Thursday, July 31, 2014

Has GOP Vitriol Against President Obama Undermined Diplomacy and Emboldened Putin?

by Nomad

If Putin doesn't seem very worried about President Obama's warnings against Russian new expansionist policies, it shouldn't come as a shock. 
With the Republicans launching attack after attack on the President, attempting to undermine his authority, it's only natural that Putin wouldn't take the American president seriously.

Kent Schäfer, Outreach Program Director for Progressive Centralists, asks a important question in the op-ed piece below. By constantly painting the president as a weak leader, Schafer asks, have Obama's right wing critics and Putin admirers simply emboldened the Russian leader?

First, I believe that Sarah Palin's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in concert with other harshly worded conservative statements, crafted to paint Barack Obama as weak  -- have played a significant role in the Russian proxy-invasion of the Crimean Peninsula, eastern Ukraine, and in the death of those killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight-17. 

Do my thoughts come easily? Am I just lambasting my opponents with empty rhetoric? No. 

It hurts my patriotic soul to think that Americans, in an unabashed quest for fame and voter support, would undermine our country and our president and risk much to further their self serving "free speech" condemnation of our foreign policy. We (the U.S.) represent a chief obstacle to Putin's unlawful expansion by force throughout Europe —and not for a second should any American believe that Russian leaders and their Oligarchy would not continue to invade (by proxy) countries at will if unopposed; 

—the Kremlin is just waiting with 'baited breath' for the opportunity to protract their crescive regional power and exploit the natural and human resources of each fallen state as they go.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pitchforks and Fundraising Pitches: How the Threat of Impeachment has Backfired on the GOP

by Nomad

After so much loose talk about impeaching President Obama, the GOP appears to be scoring own goals for Democratic campaign fundraising efforts.

In yet another example of a Republican self-inflicted wound, the Washington Post yesterday reported that, due to the threat of impeachment from top conservatives, the Democrats are cashing in big time.

Only Themselves to Blame
The Post article explained that the the Democrats' congressional campaign arm managed to rake in $2.1 million over the weekend, thanks, analysts say, largely because of the casual (and largely groundless) talk from House Republicans of impeaching President Obama.
Democrats have consistently used impeachment -- a prospect that has been floated by several prominent conservatives but has not been embraced by most of the Republican establishment -- to fill their campaign coffers and their polling has shown that fear of an impeachment attempt as well as the House GOP's current attempts to sue President Obama have the potential to drive midterm turnout on the left.
As the House Rules committee marched forward with a legal action against the president and his use of executive action, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has collected more than 114,000 donations since last Thursday.

If, fundraisers warn, the Democratic party loses control of both chambers of Congress, the next step will be impeachment.
Fear-mongering or a likely scenario? 
That depends on which side of the aisle you sit. Using the dread of a long and tiresome (and expensive) impeachment process- which could drag out for the remainder of Obama's presidency- appears to be a effective fundraising pitch for the Democrats.  
And the most humiliating part is that the successful pitch was laid in their laps by the Republican Tea Party rogues. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

In Memory of Owen Brooks: Mississippi's Civil Rights Veteran

by Nomad

Remembering one of the veterans of the civil rights movement who never stopped fighting for the Mississippi's black community.

Owen H. Brooks is probably not a name you've heard of. I know I hadn't before I saw his obit in a Mississippi newspaper the other day.

As a civil rights leader in Mississippi for over 40 years, Brooks was one of those rare types who possessed both the motivating idealism but also the stamina and long-term commitment to make a difference.

Brooks, the son of West Indian immigrants, was born in New York in 1929 and raised in Boston. He said that he had become politically active at the age of 13. No surprise, perhaps.
 It was a part of his upbringing.
His mother was reportedly a big supporter of Marcus Garvey, a black leader in the early years of the 20th century who promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands.

Another childhood icon was African-American singer and actor Paul Robeson whose advocacy of anti-imperialism, affiliation with communism, and criticism of the United States government resulted in his being blacklisted during the Red Scare of the 1950s. (Brooks actually met Robeson on several occasions.)

Brooks graduated Northeastern University as an electronics engineer but gave up that comfortable career to join the civil rights movement. Attending the March on Washington in 1963, along with more than 200,000 Americans Owen was moved by the speeches of Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders.

While in Boston, Brooks had been an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and helped with fundraising efforts in Boston Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), one of the most important organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.   
He decided to put his idealism to the test and took a major step which would change his life. During early to mid-1960, all liberal eyes around the country were focused on Mississippi. In response to discriminatory state policies, thousands of idealistic civil rights workers flooded the state to defeat segregation. 

In 1965, Brook was one such "outside agitator."  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Apocalypse Avoided: Did Nazi Germany Plan to Nuke New York City?

by Nomad

Two years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, a claim  by a top level US missile defense chief reveals how close we came to nuclear war.

While trawling the archives, I stumbled across an August 2 1947 newspaper article. According to the piece, a top level official for Air Force alleged that Germans had made plans to launch a nuclear attack from the other side of the Atlantic in order to destroy New York City.

That allegation was made by Brig. General William L.Richardson in a CBS science radio show. As  chief of the Guided Missiles Division in the Office of the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff for Operations at Army Air Force headquarters, Richardson is clearly a person who ought to know what he was talking about.  His career was, to say the least, illustrious. Here's a snippet of his biography prior to this statement:
Joining the War Department General staff in June 1941, he was assigned to the Planning Branch of the Operations and Training Division.

Going to England in August 1942, General Richardson was assigned to the Eighth Air Force staff where he organized and trained its airdrome defense units. The following February he went to North Africa to study air defense operations, and in March 1943 returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, to organize and train the 51st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade. Four months later this brigade was assigned to the Fourth Air Force, which was defending the West Coast and training Air Force units for overseas theaters.
In December 1943, General Richardson organized and trained the Ninth Air Defense Command of the Ninth Air Force, and planned the air defense operations for the continental invasion. 

According to Richardson, the Germans had developed a two-stage rocket known as the "A" series, a progression of advanced rocketry. This series included the V-2 rockets which were used to devastate London and other cities in Great Britain. 
It is not hard to visualize what might have been in store for the Allies had the Germans been given sufficient time to complete developments.
The article is quite specific. Richardson explains that each of the "A" series was developed primarily for research. However, the A-4, was the only rocket design that actually became operational when it was re-named the V-2. The A-series, according to Richardson, was to culminate in the A-10, a weapon to bomb New York City from launch sites in Europe. 

The project was, in fact, codenamed Projekt Amerika with a launch date of 1946. (The rocket reportedly had one weakness, its guidance system was inaccurate at such long distances, requiring a pilot to make the one-way trip across the Atlantic.) 

Although that weapon was never actually constructed, all design studies and computation had been completed. So how close did they come to realizing the goal? 
Richardson claims that the A-10 "could have been built and served its purpose provided the German had been given another year of development and production."
Of course, some historians- with the advantage of historical perspective and later uncovered evidence- might not concur with Richardson's assessment.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Century Old Historical Mashup: Malaysian Flight MH 17 and the RMS Lusitania

by Nomad

They often say history repeats itself but that's not actually true. Usually some elements of past history are re-formed to create something vaguely familiar.

The downing of Malaysian Flight MH 17 bears some strange and ominous similarities to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania nearly one hundred years earlier.

Last month marked the 100-year anniversary of the advent of World War I. On 28 June 1914, a seemingly regional event, the Sarajevo assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian nationalist, set off a chain of unexpected events that led to global war. 
It seems, historians tell us, that no nation was prepared to back down. The inescapable gravity of war pulled nations into a conflict that would eventually lead to the deaths of millions of lives. 

That conflict also marked the first use of poison gas on the battlefield.  In January 1915, the German military fired shells of a lethal gas, xylyl bromide, at Russian troops near the Polish village of Bolimów on the eastern front. More than 1,000 were reportedly killed as a result of this frightening new weapon. Had it not been for the cold weather, the number of fatalities could have been far higher. 

Yet as dreadful as that was, it turned out to be just a preview of things to come.

On April 22, 1915, German forces shocked Allied soldiers along the western front by firing more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against two French colonial divisions at Ypres, Belgium.

The release of the gas formed a gray-green cloud that drifted across positions held by French Colonial troops from Martinique. The soldiers were terrified and fled, abandoning their trenches and left the front line exposed. In spite of that "success", the German army was unable to seize the advantage. They too were terrified of the effects of the gas.

This was a red line that no other nation had yet dared to cross.
When Allied armies claimed the gas was a clear violation of international law, the Germans simply argued that technically it was not. That ban, they claimed, cover chemical shells. The lethal gas in this battle was released through gas projectors, (or spraying mist projectors similar to those used in neighbors mosquito eradication.)

The Dangerous Illusion of Security 
As horrible as the escalation was, it too, only a month later, the world would be shocked speechless into abject revulsion.
On May 15, 1915, the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat  while  en route from New York to Liverpool, England. Warnings from the German Embassy had been published in newspapers about the risks of traveling into a war zone.

In February of that year, the German navy had adopted a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and ,had decided to up the ante by blockade the British shipping lanes (Later investigations proved that the Germans were correct in their assumptions that munitions were being shipped via the passenger ship. That did not make the sinking of an unarmed passenger liner any less of an atrocity, of course.)

To the travelers, however,  that risk was thought to be exaggerated. The very idea of any civilized nation daring sink a huge commercial liner filled with innocent victims.
It was unthinkable.
And yet, tragically, the unthinkable sometimes happens.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Oklahoma's Same Sex Marriage Ban Overturned: Learning American Civics the Hard Way

by Nomad

When federal judges overturned the same-sex marriage ban in Oklahoma, the state's governor was fighting mad. She claimed that the judges had "trampled" on states rights. Perhaps Fallin needs to remember this isn't Russia.
The American system isn't based on mob rule.

After a federal appeals courts- in keeping with a nationwide trend- ruled that Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage was a violation of the Constitution, Republican politicians in the state were predictably outraged. AP reports:
The decision by a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upholding a federal judge's ruling is the latest in a decade-long legal battle. That fight was launched by two couples - Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton - shortly after 76 percent of Oklahoma voters backed the ban in 2004.
What is interesting - and somewhat depressing- was the response by conservative leaders to the news. The courts, they claimed, had overstepped its bounds. They believe that It should be up to the populations of the states to decide, not activist judges.  
The article quotes the governor of Oklahoma, the quite contrary Mary Fallin:
"Today's ruling is another instance of federal courts ignoring the will of the people and trampling on the right of states to govern themselves..In this case, two judges have acted to overturn a law supported by Oklahomans."
In typical rabble-rousing fashion, she told reporters that the decision would hopefully be overturned. That seems quite unlikely given the Supreme Court's' decision on this subject. Fallin pledged to "fight back against our federal government when it seeks to ignore or change laws written and supported by Oklahomans."

Those are provocative words, especially in a state that has already seen what happens when people "fight back against the federal government." They blow up federal office buildings and kill innocent victims including pre-school children.
It was an extremely insensitive and irresponsible thing for a governor to say when politics are already so heated.

In any case, it isn't just the federal government that people like Fallin want to take duke it out with. 
They want to overturn over nearly two hundred and fifty years of constitutional law. They literally want to outlaw the principles of the founding fathers.   

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Threats and Poison Letters to the President Land Texas Actress in Prison for 18 years

by Nomad

A Texas Court threw the book at a woman for threats to the president. Politics may have had little to do with this case but threatening the president's life has become all too common.

Shouldn't the Secret Service and the courts be doing more to make this a less attractive way to get attention?

Straight from the "But.. I'm a victim too" category.

The Poison Post Plot
Shannon Guess Richardson, a 39-year-old actress from Texas, was sentenced to 18 years in prison this week for sending a trio of poison letters to politicians, including the President.
At her trial, Richardson threw out every stop to win the heart of the judge. She might have hoped to win a reduced sentence by pleading guilty to the charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin. If so,the legal ploy wasn't too successful.  
At the sentencing phase, Richardson explained that she "never intended for anybody to be hurt," and added that she was  "not a bad person; I don't have it in me to hurt anyone."

Judge Michael H. Schneider was unconvinced and gave her the maximum sentence and ordered her to pay restitution of around $367,000. He also noted that Richardson had put many lives in danger and threatened public officials.

Shannon Richardson's acting career was limited to minor roles in TV series, such as "The Walking Dead"  (Third zombie from the right.) But, due to her poorly-thought-out and very dangerous plotting,  that is all gone now. 

Tea Party Accuses Catholic Charities of Conspiracy with Obama over Immigrant Children Issue

  by Nomad

With ignorance on full display, a Tea Party Leader in Texas has accused Catholic Charities for conspiring with the Obama Administration. How? By sheltering and caring for the flood of immigrant children.

What does this say about our self-image as a nation, as a "City on the Hill"? What does the reaction by some in the Tea Party about their Christian credentials ?

Bud Kennedy, columnist for the Ft.Worth Star-Telegram, has recently called out an East Texas Tea Party leader for jumping on the  bandwagon and promoting nationwide yet another baseless conspiracy.  Their suspicions have targeted  Catholic Charities for trying to help with the influx of immigrant children.

Misguided Suspicions
One right-wing website,, broke the story that the Obama administration had advanced knowledge of, as its writer put it, the planned invasion. This conspiracy, it seems, was based solely on what Kennedy calls, one East Texas Republican’s "misguided suspicions."

So what is she basing this allegation on? The Longview Republican Terri Harris Hill points to federal records that show that the local Catholic Charities received $350,000 last year for immigration services.

LibertyNews also noted that:
Between Dec 2010 and Nov 2013, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Galveston received $15,549,078 in federal grants from Health & Human Services for “Unaccompanied Alien Children Project” with a program description of “Refugee and Entry Assistance.
Based solely on this information, LibertyNews has accused Catholic Charities in Texas of conspiring in “the invasion currently underway.”

Kennedy quotes Hill telling a phone interviewer:
“I think there is something suspicious because the government started awarding grants before the surge. I mean, how did they know?”
How indeed? 
The answer is remarkably easy to explain, according to the columnist.
Tens of thousands of foreign children each year come to the United States without a parent or legal permission. Under a quirk in a 2008 law, children from Mexico are returned, but Central American children stay in shelters or with families until a court rules if they are refugees or trafficking victims. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The GOP and Reparative Therapy: Why the Tea Party in Texas Just Opened a New Can of Worms for 2016

by Nomad

Thanks to a Supreme Court's decision, the idea of Reparative or Conversion therapy- attempting to convert gay people, including young adults, to happy heterosexuals, has been dealt a devastating blow. That's not a surprise.

The medical community has largely rejected the pseudo-science and warned of its psychological hazards.

So why did the Texas GOP 2014 platform come out strongly in support of it?

When No Comment is a Relief
So is this how far the Supreme Court has sunk?
A recent headline in ThinkProgress proclaims  the Supreme Court's decision not to rule on a controversial case involving a gay rights issue as a victory- a good thing. That says a lot about how much public trust remains with the High Court when the best news of the day comes when the Supreme Court stops making decisions. 

In this case, we can all breath a sigh of relief that the Court refused to intervene in the case, challenging California’s ban on ex-gay therapy for minors. That leaves the ban in place. And some conservatives were naturally peeved.

The case stems from a conservative challenge by the Pacific Justice Institute and ex-gay group NARTH and the Liberty Counsel to a California law banning such therapy. The lower courts had dismissed the conservative groups' claim that- wait for this- a ban violated the free speech of therapists.
As the article notes:
California was the first state to pass a law protecting minors from being subjected to therapies that attempt to de-gay their sexual orientations in 2012. Conservative groups promptly sued on behalf of ex-gay therapists who felt the ban infringed on their freedom of speech with clients. After two conflicting lower court rulings, the Ninth Circuit ruled last summer that the ban is constitutional. The conservative groups appealed to the Supreme Court, but its decision not to hear it means that the cases are over and the ban remains in place.
 For example, here is an excerpt from an article on the California law
It bans a form of medical treatment for minors; it does nothing to prevent licensed therapists from discussing the pros and cons of SOCE [sexual orientation change efforts ] with their patients....
 Treatment is not a form of free speech, the court decided and, therefore, deserves no protection.  
Because SB 1172 regulates only treatment, while leaving mental health providers free to discuss and recommend, or recommend against, SOCE, we conclude that any effect it may have on free speech interests is merely incidental.
What a relief: No therapist's free speech was injured in the making of that ruling. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dead Woman Walking: The Remarkable Resurrection of Margaret Dickson

by Nomad

The remarkable story of Margaret Dickson illustrates how church and state often worked hand in hand to create untold suffering for women, especially when it came to reproductive issues. Fortunately for all us, we live in a much more enlightened age.

Infanticide in the Age of Reason

When it comes to matters sexual or reproductive, women have throughout history, usually been society's victims. Such is the case of one Scottish peasant named Margaret Dickson.
In order to tell properly her following horrific story, we have to explore the historical background a little.

Before the Age of Reason really got a foothold, one notorious social problem was infanticide- the murder of a child within a year of birth. This type of crime was, as one historian put it, "woefully common." As a crime, it has long been considered the most contrary to human nature since the love of a helpless baby would, on the surface, appear to be ingrained in our maternal instincts and our universal sense of self-preservative.
What kind of pressure could induce any woman to commit such a heinous crime?

Yale history professor Keith Wrightson  sheds a bit of light on the subject:
While it was certainly not a generally tolerated practice, infanticide would appear to have had a considerable currency in the disposal of a minority of unwanted, predominately illegitimate children.
It was unsurprisingly both a capital crime by the state and an unpardonable sin by the Church. And yet, many historians theorize that it was a fairly common practice at that time.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why are Singapore Authorities Afraid of Same-Sex Penguins?

by Nomad

So, what has Singapore got against gay penguins? Why has this tiny Asian city-state decided to collect and destroy all copies of a children's book? 

This week, both the BBC reported on a small (and rather pathetic) news story about one Asian nation's censorship of gay themes in children's books. According to the source:
Singapore authorities have withdrawn from libraries two children's books featuring same-sex couples, sparking controversy amid a debate on gay rights in the conservative city-state.
The two books in question were "And Tango Makes Three" - a story based on true events about two male penguins at New York's Central Park. The other is entitled "The White Swan Express" which merely mentions- though it does not feature- a lesbian couple seeking to adopt a child.
The two books were removed earlier this week after a library user wrote into the National Library Board expressing concern about the books' content.
The library board said in a statement that it takes "a pro-family and cautious approach in identifying titles for our young visitors", and plans to pulp the books despite vocal opposition.
It shouldn't come as any big shock. Singapore has for some time been known as a place where interference and restrictions in the lives of its citizens is all too routine. Over the years, the authorities in the tiny Southeast Asian city- state have felt no qualms about encroaching on its citizens' civil liberties.

In fact, although gay and civil rights groups have recently sought to overturn the laws with two constitutional challenges. homosexuality is still illegal in Singapore. As a concession (of sorts), the Singaporean government stated that, while it will retain the law to reflect mainstream society's stand on the issue, the anti-gay laws will not be actively enforced. 
(Of course, there is always a critical difference between mere tolerance and actual acceptance. The fact that the laws are still on the books and still could be used is seen by some as an unspoken threat.)

FaceBook Fans Outraged by Dinosaur Hunter Steven Spielberg Safari Photo

by Nomad

Most people have heard that some fundamental Christians in the US have a few pretty crazy ideas about creation and evolution. 
Two years ago, evangelist Pat Robertson made headlines by throwing cold water on the long-standing notion that the Earth was only 6,000 years. His followers must have been gasping in sheer disbelief when he announced:
(T)here was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don’t try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That’s not the Bible.”
“If you fight science, you’re going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was.”
The end of that quote suggests that Robertson might actually remember "the way it was."

In battle of science and ignorance- religiously inspired or not- it seems as though, the dark side might have already won. If you need any more evidence than Fox News programming, then take this story by Ella Alexander, writing for the Irish Independent

According to an article, a Facebook member, Jay Branscomb, thought it would be a hoot to attach an absurd caption to a photo one of his Jurassic Park films. 

It was, in fact, a sly comment on Facebook decision to delete photos from a cheerleader who had posted safari shots of animals that she had killed, including a leopard and a lion.

The photo in question (right) shows Spielberg posed beside a dinosaur model- a mechanical Triceratops, to be exact.
Clever prankster Branscomb wrote:
“Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.”
Branscomb was amazed, amused and appalled by the reaction from some of his followers.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt Reveals the Ugly Truth Behind Ted Cruz's Federal Land Sell-off Bill

by Nomad

Roosevelt, Teddy
Here's a quote by the I found from over a hundred years ago. Our 26th President has something he has been waiting patiently to tell us about tricks of the Tea Party Republicans and their conservative principles.

If there is one person who can expose the corruption of today's Republican party, it is yesteryear's Republican, Theodore Roosevelt.

Here is a 1913 snippet from his autobiography, regarding legislation protecting government- owned lands from the exploitation by the robber barons of his age.
It is better for the government to help a poor man to make a living for his family than to help a rich man to make a living for his company. This principle was too sound to be fought openly. It is the kind of principle to which politicians delight to pay unctuous homage in words. But we translated the words into deeds; and when they found that this was the case, many rich men... were stirred to hostility, and they used the congressmen they controlled to assault us- getting most aid from certain demagogues, who were equally glad improperly to denounce rich men in public and improperly to serve them in public. 

The same old tricks are being used all over again and by all appearances, half the nation has been bamboozled by the same political charlatans and puppets of special interests.
Case in point?
Senator Ted Cruz's underhanded legislative fiddling this week.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Supreme Court and Legislative Corrections: The Hobby Lobby Pushback Begins

by Nomad

When it comes to the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling, the mainstream media are predictably attempting to portray the Congressional reaction as a partisan one, with liberal Democrats on one side and conservative Republicans on the other. That's true but the issue that arise decision go far beyond party lines. 
And it could spell serious trouble for Republicans in the mid-terms.

In response to the Supreme court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, senior United States Democratic Senator from Washington, Patty Murray, has introduced legislation to combat what some have called judicial activism by the court.
According to ABC News:
The bill, the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, mandates that employers cannot disrupt coverage for contraception or other health services that are guaranteed under federal law. It comes a week after the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling that closely held for-profit companies can deny contraceptive coverage under their company health plans if it goes against a sincerely held religious belief.
Rather inaccurately, the news report also states:
Although the court issued a narrow ruling focused on contraception in the Hobby Lobby case, some Democratic leaders fear the decision sets a precedent that could allow employers to deny other health care coverage based on religious beliefs.
In fact this was not as much a partisan issue as the writer would have you believe. It is also a gender issue, affecting both conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican women. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Discrimination, Religious Liberty and Satan Worshippers in Oklahoma

by Nomad

Devil worshipWhen a Satan-worshipping Church wanted to hold a Black Mass in the Oklahoma City Civic Center, a few Christian religious groups began having second thoughts about everybody's right to religious liberty.

According to an article in the Oklahoma Gazette, unlimited religious freedom has some Christian leaders in the Sooner state holding their noses.

The controversy began when Oklahoma City Civic Center decided to rent its smallest meeting space to a group of Satanists to perform a Black Mass in September. That decision had some people, including the Catholic Archbishop Paul Coakley, steaming. They urged the city, which manages the Civic Center, to turn away the devil-worshippers. 

According to the article:
“We’re astonished and grieved that the Civic Center would promote as entertainment and sell tickets for an event that is very transparently a blasphemous mockery of the Mass,” Coakley said in a statement this week.
This would be the fourth such event staged by the Church of the IV Majesties. In 2010, its "public satanic exorcism" causes a similar outcry from local religious leaders. The Satanic Church is, it might surprise you to learn, a  legally recognized religion, based in San Francisco. According to its website
There are now Agents of the Church of Satan in most major North American and European cities and there are countless numbers of people throughout the world who practice our teachings without formally affiliating with the fountainhead of contemporary Satanism.
(Whether that includes the Church of IV Majesties is not clear.)

In fact, the hoopla was all a bit of a tempest in a teapot. A staggering forty-five people attended the 2010 service, 8 the following year and a total of nobody the next year. So far, the Black Mass- despite the unintentional advertising by the Catholic Church- has sold only five tickets.

Civic Center general manager Jim Brown explained to reporters that, despite the loud objections,  the Civic Center had a legal obligation to welcome any group, no matter its religious stance.
“We don’t get involved in programing,” Brown said. “Because we are a city-run facility, our legal department has said they are protected by the First Amendment.” 
That's a very wise decision by the legal eagles. 

Between Fundamentalism and Tyranny

by Nomad

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Best Supreme Court Money Can Buy

by Nomad

Supreme CourtThe disgrace of the Supreme Court's infatuation with corporations will, unfortunately, leave a stain on American justice long after the conservative Justices have retired.

The Alliance for Justice, (AFJ) an umbrella organization representing "a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society" has called the Supreme Court out for its unprecedented judgements favoring corporations.
With decision after decision coming down on the side of big business, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has proven itself to be willing and eager to twist the law to favor powerful corporate interests over everyday Americans.
The Supreme Court has clearly departed from its mandate to interpret the Constitution  and has taken upon itself to establish activist policies
In just the last few years, the Court has radically rewritten laws in order to shield big business from liability, insulate corporate interests from environmental and antitrust regulation, make it easier for companies to discriminate against women and the elderly, and enable powerful interests to flood our election process with special interest dollars. Fairness has been thrown out the window. The 1% keep winning while the 99% keep losing.
Its website lists the Court's infamous record of using the law to protect corporations. These are less widely known cases compared to the notorious Citizens United case or the recent Hobby Lobby decision. Nevertheless the legal precedents they set will have a negative impact for years to come.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Mysterious 1942 Death of Dr. Foster and Tesla's Healing Rays

by Nomad

Unearthed from the archives here is the curious death of Dr. Foster, a young and promising Manhattan physician. Was his sudden breakdown and mysterious death in 1942 linked to the suppression of a revolutionary medical discovery by Nikola Tesla.

Some might consider one of my hobbies to be a little eccentric. I like to go through the old newspapers and find odd news or snapshots of long-forgotten drama. To me, it's fascinating how often you find little treasures or peculiar mysteries that have long been buried in the past.
While the following post is not technically a "political" issue, I thought it was interesting enough to pass along. I will admit that there is a great deal of speculation involved and possibly there are no connections to the events in the post.

The Foster Mystery

With that said, hop into my time machine and we will return to January 1942 to investigate the death of a young Manhattan doctor.

Dr. Allyn King Foster Death
Doctor's Mystery Death 
Opens 3 Investigations
Son of Late Boro Pastor Had Fractured Larynx, Autopsy at Bellevue Reveals

( January 19, 1942) 
A triple investigation was under way today into the death at Bellevue Hospital, Manhattan, of Dr. Allyn King Foster, Jr. 37 of E. 96th St. Manhattan, son of the late Rev. Dr. Allyn King Foster, pastor of the Washington Avenue and Marcy Avenue Baptist Churches.

The doctor was taken to Bellevue last Monday after a policeman had found him without hat or overcoat in a dazed condition at W. 56th St. and 6th Ave. Manhattan. His office was at 136 E. 57th St. Manhattan. He was placed in the psychiatric division. It was said that because he was uncooperative" forcible feeding had to be resorted to several times. He died Saturday evening while a friend of his family was arranging his transfer to another hospital.

Wife Asks Autopsy
Dr. Foster's wife, Elsa, requested an autopsy. As a result of the findings by Assistant Medical Examiner Philip Goldstein, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner ordered an examination. Assistant District Attorney Jacob Grumet of the Homicide Bureau of the New York County prosecutor's office, started an inquiry. 
A third was begun by police of W. 54th St. Station, the precinct in which he was found., and by the police of the E. 35th st. Station, the Bellevue precinct, because of the possibility of his having been injured in the hospital. 

Larynx Fractured
It was stated that Dr. Foster was found to have a fractured larynx, foreign matter in his bronchial tubes, and evidence of asphyxiation. Police said a fractured larynx was frequently an indication of a mugging- a holdup in which one bandit, standing behind the victim, throws an arm around his throat, choking him and forcing his head back while a second goes through his pockets.

Born in Cornwall, N.Y., Dr. Foster  was educated at Brooklyn Poly Prep. Colgate University, Rush Medical School of the University of Chicago and interned at St. Luke's Hospital. He was a junior assistant surgeon in his outpatient department, assistant surgeon at Broad Street Hospital and clinical assistant surgeon in the outpatient department of Laying -in- Hospital.

This tragic story echoes another unsolved mystery: the 2010 death of Jack Wheeler

So to sum up, a young Brooklyn doctor is found on the streets of Manhattan, wandering lost and incoherent. It's a little unusual that alcohol or drugs are not mentioned. At least it was not reported. Added to that, no injuries were reported at the time. Prior to that moment, there had been no sign of mental issues according to his widow. Police pick him up and he is placed under observation at a mental facility.
There, five days later, he is found dead. 

While the cause of his death suggests either hanging or strangulation of some sort, that possibility is never expressed in the newspaper item. Additionally, (and rather, surprisingly) the possibility of suicide is not mentioned, suggesting that it was obvious that he did not hang himself.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Roosevelt's 1906 Warning about the Dangers of Slinging Mud and Raking Muck

by Nomad

Theodore RooseveltA speech on April 14, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt offers warnings about what happens when scandal mongers and hysterical sensationalists run amok. The evidence that Teddy had it right is every place you look today.

Politics, as most people know, can be a vicious animal. That's hardly news. It's always been that way. Political life brings out the worst - and more rarely, the best- in people. Things are often said and things are regularly done that would, under any other circumstance, be a shame to humanity.

"A Modern Day Lynching"

In these unprecedented days of America's first black presidency, all of us have witnessed some of the most vicious attacks on the character and motives of a president and, still worse, his own family. The opposition swears it has nothing to do with his race, but the defense is not particularly convincing. Every bad thing has been attributed to Obama even when the very same things were done- and often to a greater extent- by other presidents. 

When conservative Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court nomination was in serious doubt, he was able to shame to the Senate committee with accusations that they were conducting "a modern-day lynching." He successfully used white guilt to shame the committee to stop asking very serious  and legitimate charges of sexual harassment. 
Today the conservative Congressmen appear to have no fears that they might be accused of conducting the same kind of character assassination of a twice democratically elected president. No allegation from people like Issa, Palin, Boehner or Cruz is too ridiculous or too baseless to be denounced by the news media. 
Last week, the Speaker of the House was caught in the embarrassing position of wildly claiming the President had acted unconstitutionally without even being able to name the actual offense. 

Muckraker Pilgrim's Progress

The Men with the Muck Rakes

One hundred and eight years ago, in April 1906, Teddy Roosevelt made a famous speech at the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone of the Office Building of the House of Representatives. It has been called his "Muckraking" speech, a reference to a character in "A Pilgrim's Progress." 

Though his words are often misunderstood, it was in many ways one of Roosevelt's most progressive speeches. The term "muckraker" has been generally understood to refer only journalists and expose writers of the age, but it can be applied more widely.

"A muckraker is a man," Roosevelt said, "could look no way but downward, with the muck-rake in his hand; who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor."