E.W. Jackson

The Week In Doom October 27, 2013

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 27, 2013
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Virginia Freak Show, Part 2

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“Black pastors are also going to have to answer whether they serve Jesus or the Democrat Party… The black community will never prosper by betraying God and following leadership that curries the favor of the Democrat Party.” 

“I believe that the Democrat Party has become an anti-God party, I think it’s an anti-life party, I think it’s an anti-family party. And these are all things I think Christians hold to very dearly.”

― E.W. Jackson, candidate for Lieutenant Governor

 

Last week, we examined the candidacy of tea party zealot and noted vaginaphobe Ken Cuccinelli and  his campaign to become Virginia’s next governor. This week’s column we devote to his running mate, Bishop E. W. Jackson, a theocrat whose views are so extreme, so out of touch with the rote conservatism that passes for mainstream thought in the Commonwealth, that even his running mates are sprinting away from him as fast as they can.

Jackson’s opponent is Ralph Northam, and Norfolk physician and member of the Virginia Senate who won his party’s nomination for LG. Northam is a graduate of VMI and a military veteran, and has shown himself to be a pragmatic man as well as a fiscal conservative. (Disclaimer: I have met Ralph Northam and spoken with him, as part of a group representing local Occupy and Virginia Organizing, to lobby for his support against the passage of legislation intended to make uranium mining legal in Virginia’s moist and unpredictable climate. The legislation, which originated in the office of Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound, never made it to the floor for lack of support.  The health issues of the proposal were immediately obvious to Northam, and his opposition to the proposed legislation was a done deal, probably well before we showed up.)

Thus it will be clear that my sympathies do not lie with the Republican candidate, and as a certified pisser and moaner on these pages, I make no pretense of objectivity. So now, fully disclaimed,  bum wiped, and bib adjusted, let’s take some time to get to know E. W.

Here’s his bio:

Earl Walker Jackson Sr. is the 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia. He was born January 13, 1952 in Chester, Pa. He eventually joined the U.S. Marines where he served for three years. Following the Marines, he entered the University of Massachusetts and graduated in 1975. In 1978, he graduated from Harvard Law School and continued to practice law in the Boston area for 15 years.  In 1996, Jackson joined with the Christian Coalition to head “The Samaritan Project,” an outreach program that distributed $500,000 to churches that were victim of arson. In 1998, he was consecrated a bishop and went on to establish Exodus Faith Ministries. Currently, Jackson is involved in Hampton Roads politics, serving as a member of the Chesapeake Police Advisory Board, a Trustee of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, and a Trustee for Lead Hampton Roads. In 2012, Jackson ran unsuccessfully in the Virginia’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

Let’s allow the candidate to stake out his positions in his own words. Here are some views  that will held you spin up to speed:

1. On gay people: “Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.”

2. On gay people (again): “Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.”

3. Political predictions: Jackson said a few weeks before the 2012 election that black voters would “overwhelmingly” vote against Barack Obama because he had endorsed marriage equality. Over 90 percent of African Americans voted for the president.

4. On Democrats: “I liken them to slave masters who brag about how good their slaves are and how well-behaved they are but let them try to be free, let them try to escape and then you find out that they don’t really think very much of them.”

5. On Planned Parenthood and the KKK: “Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was. And the Democrat Party and the black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide.”

6. On liberals and the KKK: “Liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did, now that’s a fact.”

7. On the Democratic Party’s agenda: “An agenda worthy of the Antichrist.”

8. On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “The new Marine motto: ‘The Few, the Proud, the Sexually Twisted.’ Good luck selling that to strong young males who would otherwise love to defend their country. What virile young man wants to serve in a military like that?

9. On boycotting CPAC for being too gay: “The self-proclaimed gay Republicans support hate crime laws (which will be used to bludgeon the church) and oppose the Federal Defense of Marriage Amendment, without which judges will ultimately legislate homosexual ‘marriage’—making the natural family an endangered species… What would Ronald Reagan think of CPAC today?”

10. On Obama’s Muslim sensibilities: “Obama clearly has Muslim sensibilities. He sees the world and Israel from a Muslim perspective. His construct of ‘The Muslim World’ is unique in modern diplomacy. It is said that only The Muslim Brotherhood and other radical elements of the religion use that concept. It is a call to unify Muslims around the world.”

This guy is not your garden-variety right-wing activist; this guy is special.

In his second interview with Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality and pastor John Kirkwood, Bishop E.W. Jackson launched into another blistering tirade against gays and lesbians. The anti-gay activist said that gays and lesbians have “perverted” minds and are “very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally,” and bigoted against African Americans and Christians. […]

Jackson added that homosexuality “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies” and will lead to God’s judgment.

Thus E.W. Jackson has staked out  what might fairly be called  “fringe positions”  consisting of  utterances and opinions generally heard behind the tobacco barn rather than uttered in public. While it may be unusual to find fringe figures pushing arguments like these in public, it’s even more unusual for such fringe figures to be nominated by a major political party to run for statewide office after compiling such a dossier.  (This is what comes from Virginia Republicans having changed their nominating process to a caucus instead of a convention, so that the two dozen people who show up can choose whoever they want, thus reflecting the views of their joyless, airless worlds.  Never forget that Virginia is Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson country, with their respective grifts and scams generating huge revenues from widows and retirees.)

Believe it or not or not, it gets worse.  Here in the home of Jefferson, author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, there is this: GOP Candidate: Non-Christians Are ‘Engaged In Some Sort Of False Religion’

“Any time you say, ‘There is no other means of salvation but through Jesus Christ, and if you don’t know him and you don’t follow him and you don’t go through him, you are engaged in some sort of false religion,’ that’s controversial. But it’s the truth,” Jackson said at the Restoration Fellowship Church in Strasburg, Va., according to a recording obtained by the Washington Post. “

And then there’s the matter of his record. People always seem to be surprised that, in this age of the intertubez, people would actually check the utterances that you allege are fact when running for public office.  Apparently Jackson claimed he had been the Boston Red Sox chaplain. Uhh ––Not so much.  Also, the allegation that he grew up poor as a foster child, had to carry a chamber pot at night, and when hungry, was happy to feast on the occasional mayonnaise sandwich.  His own foster sister called bullshit:

[V]ivid details of his escape from deprivation in a Chester, Pa., foster home — the emotional core of his stump speech — have been challenged by two women who were there. […]

There was also no indoor bathroom, Jackson said, and as the youngest of the foster children, “I brought the pot down.” He was last in line for the once-a-week bath in a galvanized tub.

“I’m like, ‘What house was he in?’ ” said Nadine Molet, the adopted daughter of foster parents Willie and Rebecca Molet.

Nadine Molet shared the same roof with Jackson and said the bathroom was on the first floor, beyond the well-stocked kitchen. “I never remember missing a meal. We always had fatback, cornbread, pancakes. We always took a lot of food to church.”

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And you may be surprised to learn that government programs have done more harm to blacks in slavery ever did. Slavery denial seems to be richly in vogue  in right wing circles these days,  and clearly blacks, even candidates for office get to play along as well!

“In 1960, most black children were raised in two-parent, monogamous families. By now, by this time, we have only 20 percent of black children being raised in a two-parent, monogamous families with the married man and woman raising those children,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t slavery that did that, it was government that did that. It tried to solve problems that only God can solve and that only we as human beings can solve.”

Over the course of the campaign, the public has learned that Jackson doesn’t believe in evolution, claimed Planned Parenthood “killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions” and thinks President Barack Obama has a “Muslim perspective.”

A lot of these remarkable ideas get tested at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit”  each year. This is where people who spend eight hours a day watching Fox News, and have Hannity and Rush locked in on their car radios go to congratulate one another on the excellence of their intellectual tailoring, the splendor of their prejudices, and the superb aroma of one another’s farts.

I would love to believe that their time is past.  Consider that this year’s luminaries included Michele Bachmann,  who spoke under the cloud of that little ethics problem stemming from her presidential bid, Bishop Jackson, whose resume we’re discussing here, and star of the moment Sen. Ted Cruz, he of the negative approval ratings. Not to mention Allen West, Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, Joseph Farah, and a host of lesser lights whose business plans depend upon the continuous extraction of FRN’s from the gullible. Whatever you may have read about this summit, it was a recitation of the same failed agenda and stale ideas that get recycled every year, but which do really well for fund-raising purposes. Hence their utility. Reporter Paul Rauschenbush put it thus:

But it’s not just the people, it is really the ideas and priorities of the Values Voter Summit that seem tired and tone deaf to the concerns of most Americans. For these faith voters, guns are still really good and gays are still really bad. And yes, again, religious freedom (read Christian privilege) is under attack — which brings us back to the gays and their desire to marry and women’s right to control their own bodies.

Every agenda item has a rehashed ’80s feel about it; and, especially around gay marriage, a sense of inevitable failure and a willful blindness to the recent movement that has happened among faith leaders on gay inclusion. . .

At the time of their expensive and highly produced meeting, there are over 46 million Americans who are living at or below the poverty line, yet the Republican controlled house voted to cut 40 billion dollars from food stamps; there are thousands of law abiding Dreamers who are desperately waiting for immigration reform, yet the Republicans have stalled efforts to welcome them into our country; and during these months when we have gun tragedy over gun tragedy with young people slaughtered with assault rifles, the Republican party stops any effort at sensible gun laws.

The Values Voter Summit doesn’t care about this at all! It is easier to stick with how football is under attack than to deal with the real suffering of Americans who need to hear some hope that we are a moral and just country because right now it is hard to remember that.

It is in this hothouse, where news and opinion is manufactured to order, and where polling firms tell their clients exactly what they want to hear (reality be damned)  that the platform planks of the future of American conservatism are being manufactured. To her credit, Rachel Maddow has done an exceptional job of shining light into these dark and fetid corners,  as the GOP’s policy positions become an obsession with sodomy, voodoo, and Satanism.

This is really is what the Republican Party is like right now. Even after the 2012 elections, and the supposed nationwide tip-to-tail diagnosis that the party needed to re-brand, maybe take it a little easy on the fire and brimstone hot sauce, at least for the next few elections—even after all of that, this is who they are. They are more like this now than they were last year, and than they were the year before that. This is not the Beltway-narrative media about what’s going on in American politics right now, but it is exactly what is going on, if you watch how they behave and who they are and what they say in public.”

This is why what they say matters. Most likely we only have a couple of more weeks to enjoy the candidacy of E. W. Jackson. But it is essential to remember that with every I-can’t-believe-he-said-that statement, with every outrage against decency and good sense, with every assertion that promises intellectual or emotional violence to those who disagree, there is a fifth column within this country who nod in approbation while opening their wallets.  Candidates like Jackson have successfully pushed the bounds of acceptable discourse, not to mention those of decency. And what we should take from Jackson’s candidacy is that he speaks for a sizable minority of culture warriors within this country who promise to do anything, and to use any means necessary, to get their way, witness the tactics of the tea party (read Fascist Front) insurgency in Congress regarding the shutdown.

It remains to be seen whether demography is destiny and if the tide will turn on these people. For now, Jackson represents the true believers. Do not sleep on them.

As a postscript, Alex Seitz-Wald reported in Salon, “Glenn Beck has called E.W. Jackson, ‘one of the biggest truth‑tellers I’ve ever seen, one of the bravest guys I’ve ever seen.’”  Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

 

This Week In Doom October 20, 2013

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 20, 2013
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Virginia Freak Show

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“If you go back to Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War, he looked at the Civil War as a sort of a national penance for slavery; the evil of slavery and letting it go on. And the founders knew how bad it was. We have other things in this country today and abortion is one of them”    

― Ken Cuccinelli

 

It is been a while since this weekly exercise in pedantry has considered Virginia politics.  Virginia is one of two states (New Jersey the other) who elect governors in odd years outside of the four-year presidential election cycle. We have alluded in the past to the antics of some campaigners; time now to take the gloves off and let folks see the shiny and glistening underbelly of Virginia politics,shimmering like that of a reptile.

Investigation for this summary  uncovered such a rich treasure trove that it is necessary to break it into two parts. This week we’ll consider the governor’s race. Next week we’ll take on the LG race  featuring E. W. Jackson, an ideologue’s ideologue whose excesses have attracted national attention. Suffice it to say that when even the extremists find you extreme and the Tea Party candidates run away from you, you have staked out exotic new ground. And that’s Virginia.

First let’s consider the Democratic candidate for governor, Terry McAuliffe. Wikipedia says thus:

 

Terence Richard “Terry” McAuliffe  (born February 9, 1957) is an American businessman, fundraiser, politician, and former chairman of the Democratic Party. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005, was co-chairman of President Bill Clinton‘s 1996 re-election campaign, and was chairman of Hillary Clinton‘s 2008 presidential campaign. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2009 Virginia gubernatorial election and is the Democratic nominee in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election.

 

McAuliffe is a political animal and a consummate fundraiser.  In a 1999 interview with the New York Times he said, “I’ve met all my business contacts through politics. It’s all interrelated.” He also acknowledged that much of the success of his business dealings stemmed through his relationship with the Clintons. No surprise there. One does not rise to become the head of the national Democratic Party without the ability to raise significant amounts of money. And he has; he got the DNC out of debt, and has raised money to support past Democratic campaigns in Virginia. Many attribute McAuliffe’s support for Tim Kaine’s successful 2005 Virginia gubernatorial run as demonstrating the Democrats’ viability in southern states after the 2004 presidential election.

Like many successful politicians, McAuliffe has had some remarkable runs of “business luck.”  In the 80s, McAuliffe lost $800,000 invested in his father-in-law’s bank, American Pioneer Savings. It was seized by the Resolution Trust Corporation, but McAuliffe brokered a deal with two pension funds to buy American Pioneer at fire sale prices. The funds put in $37 million, and he put $100 into the deal, but nevertheless received a 50% equity share. He also made a great deal of money in fiber-optic company Global Crossing, but there is no (indictable) crime in that. (Virginia Sen. Mark Warner invested in the cellular phone industry in the late 70s when it was beginning, and made his own boodle.)

(Full disclosure: Contrary is working as a local campaign aide and volunteer for McAuliffe’s campaign.)   Notwithstanding, we find this candidate dyspeptic and his record thin. His reputation as a bagman for the Clintons, however, remains unsurpassed, and he has demonstrated an astonishing track record in raising money for Democratic causes. McAuliffe’s may not be the most luminous political resume in the world;  yet the candidate looks like the second coming of  George Washington compared to his opponent.

Republican gubernatorial candidate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, center, gestures during a press conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 15.

Ken Cuccinelli  is that opponent. Suffice it to say that his ascendancy to the governorship would be analogous to Ted Cruz becoming President of the United States. Mull that over for a minute. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

 

Kenneth Thomas “Ken” Cuccinelli II  (born July 30, 1968) is the current Attorney General of Virginia and the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election. He was elected as Virginia’s 46th Attorney General in the November 2009 general election. From 2002 until January 16, 2010 he was a Republican member of the Senate of Virginia, representing the 37th district in Fairfax County. He holds degrees in engineering, law and commercial policy, and co-founded a small law firm.

 

Cuccinelli promises to do for Virginia with Scott Walker has done for Wisconsin, Rick Snyder for Michigan  and Paul LePage for Maine:  Make the state a laughingstock and object of derision for the rest of the country. Let’s take a brief tour of the candidate’s record as attorney general of Virginia.

In 2010, Cuccinelli  served papers to investigate documents related to Michael Mann, a climate researcher working at the University of Virginia. (Mann has since had the good sense to flee Virginia and now works at Penn State.) He based his complaint on a fraud charge, although he never provided any evidence of wrongdoing. Mann was found  correct on all coounts according to the National Academy of Sciences, and the consensus was clear that the document sift was a McCarthy-esque witchhunt.

But victory for the university came at a price. The fight cost UVa $570,000, which it paid out of private funds. Not to mention the expense to the taxpayers of Virginia. 

But the AG was just getting started. He filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. To the dismay of tenthers everywhere, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Virginia could not nullify a federal law. Ka-ching. He joined other states in filing an amicus brief opposing the federal government’s lawsuit challenging repressive Arizona immigration laws. Ka-ching.  He sought to clarify gay-rights nondiscrimination by prohibiting Virginia public colleges and universities from including “sexual orientation” as a protected class. Ka-ching.

And then there was the front that he opened against abortion clinics, using the Virginia Board of Health as a lever. As attorney general, Cuccinelli strongly urged the Board to approve a new set of rules for abortion clinics that will force them to undergo expensive and medically unnecessary renovations in order to hold onto their licenses. Ka-ching. The clinics will have to expand the size of their janitor’s closets, for instance, and build spacious staff lounges with showers — an endeavor that some of them will not be able to afford.  As a state senator, he proposed a fetal personhood  amendment, yet wonders why he is polling so badly among women.

He also told the state Board of Health that if they disagreed with his rulings regarding abortion clinics, that the AG’s office would not be responsible for representing them should litigation occur, and they would be on their own nickel. (This after his boss, Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound, signed a  bill requiring women to have an mandatory ultrasound prior to having a legal abortion.) This bill, and an even more punitive one before it, caused women activists all over the state to descend upon Richmond in protest. (Meanwhile, safely out of public view, the Governor’s Uranium Task Force was quietly working to change existing law and to “draft regulations”  so that they might be able to introduce uranium mining in Virginia. A skillful head fake, but ultimately unsuccessful thanks to the efforts of thousands of activists, bloggers, and volunteers who showed up at hearings, wrote letters, and made sufficient noise to prevent this existential nightmare of a bill from actually reaching the floor of the legislature.)

Recently, Cuccinelli has gone on record as being surprised God hasn’t punished America for abortions.

“Really, given that God does judge nations, it’s amazing that abortion has run as far and foully as it has, without what I would consider to be a greater imposition of judgment on this country,” Cuccinelli said. “Who knows what the future holds?” 

You can’t make this stuff up. “The Cooch” seems to be the mid-Atlantic distributor for the sorts of political opinion we typically see from members of the Fascist Front (formerly known as the Tea Party): he sponsored a number of bills discouraging abortion (ka-ching), to revoke citizenship rights for children born in the US to illegal immigrants  (ka-ching), to  deny unemployment benefits to workers unable to speak English (ka-ching), and of course that holy of holies, lower taxes.  Oh, and did we say guns?  Guns, guns, and more guns. This is Virginia, after all: now we Virginians have the ability to carry a concealed handgun into a restaurant and club, the restriction against having been overturned by the Cooch’s efforts. (After all, who doesn’t feel  safer when guns and alcohol mix?  We’re sure that half million dollars from the NRA had nothing to do with it– ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching!)

 

And then there was the quest to restore Virginia’s anti-sodomy law (ka-ching). Cuccinelli alleged that the law was necessary to chase child predators. Fortunately the Supreme Court denied Cuccinelli’s appeal, and has at least temporarily kept the AG’s nose from poking under the blankets in Virginia bedrooms.

 

And then there’s the garden-variety corruption of the Star Scientific scandal.  Seems that Star Scientific’s chief executive, Jonnie R Williams, is a very generous guy, and he showered both the Cooch and his boss, Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound, with many many gifts.  (The stench from the scandal has, at least temporarily, stalled the once-rising political ambitions of Gov. Ultrasound himself.) This past  July,  after  an investigation conducted with the rigor generally reserved for Goldman Sachs investigating itself, the state prosecutor announced that Cooch had not violated any law. You can check Google and enter “Virginia campaign finance laws”  and you will find that the most frequent modifier is “lax.”

 

To review the bidding, Ken Cuccinelli has used Virginia taxpayer money to prosecute a far right agenda in the courts, mostly unsuccessfully. This culture warrior has waged war against climate change research, birth control, abortion, and opposed keeping guns out of schools, bars and churches.  With positions like these, he has attracted some very colorful supporters.

While Ken Cuccinelli may be the top law enforcement officer in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that hasn’t stopped him from taking campaign contributions for his gubernatorial bid from a Religious Right activist linked to a kidnapping investigation. Blue Virginia notes that Cuccinelli donor Philip Zodhiates of Response Unlimited is tied to the Lisa Miller kidnapping case.

Zodhiates was named in a RICO lawsuit [PDF] filed by Janet Jenkins, whose former partner Lisa Miller kidnapped their daughter, Isabella, and fled to a Mennonite community in Central America. Before leaving the country with Isabella, Miller broke off a civil partnership with Jenkins after she renounced homosexuality and moved to Virginia and joined the church founded by Jerry Falwell, who also established Liberty University. Miller abducted Isabella after refusing a court order to transfer custody of their daughter to Jenkins.

No word as to whether the Cooch has returned Phil’s check.  And then there is the remarkable case of Cuccinelli surrogate Jim Bob Duggar comparing the US To Nazi Germany. Why? Bet you can guess.

Campaigning for the GOP ticket in Virginia, Duggar attempted to “clarify” his remarks by affirming his comparison of the current state of the US to the Holocaust: 

“It is shocking that Cuccinelli would accept the support of a man who last week publicly compared the United States to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust,” said McAuliffe’s campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin.

Asked about his earlier decision to employ the holocaust metaphor Duggar did not back down.

“Let me clarify,” he said. “We have since 1973 (when Roe v. Wade was decided) had 55 million abortions, so what we have going on is a baby holocaust,” Duggar said.

 

Like most fantasts of the extreme right, Cuccinelli knows how to use religious right propaganda and the fear card to open the fundraising spigots:  A campaign fundraising appeal asserted speculation that “clergy might face imprisonment for teaching the Christian morals from the pulpit” and that homeschooling might be outlawed.

 

We live in a nation in which our inalienable rights to life and liberty face real threats. Our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, second amendments rights, parental rights, and property rights are all slowly being strangled by our federal government.

My oldest daughter, Alie, left a few weeks ago to begin her second year of college. She told me recently she might want to home school her own children one day. I wonder if Alie will even be allowed to home school her children if she desires to do so.  President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, recently argued in federal court that parents do not have a fundamental right to home school their own children.

 

Jesus. Cue the black helicopters.  Really?

The recent kabuki in DC regarding the shutdown of the government also did the candidate no favors.  During that time, he was outspent 2 to 1 by McAuliffe.  And worse for him, his poll numbers took an additional hit. Southeast Virginia is home to nearly 200,000 federal workers, and many contractors, veterans, and civilians employed by military commands. Having their paychecks delayed so that tea party types could parade their peculiar brand of brinksmanship did not sit well in many quarters.

 

Virginia was one of the top states impacted by the shutdown — with hundreds of thousands of federal workers, contractors, and military service members and retirees in the state. And a majority (54 percent) in the poll blames Republicans for the shutdown. Just 31 percent of likely voters blame President Barack Obama.

Four-in-10 – 39 percent – said either they or a family member has been affected by the shutdown, whether it’s employment, services or benefits.

Many say the shutdown will have an impact on their vote — 38 percent of registered voters said it would have a major impact on it; 21 percent said it would have a minor one. 

 

Ironies abound.  That Tea Party policies should adversely affect a Tea Party candidate is just one of those delicious irony is that makes life worth living.

As a result, and in the face of huge amounts of right-wing money poured into the airways of the state, most polls showed McAuliffe ahead between 7 and 10 points in a three-way race (the third  being libertarian Robert Sarvis.)   As The Cooch has trailed, money has poured in, with the result that the campaign has taken a darker, nastier turn.

The battle between a Tea Party favorite and a former top Democratic official to become the next governor of Virginia has set a record – more out-of-state money has poured into this race than any gubernatorial campaign in the state’s history.

In the contest between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, about 70 percent of the nearly $30 million raised for the campaigns has come from outside Virginia, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-profit group that monitors spending in state politics.

The largesse underscores the thinking among political operatives, lobbyists and special interest groups: When it comes to elections this year, Virginia is the only game in town. The biggest U.S. political contest of 2013, to take place November 5, is widely seen as a testing ground for next year’s congressional mid-term elections.

It is the first time in the state’s history that a gubernatorial candidate has raised more than half his funds outside Virginia, the Virginia Public Access Project said, referring to both Cuccinelli and McAuliffe. The list of donors includes special interest groups such as Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association, and hedge fund executives from as far afield as New York and California.

 


Thus Virginia is the Spanish Civil War for the 2014 midterm elections?  But Virginia is hard to predict. Once a Republican stronghold, it is now considered “purple.” Fewer voters turn up during off year elections, which amplifies the impact of right-wing voters, who are busily digging up graves to ensure that they vote all of theirs. Donations have fueled negative campaign advertising, sparking fears that  an increasingly nasty tone could turn off voters and depress turnout on election day, the results of which would also redound to the right.  Also, although Sarvis is showing up with about 8 to 10% of the vote according to polls, some may get to the ballot box and decide to choose otherwise. That vote would expectedly skew toward Cuccinelli.

We have a few more weeks with which to pollute the airwaves, and for media companies to rake in political advertising dollars. Indeed, political advertising is the crack cocaine of the media business: a third-quarter infusion of funds that makes billing problems disappear, at least for a while.  Next week, we’ll consider the improbable candidacy of E. W. Jackson, who deserves his own column. If Ken Cuccinelli is the freak show of Virginia politics, Jackson is the sideshow where a barker urges you to go inside a filthy tent to watch a pencil-necked geek bite the head off a chicken… a degrading and horrific act you find immediately distasteful, but ultimately oddly entertaining.

 

This Was The Week That Was in Doom August 5, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 5, 2013

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

  ~MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

 exposing a crime

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Niemoller’s words, spoken at various times during the postwar era, and including various groups depending on the audience (Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, Trade Unionists, or Communists), served as an indictment of the cowardice of the leaders of German Protestant churches–their complicit silence throughout the Nazi era, turning a blind eye to the imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions.

It is irresistible to compare that era to this one as the spin-down becomes more pronounced, and the overreach more absurd. As in Germany in the 30s, the legal foundation for a more repressive order has already been laid here in the FSA, with laws and definitions sufficiently elastic as to enable any interpretation useful to TPTB. And now the meat is laid on the bone in the form of an unprecedented pursuit of whistleblowers, a panopticon of a surveillance state that ingests and stores every digital communication of every citizen, a hyper-militarized and nearly-out-of-control local constabulary, layers of federalized surveillance personnel, and one House of Congress as intent on wanton destruction and vandalism as the young serial-killers-to-be who, when I was a young boy, blew up a turtle with M80s, and equally possessed of empathy– sociopaths all.  And we watch in complicit silence.

“Complicit silence” is certainly a harbinger of these times, not only of churches, but of the other institutions of what used to be a social order. Media no longer informs, schools no longer teach, laws are written by scriveners employed by billionaires, to be duly passed by their craven hirelings in statehouses and Congress, industries control their own oversight, banks no longer lend money. When revealing the truth is a crime, we well and truly know we are governed by criminals. Voters are the only group in Washington without a lobbyist. And one might well quote Yeats, whose post World War I musings ring prophetic today:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

The Second Coming,” 1919

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Manning convicted on only 19 charges

Apparently the only male member of the Manning family not currently quarterbacking an NFL franchise, Bradley Manning was acquited of the absurd and overreaching charge of “aiding the enemy,” but convicted on 19 other charges by a military judge this week. He is due to be sentenced this week. The Manning trial and the Snowden flap illustrate in full relief the depth of the Obama administration’s hot war against whistleblowers of all stripes.

It is breathtaking to consider the contrast between the rhetoric of the Obama administration today from what it was in the election in 2008, When BHO was promising “hope” and “change”.

 

 

 

Manning was acquitted on the worst of the charges, that of aiding the enemy. Had the judge found him guilty of that charge, he would’ve faced a life sentence in prison without any possibility for parole. Some say that civil libertarians fear that a conviction on that charge, not used since the Civil War, would have chilled would be government whistleblowers. One wonders if this climate for whistleblowers could possibly be any colder; the Obama administration has taken the worst excesses of hunting down whistleblowers and extended it to exotic new heights (see the post about Edward Snowden, below.) Esquire’s Charlie Pierce even took a few moments off of his vacation to opine thus:

The “aiding the enemy” charge was so preposterous on its face, and so evil in its intent, that it tended to obscure how contrary to acceptable American jurisprudence the entire situation — from his detention to his trial — regarding Bradley Manning was. But it was in that charge that this administration — this Democratic administration, headed by a former professor of constitutional law — demonstrated its willingness, if not its eagerness — to elevate information into a tin god to whom we are all suppliants, and against whom we have no civil rights worthy of the name. A conviction on this charge literally would have criminalized the dissemination of information, which is the central purpose of the First Amendment, as long as one of our many purported enemies had access to a computer, or a buck to pick up The New York Times at the newsstand in Abbottabad. It would have made free expression subject to the hypothetical future acts of international criminals and sociopaths. The prosecutors claimed that Manning should be punished because the people in the compound in which Osama bin Laden had been murdered had downloaded some of the information that Manning had released to WikiLeaks, as if that proved Manning’s desire to assist our “enemies,” and not the fact that the Internet is a marvelous environment for getting out the word. This is the logic of authoritarians. That it was pursued so vigorously by a putatively democratic state should terrify us all.

Indeed it should. One of the great services that both Manning and Snowden (not to mention Assange) have provided to American citizens still able to pay attention is that they have smoked out the slavering lackeys of the national security state.  After last week’s close vote in the House of Representatives affirming funding for the NSA spying programs, it is clear that the safety of the state is the state’s highest virtue, and that the truth does not even show up on the radar. This comes as no surprise to readers of this blog; yet all the snow people who, being decent people themselves and good neighbors, find it difficult to believe in the level of depravity exhibited by our so-called elected representatives and their appointees…

In a memo to the CIA workforce this week, Brennan says the “Honor the Oath,” campaign is intended to “reinforce our corporate culture of secrecy” through education and training. The Associated Press obtained the memo Wednesday, marked unclassified and for official use only.

Brennan writes that the campaign stems from a review of CIA security launched last summer by former director David Petraeus, following what Brennan calls “several high-profile anonymous leaks and publications by former senior officers.”

Some of us thought we could expect better from elected Democrats. Not so:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s response to the Snowden leaks on NSA mass surveillance illustrate the establishment’s response to the exposure of truths, especially when those truths involve the governments systematic targeting of innocent Americans in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. Feinstein asserted:

“I don’t look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it’s an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters.

The California lawmaker went on to say that Snowden had violated his oath to defend the Constitution.

“He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s treason.”

We have handed over the keys to our government and its policy making institutions to people who are eager for us to forget who we have been. Interesting that Feinstein should cite the violation of. It seems that if you take an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution, and the policies of your government run directly counter to that of, then whistleblowing is an act of heroism rather than treason.

Should you have any interest in understanding the specific ways in which Bradley Manning has changed the world and added to our knowledge, follow the link below. We will not belabor this further.

Top 10 Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World

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Will Barry Get His Groove Back?

shinners-lsat-blog-pre-law-criminal-background

One sign that Obama is off balance is his unforced errors in dealing with Russia. The bizarre assumption from the get-go seemed to be that Putin would cooperate and hand over Edward Snowden once the Russian leader was prodded a bit.  That clearly didn’t happen, and now Snowdon has asylum inside of Russia. Given the status of US-Russian relations,  believing that Putin would hand this Snowden over was borderline delusional. Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism had a terrific, in depth article this week. A Must Read. Here’s a taste:

Thanks to Obama’s famed “no drama” coolness, it’s hard to detect when he’s breaking a sweat. But if you look at the substance of his actions, it’s clear the President is losing his famed poise, at least as far as Snowden and the surveillance state revelations are concerned. I’m not sure yet whether his missteps are simply the result of personal obsession, or whether Obama recognizes he’s slipping into lame duck status, and his frustration with his declining power is most evident where he is most stressed, which is on the NSA revelations front.

One sign that Obama is off balance is his unforced errors in dealing with Russia. . . As Michael Hirsh explained:

In the decade after the Soviet Union’s collapse in late 1991, the United States offered up a lot of poor economic advice — high-minded tinkering by the free-market consultants at the Harvard Institute for International Development, as well as the IMF…

That era of mistrust of America led directly to era of Putin. Since then, despite various attempts at what former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called a “reset” of relations, the U.S. has tended to encourage Russian suspicions by generally treating “Russia as heir to the USSR’s policies and objectives,” Leslie Gelb and Dimitri Simes write in a new article in The National Interest…. “This creates an impression that the West’s top priorities, long after the Cold War, include not merely containing Russia but also transforming it.”

Putin cleared his throat early on and reminded the US that Russia had no extradition treaty with the US and in general did not extradite people. Packing Snowden off because the US asked for him was not on the table. Putin took the position that the Snowden wasn’t worth exploiting for his annoyance value to the US: “It’s like shearing a piglet: a lot of squealing and little wool.”

The Yves Smith article is well worth your time.

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The Death of Truth

 

The remarkable Chris Hedges, a national treasure, recently published an article in Truthdig that features an interview with Julian Assange  and which puts Assange, Manning, and wiki leaks in useful perspective.

U.S. government officials quoted in Australian diplomatic cables obtained by The Saturday Age described the campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks as “unprecedented both in its scale and nature.” The scope of the operation has also been gleaned from statements made during Manning’s pretrial hearing. The U.S. Department of Justice will apparently pay the contractor ManTech of Fairfax, Va., more than $2 million this year alone for a computer system that, from the tender, appears designed to handle the prosecution documents. The government line item refers only to “WikiLeaks Software and Hardware Maintenance.”

There are no divisions among government departments or the two major political parties over what should be Assange’s fate. “I think we should be clear here. WikiLeaks and people that disseminate information to people like this are criminals, first and foremost,” then-press secretary Robert Gibbs, speaking for the Obama administration, said during a 2010 press briefing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and then-Sen. Christopher S. Bond, a Republican, said in a joint letter to the U.S. attorney general calling for Assange’s prosecution: “If Mr. Assange and his possible accomplices cannot be charged under the Espionage Act (or any other applicable statute), please know that we stand ready and willing to support your efforts to ‘close those gaps’ in the law, as you also mentioned. …”

Republican Candice S. Miller, a U.S. representative from Michigan, said in the House: “It is time that the Obama administration treats WikiLeaks for what it is—a terrorist organization, whose continued operation threatens our security. Shut it down. Shut it down. It is time to shut down this terrorist, this terrorist Web site, WikiLeaks. Shut it down, Attorney General [Eric] Holder.”

It gets deeper, and more draconian:

The dragnet has swept up any person or organization that fits the profile of those with the technical skills and inclination to burrow into the archives of power and disseminate it to the public. It no longer matters if they have committed a crime. The group Anonymous, which has mounted cyberattacks on government agencies at the local and federal levels, saw Barrett Brown—a journalist associated with Anonymous and who specializes in military and intelligence contractors—arrested along with Jeremy Hammond, a political activist alleged to have provided WikiLeaks with 5.5 million emails between the security firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) and its clients. Brown and Hammond were apparently seized because of allegations made by an informant named Hector Xavier Monsegur—known as Sabu—who appears to have attempted to entrap WikiLeaks while under FBI supervision.

Hedges conducts an extneded interview with Julian Assange in an impassioned essay that travels (by way of Oscar Wilde and the Cadogan Hotel) to an impassioned conclusion:

The world has been turned upside down. The pestilence of corporate totalitarianism is spreading rapidly over the earth. The criminals have seized power. It is not, in the end, simply Assange or Manning they want. It is all who dare to defy the official narrative, to expose the big lie of the global corporate state. The persecution of Assange and Manning is the harbinger of what is to come, the rise of a bitter world where criminals in Brooks Brothers suits and gangsters in beribboned military uniforms—propped up by a vast internal and external security apparatus, a compliant press and a morally bankrupt political elite—monitor and crush those who dissent. Writers, artists, actors, journalists, scientists, intellectuals and workers will be forced to obey or thrown into bondage. I fear for Julian Assange. I fear for Bradley Manning. I fear for us all.

This space cannot do this marvelous article justice. Read it at Truthdig.

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Earthquakes burp up methane bubbles

meanwhile, back here outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy, we still have to live on planet Earth, where conditions are going to get both hotter and meaner. Were already ticking away at carbon dioxide levels higher than we would have expected,  and as the earth gets warmer, the North Pole melts during a heat wave, the glaciers melt, methane bubbles up. As a greenhouse gas, methane makes carbon dioxide look like a piker.  Oh yeah, and then there are earthquakes:

The long-suspected link between earthquakes and underwater methane bursts has finally been confirmed, reports a study published on Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Though the temblor wasn’t caught in the act, the strong shaking left clues in methane-rich mud and sand offshore of Pakistan, where two of Earth’s tectonic plates collide at the Makran subduction zone. In 1945, a magnitude-8.1 earthquake struck along the subduction zone, killing at least 300 people and triggering a tsunami.

Recently, researchers studying methane seeps in the Arabian Sea discovered unexpectedly large quantities of methane gas and minerals such as barite and sulfate just below the seafloor surface, on a ridge near the Makran subduction zone. The minerals and gas accumulate at a certain rate, so the team could calculate when the methane indicators first appeared — between 1916 and 1962. Combined with other clues, such as seismic surveys of disturbed sediments, the scientists concluded that the 1945 earthquake released methane gas into the ocean.

“Three lines of evidence came together saying the earthquake triggered the amplification of the methane flux,” said David Fischer, lead study author and a geochemist at the MARUM Institute at the University of Bremen in Germany.

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Fukushima radiation levels as high as 2011

  It goes from bad to worse at Fukushima. This week, water samples taken underground below the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contained levels of radiation comparable to those taken right after the catastrophe 1st occurred in 2011.

According to a Saturday statement by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the tested water contains 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter, and the radioactive water is now seeping into the sea. The findings were also evident from samples taken within a 50-meter radius around the plant.

TEPCO’s specialists have hit a wall trying to solve the problem of the leaking groundwater, which has persisted since 2011. However, unlike then, they cannot tell what the source of the new-found radioactivity is. The current explanation is that the radioactive water that had been left in the underground trench some two years ago is now mixing with the groundwater, which is in turn contaminating the sea.

The current investigation started back in May, when specialists registered a 17-fold hike in radiation levels compared to December 2012. More tests immediately followed.

It seems apparent that TEPCO does not really know how to contain the damage at Fukushima. It is quite unclear whether anybody on planet Earth does. Meanwhile, here in the FSA, the nuclear industry has come a cropper. The government has done everything possible to encourage nuclear power through subsidy, reducing safety standards after Fukushima, obliging Japan to restart its nuclear program, participating in a cover up of the severity of the Fukushima accident, raising acceptable radiation limits, shuttering radiation measuring stations, and agreeing to purchase radioactive Japanese seafood for consumption in the domestic American market. Your tax dollars at work.

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EPA Censored Key Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Study

 Perhaps you still retain some optimism. Perhaps you still believe in open change. Perhaps you think that in a Democratic administration, the co-optation of oversight agencies charged with protecting the commons, like the Environmental Protection Agency, would no longer be captive to special interests. That would mean you haven’t been paying attention to Obama’s appointees. But suffice it to say that the EPA brought the hammer down on its own study on hydraulic fracturing groundwater contamination in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Though EPA said Dimock’s water wasn’t contaminated by fracking in a 2012 election year desk statement, internal documents obtained by LA Times reporter Neela Banerjee show regional EPA staff members saying the exact opposite among friends.

“In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation…staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production,” writes Banerjee.

“The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that ‘methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality.’ The presentation also concluded that ‘methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work,” Banerjee further explained.

It’s essentially a repeat of Steve Lipsky’s water contamination by Range Resources in late-2010 in Weatherford, Texas. In that case, EPA conducted a taxpayer funded study, determined Range had contaminated his water, sued Range – and then proceeded to drop the suit and censor the study in March 2012.

Really, how transparent doesn’t have to be to see that the fix is in?
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Tiny Plastic Beads Are Latest Pollution Threat To The Great Lakes

It appears that in our postindustrial age, we’re not capable of making anything at all that does not have lasting deleterious effects. As if racking did not cause enough problems with water, comes this notice this past week about the Great Lakes and tiny little plastic beads.

Tiny plastic beads from beauty products are showing up in North America’s Great Lakes, and an environmental group is calling upon companies to stop using the plastic particles.

Scientists have already found the particles, known as microplastic, floating in the oceans but recently reported the same contamination in the largest surface freshwater system on the Earth. The particles are often less than a millimeter (0.04 inch).

A team of researchers with 5 Gyres Institute, a non-profit California-based environmental activist group, collected samples from lakes Erie, Superior and Huron last summer and found large quantities of round, plastic pellets.

“They matched the same size, color, texture and shape of the microbeads found in popular consumer products,” said the group’s executive director, Marcus Eriksen. He said the group plans to publish the research in a peer-reviewed journal later this year.

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 Dirty Hands: 77 ALEC Bills in 2013 Advance a Big Oil, Big Ag Agenda

While the House of Representatives votes for a 40th time to repeal Obama care, then dispatches itself on a 5 week paid vacation while the rest of the swelter in the hinterlands, we can comfort ourselves in knowing that ALEC never sleeps.

 

The American Legislative Exchange Council is busy writing legislation, which it then delivers to its hand-picked bill sponsors in nearly 30 states across the country. This off-the-shelf and ready to go legislation invariably serves corporate interests, is reliably anti-labor, and anti-environment. Not surprisingly, Alec’s tar sands and fracturing, and works diligently to make sure that those industries get the red carpet treatment for every time they show up at a statehouse.

 

At least 77 bills to oppose renewable energy standards, support fracking and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and otherwise undermine environmental laws were introduced in 34 states in 2013, according to a new analysis from the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. In addition, nine states have been inspired by ALEC’s “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act” to crack down on videographers documenting abuses on factory farms. 

ALEC, Fueled by Fossil Fuel Industry, Pursues Retrograde Energy Agenda

For decades, ALEC has been a favored conduit for some of the worlds largest polluters, like Koch Industries, BP, Shell, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil, and for decades has promoted less environmental regulation and more drilling and fracking. 

ALEC bills in recent years have pulled states out of regional climate initiatives, opposed carbon dioxide emission standards, created hurdles for state agencies attempting to regulate pollution, and tried to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation introduced in 2013 carries on this legacy. ALEC bills favor the fossil fuel barons and promote a retrograde energy agenda that pollutes our air and water and is slowly cooking the planet to what may soon be devastating temperatures.

“Disregarding science at every turn, ALEC is willing to simply serve as a front for the fossil fuel industry,” says Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “Given the stakes–the earth’s climate–that’s shabby and sad.”

Shabby and said. That’s ALEC  at work, every day. Rust never sleeps.

 
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You’re Shitting Me, Right?

And we now come to that portion of the column in which the headlines beggar belief, let alone reason. In which we read the headline and say, this can’t be true. Were there must be a catch. Or I need new glasses…

Lifelong ‘frack gag’: Two Pennsylvania children banned from discussing fracking

The 7- and 10-year-old children of a Pennsylvania couple that reached a settlement following a lawsuit involving health issues brought on by fracking have been barred from discussing details of the case for the rest of their lives.

Though a gag order is not unusual in itself when large corporations reach a settlement with plaintiffs in court, the August 2011 case of a family that went to court with Range Resources Corporation, Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream, and Markwest Energy due to the environmental and health impact caused by gas fracking operations has raised eyebrows for its inclusion of the couple’s young children.

The Pennsylvania family reached a $750,000 settlement with the gas companies, and have used the award to relocate. In exchange, however, Chris and Stephanie Hallowich agreed that no member of their family could comment on the case “in any fashion whatsoever.”

Details of the case only emerged recently when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette managed to get court transcripts released. The paper’s reporters were originally barred from attending the settlement hearing, and had to wait until a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a lower court had erred in blocking the unsealing of the records.

Court records, which should have included details of the settlement but did not, paint a confusing picture for Chris and Stephanie Hallowich as they tackled the significance of their gag order.

“We know we’re signing for silence forever, but how is this taking away our children’s rights being minors?” Stephanie Hallowich asked the judge.

“I mean, my daughter is turning 7 today, my son is 10.”

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Armed Agents Raid Shelter to Kill Baby Deer — Apex of American Insanity Reached

www.dailykos.com

In a case that highlights absolutely everything wrong with this country,  Wisconsin state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agents and sheriff’s deputies “armed to the teeth” raided a non-profit no kill shelter based on multiple anonymous tips of a deer on the premises. Aerial photos were taken, warrant issued, and the raid ensued by heavily armed agents. The staff was corralled, not permitted to make calls and a cellphone was confiscated to delete pictures of the raid. A baby deer (named Giggles by the staff) was indeed seized and stuffed into a body bag…and then promptly killed by the agents. The presiding warden compared it to a drug raid to justify the SWAT-like tactics.So a local family finds a fawn they believed abandoned by its mother, so they take it to the shelter. Some whacked if-you-see-it-say-it super citizen notified the authorities. Department of Natural Resources investigates covertly, including capturing aerial photos showing the deer. They get a warrant. Heavily armed agents raid the place, staffed by animal loving volunteers. They find the deer. They seize the deer. They kill the deer (according to subsequent inquiry into the fate of the deer). Wisconsin law does not permit possession of wild animals you see. So it requires a SWAT like raid. With guns. Lots of them.

Two weeks ago, Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis on the Kenosha-Illinois border when a swarm of squad cars arrived and officers unloaded with a search warrant.“(There were) nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” Schulze said.

The focus of their search was a baby fawn brought there by an Illinois family worried she had been abandoned by her mother.

This is wrong on so many levels:

Are we over this police state shit yet? Does every damned thing require a SWAT like approach? It was a fucking baby deer! …at a shelter…staff mostly by kids.   And this took a raid? A warrant? Aerial shots? What, they send up a drone? Why not have a local DNR lady drive up in her state truck and walk through the fucking door like a sane human being? Where is the proportionality in our society?

Thus does our militarized police state justify the huge investment in military hardware. This is what happens when you give drones to Barney Fife.

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Fox host: Feeding hungry seniors is ‘called buying votes’ –

Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Tuesday accused the AARP of signing hungry seniors up for food stamps as part of a “buy-the-vote campaign” to benefit President Barack Obama.

On Saturday, the Tribune-Democrat reported that the Pennsylvania chapter of the AARP launched an effort to sign more people up for food assistance after finding that “almost 350,000 seniors in Pennsylvania do not always have enough money to buy food.”

“It’s called buying votes,” Varney opined on Tuesday. “It’s happening in Pennsylvania, Georgia, a couple of other states.”

“What about pride?” Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade wondered. “What about pride in not getting food stamps because they don’t need them?”

“The AARP, huge supports of President Obama, politically and financially, big supporters of Obamacare,” Varney explained. “And now they’re out there signing people up for food stamps. This is part of the buy-the-vote campaign. They’re really shifting America, changing what America really is.”

“But if they’re hungry they should get it, and if they qualify,” co-host Steve Doocy noted.

“Yeah, should they?” Varney grimaced. “Should people be going out there, ‘Give it to me! Give it to me now!’ You want that? Is that America?”

“They are acting on behalf of the president and, I repeat, I think it’s buying votes with taxpayer money,” he insisted.

This page wishes Stuart Varney an edifying hunger that will restore his humanity and fellow-feeling for his neighbors, and the early opportunity to choose between food and medications by means of survival.

Assplug.

 

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O’Reilly: Blacks need ‘peer pressure’ more than sex education and contraception

More from the source of most unintentonal humor, Faux Newschannel™.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly suggested on Friday that many of the problems in the African-American community could be solved by using peer pressure instead of sex education and contraception to prevent unmarried women from having children.

In response to protests over the George Zimmerman verdict, O’Reilly has spent recent days opiningon how to solve problems in the African-American community.

“The big one is the collapse of the family, traditional family in the African-American precincts,” he told Democratic strategist James Carville on Thursday. “I want a big, public campaign funded by the federal government to go in and tell the girls and the young ladies, ‘Don’t do this, this condemns you to poverty, it is destructive to your child, wait until you have a stable situation to become pregnant.’ Would you get behind that campaign?”

“I would get behind if it had comprehensive sex education and had easy access to contraception,” Carville replied.

“That’s all adjacent,” O’Reilly said.

“No, it’s not,” Carville insisted. “I think the idea that the federal government is going to tell a 17-year-old that you just wait and you don’t have sex, I don’t think that’s going to be effective.”

“It has nothing to do with sex, it has to do with getting pregnant,” the Fox News host quipped.

“Well, you know, one leads to the other,” Carville pointed out. “Let’s really fund Planned Parenthood.”

“So, you don’t want peer pressure brought, you want to fund, fund, fund!” O’Reilly exclaimed. “More money, more money.”

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The “anti-God” party

You can’t be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time, Virginia’s GOP candidate for lieutenant governor says. More from the man whose political campaign is tantamount to being the “Political Columnists Full Relief Act of 2013.” After decades of sporting road signs that announced, “Virginia is For Lovers” at major roadways entering Virginia, the regime of major grifter Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound has replaced them with signs that announce, “Virginia: Open For Business.” E.W. Jackson is Ultrasound’s intellectual spawn, as he hopes to occupy the statehouse with Ken Cuccinelli, the gubernatorial candidate. More proof that nowadays, Virginia is for haters. Salon posted this:

In a local radio interview this morning, Virginia Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson said the Democratic Party is “anti-God” and that Christians should leave it.

Jackson has said in the past that he thinks believing in God and voting Democratic are fundamentally incompatible, so WLEE host Jack Gravely asked if he still believes it. Gravely explained that he’s a Christian and tends to vote Democratic, just like his parents and family. Jackson didn’t back down.

“You are saying for us, we’re all wrong, leave that party. And all I’m saying to you is, if you said it before, you still have to believe it, why did you say it?” Gravely asked. “Oh, oh, oh I do believe it,” Jackson responded.

He continued: “I said it because I believe that the Democrat Party has become an anti-God party, I think it’s an anti-life party, I think it’s an anti-family party. And these are all things I think Christians hold to very dearly.”

Listen to the interview here.

Jackson, a bishop and outspoken social conservative, has run intro trouble for his stridently anti-gay and antiquated social views in the past. Even his running mate, the state’s GOP gubernatorial nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, who is no San Francisco liberal himself, has distanced his campaign from Jackson’s.

While Republicans do tend to be slightly more religious than Democrats, 77 percent of Dems surveyed by Pew last year said they “never doubt the existence of God.” Sixty-two percent of Democrats also agreed that prayer is an important part of their daily life, and that “we will all be called before God at the Judgment Day to answer for our sins.”

 

We may well all be called to answer for our sins in the fullness of time. And at times like these, “complicit silence” may be the greatest sins. Having a ringside seat to these perfidies obliges us to act upon the knowledge that we possess, according to our own best lights. In days where truth has been sacrificed to expedience in the name of profit, knowing and spreading the truth becomes a moral–if dangerous– act.

That Was The Week That Was in Doom June 16, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 16, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

This Father’s Day edition caps a week that moved the story of Edward Snowden, and a host of stories examining his bona fides, and speculation about the provenance of the story worthy of a convention hall full of conspiracy theorists. A week in which we saw the collective IQ of Virginia dip a dozen points as Republicans nominated for Lieutenant Governor a man  live and direct from the ninth century, a process enabled by the apathy of Virginians . . . and, on the subject of apathy, Sibel Edmonds placed the blame for the NSA whistleblower flap squarely where it belongs.  and others speculate on whether the CIA is punching a hole in the NSA… And while we sleep, the Trans-Pacific partnership continues to be negotiated behind closed doors, safely out of sight of  mere Muppets,  interested citizens, and  other annoyances such as elected representatives.

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E.W. Jackson runs for Lt. Governor in Virginia. 

Meet E.W. Jackson, the gift that just keeps on giving in Virginia politics:

 

E.W. Jackson burst on the national stage a couple of weeks ago when the republicans chose him to run as Lieutenant Governor in a secret seance held under Kate Obenshain’s skirts, and elected him in a burst of enthusiasm equivalent to when they load up the T-shirt cannon for the second time at a NASCAR event. It cleared out the entire trailer park. Given that only two states are choosing governors in an off year election, a disproportionate amount of attention will be paid to races in Virginia and New Jersey, so you’ll be hearing more from this quarter.. In Virginia, Koch Brothers franchisee Ken Cuccinelli is taking a break from harassing climate scientists, taking the part of natural gas drillers against Virginia citizens and defending himself and current Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound from ethics charges to get this Teanderthal selected as candidate for LG. Let’s hear from the Rev. himself:

 

In a video posted to YouTube last September, the minister and activist urged black Christians to reject the “ridiculous lies” of the “Democrat Party.”

“It is time to end the slavish devotion to the Democrat Party,” Jackson says in the clip. “They have insulted us, used us and manipulated us. They have saturated the black community with ridiculous lies… They think we are stupid and that these lies will hold us captive while they violate everything we believe as Christians.

He continues, “The Democrat Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was. And the Democrat Party and the black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide.”

In reviewing the bidding, we find that this likely successor to the leadership post vacated by Michele Bachmann asserts not only  that Planned Parenthood has killed more blacks that the KKK and that BHO has a “Muslim perspective” on world events, but also, as Ron Popeil might say, “There’s More!!”

Earlier this week, Jackson was criticized after a post for the National Review revealed that his book also suggests yoga could lead to satanic possession.

“When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana,” Jackson wrote in his book. “The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want.”

But his thoughts on yoga and evolution are merely some of Jackson’s more unconventional opinions. In the past, the candidate hasargued that recognition of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community “makes him feel ikky.”

So far, the candidate has refused to backtrack on any of his statements.

“I don’t have anything to rephrase or to apologize for,” Jackson said in May. “I would just say, people should not paint me as one-dimensional. I have a whole lot of concerns.”

 

 

A reasonable person might think that would have been enough for one week. But this is Virginia, and  reasonable people have left the building, witness Rev. Jackson’s candidacy. The good Rev. took it upon himself this Thursday to hold a rambling, barely coherent press conference in which he unburdened his soul and shared a host of youthful indiscretions, the better to inoculate himself against use by his political opponents or the “lame stream” press.

He referenced his bankruptcy proceedings, late payment of bills, drug use, employment irregularity and having taken classes at Harvard Divinity school, although Harvard has no record of that. His campaign advice goes, that is probably pretty good: inoculate yourself against the inevitable, attempt to disarm your opponents, and bury this information in a part of the electoral cycle where people not paying attention to statewide electoral races may likely forget come November. Effective advice, yet a bit cynical.   And as long as we’re being cynical, the selection of a black minister with extremely conservative views will certainly help to dilute the effectiveness of the black religious vote in the Commonwealth this November.

 

It remains to be seen what comes of this election, yet it is fair to say that the Cuccinelli–Jackson ticket is as extreme a Republican ticket as I have seen in my lifetime, and  Virginia is certainly capable of offering up some rare specimens indeed.  never forget that this is the state that houses “Pat” Robertson, who still continues to host a television program in which he offers up adventures from the land of Alzheimer’s, including suggesting that women who buy used clothing may be setting themselves up for demonic possession. We shit you not.

 

Do not sleep on this guy, as Charlie Pierce would say. Interestingly, if ominously, a favorability poll offered by local paper has people breaking about 50-50 for or against Rev. Jackson’s candidacy.  This again in Pat Robertson country. Early reports from the Monticello area have it that the body of Thomas Jefferson has spun dervishes enough to bore halfway to China.

_____________________________________________________________________

NSA Leakery Leakery Dock

Extreme-Surveillance

So much has been written about the Edward Snowden NSA whistleblower story, it is hard to know where to begin. The story moved last weekend. Since then, confusion has been sowed, strange bedfellows made, sides taken, and the narrative has switched from focus on the PRISM program to the bona fides of the leaker; is he a high school dropout, is he a traitor, why China as a destination, does he really eat the main course before his salad, and a continued effort by the mainstream media to reframe the issue and, in 43’s  inimitable phrase, “catapult the propaganda.”

Part of the real story of skewered by the fawning corporate press is that a half 1 million people, most of them private contractors, had the security clearances to be sifting through this information. And many of them work for foreign companies.

Washington’s Blog reports in 2008 that foreign companies have had key roles scooping up Americans’ communications for the NSA:

At least two foreign companies play key roles in processing the information.

Specifically, an Israeli company called Narus processes all of the information tapped by AT &T (AT & T taps, and gives to the NSA, copies of all phone calls it processes), and an Israeli company called Verint processes information tapped by Verizon (Verizon also taps, and gives to the NSA, all of its calls).

Business Insider notes today:

The newest information regarding the NSA domestic spying scandalraises an important question: If America’s tech giants didn’t ‘participate knowingly’ in the dragnet of electronic communication, how does the NSA get all of their data?

One theory: the NSA hired two secretive Israeli companies to wiretap the U.S. telecommunications network.

In April 2012 Wired’s James Bamford — author of the book “The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” — reported that two companies with extensive links to Israel’s intelligence service provided hardware and software the U.S. telecommunications network for the National Security Agency (NSA).

By doing so, this would imply, companies like Facebook and Google don’t have to explicitly provide the NSA with access to their servers because major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T and Verizon already allows the U.S. signals intelligence agency to eavesdrop on all of their data anyway.

Who knows how this will play out? What if anybody knows the bona fides of whistleblowers, Sibel Edmonds certainly does.

_____________________________________________________________________

America: A Deteriorating Nation of Denial & Apathy

One of the more thought provoking and sobering articles that sheds light and responsibility upon the political dimension of the problems we face, penned on the Boiling Frogs site by Sibel Edmonds. (A big tip o’ the Surly Crown of Thorns to Golden Oxen for posting it in the Forum.) The NSA whistleblower flap focuses the popular attention on the Eternal Security State, yet all that has been and will be done turns on policy. As does the imminent climate change/destruction we surely face, as our political institutions remain captive to the forces of capital and immune to public comment.

Most of us, especially the over-50 crowd, can see ourselves in Edmonds’ words:

Once upon a time, for over a decade, I was that relentless naïve sucker under the illusion of America the land of the pretty much free and the nation more-or-less governed by the Constitution.

Then I stopped-being that sucker.

That’s right. I stopped talking about that enemy sympathizer called the US Federal Courts. I ceased cheering for entities filing lawsuits, year after year, in pursuit of illusionary justice coming out of imaginary Halls of Justice.

Edmonds describes here quest for the real enemy. Here is what she found:

Sadly, the real answer is not what the bewildered and irate activists are willing to hear or acknowledge.

It is much easier to stare at the beasts in the forms of palaces and presidential mansions, carved majestic marble-granite courts, congresses or parliaments, media conglomerates.

.   .   .
I find myself standing alone when I now answer the questions directed at me following the endless atrocities and scandals. I am no longer the provider of the popular answer. My answer is one of the most unpopular, if not the most, in the eyes and ears of the public . . . there will be no hope of any meaningful action or changes so long as we stick with our national pride.

The enemy has been us; we the people. We the majority – in denial. Our national apathy. Our large majority’s denial, indifference; apathy. Apathy is a must ingredient for any police state, authoritarian regime, dictatorship, for abuses of power, for corruption, national atrocities, genocide … Some ingredients may be decreased, increased or substituted, but one key ingredient remains constant: Public Apathy.

Like a cat chasing its tail, like Don Quixote chasing the many windmills, we can target and point fingers at kings, presidents, statesmen, judges and media puppetries. In the end we’ll end up with our own tail, we’ll arrive at the windmill of our own. We will end up with us the people. And that is the ultimate enemy we must take on and out: Our very own denial and apathy.

surveillance-cameras

_____________________________________________________________________

Add Surveillance State

Regarding the unfolding NSA leak story, some informed insight: “We are dealing with a complex situation with fragmentary information being dribbled to us by the media out of context. Eventually we’ll presumably have a more complete understanding of the various facets involved.”

And this from AlterNet:

Americans may be upset about the latest revelations in the government’s ability to spy on citizens via their online lives, but no one should be surprised. We’ve underestimated and overlooked many key aspects of the government’s ability to track our lives for years.

The bottom line, which resonates most strongly among civil liberties advocates on the left and conservative libertarians on the right, is not just the loss of privacy but also the growing power of the state to target and oppress people who it judges to be critics and enemies. That list doesn’t just include foreign terrorists of the al-Qaeda mold, or even the Chinese government that has  stolen the most advanced U.S. weapon plans; it also includes domestic whistleblowers, protesters and journalists—all of whom have been  targeted by the Obama administration Justice Department.
See the incredibly sobering list here.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

HOW THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP WOULD IMPACT YOU

In a recent exchange on the Diner Forum, agelbert wrote:

Remember when Bush was in Iraq in secret and they announced all kinds of details of the Turkey dinner that Condolezza Rice was invited to at the RANCH just beforehand? I do. I went back and read how the Washington Post and the New York Times MADE SURE people read this inane bit of “”innocent” Thanksgiving food prattle. . .  Whenever something sounds like a non sequitur, they are confusing you to get your mind off something else. Just like the big flap about a “leak” now and Obama’s “endangered term” made me ask, WHAT ARE THEY HIDING? They are trying to hide the fact that the empire is LOSING in SYRIA by making as much noise as possible in an attempt to blackmail Obama to start the war. I checked the news within ONE day of this “leak” shit. Low and behold, Assad is wiping the death squad strongholds out. Panic time for the MATRIX. Bring out another “scandal”.

If more people did the critical thinking leg work to see how the game is played, less people would be taken in by it.

And I replied:

The only way to decode the MSM is the way you watch a magician: watch what he is doing with his off or away hand. Consider everything you arre seeing a distraction, if you want to understand how the trick works. Trouble in the middle east? Play the runaway bride story hard. And the Natalie Holloway story got the better part of a year of play…

In Virginia, the administration of Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound and his AG made significant war on women last year, occasioning a lot of counter demonstration and activist effort. I counseled Contrary, “Wait for the other shoe to drop.” The other shoe (s) were plans to privatize road/tunnel construction projects and the Port of Virginia, plus the effort to end an existing ban on Uranium mining, essentially selling off the commons to commercial (and foreign) interests.

The politics of distraction.

The reason they do it, again and again, is because it works. While we are distracted with the NSA story, and the bona fides and Providence of Edward Snowden, a much bigger story is unfolded behind our backs, safely out of sight prying eyes or ears. And that is the Trans–Pacific partnership, now gestating in meeting rooms the same way an alien gestates inside an unsuspecting victim in a Ridley Scott movie.
It is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by officials from the United States and 10 other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Japan is slated to join in July.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been under negotiation for 5 years.

Although it is called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is not really mainly about trade.Of the TPP’s 29 draft chapters, only 5 deal with traditional trade issues. Most would set rules on non-trade matters that affect our daily lives: food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, job off-shoring, financial regulation, and more.
Our domestic policies would be required to comply with the TPP rules.

Here’s another issue you probably wouldn’t want to sleep on. Here is a good general purpose website to acquaint us with the issues.
_____________________________________________________________________

These are the big issues for the week.  There are doubtless others, but sweet Jesus, enough is enough. Tracking this Snowden/NSA story is truly to walk through a hall of mirrors.

If you’ve read this far, you probably noticed that satire has outstripped reality. The foreign governments and press offices often mistake headlines from The Onion for the real thing. In a continuing effort to offer valuable public service, here’s a collection of stories Not from The Onion:

Until next week, then.

 

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