Monday, July 28, 2014

Today's GOP: The Party of John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis

There are two propositions I have in politics that usually elicit the most negative response from white American conservatives.  One, the average Islamic fundamentalist in the Middle East is, ideologically-speaking, virtually the same in worldview as any Christian fundamentalist in the West.  Two, today's Republican Party is, for the most part, the bastard great great grandchild of the Confederacy.*

Read Lincoln's views on states' rights, or most importantly the Radical Republicans in the post-Civil War era on civil rights, and compare it to today's GOP, which opposes the Voting Rights Act and mostly wants to see the repeal of the Civil Rights Act.  Of course, this is obvious in terms of why.  In the post-World War Two era, after losing national elections for 20 consecutive years, the Republicans realized that they could no longer get elected with a 19th century coalition of voters (particularly after the progressives deserted the GOP for the Democrats by the New Deal), and went after the most disgruntled Democratic voters they could find, white Southerners and Midwesterners suspicious of civil rights and non-white folk in general.

Meet Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for the US Senate in Iowa.  When not supporting the abolition of the EPA, Clean Water Act, as well as the elimination of Social Security (up yours, old people!), all so we can balance the federal budget, candidate and Lt. Colonel Ernst rationalizes our invasion of Iraq on the grounds there might have been a chance that the country possessed WMDs (necessitating $2 trillion in pure deficit spending, liberating the Iraqis for the wonderful post-Saddam democratic paradise they are living in today).  Oh, and John C. Calhoun was right about nullification!

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GOP Senate Candidate Caught Saying States Can Nullify Laws
by Ben Jacobs
Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, appears to believe states can nullify federal laws. In a video obtained by The Daily Beast, Ernst said on September 13, 2013 at a form held by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.”

“You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”
Ernst, a first-term state senator, has never explicitly supported pro-nullification legislation in her time in the Iowa state senate. However, she co-sponsored a resolution that says “the State of Iowa hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.” It was introduced in response to “many federal mandates [that] are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
States cannot nullify federal laws, of course.
In embracing the concept of nullification, Ernst harkens back to a discredited theory that the Constitution is a compact and states are free to void federal laws that they dislike. This view was widely promoted by John Calhoun, the great Southern advocate of slavery prior to the Civil War and was touted by segregationists in the 1950s and 1960s. In recent years, the idea was purged of its most racist overtones and fringe elements of the right adopted it as an argument against Obamacare, gun control, and other federal regulations.
As Erwin Chemerinsky, a noted constitutional law scholar and Dean of the University of California, Irvine Law School, told The Daily Beast, nullification is expressly forbidden under Article VI of the Constitution. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof… shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Chemerinsky also noted that the Supreme Court had dealt with this issue as recently as 1958, when in Cooper v. Aaron, a unanimous decision signed by every justice on the court, it was made clear that states could not nullify federal laws or Supreme Court decisions.
Chemerinsky did point out that while “constitutional law doesn’t back up her rhetoric about the tenth amendment” in his opinion, it is something on which “people can have different views” and generally within the realm of acceptable discourse.
Historically, the Tenth Amendment has been viewed as simply a basic statement of fact rather than something explicitly grants power to the states. The best-known description of this comes from a unanimous Supreme Court decision in 1941 by Justice Harlan Stone in United States v. Darby Lumber where Stone wrote:
The amendment states but a truism that all is retained which has not been surrendered. There is nothing in the history of its adoption to suggest that it was more than declaratory of the relationship between the national and state governments as it had been established by the Constitution before the amendment or that its purpose was other than to allay fears that the new national government might seek to exercise powers not granted, and that the states might not be able to exercise fully their reserved powers”
However, conservatives opposed to a strong federal government have pushed for a more expansive interpretation of the Tenth Amendment in recent years. Some of these, known as Tenthers, have pushed model legislation, citing the amendment, which would allow states to nullify federal gun laws.
The Ernst campaign did not return a request for comment.
A spokesman for the campaign of Ernst’s opponent, Democratic congressman Bruce Braley, said he agrees with Justice Stone’s understanding of the Tenth Amendment in Darby Lumber.
Ernst’s comments mark yet another chapter in what has been an ugly Senate campaign. Democrats have tried to depict her as an extremist and suggested that the Iowa state senator supports impeaching President Obama. In contrast, the Republicans have slammed Braley as being an out-of-touch liberal trial lawyer who is willing to sue his neighbors over minor squabbles and who looks down on those without advanced degrees.
The race is currently considered a tossup by outside observers and polling has Ernst and Braley in a dead heat.
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Funny, I seem to recall the founder of the Republican Party having quite a different view of nullification.  Indeed, the entirety of the Republican Party from the 1850s to the 1930s was to oppose nullification, states' rights, and the spreading of the very sectionalist (even anti-national) ideas that Ernst is advocating today.  I guess the Confederacy really did win something after all.  They won the Republican Party.  Congratulations!

*=Do not fret, thou whiny conservatives. My view of liberals who blindly support the Democratic Party is not much better than my perception of you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Gaza: Our Crime, Our Complicity

I could sit here and write a thesis on how the U.S. needs to put a halt to The Gaza offensive by our so-called ally, Israel, and pull all aid (especially military) to the IDF.  I could sit here and write about how we as Americans need to finally get over our collective racial hatred towards Arabs and Palestinians, and recognize that calling for their murder is absolutely no different than the mentality of those in the hills of Afghanistan thirteen years ago who advocated our death.  I could sit here and type, over and over, as I have so many times over the years on this blog, and try to appeal to people's conscience about how what is happening in Israel and its territories are war crimes.  I could do that, but I have no illusions at this point.  

To most Americans, they do not care.  Palestinians, as a predominantly Muslim group, are not fully human to most of us.  They are less than people, and as such when they are murdered their lives mean little to nothing.  That is a harsh reality, but deep down most progressives in the U.S. know it to be true.  Even the so-called progressive members of Congress, including potential presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren, cannot get enough of Israel's offensive.  And to the right-wing of this country, like Israel, racial mass murder has never sounded so sweet.

So, to the Nancy Pelosis and John Boehners (actually, almost 100% of our Congress and the White House), if you want to support Israel, please, stop the charades about 'terrorism.'  This is what you really support (all of these subsequent pictures are from the current invasion of The Gaza by Israel).

Here are some pictures you will not see on Fox 'news' or much of any so-called mainstream American media outlet:












I am sure when Mark Levin goes to bed tonight, if he sees those pictures, it will give him something to masturbate to, while thinking about the satisfaction of seeing dead Palestinian babies and children.  If he has to rationalize it, he'll pretend they're all human shields or closeted members of Hamas (and as such deserving death, along with all Palestinians, I mean members of Hamas).  After all, to think anything less makes you a Nazi.  Notice the strange irony of an open racist and advocate of genocide using the same race-baiting and anti-Semitic tactics of the groups he claims to be completely opposed to (least anyone who is Jewish not use his/her 'real' last name!).  

Sadly, Levin's racism and bigotry is not isolated.  Here was what started out as an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv a few days ago.  Go to minute marker 1 in the video, to see the right-wing racist counter-demonstration, calling for the elimination of leftists and all Arabs.  Sweet bunch.



There are even right-wing politicians in Israel openly calling for the extermination of Palestinians.


I know war brings out the worst in people, but this is beyond horrific.  If anyone wonders why I am almost always an anti-war person in my own inclinations (even though I am not a pacifist), it is the behavior of Israel in the Occupied Territories (and my own government in supporting Israel's crimes).

'Ah, but dear pinko blogger, what about those Hamas rockets?'  I challenge a single U.S. supporter of Israel's conduct to tell me what you would do if we were invaded, had half of our country taken from us (on account of another group's crime), and the other half used as a dumping ground by the occupying force for the excess refugees, with a cantonized population, no resources, no state, and periodic invasions and massacres.  Tell me how you would react.  I would personally hope that I would still be the person I am today, and oppose war even in those circumstances, but I understand the desire to resist being attacked.  

No one in the U.S., not a single person (including Mark Levin), would ever put up with being treated like this, and many of those same conservative supporters for Israel would be the most violent fanatics (like Hamas [itself a religious nationalist organization]) in opposing such conduct (and reacting with force), if it was done to us.  I am not saying it is the right thing for them to do (ultimately, it is self-defeating), but I would be lying to myself to pretend that humans will forever put up with being treated like subjects to be massacred (and have the occupier's politicians openly call for the occupied's physical extermination), and then expect a peaceful result.  It will never happen, in The Gaza, the Warsaw ghetto, or the antebellum South.  It is a part of our nature as humans that when you oppress people, they react to what you are doing to them.

But this is not just Israel's crime.  It is our crime, as Americans.  We elect politicians in both parties who universally support Israel's conduct, give Israel over $3 billion a year in military aid, basically arming the IDF and enabling its behavior in The Gaza.  And we as a government (an elected one at that) continue to flack for Israel in the United Nations Security Council and make sure that under no circumstances our erstwhile ally is ever held accountable for its behavior.  Without support and sponsorship of the U.S. government, I doubt seriously that Israel would be in The Gaza right now, and it is highly likely that the occupation would have ended many decades ago.  That makes us as citizens of this sponsor state complicit in the crime.  We have a responsibility, for those of us who are not crazed bigots with genocidal/exterminationist tendencies, to criticize this arrangement, along with the Israeli government.  We need to scream it aloud until that government changes its policies, or at the very least rest knowing we did not stay silent in this complicity.  We owe that much to ourselves and,  yes (dare the thought), to those Palestinians being massacred.

And to those who think I am overstating this, particularly those Americans more worried about whether or not Justin Bieber is going to get deported, or what Kim Kardashian likes to wear, this is what you as citizens of this terrorist state have condoned by omission or open support.  Imagine those being your children or loved ones (if you ever could).  If you want to really get depressed, just go down to the comments and read what some of those white American 'freedom lovers' are writing about this incident.  Truly educational in light of their fetishism for fetuses and rape babies (unless they are Palestinians, of course).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rise of Religious Nones: The Coming Secularization Of America

Over the pat few years there have been some excellent studies published about the increasing prevalence of self-identified religious 'nones' in the U.S.  This is a category that was first measured in the 1980s and '90s, back when religious nones (those who choose not to affiliate with any religion) were less than 7-8% of the population (depending on which poll you were looking at).

Well, we have apparently come of age and grown up.  In 2012, we doubled our numbers or portion of the population to 15%.  In 2014, we are now 20%.  Most worrisome of all to the right-wing, over one-third of young people (those under 30) are religious nones, meaning that the 20% is only going to continue to increase.  Of course, those folks are not all atheists.  Most of them are simply people who have left a religion out of some frustration with it.  However, as non-affiliated folk, they are going to be overwhelmingly secular in worldview and more in line with those who support the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

This has come at the expense mostly of Christian churches in the U.S.  Starting in the post-World War Two era, a mass exodus from liberal mainline Protestant denominations began taking a toll on Protestant America.  Over time, the Catholic Church likewise began to lose numbers (one out of three people raised Catholic in the U.S. are ex or non-members by adulthood).  For the longest time, fundamentalist Protestant churches flourished and used the declining numbers in mainline Protestant denominations as 'proof' that the skygod supported their Bronze Age interpretation of the world.  Low and behold, this rise of religious nones is now starting to come at the expense of right-wing denominations.

Probably the two largest and most conservative Protestant denominations in the US are the Southern Baptists and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  In 2005, there were 16.6 million members of Southern Baptist churches in the U.S.  In 2014, there are 15.7 million (in fact eight consecutive years of membership decline).  In the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, its membership was over 2.5 million in 2000 (over 2.7 million in 1968).  It is now down to 2.2 million and declining yearly (the last time the LCMS had an increase in membership was in 1997).  So, the protection these groups once felt from the secular tides of this country are melting away, and with it their members and eventually churches, as well.  Truly, a wonderful development.  

There is no more beautiful sight in this world than to see the closed doors of a factory of misery and hate.




Of course, the first and most steep declines occurred in the liberal churches/denominations.  That is because it is next to impossible for anyone to be a liberal believer in Christianity and accept the concepts of living in a modern society without having to reconcile with modernity and science.  Fundamentalists at least understand that much, which is why they deny scientific reality for a belief that dinosaurs were treading around with humans 6,000 years ago.  It is what insulated them for so long.  The United Church of Christ (the most liberal of all mainline Protestant churches [the first to accept openly gay and lesbian pastors in the 1970s]) has seen its membership decline from over 2 million in 1962 to less than 1 million today.  Most of those 1 million people who left the UCC did not join the LCMS or Southern Baptists.  They just became religious nones.  

The aforementioned notwithstanding, most religious nones in the past couple of decades do not come from the ranks of liberal churches.  Indeed, most religious nones are like myself, heretical refugees of theological orthodoxy (in my case, the Catholic Church).  Once these churches began pushing intolerance of LGBT people and women's bodies, it stripped the rationale by which most of us continued to delude ourselves into thinking it was a worthwhile endeavor to spend our Sunday mornings around a group of small-minded bigots.  That and the fact it is antithetical to live in a modern society, with all it has to offer, especially in terms of education and technology, and continue to believe that Jonah survived in the belly of a whale for three days, or that some 30 year old carpenter walked on water or rose Lazarus from a grave.  For people who take rational thought seriously, as most progressives do, you have to really be an adult version of a believer in Santa Claus to continue the charade.  That is why the liberal churches faded first and over time the conservatives ones too (now that some of their ex-members are waking up from the deep sleep of a lifetime of brainwashing by their families to believe in these tax exempt cults).

What this means is that ultimately the political realities of this country will have to reflect our cultural changes.  Economic elites can buy and sell our government.  However, they cannot literally deny the culture they live in because they depend on it to keep otherwise law abiding people asleep while they purchase the legislative process.  This means that in very short order, there is going to be a decline of influence of the Religious Right in the U.S.  Maybe not in the Bible Belt (for the time being), but certainly in the rest of the country, and it is inevitable.  Finally, a victory, even if it is only permissible because it does not cost the upper 1% income tax bracket a thing to recognize (like marriage equality).

So, my fellow heathens, rejoice, especially fellow non-believers who happen to live in the Western World's epicenter of human ignorance, the American South.  The cavalry is coming and without a cross.  Onward and forward to the reign of the one true goddess, Thor!



Friday, July 11, 2014

White Supremacist Militia Promises Violence On The Border: The Anti-Mexican Crusade Liveth

I have chronicled over the past seven years of this blog's existence the growing racialist and supremacist reactions of whites in the U.S. to the thought of folk of European descent becoming a numerical minority.  It is sadly nothing new, and really dates back at least to the 1990s (Carl Rowan wrote an excellent book on the phenomenon), but it has picked up pace in the 2000s as many whites see the browning of this country as a perceived threat to their racial privilege of dominating and controlling this country.

This phenomenon is not only a replay of what has happened since the demographic switch over has started in earnest during this decade, it is a universal theme from white-majority countries' response to the presence of non-white populations.  It is why neo-Nazi and openly fascist parties are getting elected and becoming part of government coalitions in Europe (virtually every European country is dealing with this).  Indeed, it is highly likely that in the near future most European countries will have governments led by unabashedly neo-Nazi and fascist parties at the helm (all of whom predicate their existence on expelling or controlling immigration from non-white [and in Europe's case mostly Muslim] countries).



Back here in the good ole US of A, where one cannot exactly get away with saying that Hitler was right (like the Golden Dawn in Greece), comes our right-wing militia groups.  In the 1990s (before bombing the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City), this was a movement obsessed almost solely with gun control, but seeing how that issue has been resolved with the ownership of the legislative process on gun legislation by the NRA, they have found a new villain of the hour.  Mexicans.

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Militia plans to guard border by aiming guns at immigrants, start revolution if cops show up

By Travis Gettys
A militia group is calling on supporters to patrol the Texas-Mexico border to guard against drug gangs and illegal immigrants.
The citizen militia operation, called “Secure Our Border – Laredo,” is urging members to voluntarily guard private property near the border town along the Rio Grande, where some residents have felt threatened by drug cartels and other gangs.
Conservative publications have warned that a recent surge in undocumented children and other immigrants has carried infectious disease across the border and poses an existential threat to the U.S.
A spokeswoman for the militia group told the Brownsville Herald that members would not engage in violence, and the group’s leader – who calls himself Commander Chris “Threepercenter” Davis – has cautioned against violent actions or racist comments.
“This is not a ‘go-in-guns-blazing’ kind of thing,” said spokeswoman Denice Freeman. “This will be handled with the utmost professionalism and security and safety for everyone involved.”
But a 21-minute video that was apparently posted June 14 by Davis encourages militia members to threaten suspected illegal immigrants to secure the border.
“You see an illegal,” Davis says in the video. “You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’”
He also urged militia members to “start the next 1776 right there on the border” if they were confronted by law enforcement authorities.
“It is time that we start taking back our national sovereignty,” Davis says.
The YouTube account for Davis was apparently deactivated since the Brownsville Heraldreported his comments.
Davis describes his beliefs and interests in a brief biography on his Twitter account.
“I believe in the King James Bible, The Constitution, and Bill of Rights!” he says. “I am a Future Veteran of the Refounding. Molon Labe! III%! Spirit of 1776!”
Hidalgo County sheriff Eddie Guerra said the militia was not needed in the Rio Grande Valley.
“We don’t need their services on our border,” Guerra said. “If we ever did, I’m sure we have enough good people in Hidalgo County that I can call up.”
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Let us first address the phony issue these folks posit to justify threatening death and mayhem on immigrants:  namely, that they are only enforcing immigration laws and opposed to illegal immigration.  This is usually followed by how their ancestors (mostly back in the 19th century) came to the US legally and 'did it the right way.'

What most of these whites (and they are virtually 100% white and only worried about 'illegal immigration' from Mexico, not Canada [when was the last time you have seen any of these groups 'guarding' the border in the north?]) will not tell you, and maybe they sincerely lack historical understanding, modern immigration law in this country never existed until the Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924, when the US imposed racial quotas on immigration to discourage immigration from non-Anglo Protestant nations.  It was updated in 1965, but until the 20th century it was extremely difficult to immigrate into the US illegally.  In fact, so long as you were not a disease carrier and OK with working 72 hour weeks in mines and factories for several years (and preferably were of European ancestry and not from Asia), you were an American.  How ironic that the descendants of these people now talk about how much they support federal laws and regulations for the newer arrivals, or else they are illegal--particularly in light of the fact these same groups pine constantly about their hatred of the federal government and government regulations and the bureaucratic-strangulation effect of their implementation in all facets of life in this country.  But not on immigration (well, today's immigrants, not their ancestors, naturally).

In addition, if we are to base their threatened murderous acts on law enforcement and Mexican immigrants on some newfound love for federal law, and wanting to do things the legal and right way, I am sure those same white conservatives must be wondering how and where they ended up in this country.  After all, unless you live in a few ex-settlement areas of the East Coast, virtually 100% of this country's territory was someone else's, in some cases well into the late 19th century.  In fact, much of this country's territory, in the American Southeast, as well as the West and Southwest, were promised to these original occupants in perpetuity by treaty, to which our own Constitution obligates our federal government to abide by after ratification.  Obviously, we did not follow those treaties.  Our federal government in the 19th century violated those treaties en masse and expelled and murdered many of this country's original (i.e., real) Americans to clear way for the very descendants of immigrants (who came to this country when immigration law was virtually non-existent for European arrivals) to tell us about the importance of following the letter of federal law!

And by the way, if it was just about abiding by the law, why threaten violence on police officers if they show up?  That seems somewhat antithetical to one's pro-law-and-order value system, if one believed any of these psychos with homicidal tendencies ever cared about such a thing.  But then it only exemplifies just how much these groups really never cared about the law to begin with.  Or to put it more aptly, the law only matters when it is being absolutely applied to people from outside your group.  When it is you, you retain the right to ignore the law and threaten violence.  Here is one of the fine specimen of manly meat merely attempting to murderously threaten his way to getting what he wants.


Surely, this man privately loves all peoples from Latin America and thinks Martin Luther King, Jr. was on the right side of history.

As noted in the article, if you want some fun (or a scare), just go to this wannabe violent wingnut's Twitter account to see just how crazy the militia's self-appointed 'commander' really is.  Here are some examples of his posts.  Just consider, this person is trying to 'guard' our border.


This is what happens when white conservatives spend too much of their time watching John Wayne movies.

As aforementioned, at the end of the day, most of these folks betray their intentions and motivations when asked about the groups they are targeting.  Here are some honest "anti-illegal" rally signs over the past few years.








OK, I have to admit, that last sign was ironically awesome.  If nothing else, I appreciate these bigots for being open and truthful about what they think.  Most white conservatives in the US would not have the guts to hold up those signs and proudly announce their ignorance.  They would continue to say it is just about being in the US illegally.  Speaking of which, here is an original American telling some anti-immigrant demonstrators who the illegals are.



Sure it's only about immigrating here legally.  And LeBron is going to stay in Miam...oh, never mind.

Friday, July 4, 2014

America The Beautiful (A Parody), Sort Of...

From fellow internet heretic, Jaclyn Glenn, here is a nice little ode to this July 4th, and all of those religious men who think women's bodies should be the personal property of their skygod.  Happy Birthday, 'Murica.