Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Minnesota Governor's Election Recount: I Was There!

As of this morning (Tuesday, 11/30) we are beginning the second day of the recount.  The majority of the 87 counties in Minnesota finished yesterday, with only a few of the largest, most populous counties having votes that remain to be recounted.  Those should be concluded in the next couple of days; certainly at the present rate of completion, I would expect them to be concluded by the end of the week at the very latest.

After the completion of the local process, those challenged ballots go 'up the ladder' of the process, for final determination.  But THAT will be a separate post; I don't want to get ahead of myself.

There were significantly fewer votes cast in the 2010 election, compared to the 2010 elections.

Minnesota gained a certain notoriety and became the butt of national jokes for the 2008 recount that resulted in the eventual confirmation of Senator Al Franken, after more than six months.  Most of that time was the result of a lengthy court challenge by bad loser Norm Coleman.  That challenge to Minnesota election findings was lost, by unanimous court decisions, over and over and over.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Condoms and AIDS/HIV, and the Papal position

A seminarian once posed to a group of which I was a part the provocative question, "When is religion good and when is religion bad?"  The resulting discussion looked at both major and minor examples of how we human beings had done great harm, in the name of religion.  In the course of the discussion, contemplating harm from our beliefs was the point.  I believe this is a belief which does harm, tremendous harm. I had that question in mind as I wrote this post.

From a March 2009 article in the Guardian, referring to a meeting in 2005:
"Addressing bishops from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho who had travelled to the Vatican for papal audience, he[Pope Benedict] said: "The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only fail safe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.

He also warned them that African life was under threat from a number of factors, including condoms"

With all due respect, the traditional teaching of the church of abstinence and fidelity has not prevented the spread of any disease, including HIV and AIDS.  It is not condom use that is the threat to the lives of people in Africa.  Condoms can prevent the transmission of these and other sexually transmitted diseases.

It remains to be seen if the recent discussion about limited condom use will reflect a change in the Roman Catholic church.  In the meantime, we still need to see a similar change in the policies of our government that have been dictated by the religious right.

Bomb Throwing

On November 16th, John Kyl (R-AZ) announced his intent to block ratification of the "New START" treaty. The key provisions of this treaty would limit both the United States and Russia to no more than 1550 strategic nuclear warheads on no more than 700 launch platforms.

I had written a very long post on this subject which frankly provided a lot of background, but in the interest of brevity, I'll try to summarize below:

1. In the 1950's and on into the 1960's, the United States practiced a doctrine called "massive retaliation", we were supreme, and we expected to devastate the Soviets in any nuclear exchange.

2. Sputnik signalled the start of the strategic nuclear arms race. We and the Soviets, over the next 15 or so years, built thousands of launch platforms (ICBM's, submarine launched missiles and bombers).

3. In 1967 the US completed the last of it's "new" launch platforms

4. Four times between 1948 and 1970 the Soviet Union offered to unilaterally disarm if we would also agree to eventually disarm

5. In 1972 we signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (now known as SALT I), this treaty, among other things, limited the number of Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) sites to 2 per country.
ABMs were seen as a massively destabilizing weapon because they might falsely give confidence to one side or another about the ability to attack without much damage in response.

6. From the middle 1960's on, each side began building many more nuclear warheads (in the case of the US - deploying them as MIRV's or Multiple Independent Re-Entry Vehicles), and launchers, in the case of the Soviets. Both sides topped out around 2400 launchers and 8700 warheads in the late 70's and early 80's. This gave each side the ability to wipe out all life on earth some 40 times over.

7. President Carter was criticized by the right for halting the B1 Bomber program in 1977. At the time, Carter commented the bomber would be obsolete before completion, was needless, and would spend money we didn't have and/or would be better spent on the "next generation" (he knew of the development of the B-2). Carter's observations were dead-on. The B1 is a horrid, useless bomber. Despite being built 30 years after the B-52, it will be retired long-before the B-52 and it cost $250 Million per plane. The money for the B1 program would have bought 12 B-2's, a bomber we are struggling to pay for now.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Bush Tax Cuts, or...What the Hell is Wrong with Republicans' Math?

The Right is pushing the retention of the Bush Tax Cuts like an evangelical preacher pushes the Gospel, at an old fashioned Bible-thumping tent revival meetin'.

Except that the Bush Tax Cuts, for the wealthy, are anything but an economic gospel.  They are ruinous. While an amazing number of middle and working class seem to have missed the tax cuts they already have received under the Obama administration.

George W. Bush is trying to rewrite the history of his two administrations to make it look like he was not an enormous aching, throbbing, hemorrhaging disaster.  He was.

He WAS a walking, talking disaster, one of the all-time worst presidents in history.  The Bush policies left us with disastrous financial collapse, AND some of the worst unemployment in the history of this country.  An approximate total population of more than 300 million, we have in the vicinity of 25 to 27 million unemployed, which doesn't count the underemployed who are qualified for better jobs, but who instead find themselves among the working poor below the poverty line.  These figures represent FAILED REPUBLICAN POLICIES - FAILED TAX POLICIES, FAILED JOB CREATION POLICIES.

The ONLY people who benefit, and then only short term not long term, are a few of the wealthiest 1% to 2% of the population.  THEY have gotten richer while everyone else suffered and struggled and the economy collapsed under these policies.  THEY pay the Republicans (and occasionally a few conservative democrats too) to parrott these lies, and they pay well.  They STEAL elections by funding of these lies. (more on that in a future post)

These numbers have slowly but steadily improved under Democrats and the Obama Administration.  Too change horses in mid stream NOW is folly, it is self-defeating impatience.  The third quarter results for corporate profits are the highest since records were kept; this administration is not, by any meaningful metric, anti-business, (despite the litany of misinformation and disinformation you hear from the right - especially Faked cable News.

Georgie Porgie is making the rounds of the talking heads circuit, bragging about how his tax cuts created 1.1 million jobs.  Hello? That is NOT a good result in job production over EIGHT years in a nation the size of the USA!

What he leaves out are two important things - the good jobs, the factory and other production jobs, the IT jobs, those were being outsourced at unprecedented rates.  The piddling few jobs that were created were almost entirely low paying jobs.

But worse than that - if you look at the numbers, while Georgie Duh-b'ya may have created those  1.1 million jobs in the private sector.........he lost many millions more of those jobs in the final years of his presidency, resulting in an overall LOSS of jobs to our economy that was devastating; it was outrageously, avoidably catastophic. 

AND  'W' and the Republicans saddled us all with monumental national debt.

Want to SEE how badly those losses hit this country?  Click on this:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winning Versus Whining

Update: In keeping with the previous pattern of right wing politically oriented contestants on Dancing with the Stars, it is rumored that one of the contestants for season 12, which will air in early 2011, will be failed Senate candidate for Delaware, "I Am Not a Witch" Christine O'Donnell.  Salary for the 10 week show is reported to be in the vicinity of $200,000.

I guess it's not like she has anything better to do until there is another political race; and no one else is going to pay her that kind of money.  Rumor has it she needs it; she hasn't done any kind of job for a long time, other than living off of political campaign donations, if reports are true..

No, I'm not writing about the Minnesota governor's election woes this time.

I'm writing about the tea pot tea party tempest around Bristol Palin and the reality television series, Dancing with the Stars that ended Tuesday night with Bristol Palin loosing to Jennifer Gray, star of the 1987 cult classic movie Dirty Dancing. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thumbs Down, Tom Emmer

I don't believe that Norm Coleman endeared himself to any but the most die-hard belligerents on the right with the extent to which he dragged out the contested decisions that unanimously over and over came out in favor of Senator Al Franken.

Effectively, Coleman made it clear that his own pursuit of the power of the office of Senator for Minnesota was more important than Minnesota's preference in voting - albeit a narrow one - AND more important than the importance of Minnesota having any second senatorial representation.  It is the same obstructive mind set that would rather shut down government than engage in genuine political compromise.

Then as now, Coleman claimed errors; his supporters continue to claim fraud, despite it being made as painfully clear as clear can be that there was no evidence of fraud, that you need to demonstrate fact, not simply a fictional narrative wishing it were so.  This despite the Supreme Court of Minnesota specifically stating that there was no evidence of fraud.  Coleman had nothing - NOTHING - to sustain such a claim.

And that is because there is no fraud to claim, there is no evidence because fraud is not a systemic problem; fraud has not 'stolen' any elections from a lawfully elected voter.  The real issue is that the republicans are consistently simply incredibly poor, and not very honorable losers.

Laws of Politics

I have been watching politics for rougly 35 years, maybe a little less. I guess I started caring much in 1976 or 77.

In that time there have been some patterns of behavior which seem so inviolate that they can be called axioms or laws. There are more than just these I list below, but I hope I make my point with the list. Similar to the Laws of Thermodynamics (of which there are four), these are observations which seem to be true in all cases.

1. Democrats, specifically liberals, propose governmental regulation or programs as solutions to almost any problem.

2. Republicans will claim to stand for National Security, but will sacrifice that security for extra-military spending, especially on hardware, even if such hardware is unnecessary.

3. Democrats, especially the Green Party wing of the Democratic Party, will reflexively oppose military action, even if justified (to wit, Afghanistan).

4. Republicans will sacrifice anything, including the debt, the deficit, anything to gain tax cuts for the rich. Not the middle-class, the rich.

It's this last one that I think is currently especially appropriate to discuss, though #2 is topical at the moment as it relates to John Kyl's opposition to the "New START" treaty and #3 is topical as it relates to Obama's plans for Afghanistan.

So, as regards #4, I have watched, watched and watched, since 1980 at least, as promises of balanced budgets, of "real" cuts in spending, deficit "hawks", in infinite amounts promised the budget "should be run like you run your own budget at home" and "was the gravest threat to national security out there" and so on. I've also watched as those who repudiated Keynesian economics did an about face, as Dick Cheney did in 2003 when he said that "Deficits don't matter" in response to questions about how Bush was going to pay for the tax cuts enacted in 2002 as the projected surpluses disappeared.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Travel Lightly or Lighten Up

UPDATE, 11/25/'10:  The much ballyhooed protests predicted in the media for Wednesday, November 24th at airports around the nation failed to materialize.  While air travel was up 11% from last year on the same day before Thanksgiving, the actual numbers of protesters of the TSA policy were minute, tiny, nearly non-existent at less than 1%.  The response to that disastisfaction should be proportional, not over-responsive; and it should be constructive, not reactive or appeasing.

A few figures noting scanner opt-outs possibly in protest (although not specifically), in no particular order, listing available data:
Boston: 300 out of 56,000
Los Angeles: 113 out of 50,000
Detroit: 57 out of 25,000
Atlanta: 39, out of 47,000 air travelers
Charlotte: 1, out of 18,000
Cincinnati: 15
St. Louis:  7
New Orleans: 6
Memphis: 5
Dallas/Fort Worth: 1

Joe Scarborough: What Is It About Keith Olbermann's Experience You Don't Understand?

Or the discipline for misconduct or lapses from the ethics standards in place in every serious journalistic organization?  That of course, excludes Fox News.

Even Jonathon Berr, of Daily Finance put it, in his article arguing for a lesser enforcement of the MSNBC standard - suggesting a warning would be more appropriate, "The fact that Fox News has no such restrictions in place does not mean they are right."

Friday, November 19, 2010

The False Voter Fraud Accusation in Crow Wing County MN - the NEXT faked ACORN-like story on the right?

I have been following the course in the media set by Montgomery Jensen, and those who seem to be in cooperation with his message.  That media course seems to me to be all about Monty Jensen and promoting the notion of voter fraud, and not really about the supposed merits of his bogus complaint.

I believe that message to be as contrived and false as the version of events concocted by Jame's O'Keefe, the now-discredited right wing's media darling of the last election cycle.  I believe that Montgomery Jensen is being positioned to be the right wing media's darling of this election cycle; the only question remaining in my mind is, will this be just Minnesota state-wide, or is it intended to be part of a larger attempt to shrink the number of people who may vote, and to make it more difficult.  I do not believe from my research into this so far that Montgomery Jensen just happened to be voting, and that he saw something that upset him.  My research suggests he was looking for something to happen, and when it did not, he created a false accusation to fit his agenda - his pre-existing political agenda. 

Thanksgiving Today, not next week

This came into my private email today.

I want to pass it on to our Penigma readers, hoping you will all join me in saying thanks to our service men and women, in time for the official Thanksgiving Holiday next Thursday.  While the email I received was set to help us thank yous from residents of Minnesota, I have reset the link to the national USO Thank You page instead.  So if you are not from Minnesota - this still works for YOU to say thank you!  Wherever you are - please take advantage of this opportunityAnd if you can make a donation in support of our troops, please do that as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

False Claims of Voter Fraud II

Hard on the publishing of the gutless anonymous email came another claim, a claim of widespread voter fraud in Crow Wing county.  This is another one of those right wing claims that doesn't come out too well upon close scrutiny.  Not that they care.  There are always justifications, rationalizations, and excuses.

But let me provide some context to my anger, anger at what I see as a witch hunt. A witch hunt is where people are agitated to start looking under their beds for commies.  A witch hunt is where people are seeing voter fraud because they have been told to see voter fraud, not because it is really there.  A witch hunt is where it is more important to score a possible 'hit' on the dread much-ballyhooed (mostly hooey) target than it is to look critically or to consider what harm might come from your actions.  In this case, the harm is the embarrassment and added difficulty to people who face tremendous challenges, added difficulty that comes from an apparently (so far) groundless accusation made in the most public way possible. 

Follow with me.

False Claims of Voter Fraud by the GOP, the Tea Party, and other Conservatives, Part I

I sit at the computer writing this post, so angry I have tears in my eyes. 

I have been reading about the claims of voter fraud this election.  They are the same as the unsubstantiated claims of the last election alleging theft of the elections in various races by widespread voter fraud.  These false claims are based on not legitimate, they are not true, they are not accurate, they are not valid.

But they ARE repeated, over and over and over, so as to appear to have substance, so as to persuade they are true.

Last week, I was very angry with a friend of mine, a conservative blogger for writing this

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Too Many Laws"

Thanks to the wonderful strip 'Shoe' for having such an 'eagle eye' for appreciation of current events; Shoe was created by the late cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, and continued by Susie MacNelly, Gary Brookins, and Chris Cassatt. 

In an era of disappearing print media to present our cartoons, please take a moment to appreciate the comic format for all the things it does so much better than dry words could ever hope to do.  Murphy's Law perfectly sums up my feelings about the 2010 election (and not in a good way).

(I'm probably the only person looking at this, wondering if Chris Cassatt is any relation to famous American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt....)

Cold Political Calculation

George Bush recently made the rounds promoting his new book, "Decision Points." In this book he (apparently) talks about his second-thoughts and moral tugs-of-war over things like the invasion of Iraq, water-boarding, and the financial collapse of 2007-2008 (and on into 2009).

On water-boarding, he says he approved the decision, responding "Damn right" to the question of whether he approved it directly. Ironically, it's the same line fictional Colonel Nathan R Jessup used in "A Few Good Men." discussing whether he approved a "code red" to beat a soldier (unintionally causing his death).

On the question of the financial collapse, Mr. Bush replied that he was "totally blindsided." He went on to suggest that if Congress had passed his reforms for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the problems might have been avoided.

In both cases, I am reminded why this man was so manifestly and absolutely repudiated in 2006 and 2008. I am also reminded why eight years of colossal mismanagement and political deceit isn't easily undone in twenty months. Bush came across as he always has, saccharin, fake and clearly politically calculated in every reply.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Insight into Language and Thought; Charles Alan Wilson's Sentencing for Threatening Senator Patty Murray, and the Role of Glenn Beck

Updated 11/15/'10

I read something earlier today which impressed me with the quality of insight and observation.

It was this.

It resonated for me particularly, because I had been thinking about how to write about the sentencing of Charles Alan Wilson.  Wilson was sentenced on October 22nd to one year and a day in prison, and three years probation during which he is not allowed to own firearms, amon other provisions and restrictions.

I wrote about Wilson in the Other Charlie Wilson War posts here and  here

Wilson had made daily threats against the life of Senatory Patty Murray of Washington, over his misinformed ideas about the 2010 health care reform legislation.  Those messages included more expletives and slurs than even the threats of violence.  It offers a perfect example of how slurs are intended to intimidate as well as demean.

Friends and family described the chain of events that led to the threats resulting in Wilson going to jail, as a sequence where Wilson had lost his job and become ill.  While homebound, he became convinced that the misinformation regularly disseminated by Glenn Beck on Fox Nuissance represented a legitimate concern. 

Apprently Mr. Wilson was not aware of how to fact check statements made on Fox.

Family and friends directly attribute Wilson's actions to the program content presented by Beck.

'A cousin suspected that Charlie, who became housebound due to his poor health, spent too much time watching TV. Another friend agreed. "His brother got him a computer and he was able to stay connected with family. And he watched television and found Glenn Beck." The friend said he, too, found Beck, a Washington native son, about the same time.

"I understand how [Charlie's] fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck's persuasive personality.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Michele Obama's Message to the Nation on Veteran's Day

Veterans Day provides us with the chance to mark the debt of honor we owe to all those who have worn the uniform of the United States. We remember those who gave their lives beneath our flag, in service of our freedom.

And with so many still fighting, we owe special thanks to the courageous families of those who serve.

Because when our servicemen and women deploy overseas, their loved ones are left to undertake heroic battles of their own at home. The unique challenges they face in support of men and women in uniform allow us all to enjoy the freedoms of our democracy.
Happy Veterans Day
to our readers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

'Doing it Wrong' (Yes. Sex.)

This blog post from the New York Times had me laughing out loud.  But part of it is serious.

The serious part is that while the average age for first time sexual experience is 17 on both sides of the Atlantic, how our human sexuality is handled is very different. That difference is more successful  on the European side of 'the pond' by a variety of measurements than what we do here.  In view of the recent election results which some believe mandate social and cultural conservatism, those numbers deserve a review here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where There's Smoke.....There Is Smoking

Thanks to FindLaw.com for the idea for this post.  If you follow the Slate.Slate.com link for this story, you will find an excellent interactive map of the United States showing how smoking habits vary by both age and geography.  There has been an overall decline in smoking, attributed in part to smoking bans.  However that decline leveled off in 2004; in response, the Federal government has proposed changes in the warning labelling and packaging of cigarettes.

I appreciate smoking bans. Having grown up in a household where both adults smoked, fairly heavily, I was surrounded by cigarette smoke.  I developed allergies to cigarette smoke, and I am one of those individuals who cannot express how much relief there is in being able to enjoy retail establishments of all kinds without having to suffer from the smoke of others. 

Smoking seems to define the essential conflict of competing rights in a microcosm that reflects other issues.  There is the legal right of the smoker to enjoy a legal activity.  But I have yet to see any smoker who was able to control the smoke he or she enjoys so that it is not an irritant, or worse, a health hazard, for others.  If it is true that one person's right stops at the end of another person's nose, then clearly smoke does not stop short enough to avoid irritating my nasal sinuses.  Nor does another person enjoying cigarette or cigar smoking stop short of making non-smokers' hair and clothing smell like an ash tray.

For all the screams about some people paying for the health care expenses of others, no individual has ever to my knowledge successfully paid out of pocket for health care costs related to smoking illnesses.  We have all paid and will continue to pay; the only question at issue is how direct or indirectly.  Smoking is a legal practice which to a high statistical degree has been shown to contribute to people becoming ill.  It is voluntary air pollution for pleasure.  An important issue is not only keeping safe the rights of smokers to enjoy their legal activity, but the question presents - would reversing the smoking ban, if only partially, send a mixed message, a public policy contradiction?

Our esteemed commenter and sometimes contributor, Dr. Michael Kirsch was kind enough to post something on this topic in an especially timely manner with the FindLaw post; his post this week is entitled "Can CAT Scans Prevent Lung Cancer? Smoke and Mirrors";

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Factoids and Fact-turds

Back in the day, my high school debate coach was unhappy with our practice efforts and our debate research.  We were sitting around after school, and he decided we needed to be given a speech.

In that off-the-cuff speech, accentuated with banging on the desk-top podium with his fist, he pointed out that we would never willingly put a turd in our mouths and swallow it, or shove one up our nose and inhale it.  So, why the hell would we insert one into our eyes or ears accessing our brains, in the form of poorly researched information?  He wasn't going to accept shit research from us, and we shouldn't accept it from anyone else.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dear Keith Olbermann, What Part of the Recent Juan Williams Incident Did You NOT Understand?

Update - Keith Olbermann has returned to broadcasting on MSNBC.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few.”
Wendell Phillips
American Abolitionist and Orator

“I sometimes think that the price of liberty is not so much eternal vigilance as eternal dirt.”
"All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome."
Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell
English Journalist, and Author of 1984 and Animal Farm (among other works)
1903 -1950

“Burke said that there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all.”
Thomas Carlyle quotes
Scottish Historian and Essayist,

Keith Olbermann has been suspended, indefinitely, without pay from his broadcasting duties on cable news network MSNBC.  Olbermann made political donations to three democratic candidates in the recent election: Senate contender Jack Conway in Kentucky (who lost to Rand Paul), and Congressional candidates from Arizona Raul Grijalva (who won in a narrow election still contested, by some 6,300 votes) and Gabrielle Gifford (who as of this morning, 11/6, announced she won by a similarly contested election by some 3,000 votes).

Olbermann released this statement to Politico regarding his conduct:
"One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the re-election campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky.  I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level."

MSNBC has a policy for its employees that permit donations to political candidates with prior approval.  Mr. Olbermann did not seek or receive that approval before making those three legal donations.  In contrast, morning news host Joe Scarborough donated to a Republican candidate in the 2006 election WITH prior approval; MSNBC was at the time under different management, but the policy has remained the same.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010 Elections - Who Voted? What Did It Mean?

Republicans and Tea Partiers are claiming victory in the 2010 elections, believing erroneously that this was a condemnation of the policies of President Obama, and believing even more erroneously that this is some sort of approval of their proposals.

They couldn't be more wrong.

Why? Look at the demographics, not only of who voted, which made a huge difference, but also look at the exit polls.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bucking a Trend (and trying not to get kicked)

Last night Minnesota didn't follow the national trend. It re-elected and elected a straight Democratic slate at state-wide offices (Governer, SecState, Auditor, AG). This includes (seemingly, and by a narrow margin) the election of a Democratic Governor for the first time in 20 years. Mark Dayton holds about a 9200 vote lead, and barring a pretty unprecedented turn-around in a recount, is likely to hold that lead through the recount and be confirmed as Governor-Elect Dayton.

I didn't like Mark Dayton as a candidate, wasn't enamored of him as a Senator, but compared to the neo-con, slash and burn alternative offered by the Republicans (Tom Emmer), I guess I'm glad he won - ok, I'm really glad, we've had an obstructionist Governor (Tim Pawlenty) for eight years, and during that time the budget was a catastrophe. Pawlenty pushed debt off to future generations and future administrations, used shell-games to hide his debt, took advantage of inflation-based growth in revenue while holding flat (in real dollars) the outlays for programs which cared for the most vulnerable. He was a disaster as a Governor for the state's finances, and likely has no hope in his bid for the Presidency.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't Worry, We'll Do Nothing (REALLY!)

In what is likely to be a Republican landslide, the GOP is set to take-over control of the U.S. House of Representatives and probably draw to near parity in the U.S. Senate later today when election results are announced.

When Barack Obama took the Oath of Office a little more than a year and a half ago, the Republicans were terrified. Here was a President elected on a platform of potentially radical change, threatening to reign in the financial sector, manifestly remake health care, and to institute a movement toward renewable energy which would at the same time directly attack the death-grip the oil industry has on the US domestic energy markets. They hoped, at that time, to forestall Obama until the 2010 elections to hopefully then have the votes to keep Obama from moving ahead with his plans. As Rush Limbaugh, the most influential spokesman for the GOP famously said, "I hope you fail!" in one of his radio shows, the goal of the GOP was to delay and stall the Democrats, both to keep the changes they desired from being passed and to paint them as incompetent and incapable of getting anything done. Even though, Hank Paulsen said that without the bail-out and subsequent stimulus, unemployment would have topped 25% - that' s Hank Paulsen, a financial conservative and appointee to deal with collapse in the waining days of 2008.

Vote. Just DO IT.

It is our duty.
It is our privilege.

When you vote - thank those who spend such long hours at our polling locations to make it possible, our election judges. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thank You, Gary Trudeau

This isn't new, but then neither is the chronic claim by Republicans about making spending cuts or smaller government - something they never, ever, actually do.  I hope voters will not emulate another iconic cartoon character, Charlie Brown, attempting to kick the football in the cartoon strip Peanuts, perpetually disappointed.  His results never change either - just like the Republicans never living up to their claims about cuts in spending.

Middle Class!  Your attention please!  The Republicans, and the Tea Partiers as they are now, ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!  Since the Obama administration took offices tax cuts for the middle class have gone into effect, more of the money earned by the majority is in your paycheck for you, not taken out as taxes.  It was Republicans, so called conservatives (fiscal and otherwise) who passed legislation filled with unfunded mandates, avoidable wars not funded in the regular budget, and let us not forget the costly doughnut hole in medicare.  Most of all, let us not elect representatives and senators who will accelerate the increasing gap between the 2% of the our population who are obscenely wealthy and eveveryone else, with more tax cuts for the wealthy which have never, ever been documented to increase job creation and which will drastically expand the deficit from the Bush administration years.  Remember? Remember those tax rates that provided us a surplus instead of a deficit under Clinton? The wealthy were not suffering in the slightest with that rate of taxation, nor were the rest of us.

That last frame? The one that says "this isn't Greece"?  It is not, at least - not yet, but part of the problem with Greece - beside the problems the U.S. helped cause financially - has been widespread corruption. WE, here in the U.S. have now dropped below the top 20 countries that are least corrupt (Canada, in comparison is 6th). 

The 2010 Elections - and Halloween: the Bogeyman in the Politics of Fear

Halloween Trick or Treating ended on Sunday, but the terror of the bogeyman remains in the 2010 elections past October 31st, carrying over to November 2nd.

I spent part of the weekend volunteering for a candidate I support, making telephone calls from a political party office phone bank.  This was not the first volunteering I had done this campaign, from helping with the writing of LTEs for people less confident in their writing to making phone calls to get out the vote.  In the course of those phone calls, I've smiled-and-dialed hundreds of registered voters who voted in the 2008.

In the course of those conversations, I've referred many misinformed and dis informed potential voters of the resources of politifact.com and factcheck.org. Those who didn't have home internet access or internet expertise I referred to their public library reference librarians.  Thank god, in most places the libraries haven't been privatized yet, and are still non-partisan.  Politifact.com declared the loser in the 2010 elections appears to be truth,

A (Probably Not) Final Word On Juan Williams

I work in the financial services sector. I have been advised by my employer that while I may have an expert opinion, offering that opinion without the prior approval of my employer, if I represent myself as being from my employer or speaking on behalf of my employer, is strictly prohibited. In fact, I've been advised doing so could imperil my employment if my comments would somehow purport to speak for the company without its approval or might even be seen to embarrass or otherwise compromise the company's stance on a topic.

Juan Williams, as a paid correspondent for NPR, undoubtedly has been given similar instructions about what the limits of his authority to speak as an NPR correspondent are. He presented himself on Fox News as an NPR correspondent, thereby speaking on behalf of NPR. Whether or not he intended to speak on their behalf when he made his now famous remark is not material.

He was identified as an NPR correspondent; that meant that he was presenting himself as affiliated with NPR and therefore his words could be reasonably seen as in part being reflective of the people at NPR. I strongly suspect Williams had been previously warned not to do so, further, I'm about 100% certain he had the same general warning all employees nowadays get, namely, don't speak for the company unless you have the company's approval to say what you say. Williams didn't.

If I had done what Williams had done, I'd have been fired for speaking without the approval of the company. What NPR did was no different and no different than something those on the right would have otherwise approved of. Williams isn't entitled to say anything he likes when he's a paid correspondent and presented as "from NPR", he's entitled to say what NPR has agreed with him he can say as speaking on their behalf, and nothing more. He violated (almost certainly) company policy, written warning and probably verbal warning - and for it he rightly deserved to lose his paycheck from NPR. Freedom of speech doesn't extend to your employment, if you think so, go tell your boss she or he is an idiot, or go tell a member of the opposite sex you think they've got a hot body, or go out on the street and tell company secrets or say your company thinks Muslims are scary. See what happens. Williams did the latter, whether you recognize it or not.