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Stacking The Deck Again (Still): The GOP's War On Voting Rights

  • Posted on: 6 March 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

In a piece posted to ThinkProgress by Kevin Donohoe titled REPORT: In 22 Statehouses Across the Country, Conservatives Move to Disenfranchise Voters, a disturbingly familiar bit of news:

In statehouses across the country, Republican lawmakers are raising the specter of “voter fraud” to push through legislation that would dramatically restrict the voting rights of college students, rural voters, senior citizens, the disabled and the homeless. As part of their larger effort to silence Main Street, conservatives are pushing through new photo identification laws that would exclude millions from voting, depress Hispanic voter turnout by as much as 10 percent, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Excerpt from Kevin Donohoe's ThinkProgress pieceToday's GOP, coupled with the extreme insanity of their Tea Party brethren, has steadfastly pursued an accelerated agenda since they were able to reclaim some of their lost power through the last the election cycle. The previous decade of corruption and abuse, diminished civil rights and undermined social safety nets set the stage. Now, apparently panicking at the thought that they nearly saw all of their dismantling of the New Deal un-done with the transfer of power in the 2008 election cycle, they're scrambling to disable what elements they can and rig anThe ything else that could enhance their chances of keeping their claws on the levers of American power.

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Buckle Down: The Last Doughboy v. John Boehner

  • Posted on: 4 March 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Yet again, the Republican "leadership" in Congress shows its true colors - not the red-white-and-blue of the national flag, but the rancid darkness that runs through the veins of the thin-skinned political hacks that are doing their utmost to keep the nation and her people foundering in a mess created by a decade of Republican-spawned (and protected) malfeasance.

I'll let the words of blonde moment from Daily Kos tell the tale:

Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 08:52 AM PST

Your help needed! Boehner denies national honor to "the last doughboy"

by blonde moment

Frank Buckles, the very last American soldier to serve in the Great War - the War to End All Wars - that is, World War I, passed away Sunday, Feb. 27, at the venerable age of 110.

Now John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has denied requests by Republicans and Democrats alike that Mr. Buckles, representing an entire past generation, be given the signal honor of lying in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

Without explanation.

I know there's no explanation, because I called Mr. Boehner's office to ask why the request was turned down. The #$%#*& who took my call said he didn't know why.

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Choosing The Low Road: Walker And Wisconsin Have Other, Better Options

  • Posted on: 27 February 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

 

There's an excellent piece in Saturday's online edition of the Journal Sentinel by Marc Levine (hat-tip Jim Starowicz via Deb Romilly on Facebook). It's called You heard it here first: Tax the rich and solve budget shortfall. Right off the bat, he equates the Walker budget and refusal to consider any other options as exactly what they are: class warfare. The piece has a mix of straightforward and sarcastic elements that make it even harder-hitting:

The immediate crisis, according to Walker, is a $137 million shortfall in the current biennial budget. "We're broke; we don't have the money," says the governor, and only slashing the compensation and bargaining rights of public employees can get us through the crisis. (Let's ignore for the moment the inconvenient fact for Walker's "we're broke" trope that at the same time he was slashing compensation for teachers, he was increasing the deficit by bestowing $117 million in business tax breaks.)

Levine then goes on to point out

Rather than attacking the living standards of middle class teachers, prison guards and health care workers, Wisconsin policy-makers can easily close this budgetary gap - and reduce surging inequality in the state - by temporarily raising taxes on the superwealthy and corporations.

But, of course, that's not what Walker wants. He wants to further reduce corporate taxes. Levine's done his homework, tho, and provides some references to economist Dean Baker's facts, figures and reasoning that any such tax hike need only be temporary. Levine sums it up nicely toward the end (emphasis mine):

In short, contrary to the governor's repeated claims, Wisconsin does have options. Walker has made a choice: He would rather mandate 8% compensation cuts on teachers and abolish collective bargaining than levy a temporary 1.5% income surcharge on the superwealthy. Walker's choice, however, damages the state's social fabric, contributes to growing inequality in the state, and harms our prospects for future economic prosperity. [...snip...]

To be sure, Wisconsin still needs to manage a $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-2013 budget cycle. But rather than trying to meet that challenge by attacking middle-class workers and by gutting spending on, say, public education, we would be better served by a balanced plan that makes spending cuts where they would be prudent, and raises revenues in ways that reduce inequality and are least damaging to the most vulnerable.

Amen to that.

You can find the full piece at the jsonline website. Go read it, and share it widely. Thank you.

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Let's Play "Une fausse piste: Sardonic Sweetmeat Edition"

  • Posted on: 24 February 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

It appears that the influx of new Republican governors and bolstered numbers in both Congress and various state legislatures has led to a merry round of "screw the people" all under the faux auspices of budgetary due-diligence and fiscal responsibility. The biggest, most blatant example of GOP (and teabagger) hypocrisy is currently front-paged on DailyKos, neatly summarized with a side-helping of snark:

With all of the crocodile tears Republicans are shedding over the budget, you'd think they'd be more concerned about publicly wasting the taxpayers' dollars because Fitzgerald heard a rumor.

This, of course, has to do with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) sending Wisconsin State Troopers to the homes of the "missing" 14 Senate Democrats this morning. And it reminds me of a game...

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The Immortalization of William "Bill" O'Reilly (SRSLY!)

  • Posted on: 20 February 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Yes, folks, it's true: Bill O'Reilly is becoming an immortal. But don't fret -- it's not like he'll become a stalwart bastion of conservative ideology. He's instead gone the way of "stalwart bastion of ridicule" and created an immortal (and hilariously appropriate) new internet meme:


The animated ORLY? You Can't Explain That.

A post over at GeekOSystem tells the story:

Last month, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly stepped into instant Internet infamy when, in a debate with American Atheists president David Silverman, O'Reilly attempted to prove the existence of God by citing the mystery of the tides: "I'll tell you why not a scam, in my opinion. Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that. You can't explain why the tide goes in." Only one problem: There's this thing called the Moon which might have a little to do with tides.

Bill-O wasn't expecting to actually get an answer, never mind a complete - and polite - utter smackdown. And now, he's achieved the ultimate in unintended consequences: he has, in his arrogance, created a meme that will likely survive him and find its way into a myriad of modern day pop-culture expressions.

Amazingly, I'll bet he can't explain that, either.

h/t Opinions Unrestrained.

 

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The Krugman Equation and Ending Political Theater To Save A Nation's Economy

  • Posted on: 18 February 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Paul Krugman's OpEd in The New York Times yesterday, titled "Willie Sutton Wept," makes a few very important points for anyone who's truly interested in learning about the factors affecting our current budget 'crunch' and the ongoing debates on what to cut. (Read it here.) He makes three points about the current "budget debate" right off the bat, summarized in my bullet list below:

  1. It's essentially fraudulent
  2. Self-proclaimed deficit "hawks" ~aren't~
  3. President Obama deserves a lot more credit for fiscal responsibility than he's been getting

Most of this boils down to the reality that the current budget "crisis" is ignoring the realities of what is impacting the economy the most, while the kabuki theater that the GOP is performing (and not performing alone) in the Potemkin village of our nation's capital isn't just for show -- it's also damaging our meager recovery. Krugman reiterates what we've already seen from looking at the CBO's numbers and from additional sources -- that the core costs which will rise sharply over the next few years will be from health insurance programs, not Social Security. And the lack of revenues from the additional taxes that we lost due to the tax cuts are making the whole situation much worse.

 

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Cataclysmic: The GOP's Politics Are Anathema To Good Government And Fiscal Responsibility

  • Posted on: 17 February 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Originally posted 2011-02-17 17:54:35 -0500. Bumped and promoted. -- GH

Yes, it's their strategy. It's part of their practiced meme, and nobody's called them on it. They rinse, repeat and repackage the same tired old b.s. time and again, increasingly ginning up greater crises and fomenting unrest while claiming that government is the problem, and they're the 'solution.'

And too many people keep falling for it.

Well, now maybe more people will begin to wake up and start remembering -- and keep telling each other to stay awake, stay alert and make it through the next election cycle with one goal intact: oust the GOP and their Teapublican buddies, once and for all, from all levels of government if you want to have at least an even chance of beginning to fix the mess that this merry-go-round has been generating.

 

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Friday Morning Open Thread: Monster Machine, Samsung SSD Edition

  • Posted on: 11 February 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

This is bloody awesome. I want one.

(Well, ok -- I want five.) Hat-tip to Devon in Acton for the heads-up.

So, what's your idea of a "monster machine"? And do you have it, or is it a pipe dream?

On an oddly related note1, this sucks. (Technically, as has been pointed out, it blows. Whatever.

Icelandic volcano 'set to erupt'

Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year's event.

[...click for full article...]

...the only thing that would suck more is to be Bobby Jindal and to have his comment about "something called volcano monitoring" thrown back in his face...again.

 

See our prior piece for a related story on last year's Icelandic eruption.

Whatever else you may do today, keep in mind: this is an Open Thread.

 

1 Oddly related because it was a thread about the volcano that led to my digging out the video about the monster machine created with 24 SSD drives. Go figure. :)

 

It's a practiced meme.

  • Posted on: 30 January 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

It's a practiced meme, one which those familiar with the GOP of today saw coming as early as 2004. During the Bush/Cheney fiasco, the GOP engaged in double-book accounting, hoping the inevitable economic disaster would hit AFTER their majority and WH left office -- but they were too greedy.

The habit of spending the country into a tailspin while using various budgeting and economic tricks to falsely stimulated a facade of 'growth' (one that would be the ultimate cause of the resulting collapse back within itself), then blame the other party that comes in to clean up the mess not only for making the mess in the first place but using the mess to further their agenda, restricting spending and cutting social service programs.

It's got to stop, folks.

They had their demands for "investigations" and "impeachment" sounding BEFORE Obama even took the Oath of Office -- what idiot would see and hear that, and still believe that the Republicans were intent on doing ANYTHING akin to actually working FOR the nation instead of actively against it?

They had fought any investigation of the lies that were unraveling which brought us to war in Iraq during their tenure, and steadfastly stood by the then-President Bush when he boldly announced that he had no exit strategy, and that would be something "for the next President" to clean up decide. Who didn't suspect that they intended to ensure that the high costs of war - TWO wars - would help seriously constrain the ability of that "next" President to curtail the spending and stem the bleeding from the GOP's reckless abandonment of duty, Constitutionality and humanity?

They've actively obstructed EVERY measure that the current Administration and the Democratic majority in Congress had tried to pass, and then lied some more in order to influence the weak-minded and the devastated into voting their incompetent, lying asses BACK into office, where they now have the capacity to do even more damage and to FURTHER obstruct any efforts to actually fix the nation's infrastrure, economy and health.

They've been lying repeatedly; the big lies of their candidates and pundits echo cavernously through the rapidly hollowing skulls of their followers and sychophants...and they are never, ever held accountable for the real, lasting and inhuman swath of destruction which their ongoing reign of (T)error wreaks across the planet.

 

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A Video From Protect Our Elections: Justice Thomas and False Statements

  • Posted on: 28 January 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

From ProtectOurElections.org,

__________

January 24, 2011- Today, we asked the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for making false statements on his Financial Disclosure forms every year since 2003 by falsely swearing under criminal penalty that his wife Virginia had no income. Justice Thomas signed these forms under oath after certifying that the information in them was true and accurate.

Virginia Thomas worked at the Heritage Foundation from 2003 through 2007 and earned at least $120,000 each year according to the foundation’s Form 990s. She is now working for Liberty Central in a paid position according to its CEO Sarah Field. Last Friday, Common Cause wrote to the Administrative Office of the Courts about this matter as was reported by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

__________

On a different, yet perhaps not too dissimilar a note, check out their call for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of secret money to influence elections. And remember, Common Cause has called into question whether Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia were ethically challenged by their involvement in the Citizens United ruling -- a ruling that Virginia Thomas may have benefited from:

>

__________

Justice Thomas' wife also may have directly benefitted from her husband's vote in Citizens United. In the months leading up to the decision, Virginia Thomas founded conservative organization Liberty Central, which used $500,000 in undisclosed money to support Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. In addition, for several years Thomas failed to list hundreds of thousands of dollars his wife earned from the conservative Heritage Foundation on Supreme Court financial disclosure forms.

Federal law requires a judge to "disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned," or when "his spouse…has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy…or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding," says Common Cause. Neither Scalia nor Thomas did so in Citizens United.

In these kinds of cases, the law asks: Would a reasonable person who was aware of the situation question Scalia and Thomas's impartiality in the Citizens United case?

__________

This looks like it certainly bears further investigation, and may help answer the question whether our Supreme Court Justices are above the law, or servants of it.

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Why I wince whenever I hear someone say "Break a leg!"

  • Posted on: 27 January 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Taken from one of my recent Facebook updates...crossposted to DailyKos. -- GH

I know that's considered good luck for those in the entertainment industry, but I wince whenever I see that now -- and particularly (perhaps most importantly), any derivative of "if you ever get hit by a bus/car/etc." ...

I was working... as a team leader in the healthcare industry, part of the IT department of a major PPO insurance plan managed care provider, and three days in a row I had three different individuals say to me "If you ever get hit by a bus, we're screwed."

 

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Hawk Invades Library of Congress for a Little Light Reading and Research

  • Posted on: 22 January 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Heh...dammit, caught on film...

Here's the lede from the Library of Congress blog, posted by Matt Raymond:

Watching Our Researchers Like A Hawk
by Matt Raymond

You know that poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Allan Poe? The one where a guy holes himself up in a room surrounded by books, only to be pestered by a bird looking over his shoulder? Yeah, that one.

[Photo by Abby Brack/Library of Congress; used w/o permission, but with grateful acknowledgment for a great shot. -- GH]

Well, a few of our researchers might have been getting a similar feeling lately, but on a much grander scale.

What one birder at the Library billed (no pun intended) as a Cooper’s Hawk–crowd-source a correction if I’m wrong–somehow recently got into the Library’s majestic Main Reading Room, and has been winging about ever since. It was first noticed by a patron looking dome-ward yesterday afternoon. I’ll include a few pictures here, taken by our very able Abby Brack.

Naturally, this event has prompted many questions, the most obvious of which being: How on Earth did a Cooper’s Hawk get into the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress?! I can’t answer that. But I can provide a few Q’s followed by a few A’s.

Article continues at link in title...

And I thought the stealth feather suite was working. Must've been on the blink due to storm damage...

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Thieves Guild: Keeping Tabs on the Big Banks

  • Posted on: 16 January 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

For those who may be wondering what some of our illustrious "big" banks might be up to -- well, you're not alone. Seems like some of the big banks, part of what I like to refer to as the thieves guild, are under some form of investigation:

  Bank Investigations Cheat Sheet

The main players?

  1. Citigroup
  2. Credit Agricole
  3. Credit Suisse
  4. Deutsche Bank
  5. Goldman Sachs
  6. JP Morgan Chase
  7. Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America)
  8. Morgan Stanley
  9. UBS

It's always good to keep a finger on these things...

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Stochastic Terrorism

  • Posted on: 11 January 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

There's a term for the type of "rhetorical" behavior we've seen increasingly used to stir the pot -- the same type of verbiage and same concept behind the "who will rid me of this meddlesome priest" talk that put an end to St. Thomas Becket.

It's a term describing the actions of domestic enemies, domestic terrorists, zealots and radicals -- you know, Republicans and Tea Baggers. It makes its home among the hallowed halls of inappropriate political discourse, and calls forth the lunatics from the fringe whenever enough critical mass can be built up to trigger bloodshed, violence, chaos and destruction.

It's called stochastic terrorism, and it's a doozy:

__________

Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.

This is also the term for what Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and others do.

[...snip...]

The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the "missile" set in motion by the stochastic terrorist. The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those "missiles" in motion.

Here's the mechanism spelled out concisely:

The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act. While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. "given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such"), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).

The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: "Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I'm not responsible for what people in my audience do."

The lone wolf who was the "missile" gets captured and sentenced to life in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and goes on to incite more lone wolves.

Further, the stochastic terrorist may be acting either negligently or deliberately, or may be in complete denial of their impact, just like a drunk driver who runs over a pedestrian without even realizing it.

Finally, there is no conspiracy here: merely the twisted acts of individuals who are promoting extremism, who get access to national media in which to do it, and the rest follows naturally just as an increase in violent storms follows from an increase in average global temperature.

__________

So, to answer the unasked question, "do you believe the constant, relentless use of violent imagery and rhetoric by Conservatives, Tea Partiers and their ilk is terrorism?" is "Yes. It's terrorism. A most insidious form of terrorism, with a long and bloody history."

OK? Good. Glad that's settled.

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Incitement to Violence: Murder, Mayhem and the Republican Way

  • Posted on: 8 January 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Sarah Palin had the following "target list" on her website:


Image posted by Matt Yglesias via Twitter (@mattyglesias)

It was deleted from her website following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Nice going, Sarah. Are you happy now?

How are those "second amendment remedies" looking now?

 

Just another fine example of inappropriate political discourse in use and its all-too-predictable effects. Brought to you, with gusto, by the Teabaggers and Republicans of the United States of America. Or -- perhaps more appropriately from their warped perspective -- that should be "the Untied States" of America.

Image courtesy of Matt Yglesias. Used w/o permission.

 

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