Death Of A Thousand Cuts
The following is a very important warning from The Mainstream Baptist:
Two weeks ago Paul Pressler, the architect of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, described how the Religious Right intended to deal with Roe v. Wade. After expressing his elation with the selection of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court he said, "Roe v. Wade won't be revoked, it will die the death of a thousand cuts and qualifications and regulations until it gradually disappears."
I suspect that Pressler has described the Religious Right's strategy for dealing with more than Roe v. Wade. They are already applying the same strategy to repealing the First Amendment and civil rights legislation.
First, this administration opened the flood gates for churches and religious groups to receive billions of dollars from the federal treasury. Now they are permitting the churches and religious groups to ignore laws protecting the civil rights of minorities when using that federal money. Already they have seized on hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to distribute more federal money to faith-based organizations and give vouchers to private and religious schools.
It's not hard to see what is happening here if you just ignore their pious sounding rhetoric and look at the reality of what they are doing. They are slowly creating an established church. It is being established not by a direct act of congress (that would violate the First Amendment which says "congress shall pass no laws respecting the establishment of religion"), but indirectly by government appropriations. Christian churches and religious groups are being funded while minority faiths, with tokens here and there for the Jews, are being marginalized as a matter of public policy.
A good example of this establishment of religion by appropriation is taking place in Houston. A couple weeks ago Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman told participants at an Americans United forum that Second Baptist Houston "bought" the right to direct relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the city. He said they came in with a million dollars and offered it for the relief efforts on the condition that they take control of the effort. He also indicated that the church's much publicized assent to work with the interfaith community was forced upon them by the mayor of Houston. Coleman asked, "Why is this church that never showed an interest in helping the poor in the past suddenly interested in leading this effort?" He answered, "They are making an investment. They know that billions of dollars are going to be funneled into this and they are the ones who will be in position to control it."
By the time the graft, corruption and injustice of what is now being done in the name of "faith-based initiatives" and "hurricance relief" is widely known and publicized, the Supreme Court will be stacked with jurists who will deny minority rights and interpret the constitution to mean that Christianity has always been the established religion of our nation.
Just stand back and watch this all unfold. Thank your God that I am in Canada and away from that madness.
On 23rd Sept 2001, I began my weblog at jaksblog @ blogger.
At the peak of the storm crisis, the authorities in New Orleans managed to safely evacuate all 8,000 inmates of the Parish's various jails (see para 4 of this story). However, it would appear that hospital patients -- many of them elderly -- were left to fend for themselves, or drown. The latest such case to come to light was reported today.
Better to be a car-jacker or a rapist than an old heart attack victim in Bush's America, I guess.
9/11 -- Thirty-Two Years On
Today is the thirty-second anniversary of the coup in Chile; a coup in which a terrorist superpower overthrew a democratically-elected government.
Few Americans will remember this anniversary, they'll be solemnly remembering one of their own -- an anniversary brought about, in part at least, because of the kind of imperialist despotism that September 11, 1973 so clearly reminds us.
Long live the memory of Salvador Allende and the brave Chilean people!
What About The Labs?
From the useful MemoryBlog comes the question, What happened to the level-3 biological labs in and around the New Orleans area?
As far as I can tell, no one has yet mentioned the biological research labs located in and around NOLA. For example, in nearby Covington, Tulane University runs the Tulane National Primate Research Center, a cluster of Level-3 biological labs containing around 5,000 monkeys, most of which are housed in outdoor cages. According to an article in Tulane University Magazine, "The primary areas of focus today at the Tulane National Primate Research Center are infectious diseases, including biodefense related work, gene therapy, reproductive biology and neuroscience. The Tulane primate center is playing a key role in the federal strategic plan for biodefense research" ...
According to the Sunshine Project, which digs up grant proposals and other primary documents from the US biowarfare effort, "Tulane scientists are working with anthrax, plague, and other biological weapons agents."
And that's not all:
Louisiana State University’s Medical School has a Level-3 biolab in the Clinical Sciences Research Building located at 533 Bolivar Street. According to grant applications, LSU’s facility was the site of research involving anthrax and genetically-engineered mousepox ...
The State of Louisiana has a Level-3 biolab in New Orleans ...
And let’s not forget the New Orleans Medical Complex, which contains over 40 blocks of hospitals and biomedical research facilities.
Again with the questions:
So with all the known and probable Level-3 biolabs in and around New Orleans, what's happened to the infected animals? Are they free and roaming? Are they dead, with their diseased bodies floating in the flood waters? And what about the cultures and vials of the diseases? Are they still secure? Are they being stolen? Were they washed away, now forming part of the toxic soup that coats the city?
Well? What's the answer?
Do We Need "Christian" Priorities?
As Law.com reported it:
When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be. Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption? The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.
Acosta's stated goal of prosecuting distributors of adult porn has angered federal and local law enforcement officials, as well as prosecutors in his own office. They say there are far more important issues in a high-crime area like South Florida, which is an international hub at risk for terrorism, money laundering and other dangerous activities. His own prosecutors have warned Acosta that prioritizing adult porn would reduce resources for prosecuting other crimes, including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections.
This is just nuts, of course.
"Compared to terrorism, public corruption and narcotics, [pornography] is no worse than dropping gum on the sidewalk," said Stephen Bronis, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder in Miami and chair of the white-collar crime division of the American Bar Association. "With so many other problems in this area, this is absolutely ridiculous."
However, there is an "intelligent design" behind this madness. With the rapid growth of Internet pornography, stamping out obscene material has become a major concern for the Bush administration's powerful Christian conservative supporters. The Mississippi-based American Family Association and other Christian conservative groups have pressured the Justice Department to take action against pornography. The family association has sent weekly letters to U.S. attorneys around the country to pressure them to pursue the makers and distributors of pornography.
"While there are crimes like drugs and public corruption in Miami, this is also a form of corruption and should be a priority," said Anthony Verdugo, director of the Christian Family Coalition in Miami. "Pornography is a poison and it's addictive. It's not a victimless crime. Women are the victims."
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, a Christian conservative who stepped down last December, disappointed social conservatives by not prosecuting porn during his tenure. In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Ashcroft placed his focus on anti-terrorism efforts. But the social conservatives have gained traction with new Attorney General Gonzales, a close associate of President Bush who is considered a strong contender for a U.S. Supreme Court nomination.
Acosta, a Miami native who formerly held a
high-level position in the Justice Department, is having a hard time
persuading other law enforcement officials in South Florida, including
his own assistant U.S. attorneys, to join the anti-porn crusade.
Sources say Acosta was told by the FBI officials during last
month's meeting that obscenity prosecution would have to be handled by
the crimes against children unit. But that unit is already overworked
and would have to take agents off cases of child endangerment to work
on adult porn cases. Acosta replied that this was Attorney General
Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union and a partner at Duane Morris in Miami, said,
"It's amazing that we're wasting our resources on the morality police instead of battling organized crime, illegal drugs, corruption and undocumented immigration. I can't even believe this."
But not Bob Sharp of the Family Association. He said any prosecutors who object to prosecuting obscenity don't understand the law.
"Most attorneys have been led to believe that what is illegal is not illegal in terms of obscenity," Sharp said. "They have a misconception of what should be prosecuted. They think because it's consenting adults, it's not illegal."
Sharp said the initiative is necessary because local law
enforcement and city attorneys get "crushed" by high-powered lawyers
hired by adult book stores or video stores when there are efforts to
shut those establishments down.
"You need the federal government to assist," said Sharp, who
takes credit for closing six adult bookstores in his hometown in
Maybe we can get the FBI to gather together all the porn magazines in the nation and use them to block up the New Orleans levees.
The following is from the always illuminating Radar:
It took less than a day for members of the GOP-controlled Congress to cut short their vacations and rush back to the capitol to “rescue” Terri Schiavo from those who wanted her to be allowed to die in peace. It took about four times longer to get them back into town to deal with the worst natural disaster in American history. Perhaps their attention was focused on more important things. On Thursday, as the death toll escalated, Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican Party, unveiled a campaign urging citizens to unite against…the death tax. “Today our economic outlook is bright,” he wrote in an e-mail to GOP supporters, three days after the disaster, urging citizens to call GOP holdout Sen. George Voinovich to lobby in favor of axing the tax. Nice to know they have their priorities straight.
The GOP was asleep. They no doubt thought that after six years of multi-billion dollar funding, the USA's emergency preparedness machinery would work without a hitch. But the civilians -- Federal, State and local -- muffed it. Nothing got better until the military took over. That's a lesson that will not be lost on the national security planners.
I've been watching the hurricane coverage, of course. What distresses me most -- what I am most sick and tired of hearing -- comes from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Jessie Jackson and others, who say that the victims of Katrina should not be called "refugees" because that word has a "negative connotation". Carol Mosley Braun in an interview with CNN today specifically linked the words "refugee" and "rioters".
I guess I understand where the black leadership is coming from (some of the media coverage has been definitively racist). But they seem hypocritically unconcerned that their words are bringing the word "refugee" into disrepute. They don't care that the next time someone talks about the refugees in Palestine and sub-saharan Africa and flood-ravaged Bangladesh, the audience will bring a "negative connotation" to that word.
These are not stupid people. They know that protecting one's own race by denigrating another is wrong. But they don't care. Today's expediency is all that counts. And that is as despicable as any burning cross on anyone's lawn.