Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Thing about De-Funding Big Bird is that it's so much MORE than Big Bird

I grew up with PBS and so did my kid. If you have kids, they probably did too. Mitt wants to de-fund PBS and eliminate that fundamental element of our culture. Why? It makes no sense, especially when research underscores how PBS actually *helps* our kids l
earn (hmmm, maybe that's why). But to follow the logic, you can see that the world that Mitt Romney and today's republicans want to see put in place never existed and should NOT exist. Their vision of our future is based on a bizarre (re)vision of history that should shock people. The government is imperfect, but it has helped improve this country--and in some cases revolutionized the world. The government isn't dominant in all elements of our lives, nor should it be, but it does play a role--in the best of a times, a balanced role--and always has. Those who don't understand that really don't know the basics of our country's history. But they VOTE, unfortunately, and so should YOU.

Our country isn't just about individual success, it's about working together, government, corporations, non-profits and universities, to improve the lives of people overall. That's the point, and today's republican party just doesn't understand that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sick Rantorum: Smart People on "Our Side"

REPOSTED: Okay, so Sir Richard was speaking at the latest republican "values" conference this week, where the extreme right in this country gathers to reinforce and applaud its increasingly fringe political and cultural views. So, of course, Sick Rantorum was up to speak. Where to start? 

First, the media isn't supposed to be on *anyone's* side, they're supposed to be impartial. That said, I guess the former senator and current sweater vest-wearing extremist forgot about a cable news channel called "FOX News"--the "fair and balanced" 24/7 PR arm of the republican party. 

Second, sometimes the right can't help but admit which party has the "smart" folks in it, and every time they do, I think it's hilarious. They really don't even understand that they've insulted themselves. 

Third, the elite? That's seriously rich: the people who founded our country weren't common bumpkins, they were the high-functioning intelligent elite of our country--the best and the brightest. Whom do you want making policy decisions in this country--the best and brightest people or Joe the Plumber and Sarah the Palin? And btw, what is Mitt Romney, other than a Harvard-educated, to the manor born son of a governor? Does it get *any more* elite than that?? 

Ironically, Santorum states that elites want the "power" to tell people what to do. But as I recall, it's the republicans who are trying to define rape; the republicans who are requiring intrusive ultrasounds; and the republicans who are disenfranchising voters around the country with bureaucratic red tape-driven voter ID laws that address a non-existent problem. How is that for intrusive government?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

To all the haters who think there's no difference between democrats and republicans...

Auto Industry Saved. Romney tried to take credit. But instead of giving Obama credit, he's called a socialist (which really isn't an epithet--yet another hijacked concept from the rightists). What would today’s republicans have done in WWII? Those “socialists” basically helped save the planet because the government had to step in and retool the economy. Sen. Bernie Sanders agrees.

Iraq. Bush went into war without consulting the National Security Council--well, according to that liberal apologist Colin Powell, anyway. There was no real exit strategy, and the "evidence" used was not vetted. Bush originally estimated the war at $60 - $80 billion. True debt-burdening cost? Closer to $3 to $4 trillion. Far more Americans died in Iraq than in 9/11, and the wounded? In the millions. And that's not even counting the hundreds of thousands of people we killed who *weren't* Americans. If any other country did what we have done in that country, the right wing would call it a "rogue state." Oh, and yeah, Obama pulled out all the troops--you're WELCOME. Sen. Bernie Sanders agrees.

Healthcare. It's a complicated law, but the simple facts are these: Obama decided to focus less on killing people abroad (yes, I know about the drones and Afghanistan) and to focus more on keeping more people in the United States healthy. The healthcare law is imperfect, but just the one thing it does--if you know NOTHING else about it: It makes it illegal for healthcare corporations to remove you from coverage because of a typo on your application. You DID know that corporations went through applications with a fine-toothed comb to do this, right? Right? Do you think that's a good thing? Do you think that eliminating that unbelievably heinous practice is somehow bad? And pre-existing conditions? You might be young, but if you’re not, it’s a VERY big deal that corporations are no longer able to deny care because of it. Birth control--Obamacare covers it for women now. Makes sense, right? Right. Basic. Bernie Sanders agrees and says that Obamacare is the first step in the right direction.

Gay Marriage. Obama is the first president in history to publicly support gay marriage. Why? Because he's not afraid of people who live and lead different lifestyles. And young people? They're MUCH less afraid of gay people because they grew up with them being much more in the open--difference between the two parties much? Much. Bernie Sanders agrees.

Voting Rights. Obama is for them, the vast state-based republican conspiracy is against them. The facts are that--in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and many other states--republicans at the state level are trying to disenfranchise voters. Look it up. It’s not pretty. Bernie Sanders agrees.

Women's Rights. Obama is crystal clear on his support for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and has stood with women on this basic and obvious policy from the beginning. Romney? He'll "get back to you on that." Planned Parenthood saves countless lives each year with breast cancer screenings. This is an inherent good. But the republicans want to end it once and for all. Obama supports it unabashedly--as he should--along with a woman's right to reproductive healthcare. Difference much? Difference. Much. Obama supports a woman’s right to choose. 

You can’t have everything in a president. You can’t. I’m sorry. You’re upset about NDAA, Gitmo, drones, oil drilling, Afghanistan, the medical marijuana debacle? I am too. I get it. But here’s the thing: no individual or party organization is going to meet all of your checklist requirements for the perfect president. That individual--and that party--simply doesn’t exist. But if you think that democrats and republicans are the same, then by your logic you have to Michele Bachmann is the same as Bernie Sanders. The republican party is run by extremist, socio-cultural re-engineers that are, as Obama states in the piece associated with this thread, want to take this country back to another century. The Democrats are not for that, and are fighting every day to prevent that from happening. That’s the truth of it. And just in case you’re wondering, Bernie Sanders shares all of your concerns, but he’s with the Democrats. Why? Because he knows that this is the best hope for real change, and that letting the other side win would be a disaster. Bernie Sanders agrees with this 100%.

You can sit and yell at your computer monitor and avoid dealing with policy specifics, or you can be part of the movement to prevent the tea party morons from consolidating their power. Up to you. The rest of us have work to do...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Man Child Republicon Paul Ryan Says that Rights are Conferred by God

Ron Paul, er, I mean, Paul Ryan, doesn't understand where rights come from, but his views are straight outta 1950s literature
Republicon man-child Paul Ryan said last night at the RNC that God gives rights, not governments. Of course, the Congress Man forgets about that whole inconvenient Bill of Rights thing, but who interprets god's will? You guessed it! Paul Ryan! This egomaniacal lifelong denizen of Capitol Hill epitomizes the neo-far right wing of the republican party. His budget, which unapologetically targets the poor and favors the wealthy is what we could expect under a Romney regime. He is the new "republitarian," a hybrid republican and libertarian who thinks that all government programs--including those that help the aging, the poor, and women--are bad. Strike that: he's for welfare, as long as its welfare for the wealthy. He co-sponsored a bill with the maniac Rep. Akin that rape should be pre-defined. Seriously. He wants to deny women basic reproductive rights, codified into law by four decades of Roe v. Wade. 

(read more about a man you do NOT want wandering the halls of the West Wing at

And contrary to popular opinion, he's no fiscal conservative, he voted for all the debt-ballooning programs under Bush, which added ~$4 trillion to the national debt, while providing tax breaks to the aggrandizement of wealthy people like his prospective boss, RMoney. His plans for a voucher system would be an unmitigated disaster whereby people could "shop" for healthcare coverage with "vouchers." Of course, what good is shopping around with a voucher if you have a pre-existing condition--but hey, older folks RARELY have those, am I right? Ugh. And his political philosophy is straight from the playbook of Ayn Rand, the "me first and screw everyone else" icon of today's extreme moron right. The practical policy outcome of that philosophy is what we've seen in numbers over the past 10 years and is simple: channel more and more money into the hands of fewer and fewer people. Reduced federal spending and lower taxes is what Ryan promises, but that's what we have today. How's that working out for us?

He's a dangerous man who shouldn't be allowed to do much more than take a tour of the White House. And he sure as hell shouldn't be allowed to freakin' work there. You may not like everything Obama does; I know I don't. But if you have any proclivity toward helping those in need and protecting women's reproductive rights, then you need to vote to ensure that this idiot and his tea-puppet patron don't take abrogate those rights by taking over the policy reins of the country. VOTE.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Psychopathy of Mitt Romney

I wondered about Mitt. All those things he's said and done over the years. Tonsorially raping that gay kid's head in Cranbrook. Pretending to be a cop. Tying his dog to the roof of his car for a 12 hour road trip. He seems--odd. So, I did a little research.

This was posted over at, and there were some comments that I thought were interesting. Here they are, followed by my response:

RPH:I am not sure exactly where Konrad is coming from but I kind of agree. That's the problem with personalising politics. It becomes a question of who is the nice guy and we then disregard all the shitty things Obama has done at the behest of Corporate America. I am quite ready to believe that there are more psychopaths and just plain nasty bastards among the Republicans- still you need to ask what has gone wrong with civic life in the US so that the right wing of the one political party (the property party) can be so dominated by psychopaths while its leftwing is dominated by cowardly windbags.

SB: I gotta say that while they certainly aren't wrong about Mitt, the field of politics rewards sociopathy and pretty much all successful politicians are sociopaths to one degree or another. It is the trait that allows them to succeed in an environment of manipulation, deceit and corruption. It is just that some of them are smarter and better at hiding it than other

Groobiecat: While you both make good points, in general, democrats are clearly more interested in the common weal. Obamacare is, as Bernie Sanders said, a step in the right direction. And who made it so that corporations would no longer be able to disqualify someone from healthcare coverage for typos on their applications or for pre-existing conditions? And who made it possible for millions of kids to now be covered? Who made it possible for kids under 26 to stay on their parents' healthcare plans? That wasn't a republican. And women's rights? No contest there. Ending Planned Parenthood funding and literally killing women as a result of denied breast cancer screenings? Yeah. Voting disenfranchisement--which party is heading up that little mass conspiracy? And a democrat did end the war that was started by a republican, and killed up to a million people--that's pol pot level stuff, and that's what we have under a republican president. Yes, I know, drones, Afghanistan, NDAA, Guantanamo. I get that, and basically agree. But those other issues? They're real. They're not nothin'. Democrats are imperfect, but it shakes out like this: Democrats are to Neurosis as Republicans are to Psychosis--especially with the hyper insane clown car of crazy that is now running the republican party.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Some of Ryan's most important ideas have been tried and proved failures...."

I would argue that it's more than just "some," but I'll go along with Joe Klein's description. Paul Ryan and the entire republican party believe in one thing: the lower the taxes, the better the chances for economic growth. But this is just simply not supported by the facts, as Klein explains:

"...some of Ryan's most important ideas have been tried and proved failures. Ryan has produced various plans, proposals and two actual federal budgets, and they all have one thing in common: they cut taxes drastically. In his 2011 budget, which he sent to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring, he estimated that despite the drastic cut in rates, the revenue would remain the same as a percentage of gross domestic product. This is supply-side economics, the utterly uncorroborated theory that the less people pay in taxes, the more they'll produce. Ryan's mentor Jack Kemp sold Ronald Reagan on it in 1980. The result was such a huge hole in the federal deficit that in 1982, Reagan was forced to come back with one of the largest proportional tax increases in American history. Supply-side tax cuts didn't work for George W. Bush either. By contrast, Clinton raised taxes and the economy boomed. Who knew?"
Who knew? Anyone caring to take a look at the numbers, that's who. The thing of it is, anyone knew who actually looked at history can see that in spite of periods with the highest tax rates since WWII, GDP growth was, in fact, high, as well. See how well Dubya's record matches up? And his taxes were quite low by comparison. In fact, as a result of his tax cut policies, the first year that Obama took office--you remember, the middle of the worst recession in 80 years?--tax rates were the LOWEST in decades.

There are other factors, of course, but lower taxes doesn't equal growth--but it does lead to increased deficit spending and increases the national debt burden, because spending isn't offset by revenues from taxes. That's how this works, folks. And yes--shock!--it's true that the government has a role in the economy! That's so horrible! Of course, that's the case with every single advanced economy on the planet. Every. Single. One..

And if Ryan's plan is such a good one, where are the freakin' jobs? They are nowhere to be found. That's because, right now, we're actually living the republican vision. Low taxes. The lowest rate  We also know this because currently we have some of the lowest taxes in decades.  According to Chris Matthews 

But there is another source of federal revenues that receives less attention: corporate income taxes. According to the Wall Street Journal’s recent study of Congressional Budget Office numbers, corporations are paying an effective rate of 12.1%, the lowest in at least 40 years. So why are some of the biggest and most powerful entities in our society getting away with paying so little? 

Source: Wall Street Journal Online
And it's not just corporations who are paying low taxes, it's middle income Americans as well. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:
Federal taxes on middle-income Americans are near historic lows,[1]according to the latest available data.  That’s true both for federal incometaxes and total federal taxes

Source: CBPP
So back to Paul Ryan...His vision--which is Mitt's vision, of course, unless it isn't, in which case, it could be again, because you never know--is more of the same, only worse. LOWER TAXES FURTHER STILL. And what will that do? Well, the fairy dust crowd thinks it will lead to a great economic recovery. That's their plan. More of the same--all because of the fear of socialism or marxism or whatever other historically inaccurate "ism" that they want to use to scare people with.

And it doesn't work. We're living it right and this sh*t just doesn't work. Well, wait, I take that back, it doesn't work if you're middle class, but it's works like a charm if your already rich. Oh, God yeah,  it works great! But if you're not, um, sorry, you're kinda screwed. According to the Washington Post's Wonkblog:

Under Ryan’s plan, the six tiers of tax rates would be simplified to two rates: 25 percent for higher earners and 10 percent for lower-earners. But the overall impact of the Ryan budget would still disproportionately benefit the wealthy. The top 20 percent would get a $13,907 tax cut in 2015, and the top 1 percent would get a whopping $155,808 tax break, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. By contrast, the bottom 20 percent of Americans would pay $159 more in taxes in 2015.
And it's well known that Romney's budget has already shown that the wealthiest would do even wealthiester under his budget, which those making less than 250 grand would actually pay higher taxes, because he closes loopholes that benefit the middle class.

But hey, at least it'll cut the deficit and bring down the national debt, right? Wrong. And you know who says so? Fox News. That's right, Fox News admits that Ryan isn't a small spender at all. Here's what they have to say about Ryan's budget:
"claims that Ryan is slashing spending don't quite square with the numbers. Those claims are convenient Washington shorthand for what Ryan's plan actually proposes -- which is to slow the rate of budget growth, but still allow the budget to grow.
Under the latest Ryan plan, the budget would grow from $3.6 trillion this year to $4.9 trillion in 2022. The only years in which spending would dip are 2013 and 2014"
Why someone would want Romney and Ryan to take a tour of the White House, let alone work there, is beyond me. But don't take my word for it. Just look a the numbers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney has Decided: It's Mini Mitt

It had to be done. And it had to be done by our pal Groobiecat Call. Paul Ryan is the face of the neocon rightists who refuse to ensure that the safety net isn't shredded on the alter of deficit reduction, and who refuse to ask the already extremely well off to share a couple more percentage points of wealth to help bolster the common weal. His is the friend of the most fortunate Americans, and an enemy to those who are not. He is, in short, a republican who he prefers to burden the already over-burdened. This says all you need to know about the kind of priorities we could expect under a Romney presidency. That. Must. Not. Happen.

Quote Source: The Washington Post's Dana Milbank

Congress controls the purse strings, as they say, but who is the holder of the man purse on Capitol Hill? Why, Paul Ryan. And what are his priorities? Oh, they're very very clear. Ryan's budget is notoriously anti-poor and vulnerable because it's a program gutter. And that's gutter in all senses of that word.

Who Needs more Fiber in their Diet? Why, the poor, of course.
According to Dana Milbank,

Ryan’s justification was straight out of Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor. There is, he told the audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute later Tuesday, an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Too many Americans, he said, are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes. 
After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”
Don't believe that? Perhaps you should confer with a higher power. The nuns on the bus tour this summer highlighted how Paul Ryan's budget went against the teachings of Jesus:

Led by Sister Simone Campbell, the "Nuns on the Bus" rejected the budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which it called "immoral" and "unpatriotic." 
Ryan's budget "rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good. That's wrong," said Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby. 
Nuns on the Bus claims that the Ryan budget would raise taxes on low-income families while cutting taxes for millionaires and corporations, push families into poverty, and kick 8 million people off of food stamps.
Here's Sister Campbell on MSNBC, explaining in her own words, why the Ryan budget is immoral.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Taxes and Romney: How the Rich get Richer--at the National Level

Ten years of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy have increased the divide between the haves and have nots in the country--the rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poor. In fact, according to Bloomberg, based on US Census data:
Since 1980, about 5 percent of annual national income has shifted from the middle class to the nation’s richest households. That means the wealthiest 5,934 households last year enjoyed an additional $650 billion -- about $109 million apiece -- beyond what they would have had if the economic pie had been divided as it was in 1980, according to Census Bureau data.

A Romney president would change all that right? Wrong. Of course he's offering more of the same. Romney's tax plan came under intense fire, as you may know, because the Brookings and Urban Institute's Tax Policy Center indicated that people like Romney would get their taxes lowered while middle and lower income people would face tax increases. As the report states:
“It is not mathematically possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that preserves current incentives for savings and investment and that does not result in a net tax cut for high-income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and/or middle-income taxpayers Even if tax breaks are eliminated 
in a way designed to make the resulting tax system as progressive as possible, there would still be a shift in the tax burden of roughly $86 billion [a year] from those making over $200,000 to those making less than that.

What would that mean for the average tax bill? Millionaires would get an $87,000 tax cut, the study says. But for 95 percent of the population, taxes would go up by about 1.2 percent, an average of $500 a year."

Ezra Klein, the super sharp, interdisciplinary, all-in-one political wonk who works for Bloomberg, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and occasionally sits in for Rachel Maddow, explained that this wasn't a partisan study, but that the Romney camp framed that that way regardless (shocking, I know!): 
The Romney campaign offered two responses to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis, one more misleading than the other. 
First, the campaign called the analysis “just another biased study from a former Obama staffer.” That jab refers to Adam Looney, one of the study’s three co-authors, who served in a staff role on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. But the Tax Policy Center is directed by Donald Marron, who was one of the principals on George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. Calling the Tax Policy Center biased simply isn’t credible -- a point underscored by the fact that the Romney campaign referred to the group’s work as “objective, third-party analysis” during the primary campaign.
Then the Romney campaign said, “The study ignores the positive benefits to economic growth from both the corporate tax plan and the deficit reduction called for in the Romney plan.” There’s a reason the study ignores those “positive benefits”: Romney has called for a revenue-neutral corporate tax plan that brings the rate down from 35 percent to 25 percent while also promising to balance the budget. He has not said how he will achieve either goal. Until he does, those positive benefits -- if they exist -- are impossible to calculate. 
Basically, Romney is offering the same policies that Bush offered, and that clearly don't work: lower taxes for the wealthiest and low spending--both of which are proven do not improve the economy

Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Open Rant to Those Who Insist on Conflating Both Parties as the Same

Democrats are imperfect; no one ever said their weren't. In fact, is there a single party or organization or individual that you know of that is perfect? That meets your standards of ideological purity and orthodoxy without fail? ANYONE? Hands? And yes, NDAA, Patriot Act, Guantanamo, and drones--not good, and I am against them all. But to conflate the two based on these issues is really an act of aggressive cognitive dissonance. Because I don't know if you've noticed, but the Tea Party is slowly taking over. They're winning primaries. They've taken over the House of Representatives and they've got the Senate in their sights. And they're not completely batshit insane. The tea party elected a NAZI white supremacist in Pennsylvania. Their House leader, Michele Bachmann, thinks there's a muslim conspiracy in the State Department. Their last vice president candidate thinks that seeing Russia from her "doorstep" counts as foreign policy experience. They voted to eliminate critical thinking from education in Texas. Rush Limbaugh--an openly racist pig who thought it was amazing that Ice-T knows what the word "tyranny" means--is their moral compass. They are taking--state by state--the basic reproductive rights away from women and are defunding healthcare for women and eliminating funding for programs for children. They are systematically disenfranchising people from voting in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio through bullshit voter ID laws that are, ironically enough, *are* in fact, voter fraud. The GOP leaders in Pennsylvania admitted the other day that the voter ID laws there are simply intended to get Romney elected. Based on your logic, there's no difference between Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell. REALLY?  If the plan for those who hate both parties to send the country to the next ring down of hell by letting the rightists take over the country completely, then you're well on your way. But good luck if any of you or your family members gets kicked off of your health insurance, then develops a illness and gets turned down. Obamacare prevents that. Oh, and your granny didn't fill out the application correctly? Oops, too friggin' bad, no health insurance for you. And oops, you and girlfriend got pregnant in Arizona? Too bad! Jan Brewer doesn't care and neither do any of the War on Women rightists.  

So, yeah, go read another Chris Hedges article, mkay? Because even though I agree that the left in this country is far from where it needs to be, there's real work and real legislation and real policy that affects real lives at stake--especially, but not only, if you're a) a woman, b) poor, c) without healthcare, d) without a job. But hey, it's easier just to ignore the details and conflate everything down to a few issues...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi on Guns and Conflict Resolution

Quote: Youtube Interview
Data: Source
Words of wisdom from the East.

Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratization in her native Burma in the 1980s and founded the National League for Democracy in September 1988. She was placed under house arrest on July 1989 where she remained--for 15 of the next 21 years--until she was released in November 2010 after intense international pressure. She is influenced by both Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence and by Buddhism, in general. In july 2012, she attended the Parliament for the first time as an elected lawmaker. The Nobel Laureate is a symbol of resilience and decency to millions around the world. Learn more about her here.

What amazes me is that her struggle--she is a freedom fighter in the truest, most noble sense of that word--is not that well known in the United States. In fact, before she took office as a member of Parliament, she gave an address not to the United States Congress, but to the Parliament in the United Kingdom. (She did testify before a House Committee via remote video once, however). She was also the first woman who was not the Queen to address both Houses of Parliament.

According to The Guardian last month:
In a historic speech within the 11th-century walls of Westminster Hall, Aung San Suu Kyi has implored Britain and "the world beyond" to reach out to help Burma at "the moment of our greatest need." 
The Burmese pro-democracy leader, the first woman apart from the Queen to address both houses of parliament, appealed for practical help to support reforms to bring "better lives, greater opportunities, to the people of Burma who have been for so long deprived of their rights to their place in the world". 
The Nobel laureate received a standing ovation for her 30-minute address, an honour previously accorded only to the French president Charles de Gaulle, the South African president Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Pope Benedict XVI and the Queen.
During a day that was to prove the climax of her first UK visit in 24 years, politicians competed in laudatory praise of the Lady, as she is known, as she met parliamentarians, and royalty. 
David Cameron saluted "Daw Suu" as a "symbol of courage". The Commons Speaker, John Bercow, introduced her as "a leader and a stateswoman", the "conscience of a country" and a "heroine for humanity".

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So, if there's been no evidence of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, why have republicans passed Voter ID laws?

In Pennsylvania, a new law requires voters to present photo ID, whereas previously they simply needed to offer a utility bill or bank statement with their name and address on it. So, the republican controlled state must have had a reason to do this, right? Um, not right. According to the International Business Times there's no evidence of voter fraud at all in the Keystone State:

In response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, Pennsylvania acknowledged that there has been no evidence of voter fraud. 
There "have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states," a stipulation agreement signed by the state said.
So, why the voter ID if there's no evidence of fraud in the state? One GOP Leader has the honest answer. At a Republican State Committee meeting, Mike Turzai told his clappy audience truth about why Republicans are so insistent on voter identification efforts:
Source: Think Progress
Apparently Pennsylvanians aren't having any of it. According to TribLive:
Rally in Harrisburg PA
Source: TribLive
Supporters and opponents of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law agree on one thing: Politics drive the battle over whether to keep the law that heads to court on Wednesday.
Opponents rallied at the Capitol on Tuesday, saying the Republican-controlled Legislature approved Act 18 to suppress voting in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia and keep President Obama from carrying the state in the November election. 
Several speakers pointed to a June 23 comment by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Bradford Woods to the Republican State Committee: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. (Mitt) Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done.”
“Mike Turzai confirmed it,” said Rep. Ron Waters, D-Philadelphia, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. 
But Allegheny County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Roddey called a U.S. Justice Department investigation of Pennsylvania’s law “an attempt by the Obama White House to get voter ID overturned.”

What's going on here??
Everyone knows what's going on here. Republicans are clearly trying, state by state, to tip the scales in their favor come election day. And in addition to voter roll purges, republican officials are attempting to use voter ID laws to eliminate  peoples' eligibility. Voter fraud is not something that has been a major problem in many years, and recent elections are no exception. So why are they doing this now? International Business Times explains:
Legislatures across the country, nearly all of them controlled by Republicans, have passed laws that require voter ID, roll back early voting and impose new limits on voter registration. Sponsors of the laws say they are trying to ensure elections are legitimate, but opponents warn that minority, elderly and low-income voters will face unwarranted obstacles en route to the voting booth. 
Critics of voter ID laws note that minorities and elderly voters are disproportionately likely to lack photo identification, raising fears that members of traditionally Democratic-leaning constituencies will be turned away on Election Day.
Pennsylvania is typically one of a handful of heavily contested states on which presidential elections pivot, so the stakes are high. The Republican majority leader of Pennsylvania's House of Representatives gave ammunition to the voter ID law's critics, when he suggested that it could help presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney win the state. 
Obama Administration Acts. The Obama administration has sent a a letter to Pennsylvania's top election official, Thomas Perez, invoking a provision in the Voting Rights Act that bars racial discrimination in voting laws to request more information about the state's voter ID law. The Obama campaign is going after Ohio for similar infractions.

Unless you've been consciously ignoring the news--or just watching the mainstream news, or reading the mainstream news, basically news--you might not know about the Tea Party republican's efforts to disenfranchise voters. And by that I mean prevent voters from voting at all, because they don't have the proper "ID." Republicans say this is essential to prevent voter fraud. But voter fraud isn't a problem in this country at all. I take that back. It IS a problem, but not from voters who commit fraud, but from elected Tea Partiers who are disenfranchising them, because most of the voters who are being targeted are likely to vote democratic. More on this in a moment.

Back-Story: Voter Purge in Florida Florida: Home of the Big Win for Bush in 2000. It's well known American history that the fate of the election in 2000 hinged on the outcome in Florida. Back then, Katherine Harris was Secretary of State and Jeb Bush, George Bush's brother, was Governor. And between the two of them, they successfully eliminated thousands of eligible voters from Florida's voting rolls. Gore lost by less than 600 votes. In one front of this "war on voters," Florida's Tea Party, Governor Rick Scott, has tried to "purge" voter rolls of "unqualified" or "fraudulent" voters. He was unsuccessful, as the county election supervisors refused to do this on several grounds, including illegality, faulty and inaccurate data, and the fact that they'd already done this the year before (they do it on odd, non-election years). One election supervisor in Florida--all of whom are against Rick Scott on the issue--stated that "you're more likely to get hit by lightning that to find a case of voting fraud in Florida." The Obama administration has rightly warned them against this practice, and is concerned that Rick Scott is trying to undermine the Voting Rights Act.You can read the specifics about it HERE.

Find out Even More
Voting is the purest expression of our fundamental, democratic right. The insane--and ironically named--"right" clearly don't get this. (Or, if they do, they simply don't care.)  The map below from the ACLU outlines the states where voter suppression measures have been or are being considered. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

List of Republicans Rebuking Bachmann Grows

Michele Bachmann, head of the House of Representatives Tea Party Caucus, is has accused Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's top aide, Huma Abedin, of having ties to the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood. Just another day in the life of professional crazy politician Michelle "Joe McCarthy" Bachmann. Her meritless accusations on Abedin (who is married to a Jewish former member of congress from New York City--all part of the plan, see!?) have recently come under attack by....fellow republicans?

Republican Senator and former Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain took to the Senate Floor to defend Abedin, whom he knows personally, and rebuked Bachmann for making scurrilous, unfounded attacks on this high-level aide. As McCain stated:
"These allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant...The letter alleges that three members of Huma’s family are 'connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations. Never mind that one of those individuals, Huma’s father, passed away two decades ago. The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government. 
These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit," McCain added. "And they need to stop now."

Bachmann got her "evidence" from the extreme-right Center for Security Policy, which is run by Frank Gaffney.
Yesterday, Think Progress uncovered another republican who refuted Bachmann's claims as baseless, conservative member of Congress Sensenbrenner, from Wisconsin:
During a town hall held by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on Sunday, a constituent lauded Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witchhunt about a supposed Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government and called on her congressman to support her efforts. Sensenbrenner instead used the opportunity not only to defend Abedin, but to advocate for the larger notion of religious pluralism in America and a separation between church and state. 
SENSENBRENNER: Let me say that I do know Huma Abedin and I think that the comments that were made about her in that letter, whether or not they were taken out of context, were the wrong thing to do… I think the Constitution in saying that there shall never be a religious test for any office of trust and profit under the United States meant that people should not be judged on the basis of their religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs. That was Thomas Jefferson that put that in the Constitution — I think he was right. 
Video of Sensenbrenner rejoinder to constituent at townhall meeting:

Other republican members of Congress have weighed in as well. From Politico:
And Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was described by several sources as incredibly angry when he heard of the incident.
The Republican backlash against Bachmann started with Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) statement on the Senate floor Wednesday, saying she had made “sinister accusations.” 
Rep. Jeff Flake, a conservative Arizona lawmaker running for Senate, tweeted “Kudos to @SenJohnMcCain for his statement on Senate floor yesterday defending Clinton aide. Well said.” 
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) added: “Rep. Bachmann’s accusations about Sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line. This kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse.”
This can't possibly help the credibility of the already not popular House leadership, whose popularity ratings remain at a historically low of 16%
Boehner declined to entertain a reporter’s question about whether he would toss Bachmann off the Intelligence Committee, where she’s privy to highly classified information. Behind the scenes, leadership aides said they were shaken by the comments from someone as prominent as Bachmann.

People for the American Way have started a petition to remove Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee (an oxymoron if ever there was one. Sign the petition here.  

People For the American Way is calling on House Speaker John Boehner to remove Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and two other members from their seats on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence after a series of irresponsible allegations against U.S. government employees. 
Intelligence Committee members Bachmann, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and Rep. Thomas Rooney were among the five Republican representatives to sign a letter to federal agencies baselessly alleging that a number of public servants, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin, have ties to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The letter relied largely on phony information peddled by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

People are Patriots--not Parties...

John is a firefighter and a patriot. But unlike the people who run the republican party these days, he doesn't go on and on about it. And he doesn't buy into fear mongering, either; he just quietly does the work that makes this country great. Oh, and he's a democrat.

Don't believe that the right wing thinks this way? Check out this quote from Mitt Romney:

"[Obama] says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” ~ Mitt Romney 

And just in case you enjoy Mr. Tea Party himself, Rush Limbaugh, here's what he thinks of everyday American heroes

"teaching jobs, firemen, policemen — they are all paid for with money out of the private sector. They are paid for with tax revenue from citizens. They cut into the amount of money left for private sector. They don’t grow the number of private sector jobs, they reduce them." ~ Rush Limbaugh

So, for any folks who want to rumble over this, please do your homework to find out where the republican party stands. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why are Americans Okay with the Equivalent of a 9/11 Every Six Weeks?

Gun Violence Source:
One definition of madness is to repeat the same thing over and over and expect a different result. If that's true, then our inability to regulate guns in this country is barking mad crazy. Every time someone gets shot--Trayvon Martin in Florida, Gabby Giffords in Arizona, the High Schoolers in Columbine, and now movie goers in Aurora--there is understandable outrage and...nothing. Nothing really changes and the statistics are clear: Tens of thousands of Americans are killed in this country every year from gunshot wounds. And guns are at the heart of the problem. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
  • An estimated 41% of gun-related homicides and 94% of gun-related suicides would not occur under the same circumstances had no guns been present (Wiebe, p. 780).
  • Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 3 to 5 and increases the risk of suicide with a firearm by a factor of 17 (Kellermann, 1992, p. 467; Wiebe, p. 771).
  • Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of homicide by a factor of 3 (Kellermann, 1993, p. 1084).
We're from the NRA and we're here to make you safe. Fear is what fuels the NRA. Fear that big government will somehow abrogate your second amendment rights; fear that the Muslims are coming to institute Sharia law; and fear of the other, like those who are simply different from you. The NRA prays on that fear, and uses it to ensure that gun regulations aren't put in place. But they hide behind a smokescreen The argument from the NRA members is that guns make us safer.  NRA head, Wayne LaPierre has said as much:
"I wouldn't stand before you today if I didn't believe, and I couldn't prove, that our common-sense policies can have a more immediate impact on violence, and make more citizens safer, than anything that anyone else is proposing." 
Sure. Right. I trust Wayne. If this is safe, I'd hate to see what being truly in danger looks like. The truth is that we have the highest gun mortality rates in the "civilized" western world by (depending on your definition of "western," the rate of deaths in the US range anywhere from 10x to 20x those of our decidedly more civilized neighbors). Americans are being terrorized by...Americans. At this point, it's pretty clear that the biggest threat to our well-being isn't from "foreigners" or "extremist Muslims," it's from us, right here in the good 'ol US. And somehow, for some reason, we're okay with it. The number of people killed every six weeks in this country is the rough equivalent to the number of people killed in 9/11. Let that sink in for a moment: Every six weeks there is another 9/11 in body-count from gun violence here in the United States. So, why not regulate guns better? In fact, the Constitution specifically calls for that (as Homer Simpson might say, "Stupid socialist founding fathers"). 
Another in a never-ending series. The latest massacre in Aurora is just that, sadly--the latest. It will happen again, in another state. Or perhaps in Colorado itself. Years after the Columbine  massacre (Aurora is just a short drive from the scene of carnage that spawned a Michael Moore documentary), not much has changed in terms of gun control. According to the New York Times:
“The guy basically had normal guns,” said Eugene Volokh, an expert in constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles. Unless some new evidence of documented psychiatric disturbance emerges, Mr. Volokh added, “there’s no indication that, from his record, he is someone whom more restrictive screening procedures would have caught.”
Despite the changes over the past 13 years, Colorado law still prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights in several significant ways. Moreover, gun rights organizations have successfully fought other efforts to restrict access to guns, including blocking a University of Colorado rule prohibiting concealed weapons on campus.
But hey, it's okay to buy 6,000 rounds of ammo because, you know, you never know when you'll need it to fend off a British invasion.
Quote: ABC News
Eagle/NRA Graphic: NRA Web Site
Do something now. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is asking people to sign a petition to demand that Congress address the problem of availability of guns by ensuring that convicted felons and those convicted of domestic abuse, terrorists, and the dangerous mentally ill not have access to guns. Check out the petition here.
Do something in November. Until people hold their representatives accountable for lax gun laws (and their president too, for that matter), nothing will change. If we continue to elect republicans (and conservative democrats) and their more virulent strain, tea party members, to office, nothing will change. And unless our gun fetish and cowing to the right-wing in this country abates, we'll continue to be periodically sickened and surprised by preventable, real-life horror movies like the one in Aurora. And that? That truly is the definition of madness.