Right-wing media are fearmongering over an Obama campaign smartphone app that makes it easier for any smartphone user and Obama supporter to get involved in the campaign without first having to visit a campaign office. Conservative media are claiming that it will allow users to "spy" on their neighbors and report that information back to the campaign.
In fact, the app is designed to simplify the process for getting involved in the 2012 campaign; it includes only information that is publicly available; and it has built-in privacy protections against abuse. Moreover, the Romney campaign also makes voter information freely available to anyone who registers on its website.
On July 30, the Obama for America campaign introduced an iPhone app that "will make it even easier to connect with the campaign and pitch in wherever you are." From the campaign:
This campaign's strength has always come from the millions of grassroots supporters who are organizing their communities, and the new Obama app puts the latest organizing tools right at your fingertips.
With the new app, you can easily find local volunteer events near you, get a list of voters to talk to in your neighborhood, and access all the information you need to spread the word: from President Obama's record to state-specific voting info. You can also stay up to date with breaking news, which you can instantly share with friends and family using Facebook, Twitter, email, and text messaging.
In an article on the app, Pro Publica noted: "All this is public information, which campaigns have long given to volunteers. But you no longer have to schedule a visit to a field office and wait for a staffer to hand you a clipboard and a printed-out list of addresses." Pro Publica went on to report:
It's unclear if the app displays all registered Democrats who live in a certain area, or only a subset of voters President Obama's campaign is trying to reach.
Asked about the privacy aspects of the new app, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign wrote that "anyone familiar with the political process in America knows this information about registered voters is available and easily accessible to the public."
The information included in the app has "traditionally been available to anyone who walks into a campaign field office," said the spokesperson, who declined to be named.
While the app makes voter information instantly available, it displays only a small cluster of addresses at a time. It has built-in mechanisms to detect when people are misusing the data, "such as people submitting way too many voter contacts in a short period of time," the spokesman said.
But of course, we are told NOW is not the time to discuss whether we need some rationality in the proliferation of weapons that are handy for spree-killers. So we do not.[...]
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From the August 6 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
According to an e-mail sent by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney for George Zimmerman, will speak at the SAF-sponsored Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC), which will begin September 28. The conference will be held, for the first time in its 27 year history, in Florida.
Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida on February 26. The conference will take place at an Orlando hotel less than 25 miles away from the site of the shooting.
According to a GRPC flyer, the event will provide attendees with the "once a year chance to network, get an insider's look and plan pro-gun rights strategies for the coming year." Whether O'Mara will divulge any new information about the ongoing criminal case remains to be seen. So far the Florida attorney has largely remained mum about the specifics of Zimmerman's self-defense claim, other than to indicate that that Florida's controversial "Kill At Will" self-defense law, called "Stand Your Ground" by its proponents, will likely play a significant role in his client's defense.
Although the guest list has not been finalized, it is likely that O'Mara will get the chance to rub elbows with some of the most ardent defenders of "Kill At Will." The invitees include Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb, discredited gun rights "researcher" John Lott and unnamed representatives from Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the National Rifle Association, and Gun Owners of America.
From the August 6 edition of Current's Talking Liberally with Stephanie Miller:
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All civilized nations have either discontinued use of the death penalty, or at the very least decided that those inmates who are mentally retarded should not be executed. In 1992, the United States Supreme Court decided that it was against the U.S. Constitution to execute a mentally retarded person. Texas doesn't care about either what the rest of the civilized world is doing, or what the Supreme Court has decided. Tomorrow they will execute a person with an IQ of 61 (well below the official designation of mental retardation).
How can Texas get away with defying the Supreme Court ban? Here's what State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) says:
"Unfortunately, Texas continues to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court's categorical ban on the execution of offenders with mental retardation by developing its own set of determining factors for who will be exempt from execution."
Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/08/04/4154763/state-senator-joins-calls-for.html#storylink=cpy
The problem is that when the Supreme Court banned executing the mentally retarded, they did not define exactly what mental retardation was, leaving it up to the states to do that. I'm sure they expected the states to follow generally accepted definitions of mental retardation. But Texas doesn't play by the same rules as other states do. Texas came up with a definition that will allow them to execute anyone they wish, regardless of the intellectual limits that person might have.
In Texas, a person must have below-average intellectual function, must lack adaptive behavior skills, and must show evidence of both before the age of 18. The inmate scheduled for execution on Tuesday has an IQ of 61 and had that IQ before the age of 18 -- meeting the first and third qualifications. It is the second qualification that gives the state its "out". Anyone not so mentally deficient as to require institutionalization would likely fail that test. The term "adaptive behavior skills" is such a loosely defined term, that basically anyone who can walk and chew gum at the same time can be executed.
Texas may not be violating the letter of the Supreme Court decision (although even that is debatable), but it most certainly is violating the spirit and intent of the decision. The inmate scheduled to be executed meets any reasonable definition of mental retardation -- and Texas is going to execute him anyway. All of us Texans should be ashamed of our state's impending action.
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Political Cartoon is by Tim Campbell at caglecartoons.com.
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Anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention to what is happening in this country knows that the employment situation here is a real mess. There are many millions (at least 25 million) of people unemployed, corporations continue to outsource jobs to other countries, and half of all American families live on incomes of less than 150% of the poverty level.
But what about the rest of America. Do they still have good jobs? Are the number of good jobs growing in this country? Well, it seems that there are problems there also. We already know that wages for most workers (the bottom 90% of Americans) have lost a significant amount of buying power because raises have not kept up with inflation over the last 30 years or so. Now there is evidence that the "good" jobs in this country are disappearing.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) looked at the jobs situation, especially what is happening with good jobs. They used a pretty loose definition of what a good job is -- paying $18.50 hour (about $38,000 a year), having an insurance benefit (even a poor one with high deductibles), and having some kind of retirement plan.
Now one would think the percentage of good jobs (as defined above) would have grown. After all, the average GDP per person in the United States grew from $28,643 in 1979 to about $46,904 in 2010 ( growth of slightly more than 63.75%), and the percentage of workers with a college degree has climbed from 19.7% to 34.3%. But that is not what has happened. The percentage of good jobs has actually gone down.
According to the CEPR report, the number of good jobs has dropped from 27.4% of all jobs in 1979 to only 24.6% of all jobs in 2010. This should shock most people (who seem to think the majority of jobs in this country are good jobs). That is just not true. Even by the minimal standards set by the CEPR, less than one in four jobs in this country can be considered good jobs -- and the percentage of good jobs is not growing, but shrinking.
This is not something that can be fixed by giving the richest Americans more tax cuts (and Romney and his Republican cohorts want us to believe). In fact, it was caused by the Republican economic policies in place since the Reagan administration. It is no wonder the middle class is starting to disappear in this country. It would have to, since the good jobs that created that middle class are disappearing (while low-wage, no benefit jobs are increasing).
The U.S. government needs to stop worrying about the rich (who are doing better than ever), and start trying to institute policies that will help the bottom 90% of Americans.
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