The New Union Busting Tactic…Just Drown ’em in Paperwork…


Who is Grover Norquist? He is a GOP hack conservative anti-union lobbyist and President of the tax lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist, along with Bill Kristol, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Clint Bolick and David McIntosh is one of the so-called “Gang of Five” identified in Nina Easton‘s 2000 book by that name, which gives a history of leaders of the modern conservative movement.

They are all anti-union at their core of mud.  

Every dollar that is spent [by labor unions] on disclosure and reporting is a dollar that can’t be spent on other labor union activities.

Grover Norquist

Well, at least Grover was honest about his motivation for strangling labor unions, and a new in depth report from the Center For American Progress, shows that’s not the case with most of the partisan Republican hacks who have been directed by their corporate masters to drown unions in paperwork.

The CAP report details what all union officials already know. Over the past five or six years, the Bush Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards has systematically and dramatically increased the financial reporting burden faced by labor unions.  Now, no real unionist is opposed to transparency and sensible reporting – but the reporting requirements imposed by the Bush administration have little to do with transparency, and everything to do with forcing unions to waste time and money jumping through hoops.  

Here are some passages from the report: 

Lax regulatory enforcement, however, has not been a government-wide policy. In at least one instance, rigorous and in fact pernicious regulatory enforcement was the course chosen by the Bush administration. That instance involved the regulatory authorities of the U.S. Department of Labor under the Landrum Griffin Act aimed at improving the governance of the nation’s organized labor organizations.

Rather than relax these regulatory responsibilities, the Bush administration shoveled significantly more federal tax dollars into the department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards so that key political operatives in OLMS could expand and exercise regulatory authority to:

-Impose costly and confusing new reporting requirements
-Attempt to increase the number of criminal prosecutions
-Disclose the results to the public in seriously misleading ways
-Mis-characterize the published data through a variety of false analyses

The underlying purpose, of course, is to undermine the reputation of the labor union movement through a classic political misinformation campaign-all under the supervision of a lifelong partisan political operative whose career has been dedicated to the destruction of his political opponents.

Read the whole report here…

Make no mistake. Any conservative who says they are pro-union is lying to your face. I haven’t met a genuine conservative labor supporter yet. Unions and union bebefits eat at the almighty profit margin, and we all know Bush won’t have any of that. This report frames the perpetual greed and complete lack of respect that conservatives have for the American worker. They outsource our jobs, force wages downward, and bust unions all in the name of profit.

Just ask anyone who works at Wal-Mart.

The ideology and actions of the so-called “Gang of Five” is pathetic, short-sighted and patently anti-American. Little do they realize that the artificial pressure they endorse that is strangling unions will ultimately backfire as more and more American workers are realizing that they’re employers are not working in their best interest, only their own.

The cycle will come full circle…it is already beginning. 


Bush Comments on Past Alcoholism…but Curious Behavior Still Surounds Him…


President Bush offered rare public comments yesterday on his past problems with alcohol, President Bush said that he had never been a “knee-walking drunk,” but that “I doubt I’d be standing here if I hadn’t quit drinking whiskey, and beer, and wine and all that.”

Bush has previously said he often drank too much as a young man, and that he quit drinking in 1986 after overindulging on his 40th birthday.

There was also the cocaine rumor that was never verified…

Shortly before the 2000 presidential election, news surfacedhe was arrested in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol near his parents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Bush went on the say, “Alcohol can compete with your affections. It sure did in my case – affections with your family, or affections for exercise.” 

“It was the competition that I decided just wasn’t worth it.”

He also maintained he has not had a drink of alcohol in 21 years since he quit, and said he’s a “better man for it.”

Although sometimes I do wonder about that last part. Let’s face it, there have been many occasions over the past few years where Bush has looked drunk, medicated, stoned, or all three!

Take last year’s G8 summit.

If you take Bush’s quotes and separate them from other world leaders, he sounds just like a whiskey drunk. 

“Gotta go home. Gotta do sumthin’ tonight. Get ona plane. Go home. It’s a long flight. How long is your flight? That’s a long flight. Your country is big. His country is big too.”


I’ve heard this kind of language before…out of some mindless drunk who can’t shut up. Bush just kept running his mouth off, totally disconnected from the non-verbal clues of the people around him.

It was more of the same at the G8 press conference. Bush couldn’t stop talking about the pig roast. It didn’t matter what anyone asked him, he just kept saying whatever his soaked brain was looping on, in this case, the pig.

There was also a time he went to Canada and couldn’t get off the subject of the mouth one of the Canadian Prime Minister’s staff members! “You’ve got a purty mouth.” Not once but several times. “You’ve sure got a purty mouth.” And, “Your mouth is prettier than my Scott’s mouth.”

Who does this outside of dive bars? 

At meeting with leaders he routinely sits slouched back in his chair, like a guy at a barbecue on his second or third 6 pack, chomping on his food with his mouth open, and making minimal effort to keep up his end of the conversation.

Then there was the presidential debate with John Kerry. Remember that fiasco. The lectern was literally holding the guy up. 

Most world leaders seem to act very restrained and controlled around Bush, maintaining a public facade of geniality while holding back from actually being engaged with him. What seems to be courtesy from many diplomats may actually be them trying to get through the fog around Bush as they work to penetrate some kind of lucidness.

Bush’s social modus operandi with everyone, seems to be overuse of meaningless language, forced jocularity and fake intimacy to foster a relationship that does not exist.

Like a drunk, no one really wants to be around him.

No drinks in 21 years Mr. President? I wonder about that indeed.

Although, it would surely explain some of his policy decisions and verbal gaffs, now wouldn’t it?

Jesus Sells Out at Wal-Mart (Update)…


There’s been much written about the scarcity of Nintendo’s Wii this holiday season, but last week Wal-Mart sold out of another popular toy: the Talking Jesus Messenger of Faith doll. The 12-inch doll is made by one2believe of Valencia, Calif., which also sells Nativity scenes and other Bible action figures such as Samson and Goliath Spirit Warriors.

 Check out our last Jesus at Wal-Mart post here

The toys were sold at about 600 Wal-Mart stores and online at 

Almost 20 percent of the Wal-Mart stores that sell Talking Jesus are in Texas, as you may have imagined.

Norma Venning was surprised to encounter Mary, Moses and Noah in the toy aisle of her local Wal-Mart on a recent morning, but there was no sign of Jesus – the son of God had already sold out.

“I didn’t even know it existed. I think it’s a wonderful idea,” the retired school worker said of Tales of Glory, a line of talking, Bible-based dolls on the shelf at the Wal-Mart off Battlefield Boulevard.

For the first time, the world’s largest retailer is stocking a full line of faith-based toys along with its usual cast – including a GI Joe Combat Squad action figure with a gun the size of his body, and a 3-foot remote-control concept car dubbed “Big Time Muscle.”

Wal-Mart is test-marketing the posable figures in 425 locations; two are in Chesapeake and one is in Virginia Beach.

Toys like the “Deluxe Aggression” and “Fury Unmatched” wrestling figures a couple aisles over are the kind that Jesus, with his pointable plastic index fingers, homespun tunic and velvet sandals, was put here to counter – or perhaps…maybe to save?

Jesus’ maker, David Socha (be careful you might offend some of the fundamentalist Christians with that kind of talk), said he created the biblical toys to give girls an alternative to dolls in G-strings and boys a source of amusement not modeled on “demons” and “spawns of Satan.”

Even though spawns of Satan are cool…besides, did these people forget that the bible is packed with violence?

Socha has an answer for that of course…

“The Bible’s full of violence, but I don’t think violence is glorified in the Bible,” said Socha, CEO of California-based one2believe. “When I was growing up, I was always GI Joe. I was never the bad guy. Now, I think some kids are playing the bad guy. We’re trying to bring wholesomeness back.”

Yeah, because Wal-Mart is all about charity and wholesomeness.

But the biblical figures aren’t just about redeeming the toy box: Sales of Christian products topped $4.5 billion last year.

Josh Livingston, a spokesman for one2believe, said his firm manufactured more than 100,000 figures, and expects the hottest sellers, Jesus and Mary, to be sold out before Christmas. The dolls also are available online at (but not in Target stores) and at

The Wal-Marts stocking the dolls are mostly in the Midwest and South (go figure), including 20 stores in Virginia. Each store is near a large number of churches or has a history of strong sales of faith-based products. The retailer is not selling the toys online, said Jami Arms, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

At the Wal-Mart off Battlefield Boulevard, faith-oriented merchandise included a Bible-themed coloring book, a “Read and Learn Bible” for children and books by Christian authors including Rick Warren. DVDs of “Evan Almighty,” a Hollywood comedy about a modern-day Noah, also were for sale.

When Jesus is in stock, he sells for $14.97. “I am Jesus,” he says when you press a button on his back. “I am the son of God.” The talking dolls speak for nearly a minute, giving their biographies, then recite three Bible verses.

The biblical toys, which include smaller-scale nonposable figures depicting the Nativity scene, Noah’s Ark animals and a pious-looking Daniel with eyes cast toward heaven, pleased Janet Taylor, a retired nurse from Portsmouth.

“I have a new grandbaby that’s going to be born Oct. 31 and I would gladly buy this for him,” she said of the toy line.

Venning, the retired school worker, said Tales of Glory figures could supplement the Christian education children get in Sunday school or at home.

“It’s better than buying them superheroes. It’s an opportunity for a Christian parent and Christian grandparents to not buy something that transforms into an ugly creature.”

I suppose God appearing as ‘fire’ is okay though.

She pressed a button on Mary’s back to hear the virgin speak – “I am Mary. I am the mother of Jesus” – and compared Moses’ face to the popular standard.

“He almost looks like Charlton Heston.”

I’d ask if looking like Charlton Heston is a good thing? 

So what happens to Talking Jesus when he gets home?

Knowing how quickly kids can tire of their toys, he could end up buried in a toy chest with Power Rangers, Batman and Ninja Turtles – and there’s something unsettling about that.

At least we won’t be seeing Talking Jesus on the clearance shelf with tacky leftover Bratz Dolls. 

Ann Coulter Gets a Pass on Voter Registration Fraud in Florida…No Surprise There…


We thought, here at, that we would publish Ann Coulter’s long and infamous timeline of voter fraud crime, and how this two year trail of deceit has ultimately led to no conviction…only revealing more corruption at the highest levels. If you had any doubt that the political machine is at work in Florida, there won’t be after you read this…   


2/15/06: Ann Coulter Commits Vote Fraud Felony…
Signs another person’s address to voter registration form and votes in the wrong precinct…

2/20/06: Ann Coulter Denies Committing Voter Fraud…

3/30/06: Ann Coulter Given 30 Days to Explain Vote Fraud Felony Allegation…
Palm Beach, FL election supervisor May refer charges to state attorney…
UPDATED: Property records show an ‘Ann H. Coulter’ owning a $1.8 Million House on Seabreeze Ave. in Palm Beach, Fl.

4/11/06: Ann Coulter’s Felonious Florida Voter Registration Application
GOP pundit Ann Coulter latest in a growing list of Republicans accused of fraud…and she may be guilty…
State, and county records show inconsistencies on voter registration form…

6/2/06: Ann Coulter ‘Lawyers Up’ to Face Felony Voter Fraud Charges
A Palm Beach paper reports GOP extremist pundit retains ‘Bush’ law firm to fight voter fraud allegations…

6/9/06: New Attorney Seeks Special Treatment for Coulter…
Letter from Coulter’s lawyer asks that all mail be sent to him instead of address where Coulter admits not living despite previously stating the opposite was true…

11/1/06: Ann Coulter Refuses to Testify regarding Voter Fraud in Florida…Case to be Turned Over to Prosecutor…
Coulter, a well documented rightwing extremist and hate-monger, refused to cooperate with authorities…

1/11/07: Police Report Says Two Third Degree Felonies May Have Been Committed by Coulter…

Palm Beach election supervisor having trouble bringing charges…

5/11/07: FBI Agent Who Interceded in Ann Coulter Voter Fraud Case Alleged to be Her Former Boyfriend…
A Palm Beach Paper says FBI agent attempted to clear Coulter…Conservative Coulter critic Borchers says her ’98-’99 boyfriend has been ‘Her personal FBI resource for her own purposes’…

8/2/07: Palm Beach Post: Florida Election Commission Investigating Ann Coulter’s Florida Voter Fraud
After her FBI boyfriend got her off the hook, will Jeb Bush’s FEC appointees do it again?

12/7/07: Ann Coulter Cleared of Voter Fraud Despite Clear Demonstrable Evidence…

Two years after an initial ‘slam-dunk’ allegation of fraud, the Florida Election Commission rules that the two year statute of limitations on has run out…case closed. Check out more links here, here, here

So what is the lesson kids?

Another Republican felon gets a pass, this time in friendly country, otherwise known as the Sunshine state. It just goes to show that in modern American politics, you can get away with just about anything, as long as you know who d&*k to suck, on…and off the camera. The evidence was obvious, the charges legitimate, and the crime real, but the likes of Ann Coulter, in all of here hate mongering extremist glory, has sunk to an all time low when no one thought it was possible. Even conservative bloggers have thrown her overboard. 

What a disgrace.

Huckabee No Flash in the Pan…Carries Iowa Momentum to South Carolina…

Reprinted from CNN Political Ticker…

In the course of just a few weeks, Mike Huckabee has capitalized on his Iowa surge and roared to the front of the Republican pack in South Carolina, largely on the strength of social conservatives frustrated with the current crop of candidates.

“We’ve been on the stove simmering for about 11 months,” Huckabee said at a rally in Greenville on Saturday. “Somehow in the last two weeks, the lid blew off and the pot started boiling.”

A month ago, Huckabee was fifth in South Carolina polls. Now, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll conducted in the state, Huckabee comes in at 20 percent, putting him in first place with a narrow lead over former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who comes in at 17 percent.

They are followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 15 percent, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson at 14 percent and Arizona Sen. John McCain at 10 percent.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, himself a die-hard supporter of McCain, predicted the political wave last week, telling reporters in Washington, “what you see nationally with Huckabee is happening in South Carolina.”

Oran Smith of the conservative Palmetto Family Council said Huckabee’s momentum, media attention and strong debate performances may have given once-hesitant voters newfound confidence in Huckabee, who for months was considered a long-shot.

“So many now are focusing on people they think are more in line with their values, but can win. So you’ve got Romney and Thompson vying for that ‘conservative who can win’ label, and all of a sudden here comes Huckabee,” Smith said.

That enthusiasm was on display over the weekend in South Carolina, when supporters and media jammed into a Lizard’s Thicket restaurant on Saturday morning in Columbia to see the former governor of Arkansas.

The cluster of camera crews may have been in town to cover Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming rally for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, but Huckabee was happy to put on a show for them a day early.

Hoisting himself up on a step ladder above the noisy elbow-to-elbow crowd, he gave a rousing speech laced with his trademark wit and intriguing brand of Republican populism (“I’m a conservative, but I’m not mad at anybody,” he likes to say).

Huckabee implored the audience to vote in the primary on January 19.

“We need to be able to nail something down after coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire,” he said. “We want to put down some deep roots here.”

Huckabee will run his first television ad in South Carolina on Monday, a family-friendly 30-second spot called “A Better America.”

Rep. Bob Inglis, who represents the Greenville-Spartanburg area, jumped off the fence to endorse Huckabee last month. Inglis said his candidate “has the authenticity and transparency” to attract new voters.

“I see he and Obama as very similar in what they’re trying to do,” Inglis said, referring to the Illinois senator’s willingness to break with party orthodoxy on certain issues.

“I think that Huckabee has got to find a way say things that need to be said, that we’re not going to scare them into voting for us, we’re not going to demonize Democrats, we’re not going to hate immigrants,” Inglis said. “We’re going to be rooted in principle and focused on the future, and that’s what I think he’s found.”

As Huckabee begins to cut into his opponents’ support among evangelical Christians, who account for about half of GOP primary voters in South Carolina according to a recent AP poll, the arrows are beginning to come out.

The Romney and Thompson campaigns, both vying for support among social conservatives, have issued a salvo of press releases in recent weeks attacking Huckabee’s record on taxes and immigration.

On the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, while Huckabee was giving a sermon at a Baptist church near Greenville on a Sunday morning, the Thompson camp blasted out three straight e-mail attacks on Huckabee in the course of about 20 minutes.

He has also faced some anonymous dirty tricks: On Sunday, mysterious fliers accusing Huckabee of “lying” about his role in the Wayne Dumond parole controversy were left on car windshields outside of his Greenville campaign stop.

The flier says it is sponsored by a group called “Lynchburg Christian Students for the Truth,” but a CNN investigation has been unable to confirm the existence of any group that goes by that name.

Huckabee also lacks the deep pockets of nearly all his GOP rivals, particularly Romney. His grassroots support in South Carolina, while loyal and enthusiastic, lacks the organization and funding of Romney’s ground game here.

However, with the holiday season in full swing, Huckabee could also be peaking at the right time.

“Christmas is coming up, there’s going to be some bowl games, and politics will be on the backburner except for in the mail,” said South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson. “As soon as Santa Claus comes down the chimney and leaves, here come the candidates.”

If Huckabee heads into late December unscathed, with the kind of support he has right now, he could become the man to beat come early January.

Read our earlier posts on Mike Huckabee here, here, and here

Does God Have a Future? Part II…The Conundrum Between Spirituality, Religion, and God


This is article #2 in a 10 part series that will appear each Sunday: Does God Have a Future?

Digest of past articles…

Link to article #1 hereDoes God Have a Future? Part I…An Introduction

Overall, a diverse body of data shows that spirituality is up everywhere including the U.S., while church attendance and alliance to religion is on the decline. Does this mean that more people simply do not believe in God or does it mean that the way society views the traditional idea of God is changing?

Dr. Ralph Winter of the U.S. Center for World Mission, reports that there is a worldwide movement afoot that is indisputable. Biblical faith is growing to all corners of the earth at an unprecedented pace. “One in every ten people on the planet is of the bible reading, bible-believing stream of Christianity,” says Winter. The report goes on to say that, “The Protestant growth rate in Latin America is three times the biological birth rate, Protestants in China have gone from 1 million to 80 million in fifty years, and believers in “mission field countries” are sending their own missionaries back to their former colonial sponsors.”

Download full report here…

It is generally believed that in the face of such flourishing belief in God, that church attendance is also climbing. However this is not the case.

It is true that many Americans still attend church in the U.S., however, church attendance is trending downward. The Barna Research Group reported in 2005 that, “47% of American adults said they attend church in a given weekend, not including a special event such as wedding or a funeral.” This number is down from 51% in 1991 and many studies and polls have the number as of 2006 as low as 40%.

And even within these numbers there are some interesting variables…

Various studies in recent years have cast doubt on the generally accepted 40% value. For instance, public opinion polls do not report real events, only what they are told by pollees. Pollees often answer the way they think they should answer, especially when it comes to church. For example, when asked how much money they give to church every week, 17% of those polled said they give 10% to 13% of their income, when in reality only 3% do.

Other reports put church attendance in Ohio at 20% for Protestants and only 28% for Catholics (.M. Chaves, K. Hadaway & P. Marler, “What the Polls Don’t Show: A Closer Look at U.S. Church Attendance,” American Sociological Review, 1993).

When these same Catholic parishes were polled later regarding attendance, 51% said they attended regularly, however the actual numbers only reflect 24%. Most were simply lying. To validate the research, Chaves, Hadaway, and Marler conducted additional research in 1998 and again in 2004. They were quoted as saying:

“We believe that too much trust has been placed in survey data and not enough attention given to membership records, patterns of giving, and even the incredulity of local church pastors when they hear that 40 percent of Americans attend church during an average week (M. Chaves, K. Hadaway & P. Marler, “”Overreporting Church Attendance in America: Evidence that Demands the Same Verdict,” American Sociological Review, 1998-FEB)”.

The 50% to 51% figure also appears to apply in the UK. Author Monica Furlong commented on the Church of England data:

people questioned about how much they go to church, give figures which, if true, would add up to twice those given by the churches (Monica Furlong, “C of E: The State It’s in,” Hodder & Stroughton, (2002), Page 216).”

Hadaway and Marler noted that when Gallup asked people in Great Britain what they did during the previous weekend, and presents a list of likely activities, they found that 14% said they went to church. But when the question that Gallup asks in the US (“Did you, yourself, happen to attend church or synagogue in the last seven days?”) is asked in Great Britain, the weekly attendance rate miraculously rises to 21%. They state that:

“… figures from the 1989 English Church Census and additional attendance data from the 1996-97 UK Christian Handbook indicate that only around 10 percent attend worship services each week.”

There was a surge in church attendance after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington on September 11th, 2001.

Some religious leaders predicted that the phenomenon would be short lived. Others saw it as the start of a major revival in the U.S. According to the New York Times, Franklin Graham, son of the well known Christian evangelist, Rev. Billy Graham, hailed it as an enduring turn toward God. On November 20th, Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson said that the attack was “bringing about one of the greatest spiritual revivals in the history of America…People are turning to God. The churches are full.” It appears that, with the exception of the New York City area, the increase lasted only about two months.

By November 26th, 2001, attendance had returned to normal. The New York Times cites data from the Gallup Organization, which shows that religious attendance rose from 41% in May 2001, to 47% by September 2001. By early November, attendance had sunk back to 42%. The director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, Robert Wuthnow, said that the terrorists’ attacks have not changed the basic makeup of the U.S. :

“We are in some ways a very religious country, especially compared to Western Europe. But, we’re of two minds, and the other mind is that we are really pretty secular. We are very much a country of consumers and shoppers, and we’re quite materialistic. And as long as we can paste together a sense of control through our ordinary work and our ordinary purchases, we’re pretty happy to do that.”

Some other interesting stats:

In 2001 more than 29.4 million Americans said they have no religion, up from 12 million in 1990. Today that number reflects 3% of all people in some states to as high as 25% in others.

A USA Today/Gallop Poll in 2002 showed that 50% of Americans call themselves religious, down from 54% in 1999. Also, 33% called themselves spiritual rather than religious, up from 30% over that same time period. And these trends are continuing in 2007.

So what does it all mean?

Is the age of the church and organized religion encountering it’s end days? Could it be that an idea of something parallel to God is taking over our collective consciousness, and that parallel idea of God is embodied less and less in religion and church? Is church and religion as a social construct coming to an end? All one needs to do is pick up a newspaper, if you are Catholic, to track the latest parish closings.

Maybe the decline of church and religion is a good thing.

I believe we can live in a culture where people can simply be followers of Jesus or whatever spiritual ideal they identify with, without the need for organized religious constructs. Whether many of us care to believe it or not, we are socialized into Christian ideals at a very early age and live our entire lives not knowing why we believe or even if we should. More often than not, we believe because we must, or simply because we cannot cannot critically analyze why we shouldn’t.

The central issue here is that religion, as a social construct based on the belief in God, is declining. But more importantly, that very religion which has been used to, in essence, sell God to modern society, may very well take God down along with it.

One can easily make the argument that the modern church is an exercise in futility as it exists in the modern consumerist capitalistic state, and that the need for organized religion has fufilled it’s role as an explanation to the unknown, and seen it’s best days as it continues into the neo-modern era. Maybe secular humanism is the cleansing-by-fire that is needed for what many see as a corrupt Christianity, that is based on exploitation and fear.

In the end, that very secularization that Christians, in particular fundamental Christians, rally against, is what may ultimately lead to a more convenient “religion-less” and ultimately “God-less” form of spirituality that more and more people seem to be heading toward.

I am one of them.

You Know the GOP is in Trouble When Huckabee is Surging in Iowa…


Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has vaulted over all major GOP challengers to take a commanding lead in the race to win the Iowa caucuses, while Barack Obama continues to edge ahead of Hillary Clinton among Democrats likely to participate. This is according to a new NEWSWEEK poll

The most dramatic result to come from the telephone based interview based on 1,408 registered Iowa voters on Dec. 5 and 6, is Huckabee’s emergence from no-wheres-ville in the GOP race into the front runner’s spot in just two months. Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and now leads Romney by a two-to-one margin (told you the Mormon thing would kill him in the end), 39 percent to 17 percent, among likely GOP caucus-goers. In the last NEWSWEEK survey, conducted Sept. 26-27, Huckabee polled a only 6 percent to Romney’s 25 percent, which then led the field.

Huckabee has also opened up a wide margin over the next three leading candidates, who all show signs of fading like cheap paint in the Arizona sun. Rudy Giuliani, who dropped from 15 percent in the last survey to 9 percent in the current one; Fred Thompson, who fell from 16 percent to 10 percent; and John McCain, who slipped from 7 percent to 6 percent, are all looking up at Huckabee now.

The poll, which has an overall margin of error of 3 percent, also indicated that on the Republican as well as the Democratic side Iowa is increasingly becoming a two-person race. Among likely GOP caucus-goers, 57 percent name Huckabee as their first or second choice and 39 percent give Romney as their first or second choice. On this measure, Thompson is a distant third, with just 20 percent.

“You rarely see anything like Huckabee’s surge,” says Larry Hugick, who directed the polling for Princeton Survey Research Associates. Hugick added that the reason has as much to do with a leeriness of the other candidates among Republican voters as Huckabee’s folksy success on the stump. “He’s filling a vacuum,” Hugick said. “Nobody on the Republican side was getting strong support.”

I agree.

Say what you will but Huckabee comes off genuine and articulate. I’ve blogged about this recently here… 

Sure he might be construed as another Christian fundamentalist nut, but he’s a likeable Christian fundamentalist nut…and that may be enough in Iowa.

What people don’t seem to wrap their mind around is that America is thirsty for honesty from a President in any form, even if that President has some weird baggage. While evangelicals are carrying Huckabee in Iowa, it is the other 50% of plain old Republicans that are putting him over the top! Why? Because Romney looks too slick (and he’s a Mormon), Giuliani looks too much like Bush (wrong answer there), McCain is just plain crazy, and Thompson talks like he is just plain stupid.

Enough said.

The best analogy I can come up for Huckabee is that he’s Reagan, only holding a really big cross, like those guys who shout bible verses at you downtown on a Wednesday afternoon. Iowa voters appear to be willing to take the chance he won’t impale us on it.

Who would have thunk it?

An Update on Congressional Investigation into Mega-Churches…


A second Christian ministry is refusing to meet a Thursday deadline for a Senate investigation into preachers’ salaries, perks and travel, The Associated Press has learned.

See related Shadow Democracy post and comment thread here

Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, said in a statement to the AP on Thursday that he will not respond to the inquiry until next year.

A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents.

Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent lengthy questionnaires a month ago to six ministries so he could review whether pastors were complying with IRS rules that bar excessive personal gain through tax-exempt work.

Because these are “Religious” Non Profit organizations, the IRS has already deemed that they’re NOT required to turn over information regarding their finances. 

Do you believe in God?

Well even if you don’t, you an I can apply to the IRS for our own Religious non profit status and become exempt from paying federal taxes. Then we can go out and encourage wealthy people to withdraw their investments from 401K’s and other tax shelter investments and funnel their income through our bogus ministry and it will be perfectly legal. You can make a bundle!

Do you know how to sing???

I’ve got some old Jimmy Swaggart Gospel tapes that you can take home and practice from. I’ll brush up on my evangelical street type of ministry lingo and convince a few homeless people to come and visit us every Sunday at a low rent two bedroom house just to convince the IRS that we actually have a congregation. After acquiring our 501(c)(3) provision, we’ll take out business loans in order to hire expert accountants and financial advisors who will counsel our wealthy solicited investors.

We’ll make a fortune, and then we can ignore Congress too🙂

Posted by: Dimitri Lawrence

Bush Approval Among Military Families Down 50% Since 2004


Reprinted from 

Support for President Bush and his Iraq war policy is nearly as anemic among US military families as it is in the general population, according to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

The survey finds that almost 60 percent of the military community — which was defined as active and former service personnel as well as their families — disapprove of the president’s handling of the war. The same percentage of the group disapprove of Bush’s overall performance as president. Meanwhile, only 37 percent of the family members approve of Bush. Among civilians polled, the war garnered support from 32 percent of respondents.

Families that include veterans of wars presided over by the president were found to be just as critical of the war in Iraq as other Americans, with a full 60 percent saying the war was not worth the cost.

“Patience with the war, which has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II, is wearing thin — particularly among families who have sent a service member to the conflict,” reports the Los Angeles Times‘ Faye Fiore. “One-quarter say American troops should stay ‘as long as it takes to win.’ Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or ‘right away.'”

The new numbers stand in stark contrast to a poll of military families conducted by the University of Pennsylvania three years ago, in which twice as many individuals approved of the president’s performance.

The poll also finds more support for Democrats than Republicans when it comes to “treatment” of active-duty military personnel, indicating that a “plurality of military-family members, 39 percent, say they believe Democrats are likely to do a better job handling those issues, compared with 35 percent for Republicans,” according to Bloomberg news.

A military sociologist told the Los Angeles Times that flagging support for a president from servicemembers’ families in a time of war wasn’t typical. “You generally expect to see support for the president as commander in chief and for the war, but this is a different kind of war than those we’ve fought in the past, particularly for families,” he said.

One Army mother responding to the poll, whose son was wounded in Iraq, told the Times that she feared casualties in the conflict were for naught.

“I don’t see gains for the people of Iraq…and, oh, my God, so many wonderful young people, and these are the ones who felt they were really doing something, that’s why they signed up,” she said. “I pray to God that they did not die in vain, but I don’t think our president is even sensitive at all to what it’s like to have a child serving over there.”

Complete polling results are available here.

Quick! Who’s Position is This…Bush or Giuliani???

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Okay, time for a little fun. Can you guess who said the following regarding various issues??? 

U.S. Policy toward Africa

He said the United States should focus its policy toward Africa on increases in trade. “U.S. government aid is important, but aid not linked to reform perpetuates bad policies and poverty.”

In May 2007, he was informed that he held between $500,000 and $1 million in investments in companies that work in Sudan.

U.S. Policy toward India

He views India’s rapidly growing economy as a potentially lucrative market, saying the United States should “take advantage” (CNBC) of the “large number of consumers that are emerging in India.” In particular, he said, the U.S. stands to “make a lot of money in India” in new energy technology.

Military Tribunals and Guantanamo Bay

He said he supports the detention camp at Guantanamo. He said in a June 2007 interview with the Wall Street Journal that he believes the allegations of prisoner mistreatment at Guantanamo have “been grossly exaggerated, and many of the reports that I see are that it’s not terribly different from any other prisons.”

Domestic Intelligence

He defended the domestic spying initiatives, saying “he did it to protect our national security and to try to find out information about people that might attack us and might be preparing an attack on us, in order to secure us, in order to protect us.” He said in September 2007 that electronic surveillance should not be “unrealistically” limited.

War on Terror

He responded to John Edwards’ criticism of the war on terror, saying in June 2007, “This is not a bumper sticker; this war is a real war.” He generally refers to “the terrorist war against us,” lately, rather than the “war on terror,” he told TIME.

Democracy Promotion in the Arab World

He believes in a larger goal of a democratic (AFP) Iraq and Middle East. But, he says, stability takes precedence over democracy. “Democracy can’t flourish unless people are safe. You can’t have democracy when people are being killed,” he said in January 2007.

Energy Policy

He has ties to various energy companies, many of which are fossil fuel-oriented including Duke Energy Corp., the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, Valero Energy Corp, and FPL Energy. He has supported increased use of nuclear power.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

He has held up Israel as “the only outpost of freedom and democracy in the Middle East and the only absolutely reliable friend of the United States.” (Haaretz) In a 2002 speech, he stressed that Jerusalem must “remain the undivided capital” of Israel. He also said at that time that the Palestinian Authority is not a “moral equivalent” to the Israeli government, because “there is a difference between a nation based on law and democracy and one that harbors terrorism.” He called on the Palestinian Authority to create “institutions of political and economic freedom and religious toleration.” More recently, he said that in his view it “makes no difference” whether the Palestinian Authority is run by Hamas or Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. At a March 2007 fundraiser, he also said that the United States should “not push any peace process” until the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel’s right to exist and condemns terrorism.

North Korea Policy

He supports the policy of China placing pressure on Pyongyang. “I think the strategy has produced enough results so far that you have to stick with it,” he said. He indicated it remains unclear whether Iran or North Korea is further along in developing a nuclear weapons program.

Cuba Policy

He is critical of Castro, which he made clear recently in a speech over whether or not to return Cuban child Elian Gonzales to Cuba in 2000 (He was an outspoken voice for keeping the boy in the United States).

He also attacked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for following Castro’s “model.” (AP) Speaking to a group in Florida, he said the United States must build an alliance with Mexico and Colombia to counteract the shift to the left of Latin American governments.

U.S. Policy toward China

He has not made many public statements on his views of China. However, he said in an CNBC interview that limiting China ’s ownership of U.S. debt is “generally a bad idea and generally self-defeating.” He said that the U.S. should build industries that we can sell” in China.

Defense Policy

He has called for an “offense-as-a-defense” (Journal-Register)strategy towards al-Qaeda, backing the U.S. troop surge and continued presence in Iraq.

He fully advocates the addition of thirty-five thousand troops to the army’s current level of 512,000 (AP).

In September 2007, he said the United States should pursue a nuclear missile defense system, as “America can no longer rely on Cold War doctrines such as ‘mutual assured destruction’ in the face of threats from hostile, unstable regimes.”


He says we need a plan by which to measure progress but that does not include troop withdrawals. “You need statistics,” (FOX) he said in January 2007. “You need to be able to determine whether or not you’ve brought the violence down. If it doesn’t work, then you got to put more people in.”

He opposes any “artificial timeline” for troop withdrawal from Iraq, which he says would be tantamount to giving America’s enemies “a printed-out list of how it’s going to retreat (ChiTrib) to its enemy.” He is steadfast in his support for the war, which he considers part of the larger global war on terror.


In October 2007 he spoke in support of the pending Free Trade Agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, saying they “would be good deals for the United States.”

Homeland Security

In a September 2006 he stressed the need for a nuclear material detection system in the United States.


He has the United States should proceed diplomatically with Iran, but that “we will use a military option if we have to.” He said a military strike would be “very dangerous”but nuclear arms in the control of “an irrational person” like President Ahmadinejad was more dangerous.

His supporters are vocal advocates for bombing Iran preemptively in order to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. 

Climate Change

He said he believes climate change exists (SFChron) and that something must be done to reduce pollution. However, he has not said outright that he believes climate change is caused by human activity. His statements with regard to policy on the issue have been rather vague.


He supports some type of path (NYT) to citizenship for illegal immigrants. “If you have twelve million people, to thirteen to fourteen to fifteen million that are here illegally, it is much easier for terrorists and drug dealers to hide,” he said recently. He also said that he is in favor of a border fence and a database with which to keep track of all immigrants. 

As mayor of New York City, Giuliani opposed a law (NYT) that would have prevented illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security, food stamps and health care benefits.

United Nations

He has been extremely critical of the United Nations, which, he said, “proved irrelevant to the resolution of almost every major dispute of the last 50 years.” He says the institution’s primary capabilities are in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, but “we should not expect much more of it.”

Specifically, he said the United Nations must hold accountable states that support or condone terrorism. “Otherwise, you will fail in your primary mission as peacekeeper,” he said. “It must ostracize any nation that supports terrorism. It must isolate any nation that remains neutral in the fight against terrorism.”

U.S. Policy toward Russia

He advocates commercial engagement with Russia, but has also expressed support for the planned missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. In October 2007 he called for an increase in military spending to “send a heck of a signal” to Russia.

Recently he traveled to Moscow to promote U.S.-Russian business relations.

And the answer is [dramatic pause…]

Rudi Giuliani

So if you vote for him, you clearly vote for more of the same neo-con nonsense. 

Petraeus Says Things are Getting Better in Iraq, but are They?


David Petraeus, Bush’s top American general in Iraq, has expressed his satisfaction on the progress made in Iraq, but said the military was still far from any victory.

“Nobody in uniform is doing victory dances in the end zone,” Petraeus told reporters. Gates said on Wednesday that the violence in Iraq had dropped to levels not seen since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in the central town of Samarra that unleashed brutal Shiite and Sunni conflict nearly two years ago. He said the reduction in violence meant the “goal of a secure, stable and democratic Iraq is within reach”.

But is it?

Petraeus, who in September announced to Congress the first possible elements of an American troop drawdown in Iraq, was more cautious on Thursday when he said, “We work hard to build up on the progress made” but “we have to be careful not to feel too successful.” He went on to add, “Certain days we certainly feel very good but there are still attacks. We have seen continued improvements,” he said, adding that there was “much hard work still to be done and issues to be addressed”., a website dedicated to tracking Iraq casualties, puts the death toll of American troops for November 2007 at 37, down one from 38 in October. However there have been months with lower death totals. January of 2003, August of 2003, September of 2003, February of 2004, March of 2005, and March of 2006, all saw lower troop casualties. Furthermore, the data clearly shows consistent peaks and valleys in troop casualties and violence throughout the last four years. Furthermore, there has been no period of more than six months that shows a consistent downward trend, before violence increased again. As of now, we appear to be in one of the ‘valleys.’ This is to say, the data supports no conclusions regarding violence trends. Maybe this is why Petraeus isn’t counting his chickens just yet.

Just yesterday, there were a series of bombings that rocked several major cities.

Iraqi civilian deaths are pegged at 800,00 to 1,200,000 depending on what source you reference.


The chart above displays civilian casualty numbers from this year.Although casualties from shootings and bombings is down in the ‘Green Zone’, they appear to be flat or trending up outside of Bagdad. What conclusions can we draw?

Here is some ICCC data…


No one can say if al Qaeda has been quashed. For all we know, there may be another surtge in violence around the corner or worse. What we can conclude from the data I believe is that petraeus is painting a rosie picture for the American people and the administration. The troop surge has resulted in a reduction in casualties overall in Iraq, but this reduction is far from the knockout blow Bush is looking for. I do think that all Americans sincerely hope that the declining casualty trends continue, as I do, but I would not jump to any conclusions right now. Al Qaeda, as demonstrated in Afghanistan, is alive and well. In that country, violence and casualties are on the rise, poppy production is at an all time high, and the civilian landscape is in chaos.

Could it be that Al Qaeda has shifted fronts and is helping the Taliban, knowing we can’t effectively fight this “war  on terror” on both fronts?

It makes for interesting conversation.

Democrats Ready to Fold Once Again on War Funding…


A quick spine check of the Democratic Party has revealed Jell-O once again…

Reprinted fron the Washington Post

By Jonathan Weisman

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A03  

Facing increasing evidence of military progress in Iraq, some Democratic congressional leaders are eyeing a shift in legislative strategy that would abandon a link between $50 billion in additional war funding sought by President Bush to a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Instead, they would tie the measure to political advances by the Iraqi government.

For nearly a year, Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to use war funds to push timelines for troop withdrawals, troop-training requirements, and prescribed periods of rest for weary soldiers and Marines.

Now, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is examining a new approach, releasing war funds in small increments, with further installments tied to specific performance measures for Iraq’s politicians. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also is searching for a new approach and has been briefed on the idea of more explicitly tying funds to political progress.

The new thrust has divided Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, some of whom say they will never approve additional funding for the Iraq war without troop-withdrawal timelines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) remains skeptical, House Democratic leadership sources said, and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has vacillated between seeking compromise with Republicans and holding firmly to troop-withdrawal language.

“We’ve been through all that,” Reid said yesterday of the new approach, suggesting the war-funding issue will wait until January. “I just think we need to figure out some way to fund a government and move on to next year.”

The new approach contains considerable political risks for Democrats. If they choose to adopt realistic measurements of political progress, they would be signaling a willingness to leave U.S. combat troops in Iraq far longer than Democratic voters want, said Michael O’Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution.

None of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination is likely to embrace that, said O’Hanlon, who suspended his ties to the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) after he wrote that Bush’s troop buildup was yielding positive results.

On the other hand, the year-long struggle to mandate troop withdrawals shows no sign of progress. War funding will begin running dry by mid-February, leaving Democrats with the choice of withholding money for the war, providing the money without strings attached, or finding a new approach that can win bipartisan support.

The House approved a $50 billion war spending bill last month that would have tied additional funding to a goal of removing all combat troops from Iraq by December 2008, but it fell to a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Bush had promised to veto it anyway.

A separate war funding bill approved in the spring laid out political benchmarks for the Iraqis and demanded that the Bush administration return to Congress in September with an update on progress toward them. It showed that the Iraqi government was woefully short of meeting those goals.

The new approach will get an airing today when USA Todaypublishes an opinion piece by O’Hanlon. He argues that Democrats should receive more credit for the positive changes in Iraq and lays out a fresh set of benchmarks linked to the provision of funds.

O’Hanlon shook up the Iraq debate earlier this year when he co-wrote an opinion piece hailing the progress that has resulted from Bush’s troop buildup. It also suggested that Gen. David H. Petraeus‘s counterinsurgency strategy could stabilize Iraq.

He suggests, for instance, that Congress should judge political progress by how much money the central government in Baghdadis sharing with Iraq’s provinces, and should recognize the ongoing de facto amnesty that Iraq’s government is offering political opponents with the hiring of former insurgents as police officers and soldiers.

Emanuel suggested yesterday that the Bush administration’s diplomatic outreach to Syria, its engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the new intelligence estimate on Iran‘s nuclear capabilities stem in part from the changing political climate brought on by the Democratic Congress.

“Our troops at every step of the way have done an incredible job,” he told reporters. “And at every step of the way, the people that are responsible for a political strategy for Iraq have failed to deliver one. And our views on the funding is that what we need and what we’ve asked for from Day One is a set of benchmarks the Iraqis have to meet for Iraq.”

Business as usual huh? The Democrat’s position and strategy on the war in Iraq has been a disgrace. I am finished with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  

Ron Paul Appears on ‘The View’ and Gets Grilled on Abortion Position…


Ron Paul wasted no time crossing the writer’s picket line to defend his anti-abortion position on the daytime talk show, The View…and he took a verbal beating while he did it.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to reach a stage where there will no abortions,” Paul said, before indicating he would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Paul also repeated his position on state governments having the right to decide for themselves, “But I want to sort this out the way the constitution mandates, and that is at the local level.”

Ron Paul, a former OB-GYN, said his anti-abortion position was based on his view that a fetus was a human being with the same rights as any other person, just as he advocated personal privacy that would not give people the right to commit murder. Based on this, he does not view a woman’s claim to her own body as superior to the fetus’s right to life.

“It’s a legal position because I honor and respect the rights of the mother. I don’t want any government in your home: no searches without warrants, no cameras. But you can’t kill your baby in your home.”

Paul is the first candidate to appear on the popular daytime talk show since a writers strike began last month. Democratic candidates have said they would not cross picket lines to appear on The View while the strike persists. However, Paul did.

That speaks volumes on his position dealing with organized labor (post for another day). 

Paul’s and all the other candidates who have taken the – let’s-push-the-abortion-issue-onto-the-states, position, fail to understand one basic idea, and that is that the abortion issue has traditionally been used as a wedge issue to divide the electorate with the hope of distracting us from the unabated corruption that is perpetuated by both parties, and that most people know better. In fact, the only people that still seem to give a shit are the radical Christian right, and they’re a bit ignorant and naive anyways in my opinion (i.e. murdering abortion doctors, trying to convince people that the founding fathers were pro-religion and pro-God in government, etc.) 

If the test to see if you are a true liberal is woman’s right to abortion no matter the circumstances, than I guess that makes me conservative too! Can’t people just use birth control? The ‘pill’ can be gotten anywhere for free along with a ton of other free services for both men and women who are sexually active. I mean let’s be real here – they practically give condoms out like candy in most schools around the country. So what’s with the single moms with three kids by different dads?

Laziness I think. 

But the central problem with Paul’s position is that society has always acknowledged that compromise is necessary in circumstances such as rape and health concerns. Paul doesn’t buy into that, and that’s where he is wrong. In modern times there is birth control, contraception, day after pills, in addition to traditional abstinence. If you can’t handle the responsibility of having a child than you should be able to figure out how to avoid that possibility. However, if you are raped, why should you be held accountable? 

The fundamental flaw in Paul’s thinking and in the thinking of other anti-Supreme Court conservatives who claim that ‘liberal’ judges are legislating from the bench,  is that no United States court has ever legislated anything…ever…really! It is traditional in an adversarial legal system as we have in the United States, that the judicial branch is to determine the ‘constitutionality’ of our laws. This is what they did with Roe vs. Wade. They did not write a new law; rather, they interpreted the permissibility of existing law in the light of what the Constitution says. Seeing guys like Thomas Jefferson have been worm dirt for a few hundred years and we really cannot ask them how they feel about the issue in a modern context, we are forced to rely on the courts. Pretty simple really.

With all that being said, I think Roe v. Wade is on pretty sound legal footing. We do have the right to privacy even though it is not explicitly spelled out, and abortion rights should be based on this ideal as well as a woman’s right to bodily integrity. 
Abortion is not a big deal to me. 

I think the question we need to ask is – Why do we live in a world where we feel we might need to kill our children in the first place? Paul, nor do any other Conservatives, address this.  

Extreme Workers and the Ripple Effect of Long Hours on the Job…


I’ve always been perplexed by those who are content with working their lives away. Of course I’m no one to talk. On more than one occasion I have been labeled a work-a-holic. But now there is a new term – ‘Extreme Worker. I first heard it on the radio a few years back but more recently on NPR. In the end, I did what I always do with new buzz words. I filed it under “another meaningless word to describe something equally meaningless that doesn’t deserve my full attention.” 

As it turns out, two reports were released last week, from two well respected organizations, in the field of life and work studies. 

The general message of both studies is that we spend far too much time at work. Moreover, the consequences of that extra work are far reaching, and destructive.

“Extreme Job” is the phrase coined by the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force of the Center for Work-Life Policy. According to this think tank, you have an extreme job if you work 60 hours or more a week and meet at least 5 additional characteristics from a list of 10. These include fast-paced work under tight deadlines, responsibility for profit and loss, a large amount of travel, an unpredictable flow of work, and work- related events outside business hours.

Based on two surveys and dozens of interviews and focus groups, the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force estimates that about 20 percent of high earners in the United States, defined as those in the top 6 percent of income levels, meet the definition of an extreme worker. That means 20 percent of those who make it to the top are working harder than any human can sustain for very long.

A 60-hour workweek, with a one- hour commute each way, means leaving the house at 7 a.m. every morning and not returning until 9 p.m. And more than half of extreme workers log longer hours than that.

Some say they love the thrill, the meaning, the challenge, the oversized compensation packages and the brilliant colleagues.

Of course the term “Extreme Worker” generally refers to those in the white collar world. However, does this phenomena also extend to the average service or blue collar worker as well?

In the U.S., working time has actually been increasing across all sectors. Many workers put in longer hours than the forty hour standard. Two weeks of paid annual leave is standard, with some workers receiving three weeks after long periods of service. Frequently, workers are afraid to take up their full entitlement in case it might jeopardize their job security.

In blue collar industries like service and manufacturing, hours are rising as well, and we all know about the two earner household being the new standard. The United States is an example of a country where workweek policies are not strictly enforced. The U.S. legally allows mainly two types of compensation, those being wage and salary labor. Wage earners are compensated on a per-hour basis, whereas salaried workers are compensated on a per-week basis. The 40-hour workweek, in effect, applies only to wage laborers, yet legally they may be required to work more than forty hours. The kicker…firms are only required to pay time-and-a-half, or 1.5 times the worker’s base wage, for each hour of work past forty.

As you might imagine, overtime is very popular with larger companies.

In some states firms are required to pay double-time, or twice the base rate, for each hour of work past 60. This provides an incentive for companies to limit working time, but makes these additional hours more desirable for the worker. It is not uncommon for overtime hours to be accepted voluntarily by wage-earning workers. In fact, unions often treat overtime as a desirable fringe benefit when negotiating labor contracts. 

Salaried workers however, are not covered by overtime protections. Some have argued, as I have, that the concept of being exempt from overtime is now being abused by many companies, as increasing a salaried worker’s working hours effectively reduces his or her per-hour pay, resulting in cheaper labor for the enterprise.

The current economically conservative and anti-worker political culture in the federal government, doesn’t help the situation much. Unlike Europe, our government doesn’t seem to care much about the health and welfare of the average American worker.

So what do Americans do in the face of constant job insecurity in the form of outsourcing, layoff, and a total absence of union protection that is perpetuated by the government in the interest of big business?

They work longer to keep their job at any cost – even those who say they love it. In reality they have no choice because some other fearful empty suit will be right in line behind them to scoop up their job. What is even more ridiculous, is that they do this having full knowledge of the consequences.  

Sixty-nine percent say their extreme jobs undermine their health, 46 percent say work gets in the way of a good relationship with their spouse, and 58 percent say it gets in the way of strong relationships with their children.

And what about those children?

Catalyst, a research and consulting organization that aims to expand opportunities for women at work, looked specifically at stress on working parents at the office, which they call “parental concern about after-school time,” or PCAST.

All those instances where child care falls through, all the hours children are left alone or with a sitter, all the hours people spent at the office knowing a child is home sick – affects close to 50 million employees in the United States, the Catalyst study says.

The solution, both groups say, is what Catalyst calls “the agile workplace.”

That means a philosophy of flexibility. On the specific topic of PCAST, that could include subsidies for after school care and backup care, and the ability to telecommute.

The alternative, the task force warns, is that today’s distracted and overworked employees will become tomorrow’s drag on the bottom line.

Are any of these proposed solutions being implemented? Of course not. Just ask yourself if you know of any free after school programs or care programs designed to help overworked parents?

You won’t find any. 

Harvard professor Juliet Schor (check out our book review here), author of the book, The Overworked American, writes:

A decade of research by Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild suggests that many marriages where women are doing the “second shift” are close to the breaking point.  When job, children, and marriage have to be attended to, it’s often the marriage that is neglected. The failure of many men to do their share at home further problems. A twenty-six-year-old legal secretary in California reports that her husband “does no cooking, no washing, no anything else. How do I feel? Furious. If our marriage ends, it will be on this issue. And it just might.”

Serious as these problems are, the most alarming development may be the effect of the work explosion on the care of children. According to economist Sylvia Hewlett, child neglect has become endemic to our society.” A major problem is that children are increasingly left alone, to fend for themselves while their parents are at work.  Nationwide, estimates of children in “self”—or, more accurately, “no”—care range up to seven million.  Local studies have found figures of up to one-third of children caring for themselves.  At least half a million preschoolers are thought to be left at home part of each day.  One 911 operator reports large numbers of frightened callers: “It’s not uncommon to hear from a child of six or seven who has been left in charge of even younger siblings.”

Even when parents are at home, overwork may leave them with limited time, attention, or energy for their children. One working parent noted, “My child has severe emotional problems because I am too tired to listen to him. It is not quality time; it’s bad quantity time that’s destroying my family.” Economist Victor Fuchs has found that between 1960 and 1986, the time parents actually had available to be with children fell ten hours a week for whites and twelve for blacks.  Hewlett links the “parenting deficit” to a variety of problems plaguing the country’s youth: poor performance in school, mental problems, drug and alcohol use, and teen suicide. According to another expert, kids are being “cheated out of childhood…There is a sense that adults don’t care about them.”

In the end we must ask ourselves as a culture – is it worth it?

Another good link on this topic from Harvard here

Texas Science Director Fired for Mentioning Evolution…


A Texas science education official was forced to resign in October for doing her job. 

The Austin-American Statesman has reported that. Chris Corner, science curriculum director, was fired following an email she circulated announcing an upcoming speech by Barbara Forrest, co-author of Creationism’s  Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design and an expert witness in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the lawsuit brought in 2005 by Dover, Pennsylvania parents upset with a school board’s decision to teach intelligent design. A federal judge sided with the parents and legally established intelligent design as religion, not science.

However in Texas, we know things run a bit differently.

Hours after Corner used her work email account to forward the announcement to friends, Texas Education Agency adviser Lizzette Reynolds emailed Corner’s bosses and called for her dismissal. A former legislative adviser to President Bush during his Texas governorship and later a Department of Education appointee, Reynolds wrote, “This is highly inappropriate. I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities.


Farting in church is inappropriate. Making ‘death jokes’ during a funeral is inappropriate. Hitting on your best friend’s girl is inappropriate. Teaching and promoting ‘science’, and that is exactly what evolution is…’science’, when one is a science teacher, is completely appropriate.

Lizzette Reynolds, and the rest of the legion of Bush loyalist idiots, cannot comprehend or moreover accept the fact that the idea of “Intelligent Design” (I can’t dignify referring to it as a theory), is nothing more than fundamentalist Christian blather, with the goal of squeezing rational scientific thought out of public classrooms, with the end goal of imposing God on those who dare question his existence. Reynolds should be fired, not Corner. Corner was simply performing her duties as a science teacher. Reynolds is trying to peddle a Christian agenda on the back of Corner’s livelihood.   

Education Agency officials mentioned Reynolds’ e-mail in their decision to fire Corner. Informing people about Forrest’s lecture, they said, “directly conflicts with her responsibilities as the Director of Science … [And] implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker’s position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral.”

Neutral? I bet if her email said “We must protest this speaker because God is the almighty creator and his will be done at our hand…”, she would have been promoted. That’s how education works down South…especially in Texas. The problem here is that a science official, supporting evolution isn’t political; it’s scientific! But even if that were not the case, Corner’s views weren’t clear from her email, to which she’d simply added an “FYI” above the lecture’s announcement. Isn’t that “neutral” enough? 

As the Austin-American Statesman editorialized this weekend,

The education agency, of course, portrays the problem as one of insubordination and misconduct. But from all appearances, Comer was pushed out because the agency is enforcing a political doctrine of strict conservatism that allows no criticism of creationism.

This state has struggled for years with the ideological bent of the state school board, but lawmakers took away most of its power to infect education some years ago. Politicizing the Texas Education Agency, which oversees the education of children in public schools, would be a monumental mistake.

This isn’t the space to explore the debate over creationism, intelligent design and evolution. Each approach should be fair game for critical analysis, so terminating someone for just mentioning a critic of intelligent design smacks of the dogma and purges in the Soviet era.

As usual, “neutrality” is now used as the hammer to beat evolutionists over the head. I suppose it is okay to replace intelligent discourse with hearsay, fire anyone who disagrees, then label the hearsay as informed debate. 

All of the radical Christian educational agendas in all states is unsupported by verifiable fact. Government must step in and stop this lunacy or we risk returning to the days of Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, where teachers will be tried in court for teaching the truth. With any luck, the Texas Board of Education will be painted as the fools that they are next year when the state reviews the Texas Board of Education’s science curriculum. 

Does God Have a Future? Part I…An Introduction


(This post is part one of a 10 part series that will appear each Sunday)

The past several years have seen a remarkable turn of events in the socio-political conscious of Americans and indeed people worldwide. The Cold War is fifteen years over, but the prospects of a New World Order, an order designed and manipulated by the power elite in the United States, appears to be quite more ominous than anything we have seen in years past.

The ecology also looms. As a civilization, we are faced with new ‘Super-Viruses’, a resurgence of AIDS world-wide, global climate change, and a planet that will see its population double within the next generation, with not enough food or resources to support it.

Where will God fit in to this dynamic?

Many argue that God is needed in our lives more than ever. But why is he needed? Is he needed for the traditional purposes of control – to explain away unimaginable events?

For thousands of years God was used and adapted by all civilizations to ‘explain the unexplainable’ and comfort those who fear what was ‘unexplained.’ However in our time, the ubiquitous power of the ‘unexplained’ has begun to fade, and the very need for God may very well be fading along with it.

This central question is what these series of posts will attempt to examine. Is God an idea of the past whose time and need is over? American Scholar Peter Berger notes that we often live a double standard when we compare our time with the past (1). But in this case, science and reason seem to be winning the eternal battle between the secular humanists and those who see themselves as believers. The evidence is all around us.

In the United States Catholic churches are emptying, while larger churches that I refer to as “Retail Churches”, are flourishing. Catholics attend to discover faith, the latter seems to attend in order to buy it. In Europe most churches are emptying as well and atheism is no longer a taboo subject not to be discussed in certain company, or among a few fringe scholars. More and more, people seem unaffected by the prospect of a life without God, as religious holidays have de-evolved into orgies of over consumption and vanity, less and less resembling generally accepted traditions rooted in the church we knew as children.

A new world economy is also a factor.

People simply no longer have the time, or quite frankly the energy to attend services, much less volunteer extra time to the poor or to other church activities. On a more academic level, those of us who had an issue with God find it a bit liberating to be rid of a God who only existed to ensure we kept our Sunday and holiday schedule of attending church, less we be damned to the eternal fires of Hell. Parents are all working two jobs or more just to survive, and the very idea of another ‘activity’ added to the weekly run of endless soccer games, boy scouts, cheer-leading and various other after school activities, seems almost too much to take. Something must lose, and more people are choosing to opt out of church.

So this is the background. Given these ideas, I will attempt to support my assertion that God is becoming less relevant and less common. In the end we must all deal with the idea that the sometimes hideous and conspicuously absent deity that we have experienced through religion, and that is accepted as authentic by Christians, Muslims, and Jews, may be nothing more than an unfortunate aberration that has been used by those in positions of power to control populations and cultures in the name of material gain.

We must also face the fact that this same deity may also have run it’s course as a convenient and necessary explanation, that has helped to fill a hole in human consciousness and understanding.

Maybe we have grown up and much like children who shed their belief of Santa, various cultures are shedding the practice of theism.

1. Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels (London, 1970), p. 58

Happy Holidays from Your Friends at the Vermont Department of Social Services…


Reprinted from the Canadian Press… 

A homeless man thought he was doing some good by standing at a supermarket for 10 hours a day to get shoppers to donate money into a red Salvation Army kettle.

The shelter where Paul Tucker lives doesn’t see it that way.

The Good Samaritan Haven ordered him out by Saturday, saying Tucker, 48, is spending his time raising money for the needy instead of finding a place to live or looking for work.

The 20-bed shelter offers emergency housing, clothing and food, and requires clients to leave each day at 7 a.m. to look for housing or go to work, executive director Paul Mascitti said.

The average guest stays 29 days, Mascitti said. Tucker has been there since May.

“If you’re not doing anything 10 hours a day, whether it’s lounging on a beach or working for the Salvation Army or sitting at a Dunkin’ Donuts, you’re breaking your contract with us,” Mascitti said.

“I can’t see someone saying, ‘I’m going to benefit mankind when I haven’t taken care of myself.”‘

The Salvation Army, which runs a soup kitchen he frequents, gave Tucker one of the bell ringer jobs two weeks ago. The gig pays $20 a day for meals.

“He’s a sweet man; he’d do anything for anybody,” said Capt. Louis Patrick, who runs the local group.

Dressed in a knit Salvation Army cap and wearing a Salvation Army coat, Tucker solicits the donations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. under a sign that reads: “Sharing and Caring. Need Knows No Season.”

“It’s for generosity, really,” he said.

Tucker, who has worked as a painter, a farmer and a maintenance worker at a fast-food restaurant, has been getting well-wishes from shoppers who know of his situation and holds no ill will toward the shelter.

“I don’t find fault with them, but I don’t feel it’s quite right,” he said.

Tucker said he isn’t sure where he’ll go when he clears out of the shelter. There’s a hiking camp he’s heard about nearby and may go there.

Mascitti, meanwhile, makes no apologies. Rules are rules, he said.

“Here it is, the ‘Grinch’ time of the year, and this guy is being asked to leave the homeless shelter, no room at the inn. It’s an old story,” he said.

You think Mascitti is a ‘law-and-order’ Republican?

I think so.

Besides, if Tucker is getting paid by the Salvation Army ($20.00), doesn’t that qualify as work? Furthermore, if you don’t have a real job and no income, how do you find a place to live?

It’s the same old institutional double standard handed down by administrators driving Cadillacs and living in the suburbs, who are trying desperately to make “poor” disappear, or worse yet, criminalize them (another Republican platform). 

I don’t get it.

Merry Christmas.

I Know Bush is at War with the English Language but…


I stumbled on some more recent gems…enjoy

“There are some similarities, of course (between Iraq and Vietnam). Death is terrible.” –George W. Bush, Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

“I’ve been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at times.” –George W. Bush, Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

“Suiciders are willing to kill innocent life in order to send the projection that this is an impossible mission.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 3, 2007

“And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I’m sorry it’s the case, and I’ll work hard to try to elevate it.” –George W. Bush, interview on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

“The best way to defeat the totalitarian of hate is with an ideology of hope — an ideology of hate — excuse me –with an ideology of hope.” –George W. Bush, Fort Benning, Ga., Jan. 11, 2007

“Either we’ll succeed, or we won’t succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not no violence.” –George W. Bush, on Iraq, Washington, D.C., May 2, 2007

“Information is moving — you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it’s also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 2, 2007

“I’m going to try to see if I can remember as much to make it sound like I’m smart on the subject.” –George W. Bush, answering a question about a possible flu pandemic, Cleveland, July 10, 2007

“You know, I guess I’m like any other political figure: Everybody wants to be loved.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., July 12, 2007

“More than two decades later, it is hard to imagine the Revolutionary War coming out any other way.” –George W. Bush, Martinsburg, W. Va., July 4, 2007

“I heard somebody say, ‘Where’s (Nelson) Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead. Because Saddam killed all the Mandelas.” –George W. Bush, on the former South African president, who is still very much alive, Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2007

“Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit.” –George W. Bush, addressing Australian Prime Minister John Howard at the APEC Summit, Sept. 7, 207

“As John Howard accurately noted when he went to thank the Austrian troops there last year…” –George W. Bush, referring to Australian troops as “Austrian troops,” APEC Business Summit, Sept. 7, 2007

Thank you Mr. President.

States Sue Over Poison Released Into the Environment…


This a follow-up to a recent post on illegal chemical testing on U.S. citizens…  

Twelve states sued the Bush administration Wednesday to force greater disclosure of data on toxic chemicals that companies store, use and release into the environment.

The state officials oppose new federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that allow thousands of companies to limit the information they disclose to the public about toxic chemicals, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the lead attorney general in the lawsuit.

The change lets 100 polluters off the hook in New York alone, he said.

The EPA, however, said the change improves the Toxics Release Inventory law and eases requirements only on companies that can certify they have no releases of toxins to the environment.

The EPA this year rolled back a regulation on the law signed by President Reagan after the deadly Bhopal toxic chemical catastrophe in India in 1984, according to the states involved in the lawsuit. That law required companies to provide a long, detailed report whenever they store or emit 500 pounds of specific toxins.

The new rule adopted this year requires that long accounting only for companies storing or releasing 5,000 pounds of toxins or more. Companies storing or releasing 500 to 4,999 pounds of toxins would have to file an abbreviated form, said Katherine Kennedy, New York’s special deputy attorney general for environmental protection.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York City seeks to invalidate the EPA’s revised regulations.

“The EPA’s new regulations rob New Yorkers — and people across the country — of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards,” Cuomo said. “Along with 11 other states throughout the nation, we will restore the public’s right to information about chemical hazards, despite the Bush administration’s best attempts to hide it.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the EPA’s action marginalizes a 20-year program that required companies to report the amount of lead, mercury and other toxins they released.

“Polluters can release 10 times more toxins like lead and mercury without telling anyone,” he said.

EPA spokeswoman Molly O’Neill had no comment on the suit. Companies that can show they release none of the toxins can avoid filing long and time-consuming reports, she said.

The change, O’Neill said, is “making a good program better.”

Not really Molly.

More than 300 companies in states like California and New jersey can conceal data under the new EPA rule, which is what the Bush administration wants. This rule change has no teeth at all. It is just another example of Republican ‘let-industry-police-itself’ policy not serving the public good.  

To combat this nonsense, states have chosen to file law suits, which I’m sure the Republicans will blame on trial lawyers as well.

“We feel the only course of action was to file suit and remedy this in the courts,” said Cuomo spokesman Jeffrey Lerner. 

Other states suing the EPA are Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

This is what you get when you pack the EPA with a bunch of convicted ex-industry polluters and old oil executive buddies.

No surprise to me.

Thanks for Your Support!


After only three months of regular posting, our blog has achieved the 10,000+ hit mark! I just wanted to take a minute to thank all of our readers that are growing this blog at a rate of 100% per month! Look for new features and content in the coming months as we continue to strive toward our goal of becoming one of the top political blogs on the web.