House Undoes What it Did and Passes Fast Track on Pacific Trade Bill

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

You just can’t get Congress to be Congress anymore.

A few days after the United States House of Representatives denied President Obama sweeping powers to put through the Pacific trade deal, it reversed itself and passed fast track in a separate piece of legislation.

I know this sounds cynical, but that lets the good Congresspeople claim that they voted with whoever they are talking to on this measure. If they are talking to those who favor the Pacific trade agreement, then they point to this vote. If they are talking to people who want to preserve American jobs, they can point to last week’s vote.

If an opponent in a re-election campaign attacks them for backing the Pacific trade bill (when they’re talking to We the People, they almost always have to deny supporting this thing) they can call them a liar and say they voted to stop fast track.

When they go to the corporatists with their hands out for campaign money, all they gotta do is explain that they were forced to vote against fast track in the first vote because the rubes in their district demanded it. But they made good on their real campaign promises to the money men with the second vote.

It will work. It always does.

From The Hill:

The House on Thursday took the first step toward resuscitating the White House’s trade agenda by passing legislation granting President Obama fast-track authority.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where the White House and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats.

The House vote was 218-208, with 28 Democrats voting for it.

This is the second time in a week the House has voted to approve the controversial fast-track bill. On Friday, the House voted 219-211 in favor of fast-track, which would make it easier for Obama to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.

In last week’s vote, the House GOP paired the fast-track bill with a measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that gives aid to workers displaced by trade. Both measures needed to be approved in separate votes for the entire package to move forward.

House Democrats have historically favored TAA, but they voted against it on Friday to kill fast-track, which is deeply opposed by unions and other liberal groups.

The White House still wants both measures to reach Obama’s desk, but is now advancing a different strategy that would see the two bills move separately.

 

 

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History of the Crusades: Islamic Spain was NOT the ‘Ornament of the World’

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

The version of the Crusades being pushed by the media and much of our educational bureaucracy is not history. It is propaganda.

The idea that Islamic Spain was an Edenic “Ornament of the World” is obvious nonsense. I say that it is obvious for two reasons: The treatment of Christian populations throughout the rest of the territories conquered by Muslim invaders belies it. Even more to the point, the long-term and desperate war that the Spanish people engaged in to repel these invaders would not have occurred if these stories of conquered bliss were true.

Current history about the Crusades is deliberate propaganda that is being used as a political and social tool to bash Christianity. It is a lie that is so endemic that we heard it recently coming out of the mouth of the president of the United States.

Its purpose is to weaken Christian witness and tar Christianity in order to advance certain social and political agendas that are antithetical to Christian teaching. There is a lot of money at stake in this in the form of federal funding for things like embryonic stem cell research and Planned Parenthood.

The federal grant-making industry is the major industry and source of monies in several of the most prosperous zip codes in this country. It also dominates our most prestigious institutions of higher learning. It is fair to say that grantsmanship, rather than education, has become many of these institutions’ primary purpose.

For these reasons, Christian bashing is not only a social/moral/political evil: It is big business. In fact, it is the only business of large enclaves of prosperity and privilege that, at least so far, appear to be protected from the vicissitudes of a declining economy.

It is ironic that this declining economy is mostly due to the exportation of America’s industrial base to a Communist country. The irony lies in the fact that many of the apologists for this destruction of American industry and American jobs came from those same institutions of higher learning who continue to draw down the lion’s share of federal grant monies.

Enabling and encouraging Christian bashing in order to weaken the one institution that has any motive or chance of successfully standing for the ordinary people of this country is a rather obvious tactic for those who make their money from the way things are. Teaching ahistorical propaganda about the  Crusades as history is just one slice of this poisoned pie.

Despite the failings of its followers, Christian teaching is inclusiveness and that inclusiveness always wins out in the end. Christianity is a revolutionary force that proclaims that all human beings are made in the likeness and image of God. Christianity taught humanity that there is no Greek nor Jew, male nor female, slave nor free. All are one in Christ Jesus. 

Everything — the end of slavery in the Western world, the ideals of human rights and the unique value of each individual human being, grew from that mustard seed.

A social order that is built on defining specific groups of people as not human enough and thus liable to be killed at will, that excludes almost the entire country from prosperity and that siphons the wealth of a great nation into itself while promoting ideas that impoverish and disenfranchise the larger citizenry will, by its very nature, be inimical to the true Gospels of Christ. More and more, our institutions, whether they are institutions of higher learning or business or government, are isolating themselves from the larger culture.

They seek to create a self-sustaining enclosed system of thought and funding that loops back on itself and is powered by federal money. What I’m saying is that these people only talk to one another. They reference one another. They have created a false history of the Crusades — among other things — to protect the money machine that shelters their cushy existence from ideological interference.

The greatest danger to this walled-in system of exclusion and privilege is free-ranging Christianity with its empowering respect for the human.

 

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of 1400 years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.


Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/02/history-of-the-crusades-muslim-conquest-of-christian-egypt-639-646/#ixzz3SIOIz3oD

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When Did the Democrats Stop Being the Party of Working People?

Shanghai, built by exporting American jobs. Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Christian Mange https://www.flickr.com/photos/23149310@N06/

Shanghai, how many American jobs did it take to build this? Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Christian Mange https://www.flickr.com/photos/23149310@N06/

Does anybody remember President Obama’s State of the Union address?

I promised I would talk about the politics of the thing, and I’ve been remiss in that promise. In truth, there was a lot of politics in it, too much to handle in a single post. I will limit my discussion today to one area that galls me more than most: The Democratic Party’s abandonment of working people for elitist claptrap such as gay marriage and abortion.

There was a time when working people knew they had a champion in the Democratic Party. That was back in the day before American politics went nuts and devolved into two warring camps, pushing for power and more power, the people be damned.

Back then, there was a real difference in the way the two parties governed. The Rs were actual conservatives and the Ds were actual liberals. Actual liberals gave us such things as social security, Medicare, victory in World War II, the Marshall Plan, and a steady-on determined fight in the cold war. I consider myself an actual liberal.

Actual liberals were allies of organized labor. Organized labor gave the American people a living wage so that it was possible to hold one job and support a family, the 8 hour work day, a 40-hour work week, paid vacations, paid sick leave, retirements, and job security.

President Obama made a passing reference to supporting organized labor in his State of the Union address, but I don’t think he meant it. We have not had a Democratic president who was truly supportive of working people in a long time; not since the Marxists in the 1960s’ anti-war movement succeeded in destroying liberalism. What we have now is faux support of working people from Democrats who are basically bargain-basement corporatists.

The Democratic Party is not the wholly-owned subsidiary of multi-national corporations the way the Republican Party is. The difference — and I have witnessed this in person — is that the corporatists tell the Rs what to do and they do it. It’s not even all that nicely done. In fact, any R who dares to think for themselves gets the whole hammer of the party apparatus and a mountain of corporate attack money brought down on them. The party treats them like a defective part in an engine. It pulls and replaces them with someone who will do what they’re told.

The Ds, on the other hand, play at corporatism while promising working people that they are really for them.

Meanwhile, America has witnessed the steady destruction of our industrial base by the shipping of our manufacturing base overseas — to a Communist nation, no less — while wages, our standard of living, and the security of working people have dropped year by year.

We are developing into a two-class country composed of the hyper rich and the struggling everybody else. Every promise that is made to ordinary Americans gets broken, and every promise that is made to corporatists gets fulfilled.

I didn’t take President Obama’s passing allusion to support for organized labor seriously because I don’t think he meant it seriously. It was what the Democratic Party has been giving working people for quite some time now: A sop.

When did the Democratic Party stop being the party of working people? It happened in the 1960s, when true liberalism died and was replaced by radicalism and nihilism.

Both parties need to be reformed and converted. It’s time we the people stopped allowing ourselves to be lied to and manipulated. We don’t need to change the puppet people we keep tossing out every few years. We need to change the puppet masters.

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China: Tiananmen? What Tiananmen?

 

In China, June 4, 1989 is the day that wasn’t.

Tiananmen Square is the massacre that didn’t happen.

And on this anniversary of the massacre that didn’t happen, nobody inside China had better say anything that intimates that it did.

Welcome to the world of our trading partners. You know; the country to which we have exported our industrial base.

I’m talking about the last major Communist stronghold, which America has cunningly built into a world economic power by sending our jobs and our manufacturing base to them.

I am referring to the land of forced abortions and murdered baby girls, the bastion of slave labor, persecution of Christians and censorship. I mean the country that did not slaughter thousands of its own citizens in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

If you think that perhaps the Tiananmen Square massacre actually happened and that I’m exaggerating about our trading partner’s censorship, just try to send an email to anyone in China with the words Tianamen, June 4 or massacre in it. It will go nowhere.

The Chinese government forbids discussion of Tiananmen Square, the massacre it wreaked on its own citizens, and the brutal aftermath of persecutions, torture and re-education that followed it. The Chinese reaction to today’s anniversary of that tragedy is the reaction that totalitarian governments always use: stone-walling and silence that is enforced by threats, lies and raw power.

A few Americans have become rich beyond the dreams of avarice by dismantling our industrial base and moving it to China. The rest of us, not so much.

How this will play out in the years ahead, I am not sure. I only know that this Chinese leopard has not really changed its spots. That, and the obvious fact that our corporatists have weakened this country greatly feeding their greed.

From USA Today:

BEIJING – Tight security around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square Wednesday combined with a months-long crackdown against dissidents and a quarter century of enforced amnesia to prevent public commemoration of the crushing of the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

In Hong Kong, China’s semi-democratic enclave, more than 100,000 people attended an evening vigil to mark the bloody end to seven weeks of demonstrations for a fairer, cleaner government 25 years ago.

On the mainland, China’s ruling Communist Party forbids citizens from discussing the movement. Thousands were believed to have been killed on the evening of June 3 through June 4, 1989, when the same party sent army troops into central Beijing to quell protesters.

In the past two months, about 50 people have been detained in a pre-anniversary crackdown that Chinese activists and human rights groups have called the most severe ever.

China’s state-run media all but ignored the highly sensitive date, while the censor’s trigger finger was busy Wednesday blacking out television screens showing CNN and BBC whenever the foreign broadcasters aired segments on Tiananmen.

 

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Christian Persecution: Chinese House Church Christian Sentenced to “Re-Education Through Labor”

One way the Communist government in China attempts to control Christianity is by confining it to government-approved churches. The government then picks the bishops, priests and preachers who work in these churches. That places these “official” churches and their message under government control.

One way Christians in China try to get around this is to worship in “house churches” which are basically underground churches where people can worship the true Jesus found in the Gospels. The government attempts to suppress these house churches by use of criminal punishments, including sentencing people to labor, which is probably just another name for slave labor.

I don’t know, but I wonder if any of these prisoners work in American factories, making the gifts we put under our Christmas trees.

The following article from Worthy News describes the sentencing of Mao Henfeng to “re-education through labor.” Mao Hengfeng is a house church in Shanghai. The article reads in part:

BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)– A high profile house church Christian in Shanghai who has been continually targeted for government harassment was just handed an extra-judicial sentence to a forced labor camp.

Mao Hengfeng was sentenced to 18 months of “re-education through labor” for “disrupting public order,” the third such sentence for the 50 year-old Mao, who is in poor health with high blood pressure.

Labor camp sentences were also handed down to others who joined Hengfeng in seeking redress from the Communist government; recently many petitioners have disappeared into official custody, been criminally detained or had their freedom of movement curtailed in the days leading up to the November 8 opening of the 18th Party Congress.

ChinaAid President Bob Fu expressed grave concern for these political detainees as well as others who suffered human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese government as it prepares for its Party Congress. Fu called upon the international community to seize the opportunity presented by this latest Party Congress and bring about reforms that will protect human rights, the rule of law and freedom of religion. (Read more here.)

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I Have a Photo of the Cause of America’s Deficit (See Below)

This is a 2011 photo of me, standing front of the primary cause of America’s budget deficit.

It is also a photo of our stagnant economy, declining wages and lack of good jobs.

I was standing on Kinmen Island off the coast of Taiwan. The skyscrapers in the background are mainland China.

We built those skyscrapers. We also built the skyscrapers in a lot of places around the world. We built them with our jobs, our industry, our economic base. America has been exporting our industrial base for at least 30 years. Notice, I did not say we’ve been exporting our jobs. We certainly have been sending American jobs away, but unfortunately we sent our industrial base along with them.

60 Minutes ran a story Sunday, October 7, about a Chinese corporation named Huawei. The situation it describes is something of the canary in the mine shaft in terms of warning us about some of the potential consequences of these disastrous policies. You can find it here.

America’s industrial might is being bled out by corporate greed and a government that toadies to the corporations rather than taking care of the American people and the best interests of this country.

All the blather I heard in the first presidential debate on the economy never really addressed this. In my humble opinion, that means they never really talked about our real economic problems. No matter who wins the upcoming election, if he doesn’t do something about this problem, the overall trend of our economy (as opposed to temporary fluctuations) is headed down.

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