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Garden Vampirism

I admire the way that bloodroot, to match its sinister name, emerges from the ground wrapped tightly in a cloak, like a white-haired undead Transylvanian count protecting himself from the rays of the rising sun.

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Values Are Vital PAC Uses Las Vegas Money To Push Its Agenda

In 5 days, there will be a primary election in Florida’s 19th congressional district. U.S. Representative Trey Radel has resigned, and a general election to fill the position in the U.S. House of Representatives for this year’s remaining months will be held in June.

On the Democratic side, there’s only one candidate: April Freeman. There are four Republicans contesting their party’s nomination for the post, however: Lizbeth Benacquisto, Curt Clawson, Michael Dreikorn, and Paige Kreegel. A Republican is favored to win the general election, so there’s a great deal at stake in the Republican primary election.

whose values are vitalYesterday, a political action committee operating under the name Values Are Vital spent nearly $100,000 on advertisements designed to change the course the primary election. The ads promote one of the Republican candidates, Paige Kreegel, while seeking to undermine two of her opponents: Lizbeth Benacquisto and Curt Clawson.

Voters in the 19th district may well be asking themselves just whose values are being represented by the Values Are Vital PAC. Specifically, where did the money for these political commercials come from?

Some of the records for the payments made by the PAC lead into a dead end. Some of them were made to a company called “Morado & Associates, LLC” – but there is no online trace of such a company. Most of the money was channeled through another group, “Jamestown Associates”, which is headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey. The source of the cash used by the Values Are Vital organization is equally distant. 3 out of 5 of the top payments to Values Are Vital – totalling almost half a million dollars – come from a lawyer in Las Vegas.

Are the Republican voters of Florida’s 19th congressional district content to allow political operatives from Nevada and New Jersey to tell them which values are vital? We’ll find out when the polls close Tuesday night.

Not the Voice of God You’re Hearing? Sound Check!

If the voice speaking within your head and heart is telling you that it's OK to harm other people by denying them food, healthcare and basic civil rights, If the "Voice of Truth" you're hearing says there is some justification for treating people with cruelty, callousness, prejudice and contempt... here's a hint.  That's not the voice of God you're hearing.
A friend who participates in a Facebook group called the “Christian Left” shared this image with me the other day. I wonder if my friend has read the Bible lately. Consider the acts of God and the commands by the voice of God in these books of the Bible:

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Samuel
Revelation

Mass killing. Sexual assault. Mutilation. Infanticide. Torture. Slavery. Prejudice. Callousness. Contempt. Cruelty. Starvation. Disenfranchisement. Plagues. That’s what God inflicts on people and asks people to inflict on other people.

This image meant to be affirming of my friend’s politics. I get that. I understand that this image is meant to be a way for my friend to say that she doesn’t like denying people food, healthcare and basic civil rights, that she doesn’t think it’s nice to people with cruelty, callousness, prejudice and contempt. I just wish she would come out and say that when she says “God,” she means “me.” I wish she would come out and say that when she says “Devil,” she means “people I strongly abhor.” I wish she wouldn’t use an appeal to Biblical authority to justify her otherwise admirable values. The authoritative standard “for the Bible tells me so” has been used so many, many times in our history to justify atrocity. The best defense against this is critical thinking, not more appeals to the same wretched authority.

Would You Wear Atheist Shoes?

atheist shoes“Whether you’re an atheist looking to tickle the world with a foot-first declaration of godlessness, or someone who’s just keen on the aesthetics and craftsmanship of what we do, we really do hope you’ll give our shoes a go.” This is the message from Atheist Shoes, a small operation run out of Berlin. Atheist Shoes have been in production for almost two years now, producing shoes with the message “Ich Bin Atheist” imprinted into their soles, so that when the whether is rainy or snowy, atheist walkers can leave the German message – I am atheist – wherever they step.

Is that something you would do – if you’re an atheist? Why would an atheist need to leave the message of atheist identity in an evaporating path behind them? What is this supposed to achieve?

If you are in the camp of declaring your non-theistic identity through your footprints, does it change your decision that Atheist Shoes sells a model of their footwear in a color they call Kitten Testicle Grey? “For those grown-up enough to be comfortable with complexity, there is nothing black or white about these shoes. Their rich grey is a friend of smutty urban streets and, being as soft as a kitten’’s nik-naks (& the same colour in the case of our kitten) their slipper-like comfort will keep a smug look on your face all day long.”

(No kitten testicles are actually used in the production of the shoes, or in the maintenance of this web site.)

Condoleezza Rice and DropBox Collude With Heartbleeding NSA

Last week, the world found out about the Heartbleed bug, “the worst vulnerability ever on the Internet”. It’s a gaping hole that allows hackers to easily gain people’s passwords to the majority of web sites and online services. It’s been open for years, and the worst part of it is that hackers who have been exploiting it have left no trace, so we can’t know when our private information has been taken from us.

condoleezza rice dropboxWhat does that remind you of? The National Security Agency has become little more than a collection of hackers given carte blanche by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to snoop, search and seize through Americans’ private information whenever they like, without providing search warrants or other reasonable legal justification for doing so.

The supposed security of cloud service sites like DropBox have been paper thin. Companies like DropBox have been encouraging Americans to place their most private and valuable information online in accounts on their “secure” servers, without having the necessary protections in place to ensure that the information isn’t stolen and exploited by strangers. DropBox users have been vulnerable to both the NSA and to privateering hackers, using vulnerabilities like Heartbleed.

On Friday, news came out that suggests the Heartbleed security nightmare may not have been as purely accidental as it first appeared to be. Sources within the NSA indicate that the NSA knew for at least two years that Americans were made insecure by Heartbleed, but decided to do nothing about the problem, because Heartbleed was a valuable tool for the NSA’s own hacking activities, enabling the military agency to rapidly increase the size of its Big Brother electronic surveillance program.

Actual security for Americans in general, it turns out, was never really the goal of the National “Security” Agency. The rogue military spy agency purposefully kept Americans insecure so that it could grab more power for itself.

Neatly weaving these two threads together into a web of deceit and betrayal, this news came just a couple of days after it was revealed that DropBox announced that it would be appointing Condoleezza Rice to its Board of Directors. Condoleezza Rice, as head of the National Security Council under George W. Bush, was one of the leaders tasked with expanding the electronic surveillance powers of the NSA.

The new activist group Drop DropBox writes, “Rice not only spoke in favor of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretap program and expansive domestic surveillance program, she authorized the warrantless wiretap of UN Security Council members. Given everything we now know about the US’s warrantless surveillance program, and Rice’s role in it, why on earth would we want someone like her involved with Dropbox, an organization we are trusting with our most important business and personal data?”

Why would DropBox want someone like Condoleezza Rice on its Board of Directors? This shouldn’t be interpreted as a rhetorical question. In the past, Condoleezza Rice has specialized setting up data seizure programs that violating the constitutional rights of Americans, in order to centralize power for the people who employ her. It’s safe to assume that DropBox would like her to perform the same job for them.

Really, that’s what commercial cloud services are all about. Companies offer people “free” storage, and then feel free to search through their private information, mining it for useful data that it can then use or sell for profit. We cannot trust cloud service corporations like Google, DropBox, Droplr, Wuala, Cloudme and Carbonite any more than we can trust the NSA.

The hiring of Condoleezza Rice is merely one of the more blatant flags of privacy abuse from the tech sector. Abuse of user privacy is rampant in Silicon Valley, and in Washington D.C.

Corporate and governmental hubs of power have been consumed by a surveillance culture in which top executives presume that they have the right to seize and whatever information they want, to use for whatever purposes they can dream up. They don’t believe that the law, or the Constitution of the United States, applies to them anymore. They believe that digital technology has made our legal and constitutional rights obsolete.

Congress and the Supreme Court confirm this belief by refusing to take action to curb rampant hacking by corporations and the Executive Branch. American voters add their own assent when they re-elect politicians who have allowed Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure to be made irrelevant.

Shame on us all. We have not yet begun to suffer the worst of the consequences of this collective apathy.

With Extra Political Parties in California, Big Two Still Pack Big Punch. Why?

Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News points me to fresh polls in a California Secretary of State race reopened by the revelation that gun control candidate Leland Yee had been brokering illegal gun sales on the sly. The story of Leland Yee is surely an entertaining one, but the polls in the race he leaves behind are interesting too.

Let’s look at the polls in this open moment, when sheer shock leaves possibilities open:

April 11 California Secretary of State Poll

In case you’re curious, that’s a different Pete Peterson up at the top of the ticket from our favorite gut-the-poor billionaire.  But look down the ticket.  There’s a Green there.  Greens have ballot access in California, but in this race the Green candidate isn’t appealing to voters, with a 5% poll share.

Look elsewhere, to the most recent political party registration report for the state of California, which shares the locations with the highest third-party registrations:

Locations in California with the greatest share of third-party registrants

As you can see, there is no county in California where a third party has as much as a 6% share of registrations.  In some cases, as with Americans Elect, the low registration share is a result of a defunct organization.  But the Greens, whether you agree with them or not, have been working for a long time at building their political party share; their organization is active and enduring, if small.  And if you have ever had a conversation with a member of the Libertarian Party, you’ve felt the zeal, a zeal that gives off the impression that there are more Libertarians out there then there really are.

Ballot access proponents have focused on the mechanics for getting third parties on the ballot.  But once they’re there, what keeps them from rising?  What keeps these third parties down?  Tell me what you know.

If We Came From Apes, Then Come And Answer This Question, Smartypants!

seneca bible baptist churchThe Seneca Bible Baptist Church, outside of Seneca Falls in upstate New York, has issued a challenge to all the secular eggheads in the area, their neighbors who actually believe in the theory of biological evolution through natural selection as proposed by the original Darwinist, Charles Darwin. The church has posted the sign you see here, asking the rhetorical question: “If we came from apes – Why are there still apes?

Brilliant! Genius!

Who could answer this penetrating question? As we all know, after all, to come from something is to destroy it. Why, just look it up in the Boxford Dictionary of Universal Wisdom, which defines the verb “come” as follows: Come, verb. 1. To obliterate entirely. 2. To cause to wither away in irrelevance.

The battle song “Oh, Susannah”, for example, is the ballad of a soldier who has arrived in Mississippi after a Civil War battle that saw the thorough devastation of the Alabama Confederates. “I’ve come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee,” brags the triumphant soldier. “Banjo” was a term used by soldiers of the time to refer to scars earned in victory.

When one person asks another, “Where do you come from?” It’s a challenge, suggesting that a person had better explain their past conquests if they want to be taken seriously. Are you bad? Did you come from someplace?

We don’t have to say, “I come from France, and I wrecked the place.” The wreckage is just implied. This is how we know that no one really ever came from Europe to the United States. If we came from Europe, how come there is still a Europe?

At least, that’s how it is in real, red-blooded America, where the blood is red, instead of puce, or teal, or off-white, or some other wimpy color like “goldenrod”.

Sure, in liberal havens like Portland, the word “come” merely refers to the action of arriving out of a different context, passively, without destroying anything. Liberal wimps use the word “come” to say limp little things like “I come from a long line of academics,” or “My ancestors came from Sweden.” Yeah, but they forget that when people CAME to America from their Old Countries, they utterly obliterated their old homes first!

Sissy progressives, when they “come home from work”, just mean to say that they had a hard day at work, in which sitting in their office chairs for too long made their backs stiff. Poor babies! Those of us who live in real, rough and tumble Christian America, on the other hand, will only say that we have “come home from work” when our shirts are soaked in blood, having hacked and blasted our offices into unrecognizable, smoking wreckage!

Really, who could say that human beings came from apes, when there are still apes around? Weaklings. That’s who!

Thank you to the Seneca Bible Baptist Church for reminding us of this, God’s truth!

Portrait Of The Internet

I had a heartbleed this morning, and had to go to the pharmacist for a treatment. When I got there, I discovered this latest update of the Internet’s infrastructure, waiting for me outside.

image

Apoptosis

A*pop*to*sis -noun

1 the distinctive odor associated with single-parent families

2 cell death as a normal consequence of drinking high fructose sparkling beverages

Spring in the Garden after a Long Winter

I don’t have to tell you that we had a long winter (although a review of global climate data will tell us that such a winter was typical a generation ago). I just want to share two of the little subtle joys coming with the remarkably quick spring. Just two weeks ago we had snow and weather in the single digits. Today, I see that our garlic has begun to grow:

Spring Garlic in the Garden

Even under a bed of insulating pine needles it looks like our strawberry plants suffered from some freezing, but at their core they are alive and well:

Spring Strawberries in the Garden

I don’t think our ground is quite ready to shovel, but it’s good to see these small starts. What’s happening in your garden?

You Great Big Samsung Rebel You

You are a rebel. You are such a big rebel that you don’t even know what kind of rebel you are. You just rebel against… stuff… by perpetrating a sort rebelliosity… involving pouting your lips. Why, if you weren’t so busy tapping the screen of your Samsung Galaxy smart phone, you would be standing in front of a brick wall, throwing punches at… stuff.

It’s hard to be a rebel when you don’t know what kind of rebel you are. But, how can a rebel find out what kind of rebel they are? What you need is an authority who knows all about rebels, to tell you what kind of rebel you are. Until you find an authority on rebels, you can take an online quiz, provided by Samsung, because Samsung is always rebelling against… stuff.

samsung rebel