Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last Call

You know that little domestic terrorist problem we continue to have since the nutjobs are coming out of the woodwork these days?  Still an issue, still luckily law enforcement is up to the task.

Federal authorities say a Michigan man bought and hid more than 4,000 pounds of explosives with enough potential firepower to equal the Oklahoma City bombing and told an undercover informant that “when the government takes over, we will be mercenaries.”

John Francis Lechner, 64, was arrested last week on a charge of possessing explosives while facing other charges and ordered held following a U.S. District Court hearing Monday. His attorney said Lechner, a builder and farmer from Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula, obtained the materials years ago for construction projects.

“He’s not a terrorist, he’s not a mercenary, he’s not some freedom fighter,” defense attorney Charles Malette told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “He intended no type of violence, pro- or anti-government. The man is not like that.”

Prosecutors and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not accuse Lechner of plotting to detonate the mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat told the AP he had “no idea” what Lechner planned to do with the materials.

You know, asking the guy what he plans to do with 2 tons of explosives is a fair question for the state to ask.  He deserves his day in court.  Having said that, he's expecting the government to "take over", and he expects to have been able to fight back with said 2 tons of things that go boom.

Seems like yeah, there's probably a case here.

Not Exactly A Laughing Matter

Yeah, well, if NC Dem Gov. Bev Perdue wasn't in trouble before back in my home state, she is after this massive gaffe speaking at the Rotary Club in Cary, NC yesterday.

"You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things. I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. The one good thing about Raleigh is that for so many years we worked across party lines. It's a little bit more contentious now but it's not impossible to try to do what's right in this state. You want people who don't worry about the next election."

No, see, even in the full context, that's a terrible thing to say, and something that's going to be used against her for pretty much the rest of her political career.  The folks on the right are having a complete meltdown over this (no surprise there) but that's not even the kind of thing you want to say as a grim joke or hyperbole as an elected politician.

Considering Republicans are trying to do everything they can to make elections optional for most of America anyway, it only gives the GOP cover to continue with their "voter ID" nonsense laws designed to disenfranchise traditional Democratic voters right on out of the electoral process.  Nice to know that for the rest of this election cycle any serious inquiry into red state Voter ID laws will be met with cries of "BEV PERDUE IS A FASCIST".

Stupid, stupid, stupid.  And as the title of the blog says, I'm against that particular thing.

Bucking The System

The House GOP wants to get rid of the paper dollar and switch to the dollar coin, but both Massachusetts Senators, Republican Scott Brown and Democrat John Kerry, would rather have the greenback back.

Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and two other House Republicans — including supercommittee co-chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) — introduced legislation last week aimed at retiring the paper dollar. Schweikert said his bill would save $184 million a year and $5.5 billion over 30 years by transitioning to a dollar coin in four years, or as soon as $600 million worth of dollar coins are in circulation.

Schweikert said three billion paper dollars are shredded every year, and the constant need to destroy these dollars and create new ones is a cost the government can no longer bear. He said metal coins would last longer and therefore save money.

"At a time when we are staring down a record-breaking $1.3 trillion deficit, any commonsense measure that cuts billions needs to be given serious consideration," he said of his Currency Optimization, Innovation and National Savings (COINS) Act. "That is exactly what the COINS Act will do and why I am introducing it."

But Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced a competing bill over the weekend, the Currency Efficiency Act. That bill is aimed at protecting the paper dollar from what the senators call a "massive overproduction" of the "unpopular one dollar coin."

"The one dollar coin is misleading because it costs taxpayers so much more," Brown said. "In fact, we have over $1 billion worth of extra one dollar coins sitting idle in vaults and that's set to double over the next several years."

On one hand, the company that makes dollar paper for the US mint is in Dalton, Massachusetts, Crane & Co., the nation's first paper manufacturer dating back from the days of Paul Revere, so there's a definite reason why both Bay State Senators are defending the paper buck.  On the other hand, the dollar coin is very, very popular with vending machine manufacturers...and Texas and Arizona account for over 100 of the country's nearly 800 such manufacturers.  No surprise there, either.  The House bill is supported by the vending machine lobbyist group, the Dollar Coin Alliance, its honorary chairman is former Arizona GOP Congressman Jim Kolbe.

And let's not forget the reason why there's a billion plus dollars in dollar coins sitting around US Mint warehouses is that 75% of Americans prefer the paper dollar because the dollar coin legislation in the late 90's was put forth by, you guessed it, Arizona Republican Jim Kolbe and the same groups promised us that the dollar coin would be wildly popular.  It wasn't.

Now Republicans want to fix the issue and change the currency of the country itself to make vending machine makers happy, not to mention copper mines and smelters.  Yes, there are environmental benefits to the dollar coin, but there are drawbacks as well.

Any time I see House Republicans pushing environmental benefits of something, I wonder what the catch is and why it hasn't been done already, and I'm thinking it has everything to do with the companies who want to make a mint off minting these coins.  I don't mind releasing the coins we already have into circulation, but getting rid of the paper buck seems like a bad way to force people to use something they don't want to use.

Hey wait a minute, I thought Republicans were against that sort of thing, after all.

[UPDATE] Stan Collender at CG&G makes some good points as to why the COINS Act is nothing more than the GOP shifting corporate welfare dollars to their constituencies.

StupidiChat Has Arrived!

Those who visit the page may have seen earlier today that there is now a StupidiChat link on the left side of the page.  We have big plans for this, but for the time  being we will start off slowly.

For now, Z and I will be spending some random time in the room for wanderers to come in and say hi.  We will also use the room and post chat times for important events, both political and otherwise, so we can all talk live.  Some transcripts may even find their way into the posts, because we know our readers have some great ideas.

Sometime in the next week or so, we will release a few regular times that you can always count on us to be in the chat room, so you can come say hi or chat us up about whatever is on your mind.  Before we set those dates, we want to make sure they are sustainable, so expect those to roll out in very shortly.

Woman Will Be Lashed For Driving

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.

The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.

Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.

The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.

It has been established that the King's decree allowing women to vote is a hollow joke.  It isn't bound by law so it can be repealed at any time, and the ability to vote is a farce in a country where underground deals determine who is in charge.  Elections are for show, so giving women that right is an insult when they are not able to walk or drive without an escort.  It's amazing to me that in our progressive time, women are still treated so badly in other places.  Again, we see reports of women being treated as slaves or property, forced through life with no choices or hope of change.  Women are forced to live a life of servitude, while their husbands answer to nobody for how they treat another human being.

This must be stopped.  Freedom to walk or drive is about as basic as it gets.  What does it matter if they can vote, if they must have a male relative drive them down there?  What good is it to be born in a world where you can never show your face or drive without an escort?

This will stain my entire day.  My heart goes out to that poor woman, ten lashes will be agonizing, and the scars will haunt her forever.

Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead

At the outstanding Ezra Klein's Wonkblog, Sarah Kliff makes the case as to why the Obama administration wants SCOTUS to rule on the Affordable Care Act ASAP.

The Justice Department said Monday night it would not ask a federal appeals court in Atlanta to review its ruling against the Affordable Care Act last month. That decision, from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, found the mandated purchase of insurance to be unconstitutional.

If the Obama administration had asked the lower court to re-hear the case, with all 11 judges weighing in, the extra steps could have delayed a Supreme Court decision until 2013. Now, a Supreme Court case looks very likely to come by next summer, right in the thick of the 2012 presidential election.

The conventional wisdom has always been that, for the White House, a longer timeline on health reform’s legal challenges is better: it gives the law more time to be implemented and benefits to kick in. So why did it choose the faster route to the Supreme Court this time? There are at least three reasons that could make a 2012 Supreme Court decision a more compelling one for the White House:

And they are in order:

  1. The Obama administration will definitely handle the case.
  2. The review might not have been granted— or gone against the administration.
  3. The move shows confidence.

I agree with Kliff on all three of these, and it's a smart move.  The right fully expected the President to punt on this until 2013 because they are convinced that 2010's losses were in part due to the passage of the law in the first place.  Having the court rule on it now they figure means the President is handing the GOP a grenade to toss right in his face for the last several months of the 2012 campaign.

But let's be honest: the GOP was going to do everything they can to mobilize their voters on the "Obamacare" issue anyway by attacking the President, so there was no advantage in delaying the ruling until after the election anyway. 

Smart move, and I don't see how the administration had much choice anyway.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

What Morgan Freeman said:

What FOX News heard:

Any questions about why these assholes need to be shown the door, and why you need to do your part in making that happen?

Dick Morris Is Lying About Black Support Of Obama

Shocking, I know.  But Dick Morris is lying through his teeth when he says President Obama has lost support among African-Americans.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News survey, his favorability rating among African-Americans has dropped off a cliff, plunging from 83 percent five months ago to a mere 58 percent today — a drop of 25 points, a bit more than a point per week!

Nothing is more crucial to the president’s reelection strategy than a super-strong showing among black voters. In the election of 2008, he was able to increase African-American participation from 11 percent of the total vote in 2004 to 14 percent. He carried 98 percent of them. This swing accounted for fully half of his gain over the showing of John Kerry. Now his ability to repeat that performance is in doubt.

The bolded part is an outright lie.  I will repeat this and call Mr. Morris out:  he is a liar and is lying on purpose to make President Obama look bad.  Here is what the poll actually said:

New cracks have begun to show in President Obama’s support amongst African Americans, who have been his strongest supporters. Five months ago, 83 percent of African Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Obama, but in a new Washington Post-ABC news poll that number has dropped to 58 percent. That drop is similar to slipping support for Obama among all groups.

So yes, the number of African Americans holding strongly favorable opinions of the President right now are down.  This is not the same as these opinions going to unfavorable, and Dick Morris knows it.  He thinks you're too stupid to notice.   And what's President Obama's actual, total favorability rating among African Americans, counting both strongly favorable and favorable positions?

Obama is strongest in the West, and has maintained substantial favorability among Hispanics (61 percent) as well as among African-Americans (86 percent).

That's right, 86 percent.  A far cry from the 58 percent that Dick Morris claims, because Dick Morris is an outright liar.  He takes one fact and claims it's another, and he does it on purpose to suggest that the President has lost 25 percent of African Americans in just a few months.  He hasn't.

But Dick Morris knows the news orgs aren't going to fact check him, not even the Washington Post or ABC News.  It was their poll after all, and the first thing they talk about is the drop among those strongly favorable numbers.  Is that a problem?  Yes.  Does it mean Obama has "lost blacks" as Morris's column implies?  No.  He's lying.  Period.  End of story.

But he'll go unchallenged by the people who should call him on it.


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