Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bill O’Reilly Blasts Mother Jones On Tonight’s “The O’Reilly Factor”, Mother Jones Spanks Back – Update

Bill O’Reilly Blasts Mother Jones On Tonight’s “The O’Reilly Factor”, Mother Jones Spanks Back – Update


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UPDATED with David Corn’s responses: “In a way, it’s impossible to win a debate with O’Reilly because he is not bound by reality,” David Corn, author of the Mother Jones article about Bill O’Reilly, responded tonight after watching The O’Reilly Factor. During his “Talking Points” segmentthe Fox News Channel star savaged the article, the author and websites that have been covering the kerfuffle.
O’Reilly addressed the article at the top of his show tonight, telling viewers he is the victim of a “smear” campaign by a “low circulation” publication that is “considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America.”
He’s referring to the Mother Jones article published yesterday, “Bill O’Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem,” that drew comparisons between O’Reilly’s description of his work covering wars for CBS News and Williams, who was suspended by NBC News for six months as that division continues to investigate the degree to which Williams misrepresented his experiences covering various breaking news stories for NBC including the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and other situations, including gifts he said, in talk show appearances, he received from members of the military. In the article, Mother Jones questions O’Reilly’s descriptions of some of his experiences as a CBS News correspondent covering the 1982 Falklands War between Great Britain and Argentina
O’Reilly has charged Mother Jones with “trying to take the Brian Williams situation and wrap it around my neck, for ideological reasons,” calling it “purely a political play to divert attention from the Williams situation.”
On his No. 1-rated cable news program tonight, O’Reilly said he spent most of last night digging through his basement and found documents from CBS News from his time in Buenos Aires covering the Falklands War, which he will show to viewers.
“I never said I was on the Falkland Islands, as Corn purports. I said I covered the Falklands War – which I did,” O’Reilly said.
In earlier interviews O’Reilly has said the use of the phrase “war zone” to describe his vantage point during the war, which is among the questioned raised in the article, a “shorthand.”
“Everybody knows you’re not there, because nobody (from the American news media) was there,” O’Reilly told the Associated Press today. He called “delusional” Mother Jones‘ suggestion that violence in Buenos Aires on the day of the surrender 33 years ago was not part of the war combat.
On tonight’s telecast of his program, O’Reilly described how, when Argentina surrendered to end the war, “I was covering the conflict from Argentina and Uruguay for CBS News. After learning of the surrender, angry mobs in Buenos Aires stormed the presidential palace – the Casa Rosada – trying to overthrow the government of General Leopoldo Galtieri. I was there on the street, with my camera crews. The violence was horrific, as Argentine soldiers fired into the crowd who were responding with violent acts of their own. My video of the combat led the CBS Evening News With Dan Ratherthat evening.” After that, he says, he filed a report on the subject that ran nationwide.
Corn tonight responded that Mother Jones examined various reports from that time, covering the protest in Buenos Aires after the Argentine junta surrendered to the British and, “no media reports of the event that we found referred to such dramatic violence or any fatalities. Not even the CBS News report on the protest that O’Reilly contributed to mentioned soldiers shooting and killing civilians.”
Instead, Corn said, “News accounts, including the CBS News report, noted that a crowd numbering in the thousands had gathered to hear the president, but people grew angry after learning Galtieri would not speak, with many denouncing him and his junta as traitors for surrendering to the Brits. Media accounts do not describe the scene as a mob storming the palace, but angry protesters who set fires, broke store windows, and jostled reporters.”
Among the documents O’Reilly told viewers tonight he found in his basement: a CBS internal memo from 33 years ago about his work, sent to the CBS bureau chief in Buenos Aires by the news desk in New York City.  It reads:
“Doyle, O’Reilly didn’t have the time last night but would like to say many thanks for the riot piece last night. WCBS-TV and WCAU-TV both took the entire piece, instead of stripping it for pix. They called to say thanks for a fine piece.”
“Thanks again. Your piece made the late feed, a winner last night.”
Corn responded: “No one has suggested O’Reilly did not cover the protest or that the footage he obtained was not valuable for CBS News.”
O’Reilly also read a letter he says he wrote to his CBS News boss Ed Joyce praising his crew’s bravery after they got out of the situation on the streets of Buenos Aires.
On his show tonight, O’Reilly blasted Corn for writing “that I hammered Brian Williams, when everyone knows, I went out of my way on [Jimmy Kimmel Liveand The Factor to be compassionate to the man.”
Corn responded that O’Reilly also “decried the supposed culture of deception within the liberal media, and he proclaimed that the Williams controversy should prompt questioning of other “distortions” by left-leaning outlets.”
This morning, the editors in chief at Mother Jones sent an email/letter to Fox News EVP Programming Bill Shine and one of the network’s communications execs, saying it is concerned for the safety of the author after O’Reilly called for him to be “in the kill zone.”
O’Reilly today responded,  “It’s simply a slang expression.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ronald Reagan: Social Security and the Deficit

Don't feed the Terrorists


Christian Left Blogger Benjamin L. Corey Calls BS On Fundies’ Persecution Complex

Christian Left Blogger Benjamin L. Corey Calls BS On Fundies’ Persecution Complex

By Darrell Lucus on February 17, 2015
As a proud member of the Christian Left, I’ve always wondered–when will more of us stand up and be counted? One member who has not been shy about doing so is missiologist and blogger Benjamin L. Corey, who is best known as the man behind “Formerly Fundie” at Patheos. He is also the author of “Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus,” in which he argues that the Jesus of the Bible is a lot more radical than the one most Americans learn about. With titles like those, it should come as no surprise that Corey isn’t afraid to call out the religious right.
Benjamin L. Corey with two of his fans in Maine in 2014 (from Corey's Facebook)
Benjamin L. Corey with two of his fans in Maine in 2014 (from Corey’s Facebook)
He found another occasion to do so after the Islamic State’s recent mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, many of whom cried out “Oh God” or “Oh Jesus” before the ISIS thugs killed them. Corey couldn’t help but think about the persecution complex that is all too prevalent in American fundamentalism. We’ve all seen it–ominous warnings from the likes of Bryan Fischer, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Franklin Graham that those evil, evil, closet atheist and Satanist libruls are out to persecute good, patriotic, God-fearing Americans. Corey thinks that this kind of talk not only distracts Americans from “real, legitimate persecution” that Christians face around the world, but is “distracting, offensive and insulting” to those who have to face the threats of church burnings, house burnings, arrests and executions just because they’re Christian.
Corey wonders–loudly–what some fundies who think they’ve been persecuted would say to the Copts as they were about to be led to the slaughter.
“We know how you feel beheaded Christians! Our bakery had to bake a cake that was used at a wedding for two women! You and I are one!”
“We know how you feel beheaded Christians! We lost our tax incentive to build a multi-million dollar replica of Noah’s ark because of discriminatory hiring practices. Don’t you feel sorry for us?”
“We know how you feel beheaded Christians! I lost my job because I handed out anti-gay literature at work.”
These are examples of something Corey sees all to often–believing that “a loss of privilege or ability to persecute others” is a sign that Christians in this country are about to be hauled off to jail just because of what they believe. In truth, they’re so fixated on this false persecution that they “miss the outrage of injustice” when real persecution occurs. He thinks it’s long past time to “stop playing the persecution card” and instead focus on the very real persecution that’s out there today.
I’ve seen this mentality first-hand. Many of you know that when I was a freshman at Carolina, I was tricked into joining a highly abusive charismatic campus ministry. At meetings on Monday and church on Sunday, there was a constant drumbeat of how people hated us “because of what we believe.” I finally got out of there after six months, but I briefly pretended that I had become one of them again in my sophomore year. Some of my “brothers” and “sisters” in that bunch, knowing how loudly I’d spoken out against them, likened me to the apostle Paul, since I’d gone from persecuting them to joining their side. Years later, I’m still stunned by the lack of proportion. They compared me, who merely shouted from the proverbial rooftop about how they had deceived and hurt me and others, to someone who actually had Christians killed?
I’m also reminded of a longtime friend of mine from my high school days, who is herself a Copt from Egypt. She took the beheadings very personally, since it very well could have been her. Corey has it absolutely right–anyone who compares that kind of fear to what many Americans consider persecution is missing the mark by a city mile.

35 Founding Father Quotes Conservative Christians Will Hate

35 Founding Father Quotes Conservative Christians Will Hate

AUTHOR JULY 4, 2013 8:00 AM
Painting of Founding Fathers.
In honor of our presidents and our nation’s founding, here are 35 quotes from the Founding Fathers that prove they did NOT found a ‘Christian’ nation. Painting of the Founding Fathers by Junius Brutus Steams, 1856.
The separation of church and state is one of the cornerstones of America’s foundation. Conservative Christian fundamentalists have sought to crush this cornerstone in the hopes of establishing Christianity as the state religion, an action that would threaten the rest of the foundation that makes up the Constitution. These conservatives contend that the Founding Fathers dreamed of making America a Christian state at the expense of those who practice other religions or none at all.
So here are 35 quotes from the Founding Fathers. Perhaps your first thoughts are the first four Presidents and maybe Benjamin Franklin, but there were many other Founding Fathers. Many were signers of the US Constitution and The Declaration of Independence. They were lawyers, judges, soldiers, merchants, farmers, and some were even clergy. And the great majority of them signed the Constitution knowing that matters of government and matters of religion would be separate.

1. “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
~Founding Father George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

2. “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
~Founding Father George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792
3. “We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”
~Founding Father George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793
4. “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788

5. “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by Founding Father John Adams

6. “Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”
~Founding Father John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)
7. “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
~Founding FatherJohn Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785
8. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802
9. “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814

10. “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”
~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

11. “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799
12. “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813
13. “Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual.
State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”
~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson: in a speech to the Virginia Baptists, 1808
14. “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814,

15. “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
~Founding Father James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

16. “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
~Founding Father James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822
17. “Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”
~Founding Father James Madison, letter, 1822
18. “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”
~Founding Father James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical
19. “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”
~Founding Father James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817

20. “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
~Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

21. “Manufacturers, who listening to the powerful invitations of a better price for their fabrics, or their labor, of greater cheapness of provisions and raw materials, of an exemption from the chief part of the taxes burdens and restraints, which they endure in the old world, of greater personal independence and consequence, under the operation of a more equal government, and of what is far more precious than mere religious toleration–a perfect equality of religious privileges; would probably flock from Europe to the United States to pursue their own trades or professions, if they were once made sensible of the advantages they would enjoy, and were inspired with an assurance of encouragement and employment, will, with difficulty, be induced to transplant themselves, with a view to becoming cultivators of the land.”
~Founding Father Alexander Hamilton: Report on the Subject of Manufacturers December 5,
22. “In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.”
~Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)
23. “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
~Founding Father George Mason, Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776
24. “It is contrary to the principles of reason and justice that any should be compelled to contribute to the maintenance of a church with which their consciences will not permit them to join, and from which they can derive no benefit; for remedy whereof, and that equal liberty as well religious as civil, may be universally extended to all the good people of this commonwealth.”
~Founding Father George Mason, Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
25. “A man of abilities and character, of any sect whatever, may be admitted to any office or public trust under the United States. I am a friend to a variety of sects, because they keep one another in order. How many different sects are we composed of throughout the United States? How many different sects will be in congress? We cannot enumerate the sects that may be in congress. And there are so many now in the United States that they will prevent the establishment of any one sect in prejudice to the rest, and will forever oppose all attempts to infringe religious liberty. If such an attempt be made, will not the alarm be sounded throughout America? If congress be as wicked as we are foretold they will, they would not run the risk of exciting the resentment of all, or most of the religious sects in America.”
~Founding Father Edmund Randolph, address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June
10, 1788
26. “I never liked the Hierarchy of the Church — an equality in the teacher of Religion, and a dependence on the people, are republican sentiments — but if the Clergy combine, they will have their influence on Government”
~Founding Father Rufus King, Rufus King: American Federalist, pp. 56-57
27. A general toleration of Religion appears to me the best means of peopling our country… The free exercise of religion hath stocked the Northern part of the continent with inhabitants; and altho’ Europe hath in great measure adopted a more moderate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is extremely inconvenient in many places there. A Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Virginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater degree).”
~Patrick Henry, observing that immigrants flock to places where there is no established religion, Religious Tolerance, 1766

28. “No religious doctrine shall be established by law.”
~Founding Father Elbridge Gerry, Annals of Congress 1:729-731

29. “Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect, and lay all others under legal disabilities. But as we know not what may take place hereafter, and any such test would be exceedingly injurious to the rights of free citizens, I cannot think it altogether superfluous to have added a clause, which secures us from the possibility of such oppression.”
~Founding Father Oliver Wolcott, Connecticut Ratifying Convention, 9 January 1788
30. “Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for information, have objected against that clause in the constitution which provides, that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. They have been afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to you the important right of religious
liberty. We are almost the only people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he be a good and peaceable person he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or in other words, he is not subject to persecution. But in other parts of the world, it has been, and still is, far different. Systems of religious error have been adopted, in times of ignorance. It has been the interest of tyrannical kings, popes, and prelates, to maintain these errors. When the clouds of ignorance began to vanish, and the people grew more enlightened, there was no other way to keep them in error, but to prohibit their altering their religious opinions by severe persecuting laws. In this way persecution became general throughout Europe.”
~Founding Father Oliver Ellsworth, Philip B Kurland and Ralph Lerner (eds.), The Founder’s Constitution, University of Chicago Press, 1987, Vol. 4, p.
31. “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
~Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791
32. “God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
~Founding Father Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773
33. “Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.”
~Founding Father Roger Sherman, Congress, August 19, 1789
34. “The American states have gone far in assisting the progress of truth; but they have stopped short of perfection. They ought to have given every honest citizen an equal right to enjoy his religion and an equal title to all civil emoluments, without obliging him to tell his religion. Every interference of the civil power in regulating opinion, is an impious attempt to take the business of the Deity out of his own hands; and every preference given to any religious denomination, is so far slavery and bigotry.”
~Founding Father Noah Webster, calling for no religious tests to serve in public office, Sketches of American Policy, 1785

35. “The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.”
~Founding Father Charles Pinckney, Constitutional Convention, 1787

These are hardly the words of men who allegedly believed that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible as conservatives constantly claim. On the contrary, the great majority of the Founders believed strongly in separation of church and state. So keep in mind that this country has survived for over two centuries under the principle of separation and it is only now when conservatives are attempting to destroy that very cornerstone that we find America becoming ever more divided and more politically charged than ever before. If this right-wing faction has their way, America as we know it will cease to exist and the freedoms we have enjoyed because of the Constitution will erode.
The Founding Fathers had a vision of this nation and trusted that the people would protect that vision and improve upon it. Now is not the time to fail them. Because the day the people fail, so does America.

Map: How much each state relies on the federal government for revenue

Map: How much each state relies on the federal government for revenue

 January 9  
Nearly $1 in $3 in state revenue comes from the federal government, according to a new analysis.
While taxes are responsible for most state general revenues, the federal government is responsible for about 31.5 percent of the total, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation.
Mississippi is most reliant on the federal government, with 45.3 percent of general revenue in the most recently available fiscal year coming from the feds. Oil-rich Alaska‚ whose revenue is highly volatile, is least reliant on the federal government.
The Tax Foundation’s analysis is based on a simple calculation of Census state revenue data published last month. The Census data offer a detailed breakdown of revenue sources for each state, so the Tax Foundation simply divided the “intergovernmental revenue” each state received from the federal government by the state’s “general revenue” total.
Of course, looking at revenue reveals only one aspect of the federal-state relationship. As a Pew Charitable Trusts project recently found, when all federal spending on states is combined, it accounts for nearly a fifth of state economic activity. As the Pew map below shows, a third of economic activity in Mississippi is attributable to the federal government, a larger share than in any other state. Wyoming’s economy was least reliant on federal spending, with just 12 percent of activity stemming from federal sources.

Oklahoma Republicans may have outlawed Advanced Placement courses

TUE FEB 17, 2015 AT 09:20 AM PST

Oklahoma Republicans may have outlawed Advanced Placement courses

Sad-looking guy in cap and gown holding diploma.

Congratulations, Oklahoma students! You may be losing the chance to earn college credit in high school.
Oklahoma Republican legislators are debating whether Advanced Placement courses should be taught in their state's public schools. Let's pause to absorb that, shall we? Oklahoma lawmakers do not want their state's students to be able to take classes that will allow them to earn college credit while still in high school, thanks to a far-right conspiracy theory about the College Board's latest AP U.S. History framework. One bill currently being considered would specifically ban the AP U.S. History course, while some legislators think that an anti-Common Core law passed last year may already apply to all AP courses.
According to some conservatives, including likely 2016 presidential also-ran Ben Carson, the AP History framework fails to say enough about George Washington while saying too much about slavery, and other unpatriotic things. In Oklahoma:
[State Rep. Dan] Fisher, who has been active in a church-and-state organization called the Black Robe Regiment, said the AP U.S. history course framework emphasizes “what is bad about America.”
Larry Krieger, a teacher who spoke to the committee via conference call, implied that the AP framework was created by some of the same people responsible for Common Core.
Both said the framework omits the concept of “American exceptionalism.”
First off, we're talking here about a framework, not an entire curriculum. You read the framework in like 20 minutes; an AP History course lasts for an entire school year. Things will be taught that are not in the framework. What's more, it's chock full of American exceptionalism-related concepts:
Section of AP US History framework. Students should be able to
The problem these conservatives have with this framework is not that it omits concepts that have sometimes been presented as American exceptionalism, it's that the framework points to historical answers more complicated than "WE'RE NUMBER ONE! U-S-A U-S-A!!!!!!" And for this, Oklahoma Republican lawmakers are seriously talking about banning state funding for not just the AP U.S. History class but for all Advanced Placement classes, so that Oklahoma students don't have the same opportunity students in other states have to start college having already earned some credit.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Papantonio: The Religious Right’s Home School Fraud


Papantonio: The Religious Right’s Home School Fraud

Pat Robertson opens his mouth again

Pat Robertson Warns Grandma-To-Be About The Dangers Of Facebook Curses

By Susie Madrak

Do you ever get the feeling that people lack even basic critical thinking skills? The fact that Pat Robertson just gets crazier and crazier, yet is still on the air, gives great credence to the idea:
Yesterday on "The 700 Club," Pat Robertson fielded a question from a viewer who wondered if she should be worried about her pregnant daughter posting fetal ultrasound photos on Facebook. Robertson, giving an answer that sounds more like a bad sequel to "Rosemary's Baby," warned that the woman’s daughter may be setting her family up to be cursed by a Facebook-savvy satanic coven.
"I don't think there is any harm in it,” he said. “But I tell you, there are demons and there are evil people in the world, and you post a picture like that and some cultist gets hold of it or a coven and they begin muttering curses against an unborn child. You never know what somebody's going to do."

5 Reasons the Republican Party Might be a Cult


2015-02-16-sRELIGIONsmall.jpgAre Republicans and many conservatives in a cult? The thought arose from a letter to the editor by Mister William Lewis, an 89 year old WWII veteran.
"...The situation in our country right now makes me wonder what my two close friends would think of what has become of this great country -- if they are still alive.
People are prevented from voting through restrictive laws. Money has purchased the soul of the country. Veterans with disabilities beg for money on television. Members of Congress have been bought and paid for and the Supreme Court is under suspicion..."
His friends were from Tennessee and California. I have talked to WWII veterans all over the globe; their most common personal trait is pragmatism. They, more than many, would rail against communism and our government but, when you really talked to them up close over a beer or after a meeting, they wanted things to work. They had little time for grandiose statements or quick judgements. This generation knew they were a nation and had to work together. The WWII GI Bill was a classic example.
The largest social welfare program in US history, The WWII GI Bill actually paid people to go to school. It was massively expensive and opposed by conservatives as stupid and socialist. This investment in our people paid for itself many, many times over through increased tax receipts alone. Do not say the troops 'earned it'; the legislation's main purpose was to avoid a post WWII recession and keep all the returning soldiers busy and employed. It worked.
Congress identified a problem and addressed it. Passing by only a single vote, the bitterly fought bill solved the pending challenge of large numbers of unemployed veterans and changed America's future. Today, this pragmatism is missing. Politicians cling to beliefs proven to hurt both their constituents and the nation. Are you in a cult when any hint of pragmatism or reality is excluded? The Republican Party might be a cult:
1. Fear
In many cults, a doomsday looms if extraordinary precautions are not taken and ritual beliefs not followed. No matter if it is an Iranian nuke or your neighbor next door, Republican believers are told to beware and be afraid. Heavy taxation and preparations are required to cope in this increasingly dangerous world. Spend ever more on the military and stockpile and carry ever more deadly personal weaponry. Be afraid.
2. Conformity
A solid core of beliefs, unfettered by facts, that seems akin to 'the flying saucer people are coming to take us to heaven', supports the cult and serves to isolate members from society, safe from confusion. The last Republican presidential primary saw every leading candidate deny human evolution. This presidential primary looks to be little different since the governor of Wisconsin recently told foreign press that he would take a pass on the reality of evolution.

These core beliefs support seemingly contrary demands and needs. For example, the hysteria over Ebola, where some parties wanted to imprison those heroes treating the sick in Africa. Followed shortly afterwards by providing support for the right to selfishly not vaccinate themselves or their children endangering pregnant women, infants and others.
3. Modified existing religion
In this case, taking mainstream Christian beliefs and twisting and turning them from beliefs in a better life and care for the less fortunate to a judgmental fear filled medieval version seeking to punish sinners in this life and creating a special better status for true believers.
One example is their vicious opposition toward anything that could possibly be called abortion. However, they exhibit the same opposition toward policies proven to reduce abortion as shown in Colorado. Apparently, these polices counter their need to punish the 'sinner' with a baby or a disease.
4. Powerful leadership
As in most cults, Republicans and conservatives worship their leaders. While specific cult leader styles may differ, the avid cult member abhors uncertainty. Their leaders must book no doubts and paint every issue as black or white. Grey is seldom allowed. When coupled with their gospel of fear, we find cult members gushing over foreign despots like Putin or the King of Jordan.
No subtlety but rather just brute force to correct what they view as wrongs. When coupled with their fear of others, we see their most timid and frightened join groups like the NRA, lugging firearms around wherever they go believing that it makes them strong. After decades of failure, war remains their highest sacrament.
5. Avoidance of strangers and unbelievers
Isolation from others and their ideas is necessary to avoid confusion in the flock of believers lest competitors poach members or contaminate the purity of core beliefs. Here is where the faithful must avoid 'lamestream media' and listen to only 'approved' news sources. The isolation serves two purposes. First purpose is to stoke the fires of rage against unbelievers attacking core beliefs by their statements of fact. Second, to disseminate 'studies' by 'experts' to reassure the faithful and cloud reality much as tobacco companies did with their expert studies proving cigarette smoking was harmless.
If the Republican Party is not a cult, it certainly acts like one.