Tuesday, October 22, 2013

the most corrupt political system in the world...,

NYTimes | WE have long assumed that the infestation of special interest money in Washington is at the root of so much that ails our politics. But what if we’ve had it wrong? What if instead of being bribed by wealthy interests, politicians are engaged in a form of legal extortion designed to extract campaign contributions? 

Consider this: of the thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year, only roughly 5 percent become law. Why do legislators bother proposing so many bills? What if many of those bills are written not to be passed but to pressure people into forking over cash? 

This is exactly what is happening. Politicians have developed a dizzying array of legislative tactics to bring in money. 

Take the maneuver known inside the Beltway as the “tollbooth.” Here the speaker of the House or a powerful committee chairperson will create a procedural obstruction or postponement on the eve of an important vote. Campaign contributions are then implicitly solicited. If the tribute offered by those in favor of the bill’s passage is too small (or if the money from opponents is sufficiently high), the bill is delayed and does not proceed down the legislative highway. 

House Speaker John A. Boehner appears to be a master of the tollbooth. In 2011, he collected a total of over $200,000 in donations from executives and companies in the days before holding votes on just three bills. He delayed scheduling a vote for months on the widely supported Wireless Tax Fairness Act, and after he finally announced a vote, 37 checks from wireless-industry executives totaling nearly $40,000 rolled in. He also delayed votes on the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act and the Small Company Capital Formation Act, scoring $91,000 from investment banks and private equity firms, $32,450 from bank holding companies and $46,500 from self-described investors — all in the 48 hours between scheduling the vote and the vote’s actually being held on the House floor. 

Another tactic that politicians use is something beltway insiders call “milker bills.” These are bills designed to “milk” donations from threatened individuals or businesses. The real trick is to pit two industries against each other and pump both for donations, thereby creating a “double milker” bill. 

President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. seemed to score big in 2011 using the milker tactic in connection with two bills: the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act. By pitting their supporters in Silicon Valley who opposed the bills against their allies in Hollywood who supported the measures, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden were able to create a sort of fund-raising arms race. 

In the first half of 2011, Silicon Valley had chipped in only $1.7 million to Mr. Obama’s political campaign. The president announced that he would “probably” sign antipiracy legislation — a stance that pleased Hollywood and incensed Silicon Valley. The tech industry then poured millions into Mr. Obama’s coffers in the second half of 2011. By January of 2012, Hollywood had donated $4.1 million to Mr. Obama. 

Then, suddenly, on Jan. 14, 2012, the White House announced that it had problems with the antipiracy bills and neither passed. “He didn’t just throw us under the bus,” one film executive and longtime supporter of Mr. Obama anonymously told The Financial Times, “he ran us down, reversed the bus and ran over us again.”

the fabulous life in hollywood for ugly people...,

NYTimes | A new book from a conservative advocate of tighter campaign finance regulations seeks to draw attention to a number of questionable but legal fund-raising activities — some potentially damaging, others certainly embarrassing — that could prove uncomfortable for some on Capitol Hill. 

The author is Peter Schweizer, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, whose last book focused on how members of both parties enriched themselves by trading stock based on information they obtained by virtue of their positions in Congress. The book — and the news coverage of it — helped lead to the Stock Act, which banned insider trading for representatives and senators but stopped far short of the systemic changes advocates like Mr. Schweizer said were necessary. 

Mr. Schweizer hopes his new book, titled “Extortion,” will help push Congress to address loopholes in the campaign finance system, including banning “Leadership PACs,” which allow politicians to spend and solicit money without many of the restrictions they face when using their dedicated campaign committees. 

These groups, Mr. Schweizer argues, have essentially become slush funds that enable lavish lifestyles while they exist ostensibly to help members of Congress finance their own campaigns and help political allies. 

The book details the extravagant expenses of Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, for instance, whose leadership PAC spent $10,000 on golf at Pebble Beach, nearly $27,000 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and $107,752 at the exclusive Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla. The amount Mr. Chambliss spent at the Breakers in the 2012 election cycle, the book reports, is three times what the senator gave to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the same period. 

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, racked up $65,000 in expenses during the 2012 cycle at a resort on South Carolina’s exclusive Kiawah Island, the book says. That was more than he transferred to his party’s senatorial committee, despite raising $1.1 million. 

A spokeswoman for Mr. Chambliss said that every fund-raiser and expenditure was documented and reported according to the law, and that he gave the maximum allowed to his colleagues. Mr. Blunt’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

congressional coprolithic bolus...,

Monday, October 21, 2013

jeb bush to the wattles: propose an alternative and show a little self-restraint...,

RCP | JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: But I just spoke to Ted Cruz and he was the guy who said, hey, let's not agree to a funding resolution unless ObamaCare is defunded. That was the strategy that really kicked it off and he told me that he will now do anything he can to stop ObamaCare and he does not rule out pushing to the brink once again.

What would your message be to Ted Cruz?

JEB BUSH: Well, frankly, I think the best way to repeal ObamaCare is to have an alternative. We never hear the alternative. We could do this in a much lower cost with improved quality based on our principles, free market principles, and two, show how ObamaCare, flawed to its core, doesn't work.

So have a little bit of self-restraint. It might actually be a politically better approach to see the massive dysfunction. But we don't even hear about that because we've stepped on that message. And I think Republicans need to just take a step back and allow -- show a little self-restraint and let this happen a little more organically.

nutty baggers rigged parliamentary rules and suspended democracy in order to enact the shutdown...,

Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate's clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee -- all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote. Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives.

feces-flinging, circus clown college in congress...,

RT | Is the drama in Washington, a comedy or a tragedy? What's a better term for American democracy? When will the debt time bomb detonate? Who can stand up against American exceptionalism? We discuss this and more with National Security whistleblower, Mark Novitsky 

.Sophie Shevardnadze: Our guest today is another national security whistleblower, and no it’s not Edward Snowden – his name is Mark Novitsky and he joins us from the American city of Minneapolis.
So the drama in Washington – what was it? Is it a comedy or a tragedy?
Mark Novitsky: It’s really disturbing to refer to what’s happening in Washington as a joke, and on behalf of all critical, clear-thinking Americans I want to apologize to the rest of the world for our Circus Clown College in Congress, and only the American Congress could pat themselves on the back and break their elbows for kicking the can down the road instead of actually doing their job, and delaying this for another three months on an issue that they should have handled couple years ago.
SS: There is no default this time, but only for now, the root causes aren’t really going away, be they political or economic, don’t you think?
MN: The situation is that actually there was a default, we went into default in May, and the Treasury department actually started dipping into US government pension funds to make up for that deficit. All of these things are really scary and I think that we would have to take a look at these issues as if what would be the consequences for the average person if they were to pile up their credit card debt to the point where they can’t afford to pay their mortgage and going to get another credit card – there has to be some type of resolution to all of this nonsense from an economic perspective. I think the first thing you do when you’re in the bottom of the hole is stop digging.
SS: Why is it that every draft bill turns into existential crisis for Congress? I mean, beforehandCongress was somewhat able to make more pragmatic decisions, come to an accord – but now it’s all about life and death struggle..
MN: Because the concept of social control being best managed through fear predates Christ from a political perspective, and in order for there to be fear so that one may have social control have to have a crisis. People often tend to refer to me, saying “Mark, you’re so negative!” That’s because we have a new crisis every week that we need to deal with and the way that we end up dealing with this crises is piling them on top of each other and nothing ever gets resolved. We need to hold our government officials accountable to the rule of law, to the Constitution, and I want to thank Russia Today for having me on, because the media is such a big component of that – and, tragically, Americans find themselves the best-entertained people on the planet and the least informed. But I think that that tide is turning, people are starting to understand the use propaganda, and being a little bit more selective.

I’ll be honest with you – when I told people that I was going to do a program on Russia Today people were saying “why would you do that? You’re going to look like a Commie!” And I said, “Listen, you need to broaden your perspective. You need to find a news source or news service that doesn’t just tell you what you want to hear.” You have to be critical, you have to think about what they are trying to sell you, when you’re talking about the news. What becomes news here in America is when a teen actress named Miley Cyrus sticks her tongue out and gets more naked and there’s three hours’ programmed on CNN.
SS: Well, thank you very much for being so positive about Russia Today, but talking about narrowing things down or broadening them – American Democracy is narrowed down to two parties and even then the Congress fails to agree on things. Is there a better term than “democracy” to describe it?
MN: Feudalism, I guess. Pseudo-democracy. We are in the United States of America and we ended up coming down to having a choice between two pre-selected candidates who spend the most money. A look at what just transpired with our country and our government with regards to this “every six month debt limit increase” or it’s a fiscal cliff, or it’s austerity – there’s always something to be afraid of, but at this point in time if we look at the television and see these two idiot teams bickering and fighting back and forth.

I’ll be candid with you, when I have a mental image of American politics I see two warring factions of chimpanzees baring their teeth and screaming at each other and waving and flailing their hands above them and throwing feces at each other. That’s where we are at. We got to get back to being the beacon of freedom, the beacon of democracy, the beacon of common sense.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

10 reasons the tea party is so unpopular

alternet | Now that the federal government has reopened and its debt limit raised, the Tea Party is more unpopular with Americans than ever—including among moderate Republicans—polls are finding, with analysts asking if the Tea Party is part of the GOP at all.  

“The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49 percent) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30 percent have a favorable opinion,” the Pew Research Center For People And The Press said in its latest poll and report.

“For Republicans, the decline is steepest among those who describe themselves as moderate or liberal. Today, only about a quarter (27 percent) of moderate and liberal Republicans have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, down 19 points from June,” Pew said, after surveying 1,500 adults over 18 across the country between Oct. 9 and 13. “Yet the Tea Party’s ratings have also declined among conservative Republicans, from 74 percent favorable in June to 65 percent now.”

Since the standoff ended, there’s been no shortage of media reports about the Republican Party tearing itself apart—with rightwingers accusing leaders in Congress of “surrender” and finger pointing at usual targets such as the media's supposedly liberal bias. Tea Party leaders such as former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, vowed in a Wall Street Journal column Friday that the fight to destroy the Affordable Care Act will continue. Meanwhile, another Tea Party darling, Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul, is AWOL in this fracas, perhaps nursing his 2016 presidential bid.

But no one should think that the Tea Party’s latest failures will make them go away. This faction, as epitomized by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declaring that the shutdown was a victory, is unapologetic, arrogant and proud of it. As Pew notes, Tea Partiers share 10 beliefs and causes that make most Americans cringe—not just Democrats but millions of moderate and liberal Republicans. Let’s look at those views and values, according to Pew.

the abject failure of reaganomics

consortiumnews | In the decades that followed Reagan’s 1980 election, the Right has invested ever more heavily in media outlets, think tanks and attack groups that, collectively, changed the American political landscape. Because of Reagan’s sweeping tax cuts favoring the rich, right-wing billionaires, like the Koch Brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife, also had much more money to reinvest in the political/media process, including funding the faux-populist Tea Party.

That advantage was further exaggerated by the Left’s parallel failure to invest in its own media at anything close to the Right’s tens of billions of dollars. Thus, the Right’s outreach to average Americans has won over millions of middle-class voters to the Republican banner, even as the GOP enacted policies that devastated the middle class and concentrated the nation’s wealth at the top.
So, even as American workers struggled in the face of globalization and suffered under GOP hostility toward unions, the Right convinced many middle-class whites, in particular, that their real enemy was “big guv-mint.”

Though Obama won the presidency in 2008, the Republicans didn’t change their long-running strategy of using their media assets to portray the Democrats as un-American. The Right waged a relentless assault on Obama’s legitimacy (spreading rumors that he was born in Kenya, he was a secret socialist, he was a Muslim, etc.) while a solid wall of Republican opposition greeted his plans for addressing the national economic crisis that he inherited.

The Rise of the Tea Party
Like previous Democrats, Obama initially responded by offering olive branches across the aisle, but again and again, they were slapped down. In mid-2009, Obama wasted valuable time trying to woo supposed Republican “moderates” like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine to support health-care reform. Meanwhile, Republicans filibustered endlessly in the Senate and whipped their right-wing “base” into angrier and angrier mobs.

Initially, the GOP strategy proved successful, as Republicans pummeled Democrats for increasing the debt with a $787 billion stimulus package to stanch the economic bleeding. The continued loss of jobs enabled the Republicans to paint the stimulus as a “failure.” There was also Obama’s confusing health-care law that pleased neither the Right nor the Left.

The foul mood of the nation translated into an angry Tea Party movement and Republican victories in the House and in many statehouses around the country. Gradually, however, a stabilized financial structure and a slow-healing economy began to generate jobs, albeit often with lower pay.
Obama could boast about sufficient progress to justify his reelection in 2012, with most voters also favoring Democrats for the Senate and the House. However, aggressive Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts helped the GOP retain a slim majority in the House despite losing the popular vote by around 1½ million ballots.

But the just-finished budget/debt showdown has shown that the Tea Party’s fight over America’s political/economic future is far from over. Through its ideological media and think tanks, the Right continues to hammer home the Reagan-esque theory that “government is the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Left still lacks comparable media resources to remind U.S. voters that it was the federal government that essentially created the Great American Middle Class – from the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.

Many Americans don’t like to admit it — they prefer to think of their families as reaching the middle class without government help — but the reality is that the Great American Middle Class was a phenomenon made possible by the intervention of the federal government beginning with Franklin Roosevelt and continuing into the 1970s. [For one telling example of this reality -- the Cheney family, which was lifted out of poverty by FDR's policies -- see Consortiumnews.com's "Dick Cheney: Son of the New Deal."]

Further, in the face of corporate globalization and business technology, two other forces making the middle-class work force increasingly obsolete, the only hope for a revival of the Great American Middle Class is for the government to increase taxes on the rich, the ones who have gained the most from cheap foreign labor and advances in computer technology, in order to fund projects to build and strengthen the nation, from infrastructure to education to research and development to care for the sick and elderly to environmental protections.

In other words, the only strategy that makes sense for the average American is to reject the theories of Ronald Reagan and the Right. Rather than seeing the government as “the problem” and higher taxes on the rich as “bad,” the American people must come to understand that, to a great extent, government has to be a big part of the solution.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

yet another player on the chessboard of "christian" livestock management...,

wikipedia | The Fellowship, also known as The Family,[1][2][3] is a U.S.-based religious and political organization founded in 1935 by Abraham Vereide. The stated purpose of the Fellowship is to provide a fellowship forum for decision makers to share in Bible studies, prayer meetings, worship experiences and to experience spiritual affirmation and support.[4][5]

The organization has been described as one of the most politically well-connected ministries in the United States. The Fellowship shuns publicity and its members share a vow of secrecy.[6] The Fellowship's leader Doug Coe and others have explained the organization's desire for secrecy by citing biblical admonitions against public displays of good works, insisting they would not be able to tackle diplomatically sensitive missions if they drew public attention.[6]

Although the organization is secretive, it holds one regular public event each year, the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C. Every sitting United States president since President Dwight D. Eisenhower, including President Barack Obama, has participated in at least one National Prayer Breakfast during his term.[7][8][9][10]

The Fellowship's known participants include ranking United States government officials, corporate executives, heads of religious and humanitarian aid organizations, and ambassadors and high-ranking politicians from across the world.[1][11][12][13][14] Many United States Senators and Congressmen who have publicly acknowledged working with the Fellowship or are documented as having done so work together to pass or influence legislation.[15][16]

In Newsweek, Lisa Miller wrote that, rather than calling themselves "Christians," as they describe themselves they are brought together by common love for the teachings of Jesus and that all approaches to "loving Jesus" are acceptable.[16] In contrast, Jewish writer[17] Jeff Sharlet, whose book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,[2] and an article in Harper's[18] about his experience serving as an intern in the Fellowship, brought the group renewed and increased public attention has opined that the organization fetishizes power by comparing Jesus to "Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden" as examples of leaders who change the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their "brothers".[14][16] Fist tap Nakajima Kikka.

the dominionist prayer warrior REDUX (originally posted 9/10/2011)

Video - Rick Perry's big prayer rally

Alternet | Since he announced his candidacy on Saturday, Texas Governor Rick Perry has been hailed as the great GOP hope of 2012. Perry's entry into the chaotic Republican primary race has excited the establishment in part because he does not have Michele Bachmann's reputation for religious zealotry, yet can likely count on the support of the Religious Right.

Another advantage for Perry is support from an extensive 50-state “prayer warrior” network, organized by the New Apostolic Reformation. A religious-political movement whose leaders call themselves apostles and prophets, NAR shares its agenda for control of society and government with other “dominionists,” but has a distinctly different theology than other groups in the Religious Right. They have their roots in Pentecostalism (though their theology has been denounced as a heresy by Pentecostal denominations in the past). The movement is controversial, even inside conservative evangelical circles. Nevertheless, Perry took the gamble that NAR could help him win the primaries, a testament to the power of the apostles’ 50-state prayer warrior network.

While it may not have been obvious to those outside the movement, Perry was publicly anointed as the apostles’ candidate for president in his massive prayer rally a few weeks ago, an event filled with symbolism and coded messages. This was live-streamed to churches across the nation and on God TV, a Jerusalem-based evangelical network.

There’s little doubt that Perry is NAR's candidate -- its chosen vehicle to advance the stated agenda of taking "dominion" over earthly institutions.

The Prayer Warriors and Politics
Perry’s event is not the first time NAR apostles have partnered with politicians. (See previous AlterNet articles by Paul Rosenberg and Bill Berkowitz.) Alaskan Apostle Mary Glazier claimed Sarah Palin was in her prayer network since she was 24 years old and Glazier continued to have contact with Palin through the 2008 election. Prior to running for governor, Palin was “anointed” at Wasilla Assembly of God by Kenyan Apostle Thomas Muthee, a star in promotional media for the movement. The Wasilla congregation is part of a Pentecostal denomination, but it’s leadership had embraced NAR’s controversial ideology years before and has hosted many internationally known apostles.

A partial list of those who have made nationally or internationally broadcast appearances with apostles includes Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, and Jim DeMint. Numerous others, including Rick Santorum, have participated in less publicized apostle-led events.

The list of state and local candidates partnering with the apostles’ network includes Hawaii gubernatorial candidates James “Duke” Aiona, a Republican, and Mufi Hannemann, a Democrat. The conference call that got U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris in hot water with Jewish voters back in 2006, was led by Apostle Ken Malone, head of the Florida prayer warrior network. Apostle Kimberly Daniels recently won a seat on the Jacksonville, Florida city council -- as a Democrat.

Why would Rick Perry take the risk of partnering with such a controversial movement? The apostles’ statewide “prayer warrior” networks link people and ministries online and also includes conferences, events, and training. Many of the ministries involved have extensive media capabilities. The “prophets” of the NAR claim to be continuously receiving direct revelation from God and these messages and visions are broadcast to the prayer warriors through various media outlets. For instance, in the 2008 election, prophesies concerning Sarah Palin, including one from Mary Glazier, were sent out to the prayer warrior networks. Palin repeatedly thanked her prayer warriors during and after the election.

The prayer warrior networks could work as an additional arm for Perry’s campaign in early primary states. South Carolina’s network is led by Frank Seignious, a former episcopal priest who joined the movement and was ordained into “apostolic ministry” by Apostle Chuck Pierce of Texas. Seignious has incorporated the spiritual warfare and prayer network under the name Taking the Land. His network is under the “apostolic authority” of the Reformation Prayer Alliance of Apostle Cindy Jacobs and the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, led by Apostle John Benefiel. Both Jacobs and Benefiel endorsed Rick Perry’s prayer event.

Jacobs announced in March that the movement hopes to mobilize 500,000 prayer warriors or intercessors to “prayer for the nation for the 2012 elections to shift this nation into righteousness and justice." She made this statement while speaking at Alaska’s Wasilla Assembly of God, the church where Sarah Palin was anointed by Thomas Muthee in 2005.

Ideology of the New Apostolic Reformation
The leaders of the movement claim this is the most significant change in Protestantism since Martin Luther and the Reformation. NAR's stated goal is to eradicate denominations and to form a single unified church that will fight and be victorious against "evil" in the end times. Like many American fundamentalists, the apostles teach that the end times are imminent, but unlike most fundamentalists, the apostles see this as a time of great triumph for the church.

Instead of escaping to heaven in the Rapture prior to the battles of the end times, the apostles teach that believers will remain on earth. And instead of watching from the grandstands of heaven as Jesus and his warriors destroy evil, the apostles believe they and their followers will fight and purge the earth of evil themselves. This includes taking “dominion” over all sectors of society and government, which, in turn, will lead to a "Kingdom" on earth, a Christian utopia ruled from Jerusalem. The end times narrative of the apostles is similar to that of the Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s and 1950s, which was considered heretical by traditional Pentecostal denominations.

dominionists take the center stage..., REDUX (originally posted 9/10/2011)

aljazeera | With Representative Michele Bachmann's victory in the Ames, Iowa straw poll, and Texas Governor Rick Perry's triumphal entrance into the GOP presidential primary, there's been a sudden spike of attention drawn to the extremist religious beliefs both candidates have been associated with - up to and including their belief in Christian dominionism. (In the Texas Observer, the New Yorker, and the Daily Beast, for example.) The responses of denial from both the religious right itself and from the centrist Beltway press have been so incongruous as to be laughable - if only the subject matter weren't so deadly serious. Those responses need to be answered, but more importantly, we need to have the serious discussion they want to prevent.

For example, in an August 18 post, originally entitled, “Beware False Prophets who Fear Evangelicals”, Washington Post religion blogger Lisa Miller cited the three stories I just mentioned, and admitted, “The stories raise real concerns about the world views of two prospective Republican nominees”, then immediately reversed direction: “But their echo-chamber effect reignites old anxieties among liberals about evangelical Christians. Some on the left seem suspicious that a firm belief in Jesus equals a desire to take over the world.” Of course, she cited no examples to bolster this narrative-flipping claim. More importantly, she wrote not one more word about the real concerns she had just admitted.

Dominionism is not a myth
"What In Heaven's Name Is A Dominionist?" Pat Robertson asked on his 700 Club TV show, one of several religious right figures to recently pretend there was nothing to the notion. Funny he should ask. In a 1984 speech in Dallas, Texas, he said:
"What do all of us do? We get ready to take dominion! We get ready to take dominion! It is all going to be ours - I'm talking about all of it. Everything that you would say is a good part of the secular world. Every means of communication, the news, the television, the radio, the cinema, the arts, the government, the finance - it's going to be ours! God's going to give it to His people. We should prepare to reign and rule with Jesus Christ."

Furthermore, C Peter Wagner, the intellectual godfather of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), actually wrote a book called Dominion! in 2008. Chapter Three was entitled “Dominion Theology”. When pressed, Peter likes to pretend that his ideas are just garden-variety Christianity, based on Genesis 1:26, in which, before the fall, God gives Adam and Eve dominion over the natural world - a far cry from dominion over other people, who did not even exist at the time, as evangelical critics of this dominionist argument have repeatedly pointed out.

Dominionism is not new
Dominionist ideas have circulated throughout the religious right for decades prior to Robertson's 1984 speech. A primary source was the small but influential sect known as Christian Reconstructionism, founded by R J Rushdoony in the 1960s, which advocates replacing American law with Old Testament codes. Centrists like Miller make the mistake of thinking that the small size of Rushdoony's core of true believers is the full extent of his influence. But this is utterly mistaken. As Michelle Goldberg wrote in Daily Beast, “Rushdoony pioneered the Christian homeschooling movement, as well as the revisionist history, ubiquitous on the religious right, that paints the US as a Christian nation founded on biblical principles. He consistently defended Southern slavery and contrasted it with the greater evils of socialism.”

A second source traces back to the roots of the Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s, long rejected by orthodox evangelicals because they contradicted scripture and denied primary agency to God - which is why they insist that Christians must actively establish church dominance over all of society, because God can't do it alone.

The Latter Rain was denounced by the Assemblies of God - the largest American Pentecostal church - in 1949, not solely for dominionist ideology, but for a variety of related beliefs and practices. When similar teachings and practices re-emerged in the guise of the New Apostolic Reformation 50 years later, the Assemblies of God denounced them again in 2000.

This time, however, many Assemblies of God congregations have increasingly accepted the NAR influence. Sarah Palin's long-time church in Wasilla is one such congregation. The most clear-cut example of NAR dominionism is the so-called “Seven Mountains Mandate”, which holds that dominionist Christians should control the whole world by infiltrating and dominating the “Seven Mountains” of culture: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion. Fist tap Arnach.

the fellowship (and uganda) REDUX (originally posted 1/24/2010)

Wikipedia | The Fellowship, through Senator Brownback and Representative Joe Pitts (R.-Pa.), redirected millions in US aid to Uganda from sex education programs to abstinence programs, thereby causing an evangelical revival, which included condom burnings, and doubling the incidence of AIDS.

In a November 2009 NPR interview, Jeff Sharlet alleged that Ugandan Fellowship associates David Bahati and Nsaba Buturo were behind the recent proposed bill in Uganda that called for the death penalty for gays.

Sharlet reveals that David Bahati, the Uganda legislator backing the bill, reportedly first floated the idea of executing gays during The Family's Uganda National Prayer Breakfast in 2008. Mr. Sharlet described Mr. Bahati as a "rising star" in the Fellowship who has attended the National Prayer Breakfast in the United States and, until the news over the gay execution law broke, was scheduled to attend this year's U.S. National Prayer Breakfast.

Family member Bob Hunter gave an interview to NPR in December in which he acknowledged Bahati's connection but argued that no American associates support the bill.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"wizard" behind koch brothers donor network now on the outs...,

HuffPo | The high premium that Koch-backed groups attach to preserving donor anonymity was underscored in a previously undisclosed email that Kevin Gentry, the lead organizer of the Kochs’ twice-a-year donor meetings, sent out to scores of financial backers in September, right after Freedom Partners President Marc Short leaked key details of its IRS filing to Politico. The filing revealed that Freedom Partners has become a super conduit for funding many of the same conservative allies as the Center to Protect Patient Rights, plus others like the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.

“As always, the confidentiality of members is a major priority for us,” Gentry’s email said. “So just to be clear -- filing these tax documents in no way publically [sic] discloses the names or other details of donors.” 

Significantly, Gentry stressed that Freedom Partners was set up as a business league or 501(c)(6) -- similar to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- with a tax status that “provides additional safeguards,” since “members' names are not disclosed to the IRS.”

The importance of anonymity to some donors has increased since last fall’s elections when two California agencies began probing possible violations of a state election law by Noble’s center and two other nonprofits that also don’t disclose their donors. In California, the state's attorney general and its Fair Political Practices Commission have been looking into how the three nonprofits funneled $11 million to a small-business PAC in the state, which spent the funds on an unsuccessful drive to sway two ballot measures.

One ballot measure would have curbed union spending, while the other would have blocked a tax hike backed by the governor. Under California law, donors to state initiative campaigns are supposed to be fully disclosed, and the probe is seeking to ferret out the real source of the $11 million.
The inquiry has been heating up, with an increased focus on possible criminal wrongdoing, according to two people familiar with its progress, and could potentially lead to millions of dollars in civil penalties and criminal charges. In recent weeks, additional subpoenas have been issued and new cooperation has come from some witnesses, the two individuals said. Some of that cooperation seems to be “adverse” to Noble’s center and parts of the Koch donor network, according to one of the two sources.

At least one donor who has been touched by the probe had previously helped fund some Koch-backed projects. Charles R. Schwab, chairman of the eponymous investment firm Charles Schwab Corp., or an entity connected to him has received a subpoena, according to an individual familiar with the probe. Charles Koch, speaking at a Koch conference in 2011, cited Schwab as one of about 30 donors who had kicked in $1 million or more in the prior year to Koch-backed causes.

A spokesperson for Schwab declined to comment. Rob Tappan, a Koch Industries spokesman, has said that the company had no financial or other role with the two California measures, and stressed that he was speaking for the Kochs and not “independent entities” such as Noble’s center. Both the California attorney general’s office and the Fair Political Practices Commission declined to comment. Koch Industries, a vast manufacturing and energy conglomerate, is the nation’s second-largest privately owned company, with annual sales of about $100 billion and 70,000 employees worldwide.

only a generation late - governance now allowing peak oil to enter the narrative mainstream...,

sciencedaily | While critics of Peak Oil studies declare that the world has more than enough oil to maintain current national and global standards, these UMD-led researchers say Peak Oil is imminent, if not already here -- and is a real threat to national and global economies. Their study is among the first to outline a way of assessing the vulnerabilities of specific economic sectors to this threat, and to identify focal points for action that could strengthen the U.S. economy and make it less vulnerable to disasters.

Their work, "Economic Vulnerability to Peak Oil," appears in Global Environmental Change. The paper is co-authored by Christina Prell, UMD's Department of Sociology; Kuishuang Feng and Klaus Hubacek, UMD's Department of Geographical Sciences, and Christian Kerschner, Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

A focus on Peak Oil is increasingly gaining attention in both scientific and policy discourses, especially due to its apparent imminence and potential dangers. However, until now, little has been known about how this phenomenon will impact economies. In their paper, the research team constructs a vulnerability map of the U.S. economy, combining two approaches for analyzing economic systems. Their approach reveals the relative importance of individual economic sectors, and how vulnerable these are to oil price shocks. This dual-analysis helps identify which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk from Peak Oil. For the United States, such sectors would include iron mills, chemical and plastic products manufacturing, fertilizer production and air transport.

"Our findings provide early warnings to these and related industries about potential trouble in their supply chain," UMD Professor Hubacek said. "Our aim is to inform and engage government, public and private industry leaders, and to provide a tool for effective Peak Oil policy action planning."
Although the team's analysis is embedded in a Peak Oil narrative, it can be used more broadly to develop a climate roadmap for a low carbon economy.

"In this paper, we analyze the vulnerability of the U.S. economy, which is the biggest consumer of oil and oil-based products in the world, and thus provides a good example of an economic system with high resource dependence. However, the notable advantage of our approach is that it does not depend on the Peak-Oil-vulnerability narrative but is equally useful in a climate change context, for designing policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In that case, one could easily include other fossil fuels such as coal in the model and results could help policy makers to identify which sectors can be controlled and/or managed for a maximum, low-carbon effect, without destabilizing the economy," Professor Hubacek said.

why the u.s. power grid's days are numbered..,

bloomberg | There are 3,200 utilities that make up the U.S. electrical grid, the largest machine in the world. These power companies sell $400 billion worth of electricity a year, mostly derived from burning fossil fuels in centralized stations and distributed over 2.7 million miles of power lines. Regulators set rates; utilities get guaranteed returns; investors get sure-thing dividends. It’s a model that hasn’t changed much since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. And it’s doomed to obsolescence.

That’s the opinion of David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy, a wholesale power company based in Princeton, N.J. What’s afoot is a confluence of green energy and computer technology, deregulation, cheap natural gas, and political pressure that, as Crane starkly frames it, poses “a mortal threat to the existing utility system.” He says that in about the time it has taken cell phones to supplant land lines in most U.S. homes, the grid will become increasingly irrelevant as customers move toward decentralized homegrown green energy. Rooftop solar, in particular, is turning tens of thousands of businesses and households into power producers. Such distributed generation, to use the industry’s term for power produced outside the grid, is certain to grow.

Crane, 54, a Harvard-educated father of five, drives himself to work every day in his electric Tesla Model S. He gave his college-age son an electric Nissan Leaf. He worries about the impact of warming on the earth his grandchildren will inherit. And he seems to relish his role as utility industry gadfly, framing its future in Cassandra-like terms. As Crane sees it, some utilities will get trapped in an economic death spiral as distributed generation eats into their regulated revenue stream and forces them to raise rates, thereby driving more customers off the grid. Some customers, particularly in the sunny West and high-cost Northeast, already realize that “they don’t need the power industry at all,” Crane says.

are utility companies out to destroy solar's rooftop revolution?

commondreams | Customers who install solar systems and battery arrays are finding themselves cut off from grid. In the nation's largest state, California, the major utility companies are trying to limit growth. Of rooftop solar panels, that is.

According to reporting by Bloomberg, the state's three largest utilities—Edison International, PG&E Corp. and Sempra Energy—are "putting up hurdles" to homeowners who have installed sun-powered energy systems, especially those with "battery backups wired to solar panels," in order to slow the spread of what has become a threat to their dominant business model.

“The utilities clearly see rooftop solar as the next threat,” Ben Peters, a government affairs analyst at solar company Mainstream Energy Corp., told Bloomberg. “They’re trying to limit the growth.”

According to Peters, as the business news outlet reports, the dispute between those with solar arrays and the utility giants "threatens the state’s $2 billion rooftop solar industry and indicates the depth of utilities’ concerns about consumers producing their own power.  People with rooftop panels are already buying less electricity, and adding batteries takes them closer to the day they won’t need to buy from the local grid at all."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the far-right "christian" movement which attempted a debt default

HuffPo | If the U.S. breaches its debt ceiling this week, bringing with it the global financial panic economists predict, leaders of a little-known far-right movement called Christian Reconstructionism can claim partial responsibility. Their goal: to eradicate the U.S. government so that a theocratic Christian nation emerges to enforce biblical laws.

That's right -- laws out of the Book of Leviticus prohibiting adultery, homosexuality, and abortion, with penalties including death by stoning.

The key leader of this movement is Gary North, founder of the Institute for Christian Economics in Tyler, Texas. He's a long-time associate of Ron Paul, intellectual godfather of the Tea Party movement -- the very people responsible for Congressional deadlock over the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate.

Paul and North go way back. North served on Paul's first congressional staff in 1976, and North describes himself as Paul's "original staff economist." Earlier this year, Paul announced plans for a curriculum for home schoolers that will teach "biblical" concepts. The director of curriculum development for the program? Gary North.

In an Oct. 4 column in The Tea Party Economist, North describes government default as a "fake threat." So it can't be a surprise that the Tea Party caucus isn't taking government default seriously.

And what of the connection between this group and Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who almost singlehandedly created the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis?

Cruz is the son of Rafael Cruz, a Texas pastor who directs Purifying Fire Ministries. According to a biography page for the True the Vote summit in April 2013, Rafael Cruz became active in politics during the 1980 presidential campaign, joining the Religious Roundtable, founded in 1979 to involve conservative Christians in politics. "The Religious Roundtable was a Judeo-Christian organization that mobilized millions of Christians all across the United States and helped elect Ronald Reagan," Cruz said. "It was a precursor of the Tea Party, even before the Moral Majority."

What to make of all of this? For the last few weeks Tea Party-leaning members of Congress have been described as "kooks" and "crazies" by the Washington establishment, liberals, moderate Republican leaders, and the media.

The name-calling might be satisfying to those who oppose the Tea Party, but it's entirely untrue. These are people who are patient, determined, deliberate, and rational.

why wait until it's sucked out of the lazy rich?

wisegeek | After a standard liposuction fat removal procedure, the lipo fat is normally sealed in a specialized biohazard container designated for medical waste. It is then burned in an incinerator designed for this purpose. While some surgeons may dispose of body fat this way on the same clinic or hospital premises, many of them outsource this job to a local medical waste disposal company. Post-liposuction waste presents a contamination risk just as other types of human biological matter removed during surgery, and it needs to be disposed with the proper procedures for handling this kind of biohazardous waste. 

Liposuction removes a layer of fat deposits from underneath the skin by vacuum aspiration. It is usually done under general or local anesthesia with a medical instrument called a cannula, and the targeted fat waste usually needs to be broken up through the surgeon's back-and-forth manipulation of the cannula. It can then travel through a tube attached to the cannula to a collection container. Individuals who choose to have liposuction generally do so as an additional resort after caloric reduction and exercise have not removed enough fat tissue from certain areas of the body.

Some plastic surgeons also use liposuction fat on a limited basis for other types of cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentation, face wrinkle filling, or lip injections; these are also known as fat transfer procedures. Good candidates for fat transfer injections are those with areas of the face or body that could be improved by being significantly filled out in volume. Due to the natural composition of human fat cells, some doctors prefer to use liposuction fat over synthetic injection fillers.

Medical researchers routinely experiment with possible uses for liposuction fat in stem cell development. Adult human fat cells contain the same basic biological material as embryonic stem cells, and this matter can sometimes be extracted with certain microscopic tools. It can then be potentially be converted to healthy stem cells that can possibly be used to repair tissue damage from injuries or other physical defects.

Liposuction fat waste also has some potential as material for biodiesel fuel. Some scientists have succeeded in liquefying post-liposuction waste so that it can be used to fuel specialized biodiesel engines, although the average volume of fuel can be somewhat smaller than the original volume of the body fat waste. This use of removed lipo fat is generally experimental and can sometimes be subject to legal restriction in certain areas.

po thang...,

A House of Representatives stenographer was dragged off the floor during the vote to end the partial government shutdown and raise the U.S. debt ceiling after a bizarre protest in which she began ranting at members. The stenographer identified as Dianne Reidy, who went to the Speaker's Chair while the vote was in progress and began yelling about God and the government. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., banged the gavel to restore order several times, but did not deter Reidy,

According to Ros-Lehtinen, Reidy "came up to the podium area beneath where I was standing and asked me if the microphones were on. I said that I didn't know. I assumed that perhaps I was chatting too much to the helpful parliamentarians around me. Then she suddenly faced the front and said words like 'Thus spoke the Lord.' And, 'This is not the Lord's work.'

"I hammered to get control and hush her up. She said something about the devil. It was sudden, confusing and heartbreaking. She is normally a gentle soul."

Moments later, Reidy was heard to say that America was not one nation under God because Freemasons wrote the Constitution as Capitol Police officers put her into an elevator. The disruption appeared to rattle members of Congress already jumpy after two weeks of partisan invective over the partial government shutdown and Thursday's debt ceiling deadline.

Watch the portly, bald, bearded congress critter to the right of the ranter quickly waddle out of potential harms way...., 

the struggle is real...,

zerohedge | With a stunning 41% of global wealth in the hands of a mere 0.7% of the world's population, the lower- and middle-class continue to fight amongst themselves for the scraps to maintain a decent standard of living. In the US, with the home-equity ATM now closed (and maybe EBT interrupted), those struggling to make ends meet are turning to the only "asset" they have left that is unencumbered (for now) - their body parts. 

As Bloomberg reports, since the beginning of 2011, 'hair,' 'eggs,' or 'kidney' have been among the top four autofill results for the Google search query, 'I want to sell my...;' and "the fact that people even explore it indicates that there are still a lot of people worried about their financial outlook," as hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as ATMs for more and more cash-strapped Americans.
As one analyst noted,
“This is very much unlike every other recovery that we’ve had. It’s going to be a slow-grinding, very frustrating recovery.”
Which should come as no surprise given the massive wealth inequalities...