With all due respect to Victor Hugo…
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
Speaker of the House, acting like a king,
but can’t control the crazy anti-science wing.
Most of them are old, some of them are kooks,
some of them are hanging out with David Duke.
Nobody really likes the orange man,
not many people call him friend,
He’s long ago outstayed his welcome,
but God, if he won’t be there ‘til the end!
Speaker of the House, quick to catch your eye,
never wants a Fox News Host to pass him by.
He pisses off the blacks, his men are full of hate,
thinking all minorities are second rate.
Will do anything to screw Obama,
even if it don’t make sense.
and if you really think about it,
Boehner’s kind of freaking dense!
Charge em for the stamps, extra for the tramps,
get them riled up about the FEMA camps.
Here a little slice, there a little cut,
Gotta keep the new health exchanges shut.
It doesn’t matter what the folks want,
He only cares if you are rich,
Otherwise, he won’t listen,
and wish you were lying in a ditch.
Speaker of the House, doesn’t have a clue,
always needs the Kochs to tell him what to do.
Obamacare repeal, another wasted dime,
gotta do this for the fifty-seventh time.
If you don’t agree with his views,
then you are useless Liberal scum.
He has no time for evil commies,
the folks who would be Stalin’s chum.
Speaker of the House, doesn’t really think,
twiddling his thumbs while his approval shrinks.
Doesn’t have a plan, not much of a man,
But no one ever doubts he’s got a wicked tan.
Got to hold the line on immigration,
Wants to shut the border down,
Then he gets a huge ovation,
But he’ll always be a freaking clown!
Its scary how the religious right is trying to undermine our constitution. Frank Schaeffer talks about how helped the GOP start their war on the public schools, before he saw the light.
As someone who participated in the rise of the religious right in the 1970s and 1980s, I can tell you that you can’t understand the modern Republican Party and its hatred of government unless you understand the evangelical home-school movement. Nor can the Democrats hope to defeat the GOP in 2016 unless they grasp what I’ll be explaining here: religious war carried on by other means.
The Christian home-school movement drove the Evangelical school movement to the ever-harsher world-rejecting far right. The movement saw itself as separating from evil “secular” America. Therein lies the heart of the Tea Party, GOP and religious right’s paranoid view of the rest of us. And since my late father and evangelist Francis Schaeffer and I were instrumental in starting the religious right — I have since left the movement and recently wrote a book titled “Why I Am an Atheist who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace” - believe me when I tell you that the evangelical schools and home school movement were, by design, founded to undermine a secular and free vision of America and replace it by stealth with a form of theocracy.
I’d never heard of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) until about an hour ago when a book on Amazon with an unusual title (Islam Is a Foreign Country) piqued my interest. It just so happened that its author, Zareena Grewal, turned out to be the (former) director of the Center, so I went looking to see who they were. Here’s what I found:
ISPU is an independent, nonpartisan think tank and research organization committed to conducting objective, empirical research and offering expert policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States. These issues include U.S. foreign policy, national security, the economy, and public health. In addition, ISPU has assembled leading experts across multiple disciplines and built a solid reputation as a trusted source for information about American Muslims and Muslim communities around the world. […]
More: ISPU - Who We Are
I also checked out the site to see who was on their Board of Directors, Board of Advisors, staff, and scholars (under Experts). Yes, I’m very cautious these days because there are too many so-called “scholars” and “specialists” who are little more than paid hacks of the Islamophobia industry. Then there are the Muslim concern trolls who only ever show up on Fox News & CNN (especially after terrorist attacks or when they’re hawking one of their books) or who are hired by right-wing outfits like the Gatestone Institute, where they rub shoulders with some of the worst, most hateful anti-Muslim mouthpieces.
There are also some rather extreme Muslims out there, so there’s the concern about anyone known for their antisemitic views. I didn’t see any names that set off alarms, and the article “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia Surge in Europe” put my mind at rest on that particular matter.
I found their Islamophobia: A Threat to All page especially interesting as it offers three research publications for download. Towards the bottom of the page, under the heading “Existing ISPU Research on Islamophobia”, it also provides PDFs of some (slightly) older, but still very relevant topics.
The Issues section covers such topics as American Muslims, European Muslims. the Middle East, South Asia, US Politics, National Security, the Economy, Public Health, and of course there’s a 9/11 Series.
Last but not least, is the Publications section. There, in addition to the first volume of ISPU Insights (a biannual publication that highlights things they’ve been working on throughout the year), you’ll find sections for Reports. Policy Briefs, Articles and Books.
It was under Policy Briefs that I found the PDF below, which this Page takes its title from and which I thought might be of particular interest to quite a few of you here. The author, Asifa Quraishi-Landes, does a great job of articulating what Sharia is (and isn’t) as well as explaining what’s required in terms of scholarship for reform to happen that will be accepted by most Muslims (i.e. the mainstream, not the far-left progressives who are much smaller in number and tend to lack the gravitas and credibility—in an Islamic context—required for them to be considered a serious catalyst for change).
I think most of you will find the ISPU website to be a very useful resource when struggling to understand certain aspects of Islam and the Muslim worldview. Sure, there is a shared foundation, but there are many other factors that influence that worldview: where one was raised/lives, whether one was born into a Muslim family or is a convert (most of whose immediate family members are probably not Muslim), why and at what point in life one converted, not to mention one’s socioeconomic background, education level, individual personality, etc.
Alright, I’ll stop yakking now and let you move on to reading the PDF and/or exploring the website (I’ve only barely scratched the surface myself—there’s a LOT of info there). Hope this helps a little.
I forgot to post this link earlier this week. Its a webcomic I wanted to upload, but it exceeded the 500k limit. That’s because the artist went all out on this episode with two huge full color panels, only to set-up a joke in the third b&w panel. So I had to settle for sharing the link alone. (because I’ve never done that before ;)
Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure this series is technically SFW. However, the humor is not always for “all” audiences. I’d say roughly pg-13-ish give-or-take. This particular episode I’ve linked to is just politics though. I recommend seeing at least this one.
The developments in Israel’s internal political drama have reached a new high today, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has essentially set in motion the end of the current government and paved the road for elections in 2015:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided Tuesday to fire Yesh Atid leader Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Hatnua leader Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
Netanyahu instructed Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday evening to issue termination letters to the two senior ministers, citing constant criticism aimed at him and his government from both Livni and Lapid.
“In recent weeks, including the last 24 hours, Ministers Lapid and Livni harshly attacked the government I’m heading.
I won’t tolerate any more opposition within the government, I won’t tolerate ministers attacking from within the government the government’s policies and its leader,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu has just called for the Knesset’s dissolution as soon as possible “so that we can head to elections and get a clear mandate from the people to lead the country”.
Update: A motion to dismiss the Knesset has been scheduled for tomorrow (3/12), after which Israeli elections will officially be on their way.
A bit of commentary:
Netanyahu’s decision to fire the senior ministers is apparently unprecedented, and there hasn’t been a political eruption of this magnitude in Israel in many years, perhaps even decades.
Both Livni and Lapid are heads of political parties and partners in the Israeli government’s Coalition of parties. While Livni’s Hatnuah (The Movement) party is small, Lapid’s Yesh Atid (There’s a Future) party was voted the second largest political party in the 2013 elections, coming in second after Netanyahu’s Likud Beitenu party - a coalition between the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel is Our Home”) headed by Avigdor Liberman, a long-time partner of Netanyahu.
As it seems now, the firing of both senior ministers is seems to be nothing short of a death sentence for any cooperation between the previously reluctant political partners. Lapid’s centralist party joined with Netanyahu’s right-wing party after the 2013 elections, amid considerable complaints from voters who wanted Lapid to work with the Labor party (which refused to join a Netanyahu administration and remained in the Knesset opposition).
The recent turmoil has been the result of Netanyahu (and the Likud’s) opposition to several laws aimed at improving the conditions of the Israeli middle and low classes - the platform on which Lapid’s movement ran its entire election campaign. Despite an overall sense of dissatisfaction with Lapid, the majority of Israel’s population supports the efforts he’s proposed, especially one known as the ‘Zero VAT’ law, a housing bill aimed at making it easier for families to purchase houses and apartments (a major social issue in Israel, where real estates costs have risen nation-wide and construction opportunities have been insufficient). Netanyahu, it seems, wanted the popular proposal gutted - which based on surveys would have consigned Lapid’s entire party to an early grave in future elections.
If in fact the passing of the Zero VAT law has been culled due to this decision, it may end up resulting in public backlash directed at Netanyahu; This could spell trouble in coming elections, made considerably worse by the fact that the elections will may also feature the end of the Likud/Yisrael Beitenu coalition (which played a crucial role in Netanyahu’s 2013 victory).
Yep, the Okie from Muskogee guy. Right wing freakout any moment now.
After being honored at the White House for his lifetime achievements in the performing arts and outstanding contributions to American culture, Merle Haggard is forming an opinion about President Barack Obama based on character, not political agenda. The 73-year-old country legend, who has actually visited the White House as a guest of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan in years past, made an appearance in Washington D.C. for the 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors. While there, he mingled with the President, the President’s wife and several other notable honorees.
“It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they [the media] do with our President,” Haggard tells Rolling Stone. “There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down.”
How does this play out? Based on the belief that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.
There are a bunch of horror stories like this of women with absolutely no intention of aborting their pregnancy being arrested/detained/forced to give birth via cesarean. All in the name of personhood.
These are not isolated or rare cases. Last year, we published a peer-reviewed study documenting 413 arrests or equivalent actions depriving pregnant women of their physical liberty during the 32 years between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 2005. In a majority of these cases, women who had no intention of ending a pregnancy went to term and gave birth to a healthy baby. This includes the many cases where the pregnant woman was alleged to have used some amount of alcohol or a criminalized drug.
Since 2005, we have identified an additional 380 cases, with more arrests occurring every week. This significant increase coincides with what the Guttmacher Institute describes as a “seismic shift” in the number of states with laws hostile to abortion rights.
Mark Strauss debunks some serious right wing, anti government, anti science, nonsense.
Over the last five years, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has published an annual Wastebook, documenting what he considers the 100 most wasteful federal projects. This year he got a lot of media mileage by ridiculing several science grants—which, in fact, were among the cheapest and most worthwhile projects on his hit list.
Coburn and his staff spend time every year ferreting out which research projects will sound the most ludicrous. Their descriptions include enough accurate information so that they can’t be characterized as lies.
But they leave out so many facts that they can’t be characterized as truth, either.
Nonetheless, media outlets got a good laugh by parroting the talking points, without putting any effort into looking at whether any of these projects were more than they seemed. Coburn’s Wastebook often didn’t provide any specific critiques, beyond bad puns about government waste.
Normally, I’d shrug it off as just more spin. But, the Wastebook got a lot of publicity at a time when Congressional Republicans have made science grants the scapegoats for out-of-control government spending—when, in fact, they represent barely a fraction of the billions of dollars spent on projects that actually need oversight.
So, here are some fixes in the Wastebook, by providing actual information on three of the science grants that got a lot of attention.