There are people talking about voting for a third party candidate or just sitting out the election because they're unhappy about tens of thousands of drones being green-lighted to fly over American skies-- not over Somalia, Yemen, the badlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but right here over Tampa, Phoenix, New Hampshire and Montana. I have a better idea... how about helping defeat the members of the Congressional drone caucus? The official name is the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus and it's really just a way for the drone manufacturers to pay off some of the most corrupt Members of Congress, ones who have been willing to push through their agenda. Needless to say the founder and chairman of the caucus is Congress' most corrupt member, Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita, California. McKeon (AKA- Congressman Drone) has taken more in legalistic bribes from arms manufacturers and war contractors than any TWO other Members of Congress combined-- and that doesn't even count the large sums of money they've funndeled into his personal bank account by backing a fake bid for California state Assembly by his ditzy wife Patricia. (She lost her primary badly, of course, but not before he solicited and she accepted large bribes from major arms manufacturers who had never before contributed to a local legislative race.)
These are the 15 most notoriously corrupt members of the drone caucus:
Buck McKeon (R-CA)- founder and co-chair
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- co-chair
Todd Akin (R-MO)
Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Rick Berg (R-ND), running for U.S. Senate
Shelley Berkley (New Dem-NV), running for U.S. Senate
Brian Bilbray (R-CA)
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Joe Heck (R-NV)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
Mike Pompeo (R-Koch Industries)
Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), already defeated in a primary
Mike Rogers (R-MI)
Joe "You Lie" Wilson (R-SC)
The Senate version was co-founded by two of the most corrupt warmongers in that body, Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The drone manufacturers are paying off Members of Congress-- McKeon more than anyone-- to allow for a barely regulated humongous expansion in their business. Some activists around the country have been protesting, but most people are barely aware of the drone industry and their paid shills in Congress.
[P]rotesters think the drones will really be used to spy on the public, including folks like themselves. "The prospect of having drones flying around, spying on people, is kind of horrific," said Nate Adeyemi, one of the local organizers. "It's such an infringement upon the human right to privacy." The group is also protesting the university for its involvement and the local officials who gave the company a loan.Buck Mckeon is-- by far-- the biggest recipient of money from arms merchants this election cycle ($497,600, more than twice times his closest competitor). Career-long, McKeon's $1,297,200 is surpassed only by bribes to C.W. Bill Young ($1,352,275) and Jim Moran ($1,587,096) among all current House Members. Since 1992 McKeon's 5 biggest campaign contributors, again, not counting the illegal money he's gotten out of them for Patricia, are Lockheed Martin ($186,400), Northrop Grumman ($171,800), Boeing ($87,150), SLM ($86,250), and General Atomics ($94,300). And he always puts their interests above the interests of his Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley constituents.
Another target for activists has been the organization that lobbies on behalf of the industry, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The group created in 1978 "to promote and support the unmanned systems and robotics industry." The organization has ballooned to include 1,400 members-- all anxious to feed at the government trough. Activists have crashed their press conferences, conventions and fairs.
Given their close connections in Congress-the companies give millions in campaign contributions and get, in return, billions of tax dollars-- AUVSI can even show off its wares right inside the Capitol. At an exhibit hosted by the Congressional Drone Caucus in September 2011, activists broke up the lovefest, unfurling white sheets covered in fake blood and falling to the floor, moaning and writhing in pain. "Stop the killer drones," they wailed, while another protester carrying a large cardboard drone made a loud buzzing noise as he zoomed around the room. Startled, the Congresspeople, staffers and corporate employees were forced to stop their conversations-- until the police arrived and escorted the group out of the building.
The Unmanned Systems Caucus is an appropriately named group for McKeon to found. He's been letting the defense budget run away like an unmanned ship since he's been the chair of the House Armed Services Committee. The military industrial complex rewards him greatly, but now also rewards his wife for this. I think most people would agree that drones are very useful to our military and save the lives of our troops on the battlefield. But McKeon's vision for drone filled skies in our own country, to be used by government agencies to spy on citizens, is a violation of our most basic freedoms.McKeon's drone bill, which will allow 30,000 drones to fly over America in four years passed Congress 248-169, 24 Blue Dogs and New Dems joining all but 12 Republicans to take another giant step into Big Brother Land. All the usual suspects-- corporate whores like Cantor, Ryan, Rogers, Upton, et al-- joined McKeon to push this through. Interestingly enough so did several Tea party-supported Republicans who were elected by people who aren't interested in drones snooping into their lives. Remember, the problems with the drones isn't just about killing in other countries. There isn't enough of a market for that. And Lucky Bucky and his band of whores stepped in to help the industry solve that by pushing to have drones flying all over a sky near you... very soon. That bill McKeon was paid very well to see passed was approved by the House and by then by the Senate "to open U.S. skies to unmanned drone flights within four years."
The FAA is also required under the bill to provide military, commercial and privately-owned drones with expanded access to U.S. airspace currently reserved for manned aircraft by Sept. 30, 2015. That means permitting unmanned drones controlled by remote operators on the ground to fly in the same airspace as airliners, cargo planes, business jets and private aircraft.Forcing Congress to look out for basic civil liberties of American citizens, rather than weapons manufacturers' unquenchable thirst for more and more profits isn't going to be furthered by sitting out the election. It's going to be furthered by defeating corrupt Members of Congress like Buck McKeon, Henry Cuellar, Todd Akin, Rick Berg, Darrell Issa and Mike Rogers. There's nothing someone serious about stopping the proliferation of drones over American skies can do more useful than helping Lee Rogers replace Buck McKeon in California or helping Lance Enderle replace Mike Rogers (chairman of the Intelligence Committee) in Michigan.
Currently, the FAA restricts drone use primarily to segregated blocks of military airspace, border patrols and about 300 public agencies and their private partners. Those public agencies are mainly restricted to flying small unmanned aircraft at low altitudes away from airports and urban centers.
Within nine months of the bill's passage, the FAA is required to submit a plan on how to safely provide drones with expanded access.
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Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson says that voters in his state are going to vote for GOP hopeful Mitt Romney because they are not "at all" concerned about preserving reproductive rights for women.
On Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Johnson why women should vote for Romney after he endorsed Republican Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who recently said that pregnancy from rape "is something that God intended to happen."
"I've had one person at all talk about the abortion issue during this entire campaign," the tea party-backed senator explained. "It's not even an issue here in Wisconsin. I mean, it doesn't even move the radar at all."
"What people are concerned about is -- it is unbelievable how many people came up to me demanding answers on Benghazi," Johnson added. "That's really the question on the table in the last ten days, is what happened in Benghazi."
"Abortion doesn't even show up."
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Spectacular images of Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm.
What is new, as far as I know, is what the police in the town of Dewitt, near Syracuse, have now done to try to prevent drone protests outside Hancock Air Field. They've found, out of all the individuals stationed on the base, one particular coward by[...]
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There?s more! You?ll find a collection of previously published Who Am I teaser images in our Who Am I Gallery. How many can you identify? Occasional Planet?s ?Who Am I? features people who have made important contributions to liberal thought, progressive politics, human rights, enlightened education, and ?small-d? democratic principles?both in the US and internationally. [...]Related posts:
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In a final bid to win Ohio, the Romney campaign has been exceeding even its own vaunted standard of lying in the last 72 hours on the facts of the auto bailout. Jon Cohn has the story. [...]
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From left: Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Brian Brown, Julius Henson, Derek McCoy.Much has been said about the unprecedented nastiness and audacious lies coming out of the Romney campaign this cycle. Lies and outrageous behavior is merely business as usual in the world of anti-gay politics, however.
Things have gotten particularly ugly in Maryland over the marriage equality ballot referendum that will go before voters in just over a week. This week Maryland Marriage Alliance, the lead organization challenging the law, convened a discussion panel on civil marriage, a discussion that turned decidedly uncivil. A panelist explained to the gathered crowd that God wants gay people dead, and their supporters, as well. (Please don't let that scare you away, straight allies.)
Sadly, par for course as death threats against LGBT Americans arise with great regularly by these "good Christian traditional marriage" advocates. We previously heard them at National Organization for Marriage events in Indiana and New York, and a particularly colorful one coming out of North Carolina. Also common, Nazi and Hitler comparisons, like that coming out of Minnesota. So, it's not surprising.
But even by the standards of anti-gay hate campaigns, one scarcely sees as disreputable rogue gallery as the pious crew assembled in Maryland. Consider the background of some of the top players pulling the strings in the Old Line State:
Part of Brian Brown's campaign to drive a racial wedge involves getting African American ministers to encourage fellow African Americans to withhold their vote from Barack Obama. At least one of the preachers told press NOM pays him $20,000 a year for his "advocacy," or should we call it political operations? Rest assured there is no evidence this mission is succeeding and substantial circumstantial evidence it failing spectacularly.
The not terribly veiled message is: "If you vote for gay marriage, your kids will become gay." At best, they might come home from school and ask you a lot of uncomfortable questions about the buttsecks.
It's also a dog whistle campaign designed to play to outdated, thoroughly discredited stereotypes that what gay people really want most is to molest your children.
And they repeat these lies even though they themselves know it isn't true. Filmmaker Joe Fox followed around both the yes and no campaigns in Maine in 2009 for his documentary Question One (now playing). In a candid moment, the leader of the anti-gay campaign, Marc Mutti admitted he knew the ads they were running were hyperbolic falsehoods:
We use a lot of hyperbole, and I think that's always dangerous. We say things like, "teachers will be forced to?" you know, that's not a completely accurate statement and we all know it isn't.Continues after the fold...
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Newt Gingrich is an interesting case. Sometimes he's so candid, you sit there and say, "Did he really say that?", and other times, he's such a skilled and gifted liar that he reminds you of a cold-blooded criminal. Today on This Week was one of the latter occasions:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's look at the closing arguments from President Obama. He was in New Hampshire yesterday taking aim at Mitt Romney's record in Massachusetts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Once he took office, he pushed through a tax cut that overwhelming benefited 278 of the wealthiest families in the state, and then he raised taxes and fees on middle-class families to the tune of $750 million. Does that sound familiar to you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: His argument, of course, that's exactly what Governor Romney is going to do if he's president.
GINGRICH: Look, wait a second. The fact is, Barack Obama would trade the job creation of Romney as governor in a heartbeat. He would trade the unemployment rate of -- of Massachusetts under Romney in a heartbeat. He'd love to have had the bipartisan ability -- Romney worked with an 85 percent Democratic legislature. Obama would love to have been able to work with people as well as Romney did.
Where to begin? How many jobs were created depends on when you ask Mittens, and which time period. The most useful info is that the state was ranked fourth from the bottom in job creation. And bipartisan? He vetoed over 800 pieces of legislation or line-item vetoes. That's twice what predecessor Bill Weld did.
You look at Romney's record, and it makes, frankly, Obama's presidency look pretty thin and remarkably ineffective. Longest period of high unemployment in American history since the Great Depression. Every person who buys gasoline today is paying $2 a gallon more because of Obama's energy policies. I think Obama, if he had a chance, would love to have Romney's record in Massachusetts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The price of gas is going down in these final weeks, isn't it?
GINGRICH: Sure, because it goes down every fall when the summer travel goes in. It is still the most expensive for this time of year in American history. It is still $2 a gallon more than it was when Obama became president. And we're learning more and more about how much bankruptcies there are in the solar power industry he was taking care of.
So you have a president who badly invested your tax money to distort energy policies, while making you pay $2 a gallon more. That's a pretty tough record to go into Ohio or Florida, or anywhere, and say to folks, "Why don't you keep voting for $2 more on gasoline, because you like Obama so much, you don't mind paying for it?"
Funny, I don't remember Newt complaining when gas went through the roof during Shrub's reign. And we're going to blame Obama for "distorting energy policies"? You can tell Newt is a convert and not a born-and-breed Catholic, because the nuns would have trained him better. He'd be terrified God would strike him dead for what they would call "bold, brazen lies."