Friday, November 22, 2013

Saturday Satire: Who Cares Edition

Jay Leno: "Toronto's city council has voted to drastically reduce Mayor Rob Ford's powers. They say this reduces him to a 'mere figurehead' – which still sounds better than 'crackhead.'"
"To make matters worse for Mayor Ford, his reality show was canceled after one airing. They are calling this guy the most embarrassing Ford since the Pinto."
"Thanksgiving is right around the corner. As you know, the traditional Thanksgiving began in 1621 when Native Americans sat down with a bunch of undocumented pilgrims. They had dinner and the pilgrims never left."
Jimmy Fallon: "Obama and other Democrats have even stopped using the term 'Obamacare,' when referring to the new healthcare law. Yeah, now they're calling it 'The Affordable Care Act.' Americans were like, 'Just let us know when you can call it 'fixed.'"
Conan O'Brien: "Members of the tea party gathered outside the White House to demand President Obama's impeachment. The president said he appreciated their views and he is setting up a new website where they can voice their opinion."
"Obama is wrestling with the healthcare rollout debacle. He urged Americans not to be put off by the Obamacare website and offered alternative ways to enroll, such as using the mail. Then the president got on his horse and rode off to spread the news to the next town."–Conan O'Brien

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A brief history of God in the United States of America

  By  ObamOcala on Wed Nov 20, 2013

This past week, conservatives found yet another reason to condemn President Barack Obama as "un-American." The Muslim Kenyan Socialist showed his true colors, they said, by omitting the words "under God" from a video reading of the Gettysburg Address.

Of course, the line of attack is silly. President Obama was reading from an original draft of the speech penned by Lincoln himself. Of the five existing contemporary written versions of the speech, three contain the phrase "under God." All three of those drafts were prepared after Nov. 19, 1863, the day Lincoln delivered the speech.

Newspaper transcriptions of the day - which, because of the vaguries of telegraph service, often varied in wording - do all seem to agree that Lincoln added the words "under God," extemporaneously it seems, when he gave the speech, which is why the phrase appears in subsequent drafts, but not in copies written beforehand.

Should Ken Burns, who prepared the video, have considered the possibility of controversy when he selected that particular passage to feature President Obama, given the skepticism on the far right of the president's religious beliefs? Perhaps. Then again, it's my opinion that Barack Obama could conclude every sentence of every speech with a reference to the Christian God, and it still wouldn't satisfy the religious right. Their motivation is less about religion than it is about portraying President Obama as "the other," and therefore hostile to the nation he leads.

But the controversy did get me thinking - what, exactly, is God's relationship to the United States, and our relationship to God? I knew in rough form how the church-state relationship has evolved in this country, but I didn't know some of the details. And I'm fascinated by what I've learned. I'll share my newfound (and prior) knowledge below the sacred symbol of the Orange Sect of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

One thing I knew about the founding fathers is that many of them were deists, but I confess I had only a vague notion of what that meant. I've since learned that deism grew out of The Age of Enlightenment, and that it's adherents, while they accepted the existence of a deity, were highly skeptical of organized religion, miracles and the notion that a god intervened directly in the lives of individuals.

The deist philosophy permeates both The Declaration of Indepence (in its brief references to God) and the Constitution (in its lack of same).

Consider the Declaration (emphasis added):

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...

It's hard to imagine a modern-day evangelical Christian putting "the Laws of Nature" ahead of God, or, for that matter, referring to God as "Nature's God." And in the second paragraph, the authors of the Declaration abandoned references to God altogether, preferring instead to speak of a "Creator." Those phrases are directly out of the deist playbook.

The Constitution, meanwhile, purposefully omits any mention of God whatsoever. Organized religion, however, is mentioned - prominently - in the Bill of Rights ... at the very top of the Bill of Rights, in fact. We all know the words:

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

It's no accident that the so-called "Establishment Clause" tops the list. Ironically, it was the concerns of Protestants, primarily Baptists, which led to its inclusion. Throughout the Colonial Period, the Church of England was the official church of Virginia, and members of other religions, especially Jews and Protestants, were frequently the targets of religious persecution.

To address the concerns of members of those religious groups, Thomas Jefferson - a member of the Virginia General Assembly - introduced the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which would dis-establish the Church of England, in the assembly in 1779. It was finally passed in 1786, with help from James Madison. To further quell the concerns of members of minority religions - and to gain their support over anti-federalists competing with them for seats at the ratifying convention - Madison and fellow federalist James Gordon, Jr. promised to propose language prohibiting the establishment of an official federal religion as an amendment to the Constitution. And so the Establishment Clause came to pass.

Modern-day Fundamentalist Christian revisionists like David Barton now argue that the Establishment Clause was not intended to separate religion and government completely. To back up their claim, they point out that the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution, and wasn't mentioned until a Supreme Court ruling in 1878 (some argue it didn't appear until rulings in the late 20th Century).

That's not true. The phrase was first coined by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury (Conneciticut) Baptist association on Jan. 1, 1802 (emphasis added):

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."

Madison also used the phrase on at least one occasion. It seems clear from their own writings what the framers of the First Amendment intended in regards to the entanglement of religion and politics.

The only other mention of organized religion in the Constitution comes in Article VI, paragraph 3, and further amplifies where the founders stood on the subject (emphasis added):

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

The United States' official position as a secular nation was further affirmed by another founding father, John Adams, during his presidency. Privateers in the service of the Barbary nations - Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli and Tunis - were taking American ships in the Meditteranean and holding their crews for ransom or selling them into slavery. At one point, it was feared (wrongly) that Benjamin Franklin had been captured by the Barbary pirates.

The fledgling United States didn't have a strong enough navy to project sufficient power into the Med to stop the privateers, so the federal government negotiated treaties with each of the four nations, promising annual payments in exchange for safe passage for American ships. Article 11 of the treaty with the Pasha of Tripoli contained these words:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims] — and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The Treaty of Tripoli was unanimously ratified by the Senate on June 7, 1797, and signed by Adams.

By the early 1800s, deism was beginning to fade. The next appearance of God in our national life came during the War of 1812, when an attorney and amateur poet named Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. He was inspired to put pen to paper and write a poem, the first stanza of which is well-known by anyone who has ever attended a sporting event, or watched one on TV:

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Those words were, of course, later put to music and adopted as our national anthem. But the poem actually went on for three more stanzas, the last of which reads:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Wow - who took God out of the national anthem? Oh, wait ...

Key not withstanding, it would be 50 years before a modified version of the phrase "In God is our trust" came to the fore in our national life. The United States Congress, eager to imply that God was on the side of the Union in the American Civil War, mandated in 1864 that some United States coins include the phrase "In God We Trust." But the appearance of the motto on our coinage was not uniform or continuous, and came and went on various coins throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1907, another pious Congress was pushing to add the phrase to the $20 coin. President Theodore Roosevelt (a Republican and Dutch Reformed Christian who sometimes attended church with his wife, an Episcopalian) vehemently opposed the move:

“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege…”

It was not until 1938 that "In God We Trust" began appearing on all U.S. coins.

As for that other famous expression of American religiosity, "One nation, under God," not only was it never stated as a founding principle, it hardly made an appearance at all until the mid 20th Century. In my admittedly limited research, I've found no mention of such a phrase before the turn of the last century, other than Lincoln's extemporaneous and gratuitous inclusion of it in the Gettysburg Address.

It certainly wasn't in the original Pledge of Allegiance, penned in 1892 by socialist (ah, the irony) minister Francis Bellamy. His version read, simply:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Revisions in 1923 (adding "to" before "the republic"), 1923 (changing "my Flag" to "the Flag of the United States") and 1924 (adding "of America" to "the Flag of the United States") still failed to make any room for God, and somehow the republic survived.

In fact, it wasn't until the 1950s that God achieved His current level of entrenchment in our national life. The Cold War was in full swing, and many attacked the Soviet Union not for being a totalitarian state, but for its institutionalized atheism. This was the era of "Godless Commies," and American politicians were eager to show their piety to differentiate themselves from their Soviet counterparts.

It was during this period that God was enshrined on our currency and in the pledge. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, had added "one nation, under God" to the pledge on their own, and instigated a grassroots effort to make the change official. Congress obliged in 1954. Then in 1956, Congress found another way to insinuate religion into our lives by dumping the nation's unofficial motto - E pluribus unum, or "Out of Many, One" - making "In God We Trust" our official motto, and mandating that the new phrase be placed on all U.S. currency (1957 marked the first time the phrase began appearing on our paper money for the first time).

So there you have it. Our nation is 237 years old, but only for the last 60 of those years has God been officially enshrined in our national life. And to avoid conflict with the Establishment Clause, our nation's god is of necessity a pretty weak and generic one.

In fact, those Christians who continue to offer up having "one nation, under God" in our pledge and "In God We Trust" on our currency as proof that we are a "Christian nation" don't have a leg to stand on. In a 2004 Pledge of Allegiance case, Elk Grove Unified School District vs. Newdow, a majority on the Supreme Court ruled that the inclusion of "one nation, under God" was permissible under the Establishment Clause because it has become an act of "ceremonial deism." Writing her own opinion but concurring with the majority, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote:

"Whatever the sectarian ends its authors may have had in mind, our continued repetition of the reference to 'one Nation under God' in an exclusively patriotic context has shaped the cultural significance of that phrase to conform to that context. Any religious freight the words may have been meant to carry originally has long since been lost."

And that about wraps it up for God - or at least for the fundamentalist Christian version of Him.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Speaking Republican

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

From Addicting Info    Author: Elisabeth Parker

When their words don’t mean what you think they mean — which is most of the time — this guide to speaking Republican comes in handy! — Photo collage by Elisabeth Parker for Addicting Info, with apologies to the “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series. Photo of boy with gun from the Huffington Post.

How can you fight back against conservatives and their backward policies when nothing they say ever makes any sense whatsoever? When their words never seem to mean what you think they mean — which is most of the time — this guide to speaking Republican comes in handy. After all, as the famous Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu famously wrote in his book, “The Art of War,” “So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.”

Here are just a few of the many rave reviews for our “Complete Idiot’s Guide To Speaking Republican.”

  • “This helpful guide to speaking Republican really comes in handy – I wish I’d read it back in 2008, because my whole term would’ve turned out differently.” – President Barack Obama.
  • “Dang! No wonder I can never understand a word they’re saying!” – James Carville, Democratic strategist.
  • “Great book — hugely helpful. Now, when did you last take a Wall Street bank to trial?” – Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
  • “I’ve forged a career and company based on the idea that anyone can learn to speak any language … but until I read this guide to speaking Republican, nothing they said ever made any sense to me.” – Eugene Stoltzfus, linguist and Rosetta Stone founder.

Read for yourself to discover what Republicans are really saying the next time you hear one of their bizarre phrases on Fox News.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Speaking Republican

- Numbers -

  • 9-11: Justification for torture and preemptive warfare abroad; and for domestic racial profiling and invasive security precautions at airports.
  • 420: Another step down the slippery slope of drug legalization from California, the land of fruits and nuts.

- A -

  • Abortion: Something far more immoral and tragic than the Death Penalty (see Death Penalty, Fetus, Pro-Life).
  • Affirmative Action: The soft bigotry of low expectations. Unfair hiring and college acceptance practices resulting from institutionalized discrimination against white men.
  • Activist Judges: Liberal or centrist state and federal judges whose decisions support civil rights, reproductive choice, consumer rights, and corporate accountability. The term does not apply to conservative judges whose decisions undermine civil rights, reproductive choice, consumer rights, and corporate accountability.
  • American: The awesomest and the best (see Real American).
  • Anchor Babies: Children whelped out by pregnant illegal immigrants who sneak across the border in droves to steal citizenship and free medical care for their brown demon-spawn, who will grow up and vote Democratic.
  • Anti-Business: Anything requiring accountability, transparency, fair wages, consumer rights, non-discrimination in hiring/promoting, and/or environmentally responsible business practices.
  • Ayn Rand: That’s “Ayn,” which rhymes with “mine.”

- B -

  • Bible: The infallible word of God, who said everything He wanted to say to a bunch of bearded misogynist warlords in flowing robes thousands of years ago, then sent His son Jesus Christ to take it all back, and hasn’t been heard from since. Which is why we need right-wing zealots to tell us what God really meant. For example, it’s still okay to hate gays, but we don’t get to stone women to death for being harlots … yet (see God, Jesus Christ).
  • Bible-Based: A belief system that makes selective use of biblical texts to deny climate change, evolution, marriage equality, and equality for women.
  • Big Government: All government functions that go beyond invading other countries and putting people of color in prison.
  • Bigotry: (See Affirmative Action).
  • Bipartisanship: Something Democrats are refusing to practice when Republicans try to shut down the Government or force legislation the American public does not want.
  • Black and Brown people: Second class citizens (see Gay People, God, Legal Immigrants, Native Americans, Real Americans, Women).
  • Business: Everything that’s good about the United States of America. Unlike “Big Government,” businesses are extremely efficient and cost-conscious due to decades of skimming billions off the top to enrich their top brass and shareholders (see Corporations).
  • Business-Friendly: Anything that does not require accountability, transparency, fair wages, consumer rights, non-discrimination in hiring/promoting, and/or environmentally responsible business practices (see Anti-Business).

- C -

  • China: A backward country with no minimum wage, safety and environmental regulations, civil rights, or workers’ rights … which the United States should start imitating as soon as possible. Not really Communist any more (see Business Friendly).
  • Choice: Freedom to choose amongst various crappy options you can’t afford.
  • Christian: An adherent to a religion named after Jesus Christ. Not to be confused with those who follow Jesus Christ’s teachings of love, tolerance, and caring for the less fortunate (see God, Jesus Christ).
  • Class Warfare: Working people asking for a living wage.
  • Climate Change: Global warming? What global warming?
  • Communism: A catch-all term for anything that promotes tolerance, fairness, transparency, or social justice. Has no relation to the actual theory and practice of communism.
  • Compassionate Conservatism: A term that makes a senselessly cruel and miserly philosophy seem palatable to people.
  • Confederate Flag: A symbol of Freedom … um … at least for some people. (see also, Freedom).
  • Corporations: They’re people, my friend (see Business, Free Markets).

- D -

  • Death Panels: Bureaucrats who will deny treatment to Sarah Palin’s grandparents and disabled child and send them out on an ice floe to die, when Obamacare takes effect (see Obamacare)
  • Death Penalty: Retroactive abortions performed after the 54th trimester, when a fetus turns 18.
  • Death Tax: A grave injustice committed against heirs to wealthy estates.
  • Deregulation: (See Business-Friendly, Free Markets, Privatize).
  • Discrimination: (See Affirmative Action).

- E -

  • Earned Benefits: (See Entitlements).
  • Edward Snowden: Communist traitor (see Communist, National Security, Traitor).
  • Efficient: The opposite of Big Government (see Business, Business-Friendly, Free Markets, Privatize).
  • Elitist: Reads above an 8th grade level.
  • Energy Exploration: Drilling for oil or mining coal in wildlife reserves and national parks.
  • Enhanced Interrogation: Because we all know how people provide useful and accurate information when tortured.
  • Entitlements: Stuff you aren’t entitled to, even though you pay for them with your taxes or financial contributions: Like earned benefits, food, housing, education, healthcare, and other ridiculous luxuries taken for granted in all the other modernized and wealthy — and some not-so-wealthy — nations (see Pensions).
  • Europe: (See Communism).
  • Ex-Gay: A reformed gay person with same-sex “urges” who prayed their gay away … because, of course, being gay is a perverse lifestyle choice (see Gay People).

- F -

  • Facts: Liberally-biased, doesn’t watch Fox News (see Fox News)
  • Family Values: In keeping with the values held by the authoritarian, dysfunctional families that warped conservatives’ minds to begin with. Not to be confused with values that actually support families.
  • Faith-Based Initiatives: Church-based charitable programs which would supposedly replace government-provided social programs … as long as recipients receive Jesus as their Savior, and as long as churchgoers keep on giving reliably.
  • Filibuster Reform: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s unconstitutional attempt to obstruct obstructionists from obstructing things.
  • Fetus: A cluster of cells cultishly worshipped by conservative Christians as representing the sanctity of life. Like cows in parts of India, fetuses must be treated with reverence and never harmed nor killed.
  • Fiscal Cliff: A non-existent precipice over which we’ll tumble if we don’t enact tax cuts for the wealthy and draconian austerity measures for the rest of us.
  • Founding Fathers: A bunch of guys who dressed like Tea Partiers, and loved Jesus and Freedom.
  • Fox News: Fair and balanced reporting (see Facts, Liberal Bias, Reality-Based Community).
  • Freedom: The freedom to carry guns, discriminate against homosexuals and people of color, pay workers slave wages, treat women like chattel, and to bully people who aren’t like you.
  • Free Enterprise: (See Business-Friendly)
  • Freedom to Pray: Freedom to force Christianity on others with U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.
  • Free Markets: Socialized risk, privatized profits. (see Business, Freedom)

- G -

  • Gay People: ‘Soulless and destructive,’ according to Virginia’s GOP Attorney General and 2013 Gubernatorial candidate. Second-class citizens. As opposed to Real Americans (see Black and Brown People, God, Legal Immigrants, Native AmericansWomen).
  • George Zimmerman: Law abiding citizen, victim of racist hate crime (see Trayvon Martin).
  • Gerrymander: Something only Democrats ever do (see Voter Fraud).
  • Global Warming: (See Climate Change)
  • God: A mean, misogynistic, intolerant, war-mongering old white guy with flowing robes and unkempt facial hair who commanded us to hate women, gays, people of color, non-Christians, the poor, and pretty much everyone else except for men, boys, and fetuses (see Jesus Christ)
  • Government: (see Big Government).
  • Government Spending: Always bad, except when applied to prisons, and the military.

- H -

- I -

  • Illegal Immigrants: Brown people who live and work here, but are expected to not exist except when some rich anglo needs someone to prune their hedges on the cheap. Even worse-off than second-class citizens like Black and Brown People, Gay People, God, Legal Immigrants, Native Americans, and Women (see Real Americans).
  • ILLERATE: How the folks at Westboro Baptist Church spell “illiterate.”
  • Immoral: The opposite of being a Real American (See Affirmative Action, Anti-Business).
  • Intelligent Design: Unintelligent design.
  • Islam: (See Terrorist).
  • Israel: A nation ardently supported by conservative evangelicals, because the Rapture won’t happen until the Jews retake Jerusalem. After that, of course, Jews who don’t accept Jesus as their Savior will die horrible deaths and go to Hell. But we don’t need to tell them that.

- J -

  • Jesus Christ: The son of God, who sacrificed himself in a brutal and drawn-out manner just to save the sorry, self-righteous, cheating, and hypocritical asses of jerks like Newt Gingrich and Mark Sanford (see Christians, God).
  • Job: Something people complaining about unemployment need to go out and get, whether or not any actually exist.
  • Job Creators: The 1% who stash money in off-shore tax havens instead of making investments that create jobs.
  • Job Killing: Holding businesses accountable, taxing wealthy people at the rate everyone else pays on their earnings.

- K -

  • K-Street: Where disgraced GOP politicians eventually go to make a living.
  • Keystone Pipeline: Energy independence and jobs. Well, okay, so we won’t actually be using any of that oil and there won’t really be any jobs either … unless temporary contract work for cleaning up oil spills counts as a job.

- L -

  • Lamestream Media: Anything that isn’t Fox News.
  • Legal Immigrants: Second-class citizens, especially if you’re Asian, Middle-Eastern, Latino, or African. (see Black and Brown People, Gay People, God, Native Americans, Real Americans, Women).
  • Less Government: (See Business-Friendly, Free Markets, Privatize)
  • Liberal: Evil.
  • Liberal Bias: Most facts have this.
  • Liberty: (See Freedom).
  • Limousine Liberals: Wealthy socialists who think that just because they enjoy giving their money away to worthless moochers, everyone else should, too (see Elitists).
  • Looters: A term borrowed from “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, to anyone who believes people have a right to fair wages, public services, and a social safety net.
  • Low Information Voter: (See Fox News).

- M -

  • Mainstream Media: (See Lamestream Media).
  • Martin, Trayvon: (See Trayvon Martin).
  • Marxism: (See Communism).
  • Middle East (See Oil, Terrorists).
  • Military: Not really part of big government or government spending (see Big Government, Government Spending).
  • Mining: (See Healthy Forests).
  • Moderate: (See Liberal)
  • Moochers: (see Looters)
  • Moral: Cheating on spouses, embezzling cash, scamming supporters, abusing prescription drugs, and soliciting young boys for gay sex, as exemplified by the behavior of conservative leaders.
  • Muslim: People from countries that treat women as badly as American conservatives wish they could treat women (see Terrorists).

- N -

  • National Interests: (See Oil).
  • National Rifle Association (NRA): America’s foremost defender of Americans’ non-existent “Second Amendment Rights” to bear arms assault rifles (see Founding Fathers, Freedom).
  • National Security: Justification for all evils committed domestically or abroad.
  • National Security Administration: (See above).
  • Native Americans: Second-class citizens (see Black and Brown People, Gay People, God, Legal Immigrants, Real Americans, Women).
  • Nazis: Anyone who doesn’t agree with conservatives’ interpretation of the constitution.

- O -

  • Obama: Osama Bin Laden
  • Obamacare: The camel’s nose under the tent for single-payer, socialized medicine, which — to Republicans — is a BAD thing (See Communism, Death Panels).
  • Oil: Must be extracted and protected regardless of environmental, financial, and human costs.
  • Oil Drilling: (See Healthy Forests).
  • Organic: Foods Real Americans don’t eat (see Communism, Elitist, Gay People, Liberal
  • Osama Bin Laden: (See Obama)

- P -

  • Pass: Something Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) won’t do to any legislation, unless it prevents people from voting or having abortions.
  • Pensions: Worker “entitlements” that they aren’t really entitled to — even though they paid for them — and which should be looted by corporations and Wall Street (see Entitlements).
  • Personal Responsibility: A facile justification for not helping anyone, because when bad things happen to people, it’s their own fault.
  • Poor: (See Looters).
  • Poverty: A condition that conveniently provides a cheap and docile labor force, and which can also be blamed on the sufferers themselves.
  • Privatize: Hand public resources over to profiteers, who will supposedly manage them more efficiently while charging us exorbitant rates for accessing them. (See Business, Freedom, Free Markets).
  • Pro Life: Pro-Fetus. Once you’re born, you’re on your own (see Abortion, Death Penalty, Fetus).
  • Pro-Business: Anti-union, anti-environment, anti-living wage, and pro-unelected government.

- Q -

  • Quorum Call: Not nearly as fun as a booty call.
  • Quotas: The soft bigotry of the low expectations we have for minorities and low-income folks.

- R -

  • Racism: (See Affirmative Action).
  • Rape: The only way God intended for unmarried women to have sex.
  • Rape Kit: “Cleans you out” so you won’t get pregnant or diseased after being raped, according to Texas Republican State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg.
  • Rape Victim: She asked for it (see Trayvon Martin).
  • Rapture: An event preceding the end-times when all believers are bodily taken from earth into heaven by God, before the ravages of Armageddon begin. Seriously, I’m not making this up.
  • Real American: White, native English-speaking, heterosexual, and not some goddam liberal hippie.
  • Reality-Based Community: A frame of mind inhabited by Godless Liberals (see Liberal Bias, Facts).
  • Reform: Rolling back reforms.
  • Right to Work: The right to work for low pay and no benefits, and to get fired or discriminated against for no particular reason.
  • Religious Freedom: The right to worship Jesus and force others to worship Jesus (see Christian, God, Jesus Christ).
  • RINO: Acronym for “Republican In Name Only” – meaning a moderate, non-Tea Party Republican.
  • Russia: (See Communism).

- S -

  • School Choice: Vouchers for bible-based schools or home-schooling. Or the freedom to choose between crumbling and underfunded schools, inferior for-profit charter schools, or private schools you can’t afford (see Choice).
  • Stars and Bars: (See Confederate Flag)
  • School Choice: Undermining public schools with vouchers for Bible-based education (See Bible-Based).
  • Second Amendment Rights: The total whack-job’s constitutional right to carry assault rifles and stockpile weapons in their underground, barbed wire-covered bunkers (See “National Rifle Association”).
  • Snowden, Edward: (See Edward Snowden)
  • Socialist: Anything to the left of Rush Limbaugh (see Communism)
  • Stand Your Ground: The right to shoot anyone on sight who seems like a threat (see George Zimmerman, Real American, Trayvon Martin).
  • States Rights: The right of Republican state governors to deny civil rights, unemployment insurance, and health coverage to their citizens (See Freedom).

- T -

  • Tea Party: Nutcases in pseudo-colonial clothing who think they’re a grassroots movement, but are actually funded by evil rich people like the Koch brothers (See Founding Fathers).
  • Terrorists: (See Muslim)
  • Tort Reform: Preventing people from seeking legal restitution and compensation for corporate abuses (but suing the US government is encouraged).
  • Traitor: Even worse than not being a real American (See Communism, Edward Snowden, Real American).
  • Trayvon Martin: He asked for it (see Rape Victim).

- U -

  • Un-American: Urban, non-white, multicultural, progressive, non-Christian, gay-friendly, educated, and/or tolerant.
  • Unfair: (See Anti-Business, Affirmative Action)

- V -

  • Very Poor: “Lucky Duckies” who get everything handed to them on a silver platter; People former presidential candidate Mitt Romney was “not concerned about.”
  • Victimization: Calling out conservatives when they — or organizations they support — victimize people.
  • Voter Fraud: Voting for Democrats.
  • Voter ID: People should be required to have an ID in order to vote, because if you’re lame enough to not have any photo ID, then you’ll probably vote Democratic.

- W -

  • War on Christmas: Publicly acknowledging the existence of other (non-Christian) winter holidays besides Christmas.
  • Welfare State: A horrible state of dependency that occurs when we have any social safety net provisions or public services whatsoever.
  • Welfare Queens: Tramps who keep having children out-of-wedlock so they can collect huge welfare checks to buy gas for their huge pink Cadillacs.
  • Whistle-Blower: Not a Real American (see Traitor).
  • Women: Second class citizens (see Black and Brown People, Gay People, God, Legal Immigrants, Native Americans, Real Americans).

- X -

  • Xenophobic: An apt description for many conservatives, although few of them would admit it.

- Y -

  • Yellow Journalism: Any news reporting that makes conservatives look bad. The opposite of Fox News‘ ‘fair and balanced’ reporting.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Destroy Obama Care" Cyber Attacks on Revealed

Destroy Obama Care.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that there has been a number of right wing cyber attacks on the site. 

It seems that there has been a concerted effort on several fronts in an all out Republican led war to kill and destroy the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

One has to ask if this war on Obamacare has been an intentional and coordinated effort.

Republican lawmakers have voted 47 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas-far right) and his Republican colleagues shut the government down in an effort to de-fund Obamacare. And now we have learned that a group of cyber hacks have attacked the site, making it inaccessible to millions of potential users.

We have also learned that the insurance companies have played their role in the grand sabotage by deceiving their customers about Obamacare.  Instead of informing clients about their healthcare insurance options on the exchanges, the insurance sharks tricked customers into buying more expensive policies. Of course the sharks blamed their evil doing con artistry on Obamacare.

There seems to be a lot of potential criminal acts involved in this very sick and twisted war against uninsured Americans.

One would think there is a whole lot of explaining to do.

This time it won't be coming from the President.

Roberta Stempfley highlighted one successful attack that is designed to deny access to the website called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack is designed to make a network unavailable to intended users, generally through a concerted effort to disrupt service such as repeatedly accessing the servers, saturating them with more traffic than the website is designed to handle.

Right wingers have been distributing the link to the necessary tools to perform the attacks on the website through social networking, as pointed out by Information Week, and other websites .

The name of the attack tool is called, "Destroy Obama Care!"

Meanwhile, Obamacare is humming along in the states that set up its own exchanges.

Cross posted on Texas Kaos.  Please join me under the orange croissant. 

Despite the fact that there have been sixteen cyber attacks to the site and a Republican led relentless smear campaign against Obamacare, the program is already a success in some states.  These states are the ones that set up their own insurance exchanges.  Most if not all of these states have Democratic governors.  Not to mention the fact that federally expanded Medicaid enrollments are booming.

Despite an early bad start, the Health and Human Services Department reports that 26,876,527 separate individuals have visited, since the web-site opened on October 1, 2013. An additional 3,158,527 people have called the Affordable Care Act call center helpline, over the same period of time.
Fortunately none of the users' personal data was compromised by the hacking efforts. But one has to wonder about the Republican obsession with cyber attacks on subscribers' personal data records.  

Is it possible that the Destroy Obamacare Republicans have known about this cynical and potentially criminal cyber attack on the site all along? 

While the web-site did receive at least 16 major threat level hacking attempts, it appears that no data was compromised. According to officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, attempts to sabotage the new healthcare web-site did not have any significant effect on the system.

Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, on the other hand, has had some devastating effects. Those effects will be experienced by consumers living in states where republican governors refused to expand medicaid and rejected the provision to establish their own web-sites. In essence, when states refused to create their own web-sites, they placed a greater burden on the single site. The National Memo explains it like this: “By opting out, states made the success of the president’s signature legislative accomplishment dependent on one single portal that needed to reach its tentacles into three dozen complex insurance markets at one time.”

In doing this, Republicans not only sabotaged the President, but they made it more difficult for people who need healthcare to be able to access it. The effects were not merely accidental. Instead, they were deliberate and well planned. The original plot was hatched inside the Libertarian Cato Institute, by a man named Michael Cannon. Cannon, an adversary of the Affordable Care Act from the beginning, convinced republican officials that by refusing to create their own web-sites, they could bring the Affordable Care Act to a halt. And for a while, they did.

The Republican Party, of course, has no alternative to a program it has spent the last three and a half years trying to destroy.

Denying millions of Texans access to affordable care.

The situation for uninsured residents in Texas is especially grim. Many would qualify for federally expanded Medicaid, however, Rick Perry refuses to accept its benefits despite the fact that the state will lose $79 billion by rejecting it.

“These are not numbers. These are people,” said Rawlings, saying there are about 500,000 uninsured in Dallas County. “This is a serious issue we’ve all got to understand,” he said.
I am afraid Rick Perry, the Texas Republican Party and the Tea Party could care less about uninsured Texans.

Insurance sharks.  The need for insurance reform.

Meanwhile, leave it to the insurance companies to  deceive their customers about their healthcare options.  Some insurance companies have lied to their customers in an attempt to trick them into buying more expensive policies.  They blame the increased costs on Obamacare, of course.

Obamacare has set certain standards for the kinds of policies insurance companies could sell.  Prior to the ACA many insurance companies sold their clients junk policies.  These policies were fine if one did not get sick.  In many cases if one did get sick one would learn that their policies didn't cover much. Folks ended up paying a lot for little.  NPR interviewed a woman last week who learned her policy covered only $50.00 when she fell ill. 

Obamacare took the junk policies out of the market. 

But greedy cynics in the insurance industry could not resist ripping off some of its most vulnerable customers.

The way insurance companies tried to pull one over on their policy holders was to inform them that their policies would no longer be valid “because of ObamaCare,” and their plan will turn into a higher priced one, sometimes 10 times their old rate.  They conveniently left out, however, that they had other options and would be able to find a comparable priced policy on or a correspondent state exchange.

Even this is not the full story.

The way the insurance companies informed their policy holders of their canceled policy, was to tell them to do nothing, and their old plan would automatically transfer to the new plan.  This deceived many in to believing they had to stick with their insurance company.  Some governors, I’m looking at you Rick Scott, required insurance companies that were canceling their plans to blame ObamaCare, even if that was not the reason at all.

How Blue Cross stuck it to their customers.

“Blue Cross successfully enticed tens of thousands of its individual policyholders to switch out of their grandfathered health plans and forever lose their protected grandfathered status,” states the lawsuit. “Blue Cross concealed information about the consequences of switching plans and intentionally misled its policyholders to encourage the replacement of grandfathered policies.”

As we know many liberal Democrats like me were never completely satisfied with Obamacare.  It is in essence a conservative plan.  The Heritage Foundation designed the program. It became what we now know as Romneycare in MA. In turn, Romneycare  became a blue print for Obamacare.

Democrats pushed hard for a public option but it fell by the wayside during the difficult negotiations with Republicans in 2009.

But for all of its flaws, Obamacare is far better than the previous status quo.

The letters that are being sent out by insurance companies are not proof that ObamaCare is a failure.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  Insurance companies are going to be insurance companies, and these actions just prove the need for extensive insurance reform.  There are talks of allowing junk plans to still exist.  If this happens, who will pick up the tab when one of these policy holders develops cancer, gets in a car accident, or anything else life throws at us?
The Republican Party has spent years trying to kill a conservative healthcare plan that, though few Democrats love, we support it as a beginning of insurance reform in this country.  But as we have witnessed since the day the President was elected in 2008, Republicans cannot deal with change, even if change would help the vast majority of their constituents.
Conservatism, by definition, means resisting change, and it is the Right that is currently hold us back from taking care of every citizen in the country.  Sad, for a party that claims to love god and family so much.  Then again, when have we ever expected consistency from a Republican.
The solution?  Vote the most extreme right wing Republicans out of office.  Elect good Democrats who will push for insurance reform and Medicare for all. Demand an investigation of the hackactivists who tried to deny access to for millions of Americans. Elect a democratic majority to the U.S. House so Nancy Pelosi can investigate the Obama Care Destroy Republican plotters, schemers, manipulators and enablers.

How do we get there?  Please join us at Battleground Texas.  Register voters. Join with us to make phone calls on behalf of Wendy Davis and other Democratic candidates who are running for office in Texas. Help us by informing our neighbors about Obamacare.  If you can do none of the above, a donation would be appreciated.  None is too small.  One can donate to BGTX or directly to Wendy Davis.

In the meantime we will identify Democratic precinct chairs and judges in our state's cities, towns, suburbs and villages. 

It all comes down to elections and the vote.

Originally posted to Libby Shaw on Sun Nov 17, 2013