Monday, October 29, 2012

Why your voting matters in November - Emergency Mitt Edition *UPDATED*

As I write the east coast prepares for a likely battering from it is being called a "frankenstorm." (And the news media sighed, and knew it was love.) Ah, Sandy. (Que a Grease reference, if you got one.)

The government is at work as a result. FEMA is preparing. The states are gearing up. And local services are on the move. It is a nice reminder of just why we bother with this whole society/civilization thing in the first place.

But as we brace to see what the forces of nature have in mind for us this time around, it is worth remembering just how conservatives have been looking at and using emergency services in the United States, in particular FEMA.

You can look to earlier in the year when Mitt Romney was still trying to become the nominee:

He looked at the idea of a national disaster relief program, FEMA, and said it was just better to shunt it down to the states. Or better, turn it over to business.

How does this work then? Each states struggles to support it's own disaster situations and tries to recover as best it can, on it's own. As it is, particularly in events like Katrina, the states are in desperate need for federal aid to get running again. But, for Mitt Romney, that's just a money loser. Bye, Louisiana, we have to cut you off. It is a stunningly simplistic and ill-conceived approach to governance.

And, hand it over to business? What corporate force will we be giving this power to? How much will they be charging people who's businesses and homes have been wiped from the map for a box of crackers and a branded towel?

FEMA is EXACTLY the kind of thing the government is made to do. But for conservatives, that is a bad thing. It makes government look good, it makes people's lives better (after tragedy), so it is a hinderance to the conservative agenda.

Mitt Romney wanted us to ponder what we should keep in a federal budget. FEMA is not on his list of keepers (with plenty of other vital services). It should give us all pause.

Now, his campaign is trying to claim that he won't do that, kind of:
"Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters," the Romney official said.

Romney says it is better to clear out this expense from the federal budget. So he wants to put it on the states to deal with and pay for. But he wants to be sure responders have the best resources and assistance to work...Which means it would be in the stay in the federal budget? So it will still be an expense problem. Or he will cut paying out, and that leaves states already struggling economically exceedingly vulnerable. Which answer is Romney's? Does any of this really make sense? ...Let's be honest, I doubt Mitt Romney even knows, or cares if it does. But these are lives and livelihoods he's playing with.

What Mitt has said quite clearly is that he will put in an across the board 5% cut, that will hit FEMA, come inauguration (If it comes to that.). It sounds good at a podium, so he promises it. What will be left when he's done?

Romney's stance also follows on a consistent conservative attack on FEMA and emergency preparedness. This includes the House Republican "success" in cutting 43% from grants FEMA gave to deal with preparation for disaster. Also, there's Eric Cantor's leadership to try and stymie FEMA disaster relief funding in the wake of disasters, to use as leverage to force cuts in government. (He also, oddly, pushed for aid to his own district, not very interested in cost offsets then. Funny, hmm?)

Eric Cantor:
"When a family is struck with tragedy -- like the family of Joplin ... let's say if they had $10,000 set aside to do something else with, to buy a new car ... and then they were struck with a sick member of the family or something, and needed to take that money to apply it to that, that's what they would do, because families don't have unlimited money. And, really, neither does the federal government."
There are few lazier economic arguments than trying to compare a family budget to a national economy. Yes, you can analogize. But only so far. They ARE NOT the same thing. A family cannot print money. A family cannot just make use of debt. And Cantor wants to talk about being wise about not buying a new car. Yet the man won't save a penny on forgoing new private planes and motorboats. (See, I can make B.S. analogies to family as well.) It's a sad conservative weakness. But the family analogy sounds nice, and if not thought on too hard it makes sense. If you actually study economics you realize though, the comparison is silly rhetoric.

But understand, this stupid comparison is how Cantor and the GOP think. To pay for Grandma to get a new house after the quake, they will pull you out of school and put the dog to sleep, but dad's still getting his new boat.

You can add to Romney and the rest of the GOP's games with numbers and lives, Paul Ryan's own game of maths. As he has tried to create his own vision of a proper conservative budget, he has put in vague yet massive cuts to spending which will have to include FEMA services. And he's made clear funding, post-disaster, aid would only be paid for if another part of the budget was axed to pay for it. So, if Atlanta floods, no new naval cruiser class...Sorry, that'd never happen. No heating allowance for grandma? That Romney/Ryan would sign off on. 

You'd hope they'd have more sense on this. But they seem only to see "big government" standing in their way. And that can't be allowed. So, look forward to Halliburton Luxury Emergency Services, and Koch Industrial Disaster Recovery. Because, conservatives love to give you who is going to gouge you on a basic survival support.

Now, some are trying to offer up defenses of what Romney has been saying, like David Frum:

Yes. He was evading the question. Why? Because he knew clearly answering it would make him look bad? Because trying to give a more populace answer would tick off the party base? Both of those answers?

What should we do with FEMA? Make it work. Simple answer. But that is not what the GOP plans. From Cantor to Ryan to Romney, FEMA is DOA in their eyes.

And while Frum wants to play at the dream of a Moderate Mitt. They both are part of a party and ideology that has made it clear they do not see disaster relief this way. Hell, Mitt seems to clearly see it as a way for him or his friends to make a tidy profit, off the suffering and tragedy of Americans.

That just is not right.

We, the American People, deserve far better than this lot.


Let's not forget what Mitt Romney has said on our other emergency workers, the police.

Greg Sergeant:
... Per CNN:  
Romney said of Obama, “he wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” 

Cut. That is always the Go To answer for Mitt Romney. Just cut it. When he became governor that is all he thought of. Education? Cut it. Hospitals? Cut them. Taxes? DEFINITELY, cut them.

And, as governor, when they had a flood, and the legislature wanted to invest to prevent flooding destruction in the future, Mitt said NO. He vetoed. That was his reaction. Sorry about what happen to Peabody, but he isn't going to spend millions to prevent some hypothetical future flood.

That is how Mitt Romney sees things. Of course, after days of dithering, Mitt wants to play nice. Of course he would support FEMA, he says now. But what of the waste of it? What of the immortality of it? He doesn't want it around. And, like with social security, medicare, and the rest, he'll try to sluff it onto states to pay for when he can. And, if he can, he'll just hand it over to corporate friends.

And what about repairs and federal investment prevention after events? Peabody, MA says it all. He is going to fight paying out and investing, like an insurance company trying to dodge a claim from a customer.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Fourth Estate: Abandoned and up for demolition.

I have been watching the media coverage of presidential campaigns for years now. Hard not to. The press does love a good campaign to cover and talk about.

So, what is going so pear shaped this year?

The media is strangely oblivious of what is going on around it. Why?

There whole point is to dig things up, see events, and report on what is going on, what is wrong with what we may be hearing. But it seems to be a struggle for them to do this. They used to be so much more eager and capable of doing it.

Remember these guys?

Well, maybe not, depending on your age. But you should know some of them. They are all people that have campaigned to be president. And one thing they have all dealt with is trying to be consistent in what they said on the stump. Sure, their is some tailoring of speeches for audiences. Even some guarded words, which they may not want getting out. But they all had to work to show that they were stalwart, true, and consistent.

And when the media decided they weren't. They paid for it.

Gore told stories of his experiences, and sometimes he was a little grandiose, sometimes he was misheard, and sometimes his words were just twisted. And no matter how the idea was born, it was latched upon Gore through the end of that election in 2000.

Kerry was a legislator, going into an election with a long record. He tried to simplify an explanation of the bill process to explain how at one point in a bill's life he had supported it, but by the final vote the situation or bill had changed, and he then opposed it. And for that, he was declared a flip-flopper. And it was pinned to his lapel, to the end of that election in 2004.

All of these men have struggled to keep on the right side of the question of consistency and veracity. Heck, not just men.

Hillary Clinton four years ago had her troubles. There was were she stood on issues as they went through Congress. And there were questions about stories she would tell to illustrate her experience. And when their was variance or confusion, she was gone after.

It is something that happens. And every candidate fights to not be trapped in this media snare.

But not this year.

Oh, no, not this year. This year it seems that consistency, veracity, and what one says one moment to the next is utterly irrelevant.

Mitt Romney is a man that has blatantly this year been an animated shiller and sales men of Willard Mitt Romney, Presidential Candidate Extraordinaire. His opinion shift like sand in the windy desert. A dune of a principle can never be guaranteed to remain in one place for more than a day. He pushes for a crack down on women's access to contraception and/or abortion, then days later he is an earnest advocate for women concerned with protecting their rights. He wants to strongly move against a country as president, then days later he's talking about how he wants to be a soft touch with that nation. He talks about cuts to federal services, then says he'll be preserving them. goes on...and on.

He presents SO MUCH material that you can use. Really, it is phenomenal. It comes at such a rate, I've had trouble blogging, getting lost in all the stories, turns, and pivots. It's like a snake on Ritalin.

But I am just a blogger. Journalist can do better. But most of them are not doing this. They cover the pivot, not as pandering, not as a possible lie, not as a flip or flop, but as words that could sound good and give Romney an uptick at the polls...



He's lying. It's that simple. He's shamelessly lying, and, you, the media, ignore it. Why? Is the horse race that important to you? Is the fabled role of the Fourth Estate so meaningless now? What has become of you?

Apology tour. Death Panels. Bipartisan Massachusetts. And so many more. All these lies.
Vague tax and budget plans. Phantom jobs plans. Shifting positions on Iraq and Afghanistan. Shifting positions on reproductive rights. And so much more. All this shadiness.

I...expect better. And if the media has a role in elections, it should not be as PR flaks, it should not be as court fools who sing and amuse, and it should not be as campaign year profiteers.

And if I have to tell what it should be...We are so screwed.

Ann Coulter jokes, being a dick to transgender.

I feel I should have talked on this sooner, in regards to some jokes. And, frankly, it is one of a number of areas where the issue needs to be taken up. (And, I don't know, it may be NSFW as I am not too kind in my words.)

Ann Coulter.


She is a nasty piece of work.

She throws out hate so easily. At Muslims  At blacks. At liberals. At foreigners. At women.

She has no qualms. She is loathsome in how eagerly she leaps to engage in her rhetoric.

And, as some have said, she may honestly believe none of it. Just a mercenary that is trying to keep her bank account brimming.


But, let me introduce you to some other people.

There are some cross dressers.

These are some transgender folk.

They aren't jokes. They are human beings. They are real. They are not punchlines.

There are so many shitty joke about Ann Coulter. About her seeming "mannish," having an odd Adam's Apple, or any of a myriad of similar jokes.

They aren't funny. Don't get me wrong. I know people laugh at them. But what are you laughing at? At Ann Coulter? Yes, maybe.

But, what you cannot breakout of your tittering, is that you are mocking the transgendered community (I am not great on terminology. So their be a more preferred term.) as well. Every joke about how Coulter, or another person seems to not be of the sex they are presenting, is about how weird being transgendered is. It is about how people who look different are wrong. It is about how being something other than plainly manly or plainly feminine makes you ripe to be bullied and harassed.

It makes the joke teller an asshole. When you tell a joke about Ann Coulter, or anyone, being mannish (or those presenting as men), you are the asshole.

Add to this that their is no reason to believe she is even transgendered. It is just fucking over transgender people to get at Ann Coulter, you dickheads!

As well, this is used too often as a convenient way to attack women, ridicule how they look to shut down whatever they're saying. It is an easy and popular tool for misogynist to use to do harm. Why would you want to pick it up and use it?

There is SO MUCH wrong with Coulter, her thinking, and her words. To go after a slur that hurts an already put upon subset of society is loathsome in an of itself.

Don't do it. Be better than that. Be better than Ann Coulter.

Do you fucking get my point?


I updated the post a little to reflect that I should be saying transgender, not transgendered.

I have so much to learn in life.

Bible and Gay Rights

The bible is used in many ways to justify a myriad of, sometimes contradictory, ideas. For me, as an atheist, to turn to the bible as justifier of action is mad. But I would like to think most of agree that using it as a sole method to justify any action is, at least, ridiculous. But people often reel in a chance to evoke the bible, or their own holy book.

This video below does a nice job of illustrating the point. On how the bible explains the dire world ending threat of respecting gay rights. Please watch the video to it's end to properly see the problem with the biblical battle cry (from AMERICAblog):

Really have to give props to Rev. Snider.

Anyone who honestly and openly study the bible, and its history, should appreciate the precarious validity in trying to use the bible as a tool to justify intolerance or war. Those that have used their faith and holy works to push hate, intolerance, and abuse have bitten their faithful antecedents in the ass. History is NEVER kind to those that think a pulpit and a bible will make their hate eternally validated. Slavery. Segregation. That is just the tip of a massive iceberg of hate and intolerance that has been cried out for at a pulpit. And the congregants said, "Amen." Too often it has been a safe place, with conservative thinking holy men ready to validate the status quo and resist change and toleration of others.

Just look these days at the Catholic Church and American Catholics. Most Catholics seem less inclined to embrace the Churches intolerance, control of women, and social conservatism. They vote largely for gay rights and to protect abortion access.

Just remember that, religious reader. When a priest or pastor tells you it's right, good, and godly to hate, remember the history

Why your voting matters in November - Womening Up Edition *UPDATED 3*

It has been another week of this election season. Make that saga. We' have had one last debate, focused on foreign policy. But let's be sure, as we go out of this weeks of the electoral fight, that we do not forget what Romney, Ryan, and the rest of the Republican Party has said and done in regards to rights of and health care access for women.

Women, the often forgotten majority. Women, too easily shuffled into a 2nd Class position.

So let's be sure we don't stop talking about the GOP Agenda, in regards to...


So, what is their plan for womenfolk?

On LILY LEDBETTER, Republicans have been all too clear on how hostile they are to assuring women equal pay. For a long time it has been a fight to get this passed through Congress. Finally, President Obama just had to act on his own, to bypass Republican roadblocks. Once in office, Romney has no reason to protect the fair wages for women.

But let's not forget the health care impact of further Republican power in government. Also, don't forget, as we look at it, that what Republicans would affect in health care will lead to new costs, barriers, and troubles that are also economically impactful. Access to birth control through your health care provider will change the lives of many women in the workplace.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD, a name well known, reviled by conservatives, vitally needed by women in many communities. But the organization dares, among many vital services, to aid women in questions about or having an abortion. So everything else they do is ignored (help with cancer, help with pregnancy, etc), and they must be destroyed. (Granted, if they actually just focused on abortions, I would say it should be protected. But it does so much other vital work.)

In conservative dominated states like Texas and Oklahoma the GOP has worked to cut off all support to the group, to hell with the impact on the women of the state. And yet other conservatives have worked to try and smear the group, much like ACORN was. And from the federal end Romney has talked, on the record, about cutting off Planned Parenthood. As for Paul Ryan, he's been active in attempting this already from within Congress.

In office, Romney would lead an executive branch attack on this key gateway for millions to health care. McConnell and Boehner would attack on the legislative end. And Scalia and his ilk would be attacking on the judicial. They truly do all have dreams of making Planned Parenthood into another dead husk, like ACORN. Again, to hell with the consequences for women across America.

The result for many women will be to be more isolated from medical support, and preventative medicine.

Along with Planned Parenthood, we actually have the question of access to BIRTH CONTROL, contraception. It is stunning. For so long now it was thought that this was settled, and the conservative fight was on access to birth control. Complaining about contraception was the job of the silly prude from your church. But, no, not anymore. The GOP has decided that birth control, the Pill, is CONTROVERSIAL. It has been made dirty yet again.

Now Republicans seem ready to take on some fights on this question. They are more eager to race out and call women sluts. Women on the Pill, and the Pill, are being presented and seen as vile. From celebrity conservatives, to conservative mouthpieces, to actual conservative legislators, they are more ready and confident they can be openly hostile to birth control. And conservatives are eager to howl over questions of religious rights, ignoring the rights of women to have access basic medicine. Medicine that we've seen wide access to otherwise for more than half a century. Along with so many other mad positions, this has gotten itself into the Republican Agenda.

Here's Rep. Steve King of Iowa, on whether he thinks contraception should remain legal:

He won't take a position. He can't just say, "Sure it should be legal." Simple answer. Worse, he's afraid to give his real stance, that contraception should not be. Because that would cost some votes.

And what of Romney/Ryan? Will they fight against pressure from the base to cut off access? They will be happy to cut support to women for contraception from Obamacare. It'll be the first thing to go.

And here's the thing. The vast majority of us Americans feel, women should have access. Most of us are in agreement. But how will we vote and act when one party is focused so doggedly in blocking access?

Along with birth control, the fight to keep ABORTION legal or even available in most of the country continues. Romney has danced back and forth on questions of his positions. His brain is whirring trying to see where he is best off, to win the election. So he tells us he has no part of his legislative agenda that deals with abortion. That doesn't include new Supreme Court justices or federal judges he'd appoint. Or the fact he seems keen to support old conservative Global Gag Rule. (In fact, he has talked a lot over recent years about all the ways he's support limiting or ending access to abortion for women. And, as governor, he went after help to rape survivors.) But not legislatively. He promises.

Yeah. This is an old joke. But so is Mitt Romney.
Along the way, Mitt has worked to muddy the waters to claim he is the candidate of "choice." Just maybe not what you might think. It's just window dressing, while others take the country another way.

This is where his party is, where the pressure on him will come from, and where he's stood most consistently is all too clear. While ignoring other issues, Republicans have tried to push 46 bills on abortion through Congress. Across the country, the GOP is every working to find a better way to deny women the ability to choose. Where they can they bar it. Other places, builders get scared off. Some place laws on the books detailing the mandatory dimensions of a facilities broom closet. Or have law requiring doctors to have privileges at a local hospital, knowing no hospital wants that relationship.

Then there is Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan. Ryan is already known to be in league with Todd Akin, of legitimate rape infamy. He's consistently voted against women's ability to choose. He's repeatedly voted to cut off Planned Parenthood. He's cosponsored personhood legislation. He's even cosponsored a mandatory probing measure. And he's made it clear he isn't impressed with the plight of rape victims seeking abortions. This is who Mitt Romney has chosen to place a heartbeat away from the presidency. What more do we need to say on that?

Conservatives have worked to get people to limit and shape what is acceptable to happen to women, hoping to turn society to judge women who have pregnancies. Look at the recent shocking talk of rape. Should women then have access to abortion, or even the morning after pill? Well, was it legitimate rape, one conservative asks. Another asks, is it an honest rape? Paul Ryan asked, was it forcible rape? Then another asks, was it enjoyable rape? But, of course, Richard Murdock pipes up to remind conservatives of what they've been saying at other times, "Gentlemen, why are you fretting? It's God's will. It's God's gift. Tell the women that they should just be grateful."

The effort is to define rape away. It is an effort to define away one reason abortion is supported in our society. And all it will take is to turn society against rape survivors. Define them as liars, as ungrateful people shunning gifts from God. That's the Republican Party.

The Republicans seem to be so concerned about women getting to free. Having the ability to have sex, free of the danger of disease or pregnancy?

Women having to the choice to limit or not start a family outside of their own planning?

That just leads to promiscuous and loose women!

It's like the fear with the HPV vaccine.  Where, yes, a Republican governor was supporting vaccination. Then the conservative prudish base got upset, and it all became, "Shame! Shame!"

That, sadly, is how conservatives see reproductive health questions. And the result of these policies and views of Republicans? A life where women have to fear their sexuality, are ashamed, and soon enough burdened by "womenly" duties, or destined to the life of a spinster. That is their 1930's view of the future of American culture.

Tina Fey has it right.

They should not have power over these issues. And they won't if we don't vote for them, and vote in smarter better choices.

Make the choice to protect your choices.


Have you seen the great ad in Wisconsin from Republicans to reach out to all you gals?

Hey, doll face! Who should you vote for? The cute one, of course. Now get me a tumbler of scotch. ...

The GOP really gets to the heart of all the issues that concern women, huh.

And here's a list of 101 ways conservatives have gone after women recently.

Add to that another charming Mitt Romney story. Those are always a joy.
It was in August of that year, shortly after the Romney family returned from their vacation to Lake Huron, that a pregnant woman in her late 30s—Carrel Hilton Sheldon—was informed by her doctor that she had a life-threatening blood clot lodged in her pelvic region. 
In treating the clot, Sheldon was administered an overdose of the blood thinner Heparin, an overdose that not only resulted in significant internal bleeding, but also extensive damage to her kidneys, to the point where she was on the verge of needing a transplant. Her life was clearly in peril. 
Sheldon's doctor advised her that the overdose of Heparin might have also harmed her 8-week-old fetus and, given the possible fatal repercussions to her, he recommended that she abort her pregnancy. 
Sheldon, a mother of four at the time (a fifth child had died as an infant), was then a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), outside of Boston. The LDS leader in Massachusetts at that time, called the "stake president," was a Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Gordon Williams, and he counseled Sheldon to follow her doctor's advice to terminate the pregnancy and protect her own life, so that she could continue caring for her four living children. 
"Of course, you should have the abortion," she recalled him saying. 
According to an account later written anonymously by Sheldon for the LDS women's journal,Exponent II, it was after receiving this counsel from her Williams supporting the potentially life-saving procedure that she experienced an uninvited visit in her hospital from her Mormon bishop at the time, 36-year-old Mitt Romney, who adamantly opposed the abortion. 
"He regaled me with stories of his sister and her retarded child and what a blessing the child had been to the family," Sheldon wrote of the incident. "He told me that 'as your bishop, my concern is with the child.'" 

And the story goes on from there. Charming. He met a woman who's life was at stake, who's children would have been left without there mother, and he was just the cold agent of his church. Maintaining order, the religious order, keeping everyone in line with his worldview. This is the man who wants into the presidency. 


And here is Obama's message to Planned Parenthood, it's supporters, and it's customers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Romney's Su-PEER-iors PRESSURE: Mitt's CEO's *UPDATED*

Are we as a country feeling particularly comfortable with bosses and executives dropping none to subtle hints that voting wrong will lead to people getting laid off? Are we fine when the boss lays on the pressure to try and scare employees into subverting their own thinking and interests to fulfill those of corporate masters?

Because that is what we are dealing with today. It has always existed to some extent, but today, it is bold as brass. A number of businesses...No. Let us be clear here. A number of business owners are talking and mailing their workforces with scary notices (And, I want to be clear this is the act of owner. Because this is not the thinking and concern focused on matters of the business itself, but on the personal sensibilities of the owner.).

The Koch Brothers (You may have heard of them.) have been putting the pressure on their massive collection of workers. Mailers have been sent out to 45,000 of their employees at Georgia Pacific saying:
If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.

They want to push their BS agenda, and we've seen the impact in campaign dollars coming from these brothers. But they want to make it clear, some of their thousands of workers will be likely fired...If the wrong man wins the presidential election.

And as part of the information sent to workers was also a list of approved candidates (all Republicans) for states offices and editorials from the Kochs on the various governmental evils as they see them. All part of the effort to lay into these people just trying to make a living. Pressure and more pressure.

It is yet another front in the continuing bullying of the nation by billionaire businessmen. They are rich. They are powerful. They are privileged  And nothing we are doing will change that. But society itself changes on them, and they look to roll over and crush society.

Regulations. Tax law. Environmental protection  Equal pay. Gay marriage. Abortion rights. They all blur together as topics for people like the Kochs. It is stuff that bugs them. It won't end their lives of ease. But it all offends their sensibilities. And if it does that, it will not be tolerated. Long haired teens. Opinionated skirts. Unions. Barack Obama. All the same. All unacceptable.

So. Who is working to rally employers to pressure employees to vote for Romney? Romney, obviously. And he is caught on record talking about this.
Newly-discovered audio from a conference call in June captures Mitt Romney asking business owners to urge their employees to vote for him. 
Romney, speaking on a call to the very conservative National Federation of Independent Business, tells a group of business owners that they should “make it very clear” how they feel about the candidates. ...

From those tapes:
I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. ...

Oh, we know what that means. Don't we?


More from Chris Hayes and his team (via Mediaite) on another of the companies involved in pressuring it's employees to vote from Mitt Romney.

On Saturday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes delved deeper into a series of emails written by ASG Software Solutions President and CEO Arthur Allen to his employees on the topic of Mitt Romney. 
Specifically, Allen encouraged those who worked for him to support the Republican candidate with donations to his website, urging them to contribute to the Romney campaign “up to the maximum of $2,500 per person.” In addition, he encouraged his employees to contact their own friends and relatives and urge them to support Romney as well. 
“ASG,” Allen wrote, “like many other companies, is still struggling, even after four years. We need to elect a fiscally conservative president and vice-president and stop this ridiculous government spending.” The letter concludes by asking employees to please “help ASG and yourself” by contributing to the Romney/Ryan campaign. 
In another email, Allen had asked his employees to defer “some of all” of their salaries until December in order to help the company make a 15 million dollar interest payment. This provides a contrast to earlier comments Allen had made regarding use of a private jet costing something around 50 million dollars. 

Again we see the pressure and spreading of fear that jobs could be lost, based on dubious argument. Also, like in too many companies, cuts are being demanded of the workforce, where management continues to get "invested" in. I would be left doubting this guys fiscal insight, if I worked there.

Also, it has been noted that Herman Cain, remember him, is going around the country working to get and help employers pressure employees. How nice of him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Can you vote yet?

Following on a earlier post, I am going back into TPM's handy chart to remind you all of the opening of voting in many states, as of today.

Remember. These are places just starting voting. Where you are may have already started accepting votes before now. So check.

As of October 17th (And since the 13th):

No fault absentee voting has started in:

  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Nevada
In person early voting has started in:

  • Kansas
  • Nevada - This begins OCTOBER 20th.
  • North Carolina - This begins OCTOBER 18th.

For next week, October 22nd - 28th:

In person early voting starts:

  • Alaska - Starts the 22nd.
  • Arkansas - Starts the 22nd.
  • Colorado - Starts the 22nd.
  • District of Columbia - Starts the 22nd.
  • Florida - Starts the 27th.
  • Hawaii - Starts the 23rd.
  • Illinois - Starts the 22nd.
  • Louisiana - Starts the 23rd.
  • Maryland - Starts the 27th.
  • North Dakota - Starts the 22nd.
  • Texas - Starts the 22nd.
  • Utah - Starts the 23rd.
  • West Virginia - Starts the 24th.
  • Wisconsin - Starts the 22nd.

No fault absentee request deadlines:

  • Arizona - Ends on October 26th.
  • Indiana - Ends on October 29th.

As I said before, with games people are playing, court cases abound, and human error, please check on where you live to verify if you can vote.

Then vote.

After the Debate: Maybe Mitt Shouldn't Have Said That - The October 16th Edition *UPDATED*

Once the debate was over Team Romney, and the Right Wing hegemony, acted to try and unspin some of the more damning moments of the night.

The main one (via TPM):
"See, Obama did say "terror" in talking about the deaths in Benghazi, Libya. BUT, he didn't mean it the right way. Okay? So no more talk of this, and we'll just chalk this up to another Romney win. BYE!"
Nah. That is not reality. Sorry, conservatives. Like with Fast & Furious, what you want to claim just isn't real.

And it was bad that, some time after the fact, you tried to make political hay with dead federal agents. But with Benghazi, you were trying to use these 4 deaths as political weapons while their families were still being informed. You took a still developing foreign policy dilemma of your nation and tried to twist it for short term political game. In the olden days you are so fond of, I'm sure you have a word for the sort of malcontents that would stoop so low. Look it up, look in a mirror, and use it.

Here's the debate exchange again, for your enjoyment:

But coming out of this debate I'd suggest they should be worried plenty about much of what Mitt Romney said tonight.

One spot I find ripe is his panicked defense of his tax and budget numbers. In his race to just shut down the president's clear rebuttal of his plan, Romney started to try and list his mathematical experience:

  • He's run a business.
  • He's run the Olympics.
  • He's run a state.

Well then. That's that, right?

In business, what happen? He made money for himself. He actually did help some businesses. And the others? The ones that got laden in loans, much of which went to pay him and Bain? How's that math exactly? Does he really want us going back and checking those numbers? I think not. And, those undecided probably deserve to learn more about Mitt's numbers.

In the Olympics, what happen? Oh, my. He likes to give us a vague sunshiny view of those Utah Olympics, doesn't he? How did Romney help them? Most of the fund raising was done. The planning and construction was already underway. What did Mitt do? He went and got the federal government to hand over $1.5 billion in tax revenue. An amount so amazingly far outside what the government has been asked or willing to invest in Olympic events ever before. That was Mitt's big maths win there, getting the government to just come in and cover the costs for him. Such a keen business mind. He even admits, the Olympics wouldn't of happen, if not for the government intervention. ...That almost sounds like a joke, when you think of everything Romney has been saying this year. But this is what Mitt Romney had to admit in 2004. And most of this money went into a slush fund to spend on wealthy donors. Say, this REALLY is sounding like a Mitt Romney plan, isn't it?

In Massachusetts, when Romney came in they had law on the books forcing balanced budgets. And the state was already in a crisis. The Democratic legislature wanted to use taxes to save public services, and Romney ran against this. He promised cuts in wasteful spending, which he said would right things. When he got into office the hole in the budget was huge. And he began cutting into the budget. He wanted to layoff public workers. He wanted to make cuts to Medicaid. He wanted to make cuts to public universities. He wanted to make cuts to public hospitals. All of the cuts hit cities and towns, who had no choice but to raise their taxes to compensate and survive. That is Mitt Romney's math. Raise taxes at all on anyone? Hell, no! Cut Medicaid and hospital support? Sure.


Some more from Mitt's time in Massachusetts.

... Romney aggressively pursued federal government assistance when he was the governor of Massachusetts. It was not, however, a BIG FUCKING SURPRISE to learn that he balanced the budget by taking millions of dollars from something called the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund.
In his first budget proposal [as governor], Romney promised balancing the budget without tapping reserves, and “without the use of fiscal gimmicks.” However, buried in the details, he suggested tapping reserves such as taking $4 million from the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, and he included fiscal gimmicks to maximize and divert federal aid into his general state coffers … The Wall Street Journal labeled such financing mechanisms “Medicaid Money Laundering” and a “swindle.”
Translation: after these gimmicks are deployed, it LOOKS like the state has spent money on Poors and is thus eligible to get money from federal Medicaid coffers. But in reality, the state HASN’T spent the money on Poors.
You can learn more about the Mitt's ploy at the Wonkette.

Also, Up With Chris Hayes looked at the results of Mitt in business.

They run through a list and have more discussions of what happen helps create the great success story of Mitts, known as Staples.

  • Nearly half of those working at it are part time workers.
  • The retail sales force is make around $20,000 a year, putting them beneath the poverty line in the United States. (It's one of the 50 largest low wage employers.)

Go to the link for more on this. But look at this. How does this company thrive, and drive out smaller local paper and office supply businesses? Keeping workers just at part time, and keeping it's sales force in poverty. This is how China takes business. It's also how Walmart helps bolster it's profits (as I've noted before).

Honestly. Mitt has nothing to brag about when it comes to his numbers, math, or job creation. He's been quite a menace all around.

Debate 2: Obama talks to America, Romney talks out of his ass.

As I noted in my last post, I over tweeted myself and got booted.


So let's look at this debate we had tonight between President Obama and Mitt Romney. This time we had a town hall format debate. Which means that the candidate stand up, occasionally sitting on a stool (Word out is Romney practiced this hard the last few days.) and receive questions for different people and answer. The idea is to be more informal and offer more back and forth, which we got. This format was not, it seems, well suited to Romney, who became quite pissy and grouchy, with people calling him out on lies and bad math.

Also, following on Martha Radditch, Candy Crowley finely proved herself as a moderator. While both candidates at times went longer than they should have, or (Mitt) had added goes at the other (Obama), overall, she kept them on point, and worked to keep them reasonable. She even took a blatant attempt to lie about a major foreign policy issue and put it straight.

Quick and simple. Obama did talk about acts of terrorism. Romney and the GOP may want to pretend otherwise, but no.

Of course. The Right Wing is eager to fight over this, like with Fast and Furious, the minutia of the issue is all they have to hope can, in some way, smear and bring down the president. It is pathetic. But, look who leads this charge:

They just want to quibble. "Obama didn't really really say it right. For shame."

But this is what they have, and what Romney brought. And Obama gave a sober answer the question of who takes responsibility when deaths happen as president. And it was bad for Romney, who clearly looked like a man never without someone to shift blame onto.

And I could go into the discussion that went into women's health, but the President blew Romney out of the water on that.

And he pulled out the Apology Tour BS. Who does this work with? Are the undecided impressed by it? He just flung it out sadly. Last gasps of that line? Maybe? Please?

Other oddities:

Binder of Women. 
To explain how Mitt really got the issues of women in the workplace and the trouble of getting fair pay, Romney hearkened back to when he was hiring as governor. I knew as Obama was talking this would be tricky for Romney, he has so little connection to people trying to get paid properly. So instead he just talked about, gosh, trying to get some women into government.

And that, apparently, required a binder of women who he could pick from. Flattering, right? Also, apparently neither he nor his advisers had any women around them that seemed like immediately obvious choices to work with Mitt. Odd that (No it isn't.).

Also imagine did he also need binders to figure out if any Hispanics, Blacks, or Asians were available to serve. And what about at Bain and the Olympics? No binders then? No interest in that sorted diversity business at the time?
Source -

And, yes, Romneys Binders (at @RomneysBinders on Twitter) now exists. The wonder of Twitter.

Gun violence arises from single parent homes.
Another weird bit from Mitt. He seemed to go off when talking about gun control and gun violence and point at single parent homes as a major problem. Also education. Weird. And easily critiqued.

It may seem odd that Romney tried to point at the under educated and single family kids here, unless you remember my previous post on dog whistles. To the GOP, and the people that think like Romney, the problem is "those people" who come from broken homes and get themselves a good know, those...urban folk. Those...type. ...Romney is talking about black people! He thinks the problem is among blacks, and his friends at the NRA would like you to think that as well...regardless of how many white guys shoot up groups of people.

Oh, yeah, he also tried desperately to pivot on to Fast and Furious.

Remember that? It was the go nowhere conspiracy/scandal that the GOP was trying to foist on the president, before they got around to trying to turn the assassination in Libya into the new one.

Wow. He tried to plop out 2 scandals over 90 minutes, and got big fails on both accounts.

Answer to jobs going overseas? Make us more desirable to business -- Which want cheap labor, low regulation on safety, and an easier time dumping waste. Paradise.

So Romney had a ready answer to address job loses to other countries. Make America more palatable to business.

What business likes in China, currently, is the very low wages they have to pay. They also don't have to give health care support. Also, they can work people quite hard for longer periods of time.

Sweat shops. That is the Romney America. We either work cheaply  with little free time, and low a standard of living, or we get, as Romney apparently sees it, what we deserve. Lovely, isn't it?

He also wants to take on China (snert). He'll take on their currency. He'll shake his finger at them. He'll really shake things up...He'll get nothing done.
As well, apparently, now the Chinese currency is growing closer to parity to the US dollar already. There's a long way to go, but the shift is underway.

And, noted by Think Progress, the tax plan that Romney has presented makes it easier for business to exit the United States. And, as we stand, our effective corporate tax rate is the lowest in the developed world.

Also, Trickle Down Government? I know Frank Luntz loves his little terms. And going after the all too accurate description of their economic philosophy, Trickle Down Economics, must be so fun for them. But is this resonating with anyone. The only people who probably remember it's origins are bitter Reaganites who are already sold, and those that remember how telling the original term was. Odd desperate choice.

Immigration, if only Obama cared.
Romney tried to sell the idea that Obama has been silent for four years on immigration. That is patently false. In 2009 he had a immigration bill in Congress. But Republicans were staunchly opposed, and some Democrats joined in, killing the bill. And with the efforts now with the DREAM Act, it got to the point where Obama just had to act on his own, thanks to the feet dragging of Republicans.

Fake sympathy from Romney. That isn't winning plan for the Hispanic vote.

To end the night, Mitt tried to share what voters don't know about him.

And to start off, he, for some reason, started to list off his resume to the audience. ...Honestly, it made me flashback to the last episode of The Thick Of It, when two advisers to the DoSAC minister are being made to justify why they shouldn't be forced to resign in the wake of a scandal. And one, Phil Smith, just starts rattling off, in a distracted panic, his job description.

It was kind of sad to watch...I mean in the episode of the TV show. Here it was almost funny.

Then he kept saying we don't have to settle. Again and again. Because, a vote for Mitt Romney isn't settling at all.



Are We Better Off Now Then We Were Four Years Ago?

Think Progress has some charts to remind us how things have changed for the better over these last four years.

Here's one chart:

Under Democratic leadership a steep fall has been shifted. After heavy losses, economically, we are returning. We have a distance to go. But the turnaround and success we've had so far comes from Democratic efforts, despite Republican roadblocks. Turning things back over to those that drove us into the red, who promise now they've learned their lesson...That is mad.

We are coming back, as we'll see with Barack Obama and Four More Years.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Note on Debate Tonight

I know no one is likely interested in this, but I was tweeting the debate tonight. But like last time, I hit the tweet limit and was cut off. At the hour mark this time.

Man, that bites.

So no more tweeting until tomorrow.


And props to Crowley. Holding both, for the most part, to their time limits. Also, for calling out the BS Romney claim about Obama on the Libyan attack statement. Kudos. Particularly because I have been rough at times on some of her reporting. But she's proven me wholly wrong on her temerity and skill.

Now we see how the media takes and spins the debate.

Walmart: Pay low wages, shift the costs on to others. Brings a tear to Romney's eye.

Walmart is well known for it's low prices. But few bother or care to consider just where those prices are derived from.

Partly, it comes from the production of products overseas in facilities working to keep cost extremely low, in part through a work force working for meager rewards. Also, efficient supply chain and large volume buys help to. But another extremely useful tool in keeping Walmart costs down is making the United States government subsidize it's store operations.

That is correct. WE fund the operation of Walmart via tax revenue. How? Walmart takes many steps to ensure the expense of having a workforce is limited. They often refuse to pay overtime that is due, and takes various deductions out of worker's paychecks. It's called wage theft. And the result is a meager paycheck gets all the leaner. And this is when they actually pay the proper minimum wage.

So, as a result, most employees of Walmart work at unacceptably low wage levels. And this is as Walmart wants it. Because at this low a level of income, the American Social Safety Net kicks in. Employment at Walmart leaves many, forced to rely on Medicaid and SNAP (or food stamps). In fact, Walmart is now the main force leading to people entering the SNAP program.

Daily Kos (Paddy Ryan):
... In fact, Walmart has become the number one driver behind the growing use of food stamps in the United States with "as many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores using food stamps." 

80% of the workers? So, when you go in, you can know most of the people there are left to struggle to get by, as far as corporate management is concerned. Hey, they're getting fed, so they can get back to work, and it costs Walmart nothing. It costs us though. According to the piece above, Walmart employees cost us nationally over $2.5 billion a year. Which is approximately $420,000 per store in your state, or city. This is millions who could get paid a wage to get by on, and get health coverage, but aren't. So they're using SNAPS and Medicaid to survive.

The result? We all are saddled with billions in costs. Walmart executives are showered with praise and bonuses from bringing in the extra billions in savings, on top of the billions they already make in profits.

And this is exactly how far too much of big business in America operates. Profits. Profits Profits. Profits? Yeah, PROFITS!!!

Now, don't get me wrong. I love profits. We all want to profit. But, like with Walmart, you have companies that make billions (more than $15) in profits, then turn around, underpay their employees and drop billions in expenses on the community and nation around them. ...And, should we mention how these massive businesses cut out sweetheart deals with the surrounding communities to avoid taxes, not to mention all the ways they avoid paying taxes at the national level?

Please, tell me you see something wrong here? Because in the midst of this abuse of a workforce, Walmart is a member of that austere class of business that works diligently to ensure that their workers have NO VOICE. No unions allowed. That might cut into their freaking massive profits. Might even cut into that Rolling In $100 Bills time they set aside on Wednesdays.

Business, should seek its profits. But that does not negate the responsibilities a business has. The ones to a community. The ones to it's workers. The ones to it's nation of residence.

As I noted in an earlier post. These corporations fly national flags out of convenience. It's not patriotism. It's about making the yokels happy, and making more money. Once the money's gone. So is the flag, and so are they.

And to blame workers for this is beyond sick. Wanting a profit isn't evil. But, likewise,wanting a wage you can live on isn't greedy. Wanting access to heath care isn't vain. And, wanting to be able to have a voice in your workplace isn't criminal.

And that's why we have seen a major move by workers in the Walmart empire to get together and stand united against the pressure, threats, and abuse of management. In multiple cities now, workers are on strike. It is still a small part of the company, but it is a start.

Sadly, it is under covered in the media. In fact when workers do take stands like this for wages, working conditions, or other issues, the media is just, oddly, underwhelmed with the efforts. The media disappoints in many cases here. So it falls on us to be aware and vocal for these workers.

This is the corporate vision Romney has. If everyone would work longer, work for less, and barely get by, we could get everyone working and happy! Not really. Society and economics don't actually work that way, but conservatives have abandoned detail and mathematics for ideology and fantasy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today in GOP dog whistles.

Well it is another day in the 2012 Election Fun. And the GOP has been hard at work blowing on their dog whistles.

What does that mean? What's this about dog whistles? Well, to those not up this lingo, dog whistles relates to the nature of these whistles to not be heard by humans, but by dogs. To use a dog whistle in talking is to imply one harsh and negative thing while trying to portrait a comment as being harmless or benign. Dinesh D'Souza and others calling President Obama "anti-colonial" is one example. It is meant to convey that he isn't "one of us" and is a threat to the country. Another is to allude to racial stereotypes or imagery, trying to connect to racistly inclined people in your audience.

When it comes to dog whistles in politics, the GOP, from top to bottom, has gone quite red faced this year blowing away.

To see this, just look at today. One day.

Look to disgraced former governor Mark Sanford. Apparently all is forgiven and FOX has taken him to their bosom as a contributor. What does he contribute?
“Obama’s going to come out in this case much more forcefully, and he’s going to throw a lot of spears,” Sanford opined. ...

Throwing spears? Odd choice of words, isn't it? Why say it? Because it is a long used term to describe black men. The term, decoded, is spearchucker. A word meant to hearken back to the imagery of Africans using and throwing spears in some tribal setting. It is meant to imply savagery and being something other and less than whites. It was a common enough term, once. If you see the original MASH (the movie adapted from the play), it is used as a nickname of a black surgeon at camp who once played football. It can seem innocent enough, without context.

But we should remember the context, and why it is still used. Sanford wanted to berate Obama and imply something troubling about him, particularly if and when he would defend himself in a debate. He's going to chuck spear, because, to people like Sanford, he's not one of us, he's alien. If Sanford wasn't already disgusting he'd have earned that badge today.

In another place Jason Thompson, son of former governor and senate candidate Tommy Thompson (of panicking people about poison gas after 9/11 fame), spoke before a County Republican Party event. He wanted them to know that (w/ video):
"We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago - or Kenya," Jason Thompson, an attorney at Michael Best and Friedrich, said during a fall brunch hosted by the Kenosha County Republican Party.  
Back to Kenya...because, apparently, that is where he's from. Of course, it is long established, since his birth, that President Obama is an American, and a Hawaiian. But repeating the wild claim, and to a disturbing level believing it, is bread and butter from Republicans still today. They will go on the news, smile coldly, and say, "Of course, the president is an American citizen." Then they will go out and blow the dog whistle, getting crowds of conservatives cheering madly and giddily. Mostly though, they let surrogates do it, keeping the myth alive. The myth that the president is really a foreign threat, alien in thinking and an enemy in agenda.

Parties often want to present an opponents ideas as wrong. But this is a new sick level. It breeds disturbing levels of fear and hate among conservatives. But it also gets ignorant voters out for them. So they blow that whistle.

And is TWO examples of people on major stages talking like this. Feel free to contemplate how much more was said at smaller venues, in emails being sent around by politicos and campaigns, and so on.

This is how, for some folk, you still win office, or keep power. It is a big part of a Southern Strategy of old, and Dog Whistle Strategy of today and tomorrow.

In the end they want to make Barack Hussein Obama, husband and father, the 44th president, and American citizen, just some alien/foreign/outsider/unAmerican caricature meant to sicken you and haunt your dreams.

They want to do all of that to THIS.

Call me mad, but this this is in anyway alien/foreign/outsider/unAmerican, I want to be that. (And props to the news story that used this pic instead of the racist images conservatives pass around.)

Be aware that these dog whistles are blowing all the time. They are trying to bolster the hate and fear of the ignorant. Also, they are trying to cajole those that should know better to embrace the lesser angels of their natures.

Don't stand for it.

And be sure to vote.