The Watering Hole, Monday, September 19th. 2016: The Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment refers to a change in the U.S. tax code made in 1954 which prohibited certain tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates upon this prohibition as follows:

[4] Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

The Internal Revenue Service provides resources to exempt organizations and the public to help them understand the prohibition. As part of its examination program, the IRS also monitors whether organizations are complying with the prohibition.

[4] “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations”. Irs.gov. 2012-08-14. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-09.

Keeping this in mind, let’s turn to the main “Politics” page of The Christian Post. I noticed two articles there regarding the tax-exempt status of certain religious organizations. However, since one of them purports to prove through Biblical scriptures that churches are supposed to get involved in politics – “Preaching on Politics Is Biblical”, By Rev. Mark H. Creech: “To argue that pastors should avoid all politicking and just stick to preaching, I suggest, is not only unbiblical but un-American” – which is a ridiculous pile of horse manure, I’ll focus on the other one.

The article by Samuel Smith discusses a survey which found that the vast majority of Americans (79%) feel that “pastors should not endorse political candidates.

Nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe it’s inappropriate for pastors to endorse political candidates at church, while over seven in 10 Americans feel it’s inappropriate for churches to endorse political candidates.
As part of a LifeWay Research survey released last week, 1,000 randomly selected Americans were asked over the phone about their views on whether or not it’s appropriate for clergy and churches to endorse politicians for political office.

The survey comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which puts churches at risk of losing their tax-exempt status if they endorse political candidates or if their pastors endorse political candidates in church.

According to the survey, which has a plus-or-minus 3.6 percentage point margin of error, 79 percent of the respondents either somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with the sentence: “I believe it is appropriate for pastors to publicly endorse candidates for public office during a church service.”

Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents said they somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches endorsing political candidates for public office. Additionally, 81 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches using their resources to campaign for political candidates.

As it does not violate the Johnson Amendment for a pastor to endorse a political candidate outside church as a citizen, 53 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with pastors endorsing candidates outside of their role in the church. Only 43 percent somewhat agreed or strongly agreed with it being appropriate for a pastor to endorse a candidate for public office outside of the church.

Although many Americans might not think it’s appropriate for pastors or churches to endorse political candidates, 52 percent of respondents felt that churches should not be stripped of their tax-exempt status for endorsing candidates.

“I don’t think pastors should endorse candidates and I don’t think churches should endorse candidates,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

“They should be looking for candidates who endorse them, but I believe that should be a decision that is left to the churches, not dictated by the government,” added Land, who is also CP’s executive editor. “I favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment but at the same time, I don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates. That ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government. To me, that is a violation of the First Amendment. How does that fit with the free** exercise of religion?”

Dr. Richard Land is “President of Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board“, as well as being the Christian Post’s executive editor.  To quote The Church Lady, “How conVEENient!”  Of course you favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.  I find it highly unlikely, however, that you “don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates.”  Your idea that it “ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government”, and that it’s “a violation of the First Amendment”, is totally ludicrous.

Left up to the individual churches, how long will it be before (at least) thousands of dioceses gleefully dive into the political cesspool?  And how would this NOT be a religious entity’s version of Citizens United – rather than a corporation, it’s a “church” that is now a “person” with the same expansive “free speech” rights, (i.e., to take up a special collection during Mass or its equivalent, a ritual which can be used to shame any who do not contribute towards influencing political outcomes and policies.)

The survey data was broken down into religious demographics and found that Protestants (20 percent) are more likely than Catholics (13 percent) to agree with it being appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates. About 27 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants feel it’s appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates.

About 33 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants said it’s appropriate for churches to endorse political candidates, while only 27 percent of Protestants and 18 percent of Catholics agree.

“My main concern would be that churches would end up being embarrassed by the later behavior of politicians they have endorsed. Richard Nixon comes to mind,” Land said. “When Billy Graham heard the Watergate tapes, he went into the bathroom and vomited because he was so upset that Nixon was so different than the person he had presented himself to be.”

So, Dr. Land, when was the first time that Donald Trump’s shady dealings, incessant lying and boasting, badly-cloaked hints to his Trumpkins to exercise their Second Amendment rights to “stop Crooked Hillary”, etc., etc. – when was the first time all of that made YOU run into the bathroom and vomit? I’m willing to bet NEVER. And I can’t even (don’t want to) imagine just what it will finally take, what ever-more-hideous and dangerous idiocies, pronouncements or behaviors, will finally open your eyes to the fact that you are supporting a monster who is lying through his teeth about being a Christian in any sense of the word. FFS, Trump actually says that he doesn’t ask god for forgiveness, because he doesn’t feel that he has done anything that needs divine forgiveness! The arrogance and ignorance of Charlatan Trump make a well-deserved mockery of your craven acceptance of all of Trump’s evil, decidedly un-Christian “moral values.” You sold your soul to play a fool for Trump, and I hope that you puke your rotten guts out when the realization hits you.

Land added that when churches and pastors get involved in endorsing candidates, that can “turn off people we are trying to reach.”

“If you endorse Republican candidates, you are going to seemingly make it more difficult to reach Democrats with the Gospel,” he said.

Another thing that Dr. Land doesn’t realize is that many of the religious folk who actually try to follow Christ’s teachings are Democrats. But you’d never reach them with the kind of “Gospel” that Evangelicals preach. Don’t forget that “gospel” meant “good news”, which is something that, IMO, Evangelicals don’t talk about much – too busy trying to frighten their flocks of sheep.

Land concluded that the church’s role is to make sure that their congregants understand the biblical positions on political issues. However, it is up to each voter to “connect the dots” at the voting booth.

“I think that the church, we are commanded to be salt and light, so we can get involved on issues and we make it clear where the Bible stands on issues,” Land said. “But, we have to leave it to the people to connect** their own dots.”

**The word “free” was highlighted as a link in this story at CP’s site, as was the word “connect” noted below. Instead of providing further enlightenment of what defines the ‘”free” exercise of religion, it actually links to a Pizza Hut(TM) coupon/deal offer. How sacred!

Hey, don’t forget to check out the Christian Post’s “Most Popular” threads (lower right sidebar), the subjects of which do NOT do anything to disabuse me of the conclusion that “Evangelical” “Christians” are ghoulish nosy perverts.

This is our daily Open Thread – what’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 20th, 2016: God Is In Control?

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I like to check out what “Christian news” sites have to say on current events and other topics. I’ve been finding the Christian Post useful as a place to see what issues are being discussed, in an attempt to glean what self-styled “Christians” deem to be of importance.

So when I saw an article titled “God Is In Control”, I just had to find out how someone would explain that claim. The article, by Don Anderson, opened with this image:

"God Is In Control!" by Christian Post cartoonist Don Anderson

“God Is In Control!” by Christian Post cartoonist Don Anderson

[I have to say, “God” (apparently Jesus, not the OT “God the Father”, at least in the cartoon) looks a bit wild-eyed and not at all “in control.” And is that an ocean of piss that they’re navigating?]

After the cartoon, a link takes one to the following article, titled “Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control”.  Here’s an excerpt:

Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control

To achieve serenity in life, God wants you to let go and know He is in control, Pastor Rick Warren says.

Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, wrote in a recent devotional that although we as Christians may fight to take control of our lives on a daily basis, we must also remember that ultimately, everything is up to God.

“[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.'”

Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest.

“I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.

Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves.

Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says. Instead, Christians need to surrender themselves to God and His plan.

“The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control,” Warren explains.

A good way to maintain a high level of tranquility in the face of stress is to pray the Serenity Prayer, Warren says.

The evangelical leader points specifically to the last eight lines of the prayer, which read: “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.”

Okay, let’s look at this piece-by-piece:

“”[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.’

There’s a couple of things wrong with this; let’s start with “letting God be God” (this would be way too long – okay, way too much longer – if I began with “stress relief always starts with…”)

In an earlier piece, Warren talks about how [in essence], despite the fact that the Old Testament “…rarely describes God as being a father…”, somehow miraculously  “…this changes after Jesus is sent down from Heaven to save humanity…After this event, God is described as a father much more frequently…”…and now “…wants to have a relationship with us…”

So, god used to be a petty, vindictive, insecure, genocidal tyrant, but suddenly he becomes a father and is now kind and loving and wants to get to know the subjects he had previously threatened with hellfire and brimstone?  Seriously?  And yet Warren and conservative christian leaders STILL utilize a few specific Old Testament god’s ‘rules according to (some guys who wrote the OT)’ when fighting to be allowed to discriminate against certain groups, or to make others live by those particular OT rules.  Which should no longer apply, if god is really an all-loving father, right?  If we’re supposed to ‘let god be god’, which god are we letting him be?

As to “giving up control” because god “can control the things that are out of control in my life”, then where does man’s “free will” come in?  What about ‘personal responsibility’?  The conservative christians who believe that the poor are poor because they chose to be, well maybe the poor are poor because your god is in control and he really hates poor people?  And considering the chaos going on in this world, I don’t think that anyone is in control, let alone a god.

On to:  “…Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest…I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.”

Hmm…how about ‘because no one knows what will happen in the future’, we can take steps to make our future what we want it to be?  Why “Let go”, and, if we do “let go”, what will we “know”?  One can still attempt to at least control one’s “present”, even if there is uncertainty about the “future.”

And let’s put it bluntly, “Pastor” Warren:  you and your megachurch/televangelist ilk have plenty of money and are living quite comfortably on the fleecing, er, ‘tithings’ of your sheep and your speaking and appearance fees.  You truly don’t have to worry about many of the day-to-day issues with which we poorer folk struggle.  The main cause of stress in most civilized societies, i.e., lack of MONEY to live and to feed yourself and your family, is not stooping your shoulders or affecting your health, mental and physical.  And that goes for christians just like any other demographic, despite Warren’s assertion that “The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control…”  Um, no, nope, I think the number one reason is money (which is currently how most people access the basic needs of life.)  Sorry, Rick, you’re just wrong.

Next, what about:Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves.  Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says.”   [Well, DUH!]

I hope that Warren is oversimplifying here, otherwise those two ‘reaction to stress’ choices make christians sound like two-dimensional fools.  Humans of all types generally react to stress in all kinds of ways, not just the two extremes given.  And often, we react to stress in any number of ways at any given time, the key being our own control over our own lives and reactions.  Again, what about the conservative mantra of “personal responsibility”, so hypocritical from people who never, ever, not-freaking-ever, admit to any fault or wrongdoing. 

And lastly, on to Warren’s “Serenity Prayer” solution.  Which can be dismissed, because it’s about as useful for solving real problems as the “moment of silence” is for “honoring the victims” of the mass-shooting-du-jour.  In either case, one might just as well ‘count to ten.’

For CP’s “Christian”-colored view on current political issues, see here. Plenty of fodder for discussion there, too.

This is our daily Open Thread–so, what’s on you’re mind?

The Watering Hole; Friday May 20 2016; Conservative(?) Visuals

Thought today might be a good day to switch focus a bit, away from the verbal and more to the visual — cartoon style, for the most part. Near as I can tell, I’ve collected these things off-and-on across the last ten years, snagging most (if not all) from internet posts, maybe the occasional tweet. I’m not sure about attribution — the names are either really hard to read or absent completely. Oh well, I must say that whatever the case, I’m extremely grateful to whomever it was that produced each and all — they never fail to bring forth at least a chuckle, and occasionally a raucous laugh!

The first two are editorial cartoons from the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic, drawn by their long-time (progressive) ed. cartoonist Steve Benson back in 2006. Subjects obvious. 🙂

Benson-pledge

This next one is at least as apropos today as it was ten years ago!

Benson - Iran

Land of Oz revisited:

Oz

From some unrecorded moment following the passage of the ACA:

Obamacare

This one pretty much defines (much to their collective distress) wingnut gun owners:

Assault Rifles

Jesus making the rounds, courtesy of Betty Bowers:

Salvation for dummies

Nazi vs. YeeHaw, philosophically defined (more or less):

Achtung v Yeehaw

Onward to current times and Paul Krugman’s analysis of Donald Trump:

Krugman on Trump

Cartoon in ref. to Trump’s tweet in Dec 2015 when he went full Schmuck on Hillary, used the word ‘Schlong:

Schlong

GOP’s favorite way to “govern”:

gop tax crap

 

Here’s the perfect summary of the GOP’s view on the Paris Climate summit outcome:

Climate

And finally, this fabulous summary of what many of us wish would have been the reaction of Native American Peoples to the arrival of all those ‘illegal aliens’ and ‘undocumented immigrants’ from Europe:

Plymouth Rock wall

That one’s somewhat reminiscent of the first Benson cartoon up top, speaks volumes that I’m sure no living wingnut could ever comprehend because, as John Stewart Mill noted many many years ago,

“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most
stupid people are conservatives.”

OK, one more to make a Baker’s Dozen:

Aliens

Touché.

“We’ll have to leave it there.”

OPEN HREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 7, 2016: Look At The Ideologies, Not The Party Names

As I get into my occasional Twitter fights with conservatives, I find that many still believe the false notion that the Democrats and Republicans of today have the same ideological position on the Left/Right-Liberal/Conservative scale as the parties of the same names did 150 years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth. For these people, political ideological history ends about fifty years ago. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t happen, and the famous Southern conservative, pro-segregationists of the Democratic Party didn’t switch to join the Republican Party (cough, Strom Thurmond.) So now along comes Dinesh D’Souza with a movie trying to make that very same bad argument. It’s idiotic and shallow. It completely ignores the content of Republican policy today and how it compares to 1860 Democratic policy. And worst of all for them, it’s hardly an intellectual argument at all since even I can debunk it, and my only intellectual achievement was to be an inactive member of MENSA for two years.

Yes, the people who founded the KKK were proud registered Democrats. They were also very much conservative in their political ideology. Yes, the Democrats of the 1860s supported Slavery, but that’s because they were conservative and they were white supremacists. (They said so.) The Founders of the KKK and the supporters of Slavery were Conservative White Supremacists who happen to be registered politically as Democrats. At that time, racists and white supremacists had a home in the Democratic Party. They were not as welcome in the Republican Party, which was founded to end Slavery. The people who wanted to form this new party made a famous public appeal to, among others, “Free Democrats” (meaning Democrats who didn’t support Slavery), to join them.

More than a hundred years later, after passage of the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts under a Democratic president, the conservative white supremacists felt they were no longer welcome in the Democratic Party, and left to join the Republican Party. Not all of them, but many of them. So it’s extremely wrong and intellectually dishonest to argue that the Republican Party of today would still support the abolition of Slavery and the elimination of groups supporting white supremacy. Not when white supremacists are openly supporting the Republican front runner in the presidential race. And why would one of the most famous victims of the KKK, civil rights icon Representative John Lewis, join the Democratic Party if he felt the KKK was still welcome there? Can any of you people who believe the two parties have always been the same ideologically throughout their histories explain that? As for “re-labeling” this ugliness as “the South” and trying to bury it there, it’s because that’s where it happened.

It’s time this country confronted the simple fact that while all Americans are entitled to their choice of representation in government, their criteria for choosing that representation is not required to be fact-based, or logical, or in the best interests of the country as a whole. And we have a lot of people in this country who hold very, very ugly views about their fellow human beings, in part because they don’t view their fellow human beings as fellow human beings. Do we really believe these people’s views should determine how this “land of the free” should be run? Do we really want a country dedicated to the stupid and baseless concept of racial supremacy? Why do we not confront this ugliness every time it rears its head? Why do we pretend it’s okay to believe some races are better than others, to the point where you write those into your judicial opinions and they become the law of the land? And why do we pretend that the level to which we find this ugliness is not higher in conservatives than it is in liberals? Even conservatives like D’Souza are so embarrassed by this part of themselves that they’re in denial, and projecting it onto their ideological foes, we liberals, saying we’re the real racists, we’re the real intolerant ones because we liberals won’t tolerate intolerant conservatives. If you understand what words mean, then you know that makes no logical sense at all. But that doesn’t matter to them. Because it doesn’t feel right to them to blame their ideology for their racist opinions. Because that would mean they might have been wrong all this time. And that just can’t be right to them. So it must be us Liberals who are to blame for America’s Ugliness. And we continue to pretend Conservatism itself isn’t part of the problem, when it very much is at the root of all that is wrong and ugly about America. Today’s Congressional Republicans happen to be extreme conservatives, but there was a time when they were extreme Liberals. And they did some of their finest work for America back then. It’s a true shame those Liberals would not be welcome in today’s GOP. Lincoln would weep.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 4th, 2016: This Land is Our Land, Too

Okay, if you don’t already know about “The Bundys, NW-Style”, you can catch up here and here, for starters (The Oregonian has several articles keeping up with the situation.) I’m not going to talk about the Bundys, I’m sick of that mooching un-American grifter family.

I want to start with the Hammond family, whose own issues with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are being overshadowed and hijacked by the Bundy terrorist crew. The Hammonds, Dwight and Steve, are surrendering themselves today for their second prison sentence. They want nothing to do with the Bundy boys, and from what I’ve read, most of the townspeople of Burns, Oregon, feel the same way.  But that’s not to say that the Hammonds are – other than arson, of course – law-abiding citizens.

The arson incidents of 2001 and 2006, for which the Hammonds were convicted, weren’t the first run-ins that the family have had with the Feds. A commenter at ThinkProgress posted a link to this October 3rd, 1994, article in the High County News, entitled “Ranchers Arrested at Wildlife Refuge”, by Kathie Durbin:

BURNS, Ore. – The arrest of Dwight Hammond, a hot-tempered eastern Oregon cattle rancher, has galvanized a nasty campaign of retribution against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It all began when federal agents arrested Hammond and his son Steven, Aug. 3. That turned a long-simmering dispute over cattle, fences and water on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge into a bizarre Old West showdown.

Federal officials and a fence-building crew were attempting to build a fence to keep the Hammonds’ cattle from trespassing on the refuge. When Hammond and his son obstructed federal workers, they were taken into custody by nine federal agents, five of whom were armed.

The Hammonds were charged with two counts each of felony “disturbing and interfering with” federal officials or federal contractors. The Hammonds spent one night in the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, and a second night behind bars in Portland before they were hauled before a federal magistrate and released without bail.

On Aug. 10, nearly 500 incensed ranchers showed up at a rally in Burns featuring wise-use speaker Chuck Cushman of the American Land Rights Association, formerly the National Inholders Association. Cushman later issued a fax alert urging Hammond’s supporters to flood refuge employees with protest calls. Some employees reported getting threatening calls at home.

Cushman plans to print a poster with the names and photos of federal agents and refuge managers involved in the arrest and distribute it nationally. “We have no way to fight back other than to make them pariahs in their community,” he said.

Picking up the theme, the Oregon Lands Coalition declared in a recent newsletter, “It’s time to get out the yellow ribbons – this is a hostage situation!”

~~~

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dwight Hammond had repeatedly violated a special permit that allowed him to move his cows across the refuge only at specific times. In June, refuge manager Forrest Cameron notified Hammond that his right to graze cattle and grow hay on the lush waterfowl haven south of Burns was revoked. The feds also said they planned to build a fence along the refuge boundary to keep Hammond’s cows out of an irrigation canal.

The events of Aug. 3 are outlined in the sworn affidavit of special agent Earl M. Kisler, who assisted in the Hammonds’ arrest. On the day the fence was to be built, the crew and refuge officials arrived to find Hammond had parked his Caterpillar scraper squarely on the boundary line and disabled it, removing the battery and draining fuel lines. When a tow truck arrived to move it, Dwight Hammond showed up, leaped to the controls of the scraper and hit a lever that lowered the bucket, narrowly missing another special agent. Meanwhile, said Kisler, Steve Hammond shouted obscenities at federal officials. Neither Hammond resisted arrest.

“The refuge has been trying to work with Hammond for many years,” said agency spokeswoman Susan Saul. A thick file at refuge headquarters reveals just how patient refuge managers have been. Hammond allegedly made death threats against previous managers in 1986 and 1988 and against Cameron, the current manager, in 1991 and again this year. Saul said Hammond has never given the required 24 hours’ notice before moving his cows across the refuge and that he allowed the cows to linger for as long as three days, trespassing along streams and trampling young willows that refuge workers had planted to repair damage wrought by years of overgrazing.

Susie Hammond, Dwight’s wife, said the cattle trail is a “historic right of way” that has been in use since 1871. “We have never had a permit,” she said. “We have a right to use it.”

The American Land Rights Association had come to my attention several times prior to this, in an unlikely spot: our office’s Junk emailbox in our website contact email. Every once in a while I find a “Land Rights Network” email from this group, and being of a politically inquisitive mind, I read some and forwarded them home for further review. The most recent one came on December 22nd, regarding the Omnibus bill, asking ALRA members to contact their reps to oppose a permanent trust fund for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A brief excerpt:

“The LWCF is how the Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management buy millions of acres of private land and make it government land taking it off the tax rolls. It funds eminent domain (condemnation) by these agencies.”

[They very helpfully add, “You can find additional information about national issues and battles American Land Rights has been involved in by going to Google and typing in the following search terms one at a time: Chuck Cushman, Charles Cushman, Charles S. Cushman, American Land Rights Association, National Inholders Association and League of Private Property Voters.”]

The ALRA website also has a handy guide to the Hammond vs BLM history.

The only two staff members listed are:

Chuck Cushman, Founder and Executive Director:  “Through numerous successful political battles over the years dealing with Congress and various Federal agencies, Chuck was nicknamed by the press as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot” as a result of his aggressive and successful efforts to protect landowners and permittees from overreaching Federal, State and other land-use controllers.

Mike Hardiman, Washington, DC, Lobbyist  His “home page” says it all, in a strange sort of way: it’s nothing but glowing quotes from well-connected customers regarding his work for them, under the heading, “Project Management + Federal Contractor + Real Estate — which pretty much explains his involvement in the American Land Rights Association.  $Cha-Ching$

And a few of the organizations on the ALRA “friends” list (one of the few links on the site that actually worked) include many of the usual suspects with whom we are unfortunately familiar.

Accuracy in Media: “A news media watchdog group that challenges and correct [sic] the biased reporting of the American press.”  [IOW, they believe in the Myth of the Liberal Media, and way overcompensate to the Right.]

American Conservative Union:  “The nation’s oldest conservative lobbying organization. ACU’s purpose is to effectively communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-issue, umbrella organization. ACU supports capitalism, a belief in the doctrine of original intent of the framers of the Constitution, confidence in traditional moral values, and a commitment to a strong national defense.”

American Enterprise Institute:  “Dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of freedom–limited government, private enterprise, vital cultural and political institutions, and a strong foreign policy and national defense–through scholarly research, open debate, and publications.”

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):  “The nation’s largest non-partisan, individual membership association of state legislators. Founded in 1973, ALEC is dedicated to developing and advancing policies based on the Jeffersonian principles of individual liberty, limited government, federalism and free markets.”

American Policy Center:  “APC advocates the free market as the best system yet devised to guarantee basic human needs. The free market, through its inherent system of checks and balances, including ownership of private property, is the best method for creating wealth, full employment, goods and services and protecting the environment…”

Americans for Tax Reform:   “A national clearinghouse for the grassroots taxpayers’ movement. ATR opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. Supports tax reform which makes taxes fairer, flatter, more visible, and lower.”

Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise:  “A meeting place for the free enterprise community. A worldwide conversation on personal and economic freedom.”

Claremont Institute:  “The Claremont Institute finds the answers to America’s problems in the principles on which our nation was founded. To recover the Founding principles in our political life means recovering a limited and accounted government that respects private property, promotes stable family life and maintains a strong defense.”

Competitive Enterprise Institute:  “A pro-market, public policy group based in Washington DC committed to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Founded in 1984, CEI emphasizes the marketing and implementation of classical Libertarian ideals.”

Heartland Institute:  “A non-profit, non-partisan center for public policy research, focusing on free-market solutions to state and local public policy problems.”

Heritage Foundation:  “Created to spread the ideas of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Yeah, yeah, ‘capitalism’, ‘free enterprise’, ‘market solutions’, ‘limited government’, ‘strong national defense’, blah, blah, blah.   IOW, “BULLSHIT.”

Now, I’m not saying that the ALRA/Chuck Cushman and/or any of the groups listed above are behind the Hammond’s, or the Bundy family’s, scofflaw history.  But groups such as these are definitely enablers of this sort of flouting of Federal jurisdiction over public lands that we, the taxpayers, ALL own.

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole; Friday August 21 2015 — The Week’s Wingnut Lunacy Pinnacles

“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid,
but most stupid people are conservatives.”
(John Stuart Mill)

Here are what I can comfortably refer to as the last week’s top ten examples of right wing LUNACY. They’re not arranged in any particular order (any “order” in wingnut spoutings is typically a contradiction in terms anyway), and as usual the relatively brief titles do indeed suffice to tell people with functioning minds all they really care to know. Topics include, of course, the week’s manifestations of hate, fear, persecution, revolution, women, communism, the antichrist(s)(?), and diets. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but considering the sources, maybe not so much.

1. BarbWire Warns That Obama Is The Antichrist Who Was Put Into Office By Satan

2. Markell: Pope Francis May Be The ‘Second Beast’ Of The End Times

3. Rick Santorum: Liberals ‘Rewriting History’ To ‘Fit Their Ideology’ Like In Communist China, USSR

4. Santorum: Judicial Review Is Okay…If The Court Agrees Me!

5. Michael Savage: ‘Extreme Diets’ Of Liberals Are ‘Creating A Vast Epidemic Of Mental Deficiency’

6. Pat Robertson: Christians Forced To ‘Bow Down’ Before Gays Who Are Bent On Destroying Us

7. Glenn Beck’s Birmingham Rally Is Designed To Allow Participants To ‘Be Seen By God’

8. Larry Klayman: 1776-Style Revolution Coming If Conservatives Don’t Win 2016 Election

9. Tony Perkins: Women Need To Stop Acting Like Men Or Society Will Go Down The Tubes

10. ‘I Was Born That Way’: Bryan Fischer Claims He Was Born Christian, Repulsed By Homosexuality

That is, of course, only the tip of the lunacy iceberg. Still, there should be enough freakishness embedded therein to drive the average progressive liberal a few feet closer to sanity’s edge, to the point beyond which revulsion takes over.

Revulsion. Hmmh. Bryan Fischer (see above) spoke of “revulsion” when he said:

“I think that most of us have an instinctive, I think revulsion is not too strong of a word, to the act of homosexuality, what actually happens when homosexuals come together and engage in sexual congress. We look at that and there is just an inner revulsion to that.”

“God has the same reaction that you and I do,” he continued, “but that instinctive revulsion that we have when we think about homosexuality, I was born that way.”

Curiously, that’s almost precisely how I see things — IF, that is, the words “homosexuality” and “homosexuals” are changed to, say, “conservatism” and “conservatives.” Bingo. Revulsion.  I’m guessing that’s because, as Fischer pointed out, “I was born that way.”

OPEN THREAD