Jim GreerMinorities and young people are far more likely to vote for liberals and other Democrats. Voter advocates have long claimed that Republicans work diligently to suppress the clout of these demographic voting blocs by suppressing their presence at the polls. Republicans, naturally, object vociferously to these accusations. But Jim Greer, the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, has confirmed that, at least in his state, it's true. He has a reason to go after the party since he is on trial for corruption, specifically, diverting party funds to personal uses. Indeed, it is in his 630-page deposition in that trial where he "unloaded a litany of charges against the 'whack-a-do, right-wing crazies' in his party, including the effort to suppress the black vote," writes Alex Seitz-Wald. But even if he is guilty of corruption, that doesn't make his accusations against the party false.
In the deposition, released to the press [Thursday], Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. ?I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,? he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.He also said party officials "talked about not letting blacks vote ? minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party," according to the AP.
The U.S. Department of Justice has been inquiring into the practices of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, another Republican, in purging the state's voter rolls. Critics say minorities and Democrats are bearing the brunt of this disfranchisement.
(For more of this week's news, continue reading below the fold).
The Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals reversed a ruling on July 26 that now allows the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) lawsuit against the heads of the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Terrorist[...]
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Photos: Muhammad Ali participates in opening ceremonies for London Olympics Muhammad Ali participated in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics i London on Friday night. He helped to carry the official flag to its place in the center of the arena.. See three photos from the ceremony here: Muhammad Ali in [...]
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The last few posts about global warming (the fast road to climate catastrophe) have referred to a 2°C (3.6°F) or 3°C (5.4°F) increase in global temperature as really really bad ? not for the planet (she will do just fine), but for us. Those posts include: ? Quarter to half of species on earth may die from global warming ? What is "climate catastrophe"? ? McKibben 1:...
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Frankly, I don't care why Jim Greer's spilling the beans, as long as he takes the Florida GOP down with him. Of course, Republicans will say he's fabricating the info to save his own neck, but with the kind of track record Florida has, I don't think that will fly. The last time Florida purged its voter list of alleged felons, those deleted included 20,000 innocent people, 54 percent of whom were black, according to Vanity Fair. (Only 15 percent of the state?s population is black.) Time for Eric Holder to get even more aggressive:
In the debate over new laws meant to curb voter fraud in places like Florida, Democrats always charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote of liberal voting blocs like blacks and young people, while Republicans just laugh at such ludicrous and offensive accusations. That is, every Republican except for Florida?s former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, who, scorned by his party and in deep legal trouble, blew the lid off what he claims was a systemic effort to suppress the black vote. In a 630-page deposition recorded over two days in late May, Greer, who is on trial for corruption charges, unloaded a litany of charges against the ?whack-a-do, right-wing crazies? in his party, including the effort to suppress the black vote.
In the deposition, released to the press yesterday, Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. ?I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,? he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He also said party officials discussed how ?minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party,? according to the AP.
The comments, if true (he is facing felony corruption charges and has an interest in scorning his party), would confirm what critics have long suspected. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is currently facing inquiries from the Justice Department and pressure from civil rights groups over his purging of voter rolls in the state, an effort that critics say has disproportionately targeted minorities and other Democratic voters. One group suing the state claims up to 87 percent of the voters purged from the rolls so far have been people of color, though other estimates place that number far lower. Scott has defended the purge, even though he was erroneously listed as dead himself on the rolls in 2006.
The spirit of Olympic competitiveness raises unexpected patriotic fervor to protect Mitt Romney from Brits who have been bashing him so joyfully. He is, after all, our boob and they have no leftover colonial right to exercise their snobbery so freely at his ?blunders and clangers.?
What if he did say on arrival that the state of preparedness was ?disconcerting?? Does that give the Mayor of London the right to use him as a punch line to rouse Olympic crowds? Or PM David Cameron to sniff, ?Of course it?s easier if you hold Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,? in a bitchy putdown of those Romney managed in Salt Lake City?
Americans watching him through two election cycles understand that Romney is a stereotypical rich kid among political rowdies, trapped in a school where they routinely steal his lunch money.
If he gets mussed up here over tax returns and Bain claims, there is something substantial at stake, not just a verbal gaffe like his unfortunate anatomical reference to the ?backside of 10 Downing Street.?
As he tiptoes overseas with the announced intention of not setting off foreign policy land mines, the Republican candidate keeps stepping into cow flops instead, but it may be asking too much of him not to do so.
He is clearly a new incarnation of ?Babbitt,? the narrow-minded American businessman in a novel that helped Sinclair Lewis win a Nobel Prize almost a century ago for his depiction of a booster who ?considers it God's purpose that man should work, increase his income, and enjoy modern improvements.?
In that role, Mitt Romney is also the undisputed champion of issue flip-flopping but there is no reason to expect him to show a matching verbal dexterity on more mundane matters.
As he makes his way to Israel and Poland, patriotic Americans can only hope the possible future President can show restraint in trying to ingratiate himself with Yiddish expressions or Polish jokes.
Intentional standup comedy is not his long suit.
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This week, the Senate passed a plan that I proposed a few weeks ago to protect middle class Americans and virtually every small business owner from getting hit with a big tax hike next year ? a tax hike of $2,200 for the typical family.
Now it comes down to this: If 218 Members of the House vote the right way, 98% of American families and 97% of small business owners will have the certainty of knowing that that their income taxes will not go up next year.
After last week's moving remarks by the president in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, this morning President Obama turned back to urging policy prescriptions in his weekly address, advocating for passage of tax-cut extensions for the middle class and letting the upper-income levels revert to pre-Bush tax cut rates.
Too bad Republicans are obstructing those middle-class tax cuts:
Everyone in Washington says they agree on this. Everyone says they agree that we should extend the tax cuts for the middle class. When Democrats and Republicans agree on something, it should be pretty easy to get it done.Interestingly, it was not only Congressional Republicans coming under fire in the address; campaign season is upon us, and there is a very specific Republican leader being targeted as well:
But right now, that?s not the case. Instead of doing what?s right for middle class families and small business owners, Republicans in Congress are holding these tax cuts hostage until we extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
You see, Republicans in Congress and their nominee for President believe that the best way to create prosperity in America is to let it trickle down from the top. They believe that if our country spends trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthy, we?ll somehow create jobs ? even if we have to pay for it by gutting things like education and training and by raising middle-class taxes.Why are they wrong, you ask? Been there, tried it, it failed. Let's let go of stale ideas, America!
They?re wrong. [Emphasis added]
We can?t afford more top-down economics. What we need are policies that will grow and strengthen the middle class; that will help create jobs, make education and training more affordable, and encourage businesses to start up and stay right here in the United States.All in all, the address this week is a nice, tidy combo of sticking it to his opponent and advocating for a current piece of solid legislative policy. Two birds, one stone.
That?s why I?ve cut middle-class taxes every year that I?ve been President ? by $3,600 for the typical family. That?s why I?ve cut taxes for small businesses eighteen times. And that?s why I?m calling on 218 Members of the House to do their job and not raise taxes on the middle class.
As soon as they pass that bill, I?ll sign it right away.
To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.
by Brian Kahn ,via Yale Climate Media Forum
What do astrophyscist Neil Degrasse Tyson, Congressman Daryl Issa (R-Calif.), and fomer Man Vs. Wild host Bear Grylls have in common?
They?ve all let strangers ask them anything on Reddit, a social news website. Climate scientist Tony Barnston of Columbia University?s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) also recently tested the ?Ask Me Anything? waters and found them to his liking.
The experience turned out to be enlightening not only for the Reddit community, but also for Barnston, who discovered a new opportunity to talk shop about climate in an informal setting. His experience may provide lessons for other climate scientists looking to engage the public about their work.
Reddit has been referred to as ?an Internet firehose? because of the massive amount of information that regularly moves through the site. Users generate all of that information, as they do on Facebook and Twitter, but there are some big differences. For one, most users are anonymous. For another, rather than following specific users ? though they can do that ? most users manage that firehose of information through ?subreddits,? in effect communities where users post on specific topics.
Nearly 1.5 million users post on Reddit daily in one of some 144,000 subreddits. Of those 144,000 subreddits, one of the most active is ?IAmA.? That?s where users with interesting stories can share their insights and also participate in an ?Ask Me Anything? or AMA. An AMA is basically what it sounds like: users pose questions, usually germane to the original poster?s background, and the original poster answers them.
To further turn the firehose of information into a manageable stream, users can up-vote or down-vote questions. As a result, for users sorting the queue of questions by popularity, the cream generally rises to the top and the most off-topic questions end up at the bottom.
Having a climate scientist participate in an AMA came at the initiative of Arif Noori, the assistant Web director at Columbia University?s Earth Institute, which houses IRI.
?It was because of the community, the simplicity, and the instantaneous nature of these threads on Reddit that we decided to try it out,? Noori explained in an e-mail. ?There?s something interesting about the crowd-sourced nature of voting certain questions to the top. You don?t have that on Twitter or Facebook.?
Noori also cited as another reason that a Reddit climate science AMA made sense: the ?sizeable community of Redditors interested in science topics.? In fact, the science subreddit is the sixth most-subscribed subreddit on the entire site, still another reason that a climate science AMA made sense.
A few days prior to the session, Noori reached out to IAmA moderators to help promote Barnston?s AMA. ?I was afraid we wouldn?t get any traction since there were two other AMAs happening that day ? A journalist who just returned from an Al-Qaeda stronghold in Yemen and an actor who played Shaggy in Scooby-Doo,? Noori said.
Despite competing with current events and pop culture, Barnston?s Reddit still had a great turnout. There were more than 200 comments and questions posted to his AMA. ?I couldn?t answer them all. There were too many,? Barnston said later in an interview in his office.
Barnston took cues from Reddit users in deciding which questions to answer first. ?I focused more on the top ones that had more points, that were more popular,? he said.
At the same time, he also wanted to play to his strengths in modeling and data. ?I did read the ones on the bottom half, and a few of them were so up my alley that I wanted to answer them. Things about data were unpopular, but that was a topic I could relate to.?
By answering both the popular questions and ones more in tune with his own interests, Barnston was able to keep users following along and himself interested and involved.
Aside from the benefits Noori had anticipated, Barnston saw one other major benefit of doing a Reddit AMA that could appeal to scientists perhaps feeling some anxiety about engaging with the public. ?I liked having time to think of my answer. Look at my office, that?s what my mind looks like,? Barnston quipped.
His office is actually representative of lots of scientists? minds. The shelves are filled with statistical analyses and earth science books, printouts of academic journal articles are scattered on the desk, and climate model outputs, sea surface temperature maps, and manilla folders are piled ? albeit quite neatly ? on the floor. In short, there?s a wealth of information, but it can take awhile to remember where it is stashed.
And while he didn?t have to dig too deep to answer some questions such as one about differences between La Niņa and El Niņo, others were more complex. In an interview on the Earth Institute?s ?State of the Planet? blog, Barnston noted some questions ?could easily have been asked by a colleague.? For example, one questioner asked about the interaction between El Niņo, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the Atlantic Meridional Oscillation.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the hottest topics of the AMA was climate change. That?s where Barnston balked a bit. Of all the topics, climate change sparked the most discussion and debate among Reddit users themselves. While the exchanges remained civil for the most part, Barnston worried that his answers could get misconstrued as policy statements or could be taken out of context.
He had to be cautious about where to draw the line, for example, when answering a question about what short-term effect of climate change people should be most worried about. Barnston cited sea-level rise impacts on coastal communities as the largest short-term threat. He also pointed to the propensity of communities to continue building on low-lying land as a cause for concern. However, he managed to stop himself short of offering a climate change policy solution and shied-away from development issues because neither subject falls within his area of expertise.
Barnston worried also about what headlines could look like on climate ?skeptic? websites. Given that his affiliation with Columbia was presented up front and used to lend credibility to his responses, he realized his answers could also reflect on the university and on the climate research going on there. In other words, his words, no matter how well-intended and carefully stated, might somehow be used to disparage his credibility and that of the university. (In this respect, the long-lasting ripple effects from the stolen climate scientist e-mails at the University of East Anglia in 2009 are never far from one?s mind.)
?Overall, I enjoyed doing it and would like to do another,? Barnston said, reflecting on the experience.
Noori says he hopes to see more scientists on Reddit, too and thinks tying an AMA to a climate or earth science current event could be key: ?I think it?s a good idea if scientists would make themselves available for when there is something newsworthy going on ? for example, a seismologist AMA after an earthquake.?
With the Climate Prediction Center recently issuing an El Niņo Watch, August or September might be an ideal time for Barnston to head back to the IAmA subreddit. By then, climatologists should have a clearer idea of whether an El Niņo will develop and what its strength might be. That and other coming events no doubt will continue to provide an ?in? for Reddit users to engage even more with climate science.
Brian Kahn is a climate scientist and a contributing writer for the Yale Climate Media Forum. This post was originally published at the Yale Climate Media Forum and was reprinted with permission.
Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and was one of five Democrats to support repeal of the law earlier this year. But opposition to health care reform hasn’t stopped this two-term Congressman from taking credit for it.
In June, Kissel bragged about helping secure $379,167 in federal money provided by the Act “for a new health care clinic near China Grove in Rowan County.” ?I?m glad to have worked to help secure this funding and will continue to make sure that our tax dollars are being spent here at home to put people to work and take care of our citizens,? Kissell said in a release and then dodged reporters who pressed him on the hypocrisy:
Asked about the source of the funding, Kissell?s office issued a statement.
?We leave no stone unturned in helping our local communities bring resources home, and are unapologetic about anything we can do to bring our tax dollars home and have them working for us here in North Carolina.?
Christopher Schuler, the Biscoe Democrat?s spokesman, said Kissell was too busy Wednesday and Thursday with House votes and meetings to take questions about the funding.
Kissel voted against the GOP’s first effort to fully repeal reform in January of 2011, noting that “It is quite clear that the Senate will not act on any repeal measure, nor will the President sign such a bill” and promising to fix the law. “We have a choice: we can look backward and have the same fight all over again, or we can move forward determined to make things better and focus on our economy,” he said in a press release explaining his vote.
Kissel has also “refused to endorse Obama?s re-election bid” and joined Republicans in voting to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.