Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Freedom Foundation will Back Up Its Rhetoric by Working on Labor Day

Now THAT'S dedication.  The Freedom Foundation a Washington State Astroturf group funded by the Koch Brothers and ALEC is going to live up to its union-busting rhetoric by having a work-in on Labor Day.

Oh My God, these guys are serious!  Tote that file!  Lift that briefcase!  Shuffle those papers!  And don't forget the ever-present danger of a paper cut.  There's a lot of grueling work involved if you want to sabotage the lives of people who actually work for a living.

Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe said:

“I can’t think of a problem in society that can’t be traced in some way back to the abuses of organized labor, so it would be hypocritical of us to take a day off on its behalf.”

The Freedom Foundation calls labor unions a disease that's running rampant in Washington State.

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat responded with:

“What’s odd about it, though, is that only 12 percent of American workers even belong to unions anymore. Yet we — I say ‘we’ because I’m in that 12 percent — somehow retain an almost supernatural mind-meld authority over the oppressed and hapless other 88 percent.”

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Some of the Money from Bank of America's Fraud Settlement will go to Pro-Homeowner Groups

Part of the money from Bank of America's token fraud “settlement” will be donated by the Justice Department to various pro-homeowner/neighborhood organizations.  Sounds like poetic justice to me.  And best of all, I learned about this from the ultra-rightwing Daily Caller, and they're pissed.  Good.

It's bad enough Bank of America skated away with a $16.6 billion fine.  To them, that's pocket change; nowhere near enough to deter future crimes.  And most of this $16.6 billion was “earned” on the backs of the former homeowners they ripped off, and/or it was donated to them by the taxpayers who bailed them out.

Groups benefiting from the proceeds of Bank of America's settlement include Operation Hope, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.  And some of the money will go to foreclosed homeowners — or those in danger of being foreclosed.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, sobbed to The Daily Caller:

“This is a wealth redistribution scheme disguised as a lawsuit.  And who benefits from the distribution? Interest groups the administration relies on, outside interest groups, allies and politicians in communities trying to benefit as well.”

Suck it up, Asshole. 

According to the Daily Caller article, these same organizations have also received some of the money from previous settlements against JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Countrywide Financial Corporation.

Works for me.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Reason for Legal Medical Marijuana

Strangely enough, it's also one of the main reasons the Powers That Be are desperately fighting to keep medical marijuana illegal.

Patients who use marijuana for medicinal purposes are less likely to become addicted to pharmaceutical painkillers.  Talk about a win win.  Isn't this great?  Who could possibly be against it?

In 2010, the states where medical marijuana was legal had about 1,700 fewer deaths from painkiller overdoses than they would have had if medical pot was still illegal.  According to the study led by Dr. Marcus Bachhuber:

“We found there was about a 25% lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths on average after implementation of a medical marijuana law.”

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Will Obama Negotiate with ISIS?

152658 600 ISIS Ransom cartoons

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Ebolanomics is the title of this article from the New Yorker

This is something that's been talked about off and on for decades an updated/global version of orphan diseases (diseases that are rare and hence there's no financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop a cure).

The world has been terrified/fascinated by the Ebola virus for at least 25 years, and yet no drug has ever been approved to treat it.  The reason, of course, is that most Ebola victims had the nerve to be poor and live in an undeveloped country.

Two million people a year die of malaria and tuberculosis, but the pharmaceutical industry puts more time and money into treating high cholesterol.  Another example:  Out of the roughly 1,500 drugs that were put on the market between1975 and 2004, exactly ten of these drugs were designed to treat Dengue and Chagas disease, which together have stricken more than a billion people worldwide.

This article isn't lashing out at the pharmaceutical industry.  We need a different business model that would make it profitable for a company to develop new drugs even if these drugs won't be used by millions of rich people.  Instead of being granted a patent on their drugs and charging sky-high prices, companies would be given a prize for the new drug they've developed.  From the linked article:

“The government would make a payment or a stream of payments to the company, and in exchange the company would give up the right to sell the product. The drug company would get paid, and would avoid all the expenses of trying to push a new product...Society would get a new drug, and public-health officials would be able to control how it was promoted and used.”

These prizes have already been widely used for numerous technological breakthroughs.  Just one example:  an arsenic filter for drinking water.  Prizes are:

“...cost-effective, since you have to pay only if the product works. They’re well suited to encouraging investment in public goods—like antibiotics and vaccines—where the benefits of an innovation aren’t reaped only by those who use it. (My family is safer if yours is vaccinated.) They rely on existing infrastructure. And, in economic jargon, they harness market forces by 'pulling' research into neglected areas.  [from the linked article]

I think it's worth a try.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Michigan State Senate's Top Priority: Wipe Out the Last Wolf

A few days ago, the Michigan State Senate held an emergency one-day session.  You know, the Rust Belt's unemployment rate is through the stratosphere, Detroit is pretty much on fire, etc.  Except, the Michigan Senate only voted on one issue, which is apparently much more urgent.

Michigan has two competing ballot measures both concerning trophy hunting of wolves   coming up in the next election.  Both initiatives already have more than enough valid signatures to qualify.  One initiative being promoted by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, among other groups would maintain protection for Michigan's small wolf population.  The other initiative would allow the trophy hunting of wolves.  And there's more:  this other pro-hunting initiative would not only allow trophy hunters to ejaculate all over the wilderness it would permanently lock in the rights of trophy hunters to hunt and shoot and kill wolves forever; to ejaculate all over themselves 'til they collapse in ecstasy.  This initiative would be irreversible, with no chance of ever being changed or over-ridden.

Basically, if one side wins, they've won a battle.  If the other side wins, they've won the war and annihilated the enemy.   If the 49ers beat the Seahawks, both teams congratulate each other and go on to the next game.  If the Seahawks beat the 49ers, every player on the 49ers will get kneecapped and blinded before the next game.  Or something.

Anyway, so we have two totally different mindsets; two opposing initiatives on the ballot.  Michigan voters will make this decision.  Right?

And this is why the Michigan Senate held their emergency one-day session.  They voted Yes on a bill which is identical to the pro-trophy-hunting initiative.  Presto!  The pro-hunting initiative is now the law, and the wolf protection initiative has just evaporated into thin air.  Poof!  It never existed.  And that's not all:  the trophy hunters' rights bill is technically an appropriations bill, which means it can't ever be overturned by a referendum.

This legislative sleaze is all legal under the Michigan Constitution.  Legal, but about as slippery and underhanded as anyone can get.

The Michigan House will be taking up this issue on August 27th.  Let's hope they have a little less contempt for voters than their counterparts in the state senate.

Here is a link to the Humane Society's website, where I first heard about this.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Third World Tinpot Dictators Scold United States over Human Rights Violations


How can they say this about The Greatest Country In The World the Beacon of Freedom?!?

In the ongoing civil war between the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri and the occupying army (formerly known as the Ferguson Police Department) China, Russia, Egypt and Iran are all taking potshots at the United States of America.

And of course those limp-wristed bed-wetters over at Amnesty International had to get in on the act:

The United States can't tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won't clean up its own human rights record.

Oh go hug a tree, you bunch of simpering sissies.

And let's answer, for once and for all, the vicious rumor that America imprisons more people than any other country in the world.  Balderdash!  Those people aren't prisoners.   They're just a bunch of un-American subversives who Hate Freedom.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Protection for Manatees vs. the Koch Brothers

A euphemistically named organization called Save Crystal River is trying to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove all protections for manatees.  Because property rights.

Save Crystal River has petitioned twice! the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove all manatee protection in Kings Bay.  Both petitions were denied.  But like a cat that keeps jumping up on the table no matter how many times you push him off, Save Crystal River is baaack.  This time they're suing the federal government, and they're being bankrolled by the deep pockets of the Pacific Legal Foundation.

And the Pacific Legal Foundation is one of umpteen jillion Astroturf front groups for...drumroll...the Koch Brothers.

When I lived in California, it seemed like every time there was a conflict between a developer and a local environmental ordinance, some shadowy group called the Pacific Legal Foundation would step in and offer free legal counsel to the developer.  Food stamps for millionaires, you might say.

At the time I'd never heard of the Koch Brothers, but it turns out that the Pacific Legal Foundation for that matter, most organizations that are called __________ Legal Foundation is indeed one of the Koch Brothers' front groups.

Is there any environmental cause the Koch Brothers aren't trying to sabotage?

(It was a rhetorical question.)

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Should Anonymous Reveal the Identity of Homicidal Ferguson Cop?

The online hacktivist group Anonymous says they have the name of the Ferguson, MO police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.  As you'd expect, the Ferguson police department is claiming Anonymous has the wrong name (what else would they say?).

Should Anonymous release this name to the public, and take a chance on having an innocent person suffer from possible retaliation?  Online hacktivist groups shouldn't act as judge, jury and executioner any more than police officers should.

Then again, why should the name of this Ferguson cop be withheld from the public?  The names of accused criminals unless they're under 18 are routinely made public.  Why should an inept trigger-happy police officer be held to a different standard?

And this article The fiasco in Ferguson shows why you don't give military equipment to cops makes an excellent point:  The constant refrain about the militarization of police departments is NOT accurate.  As the author says:

The great irony of this story is that the military itself would never behave so crudely. And that is precisely why it is beyond reckless to let a bunch of local cops get their hands on a high-grade military arsenal.

Exactly.   Military personnel have been trained in conducting precise high-risk operations and in the use of advanced weapons; most local police officers have not.  Giving a high-grade military arsenal to a local police department is like giving a cigarette lighter to a 4-year-old and saying Here, go play in the barn.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Teabagger's Prayer: Lord, Please Smite Those Evil Moderate Republicans

Mississippi Tea Party chairman Roy Nicholson opened a recent meeting with the following prayer:

Love thy neighbor.  Judge not lest ye be judged.

“We ask for your blessing upon the conservatives in this state, that they might stand strong and firm.  Father, we even ask for you to bless our enemies, and Lord they are truly our enemies that head the Republican Party and the whole political establishment.

We’re asking, Father, for two things.  We’re asking, Father, that you would expose them, set division amongst them, set them one against another, bring confusion and fear into their camp, into their thinking, for the purpose of pulling them down, for casting them down out of their high offices and reducing them, Lord, to having no power in this state.

“So, Lord, that you might raise up and seek the righteous in the positions of power that this state might once more be a state that honors you in all that it does.”


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Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams


This is un-fuckin'-real.  Suicide?!? Who knew he was suffering from severe depression, as the news is reporting.

We've all probably seen jillions of his movies, TV shows and standup comedy performances.  I wouldn't even know where to begin.  The Happy Days episode where he first appeared as Mork Mork and Mindy was a spinoff from that episode was as funny and zany as anything he ever did.  Not long after that I saw an HBO presentation of his standup act.  In addition to being gut-bustingly hilarious, he had so many rapid-fire one-liners and voices and imitations, he sounded like a one man Firesign Theater.

And he was as versatile as anyone.  I think Moscow on the Hudson was his first non-comedy film (unless Dead Poets Society came first).  And he played a great villain in Insomnia.  




If the Republicans Win the Senate: the Bright Side

I still hope (that's putting it mildly) that the Democrats keep the Senate this November.  But in case the unthinkable should happen, this article Why the GOP should tank the midterms provides a silver lining.

If the Senate goes Republican, the GOP still won't have anywhere near enough votes to convict Obama when/if the House votes to impeach him.  It takes 67 votes to convict, and there isn't a snowball's chance in Hell of the Republicans capturing anywhere near that many Senate seats.

Sure, they'll bring all future nominees to a screeching halt, and they'll be rubberstamping hundreds of corporate/rightwing bills that Obama will have to veto.  But, the GOP civil war will be more prominent and more blatant than ever.  The constant shrieking and namecalling between the Teajad and the moderate/corporate-funded Republicans will be front and center.  

Referring to the GOP's better-than-even chance of winning the Senate, the linked article says:

This should terrify Republicans.  Look into Speaker John Boehner's exasperated eyes and think about how much he has suffered the last two years trying to contain his tea–crazy Republican caucus. Now double it. Then add an extra dose of Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. And then take away the ability to blame Harry Reid for the failure to get any Republican bills passed in the Senate.

Add it all up, and what you get is not a glorious triumph of a unified army on an unstoppable march to the White House, but an expansion of the GOP civil war into a two-front bicameral battle...

What can Boehner and his Senate counterpart possibly propose to position the party for a general election in 2016 that won't be mocked and blocked by the Tea Party?
Something to look forward to IF the unthinkable happens.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

News Team Robbed while Reporting on App that identifies “Sketchy” Neighborhoods

 Shouldn't be funny, but...

A Washington, D.C. news crew was reporting on an app that identifies “sketchy” neighborhoods.  They were in a neighborhood that the app identified as “sketchy,” and while they were interviewing residents of this neighborhood — their van was robbed.

“Magnetizing your thoughts into physical reality.”  “What I feared most has come to pass.”  Etc.

Let's hope nobody decides to do a story on road rage — while they're driving.


Friday, August 08, 2014

Russian Hackers: the Upside

Mike Keefe Editorial Cartoon

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Should President Obama Crack Down on Corporate Inversions?

It was a rhetorical question — i.e. YES.

A corporate inversion is when a large American corporation purchases a much smaller company in a foreign country, and then pretends that it's “relocated” to this other country in order to benefit from that country's lower tax rate.  These American, er I mean “foreign” companies still get all the benefits of America's taxpayer-financed infrastructure and patent protection; they just don't have to pay for it.

Senate Republicans have already filibustered a bill that would have cracked down on corporate inversions.  It's time for another Executive Order, and just in time for the midterm elections.  If the Democrats can't make political hay out of this, they deserve to lose.  Or maybe there's a huge public groundswell of empathy for multi-trillion-dollar corporations that still haven't received enough handouts from U.S. taxpayers, and I just wasn't aware of it.

Senators Richard Durbin, Jack Reed and Elizabeth Warren have sent a letter to President Obama saying:

“Although we will continue to work toward a legislative solution to the problem, we urge you to use your authority to reduce or eliminate tax breaks associated with inversions.  Yet these companies claim to be foreign corporations when it’s time to pay their tax bill – denying the United States billions of dollars in tax revenue and thereby increasing the tax burden on other U.S. taxpayers.”

According to a former U.S. Treasury official, Obama could invoke a 1969 tax law to remove the incentive for these corporate inversions.  He said Obama not only can do this, but he should do it ASAP in order to prevent further corporate inversions that are in the works as we speak.

Conservatives argue that instead of crushing the Freedom of corporations (they're people, after all), the U.S. should compete with these other countries by lowering America's corporate tax rate.  The three above-named senators answer this argument with:

“Companies will still chase lower tax rates in jurisdictions like Ireland where the corporate tax rate is 12.5 percent.  This is a race to the bottom the United States simply can’t win and should not be lured into entering.”

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Monday, August 04, 2014

November 4th Election Postponed because of Gerrymandered Congressional Districts

Well, probably not.  But according to Florida Judge Terry Lewis, this COULD really happen. Last month, Judge Lewis held that Florida's gerrymandered congressional map violated the state Constitution.  This is based on the fact that 17 out of 27 House seats went Republican on the same day that the state as a whole voted Democratic (i.e. re-electing Obama).  And just two days ago Judge Lewis issued a new order “suggesting, without outright concluding” (from the linked article) that the unconstitutional map may not be used in the upcoming midterm election.  Florida's 2014 congressional election could actually be delayed.

In a rather telling response, Florida's top Republicans have indicated they won't appeal Judge Lewis' order; they're simply asking/groveling/begging him to delay the impact of his decision until after the November election.  (Say NO!!!)

In other words, “Yes I stole these items, but can I still take them home with me?   Pleeease???”

Nothing sadder than a bunch of sleazebags groveling and pleading not to be held accountable for their sleaze.

In Judge Lewis' order, he determined that Republican gerrymandering had transformed a bloc of four districts “from being four Democratic performing or leaning seats in early maps...to two Democratic and two Republican performing seats in the enacted map.”

Yup.  And these four Florida districts are a microcosm of our national disease.  This is exactly why the House of Representatives is dominated by Republicans even though, overall, a lot more Democrat than Republican votes were cast in the previous congressional election.

In Judge Lewis' order two days ago, he ordered the state legislature to “submit a remedial or revised map no later than noon on August 15, 2014...There is authority that both justifies pushing back the November 4th election date and suggests that logistically, it can be done. Under the circumstances before me, I believe that the law requires that I at least consider the possibility.”

Whether Judge Terry Lewis' order ultimately prevails or not, this should be a wakeup call to GOP sleazebuckets:  Their slippery tactics might start coming back to bite 'em.

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Missouri Voters: NO on Amendment 1

This coming Tuesday, Missouri residents will be voting on Amendment 1.  If passed, Amendment 1 (to the Missouri Constitution) will permanently invalidate every law protecting animal rights, the environment or consumers' safety.  Amendment 1 is being financed and promoted by Missouri Farmers Care, a grass-rootsy sounding front group for out-of-state agribusiness and commodities trading interests.  Their profits could be even higher if it weren't for those pesky anti-cruelty laws regulating factory farms and puppy mills.

Knowing that the general public isn't all warm and fuzzy over the profits of large industrial farming operations, the proponents of Amendment 1 are promoting it as a “right to farm” bill.  If Amendment 1 is a “right to farm” bill, the Ku Klux Klan isn't racist; they're just extremely proud of their own ethnic heritage.

Most farmers the ones who aren't running huge industrial operations and most Missouri newspapers are against Amendment 1.  In addition to factory farms and puppy mills, Amendment 1 will also protect the rights of deer “farmers” to keep offering those canned “hunts” for castrated “sportsmen.”

Some of the financing for Amendment 1 has come from illegal contributions.  Big Ag and commodities interests have been using funds that they are legally allowed to spend only on promoting their products, not lobbying for or against legislation.  A member of the HSUS Missouri Agriculture Council said:

“There simply is no way this adds up.  The organizations working for the corporate interests based in New York and Beijing will apparently stoop to any low to push the Missouri family farmer off the land. They need to be held accountable to us as Missouri family farmers who pay this type of federal tax on every pig sold. We deserve to know if they have illegally used our own money to lobby against the interests of family farmers.”

And speaking of corporate sleaze, another large contributor to Amendment 1 is  Forrest Lucas, a multi-millionaire from Indiana.  His mission in life is to spend his inherited millions fighting every proposed anti-animal-cruelty law he can find.  Somewhere in a parallel universe, Forrest Lucas is confined to a cage just slightly bigger than he is.  When he's finally released and barely able to stagger out, he'll be shot by a “hunter.”

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