Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Republicans Are Good For ONE Thing

31 December 2012

It’s sad that the national Republicans, who are more loyal to Grover Norquist than the American people, can only agree to consistent rhetoric to deflect the blame for their intransigence.

They like to say stuff like “Obama isn’t showing leadership”, or “the Democrats don’t have any plan”, when between the extreme use of filibuster in the Senate, or Tea Party extremists in the House, they are continuing their Just Say No platform.

Let’s remember who trashed the economy – REPUBLICANS. Now they want to levy tax increases on the entire country, to protect high-income people; the 98% being held hostage for the 2%.

So the one thing you can count on Republicans for: saying NO. They are not governing.

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Some Follow-Up Thoughts, Thanks To The NRA

21 December 2012

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA called a “news conference” today (where he took no questions). He blamed mass shootings on mental illness, media coverage, and “gun-free” zones. He also called for armed guards at schools.

Even though some commentators dismissed the call for armed guards, some citing the possibility of kids and faculty getting caught in crossfire, I think that placing guards in schools is a good idea. I also think that implementing point hardening of schools is a good idea. Some high schools already have security officers.

In general, I think NRA President LaPierre is probably a little nuts. He has claimed repeatedly that Obama has some secret plan to eliminate all firearms (while providing no evidence to back up these wild-eyed claims; where I come from, that’s called “bullshit”).

LaPierre said “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. Factually, this isn’t really true. You can deny the bad guy a gun, maybe. You layer your defenses to minimize the ability of the bad guy to arm himself, to get to where he wants to attack, and to get into the place.

It would obviously cost significant money to implement and maintain guards and security measures. Maybe weapons and ammo could be taxed to raise the money for the guards and hardening.

Regardless, as I’ve said before, I don’t think that it is possible in a free society to be completely free of the risk of attack. Bad guys have used guns, edged weapons, cars, airplanes, and explosives at various times. Our freedom of movement means freedom of attack as well.

“Gun Control”, A Couple Thoughts

21 December 2012

There has obviously been a lot of talk about guns this past week after the horrible killings in Newtown.

I don’t think “gun control” can be terribly effective. There are already millions of “assault weapons” already in circulation. Banning any more sales of them, even if they can be defined as such legally, would prevent few events like Newtown.

Better screening of gun purchasers may not be effective either. It’s been reported that the Newtown criminal took weapons legally owned by his mother. Maybe she should have had them locked up.

Many of the mass killings over the past decade have been done with handguns. No mention of controlling handgun purchases has been made that I have heard from.

It has been reported that the US will not allow pyschiatric records to be added to the gun purchaser background check system. I have not verified this, but it seems like this would be a major disconnect.

It was reported on NPR today (“Fresh Air”) that the BATF is enjoined by law from releasing records they have been collecting for years that correlate gun type with crimes committed. This was supposedly done at the behest of the NRA. If true, to me it’s indirect evidence that the NRA can’t stand the answers to questions that haven’t been asked. In a related vein, it was also reported the Centers for Disease Control are prevented by law from any research related to firearms, for much the same reason. To me, using law to prevent research or data collection on a right that is part of the Bill of Rights is wrong – what about collecting research about the 1st Amendment, like how many people actually go to church? If gun rights supporters are trying to block that sort of stuff, then they probably think the data would look bad for them.

Some Republicans Sure Are Weird About the UN

6 December 2012

I was highly amused at the doofus Republicans that ranted about the “UN election monitors” during the last election. I pointed out to several of them that I know personally that the UN hasn’t done election monitoring since 1978, and that under a treaty signed by (I think) Ronald Reagan, election monitoring is done by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). They uniformly didn’t have a clue. I heard Jay Sekulow of the “ACLJ” ranting about this prior to the election, he kept foaming about the “UN!!!!!”. I sent an email to Sekulow, but never got a response, or heard him correct himself.

So the UN popped up again in the vote in the US Senate on the vote for the US to ratify the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This treaty is based on the US ADA. Some righties like Rick Santorum, and a number of US Senators, just lost their collective mind, and came up with “reasons” why the UN might dictate the fate of a child with disabilities, and others thought (and I use that term loosely) that somehow the treaty would affect parents who homeschool their kids.

Rational people in the Senate tried to dispel these weird notions, but stupid is as stupid does, and the treaty ratification failed since a 2/3rds approval is needed.

I’m amazed that people who hold these bizzare views can get elected.

Republicans Should Listen to Steve Schmidt

11 November 2012

The election this past week is obviously under serious discussion. I am listening to Meet The Press right now, and that’s the topic.

Steve Schmidt is a Republican who runs campaigns and helps chart out his party’s way ahead. I’ve heard him speak on many programs over the years, and he generally makes a lot of sense. Mr. Schmidt is to me an example of the kind of Republican Party that I used to be a member of.

While there is a lot of talk the past week about how Republicans need to get more Latinos to vote for them, that talk is missing the point (I note that there is no talk about getting our African American citizens to vote more Republican). The real reason that Republicans are on the way to being non-relevant is the same reason that I moved from Republican to moderate (and that effectively means voting Democrat since there really are no other viable alternatives in the Green or Libertarian). That reason is that Republicans have largely become a party driven by religion instead of economic issues. And of course that means domination by Christianity. Many of those that slavishly follow the Christian tradition are in favor of subjugation or suppression of women, and forcing their religious law on the rest of us (enshrining homophobia in law, among other things). When you combine that with the Republican embrace of trickle-down economics, which does nothing but transfer wealth from the middle class to business and the rich, you have the Republican Party being truly the party of the top 5% economically, and the 10% most fanatic Christians.

So trying to modify their message to get a couple more Hispanics just won’t work. The Republican Party must modify the dependence they have on evangelical Christians, and to be more inclusive economically. Steve Schmidt is the only Republican I have heard say anything like that. There have been Democrats talking about that (and one, Rachel Maddow, even said to the effect that it was OK with her if Republicans didn’t pick up on what she was saying).

I’ve listened to several Republicans say to look at 2010 as a model. I think that is an outlier, in that if the Democrats in particular and President Obama had been a bit more hands-on, that election results would have been far better for the Democrats.

It doesn’t help that, as Jon Stewart put it, Romney won the Presidency of the Confederacy. The block of Americans that vote against their own economic interests by voting Republican, largely due to antipathy towards the Democrats, because of the Civil Rights Act is pretty damn sad.

So it could go a couple ways over the next two years. If President Obama continues to reach out to Republicans (which he has done repeatedly, in spite of getting no help, and regardless of Republican claims to the contrary), and the Republicans work with him, then in all likelihood we will continue with something like the current balance of power between the Executive and Legislative for a while. If the Republicans will not work with the President, then I think they will lose the House in 2014, and the Democrats will likely gain a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

The Republicans going moderate would be good for the country regardless. Both parties are supposed to represent all Americans. Right now that is sort of unbalanced.

President Obama Wins Re-Election

7 November 2012

I am pleased that President Obama has been projected to win re-election tonight.

For the record, I do not agree with everything that the President has tried to do (most of it, though). There are other things that I wish he would do (get rid of the so-called PATRIOT Act, for one). There are other things I wish he had been able to accomplish, but couldn’t (single-payer national health insurance, closing the American Gulag in Cuba).

I’m sort of surprised that the election isn’t all *that* close, electorally speaking. As I write, he has 284 Electoral College votes, with several large states like Florida still being counted. That surprise is due to the following things that hampered his re-election campaign.

  • The crappy economy that Obama inherited was directly caused about 75% by Republican economic policies, and 25% by the 9/11 attack. OK, so Bush and company can’t be blamed for the attack. But they are directly responsible for the rest. And the Republican strategy of blaming the economy they trashed on the incoming President is perhaps not unexpected, but it is disappointing that so many “fiscal conservatives” don’t hold their own party accountable for the huge spending they racked up with wars and tax cuts. Instead, I grew so tired of people I know blaming Obama for their parties excesses, then complaining about the “blame game”.
  • Related to the economy as a whole is employment. The crappy Bush Republican economy trashed jobs horribly. Now the job losses are pretty much regained, but there are more that need to be created to ensure employment for people that have entered the work force in the past four to six years, and to get those “discouraged” or under-employed people back to work.
  • Voter suppression this time around had to have some impact. We need a national standard for elections. First of all (see the related blog posts), consistent voting processes in terms of the methods used to count votes. The way we do it in Oklahoma are an excellent model for the rest of the country. Second, we need consistent voting periods. I think that starting voting the Tuesday before Election Day, even if it is only at one or two places in a county, is a good way to go. If people insist on voter ID, then the state MUST provide the ID free, and based on reasonable documentation (a person who has been living at the same place for five years is not a likely illegal voter). Last, the top person responsible for voting in a state (typically the Secretary of State) must be nonpartisan. SecStates in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the Governor in Florida, were acting in blatantly partisan manners. Toss ’em from office to start. They messed with our basic right to vote. They do not deserve to be in office.
  • The influence of outside huge money to carpet-bomb candidates has proven to be ineffective. The Karl Rove organization and the like has reportedly spent upwards of $500M! I am glad that the infusion of cash, much of which is scurrilous, and little of which can be attributed to a person, didn’t work. I have written before about seeing these ads in Colorado and Virginia, and on national TV. Most of them are attack ads, and they are untruthful or mis-directing. I saw those ads as late as this morning.
  • The Romney campaign, and the Republican machine, has been largely lying. As I have said before, I don’t consider a mis-statement to be a lie, or a policy statement. For example, one of Romney’s consistent statements is that the Obama Administration has been a failure. It’s not true, actually or logically. But the Romney campaign repeatedly lied about positions that the Obama campaign took, things that Obama did, and even Romney’s own positions on things. To make it worse, Romney made secrecy a primary part of his campaign, refusing to release traditionally released information such as his tax returns and business holdings, and his campaign bundlers. Romney also made extravagant promises that were backed up with zero implementation details, such as how he would make his plan revenue neutral, when he promised a 20% across the board tax cut, but had no details about what loopholes would be closed, alternative revenue raised, or programs or services cut.
  • There seems to be a basic problem in that Republicans do not think that Democrats are a legitimate governing authority. There was a constant drumbeat against Obama from Day 1, all baseless. And Republican leadership never really came out and condemned the bullcrap; my guess is that they figured that any way that Obama could be possibly hurt politically was OK with them (and they are spineless, un-American cowards for acting that way). The “birther” idiocy comes to mind here, as does the consistent stream of “he’s not an American”, “he doesn’t understand America/business/democracy/WTFE”, the hysterical claims that he was going to take away guns.
  • So the Obama campaign succeeded. But after the re-inauguration, there are still the problems with the Republican-controlled House not playing at all, and the Senate Republicans with the constant filibuster. We still might have effective gridlock for the next couple years. But eventually, the Republicans are going to have to work with the Democrats, not matter what they think of Obama and the Democrats.

    There were other votes tonight that are significant. I’ve seen it reported that marriage equality won in four states. Also that recreational marijuana use was legalized in Colorado. There were several Senate races that went Democrat. The House makeup won’t change much. One interesting thing, the Republican-backed “overseer” law in Michigan looks to be headed to defeat, good news for voting rights and liberty there.

    Voting Machines And Election Risk

    7 November 2012

    I have written about this topic before, and it bears some more discussion no matter how the elections today turn out.

    Voting machines that do not produce a paper trail, and do not have their software and hardware reviewed by independent experts, are a menace to our country.

    There have been numerous anecdotes during this election day of electronic voting machines not recording votes properly. As I have said before, any voting machine that is not subject to formal, independent inspection of the source code, and testing, should not be used for a public election in any way.

    No voting machine should be connected to a network while being used operationally. The risk of an external connection being used to penetrate the machine during voting is just too high. I could understand connecting to the machine at the conclusion of voting to download results using a laptop or other handheld device under the control of an elections official. A truly local LAN being used would be OK as well, just don’t have any external telecom connections.

    Any voting should have a paper or other nonvolatile backup. The system we use in Oklahoma is a good example here; a paper ballot that is electronically scanned and counted; the paper ballot is retained and can be used as an audit.

    Machines should be owned by the local election board or equivalent. If maintenance needs to be performed, then the people doing it need to be essentially “cleared”, then the machine checked by an independent expert again.

    Paperless elections are right out. If a mostly-paperless solution is insisted on (like touchscreen voting), then a paper receipt must be provided to the voter.

    Laws should be promulgated to ensure these safeguards are in place all across the nations. The security of our national, state, and local elections demand no less.

    Why I Am Voting To Re-Elect President Obama

    31 October 2012

    I am voting to re-elect President Obama to a second term as President of the United States. Here is why.

    The Case For The Imcumbent

    President Obama was handed a terrible economic situation. He continued a stimulus program, and targeted critical American industry to minimize the economic damage. He kept his promises to get the US out of the useless war in Iraq. He is keeping his promise to get us out of Afghanistan, where we have no vital interests. His economic policies first slowed, the reversed the loss of jobs that the economic downturn caused. He worked through a massive overhaul of insurance company practices (not health care as is claimed by hysterical conservatives). He has not lied during his re-election campaign. The President spearheaded removal of the odious Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and allowed our gay citizens to serve in the military with the honor they deserve. No one can say that Obama isn’t strongly continuing the war on terrorists. His defense budgets have increased every year (although somehow, Republicans have screamed that Obama is “gutting” the military).

    The case is not all positive. The American Gulag at Guantanamo Bay is still open. Terrorist suspects are still to be tried there instead of in accordance with American law. Many parts of the horribly-named “PATRIOT Act” are still in place. The horrid so-called Defense of Marriage Act is still in place, but isn’t being defended by the Administration. We haven’t had legislative changes to encourage companies to move jobs back to the United States from places like China.

    The Case for The Challenger

    A Romney Presidency will certainly roll back many things that should not be rolled back, including ObamaCare, cutting of good programs, keeping low taxes for the rich, and balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and middle class. Worse, Romney picks for the Supreme Court will be a disaster for the public.

    His economic policy is exactly the same as Reagan and both Bushes: trickle down. Trickle down does not work. It transfers wealth from the poor and middle class to business and the rich. Romney refuses to define what his exact policy will be. He and running mate Ryan talked a lot about a 20% across the board tax cut, say it will be revenue neutral, but will not define what cuts must be made to accomplish that revenue-neutral concept. In fact, he even denied that he supported a $5T tax cut, even though any reputable economist could calculate that.

    Speaking of which, Romney is a serial liar. If you don’t like that word, he’s a flip flopper. Republicans were quick and frequent to say John Kerry was not qualified to be President due to alleged flip flopping. Why is a serial liar like Romney qualified, Republicans? He has changed position on abortion, gun control, universal health insurance. He supports cutting Medicare and replacing it with a voucher program. Even now, he has refused to meet with reporters or answer questions.

    Other Factors: The Republican Party

    I am planning on voting Democrat all the way downballot, for only the second time in my life. All of the elected officials that represent my areas (they certainly do not represent me), to include James Lankford, Mary Fallin, James Inhoff, and Tom Coburn, are every single one conservatives first, Republicans second, and Oklahomans and Americans a distant third. They listen to party first, or maybe industry, and people far second.

    The national Republican party has truly been an active menace to the economy. They have not participated in the process of lawmaking. Their policies are not rooted in any kind of reality, but in the fantasy of the tea party. They caused the country to have a credit rating downgrade. Their tax cuts only policy, while only cutting from critical social programs, is cruel.

    The Republican Party has shown the worst disrespect for the President of the United States. They have given the wink-and-nod treatment to the “birthers”. They have declared implacable opposition to the President, to the detriment of the entire country.

    Republicans, who claim to be a party of freedom, have been in the forefront of voting suppression. This is a strike at the very heart of our voting freedom.

    The Republican Party of 2012 is not the loyal opposition. They are a rabid, biting zombie that can’t die off fast enough.

    The Bottom Line

    I will be proud to cast my vote for President Barack Hussein Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden, for 2012.

    SCOTUS And Oklahoma “Personhood”

    30 October 2012

    The SCOTUS let stand the Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidation of the Oklahoma “Personhood” law, which would have granted a fertilized human egg the full rights of a newborn baby.

    I’m glad the court made that decision.

    This law, of course, was a backdoor way to ban abortion.  It was an effort by no-compromise anti-abortion people.

    It is not reasonable to say life begins at conception.  I think that reasonable people could find a point, between the detection of organized brain activity, and a point where a fetus could survive outside the mother, taking into account the health of the mother, after which abortion could be prohibited.

    Elective abortion due to rape or incest must be allowed.

    So there has to be compromise on this issue between the ban always forces, and the right up to the moment of labor forces.  I’m not confident that will happen any time soon.

    But I am glad the SCOTUS was reasonable in this case.

    Benghazi and Obama

    30 October 2012

    Facebook is a good reflection of the mood of a group of people, I think.

    It’s got one block of conservative opinion right now that us positively poisonous.  I’m seeing a number of posts, which are cookie-cutter reposts, that excoriate President Obama for the situation in Benghazi during the attack on our facility there.

    Only a fool would believe that the President can control events anywhere in the world.  Yet there is a claim that is reposted time and again that Obama should have anticipated and headed off the attack.  Rubbish.  Ever more scurrilous screeds claim that Obama was watching the attack in real time from a drone.  No proof of that is ever produced (SecDef said that’s not true, on CNN).  There are claims made that one if the security officers there was ordered to not defend the place.  No proof again.  It’s disgusting that people who hate Obama would use the bravery of that man, combined with a lie.  There were posts today that Obama was wrong to cancel campaign appearances today due to Hurricane Sandy, and didn’t while the Benghazi attack was going on. I’ve read one deranged guy who thinks that Obama actually ordered the attack.

    I think that this crazed talk is being spewed for one reason:  conservatives have NOTHING else.  Their national campaign is based on a combination of lies and vague promises. 

    30 October 2012, 2022 update:

    There is another round of criticism going on now. The claim is that Obama stopped campaigning for Hurricane Sandy, but didn’t care enough about the four slain State Department people to stop campaigning. So I have to ask those people: you claim to care about the four Americans killed, based on the “fact” that Obama is lying about what happened and what was not done. But let me ask you this: It is indisputable that the Bush Administration was completely wrong about the several reasons that were given for invading Iraq (WMD for one); investigation has shown that it is extereme likely that the Bush Administration knew there were no WMD. If that’s the case, the Bush Administration LIED about going to war there, and it cost THOUSANDS of AMERICAN lives! Where is your outrage about THAT? Oh, it was a Republican then, so that made it OK? Hypocritical. Oh, and all that debt you think Obama piled up? The war in Iraq was not paid for either; it was put on the national debt. Where is your outrage about that also? How many wars has Obama put on the national credit card? The hatred directed towards Barack Obama is totally unjustified, and hypocritical to boot.

    A Couple Political Things From This Week

    7 October 2012

    I watched the debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney this week. I was disappointed that the President didn’t call out Romney for all the BS. I’ve said before, you can disagree with what Obama is doing, but he just doesn’t out and out lie. Romney had one line that was clearly a “zinger” he was trying to get in: “Mr. President, Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.”. I guess he thought he was being exceedingly clever here, but he repeatedly lied about the tax cuts he is proposing, the welfare work requirement, the “cuts” to Medicare, the AHCA advisory panel, and a host of other items. For being such a pious guy, he sure forgets the Commandment about bearing false witness. A lot. I guess getting elected is more important to him than truth.

    The employment report showed that the unemployment rate has dropped below 8%. That’s great, and the trend is still headed downward. Various righties immediately howled that somehow the all-powerful Obama had fudged the numbers somehow (never mind that if you look at the trend, it was due). What really pisses me off is that there has been very little accountability for the Republicans in Congress, for whom I think a case could be made that they have actively hindered the economy, by filibuster in the Senate, and refusal to hear and party-line votes in the House.

    It looks like Obama has a decent chance of re-election, and that is good for the country, and the middle class in particular. I hope that there are gains in the House and Senate also.

    Democracy!

    6 September 2012

    I’m in Largo, FL. As I drove to dinner, I saw this:

    On the right center, there is a blue sign – it’s the sign for Obama for America headquarters here. The line is people lined up to register to vote. The line stretches down the front of the building, around the corner to the south, then to the next road down, and back west two more blocks!

    After I left dinner about an hour later, the line had dropped some, but was still a block long in back of the building.

    This makes me proud to be American. These people were lined up, probably a lot after work, in 90F temps and some humidity, to get registered to exercise a basic right (and responsibility). I estimate there were 300+ people in line. I hope they all vote after registering.

    Republicans Lies and False Equivalency

    1 September 2012

    I was working around the house Thursday evening and forgot to tune into the Romney nomination acceptance speech until near the end. The disturbing thing was that in the short time I listened, I heard no policy statements, specific or otherwise, but I heard six big lies. Here they are:

  • The President raised taxes on the middle class. Nope.
  • The President has no jobs plan. BS. The President has submitted a number of jobs plans. One was actually passed: the stimulus bill. The others have been bottled up either by Senate filibuster or not being heard in the House.
  • The President attacks success. This is wrong on a number of levels. A lot of the “success” accomplished by the “successful” is due to laws written by Republicans or regulations relaxed by Republicans, transferring wealth from the lower and middle classes up. Reference the income drop graph I have published here, or the bank and investment deregulation results.
  • The policies of the President haven’t increased jobs. The facts are (again, see the chart I’ve published here) that the policies of the President have added many jobs to the economy, even though the number of jobs haven’t fully risen to the level we had during the Clinton years. What Romney neglected to mention is that many of the jobs lost were due to (a) Republican tax credits enacted to encourage companies to offshore American jobs, and (b) the housing and bank crashes, which were due mainly to deregulation under Bush.
  • The President has cut the military. This is wrong on two fronts. First, the DoD budget has increased each year since the President was inaugurated; that doesn’t sound like a cut. Second, the DoD budget for the next year is scheduled to increase again, unless the mandatory across-the-board reductions take place under the sequestration process. The sequestration process was put in place by both Republicans and Democrats working with the President. So, even if sequestration kicks in, the cuts to the DoD budget are the responsibility of both parties and two of three Branches of government.
  • The President cut Medicare benefits to seniors. Never mind that Romneys VP Ryan cut the same amount. Or that the Presidents cuts were to overpayments to insurance companies and hospitals, and through fraud prevention. Or that Ryans cuts cost seniors in a couple years $6K (that’s six thousand dollars) in direct costs.
  • I only heard about the last 20 minutes of the speech. I’ve heard excerpts since then that included other lies, big and small.

    So I posted a general comment about this on Facebook. I got a number of responses from Republican friends that both parties do this.

    I do not think that is the case. I agree that most politicians stretch the truth, sometimes a lot. But I think there is a huge difference between stretching the truth and telling a lie repeatedly. I also know that some polits, especially under stress, misspeak. I am also not talking about people expressing their opinions about policy.

    The Romney campaign is building their entire campaign around “The President sucks” by citing big lies that are absolutely provable to be lies. There is not a basis in fact for any of the above lies – no amount of stretching truth gets you there. This are not misstatements – Romney and Ryan both repeat these, and have released ads built around the lies.

    There is no equivalency between stretching the truth (which the President has done, no question) and flat-out lying by the Republicans. Not even close.

    It’s a concerted effort. Most of the flacks I heard interviewed during the RNC repeated these, and other, lies. Most of the speakers at the RNC repeated them as well. The lies above don’t even include the huge lie that the President has removed the “welfare-to-work” requirement. I did hear that one from several of the RNC speakers. The theme of the Republican Convention was “We Built This”, which I am sure they think is very clever, but it is built on a lie – a taken-out-of-context statement from a speech the President gave.

    The media have been doing a better job at calling out and documenting these lies than I would have expected. That hasn’t bothered the Republicans. As Rachel Maddow said a year or so back when discussing Republican lies, “they aren’t embarrassed” about the lies.

    So when, Republicans, do you abandon a candidate because they lie? Really go with the Big Lies? Is defeating President Obama more important than the truth?

    Nikki Haley and Voter ID

    1 September 2012

    I missed Ms. Haleys speech at the RNC. I saw a clip of it this morning, and it was a pretty disturbing clip.

    Ms. Haleys South Carolina is one of the Republican-controlled states that implemented a voter ID law. I’ve written before as to how that is part of a concerted effort by Republicans to suppress the ability to vote by people that don’t usually vote Republican.

    In her speech, Ms. Haley said that they implemented vote ID for the same reason they implemented ID checks for people buying Sudafed and boarding an airplane.

    So she conflates minority voters with terrorists and meth makers. Really.

    I’m opposed to both the other laws for basically the same reason. Both laws are an attempt to identify all people that use the service in question so that the list of names can be perused by law enforcement to target people for investigation. That’s it. If you buy Sudafed more times than the Authorities think is appropriate, then you can expect to be visited and investigated. If your name is coincident with a known, or suspected, terrorist, then you can be denied your right to movement in your own country. Never mind that there is a vast law enforcement network focused on finding meth makers, and another one focused on finding terrorists. And that there are layered protections in place (some stupid, like the TSA naked-body machines) to keep people from getting anything vaguely dangerous on a commercial airplane. I think both laws are not Constitutional under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

    It was pointed out this morning by Mellisa Harris-Perry that there are more cases of meth making in the country than there are cases of voter fraud, which is the usual excuse given by Republicans for implementing voter ID laws. The Republicans really should be more honest and admit that suppression is what they are after.

    Ryan – No Substance, Just BS

    30 August 2012

    Paul Ryan had what I’m sure he thinks is a wonderful speech. The problem is, he wraps lies in rhetoric. He repeated the Medicare lie. And he repeated the lie that Obama is responsible for the crappy economy. A new one – he said that Obama caused an auto plant in his hometown to shut down, when the shut down occurred during the Bush Administration!

    So no substance, but constant lies.

    I watched the Huckabee speech. He also lied over and over. He’s a minister! Does he remember the commandment against bearing false witness? How about Ryan, the “good Catholic”?

    There seems to be a concerted attempt by the Republicans to bluff and bullshit their way through the election. It’s disgusting.

    Oh, Really?

    27 August 2012

    Per a USA Today article interviewing Mitt Romney, he says of Obamas campaign:

    Mitt Romney calls campaign attacks by President Obama and his allies “vituperative” and “vicious” and “absurd” and “sad.”

    This coming from a guy who won’t release his tax returns, any detail of the major changes he wants to make to long-term programs, and who just plain lies on the trail and in his ads.

    So I don’t put much stock in his claims.

    The Romney Campaign is Lower and Lower

    24 August 2012

    The comment from Romney today: “No one has asked to see my birth certificate” is telling. Republicans seem to be OK with him telling lies constantly. I’m not talking about candidates or incumbents stretching the truth, although I don’t much like that either. I’m talking about flat-out, provable lies, like the claim that Obama has eliminated the welfare-to-work requirement. Or the Medicare claims that Obama “stole” hundreds of billions of dollars. Those two are provably false claims by Romney.

    It’s a deeper problem on the Republican side. Not only are Republican policies directly responsible for the Great Recession (again, provable), and so the Republican Party is directly arrayed against vast numbers of Americans (people of color, women, the middle class), but the real problem is that Republicans do not believe that Democrats are legitimate holders of office in this country.

    This was first demonstrated after the 1992 election. Republicans were not the loyal opposition, they were opposed to anything that Clinton put forth, to the point that they spent $30M+ on trying to impeach the man for cheating on his wife (which does not even begin to get above the noise level, much less “high crimes and misdemeanors”).

    The Swift Boating of John Kerry is another example. Provably false accusations against Kerry were repeated over and over by people who, when faced with the facts, still kept on repeating the BS. A couple months ago, I had a guy I work with repeat the lies about Kerry. I pulled up Kerrys testimony from the Congressional Record and showed it to him. His response: Kerry changed the record. What can you do with someone who has such blinders on?

    After Obama won the 2008 election fair and square, the Republicans went even further. They made and implemented a plan to oppose and roadblock and disrupt every initiative that Obama tried. This goes far, far beyond simple political negotiations. They allowed the ability of the FAA to keep our air system safe to stop. They threatened to shut the government down several times. The worst thing, the actions of the Republicans caused the United States to suffer a credit rating downgrade. Imagine the hue and cry from Republicans if Democrats had done that – treason! “Death panels” are another horrible example.

    The attempt to de-legitimize Democrats is carried on in voter suppression activities. Only Republicans do this. The “birther” idiots are aided and abetted and winked at by most of the major Republicans, including Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, Romney, and many others.

    Republicans, I suspect, know their true believers are in the minority in the country. They have to convince the programmed and the gullible to vote for them, like 2010. It doesn’t help when the Democrats don’t fight back. If Republicans ran on what they really intend to do (see the bait-and-switch of Scott Walker), they will lose.

    So where are the Republicans with integrity? Is winning more important than telling the truth? Can Republicans run on their actual beliefs, and compete and win?

    I doubt we get real answers any time soon.

    The Romney-Ryan Ticket

    14 August 2012

    So Romney chose Ryan as his running mate.

    For the record, I’m still not going to vote Republican this year.

    Neither of the Republican team would make a decent President. Their combined policy is cruel to all except the very rich. I hope they lose spectacularly.

    “Welfare” Waivers

    11 August 2012

    So there has been a lot of discussion online about an ad series from Mitt Romney about how President Obama wants to end welfare-to-work programs and “just send welfare recipients a check”.

    The liberal media says Romney and his campaign and Republicans are lying. The mainstream media has not really weighed in. The right-wing media agrees with Romney.

    I went and looked at the relevant documentation. Romney is lying. Period.

    First, the law about “welfare” is called Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF). The Department of Human Services granted a request from a number of state governers to allow the states to experiment with the TANF regulations. HHS published guidance for the waiver evaluation process. The guidance is here.

    The Social Security law is where TAFN is authorized and controlled. Section 402 talks about which states are eligible for getting funds from the federal government, and requires states to submit a plan to HHS for approval of how they would administer TANF. The waiver guidance specifies that state experimentation is solely with Section 402.

    This is where the Republicans are hanging their hats about Obama “doing away with work requirements”. It’s BULLCRAP.

    First of all, the waiver guidance has this very specific language in it:

    “HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.”

    “…HHS is committed to ensuring that any demonstration projects approved under this authority will be focused on improving employment outcomes…”

    “The Secretary will not approve a waiver for an initiative that appears substantially likely to reduce access to assistance or employment for needy families.”

    Another part of this: NOTHING HAS BEEN CHANGED. The states have the opportunity to submit waiver requests, but have not yet. The language cited above is clear that the intent of the waiver requests is to increase the ability to move people from TANF to work.

    It’s pretty clear that either Romney and the Republicans are lying, or they can’t read. I’m leaning towards they are lying.

    Romney doesn’t have (to my knowledge) a plan to move people from TANF to work. Gingrich talks a lot about people on food stamps. I’ve noted numerous instances over the past couple years about Republican lies. The entire party has lost the moral authority to govern.

    The Boy Scouts and Discrimination

    9 August 2012

    The Washington Post reported today that President Obama has issued a statement that he opposes the Boy Scouts policy of not allowing gay or lesbian leaders or Scouts. The Scouts have noted the Presidents opposition, and respectfully disagreed.

    The Scouts recently completed a two-year review of their policy banning gays. I have always opposed the policy. It’s clearly discriminatory. Yes, the Boy Scouts is a private organization. Yes, they have the right to set standards. But there is nothing in being gay that reduces the effectiveness of a leader. Period.

    I think that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are great organizations that provide a sorely needed outdoor experience for kids. The Girl Scouts are not discriminatory, and there are no deleterious effects on their program (they have program issues, but those are not related to the sexuality of their volunteer leaders). Both organizations need to exercise every single opportunity to reach out to youth and leadership. Using a medieval fear of LGBT people doesn’t help bring Scouts in to the organization.

    Chik-Fil-A and Bigotry

    2 August 2012

    I think the tempest in a teacup that is Chik-Fil-A (or really, the owner of the company) being anti-gay, and the people who “appreciated” the company yesterday, is just silly posturing.

    The people who are pretty much uniformly rabidly anti-gay cafeteria christians are dying off. They freak about about a bible verse that prohibits gay sex (maybe; a verse translated badly from Aramaic to Greek to English *after* being handed down by word of mouth for generations), while more direct verses and draconian verses are ignored. These people are getting fewer in number every year.

    Equality is closer to full every day; it is inevitable.

    Birth Control and False Suppression of Religious Liberty

    2 August 2012

    Today a number of new laws and regulations took effect that provide great strides in womens health care. These were implemented by requiring insurance companies to cover things like preventative care, and in particular, coverage of birth control.

    A number of politicians (all Republican, as far as I can tell), call this an infringement of religious liberty. BULL. Republican “Representative” Mike Kelly said that this day will be remembered in the same way as 07 December or 11 September. What a load of hysterical crap. John Boehner said the new coverage is “tyranny”. Boehner has lost his last sense of proportion.

    It is shameful that insurance companies had to be forced to provide this coverage. The apoplectic yammering of people claiming that their religious liberty is being suppressed is ridiculous. Women who do not want to take advantage of these new benefits (including covered birth control) for any reason whatsoever are free to not take advantage of the benefits. But trying to deny those benefits to women are trying to control women, plain and simple. And that is contrary to American freedom.

    This Is “Citizens United”

    30 July 2012

    I’m in Boulder, CO. I turned on the news at 2300, and saw no less than six ads from the Karl Rove Crossroads GPS. Theoretically, these ads are not supporting a candidate (right…). The ads attack President Obama for the 8+% unemployment rate, the increased debt, etc.

    Now, none of these ads, like all Republican attacks, talks at all about the fact that the entire fracked up economy was created and made worse by the Republicans.

    But these ads are an example of the carpet-bombing negative ad campaigns that are a result of the SCOTUS “Citizens United” decision. It was a bad decision, and is bad for the country.

    An RNC Ad

    26 July 2012

    The Republican National Committee is running an ad against President Obama on several outlets. It basically says “President Obama promised to fix the economy, but failed. It’s OK to vote for someone else.”

    This is an example of hypocrisy at its best. The ad fails to mention:

    (1) The economic crash was caused by Republican policies.

    (2) The Republicans have a vested interest in leaving the economy in ruins, to run ads like this against the President.

    (3) The House and Senate Republicans have a policy of obstructing and blocking any economic policy that might move the country forward.

    So this is the ultimate in blame-the-incumbent for the frackups of the Republicans. They do not deserve the opportunity to govern, at pretty much any level.

    Republicans Continue to Lie

    25 July 2012

    There have been a number of instances in the past couple days where the Republicans have shown that they would rather lie than try to defend their policies.

    Romney spoke to the VFW in Las Vegas, and he repeated several of the lies that he routinely uses to describe the policies of the President. Romney made the accusation that someone in the Administration had leaked classified information and that there should be an investigation. He provided no proof, no evidence. That is a lie.

    Several Republicans took the words of the President pertaining to how most success in this country is based off of existing infrastructure, and misinterpreted them. The misinterpretation is either clueless or deliberate. If deliberate, then they are lying.

    Michele Bachmann made accusations against a senior aide to SecState Clinton based on the fact that the aide is Muslim, or has a Muslim name. Newt Gingrich jumped in to agree. Again, no evidence was presented.

    I do not think that the Republican policies can be defended, so they are just trying to sow discord by throwing any crap that they can think of. Their standard bearer is among the worst. He does not deserve to lead the country.

    Mass Murder and the 2nd Amendment

    24 July 2012

    There is some debate going on right now about what to do to try and prevent incidents like the movie theater shooting in Colorado.

    The real problem is that stuff like banning assault rifles will not work. There are already tens of millions of weapons in circulation, and are accessible readily. Since the horse is already out of the barn, “bans” and the like are not really an option.

    I think that most of the mass killings done over the past 20 or so years were done by lone wolf types that otherwise had little or no criminal record. A background check would not have kept them from purchasing weapons and ammo.

    I don’t know what the solution is. Something should be done.

    Random thoughts:

    As a matter of principle, I think that assault weapons are not really something that people need. This represents a change in my thinking over the years. This probably also applies to high-capacity clips and the purchase of thousands of rounds of ammo for stockpiling.

    The killings in Colorado are a pretty clear indication, that contrary to shrill calls to the contrary, President Obama has not and is not going after guns. I wonder when conservatives are going to come to their senses here, and admit they are wrong?

    There are two groups of extremists in the country that cause more trouble than any other: anti-abortion people, and the NRA. Both are strict domino-theory groups. No compromise.

    I recalled that Rachel Maddow noted that one of the main reasons for the gun frenzy that many people feel is to protect the citizenry from a tyrannical government. But in reality, can a citizenry armed with AK-47 type weapons compete against a tyranical government that has F-15s with smart bombs? To take the 2nd Admendment argument to it’s conclusion, the citizenry would need to be armed with SAMs and M-1 tanks. Is that reasonable? I don’t think so.

    The ACA is Upheld

    29 June 2012

    I’m glad the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld.

    From a philosophical point, I cannot justify letting insurance companies control health care. Putting profit before the health of the people of the United States is not ethical. There have been numerous studies that indicate that tens of thousands of people die every year due to lack of access to health care because they cannot get insurance.

    Although most of the talk today has been about the “individual mandate”, there are two provisions that are to me far more important. The first is prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage due to “pre-existing conditions”, and the other is the removal of lifetime caps on benefits. Both of these, in particular removal of the “pre-existing conditions” restriction, will hopefully get more people to the doctor and prevent some of those unnecessary deaths. I also think that getting seniors prescription drug benefits and included “well-senior” checkups will enhance their wellbeing.

    I would rather have seen a single-payer system that eliminated insurance, but at least the ACA is a step in the right direction.

    The NRA and “Fast And Furious”

    28 June 2012

    I do not see a valid reason for the NRA to add the Holder contempt of Congress vote results to their “2nd Amendment scorecard” for members of Congress.

    “Fast and Furious” isn’t about the 2nd Amendment in the slightest. There was no indication of gun sales restrictions anywhere. The operation was to identify thugs in Mexico.

    The President of the NRA gave a speech last Fall where he was already talking about how F&F was the Obama Administrations way to start banning firearms in the US. He has cited NO EVIDENCE of this; he was making crap up.

    Another example of conservatives not minding a bit when their own guys lie. Baldly. There is no integrity there.

    Republicans and Loyalty Oaths

    28 June 2012

    Rachel Maddow just had an interesting discussion about the use of loyalty oaths within the Republican Party.

    Seems that Mitt Romney forces have tried to use loyalty oaths to Romney to freeze out supporters of other candidates, notably Ron Paul. The Bush-Cheney campaign used loyaty oaths ever times, including one that had to be signed before admittance to a speech Cheney was giving in New Mexico during that campaign.

    The Bush-Cheney campaigns (both of them) also used a tactic of only inviting local Republican forces to campaign rallies, not the general public, while the Democrats allowed anyone to their rallies, including Bush-Cheney hecklers.

    This is part of the insular world of Republican politics. Conformity to the Party Line in all things.

    I’ve never heard of Democrat candidates or committees using this kind of loyalty oath.

    This is another example of the general differences between the parties. Democrats have a wide range of views on various topics. Republicans have a relatively few issues and generally one view acceptable.

    Thinkers generally are not welcome in Republican circles. That’s the major reason I am not a Republican any more.

    “Fast and Furious” and Republican BS

    22 June 2012

    So “Representative” Issa pushed a possible Contempt of Congress resolution on AG Holder. I don’t put a lot of stock in it. The Republicans made many demands, and some they knew or should have known (they are mostly lawyers after all, and have legal counsel for their committee) were not legal for Holder to release, by law. If Issa and his bunch of hypocrits had included Bush people, who started the operation, in their “investigation”, then they might have more credibility.

    There is a coordinated use of the “Fast and Furious” to smear false intents on the Obama Administration. A lot of right-wing commentators (Limbaugh) and news people (Fox) and polits (Issa) are claiming that the Obama Administration put “F&F” on to give themselves an excuse to ban guns. First, “F&F” was put on by the Bush Administration, so these people are lying about that. Second, not a single Republican that I have heard has cited any policy, document, or other source that could confirm the “plan” of the Obama Administration. So either they are keeping the sources secret, or the sources don’t exist. If the sources don’t exist, then many Republicans are lying. The same way Romney does.

    Conservatives: does that matter to you? If not, why?

    Mitt Romney Continues To Lie

    8 June 2012

    I guess that the Republican near-nominee just doesn’t have anything to offer voters except for horsecrap. He lies, and when called out for it, doesn’t even acknowledge it.

    Today he stated in a speech that Obama has never put forth a jobs plan. Well, anyone who refers to the famous plot showing jobs recovery since several months after Obama took office will see that something happened to reverse the jobs loss. That would be the Obama plan that he could implement for getting the economy turned around.

    There are also numerous jobs bills that Obama submitted to the Congress. These were either bottled up by the Senate Republicans, or not even heard by the House Republicans.

    What of “jobs first” Boehner? I wrote earlier about the so-called “20 jobs bills” touted by Boehner, most of which are little bills to tweak regulations. The most stupid of this is a bill that bans any regulation of dust produced by farms. This is a “jobs bill”? No way.

    There’s a lot of other stuff. Romney states as fact that Obama wants to make the government in charge of 100% of the economy. The statement is foolish and stupid, and not true. Yet Romney repeats it over and over.

    He’s been “quoting” from a book by an economist that the economist warned the Obama Administration that the stimulus would crash the economy, and so therefore Obama did it on purpose. Not true, the economist was interviewed on Rachel Maddow and he stated flat out that he never said or intended to say anything like that, and that he informed the Romney campaign. No retractions, no corrections, not even just stopping saying the lies.

    He is unworthy of the Presidency just for these reasons. The policies he supports are worse.

    Republicans: More Lies, Less Policy

    25 May 2012

    Today there were two Republicans who just flat out lied. Don’t they think anyone would notice? Mitch Daniels and Mitt Romney both said that President Obama wanted gas prices to rise and be high. Obama never said anything of the sort. Never. Not even close.

    The Republicans want to have business rule over us. They want to force their religious views on the entire country. They want to strip rights from people.

    And they lie. They lie about Obama and his citizenship. They lie and make up stuff that they claim Obama says, or many other people on the left (remember Limbaugh calling the woman a slut?).

    They have no honor whatsoever.

    President Obama and Marriage Equality Today

    9 May 2012

    The President took a leap forward today with his remarks supporting marriage equality.

    I suspect that it was “ramped up to” by the remarks of the VP and another cabinet member earlier in the week.

    Of course, supporting remarks do not implement policy. It will take his reelection, and more elections over the next couple years, to remove the blight of marriage equality bans that have been passed in many states.

    But it will happen eventually.

    Republicans Seem To Be Best At Being Anti-democratic

    27 April 2012

    Rachel Maddow has been reporting for over a year on a law, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and governor of Michigan, that allows the governor of the state to appoint an overseer for any town or city or school district that the governor decides is not financially solvent. The overseer trumps ANY elected officials. There is no recourse for this.

    The first target of this law was a small town that had public owned beach on Lake Michigan that a developer wanted for a golf course. The overseer was appointed, and among the first actons was to sell part of the towns beach park to the golf course and housing edition developer. The park was donated to the town many years ago, with the proviso that the land be free to all citizens thereafter. This did not apparently matter to the overseer, or the golf course and housing edition developer.

    Other overseers are using their dictatorial powers to break union contracts.

    Michiganers started an initiative petition to get the law put to a vote of the people. The initiative petition board in Michigan (with two each Republicans and Democrats) deadlocked 2-2 when trying to decide that a challenge to the anti-overseer petition was valid – the font size of the petition was too small. The challenge to the petition was brought by a Republican group that shares office space and phone number with a Republican consulting firm, of which one of the two Republicans on the Michigan election board is a principle. So that Republican member is attached to both the challenge to the petition, and also gets to vote on the validity of the challenge. That member didn’t see (or more likely, ignored) the blatent conflict of interest, and he voted to sustain the petition, which has so far worked to leave the overseer law in place.

    This to me is a microcosm of why the Republican/conservative movement is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Republicans are getting to be far too efficient at removing rights from the public.

    Republicans have removed rights to marriage equality. They have removed democratic rights in Michigan (and of course, other Republican-controlled states are looking to follow). They have removed many womens rights, and are continuing to remove other rights. They have removed voting rights. Republicans have been at the forefront of restricting civil liberties, and allowing law enforcement and intelligence agencies to spy on Americans.

    Republicans have been against average Americans and in favor or corporations for years, but they are increasing attacking Americans directly. No middle-class voter gains anything by voting for most any Republican. I hope that more and more Americans realize this and start to wise up.

    Looks Like The Republican Campaign Is Going To Be Truth-Light

    18 April 2012

    I wonder when Romney will start running on something he believes in. He’s been running thus far on a constant stream of “Obama’s presidency is a failure”. He repeats it in most of his stump speeches. Now, you can argue about Obama’s policies, and whether you like them or not, but the time to call his Administration a failure is sort of wishful thinking.

    Romney made comments to the NRA over the weekend. He basically claimed that Obama wants to take guns away from people:

    “We need a President who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen, and those who seek to protect their home and family,” Romney said. “President Obama has not; I will.”

    Now, certain of my relatives and a number of friends ran out after the 2008 election and before Obama was sworn in, and bought guns and ammo. The fear was that Obama was going to restrict gun sales. So nothing of the sort has happened, or even been tried. I point out to people that the ONLY President that has in fact signed any new gun rights into law at the federal level is… President Obama. Also, the federal government has not interfered in any of the new gun rights laws passed at the various states.

    So the claims by Romney and others that Obama is coming after guns in a second term is just making crap up, or in less polite circles, making up lies. They clearly cannot run on a record (economic in particular).

    And do we need to ask why, since Romney actually supported numerous gun restrictions while he was a governor, he is not being branded as a flip-flopper. After all, it was Republicans who stated that John Kerry was not suitable to be President largely because he (supposedly) changed positions on several things over his career. I guess those Republicans aren’t doing that to Romney; more hypocrisy.

    Why I Think The Republicans Will Lose This Year

    13 April 2012

    I’ve posted before that I think that the conservative message is bankrupt of good ideas for the country. Since the Republican party is pretty much 100% conservative, I think they will lose the Presidential election. I hope that they also lose the Senate.

    Three things recently have reinforced this idea. First, the Republican war on women. The howling about Hilary Rosen (a Democrat and a commentator) shows just how out of touch with reality Romney and other prominent conservatives are. Rosen never denigrated motherhood or stay-at-home moms or anything similar. Her comment pertained to how a women who has always had lots of money and could easily afford to stay home could necessarily relate the concerns of moms who also work outside the home to her husband. Immediately, a pack of right-wing commentators trying to tie President Obama to Rosen and her comments; the attempt was so thin and laughable. Mr. Romney claiming that Obama and his policies are really a war on women because 92% of the job losses, which were supposedly caused by Obama, were jobs lost by women (I saw a clip where even Fox News anchors were not believing the number). Romney and the others conveniently ignore the thousand-some laws proposed (with some passed) by the national and state legislatures, by Republicans, that are all directly aimed at restricting womens health care choices. That’s a war.

    The economy is a second front. I had a Facebook exchange recently with a couple classmates. The subject was how Obama has to stop blaming Bush for the crappy economy (my opinion on that is that the President should stop blaming Bush when conservatives stop trying to blame Obama for the economy). Most of the deficits and debt run up since 2001 is in fact the result of three things: first, the economic slowdown following 9/11 (for which Bush certainly can not be blamed), and then the huge tax cuts and wars that Bush started (and didn’t pay for; where were the Republican budget hawks then?), followed by deregulation that directly led to the housing and banking busts. Job loss from 2001 and later is 100% a Bush effect. Yes, jobs are still being lost, but after Obama came into office and got the stimulus, the job loss numbers reversed, and have been in a steady increase since then. I could make the argument that even the debt and deficits that Obama has accumulated should largely credited to Bush, since they were in response to the economic issues Bush caused.

    Finally, I hope that Obama will win on health insurance reform. Even if the SCOTUS overturns the ACA, he can campaign on the fact that he actually tried to reform insurance. He also needs to be aggressive to respond to attempts to Swift Boat him (Kerry didn’t respond, and I think that’s a large measure of why he lost).

    So the campaign will get interesting. Romney is going to have to do better than saying that the Obama Presidency has failed (not true, but he keeps repeating it). Obama needs to show some policy visions (an energy policy would be nice).

    Congressman Allen West – Delusional?

    12 April 2012

    So “Representative” Allen West of Florida thinks that “78 to 81” Democrat Members of Congress are members of the Communist Party.

    So he is either a liar or terribly confused. I’m leaning towards confused.

    Stuff Your Boss Does Not Need To Know, and Unfunded Mandates

    17 March 2012

    So in Arizona, there is a bill in the legislature that requires women who use contraception to report to their employers the fact that they use contraception, and why. What effing idiot introduced this bill? “Representative” Debbie Lasko. I can only presume she is submitting to someone else. “Rep” Lasko, why don’t you resign, and go do some missionary work somewhere? You sure as heck are not representing your constituents.

    It was pointed out on a couple news reports today that the cost for all of the rape by instrumentation laws, and the forced ultrasound laws, is paid for by the women that are being force to have the unneeded, government-mandated procedures. So not only are women being preyed on by Republican legislators and governors, they are forced to pay for the procedure out of their own pockets or insurance. The Republicans have been griping about “unfunded mandates” for years. Now here is another opportunity to show complete hypocrisy, not only forcing their religious views on women, but forcing an unfunded mandate on those same women. I would imagine that is a deliberate thing, hoping to pile on everything that they can to try and get in the way of a woman having an abortion.

    Every one of those people ought to be deeply ashamed.

    Doonesbury, and Government-Ordered Rape

    16 March 2012

    A number of newspapers that usually run the Doonesbury strip have refused to run it during the current series, which show a woman who is getting an abortion, with a doctor that is performing a Texas state mandated ultrasound. That’s too bad. The comic strips need to be run. As much light as possible needs to be thrown on these laws. They are cruel.

    I have previously written about the state government mandated “informative” procedures, otherwise and actually government mandated rape by instrumentation laws. Every one of these, to my knowledge, is being pushed by Republican-controlled legislatures and governors, in Republican Party Line Robot mode. They use the fig leaf that it is “providing information to women”. This is patent bullshit. They know it, and we know it. They are designed to humiliate, control, degrade, and intimidate women. It’s most men that are ordering this. They are cowards.

    The Republicans are small government supporters, except when it comes to bedroom activities. They railed against the Affordable Care Act, with bogus claims that it would require a government bureaucrat between patients and doctors, then write these heinous laws that require exactly that, and the legislators and governors themselves are those bureaucrats! Hypocrisy at its worst.

    This is all part of the bait and switch tactics of the Republicans in many states. They got elected, and then went wild passing laws that they did not run on.

    We will remember this upcoming November, and in all future elections.

    Republicans, Bait-and-Switch, and Women’s Rights

    9 March 2012

    I’ve written before about the bait-and-switch tactics that various Republican legislatures have used since the 2010 election. There are lots of things that the legislatures and governors have pushed that were never campaigned on, and in fact are being done instead of working on jobs or other things that would be of service to the populations of their states. Recently, Governor Walker of Wisconsin, who went after union organizing, was shown on tape today promising before the election to specifically not attack union rights.

    The fact that each legislature followed their flock like sheep is disturbing.

    But what I do not understand is how the various Republicans can think that there will be no consequences for these actions. The 2010 election would not have been the disaster it was if the Obama Administration and the national Democrats had gotton out there and fought a bit by countering the lies of the right. I *think* that the Democrats might be a little more fired up in 2012, if not just because there is a Presidential election coming up.

    But the real surprise is the many anti-women measures that the legislatures are trying to pass. The rape by instrumentation bills (AKA known as the shame women into not getting an abortion bills) were pioneered by the Oklahoma legislature back in 2010. The bill is under a judicial hold right now (a good thing), but that didn’t stop a bunch of other legislators from carrying on the attack in other places. The “debate” about contraception, the so-called “personhood” attempts, and the like are part of a broad-spectrum attempt to force a particular religious view on the rest of us.

    I wonder if the various Republicans (and a couple Democrats) think that people in general, and women in particular, will forget about this egregious set of 16th century lawmaking. I hope that the general public will recognize that the Republicans are trying to undo the rights of women (and labor members, and gays, minority voters, and other large segments of the population), and reject them all over the country.

    Contraception And Insurance and Churches

    15 February 2012

    I have tried to avoid commentary on the “issue” of religious employers being required to cover contraception.

    Just to lay out my position on this, I do not think that requiring religious employers to cover contraception under their insurance programs is an affront to religious liberty.

    I think that the political process worked on this issue like it is supposed to work. The government proposed some rules. An affected group objected. The government retreated a bit, developed a new compromise position, and then proposed that new position. Many of the objections were addressed, and now the process moves forward. Compromise: politics at work.

    Mitch McConnell and other “conservatives” have been on various programs calling this proposal an attack on religion. He was on Face the Nation blathering on about how the Obama Administration was trying to tell religious organizations how to believe. BS.

    In the first place, churches, religious orders, and the like are almost all businesses. They have tax ID numbers and the like. They are required to follow the laws that affect employment. But the key thing is, those businesses are not individuals and do not have beliefs to be violated. And just because their human employees believe one thing or another is not justification to not follow the laws of the land.

    One thing related to this. Various church people have been on media in the past two weeks going on about how requiring their organization to cover contraception was a fundamental violation of their church tenets that the Obama Administration is trying to force down their throats. Now, I would object mightily if that were the case. Most or all of the objections I have heard have been from Christians. But what are really the fundamental tenets of Christianity? It is a belief in Jesus Christ and the Trinity of God. Nothing in the contraception requirements violates any of those basic beliefs. I do not think that contraception is directly addressed in any bible or holy book. Yes, I know all about “go forth and multiply” and the like, but there is no statement that directly forbids contraception. I do not buy indirect arguments like “life begins at conception or even before, so we must protect the ability of any egg or sperm to get together”.

    If churches are allowed to refuse to follow the law in employee actions, it seems to me that those churches would be allowed to follow any other church law or edict that they would like, regardless as to whether it runs afoul of the law the rest of us follow. To take this to a ridiculous (maybe…) example, if it is abomination to wear clothing made of different fabrics, then if you are an employee of a church then they could publish a rule that allows them to execute you for wearing pants made of cotton and a shirt made of hemp. After all, abominatation is punishable by death, right? In a less silly vein, a church could ban a woman from coming to work if she has her period (she’s unclean according to the Old Testament).

    So this is, at the bottom line, a political issue, and an issue of fairness. The government makes laws and those are enabled by rules, and as long as those rules do not violate the Constitution, and they are applied consistently, then that’s it. Requiring businesses to consistently cover all employees contraception costs is both a good idea, and applied fairly, and to top it off, does not violate freedom of religion (businesses are not people and can not and do not have religious beliefs). And for that matter, these laws are already in effect in many states without the various religious employers having too much to say about it; I wonder why that wasn’t the subject of such outrage for years?

    Hooray for Washington State

    14 February 2012

    So the Governor of Washington state signed into law legislation authorizing marriage equality in that state. Good for them! That’s one more state in the march towards truly equal rights for all.

    Big Oil Propaganda, Doubling Down

    2 February 2012

    I posted a while back about a series of Big Oil ads being used to influence public opinion. I’ve noticed a couple new ones.

    In one, the spokesperson includes a phrase about “Canadian oil sands” in the ad. They also claim that this will produce “one million” American jobs. This is highly doubtful. A study cited on Wikipedia claims up to 5,000 temporary jobs laying pipe and such. The Canadian company that is pushing the pipe claims 20,000 jobs. Congress (Republicans) claims hundreds of thousands. It should be noted that the first Keystone pipeline project used contract people from Canada to do a lot of the work.

    Another ad that I noted last summer involved three college students arguing in front of a professor, who doesn’t say much. The kids end up agreeing, sort of, that natural gas is cleaner and safer and just overall wonderful. I’ve seen two more ads in the same series. One shows ordinary people having the same discussion, and yet another shows some business types having the discussion.

    I wonder why they bother. Big Oil already has the DC polititians in their pockets via lobbying. I wonder if the Occupy movement has Big Oil bothered? I hope so.

    So Hopefully We Are On The Way Out of Afghanistan

    2 February 2012

    SecDef Panetta announced today that we are going to aim to be out of Afghanistan in 2013. GOOD! It’s way past time.

    PIPA and SOPA

    19 January 2012

    I’m glad that the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) has been withdrawn. I hope SOPA meets the same fate, and soon.

    I support protection of IP. I produce IP in this blog. I don’t mind if my views are read and adopted by others, or adapted into other views, but I wouldn’t like it if someone took my views and put their own names on those views.

    But PIPA was the functional equivalent of carpet bombing. It’s way easy to grab stuff off the Internet and use it. Rachel Maddow had four examples of people who support SOPA/PIPA, all US Senators or Representatives, who had images from the web being used for their Twitter feeds or websites. None had permission given, or attribution made. If the staff of a Senator can’t get it right, how would the rest of the country?

    Making sites, like Google, or Facebook, or the like police for IP violations is not reasonable. It’s like expecting AT&T to listen to the content of every phone call, and make a judgement as to whether the content involves illegal activity.

    Better to have targeted investigations of the worst offenders. I think that the issue isn’t things like photos anyway, it’s people selling or sharing music and videos. Let the content owners or their representatives (MPAA, for example) do the legwork, and then get the police involved. Just make sure that due process is followed, and that the punishments fit the offense.

    I try to not be paranoid, but I wonder sometimes if the people who write these laws have an ulterior motive. The “Internet kill switch” I think has appeal to Those In Power. Legislation like SOPA and PIPA might be the slippery slope that gets us headed that direction.

    The Internet has been very liberating in a lot of ways. It is designed to make sharing easy. If sharing is easy, then things will shared. A government should not be in the business of trying to stop the sharing of legal stuff, whether it be data or ideas.

    The NDAA, Indefinite Detention, and the American Gulag

    18 January 2012

    Representative Buck McKeon and Senator John McCain ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves. Deeply, deeply ashamed. They enshrined in United States law the concept of the Gulag. And they are not the only ones. 322 Members of the House, and another 93 Members of the Senate, voted this monstrosity into existence. And even President Obama, who signed the bill into law. All of these people should be ashamed.

    I think he should have vetoed the bill. I think that the Congress should have stripped out the parts dealing with detention.

    I understand the need to keep enemy combatants from going back to battle. We captured Germans, Italians, Japanese, and others in WWII. But the difference is that we returned those prisoners at the end of the war.

    It is not arguable that we were in a war in Iraq (the legality and ethics challenge of that war are another other discussion altogether). We invaded the country, and then occupied it. But we are gone now. The prisoners we took out of Iraq should either be charged with a crime, tried, and convicted or not, in a civilian court. Or they should be released back to Iraq.

    The same should happen in Afghanistan when we are done there.

    I’ve seen the argument that we are in a “global war on terror”. I don’t buy that; just because we call it a war does not make it one. War is between nations, not nations and terrorists. Terrorists are criminals not bound by the conventions of war. If they are killed during operations, that’s OK. But if they are captured, then they need to be charged and tried.

    And once charged, since they are charged with crimes under USC, not the UCMJ, they need to be tried in civilian courts.

    And in no way should they be held without charges and trial indefinately.

    It amazes me that terrorists put so much terror into some people. Some, like McCain apparently, think that some people are “too dangerous to try”. What a load of crap. It’s political posturing.

    One of the reasons this country was founded was that the King of England was trampling on individual liberties here. It’s no difference between King George and the Congress and the President; both are trampling on individual liberties.

    The detention provisions should never have been introduced in Congress. The Congress (both the House and the Senate) should never have allowed the provisions to be included in the NDAA. The NDAA should have been rejected, and should have been vetoed. The detention provisions should have been stripped out post-veto.

    The detention provisions are contrary to American liberty and tradition, and should not be in law.

    President Obama had a signing statement that vowed he will not follow that part of the NDAA. That’s fine, but he should have vetoed the bill and had the detention provisions removed.

    What happens after Obama’s term ends? The next President is not bound by Obama’s signing statement. The mere fact that the law allows indefinite detention means that some President, someday, will use it.

    There is an analysis of the provisions of the bill (Part 1 and Part 2) here.

    Fight back against this, people. It’s the future of the country that is at stake.

    “They came for xxxxx, and I did nothing”…

    Republicans and the Payroll Tax

    21 December 2011

    I think that the Republicans *want* ordinary Americans to have higher taxes, want the economy in the trash, and only want this to be able to take the Presidency in 2012 so they can run wild(er).

    The process associated with this effort, at least on the Senate side, worked. Democrats put forth a bill, the Republicans added some things, both sides took less than they wanted, and the thing passed.

    I imagine that the Republicans hope that Americans will forgot this, and the other stuff they have blocked, impeded, and otherwise fracked up. If Obama and the Democrats will grow a pair, keep them, and keep hammering the Republicans, then not only will Obama get another term, but the House might be retaken.

    I hope so.

    War on Christmas Canard – Again

    12 December 2011

    As I drove from the Omaha airport to my hotel this evening, I had the radio on scan, and I stopped it on a station that was playing a story about how the state of Rhode Island put up a “Holiday Tree”, instead of a “Christmas Tree”. The station featured people decrying this as part of a “war on Christmas”.

    The segment was followed by another that was about how Tulsa, OK, changed their “Christmas Parade” to the “Holiday Parade of Lights”. Note: the segments in question are on the website for the program here.

    OK, so to stake out my position:

    1. There is no war on Christmas. The supposed war is fearmongering.

    2. The Constitution clearly forbids endorsement of religion by government. I think that a city-sponsored Christmas parade is a clear endorsement of Christianity by that city.

    Given that, Tulsa did the right thing. Christians should not be too bent out of shape that the pendulum is swinging back to the law of the land after all this time.

    But I want to address the radio segment just a bit more. People who oppose Tulsa changing the name of the Tulsa parade went and did a very American thing – they set up a Christmas Parade of their own (now, they scheduled it at the same time as the city Holiday Parade; I’m sure that was coincidence…). The Grand Marshal of the Christmas Parade is Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville.

    In this interview, Mr. Piper was sort of contradictory on several points. He first of said said that given that we have a pluralistic society, then people are able to do their own thing expression-wise. Good for him. He also said that if he respects other people’s expressions, they should respect his. I don’t know about that, but I would respect his right of expression…

    Then, what really caught my attention. Mr. Piper complained that he thought it was sad that the “culture” was responsible for not being able to have a Christmas parade (not really true, it’s the Constitution), and then he went on for a while quoting Biblical verses, then ended up complaining that he can’t say that sort of stuff without it being offensive.

    Now, none of that in particular has to do with parades, Christmas or Holiday. But I find it to be what I have called over sensitivity by religious people. It’s complaining that they are being suppressed, or kept from expressing themselves, based on no evidence whatsoever. Think on this: Mr. Piper, who is the President of a private religious university, was being interviewed by a reporter on a private religious radio network, about his role in a private religious parade. Yet he was complaining, essentially, that his religion was being affected negatively because a city had the courage to follow the Constitution. Not because there was any actual suppression of religion going on. No agency of the government kept his university from espousing any religious sect, nor kept the radio broadcaster from expressing his faith, or kept the private parade from happening.

    Any time I hear someone saying there is a war on Christmas or Christianity, I always ask exactly how many people were kept from attending church last week. That’s the real measure of how much suppression there is of Christianity.

    06 January 2012 addition:

    It occured to me as I just re-read this post that I can recall only three instances of attempts to actually suppress religion expression in this country. All three were by Christian groups. One was a couple years ago; the Department of Defense was setting up to support Wiccans in the corps of chaplains. A number of Christian groups tried to get the DoD to not do that.

    Second, the LDS church opening a Temple in NW OKC about 15 years ago. A number of local Baptist preachers went out to protest this.

    Third, the attempts by Christian groups to try and stop the building of the Muslim outreach center in NYC (this is the mosque at the World Trade Center that is not a mosque, and is not at the WTC, but is a number of blocks away).

    All religious groups should just worship as they like, and maybe not worry so much about other religious groups, or even non-religious groups or people.

    Rick Perry Claims an Obama War On Religion

    8 December 2011

    Proclaming he is a Christian, Mr. Perry runs a commercial with claims that President Obama is warring on religion.

    The claim is bogus. I wonder if the Christian-claiming Mr. Perry recalls the Commandment pertaining to bearing false witness, or LYING. Or if it even matters to him. Is lying about an opponent OK if you are trying to get elected to the Presidency?

    Occupy on UC Davis Campus Assaulted By Campus Police

    20 November 2011

    From CNN.com:

    The school said 10 protesters arrested were given misdemeanor citations for unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. Eleven were treated for the effects of pepper spray, which burns the eyes and nose, causing coughing, gagging and shortness of breath.

    A group of protestors, kneeling, with their heads down, were pepper-sprayed by police on the UC Davis campus. The protesters were not even yelling.

    Where were the “officers” not arrested also, for assault? If I pepper-sprayed people at random in OKC, you can bet I would be charged immediately and sent to jail.

    There are some people who do not deserve to wear the police uniform.

    The police in NYC who physically assaulted otherwise peaceful protesters have not been charged yet, to my knowledge. That’s “Protect and Serve”? Don’t think so.

    Republican Views of the Occupy Movement – Pretty Sad

    20 November 2011

    Two of the supposed luminaries of the Republican Party commented on the Occupy movement in the past couple days. In doing so, they showed a terrible disregard for the common people of the United States. They also again cause me to ask the question, why would anyone who is not already quite wealthy vote for any Republican?

    Newt Gingrich on the Occupy movement:

    “All of the occupy movement starts with the premise that we all owe them everything. They take over a public park they didn’t pay for. To go nearby to use bathrooms they didn’t pay for. To beg for food from places they don’t want to pay for. To obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes. Now that is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country and why you need to reassert something as simple as saying to them, go get a job, right after you take a bath.”

    His premise of the Occupy premise is wrong. He might be confused, but he is probably just making something up to fit his political ideal. His next two assertions are also wrong; we all paid for that public park, and the Occupy people took in portapotties. They did not beg for food; some was donated but most was paid for by people in the movement. I don’t think they really obstructed people on the way to work. His assertion of the collapse of the left is just flat idiotic. Finally, Newt’s statement about “getting a job” is just stupid, given that his party destroyed the economy by throwing wars and tax cuts without having the fiscal discipline to balance the budget, and legislating jobs out of the United States to overseas.

    Gingrich is expressing a disdain or hatred of the working class in this country. He is either deluded, or actually reads the news, and so is lying. I wonder which?

    Next, Senator John Kyle on the Occupy movement:

    “Well, I think it expresses the attitude of a lot of these folks who somehow think money grows on trees and they’re entitled to it and they don’t understand how wealth is produced in this country. It’s produced by people who work and who invest, who take a risk in a small business, for example. they hire people. And that produces wealth to the government that they can then take advantage of. But it doesn’t seem to me that they have an adequate appreciation of how our free market system works to produce the wealth that’s really made us the envy of the world.”

    Mr. Kyle is living on Fantasy Island. The wealth of this country has been flowing to the upper 4-5% for the past decade, largely during the Bush Administration (see the chart here if you want to see this). We do not live in a free market, and haven’t for years. Business has had most of the protections during the past couple decades. The fight against the Consumer Protection Agency and the struggle to confirm a head of that agency (due to repeated Republican obstruction of a confirmation vote) is another indicator of this. It is shown time and again that people who work and are compensated fairly for their work will be able to produce their own wealth. The emphasis should be on the people who create the products, not the companies. Mr. Kyle and his cronies encouraging companies to ship American jobs overseas ought to be held accountable.

    As I have said many times, any American in the 95% of the country income-wise who thinks that the current Republican Party has anything to offer them is wrong. It is against your own interest to vote Republican, folks. Unless, of course, you want to try to grab the trickle-down crumbs. Check that chart again to see how the Republicans help you.

    Random Observations on News

    17 November 2011

    I hope that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin gets an “ex-” in front of that title, and that the recall effort there succeeds in a big way. He is a poster child for the bait-and-switch politics of 2010. Sadly, the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor are the same way, but I don’t think a recall would succeed here.

    I am kind of amazed that various mayors are using the excuse of health and safety of the various Occupy protesters to remove the protestors from the street. I think that those people are exercising the fundamental right of peaceable assembly. The fact that many of the mayors and other politicians are opposed to the Occupy people means that the Occupy people are on to something. The fundamental difference between Occupy people, and Tea Party people, is that the Occupy people are really agitating for the common people, while the Tea Party people are really agitating for business interests.

    In New York, a middle-of-the-night raid was used – kind of Orwellian or totalitarian, Mr. Bloomberg. Bloomberg supposedly arranged for a no-fly zone over the raid so that news helicopters could not film the raid. I used to respect Bloomberg, to the point I hoped he would run for President, but my respect for him is fairly negatively impacted now.

    The use of riot police to evict Occupy protestors is just a little ham-handed, I think. The unjustified use of pepper spray by police against New York protestors a couple weeks ago is clearly assault and battery, but the NYC police stood by the “officers” who clearly criminally attacked Occupy people who were just standing there chanting.

    It has been reported that the library assembled by the Occupy Wall Street people has been at least partially destroyed. If so, it is a further discredit on Bloomberg and the NYC police.

    I wonder if John Huntsman has a chance at the Republican nomination. I hope so, but doubt that it could happen.

    Newt Gingrich saying he got more than $1M from Freddie Mac for “historical” consulting, as opposed to lobbying, is ridiculous. I think that there should be consequences for the people at Freddie Mac as well, that’s a stupid amount of money for either lobbying or historical consulting.

    I think that it is not terribly relevant that Rick Perry forgot the name of a federal government department. I think the fact that he wants to get rid of the departments in question makes him ineligible to be President of the United States.

    I think that having a Department of Education is a good thing, if for no other reason than it has promulgates uniform national standards for what students should learn. “Local control” is a code word for getting religion into public schools, including watering down the sciences.

    The Republican concept of “uncertainty” due to regulation keeping small business from hiring and growing, I think, is BS. It’s probably easier for them to talk about that, than the laws they passed under Bush to encourage jobs to be outsourced from the US.

    This is a random set of thoughts, but I have been thinking more than writing for the past couple weeks.

    Hooray for Mississippi, Also

    9 November 2011

    Incomplete poll reports show that the ballot measure to define a fertilized egg as a person failed to pass by a wide margin (~60% to 40%). This is a good thing.

    I think that there is an argument that can be made as to eliminating elective abortion at some point, based on the viability of the fetus. But I also think that there is no way that “life, as we know it” is in the millisecond that a sperm makes it into an egg. Reasonable people could debate this.

    This got on the ballot due to the binary view of people opposed to abortion. Fortunately, the people of Mississippi thought the better of the fanatical attempt to control the reproductive rights of women.

    Hooray For Ohio Tonight

    9 November 2011

    I think it’s great that Ohio voters are going to overturn the union-busting attempt by the Republican Governor of Ohio and the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature.

    I think that a lot of Republican election victories in 2010 were driven by bait-and-switch, or deceptive tactics. If they had come out and said “we are going to eliminate collective bargaining for state workers”, then I think that a lot less votes would have some their way.

    The referendum and recall processes that are going on in various states will correct some of this. We need a big push from the top down (listening, President Obama?) to start swinging the pendulum back to the side of the people, instead of big, soul-less business.

    Finally, We Are Getting Out of Iraq

    25 October 2011

    So the President announced that all of our troops would be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Good! It’s about time. That useless war cost us thousands of American lives and billions of American dollars, it was initiated on shaky grounds at best.

    Apparently, the Iraqi government asked us to leave. Well, good for them. It’s their country.

    Some part of the Right, including a number of the Presidential candidates, went loony nuts when the announcement was made. Failure of policy by Obama was frothed most repeatedly that I had heard. Those people are WRONG.

    The Occupy Wall Street People Must Be On To Something

    12 October 2011

    A number of prominent conservatives, including the serial liar Eric Cantor, made statements over the weekend in opposition to the OWS people (Cantor called them a “mob”). Herman Cain called them “un-American”.

    So Cain must himself be un-American. Protest by the public has been an American tradition dating back the start of the Republic. People protest many things, from the silly to the profound. The First Amendment protects and encourages protests.

    The general rage that is being expressed is a good thing as well. The economy of the United States was raped by banks and other companies, enabled by Bush policies that encouraged risky investment instruments. There has been no accountability for any of this; there probably will not be. The best thing is get progressives back in charge of the government, and start undoing some of the damage that was done, and maybe even start getting some of the wealth that was transferred from most of us to the corporations moving back.

    A True American’s Apology to Dick Cheney

    2 October 2011

    “The thing I’m waiting for is for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago, when they criticized us for, quote, overreacting to the events of 9/11. They in effect said that we had walked away from our ideals, or taken policy contrary to our ideals when we had enhanced interrogation techniques.”: Dick Cheney, on CNN.

    The article is in USA Today.

    Here is your apology, Mr. Cheney. I am sorry that you are such a twisted, anti-American thug. I am sorry you and Bush and your apologists spit on the Constitution constantly, all the while claiming you are keeping America safe. And I am especially sorry that your butt isn’t rotting in jail, where you so richely deserve to be.

    Go back under your sorry rock.

    Now, to the “meat” of his comment. Bush and company did over-react to 9/11. At least that’s a polite way of putting it. Invading Iraq under the pretense of Iraq being involved in 9/11 (or the fictional WMDs) was an over-reaction. Taking away American civil liberties was an over-reaction. Implementing torture (not “enhanced interrogation techniques”) was an over-reaction, and an affront to the Consitution and international law. Bush and Cheney did walk away from American ideals. I have no idea what ideals they hold, but they are not American.

    One More Example of Republican Double Standard

    24 September 2011

    I started collecting information on the vitriolity of the tea party types in particular (and blogged about this recently), and the Republicans in general. One example I had last night is pretty much typical.

    No less than three friends on Facebook posted a link to a blog post, decrying the Obama Administration sticking it to people who use inhalers, as those inhalers are charged with CFCs. [Background: CFCs are known to cause ozone degredation problems, and the US is a signatory on a treaty to reduce CFCs.] Several others piled on in comments.

    I wanted to verify the facts, so I started with the blog post.

    The blog past is titled “Obama Administration Set to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns”, and it makes a couple snide comments about how bad the Obama Administration is giving asthma sufferers the shaft, and then for some reason calls up industry efforts to make low-flow toilets and such.

    So since I now know that the FDA is really the source, I went to fda.gov, and sure enough, there is a press release there.

    The fact that the CFC-powered inhalers are being banned is true; it takes effect on 31 Dec 2011. But one little thing escaped the anti-Obama brigades:

    FDA first began public discussion about the use of CFCs for epinephrine inhalers in January 2006. FDA finalized the phase-out date for using CFCs in these inhalers and notified the public in November 2008.

    Anyone with access to a calendar can see that the time period in question was entirely during the Bush Administration.

    I reposted this to the Facebook comments with a question as to when the commentary would be turned against the Bush Administration, under whom the regulations were started and implemented?

    Not a single recant, not a single comment about how it would take decades to unscrew this Bush Administration frack-up.

    To me, this is one more example of the Republican Robot (RR) effect – party solidarity, over anything, including Country, facts, and logic. At least most of the Democrats question their leadership (constantly, it seems).

    This is just one example, but to me it is a perfect example of the RR behavior. It includes denial of any Republican role in anything that might be perceived as bad, including the Republican role in creating the current deficit, restricting American civil liberties post-9/11, and even in setting up the economic disaster we are in today (not to mention refusing to help try to fix it, just so they can try to make Obama look bad).

    Good Riddance to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and a Bit of Discrimination

    20 September 2011

    So the DADT policy expired tonight at 0000 Eastern. Good.

    The entire concept of homosexuality being incompatible with honorable military service was wrong.

    It’s taken long enough to get the policy gone. This is one more piece of discrimination that has been overcome.

    Good for President Obama, Congressional Members, our military senior leadership, the media, the public, service members groups like SLDA and IAVA, and other forward thinking people who put the Constitution above politics and religion, to get DADT removed, and provide real support for all our service members.

    Religion and Governing

    16 September 2011

    I’ve always admired President Carter. I admit that I didn’t vote for him in my first opportunity to vote in a Presidential election – that honor went to John Anderson, who I liked and thought had good ideas, but I also knew he didn’t have a chance, and so I tried to help him tap into the Federal campaign funds that were available for those candidates that got a certain percentage of the vote.

    I really supported Ronald Reagan in that election, who I believed had a plan to fix the problems that I saw in America at that time, while President Carter didn’t seem to have one.

    But as I said, I admired Carter then (not least for making such progress in the peace between Egypt and Israel), and my admiration for him grew in his post-Presidential careers, as a diplomat, an advocate for Habitat For Humanity, and similar endeavors.

    Tonight, part of an interview that Rachel Maddow had with President Carter was aired on her show. One thing in particular in the interview stood out for me. In response to a question about candidates and their professions of faith, Carter said that while it was obvious that he was a christian, he deliberately severed his religion from the process of governing. He said that he governed strictly by the Constitution and the law.

    This is the way that we are supposed to be governed. The Constitution, with the explicit ban of any religious test for candidates, and the First Amendment, requires those in government who govern to do so in a manner that is sect-free.

    I know this will make many christian readers angry, but this includes the posting of the Ten Commandments and other religious tracts in public buildings. Either put symbols of all religions there, the same size, or none. None is preferred. People have churches to display that stuff in. If you want to govern as a christian, then don’t run. If you want to govern and you are a christian, cool, govern by the law.

    President Carter might have been a man who was President in a time in which his style of governing was out of sync with the mood of the country, but he was and is an honorable man, who puts his service to the country and the human race as a whole at the forefront of his life, and that deserves respect.

    Why Do Republicans Want To Keep People From Voting?

    1 September 2011

    Republicans, who *profess* to be 100% for individual liberty (well, except for what people do in the privacy of their bedroom, or a womans uterus, they do want to control those), want to supress voting.

    The supposedly liberty-loving Republicans want everybody to show an identity card in order to exercise the basic right to vote. Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Indiana Republicans pushed through voter identity card requirements in the past year.

    BTW, where are the jobs bills? Voter ID laws are more important, apparently. Or maybe, power for incumbant Republicans.

    Regardless, there is NO indication of systemic voter fraud anywhere in the country. Except maybe in a certain district in Indiana, that is controlled by a Republican chairman, and who delivers vote results, MUCH later than the rest of the state, and in at least two cases is significantly Republican-favorable.

    Nonetheless, any additional requirements for voting are bad. The Republicans, let’s face it, do it to try to hang on to power. They do not deserve to be allowed to govern.

    And again, where are the jobs?

    Who is Really Anti-American? Republicans.

    11 August 2011

    I am more and more of the opinion that the right in America is so lustful for power, and to topple Obama from the Presidency, that they are actually complicit in the failure of the economy to grow.

    The recession and market problems occurred as a direct result of the policies of the Republicans during the Bush Presidency. The problems were worse than thought.

    Then, “Jobs First” Boehner, and the House haven’t done anything to boost the economy. The cut-cut-cut policies of the Republicans are not helping the economic situation, and I think are making the situation worse.

    Putting political power for a few over the needs of the many is un-American. Why does the middle class vote Republican? The Republicans do not, and have not for a long time, had the interests of the middle class at heart.

    John Boehner is a Liar

    27 July 2011

    I watched the competing addresses on the debt ceiling last evening.

    I was struck by the two sets of proposals. President Obama wants a balanced approach that combines closing tax loopholes, repealing subsidies, raising taxes selectively, and cutting spending. This kind of approach affects the entire country.

    Boehner wants spending cuts. This approach affects only the lower income and middle classes.

    It’s an example of Republicans targeting the 95% of the country that makes the least amount, and protecting the 5% that are wealthy, and the corporations that those wealthy own and invest in.

    Why do Americans vote Republican? The Republicans are not going to support any of that 95%. It’s self-destructive for me to vote Republican.

    But Boehner and the phony debt ceiling crisis that he and the Republicans ginned up are not the only thing that is disgusting. Boehner lied about the President of the United States, just like his lackey/rival Eric Cantor a couple weeks ago. He told several lies, and several lying innuendos.

    One that really struck me was his “the President wants a blank check” line. It’s BS on it’s face. The only way that the President could have a blank check to spend any way he wants is if… Congress gives it to him. Constitutionally, the House of Representatives (of which Boehner is the Speaker), is required to originate all spending appropriations. These must be approved by the Senate, and the signed into law by the President. So the only way the President has a blank check is if Mr. Boehners House writes the checks.

    There was discussion on The Ed Show on MSNBC this evening that showed the “line” blank check applied against Democrats by the Crossroads GPS organization operated the serial liar Karl Rove. So Boehner is a water carrier for Rove. So much for integrity.

    Republicans and the FAA

    27 July 2011

    The Republicans, led by a Mr. Mica, in the Senate and House have let funding for the FAA expire. They did this because they wanted to perform a little civil service union busting, and the Democrats in those two chambers called BS.

    The Republicans, acting in a pique, funding for airports in certain towns are have Democrat representatives has been zeroed. Millions of dollars of what should be tax revenue (reportedly $200M each week) is not being collected, and in some cases is being charged to air travelers. 4,000 Government personnel are out of work. Construction projects, already funded, worth $2B are on hold, and the thousands of workers for those projects are out of a job.

    All because Republicans hate unions. Why do ordinary people in this country vote for these people?

    The Debt Ceiling, and Governing

    15 July 2011

    The problem with the debt ceiling is a perfect example of why the Republicans have no moral authority to govern. First of all, under the Constitution, the government *has* to pay it’s bills. Period. That means the debt ceiling has to be raised. There is no question about this.

    But the Republicans show yet again that they are conservatives first and Americans somewhere down the line. They have shown repeatedly since 2008 that they refuse to participate in governing, all in an effort to limit President Obama to one term. The constant no votes, constant fillibusters, these are all indicative.

    Their antics are continued with the debt ceiling. Now they are putting up proposals that allow them to be constantly critical of the President for doing what he is supposed to be doing, following the Constitution. Or they make demands that have no negotiation possible. Eric Cantor rushed to the microphone and told a direct lie about the President of the United States, after one negotiating session.

    The Republicans managed to get control of the House by fear-mongering and lying. They continue to lie and obfuscate. They have no integrity. The American people need to hold the Republicans to account both now (send some emails, people), and more importantly, in the 2012 election.

    The Republicans refuse to govern, they do not deserve to be in office.

    American Exceptionalism

    15 July 2011

    I have seen a promo on MSNBC a number of times; I usually don’t pay a lot of attention to them. But one with Chris Matthews this evening struck a chord with me. In the promo, Matthews says that the opponents of the President claim that the President does not love American (which is not true, of course), but that the very fact that Barak Obama could be elected President of the United States is American Exceptionalism.

    This is so very true, and is a powerful thing. Think of most countries, even the peaceful ones. Britain, France, Russia. Or South Africa, or Japan. There isn’t one of those countries where a person who was not in the ethnic majority has been elected to a leadership position (Peru, of all places, is the only major country I could think of, with Alberto Fujimori, who was a Peruvian of Japanese descent being elected President there).

    But in America, it happened, and in a decisive way. It is a classic statement of American Exceptionalism that we can elect an ethnic minority, without bloodshed.

    Now, clearly, there are those who object. Aside from the un-American attacks by conservatives on Obama (and Clinton before him), with the only objective being to attempt to de-legitimize their very Presidencies, and people who have an irrational objection to Obama, there are honest Republicans who disagree with the President on policy grounds. But none of those has gone nuts and taken up arms or anything like that.

    So as I’ve said before, I am really proud of the United States for electing Barack Obama as President of the United States (and I’m proud to say I voted for the man). His election is American Exceptionalism, in a very good way.

    Kudos To The Legislature and Governor of New York State

    26 June 2011

    The Legislature of New York passed a bill authorizing marriage equality in that state, and the Governor has signed it. I think that some praise is due to the Republican legislators that stood with the Constitution in removing yet another roadblock to equal rights for all in the United States, and of course all the other legislators, Democrat, Independent, and any others. The bill passed in the Senate with votes to spare.

    I’ve said before, marriage equality, and full equality, is inevitable. Faster is better. The Constitution demands no less.

    *Still* Not Leaving Afghanistan

    23 June 2011

    With all the fervent speculation today about what the President was going to announce about Afghanistan, I just couldn’t see him getting us where we should be – out.

    I’m sorry to say I was not disappointed. So we are pulling 10K troops out (that’s less than 10% of the total force) by the end of the year, seven months away. That’s not very many, and not very fast.

    What I keep going back to is, what the heck are we fighting for? What’s the real mission? We still do not have one. More than 1000 of our troops have died there, and thousands more have been wounded to one degree or the other. We are also spending billions of dollars there. To what end? What resources do we need there? Is there even a fat chance that the country will turn into a democracy. I’m not seeing it.

    And we will be committed to pouring more money into the place over the next couple years anyway. A lot for “security”, to keep the Taliban penned in wherever they are.

    I’ve said before, we have no national interest there. Just because Bush committed us to an unjust and probably illegal war was no reason for President Obama to continue it. Let’s get out and cut the losses in blood and treasure. There is no victory there.

    SCOTUS, Business, and the People

    22 June 2011

    I am very disappointed in the Supreme Court of the United States finding that the wage discrimination suit brought against Wal-Mart was not allowed to go on as a class action. Almost every commentary I can find (and I’m *not* a lawyer) states that class action status is very broad. And the SCOTUS, on a 5-4 vote that was party line, tossed out a great deal of precedent in favor of Wal-Mart.

    It’s clear that the biggest legacy of George W. Bush will be one of two things: his ruinous wars that destroyed our budget surplus and killed so many Americans and other people, and his Supreme Court. That Supreme Court, with the overt conservatives Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia, clearly favor business interest over people.

    This is the culmination of the wrong that was inflicted on American when corporations were granted personhood. The designation of money as speech made it worse. Where is the money in this country? In the hands of corporations.

    So we the people have the law stacked against us. While the Democrats have played a part, the Republicans have really stuck it to the people.

    I wish that people who call themselves conservative would realize that they are largely voting against their own interests when they vote Republican. The same people who complain about judicial activism have on blinders when their side (the SCOTUS, in this case), does it.

    Keith Olbermann Returns to TV

    21 June 2011

    I watched the premier of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on Current TV last evening. It was the rebroadcast at 2200 central.

    I was surprised when I heard that the name of the program would be Countdown again. As I watched, I was even more surprised that so many elements of his MSNBC program were included. Pleasantly surprised.

    I’ve always liked how Olbermann presented his stories. There is a lot of bombast, and some over-the-top, but everything that he has asserted that I have checked as turned out to be factual. This is in contrast to right-wing programs, where that is not always (or even usually) the case.

    The program last night had a number of his top contributors on it, including Michael Moore, Markos Moulitsas, and John Dean. Moulitsas discussed why he has not been on MSNBC for a while, and I thought that his comments were a tad rude and not particularly relevant to the news of the day. That was really the only part of the program I would rate down.

    So welcome back, Mr. Olbermann, you have been missed. I like the slight rework of Countdown, and in particular the Worst Persons segment. It helped that there was a lot of material from over the weekend. I hope that Current TV will get picked up by more stations, or that Current will stream live (it may, I haven’t checked).

    Here’s hoping for a long run.

    Report: Rep Weiner Is Going To Resign

    16 June 2011

    I just got a bunch of email alerts that say Rep Weiner is going to resign. I think that’s too bad. If he were my representative I would vote for him again.

    I think that it shows a measure of integrity in the way the Democrats are policing their own ranks. This is as opposed to the Republicans, who have a sitting Senator who has admitted to paying prostitutes for sex. A great many Republican politicians not only called on Rep Weiner to resign, but also supported Senator Vitter, the admitted prostitution user.

    So what’s worse, a guy who sends photos of himself via Twitter, but in no way breaks a law, or a guy who visits prositutes, which is illegal in almost every jurisdiction in the United States? I think that’s pretty obvious.

    Men, Power, and Sex

    7 June 2011

    So NY Rep Anthony Weiner was flirting and sending sexts to several women. This in spite of the fact that he is married, for less than a year.

    Now, I’m even surprised that I have now used “sexts” in a blog post.

    I know that people are not perfect. I also suspect that power corrupts, to varying degrees. That is probably the reason that so many powerful people do sex-related things that are wrong, ranging from mildly inappropriate to possibly illegal. Just in the past couple months, Weiner, former CA governor Schwarzenegger, former NY representative Lee, and several others, have been snagged with sex-related scandals. The list is much longer, of course, and includes former NY governor Spitzer, former speaker Gingrich, and others.

    The common theme here seems to be people in power. What really amazes me is that the people in power get caught so easily. The partisan tone that characterizes much of our politics, especially at the national level, pretty much guarantees that the opposition people will be waiting.

    So knowing this, why do powerful people play around? The track record is indicative that they will get caught. It also seems to be pretty much all men.

    Update, 07 June 2011 at 1655 PDST.

    Dana Milbank, a very level headed columnist for The Washington Post, wrote an opinion piece on this very subject today. It carries the analysis a bit farther. The story is on the WaPo site here.

    I snorted out loud when I read his “D-Mayflower Hotel” remark.

    Republicans Whining About Scare Tactics

    29 May 2011

    There was a lot of whining last week that the Democrats took the House seat in New York state due to scaring seniors. One example, from Paul Ryan, the architect of the plan to gut Medicare:

    “If you can scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected, that’s going to have an effect, and that is exactly what took place here.”

    I would agree with the statement partially. It’s true that Ryan’s plan does not change Medicare for those 55 and older. YET. I would warn those 55 and older that if the Ryan Republican plan becomes, law, I suspect that the rest of Medicare is on the target list immediately.

    I think that the Democrats didn’t win just by “scaring” those older than 55. They won by stating fact to those under 55. The Republicans were blowing a lot of smoke about how there were no changes for those older people, and then by saying that Medicare would be turned around and changed and altered and improved for those under. The Democrats merely pointed out that the real Ryan plan eliminates Medicare for those under 55, replacing it with under-funded vouchers that are basically welfare checks for insurance companies.

    And that is what scared a lot of people. The Republicans like to cut programs that work, then put money in the pockets of the insurance industry (for health care), Wall Street (for Social Security), and other monied business interests. Pointing that out time and again is perfectly fair.

    And like the Republicans should be complaining. The entire 2004 Presidential campaign was an exercise in scaring huge parts of the population about the terrorist threat (remember Bush, “the attack coming in the form of a mushroom cloud” or something like that). And Republicans have been trying to scare the bejeezus out of white people by saying President Obama is Muslim and isn’t WHITE (OMG OMG OMG!!!!!) since before he was elected.

    I’ve said before – the Dems need to get on board with this same sort of stuff, but need to remember to keep it factual, not like the Republicans.

    NY 26, Medicare, and Democrats vs Republicans

    26 May 2011

    So yesterday a Democrat won election in a seat that had been held by Republicans for a long time, and where Republicans had a significant lead in registered voters. Medicare was a huge issue, after the Republican candidate said she would have voted for the Paul Ryan budget plan that would have eliminated Medicare for all those younger than 55.

    The Democrats there used that single issue as a club to win the election. There were four candidates for the seat; the other two candidates took something like 10% of the vote (I don’t know if the other two candidates were left- or right-flavored).

    The Senate held a vote today on the Ryan budget, and it was defeated. All but five Republican Senators voted for the plan to (among other things) eliminate Medicare, cut Head Start, and other stick-it-the-common-person measures. So most of the Republicans in the House and Senate (and a couple Dems in the House, I think) are “on record” as being against Medicare.

    This to me is what the last election should have been about, and what the next election should be about. The Republicans can not stand on their record, or their policies. If the Democrats (or Independents, or any other party) want to win elections, then they need to strongly and consistently call out the Republicans about those policies. Outsourcing, low taxes for millionaires, favoring business over people, these are all issues that need to be pointed out again and again to help people realize that when they vote Republican, they are voting against their own interest. And that’s in addition to bragging on the things the Dems did that move the country forward, for example health insurance reform.

    And another thing the Democrats need to do – call out the Republicans for lying. Every time. And the media need to throw the BS flag also.

    This morning a Representative Michael G. Grimm of New York was on the Chris Jansing program on MSNBC. He tried to deflect the cause of the election result to not be Medicare. He also made claims about how “15 bureaucrats” would set health care policy for seniors under “Obamacare”. That’s not true, and it’s know that’s not true, but not a word of challenge from Jansing. The Democrat on the program was very direct and articulate, but she didn’t challenge that particular piece of BS.

    So the Democrats can win across the board in 2012, and reverse the toxic effects of the Republicans both from 2010 on, and 2000- 2008 as well, since there is a lot that still needs correcting. But they need to go on the offensive. Now, and until the election.

    Tim Pawlenty is Just Another Republican Liar, It Seems

    24 May 2011

    I’ve heard good things about Tim Pawlenty. Enough that I could vote for him for President? Not as of yet. So I was glad to see the opinion piece he wrote in USA Today. It’s here if you want to read it.

    The title of the article is “Real change is about telling hard truths”. He has a couple other lines in there about truth as well, such as “I’m going to try something a little unusual in politics. I’m just going to tell the truth.”.

    The problem is, the majority of his article isn’t about his personal vision, or policies he might implement. Instead, he tells lies, and half-truths.

    A couple examples:

    In the third year of Barack Obama’s presidency, unemployment is at unbearable levels, gas and food prices are skyrocketing and federal government spending is out of control. “ObamaCare” is unconstitutional, and it is already driving up health costs — not reducing them.

    He is tying the President to unemployment and high gas and food prices. Well, it bears remembering that high unemployment was created by Bush policies, including outsourcing to other countries. Employment has been rising since after Obama took office, in spite of the Republicans in the Senate blocking and impeding new legislation at every opportunity. Even though Obama policy is working, it could have worked better if the Republicans had cooperated a bit. Gas and food prices are related – oil is high due largely to speculators, which were created by Republican deregulation under Bush. Food prices are much higher largely due to oil prices. It’s not the temporary drilling moratorium (which was on deep-water new projects, BTW). The “ObamaCare” line is not relevant. Also, the health insurance reform law didn’t drive a single price up; it was something the insurance companies managed to do all on their own using existing law!

    So in a single, opening paragraph, he manages three real lies to several postulated lies by the President. And this from a candidate that wants to tell the truth?

    So it seems like Pawlenty is just another Republican that wants to get elected by showing how much he is against President Obama. Sorry, guys, but you have to have some reason to be elected, and being the anti-Obama isn’t a reason.

    The basic problem with Republicans in general and conservatives in particular is that they support business interests over the interests of the vast majority of Americans. Cuts are made to Head Start, but not to oil company subsidies. And these guys want to lead?

    Another Extension Of The So-Called PATRIOT Act: Yuck

    20 May 2011

    The Washington Post reported today that leadership of the House and Senate had agreed to a four-year extension of the so-called, horrible PATRIOT Act. The article can be found here.

    The entire Act should be allowed to expire. It was conceived in the hysteria of the post-9/11 world, and was badly considered at best. It is a step into Soviet-style governing. I doubt it has been used to disrupt one plot.

    The PATRIOT Act, courtesy of the United States Congress and George W Bush, took away more of the rights of Americans than any terrorist ever did. I have emailed every one of my “representatives”, but doubt that any of those people will do much to overturn the Act. Most of them are Republicans, which specialize in taking away rights, and run like scared dogs whenever a terrorist says “boo”, so I would not expect they would do anything to “decrease security”.

    So Where Are The Big-Name Republican Presidential Candidates?

    15 May 2011

    I was surprised to see that Mike Huckabee joined the list of people not going to run.

    I think that the reality is that President Obama is basically unbeatable. I think the only thing that can keep him from winning would be a huge mistake of some kind. His basic policy is sound, everything seems to be working economically. He isn’t currently doing anything that would especially enrage conservatives (and there aren’t that many of them anyway). If he gets out there and starts touting all the good things he has done (instead of being so neutral as he was the past election cycle), and things keep improving, he is a lock.

    And so I think most of the Republicans are not running because in spite of what they say, they look at reality and decide “no way!”.