Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From the IBT: "NSA Reform Could Split GOP Hawks, Libertarians"




Common Cause:
A joint interest, as in “The common cause against the enemies of piety” (from John Dryden's poem, Religio laici, or a Layman's Faith, 1682). This term originated as to make common cause (with), meaning “to unite one's interest with another's.”
[common cause. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms 
by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company. 
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/common cause 
(accessed: November 25, 2014).]

The people of the US are so balkanized, is it even possible to get those factions, separated by their own blind adherence to their isolating ideologies, to work together in common cause?

**********


Efforts to curb the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone metadata were dealt a blow with the defeat of the USA Freedom Act on Nov. 18. With a 58-42 vote, the bill failed to attract the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate filibuster. With Republicans taking control of Congress in January, privacy advocates…

Monday, November 24, 2014

Racism lives here. After over 250 years, yes, Racism does live here!

St. Louis Symphony - Protest for Michel Brown

Tonight, as the Grand Jury, charged with reviewing the Darren Wilson shooting of Michael Brown,  announces their decision...

The media hype and the government incitement to violence leads to this moment and this moment was always going to be a major let down for the people.

Governor Nixon has hammered the "State of Emergency" propaganda for over a week now; Ferguson's nearly all white police force, loaded with over $100,000 in new tear gas balls and munitions, are chomping at the bit; State and federal anything-but-"peace" officers are ready to descend.

Nothing like setting up self-fulfilling prophecies.

The people - they are angry, scared and in mourning.  After 50 years, Civil Rights in America; Human rights in America are little more than a few words sprinkled throughout speeches by politicians pandering for election.  We heard it from Obama (habeas corpus rights, human rights, civil rights) in 2008 and we are shown even he doesn't give a crap about them.  We hear it from senatorial candidates, US Representative candidates, gubernatorial candidates all the way down to city council men and women - all great soundbites until those polls are counted and nary a word after the election...The blood and the hate, the stupidity and the blatant disregard for humanity is institutionalized in this nation.

Michael Brown Jr. (Screenshot from CBS/AP News Report)

Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, MO,  but this is not just about Michael Brown.  That young man from a suburban community outside of St. Louis, MO, is now a symbol for something much bigger than even he could have ever fathomed.  He is a symbol for all the hundreds of young men and women abused and assaulted; slaughtered in their streets by police forces gone rogue - and those forces are the face of the government that never, ever gave a crap about young men and women that might not be quite white.

Racism does live in America and it is thriving - It thrives through the 350,000 KKK (their figures though intelligent sources say it is 3,000 to 8,000) still actively racist and actively acting on that hate filled willful ignorance daily after 140 years; America's oldest, organized, white boys hate mob is still accepted, denied, ignored and allowed - along with  their brother and sister gangs of Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, Aryan Brotherhood and the rest of the fearfully stupid actively acting out against everyone not them.  But they are not the problem -  they are just the throbbing, oozing pustules on the diseased body of exceptionalism known as the United States of America.  

The US Supreme Court claims there is no more racism in America as people continue to be balkanized by race, color, creed, religion, gender, lifestyle and every other "category" anyone can name. 


Racism is bred through fear and ignorance - something our government, at all levels, has become very adept at manipulating.   They want us all balkanized and fighting since it keeps us, as a body, ineffectual .


We throw people in prisons, torture them, deny them their humanity and claim it is for "national security" and "freedom"; we allow our police to bully and beat protesters; gun people down in their homes and in the streets; harass and abuse the people and they get a pass.  The US government has armed small towns and major cities with all their excess military equipment and turned them into war zones - occupied.

Ferguson is a microcosm of the United States diseased body and the people are finally saying enough once again.  The people are in the streets; the lines are drawn; the dye is cast...

Whatever happens tonight and in the following days is on the head of the corrupt and bullying  government that has baited the people and the people have risen.

People of Ferguson, activists of America - It is now time to tear down that wall of racism and hate that is institutionalized in the US government balkanizing us all.

Time to join together and stop being balkanized.

Tear down that wall! 

Carry on.

Friday, November 14, 2014

From Newsweek: Leahy's NSA Surveillance Reform Bill Pushed Forward for Vote in Senate

From Debating Europe
Introduced by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last July, S.2685, aka, "USA FREEDOM Act of 2014," was introduced last July. For more information as well as the text of the Senate Bill, go to "THOMAS" or Congress.gov

********



Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has ended speculation over whether the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance reform bill, first introduced in the Senate in July by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, will receive a vote this year. In a surprise move on Wednesday, Reid filed a procedural motion to put the USA Freedom Act on the…

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From IBT: UN Anti-Torture Panel Seeks Answers From US Officials










The U.N. Committee Against Torture interrogated American officials on Wednesday about lapses in complying with an international anti-torture treaty. The panel, which is conducting a two-day hearing in Geneva, focused on the country's interrogation techniques and torture of detainees, suspected to be involved in terrorism, since the 9/11 attacks. Italy’s Alessio Bruni, one of the panel’s…

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Snowden's Leaks and the Documents that Tell the History of Electronic Surveillance Now Accessible Online for Researchers




From PR Newswire:




ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2013, when Edward Snowden leaked classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents, he brought the world's attention to the issues of privacy, security and global surveillance, begging questions with few simple answers. Now, researchers can go deeper into this controversial topic by exploring its history and impact through…

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In honor of Tomas Young - War Veteran; AntiWar Hero


Last Memorial Day, I wrote the following post about Tomas Young,. More specifically, his last letter to George W. Bush and Richard Cheney concerning their war on Iraq.

Tomas Young, war veteran, served in Iraq and was one of those who had the "audacity" to return instead of becoming one of the "acceptable loss" for which the Bush Administration planned (as evidenced by the totally inadequate systems of care for injured veterans left without proper funding, maintenance or concern.)

He became a voice for the antiwar movement - a hero - in spite of his injuries, he spoke out and inspired us for peace.

Tomas Young died yesterday - those of us standing for No More War, feel a great loss.  

Tomas Young has now found peace.

The following is my article from Memorial Day, 2014:

 "The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran." - Tomas Young, Veteran of the US War on Iraq 



John Hood, honorary commander for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, has a moment of silence for those buried at at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown NJ before the annual State of New Jersey Memorial Day commemoration ceremony. ( RON TARVER / Staff Photographer ) May 24 2014


In 2004, Tomas Young,  a veteran from Kansas City, Mo, was deployed to Iraq, specifically Sadr City in Baghdad.  After 5 days in country, he was paralyzed from injuries suffered during an attack.  Tomas spent 3 months under medical care then released to return home.  He was never to walk again.

In May, 2013, Tomas decided to stop his medication and nourishment - nourishment received from a feeding tube.  Tomas Young had made the decision to die.

In one of his final acts, Tomas decided to pen a letter to George W Bush and Dick Cheney.

In an interview for Democracy Now, he read the letter.........

From Democracy Now, one year ago:





From the transcript:

“I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of [those who bear those wounds. I am one of those.] I am one of the gravely injured. I [am] paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

“I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost parents, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have [done, witnessed, endured] in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

“Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, [and your privilege and power] cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

“I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

“I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the [9/11] attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the [U.S.] I did not join the Army to 'liberate' Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called 'democracy' in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the [Army] to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the biggest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

“I have, like many other [wounded and many other] disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical [disabilities and] wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your [own] brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

“I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend our country I love—the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

"My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness."


It's Memorial Day - not really meant to be the day it has become...a day of barbecues and binge beer drinking, family outings and play.

It is a day of reflection and remembering of those who died in far away places, or returned injured - body, mind and soul; those trying so hard to live daily with injuries and the scars of PTSD, or dying daily after giving up.  It is a day to take stock of what we, as a nation...hell, as a planet - have become. Wars for any reason we can make up:

"They hate us for our freedom," "They want to destroy us," "Islamofacists," "terrorists," "Axis of Evil," "Fascists", "Communists"...all terms for "other"  or everyone not me...

All excuses for sending young men and women to die as they kill other young men and women and families and anything or anyone getting in the way.

Memorial Day should be the day we say "never again" and make sure it doesn't happen ever again...All we have to do is STOP!

******

Today is Veterans' Day, 2014.  In honor of Tomas Young and everyone ever sent into foreign lands to fight ridiculous wars at the behest of wealthy old men, we must demand "Never Again!"

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Red Poppy in memory of those lost in past wars. White Poppy in memory of those lost, we stand for Peace


Graphic by Gloria Joe for the Manitoban, 2013


White Poppies for Peace - in the UK,  a nation that lost more than the US ever did in the Great War of WW I/II...

After World War part I, the Red Poppy became the symbol for Remembrance Day (Red Poppy Day) - a day of solemn remembrance of those who had served; those who were lost or injured in wars past.

In 1933, the White Poppies began to be worn.

WHITE POPPIES ARE FOR PEACE

The idea of decoupling Armistice Day, the red poppy and later Remembrance Day from their military culture dates back to 1926, just a few years after the British Legion was persuaded to try using the red poppy as a fundraising tool in Britain.

A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint 'No More War' in the centre of the red poppies instead of ‘Haig Fund’ and failing this pacifists should make their own flowers.

The details of any discussion with the British Legion are unknown but as the centre of the red poppy displayed the ‘Haig Fund’ imprint until 1994 it was clearly not successful. A few years later the idea was again discussed by the Co-operative Women's Guild. In 1933 the first white poppies appeared on Armistice Day (called Remembrance Day after World War Two). The white poppy was not intended as an insult to those who died in the First World War - a war in which many of the white poppy supporters lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers - but a challenge to the continuing drive to war. The following year the newly founded Peace Pledge Union began widespread distribution of the poppies and their annual promotion.


The UK and those nations once part of the UK still hold Remembrance Day (the Sunday prior to Armistice Day) and for many days leading to and even after Armistice Day, November 11.

In the US,  I remember wearing Red Poppies as a child - we got them at school, in church (well, when my parents had control of such things as my attendance at their chosen church), and my mother always....ALWAYS had a red poppy in remembrance of her brother - her best childhood friend - lost in a bombing raid over Germany.  I was a post War Baby Boomer with uncles who served the Army, Navy and Air Force in the 2nd part of that horror called the World Wars; a father who helped design war planes flying over Germany, France, China, Japan and anywhere else they could bomb or strafe; and a grandfather who served in WWI.   A Baby Boomer - that somewhat "fallen from grace" group of aged Hippies. Yippies, Peace-niks and anarchists on the Left and bank presidents, 1%'ers and Wall Street shills on the Right with most falling into the aged working class (with screwy politics and even screwier values...or lack thereof).  We, as a group, were  raised under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation brought to us by our own government  [queue the theme music from "Manhattan"]





In the US, we call Armistice Day, Veteran's Day now - a holiday "celebrated" with a few parades, a few TV specials with flags waving and a line or two about Veterans; a few groups get together to offer breakfast, lunch or dinner to, donate clothing and goods for, shake a few hands of those who are veterans - we have some acknowledgement of those who lost their lives in past wars (a moment of silence led by a current president on the 11th hour of the 11th day...)  but all of it is interspersed with that holiday fare of beer, parties, shopping -can't forget all those Veteran's Day sales...




'Cuz you know, all those Vets gave their lives so we can buy shit.

The people in the US have made a few grand gestures for peace but few ever lasting more than a generation or two.  We even stopped a war but it took years of protest and screaming, sit-ins, marches, and Guerrilla theater, then 250,000 of us descended on Washington October 15, 1969, then, a month later, 500,000 to 1,000,000 of us descended on Washington joined by politicians from Congress, calling for a Moratorium, with even more actions for peace in smaller protests echoing around the nation (not bad for a nation of 202,676,946 in 1969 - and no corporate sponsors, FOX funds or Beckian Goldline scams) and even more echos in the UK , Australia and Canada.

500,000 to 1,000,000 descend on Washington in peaceful protest November 15, 1969

Some of us held hope for actual Peace in our lifetime.

Sadly, "Peace in our lifetime" was never going to happen - soon, those protests were forgotten, those marches disappeared and the Peace Movement got lost in the growing fear as mongered by the new boys club in town - the Neo-Cons both lite and dark - Reagan, Clinton, and Bush 1.

In the UK, they were forgotten with the neo-liberals - Thatcher, Major and Blair.

By Bush 2, the US was hell bent on revenge - revenge for fear, revenge for anger and revenge for 9/11.  80% of the nation decided we must go to war on Iraq - 20% of us wanted no part of slaughtering innocents and young men and women in uniform by American young men and women sent off to die for more money in the wallets of Wall Street and the MIC.

In the UK, Tony Blair worked with Bush to bring Europe into that same war - fear, anger and growing resentment were manipulated to promote nationalism and the newly coined "Islamophobia" across the 1st World..

Today, we stand after 11 years of on again, on again and more on again War.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and nearly every other nation state through the Middle East is in turmoil - and our "friends" have been caught funding Al Qaeda and the more newly formed ISIS while claiming fealty to the West.

The US has just declared another front on the "War on a Noun."

How dumb was I?  How naive to believe we could actually see peace in my lifetime?


Bringing us back to Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veteran's Day, 2014 - the Red Poppies are pulled out once again.

This year we will include remembrance for the dead and soon to die in the latest fronts in foreign lands and wherever old men send young men and women to slaughter innocents and other young men and women in uniform.

In the UK, those believers in Peace will don White Poppies to honor those who have been lost and injured in wars and to stand for their pledge for peace.

In the US we may or may not wear poppies and there will still be those few parades, those breakfasts, lunches and dinners and those goods distributed to a few veterans in need;  there will be the obligatory moment of silence interrupting soap operas and game shows on the 11th hour; and there will still be those Veterans' Day Sales offered at malls and department stores, gun shops and shooting ranges; there will be the beer flowing, parties and raucous holiday activity....

This year, and every year after,  I ask that we, in the US working for peace on the planet, join with are brothers and sisters of the UK in wearing White Poppies for Peace....If you can't find one, make one and wear it all week.

As to seeing peace in my lifetime: 

It isn't "dumb" or "naive" to hold a belief in worldwide peace. We are but a mere blip in the history of mankind; no more than a nanosecond footprint to be washed away by the ocean waves of change and, like that ocean wave, we recede before we come crashing forward. Revolution is eternal - never-ending. What we do now can reverberate through the history of man and grow exponentially...One must BE the change to create the change and understand we may never actually witness that change fully realized as the gnat we are, but only as the star dust we will forever be.





Friday, November 7, 2014

Protest against censorship: JeffCo CO students disrupt School Board Meeting by reading from History texts



Last night, the students of Jefferson County, CO, schools (JeffCo Students for Change)took to protest once again. A group of them showed up at the local Board of Education meeting, committing the "subversive act" of, openly, reading History textbooks out loud. When one was ordered to be escorted from the meeting by security, another would stand in his/her place and continue the action.

From Chalkbeat:


(Please note the student's use of Occupy hand signals...Good job!)

Jefferson County Schools is the 2nd largest school district in Colorado.  Based in Golden, CO, (and part of the Denver Metro area) the school board has gained international attention for recent protests by both students and teachers to the new school board's decisions.

At issue last evening, the Board of Education's curriculum review panel that will be charged with the review of all materials used in the Advanced Placement U.S. History courses required for college bound students. The panel's sole purpose is   "... to promote patriotic material, respect for authority, and the free-market system. In turn, the panel would avoid material about "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

In other words, the panel, through its discretion, could ban material that is integral to the understanding of history making those courses of little use for students;  leaving them grossly unprepared for higher learning.



Jefferson County students upset about a possible plan to review their curriculum, including Advanced Placement U.S. history, are again using civil disobedience to make their point.

Security guards escorted about a dozen students out of the school board’s Thursday night meeting in suburban Denver after a number of maneuvers, including standing up and reading from their history textbooks aloud during the proceedings.

Some students who went to the podium to speak in place of other students whose names were called during public comment period were removed, as was a woman who yelled from the audience in support. Another student was able to read a passage about Malcolm X, but after his allotted time at the podium was up, the microphone was turned off and he was removed.

After someone blew a whistle, about a dozen students stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. They then gathered in the hallway outside the meeting and chanted “We are the future, let us know our past” before squeezing into an elevator and leaving.

Tim Palese, a senior at Green Mountain High School who read the Malcolm X passage, said students wanted to show the importance of civil disobedience in the nation’s history.

“We wanted to prove that they don’t listen,” he said of the school board.

Among their demands, the students want the repeal of a curriculum review committee approved by the board last month that could study AP U.S. history. The board expanded public involvement on the committee in the face of criticism over a proposal from board member Julie Williams to encourage patriotism and downplay civil disorder in the teaching of U.S. history.


From the "Jeffco School Board Watch" website:


You may already have heard that students from JeffCo Students For Change protested the Board’s censorship and indoctrination efforts by following the American tradition of Civil Disobedience.

The students had all signed up to speak, but wanted to do it in a way that would highlight their demands (see the photo).

Witt did not like their efforts and eventually had security escort the students out of the locked building doors.

It takes real strength and moral compass to stand up to oppression whether it is by government or a school board who wants to censor truth in order to promote their own political agenda.

As for JeffCo Students for Change...

"Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger."
~ Psalms 8:2



Thursday, November 6, 2014

US Elections in the 21st Century: How to rig an election "legally"



Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know that corporate money poured into elections has taken over the face of the American "body politic," but it isn't just "big money" that buys elections - it is outright legalized election manipulation and fraud that has struck the coup de gras to the voice of the people.

Sure we go through the motions hoping for fairness as the voices of the ignorant claim "foul," ignoring facts and screeching about "voter fraud."  One really can't blame these sad little, fearful ideologues when all they hear from their dogmatic and dishonest "leaders" is the spewing of thinly veiled bigotry and hubris.  Ideologues, by definition, ignore facts in favor of delusion...

Leading me to American elections in the 21st century - that body politic we have deemed "infallible by Constitution" is very fallible when it is not truly the real voice of the people.

Some of us watched he results come in Tuesday night with more than a little trepidation and that anxiety proved to be a truthful warning of the horrors to come.

Yes, the Republican Party "won" big but did they really win or was it a forgone conclusion that the GOP would take the Senate and keep their states after the machinery had been set in place.


From "Rolling Stone," November 11, 2013, "How Republicans Rig the Game":
As the nation recovers from the Republican shutdown of government, the question Americans should be asking is not "Why did the GOP do that to us?" but "Why were they even relevant in the first place?" So dramatically have the demographic and electoral tides in this country turned against the Republican Party that, in a representative democracy worthy of the designation, the Grand Old Party should be watching from the sidelines and licking its wounds. Not only did Barack Obama win a second term in an electoral landslide in 2012, but he is also just the fourth president in a century to have won two elections with more than 50 percent of the popular vote. What's more, the party controls 55 seats in the Senate, and Democratic candidates for the House received well over a million more votes than their Republican counterparts in the election last year. And yet, John Boehner still wields the gavel in the House and Republican resistance remains a defining force in the Senate, frustrating Obama's ambitious agenda.

How is this possible? National Republicans have waged an unrelenting campaign to exploit every weakness and anachronism in our electoral system. Through a combination of hyperpartisan redistricting of the House, unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate and racist voter suppression in the states, today's GOP has locked in political power that it could never have secured on a level playing field.
So do we really have to ask how the GOP took over the Senate, retained the House of Representatives, kept their seats in Governor's mansions and began the "Creep Creep" back into local and State political takeover?

Note:  Gordon Klingenschmitt, is now going to Denver to sit in the State House and babble about "God's wrath" and " God's Word" as he tries to destroy the social safety net, promote hate and divisiveness and all manner of psychosis.



...Now I’m thrilled to report that Tuesday’s election brought us a new anti-gay superstar: Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain, host of “Pray In Jesus Name,” possibly insane human being, and, come January, a member of the Colorado House of Representatives. You may have read Klingenschmitt’s book—which posits that President Barack Obama is possessed by “demonic spirits” of “death,” “paganism,” and “homosexual lust”—or seen his on-air exorcism of the president. (Sadly, Obama was not able to attend.) If so, you’ve really only gotten a taste of his talents. Klingenschmitt’s true passions lie not in presidential exorcisms, but on the topic of gays—and gay sex. Here’s Klingenschmitt’s description of two gay men “manifest[ing] sexual immorality”...


...On Tuesday, Klingenschmitt—a Republican—won 17,013 votes, defeating his Democratic opponent by a 40 percent margin. He will take his seat in the Colorado House of Representatives in January. We can only hope that his career in the legislature lives up to his already remarkable legacy.

First, the GOP gerrymandering that helped keep the House based in GOP Nirvana - I know, it isn't just the GOP that has gerrymandered but the latest gerrymandering has replaced mapping of districts by population with a creatively cubist array that balkanized most populations except those supporting Republicans.

Here’s an example from the election last night. In Pennsylvania, one state in which the GOP drew the congressional districts in a brazenly partisan way, Democratic candidates collected 44 percent of the vote, yet Democratic candidates won only 5 House seats out of 18. In other words, Democrats secured only 27 percent of Pennsylvania’s congressional seats despite winning nearly half of the votes. See the graph below:


A similar dynamic played in North Carolina, another state in which GOP control in 2011 created intensely partisan congressional boundaries. In the 2014 midterm elections, Democrats in North Carolina secured only 3 out of 13 seats (23 percent of NC’s congressional delegation) even though Democratic candidates in that state won about 44 percent of the vote:


In 2012, the first congressional election after the last round of gerrymandering, Democratic House candidates won 50.59 percent of the vote — or 1.37 million more votes than Republican candidates — yet secured only 201 seats in Congress, compared to 234 seats for Republicans. The House of Representatives, the “people’s house,” no longer requires the most votes for power.
As the results from this year roll in, we see a similar dynamic. Republican gerrymandering means Democratic voters are packed tightly into single districts, while Republicans are spread out in such a way to translate into the most congressional seats for the GOP.

Then we have the outright election fraud committed by "legal" means.  What else can we call purposeful denial of voting rights of large numbers of American citizens - both natural born and immigrant?


The Republican electoral sweep in yesterday’s elections has put an end to speculation over whether new laws making it harder to vote in 21 states would help determine control of the Senate this year. But while we can breathe a sigh of relief that the electoral outcomes won’t be mired in litigation, a quick look at the numbers shows that in several key races, the margin of victory came very close to the likely margin of disenfranchisement.

North Carolina

In the North Carolina Senate race, state house speaker Thom Tillis beat Senator Kay Hagen by a margin of 1.7 percent, or about 48,000 votes.

At the same time, North Carolina’s voters were, for the first time, voting under one of the harshest new election laws in the country — a law that Tillis helped to craft. Among other changes, the law slashed seven early voting days, eliminated same-day registration, and prohibited voting outside a voter’s home precinct — all forms of voting especially popular among African Americans. While it is too early to assess the impact of the law this year, the Election Protection hotline and other voter protection volunteers reported what appeared to be widespread problems both with voter registrations and with voters being told they were in the wrong precinct yesterday.

Some numbers from recent elections suggest that the magnitude of the problem may not be far from the margin of victory: In the last midterms in 2010, 200,000 voters cast ballots during the early voting days now cut, according to a recent court decision. In 2012, 700,000 voted during those days, including more than a quarter of all African-Americans who voted that year. In 2012, 100,000 North Carolinians, almost a one-third of whom were African-American, voted using same-day registration, which was not available this year. And 7,500 voters cast their ballots outside of their home precincts that year.

Kansas

In the Kansas governor’s race, Governor Sam Brownback beat back challenger Paul Davis by a margin of 2.8 percent, or less than 33,000 votes.

But Kansans faced two new voting restrictions this year — a strict photo ID law that was put into effect right before the 2012 election, and a new documentary proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration.

What was the impact this year? We know from the Kansas secretary of state that more than 24,000 Kansans tried to register this year but their registrations were held in “suspense” because they failed to present the documentary proof of citizenship now required by state law. And while we do not yet have the data regarding the impact of the voter ID requirement this year, a recent study by the independent Government Accountability Office found that Kansas’s voter ID law reduced turnout by approximately 2 percent in 2012. (GAO also found that Tennessee’s new law reduced turnout by up to 3 percent.) If the law’s effect was similar this year, it would mean that turnout was about 17,000 voters lower than it otherwise would have been. And keep in mind that the number of Americans that don’t have government-issued photo IDs that would be accepted under new laws is closer to 11 percent. In short, the margin of victory in Kansas looks perilously close to the margin of disenfranchisement.

Virginia

In Virginia, Senator Mark Warner eked out a victory over challenger Ed Gillespie by only 0.6 percent of the vote, or just over 12,000 votes.

Like in Kansas, voters in Virginia faced a strict new photo ID requirement this year. According to the Virginia Board of Elections, 198,000 “active Virginia voters” did not have acceptable ID this year. While there are no studies yet on the impact on turnout in Virginia, Nate Silver estimates, based on academic studies, that in general such laws reduce turnout by about 2.4 percent. If that were applied to Virginia this year, it would amount to a reduction in turnout by more than 52,000 voters. That far exceeds the margin of victory here.

Florida

The Florida governor’s race was decided by only a 1.2 percent margin, with Governor Rick Scott narrowly beating former Governor Charlie Crist by just under 72,000 votes.

Florida has passed a host of new voting restrictions over the past few years. Perhaps the most significant for this election was a decision by Scott and his clemency board to make it virtually impossible for the more than 1.3 million Floridians who were formerly convicted of crimes but have done their time and paid their debt to society to have their voting rights restored. Under Florida’s law, the harshest in the country, one in three African-American men is essentially permanently disenfranchised. Ironically, Scott had rolled back rights that were expanded under Governor Crist, who had established a path for people with past convictions to more easily get their voting rights restored. Under that process, more than 150,000 citizens had their rights restored before Scott changed the rules. This is part of a pattern this year of candidates benefiting from voting restrictions they helped to pass.

...And then there was Texas - over 600,000 voters were denied the ability to vote because they lacked an ID that the state of Texas would accept.  Sure the Governor's election was won by more than 600,000 votes but the election was for more than just the governor's mansion.  Every seat from the local dog catcher to the US House of Representatives will be effected by such a large number of disenfranchised voters and those voters tend to be Hispanic, Black, poor, veterans, students, the disabled and infirm, the elderly...




Elections in the 21st Century have become a new breed - Big Money/Dark Money, balkanization and disenfranchisement in diseased harmony create the rigged political game that takes the power from the people and gives it straight to Wall Street, the wealthy and the political hacks kept in power by them.  The "body politic" is no longer the voice of the people but has become the voice of the chosen few who continue to stomp on the rights of the people in order to assure their controlling interest in every aspect of the nation's governing body thereby assuring their control of every aspect of American life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Election 2014: Colorado proves her socialized psychosis diagnosis once again...

Colorado proves her socially and politically psychotic disorder once again..

Starting from the top - or bottom, depending on one's viewpoint :

Governor - Bob Beauprez vs John "Hick" Hickenlooper:

As of this writing, this race has just called for Hickenlooper though, I suspect, it is so close that Beauprez will challenge results.

Sleazy vs. Oily... COGOA style (Colorado Gas and Oil Assn).

Anti-education Bob loves his "education", or so his ads hammered this year.  What he doesn't say is that he loves his privatized, manipulated curriculum and chattel the teachers education model.  With recent international notice of the JeffCo School Board's attempts to censor curriculum and gag teachers, just where does Bobby stand?  He won't actually tell us openly except we really don't have to ask  (well, unless one is the average Colorado voter with a memory of a nanosecond).  Anyone paying attention understands he is not a real supporter of the idea of open, free and equal public education - during his time(s) in office, the NEA gave him a low 17%  rating..... But to listen to him - he is a big proponent of education, he just won't say of what, specifically (transparent as mud after a fracking spill).

Anti-Middle Class elitist Bob, is the Mitt Romney of Colorado:
"47% of all Americans pay no federal income tax. I'm guessing that most of you in this room are not in that 47% -- God bless you -- but what that tells me is that we've got almost half the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill, and most of that half is you all. I submit to you that there is a political strategy [by Democrats] to get slightly over half [of the vote] and have a permanent ruling political majority by keeping over half of the population dependent on the largesse of government that somebody else is paying for."



Frack-the-state, John "Hick" Hickenlooper, has made few friends in environment after his switch from geologist to real estate mogul, LoDo developer and Brew Pub Oligarch.  He comes off as a soft spoken, down to earth. friendly guy but has a tendency towards COGOA (Colorado Gas and Oil Assn.) pandering (like just about every other politician in Colorado) has left many in the state angry.  Hick is known for giving Aurora to GE only to have GE stab CO in the back, take over a CO company and move to AZ - taking the jobs with them ("when one lies down with dogs...."); suing cities that voted to ban fracking in their city limits to force them to overturn the vote of the people, creating an "oversight committee" manned with lots of energy executives to oversee energy regulation compliance in the state (like the Fed, the foxes overseeing the protection of the hens in the hen house).

The "Hick" is noted for ignoring the rural areas and playing to urban Denver - after all, this is where he made his money, name and political career - but it is taking its toll on his re-election.

The "Hick" is also anti-Occupy free speech, anti-Pot, flip-flopping gun control and pro-business but on the positive side, "Hick" is pro-Gay-Marriage, anti-personhood, pro-jobs, and pro-public Education

US Senate - Cory Gardner vs Mark Udall:

Where do I begin?  Sweet psychotic home, Colorado, likes its nutters.  That over 1/3 independent voting public tends towards the nutter side often.  They split the vote until one gets to the "Focus On The Family," over-the-top Christian Sharia Law at the base of "Mount Doom", Colorado Springs.  The Springs came out bigger than they have in years to destroy any sense of stability we, in Colorado, tried to achieve - all with the help of crazies with a big money microphone.

Michelle Malkin's Citizen's United - yes, That Citizens United - funded, directed, wrote, and produced a slanderous hit piece on Democrats in Colorado, specifically going after any Democrat running for office 2014, that took conspiracy theory and outright lying to a new low.  The "film" (I refuse to call it anything else now that drones are trained on American citizens who write inflammatory blog posts) was allowed to be plastered on Colorado Springs airwaves for the entire weekend a few weeks ago and not just NewsMax and FOX.

Then we have the Pueblo (pronounced Pee-EBB-lo), a highly Hispanic area carried largely by the Democrats in 2012 and 2010, was lost to the Democratic Party this time around.  Why?  In large part because the highly touted and promised "Immigration Reform" never happened; the Democratic President Barack Obama has deported more Hispanics in his 6 years than any other president in recent history; And that same president has waffled so many times on using "executive order" to assist immigrants and their families (since an unfriendly and overly anti-immigration Congress refused to assist anyone not quite white and male enough), that the Hispanic voters in Colorado responded by either going Republican or just staying home.

Pro-Personhood, anti-women's rights, anti-transparency and accountability, government obstructionist, Tea Party blow up doll, Cory Gardner rode wild and nutter into the House of Representatives a few years ago and joined in obstruction and government shut down last year  but the people of Colorado seem to have a nanosecond attention span and even shorter memory since the voters chose to believe his "dumbed down tone down,"  "I iz a moderate 'NEW' Republican" shpiel.

The facts - Corey has always supported the Personhood Amendment in Colorado but chose to distant himself  in his new "re-brand."  That distancing - not so much.  He is still a proponent of "personhood" but now at the national level since he got the chance to go national "chattle-maker" with the rest of the Tea party pandering Christian Right of the US House of Representatives.

Cory pushed his "I am green" campaign, ignoring that fracking and natural gas aren't "green" (well, unless one counts the color of the pollution in the afternoon sunshine over the Rockies).  The people of Colorado apparently bought the bullshit along with the promise of tons of jobs (talk to North Dakota and a few other sates about the quality and long term prospects for those jobs).

Mark Udall, though not my favorite politician since his vote for the Perpetual War, is still anti-FISA overreach, pro-Torture Report release and heavily involved in trying to control spying on the American people.  He has supported many environmental policies and was named Clean Water Action's "Champ for the Senate".

For the rest:

The US House remained status quo from Colorado:

Colorado jumped in to keep Tea Party darling Ken Buck (R- District 4) in the US House of Representatives.

Michael Coffman (R-Birther, war-monger, pro-Koch and pro-Tea Party obstructionist) over Michael Romanoff, probably the only Colorado politician not owned by the COGOA (and the only legitimately honest candidate running in the state - Bill Maher, you really should have come here to fight this one. Romanoff made a point of ignoring big money in favor of private donations, taking mostly in-state and individual donations with only a tiny amount coming from out-of-state and PACs for this campaign) to keep District 6 in the US House of Representatives.

Diana DeGette (D-District 1) handily won in Denver to retain her seat in the US House of Representatives (though I refused to vote her this time in protest of her Perpetual War stance in the House under Obama, as well as her refusal to make a stance on US Imperialism, US GTMO policy - both matters with which I, personally, have met with her about since 2006, I have supported her in the past).

Jared Polis (D) handily won his re-election to US House of Representatives from Boulder (District 2)

Doug "being around Obama is like touching a tar-baby" Lamborn (R - District 5) kept his Colorado Springs district and stays in the RW Nutter side of the US House of Representatives.

Ed Perlmutter (D) kept his District 7 seat in the US House of Representatives.

Scott Tipton (R-District 3) kept his seat once again

And more locally:

Mike Coffman's "True The Vote" and "Purge the Electorate" wife, Cindy, took over the AG's office from PayDay Loan lovin', John "stop Civil Unions" Suthers...More of the same pain there.

"Purge the Vote" Scott Gessler's Secretary of State seat went to another Republican of like mind, Wayne Williams.

We then turned out to defeat truth in advertising or labeling - We turned down the GMO Labeling legislation.

The good news? There was some...

We defeated a Personhood Amendment, resoundingly, for the 3rd time (but elected a personhood senator - go figure) and defeated expansion of gambling.



Colorado continues to prove it's questionable mental state by those it sends to "represent" us, opposing the People's best interests, in Washington, DC, and in the Colorado State Capitol.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

CA Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Race is a Dead Heat: The Future of Public Education is at Stake

Introducing a new contributor to "Rantings of a Mad Woman," Charlene - my friend from sunny Southern California.  Charlene writes about California's race for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Like races throughout the country, money talks and money has been poured even into this race...



Tom Torlakson, left; Marshall Tuck (AP: Torlakson; handout photo: Tuck) 


The candidates for California's Superintendent of Public Instruction are: Tom Torlakson (pictured left), incumbent superintendent, former educator and California State Legislator; and Marshall Tuck (pictured right), former Wall Street Banker, charter school President, and non-profit CEO.

This race is not a “Reformer vs. Union Campaign”, (Tuck vs. Torlakson, respectively), as Forbes would have us believe. And it's not about rotten test scores because of rotten teachers and tenure that keeps them employed. Poor student achievement is more the result of factors related to income inequality than to poor teaching, according to Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and former Assistant Secretary of Education, from her book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.

What is at issue in this race is big money, making big profits from the privatization of our public educational system, at the expense of our children, and the leading advocates for privatization are funding Marshall Tuck’s campaign for State Superintendent of Education in California. " Public education is becoming big business as bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity investors are entering what they consider to be an “emerging market."

Big Business money from "Corporate school “reformers” have raised over $4 million from the very rich during the last week" investing heavily in the Tuck campaign. The Sacramento Bee reported of the roughly $10M of outside money that has poured into this race, the $7.5M has been in support of Tuck and include the likes of Los Angeles businessman Eli Broad ($1M) and, from out of state, Alice Walton, Wal-Mart heiress ($450k).These are two (among others such as Bill Gates, Paul Tudor Jones) who "have misguided ideas because they believe that by destroying public education, they’re helping children. They’re hurting our democracy and hurting children."

But Eli Broad has made an even greater investment in Marshall Tuck than $1M. Tuck is a graduate of the Broad Center: Residency in Urban Education, which they say is a program "preparing a growing network of experienced leaders and managers... helping improve the learning outcomes and life chances of the students they serve." However, the Broad Center 'training' is not certified, has no state approvals, is not subject to any outside monitoring, yet it “trains” people who then take leadership roles in urban districts and in state education departments. Many were never educators.  Further, these graduates aren't providing leadership or necessarily improving outcomes, and Broad Center-trained superintendents often create turmoil within the educational systems they infiltrate, are ousted or leave under curious circumstances, and amid unpopular policies. One such Broad Center grad, John Deasy, LAUSD Superintendent, resigned October 15, 2014 under a cloud of controversy.

Here are some other articles and posts worth reading:

"Marshall Tuck comes to the education sector not through the study or practice of teaching but through the world of private finance, business school, investment banking and “computers." The achievements he lists on website are refuted in an LA Progressive report entitled "Marshall Tuck's Legacy of Bigotry and Failure." Some of his failures at Partnership for LA Schools (and of the PLAS itself) are highlighted in "Marshall Tuck Betrays Latino and African American Parents" by Cheryl Ortega, Director of Bilingual Education, UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles).

It was not my intention to understate the many accomplishments of Tom Torlakson, both as a legislator and an educator supporting of our children and our environment, that qualify him to hold the office of California's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Mr. Torlakson has earned our support, our vote; he's got mine.

"If you want to improve public education, vote for Tom Torlakson. If you want to get rid of public schools, Tuck’s the guy" - Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and former Assistant Secretary of Education.


Remember, remember...the 5th of November - The Million Mask March rides again


via Associated Press, November 20, 2012

Anonymous - the Collective.

One can love them, hate them, fear them, embrace them but no one can ignore them - at least, not for long. Anonymous will not be ignored.

Anonymous has confronted governments (eg., IsraelIran, Turkey), corporations (eg., HBGary, Stratfor, Bank of America, PayPal) and questionable organizations (eg., Scientology) around the planet; provided safe "work arounds," connections, and direct access for citizens in revolt or living in oppression (eg., Egypt, Iran, Turkey), allowing them to stay connected and communicating as corrupt and fearful regimes try to shut internet access down; exposed spying on the people by private security firms hired by major corporations (eg., Monsanto), police departments (eg. Oakland) and governmental bodies to infiltrate, disrupt, manipulate and provoke activist organizations and non-profits perceived to be a threat to their sleazy activities; exposed government officials acting out criminally (eg., Poland), inhumanely, and unethically; forced investigations of crimes that had been swept under the rug and ignored by local "officials" (#OpMaryville), as well as exposed conspiracies that are detrimental to freedom and transparency.

The governments of Poland, Israel, the US, China, and even North Korea (as well as Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and others...) have felt the power of the Noosphere's own Monkey Wrench Gang rain down upon their hubris filled little heads.

Their message brings hope to people, worldwide, all joined in the common cause of freedom, transparency and accountability, and out of that sense of common cause, the Million Mask March was born.

Remember, remember the 5th of November....

November 5, 2014, brings us another Million Mask March - an international protest held in cities across the planet, joining together those of us standing in common cause (even this old revolutionary)....



Come one, come all in common cause...



YOU ARE HEREBY CORDIALLY INVITED

Anonymous is a truth movement advocating hacktivism as self-defense for unconstitutional government. It is our aim to shed light on corrupt government in order to set people free from oppression.

Since Anonymous is a movement and not an organization, our leadership is undefined and fluid. We function not by credentials but by the power of idea to resonate with the whole. With no rulers, there are no rules and no specific membership criteria. In fact, you don’t even have to be computer savvy or anonymous to be Anonymous.

Now being hailed “The Most Influential Group in the World,” Anonymous has caught the passionate attention of millions. With our annual Nov. 5th global event known as Million Mask March (in commemoration of Guy Fawkes Day), we have for the last two consecutive years organized “The Largest World Protest.”

Join us as we represent humanity’s defense against the crimes of injustice!



For those who can't make it, be there via livestream from the streets.












We are Anonymous
We are legion
We never forgive
We never forget
Expect us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

From International Business Times ...West Should 'Look Into' Merits Of Iranian Law, Human-Rights Official Says



Iran fired back at the West after a United Nations human-rights report slammed the Islamic republic over its high rate of executions and strict Sharia policies. The 28-page U.N. report came shortly after Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was hanged for killing a man she said tried to rape her. Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary general of Iran’s High…

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