"According to producer Bill Mears, the individual mandate is not a valid ...of...not a valid exercise of the commerce clause."
Here's a great take on that circumstance, complete with CNN's report:
At least it will quite possibly cost the job of someone from CNN, the network that made the mistake of claiming the Supreme Court had overturned the Affordable Care Act.
"According to producer Bill Mears, the individual mandate is not a valid ...of...not a valid exercise of the commerce clause."
Here's a great take on that circumstance, complete with CNN's report:
(posted on youtube by TheSecondCityNetwork)
Like the video points out, at least Mears can still get healthcare coverage even if he's unemployed, thanks to Obamacare.
In response to Miss Piggy's blunt description of the so-called news network, Kermit gave a rather accurate prediction: "That's gonna be all over the Internet."
He was right.
(from Think Progress)
Of course, this could be just revenge on the part of the piggy. Last month on its "Follow the Money" show, commentators of the Fox Business network were quick to toss out accusations regarding the true intentions of their new The Muppet Movie.
Criticizing the movie while the network ran a caption that read "Are liberals trying to brainwash your kids against capitalism?" host Eric Bolling called the new muppet movie "communist," declaring it only wanted to teach kids to "hat(e) corporate America."
Other muppet flicks and similar movies are responsible for Occupy Wall Street and public environmental concerns, too, according to Dan Gainor, who joined Bolling in criticism.
(from Media Matters)
(borrowed from The Literary Phoenix)
The Thanksgiving holiday holds a religious theme for many, but for some it’s in a way that seems quite the opposite of their religion.
Like yesterday’s celebration, for example. Rightwing media told a ridiculous tale of Muslim terrorists attempting to denigrate the country, and by imposing their own terrorist-like religion upon the holiday.
It started with an opinion piece written by Pamela Geller on Monday’s “American Thinker” site.
Citing a “citizen activist” as her source, Geller claimed the Butterball company, a chief provider of the turkey traditional enjoyed for Thanksgiving meals, had produced its birds to be sold in the U.S. in a halal format. (And in case you don’t know, “halal” is a dietary guideline practiced by Muslims.)
Already known to be an anti-Muslim zealot, Geller declared this to be a secretive “scandal” pulled by Butterball.
“Non-Muslims in America and Europe don’t deserve to have halal turkey forced upon them in this way, without their knowledge or consent,” Geller wrote.
Even worse, she implied that Butterball was attempting to sneakily convert its American consumers to the Islamic faith. “Infidel Americans are unwittingly going to be serving halal turkeys to their families this Thursday. … Halal turkey…is just the opposite of what Thanksgiving represents,” Geller claimed, calling for a boycott of Butterball products.
She even created a “Boycott Butterball Turkey” page on facebook. And the story got taken from there all over the rightwing side of the worldwide web.
Islamophobic sites such as Jihad Watch (“You’re eating halal”), Bare Naked Islam (“WARNING!”), and Now the End Begins (“Butterball Turkeys Support Islamic Terrorism”) promoted the rumor. From there it went to conservamedia The Blaze (“Islamic Butterball?”). Two other “Boycott Butterball” pages made it to facebook, as well (1 and 2).
And on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, it wound up on Bryan Fischer’s radio show on the American Family Network. (See video)
Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, Fischer stoked the phobic flame a lot higher. “Every single, solitary Butterball turkey in the United States of America has been sacrificed to Allah,” he repeated several times. The poultry was “ritually slaughtered, as according to Islamic practices, and has had an Islamic prayer prayed over that bird while it’s being slaughtered.”
In other words, these sources were claiming that Butterball was forcing Americans to practice rites of a religion they declare to be an enemy of the U.S., as well as an enemy of the Christian faith. Thus, it was implied, Butterball itself must be some Muslim extremist.
But this story about Butterball turkeys amounts to chicken feed, it turns out. It’s not true.
“Our domestic products are not halal certified,” the company told MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” in a formal written statement.
Anything it sells overseas to countries with halal guidelines is prepared in halal format (which, as you’ll read about just further down, doesn’t require any bizarre rituals), but that’s to allow those particular birds to be sold there and there alone.
“(O)nly turkeys exported to specific countries are certified halal.”
Wrong once again, rightwing media.
They weren’t just assaulting Butterball, either. It was avenue for them to launch attack on the whole Islamic faith, somehow using dietary restrictions as examples of religious terrorism.
Doing so, though, only reveals the ignorance of these rightwing sects. There are other faiths, including Christian churches, that practice dietary restrictions, too, after all.
Take Catholics, for example. During the season of Lent right before Easter Sunday, Catholics are to avoid eating any meat on Fridays. (This restriction was once to be held throughout the 40-day period, by the way, and not just on Fridays alone; as a Catholic myself, I’m glad to have entered the world after that was changed.)
Mormons don’t stay away from meat, but are to have it in limited quantities, though. They also refrain from caffeine and alcohol.
Seventh Day Adventists steer clear of alcohol, avoid caffeine for the most part, and don’t eat pork or shellfish. Many of this faith are strict vegetarians, even.
The halal dietary recommendations practiced by Muslims are very, very similar to the kosher practiced by those of the Jewish faith, too. No pork or birds of prey, the slaughter of animals to be consumed should follow a routine of sorts, and any blood is to be rejected and disposed. Jews also avoid shellfish, and can’t consume any grape products made by non-Jews.
Many Native American and Meso-American tribes were historically vegetarian in their faiths, like the Choctaws, Cherokees, Aztecs and Mayans. Meat was only eaten in circumstances when other foods were not readily available (such as during the winter following a bad harvest season), and only after rituals thanking the animals, and the supreme being who created them, for their sacrifice.
Add in the dietary restrictions of Hindus, Sikhs and many other religions (even Rastafarians), and you’ll see that such practices – even if they vary somewhat from faith to faith – are all quite similar in both purpose and format.
Simply put, these dietary practices are goals that everyone receives proper nutrition, refuses things that could have negative health effects, avoids things that could steer one away from faith, and shows some respect and appreciation for the living things we slay for our own consumption.
And how is the halal requirement of Muslims employed in the case of a turkey? Well, in a method known as “dhabihah,” you’re supposed to use a sharp knife to get the job done quickly and with as little pain upon the animal as possible. Hit both arteries but avoid the spinal cord.
No songs or dance or chants or religious rituals are required, unlike what those rightwingers want you to believe. Out of sympathy for the animal (one of God’s creatures, you know), it’s recommended you just get it over with fast. That’s it.
So what’s wrong with it? In fact, this method seems quite humane, doesn’t it? Sort of Christian, even.
And that’s a key point that these so-called Christian rightwingers should keep in mind before they start their next anti-Muslim campaign with no foundation.
After all, when they engage in these silly attacks on that faith, they are actually attacking their own faith, too.
Islam is a format of faith adapted to and delving from specific culture, much like the Greek Orthodox, Mormon and Lutheran Churches are within the wide range of Christian faiths. (Shoot, even voodoo is Christian, developed within the Caribbean culture of long ago.)
And these rightwingers need to take a quick peek at the Koran used in the Islamic faith before they throw it into the fire at their next burning.
It mentions Christ by name over two dozen times – more times than Mohammed, even. (And no matter what the right-wing zealots say, Mohammed is only listed to be a human prophet in the Koran and not a god himself).
Our one God chose the Virgin Mary to give birth to Jesus, it reads.
The Koran says Christ performed miracles while on earth.
And, according to the Koran, Christ holds the throne in the Kingdom of Heaven, and will return to earth in a second coming on the Day of Reckoning.
Sounds like what you learned in your Christian Sunday School, don’t it?
(The Koran also tells the tales of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon and many others you’ll find in both the Christian Old Testament and Jewish Torah.)
Just like belief in these holy principles is required of all Christians, Muslims are required to believe them and believe in Christ, too.
And like Christianity adapted directly from Judaism, growing mainly in western cultures, and includes the Jewish Torah in its bible (the Old Testament), so too did Islam develop directly from Christianity, this time in Middle Eastern cultures, and with tales of Jesus in the Koran.
But unlike Christianity, which is very separate from the faith from which it originates by declaring the One God in a separate, new and three-fold format, Islam maintains belief in the icon from which it developed. It recognizes Jesus very close to the ways all Christian churches do – the miracle-performing Son of God who will rise again.
All told, it seems quite clear that these so-called Christians who took antagonistic stabs, using an argument without any foundation that they accelerated with unfounded, unproven and completely made-up claims, only wound up rather non-Christian in their rightwing zealotry.
Lying is a sin, after all.
Of relativity: Xenophobic (ha)boobs strike again
It almost seemed like a dream come true.
An industry proposes a pocket-change fee upon the companies in its field, and to fund promotional activities that would help boost sales. Those companies overwhelmingly favor it, because they already know first-hand that such programs work. They ask the government to help them in the project, and the government agrees, too.
But this project of the National Christmas Tree Association just turned into a nightmare, though, and thanks to right-wing think tanks and the media that cater to them.
Like the Heritage Foundation, for instance. Right before the program was to begin, Heritage issued articles on its website claiming the program was a tax – not just on consumers, but on Christmas itself. And said it originated not from NCTA, but at the whim of Pres. Obama (who had nothing to do with this project, by the way).
The claims then got milked around by pseudo-media likeDrudge Report and Fox News, marched on to blogs that used the incident to allege “Barack Obama hates Christians,” and got repeated until some mainstream media were silly enough to take the cue. South Carolina’s own Sen. Jim DeMint joined the tirade, too, calling it “the stupidest tax of all time.”
And due to the negativity now falsely associated with the proposal, the “Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order” originally approved by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is now on hold.
So, what exactly is this program? It’s called a “commodity checkoff.” A business association can, with government approval, charge companies in its industry a small fee, and the total collected is then used for advertisement and promotion of that industry’s products.
Checkoffs are quite common, too. We see them on our television screens regularly, ranging from “Got milk?” to “Pork: the other white meat” to “Beef – it’s what’s for dinner.”
Under this checkoff proposed by NCTA, tree farmers in the U.S. (as well as companies that import trees to the country) would have to pay a fee of 15 cents per tree. That’s right – a mere 15 cents. And that’s a per tree fee, not a tax percentage imposed on sales.
The small funds collected would be used on promotional campaigns and industry research “to strengthen the position of fresh cut Christmas trees in the marketplace and maintain and expand markets for Christmas trees within the United States.”
And it was eagerly anticipated right here in the Palmetto State, too. The tree farmers in this state are in favor of the checkoff, says Halley Booth, owner of Booth’s Christmas Tree Farm in Conway who’s also vice-president of the South Carolina Christmas Tree Association.
The response from local tree farmers mirrors those in the rest of the nation, too, apparently. The National Christmas Tree Foundation says that more than 70 percent of U.S. growers expressed favor in the checkoff program since the concept was first introduced in 2008.
Able to look at it from two sides – as both a tree producer and as an industry association executive – Booth says the small 15-cent per tree fee won’t have any negative effect on farmers. “If you sell 1,000 trees, that only comes to $150.”
Smaller tree farms won’t have to pay a dime, either; those producing “less than 500 Christmas trees annually will be exempt,” according to the USDA’s proposal.
Most of the Christmas tree farms in South Carolina are that small, too. Julie Walters of Charleston’s Toogoodoo Farms, for example, wasn’t even aware of the checkoff program until she was contacted by media for her response to the Heritage Foundation’s claims.
Like most tree farms in the state, Walters says, Toogoodoo doesn’t produce near 500 units annually. “We can’t grow trees in desirable quantities,” especially in the climate of the state’s coastal region, she says, and not in the varieties that are currently the most popular, either. “No spruces.”
Her only concern about the checkoff program is it might not do the industry much good at the moment, in her opinion. The decline in sales Toogoodoo had last year, for example, aren’t the fault of fake tree competition, Walters says; “it’s strictly economy.”
Booth, however, says his sales improved last year, and he expects more growth for 2011.
And the checkoff could have greatly aided Booth’s expectations, too, since previous projects of similarity were quite productive for the industry.
NCTA tried a similar but smaller program in 2004, and without aid from the USDA. It pooled up $1 million in voluntary donations from particular farms, and used the money for a small promotion that helped boost sales 40 percent for the next five years.
Wanting to extend that success (and to make sure that just a few companies weren’t left to pay for the benefits received by so many others), NCTA first proposed seeking this improved “commodity checkoff” program in 2008, and with overwhelming support from its members.
The very low 15-cent per unit cost makes it very attractive to tree growers, too, who remember how far the last low-cost promotional program took their industry.
But now, thanks to right-wing shysters and hooligans like the Heritage Foundation and Drudge, this new low-cost checkoff was brought to a halt. And so is the anticipated improvement in sales for this U.S. industry this holiday season.
Doing this anytime of year is a wrong on their part, but to do so right before Christmas? And directly against an industry that reflects - even represents - the Christmas holiday?
Seems like Heritage and Drudge need to recall an old Christmas adage about the recommended behavior for this season: “be good, for goodness sakes.”
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Yesterday’s attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz – D) rings the same anarchist toll as many other recent circumstances of violent demonstration.
It's bad enough that many of these attacks on human life only stem from protest against health care. What's worse, though, is that they seem promoted by politicians, political groups and politically-influenced media - all of which are related to current mantras of the Republican Party, if not the GOP all by itself.
On January 8, Giffords was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head while at a public forum in Tucson. Six persons including a 9-year-old girl, one of Giffords’ staff and a federal judge were killed. Twelve others were also injured, including two other Giffords’ staff members.
Jared Lee Loughner, a Tuscon resident who was arrested for the incident right at the scene, is believed to have affiliation with American Renaissance, a white supremacist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic organization.
Giffords is Jewish, and also publicly criticized the immigration laws introduced in Arizona’s state government. Her congressional district includes the Mexican border.
Anti-immigration sentiments may also be behind the slaying of John M. Roll, the federal judge shot at the incident. Roll received many violent threats against him and his family in February 2009 after allowing a lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants to move forward in court.
This violence mirrors incidents from early last year. In just the first three months of 2010, 42 security threats to U.S. Congressional representatives were reported, ranging from harassment to vandalism and even death threats. The incidents were exclusively against Democratic Party representatives, and most sprung from conservative groups, including the Tea Party. Most stemmed from the debate on and subsequent passage of health care reform bills at that time, as well.
Giffords was included in this group, as the door to her Tuscon office was damaged after the Affordable Care Act passed with her vote.
“You're dead,” “we know where you live,” and “we'll get you” read the telephone and fax messages received by Rep. Bart Stupak after he voted for the act after conditional compromise.
Both Stupak and South Carolina's Rep. Jim Clyburn received faxes that bore image of a noose.
Both Reps. Betsy Markey and Patty Murray got death threats by telephone.
Rep. Louise Slaughter received recorded message at her campaign office that threatened assassination and murder of “the children of lawmakers who voted yes” for the health care bill.
In Virginia, the gas line at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother was severed, seemingly to create fire or explosion. A Tea Party activist posted the specific residential address, mistaking it to be that of the representative, along with addresses of others who voted for the bill, on a blog advising readers to “drop by” their homes to express discontent.
The same blog site acknowledges it made encouragement to “break the windows of local democrat party headquarters(.)”
The national Tea Party Express, created by Republican Party operatives, also hosted public demonstrations that included display of violent messages pertaining to the healthcare act.
Marchers carried signs depicting images of a Browning firearm that read “Warning: If Brown can’t stop it, a Browning can,” referring to Sen. Scott Brown, who in 2006 voted for the public insurance program now used in Massachusetts while a state senator. Brown, a Republican, voted against the national healthcare plan the day after this demonstration.
Even new House Majority Leader John Boehner predicted that Democrats voting for the health care bill would be at risk, stating Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat from his same state of Ohio, "may be a dead man" for supporting the Affordable Care Act.
And Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn) issued statements that included violent terms as far back as early 2009, albeit on a different issue. “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax," she said on radio interview.
One Republican official even praised violent actions of terrorist inclination. After a small-craft airplane was purposefully flown into an IRS building in Texas in February 2010, killing two, Rep. Steven King (Iowa) acknowledged anti-tax sentiments promoted by the far-right may have encouraged the incident, but attributed that act of terrorism to be a positive keystone: “when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day for America.”
Violence, assassination and armed rebellion were common themes in the 2010 campaigns of Republican organizations and congressional candidates, as well.
Such themes were at times only alluded to, such as in a combination gun rally and campaign promotion for Rep. Giffords’ most recent election opponent. "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly," read the Republican candidate’s website.
Violent, if not anarchist, statements were directly made at other times, though. Stephen Broden, a Republican candidate for congress from the Dallas area, promoted government overthrow in his campaign, adding that “the option (of violence) is on the table.”
Broden also stated that "our nation was founded on violence," and referred to incumbent officials as “our enemies, and we must resist them.”
A target-shooting event hosted by a Republican group in Florida was attended by its party's congressional candidate, Robert Lowry, who joked about firing at a silhouette marked “DWS.” Lowry’s opponent in the race was the incumbent Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Tea Party/Republican candidate Sharron Angle twice referred to “Second Amendment remedies,” implying use of gun violence, to contest congress in general and her opponent, incumbent Sen. Harry Reid (Nevada), in particular. In the latter incident, Angle implied she was carrying a concealed weapon at that moment.
Even direct incidents of violence occurred at campaign events. Lauren Valle, a MoveOn member demonstrating at an appearance by now-elected Rand Paul, was knocked down and stomped on by Paul's campaign supporters.
Website operator Tony Hopfinger attempted to interview Joe Miller, candidate for U.S. Senate from Alaska, but was held and handcuffed by Miller's campaign staff, who took away Hopfinger's video recorder. Part of the video was later found to be erased, Hopfinger stated.
Both Miller and Paul ran as Republicans with Tea Party support; Paul won the race in Kentucky, while Miller's campaign was unsuccessful.
Culiminating awareness of the potential impact of these terrorist-like actions is none other than former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who issued statements and even images that are now connotated with yesterday's mass-shooting and murders.
On March 23, just two days after the healthcare act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, Palin issued a rallying statement to her supporters. "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" she tweeted.
That twitter message directed recipients to Palin's facebook page, which displayed a map (now removed) decorated with rifle cross-hairs to indicate the regions of particular Democratic congresspersons who voted for the Affordable Care Act, including Giffords' district. The representatives were also listed by name below the map.
Conservative media appear to have influence on these incidents, as well, and not just through websites, such as the previously-noted blog that acknowledges encouraging vandalism against the Democratic Party, and which is also credited with encouraging an attempted assasination.
National media - namely FOX News, already known to blatantly provide slanted and false information to its viewers - is recorded to have encouraged public disorder, violence and terrorist-like acts, too. FOX commentators, in particular Glenn Beck, are often directly attributed to be impetus to baseless public demonstration, and even murder.
For example, an August 2009 forum on healthcare in Tampa, Fla. was interrupted by hundreds of angry protestors, many of whom stated they were inspired to demonstrate by a recent Glenn Beck broadcast. The loud and interrupting protests led to a fist-fight in the crowd.
In July 2010, a California resident armed with three weapons conspired to attack the Tides Foundation, but was intercepted by police en route. Two officers were shot in the incident before Byron Williams was captured.
Williams credits Glenn Beck as inspiration for his attempted terrorist action against the organization, a progressive non-profit firm that Beck claimed was destroying capitalism. "It was the things that (Beck) did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind," said Williams in a later interview.
Beck had mentioned Tide Foundation 29 times on his FOX television broadcast over an 18-month period prior to the incident, and twice in the week immediately prior. Researchers found no other media to have reported any type of information on Tides in that same time period, and that the organization had only been mentioned two other times and only by one other FOX News host.
FOX commentator Bernard Goldberg was listed as inspiration of the 2008 shooting at a Tennessee church, and directly by the shooter. In a letter intended to serve as a suicide note, shooter Jim David Adkisson wrote "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book" (100 People Who Are Screwing Up America). Adkisson, who had also recently read books by FOX's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, said he settled on that Unitarian church, which he said was too liberal, because it was too difficult to get to the elected officials.
In May 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot inside his Kansas church. O'Reilly made degrading comments, including "baby killer," about Tiller on his commentary show 29 times before the shooting, and after Tiller made donation to a candidate for Kansas' Attorney General who would oppose O'Reilly's incumbent friend. Many media insinuated that O'Reilly's regular identification of Tiller led to the shooting by Scott Roeder.
Richard Poplawski said that frustration with the possibility that Pres. Obama would take away his guns - a false story repeatedly run by FOX News, which Poplawski frequently watched - was the inspiration in his murder of three police officers at his Pittsburgh apartment in April 2009.
Gregory Giusti was arrested in April 2010 for threatening the life of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, an idea his mother said Giusti received directly from FOX News. Glenn Beck had once suggested poisoning Pelosi in a 2009 broadcast.
The common factor in each of these circumstances is its antagonist: far-right wing sectors threatening violence, encouraging violence, approving of violence, and engaging in violent actions.
The goal is the same, too: to protect personal political interests through restraint of public freedom, amounting to anti-equality, anti-immigrant, anti-public good, anti-progress ... and anti-American, to boot. And all under the guise of a political sector that is revealing itself to be more and more anti-American every day.
Just over the last couple of years, last year especially and reaching a crest only yesterday, the far-right side of so-called conservatism has displayed itself as fascist. Corporatist. And terrorist. Making demands that take away personal freedom, and threatening - even taking - personal lives when those demands aren't met. And taking away everything this country was supposed to be founded upon at its initial creation.
The Republican Party is a dying entity in the United States, dropping to only 22 percent of Americans who identify themselves as GOP and leaving it in third place behind Democrats and independents. What its far-right sector has been attempting to do over the last two years is keep a tight rein on government despite that minority presence.
And it has done so by instilling fear and breeding anger in the same middle-class sector of the population the Republicans have abused. The media attention these fascist actions receive certainly helps its goals, especially when one news corporation in particular directly promotes and supports such fascism through purveyance of false information.
The GOP now has its public dirty work done by the Tea Party side. (When asked after the shooting if his daughter, Rep. Giffords, had any enemies, Spencer Gifford sobbed "Yeah. The whole Tea Party.")
It uses national media to reach unstable individuals and encourage them to conduct the violence that the Tea Party is too well-known to do itself directly.
And this equates terrorist activity by the same group that claims need to restrict American freedoms to protect us from terrorism.
But this recent terrorist-style mass murder must definitely set a limit. Turn off FOX News. Turn away the uneducated psychopaths who watch and believe FOX News. And vote out the Republicans who are responsible for all this garbage.