Monday, March 2, 2015

Picture Worth a Million Non-Voters: Why the GOP Loves More Voter ID Laws

Typical Scene in the 2014 Midterms and Possibly in 2016
(Shame on the Rightwing)

The headlines from here are encouraging based on the 2014 election turnout results:

Five Ways to Fix America’s Dismal Voter Turnout Problem

Just like the Tom Hanks line from the movie Apollo 13: America, we have a problem.”

Some background: Voter turnout in the U.S. during the 2014 midterm election hit the lowest point since the 1940s.

Plus, the number of Americans heading to the polls each election has been declining for the last fifty years, but added to that, sadly, are the states and lawmakers who have been pushing efforts to keep even more people away from the polls (those nasty voter ID laws).

People do not vote for various reasons, (I think most are weak and limp). Some of the reasons are easier to solve than others.

According to a U.S. Census report from 2013:

  1. 14 percent of nonvoting respondents were unable to participate because of an illness or disability,
  2. 8.6 percent were out of town,
  3. 12.7 percent did not like the candidates or campaign issues, and
  4. 19 percent were just too busy.
Some people cannot take time off from work on those Tuesdays in November to vote, and that has led some lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to call for making Election Day a federal holiday (which I totally support – possibly two days).

Still other voters may not feel engaged in politics or informed enough to vote.

Nearly 6 mission (actually 5.85 million) are prohibited from voting due to a felony conviction on their records.

Then add the harsh voter ID laws, carefully crafted to make sure that certain classes of voters (those who mostly vote for DEMS) never vote …. It’s a mathematical scheme…. Keep our base in tow and stymie theirs – ergo: we win.

Welcome to America – now on the backside of the down slope to nowhere. Shame on those who advocate for more hash and strict voting laws, and shame on us for letting them get away with it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

CPAC 2015: TEA Party Cesspool to Bellow Against Anything Good and Decent

The "Root of Legislative Evil"
(Center for Radical Laws that Benefit a Few and Harm Many)(

Big Runaway Money Since Citizens United (2010) Ruling
(It's the money, stupid)

First of all, who is ALEC and what do they stand for? In a nutshell:

For almost 40 years now, up to 300 of the largest US corporations — including Koch Industries, Verizon, Bank of America, and Exxon *to name few biggies — have used ALEC to push model legislation, which is beneficial to their corporate interests, into law in the states. 

ALEC boasts that a third of all state legislators in the U.S. are members, introducing around 1,000 ALEC bills every year. By using ALEC to pursue their agenda, they are able to hide their fingerprints, avoid lobbying disclosure, and evade the kind of increased scrutiny that comes when citizens know it’s actually corporations that drafted some of their most important laws.

Recent ALEC bills have rolled back voting rights, reduced environmental protections, and stripped away collective bargaining rights for workers around the country just to name some.

Snapshot from Wikipedia:

Founded: September 1973
Current CEO: Ron Scheberle
Nonprofit category: Government and Public Administration
Tax code status: 501(c) (3)
Founders: Paul Weyrich, Mark Rhoads, Henry Hyde, Lou Barnett

Now about CPAC 2015 – a few key notes from here for those concerned about public education:

CPAC represents the largest gathering of right-wing conservatives from around the country bent on finding ways to undermine public education and limit opportunity for students.

Without a doubt, discussions about siphoning away taxpayer dollars from public education and funneling them into private and religious schools and expanding privately-run charter schools that, despite getting public funding, are not accountable or transparent to the communities they are supposed to serve are red meat for that crowd.

A lot of the speaker’s ideas and prepared talking points come from the ALEC playbook, which includes restricting the ability of educators to advocate for their students and dismantling public education.

Then there is anti-Union types (Scott Walker, in charge) etc. In short just about anything good is fair game for them … the more red meat the better: anti-this, that, druthers.  

Enjoy the research.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline Update: President Obama Issues Promised Veto

Updated Map of Pipeline Pipeline (the XL Extension)

View of the Pipeline and Tar Sands Crude Route 

Deeply Involved - Why? Big, big money
(Koch and Tar Sands - Helluva Tonic)

Everything Up to This Point Got Us to this Point:  Mr. Obama has made good on his promise - now the ball is in the GOP's corner - can they muster the voters to over ride (2/3 of each house required to over ride, thus that is unlikely).

For the record: This is only the third veto from Mr. Obama.

Related story here - from the people who would have been impacted in the worst possible ways.

Updated: Will the clash over Keystone ever end? By Kaye Foley (Yahoo news): 

On February 11, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the 11th bill approving the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline after it also passed the Senate. It is now headed to President Obama’s desk for his signature, but he has threatened a veto.

It’s the latest chapter in this six-year saga.

In 2008, the Canadian energy company TransCanada submitted plans for the pipeline to the U.S. State Department.

The proposed 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline would go from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Neb. It’s the final piece of a 3,800-mile network that would bring 830,000 barrels of oil a day to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

There are already miles and miles of pipelines beneath U.S. soil. But Keystone has ignited a debate that has become a focal point in Washington. Environmentalists say it’s a threat to the environment. The process of extracting oil from the oil sands in Alberta releases more greenhouse gases than traditional oil drilling.

Meanwhile, supporters claim it will improve U.S. energy security while creating thousands of jobs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has urged President Obama to sign, saying, “The Keystone jobs bill is just common sense.”

The White House opposes the bill because it circumvents the administration’s review of whether or not Keystone XL is in the national interest. President Obama wants to wait for the final recommendation from the State Department. But even if the president vetoes, it’s not the end of this story. Congress could try to override the veto by a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber, although it currently lacks the votes.

GOP supporters may also look to attach Keystone as a rider to any must-pass legislation. (call that another GOP “poison pill” stunt – i.e., pass the bill we want, or else – so, is that anyway to run a country).

Stay tuned – or as Yogi Berra would say:

This update deals with rail transport of oil and latest disaster (story here) in West Virginia. I also provide more background on other rail disaster below.

The logic behind this update is simple: The GOP says no pipeline, okay, we'll transport the tar sands crude via rail ... one way or the other we will get the oil from Canada to Texas. Of course their effort is backed by you know who (Hint: Two brothers named Koch - more on that below, too). They want this project no matter the cost, damage, or future outlook for anything except their bottom line.

Too dramatic photo for you? Common in most rail explosions

  1. On Oct. 19, four rail cars carrying crude oil and nine carrying liquefied petroleum gas derailed in Alberta, causing a fire that burned for days and forcing evacuation of the nearby hamlet of Gainford.
  2. Another crude-oil tanker train derailed on Nov. 8 and burned near AlicevilleAla., releasing up to 750,000 gallons of oil. 
  3. And on Dec. 30, 20 cars in a mile-long train carrying crude oil ignited and burned after colliding with a derailed grain train near CasseltonN.D., sending up a giant fireball and spilling what federal investigators later estimated to be 476,000 gallons of oil.
Yes, in Canada, too: Last July, 47 people died in a single disaster when an unattended train including 72 tanker cars loaded with crude oil rolled downhill, exploded and burned in the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec province. Forty buildings were demolished, and an estimated 5.6 million liters (1.5 million gallons) of crude oil spilled or burned.

The tempo of oil-train accidents has increased along with the sharp rise in tanker shipments, as has the amount of oil discharged. Soon after the Casselton spill, an investigative news report by the McClatchy news agency concluded, based on federal data, that last year more oil spilled in the U.S. from rail tank cars than in all the nearly 40 previous years on record combined.

But later that month, on Feb. 26, a representative of the National Transportation Safety Board, Robert L. Sumwalt, told a congressional hearing that incidents such as the Casselton explosion have become an “increasingly commonplace story.” He said continued use of tanker cars built to meet current federal standards poses “an unacceptable public risk.”  Meanwhile, the Association of American Railroads is pressing the federal government to impose “more rigorous standards for tank cars carrying flammable liquids, including asking for retrofitting tank cars to meet the higher standards or phasing those that cannot be made safer.”

The incidents continue. On Feb. 13, several cars of a train carrying heavy Canadian crude derailed in Western Pennsylvania. This time only a few thousand gallons leaked out, and there was no fire or explosion.

UPDATE (February 9, 2015): This update of the status of this pipeline comes from a very 
thought-providing article here (in the LA Times). This gives us the impression of being between a rock and a hard spot, or lodged between the Koch brothers and the Saudis. I am not entirely sure which is worse: Sipping Koch or gulping Saudi oil???

Credit: David Horsey / Los Angeles Times
(click for larger view)

Hydraulic fracturing, the controversial and ecologically dubious extraction process more commonly known as “fracking,” has opened up vast new reserves of oil in AlbertaNorth Dakota and other areas

The production potential is so great that the United States, rather than being an oil importer reliant on suppliers in the troubled regions of the Middle East, could soon be a major exporter.

The energy independence for which a generation of politicians have clamored is at hand.
Except for one thing.  Fracking is not cheap and the Saudis know it.

Oil prices need to be high to justify drilling into tar sands and shale rock to bring up the hard-to-get-at crude. One good side benefit of high-cost fossil fuels is that renewable energy development has finally become economically feasible. Even as the environment is being compromised by fracking for dirty oil, environmentally friendly wind and solar power businesses have begun to prosper. But, with gasoline prices plummeting to half what they were two years ago, alternative-energy companies are taking a big hit.

Even more dramatic is the effect on the North American oil boom. As profits slump, drilling slows and jobs go away. Even the congressional debate over the Keystone XL pipeline could become moot.

There is no reason to build an expensive pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast if cheap gas makes the cost of pumping from the tar sands a bad business deal. 

[I agree with the article in this regard] … this is just what the Saudis want. Against their own short-term interests, they and their OPEC partners have kept production high and oil abundant.

Continue the article from the link above.

Side Note: Cheap gas is not good news for those who worry about climate change – minus the science deniers, that is … oops.

Original Post (January 29, 2015): This senate vote forces President to veto the pipeline ... the GOP got what they wanted a showdown and utter disregard for clean water, healthy land and air and for what? Big, big payoff for gas, oil, energy industry and the biggest tar sands land holder: Refreshing Koch-a-Kola.
This headline from Media Matters triggered me to got back and review my notes and references on the whole Keystone XL pipeline issue, which is extensive and very complex. My update follows this:

Despite Dropping Oil Prices, Media Are Still Dismissing Keystone XL Climate Impact 

This story is quite detailed with this introduction: Many news outlets are uncritically touting the State Department's conclusion that building the Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly worsen climate change without noting that this determination was based on an expectation of high oil prices. Some media outlets, however, have reported the significance of the recent plunge in oil prices, such as the Associated Press, which noted that “…low oil prices could make the pipeline more important to the development of new oil sands projects in Canada than anticipated by the State Department ... and therefore is more likely to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming.” Continue reading at the above link.

My overall review starts from here (long, but I think important):   Two points from TransCanada here and here.

Some GOPers say: “The positives far outweigh the negatives.” I retort: What negatives? Should we not always strive to reduce or eliminate negatives (and strive for the benefits and positives)? 
Building this pipeline, with a record of over several dozen spills (12 in one year alone) should be reason to pause and not rush into this: it is not a crapshoot … throw the dice and scream 7 come 11 ain’t the answer. Once a spill occurs, all bets are off  because this type of crude (tar sands) is like a rock laden with heavy syrup: it sinks to the bottom of the lake or river, etc. It does not float on the top of the water where is can be easily skimmed off. Why take a chance on any prospective, and I add, massive spill like imagine across or near the Ogallala Aquifer

Who is the Tar Sands Biggest Land Owner? 

More on the Ogallala Aquifer: This is s a hallow water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. It is one of the world's largest aquifers, covering an area of approximately 174,000 mi² (450,000 km²) in portions of eight States: South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas). It was named in 1898 by N. H. Darton from its type locality near the town of Ogallala, NE. The aquifer is part of the High Plains Aquifer System, and rests on the Ogallala Formation, which is the principal geologic unit underlying 80% of the High Plains.

About 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States overlies the aquifer, which yields about 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the United States. Since 1950, agricultural irrigation has reduced the saturated volume of the aquifer by an estimated 9%. Depletion is accelerating, with 2% lost between 2001 and 2009 alone. Certain aquifer zones are now empty;  these areas will take over 6,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.

The aquifer system supplies drinking water to 82 percent of the 2.3 million people (1990 census) who live within the boundaries of the High Plains study area.  

Myth: Keystone XL Will Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs:

Any big construction project requires workers to build it. How many? The U.S. State Department’s analysis says 3,900 would be employed directly if the job is done in one year, or 1,950 per year if work is spread over two. TransCanada Corp. puts the number higher, saying the project would support 9,000 construction jobs directly.

There would be additional, “indirect” work for companies supplying goods and services, including concrete, fuel, surveying, welding materials and earth-moving equipment required for the project, and “induced” jobs resulting from money spent by workers and suppliers, such as ranchers providing beef for restaurants and construction camps.

Counting up everything, the State Department estimates a total of 42,100 jobs could be created. Trans Canada has accepted the 42,100 figure for total employment. Whatever the number, these jobs are temporary, lasting only for the year or two that it would take to complete the project. The number of permanent jobs is much lower. “The proposed Project would generate approximately 50 jobs during operations,” according to the State Department analysis.

House Republicans are still claiming the project would create 120,000 jobs. But that’s based on outdated information. The House Energy Committee’s GOP majority website extrapolates from figures given by Trans Canada two years ago — for a much longer pipeline than is now proposed.

That was before President Obama initially rejected the original Canada-to-Texas project pending changes in the route. Since then, TransCanada has completed a 485-mile segment of the original project — running from Cushing, OK to refineries in Texas — which did not require presidential approval because it did not cross an international border. Now named the “Gulf Coast Pipeline Project,” construction began in August 2012 and was completed this year. It went into operation on Jan. 22.

The current Keystone XL project includes 875 miles within the U.S. And, as noted, even TransCanada says it would create about 42,000 temporary jobs, not 120,000.

Pipelines can be hazardous. An average of 97,376 barrels (4.1 million gallons) of petroleum and other “hazardous liquids” have been spilled each year in pipeline incidents over the last decade, according to the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. These incidents have claimed an average of two lives per year, and resulted in more than $263 million in annual reported property damage as well.

Those figures include the most expensive onshore oil pipeline spill in U.S. history, caused when 30-inch pipe operated by Enbridge ruptured on July 26, 2010, near Marshall, Mich. That dumped more than 1 million gallons of Canadian diluted bitumen — the same material that would be carried in the proposed 36-inch Keystone pipeline — into the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge is still struggling to complete the cleanup, having failed to meet a Dec. 31 Environmental Protection Agency deadline for dredging remaining oil residue that settled on the bottom of the river.

Although Enbridge initially put the spill at about 840,000 gallons, the EPA said last year that 1.15 million gallons had been recovered and 350,000 cubic yards of contaminated river sediment remained to be recovered. Enbridge said in August 2013 that it had spent more than $1 billion on the cleanup and remediation to date, and the figure continues to rise.

A spill from the Keystone could potentially have similar effects. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, in its final evaluation report on the project, found that the properties of the diluted forms of bitumen that would flow through the state in the Keystone pipeline “are similar in many respects to other heavy sour crude oils.” For what it’s worth, TransCanada says it plans to make the Keystone “the safest pipeline ever constructed in the U.S.,” adding more remote shut-off valves and inspections and burying the pipe more deeply than with other pipelines.

And that calamity is by no means an isolated incident.  

This presentation is outstanding in that is shows graphically the Koch reach into so many areas or our lives ... the pipeline segment is at about the 38:00-minute mark. It shows the evidence re: this project - worth your time to watch:

Based on relative safety records to date, the State Department estimated that an average of six deaths per year would result if the Keystone isn’t built and the same amount of oil is shipped by rail instead. More than twice as much oil is likely to be spilled as well, State estimated.

(1)  Tar sands are “game over” for the climate. Canada’s tar sands, which Keystone XL would carry, could contain double the carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in history — and green lighting the pipeline that would carry them to the global market would be disastrous for climate change.

(2)  The supposed benefits of the tar sands pipeline have been over hyped. While supporters once said that the pipeline would bring gas prices down, experts agree that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline could even increase domestic gas prices — and have little chance of lowering them. Jobs numbers, too, have been wildly inflated; TransCanada gave U.S. officials a job number that was 67 times higher than the number they used in Canada. While every U.S. job is important, the estimates on this project have ranged from 50 permanent jobs, to 2,500 temporary jobs, to TransCanada’s claim of 20,000 jobs. Even unions agree that clean energy jobs outweigh this potential for temporary dirty oil jobs.  

(3)  The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline puts our country’s natural resources at risk. The pipeline route passes through Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer (as discussed above), which is the country’s largest source of freshwater as addressed above. Even a single spill could have disastrous consequences for generations to come — and a University of Nebraska at Lincoln analysis of the pipeline finds that it could have 91 major spills in 50 years.

(4)  On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Americans voted against dirty energy and against Big Oil. Big Oil bet big on the election — and lost big. Big Oil-backed groups spent over $270 million on television ads in the last two months of the cycle alone, and have little to show for it. A recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll found that 64 percent of voters say they have a favorable impression of renewable energy. In a Zogby poll released today, only 12 percent of respondents said that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was a “priority.” Meanwhile, 48 percent identified renewable energy as a priority.

(5)  The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline compromises our energy security. The tar sands oil that will pass through the pipeline is intended for the international market, making Keystone XL a pipeline that goes through the U.S. — not to the U.S. Furthermore, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline continues to feed our dangerous addiction to oil that compromises national security and places American troops in harm’s way.

Key Point:  Canada’s pro-industry energy regulator — the National Energy Board — just announced a sweeping audit of TransCanada’s Canadian operations. This is the latest in a long series of accidents, shutdowns and pipeline safety infractions that have hounded the Canadian pipeline operator TransCanada.  Earlier this month, TransCanada was forced to shut its leak prone Keystone I tar sands pipeline down for four days after finding an “anomaly” — a technical term for cracks, corrosion or other defects in a pipeline which may lead to a rupture. These incidents are not unique; TransCanada has a sordid history as a pipeline operator

Don’t take my word for, ask the folks in Upper Michigan along the Kalamazoo River regarding a record spill there.  

Note: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper once said that “TransCanada could pursue an alternative route through Canada to the West Coast, where oil could be shipped to China and other Asian markets.” However, Canadian Native group opponents call the West Coast option far fetched. They note that Canadian regulators have announced a one-year delay for a similar project that would carry tar sands oil to British Columbia (Canada's west coast as Harper referred to). But, that group has constitutionally protected treaty rights and unsettled land claims that could allow them to block or significantly delay both pipelines.

Finally, Media Matters here takes on and debunks five of the prevailing media myths about Keystone XL.

As I've said all along from my research and actual events, this is still a very bad idea. Stay tuned - this issue is by no means a "done deal."

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Cure GOP Lies: Drink a Bottle of Truth and Take Hot Shower

Analogy of the GOP Voter Base

Gosh Jiminy: Lies, What Lies

It is wrong to totally ascertain or suggest that all Republicans are easily-misled simpletons. They are not. Yet the GOP consistently panders to their easily-misled simpletons (we call it the GOP base) and with the most egregiously dishonest ideas in American politics carefully crafted and designed and delivered by a massive and effective propaganda machine.

Otherwise, they tend to fall for the propaganda it just like the guy pictured above. Taken from these two sources here and here.

Here is list of the TOP 10: 

10. Obama Doubled the Deficit.
9. Man-made Climate Change is a Hoax.
8. Cold Weather Disproves Climate Change.
7. Tax Cuts Do More To Stimulate the Economy Than Food Stamps and Unemployment Benefits.
6. Cars Kill a Lot of People and No One Wants to Ban Them Like Guns.
5. The Affordable Care Act Covers Abortion-Inducing Emergency Contraception.
4. Obama-phones (and other "free stuff for DEM votes").
3. It’s Safer to Have a Gun in Your House, or a Concealed Weapon on Your Person.
2. Exhaling Releases “Dangerous” CO 2.
1. Voter Fraud is a Serious Issue That Requires Strict New Voter ID Laws.

The biggest ones related to the Affordable Care Act (Obama-care):

1.  They said it had death panels (it does not).
2.  They said it was a government takeover and the insurance industry is making record profits (half right).
3.  They said it covered illegals (it does not).
4.  They said it was a job killer (it is not).

Then this from these four: 

1.  Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on the Shameless Hannity radio show: “I can’t help but believe, just based on the way we’ve got all these nebulous excuses why not to have a travel ban, this president, I guarantee you, we’re going to find out, he has cut a deal with African leaders. They’re going to bring people in.”
2.  Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-TX): ISIS Is Coming Over The Border Due To Discovered Prayer Rugs. Dewhurst claimed that ISIS prayer rugs were recently found at the border, signaling a possible invasion. The prayer rugs turned out to be Adidas jerseys.
3.  Joni Ernset (R-IA) as candidate and now U.S. Senator. She warned that she carries her pistol just in case the government tries to confiscate it and thus we all need to carry a gun.
4.  Rep. Don Young, (R-AK) once said that social programs are leading to suicide due to corresponding decline in support from family and friends. He later apologized.

Just for the record. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your hot shower.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

UPDATE: GOP Fake and Pretentious Voter ID Fear Tactics is Now Total Hysteria

Image result for immigrant voting hysteria
GOP View of Immigrants and Voting Fraud

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

Jon Husted (Photo by Tony Dejak/AP)
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)
(And, several other beady-eyed key state officials)  

This update is 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.

Continue the story at the link above.

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.

In 1901, Alabama stopped allowing aliens to vote by way of a constitutional change.

In 1902, Colorado followed suit.

In 1908, so did Wisconsin.

In 1914, Oregon stopped aliens from registering and voting.  

In 1918, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota all changed their constitutions to purge alien suffrage.

In 1921, Indiana and Texas joined that trend.  

In 1924, Mississippi jointed the same trend.

In 1926, finally, the last state, Arkansas, joined that same trend.

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

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.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Speaker Boehner 2nd in Line for Presidency: God Forbid That Ever Happening

Anti-Obama Name-Calling, Vicious Nastiness, Raw Partisan Arrogance,
Mean, and Out of Control

This story shows us the latest in a string of GOP ploys and threats to shutdown government. This time it's the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ... Does the GOP actually comprehend two words here: Homeland and Security. 

All the time in canned floor speeches GOPers profess to be loyal patriots who stand for the maximum national security and yet they display yet again, this new "shut 'er down" mentality and that is a bit disconcerting to say the least.

House Speaker John Boehner said he is preparing for a potential DHS later this month. He already knows where to point fingers over the stalemate in Congress: straight to Senate democrats..

He said to Chris Wallace where else except on FOX, “Well, then, Senate Democrats should be to blame. Very simply.”  Further asked whether he is prepared to see those operations shutter, he was unequivocal. “Certainly. The House has acted. We’ve done our job.”

But, that is not exactly true. Let’s be clear here shall we?

Funding for DHS, a vital agency, is being tied to the heart of the battle about President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that he announced just last November. That is the unilateral measures that would provide deportation relief and temporary work permits to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in the United States. The first phase of enrollment opens up Wednesday. The GOP says it is “amnesty” – however, it clearly is not.

The new Republican-controlled Congress sought to bring down the measures through a series of poison pill amendments tacked onto a DHS spending bill that would effectively block the these latest executive actions. Legislation passed the House last month, only to run up against procedural hurdles in the Senate with a Democratic filibuster.

Sen. Schumer (D-NY) stated it best:  When Speaker Boehner tied immigration to DHS funding he knew exactly what he was doing; saying unless I get my way, I’m going to shut down a large part of the government. o now blame Democrats when members of his own party, conservative leaders and others have all asked him to back off this game of chicken is disingenuous at best.”

Even members of Boehner’s own party say it’s a bad idea, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on Meet the Press: “The American people didn’t give us the majority to have a fight between House and Senate Republicans. They want things done. We cannot cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security. We need to sit down and work this thing out.”

Oddly enough I have said in the past: “The DEMS can’t govern, and the GOPERS won’t.”

No wonder only 36% of the electorate gave the GOP all this new power ... funny, how they managed that. Oh, yeah voter ID laws are enabling the GOP to gain more power. Seems we’ve heard that phrase before – remember this from the PA GOP House in 2012?

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Oops

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Headlines: U.S. vs. ISIS "Don’t Out-zealot the Zealots" — Very Good Advice

ISIS Has Become Ugly PR Experts
Our Religion or Else
(Not much in between)

Who owns religion? Who has a corner on their brand religion and no others? Who is say which religion is right or wrong and all-inclusive? Indeed, who? 

Some background first from here: “... [just] the mention of any religion that does not adhere to American Neo-Christianity’s hate-filled tenets is enough to drive the faithful into a violent rage.” 

For example, in Arkansas, a local Unitarian Universalist church reached out to the community in a letter alerting the residents that their “church” was all inclusive and welcomed all people regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference; like Jesus Christ preached. The letter incited typically religious right intolerance and hatred that drove some vile human being to shoot out the church’s windows and leave a hate-filled, racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic rant threatening the church’s leader.

The main article comes from here, in part: Abu Bake al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS/ISIL, recently threw down the gauntlet at the United States, intending to malign America as what he called the “defender of the cross.” He promised “soon enough . . . direct confrontation.”

Not long after, President Obama took him up on it. ISIS/ISIL savagery has been on full display in Iraq and around the globe via the internet. Mr. Obama’s bold, if initially limited, intervention in behalf of Yazidi refugees and other vulnerable civilians at Mount Sinjar marks only a first stage of what will surely be a long struggle. How that struggle is defined will be crucially important going forward.

Baghdadi’s invoking of the cross, of course, echoes the crusader references that have been a staple of contemporary Jihadist polemics, as if this contest has its roots in the 11th century. In Arabic, the word crusade is rendered as “war of the cross,” with deadly implications that the United States came slowly to appreciate after George W. Bush off handedly defined his response to 9/11 as “this crusade, this war on terrorism."

At the time, and with little or no idea of what it was getting into, Washington found itself in a full-blown religious war — attempting to out-zealot the zealots. The misbegotten invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan both served as massive recruiting festivals for self-anointed defenders of a brutal god. But religion is not, and never was, the issue here.

Finally, this from an elected official in Utah here:

Religious freedom supporters hold a rally on June 30, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)
Finally, I would add: We Americans worship and honor the First Amendment to the Constitution which clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

That simply means we believe that we or anyone can worship the way we/they want or choose, and to do so freely, or not to worship anything at all, also freely. 

We also are supposed to respect others and their right to worship or not. Careful, though about trying to remind a zealot about that. You may not like the answers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Iraq Invasion Lie Finally Holds Someone Accountable — Yuk, Yuk, Smile

Trio of Iraq War Planners

Not Much Difference from This Trio

Neat article making the late night comedy rounds ... ironically, or sadly, it is historically accurate.

Where it not true.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Think the Past Doesn't Matter for 2016 GOP Field: Ha — Think Again

Pick of the Litter (as it were)

Some may think I am a bit off with this post, but I don't think so. 

GOPers are famous, or infamous (depending on your view), for saying things like: “We have to stop acting like Democrats and stand by our roots ...”

Well, alrighty then. Remember these lyrics (my editing for flavor) - kinda fits here:

“And then along came JEB, tall thin JEB”
“Slow walkin' JEB, slow talkin' JEB”
“Along came long, lean, lanky JEB” 

(That is my take on that great tune by the The Coasters - Along Came Jones Lyrics | Metro Lyrics)

The story that got my attention comes from DETROIT – In his first major speech of the 2016 cycle, Republican John Ellis (Jeb) Bush said he would tackle income inequality, poverty and education as part of a broad campaign to restore Americans’ “right to rise.” (Note the use of the word "right" implies GOP-rightwing).... He sounded better than some DEMS I know.

Bush further said: “The opportunity gap is the defining issue of our time. More Americans are stuck at their income levels than ever before. It’s very hard for people to go from the bottom rungs of the economy to the top or even the middle. This should alarm you. It has alarmed me.”

Whoa, he sure got that part right: We all are a bit alarmed!!! And, quite frankly we don't need any more bushes around to decorate the White House. So, just mosey along. Thanks, but no thanks.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Is the King v. Burwell Case before the USSC a Stake in the Heart of Health Care

The GOP Tools to Kill the ACA (Obama-care), Really???
*psst: Health care is not a Vampire

Despite the Hype, Obama-care is Working
(More from Gallup here)

The topic headlines:

King v. Burwell: Courting Chaos 

(I add: maybe/maybe not)

January 30, 2015 | Link to story from (Think Progress here)

Sub-heading: "Conservatives Continue to Use the Court to Dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obama-care)"

Amicus briefs were due for King v. Burwell¸ the Supreme Court case which threatens to cause a meltdown in the health care system, if the high court were to rule against the law that offers tax credits for health insurance in “insurance marketplaces” now operating in approximately three dozen states that would be eliminated.

The case is another thinly-veiled attempt by ideologically-motivated GOP-Conservatives to repeal the health care law, despite the overwhelming evidence that the law is working (NY TIMES analysis).

Simply put, they have no ground to stand on in making their argument — i.e., the text of the law is simply at odds (Think Progress) with the plaintiffs’ view of what the law should say and do. Their case is so shaky, in fact, that many prominent conservatives who are fighting against the law have previously undercut their own arguments, for example:

•  In a 2013 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) said he spent nearly two years studying the law, and found there is no functional differences between a Federal and State exchange, adding: “…[but] in the end, there’s no real substantive difference between a Federal exchange, or a State exchange, or the in between, the hybrid, the partnership.” (Think Progress)

•  Sen. Orrin Hatch was one of six Republicans to file an amicus brief in favor of gutting the law. However, his brief directly contradicts an Op-Ed he co-wrote in 2010 in which he said that “… a state establishing its own exchange is not a condition for receiving federal funds, which would still leave some kind of choice to the states.” (Think Progress)

•  The Heritage Foundation (pretty darn rightwing) has supported the challengers in King v. Burwell, despite the fact that they wrote an entire white paper on the basis that subsidies would be available to any enrollee. According to that paper, in part, they advocated: “… whoever controls the AHB exchange,” tax credits will be available.

•  Recently, the challengers in this case also turned to former Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) to substantiate their case because during debates on the law when he was in office, he insisted that states should take the lead on establishing exchanges. Now he sets the record straight saying: “I always believed that tax credits should be available in all 50 states regardless of who built the exchange, and the final law also reflects that belief as well.”  

What rests on the outcome of this case is much, much more than a political victory for the GOP-Conservatives, who have hated the law since it was signed into effect, March 23, 2010.  Stripping the premium tax credits from all eligible individuals enrolled in a Federal marketplace would have dire consequences. Those opposed want the States to say no exchange and thus no plan or coverage – “Back to the Past” as it were (sounds like a B-movie title).

Four critical points of what would happen if the USSC rules against the ACA in this case:

  1. The non-partisan Urban Institute estimates that 8 million people would lose health coverage (also much more in their analysis).
  2. Health insurance companies and hospitals have said stopping subsidies in 34 states “would create severely dysfunctional insurance markets.”
  3. It would leave consumers in those States with a more unstable market and far higher costs than if the ACA had not been enacted.”
  4. Public health experts estimate that 9,800 preventable deaths will occur each year if the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act.
THE BOTTOM LINE: King v. Burwell is an ideologically-charged case whose real-world implications are much more serious than political gain. Many conservatives arguing against the law have undercut their argument in the past, showing the weakness of their own case.

GOP-Conservatives should stop playing politics with the livelihood of the American people. The well-being and financial stability of millions of Americans is much more important that partisan politics.

But try telling that to any rigid, brain dead whoever – all they care about are political points and power is their only aim. Yet, they have the unmitigated gall to stand in Congress and profess: “I/we support the American people” (we hear it in practically in every speech and sound byte). So, if gutting this law, which is working fine now by all accounts, is standing for the American people, many who now have affordable health care for the first times in their lives, then does it mean to "stand against the public and try to repeal health care that is finally working?” 

As Rick Perry (R-TX) might say: “Oops.”

All in all, we must remember this aside from the hype and flair and nonsense all over FOX and la-la land Talk Radio – this is all that really must stay in focus: 


And, the operative words are: FOR ALL AMERICANS.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MAJOR UPDATE: Sgt. Bergdahl in the News Facing Many Possible Charges

Sgt. Bergdahl in undated photo (shortly before he was released)

Original Post Follows this Update (January 27, 2015): I should have known that the initial news yesterday was not definitive. What follows is a major update from the Department of the Army. It offers a more definitive and clearer picture on the subject of options and possible charges that SGT. Bergdahl faces over the next few weeks. A few highlights:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Army and Pentagon officials said Tuesday there has been no decision on what, if any, criminal charges will be filed against SGT. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who left his post in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years before being released in a prisoner exchange.

Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, NC, has a broad range of legal options, including various degrees of desertion charges. A major consideration is whether military officials will be able to prove that Bergdahl had no intention of ever returning to his unit — a key element in the more serious desertion charges.

The case is also fraught with politics.

Some members of Congress and former members of Bergdahl's unit criticized the Obama administration for trading someone they considered a deserter for five top Taliban commanders held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

If Bergdahl is severely punished, that trade could be called into question again. On the other hand, some believe that five years in Taliban captivity is punishment enough. 

Possible charges and possible punishments (continue at the link – it’s quite extensive): 

The original post: this story warrants a review of the case thus far and comes from here:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -  Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared from his base in Afghanistan in 2009 but was released last year in a prisoner swap with the Taliban, will be charged with desertion, according to NBC.  The television network, citing senior defense officials, said the charges could come within a week.

My thoughts on this up to this point:

There are times when some start to think: the GOP-Rightwing can’t sink any lower as they always surprise us (again) with their nadir as they wallow in their own self-imposed muck. Nothing about the GOP-Right seems to shock the conscience or incense the soul any longer. That list is very long and for the history book. Examples:

  1. Their blatant hatred for Mr. Obama ever since January 20, 2009 when he took office.
  2. Their anger about his birth right and birth place and birth certificate.
  3. Their hatred for the ACA (Obama-care) as they apparently root for citizens not to get good health care, especially in the sates that support the GOP the most – a fact.
  4. Their allegiance and near total fealty to the NRA even after thousands die each year from guns further saying “we are losing our rights and Obama for coming to get our guns.”
  5. Now the release of and current status of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  
It should have been, and was for a day or so, a moment of American unity and joy. The release of a soldier held captive by the Taliban for 5 years was great news. He was coming home for the price of exchanging five Taliban prisoners from Gitmo. Then, true to form, the GOP-Right’s machine got a fresh supply of gas and oil and the proverbial shit hit the fan.

That brief moment of unity have way to another GOP-Right opportunity to mount another frontal assault against President Obama and then to Mr. Bergdahl himself — and leading the pack and I truly mean pack is the entire FOX so-called “news” network (that I call FAUX Nitwork). 

Comments like: Bob Bergdahl (Sgt. Bergdahl’s father) looks and talks like a Taliban and he even learned Pashto. He is so un-American.”

Then we had the talk of desertion:

1.  Sgt. Bergdahl is a deserter (although never charged but soon may be).
2.  Hang him.
3.  Skip his recovery, try him now.
4.  Toss the UCMJ, bring on the lynch mob.
5.  The Taliban should have kept him.
6.  We should have let him rot in captivity.
7.  Give him back we don’t want him here.
8.  We are now dealing with terrorists and he is one.
9.   Obama shows again how weak he us he's an enemy appeaser,
10.  Impeach Obama now.  
11.  Damn the facts, full stream ahead and burn the bastard.
12.  Bring the guilty bastard in, give him a fair trial, and then hang him.  

I even heard someplace (can’t recall where): “Bergdahl should be executed for desertion” and some even have said they hope “it will come to pass in a Ted Cruz Administration.” (I still can’t stop laughing at that one).

This has been a sample of some of the more tepid comments from the GOP-Rightwing at various levels and stages leading up to where we now.

The unspoken rule of American politics, and especially since 9/11 and two major wars, plus the other military actions around the globe. has been that the military is off-limits for criticism.

Naturally, the GOP-Right loves soldiers as long as they’re dying silently, but they have not much use for them once they become Veterans and start seeking services or new programs of assistance. But leave that aside.

Respecting and honoring the military has been the one truism of American politics almost forever. If any soldier is held captive, bringing him or her home alive has always been the sworn duty and code and incumbent upon the Commander-in-Chief. In this case, the current CINC acted correctly.

However, if  Bergdahl is charged with any crime (e.g., desertion as now seems to be the case), so be it. He has to face the music on that charge will hold him accountable.

The bottom line is simple: We got one of our own and that was the right thing to do … let the facts and chips now, fall where they may, after that fact.

Now a few facts to wrap this up at this point for now:

What is desertion? In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a duty or post without permission (i.e., a pass, liberty or leave) and is done with the intention of not returning.

In contrast, Unauthorized Absence (UA) or Absence Without Leave (AWOL) refers to a temporary absence without permission or approval (i.e., a pass or verbal).

According to the Pentagon, more than 5,500 military personnel deserted in 2003–2004, following the Iraq invasion and occupation. That number had reached about 8,000 by the first quarter of 2006.

Another report stated that since 2000, about 40,000 troops from all branches of the military have deserted, also according to the Pentagon. More than half of these served in the US Army. Almost all of these soldiers deserted within the United States. There has only been one reported case of a desertion in Iraq.

The Army, Navy, and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001. That had declined to 148 by 2005.

The punishment if found guilty of desertion – a historical look:

Before the Civil War, deserters from the Army were flogged. After 1861, tattoos or brands were used. 

The maximum penalty for desertion in wartime still remains death, although this punishment was last applied to Army Private Eddie Slovik in 1945.  

No U.S. serviceman has received more than 24 months imprisonment for desertion or missing movement in the post-September 11, 2001 era.

I have to ask: What penalty does the GOP Rightwing want and advocate now?   

My view: I strongly believe that if SGT. Bergdahl is found guilty that he should receive mercy, and if necessary, a pardon from the President. He has suffered enough. Then we need to close the file.