Thursday, November 22, 2012

The trouble with going to Walmart

We know much about Walmart. Walmart is big business. It cuts into other businesses in a communities. And most of the products it sells come from other countries.

But what it does to it's own employees is a matter that seems to be missed in much of the media.

Walmart employs 1.3 million, making it the largest private employer. On average the starting salary at Walmart is $15,500. This puts a two-person family at the poverty line. Walmart also skimps on paying overtime to workers. When workers do make more money they get pushed out of jobs, to keep the workforce from taking too much of the profits (from managements view.). Also, no unions have able to gain a foothold within the corporation, as of yet, to allow workers to achieve any change. Of note, in Alabama this poor pay rate forces 4,700 kids on to Medicaid to get by. This is an intended result of the pay strategy, to put employee benefits pressure on Medicaid. By allowing it's workforce to fall below the poverty line, the government takes on the cost of their health care, food support, etc. Here's a chart to show the impact of Walmart's scheme on the whole country:

$1.5 billion in tax dollars. Just so Walmart can post an extra billion and a half in profit. Millions of which go to the CEO. And much more into the pockets of the Walton family. So you go to Walmart spend hundreds to buy their products, then you pay your taxes and fund them further. All the while the Waltons will support efforts to get their tax rates cut further.

How much money in their in this business? The CEO of Walmart makes $18 million a year. And the profits for Walmart were $15.7 billion in 2011. Efforts to get better treatment for workers, in the wake of these high executive salaries and massive profits, continue. But management disregards the concerns and needs of workers.

And the result of this has been the beginning of attempts to strike against mistreatment by Walmart management. And come tomorrow, Black Friday, strikes will begin in earnest. Up to now, Walmart has prevented any real dissent. It looks like things are shifting.

What Walmart has been doing isn't too different from what many businesses do, trying to minimize what it pays and offers workers. It is really all too common. And that is sad. Now, I understand the desire to maximize profits, but as Henry Ford understood long ago, you want a workforce that can actually buy your products. This should be immediately obvious to the largest private employer in a country. It is truly pathetic shortsightedness. As noted here, paying better only improves the state of a given industry and an economy as a whole. But businesses don't bother. And Walmart has the power to ignore it's impact, while doing small acts to try and look better.

We need to move them to change. Workers are beginning to believe they can have some affect. But part of this can also come from boycotting Walmart. At least on Black Friday. We can hope to make a mark on their profits to make them consider how they treat their workers, and how they damage the economy.

Additional Resources:

OUR Walmart Strike Took Kit

Stand With Walmart Strikers On Black Friday

Thanksgiving. More than thanks, giving.

Thanksgiving is upon the Americans...North America...United States. Okay, we Americans are having our Thanksgiving holiday.

And you know what that means. Having a good meals before we head out later that day to line up to shop. Sadly, no joke there.

That is what it is for many of us. Others like to get some time off (unless you work retail, and you're resting before going to work Thanksgiving night -- or afternoon, at Wal-Mart) Or, to complain about Thanksgiving being horrific.

Now, it is true that the relationship between Europeans colonizers and native peoples in the Americas tended to be less than ideal...Okay. They tended to be dark passages in the annals of history. And we can never let what resulted be forgotten, despite some wanting to brush it over.

But there are some positive lessons to learn from those early years. Even today.

But first...

Okay. Back to my point.

Giving thanks is an old tradition. For the US, we draw back to the Plymouth colony for the holiday. From the start, the English settlement of Plymouth struggled. They were out of there depths. They couldn't get the crops to grow. They were getting sick, or dying. Some local tribes didn't care for the colonial interlopers. And the colonist stole from the food stores of some of locals. Not a good start. A bad lot. You can imagine what modern conservatives would say of them and call them if they could see them as they were.

We too often get a nice weird image of guys in big hats, all in black, with lots of buckles. They seem to all be tall and barrel-chested. And then they invite the Indians over for a party, because that's just how awesome they were. No. The colonist didn't dress like that. And they weren't clean, healthy, and hearty. It was a tense and dark time. Things were grim.

But...They were helped. The Wampanoag tribe gave them food during the first rough winter. They were taught fishing techniques, and which crops grow best in the local ground. Plymouth was struggling and dying. Many colonies before had been attempted. some died out, some were abandoned. Their fate was not certain. But the local society around them lent a hand to them. It fed them. It trained them. It bolstered them at the point of greatest need. They got their asses saved.

So now, as we gorge ourselves and prep to show in this time of Thanks Giving, let's remember and learn from the aid and support given to our national ancestors (the white ones) by those natives (also out national ancestors) 400 some years ago.

No, they didn't just build it.

No, they weren't lazy because they needed a leg up.

Now though, we can continue the good that was done that year. We can consider and plan today how we will continue to pay forward the good spirit and intentions of that time. How can we feed those in need? How can we teach those in need? How can we bolster and aid those in need?

We can ensure the Affordable Care Act moves forward. We can ensure a social safety remains intact (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, and on down the line). We can pull back from war. And we can remember those in need, acting to be sure they have a chance to succeed.

Americans to pay for Thanksgiving dinner with food stamps in record numbers

The latest data from the US Department of Agriculture shows that 47.1 million Americans relied on food stamps in August – the highest number yet. 

Since 2007, participation in the food stamp program has skyrocketed, increasing by 70 percent. The cost of feeding the approximately 44.7 million Americans who relied on food stamps last year cost the US government a record $72 billion. 
Also, in the wake of the first Thanksgiving, on reservations, poverty approaches 1/3, and 4% of food stamps go to Native Americans.

 More SNAP data.

Infographic: The face of the food stamp recipient

But it is a joke to some.

Fox Pundit Jokes Food Stamps Could Be A Diet Plan

Sadly, for some, helping out your neighbors is ridiculous. From conservatives that see much of the country as lazy or looking for hand outs, to wealthy people eager to avoid any investment in society.

Or, investing in the well-being of their employees.
Restaurant chain experiments with more part-time work to avoid Obamacare costs

And they do this despite the positives for the economy and the business that will come from this investment.


Take time to appreciate the good things you have in your life. Thank those that helped you, and were their for you.

Then think about giving, how we can all give to those in need.

Some more thinking on Thanksgiving with John Fugelsang, hosting The Point:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Get better Conservatives. We need you.

I enjoyed this piece talking about my we Liberals need Conservatives out there.

Overall, I feel Liberals carry forward the better ideas, the better arguments, and the better philosophy. But that doesn't mean we don't require feedback. It doesn't mean we don't need a sounding board. And it doesn't mean we don't need a counter argument to test the strength of our ideas, or to fine tune our thinking. And some ideas of Conservatism are worth debating, and/or broken down to show the serious flaws.

The funny thing about being a good Liberal. We love a good argument. We want to move things. We want to make things better.

And to do that, we need you. We need you sane. We need Conservatism functioning right, so we can work out or show the serious flaws or horribly outdated philosophies. So we need the opposition.

And that is not what you are now. You are a ridiculous caricature now. Instead of a counterpoint, you are a wall. You choose to block all ideas we support. And then you respond with ridiculousness. You're side discusses the validity of rape. You're side thinks evolution is a satanic trick. You're side warns that all the scientists are lying. You're side suggest President Obama is a socialist Muslim. It's ridiculous.


There was a time when you were a serious party. Or, at least, you could put forward arguments that weren't patently ridiculous. But in a reach for power, you seem to have decided real arguments are for wusses. And you go to hyperbole, lies, or misdirection. You seem to have embraced the worse of what you are and have amplified and celebrated it.

And this is not what you have to be. You can fight for traditions, for small government, without all this...crap. And, yes, some of you aren't like this. Some think the president is an American. Some of you think evolution is fact. Some of you think rape is rape. Great. But that is not where your party is. It is not where Conservatism is. Look at the media voices. Look at their massive audiences. Look at the political leaders. They all believe or sell these bad ideas, or are beholden to those that embrace this thinking.

If you can see through it, it is up to you to lead the way.

So, one last time, see if you can shift away from this,


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Red and blue districts: It's is the numbers of voter, not the miles.

The image of the country, showing how each district went in the presidential vote, has been getting passed around.

Some look at the country and see the vast swaths of the country that are red and translate that into the country being almost entirely being red. And that is true if you decide politics and elections by miles taken up, and not by the numbers that vote. The country is very red across much of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, and Missouri. But that area is also not a very large part of the total population. It, like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Montana, are smaller populations compared to other parts of the country. And in those places, at their larger population points, they tend towards being more liberal (Like in Omaha, Nebraska. As seen on the map above.).

It's like in the state of New York. New York City is large population centers. It's massive. The result in New York state is that it holds a great deal of sway. People living in Albany might not like it. But if much of the state's population lives in that city and it's boroughs, then that is were the electorate is.

And if in California, New York, Illinois, and various large cities around the country hold a significant chunk of the nation's population, that is where the electorate is. And if these people are more liberal, that is where the electorate is.

And that's how the maths just work.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wrapping up an election - Obamacare Is A Go!

One advantage to now knowing President Obama will be continuing for another 4 years is that we know our president won't be shutting down the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

And that means along with the parts that have already started working, more is coming online as we go into next year and in the years to come.

Some of what is becoming available soon, from Think Progress:

  • States will soon be deciding whether to start up their own health care exchange, or whether to use a federal run exchange. (2014)
  • Pre-existing condition discrimination protection will be expanding from children to all Americans. (2014)
  • End to lifetime benefit caps and annual benefit caps. (2014)
  • All employers will be required to cover contraception without co-pay. (Religious organization will need to get in line by August 2013.)
  • All employers with 50 or more employees will need to offer insurance, or pay fine to access government service. (2014)

Wrapping up an election - Demographics *UPDATED*

The demographic results of the 2012 election are quite useful to understand where the population of the united states is going.

From Here:

As you can see outside whites, Obama won over every racial group. And lost men, but clearly won over women. And among age groups, Obama won clearly among people 44 years and younger.

So, Obama won over a minority of whites, men, and people over 44 years. And he clearly won the popular vote in this country.

That is how this country has changed, and will be continuing to change. Old, white, and male are no longer the key to electoral success. The changes in this country make it unwise to cater just to this part of the population, if only for the sake of the maths.

Likewise, Hispanics and Asians clearly support Democratic interests at present, despite anger from some conservatives that racial groups they deem conservative should vote and align themselves to GOP interests exclusively. Democrats need to continue to work to ensure this connection.

Josh Marshall has some thoughts on the dynamics.

The risk to Democrats is that the GOP could learn to better communicate and drive out vote in minority communities. Or, they could actually change some and be a genuinely more palpable option for these voters. Trouble for us the GOP is that they are the GOP. And they are too easily driven to become angry and enraged at blacks and Hispanics, and voice the feeling and push law to enact suffering.

And the GOP is so heavily made up of people who too dearly love the power of white people in America. They do a great job of reminding us all just what lies behind any friendly Republican facade.

And then we had Rush Limbaugh throwing his fit about how Santa Claus won. Apparently women and the various minority groups that supported Obama only did it because we are just children, who love free gifts and toys. You embrace Limbaugh's vision, or your a spoiled baby. This is a major Republicans voice, loved by the Conservative base, sought for support by Republican politicians.

This is the GOP that can't quite figure why it can't garner votes from minority groups.

The GOP is a great ally to liberals in uniting minority groups.


David Simon has an interesting look at the change in demographics to consider.
Jessica Valenti considered the power of women in voting.

Veterans Day / Remembrance Day - What's it all about?

November 11th is almost upon us. In the United States we talk about Veterans Day, come November. In the United Kingdom, and it's commonwealth, they talk about Remembrance Day.

Now on programs and at many events people often say, when talking to veterans, that "they honor their service." Which is a thoughtful and good thing to say, but it seems to have become a rote response. A formality before moving on. Say the magic words and think no more on it.

Veterans Day in the US can be the same, have the day out, go to a parade, and move on with little thought. Though hopefully for those of us with family still serving, or having finished, we think on it more.

So, while we do have many large issues to deal with, it is important to understand why we have this day set aside. To remember, and to not ignore lessons and obligations we have as a nation and as a people.

This day of remembrance comes out of the end of World War I. Then it was called Armistice Day. To celebrate the Armistice, an end of hostilities, that was agreed to in 1918. It would fall on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of that year (Someone was in love with some symbolism.).

So a peace was struck. It came in the wake of a global war. It came after the deaths of around 20 million. The war, unsurprisingly shook many. It was a maddening experience. And then there was peace.

In November of 1919, the year after Armistice, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first Armistice Day. And in 1938 Congress to passed law to make every November 11th Armistice Day, to promote world peace. And this, in 1954, was rename Veterans Day to expand those remembered to all veterans, including those that had just served in World War II.

And the tradition continued on from there. Date has shifted back and forth. Laws and proclamations were made. But from the start, this has been an act of remembering those that lost their lives fighting for their country, and those that return home.

REUTERS/Chris Roussakis
In the United Kingdom the traditions hold more to the original Armistice Day. King George V in November of 1919, like it was in the United States. England has taken on a number of continuing traditions to this day. Among those most notable is the image of the poppy. The red poppy is commonly worn, as a lead up to Remembrance Sunday, which was set as the 2nd Sunday of November (This was meant to prevent disrupting the war time services during World War II.). The poppy use is tied to the poem, by John McCrae:

In Flanders fields the poppies blowBetween the crosses, row on row,That mark our place; and in the skyThe larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below. 
We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved and were loved, and now we lieIn Flanders fields. 
Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throwThe torch; be yours to hold it high.If ye break faith with us who dieWe shall not sleep, though poppies growIn Flanders fields.

The image conjures the image of the dead across the battlefield. The image of blood. The image of the cost paid in war. A cost that must be remembered, and learned from.

So at 11AM on Remembrance Sunday, their are two minutes of silence through the country, to remember the costs of war. This is initiated by the of a field gun firing on the Horse Guard Parade, then ended by firing again. Then the Royal Marines have buglers play out "Last Post."

And at Cenotaph in London a ritual of laying flowers:
Wreaths are laid by Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Duke of Kent, the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Cambridge, the Prime Minister, leaders of major political parties and former Prime Ministers, the Foreign Secretary, the Commonwealth High Commissioners and representatives from the Royal NavyArmy and Royal Air Force, the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets and the civilian services....After the ceremony, a parade of veterans, organised by the Royal British Legion, marches past the Cenotaph, each section of which lays a wreath as it passes.
This procession means a lot to those that have served and suffered for their countries. Also for those that mourn family and friends that have passed.

These rituals can be important to supporting us to remembering what has come to past. WWI was a horrible scaring event. It was an event that should leave anyone with a loathing of going to war. But we still have seen war come, and those who to eagerly call for it. And those that returned from WWI, and other conflicts, have many times not gotten the treatment or respect they deserve from government (The GI Bill was a major change to the treatment veterans received for service.).

So I can only hope as we go into Veterans Day and Remembrance Sunday tomorrow, we think about why we do have veterans, what has been asked from them, and how we look at them (How we really look at them, not what we say for appearance.) and how we treat them (How many think about the Veterans Administration or the related services much?).

And also learn. Stats and facts to think on for Veterans Day:

  • Veterans are 50% more likely to be homeless than other Americans.
  • 75,000 veterans are homeless on any various night in the years.
  • 1% of Americans serve in the military, and 20% of all US suicides are veterans.

Get more informed:

Wrapping up an election - What the Right learned. *UPDATED*

It would be nice to say now, that the Right in this country have sagely taken some lessons away from this election. That they see where some ideological extremes they embraced were too far. That some of their attacks on rights were morally wrong. That the Tea Party, the Religious Right, and the billionaire backers asked for things no one should agree to do.

Let's pretend for a moment that happen. Steve Schimdt, a one time adviser to John McCain says the GOP needs to break from reactionary angry voices like Rush Limbaugh. Good. Frum is also unhappy with conservative media (which booted him). But they seem to be a minority.

Among the conservative voice online, we heard a very loud message. "That !@$#ing #!@&*+ has done it to us again." At the University of Mississippi students went out into the street screaming and throwing rocks in anger.

In a more established grouping, as seen in the piece on Steve Schimdt's concerns, it was also noted that the Tea Party Patriots had a message. WAR. They will not stand for "moderates" like Mitt Romney leading anymore. They are naming themselves the rightful heirs of the conservative movement. This group is eager to fight, Republicans, and they have many billionaire backers to help. Not a good start for change, except a shift further Right.

An odd addendum to the Tea Party right comes from Boehner who acted like their was no Tea Party caucus in the House. Seems like a disconnect, but will the Tea Party make life easy if Boehner were to actually break? He's already been made to walk with back a bit.

For the Family Research Council their is an eagerness to increase it's aggression against what it deems as an attack on morality. With the passage in multiple states of marriage equality, they want more aggressive civil disobedience against these rights. What then? Will they be ruining people's weddings. Will they be trying to humiliate and terrorize newlyweds? Yeah. That's a winning strategy, isn't it?

On the business front, we are hearing now that a number of CEO's are cutting jobs and trying to blame it on Obama. Pathetic. From coal magnates to the owner of Red Lobster, they took this electoral loss, and punished their employees. They took the risk of a loss of ANY profits, and decided to take it out of the hides of the workers. This is how they do business. I wouldn't care to do business with them.

Among advisers, Grover Norquist wants everyone to believe that the election was good and positive for the GOP, on many levels. Others have tried to go as far as saying that Republicans have a mandate coming out of the election. I know, it is crazy. A lot of sad opinions.

Some want to reach out to Latinos by doing a little immigration reform. Put Rubio up to talk it up, and then have him run for president. So, it's not about helping Latinos or understand their issues or concerns, just buy them off.

Some also are saying that the GOP needs to reach out to women. Karen Hughes wants to cut the tongues out of GOP representatives if they talk like Akins. That is great. Except, they aren't upset at the ideas. They are still pushing the denial of reproductive rights. They still oppose equal pay. They still think of women who use the Pill as sluts. As I heard today they think open talk on this costs votes. It's a strategic pain. They aren't growing and learning about their mistaken policy positions, as we see in Ohio.

Melina Mara/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
In Ohio the Republican party has now decided, post-election to renew an attack on the reproductive health care access of women. Wednesday, the 14th, they will be voting on restricting access to abortion. That is the reaction, "Onward, damn those women."

And in Florida, the governor still is avoiding the media and now is refusing to acknowledge the utter failure his election day was.

And in the Congress? In talking about the coming budget fight, Speaker Boehner offers as a way forward, effectively, the plan that Romney ran and lost on. They are complaining that the president must meet their expectations. How is that moving things forwards? How is that finding answers to our problems?

How is any of this showing that ANY lessons were learned?

The Conservatives are active in these days following the election. They are prepping for in four years. Hell, they are looking for the soonest local election where you are. They want to put the usual suspects from their clique on your school board. They want to put a pal in the mayor's office, or on the city council. They are grooming a like minded fellow ready to be voted onto the PUC or onto a court.

This is what Nordquist was hinting at. They can loose a presidency. They cannot take the Senate. But they are establishing bases of power lower, they are writing law to keep liberals out, or to get to the US Supreme Court to get desired rulings.

The key reason that their was little change in the House of Representatives is all the states that the GOP gained control of State Legislatures. With that power they redid the shapes of districts, limiting the places that Democrats could win House races, and bolstering the ability of Republicans to hold and keep seats across the country. Those state races that they fought for were pivotal. We can't let them keep them.

We have to be active on the ground. We need to find people to run against Republicans for all offices. We need to be seeing the decisions they are making in office NOW. We need to not decide that the elections over and now we get to disengage.

Don't disengage now. Don't let others. We all have to care what happens on the school board. We have to care what the city council is doing. We have to care what out legislature is up to. AND we need to bother to be heard with what will be happening in Congress.

Stay active and engaged.


In Texas, the treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party is calling for Texas to secede from the the nation.
...“We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity,” Morrison wrote. “But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity.” 
“Texas was once its own country, and many Texans already think in nationalist terms about their state. We need to do everything possible to encourage a long-term shift in thinking on this issue. Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government? Let each go her own way in peace, sign a free trade agreement among the states and we can avoid this gut-wrenching spectacle every four years,” he wrote. 
The contents of the letter were first reported by the Texas Observer and TFN Insider. 
Morrison also wrote that “many members of minority groups are simply racist against the party most white people happen to vote for.” He singled out Asian Americans, who he said should be Republican “as they earn more money and pay more in taxes than white Americans.”...
WOW! That is some hardcore racist BS. The party head in the county said he didn't know what the treasurer was thinking or writing. But that isn't to say he disagrees. Like with the rape talk they are upset at, how does their rhetoric or legislating differ? Maybe in coarseness. But I have seen a lot of resentment towards business Hispanics already, for not getting in place with Republicans.

But this is how the GOP is acting and reacting now. They are pissed the country didn't go the way they want. And they are pissed the demographics they deem to be theirs won't just do and vote as the party wants.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Wrapping up an election - The stars were not right, neither were the prognosticators.

It was amusing to watch the Stephanie Miller Show (on twitter as @SMShow) note Election Day that some astrologers were warning of November the 6th. It was a vague warning of a redux of 2000. Based on what the media was telling us, about horse races and nail biters, it might have been a safe bet.

Now, if you actually could see the future, or were doing good sound polling, you should have been able to tell otherwise.

But astrologers aren't serious (They AREN'T.). Neither are many of the poll takers, pundits, and analyst that wanted to push the the horse race or the indominance of the conservative position. And that we've been confidently fed.

And he wasn't alone. Among the throng:
  • Newt Gingrich - The Great Gingrino, who, if given a name, will tell you what that person does that is worse than any other in history.
  • Joe Scarborough - Mr. "Like The Rat Pack, If You Subtract The Pack."
  • Glenn Beck - The Friendly Neighborhood Thunderbucket
  • Peggy Noonan - Ms. "I Remember A Day When Old Fashion Values Were Respected, And Ladies' Drink Was Always Refreshed."
  • George Will - Made bow ties uncool.
  • Larry Kudlow - Mr, "No, I'm Not A Camp 70's Character Actor."
  • Rush Limbaugh - Lives in a bunker, rambles on incoherently, screams mad order through the radio waves to his fanatical followers...Just saying.
  • And to be fair. Jim Kramer - Jim "I May Be Mad, But Give Me Your Money" Kramer, who said Obama was going to sweep the country...He invests money for people.
  • Of course there's Karl Rove, Mr. "Slur Isn't A Dirty Word." who acted throughout the campaign like a man who had a lot of money riding on the results...for some reason.

And they were loud and sure.

And then the 6th came. And even as the night progressed...

Yeah. This guy is paid a lot to make this stuff up. In the months leading up to the election he railed about the bad people doing polling saying Obama was in a strong position. He made wild claim about secret polling he had seen that showed Romney being wildly popular in the country. He was ridiculous...and wildly well played.

And he will continue to get paid very well. As will all the others, who help feed the Right Wing beast's sense of Righteous Certainty. Election Night they were left bare, and shocked at Conservatism's HQ.

And when they were faced with a realization that they had been utterly wrong, they refused to see it as such. They yelled at the egg heads looking at the numbers, they spit at the system they had set up to call the election. It just wasn't supposed to go this way.

And FOX was left confused as to what to do. They had built up a sense of certainty. They had a script in hand, like every night. Events, reality, is expected to work a certain way, and no other. Reality begged to disagree. America begs to disagree.

No matter how certain things had been inside the FOX/Right Wing bubble, the sound polling was born out. As Nate Silver was seeing in the polls, Obama's reelection was a near certainty. Not guaranteed. But it was something that should have been expected. Conservatives rejected reality, substituted it, and found reality wouldn't go away.

Any conservative coming out of the bubble now, welcome. The light is a bit brighter. The air may smell different. But I am sure you will get used to it.

Those still in the bubble though, they still don't know what happen, but they have their suspicions.

  • Obama ran a mean nasty negative campaign against the good virtuous candidate...who is far too liberal and should never have been the candidate
  • Obama blocked the military vote.
  • Hurricane Sandy made people want to vote for Obama.
  • Obama just bribed the minorities.
  • Whites are loosing their rightful place.

So many of the Right Wing base have learned nothing. They are confused that their bad arguments, bad policy, and bad social views aren't being rallied to. They are confused that the country isn't falling in line. But, they see the real problem is the rest of the country, unwilling to do as told.

But let's look at what lessons the Right Wing have learned next.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Wrapping up an election: History Made. *UPDATE 4*

Beyond the success passed President Obama getting reelected, despite conservatives spending 4 years focused on removing him, a number of notable results occurred.

Be sure to take note, appreciate, and remember.

New to Congress:
We are now at 20 women serving in the US Senate (and in all of Congress), an impressive record, particularly after a long dip in number that we've seen. Though that is a 20% representation. Hope we can see that as a trend.

Among these new women we have:

  • Tammy Baldwin - The first openly gay women in the senate.
  • Tammy Duckworth - The first female disabled veteran in the senate.
  • Mazie Hirono - First Asian-American woman and Buddhist in the senate.
  • Tulsi Gabbard - First Hindu in Congress. Also a veteran.

And also, Elizabeth Warren is in government. I am eager to see what they all do.

Also New Hampshire's delegation is all women now. Jeanne Shaheen. Kelly Ayotte. Carol Shea-Porter. Ann McLane Kuster.

We also now have Mark Takano, who is the first openly gay person of color in Congress. Starting to almost think being gay, nonwhite isn't a big deal.

Gay Rights:
3 states passed law legalizing marriage equality, Washington, Maine, and Maryland.

Youth Vote:
The 20-Something crowd went very strongly for Obama, as expected. But also the 20-Something also outvoted the Over 65 crowd. This is a nice shift. It means the younger, generally more progressive voice is gaining weight in the electorate.

Democrats have taken a supermajority in the legislature. So, finally, revenue bills can be passed, and not just cuts to vital services.

In San Francisco the Health Commission

The voters went against 3 Strikes laws. And also voted to support unions.

The people of Colorado voted to fight for campaign finance reform, as short as it will last.

Allen West (Insane, Loudmouth, Tea Party) is gone. Alan Grayson (Intense, Opinionated, Progressive) is back.

And Florida also refused to remove a 3 state Supreme Court justices. They dared to find in favor of the ACA, among other rulings. So the Koch's and other Right Wingers pursued their ousting. Florida refused to do as the Kochs told them.

Also a law attacking the privacy of women seeking abortions was defeated.

Despite earlier success removing Iowa Supreme Court justices that supported marriage equality, one that was up for a vote this year, David Wiggins, has been retained. So while their have been earlier removals of other justices, he's staying. Perhaps Iowa has realized it doesn't need to do what the religious right says, or be feared. Wish Oklahoma could realize this.

The controversial Emergency Manager Law has been voted down.

Minnesota has a nice history of being BLUE. But for the last 22 years Democrats have not been able to control the legislature and governor's office. That changed last night. Democrats have control of the legislature and executive, and that means a lot of the BS that Republicans have been pushing.

As well, they voted down an amendment to bar any future allowance of marriage equality. And they voted down a photo ID law, which would cut into the very voter friendly rules Minnesota has.

New Hampshire:
The congressional delegation of New Hampshire is all women now, a historic first for the country. It also has elected a woman governor, Maggie Hassan.

Mary Gonzalez has been elected to the Texas House of Representatives. She is openly pansexual.

Texas GOP has lost it's supermajority in Texas. Next time? Maybe we can have a Democratic run House? Just have to keep the work up.

Hispanic Community:
Hispanics are more likely than other communities to support state's allowing marriage equality. The assumption has long been that Hispanics are just a conservative subset, accept on immigration. But that just isn't true. Like many minority communities, their is real support and acceptance of the rights of women and gays, which the Republicans shun. It is time for people to not stereotype the Hispanic community and other minorities.

And Hispanic was strong for Obama. Florida 60-39. Nevada 68-24. Virginia 65-33. Colorado 74-25. Clear support.

More the the Cuban community, long assumed to be just an anti-Castro vote, went for Romney by only 52%. 48% of Cubans Americans found Obama and the Democrats more palatable.

Winning the Demos
Unmarried women support - 67%. Black support - 93%. Asian support - 73%. Latino support - 71%. Jewish support - 69%. 18-29 year old support - 60%.



Adding Takano to list of firsts in Congress.
Adding Mary Gonzalez.
Adding change in legislature status in Texas.
Adding shift in Cuban American vote.

Wrapping up an election: We Voted

President Obama has done it. And by President Obama, I mean, Obama himself, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, the Obama campaign, the people on the ground calling and knocking on doors, those that went out and spread the word every way they could think of, and those that went to a polling place and laid in votes for Obama, good legislators, good measures (and against the bad measures and amendments). So. a whole lot of us, together, has pulled this off. The system worked.

And this was despite a lot of game playing by conservatives not eager to see the will of the people supersede theirs.

Others just wanted voters confused.

Despite it all, people got in those lines.

And voted.

And that willingness to engage in the process had made a difference.


There are issues with how we vote in America. But that is a topic for tomorrow. A topic we must all address and resolve, before the next election arrive (COMING SOON).

More, plenty more to discuss about last night.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Dark night of the pessimistic dithering.

We march on into the late night here. In the morning the serious voting and tabulating begins. So after all this time, all this money, all this foot leather, all the talking, all the lying, it comes down to...tomorrow.

And I look at the projections.

From TPM:

From 538:

It looks good. It looks optimistic. It looks really good.

But I sit here, like this.

I am always the pessimist at times like this. Things probably won't work out. It was how I was feeling 4 years ago, come tomorrow night. I kind of agreed with Rachel Maddow who was fretting over the states left undeclared as the night went on. Things could turn.

But they didn't.

BUT this year things are tighter. The odds are on Obama's side. Things are trending his way. We are seeing people getting out to early vote.

But, Republicans are so ready to play "games" (CHEAT) to win. Wiping voter rolls, challenging votes, scaring off legit voters. And the misinformation and fear that has been planted and left to fester among conservatives is driving them to be ridiculous nutters. So many of them are raring to go and run the president out of the country. I see so few of them standing up to it, or resisting it.

But they do exist. Their are Republicans that do know better, have seen what this president has done, and want to continue on, even if their party has abandoned them and reason.

But how many?


So I fret. So I wonder, what hopes and what madness will drive people tomorrow as we close out this election.

Will we see ourselves with 4 more years to push forward with the progress we've made? Or will we see all our work torn apart, to make way for a commercial endeavor of some sort?

It falls on the last voters to decide that. We need numbers tomorrow. We need numbers that can make cheating impossible, or irrelevant. We need numbers tomorrow. We need a throng who when a sea of fear rides in, this country's future is buttressed, and it can continue on, on this path Forward.

I am sitting here worrying about what we can do now. It is done.

The politicians can do no more. They are just wrapping up.

Now, it falls to the voters. 
Now, we decide.
Now, we choose out fate.
Vote, and choose wisely.

Why your vote matters TODAY - Final Edition

To consolidate the series of posts I've done the last month, Why Your Voting Matters in November, I am placing links to all of the posts here in this post.

If you haven't voted yet in the elections here in the United States yet, I hope you will be today. Every vote matters. And the numbers that get out will shape the results by tonight, and will shape where our country goes from here.

To appreciate that, some points:

  • On American Health Care: 
            Why your voting matters in November - Obama Cares Edition

  • On The Rights of Women: 
            Why your voting matters in November - Womening Up Edition

  • On Gay Rights: 
            Why your voting matters in November - Out and Equal Edition

  • On The Future of the Courts: 
            Why your voting matters in November - Scalia Edition

  • On American Education: 
            Why your voting matters in November - Head of the Class Edition

  • On Disaster Relief: 
            Why your voting matters in November - Emergency Mitt Edition

  • On The Place Of Religion: 
            Why your voting matters in November - God's Own Party Edition

  • On The Choice Of A Vice President: 
            Why your voting matters in November - Heartbeat from the Presidency Edition

Again. I hope you will get out and vote today. It is important. So much is at stake.


Remember, remember, the 5th of November: Folklore and History

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,the Gunpowder Treason and Plot, 
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent to blow up King and Parliament. 
Three score barrels were laid below to prove old England’s overthrow;By God’s mercy he was catch’d with a dark lantern and lighted match. 
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring. Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King! 
Hip hip hoorah!

This is a pretty well-known poem detailing the events of the Gunpowder Plot,  and remembered every November 5th in England, on Guy Fawkes Day. (There is a second verse to this poem, not as popular these days, that goes into killing and mutilating the Pope. Music and poetry is full of so many forgotten verses like that.) Guy Fawkes day has become a time to have an excuse for some fireworks, a bonfire, and some fun. 

But that's not how it all began.

The Gunpowder Plot was an attempt by a group of Catholics intent on unseating King James I from the English throne, so that his daughter, Elizabeth, could be put on in his place, and usher in a return to Catholic power in England.

Going back to King Henry VIII, there was a back and forth struggle on whether the state religion would be Anglican or Catholic. And after years of Anglicanism under Elizabeth I and James I, some catholic leaders were eager to revert back. 

So, on the day of the State Opening of Parliament, in 1605, when the nobles and king all came to the House of Lords to have their bit of pomp, outside their lives of pomp, barrels of gunpowder were secreted under the parliament.

36 barrels were placed. It was enough to destroy the House of Lords, at least. So have theorized how much more of the area around would have been destroyed as well, and how many more would have died that day.

George Cruikshank's illustration of Guy Fawkes
published in William Harrison Ainsworth's 1840 novel
Guy Fawkes was the member of the conspiracy tasked to oversee the barrels under the streets. And when information was passed of the threat to parliament and king, a search was made, and Fawkes was caught, sitting on the evidence. 

Fawkes was an English Catholic who had gone on to served Spain as a soldier in war. He returned to England eager to overthrow the government. His efforts led him to join this plot. And that led him to be hung, then drawn and quartered.

The focus on Fawkes seems to come from his being caught in the act, drug from beneath parliament. It must have caught the imagination. Others fled London, and died fighting. 7 others survived to be tried along with Fawkes, and suffered the same fate. 

But Fawkes became the focus, with a holiday, a poem, and a level of praise and infamy that has lasted 4 centuries.

But the audacious plot he was involved in, a massive bomb to wipe out the monarchy and government of a major nation, seems to have gotten the historic blur.
It's like people talking about raping and pillaging. It sounds all old timey. But it means women were raped, people were murdered, homes were burned down, crops destroyed, and valuables and goods stolen. Their is nothing nice, fun, or funny in the term. But it's old timey, so...What the hell!

So consider Fawkes and King James. 

Guy Fawkes was clearly a amazingly pious person. After his mother married a Catholic man, he converted to the faith. And he left the country to fight for the strongest of Catholic nations against Protestant ones. Then he embraced the idea that his homeland needed to be brought back into the True Faith by any mean. The result of this was his agreement to a plan in which the government, the king, the queen, the princes, their servants, and anyone within range would die. It was a holy duty, to kill the Protestant king, and anyone who got in his way.

That is horrific. Magnitude of the slaughter. Not hard to feel how people were stirred to rage at the very idea of this destruction. The assault on the state, to wipe it out, and install a new ruler and a new religion. Not hard to appreciate the horror at how close they were able to get to destroying one's state and leaders. This was a monstrous plan.

But what of James? King James is a piece of work. If you've heard of or read the King James Bible, you know a small bit about this man. He was a very pious and worried man. He faced repeated attempts on his life as king, not just the Gunpowder Plot. And before that, all that back and forth plotting in Scotland, lead to his mother, Mary, being exiled, and his father, Darnley, suffering a suspicious death. He was treated as a pawn, to be shaped to act as a King of Scotland. And then, he was made the English King. 

Through his study of his Protestant faith he was drawn to become increasingly concerned of the threat of the Devil, and witches. He became convinced witches were acting to murder him, and was at one trial of a woman accused of such an attempt. He also personally oversaw the torture of women believed to be witches. In this time he wrote a book on witches for people to use, Daemonologie. It explained witches and advised on the hunting of them. These ideas also made it into his version of the bible, with a change to one passage to say, "Thou shall not suffer a witch." 

As King of England, James was interested in fully joining his Scotland and England. He also wanted to bring peace to England and Spain. Though he still maintained a religious and legal hostility to Catholicism. Still, in 1604, the war between the 2 nations ended. Then the plot came in the following year.

James can be a troubling figure, in how he was drawn into fear and paranoia of witches. His engaging personally in the torture of women is disturbing. His work has gone on to be used to bring a lot of suffering. 

But in the end what Guy Fawkes was doing was not to free England, it was a Mission from God, it was for the sake of God's Will, and that of the Church.

November 5th celebrates an almost successful mass murder and regicide by a group of religious fanatics.