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Divine Laissez Faire: Comparing the Theocratic Free Market Philosophies of the Muslim Brotherhood and The Family

Dave Emory’s entire lifetime of work is available on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books available on this site.)

COMMENT: Throughout the course of the “Arab Spring,” we noted that it was not a spontaneous event, but a covert operation, tapping the deservedly righteous frustration of many of the peoples in that region in order to usher the Islamo-fascist Muslim Brotherhood into power. The “turn to the Brotherhood” took place during the second administration of George W. Bush and has continued under Obama.

(Tragically, one of the most important developments in the investigation into 9/11–the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002–has been overlooked. That investigation revealed profound operational links between the GOP and its chief “privatization” ideologues (Grover Norquist and Karl Rove) and the Muslim Brotherhood, including elements and individuals involved in financing al-Qaeda. It stands as a resounding indictment of this country’s citizenry, journalistic establishment and political class that the United States continues to suffer under the “austerity” onslaught manifested as “the sequester.” The core of the GOP political axis–Norquist and Rove–should  be awaiting trial at Guantanamo as the traitors they in point of fact are. The utterly gutless journalists and politicos deserve the blame for this failure.)

Ibn Khaldun

Ultimately, Obama and/or the Democratic Party will take the heat for the actions initiated by Bush, Rove and Norquist. 

There is every indication that powerful, transnational corporate forces envisioned and then dictated the “turn to the Brotherhood.” 

The World Bank overtly endorsed the economic agenda of the Brotherhood, seeing in their “corporatist” ideology a blueprint for advancing free-market ideology in the Muslim world.

When the World Bank gives voice to such thinking, the message resonates powerfully in the corridors of economic power. (We note in passing that the article detailing the Brotherhood’s free-market principles appeared in Newsweek, part of the Graham publishing empire at the time. The Graham publishing interests are second only to The New York Times as a “voice” the American establishment.) 

Noteworthy in this context is the similarity in the IMF’s interpretation of “Islamic free-market” principles and the “Christian free-market” ideology espoused by the powerful group known as “The Family” or The Fellowship.” (They are not to be confused with the Santikenetan Park Association discussed in FTR #724.)

Borrowing a page from the Calvinist book, The Family sees great success in business as proof of God’s blessing on the successful.

Both the Muslim Brotherhood and The Family see free-market/laissez-faire principles as being divine in nature, ordained by the Creator.

Of course both the Brotherhood and The Family are strongly connected to the Underground Reich.

We note that “ex” CIA officer Graham Fuller, one of the architects of the “turn to the Brotherhood,” as we call it, articulated the attraction of Islam for Western conservatives/corporatists.

 “Elite Fundamentalism – The Fellowship’s Gospel of Capitalist Power”;  Religion Report [Australian Broadcast Company]; 9/3/2008.

EXCERPT: Stephen Crit­ten­den: Now the book is basi­cally about a shad­owy organ­i­sa­tion called The Fam­ily, or The Fel­low­ship that was founded by a guy called Abra­ham Vereide, a Nor­we­gian immi­grant to the United States in the 1930s. Tell us about him and the foun­da­tion of this organisation.

Jeff Sharlet: Vereide is a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter. This guy who comes to Amer­ica from Nor­way, because he sees America’s the land of the Bible unchained. Even from a boy he’s given to what he thinks are prophetic visions. He believes that God comes to him and talks to him in very lit­eral words. He comes to Amer­ica and he makes quite a name for him­self, becomes a preacher and starts preach­ing to guys like Henry Ford and titans of the steel indus­try and so on, and then has this Epiphany, this real­i­sa­tion in the mid­dle of our Great Depres­sion in the 1930s. He decides that the Great Depres­sion is actu­ally a pun­ish­ment from God for dis­obey­ing God’s law, and how are we dis­obey­ing God’s law? Well it’s because we are try­ing to reg­u­late the econ­omy, we are try­ing to take mat­ters into our own hands. Well we just have to com­pletely trust God, and those he chooses, men like Henry Ford and the CEO of US Steel and so on.

Stephen Crit­ten­den: Yes, it’s a mus­cu­lar Chris­tian­ity. You’d almost say he had a min­istry to bring that indus­trial class back into religion.

Jeff Sharlet: Absolutely. This must be a Chris­tian­ity on steroids. They were build­ing on this tra­di­tion of this kind of macho Christ, and tak­ing it to these busi­ness­men who didn’t really care about church or the Bible or any­thing like that. What they cared about was organ­ised labour, and in fact, par­tic­u­larly in Aus­tralia. Harry Bridges was a major, major labour leader here in the United States. And they just saw him the Devil Incar­nate, and began to organ­ise against him. And that’s what this group has become — and are to this day. They still see God’s inter­ests as those of the absolutely unreg­u­lated free mar­kets — a very sort of macho, mus­cu­lar Chris­tian­ity that tends to serve the inter­ests of those involved. . . .

“Islam in Office” by Stephen Glain; Newsweek; 7/3–10/2006.

EXCERPT: Judeo-Christian scrip­ture offers lit­tle eco­nomic instruc­tion. The Book of Deuteron­omy, for exam­ple, is loaded with edicts on how the faith­ful should pray, eat, bequeath, keep the holy fes­ti­vals and treat slaves and spouses, but it is silent on trade and com­merce. In Matthew, when Christ admon­ishes his fol­low­ers to ‘give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,’ he is effec­tively con­ced­ing fis­cal and mon­e­tary author­ity to pagan Rome. Islam is dif­fer­ent. The prophet Muhammad—himself a trader—preached mer­chant honor, the only reg­u­la­tion that the bor­der­less Lev­an­tine mar­ket knew. . . .

. . . In Mus­lim liturgy, the deals cut in the souk become a metaphor for the con­tract between God and the faith­ful. And the busi­ness model Muham­mad pre­scribed, accord­ing to Mus­lim schol­ars and econ­o­mists, is very much in the laissez-faire tra­di­tion later embraced by the West. Prices were to be set by God alone—anticipating by more than a mil­len­nium Adam Smith’s ref­er­ence to the ‘invis­i­ble hand’ of market-based pric­ing. Mer­chants were not to cut deals out­side the souk, an early attempt to thwart insider trad­ing. . . . In the days of the caliphate, Islam devel­oped the most sophis­ti­cated mon­e­tary sys­tem the world had yet known. Today, some econ­o­mists cite Islamic bank­ing as fur­ther evi­dence of an intrin­sic Islamic prag­ma­tism. Though still guided by a Qur’anic ban on riba, or inter­est, Islamic bank­ing has adapted to the needs of a boom­ing oil region for liq­uid­ity. In recent years, some 500 Islamic banks and invest­ment firms hold­ing $2 tril­lion in assets have emerged in the Gulf States, with more in Islamic com­mu­ni­ties of the West.

British Chan­cel­lor of the Exche­quer Gor­don Brown wants to make Lon­don a global cen­ter for Islamic finance—and elic­its no howl of protest from fun­da­men­tal­ists. How Islamists might run a cen­tral bank is more prob­lem­atic: schol­ars say they would manip­u­late cur­rency reserves, not inter­est rates.

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood hails 14th cen­tury philoso­pher Ibn Khal­dun as its eco­nomic guide. Antic­i­pat­ing supply-side eco­nom­ics, Khal­dun argued that cut­ting taxes raises pro­duc­tion and tax rev­enues, and that state con­trol should be lim­ited to pro­vid­ing water, fire and free graz­ing land, the util­i­ties of the ancient world. The World Bank has called Ibn Khal­dun the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion. [Empha­sis added.] His found­ing influ­ence is a sign of mod­er­a­tion. If Islamists in power ever do clash with the West, it won’t be over com­merce. . . .

“Chech­nyan Power” by Mark Ames; nsfwcorp.com; 6/5/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . . Fuller comes from that fac­tion of CIA Cold War­riors who believed (and still appar­ently believe) that fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam, even in its rad­i­cal jihadi form, does not pose a threat to the West, for the sim­ple rea­son that fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam is con­ser­v­a­tive, against social jus­tice, against social­ism and redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth, and in favor of hier­ar­chi­cal socio-economic struc­tures. Social­ism is the com­mon enemy to both cap­i­tal­ist Amer­ica and to Wah­habi Islam, accord­ing to Fuller.

Accord­ing to jour­nal­ist Robert Drey­fuss’ book “Devil’s Game,” Fuller explained his attrac­tion to rad­i­cal Islam in neoliberal/libertarian terms:

“There is no main­stream Islamic organization…with rad­i­cal social views,” he wrote. “Clas­si­cal Islamic the­ory envis­ages the role of the state as lim­ited to facil­i­tat­ing the well-being of mar­kets and mer­chants rather than con­trol­ling them. Islamists have always pow­er­fully objected to social­ism and communism….Islam has never had prob­lems with the idea that wealth is unevenly dis­trib­uted.” . . . .

Discussion

21 comments for “Divine Laissez Faire: Comparing the Theocratic Free Market Philosophies of the Muslim Brotherhood and The Family”

  1. So it turns out Ohio’s courts have been sending people to debtors prison. It also turns out that practice is illegal. Oh well. The debtor’s poverty is clearly a market signal that these are bad people deserving of imprisonment even if it make them poorer and less able to pay their debts. Mammon is hungry and it doesn’t feed itself:

    Debtors’ prisons: Thrive or serve jail time?

    Debtors’ prisons thrive in some states, despite being illegal. In Ohio, several courts have been imprisoning poor people who cannot pay their debts.

    By Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press / April 4, 2013

    COLUMBUS, Ohio

    Several courts in Ohio are illegally jailing people because they are too poor to pay their debts and often deny defendants a hearing to determine if they’re financially capable of paying what they owe, according to an investigation released Thursday by the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    The ACLU likens the problem to modern-day debtors’ prisons. Jailing people for debt pushes poor defendants farther into poverty and costs counties more than the actual debt because of the cost of arresting and incarcerating individuals, the report said.

    The report says courts in Huron, Cuyahoga, and Erie counties are among the worst offenders.

    Among the report’s findings:

    — In the second half of last year, more than one in every five of all bookings in the Huron County jail — originating from Norwalk Municipal Court cases — involved a failure to pay fines.

    — In suburban Cleveland, Parma Municipal Court jailed at least 45 defendants for failure to pay fines and costs between July 15 and August 31, 2012.

    — During the same period, Sandusky Municipal Court jailed at least 75 people for similar charges.

    Judge Deanna O’Donnell of Parma Municipal Court said Thursday the court was unaware of the issue until contacted earlier this week by the ACLU. She said officials were examining the 45 cases in question.

    ACLU spokesman Mike Brickner said the group believes the practice is widespread in Ohio.

    The report is a follow-up to a national 2010 report that focused on Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Washington.

    That report determined that many courts are violating a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision that courts had to hold a hearing to determine why people are unable to pay before sentencing them to incarceration.

    A similar 2010 report by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice looked at the growth of court fees in Florida. It concluded, in part, that the “current fee system creates a self-perpetuating cycle of debt for persons re-entering society after incarceration.”

    Courts are breaking the law by holding defendants in contempt of court for failing to pay fines without proper notice or allowing an attorney to be present, the report said. Courts are also issuing arrests warrants for people who fail to show up and pay their fines and jailing defendants who are too poor to pay, according to the report.

    Court costs should be recovered through civil lawsuits, not jail time, the report said.

    Ohio’s court could try correct this and adhere to the 1983 Supreme Court ruling banning this kind of judicial predation on the most vulnerable members of society. Or, you know, they maybe could try one of the other options be bandied about. They aren’t particularly legal options, but that doesn’t appear to be much of an issue.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 4, 2013, 10:38 pm
  2. While the overwhelming empirical evidence (otherwise known as “reality”) suggests that the prevailing pro-austerity economic theories are just one giant mistake that pointlessly destroys societies, it turns out that the austerian worldview is also based on a bunch of giant theoretical mistakes too:

    The New York Times
    Holy Coding Error, Batman
    Paul Krugman
    April 16, 2013, 1:38 pm

    The intellectual edifice of austerity economics rests largely on two academic papers that were seized on by policy makers, without ever having been properly vetted, because they said what the Very Serious People wanted to hear. One was Alesina/Ardagna on the macroeconomic effects of austerity, which immediately became exhibit A for those who wanted to believe in expansionary austerity. Unfortunately, even aside from the paper’s failure to distinguish between episodes in which monetary policy was available and those in which it wasn’t, it turned out that their approach to measuring austerity was all wrong; when the IMF used a measure that tracked actual policy, it turned out that contractionary policy was contractionary.

    The other paper, which has had immense influence — largely because in the VSP world it is taken to have established a definitive result — was Reinhart/Rogoff on the negative effects of debt on growth. Very quickly, everyone “knew” that terrible things happen when debt passes 90 percent of GDP.

    Some of us never bought it, arguing that the observed correlation between debt and growth probably reflected reverse causation. But even I never dreamed that a large part of the alleged result might reflect nothing more profound than bad arithmetic.

    But it seems that this is just what happened. Mike Konczal has a good summary of a review by Herndon, Ash, and Pollin. According to the review paper, R-R mysteriously excluded data on some high-debt countries with decent growth immediately after World War II, which would have greatly weakened their result; they used an eccentric weighting scheme in which a single year of bad growth in one high-debt country counts as much as multiple years of good growth in another high-debt country; and they dropped a whole bunch of additional data through a simple coding error.

    Fix all that, say Herndon et al., and the result apparently melts away.

    If true, this is embarrassing and worse for R-R. But the really guilty parties here are all the people who seized on a disputed research result, knowing nothing about the research, because it said what they wanted to hear.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 16, 2013, 1:11 pm
  3. Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 20, 2013, 9:36 am
  4. In a story tangentially related to Erdogan’s recent declaration that Turkey’s protestors are “looters” and “extremists” while declaring that there will be no “Turkish Spring”, the College National Republicans Committee released the results of a survey on American youth attitudes towards the GOP. Perhaps not surprisingly, American youth appear to have largely concluded that the far-right GOP has absolutely no interest in building a better world. It’s one of those reports that highlights one of the biggest challenges any of the far-right movements around the world are going to increasingly face in the future: why should the youth of the world ever support a far-right nut job movement like the Muslim Brotherhood or the GOP? Anywhere? When fascism first arose it had one BIG advantage that it will never have again: it was new. And now we all know it sucks. And now the youth across the Middle East are learning first hand just how much the Muslim Brotherhood’s brand of far-right nuttiness sucks even when the economy is doing okish. Really, who would ever really want “Islamic Calvinism” when so many better options are available? You’d have to be clueless or nuts. The far-right is going to have to seriously retool their rhetorical/political tactics for the 21st century because even though we’ve seen plenty of far-right political victories in recent years (the Muslim Brotherhood Arab Spring piggy-back coups being a big example) it really is looking like those victories are increasingly coming with the massive cost of losing the long-term philosophical war. This is a massive generation around the globe that’s under 30, they have the internet, they’re all seeing how awful the policies are around the planet that seem to consistently emerge from far-right governments and it’s very unclear what the oligarchs are going to do about that in the long-run. Especially since trashing the global economy appears to be an integral part of any sort of oligarch agenda. Impoverishing the planet isn’t going to do you much good if the next generation doesn’t share your vision for the future. Now they’re just poor and pissed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 3, 2013, 10:30 am
  5. A great example of what’s wrong with modern economic thought: The CS Monitor has a op-ed column by an PhD economist and member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (so he’s basically an anarchocapitalist) celebrating the shuttering of graduate education programs. The main reason for the positive response to the news? Grad schools don’t churn out enough Libertarians. Even the Libertarians agree that Libertarianism is incompatible with higher education:

    CS Monitor
    Are graduate programs a waste of time and money?

    Those pursuing academic careers face the prospect of earning a precarious living as an “untenured” adjunct professor, hectically shuttling between teaching assignments at different universities and earning a meager living for their trouble.

    By Joseph Salerno / December 17, 2012

    Emory University in Atlanta Georgia has stirred up student and faculty protests with its plan to cut revenue losing academic programs. The plan includes suspending admission to its Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts and to graduate programs in Spanish and economics. Mothballing graduate programs is a magnificent development for a number of reasons and we can only hope that it signals the beginning of a trend among cash-strapped universities.

    Graduate programs are enormously costly to maintain because graduate students receive huge subsidies in the form of a tuition waiver plus graduate or teaching assistantships that pay stipends that reportedly can run as high as $30,000 per year. In most cases, the taxpayer is footing a large part of the bill. Not only are most large research universities with graduate programs state-owned institutions, but the Federal government also subsidizes low cost loans to graduate students and bestows huge grants on faculty at research universities that are used to hire graduate assistants. Not surprisingly this massive government subsidy leads to artificially prolonged stays in graduate school, which cause an enormous misallocation of resources and loss of productivity in the economy as many students who will never complete their doctorates delay the start of productive careers for many years. According to a recent study, only 25 percent of Ph.D. students complete their doctorates in 5 years and only 45 percent in 7 years. Completion rates are even lower in the social sciences and the humanities.

    The government subsidization of graduate education also explains why many who do complete their doctorates and have aspirations to work in higher education confront markets glutted with job seekers, especially in the humanities and social sciences. If they persist in pursuing an academic career, they then face the prospect of earning a precarious living as an “untenured” adjunct professor, hectically shuttling between teaching assignments at different universities and earning a meager living for their trouble. They, and society at large, would be better off if they had never been lured into enrolling in graduate school and had chosen a different career path, for instance, in the insurance business.

    The main reason for welcoming the demise of graduate education, however, is that most “professional” social scientists, including economists, are apologists for state intervention into society and the economy, and have been since the origin of formal graduate education in mid-19th century Germany. Economics by its very nature is a vocation and most prominent economists in the 18th and much of the 19th centuries had a “day job” and no doctorate. Not coincidentally, these “vocational” economists generally tended to support laissez-faire policies. The professionalization of economics and other social sciences via graduate programs, which spread from Germany to France, Great Britain and the United States in the late 19th century, was driven by the increasing demands of interventionist and militarist governments for experts and specialists to advise on and plan the expanding programs of the emerging Welfare-Warfare States of the twentieth century. For their part, social scientists, most of whom faced a precarious existence on the free market, were all too eager to accept the prestige, power and the steady income offered by government positions. Ludwig von Mises eloquently depicted the connection between professional economists and government interventionism in 1949:

    Oh well, at least he wasn’t attacking all college education

    It doen seem like we’ve entered a new post-Reagan form of far-right populist rhetoric: The age of the nihilistic all stick/no carrot approach to appealing to the masses. At least Reagan sold the lie that we could all be successful if we just got government out of the way. But it’s like the only we see offered by today’s breed of Libertarianism is the offer that “you too could become a billionaire! And you had better, because there is no hope for a decent life otherwise. So start your business now kids or get ready for a life of poverty!” And the kids are suppose to embrace this attack on their futures as a form of liberation. That’s their sales pitch. It’s weird.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 18, 2013, 9:14 am
  6. Lol, when even The Daily Caller thinks a policy sounds so callously crazy and cruel to workers that it deserves a rebuke, The Daily Caller probably is right. If your Salafist allies think you haven’t been crazy enough, on the other hand, they’re probably wrong. Reality is anti-crazy, hence the asymmetry.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 19, 2013, 8:09 am
  7. For monsters that feed on the pain and suffering of others starving someone to death is a favorite dish. But when complete starvation isn’t an option chronic hunger and malnutrition will suffice. It’s not exactly a nutritious or healthy diet of pain and suffering but you can survive:

    Hullabaloo
    Let them eat garbage
    Wednesday, June 19, 2013
    by digby

    This is not a joke. Some well-fed congressional staffer says that Food Stamps are too generous and to prove it he goes to the store, buys a bunch of garbage and basically tells the poor to eat it and shut up:

    Donny Ferguson (no relation to this reporter), an aide to outspoken right-wing congressman Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) claims that people who say that the Special Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, isn’t enough to live on are lying and that the program should be cut even further. Think Progress flagged a Stockman press release in which Ferguson said he believed that the weekly allotment of food for one person of $31.50 is too generous because he claims was able to purchase a week’s worth of food for $27.58.

    “I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps. I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself,” Ferguson said in the release. “I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling.”

    Ferguson was reacting to the “SNAP Challenge,” in which Democratic legislators and activists are protesting proposed cuts to the newest Farm Bill, which would slash benefits to people on SNAP. To protest the cuts, people taking the challenge will attempt to live for a week on the amount of food money allotted to people who receive SNAP benefits, $31.50 a week, or $4.50 per day.

    Stockman’s office called the challenge “a left-wing publicity stunt” and claimed “Democrats have been intentionally buying overpriced food and shopping at high-priced chains to make it appear the cuts go too far.”

    With his $27.58, Ferguson purchased:

    Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
    Three cans of red beans and rice
    Jar of peanut butter
    Bottle of grape jelly
    Loaf of whole wheat bread
    Two cans of refried beans
    Box of spaghetti
    Large can of pasta sauce
    Two liters of root beer
    Large box of popsicles
    24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
    Eight cups of applesauce
    Bag of pinto beans
    Bag of rice
    Bag of cookies
    Gallon milk
    Box of instant oatmeal

    He apparently thinks that people should live on beans and rice (both canned and dried, he likes it so much!) some cheap pasta, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and junk food full of sugar. No fresh vegetables, no meat (not even canned), no eggs, no condiments, no fresh fruit, no oil, not even a box of real oatmeal.

    Note that Representative Sockman used to be homeless himself. He also used to be considered too crazy for Congress. That was then, this is now:

    The Washington Post
    A House radical is now in the mainstream
    By Dana Milbank,January 15, 2013

    When I covered Congress in the mid-1990s, one of my favorite characters was Steve Stockman, a former street vagrant who somehow got swept to power in the Republican Revolution of ’94.

    Voters in his Texas district, realizing their mistake, swept him out two years later — but not before he distinguished himself by demanding a federal investigation of the 1948 Kinsey Report on male sexuality and by claiming that the deadly 1993 assault on the Branch Davidians was a Clinton administration conspiracy to tighten gun control.

    So it was with a mix of nostalgia and delight that I came across a headline on the news Web site Talking Points Memo this week proclaiming, “GOP Rep. Threatens Impeachment If Obama Uses Executive Order on Guns.” It turns out that congressman is ….. Steve Stockman. Sixteen years and one failed run for railroad commissioner later, he’s back in the halls of Congress.

    But there is a key difference in Stockman’s second act, and it says less about him than about our politics. Back then, he proved too much even for the ’94 revolutionaries; his classmates came to shun him and voters in his competitive district sent him packing. But this time, Texas has redrawn its political boundaries, and Stockman’s new seat is safe. What’s more, his views, outlandish in the House of 1995, are more at home in the House of 2013. On Tuesday night, Stockman was one of 179 House Republicans to vote against aid to Hurricane Sandy’s victims.

    All these years later, Stockman can still bring the crazy. The problem is he’s now just one of many purveyors.

    In his first few days back, Stockman has picked up where he left off. In addition to his threat to seek impeachment of President Obama if he issues executive orders on guns, he voted “present” rather than cast his ballot to elect John Boehner speaker, complaining that the Republican leader cooperated with “a liberal White House that has outmaneuvered him at every turn.” He also introduced legislation that would end gun-free zones around schools.

    By his own account, Stockman spent time homeless as a young man, sleeping in a Fort Worth park, looking for food in trash cans and going by the street name “Max.” He has been jailed more than once, he has said in interviews, and was charged with a felony after one such incident when authorities found Valium in his pants; he said a girlfriend put the pills there, and the charge was later reduced.

    Now back in office, Stockman has hit the ground running. Again working with the Gun Owners of America, a group that makes the National Rifle Association seem moderate by comparison, he introduced the “Safe School Act” that would repeal federal laws banning guns from school zones. “The time has come to end the deadly experiment of disarming peaceable, law-abiding citizens near schools,” he said in a letter to colleagues.

    And, a week into his new term, now comes the impeachment threat. Stockman said Obama’s plan to issue executive orders as part of his gun-violence package is “an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic.” If Obama can do this, he said, “our free republic has effectively ceased to exist.” In the news release accompanying his threat, he attached an image of a cannon and the words “come and take it.”

    Yes, that’s the same Stockman I found so entertaining back in the ’90s. What’s frightening is he no longer sounds like an outlier.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 20, 2013, 10:20 am
  8. Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 24, 2013, 9:09 pm
  9. The best part of this grand anti-volunteerism approach to alleviating poverty is that when all the teenagers that are currently volunteering at the homeless shelter quit volunteering and get a minimum wage job instead, apparently all the homeless people will also go out and get minimum wage jobs too. It’s an employment twofer! At least, that’s the theory. It happens to be junk theory:

    Think Progress
    Wall Street Journal Op-Ed: Homeless Shelter Volunteers Are The Real Cause Of Homelessness

    By Scott Keyes on Jul 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    According to a hedge fund manager writing in the Wall Street Journal, homelessness isn’t caused by deep-seated inequities in society, but rather by people like his teenage son who volunteer at homeless shelters.

    Andy Kessler, who founded the billion-dollar Palo Alto investment firm Velocity Capital Management, penned an op-ed Monday in which he mocked young people for volunteering, arguing that they were delusional for thinking their efforts would make a difference. Instead, Kessler contended, they should try to make as much money as possible and trust that economic growth will help the world more than volunteering.

    To illustrate his argument, Kessler points to his 16-year-old son, who has been volunteering at a homeless shelter. Though his son wants to do good, Kessler writes that it’s volunteers like him who are keeping homeless people on the streets “because someone is feeding, clothing and, in effect, bathing them.” The answer, instead, is old-fashioned trickle-down economics:

    My 16-year-old son volunteers with an organization that feeds the homeless and fills kits with personal-hygiene supplies for them. It’s a worthwhile project, and I tell him so—but he doesn’t like it when our conversation on the way to his minimum-wage job turns to why these homeless folks aren’t also working. Perhaps, I suggest, because someone is feeding, clothing and, in effect, bathing them? […]

    Given the massive wealth created in the U.S. economy over the past 30-plus years, it’s understandable that the mantra of the guilty generation is sustainability and recycling. But obsessing over carbon footprints and LEED certifications and free-range strawberries and charging for plastic bags will not help the world nearly as much as good old-fashioned economic growth. Gen-G will wise up to the reality that the way to improve lives is to get to work. If Woodstockers figured this out, so will they—as soon as they get over their guilt.

    Note that while Mr. Kessler’s approach to curing homelessness by gutting aid to the poor could maybe, *possibly*, lead to some homeless people finding employment at a minimum wage job, there’s really no reason to assume that getting that job will actually get them a home.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 9, 2013, 2:48 pm
  10. More fun with Libertarian economics, ethics, and poverty:

    Alicus blog
    Friday, July 19, 2013
    LIBERTARIANS, THEY’RE LOVIN’ IT!
    Posted by roy edroso at 2:23 PM

    Ah, Megan McArdle is at Bloomberg now. Let’s see what she’s up to — oh yeah, that McDonald’s how-to-survive-on-our-shitty-pay thing. Guess what, McArdle sides with McDonald’s! (Her husband’s right, these scripts are getting awfully predictable.)

    Moreover, a number of people are claiming that this budget is not merely unkind, but downright Draconian — “the amounts specified in this budget just aren’t enough to get by, at least not safely,” Irregular Times says.

    This seems overdramatic; $24,000 in after-tax dollars is not princely. But it doesn’t put you at significant risk of death or dismemberment. While $800 a month is not a lot to have for clothes, entertainment, groceries and sundries, even taking inflation into account, that was a lot more than the disposable income I had when I first started at The Economist. After student loans, rent and taxes, I had about $300 for everything else, including utilities and MetroCards.

    Young career-tracker with a starter job at The Economist, McDonald’s employee = pretty much the same thing.

    If you are a middle-class professional, and you attempt to imagine replicating your own lifestyle on McDonald’s wages, you are bound to feel panic and outrage. But that’s not actually the task facing people who work at McDonald’s, or people with a household after-tax income of about $24,000 a year.

    Yeah, they’re never going to need just the right shoes for a gala reception, so their needs are different.

    The McDonald’s workforce skews young. The average age of a fast-food worker is almost 30 right now, but that’s because of the recession; in 2000, it was 22. The average McDonald’s line worker is not planning to put two kids through college on their salary. Only a minority are trying to support just themselves exclusively on their minimum-wage paycheck; they are living with a spouse or partner who makes at least as much as they do, or with parents or other relatives who make more than minimum wage. Moreover, very few people stay in entry-level minimum-wage jobs for very long (though again, the Great Recession has made this happen more than it used to); those workers eventually get promoted or leave for a more promising job.

    Sorry, had to go to the “emphasis added” there; I didn’t want you to miss the use of McArdle’s trademarked “the facts support me except for the parts that don’t, which I dismiss by naming them” process. Also, funny as I find the idea that shit wages are okay for these people because they can always get their uncle in North Dakota to send them money orders, it’s nothing compared to this:

    Those who don’t [advance] — who actually try to support a family on minimum-wage paychecks — will end up with substantial government support. They’ll get the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Earned Income Tax Credit and, in many places, they will now be eligible for Medicaid.

    For one thing, these are programs McArdle’s fellow conservatarians are working hard to get rid of. For another and more to the point, this sort of employer exploitation of public assistance is famously what’s keeping the whole crap-job paradigm alive. It like defending a con game by saying, “but if you shut it down, how’s the con man going to make any money?”

    McArdle can’t resist adding that you silly elitists can’t understand: “There are millions of people in this country doing it,” she says. “Keep in mind that most McDonald’s workers don’t live close to New York City or Washington… Survival on such a lean budget is possible because people who do it are not trying to live the atomized life of an upper-middle-class college graduate.” Woo, that’s telling those of us who have our own bathrooms! We get something similar at the Washington Post from McArdle’s fellow conservatarian Timothy B. Lee — but first let me quote my favorite part:

    The budget allocates $0 for heat. This could be realistic in some Southern states…

    Well, at least the McDonald’s employees in some Southern states will be able to save on heating costs (presumably they’ll migrate North with the birds during the summer months). Plus, retirement is sort of optional nowadays, so it’s not like we should expect our 30+ year old McDonald’s employees to save for such frivolities. Ditto for their kids’ college funds.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 20, 2013, 2:04 pm
  11. Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana governor and the new head of Purdue University, is coming under criticism for an attempt to purge the training state educators of liberal “propaganda”:

    Mitch Daniels: I Just Wanted To Keep Kids From Reading Howard Zinn

    By TOM LoBIANCO 07/19/13 06:50 PM ET EDT

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Friday stood by his efforts to keep liberal historian Howard Zinn’s work from being taught in Indiana schools, saying the actions he took while governor were meant to keep the book out of the hands of K-12 students.

    Meanwhile, the university’s board of trustees threw their support behind the former politician, approving a $58,000 bonus to reward him for his first six months on the job.

    Daniels told reporters after a meeting of the board that a statement he made as governor that Indiana should “disqualify the propaganda” he saw being used in Indiana’s teacher preparation courses was meant only to keep Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” from being taught in the state’s K-12 classrooms.

    “The question is, would this lead to this material being taught to innocent school children? I promise that if the parents of Indiana understood what was in the book in question, 99 if not 100 out of 100 would want some other book used,” Daniels said after the trustees’ meeting on the West Lafayette campus.

    Daniels has come under fire in academic circles for the 2010 emails, which were obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

    After learning that Zinn’s book was being used in a summer teacher training course at Indiana University, Daniels signed off on education adviser David Shane’s proposal to review university courses across the state to determine what should count as credit.

    “Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don’t the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc.,” Daniels wrote.

    After being told Zinn’s work was being used at Indiana University in a course for teachers on the Civil Rights, feminist and labor movements, Daniels wrote:

    “This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn’t?”

    Critics say the emails support their contention that he is not qualified to lead a major university.

    But supporters say Daniels was right to challenge the use of Zinn’s work, which addresses American history from the viewpoint of those whose plights he said were often omitted from most history textbooks. It has been widely criticized by many conservatives and scholars and characterized by historian Eugene D. Genovese as “incoherent left-wing sloganizing.”

    The American Historical Association, a nonpartisan group that sets academic standards of review and publication for historians nationwide, on Friday issued a statement saying it “deplores the spirit and intent” of Daniels’ emails. The association said it considered any governor’s effort to interfere with an individual teacher’s reading assignments “inappropriate and a violation of academic freedom.”

    “Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of Howard Zinn’s text, and whatever the criticisms that have been made of it, we believe that the open discussion of controversial books benefits students, historians, and the general public alike. Attempts to single out particular texts for suppression from a school or university curriculum have no place in a democratic society,” the statement read.

    Daniels says he is a firm supporter of academic freedom.

    Since taking over at Purdue, Daniels has hosted a lecture on speech suppression at universities nationwide, and he sent an “open letter” to the Purdue community in January saying universities have squashed free speech rather than encourage it.

    Don’t worry Mitch. Once the far-right’s public education “reform” efforts are completed in this country, you’ll have all the “academic freedom” one could ever desire:

    Ron Paul launches libertarian-edged home school curriculum
    Published April 08, 2013
    FoxNews.com

    Ron Paul is retired from public office but has found a new way to spread his libertarian message – an online, home-school program that is based on the “history of liberty” and teaches the “biblical principles of self-government.”

    The former Texas Republican congressman and three-time presidential candidate is offering the program, called the “Ron Paul Curriculum,” free to parents and students in kindergarten through fifth grade. However, Paul, following his own belief in a free-market economy, is charging those wishing to continue through the 12th grade.

    The 77-year-old Paul — whose spirited 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns inspired legions of young libertarians — has assembled a faculty-staff that includes author Tom Woods.

    “For people who have been wondering what Ron Paul has been up to since retiring from Congress, then here’s your answers,” Woods said in announcing the start of the program. “This, I am convinced, will prove to be Ron Paul’s most significant contribution to the cause of liberty.”

    The program includes instructional videos to help teach the eclectic curriculum — with generic classes ranging from reading to note-taking to public speaking, as well as more Ron Paul-esque courses like Austrian School economics. From the candidate whose online support base helped drive his campaigns is also a class on how to start a YouTube channel.

    Paul, a Libertarian presidential candidate in 1988, has also brought on Gary North, his first Capitol Hill research assistant, to be development director of the Ron Paul Curriculum.

    Not missing an opportunity to question authority, the Paul team dismisses the program’s lack of government accreditation and textbooks, which they say are “screened by committees.”

    North calls such accreditation “an illegitimate infringement on the right of parents to educate their children.” And another North essay on the school website is titled: “Accreditation: Should We Crawl on Our Bellies to the State?”

    Well it’s a relief that Mitch Daniels is ridding at least one state of the pernicious influence of Howard Zinn’s ideas on innocent minds. Exposure to Zinn’s dangerous ideas could wreak havoc on proper acceptance of Austrian School economic principles. And it’s a good sign that Ron Paul added Christian Reconstructionist Gary North to his team. The courses in history and government should be totally awesome.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 20, 2013, 3:14 pm
  12. Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 24, 2013, 6:53 pm
  13. I’ve tried to comment in the past but haven’t been able to get past whatever/whoever moderates this board.

    Thus far I’ve managed to listen to most of the available audio posts at this site. It took me about three years to do this. The level of research and documentation is remarkable. From the beginning, right up to the most recent FTR program, Dave Emory seems to be making every effort to be objective, and it’s impressive that he’s always careful to distinguish his own speculation from the historical material and current news reports he cites. All the material on the Underground Reich is consistent with other research I’m aware of… especially that of Loftus and Aarons.

    Reading many of the comments found at the various posts on this site, I’m a bit confused by the consistent hostility against Capitalism. There’s a great deal of equivocation on this term, and a tendency to assume that Capitalism is in all cases the same as Fascism. Do those who rail against Capitalism prefer Communism, Socialism, and/or Progressive-ism? These systems also tend to produce Fascism.

    Again referring to the comments… the Austrian School of economics is also frequently presented as the source of Fascism. Many comments against the Austrian School remind me of fundamentalist preachers railing against “The Devil”, repeating slogans and speaking in absolutist terms. It seems to me that those who take this position are merely engaging in polemics, and in fact don’t really know much about the Austrian School.

    None of the above takes away from the legitimate criticism of those who use government to monopolize industry and impose taxes that limit choice.

    I’d like to hear Dave Emory (not those who comment here) explain more about the type of government and economic system he thinks would best serve the interests of the majority. At this point, I think Dave is best described as a “Classical Liberal”, more of a Libertarian than a Progressive (as the term “Progressive” is used these days).

    Respectfully,
    WB

    Posted by WB | October 1, 2013, 12:47 pm
  14. @WB–

    Thanks for paying attention to this website.

    I don’t have time to respond at length and in detail to your comment.

    I will simply say that commenters are not opposed to capitalism, pe se, though some may be.

    The perspective presented here is anti-fascist.

    Mussolini, who coined the term, said “Il fascsmo e il corporatismo”–“Fascism is corporatism.”

    Another way of thinking about it would be to say that “fascism is capitalism on full auto.”

    My ideal form of government was embodied in the administrations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    President Kennedy would have realized the same type of governance, had he been allowed to live.

    I suggest that you spend a considerable amount of time reading some of the books that are available for download for free.

    They will illustrate much, including the difference between fascism and totalitarian socialist governments such as those msanifested by Stalin and Mao.

    Cheers,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | October 1, 2013, 4:18 pm
  15. Dave… Really appreciate your personal response and clarification.

    I’ve downloaded all the source materials (pdfs of books) you’ve made available. And I’ve suggested that several professional researchers and writers I know pay close attention to your work and these books.

    Personally, I’m opposed to “The Corporate State” in whatever form it takes. I think the U.S. Constitution and the form of government it specifies is the best way to go. That the Corporations were able to get a monopoly on the rights intended for living persons is a legal mistake and an historical tragedy. As somebody said “you can’t open the door for a Corporation”.

    Interesting that you see FDR as embodying the ideal form of government. My Grandfather thought FDR walked on water. John Loftus’s “Secret War Against the Jews” documents a great deal of this. When it first came out, this book had a big impact on Jews across the spectrum. One of the things that distinguishes your work is the fact that you’ve had him on your show several times.

    Ealier today I listened to your most recent show. As you’ve done with other issues, your perspective on Snowden is eye-opening and challenges some of my assumptions about Ron Paul and his crowd. Most troubling is the connection with the active Nazi groups, and the fact that he conceals this.

    Glad you’re back in the saddle and hope you keep up your work. Thanks again for the personal response.

    Respectfully,
    WB

    Posted by WB | October 2, 2013, 7:45 am
  16. Notice how things like “ending global poverty and the other conditions that lead to hopelessness and radicalization” or “curtailing the massive global small arms tradedon’t appear to be on the anti-terrorism solution list:

    ABC News
    Exclusive: After Westgate, Interpol Chief Ponders ‘Armed Citizenry’
    Oct. 21, 2013
    By JOSH MARGOLIN

    Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said today the U.S. and the rest of the democratic world is at a security crossroads in the wake of last month’s deadly al-Shabab attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya – and suggested an answer could be in arming civilians.

    In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Noble said there are really only two choices for protecting open societies from attacks like the one on Westgate mall where so-called “soft targets” are hit: either create secure perimeters around the locations or allow civilians to carry their own guns to protect themselves.

    “Societies have to think about how they’re going to approach the problem,” Noble said. “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”

    Noble’s comments came only moments after the official opening of the 82nd annual gathering of the Interpol’s governing body, the General Assembly. The session is being held in Cartagena, Colombia, and is being used to highlight strides over the last decade in Colombia’s battle against the notorious drug cartels that used to be the real power in the country.

    The secretary general, an American who previously headed up all law enforcement for the U.S. Treasury Department, told reporters during a brief news conference that the Westgate mall attack marks what has long been seen as “an evolution in terrorism.” Instead of targets like the Pentagon and World Trade Center that now have far more security since 9/11, attackers are focusing on sites with little security that attract large numbers of people.

    At least 67 were killed over a period of days at the Westgate mall, more than 60 of the dead were civilians. The Somalia-based al Qaeda-allied terror group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack as it was ongoing but investigators are still trying to determine exactly who planned the strike, where they are and what is next for them. U.S. authorities in Uganda, fearing another similar incident in Africa, issued a warning late last week.

    Citing a recent call for al Qaeda “brothers to strike soft targets, to do it in small groups,” Noble said law enforcement is now facing a daunting task.

    “How do you protect soft targets? That’s really the challenge. You can’t have armed police forces everywhere,” he told reporters. “It’s Interpol’s view that one way you protect soft targets is you make it more difficult for terrorist to move internationally. So what we’re trying to do is to establish a way for countries … to screen passports, which are a terrorist’s best friend, try to limit terrorists moving from country to country. And also, that we’re able to share more info about suspected terrorists.”

    In the interview with ABC News, Noble was more blunt and directed his comments to his home country.

    “Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Col., if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly?” Noble said, referring to states with pro-gun traditions. “What I’m saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.”

    “For me it’s a profound question,” he continued. “People are quick to say ‘gun control, people shouldn’t be armed,’ etc., etc. I think they have to ask themselves: ‘Where would you have wanted to be? In a city where there was gun control and no citizens armed if you’re in a Westgate mall, or in a place like Denver or Texas?'”

    So the solution to the most nations most vulnerable to terrorism, in particular poor, developing nations, is either a police-state or the removal all “soft targets” by arming everyone? It will be interesting to hear the NRA’s Interpol’s views on cybersecurity.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 21, 2013, 2:26 pm
  17. Paul Ryan: Pope of the Church of the Infallible Free-Market:

    The Rachel Maddow Show
    ‘Champion of the poor’?
    12/20/13 03:45 PM—Updated 12/20/13 06:27 PM

    By Steve Benen

    Just last month, the Washington Post ran a surprisingly uncritical, front-page article on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), celebrating the congressman for his efforts “fighting poverty and winning minds.” The gist of the piece was that the far-right congressman is entirely sincere about using conservative ideas – both economic and spiritual – to combat poverty.

    BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins is thinking along similar lines.

    Until recently, Paul Ryan would have seemed like an improbable pick to lead the restoration of compassionate conservatism with a heartfelt mission to the poor. Of all the caricatures he has inspired – from heroic budget warrior to black-hearted Scrooge – “champion of the poor” has never been among them. And yet, Ryan has spent the past year quietly touring impoverished communities across the country with Woodson, while his staff digs through center-right think tank papers in search of conservative policy proposals aimed at aiding the poor. Next spring, Ryan plans to introduce a new battle plan for the war on poverty – one he hopes will launch a renewed national debate on the issue. […]

    [T]hose closest to him say Ryan’s new mission is the result of a genuine spiritual epiphany – sparked, in part, by the prayer in Cleveland, and sustained by the emergence of a new pope who has lit the world on fire with bold indictments of the “culture of prosperity” and a challenge to reach out the weak and disadvantaged.

    Well, if those closest to Paul Ryan think we should see his concern for the poor as heartfelt, who am I to argue?

    All kidding aside, I don’t know the congressman personally, and can’t speak to his sincerity. But ultimately, whether or not Ryan had a “genuine spiritual epiphany” doesn’t much matter – either the Wisconsinite has a policy agenda that will make a difference in the lives of those in poverty or he doesn’t.

    And at least for now, he doesn’t. Though we have not yet seen the agenda Ryan intends to unveil in the spring, we’ve seen reports that his vision “relies heavily on promoting volunteerism and encouraging work through existing federal programs, including the tax code.” He’s also reportedly focused on “giving poor parents vouchers or tax credits” for private education.

    In other words, Ryan’s post-epiphany agenda is likely to be awfully similar to his pre-epiphany agenda.

    What’s more, we’ve also seen plenty of other policy measures from the congressman. As we talked about in November, this is the same congressman whose original budget plan was simply brutal towards families in poverty, the same congressman who supports deep cuts to food stamps, the same congressman who wants to scrap Social Security and Medicare; and the same congressman who’s balked at raising the minimum wage and extending federal unemployment benefits.

    If Paul Ryan is the new model for the Republican Party’s anti-poverty crusader, struggling families should be terrified.

    Postscript: Peter Flaherty, a devout Catholic and former Romney adviser, told BuzzFeed, “What Pope Francis is doing is, instead of changing Catholicism, he’s changing the way the world views Catholicism… And I think Paul has the opportunity to do something similar for conservatism.”

    Oh my.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 21, 2013, 7:58 pm
  18. You have to wonder if Ayn Rand would have still been an atheist if she was still alive today. Especially if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby and opens the floodgates for religious corporate personhood. Maybe she wouldn’t personally believe in the religion, but it must be getting tempting for Objectivists to suddenly find religion:(link corrected from original)

    Hullabaloo
    The Hobby Lobby Slippery Slope
    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    by digby

    No, it’s not just about birth control:

    As we noted yesterday in our post about Bryan Fischer interviewing Rep. Michele Bachmann, a group of conservative leaders – including Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, and David Barton – have gathered for a Religious Right event in Iowa aimed at mobilizing pastors called “Rediscover God In America.”

    The event is being webcast by the American Family Association and last night David Barton got the festivities underway by explaining to the audience that all of our economic and tax policies ought to be dictated by the Bible … and that means getting rid of the minimum wage because it was opposed by Jesus (Barton didn’t actually cite the passage he uses to support this claim in this presentation, but it is Matthew 20:1-16)

    And that’s not all:

    Religious Right activist David Barton promotes his version of American exceptionalism (America was created by its divinely inspired founders as a country of, by, and for evangelical Christians) and biblical capitalism (Jesus and the Bible oppose progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and minimum wage laws). Claiming divine backing is a long-standing Religious Right technique with a powerful political edge: if God supports radically limited government, then progressive policies are not only wrong but evil, and liberals are not only political opponents but enemies of God.

    On a conference call with pastors two days after the November 2010 elections to celebrate conservative victories, Barton asserted a biblical underpinning for far-right economic policies: Taxation and deficit spending amount to theft, a violation of the Ten Commandments. The estate tax is “absolutely condemned” by the Bible as the “most immoral” of taxes. Jesus had “teachings” condemning the capital gains tax and minimum wage.

    Barton also enlists Jesus in the war against unions and collective bargaining. According to Barton, a parable from the 20th chapter of the book of Matthew about the owner of a vineyard making different arrangements with workers was about “the right of private contract” – in other words, the right of employers to come to individual agreements with each employee. Jesus’ parable, he said, is “anti-minimum wage” and “anti-socialist-union kind of stuff.”

    I am going to guess that if the Supremes rule that corporations have a right to refuse to follow laws if they believe they interfere with their “religious liberty” they will be able to find a Bible verse supporting every single item on the 1%’s agenda. It’s a big book.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 26, 2014, 1:01 pm
  19. Bobby Jindal, the governor that recently replaced Louisiana’s public school system with some sort of far right charter schools dreamland that’s heavily geared towards teaching creationism, wants you to know that there’s a war on religious liberty, a rebellion is brewing, and the people are ready for a “hostile takeover” of DC:

    Jindal says rebellion brewing against Washington

    By CONNOR RADNOVICH
    Associated Press
    Jun 22, 1:31 AM EDT

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for “a hostile takeover” of the nation’s capital.

    Jindal spoke at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed. Organizers said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders attended the three-day gathering. Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical voters continue to play a critical role in GOP politics.

    “I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

    The governor said there was a “silent war” on religious liberty being fought in the U.S. – a country that he said was built on that liberty.

    “I am tired of the left. They say they’re for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them,” he said. “The left is trying to silence us and I’m tired of it, I won’t take it anymore.”

    Earlier this week, Jindal signed an executive order to block the use of tests tied to Common Core education standards in his state, a position favored by tea party supporters and conservatives. He said he would continue to fight against the administration’s attempts to implement Common Core.

    “The federal government has no role, no right and no place dictating standards in our local schools across these 50 states of the United States of America,” Jindal said.

    While you may have been tempted to conclude that this was a conference arranged by David Lane based on the theocratic rumblings and violent undertones. No, it was a Ralph Reed event. The David Lane event where Jindal talked about the war on religion was last month.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 23, 2014, 12:22 pm
  20. One of the open questions regarding the future of both the GOP and the US political system in general is how the far right is going to manage to finesse a transition from a base that’s politically driven by ideologies rooted in religious fundamentalism to a more exclusively libertarian party. How does a movement maintain its internal integrity when such a fundamental shift is required to keep the movement alive? That’s not necessarily easy. But as this piece on Richard Mellon Scaife highlights, if the movement is design by and for elites and rooted in hucksterism, self-deception, and Ayn Rand, the shift may not be as difficult as one might imagine:

    Political Research Associates
    “Libertarian Scaife” and His Religious Right Legacy
    By Rachel Tabachnick, on July 15, 2014

    Richard Mellon Scaife was the “epitome of a libertarian,” or at least, that’s how he was described in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review following his death on July 4. “Libertarian Scaife” is apparently how he wished to be remembered in the city where many of the landmarks bear his famous family’s name. But Scaife’s redefinition as a libertarian is belied by his decades of funding, including as funder of the architect of the religious and political right alliance and religio-political think tanks.

    The libertarian portrayal of Scaife in the newspaper that he owned, including quotes from his long-time lawyer describing him as the defender of “free speech, freedom of the press, the separation of church and state, a woman’s right to choose, and other individual liberties,” is in contrast with “Citizen Scaife,” the title of the Columbia Journalism Review’s multi-part 1981 profile. The series portrayed Scaife as a “funding father” of the emerging New Right.

    At that time, the foundations Scaife controlled were the leading source of seed money for two dozen New Right organizations, and funding for neoconservative military and intelligence think tanks.

    And there is another not-so-libertarian legacy of Scaife’s funding that was not mentioned in most of his obituaries.

    “Libertarian Scaife” empowered the Religious Right

    He did not do it alone, nor was he the first plutocrat to fund the enlistment of amenable religious leaders as partners to roll back the New Deal, or to make use of John Birch Society-style Christian Nationalism to attack unions and the regulatory system.

    That list covers more than a half century and has included Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew, textile magnate Roger Milliken, and Fred Koch. But few have been better at the behind-the-scenes funding of this partnership than Scaife. The outcome of his actions? An empowered Religious Right, who today prefer the term “constitutional conservative” to describe their wing of the GOP.

    The Scaife-controlled foundations—the Sarah Scaife, Allegheny, and Carthage Foundations, run from the 39th floor of the Oxford Centre in Pittsburgh—are at least partially responsible for the consummation of this plutocratic/theocratic partnership. The enigmatic Scaife’s personal activism sometimes conflicted with the unruly offspring of his foundation’s largesse.

    Evidence includes a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal in 2011, with a letter by Scaife calling for conservatives to oppose efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. His passing is an opportunity to ask why Scaife and other billionaires have helped to empower, whether intentionally or not, this theocratic-minded offspring that will long outlive them.

    Richard Viguerie, leading patriarch of the Religious Right, told a Heritage Foundation audience in April that he was more optimistic than ever that “constitutional conservatives” could take over the Republican Party by 2017. Viguerie insisted that their agenda must go beyond rolling back the New Deal and return a pre-Teddy Roosevelt era, and that the enemy was establishment Republicans like Rep. Eric Cantor. Viguerie suggested that Sen. Rand Paul (R) be given the vice presidential slot on the 2016 ticket in order to bring libertarians on board—not really much of a concession since Paul has himself rejected the libertarian label in the past for that of “constitutional conservative” (and is described as the standard bearer of that movement by his former aid and ghost writer Jack Hunter, a.k.a. the “Southern Avenger”).

    Scaife was not a direct funder of Religious Right institutions that are household names (that was left to families like Prince/DeVos and Coors), but he was a major funder of the late Paul Weyrich, shepherd of the Religious Right into GOP politics, and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Council for National Policy. Described as the “Robespierre of the Right,” for his purges of the insufficiently conservative, Weyrich left the Heritage Foundation and started what would become the Free Congress Foundation (FCF). Scaife, who had supplied the bulk of the seed money for Heritage and served as vice president of the board until his death, also funded Weyrich’s FCF—sometimes to the tune of over a million dollars a year.

    This included in 2001, when the FCF published the manifesto “Integration of Theory and Practice,” calling for a new traditionalist movement of conservatives and right-leaning libertarians, and the following.

    “Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions.”

    In a 2005 CSPAN interview about his career, Weyrich said that he could not have done what he did without the help of Dick Scaife.
    [see video]

    Before Scaife paved the way with millions of dollars for conservative infrastructure, the St. Louis Post Dispatch noted, “there was a world where extremist ideas weren’t repackaged as mainstream by outfits like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Judicial Watch, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Cato Institute or the Federalist Society.”

    And Scaife did not stop there. He funded the building of new institutions, but also the destroying of old ones. He extended his impact on American religion by funding entities that undermined denominations and marginalized religious leaders not so amenable to rightwing politics.

    Church & Scaife

    The Scaife foundations funded the institute that published the First Things magazine of leading neoconservative Father Richard John Neuhaus, and the closely allied Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD)—jokingly referred to during the Reagan administration as “the official seminary of the White House.”

    A 2004 exposé by the late Methodist pastor Andrew Weaver was titled “Church & Scaife: Secular Conservative Philanthropies Waging Unethical Campaign to Take Over United Methodist Church.” Weaver described IRD as a pseudo-religious, neo-conservative organization with a goal of undermining the liberal, social and economic justice mission of mainline Protestant denominations. Christian Century exposed the fact that 89 percent of IRD’s early funding came from three foundations, and the largest block from the Scaife foundations. Infiltration of the Mainline Protestant denominations came in the guise of renewal groups, as described by PRA fellow Frederick Clarkson, also featured in the documentary “Renewal or Ruin.”

    The largest single block of funding for think tanks promoting climate change denial has come from Donors Trust, according to a 2013 study by Drexel University, but a close second is the Scaife foundations at over $39 million dollars (well ahead of the funding from the Koch Brothers’ foundations).

    Merging plutocratic interests with religion has been key to promoting climate change denial, including in the 2010 DVD series “Resisting the Green Dragon,” a product of the Cornwall Alliance. The 12-part teaching series, used in churches nationwide and featuring major Religious Right leaders, claims that environmentalism is a religion in opposition to Christianity. Funding is hidden behind Donors Trust, but the Cornwall Alliance is a project of the James Partnership, founded by E. Calvin Beisner, a fellow with several Scaife-funded entities, including the Atlas Economic Research Institute, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and IRD.

    The irreligious Scaife’s molding of religion into the image of right-wing politics was not limited to Christianity. As reported by the Washington Post, Scaife provided the seed money for former Reagan State Department official Elliot Abrams’ 1997 book “Faith or Fear.” Sponsorship of the book was suggested by the president of the Hudson Institute and reportedly prompted by Scaife’s concern that most American Jews remain politically liberal.

    The Pennsylvania Plan

    Partnership between free market fundamentalism and religion was extended to the state level through a network of Heritage Foundation-style think tanks in all 50 states. These are linked through the State Policy Network and ALEC, but also work at the state level with a network of about three dozen state Family Policy Councils, loosely affiliated with the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. This infrastructure is described in The Public Eye articles from 1999 and 2013, including coverage of the “Pennsylvania Plan” model of Don Eberly. Eberly was founder of both the Commonwealth Foundation and the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which work on shared agendas like school privatization.

    In a 1989 speech to the Heritage Foundation, Eberly described the need for initiating both free market and religious tanks at the state and local levels. The Scaife foundations provide funding for both the Commonwealth Foundation and the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a similar think tank for the Pittsburgh area.

    The Enigmatic Scaife

    The libertarian Scaife has been portrayed in obituaries as less zealous in his later years, but the Scaife foundations’ reports show no backing away from right-wing causes, and the efforts to redefine him in his obituaries fail to negate his role as the “funding father” of modern conservatism. Quoting a a column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch,

    “Without those early Scaife-paid efforts, there might have been no Fox News, no tea party, no Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz. …Without the Federalist Society, whose members include four justices of the Supreme Court, there would be no corporate personhood decisions like Citizens United and Hobby Lobby.”

    I would add that without Scaife’s funding, we might not now live in a nation where the interests of a few plutocratic billionaires successfully masquerade as religion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 16, 2014, 9:52 am
  21. Cults rejoice! There’s a boom market coming your way:

    Think Progress
    Judge: Hobby Lobby Decision Means Polygamous Sect Member Can Refuse To Testify In Child Labor Case

    by Ian Millhiser
    Posted on September 16, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Citing Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court’s decision last June holding that the religious objections of a business’ owners could trump federal rules requiring that business to include birth control coverage in its health plan, a federal judge in Utah held last week that a member of a polygamist religious sect could refuse to testify in a federal investigation into alleged violations of child labor laws because he objects to testifying on religious grounds.

    The case involves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a religious sect with as many as 10,000 members. Although the FLDS church splintered from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the domination commonly known as Mormons — due to a century-old dispute over polygamy, the FLDS sect resembles a cult of personality much more than it does any mainstream religion. Warren Jeffs, FLDS’s leader and “prophet,” is currently in prison after he was convicted of sexually assaulting two underage girls — the youngest of whom was 12 years-old — that he claimed have taken as wives. Jeffs taught that African Americans are “the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth,” and he preached that marrying a person of the same sex is “like murder.”

    At one point, he reportedly forbade married couples in his flock from touching each other, whether sexually or otherwise. Instead, appointed 15 men to father all future FLDS babies. When one of these men impregnated a woman, two other men were required to witness the act.

    Yet, according to an order signed by Judge David Sam, a Reagan appointee to a trial court in Utah, the federal officials investigating this alleged violation of child labor laws will not be able to require an FLDS member named Vernon Steed to provide information that could aid the investigation because Steed objects to giving certain testimony on religious grounds. Steed claims that he’s made “religious vows ‘not to discuss matters related to the internal affairs or organization of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’” According to Judge Sam’s opinion, that’s enough to exempt him from providing the testimony he does not want to give.

    Before Hobby Lobby, it’s unlikely that Steed’s claim would prevail. Although a federal law offers fairly robust protections for religious liberty, this law only applies when the federal government “substantially burden[s] a person’s exercise of religion.” Hobby Lobby, however, largely wrote the word “substantially” out of this law.” The Hobby Lobby plaintiffs, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court, “sincerely believe that providing the insurance coverage demanded by the HHS regulations lies on the forbidden side of the line, and it is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.”

    Similarly, Judge Sam concludes based on a single paragraph of analysis that the federal government’s efforts to obtain Steed’s testimony is a “substantial” burden on his faith. The government “has placed substantial pressure on Mr. Steed to engage in conduct contrary to his religious belief because [it] seeks to compel that conduct by court order and imposition of sanctions if he refuses to answer [] questions regarding the internal affairs and organization of the FLDS Church.” That, according to Sam, is forbidden.

    The Supreme Court’s cases prior to Hobby Lobby often recognized thatreligious liberty claims should not be used to disparage the rights of another. Thus, Steed’s claim that he is exempt from testifying would have been especially weak under the law as it existed prior to Hobby Lobby because his failure to testify could endanger children who have a legal right not to be forced into labor. At least according to Judge Sam, however, that equation has now changed.

    In fairness, Judge Sam’s reasoning may not prevent the government from seeking testimony from someone like Steed if such testimony were clearly the only way to pursue the investigation. Rather, Sam claims that the government “failed to show that forcing Mr. Steed to answer the questions offensive to his sincerely held religious beliefs is the least restrictive means to advance any compelling interest it may have.” The judge then lists several other people the government could seek testimony from, including men and women employed by the pecan plantation where the children were allegedly sent to work.

    Nevertheless, Sam’s opinion puts the cart before the horse. The whole reason why federal officials conduct investigations into suspected lawbreaking is that they may not know exactly what illegal actions transpired or who is responsible for them. Steed could have unique information that could identify previously unknown FLDS leaders who played a role in allegedly selling hundreds of children into indentured servitude. Or he may reveal evidence of other illegal activity that took place within a highly secretive religious sect whose leadership is known to sexually exploit its members. If Sam’s opinion stands, however, this evidence will remain hidden on the theory that Steed’s religious interest in staying silent should trump the nation’s interest in ensuring that we leave no stone unturned when investigating allegations of mass exploitation of children.

    So as long as it looks like someone’s testimony isn’t the only way to obtain information, individuals can avoid testifying if they claim its against their religion. Huh. Time to start praying if you want to keep your job, kiddo.

    In related news, a Texas appeals court just ruled that the head of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, won’t have to testify in a case about church harassment of an ex-Scientologist. But it wasn’t Hobby Lobby that got him off the hook. It was the “apex-deposition doctrine”:

    statesman.com
    Scientology head can’t be forced to testify, Texas court rules

    By Chuck Lindell

    Updated: 2:47 p.m. Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Posted: 1:47 p.m. Thursday, July 17, 2014

    American-Statesman Staff

    David Miscavige, head of the Church of Scientology, cannot be forced to testify in a harassment lawsuit filed by the wife of a prominent church critic who lives in Comal County, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

    The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that Monique Rathbun, who alleged that Scientologists conducted a three-year harassment campaign when her husband, Marty Rathbun, began speaking out against church activities, did not prove that Miscavige had “unique or superior knowledge” to offer in a deposition.

    However, the court did not rule out the possibility that “additional, less intrusive means of discovery” could establish Rathbun’s right to force Miscavige to answer questions, under oath, in a future deposition.

    Marty Rathbun is a former high-ranking member who left the Church of Scientology in 2004 and later accused Miscavige of physically and psychologically abusing other church members, court records show.

    In her lawsuit, Monique Rathbun claims church members responded by conducting covert surveillance of their Bulverde-area home, following them with cameras and hiring private investigators to spread disparaging information about her husband under the guise of interviewing family, friends and co-workers.

    Her lawsuit argued that Miscavige, “the unquestioned ruler of all Scientology organizations,” was the only person who could have authorized the activities.

    In its ruling, the 3rd Court of Appeals overturned state District Judge Dib Waldrip’s order allowing Monique Rathbun to depose Miscavige.

    Waldrip’s order, the appeals court ruled, violated the apex-deposition doctrine, which seeks to balance a litigant’s need for information against a high-ranking executive’s right to be protected from expensive, harassing or burdensome depositions.

    “Monique has not demonstrated that deposing Miscavige is likely to lead to (relevant) information … which is not obtainable through less intrusive means,” said Justice Scott Field, writing for the court’s unanimous three-judge panel.

    Interestingly, the “apex-deposition doctrine” has rules that sound pretty similar to the new Hobby Lobby ruling: Executives to can avoid being forced to testify, even if they have personal knowledge of the matter at hand, as along as the information investigators are seeking can potentially be found by deposing someone lower down in the organization:

    Law 360
    A Special Rule for Corporate Exec

    New York (October 08, 2010, 5:22 PM ET) —

    While the U.S. Supreme Court recognized more than a quarter of a century ago the potential abuse that can occur when the deposition of a company executive is notice, the rules of civil procedure in state and federal courts generally allow a party to depose “any person.” See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a).

    A witness generally cannot escape a deposition by claiming lack of knowledge of relevant facts because the party seeking the deposition is entitled to test that lack of knowledge. Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Muller and Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2037 (2d ed. 2009).

    Courts balance liberal discovery rules and the unique burdens placed on high-level officials at the apex of the company whose deposition is sought. Some courts, using what has been termed the “apex doctrine,” balance a party’s right to discovery and an executive’s right to avoid harassment and abuse.

    In general, the apex doctrine prohibits the taking of such depositions of executives unless and until: 1) the plaintiff can show that the deponent has unique or superior knowledge of facts that are relevant to the claim; and 2) alternative methods to obtain the information have been exhausted without success. See, e.g., Baine v. General Motor Corp., 141 F.R.D. 332 (M.D. Ala. 1991).

    Some courts reject the apex rule, but use the traditional rule regarding protective orders to reach the same result. See, e.g., Ex. rel. Ford Motor Co. v. Messina, 71 S. W. 3d 602 (Mo. 2002).

    The burden of proof is not uniformly applied. Some courts place the burden of persuasion on the party seeking the deposition. See, e.g., Liberty Mutual Co., v. Superior Court, 10 Cal. App. 4th 1282, 13 Cal. Rptr. 2d 363 (1992). Other courts place the burden on the party seeking to avoid the deposition. See, Crest Infiniti v. Swinton, 174 P.3d 996 (Okl. 2007).

    So it looks like Hobby Lobby may have extend the “apex-deposition doctrine” to all members of secretive cults. It’s still time to start praying, kiddo.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 17, 2014, 6:19 pm

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