Friday, September 7, 2012

Last Call

Charles Pierce weighs in on arguably the most important speech last night in the grand scheme of things:  that of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia on the GOP war on minority voting.

John Lewis gave a speech on Thursday night, in the first hour of the convention, that almost nobody saw, which is too bad, because it summed up the great unmentioned subtext of this year's election — namely, that, between the new torrents of money that are overwhelming the system, and the rise again of voter-suppression legalisms in the various states, which are in many cases products of those same new torrents of money, the election is coming perilously close to becoming a puppet show. The Republicans didn't mention that, because they have taken in so much of the new money, and because Republican governors and legislators in the various states are behind the new voter-suppression laws, and everybody knows that. The Democrats are caught in a bind, because they have to play in the new universe of campaign finance, too, and because they're trying to keep up with a symphony of well-financed propaganda that seeks to make voter-suppression into a good-government initiative. John Lewis is not fooled. John Lewis has seen this before. And John Lewis told the convention what he's seeing rising in the country out of his own past.

Black, white, brown...the new color of privilege is green, certainly.  When a man who has paid his dues in blood and sweat and pain like he has, when he tells you he sees the nightmares of his past in the plastic smiles and saccharine logic of the Republican party, when tell you he sees the old, bloody ghosts leading the carnival of horrors, summoned by the pious mewling of "voter integrity"...yeah, you sit next to the man and learn.

Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward? My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union. Not too long ago, people stood in unmovable lines. They had to pass a so-called literacy test, pay a poll tax. On one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. On another occasion, one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar-all to keep them from casting their ballots.  Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting. They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state's new voter ID law is "gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state." That's not right. That's not fair. That's not just. And similar efforts have been made in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. I've seen this before. I've lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.

You want to know why I voted for Obama  and plan to vote for him again in a state like Kentucky where he'll most likely lose by 20 points?  Because.  I can vote.  Because it is sacred, and people have died and bled and were driven to their knees by the grief and sorrow of witnessing the struggle, and you do it anyway.  Because those who came before me paid my way to be able to vote and in some cases paid a terrible, brutal price, and I will not dishonor them by throwing that sacred right away.  You want to know why I vote?

Because I can.

And I will do whatever it takes to maintain that.  It is a gift secured for you by men and women like John Lewis and all the people who came before, and when I see people say "I don't know if I should vote" and take that privilege for granted and whinge about how it doesn't matter because there's no difference between the parties, you look at the issue of voter suppression and tell me there's no difference.  One party believes voting is a right for all Americans and they have put their lives on the line in some cases to secure that right.  The other side believes it's a perk for only those who are found worthy because they are right-thinking, a party that wants to go back to the Good Ol' Days for them, when they still controlled the country uncontested.  That is changing precisely because of the changing vote and the power it represents, and it terrifies them to their rotten, diseased hearts.  If voting is so utterly useless and pointless, why do they fear it so much?

That alone should determine not only which party you should vote for, but that you should be gorram proud and honored to vote so that you too can pay that right forward to your children and nephews and nieces and grandkids.  I don't come at you guys with the grim visage all that much, but this is one of those times.  I implore you to vote.  That is the cost, one much lighter than John Lewis has paid and has seen paid.  You owe it to the past, you owe it to the future, and you owe it to yourself.

Because you can.  Because you fight like unrelenting hell for those who still cannot.  And yes, that should be a good enough reason.  End of line.  The tag is dead serious.

Vote like your country depends on it.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Top stories at Bloomberg News yesterday:

S&P 500 Reaches 4-Year High, Treasuries Fall on Bond Plan

U.S. benchmark stock indexes jumped to the highest levels in more than four years and Treasuries fell as the European Central Bank announced a bond-buying plan and reports fueled optimism in the U.S. economy. Spanish and Italian debt surged. 


Bloomberg Poll: Second Obama Term Bad For U.S. Markets

By a margin of 46 percent to 39 percent, investors say Obama’s re-election would be bad for U.S. financial markets, according to a quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll conducted on Sept. 4. That represents a sharp reversal of opinion from May, when investors backed Obama 48 percent to 36 percent. 

That's pretty much all I've got.  Markets up 65% in the last four years, but Obama's re-election will tank the markets. Sure, why not.  Lots of empirical evidence there supporting DOOOOOOOM.


Crocodile Tears Of Regret

A Missouri bishop who became the nation's highest-ranking Catholic official charged with shielding an abusive priest was found guilty Thursday of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse, a conviction that extends the Church's struggles to shake its reputation for protecting pedophile priests.
Bishop Robert Finn was acquitted on a second count. He received two years of probation, but that sentence was suspended. He is required to have mandatory abuse reporter training.
Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were each charged with two misdemeanor counts of failing to report suspected child abuse to the state. Prosecutors said Thursday they are seeking to dismiss the charges against the diocese, but the judge hasn't decided on the request and is set to rule Friday.
"I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events have caused," Finn said to the judge before being sentenced.
It sounds tough, until you realize he just has to go to a class that tells him what he already knew... he is a mandated reporter.

He isn't sorry for the hurt this caused, anyone capable of that would have reported crotch shots of little kids. Anyone who really gives a damn about people knows common decency demands we try to shield the innocent.  Instead, he sat on it and let a pedophile continue.  Unforgivable.

But tell me again how I should live, tell me again how I need to be, and how I need to treat my fellow man.  Tell me how the Catholic church knows the way and is above reproach.

Keep in mind, Catholic readers, I don't have issues with anything besides the Church and its actions.  But enough is enough, nobody should support an organization that says "Yeah we did it, what are you gonna do about it?"

From The Mouths Of Babes

I've been really disappointed in the world lately, and I am afraid it's starting to show.  I so enjoy it when people do good things, and it grows into an even better thing.  And that's just what we have for you today.

Forget toys and video games. When Wyatt Erber won $1,000, the Illinois third-grader knew exactly what he wanted to do with the money.
The 8-year-old gave his winnings to the family of his young neighbor, 2-year-old Cara Kielty, who is battling leukemia.
"He was really aware of what cancer is," said Wyatt's mom, Noelle Erber. "When he found out Cara had cancer, his heart sank."
One week after the Cara Kielty was diagnosed, Noelle Erber asked her son if he'd like to enter a scavenger hunt sponsored by a local bank. The grand prize was $1,000.
"Wyatt immediately said, 'Let's do it, and if I win the $1,000, I want to give it to Cara,'" Erber said. "The idea of being able to give a thousand dollars wowed him."
When they found out they had been the first team to turn in all the clues, Wyatt called Cara's mother, Trisha Kielty.
"I knew he was wanting to do it for Cara, which is the sweetest thing ever," she said. "But an 8-year-old giving adults money? I tried to protest to his mom. Then she told me he asked how much chemo this would buy Cara. He gets it."
The Kieltys, who have been close friends of the Erbers since they moved to their street five years ago, decided to accept the money and "focus on the fact Wyatt is such a gracious kid," Trisha Kielty said.
The third-grader's act of generosity did not go unnoticed. A local charity matched his gift to the Kieltys. A man in Canada heard about the story and sent a letter praising Wyatt, along with $100 to give to the Kielty's for Cara's treatment.

Yeah.  That felt good.  Here's hoping Cara comes through this and enjoys a lifelong friendship with the boy who did his best to help her during the worst time of her short life.

College Loan Kristallnacht

It must be very exhausting to compare everything the Democrats do to the Nazi atrocities before and during WWII.  I mean the knee-jerk stupidity of Republicans screaming that the Dems getting out of bed and brushing their teeth is the Reichstag fire, that Dems shopping for groceries is just like the annexation of the Sudetenland, and that Dems making college loans easier to get is just like the Holocaust is just getting tiresome, you know?

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) says he supports student loans, so America’s youth can get a good education. But the government getting involved in education, he believes, puts the country on a slippery slope that could lead to, say, something like the Holocaust.

At a town hall event at a college in Maryland on Wednesday, Bartlett said he could not find “a shred of evidence” in the Constitution that the government should be involved in education. It’s “certainly a good idea” to give students loans, Bartlett said in a video posted by the Washington Post. “But if you can ignore the Constitution to do something good today, tomorrow you will be ignoring the Constitution to do something bad,” he explained. “You could. There are more people in our, in America today of German ancestry than any other … The Holocaust that occurred in Germany — how in the heck could that happen? And when you start down the wrong road, it can be a very slippery slope.”

Barlett’s spokesperson told the Post that the student-loan remarks fit with the congressman’s belief in limited government.

Sure they do.  Needless to say, Roscoe P. Douchetrain here apologized.

 “While explaining my position on an important Constitutional issue I regrettably used an extreme example as a comparison that was ill-advised and inappropriate. I should never use something as horrific as the Holocaust to make a political point, and I deeply apologize to anyone I may have offended.”

Sure you do.  And you'll do it again anyway, but that won't really matter because you'll apologize again then, too.

And so it goes.

The Case To Keep His Job

The Democratic National Convention is over, and Bon and I will be covering the highlights on the podcast today (hopefully).  The third and final day was filled with some pretty good speeches, but they all got underway when former Rep. Gabby Giffords brought the house down with something as simple as the Pledge of Allegiance.

Later on, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, now host of her own show on Current TV, delivered a passionate attack on fellow Michigander Mitt Romney.

(More speeches below the jump...)


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