Posted: April 7, 2013 Filed under: abortion rights, Barack Obama, Congress, crops, Cuba, Discrimination against women, Environment, Environmental Protection, Farming, Federal Budget, Foreign Affairs, History, legislation, Monsanto, morning reads, Paycheck Fairness Act, PLUB Pro-Life-Until-Birth, racism, Reproductive Rights, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups, the GOP, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights | Tags: Afro-Cubans, Assholes, CNN, cuba, ERA, Fidel Castro, George A Strock, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Roberto Zurbano, Soladad O'Brien
We have come to the end of spring break, it is amazing to me how fast time flies by…I have some interesting links for you, some of them I have saved for a little while, you may just want to come back to them during the day.
By the way, later tonight is the season premiere of Mad Men, I don’t know about you…but I sure am looking forward to it.
Y’all know that CNN made the huge mistake of sacking Soledad O’Brien last month. The Guardian had an article about her last appearance on the network:
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien signs off with call for ‘tough conversations’
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien at belated 60th birthday celebrations for Chaka Khan. Photograph: Startraks Photo / Rex Features
CNN host Soledad O’Brien signed off on Friday with a call for the network not to back away from “tough and honest conversations”.
O’Brien, who has built a reputation for hard-hitting interviews, said on the last edition of her morning show, Starting Point, that “facts matter”.
The new CNN boss, Jeff Zucker, cancelled O’Brien’s show, which has performed poorly in the ratings, and announced on Thursday that it will be replaced by a new show hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.
In a short closing monologue on Friday, O’Brien said CNN had given her the chance to cover some of the biggest stories of our time and said she would continue to focus on “good journalism”.
She said: “My tenure at the helm of this show ends today, and I’m not going to be covering daily news at CNN after today. Over the last decade at CNN I’ve had a really great chance to cover some of the biggest stories, I think it’s fair to say, of our time.”
O’Brien recalled when she and a CNN team received a standing ovation at the airport in New Orleans after covering hurricane Katrina.
“So I think if I’ve learned anything over the past year it’s that facts matter,” she continued. “And we shouldn’t be afraid to have tough and honest conversations and maybe even argue a little bit when there’s a lot at stake, and yes, Governor Sununu, I am talking to you.”
You remember that interview don’t you? Soladad kicked Sununu’s ass! O’Brien told the Guardian that CNN did not provide a lot of support for her show Starting Point. They did not get a lot of promotion and were not fully staffed. No wonder, with CNN going down the shit bucket of news. In fact, you need to see this bit Jon Stewart did this past week:
Jon Stewart Tears Apart CNN: Neither Left Nor Right, But On A ‘Steady Spiral Downward’
Stewart then turned to CNN, a network that is neither leaning left nor right, but is instead on a “steady spiral downward.” He took on the new approach of CNN executive Jeff Zucker to the news, mockingly saying things like “I love brunch! Who doesn’t love brunch? That’s news!”
Stewart brought up some graphic faux pas of CNN, including (for some reason) a CNN personality standing in the middle of a virtual field of goats. And most egregiously of all, CNN showed off a live recreation of the Jodi Arias crime scene, complete with dead boyfriend in a pool of blood on the floor.
Of course, new changes don’t come without new show experiments, and following the success of The Five and The Cycle, CNN is testing out a new primetime show called (Get To) The Point. Stewart figured CNN must have “mistook what people are constantly yelling” at the screen for a show pitch. He showed clips of the show’s hosts talking about important subjects like lizard people and vegetarians who eat bacon.
What Stewart loved the most about the show was that when promos for this new program appear on the screen during other CNN shows, it looks like a subtle jab at whoever’s talking to get to the damn point already.
Go watch the video clips…my gawd, what shit CNN is pulling out their ass now a days!
Now, this next article is something I also saved from a while back, funny how it has caused quite a controversy of late….anyway, you know that my father’s family came from Cuba back in the late 1800′s. Here is a photograph of the town Marti City, in Ocala, Florida where my great-great grandfather had one of his cigar factories. In 1890s, cigar industry flourished, died in Ocala
A horse-drawn trolley, shown in Marti City, ran south from Ocala’s railroad station along North Magnolia to Broadway, turned west and followed Broadway to haul passengers and freight to the cigar factories at Marti City.
Well, I usually share links about Cuba with you all, and this article was one I was looking forward to sharing. For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun by Roberto Zurbano
Alex Webb/Magnum Photos
“Havana, 2013” More Photos »
CHANGE is the latest news to come out of Cuba, though for Afro-Cubans like myself, this is more dream than reality. Over the last decade, scores of ridiculous prohibitions for Cubans living on the island have been eliminated, among them sleeping at a hotel, buying a cellphone, selling a house or car and traveling abroad. These gestures have been celebrated as signs of openness and reform, though they are really nothing more than efforts to make life more normal. And the reality is that in Cuba, your experience of these changes depends on your skin color.
Please, before you do anything else go and read that editorial…because it was written by a man who was fired for saying what he felt was true. Check it out: Writer of Times Op-Ed on Racism in Cuba Loses Job
The editor of a publishing house in Cuba who wrote a critical article in The New York Times opinion section about persistent racial inequality on the island, something revolutionaries proudly say has lessened, has been removed from his post, associates said on Friday.
The author, Roberto Zurbano, in an article published March 23, described a long history of racial discrimination against blacks on the island and said “racial exclusion continued after Cuba became independent in 1902, and a half century of revolution since 1959 has been unable to overcome it.”
On Friday, The Havana Times blog reported that Mr. Zurbano had told a gathering of Afro-Cuban advocates that he had been dismissed from his post at the publishing house of the Casa de las Americas cultural center, leaving the implication that the dismissal was connected to the article. Other associates said Mr. Zurbano told them he had been removed but would continue working there.
There is a lot more to it than there appears to be…
Reached by telephone in Havana, Mr. Zurbano would not comment on his employment. “What is The New York Times going to do about it?” he asked. He angrily condemned the editors of the opinion section for a change in the headline that he felt had distorted his theme.
The article’s headline, which was translated from Spanish, was “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun,” but Mr. Zurbano said that in his version it had been “Not Yet Finished.”
“They changed the headline without consulting me,” he said. “It was a huge failure of ethics and of professionalism.”
Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the editor stood by the article’s preparation.
“We worked very hard to ensure that the wording in the piece was translated properly and accurately reflected the writer’s point of view,” she said in a statement. “There were numerous versions of the piece sent back and forth, and in the end, Mr. Zurbano and our contact for him (who speaks fluent English) signed off on the final version.”
“We knew,” she added, “that Mr. Zurbano was in a sensitive situation, and we are saddened if he has indeed been fired or otherwise faced persecution, but we stand by our translation and editing, which was entirely along normal channels.”
Believe me, there is an underlying racism within the Cuban community and to say there isn’t is bullshit. Yes, it is taboo to speak of it too. However, there is a history in a little town in Florida of Cuban whites and blacks coming together to fight for labor rights.
Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.
My great-great grandfather Nicholas Santana owned a cigar factory and was partners with a black-Cuban named Sorondo who had connections with Jose Marti.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1895, Ocala FL, Marti City. My great-great grandfather’s cigar factory, Santana, Sorondo & CO., is located on the bottom left corner.
In Ybor City, Florida…you could find a small pocket of intelligence within the Southern land of Jim Crow, for racism was not prevalent in that little area of Italian, Spanish, Black, White immigrants who mostly worked for the many cigar factories. There were many Afro-Cubans, both women and men, involved in the cigar factory labor strikes in Tampa, Florida, many years ago…they were fighting with their white brothers and sisters for workers rights.
Revolution is part of the Cuban culture, and I do believe that it is fair to say that for the Black-Cuban, the revolution is not finished. It just barely started and has been put on hold, it needs to get back in gear. Racism is alive in Cuba, there is no doubt about that. And the fact that Zurbano was fired says a lot about how things are handled in Cuba.
Speaking of Cuba, there was this bit of celebrity down there: Useful Idiots: Beyoncé And Jay-Z Ignore Cuba’s Racism With Havana Trip
This week, superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to Cuba or, as the informed refer to it, “the island prison.”
While dining, partying, and enjoying the best Havana has to offer, Beyoncé and Jay-Z not only legitimize and support the repressive regime, with both their presence and their cash, but turn a blind eye, cruelly, to the perils and languishing of the Cuban people.
Both stars are proud African-Americans — yet, curiously, chose to vacation in a country notorious for relegating its black population to second-class status, or worse.
It is no surprise that many of Cuba’s top dissidents are Afro-Cubans. Did Sasha Fierce and Jigga Man find time to meet with these brave souls, or with their families? Did they mention them? Did they even think of them?
Of course not! This was not a trip to discover truth…or to learn about history or even music. Take a look at the link for a list of Afro-Cubans advocates who have either been imprisoned or killed for speaking out against the racism.
But why stop Cuba’s racism, and its atrocious human rights record, from getting in the way of a good time? After all, Jay-Z is the ‘artist’ who famously raps: “Welcome to Havana, smoking cubanos with Castro in cabanas!”
All Jay and “B,” useful idiots extraordinaire, seem to hear when visiting Cuba is: “Extra sugar on that mojito, señor?” Never mind the life-long plight of the Afro-Cuban waiter serving that drink, who casts a longing, hopeful look in their direction, only to be met with an aloof, distant smile from the two callous multi-millionaires who, while sharing his skin color, could not care less about his plight.
The photo-journalism report that went with the Zurbano op/ed can be seen here: The Ambiguous Island – Slide Show – NYTimes.com Again, I urge you to go take a look at those images.
Now, one more link out of that little Island nation down south…this made me laugh a little, Fidel Castro to North Korea: Chill
Cuba’s seemingly immortal former leader Fidel Castro, who knows a thing or two about threats of nuclear destruction, is asking both Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama to think before they do anything stupid. “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba always has been and will continue to be with her,” Castro wrote in his first state media op-ed in almost nine months, but “this is one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the October Crisis in 1962 involving Cuba, 50 years ago.”
“Now that it has demonstrated its technical and scientific advances, we remind it of its duties to other countries who have been great friends and that it would not be just to forget that such a war would affect in a special way more than 70 percent of the world’s population,” wrote Castro, who’s apparently gone soft in his old age.
While the situation in the Koreas is “incredible and absurd,” he added, he warned Obama that if bombing breaks out, he “would be buried by a flood of images that would present him as the most sinister figure in U.S. history. The duty to avoid [war)]also belongs to him and the people of the United States.”
It seems like some sort of SNL skit, doesn’t it? Castro calling North Korea “incredible and absurd.”
Okay, you want real absurd? In Tennessee some asshole is putting forward a law that makes welfare payments dependent upon the student’s grades. Tennessee Gets Closer to Passing Bill That Ties Welfare to School Grades
A Tennessee bill that would cut welfare benefits of parents with children performing poorly in school cleared committees of both the House and Senate last week.
The measure takes “a carrot and stick approach,” one of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, told the Knoxville News and Sentinel.
Seth Freed Wessler summarized the bill last month on Colorlines.com:
A Tennessee lawmaker introduced legislation last week to stop welfare payments to parents if their kids get bad grades in school. The sponsor, State Senator Stacy Campfield said, “One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education.” But he added, “We have done little to hold [parents] accountable for their child’s performance.”
The bill would chop nearly a third of family’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits, already a pittance, if their child fails to pass state competency tests or get’s held back. How exactly the threat to make poor people poorer will improve educational outcomes isn’t at all clear.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported.
You know what? My kids are not from a “broken” home, and both their parents and grandparents are college graduates…and they struggle in school. They do not get A’s and B’s…so this would be a disaster in terms of assistance if we were a “needy” family. I mention my kids performance at school because even with positive backgrounds and no worries about food and a place to sleep, a kid can be a disappointment when it comes to their grades. This is a horrible law…damn these GOP assholes.
In another education link: Can Computers Teach Students to Write Better?
Bet you can guess the answer to that.
Alright, moving on…Juan Cole had an excellent post this past week: Congress Obsessed with American Muslims, Neglects real threat of White Supremacists | Informed Comment
The shooting of Kaufman, Texas district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia remains a mystery. But investigators are increasingly looking into a cell of extremist white terrorists as the suspects. Two months ago, a county assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was murdered not far from his office at the court. (I used the term extremist white terrorists because that is what they are, but usually the American press only describes foreigners and Muslims as terrorists, while calling whites “extremists.”)
Likewise, a gang of white terrorists is suspected in the recent slaying of the head of Colorado’s prison system.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and other Islamophobes in Congress, seeking to look good to campaign donors who hate Muslims, has conducted several hearings on the alleged increased radicalization of American Muslims. Sociologists don’t find evidence of such a thing; American Muslims on the whole are relatively well-integrated into US society and are disproportionately well off and pillars of the society. The hearings are a form of McCarthyism.
No one was killed or injured in the US in 2012 by terrorists of Muslim heritage, and only 14 Americans of Muslim heritage were even indicted for violent plots. Only one act of violence was traced to such a group, which produced no casualties.
Rep. Peter King is a big supporter of the old 1980s Irish Republican Army, which killed two Americans in a bombing at Harrod’s department store in London. The man’s feet won’t touch the ground when he walks because of the rivers of hypocrisy exuding from between his toes.
Read the rest at the link.
Like I said at the beginning of this morning’s reads, lots of links for you today. More after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 17, 2013 Filed under: court rulings, morning reads, racism, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups, Tea Party activists, the GOP, U.S. Politics, War on Women, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights, worker rights | Tags: abortion rights, CPAC, North Dakota, Pope Francis, Walmart
Good Morning and
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Hope everyone enjoys their day, I am also hopeful that today we see justice prevail. A verdict is expected in the Steubenville Rape Trial . We will let you know if and when the verdict does come down…
I will start this post off with some political news, CPAC is over, the conservative party has tried to rebrand their image…they sure haven’t changed one bit. Not that I expected anything different, but the conservative nut cases definitely made some people feel unwelcome to the party.
The CPAC Hits Keep on Comin’: Black Man Tossed Out After Wingnut Screams at Him, ‘Race Doesn’t Matter’
Another graphic example of the right wing’s “minority outreach:” CPAC: Black Man Tossed Out After Breitbart Hack Screams at Him ‘Race Doesn’t Matter’.
In this video from CPAC, a black man seems like he sincerely interested in helping find a way for conservatives to appeal to other African Americans, but then he suddenly gets screamed on by a white guy who insists that “race doesn’t matter.” Which in short, summarizes why the Republicans continually lose the vote of any group that doesn’t have white skin.
And the whole scene was caught on tape:
And if you think this was the only disgusting racist outburst at CPAC you would be mistaken…When The GOP Told Whitey I Aint Gonna Take It No More
Yesterday, a CPAC breakout session on reaching out to black voters broke down in shouting and acrimony as a handful of ‘disenfranchised whites’ attacked the premise of the session (along with black complaints about slaveholders), got into a verbal fight with a black female attendee and with all that managed to unite the crowd against the black woman as the one who somehow spoiled all the fun.
TPM’s Benjy Sarlin was there right as it was all happening and wrote this eye-popping account in more or less real time.
the bigger thing coming out of this raucous event isn’t what the one or two people said — though that was probably enough to be the takeaway for many for the entire conference — as the fact that the whole imbroglio ended with denunciations of the black woman who was the one person to go into freak out mode — pretty understandably — on hearing the merits of chattel slavery being argued in the 21st century at a panel on racial tolerance and outreach.
From the Benjy Sarlin link…Tea Party Event On Racial Tolerance Turns To Chaos As ‘Disenfranchised’ Arrive
A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.
The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”
Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.
“I don’t care how much the KKK improved,” he said. “I’m not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK.”
Lines like that drew shouts of praise from some attendees and murmurs of disapproval from one non-conservative black attendee, Kim Brown, a radio host and producer with Voice of Russia, a broadcasting service of the Russian government.
But then questions and answers began. And things went off the rails.
Heh…heh, sorry for the laugh, but what the hell would you expect with a discussion entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”
Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”
Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.
“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.
At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting. Organizers calmed things down by asking everyone to “take the debate outside after the presentation.”
I have to quote a bit more of this TPM post because it is just too fantastic…
Brown, who took offense at the suggestion modern Democrats were descendants of the KKK, tried to ask a question later once things finally calmed down. She was booed and screamed at by audience members.
“Let someone else speak!” one attendee in Revolutionary War garb shouted.
“You’re not welcome!” a white-haired older woman yelled.
Eventually she asked a question. It was about whether Republicans should call out racist ads.
Attendees interviewed by TPM afterwards expressed outrage at the way the event turned out. Not at Terry and Heimbach — they were mad at Brown.
Chad Chapman, 21, one of the few black attendees, said overall he enjoyed the event — except “there were lots of interruptions, mainly because of the woman.”
I asked whether he was concerned about the question from Terry and Heimbach.
“No they were just telling the truth,” he said. You mean you agree blacks are systematically disenfranchising whites, I asked?
“I listen to anybody’s point of view, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.
A media scrum formed around Terry immediately after the close of the event. A woman wearing a Tea Party Patriots CPAC credential who had shouted down Brown earlier urged him not to give his name to the press.
She wouldn’t give her name either, but I asked her what she thought.
“Look, you know there’s no doubt the white males are getting really beat up right now, it’s unfair,” she said. “I agree with that. My husband’s one of them. But I don’t think there’s a clear understanding about what really is going on. He needs to read Frederick Douglass and I think that question should be asked to everyone in this room who is debating.”
Alright, just go to the link and read the rest…including a statement from K. Carl Smith, the man who led the session…wow.
Ralph Nader is the author of this next link: Walmart Bosses and the Minimum Wage
Last weekend on a bright, sunny day a dozen of us demonstrated at shopping malls where Walmart has three of its giant stores, supplied heavily by products from China and other serf-wage countries. But outsourcing the jobs of its American suppliers to China was not the focus last Saturday. We were drawing attention to the plight of one million Walmart workers who are making far less than what Walmart workers made in 1968 when the minimum wage was the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $10.50 an hour today.
In 1968 Walmart was run by its founder, the legendary Sam Walton, who started with one store in Bentonville, Arkansas. Sam had to pay his workers wages that were worth much more than wages today because the law required him to do so.
The clenched-jawed CEO opposition to catching the minimum wage up with 1968 for their workers continues to manifest itself today. CEOs seem to have little concern for the budget-squeezed daily lives of their employees.
These days, however, Walmart is feeling some heat with the rising demand for increasing the stagnant federal minimum wage finally coming from Washington, backed by over 70 percent of the people in polls. A Walmart rival, the successful Costco, has a CEO who already endorsed a federal minimum wage over $10.00 an hour. Costco starts its entry-level workers at $11.50 per hour plus benefits that Walmart workers do not receive. As blogger Alan DiCara said, “Walmart’s benefits department is the U.S. taxpayer.”
Yup, and read the rest of Nader’s post. I’d comment more on the sad situation with Walmart employees….but you all are well aware of the difficulties that come with working for minimum wage.
One thing I find funny is this latest image of the new pope…or should I say…the poor man’s pope.
Hey, look at that…no designer ruby slippers for Pope Francis. You can read Andrew Sullivan’s take on the new pope here.
Meanwhile, here in the states…North Dakota Passes Ban on Abortions After 6 Weeks of Pregnancy
The North Dakota legislature approved the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States on Friday, cutting off abortion access as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill, HB 1456, makes it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectable in the fetus—something that can happen as little as six weeks after conception. It passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 17, and will now head to the desk of Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
North Dakota lawmakers have been considering a variety of anti-abortion bills. While this wasn’t their most extreme option—another bill would have outlawed all abortions, period—it does mean that North Dakota now has the most restrictive abortion law in the country. This comes just over a week after Arkansas claimed the crown for most restrictive abortion laws, passing a twelve-week ban.
This new law will more than likely be challenged in court, but damn…six weeks? That is ridiculous.
Now for some real interesting stories…in link dump fashion.
Remains of Teutonic Knights Identified
Polish archaeologists have identified the remains of three grand masters of the Teutonic Knights, a medieval religious and military order that ruled much of the Baltic coast in the late Middle Ages.
Take a look at this post and you may find something new to read…New Books on the Middle Ages: March | Medieval News
There is a beautiful gallery here about Science as art: Photography competition brings the two disciplines together
Albert Einstein’s claim that “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” is illustrated by some of the contenders for a photography competition at Cambridge University on Tuesday.
And since it is St. Patrick’s Day, we will end with something green…Globe glows green: It’s St Patrick’s Day fever
Sláinte is the traditional greeting today, and the normal toast is made with a pint of a certain black stout. More extreme fans of St Patrick’s Day – as found among those of Irish descent in the US – will be dressing in as much green as they can lay their hands on, painting their faces and even dyeing their hair.
This year, in celebration of the Celtic saint’s day, more than 40 international landmarks are being lit in green. From the pyramids and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to the Sydney Opera House and South Africa’s Table Mountain: some of the most recognised man-made and geographical attractions will join a host of British landmarks to “go green”.
Be sure to check out those go green images at the link.
So what are you doing today? Share your thoughts with us…
Posted: March 14, 2013 Filed under: Republican politics, right wing hate grouups, Tea Party activists | Tags: CPAC, gun control, Ted Cruz
Yes, it’s another post demonstrating that Ted Cruz thinks he knows more than everyone else. He continues to spew lectures more appropriate for school children than adults. Cruz lectured Senator Dianne Feinstein on the Constitution. She fired back. You can see her response to his uppity asshole comments.
Feinstein became furious at one point with Cruz, who she saw as lecturing to her about the meaning of the Constitution and why the framers of that document used certain language.
“I’m not a sixth-grader,” she told the freshman Tea Party favorite. “I’m not a lawyer, but after 20 years, I’ve been up close and personal to the Constitution. I have great respect for it. … It’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I’ve been here for a long time. I’ve passed on a number of bills. I’ve studied the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well-educated, and I thank you for the lecture.”
Cruz responded by asking Feinstein if she also thought she had the power to interpret the First Amendment by deciding what books people could read.
Feinstein said she was happy that child pornography was illegal, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) stepped in, bringing up controversies in Cruz’s home state over the content of its textbooks.
Ted Cruz seems to be on a fast track to replacing Jim Demint as the most bombastic–and therefore least effective–idiot in the Senate. Given he’s got some great competition in Rand Paul, that says a lot. He’s already garnered comparisons to McCarthy and McCarthyism already. CPAC has declared Cruz its new American Hero and Cruz appears ready to abuse the legacy of Ronald Reagan like the rest of the delusional Republican masses. I wonder how many pictures of Ronald Reagan grace the focal points of Republican toilet stools throughout Red State America? Astrolube to the Stars any one?
Cruz (R-Texas) was the keynote speaker at the annual Weyrich Awards dinner in downtown Washington, a gathering of conservative groups and activists. He’ll deliver the closing speech at CPAC on Saturday evening.
Upon his arrival, Cruz joked about sequestration and Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) recent suggestion that Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) are “wacko birds.”
“It is wonderful to be among friends or, as some might say, fellow wacko birds,” he said, to laughs from the crowd. “If standing for the Constitution, standing for liberty, standing for values makes one a wacko bird … then I am pleased that birds of a feather flock together.”
Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who rode grassroots enthusiasm to defeat establishment Republican candidate David Dewhurst in a runoff last summer, has been a star of the conservative movement since he took office in January. Cruz spoke for 40 minutes and received multiple standing ovations from the crowd of a few hundred people.
Cruz has his own concept of why Republicans lose elections these days. They’re simply not good enough at lecturing people about their own interests, I guess.
Cruz said that in order to “win the argument” against Democrats, two key words should be “tattooed on every [Republican’s] hand”: “growth” and “opportunity.”
If Republicans can stress those two ideas instead of focusing on cuts and negative ideas, he said, they’ll be able to convince the American people that Republicans are actually the party that’s best for struggling Americans.
“One of the most painful things about being a conservative is how many elected Republicans do not understand that our policies work — and they work especially for those struggling to climb the economic ladder,” he said. “We’re not going to win the argument unless we understand that our ideas work.”
This concept is one that President Ronald Reagan understood, he said.
“President Reagan didn’t have to agonize over a speech about how to convey that because he lived it. He understood this is who we are as Americans and every one of us in this room understands that also.”
It’s a little early in his career to get a good handle on how far this particular “wacko bird” can go but I have a feeling that-unlike Demint–his type of crazy is powered by a few more braincells than your usual neoconfederate revivalist. Get ready to embrace that old timey plantation religion.
Posted: March 6, 2013 Filed under: right wing hate grouups | Tags: Southern Poverty Law Center
I had almost convinced myself that the level of right wing hatred and ignorance that I’d noticed recently on the web was due to the increasing number of people using social media outlets that used to be fairly exclusive little clubs when I started using them. Just to give you an idea, when I got on Facebook, you had to have an email address with an .edu ending or you were basically SOL. I was also on the internet when most of the folks you bumped into were in the high tech business or were some how connected to universities. I still consider the day the internet went to pot as the same day AOL let loose their population of subscribers. Now, I get some pretty cool graphics and content but that certainly comes with the added expense of added contact with idiots and tons of businesses looking for suckers with ads.
However, I’ve just recently found out that there are actually a larger number of radical right wing groups being formed and it’s just not my inability to avoid contact with them on line. Libertarian Cults and “Patriot” style militia groups have come along with the Teabutts. I hesitate to call them patriots because most of what I read from them sounds more like crap you read right around the Civil War days coming from the Confederates.
While the more mainstream anti-government Tea Party movement faded from view as the GOP co-opted it in the past few years, the action has moved to the fringes, where the number of radical right-wing Patriot groups reached an all time high in 2012, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. What’s more, it’s the fourth year in a row that the record has been broken.
Conspiracy-minded Patriot groups first entered the public consciousness in the 1990s with the rise of the militia movement, and then the Oklahoma City bombing. Now, the SPLC is warning government officials that they see eerie similarities between the current era and that leading up to the bombing.
“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” the group’s president, Richard Cohen, wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The number of Patriot groups peaked after the bombing in 1996 at 858, before falling off steeply and remaining low under George W. Bush. However, since the election of Barack Obama, the number of groups tracked by the SPLC has skyrocketed and continued to climb.
Last year, the SPLC found 1,360 Patriot groups in the country — up more than 500 over the ’96 peak — including 321 militia groups.
The report does indicate which factors seem to be contributing to this rise.
“Now, in the wake of the mass murder of 26 children and adults at a Connecticut school and the Obama-led gun control efforts that followed, it seems likely that that growth will pick up speed once again,” the center noted.
The report also cites the election of Obama, efforts to grant more than 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, and a troubled economy as contributing factors in the growth of the far-right groups.
“We are seeing a real and rising threat of domestic terrorism as the number of far-right anti-government groups continues to grow at an astounding pace,” said Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow and author of the report. “It is critically important that the country take this threat seriously. The potential for deadly violence is real, and clearly rising.”
The SPLC also has identified other interesting trends in the groups that they follow.
August Kreis, a longtime neo-Nazi who in January stepped down as leader of an Aryan Nations faction after being convicted of fraud related to his veteran’s benefits, told the Intelligence Report that it was all about income inequality.
“The worse the economy gets, the more the groups are going to grow,” he said. “White people are arming themselves — and black people, too. I believe eventually it’s going to come down to civil war. It’s going to be an economic war, the rich versus the poor. We’re being divided along economic lines.”
At the most macro level, the growth of right-wing radicalization — a phenomenon that is plainly evident in Europe as well as the United States — is related directly to political and, especially, economic globalization. As the nation-state has diminished in importance since the end of the Cold War, Western economies have opened up, not only to capital from abroad but also to labor. In concrete terms, that has meant major immigration flows, many of which have drastically altered the demographics of formerly fairly homogenous populations. In Europe and the U.S. both, white-dominated countries have become less so. At the same time, globalization has caused major economic dislocations in the West as certain industries and kinds of production move to less developed countries.
The sorry U.S. economy also may offer the best single explanation for the huge expansion in the so-called “sovereign citizens” movement, a subset of the larger Patriot movement. Although the size of the sovereign movement is hard to gauge — sovereigns tend to operate as individuals rather than in organized groups — law enforcement officials around the country have reported encounters. The SPLC, for its part, has estimated that some 300,000 Americans are involved.
I hate to be in the position of agreeing with a NAZI but I do think income inequality and the ability of many southern and republican politicians to scapegoat minorities problems they created has contributed to this problem. Rather than looking at the policies of the government and the role of the rich in usurping legislative agendas, right wing populists groups frequently turn their outrage on others. It would be nice they focus on the root cause of their issues like corporations having bought their representatives. We’ve see many left wing populist groups with similar economic justice issues recently but they don’t appear to be heading towards the same types of violent agendas that many leftist groups took in the 1960s. This does not appear to be true of right wing populists. They tend to like paramilitary organizations because of their love of guns.
Anyway, I’m going to be interested to see if the conversation on this study find its way to congress. Last time we had this conversation, congress scapegoated the nation’s Muslim population. The Sandy Hook massacre might make this less possible. However, I do think you should go look at the list of groups. They’re in nearly every state.
Posted: February 21, 2013 Filed under: religious extremists, Republican politics, Republican Tax Fetishists, right wing hate grouups, Surreality
Perhaps one of the most overdone truisms you hear bandied about by people is “Actions speak louder than Words”. This is perhaps the seminal lesson that Today’s Republican Party should learn. They’re held captive by religious, white supremacist, and libertarian cults that operate in orbit around a corporatist elite and their cronies. They don’t really have any more core values or principles. The only have the major goals of their cults and billionaire enablers.
You can see the hypocrisy, the lies, and the actual agendas in their actions. In some ways, the worst of the cult priests are more honest than your establishment Republican which is why Karl Rove and others would prefer they stay silent while Republican Central fine tunes their messaging so they can fool more of the people most of the time. They are no longer a party of serious governance. Their goals are to further enrich and empower the wealthy, move as close to anarchy as possible with only the military left standing, and make as many states as possible adopt the bottom trawling quality of life one finds in Mississippi along with firmly entrenching one specific view of Christian morality into all institutions.
The party of “small government” is basically the party of huge military and international interventions and massive intrusions into people’s lives so that women, minorities, and children are forced into the appropriate biblical role of child bearing and slavery. They are also supportive of police state tactics that include government spying, torture, and denial of due process. Some of those folks are acceptable since they serve in the role of “House Eunuchs” where they proudly stand by or in for the master as long as they don’t get too vocal about their sexuality, their ambitions beyond child bearing, or the fact that their upward mobility is limited due to race, ethnicity, sex, or religion.
Let me source this rant to the naive ramblings of Josh Barro who wishes that Republican policies were more rooted in empirics and my now favorite Hillaryism “an evidence-based reality”. Greg Sargent did a great job this morning at Maddow Blog talking about why Barro’s wishful thinking is unlikely to come true. It simply doesn’t fit into what Republican want.
Conservatives tend to prefer a different approach that decreases the role of government, not to achieve specific ends, but because decreasing the role of government is the specific end.
This, of course, affects nearly every debate in Washington. When it comes to job creation, for example, the task for Democrats is pretty straightforward: let’s do more of what’s been the most effective, and less of what’s been the least effective. Again, it’s about pragmatism and results based on evidence.
For Republicans, it doesn’t work quite that way — they have ideological ideals that outweigh evidence. GOP leaders could be shown incontrovertible proof that the most effective methods of creating jobs and improving the economy are aid to states, infrastructure investment, unemployment insurance, and food stamps, and they’d still refuse. Why? Because their ideology dictates the response.
The left starts with a policy goal (more people with access to medical care, more students with access to college, less pollution, more jobs, less financial market instability) and crafts proposals to try to complete the task. The right starts with an ideological goal (smaller government, more privatization, more deregulation) and works backwards.
For Barro, if Republicans “figured out” that their mistaken policy assumptions were, in fact, mistaken policy assumptions, they’d change direction. I wish that were true, but all available evidence points in the exact opposite direction.
Republicans that embarrass folks like Karl Rove and his donors are basically stating the goals of the party at the moment. They don’t care how they arrive there. There are no principles involved. There is no evidence involved. Each of the cults will violate all principles and all lessons of reality and science to arrive at these goals. The religious right want their perverted version of Christianity as the rule of the land. They want no birth control, no abortion, no visible or outward signs of homosexuality or anything other than how they define marriage, family, and morality. The Republican Party says it is the party that dislikes government interference and regulation. It wants ‘small government’. To see this Republican principle violated perpetually, one only need look at the agendas pushed through by the Religious Cult wing of the Republican party where we get state mandated sermons, procedures, and tons of regulation. Yes, we get Mississippi where the state regulates the one abortion clinic into illegality even though the right to an abortion is a constitutional right. These are the same folks that scream that any tiny bit of regulation of gun ownership is the end of the Bill of Rights and Constitutional rights as we know it. See, the principle is only valid when it works for them.
Then, there’s the entire cult of Austrian Economics and Ayn Rand which is what the Barro piece was focused on. Let me quote Paul Krugman on these folks:
Substance aside — not that substance isn’t important — Austrian economics very much has the psychology of a cult. Its devotees believe that they have access to a truth that generations of mainstream economists have somehow failed to discern; they go wild at any suggestion that maybe they’re the ones who have an intellectual blind spot. And as with all cults, the failure of prophecy — in this case, the prophecy of soaring inflation from deficits and monetary expansion — only strengthens the determination of the faithful to uphold the faith.
Barro even admits to the wrongness of the economic policies of this group. But again, Barro thinks that the principles are important rather than the outcomes. This group wants the outcomes only.
Political parties should differ on normative questions. They ought to strive for agreement on positive questions — questions such as, what policies cause gross domestic product and median incomes to rise, how unemployment insurance affects the unemployment rate, or how global temperatures are changing. Currently, Republicans make a lot more errors on these kinds of questions than Democrats.
Correcting errors on positive questions should cause conservatives to revisit some of their top policies, as Bloomberg View columnist Ramesh Ponnuru laid out this weekend in the New York Times. Conservatives say tight money and lower top tax rates would enrich middle-class families. But that’s wrong, and if they figured that out, they might stop supporting tight money and lower top tax rates.
The deal is Josh, that the Republican Party does not want to honestly state that their goal is to make the upper class much wealthier and the rest of us are other in the category of pesky servants or moochers who aren’t worth wasting anything on. Pesky servants should just work at their jobs and not be seen or heard and should just be thankful for the crumbs they receive. Moochers need to just self-deport or join the military to learn civility and servility. We got a glance of the true set-up here during the Romney 47% illumination because they though we weren’t listening in. The silly donors thought the room held only servants and house enuchs!!
You see, the Republican establishment really doesn’t care about the economy as long as the donor base and the corporate base do fine which is exactly what’s been going on for the last ten years or so. When they don’t do fine, they just dip into the public Treasury and replenish their gambling stakes. They don’t want to pay for anything that doesn’t directly benefit them. They want to be worshiped as gods for holding their vaulted positions which they honestly believe has come to them because their special. You can see this again in the places that Josh holds up as being great places because they’ve got Republican Governors. Again, let’s think about this. We’re talking the plantation mentality that thrives still in Mississippi and Louisiana. Everything’s just fine as long as the economy works for the Koch brothers, the Oil and Gas Companies, Pete Peterson, and the House Eunuchs. Let’s just use the Mississippi and Louisiana governor and state set up to illustrate their idea of Mississippi as the role model for the country.
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