Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, August 30, 2013

Separated at Birth: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Bob Dylan

Is it just me, or does the picture of Bob Dylan on the current Rolling Stone cover (RS 1191) look an awful lot like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

When I picked up the newest Rolling Stone a few days ago, I was “WTF???  They’re putting the Boston Bomber on the cover again???  Oh, it’s Bob Dylan.”

It’s one thing to see a picture by itself and think “this looks a lot like ____________.”  But when you place the two Rolling Stone issues (RS 1188 and RS 1191) side by side on the table, there’s still a bizarre resemblance between the two cover pictures, IMHO.

It’s an early photo of Bob Dylan.  The cover story (which I haven’t read yet) is titled “Dylan:  The Lost Years.”

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Full Disclosure: I’m From Mars

I think we’re all Martians on this bus.

According to a new hypothesis, life on Earth had to originate on another planet — presumably Mars.  Way back then, Planet Earth couldn't have provided the necessary molecular machinery to create life.  Steven Benner, a chemist with the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, said:

“The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock.”

This idea isn’t new.  Panspermia is the scientific term for the theory that life originated somewhere else in the universe and was transported to Earth by way of comets or meteorites.

Who knows?  Maybe Erich von Daniken was right all along.

This doesn’t bode well for the Creationists, does it?  Unless Adam and Eve were space travelers.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How Much Progress Have We Made Since Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech?

With today being the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, opinion polls are asking how much progress we’ve made since 1963.

According to an NBC/WSJ Poll, 54% of Americans agree with the statement that in America, people are judged by their character and not the color of their skin.  However, 79% of African-Americans disagreed with that statement.

Our local daily paper has an online poll asking:

“At this 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, how much progress toward his ‘dream’ of racial equality do you think America has achieved?”

With 757 responses, the results are:

A lot — 47.2%
Some — 29.7
A little — 16.0
None at all — 5.9
Undecided — 1.2

Because of this fiftieth anniversary, there are tons of articles on this subject.  Among them:

Were Republicans really the party of civil rights in the 1960s?  There are some excellent points in this article.  These are facts we all need to be aware of; facts that the Rightwing Spin Machine doesn’t want us to remember.

And speaking of rightwing talking points based on lies:   No, Martin Luther King Jr. was NOT a Republican.

This sounds like a story from The Onion, but it’s for real.  The National Black Republican Association (nope, that was not a typo) has a billboard saying “Martin Luther King Jr. was a REPUBLICAN.”

And without bothering to do any fact-checking, ABC News published this comment from a black member of the Republican National Committee:  “Most people don’t talk about the fact that Martin Luther King was a Republican.”

[head spinning] [eyes rolling]

To set the record straight, Martin Luther King Jr. was neither a Republican nor a Democrat.  He was non-partisan and never endorsed any political candidate.  In a 1958 interview, he said:  “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses…And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.”

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Learn How to Defeat the Polygraph. Pass a Lie Detector Test Every Time! GUARANTEED!


But would you believe, the federal government has gotten so paranoid, they’ve started cracking down on instructors who teach job applicants how to pass a lie detector test.  The “logic” is that criminals and spies will have an easier time infiltrating the government if they’ve learned how to beat the polygraph.

The National Security Agency (NSA) claims that teaching this dangerous information is NOT protected by the First Amendment.  The Obama Administration’s Insider Threat Program is determined to prevent any more “betrayals” by “trusted insiders” like Edward Snowden and Bradley/Chelsea Manning.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told an audience of professional polygraph operators:

“Nothing like this has been done before.  Most certainly our nation’s security will be enhanced. There are a lot of bad people out there. ...This will help us remove some of those pests from society.”

So far, two of these vicious beat-the-polygraph instructors have already been targeted by the Obama Administration.  Their business records were confiscated, and now federal agents know the names of 5,000 people who were trying to learn how to pass a lie detector test.  Book 'em!

These earth-shaking beat-the-polygraph techniques — whether they’re valid or not — have been common knowledge for decades.  They’re largely based on biofeedback, which goes back at least to the early 1970s.

When you’re hooked up to a polygraph, the device measures your skin temperature, heartbeat, degree of muscle tension or relaxation, etc.  When you’ve learned, through biofeedback,  how to voluntarily control these physiological functions, you can reach a state of calm relaxed awareness.  OR you can tell a big fat lie without being detected, and the next thing you know, you’ve conned your way into the State Department and you’re selling U.S. secrets to The Enemy.

Whether these beat-the-polygraph techniques work or not, they’re about as cutting-edge as Disco and Bell Bottom jeans.

Oh well.  Teach biofeedback, go to prison.

Anyway, what was next on my to-do list?  Ah yes, I remember now:  do a web search for “pressure cooker” + “backpack”

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Today’s Incoming College Freshmen Have Never Known…

Beloit College has released its sixteenth annual Mindset List.  The Mindset List was created to help college professors communicate better with their freshman students by NOT making outdated references and using slang terms that everyone else stopped using decades ago.

For example, a previous Mindset List advised professors not to use Seinfeld buzzwords — “not that there’s anything wrong with it,” “shrinkage,” “sponge-worthy” — because their students won’t know WTF they’re talking about.

For the Class of 2017 — mostly born in 1995 — Jerry Garcia, Mickey Mantle and Dean Martin have always been dead.  These students were four or five years old during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton’s impeachment, “this isn’t about sex; this is about lying to the American people,” etc.

For that matter, “Clinton” refers to Hillary.  There might even be a popular trivia question:  “True or False — Clinton’s husband was once president.”

Highlights from the Mindset List for the Class of 2017 include:

GM stands for Genetically Modified; not a car manufacturer.

Getting your own cell phone and Skype account is a more important rite of passage than getting your driver’s license or your first car.

When you’re going somewhere, just enter the address into your GPS.  Asking for directions?  What’s a map?

People who smoke have ALWAYS had to stand outside and stay away from non-smokers.

There used to be a nationwide speed limit of 55 miles per hour???  No way, Dude.

Their parents are sooo out-of-date, such Luddites, they still listen to music on the car CD player.


Anyway, there are sixty items on the list.  Knock yourself out.  (OOPS — when was the last time anyone used THAT phrase?)

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Louisiana Republicans: Hurricane Katrina Disaster was Obama’s Fault

There are only two possible explanations for this:

1. Louisiana Republicans have some incredible inter-dimensional powers and they’ve managed to transcend the space-time continuum that inhibits the rest of us.  Or:

2. They’re just not very bright.

According to a poll taken by Public Policy Polling, twenty-eight percent of Louisiana Republicans said then-President George W. Bush was to blame for the federal government’s disastrous non-response to Hurricane Katrina.  Twenty-nine percent blamed Barack Obama, who was a freshman senator at the time.  And forty-four percent weren’t sure whose fault it was.

But let’s give those poor Louisiana Republicans the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe there’s a third possibility.  It’s not the Louisiana GOP that has these scary occult powers:  it’s President Obama!

Think about it.  Barack Obama has already dazzled the world with his occult wizardry.  While he was living in that remote tribal region of Kenya where he was born, he was able to materialize an authentic-looking American birth certificate.  And then he used his Voodoo spells to hypnotize millions of Americans into voting for him.

And now, apparently, when Barack Obama was a freshman senator during the summer of 2005, he cast a spell on the entire Bush Administration; hypnotized them into sitting there with their thumbs up their asses while New Orleans drowned.

But I’m still leaning toward Possibility #2.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Study: Only the Wealthiest Are “Represented” in the Senate

Whoa!  This just in!

But at least now we have a study to confirm what everyone, regardless of their political views, has suspected all along.  Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you’re NOT being followed.

This study was conducted by Thomas J. Hayes of Trinity University and will be published next month in the Political Research Quarterly.  Hayes said:

“The fact that lower income groups seem to be ignored by elected officials, although not a new finding, remains a troubling observation in American politics.”

The study was conducted during the 107th through 111th Congresses.  And this has nothing to do with Republicans or conservatives.  Democratic senators are every bit as contemptuous of the unwashed masses who can’t afford to make large campaign contributions.

Hayes said:

“My analysis, which examines Senator behavior on a large number of votes, shows evidence of responsiveness to only the wealthy, a distinct problem for any democracy.  In some ways, this suggests oligarchic tendencies in the American system, a finding echoed in other research.”


“Although Americans might not easily identify along class lines, this does not mean that politicians representing these citizens do not respond to them in this manner. If equal responsiveness is a fundamental practice in a democratic society, my findings question the degree to which this occurs.”

If you pay taxes but aren’t wealthy enough to be “represented” by your “elected” senator, that would be Taxation Without Representation.  Didn’t that exact phrase lead to a revolution of some sort, back in the 1700s?

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Al-Jazeera America

Al-Jazeera America is scheduled to begin broadcasting tomorrow (Tuesday 8/20).  The cable channel will reach about forty million U.S. households.  Time Warner Cable subscribers won’t have access to it; at least not yet.

It’ll probably take awhile for the Al-Jazeera America audience to build up, with the name being such a red flag (that’s putting it mildly).  But hopefully, millions of Americans are longing for the in-depth unbiased news coverage that Al-Jazeera America is promising.  The linked article describes their news coverage as “long-form reporting of stories ignored by mainstream media.”

Al-Jazeera already owns Current TV, which also set off the predictable blubberings on the Far Right when that purchase was made.

Ehab Al Shihabi, interim chief executive of Al-Jazeera America, said:

“We know Americans want in-depth coverage of the news that matters to them.  They want more unbiased coverage and less opinion, that’s what Al-Jazeera is about.”

He thinks the channel’s audience will increase when word gets around about the quality of their reporting.  He said surveys have shown that “75 percent of people who did not watch Al-Jazeera came on the negative side and 90 percent of those who watch Al-Jazeera came on the positive side.”

Kate O’Brian, president of Al-Jazeera America, said the channel will “stay away from pundits and crazy celebrity news” while “covering all the stories that need to be covered.  Our success is how well we tell the stories.  We will get people talking about the channel and wanting the channel.”

Another selling point:  Al-Jazeera America will only have six minutes of advertising per hour.  Fifteen minutes per hour is the average.  (I could have sworn it was a lot more than that.)

Joie Chen, an Al-Jazeera journalist who was formerly with CNN and CBS, said she was drawn to the channel because of “the quality work they were doing.”

“I wanted to be able to participate in the story telling. I did not want to be a news reader.  We are not focused on the size of the audience, we are focused on the quality of the reporting.  We want to tell stories that are currently underreported.”


Sunday, August 18, 2013

London, 1958: the “Forgotten” Race Riot

Betcha never heard of the Notting Hill race riot of August, 1958.  I just learned about it from our NetFlix movie last night, Absolute Beginners.  It’s a very surreal portrait of London’s burgeoning rock scene in the late 1950s.  The movie was filmed in 1986.  The cast included David Bowie, Sade and Ray Davies.  Gil Evans composed the soundtrack.

I thought Absolute Beginners would be just a fun fluffy piece about London in the late ‘50s.  And that’s how it started out.  But little by little, it shifted from London hipsters imitating American rock and roll, to the underlying current of racial hatred.  By the end of the movie, it was pretty much just one beatdown and rock-throwing and torching frenzy after another.

After the movie I Googled it, and sure enough, the movie was referring to the Notting Hill race riots of 1958.

The racial instigators were always dressed immaculately in three-piece suits while they went around throwing rocks through windows, setting fires and stomping any lone black person they could find.

I knew vaguely about the Mods and Rockers from mid 1960s England — the two teenage subcultures who were always fighting each other.  The Mods, like the racists several years earlier, were also wearing three-piece suits while they brawled in the streets.  (They were brought to life in Brighton Rock — our NetFlix movie from a few weeks ago about mid ‘60s England.)

I don’t think Absolute Beginners used the term “Teddy Boys,” but that’s what the rightwing Nazi-wannabes were called.  They dressed like dandies from the Edwardian period, and somebody coined their name by shortening “Edwardian” to “Teddy.”

At the end of World War II, Caribbean migrants started pouring into London, and this begat the Teddy Boys and other zoot-suited racists who wanted to “Keep Britain White.”

Funny how you think you’re just gonna watch an hour and a half of mind candy, and you end up learning something.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

An Insider’s View of ALEC

Or maybe that should be “I was a teenage ALEC mutant.”

Wisconsin state representative Chris Taylor attended ALEC’s annual conference in Chicago.  (As you know, ALEC stands for American Legislative Exchange Council.)

Describing her experiences inside the “ALEC universe,” she wrote:

“ALEC members have been quietly working out of the public eye to develop their agenda so that when given the opportunity, they are ready to start creating an ALEC nation. That time has come. And they are ready.”

Please take the time to check out Chris Taylor’s interview with Theresa Riley in the linked article.  As one of the commenters at the end of the article said, “If this article doesn't give you chills of abject dread…you’re not breathing.”

Here are just a few excerpts from the interview:

“I think it’s so incredibly important for people to understand where these model bills are coming from and try to understand the rationale. I was quite blown away by the extent of where Wisconsin policy is coming from, because so much of it is coming from this group.”

During the conference, an ALEC member complained to her about Obama’s excessive regulations, and said there needs to be a constitutional amendment requiring congressional approval of ALL regulations.  She told him “I don’t think that ignites people. Maybe it does on the far right, but most people don’t really care about that.”  And the ALECbot said:  “Oh, well, you really don’t need people to do this. You just need control over the legislature and you need money, and we have both.”

Referring to ALECfuck’s answer, Chris Taylor said:

“That sentiment was underscored so many times to me, that they don’t want people involved in the political process, or in the policy process. And that seems to be the intent in a lot of ways: You have a think tank in every state and all they do is come up with these very, very regressive policies, you have corporations who are going to benefit so they fund it all, and then you have the legislators as your foot soldiers to carry out the tasks.”

Theresa Riley asked “What were you impressed by?”

Chris Taylor:

“I was really impressed by their infrastructure. I mean, we would never duplicate something like this on the left because, first of all, we would never take instructions from corporations, but the coordination that they have between these policy think tanks, the money and the legislators, in terms of just driving an agenda, it’s incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it…

It is a well-oiled machine. They’re really organized, they’re really coordinated and they have the resources. And they’re not afraid to push it when they have the opportunities. Now they have 24 state legislatures that are Republican controlled and they have Republican governors. So they’ve had incredible success. They’ve had 71 bills introduced just this year that make it harder for most people who are injured to access the courts. We’ve certainly seen that here in Wisconsin. That was one of the first things that Walker did when he came in was push this tort reform through…

They have been waiting for 40 years to do some of the things they’re doing right now. They’ve been developing these model policies, making these connections and building these relationships, and when they had an opportunity, like right here in Wisconsin, they pushed it.”

Be Very Afraid.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Republicans WON’T suffer Backlash from Voters if they Shut Down the Federal Government

Riiight.  These are the same dickwads who said Mitt Romney would win by a landslide last November.  And Obamacare would be overturned by the Supreme Court.  And now that Obamacare hasn’t been overturned, it’s such a “train wreck” that it’ll just collapse under its own weight.

Heritage Action for America is trying to convince reluctant Republicans lawmakers that it’s OK to shut down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare.  They have a poll showing that the GOP can shut down the government and NOT suffer any consequences in the 2014 election.  [see previous paragraph]

Come on, GOP.  Do it.  Take the plunge.  Shut down the government.  Jump.  Crash and Burn.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013


When you first read about SkyTruth you might be thinking “Big Brother Is Watching You.”  The linked article starts out with:

“Somewhere in the South Pacific, thousands of miles from the nearest landfall, there is a fishing ship. Let’s say you’re on it. Go onto the open deck, scream, jump around naked, fire a machine gun into the air — who will ever know? You are about as far from anyone as it is possible to be.

But you know what you should do? You should look up and wave.  Because 438 miles above you, moving at 17,000 miles per hour, a polar-orbiting satellite is taking your photograph. A man named John Amos is looking at you. He knows the name and size of your ship, how fast you’re moving and, perhaps, if you’re dangling a line in the water, what type of fish you’re catching.”

But it’s all good.  SkyTruth is a small nonprofit group in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, headed by geologist John Amos.  Amos says:

“You can track anything in the world from anywhere in the world.  That’s the real revolution.”

Just a few examples of “anything” would include illegal fishing in the South Pacific, fracking in rural Pennsylvania or mountaintop removal throughout Appalachia.

The linked article continues:

“Amos is, by many accounts, reshaping the postmodern environmental movement. He is among the first, if not the only, scientist to take the staggering array of satellite data that have accumulated over 40 years, turn it into maps with overlays of radar or aerial flyovers, then fan it out to environmental agencies, conservation nonprofit groups and grass-roots activists. This arms the little guys with the best data they’ve ever had to challenge oil, gas, mining and fishing corporations over how they’re changing the planet.”

The research director for Greenpeace says:

“John’s work is absolutely cutting-edge.  No one else in the nonprofit world is watching the horizon, looking for how to use satellite imagery and innovative new technology.”

The executive director of the Upper Green River Alliance says John Amos’ maps “visualize what can’t be seen with the human eye — the big-picture, long-term impact of environment damage.”

For more information, check out the SkyTruth website.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Art Pope: the Biggest Douchebag You’ve Never Heard Of

Art Pope is sort of a one-man Koch Brothers.  He’s been using his inherited wealth to single-handedly take North Carolina from the 21st century back to the early 1800s.

Here’s some more information on Art Pope.

I’ve done several posts about North Carolina’s lurch to the Far Right, but I hadn’t realized the whole process was being financed by one person.  As Bill Maher said:  “North Carolina is going apeshit in a way no state ever has.  Take every crazy angry idea your drunk right-wing uncle mumbles at Thanksgiving, turn it into a law, and that’s North Carolina today.”

In an interview with the Raleigh News & Observer, Bill Maher talked about North Carolina’s backward mutation as an example of the devastating impact of Citizens United:

“It certainly had a huge impact the last election when you saw the kind of money spent — just by me!  But Obama won, so the people who were supposed to steal the election didn’t because the Democrats scared up enough of their own PAC money to scrape by.  But not at the local level, like in North Carolina. Look at Art Pope, one man was basically able to take over the entire state. And the sad thing is it wasn’t even all that expensive. It should have cost more than it did.”

Maher’s description of Art Pope:

“He’s super-rich, super-anti-union, anti-tax, anti-big government, thinks government should have absolutely no role in helping the less fortunate, who should earn their money the same way he did — by inheriting it from their dad.”

North Carolina’s legislature has been controlled by Republicans for awhile, but until this year the state had a Democratic governor who kept vetoing the nonstop tide of Tea Klux Klan legislation.  Now that North Carolina has a Republican governor — Patrick McCrory — well, as Bill Maher said, the state “is going apeshit in a way no state ever has.”

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

“Medicare For All” would Save Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a Year

OK, so it’s just a pipe dream.  The health insurance industry will never ever allow its congressional prostitutes to pass a law that saves lives AND saves hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

But as long as we’re daydreaming: the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, HR 676, has been introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. and has forty-five co-sponsors.  As the name implies, this bill would expand Medicare to include all Americans of all ages.  A Canadian/European-type Single Payer system, in other words.

According to Gerald Friedman, a University of Massachusetts economics professor, this law would save approximately $592 billion during its first year, and $1.8 trillion over the next decade.  During the first year, this law would save $476 billion by reducing the administrative waste and inefficiency associated with private health insurers.  Reduced drug prices would save an additional $116 billion.  The drug price savings would be made possible by the government’s increased bargaining power when negotiating with pharmaceutical companies.  (And that’s another reason this law doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell.)

Gerald Friedman said:

“These savings would be more than enough to fund $343 billion in improvements to our health system, including the achievement of truly universal coverage, improved benefits, and the elimination of premiums, co-payments and deductibles, which are major barriers to people seeking care…Paradoxically, by expanding Medicare to everyone we’d end up saving billions of dollars annually.  We’d be safeguarding Medicare’s fiscal integrity while enhancing the nation’s health for the long term.”

The savings would also be more than enough to pay for the retraining of insurance company employees whose jobs will be eliminated when investor-owned profit-driven health insurance companies have gone the way of debtors’ prisons and the Salem Witch Trials.

Or we can just keep telling sick people to curl up and die and get out of the way.

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Pope Francis: Too Much Bleeding Heart Socialism, Not Enough Fire and Brimstone

What’s up with the new Pope?  Pope Francis doesn’t hate homosexuals, and on top of that he actually talks about economic inequality.

He recently tweeted:  “My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centered mindset bent on profit at any cost.”

Commie!  Why does he hate America?!?!?!?

A University of New Haven professor of marketing and international business said:

“Like many people, he thinks capitalism won't survive unless it decreases income disparity.  I think it's fair to say he's arguing for a more European version of capitalism going forward, especially after the Great Recession, so there's more of a safety net for people when they need it.”

According to an online entrepreneur who connects small-business owners with financing:

“His comments are of high importance to me.  The kind of issues he's talking about are too often ignored by religious and business leaders.”

A College of the Holy Cross professor of religious studies said:

“Being a Jesuit priest and having spent so much time in Argentina as bishop and cardinal had a great effect on him.  He's seen a lot of poverty close up and raised the issue in Argentina before becoming pope.”

However, if you still believe in an angry god who hates sinners and poor people, you haven’t been forgotten.  Bill Donohue, president (and only member) of the Catholic League, continues to speak out on behalf of the dwindling subspecies Biblehumpus Americus:

“Personally, I’m much more market friendly, as was John Paul II.”

And we can always count on Rick “Abortion Cooties” Santorum for our daily fire and brimstone fix.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013


1.  Groundswell:  A sudden gathering of force, as of public opinion:  e.g. a groundswell of antiwar sentiment.

2. Groundswell:  A shadowy gang of rightwing zealots working behind the scenes to generate talking points and organize smear campaigns against Democrats and moderate Republicans.

Clever name — sort of like all those orchestrated choreographed “demonstrations” against health care reform a few years ago.  Manufactured outrage is one of Groundswell’s specialties.  If you’re enjoying the mass hysteria over Benghazi — and the tinfoil hat conspiracy theories about a huge cover-up — you can thank Groundswell.

How far to the right is Groundswell?  They’re soooo far to the right, Karl Rove is one of the “moderates” they’re targeting.  [gulp]  Also, one of their members is Frank Gaffney, whose biggest claim to fame is accusing Grover Norquist of being a Muslim terrorist.

Like they say, everything’s relative.

Groundswell’s membership is a Who’s Who of the Teahad movement.  In addition to Frank Gaffney, members include:

Ginni Thomas (Clarence’s wife); John Bolton; high-ranking members of the Family Research Council, True The Vote and Judicial Watch; and a few journalists (using the term loosely) from Deadbart and the Washington Examiner.

Their goals — according to documents obtained by Mother Jones — include “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation.”

Just what we need, another Tea Klux Klan rally.


Monday, August 05, 2013

New Republican Game for the Uninsured: “Go Ahead, See if You can Find Your Obamacare Coverage”

Not to be confused with “Where’s Waldo” or Father Guido Sarducci’s “Find-a the Pope inna the Pizza” contest.  In this new Republican game, the stakes are much higher and that makes it more FUN.

As Alan Grayson once said, Republicans want sick people to hurry up and die and get out of the way.  And some red state legislators are backing up Alan Grayson’s statement by making it almost impossible for uninsured people to FIND the Obamacare coverage they’re legally entitled to.

First Prize goes to Missouri, popularly known as the “Show Me ‘Cause I’m Too Dumb to Figure It Out For Myself” state.  As you know, Obama’s Affordable Care Act requires each state to either set up its own health insurance marketplace, OR sit back and do nothing and let those socialist federal bureaucrats come in and set up the insurance marketplace.

Missouri is doing neither of the above.  On top of that, Missouri lawmakers have passed legislation making it illegal for state officials to provide “assistance or resources of any kind” to Missouri residents who are trying to enroll in the health coverage they’re already entitled to.

As the linked article says:  “Trying to figure out how to sign up for the plans that will be offered in Missouri’s insurance marketplace is like searching for a unicorn.”

Roughly 850,000 Missouri residents are uninsured.  A huge percentage of them are undoubtedly entitled to Obamacare coverage, but they have to be able to FIND it.

Missouri Republicans are not only screwing over the uninsured riffraff — they’re also sabotaging the health insurance companies who WANT to sell their product in Missouri.
The article quotes an insurance broker who’s totally stymied by Missouri’s “Betcha Can’t Find Your Obamacare Coverage” law:

“We have not seen any evidence of the federal exchange — how it will be run, how it will be structured in Missouri.  Will it be run from Jefferson City? Will it be run from Washington? Who will watch over it? No clue.”

Supposedly, Missouri Republicans have a pool going:  Let’s see how many uninsured Missouri residents will die before they can find their Obamacare coverage, tee hee hee.

Whoever wins the pool gets to blow the Koch Brothers.


Sunday, August 04, 2013

California Ordered to Release 10,000 Prison Inmates Because of Overcrowding

Two years ago a federal court ordered the State of California to release approximately 10,000 prison inmates, because the state’s overcrowded prisons violated the Constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

And just two days ago the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn the lower court ruling.  California now has until December 31st of this year to comply with the Court’s ruling by releasing eight percent of the state’s prison population — roughly 10,000 inmates.

Since a huge percentage of prisoners are doing time for non-violent drug offenses and other victimless “crimes,” it should be a no-brainer to find 10,000 inmates who could be released without jeopardizing “public safety.”  In addition, California has the country’s strictest Three Strikes law; i.e. a person’s third felony is an automatic life sentence in prison.  And make no mistake — a lot of Californians are doing life in prison because they shoplifted a candy bar (or a similarly “serious” felony) after already having  two prior felony convictions.

In other words, finding 10,000 non-violent inmates who could be released without jeopardizing public safety should be about as difficult as finding a few stoners at a Phish concert.

And yet California’s “leaders” are pulling their hair out and tying themselves in knots, trying to figure out how in God’s name they can possibly release 10,000 inmates.  This case is providing more ammunition for those who insist there’s “no difference” between the two parties.  California’s entire government is controlled by Democrats.  The Governor, both houses of the legislature and most — if not all — statewide elective offices are all Democratic.

I’m not quite there yet with the “no difference between the two parties” philosophy, but this case isn’t very encouraging.  If a red state was facing this same “dilemma,” thousands of pundits would be ridiculing the “leaders” of that state.  And rightly so.

Prisons are overflowing, dangerously crowded, and California has to release eight percent of the state’s prison population in order to comply with a Supreme Court ruling.  Come on geniuses, this isn’t rocket science.

Either come up with the obvious solution (see above), or hold a massive press conference where every politician has to simultaneously pick up a microphone and go “DUUUHHH!!!”


Friday, August 02, 2013

Rep. Charles Rangel: Teabaggers “Worse Than Terrorists”

New York Congressman Charles Rangel sees the teajobs for what they really are, and he Gives ‘Em Hell.  Regarding congressional Republicans’ determination to block and obstruct and derail everything, he says:

“What is happening is sabotage. Terrorists couldn’t do a better job than the Republicans are doing.”

His assessment of the Tea Party Caucus and their dumber-than-dirt useful idiots:

“It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police. They didn’t care about how they looked. It was just fierce indifference to human life that caused America to say enough is enough.”

Congressional teadroolers who turn on ANY Republican who disagrees with them on ANYTHING:

“And now my friend Peter King is on their hit list. Peter King, a Republican, is considered a goddamn communist.”

The GOP’s blind devotion to Supply Side Jesus (H/T to TomCat at Politics Plus):

“It has to do with whether or not in God we trust.  I don’t know how much God played a role in the country, but it is everywhere…And I used to be an altar boy so that I can say, if you are talking about Jews and Christians and probably Muslims and Mormons, there’s the whole idea that…we are supposed to help the aged and provide health care and give kids a break and do all of these good things.  What are we Democrats fighting for?  We are not fighting for salvation and going to heaven. But we are fighting for Medicaid, Medicare, health care, education, jobs, helping old folks. And I’ll be damned, besides same-sex marriage, I don’t hear the voice of the church. As a matter of fact, the pope is talking he can’t judge gays. Well, damn it to hell, ask for another message from God. Here we were born. I mean, why is there a silence on old folks and a silence on poverty and a silence on kids?”


Thursday, August 01, 2013

The REAL Voter Suppression: Denying Felons the Right to Vote

Red states have gotten lots of well-deserved publicity from their slippery attempts to crack down on voter registration drives, early voting, extended voting hours, etc.  But far more votes are suppressed by not allowing felons to vote.

The same goal is achieved by both types of voter suppression:  keeping minorities and low-income people out of the voting booth.  But preventing ex-cons from voting has been much much more effective in achieving this agenda.

I’m guessing the main reason America’s prisons are such hellholes — by Western standards anyway — is that felons have absolutely no voice in our government.  No matter how many millions of them there are, no politician gives a flying fuck about them if they can’t vote.

Thanks to the War on Drugs (and other victimless “crimes”), felons are a sizable percentage of the U.S. population.  Perhaps they deserve a voice in the laws that put them behind bars in the first place.  I’m not referring to violent criminals, obviously — just the millions of felons whose only “crime” was to offend somebody’s “morals.”

The private prison industry is extremely lucrative, thanks again to our countless laws against victimless “crimes.”  The Prison Industrial Complex and the Talibangelical wing of the GOP would both have a lot less political influence if the people most affected by them could vote.

An ex-convict has the right to move next door to you, but he/she can’t vote?!?!?!?  Why???

This isn’t the case in most Western countries.  ProCon.org conducted a survey of the world’s forty-five democracies.  Twenty-one of these countries have absolutely NO restrictions on felons’ voting rights.  Out of the remaining twenty-four countries, only FIVE of them are denying the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentence:  Armenia, Belgium, Chile, Finland and the United States.

I’m surprised to see Belgium and Finland in that category.  Chile, Armenia and the United States — it figures.

In my ongoing effort to be optimistic and see the glass as half full:  If we start putting corporate/financial criminals behind bars, maybe our “elected” “representatives” would suddenly get concerned about felons’ voting rights.

But alas, the glass if half empty.  I just remembered:  during the height of the Watergate scandal, somebody quipped that “prison reform” would be a side effect of having Nixon’s henchmen marching off to prison in droves.

How’d that work out for us?  Suddenly we had a new category of “non-violent” minimum security country clubs prisons for white collar criminals.  For everyone else, the Prison Industrial Complex just got stronger and stronger.

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