Nel's New Day

December 18, 2016

Electoral College Votes Tomorrow

Religious faith is turning electoral voters against Donald Trump (DT) after 80 percent of the evangelical world supported him before the election. One so-called “faithless elector” in the Electoral College, Christopher Suprun, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he said that he would vote for someone else than DT. Texas state law permits him to do so. The Republican called DT unfit for office:

 “Given [Trump’s] own public statements, it isn’t clear how the Electoral College can ignore these issues, and so it should reject him.”

Suprun detailed his concerns about DT such as his promotion of violence against Trump-protesters, his choice of advisers he writes. Asked if his faith influenced his decision to vote against Trump, the Roman Catholic paramedic and former firefighter said, “Of course.” He added that he learned from his faith that “it is allowable to choose the lesser of two evils.”

A former Texas electoral voter, Art Sisernos, stepped down from the Electoral College because supporting Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” but he couldn’t break his pledge to the Texas GOP to vote for the Republican candidate. A number of electoral voters struggling between their political requirements and their faith are Mormons who see DT as an opponent of the U.S. Constitution.

The members of the Electoral College lobbying for casting ballots for a moderate GOP instead of DT call themselves “Hamilton Electors,” referring to the constitutional process of voting for the president. In a Federalist Paper, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College should be an “intermediate body” that’s less exposed to the people’s “heats and ferments.”

Hamilton Electors argue that DT is a threat to U.S democracy because of his unfit temperament as a tyrant and demagogue, his threat to world peace and closeness to Russia, and his corruption with his personal dealings. Another argument is that the Founding Fathers envisioned the electors preventing “an irresponsible demagogue from taking office,” according to Atlantic’s Peter Beinart.

In the Electoral College, the 538 people selecting the President of the United States (two senators plus the number of representatives from each state plus another three from Washington, D.C.) cast ballots tomorrow.  Twenty-nine states require these “electoral voters” to select the person who the state chose in its popular vote. Maine and Nebraska are the only states to not vote in a block for the popular vote; they divide the vote based on the percentage of the votes for president in the state. The votes are read in a special joint session of Congress on January 6 when the official winner is declared.

Seuss satires took over Twitter in October. Here is a recent one from John Pavlovitz, a pastor in Raleigh.

trump-seuss

HOW THE TRUMP STOLE AMERICA

john-pavlovitzIn a land where the states are united, they claim,

in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,

lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,

the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.

 

This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,

with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,

and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,

and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.

 

He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,

and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!

It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won,

I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!

Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,

and I’ll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.

 

And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,

but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.

I’ll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such,

They’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!

They won’t question the how to, the what, why, or when,

I will make their America great once again!”

 

The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,

“They’ve all come for your jobs, they’ll all take them away.

You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,

every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”

 

And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,

He just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folk need.

And celebrity preachers they all crowned him as king,

Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.

 

And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,

Until they believed all of those lies were true too.

He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,

And he mislead and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.

 

And the media laughed but they printed each line,

thinking “He’ll never will win, in the end we’ll be fine.”

So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,

‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.

 

And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,

Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,

petrified that their freedom was under attack,

trusting Trump he would take their America back.

From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,

Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.

And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,

all his lies about making America great.

 

Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,

she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,

no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,

or the fact they the Trump had not yet done thing one.

They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,

because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.

And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,

and a lie became truth she could never defend.

And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—

a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.

 

And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,

like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.

And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,

And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true,

With millions of non-voters still in their beds,

Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.

 

And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,

All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,

they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,

they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.

With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,

with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.

And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,

while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.

 

But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times,

And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,

and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,

thinking this is what Presidents actually did,

thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,

terrified to learn he had to actually work,

work for every American, not just for a few,

not just for the white ones—there was much more to do.

He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,

for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.

They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,

and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.

And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win,

He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him.

 

And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,

for America was already more than quite great,

not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true,

It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,

It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew,

It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.

It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,

The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind,

It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,

It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.

And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,

and we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.

And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,

be the greatness that makes our America great.

And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,

over two million more of us—voted for her.

 

You can see Pavlovitz’s latest post about DT here and follow his blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said.

December 9, 2016

Electing Trump Hurts ‘Working-Class White Trump Voter’

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 2:43 PM
Tags: , ,

The recent Brexit vote resulted in regret among many of those people who voted in favor of it because they thought it would never pass. Voters for Donald Trump (DT) were convinced that he would be elected, but, like the Brexit voters, they are beginning to feel remorse because they believed in his promises. Those days have rapidly dissipated since November 9. There’s even a website that reports the tweets from all those DT supporters who now realize that they made a stupid decision on Election Day. Samplings of these include Deplorable Jeff—yes, that’s what he calls himself—who rejoiced in his success. The Twitter bio for this life member of the NRA reads, “We did it! The country spoke. This election was about saving The Forgotten Man!” Yet he now worries about losing Medicare to vouchers and writes, “Y would Ryan/Price jeopardize health of seniors/disabled??” Trump supporter John Harrison tweeted, “I regret voting 4 U because u chose a woman who will defund public education.” Joe Walsh and Sarah Palin, former arch DT supporters, are now crying about his refusal to follow their definition of capitalism—crony capitalism, to quote Palin.

NEW YORK, NY - February 27: Behind the scenes at MSNBC. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/ Reportage by Getty Images)

 (Photo by Charles Ommanney)

Joy Reid, MSNBC’s match for Rachel Maddow, has written a letter to “Working-Class White Trump Voter.” Excerpts follow:

“You’re probably going to read this as sour grapes, and I certainly am sour about a family of kleptocrats moving into the White House because 80,000 of your votes in states that get more federal tax dollars than they put in trump 2.7 million of ours, even though we carry you financially, and California and New York could function just fine as our own countries, without you.

“But the reality is, I do live in a blue state. My governor and mayor are Democrats. Undocumented immigrants are safe where I live. Two of my kids attend a private college, so they wouldn’t have gotten free tuition anyway, and the third goes to a really good public school, where they teach science. I have a job (actually, multiple jobs) that can’t be outsourced to Mexico. And I’ll probably get a tax cut. So I’ll be fine over the next four years, as long as I don’t encounter an angry cop who’s had a bad day. But allow me to be blunt, since I don’t have any desire to pander to you, and it wouldn’t work to pander to you anyway.

“You voted for Donald Trump, thinking that he was on your side; that he will save your jobs and your way of life, whatever you imagine that is. Well, you got played. Over the course of his decades in business, Donald Trump has never given a damn about people like you. When he tore down the old Bonwit Teller building—where my Jamaican godmother was one of the few black women allowed to work as a cashier in the 1960s (her big claim to fame was meeting Troy Donahue)—to build Trump Tower, Trump used undocumented white laborers, mostly Polish, to do it. When his company forced them to work in deplorable, dangerous conditions and even failed to pay them the meager wages they were promised and they complained, Trump threatened to have them deported.

“Trump built Trump Tower using mob concrete, not Bethlehem steel. In fact, he has rarely used American steel in the few buildings he’s actually built; opting for Chinese steel instead. That includes two of his last three projects: the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Then again, Nevada and Illinois voted with us in the anti-Trump majority, so the joke wasn’t exactly on them.

“Now, your supposed hero of the working class, the ‘blue collar billionaire’ who you insisted both during the campaign and afterward heard you, understood you, spoke to you, and cared about you, is attacking one of you. Trump used his Twitter account this week to savage United Steelworkers 1999 of Indiana and its president, Chuck Jones, an ordinary working man who dared to tell the truth about the phony Carrier deal that the media shamefully allowed Trump to ride to glowing headlines and boosted poll numbers.

“To review, Trump used his Twitter feed to credit himself for saving 1,100 jobs at Indiana furnace and air conditioning manufacturer Carrier. In fact, it was still-governor Mike Pence, Trump’s soon-to-be vice president, who cut the deal to hand over $7 million in state tax abatements to Carrier in exchange for delaying the movement of 770 jobs to the company’s new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. That move, over the next three years, and the shutdown of the Indianapolis plant, is still planned. Another 300 white collar jobs Trump claimed credit for, meaning researchers and administrators, not steel workers, were not being moved to Mexico in the first place. And an additional 600 jobs at that plant, plus 700 at a plant in nearby Huntington, Indiana, plus 350 more at a ball bearings factory owned by Rexnord Corp., are still being shipped south of the border.

“Meanwhile, despite the willingness of the incoming Trump-Pence administration to bribe a company with your tax dollars, there’s no guarantee that the small number of jobs saved are more than temporary. For all you know, Carrier only agreed to delay moving those 770 jobs until Christmas, to get the good press. And unlike President Obama’s deal to save literally millions of auto industry jobs in 2009, there’s no agreement for Carrier to pay taxpayers back with interest.

“When Jones pointed out that Trump used Carrier employees as props and ‘lied his ass off’ about the jobs he was supposedly saving, Trump got mad. He tweeted at Jones, blaming him, and US1999, for driving jobs out of Indiana and out of the United States. Think about that for a moment—your next president doesn’t think corporate greed and the pursuit of low wages are driving jobs out; he thinks unions are. That means he thinks your health care benefits and retirement package are the problem, not your CEO and the singular goal of ‘enhancing shareholder value’ at your expense. Sounds like a proper plutocrat to me. Well, Trump went after Mr. Jones, and now Mr. Jones is getting death threats.

“You see, Trump is ‘for’ you, as long as you’re quiet and obedient. The moment you step out of line and stop praising him, it’s on. He’ll treat you no differently from how he treated the Gold Star family, the Khans, or former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for criticizing him during the campaign. You didn’t care much about them, since they belonged to groups you were voting to sideline—the Muslims and the Hispanics you think are taking over ‘your’ country. But you might want to give a damn about Mr. Jones. Because what Trump is doing to him is a sign of things to come for you.

“Meanwhile, Trump torched the stock of another American manufacturing company, Boeing, in retaliation for its CEO criticizing him; first inflating the size of their new contract to upgrade the Air Force One fleet, and then threatening to cancel the deal altogether, which would cost American jobs and help Boeing’s only competitor: Airbus, of France.

“Trump is a big businessman. He’s your boss or CEO, not one of your brothers on the line. He is on record saying that in his view, wages in the U.S. are too high. Trump’s pick for labor secretary, fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, is against raising the federal minimum wage, too.

“Trump the CEO manufacturers his tacky suits and ties in Mexico, and his daughter manufactures her clothes and shoes in China. But neither of them plans to set the example for their fellow tycoons by moving those jobs to the U.S.A. Ivanka is moving some of her production to Ethiopia. And she just struck a new production deal in Japan, while on the phone with her dad and the Japanese prime minister. The Trumps have spent exactly zero percent of their lives caring about anyone other than themselves. Don’t expect that to change now, especially since they can now enrich themselves on international bribes, courtesy of daddy’s new job.

“Trump’s threat (again via Twitter) of a 35 percent tax on companies who ship jobs overseas is complete bull. It’s never going to happen, and he knows it. It’s Congress, not the president, that moves legislation. And this Congress, which you voted for, is controlled by Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who don’t want to take the country back to the 1950s, where you want to go, but rather to the 1920s. You might want to Google “Calvin Coolidge” or order the collected works of Aldous Huxley for Christmas if you need a primer.

“Many of you voted based on the fiction that Hillary Clinton was going to take your guns—the way Barack Obama sent fleets of black helicopters to take them, right? Just pause for a moment to think about how ridiculous that sounds; sending who, the military, door to door to collect your silly firearms? Wake up, people. That idea is as foolish as the notion that before Nov. 9 you weren’t allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas.’

“So Merry Christmas, Trump voters. Your guns are safe. They always were. Instead, while Trump is entertaining you by hiring white generals named ‘Mad Dog’ to make you feel powerful again, the Republicans in Congress fully intend to take away every program that saved your parents and grandparents from the Great Depression.

“Sure, they’re coming for ‘Obamacare’ first. And you’re happy about that because you think that’s just free insurance for black ‘Obama phone’ users and so-called illegals. But it’s not. It’s the access to insurance covering 20 million people, including millions of people like you; including 400,000 of you in very-not-black Kentucky. It’s covering disabled kids and people with pre-existing conditions, many who are too sick to get insurance without it. And Ryan and his friends want to cancel it, and then take three years to replace it, probably with Ryan’s favorite thing: vouchers.

“But that’s not all. Ryan is also coming for Medicare. He wants to privatize that, too, and not for your mom and dad—they vote in midterms. He’s going to privatize it for you. So when you retire, working stiff in your forties or fifties, you’re going to get a handful of vouchers, instead of Medicare. And he’s also coming for Medicaid, to turn it into a block grant. That’s not a problem for me, since my blue state will keep caring for our poor. Your state—with its Republican governor and legislature? Not so much. Your emergency rooms are going to fill up with the sick, and your bankruptcy courts will fill up with their cases when they can’t pay the bills. And your rural hospitals are going to close.

“You’ve turned your country over the top tenth of 1 percent. Talk about ‘establishment.’ Their interest is not in helping you. It’s in further enriching themselves, by privatizing every public program—Social Security can’t be far behind—dropping the corporate and top income tax brackets as close to zero as possible, and making you pay, for everything from privatized roads owned by multinational corporations to elementary school. They’re into taking land, including our public lands and parks, or using another Trump favorite—public domain—to drill and frack, endangering your water just as surely as they poisoned Flint’s. And when they can’t steal any more from the Native Americans—who have shown they still have some fight left—they’ll come for your farms.

“In Michigan, Republicans have already gotten started. They voted to further gut unions’ ability to bargain for decent health care and retirement through the use of strikes, and congressional Republicans have already voted to strip the ‘buy American’ clause out of a bill to repair the nation’s water infrastructure.

“As for black Trump supporters, don’t be fooled. Remember when Trump said he didn’t want black people counting his money, only Jewish people? Well look at his appointments. He didn’t even respect neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson enough to insist that he take over Health and Human Services. Instead, he’s tossing the black guy in the “urban” chair.

“So good luck, Trump voters. I hope at some point you realize what’s happening and fight back. Your choices, unfortunately, do affect us all, and they will until we wake up and junk the Electoral College, which puts rural states’ zeal for Christian rule ahead of blue states’ desire for good government.

Until then, all I can do is try to warn you, and then wish you good luck.”

Thanks, Joy Reid! [Those who want more “Reid” can watch her weekday program at 2:00 pm EST on MSNBC.]

December 5, 2016

Portland Women March against Hate

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 12:10 PM
Tags: , , ,

Over 1,000 people participated in the mile-long Portland Women March against Hate last Saturday, that included live music and speeches. The signs carried by marchers showed their activism as participants addressed issues such as Portland remaining a sanctuary city and gun safety laws. The group gathered in protest of “misogyny, misogynoir, racism, xenophobia, transmisogyny, and transphobia.” Barbara Chapnick said, “My message is for Tom Price. It’s my body, my choice and get out of my vagina.”

As with any peaceful protest, the media gave the march short shrift; the Oregonian buried the event on p. 13. Fortunately, my photographer friend Ann Hubard sent me the following pictures.

m-collection-1-full

m-revolution-left-vertical-6

m-dont-grab-me-vertical-right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

m-feminism-right-vertical-5

m-nasty-right-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

m-america-great-vertical-right-with-girls m-pussy-vertical-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

m-girls-fun-vertical-left m-sign-wide-vertical-right-newspaper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

m-not-powerless-vertical-short-left-maybe m-refugees-vertical-3-or-4

 

 

 

 

 

m-overview-last

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2016

U.S. Suffers from White Male Entitlement

A virulent genetic disorder overwhelming the United States continues to pass from one generation to another. Supported by a male monotheistic religion, Christianity has increased the genetic white supremacy during the past half millennium through killing of women accused of being witches, Muslims starting with the crusades, heathens to reform them, etc. Although science identifies no racial differences, skin color has been vital to the control of the nation. “Red” Native Americans were slaughtered and still being persecuted, and “black” captives were and are enslaved and mistreated to create a fortune for the ruling—i.e., white—class. Yet columnist Charles Krauthammer mourns how “the white working class [is] left out in the cold, neglected and condescended to as both our social status and economic conditions decline.” The neglect is  no longer recognizing his “race” as being  superior.

The White Male Supremacy Violence Disease (WMSVD) controlling religion, government, education, media, military institutions, and income was threatened during the past election, and the WMSVDers fought back with a vengeance. The anger built since a black (actually biracial) man moved into the White House with his black wife and children. Hatred for him was commonly displayed in social media, emails, and tweets while the haters kept trying to convince the world that they could not possibly be racists.

Racism has permeated the country since its inception. Slaves were classified as three-fifths of a human in the U.S. Constitution, the persecution of Jim Crow started as soon as the Civil War was over, and Republicans developed the “Southern Strategy” in the late 1960s by appealing to racism in order to dominate the majority of the states in the Union. By the campaign of Donald Trump (DT), the white men’s terror that they were losing their superior entitlement guided the line of attack.

DT’s surrogates such as Rudy Guiliani and white supremacist Steve Bannon have compared his victory to that of Andrew Jackson, a wealthy slave owner nicknamed “Indian Killer”who  massacred thousands of Native Americans and killed more on a death march to clear their land for cotton plantations complete with slaves because, to Jackson, people of color weren’t human. He started the Seminole War and then fabricated “evidence” to get two British men executed in another violation of justice. Yet conservatives in the U.S. became furious when the Secretary of Treasury attempted to replace his image on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.

The so-called “neglected” white men who had to put up with a black man in the White House for eight years weren’t about to a woman lead the country. By 2016, 52 percent held a “very unfavorable” view of Hillary Clinton, 20 points higher than their “very unfavorable” view of President Obama in 2012 and 32 points higher than the percentage for this rating of the president in 2008. They delighted in DT calling for shouts of “lock her up” at the GOP convention and ensuing DT rallies–even the one this past week. Journalist Peter Beinart found these messages on merchandise at the convention:

  • Don’t be a pussy; vote for Trump in 2016.
  • Trump 2016: finally someone with balls.
  • Trump that bitch.
  • Hillary sucks but not like Monica.
  • Life’s a bitch: don’t vote for one.
  • KFC Hillary Special: 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts, left wing.

And more with highly disgusting visuals.

Research reveals that the emasculation that most feared by men  is subordination to women, and women who need traditional gender roles are also afraid of male subordination. Both genders judge women more harshly than powerful men. Males are prized for being ambitious, but ambitious women engender “feelings of moral outrage” such as contempt, anger, and disgust.

Jennifer Berdahl of the University of British Columbia found that women who “deviated from traditional gender roles—by occupying a ‘man’s’ job or having a ‘masculine’ personality” were disproportionately targeted for sexual harassment. The same harassment occurs when women even propose that she might violate traditional gender roles. In southern cities, locations where more men maintain traditional gender perspectives, higher rates of male-on-female murder occur with greater economic equality between men and women.

In the United States, people who “completely agree” that society is becoming “too soft and feminine” were more than four times as likely to have a “very unfavorable” view of Clinton as those who “completely disagree.” And DT’s supporters believed that the U.S. isn’t “tough” enough.

Clinton is highly popular when she isn’t campaigning, when she’s actually in an office. And she was most popular when she played the traditional role of “First Lady” and then serving a male president as Secretary of State. As a president, however, she would have been one of the “illegitimate authorities.” People attacked her for trying, and she became increasingly defensive. Past experience taught her than admitting a mistake armed her enemies, and she became paranoid—probably because people really were out to get her.

People blamed President Obama for increasing racism in the country, but his position gave whites “the perceived moral license to express more critical attitudes about minorities,” according to a study. With Clinton no longer a threat, white men will know that they have again achieved a greater level of superiority.

For 50 years, Clinton worked to achieve her goal to help people by complying with traditional gender norms—changing her last name to match her husband, changing her hair, being more submissive, etc., etc. Yet the media and their readers still focused on her glasses, her pantsuits, her increasing weight, her voice, etc. She worked across the aisle and forgave the criticism, moving forward.

The “common scold” laws punishing only women during the colonial days of America for quarreling have quietly continued into the 21st century. It continues with describing women’s mannerisms as scolding, shrill, slutty, weak—including DT’s references to women as a pig or dog. Any woman who asserts herself—especially when running for president—is too loud or ambitious or brash.

White male entitlement was obvious during the NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum earlier this year. Facilitator Matt Lauer interrupted Clinton far more than DT, asked her more challenging questions, and questioned her answers more often. This behavior follows studies about interruptions in conversations and other negative treatment of women.

Democrats have spent the past three weeks trying to analyze the reasons that Clinton lost—racism, need for jobs, a weak Democratic presidential candidate, problems such as Clinton’s emails, accepting money for speeches from Wall Street, supporting trade deals and the Iraq War in the past, etc. Their primary objections, however, were to her personality, blaming her for being arrogant and not friendly enough. Trump was overwhelmingly arrogant, not friendly, and obnoxious. But he’s a white man.

White males now want to take over the Democratic party because they think women cannot win. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio tried to oust California’s Nancy Pelosi as House Dem leader because he thinks she has the “wrong message.” He wants to concentrate on jobs “because we’re not talking about the kind of things that are on people’s minds.” Ryan says that no one cares about the Zika virus, possibly the next health epidemic, and accuses Pelosi of not being able to talk with the “beer-drinking” union members.

As of today, Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote by 2.5 million despite the constant battering from Congress, the media, and members of her own party. She is the only presidential candidate to be openly opposed by the FBI–the weeks immediately before the election–and the Russian government. She ran against a candidate with no moral compass who lied 80 percent of the time and made promises that he knew he wouldn’t keep the other 20 percent. And she ran in the first presidential election since the Supreme Court wiped out laws to stop voter suppression.

Across the country, GOP-controlled states stopped low-income voters from exercising their freedom to vote: North Carolina would have been hers if the GOP governor had not stopped minority voters in 18 of 100 counties from early voting; Wisconsin would have gone for her if officials had not illegally kept low-income voters from getting IDs; Florida would have been a Clinton state if minorities had not been kept from the polls by intimidation; Texas might have been competitive if officials had not lied to low-income people about their eligibility to vote; etc. And Democrats could have taken over the House if not for the gerrymandering after the 2010 GOP takeover.

Scottie Hughes, Trump surrogate, claims that facts are “an idea of an opinion,” that “there’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.” During his campaign, DT continually promised that he would keep Carrier in the United States when the Indiana-based air conditioning and heating systems maker threatened to take 1,400- jobs to Mexico. People voted for DT because of his promises, but he said this week that he didn’t remember saying that. He also promised that he wouldn’t pay off companies to stay. Yet Carrier gets $7 million from Indiana’s taxpayers to keep 1,000 jobs—how long no one knows—while Carrier sends another 1,000 to Mexico. Yet DT said that he didn’t really make this promise, that it was “a euphemism.” People voted for DT because he made this “euphemism.”

The United States is a culture of white male entitlement. Those who put up with Barack Obama in the White House decided that they wouldn’t let a female take over when President Obama left. And now the white males of the Democratic party are deciding to throw women under the bus in hopes that they can take back the country.

November 9, 2016

Time to Clean Closets, Enjoy Friends

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 7:29 PM
Tags: , ,

Last night I didn’t sleep much. I’m guessing that millions of people didn’t sleep much either. Fortunately, a friend had dropped off several library books, and I spent several hours reading them. By this morning, I decided that I couldn’t do anything today about Donald Trump’s election, and I needed to take care of myself. My resolution was that this is the first day of the rest of my life, and I’m going to have a good life. For the rest of the day, I cleaned closets and the garage, taking some time out to talk to a distraught friend about the disaster of watching Trump try to destroy the people in the United States for the next four years.

My friend wasn’t ready to give up her anger and grief while we were on the telephone, but she sent me the following piece from Garrison Keillor in the Washington Post. She wrote, “Sounds a little like what you were saying.” Keillor no longer broadcasts his radio program, Prairie Home Companion, that he started over 40 years ago, and he no longer has a regular syndicated column. But he has given me this comfort in a difficult time.

garrison-keillor“Pollsters in the presidential election seem to have gone awry. Several months of polls predicted Hillary Clinton would be elected president, by winning support in key states. While Clinton started out strong, evidence shows pollsters tend to underestimate conservative voters. Trump gained support in key swing states, becoming America’s 45th president.

“So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure. We liberal elitists are wrecks. The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting “Lock her up” — we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted “Stronger Together.” It just doesn’t chant.

“The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They only wanted to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, birdwatchers, people who make their own pasta, opera goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch. The Trumpers exulted in knowing we were tearing our hair out. They had our number, like a bratty kid who knows exactly how to make you grit your teeth and froth at the mouth.

“Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones and they will not like what happens next.

“To all the patronizing b.s. we’ve read about Trump expressing the white working class’s displacement and loss of the American Dream, I say, “Feh!” — go put your head under cold water. Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity. America is still the land where the waitress’ kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians, but it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren’t plugged into electronics day and night. Whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids.

“We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids and we Democrats can go for a long brisk walk and smell the roses.

“I like Republicans. I used to spend Sunday afternoons with a bunch of them, drinking Scotch and soda and trying to care about NFL football. It was fun. I tried to think like them. (Life is what you make it. People are people. When the going gets tough, tough noogies.) But I came back to liberal elitism.

“Don’t be cruel. Elvis said it and it’s true. We all experienced cruelty back in our playground days, boys who beat up on the timid, girls who made fun of the homely and naive, and most of us, to our shame, went along with it, afraid to defend the victims lest we become one of them. But by your 20s, you should be done with cruelty. Mr. Trump was the cruelest candidate since George Wallace. How he won on fear and bile is for political pathologists to study. The country is already tired of his noise, even his own voters. He is likely to become the most intensely disliked president since Hoover. His children will carry the burden of his name. He will never be happy in his own skin. But the damage he will do to our country — who knows? His supporters voted for change, and boy, are they going to get it.

“Back to real life. I went up to my hometown the other day and ran into my gym teacher, Stan Nelson, looking good at 96. He commanded a landing craft at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and never said a word about it back then, just made us do chin-ups whether we wanted to or not. I saw my biology teacher Lyle Bradley, a Marine pilot in the Korean War, still going birdwatching in his 90s. I was not a good student then, but I am studying both of them now. They have seen it all and are still optimistic. The past year of politics has taught us absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada. The future is scary. Let the uneducated have their day. I am now going to pay more attention to teachers.”

When the GOP took over both the House and Senate, they swore to accomplish something. They didn’t. Starting on January 20, they will have the entire enchilada and have to perform. Trump promised to stop all crime in the country on the first day of his presidency and then bring back manufacturing to the U.S. soon after.

By now, Republicans are sure to be suffering from performance anxiety. Braggart Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called on using the election’s mandate “responsibly” because it may not be permanent. He’s figured out that Congress won’t–or can’t–follow through with all Trump’s promises and that people will turn on the GOP if they don’t produce. Trump may be president, but he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

Thousands of demonstrators are marching in the streets tonight, not only in New York City but also in Boston, Chicago, Portland (OR), Seattle, Washington, and places in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, as a protest against Trump’s racist policies.   not-my-president

I’ll have more to say about the election later, but for right now, I’ll just keep cleaning out the rest of our house, reading, and enjoying my friends.

October 17, 2016

Is the Election Rigged? In Some Ways, Yes

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Rampant claims of a “rigged” election are igniting Trump supporters as their leader is struggling to avoid press coverage about his sexual assaults. Donald Trump started raving about how Philadelphia’s inner city (aka black voters) needed to be monitored last summer when Hillary Clinton was ahead, and he’s returned to this mantra. Calls for Republicans (aka white men) to watch these polls have been followed by Rudy Giuliani’s declaration that more dead people “vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.” He added that the GOP members rarely cheat because “they don’t control the inner cities the way Democrats do.”

Donald Trump’s diversion seems to be working: 41 percent of the people in the United States that he’s right about the rigged election. That includes three-fourths of all Republicans. I’m one of those people who agree. Here’s why.

Let’s start with Florida where absentee ballots are thrown out if the voter’s signature is not an exact match with the one on file. Fortunately, a court in Tallahassee declared this policy unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker decried the “crazy quilt of conflicting and diverging procedures” that allowed local officials who “lack formal handwriting-comparison training or education” to decide whose signature was valid and whose ballot should be thrown away. He called the practice “obscene” and then lambasted the state for not offering voters to fix their questioned ballots. Walker wrote:

 “The State of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters arguably for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time. It is illogical, irrational, and patently bizarre for the State of Florida to withhold the opportunity to cure from mis-matched signature voters while providing that same opportunity to no-signature voters. In doing so, the State of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters arguably for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time.”

Of the 2.3 million people who voted by mail in Florida, one percent of their ballots were rejected. That’s 230,000 voters who were disenfranchised, a case of the state rigging the election. A study found that Democrats were much more likely to have rejected ballots than Republicans.

Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, tried to block other people from registering by his refusal to extend voter-registration deadlines after Hurricane Matthew recently disturbed the process, killing 41 people and causing massive flooding. Judges blocked his refusal as they did in Georgia and North Carolina.

Prior to the 2008 election, states had had no restrictive voting laws for almost a half century, primarily because the Voting Rights Act of 1965 blocked states most likely to have these unconstitutional laws preventing certain people from voting. Within an hour after the Supreme Court overturned the key part of this act in 2013, states, beginning with Texas, began to pass a wave of laws with the sole purpose of decreasing votes for Democrats. Courts have pushed back against unconstitutional anti-voting laws, but it’s been a continual struggle. This source gives specifics about which states have these punitive laws, but generally they can be found in the South and Midwest. This link also provides the newest information. If you are confused by reading this, can you imagine being in one of these states and trying to figure out how to vote?!

Of the 50 states in the nation, 17 tried to use their new restrictive voting laws for the first presidential election during the current year. Recent court rulings rolled that number back to 14 because courts blocked some measures in Georgia, North Carolina, and North Dakota. Texas’ laws were mitigated but remain more restrictive than before the Supreme Court ruling. Almost half the states create burdens for people to vote, primarily opposing women, minorities, and poor people, in the current election. States most likely to pass these restrictions are the ones with the highest black turnout in 2008, the greatest Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2010, and/or those covered by the Voting Rights Act.

The worst voter restriction laws are strict photo ID requirement that allow only a short list of government-issued photo IDs to be used as identification. During the first election after Texas passed its law, 600,000 registered voters lacked the correct ID, and 11 percent of people nation-wide do not have these IDs. Texas required that the government-issued ID have exactly the same name as birth certificates, something highly unlikely for married women. Without the ID, voters could cast provisional ballots but must return to the polls within a few days with the mandated photo ID. Ten states are in courts facing lawsuits regarding the laws; six of these are specifically about photo ID laws.

GOP consultant Carter Wrenn admitted what everyone knows about the new laws—that the purpose is to decrease Democratic votes. “Of course, it’s political,” he said. “Why else would you do it?” As he said, Republicans want to protect their majority. The GOP would have left early voting if blacks voted Republican, according to Wrenn. He also explained that the GOP had to use the excuse of voter fraud to get away with their restrictive laws. That’s the voter fraud of 35 total credible allegations between 2000 and 2014 for over 800 million ballots in federal elections and hundreds of millions more ballots in elections within states.

Wisconsin, where GOP Gov. Scott Walker owns the state Supreme Court, is a classic case of Republicans rigging the vote. Last summer, a federal judge struck down early voting restrictions and other blocks to voting and ordered that IDPP voting receipts be issued “promptly” to those seeking them. People were still given the wrong information about obtaining photo IDs. Others were refused the receipts although they brought the necessary documents.

One serious case of voter rigging in another red state occurred during the Arizona March primary. The number of polling places in Democratic Maricopa County was cut from 400 in 2008 to 60 in 2016 for a population of over four million people. Locations were small, some with as few as six voting booths and half these left empty by poll workers to keep people in long lines outside from coming in to vote. Some people waited over six hours, and people with disabilities couldn’t cast ballots because no accommodations had been made for them.

A poll worker reported that the system tried to force her to give GOP ballots to Democratic voters, supposedly because the system failed to identify registered voters if the information was entered in lower-case letters. The party affiliation had also been tampered with before the election, changing registration from Democrat to Republican. Over 2,000 calls to the Secretary of State office went unanswered on the day of voting. The Arizona legislature decided to shut down the hearing on these issues before people waiting for hours could speak, and at least one person was arrested. This week a judge allowed the state law that invalidated ballots cast in the wrong precinct.

Serious vote rigging began after the 2010 GOP landslide in state legislatures. Because of district gerrymandering to benefit Republican candidates, Republicans had a 234-201 majority in the 2012 election for the U.S. House of Representatives although Democrats received 1.4 million more votes. The current GOP majority in the House is 247-188, the largest since 1928. One theory is that 226 seats are safely GOP, 193 should go to Democrats, and the remaining 16 are in play. The House is held by 218 seats.

The electoral votes are equally rigged. Mitt Romney lost Pennsylvania in 2012, but he got 13 of the 18 congressional districts and nine by near double-digits. At this time, Pennsylvania allots all its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the state, but Republicans want to shift the state law so that a GOP loser can get more electoral votes for president.

All this “rigging” would benefit Republicans, but Trump’s call for people to protect him is being answered by threats of violence. Trump incessantly calls on Hillary Clinton to be thrown in jail, and his supporters threaten to “take her out” if she wins the presidency. The Kentucky governor has called for blood to be shed if necessary, and white supremacist groups, who look on Trump as their leader, are bringing back the traditions of Confederates after the Civil War who won elections through intimidation and violence.

don-bollesAngry Trump supporters have threatened the Arizona Republic with killing its employees and burning down the building after the longtime conservative newspaper endorsed Clinton, the first Democrat in its history. One called invoked the name of Don Bolles, the newspaper’s investigative reporter killed by a car bomb 40 years ago, and said that more reporters would be blown up.

As Trump ratchets up his hateful rhetoric, such threats will cross the country. Trump wants fear. Life is bad enough with him as a candidate; it would be unbearable with him as president.

[Note: If you live in Oregon, tomorrow—October 18—is the last day that you can register to vote in the November 8 election. And because we live in a state with all mail-in voting, you can vote in peace: you don’t have to face the militia at the polls who will try to keep you from voting.]

May 14, 2016

How Far Will the GOP Go?

Republicans are going crazy after “the people” spoke and chose a candidate that they—and the majority of people in the United States—consider unsuitable. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) met with other GOP legislators and presumptive GOP heir Donald Trump to lay down the law. Trump appeared to back down on all the backing down that he had done during the past week, and Ryan, who foolishly believes that he can control a loose cannon, found him “warm and generous”—although not enough to endorse him. Other Republicans are going off on their own crazy ways.

Ryan’s governor, Scott Walker, blames the state’s deferment of $101 million in debt on President Obama, costing taxpayers at least $2.3 million in just interest plus tens of millions more. Wisconsin has the money, but Walker put it into the general fund for any shortfalls. The president’s economy has added jobs every month for six years, but Walker’s failed policies badly hurt Wisconsin. Yet Walker’s rainy day fund has $280 million thanks to the president’s gains in the stock and job market. His reason for looking poor is to make future budget cuts to use the Koch brothers’ “starve the beast” government strategy.

Some of the GOP craziness is ongoing. The Platform Committee of the Texas GOP is voting next Wednesday on an “independence” resolution. Then Gov. Rick Perry hinted that Texas might separate itself from the “United States,” but this vote will be the first action in its 171-year history about a decision to make the “state” an independent nation. With ten county chapters supporting the resolution, the Texas Nationalist Movement seems to be moving toward the political main stream from a fringe group.

In the GOP’s effort to “Benghazi” Hillary Clinton, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is working with Fox host Adam Housley to find the fake witnesses swearing that military assets could have saved the lives of four people at the diplomatic compound almost four years ago. Fox has no evidence, but Gowdy wants these non-existent people for his committee. Housley is known for finding Dylan Davies who claimed that he scaled the wall on the night of the attack and engaged combat with the terrorists—before Davies admitted he lied.

Randy BarnettRandy Barnett is blaming John Robert for Donald Trump’s popularity because of Robert’s vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act. He claims:

“Roberts increased cynicism and anger at play-by-the-rules conservatives and decreased respect for institutions across the board.”

Barnett’s article in highly conservative The Federalist is based on the premises that John Roberts knows that the health care law violates the constitution but he pretends that it doesn’t because of his belief that courts should not overturn law passed by majorities. The argument overlooks Roberts’ deciding votes that gutted the Voting Rights Act, campaign finance law, and gun control legislation—and other decisions. Somehow, however, Barnett has convinced himself that the Trump supporters vote for the businessman because of a judicial review. This man who teaches lawyers at Georgetown University has even crazier ideas—so far right that the John Birch society doesn’t agree with them.

A recent GOP fit (they have so many!) comes from a report claiming that Facebook suppresses conservative articles in its Trending Topics feed. There is no support for the allegations from former Facebook workers, and Republicans have never expressed any concern that “fair and unbalanced” Fox is anything but. The RN accuses Facebook of “censoring” the right and using its power “to silence view points and stories that don’t fit someone else’s agenda.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has declared that he “wants to haul Facebook employees before Congress.” He wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the demand that Trending Topics employees brief the Commerce Committee by May 24.

Despite all the vacation days and the health crisis of the Zika virus moving through the southern states, GOP finds that “Facebook hearings are a matter of urgent national interest.” Even if someone could find support for allegations, the question begs congressional oversight for a private social-media company. Thune now worries about Facebook’s integrity whereas his opposition to net neutrality declaimed that any political interference in Internet operation is unacceptable. In 2007, during a fight against the “Fairness Doctrine,” Thune argued:

“I know the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear government officials offering to regulate the news media and talk radio to ensure fairness. I think most Americans have the same reaction. Giving power to a few to regulate fairness in the media is a recipe for disaster on the scale that George Orwell so aptly envisioned.”

In avoiding a consideration of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Republican congressional members decided that the last elected year of the president’s four terms is a “lame-duck session,” but they are considering a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the real “lame-duck session” between the general election and the changing of the guard at the end of December. Only three trade-related bills have been voted on in a lame duck: 1974, 1994, and 2006.

TPP is a really bad idea: extending drug company monopolies over their products, undermining environmental and labor regulations, allowing corporations to send more jobs oversea, voiding U.S. consumer laws with unelected international tribunals, etc.  Republican legislators who lose in November can vote for the TPP before they leave Congress and then take jobs for giant corporations grateful for their vote.

Publicity about the North Carolina “bathroom law” keeping trans people out of the appropriate facilities just hasn’t stopped. The Department of Justice has ordered the state to rescind the law to keep its federal funding, and North Carolina is suing the DOJ for its order. At the same time, all 10 GOP House members gave the Department of Education until yesterday to promise—provide the state with “immediate assurances”—that the North Carolina won’t suffer monetary penalty for violating federal civil rights. GOP state leaders, who complain about being “bullied” by the federal government are telling lobbyists that their employing corporations that they can expect retribution for speaking out against HB2, the potty law.

Gov. Pat McCrory wants to overturn the Civil Right Act of 1964 to make segregation legal again so that the state can “make special circumstances for those individuals [transgender students].” He also claimed that the “far left … brought this [agenda] up.”

Middle Age RiotThe latest lawsuit against the federal government, filed by “North Carolinians for Privacy,” is identical to a suit in Illinois from the Alliance Defending Freedom. It begins with the falsehood that DOE’s guidance “forbids educational institutions from maintaining sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms” and moves on to the argument that gender identity is not a component of sex. The lawsuit’s main claim is that the DOJ “unmistakable ultimatum” to either prohibit sex-specific restrooms or lose federal funding endangers all the students’ access to education. Another premise in the lawsuit is accusing the DOJ of violating the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) because the agency discriminates on the basis of gender identity against non-transgender people because it allows “some, but not all, biological males the right of entry and use of female restrooms and locker rooms.” The suit claims that North Carolina’s HB2 “treats all persons the same, regardless of their gender identity.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has dived into the bathroom controversy by describing it as the “biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools.” About potentially losing $5 billion of federal funding for Texas education, he added, “Well, in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver.” The analogy indicates that either he or Texas—or both—should be compared to Jesus who was betrayed by Judas for “30 pieces of silver.” Answering Patrick’s comments, including the one about no longer giving poor students free lunches, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “I think this does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to elected statewide office. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are.” Texas cut school funding 25 percent in the ten years following 2002 and ranks 38th in the nation in per K-12 student funding.

The U.S. disdain for the Republican party is at its highest level since 1992; 62 percent look at it unfavorably whereas only 33 percent view it with favor. The positive perception fell four points in the past six months. Only 68 percent of self-identified Republicans approve of their party, an 11-point drop from October. Independents prefer the Democrats to Republicans, 37 to 28 percent. The majorities of minorities oppose the GOP: women, 62 percent; blacks, 79 percent; and Hispanics, 61 percent. Among whites, 37 percent view both parties favorably while 59 percent have an unfavorable view of Democrats and 58 percent—only one percent less—have the same view of Republicans.

Update: Wisconsin’s debt deferment was erroneously listed as $101. It is $101 million.

 

December 23, 2015

New Gov. Bevin Gives Kentucky Lumps of Coal

 

 

MinWageIncrease2016

US_minimum_wage_map.svgEighteen states are raising the minimum wage in 2016, 14 on January 1 and four others later in the year. At $10 an hour, California and Massachusetts the highest rates; Arkansas has the lowest increase, going up $7.50, $.25 over the federal rate in 21 states, last changed in 2009. Eight states are indexed to the cost of living which did not increase this year.

Of the 21 states that must follow the federal rate because they have no minimum wage or law puts it below federal rate, most are in the South.  [Map for 2015: Green – higher than federal rate; blue – same as federal rate; red – lower than federal rate; yellow – no minimum wage; Arkansas created minimum wage since map was published.]

Kentucky Governor-elect Matt Bevin responds to a question during a press conference in the Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

 (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Kentucky and its newly elected Tea Party governor belong to the bottom 21 states. Some of the approximately 16 percent of eligible voters who elected Matt Bevin as governor, only the third Republican since World War II, will soon going to suffer from buyer’s remorse if they aren’t already doing so. Bevin’s actions show what can happen if the United States elects a Republican president.

One of five orders Bevin issued on December 22, two weeks after his inauguration, was to lower the minimum wage for state workers and contractors to $7.25. Rent on an average one-bedroom apartment in the state would require a person to work a 60-hour week. He also stated that he doesn’t believe in minimum wage, that “wage rates ideally would be established by the demands of the labor market instead of being set by the government.” The top one percent could make even more by dropping their wages to the dollar-a-day that “free market” sets in the Third World. The danger there is that people couldn’t buy their products—even food.

Tipped state workers are even worse off. Last summer, the former governor raised the hourly wage for waiters and waitresses at state parks from $2.19 to $4.90. Bevin put them back at $2.19 an hour.

In addition to declaring a moratorium on hiring state employees, Bevin reversed Beshear’s practice of requiring merit employee actions be approved by the secretary of the governor’s Executive Cabinet. Bevin’s order also requires a review of all vacant positions in any agency to determine their necessity. In addition, he eliminated the Governor’s Employee Advisory Council, which advised the governor’s office on merit employee wages and terms of employment. The council was established by Democratic Gov. Paul Patton, disbanded by his successor Republican Ernie Fletcher and re-established by Beshear.

When former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear restored voting rights to at least 140,000 with felony convictions, Kentucky was one of just three states that permanently disenfranchised all people with felony convictions. An early action by Bevin was to again disenfranchise all these people after they have paid their debt to society. Bevin had campaigned last year on restoring these people’s rights, but he reversed his earlier opinion. In Kentucky, one in five blacks lost their voting rights after conviction, compared with one in 13 nationally.

In another order, Bevin saved Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis from future jail terms by ordering the state to remove names of county clerks from marriage licenses. Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins, whose office serves the state’s second largest city, Lexington, said Bevin may have exceeded his authority because these licenses, a civil transaction, require clerks’ names for historical record. Another legal issues comes from the altered marriage licenses issued to couples in Rowan County since September that don’t include Davis’ name or the name of the county. Because of a question about their legality, the ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to order Davis to reissue the licenses, but Bunning has not yet made a ruling.

Nationally, the most controversial of Bevin’s actions comes from his declaration that he would eradicate health care for Kentucky residents. The state has been touted as an icon of improvement in health care, but Bevin pulled all ads for the state health exchange, Kynect. The earliest that he could shut down Kynect would be in 2017 because the law requires a 12-month notice to the government. Changing to the federal health care exchange, as Bevin has suggested as a possibility, would be more expensive than Kynect. Its annual budget of $28 million is funded by a one-percent assessment on health premiums. A federal exchange requires 3.5 percent in assessment, and dismantling Kynect would cost the state an estimated $23 million.

Some of the people who voted for Bevin are worried about the loss of their health care, but others think that people don’t deserve Medicaid. One of the latter is Angel Strong, an unemployed nurse, who went on Medicaid after she lost her job. “I had never had Medicaid, because I had insurance at my job,” said Strong. “Now I am out of a job and I am looking for another job, but in the meantime I had no income.” Medicaid recipient Strong doesn’t want other people to get Medicaid. She says that they need “tough love” because “[people] want everything they can get for free.” Most of Strong’s neighbors in Jackson County also need financial help for health insurance coverage, but most of these people didn’t consider their loss when they voted.

Rick Prario, 54, found he was eligible for Medicaid after losing his longtime job at a hardware store, but he’s angry because he had to pay the law’s tax penalty for going uninsured in 2014 when he was still working. During that time he skipped treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis, treatment that he now receives on Medicaid. His plan now is to quality for disability that he sees as a surer thing than Medicaid.

During two terms with former Gov. Beshear, the unemployment fell to a 14-year low, and the state’s uninsured rate dropped by over 40 percent. The new GOP governor was exposed as a “con man” and a “pathological liar” during his failed senatorial primary run against Mitch McConnell earlier this year. Among other actions, he failed to pay taxes, got a $200,000 federal grant for a fire in his Connecticut business, told people that he was unaware that he was actually attending a cockfight, claimed graduation from MIT—the list goes on and on. The GOP was so disenchanted with Bevin that they failed to support him for the governor’s race.

Bevin’s lies don’t end there. He’s accused Beshear of leaving Kentucky “burdened with a projected biennial budget shortfall of more than $500 million” despite the million in surplus.

The new governor won’t have an easy term. He has to deal with the only state House of Representatives in a Southern state controlled by Democrats. His first strategy was to appoint Democratic legislators to other positions that paid more, but Speaker Greg Stumbo is fighting Bevin’s takeover in all the issues that drive Kentucky backward. For example, Bevin has promised to repeal state taxes on inventory and inheritances with no plans to replace the revenue.  Bevin’s secretary of state and attorney general are both elected Democrats. AG Andy Beshear is the former governor’s son.

coalBevin may have won because he isn’t a “career politician” (although rigging the voting computers may have had some influence). Kentucky will now have a “laboratory experiment” for people who think that people with no experience and education in a profession will do a better job. By now, however, people may be learning that their Christmas stockings contain lumps of coal instead of something to make their lives better. As the website for Kentucky for Kentucky state, “Nothing says ‘I do not approve of you,’ like a real live chunk of Kentucky’s filthiest export.” It’s too late for this year, however, because they’re sold out, but there’s probably enough lying around in the state that the new governor can find.

Today, December 23, is Festivus Day, made famous by scriptwriter Dan O’Keefe, who wrote for Seinfeld. Celebrated with an aluminum Festivus pole, the holiday includes “Airing of Grievances.” People living in Kentucky will have lots to air for this year’s Festivus Day and most likely much more by Festivus Day 2016, especially those 400,000 people who may lose health care because of Matt Bevin. And the 140,000 who lose the right to vote. And the people who lose salaries and pensions. And ….

November 19, 2015

Koch Brothers Worse Than We Thought

The Koch brothers, long vilified for their strong support of extremist right-wing positions, want to be liked. Upset about being seen as billionaires who purchase GOP politicians to make money and destroy the environment, Charles and David consented to a joint interview on MSNBC’s conservative Morning Joe show. They may have also appeared on the program to tout older brother 80-year-old Charles’ new book, Good Profit. James Davis, spokesman for the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners, said that the men “benefit all Americans.”  The good part—they want to lighten prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. On the other side, they want to slash taxes (certainly for the wealthy), cut government spending, and reduce regulations for businesses (like their own extensive gas and oil companies).

While the brothers claim they aren’t involved in “politics,” they donate millions to the NRA, Americans for Prosperity, Chamber of Commerce, Generation Opportunity (for young voters), Americans for Tax Reform, Heritage Foundation, American Energy Alliance, and others. They also pay for “business schools” at respected universities to promote their far-right policies that have led to the massive income inequality in the U.S. Thanks to two Supreme Court decisions, the Koch network of non-profit groups and for-profit companies can accept unlimited cash without disclosing donors and faces few spending restrictions.

Charles Koch did admit in the interview that billionaires expect a return for their donations to political campaigns. This isn’t a problem, according to Koch, as long as those generous donors have the right intentions. Considering the Joe Scarborough’s fawning approach, he might have received something from the Koch brothers. Scarborough and his co-host did go to a private donor conference earlier this year and praise the Kochs as “awesome” and a “godsend.” Nobody is saying who paid the expenses.

During the interview, the brothers complained about the government’s picking winners and losers in politics. Massive donations allow the brothers to take over that role. This infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars make them a third party: they spent  more than the RNC is the last go-round and plan to spend much more this time. Their position is that political spending is basically “free speech” instead of an intention to “slant [the political system] your way.” The “free speech” decision by the U.S. Supreme Court passed with five justices in favor; two of them, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, had attended Koch billionaire meetings.

Agreeing with the Koch brothers, Marco Rubio has just acquired his third billionaire, Frank Vandersloot, founder of Melaleuca nutritional supplements and worth over $1.2 billion. (Mother Jones wrote about how Vandersloot sued after one of their articles described how Vandersloot, virulently anti-LGBT, “bashed” and “publicly out[ed] a reporter.”) According to Rubio, those big donors don’t want anything in return for their millions.

Maybe it’s not a “slant” of the political system, but Charles Koch said, “I expect something in return. … I want the government to require that companies only profit by making other people’s lives better.” The definition of “better” was left up in the air. Even if he is anywhere near right, policy priorities of elected officials track those of the bankrollers rather than the general public. When Paul Ryan says that he doesn’t want “the people” to pay for paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage, he means “the wealthy people.” The general public wants a higher minimum wage, but Charles wants to eliminate it entirely.

Charles claims that their only goal is to end corporate welfare. Koch Industries has received at least $195 million in state and local subsidies, plus $6.3 million more in federal loan guarantees.

Profits from the Kochs’ multi-billion-dollar energy empire are threatened by renewable energy, so they pour millions of dollars to stop the development of clean energy. Organizations financially backed by the Koch brothers and electrical utilities and led by the mis-named Consumers for Smart Solar are promoting an anti-home-solar amendment in Florida. Homeowners’ ability to contract for the no-upfront-cost installation of solar on their homes led to an 80-percent increase in these installations last year. The Koch brothers consider consumers with solar as “free riders on the system.”

A general belief that climate change is caused by humans threatens Koch Industries profits so they pay tens of millions to groups and politicians to continue denying the science related to climate change. Their spending has led GOP leaders to block actions to save the planet.

Despite the Koch brothers’ attempts to look “liberal” and accepting, they have given millions of dollars to be fed through other groups donating to anti-LGBT and anti-abortion organizations.

In a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 69 percent of voters agree with the statement that they “feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than working to help everyday people get ahead.” Republicans and Democrats in 16 states and almost 700 communities across the country have enacted referenda opposing Citizens United and big money in politics. The day after the Kochs spoke on Morning Joe, voters in Maine and Seattle approved initiatives to limit the influence of big money in elections and empower average citizens.

As people fight against the Koch brothers policies, Charles and David are watching them. They claim that all their political activities are open and aboveboard, but Politico reporter Kenneth Vogel found a high-tech surveillance and intelligence-gathering business, Koch Intelligence Agency, that tracks liberal and Democratic groups for the two men who promise to spend almost $1 billion in the 2016 elections. The 25 employees, including one who worked as an analyst for the CIA, harvest geodata from social-media posts of the Koch opponents. Managed by a limited-liability partnership called American Strategies Group, LLC, the company describes itself as a “business league” in order to legally hide the identities of its members.

Tracking labor unions, environmental groups, and liberal big-donor groups is probably nothing new for the Kochs. Their past surveillance included watching brother Bill when they fought for control of the family business and fortune. Those who have challenged the Kochs—federal officers, members of the press, and private citizens—have suspected that the brothers are watching them. Angela O’Connell, lead federal prosecutor in an environmental-pollution case against Koch Industries in 1995, said that she “operated as if everything she said and did was being monitored.” A lawyer in another case against Koch Industries found his office bugged. During a senate investigation into Koch Industries, its operatives delved into personal lives of the committee’s staffers.

Most people think of elections in terms of candidates and ballot measures. The Kochs aim to realign U.S. government, politics and society that will benefit wealthy people and corporations. To do this, they must neuter progressive super PACS, unions, and people who they consider to be academics and elites. In that way they can destroy all regulations giving them the opportunity to greatly add to their $60+ billion assets and continue to add to their oligarchic ambitions. You can better that they aren’t really interested in making our lives “better.”

November 7, 2015

Will Computer Hackers Determine Elections?

“Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.” It’s an old saying that might be true in Ohio during the most recent election. A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana miserably failed with a tally of almost two-to-one. I assumed that many of the no votes came from people who disagreed with the part of the amendment that would give sales control to just t, essentially a monopoly. According to Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, the vote may have a much darker reason. Their article, published in the Columbus Free Press, claims that “televised screen shots taken Tuesday night of live election returns in Ohio provided by the Secretary of State’s office showed hundreds of thousands of votes flipping from the “yes” to “no” column of Issue 3, the ballot measure to legalize marijuana.”

Secretary of State Jon Husted, the man who provided the election returns, was “vehemently opposed” to the measure, Issue 3, and “threatened its proponents with legal action.” Live television showed the flips of hundreds of thousands of votes going from yes to no in just minutes. The shot on the right was taken just 11 minutes after the one on the right although the number of reporting precincts increased by only 6 percent. The first screenshot, with 39 percent of precincs reporting, showed the measure ahead by 65 to 35 percent.

television shot 1

television shot 2

 

Ohio has a history of voting problems.

 

Over a decade ago, James Q. Jacobs published a lengthy article about the “voter irregularities and anomalies” that may have caused John Kerry to lose Ohio—and the presidency of the United States. He claims that an analysis of Cuyahoga County votes shows that Kerry votes were changed to George W. Bush votes. In a study of 166,953 votes, one of every 34 Ohio voters, the Kerry-Bush margin shifted six percent through punch card cross-voting. Jacobs said, “Seven-eighths of voters in heavily-Democratic Cuyahoga County, more than one of every eight Ohio Kerry voters, could have cross-voted at an adjacent precinct using the wrong ballot order.” By Ohio statutory requirement, candidate names rotate to the top of the ballot list an equal number of times. If ballots cast for one precinct are counted with a different precinct’s ballot order, the votes can be reversed or assigned to a third-party candidates, a situation that had an unusually high incidence in several Cuyahoga County precincts.

An investigation by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that “some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.”

The CEO of one of the most crucial suppliers of electronic voting machines, Warren O’Dell of Diebold, pledged before the 2004 campaign to deliver Ohio and thus the presidency to George W. Bush. In 2004, Bush’s margin of victory was only 118,775 out of 5.6 million votes, 800,000 of them cast on electronic voting machines.

Other GAO conclusions:

Some electronic voting machines “did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected,” meaning than an entire vote count can be slipped.

“It was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate.”

“Vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level,” leaving the opportunity to use altered memory cards.

The GAO also confirms that access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected. Access to one machine provided access to the whole network allowing a small group of people to change large numbers of votes.

Access to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords.

The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy, meaning, again, getting into the system was an easy matter.

One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail.

A voting machine in Mahoning County recorded a negative 25 million votes for Kerry. Election officials in that county also agreed that voters reporting at least 18 machines visibly transferred votes for Kerry to Bush. Franklin County voters experienced the same problem, and dozens of voters swore that their vote for Kerry disappeared without a paper trail. Kerry’s margins were very low in both counties compared to exit polls. In Gahanna Ward 1B, recording 638 people voting, Bush had almost 4,000 extra votes. On 1:43 am after Election Day, Miami County reported an additional 19,000 votes after the central tabulator had reported 100 percent of the vote; 13,000 of the votes were for Bush. Shelby and  other counties admitted that they discarded key records and equipment before any recount could take place.

In 2007, Lawrence County officials reported votes going to the wrong candidates. At the end of an election that year, a tally printed and posted on the door of the county precinct got numbers one way, but a tabulation machine at the county’s headquarters flipped the numbers, exchanging the number of votes for two candidates. E-voting machines were made by Election Systems & Software. Lawrence County Election Director Catherine Overbeck didn’t say how they determined which tabulations were correct.

Furious with President Obama’s 2008 win, Karl Rove promised to deliver Ohio for Mitt Romney in 2012. Fox network called the Ohio vote for President Obama soon after 11:00 pm, but Rove told them to wait. He claimed a shift to the right immediately after 11:00 am as it had in 2004. That’s when the GOP secretary of state, Ken Blackwell, called SMARTech to fix the computers that had just gone down, and they rerouted he vote through its company in Chattanooga. Kerry’s lead reversed by over 6 percent. SMARTech’s top client was the Bush-Cheney campaign, and the company worked for Jeb Bush and the Republican National Committee. Journalist Craig Unger gives the details in his book, Boss Rove.

In 2012, Rove predicted the same reversal from the same counties that had flipped right in 2004. It never happened, and Karl Rove’s jaw dropped. I watched him as the votes kept on coming for President Obama in Ohio. Here is his meltdown.

A few weeks before Election Day, Anonymous, a hacktivist group, issued a video statement warning Rove that he was being watched. Two days after Election Day, Anonymous released a press statement claiming that it prevented Rove’s attempt to steal the 2012 election for Romney.

 “We began following the digital traffic of one Karl Rove…After a rather short time, we identified the digital structure of Karl’s operation and even that of his ORCA. This was an easy task in that barn doors were left open and the wind swept us inside.”

“ORCA” was a Romney’s high-tech get-out-the-vote system to keep tabs on potential voters and to target who hadn’t voted yet on Election Day. Anonymous claimed that ORCA’s purpose was to rig the vote and that the group blocked Rove’s access to “digital tunnels” for vote changing.

Election Day is one year from tomorrow. The United States is the only major democracy that allows private partisan corporations to secretly count and tabulate the votes with proprietary non-transparent software. As of now computers are no better than they were when Ohio gave George W. Bush the presidency in 2004, and Karl Rove was positive that the state would put Mitt Romney into the presidency in 2012. Matt Bevin won governor in Kentucky by a tidy margin despite polls indicating either a Democratic win or a very tight margin. How many elections in the United States have been decided by those in power who are willing to electronically steal elections for their own benefit? We won’t know because the government refuses to provide the same security that computers in banks and large corporations require. Will computer hackers decide the presidency of the United States in 2016?

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and adventurers.

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

www.occupydemocrats.com/

Moving America FORWARD

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: