Saturday, June 30, 2012

Last Call

And today's trifecta of GOP asshole governors wouldn't be complete without Florida's Rick "Lex Luthor" Scott.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott now says Florida will do nothing to comply with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and will not expand its Medicaid program. The announcement is a marked changed after the governor recently said he would follow the law if it were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Florida is not going to implement Obamacare. We are not going to expand Medicaid and we're not going to implement exchanges," Scott's spokesman Lane Wright told The Associated Press on Saturday. Wright stressed that the governor would work to make sure the law is repealed.

Scott told Fox News the Medicaid expansion would cost Florida taxpayers $1.9 billion a year, but it's unclear how he arrived at that figure.

It's because he's lying.  Really is that simple. But it's enough to fool the "Get your Government hands off my Medicare" morons.  They vote too, Florida.

But the problem is Scott is bluffingHe's a former hospital CEO.  He knows his former industry friends are going to demand the state enroll and do it ASAP.  All the red state governors know this game is over because the hospitals, the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and the rest of the health care sector want in on this money.  The alternative is the industry continuing to eat the tens of billions yearly in the cost of the uninsured in hospital visits.  They're not going to put up with that.

Rick Scott knows it.  Legislature after legislature will sign on.  The industry will make them.  The uninsured will make them.  It's a done deal, folks.

Unless the Republicans are able to repeal the measure in 2013.  You get a say in that.

Power Plays In Ohio

If you recall back in March of this year, Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich had to be browbeaten into seeking federal emergency disaster aid when tornadoes touched down across the area, saying he was "thrilled that the state didn't need federal aid."  That lasted all of 48 hours before the public outcry across the country forced him into reversal.

Of course, when powerful storms and a record heat wave knock out power to tens of thousands in John Boehner's district north of Cincy, Kasich wastes zero time in applying for aid.

Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency this morning in Ohio after severe storms swept across the state, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands and causing at least one death.

Kasich cited widespread power losses, utility damages and excessive heat that could create crisis conditions for some Ohioans.

Meanwhile, Duke Energy said outages remaining from Friday’s storms could last several days. The utility has called in extra crews from Progress Energy and Alabama Power to help restore power.
This afternoon, there were still 67,959 outages, according to Duke Energy’s website. Hamilton County, with 24,457 outages, remains among the hardest hit areas in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Clermont County is next, with 14,370 users without power, and Warren and Butler counties also were among the hardest hit areas.

Butler County is the heart of Boehner country.  Of course Kasich was going to immediately apply for aid.  We're all Soshulists now.

Books Are A Luxury, Citizen

And while we're on the subject of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal being an asshole, let's have another round of applause for what massive GOP revenue elimination at the state level brings: a government that dies off in bits and pieces.

Citing budget concerns, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a $25-billion budget that eliminates almost $900,000 in state funding for its libraries. In a statement, the governor’s chief budget aide, Paul Rainwater, said, “In tight budget times, we prioritized funding for healthcare and education. Operations such as local libraries can be supported with local, not state dollars.”

Sorry, rural parts of Louisiana like Concordia Parish.  Libraries are a luxury and a drain on our precious job creators.  Fund them your gorram selves.  That would of course means raising local taxes, which is prohibited and will only assure that the Tea Party eliminates you from public office.  You will make do, citizen.  All hail the job creators.

“There’s no longer a food stamp office; there’s no longer a social security office. In our rural parish, a lot of our people have low literacy skills and very few computer skills. They come to the library because all of that has to be done online. There are some offices in some bigger areas but there’s no mass transportation and a lot of our people do not have transportation to a place that’s two hours away. A lot of our people have children in the military and they come to email their children that are all over the world on these bases. And almost all of the companies require you to do a job application online, even if it’s just for a truck driver who doesn’t need to be great at computer skills, so it is very important that we offer this service."

Concordia formerly got $12,000 per year from the state, which it used to “keep up all of the maintenance [on its 52 PCs], buy new software, and to buy new equipment as needed.”

With that money gone, Concordia plans not to buy anything new, and hopes all its old equipment keeps working. Maintenance costs will have to come out of the materials budget. In the meantime, Taylor is already working on getting the funding restored. “We are already talking to our legislators about the next budget,” she said. “We are going to work really hard to make the legislators understand how important it is in these rural areas because citizens depend on the public library. We’re going to hope for the Legislature to open their eyes to what we do every day.”

The Legislature works for the job creators, citizen.  If you want a job, you'll fill out an application online.  If you can't find a way to do that, you clearly don't want the job badly enough. The job creators will not be inconvenienced with taxes and regulatory burdens to pay for you freeloaders "reading books" and "using computers".  If you want to have libraries and access to the internet, you would get a job and buy it yourself.  The job creators are sick and tired of your whining.  Convince someone with money to fund it.  We have better things to do with tax money, like giving it to the job creators.

If you're reading this right now, you have access to the internet.  So why are you complaining, citizen?

All hail the job creators.  Now get back to work.

Surprise! Katie Holmes Is Divorcing Tom Cruise

I'll give TMZ credit in my reference, because they are the authority.  But seriously, if you won't hire me, Harvey, get an editor!  Waring, really?  I thought "taught" stomachs was atrocious, but your web content needs even more love now.

Anyway, TMZ broke the news that Katie Holmes had filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.  It seems at this time that Cruise never saw it coming.  Katie kept her plans under wraps, it doesn't seem that any sources were aware of her plans, though rumors had circulated about unhappiness in general.  She is going for full custody, which pretty much promises this will be an epic battle.

Scientology seems more cult than religion, and Tom Cruise may be a talented actor but he's dumb as a bag of hammers.  That sounds like a marriage made in heaven, pun intended.  There is a video where you can see the crazy in his eyes while he talks about the church.  When he doesn't have intense creeper gaze going, you can watch him reach for answers and spew recycled crap.  There's not an original thought there, it's all programmed.

This was always going to be a problem.  Katie's parents waged war from the start, as they are Catholic and darned proud of it.  I recall reading their comments when their daughter began taking Scientology classes.  They were not kind.

Watch for yourself, it's long but it doesn't take but a minute to get to the thousand yard stare of the insane.

Minty Fresh: Victory

For those who have been here a while, you'll remember I was struggling with Ubuntu and my problems with Unity. I liked it in theory, but in actual use it needed some love, and Ubuntu forced you to move over.  So I tried Mint, an Ubuntu-based Linux flavor that seemed to give me all that I loved about Ubuntu without the crap.

It's been true love ever since.

Today I'm putting Mint on my beloved new desktop, after taking a look at Ubuntu and reading reviews on the improvements.  They weren't kind.  For those it works for, it works great.  For the rest of us, tough cookie and better luck next time.

I will always love Ubuntu, and will eventually have all three on here, because I've seen me do it.  Windows is driving me batshit crazy, and I expect Mint to carry my work while Windows just eases the occasional compatibility issue that comes up.  I'm even going to play with Cinnamon, and likely review it here.

The great news is this: no matter what your experience level (I'm not all that when it comes to Linux, just loyal) there is a Linux out there for you now.  If pretty matters, you can have it.  If function means more than anything, you can have that too.  And because it's free, you can try and test to your heart's content and eventually have your computer just how you want it.

We Don't Need No Water, Let This Malkinvania Burn

As ABL notes, Michelle Malkin is now trying to blame the Colorado wildfires threatening Fort Collins and Colorado Springs got it in one.

While Colorado burns, conservatives have looked for ways to blame it on President Obama.

Some of the same people who have bashed the president as a big government, big spending liberal now say a wildfire that destroyed hundreds of homes in the conservative stronghold of Colorado Springs can be blamed on the president because he has been too slow to spend money to beef up the federal fleet of air tankers.

The meme began more than a week ago when pundit Michelle Malkin, who lives in Colorado Springs, wrote a piece for the National Review Online titled “Obama Bureaucrats Are Fueling Wildfires.”

“The Obama administration’s neglect of the federal government’s aerial-tanker fleet raises acrid questions about its core public-safety priorities,” she wrote.

If Colorado Springs sounds familiar to readers,  that's because two years ago I was pointing out how the Tea Party had taken over the city and drastically cut city services, including streetlights, park cleanup, the local transit system...and oh yes, city workers including police and firefighters.  Colorado Springs was in fact held up as a model of the new Tea Party governance style and how it would revolutionize America.

Cut to today, where the city is facing a horrific tragedy with massive wildfires ravaging the suburbs and thousands having to evacuate...including Malkin and her family.  Her immediate reaction?  Obama's fault, of course.  It always is.

A reasonable person would have asked "Hey, have we cut spending on things like fire prevention, forestry monitoring, and firefighters lately?"  But of course, we're talking about Malkin here.  If her house should have tragically burned down (and let's be honest here, Michelle Malkin is a boil on the ass of humanity but nothing she says or prints rates having her house destroyed and her family uprooted like this) you think she would be grateful for government to assist her in a time like this.  This is what government is for.

Nope.  You will see more of this, as disasters like this will prove not that the proper response to climate change and increasingly costly disasters is intelligent prevention steps, but to scream, cry, and eliminate as much of the infrastructure preventing tragedies like this anyway just to say "Well the system clearly failed us here so why have common government at all?  You're on your own."

Once again, the lesson of Colorado Springs to wingers is "since government can never prevent 100% of all disasters, government is a failure."

The rest of us get to pay for such stupidity.  A little prevention there, by us voting, goes a long way, folks.  This is what Republican government gets you, and it really is a failure.  It's designed to fail, actually.  Watch.  The solution from sity officials will be "if we had only privatized more of the city functions sooner and fired more city workers, we could have had the money to prevent this tragedy..."  Revenue increases?  What are those?  They don't exist.

Pretty soon that won't be sarcasm.  It will be fact.  But you have a say in how your city, county, state, and country are run.  I suggest you register and vote.

Before that's "cut" too.

Here We Go Again

Republicans are now back to the "repeat complete falsehoods on the ACA until they become conventional widsom" plan, and the notion is to repeat the summer and fall of 2010 in town halls, campaign stops, and the ballot box.  I can't blame them for going this route.  I can blame us for being stupid enough to fall for it again.  Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby "Kenny" Jindal:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said Thursday's "frightening" Supreme Court ruling could lead to penalties for Americans whose lives are out of step with government priorities.

On a call with reporters, Jindal said that the decision to uphold the healthcare law as a tax is a "blow to our freedoms."

"What's next?" he said, expressing concern for people who "refuse to eat tofu" or "refuse to drive a Chevy Volt" — a popular hybrid car.

To repeat, Bobby Jindal would like you to know that the Republican Party believes that affordable health care for the tens of millions of uninsured is not a priority for Americans, especially not the uninsured ones.  What the ruling actually does do is allow states like Louisiana to deal with uninsured Americans costing the states billions through high-risk insurance pools, exchanges to shop for the best deal, federal Medicaid expansion and subsidy assistance.  Does Gov. Jindal want to take advantage of that?  Of course not.

Jindal said he expects opposition to the law to "escalate" before November and that Republican governors will wait for the outcome of the election before implementing the law. 

Here's the funny part:  insurance companies absolutely see the cost savings in this plan, as do hospitals, and they are going to be ringing Jindal's phone off the hook until he comes crawling to the feds to join the law.  The Health care industry has accepted the law and is moving to implement it for the red states, because frankly the crapload of uninsured folks in those states are costing the health care industry an assload of money.

It's not up to guys like Jindal anymore.  That ship sailed.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Last Call

Error in Romneybot.exe in processing DREAM.dat.  Please reboot system and report error to nearest political press.

Mitt Romney accidentally floated a new immigration position in an interview with conservative site Newsmax on Friday, suggesting that he favored a path to permanent status for young illegal immigrants through higher education. The campaign quickly walked the position back when confronted with the discrepancy by TPM.

“For those that are here as the children of those who came here illegally, I want to make sure they have a permanent answer to what their status will be,” Romney said in the interview, “and I’ve indicated in my view that those who serve in the military and have advanced degrees would certainly qualify for that kind of permanent status.”

Oops.  Didn't anyone defrag the candidate this week?  All the data overload from the SCOTUS decisions must have caused serious memory leaks in his operating system.

Williams told TPM in a subsequent e-mail that Romney had inadvertently misstated his position.

“The Governor was referring to his long held position that young illegal immigrants brought here as children who serve in the military should be able to obtain legal permanent residence and that we should staple a green card to the diploma of every eligible student visa holder who graduates from one of our universities with an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering,” Williams said. “He simply misspoke in this interview.”

Funny.  That seems to happen a lot with his core programming.  It's like all he does is lie.

Sir Jason Bravely Ran Away

Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Jason Altmire, Pennsylvania Democrat.

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), one of the 17 Democrats who voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress Thursday, said he had "no other choice" but to sanction Holder for withholding documents related to the controversial "Fast and Furious" investigation.

The Pennsylvania Democrat was one of the few Democrats who voted for contempt without an eye toward the November election; Altmire lost a member-on-member primary to Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) in April and so will not have the opportunity to run for reelection this cycle. Altmire said he viewed his vote as ideologically consistent with similar sanctions against Bush administration officials.

"The fact is that the House has jurisdiction in oversight over these types of investigations. The attorney general was asked to provide information, and he chose not to provide it. So as a result, I had no other choice, but to vote in contempt," Altmire told CNN.

Altmire did say, however, that he believes Holder hadn't done anything wrong.

"I believe he is an honest man," Altmire said. "I think the documents are going to show that. The question of the vote yesterday was, did he comply with the House request for documents for an ongoing investigation about a very serious matter, that again I believe he will not be in any way found to be negligent in that. But the fact is, he was asked to provide the documents, and he didn't." 

He did nothing wrong, but Brave Sir Jason had no choice but to vote to hold him in contempt.  Perhaps Congressman, soon to be former Congressman Altmire (who lost his primary a couple months back for being a Blue Dog ass) your uncommon valor here explains why you'll be looking for a new job after the first of the year.

Had to get that one last dig in on the black guy though, huh.  Because Republicans like Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz keep saying they'll have Holder arrested aaaaaaaaanytime now.

“That would be fairly dramatic, but yes,” said Chaffetz. “Three options: going through the U.S. attorney, going into civil court or have the Sargent at Arms take control of the situation — which I think some people are going to say we ought to do — but we’re going to exhaust the other ones first.”

“Really,” replied Kelly.

“I find it hard and dramatic to do, but we want to get to the bottom of this,” said Chaffetz. “We’re serious about this.”

Sure you are.  Step up to the plate, boys.  Put Holder in irons.  Watch what happens next.

Transportation Nation

As fully expected, House Republicans waited until the last minute to pass the Transportation Bill, after holding nearly 2 millions jobs hostage in an election year.

Moments ago, the House of Representatives passed a re-authorization of the highway bill by a vote of 373-52. House Republicans had previously been blocking the package, holding up funding for 1.9 million transportation jobs. The bill also includes an extension of the student loan rates that will prevent them from doubling on Sunday. The legislation will now go to the Senate, where it’s likely to pass.

Republicans were always going to lose this fight, and the Democrats held out to keep the legislation alive without the Republicans getting what they wanted, namely the Keystone XL pipeline project.  The GOP overplayed its hand badly and got burned even worse.  The GOP did get streamlining and federal review for transportation projects in the future, bypassing some federal directives to state concerns, but that's down the road.

The Senate passed the bill 74-19 and President Obama will sign it later today.

For now, this is the second major win for the Dems and millions of Americans in as many days and should be treated as such.

Google: GDocs Offline Capability Soon

SAN FRANCISCO - Google announced today at it's Google I/O conference here that Google documents is going offline.
The Google word-processing service is a Web-based alternative to programs such as Microsoft Word. Because Google Docs is a Web-based service, people who use the application have not been able to use it unless they have an Internet connection. But now that will be changing. And people will now be able to work in Google Docs on airplanes and other places where a Web connection may not be available.
Travelers will eat that up, but so will students, professionals and even people like me, who write constantly and struggles with finding trustworthyWiFi.  The masses who don't understand security should avoid open WiFi, but it's no fun for people who get it, either.  However, free connections have become common enough that you can work in peace and still enjoy regular synchronization with your storage.  Phones already have the capability, and this will give Google Docs  a serious edge over traditional, physically stored documents because it is portable and always protected.  Sharing is easy, there is no risk of losing everything, and you can milk more life out of laptop and tablet batteries.

Win win win win win.  The Bon is pleased, and even more likely to get that new laptop.

Blackberry Jam: Endgame

It’s all losses and delays for Research In Motion (RIM), the struggling mobile company best known for its once-popular BlackBerry devices. RIM lost $518 million in the last three months and has announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs and delay its BlackBerry 10 platform until 2013, according to the company’s first-quarter earnings report released Thursday.
RIM announced BlackBerry 10 in May, indicating that the upcoming platform would be available by the end of this year. But in its Q1 earnings report, the company backpedaled on its original promises.
The company attributes the setback to the time it takes to implement new features, stating that “the integration of these features and the associated large volume of code into the platform has proven to be more time consuming than anticipated.”
You don't lose half a billion dollars in 90 days and not feel the punch.  Honestly, that they can keep going forward is a miracle.  The world has moved on, and Blackberry doesn't have much to work with but a very established name and sketchy delivery.

I loved them once, you know.  The people who are pre-mourning the fall of RIM and I have a twinge in common.  But they blew it time and again, almost purposely it seems.  However, the promise of not releasing before it is absolutely ready does show a little growth, one last glimmer of hope but surely not enough.

John Roberts' The Bored Supremacy, Part 2

Reaction and aftermath time on yesterday's SCOTUS decision on the ACA. First and foremost is the notion that the immediate Republican response to it is a vote to repeal the measure a week from Wednesday.  The larger issue is that should the GOP get control of the House, Roberts' decision to enforce the mandate under Congress's power to tax rather than the Commerce Clause means it can be treated as a budget bill legislatively, that means reconciliation...and that means the GOP would only need 51 votes to put the bill on an immediate ten-year moratorium.

The House will hold a symbolic vote to repeal the law on July 11, but the real long-term strategy for rolling back the law is already under way. Republicans are stoking voter anger over the law until Election Day, which they hope will produce a Mitt Romney presidency and an all-Republican Congress. And it ends by employing budget rules that would allow a fast-track repeal with a 51-vote majority in the Senate, circumventing a Democratic minority and potential filibuster.

That process — known on Capitol Hill as budget reconciliation — would give Republicans a serious shot at repealing the individual mandate and the heart of the law before 2014 when much of it is scheduled to take effect.

So it’s not surprising that the word “reconciliation” was on the tip of virtually every Republican tongue Thursday, just hours after the landmark Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the health care law.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Republican Conference, said budget reconciliation could be a “vehicle” for repeal, promising Republicans would make “every attempt” under a GOP Senate majority and Republican White House to do just that.

“I’ve already heard discussions that it can be done through 51 votes in the Senate, which is an easier threshold,” said Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of House GOP leadership and a key Romney adviser.

“With a 50-vote majority in the Senate, Republicans could do the same thing Democrats did with 50 votes on Obamacare — and that is to use the reconciliation process — to reverse the more onerous provisions of Obamacare and replace them with what Republicans have been talking about,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said.

The argument in conservative circles is that anger over the bill will motivate moribund supporters who are blase' about Romney, but will absolutely turn out to give the Senate to the GOP to put a measure to obliterate the law on President Romney's desk before the end of January.

That's an entirely possible scenario, folks.  To pull it off, the GOP only needs to pick up 3 seats and elect Romney.  That's it.  Affordable Care Act effectively dies. So more than ever we have to get out there and get people to vote at the state level and for POTUS.

The good news is even conservatives are admitting that motivating people to vote for Mitt Romney at the "anti-Obamacare" candidate after his MassCare history is going to be a huge problem.  Conservatives instead may just stay home and declare both candidates are evil Socialists, and the independents, well...  David Frum:

First, today's Supreme Court decision will make it a lot harder to elect Mitt Romney. President Obama has just been handed a fearsome election weapon. 2012 is no longer exclusively a referendum on the president's economic management. 2012 is now also a referendum on Mitt Romney's healthcare plans. The president can now plausibly say that a vote for the Republicans is a vote to raise prescription drug costs on senior citizens and to empower insurance companies to deny coverage to children for pre-existing conditions. Those charges will hurt—and maybe hurt enough to sway the election.

Second, even if Republicans do win the White House and Senate in 2012, how much appetite will they then have for that 1-page repeal bill? Suddenly it will be their town halls filled with outraged senior citizens whose benefits are threatened; their incumbencies that will be threatened. Already we are hearing that some Republicans wish to retain the more popular elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Which means the proposed 1-page bill will begin to grow.

Frum's not a complete moron, it seems. On the other hand, the complete morons actually think the President threatened to kill John Roberts' kids and won the case through intimidation.

Your call.  Things in the ACA you like?  GOP can now destroy the law if they get in charge.  November is even more important now.

Contemptible Conduct

As expected yesterday afternoon, House Republicans voted to hold AG Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress in a cheap poltical stunt (shocking I know).  The vote was 255-67 as a number of Democrats, including the Congressional Black Caucus and Nancy Pelosi, walked out of the vote.

A large number of Democrats -- including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- walked off the House floor in protest and refused to participate in the vote. Speaking in New Orleans immediately after the vote, Holder dismissed it as "the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided -- and politically motivated -- investigation during an election year."

The criminal contempt charge refers the dispute to District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, who will decide whether to file charges against Holder. Most legal analysts do not expect Machen -- an Obama appointee who ultimately answers to Holder -- to take any action.

The Dems who voted against Holder?  17, including Kentucky Rep Ben Chandler.  I'm so verrrrrry surprised at that, gosh.  Not.

  • Jason Altmire (PA-04)
  • John Barrow (GA-12)
  • Dan Boren (OK-02)
  • Leonard Boswell (IA-03)
  • Ben Chandler (KY-06)
  • Mark Critz (PA-12)
  • Joe Donnelly (IN-02)
  • Kathy Hochul (NY-26)
  • Ron Kind (WI-03)
  • Larry Kissell (NC-08)
  • Jim Matheson (UT-02)
  • Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
  • Bill Owens (NY-23)
  • Collin Peterson (MN-07)
  • Nick Rahall (WV-03)
  • Mike Ross (AR-04)
  • Tim Walz (MN-01)
 And it turns out GOP Reps. Steve LaTourette of OH-14 and Scott Rigell of VA-2 both voted no on the final contempt vote.  More courage than nearly a dozen and a half of our own guys.  Nice.  Meanwhile, Rep. Allen West (R-Nutjob) went on Facebook to pull a Sarah Palin and flat out accused the Congressional Black Caucus of being racists.

America holds this Congress in contempt.  We vote on that in November.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Last Call

And tonight, I leave you with this.

Speaker Boehner and Rep. Pelosi

And this.

Night, folks.

Poll Arising Positions

Time to go into the weeds on this month's WSJ/NBC News presidential poll (PDF) and take a look at the internal numbers.

First of all, while strong enthusiasm for President Obama isn't great (29% see him as very positive, 48% positive overall) or for the Democratic Party as a whole (14%, 37%) they are both ahead of Mitt Romney (9%, 33%) and the GOP (10%, 31%).  George W. Bush (13% very positive, 36% overall positive) has better personal numbers than Mitt right now.  That should terrify the GOP.

The country's still split on the role of government in helping people, 49% think the government should do more, 47% think government should do less.  Given how bad things are right now for most Americans, that's notable.

People are also split (45% D to 44% R) about which party they want to see in control of Congress.  It makes sense considering it's a split Congress now.

72% of Obama leaners are voting for the President, whereas 58% of Romney voters are voting against POTUS instead.  Literally the GOP could have fielded a child's crayon drawing of a pot-bellied pig with wings and more than half of the party would have backed the piece of paper  against the President in this election.

The numbers on what the President's religion happens to be really hasn't changed in 4 years.  About 8% still think he's a Muslim, and 40% don't know. 43% believe he's Christian.  67% know Mitt Romney's a Mormon though.

Only 1% of respondents think of "outsourcing jobs" when they hear Mitt Romney.   I'm thinking that number will go up.  10%think "Good businessman".  However, 9% of respondents think "Lack of experience" for Barack Obama.  How long does he have to be President, one has to wonder.  19% combined mentioned health care, as a positive, a negative, or as a neutral fact about him.  It's his legacy from this term, certainly...even more than the economy (15%, all negative).

Dems get a major advantage overall on the middle class (+19%), Medicare (+14%), health care (+13%), Social Security (+12%) , but Republicans get big advantages on government spending (+17%), the deficit (+12%) and terrorism (+9%)...and yes, the economy overall too (+6%).  Both parties fail on Wall Street/bank oversight and taxes, and split on upward mobility.

The country is divided into thirds on if President Obama's economic policies have helped, hurt, or made no difference.

More people think our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (63%) have contributed a lot to our deficits, than the recession (56%).  Congratulations, America, you're actually right on this one...but only 26% have tagged the biggest cause of deficits in recent years as a big deficit offender:  the Bush tax cuts.  More people (28%) think the problem is Medicare/Social Security and other government programs.  Boo.  When it comes to naming the biggest single deficit reason, 47% blame the wars, 21% the stimulus (eyeroll) and only 15% the recession.  7% blamed again the correct answer, the Bush tax cuts.  Yikes.

Health care reform numbers basically haven't changed in two years:  35% think it was a good idea, 41% a bad one, 22% no opinion.  55% believe if SCOTUS strikes down the ACA insurance mandate that it will make no difference on their lives.  Oy vey.

Overall it's an interesting picture to say the least.

The Return Of Feeling Randy, Once Again

And just 18 months into his Senate term, I get to say "You'll regret electing this asshole" for the 6234th time concerning Rand Paul being a national embarrassment for the state of Kentucky.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expressed his frustration on Tuesday at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who offered an anti-abortion amendment to legislation that would renew the flood insurance program.

“I’m told last night that one of our Republican senators wants to offer an amendment — listen to this one — wants to offer an amendment on when life begins,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “I think some of this stuff is just – I have been very patient working with my Republican colleagues in allowing relevant amendments on issues, and sometimes we even do non-relevant amendments. But really, on flood insurance?”

Yes.  That's right.  Rand Paul wants to attach a fetal personhood amendment to a flood insurance bill, knowing full well he can scuttle the legislation with it.   That's the point:  as Florida contends with feet of rain, Rand Paul says the government shouldn't lift a finger and that Florida should notonly have to deal with it alone, but should have budgeted for it ahead of time.

Meanwhile Paul's not only trying to sink federal flood insurance, he's absolutely trying to decimate any legislation having to do with the residents of the District of Columbia getting anything close to self-determination.

One Paul amendment would require the District to allow residents to obtain concealed weapon permits for handguns, and would require the city to honor permits issued to residents of other states. Another amendment would make the District “establish an office for the purpose of facilitating the purchase and registration of firearms by DC residents,” in response to reports that there is only one licensed gun dealer in the city.

Paul has also submitted an amendment to codify the city-funded abortion ban. The prohibition — a continuing source of frustration for local leaders that is strongly supported by anti-abortion groups — has been extended via appropriations bills every year that Republicans have controlled one or both chambers of Congress since the mid-1990s.

Paul proposed another amendment saying “membership in a labor organization may not be applied as a precondition for employment” in the District, and protecting employees “from discrimination on the basis of their membership status” in a union.

“I think it’s a good way to call attention to some issues that have national implications,” Paul said in an interview Tuesday. “We don’t have [control] over the states but we do for D.C.”

Small government my ass.  And yes, Paul's ridiculous amendments have now caused the bill to be pulled completely.   All those black people in DC have to be told what to do by Republicans, with the intent of course of turning the place into a Tea Party hell that will force DC's urban residents out.  Rand Paul has no problem bringing ridiculous government interference to bear when it suits him, folks.  Remember that.

Starry Awesome

A man recently spent ten hours making Vincent Van Goh's Starry Night with dominoes.  It's pretty impressive.  When he knocks them over, the resemblance is even stronger.  I'm not a follower of hot domino action, so this was a surprise to me.  Just seeing it with them standing was cool enough for me.


It It Looks Like A Hate Crime And People Die Like It's A Hate Crime

You probably have a hate crime.

Police in Texas are searching for an assailant who targeted a lesbian couple in a close-range shooting that left one woman dead and the other in the hospital, however authorities said it is not being investigated as a hate crime.
Detectives are constructing a timeline of events, processing bullet casings found at the scene and are interviewing witnesses to understand what led up to the shootings of Mollie Olgin, 19, and Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, in the small town of Portland, Texas, which is located a few miles from Corpus Christi.
Mollie Olgin was dead at the scene.  Chapa is still alive, but in serious condition from a gunshot wound to the head.  Cops admit they don't know much, so I would like to know why it isn't being investigated as a hate crime until they rule it out.  It doesn't change the result, but it changes the reality if it applies.  It may also change how the shooter(s) are found.

Whether someone was shooting two random girls or two lesbians is important, however.  To the girls, the families and the people who want to know how something like this really just happened.

John Roberts' The Bored Supremacy

Jumping in a bit early with the ten spot post given the import of today's expected Supreme Court news as today, the Affordable Care Act decision comes roughly around that time.  Ian Millhiser goes over the worst-case scenario:

It is, of course, mildly interesting to speculate upon how tomorrow’s decision could influence whether a man who currently lives in a luxurious house in Washington will continue to live there for several more years or will instead be forced to move to a different luxurious house in Chicago. But you know what matters a whole lot more? Whether the Supreme Court decides to strip millions of Americans of their future access to health care.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans file bankruptcy because they cannot afford their medical bills. Thousands more are locked into jobs their hate because they cannot risk losing their employer-provided health insurance while they have a preexisting condition. According to one study, about 45,000 people die every year because they do not have health insurance. So, in a very real sense, the Supreme Court is deciding tomorrow whether to allow tens of thousands of people to die every year until Congress is able to pass another health care bill. Something, by the way, which took seventy years to accomplish the first time around.

That’s a bit more important than whether or not Barack Obama is slightly more or slightly less likely to keep his job.

Not to the Villagers, who, by the way, have pretty good health care plans.   And the same conservatives who are today going to more or less lynch Attorney General Eric Holder in the House today, supposedly over the death of a Border Patrol agent, are going to wildly cheer several million Americans losing their health insurance and some dying as a result.

Hell, they see those deaths as inevitable 

A rejection of health care egalitarianism, namely a recognition that the wealthy will purchase more and better health care than the poor. Trying to equalize health care consumption hurts the poor, since most feasible policies to do this take away cash from the poor, either directly or through the operation of tax incidence. We need to accept the principle that sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor. Some of you don’t like the sound of that, but we already let the wealthy enjoy all sorts of other goods — most importantly status — which lengthen their lives and which the poor enjoy to a much lesser degree. We shouldn’t screw up our health care institutions by being determined to fight inegalitarian principles for one very select set of factors which determine health care outcomes.

The rich live, the poor just die, you see.  Most of us are one layoff and one accident or illness away from joining their ranks.  Congress, meanwhile, concentrates on Eric Holder and ignores this, because that is the burden of the unwashed to bear, just as AmEx titanium black Centurion cards are the burden of the rich.  Accept your fate and you'll be happier, citizen.  We strongly suggest you do.

And so it goes.  I'll update this when the decision is out.

[UPDATE]  Called it.  ACA survives, with some narrowing of the law forcing states to expand Medicaid.

[UPDATE 2Chief Justice Roberts saved this law, literally.  Alito, Thomas, Scalia and the dissenting conservatives led by Kennedy flat out said within the first sentence that they believed the entire law was patently and completely unconstitutional on its face.   Roberts was apparently the deciding vote, and as Chief Justice he apparently stepped in as the fifth vote to uphold the law.


Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 88

The US city hit hardest by the subprime/foreclosuregate crisis, Stockton, California, is now facing the largest civil bankruptcy filing in America's history.

Officials said Tuesday that Stockton would become the nation's largest city to seek protection under the U.S. bankruptcy code.

The city stopped making bond payments, and City Manager Bob Deis said he expected to file bankruptcy papers immediately.

Stockton has been in negotiations with its creditors since late March under AB 506, a new California law requiring mediation before a municipality can file for reorganization of debt. It was the first use of the law, and policy analysts who watched its torturous and tedious progress have titled their report on it "Death by a Thousand Meetings." Mediations ended Monday at midnight.

Recent council meetings have been contentious. Tuesday night's meeting was quieter, with an evident sadness on faces in the packed audience. Many residents said they were there mostly to hear for themselves that the day so long expected had finally come.

"It's a seminal moment in this city's history and I needed to be here," said Dwight Williams, who runs a nonprofit housing organization. "I can't just read about this in tomorrow's paper. I need to hear for myself if there is some inkling as to where we go from here."

People outside the state forget given all of California's big cities that Stockton has 300,000 people, making it a larger city than Lexington, KY, Baton Rouge, LA, and Springfield, MO and roughly the same size as Cincinnati, Toledo, or Buffalo proper.  That makes this bankruptcy a serious deal.  The city deciding to stop bond payments is just staggering, it's basically surrender to the creditors at this point.  So what happens to Stockton now?

The city made $90 million in drastic cuts from the general fund in the last three years, including reducing the Police Department by 25%, the Fire Department by 30%, and cutting pay and benefits to all employees. There is a state investigation into whether Stockton's financial devastation was entirely due to shortsighted optimism or if there was corruption. The state mediation law requires assigning blame.

The blame will go around for years here.  And down the road I foresee a city larger than Stockton going under as well.  Who knows.  The housing market is showing signs of recovery again, but it did that two years ago before falling another 10%, and the backlog of foreclosures is still absolutely massive.  There's no lasting recovery until that backlog goes away folks, and more Stocktons will follow as sure as night follows day.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Last Call

In probably the greatest black culture smash hit since Homeboys in Outer Space, former Ohio GOP Secretary of State Ken "Voting Machine Integrity" Blackwell and former Clown Car Cavalcade contestant Herman "Dressed to the Nines" Cain want you to know how Republicans are working to protect the African-American vote. You know, by protecting voting precincts from African-American voters actually voting in them. Or something. Jim Newell at Wonkette is nicer than I am:
Herman Cain and Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who STOLE THE 2004 ELECTION WITH MACHINES, have teamed up to produce this video about the Right to Vote. They do so by criticizing the Justice Department’s attempts to ensure black people can vote in the face of new laws that are clearly trying to suppress black turnout. And how could DoJ also refuse to pursue the New Black Panther Party scandal? Herman Cain and Ken Blackwell would have pursued it, for civil rights.
Me, I couldn't resist the whole Mantan/Hollywood Shuffle angle, but then again that's probably why I'm a blogger as a hobby and not getting paid for it professionally.

Seriously, folks. Ken Blackwell talking about protecting the black vote is pretty much the equivalent of Gargamel explaining how all the Smurfs will be much safer and will be free from the sorrows of fungus-based housing if he just cages them, removes their skins, and uses them to make gold out of lead. Blackwell invented digital vote swiping and as both Secretary of State in charge of the election process WHILE STILL DUBYA'S STATE CAMPAIGN CHAIR, he sure did a great job of disenfranchising a whole hell of a lot of African-Americans in 2004 to give the state and the country to Bush. Look where THAT got us, right? Here's the video if you want a chuckle.

Me, I'm going to be over here, so completely outraged that an entire Super Star Destroyer hasn't crashed into Ken Blackwell's muppet head yet that I'm liable to start building one just for this purpose. Assholes.

The Chips Are All In, Gentlemen

Real Clear Politics pundit Sean Trende goes all in, declaring that the entire ACA will almost certainly be struck down tomorrow because there's no way to separate the doomed mandate from the entire law, meaning Chief Justice Roberts will author an opinion to jettison the whole thing:

If this seems like thin gruel to you, I concur. I wouldn’t give more than a 15 to 20 percent chance of the Affordable Care Act being upheld. And even that slim chance really is more a nod to the fact that we don’t know what is going on in the justices’ heads, so even when all the evidence points one direction, we have to leave some room for the opposite outcome.

I won't dwell on the arguments for and against striking down the individual mandate, which have been beaten to death by this point.  But I do wish to emphasize that there’s also a substantial chance that the court will strike down the entire law, contrary to what almost all news outlets have reported recently. This issue turns around the arcane question of severability, and there’s a reason CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin called the arguments on this issue a “plane crash” for the government (as opposed to a mere “train wreck” after the arguments on the mandate).

Basically, laws typically include a severability clause specifying that if any portion of the law is struck down as unconstitutional, the remainder should survive. But Congress didn’t include a severability clause in the health care law.

The reason of course that Congress didn't provide a severability clause on the mandate was that basically all precedent leading up to the law clearly stated that the mandate was eminently constitutional, and in fact as Ezra Klein reminds us, conservatives championed the mandate for a reason.

Of course, this battle isn’t really about the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Members of the Republican Party didn’t express concerns that the individual mandate might be an unconstitutional assault on liberty when they devised the idea in the late 1980s, or when they wielded it against the Clinton White House in the 1990s, or when it was passed into law in Massachusetts in the mid-2000s. Indeed, Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), arguably the most conservative Republican in the Senate, touted Romney's reforms as a model for the nation. Only after the mandate became the centerpiece of the Democrats’ health-care bill did its constitutionality suddenly become an issue.

The real fight is over whether the Affordable Care Act should exist at all. Republicans lost that battle in Congress, where they lacked a majority in 2010. Now they hope to win it in the Supreme Court, where they hold a one-vote advantage. The argument against the individual mandate is a pretext for overturning Obamacare. But it’s a pretext that could set a very peculiar precedent.

If the mandate falls, future politicians, who will still need to fix the health-care system and address the free-rider problem, will be left with the option of either moving toward a single-payer system or offering incredibly large, expensive tax credits in order to persuade people to do things they don’t otherwise want to do. That is to say, in the name of liberty, Republicans and their allies on the Supreme Court will have guaranteed a future with much more government intrusion in the health-care marketplace.

Which is true, but then again the whole point was to destroy Barack Obama's legacy and leave him cast as the biggest Presidential flop since Carter.  The last time the GOP did that, they got a dozen years of Reagan/Bush and then the Contract With America.  The rest is history.  And you can bet the Republicans will happily sell their version of "Obamacare" to the people as "real health reform" only without the parts that actually reform the system, grant affordable coverage to the millions that don't have it and lower costs.  It'll be as awful for our economy as the Bush tax cuts and the Medicare Part D prescription benefit were, only far worse.

We'll see how right Trende is tomorrow.

That's A Lot Of Quarters

Today marks the 40th birthday of video game company Atari, still kicking after bringing us Pong for the holidays in 1972.

In 1972, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney were looking to produce an electronic tennis game to be called "Pong." They formed Atari Inc. on June 27 of that year and released the black-and-white tennis game five months later. The gaming world hasn't been the same since.
"Pong's" primitive, two-dimensional graphics look ridiculous now, but it was an immediate hit and is considered the first commercially successful video game.
But Atari's more lasting contribution to living-room entertainment may have been the Atari VCS, more commonly known as the Atari 2600. The home video-game console launched in 1977 and sold more than 30 million units before being discontinued in 1992 according to a Business Week report.
Many people credit the Atari 2600 as their gateway into the world of electronic gaming.
"While I had dabbled with the NES at a friend's house and Apple II titles at my uncle's, this was the first console that was mine," said Matt Paprocki of Toledo, Ohio. "It sucked me in and kept me there. I doubt any parent knows how important a little console that plays video games can be, or what it can do for someone's life. It's a path I started on and stayed on well into my adult life, all because of that faux wood box fitted with ungainly switches."
"You never forget your first love!" said Matt Thebert of Lawrenceville, Georgia. "But it also was the beginning of a whole era of populist electronics and computing where you could have in your home, finally, a computer and video games. Which as a kid meant I could explore these worlds from my home, not from a computer lab or, at that time, the public library, where we would reserve time in one-hour chunks on the Apple IIe to play 'Zork' in its amber glory."

Myself included. I got my Atari 2600 as a wee lad in the early 80's, back at the height of the Atari 2600 boom and proceeded to learn everything you ever needed to know about spatial Newtonian physics through making bank shots with tanks in Combat. Ask my brother, he still hates me for the shots I made.  Pac-Man, Crystal Castles, Donkey Kong, Demons to Diamonds, Yar's Revenge, man those were good times.

Sadly, Atari really isn't 40 years old, the name was sold off years ago to Infogrames and more or less used to make people in my generation go "Hey, Atari" and buy a crappy game.  They're promised to reform for what it's worth, but the name will never had the glory it did 30 years ago.  That's a shame.

Still, here's to Nolan and Ted, the closest thing to cool nerdy uncles I had growing up.  Nolan went on to found Chuck E. Cheese and he's still kicking it on Twitter these days, 40 years later.

Oops! Clerical Error Releases Accused Felon

A “clerical error” may have led to the mistaken release of a man accused of 19 felony child sexual assault charges that could carry a life sentence.
Prosecutors had deemed Antonio Alburquerque a flight risk and asked in a court document that he surrender his passport and wear a monitoring bracelet before bonding out of the Greene County jail .
In comments to authorities, Alburquerque, charged with multiple counts of deviant sexual contact with a minor, had made statements that he intended to move to Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic following his retirement, which was imminent.
A glitch in the case happened when the prosecutor’s request for the special bond conditions never reached the court docket.
Springfield has struggled with many issues, one of them being competent staffing for public service.  I'm not being snarky this time, it's a known issue and has been for as long as I've read the paper.  Still, this is craptastic even by our standards.

Today Is National HIV Testing Day

Maybe HIV scarred our generation more those who came after.  I was in junior high when it really became known.  I remember parents who were terrified we may learn it was passed through casual contact, the scientists who forecast the ability for the virus to go airborne. and the fear we all had when we learned sex could kill us.  That's pretty heavy stuff as you prepare for your first date.

It also changed parental culture.  Parents were (rightfully) told that they were doing kids a disservice by leaving them to a token sex ed class and whispers to fill in the blanks.  Ignorance was exposed, as we learned that some girls still thought you couldn't get pregnant your first time, or that eating certain foods would keep you from pregnancy.  We learned just how big the information gap was between minorities, which corresponded with pregnancy rates and other STD transmission.

If you're at risk, go get tested.  Just for the heck of it, reassure yourself that everything is okay.  Or, if there is a chance of bad news, spare your life and several others.  Denial is no excuse.

Also, keep this in mind as we struggle to teach kids about sex while the word "vagina" can't be said in mixed company.  While we make birth control more difficult to obtain, realize the young adults of the day are likely to pay for that with their lives.  So that some can feel proper, others will be forced to bear the burden necessary.

Primary, Primarily

Primary results from New York, Colorado, and Utah were pretty much as expected last night.   Both GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Dem Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York survived primary challenges pretty easily, and loudmouth jackass Charles Barron got rightfully stomped as the Democrat's endorsement from former KKK member David Duke all but spelled his end.

“When we launched this campaign we knew we were going up against ... the entire New York Democratic political leadership,” Barron said. “You know you good when you made the governor do a robo call for a primary.”

The two were vying for the seat vacated by retiring Democrat Rep. Ed Towns.

Barron lost to Towns in the 2006 primary, but Towns gave Barron his blessing in the primary.

The race drew intense scrutiny from the party because of Barron’s history of making incendiary remarks about Jews and gays — comments he toned down while campaigning.

The East New York councilman previously dubbed dictators Moammar Khadafy and Robert Mugabe his “heroes” - and compared the Israeli government with the Nazis.

Barron, once a member of the Black Panthers, also received a toxic endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Barron lost to Hakeem Jeffries 72-28,  which goes to show you that no, African-American voters will not just vote for somebody because he's black, folks.  If he's a racist, bigoted asshole, he'll lose just as easily.

I'm still disturbed however that Barron got a quarter of the vote.  It means we've got along way to go in "post-racial" America and an ugly reminder that just because you're not white doesn't mean you can't be a racist asshole.  Glad to see him go down in defeat, but he should have never been on the ballot in the first place, New York.  We're going to have to have a chat later.

Impeachable Character, Once Again

The Republican de-legitimization of President Obama's second term begins before his first one ends.  Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl on the Presdent's recent immigration enforcement directive:

Well, that’s the executive’s job and there are only a couple of ways to do it… If the president insists on continuing to ignore parts of the law that he doesn’t like, and simply not enforce that law, the primary remedy for that is political. And you have it two ways: one is oversight through the Congress to demonstrate what they’re doing wrong and there are some potential criminal charges there for dereliction of duty. Although, I haven’t looked that up yet. And the other part of it is people need to react through the ballot box to turn out of office those people who are not doing their duty. Now if it’s bad enough and if shenanigans involved in it, then of course impeachment is always a possibility. But I don’t think at this point anybody is talking about that.

No.  Not until November 8th.  Wait, I take that back, at least one GOP candidate is running on impeachment of POTUS right now.

Allen Quist, a former state representative running against Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) in Minnesota’s 1st congressional district, told a town hall late last week that Obama’s recent immigration policy, as well as his decision not to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, were both unconstitutional. While some Republicans would cautiously leave the matter there, Quist pressed on, declaring that Obama had committed an impeachable offense. If elected, he promised he would “not only propose it, [he] would argue it to the utmost of my ability and [he] would carry it like a banner to the American public.”

Should the GOP retain the House and President Obama be re-elected, I fully expect articles of impeachment will be sent to the Senate and the President will be tried.  There's no way the Senate will get the two-thirds needed for impeachment, but that's not the point, the point is to "put that Obama boy in his place" and for the GOP to raise money and run candidates, especially Senate candidates, on impeaching the President again in 2014, while basically spending every day in the 113th and 114th Congresses demanding the President and Vice President resign and hand the office over to the GOP Speaker of the House (who may or may not still be Orange Julius).

Of course, knowing these nutjobs, we could very well have ourselves a real constitutional crisis on our hands sometime next January or so.  We'll see.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Last Call

I mentioned last month that Iowa's Republican Party had gone the full Birther by inserting a platform plank that insisted all candidates have to prove their US citizenship, and they went on to make a number of crazy assertions involving Roe v Wade, ACORN, and the Tenth Amendment.

Not to be outdone in the completely insane category, the Texas GOP has released their state platform (PDF).  Here are some of the...lowlights:

Limited Federal Powers –We strongly support state sovereignty reserved under the Tenth Amendment and oppose mandates beyond the scope of federal authority, as defined in the U.S. Constitution. We further support abolition of federal agencies involved in activities not originally delegated to the federal government under a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

We didn't need that Department of Education anyway.  We're Texas, goddammit.  Oh, but it gets worse.  It may be the greatest piece of performance art and political satire written in the last generation.

Blinded By The Light: Revved Up Like A Douche...

Another runner in the night. They hate President Obama so much, they are willing to do anything to get rid of him, even if it guarantees voting against their own self-interest and handing over the country to people like Paul Ryan.  John Cole flags down yet another long-winded diatribe painting POTUS as the most evil, awful man who ever lived.

Hmm?  "Well that's not news, Zandar" you say?  Oh, I'm not talking about Republicans.  I'm talking about why we lost so badly in 2010 and why we could very well lose again in 2012:  Democrats sworn to bring down Barack Obama, specifically raging useful idiots like Matt Stoller.

But there is another narrative, a real narrative about Barack Obama and his administration.  Obama is the ultimate cynic, a dishonest, highly reactionary social and corporate ladder climbing con artist.  Obama is the guy who calls a female reporter “sweety”, who plays poker with the guys, and who thinks that his senior advisor’s decision to cash out after making a “modest” salary of $172,000 at the White House is just natural.  He’s the guy who used the rationale that he’s a father of two girls as to why he doesn’t want young women to have access to Plan B.  He was in favor of gay marriage in 1996, flip flopped for political reasons, and then pretended to change his mind as a matter of conscience.  He runs on populism with a worse record than George W. Bush on income inequality.  His narcissism, and the post-modern ironic sense of self-awareness of how his narrative is put together and tended, is his defining character trait.  It’s not just that he’s a liar.  Lyndon Johnson was a liar, but LBJ lied us into a war in Vietnam as well as a war on poverty.  FDR lied all the time, for good and ill.  Obama’s entire edifice is based on lying almost entirely to help sustain his image, with almost no interest in sound policy-making.  Obama understands the threat of climate change, but like the exceptional con artist he is, what happens to others he does not know, or what happens in the future, is irrelevant to him.  He understands banking, and war, and women’s issues, and corruption and Citizens United.  Like a great con artist, he has studied his mark, the American voter, and specifically the Democratic voter, and he understands which buttons to push.

And his rant goes on like this for paragraphs more, a man so utterly filled with hatred for Barack Obama (who apparently only got elected because he "tricked" stupid Americans like you and me), a man who in one text wall of a paragraph proves beyond any doubt he was never a Democrat, never a progressive, never a liberal, but a raging lunatic who has decided that only the purifying fires of total, unfettered Republican rule will scour the populace clean of sin and allow us to rise up against the One Percent.

This is going to be a long one, folks.  I've got a lot to get off my chest here.  Helpful jump break follows.

Brand New World

Republican Tea Party America has so gorram crushed our country through tax cuts for the rich, spending on stupid wars, and bankrupting our infrastructure that American cities are now forced to give away ad space on fire trucks, school buses, and even gorram fire hydrants just to try to keep basic services.

After Baltimore officials made the wrenching decision to close three fire companies later this summer, the City Council initially sought to avert the cuts with a new money-raising strategy: it passed a resolution this month urging the administration to explore selling ads on the city’s fire trucks. 

It is far from clear whether corporate logos will be painted on Baltimore’s fire engines any time soon. Officials in Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration have expressed doubts about whether the proposal would generate enough money to keep even one fire company open. 

But in exploring the option, Baltimore is joining dozens of other financially struggling cities, transit systems and school districts around the country that are trying to weather the economic downturn by selling advertisements, naming rights and sponsorships to raise money. 

We have so destroyed our urban centers economically that we're literally selling public services as endorsements just to keep fire departments open and people and cities from burning to death, like we're a friggin third world hellhole.

KFC became a pioneer in this kind of unconventional ad placement earlier in the downturn, when it temporarily plastered its logo on manhole covers and fire hydrants in several cities in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee after paying to fill potholes and replace hydrants. 

Pizza chains now advertise on some school buses, as a growing number of states consider allowing school districts to sell ads. The Baltimore City Council member who wrote the legislation urging the city to sell ads on fire trucks, William Welch, said he was simply trying to find a way to help the city meet its growing needs in a time of dwindling revenues and support. 

“As I’ve looked at budgets, they get bigger with less support from the federal and state governments,” Mr. Welch said. “And we can’t tax people out of existence. We’re trying, our mayor’s trying, to bring 10,000 more people back to Baltimore city. And if you have an increasing fee or tax structure, you’re not going to be able to do that. So you have to create alternatives.” 

We can't tax people at all, because taxation is now theft and it will get you killed politically.  We've become a nation of "screw your neighbor" where 99% of us, we all fight for crumbs from the table while the insanely rich laugh at us and buy more of our political system every day.  When you make basic services and infrastructure compete against each other in death matches, you have winners, and you have losers.

The funny part is in this rigged game, we're the losers for even playing.   Welcome to the United States of Hell.

Criminal Teacher Of The Week

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) - A Southern California high school teacher was arrested on suspicion of directing students to assault at least one other student in a classroom hazing incident, police said Sunday.
Emmanuel Delarosa, 27, along with four other students were arrested Saturday after a student who said he was a victim of the hazing contacted school police, Fontana police Sgt. Robert Morris said.
Investigators alleged that Delarosa, a summer school teacher at A.B. Miller High School, knew about the hazing - and in at least one instance directed some students to carry out the hazing to curb behavior problems in the classroom, Morris said.
Jail records show that an 18-year-old student arrested in the case faces charges of assault, child cruelty and attempted sodomy. Fernando Manuel Salgado was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Whatever it was, it can't be good when it involves the words arrested and sodomy.  Seriously, how do these people get jobs while good people starve?

Epic Fail: DEA Admin Bombs Questioning

Please, if you can, take five minutes to watch this.  This is our government at work.  This woman is supposed to answer questions about illegal drugs, and simple refuses to do so.  I cannot believe she is so stupid she doesn't realize what she is doing.  Therefore, I have to assume she is stubborn and incapable of rational discussion about illegal drugs.

Which is kind of important, considering her job.

This woman uses "believe" between nervous gulps.  She is so rattled you can tell she is scrambling to think of answers besides the obvious one, the truth.  You don't have to endorse marijuana to acknowledge that heroin and crack are more dangerous.  Numbers, facts and statistics do that for her, if she would answer honestly.  He didn't even ask the golden question, whether alcohol's numbers show it is more dangerous than marijuana.  I was waiting, but he ran out of time.  She stalled him out.  She simply refused to answer his questions until time ran out, and made an ass of herself and the DEA in the process.

For those who cannot watch, I'll give the rundown. But seriously, you're missing out. Here are some highlights:

Polis:  Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?
Leonhart: I believe all... (gulp) all illegal drugs are bad.

Polis: Is methamphetamine worse for someone's health than marijuana?
Leohart: Again, I don't think any illegal drug...

Polis: Is heroin  worse for someone's health than marijuana?
Leohart: All illegal drugs are... are bad.

This was their golden opportunity to make a valid argument.  There are some points worth considering, and she surely was armed with facts whether she chose to speak them or not.   Instead, she couldn't have made her side look worse.  She is a disgrace, by refusing to use her position and knowledge to answer questions in a simple discussion.

What I find refreshing is that the "believe" and "think" bullshittery that has worked for so long is starting to wear thin.  When this broad can't bring herself to say that methamphetamine is more dangerous than marijuana, you know she is lying through her teeth.  Here it's so obvious you cannot escape the refusal to answer honestly.  I almost feel sorry for her but then I watch her bring it on herself.  This man was not tricking her, he was asking straightforward and legitimate questions.

Facts speak for themselves.  Idiots speak for the DEA.

Here's an even more eloquent speech on drug use:

For The One Who Has It All...

Hey One Percenters!  Why not buy that special person in your life the gift of being able to get away from it all whenever you want?  Nothing beats your own artificial island!

An Austrian firm has come up what it hopes is the next big thing for the mega-rich: a man-made, floating “island” with a list price of 5.2 million euros ($6.5 million), the company’s founder told AFP Monday.

Measuring 20 by 37 metres (66 by 121 feet), the “Orsos Island” has no engine but can be anchored anywhere its owners choose and then towed to another location the other side of the world if they so wish, Hungarian-born Gabor Orsos said.

“The interest has been massive from all over the world, from Australia, China, the United States. We have already had the first pre-orders and we have some potential buyers coming from Australia next week,” the entrepreneur said.

The island is environmentally friendly and fully self-sufficient, with solar panels and wind generators providing power. It can sleep 12 people plus crew and offers 1,000 square metres of living space.

It's basically a glorified super houseboat with solar and wind generators.   I have to admit, if I ever won the lottery, this would be on the list.  And hey, it's green friendly with no carbon footprint.  Once you get it where it needs to be, that is.

Go figure.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

The mask slips, and Republicans tell the truth about their agenda, in this case Voter ID laws.  Meet Pennsylvania GOP House majority leader Mike Turzai.

“We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years,” said Turzai in a speech to committee members Saturday. He mentioned the law among a laundry list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature.
“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Voter ID is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.   Not "Voter ID laws are going to protect the integrity of voting" or "Voter ID laws are going to prevent fraud" or "Voter ID laws will give the public confidence in the system" or even "Voter ID laws are a necessary function in today's digital age" but they are going to allow Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania.

Any reader of ZVTS has witnessed my rants on voter suppression being the major issue of 2012's election, and how Voter ID laws will be used to take the right to vote away from groups that favor Democrats, plain and simple.  Republicans know it.  Democrats know it.  And yet we all pretend it's some noble cause to defend our liberty when it has always, always been a scam to strip the vote from poor urban minorities who pull the lever for Dems.

And here Mike Turzai happily admits that not only is the Voter ID law that Republicans passed going to help Mitt Romney win the state, but that helping Mitt Romney win the state was the entire point of passing the law at this juncture.

The same of course is true of every other Republican state that has passed Voter ID laws since President Obama won election in 2008, in order to prevent him from winning again in 2012 or to keep any other Democrat from winning elections.

All that matters to Republicans is winning.  They don't give a damn about voting integrity, or fraud, or any of that nonsense.  The law is designed to keep Democrats from voting so Republicans win.  Period.

And now we finally have a Republican admitting the truth about Voter ID laws.  They are targeted voter suppression of Democrats.   This is how Republicans plan to win from here on out.

So what do you plan to do about it?

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