicalism.

The event, which features speakers from a variety of universities and institutions, focuses on developments in Europe, including the rise of neo-Nazi and anti-semitic groups. It also includes discussion of a wide range of movements and activities in the United States, from the extreme and violent to the Tea Party, as a point of comparison.

The logo created for the conference showed a swastika inside the international symbol of negation, reflecting the legitimate concern people feel over the activities, often violent, of neo-Nazi extremists.

Unfortunately, this logo created an impression that Brandeis and the conference organizers equated a range of organizations, including the Tea Party in the United States, with extremist groups on both continents.

That was not the intention of the faculty, staff or students of the University who were involved in creating the conference, and Brandeis regrets the unintended association and pain this caused. The logo has been removed from the event page promoting the conference

So Brandeis understood that the agony for Holocaust survivors caused by the hoax media claims required a revised graphic and an apology. Good for Brandeis. No apologies yet from Fox News for not bothering to fact-check the allegations before misrepresenting the Brandeis program on national television and spawning a storm of controversy on the right-wing side of the Internet.

After the conference Fox News continued to beat the dead horse droppings of their manufactured story. They featured Graham, who is publicizing himself by contacting other conservative outlets such as Accuracy in Media and highlighting his role in publicizing what he calls a scandal and I call a hoax.

Fox News is using the Brandeis controversy to insulate the Tea Parties from increasing media coverage of racism and xenophobia within the movement. I reviewed the racial bias in the Tea Parties in my Brandeis presentation yesterday.

On their first story about the Brandeis conference Fox News sandbagged NPR commentator Juan Williams who was asked to comment on the charge that the Tea Party activists were Nazis. Not surprisingly Williams thought the charge was outlandish. It is. It is also a hoax. Williams should be more alert to the idea that Fox News would exploit William's skin color as a way to dismiss increasing evidence of racial bias in the movement.

Victor Goode on RaceWire, the Colorlines Blog, summarized a New York Times poll that "shows that while their most important concern is the economy, they often view this issue through the lens of racially tinted glasses."

The University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality has released a study that shows the "tea party is not just about politics and size of government. The data suggests it may also be about race" study author Christopher Parker, explained. The study asked questions about the trustworthiness and intelligence of Black and Latino/Latina people in the United States, and showed that Tea Party supporters are significantly more prone to prejudice, than those who oppose the movement.

According to a University press release:

Indeed, strong support for the tea party movement results in a 45 percent decline in support for health care reform compared with those who oppose the tea party. "While it's clear that the tea party in one sense is about limited government, it's also clear from the data that people who want limited government don't want certain services for certain kinds of people. Those services include health care,"Parker said.

Some defenders of the Tea Parties go so far as to claim the movement is not on the political right at all. David A Graham on the Newsweek Web site has put together a photo essay depicting similar historic conservative movements. According to Graham, "the United States has a long tradition of reactionary, conservative, populist movements, dating back to before the Civil War. Many of them included racial or ethnic prejudice and hostility toward immigrants.

The second Fox News program on the Brandeis affair, after the conference, attempted to divert attention away from the potential anti-immigrant trends in the Tea Parties. One recent Tea Party event featured anti-immigrant Machiavellian mastermind Tom Tancredo--a notorious bigot and racist. The former Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo told a Tea Party rally in South Carolina that Obama should be sent back to Africa.

One of the core themes of Beck and Fox News is that fascism is a left-wing movement. The subject came up at the Brandeis conference, and one of the German scholars observed that while it was undeniably true that national socialists led by Gregor Strasser played an important role in the Nazi Party, the 1934 R�hm-Putsch (aka the Night of the Long Knives), terminated the revolutionary socialist agenda of the Nazi Party. He said, however, it was generally accepted that German Nazism was a right-wing movement.

I was part of a group of scholars asked by the History News Network to review Jonah Goldberg's book, Liberal Fascism, and all of us thought the claims and analysis in the book were unsubstantiated, and contradicted the majority scholarship.

The discussion of the role of angry middle-class right-wing populist movements intersecting with opportunistic politicians and media demagogues to facilitate the formation of fascist and neo fascist movements is well studied in scholarly literature. But hyperbolic claims from the political Left that the Tea Party movement itself is a Nazi movement flow from deeply inaccurate and superficial perceptions about the nature of fascism and the actual attitudes within the Tea Party movement.

There is, however, a set of dynamics that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as "Rage on the Right," that involves the Patriot Movement, the Militias, Anti-immigrant groups, and the Ultra Right including neonazis.

In recent months a number of progressive scholars and journalists have opened up a discussion about these dynamics, most recently Noam Chomsky, but preceded by Sara Robinson, David Neiwert, author of The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right.

This is not the same as denouncing the Tea Party movement as Nazis. It is a comparative analysis of the role of right-wing populist movements in Germany during the Weimar regime, and the role they played in the decision of elite faction in Germany to give power to Hitler to solve the "crisis;" but also to block the growing power of socialist and communist parties and movements.

That's not the situation in the U.S. today. The Tea Party movement is not on the verge of joining the tiny "groupuscule" of neonazis in our country. It is far more likely they will pull the Republican Party further to the right -- chased by the Democrats led by deluded spin doctors who apparently control what passes for Democratic Party strategy built around snidely deriding the Tea Party activists as ignorant and lunatic "wing-nuts."

Of course like all populist social movements on the right or left, the Tea Party could collapse in a few months, or merge into a revitalized Republican Party, or splinter into segments built around libertarianism, xenophobic anti-immigrant activism, Gun Rights, anti-Muslim fears, and the Christian Right gender-drive social agenda of pushing gay people back into the closet and forcing women into back alleys for abortions. Nobody knows for sure.

Shock Jock Graham apparently missed the parts of my presentation dealing with why a comparative analysis of how the Tea Party, Town Hall, and Militia movements interact in a dynamic way with the Republican Party on one side and organized insurgent ultra-right movements on the other side. He might have picked up one of the diagrams I distributed at the conference, but if so, he apparently missed the point. (this version is from 2009, as it shows how long I have used this analytical lens mentioning the reformist and dissident Tea Party movement as situated between the reformist Conservative Right and the Insurgent Ultra Right including neonazis.

I have also explained the dynamic of how angry right-wing populism can lead to aggression and violence, especially against people of color and immigrants, on Religion Dispatches, and in the Progressive magazine in a February cover story titled Taking Tea Partiers Seriously."

Since Graham apparently has not bothered to actually read any of my work, or else he simply ignores its content. So here is the text from the end of my Brandeis conference paper:

...Fascism exploits anger and frustration and directs it into demonization and scapegoating; creating a potential for aggression and violence that in the worst case scenario can end in genocide.

The work of Fritzsche and others on voting patterns in Weimar Germany demonstrates that in the late 1920s Hitler's Nazi Party was able to exploit the fears of exasperated middle class voters by promising to fix a broken economic and political system.

After the First World War Yeats wrote in his poem "The Second Coming" :

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Most right-wing populist movements never become fascist, and most fascist movements never gain state power; but the turmoil created in these volatile periods can undermine civil society, and harm the individuals targeted as scapegoats.

Even if you think my presentation is hogwash, please understand that no one at Brandeis and no panelist here today, including me, ever meant to suggest that the Tea Party movement was the equivalent of the Nazi Party. We all thought that was obvious.

A simple Internet search would have demonstrated that I have repeatedly condemned the trivialization, mockery, and name-calling aimed at the participants in the Tea Party movement.

For media demagogues to exploit the agony of the Holocaust for political gain and to attract personal attention is offensive to this audience, the Brandeis community, Jews around the world, and every decent person on this planet.

You may disagree with everything I said here today, but know that the point of conferences like this is to ensure we have learned the horrible lessons of the Nazi genocide, and continuously explore it from a variety of perspectives. And I hope all of us here today can agree on one point... Never Again!


This post is my personal rant (see, for example going Santelli) . It does not in any way represent the views of my employer, my freelance editors, or the many subversive pinko human rights groups to which I belong or support as a board member or advisor.

More on right-wing populism is here

Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates, is editor of the book, Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash (South End Press).

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