Iraq: Don’t blame Blair. Blame sectarianism.

June 17, 2014

There seems to be a slight undertone of glee in the writings of the rabidly anti-Blair brigade since ISIS began its hideous incursion into Iraq a couple of weeks ago. A sort of “We told you so” smugness to their tone. Owen Jones’s article for The Guardian is horribly self serving. This attitude is then qualified with an incredibly simplistic analysis that seems to draw a direct line from Blair in 2003 (the beginning of all history), to ISIS in 2014. To do this, requires ignoring the Arab Spring, it requires ignoring ISIS’s earlier incarnation in 2000 under a different name whose goal was to overthrow “UnIslamic” regimes in the Middle East before, it requires ignoring a power play between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Syria, it requires ignoring the policies of al-Maliki and a largely Shi’ite heavy-handed military, it requires ignoring the decades long desire for a resurrected Caliphate from militant groups across the World, it requires ignoring the Syrian civil war in its entirety and the tensions between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, it ignores the fact that most ISIS fighters are Syrian, and most of all it requires stopping at 2003, rather than perhaps laying an ounce of the blame at the door of an historically militant Sunni inability to accept that Shi’ite Muslims have a right to life and participation in government. It’s as reasonable an assessment, as blaming Ali and Abu Bakr.

April this year marked the 20th anniversary of the genocide that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon insisted the UN should be ashamed for not preventing. Rwanda was the very epitome of what happens when dogmatic non-intervention is adopted. The World has seemingly learnt nothing in those 20 years, given that the the international community is largely ignoring another genocide on the horizon, in which intolerant Sunni extremists attempt to wipe Shia Muslims from the face of the planet knowing full well that Western powers are chained by their own internal soul searching over the invasion of Iraq, rather than internally soul searching since the sectarian genocide in Rwanda.

This is a problem that has existed for generations, is perpetuated by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, was utilised by Saddam, was not adequately addressed at the constituting of a new Iraq, leads to reprisal attacks, and has now fallen into the hands of ISIS. It did not begin in 2003. In fact, in June 1992, Human Rights Watch noted:

“In Karbala, as in al-Najaf, there were reports that Shi’a clerics found walking on the streets were rounded up and never seen again.”

– A year earlier, and three years before Blair became leader of the Labour Party in the UK, Saddam had been responsible for – with Taha Yassin Ramadan overseeing – the hideous massacre of around 100,000 Shi’ite Muslims in and around Karbala and al-Najaf and had previously restricted pilgrimage in Karbala (a holy Shi’ite city) to Iraqi citizens only. In all, The New York Times reported that Saddam was responsible for around 1,000,000 deaths of his own people; a figure that permits the term ‘genocide’. During the repressions, al-Najaf was hit heavily, including the Shi’ite shrine of tomb of the Imam Ali, which Saddam’s security forces didn’t seem to care too much for. Karbala was opened up in 2004 to Shi’ite pilgrims, with over 1,000,000 Shia from all over the World attending for the first time, but the day was marred by the brutal slaughter of many Shi’ite pilgrims, by car bombs and rocket fire planted by a group led by Sunni anti-Shia Abu Abdallah al Hassan Ben Mahmoud. The slaughter of the Shia is a continuation of supremacist Sunni attitudes. The Shia genocide is not new. It was simply institutionalised and easily hidden under the rule of Saddam.

Ten years earlier, in 1982, Saddam had ordered the rounding up of 393 men, and 394 women, and children, on suspicion of being part of a Shia uprising in Dujail that attempted to assassinate him. Some died in captivity after taking a beating by security forces, others were exiled. Hundreds were routinely tortured, and executed, including ten children between the ages of 11 and 17, who were held in secret, and executed in 1989.

In Balochistan in 2011, 29 Shia Muslims were murdered by Islamist terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, whose main reason for being, is to murder Shia Muslims where ever they find them. Some estimate that around 30,000 Shia have fled Balochistan because they feel threatened, and Pakistan refuses to acknowledge the problem, largely due to their ties with Saudi Arabia. This is reflected in Pakistan’s treatment of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s leader Malik Ishaq, who is routinely arrested and released instantly, despite his clear involvement in the deaths of hundreds.

In 2012, armed Hamas men stormed a gathering of Shi’ite worshipers, brutally assaulted them, and continued the attack even as the victims were on their way to hospital. Incidentally, George Galloway spent Sunday on Radio 4 denouncing Blair for the troubles in Iraq, rather than acknowledging that funding Hamas – as they perpetuate a narrative of violent sectarianism, and anti-Shia hate – to the tune of £25,000 might not have helped matters either.

Today coordinated attacks against Shi’ite communities simply for not being Sunni continues, and not just in Iraq. Shi’ites in Parachinar, Pakistan have been the focus of violent attacks from Sunni extremists for years. In July 2013, extremists deliberately targeted Shi’ite mosques in a town next to the market place, because families were out shopping for Iftar. Instead of a family day out at the market, 56 people were killed, and another 100 injured in coordinated bomb blasts simply for being Shia. In fact, between January 2012, and July 2013, over 635 Shia have been killed in Pakistan, in separate attacks.

It isn’t just the Middle East either. Indeed, it is illegal in Malaysia for Shia to promote their faith. Middle Eastern academic Vali Nasr insists that Shia living in Bahrain are basically living under a system of apartheid (largely ignored by the Western left, who focus the term ‘apartheid’ on Israel only). Similarly, Shia are often accused of crimes they didn’t commit in Saudi Arabia and imprisoned, a country that also bans Shia from leading government positions. Shia in Saudi Arabia also have to live with the fact that school books refer to their interpretation of their faith as a heresy. All over the Middle East, Shia Muslims are disenfranchised, abused, tortured, oppressed, and murdered. It’s been going on for years, and ignored for those same years.

Today, the growth of ISIS – to the point in which they are a threat to the World, not just Iraq – and the mentality and anti-Shia hate – as well as a rabid desire to reconstitute a Caliphate – that drives groups like them did not begin in March 2003. It has a long and deep history, it is rooted in intolerant religious sectarianism autonomous of Western foreign policy, Saddam’s Iraq made it the order of the day, Pakistan turns its head and ignores the problem for global political reasons, Saudi Arabia perpetuates it, a Galloway funded Hamas plays on it, Iraq’s government has left it to fester, scripture is used to justify it, and the complexity of this is slowly leading to a Rwandan-like genocide, as an international left that cared not an ounce when Saddam was doing it, nor takes a moment to consider its poison in Saudi Arabia, haven’t mentioned the attacks in Pakistan, do not know the name of liberal, secular, democrats fighting for a just and peaceful Iraq, but suddenly developed a sense of humanity the moment they recognised the potential to ceaselessly denounce Blair as the principle architect of the problem.

The end of the war in Iraq failed to provide a substantial constitutional framework for the institutional protection and political equality and a fair distribution of power between both Shia and Sunni minorities in different parts of the country and on local levels. The scales tip from one sect, to another, and a balance seems to evade Iraq’s politics. It was a key issue in providing the base for a working democracy, and it was largely mishandled, and a heavy handed Shi’ite military seems now to be viewed with contempt by Sunni minorities feeling alienated. For years Anbar province has complained that Maliki’s government in Baghdad ignored them and that they had been practically left out of the political process. So they rebelled, some joined militant Al Qaeda inspired groups, and Maliki inflamed the sectarianism by referring to all of them as al-Qaeda, rather than refusing to acknowledge his own shortcomings. He ignored the fact that the same Anbar province largely supported the US surge in 2007. Again, this has nothing to do with Blair, and everything to do with religious sectarianism and a failure to address the issue on a political level. It is not the fault of the Iraq war that Iraq now slips back into sectarian violence. It is both global inaction in Syria, and the deficiencies in the democratic settlement that require immediate redress, because Iraq still deserves a safe, democratic institutional framework that caters for all, rather than leaving it to fall into the hands of violent Theocratic thugs. For the West to leave Iraq to burn, is to tacitly agree with ISIS that Iraq cannot handle democracy, human rights and political equality, and can only be controlled by dictatorship.


The Frackers of Downing Street.

January 17, 2014

There are very few more pressing issues on the planet right now than climate change, and sustainable energy. For that reason alone, throwing dangerous chemicals down a well and splitting rocks to extract gas, leading to complaints of contaminated water supplies in Texas, and earthquakes in Blackpool, was always going to be a controversial topic. Without getting into the pros and cons of the industry and the practice, I thought I’d focus on the names and faces attached to fracking in the UK, who seem to be extraordinarily close to a government that is now suddenly fully embracing fracking.

Lord Browne is the Managing Director of Riverstone – a private equity firm that backs Cuadrilla Resources (of which Lord Browne in the Chairman). Cuadrilla is a Shale Gas operator that was found to be the likely cause of two minor earthquakes in 2011 through its drilling in Lancashire. Lord Browne is lead non-executive director – a Coalition advisor – at the Cabinet Office and a crossbench member of the House of Lords.

Also at Riverstone was Ben Moxham. Moxham was a vice President at Riverstone – the equity firm that backs a company responsible for a small earthquake – until 2011. Moxham was then a lead advisor for the Coalition on climate change issues, and a senior policy advisor for energy issues, to the Prime Minister. Moxham, like Lord Browne, was also at BP for a time.

The Senior Independent Director of of BG Group PLC is Baroness Hogg. BG Group is a British oil and gas company with interests across the planet, including shale gas in the US, where it claimed to be wishing to produce 80,000 barrels a day by 2015, growing up 190,000 barrels a day by 2020 through its shale production. Baroness Hogg was appointed Lead Non-Executive Board Member to the Treasury.

Sam Laidlaw is the CEO of Centrica. He was also Lead non-executive director on the board of the Department for Transport, and a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group . Also at Centrica for a time, was Tara Singh. In May 2013, Number 10 announced that Ms Singh would be the Prime Minister’s personal advisor on energy and climate change. This is the same Tara Singh whose previous role was Public Affairs Manager at Centrica – owner of British Gas. A few weeks after Singh was appointed to a government advisory role, Centrica – her former employer – bought a stake in Lord Browne’s Cuadrilla for its shale gas production. Singh has also worked for PR firm Hill & Knowlton, a firm that represents the Norwegian energy giant Statoil, a company with investment in fracking in North America.

Lord Green, the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, was also non-executive director of chemical giant BASF. BASF supply gas-based chemicals for the fracking industry.

The Windsor Energy Group in March 2013 discussed, according to its own documents:

“…the energy revolution from shale gas and tight oil and other game-changers so far looking east, west and south…”

– This excitement was echoed by the Chairman of the Windsor Energy Group – Lord Howell – who told Parliament that the former colonies were ripe for picking:

“…wake up and realise where our future and our destiny lie…the new range of Commonwealth countries coming into the prosperity league either side of Africa, as they find through the shale gas revolution that they have fantastic raw energy resources and prospects.”

– Lord Howell – the Chairman of the W.E.G – also happens to be the father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne. The Windsor Energy Group takes time on its website to thank Shell and BP for its support. It is unsurprising that two of the biggest players in the oil industry might choose to be close friends with an organisation whose chairman is the father-in-law of the Chancellor. Lord Howell was also former energy advisor to William Hague.

Lord Howell – the Chairman of the W.E.G and father-in-law of the Chancellor – is also the President of the British Institute of Energy Economics. The BIEE is sponsored by Shell and BP. In 2013, Howell was appointed President of the Energy Industries Council.

It comes as no surprise then, that in July 2013, Howell’s son-in-law Chancellor George Osborne announced a massive tax break for the fracking industry, setting the rate at 30% for onshore shale gas production, as opposed to 62% for new production of North Sea Oil. Echoing the wording by his father-in-law, and the Windsor Energy Group that his father-in-law Chairs, Osborne referred to fracking as a revolution:

“This new tax regime, which I want to make the most generous for shale in the world, will contribute to that. I want Britain to be a leader of the shale gas revolution”

– But it isn’t just Osborne. Vince Cable, whose Party spent the best part of the last decade insisting it was the party of green energy, took to TV news to defend the tax breaks. The fact that Cable here suggests that fracking would have to be heavily regulated and watched, must raise eyebrows as to its potential dangers. It is worth noting that Vince Cable was the former Chief Economist at Shell (supporters of the W.E.G, and financial backers of the BIEE, both run by George Osborne’s father-in-law) and that Malcolm Brinded – the former Chief Executive of Shell Upstream International – referred to Cable in a letter to the Secretary of State as the “Contact Minister for Shell”. Here:

shell
– Shell is positioning itself to be a major player in the UK Fracking industry. It’s also worth noting that William Hague worked for Shell UK before entering Parliament.

The tax breaks must have felt like a wonderful victory, not just for Shell and Osborne’s father-in-law, but for everyone’s favourite soulless lobbyist Lynton Crosby. The Prime Minister’s election advisor and strategist founded the lobbying firm Crosby Textor, which lobbies on behalf of The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, and fracking is one of its main objectives. One of the members of The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association is Dart Energy, whose UK subsidiary holds a fracking licence in the UK.

So to summarise, Lord Browne from Cuadrilla is a coalition advisor, and Tara Singh from Centrica who own a stake in Cuadrilla is a coalition advisor, and Sam Laidlaw – the CEO of Centrica – was a coalition advisor. Baroness Hogg – a lead non-exec. board member to the Treasure – is Senior Independent Director at a company with huge interests in fracking in the US Ben Moxham – an advisor to the Prime Minister on climate change and energy – was at an equity firm that backed Lord Browne’s Cuadrilla. Lynton Crosby whose firm lobbies on behalf of the fracking industry is a key strategist to the Conservative Party. George Osborne’s father-in-law is the President of a group financially backed by BP & Chairs another organisation supported by Shell among others that pushes for the fracking industry at the same time that his son-in-law announces incredibly generous tax rates for the fracking industry. And the Business Secretary is referred to as the “Contact Minister for Shell” by a former Shell CEO. It is an incredible state of affairs.

Those who are in a position to be making a very large amount of money from fracking, also appear to be at the centre of a government that will make the key decisions on the future of the industry including its regulations and safety procedures. By contrast, there don’t appear to be any members of local communities close to proposed fracking sites, at the centre of government. For a Tory Party needing to shed its image as the Party of big business, this isn’t helping. The fracking industry hasn’t even taken off in the UK to any great extent, and yet it would appear its representatives are well placed right at the very heart of government.


Accommodation Expenses of Tory MPs who voted for the Bedroom Tax.

November 15, 2013

The Party of duck-houses and moat cleaning expenses voted this week to ensure that the most vulnerable families in the UK struggle to live, with the perpetuation of the hideous Bedroom Tax. So, it’s worth noting exactly how much those same Tory MPs have claimed in their own accommodation expenses.

(For reference, ‘accommodation’ according to IPSA covers
Accommodation, Rent, Home Contents Insurance, Telephone Installation, Approved Security Measures, Internet, Telephone, Usage, Buildings Insurance, Mortgage Interest, Telephone Usage/Rental, Council Tax, Other Fuel, Television Installation/Rental, Electricity, Residential Deposit Loan, Television Licence, Gas, Routine Security Measures, Water, Ground Rent, Service Charges).

Karen Bradley Conservative MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, voted against Labour’s motion to repeal the Bedroom Tax, thus voting to cut £16 a week from the budgets of the hardest pressed families. Presumably to help plug the Treasury hole arising from her own accommodation expenses, seen here:

conservatives expenses, karen bradley expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax mps

Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. He also once blamed civil servants for the failure of certain government projects, and is particularly interested in investigating the causes of government overspending. Here, he claimed £22,000+ in accommodation expenses for a very short space of time, whilst voting to take away accommodation expenses from the most vulnerable:

richard bacon mp, mps expenses, bedroom tax tories, tories expenses, conservative party expenses

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Morgan once told a room full of students at a debate I was at, that business owners make the best MPs. She got a huge boo from the audience. But I agree with her…. in a Parliament that is dedicated to the very wealthy, those sympathetic to the very wealthy to the detriment of the everyone else make the best Corporate-MPs. That’s true. For the rest of us, they are a nightmare. The Bedroom Tax is testament to that hideous Corporate-MP mentality. Anyway, Morgan, whilst ‘Economic Secretary to the Treasury’ and voting to uphold the misery that has lead to so many tragic incidents like that of Stephanie Bottrill, claimed the following in her accommodation:

nicky morgan mp expenses, nicky morgan mp bedroom tax, bedroom tax mps expenses, mps expenses, conservative party mps expenses

Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire and former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Here are his accommodation expenses:

alistairburtMP, alistair burt mp expenses, mps expenses, mps accommodation expenses, bedroom tax debate

Ian Liddell-Grainger MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset and great-great-great Grandson of Queen Victoria (as well as the great grandson of Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone) claimed £166,109 in 2007/08. After the rule change in 2010/11, Liddell-Grainger claimed £147,004, making him the 6th most expensive MP in Parliament for that year. His wife and two eldest children are registered as his staff. He also voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Here are his accommodation expenses:

liddell-grainger expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax, bedroom tax tories, ian liddell-grainger vote

John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings, was chairman of the All Party group on Disability. Apparently it did nothing to soften what seems to be an inherent desire to strip those with disabilities of much needed help, whilst himself claiming a small fortune in accommodation expenses:

john hayes mp, john hayes mps expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax, bedroom tax vote

Together, the expenses of these six alone could pay to lessen the horrific burden that austerity – caused by the most affluent – has placed on those who cannot afford it. We have become a country that grotesquely judges its success by how protected those with everything are, rather than those with nothing. The accommodation expenses of almost every Tory and Lib Dem MP who voted against the repeal of Bedroom Tax comes in at hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions. Here is the full list posted on change.org. If your MP voted against the repeal of the Bedroom Tax, thus voting to uphold such a cruel attack on the nation’s most vulnerable, get in contact and ask why they believe themselves justified in claiming thousands upon thousands in accommodation expenses, whilst their constituents struggle to afford to live.


Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates V.

October 12, 2013

Florida's 19th Congressional District Race. April Freeman

At the time of writing the first four in my series of articles on Republican House incumbents and their Democratic rivals for the House in 2014, it seemed that for Democrats to pick up the necessary seventeen seats was going to require a significant political disaster by the Republican Party. If the most recent Gallup poll is anything to go by, it is apparent that the Republican Party may have inflicted a wound upon themselves that they might not recover from in 2014.

Florida’s 19th Congressional District:
Florida’s 19th is currently represented by Tea Party favourite, Republican Trey Radel. On his Facebook page, Radel posted this:

Trey Radel misleading Kentucky Obamacare Stats
– As part of his maniacal effort to defund the Affordable Care Act regardless of the courts or the outcome of elections, Radel is happy to use any PR tactic possible to drum up support for his failing cause. I say that, because the claim in the picture above omits crucial information: The claim relates to a story put out by Fox (obviously) of the Mangione family of four in Kentucky whose monthly premium apparently rises from $333 a month to $965 a month, from private insurer Humana, a few weeks before Kynect (the healthcare exchange) opened. What the story doesn’t tell you, is just who Andrew Mangione – the father – actually is. As it turns out, there is quite the conflict of interest with this story: Andrew Mangione is:

“…the Vice President, Government Relations, for AMAC. Andy’s career spans the medical device, pharmaceutical and managed care sectors of health care. He has held senior and executive sales positions with organizations including Humana, Inc., Pfizer, Inc. and Invacare Corporation. Andy serves as the lead legislative and government contact in Washington, DC for AMAC, and is also responsible for national grassroots outreach and developing strategic relationships. Andy earned a B.A. in Management from Malone University and his Master of Business Administration from Lake Erie College.”

– Not only did he hold senior/executive position in his insurance company, the website that he is now the Vice President of Government Relations for, has spent almost all its energy – prior to his appearance on Fox – fighting the Affordable Care Act. This man is one big agenda, so it is predictable that both Fox and Trey Radel decided not to mention his credentials. And $300 a month for a family of four? That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than most pay. Nevertheless, The New Yorker argues that under the new rules, the Mangione family might actually benefit.

So with that in mind, it is no shock to discover that despite moderate Republicans taking to the airwaves to pin the blame for government shutdown at the door of the Republican Party and its small group of extremists, Radel has decided that those extremists are in the right. Radel told CNN:

“This entire place is failing the American people”.

– He’s right. When a Freedom Works memo (The Freedom Works Website lists Radel as a signee of Sen. Mike Lee’s letter to use the CR to defund Obamacare) demands a willingness on the part of the Republicans the group funds, to use the threat of shutdown and its implications to win a policy battle that the Republicans couldn’t win via the usual electoral process, that is a massive democratic failure. One that Thomas Jefferson noted was a threat to the American system of governance:

“I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

– But this isn’t what Radel meant. Radel thoroughly disagrees with Jefferson. He seemingly had no issue with the fact that an agreement had already been reached on funding the government, an agreement that hugely favoured Republican demands, only to be reneged on by House Republicans whose corporate backers weren’t happy enough, who now demand the complete defunding of a law they couldn’t repeal through the natural democratic process. Instead, he says:

“The adults need to come to the table, as Republicans are asking…”

– The typical spin, to deflect attention from the fact that they caused this. He then goes on to blame the Affordable Care Act for all the nation’s woes. Later in the same interview, and without a hint of irony, Radel says:

“When you hear the President say he isn’t going to negotiate…. I’m sorry but this is democracy.”

– Here, Radel, like fellow Tea Party members, has apparently redefined the word ‘democracy’. I am struggling to understand how it is possible to lose the Presidency twice, to lose the Senate, to lose the popular vote for the House, to lose a Supreme Court case, to watch your ratings plummet, when 21 of your own House members are willing to vote to reopen government, and still think that by shutting down the government until you get your way, that the path you have chosen represents “democracy”.

It is presumably also “democracy” in action when, at 10pm on September 30th, House Republicans voted to amend House rules, by taking away the right of every member of the House of Representatives to bring a clean CR vote to the House floor, and to bestow that right to Eric Cantor only, to ensure a shutdown went ahead.

According to opensecrets.org, Trey Radel’s 9th biggest donor, is Koch Industries. How surprising. His number one donor is “Every Republican Is Crucial PAC”. This particular PAC is the 2nd biggest donor to the 20 or so dissident Republicans in the House. They are instrumental in propping up support for those who have used the threat of shutdown unless their demands are met. And Radel is doing their bidding. In 2012, his website read:

“Our country has prided itself on freedom and liberty. Regulations like ObamaCare not only place severe restrictions on our freedom and choice but also threaten the economic livelihood of this country. ObamaCare in particular essentially forces individuals to buy a private product just because they are American. This is another example of the government excessively interfering in the lives of private citizens. This law is not only costly, but will also cause great inefficiencies in the medical industry, and have negative ripples throughout the economy. On Trey’s first day in office, Trey would offer a bill to repeal all parts ObamaCare (regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision).”

– The phrase ‘regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision’ should be enough to shock anyone who appreciates the system of American governance, as should the Tea Party section of the Republican Party’s complete lack of respect for the outcome of elections that don’t go their way. It is quite incomprehensible, and very anti-democratic. Let’s not be under any illusions. Trey Radel is one of the small group of Republicans responsible for the government shutdown, and backed by very wealthy donors.

Trey Radel – a man who genuinely believes that Public Enemy’s track ‘Fight the Power’ reflects the message of Tea Party Republicans – is so concerned about the health and wellbeing of his constituents, that he voted ‘NO’ on reauthorising the Violence Against Women Act. Not only does women’s health and rights not concern Radel, but he also voted ‘NO’ on the Sandy Relief Fund and voted in favour of cutting SNAP. I can find no redeeming feature of Radel’s incumbency, it appears to have been a year of making life as difficult for the most vulnerable as possible. Florida’s 19th can do better than that.

The Democratic challenger to Radel, is April Freeman. Freeman’s website identifies exactly what Florida’s 19th District is currently lacking:

“Real people, honest and intelligent leadership, hard working and caring public servants, and more independent women.”

– Honest, intelligence, caring and independent women. Those are the words all progressives would use to describe exactly what the House of Representatives requires more than anything at the moment.

Freeman has impressive credentials to back up the tagline on her website. She was awarded “2005 Business Woman of the Year” by the Business Advisory Council at a White House Dinner; she is the founder of a company that works for no profit to highlight the lives and memory of gifted individuals who died too soon as a result of mental illnesses, and she’s currently obtaining her law degree. Intelligence, and caring, are two traits that Congress desperately requires, and desperately lacks at the moment.

Freeman is right to highlight that voter suppression is a dangerous re-introduction to the democratic landscape, and must be a priority to secure fundamental political rights regardless of race, or wealth. Freeman sets out her position to deal with it:

THE PLAN – Educate local voters in a grassroots effort so they are taught the importance of the early vote & vote by mail in order to relieve the immediate issue of excessive wait times on election days.
THE RESOLUTION – Support Legislation that would make it illegal for the wait time to exceed 1 hour during Federal elections.

Whilst 30 years of anti-union, pro-market fundamentalist rhetoric and policy has seemingly lead to very little other than stagnating wages, poverty increases, recession, and jobs off-shored to the detriment of the lives of real human beings, April Freeman recognises the need to rebalance the scale:

“We need a steady growing economy in SW Florida thus relieving our sole dependence on seasonal residents.
THE PLAN – Support Unions to bring secure jobs with benefits while strengthening collective bargaining ability in order to build our local economy.
THE RESOLUTION – Introduce and Support Legislation that will give tax incentives to small business and corporations in right to work states for merging with unions to provide a living wage and benefits, while penalizing for outsourcing jobs to foreign countries.”

– Freeman’s plans put people right at the centre of policy, and that’s a breath of fresh air for Congress.

If you value women’s rights, ending violence against women, LGBT rights, the right to vote, economic growth and fairness, campaign finance reform, Protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Veterans issues; then there is absolutely no reason to vote Trey Radel, he fails miserably on all of those issues.

The Democratic base in Florida’s 19th has to grow if April Freeman is to pose a serious challenge to Trey Radel. But with the public at large placing the blame for shutdown on Tea Party Republicans like Radel, there will not be a more perfect time for Freeman and Democrats in Florida to grow that base. Freeman certainly has a chance to turn Florida’s 19th blue in 2014.

Vote April Freeman for Florida’s 19th Congressional District in 2012.

See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 2nd, and Illinois’ 13th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on West Virginia’s 2nd, and Colorado’s 6th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on California’s 1st, and California’s 25th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District.


Obamacare: The new myths in town!

October 10, 2013

Understanding the Affordable Care Act

As it slowly becomes evident that death panels – with President Obama dressed as the grim reaper in a Che Guevara t-shirt – just aren’t going to happen; as it slowly becomes clear that there will be no ‘forced home inspections’; when all evidence points to full time work not at all destroyed in socialist flames by the Affordable Care Act… then it becomes predictable that new myths begin to take shape. New poorly constructed, desperate myths that nonetheless go unanswered attach themselves to the general ‘understanding’ of the Affordable Care Act, and so are given time to fester in the collective mind of the United States. There are two new myths in particular that are so easy to discredit, that this will likely be my shortest article in a very long time.

Healthcare.gov costs the taxpayer $634mn!!
One new myth that has sprung up and instantly perpetuated by Tea Party writers this week, is that Healthcare.gov has cost $634 million to build. $634,320,919 to be exact. In fact, it’s been reported by news agencies around the World. News Max reported it as fact. The Daily Mail here in the UK reported it, and the story also appears on the ironically named “Examiner”. If they’d have lived up to their name, they’d soon realise that the story is in fact, false.

According to usaspending, the figure of $634,320,919 to CGI, Inc, was paid over a period of five years – between 2008 and 2013 – for 114 different transactions. One of those contracts was Healthcare.gov worth $93.7 million when originally won. There is no mention on whether the cost was over or under budget on that one transaction. But the fact remains, Healthcare.gov did not cost $634,320,919.

The Tea Party website referenced above perhaps gives us a glimpse of just why they’re beginning to invent new rumours, backed by weak research, in order to undermine a law that – coupled with the shutdown and an ever decreasing Republican polling number (they are now polling 1% lower than the percentage of Americans who believe in Bigfoot) – could very well lead to a Democrat House elected in 2014. It is desperation:

“Unlike some Americans, I actually want the Obamacare exchanges to succeed. I’ve given the state-specific options a try (there are 15 of them, including Washington D.C.’s) and they seem to greatly simplify the process of buying healthcare. And the rates do appear to come in far lower than what many people without health insurance from an employer have had to bear until now. It’s not government-run healthcare. There are no death panels. And, from what I can tell, the world will not end if more people have health insurance – quite the opposite, in fact.
What I cannot stand is a nation that has vast technological resources in its citizenry spending $600 million of our collective money to slap together a product that, thus far, has only managed to waste people’s precious minutes.”

– Here, they admit that under the Affordable Care Act rates are far lower, it isn’t government-run, there are no death panels, and it is working to help people. All of a sudden, they’re fine with all of that, and they laugh the myths off as almost whimsical (despite spending three years insisting that those Obamacare myths would burn America to the ground), but now it’s the cost of the website that they’re truly opposed to, having spent….. no time whatsoever concerned about it until yesterday.

Less than 10 people have signed up for Obamacare!
Yesterday, Buck McKeon (R-CALIF) told CNN that he’d heard rumours (always good to be thorough in your research) that fewer than 10 people had signed up for Obamacare. He’d read it somewhere. And so on that basis, he thought he’d tell the entire Nation, regardless of how true that claim was. Predictably, much like the Healthcare.gov cost rumour, this one is also completely false.

As of Wednesday, Kentucky, Maryland and Washington State released data showing that over 16,000 had so far signed up. Connecticut has 1,426 applications, New York officials report 40,000 have signed up. 16,311 had completed applications, and another 27,305 have partially completed applications in McKeon’s own state of California.

In fact, Washington State, despite having a lot of glitches on roll out day for its Washington Health Plan Finder marketplace, the state had 9,452 sign up rather quickly, with a further 10,497 submitted applications but not yet enrolled. 20,000 in less than a week.

Now, maths has never been a particularly strong point of mine, but I am quite sure, after conducting lengthy sums, that we can conclude that more than 9 people have signed up on the healthcare exchanges so far. And they still have five months and three weeks to sign up. Republicans appears to be shocked that 30,000,000 didn’t all sign up on day one. It’s an odd planet they inhabit.

So you see, whenever a new Obamacare myth surfaces, instantly posted on ‘reputable’ media outlets, and is left unchallenged, it grows misplaced anger and fear which inevitably leads to genuine concern among certain sections of the US population who simply do not see any reason to doubt six or seven media outlets seemingly confirming what their Representatives are saying, and suddenly, Ted Cruz is elected and the government is shut down. It stems entirely, from misrepresentations and completely invented logic. The shutdown is therefore a product of misplaced fear, constructed by a constant stream of right winged opportunists. And with polls showing a Republican slide into oblivion, there is only one thing to say: Congratulations GOP… you built that.


The US Government Shutdown: A coup in all but name.

October 9, 2013

Closed Lincoln Memorial. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Emw (Own work).

Closed Lincoln Memorial.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Emw (Own work).


“I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
– Thomas Jefferson.

In an interview on ‘Face The Nation’ with Republican Senator for Texas John Cornyn, host Bob Schieffer asked:

“How is it that you wind up with a freshman Senator, who’s been in office less than a year, becomes the architect of this thing that has the two sides so gridlocked that nobody seems to know a way out of it? How did that happen?”

– Whilst it’s a fair question, it makes one critical mistake. Senator Cruz wasn’t the architect of the shutdown. Of course one freshman Senator doesn’t have the power or influence to shut down and gridlock the entire US government. But his wealthy contributors and backers certainly do.

When President Obama was reelected in 2012, democracy had spoken. A government of the people, for the people, and by the people had been chosen, with Obamacare a key policy in the minds of voters as they had their rightful say in voting booths across the country. Recently, Republican Senator John McCain accepted and reiterated this:

“We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost. One of the reasons was because we were in the minority, and in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation.”

– But notoriously, democracy and people are never equipped to be able to compete with vast amounts of money from very wealthy backers. Knowing this, “Freedom Works”, a major donor to the ‘Freedom Works For America’ super pac and affiliated with the Koch empire produced a memo on a strategy to disregard the democratic process, and defund the Affordable Care Act by any means necessary. The memo read:


“Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare. This includes Obamacare’s unworkable exchanges, unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and attack on life and religious liberty.”

– The memo goes on to suggest strategy (identical to the tactics used during this shutdown):

“A mere “date-change CR” is unacceptable. Although the Obama administration and others will argue the CR is not the appropriate legislative vehicle to defund Obamacare, it is easily done through a series of appropriation riders. Because the CR represents one of the best vehicles possible to delay the implementation of Obamacare, it must not be used to bargain on the upcoming sequester.”

– This was shortly after President Obama’s re-election. The plan was always to use the threat of government shutdown, to defund a law that had just been ratified by the American people via an election, for the sake of the policy of one organisation rather than the votes of millions of American people. There was to be no backing down. The authority of the voting public and the Supreme Court of the United States were to be overridden. Democracy hadn’t worked for them, so they produced a solution to completely disregard the democratic process. For this sickening, entirely anti-democratic goal, they needed a candidate. Well, during the 2011 primary for the Texas Senate race, Freedom Works said:

“After evaluating the candidates in this race, we believe that Ted Cruz will best serve the interests of hardworking Texas taxpayers by advocating the principles of lower taxes, less government and more individual freedom”

– They chose a candidate likely to run at the White House in 2016. One of “Freedom Works For America’s” main financers is Crow Holdings, LLC. Crow Holdings has contributed $20,000 to Senator Cruz so far for 2014. This, on top of the $25,000 from Koch industries. One of the those who signed the Freedom Works memo above was Chris Chocola, President of “Club for Growth”. “Club for Growth” has contributed the most of all Cruz’s campaign contributors at a staggering $705,657. Another signee was David Bossie, President of Citizen’s United. Citizen’s United have so far contributed $15,000 to Cruz.

Of course, it helps that alongside campaign finance, those wealthy backers can afford to produce widespread and misleading ads in order to convince people to vote for their bought candidate. Generation Opportunity is a legally “nonpartisan” organisation funded by the Koch brothers, that produced the despicably misleading ‘creepy Uncle Sam’ anti-Obamacare ads in which Uncle Sam pops up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam. On a related side note… Ted Cruz voted no on reauthorising the Violence Against Women Act.

So if you were wondering what constituency Ted Cruz is in the Senate to represent…it isn’t a ‘grass roots movement’, it’s the extremely wealthy Freedom Works For America & associates. Big business bought their candidate at the primary stage of the Texas Senate race, a candidate willing to do the bidding of ‘Freedom Works For America’ and its associates; a candidate who would not worry about the Speaker of his own Party; a candidate willing to disregard the will of the American people, and represent good value for money by ensuring that he use the CR to infect the entire country with the policy of a very small fringe movement.

Polls across America show that the public blame the Republicans for the government shutdown, far more than they blame Senate Democrats & President Obama. And that reflects reality. It is difficult to blame any group other than the Republican Party, when even Republicans blame their own Party for the shutdown. Fox News analyst Dick Morris before the shutdown joyfully insisted:

“Now there’s gonna be, there’s going to be a government shutdown, just like in ’95 and ’96 but we’re going to win it this time!”

– The same Dick Morris that predicted a landslide Romney Presidential win in 2012 appears not to have noticed that the prediction he made, was so wildly off mark. On his website, he acknowledges that Speaker Boehner is the one who is responsible for the continued shutdown. Morris says:

“The dye is now cast. The battle lines are drawn. Boehner has refused to reopen the government or raise the debt limit without concessions from Obama. What began as a foolish government shutdown to try to end ObamaCare is now morphing into a serious, and likely successful, attempt to rein in the ObamaCare cost, cut government entitlements, and hold the line on taxes.
Finally, the Republicans in the House have gotten it right.
They deserve our full support.”

– Yes. The Republicans have chosen to disregard the legislative process, and the public’s rejection of their 2012 platform, by just choosing to pretend 2012 didn’t happen, and relying on candidates wholly owned by big business. Dick Morris fully acknowledges that there would be a forced GOP shutdown, and that Speaker Boehner is the one who could end it.

In 2010 – three years ago – Senator Mike Lee of Utah was asked if he would endorse a government shutdown over the debt limit. Lee replied:

“It’s an inconvenience, it would be frustrating to many, many people and it’s not a great thing, and yet at the same time, it’s not something that we can rule out, it may be absolutely necessary.”

– This is how very wealthy members of Tea Party sect of the Republican Party view a shut down. As simply an ‘inconvenience’ for those furloughed. Here, Lee accepts responsibility for the government shutdown that is happening right now, three years ago.

New York Republican Rep. Peter King has been a vocal opponent of his Republican colleagues shut down tactic. A day after a House Republican private strategy meeting, King appeared on MSNBCs Hardball and said:

“This was a fool’s errand that was started by Ted Cruz. But we can’t just blame him. We have to also blame his acolytes in the Republican Conference—30 or 40 of them who stood with him, who were willing to undo what John Boehner wanted to do, which was to pass the CR, move this along. They insisted on going this route of attempting to defund Obamacare and threatening to shut down the government if it wasn’t done, we got locked into this. Let me just say we are where we are, and I blame Ted Cruz and his supporters for doing that.”

– King’s point here has two important features. Firstly, Ted Cruz and a small group of Tea Partiers are entirely to blame for the government shutdown. Secondly, Speaker Boehner didn’t plan on taking this route. Which suggests, he is now just a puppet on a Tea Party string. The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war.

King is adamant that there are a lot of moderate Republicans willing to vote on a clean CR, and who oppose the Cruz tactic bought by the Koch Empire. 21 House Republicans so far. But most aren’t willing to go public with how they disapprove of the Koch-led tactics to bring government to a close, for the simple reason that they will get primaried. They are willing to admit it too. Greg Walden (R-OR) said:

“We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”

– And he’s right. It isn’t just the President, Democrats, and the American people in general under attack at the moment. It’s Republicans themselves. The ‘Freedom Works For America’ website openly targets Republicans who they do not consider Tea Party enough:

“The 2014 race for control of the Senate has already begun. Establishment Republicans are beginning to recruit moderate Big Government candidates in races across the country in a typical top-down approach. This approach has led to moderate losing candidates like Tommy Thompson (WI), Rick Berg (ND), and Danny Rehberg (MT) in 2012. We can’t let these opponents of fiscal conservatism win!”

Another Tea Party favourite, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert (who is no stranger to ridiculous remarks) said in 2010:

“Listen, if it takes a shutdown of government to stop the runaway spending, we owe that to our children and our grandchildren. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but if we don’t stop the runaway spending – even if it means showing how serious we are –okay, government is going to have to shut down until you runaway-spending people get it under control. And if you can’t get it under control, then we just stop government until you realize, you know, yes we can.”

– Gohmert sees no alternative but to shut down the government unless Republicans get their way. He fully acknowledges that this is a viable Republican tactic.

They acknowledge the tactic in 2010, they acknowledge it again in 2013, they threaten Republican colleagues not tied to wealthy far-right backers and who privately (and some publicly) blame this small sect of Tea Party Republicans for the shutdown. There is no debate over who is to blame for government shutdown. A framework for shutdown was articulated by Republicans – sometimes excitedly – in 2010, and codified by a wealthy conservative fringe group and their associates in 2013. It is a coup in all but name.


21 House Republicans willing to vote for clean CR.

October 4, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Diliff (Uploaded by Diliff).

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Diliff (Uploaded by Diliff).

As the US Dollar continues to fall due to the continued shutdown of the US Government, Speaker Boehner has the power to put a stop to it all today if he chooses to abandon Tea Party demands, and sides with Republicans willing to accept defeat.

It now appears that the government would re-open if a vote was put to the House today to pass a clean funding bill without attaching legislative ransoms to the back of it. Along with House Democrats, a full 21 House Republicans are now willing to vote to re-open government, which is four more than necessary to end the shutdown. Speaker Boehner still refuses to let a vote come before the House.

Those 21 Republicans are:

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ.), Rep. Peter King (R-NY.), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ.), Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY.), Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa) released a statement on his website in which he attempts to deflect blame for the catastrophic mishandling of the situation by House Republicans, onto the Senate and the President for not caving to unjustifiable Republican demands:

“It is time for Congress to vote on a budget bill that gets the government back to work providing all of the services already paid for by the hard-working taxpayers in my District and across the country. If a bill comes to the floor to accomplish that goal, I will vote for it.

I have joined my colleagues in the House six times during the last two weeks to pass bills that keep the federal government open while defunding or delaying ObamaCare. Each attempt to eliminate funding for the law, repeal the $30 billion medical device tax driving jobs overseas or treat all Americans equally by giving them the same one-year reprieve from the law’s mandates that the President gave big businesses has been rejected by the President and Senate Democrat leaders. The President and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid seem perfectly content keeping the “Closed” sign on the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge National Park and Gettysburg National Battlefield. I am not, and I look forward to voting to put government back to work serving the taxpayers very soon.”

– Through all the weak, self serving justifications for House GOP actions over the past seven days in attempting to defund an established Constitutional law that they lost the 2012 Presidential Election on, and a Supreme Court Case on, and the popular vote for both the House on, Gerlach signaled his intent to end the government shutdown as soon as a vote is called.

Another House Republican who has wasted significant legislative time and money voting 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act is Mario Diaz-Balart. He appears to have been lied to in order to secure his support for a Federal shut down, and now he’s come to his senses:

“When they brought the idea of defunding Obamacare, House Republicans were told we could get Democratic votes. So I voted for it. But it didn’t happen. Then we tried again. And it didn’t work. The third time, it was like: Look, this isn’t working. Let’s try something else.”

– The implication being that a clean bill would have passed and government kept open, had leading Republicans not lied about the level of support they had for attaching a legislative proposal onto a budget. A further implication being that Diaz-Balart blames House Republicans for a shutdown that in his own words, isn’t working.

On the subject of being lied to in order to support a Federal shut down, Ted Cruz met with Republican Senators at a private lunch to discuss strategy yesterday. One Republican Senator told Politico:

“It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy—it’s been about him. That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice.”

– The rest of us knew this before the shutdown. Republicans are now coming to terms with just how badly this has turned out for them, and the dangers of letting a small group of extremists dictate Party tactics.

As early as the 28th September, Charlie Dent (R-Pa) said:

“I’m prepared to vote for a clean CR. I don’t want the government to shut down.”

– Again, the implication being that to vote for anything but a clean CR, would mean you are responsible for government shut down. Charlie Dent is subtly blaming the Republicans for a shut down. He joins House Republicans in 2010, who said:

“it is simply unacceptable to use a must-pass CR as a legislative vehicle ”

– So that’s 21 in 2013 prepared to pass a clean Continuing Resolution, as well as 2010 House Republicans.

Most surprisingly, Peter King (R.NY) told The National Review that two thirds of House Republicans would vote for a clear CR if the vote was allowed to take place:

“If it was on the floor, they would do it. Put it this way, two thirds want a clean CR.
Including some of the people who got elected as tea-party candidates from the South. You talk to them, they think this is crazy.”

– Another Republican Congressman implying that House Republicans are to blame for the shut down. They believe it is crazy to ransom the entire government, for the sake of a battle over an established law that they don’t like.

So with 21 House Republicans all willing to vote for a clean CR, with Democrats proposing a clear CR, and with the President happy to sign a clean CR, what’s stopping a vote in the House on a clean CR? It isn’t Harry Reid. It isn’t the President. It isn’t the 21 Republicans all wishing to reopen government. It’s a Tea Party led group ensuring that Speaker Boehner does not allow the Representatives of the people of the United States – within his own Party – to vote to keep Federal workers in their jobs. For every hour that inches closer to economic meltdown, Speaker Boehner becomes more and more culpable for this entire miserable episode.


The Blue Eyes of Saudi Arabia

September 14, 2013

Try to imagine for a second how you would react, how you would feel, and how every day would be for you and your family, if you were born with blue eyes, in a Country that not only viciously stigmatised those with blue eyes as an unforgivable perversion against nature, but that nation also tortured, and sometimes executed those caught with blue eyes.

Try to imagine, if the basis for the hate directed at you for having blue eyes, was a 7th Century book of myths. That, because that 7th century book of myths told a story of a city that God burnt to the ground for being full of people with blue eyes, even though that story has no basis in historical fact, you would forever be linked with the inhabitants of that city, and considered the enemy of God, regardless of the content of your character.

The Saudi Arabia UN Delegation made this plea to the UN earlier this year:

“Moreover, the Human Rights Council in last June condemned the Syrian regime on the violations of the Syrian people human rights. Any delay from the international community to take action means more suffering for the helpless Syrian people helpless.”

– It would seem from the rhetoric that Saudi Arabia cares deeply for applying international pressure for the sake of human rights. But it is quite simple to turn this Saudi call for action in Syria for human rights abuses, right back around to face Saudi Arabia itself. And the Delegation would be correct; any delay from the international community to take action in Saudi Arabia over its horrific record on human rights, means more suffering for the victims of the crime family that currently rules that country.

One simple paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 offers a prime example of just why politically religious folk should never be allowed power over the apparatus of a State, nor over the lives of its inhabitants especially its children, in an enlightened World. The barbaric nature of their law:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– It seems almost as if this is an attempt at an ironic art work. Because for a faith that believes their Prophet flew on a very fast magic flying horse to heaven and met Jesus, to claim to be able to speak confidently on anything pertaining to ‘sound nature’ is either an ironic art work, or the start of the most hypocritical speech in religious history. When it comes to the “unnatural”… religions have that one covered almost exclusively.

Either way, that one nasty paragraph – that completely misunderstands ‘sound nature’ – should be enough for those who profess to believe in the cause of social justice and human rights, to focus the majority of their time and efforts on freedom for Saudi Arabia. Currently, students are banned from school and university, if they are suspected of being gay. It isn’t just intense and violent homophobia today in Saudi Arabia that is the problem, it is the systematic attempts to instill into the vulnerable minds of children, that hate is acceptable. It is an attempt to poison those vulnerable minds with violent witchcraft and the acceptability of oppression rather than universal rights and biological fact.

For some odd reason, we do not treat this blatant abuse of the most fundamental rights, in the same way we would if we were to exchange the word “homosexuality” in the above, to “having blue eyes“. Both are part of a natural spectrum that we have no control over, and yet they are treated completely differently, despite being very similar. I would suggest that if the above paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks were to specify punishment for those with blue eyes, instead of homosexuality, there would be far more outrage both for the country in question, and the faith that spawned it. Here:

“Having blue eyes is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for persons with blue eyes, is death. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that those with blue eyes are to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– This paragraph, if enshrined into a Nation’s law, should not shock us anymore than when it said Homosexuality, and yet I am certain that it would. The ‘companions of the Prophet’ would be ignored as a product of their time not to be taken seriously today. I am certain that the World would act to ensure that a scientifically as well as historically untrue basis for such a law, were thoroughly discredited and pressure exerted to ensure the law never made it to any statute book, as a grave abuse of basic human rights.

But, when it is applied to homosexuality, it is often dismissed as a “cultural” difference by cultural relativists whose respect for the dignity of life and individual rights, are not universally applied and must come second when considered alongside violent Theocratic considerations. Tradition seems more important than rights. As if tradition and ‘cultural differences’ are an acceptable excuse for the fact that in the year 2000, Saudi Arabia executed three Yemen men for what it deemed the:

“…obscenity of homosexuality and imitating women.”

– By ‘imitating women’, I’m guessing they don’t mean having to cover everything with the exception of hands and eyes, and another male having ‘guardianship’ rights over her, like a piece of property, nor married off to dirty old men at the age of 9.
In 2005 over 100 men were arrested and sentenced to flogging for:

“behaving like women.”

In 2002, three men were beheaded for being gay.
In 2007, two gay men were sentenced to 7000 lashes, for being gay.
– However we dress it up; this is torture and murder and it is a flagrant disregard for even the most basic of rights; to life itself. We cannot imagine the fear that gay men and women must face every day in Saudi Arabia. Religion does not prevent homosexuality, just like religion would not prevent blue eyes. Because religion has no explanation for nature. It has unsubstantiated, tribal myths, and nothing more. And when nature outgrows religious explanation, religion resorts to violently repressing nature, instead of looking inward and accepting it might be the faith that is flawed.

Gay Palestinian men often risk their lives fleeing into Israel, where they feel far safer and respected, than in the deeply illiberal, Theocratic Palestinian territories. According to a BBC World Service Outlook report, one man fled Gaza to Israel after his family found out that he was gay. The man said that police in Palestine had beat and tortured him.

In 2011, police in Afghanistan publicly humiliated a man dressed in women’s clothes. The victim is seen on film with eyes tearing up as the officers humiliate him. The man says:

“Please have mercy, don’t make fun of me.”

In 1998 in the southern town of Kandahar, the Taliban ordered three gay men buried, with their heads sticking out of the ground, and a wall pushed on top of them by a tank… for the crime of being gay.

The Iranian Constitution states:

“Sodomy is a crime, for which both partners are punished. The punishment is death if the participants are adults, of sound mind and consenting; the method of execution is for the Shari’a judge to decide.”

– Imagine the international backlash, if that Constitution noted that “having blue eyes is a crime“. This constitutional addition has lead to 4000 gay men and women stoned, hanged, beheaded, thrown alive from tall buildings, and set on fire, as legally sanctioned punishments for being gay in Iran. But, because the precedent is set in certain Hadith, for some odd reason it takes on a form of respectability and credibility that those who aren’t Muslim, seem to feel must be respected to a degree. Why? It isn’t acceptable, and the words and deeds of religious figures that give these punishments the life they have, are also completely unacceptable.
One Hadith in question is particularly grotesque and must be condemned as such:

“Narated By Abdullah ibn Abbas : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.”

– If God creates people who happen to be gay, or who have blue eyes, and then demands stigmatising and punishment for those people, it is extremely problematic to label this God anything but a being that enjoys playing violent games with human lives, like rearing ants so that eventually you can point a ray of burning light through magnifying glass at them, and still demand that those tortured ants worship you for such ‘mercy’. This is a cruel Being with no redeeming features.

Secondly, there is no Qur’anic law or rule demanding the murder or torture of gay people (A similar thing cannot be said for the Bible). We could of course point to Sodom – in both the Bible & Qur’an – but, given that no evidence has ever surfaced to suggest this story is based in fact; it’d be like using Narnia for evidence that kids and lions make excellent rulers. And so if any law comes from the (completely unsubstantiated; as all Hadith are) words or deeds of the Prophet, I’m afraid those Muslims who endorse such man made laws, that in no way relate to the Qur’an, are guilty of a sort of idol worship, which of course is a grave sin for that particular faith. It is only through completely unreliable Hadith – reflecting the prejudices and scientific, and social ignorance of the time and place, along with the imperial structure of that particular time and place in history – that gay men and women in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations are persecuted so horrifically.

Whilst every move Israel makes is remarked upon, condemned, and watched with an unmovable eye from both Western Muslims, and a vast portion of those on the Galloway-Left whose ‘cultural relativist’ position is strangely less active when it involves Israel; the most vile regime in Saudi Arabia quietly carries out public lashings, torture and executions of anyone who doesn’t fit its very narrow vision of what it’s 7th Century book demands, with very little real anger from the rest of the World.

My position is quite simple. If your religious text claims universal and timeless truth, upon which it advocates death for any natural trait, be it homosexuality, or blue eyes… your religious text should not be taught to children, should not be allowed to influence policy, should be criticised, shamed, and satirised at every possible opportunity, and deserves not a single shred of respect. Any Nation that puts that text into political practice, must be the focus of united international condemnation from those who claim to have even an ounce of respect for the dignity of human rights and social justice. There is no acceptable excuse for the torture, and murder of anyone with blue eyes.


The Republican-made Benghazi Scandal.

September 11, 2013

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, at ceremony for the victims of the Benghazi attack. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By U.S. Department of State from United States [Public domain].

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, at ceremony for the victims of the Benghazi attack.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By U.S. Department of State from United States [Public domain].

It is a year today, since the tragic events in Benghazi unfolded, and four people lost their lives in a senseless terrorist attack. Since that day, Republicans seeking to undermine and attack the Obama Administration by any means, and using the memories of anyone they can find, have used the Benghazi attack for what is quite obviously political point scoring and nothing more. A year of hearings on the subject, and with no scandal to be found anywhere, this hasn’t deterred the Benghazi obsessives. Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz on Hannity accused the President, over Benghazi, of trying to:

“…trying to personally disparage the people that are trying to get at the truth”

– This is the same Republican Congressman who – whilst doing the rounds on TV in 2012 to register his disgust at the Administration for not providing necessary security for the embassy in Benghazi – admitted that he had voted to cut funds for embassy security. In October 2012, Chaffetz said:

“Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have — think about this — 15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, private army there for President Obama in Baghdad.
And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces? When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices how to prioritize this.”

– On a side note, Chaffetz told Fox News that the Administration was intimidating witnesses to keep them silent. When pressed for evidence and examples, he couldn’t offer any. When asked what the cover-up was covering up, he had no answer.

The Republican controlled House cut funding for embassy security by $128 million in 2011, and $331 million in 2012. For 2013, the Obama administration asked for $2.15 billion for embassy security, House Republicans agreed to $300,000,000 less than that. At the time, Hillary Clinton insisted that cuts to embassy security would be:

“…detrimental to America’s national security”

– House Republicans rejected this, despite the fact that between the Islamabad US Embassy burning in 1979, to the Benghazi attack in 2012, over 20+ US Diplomatic personnel in the US Foreign Service had died. Nine embassy staff were killed in the 1998 bombing of the embassy in Nairobi. 13 on the Hezbollah attack on the Beirut US Embassy in 1983. Laurence Foley was an American diplomat assassinated in 2002. Add those to the list of attacks on embassies between the inauguration of George Bush Jr and Barack Obama; Indian US Consulate in 2002, US Consulate in Bali in 2002, two attacks on US Embassy in Karachi in the space of just one year in 2002-2003, 9 Americans killed in attack on U.S. Compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, attack U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2004, a third attack on Karachi U.S. Consulate in which US Diplomat David Foy was killed. All under Bush, and none receiving the intense right-winged media & Congress storm whipped up after Benghazi. Despite past attacks, and despite Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and despite uprisings across the Middle East making the lives of diplomatics far more at risk, in some of the most dangerous parts of the World; the House Republicans still voted in favour of cutting funding for embassy security.

According to the Citizens for Tax Justice:

“In fact, under Ryan’s plan taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million in 2014 would receive an average net tax decrease of over $200,000 that year even if they had to give up all of their tax expenditures.”

– A tax cut for the wealthiest, partly paid for by defunding embassies in the most dangerous parts of the World, for which they then attempt to spark up a non-scandal aimed at the Obama Administration when the inevitable occurs.

But it isn’t just House Republicans digging in a haystack for a needle that doesn’t exist. Special Operation Speaks – a group dedicated to uncovering what they call:

“… the deadliest scandal in American history.”

– Apparently choosing to ignore the reasons given for an invasion of Iraq. And, well, the entire Reagan administration and the countless convicts over Iran-Contra. It is of course no surprise that the chief funder of Special Operation Speaks, is a man dedicated to bringing down the President by any-means-necessary, he’s known for this, and not just for Benghazi. The names and the families of those killed in Benghazi are simply a means to an end for Larry Bailey. He really has a hatred for President Obama, and will happily invent scandal everywhere. Bailey once said:

“If there were a jury of 12 good men and women and the evidence were placed before them, there would be absolutely no question Barack Obama was not born where he said he was and is not who he says he is.”

– He of course, has never provided evidence for this assertion, or any evidence for who he believes Barack Obama really is.

The call for the establishment of a House Select Committee to investigate Benghazi, has been put into Bill form, by Representative from Virgina, Frank Wolf. And a credible man he is too, what with having voted for military action in Iraq based on the intelligence for which he’s never asked for a committee be set up to investigate, and for restricted Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. So far, Boehner has not allowed the bill to enter the House floor. Which, naturally, prompts the conspiracy obsessed Republicans to insist that Boehner must be part of the evil cover up, rather than coming to the realisation that the empty result of hearing after hearing, is proof enough that there is no big scandal. It must be incredibly embarrassing to be a Republican these days.

In fact, a House Republican Report contradicts many of the claims made by those purportedly searching for the “truth”. For example, on the often repeated claim that the President refused to offer forces to help those being attacked in Benghazi, the House Republican Report says:

“The progress report finds that officials at the Defense Department were monitoring the situation throughout and kept the forces that were initially deployed flowing into the region. No evidence has been provided to suggest these officials refused to deploy resources because they thought the situation had been sufficiently resolved.”

– Republicans discrediting Republican complaints.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas weighed in shamelessly with:

“One of the problems with all of this focus on Syria is it’s missing the ball from what we should be focused on, which is the grave threat from radical Islamic terrorism. Just this week is the one year anniversary of the attack on Benghazi. In Benghazi, four Americans were killed, including the first ambassador since 1979. When it happened, the President promised to hunt down the wrongdoers, and yet a few months later, the issue has disappeared. You don’t hear the President mention it. Now it’s a phony scandal, we ought to be defending U.S. national security and going after radical Islamic terrorists.”

– Three issues here. Firstly, Yes. You should be defending U.S National Security. How about you start by adequately funding security for embassies, with money you’d otherwise give away in tax breaks for your donors?
Secondly, Cruz seems to flippantly brush off the urgent need for a response to the crisis in Syria. It is as if he’s choosing to ignore the 600,000 dead, the 3,000,000 displaced, the hundreds of thousands of children facing forced prostitution and poverty, instead choosing to focus on a non-scandal, discredited even by House Republican Reports.
And thirdly, the issue hasn’t “disappeared” with regards hunting down those responsible. In August of this year, the US filed charges against Militia chief Ahmed Abu Khattala, among others, for the attack in Benghazi.

Where was the outrage for the lives of those killed in attacks during Bush’s years? Where was the outrage for the three attacks on the US Embassy in Karachi, resulting in the death of US Diplomat David Foy? Where was the demand for select committee investigations? There wasn’t any, because it wasn’t perceived as politically valuable for House Republicans to shine a light on those attacks.

The real scandal of Benghazi is two fold. Firstly, could the deaths have been prevented if the funding hadn’t been so drastically reduced by House Republicans over the past three years, and secondly, the shameful use of the victims of the attack on the embassy, for political purposes. The longer Republicans insist on focusing on trying to expose a scandal that doesn’t exist, the more the attention is turned on their own lack of principles with regard funding for embassy security and the lengths they’re willing to go to, the names and the families of the victimes they’re willing to insult and degrade, just for political point scoring. This is a Republican-made scandal and nothing less.


… at least you don’t have an I.D Card.

September 8, 2013

In 2010 – and still taking a prominent place on their website today – The Conservative Party released their ‘Quality of Life Agenda‘; a pamphlet setting out Conservative values for a modern age. Section 4 is titled ‘Defending Civil Liberties‘ and lists the Labour Party’s civil-liberty failures whilst in government:

“Labour have shown complete contempt for the rights of the individual. In opposition we have fought them every step of the way; forcing them into a humiliating u-turn over 42-day detention. In government we’ll go further, scrapping
the Contactpoint database and abolishing ID cards. But these blows for our civil liberties will only happen with the clean break of a new Conservative government.”

– So, please note….. effortlessly carrying around an inconsequential ID card is – according to the Conservative Party – an unacceptable attack on individual civil liberties. Keep that in mind throughout this article.

In July 2013, Conservative MP Philip Hollobone – who voted strongly against any ID scheme – introduced a Bill into Parliament calling for a compulsory one year National Service for 18-26 year olds. The Bill reads:

“Non-exempt individuals who do not serve one year of national service before the age of 26 years shall be guilty of an offence.”

– So for Philip Hollobone, effortlessly carrying around an inconsequential ID card is an unacceptable attack on individual civil liberties. Stealing a year out of the life of young people and punishing them if they don’t comply with that theft, is perfectly acceptable.

Parliament’s website describes the Bill in rather manipulative language:

“A Bill to provide a system of national service for young persons; and for connected purposes.”

– This Bill doesn’t “provide” anything. It removes. It forcibly takes a year from the life of every young person in the country.
When a young person finishes college or university and perhaps has the perfect career opportunity presented before them with which they would ordinarily choose to pursue, would – upon passage of this Bill – have to factor in leaving that position within 8 years whether they wished to do so or not, to comply with Hollobone owning a year of their life.

The horrific Bill continues:

“(2) Regulations shall also provide that the scheme shall include—
(a) a residential element, requiring that participants live away from home;”

– Not only will you not be able to take on the job of your dreams because you’ll inevitably have to give it up whether you wish to or not, but you will have to live where Hollobone demands that you live. Don’t you dare stay at home. You will face punishment. It doesn’t set out the punishment, but that is irrelevant. The fact that a punishment exists at all, and thereby criminalises the act of staying at home, and not wilfully giving up your right to owning your own life, cannot be spun as anything other than an extreme overreaching of centralised government into the lives of individuals, on a level far beyond anything the previous Labour government could have even proposed.

If an 18 – 26 year old is to give up one entire year of his or her life through no free choice, and not as a result of an intrusion upon the rights of others, but through compulsion by threat of punishment, a liberty has therefore been offended. Life is short, and our life is our most sacred property, and with this Bill Philip Hollobone – espousing a Paternalistic society based on the born-to-rule-over-you delusions of Tory Party members – proposes stealing that sacred property. He proposes owning a year of a human being’s life without that person’s consent. A year will been stolen and whilst those who vote “Yes” on the Bill – and if it passes – are the ones who partook in the theft of a youth’s liberty, the author of the bill is the ringleader. He orchestrated it. He is to blame. That year of your life belongs to Hollobone, and if you disagree you will be punished.

The Conservative ‘Quality of Life Agenda’ states:

“And what about giving people more power over their lives?”

– Before launching into a tirade upon the legacy of the previous government. But if an 18-26 year old did not owe a year of their life to a Tory MP before 2010, does owe a year of their life to a Tory MP by 2015, then I’m afraid the Conservatives have taken more power away from that individual and handed to the State, on the terms of Philip Hollobone. And this is a rather massive intrusion upon the civil liberty of an individual. And what will the individual be compensated for being forced to give up an entire 12 months of their life on the terms of one Tory MP?

“Participants in national service shall be paid the national adult minimum wage.”

– Of course. The bare minimum. The least he can possibly pay someone. This is grotesque. Not only is he suggesting paying the bare minimum for labour, but he is suggesting paying the bare minimum for forced labour. That giving up the liberty of owning every year of our life through no choice of our own, is worth nothing to this hideous man. Your labour, and a year of your life combined are only worth the bare minimum to Philip Hollobone. One suspects that if he could get away with it, you’d be paid far less.

Article 2(c) leaves me a little bewildered. It sets out what you will be required to learn:

“treating elderly and disabled people with dignity.”

– I’m not entirely sure that when I was 18-26 (I’m now 27) I would be happy to take deluded lectures on the treatment of the disabled or the elderly from a Party that has systematically abused both over the past three years to the point where every charity for those with a disability that I can find, insists that the people they represent – and those in the most need of care – are the hardest hit by the Conservatives dogmatic obsession with rolling back the State. I would suggest that the majority of young people in this nation are far more respectful toward the sick, those with disabilities, and the elderly, than the entire Conservative Party – and its bedfellows over at Atos – have ever been.

Hollobone makes the Conservative line of “defending civil liberties” appear almost a parody. Not only does he wish to steal and own a year of the life of every young person in the country, he’s also voted against the right for a gay couple to marry, and against removing Hereditary Peers from the House of Lords, and in favour of raising tuition fees to £9000. So if you’re between 18-26 and you happen to be gay; remember that Philip Hollobone is the reason that you cannot afford to go to university, he tried his best to ensure you can’t marry your partner, and now he wants to own a year of your life, uproot you from your home, and all for the bare minimum he’s legally allowed to pay you. But at least you don’t have an inconsequential ID card.

The Conservative Party; defending civil liberties!


Tony Abbott – in his own words.

September 7, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – www.dfat.gov.au

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – http://www.dfat.gov.au


Tony Abbott was not a politician anyone expected to become Prime Minister, back in 2007. Abbott was a force of reaction more than anything else. The Liberals were shattered. But then, a sort of bitter War of the Roses-type family rivalry took over the Labor leadership – both trying to slightly out right-wing each other – and the Liberals were always going to be the obvious benefactor. And so Australia has today dealt Labor a mighty blow in the Federal Election, and elevated Tony Abbott to the Prime Ministership. So, it is perhaps worth noting the new Prime Minister’s thoughts on a variety of issues.

On women, Tony Abbott said:

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.”

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up.”

On man-made climate change:

“The climate change argument is absolute crap, however the politics are tough for us because 80 per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

– Tony Abbott here is in direct disagreement with Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007, African Academy of Sciences, International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences, Geological Society of London, Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, American Geophysical Union, United States National Research Council, Royal Society of New Zealand, and many more. Abbott believes he knows better. I am unable to locate any research or thesis he has written on the subject.

On the right for same-sex couples to marry:

“I’m not someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment.”

– Fashion of the moment. Seriously.

On the huge life decision whether to have an abortion:

“Abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.”

On what abortion might lead to:

“I believe that there is a vast moral gulf which separates modern Australia from Nazi Germany. But can we be so sure that, under pressure over time, we will not slide down the same slippery slope. We only have to look at the abortion situation in this country.”

On rose-tinted Colonialist history:

“Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage.”

On the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan:

“Shit happens.”

On a woman’s right to control her own body:

“I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.”

On the plight of Aboriginal Australians:

“There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done.”

The Liberal’s website echoes the thoughts of right-winged Parties in other developed nations, with its delusional promises:

“The Coalition’s priority will be to build a stronger, more productive and diverse economy through lower taxes, more efficient government and more productive businesses that will deliver more jobs, higher wages and better services for all Australians.

– The exact same plan is well underway in the UK, and hasn’t delivered more efficient government – I challenge anyone to suggest the Department of Work & Pensions, or the Education Department, or the Health Department are now ‘efficient’ – hasn’t delivered more productive businesses, hasn’t delivered higher wages, or better services. Quite the opposite. With an added dose of misery and a distinct lack of hope. Similar policies in Republican controlled States in the US, offer similar results. Austerity is completely unnecessary in Australia in 2013. It doesn’t work. And it wont work for Australia.

Abbott is an Australian version of the slightly less sane sect of the US Republicans in Congress, a sort of Louie Gohmert figure for Australia. It will be interesting to see how the Abbott administration acts on the positions that their new Prime Minister fosters. It’ll be equally interesting to see how Labor change and if – with Rudd having retained his seat – they can move forward, get it together with a new leader, and new direction in time for 2016.


Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates II

September 4, 2013

battle2

It is without doubt that the Democrats have a thoroughly difficult challenge in the next year, if they are to ensure a House painted blue at the end of 2014. This series will provide details on Democratic candidates running for election in 2014, and the work of Republican incumbents.

Yesterday’s focus on Congressional candidates and incumbents for 2014 included Nick Casey running for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, and Andrew Romanoff for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Today, the focus will be on two more Democratic candidates required for the Democrats to pick up the 17 seats needed to take the House.

Florida’s 2nd Congressional District:
The race for Florida’s 2nd district is already in full swing. The theme running through Democrat candidates for 2014, is to return Congress to a functioning legislature, rather than the chaotic state that it currently resides under Republican leadership. Democratic candidates are absolutely right to fight to restore the confidence in Congress. According to a Gallup poll, as of August 13th, 81% of Americans do not approve of Congress. This downward trend of approval is likely to continue when Congress returns to hammer out agreement on the new fiscal yearly budget, and immigration reform. Republicans have had their opportunity, and they’ve failed miserably.

Gwen Graham is a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 2nd. Daughter of former Senator Bob Graham, Gwen Graham is running as a voice of moderation and bipartisanship in 2014. Among the issues, she supports same sex marriage, based on principles of universal love. Graham said:

“I have a daughter and two sons, and if they came to me and said that they were gay I would want them to have the same rights under the law as everyone else has, and I would want them to be happy and I would want them to be in a committed marriage with someone that they loved”.

Graham also wishes to fight the disastrous outcome following the debate on student loan interest:

“Raising rates for students is no different from raising taxes on middle-class families. And if the politicians in Washington want to raise our rates, they should at least have the guts to be honest about it.
While in D.C., Congressman Southerland must have forgotten we have almost 100,000 college students who live in the second congressional district, and countless families who send their children to colleges outside the district.
Our representative should be a voice for the students and families of North Florida — voting to make college more accessible, not more expensive.”

Florida’s 2nd Congressional District is currently represented by Republican Steve Southerland. The district is on the Democrats top 10 list of seats to take in 2014. The district leans Republican, and Southerland was endorsed in 2010, by Sarah Palin. And it doesn’t take long to find out just why he might have gained the support of the Tea Party’s finest.

Southerland is one of those Republican Congressmen that insists on vocalising a ‘pro-life’ position, until the child is born. And if the child happens to be female, or gay, his pro-life credentials are quickly replaced by a very Patriarchal, Christian-right ideal. For example, Southerland voted against increasing funds for the Violence Against Women Act. In the same month, Southerland voted to block a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, that went some way to address the gender gap in pay. Florida, according to Sun-Sentinel, has a pay gap of around 20%. For every $1 a man makes, a woman makes 80 cents. Southerland also co-sponsored the horrifying ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act‘ with which the GOP eventually relented on, after critics pointed out that is used the loaded phrase “forcible rape” as an exception, suggesting that date rape, statutory rape and other forms would not be covered.

His utter contempt for women doesn’t end there. Southerland voted in favour of prohibiting funds to Planned Parenthood. As noted yesterday, Planned Parenthood offers family planning funding and services including breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventative healthcare to millions of low income women and families. He dismisses the incalculably important advice and services that Planned Parenthood offers vulnerable people, all for Christian crusade against abortion. Writing in Psychology Today, Jennifer Hamady talks of the importance of Planned Parenthood:

“They provide free and drastically reduced gynecological services to those who might otherwise not get treatment, saving the lives of countless mothers and children. They provide affordable care for those who don’t have, can’t afford, or have lost their health insurance. They provide counseling for women and girls who have been abused, raped, or are in the process of being bullied or pressured into sex. They provide education on hygiene and wellness. They provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.”

– When Southerland and others like him seek to completely prohibit Federal funding for this service, they put a huge number of lives at risk, and care little for those lives.
Victims of domestic abuse, and sexual assault, and those seeking important services like breast and cervical cancer screenings, have been failed by Steve Southerland.
But remember…. he’s “pro-life”.

Whilst Gwen Graham supports keeping politics out of agriculture, Congressman Southerland is blamed by both sides of the political divide for killing the bipartisan Farm Bill in July, with a partisan poison pill amendment. Farmers in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District should not forget that particularly horrendous betrayal, in 2014.

In contrast to Gwen Graham’s support for same-sex marriage on the basis of the right to love, and to be happy, Steve Southerland supports a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He fails to note just how incredibly unconstitutional this idea is. Defining an institution that exists across cultures and is not confined to Christian Theology, as a Christian ideal and attempting to enshrine that ideal in a secular Constitution, is an outright attack on the founding principles of the United States. It takes a giant Theocratic wrecking ball to the wall of separation between church and state.

This is Gwen Graham’s first run for office, and judging by Congressman Southerland’s lack of support for anyone who isn’t a rich, Christian male, this is going to be an incredibly important race for the Democrats to win. Republicans have noted this, and Southerland is part of their “Patriot Program” designed to shore up support for those House Republicans facing the most difficult races in 2014. If Graham manages to turn Florida’s 2nd Congressional District blue, there will be one less irrational and dangerous Tea Party Republican voting in 2015.

Illinois’s 13th Congressional District:
Whilst Rodney Davis – Illinois Republicans’ 13th Congressional District Representative – is perhaps not as extreme as the Tea Party faction of which Steve Southerland resides, he still presents serious concerns. He opposes same-sex marriage (and as I’ve previously noted, there is not one argument against same-sex marriage that is based on reason rather than bigotry, Davis offers nothing new). And despite being less ‘extreme’ than the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, we must consider the importance of a Representative’s judgement. In June this year, attorney and Republican Erika Harold announced she would run against Davis for Illinois’ 13th. In response, Montgomery County Republican Chairman Jim Allen sent this email:

“Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.
The truth is Nancy Pelosi and the DEMOCRAT party want this seat. So they called RINO Timmy Johnson to be their pack mule and get little queen to run.
Ann Callis gets a free ride through a primary and Rodney Davis has a battle.
The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,,boohoo..kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on..Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it..
Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them..”

– That’s right. The Chairman of Montgomery County’s Republican Party referred to a successful attorney and fellow candidate for the House of Representatives as “a street walker” and that she’d only manage to find work in a law firm due to affirmative action. The Chairman of Montgomery County’s Republican Party was on Rodney Davis 2014 election team.

Davis has set out his plan for 2014, and it is eerily similar to Republican’s failed plan over the past several years, and is the root cause of the stalemate in Congress. Davis appears not to understand. Here he notes his obsession with the futile task of working to repeal Obamacare:

“Rodney believes we must lower taxes for everyone, including small business owners, reduce red tape and regulations, and repeal and replace Obamacare.”

“In Congress, Rodney will fight to repeal and replace the flawed Obamacare.”

– Before the summer break, one of the final votes in the House was to repeal Obamacare. Again. A bill signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court, the Republicans in early August tried for the ….. 40th time…. to repeal Obamacare. Continuous attempts to repeal, offering no solution, and peddling easily discredited myths, Davis appears to be insisting that this must continue. His sole contribution to the debate on healthcare, is to insist on continuously and pointlessly voting for repeal. Same old Republican Party.

Davis Democratic opponent in 2014 for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, is Madison County Judge Ann Callis. She self funded her retention campaign for the Judiciary in 2012. Callis has a lot of ground to cover to get her name and her positions known throughout Illinois’ 13th, but over a year to do it, and the 13th is by no means locked down by either Party. It is prudent to begin now, and Callis is a rising star in the Democratic World. Callis seems both moderate, and responsible, and in a district neither safe Red nor safe Blue, moderation is the key. Lean too far to the left or to the right, and the campaign is over. Callis’ positions are set out clearly on her website:

“Ann Callis believes that Washington needs to find ways to cut the deficit responsibly – not on the backs of middle-class families, and not while providing massive tax cuts for millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas. In order to help businesses grow and create jobs, we need to get our fiscal house in order and give breaks to small businesses that create jobs here at home. We must also not make dangerous cuts to Social Security, Medicare, education or other programs that are vital to the middle class.”

– She is supported and endorsed by the Women’s Campaign Fund in Washington DC and rather embarrasingly to the Davis campaign, she earned the support of Davis’ mentor, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, who once noted of her Judicial reforms, that Callis has:

“…earned my respect and the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Unlike Davis, who seemingly believes endless votes to repeal Obamacare is the principle function of Congress, Callis rightfully notes:

“Judge Callis believes Washington’s top priority must be to create good jobs that will keep our middle class strong. Congress should be working to create an environment where small businesses can grow and thrive, not making ill conceived cuts that hamper our fragile economic recovery.”

– As we found out here in the UK, ill conceived cuts are the absolute antithesis of economic recovery. It is dangerous, it destroys lives, and it leads to stagnation and despair with no positive results. Callis is right to point out the consequences of ill conceived cuts.

Whilst Davis, on his site, dogmatically tells us that Government cannot create jobs, Callis (and history) disagrees:

“Rebuilding our local infrastructure and re-training those who are actively looking for work are vital steps toward keeping the middle class secure.”

– What comes across from both campaigns, is that the Republican candidate favours a trickle-down system that has never worked for the majority, whilst the Democratic candidate is focused on pragmatism rather than dogmatism on economic sustainability.

With a little over a year to go until the 2014 election, it will be interesting to note the twists these campaigns take, the fiery rhetoric, and the evolving positions. Democrats need to secure 17 seats in order to gain a majority in the House and ensure an end to the awful deadlock that has plagued Congress since the Republican take-over in 2010.

Vote Gwen Graham for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.
Vote Ann Callis for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.

See here for a previous Focus on Candidates in this series.


Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates.

September 3, 2013

ree

The US is still over a year away from the House elections in 2014, and having picked up just seven more seats in 2012 from 2010, it will be an uphill battle if the Democrats are going to grab the 17 seats of the 435 up for grabs, needed to secure a majority in the House in 2014.

That isn’t to say that it is impossible for Democrats to secure a much needed majority. There are some promising candidates pushing for a victory in 2014. I will focus on two Congressional races in this article.

West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District:
Firstly, former Chairman of West Virginia’s State Democrats Nick Casey. Casey is a candidate running for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. The open seat will be vacated by Republican Shelley Moore Capito, who will be running for the Senate seat. On Casey’s campaign website, it is clear that a jobs plan is a priority, and rightfully so given that West Virginia as a whole has a 6.2% unemployment rate (15th highest in the US), with counties in the 2nd Congressional District having some of the highest rates of unemployment in the State. Casey’s website says:

“My campaign will focus on energy, infrastructure and the jobs they generate. Jobs repairing and expanding our roads, bridges, internet coverage, and essential infrastructure will help our entire economy grow. Right now in the Second Congressional District we have partially-finished projects. I’m talking about Route 35, Corridor H, Route 9 and other similar projects. Each of these are more than halfway finished and the remaining segments are already designed. Let’s finish these critical projects now, not in 20 or 30 years.”

– Given that Shelley Moore Capito has represented the district since 2001, with projects left unfinished, energy left untapped, and unemployment still high, it seems time for a change. It will be a struggle to win over a conservative leaning district in which President Obama lost every county in 2012, but with a clear focus on jobs, and on breaking the deadlock in Washington, Casey’s moderate, common sense approach could very well take the seat.

Colorado’s 6th Congressional District Race:
Less safe for Republicans in 2014, will be Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, which, since redistricting, has become a seat that could go either way. The swing seat is a battle between liberal Aurora and conservative Highlands Ranch. The Representative for Colorado’s 6th, is currently Republican Mike Coffman. Coffman is one of those Republicans that alienates those who aren’t exactly like him:

“I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.”

– Not only is he questioning the President’s place of birth in a show of Donald Trump-esque non-reason, Coffman is also sure that the President, in his heart, is unAmerican. He of course doesn’t define what ‘being American’ means, and why the President doesn’t fit that definition, just that he is ‘unAmerican’ in ‘his heart’. No focus on issues, just on needless abuse. He also suggested that the President might use the military and an overseas conflict to help him win the election in 2012. And last week, whilst Congressional Republicans were demanding the President seek Congressional approval for a strike on Syria, upon hearing that that’s exactly what the President would do, Coffman changed position:

“The Assad government has had all the time in the world to move their assets around so they don’t present themselves as easy targets.”

– So, now Republicans are unhappy that the President didn’t strike early, without Congressional approval?
This is the face of a Republican Representative who has no reasonable argument and so must resort to weak insults with the distinct reek of desperation. When Coffman isn’t busy abusing the President, he is busy on his website, being Mr Obvious:

“…it is vital to promote responsible gun ownership by keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and of the mentally unstable.”

– That’s not a position. The alternative would be “we must ensure the mentally unstable can easily get hold of firearms“. The antithesis to the absurd, is not a position worth voting for, unless a credible plan accompanies it.
Mike Coffman is one of the many old rich male, anti-women Republicans in Congress. The elephant in the womb. He co-sponsored a bill to cut Title X entirely because it provides federal funds to Planned Parenthood, which uses private funds for abortion (again, provides private funds for abortion, not federal). Title X offers family planning funding and services including breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventative healthcare to millions of low income women and families. His war on the most vulnerable doesn’t stop there, Coffman voted no on the expansion of Children’s Health Insurance Program and co-sponsored “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” and “Defund ObamaCare”. Coffman, in short, is a time and money wasting anti-Obamacare Republican dedicated to the wealthy, who spends his time on useless legislation, to make a political point that no one wants to hear.

Coffman’s challenger for Colorado’s 6th, is Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff, like Casey is focusing on ending the stalemate in Washington and producing a Congress that actually works, along with green jobs. Romanoff also refuses to take campaign money from special interests, insisting:

“Washington is awash of special interest money…I’m going to need individuals to chip in and make contributions. I want to represent the people of the 6th District, not special interests.”

– Romanoff is one of very few to eschew campaign contributions from big business and special interests, worried – and rightfully so – that they distort the political process. By contrast, in 2011/12, Mike Coffman raised $216,000,000 from leadership PACs, $174,000 from the oil and gas industry and $144,000 from the real estate industry. According to the Denver Post, in 2012, Coffman received $10,400 in individual donations, over the legal limit.
Romanoff was the speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives between 2005 and 2008, sponsored Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Act. Whilst the process for receiving a BEST grant is a tough one, it is invaluable, given that small districts and charters have practically no other options for funding. Sanford Superintendent Kevin Edgar said:

“The BEST program is our only hope”

Romanoff has also authored laws protecting victims of domestic violence, and treatment for mental illness.
– So the choice is clear in 2014; an anti-women Representative with slightly neurotic, deluded Tea Party-esque tactics, funded by big oil among others, and no discernible position on most issues, or a Representative who isn’t tied to special interests and has worked for the benefit of the most vulnerable in the past.

Democrats need to secure more than double the seats they managed in 2012, if they are to take back the House and get Congress moving. It’s a tough battle, but it isn’t impossible. Focusing on candidates is vitally important and I will look at several more races over the coming weeks and months.

Vote Nick Casey for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.
Vote Andrew Romanoff for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.


Syria: Secular democracy must be the goal.

September 2, 2013

“Without Western heavy political lifting, led primarily by the US, the most likely scenario is for the death toll in Syria to continue to rise, the humanitarian crisis to further deepen, and for Syria to become the new Yemen, offering refuge and acting as a launching hub for terrorist groups.”
– Jamil Sawda, Syria Specialist.

In the event of Congressional approval for a limited strike on Syria; in the event of the weakening of the power of the Assad regime; and in the event of the eventual overthrow of that abhorrent regime…. what comes next? My reservations about any strike on Syria stem from the apparent lack of coherent plan to ensure a peaceful transition to secular, democratic governance in Syria once the conflict has ended.

It is without doubt that a chemical attack in which 400+ children died, along with 80,000+ deaths in the conflict so far and over 1,000,000 exiled into horrendous conditions, cannot be ignored. It has been ignored for too long. And as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah intervene in order to press for a strengthened Assad regime, or a more oppressive Theocratic entity post-Assad, so must the forces for a democratic and secular solution ensure their allies in Syria are well equipped and supported.

As it stands, the secular and democratic left rebels in Syria are outnumbered. Their voice is too weak in the country, and its natural allies in the West – the left – are again spending their time endlessly ensuring we all know how much they dislike the US; the Stop the War Coalition predictably makes no mention of the struggle of the secular and democratic left in Syria; shows no support for the secular and democratic left in Syria, but bizarrely in an article on Syrian intervention, manages to attack Tony Blair. The democratic, secular voices in Syria – the voices we must support – suffer heavily as a result of internal conflict, and external ignorance.

Ahrar ash-Sham are the most powerful rebel force in the region, boasting around 20,000 members over 50 units around Aleppo and Hama. Ahrar ash-Sham call for an Islamic state. They are allied with Jabhat al-Nusra Front. Al-Nusra Front is an al-Qaeda associate Jihadist group who also wish to see the Assad regime replaced by an Islamic caliphate, under harsh Sharia conditions. Al-Nusra insist that upon their victory, entertainment that al-Nusra consider “immoral”, would be banned. They are the Taliban of the Syrian conflict.
In January 2012, al-Nusra claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Al-Midan, in which 26 people died – most of whom, were innocent civilians.
In October 2012, al-Nusra claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square that left 48 people dead and 122+ badly wounded.
In June 2012, they attacked al-Ikhbariya TV, killing seven people including three journalists in a violent crackdown of anyone daring to criticise them.
In mid-2012, al-Nusra released a statement stating that they had kidnapped and executed TV news presented, Mohammed al-Saeed, simply because he supported the Assad regime. In a statement, Al-Nusra said:

“The heroes of western Ghouta imprisoned the shabih (pro-regime militia) presenter on July 19. He was then killed after he had been interrogated.”

– This is a group that consider the kidnap and murder of a TV presenter, to be heroic. The targeting of journalists speaks volumes of the message al-Nusra wish to send out. Under their rule, Syrians would not benefit from the fundamental right of free expression. The fact that the most powerful rebel groups in the conflict are allied with a group like Jabhat al-Nusra – a group that has absolutely no problem with the murder of innocent civilians and journalists – is intensely unnerving. They could become the region’s biggest problem in the coming years. This is a group that wilfully match the vicious nature of dictatorial regimes to ensure the black banner is raised above Damascus.

But it isn’t all gloom. Indeed, there exists secular & democratic rebel groups in Syria who desperately require Western support and cooperation for their cause and the for the future of a Syria not dogged by regressive, Theocratic tyranny. They understand the desperate need for fundamental human rights and democratic institutions. The Coalition of Secular & Democratic Syrians is the most important group in the Syrian civil war. The President of the Coalition, Randa Kassis told Spiegel Online of the problems facing her movement:

“The Islamist groups, which are superbly financed and equipped by the Gulf states, are ruthlessly seizing decision-making power for themselves. Syrians who are taking up arms against the dictator but not putting themselves under the jihadists’ command are being branded as unpatriotic and as heretics. This is also affecting the many soldiers and officers who have defected to the opposition but who aren’t willing to replace the corrupt terrorism of the Assad regime with a religious tyranny.”

Secular & democratic forces in Syria are divided. There is no clear strategy. This conflict is reflected in the make-up and operations of the Syrian National Coalition, which is so incredibly complex, faces resignations on a constant basis, that it is almost entirely impotent. The Coalition saw liberal members freeze their membership upon the election of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Ghassan Hitto to the newly formed Prime Ministerial role. One of the Coalition’s liberal democrats, Kamal al-Labwani said:

“The government is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Qatar government. We will be against this government and will not give it legality. Democracy is from the land and from the people not from a council that is composed by the government of Qatar.”

– Hitto resigned in June, citing an inability to unite members and topple the Assad regime. The Muslim Brotherhood’s power within the Syrian National Coalition is made all the more worrying given the fact that the Coalition has widespread international recognition as Syria’s representative body. And yet, it is a body that cannot decide if it is secular, or Theocratic, but is slowly leaning toward the side of Theocracy.

The Coalition’s first leader in 2012, Moaz al-Khatib insisted that a moderate form of Islamic law should be instituted in a post-Assad Syria, run by Islamic scholars. He is a supporter and friend of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who once said:

“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption…The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them…Allah Willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

– Whilst al-Khatib may openly support horrid little fascists like al-Qaradawi, he appears to be opposed to strict interpretations of religious texts (he does not insist on the veiling of women), yet his “moderate” Theocratic principles still insist on entrenching one particular religion above all others, which is, by its very nature, oppressive. His speeches tend to confuse freedom, with Theocracy. The US Christian Right are very similar.
The Syrian National Coalition is so diverse, that the very fundamentals of forming a governmental system cannot be agreed upon. The question of Church & State separation, cannot be agreed upon. Without a working constitutional framework, there is no government. The very first, and most important question is whether or not a post-Assad Syria be secular, or Theocratic (moderate or not).

By contrast, independent Islamic extremist groups separate from the Coalition, seem to be far more cohesive and the likelihood of a powerful alliance between them increases. Islamist opposition groups, motivated by religion, and supported and armed by competing Gulf and Arab states, whilst Muslim Brotherhood power infects the Coalition, makes secular & democratic unity on the Syrian crisis all but impossible. And we know what happens when Islamic Theocrats have control of a country. Afghanistan is a prime example of the horrendous abuses and oppression of states controlled by religious fascists. Syria cannot afford that eventuality. The region cannot afford it.

Without a real diplomatic strategy to unite rebel groups, without Western support for the right groups to make sure the country isn’t overrun and overpowered by Islamic extremist groups, and to ensure strong democratic and secular infrastructure and framework – based on the fundamental right to expression, to association, to belief, to protest, to gender equality, to racial equality, to vote, to sexuality – upon which the rebuilding of Syria must be based, any intervention can only lead to more conflict and the inevitability of a ground invasion further down the line.


The Madness of Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

September 1, 2013

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Since 2008, the Republican Party has exceeded expectations, in presenting fanatical hysteria as reasonable points of opposition. From descriptions of dreaded, but wholly invented ideas of ‘death panels’, to gay marriage unleashing a ‘generation of barbarians’, we’ve seen it all, and all in less than five years. But one name often goes unheard (at least, over here in the UK), exists on the periphery, yet epitomises the Republican Party shift from centre-right, to far-right-hysteria. And that name is Louie Gohmert.

Louie Gohmert is Texas’ 1st Congressional District Representative. He was re-elected in 2010 to serve his fifth term in Congress. He has a plethora of beautifully ridiculous statements in his back catalogue. We see Satan Worshipping cross dressers make an appearance, terrorist babies, as well as an oil pipeline necessary to ensure reindeer have sex. It’s a very diverse range that Gohmert has so tenderly bestowed upon us. I’ll give you a brief run down of some of my favourite Gohmert moments:

When pressed for his position on – well – any issue, he finds the most extreme position, and uses it to make his case. For example, on the subject of gun control legislation, Gohmert said:

“…and I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit ; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?

There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.

– He managed, effortlessly, to link a slippery slope gun control argument, to a same-sex marriage slippery slope argument. The fallacious nature of the argument itself would be laughable if it weren’t so horrendously dangerous and bigoted. There is a reason the slippery slope is a fallacy; it is baseless. It is like saying: “Well you eat chicken meat, so why not eat human meat? Where does it end!“.

On gay marriage, Gohmert continues:

“someone who believes in evolution … that throughout the history of the universe, and particularly Earth, that people have come together and born an offspring from different species that has evolved and given us stronger and better species, how does the mating of two males evolve the species upwards?”

– This isn’t an attack on gay marriage, this is an attack on homosexuality itself. It is also a complete misunderstanding of evolution, and sexuality. Evolution isn’t about a species evolving “upwards”. It is simply producing survival and sustaining mechanisms for survival within the current climate and landscape that the species inhabits. There is no direction. Evolution isn’t wilfully trying to produce ‘better species’, just species able to adapt to the surroundings of that particular time.

Secondly, sexuality is a natural spectrum. No biologist, geneticist or evolutionist will tell you that sexuality is a choice. Sexuality is a spectrum not just for humans, but hundreds of species. Female Japanese macaques prefer sexual conduct with other female Japanese macaques, but still mate with males. They are entirely bisexual. It is as natural as the spectrum of eye colour. The very fact that homosexuality exists, means it has an evolutionary advantage. Gohmert misunderstands science entirely.

Whilst on the subject of same-sex marriage, Louie Gohmert – an actual lawmaker – gave us his belief on where such legislation would inevitably lead. According to Gohmert, those supporting same-sex marriage wish to see:

…hire whatever Satan-worshiper, whatever cross-dresser you think might be immoral, that’s against your religious belief. You are going to be forced to abandon your religious beliefs, and we’ve been seeing that with some of the requirements under Obamacare.”

– Yes! Someone had to say it! Obamacare is simply a mask to make Churches hire cross-dressing Satan-Worshippers! It’s SO obvious. Wake up America!
The fact that this man gets the privilege to vote on gun legislation; a vote on the safety of your children in school, is quite frankly repulsive.

On the subject of sex-education, Gohmert said:

“Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody.”

– Humanity also existed for a very long time without Jesus. So naturally we can assume Gohmert wishes to withdraw talk of Christ from the classroom. Gohmert’s argument here could be used to restrict progress in any subject known to man. Mankind existed for thousands of years without airplanes and cars, so let’s scrap them. Progress is defined by moving from a primitive stage to a more enlightened stage of human existence. Sex-education, according to Gohmert is fine as it is. It’s not necessary to educate our children. I mean, it isn’t like we’ve had millennia of Patriarchy, sexual oppression, whilst an old white man’s womb controlling Republican Party continues to push anti-women sentiment, anti-homosexuality sentiment, anti-contraception sentiment, anti-transgendered sentiment, that absolutely leads to sexual discrimination and bullying in school and beyond and perpetual patriarchy. That’s never happened. Why would we need to educate children away from primitive ideas on sex? Thanks Louie!

But there’s one thing missing from his argument to make it typically as far to the Republican Right as possible:

“I was shocked when they were saying ‘no, the children don’t belong to parents, they belong to the state.’ And if any parent said anything in front of their children negative about the wonderful Soviet Union, then we will take their children away and give them to somebody more deserving. And I just thought how horribly shocking that was, that of course parents were the ones who love the children, not the state. And I thought thank God that we don’t have that in our country.”

– Yes! That’s what was missing! Drawing comparisons to Communism! Here, he suggested that sex-ed takes responsibility away from the parents, and places it in the hands of the State. I’m not sure why this only applies to sex-ed, and not, say, geography? And there is no comparison. The purpose of sex-ed is to ensure children have all the available information on their bodies, on contraception, on relationships, on their developments, on the risks and so on. It is not the purpose of sex-ed to take children from their parents, if their parents criticise the President.

In 2010 on the floor of the House, Gohmert told his fellow Representatives, that the terrorists had a new plot. According to Gohmert, he had been given evidence that:

“It appeared that [the terrorists] would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life,”

– So, whilst crossdressing Satan worshippers are preaching to Soviet children about sex-ed, terrorists will be impregnating American women with terror babies. Naturally, Gohmert hasn’t produced any evidence to back up this madness, other than the word of his apparent FBI informant. Needless to say, the FBI’s former Assistant Director, Thomas Fuentes responded that there is absolutely no evidence, or even concern, or even a report of any kind, at the FBI of a conspiracy of terror babies. Responding to Fuentes refutation, Gohmert told CNN:

“The explosions wont happen for ten or fifteen years. And then you will be one of those blips – I’m not comparable to Winston Churchill – but the detractors like you are comparable to his detractors.”

– It’s nice of Gohmert to point out that he isn’t comparable to Winston Churchill. But despite all of his assurances of a terror baby plot, he has never produced a shred of evidence. So, that’s GOP men v Al Qaeda men, in a fight for the right to control a woman’s womb.

In the past, Gohmert has also blamed the Aurora shootings on lack of belief in God; he’s demanded an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of the US government; told a woman who aborted a fetus that had no active brain function that she should have carried it to full term; and that he supported the trans-Alaskan oil pipeline because reindeer will have more sex:

“So when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline. So my real concern now … if oil stops running through the pipeline… do we need a study to see how adversely the caribou would be affected if that warm oil ever quit flowing?”

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert is typical of the new Republican right. Amid the occasional hysterically funny sentiments about reindeer oil-pipeline romance, he seems unable to fathom that there is a vast gulf between quantifiable evidence, and what he believes might probably happen, sometime, maybe. The Republican crazy-right are incapable of presenting evidence for their most frenzied arguments. They tend to contradict secure, scientific understanding of the World and of humanity at every possible opportunity, without presenting a thesis or even a shred of evidence as to why the scientific consensus is wrong, and they are right. Whilst I would agree that it is a tactic designed to whip up fear and agitation, I would also argue that politicians like Gohmert genuinely believe what they say to be true, and that is perhaps far more unnerving.

Texas can do better than Louie Gohmert.