Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Michelle Obama Everywhere!



Michelle Obama has been all over the place lately. Last week she appeared on ABC, dancing a series of "Mom Dances" with Jimmy Fallon in drag, LOL. So when Michelle Obama appeared at the end of the Oscar broadcast Sunday night, Republican Heads Exploded all over the country, but especially on Twitter. Most of the comments were along the lines of "Oh no, not again!" - or at least that's the nicest paraphrase.

It's all about jealousy at this point. Not only is Michelle still living in the White House,  with her husband, the Kenyan-Marxist-Communist President of the United States who beat Mitt Romney in a Landslide, but she always seems to be having fun. The GOP, not so much lately.

One thing is certain, we would never have seen Ann Romney doing the "Dougie" on Late Nite TV. I think we can all agree on that.

80 GOP Leaders Favor Gay Marriage


Amazing developments as groups rush to file Amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs in favor of Gay Marriage before the Supreme Court meets to decide whether such laws are constitutional, specifically California's widely despised Prop 8, which states that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

ABC News
The issue of same sex marriage is dividing the Republican Party as a group of more than 80 prominent members of the GOP ranging from Dick Cheney's daughter to four former governors have signed an amicus brief before the Supreme Court advocating for the legalization of gay marriage.

One of the signers confirmed for ABC News the existence of the brief signed by the Republicans and said it would be submitted to the United States Supreme Court this week. The deadline to submit briefs is Thursday.

. . . Signers included former congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of California, former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and Meg Whitman, who supported Prop 8 when she ran for governor of California in 2010. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Richard Hanna of New York and former GOP national chairman Ken Mehlman also signed. In addition, three former Massachusetts governors -- William Weld, Jane Swift, and Paul Cellucci -- along with former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman are signers. The list also includes Republican attorney and Romney senior adviser Ben Ginsberg and other high profile GOP leaders, strategists, consultants, and staffers.

Some big name supporters of same sex marriage who have not signed the brief include former vice president Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

That's amazing enough, but look at this:

On Thursday, dozens of American corporations, including Apple, Alcoa, Facebook, eBay, Intel, and Morgan Stanley will submit an amicus brief in the landmark Hollingsworth v. Perry case broadly arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that laws banning same-sex marriages, like California's ballot initiative Proposition 8, are unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.
According to a draft copy obtained by Fortune, the companies argue that such laws "send an unmistakeable signal that same-sex couples are in some way inferior to opposite-sex couples, a proposition that is anathema to amici's commitment to equality and fair treatment to all."

At least 60 companies had committed to signing the brief as of Tuesday evening, according to Joshua Rosenkranz, who is counsel of record on the brief and head of the Supreme Court and appellate litigation practice at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. That number is expected to rise by Thursday, however, according to Rosenkranz. Others who have already committed to sign include AIG, Becton Dickinson, Cisco, Cummins, Kimpton, Levi Strauss, McGraw Hill, NCR, Nike, Office Depot, Oracle, Panasonic, Qualcomm, and Xerox.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Has Reality TV Jumped the Shark?


Do we really need 12 shows about Alaska? Or 3 shows about the Amish? And that's just the first letter of the alphabet!

Funny or Die asks the question . . .

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

President Obama on the Sequester


The President today asked Congress to stop fooling around with the Sequester nonsense which would automatically make drastic cuts to many programs come Friday of this week. They can do better than still another man-made crisis during which the GOP does nothing. Legacy? What Legacy? History will remember this, fools.

From the White House ~ Full Remarks at Link
As I said in my State of the Union address last week, our top priority must be to do everything we can to grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs. That’s our top priority. That's our North Star. That drives every decision we make. And it has to drive every decision that Congress and everybody in Washington makes over the next several years.

And that’s why it’s so troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite. It won't help the economy, won't create jobs, will visit hardship on a whole lot of people.

. . . And by the way, the whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can't do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration.

Unfortunately, Congress didn’t compromise. They haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday.

Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.

Monday, February 18, 2013

SNL takes on Rubio, the Pope, Nugent and Fox & Friends



. . .
Thanks to the official "SNL" website for posting the full list of corrections from this week's "Fox & Friends."

  • At no time did our military fight a war against Cobra.
  • The "T" in BLT does not stand for "terrorism."
  • Meteors are not coming to take your guns.
  • It is not Roe vs. Dwayne Wade.
  • Zero Dark Thirty is not a diet soda.
  • The Vatican is not accessible through a wardrobe.
  • Food stamps are not used to mail food.
  • Armadillo is not Spanish for "arms dealer."
  • Navy Seals are not actual seals with laser beams on their heads.
  • "That's not a knife, this is a knife" is not the Australian National Anthem.
  • At no time did the passengers on the Carnival Cruise ship become zombies.
  • Beyonce cannot hypnotize animals.
  • "Adele" is a singer. "A Dell" is a computer.
  • February is a month.
  • Marco Rubio did not bring pasta back from China.
  • The Staten Island Ferry will not give you money for teeth.
  • The real Abraham Lincoln lived longer than 3 hours.
  • More people died from gun violence last year than from walking into elevator shafts.
  • The Constitution did not "write itself."
  • Bruno Mars is from Earth.
  • There are no Americans in the Bible.
  • The tie goes to the runner.
  • Not all amputees kill their girlfriends.
  • Zumba is not a secret form of Santeria.
  • North Korea is not a Cloud City.
  • A "pin code" and a "pine cone" are two different things.
  • The kid on Modern Family did not start out in porn.
  • Joe Biden's teeth are real and do not pick up radio waves.
  • Polar bears are rarely "asking for it."
  • Kobe beef is not meat from the flesh of Kobe Bryant.
  • A "period piece" is not a movie that only plays during one week of the month.
  • Plants are alive, but they cannot watch TV.
  • A transgender is not a car that can be driven by men and women.
  • Kate Upton is not dating a glacier.
  • God does not sneeze electricity.
  • The similar names of the North Dakota and South Dakota are not a coincidence.
  • Even black people love Raymond.
  • Mumford's daughters are not in foster care.

Thousands March to Protest Tar Sands Pipeline and Fracking


For the first time in 120 years the The Sierra Club is urging citizens of the U.S. and Canada to practice Civil Disobedience against the XL Pipeline, planned to carry toxic tar sands from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. This weekend, many protests took place across the country, and celebrities chained themselves to the gates of the White House leading to the arrest of Michael Brune, head of the Sierra Club, Julian Bond, Darryl Hannah, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr..

Protests Across the Country
Thousands of people rallied in downtown San Francisco on Sunday to urge President Obama to reject construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, an action they said would prove he is committed to fighting global warming.
The demonstration across from the Ferry Building was held at the same time as similar events in cities including Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. The main event in Washington, D.C., drew tens of thousands of supporters in what was billed as the largest climate change rally in U.S. history.

Activists Arrested in White House Protest Over XL Pipeline
Celebrities and environmental activists, including lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and civil rights leader Julian Bond, were arrested Wednesday after tying themselves to the White House gate to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune also was arrested – the first time in the group's 120-year history that a club leader was arrested in an act of civil disobedience. The club's board of directors approved the action as a sign of its opposition to the $7 billion pipeline, which would carry oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Activist Bill McKibben, actress Daryl Hannah and NASA climate scientist James Hansen also were arrested, along with more than 40 others. They were charged with failure to disperse and obey lawful orders, and released on $100 bond each.

. . . Kennedy, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a New York-based environmental group, said he was being arrested "with regret," noting that he would prefer to contest the pipeline in court – and may eventually do so.
Kennedy, whose father was an attorney general and U.S. senator, called the pipeline "a boondoggle of monumental proportions" that will "ruin the lives of millions of people," through increased carbon pollution and likely spills.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Elizabeth Warren Shames Bank Regulators


Senator Elizabeth Warren hit the ground running in her first Banking Committee Hearing. She wasted no time lambasting the spineless regulators who are letting off the big banks with fines and slaps on the wrist instead of taking them to trial. Her goal was to expose the weakness of regulators who see fines as enough penalty for the crimes committed, and she pointed out that when these cases aren't taken to trial then no testimony of wrongdoing is ever put down on the record. So in effect, the bankers get off scott-free without any new information that congress could use to improve the banking system.

“I want to note that there are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there everyday squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial to ‘make an example,’ as they put it,” she told bank regulators testifying at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. “I am really concerned that too-big-to-fail has become too-big-for-trial.”

. . . Warren acknowledged that trials are expensive but she insisted that if an agency is unwilling to go to trial it is because they are “too timid” or lack resources. She said that the consequence is that if large financial institutions can break the law and “drag in billions” in profits and settle, then they don’t have much incentive to follow the law.

“Every time there is a settlement and not a trial, it means we didn’t have the days and days and days of testimony about what those financial institutions were up to,” Warren said.

Senator Elizabeth Warren at the Feb. 14, 2013 Banking Committee Hearing titled "Wall Street Reform: Oversight of Financial Stability and Consumer and Investor Protections." The witnesses were: The Honorable Mary Miller, Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, U.S. Department of the Treasury; The Honorable Daniel Tarullo, Governor, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; The Honorable Martin Gruenberg, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; The Honorable Tom Curry, Comptroller, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; The Honorable Richard Cordray, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; The Honorable Elisse Walter, Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; and The Honorable Gary Gensler, Chairman, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Meteorite Hits Russia!


Who needs fiction these days? We have a Pope resigning, a nuclear test by North Korea, a Cruise Ship adrift at sea with people trapped on board for days, and now a meteorite has crashed into Russia, blowing out windows for miles and injuring 400 people or more. Did I mention that there is amazing video of the whole thing, including the delayed sonic booms or earthquakes (or both)?

And it's not the only Meteor expected near the earth today - no, really. Another large one is expected to come so close to earth this afternoon that it will move between our planet and the communications satellites that bring us our TV signals. Scared yet?

As Yoda said, "You Will Be."

Eerie Predictions in this ABC Video from yesterday. They even mention the Tunguska Event in 1908 during which an alleged meteorite crashed into northern Russia with the force of several atomic bombs, leveling trees for hundreds of miles. *shiver*

NASA will be following the giant asteroid today in a Livecast:
...The half-hour broadcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., will incorporate real-time animation to show the location of the asteroid in relation to Earth, along with live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting.
At the time of its closest approach to Earth at approximately 2:25 p.m. EST (11:25 a.m. PST/ 19:25 UTC), the asteroid will be about 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above Earth's surface.
The commentary will be available via NASA TV and streamed live online at:


In addition to the commentary, near real-time imagery of the asteroid's flyby before and after closest approach, made available to NASA by astronomers in Australia and Europe, weather permitting, will be streamed beginning at about noon EST (9 a.m. PST) and continuing through the afternoon at the following website:

A Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be streamed for three hours starting at 9 p.m. EST (8 p.m. CST). To view the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter, visit:

Russian Livejournal with lots of pictures and videos

BBC News
A meteor crashing in the Urals of central Russia has reportedly injured at least 400 people, as the shockwave blew out windows and rocked buildings.

Most of those hurt suffered minor cuts and bruises but some received head injuries, Russian media report.

A fireball was seen streaking through the sky above the city of Yekaterinburg, followed by loud bangs.

The meteor is believed to have landed in a lake near Chebarkul, a town in the neighbouring Chelyabinsk region.

Much of the impact was felt in the city of Chelyabinsk, some 200km (125 miles) south of Yekaterinburg.

"It suddenly became as bright as if it was day”
~ Viktor Prokofiev, Yekaterinburg resident

"We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound," Chelyabinsk resident Sergey Hametov told AP news agency by phone.

Officials say a large meteor partially burned up in the lower atmosphere, resulting in fragments falling earthwards.

This one will make you jump ~ be forewarned! Just brace yourself

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Marco Rubio Flubs GOP Response to SOTU With Terrible Thirst


Source: Daily Kos

You can't make this stuff up. With the whole world watching, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) guzzled his way to infamy last night as he stopped in the middle of the GOP response to the State of the Union to reach off-camera and grab a bottle of water.


While the whole thing is absurd and may seem petty, this was Rubio's big chance to show he is Presidential enough to get the nomination from his party in 2016. And yet all anyone will remember is his dry mouth and overwhelming thirst. He apparently forgot about Bobby Jindal's weak response to the 2009 SOTU, Paul Ryan guzzling water during the Veep Debate, and the Mitt Romney parody on SNL showing him guzzling plain white milk to drown his sorrows. Now Rubio has joined the group of sweaty politicians who look nervous on camera and who need more libation than the average guy. Not a good place to be.

Twitter went cray-cray of course - see all the quotes on my other blog:
Snark Amendment: Stay Thirsty My Friend ~ Rubio Water Bottle Gate

Memory Lane . . .




The State of the Union in Pictures


Complete State of the Union Speech Transcript as Delivered





Ted Nugent in the House as GOP "Guest"









GOP Women NOT clapping for Equal Pay


Chris Dorner Stand-Off in Big Bear Causes More Than One Death


I watched hours of live video streaming from a local CBS station in California yesterday as police engaged in a firefight and stand-off with Chris Dorner, a revenge cop-killer who has been on a rampage threatening to shoot anyone who ever wronged him.

Dorner's Complete Manifesto PDF via LA Times

From USA Today
Investigators were picking through the rubble of a burned-out cabin in California's San Bernardino Mountains on Wednesday, trying to piece together details of the violent last stand for a fugitive former Los Angeles police officer whose life apparently ended hours earlier in a barrage of bullets and blazing fire.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office said charred human remains were found in the rubble where Christopher Dorner is said to have been cornered Tuesday. "We have reason to believe that it is him," sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman said.

A wallet with a California driver's license bearing the name Christopher Dorner also was found . . .

. . . Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith said it was "highly likely" that Dorner had been inside when authorities heard a single gunshot and saw the cabin burning in Seven Oaks, a small community in the San Bernardino Mountains, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

But Smith said that until Dorner's body is positively identified "or he's in shackles," the LAPD is continuing under "tactical alert ... as if he's still out there." Police will continue to protect dozens of officers and others threatened in Dorner's online manifesto.

SWAT teams had fired tear gas inside of the cabin as part of a "tactical operation" and were tearing down its walls to flush out Dorner, who had reportedly been driven back inside by police when he tried to flee out the back.

Police have not explained what started the fire in the cabin. Officers had thrown tear gas canisters into the cabin and shouted to Dorner to surrender.

Prior to the fire, Dorner's vehicle had been found burned out over the mountain from the cabin. He then took two women in another cabin hostage and stole their car, wrecked that and stole a truck from a man. When wildlife and game officials stopped Dorner, he fled into the woods, ending up at the cabin where the firefight occurred.

Reporters got dangerously close to the violence yesterday while bullets were flying and two wildlfe and game officers were shot. One later died, while the other is in critical condition. Before dark smoke began to rise from the cabin, and as of today, the body has been identified as Chris Dorner. But I'm sure the story isn't over. There will always been those who think Dorner got away, or at the best think it was wrong to burn up the cabin if he was in there alive.

More background on Dorner:

Monday, February 11, 2013

No Joke ~ Pope Resigns and Lightning Strikes the Vatican


Photo Credit: AFP

Today something unprecedented happened: a Pope decided to quit the Vatican BEFORE his death. The last time this occurred was 700 years ago, so yeah, this is a big deal for the Catholic Church. The world reacted with shock at the news, but we have to hope this is a chance for the church to choose someone different, not just an old white European guy, and certainly not someone connected to the Hitler Youth, as the present Pope was in his youth. Never again. And please, someone who won't make excuses for the cover up of child abuse within the priesthood - the world has had enough. For the Church to survive, something has got to change.

Of course not everyone is Catholic, and not everyone takes the Pope seriously or has any respect left for the office. Thus, major snark took over Twitter for most of the day:
Snark Amendment: Holy Jokes


Yahoo News
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict stunned the Roman Catholic Church on Monday when he announced he would stand down, the first pope to do so in 700 years, saying he no longer had the mental and physical strength to carry on.

Church officials tried to relay a climate of calm confidence in the running of a 2,000-year-old institution, but the decision could lead to uncertainty in a Church already besieged by scandal for covering up sexual abuse of children by priests.

The soft-spoken German, who always maintained that he never wanted to be pope, was an uncompromising conservative on social and theological issues, fighting what he regarded as the increasing secularization of society.

. . . It is not clear if Benedict will have a public life after he resigns. Lombardi said Benedict would first go to the papal summer residence south of Rome and then move into a cloistered convent inside the Vatican walls.

The resignation means that cardinals from around the world will begin arriving in Rome in March and after preliminary meetings, lock themselves in a secret conclave and elect the new pope from among themselves in votes in the Sistine Chapel.

There has been growing pressure on the Church for it to choose a pope from the developing world to better reflect where most Catholics live and where the Church is growing.

"It could be time for a black pope, or a yellow one, or a red one, or a Latin American," said Guatemala's Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales.

Strangely, lightning struck the Vatican just after the announcement, confirmed by the Weather Channel radar analysis.

From The Weather Channel
Lightning struck the St. Peter's Basilica Monday, hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics on February 28. In this photo taken by Filippo Monteforte, the St. Peter's iconic dome received a direct hit from lightning during stormy weather.


Sydney Morning Herald
Pope Benedict XVI's resignation came like a bolt from the blue overnight.

And the weather around the Vatican was eerily appropriate, with lightning striking St Peter's Basilica, one of the holiest Catholic sites, on the same day that Pope Benedict announced he would be stepping down.
A message from above? ... lightning strikes St Peter's dome at the Vatican hours after Pope Benedict XVI resigned.

A message from above? ... lightning strikes St Peter's dome at the Vatican hours after Pope Benedict XVI resigned. Photo: AFP

Global news agency Agence France-Presse published an image of lightning striking the basilica's dome, which it said was taken "on the day the Pope" announced his resignation.

AFP said the striking image was captured by photographer Filippo Monteforte, who works for Italian national news and photo agency ANSA.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

People of Newtown Speak Out ~ "Should Teachers Carry Guns? I Would Quit Tomorrow"


Newtown Parents, Teachers and First Responders Speak Out:

From Mother Jones:
Testimonials, in order of appearance in the compilation:
Nicole and Ian Hockley, parents of Sandy Hook victim Dylan Hockley
David Wheeler, father of Sandy Hook victim Benjamin Wheeler
Peter Paradis, stepfather of Sandy Hook teacher's aide and victim Rachel D'Avino
Neil Heslin, father of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis
Scarlett Lewis, mother of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis
Susan Ehrens, mother of Sandy Hook survivor Emma Ehrens
Dan O'Donnell, Sandy Hook parent
Laurie Veillette, volunteer EMT for Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps
Douglas Fuchs, police chief of Redding, Connecticut
Mary Ann Jacob, library clerk at Sandy Hook
Dr. William Begg, emergency room physician at Danbury Hospital and Newtown resident
Tom Swetts, teacher at Newtown High School
Darren Wagner, former police officer and father of a Newtown High School student

In the following video, Piers Morgan tries out various assault weapons described as "Spray and Pray" because the shooter points the gun, pulls the trigger, and prays he hits the target - which even the inexperienced Morgan can do because of the repeater effect of the rifles. The shooting range guy mentions he is afraid of the UN and the Military coming to grab his guns. He justifies assault weapons for killing wild hogs in Texas, missing the irony that the children of Newtown were shot down like animals. The stupidity and ignorance is really getting me down. It's shocking. We have to fight this.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Women in Flight From Fanatical Churches


I always marvel at the human spirit when I hear about people who have fled oppressive fanatical churches. Imagine that moment when they finally realize that a spiritual leader they have trusted all their lives has betrayed them by creating a false world that has nothing to do with spirituality or knowledge, and everything to do with power and control. The most oppressed people are always the women and children who lead an existence of drudgery and powerlessness, sexual abuse or dysfunction. Their experiences bear little resemblance to normal family life in the outside world, which they usually realize only after leaving. Those who grow up in such churches are brainwashed into thinking everyone else in society is evil, so for years they may accept the justification that keeps them physically isolated, and become willing captives who might even view their jailors as saviors. For the more rebellious in the congregation, the church leaders intentionally block information and play emotional mind games to shame people into staying, or resort to blackmail with threats to withhold contact with loved ones, including children. To overcome such tactics you really need guts and a strong will, so to take flight from such a church is an inspiration. I wish all these women the best of luck.

Ruby Jessup grew up in the recently received custody of her ten children in Colorado City, Arizona, and escaped with them in January, helped by local law enforcement and a sister on the outside.
CNN Transcript
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 26- year-old Ruby Jessop has accomplished something very few women in Warren Jeffs' fundamentalist polygamist church have done. Late last week, she escaped.
(on camera): How old were you when you got married?
TUCHMAN: How old were you when you had your first baby?
JESSOP: I was 16.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And Ruby escaped with those babies, six of them. Babies she had with a husband that is still in the church. The children are now 10, 8, 7, 6, 4 and 2.

(on camera): Do you still believe that Warren Jeffs is the prophet?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Warren Jeffs, the self-professed prophet of the FLDA since 2002 is now serving a life sentence in prison, but he continues to rule the religion with an iron fist from his cell. He made many of the laws here and forced countless young girls like Ruby Jessop into marriage.
Most never leave, but Ruby said she always dreamed of leaving. Hoping to get out of the twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hillsdale, Utah, where most FLDS members live.
But taking children away from a husband who is obedient to the church and Warren Jeffs is extraordinarily difficult. Just days ago, this was the emotional scene, Ruby receiving temporary custody of the children from a county court judge, these pictures showing Ruby being reunited with her children after this man, her husband, Haven Barlow, had allegedly kept them away from her for weeks.
JESSOP: Arizona law is very clear that one parent cannot keep another apparent from their children regardless of their religion.

TUCHMAN: Ruby then took her children and escaped into the outside world. Author and private investigator Sam Brower shot the photographs.
SAM BROWER, AUTHOR, "PROPHET'S PREY": The children were ecstatic to see their mother. They were all smiles. It was wonderful to see the looks on their faces when they saw their mom.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Ruby Jessop was raised by her father, mother, and two sister wives. She has 30 brothers and sisters. The man she was forced to marry is her second cousin. The man who presided over the wedding is Warren Jeffs. When she went to the altar, Ruby was in ninth grade. She never went back to school.
(voice-over): Ruby is filing for divorced from Haven Barlow, a man she said she never loved. We went to the house they shared to try to get her husband's response to all this.
. . . TUCHMAN (voice-over): Ruby and her children are currently living in her sister's house in Phoenix. She has no job, no high school diploma, and little knowledge of the outside world, but she said there's no turning back.

JESSOP: I want to raise my kids. I want to be free. Be able to make my own choices, to be happy.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Are you happy today?
JESSOP: I am. I am very happy.


Jenna Miscavige Hill, whose Uncle is a Leader of the Church of Scientology has written a book called Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape Her parents were part of "Sea Org" which she described on ABC's The View as "the clergy of the church who sign billion-year contracts, sort of like a paramilitary organization." However, Jenna was separated from her parents for most of her young life, instead living in various communal camp situations where she worked at hard labor for the church for hours every day. According to Ms. Miscavige, Scientologists have no real god that they worship, which begs the question of whether the church should get tax-exempt status as a church, and why they display a big cross on top of their churches. When asked whether celebrities are treated differently than regular members, she gave an emphatic yes, saying the elite members such as Tom Cruise or Kirstie Alley wouldn't be harassed for money or favors the way ordinary members are, and their children wouldn't be expected to work at one of the camps the way she was raised. As she described it to Piers Morgan, celebraties have "willful ignorance" about what is really going on, and because they attend the fancier churches they just don't see how other members are treated. But Jenna does blame them for failing to check the internet about the realities of Scientology and Dianetics.

Jenna's parents eventually left Sea Org, but Jenna chose to stay behind, which she told Piers Morgan was due to years of brainwashing. On The View, she explained that in 2005 she could "no longer look away from the abuse, the mental, the physical, the verbal" and "realized I just wasn't helping anyone." If she had stayed with Sea Org, she wouldn't have been allowed to have children, but happily, she and her husband escaped together and they now have two children away from the world of Scientology. And to help others with the same background Jenna started a website called Ex-Scientology Kids


Photobucket And last but certainly not least, two high-profile women have fled the notorious Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, which is famous for loudly picketing any gathering they view as connected to homosexuality or gay life, even military funerals. Here are some of their craziest protests. They even threatened to come to Newtown and protest at the funerals of the dead children, but thankfully stayed away. It's really hard to understand what they hope to achieve by picketing all over the country holding signs that say "God Hates You." Nothing is more disturbing than seeing the innocent children of Westboro waving signs in the air with the word "F*g" on them as their parents have instructed them, but Leader Fred Phelps believes in all hands on deck when trying to shame the rest of the world. So Pastor Phelps must be in total shock that two of his granddaughters left the Westboro fold this week: Megan Phelps-Roper and her sister Grace Phelps.

From Washington Post
The Westboro Baptist Church may be the most controversial religious group in the country. By some accounts, it’s not a religious group at all -- the Southern Poverty Law Center has called it “the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America,” and a White House petition urging the government to label it as such earned more than 330,000 signatures in January.
For several years, Phelps-Roper was one of the WBC’s loudest and most believable defenders. By age 25, she led social media efforts for the church, gave hundreds of media interviews and tweeted regular Bible verses and inspirational quotes to an audience of more than 10,000. She briefly coordinated WBC protests at funerals and disaster sites, the church’s most reviled activity.
But something changed, Phelps-Roper told journalist Jeff Chu, when a Jewish friend she met online challenged the WBC’s teaching on homosexuality. Didn’t Jesus say to “let he who is without sin cast the first stone?,” he asked.
And so Phelps-Roper -- who once told the Kansas City Star the church was the only place she’d seen “people who serve God in truth” -- finally began to doubt.

To see just how confused the Phelps sisters may be as they move into the real world, watch the video below. There are several displays of pure cognitive dissonance in which the girls express both hate and love of the the people targeted by their church's hatred. While picketing the funeral of a Muslim and burning a Koran (which was 'doing the right thing,' according to Megan), the younger sister, Grace, also took a photograph of "an adorable Muslim boy," but she sees no contradiction because as Grace tells an incredulous journalist: "I didn't set the bounds of his habitation. I can't change that. And saying 'that's a cute picture' doesn't change that." You have to admire the complicated, yet innocent, use of church-speak. Megan rails about how horrible "those little Muslims" are while spewing one offensive epithet after another. She also seems to have no idea that the god of the Muslims was the same god of the Jews and Christians, and she speaks of her own "jealous and vengeful God" as if Jesus had never said "turn the other cheek." So much for her religious education, which up till now centered around targeting homosexuals and yelling at them from the side of the road.

Clearly these girls will have to relearn many things in order to function in society.

David Chu, a writer on gay issues for, got to know Megan while interviewing her about Westboro, and now he's written the definitive article about her sudden change, her light on the Road to Damascus, so to speak.

To some, this story might seem simple—even overly so. But we all have moments of epiphany, when things that are plate-glass clear to others but opaque to us suddenly become apparent. This was, for Megan, one of those moments, and this window led to another and another and another. Over the subsequent weeks and months, “I tried to put it aside. I decided I wasn’t going to hold that sign, ‘Death Penalty for F*gs.’” (She had, for the most part, preferred the gentler, much less offensive “Mourn for Your Sins” or “God Hates Your Idols” anyway.)

What “seemed like a small thing at the time,” she says, snowballed. She started to question another Westboro sign, “F*gs can’t repent.” “It seemed misleading and dishonest. Anybody can repent if God gives them repentance, according to the church. But this one thing—it gives the impression that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin,” she says. “It didn’t make sense. It seemed a wrong message for us to be sending. It’s like saying, ‘You’re doomed! Bye!’ and gives no hope for salvation.”

. . . Once a constant Tweeter, she hasn’t posted anything online since October. “I don’t know what I believe, so I don’t know what to say,” she explains. “I haven’t been ready to talk about any of this.” She’s only doing so now, and briefly, because, she says, “I was so proactive before and vocal about the church. My name means something now to others that it doesn’t mean to me. I want people to know that it’s not now how it was.”

It's a huge turnaround for the young woman who was called the "Heir to Hate" by the Kansas City Star. But she is not the first family member to leave the fold, nor will she be the last.
Fred Phelps . . . at 82 has grown increasingly removed from the church’s everyday business. His daughter, fire-and-brimstone figurehead Shirley Phelps-Roper, handles operations. But even she’s begun delegating more to others, with much of the work falling to Megan, her oldest daughter and the one who, more than any of her brothers, sisters or cousins, has been entrusted with the most responsibility.
As Shirley puts it, “She was always kind of my right-hand man.”
Megan’s importance to the movement stems also from the fact that for the past decade, the church’s future has been walking away at an alarming rate.

Since 2004, 20 members have left the Westboro Baptist Church, three-fourths of them in their teens or 20s. The defections have left a sizable dent in the group’s third generation, which, for a church that has relied almost exclusively upon family to populate its congregation, is not an insignificant development. There are those on both sides of the family who would like to guide Megan’s future.
“There’s still an element of hope,” says Megan’s uncle, Nate Phelps, who left the church in 1976 at the age of 18 and now travels the country speaking out against its practices, “that someone can get through to her.”

Megan has watched with unease as some of those closest to her have defected and then been cut off completely from the family. The older brother who left in the middle of the night the day before her high school graduation. The cousin and best friend who decided three years ago that the church’s practices had grown too extreme. Each departure forcing her to confront the same frightening possibility: That she, too, could succumb to the same temptations.
NBC's The Today Show did an interview with a cousin of the Phelps sisters, Libby Phelps Alvarez, who said that while she misses her family, leaving the church has brought her new joy in life, such as her recent marriage. She wishes that others in the church would realize that the world is not full of evil people.

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In a Press Release Phelps-Roper states:
Until very recently, this is what I lived, breathed, studied, believed, preached – loudly, daily, and for nearly 27 years.
I never thought it would change. I never wanted it to.
Then suddenly: it did.
And I left.
Where do you go from there?
I don't know, exactly. My sister Grace is with me, though. We’re trying to figure it out together.
There are some things we do know.
We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.
We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.
We know that we can’t undo our whole lives. We can’t even say we’d want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That’s our focus.
Up until now, our names have been synonymous with “God Hates F*gs.” Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what we did. We hope Ms. Kyle was right about the other part, too, though – that everything sticks – and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.
Megan and Grace

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Message to Dodge Trucks ~ American Farmers Are Not Just White Marlboro Men

Dodge Trucks scored a hit with their nostalgic Super Bowl ad, a slideshow of pictures featuring white male American farmers with a voice-over of legendary radio man Paul Harvey reciting a poetic speech from 1978. That part is cool - he was a daily radio presence while I was growing up and I'm glad people still remember Paul Harvey. The rest of the commercial has a few problems . . .

The video now has nearly 3 million views on YouTube, but how well does it reflect the realities of American farm life?

For instance, where are the people of color? There is one picture of an African-American man, but what about Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans ~ aren't they farmers too, and don't they play a huge role in the agriculture of our country? Why did they ignore the contribution and history of those who pick fruit and crops, pluck chickens, and do all the other agricultural jobs no one else wants to do in this era of corporate farming?

Uh, more importantly, doesn't Dodge want them to buy trucks? If so, they should think about spending some advertising money to reflect the new demographics of our nation.

Several Latinos have edited the commercial to reflect the real American Farm Experience - see below:

"It's a white-washed ad," said Axel Caballero, founder of Cuéntame, a Latino nonprofit. "(The) composition of America has changed. The faster brands understand that, the better they're going to do."

In response, Cuéntame uploaded its remixed version of the Ram truck ad to its Facebook page, keeping the audio but replacing some of the photos with images of Latino farmworkers. Cuéntame's caption to the post read, " 'God made a farmer' ad - K, we fixed it!"

. . . As for the faces of farmers in America, 71 percent of agricultural workers in the U.S. were born in Mexico and Central America, according to a 2011 U.S. Department of Labor National Agricultural Workers Survey. Just 29 percent of U.S. farm workers were born in the USA and Puerto Rico.

And God Made a Farmer by Paul Harvey

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer.

God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board." So God made a farmer.

"I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a farmer.

God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.

God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.

"Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a farmer.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sandy Hook Choir Sings at Super Bowl


These children are just precious - imagine what they have been through at Sandy Hook! When Jennifer Hudson started singing I had chills up my spine. Beautiful.

A Really Bad Week for the NRA and Wayne LaPierre (Not that there's anything wrong with that)


After the murder of children in Newtown, Connecticut, the NRA is under-fire. And momentum from the progressive gun-control side is showing no signs of slowing. In fact, the more NRA leader Wayne LaPierre pushes his crazy apocalyptic fearmongering and hatred for President Obama, the more foolish and out-of-touch he seems. This only invigorates the Left, giving us hope that the NRA's power is waning, and LaPierre is losing the battle.

Please, proceed, Mr. LaPierre.

Last week in a Senate Hearing on gun control measures, LaPierre seemed to blame everything in society for mass shootings except guns. Then he pooh-pooh'd background checks:

My problem with background checks is you’re never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks. All the law-abiding people . . . you'll create an enormous federal bureaucracy, unfunded, hitting all the little people in the country who will have to go through it, pay the fees, pay the taxes. We don’t even prosecute anybody right now that goes through the system we have. So we're going to make all those law-abiding people go through the system, and then we aren't going to prosecute any of the bad guys if they do catch one. None of it makes any sense in the real world.
~ Wayne LaPierre of the NRA

Mr. LaPierre, that's the point! Criminals won't go to purchase the guns, because there will be a background check! We'll stop them from the original purchase. You missed that point completely! And I think it's basic. (applause in the room)
~ Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois

More Quotes from the Gun Hearing Here:
Snark Amendment: Wayne LaPierre ~ Kids Need a Security Blanket of Guards and Guns

On Saturday there was the sad story of America's top military sniper, Chris Kyle, getting shot On a Gun Range in Texas. Yes, on a gun range, where everyone is probably a member of the NRA, everyone was armed and everyone is generally knowledgeable about guns. Another veteran suffering from PTSD shot Kyle and an acquaintance, and even though they were in a place built for the sole purpose of shooting at targets, the two men didn't have a chance to fire a single shot in return. There couldn't be a better example of how stupid it would be to "arm everybody," even teachers in schools. Because guess what? Plenty of armed people have died in the wars as well. Ask any soldier. Guns won't stop bullets.

Read the whole story with all the quotes here:
Snark Amendment: American Sniper Chris Kyle Shot to Death on Texas Gun Range

On ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Progressive economist Paul Krugman tore into the NRA and LaPierre:

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: But what really strikes me -- I don't know how this plays, you know, what will happen. What strikes me is we've actually gotten a glimpse into the mindset, though, of the pro-gun people and we've seen certainly Wayne LaPierre and some of these others. It's bizarre. They have this vision that we're living in a "Mad Max" movie and that nothing can be done about it, that America cannot manage unless everybody's prepared to shoot intruders, that -- the idea that we have a police forces that provides public safety is somehow totally impractical, despite the fact that, you know, that is, in fact, the way we live.
So I think that the terms of the debate have shifted. Now the craziness of the extreme pro-gun lobby has been revealed, and that has got to move the debate and got to move the legislation at least to some degree.

During the Super Bowl the snti-gun group Demand a Plan started by NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran an advertisement with a video clip of Wayne LaPierre from a few years back saying he favored universal background checks. It's very effective because at one time the NRA made sense and that's what society wants, so LaPierre and his minions are totally out-of-touch with mainstream America.

Demand a Plan on Twitter

And the worst thing that happened to Mr. LaPierre was when he appeared on Fox News, usually a safe haven for gun-nuts. But not this time - it became his worst nightmare. Usually pro-conservative interviewer Chris Wallace raked the NRA spokesman over hot burning coals in a sudden fit of real journalism. Because basically LaPierre was lying about Obama "taking all our guns" - just absurd fearmongering. There is no universal ban on guns and there probably won't ever be. He also tried to pin all violence on "gangs" in Chicago and Washington D.C. when obviously the hometown Newtown shooter wasn't a gang member and neither was the man who shot Chris Kyle on the gun range. Guns are the key - not the class designation of the shooter.

WALLACE: The murder today, because one of the things that concerns people, it seems every day we talk about a shooting. Oftentimes, mass shooting.


WALLACE: Day after day after day. And the frustration is you don't think that the answering -- that limiting guns has anything to do with that. And I understand there is some things you think will work and we'll talk about that.

The murder yesterday of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, this was a man who wrote "American Sniper". This is a man credited with the largest number of confirmed kills of any American soldier ever. He and another man gunned down at a Texas gun range.

LAPIERRE: If you want to stop violence in this country, here's what you do, OK? First, if you want to protect or kids, you put armed security in schools. I'm not talking about arming teachers, I'm talking about police officers, and I'm talking about certified professional security people. There is not a parent that sends off their kid to school that wants those kids to be unprotected. Just in Atlanta this past week, armed security stopped a shooting in an Atlanta school. Stopped it, right? Stopped it.

Second --

WALLACE: Here's the problem -- but here's the problem, respectfully, sir. If you -- if you arm people at schools, a lot of these people aren't just motivated to kill people in schools, they want to kill people.

And, forgive me, and, if it's -- school is too tough, they'll go to a movie theater. Like James Holmes. They'll go to a shopping center. They'll go to a gun range and kill Chris Kyle.


Complete Transcript from Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

WALLACE: All right. You oppose gun control as a form of government tyranny. But in the Senate hearings, this week, you offered a different reason for it. Let's take a look.



LAPIERRE: What people all over the country fear today, is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs, that they're going to be out there alone, and the only way they will protect themselves, in the cold, in the dark, when they are vulnerable, is with a firearm.


WALLACE: Do you really think that that is a more serious threat, marauding bands of Americans during a hurricane or a tornado, do you think that's a more serious threat to the average American than the steady drum beat of gun violence and sometimes mass gun violence?


WALLACE: A couple of weeks ago, the NRA started running an ad that created a great deal of controversy. Here's a clip.


NARRATOR: Are the president's kids more important than yours? Why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school?


WALLACE: Mr. LaPierre, do you regret putting up that ad?

LAPIERRE: The point of ad was this -- it wasn't picking on the president's kids. The president not --

WALLACE: It mentions them.

LAPIERRE: The president's kids are safe and we are thankful for it. The point of that ad --

WALLACE: They also face a threat that most children do not face.

LAPIERRE: Tell that to people in Newtown. Tell that to people --

WALLACE: Do you really think the president's children are the same kind of target as every school child in America? That's ridiculous and you know it, sir.

LAPIERRE: You know, unfortunately, I think there are parents all over the school that think -- all over the country that think their kids are entitled to the same amount of protection when they go to school, and they want --

WALLACE: So, they should have Secret Service?

LAPIERRE: No, but what they should have is police officers or certified armed security in those schools to keep people safe. If something happens, the police -- despite all the good intentions, is 15 to 20 minutes. It's too long. It's not going to help those kids.

Certified armed security in schools, just like --

WALLACE: But that's not going to protect them in the shopping mall, in the movie theater, on the streets.

LAPIERRE: Which is why we need to do everything else I'm talking about. Let's enforce the federal gun laws which we did not do now against gangs with guns, felons with guns -- my gosh, in the shadow of where we are sitting now, gangs are out there in Washington, D.C. You can buy drugs. You can buy guns. They are trafficking in 13-year-old girls --


WALLACE: I understand there are lots of problems out there and this isn't going to solve all of them.

But you can't say, that -- first of all, the gangs don't commit the mass murders, Adam Lanza wasn't a member of a gang. James Holmes was not a member of the gang.

You talk -- one of the points of the ads that I want to ask you about, is you made it a class argument, the rich and elites.


WALLACE: They have bodyguards. They have security.

LAPIERRE: Sure. And Mayor Bloomberg has it. Mayor Bloomberg has bodyguards.

WALLACE: I'll tell you who else has security. You do.

LAPIERRE: Sometimes. Yes.

WALLACE: And, you have security. Today you have security.

LAPIERRE: Yes, and you talk about hypocrisy right out in the open, we have had all kinds of threats on me, OK?

WALLACE: Does that make you an elite -- an out of touch elite because you have security?

LAPIERRE: I don't deny anybody the right to security when they need it. What I'm saying, it is ridiculous, Chris, for all the elites and all the powerful and privilege, the titans of industry, to send their kids to school where there's arm security. They have access to semi-automatic technology. They have access --

WALLACE: First of all, I don't know anybody who has -- I don't know anybody elites who sends their kids -- my children went to the same school that the Obama children went to, many years ago, and there were no armed security there.

LAPIERRE: A third of the schools in the country already have armed security.

WALLACE: I understand that, but the idea of an elite class, it's just nonsense, sir.