You're seeing it in your mailboxes and on your televisions all over Mississippi: Republican challengers in legislative races attacking Democratic legislators for "voting for tax increases." Well, that's interesting, seeing as they get several things horribly wrong.
The Republican smear is always the same: "So-and-so voted to increase your taxes!" Well, let's look at what they're talking about. First, they mean to say that an incumbent voted to raise the hospital bed tax. Well, there was indeed a vote on a proposal to change the assessments on hospitals as a way to finance health care programs. Anyone care to guess whose plan that was? Gov. Haley Barbour. You got it, they're attacking Democrats for voting with their Fearless Leader.
Second, they try to say that the nefarious, job-hating, Cawmniss, Soshaliss, libruhl Democrat incumbent voted to raise your taxes by increasing fees and assessments on things like CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS. Yeah, you read that right. Republicans must be assuming that you're a criminal when they say that the Democrat voted to raise your taxes. And, by the way, guess who signed into law every last one of those increases in fees and assessments? You got it, Gov. Haley Barbour.
Folks, the tone and tenor of Republican attack ads this year has been shockingly bad. The "damn-the-truth" attitude started back in the Longwitz-Barbour race, and it's carried right on through to the general election. In fact, I remember predicting exactly this two months ago. So good work, MSGOP. You're running an operation Theodore Bilbo would be proud of.
She also says she "support[s] the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement". She better; this is Oakland after all. It's the 8th largest city in California, and the 2009 unemployment was 17%.
Here's Think Progress with the news flash:
After the first heavy-handed police crackdown on demonstrators in Oakland, Mayor Jean Quan wrote a statement on her Facebook page praising police for closing down the Occupy Oakland protest encampment. Now, facing anger from across the world, Quan is backing down on her aggressive language and even says that she supports the goals of the movement. She is committing to minimize police presence in the plaza and ?build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.?From Mayor Quan's statement:
We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.About the police, she adds (my emphasis):
I want to thank everyone for the peaceful demonstration at Frank Ogawa Park tonight, and thank the city employees who worked hard to clean up the plaza so that all activities can continue including Occupy Wall Street. We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.
99% of our officers stayed professional during difficult and dangerous circumstances as did some of the demonstrators who dissuaded other protestors from vandalizing downtown and for helping to keep the demonstrations peaceful. For the most part, demonstrations over the past two weeks have been peaceful.Can you say "false equivalency"? Me too. And I'll let you judge that "99%" number for yourself.
John actually wrote this post this summer. In light of all the ALEC-inspired disenfranchisement schemes and fake voter fraud legislation passing Republican legislatures in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Maine, Tennessee, Kansas, New Hampshire, et al, we thought it would be timely to remind folks what real election theft looks like-- and it isn't about a 96-year old African-American woman wanting to register to vote. John's report, which first appeared in Benzinga follows:
Three generations from now, when our great-grandchildren are sitting barefoot in their shanties and wondering how in the hell America turned from the high-point of civilization to a third-world banana republic, they will shake their fists and mutter one name: George Effin' Bush.
Ironically, it won't be for any of the things that liberals have been harping on the Bush Administration, either during or after his term in office. Sure, misguided tax cuts that destroyed the surplus, and lax regulations that doomed the economy, and two amazingly awful wars in deserts half a world away are all terrible, empire-sapping events. But they pale in comparison to what it appears the Republican Party did to get President Bush re-elected in 2004.
"A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush," according to Bob Fitrakis, columnist at Free Press and co-counsel in the litigation and investigation.
If you recall, Ohio was the battleground state that provided George Bush with the electoral votes needed to win re-election. Had Senator John Kerry won Ohio's electoral votes, he would have been elected instead.
Evidence from the filing suggests that Republican operatives-- including the private computer firms hired to manage the electronic voting data-- were compromised.
Fitrakis isn't the only attorney involved in pursuing the truth in this matter. Cliff Arnebeck, the lead attorney in the King Lincoln case, exchanged emails with IT security expert Stephen Spoonamore. He asked Spoonamore whether or not SmarTech had the capability to "input data" and thus alter the results of Ohio's 2004 election. His response sent a chill up my spine.
"Yes. They would have had data input capacities. The system might have been set up to log which source generated the data but probably did not," Spoonamore said. In case that seems a bit too technical and "big deal" for you, consider what he was saying. SmarTech, a private company, had the ability in the 2004 election to add or subtract votes without anyone knowing they did so.
The filing today shows how, detailing the computer network system's design structure, including a map of how the data moved from one unit to the next. Right smack in the middle of that structure? Inexplicably, it was SmarTech.
Spoonamore (keep in mind, he is the IT expert here) concluded from the architectural maps of the Ohio 2004 election reporting system that, "SmarTech was a man in the middle. In my opinion they were not designed as a mirror, they were designed specifically to be a man in the middle."
A "man in the middle" is not just an accidental happenstance of computing. It is a deliberate computer hacking setup, one where the hacker sits, literally, in the middle of the communication stream, intercepting and (when desired, as in this case) altering the data. It's how hackers swipe your credit card number or other banking information. This is bad.
A mirror site, which SmarTech was allegedly supposed to be, is simply a backup site on the chance that the main configuration crashes. Mirrors are a good thing.
Until now, the architectural maps and contracts from the Ohio 2004 election were never made public, which may indicate that the entire system was designed for fraud. In a previous sworn affidavit to the court, Spoonamore declared: "The SmarTech system was set up precisely as a King Pin computer used in criminal acts against banking or credit card processes and had the needed level of access to both county tabulators and Secretary of State computers to allow whoever was running SmarTech computers to decide the output of the county tabulators under its control."
Spoonamore also swore that "...the architecture further confirms how this election was stolen. The computer system and SmarTech had the correct placement, connectivity, and computer experts necessary to change the election in any manner desired by the controllers of the SmarTech computers."
SmarTech was part of three computer companies brought in to manage the elections process for Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Republican. The other two were Triad and GovTech Solutions. All three companies have extensive ties to the Republican party and Republican causes.
In fact, GovTech was run by Mike Connell, who was a fiercely religious conservative who got involved in politics to push a right-wing social agenda. He was Karl Rove's IT go-to guy, and was alleged to be the IT brains behind the series of stolen elections between 2000 and 2004.
Connell was outed as the one who stole the 2004 election by Spoonamore, who, despite being a conservative Republican himself, came forward to blow the whistle on the stolen election scandal. Connell gave a deposition on the matter, but stonewalled. After the deposition, and fearing perjury/obstruction charges for withholding information, Connell expressed an interest in testifying further as to the extent of the scandal.
"He made it known to the lawyers, he made it known to reporter Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story, that he wanted to talk. He was scared. He wanted to talk. And I say that he had pretty good reason to be scared," said Mark Crispin Miller, who wrote a book on the scandal.
Connell was so scared for his security that he asked for protection from the attorney general, then Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Connell told close friends that he was expecting to get thrown under the bus by the Rove team, because Connell had evidence linking the GOP operative to the scandal and the stolen election, including knowledge of where Rove's missing emails disappeared to.
Before he could testify, Connell died in a plane crash.
Harvey Wasserman, who wrote a book on the stolen 2004 election, explained that the combination of computer hacking, ballot destruction, and the discrepancy between exit polling (which showed a big Kerry win in Ohio) and the "real" vote tabulation, all point to one answer: the Republicans stole the 2004 election.
"The 2004 election was stolen. There is absolutely no doubt about it. A 6.7% shift in exit polls does not happen by chance. And, you know, so finally, we have irrefutable confirmation that what we were saying was true and that every piece of the puzzle in the Ohio 2004 election was flawed," Wasserman said.
Mark Crispin Miller also wrote a book on the subject of stolen elections, and focused on the 2004 Ohio presidential election. Here is what he had to say about it.
There were three phases of chicanery. First, there was a pre-election period, during which the Secretary of State in Ohio, Ken Blackwell, was also co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio, which is in itself mind-boggling, engaged in all sorts of bureaucratic and legal tricks to cut down on the number of people who could register, to limit the usability of provisional ballots. It was really a kind of classic case of using the letter of the law or the seeming letter of the law just to disenfranchise as many people as possible.
On Election Day, there was clearly a systematic undersupply of working voting machines in Democratic areas, primarily inner city and student towns, you know, college towns. And the Conyers people found that in some of the most undersupplied places, there were scores of perfectly good voting machines held back and kept in warehouses, you know, and there are many similar stories to this. And other things happened that day.
After Election Day, there is explicit evidence that a company called Triad, which manufactures all of the tabulators, the vote-counting tabulators that were used in Ohio in the last election, was systematically going around from county to county in Ohio and subverting the recount, which was court ordered and which never did take place. The Republicans will say to this day, 'There was a recount in Ohio, and we won that.' That's a lie, one of many, many staggering lies. There was never a recount.
And now, it seems, there never will be.
enlargeOccupy Oakland, October 25, 2011
This hits home for me. I live in Northern California, my husband's office is a few blocks from Ogawa Plaza park and he could see the helicopters circling overhead as he left for home last night. Oakland, politically and law enforcement-wise is in disarray. Is it surprising that the mayor of Oakland (an office previously held by our current governor, Jerry Brown) is the subject of a recall campaign? In an effort to appear tough on crime, Mayor Quan asked for the resignation of the Police Chief just ten days ago, claiming that he was unable to be an effective head of law enforcement, a charge that he retorted was exactly the kind of hostile environment that made it impossible to be the head of law enforcement in an incredibly diverse city, with a huge range of socio-economic levels living side by side.
So in that super-charged atmosphere, the call came down to tear down the encampments of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, invoking public health as the reasoning. In fairness, there were a fair amount of homeless people joining the protesters and allegations of rats, lice and bedbugs. But there was almost no reports of violence (other than a couple of petty thefts). So the disproportionate response by the police is disconcerting to say the least.
As two activists who have called Oakland home, we are appalled at the events of our city in the last 36 hours. Last night the country joined us to watch in anguish as the Oakland Police Department, with back up from a dozen law enforcement agencies from around the region, used excessive levels of force against hundreds of mostly peaceful Occupy Oakland protesters. In a city with a long and painful record of police violence, it is especially disturbing to witness scenes of women, children, the elderly, and the disabled under assault by rubber bullets and tear gas.
This kind of crackdown is bad for our democracy, and it's bad for public safety. Mayors and police chiefs at Occupy sites across the country should take note: this is the wrong way to respond to the Occupy movement.
On Sam Seder's radio show, The Majority Report, an Occupy Oakland protester called in and described her arrest to Sam. This is not the way to respond to the Occupy movement:
ALYSSA: What they did was they like, like, I don?t know how many of them, but probably more police than there were of us. Significantly more. Came from both directions, at the park, like they surrounded us. And the first thing they did, they gave us a warning. They said it was like five minutes but it didn?t even seem like they gave us that long. And we were saying, you know, we had talked about it. It was going to be non-violent. You know, people were singing and chanting, saying that we were fighting for their attention. I even had these?like I made copies of these Albany [police] refusing to take these orders, that they didn?t have to take unlawful orders. But they came up and the first thing they did, gave us five minutes and then they threw tear gas. You know, I don?t know if they threw one or two of those tear gas bombs. And then they?I?m not sure if they shot those [rubber] bullets, they were like these long things. We ran over to the other side. And when we were at the other side, there was this another line of police. And they again gave us a quick warning and before they just started coming in. Everybody?we had barricaded the area, put up a blockade you know, to slow down the police from entering. So they came in and was just throwing stuff down and um?
SEDER: Let me stop you here for a minute. Are you saying the police?they gave you a warning, they said clear the park or you?ll be arrested and before they even attempted to arrest people, they started lobbing tear gas?
ALYSSA: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they didn?t even ask us. You know, to go willingly. They just threw tear gas. Yeah, they didn?t say would you come, nothing like that. And it didn?t seem like they gave us the full five minutes. You know, it just seemed like they came, they wanted to just storm the camp, basically. As if we were at war, you know, terrorizing a village. It was just really bad. I was surprised at the extent of brutality they showed. Unnecessary. So they threw in the tear gas, we ran over to the other side. And we locked arms again and we?re chanting, peacefully. And this side of the police, they started to throw the blockade stuff over. And they came in, and as they approached, I felt somebody grab me from behind. He didn?t even say would you come, he just grabbed me. A police officer grabbed me from behind. I had my bag, because I have multiple sclerosis, so I had my medicine and even my I.D., everything was in my bag. But he just threw it and grabbed me forcefully. And I was like I need my bag, I have MS, my medicine?s in it. But he was like too bad and I kept on saying I needed it and it was only because of that that another police officer gave it to me. He wasn?t going to. But he handcuffed me. Yeah, I know. He handcuffed me. Luckily my handcuffs weren?t that tight. You know, some people?s were really extremely tight. They left them on for like five hours. Almost the whole time we were in?the whole time we were in the holding cell. So they marched me down.
Oh, when they came in from behind, they were also?for the people who were still in the tents, they were literally kicking them, like they were playing soccer. Like just kicking the people, the tents with people in them. Like you know, two police officers. It was just terrible.
SEDER: Did they approach the tents and say you gotta get out of the tents or did they just go up and start kicking them?
ALYSSA: No. They just started kicking them. Kicking everything down. Like they just destroyed everything as they came in. As they approached the people that came in, the police that came in from behind, they just came in destroying stuff.
SEDER: So this is a real?
ALYSSA: These are the same police officers?[..] that we were being friendly with. As friendly as possible on the marches and you know, stuff like that. It was really?I don?t know, I thought that I knew the Oakland police can violent and don?t, you know, exactly protect the people they?re supposed to. But I was still surprised; it was still shocking how far it went.
It went so far that the cops actually refused to give Alyssa her MS medication while she was in jail.
Nope, this was definitely not the way to deal with the Occupy protest.
A Massey Energy security official has been convicted by a jury for his role in covering up the coal company’s culpability for the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 29 miners in April 2010. Former mine security director Hughie Elbert Stover was found guilty on Wednesday for lying to investigators and “seeking to destroy thousands of security-related documents,” and faces up to 25 years in prison. Stover called his attempt to destroy the documents the ?stupidest, worst mistake? in his life. Stover is the second person who has been charged in the investigation so far.
On Tuesday, the United Mine Workers union charged that Massey Energy and its CEO Don Blankenship have committed “industrial homicide.” In a 154-page report, UMW President Cecil Roberts asks, “Why didn’t Don Blankenship shut this mine down?” The report details how a “rogue corporation, acting without real regard for mine safety and health law and regulations” “established a physical working environment that can only be described as a bomb waiting to go off”:
Massey Energy must be held accountable for the death of each of the 29 miners. Theirs is not a guilt of omission but rather, based on the facts publicly available, the Union believes that Massey Energy and its management were on notice of and recklessly tolerated mining conditions that were so egregious that the resulting disaster constituted a massive slaughter in the nature of an industrial homicide.
“We’ve got a security guard who has been indicted, but Don Blankenship can’t figure out how to spend all of his money,” UMW President Cecil Roberts said.
“The investigation continues, so it’s premature to say we haven’t brought justice or we haven’t gone after the real villains,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin told reporters after Stover’s conviction.
Rosie O’Donnell appeared on MSNBC with Thomas Roberts this afternoon to discuss her new talk show on OWN and how changes in the media may be contributing to the bullying of LGBT youth. Speaking of her now infamous feud with Donald Trump, O’Donnell said she was “pretty shocked on how many stations he was allowed to go on and sort of debase my character, my physical appearance, my femininity, every single thing about me…he was bullying for like seven months,” she said, adding that “some of the 24-hour news networks seemed to take pride in the fact that they bully people.”
“When I was on T.V. …nobody was asking you if you were gay or not. You know, nobody ever asked me in the entire run of my show if I was gay, because it wasn’t part of the social zeitgeist, it wasn’t part of pop culture,” O’Donnell observed. “But then, after I was on a few years, Will and Grace went on the air and that changed everything. And then Ellen came out. You know, it changed. So you have to think that in the 15 years so many things have changed and some parts of the country have not really caught up.” Watch it:
The political theory outlined by Robert Nozick in his famous book Anarchy, State, and Utopia is a bit nutty, but unlike Paul Ryan, he was a very rigorous thinker so he doesn’t pretend that strident opposition to income redistribution can somehow go hand in hand with glorifying equality of opportunity:
The major objection to speaking of everyone’s having a right to various things such as equality of opportunity, life, and so on, and enforcing this right, is that these “rights” require a substructure of things and materials and actions; and other people may have rights and entitlements over these. No one has a right to something whose realization requires certain uses of things and activities that other people have right and entitlements over. Other people’s rights and entitlements to particular things (that pencil, their body, and so on) and how they choose to exercise these rights and entitlements fix the external environment of any given individuals and the means that will be available to him. If his goal requires the use of means which others have rights over, he must enlist their voluntary cooperation. Even to exercise his right to determine how something he owns is to be used may require other means he must acquire a right to, for example, food to keep him alive; he must put together, with the cooperation of others, a feasible package.
In other words, if it’s wrong to tax David Koch in order to give some waitress somewhere a bit of extra cash, it’s equally wrong to tax David Koch in order to give the waitresses’ daughter money to go to college. David Koch’s money is David Koch’s money, damnit, and you can’t take it from him.
Milton Friedman always tried to thread the needle on this by saying he was for “equality of opportunity,” but what equality of opportunity meant to him was “equality before the law.” This is the kind of thinking that prompted Anatole France’s famous quip that “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” The idea, in other words, is not just inadequate but virtually meaningless.
My view is that what’s really needed is a political system and policy framework that display equal concern for the interests of all the members of the community.
There was a time in this country when thousands of Native American children were forced from their homes by public and private agencies, then sent to boarding schools where the school founder’s motto was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” This practice wiped out cultural ties and traditions from an entire generation on which tribes depended to carry on their legacies. In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law meant to ensure that Native American children stay with Native American families, especially when placed in foster care.
But an NPR investigation reveals that 32 states are “failing to abide by the act,” with the most egregious violations occurring in South Dakota. In this state, “Native American children make up only 15 percent of the child population, yet they make up more than half the children in foster care.” According to the investigation, “the state is removing 700 native children a year, sometimes in questionable circumstances,” claiming generic “neglect” when there isn’t any. State records reveal that “almost 90 percent of the kids in family foster care are in non-native homes or group care.”
Meanwhile, these questionable decisions to break up families create a massive inflow of federal money into the state:
Every time a state puts a child in foster care, the federal government sends money. Because South Dakota is poor, it receives even more money than other states – almost a hundred million dollars a year.[...]
Then there’s the bonus money. Take for example something the federal government calls the “adoption incentive bonus.” States receive money if they move kids out of foster care and into adoption ? about $4,000 a child. But according to federal records, if the child has “special needs,” a state can get as much as $12,000.
A decade ago, South Dakota designated all Native American children “special needs,” which means Native American children who are permanently removed from their homes are worth more financially to the state than other children.
In 10 years, this adoption bonus program has brought South Dakota almost a million dollars.
As an example, the Children’s Home Society, the state’s largest foster care provider, has close ties to the state. As NPR notes, the foster home used to be run by state Gov. Dennis Daugard who “was on the group’s payroll while he was a lieutenant governor — and while the group received tens of millions of dollars in no-bid state contracts.” Meanwhile, tribal foster homes remain empty.
State officials insist that the money never played a part in the state’s decision to remove a child. “The state doesn’t financially benefit from kids being in care,” said one official. “The state is always paying some part of it.” But as state records show, the federal government reimbursed the state “for almost three quarters of the money it spent on foster care.”
Essentially, the state is removing children under nebulous circumstances and getting a huge pay out in return. As on tribal social worker put it, “they make a living off off our children.”
On Tuesday, the Baltimore city council declared that the Occupy Baltimore encampment was illegal, leading many to fear that protesters would soon be evicted. Now, officials in more than a dozen local unions have written to Mayor Rawlings-Blake to ask him to allow the protesters to stay. Included among the labor leaders writing to the mayor are the heads of two firefighter unions and one police union:
We have been made aware of the city of Baltimore?s intention to close down the Occupy Baltimore site sometime in the next 24 hours. We write to express our firm opinion that nothing be done to close down the site and that instead, an agreement be arrived at which allows for the confrontation of a peaceful, non-violent demonstration. [...] Sincerely, Ernie Grecco, President, Metro Baltimore Council AFL-CIO Glen Middleton, Executive Director, AFSCME 67 Anthony Coates, AFSCME Local 647-67, Peggy Peacock, AFSCME Local 2202-67 Ms. Johnnie Phipps, AFSCME Local 558-67 Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, AFT Mariette English, President, Baltimore Teachers Local 340 Brenda Clayburn, President, City Union of Balto Local 800 Steve Fugate, President, Fire Officers Local 964 Rick Hoffman, President, Fire Fighters Local 734 Jimmy Gittings, President, Public School Administrations and Supervisors Association Local 25 Rod Easter, President, Balto Building Trades Council Bob Cherry, President, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3?
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) yesterday gave a speech in which he attacked President Obama for sowing “fear and envy” with his “divisive” call for raising taxes on the wealthy by a few percentage points. “He is going from town to town, impugning the motives of Republicans, setting up straw men and scapegoats, and engaging in intellectually lazy arguments, as he tries to build support for punitive tax hikes on job creators,” Ryan said.
Today, Ryan appeared on CNBC to continue his tirade. After Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE) told Ryan, “I thought your speech was very divisive,” Ryan tried to defend himself by claiming that he is “not worried about” those at the top of the income scale:
But this was a speech about taxes, in large part because it is the venue through which they’re using this class warfare rhetoric, which is extremely divisive. This notion that we should tax and redistribute toward prosperity has been tried so many times in so many different countries and it just doesn’t work. We should be focused not on worrying about wealthy people, I’m not worried about them, I’m worried about people who are not wealthy who want to get up, make something of themselves, rise, succeed, create businesses, go to work, and have a life that they want. To me, it is about removing the barriers to upward mobility. This rhetoric and these policies add new barriers toward upward mobility.
Of course, if Ryan isn’t worried about wealthy people, he has a pretty odd way of showing it. After all, the House GOP approved budget that he wrote cuts taxes for those in the top income bracket by ten percentage points and pays for it with a middle-class tax hike.
And that plan is positively tame compared to Ryan’s much-ballyhooed “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which would have raised taxes on a full 90 percent of the population in order to give the richest one percent of Americans an annual tax break of more than $200,000.
Even Ryan’s own constituents have slammed him for defending tax breaks for the wealthy. Instead of facing up to growing income inequality paired with plunging tax rates for the rich, all Ryan can do is promulgate the false talking point that taxing those at the top of the income scale would hurt small business and then claim that others are engaging in class warfare.