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.
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.
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.
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 Target.com.
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 Target.com (but not in Target stores) and at one2believe.com.
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.
We thought, here at ShadowDemocracy.org, 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…
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…
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?
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.
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.
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 here…Does 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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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
Reprinted from RawStory.com
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.
“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”.
iCausualities.org, 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.
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.
A quick spine check of the Democratic Party has revealed Jell-O once again…
Reprinted fron the Washington Post
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.
(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
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.
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.
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.
U.S. fourth-graders have lost ground in reading ability compared with kids around the world, according to results of a global reading test.
Test results released on Wednesday showed U.S. students scored about the same as they did in 2001, the last time the test was given. During the interim, there has been an increased emphasis on reading under Bush’s No Child Left Behind act.
The U.S. average score on the Progress in International Reading Literacy test remained above the international average. However, ten countries including Hong Kong and three Canadian provinces, were ahead of the United States this time. In 2001, only three countries were ahead of the United States.
The loss of academic ground is
The 2002 No Child Left Behind law requires schools to test students annually in reading and math, and imposes sanctions on schools that miss testing goals.
The U.S. performance metrics on an international test of 45 nations differed from results of a U.S. national reading test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card. Fourth-grade reading scores rose modestly on the most recent version of that test, taken earlier this year and measuring growth since 2005. During the previous two-year period, scores were flat.
On the latest international exam, U.S. students posted a lower average score than students in Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, along with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.
Interesting how the U.S. metrics showed progress while other countries’ metrics seem to indicate we are getting dumber.
Hong Kong and Singapore have taken steps such as increasing teacher preparation, providing more tutoring and raising public awareness about the importance of reading, said Ina Mullis, co-director of the International Study Center at Boston College, which conducts the international reading literacy study.
Countries that improved since 2001 included Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Singapore, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
Countries that declined included England, Lithuania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden. Sweden still outperformed the United States this time around, but average scores in England and the Netherlands were not measurably different from the U.S. average.
Overall, girls scored higher than boys in the United States and all other countries except for Luxembourg and Spain, where the boy-girl scores were the same.
The average U.S. score was above the average score in 22 countries or jurisdictions and about the same as the score in 12 others. The U.S. average fell toward the high end of a level called “intermediate.” At that level, a student can identify central events, plot sequences and relevant story details in texts. The student also can make straightforward inferences from what is read and begin to make connections across parts of the text.
Background questionnaires administered to students, teachers and school administrators showed that the average years of experience for fourth-grade teachers in the United States decreased from 15 years to 12 years between 2001 and 2006. The international average was 17 years.
U.S. kids seem to get more reading instruction than others. U.S. teachers were more likely to report teaching reading for more than six hours per week than those elsewhere.
In my opinion the public education has devolved from the classical approach of character plus basics (reading, writing, arithmetic, respect, and responsibility), to skills, to psychological-social engineering. Today, education “experts” celebrate their doctrines of multiculturalism and values clarification, but sadly, the experts have been too preoccupied with experimental education, diversity training, evolution-instruction, to wake up and realize that 68 percent of students are unprepared for college.
The long and short of it is…what they are doing…isn’t working.
Check the Nation’s Report Card here…