Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, September 29, 2014

“Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?”

That's the question asked by Judge James Wynn, who might be deciding whether or not to postpone North Carolina's voter suppression law until after the 2014 election.

A federal judge has already given the green light for North Carolina's voter suppression law (aka Jim Crow 2.0) to go into effect before the election.  But now the case is being heard by a panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  Hopefully they'll rule that North Carolina has to stay in the 21st century (or 20th anyway) until after the 2014 election.

And now back to the question posed by Judge James Wynn, one of the three judges on the panel:  “Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?”

Oh come on now, North Carolina does too want people to vote.  Just, you know, [ahem] certain people; the right people.  [wink]

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Clicktivism: Is It Making a Difference?

When you're perusing your daily avalanche of political e-mails and you “Click Here to tell the EPA to enforce already-existing clean air laws,” “Click Here to ask your senator to vote Yes/No on ________________” — you're practicing Clicktivism.

I like to think we're all making a tiny difference when we practice Clicktivism, even if each one of us is just a drop of water in the ocean.  As Mahatma Gandhi said:  “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it's very important that you do it.”

And this brings me to one of my pet rants:  When I'm doing my daily (or even more often) rounds of clicktivism, I click on Send/Submit ONLY when my name/e-mail/street address are already filled in.  Sorry, but come on, you sent me an e-mail — you already have my e-mail address.  Hello!!?!  If you call somebody up and ask what their phone number is, that person is probably gonna hang up on you.

It's already time-consuming enough, wading through dozens of e-mails regarding causes you believe in, and going Click...Click...Click...without typing in your name, e-mail address, street address and phone number over and over and over.

And there seems to be some sort of inverse/perverse ratio involved.  If the e-mail is regarding something you're mildly interested in and you're thinking “hmmm, yeah, I guess so,” they already have all your information filled in.  On the other hand, there's “Dear Tom:  There's only one wolverine left in the entire world, and he's going to be tortured to death if you don't sign this URGENT petition Right NOW” — followed by “Now, type in your first name, last name, e-mail address, street address, zip code, phone number...”  AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

But I digress...

Anyway, the linked article says Clicktivism doesn't really help; it just gives people a false sense that they're doing something, contributing something, making a difference.  If the person wasn't just sitting at their computer clicking away, he/she might actually go out there and do something.  Or maybe this same person wouldn't have been involved at all; wouldn't have been doing any political activity if it weren't for these online petitions.

Is the glass half full or half empty?


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

GOP Using Terror Threat for Campaign Fodder

You've gotta be kidding!

The 9/11 attacks happened on President George W. Bush's watch, AFTER Bush had received intelligence reports stating that Osama bin Laden was planning a terrorist attack inside the United States.

When Osama bin Laden was finally tracked down and killed, it was on President Obama's watch.

And yet the GOP is still pretending that Republicans have a better handle on foreign policy and national security.  Several congressional races are featuring ads that associate the Islamic terror threat with President Obama's “weak” leadership.

Notorious chickenhawk and former Playgirl pinup Scott Brown, running for the Senate, says in a commercial:

“Radical Islamic terrorists are threatening to cause the collapse of our country.  President Obama and Sen. Shaheen seem confused about the nature of the threat. Not me.”


What's he gonna do, go over to Syria and start pole dancing?

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Machine Guns, Silencers and Armored Vehicles for Local Police Departments

And ZERO training for local police officers in the proper use of all this advanced weaponry that the Pentagon has donated so generously.  Gee, what could possibly go wrong?


Friday, September 19, 2014

John Boehner: Will Work For Booze

House Speaker John Boehner (R—Jack Daniel's) has been echoing the Republican mantra that unemployed people don't really want to work; they just want to sit around all day and get free stuff from the government.

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Boehner said:

“This idea that has been born, maybe out of the economy over the last couple years, that you know, I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our country.  If you wanted something you worked for it.  Trust me, I did it all.”

He continued:

“I worked for this, and I'm gonna drink it.  And I'm gonna drink another one, and then another one, and another one...”

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

He Went Down on the NRA and Then They Didn't Pay Him

Senator Mark Pryor (D—Arkansas) didn't want to disappoint the NRA last year, so he voted against a bill requiring background checks before a person can purchase a gun online or at a gun show.  Even in Arkansas, most of Mark Pryor's constituents are in favor of these background checks.

But, Mark Pryor is up for re-election, and the NRA has more clout than a bunch of lowly voters who can't even afford to make a 7-figure campaign contribution.  It was a business decision.  Mark Pryor bent over for the NRA.  And in return, the NRA contributed $1.3 million — to Rep. Tom Cotton, Mark Pryor's opponent.

OUCH!!!  A call girl does $1.3 million worth of kinky things, and then her john gives his money to somebody else?!?!?!?

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wage Theft: a Multi-Billion-Dollar-A-Year Industry

We've all experienced and/or heard about these petty sleazy tactics:

A supervisor tells a subordinate Hey, before you clock in, you wanna grab one end of that crate?

An employee is given an ironclad deadline to finish a project, and the employee doesn't have enough scheduled hours to possibly meet this deadline.  The worker can either be disciplined for failing to meet the deadline, OR he/she can meet the deadline by working some unpaid overtime.

Employees are required to wear a uniform.  These uniforms are not provided by the employer.

These are three examples of wage theft.  According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), low-wage workers in the U.S. are being robbed of $50 billion a year by unscrupulous employers.  That was not a typo.  $50 billion every year stolen from those who can least afford it.

The three above examples of wage theft are all illegal under the Federal Labor Standards Act.  Some states and cities are trying to provide stricter enforcement of the Federal Labor Standards Act by giving more resources to investigators and making it easier for workers to file their complaints.

The EPI wants to provide stricter enforcement at the federal level, but that seems unlikely at the moment.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

When Satan Comes to Virginia, He'll be Disguised as a 16-year-old Girl Selling Donuts

The Devil takes many forms, and a Good Christian can never be too careful.  In the case of Front Royal, Virginia, Satan is working His Evil through the Naughty Girls Donut Shop, owned and operated by 16-year-old Tiana Ramos.  She's a high school senior and works at her shop before and after school.

I would have thought this kind of ambition and work ethic would be a good thing, but what do I know?

Naughty Girls Donut Shop has a 1950s theme, with rockabilly-style clothing worn by the employees and photos of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page adorning the walls.

Within a week of the store's opening, people started throwing garbage at the building and leaving nasty messages like “Naughty girls burn in hell.” 

Next, they started writing Yelp reviews to sabotage the store.  Natalie Ramos, Tiana's mother, said:

“They were talking about how the girls look like hussies.  They didn’t talk about the food or the service.”

And on Facebook and Twitter:

“They were saying that the shop represents sluts and anyone who works there is promiscuous.”

And a group called “Local Catholics of Front Royal” has organized a boycott of Naughty Girls Donut Shop.  Local Catholics of Front Royal is also boycotting a local newspaper that has provided extensive coverage of clergy sex abuse scandals and has been urging the town to overturn a longtime ban on fortune telling.  One resident of Front Royal said fortune tellers and similar businesses should continue to be banned because of “Satanism.”  She said:

“These kinds of businesses do tend to attract, in part, a criminal element.  I don’t like the idea of my kids walking down Main Street and having possibly criminal people lurking around.”

Tiana Ramos said she had hoped her store would be a refuge for people who were bullied at school and/or just didn't fit in with the rest of Front Royal.

When asked if she might relocate her store out of fear of the local Salem Witch Hunters, Tiana Ramos said:

“Heck no.  They’re the reason we’re staying here.”

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Complain About Fracking Pollution, Get Sued by Fracking Company

Let's see if I've got this straight now.  If you're able to set your well water on fire because of a nearby fracking operation, the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does NOT include the right to show pictures of your burning water on YouTube.  On the other hand, Free Speech does allow a corporation to spend billions of dollars to bribe Congress or purchase an election, even though no actual speech was involved.

Texas landowner Steve Lipsky has shown photos and a video of his flaming well water, courtesy of the fracking pollution caused by Range Resources.  The whole thing started in 2010 when Lipsky discovered he could ignite the water in his well and in the streams that run through his property.  He showed this on a YouTube video, and he was one of the people interviewed in Gasland Part II.  At first, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Range Resources to reimburse Lipsky for the cost of fresh drinking water.

But later, the EPA withdrew its order against Range Resources no reason given.  Next, the Texas Railroad Commission which oversees fracking in Texas said there wasn't enough evidence linking Range Resources to Steve Lipsky's flaming water.

And this paved the way for Range Resources to sue Steve Lipsky for defaming the company's reputation for environmental stewardship.  Steve Lipsky's attorney said:

“Range has a right to protect its reputation, but the speech they’re complaining about is protected speech.  If we’re going to allow companies to sue people for defamation every time they don’t like what’s being said, then that basically allows corporations to silence public participation.  Defending yourself against a big company is a daunting task for most people.  Range is showing it’s willing to try to ruin someone with litigation.”

As you probably guessed, Range Resources has not responded to reporters' requests for comment.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Senate Democrats have Voted to DESTROY the Constitution!!!

For the short-term goal of silencing the Koch Brothers, Senate Democrats voted yesterday to destroy America and everything She stands for.

Sure, on the surface it seems like a good idea:  Overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling so a few billionaires can't keep derailing everything the people want.   But that's just short-term, here-and-now reasoning, with no concern for the long-term implications.

In a word:  Freedom.

If these Nanny-State Welfare-Coddling Safety-Hammock Democrats are able to stop the Koch billionaires from purchasing elections today, who will they go after tomorrow?  Didn't think of that, didja?!?

Everyone who is rejoicing over yesterday's Senate vote to silence the Koch Brothers should think long and hard about that heartbreaking poem from Nazi Germany:

When they stopped the Koch Brothers from purchasing the government, I did nothing...then, when they came for me...

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Meet the New Moderate Friendly People-Oriented Republican Party

At least until they take over the Senate.

What's happened to the Teahad/Biblehumping/Chickenhawk wing of the Republican Party?  The GOP's Impeach Obama Tourette's Syndrome seems to be in remission.  Same with their embarrassing Benghazi tic, where every sentence consisted of a noun, a verb and Benghazi.  Until recently, the GOP was determined to investigate Benghazi — and investigate and keep investigating and then investigate some more — until they finally uncovered that secret e-mail where President Obama and al Qaeda were masterminding every detail of the Benghazi attack.  What happened?

When was the last time the House voted to repeal Obamacare?  Or threatened to shut down the government unless Obama withdraws the Affordable Care Act, dismantles the EPA, resigns from office and commits suicide on national TV?

And now Republicans are even toning down their War on Women.  At least three Republican candidates for the Senate — Thom Tillis, Cory Gardner and Ed Gillespie — have announced that they support women's over-the-counter access to birth control.  Jerry Falwell is turning in his grave!

Thom Tillis told a debate moderator:

“I actually agree with the American Medical Association — we should make contraception more widely available.  I think over-the-counter oral contraception should be available without a prescription. If you do those kinds of things it will actually increase the access and reduce the barriers for having more options for women for contraception.”

Aww shucks, the GOP has really come around.  They're no longer beholden to corporate VIPs and rightwing demagogues; they actually care about regular everyday people.  Isn't this great?!?   I guess it won't matter now if Republicans win the Senate in November.  If they do, they'll work with the President instead of trying to sabotage his every move.  They finally understand that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and they'll do everything in their power to make health insurance available to their constituents.

OK, Charlie Brown:  Lucy will hold the football while you come running in and kick it as hard as you can.  She's promised not to yank it away this time.

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

U.S. Mexico Border is now SAFE — from Wildlife-Counting Biologists

In the Gardner Canyon area near Sonoita (just over the Arizona-Mexico border), a gang of armed-to-the-teeth-and-dumber-than-dirt militia members swooped in on some of them swarthy Meskins who were trying to sneak over the border. 

Only trouble is, they weren't illegal immigrants sneaking into the country.  As it turned out, these Rambo wannabes — riding ATVs and dressed in camouflage —  were waving their guns at a group of biologists who were counting bats and other wildlife.  DUUUHHH!!!

This article does not reflect on the people in this part of Arizona.  The above-mentioned armed inbreds were all from Colorado — just looking for a little adventure and excitement on that there Meskin border.  The local sheriff pointed out that the Gardner Canyon area is popular with campers and hikers — as well as biologists and conservationists — whose safety is jeopardized by these vigilantes.  He said:

“These people are completely out of their environment. They really don’t know the area. They don’t know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem.  We really don’t want them here...It can be a problem for them. It can be a problem for the people, just like in this particular case. Things could have gone terribly wrong.  They really don’t accomplish anything. They really don’t. With about 1,000 Border Patrol Agents here in Santa Cruz County, a little group of any militiamen are not going to make any difference at all. As a matter of fact, they’re going to get in the way and they could get hurt. Or they could hurt somebody else.”

It's kind of like those signs you used to see at some auto repair shops:  “Labor:  $30 an hour.  $45 an hour if you watch.  $60 an hour if you help.”

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Another Renewable Energy Source: E. coli

No shit; this is for real.  This is another energy source like solar and wind where we'll never have a shortage.

British and Finnish scientists have found a way to generate renewable propane from E. coli. It's still in the experimental stages right now, but then so were oil drilling technology and the horseless carriage at one time.

Patrik Jones, of the department of life sciences at Imperial College London, said:

Although we have only produced tiny amounts so far, the fuel we have produced is ready to be used in an engine straight away...We chose propane because it can be separated from the natural process with minimal energy and it will be compatible with the existing infrastructure for easy use...I hope that over the next five to 10 years we will be able to achieve commercially viable processes that will sustainably fuel our energy demands.

Every little bit helps.