Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tired Of Blaming Bush? Republicans Prefer Clinton!

This excellent clip appeared on Jon Stewart's program last night and does a great job illustrating the conservative hypocrisy when it comes time to accepting responsibility.  The right continually attack their critics for blaming a lot of the current problems, like the economy or oil disaster, on the previous administration, but as Stewart points out - the right can't stop blaming former president Bill Clinton

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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I thought it was interesting how even though David Axelrod said the administration was dealing with a lot at the moment, the folks at Fox interpreted that as being Bush's fault. I thought Axelrod's comment was a poor choice of words because I recall during the presidential campaign, when McCain and Obama were asked during a debate what they will tackle first - while McCain gave an outline, Obama stated he would take it all on at the same time. How is this disaster any different?

For the most part, the president has lived up to his promise, trying to address the many problems he inherited when he came into office simultaneously. Fox's interpretation of his comments were partially correct - while they attacked Axelrod for his statements, they presumably intended to absolve Bush of his sins with theirs.  Blaming the Bush administration is still a valid response...

Midnight Review Read World Wide

I had decided to review the last couple months of visitation to see where exactly The Midnight Review's readers were coming from and to my surprise, there was a list of 86 countries!

Here are the top ten source countries that visit The Midnight Review in order from largest to smallest:
  1. United States
  2. Canada 
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Australia
  5. Germany
  6. India
  7. France 
  8. Brazil
  9. Sweden
  10. Ireland
The Midnight Review would like to thank all of those who have taken the time out of their day to read this site's articles and leave thoughtful responses.

We hope to see you in the future!

British Petroleum Employs Louisiana Police To Restrict Access To Beaches

Jason Linkins wrote this interesting piece for The Huffington Post that I thought needed to be shared:
As you are hopefully well aware, BP has been doing its level best to interfere with reporters in the Gulf Coast region to keep them from reporting on what's actually going on down there as clean-up efforts continue.

BP has been striving to keep reporters away from affected areas, put the kibosh on images of the destruction done to area wildlife, hassle local reporters and run off area activists. It has also gone as far as dispatching its own PR staff to masquerade as journalists and report the happy side of this epic disaster. Yes, National Incident Commander Thad Allen has ordered BP to stop preventing media access. Yes, media professionals are still seeking help from the administration to curb BP's clampdown.

As I've noted before, Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland has been battling the opposition like she was Melanie Laurent in "Inglourious Basterds". Last week, she reported on how Drew Wheelan of the American Birding Association was hassled, questioned, and later, tailed by police officers who seemed to be taking orders from BP. Today, following up on that story, McClelland reports that this is exactly what's happening.
Mac McClelland wrote the following for Mother Jones:
Louisiana police don't have any right to tell you you can't walk onto a public beach (even to, as Esman puts it, "roll around in sticky gunky tar that I'll never be able to get off—if I want to, that's my right"). However, they do have the right to mislead you about who they're really working for. In Louisiana, as in many places, it's legal for police officers to wear their uniforms regardless of whether they're acting in an official capacity or working for a private corporation. Which is why Andrew Wheelan, the environmentalist mentioned above, was unaware that the cop who pressured him to stop filming a BP building and later pulled him over so that a BP official could question him wasn't on duty at the time. The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office told me that the deputy who pulled Wheelan over is just one of 40 in the parish who are working for BP on their own time. And the BP-police collusion goes beyond uniformed deputies moonlighting. In nearby Lafourche Parish, for example, the sheriff's office is filling 57 security positions a week for BP; the shifts are on the clock, and BP reimburses the sheriff's office for them.
Who do you think is being bullied now - British Petroleum or the American public?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rush Limbaugh Believes Liberals Majority

I was first told about this by fellow Midnight Review blogger Craig right after Rush Limbaugh made the comments on his radio program - it wasn't until today that I found the original transcripts to post.

On Limbaugh's June 25th program, Limbaugh complained that America was being ruled by a liberal minority, but Craig pointed out something very interesting.  Limbaugh stated that the number of people who identified themselves as conservative stood at 42% while moderates grabbed 35% of the population and liberals grabbed 20%, but, Limbaugh soon after stated that "moderates are liberals without the guts to say so." I don't know about Limbaugh's math skills, but according to his own numbers,  liberals constitute 55% of the population leading conservatives by 13 points.
Well, another power grab took place this morning with this financial regulatory reform bill. Obama doesn't know what's in it, he doesn't care what's in it because all he knows is it gives him more power and more authority and the government gets bigger. Chris Dodd's out there saying, "Well, we really won't know what's in this 'til it starts taking place." Just like Pelosi, we gotta pass health care to find out what's in it, same thing with this, another 2,000 pages. Folks, we are being ruled by a minority, and it is stark, this reality. "The number of Americans identifying themselves as conservative or very conservative stands at 42 percent according to new Gallup numbers. That's compared to 35 percent who describes themselves as moderate and 20 percent who describe themselves as liberal. The results are based on eight Gallup surveys conducted over the past six months.

"According to Gallup's Lydia Saad: 'The 42% identifying as conservative represents a continuation of the slight but statistically significant edge conservatives achieved over moderates in 2009. Should that figure hold for all of 2010, it would represent the highest annual percentage identifying as conservative in Gallup's history of measuring ideology with this wording, dating to 1992.' Gallup also found that self-identified independents are slightly more likely to label themselves moderate than conservative-- 41 percent to 36 percent. Just 19 percent of independents consider themselves liberal." Now, that's fine and dandy, but moderates are liberals without the guts to say so. Moderates are a bunch of liberals who think they're smarter than everybody else, more tolerant than everybody else and less judgmental than everybody else, and more open-minded than everybody else. Still, doesn't matter, we are being ruled by a minority. Twenty percent of this country is liberal and look what they're doing!
See the stupidity that is Limbaugh?

Should conservatives return to power, they would also be a minority group, but people like Limbaugh don't want to hear that.  They would prefer their minority is in power so they can impose their beliefs on the population...

Here are the figures Limbaugh referenced on his program:

Now check out this other graph from the same poll:

It appears that moderates outnumber conservatives, and as Limbaugh pointed out, moderates are liberals.  The poll also indicates that within certain age groups, liberals outnumber conservatives, but Limbaugh doesn't care about those numbers...

The "Senior Tax": Republican Leadership Wants To Dip Into Social Security To Pay For Wars

Rachel Weiner wrote an article for The Washington Post today that showed exactly how much the Republican party cares for the aging population of America - by raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70.

The Republicans aren't considering raising the age so they can be more fiscally responsible.  Instead, they believe the age should be raised so they can fund the wars in Afghanistan.  Senate Minorty Leader John Boehner offered this suggestion in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Ensuring there's enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country's entitlement system, Boehner said. He said he'd favor increasing the Social Security retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, tying cost-of-living increases to the consumer price index rather than wage inflation and limiting payments to those who need them.

"We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we're broke," Boehner said. "If you have substantial non-Social Security income while you're retired, why are we paying you at a time when we're broke? We just need to be honest with people."
Here is a question for the Minority Leader: "If we are so broke, why do you still want to wage war over seas?"

Here is another thought - Boehner stated that the GOP "are going to do everything we can to make sure that [health care reform] never really takes effect."

Does this strategy include the GOP trying to break the bank to insure the program can't survive?  Are they trying to prolong the war to bankrupt the nation, so they can have an excuse to eliminate social programs like universal health care and Social Security?

What ever happened to that RNC's "Seniors Health Care Bill Of Rights?"  It must have been one big joke because every page that linked to it now directs you to some sort of GOP Valentine's Day e-card selection.

I did find one source that reposted the RNC's little "Bill of Rights" and thought Boehner's statements seemed to contradict the spirit of the document.  While the "Bill of Rights" focused primarily on health care, playing off the conservative talking point at the time that the Obama administration planned to gut Medicare and Medicaid to pay for health care reform, it seems that Boehner's comments aim to do what the Bill claimed to protect seniors against.
ENSURE SENIORS CAN KEEP THEIR CURRENT COVERAGE: As Democrats continue to propose steep cuts to Medicare in order to pay for their government-run health care experiment, these cuts threaten millions of seniors with being forced from their current Medicare Advantage plans. Republicans believe that seniors should not be targeted by a government-run health care bill and forced out of their current Medicare coverage.
Republicans claimed the Democrats were going to take away seniors' entitlements to pay for health care reform.  That sounds similar to what Boehner is proposing - taking away seniors' entitlements to pay for the war overseas.  Republicans believe that seniors should be targeted and forced out of their current Social Security benefits.
PROHIBIT EFFORTS TO RATION HEALTH CARE BASED ON AGE: The Democrats' government-run health care experiment would set up a "comparative effectiveness research commission" where health care treatment decisions could be limited based on a patient's age. Republicans believe that health care decisions are best left up to seniors and their doctors.
Republicans claimed the Democrats were going to set up "death panels" to ration care.  Boehner proposes Republicans ration Social Security based on age.
ENSURE SENIORS CAN KEEP THEIR CURRENT COVERAGE: As Democrats continue to propose steep cuts to Medicare in order to pay for their government-run health care experiment, these cuts threaten millions of seniors with being forced from their current Medicare Advantage plans. Republicans believe that seniors should not be targeted by a government-run health care bill and forced out of their current Medicare coverage.
In order to pay for the war in Afghanistan, Boehner believes seniors should be targeted for the funds and forced out of their current Social Security coverage.
PROHIBIT GOVERNMENT FROM GETTING BETWEEN SENIORS AND THEIR DOCTORS: The Democrats' government-run health care experiment will give patients less power to control their own medical decisions, and create government boards that would decide what treatments would or wouldn't be funded. Republicans believe in patient-centered reforms that put the priorities of seniors before government.  
Boehner is for getting between seniors and their Social Security.  Seniors have put money into the system for a specific purpose and now Republicans want to dip into those funds to pay for their wars.

John Boehner is just one big hypocrite and I hope seniors realize that the GOP tried to scare them last fall only for their support against health care reform.  Now that they lost that battle, the GOP is working on a new angle, hoping those seniors they once claimed to protect will be okay with them getting in between their benefits...

The Importance Of Education

While Keith Olbermann makes some very good points for the various things he mentions in this piece, I think the icing on the cake comes at the end where Sarah Palin told the audience at her Cal State Stanislaus speech that Reagan graduated from Eureka College in California - a non-existent college.

This gaffe demonstrates two things - why education is important and just how much crap Palin is really full of.  Palin's error wasn't one of those moments where she accidentally said the wrong thing.  If you look closer at the video, you can see her try to think.  She tried to pander to the crowd, and for the idiots who refuse to get any of their news outside of the conservative media echo chamber, they will forever believe Reagan attended Eureka College. 

Maybe she should have Googled a little bit harder when writing her speech...

Do Illegal Immigrants Hurt The Economy?

I had read a post over at Media Matters for America by Matt Gertz that discussed a poll conducted by Bill O'Reilly asking his audience what were America's most pressing matters.  Here were the results:

This got me thinking: "How would the ellimination of illegal immigration effect America?"

I found an interesting article by Adam Davidson for NPR that discussed some things about illegal immigrants and the economy.  With an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in America, conservative media would like you to think that getting rid of all illegal immigrants would solve our unemployment woes, which as of June 4th sits around 9.7% with roughly 15 million in the work force unemployed.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Davidson writes the following regarding the impact illegal immigrants have on American wages:
Well, for an individual, it depends on where you are, what kind of work you do and whether you have skills that illegal immigrants don't. But overall, illegal immigrants don't have a big impact on U.S. wage rates. The most respected recent studies show that most Americans would notice little difference in their paychecks if illegal immigrants suddenly disappeared from the United States. That's because most Americans don't directly compete with illegal immigrants for jobs.

There is one group of Americans that would benefit from a dramatic cut in illegal immigration: high-school dropouts. Most economists agree that the wages of low-skill high-school dropouts are suppressed by somewhere between 3 percent and 8 percent because of competition from immigrants, both legal and illegal. Economists speculate that for the average high-school dropout, that would mean about a $25 a week raise if there were no job competition from immigrants.

Illegal immigrants seem to have very little impact on unemployment rates. Undocumented workers certainly do take jobs that would otherwise go to legal workers. But undocumented workers also create demand that leads to new jobs. They buy food and cars and cell phones, they get haircuts and go to restaurants. On average, there is close to no net impact on the unemployment rate.
Basically, illegal immigrants don't take away as much as the right-wing wants you to believe.  They are not going to take away upper level positions - they will really only impact high-school dropouts, and considering the trend from the right to attack public education and education in general, no wonder why there is a higher concern from O'Reilly's audience.
Illegal immigration has both negative and positive impacts on different parts of the economy. As noted above, wages for low-skilled workers go down. But that means the rest of America benefits by paying lower prices for things like restaurant meals, agricultural produce and construction. Another negative impact is on government expenditures. Since undocumented workers generally don't pay income taxes but do use schools and other government services, they are seen as a drain on government spending.

There are places in the United States where illegal immigration has big effects (both positive and negative). But economists generally believe that when averaged over the whole economy, the effect is a small net positive. Harvard's George Borjas says the average American's wealth is increased by less than 1 percent because of illegal immigration.

The economic impact of illegal immigration is far smaller than other trends in the economy, such as the increasing use of automation in manufacturing or the growth in global trade. Those two factors have a much bigger impact on wages, prices and the health of the U.S. economy.
There will always be illegal immigration.  Laws like the one in Arizona do not do anything to solve the problem.  Neither does securing the border between Mexico and America.  After all, you rarely hear the right-wing making a big stink about the over 7000 miles of border we share with Canada.

I also thought about this regarding O'Reilly's poll - while the first concern from his audience is immigration, the second is the economy, but as the NPR article points out, elliminating illegal immigrants would actually be a red mark on the economy.  Do O'Reilly's viewers realize this?

Whenever I am confronted by someone who brings up the issue of illegal immigration, I always ask them this question: "Are you willing to do the work of an illegal immigrant for minimum wage or less?"

Usually, the answer is no.

Democrats Level The Playing Field With New Website

Mike Allen wrote the following for Politico:
The Democratic National Committee is seeking “Macaca” moments. The party today is opening a website,, designed to recruit and display embarrassing audio and video of Republican candidates, as well as information about their schedules and copies of their mailers.

Campaigns have long made videotapes of each other, using “trackers” who follow the opposition from event to event. It was a young tracker who shot the video footage of then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) that wound up sinking his campaign.

The DNC hopes campaigns and journalists will use the footage in ads and news coverage. The site targets both 2010 candidates and 2012 hopefuls.

“[R]egular citizens can upload video or audio they’ve captured at pubic campaign events, and they can upload event information for upcoming campaign appearances by Republican candidates so others can attend and hold Republicans accountable of they don't tell the truth.,” a DNC official said. “Unlike YouTube where you can only upload video, … users can download high quality videos from the site for clipping and using for their own projects (web videos, ads, etc).”

A DNC official said the party will screen the video “for inappropriate content, authenticity, etc. We don't want people trying to make something out of something that didn't happen by splicing the video — we want good raw footage of authentic moments on the trail.”
I think this is excellent and Democrats are finally catching on - they needed to develop a strategy to combat right-wing propaganda like what is spewed forth from the likes of Fox News and their buddies at Andrew Breitbart's websites.  I particularly thought the last paragraph of my citation was interesting because unlike conservative sites, the DNC is actually trying to find "authentic moments," not manufactured ones like what you commonly read about at Big Government.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Scott Brown's "Mass Pass"

Pat Garofalo at Think Progress wrote an article discussing Massachusetts' Senator Scott Brown whittling away at the financial reform bill during the reconciling of the House and Senate versions of the bill.
As the conference committee reconciling the House and Senate versions of financial regulatory reform went through its marathon 20 hour negotiating session on Thursday night, an exception to the Volcker rule — which prevents banks from trading for their own benefit with federally insured dollars — was added at the behest of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). The exception, which was pushed by large Massachusetts-based financial firms State Street Corp. and Mass Mutual, allows banks to invest up to three percent of their capital in risky hedge funds and private equity firms and to continue managing those funds.

These exemptions could undermine the effectiveness of the rule, as State Street is a great example of a financial firm that specialized in relatively benign financial practices, but then became systemically important by building up a huge amount of credit risk and engaging in risky trading. Ultimately, it needed to be rescued by federal intervention.
The Midnight Review dubs this Scott Brown's "Mass Pass" and thanks him for representing corporate interests nationwide...

Big Government Article On Eminent Domain...

I had actually found an article on Big Government that I can agree with!  Written by Bob Ewing, the article discusses eminent domain and events that followed the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London, which essentially allowed the government to reassign property ownership if it is the belief that the transfer promises to generate greater tax revenue, and in theory improve the area as well.

According to the article, after the Supreme Court ruling, state governments had actually created stricter rules regarding the practice, strengthening property rights and making it harder for something like this to occur again.  I am certain this article was included on Big Government to insinuate that the Democrats were behind such measures and freedom-loving teabaggers were there to prevent something like this to happen - just consider the part where Ewing mentions that a "libertarian public interest law firm" litigated the matter and the constant talking point discussing how the Tea Party was born on libertarian ideals.  Teabaggers love to run stories about the federal government positioning itself to seize public lands or giving land away - to Mexico!

I agree completely with the dissenting opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor:
Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.
She argued that the ruling eliminates "any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively delete[s] the words 'for public use' from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment."

My personal opinion is that eminent domain is a dangerous practice, and more likely then not, it will fall into the hands of the corrupt.  Ewing wrote that the redevelopment project that won against Susette Kelo's neighborhood had over $80 million in taxpayers' money funneled to them and the development is nothing more then one big empty lot inhabited by feral cats.

One has to keep in mind that this decision also came at the beginning of the housing bubble, and in my opinion, developers and governing officials got greedy with the promise of increased taxes - which undoubtedly could equal into more pet projects being funded that could help come election time.  Protecting property rights is one way to keep government in check - this is one reason why this author is opposed to unregulated homeowners associations, that use money and influence to threaten property rights to get their "fair share."

Palin Delivers Two Speeches Over The Weekend

Sarah Palin gave a couple speeches this weekend - one for the Cal State University Stanislaus Foundation and one during Freedom Fest in Norfolk, Virginia.

I thought there were a couple things interesting about the two speeches and thought I would lump them together.

First, in the Stanislaus speech, Palin attacked her critics, in particular the dumpster diving students who revealed parts of her contract and State Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is investigating into whether or not the campus foundation violated public disclosure laws.

Regarding the dumpster divers, one particular thing came to mind - the dumpster diving activities of failed Republican state assemblyman candidate Derrick Roach, who decided to dig through an ACORN dumpster one night discovering plenty of documents containing sensitive information.

According to Roach, he just happened to stumble upon ACORN employees throwing away documents and so he decided to take a closer look.  Roach's story even appeared on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government as "breaking," claiming the sensitive documents were dumped in a public dumpster.  Unfortunately, Roach's accounts were false.  The dumpster was not "public," and was actually behind a tall fence.  Those little details called facts didn't matter since the story involved ACORN, the organization conservatives liked to vilify - Palin made numerous mention of the group and Obama while on the campaign trail.  I'm sure Palin had no problem with that guy digging through another's trash.

Sarah Palin also attacked Jerry Brown over trying to figure out how much she got paid for her speech, asking if the Attorney General had anything better to do with his time, but Palin seems to be unfamiliar with the focus of Brown's investigation - whether or not the organization hosting Palin's speech violated state disclosure laws.  Everyone knows Palin hates disclosing anything to the public, hence her private email accounts when she was the half-term governor of Alaska.  Brown has everyright to investigate the funding of her speech, besides, it is not the issue of how much she got paid but if the school was required to tell taxpayers how much of their money they spent.

I also thought it was interesting that there were three times as many Palin protesters as there were supporters.  Considering the coverage of Tea Party events by Palin's employers over at Fox News, who over-inflate protest numbers to make their marches look bigger then what they really are (to try and give the impression that they are the majority), one could look at the facts here and come to the conclusion that at most, those supporting Palin's message represent roughly 23% of the population (based off of 30 supporters out of an average total of 130 people).

Now considering Palin's speech in Virginia, I thought she made an interesting comment regarding budget cuts.

Palin told the veteran-heavy crowd that the president had cut military spending and that is a big no-no. According to Palin, the military's budget should never be touched. Considering the military represents the government's largest expenditure and that America still spends more then the next top nations combined, I think it is safe to say that the American military budget is a little much.

I think Palin should leave the talking for the grownups and go back to the kids table...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Did Big Government Misrepresent Job Loss Figures For 2008 And 2009?

Veronique de Rugy posted the following graph on Big Government yesterday attempting to prove that the Obama administration is constantly expanding the government while the private sector continually shrinks.

This graph is supposed to prove that since the beginning of the recession, which according to de Rugy started close to January of 2008, the government had gained 590,000 jobs, with an additional 400,000 of those jobs created since February 2009.

Keep in mind that President Obama was inaugurated January 20th, 2009, meaning the graph on the left represents gains and losses made during the Bush administration.

I would now like to point to another Big Government article written by Gregg Opelka from June 5th in which Opelka indicates that the recent increase in jobs was inflated by the number of temporary census workers being hired by the government - the public sector.
Friday’s May jobs figure is vastly skewed because of the hundreds of thousands of temporary census employees—approximately 411,000—hired to perform the decennial enumeration of the U.S. population and gather concomitant vital information. In the coming days, economists will be assessing the distorting effect the addition of these temporary public sector workers has on the restoration or creation of employment and the overall strength or weakness of the economic recovery.
Now if my math is correct, when all those temporary government workers finish collecting their census data, the government will see a net loss of 11,000 jobs, which would indicate that since the Recovery Act, the size of government would have actually shrunk.

I would like to point out that de Rugy's graph is confusing, unethical, and quite possibly wrong.

First, de Rugy makes it unclear as to whether or not the losses since 2009 include the losses since 2008.  If it is inclusive, that would show that the administration had actually eliminated an additional 190,000 public sector jobs.

Secondly, consider the title of the graph: "Private Sector Job Losses Dwarf Government Gains."  By the name alone, you can tell that de Rugy has an agenda, which would be to prove that the Obama administration has had a negative effect on the economy, and considering that she conveniently leaves out the fact that 411,000 of those government jobs are temporary, she purposefully misrepresented data to further that agenda.

Thirdly, I question as to how de Rugy came to the number of losses since the beginning of the recession.  According to de Rugy, almost 8 million jobs were lost in the private sector alone, but according to this article written January of 2009 for CNN, total job loss for 2008 equaled 2.6 million - a fraction of what de Rugy states.

In case CNN isn't good enough (I know some refer to it as the Communist News Network, here is another article from the BBC, in which the same number of losses, 2.6 million, is mentioned.  Interestingly enough, the BBC article does reference the increase in full-time jobs that have been scaled back to part-time.

Did de Rugy include these part-time positions in her job loss numbers?

Did de Rugy include those already unemployed at the onset of the recession?

I had written about de Rugy's unethical use of statistics in the past, when she compared the compensation of public and private sector employees, writing that government workers' pay rose 8% at a rate of 1.92% to the private sector's 1.78%.  As I had pointed out back in May, when playing around with such small numbers, an unethical statistician can make mountains out of molehills, like de Rugy had done, giving the appearance that a difference of 0.14% is a greater disparity then what it really is.

Conservative Hypocrisy Regarding Campaign Finance

See if you follow this:

The Supreme Court overruled parts of the McCain-Feingold Act and the Republicans rejoiced.  The Democrats work to establish new legislation to increase disclosure of campaign financing and the Republicans cry foul.  What makes this even more interesting is that the previous decision regarding the McCain-Feingold Act involves both corporations and unions.  Can you find the hypocrisy?

Conservatives attack unions for exercising their free speech and engaging in elections, yet they get upset when unions may face stricter disclosure rules when reaching their arms into political campaigns.

What makes this even more mind boggling is that conservatives have attacked the Obama campaign for not disclosing donors who contributed under $200 yet they attack Democrats for trying to craft legislation increasing transparency in government.

I think that maybe there is something conservatives are afraid of, and it is not government intrusion.  They want greater transparency, but they want it to come voluntarily, not at the government's insistence, and I get the feeling the Republican party does not want people to know just who exactly is backing them...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Palin Defense Fund Illegal

Updated June 25th, 2010.

Rachel D'Oro wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
Thousands of donors who contributed to a $390,000 legal defense fund for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will get their money back after an investigator said Thursday the fund was illegal because it was misleadingly described on a website.

State Personnel Board investigator Timothy Petumenos said the Alaska Fund Trust inappropriately used the word "official" on its website, wrongly implying that it was endorsed by Palin in her role as governor.

But Petumenos also found that Palin – the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee – acted in good faith and relied on a team of attorneys to make sure the fund was lawful and complied with the Alaska Executive Branch Act.

Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said the trust brought in almost $390,000 before Palin stepped down as governor July 26, 2009. More than $33,000 has since been donated, but Van Flein said that money will go toward $87,680 the trust has incurred in administrative and other expenses.
Isn't this interesting? Sarah Palin keeps on racking up these ethics violations. It is interesting that not only was the defense fund illegal and that 22.4% of the the money donated will go towards administrative and other expenses, but that the article also indicated that Sarah Palin had set up another legal defense fund - Sarah Palin the millionaire celebrity entertainer is asking for donations from her less wealthy followers to pay for her ethics violations.

Geoffrey Dunn wrote that "in what is an extremely detailed finding, Petumenos ruled that even though Palin assigned the research of forming the fund to her former spokesperson Meghan Stapleton and even though Palin relied on extensive outside legal counsel, that 'the Trust itself, as ultimately conceived, violates the Ethics Act.'"

Dunn also wrote that Palin's "longtime political crony" Kirstan Cole, "whom Palin had appointed to several state boards in Alaska, including the Agriculture and Conservation Board and the Royalty Oil and Gas Advisory Board," who was appointed Trustee of the fund must be removed from the position.  I bet some of those administrative fees will be going to Cole.  It's nice to see Palin and her friends profit off their less-wealthy followers.

Petumenos also demanded that all of the donors, regardless of when they donated, must be disclosed to the public.  Essentially Palin's trust becomes a donor-paid "slush fund with zero public transparency or accountability."

Another interesting fact surrounding the matter is that Palin's fund was established to pay her mounting legal bills, but last year independent counsel for the Alaska Personnel Board Tom Daniel found that "payment of the governor's legal fees by the Alaska Fund Trust will violate the Ethics Act prohibition against a public officer accepting gifts intended to influence performance of official duties."

Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, who would have been the primary recipient of the trust's funds made a peculiar post last night on Palin's Facebook page:
"There are, of course, some remaining issues to address....There will be times when Sarah Palin will have to take one for the team in order to continue on with her message to the country and simply resolve matters without having to incur crushing personal debt. That is the cost, unfortunately, of public life today. When that happens, read the details closely--like the details in this court opinion. Every time you do you will see that Sarah Palin has always acted with honest intent. You will see that again soon."
I didn't realize that the multi-millionaire Palin will "incur a crushing personal debt" by having her slush fund deemed illegal.  Palin by now has enough money to pay off all her legal fees she claimed to have suffered during her time as Alaska's half-term governor.  Too bad most Palin followers are too stupid to realize when they are being fleeced.

Palingates has posted an excellent review of the matter including the spin Palin's camp is putting on this recent guilty verdict.

According to the statement by Kirstan Cole last year, "[Sarah Palin] has not even accepted or requested one penny from the Trust or quite frankly anything of me."

If you look at Meg Stapleton's comments posted yesterday on Palin's two-facedbook page, Stapleton wrote that complaints were filed only after a couple days and that "to this very moment, the money received was frozen and no one, not the Palins, not the Palins’ attorney, no one ever received a penny from the Trust on the Palins’ behalf."

It's not that Palin never took money from the slush fund, its that Palin didn't get an opportunity to.

Palingates also points out that while Palin claimed to have not been involved in the creation of these official slush funds, the people involved in the new fund seem to be the same people involved in the old fund.  Either they are really fond of Palin or they are on the payroll so to speak.

Palingates also indicated some more lies, like that in Stapleton's insistance that Palin faced millions of dollars in legal fees (I thought the running total was closer to $500k) and that Palin was personally responsible even though the state of Alaska was willing to pick up some of the tab.  Palingates said it rather clearly in that Palin & Co. has made too many lies to count.

What is even more interesting is seeing all the comments left by Palin's flock on her Facebook page, defending the ex-half-term-governor, stating that she did nothing illegal.  Hate to break the news to you idiots but the fact of the matter is that Sarah Palin set up an illegal slush fund.  Sure she never got a chance to use it, but that is because someone made a valid ethics complaint.

GOP To Lose Hispanics... Again

Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States, and have been increasingly thowing their support behind the Democrats for the past few years, in part to President Bush's failed immigration policies.  Now the Republican Party is continuing in that tradition of alienating a minority of the nation for the promise of short-term political gain, and that is quickly fading.

The GOP's backing of Arizona's tough new immigration law is proving to be unpopular with the nation's Hispanics.  Robert Creamer wrote for The Huffington Post pointing out facts that may show the conservative strategy is deeply flawed.
The passage of the Arizona "papers, please" anti-immigration law has forced Republican politicians around the country into a political box canyon that does not offer an easy escape. For fear of offending the emergent Tea Party - and other anti-immigrant zealots in their own base -- they are precipitating a massive realignment of Latino voters nationwide.

According to data released by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Texas Governor Rick Perry has lost his early lead over Democratic challenger Bill White and the race is now tied. The movement from a previous PPP poll in February comes entirely from Hispanic voters. PPP reports that:
"With white voters Perry led 54-36 then and leads 55-35 now. With black voters White led 81-12 then and 70 -7 now. But with Hispanics Perry has gone from leading 53-41 to trailing 55-21....there is no doubt the (Arizona) immigration bill is popular nationally. But if it causes Hispanics to change their voting behavior without a parallel shift among whites then it's going to end up playing to Democratic advantage this fall."
The punditry sometimes forgets that in politics intensity is often just as important as poll percentages. For many Hispanic voters, the Arizona immigration law is an insult. It is an attack on their very identity. And it is certainly a litmus test that tells a Hispanic voter whether or not a political candidate is on their side - the critical threshold test of voter decision making.

The same is simply not true for non-Hispanic voters. As a result, by allowing the Party to be defined by the anti-immigrant zealots - and refusing to lift a finger to pass comprehensive immigration reform in Congress - the Republicans are playing with political fire.
The more conservatives demonize illegal immigrants the greater their chance is for losing this fall.  I am sure Republicans will probably put some pressure on the brakes right before votes are cast, hoping for some American short-term memory problems to kick in, but that probably won't be the case for Hispanic voters, who will feel unjustly targeted by the GOP.  Democrats need to focus on comprehensive immigration reform and they need to highlight the conservative backing of Arizona's law in order to guarantee Hispanics vote for them now and in the future.  In addition, Democrats need to present a more unified front to help increase Hispanic support on other issues as well - Republicans already have the anti-immigration whites locked in with their crazy ideas of mysterious underground electric fences and littering the border with land mines.

Barton To Keep Energy Post Despite Public Disapproval

Todd J. Gillman for the Dallas Morning News had written that despite making an apology to British Petroleum, Arlington Rep. Joe Barton would keep his position as the top Republican in charge of energy policy. While Barton made his apology to British Petroleum on behalf of Congress public, he decided to apologize for his apology privately - probably to prevent even more publicity surrounding his original comments.

The GOP seemed satisfied with the apology, and had decided to keep Barton on.
Barton, in his first public comment since the incident last week, noted that he serves "at the pleasure" of fellow Republicans, adding: "I hope that the conference has confidence to allow me to continue to serve."

"My job is to do the best I can ... and then we'll see what happens in November," Barton said.
A poll of Texans proved to show that most disapprove of Barton's apology. More Texans also wished for Barton to step down from his post, but it seems the GOP did not care about the thoughts of those whom Barton is supposed to represent.

"House Republicans' decision to keep British Petroleum apologist Joe Barton on as the top Republican in charge of energy policy is consistent with their governing philosophy of choosing corporate special interests over middle-class families," said Ryan Rudominer, national spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

While Democrats seek to keep this story in the news, Republicans want to quickly sweep this thing under the rug, hence the private apology and the attacks against the Democrats for bringing up Barton's apology.

"I don't think it takes a political strategist to know that some on the Democrat side would like to keep this story going as long as they possibly can," said Texas Sen. John Cornyn , who heads the GOP's Senate campaign committee. "But there really isn't anything left. Congressman Barton has apologized for his apology. Everyone has uniformly said that the only people that should apologize is BP, and I really do think that's the end of it." 

Senator Cornyn seems to be mistaken - Barton never apologized to his constituents or to Americans who face losing their livelihood because of the disaster, who are the root of the $20 billion "shakedown" from British Petroleum.  To apologize to the company because they have to pony up the cash to fix their mess is like a direct attack on those affected by the disaster and Barton needs to pay the price - he needs to publicly apologize and he needs to step down from his post.

It is obvious why the GOP wants Barton to remain in his position - he has proven that he is an ally of Big Oil and will be a sure thing in voting against alternative energy and climate change legislation. 

"They're beating a dead horse," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md. "It's over and done." 

Of course the GOP would say the Democrats are "beating a dead horse" - their agenda was revealed to America and now they have to do damage control.  Just consider the comments circulating around the right-wing media - most condemn the escrow account and believe the administration is being to harsh on the foreign company.    

Fannie Mae To Block Future Mortgages Of Homeowners Who Strategically Default

There was an article at The Huffington Post by Shahien Nasiripour titled "Taxpayer-Owned Fannie Mae Attacks Struggling Homeowners" that I thought was interesting. By the title of the article, one would assume that Fannie Mae was actively trying to cause some damage to innocent homeowners but here is how the article starts off:
Taxpayer-owned mortgage giant Fannie Mae is targeting families by going after struggling homeowners who strategically default on their mortgage, the firm announced Wednesday.

A default is considered strategic when homeowners have the capacity to pay, yet choose to walk away from their mortgage. The trigger, researchers say, is negative equity: When the value of a home is less than what the lender is owed on it, borrowers are more likely to strategically default.

About 11.3 million homeowners with a mortgage, or 24 percent, owe more on their mortgage than the home is worth, according to real estate research firm CoreLogic. Another 2.3 million have less than 5 percent equity in their homes. All told, about 29 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage are either underwater or very close to it. The firm estimates that the typical underwater homeowner won't return to positive equity until late 2015 or early 2016.

And Fannie Mae, an arm of the federal government and a big part of the Obama administration's housing policy, wants to make sure that if struggling families walk away, they suffer for it.

Homeowners who strategically default or did not work "in good faith" to avert foreclosure through other means will be ineligible for new Fannie Mae-backed mortgages for seven years.
The firm said it will also pursue homeowners in court, seeking so-called "deficiency judgments" to recoup outstanding debt by seizing borrowers' other assets. Thirty-nine states do not limit the ability of lenders to recover what they're owed.
If you ask me, that sounds fair.  Home purchases are a risk like any other investment, and while these people may have purchased their homes during the height of the housing bubble and now their properties are worth less then what they owe, I think that should a homeowner strategically default, Fannie Mae has every right to deem such homeowners as ineligible for future Fannie Mae-backed mortgages.

The Hypocrisy Of The Right-Wing Fringe - They Don't Know What They Believe.

"Laws and governments may be considered in this and indeed in every case, a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods, which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence."
Any guesses who wrote the above quote? Who would write something that would advocate the establishment of laws and government to "hinder" the poor to preserve the inequalities enjoyed by the rich? Would you be surprised if I said Adam Smith penned those words?

I thought the quote was interesting - I found it in an article written by Howard Zinn from 1999.

Now that I mentioned names - progressive names - conservative's visiting this site will most likely leave, rushing to a snap judgment, but the article by Zinn titled "Big Government for Whom?" was very interesting because it came a decade earlier then the passage of the health care reform bill - before Tea Parties and the rise of crazy conservative talking heads like Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart.  Unfortunately Rush Limbaugh was around back then.

The article begun discussing a single payer health care system and the argument by some that supporting such an idea would be in turn supporting "Big Government."  Zinn decided to look into the evolution of "Big Government," pointing out things like the quote above from Adam Smith, stating that Smith, the "apostle" of the "free market" understood that "capitalism could not survive a truly free market" unless government was there to ensure it's existence - far from the opinion held by the almost anarchistic right-wing fringe that believes any regulation is bad regulation, despite having a love affair with Smith and his writings.

It is this selective love that is troublesome, and the Tea Partiers are not the only ones guilty of it, but they sure are the most hypocritical when it comes to cherry picking history to advance their agenda. You constantly here about the "founding fathers" and what they intended America to be - if you listen to the far-right, you would think Thomas Jefferson wanted America to be some sort of theocratic confederacy.  Zinn points out a little bit of hypocrisy with Jefferson as well, committing a conservative mortal sin, writing that Jefferson broke his own dictum "that government is best which governs least" when he made the Louisiana Purchase.

Zinn also pointed out some things about the Constitution, which has become more of a rallying cry for conservatives in recent times:
The American colonists, having fought and won the war for independence from England, faced the question of what kind of government to establish. In 1786, three years after the treaty of peace was signed, there was a rebellion of farmers in western Massachusetts, Ied by Captain Daniel Shays, a veteran of the war. The uprising was crushed, but it put a scare into those leaders who were to become our Founding Fathers. After Shays's Rebellion, General Henry Knox warned his former commander, George Washington, about the rebels: "They see the weakness of government; they feel at once their own poverty, compared to the opulent, and their own force, and they are determined to make use of the latter in order to remedy the former. Their creed is that the property of the U.S. has been protected from the confiscations of Britain by the joint exertions of all, and therefore should be the common property of all."

The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia for 1787 was called to deal with this problem, to set up "big government," to protect the interests of merchants, slave-holders, land speculators, establish law and order, and avert future rebellions like that of Shays.

When the debate took place in the various states over ratification of the Constitution, the Federalist Papers appeared in the New York press to support ratification. Federalist Paper 10, written by James Madison, made clear why a strong central government was needed: to curb the potential demand of a "majority faction" for "an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked object."

And so the Constitution set up big government, big enough to protect slave-holders against slave rebellion, to catch runaway slaves if they went from one state to another, to pay off bondholders, to pass tariffs on behalf of manufacturers, to tax poor farmers to pay for armies that would then attack the farmers if they resisted payment, as was done in the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania in 1794. Much of this was embodied in the legislation of the first Congress, responding to the request of the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
This of course differs with the view of the far-right, which loves to discuss history in their terms, citing Federalist Papers and the Constitution as reason to oppose anything the Democrats have been doing without comprehending what the Constitution is - they do not place history into any context and attack anyone who does claiming they are just rewriting history to favor progressives.

Anyone can see that when visiting a conservative website or watching programs like Glenn Beck, there is plenty of mention of the founding fathers, the Constitution, and historical events, but they conveniently leave out important facts - just consider Glenn Beck who insinuated America's entry into World War I was a progressive plot to grow government while forgetting to mention the Zimemrman Telegram - a letter from Germany promising Mexico U.S. territory if they entered the war.

I have noticed that conservatives like to cite some documents but not others, like claiming there is no "separation of church and state," going one step further then the traditional accomodationists, stating that America is a "Christian nation."  This conclusion is reached by a combination of interpretations of what is in the Constitution and what the founding fathers said at the time.  Those who believe America is a Christian state love to leave out documents written by the founding fathers that would indicate otherwise, such as an 1803 letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist minister or the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by President John Adams, a founding father, stating that the nation is not founded on the Christian Religion.

There are also the countless quotations from various Federalist Papers which to me seem like a contradiction to those in favor of "limited government" - the Federalist Papers were a response to the weak Confederacy established after the Revolutionary War and supported a stronger central government, although the arguing point there is just how strong of a central government did they intend, and so instead of taking a strict interpretation of the Constitution, they go out seeking supporting information from any source they can get their hands on.  This leads to the attack against the concept of the Living Constitution, of course one mention of slavery sort of punches a big giant hole in the argument against, after all, if the Constitution were to remain unchanged, we would have to eliminate every additional amendment - but how were we able to add amendments in the first place?  The only amendments that are bad are the ones that don't fit into the political agenda of the right, such as the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of Senators - conservatives would rather go back to the corrupt appointments by the States.

The Constitution is by no means perfect, and the founding fathers admitted to that fact in the Preamble to the Constitution, stating that the it was created "in Order to form a more perfect Union." Wouldn't the Preamble fall into the definition of "progressive" - favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, esp. in political matters? One could come to the conclusion that America was founded on a progressive constitution.

The right-wing fringe is constantly trying to make a push for a weaker federal government and at the same time, they cite as inspirations famous Americans like Abraham Lincoln, but as I had written in the past, Lincoln was no model Republican by today's teabag standards.

Just consider Glenn Beck's constant mention of Abraham Lincoln on his program.  For months, Beck has been promoting his Tea Party event at the Lincoln Memorial.
The tea parties have the backdrop of the capitol. The capitol could go into a giant sinkhole as far as I'm concerned. Doesn't matter to me. You are not going to be able to go in there and fix that, unless you start at the other end of the mall and you start by looking and reflecting at Abraham Lincoln. And then you look and reflect. That's what the reflecting pool means. Reflect. You look one way and you are looking at Abraham Lincoln and you can reflect on him. You look the other way and you see the Washington Monument and everything that Washington stood for and you reflect on him. Once you do that and then make your choice, two can play that game. Or I'm going to be like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. When you do that, you'll fix the country. I'm convinced of it.
Jack Hunter from Taki's Magazine summed up exactly what Lincoln did to fix the nation:
In declaring secession illegal, and the U.S. a consolidated state, Abraham Lincoln enacted the first income tax, the first draft, supported internal improvements and nationalizing banks. Such centralizing, socialistic and militaristic restructuring of America was certainly more comparable to the fascism that defined Hitler’s Germany than the agrarian-based economies and loose-knit state militias that defined the Confederate States of America.
Doesn't Glenn Beck constantly compare President Obama and the administration to fascism and socialism? 

On Beck's program last year, he put on his tin foil hat and started discussing the conspiracy of how American progressives have been marching America towards fascism for almost 100 years, pointing to the back of an old American "Mercury" dime, which happened to depict a fasces.  David Neiwert for Crooks and Liars pointed out that the fasces on the dime came before the birth of the fascist political movement, and that they can be found throughout American history on various things, including the Lincoln Memorial where Glenn Beck plans to rally his fans.  I could easily use Beck's logic to point out that he is secretly trying to push his own brand of fascism, and I may be right.

This right-wing revisionism and historical selectivity is dangerous and Americans need to be aware of just how wrong Glenn Beck and his right-wing contemporaries really are.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Washington Times' Propaganda At It's Finest

Media Matters printed an article by Adam Shah pointing out that The Washington Times printed an article by Frank J. Gaffney Jr. regarding Elana Kagan, claiming she supported Islam at Harvard but not the military.  The article was accompanied by a doctored photo of Kagan in a turban with no mention that the photo is a fake.  Shah indicates that the doctored photograph came from a 2003 file photo provided by Harvard University.

Big Government Freaks Want To Bar Certain Places From Acting As Polling Places... But Churches Are Okay.

A couple of days ago I posted a comment on Big Government to an article by Ryan P. Dixon that questioned whether or not "politically active" organizations should be used as polling places.  Dixon primarily focused on union halls.

I had simply asked if churches should be held to the same standards Dixon wants for union halls and that is when the hypocrisy floodgates opened.  Dixon quickly started to redefine what he meant, exempting churches because "churches don't contribute money to candidates."

I quickly pointed to the backing by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of California's Proposition 8 two years ago, in which the vote limited marriage to being defined as a union between a man and a woman.

My comments quickly uncovered the agenda of the religious right.  I was told that churches are in the business of morals and it was their duty to get involved, and campaigning for issues is different then campaigning for candidates even though Dixon originally asked if "politically active" places should be used as polling places.

One commenter in particular had tried to catch me in some sort of "gotcha" moment by asking me why I kept ignoring the black churches that opposed Prop 8 in addition to the LDS.  They also tried other "gotcha" questions, referencing McCain-Feingold, the Constitution, and even the political activity of teachers unions.

Lets take a look at Roger's comments.

First he references the recent overturning of parts of the McCain-Feingold Act but he conveniently leaves out the facts that the part prohibiting the direct contribution to candidates from corporations or unions is still in place, placing unions in the same boat as churches.

Secondly, Roger believes my comments regarding churches being polling places amounts to censorship and is a violation of the 1st Amendment, in which Roger incompletely cites that "congress shall make NO law..." doing what?  Roger is obviously referring to the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Using Roger's logic that barring churches from acting as polling places is infringing on their free exercise of their faith, then one would also have to accept both clauses - that allowing them to act as a polling place equates to the government "respecting an establishment of religion," which of course violates the constitution.

Thirdly, Roger again referenced the black churches, citing a Fox News article by Greg Gutfeld, in which Gutfeld reasoning behind why people did not protest lack churches was because protesting blacks would be "scary."  Why statistically, black churches may have supported the Proposition 8, there is no actual church hierarchy like the Mormons.  There is no black pope unifying every black church against the amendment.  Essentially, each black church can differ from the next.  Roger's reference of the Gutfeld article shows a desire to use racial tensions as a bargaining chip.  Why would Roger continue to insist that I reference the black churches despite the fact that I was only proving a point that churches are "politically active" organizations?  Was it to try to paint my comments as racist?

Fourthly, Roger references "politically active" teachers unions as an attempt to discredit the usage of public schools as polling places.  First, Roger is assuming that I want to bar churches but not schools.  He is wrong.  I have no problem allowing churches, union halls, public libraries, country clubs, schools, etc. acting as a polling place.  What is Roger afraid of?  A bunch of teachers with rulers threatening his life unless he votes for their candidate?

I love how Roger makes the obligatory right-wing socialism comment too. 

I responded to Roger's comment, but all I got back was another ignorant little "gotcha" comment in return:

I never attempted to advocate the limitation of free speech.  If you read the entire thread, not once had I tried to derail the subject, continuing with the author's assertion that "politically active" organizations should not be polling places.  I had tried to keep the debate very focused because people like Roger could not debate the facts.  I point to one truth and he quickly moves on, trying to create another point that he could win at.  It is ridiculous and indicative of the right-wing philosophy. I love the countless attacks on sites like Media Matters for America as being a form of liberal propaganda, but the right-wing's definition of propaganda must mean facts supported by even more facts...

The Rise Of The Religious Right And The Sick Relationship With The Tea Party

I suggest everyone read this article by Liam Fox over at News Junkie Post. It discusses The Constitution Party, the religious right, and the attack on the foundations of America by the new breed of conservatives heading the Tea Party movement like Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin, to name a few.
The new crop of candidates are often entertaining. Much like Sarah Palin, they garner more than their fair share of media simply because they are so ridiculous that they make for good press. However understandable this may be, and we all indulge in a good laugh at the expense of the foot-in-mouth crowd, allowing these people to influence domestic, social, economic, national and foreign policy is unconscionable.

America cannot afford any more politicians like George W. Bush. He may not even pass the current conservative litmus, or religious fidelity tests, of this New Religious Right and their current candidates. Vote. There is certainly no need for the likes of Angle, Palin, Paul or any of the other New Religious Right and the Constitutional Party as America deals with some of its most challenging issues of its short history. To invite the erosion of the constitution, while simultaneously allowing democracy to be usurped by the authoritative dictates of religion, will only compound and exacerbate the problems at hand and deny any future remedy.

Know your candidates. Know their platform. Know who butters their bread; and vote. These candidates represent a direct attack on the Constitution, the freedoms of American citizens, and the American way of life. Get informed, get involved, and vote.
Fox couldn't be any more correct and his assessment of the situation is brilliant.

John Smithson Disses Mathematics As Nothing More Then Blind Faith

I have come across one of the most ridiculous comments regarding science today and the comment comes from none other then conservative activist John Smithson.  Smithson tries to take science down a peg or two by claiming that science, with its foundations in mathematics, is based on faith.  

Postulates, Smithson argues, are nothing but truths without evidence, and because postulates simply exist without the need to be proven, one must have faith in their validity in order for everything based on them to function.  Smithson makes this argument by trying to say that God is a truth that requires no evidence of existence, much like a postulate, but Smithson is mistaken.  

The basic answer to your question is that we have to start somewhere.

The essence of mathematics (in the sense the Greeks introduced to the world) is to take a small set of fundamental "facts," called postulates or axioms, and build up from them a full understanding of the objects you are dealing with (whether numbers, shapes, or something else entirely) using only logical reasoning such that if anyone accepts the postulates, then they must agree with you on the rest.
Postulates require logical reasoning - religion does not.

Jon Stewart Hits The Nail On The Head - Conservatives Backtrack British Petroleum Escrow Comments

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Day 62 - The Strife Aquatic
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

All I can say is what a bunch of idiots! Haley Barbour continually makes no sense and Michele Bachmann reveals how duplicitous she could be. Stewart points out the hypocrisy beautifully...

Interesting Video Displaying Message To British Petroleum

This is an interesting video that I came across when I stumbled upon the GLH Playground.  I particularly like around 40 seconds in...

Judge Who Lifted Oil Moratorium Held Stock In Oil Companies

Kate Sheppard from Mother Jones wrote an excellent piece today regarding the judge who had struck down the administration's moritorium on offshore drilling, 
A federal judge in New Orleans on Tuesday sided with the oil industry, striking down the temporary moratorium on new offshore exploration and deepwater drilling the Obama administration imposed last month. That judge, it turns out, has in recent years had interests in Transocean—the world's largest offshore drilling company and the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig—as well as other energy companies engaged in offshore oil extraction.

According to the most recently available financial disclosure form for US District Court Judge Martin Feldman, he had holdings of up to $15,000 in Transocean in 2008. He has also recently owned stock in offshore drilling or oilfield service providers Halliburton, Prospect Energy, Hercules Offshore, Parker Drilling Co., and ATP Oil & Gas.
Can we say "conflict of interest?"
Feldman's most recent financial disclosures are not yet available online, so it remains unclear whether he still has holdings in Transocean and a host of other firms with a stake in the verdict he rendered on Tuesday. If he does, that raises the question of whether he should have barred from hearing the case because of his financial interests. But in Louisiana it's hard to find a judge without ties to the industry. In the Gulf region, 37 of 64 federal judges have some ties to the oil sector.
A Reagan-appointed judge with ties to the industry rules in favor of Big Oil - a decision the GOP wanted to hear.  Sounds like a corrupt bargain if you ask me.  What was his reasoning for the decision?
"If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?" he asked. "Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing."

He also warned that the shutdown would have an "immeasurable effect" on the industry, the local economy and the U.S. energy supply.
Sounds like he is playing the "its not fair" card taken right out of the conservative handbook...

Orlando Real Estate Agents Either Misinformed Or Lying

I was looking at properties for sale located in the several Sand Lake Hills subdivisions when I noticed something peculiar - the real estate agents list HOA fees for neighborhoods that don't have an HOA.

I have written in the past about the unethical behavior of some agents like Paul McGarigal and the insistence by a not-for-profit corporation Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association, Inc. (SLHHOA) in the past, but I thought this information was interesting because there is no where in writing that states a home in any of the Sand Lake Hills neighborhoods owe a HOA any money except for the Amended and Restated Covenants that the SLHHOA recorded with the county, but those documents are meaningless considering they violated the terms of the original covenants and restrictions, not to mention the insistence that the SLHHOA is a voluntary organization yet they are continuing to try to extort money from unknowing homeowners.  Their lies are allowed to perpetuate because of people like Joe Royall from Solaire Realty.

I don't know if Royall understands the issues involving the SLHHOA and their fees, but I suggest he quickly become acquainted with what is going on in the neighborhood where he is selling homes because what he is doing amounts to false advertising to say the least.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Joe Biden On Joe Barton's Apology To British Petroleum

The Vice President could not have said it any better.  I wish comments like this from the administration were more prevalent in the so-called "liberal" media.