-- January 19, 2017
Once again, nothing will change in this country until the media, in all its forms, 24-7 news cycles, begins covering the issues which will have a significant impact on US citizens. Obama had his final news conference. Good story, important, said excellent things about his hopes for the future, distinguished himself from his predecessor. Should have been covered, no doubt, but not much real impact on anyone but him. The story ran three times an hour, 24-7, with fluffy side pieces ranking his speeches and reviewing his high and lowlights in office.
All fine and worthy coverage, but I happened to be chatting that evening with a group of friends and acquaintances, a group that includes both conservatives and liberals, whom I have found to be well-informed and tuned in to current events and issues of the day. In passing, I joked about "potential grizzlies." Blank stares, quizzical looks, shaking heads. So, I did a small recap of Betsy DeVos's testimony during her hearing to be Secretary of Education. Not only did the group not know about it, but several, conservative and liberal alike, accused me of exaggerating or getting it wrong.
Again, I wondered aloud, why didn't "potential grizzlies" run three times an hour, 24-7, for at least one day, if not several, and every time DeVos's name comes up, the same way email servers and Benghazi does with Hillary Clinton.
I mentioned Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price's acknowledgement and admission that he bought stock in companies he planned to assist by proposing and voting for legislation intended solely to increase their value and the value of his recently purchased stock. Why isn't there a 24-7 call for prosecution instead of possible confirmation of his appointment.
Because I live in a university town, I expected more tracking of Scott Pruitt's declaration that the jury was still out on global warming and that the EPA should be a federal review agency instead of a policy and enforcement one. Such information is no longer surprising, especially in a state which by a Republican governor's decree had the words "global warming" removed from state websites.
Each of these issues will have grave impact on the citizens of this country. They should be covered with more, or at least the same, fervor as whether MacDonald's has tweaked the Big Mac or how much of Trump's inauguration speech he wrote himself. And, each one of these ridiculously unqualified nominees should reflect back on the man who nominated them. If we learned nothing in the past 24-7, Barack Obama would take full responsibility for every one of them as he did with his own appointments and his own actions for the last eight years.
The Future of this Country Will Be Decided by the Media, in all its myriad varieties and forms
-- December 28, 2016The advent of the 24-hour, every hour, news cycle has accentuated exponentially two aspects of news reporting which have the most impact on the successful exchange of information. The first aspect is the decision on what to be report, and the second is how often to repeat it. Donald Trump was news in the "24-hour, every hour" news cycle nearly every day during the campaign so much that he only needed to spend a fraction of what Hillary spent for TV time. Trump was saying, or doing, or tweeting something outlandish almost faster than the media could cover it. However, it was coming so fast, and often in contradictory sound bites, that the media had too much to repeat. If you don't think the repeating portion of the "24 hour, every hour" news cycle is important, just ask Howard Dean how one innocent "Yee-haw" repeated 650+ times in one cycle can sink your chance to run for President.
In fact, because she didn't condemn Muslims and Mexicans, attack any specific gender or race, or have riots at her rallies, the "24 hour, every hour" news cycle simply repeated past identifiable issues like emails, Benghazi, and her husband's dexterity with a cigar. Trump, on the other hand, saw the "grab her by the pussy" and "women should be punished for having an abortion" flare up for a cycle or two and then disappear, replaced by the next anti-Semitic remark or lie about his taxes.
The advent of fake news is not new, but since Fox News, right-wing radio, and fabricated news sites on the web feeding off each other, it has created a seemingly verifiable array of false information. This phenomenon caused the Snopes.com site to have to expand its operation from debunking urban legends to checking the veracity of supposed news features, creatively edited and/or misidentified videos, research articles based on non-existent data, and other manufactured content like the site which fostered the Pizzagate shootings.
“It used to be that if you got too far from the mainstream, you were shunned for being a little nutty,” Kim LaCapria, Snopes content manager, said. “Now there is so much nutty going around that it’s socially acceptable to embrace wild accusations. No one is embarrassed by anything anymore.”
“People aren’t necessarily getting the media literacy they need, so they’re just kind of panicking,” Ms. LaCapria said.
The CIA and the FBI and the White House may all agree that Russia was behind the hacking that interfered with the election. But that was of no import to the website Breitbart News, which dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as “left-wing fake news.”
It has been widely reported that Trump held an off-the-record meeting with a bunch of TV reporters and executives on November 21, 2016. Politico reports that Trump loathes CNN. He “singled out” CNN and labeled them “the worst.”
"There can be little doubt that Donald Trump, a man with the temperament of a child, a narcissist who neither knows nor cares about decorum or precedent, is rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of making CNN pay for all of their imagined offenses against him over the years," commented Hamilton Nolan, media reporter for Deadspin.
Trump also despises most of the internet's free exchange of information from search engines to social media. So, enjoy the web now while you can because this is the clown who will be deciding the shape and scope of your internet in the future.
Donald Trump's presidential team picked Jeffrey Eisenach, an avowed crusader against regulation, to craft strategy on net neutrality and the FCC. | GettyObama stepped in to keep the internet free of tiers and special deals for business interests. The guy driving this clown car does not share his predecessor's concern for a unfettered exchange of information for all citizens.
--December 23, 2016
I have seen that headline recently in numerous publications and on TV news segments. The question as a question is a fabricated deceit. It implies that the answer is unknown or has a myriad of answers when, in fact, there's no question. There has only been one Trump. His history, both in business and in private life, has been well-chronicled. It is a history marked entirely of crude, immature, reprehensible behavior of a predatory and retaliatory nature.
He has failed upwards in business by misusing the tax and bankruptcy laws and by cheating his partners and contractors out of what he owed them. The track record also includes dozens of citations for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as over 300 liens from contractors and sub-contractors. He is a serial abuser of women, both in physical action (grabbing them by the pussy) and by verbal insults and name calling (No fat chicks!). He is an admitted adulterer (“I moved on her like a bitch") and frequenter of prostitutes, some as young as 13.
There is no other Trump. There is no list of praises. There is no long list of past associates lining up to sing those non-existent praises. Though never shy about bragging up the volume and prowess of his sexual conquests, there is not a "swell guy" scenario painted by past female associates in or out of the bedroom.
Because he inherited a head start in his life and business dealings, he never had to develop any of the social, diplomatic, or ethical skills required of a professional working man. He was an infamous butt of jokes because of his business failures and his only widespread public fame came as a self-promoted reality program TV huckster.
Just which other Donald Trump has the world ever seen?
The media in this country have got to stop pretending there are two sides to reality. It's clear from post-election polling of Trump supporters that that's what got us into this mess.
-- December 15, 2016The CIA and the FBI have determined that Russia hacked both political parties and used the illicit information to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump. The hackers gained access to voter rolls, addresses, voting histories, and other patterns generated by each party. So, what is more believable: that over 50 national polls and news outlets were somehow that far off or that Russia hacked computerized voting machines in a few key areas of a few key states?
This will be one of those times in history when future generations look back and chuckle: "How could they have been so stupid?" Similar to how we all marvel at: "Why would you bring that giant wooden horse inside the walls?" or "How could Chamberlain have believed Hitler was going to stop at Czechoslovakia?"
-- Nov. 23, 2016
A week before the election my wife was nervous. She said Trump needed to make another gaffe, say something truly offensive or outrageous or have another tape come out exposing his obvious lack of character as a human being let alone a candidate for the presidency.
I remember asking her what more could he say that he hadn't already said, what more could be unveiled that hadn't already been exposed, what action or admission might be bad enough to dissuade even his staunchest supporters from voting for him?
Of course, my wife was right to be nervous, but in retrospect, I doubt if there was anything at all Trump might have said or done which would have convinced even a single Trump voter to NOT vote for him.
Maybe sex with young boys?
I make the distinction "of boys" because his frequenting of teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13, at parties thrown by his good friend, Jeffrey Epstein, a pimp and sex offender was well-chronicled. Trump himself proudly commented on Epstein: “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it ― Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Maybe sexual assault?
But he'd already bragged about that:
“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.
“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything."
Cheating on his wife was a given:
In that audio, Trump discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman, whose full name is not given in the video.
“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.
“Whoa,” another voice said.
“I did try and f--- her. She was married,” Trump says.
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
He could have insulted your wife, your daughter, your sister or your mother personally?
As a voter, you'd have to make the jump of putting your sister's name or your daughter's name in place of Alicia Machado's or Lady Di or Megyn Kelly or any of the other women he verbally assaulted over the years. See how it sounds.
“Why do people think it’s egotistical of you to say you could’ve gotten with Lady Di?” Stern asked him. “You could’ve gotten her, right? You could’ve nailed her.”
“I think I could have,” Trump said.
When talking to CNN’s Don Lemon, he said about Megyn Kelly after the first debate: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."
When former Miss USA contestant and Trump employee Alicia Machado balked at what she described as Trump's physical advances and refusal to include more nonprofit and cause-related work in her schedule, Trump took to alternating his references to her as "Miss Piggy" with "Miss Eating Machine," "Miss Housekeeper" and "Miss Housekeeping."
I suppose he could have stolen money from orphans or war veterans.
Well, he did insult veterans, calling them weak if they suffered from PTSD, and calling former POWs losers, and personally attacked John McCain and his service.
He never released his taxes during the campaign
Used bankruptcy laws to avoid paying any taxes for at least 18 years, calling it "good business." (If a Democratic candidate had done anything similar, it would have been on a 24-hour news loop. Yee Haw!)
If you're waiting for those jobs he promised to bring back, consider:
his long history of chiseling on his debts and contracts which stretches back decades. Plumbers, painters, cabinet makers, mechanics, even waiters and bartenders. The track record includes dozens of citations for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as over 300 liens from contractors and sub-contractors.
He could have committed murder, but I assume he'd hire someone to do that for him. He doesn't have to worry about that now because he has our sons and daughters to do that for him at his whim.
Back in 1957, there was a movie entitled "A Face in the Crowd" about a folksy backwoods country singer and storyteller who had a sort of down home reality TV series where he soared to fame as a voice of wisdom for the common man. At the peak of his power, he has delusions of grandeur about his influence, but his closest adviser leaves the microphone on during the commercial break and the audience hears him calling them all "Guinea pigs, idiots, trained seals, and miserable slobs."
In the movie, the star is cut down by the audience hearing what he really thought of them. In this election cycle, I was struck most by how much it no longer matters what a man like Trump might say behind the scenes because it makes no difference to him and, apparently, no difference to those who would vote for him.
Is this still in the budget? And if so, why would it not be covered in the Wisconsin media? (No need to answer that.)
-- July 9, 2015
"In a move designed to turn the clock in Wisconsin back to the 19th Century, Scott Walker and Republicans in the state legislature have included a provision in the budget that takes away a worker’s right to the weekend off.
Section 56 is entitled "One Day of Rest in Seven."
"A hundred years ago workers took to the streets to fight for 40 hours, and a hundred years have come and gone, we’ve seen an explosion in technology, we’ve seen an explosion in productivity, we have a great global economy, and what do you have? The vast majority of people are working longer hours for lower wages." -- Bernie Sanders
Criminal and Otherwise
Jan. 28, 2015
"I don't expect miracles but, if the elite political press is really going to pump Scott Walker for president of the United States, they should at least mention from time to time that he never has held a political office that was not infested with cheap cronyism, criminal and otherwise, and that he never has run a campaign that was not shot through with cheap corruption, criminal and otherwise. The cronies are expected to take the fall when, as it inevitably does, the law comes calling. This should be something of a drawback for him as a candidate."
December 2014:The Democratic Party Doesn't Get It
-- December 30, 2014
With some end-of-the-year deadline approaching, I am once again inundated with desperate attempts to guilt me into donating money. The majority of these requests come from various appendages of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party doesn't get it. Why would I give a cent to a party that can't get out of its own way and arrogantly clings to old boy politics standing in the way of populist reformers.
Oh, I'll vote for the Democrat and independently support certain progressive Democrats, but how could I possibly give a nickel to the party which refused to fight for Al Gore's electoral victory in 2000, quashed Howard Dean's candidacy in 2004, and pulled support from Alison Lundergan Grimes in the final weeks of the last election when she was even in the polls with Mitch McConnell. In my home state, the Democratic Party is so entrenched, inbred, and unimaginative that they botched three chances to unseat an uneducated, narrow-minded martinet from the Governorship.
I know some of my money I donate to other progressive political groups ends up in the pockets of these losers, but they should just stop sending requests for my money like they're somehow shocked that I don't respond. The Democratic Party must wake up to the fact that it won't be relevant again as an effective political force until it begins supporting the causes and policies which are identified by every major poll as being the most important to the American people.
Raising Taxes on corporations and the wealthy
Stopping the XL pipeline and protecting the environment
Raising the minimum wage
Protecting and strengthening Social Security
Expanding Affordable Healthcare to a single payer system
These are the issues that get voters to the polling places, and the professional pollsters continue to indicate those voters would favor the candidate who supports those issues.
In the meantime, I will continue to support the likes of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Jim Dean.
sat and watched those guys
Debate each other on tv
They're all the same to me
Hey, I don't give a damn
Which idiot runs this country
--"Last Man On Earth" by Loudon Wainwright III
For years that was an erroneous, but understandable POV for some potential voters who didn't care about anybody but themselves or how they were governed. For the most part politicians left them alone with their TV and their Taco Bell of choice, but if that cocoon of self-focus was also meant to include fast, affordable internet for smartphones and tablets, then those non-voters might have wanted to reconsider.
This new breed of corporate politician will indeed be meting out some harm to that self-contained bubble. As soon as Net Neutrality is re-structured into tiers of competition equating speed and service with money and privilege, we can all say goodbye to reasonable downloads, social media, and the free exchange of information.
If voter laws continue to become more restrictive, the non-voter may not have to worry about whether it's worth voting or not. They may not be allowed to vote.
And if Citizens United isn't overturned, non-voters will have little choice even if they decide to vote.
Polls show that the general public overwhelmingly supports the following Democratic Party issues:
Raising the minimum wage
Protecting Social Security
Increasing Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy
Lower Greenhouse gasses
Reduce reliance on Oil
However, that same public voted nearly as overwhelmingly for Republicans who opposed those positions. As it turns out, most of those incongruous voters identified the Democrat as the candidate who opposed those issues and believed the Republican cared more about helping the common citizen. This simple reversal of the truth was reinforced by attack ads purchased by affluent third party and out-of-state interests in the final days just before the election.
In several key states, Kentucky, North Carolina, Colorado, and Arkansas, polling had the senate races as dead heats. In the final week or two before the election, the polling results changed drastically in those races. Candidates did not make changes in their positions on key issues. The difference was the influx of money to produce saturation level attack ads to confuse the voting public.
The other reason given for voting against their own interests was holding President Obama to blame for all the perceived ills facing the country and it's citizens.
It's difficult to know which of these problems citizens wanted fixed:
Gas below 3 dollars/gallon
Economic Growth a record 63+ consecutive months
Over 200,000 jobs added each month
Lowest unemployment claims since 2008
Stock Market reaching record heights
It can be summed up by the fact that a majority of Americans dislike Obamacare, but overwhelmingly endorse the Affordable Care Act.
--Feb. 24, 2014
When you look at this rogue's gallery of committed criminals, the moribund, hardened frowns, the ugly crestfallen countenances, remember these were not peripheral employees in lesser positions. These were not mailroom employees, janitors who cleaned up after everyone went home, or file clerks. No these mugs were SKW's brain trust, his confidants, his inner circle as they called themselves. They were personally selected and served at the pleasure of SKW.
So, why doesn't he shoulder any of the blame for their actions while under his aegis?
To heck with Walker not wanting to answer a direct question about whether he knew about a secret router network, he was the executive in charge of these personally selected employees. Why has he not been made to answer for that? There's no gray area here:
Six top aides convicted of 15 felonies and 3 misdemeanors including one who embezzled more than $21,000 from a nonprofit group that raised money for veterans; and another for stealing more than $51,000 that was donated to help veterans and their families. Another was laundering campaign donations to Walker and others.
Walker's claims now that a county DA who ran as a Democrat chose not to bring anymore charges resulting from the first John Doe Investigation does not absolve him of a consistent pattern of placing criminally corrupt individuals in the highest positions around him.
His further implications that the individuals in the first John Doe Investigation no longer work for him is also false. Brett Davis for whom Rindfleisch was raising money while on county time, is currently SKW's Medicaid Director. Cindy Archer, whose computers were seized during the investigation and whose e-mails show was an inner circle coordinator, is now an administrative services director at the state's Public Defender's Office where her salary is over $100,000/year. Keith Gilkes, another prominent figure in the e-mails, began as SKW's chief of staff (remember he was the guy who took the fake Koch brother phone call) and currently runs his re-election campaign.
Tom Nardelli, SKW's county chief of staff, somehow escaped prosecution in the first John Doe Investigation which is even more mysterious than how SKW himself remained uncharged. (It should always be reiterated that the prosecutor did not say there were no more violations found or laws broken, only concerns about whether those could be successfully prosecuted.)
Nardelli began SKWs governor's term as an administrator for the Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services making just under $100,000/year, but resigned soon after the leaked discovery of the secret router e-mails. It has been hinted that his resignation may have been spurred by, among other things, a certain e-mail joke which some political pundits who want it all to just fade away have referred to as "inappropriate."
Or what SKW now refers to as "some odds and ends, some stupid things that people said along the way."
Inappropriate? Not suited to the occasion? Wearing the wrong dress to the dance might be inappropriate. Addressing the Pope as dude might be inappropriate or the Governor as a douche bag. I know about inappropriate. I've been inappropriate.
Sending the most comprehensively offensive racist joke of all time over an e-mail network is so far beyond inappropriate, it would have cost any other person in a public position their job, but not Tom Nardelli... or maybe it did.
The joke in question deals with Nardelli's nightmare about discovering he possesses every single attribute he finds inferior or objectionable in every other race but his own as well as being poor and handicapped. At length, and on and on, Nardelli wallows in the stereotypes and misconceptions of each attribute until, he prays to God:
"Say it isn’t so!!! I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don’t tell me I’m a Democrat.”
This is NOT a harmless joke which is a little bit un-PC. In other similar jokes of this type, the "worst thing that could happen" lists are of disasters which might befall any of us, fire, death, loss. In Nardelli's nightmare, the worst things are people, and they are the worst that could happen NOT because of anything they did, but merely because they exist, Black, Mexican, Jewish, homosexual, handicapped, bald--for pity's sake.
To find this joke even remotely funny, you have to view each of these hereditary characteristics as among the worst things that could happen to both the joke teller and the joke's intended audience. The joke makes clear that the audience is Republicans, but not merely Republicans. Only healthy, heterosexual, white men with money and hair are not feared in the joke.
There you have it. SKW Republicans = Outwardly heterosexual, well-to-do white men with hair who think they are healthy.
Hmmm. David Koch is getting mighty thin on top and his
estranged twin Fred is almost as bald as I am. I'd wager SKW
mocks him in private when he's not talking to him on the snipe (ala Ian
Affordable Care Act won't be effective until it is an extension of the medicare and medicaid system
There are several reasons why the ACA came out of Congress as a jerry-rigged, inherently self-sabotaging beast of a bill. One of these reasons was that "compromise," and its idiot stepbrother, "bipartisanship," combined to make simply getting a deal done the reason for passing the thing. And the problem with the deal that finally got done was that it insisted on keeping health-insurance companies in charge of health-care coverage in this country. This necessitated the creation of a bill that had to be both sufficiently progressive and sufficiently deferential to major corporate interests.
-- Daily Politics Blog - Charles P. Pierce - Political Blogging - Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/#ixzz2PJMxJBKO
This is why the only healthcare reform which will be effective is a single payer system where the government and not a for profit company is the provider.
Remember when there was all that hulabaloo about U.S. drone strikes taking out civilians in far off lands?
Remember when there was concern about drones being used inside the U.S. against our own civilians? Nonsense? What a ludicrous thought?
Now this: (12/29/13)
The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six states to develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft's march into U.S. skies.
The FAA announced Monday the sites will be based in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.
The most recent in an on-going rash of school shootings, this one in Taft, California, would seem to lend credence to the argument that although these sorts of attacks will never be preventable, they can be limited in the scope of their devastation. A perpetrator with a shotgun sans high volume magazine (he had 20 shells in his pockets) leaves one seriously wounded victim and two others treated at the scene.
This is not to diminish the tragedy of the crime. One person shot is one too many, but you need only ask the parents of all the victimized children at Sandy Hook whether the number of rounds makes a difference.
Well, look what has managed to survive the sequestration crisis just fine: the F-35, the $400 billion boondoggle
-- July 16, 2013
I was going to write something about this, but Charlie Pierce types way faster than me:
Ninety senators have a political stake in this clown show, so it will never close. Meanwhile, Congress is fighting tooth-and-nail over how much to cut food stamps, and we keep building a new airplane that can't maneuver in combat or perform air-to-ground support any better than the ones we have now, and that spends more time in the shop than my old minivan did, and it had axles that would break if you looked at them and an electrical system designed by bonobos. The next person who talks to me about how we need to ask Americans to "sacrifice" more gets a cream pie in the face. I am not kidding about this.
Ok, I know I'm late on asking these questions,
but my biggest question is why I didn't see anyone else asking them?
--May 17, 2013
The first deals with the story about the former Paul Ryan Intern/Mitt Romney/Gingrich staffer who was arrested for "illegally obtaining naked pictures of 15 women" and charged with using those pictures to blackmail the women into sending him more naked pictures of themselves. http://theweek.com/article/index/243177/feds-arrest-paul-ryans-former-intern-in-nude-picture-blackmail-scandal#
Aside from the fact, I was awash in the joy of ironic comeuppance to see photos of this trusted political ally, arm in arm, with Ryan, with Romney, with Gingrich, under the heading of "family values?", my question, which was of little interest to the reporters covering the case, is HOW does one go about "illegally obtaining naked pictures?"
I remember the Erin Andrews through the keyhole video a few years back, and the intermittent cases regarding a secret camera in a tanning booth or a changing room, but this was 15 different individual women.
Now, as it turns out, the closest any article came to clarifying the crime, it had something to do with hacking into social media websites. Which raises another question I think would make an interesting article all on its own. Are there a lot of women who post naked pictures of themselves on social media websites? If so, why? Wouldn't the purpose of posting them on social media be for others to see them? (I know about locks and passwords, but if it's just one other person, why not just send them the photos?)
I don't lose any sleep over these questions. I just wonder why someone didn't ask.
The second question deals with a quote from a woman who ended up in the middle of the Mother's Day shooting in New Orleans during something called a "second line." It turns out a "second line" is described in a couple articles as a sort of parade with costume changes and various small marching bands of musicians. So, at least that question was answered.
In the midst of several original articles describing the eruption of gunfire which shattered the parade and left 20 people wounded,
this woman's quote was included:
"Me and mom were going to the second line. I told her I didn't want to go because there are always shots at a second line," Tyler said.
Always? No follow-up question? There's always shots at a second line? Here's a few that come to mind:
Was there shots fired last year at the Mother's Day second line? (Must have been if there's "always shots") How many people were wounded last year?
Why do you go to a second line? Is it the danger? The excitement to see if you can enjoy the parade and the music without getting shot?
As it turns out, after nearly a week, some articles did appear recounting the troubled history second lines have had in the past. Apparently, New Orleans is still a wild place where you have to expect a few gun shots during a celebration.
Is it a sign of civilization that some people there are questioning whether all the fun is really worth the risk of taking a bullet?
After watching the movie, Lincoln, I was struck by how the house members were well aware of how monumental and historical the vote on the 13th Amendment was to the future of the country, to an entire race, and to their own moral standing as men. I was at once struck by how different they were from politicians of today and how all the great issues which define our humanity have already been decided. Even a vote on whether to invade a country like Iraq which had done nothing to warrant our aggression was passed almost in sweeping assent with no debate except for an impassioned plea here and there from quaint old moralists like Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy.
But it hit me with some clarity that the upcoming session on the so-called fiscal cliff is as close as any representative in my lifetime will have to casting a vote which could significantly change the future social and economic fabric of the country. It is ultimately a vote on whether to eliminate the government's protections and support for the poor and working classes against the whims and bidding of a wealthy elite. The loss or diminishing of programs long recognized as essential such as medicare, medicaid, social security, unemployment compensation, and national labor standards would have no other result than a further eroding of any semblence of equality or well-being for all.
I now envy these elected officials their chance to make history. I only wish they shared my view of the weight and implications of their actions.
It makes me wonder why a protest of not quite 100,000 people in a far-off foreign country raises such an outcry and national attention when less than two years ago over 125,000 protesters marching on the state capitol of Wisconsin garnered much less concern and barely a blip in national coverage.
--Lenny Woodson, 12/5/12
"I have said more than once that it
is not the president's job to tame John Boehner's crazy-ass caucus for him. The
president was re-elected on a slate of policies that the country wanted. He has
no affirmative obligation to water these down just to "get a deal done" for the
sake of appearances, just as he is under no affirmative action to offer up
Medicare and Social Security as blood sacrifices just so that John Boehner and
his crazy caucus will be placated."
Read more: Daily Politics Blog - Charles P. Pierce - Political Blogging - Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/#ixzz2E5qy1sFS
If the Republicans do steal this election (voter suppression, voting machine manipulation, court appointed electing, etc.), just remember this simple solution from the Firesign Theater (Ben Bland's All Day Matinee on the "Just Folks" album, as appropriate now as it was then):
"At the first sign of these symptoms, friends, follow these simple rules: keep working, drink as much as possible, and... take your television's advice.
And y'know more TV's recommend an amazing new psychic breakthrough than any other, and that's... Confidence in the System. Fast, safe, and guaranteed through constant Federal control, Confidence in the System will keep THEM in power longer, longer, longer, and tend to calm and obscure the miseries of disillusionment and despair. In easy-to-swallow Propaganda form or new fast-acting Thought Control, that's Confidence in the System. So have some... today.
Ohio Will decide the Election
-- Obama supporters say they must "get out the vote"
October 24, 2012
The problem in Ohio in the two presidential elections before the last one was not getting voters to the polls, it was providing them with a voting apparatus which would both allow them to cast a vote and to insure that vote was counted.
Long lines blamed on poor planning forced many to leave polling places without casting a vote. When closing time came, many were turned away and told they were too late to cast a vote.
In some places in the state where citizens were allowed to cast votes, it was later proven that some of the voting machines had tallied votes cast for Kerry into the Bush column. This was blamed on a glitch.
Now, a headline: "Romney Associates Bought Company That Controls Ohio's Election Voting" must raise concern because of this most important state has a track record of election administration incompetence.
As should a 2007 study
commissioned by the state of Ohio which found Hart Intercivic's voting system
allowed unauthorized individuals to gain access to memory cards and "easily
tamper" with core voting data.
The company has admitted that the system has not been upgraded to address the study's concerns.
It seems certain that Ohio will decide the election, but it is much less certain if Ohio voters will.
Romney and Obama on the campaign trail courting women voters... What?
How can Romney possibly court women voters? And why would Obama even have to try? Does a life preserver need to convince a drowning person to grab hold when the alternative is a slab of stone?
Also, is the mainstream media ignoring the upswing in the economy because it further weakens a futile opponent in the presidential race.
---Housing starts up 15% in September
---U.S. Unemployment Rate Lowest Since January 2009
---4.5 million jobs created since the economy bottomed out in 2010
---Retail Sales rise in September 2012
"Not to belittle the fact, but it's always troubling and a whole lot disingenuous when there is an abundance of reporting about a 14-year-old gunned down in Pakistan, but damn little about teenagers gunned down in cities all across our own country!"-- Lenny Woodson, October 10, 2012
A few observations about the controversial ending to the Packers-Seahawks Monday night game past:
First of all, there is no defending the NFL for employing under qualified and inexperienced personnel to officiate pro football at the highest level of professional competition.
That said, the call was absolutely correct according to the recent ludicrous changes in the NFL rules regarding the reception of a forward pass. Somehow, there is a pervasive belief that Packers defensive back M. D. Jennings had made an interception while he was in the air. According to NFL rules, he had done no such thing until he came down with both feet or some other body part inbounds. In fact, while clutching the ball, he was also clutching one of Golden Tates's hands. Before he could complete the interception according to the bizarre NFL rule, Tate managed to get his other hand in on the ball. A clear case of simultaneous possession when both finally satisfied the NFL rule by coming down inbounds. According to another rule, such simultaneous possession goes to the offensive player. Thus, a touchdown.
Another observation would be to wonder why there has been so little comment on why M. D. Jennings attempted to catch the football. For several years now, ad nauseum, Chris Berman and the ESPN highlights crew have chanted in unison to the question: "what do you do on a 4th down pass in the end zone?" KNOCK IT DOWN!
On another point, from a pure football evaluation standpoint, why did Russell throw the ball into an area where the Packers outnumbered his receivers 5 to 2? There were three other eligible receivers who had to be single covered or uncovered!
Finally, this play may get the discussion going again on whether officials can call obvious penalties while reviewing a play. They can already change the clock, the spot, and the down. Why not let them do their jobs in all respects while reviewing a play. It's also clear most receivers will push off in a crowd when the situation is desperate and the game is on the line.
SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama
-- When he doesn't know a camera's rolling, the GOP candidate shows his disdain for half of America. September 17, 2012
Isn't this what Romney has been saying publicly all along? Or is it just what every person paying attention on both sides has been hearing?
Not sure this will rattle many cages or shake loose many new votes for either candidate.
However, the blatancy of some of the comments might keep some independents/undecided from voting for him.
How Much Longer Before an advertisement like this is not only in bad taste, but the reality is in worse taste. I'm not even sure it's safe to send my kids to school at all anymore, especially in the first few days of the year. http://abcnews.go.com/US/student-17-critically-wounded-day-teacher-subdues-gunman/story?id=17087340#.UD0IUmzzjBk
This gives a whole new meaning to back to school shopping:
Second Amendment Emporium and Supply
-- For close-up shootings of football players or cheerleaders, we carry all the newest Glocks, Walthers, and Sigs which are light, easy to grip and have lighter trigger pull weights for squeezing off more shots without too much annoying recoil action.
-- For random shootings into crowds in the cafeteria, nothing could be better than one of our HK-417s or an M&P15. Change things up with a Mossberg or Nighthawk shotgun for maximum spray pattern with each shot. Impress your friends or accomplices with a new side mount or saddle rail for faster re-loading.
-- We have a wide array of ammonium-nitrate based fertilizers and assorted shrapnel loads such as bent nails, broken glass, and metal shearings.
-- Don't be caught dead in last year's Kevlar styles. We have the newest trendy looks for hipsters and nerds alike in basic black, full camo, and new this fall, blackboard green.
-- And remember, don't wait until the last minute, you can never have enough tripwires and booby traps for your house, apartment, or dilapidated shack in the woods.
From President Obama's Comments after the Aurora, CO shooting rampage:
"We may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow citizens
this way. It is senseless and beyond reason. But we do know what makes life
worth living. They loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers, and
sisters and brothers, and sons and daughters, and friends and neighbors. They
had hopes for the future and dreams not yet fulfilled.
"We know that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and precious. What matters at the end of the day is not the small things, the trivial things. Ultimately, it's how we treat one another and how we love one another, and what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and give our lives purpose. At the end of the day, what we remember is those we loved, and what we did for others."
Paraphrasing Charlie Pierce: If people want to know how to talk about Christianity on a day such as this, that's the way to do it.
In Search of Intelligent Life in a Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, but not too intelligent
by Lenny "the Schneid" Woodson
--July 16th, 2012
There's some hilarity to watching the Republican Party and the Romney camp supposedly vetting VP choices by leaking names like chum onto the churning waters of public discourse.
Marco Rubio leaked his own name implying that he wasn't being seriously considered. The question quickly became: Was it a VP campaign or a book tour?
Mitch Daniels quit politics for a job as the president of a university. Only in Indiana could a politician who made hay as an anti-education budget slasher be hired as the top administrator at a top university which once had a rather highly regarded reputation as an institution of higher learning.
The hailstorm of right-wing angst and ridicule which followed Mrs. Romney's leaking of a Condi Rice's possible consideration was an embarrassment for all involved, not the least, Ms. Rice herself who as a woman and a black woman to boot should realize she has two strikes against her before she even looks for a seat on the Republican Party bus.
Rob Portman is seen as too liberal inside the Party. He is on the board of environmental and nature conservancy groups. But his biggest problem since having his name surface among the chum is his recent connection to George W. Bush, having served as the U.S. Trade Representative under him from 2005 to 2006, and as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2006 to 2007. There is no doubt the Democrats would take every opportunity to link the Romney campaign to the disaster which was the Bush Administration.
The VP candidate has to be a strong, likable fellow, but not as strong or as likable as the Presidential candidate. The biggest problem for the Republican Party is that there are few candidates the Party as a whole likes less than Romney himself. If he were being vetted for the VP spot, he would have been eliminated somewhere between Rubio and Rice. This is also not a good problem for your top guy to have when the majority of guns in the country reside in the hands of your party's faithful. It's safer when your #2 is someone equally suspect or scary, like a Gore or a Cheney or even, a Biden.
So, it looks like safe and boring are the next best things to suspect and scary.
Tim Pawlenty has the boring part down cold. He was not wildly popular as Governor of Minnesota, and can offer no guarantee of being able to deliver that state for Romney. There are also some ideological questions. He has taken positions opposed to or at least differing from Romney's official lines on immigration, Obamacare, and tax code reform.
But I read somewhere that Mrs. Romney has a genuine affection for Mrs. Pawlenty. That can be essential when your strapping dogs atop family cars for one of those long dual family getaways in Canada.
From the "How Proud they Must Be" Dept.: A Quick Tally of U.S. House of Representatives Activity:
Of Jobs Bills (without underlying provisions to harm the environment or
undermine other existing laws) Under John Boehner's Speakership: Zero
Number Of Alternatives To The ACA Under John Boehner's Speakership: Zero
Number Of minimum wage increases Under John Boehner's Speakership: Zero
Number Of Clean Energy Bills Under John Boehner's Speakership: Zero
Number of Education Assistance Bills Under John Boehner's Speakership: Zero
For those keeping score, that's a total ZERO.
Mutiny on the Bounty
By Lenny "the Schneid" Woodson
June 25, 2012
Fans Think Goodell Too Hard on Saints' bounty hunters!
This comes after the NFL released evidence that the bounty on Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC championship game was actually $35,000, not $10,000 as believed at one time.
Despite denying he collected the bounty and was caught on tape bragging about it, new Packer player, Anthony Hargrove saw his popularity soar in Titletown.
"I didn't even know he was on our team until all this came out," admitted one of the green and gold faithful. "I don't know whether he got the bounty, but he was fined $5,000 for the play so I know his heart is in the right place."
Meanwhile, the season-long suspension of New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is unprecedented in the NFL. Can the NFL really keep Vilma from holding a job in professional football for an entire year? Could he play for the UFL or the CFL or the Arena League? Could the Saints keep him from working for another league because of some contract provision? Does the team lose a year of his contract? Can he collect unemployment?
(Read entire entry in the Rum Blog)
Wisconsin Voters Prefer a Corrupt Governor to Feeling Like Unions Are Pushing Them Around
--June 7, 2012
That's a simplification, but then this is a small space to explain the three main reasons the recall was doomed.
1.) Despite warnings and grumblings from many astute members of their movement, those who claimed to be leading the recall effort never wavered from their initial contention that it was Walker's attack on public unions which fueled the grassroots campaign to remove the governor. Although teachers and other unions may have been the first to march around the capitol building, it was a much more homogeneous cross-section of irate citizens -- protesting a lengthy, equally appalling list of attacks the governor had orchestrated on every good and decent initiative in the state -- which swelled the crowd to over 100,000.
Unfortunately, the local and national mainstream media continued to emphasize the union leadership over the 16 month ordeal. The recall effort collected just over a million signatures, twice the number they needed to force a new election. In that election, a little over a million people voted to remove the governor. Ostensibly, the same as signed the petitions. They needed to convince a couple hundred thousand more that the Governor was hurting the state in a bad enough way to warrant his recall. With only 7-10 % of workers directly involved with unions, and specifically historically unpopular unions, it had little chance of being an issue which would sway undecided voters.
2.) The election was held 16 months removed from the fervor, ire, and shock of the original catalysts and protests. If the recall had been held in March or April of 2011, Walker would have been voted out. The election was held 5 months after the delivery of a staggering number of signatures, two times the number that opponents' claimed would be unlikely at best. If the recall had been held in March of 2012, there is a very good chance Walker would have been voted out. Instead, because Wisconsin had long championed fairness and inclusiveness, we had primaries before the recall election. Much was made of this being only the third governor recall in the history of the country and the only one where the governor was not recalled, but in neither of the previous successful governor recalls was there a primary before the election.
But 16 months did pass, all the righteousness and reckoning of the protests and the collecting of signatures had long passed. It ended up much like the story of Chicken Little. The recall effort claimed the sky was falling. It was true. It fell on some at the capitol, but after 16 months, it didn't seem to be falling anymore. Oh, it's falling, but it just hasn't hit every single voter yet.
3.) Because Russ Feingold, who according to the polls would have defeated Walker without even campaigning -- he wouldn't even have had to sweep toys and lamps off a table in a white room like his notoriously failed ad in his last campaign -- refused to run, the recall effort was left with a kindly old gentleman named Tom Barrett. As nice a man as Tom Barrett appears to be, the Wisconsin electorate made clear in the last election that they'd vote for an illiterate, ferret-faced college dropout before they'd vote for him. Feingold may yet be the state's only chance when Walker has to run for his office a third time in less than five years.
As a lesser 4th reason, I would only say, the only people with enough gall to suggest those in the recall effort have no right to be pointing fingers at the Department National Committee, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Democratic President Obama are merely fellow travelers or sore winners.
If the Mainstream Media had any Shame
-- June 1, 2012
A majority of the mainstream media has consistently characterized the recall election is a single issue referendum on collective bargaining pushed solely by unions. If that were true, the recall signature effort would never have collected over 1 million signatures, twice the number needed to force an election. The truth is that Walker has systematically dismantled or crippled all that was once great about Wisconsin. He has administrated cuts in education, high-speed rail, health care for children and the elderly, and protections for the environment. Yet, due to the lack of mainstream media coverage and the 25 to 1 influx of out-of-state money, it appears likely that Walker will survive the grassroots recall campaign.
Even though it is obvious that most of the mainstream media is owned by corporations and conglomerates which support Walker, the skewed reporting and lack of coverage was unnecessary. The issues surrounding Walker's attack on Wisconsin have little to do with economic advantages or incentives for the corporations involved. The issues are about what is good for the state vs. what is bad for the state. The state of Wisconsin and its citizenry did not fight and struggle to make advancement upon advancement in the areas of public health and social services, a clean and protected environment, and a public education system from pre-school to university which was second to none only to assent to a careless Governor's unilateral dismantling of all that was built in the past century.
By not covering this elemental distinction, the media of the state, and especially the nation, has done a disservice to it's customers and to its most basic function of providing the knowledge needed by those customers to participate in an informed manner in their community and governance.
Of course, if the media had done its job, it might still be a moot point if Waukesha County claims another implausible 96% voter turnout again.
Say (over) 1 Million Signed Petition to Recall Wisconsin Governor
Critics of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin submitted to the state on Tuesday more than a million signatures, nearly twice as many as required, on recall petitions against him to force a new election.
Election officials now begin the arduous process of studying the petitions for flaws and duplicated names. But leaders of the recall effort said the number of signatures was so large as to put any serious legal challenge out of reach. The anti-Walker forces needed 540,208 names and had estimated that they would produce at least 720,000, so the still larger number came as a surprise to many.
Barring a legal fight, Mr. Walker, a Republican who took office a year ago and set off a firestorm by curtailing collective bargaining rights for public workers, will face a new election in the late spring or early summer. Around the country, only two governors have ever been removed through recall.
“This sends a message,” said Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, who described the one million names as evidence that this was the largest signature drive, in terms of the percentage of the state’s electorate signing, for a recall effort in United States history.
Buoyed by the number of names, Democrats and union supporters watched a truck pull up carrying box after box of petitions.
Ryan Lawler, a board member for United Wisconsin, said the numbers were evidence of the emotions involved. “Scott Walker and his supporters tried to demean and marginalize recall circulators, but in Wisconsin winter, an army of more than 30,000 Wisconsin-born-and-bred recall volunteers took to street corners, malls, places of worship, dinner tables and sidewalks to take their state back,” he said.
Petitions were also submitted on Tuesday for recall elections of the lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, with 845,000 recall signatures, and four Republican state senators, including Scott Fitzgerald, the majority leader who helped pass Mr. Walker’s collective bargaining cuts. In protest last year, Democrats fled the state to block a vote (and force debate on the issues).
You Wouldn't Want That
--June 7, 2011
In Wisconsin, the Governor and his cronies are asking the state supreme court to overturn a lower court's order which ruled that the Republicans in the legislature (the only members present at the time) had violated the state's open meetings law. In an article about the arguments being made before the supreme court, the Wisconsin State Journal chose to highlight the following quote under a prominent photograph of an assistant attorney general:
"If the circuit court's decision is allowed to stand, we'll have continuous marches down to the courthouse."
The true meaning of this statement is not only abundantly clear, but utterly chilling.
The Governor and his ilk do not want citizens actively involved in the political system, engaged and informed, feeling empowered by seeing something positive come of their actions. The next thing you know, these citizens will be exercising their civic rights and responsibilities on a "regular" basis.
Oh, yeah, they have a right to march around in a circle occasionally. They can assemble in the hundreds of thousands for such marches every now and again, but they can't be allowed to have any impact or to get anything done in these displays of overwhelming public opinion. What would be next? Holding politicians accountable for keeping campaign promises? Requiring elected officials to do their jobs by representing their constituents.
Isn't this what we all were supposed to have learned in civics class? Isn't this the antithesis of what so many pundits and academics have been complaining about for so many years about the voting age populace?
The answer is no! So much so, that an assistant attorney general who is representing the state against its own citizens, can make such an argument before the highest court in the state without even a flinch or a quibble. The Governor would very much prefer the citizenry of the state return to that apathetic, uninformed, disillusioned lot who elected him in the first place.
This is what democracy looks like?
--Mar. 14, 2011
Not only is it an incredibly difficult and awkward thing to chant but it seems totally wrong.
This is not what democracy looks like. Walking around the capitol building, time and again, chanting and bellowing into the void because no one is listening. This is what being deprived of democracy looks like.
Yet, it was an absolutely amazing to be a part os such an endeavor. A hundred thousand plus people coming together to voice their moral outrage at a litany of wrongs as self-evident as the truths in the Declaration of Independence. A righteous throng as multi-faceted as it was vast, ages from a few months old to nearly a century. Every conceivable race and nationality. A cacophony of languages, of drumbeats, the rhythm of two hundred thousand footfalls. Every mode of dress from grunge to suits. Every political belief represented from life-long conservatives to radical liberals.
So dissimilar a group could only have been brought together by the feeling that they could not sit idly by and watch the unjust and underhanded actions of a corrupt governor which so offended their spirit of fundamental fairness and decency that they could do nothing else but protest.
And protest they did. The strong, the loud, the vibrant, but also the true heroes of these marches, the aged and the infirm. The elderly husband supporting his wife as they made lap after lap around the Capitol Square, her leaning into him more and more as the day wore on. Another old man with a cane making his own way around, but with one hand still free, raised in a defiant fist. All of them buffeted by the cold and bitter wind, but still the came, people in wheelchairs, on crutches, on walkers; one even rolling an oxygen tank as he shuffled along.
What did they think they were doing? Why were they out there?
The looks on their faces said it had something to do with putting strong beliefs into righteous action. Their faces showed their pride in living in a country where you are supposed to be heard by your government, but they also showed the anger of being ignored. It wasn't all hurt and anger. There was wonder and smiles. Wonder at the vision of tens of thousands of citizens, growing to and surpassing a hundred thousand, all joining together for a common purpose. And the smile of being part of something bigger, something better, the real possibility of righting a serious wrong.
There was also the children, from toddlers to teenagers. The potential for the future, that having seen it and been a part of it, a memory they will never forget, that they might some day grow into heroes in their own right. Many proudly holding signs of their own making or that were made for them, signs identifying them as the unions thugs the corrupt governor warned everyone about or as the union slobs an irrational Republican senator had called all protesters.
There were Republicans themselves in the crowd, holding up signs saying how sorry they were for voting for the corrupt governor and how they would support a recall.
It gives one hope, but like Red told Andy Dufresne, "Hope is a dangerous thing."
Holes in my Head
--March 8, 2011
If you were a crazy person saying crazy things like the earth is flat or drilling a hole in a person's head would cure them by letting out the evil spirits, the press wouldn't follow you around and report on every word you said. Even if you were a scientist or a doctor, if what you were saying was patently false or disproven, you'd be laughed off. So, how come Governor Walker and his Republican running dogs get rapt media attention when they continue to insist their draconian budget cuts will be effective in fixing any of the state's fiscal woes.
Walker has yet to respond to the mounting evidence disproving and undercutting every facet of his budget. Members of the media who are allowed to get close enough are too savvy or too scared to ask him to substantiate his claims. Yet, the same media will report on the preponderance of evidence as if presenting the other side of an argument, similar to saying 99% of patients with holes drilled in their heads die despite being rid of the evil spirits. This just in, "Governor refuses to back down, insists drilling holes in heads will solve the problem." The Governor added, over the sound of a revving drill, "Those shirking Democrats should just come back and do their jobs."
The hardest to figure are his Republican colleagues. They have to be worried about the hole he's digging for them. It's clear from his comments about being "outside of government" and his delusions of grandeur that he is a part-timer like Sarah Palin. When do they start trying to climb out, because after the budget goes through, all the positive reaction from the "public employee" hating will begin to fade, but the animosity of the 65% of the state which deplored his underhanded tactics and blatant cruelty will never fade.
My father always said I acted like I had holes in my head, one more can't hurt a thing.
What if the Governor Had Been a Democrat?
by Lenny Woodson
(It's been so long since we had one in Wisconsin, Lenny is going on distant memory. Don't even bother suggesting Doyle was a true Democrat.)
Here in Wisconsin a right-wing radio personality was trying to cover for Walker's faux phone call faux pas by suggesting how much worse it would have been if a Democrat had been in the Governor's seat.
Really? How horrible could that have gone? Isn't that about the place where the two parties diverge? The Republicans want to hurt everyone but the rich and the Democrats want to help as many people as they can while trying to be fair to all.
Let's say there was a couple of rich Democrat brothers who wanted to pour in a bunch of money to influence local governments. A stretch for sure, but let's play along. Let's call them the Good brothers (Soros is a right wing cliché by now).
Brother David Good gets the Dem Governor on the phone:
"Governor, how's it going? How can we help? You know, the quickest way to fix this budget crisis is to bring the tax rate on corporations back up to what it was before the Reagan Administration messed with the economy in this country."
Dem Gov: "Raising taxes is never a popular move."
Good: "Nonsense. The average citizen doesn't care if rich corporations pay their fair share. People want quality government services. They expect the streets to be plowed and the garbage picked up. They want their schools to be exemplary, so it wouldn't hurt to reduce class sizes and increase state aid to public schools either."
Gov: "That could be hard to do in these difficult times, David."
Good: Now listen, you have to be strong on this. You may have to raise taxes on the obscenely rich like me and my brother. Hell, we're so rich, we wouldn't even notice a tiny percentage. Here's another idea. Do what Roosevelt did, put those unemployed people to work. Fix the bridges and dams that are crumbling in your state. Build some green energy. Use your imagination, man.
Gov: "Those sound like great ideas, but how do we sell them?"
Good: Go on Morning Joe. That Mika Brzezinski, she's a real piece of ass."
Gov: Oh yeah.
(Come on, it's a democrat governor. What did you expect?)
Good: And get those hobos some suits! Nobody wants to see those guys living down there under that bridge wearing those rags.
Walker Talks to a billionaire donor: Not just another Face in the Crowd
-- February 25, 2011
There is a classic movie entitled Face in the Crowd starring Andy Griffith where he plays a homespun storyteller and country singer who rises to national fame with cracker barrel wisdom and a conniving pandering which allows him to influence his audience on everything from products to politics. He uses his fame and everyone around him to build his power and wealth. Not to give too much away, but he is exposed when someone leaves the microphone on when he thinks his show is over. His true feelings about the suckers and idiots who supported him comes spewing out of him and over the airwaves.
A similar thing happened to Governor Scott Walker when his phone conversation with a man he thought was billionaire donor David Koch. In that twenty minute exchange between two voices who believed themselves to be cunning political insiders, Walker's true motives and feelings were exposed for all to hear. The truly sad part, and I believe I recognized it even in the classic Griffith movie, is that the followers never believe they are the suckers and idiots the meglomaniac is talking about.
The most telling portion of the phone tape is when Walker attempts to dissuade Koch from calling an AWOL senator because, "he's not one of us." Who exactly is "us?" Most apparently, not a Democrat, no matter how pragmatic he may be. Billionaires like Koch and governors who crush unions, give tax incentives to corporations, and take money from billionaires are definitely "us." Later in the conversation, Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe is one of "us." Given this pattern, it most assuredly implies that lowly working people, even if they vote Republican are not "us."
At the end of the conversation, the Koch brother tosses a cherry on the bribes he's already delivered by telling Walker, "once you crush these bastards, I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time."
To which, Walker replies, "All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support."
Guess what, only "us" gets to go to Cali for the good time. All other Wisconsin citizens, Democrats or Republicans, working men and women, union or not, if you aren't rich or powerful, you aren't one of "them" and you are NOT going to have a good time.
It's Not a Budget Crisis, it's a Walker Crisis
--February 24, 2011
The only thing more aggravating than politicians making claims without backing them up with facts or details is reporters filing reports without checking to see if there are any facts or details to support those claims. Case in point, the supposed budget crisis in Wisconsin.
Gov. Scott Walker claims in order to make up a 137 million shortfall in the state's budget he must eradicate public unions. Mathematically, the shortfall can be overcome by a mere $30 a year for each adult in the state, an amount that would barely register as a tax increase. In addition, Walker claims that in a depressed economy unions should not be able to exempt members from shouldering some of the sacrifice. However, being a wealthy corporation owner does exempt you from shouldering any of the burden. Corporations in the state now account for only approximately 10% of the tax base.
As protests increased in the state, Walker insisted he represented a silent majority of taxpayers who support his union busting activities. Three separate polls have shown that approximately 60% of the state's residents do not favor his attacks on unions. A national poll shows that approximately 60% of citizens across the country support collective bargaining.
Clearly, the issue is a personal one for Walker. In his own words, he identifies with Ronald Reagan, a boyhood hero whose greatest political accomplishment, according to Walker, was the dismantling of the air traffic controllers union. During his time as Milwaukee County Executive, Walker attempted to run roughshod over the unions. It saved the county a mere $52,000, but cost the county millions in settlements. He views his union-busting as a crusade which will sweep the entire country. He likes to refer to Wisconsin as the first domino.
It's all about Walker. If you look at the Budget Repair Bill, you will find that the entire document delineates ways for Walker to circumvent Wisconsin laws and administrative code to transfer all power to him or his administration. The bill allows him to:
-- cut state aid to municipalities.
-- cut all state aid to public K-12 schools. About 900 million dollars total.
-- cut all state aid to UW schools, causing a tuition hike by 26 %.
-- take 28 million from Employee Trust Fund, the pension fund, to pay the state's portion of the State Employee's medical and pension contributions until 2013.
-- give the Dept. of Health Services the ability to rewrite Medicaid policy and to use "emergency" rules to quickly make changes to overrule existing statutes.
-- sell off most of the state's power plants.
The final line of the document may as well read: "And whatever else the Governor wants to do, he can do without the approval of the legislature or the People of Wisconsin."
Last Hope for the Future of Our Democracy Dims a Little
The End of the Internet as We Know It
-- December 22, 2010
Net neutrality is a principle that says that Internet users, not Internet service providers (ISPs), should be in control. It ensures that Internet service providers can't speed up, slow down, or block Web content based on its source, ownership, or destination.
The FCC, let by Obama-appointee Julius Genachowski voted to adopt rules that will allow AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other ISPs to discriminate between sources and types of content.
Senator Al Franken commented: "The FCC's action today is simply inadequate to protect consumers or preserve the free and open Internet. I am particularly disappointed to learn that the order will not specifically ban paid prioritization, allowing big companies to pay for a fast lane on the Internet and abandoning the foundation of net neutrality. The rule also contains almost no protections for mobile broadband service, remaining silent on the blocking of content, applications, and devices."
1. The rules passed by Obama FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski create different corporate censorship rules for wired and wireless Internet, allowing big corporations like Comcast to block websites they don't like on your phone.
2. The rules passed would allow big providers like Verizon and Comcast to charge for access to the "fast lane." Big companies that could afford to pay these fees like Google or Amazon would get their websites delivered to consumers quickly, while independent newspapers, bloggers, innovators, and small businesses would see their sites languish in the slow lane.
3. The rules allow corporations to create "public" and "private" Internets. These rules would embrace a "public Internet" for regular people vs. a "private Internet" with all the new innovations for corporations who pay more -- ending the Internet as we know it and creating tiers of free speech and innovation, accessible only if you have pockets deep enough to pay off the corporations.
Ironically, if it were not for a currently comparatively free internet, everyone would have to take the corporate media''s word that the Obama Administration had "saved" net neutrality by pulling off another "miraculous compromise."
Does Obama have No Intention of Running for a Second Term?
---December 7, 2010
On September 30, 2010, on his way to a speaking engagement at UW-Madison, Obama made a surprise visit to the football team at my son's high school. As he answered questions and shook hands with every single player, coach, and manager, he was stopped in his tracks by one zealous young player who shouted, "I can't wait until I'm old enough to vote for you in two more years."
"Do you know something I don't?" Obama asked in a serious tone. "I don't believe I've made that decision yet."
At the time, I laughed the comment off as the joke of a quick wit, but the headlines in the papers these days would seem to suggest the current president's reticence at committing to another term was indeed sincere.
"Bi-partisan Deal Not Sitting Well with Democrats!"
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, "Not Sitting Well with the 98% of us not making over a quarter of a million dollars a year?"
Could it be that as a relatively young man, Obama has ambitions beyond the presidency, ambitions that require he not burn his bridges to those in that wealthy 2%?
I am not quite jaded enough yet to be persuaded that's his motive, but I am intelligent enough to have to wonder. After all, it's much harder to believe extending the tax cuts for the most wealthy could benefit the country's effort to stabilize the economy and balance the budget.
Democrats fail to convince anyone they did anything the last two years
--November 3, 2010
So, the mealy, half-assed democrats who had control of both houses, albeit a small and tentative control, refused to pursue a "too progressive" agenda for fear of not being elected again find out they can't get re-elected anyway. By trying ineffectually to compromise with the obstructionist right and to appease their own special interest groups, they soft-pedaled the agenda they were sent to Washington to enact.
They disillusioned and alienated the swing voters who got them elected overwhelmingly in the last election. The Greens who so many times before cost the Dems elections by voting for pointless third-party splinter candidates would have come out again in force if only they'd seen some meaningful movement toward emission controls or renewable energy development. Think of the swell of support from both left and right if universal health care had been pursued with tenacity or even if a public option had been included in the anemic health insurance tweak which did pass. Polling from both extremes showed the electorate supported health care reform by a 60-80% margin. If those groups in the greatest need, the unemployed, the homeless, the discriminated against women, gays, lesbians, and all the minorities had perceived some positive action, some reason to get out and vote to support the party in power, they'd still be in power.
In fact, days before the election, Obama admonished a gay and lesbian group which had been appearing with protest signs at all his rallies, "We heard your point. And as I said before, we increased AIDS funding. ... The people who will take over if we don't focus on the election, I promise you, will cut AIDS funding."
Why wasn't that the motto for the entire campaign? For all the Democratic campaigns? The question should have been, "Do you want to send the same folks back to Washington who ruined this country with eight years of W?"
Make no mistake about the fact that there is a battle going on in this country over what American democracy will look like in the future. During the last Great Depression, the tide toward what was good for the populace was able to carry the day. This time around the right wing, corporate, money hoarding elite has decade-by-decade secured more control over the process, the financing of elections, the counting of votes, the gerrymandering of districts, the coverage of the media, and the evasion of financing the government itself.
The message of these mid-term elections is simple. If you stick to your principles, work for the platform you were elected on, and fight special interests and the status quo, you may not get elected again, but if you choose to play it safe, ruffle precious few wealthy feathers, and then blame others for your ineffectiveness, you SURELY will not get re-elected. And don't call me Shirley.
Google and Verizon to Create Own Internet
--August 10, 2010
Verizon just jointly announced a proposed policy framework for net neutrality,
and it's worse than we expected.
The Google-Verizon plan would end the Internet as we know it. Right now there is only one Internet that treats everybody and all content equally. But the proposal would change all of that. And insidiously, it would effectively dismantle net neutrality while claiming to protect it.
This proposal is just the latest example of corporations trying to write the very regulations that govern their behavior. Frankly, it's just another indication that the FCC has waited too long to put appropriate protections in place for Internet consumers.
The FCC can enforce net neutrality by revisiting a Bush-era decision to deregulate broadband. By reclassifying broadband, the FCC can do everything it needs to do to protect American consumers. In fact, FCC chair Julius Genachowski announced his intentions to do this, but has backed away from this plan under pressure from the telecommunications industry.
The FCC has all the tools it needs to ensure the Internet remains a vital engine of information exchange and innovation, but it seems to lack the political will to live up to its mandate.
Sign the petition to tell the FCC to stop delaying and start acting to protect American consumers and ensure we all can rely on strong net neutrality protections:
Tell the FCC: It's up to you, not Google and Verizon, to regulate the Internet.
Utah Holding Huge Gun Permit Blowout Bonanza
-- July 6th, 2010
In 2004, Utah received about 8,000 applications for the permits. In 2009, that number had skyrocketed to 73,925.
Pass a Utah gun safety class which can be taken anywhere in the country and pay the $65.25 permit fee and you, too, can carry a handgun in at least 28 other states in addition to Utah. The prized permits is good for five years and costs $10 to renew.
Nearly half of the 241,811 permits granted by the state are now held by nonresidents, according to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification, which administers the permits.
It is, perhaps, not a surprise that the 28 states which honor Utah's crazy gun proliferation permit are predominantly red with Michigan, Florida, Vermont, and Colorado honoring only permits held by Utah residents.
“We teach passive shooting in Utah,” said State Representative Curtis Oda.
As close as can be deduced from the representative's nugget of qualification is that those people killed by a gun held under a Utah permit do not die a violent death. The passively shot bullets don't penetrate a victim's body as much as they insinuate themselves inside the wounded person and become uncooperative with the functions of the internal organs until they stop resisting.
Cushing Wins NFL Rookie of the Year Award...Again: AP Sportswriters surprise everyone with the percentage of backbones in their number -- May 12, 2010
Even though many of the voters chose not to change their vote because they were more appalled by the precedent of re-voting than the worry over female fertility drugs, and several switched to voting for Cushing for the same reason, this is a seminal step toward an era where witch hunts, accusations, and secret lab tests are disdained in favor of evaluating performance and effort.
For those who changed their votes, I can only ascribe the following: The idea that taking diuretics, female fertility drugs, or steroids of any kind could cause any player to make more tackles, more interceptions, or more sacks is so preposterous as to challenge the credibility of anyone who would propagate or support such a specious theory.
So, once again, my e-mailbox is inundated with pointed, almost accusatory demands for my donated money, time, and effort to help Obama get his watered-down healthcare package through Congress. The bill is primarily a Republican version of what started out to be a reform initiative. Why would I want my representatives to vote for that?
Obama's people are so desperate to pass this lame product they've resorted to bragging up elements of reform which are clearly not addressed in the bill and are a long shot in the reconciliation action supposedly planned for the near future like:
Ending insurance company abuses
Ending the denial of coverage to those with pre-existing conditions
Prohibiting drastically raising premiums.
Taking life-and-death decisions out of the hands of insurance companies and returning such decisions to patients and doctors.
Unfortunately, these essential reforms are not in the healthcare bill as it now stands.
On top of trying to mislead me about his lack of reform, Obama alienates me further by supporting the firing of an entire teaching staff in New Jersey who were holding students accountable for attending school and mastering the curriculum.
Yeah, I'll be quick to volunteer my money for that sort of political agenda. At this rate, Democratic Party candidates may not want Obama to campaign for them in 2010.
So, my mailbox is jammed with fundraising requests, all proclaiming the desperate notion that huge amounts of money are needed to combat the evil rightwing horde attempting to derail Obama's healthcare reform compromise.
However, after sifting through request after request, I find not a single one asking me for money to support revising the compromise to something actually resembling reform. There are no requests for my support of:
1.) Removing the provision punishing people for not paying private insurers at least 8% of their income. (Enforcement of this would surely be limited to tagging those individuals who actually had to seek medical attention. IE: the very people who needed the reform the most.)
2.) Removing restrictions on a woman's right to choose.
3.) Requiring reasonable limits on private insurers' capacity to raise fees, deny claims, and exclude those with preconditions.
4.) Allow for competition, foreign and domestic, to control exorbitant pharmaceutical costs.
5.) Including a public option or a single payer alternative.
Instead, the contention in these supposedly "blue state" fundraising requests appears to be that I need to fund the passage of the compromise merely because the conservatives are working hard to oppose it, albeit on their own grounds.
Isn't this all a bit too much like the lockstep political response we deride in the conservative base?
I believe I'll wait to re-open my pocketbook when the requesters stop treating me like the folks they want to use my money to oppose.
Passing Health Care Reform Legislation which is harmful and ineffectual just to say you did it is worse than not doing it at all -- Dec. 16, 2009
“Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill.” -- Howard Dean
"The fundamental failing of the newest Senate proposal is that it requires individuals to purchase health insurance, but does nothing to rein in what insurance companies charge. If it's a choice between this bill and no bill, we're better off with no bill at this time." -- numerous sources, and the opinion of anyone who's read the bill
"When urging its passage
today, President Obama said two things that are manifestly untrue. He says that
the bill fulfills all of the promises he made in his September speech before a
joint session of Congress, but it doesn’t.
What the President said in September: They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime.
A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer, prompting a rebuke from patient advocates.
President Obama also said that “whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce cost for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill.” Not true either. Instead, the “bend” comes from taxing middle class insurance benefits, which makes them worse. -- Jane Hamsher, http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2009/12/15/kill-the-senate-bill/
"The harm this bill will do
thanks to the excise tax on employer-provided insurance benefits is enormous.
The health care bill is designed with the goal of making millions of middle
class Americans’ health insurance coverage much worse. That is not a bug, it is
The excise tax is meant to force your employer to cut back your insurance benefits, reduce your coverage, and increase your co-pays and deductibles. This is not the conclusion of partisan think tanks, bloggers, or activists, this is the conclusion of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)." --Senate Health Care Legislation: Making Your Insurance Worse – By Design, Jon Walker, http://firedoglake.com/
"Okay, fine, so single-payer is off the table, no use continuing to whine about that, even though it’s the obvious solution to all of the biggest problems and congressional aides in private admit this." --Health Care For Almost One-Third of Everyone (Who is Left-Handed and Over 50)!, Matt Taibbi http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/
"Single-payer national health care - popular and practical, just and necessary - remains the essence of genuine health care reform."
--Andrew D. Coates, assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at Albany Medical College, practicing physician, and a member of the board of directors of Physicians for a National Health Program.
"I think at the end of the day, the only way you're going to provide comprehensive universal health care to all is with a Medicare single-payer system, which ends hundreds of billions of bureaucracy and waste engendered by the private insurance companies." --Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
God, Guns, and selective parts of the Gospel
--June 26, 2009
A Louisville church is scheduled to celebrate the 4th of July season with a "Bring-Your-Gun-to-Church Day" which will include a $1 raffle of a handgun, shooting practice, and a picnic.
“God and guns were part of the foundation of this country,” said Mike Pagano, 49, the pastor of the Assembly of God church. “I don’t see any contradiction in this."
Of the 40 states with right-to-carry laws, 20 allow guns in churches.
On March 8, 2009, Pastor Fred Winters of the First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois, was shot while at the pulpit.
“When someone from within the church tells me that being a Christian and having firearms are contradictions, that they’re incompatible with the Gospel — baloney,” Pastor Pagano said.
On July 27, 2008, Jim David Adkisson fired a shotgun on a youth musical, killing two and wounding seven at a Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“I don’t understand how any minister familiar with the Bible can do this,” offered a dissenting pastor. “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Go ahead, make my day.’ ”
On March 12, 2005, a man opened fire on the services of the Living Church of God in Milwaukee, killing seven.
"And don't start comparing us to those crazy Islams with their prayer rugs and their machine guns," said one parishioner who claimed to be a carrying concealed. "This here is a civilized religion. If you find 72 virgins in our heaven, you won't be allowed to do nothing to 'em."
On September 16, 1999, a man unloaded three magazines from a semi-automatic handgun killing seven and wounding another seven before turning the weapon on himself at the Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
"Listen here now, if Jesus'd had a gun, maybe he wouldn't've been crucified."
Iranians to ask U.S. Supreme Court to choose President
-- June 22, 2009
With demonstrations against the election results continuing in the streets of Tehran, Iran was looking for a solution to the problem of a corrupt election.
The United States, a country with a record of two consecutive suspect elections to decide its leader, before its most recent election ended in a landslide, seemed to be a logical place to turn for a solution.
How did the U.S. manage to keep it's citizens mollified despite oppressive campaign tactics and obvious voting irregularities? The country had its Supreme Court decide the election even though the votes clearly elected the candidate who did not become President.
That sounds really good to Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and incumbent and apparent election loser, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
" We don't got no hanging chads," scoffed an Iranian election official. "All we got is three million extra votes in the precincts favoring Ahmadinejad."
Bush Administration Wins Most Inept Award
--March 25, 2009
The National Academy of Presidential Scholars voted to catapult the Bush Administration to the inauspicious depths of Most Inept Administration in U.S. history.
The august assembly voted overwhelmingly to install the recent administration below the likes of the Harding, Grant, and Hoover administrations.
The scholarly group cited recent information that every agency in the Bush cabinet was corrupted, gutted, neglected or suppressed.
--Labor Agency Failing Workers, Report Says
--EPA to begin reviewing permits and tracking industry emissions again
--FDA to reinstate food inspections
--Energy Department to work on energy rather than subverting scientific reports
In an unprecedented move, the meeting of the scholars was adjourned indefinitely.
Bush Administration 11th Hour Auctions Sell Off Much of the Country
-- Feb. 4, 2009
In a news conference, Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar said that he concluded the Bush administration had “rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases at the doorstep of some of our greatest national icons, some of our nation’s most treasured landscapes” without proper scientific review or consultation.
The Secretary's office was also looking into allegations that a bidding war took place between Denny's and IHOP for the last remaining eagle eggs to be used for All American Omelets.
There was compelling evidence, but no confirmation as of Wednesday that the rights to license a new National Anthem came down to a sealed bid affair between Simon Cowell and David Archuleta's father.
Other unverfied, but seemingly plausible stories had Donald Trump winning a bid on the lease of Guam and the Catholic Church ponying up a huge bid for the country's first born male children beginning in 2009.