Is the American Dream becoming a Nightmare?

March 27, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in civil rights, God machine, Historical, Labor, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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A view of Ewen Breaker of the Pennsylvania Coal Co. The dust was so dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrates the utmost recesses of the boy's lungs. A kind of slave driver sometimes stands over the boys, prodding or kicking them into obedience. Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania. 1911 January. Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer. (Library of Congress) (Right click on image to view larger)

Neither has slept well for a Fortnight, amid the house-rocking Ponderosities of commercial Drayage, the Barrels and Sledges rumbling at all Hours over the paving-Stones, the Town on a-hammering and brick-laying itself together about them, the street-sellers’ cries, the unforeseen coalescences of Sailors and Citizens anywhere in the neighboring night to sing Liberty and wreack Mischief, hoofbeats in large numbers passing beneath the Window, the cries of Beasts from the city Shambles, — Philadelphia in the Dark, in an all-night Din Residents may have got accustom’d to, but which seems to the Astronomers, not yet detach’d from the liquid, dutiful lurches of the Packet thro’ th’ October seas, the very Mill of Hell.

“Worse than London by far,” Mason brushing away Bugs, rolling over and over, four sides at five minutes per side, a Goose upon Insomnia’s Spit, uncontrollably humming to himself an idiotic Galop from The Rebel Weaver, which he attended in London just before Departure, instead of Mr. Arne’s Love in a Cottage, which would have been wiser. Smells of wood-smoke, horses, and human sewage blow in the windows, along with the noise. Somewhere down the Street a midnight Church congregation sings with a fervency unknown in Sapperton, or in Bisley, for that matter. He keeps waking with his heart racing, fear in his Bowels, something loud having just ocurr’d … waiting for it to repeat. And as he relaxes, never knowing the precise moment it begins, the infernal deedle ee, deedle ee, deedle-eedle-eedle-dee again.

When I read this passage in Thomas Pynchon’s novel Mason & Dixon (page 292), I shuddered, because I imagine this could well be the kind of life most people in this country will be living again in not too many decades if the “conservative,” anti-education, anti-progress, pro-corporation have their way.

They are willing to not just violate the law but set themselves above it in order to destroy once and for one of the most important founding principles of this country — “all men are created equal” — by denying the rights of working people to a living wage and a safe workplace.

“Pennsylvania Politics? Its name is Simplicity. Religious bodies here cannot be distinguish’d from Political Factions. These are Quaker, Anglican, Presbyterian, German Pietist. Each prevails in its own area of the Province. Till about five years ago, the Presbyterians fought among themselves so fiercely, that despite their great Numbers, they remain’d without much Political Effect, — lately, since the Old and New Lights reach’d their Accommodation, all the other Parties have hasten’d to strike bargains with them as they may, — not least of these the Penns, who tho’ Quaker by ancestry are Anglican in Praxis, — some eve say, Tools of Rome. Mr. Shippen, upon whom you must wait for each penny you’ll spend, is a Presbyterian, the City Variety, quite at ease as a member of the Governor’s Council. As for the Anglicans of Philadelphia, the periodick arrival in Town of traveling ministries such as the Reverend MacClenaghan’s have now split those Folk between traditional Pennites, and Reborns a-dazzle with the New Light, who are more than ready to throw in with the Presbyterians, against the Quakers, — tho’ so far Quakers have been able to act in the Assembly as a body, and prevail, — “

This is what it was like in the 1760s, before the United States Constitution established a barrier — the Founding Fathers thought — between Church and State. Are we going back to this?

Is it already too late to save the dream that America once was?


Truth Hurts

November 11, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Posted in civil rights, Economy, elections, environment, God machine, immigration, journalism, Judiciary, Labor, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Oklahoma’s Race to the Bottom on Vimeo, posted with vodpod

Remembering Ronald Reagan (February 6, 1911– June 5, 2004)

June 4, 2010 at 1:45 am | Posted in Bush, God machine, Historical, palin, politics straight up, Reality Bites | 2 Comments
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St. Ronnie

Campaign poster, 1984 (Library of Congress)

What we saw during the Bush/Cheney administration was not a fluke or an anomaly, but the murderous crest of an authoritarian/plutocrat movement that was born in sin and began its aggressive descent into ignorance, bigotry and willful blindness not five months or five years ago…but was well underway 40 years ago, was radically amplified by a man named Ronald Reagan, and had been gaining barbaric force and momentum ever since.

It was, after all, none other than Ronald Reagan — the very Fountainhead of all Conservative Good Things — who first blew up the deficit. Wheee!

It was Ronald Reagan who rode to power over the bodies of civil rights workers, in the back of the imaginary Cadillac of a fictional welfare queen, to the thunderous applause of Klansmen, Birchers and theocrats.

It was Reagan who kicked the door open and invited the crazies onto the dance floor. Reagan, who opened the floodgates to the GOP lining its electoral pockets by demonizing gays. And uppity women. And minorities. And imaginary hippies.

It was Reagan who crushed residential mental health programs, programs to provide legal help to poor people, food programs, unions, you name it.

It was Reagan who unleashed Total Class Warfare aimed squarely at those citizens who were poorest, weakest and least-able-to-defend themselves.

It was Reagan who began the Republican War on the Middle Class that is now approaching its Gettysburg.

It was Conservative icon Saint Ronald Reagan who supercharged the efforts to methodically transformation of the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Jefferson Davis begun under Conservative Richard Nixon. Who oversaw the cynical escalation of the cultural war from Conventional to Nuclear.

It was Reagan who conducted a flatly illegal war and told his critics to fuck off when his crimes were discovered. It was Reagan who dallied with terrorists and laundered their money to pay for that illegal war. And it was Reagan’s vice president who 20 fucking years ago turned the despicable Lee Atwater loose to run one of the most nakedly racist campaigns in modern presidential history, and who then went on to make sure that all of Reagan’s criminal co-conspirators got pardons.

All of which and so very much more has been whisked down the memory hole by Mr. Sullivan, because his particular shell game only works as long as everyone agrees to pretend that the Palinites, the Bushies, the Cheneyites and all the other slavering, wingnut zombie hordes from which Mr. Sullivan now cringes in horror are some random freaks of recent vintage …

It’s also a function of Fox News creating a national ideology through a national propaganda arm of the RNC. Well, they will reap what they sow. At least I hope so if real conservatism is going to one day find a comeback in American political discourse.

Sister Sarah

… and not a generation of stunted, smug, pig-ignorant Conservatives who were deliberately spawned and suckled by the Republican Party in the radioactive wasteland created by Mr. Sullivan’s beloved Reagan Revolution.

Because any Acknowledgment of Paternity which establishes Ronald Reagan’s as the political father of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin would completely fuck up Mr. Sullivan’s lucrative scam.

So, shhhhhh!

Driftglass, 2/8/10

Who knew?

April 28, 2010 at 1:36 am | Posted in God machine | Leave a comment
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View of the İstanbul wall from the Tekfur Sarayı (palace). Between 1880 and 1893. Lieutenant Colonel of the General Staff, Ali Rıza Bey, photographer. (Library of Congress)

(CDN) ISTANBUL, April 23 (CDN) — After a final court hearing in Israel last week, a church of Messianic Jews awaits a judge’s decision that could force an ultra-orthodox Jewish organization to publicly apologize to them for starting a riot and ransacking a baptismal service.

He says he didn’t say it.

February 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Posted in God machine, health, law, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Mentally Retarded children in E.S.F.S. for Crippled Children. (Library of Congress)

At a Thursday, February 18, 2010 press conference to discuss opposition to state funding for Planned Parenthood, Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassa is reported to have said:

( “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.”

“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

I called Marshall’s office to find out the basis of his statement but was told that he is now claiming that isn’t what he said.* Someone from his press office is supposed to call me back. I will update if they do.

* The woman who answers the phone is a state employee, not an employee of Marshall. She seemed embarrassed to be associated with him, so be kind if you call.

UPDATE: It’s astonishing how clueless Republicans can be about modern technology. Turns out Marshall’s remarks were video-recorded. Oops!

The Cost of Doing Business

October 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Posted in God machine, law | Leave a comment
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St. Lukes Anglican Church

St. Luke's Anglican Church

(LA Times) The people of St. Luke’s Anglican Church have called their La Crescenta parish home for 85 years. Generations of families have grown up within its historic stone walls.

On Sunday, the Rev. Rob Holman will deliver his final sermon there, an epitaph to a bruising legal fight the congregation waged and lost to practice its conservative brand of Christian theology and hold on to the church.

[Well, they may have lost the fight to “hold on to the church,” but there never was a fight as to whether they would be able to continue to practice their “conservative brand of Christian theology” — just saying.]

On Monday, St. Luke’s leaders will hand over its keys to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

The diocese sued to retain St. Luke’s property after the congregation voted overwhelmingly in 2006 to leave it and the national Episcopal Church over theological differences, including the consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire.

[The reporter has described their position in the kindest possible light.]

After rounds of costly litigation, the courts ruled in the diocese’s favor, concluding that St. Luke’s property was held in trust for the diocese and the national church.

People advocating their state’s secession should keep this outcome in mind.

H/T Skippy the bush kangaroo

What is wrong with these people?

September 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Posted in God machine, law, politics straight up, terrorism | Leave a comment
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Death as skeleton running and carrying newspapers announcing defeat of Federal Army.  Illus. in Harpers Weekly, 1862.  (Library of Congress)

Death as skeleton running and carrying newspapers announcing defeat of Federal Army. Illus. in Harper's Weekly, 1862. (Library of Congress)

The Newsmax op-ed explaining the advantages of “a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution” has now been taken down from the website, but this is just one of many insane and dangerous statements made by members of the rightwing.

Secession is advocated directly and indirectly by numerous rightwing politicians.

John Derbyshire and Ann Coulter believe that women should not have the right to vote. “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president.

Republican Representative Tom McClintock agrees with Phyllis Schlafly that “the feminist movement is the most dangerous, destructive force in our society today.

The Senate has approved an amendment proposed by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch to restore $50 million in funding to continue “abstinence-only sex education.” This taxpayer-funded program has already caused untold numbers of teenage pregnancies and increased rates of sexually-transmitted diseases, both of which further exacerbate the problems of our dysfunctional and inadequate health care system.

How many Americans need to be murdered before this is over?

Elected Republicans actively participate in de-legitimatizing the federal government and rule of law, but the real problem is ACORN?

OMG! He didn’t!

September 26, 2009 at 10:52 am | Posted in God machine, Historical, Judiciary, politics straight up | 1 Comment
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Benjamin Franklin reading draft of Declaration of Independence, John Adams seated, and Thomas Jefferson standing and holding feather pen and paper, around table.  Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, artist.  Published c.1921 (Library of Congress)

Benjamin Franklin reading draft of Declaration of Independence, John Adams seated, and Thomas Jefferson standing and holding feather pen and paper, around table. Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, artist. Published c.1921 (Library of Congress)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia chatted with the Brooklyn-based Orthodox Jewish newspaper Hamodia this week, and reiterated his opposition to the principle of government neutrality on religion. The conservative jurist said he believes the government should prefer religion to non-religion, state neutrality on religious matters, he said, “is not an accurate representation of what Americans believe.” Scalia added, “I am not sure how Orthodox Jews feel about the Establishment Clause, but I assume they do not like driving God out of public life.”

Apparently Supreme Court Justice Scalia is not altogether in agreement with the First Amendment which reads in part:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The war on a secular society by the Right continues.

You can read the full interview in Hamodia here.

Free Speech: What it means, What it doesn’t

August 31, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Posted in civil rights, God machine | Leave a comment
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Children of the Washington Public schools were today given an opportunity to see the original constitution of the United States in the State Dept.  February 13 1920.   (Library of Congress)

Children of the Washington Public schools were today given an opportunity to see the original constitution of the United States in the State Dept. February 13 1920. (Library of Congress)

There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what is meant by the terms “free speech” and “First Amendment.”

The latest example of shocking ignorance about core rights and benefits laid out in the United States Constitution which should be easily recited and understood by any citizen capable of tying his or her shoes without accidentally tying the two shoes together comes from Florida where a young woman — and her ignorant father — complains of her suspension from school after she verbally assaulted a fellow student. The misguided young woman claims that she has a Constitutionally protected right to verbally assault a fellow student. In addition to her Constitutional claim, she insists she had good reason for the assault — the fellow student did not conform to her prescribed personal/cultural/social/ethnic/religious code of conduct and dress.

The conduct which so offended Miss Lawrence was (1) not standing for the pledge of allegiance and (2) the wearing of clothing commonly associated with women practicing Islam. She claims that the clothing issue was subsidiary to the inadequate demonstration of patriotism, but you will excuse me if I am disinclined to believe what she says. I have yet to read of any demands that Jewish men be banned from wearing a yarmulke or Catholics be forced to wash their face before leaving the church on Ash Wednesday. She is entitled to her opinions but that doesn’t mean anyone has to care or listen or conform.

I do not stand for or recite “the pledge.” I am offended by demands to prove my loyalty by reciting a ridiculous oath made offensive by inclusion of language which demands recognition of an entity known as “God,” an obvious violation of the “religion” clause of the First Amendment.

The gross (but, unfortunately, typical) misunderstanding of the First Amendment by the hyper-patriotic young woman and her father.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As you can see, the First Amendment is not just about “free speech.” It bars the government from interfering with citizens who gather and share information (“the press”). It bars the government from making laws enforcing particular religious belief or requiring anyone to have a particular — or any — religious belief. It protects our right to sit out on our stoop in the evening (“assembly”) and chat with our neighbors (“speech”). It protects our right to make angry phone calls to elected officials (“petition’).

The First Amendment is not blanket permission for any wanker to get up in someone else’s grill and be an ass. The First Amendment does not guarantee you an audience.

It’s beyond sad that those making the most noise about adherence to Constitutional principles seem to be the ones who are most ignorant about the rights and obligations set forth in our country’s most important founding documents.

Why is the Federal Government Building Multi-Million Dollar Churches on US Military Bases?

August 8, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Posted in God machine | 2 Comments
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Good question. But it’s happening. To the tune of $26 million for two mega-churches.

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge, Maryland. Chapel, Lady chapel.  1943 Apr. 28.  (Library of Congress)

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge, Maryland. Chapel, Lady chapel. 1943 Apr. 28. (Library of Congress)

Among the most expensive and extravagant of these mega-church military chapel projects are two of those requested by members of the Family. One, requested by John Carter for Fort Hood, already received $17,500,000 in last year’s Defense Authorization Act, and this year’s House bill adds an $8,500,000 addition to the project, for a total of $26,000,000. The other is a $14,400,000 mega-church for Fort Campbell, already approved in both the House and Senate versions of this year’s bill. Requesting this earmark for Fort Campbell were the representatives of the two congressional districts in which Fort Campbell lies, which is who would normally be requesting an earmark for the base. But, also requesting this earmark was Family member Zach Wamp (R-TN), whose district is nowhere near Fort Campbell. Why is Wamp involved in this project? Well, a private group, the Citizens for Fort Campbell (CFFC), lobbied for it and Wamp pledged to help them get the funding for it. Wamp is on the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee for Military Construction, as is John Carter. In fact, three of the four republicans on this subcommittee are members of the Family. The third is Ander Crenshaw (R-FL).

Surprise! A cabal of christianists has infiltrated the US military:

The Family’s C Street House is owned by Youth With A Mission (YWAM), whose founder, Loren Cunningham, has often told the story of how Campus Crusade’s founder, Bill Bright, was instrumental in the founding of YWAM and it’s strategy to take over the world — the “7 Mountains” strategy, in which the “mountain of business” must be controlled in order to take over all other “mountains of culture” and achieve dominion around the globe. Campus Crusade also runs Military Ministry, which is already firmly entrenched at all of our military’s largest basic training installations, the service academies, and ROTC campuses, and whose strategy for “transforming the nation” includes transforming the military, which “excercise[s] … the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens,” into a force of “government-paid missionaries for Christ.”

Read the sordid tale here.

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