Watching the Demise of the Republican Party

I must admit I am thoroughly enjoying the macabre demise of a once powerful political party, the GOP. Their implosion truly began with Saint Reagan’s Voodoo Economics debacle and has hit the party’s nadir with the tantrum-throwing triumvirate of the Senate (Graham, McCain and Ayotte and the Benghazi “Scandal”). It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad to welcome the GOP Apocalypse with open arms. These masters of mendacity have been perpetrating an apocryphal fraud on the American people and it’s taken roughly thirty years for the majority of our electorate to come to this epiphany. The major causes of this impending doom are their adherence to deleterious tax policies, The TeaParty’s influence, voter suppression and religious fundamentalists hijacking the party.

Most notably, the stranglehold of the self-appointed anti-tax czar Grover Norquist seems to be loosening as he seems to be in the throes of desperation. Even long time GOP Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wy) jokes about drowning Norquist and his “pledge” in a bathtub. Good Ole Grover knows he is becoming irrelevant and will threaten pledge-signing Republicans with the fate of Bush 41 if they defy this self-proclaimed tax god who has only hurt our economy with his policies. Teaparty crazies like Joe Walsh and Allen West and their anti-tax zealotry were soundly defeated. In fact, the Teaparty is considered one of the least popular groups in America ranking slightly ahead of Atheists and Muslims.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, never elected to a single office

Teaparty Express leader Amy Kremer believes the reason for the defeat was not the extremist wing of the GOP, but the absence of true conservatism in the candidates. She recently admitted Republicans like Senators Chambliss and Graham are going to be put through a Republican primary fight in 2014 if they don’t uphold the Norquist Pledge. Teabaggers in the House, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan to name a few, will not raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and would rather see us suffer a crushing economic blow like they caused last summer when our credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history.

Following the 2012 General Election when President Obama won reelection with a comfortable Electoral College margin (332-206), a few Republican officials openly admitted the reason for their massive voter suppression campaigns was not to prevent voter fraud, but to make sure it was harder for minorities to vote. Fortunately, Democrats in key swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania were aware of this discrimination campaign and were able to put a halt to their efforts.

Another group to whom they have little influence are those who are not self-proclaimed members of any organized religion. Atheists, Agnostics and “Nones” make up almost 20% of our population, up from around a 6% representation in 1990. Issues like repealing DADT and legalizing gay marriage are supported by many younger voters, both Democrats and Republicans, so the GOP’s outdated stance on these issues is very quickly losing popularity. If birth control, DOMA and abortion are going to comprise their religiously-motivated agenda, 2014 could see a Democratic House once again.

During this holiday season, I am most thankful logic and reason prevailed over “legitimate rape” and personhood in a year the Mayans and Fundamentalists have decided is the End of the World. In other words, Michelle Bachmann’s brand of batshit didn’t sell and probably won’t for a long time. I believe Thomas Ricks said it best in this very abruptly ended interview on Fox News that the Newscorp network is a wing of the Republican propaganda machine. This machine is becoming outdated and obsolete and will slip into irrelevance if they continue behaving like Teabagging Toddlers. I believe the #GOP will no longer be trending in the near future.

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Sports Heroes Attribute Success to God; Churches Use These Profits to Fund Hate

When Gabby Douglas won the Olympic Gymnastics All-Around gold, she proclaimed, “…I give all the glory to God, it’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.” She will be reiterating this sentiment in front of thousands of fans at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas December 1st and 2nd, 2012. This is a paid speaking engagement, the church communique explains: The church enjoys bringing these inspirational guests in for our community and congregation and sets aside funds each year for special services like these. The congregation provides untold sums of money, not a penny of which any tax is paid back to the city that provides the roads, power, water, fire and police services. Instead of the largely charitable contribution to society the church should provide, the unregulated and tax-free donations are often spent on promotional events, such as financing celebrities for the purpose of recruiting more worshippers. Tim Tebow spoke there earlier this year and naturally he attracted capacity crowds.

20121121-100159.jpg
Canyon Ridge’s motto: God First
The Tim Tebow appearance at Canyon Ridge

When I learned of Gabby Douglas’ appearance, I didn’t think too much about it, as I presumed it was merely meant to inspire young athletes and patrons alike. After seeing so many elaborate color-printed cards displayed at various Las Vegas locations advertising her visit, I thought I’d look into this church a little further. Gabby is an outstanding Olympic athlete who, unfortunately, is not a dynamic public speaker. Like the Tebow visit, Gabby’s appearance is mainly orchestrated to attract potential new congregants.

First here are some basic facts about Canyon Ridge. It is most definitely a “mega-church”, which is by definition any church with a weekly attendance of over 2,000 people. With an average weekly attendance of 6,000, Canyon Ridge can hold up to 3,000 at one time. There are two other mega branches of the church in the Las Vegas Metropolitan area: Central Christian Church, a church where over 5,000 members can attend at once. The third branch, The Crossing is a smaller version, but still qualifies as a mega-church. According to Christian Standard, The Crossing was planted by Canyon Ridge Christian Church on September 24, 2000, and is the youngest megachurch with an average worship attendance of 2,224 last year. Canyon Ridge, located in the northwest valley of Las Vegas, was birthed by Central Christian Church in 1993 and averaged almost 6,000 in attendance last year. Central Christian, also in Las Vegas, averaged close to 18,000 in worship last year. Those are some great church planting genes! I recognize many churches do charitable deeds, like many in the NY/NJ area are currently doing for victims of Hurricane Sandy. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what most megachurches do other than to try to increase their bottom line.

Like so many religions, Canyon Ridge is interested in promoting their faith by expansion all over the globe. They have partnered with the leader of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality movement (AKA “Kill the Gays”), Martin Ssempa. Denounced by Pastor Rick Warren, who led the invocation at President Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, Canyon Ridge’s Pastor Kevin Odor refuses to cut ties with Ssempa citing the need to reduce HIV in Africa. Perhaps someone needs to inform Pastor Odor that HIV is rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa due to poverty, polygamy, lack of education and gender inequality, not just homosexual behavior. The law goes so far as to threaten imprisonment to anyone knowing active homosexuals and not reporting their “illegal” activities. He has yet to change his stance on this issue, which ascertains the conservative, fundamentalist agenda of this church.

As abhorrent as this is, I find the entire concept of brainwashing youth into a culture where God controls all the action creates superficiality and trivializes this contrived sense of morality. If God controls everything, isn’t it presumptuous to interfere with the divine plan? I know many people take comfort in a supernatural deity, and I have no problem with that. What troubles me is the thinking God is so concerned with one’s athletic success while this same God is ignoring plight, allowing babies to be born into abject poverty with AIDS. This creates a selfish culture which rewards obedience to an organization that enriches itself with absolutely no financial disclosure or accountability, while ignoring the real issues we as human beings should truly be concerning ourselves with. Merely praying for someone, or even charging money to have prayers answered is no substitute for food and medical assistance. It is a fraud, and deep down, most people know this.

Religion has a stranglehold over our culture. It’s ironic we never hear about God’s role in a post-game interview where the team loses. “We’d like to thank the almighty for this ass-kicking. Apparently it was exactly what we deserved.” Largely this is a phenomenon of American athletes.

Giving God credit and thanks for opportunity in life, or the motivation to strive, is all but universal among the faithful. But something more seems to be going on here. Athletes are not just thanking God for opportunity and fervor — they are crediting God for a competitive victory. This, in turn, seems to be suggesting something very specific about the inclinations of the Almighty. Has anyone paused to consider that for every winner, there is a loser (in fact, often a whole batch of losers) — and that if God is choosing winners, then God must be choosing losers, too? Are the athletes who attribute their victory to God willing to “blame” God for the often-bitter disappointments of the vanquished?
Is it reasonable to hold God accountable for defeat and failure? Is it reasonable if the losers are good people — just as good as the winner? Is it still reasonable if they are not only just as good, but also practitioners of the same faith, and just as pious? And what if they are just as good, just as pious, just as fervid, practicing the same religion, and worked just as hard? On what basis is God making such decisions? I suppose we might, as people tend to do when matters of faith are questioned, just throw up our hands and ascribe this all to the unknowable particulars of God’s grand plan. But if winning and losing are equally prescribed in the grand plan, then are they really winning and losing? Isn’t everyone doing an equally good job of doing the job God decided to give them? If the losers are every bit as good at doing what God wants them to do as the winners, then who are we to presume to declare them losers — and give medals to the other guys?

Canyon Ridge Church provides spiritual enrichment for many of the faithful and of course is viewed as a positive influence in their lives. It’s the young, impressionable children who are forced to believe this propaganda (which includes a God who always needs more money) who could be most easily manipulated. I watched a few online videos by Pastor Odor and found most of them were quite reminiscent of 700 Club solicitations . He’s mainly concerned with reinforcing the belief in a higher being, as “God” is the answer to all things. That’s paramount to his organization’s success.

It seems this Las Vegas megachurch engages in the same level of deception many televangelists have been found guilty of in years past. Simply click on the giving link and you’ll see how generosity is equated with holiness, which is deplorable in my opinion. I believe it is a form of abuse to influence children in this indoctrinating manner. By furthering an organization steeped in preaching intolerance and denouncing equal human rights, we are doing no service to the morality and emotional well-being of our youth, nor are we truly helping humanity. Jesus preached a message of love that didn’t include a tax-free operation laden with corruption. Helping the poorest and neediest, including homosexuals, is more in line with his teachings.

Sports Heroes Attribute Success to God; Churches Use These Profits to Fund Hate

When Gabby Douglas won the Olympic Gymnastics All-Around gold, she proclaimed, “…I give all the glory to God, it’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.” She will be reiterating this sentiment in front of thousands of fans at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas December 1st and 2nd, 2012. This is a paid speaking engagement, the church communique explains: The church enjoys bringing these inspirational guests in for our community and congregation and sets aside funds each year for special services like these. The congregation provides untold sums of money, not a penny of which any tax is paid back to the city that provides the roads, power, water, fire and police services. Instead of the largely charitable contribution to society the church should provide, the unregulated and tax-free donations are often spent on promotional events, such as financing celebrities for the purpose of recruiting more worshippers. Tim Tebow spoke there earlier this year and naturally he attracted capacity crowds.

20121121-100159.jpg
Canyon Ridge’s motto: God First
The Tim Tebow appearance at Canyon Ridge

When I learned of Gabby Douglas’ appearance, I didn’t think too much about it, as I presumed it was merely meant to inspire young athletes and patrons alike. After seeing so many elaborate color-printed cards displayed at various Las Vegas locations advertising her visit, I thought I’d look into this church a little further. Gabby is an outstanding Olympic athlete who, unfortunately, is not a dynamic public speaker. Like the Tebow visit, Gabby’s appearance is mainly orchestrated to attract potential new congregants.

First here are some basic facts about Canyon Ridge. It is most definitely a “mega-church”, which is by definition any church with a weekly attendance of over 2,000 people. With an average weekly attendance of 6,000, Canyon Ridge can hold up to 3,000 at one time. There are two other mega branches of the church in the Las Vegas Metropolitan area: Central Christian Church, a church where over 5,000 members can attend at once. The third branch, The Crossing is a smaller version, but still qualifies as a mega-church. According to Christian Standard, The Crossing was planted by Canyon Ridge Christian Church on September 24, 2000, and is the youngest megachurch with an average worship attendance of 2,224 last year. Canyon Ridge, located in the northwest valley of Las Vegas, was birthed by Central Christian Church in 1993 and averaged almost 6,000 in attendance last year. Central Christian, also in Las Vegas, averaged close to 18,000 in worship last year. Those are some great church planting genes! I recognize many churches do charitable deeds, like many in the NY/NJ area are currently doing for victims of Hurricane Sandy. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what most megachurches do other than to try to increase their bottom line.

Like so many religions, Canyon Ridge is interested in promoting their faith by expansion all over the globe. They have partnered with the leader of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality movement (AKA “Kill the Gays”), Martin Ssempa. Denounced by Pastor Rick Warren, who led the invocation at President Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, Canyon Ridge’s Pastor Kevin Odor refuses to cut ties with Ssempa citing the need to reduce HIV in Africa. Perhaps someone needs to inform Pastor Odor that HIV is rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa due to poverty, polygamy, lack of education and gender inequality, not just homosexual behavior. The law goes so far as to threaten imprisonment to anyone knowing active homosexuals and not reporting their “illegal” activities. He has yet to change his stance on this issue, which ascertains the conservative, fundamentalist agenda of this church.

As abhorrent as this is, I find the entire concept of brainwashing youth into a culture where God controls all the action creates superficiality and trivializes this contrived sense of morality. If God controls everything, isn’t it presumptuous to interfere with the divine plan? I know many people take comfort in a supernatural deity, and I have no problem with that. What troubles me is the thinking God is so concerned with one’s athletic success while this same God is ignoring plight, allowing babies to be born into abject poverty with AIDS. This creates a selfish culture which rewards obedience to an organization that enriches itself with absolutely no financial disclosure or accountability, while ignoring the real issues we as human beings should truly be concerning ourselves with. Merely praying for someone, or even charging money to have prayers answered is no substitute for food and medical assistance. It is a fraud, and deep down, most people know this.

Religion has a stranglehold over our culture. It’s ironic we never hear about God’s role in a post-game interview where the team loses. “We’d like to thank the almighty for this ass-kicking. Apparently it was exactly what we deserved.” Largely this is a phenomenon of American athletes.

Giving God credit and thanks for opportunity in life, or the motivation to strive, is all but universal among the faithful. But something more seems to be going on here. Athletes are not just thanking God for opportunity and fervor — they are crediting God for a competitive victory. This, in turn, seems to be suggesting something very specific about the inclinations of the Almighty. Has anyone paused to consider that for every winner, there is a loser (in fact, often a whole batch of losers) — and that if God is choosing winners, then God must be choosing losers, too? Are the athletes who attribute their victory to God willing to “blame” God for the often-bitter disappointments of the vanquished?
Is it reasonable to hold God accountable for defeat and failure? Is it reasonable if the losers are good people — just as good as the winner? Is it still reasonable if they are not only just as good, but also practitioners of the same faith, and just as pious? And what if they are just as good, just as pious, just as fervid, practicing the same religion, and worked just as hard? On what basis is God making such decisions? I suppose we might, as people tend to do when matters of faith are questioned, just throw up our hands and ascribe this all to the unknowable particulars of God’s grand plan. But if winning and losing are equally prescribed in the grand plan, then are they really winning and losing? Isn’t everyone doing an equally good job of doing the job God decided to give them? If the losers are every bit as good at doing what God wants them to do as the winners, then who are we to presume to declare them losers — and give medals to the other guys?

Canyon Ridge Church provides spiritual enrichment for many of the faithful and of course is viewed as a positive influence in their lives. It’s the young, impressionable children who are forced to believe this propaganda (which includes a God who always needs more money) who could be most easily manipulated. I watched a few online videos by Pastor Odor and found most of them were quite reminiscent of 700 Club solicitations . He’s mainly concerned with reinforcing the belief in a higher being, as “God” is the answer to all things. That’s paramount to his organization’s success.

It seems this Las Vegas megachurch engages in the same level of deception many televangelists have been found guilty of in years past. Simply click on the giving link and you’ll see how generosity is equated with holiness, which is deplorable in my opinion. I believe it is a form of abuse to influence children in this indoctrinating manner. By furthering an organization steeped in preaching intolerance and denouncing equal human rights, we are doing no service to the morality and emotional well-being of our youth, nor are we truly helping humanity. Jesus preached a message of love that didn’t include a tax-free operation laden with corruption. Helping the poorest and neediest, including homosexuals, is more in line with his teachings.

What the Heck Can We Do About Congress?

The following is a letter sent to Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) written by a Henderson, Nevada business owner. Her letter was well stated and addressed the important issues the House has ignored since the midterm elections. She naturally received a form letter in return, not specifically addressing any of these problems. Here is her letter.

To Representative Heck:

Is there any chance you can help with these topics?
– Filibuster limitations/restrictions or, Congress has to physically stand there and filibuster, not just threaten it countless times.
– Campaign finance reform/disclosure – A foreign company can literally infiltrate/buy our election and we wouldn’t know it.
– Agree to let the Bush tax cuts expire and then introduce a middle class tax cut that everyone would certainly vote for.
– A uniform national voting standard: Everyone should run their elections like Nevada. Our polling stations were efficient and hassle-free and the early voting couldn’t have been easier. Why would we not link up our DMV with voter registration, that way, if you move you still are registered and it’s automatically in the system, instead of having to remind people to re-register. The current system is archaic! Voting rights should be the same, no matter what state you live in.
– Please also tell me that you are not for defending “traditional” marriage. We need to be about equal rights and be accepting of who people are, instead of pushing a religious belief onto others. We are a nation founded on secular principles and no one’s freedoms should be limited by a state-sanctioned, religiously motivated laws.
– A very radical but a more ethical system would be for insurance companies in every area including health, to be non-profit industries. They should not have the incentive of profit to make decisions that would negatively affect someone’s life. Also, if a religious workplace doesn’t want to allow birth control to be covered due to their beliefs, then as an employer, can I state I don’t believe in immunizations, therefore everyone who works for me cannot get immunizations covered? Both matters are important to people of different religions, so can we cherry pick which services are covered by insurance? When we put it in these terms, it kind of sounds preposterous, doesn’t it?

Ways to drastically reduce the deficit without cutting “entitlements”

-Lastly, as a “job creator,” I NEVER make hiring decisions based on taxes, the decision is ALWAYS based on demand. Increased demand only comes from a strong middle class. PERIOD. TRICKLE DOWN DOES NOT WORK… NEVER HAS NEVER WILL.

This next point was added by Cassandra after the letter was sent, so I thought I’d include it.
-Instead of talking about the deficit we should be talking about the fairness deficit and we should be pass a financial speculation tax- 3 trillion over 10 years, repeal capital gains tax break, limit deductions for high earners- people say it can’t all be done on the revenue side?? As Joe Biden would say, MALARKY! The attached graphic from “Up” with Chris Hayes illustrates ways to accomplish deficit reduction without punishing the poorest citizens among us.

These issues are very important to me as a small business owner, mother of four and a community organizer.

Thank you for working with others to accomplish legislation that will help regular people, not just the very rich and the big corporations.

Signed,

Cassandra Rice

Henderson, Nevada

Here is the response sent from his office:

November 16, 2012

Dear Ms. Rice,

Thank you for contacting me with your comments regarding the partisan attitude in Washington. I strongly share your concerns and appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this important issue.

I understand the American people are frustrated with the direction of our country and angry about Washington’s out-of-touch responses to the challenges families and businesses are facing. I ran for the House of Representatives so that I could work to change business-as-usual in Washington. Representatives are elected to be accountable to the people and must understand the impacts that their decisions will have upon our country. I’d like to share a few examples of my bipartisan work in Congress.

You may be interested to know that I have introduced a number of bills that have received bipartisan support to help create jobs and restore certainty to our economy. In an effort to reduce the cost of energy and promote the use of clean and renewable energy, I introduced H.R. 470, the Hoover Power Allocation Act of 2011, which passed both houses of Congress with strong bipartisan support and has been signed into law (P.L. 112-72). H.R. 470 authorizes the continued allocation of clean, renewable electricity to southern Nevada from the Hoover Dam until 2067. This legislation is essential to the millions of consumers who invested in this renewable source of energy over the past 75 years because it will continue providing them with Hoover power and allow new customers to benefit from this low-cost, clean energy. I am a strong supporter of clean renewable energy, and have supported a number of measures from members on both sides of the aisle to promote renewable energy in Nevada.

In order to help create jobs in Nevada, I have introduced H.R. 3039, the Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act. My bill has received strong support from members of both parties and will allow for a more efficient tourist and business traveler visa process and address the systemic backlog of applications, all without reducing security protocols. As you know, Nevada’s economy greatly depends on the continuance and expansion of tourism and international travel, and improving the efficiency of America’s visa application process will stimulate job growth in Nevada and generate billions in revenue for our state.

We also need to address the housing sector of the economy and help homeowners. In Nevada, almost 400,000 homeowners are currently underwater on their mortgages. Because of this, I believe that homeowners should have both options and resources available to keep them in their homes and avoid foreclosure. That is why I was the only member of my party who voted against H.R. 830, the FHA Refinance Program Termination Act. This bill would eliminate a program that allows for those who are current on their mortgages, but underwater, the ability to refinance. I was also one of only two Republicans who voted against H.R. 839, the HAMP Termination Act, which would have eliminated a program used by many Nevadans affected by the downturn in the housing market. Taking away programs that help homeowners who are trying to do the right thing is not the answer.

I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to give Nevadans the country they deserve. It is my honor to represent Nevadans in the House of Representatives and I will continue to do so with honor and integrity. My responsibility is, and always has been, to the constituents of the 3rd District of Nevada.

For additional information, please visit my website, http://www.heck.house.gov. From this site you can access statements about current events or pending legislation, and receive detailed information about the many services that I am privileged to provide for Nevadans.

Again, I appreciate your thoughts and it is an honor to serve you in Congress. Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,DR. JOE HECK
Member of Congress

He presented nothing new or nothing of any practical application, which is unfortunately consistent with the platform of his party’s Presidential candidate (Willard Romney). There is nothing mentioned about eliminating the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, repairing our health care system or equal rights. These matters don’t seem to concern the Republican party. Maybe if everyone sent their Representative something like this, we would make progress. Feel free to use any part of this post if you wish! Follow Cassandra @CassLibinVegas on Twitter.

VegasJessie

President Obama Held to Impossible Standards Republicans Never Achieved

Do you remember October 23, 1983? This was the day 241 U.S. Marines (and 58 French soldiers) were killed in a suicide bombing on their barracks near the airport in Beirut. President Reagan was even warned. A former defense secretary for Ronald Reagan says he implored the president to put Marines serving in Beirut in a safer position before terrorists attacked them in 1983, killing 241 servicemen. The Secretary of Defense (Caspar Weinberger) warned the president and yet no one lay blame upon his administration. The military took the fall.

Fast forward 29 years to another violent Middle Eastern city, Benghazi. Four Americans tragically lost their lives in an unfortunate terror strike on the US consulate in the war-weary Libyan city. After admittedly cutting embassy and consulate security funding GOP House Members defend their actions as necessary even though Secretary of State Clinton advised against such irresponsible measures.  They seem to want to assign blame to the President when it is obvious they are partially responsible for the tragedy.  Somehow, our CIA and military, headed by General David Petraeus (who was appointed by Bush), were not complicit. The GOP went straight for President Obama, who unlike  Reagan after Beirut, was somehow responsible for the debacle.  The Right wants to believe President Obama has surely committed an impeachable offense simply being in office while four Americans lost their lives in a consulate attack.  The absurdity of the blame game was best expressed by Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) who spoke of the budget cuts at a recent hearing:

…”the audacity to come here when the administration requested, for worldwide security, $440 million more than you guys wanted to provide. And the answer is that you damn didn’t provide it! You REDUCED what the administration asked for to protect these people. Ask not who the guilty party is, it’s you! It is us. It is this committee, and the things that we insist that we need have to cost money.”
He added, “Could you tell me which of my colleagues on this committee was as bodacious in their insistence that we provide more money for American security in the State Department budget. I would appreciate it.”

Senators McCain and Graham

President Obama should not be held accountable for the irresponsible acts of the Republican Congressmen, yet they continue to demonize him and his cabinet.  Susan Rice, the UN Ambassador, has acted appropriately based on the information provided to her by CIA briefings.  However, Senators McCain and Graham have been on an insane witch hunt of Ambassador Rice, trying desperately to discredit President Obama through her.  Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) also won’t let the matter rest, eagerly looking for Rice to assume responsibility.  While attending hearings where Petraeus spoke Friday, asked, “How did this group penetrate the facility that we had in Benghazi, and who were these folks?” After the hearings concluded, he told reporters, “We’re getting closer to determining that. We know they were Al Qaeda affiliates or Al Qaeda itself.”  So where’s the controversy?  An underfunded consulate in a hostile Al Qaeda populated country was the unfortunate target of terrorists.  How is this so much worse than an administration ignoring all the CIA briefings pointing to the original 9/11 attacks?  Perhaps there’s more to this story than meets the eye.  I am entertaining a few ideas.

1.  This is a smokescreen to cover up the real story about Benghazi: Perhaps it was the GOP’s 2012 October Surprise gone terribly wrong?  That’s why Willard held that “impromptu press conference” back on September 15th.  Romney said, “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi.  It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” The response was not from the Obama administration – it was from the Cairo embassy.  Obviously, he was simply lying as he’s so adroitly accustomed to doing.  Perhaps Rove, Romney and heaven knows who else were in collusion trying to create a situation designed to make the President look weak on foreign affairs, an area which he has definitely excelled.  Romney’s strange behavior the days following the attack and in the second debate certainly puts a question or two in my mind there may be something to a theory pointing to the GOP’s culpability.

2. This whole Petraeus/Broadwell/Kelley/Allen SNAFU is merely a canard.  The real issue in trying to quickly dispose of Petraeus was not his inappropriate sexual conduct, but his general incompetence.  The Republicans have a tendency to deify people that aren’t exactly deserving of high praise.  The surge he so assuredly convinced President Obama to undertake in Afghanistan was based on flawed information on the Iraq surge’s success.  It happened to coincide with a sectarian Iraqi Civil War and thus given credit to decreased violence in the nation.  Comparing this strategy to the surge in Afghanistan was perhaps the only way to keep the war profiteers in business and continue the perpetual war mentality.  The evidence of the success of the surge points much to the contrary by those really in the know.  It’s largely possible President Obama has learned this and was going to fire Petraeus anyway for being deceptive.  This would further solidify the incompetence of everything surrounding the Bush Administration and the GOP can’t afford any further embarrassment.

During the Bush Administration, there were 12 embassy attacks and 53 American casualties. Not once were George W. Bush and his crime family ever held accountable for any of these tragedies.  We know now the Bush Administration, including then NSA director Condoleezza Rice, ignored warnings given by the prior to 9/11/2001 and then fabricated evidence of WMD to involve us in Iraq.  President Obama has been a paragon of virtue when compared to his predecessor.  The GOP has been trying to manufacture scandals when it comes to him and all his officials, especially those who are African-American.  First it was Van Jones, then Shirley Sherrod, then Valerie Jarrett and the ever-present attacks launched upon Attorney General Eric Holder prior to this charade of investigations on Ambassador Rice.  Obviously, there is a tremendous problem with anyone in a position of power that looks similar to slaves rather than slave-owners.  Perhaps that sounds a bit extreme, but is it really?  If one considers Paul Ryan’s given excuse for losing this election: the GOP failed to mobilize the urban vote (also known as “Black” and Latino),  you can see coded racist language so commonly found in the Republican Party.

If ever there was a time for outrage, it was when we allowed corrupt, GOP appointed generals to be in command of our foreign policy, not when we are trying to act responsibly to keep the world from despising the United States.  It’s high time the Department of Defense stop controlling our foreign policy and allow those interested in maintaining peace, not war to take charge.  I certainly am hopeful those days of foreign policy ineptitude are behind us with President Obama at the helm.

Thanks To American Ingenuity, I Now Suffer From Gasophobia

For years, I drove a Mercedes-Benz. I owned different models ranging from four to eight cylinders so I was accustomed to fuel being a significant monthly expense. About two months ago, my mother and I went to lunch to with a like-minded friend and I got my first glimpse of an EV charging station, as he was charging his Nissan Leaf at the Mandalay Bay Mall. Parked next to him was a Chevy Volt, charging as well. Living in the “City of Sin” and excess, I’d never seen a Volt in person before, as these cars are pretty rare (for now). Never before did I seriously consider getting a hybrid-type vehicle. They seemed like toy cars by comparison to mine. In my opinion, a fully electric vehicle would be ideal, but they require lengthy stops to recharge if taking a long trip. A Volt had the best of both worlds: plug-in capabilities for general daily commutes and a gas engine if needed for 300 plus mile trips. It was then I made up my mind to give this car a chance.

20121112-073003.jpg
My Chevy Volt

My brother-in-law, Travis was the first person I called. He works at Fairway Chevrolet in Las Vegas, so I asked him what he thought of the Volt, half expecting him to say, ‘eh, it’s so so.’ What he told me was, ‘I love this car!’ This is a guy who, like so many Americans (myself included), have been seduced by the power of big gasoline engines. He said to come on down and drive one.

The torque from the electric drivetrain was far more than I expected. This car really moves. I even test drove it far enough for it to switch from electric to gas, and noticed no change in the handling. I was sold. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to land exactly the model I wanted thanks to Travis’ exhaustive search on my behalf. Zero percent financing helped seal the deal. So I’ve been driving mine for over five weeks and I’ve used 2 quarts of gas! With a great safety rating along with the sensors that keep me driving perfectly, my fears of “downgrading” from German engineering were allayed. I’m certainly ashamed of my reluctance to go green for so long. I suppose getting 2,500 miles to the gallon will do that to you. Thanks to the Auto Bailout in 2009, I can drive a car with great technology, made right in my own country.

My power bill increased by around $30 which is a mere pittance to the $300 per month I was spending on toxic fuel. This amount would virtually disappear if I had solar power. After all, Las Vegas has an insane amount of sun (and wind) and the fact we are not more like Germany who powers 20% of their country by harnessing solar energy is shameful. Imagine if we were more progressive and utilized our vast sunshine, perhaps stored energy could save hurricane-ravaged areas which would suffer inevitable power losses no more. Maybe if Reagan hadn’t removed the solar panels put on the White House by President Carter we’d use more renewables rather than importing hostile nations’ petroleum, which truly is environmental poison. Now that Hurricane Sandy has impacted so many Americans, perhaps President Obama can focus on climate change issues once again.

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Mileage exceeds the 250+ limit of the display

I knew I had experienced full-fledged Gasophobia this morning when I recalled my disturbing dream: I had to actually fill up my car at a gas station. Somehow I managed to duplicate the scene in Dumb and Dumber where I drove a significant distance in the wrong direction. To make matters worse, no one would let me plug in my car. I actually woke up slightly agitated over this “nightmare” that I would never have had in the past. It really is pretty funny, but pretty awesome at the same time. Hopefully this trend will catch on and we can save our coastlines from devastation due to man-made global climate change. I’m now a faithful convert to green technology.

The Fiscal Cliff Exposes GOP Insanity

Doomsday is here! Remember when Ted Nugent called President Obama “a criminal” and denounced his “vile, evil America-hating administration” which is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.” “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” “If you can’t galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney, we’re done.” Well, Ted, I for one am eagerly waiting your next move. As expected, it’s not just Ted who’s gone off the deep end. Now many disenchanted Americans, relatives included, see a one day drop in the Dow as validation the wrong guy won the White House.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The stock market drop on Wednesday was the byproduct of two events. 1. The election behind us, the Fiscal Cliff looms as fear of GOP non-cooperation will force another downgrading of the United State’s credit rating and 2. The European markets fell 2% when the European Central Bank President (Mario Draghi) expressed concerns for continuing weakness in the European economy for the foreseeable future. Regardless of who won the US election, this was inevitable. I’d like to ask those people, relatives included, who blame the one day plummet on the election outcome, to please explain the previous day’s 1% gain when most polls showed Obama was going to win reelection? I hear the crickets already.

Rove in panic mode on Election Night

Without going into all the complex details of financial markets, let me get to the heart of the matter. The GOP is in a temporary state of disarray. They know they have to move to the moderate center but continue to pander to their evangelical, racist base and of course grovel to all the billionaires who shelled out millions to get their puppet, Romney, elected. The GOP mastermind Karl Rove realized he was taking a shellacking on election night and was in rare form on Fox News. Megyn Kelly, when listening to Rove’s desperate plea to reconfigure Ohio numbers, even said, “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?” Perhaps it was, by far, the funniest thing said on election night mainly because it came from a Murdoch broadcaster challenging the de facto strategic leader of the Conservative movement. He mentioned the money the big GOP donors dumped but naturally failed to mention his take off the top on all monies invested; he got his cut. His assumption America was snowed by Obama and would never come back out to support him in sufficient numbers was an unforgivable mistake and he knew it.

Conservatives got distracted by perceived ‘momentum,’ SuperPACS, and ignored real polling data and forgot the function of a political campaign: convincing voters you have their best interests at heart. You can’t ask some Latinos to self-deport and expect them to vote for you. Underestimating the resolve of Latinos, given their growing percentage of the population, was political suicide.

The DNA of these right wingers may be their Waterloo, as Jim DeMint so aptly phrased it. If you believe you lost the election because you weren’t “tough enough on abortion” or too moderate, as some truly believe, you are certainly facing peril as a party. The real sane voice in the GOP would tell you exactly what a coach of a championship team would say: you have to lose a few games to win the championship. The losses should tell these guys something, America is not terribly excited by a misogynist, bigoted agenda that threatens to reward the rich at the expense of the poor. Job creators and tax cuts create jobs is pure garbage propaganda that America has rejected. It is time to regroup and take a few hits before their credibility is restored.

The fiscal cliff will have to be avoided by Republicans abandoning their insane Tea Party base and coming to the table and acting like responsible legislators. Period. The Democrats have compromised as far as possible, numerous times, during President Obama’s first term and the time to tax the super rich at a fair level is at hand. A reasonable Republican may be a distant memory from Barry Goldwater’s era. He said, I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass, referencing the rise of the religious right hijacking the Republican Party, which it still does today. If they continue this doomsday strategy, it will be their “Rapture.” America is ready for Harry Reid’s suggestion of a compromise which will prevent our credit rating from taking an avoidable beating.

In a speech in Iowa yesterday, rising “star” and newly minted Creationist Marco Rubio, one of the GOP’s 2016 hopefuls, pretended to understand the challenges ahead. He said to a crowd in Iowa, “Now comes the hard part. America faces monumental challenges in putting people back to work, reducing our crushing debt and advancing our interests around the world.” Does anyone see a problem with this? He’s spouting the exact same party line: debt is our biggest concern and we need to embroil ourselves in more foreign entanglements. Naturally, he was alluding to Democratic policies as the cause of our woes even though he and his party know damned well they caused this crisis. They will be cut from the line-up and left off the playing field soon if they don’t openly change their losing strategy. If the past is any indicator, they will continue to be obstinate hardliners who will ultimately suffer the fate they so richly deserve: extinction.