Friday, January 29, 2016

Sanity Break: Banners- Start A Riot

by Nomad

If your world falls apart, I'd start a riot.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Infiltration: How Karl Rove Tactics in Liberal Social Media are Attempting to Divide and Conquer

by Nomad

hands typing computerWould it really surprise you if the Republicans engaged in "dirty tricks" to try to win the election? It shouldn't. They have already announced the intention to infiltrate liberal sites and demoralize liberal voters.

Historian Will Durant once wrote:
The political machine triumphs because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority.
Probably nothing could better explain the success of the conservative wing of the Republican party than that sentence. For years, the GOP has allowed very little dissent among its ranks. The party motto has been "you are either with us or against us" since the heady days of the so-called Reagan revolution. 

Of late, this situation has been turned on its head. From a political strategist's point of view, the situation could hardly be more advantageous for the Left. Or at least, you'd think so.

The Ignored Warning

One man earlier on forewarned about this Republican problem.
His name was Karl Rove.
Forty years of Republican "success" was actually based in large part on Democratic failure, Rove said. But it could easily work in the opposite direction. He added this:
"But it is also a cautionary tale of what happens to a dominant party — in this case, the Democrat Party —  when its thinking becomes ossified; when its energy begins to drain; when an entitlement mentality takes over; and when political power becomes an end in itself rather than a mean to achieve the common goal."
In spite of Rove's warning, and largely under his command, the GOP fell into the very trap he warned about. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Candidate Trump and the Last Hurrah of the White Republican Voter

by Nomad

The GOP has long ignored the warnings and continued to court a shrinking audience of angry white voters. Indeed, his rise to the top of the Republican party may just spell the end of hopes for ever winning presidential elections.

Writing for the website Salon, Heather "Digby" Parton has analyzed the present confused political situation in an op-ed piece and came to interesting conclusions about what's really going on. 
Pointing out that Obama won reelection by getting the smallest share of white voters of any presidential candidate in history, Parton suggests that this is a sign of the marginalization of the white vote. And that's something that's  very likely to continue whether Republican candidates recognize it or not. 

Ideological Reinforcement of Like-Minded People
The Republican establishment may think that simply by im­prov­ing turnout they can take back the White House. With Trump at the helm, there is not much chance for much-needed reform of the GOP agenda. In short, Trump is taking the party to a place where it will not survive. 
Not a party for the entire country but a party with a country club mentality with an ever-shrinking membership.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How America's Obsolete Voting Machines Could Spark An Election Crisis in 2016

by Nomad

Without a drastic overhaul of America's antiquated voting machines, we could face a major electoral crisis in the 2016 presidential race.

A Question of Legitimacy

One of the more pernicious effects of a politically-split nation is the very real possibility that- no matter what the outcome of the elections- one side will claim the results were rigged. In this event, half the country could simply refuse to respect the legitimacy of the political system and the leader that emerges. We have come awfully close to this dreaded situation already.

Anything that encourages doubts about the validity of the election must be investigated and amended, prior to the election. Afterward, any solution comes too late.

There've been plenty of warnings in the past that the voting machine crisis was looming. Practically since their inception,  the use of voting machines have raised plenty of doubts about the reliability. Many claimed that the machines were too easy to rig, with too many opportunities to manipulate the results. Those charges come not just from the so-called tin-foil hat brigade but from highly qualified experts.

Even if one puts aside the conspiracy theories, there are still problems with the use of voting machines. Last year, a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law noted many polling places nationwide are out of date. The report also pointed out that replacement parts are difficult to find for these machines because of their age.   

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Unsung Heroes: Fannie Hamer and Ella Baker

by Nomad

African American Women
A photo of two African-American women and the story behind the image. 

Recently, I found this photo while scouring the net, totally unaware that these two women were a lot more than just patriotic Americans. 

They are that, but they are much more too. A bit of research led me to uncover who these women were and the fascinating part they played in struggle for full equality.

According to the caption, Fannie Lou Hamer (holding the flag) and Ella Baker are shown in the photo, attending the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) in 1964. The organization was formed when blacks and whites from that state came together  to challenge the legitimacy of the regular Mississippi Democratic Party (MDP). 
The MDP had refused to allow the blacks to participate even though African American made up around 40% of Mississippi's population.

Such a purposeful oversight could not be ignored. Their solution was ingenious and elegant.  With Robert Parris Moses, Hamer and Baker set up a new and more inclusive organization and called it MFDP.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Conservative Family Values and Reality: The Secret Ted Cruz's Mother Tried to Hide

by Nomad

The Party of Personal Responsibility

Recently, during the Republican debates, Presidential candidate, and Senator Ted Cruz, while taking a swing at front-runner Donald Trump, attempted to employ his brand of divisive politics by slighting New York values, presumably as a contrast to the true values of the heartland.

Along with faith and patriotism, one of those values Cruz says he prizes above all else is family. As defined by conservatives. that's a mother, father, and children under the same roof. Except for abstinence-endorsing Bristol Palin, single mothers with children born out of wedlock are strictly unwelcome. This is, after all, the party of personal responsibility.    
That's why the details of Cruz's family history come as a bit of a shock. Although the facts have been camouflaged and dates have been skillfully blurred or altered if one account is correct, the unofficial story is a different -and much more interesting- one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Here's How Trump Dealt with Little People Who Stood In His Way

by Nomad

A 27-year-old exposé about Donald Trump sheds some light on the character of the man who is today running for president.

Back in 1989, real estate mogul, Donald Trump worked extremely hard to keep the public from seeing the expose film, Trump: What's the Deal?
He did everything in his power to suppress its release.
It's easy to see why he thought it would damage the image he had spent years crafting. 

The battle between Trump and the producers of this documentary included public insults and threats of lawsuits and involved PR firms and dozens of attorneys. The primary financier of the project was business mogul Leonard Norman Stern, so it was something of a war of Manhattan titans. For the full story of that war, click here.

Eligibility: How Ted Cruz Got Totally Tripped up in his Tangle of Lies

by Nomad

If Ted Cruz is eligible, says one blogger, then he has been caught in yet another lie. Like Cruz, Obama's mother was American. If Obama is eligible, why have the Birthers like Cruz been slandering the president for so many years?

AMERICAblog writer, Jon Green, makes a valid point worth highlighting about Ted Cruz and the revived question of his eligibility to run as president.  

With a great deal of schadenfreude,  we on the Left can thank Donald Trump for bringing up this issue. Is Canadian-born Ted "Rafael" Cruz actually constitutionally eligible to run for president?
It's doubtful whether there's much validity to Trump's argument but it is everso enjoyable to watch Cruz squirm in the heat of the media attention. After years of leading a completely ridiculous crusade against the President's eligibility. it is fun to see the table turned. Over the years, Cruz (and Trump too) propagated vague theories about Obama's unfitness for office. And that had the easily-deceived birthers eating from Ted's palm. He didn't get to be a Tea Party favorite by his good looks and shining intellect. 

Trump's question about Cruz's eligibility appeared to be fairly simple to resolve. Cruz produced his birth certificate proving that he was born to an American mother, thus satisfying the qualifications. No matter where he was born, Canada or Russia or Kenya, so long as his mother had an American passport, he could claim American citizenship.
But the debate wouldn't die. Some leading constitutional lawyers still openly disagreed about the issue.  The Washington Post states:
In Cruz's case, nobody is disputing the underlying facts of the case -- that Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and a mother who was a U.S. citizen. ... that makes him a U.S. citizen himself, but it's not 100 percent clear that that is the same thing as a "natural-born citizen" -- the requirement for becoming president.
The Post adds that while most scholars think the terms mean the same thing and that Cruz "most likely" qualifies, nobody is quite sure. It's mighty satisfying to watch Cruz getting a taste of his own bitter medicine. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Iranian Nuclear Accord and the True Faith and Allegiance of Senator Ted Cruz

by Nomad

As the Iranian Nuclear Accord becomes a fact, Presidential candidate and Senator Ted Cruz a strange inability to understand how the US Constitution works. Or perhaps he simply refuses to respect the process it established.

According to the Constitution, the powers of the executive branch have two very important limitations. The president cannot declare war (yet, paradoxically perhaps, he/she is also the commander of the US military.)
Additionally, the president cannot make treaties or appointments without the "advice and consent of the Senate."
When it came to the historic nuclear agreement with Iran, Republican-led Congress took that limitation as a tool to stop dead any kind of lifting of sanctions or a less bellicose approach to the Iranian Republic.
Here are some highlights.

Cotton's Overreach
About a year ago at this time, the debate on the four-nation nuclear deal with Iran was ongoing and by summer, it was in full swing. Given adversarial and generally obstructionist attitude in Congress, nobody was surprised that the Republican majority seemed determined in every way to give Obama a lesson he would not soon forget. 
It didn't turn out as planned.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

With GOP in Complete Disarray, Trump Offers Establishment Some Difficult Choices

by Nomad

King of the World Donald TrumpThe results from the last Republican debate are in and it must have a lot of people in the Republican party extremely jittery. And they really ought to be.

After the sixth debate, Trump is still holding his commanding position, the reins of Republican Party power seem to be in his hands and he isn't going anywhere.  
MarketWatch reports:
The political establishment — in places like New York, Washington and Los Angeles — has been waiting for months for the Trump movement to flame out of its own accord. In the past few weeks they have finally woken up to the shock that this may not happen.
The choices for the ruling elite (whose authority Trump seems to be directly challenging) are stark. Either take Donald Trump with all his political warts, all of his toxic rhetoric and his inane policies or take a 50-50% risk that he will walk away and escort his supporters over to his third party. 

Even the Best Case Isn't So Terrific
According to one source, all this uncertainty and instability is having a negative effect on Wall Street. While blaming the decline in stocks on the political confusion might seem like a stretch, there is a bit of logic to that claim.

Above all else, Wall Street likes certainty and predictability. It's their security blanket and, at this point, things, especially in the Republican Party, could hardly be anymore uncertain. Here are two possible outcomes and both are fairly awful for investors. 
Even in Wall Street’s best-case scenario, the parties will only pick establishment candidates after months of bruising primary battles. In a worst-case scenario (for investors, at any rate): They’ll pick one or two heterodox outsiders who will threaten to turn everything upside down.
So, you have the Republican party being led by a rabble-rousing billionaire that cannot be bought and on the other side, there's a competition among the Dems about which candidate can appear more aggressive on Wall Street accountability.

For the Republican Party, the options are fraught with existential danger, namely, an acrimonious split in the GOP that will not be easily mended.
Analysts are looking at the possibility of having an unelectable candidate or an unwinnable campaign. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Overlooked Provision in Omnibus Spending Bill Throws Lifeline to Struggling Food Banks

by Nomad

If austerity-minded organizations, like the Heritage Foundation, or the Tea Party might have been roaring in anger about the omnibus spending package, some people thought certain provisions in the deal provided a much-needed ray of hope.

Republican members of Congress didn't really look forward to their constituents dwelling too much on the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama right before Christmas.

Better to think of happier things, seasonal joys and the promise of the new year. It's no wonder too. Far-Right Activists could understandably claim that once again they have been hoodwinked by politicians who promised a lot of things they had no intention of delivering upon.

The worst offender, according to their point of view, was Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He was supposed to replace the cowardly crybaby John Boehner.  Fox News regaled Ryan back then. All of the cliches were present and accounted for: "a new day" and "turning a page."  
That was only in October. By Christmas, the honeymoon was definitely over. The annulment has already begun. It's really not his fault, though, that American government doesn't actually function the way some people think it does. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Can You Find Jerry?

by Nomad

We call this the "Find Jerry"game. We have all encountered a guy like Jerry. Not a bad guy really but he proves that one person can do a lot of damage pretty quickly without really trying. Sometimes it's hard to find him, he appears like a tornado, does his thing and disappears just as quickly.    

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ridiculous GOP Hysteria and Opportunism Are Exposed by the Iranian Crisis that Never Happened

by Nomad

Once again, in an attempt to humiliate the president, to paint Obama as a weak leader and to exploit what might have been an international crisis, the Republicans have shot themselves in the foot. 

In a surprising twist, Iranian officials have managed to make fools of the Republican candidates and spokesmen for the GOP.

When two U.S. Navy boats were seized in Iranian waters on Tuesday, it could easily have developed into an international crisis. It had all of the makings of a diplomatic disaster for Obama who had fought so hard for peaceful solutions in dealing with the often difficult Iranian Republic. Now, it appeared to be about to blow up in his face

The New York Times quoted Fars, state-run Iranian news Agency, Fars, an Iranian state news agency, as saying that the 10 sailors had been arrested, suspected of “snooping.”

Strength and Weakness
The older Republicans closed their eyes and envisioned Jimmy Carter's grimace and blindfolded hostages being paraded before the international press. What a joyful sight must have played in the imaginations of the Republican candidates. 
It must have seemed like a dream come true. Too, too bad about those ten US servicemen but.. oh well..

Hammers and Guns: How Fox News Has Poisoned the Mind of the American Public

by Nomad

Reforming gun laws would seem to be a rather straight-forward proposition. People around the world scratch their heads and wonder why a superpower like the US would not be able to work out a solution. They are unaware of the awesome and sinister power of the propaganda machine in the US.

The Mystery 

To rest of the world, right-wing American voters seem frightening but also something of a mystery.
How can such a powerful and modern nation, indeed a superpower which still claims to be a leader of the free world, harbor such an ignorant and so easily manipulated electorate? 
And it's a good question. 

Gun control is a prime example.
When faced with the slaughter of innocent children, why on earth wouldn't there be an overwhelming demand for gun control? Shouldn't the American public be angry enough by now to ensure that laws be reformed? Isn't the problem clear enough? 
If nothing else, isn't it possible simply to clarify the meaning of the constitutional right to bear arms to exclude weapons of war? 

Apparently it is not possible. The recent tears of an American president, moved by the deaths of children to gun violence, were actually mocked. Fox News' host Andrea Tantaros went so far as to suggest checking the president's lectern for raw onion.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Presidential Candidate JEB Threatens to Unleash his Secret Campaign Weapon: Brother George

by Nomad

For some obscure reasons, JEB thinks reminding American voters of brother George is going to give him a decided advantage in the presidential race. 

Sometimes you hear things JEB says, the way the man thinks and you have to wonder how anybody so out of touch with the American people would ever consider running for president.
Although there have been plenty of examples of this, what he said the other day left a lot of people gasping in disbelief. He told MSNBC:
“My brother, if you did the polling and actually looked at it — he’s probably the most popular president amongst Republicans in this country."
After Reagan, who else is there? Nixon? One-term Pappy?

Monday, January 11, 2016

What You Must Do to Opt-Out of Texas' New Open Carry Handgun Law

by Nomad

Not everybody in Texas is overjoyed about the idea of the open carry gun laws that came into effect on 1 January. There's a way to opt-out but the rules are very specific.  

Since the start of the year, Texas' new open carry handgun law has been in effect. From now on, people with proper registration can openly carry their firearms. In the past, the law required firearms be concealed.

There are, we are told, an astounding 12.8 registered firearms per 1,000 residents.The last time people of the Lone Star state were allowed such open carry privileges was 140 years ago- back in the good old Wild West days when rootin' tootin' cowboys engaged in shootouts in public streets.

When it comes to such laws, Texas is not alone. It's actually the 45th state to allow open carry in some form. (Shockingly, thirty states do not require the carrier to have a license.)
In terms of sheer population, Texas (population roughly 27 million) is the most populous in the nation now allowing for open carry. 

The new law allows nearly 1 million gun-licensed Texans to publicly display their holstered handguns, as long as they have a permit and they have passed a safety course.
One website for the national gun safety course says, "It doesn’t hurt to learn the basics." True that. It hurts less than, say, accidentally shooting yourself in the eye.

In Memory of David Bowie

by Nomad

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"God Told Me So": The Dangerous Delusions of the Religious Republican

by Nomad

It's strange that the typical conservative voter would reject in a courtroom the very thing they openly support in their presidential candidates.

Last week, as reported by local media,  the courts in Cobbs County, Georgia  heard defense of an 18-year-old woman Olivia Nicole Smith. She is accused of the horrific stabbing murder her step-cousin, 17-year-old high school Abbey Hebert. 

According to her testimony, Smith claimed to neighbors, right after the murder, that God had made her do it after she and her cousin smoked marijuana together. She explained that she had "an overwhelming feeling of God coming to her: and that God had disapproved of her behavior.
In response to this imagined judgment, the young woman had an argument with her relative. That argument somehow ended in a butcher knife of murder in the victim's front yard. Prior to this, both victim and accused murderer had been close friends.
The public was justifiably outraged by the sensational crime.   

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that God (or Satan) has been the alleged accomplice/mastermind of some otherwise inexplicable crime. In fact, it's a pretty common thing.

Astoundingly, in the very same county in Georgia, back in 2008, then 36-year-old Donna Marie Redding told the police that her husband, Gary Dean Parnell, taken the Lord’s name in vain once too many times. 
(For those of you keeping score, that's Commandment Number 3 - taking God's name in vain- while the prohibition on murder is Commandment Number 6.)
Redding's religious sensibilities were utterly offended by all this loose talk, she claimed, and for this reason, Jesus commanded her to shoot her man with a 12-gauge shotgun in the stomach.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Vitally Important Lessons that Syrian Refugees Have to Teach America

by Nomad

A recent article from Detroit reminds us that Syrian refugees have something important to teach all of us about where we came from, who we now are and what we will become.

The arrests of two Iraqi refugees on charges of providing material support to ISIS this week has provided new impetus for governors to attempt to block Syrian refugee efforts. Their crusade, which runs counter to their actual authority, has naturally met with some serious stumbling-blocks.
Those obstacles are unlikely to force them to stop. For  some time now we have all watched as Republicans seized upon the Syrian refugees as a political issue, stoking as much as possible public fears. 

One state, Michigan, has taken in about 200 Syrian refugees, one of the highest of all states in the U.S. In November, after the Paris attacks, Governor Snyder -like many governors- demanded a halt to accepting any further Syrian refugees

Snyder cited security concerns and the possibility of terrorist infiltration. Never mind that there were already rigorous checks and screenings. Never mind that in the Paris attacks, only one of the 13 terrorists was born outside of France and Abdelhamid Abaaoud was born in Belgium, not in the Middle East, and definitely not in Syria.
Facts, facts, facts, what untidy things they are.

Meanwhile we have armed militias dressed up as soldiers seizing federal property in Oregon and advocating rising up" against the tyranny of the federal government. Nobody on the Right, as far as I know, has suggested deportation for these louts.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fake Life Savers: Turkish Police Raid Reveals the Extent of Exploitation of Syrian Refugees

by Nomad

The news out of Turkey about the refugees attempting to make the treacherous crossing into Europe just keeps getting worse. We can now add yet another danger: counterfeit lifejackets.

Police in Turkey's third largest city of Izmir raided an underground workshop this week,  seizing large numbers of unsafe lifejackets. The cut-rate jackets to be sold to refugees crossing the dangerous straits between Turkey and Greece.

According to the local reports  (linked below), the more than 1000 life jackets failed to meet recognized safety standards, and were filled with "packaging" rather than the proper materials needed to maintain proper bouyancy.
The workshop was found to be operating in the heart of the city. As if that were not bad enough, authorities also found that the workshop had employed unaged Syrian workers to help in the manufacture.

The news report noted that four people were found working in the workshop, including two young Syrian girls. Refugees are not permitted to work legally in the country where the unemployment rate among Turkish citizens is already high. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Flatline: Why the GOP Has Become a Political Party that Deserves to Die

by Nomad

Is it time to ask whether we are actually witnessing the passing of a political party?

If you are beginning to feel like politics in the US has hit an all time low, you are not alone. 
Mike McCabe has seen the failure of the two-party system close up. 
As the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan watchdog group that specializes in tracking the money in state elections, he has been achingly aware that the Grand Old Party isn't so grand anymore. 

While Progressives have had their share of doubts with the Democrats, the Republican Party could hardly get any more farcical and bizarre than it is at the moment. 

The days of Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower and even Reagan are long gone and what remains is little more than hucksterism, fleecing the 1% and appealing the worst aspects of American culture, such as intolerance, irrational fear, and willful ignorance.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ohio Draft Law Would Mandate Women to Pay for "Respectful" But Costly Fetus Disposal

by Nomad

Ohio abortion law politiciansYet another attempt to create a legislative obstacle for   women trying to obtain a legal, safe and private abortion in Ohio.   

When it comes to the war on women and their reproductive rights, the pro-life opposition appears willing to stop at nothing, no matter how outrageous. 

Politically, it doesn't seem to make much sense. A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that 50 percent of Americans now call themselves pro-choice, including 54 percent of women and 46 percent of men. On the other hand, only 44 percent of respondents labeled themselves pro-life, the lowest response in more than five years.

That doesn't seem to make much difference to Ohio legislators, Republicans State Rep. Kyle Koehler, Sen. Joe Uecker, and Rep. Robert McColley. They have introduced a bill requiring women who have had abortions to complete an official form provided by the Ohio Department of Health.

This form would force women to indicate how they wish the fetus to be disposed of, that is, whether they would prefer to cremation or burial.
Clinics would be required to perform the designated method then could require the women treated to pay the cost, according to a Ohio Public Radio report.
There are just so many things wrong with the proposed legislation. For one thing, it is doubtful whether it would ever be considered constitutional. 
That's because the key factor in the landmark 1972 Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision was its infringement by the state on the woman's right to privacy. Such an infringement was warranted only if there was some kind of credible justification for state interference in that right to individual privacy.