Sadly, to know this you must know Math, which is an Evil LIberal Conspiracy down here in Texas

But here’s one important fact that Texas’ conservative and libertarian boosters reliably fail to mention (perhaps because they don’t know it): If you’re not rich, Texas is not actually a low-tax state. In fact, most Texans pay more taxes than most Californians. That seems strange and incorrect at first — Texas doesn’t even have an income tax! — but it’s true. Thanks to sales and property taxes, Texas is among the states with the ten most regressive tax systems. Texans in the bottom 60 percent of income distribution all pay higher effective tax rates than their Californian counterparts. Texas’ top one-percent are the ones enjoying the supposed low-tax utopia, paying an effective rate of 3.2 percent. The rate for the lowest 20 percent is 12.6 percent. Kevin Drum has a helpful chart.

via The “Texas Miracle” fraud: Turns out it involves taxing the poor to help the rich get richer –

This is why many very rich Texans have hundred of millions to piss away on politicians, they don’t pay that money in Taxes.

We also see the regressive tax situation hit reality in the toll road expansion.  Because the wealthy can pay less in taxes than they pay in political donations, everyone else has to pay for the highways.  This means a net cash flow out of Texas, on an ongoing basis, and adds to the costs incurred by workers while saving businesses money.

Which is to say…exactly what the article does.

Reality Vs. Republican Reality (Women’s Health in Texas)

That prospect is especially concerning because Texas Republicans have already taken drastic measures to reduce these types of preventative health resources for low-income women in the state. In 2011, they slashed family planning funding and forced many women’s health clinics to either contract their services or shut down altogether. Last year, they successfully defunded Planned Parenthood, a move that forced even more clinics — including dozens that weren’t even affiliated with the national women’s health organization — to close their doors. The result? Texas is now funding 176 fewer health clinics than it did in 2011, and over 50 have been forced to shut down because of it. 200,000 women have already lost access to preventative care like birth control and cancer screenings. The state’s health department has projected that there will be an additional 24,000 unintended births as a result of the cuts because so many women are struggling to access the contraceptive services they need.

via What The Mainstream Media Misses About Texas’ Ongoing Abortion Battle | ThinkProgress.

And oh, they crow, we’re doing this for “women’s” health…unborn women who are actually fetuses and completely dependent on actual human women to live….those actual living humans who will now get less healthcare options and service.

This, folks, is why you don’t want to get theocrats in your democracy.  It’s why we founded this country, to get away from the religious nutballs trying to enforce their myopic laws on the rest of us.

And here they are again, cheered on by the very people who claim to support “women”.   Hypocrites, the lot of ’em.

Texas Lawmakers Short Term Moralistic Law Leads to Long Term Funding Issues

When state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Now they are facing the policy implications — and, in some cases, reconsidering.The latest Health and Human Services Commission projections being circulated among Texas lawmakers indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control. The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273 million — $103 million to $108 million to the state’s general revenue budget alone — and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those infants under Medicaid.

via Likely Increase in Births Has Some Lawmakers Revisiting Cuts –

This is a good example of bad governance.  Texas legislators took their hatred of Planned Parendhood and gutted the funding for it…which is the main source of birth control for lower income citizens.

Without that birth control, more folks who already are under severe financial pressure with find themselves under even more severe financial pressure, which is where social services have to be increased to pick up the slack.

Short-sighted moralistic laws are never a good idea.   This serves as the next real-world example of that truism.

Texas Attorney General Compares Planned Parenthood To Terrorist Organization, Then ClaimS He Didn’t

Just two hours after a U.S. district judge stopped a Texas law that would have eliminated Planned Parenthood’s participation in the state’s Women’s Health Program, Federal Appeals Judge Jerry E. Smith issued an emergency stay that lifted that order.

In the appeal for the emergency stay, a team of attorneys led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott compared Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization.

“Planned Parenthood does not provide any assurance that the tax subsidies it receives from the Women’s Health Program have not been used directly or indirectly to subsidize its advocacy of elective abortion,” Abbott wrote in his motion to stay the injunction. “Nor is it possible for Planned Parenthood to provide this assurance.”

“Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies — even if ‘earmarked’ for nonabortion activities — free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions … (because ‘[m]oney is fungible,’ First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to ‘humanitarian’ activities performed by terrorist organizations).”

via Texas Attorney General Compares Planned Parenthood To Terrorist Organization.

This pretty much just disgusts me.  In order to get after a small percentage of women making horribly difficult choices in an increasingly difficult work situation (that whole wealth disparity thing I go on and on about affects women disproportionately…in the bad way), there are going to be massive collateral damage as the fundies look for loopholes to punish helping poor women.

If you want to ban abortion, try to pass an amendment to the Constitution doing so.  Quit trying to redefine words, claim helping women is an act of terrorism, claiming a fertilized egg is a functioning citizen, shoving wands up vaginas against the people’s will AND BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT.

That’s what really disgusts me about this whole debate…the base dishonesty.

I was going to make a joke about this article, then I got to photo 14

Cedric Steele, who has been living in an abandoned home on Donnelly Avenue, was arrested late Tuesday in a convenience store parking lot in the 6000 block of Camp Bowie Boulevard, Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said.

He faces a charge of arson of a building. Bond is set at $50,000.

Steele had visited Davis’ office Friday and again Monday, requesting to speak with the senator about a tazing incident that occurred in Michigan, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

He left behind part of a dead animal, “stating it was a new species and wanted the senator to see it,” the affidavit said.

Davis said Steele’s demeanor and his demands led her staff members to believe that “he was probably not completely stable.”

Police said Steele likely acted alone. Police found empty bottles, wicks and an empty can of lighter fluid in the vacant house, Halstead said.

via Affidavit: Man who attacked senator’s office spoke of aliens | Crime and Safety | News f….

Just to follow the train of thought on this one….it started herethen went here.…and stopped on photo 14.

Cedric Steele

Cedric Steele, 40, was arrested in connection with the attack on state Sen. Wendy Davis’ Fort Worth office.

If there was anything politically motivated about this one, it was a silent protect against funding cuts of mental health practitioners.

More than 20,000 Texans who receive state-funded mental health services would lose care under budget cuts proposed this week by the Department of State Health Services.

The agency — acting on an order from state leaders to reduce its 2012-13 budget by 10 percent — released a list this week of $245.9 million in proposed cuts. And while services across the agency were affected, mental health programs took the hardest hit — $134 million in proposed cuts.

A proposed $80 million cut to the state’s 39 publicly supported community mental health centers, which provide low-cost psychiatric care for poor or uninsured people, would eliminate services to 11,000 adults and 2,000 children across Texas, according to the agency.

Another $44 million in cuts to five state psychiatric hospitals — in Austin, Terrell, San Antonio, Rusk and Wichita Falls — would eliminate 183 beds, or 12 percent of their total capacity. Austin State Hospital would lose 24 of its 299 beds.

It wouldn’t be that strange that my President is more popular than my Governor…but I live in Texas…soo….?

AUSTIN — Rick Perry’s dismal showing in the presidential contest has plunged his approval among Texans to its lowest level in a decade, and more than half say in a new poll that he should not seek re-election as governor.

The poll by The Dallas Morning News shows that Perry now has a lower job approval rating in his home state than President Barack Obama, despite the GOP’s domination in Texas. Many also say that Perry damaged Texas’ image with his stumbles as a presidential candidate.

via Perry’s job approval plunges after failed presidential run, News poll shows | Perry Watch – News for Dallas, Texas – The Dallas Morning News.

Obama ended the Iraq War…Perry seemed to want to fight it again is one explanation…I guess.  Still pretty wild stuff.

Texas governor calls for prayers for rain, Obama asks him to just call

(Reuters) – Texas Governor Rick Perry called for three days of prayer for rain as a wave of moisture and cooler temperatures on Thursday helped firefighters contain wildfires that have charred more than 1.5 million acres across the state this year.

Perry sought increased federal help in combating the blazes last weekend and urged Texans to ask the same from a higher power over the Easter holiday weekend.

via Texas governor calls for prayers for rain | Reuters.

“Throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer,” Perry said in a statement on Thursday.

“It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires.”

While we’re at it, why not go ahead and add a prayer to end global warming, which is driving this drought (as predicted*).  If you do that and petition your reps for policy help on the issue, we might actually make some progress here.   Well, the praying is more for you (so you’ll feel better), the policy changes are what addresses the actual issue.

BTW, for those of you hoping the vaunted brains in the GOP would expose global climate change as a liberal myth, you might be as disappointed as they were.



A top climate scientist warned Wednesday that Texas faces a dual threat from floods and drought if global warming is left unchecked.

James Hansen, in Houston to speak before the Progressive Forum on Wednesday night, said predictions made two decades ago about the effects of a warming world are now beginning to come true.

“Texas is in the line of fire for double-barreled climate impacts,” said Hansen, who heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “What we said in the 1980s, and is beginning to come true now, is that both ends of the hydrological cycle get intensified by global warming.”

A warmer climate increases evaporation, he said. It both sucks moisture from the ground, intensifying drought, and increases atmospheric humidity, which causes more rain to fall during extreme events.

UPDATE: It should be noted quickly that two things happened subsequent to this post.

Obama came to Texas (and told a bunch of truths).

May 10, 2011 5:48 PM

President Obama in El Paso today tried to make the case that his administration is doing everything immigration reform opponents have said needed to be done before immigration reform could be tackled.

And so did the rain.

Published : Thursday, 12 May 2011, 8:57 AM CDT

Austin, TX – Much needed rain hit Central Texas Wednesday evening and continued into Thursday morning.

It was the biggest rain event in eight months.

Late Friday Link Dump 3/25 (Turned into Intellgient Design Slam, Soon to be Illegal in Texas)

Couple quick ones to start off with…the Don’t Make Us Pay stuff is getting more exposure.  Here they go with “dazzling hypocrisy” and include some samples of the banner ads.   Over here they just call it “dishonesty“.   Both of those are moving up the search results lists, and this should help.

Speaking of the Fed and Big Banks, the Fed recently rejected a couple plans for dividend pay-outs.   The third comment (or so) there nails the reason why.. B of A still has a bunch of stuff on their books that nobody knows the value of, and the Fed is taking the safe route (having finally been burned massively by taking banks’ word for it).

A couple beautiful things before we get to the politics…a nice real-time view of huge charged-particle releases in the upper atmosphere and a slightly accelerated version of the stuff from last week [news story about the process].

Next we have the curiously accurate English sentence of ‘Newt deletes tweets‘.   I guess when you get hammered for such obvious hypocrisy, you have to do some serious white-washing before blatant hypocrisy becomes endemic to your campaign.   To be sure, this is the guy who used his overwhelming love of country as a rationalization for infidelity (yea, for reals), so I don’t doubt his wriggliness and this latest huge, obvious, contemporary, topical flip-flop won’t deter his most fervent supporters (if any ever materialize).

Steve Inskeep points out how NPR has an obvious liberal bias, citing their propensity to put themselves in harm’s way in order to accurately report on world events (I guess the alternative or “conservative” news gathering method is to sit in a studio and opine on the news gathered by others, while simultaneously slamming them for bias.)

Keep slamming hispanics, RepublicansIt’s political genius, I tells ya.

Keep slamming science, RepublicansREALLY SLAM THAT SHIT!!! It’s political genius, I tells ya.

Here is how stupid the guy who put this bill together is.  Yes, saying that might very well be soon against the law in Texas (it’s called “small government” or as it used to be known “Big Brother”).

Mother Jones: Are you a creationist?

Rep. Bill Zedler of Arlington [who authored the bill]: Evolutionists will go “Oh, it just happened by chance.” Today we know that’s false  [Ed noteYes, we know your understanding of evolution is false.  “It happened by chance” is not in any way, shape, or form, equal to evolutionary theory.  This is why these idiots hate evolution, they have no idea what it actually is.].

Today we know that even a single-celled organism is hugely complex. When was the last time we’ve seen someone go into a windstorm or a tornado or any other kind of natural disaster, and say “Guess what? That windstorm just created a watch.” [Ed Note: The “watch” is a reference to one and only “thought experiment” associated with “proving” Intelligent Design.   It goes thusly; break a watch into a bunch of pieces (or take a bunch of watch pieces), put them in the clothes dryer (or something else to randomly shake them up), turn the dryer on and leave it for an arbitrary amount of time.  Did the watch randomly re-assemble?  No.  Therefore evolution is false.   And yes, that is *all* the experiments behind the movement.]

MJ: Are you saying a windstorm is like the Big Bang?

BZ: It has to do with things occurring by chance. [Ed note: The “windstorm” is the clothes dryer in his thought example.]

MJ: Ok. [Long pause]. Is a windstorm analogous to a genetic mutation?

BZ: Well, not really. I don’t want to go that far. [Ed note: He can’t go that far as this is now beyond his own understanding of what he just said.   The ID “thought experiment” is not even an accurate metaphor for any of the well understood functions of evolution.]  Let me put it to you this way: When we talk about people with faith, there is no greater faith than that life began by chance [Ed note: This is where creationists fail horribly.  Two reasons.  First is the total fail of thinking that evolution theory is the same thing as “chance”.  Second, folks like this think people who understand evolutionary theory do so only on faith, not on the mountains and mountains of data that support and, over the year, have expanded the theory], with the amount of knowledge that we know now.

MJ: I thought people doing work on the science of evolution typically don’t weigh in on what caused the beginning of life.

BZ: I wonder why? [Ed noteEssentially because most of evolutionary theory deals with how existing life changes and adapts.  There is also a reluctance, in actual science, to draw big conclusions when one doesn’t have sufficient big data to support them.  Current frontrunners for where life came from originally, IMHO, include abiogenesis, and, along a similar vein, panspermia. These are, at most, small subsets of evolutionary theory, and ones where getting good data is hard as hell (but not impossible, we just have to scoop dust from comets to do it).

MJ: They say they don’t know the answer.

BZ: If somebody does decide to weigh in, why should they be discriminated against? [Ed note: Because if they “weigh in” on a big scientific question, with no data, no experiments, and no possibility of falsification, it ain’t science.]

MJ: Because they don’t have the scientific evidence to substantiate their views.

BZ: The debate ought to be: “How did it happen?” But we’re not gonna allow that one to be brought up! I don’t think they oughta be thrown off campus if they come up with it. [Ed noteThis is the really sad part, and where I’ll leave this…”the debate out to be”…is a political statement, not a scientific one.  This whole charade is about forcing religion*, through politics, into science.   This is just about the lowest of the low, as far as the intellectual honesty scales go.

* For those that are yet unaware, “Intelligent Design” is a re-branding of creationism, with the added bells and dog-whistle “watch” thought experiment I mentioned previously. Read this judge’s opinion for the full examination of this association.]

[you can read the rest here]

[here’s the text of the bill PDF]

BTW, and as a final note on this….the last sentence of the bill includes this phrase…”or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.”

This, as all pastafarians know, is a direct reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.   FSM was originally conceived (revealed) to be the actual creator a few years ago when it became clear that the physical evidence that FSM created everything was equal to the physical evidence that any other being/entity create everything.

If this bill passes….I’m pretty sure it’s going to be time to start teaching this FSM theory to everyone, and suing every private school that discriminate against me for trying to teach it by not hiring me to teach it.

Separate But Equal (but not really) Returns to Texas, Hardcore

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee just passed the “Choose Life” license plates bill by a 5-1 vote.

Dallas GOP Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, said he’d support an amendment that would create a license plate advocated by pro-choicers – who want the state to sell plates advocated both sides of the issue – if they can get the votes for it. But since the votes aren’t there for it, the bill will hit the Senate floor as is.

via Choose Life plates speed through Senate committee | Trail Blazers Blog |

The Derp, Derp legislature continues.  This was sad news, as I’ve met John Carona and didn’t think he was a total d-bag.   My bad.

BTW, did you know that Texas is going to require ID’s from all voters…except for Tea Party folks?  Yup, that’s the plan…

AUSTIN – A House panel is debating legislation that would require most voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot.

The bill, being heard Tuesday in a special House committee, has already cleared the Senate and is on the fast track for approval in the Legislature. Democrats and civil rights groups say the legislation would erect new voting hurdles for minorities and the poor. Republicans say it’s needed to combat voter fraud.

The bill exempts people over 70.

Read more:

You know how it is, separate rules, but “equal”.  Should work just fine, like it did last time.

What other fine ideas are they throwing around in Austin?  Let’s take a look..

As proposed, House Bill 2012 would create tough state punishments for those who “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” hire an unauthorized immigrant. Violators could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

But it is an exception included in the bill that is drawing attention. Those who hire unauthorized immigrants would be in violation of the law — unless they are hiring a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker.

That’s to make sure future gubernatorial candidates don’t have to pass jail on their way to the statehouse.   See…it’s just fine to hire illegals, but only as servants.   Can we brand them with little Mexcian-stars too?  That will make them easier to round up when the next inevitable step is taken after de-humanization.

Other silliness?

Leo Berman [R] himself has filed a number of immigrant-related bills this legislative session. One would make English the official language of Texas, a move that would save millions in printing costs, he said. The law wouldn’t affect schools or ballots, he added.

Aaah, how nice, and doubleplus feelgood for the teatarded and totally useless for the rest of us.   I’m guessing this guy didn’t notice the census.   Or the research, but whatever.

Another bill would place an 8% surcharge on all money wired from Texas to Latin America. About $480 million could be collected from money sent to Mexico alone, the representative said. The proceeds would be earmarked for state hospitals.

This is pretty slick…get a bunch of cheap, underclass workers with no chance of assimilation, make it illegal to talk to them in their own language, and then rip them off when they try to wire the money home.     Add in the extra 6.2% (well, 4.2% this year) that everyone with a fake social security number pays (they pay into the system, but never pull out), and you see why this quote came next…

Amid all of these tough proposals, why the large exception to Riddle’s bill on hiring unauthorized workers?

Riddle did not return repeated calls for comment. Her office said she would not comment on the bill because it could still be modified.

In a interview with the Texas Tribune, Riddle’s chief of staff, Jon English, explained that the exception was to avoid “stifling the economic engine” in Texas.

This, BTW, is an economic engine driven by cheap labor.   The plan, as it stands, seems to be to try and set up a permanent underclass down around these parts.   I’d guess it’s going to be a rather dismal failure, but then again, when has any government run by Republicans not been? (serious question…I’d love to see the record for *other* governments run by a single party of Republicans…like Texas is now…it led the U.S. into our worst economy in a century)

And as a final cherry in the you’ve-got-to-be-frickin-kidding-me news from Texas.  Here’s out geographically challenged longest-serving governor ever…

During a sit down with reporters on Monday, the Texas governor incorrectly identified Juarez — located across the Rio Grande, and border, from El Paso — as “the most dangerous city in America.”

Read more:

So we’ve got a legislature that is doing its best to turn actual Texans into an underclass, and a Governor who uses Mexicans dying by the thousands as a reason the President isn’t doing his job protecting Americans.

It’s a great state, really it is, but it seems many have forgotten what makes it great.

Lobbying and the Exotic Game Preserve and Landfill

Got a few updates for you this week, both on a personal note and the standard “what’s going on in the world” beat.

Here’s the first video from my week, prepping to head down to Austin to talk to various Representatives and Senators about a problem that I am helping to create.  A quick bit of background on this one…I am a computer geek.  A hardcore one.  Have been since I was about 5 and first sat down at a computer.

Skip ahead about 30 years and computers have become ubiquitous in our lives.  They surround us, constantly.  We use them for everything, including most of our jobs.  I’m such a huge fan of computers that I’ve made it something of a personal goal to get one into the hands of every learning child (or adult) on the planet before I die (yea… I know…it’s my short “dream” bucket list). 

However, with every advancement of human civilization comes a cost.  The cost we have here, in one respent (there are others) is that many of these computing machines die, and where they go when they die has become a large question for our society.   Who cares for them when they die?  Who makes sure they are buried correctly?  Safely?  Are they re-incarnated?  Incincerated?  What are we doing with our marvelous silicon and [insert various elements here] creations?

And so it was that this question was thrown to me in the form of a job, organizing a community in order to solve a problem (what to do with these machines when they die) and represent a solution.  It in the guise of this solution that I visited Austin to present the best current forms of a solution, in the form of legislation for the State of Texas, to their offices.

Our solution?  Keep these beasts of metal and silicon out of places like the one I am going to show you below.  Get them back into circulation completely, and let the electrons flow again.   Keep all electronics, and their fabulous minds of metal, and exotic elements, out of the landfills.  Period.

Which brings us to the first video of the week…

And so it was, pimped out and proper that I headed down to the annual meeting of the organization I was working with…

…which brings us to the exotic game preserve / landfill where the annual meeting was to be held, prior to the main visis to the Capital building.

Here’s some video of that event.  Rest assured, I made a quick superman-like change from business to ultra-casual in the parking lot before the tour commenced…

The Basic Game Reserve and Tree Farm…


The Landfill..


The Giraffe…

And so it was that the week began, thinking of computers and petting giraffes.

Lobbying turned out to be as straightforward as possbile.  Call to set up an appointment with an aide.  Drop by an office and drop off a few hundred personal letters from that Representatives consituents.   Ask the aide to sponsor or co-author the bills that all the constituents wrote to ask about.  Follow-up with both aides and constituents.

Rinse, Recycle, Repeat.

That’s the democratic process, right there.  At least the part that happens between elections when the real work gets done.  In a democracy we often think that once the election is over, our part in the process is finished.   In the real world, the election is only the start and end of a pragmatically infinite process.  It is a process that requires constant attention in order to influence the outcome.   Hence the reason it is such a fabulous game to play.

The way I played this game last week started out at a landfill went to the Capital (which has some curious similarities with the landfill…) and then back to the street to get some more pressure on those legislators who wanted to hear more about the issue.   More pressure and more letters and more people.

And very little money.  Such is how it works in the grassroots.  The grassroots of Texas that can, like the heartland of Africe, support some very interesting game.

More updates on this one coming.  The Texas Legislature is only in session for just under two more months, and some of the bills are making progress.   I’ll let you know how it all rolls out…


I Come From a City Full Of Terrorists

It turns out I have a lot closer ties to terrorism than even I thought.   You might too.

If you have ever given money to a hospital, you might be a terrorist.

If you have ever helped the poor, especially some of the poorest in the world, you might be a terrorist.

If you have ever given money, or donated services, to a school, you might be a terrorist.

Even if you have never advocated a violent action, or done one, or given money to someone who does, you STILL might be a terrorist.

And this is considered one of the greatest “victories” by Bush in the Global War on Terror.  

U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the attacks of Sept. 11.

The convictions follow the collapse of Holy Land’s first trial last year and defeats in other cases the government tried to build. President George W. Bush had personally announced the freezing of Holy Land’s assets in 2001, calling the action “another step in the war on terrorism.”

Holy Land wasn’t accused of violence. Rather, the government said the Richardson, Texas-based charity financed schools, hospitals and social welfare programs controlled by Hamas in areas ravaged by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Prosecutors labeled Holy Land’s benefactors — called zakat committees — as terrorist recruiting pools. The charities, the government argued, spread Hamas’ violent ideology and generated loyalty and support among Palestinians.

Holy Land supporters told a different story. They accused the government of politicizing the case as part of its war on terrorism, while attorneys for the foundation said Holy Land’s mission was philanthropy and providing much-needed aid to the Middle East.

They reminded jurors that none of the zakat committees are designated by the U.S. as terrorist fronts, and that Holy Land also donated to causes elsewhere, including helping victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

[full story]

For those completely ignorant of Islam (like most of the Texas jurors in the case) “zakat” is one of the five pillars upon which the religion is based.  The word literally means “alms for the poor.”   The cultural translation to the Western world would be “tithing” (at least in those religions where tithing isn’t really optional if you want to be a member in good standing.)

Regardless, you can probably guess that “zakat communities” are composed of some of the poorest folks around.  And when you take the poorest people in one of the poorest “countries” in the world, you are talking fairly destitute.

One would think that it would be the “Christian” thing to do to help them.  Maybe try and build schools and hospitals?

Well, if one thought that, one would be thinking like an actual Christian, not an American one.   In the U.S. it is a terrorist act to help the poor.

At least in Bush’s America.

Note: This is the second trial for these folks.  The first was declared a mistrial.  Why?   Hmmm, how to explain this….ah here we go….23% of Texans still thought Obama was Muslim before the election.  Understand what I’m dealing with here?  Good, glad that’s clear.

Here’s some excerpts from a story about the first mistrial….

October 23, 2007

The U.S. Justice Department suffered a major setback in another high-profile terrorist prosecution Monday when its criminal case against five former officials of a now-defunct Islamic charity collapsed into a tangle of legal confusion.

U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish declared a mistrial, but not before it became clear that the government’s landmark terrorism finance case – and one of its most-costly post-9/11 prosecutions – was in serious trouble.

His decision came after jury verdicts were read to a packed courtroom indicating that none of the defendants had been found guilty on any of the 200 combined counts against them. Jurors had acquitted defendants on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to providing material support for terrorists.

However, during routine polling of the jurors to determine that their votes were accurately reflected in the findings, two said they were not. When efforts to reconcile the surprise conflict failed, Fish declared the mistrial.

The case presented to a Texas jury of eight women and four men relied heavily on Israeli intelligence and involved disputed documents and electronic surveillance gathered by federal agents over a span of nearly 15 years.

[I’m sorry, but how is foreign intelligence colllected using Mossad tactics admissable in U.S./Texas courts?  Just curious if anyone knows…]

Juror William Neal, 33, who said his father worked in military intelligence, said that the government’s case had “so many gaps” that he regarded the prosecution as “a waste of time.”

The jury forewoman, who like the other jurors was not identified, told the court she could not explain the positions of the two panelists. “When the vote was [taken]… no one spoke up” about any differences, she said. “I really don’t understand where it’s coming from… all 12 made that decision.”

The judge excused the jurors to work out the discrepancies. About 40 minutes later, they returned to court and the two female jurors both continued to maintain that their verdicts had not been tallied accurately.

As a result, Abdulqader’s acquittal on all counts was set aside, forcing him to face a potential retrial with the others.

Both women had been noted dozing off during court proceedings, and juror Neal said one of them also fell asleep during deliberations. The latter, he said, voted guilty from the beginning, was confused by the evidence and much of the time declined to participate in deliberations.

This is probably the part that kills me the most.  Some idiot racist decided by looking at the defendants they were guilty and skipped the actual trial and evidence part (and that assumption of innocence).   So the acquittal gets set aside, the government gets to play some Double Jeopardy, and do a better job picking idiots to the jury.

In 2004, the government alleged that Holy Land and its officials funneled about $12 million to Hamas through local charities called zakat committees. The government argued that from its inception Holy Land was intended to be a fundraising tool for Hamas, a contention that was never documented in court.

[full story]

So it looks like the government argument here was very similar to the Bush Administration argument for invading Iraq; “Sure, these particular people didn’t attack us and aren’t a threat to us…but they sure do look like people who are.”

It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.

On the personal note, I grew up in Richardson, Texas, THE HOTBED OF TERRORIST FINANCING IN THE U.S.

No wonder I ended up being a flippin’ RobotPirateNinja, those were some hard streets.

Should I just turn myself in now?  Or wait for them to come get me?  After all, I am now it would seem, defending terrorists convicted for helping the poor and sickly.  

Curious world Bush gave us.