Thursday, May 31, 2012

Oklahoma Woman Raped, Doctor and Nurse Refuse Emergency Contraception.

That's prolly what Jesus would do: deny help to a victim of severe ultra-violence. 
Cuz that's just how the Prince of Peace rolled.
This article yesterday from Raw Story shows the logical outcome of the extremists' nationwide war on women in the real-world:

An Oklahoma mother brought her daughter to a local hospital after she was raped only to be turned away and refused help by a doctor, purportedly because the hospital lacked the staff to properly process the victim's claims and injuries. Welcome to the reality of processing sexual assault crimes in GOP-land. 
The young woman asked the doctor whether or not emergency contraceptives were available and whether the doctor was simply refusing to provide them. The nurse told her “I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my belief.” The doctor refused to help her, even though she had just been raped, and refused to find another doctor to help her. 
This is happening. Now. In this country. Missouri just passed a similar law last week.  Kansas‘s law goes into effect on July 1. Rape victims are treated as subhuman based solely upon the purportedly religious conscience of those who have an ethical duty to provide medical care.  Doctors personal beliefs now trump their ethical duties as medical professionals, and their moral duties as human beings.
Outraged yet? Hard not to be--unless you're one of far-out crazies who think that a nurse and doctor denying a raped woman medical assistance makes sense. At what point do we say "Enough!"? The woman was raped.  It's getting crazy in this country. But apparently this is legal. According to Think Progress:
According to the victim’s mother, Rhonda, the doctor at the hospital not only refused to help her, but did not get another doctor to provide them the medication. Emergency contraception’s effectiveness diminishes over time, and is most effective when taken immediately. The doctor, however, was shielded from providing the perfectly legal medication because of Oklahoma’s "conscience clause." 
And not only does she not get the medical attention she deserved, but the snarky "religious" medical workers--a nurse and doctor--refused to help her based on their right to refuse contraception based on their religious beliefs:



She was treating my daughter like she had done something wrong. My daughter said 'is it you who won't give [emergency contraception] to me? Do you have them here and you just won't give them to me?' And she said, 'That's right. I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs." 

What was that Hypocritical Oath phrase? First, do no wrong, unless Jesus told you to. Oh, no, sorry, my bad, I was thinking of the Hippocratic Oath.


Click to watch the news report here.





Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[UPDATE 2: DOJ TO FLORIDA: "CEASE AND DESIST"] THE YEAR IS 2000. THE OUTCOME OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION HINGES ON ONE STATE: FLORIDA


UPDATE 2: JUNE 3, 2012
According to Think Progress:
The State of Florida has not...already decided to defy the Department of Justice and continue the purge. In an email to ThinkProgress, Florida Secretary of State spokesman Chris Cate confirmed that the state was still reviewing the DOJ’s letter and would issue a formal response by June 6.
UPDATE 1: JUNE 2, 2012
On Thursday, the Department of Justice sent what amounted to a "cease and desist" order to the state of Florida. Apparently--surprise!--the states efforts to remove the names of people believed to be ineligible to vote from its voter rolls appear to violate the Voting Rights Act and may be discriminatory. Ken Detzner, Florida's secretary of state indicated that he will defy the Federal government's warning not to continue purge voters from the state's rolls. Detzner's office issued this response:
“We have an obligation to make sure the voter rolls are accurate and we are going to continue forward and do everything that we can legally do to make sure than ineligible voters cannot vote,” said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Detzner. “We are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot. We are not going to give up our efforts to make sure the voter rolls are accurate."
Florida Election Supervisors Respond. According to the Palm Beach Post, all 67 of Florida's elections supervisors said Friday will discontinue the State's effort to remove names:
"Florida elections supervisors said Friday they will discontinue a state-directed effort to remove names from county voter rolls because they believe the state data is flawed and because the U.S. Department of Justice has said the process violates federal voting laws.
The Justice Department letter and mistakes that the 67 county elections supervisors have found in the state list make the scrub undoable, said Martin County Elections Supervisor Vicki Davis, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections."


In April, Detzner sent the supervisors a list of over 2600 voters identified as potential "non-citizens" by matching the state's voter database with driver license records. But due in part to an outcry by the public and previous irregularities in how Florida "cleans up" its voter database (see original post below), the Justice Department issued the warning letter. According to the Palm Beach Post:
Supervisors were supposed to send letters to those on the list notifying them to provide proof of citizenship within 30 days or be removed from the voter rolls. But supervisors say they have found errors, including some on the list who have died, many who have become naturalized citizens since they first got their driver licenses, and others who are U.S.-born citizens -- including a 91-year-old, Brooklyn-born World War II hero who now lives in Broward County.
Shit just got real. Stay tuned and pour yourself a glass of something (preferably strong). This will be going on for a while.




ORIGINAL POST
Every four years it's like a big budget box-office thriller. Only this time is very different from last election--the movie is a sequel to the 2000 flick. You remember the one, right? George Bush wins the election by a hair's breadth of a few hundred votes in Florida? Yeah, the actors are different--it's no longer George Bush's brother as Governor, and Katherine Harris is no longer the stern-faced visage of anti-democratic principles. This particular movie features the Jim Carrey/The Mask look-alike Rick Scott (a reviled, tea-party governor that even my republicans parents despise).




We've seen this movie before, and it sucks
It's been widely reported that the state of Florida (as in the phrase, "What the Florida did they do this time?!") is in the process of removing "felons" from its voter registration rolls. This, of course, is code disqualifying minorities and anyone who could potentially be a democrat from exercising their constitutional rights to vote. 

By the Numbers
The Fair and Legal Elections Network is mounting opposition to the action in Florida. According to the group, the data collected are incredibly inaccurate and unreliable: 
The state of Florida has incorrectly identified numerous citizens for removal from the voter rolls leading up to the November election, leaving numerous groups questioning the motivation behind the purge and reminding many of the faulty voter purges that took place in 2000 and 2004. 
The Florida Division of Elections recently made headlines by announcing that a shocking 180,000 non-citizens could be on the list of registered voters in Florida alone. Despite noting that the list was not guaranteed to be accurate, the release of the names created a large stir with numerous outlets reporting on the shockingly high number. 
Of the initial 180,000 voters, the Division of Elections targeted 2,600 supposed non-citizen voters after vetting the broader list. These names were sent to local Supervisors of Elections to be removed from the rolls, leading counties to send notices asking for follow up action by the voter within 30 days. Those who failed to act would be removed from the rolls. 
The targeted voters are overwhelmingly Hispanic, the largest minority population in the state.  Numerous targeted voters have now come forward to prove their citizenship, with some showing their proof of naturalization and others showing proof that they were born in the United States. 
A National Strategy to Disenfranchise Voters Because Republican "Leverage Goes up as the Voting Populace Goes Down"
If these political sociopaths are permitted, they will remove as many "enemy" voters as possible, most of which will be minorities--just as they did in 2000 and 2004. But just as frightening, there has been a concerted effort nationwide to remove or otherwise tamper with, peoples' ability to vote--especially people of the democratic, not batshit crazy, variety. According to Rolling Stone:
As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. "What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century," says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.
Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. "I don't want everybody to vote," the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. "As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. 
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. It's a little dated, but they urge citizens to: Tell Attorney General Holder: Protect Every Citizen's Right to Vote » 
I agree. 



Video from Rachel Maddow on the Subject





How could this happen? The Voter Fraud in Florida that Decided our Fate. After all is said and done, the disenfranchisement of the voting population in Florida--literally thousands had their constitutional rights abrogated--ensured that George Bush would become our president. And we run the risk that, if the election is close again, that this institutional attack on basic civil rights could be repeated again this year. Click below to read the background.


What happened in 2000? 

1998, Florida's Department of Elections contracted with a database company to eliminate convicted felons from its voter registration roles.


Jeb Bush, was the Florida's governor, and a new contract was awarded to a company called Database Technologies (bought by ChoicePoint in 2000) to eliminate felons from its voter registration rolls. DBT was supposed to review the names and potentially use "manual verification" techniques, including phone calls and statistical sampling. Now, here's where things get interesting. The Florida Central Voter File sums it up:
At first, Florida specified only exact matches on names, birthdates and genders to identify voters as felons. However, state records reveal a memo dated March 1999 from Emmett "Bucky" Mitchell, a lawyer for the state elections office who was supervising the felon purge, asking DBT to loosen its criteria for acceptable matches. When DBT representatives warned Mitchell that this would yield a large proportion of false positives (mismatches), Mitchell's reply was that it would be up to each county elections supervisor to deal with the problem.[4] 
In February 2000, in a phone conversation with the BBC's London studios, ChoicePoint vice-president James Lee said that the state "wanted there to be more names than were actually verified as being a convicted felon".[5][6]
Leave it to the Brits to help us sort out our faulty little democratic experiment. The next bit is the main guts of the problem, and it's the kind of detail that the anti-democratic near-sighted far rightists hope that no one focuses on, because it's exactly the kind of thing that will happen again. 


In April the Company charged with doing the voter registration purge protested that the criteria were too loose and would yield a huge number of false positives. Translation: You'll be eliminating the right to vote of many innocent people.
James Lee's Testimony. On 17 April 2001, James Lee testified, before the McKinney panel, that the state had given DBT the directive to add to the purge list people who matched at least 90% of a last name. DBT objected, knowing that this would produce a huge number of false positives (non-felons).
Lee went on saying that the state then ordered DBT to shift to an even lower threshold of 80% match, allowing also names to be reversed (thus a person named Thomas Clarence could be taken to be the same as Clarence Thomas). Besides this, middle initials were skipped, Jr. and Sr. suffixes dropped, and some nicknames and aliases were added to puff up the list. 
"DBT told state officials", testified Lee, "that the rules for creating the [purge] list would mean a significant number of people who were not deceased, not registered in more than one county, or not a felon, would be included on the list. DBT made suggestions to reduce the numbers of eligible voters included on the list". According to Lee, to this suggestion the state told the company, "Forget about it". 
"The people who worked on this (for DBT) are very adamant... they told them what would happen", said Lee. "The state expected the county supervisors to be the failsafe." Lee said his company will never again get involved in cleansing voting rolls. "We are not confident any of the methods used today can guarantee legal voters will not be wrongfully denied the right to vote", Lee told a group of Atlanta-area black lawmakers in March 2001.
One man removed from the voter rolls was Reverend Willie Whiting, who had his democratic right to vote terminated for a speeding ticket near 25 years before. Why? His name was confused with Willy J. Whiting, and their birthdays were two days apart.


Who was purged: The demographics
Not surprisingly, the people who were purged from the polls were primarily African Americans who voted overwhelmingly democratic:
According to the Palm Beach Post, among other problems with the list, although blacks accounted for 88% of those removed from the rolls, they made up only about 11% of Florida's voters.
Voter demographics authority David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC, reviewed The Nation's findings and concluded that the purge-and-block program was "a patently obvious technique to discriminate against black voters". 
Let's talk numbers.
None of these statistics mean anything without numbers, because the mainstream media considered that the Florida recount would have given Bush more than 537 votes. But they didn't include institutional voter fraud in their analysis, of course. Here's what the numbers came out to:
There were many specific problems with the purge list regarding the verification of felons, including over 4,000 blank conviction dates, and over 325 conviction dates dating in the future.[11] 
Nearly 3,000 out-of-state ex-felons with voting rights restored, as well as voters linked to felonies in states which do not remove felons from voting rolls or that automatically restore voting rights, were included on the list. 
DBT had decided in March 1999 not to include felon lists from South Carolina or Texas, which automatically restore voting rights, but that was overruled by the head of the Florida Office of Executive Clemency, Janet Keels, who ordered inclusion of any felon who did not have a written order of clemency, even from these states, wrongly placing 996 voters on the felon list. Florida did not restore their voting rights until three months after the election. [emphasis added]
Additionally, a number of persons listed as felons had been convicted of misdemeanors only, and therefore were eligible by law.
Greg Palast, who has investigated this issue and identified occurrences of these problems, provides a sample of 23 names as they appear on the Florida 2000 felons list, with five examples of these erroneous listings highlighted (this represents a minimum rate of inaccuracy of 22% in this sample). Thomas Cooper, the second one in the list, was listed as being convicted on January 30, 2007. 




























Sunday, May 27, 2012

On this Memorial Day Weekend: Republicans Want Veterans to Just Trust Them Because...

...They Care so much about Service Men and Women
Graphic: Groobiecat
Sources: Below
No Need to Mention Vets. According to VetVoice--and myriad other news organizations--the GOP budget proposed by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan doesn't even mention veterans.
Source: Vetvoice.com 
No Need to Protect them from IEDs. Donald Rumsfeld, the famously obtuse and arrogant Secretary of Defense, didn't really give a toss about whether Humvees were well-protected.
Source: Washington Post
...They go to War Based Only on Facts and Consultation with the NSC

One. That's the number of individuals responsible for the war in Iraq. As Commander in Chief, Republican President George Bush, the republican party's leader, is responsible for it. No one else. Why? The Iraq war was never debated. According to wild-eyed liberal activist Colin Powell:
"In a chapter discussing what he calls his “infamous” February 2003 speech to the United Nations where he authoritatively presented what was later exposed as gross misinformation about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Powell notes that by that time, war “was approaching.” 
“By then, the President did not think war could be avoided,” Powell writes. “He had crossed the line in his own mind, even though the NSC [National Security Council] had never met -- and never would meet -- to discuss the decision.”
...They Care so Much about the Cost of War in Blood 

100,000+. That's the number of Americans killed or wounded in the Iraq war alone. The numbers speak for themselves.

(Source: Anti-War.com)
100,000+. That's also the number of Iraqi civilians killed in fighting, according to http://www.iraqbodycount.org.


7.8 Million. That's the number of people who have been displaced from the wars. According to Reuters:
"...7.8 million people -- equal to the combined population of Connecticut and Kentucky -- have been displaced." 
...They Care so Much about the Cost of War in Treasure
$50 - 60 Billion. That's the original number in billions that the White House said the war in Iraq would cost. According to the Guardian:
When President George W. Bush launched the war, charging incorrectly that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Pentagon estimated its cost at $50 billion to $60 billion. Economic adviserLawrence Lindsey got in hot water at the White House when he guessed in public the war could cost as much as $200 billion. 
One oddity of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is that even as military preparations were under way, Congress cut taxes in 2001 and again in 2003. These Bush tax cuts meant in effect that the wars were financed by adding to federal debt, rather than paid for from revenues. US outstanding debt zoomed from $5.7 trillion when Mr. Bush took office to $10.6 trillion when he left. And all but $700 billion of that debt was accumulated before the Wall Street bailouts began under the Troubled Asset Relief Program in October 2008.
$3.7 Trillion. That's the low end of the dollar cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. According to Reuters:
When President Barack Obama cited cost as a reason to bring troops home from Afghanistan, he referred to a $1 trillion price tag for America's wars. 
Staggering as it is, that figure grossly underestimates the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the U.S. Treasury and ignores more imposing costs yet to come, according to a study released on Wednesday. 
The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, according to the research project "Costs of War" by Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. (www.costsofwar.org)
8%. That's the percentage of the cost of the wars ($1.3 trillion of $15.7 trillion). That's right, folks: almost 8% of today's national debt is comprised of spending on war. Who owns that? Which republican president embroiled us in war? Let me think, don't tell me, I know this one. Oh, I know: Republican President George Bush. 
So, on this Memorial Day, think about the numbers and ask yourself this: Do  Republicans have the track record for taking command of our US forces--and taking care of our service people and veterans--or is their resume pretty damn bad?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I'm Curious: How Did the Rightists Choose a Socialist Candidate Again?

FlackCheck.org breaks down Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s claim that with full implementation of the new federal health care law, government spending would make up half of the nation’s economy. That's a lie, of course.

I'm curious, though: if healthcare in Massachusetts--which, btw, is pretty popular--is socialism, and Romney designed it, doesn't that mean that the Rightists' candidate is a socialist? 
Oh, there you go again, logic. You're such a mean-spirited bitch.
Source: FactCheck.org
Here's the video from FactCheck.org. Worth watching yet another mendacious misrepresentation about the breadth of the Obama healthcare plan:


And here's a more in-depth comparison of the two plans by the New York Times.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Election: The Wall Street Journal Calls Bullshit on Rightist Myth *OBAMA CAMPAIGN UPDATE*

UPDATE II: The following is from Politifact:


UPDATE, May 31, 2012
While we have already shared some of the critiques of this fact-check in a previous follow-up story, critics have since noted that two of our fellow fact checkers -- the Washington Post Fact Checker and the Associated Press -- offered more negative rulings on related claims.
The Fact Checker addressed the apparent discrepancy succinctly in a follow-up column, saying "we did not evaluate the same thing."
There’s a widespread misconception that we gave a Mostly True rating to Rex Nutting’s MarketWatch column. After our original fact-check published, White House spokesman Jay Carney tweeted, "PolitiFact backs MarketWatch analysis of federal spending under POTUS & predecessors." Many conservative bloggers read our fact-check the same way, as they attacked us.
The assumption made by both sides is wrong. We examined at a Facebook post that said Mitt Romney is wrong to claim that spending under Obama has "accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history," because it's actually risen "slower than at any time in nearly 60 years." The Facebook post does rely partly on Nutting’s work, and our item addresses that, but we did not simply give our seal of approval to everything Nutting wrote. In fact, half of the Facebook post stems from something else entirely -- a claim on Mitt Romney’s website.
Using and slightly tweaking Nutting’s methodology, we recalculated spending increases under each president back to Dwight Eisenhower and produced tables ranking the presidents from highest spenders to lowest spenders. By contrast, both the Fact Checker and the AP zeroed in on one narrower (and admittedly crucial) data point -- how to divide the responsibility between George W. Bush and Obama for the spending that occurred in fiscal year 2009, when spending rose fastest.
How you divide the spending between Bush and Obama for fiscal 2009 only makes a difference to our ruling if the shifts move Obama significantly up or down our rankings. Do they?
Nutting attributed spending from the first year of every presidential term to the previous administration, arguing that every new president starts their term four months into a fiscal year begun under their predecessor. Historically, this has not been a particularly controversial approach, and even some of Nutting’s critics we spoke to agreed that it’s not a bad rule of thumb.
But fiscal year 2009 was special because it came amid an economic and financial free fall that drove the nation’s leaders to spend a lot more than they ordinarily would. Nutting did take these factors into account, but not to the extent that some critics think is needed. Nutting shifted $140 billion in fiscal 2009 spending from two of Obama’s signature programs -- the economic stimulus package and an expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program -- out of Bush’s column and into Obama’s. He also shifted excess spending beyond what Bush would have spent from the appropriations bills signed by Obama in 2009.
A number of critics also argued that spending for the Troubled Asset Relief Program should be taken into account. This program aided troubled financial institutions and involved a lot of money going out the door in fiscal 2009 and a lot of money coming in the door in subsequent years as the money was paid back to the treasury. The critics note that counting the TARP expenses as Bush’s artificially raises the baseline level of spending Obama inherited, thereby making Obama’s subsequent spending increases seem unrealistically small.
We think reasonable people can disagree on which president should be responsible for TARP spending, but to give the critics their say, we’ll include it in our alternative calculation. So, combining the fiscal 2009 costs for programs that are either clearly or arguably Obama’s -- the stimulus, the CHIP expansion, the incremental increase in appropriations over Bush’s level and TARP -- produces a shift from Bush to Obama of between $307 billion and $456 billion, based on the most reasonable estimates we’ve seen critics offer.
That’s quite a bit larger than Nutting’s $140 billion, but by our calculations, it would only raise Obama’s average annual spending increase from 1.4 percent to somewhere between 3.4 percent and 4.9 percent. That would place Obama either second from the bottom or third from the bottom out of the 10 presidents we rated, rather than last.
When we encounter a compound claim such as this one, we consider the accuracy of each part separately. During our internal discussions, we give a preliminary rating to each half of a claim, then average them to produce our final, published rating.
Our extensive consultations with budget analysts since our item was published convinces us that there’s no single "correct" way to divvy up fiscal 2009 spending, only a variety of plausible calculations. So the second portion of the Facebook claim -- that Obama’s spending has risen "slower than at any time in nearly 60 years" -- strikes us as Half True.
Meanwhile, we would’ve given a True rating to the Facebook claim that Romney is wrong to say that spending under Obama has "accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history." Even using the higher of the alternative measurements, at seven presidents had a higher average annual increases in spending. That balances out to our final rating of Mostly True.


UPDATE
A funny thing happened on the way to viral posting of my graphic--Politifact agrees with me. Well, mostly. They fault the graphic for not showing Congress' role in helping keep spending down. The thing of it is, that's not the point of the graphic or the graphic's intent. The point of the graphic is to indicate that Romney's view of this is false--regardless of the reasoning. So, to insinuate that I didn't include the reasons why isn't really a fair evaluation, because if people want to know the reasons behind the data, I have links and explanations for that, too. Right here in this blog post. I didn't pretend to explain the why, only the what. As my unbiased brother concludes: "I disagree with their assessment that your “graphic” has a shortcoming at all, let alone a significant one, by failing to mention congress’ influence.  It may be true about their influence, but that’s not the point of the facts as presented to refute Romney’s claim."
Source: Politifact
ORIGINAL POST

Okay, this is kinda huge. Wall Street Journal Market Watch Website Today:
 Source: MarketWatch.com
Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4% annualized pace — slower than at any time in nearly 60 years.


Wow. Just, wow. No commentary: the post just speaks for itself:
But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s. 
Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has.
Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics: 
  • In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.
  • In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
  • In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
  • In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
  • Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.
And of course the obligatory snarky delusional Romney graphic goes here:
Romney's World Source: www.mittromney.com/spending
Real World Source: Wall Street Journal Market Watch
Wait, what? Why? The take away: You can't ascribe policies for 2009--Bush owns that shit. The following is really important. I've been saying this for a while now, but this guy who works for the Wall Street Journal will be taken much more seriously: 

Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget. 
What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to develop a budget and steer it through Congress — especially in these days of congressional gridlock. 
The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.
Like a relief pitcher who comes into the game with the bases loaded, Obama came in with a budget in place that called for spending to increase by hundreds of billions of dollars in response to the worst economic and financial calamity in generations.
Oh, good lord, yes. I've been saying this for a loooooong time. In fact, I said it, again, in a post earlier today! Wow. Just wow. Wait, I already said that.













Almost Time to Renew the Bush Tax Cuts


Bush tax policy leads to income disparity
Bush Tax Cuts were enacted in 2001 and 2003, and According to OMBWatchCenter on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Tax Policy Center, the rise in income inequality has much to do with the Bush tax policy (Bush tax cuts were extended by President Obama in December 2010).  In February 2007, President Bush addressed the rise of income inequality by asserting that "The reason is clear: We have an economy that increasingly rewards education and skills because of that education." According to Wikipedia:
Critics state that the tax cuts, including those given to middle and lower income households, failed to spur growth. The cuts also increased the budget deficit, shifted the tax burden from the rich to the middle and working classes, and further increased already high levels of income inequality. Economists Peter Orszag and William Gale described the Bush tax cuts as reverse government redistribution of wealth, "[shifting] the burden of taxation away from upper-income, capital-owning households and toward the wage-earning households of the lower and middle classes."

Bush tax policy doesn't lead to jobs
Obama inherited the worst economy in (most peoples') living memory. But the tax policies from Bush were continued when, in 2010, Obama signed the tax cut extension and unemployment remains high. In the graphic below, Bush policies extended through 2009, because the fiscal year for 2009 began on September 1, 2008, and cannot reasonably be attributed to Obama simply because he was in office. People wrongly make the assertion that just because Obama took office in 2009, that somehow, magically, his policies take over. That's not the case, for at least the majority if not all of 2009. 
Unemployment Rate over 10 Years. Tax cut policy was extended in 2010.
Data Source: BLS
Graphic: Groobiecat

Saturday, May 19, 2012

This American Life Podcast: The Undo Influence of Money in Political Campaigns

Source: Salon.com via Daily Agenda
This is a truly eye-opening reporting. Anyone involved or interested in the political discourse of today must listen to this. If  you're unfamiliar, This American Life is a weekly radio show on NPR and as one of the most intriguing, engaging, and well produced shows in the US. This particular show is also, sadly, a clarion call to those still on the sidelines in terms of donating money. I swore I wouldn't do it again, but the truth is, if you don't give money, you're only doing part of the job needed to keep extremists from taking over the country. Because if Mittney wins, his Tea Party masters will do exactly what they did to Boehner (see this post: The Scorpion and the Frog: A Cautionary Tale).

Saturday Funnies: Tea Party Crazy


(Tea Partier: Source; Graphic/Data: Groobiecat)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Modern Day Civil War South: The Poor, The Uneducated, The Violent, The Republican

A friend of mine mentioned recently how he couldn't understand why the republican right and the south, generally, defend the confederate flag as non-racist, when neo-nazi white supremacists use it all the time as their basic logo. That made me think about the "modern" Civil War confederate states and how they've progressed over the years--or not. Here's what I found; feel free to draw your own conclusions:

Confederate States. There were 11 confederate states in the Civil War. (Note that Virginia was one state at the time, and that West Virginia is counted here as "half" a state.) (Source: PBS)

Voting. Of the 11 modern Civil War states, 8.5 voted republican in 2008. (Source: NYT)

Poorest. Of the top 10 poorest states, 9 voted republican in 2008; NC was the exception. Of the 10 poorest states, 6 are in the modern Civil War south. (Source: Huffington Post / Wall Street Journal)

Least Educated. Of the 5 least educated states, all of them voted republican in 2008. Of these 5, 3 are in the modern Civil War south. (Source: Investopedia/US Census)

Most Violent. Of the 10 most violent states, 8 of them voted republican in 2008, and 5 of them are in the modern Civil War south. (Source: Vision of Humanity Research Study)

Graphic: Groobiecat
Data Sources: Indicated above



Monday, May 14, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance and the Zombie Hive Mind: Why it's Impossible to Use Facts and Logic with the New Republican Party

Good lord, it's depressing, and frankly, I'm not sure what to do about it. The right is so completely absorbed in its own apocryphal, anti-intellectual, anti-logical world that, honestly, I don't see how one can reasonably deal with them at all. The following is representative of the neo-extremist, anti-facts, anti-logic view of the republican right.

The conservative website, TownHall.com, had this post today:



Here's how I responded to Ms. Kieffer:
"The RINO’s “horn” is compromise and Americans are tired of compromises like Obamacare. Americans want politicians who will just say “no” to socialism." So, let me get this straight:
a) You hate socialism.
b) Obamacare is socialism.
c) Obamacare is patterned exactly on Romney-care (designed by Heritage foundation).
d) Republicans elected Romney as their candidate for president.
e) Therefore, republicans elected a candidate who supports socialism, which they hate.
That seems inherently contradictory. Oh. Wait. No, it *is* inherently contradictory. It's called "cognitive dissonance," and you folks on the right have that in spades.

Snarky reply? Yes. Accurate? Oh, hells yeah. So, this basic logic problem--that even my freshman daughter in high school clearly understood--is completely lost on and ignored by the entire republican party. That's right, folks: the right believes in "gut" and angry bullet points, but not simple, basic logic. This is but one example, but there are so many, that there aren't enough hours in the day--and that's just to address with the specious reasoning perpetuated by the right on any given day.

Logic? We don't need no stinkin' logic.
As I wrote the other day, Mitt Romney exhibited the best example of cognitive dissonance--well, many times, actually, but--most recently when he said that he didn't recall attacking the gay kid in school, but that he certainly didn't remember that the kid was gay. Same basic issue with his stance on Detroit: He wrote an Op Ed piece in the New York Times that urged Detroit to be left to die, but then recently stated that his ideas were taken and he deserves credit for it being saved.

Graphic: Groobiecat
Mittney verbiage: Washington Post
Again, this is called Cognitive Dissonance. And it's governing the new crazies on the right the way that the search for brains governs an army of zombies. How do you argue with them? Like zombies, you can't.


Cognitive Dissonance Defined. Cognitive dissonance is when two conflicting or contradictory ideas inhabit the same brain at the same time. The definition of cognitive dissonance from Wikipedia:
In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements. 
That last bit is key: reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements. So, when there's a conflict with, say, hating Obama for his "socialistic" healthcare scheme which conflicts with support for a candidate whose healthcare scheme is exactly the same, the former is simply ignored as inconvenient.

When you call them out on it, the right simply either a) doesn't respond, or b) comes up with some sort of chuckling nonsensical dodge (see above). There's also this: c) facts don't matter as much as how one feels. Let me explain: One time, when I explained how contradictory his position was on a subject, my dad, a staunch conservative simply replied, "Well, I can't argue with you because you know a lot more than I do, obviously, but they're my beliefs and you can't do anything to change it. I own them." And that, in a nutshell, is what this is all about: beliefs vs. facts. I love my dad and respect him a great deal, but he summed up, quite clearly, the difference between the left and right. One side has "gut feelings" and "belief in fluffy ideas" whereas the other side tends to use facts and logic. Not always; not in all cases. But generally speaking.


Take a look at how Colbert brilliantly summed up the whole "gut feeling thing" a couple of years ago.




The Only Hope? There are still a lot of people who are centrist and/or "old school" republicans capable of basic reasoning. Heck, it's the only possible explanation for the fact that we have a black man in the white house--regardless of party. So, let's hope that basic logic and polemic can get through to these folks.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday Funnies: Insane much? Insane. Much. Anti-Gay Alien Lady Speaks at Lincoln, NE City Council

This just speaks for itself. It's a checklist of non-stop crazy:


Bi-polar. Check.
Disconnected. Check.
Babbling brook cum raging river of consciousness. Check.
Barking at the moon insane? Double check.


Only thing missing? The aluminum hat required to receive instructions from her Zenon masters on Planet 13b. The right wing does not trumpet people like this, but they truly do agree with a lot of it--whatever "it" is, isn't always easy to discern, however.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fucked up Friday: Someecards


(Source: Someecards.com)
Are you familiar with someecards.com? They offer quirky little "cards" that you can send to people via email. They're funny little sentiments that have become their own wildly Internet meme at this point. Anyway, there's a way to determine if you're familiar with them or not by asking yourself the following:
  1. Have you done any work this week?
  2. Have you paid any bills this month?
  3. Have you let the dog out within the last week?
  4. Have you changed clothes or bathed within the past several days?
  5. Are your relationships with your family stable, with no prospect of them packing up and leaving you in your own filth?
If your answer to these questions is "yes," then you're definitely unfamiliar with someecards--and their purveyors of someecard evil at tumblr, which now enable people to avoid ever having to leave their computer for any reason. they also let people create their own yourecards, so that pretty much guarantees I'll never get anything else done again. With that, my first attempts at riding the someecard wave follows:

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat

Source: Dear Dr. Laura
Source: Dear Dr. Laura
Source: Groobiecat

Source: Groobiecat