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5 Nonsensical Right-Wing Statements in the Past Week that Amped Up the War on Reason

May 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

The reality deniers have been out in full force.

1. Fox’s Dr. Keith Ablow: 'Embryos are people, and men should be able to veto women’s abortions.'

For some reason, Fox’s resident men’s rights activist, “Dr.” Keith Ablowhard, thinks the world should give a shit about what he thinks women should do with their bodies and their frozen embryos.  Ablow got a chance to express his Neanderthal views on reproductive rights  on Fox’s “Outnumbered” last week, during which the hot topic of Sofia Vergara’s fight with ex-fiance, Nick Loeb, over the fate of their frozen embryos was under discussion.

In short, Vergara wants the embryos destroyed. Loeb doesn’t. That should end the discussion pretty much, since their agreement states that both of them must be onboard in order to bring any of those embryos to full term—but, well, no. Loeb is fighting to have the agreement voided, and has gone public with that desire.

Cue Ablow, the oh-so-scientific and unbiased “psychiatrist” who has diagnosed President Obama with “America hatred,” and Michelle Obama with “needing to lose a few pounds.”

“Why would a woman’s right to decide what to do with a frozen embryo trump a man’s right every time?” he asked the ladies who co-host the show. “If he wants to bring these embryos to term, good for him. He wants to parent. If he wants to have them adopted, good for him. You know what, it’s not a coin toss. It’s whoever wants that potential being to survive, that’s who wins.”

He also chided Vergara for starring in a “liberal” show (“Modern Family”) where “anything goes,”a not very veiled reference to the fact that there is a gay couple in the show. It’s “interesting,”Ablow said, “that when it comes to her choices in life, she wants all the control.”(Is it? Most people want control over their big decisions in life, don’t they?) “Not very ‘modern,’Sofia,”the doctor diagnosed.

Ablow kept harping away and referring to frozen embryos as “children,” the better to make his real point: “I’ve been outspoken on this,” he said. “I think men should be able to veto …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Bernie Sanders: Any Supreme Court Nominee of Mine Must Pledge to Overturn Citizens United (VIDEO)

May 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

The Vermont Senator once again puts campaign finance reform front and center.

Though he went almost seven months without being mentioned on Meet the Press, Bernie Sanders has been making the rounds on the other Sunday morning shows since announcing his candidacy almost two weeks ago. Last Sunday, he sat down with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, and today he fielded questions from Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer , stressing the importance of campaign finance reform and combating what he calls “the billionaire class in America”:

There is, in my view, massive dissatisfaction with the corporate establishment and the greed of corporate America… when you have 99% of new wealth going to the top 1%, when you have the top tenth of one percent owning almost as much as the bottom 90%… people don’t think that’s a good idea. As a result of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme court decision, clearly the billionaires – Koch brothers and others – are owning the political process. They will determine who the candidates are.

But when prompted by the CBS host to critique Hillary Clinton’s use of a Super PAC – the primary fundraising mechanism resulting from Citizens United – the Vermont Senator refused to go all out, stressing that he “understood why she was doing it”.

Sanders claims to have over 200,000 volunteers signed up and received over 90,000 donations at an average donation of $43 from “mostly working and middle-class Americans”.

Sanders would go on to level measured criticism at the former Secretary of State and Senator, citing her support of causes deeply unpopular among progressives such as the Transpacific Trade Partnership and the Iraq War.

Most surprising of all was Sanders’ announcement that he would have, as President, a litmus test for his Supreme Court nominees, demanding they overturn Citizens United as a condition of their selection. Litmus tests are something from which politicians typically shy away and are largely seen as taboo. Obama rejected Litmus tests back in 2010 saying he would “follow the time-honored answer of presidents from both parties in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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8 Essential Lessons We Learned From the Vietnam Antiwar Movement

May 10, 2015 in Blogs

By David Cortright, AlterNet

The movement for peace in Vietnam has been erased from history, unremembered and dismissed by those in power.

The Vietnam War is back, suddenly re-appearing in public consciousness on the 50th anniversary of the US escalation and 40thanniversary of the war’s end. In late April PBS aired several documentaries on the war—including My Lai Massacre, Last Days in Vietnam and The Draft. The Nation, Harpers, Mother Jones, AARP,The New Yorker and many other magazines have published feature articles in recent weeks.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first antiwar protests, the beginning of what Howard Zinn described as “the greatest antiwar movement the nation had ever experienced.” Despite the historic scale and impact of that vast struggle, the movement for peace in Vietnam has been erased from history, unremembered and dismissed by those in power.

On May 1st and 2nd more than 800 people gathered in Washington to pay tribute to the antiwar movement with an event entitled, “Vietnam: The Power of Protest.” Marge Tabankin and Heather Booth chaired. Phil Donahue, Juan Gonzales, Amy Goodman and Danny Glover emceed. Tom Hayden, Barbara Lee, Julian Bond, Patricia Schroeder, Ron Dellums and many others spoke. The purpose of the gathering was to recall the lies and deception that led to the war, acknowledge the role of the antiwar movement in helping to end the carnage, and identify the lessons of the war for the future of US policy.

Many different lessons of Vietnam were considered at the Washington event. Here are a few that were drafted by the organizing committee for the “Power of Protest” event.

1.     The Vietnam peace movement must be remembered as having shaken our country to its foundations and for defending democracy against secrecy and bureaucratic tyranny. The people today who want us to forget that the antiwar movement existed are the same people who want us to forget that America lost that war, and who are urging more military involvement and war today.

2.     The paradigm of the Cold War was wrong: Vietnam was not an arm of the Soviet Union, China and the ‘international communist conspiracy.’  It was a communist-led nationalist revolutionary movement with …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Dear Idiots On My Facebook Feed: Here's Why Calling for Protests Over Slain Cops Makes No Sense

May 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

There's a rather simple reason it's not a thing. Now shut up.

We’ve all heard it now a thousand times. If not by our brain dead cousin on facebook or our racist uncle over dinner, we’ve all heard it. If not in person we saw it ferment in rightwing media. If not from Geraldo we heard it on Hannity. If not on Hannity, we had the misfortune of reading it in the New York Post:

Another NYPD officer shot — and no one will march to protest

No demonstrators will block traffic to protest the ambush of Police Officer Brian Moore in Queens Saturday evening — the fifth New York City cop struck by gunfire in the line of duty since December.

Or the Daily News:

Lupica: Outrage in short supply when a cop is the victim

Five cops shot here in the past five months alone. Only when they are shot and sometimes killed, there is no rush of outraged people out into the streets these cops protect.

Why, the right hysterically asks, is #BlackLivesMatter not protesting the death of NYPD cop Brian Moore:

 

Before I dive into the substance of why this trope is illogical, let’s be clear about one thing: those asking this question don’t really care about slain NYPD officer Brian Moore. To them, the death of Brian Moore is a political prop. Sure, they don’t wish it happened, but they probably didn’t think about it beyond the degree to which it could trivialize anti-police brutality protesters. These are smear artists, so desperate to seek out liberal hypocrisy they’ll knowingly spout this sophistic talking point knowing full well it’s basically bullshit. It’s the laziest kind of pseudo-opinion – a testiment to our pundit classes’ fetish for gotchaism at the expense of critical thought.

On to why it makes no sense. It’s simple: one doesn’t protest something the system already agrees is bad. That’s it. There’s not much else to it. Protesting is fundamentally a petition to those in power (often, but not always, to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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New Atheism’s Fatal Arrogance: The Glaring Intellectual Laziness of Bill Maher & Richard Dawkins

May 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Sean D. Illing, Salon

For all their eloquence, New Atheists show little interest in understanding how believers really think or feel.

Atheism has a storied history in the West. From the irreverent Voltaire to the iconoclastic Nietzsche, the godless have always had a voice. But the New Atheists are different. Religion, they argue, isn’t just wrong; it’s positively corrosive. If you’ve heard people like Bill Maher or Lawrence Krauss speak in recent years, you’re familiar with this approach.

New Atheism emerged in 2004 as a kind of literary and social movement. Led by such luminaries as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, New Atheism became part of the zeitgeist, a well-timed reaction against religious fundamentalism. The New Atheists are notoriously pugilistic. In print or on stage, they never run from a fight. Whatever you think of their tactics, they’ve succeeded at putting fanatics and moralizers on the defensive – and that’s a good thing.

But there’s something missing in their critiques, something fundamental. For all their eloquence, their arguments are often banal. Regrettably, they’ve shown little interest in understanding the religious compulsion. They talk incessantly about the untruth of religion because they assume truth is what matters most to religious people. And perhaps it does for many, but certainly not all – at least not in the conventional sense of that term. Religious convictions, in many cases, are held not because they’re true but because they’re meaningful, because they’re personally transformative. New Atheists are blind to this brand of belief.

It’s perfectly rational to reject faith as a matter of principle. Many people (myself included) find no practical advantage in believing things without evidence. But what about those who do? If a belief is held because of its effects, not its truth content, why should its falsity matter to the believer? Of course, most religious people consider their beliefs true in some sense, but that’s to be expected: the consolation derived from a belief is greater if its illusory origins are concealed. The point is that such beliefs aren’t held because they’re true as such; they’re accepted on faith …read more

Source: ALTERNET