The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 26, 2016: God Doesn’t Want To See You Pray In Public

No matter what the Evangelicals tell you, God does not want you to pray in public. God doesn’t need to hear them out loud, because God knows what you do in secret. God knows when you secretly give to the poor with your right hand without letting your left hand know what’s happening. And God doesn’t want you to gather out in the streets and in the public square and pray to him so everyone can hear you. Instead, God wants you to go into a private place in your own home, a closet even, and pray silently to God. Bryan J. Fischer told me that the admonition against praying in public was about the reason for doing it, to be seen doing it. [I’ll update it if he answers me. I’m surprised he did at all, considering how rude I’ve been to him before. And it wasn’t just because I’m from New York, he had it coming.]

Conservative Christians are so afraid of (among many, many other things) religious persecution against them, as opposed to from them, which they have no problem doing. This is despite the fact that we’ve had 43 different men occupy the highest political office in the country, and every single one of them practiced some version of Christianity. How it could be considered the “one true religion,” as all deity-based religions do, baffles me. It would seem unnecessary to have more than one. If there’s only one God, then why are there different ways to do what He wants? FTR, I believe there is no such things as gods at all, at least not in the sense that most humans think of them. I suppose it’s possible there are more highly-evolved creatures than us capable of doing things we’d think only a god could do, but then you’re straying so far from the image of God as portrayed in the monotheistic religions that it becomes clear we’re taking about two different things. OTOH, even the religions that do believe in gods claim there is more than one. If you’re Judeo-Christian, the First Commandment says not to put any of those other gods (you know, the ones that created all the people God didn’t, such as Cain and Abel’s wives) ahead of Jehovah because he is a jealous god. I can say his name, you can’t, because I don’t have anything to fear from him. Which brings up something else. For those who believe in God being perfect and humans being sinners, if envy is a sin, why is a “perfect being” like God allowed to have it? If God is perfect, and if he’s capable of being envious, then why should being envious be a mortal sin? What’s wrong with envy if it’s a trait of the most perfect being in the universe?

Still ducking the question:

The reason Religion is so rife with con men is because it’s easy to go around telling everyone, “Listen to me, Folks. I just had a chat with God and he has some things he wants me to say,” and have people believe you. Why? Because the truth is there’s a lot of stupid people out there who either don’t like to think, on account of it hurts too much, or they can’t, on account of they’re stupid. They don’t ask for proof that the person talking really did talk to God, they actually think it’s neat and wish it was they to whom God spoke. And they believe every thing this con man says, even when it makes no sense at all to those who are capable of critical thought. At some point you have to acknowledge that the instructions we’re being given by these men, who supposedly know what God wants us to do, are self-contradictory. Why do we persist in believing them when what they say can’t possibly be the truth? And why do we believe what they’re saying to be the Word of God, who is supposed to be perfect, when what they’re saying is so clearly and obviously imperfect? Faith alone isn’t going to change the fact that sometimes the Bible says one thing and sometimes it says something in complete contradiction to it. In Logic, which I know you’re not supposed to use where the Bible is concerned, if you start with a premise and show that the premise leads to a contradiction, then you’ve proven the premise false, and any argument derived from it must find another premise. If your premise is that the Bible (the word means a collection if little books, which were assembled, translated, and chosen for inclusion by flawed human men working for King James) is the inerrant Word of God (even if you believe Him to be the only God, which contradicts his First Commandment), and you find it contains a contradiction, then it cannot be “inerrant,” since a contradiction is an error. It is not a test of one’s faith, it’s a mistake. Which means the premise that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God must be False. That’s how Logic works.

I tried a different tack with Fischer, since he doesn’t want to answer the question I’m asking him. Fischer thinks we should vote for Ted Cruz. But Teddy Panderbear likes to make a big show of praying in public. We’ve all seen the pictures.

BTW, notice how he tries to paint a Nazi-esque picture of Liberals with the “Uberleftwing”? Of course, if one thinks about it for a moment, why wouldn’t Right Wing Watch be as far left as possible when the entire reason they exist is right at the top of their webpage: “A project of People For the American Way dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement”? If they aren’t very far left, then they’re too far right to be counted on to do what they tell us they do. But conservatives don’t really like to think about things for a moment. And why would they feel they need to? Conservatives often do not see hypocrisy as negating their argument. They’ve also been known to project a lot, and Fischer probably thinks that since he would use such a website to advance his own secret agenda, Norman Lear must be doing that, too. Frog-Human Hybrid The Least Reverend Jimmy Faye Bakker must think like that, too. He thinks that American Christians are being persecuted in America (as opposed to the real phenomenon of American Christians being captured and killed by murderous scumbag assholes who wrongly use religion as a cover for their evil elsewhere in the world), and that if we continue down whatever path it is he imagines we’re traveling, in the end people who pray in public will be gunned down by machine guns. If you watch the following clip carefully, you can see Bakker catch and eat a fly with his 24″-long tongue.

Okay, that must have been a different clip. But he’s totally wrong, of course. Not only about the eventual outcome being people like him who pray in public will be machine gunned down, but about whether or not people should be praying in public in the first place. Jesus thought that people who made a show of praying in public so that others would see them, including inside houses of worship, were hypocrites, and that if all they wanted was for others to see them praying, they got their reward. He said that God would prefer that you not pray where everybody can see you but in the privacy of your own own. Specifically, your closet, where I’m sure many, many Conservative Christians can be found. He said praying in public was unnecessary because God knows what you’re going to ask him before you ask it (which makes me wonder why praying is necessary at all), and so you should do it where no other people can see you doing it. God hears your secret prayers which, again, makes me wonder why it’s necessary to vocalize them at all. In fact, if He can hear you when you’re “praying” quietly to yourself, there shouldn’t be any formal procedure necessary. You should just be able to keep walking along and say to yourself, in your own mind, “God, could you please make that asshole Wayne burst into flames and be gone for good?” and it will happen. But since it didn’t happen, and because I know at least a few of you asked for it to happen, we must logically conclude that prayer doesn’t work. Which makes the premise of God answering prayers a false one. Yeah, sometimes the answer is, “No.” I know. But that would mean He can’t really be an all-loving God, since that would take away from the premise of him being a perfect being. Why would a perfect being hate anyone? Why would he make someone he would hate? Why would He make me, and let me sit here denouncing his very existence after so many of you asked Him a few moments ago to make me burst into flames? I know, I was there. I heard you. And yet I’m still here. Which makes the premise of him being some kind of “perfect being” a false one. Which I’ve been trying to tell you for years.

Open thread. Go for it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 21, 2016: How The Right Gets The Left Wrong

John Hinderaker and Jeffrey Lord, two men who can best be remembered from me mentioning their names at the start of this blog post without the word ‘miscreant’ attached to either of them, are at it again. And by “it” I mean “spreading falsehoods about Liberals”. I was going to use the word “lying,” but then somebody would say it’s not really lying because they honestly believe it’s true. Fine. It isn’t true, it’s false, so I said they were spreading falsehoods. Whether they knew they were falsehoods or not is irrelevant, because they still spread them. But if it makes you feel any better, I think they knew they were falsehoods when they spread them like manure. I say that because I don’t think they’re entirely stupid, and you would have to be entirely stupid to believe the things they said about Liberals and MoveOn.Org recently. [Full disclosure: I am a member of MoveOn.Org. I had my picture used in a commercial they ran several years ago. I wish I could find it.] So I think they know they were spreading foul-smelling crap when they sprinkled it throughout their columns. Because they know their fans just eat that shit up, on account of that’s much easier than having to actually think about it. And Conservatives do not like to put a lot of effort into their thinking, which explains their Conservatism. (Science has been able to document many ways in which Conservative and Liberal minds differ. Read more about them here. Truth be told: the science does not support the idea of Conservatism being a bastion of curious, inquisitive, intellectual discovery. Or even one of just trying to learn the basic truth about things.)

A little over a week ago in Dayton, OH, a man named Tommy DiMassimo attempted to get up on the stage where Donald Trump was speaking but was stopped by the Secret Service. This, and this alone, is probably the only indisputable fact one can glean from Hinderaker’s column. By his third sentence (first if you don’t think the incident itself could accurately be described as “scary”), Hinderaker was already spreading the lies. “His intent was unclear, but there was every reason to assume he intended to injure or kill Trump.” Really, Hinderaker? “Every reason” to believe that? Look, I know you Conservatives are accustomed to seeing danger everywhere, but the only explanation for why you think he meant Trump harm is Projection. You assume he meant Trump harm because in your mind, if you ever rushed a stage, it would be to injure or kill someone. So that must be the reason this guy did it. Hinderaker offers no other explanation for why DiMassimo did what he did, only his personally limited imagination.

Framing is everything in today’s political discourse. With attention spans being so short – SQUIRREL! Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. Attention spans are short and time is limited, so the Conservatives want you to spend as little time thinking as possible and just react. And the best way for them to do that is to lay the groundwork for what they’re about to say and force you to accept it, process it, and reply to it within the framework they’ve presented it. From this point on, Hinderaker wants you to view the entire incident as a violent attack. If you reject that framing, nothing else he says or, by extension, what Lord says later, will make any sense. Not only is Hinderaker projecting in this column, he’s shining a bright burning light on his own cognitive dissonance. He has already admitted he has no idea why DiMassimo tried to get up on stage, but that doesn’t mean to him he can’t he know exactly why he did it. DiMassimo boarded the stage for an unclear purpose that must have involved injuring or killing Trump. Lacking the intellectual capacity or imagination to come up with any other reason for DiMassimo’s actions, Hinderaker goes for the violence motive, another trait of Conservatism. (If it were me, and I was able to get to Trump, I would have mussed up his hair in front of everybody, so that he would have had to look ridiculous putting it back together.) So now he hopes that in your mind, we’re talking about a violent person. This is important because he’s about to launch into a rambling, anti-intellectual, anti-tax, anti-union, anti-regulation, and anti-LBGTQ diatribe transferring every lie he can think of about DiMassimo onto every Liberal in America. I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but it’s plain to me that Hinderaker has insecurity issues so severe he has to lash out at anyone he perceives as differing from the image he has in his mind of what it means to be a man. And given his propensity for projection, it’s not hard to imagine why. And as bad as Hinderaker’s column was at reflecting reality, Jeffrey Lord took it to an even lower level.

Lord opens with a link to MoveOn.Org‘s site. Despite everything he’s about to make up about them, the first thing you notice on theri website is a request for donations. “Join our nonviolent campaign standing up for love and democracy, and against Trump’s bigotry and incitement, by making a contribution today.” Then Lord immediately calls us “the new Ku Klux Klan. The newest leftist incarnation of that old leftist formula that combines racism with violence to push the progressive agenda.” I have noticed more and more Conservatives using the term “leftist” in their comments, probably because it’s reminiscent of the term “Communist.” I’m guessing this was Frank Luntz’s idea, but who knows? (Luntz is the “pollster born in Hell” to whom I referred in my song parody “Republicans Lie“.) This is another falsehood, of course. Communism involves a level of Authoritarianism many Liberals reject (but which many Conservatives find appealing, oddly enough.) Lord’s lies continue. “The American Left has a horrendous history of flat out racism and bigotry, liberally salted with violence. From the 19th and early 20th century Klan,…”

I’m stopping him right there. Lord has done what I’ve seen many Conservatives do when I’m hanging out on the Twitter: He presumes that because the KKK was founded by Democrats, that it was founded by Liberals. Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot look at someone’s political affiliation alone, without context or reference to a year, and know what that person’s political leanings were. A Republican of 150 years ago was likely to be a Liberal just as a Democrat of that time was likely to be a Conservative. The KKK was founded by Conservatives who happened to be members of the Democratic Party. They were white supremacists and they were ugly human beings and their actions were in absolutely no way defensible. They were violent, reprehensible troglodytes, and they are nothing like we Liberals in MoveOn. I have never heard of a single MoveOn event where someone was targeted by the organization for violence. Yet that was the entire purpose of the KKK getting together – to direct violence against someone. And whether they think it matters or not, it is a fact that Trump has the support of many of the major groups today who believe in that for which the KKK stands. Even State Senator David Duke (R-LA) supports Trump. David Duke would never join an organization like MoveOn. I cannot conceive of how anyone with an IQ in the three-digit range would equate MoveOn with the KKK, so I have to believe Lord does not have one.

Based on nothing but Hinderaker’s character assassination of DiMassimo, Lord then declares that he is “absolutely typical of the American Left.” He also points out that DiMassimo’s a Bernie Sanders supporter, but if he’s “typical” of the American Left and he supports Sanders, why is Hillary Clinton ahead in the delegate count? But I digress. Lord goes on to give a distorted history which paints all liberal activists as violent (because of the few violent actions of a few extremist liberal groups) before circling back to the Klan as being liberal. Then he tries to paint us as the racist ones by completely mischaracterizing and distorting an article he quoted. When students at the University of Illinois Chicago decided to organize a protest against the appearance of Donald Trump, MoveOn “chipped in money to get signs and a banner printed and blasted out an email to members in the Chicago area encouraging them to join the protest.” The protest was promoted on Facebook and about 1.5 million people saw it. Out of that number, about 1% pledged to show up. The end result of the protesters’ efforts was the last-minute cancellation of the event, out of a misplaced fear for the candidate’s safety. But that’s not the way Lord chose to frame it. “Got all that? MoveOn.org, in the finest traditions of the Klan, organized a mass shutdown that was specifically directed to people because of their race.” If that’s what you got then you didn’t read the same story I did. MoveOn did not organize that protest as the story he quoted clearly said. His proof that this was “directed to people because of their race” is the sentence “Hundreds of young, largely black and brown people poured in from across the city, taking over whole sections of the arena and bracing for trouble.” Note the logical fallacy he employs: Just because hundreds of people of color showed up to protest the event, the call for the protest must have been directed only at people of color. Then there’s the idea that when the KKK organized something directed at people because of their race, it was done for the exact same reason, and with the exact same level of support of those people, as when MoveOn organized an event specifically directed at people of color, even though they did no such thing. MoveOn didn’t organize the event, and they didn’t direct their efforts to people of color. And if MoveOn ever WERE to direct their organizing at people of color, it wouldn’t be for the purpose of killing and lynching them, or setting fire to their homes. But that is how people like Jeffrey Lord and John Hinderaker see us. Because it’s what THEY would do.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the KKK, Hinderaker, Lord, Trump, or anybody else like them.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 14th, 2016: Cuteness Trumps Evil At The End

This weekend I OD’d on Trump. And jelly beans. I’m not sure which made me feel worse.

I refuse to watch any of the myriad videos of Hair Drumpf that have dominated the internets over the past, well, forever it seems. As I have mentioned in comments elsewhere, being a lifelong New Yorker means, in part, that we’ve been exposed to toxic levels of NY’s own version of Agent Orange since long before “Celebrity Apprentice” existed. Having long ago dismissed Drumpf à l’Orange as a loud-mouthed, self-important asshole, it’s frightening to see so many people taken in by this vulgar charlatan. Especially if one looks at his mouth. It appears to have been shaped over a lifetime of angrily hurling bullying insults and orders. How can anyone look at Drumpf “speaking” without being disgusted and horrified?

Here’s a shot from a thread at ThinkProgress:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

The next few are from various threads at Raw Story:

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this GIF.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this ‘Trump Snarling’ GIF.

But enough ugliness, even for a Monday. Here’s some cuteness to counteract the face if evil:
cat star

And perhaps a little tranquility for the end of the day:
SKYFIRE4V

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever’s on your mind.

Sunday Roast: What the…what??

via RawStory

At a rally in Florida, the GOP front-runner, Donald “Drumpf” Trump, encouraged people to raise their right hands with a promise to  vote for him in the upcoming primary.  Yes, the photo above is real, and people didn’t have a problem, or didn’t understand the horrible historical significance, of a large crowd raising their hands in such a way.

Yeah, I know, Godwin’s Law and all that, but COME ON.  Doesn’t the photo of the Drumpf rally make you all squirmy inside — and not in a good way?

Is Drumpf just trolling these ignorant people, so he can have a laugh later on with the wife and kids?  Or is Drumpf actually that friggin’ stupid?  And do I really want to know either way…?

Here’s what Drumpf said, while wagging his stubby little finger, after he got all the rubes to do their clueless Nazi imitations:

“Don’t forget you all raised your hand,” Trump said at the conclusion of the pledge. “You swore. Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”

He’s finished talking to people at a fourth grade level — now he’s down to speaking on a pre-school level — which seems appropriate since toddlers, much like Drumpf, tend to “say what they think,” too.

I weep for this country…

This is our daily open thread — Sorry, not sorry.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 5th, 2016: This Land Is Still Our Land

I’ve written before about the emails from the American Land Rights Association that somehow end up coming to my office, and how Charles Cushman has been involved with the Hammonds, the scofflaws whose imprisonment for starting fires on federal land provided the match that started the Malheur Wildlife Refuge ‘insurrection.’

Earlier this week another ‘newsletter’ email arrived, containing, in part, the following:

War In The West, the Hammond Story
Stop Land and Water Conservation Fund

The War In The West: Time To Stop Federal Land Acquisition

Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research 1/15/16

Media attention on the plight of Dwight and Steven Hammond in Burns, Oregon — sent to prison as “terrorists” — has focused more on the activities of some who have come to their “support” than on the cause of the broad-based unhappiness with the federal government.

But first it is important to clarify the Hammonds’ “crime.” Most reports note they were prosecuted for arson on federal lands. They were prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, passed following the 1995 bombing of the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Bombing a federal building is an act of terrorism. Burning 140 acres of grass, sagebrush and weeds to halt wildfires and remove invasive brush is not terrorism.

Ranchers, farmers, foresters and miners homesteaded the West, often before government reached that far, or states or counties were created. The successors of these landowners are today surrounded by a sea of federal lands. Across the West over half the land and resources are owned by the federal government. In Oregon it owns 53 percent of the land, and 75 percent in Harney County, home of Burns and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The county is over 10,000 square miles in size, larger than nine states. With a population of barely 7,000 people, it is effectively a federal colony, controlled and administered by the federal government.

The federal government owns 85 percent of the state of Nevada and 64 percent of both Utah and Idaho — effectively making rural landowners little more than serfs, precluding utilization of natural resources, reducing the tax base and impoverishing local and county governments, which are then unable to fund schools and police…

Evermore onerous government regulations make it difficult for landowners to use their lands and often next to impossible to cross the government lands on historic rights-of-way for access to water and grazing lands. Selective enforcement of laws like the Endangered Species Act can prevent landowners from using land that has no endangered species, but does have habitat the species could use if they were there…

Yet even with this hegemonic control of the rural West, the federal government continues to acquire more land. It is expert at making regulatory harassment so onerous that eventually farmers and ranchers simply give up and sell out to the government — becoming what the Feds euphemistically refer to as “willing sellers.”

Anger against such treatment arose during the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s, when state governments demanded a return of their land and resources and equality with states in the East. That opposition to federal ownership was tempered by the Reagan Administration’s easing of the regulatory regime.

But as the federal government has accelerated its efforts to acquire more land and force people off their lands, mounting opposition and calls for change have flourished. Another Sagebrush Rebellion is underway, headed by counties and state legislatures. Several Western states have introduced legislation demanding the return of their lands. Both houses in Utah have passed such legislation and Governor Herbert has signed the law.

It is time to place a moratorium on any additional land acquisition by the federal government, to undertake an inventory of government landownership at all levels, and to begin taking steps towards devolution of federal ownership and return the lands and resources to responsible and caring ownership and stewardship. This would not threaten genuine environmental amenities and values.

America has a long tradition of successful private ownership of wildlife refuges, parks, and forests. If, for instance, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were owned by a conservation organization, such as an Audubon Society, it would not be able to bully and harass its farming and ranching neighbors who willingly share their lands with the wildlife, but would have to deal with them in a legal and peaceful manner — while still protecting the wildlife.

It is ironic that Americans are still fighting colonial subjugation by a hegemonic government — located now in Washington, D.C., rather that England. James Madison wrote: “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort.” That is what Oregon is really about.”

There was a lot more about related topics, but the above is enough for the time being. The missive ends with:

“Google Alert: 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.”

Well, actually, no you CAN’T find additional information, because if you type in those search terms, they all lead back to the American Land Rights Association–some directly, some by a more circuitous route. I tried to do a bit more digging.

According to Buzzfile, the “Business Description” of the American Land Rights Association is:

“American Land Rights Association, which also operates under the name National Inholders Association, is located in Battle Ground, Washington. This organization primarily operates in the Business Associations business / industry within the Membership Organizations sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 44 years. American Land Rights Association is estimated to generate $500,000 in annual revenues, and employs approximately 6 people at this single location.”

Okay…so what does the category “Membership Organization” mean?

“The Membership Organizations sector covers 7 categories including Professional Organizations, Labor Organizations, and Political Organizations.

[Emphasis mine.]

Alright…a little more digging…how about, who is the “League of Private Property Voters”?

VoteSmart.Org says:

“Description:
“LPPV is a coalition of more than 800 grassroots organizations that advocate the rights of property owners, including farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, residents of rural communities, owners of recreational property, and inholders of private property located within and adjacent to federal lands. It also includes cabin permittees, off-road vehicle owners, equestrians, snowmobilers, hunters and recreational shooters, and livestock grazers, foresters and miners who make productive use of federal lands.”

I found a ‘biography’ of Mr. Cushman – a bit outdated, but quite telling – oh, and this ‘biography’ has him at “Property Rights Foundation of America”(R):

“April 1999
Chuck Cushman is the executive director of the American Land Rights Association (ALRA), formerly the National Inholders Association, which is a public interest advocacy organization that works to protect landowners across America who are affected by various growth management schemes as well as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act (wetlands) and other Federal land use regulatory laws.

Mr. Cushman is also the Chairman of the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV), which was organized in 1990 to develop and publish the Private Property Congressional Vote Index, a Congressional vote scorecard designed to let the public know how each Congressman and Senator voted on important land-use issues. Almost 500,000 copies were distributed in 1996.

Referred to in various press reports as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot,” Mr. Cushman has worked over 24 years to help local communities get on the political playing field and compete effectively with Federal agencies and extreme environmental groups who seek to eliminate private uses and public access from “their” lands. He is widely respected for his successful leadership of local communities against those groups and individuals who seek to remove inholders and multiple-users by condemnation or whatever other means they can achieve.

He has written numerous articles on inholder rights; lectured at colleges and universities; appeared as an expert guest on Late Night America, Today on NBC, All Things Considered on public radio, CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC news; been a subject of segments of 60 Minutes, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and CNN Presents; has been featured in numerous national magazines regarding land-use issues; appeared as guest speaker before hundreds of multiple-use and private property advocacy groups and political interest organizations.

ALRA and LPPV have become significant players in land use and private property issues throughout the United States. ALRA has 18,000 members in 50 states and is acknowledged as a successful advocate for property owners and users of Federal and state lands in all manner of natural resource areas across America.”

If they’re the same organization, and it appears that they are, how have ALRA and LPPV “become significant players” – especially when, as I found in my previous post on ALRA, there appears to be only two employees, one of whom is Charles Cushman?

I next tried looking into the National Center for Public Policy Research. Wikipedia says:

“NCPPR’s work is in the areas of environmental, retirement security, regulatory, economic, and foreign affairs. Particular areas of interest include global warming, endangered species, energy policy, environmental justice, property rights, legal reform, Medicare reform, health care, Social Security, civil rights, foreign affairs/defense and United Nations reform/withdrawal…

NCPPR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, whose object is described as “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”.

Amy Moritz Ridenour was and is still, as far as I can tell, the president of NCPPR. Amy has previously been on the wrong side of some major issues, i.e., writing op-eds on behalf of Big Tobacco. And, boy howdy, look who used to be a board member of the NCPPR: the infamous Jack Abramoff, lobbyist extraordinaire.

“Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was a member of NCPPR’s Board of Directors; he resigned in October 2004 after NCPPR’s Board of Directors concluded he had violated the organization’s conflict of interest policy.

In October 2002, Abramoff directed the Mississippi Band of Choctaws to give $1 million to NCPPR, and then told Amy Ridenour to distribute the funds to Capital Athletic Foundation ($450,000), Capitol Campaign Strategies ($500,000) and Nurnberger and Associates ($50,000). In June 2003, Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed Abramoff, sent $1.5 million to NCPPR, of which Ridenour distributed $250,000 to Capital Athletic Foundation and the remainder to Kay Gold LLC, both controlled by Abramoff. Ridenour said in testimony that she believed Abramoff co-conspirator Michael Scanlon was the owner of Kay Gold (Kaygold).

The Wiki page for Amy Ridenour includes:

“According to Nina Easton’s Gang of Five, Amy Moritz was a veteran organizer of the College Republican National Committee. She was a candidate in 1981 for election as national chairman of the organization, opposed by Jack Abramoff.
Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist persuaded Moritz to drop out of the race by promising her the appointed position of executive director. With the only serious competitor out of the way, Abramoff won the election easily.

Although Moritz was later rebuffed by the “Abramoff-Norquist-Reed triumvirate” and only given the titular position of “deputy director”, she continued to work with the group and became a good friend of Norquist. Abramoff would also later become a director of the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

Lastly, on a whim, I decided to simply put in a search for “Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research” – and laughed when the only relevant result was a link to the same diatribe that ALRA sent, as posted at – wait for it – The Daily Caller.

The kicker was a comment posted at the Daily Caller thread by none other than Amy Ridenour:

Amy Ridenour [to] Esef Brewer • 2 months ago
You’re not the most clever bird in the nest, are you? Try hunting and fishing or even walking on many federal lands sometime and learn the hard way.

One might have thought that someone who helped bilk Native American tribes out of millions of dollars really shouldn’t be commenting about “federal lands” on a public forum…but then, The Daily Caller isn’t all that popular a public forum, which means that Amy is right at home there.

This is our daily Open Thread – I’ve had enough delving for today, now it’s your turn to talk.

May I have a Word?

 

And here, for all its likeness with current events, is where it isn’t funny anymore:

Donald Trump is well under way to win the nomination and probably split up the Republican Party in the process. I don’t want to give Trump more exposure, to be honest, whatever I read or see from that man nauseates and even scares me. I have a few words for you all, though.

There are boundaries in the political discourse that cannot be crossed. Period.

The political opponent is neither a con artist, a choke artist, a liar, nor lacking control of his bodily functions. Alluding to a candidate’s hands’size is well beyond those boundaries, too, because it alludes not really to trustworthiness but rather the man’s penis size in common lore. Even that didn’t stop one of the competitors.

The poor are not moochers, Mexicans are not rapists, doctors are not baby killers, Muslims are not terrorists.

The President is not a traitor, a liar, impeachable for any reason, nor is he destroying the country.

Supreme Court judges are not activist or traitors, nor are their rulings  unconstitutional.

Free speech is a privilege not only a constitutional right. Why  would I think that?

Because words matter.

When you denigrate a candidate you tear down your party and the political process to find a worthy nominee for President. If you gratuitously insult a President, you diminish the office. If you dismiss Supreme Court rulings and the judges, you attack the constitution itself. All three acts tear at the fabric of your Democracy and its institutions by making them less relevant and less worthy of defense.

When you go and summarily denigrate your fellow humans, don’t worry about your democracy anymore, you are on a path that ends in bloodshed for certain and possibly genocide.

I am scared of what is coming. Things over here are not much better. Today refugees were teargassed at the European border, amongst them children as young as five. I am scared and I am deeply ashamed, too.

The Watering Hole: Monday, February 22, 2016: Your Gun Is Dangerous After All

According to the website Gun Violence Archive there has been a shooting incident or spree in which at least four people have died almost every single month since January 2014, the furthest back their site’s statistics go. And where last month’s mass shooting involved one family member killing five others before taking his own life during police negotiations, this past weekend’s incident in Kalamazoo, MI, involved someone apparently shooting people at random. That’s even worse. As tragic as the family shooting was, if you weren’t related to them (or living next door), odds are you were never in any danger. But the Uber driver who killed six seven and injured two another in between passenger pickups should scare the crap right out of you, because there was no rhyme or reason to how his victims were chosen. The only comforting thing is that he was caught so quickly, unlike the DC Beltway Sniper who terrorized people in the capital area for three weeks in October 2002 (during the time that President George W. Bush supposedly “kept us safe,” as certain delusional people like to keep repeating.) You only heard about this latest mass shooting because: A) it was the latest incident of a mass shooting out of far too many in this country, and B) more than one person died, unlike the other multiple shootings incidents that happened the same day.

We’re not even talking here about people shot and killed by our own police forces, which The Guardian is kind enough to keep track of for us here. We’re just talking about every day civilian Americans going nuts and shooting people. It’s become so common place now to hear of multiple people shot and killed that unless we personally know one of the victims, it doesn’t even bother us anymore. We almost never hear about the thousands who were single victims of their gun-toting killers. And unless they were famous celebrities battling the evil demons of depression, we hear even less of the nearly twice as many people who took their own lives by gun. (Would it surprise you to know that a suicide by gun happens about once every thirty minutes?) Regardless of the ultimate reasons for their use, each of these gun deaths had one undeniable fact in common: each involved the use of a gun. Now there are those who are ready to debunk just about any statistic you can name for whether or not things are safer due to the incredible proliferation of easily acquired guns in this country, but you cannot argue that each and every one of these deaths would have happened by some other method, and in the same incident, and the resulting number of deaths would have been unchanged. That is easily false. Certainly at least some, whether a majority or not is irrelevant but certainly a non-trivial percentage, of those gun deaths happened just because a gun was available to use. Many gun supporters argue that guns are not dangerous. This is pure bullshit. Besides the few dozen or so people killed by toddlers and pets around guns, there’s the point that guns are dangerous for many of the same reasons nuclear weapons are dangerous. Yes, both could “accidentally” go off and kill someone (or several thousand someones) nearby. But there’s a reason we don’t want other potentially hostile countries to have nuclear weapons: because they may have, or could soon have, a means of firing them at us from the safety of their own country elsewhere on the planet. Despite what then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said in testimony, we did not learn on September 11, 2001, that our oceans no longer protected us. We learned that the day we learned the USSR (a country on which she was supposed to be an expert, but who did not foresee its collapse) possessed intercontinental ballistic missiles, with the nuclear warheads to put on top of them. They were able to kill or harm us from across the planet, just like someone with a gun can kill or harm you from across the room or street, and not have to put themselves in close proximity to you, where you might be able to take their weapon away from them. THAT is why guns are dangerous. I might be physically bigger and stronger than you, but if you can kill me before I can get close enough to punch that smarmy look-who’s-the-big-buy-now grin off your Shkreli-like face I’m not likely to survive an attack on you in self-defense. Without the gun, and possibly even with another hand weapon, you wouldn’t be as dangerous to me. It’s the gun that increases the danger.

Again, how can anyone argue guns are not dangerous? If guns aren’t dangerous, why do we make sure almost every soldier sent off to a war zone is equipped with a gun of some variety? Of what use are they in a confrontation with the enemy? Why don’t we give our soldiers headed to the Middle East buttons that say, “Ask me about my Saluki”? Why do the people we face in conflict often use guns if they’re not dangerous? Besides killing people, of what use are hand guns? You don’t hunt with them. You could use hand guns for target practice at a shooting range, but that would beg the question, “Why are you doing that?” You could properly answer with something about self-defense against bad guys with guns. So I ask if you would be shooting to kill them? If not, then why do you need a gun? And if so, then you’ve proven my point about what use they are. So if we agree they have no other purpose but to kill, then why are they not dangerous? Yes, people use things other than guns to kill one another and, yes, more people use bats and hammers to bludgeon people to death than use rifles, but rifles aren’t hand guns, and most of the other things people used to kill had been made for some other intended non-homicidal purpose. Not so with guns. Guns are made to kill. That’s their appeal to you people who own them. That’s the reason you keep them. Are you going to threaten an intruder with something non-lethal, or would you prefer to make the intruder think his life was in danger? Oh, wait, there’s that word again. Danger. Because of a gun. Which is supposedly not dangerous. Sorry, but the argument that guns are not dangerous just doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny and critical thinking. If guns weren’t dangerous, you gun owners wouldn’t feel safer carrying one around with you, would you? But if you carry one on your person somewhere, even concealed, now you’ll feel that YOU are a danger to bad guys who might try to pull something off in front of you. Which means your gun is dangerous after all.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss guns or anything else you wish to discuss.