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A refurbished Canon Digital Rebel XT SLR Camera Body Kit was recently readily available for $399. To read the very first article on this series, please see Part One: Establishing The Basics: A Digital Camera Buying Guide. All cameras require cleaning camera addons including the cleaning kit.

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Another Fiscal Cliff Approaches

Six months have passed since the last post on this blog. Last time we were talking about the fiscal cliff, today another fiscal cliff looms.

Radicals in the GOP are emboldened that they think Obama will blink. They see Obama's pull back in bombing Syria and allowing negotiations over chemical weapons as a sign of weakness. Thus, they are confident that threatening government shutdown and national default will lead Obama to give up on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

If the GOP miscalulates, economic catastrophe could occur. A default on the national debt would lead to financial panic and economic collapse. But many radical Republicans are alot like the Taliban. They believe that in order to save the village, you must burn the village. Other Republicans are worried that Obama, being the first black president, may go down in history as a great president. They are eager to prevent this by letting America burn.

 

 

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Most people think that dogs are completely color blind. This is practically the most common myth about dog eyesight. However, dogs can actually see colors although their sense of sight is not as keen as that of humans. Dogs don’t recognize figures by their texture or details but on their forms and shapes. And while their sense of sight is not as keen as humans, their ability to capture and hunt their prey is incomparable.

Find Out More About "Understanding More About Dog Eyesight". Interested in Pets or Animals? Check Out "My Animal Journal" Here.

 

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  • Intruding Upon the Constitution by the Religious Right

     

    by WALTER BRASCH

     

    Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky, of Peoria, Ill., ordered all parish priests in his diocese to read a letter to their congregations condemning Barack Obama. The letter, to be read the weekend before the election, declared that Obama and the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate had launched an “assault upon our religious freedom.”

    He wasn’t the only priest who used the pulpit to attack the President. Bishop David Lauren of Green Bay, Wisc., told his congregations that voting for Obama and other candidates who were pro-choice or who believed in embryonic stem cell research or gay marriage could put their “soul in jeopardy.” Others, primarily from evangelical Protestant faiths, were even more adamant in their religious intolerance, declaring that voting for Obama would definitely condemn their souls to Hell.

    Southern Baptist evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, said President Obama was “waving his fist before God” by supporting same-sex marriage and women’s abortion rights. In full-page newspaper ads, shortly before the election, the 94-year-old Billy Graham, whose words may have been written by his son, declared that Americans should vote for “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles.” Those principles, according to the ad, include opposition to same-sex marriage. A spokesman for the Grahams said that neither person endorses candidates. However, Billy Graham reportedly told Romney he would do “all I can to help you,” and removed Mormonism from a list of cults on one of their web pages. In February, Franklin Graham, who earns about $600,000 a year as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, declared that Obama had plans to create “a new nation without God or perhaps under many gods.”

    The re-election of President Obama didn’t stop the attacks. The Rev. Jerry Priscano, a Catholic priest from Erie, Pa., said Obama was the anti-Christ. On his Facebook page, he declared, “It will only be a matter of time before our nation is completely destroyed,” and that Hurricane Sandy, apparently a sign from God to the liberal northeast, “was only the beginning.”

    A Pew Forum study of the 2012 vote showed that white Catholics favored Romney (59%–40%), Hispanic Catholics overwhelming supported Obama (75–21). Romney also had the evangelical Christians (79–20), and other Protestants (57–42). Although Romney pandered to Jewish voters, claiming he would be Israel’s best friend, and that Obama couldn’t be trusted, Jews went for Obama (69–30). The Pew exit poll measured only persons who identified themselves as Jews or Christians.

    Factoring into the vote against Barack Obama is religious bigotry that drips with the hatred of anything not Christian. About one-fourth of all White evangelical Protestants believe he is a Muslim, although the President goes to a Protestant church and has never held Muslim values or beliefs. In one of the great leaps of faith, evangelicals also believe Obama is a “godless socialist Muslim,” something much rarer than a Klan leader voting for a Black Jew for president. Overall, about one-sixth of Americans believe he is Muslim, according to a poll by Public Religion Research Institute. Ironically, most evangelical Protestants also believe Mormonism is a non-Christian cult and refused to support Mitt Romney in the primaries. Faced by a “Muslim” and a Mormon in the general election, the evangelicals supported the Mormon, who had flip-flopped from moderate to conservative to get the nomination and then tried tacking slightly to the center for the general election.

    The right-wing believe that America is a Christian nation and should elect only like-minded Christians to office. Even many Christian religions, such as Unitarianism, are suspect in the eyes of those who absolutely believe they absolutely know God’s intent, and everyone else is wrong. They support Israel, far closer to being a socialist nation than the U.S. ever will be, as a Biblical necessity, but would be conflicted if a Jew should ever become a major party candidate for president.

    The religious bigots claim the U.S. was founded by Christians and is a Christian nation—or, reluctantly, say it is a Judeo-Christian nation. But, no matter how much they screech, the facts don’t support their beliefs. George Washington declared, “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” John Adams and the Senate later ratified a treaty with those exact words.

    Most of the Founding Fathers were primarily deists, not Christians, and specifically rejected many Christian beliefs, including the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus, and that the Bible was written by God. They also believed that God, having given mankind the power of reason, then stayed out of the lives of His people. Among the deists were Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Monroe. But they and the other Founding Fathers were explicit in their declaration, embedded into the First Amendment that established the principle that all people had a right to their own religious beliefs.

    Several distinguished historians (including Drs. James McGregor Burns and Richard Hofstadter, each of whom won the Pulitzer Prize for history) have pointed out that in 1776 and much of the 19th century, as much as 90 percent of the population did not identify with the Christian church.

    There is another aspect to the First Amendment, often overlooked by those who don’t know history or Constitutional law, yet believe they do. Jefferson, in his first year as president, in a letter to a Baptist congregation, referred to the intent of one of the five parts of the First Amendment as “building a wall of separation between church and state.” Numerous times, the Founding Fathers had reaffirmed this separation, creating what became known as the “establishment clause” in 1787. Several rulings by the Supreme Court reaffirmed this doctrine.

    However, 28 percent of Americans, according to a Nate Silver poll in February, don’t believe there is a Constitutional separation of church and state. The Constitutionally-ignorant have established religious tests for persons seeking political office. It should make no difference if Mitt Romney is a Mormon. It should also make no difference if Barack Obama is or is not a Muslim, Protestant, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Pagan, Vodun, Vodouist, or even an atheist.

    But it may be a Hindu, Gandhi, who has last the last word. Discussing his experience with missionaries in South Africa, he said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” He was specific in his dislike for some, but not all, Christians. He had never met the extreme right-wing.

     [Dr. Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist. His latest book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which looks at religion, history, and social issues.]

               

     

     

     

    Why Doesn't Obama Order the Military to Help New Jersey

     

    Obama like George Bush gets all worked up when some goatherder stumps their toe in Afghanistan. So he rushes in with thousands of US Army troops to keep the government in business.

    So now Mr. Obama has a huge crisis not 2 hundred miles from the White House. So just like Mr. Bush, he takes a tour in Air Force One. The people on the ground are getting more miserable by the hour. What does he do? Nothing basically except give them platitudes and a phone number to call. Horsefeathers!! these people need food, water, and electricty--some need a place to live. Why not open up Fort Dix, why not use a huge nuclear powered aircraft carrier to help with sick homeless people on its decks (does he need all those carriers in case of some attack?).

    His bubble is just like Bush's. He really believes in my view that the local "first responders" can handle this --- HEY THIS ISN'T A BARN FIRE---MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE HURTING. Why don't you get the Army and Navy in there to help the local police and fire department. Our military has proved that it cannot beat a bunch of goatherders in Afghanistan so maybe they can help out here.

     

    Will the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy be Obama's Katrina

    Like many of you I was watching some great news reporting during storm Sandy hitting the East Coast and the storms aftermath. The damage is colossal--its scale is perhaps 10 times that of Katrina. Fortunately, the loss of life is just a fraction of that which killed and injured the thousands of souls in New Orleans. What struck me however, is the response to the suffering that is now coming to the fore by the Obama White House. Sure, we have the President and a team of top government and FEMA officials looking quite serious before the cameras. Obama is making all the PC statements about calling him if you get bound up by redtape.

    Horsefeathers! The Obama White House response to this huge multistate crisis is almost just like that of the Bush White House. It took Bush's team almost 2 weeks to finally realize (DUH!) that there is only one group of people who have the power to get things in the disaster zones back in order. THE UNITED STATES ARMY. Just like Bush, Obama, continually wrings his hands over situations in Somalia, Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, Afghanistan, etc. while millions of Americans within 2 hundreds miles of him go without food, water, and electricity.

    Just yesterday while he flew around in Air Force One (just like Bush) looking down from 10,000 feet, while people in the destroyed cities and towns were getting desperate without basic food. WHERE IS GENERAL HONOREE?  It  took that General directing the American Army to rescue New Orleans--this crisis might easily require every one in our Armed Forces with their big trucks, their heliocopters, and their amphib craft to get these people basic food and resources.  The US ARMY (I am a Army Vet) is the only group in the United States that is big enough and has the resources to handle this. I don't think that will get through the White House bubble though--so far it doesn't seem so.

    I told my wife--just wait 3 more days. If Obama doesn't get General Honoree on the job with our military to help out these people, the roar will begin just like it did for Bush. Bush's popularity dropped 20 points for his handling of Katrina. Can you just image what will happen to Obama's popularity.  If Obama doesn't get going and soon, he might as well call a U-Haul because the Romney people will point to him and say--"Where was Obama when millions of people in New York and New Jersey needed his help" That will be legitimate critic too. THERE IS NO CIVILIAN BASED AGENCY i.e. FEMA that can get "local first responders" to do this work. They don't have the manpower, equipment, or funding to do it.

     

     

    BREAKING NEWS: AP, Media Fumble News Story

     

    by Walter Brasch

     

    On the Sunday before the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney and some of his senior staffers played a flag football game with members of the Press Corps on Delray Beach, Fla.

    Ashley Parker of the Associated Press, apparently mistaking fashion reporting for news, reported that Mitt Romney was “wearing black shorts, a black Adidas T-shirt and gray sneakers.” Romney’s team, composed of senior campaign staff whom Parker identified, was “clad in red T-shirts.” She didn’t report what the members of the press wore, their names, or how many were on a team, but did acknowledge she “also played, winning the coin toss for her team, but doing little else by way of yardage accrual.” Yardage accrual? If this was Newswriting 101, and she put that phrase into a news story, there wouldn’t be one college prof anywhere in the country who wouldn’t have red-marked it, and suggested she stop trying to be cute.

    Romney was a starter—we don’t know which position he played—made a “brief beach appearance” and left when “the game was in full swing,” possibly not wanting to get too mussed up by having to interact with commoners. There is so much a reporter could have done with Romney’s failure to finish the game, but didn’t. Parker, however, did tell readers breathlessly awaiting the next “factoid” that Ann Romney “made a brief appearance . . . after cheerleading from the sidelines.” She was protected by the Secret Service who served as the offensive line, undeniably allowing her to take enough time to do her nails, brush her hair, put on another coat of makeup for the AP camera, and then throw a touchdown pass to tie the game at 7–7. At 14–14, the game was called because, reported Parker, “Mr. Romney’s aides needed to get to debate prep, and the reporters had stories to file.” Obviously, stories about a beach flag football game on a Sunday afternoon was critical enough breaking news to stop the game and breathlessly inform the nation.


    Amidst the sand, Parker reported, “There is a long history of candidates and their staff members occasionally interacting with reporters on a social level.” She referred to a couple events during the 2008 campaign; Sen. Barack Obama played Taboo with reporters; Sen. John McCain hosted a barbeque for the media. Those facts alone should have kept any alert comedy writer, satirist, or political pundit in material for the next four years.

    A beach football game between politician and press may seem innocent enough—a couple of hours of fun to break the stress of a long, and usually annoying, political campaign. But there’s far more than flags pulled from shorts.
    Reporters who socialize with the power elite—and this happens far more than it doesn’t happen—often fail to do their primary job: challenge authority, as the Founding fathers so eloquently asked. It wasn’t White House reporters who broke the Watergate story that eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, it was two police reporters at the Washington Post, who took abuse heaped upon them by the White House reporters and hundreds of others, including some of their own newspaper, for going on what was called a vindictive witch hunt.  It was the media who proved they were better stenographers than reporters who dutifully chowed down whatever crumbs they were fed by the Bush–Cheney administration, and seldom questioned why the U.S. was invading Iraq. A few from the major media and many from the alternative press who did question authority were dismissed as mere gadflies. It was the sycophantic press that also didn’t question the destruction of civil liberties by the passage of the PATRIOT Act.
    Against policy wonk/environmentalist Al Gore in 2000, Americans said they would rather have a beer with George W. Bush. Many of the press did have beers with candidate Bush, who once invited the media onto his ranch to watch him shoot and then barbeque pigeons for a group barbecue.

    Every year in the nation’s capital is a high society event, the “Gridiron dinner.” Everyone—politicians, members of the press, and a horde of actors and singers—dress up in ball gowns and white-tie tuxedos to drink and schmooze. When it isn’t Gridiron Season, there’s all kinds of social events at all kinds of places that reporters just have to attend in order to get their stories, they simplistically justify.

    Sports reporters who are too close to the teams or the sports they cover are derisively known as “homers,” not for Homer Simpson, who some of them act like, but because they favor the home team. Entertainment reporters and arts critics feel important because publicists will often go to extraordinary lengths to get them face-time with celebrities. To prove how “independent” they are, some, who have no discernible creative talent, will write snarky columns about celebrities and their works, thinking they are clever rather than the pompous self-aggrandizing jerks they really are. Many in the media—especially those in television and the print reporters who often do TV talk-show commentaries—probably should drop the pretense they’re journalists and just accept the appellations that they are celebrities.

    It isn’t just reporters who cover national stories who get too close to their sources. There are now state and metropolitan gridiron dinners. At a local level, Reporters who cover the police and city council are often on a first-name basis with their sources. Even if they honestly believe they are objective, and will knock down lies and deceptions, they often don’t. They believe they need these sources to get more news, and are afraid that if they become too tough, the news, which is fed to them, will somehow dry up. They often accept “background” and “off-the-record” comments, which they never report or attribute, because somehow it makes them feel that they, unlike their readers of a lesser level, are “in the know.” And yet, every reporter will swear upon a stack of style manuals that he or she is objective and independent.

    Don’t believe that? Put yourself in the position of being a reporter. You’re sitting at your desk in the bullpen of a newsroom, now decimated by layoffs. In walks a man in a three-piece suit and a woman in fashionably-acceptable skirt, blouse, blazer, and two-inch heels. They have a story to tell. Now, you may think that because they are PR people or middle-management executives for a large corporation, they are suspect to begin with, but they, like you, are college graduates; they are eloquent; they have a news release with the story laid out. Want anything else? They’re more than pleased to get it for you.

    Now, the next day, while walking outside your office, a bag lady accosts you. She’s wearing little more than rags. Her hair is unkempt; her breath stinks. It’s doubtful she was ever a sorority president. “You a reporter?” she barks, knowing that if you’re wearing jeans, a nice but not expensive shirt and a tie you probably aren’t a corporate executive or big-shot politician. She wants to tell you a story—something about a corporation that did something very unethical and possibly illegal. You’re running late to your appointment with a physical trainer who has promised to keep you fit and attractive. You just want to get past this obstacle.

    Who do you relate to? Those who look, act, and think more like you—or those who you probably wouldn’t have a drink with after work?

    Don’t expect the media to stop having social encounters with their sources; it will never happen. But, do expect that maybe some will heed the call of the Founding Fathers and be independent of the sources they are expected to cover.

    [Walter Brasch spent more than 40 years as a journalist and university professor, covering everything from local school board meetings to the White House.  He is currently a syndicated columnist and book author. He acknowledges that in his early 20s he was enamored by being at the same parties as the “power elite,” but quickly got over it, and has been fiercely independent from the power-elites, including the power-media, whether at local, state, or national levels. His current book is the critically-acclaimed Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution.]

               

     

     

     

    What Rambler Romney and the GOP don't say terror attacks

     

    In the second debate Romney really stepped in dodo when he said that Obama didn't mention a terror attack on the Bengazi embassy which killed four of our State Department staff. True enough, it was established time that it was a terror attack and it killed four people.

    How then didn't Romney (and Obama missed the opportunity to hit back) discuss the fact that on 9/11 we were attacked, over 3000 people were killed, the Bush White House didn't know it was a terrorist attack or a Russian attack or what.

    So why then did everyone fall in and support President Bush but the traitors in the GOP chose to criticize Obama over four dead persons. Only one answer: The GOP is RACIST and find this another way to put down the black president.

     

    What SCOTUS Justice Roberts Fears About an Obama Re-Election

    When SCOTUS Chief Justice Roberts voted that the Affordable Healthcare Law (Obamacare) was constitutional, I along with many liberal/progressives were shocked. Not so much that the vote carried 5 to 4 but the reason that Justice Roberts gave for his Yea vote on this landmark law. To this point in time and since his selection to the court Mr. Roberts could be counted on by the rightwing conservatives in America to vote as an "Right Wing Activist Juror". For years these same conservatives have shouted loudly that what America needs are "strict constructionist constitutional SCOTUS Justices". Then when it seemed as though they would get their wish, the SCOTUS got a 5 to 4 conservative majority and it went to work as a rightwing "Activist" court with Roberts leading the way taking America back to 1890. The Roberts Court has turned activist and has moved to strike down laws which were put in place for over one hundred years.

    Then the rightwingers hit a bump in the road when Justice Roberts voted with the liberal Justices on the court and voted to  make Obamacare the law of the land. Why the dramatic turn to the left for the man who to this point was the point man on of the most conservative voting SCOTUS in United States history? Not since the most obnoxious court rulings of the period in the SCOTUS of 1870 to 1900 which fixed a second class citizenship status upon the negro race in the United States law for the next 80 years until the 1940s and 1950s when SCOTUS ended segregation once and for all under Chief Justice Earl Warren.

    Chief Justice Roberts made liberals and progressives wonder why would he join the liberals on the court to establish a healthcare system available to all citizens of the United States and guaranteed by a mandantory membership system. Conservatives were outraged at Justice Roberts who they felt stabbed them in the back even though it was the GOP who first proposed a mandantory healthcare system back in the early 1990's. It was used as the model for Obamacare when enacted into law in 2010.

    The Chief Justice offered his opinion of support for Obamacare squarely on the Constitution's explicit support of the right of the Federal government to enact taxation to pay for its programs and operations. Good enough. Even though that is taking a strict construction of the Constitution as basis to accent to this hugely important law.

    Questions were raised by Mr. Roberts Yea vote on the law. Some wanted to know if Roberts was in fact turning to the left on social legislation. That idea is fairly weak. As a dogmatic Catholic follower of the darkly sinister Opus Dei cult, it is highly doubtful that Roberts could ever be viewed even as a left leaner. One can only guess as to why Bush 41 and Bush 43 (who are desended New England protestant stock ) would pack the SCOTUS with hardcore Catholic Justices.

    I would like to submit another option as to Chief Justice Roberts sudden turn about to his lifelong rightwing conservative training, teaching, and personal outlook. Perhaps the Chief Justice is hedging his bet on the re-election of Barack Obama. What does this mean. Consider your political science courses in college. The professors stressed that over the years with a few exceptions, Chief Justices like to leave a legal / landmark legal legacy. Our very first Chief Justice John Marshall is still studied by high school civics classes and college government students two-hundred and fifty years after the "Marshall Supreme Court" literally invented judicial review of the laws of Congress and the operations of the Executive Branch. All of us remember the decisions of "Warren Court" within most of our lifetimes. President Eisenhower appointed Gov. Earl Warren as a conservative mind to the SCOTUS to enhance its conservative strength. Then boom, Warren turned straight away to going forward with the most liberal activist SCOTUS of the 20th century.

    Now we have a "Roberts Court". I would submit that Chief Justice Roberts does not want the court which has is name to be known for no landmark decisions. He probably noted the outrage when the 5 to 4 ruling in Citizens United struck down a 100 year old law. Way too many decisions are 5 to 4 in the Roberts Court. This is not only bad in the present but when law students 50 years in the future study the SCOTUS will they repeatedly say that Chief Justice Roberts was a terrible Chief Justice who could not marshall his team and get more unified decisions. In 1954 when Chief Justice Earl Warren decided to once and for all rebuke the 1890 Supreme Court decision of Plessey vs. USA which allowed Southern states to segregate their schools using the most jaded of legal reasoning --"Separate But Equal". Earl Warren by 1950 knew that there were NO  school systems which were "separate but equal". It was a sham that had existed since the Supreme Court decision of 1890 and in 1954 everyone knew it but the Southern states dug in and refused to end its segregation. Chief Justice Earl Warren decided to end it and he went to every one of the other Justices and begged, bargained and cajoled them to vote to end segregation. The decision in 1954 of "Brown vs. Kansas City Board of Education" was the case that Warren wanted. HIS court voted 9 to 0 to end segregation no matter where it existed in the United States.

    Chief Justice Roberts in my view still looks like a spineless wimp. He should have taken the 4 Justices who voted to end Obamacare to the proverbial "woodshed" and gotten a 9 to 0 decision. He may now realize that he will never be a highly regarded. I would hope that he fears becoming like Chief Justice Rehnquist who was loved by Conservatives but to my view will never be a highly regarded Chief Justice because he never brought forward legal problems and then established new ground with innovative legal principles, he only obstructed access to the Supreme Court by those who needed it most--i.e. people due to circumstances are locked out of the courthouses and forbidden justice--the perfect example of which are millions of black people in America--Earl Warren is considered the greatest Chief Justice because he saw injustice and set about to destroy it.  Chief Justice Roberts up to the Obamacare ruling had made a  Supreme Court with his name on it into a puppet for corporations and those who want to deny rights to people who need the court's help.

    We shall see if Mr. Roberts wants his namesake SCOTUS to be studied by history and government classes for the future. His court has be activist when asked to make corporations into people (a ridiculous idea which almost guarantees that the Roberts Court will be a laughingstock in 50 years or so) and other commercial cases with little or no impact on history. The Obamacare case is different. Chief Justice may feel that if Obama is re-elected and gets a chance to pick at least one  more Justice then the Roberts Court will be in a real mess. Should he continue to vote with the conservative ilk such as Scalia then that would put the Chief Justice Roberts on the losing side of every 5 to 4 decision. Can you image the humiliation of that event to anyone with a smattering of self pride and ESPECIALLY THE SUPREME COURT'S OWN CHIEF JUSTICE.

    Future history students would marvel that this intelligent and persuasive man could not gather together a cohesive team and win within its own group of just 9 people. Congress has 535 members and they can occasionally pass a law--then how come Chief Justice Robert is such a BAD MANAGER HE CANNOT GET A WIN ON THE SCOREBOARD--THAT IS A REAL LAUGHER!!!

     

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