A Rich Fantasy Life

From Truthout: http://www.truth-out.org/a-rich-fantasy-life67572

Wednesday 09 February 2011

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

I know I should be immune to this by now, but I still find myself awestruck by the incredibly detailed, insulated fantasy world that the American conservative “movement” has created for themselves. No lie is too big to be told, no fact is too firm to be bent around ideology, no myth is too absurd to defend to the knife. The ability to spew deliberate nonsense into the credulous ears of Fox-watching right-bent voters – and to be utterly without shame while doing it – is the core of this “movement’s” political muscle, and has been for a number of decades now.

Take, for example, this past weekend’s festival of Reagan. The late president’s 100th birthday opened the floodgates for an ocean of nonsense to be dumped on the American people. He was a great leader, the conservative’s conservative, a small-government hero who deserves a place on Mt. Rushmore.

Really?

Ronald Reagan’s “supply side” economic model was the gateway drug that led inexorably to the collapse of the American economy two years ago, and yet his conservative acolytes – as well as far too many Democrats who should know better – still cling to that economic model as if it were holy writ.

Ronald Reagan raised taxes massively, and grew the federal government enormously, while sending the country spiraling into a morass of debt we are nowhere near recovering from, and yet his worshippers continue to tout him as the perfect “small government” man.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/a-rich-fantasy-life67572

License Plate That Would Require Me To Key the Car Displying It

The Sons of the Confederacy are a racist white power group that makes me want to puke.

They are showing their true colors not by requesting a plate honoring one of the famous generals of the War of Southern Treason but the founder of the KKK.

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/kkk-leader-honored-mississippi-license-plate/

Mississippi group proposes license plate to honor KKK leader

By David Edwards
Thursday, February 10th, 2011

African-American leaders have reacted with shock at a plan to feature an early Ku Klux Klan leader on Mississippi license plates.

The proposal by the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) asked that the state issue a series of license plates between now and 2015 to honor the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

A 2014 plate would feature Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who became an important leader of the Klan after the war.

Forrest was most known for directing a massacre of black Union soldiers who had already laid down their arms at Fort Pillow in April 1864.

“It is in connection with one of the most atrocious and cold-blooded massacres that ever disgraced civilized warfare that his name will for ever be inseparably associated,” according to an obituary published in The New York Times at his death in 1877.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/kkk-leader-honored-mississippi-license-plate/

 

The GOP Unleashes a Horrifying Attack on Women

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/149846/the_gop_unleashes_a_horrifying_attack_on_women/

The Republicans’ unprecedented attack on women’s bodies must be thrown back at them.

By Sarah Seltzer

February 8, 2011

Republicans came to D.C. “and immediately started putting the government in charge of every single pregnancy in America,” said Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night.

She’s right, and it’s horrifying: the blows to women’s rights keep coming out of Washington every hour, it seems. The latest? A bill that would strip Planned Parenthood of all funding. This bill is no surprise coming on the heels of a coordinated right-wing attack on Planned Parenthood and a spate of nasty undercover videos by discredited right-wing prankster Lila Rose. But it would do a lot of damage to a lot of women, explains Nick Baumann at Mother Jones:

“[It] will cut $327 million in family planning funding that goes to organizations like Planned Parenthood but that cannot be used to pay for abortions. This money, instead, is used to fund cancer screenings, birth control, and other health care services for poor people. The $327 million is the sum total of this sort of funding under current law. The House GOP is trying to zero out Planned Parenthood.”

Republicans’ twisted justification for cutting funds is that any money that goes to Planned Parenthood, even for cancer screenings, frees up the organization’s funds for abortion. But the pragmatic reality shows that cutting such funding would be devastating to women, ending the ability for many of them to prevent pregnancy at low cost and thereby potentially causing more abortions. Cuts that would deprive women of cancer screenings are unconscionable. Because Planned Parenthood treats sexually active women as human beings, it has become target #1.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/149846/the_gop_unleashes_a_horrifying_attack_on_women/

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Is It Time to End Religion as a Protected Category?

Lately, I have been reading all sorts of stories about how the ultra right wing extremist Republicans want to protect faith based bigotry, by passing laws that permit people to claim their hatred of LGBT/TQ people is the major tenet of their religion. These Christians claim dog or god or whatever requires them to practice discrimination and bigotry against LGBT/TQ people the same way their magic invisible sky daddy required them to keep people from Africa as slaves.

My question is:  Why should believing in some interpretation of a book of mythology confer special rights?  Particularly when other interpretations apparently do not.

Unlike other conditions which are categories protected by civil rights laws such as sex, race, age, sexuality and disability are all physical classifications.

Only religion is based on readily changeable beliefs.  People change their thinking on religious matters all the time.  I was raised Catholic, as a teenager I started to doubt the existence of a god, I became an atheist.  Others change from one cult to another, some Christians become Muslim, some Jews become Christian some Muslims become Christian.  People of all sorts of religious backgrounds change their belief structures all the time.

So why does claiming you are bigoted because your religion requires you to be homophobic or misogynistic merit special protecting?  Isn’t that something akin to claiming the bible justifies discrimination against people of color?  Or requires you to murder your own children due to their being disobedient.

In the name of religion these ultra right wing extremists are claiming that if they are not allowed to deny other groups of their fellow citizens the same rights they enjoy, then they are being discriminated against.

Since when did hatred and bigotry become grounds for claiming protected status under laws aimed at ensuring equality of rights and common decency?

What is particularly galling is that tax exempt organizations are not supposed to endorse candidates or engage in direct political activity.  When churches do so on the left they are investigated and have their tax exempt status challenged.

Since these religions are actually functioning as businesses, perhaps it is time to tax them as businesses.  Further why should some peddler of hokum from on high be exempt from consumer protection laws that insure the product being peddled has merit and isn’t an act of fraud?

Further why should religions be exempt from civil rights laws that are aimed at guaranteeing the equal rights of all Americans.

Further why should claiming belief in some ancient book of mythology and a cult based upon that mythology be permitted as an excuse to justify racism, homophobia or misogyny?  Particularly when such faith based bigotry has a history of leading to wars, genocide, slavery, oppression of the rights of minorities and ethnic cleansing.

Obama To Cut Energy Assistance For Poor; Kerry Urges Him To Reconsider

Maybe if liberals and progressives had gotten behind Kerry in 2004 we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today and wouldn’t be stuck with Obama, the DINO

By   Sam Stein

February 9, 2011

WASHINGTON — Reports that President Barack Obama’s upcoming budget will propose steep cuts in the government’s energy assistance fund for low-income Americans ricocheted quickly on Capitol Hill Wednesday, spurring some intraparty squabbling.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wrote a letter to Obama asking him not to drop funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by about $3 billion.

“I understand that difficult cuts have to be made,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote. “But in the middle of a brutal, even historic, New England winter, home heating assistance is more critical than ever to the health and welfare of millions of Americans, especially senior citizens. I request that the administration preserve LIHEAP funding at least to the Fiscal Year 2010 funding at $5.1 billion when it submits its FY12 budget proposal to Congress.”

The cuts, which were first reported by National Journal, appear to cut against the grain of previous administration policy. In 2010, Obama’s omnibus budget resolution assigned roughly $5 billion in LIHEAP grants for 2011. The rationale was that at a time of acute economic crisis and rising commodity prices, a little federal assistance to those in need was politically defensible.

With that in mind, the proposed cuts offered the appearance of a president abandoning principle in hopes of winning fiscal conservative plaudits. A source familiar with the budget process, however, offered several clarifications to Wednesday’s report. The cut, the source said, would be $2.5 billion in LIHEAP funding, not $3 billion. The proposed appropriation level will be $2.57 billion, which mirrors the Fiscal Year 2008 appropriation, not $2.8 billion.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/09/obama-poor-energy-cuts-kerry-letter_n_821061.html

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Condom Rule Sought for Sex-Film Sets

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/health/policy/10porn.html?_r=1&hp

By IAN LOVETT
February 9, 2011

LOS ANGELES — The clinic that for the last decade had monitored the health of those working in the multibillion-dollar pornography industry abruptly shut its doors in December.

Now Los Angeles has moved to fill that role.

Last week, city lawmakers voted unanimously to draft an ordinance that would require condoms to be used on the set of every pornographic movie made here.

The sudden closing of the clinic, coming after a performer tested positive for H.I.V., sent pornography actors to clinics around the San Fernando Valley, north of downtown, where the industry is based. And though the clinic recently reopened, its uncertain status again raised the question of who, if anyone, should be ensuring their safety.

“We can’t keep our heads in the sand any longer,” City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said. “These people should be using condoms. Period.”

The city law would be the first to impose safety standards specifically on the pornographic film industry, which has largely been allowed to police itself.

Until the late 1990s, the industry was unregulated. But after a string of actresses contracted H.I.V. and filed lawsuits against production companies, the industry created the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/health/policy/10porn.html?_r=1&hp

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Kansas House hears concerns on voter ID bill

From The Kansas City Star: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/09/2644814/kansas-house-hears-concerns-on.html

By DAVID KLEPPER
The Star’s Topeka correspondent
February 9,2011

TOPEKA | Stephanie Mott has an unusual problem with a proposal that would require Kansans to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote and a photo ID every Election Day.

Her birth certificate says “Steven,” but her driver’s license reads “Stephanie.”

The transsexual Topeka woman fears her vote could be declared invalid if the state adopts a stringent new voter ID law. “These are the kinds of things that cause people not to vote,” Mott told lawmakers considering the proposal Wednesday. “People like me would be left out.”

Mott was one of several Kansans who spoke out against Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s idea to require more identification at the polls. The NAACP, ACLU, National Organization for Women, League of Women Voters and advocates for the blind told lawmakers that, while a voter ID bill might root out a few illegally cast ballots, it could pose problems for many more legal voters.

“We should all be concerned about even a single illegal voter casting a vote; we should be even more concerned if even a single legal voter is disenfranchised,” said Kevin Myles, president of the Kansas State Conference of NAACP Branches.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/09/2644814/kansas-house-hears-concerns-on.html

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Ohio ‘heartbeat bill’ would ban most abortions

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/ohio-heartbeat-bill-ban-abortions/

By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Republican lawmakers in Ohio unveiled legislation Wednesday that would ban abortions of any fetus found to have a heartbeat, a move that could ban most abortions in the state.

Under legislation sponsored by State Representative Lynn Wachtmann, doctors would be forbidden from performing an abortion the moment a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. Fetuses generally develop a heartbeat within six weeks of conception, and in some pregnant women a heartbeat can be detected within 18 days.

The Youngstown Vindicator describes the bill as “the most restrictive abortion ban in the country” and potentially “a precedent for other states eyeing comparable restrictions.”

Robyn Marty at Alternet reports that the “heartbeat bill” amounts to an almost total ban on abortion.

For most women, [the law] would provide a window of two weeks or less in order to learn she was pregnant, make her decision about the pregnancy, arrange for an appointment, gather money for an abortion, obtain the mandatory counseling and sit through the required 24 hour waiting period. For a woman with irregular menstrual cycles, by the time she realizes she is pregnant it likely would already be too late to do anything but continue the pregnancy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/ohio-heartbeat-bill-ban-abortions/

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Human Rights Act to shield transgender, transsexual Canadians from persecution

From The Vancouver Sun:  http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Human+Rights+shield+transgender+transsexual+Canadians+from+persecution/4254376/story.html

From Amy Minsky, Postmedia News

February 9, 2011

OTTAWA — The House of Commons passed a bill Wednesday that will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to protect transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination.

“It’s a great day,” said the bill’s author, NDP MP Bill Siksay. “It’s been in the works for six years, and it’s great to see people from all parties supporting the bill. This is not a partisan issue, it’s a human rights issue.”

When all heads were counted, 143 MPs voted for Bill C-389 and 135 voted against.

The amendments proposed in the bill prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression through adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canada Human Rights Act, and through adding transgender and transsexual Canadians as identifiable groups in the Criminal Code’s hate crimes law.

The term ‘gender expression’ refers to an individual’s outward expression of their inward sense of gender, Siksay said.

A majority of Conservative members voted against the bill, prompting opposition members to applaud Tory ministers and members Lawrence Cannon, Lisa Raitt, John Baird, John Moore, Shelly Glover and Gerald Keddy when they rose to their feet to support the bill.

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