The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 21, 2014: This Week In Irony

It’s funny when Conservatives go on and on about things without realizing what they say often sounds pretty ironic coming from them. Take Gary Bauer. No, really, take him. Preferably far away where we won’t have to hear him whine and complain about how Christians have it so bad in this country. I mean, did you know that out of 43 different men elected President of the United States, only 43 of them have been Christians? Talk about not having a voice in our government! I don’t object to people like Gary Bauer having a voice in our government; I object to people like Gary Bauer being listened to as if their voice had some validity to it. Conservative Christians believe a number of out-and-out false things (such as that Jesus was a Conservative like them), or that the United States, as represented by today’s Constitution, is officially a Christian nation and, therefore, our laws should be based on the Bible. This is true of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, and one of their biggest concerns is that gay people will be treated as equal citizens. Of all the sins in the Bible, right-wing Christians believe homosexuality is the worst possible thing to allow in a society. I mean, I don’t hear conservatives saying there’s a problems with guns in our society when twenty elementary school kids are shot and killed by a weapon no civilian has any business owning. But let two people who have been in love with each other for more than twenty years finally get married and have the same marital rights as everyone else, and Conservative Christians start talking about the Demise of Civilization As We Know It (the “we” in this case being Conservative Christians such as themselves.) If it weren’t for the issue of gay rights, would there be anything else for them to talk about today? That’s why it was a bit surprising, to say the least, to hear Gary Bauer say that President Obama is “obsessed” with the issue of gay rights, and that the nation will be destroyed as a result. No mention is made (I’m sure) that the only reason the president has taken the actions he has is because of the actions taken by Conservative Christians to treat their fellow citizens as something less than human. If he were real, I’m sure the Jesus of the Bible would not approve.

Speaking of people that Jesus of the Bible would not approve, Whack-a-Bird Senator Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, also speaking at that same F&FC conference, told the audience, with a straight (and stern) face, to “Stop electing the village idiot!” Strangely, he seemed to have mistaken the President for his own son, but to hear a line that out of the father of one of the craziest, and most dangerous, abusers of power in our government is richly ironic. Because of Ted Cruz, a strong contender for title of Village Idiot of the US Senate, our nation was taken to the brink of fiscal disaster and punished by a downgraded credit rating. He blames the Democrats and the President because they refused to negotiate with terrorists Republicans over repealing Obamacare in exchange for continuing to fund the government. This knee-jerk reaction Conservatives have where they just say the exact opposite of the truth (often recorded for all to repeat) has not done this country any good at all.

I find Conservative Christians to be the worst hypocrites of all the Conservatives (who are generally hypocritical themselves, as they often excuse behavior from their own kind that they publicly and loudly abhor in others), because they profess to follow the teachings of someone who clearly would not approve the things they say in his name. I find it hard to believe Jesus would really preach

Seven Mountains Dominionism, which as we have noted in the past seeks to give right-wing Christians authority “over the seven forces that shape and control our culture: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.”

If that isn’t the ultimate in Selfishness, I don’t know what is. They want authority over your family. They want to be able to say what is and what is not permissible in the way you live as a family, the way you raise your children, the things you allow them to learn, and the religious practices you will follow. And the Republican Party embraces them, and seeks out their approval and endorsements. Because, ironically, the Republicans are all about Freedom.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss hypocritical insane Conservatives, Christian Dominionism, other contenders for Village Idiots of the US Senate, or anything else you wish to discuss.

Sunday Roast: Silent Gesture

AP photographer

On this day in 1968, Americans, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and Australian, Peter Norman, all wore badges for the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), and Smith and Carlos raised their fists in the air — not in a Black Power salute, but as John Carlos later wrote in his autobiography, in a salute for human rights.

From Wikipedia:

On the morning of October 16, 1968,[2] U.S. athlete Tommie Smith won the 200 meter racein a world-record time of 19.83 seconds, with Australia’sPeter Norman second with a time of 20.06 seconds, and the U.S.’s John Carlos in third place with a time of 20.10 seconds. After the race was completed, the three went to collect their medals at the podium. The two U.S. athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty.[3] Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”[4] All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges after Norman, a critic of Australia’s White Australia Policy, expressed empathy with their ideals.[5] Sociologist Harry Edwards, the founder of the OPHR, had urged black athletes to boycott the games; reportedly, the actions of Smith and Carlos on October 16, 1968[2] were inspired by Edwards’ arguments.[6]

Both U.S. athletes intended on bringing black gloves to the event, but Carlos forgot his, leaving them in the Olympic Village. It was the Australian, Peter Norman, who suggested Carlos wear Smith’s left-handed glove, this being the reason behind him raising his left hand, as opposed to his right, differing from the traditional Black Power salute.[7] When “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, Smith and Carlos delivered the salute with heads bowed, a gesture which became front page news around the world. As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd.[8]Smith later said “If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.”[3]  

This “silent gesture” was viewed as “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit,” although the Nazi salute was accepted during the 1936 games in Berlin.  But Smith and Carlos were scary black men, so their gesture was taken as a racial protest — which in a way it was, but it was for human rights, not a promise that white people would be murdered in their beds.

Today, in the OccupyWallStreet protests, we are again fighting for human rights and equality all over the world, and I think it quite fitting to honor Tommie Smith and John Carlos for their commitment and courage to the cause of human rights.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

Sunday Roast: Hey, have you heard the news…?

(image: Newseum)

In an action that brings this country one step closer to equal rights for all citizens, the New York state Senate passed their marriage equality bill Friday night, 33-29. Celebrations abound!

Oh look…the sun came up this morning, plagues of locusts nowhere to be seen (at least in my neighborhood), and I haven’t been forced to get “gay married.”  Maybe tomorrow…

Congratulations, New York!  We’re proud of you!

This is our daily open thread — Grab a mimosa and have a chat

Sunday Roast: Main Street Contract for the American People

Is this complicated?  Srsly, really?  What am I missing here?

Who has a problem with all Americans having a job, a good wage, a home, their health, a safety net (if they need it), and an education?  Yes, yes, that’s a rhetorical question — lots of people have a problem with the whole concept, and in fact, object to it quite strenuously.

There are two Americas. One where Wall Street gets bailouts, and another where public schools and safety net programs get slashed.

Where the wealthy elite get tax cuts extended and estate taxes removed, while working people see their retirement plans, health coverage, pay, and bargaining rights gutted. Where people who rob banks go to prison, but bankers who rob people get bonuses and bail outs.

I totally understand that the wealthy who get those tax cuts, and the banksters who rob us blind and then get bailed out BY US, would be against the ‘small people’ having decent jobs, wages, education, etc.  After all, they greatly benefit from keeping us stupid and poor.  But what about the ‘every man?’

The Tea Party, who are praised as a populist movement, are against the minimum wage.  They claim it’s un-Constitutional.  Of course, the minimum wage is by no means a ‘decent wage,’ it’s not much above poverty wages, really, but apparently even that is too much.  We ought to depend on the so-called free market and the benevolence of our patron/employer to recognize our great worth as employees, and then most assuredly they will shower us with the money we so richly deserve as totally awesome workers.  Right…

The Tea Party, that amazing populist movement, would like to see the Department of Education abolished — again, it’s apparently un-Constitutional.  It’s the same with Social Security and Medicare.  Interestingly, the Republican party — which the Tea Party claims is absolutely not what they are all about — while not riding so hard on the un-Constitutionality of the above, are also against public education, Social Security, Medicare, as well as unemployment insurance, and jobs creation in general — as evidenced by the Republican-led House having not introduced a single jobs bill since it took power in January.  Wow, I am SO surprised…

Again, when we get down to basics (and reality), is this really all that complicated?  Thoughts…?

This is our daily open thread.  Please feel free to comment on this and any topic.

UN recognizes human right to safe drinking water and sanitation

Photo by Zach Meier

Green Cross

The 3rd Commission of the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations made history today by overwhelmingly adopting the draft resolution proclaiming the Human Right to Safe drinking Water and Sanitation.

I’m such a spoiled American.  Everyday, I turn on the tap and am rewarded with fresh clean water for my drinking, bathing, washing, and sanitation needs.  I have two bathrooms available to me in my home, and anywhere I may venture throughout my day, I can count on finding a restroom.  I don’t even have to think about it!

The resolution that was adopted [July 28] “declares the Right to Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

It also “calls upon States and international organisations to provide Financial resources, capacity building and technology transfer, through international assistance and co-operation, in particular to developing countries, in order to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.”  (Emphasis mine)

122 states voted in favor of the resolution, with 41 states abstaining — including the United States, Canada, Israel, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  None voted against the resolution (wouldn’t that raise some interesting red flags?).

Why did the U.S. abstain from voting for or against the resolution? Continue reading

Jimmy Carter: The words of God do not justify cruelty to women Observer

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status …” (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

I have been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when th e convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief – confirmed in the holy scriptures – that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths.

Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses.

At their most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

Go here to read the rest of this excellent article.

Tuesday – Gaza Updates

5 January: Magdi al-Samuli mourns over the bodies of his children, killed by an Israeli tank shell. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP (Guardian)

Guardian: ‘As I ran I saw three of my children. All dead’ (includes video report) Heartbreaking story.

Truthout: The Monstrosity of War

Firedoglake: Gaza Update: Target Medics?

Multiple sources are reporting that medics and ambulances have come under repeated attack in Gaza by Israeli forces. Aid workers are also reporting that even when Red Crescent ambulance teams contact the Red Cross and the Red Cross contacts the IDF to coordinate the ambulance mission, they are often prevented from reaching the injured.

Informed Comment: Gaza in the Time of AshuraPalestinian Girl, Israeli Troops

Common Dreams: To Help Palestine, Be Pro-Israel Too

Common Dreams: International Community Must Stop Gaza War

International Solidarity Movement: It’s really hard to post from here

BBC: Strike on Gaza school ‘kills 40’ (includes video report)

At least 40 people have been killed in an Israeli air strike on a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources have said.

A number of children were among those who died when the al-Fakhura school in the Jabaliya refugee camp took a direct hit, doctors at nearby hospitals said.

People inside had been taking refuge from the Israeli ground offensive.

Guardian: Gaza Invasion: Latest News

Mohammed Saber/EPA

6 January: The hand of a girl is seen in the rubble of her destroyed house after an Israeli missile strike hit her house in al-Zaitun area in the east of Gaza City. Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA (Guardian)

Guardian: Israeli shelling kills dozens at UN school in Gaza

AlterNet: Unprecedented Numbers of Americans Question Israel’s Actions in Gaza (Max Blumenthal)

AlterNet: Atrocities in Gaza: Piecing Together the Story

Raw Story: Israel escalates offensive into Gaza cities

McClatchy: Crisis takes toll on Gaza’s seasoned doctors, medics

McClatchy: Israelis, sipping Pepsi, watch bombardment of Gaza town

Raw Replay: Airstrike hits U.N. school in Gaza (video)

CNN’s Kiran Chetry talked with the director of the U.N. Refugee and Works agency, John Ging, who said that there is no place for innocent civilians to take refuge in Gaza.

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Wal-Mart Caught Again With Supplier Accused of Sweatshop Conditions

Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments made in sweatshops.


This comes on the heels of a CNN report aired on December 13, 2007 of last year, when it was revealed that Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments were made under deplorable conditions. Children ranging from ages of 12 to 16 years old, making 26 cents an hour which is half of China’s minimum wage.

Business cites a new study released, which exposed Wal-Mart’s auditing program failed to uncover that a supplier of children’s wear are being produced in sweatshop conditions. The factory forced workers to lie to Wal-Mart inspectors about the working conditions. Wal-Mart has, of course, tried to hide this report from the public.

According to Business Week, “Wal-Mart acknowledges that it urged SweatFree Communities several times not to publish its report.”

According to the study, “Sweatshop Solutions? Economic Ground Zero in Bangladesh and Wal-Mart’s Responsibility,” the factory forces workers to toil marathon 19-hour shifts from 8 am to 3 am in order to finish Wal-Mart orders with tight deadlines. “If any worker declines overtime, management harasses him or her mentally or physically,” says Elina, a 22-year old factory helper. The report recounts one incident of a pregnant worker, who was refused leave, and forced to deliver her child inside the factory.

“In response to this report and pressure from our organization, Wal-Mart promises action to make this factory a model for others in Bangladesh,” said Bjorn Claeson, Executive Director of SweatFree Communities, a worker rights organization that authored the report. “We welcome Wal-Mart’s intervention. As one of the most powerful companies in the world with enormous presence in Bangladesh Wal-Mart could have a dramatic positive impact. But the company should recognize that its own low price demands and just-in-time production system is the root cause of sweatshop conditions. To bring about substantive changes in this factory and others, Wal-Mart must be willing to change its own demands.”

Continue reading

Countdown to Bejing: Amnesty International Video – Working to Protect Human Rights

When the Olympic games were in Moscow in 1980, half the world boycotted them, because of the Afghanistan war. The constraints and dependencies of today’s globalized economy forbid such a stance. President Bush will attend the opening ceremonies and McDonald’s is busily sponsoring the games, as are others from around the world.

Economic interests have never been in the best interest of Human Rights.

My family and I will boycott the games. Although we are sports fans, we will not watch the coverage and we will not buy products from sponsors. This will have little impact, of course, but they say the movement of a butterfly’s wing can cause a hurricane.

Watch Amnesty International’s video:

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