Thursday, April 17, 2014

No longer up for discussion, Edward Snowden is a traitor.

The other day Vladimir Putin did a televised propaganda outreach.

During the carefully manipulated session, there was a "surprise" caller.

Courtesy of NBC News:  

NSA leaker Edward Snowden put a direct question to Vladimir Putin during a live televised question-and-answer session Thursday, asking Russia's president about Moscow's use of mass surveillance on its citizens. 

Speaking via a video link, Snowden asked: "I've seen little public discussion of Russia's own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance, so I'd like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?" 

Putin replied by stating Russia did not carry out mass surveillance on its population, and that its intelligence operations were strictly regulated by court orders. 

"Mr Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy, I used to work for the intelligence service, we are going to talk one professional language," Putin said, according to translation by state-run broadcaster Russia Today. 

"Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law so...you have to get a court permission to stalk that particular person. 

"We don't have as much money as they have in the States and we don't have these technical devices that they have in the States. Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by society and the law and regulated by the law." 

He added: "Of course, we know that terrorists and criminals use technology so we have to use means to respond to these, but we don't have uncontrollable efforts like [in America]." 

One of the call-in program's hosts introduced Snowden's video message by saying: "We've got really sensational, really outrageous video message from a person who revolutionized the world by leaking information about American secret services."

So the Snowden has now completely transformed himself from a "reluctant whistle blower who felt compelled to reveal the NSA's data gathering techniques" to a propaganda tool for an ex-KGB agent turned Russian tyrant, who identified him directly "a former agent, a spy."

There is nothing to take from this except for the fact that Snowden did indeed provide Russia with the material that he took from is time working for Booz Allen Hamilton, and that now he is functioning as fully cooperating operative of the Putin administration.

One who is now allowing Putin to shrug off charges of being a despot by using the NSA scandal to provide cover for his actions, and to paint him as more sympathetic character, while blaming the Ukrainian situation on interference from President Obama. A tactic that is helped in no small way by John McCain and conservatives in this country. 

Earlier there had been speculation that the information Snowden provided Putin might have been what enabled Putin to slip Russian forces into Crimea undetected, and I think this is just one more piece of evidence which supports that contention.

I think for those who are still supporters of Edward Snowden there are some very serious, and very troubling questions you have to ask yourself.

Number one is was Snowden a Russian spy all along?

Sarah Palin and the politically terrorizing, horrid, up to no good, very bad for America week. Update!

So next week is going to be a balls to the wall, bring out your inflatable bawangas, make sure to wear your most photogenic road kill wig, week for Sarah Palin.

First she is headed out to Tulsa, Oklahoma with fellows Teabagging lunatics Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, to pimp for Senate candidate T.W. Shannon on the 24th.

As you know Oklahoma has been fighting to replace Florida and Texas as the official national redneck laughingstock, what with their Hobby Lobby Bible Study, and their proposed get shit faced and shoot'em up family activity center.

So for Oklahoma having this clown car show up will not even seem like an embarrassment.

Update: Here's one I missed. Palin will also be in Alabama on the 25th, giving a speech at the Baldwin Country Republican party annual dinner.

So now she is showing up at tiny political venues where there is NO national press coverage.

Interesting.


On Saturday, the 26th, Palin will appear at an NRA rally in Indiana, where she will undoubtedly dress like a two bit hooker and lick the barrel of a gun in order to inspire people politically to stand up for their rights to shoot people who look at them cross ways.


And on the 27th, Palin will make an appearance at something called the "Heels on, Gloves off" ShePAC rally in Iowa, where Palin will once again set back the woman's movement by at least 50 years. 

All of this is a clear indication that Palin is going for broke this election cycle and working her bony Red Bull fueled butt off to prove she is still politically relevant and hopefully trick a few more people into giving money to her PAC so she can stop having to actually do work-like things in order to make money and support her layabout family, buy more botox, and keep paying the hush money.

Of course a lot of that monetary support depends on Palin endorsing winning candidates, and her appearances seeming to actually help them emerge victorious in November.

A possibility that seems less likely than ever.

Americans increasingly trust Democrats with healthcare in this country.

Courtesy of Reuters:  

Americans increasingly think Democrats have a better plan for healthcare than Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after the White House announced that more people than expected had signed up for the "Obamacare" health plan. 

Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats' plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. This marks both an uptick in support for Democrats and a slide for Republicans since a similar poll in February. 

"In the last couple of weeks, as the exchanges hit their goals, news coverage has been more positive and the support of the Democratic Party on this issue has rebounded," said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson. 

"It's not that independents are moving their way, it's that Democrats who had previously been a little bit ambivalent in their support are coming back to the party," he said.

As if to drive the point home, Gallup has found that in states that embraced Obamacare, usually blue states, the rate of uninsured fell three times faster than in states which did not, all of which were red states:

The polling firm's data shows states that set up their own exchanges and expanded Medicaid had their uninsured rate fall by 2.5 percent, compared to a 0.8 percent drop in states that have opted out of at least one of the health law programs.

This of course should not come as much of a surprise to people who are not getting their news from conservative talk radio and Fox News. 

Does anybody else feel like this?

I swear I feel like this all of the time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Think you live in a democratic America? Think again.

Courtesy of Business Insider:  

The U.S. government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern universities has concluded. 

The report, "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (PDF), used extensive policy data collected between 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the U.S. political system. 

After sifting through nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile), and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the U.S. is dominated by its economic elite. 

The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence." 

Researchers concluded that U.S. government policies rarely align with the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying organizations: "When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it." 

Of course this accusation has been flying around for decades, but I think this is the first time that anybody launched a study which confirmed it.  

How to combat this is going to be incredibly challenging, and in the short run virtually impossible.

This realization does drive a number of grassroots organizations, but ultimately they have limited impact as the big money donors drive public policy in the directions that benefit them and their companies.

And of course all of this will now be exacerbated by the Citizens United and McClutchen Supreme Court decisions.

This does not bode well for the future of politics, or the future of this country, and it is definitely NOT what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

P.S. Before the Right Wing gets too excited about this, since they have been accusing President Obama of being an oligarch for years, they may want to pay attention to the fact that this study was based on data gathered from between 1981 and 2002.

You know, before the black guy made himself available to be blamed for everything.

Oklahoma gun range has plans to serve alcoholic beverages on site. Because nothing goes together quite like booze and bullets.

Courtesy of Fox 25:

A new Metro business, slated to open this spring, is taking the steps needed to serve liquor on-site. 

Owners say the state-of-the art indoor gun range will make history in Oklahoma, although across the country the concept is not new. 

At 40,000 square feet co-owner Jeff Swanson says Wilshire Gun will be a full-fledged destination. 

"As a group we wanted to build a place, the first one in Oklahoma, where you could go in, shoot, enjoy the retail area and then go to the cafĂ©," he said. 

The plan calls for 24 firearm lanes, 10 archery lanes, a simulation room, classrooms, and VIP Lounge. 

But it's the cafe that's raising some eyebrows. Swanson says they want to serve food and alcohol. 

"I've not seen a business that does the firearms that has a liquor license," said ABLE Commission spokesperson Capt. Brent Fairchild, "but it's possible that if they apply they could be the first one." 

But don't worry the new facility has a plan for keeping things safe.

Folks with the range insist it can be done safely. They say they're working with several ranges from California to Texas who have never had a problem. 

They just have to ensure folks shoot, then drink, and not the other way around.

Yes because reasoning with an armed drunk ALWAYS has a positive outcome. 

My father was a raging alcoholic, from a proud tradition of alcoholics, and even HE knew better than to mix alcohol and firearms.

I once saw the man take his quarter horse over a jump with a can of Old Milwaukee in his hand. Never spilled a drop.

But he did not take out his gun if he was under the influence of alcohol. And he was almost ALWAYS under the influence of alcohol. Some things were just too risky, even for an old cowboy.

Introducing alcohol into an environment with massive amounts of ammunition and multiple firearms seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

And according to a 2011 study there is already evidence that gun owners have a propensity toward alcohol abuse, so inviting a bunch of potential heavy drinkers into an environment which combines deadly weapons and  deadly force, seems akin to inviting pyromaniacs into a match and gasoline store.

Bible study course, created by Hobby Lobby president, will soon be taught in Oklahoma public schools.

Courtesy of Raw Story:

According to the Religious News Service, the “Museum of the Bible Curriculum” created by Hobby Lobby’s President Steve Green (pictured above) will be beta-tested in Oklahoma’s Mustang Public School district beginning in the Fall of 2014. 

Green hopes the program — which will be overseen by Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative — will be placed in “hundreds” of high schools by 2016, and “thousands” by 2017. It is a four-year elective course in which students will study the narrative, history, and impact of the Bible on Western Civilization. Because the book is being taught within an academic purview, it does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Abington School District v. Schempp. 

“Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible,” the Court decided, “when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

I actually agree with the judge up to a point.

An elective course that studies the impact of the Bible on Western civilization could be an interesting and informative class.

However since this is coming from the ultra religious Hobby Lobby people, it's goal is far more subversive than simple education about the impact of the book. 

“The goal is to show that the impact of this book, when we apply it to our lives, has been good, because it has. So it’s good, and it’s true,” Green said, before moving on to discuss the other section of the curriculum, which would be “the story of the Bible.” 

“We’re as ignorant [as] we’ve ever been, would be my argument,” Green said, “because we aren’t teaching it in our schools.” 

“That would be the goal,” he continued, “to reintroduce this book to this nation, because it is in danger, because of its ignorance, of what God has taught. There is [sic] lessons of the past that we can learn from the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it, and if we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”

Green also labeled the Bible a "reliable historical document" which is far from the truth as you can get.

In my opinion, if this course is offered in Oklahoma public schools then it opens up the door for a course about Islam, in which the Koran is describes as a "reliable historic document."

Or a course about Sikhism where the Adi Granth is taught as a "reliable historic document."

Or perhaps an elective course that studied the Vedas as a "reliable historic document."

Each and every one of them deserve the same consideration in an academic environment, unless it can be proven, scientifically, that one book is more reliable than another.

And THAT should be the test before this course is introduced into the Oklahoma public school classrooms.

Michael Bloomberg to donate 50 million dollars to start his own anti-NRA movement.

Courtesy of The New York Times:  

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association. 

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own. 

“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ” 

He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”

This is good news for all of those who thought that gun control legislation was a non-starter after  the last attempt was blocked in the Senate.

Bloomberg is right that the only way to combat the NRA is to outspend them, out lobby them, and out threaten them.

If politicians find themselves facing a lobby as aggressive as the NRA they might just be willing to start making the hard choices, by creating gun legislation that makes sense and preserves constitutional rights, while protecting American lives from gun nuts and the mentally deranged.

I think it is well past time for politicians to stop fearing the NRA, and start fearing the people victimized by the NRA.

Who would Jesus rape? Leading Quiverfull advocate used his influence to groom teenage girl into his "personal sex object."

Courtesy of Raw Story: 

A leading advocate of the patriarchal Quiverfull movement groomed a teenage girl as his “personal sex object” and then used the purity culture to shame her into silence, according to a lawsuit filed by his victim. 

Douglas Phillips resigned last year from Vision Forum and Vision Forum Ministries over what he described at the time as an extramarital affair. 

But the lawsuit, reported by Right Wing Watch, revealed more details about this relationship and the ways that women are treated in the Quiverfull movement – which has been popularized by the prolific Duggar family and their TLC reality show, 19 Kids and Counting. 

Attorneys claim Phillips, a close friend to the Duggar family and an associate of actor Kirk Cameron, “methodically groomed” Lourdes Torres since she was 15 years old and led her to believe they would be married. 

Phillips told the girl this was possible because his wife, Beall Phillips, “was going to die soon.”

Philips manipulated her into sexual situations with him, while at the same time telling her that her submission to his desires made her "damaged goods."  

The suit claims Phillips repeatedly groped and touched Torres inappropriately and masturbated on her, “against her wishes and over her objections,” over a period of years. 

“While Ms. Torres would have felt compelled to submit to Douglas Phillips, the purity culture would have meant at the same time, her submission made her ‘damaged goods’ in her eyes, the eyes of her family, and her community — raising the cost for her to come forward to call him to account,” the suit claims. “She was, in fact, in a ‘no-win’ situation.” 

He also assured her that he had done nothing wrong, and their sexual encounters were not wrong, the suit claims, but he also said that if their relationship was indeed wrong, “it was completely her fault.”

This guy is a sick POS who garnered control over this young girl, and probably others, by using religion and the fact that the Quiverfull movement demands that women remain submissive to men.

This is why these assholes do not want their children in public schools, where school nurses might pick up signs of abuse, and where they will learn to question authority and think for themselves.

Did you see the blood moon the other night? Do you know whose fault it is? Well according to the Right Wing, Obama's of course.

Courtesy of Right Wing Watch:  

WorldNetDaily manages to fit criticism of President Obama into nearly everything it publishes, including its story on Monday’s lunar eclipse. 

Citing the president's comments from January — “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone” — about using executive orders and executive actions in the face of congressional obstruction, right-wing pastor Mark Biltz told WND today that the “blood moon” is a divine warning to Obama that God has “more than a pen and a phone in his hand.” 

“In the book of Joel it mentions three times about the sun and the moon going dark and in context it also mentions Divine wrath against all countries that want to divide or part the land of Israel,” Biltz said, touching on a frequent Religious Right claim that Obama administration efforts to broker a Mideast peace deal will lead to divine punishment. 

You know I am supposed to make some kind of smart ass comment right about here, but I literally don't have anything to add.

The idea that there is an omnipotent being in the sky that creates indecipherable celestial warnings to direct the actions of human beings is so ridiculous that it makes my head ache. 

I mean seriously WTF? It is simply the sun reflecting off of the earth, not a sign for Armageddon.

Oh wait, I stand corrected.

Five year old accidentally shoots two children, killing one, after mistaking a real gun for a toy gun.

Courtesy of ABC Columbia:  

Lexington County deputies say a 5-year old accidentally shot and killed a 7-year old and injured a 5-year old at a birthday party in Gaston Saturday. 

Investigators say the child accidentally grabbed a loaded rifle when he was looking to grab a toy gun stored in the trunk of a car. 

Deputies say the bullet struck the 7 year old girl in the chest and a 5 year old boy on the arm.

Investigators are not sure if anybody will be charged or not, you know because accidents happen.

Of course accidents like this happen only in places where people believe that owning a gun is a God given right, and where children's toys are modeled after deadly weapons.

After all the only difference between a child's toy gun in America and an adult's gun toy in America, is that one only LOOKS dangerous.