Sunday, May 24, 2015

ISIS in IRAQ Greeting and Theme Song: "Come on in - easy pickins..."

Facts on the Ground as ISIS Closes in on Baghdad 
(very likely)

Waiting for their New Name
Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) or simply: The Islamic State

Not to overstate the obvious, but Iraq and nearby Syria are in very bad shape.

Headlines are eye catching: Sec. Def. Carter: “Iraq has no will to fight and win” (see his remarks here).

Washington (CNN) — In his first comments since the key town of Ramadi fell to ISIS in Iraq, Mr. Carter blames the weak state of Iraq's military as one major reason for the city's fall in an exclusive interview on CNN recently with Barbara Starr, saying in part:

“What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing IS force, and yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight IS and defend themselves.”

My notes from here: Mr. Carter went on to say that the U.S. can give Iraq arms and equipment and such but NOT the will to fight and win. I totally agree with that assessment.

I also add that IS has the material, equipment, message, and appeal to recruit the type of forces they need - that is:

(1)  for young men with nothing else to do in life except travel there to “fight and die for Allah
(2)  to earn a small salary, 
(3)  to receive minimum combat training (unless they are prior military someplace else), 
(4)  to receive their clothing and equipment and food,  
(5)  be promised a part of the victory for a brighter future that they did not have back home where they probably were unemployed with no future, 
(6)  to have the honor to rally around a cause to “Kill the Infidels” and protect Islam against the U.S. and their lackeys.

The funding for ISIS is a key and critical part of this whole mess. Money is needed to pay their fighters and buy stuff they haven’t already captured from the fleeing Iraqi forces. They seem to have plenty that and lots of Toyota trucks (I wonder who supplies them????) and gas to move the gear. And, they are gaining support based on fear of death wherever they end up winning.

It seems to me that the U.S. and others in the air fight need to provide more air to hit their supply routes and convoys. A hungry, slow moving force, without their equipment is weak. I hope that is a part of the overall air campaign strategy, which won’t win, but it may provide an incentive to fight for their own damn country with a morale booster as it were, or if they lose Iraq, then what?

That would be very bad news for their next door neighbor, Iran, who is an sworn enemy of ISIS. Surely they would enter the fight big time since they are a foe of ISIS and would not want them entering Iran, which ISIS could be emboldened to do. 

Then that would make things uglier than now, not even counting the fact that ISIS would gain a country, Iraq, as their launching pad for actions across the entire ME. That would be very bad news for a lot of countries with young men who would surely join ISIS for some sort of ISIS PR campaign and play: “World Domination for Allah.”

No more American blood can or must be shed in the defense or liberation of Iraq or that region, other than protecting and helping Israel. As Bush-Cheney once said, “Mission Accomplished: ha... that never came even close once the politics changed in 2011 after the U.S. left. The Iraqis simply could not handle the “freedom as it were.” That is painfully obvious.

Finally, the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq will always remain the precursor for what we see now in Iraq and across that region regardless of the nasty politics here at home. Now, a complete and near total disaster is about to get worse with the Battle of Baghdad, which is coming

Stay tuned – the worse is yet to come.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

GOP Enviornment Policy: Air is Fine, Food is Safe, Water No Problemo — Trust Us

                  Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)                   Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY)

Image result for GOP on Climate Change No Problemo
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)                  For. Gov. JEB Bush (R-FL)

BTW: There are other GOPers who deny climate change or pollution or stuff like that than those 4 above. A good run down is here from Bill Moyers - check it out. Now the rest of this ongoing story.

Introduction to GOP move to rein in or totally dismantle the EPA:  Newly-elected Senate Majority “Leader” Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pledged to rein in the EPA and in his fight he is joined by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who also said on election night 2014 that if the GOP gains the majority that he would become chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and work against the EPA. Inhofe is an established enemy of the EPA and a staunch skeptic of the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, even written a book two years ago titled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” Inhofe even compared the EPA to Nazi Germany’s Gestapo and pushed to roll back water and air pollution rules, ozone limits and funding for contamination cleanup.

Background: In recent years, the EPA has undertaken a series of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the carbon pollution that is a major cause of global warming – that is that which is emitted from stationary sources such as power plants and mobile sources such as automobiles. All of the EPA actions fall under the authority of the Clean Air Act. EPA has also promulgated other standards to reduce air pollution — such as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants that provide indirect climate benefits by encouraging companies to build and operate newer, more efficient power plants.

The Clean Air Act sole purpose is to reduce carbon pollution and other types of air pollution has been under attack from lawmakers in both parties practically since 1975 when it was enacted.

As polluters and their GOP allies in Congress continue to attack the EPA, including calls to dismantle the agency (remember Rep. Michele Bachmann and other speeches calling for that?). On the other hand, a broad range of constituencies including business, faith, environmental, sportsmen and women, community development, Latino, and more — have called on Congress to oppose efforts that block these strong safeguards and to indeed protect our public health more so.

Now: Republicans in the Senate are pushing forward an environmental nightmare of a bill — what it would emasculate the Clean Air Act (1975) that they pledged to do since 2014: 

*  Current standards to curb power plant carbon pollution emission: Blocked.
*  The EPA’s power to protect all communities from harmful air pollution: Gone.
*  The guarantee that has made the Clean Air Act work for 45 yearsGone.

Why? Painfully obvious: Force legislation that exists out with that which will pad (more) the pockets of Big Coal, Big Oil, and anyone else who profits from pollution from those products into the air.

What this bill would do is cut at the heart of the Clean Air Act that would make it impossible to effectively limit carbon pollution from power plants into the air and do more damage not prevent further damage — all that is the #1 source of the pollution that fuels directly climate change.

What the GOP bill says in simple language: The Clean Power Plan (the current law) and other clean air rules … shall be of no force or effect, and shall be treated as though the rules had never been issued. Again I ask: why?

Meanwhile across town as it were: At a stop in Bedford, NH hopeful Jeb Bush fielded a question about climate change, arguing it was a problem but not of the “highest priority,” and that there needed to be greater discussion about the role of humankind in its effects. His remarks included him saying in part:

“Look, first of all, the climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t even have a conversation about it. The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality.”
Note: President Obama spent a recent week pushing climate change as an integral part of U.S. foreign policy and Jeb called it a “small part,” but quickly added that the U.S. should take it seriously.
[h/t Reuters]
[Image via Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com]
Meanwhile, in the House and directly related: House subcommittee on Energy and Power Chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY).  A bill that would delay and ultimately weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives.
Note on Mr. Witfield and I suspect others, too has received a large chunk of his campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry and electric utilities, e.g., in the 2013-2014 election cycle, his top three donors were First Energy Corp., the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and Alpha Natural Resources (that according to data compiled by Open Secrets.org).
In his entire career as a member of Congress, Whitfield received from electric utilities, $707,315; from oil and gas, $503,997; and, from the mining industry, $315,577.
So, what is at stake for him and others like him who hate the EP? Oh, yeah their political survival in office. I call it the “Golden Goose” complex – they can’t or won’t kill that booger even to serve and protect those they say they are in office to serve and protect.
Sorry about the booger reference graphic, but graphics at this point are worthwhile to make the point against those arrogant, out of touch SOBs in office who serve for selfish reasons and not much else…!!!
Finally about water – does that matter? EPA reports that one out of three Americans get their drinking water from sources that aren't clearly protected, and the new EPA rules under the CWA would make sure those waters aren't polluted. Some members of congress and at the state levels say it is an overreach and was aggravating longstanding trust issues between rural areas and the federal government.
They say the rule would "trample on private property rights and hold back our economy," was read from a memo sent out by the office of House Majority Leader McCarthy from California just before the House floor debate and vote – it (H.R. 1732 passed: 261-155 on May 12, 2015). The White House has threatened to veto the legislation.
That new rule and EPA oversight? Broadly, the EPA rule would assert federal regulatory authority over streams, tributaries, wetlands and other flowing waters that significantly affect other protected waters downstream. That means some operators who wanted to dump pollutants into those waters or develop around them would have to get a federal permit.
So, what is wrong with that you might ask? Overreach or concern for the water we drink?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Frontal Attack on the Military — Not a Foreign Force — From Our Own Congress

Another step in a bigger plan if enacted: Privatize Commissaries

Quite a long post, but one that is necessary and detailed to discuss a very tough subject: Privatization and now DOD more and more.

Extracted Via my email notices

Stars and Stripes | May 15, 2015 | by Travis J. Tritten

WASHINGTON -- At least five military commissaries would be privatized under a two-year pilot program proposed and unveiled in a Senate version of the 2016 defense budget.

The bill calls for DOD to temporarily privatize those five commissaries while federal auditors study the potential effects of private ownership on the entire network of commissaries.

My note: why? Oh simple really and typical of asinine government action:

Congress is eyeing benefits such as military commissaries, pay and allowances, and retirement for ways to reduce military personnel costs – a move that has riled troops and military service groups. I also note and in time of war, too while the VA is still struggling to help Vets – yippee – nice job Congress. Keep that hornet’s nest all stirred up as much as possible while professing that you help those who serve in uniform and protect and defend America … way to go, really. Oh, did I say, shitty job, too???

More: The bill’s language had not been released but the Senate Armed Services Committee said it has proposed a raft of other reforms including an overhaul of the retirement system and deep cuts to headquarters and administrative staffing. The staff of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who heads that committee confirmed the commissary plan part on Friday (May 15th).

Background: DOD spends about $1.4 billion annually supporting some 243 commissaries at bases
all across the United States and around the world. Those commissaries provide a significant savings for military shoppers and remain a popular benefit.

Several groups of VFW came out strongly against the Senate proposal, which follows a year of debate over cuts to the stores, saying, in part: “The VFW is against privatizing military commissaries and we are against the pilot program to test it” said John Stroud, the VFW national commander, who further added: “We want this language stripped from the Senate's version of the defense bill.”

Turning the commissaries over to private companies could endanger the benefit, according to the group, adding that troops can sometimes find shopping deals off base but not an overall savings of up to 30 percent that the commissaries now offer.

The Senate budget proposal will now head to the chamber floor. If the pilot project survives that vote, it will likely face a congressional conference committee later this year that would negotiate a final budget bill from both the House and Senate proposals. 

Thus far, the House has opted to protect commissaries from the budget knife. But, we shall see.

So, the Koch’s want to privatize the VA (see this story) and now perhaps Wal-Mart wants the commissary franchise? What would be next: Dockers taking over the clothing, open bids for boots and dress shoes, and the NRA running the arms and ammo portions? Velkom to Amerika – freedom for a price and that price does not it seems with these moves factoring in the blood of those who serve and enjoy the few remaining benefits they were promised and basically have enjoyed while serving the entire nation and not free enterprise (My insert: Free enterprise definition. “The freedom of private businesses to operate competitively for profit with minimal governmental regulation.) 

Private businesses are in business to make a profit -- so, is our military blood worth a profit or an increase in CEO salary, or a dividend increase?

Yes, arms and equipment and other certain aspects of DOD are handled by private industry and most are under government contract for a specific product or service, but what we are talking about here is massive change in the way soldiers live, work, and serve and enjoy the benefits they have earned and are entitled to without change due to budget concerns or personnel costs. Smart budgets are ideal, sure; but at the expense of national security, not for sure.

With all this in mind, logically it seems that the next Congressional “brainchild idea to save money and reduce personnel costs” would be to turn over the military to the private sector and let the market prevail and dictate. Wal-Mart could pick the next military engagement; the Koch’s could plan the next field exercise; Donald Trump would plan design the next base facilities; and a handful of other billionaires would occupy the Pentagon and run whole shebang! Nice job, Congress, really nice job.

I leave you with a favorite military expression: “Freedom is not free” (sometimes scribbled on the helmets of combat troops). Privatizing DOD in any part for any reason is flat out insane. Some day we might have a war and no one shows up. What if???? 


Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Three Men in a Room, or Three Amigos" Si, Señor, Now One — How About Adiós

(L-R): Sen. Dean Skelos (R); Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D); Assemb. Sheldon Silver (D)
(Two indicted - both ousted - one to go???)

A painful post about a crappy situation in New York State government, but one we are all talking about that needs to be addressed in stark terms. NYS government in Albany in a word: Stinks.
ALBANY, NY (AP) — They (pictured above and commonly called “three men in a room”) were Albany's most powerful men: the governor (Andrew Cuomo); Senate leader (Dean Skelos – now ousted); and Assembly speaker (Sheldon Silver – also ousted). Together, they negotiated billion-dollar budgets and decided which bills passed and which ones didn't and hardly anyone else was involved.
Now, Skelos (R) and Silver (D) both face federal corruption charges. The Gov. appears eager to focus on other issues even as he faces questions about his ties to a major real estate firm at the center of the newest scandal to rock New York State.
My note: at the center of most of those scandals are the dreaded LLC’s, their money, out of control mega-million deals, and the NY Board of Elections who turned a blind eye and passed on reform that could have reined them in.
"If the charges are correct, it's deeply disturbing," is what Gov. Cuomo said following the arrest of Skelos on charges that he extorted payments for his son from the developer and another business. He resigned recently, and that comes on the heels of Silver who also stepped down as Assembly speaker in January after he was charged with taking nearly $4 million in payoffs. Both men say they are innocent and are keeping their legislative seats but no leadership jobs.
Silver's arrest, ironically, came just one day after Cuomo referred to Skelos, Silver, and himself as the “Three Amigos” during his budget presentation, which contained a depiction of the three men wearing sombreros.

Yes, they are surrounded by the Mexican National Flag Colors
(or all that green for the money in question)

My note: Perhaps then a hearty Adiós is in order you think?? 
At the heart of those scandals as I said above:  Millions of dollars in contributions by New York City real estate interests, mainly funneled through the LLCs, have been cited in the cases against Silver and Skelos, who received large contributions from Glenwood Management, a New York City real estate firm headed by Leonard Litwin, Cuomo's top donor. 
Glenwood has been identified as the New York City company that gave large campaign donations to Skelos using LLCs, allegedly in return for helping continue tax breaks now worth about $1 billion annually to the city's residential developers. Those tax breaks, along with New York City's rent regulations, are up for renewal this year. The complaint against Skelos alleges that he used his influence to pressure a Glenwood executive to arrange payments for his son.
Gov. Cuomo received $1 million from limited liability companies tied to Glenwood. Cuomo said recently that he never discussed rent laws with the company. Administration records show he met with Glenwood executives three times to discuss rent regulations in 2011, the last year they were up for renewal. Cuomo's spokesman said later that the governor simply forgot the meetings.
The developer's generous contributions were scrutinized by the anti-corruption commission appointed by Cuomo in 2013 and disbanded a year later. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of Manhattan, who is prosecuting Skelos and Silver, took them over. Glenwood did not return a message seeking comment.
And, here we are today… corruption’s cup runneth over as they say.
What is the public reaction: NY polls suggest voters aren't pleased, i.e., a Marist College poll just released found that three-quarters of respondents think corruption has gotten worse in New York in recent years. Gov. Cuomo's JAR has dropped to 37 percent while ratings for the Assembly and Senate are in the low 20’s. 

This glum photo counters the happy one above sums it up better than any post or opinion piece.

B/L: The Gov. and everyone in elected office need to address this mess and related ties to big business and the tons of money that has corrupted the entire system; fix it; and end the corruption. 
Now would be better than later, too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

WTF Moment From Ohio: Pay Your Poll Tax or You Can't Vote

Close Scrutiny Does Not Reveal Voter ID Fraud 
(Just Lots of GOP Fear-Mongering)

Jon Husted (Photo by Tony Dejak/AP)
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)
(He's Baaaaaaaaaaack)

Ohio Out to Break the Law
(and they don't give a damn)

This major update is about Ohio and combines a previous post. Ohio, the “Buckeye state,” which probably now should be renamed to the “Black Eye.” This story comes from here, in part:

Twenty-four members of the Ohio House of Representatives — all Republicans — cosponsored a bill introduced last week that would require many Ohio residents to pay an actual poll tax in order to vote. NOTE: Poll taxes are forbidden by the United States Constitution (cite: 24th Amendment in 1964).  

Under this legislation, many voters would have to pay a fee in order to obtain an ID card that they need to vote, thus effectively imposing a tax on the right to vote.

The poll tax is tucked into a voter ID bill, another common form of legislation that prevents many Americans from casting a ballot. Though voter ID’s proponents claim they are necessary to combat voter fraud at the polls, such fraud is virtually nonexistent. 

A report released by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted’s office found that 0.002397 percent of votes cast in the 2012 election were the product of fraud. A similar report by Iowa’s Republican former Secretary of State Matt Schultz uncovered exactly zero cases of fraud that would have been prevented by a voter ID law.

Voter ID laws do, however, disproportionately target young voters, low-income voters and people of color — all of whom tend to prefer Democrats over Republicans.

So, the GOP's purpose is (silly me): Win at cost no matter what or how anyone is hurt or hampered.

Previous update: based on the GOP's latest and more aggressive moves on voting rights — it was snagged from here as an introduction to my historical notes that follow - enjoy.  Lately, the Republican war on voting has re-emerged with a vengeance.

From Georgia to Nevada, the GOP is taking advantage of gains made in last fall’s midterms to move forward with restrictive laws — defying some predictions that the party might back off its campaign to make voting harder. Meanwhile, a group of Republican election officials has found a creative new way to stoke fears over illegal voting.

Further, a roundup by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU – a leader on this subject, found that at least 40 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in state legislatures just since the start of the year. But more revealing, recent weeks have seen advances for some of the most far-reaching of those bills. Continues at the above link.

Now history and the facts about immigrants voting in the United States ... that is if facts matter and they should.

The right of foreigners to vote in the United States has historically been a contentious issue. A foreigner, in this context, is a person who is not citizen of the United States. Over 40 states or territories, including colonies before the Declaration of Independence, allowed at one time admitted aliens voting rights for some or all elections. (Note: I am sure this surprises many, it did me, too during my research)!!

In 1874, the Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett noted that “citizenship has not in all cases been made a condition precedent to the enjoyment of the right of suffrage. Thus, in Missouri, persons of foreign birth, who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, may under certain circumstances vote.”

By 1900, nearly one-half of the states and territories had some experience with voting by aliens, and for some the experience lasted more than half a century. However, at the turn of the twentieth century, anti-immigration feeling ran very high.

  1. In 1901, Alabama stopped allowing aliens to vote by way of a constitutional change.
  2. In 1902, Colorado followed suit.
  3. In 1908, so did Wisconsin.
  4. In 1914, Oregon stopped aliens from registering and voting.  
  5. In 1918, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota all changed their constitutions to purge alien suffrage.
  6. In 1921, Indiana and Texas joined that trend.  
  7. In 1924, Mississippi jointed the same trend.
  8. In 1926, finally, the last state, Arkansas, joined that same trend.
  9. By 1931, political scientist Leon Aylsworth noted: “For the first time in over a hundred years, a national election was held in 1928 in which no alien in any state had the right to cast a vote for a candidate for any office — national, state, or local.”
Since then, only U.S. citizens have the right to vote in federal elections. It is a Federal crime for a non-citizen to vote in a federal election or to register to vote in one.

Yet, the GOP persists that 2016 will be the very worst ever since Mr. Obama wants immigration reform and thus voting rights for immigrants.

Fear certainly sells. Let's face it, the GOP all across the land have become experts on how to peddle fear, and that is awful for the country. 

Original post and one update now follow from here:  Husted, Ohio’s top elections official, says he’s worried that President Obama’s executive order on immigration will make it easier for non-citizens to vote. But the numbers don’t bear out his concern. He wrote in a letter to the president, just released by his office, that warned the president’s Executive Order on undocumented (illegal) immigrants will allow them to obtain a driver’s license and social security number, thus opening the door to illegal voting.

Specifically Husted wrote: “By enabling millions of non-citizens to access valid forms of the types of identification required to register to vote, the recent executive actions have increased the risk that non-citizens may illegally register to vote and vote in our elections. The debate over voter fraud and voter access already breeds significant hyperbole from across the political spectrum. Your recent executive actions will invite even more, and have very real and lasting implications for the integrity of our elections.”

The hype and hysteria generated by the GOP all across la-la land (playing to their voting base mostly) is worrisome and not letting up despite some states have reversed the harsh laws. The GOP seems to see a bogeyman every place they look – you know, like standing right next an ISIS terrorist who sneaked into the U.S. from Mexico among all those young kids a few months ago and is hiding in plain sight.

This GOP’s actions on this issue are shameful, yet they remain shameless.

That story from Ohio is here – enjoy and please, track this issue closely … it is paramount to preserving our very fabric: the right to vote and choose the kind of government and country we want and not what the hand-wringing GOP tells us we need.  

Try and be honest, this is how many Americans have now come to see what the GOP stands for. Hard to deny, isn't it?

Original Post Starts from Here:

Plea to the GOP and their RED State Pol Pals: Stop Your Assault on Voting Rights. There is compelling evidence that your voter ID laws are total and utter büllshït. The facts are against you - see below. That is if you have the nerve to examine the data - call it "Fake Voter ID Fraud Denying." 

An excellent article that is an outstanding report that offers a detailed analysis from Vox.com.

First, ask yourself these six questions: They kind of lead the way - linked here - check them out and continue below.  The main story: This latest should grab your attention with this in mind: Suppose it were you under scrutiny like so many valid, duly-registered, honest voters? Would you be upset?

Loyola University law professor Justin Levitt tried to quantify the epidemic of voter ID fraud that's forcing so many states to pass restrictive voter ID laws. He looked for not only cases where someone was convicted, but tracked "any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix." Out of roughly a billion votes cast, he found 31 credible cases of voter ID fraud. And that is, he thinks, an overestimate. At the same time, thousands of people really are being turned away from polling places because they don't have the right ID. So voter ID laws fix a fake problem by creating a very real one. Which isn't to say voter fraud isn't real. In an August interview on MSNBC, Professor Levitt explained why the voter ID laws don't do anything to address the main kinds of voter fraud - see video clip at the above link or click here - pretty dramatic.

This update: It follows that if the GOP were to honest and admit their real aim and real goal, that maybe we could actually work for all eligible, loyal, honest, bona fide, registered American voters who want to exercise their Constitutional right to vote and not infringed by anything. This chart I believe actually shows part of the GOP plan and the numbers from the Brennan Center supports the people not the GOP tactics.

To me, and I presume to millions of other Americans who take our voting rights seriously, this "voter ID movement" is a fake raw useless effort to stop or prevent a problem that does not and has not existed except in the minds of those who are making our voting rights more difficult and in far too many cases, unnecessary. Follow the data and decide for yourself - it's compelling and all for the wrong reasons.  

Scores of data is here from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. I have a lot a links on this subject scattered throughout this Blog. Check them out. This is the most-pressing and compelling in the country that defines who we are ... without unhampered voting rights we are who we say we are, with the GOP's ploys, well, that is in serious danger and threatens our very existence as a free people and that is our right to vote and choose the kind of government we want - not what the pols think they know what we need.

Thanks for stopping and pitch in and do whatever you can to help stop this fake issue.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

This Wisconsin Weasel is Perhaps the Worst Breed on the Planet

Scott "Koch Sipper" Walker - hates Unions, Teachers, Public Employees

Walker's Sugar Daddy Stash

Gov. Scott “Heavy Koch Drinker” Walker hates just about everything to do with Unions, public teachers, most public/government employees, but he sure loves Koch.

... so, based on his remarks (see below) who would responsibly run government departments under him. Oh, right: privatize them, hand them over to the Koch's, and well given them free range to finally own America (Note: Walker’s words, not mine).


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Clear Threat to Our Democracy, Equality, Freedom, Rights: Big Campaign $$$$$

What Our System Should Be 
(Exact opposite is true)

Toothless, Weak, Ineffective
(FEC's own admission)

Who Wants To Own a Billionaire
(New quiz show)

The hunt is on to find and own your own billionaire for 2016.

Classic recent example is that Sen Marco Rubio has his pet billionaire. Now the rest of the RED field is on the hunt for theirs. 

The Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson are in the lineup looking for that one GOPer to fund and prop up for the finish line. To be fair, so are a few big-money DEMS (even HILL says she will need to raise $2 billion to be competitive) ... that simply take our breath away. But, does it? If not, why not? 

Simple: the high court in two key rulings has said: "There are not rules, give until it hurts and as much as you want." Well... someone will be hurt? Oh, yeah, We, the People. So, what?

For those who still cling to the false idea that "money is speech," then how come the billionaires own all the dictionaries and ground rules and the rest of us (95% I suspect) are dumbfounded? Maybe we are happy the billionaires fork over the money so we don't have to - you think? This kind of ruling sure seems to keep that field uneven and unfair:

Then add in the "Super PAC's" et al (e.g., the Koch pledge to raise and spend $1 billion) is the other critical example, and also thanks to that God-awful Citizens United 5-4 ruling.

This short clip from MSNBC puts a few key points into more perspective than perhaps I can. I know money is needed to run a campaign, but the amounts, sources, and utter out of control mentality seems to me to trump everything else and make for a lousy joke - an insane joke - on We, the People. 

It is plain to see that the people are not well-served - not one bit. Candidates are supposed to convince voters to back them and support them and vote for them; not woo billionaires with the biggest checkbooks, or did I sleep in class on that point?

The clip is about 7 minutes.

Something serious is very wrong. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Anti-Keystone DEM Party Wins Support (in Canada): Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Tar Sands Region (Alberta Prov) in Canada

New DEMS Win in Critical Prov of Canada

This clip from MSNBC kinda explains how the people can win, if united and combats big money and conservative policies;

Excellent run down by the folks north of our border ... enjoy (about 11 minutes).

Who says people power is outdated? Ha ... nice job citizens united in Alberta (my play on on those nasty words in the U.S.).

Monday, May 4, 2015

New York State Board of Elections Does Not Stand With The Public

Board of Elections Confab
(The board was deadlocked 2-to-2)

How the Corrupt Loophole Works
(Bottom Line is the Bottom Line)

Major Update and Impact Regarding the Following Article (follows this update):

Today (May 4, 2015), the second of Albany's notorious "three men in a room" was arrested on corruption charges. The alarming indictment against GOP Senate Leader Dean Skelos and his son portrays a willful and shocking disregard for the conduct of the public’s business and raises serious concerns about the culture of entitlement in Albany that leads to corruption.

Noteworthy, the criminal complaint against Senator Skelos details the use of multiple LLCs controlled by a single real estate developer to make hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions to buy favors, which the BOE allows to stand... with legislative blessing, I guess???  

FYI: I signed it and I hope you will, too. It is a worthwhile citizen’s cause issue. 

This latest arrest of Sen. Skelos on the heels of Speaker Silver’s arrest underscores that the public’s best interests are in play and need to be protected - right now they are not. So, Mr. and Mrs. BOE: Are you paying attention? If so, close the damn LLC loophole and get in step with the public.

Original story is from the NY Times here... 

Now my take, which was drawn from several sources, like the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU for example here and here:

Background:  NY State Board of Elections (BOE) in 1996 created the now “infamous LLC loophole.”

That loophole allows special interest groups and very rich individuals to funnel tens of millions of dollars into political campaigns (sometimes in secret thus circumventing both contribution limits and disclosure requirements) to fit their needs.

The BOE decided to treat an LLC (“Limited Liability Company”) as human beings, rather than as corporations or partnerships, despite there being no indication that the NYS legislature ever intended that. The BOE justification was a single phrase in state law, and a short-lived federal rule. However, the federal rule was quickly changed, and the relevant state law in fact provides the Board with significant leeway to clarify. Federal rules now treat an LLC as a corporation or partnership, and in most contexts New York State law treats an LLC like other business entities, rather than as humans, so logically, there is no legal reason for the BOE to refuse to correct that error – for surely it is an error and a gross error at that.

Unfortunately, when the BOE met recently (photo above) they were split 2-2 on whether or not to eliminate that loophole. A loophole which in essence allows wealthy individual donors a way around all contribution limits to give to candidates and political committees. This is despite receiving more than 11,000 emails from supporters asking to shut it down! If the BOE won't act, it's up to the New York State Senate to act and people should let them know.

The LLC loophole is currently perfectly legal, but sadly it allows wealthy individuals to get around donation limits by starting as many LLCs as they want and funneling lots of money through them to the candidates of their choice.

For example, in 2014, one very wealthy real estate developer contributed in excess of $4.3 million to political committees through 27 different LLCs he had set up. So, is it any wonder that we see tax breaks for wealthy developers, or education policies extolled by hedge fund managers, and various forms of other kickbacks to the people funding campaigns; yes, kickbacks or quid pro quo, or “you pad my wallet, I’ll get you a bill passed.”  

Then some have the gall to brush it aside and say things like: It’s representative government; or just it’s freedom of speech; or so what, they all do; or it’s not corruption, it’s good government access, etc., etc., etc.” I now apply the famous traditional two word summary for the BOE and LLC supporters:

Büll & Shït ...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

NSA Domestic Spying Reform Bill Failed: McConnell Has Extension Bill Thru 2020

Back in business maybe until 2020
(snoop away NSA)

GOP Votes to Sustain NSA Abuse / Blocks Reform
(it is massive and on a grand scale)

The newly introduced USA Freedom Act includes reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court), the secret court that approves NSA surveillance requests. It passed the House judiciary committee (DEM press release) below in part:
Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 25-2 the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048). This bipartisan bill – introduced by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) – reforms our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill currently has 26 bipartisan cosponsors, most of whom are on the House Judiciary Committee.  
First — despite a name change — just like the previous bill, five special advocates will be appointed by the court and will be called upon whenever the court is considering a novel or significant construction of law. The amicus is meant to advocate for the protection of civil liberties and privacy, educate the court on intelligence collection or communications technologies, and answer any questions the court may have.
Second — the new USA Freedom Act directs the government to declassify “significant” FISA Court opinions and defines “significant” to include any novel interpretation of “specific selection term” or other novel construction of law.

Reminder from last year by the NY TimesSenate Republicans blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects records of Americans’ phone calls in bulk.

At the time, Democrats and a handful of Republicans who supported the measure fell two votes short of the 60 votes they needed to take up the legislation, which sponsors named the USA Freedom Act. Sen. Mitch McConnell, previous Republican minority leader, now full senate majority "leader" had worked hard to defeat the bill, which had the support of the Obama administration and a coalition of technology companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. He said at the time, “This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs.” He said the program was a vital tool in the fight against terrorism.

BUT, THAT WAS BEFORE THE GOP GAINED THE MAJORITY IN NOV 2014. Now, they are back and with a new modified bill and agenda: To get the controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act extended until 2020.

The NSA program as we all now know was revealed publicly almost two years ago by a former agency contractor, Edward Snowden, who is still hiding in Russia. His disclosure touched off a global debate over the proper scope of surveillance by U.S. spy agencies (like NSA), and that led President Obama to call for an end to the NSA’s collection of the records and it worked until now, or so it appears. 

In filing the new bill (for an extension until 2020), Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) invoked a Senate rule that enables them to bypass the traditional committee vetting process and take the bill straight to the floor. No date has been set for such consideration. 

The GOP loves this bill and its contents, as well the proposed extension no matter what prevails (negative fallout or whatever else might follow later). Apparently, the NSA does not surveil GOPers, um, you think. 

Hang on tight, it might get bumpy. The ball is back in the public’s domain, if NSA allows that.