Nel's New Day

October 24, 2012

Voting Fraud, Craziness during the Past Few Days

As I get older, the more I appreciate “re-sales”—used books, yard sales, flea markets, etc. Re-selling items became even more important during the recent recession when buyers didn’t have the money to get new items and sellers really needed the money. A case before the Supreme Court may stop any re-selling in the country by making it illegal for anyone to resell anything.

Copyright holders only have control over the first sale based on a law on the books since 1908 . An ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that copyright holders of anything made overseas must give permission to sell it. The case came from a Thai student at Cornell University who found it easier to have his Thai relatives buy his textbooks and ship them to him in the United States where he sold them for almost $1.2 million. Wiley, the company that sold the textbooks, admitted that it sold these books cheaper outside the U.S. but sued the student for copyright infringement.

The ruling was based on the theory that people don’t own any possessions made overseas. Instead buyers “share ownership” with the companies that made the goods, and those companies get a veto over your disposal of them and can also demand a cut of the proceeds.  If the high court rules in favor of this theory, it could be illegal for American consumers and businesses to sell, lend, or give away the things they own  if the company manufactured the goods overseas and put a copyrighted logo or text on them.

When you consider this ruling, think about all the things that you buy that are not made in the United States.

More horrifying news comes from CNN Health that purported that “women’s ovulation cycles” influence the election when they “raise the chances for both presidential candidates that’s totally out of their control.” They claim that there is research indicating hormones may influence female voting choices, depending on whether a woman is single or in a committed relationship.  Several political scientists questioned a study from Kristina Durante of the University of Texas, San Antonio that CNN supported:

 “The researchers found that during the fertile time of the month, when levels of the hormone estrogen are high, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney, by a margin of at least 20%, Durante said. This seems to be the driver behind the researchers’ overall observation that single women were inclined toward Obama and committed women leaned toward Romney.

“Here’s how Durante explains this: When women are ovulating, they ‘feel sexier,’ and therefore lean more toward liberal attitudes on abortion and marriage equality. Married women have the same hormones firing, but tend to take the opposite viewpoint on these issues, she says.”

CNN Health has decided that posting this was not a good idea;  it has taken down its editorial.

Another anti-woman piece came from State Treasurer Richard Murdock (R-IN) last night when he said that women who had been raped should not have access to abortion services because pregnancies resulting from the violent act are a “gift from God.” He’s not alone in his craziness regarding women’s rights. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) refuses to say that insurance should cover women’s contraception and agrees with other GOP members of the Congress who believe that rape results in few or no pregnancies, including Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). Candidate Tom Smith also compared rape to having a child out of wedlock.

My favorite wacko, however, is still Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), a U.S. Senate candidate this year. The man who pushed the “legitimate rape” statement has now been found to have been arrested at least three times in the 1980s during violent anti-abortion protests. At least two of these arrests, for criminal trespass and resisting arrest at women’s clinics, were under a different name, William Akin. Todd Akin began using his middle name after the arrests when he entered politics.

It’s not that Akin respects women. He and his campaign are now comparing his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill, to a dog. At a fundraiser, Akin said, “She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, you know ‘fetch.’”  Later, Rick Tyler, a top campaign manager, tweeted, “If Claire McCaskill were a dog, she’d be a “Bullshitsu.”

Mitt Romney has crossed the country, touting his ability to “cross the aisle” and therefore win over the Democrats to his beliefs. The facts from his one term as Massachusetts governor don’t back this up. In that one term, Romney issued more than 800 vetoes, over 700 of which were overridden precisely because of his reluctance to work with Democrats. As National Journal noted, Romney demonstrated a “relative disinterest in bipartisan collaboration” during his tenure.The New York Times added, “[I]n contrast to his statements in the debate, many say, Mr. Romney neither mastered the art of reaching across the aisle nor achieved unusual success as governor. To the contrary, they say, his relations with Democrats could be acrimonious.”

More negative information came to light today about Romney, including his potential illegal action. The presidential candidate has proudly displayed Staples as one of his success stories. Yet when the company’s founder, Tom Stemberg, was fighting his wife in a toxic divorce case, Romney testified in court that the company was pretty worthless so that Stemberg’s wife at the time, Maureen Stemberg Sullivan, would get much less money. Staple’s stock was “overvalued,” Romney said in court, adding, “I didn’t place a great deal of credibility in the forecast of the company’s future.” Reports show that just weeks after the divorce settlement, both Romney and Stemberg cashed in their stock for a fortune.

At the time of the divorce Stemberg worked with Romney as a health care adviser for Romney. After the divorce, Stemberg canceled her health insurance when she was suffering from cancer and multiple sclerosis.  The chickens may come home to roost because lawyer Gloria Allred, representing Maureen Stemberg Sullivan, has gone to court to “tell a judge that [Maureen Sullivan] does not object to unsealing testimony given by presidential candidate Mitt Romney in her divorce case,” according to The Washington Post.

 

Yesterday I wrote about the ways that conservatives are fraudulently trying to suppress voting. Here are a few new ones. In Florida, Indiana, and Virginia, mysterious phone calls are telling residents that they can vote by phone instead of going to the polls. Most of the complaints come from seniors.

A mass mailing in Florida, written on fake letterhead of a local county’s Supervisor of Elections, states that the recipients in 23 counties must complete  a “voter eligibility form” with Social Security information, Florida drivers licence numbers, and addresses. The letter claims that if the form is not sent to the Supervisor of Elections within 15 days, the recipients will be purged from the voting rolls—just like the actual purge letters ordered by Florida governor Rick Scott (R).

State-sponsored ads on television, radio, DMV posters, and mailings in Pennsylvania are still telling residents that they have to show a photo ID when voting despite a judge’s overturning this law for the upcoming election.

For a bit of  black humor and information about voter need for photo ID, check out this short video from Sarah Silverman. Her slogan is great: “No Photo = No Voto.”

October 6, 2012

Crazy Congressional Candidates

It’s crazy season once again on the campaign trail. Nationally, conservatives are trying to figure out how to prove to the country that things couldn’t possibly be getting better. Those who don’t outright state that President Obama cooked the books are trying to explain that a lower unemployment figure is no big deal. But the insanity goes far deeper when one considers the men running for Congress. (Somehow the males are far crazier than the females, except perhaps for Michele Bachmann.) And some of these people are already in Congress!

Two years ago, one of the craziest candidates was in South Carolina when Democrat Alvin Greene ran against incumbent Sen. Jim DeMint. The unemployed Greene had no funds, no signs, and no website, yet in the primary he defeated Vic Rawl, a former judge and state legislator with a $186,000 war chest. Later it was discovered that at that time he faced felony obscenity charges for supposedly showing obscene photos to a University of South Carolina student and had been kicked out of the Army and Air Force. Some Democrats thought he might have been a plant, but that was two years ago. The memory of Alvin Greene is now very dim.

This year, however, the awards for stupid statements go to Republican candidates, perhaps the most visible being Rep. Todd Akins (R-MO) who is currently running for the Senate. Although Akin’s fame has come more recently from his claim that women cannot get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” he has a history of idiotic declarations: banning hate crimes, as in the anti-hate-crime legislation, actually increases them “by elevating one group over another group”; a defense spending bill legalizes bestiality (although he didn’t explain how); voting for health insurance for poor children is a worse wreck than the Titanic; the Civil War took away state’s rights; and President Obama is the Anti-Christ because he taxes employers.

Delving deeper into Akin’s history, American Bridge 21st Century also found video in which Akin declares that doctors in abortion facilities perform abortions on women who aren’t pregnant. According to Akin, these places also don’t follow “good sanitary procedures,” and they cheat on taxes and misuse anesthetics “so that people die or almost die.” It’s almost as if he might be predicting the future if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

After it was discovered that he had failed to disclose $130,000 in pension funds from his time in the Missouri House, Akins amended his financial reports.

A strong supporter for Akins,  Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said he’d never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest. “Well, I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way,” he said in an interview with King with KMEG-TV. According to a 1996 review by the Guttmacher Institute, “at least half of all babies born to minor women are fathered by adult men.'”

Along with vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, King and Akin co-sponsored the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 3), which sought to change the exception for rape in restricting public funding for abortion to “forcible rape.” If this bill had passed the Senate, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 24-year-old man would have to prove she was “forcibly” raped before she could use Medicaid funds to terminate the pregnancy.

King also promised to single-handedly defeat President Obama’s policy implementing parts of the DREAM Act and warned that Islamic terrorist groups are using America’s southern border to smuggle terrorists into the United States. In a speech, King characterized minority students as people “who feel sorry for themselves.” In comparing immigrants to dogs, he said, “You get the pick of the litter and you got yourself a pretty good bird dog. Well, we’ve got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet.” When criticized for this statement, he said that it was a compliment. He also proposed legislation to allow dog-fighting because “It’s wrong to rate animals above human beings.”

Tom Smith, Pennsylvania candidate for Senate, claimed that pregnancy from rape is similar to “having a baby out of wedlock” before he made another another sexist remark to two women at a campaign event for VP nominee Ryan. After asking him what they were discussing (the response was “the power of petite women”), he told them, “My guess would have been you were talking about shoes.”

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) also entered the rape discussion by declaring that a tiny, tiny percentage of raped women get pregnant. These men need to do a bit of research. A study in 2003 “found that a single act of rape was more than twice as likely to result in pregnancy than an act of consensual sex.” The scientists speculated that rapists are more attracted to fertile and ovulating women who not rebuke their advances.

Earlier Bartlett warned people about nuclear terrorism and urged the 80 percent of the people to relocate to rural areas. He also stated that federally-issued student loans were unconstitutional; disregarding the Constitution could lead down a “slippery slope.” Bartlett cited the Holocaust as an example of what could happen when a country heads down a wrong path.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), previously infamous as “the deadbeat dad” for refusing to pay his wife over $100,000 of child support, now seems to be comfortable attacking his opponent, Tammy Duckworth. He has mocked her for not being a “true hero,” despite her experiences as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Iraq when she lost both legs. Before Duckworth’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, he said, “It has become abundantly clear that at this point the only debate Ms. Duckworth is actually interested in having is which outfit she’ll be wearing for her big speech.” After the convention, he said that he was telling Sandra Fluke to get a job. Fluke was another convention speaker who had earlier been called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh because she had protested for free birth control for women.

Walsh also accused Rev. Jesse Jackson of “oppressing African Americans.” At a town hall meeting, Walsh warned that there is “a radical strain of Islam in this country…trying to kill Americans every week.”  Following the congressman’s remarks, two attacks were launched against houses of worship in suburban Chicago, near Walsh’s district. California-based cell phone company CREDO‘s super PAC has targeted Walsh among a group of 2012 candidates whom they consider the “most odious members of Congress.”

Earlier this year he said that President Obama was elected only because he is black. After re-districting, Walsh left his safe, red district to move to another one, possibly because he was allegedly offered $3.5 million in general election fundraising help from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Duckworth is ahead of Walsh by 14 points, 52-38.

Joe Walsh’s Ohio neighbor, Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber), went to Arizona to call for building a fence and “start shooting” as a solution for undocumented people coming into the United States. One of his ads blames the Holocaust on gun control in Germany and warns of this situation in the United States. Currently he seems to have violated campaign finance laws when he used donations to buy clothes.

Wurzelbacher had good racist company in Arizona with candidate Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, a Mexican immigrant who ranted about the people coming across the border into Arizona. “That includes Chinese, Middle Easterners,” she said. “If you know Middle Easterners, a lot of them, they look Mexican or they look, you know, like a lot of people in South America, dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes. And they mix. They mix in. And those people, their only goal in life is to, to cause harm to the United States.” Mercer’s comments were so vicious that Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer backed out of attending a fundraiser for her.  

Mercer became briefly infamous for comparing giving food stamps to poor people to feeding animals. For a short time, her Facebook page had a statement about the large number of people receiving food stamps and how the government asks that animals not be fed in parks because they will become dependent on this food and not take of themselves. She concluded, “This ends today’s lesson.”

Rep. Gohmert (R-TX) claimed that President Obama’s foreign policy is trying to establish a new Ottoman Empire. This is evidently not a new theory among far-right politicians.  

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), a member of the House committee on science and a physician, said in the Liberty Baptist Church, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) has accused nuns of wanting “to try and divide” the country.  This was after he conceded that climate change exists but said that admitting it would “divide the country.”

 

Farther out on the wacko scale than Bachmann is another Minnesota candidate, Allen Quist. He not only believes that people and dinosaurs lived at the same time but is also convinced that women are “genetically predisposed” to be subservient to men, basing his belief on what he perceives the behavior of wild animals. While he was a state representative, Quist compared a gay counseling clinic to the Ku Klux Klan because both were breeding grounds for evil. He actually went “undercover” at an adult bookstore and a gay bathhouse, trying to prove that they had become a “haven for anal intercourse.”Quist is Bachmann’s mentor.

And I almost forgot about our own homegrown Oregonian! Art Robinson, House candidate, has a doctorate in chemistry from UC-San Diego and believes that nuclear waste should be disposed of by diluting it and sprinkling it in the ocean or putting it in the foundations of houses. He also thinks that global warming is a myth. A 2001 profile of Robinson in the Independent Scientist begins:  “Matthew Robinson, 13, has a Colt .45 strapped to his waist as he practices the piano in the living room. He lives on a 350-acre farm in southern Oregon, with his brothers and sisters, and his father, the scientist Art Robinson.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. For much, much more, Google “crazy congressional candidates.”

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