Religious Beliefs

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part II: Exploring That “Special Relationship” – Atlantic Bridge and Patroness, Lady Thatcher

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part II: Exploring That “Special Relationship” – Atlantic Bridge and Patroness, Lady Thatcher

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By Susan Kraykowski

In part I, we barely scratched the surface of ALEC’s involvement overseas – most especially in the United Kingdom. It is time to delve a bit deeper into what is called the Atlantic Bridge and its works and ways. Full disclosure: the project officially known as Atlantic Bridge is now defunct, due to scandal in the UK and subsequent legal action. That doesn’t mean that ALEC isn’t still active on both sides of the Atlantic, as we will see.

Thatcher and ReaganMuch was made in the press about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s friendship with former President Ronald Reagan. At the time – and even to America’s liberal Democrats – that seemed innocuous. “So what?”, we thought, “They share political goals as well as some kind of personal chemistry. It isn’t the first time in history that leaders of governments have formed personal ties. What harm can friendly leaders of allied governments do in the long run?”

Not that one advocates unfriendly allies – far from it! – but in this case, the answer turns out, thirty-odd years on, to be: plenty!

First of all, is the aspect of enshrining Reagan’s and Thatcher’s papers, policies and memorabilia in learning centers, which sponsor exchange programs between the interns of both countries for the purposes of study and indoctrination. Americans tend to honor past presidents with “Presidential Libraries” – at least since Hoover’s time. That custom isn’t followed in the UK but Margaret Thatcher will have her very own memorial library, very soon. Interestingly, most of the funding for it has already been raised in the United States.

Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor for The Telegraph discusses this in his article of April 14, 2013. Note the names of the members of the fundraising organizations and the party youth organizations in England and the United States. These same names crop up again and again in different contexts: heading different organizations, as speakers for various gatherings, and in other fundraising and legislative capacities. Their relationships are complicated and interconnected. It will take a few articles to sort through them.

For instance, one Donal Blaney, who heads something called the Young Britons Foundation – and calls it “a Tory madrasa…for radicalizing young Tories” (Britons, apparently, having much less political sensitivity to such terminology than Americans) – is delightedly behind the fundraising for the Thatcher Library, and is also in cahoots with such BlaneyAmerican fundraising experts as Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich on the project [pic of Donal Blaney and Karl Rove]. Just to tie up this example with a neat bow, the Prime Minister, David Cameron is on board with the Library project, according to Patrick Hennessy, who links him to foreign fundraisers in this way: “…John Howard, the former Australian prime minister, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives in the US, Fred Ryan, President Reagan’s chief of staff and Karl Rove, who performed the same role for President George W Bush.”

It gets worse. Donal Blaney is CEO of Conservative Way Forward, which is the entity actually in charge of the fundraising for the Thatcher Library. Note the address at the bottom of the page, at Griffin Law in Kent, England. If one follows that link, through a couple of Dropbox ™ sites, one eventually arrives here:

Griffin pic

This is Griffin Law’s US Office – which also happens to share the same address as William J. McCarthy & Associates. Who does McCarthy & Associates advertise as their clients? Here is a partial list: American Council for Immigration Reform, Americans for Free Speech, Americans for Sovereignty (Council for America), Center for Law and Accountability, Center for the Defense of Freedom, Children’s Mercy Fund, Christian Action Network, Citizens United, Coming Home Foundation, Conservative Victory Fund, Draft Sarah Now!, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Human Events/Eagle Publishing, International Anglican Federation, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Right to Work Foundation, Republican National Committee, State Department Watch, Senate Conservatives Fund, Tea Party Veterans, The American Sentinel (Penguin Group), The Dave Bossie Investigative Report (Breitbart Columnist), The Minuteman Project, This Nation, The Tea Party, The Tea Party Campaign with Dr. Jerome Corsi, Young Americans for Freedom (Young America’s Foundation).

Here is a picture of Donal Blaney and Margaret Thatcher taken at a Young America’s Foundation event

blaney and thatcher

Are we beginning to be afraid…very afraid? Good! More in the next installment.

Texas Public School Course Teaches the ‘Racial Origins Traced from Noah’

A new report put out by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund reveals that in several public school classes on the impact of the Bible on history have found classes teaching from a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian standpoint.

A Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Mark Chancey found instances of students learning a literal interpretation of the Bible, that the earth is approximately 6,000 years old and that Judaism is a “flawed and incomplete religion” with materials “designed to evangelize rather than provide an objective study of the Bible’s influence.”

TFN also found a lesson explaining “racial origins traced from Noah.”
RacialOriginsNoah More →

Michigan’s House of Horrors – A Guide to Bad Bills and Lousy Laws

Under the leadership of Republican Speaker Jase Bolger members of the Michigan House have been busy as bees destroying democratic rule, dismantling the public sector, treating women as reproductive chattel, busting unions, polluting the air and water, fostering racial tension, gutting public education, selling public assets, trampling individual rights, and wrecking havoc with the state’s fragile economy and infrastructure.

Following is a list of some of the most reprehensible, repugnant and downright laughable bills and resolutions. Luckily, the majority remain stalled in committee, but several real doosies snuck through to become law, and just like with any virulent plague, it only takes a few…but hey Michigan, it’s just a touch of Ebola, right? Walk it off!

THE ROLL CALL OF RIDICULOUSNESS IN THE 96th MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE:

Let’s start with Jase Bolger (R-63) himself. The Speaker introduced four rather innocuous resolutions and no bills or amendments because he preferred to do all his dirty work behind closed doors, with his crowning achievement being manipulating the 76th District race by helping recruit a sham candidate to run against Republican-come-lately (really lately) Roy Schmidt. A complaint was filed and the court found enough evidence of wrong-doing to appoint a one-person grand jury. Great work setting the tone for the House Jase!

While we’re talking scandal, let’s look at the legislative rap sheet of Bolger’s partner in crime, Rep. Roy Schmidt (D, er…R-76).  As a special gift for his fellow recall-facing conspirator, Schmidt introduced a bill that would repeal the constitutional right of the people to recall elected officials for “political reasons”. When the effort to recall Bolger fizzled , the bill strangely stalled in committee.

Moving on to the man responsible for the worst piece of legislation to come out of this House, let’s visit the record of Rep. Al Pscholka (R-79). His crowning achievement being the abrogation of the right to home rule for 50% of all communities of color in Michigan. It’s called the Emergency Manager Law — a legislative atrocity that’s not only racist, but is flat-out unconstitutional and in violation of both the Civil Rights and the Voters Rights Acts. Puppy-kicker Pscholka also introduced the law that restricted grad students from unionizing.

(Oh, we’re just getting started….)

Rep. Bill Rogers (R-42) and Rep. Nancy Jenkins (R-57) both introduced bills to aid and abet Emergency Managers. Just as the Detroit Public School’s Emergency Manager was putting 70 schools on the market, Rogers introduced a bill that would make those public assets a sweet deal for private land speculators, offering them a five-year exemption from property taxes –just what the battered tax-base of that community needed —freeloading speculators. Jenkins, not to be outdone, wanted to exempt government bodies from the Open Meetings Act so they could discuss the potential sale of public assets behind closed doors. Both bills remain in committee.

(In no special order, the list goes on…)

Rep. Bob Genetski (R-80) sponsored several committee-lodged gems. The first was to ban people from photographing their completed voter ballots. Hah! Tell that to Michael Moore! Another jewel in Genetski’s legislative tiara is a bill to ban hospital workers from being required to get flu shots. This lawmaker seems to know plenty about bugs ‘cuz he also introduced a bill to establish a state bug.

And there’s Rep. Bruce Rendon (R-103) who’s doing his level best to incite a pussy riot right here in Michigan. Vagina expert Rendon sponsored an over-arching abortion rights bill that takes care of all his omnibus concerns about those lady parts hidden behind panties. Thanks Bruce! But not to worry moms and unwilling would-be-moms, the good representative cares about Michigan’s kids too — he also introduced a bill to have fire arm classes taught in Michigan’s elementary schools. His pussy bill passed the House and his kids with guns bill is still shooting it out in committee.

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-86) is a serious fiscal hawk — she’s taken the Norquist pledge to a whole new level — the unborn. Yup, Lisa promoted a bill to authorize tax deductions for fetuses. (I’m totally carrying octuplets this coming tax season if this bill makes law). Lyons, however, did get one of her legislative initiatives into compiled law. She sponsored the bill that eliminated the requirement for retail item pricing — which has worked out so well for consumers…because the thing they crave most is lack of information.  

Rep. Greg McMaster (R-105) introduced a bill against sustainable development — are we to assume he prefers the unsustainable kind?

Rep. Joel Johnson (R-97) is a man of varied and complex interests — trucks and vaginas. He introduced a bill to waive the limit on the number of hours truckers can be on Michigan roads, and he is the bright guy who gave us the vaginal probe bill. Thanks Joel for caring about the ladies. Your’e a modern day renaissance man. Too bad your bills got stuck in committee — maybe you should probe into that….

Rep. Ken Goike (R-33) prefers his constituents to pee in to a cup — he wanted to prevent individuals from receiving unemployment benefits if they refuse to take a drug test for a job application. Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-30) felt that welfare recipients should similarly share their bodily fluids.  The first bill remains in committee and the latter passed the House but is not yet law. (Does anyone see a pattern here? Are Republicans pottyheads?)

Rep. Tom McMillan (R-45) has introduced plenty of Tea Party boiler plate items: a resolution for a right to life amendment, a bill to exempt family members from computer hacking laws, and one to ban government agencies from competing with private enterprise, and of course, a bill to ban Obamacare. He’s not all bad though — the man has a sense of humor — he introduced a bill requiring drug testing for CEOs of companies receiving corporate welfare. Tee hee hee.

It’s not all fun and games in the House, they are a spiritual lot, our lawmakers. When they’re not thinking about pee-pee and vaginas, they’re all about God and country! Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-99) introduced the law that requires our kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and Rep. Edward McBroom (R-108) tried but failed to get “In God We Trust” on our license plates. (Now how will the guy tailgating you know who you trust?) 

I’ll end with Rep. Kenneth Kurtz (R-58). He offered a bill to make English Michigan’s official language ….

…. Lamentable, esto no paso.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree blog

The Radical Right Roadmap – Paul Weyrich and his disciple, Eric Heubeck

To many of our readers, what you are about to read will put into words events and actions that you have watched unfold, but may not have connected all the dots to see the larger picture of what has happened—how it was planned and executed.

In a now out-of-print article from the (liberal leaning) American Prospect, picked up by the Yurica Report, uber-conservative Paul Weyrich stunned the religious right by calling for a retreat from temporal concerns. “Conservatives have learned to succeed in politics,” he wrote in an open letter which is no longer available on the Web site www.freecongress.org. “But that did not result in the adoption of our agenda. The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture.” The right no longer had a “moral majority,” he wrote. The solution? “To look at ways to separate ourselves from the institutions that have been captured by the ideology of Political Correctness, or by other enemies of our traditional culture.” In essence, he said, the religious right should espouse cultural and political separatism–by setting up its own schools, television networks, and even courts of law.

The rest of the country breathed a sigh of relief. No more silly Disney boycotts by southern Baptists. No more flaky school-board members pushing creationism. No more Paul Weyrich!

The whew, alas, was premature. It turns out that what Weyrich and his folks really had in mind was less separatism than guerrilla warfare–a “New Traditionalist” movement that, according to its manifesto, written by Weyrich protégé Eric Heubeck and bearing the grandiose title “The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement,” would seek “to advance a true traditionalist counter-culture based on virtue, excellence, and self-discipline.” The New Traditionalists–who sound a lot like the old traditionalists–will “reject the materialism, hedonism, consumerism, egoism, and the cult of self-actualization which permeate modern life.” Heubeck elaborates:

“We will not try to reform existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. . . . We will maintain a constant barrage of criticism against the Left. We will attack the very legitimacy of the Left. We will not give them a moment’s rest. We will endeavor to prove that the Left does not deserve to hold sway over the heart and mind of a single American.

And we thought you’d forsaken us.

A Time Magazine article added to this that;

“The Bush administration is apparently quite cozy with Weyrich.  Each Wednesday Rove dispatches a top administration official to attend the regular conservative-coalition lunches held at Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation. When activists call his office with a problem, Rove doesn’t pass them off to an aide. He often responds himself. When Weyrich heard a few weeks ago that Bush’s budget slashed funding for a favorite project called the Police Corps, which gives scholarships and training to police cadets, he complained to the White House. To Weyrich’s surprise, Rove called back. “We’ve taken care of it,” Rove said. “The problem is solved.” Weyrich, who says his memos to the Reagan and Bush Sr. White Houses were rarely read, was impressed. “That,” he gushes, “is what it means to have friends in the White House.” More →

Objects in the Mirror May be Closer Than They Look – VIDEO

New Back Alley Emerges as U.S. Abortion Restrictions Rise

Thanh Tan, reporter for the Texas Tribune, talks with Rachel Maddow about how increasing abortion restrictions in the U.S. are contributing to a “new back alley”, manifested in part in a new trend in American women seeking dangerous abortion alternatives from Mexican
pharmacies.

To watch the video on the VLTPVideoChannel please click here or read the transcript at the MSNBC link below.

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the-rachel-maddow-show/48759449#48759449

Why do many Republicans distrust scientists?

As Todd Akin stirs up a storm over his ‘legitimate rape’ remark we ask why many Republicans’ have issues with science.

…it does seem that many in the party have a problem accepting scientific orthodoxy. All the main contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, excluding Jon Huntsman, rejected the notion that climate change is a result of human activity.

And Charles Darwin is not a popular figure among some sections of the party, with many rejecting evolution and arguing that intelligent design or creationism should be taught in schools.

There has also been wide-scale opposition to stem cell research among Republican legislators with prominent American scientists having to move abroad to continue their research.

“[The Christian conservatives] would rather believe something absurd than face the consequences of their political positions… Akin wants a woman to carry the product of rape to full term and not to have access to abortion…he doesn’t want to believe that he believes in such a hideous thing.”- Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief for the Huffington Post

…another former Republican presidential candidate, said: “The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put America’s economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just nonsense… The fact is, to put America’s economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on our country, is not good economics, and I would suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.

“What percentage of Americans actually understand climate science well enough to make informed decisions about how credible it is or not…in this sort of situation I don’t think people are making decisions based on science [but] based on something else.” – Barry Bickmore, a geochemist

So, why do many Republicans distrust scientists?

GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEY REPORT

A researcher at the University of North Carolina who analysed responses between 1974 and 2010 of the annual survey that is carried out in the US found the following:

  • the trust in science remained stable among those who self-identified as moderates and liberals
  • there were changes for those who self-identified themselves as conservatives and frequent church-goers
  • the period of study began with the highest trust in science and ended with the lowest between 1974-2010, when belief in science among conservatives dropped by more than 25 per cent

the changes could not be attributed to falling levels of education – distrust of science rose particularly among the better-educated. 

(Ron’s note:  this surprised the heck out of me But then the article continued, stating that the reason for this suspension of belief in science is due to religioius beliefs held by those on the right.)

Ronald Numbers, a history of science professor noted that Todd Akin’s comments about female reproductive health and “legitimate rape” shows that “Since Richard Nixon’s southern strategy a lot of the Republicans are conservative Christians, and Todd Akin is a member of an ultra-conservative Presbyterian church, not part of the mainstream Presbyterian church…so that’s (Akin’s remarks] not really surprising.”

“[The Christian conservatives] would rather believe something absurd than face the consequences of their political positions….

To read more of this article, please click here