NV Senate District 8 Democratic Candidate Marilyn Dondero Loop

Push Polling: Another Way To Wage Negative Campaigns

We are all bombarded with calls during an election year from myriad representatives of candidates. For the most part, there is some disclosure of whom the caller is representing.  A push poller is someone who interactively markets by calling voters during political campaigning. Push Polling isn’t illegal, except in New Hampshire, which requires a disclosure of which candidate they represent. Mainly it is used to plant negative ideas in voters’ heads. Bush 43 used it to discredit McCain in the 2000 primaries. True, Democrats use this as well, once causing NH Senator Ayotte to file a suit against Mountain West in 2010, where they paid a $20,000 fine for non-disclosure.

The individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of voters under the guise of conducting a poll as a non-partisan polling company.  ‘Push polls’ require first fooling the listener into believing the poll is legitimate and once the listener is hooked, the pollster asks loaded questions designed to spread rumors and falsehoods about the opponent.’ I was actually on the receiving end of one of their polling calls from the Mountain West Research Polling group, and it was definitely a new experience.

NV Senate District 8 Democratic Candidate Marilyn Dondero Loop
NV Senate District 8 Democratic Candidate Marilyn Dondero Loop

Innocuously it began with rate your level of support questions for Patricia Farley (R) (always named first) or Marilyn Dondero Loop (D). The pollster, who did identify himself as a Mountain West Research Independent, (after I had to ask several times), soldiered on as I allowed this twenty-three minute call to continue. I was not interested in the District 8 state senate race until the caller phrased a few questions like:

You know that Obamacare is bankrupting Nevada. How important is repealing the ACA to you? (10 for most, 1 for least).

The “Margin Tax” (a tax designed to fund education by business netting over $1,000,000 annually) will force companies to pay job-killing taxes that will cause lay offs. Do you oppose this tax that will fund education on the backs of Nevada’s job-creators?

I said, ‘you sure are asking questions in a manner I find both misleading and offensive.  I don’t recall the specific wording, but this next one knocked me over. ‘Do you fear your Second Amendment Rights are threatened?’ (10-very important down to 1-not at all important), and I replied, ‘whoa, this is nuts. Guns have no rights. People do. Please don’t insult my intelligence.’ The call was finally over after a few standard pleasantries.

The only statistic I needed to know about this newly intriguing race was each candidate’s NRA rating. Marilyn Dondero Loop has a 21 rating by the NRA while GOP candidate Farley is rated at 86. That’s all I needed to make my decision to support, wholeheartedly, my Democratic Candidate, DonderoLoopNV. I predict many more persistent NV-GOP push pollers ringing my house incessantly until November.

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Religion: Still Imposing Gender Inequality

The fastest growing religions in the world: Islam and Mormonism, have opinions of women that are contrary to progressive thought in the modern world.   It is a fact, nations with the least religious populations enjoy the highest levels of equality and happiness.  There is no question, religious men still cling to the idea of female inferiority and recent events solidify this claim.

In Benghazi, Libya, Salwa Bughagis was fatally shot just hours after casting a vote.  Bughagis was a women’s rights activist, murdered by an Islamist militant group who are largely fundamentalist misogynists.  This is a week after four women from the city of Mosel, Iraq committed suicide because they were dishonored because they were raped.   Rape, by no fault of their own, casts a stigma on the victim that haunts her privately while labeling her “unclean” in the eyes of Muslim society.  Victim shaming is the worst form of mistreatment towards women.

Kate Kelly Excommunicated For Trying To Overcome Gender Inequality In LDS Church
Kate Kelly Excommunicated For Trying To Overcome Gender Inequality In LDS Church

Kate Kelly, co-founder of a group called Ordain Women was excommunicated from the Mormon Church after starting a movement to allow women to hold the priesthood in the church.  I asked Ex-Mormon and second cousin to Mitt Romney, Park Romney, what he thought of the bizarre scenario where a women who wants to be a bigger part of the faith is excommunicated for doing so.  He said,

In a word, the whole affair strikes me as absurd.  Here we have a woman, who by insisting that the Mormon leadership is in error for excluding women from the priesthood takes the implied position that the Mormon priesthood is not, in fact, the exclusive authority to represent God on earth in such matters and questions… and therefore an invalid and fraudulent claim of Divine agency.  Now, having taken such a position, she believes the world would be a better place if woman were more direct participants in this fraud.

Naturally, Park Romney, once a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, through research and careful examination of evidence, believes the entire faith to be fraudulent.  His opinion derives from his immense cache of information that has come from voracious reading and studying.  Park cannot understand why Ms. Kelly would want a part of a religion that holds her in such low regard.   Women are not allowed to hold priesthood, much like the Catholic Church, and will be one of a man’s many celestial wives in the eternal afterlife.

Women who try to address matters of gender inequality are often the most persecuted in religious circles.  Men will continue to exert their dominance aided by outdated social mores that go hand and hand with religion.

 

 

 

 

The Pattern Of The Roberts Court: Is More Evil On The Horizon?

Hobby Lobby May Just Win The Right To Wage More Of The War On Women
Hobby Lobby May Just Win A New Battle In The War On Women

There seems to be a pattern with the current Supreme Court.  It is widely known it is 5-4 Conservative, but the third branch of government was designed to be non-partisan and rule objectively on cases where the Constitution is in question.   To balance out the obviously partisan big decisions, the lesser of two evils in minor cases is decided in favor of a liberal cause or idea.  For instance, Yesterday,

the court limited some of the EPA’s regulating power when it comes to stationary sources of greenhouse gasses, but preserved its regulation authority in most cases.

This week, the last of June, is traditionally when the Supreme Court hands down some of its biggest, most controversial rulings.  No progressive will forget the January, 2010 decision in favor of big money controlling elections with the Citizens United Verdict.  Showing its “diversity,” in June, 2012, the Roberts Court shocked the Right by deciding the ACA was constitutional based on the Commerce Clause.  In June, 2013, the Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, enraging the Religious Right once again.  But this was followed by invalidating the parts of the Voting Rights Act which mandated federal supervision of elections in states who were once part of the Confederacy.   In April, 2014, SCOTUS once again dealt a blow to democracy by allowing virtually unlimited campaign donations to candidates or causes with the McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission decision.

By deciding in favor of the EPA’s power to control unfettered pollution, SCOTUS sided with “liberal ideals” of keeping our air semi-breathable.   But on the horizon are two potentially disastrous decisions for President Obama.

Neither appear too propitious.  The first, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores & Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius will decide if under the ACA,

private businesses have the right to exercise their freedom of religion either under the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and if so, whether the contraceptive mandate violates that religious freedom.

The next case   National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning  pertains to Presidential Appointments: This pending verdict may be…

…a decision against President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If history is any indicator, it seems these next two decisions will be ruled in favor of conservatives. By padding their right wing leanings with some scant victories for liberals, they try to mask the pro-fascist attitudes of the majority of the highest court in the land.

This Is Not What Democracy Looks Like

Religion Prevents Democracy Everywhere

Between the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s spectacularly offensive gathering this week to the interminable violence in Iraq between Shi’as and Sunnis, it’s very clear, true democracy cannot exist where religion is paramount. It’s simply antithetical. There can’t be a dedication to a manufactured deity, while attempting to grant civil rights to all. Fundamentalist Christians and Islamists, while different in their methodology, share more similarities than they would care to admit.

The Cradle of Civilization, also known as the area around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, is found in present day Iraq.

People around the world had been developing the groundwork for civilization for millennia: Agriculture was established around 8000 B.C. The domestication of animals for labor and food develop­ed simultaneously

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According to the Christian Bible, the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old. We have half of our government less willing to face the hard truth about Science and more into promoting ridiculous reassuring fables.

As the Faith and Freedom Coalition reminds us of their tenets: pro-some-life (actually, just fetuses), vehemently anti-gay and judgmental as hell to those who don’t openly proclaim their thanks to this “Almighty God,” they never mention this “god” has caused all sorts of horror both here and abroad. Does anyone notice it is a “god-given right” to own a gun, but god could care less if poor people can get healthcare? The Right Wing’s psychotic obsession with the belief in a book of mythology over what the Founding Fathers, in a most secular manner, believed as was written in the Constitution is mind-boggling.

Now Iraq, one might say, is far more overtly savage and violent. This war amongst the factions of Islam is centuries old. But Iraq and Iran, Muslim as most of the inhabitants are, used to have some semblance of a functioning democracy. When the Theocratic States of America decided to overthrow a fairly secular government (by comparison to the Ayatollah and Al-Maliki), we made it more impossible for true democracy. Just like Barry Goldwater predicted in the 1964 race:

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

The nauseating image of Ted Cruz and his Seven Mountains Dominionist preaching father, Rafael at the recent “Christian” gathering should be just as scary as this image.

20140622-080346-29026007.jpg.

Even though Ralph Reed and Gary Bauer have not directly pointed guns at people’s heads, they’ve exported their own Christian-version of terrorism: wherever fundamentalists have exported their religion, anti-gay laws suddenly appear in those very same nations.   “Missionaries” of the Christian faith help establish Draconian punishment for being gay and this is a form of terrorism, much like Sunni vs. Shiite terror. Women are treated like chattel and cattle and should remain out of the public forum.  The Republicans truly feel women should earn 78% for doing the exact same work as a man.  With fundamentalists like the ISIL group, women should seldom be seen in public to maintain decency.  Fundamentalist Christians feel women have fewer rights and never the freedom to control their own bodies.

The “Faith and Freedom Coalition” is actually a misnomer. It is an oxymoron. Imposing a version of superstitious worship on a population eliminates any possibility of true democratic freedom.

If Your God Is Better Than Their God, Is Peace Even Possible?

sunni v shiaI’d say at least 99.9% of the people I encounter daily have absolutely zero concept of the difference between Sunnis and Shi’ites; and that’s being generous. Iraq once was a nation that was fairly secular and not terribly fundamentalist in any way. The United States brilliantly marches in carrying freedom fries and liberty bells and voilà! The two warring sects of Islam are now at each other’s throats. When fundamentalists feel their religion is being mocked or modified in any way, like the Benghazi mastermind admitted after recently being captured by US Special Ops, they react with extreme fervor. Let’s go back to 2003 when 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain offered this brilliant prediction of future  sectarian violence in Iraq:

“There is not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shi’as so I think they can probably get along”.

Never have a group of people gotten things so wrong on EVERY issue and yet their opinion is sought for “news” programs.  It’s astonishing.  They invaded a country with no consideration for consequences, cost, loss of human life or a basic understanding of the complex history of the region.  Let me try to elucidate the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs–Mohammed’s successors–rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims. They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders. These heirs ruled continuously in the Arab world until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the end of the First World War.

…Shiites, in contrast, believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. In 931 the Twelfth Imam disappeared. This was a seminal event in the history of Shiite Muslims. …Shiite Muslims, who are concentrated in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, [believe they] had suffered the loss of divinely guided political leadership” at the time of the Imam’s disappearance. Not “until the ascendancy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1978” did they believe that they had once again begun to live under the authority of a legitimate religious figure. Another difference between Sunnis and Shiites has to do with the Mahdi, “the rightly-guided one” whose role is to bring a just global caliphate into being.  The major difference is that for Shi`is he has already been here, and will return from hiding; for Sunnis he has yet to emerge into history: a comeback v. a coming out, if you will.”

Shia-Sunni-map-percentages

They simply disagree with each other like the  Scientologists disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses, like Mormons disagree with Catholics etc. etc. etc. The difference is the American presence in the region made the two sects more extreme in their fundamentalist differences and created the violence that plagues the region.   Religions, none proven by science, are beliefs.   As the great Christopher Hitchens asserted:

We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.

Perhaps, some day man will understand much of the world’s injustices, abuses and atrocities are carried out because one group believes their god is better than the other group’s deity.  Most importantly, one must understand religious differences do exist and potential volatility is inevitable if these differences are not understood.

Arbitrary Borders And Climate Change Created The ISIS Crisis in Iraq

The latest crisis in Iraq is, surprisingly, not just the result of the failure of the Bush Administration’s Shock and Awe campaign followed by the bloody occupation from 2003-2011.  After we literally decimated a nation that was once perilously, but somewhat effectively maintained by a brutal dictator named Saddam Hussein, we tried to keep the arbitrary borders drawn by the Sykes Picot Agreement in 1916.   In 2006, then Senator Joseph Biden (D-De) suggested a model based on the three state solution of Kurds, Arab Shi’ites and Arab Sunnis with a central command in Baghdad. In retrospect, this may have alleviated the current crisis where the new terrorists on the scene, ISIS, (the Salafist–Jihadist Al Qaeda terrorist army, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham [aka Syria]) is creating chaos and mass slaughter in the name of Sunni Fundamentalism.  Exploitation of the region’s oil originally brought us to this area which the West (France and the U.K. mainly) created the awful conundrum of drawing arbitrary borders that failed to address the geographical rifts  in the sects of Islam. 

Borders Drawn By Sykes Picot in 1916 Were Far From Perfect
Borders Drawn By Sykes Picot in 1916 Were Far From Perfect

 

Thomas FriedmanNew York Times Columnist, has extensively researched the 2006-2010 drought exacerbated by global warming which has ripened the region of Syria and Iraq for brutal war. Mass migration from bone-dry areas combined with sectarian conflicts only worsen the centuries-old rift between the two sects of Islam.  With the help of powerful neighbors like Iran and Saudi Arabia, this has become an epic sectarian war with no quick and easy solution.

Prior to our arrival, Al Qaeda was not really an issue in Iraq.  Our occupation did invite the group’s presence as they escalated the violence against our troops.  For the most part, we were able to defeat Al Qaeda in that nation, but upon our departure in 2011 (signed by President Bush in the Status of Forces agreement in 2008), Iraq fell back into the same sectarian violence Saddam Hussein managed to curtail in a cruel but effective way.  With poor leadership, the ISIS Group which includes war-torn Syria, has managed to operate with a brutality far worse than Al Qaeda.

The Brutal ISIS Group
The Brutal ISIS Group

This entire catastrophe may have been averted if:
1. We didn’t kowtow to the profit-seeking defense contractor industry
2. We understood the cultural and religious differences of the region
3. America acted appropriately based on evidence that was not falsified to involve us in this interminable crisis.  

President Obama is in a no-win situation in this volatile region.  We must never forget what put us there in the first place and vow, as a country, to keep irresponsible liars out of the White House. We can’t accomplish this if Americans don’t get out the vote en masse in the November 2014 midterms.

Defense Contractors Since Vietnam Have Always Demanded A New War

The Hawkish McCain and Graham (L to R)
The Hawkish McCain and Graham (L to R)

The two Senators most outraged and openly aghast at every foreign policy decision made by President Obama are Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ).  With Eric Cantor’s stunning loss on June 10th, many suspected Graham would face the same demise, but he actually fared very well.  Perhaps because he’s a very good friend to the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) and would never be seen meeting with the likes of VP Biden as Cantor has done.   These are two of the biggest hawks in the Senate because they have a sordid history of accepting donations from defense contractors. Defense Contractors don’t play by the same rules, thanks to an executive order signed by President Eisenhower in 1958.  They receive tax payer subsidies without facing any criminal liability.

This  personal and LUCRATIVE friendship became de rigueur with President Lyndon Johnson’s massive financial ties with Brown and Root (now KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary).  Speculation this close alliance between LBJ and Brown and Root may have been the cause of JFK’s assassination, but anyone who spoke of this was silenced in one way or another.  This ushered in the era Eisenhower himself warned against:  where the government is wholly owned by the MIC.  Senators and Representatives alike maintain their Congressional tenure indefinitely if they play ball with the most lucrative industry in America.

It’s unclear how many defense contractors have secret indemnification agreements with the military. Under the law, most government agencies are banned from entering open-ended indemnification agreements, but the Pentagon and a handful of other agencies were exempted in an executive order signed by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

Rarely these mega-corporations have their feet held to the fire over criminal negligence causing injury and death. The continuous beat of the war-drum by these bought and paid for Senators is not a mystery, with a closer look at President Obama’s harshest foreign policy critic, Senator McCain:

(in 2013) Republican John McCain received more defense lobby cash than any other senator who cast a vote Wednesday on Syria: $176,300.

It’s no secret how profitable the short Iraqi conflict followed by a painfully long occupation was for Cheney’s Halliburton.  The fact President Obama averted another war with Syria vexed the Graham-McCain duo.  But never fear, a fresh new conflict is here!

The nation we invaded on false pretenses, Iraq,  is in shambles.  Who do they blame?  Who else? President Obama is always at fault for the messes of the Bush Administration.  Thanks to free publicity on  Sunday Morning GOP TV, these hawks have the chance to drum up more support for yet another war.   Meet The Press interviewed Paul Wolfowitz on Sunday, June 15th.  The Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld/Rice/Cheney group got everything wrong on Iraq the first time.  Thankfully, President Obama has the sense to ignore their opinions on the mess he inherited.  He’ll carefully weigh our options while battling Senators who beat the war drum to satisfy their masters’ thirst for blood money.  Seems like it’s going to be an ugly fight.