Sunday, August 2, 2015

Do Antiabortion Activists Have Secret Surveillance Video Of Planned Parenthood?

The Center For Medical Progress and its allies on the right claim that they are releasing all the footage - but the numbers don't add up. In an interview with the Daily Caller, David Daleiden boasted he had 300 hours of undercover video. In an interview with the New York Times, the reporter told Daleiden of Planned Parenthood's claim that he had "thousands of hours" of video, and Daleiden said "that's probably an accurate estimate."

So far Daleiden's group has released four videos. Three of them are here, and they're less than seven hours. One is here, and it's an 11 minute clip. The group claims it has eight to 10 more videos coming. But they have 290 hours of footage they haven't shown us - assuming Daleiden was completely lying to the Times reporter and being honest with the Daily Caller.

When they're done, even by the most conservative and charitable estimate, the group will still have more than 250 hours of footage they're not showing us.

What's on that footage? We know the group has portrayed itself as a biomedical company to mingle with abortion providers at conventions. And it's also gained access to the clinics during abortion procedures.

What other staffers are identifiable in their footage?
Are patients identifiable?

We know that the group is working very closely with Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue. The group has a long history of harassment and disturbing ties to people who've murdered abortion providers. The New Republic calls them "an organization known for beleaguering pregnant women, and whose second-in-command has served jail time for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic..." It's reasonable to assume Operation Rescue will have access to the full footage.

Finally, Daleiden says his investigation has been going on for two and a half years, but Planned Parenthood is claiming the investigation goes back eight years. Daleiden is only 26, so if Planned Parenthood's estimate is correct, it probably involves other people besides Daleiden himself. Operation Rescue goes back decades.

We're not seeing everything. And it's important to understand that this footage is not just good propaganda - it's surveillance. It's an attempt to investigate and discredit Planned Parenthood, yes. But it's also information Operation Rescue can use for its efforts to come.

Who is on that video, and what is Operation Rescue going to do to them?

If you haven't thought about that question, you should.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Six Completely Sensible Reasons The Iranian Government Hates Us

If you watch Fox News you already know the Iranian government is a force for maniacal evil, plotting our destruction. And it's true that they've done great harm to us over the years. But some of that hate and distrust they have for us is completely understandable. They blame us for doing awful things to them. You should probably consider that the next time you see some right wing jackass act like they are the source of all wickedness in the world.

What's their problem with us?

1. They had a perfectly decent democracy, and we toppled it in a CIA-sponsored coup. In the early 1950's the Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh was going to nationalize oil production, which would have hurt the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, as well as US and British interests in the region. The CIA overthrew the government and helped install the Shah. This isn't leftist conspiracy-mongering. It has been acknowledged by the US government. President Obama actually mentioned it in a speech in Cairo in 2009, and the CIA's own declassified reports are clear:

"The military coup that overthrew Mossadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government," the document says, using a variation of the spelling of Mossadegh's name.

Think about that whenever someone says we're launching a war for oil in the Mideast, and it seems paranoid to you. We have a clear record of toppling regimes we don't like to protect access to their oil.

2. After we helped topple that democracy, we trained the new leader's brutal secret police force. One of the major operatives in this effort was actually Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., the father of the key figure in Desert Storm. The International Business Times describes what happened:

Under a CIA operation called “Operation Ajax,” Schwarzkopf Sr. had been sent to Iran to encourage the Shah to return to power and, most crucially, helped him in the quest by forming and training security forces that would be loyal to the Shah. These security agents would eventually metamorphose into the dreaded and feared SAVAK secret police, one of the most brutal foundations of the Shah’s power.

Israel’s Mossad spy agency also assisted in training SAVAK agents in the arts of interrogation, surveillance and torture.

In the Huffington Post, Todd Green, author of The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West, writes:  The CIA apparently trained the Shah's secret police force, SAVAK, in Nazi-style torture methods. SAVAK, in turn, employed these techniques on political dissidents opposed to the Shah's autocratic rule.

3. That regime and secret police we supported actually captured the current leader of Iran and tortured him. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, was targeted by SAVAK in the 1970s. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he spent three years in prison enduring torture and solitary confinement.

4. The leader of Iran also thinks we tried to kill him. The same article in the Herald also states that Khamenei "has a limp and useless right arm thanks to that attempt to kill him with a hidden bomb in 1981." According to an interview Goblinbooks did with retired CIA officer Bob Baer, Khamenei blames the US for that attack. The group that detonated the bomb is called the People's Mujahedin of Iran (known as the MEK, MKO, or PMOI). According to Frontline, this group has actually targeted Americans in the past. But the Iranians believe we work with them - and the evidence is troubling: After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the MEK was disarmed, but it remains under the protection of U.S. forces at its base north of Baghdad. Iran says the MEK is supplying intelligence to the U.S. on Iran's covert nuclear program and Iranian operations in Iraq.

5. We supported Saddam's use of chemical weapons against Iranians. Foreign Policy Magazine has an account of what happened: In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent. 

The article details the extensive help the Reagan administration gave to Saddam's forces to launch "some of the worst chemical attacks in history" on at least four occasions. Then the US covered it up.

6. Our highest-level officials call for the destruction of their government. We know that Iranian officials are targeting US troops and calling for "death to America." But people in the most powerful positions in Washington have spent decades looking for ways to destabilize and topple their government. From the Telegraph in 2007: [President] Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs. Under the plan, pressure will be brought to bear on the Iranian economy by manipulating the country's currency and international financial transactions.

And we're all familiar with the clip of Senator McCain joking about bombing the country.

None of this should blind you to the danger of the Iranian regime or to their past actions. But Americans have a way of ignoring how others in the world see us. If you were a government official in a foreign country, and the Americans had propped up a nasty autocrat who ruled your people for a generation, trained brutal thugs to imprison dissidents, actually helped the people who locked you up and tortured you... If you knew the Americans helped hit your soldiers with poison gas, if you blamed them for an attempt on your life that crippled you, got reports that they were secretly launching attacks to topple your government, and saw on TV how their political leaders openly called for your defeat and joked about dropping explosives on you... how would you see these people?

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Polls Show That Trump Loses Against Clinton, Biden, Ebola, and Sanders

Donald Trump, who is leading the pack of GOP candidates by 7.1 points, gets beaten by the widest margin in a matchup against Hillary Clinton, according to a McClatchy/Marist poll released today. Clinton beats Trump by 16 points, compared to Bush, Walker, Paul, and Rubio who lose in the range of 5 to 7 points. This tracks with recent Quinnipiac and CNN/ORC polls which show Trump clearly losing to Clinton as well, but also to Biden, Ebola, and Sanders.

Trump clearly has the freewheeling charisma and audacity to win over the firebrands of the GOP base. But in a general election, people are clearly going to pick the former Secretary of State with foreign policy credentials, the vice president, bleeding a scarlet river from every orifice, or the scrappy socialist from Vermont.

It's hard to say what Trump can do to earn the kind of trust he'd need to get within striking distance of 270 electoral votes. Hillary Clinton, like her or don't, is a proven political leader with real accomplishments. Sure, she has high negatives. But given a choice between her and having government officials strap you into a gurney and seal you off with plastic sheeting while you fade in and out of consciousness... most people would still pick Hillary. That's a hurdle Donald Trump hasn't cleared yet.

It comes down to trust, I think. People look at a Biden, a Clinton - even a Sanders, or having their entire hometown being put in lockdown by anonymous men with bubble suits and automatic weapons like something out of a Stephen King novel... and they feel a confidence that they don't get with Trump.

It'll be interesting to see whether that changes.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"You Know I'm From Africa, Right?" By Cecil The Lion


Thanks for the good wishes, everybody. I mean that. But I gotta say, I have mixed feelings about all this attention. People are chasing after the guy who shot me - there's talk about how they're going to bring him to trial. It's a tragedy, they're saying. A tragedy.

Yes, an awful lot of white Americans on Facebook are really torn up about this. And that's not a bad thing. No. It's just that - since I'm from Africa myself - I've been following the news for awhile, and well, it turns out I'm not the first guy from my part of the world who's been killed by a twitchy Caucasian with anger management issues and something to prove. Not the first. Not at all. But this feels like the first time you gave a crap enough to do anything about it.

Did you know that? There's a list - a long, long, heartbreakingly long list - of individuals of African descent who've met the same fate. In my case, everybody jumped up and said it was completely indefensible. Everybody. No one's spreading photos of me looking mean and tough... maybe eating gazelles with my buddies or menacing old-lady tourists. No one's saying I should have cooperated with the guy who killed me. Someone pops a lion from Africa - an actual predator who's not even a member of your species - and you can't do enough to show how much you care. But human beings in your own country - your fellow citizens - are afraid for their lives from law enforcement, from rent-a-cop vigilantes, and from every racist nutjob ready to exercise his Second Amendment rights on a defenseless congregation... and what have you done to stop it? Have any of your candidates stepped up to talk serious policy change? Have we seen anyone tell us how civil rights are going to be the main focus of the Department of Justice? Have local and state police forces started pulling apart their methods trying to stop this insanity?

Seriously, white people. What the actual fuck is wrong with you?

What's so awful about this is how long it's been going on. This last year or so is really just a continuation of the kind of violence that goes back to before the Civil War. At what point do you look at it and just realize it's a betrayal of everything this country is supposed to promise people? Jesus, how can you say the pledge of allegiance without crying? I spent a large portion of my day licking my own ass, and even I knew this. It's the complete breakdown of the legitimacy of the criminal justice system in America. How does your average pasty middle-aged dude not see it?

Anyway, I've got to go. We have a lot of feeding times, up here in Lion Heaven. It's pretty sweet. Don't mourn me, people. You've got an entire nation of people who are still alive. They need your help. And they damn sure deserve your respect. Save your country from what's happening.

Cecil out.

(Note: Photo by Kevin Pluck. Copyright info here.)

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Democratic Party And The Liberal Movement Need To Prove Themselves To Black People

You can't benefit from good middle class jobs if you're dead.
You won't care about income equality if you're dead.
Choice will not matter to you if you're dead.
An end to homophobia will bring you no joy if you're dead.
You can't be concerned whether a glass ceiling somewhere gets broken if you're dead.
And you certainly will not bother about whether the party you voted for gets their candidates into office, if those candidates didn't stop someone from ending your life in a holding cell, on a street corner, or during one of those routine stops that's becoming more routine every day.

Are activists from Black Lives Matter hurting your favorite celebrity's chances to get into that nice office?
Do you think your favorite celebrity already earned their support, earned their vote, deserves their devotion, because of how great he or she has been to African Americans? As if basic respect for the people who voted for your celebrity all these years is a gift?

Fuck you. People are dying.
Fix it or your favorite celebrity has no business being in power.
Fix it or get lost.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"If You Want, I'll Shoot Someone On Live TV" By Ted Cruz

I know that many of you out there like Donald Trump. I get that. You like his no-nonsense approach. You appreciate it when he says things no rational human being could believe, and he says them at a volume that makes them impossible to ignore. You look at this guy, and you think, "Now there's a candidate that just might be everything the Republican party's looking for in a rich, angry white fella."

Believe me, we are on the same page about leadership.

And that's why I'd like to point out that I, Ted Cruz, am perfectly willing to shoot a person for you on live TV.

How's that grab you? You gotta admit, it's pretty interesting, right? Well, I'm serious. Maybe we can work something out involving a death row inmate, or an undocumented worker - I'd even give him a head start to make it interesting. Perhaps I could just go to a place that doesn't have an extradition treaty, pop a guy a couple times in the head Scarface-style, and put it right on the Youtube.

What I'm saying is I understand you voters out there in primary-land. You don't want some elitist Washington politician who's going to jaw you into a stupor with crap about capital gains. You want a man who understands your values. Including how much you'd value the opportunity to watch some serious firearm homicide while you dig into your chicken buckets. I am aware of this. And I'm going to do whatever it takes to win the GOP nomination, no matter how immoral or batcrap it is.

Because that's the real test, isn't it? The willingness to just go to a place the other guy won't. Oh brother, I am already packing my bags to get there.

Say the word, and I will earn the right to be your candidate by replaying a scene I like to call "Dealey Plaza 2" starring an unsuspecting victim as Jack Kennedy and me as a huskier version of Lee Oswald. I will make this as ugly as you need, America. Believe it.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got a prayer breakfast in the morning.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Conservatives Believe That Life Begins At $12,000 A Year

Underneath the Planned Parenthood controversy is the great and savage fight in this country over the morality of abortion itself. And we're not going to settle this easily - if we can settle it at all - because it's rooted in our most deeply-held beliefs about what makes a person and when human life begins.

Liberals like myself tend to believe personhood comes from consciousness. Until the human brain develops, which is late in the pregnancy, the thoughts that make one a human are impossible, and therefore the woman's rights over her body take precedence. We also believe people living below the poverty line exist.

Conservatives approach this differently. They believe - often for religious reasons - that human life begins at the moment of conception and after that point the woman's rights must make way for the equally valid rights of her unborn. They believe just as strongly that someone making below $12,000 a year ($11,770 to be exact, or $24,250 for a family of four) is not really a person even in the theoretical sense.

Anti-abortion activists have claimed the recent videos of Planned Parenthood officials prove they are illegally selling fetal organs and tissues for profit. The evidence is deeply suspect - taken by an extremist group that may have itself violated the law by posing as a biomedical company, the footage shows two representatives who repeatedly say the organization makes no profit on the procedure, merely recoups costs. Liberals say we'll need to know more about this situation before we cut hundreds of millions of dollars from a group that provides the poor with tests for STDs, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, as well as helping them get access to birth control and other healthcare services. Conservatives don't think cutting this out of the budget is a problem, because it simply doesn't hurt people. Not real people anyway, because to conservatives real people are in the middle or upper class, and they don't live in dirty places where they have to go to the whore-clinic.

A liberal sees a person with a pregnancy she didn't anticipate as someone whose life might well be ruined. She might lack the resources to care for a baby and forcing her to carry her child to term will be cruel to both of them. You want to be careful about denying personhood to a being who can think, but you have to weigh this concern against the very real harm that unintended pregnancy causes to people living in poverty, and that's before we even discuss issues like rape, incest, or the health risks causes by complications. A conservative, on the other hand, believes that the issue of personhood is clear. The moment a child is conceived it is a real human being with full rights. And it keeps those rights until nine months later when it's born into a home in which no one has a decent job, and it'll be beaten up or left in a dumpster or whatever, but by that point it won't matter, because there will be little chance it will grow up to work in an office and vote Republican.

The irony is that both liberals and conservatives agree on a key issue: A low-income pregnant woman represents one human being and one human being only. They just disagree on exactly which one that is. But that kind of person is going to get someone elected. Someone who counts.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.
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