Showing posts with label Vote. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vote. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Closing Arguments For Election Day - VOTE!

Be strong. Be safe. Be an American.


























Well, Election Day is finally here. The lines may be long. The pressure may be on you to walk away from the polling place. Please do not take the easier road today. Your country needs you. Get out and vote. Tell your family and friends to vote. The country is at a serious crossroads right now - do you want to turn back the clock 50 or more years economically, socially and politically? Or do you want to keep moving forward?

There have been worrying reports for weeks about ramped up efforts to suppress the vote, especially in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin and Nevada.  Please stay strong, people! Do not let voter intimidation rob you of your constitutional rights. Do not let secret, well-funded groups succeed in suppressing the vote to steal this election. The United States is a free Republic and it will stay that way because everyday American heroes will insist upon it.

Know your rights and be prepared. There may be long lines, irritable people, problems with voting machines and "observers" who may challenge your right to be there. Do not accept the word of a stranger on a polling place line; do not let an "observer" convince you that you should not vote today! These operatives have been well-trained to scare voters away from the polls. Do not let them do this to you. Do not let them do this to America.

Resources for voters:

Our Vote:  "Election Protection is working 365 days to advance and defend your right to vote, but you also need to be fully equipped with information and resources to help you cast a ballot on Election Day."

Know your rights!  State-specific voter checklists Use the checklist as a resource for information about your right to vote and what you need to do before heading to the polls on Election Day.

VotoLatino, Get the facts on latino voter suppression, and information about voting.

Student Voting Guide, Brennan Center for Justice: Comprehensive voting guide with interactive map for one-click access to voter information.

Fair Elections Legal Network Guide

SmartVoter; Unbiased Election Information, League of Women Voters.

If you have a few minutes before you go to the polls - or even while waiting in a long line (print to read!), please read the passionate and heartfelt essay linked below. Millions of young people in America have been recruited to serve the interests of a nihilistic and profoundly anti-American ideology through early religious indoctrination and college radicalization . Fighting your way out of that maze of conflicting moral problems is extremely difficult - the strategists behind it deliberately made it that way - but young Americans are stronger and smarter than that.

Read. Think. Remember our history. Vote.

Dear Young Conservative, D C Pierson, November 4, 2012

I am ashamed because I accepted into my heart and head a system of thought I now believe to be, to borrow a term from my old friend Ayn Rand, anti-life: that government should only exist to make it easy for businesses to do business, the idea that it is our civic duty to have no civic duty. I no longer believe that the way to make things better for everyone is to let people with money do whatever they want, whenever they want. I feel I’ve earned the crap out of this belief, given that I used to believe precisely the opposite, and I’ve taken a long journey to the side I stand on now.

And I urge you, before you dismiss me as a long-haired Hollywood goofball liberal, to read on, and to listen to me in every bit the earnest that I am writing to you.  Please don’t pull the dismissive ripcord in your mind, the one labeled “You’re just saying that because you’re biased, etc…” that all of us use every day to reject the idea that someone who disagrees with us may have a point. This ripcord is cynicism, plain and simple, and it mars political discourse and if we continue to pull it every time someone starts to say something that doesn’t jibe with what we already think, life on this planet will soon be quite literally impossible.

I completely understand the appeal of being an intelligent young conservative. When you’ve spent your entire academic career in gifted-and-talented programs, constantly being made an exception of, there’s something really appealing in imagining the grown-up world as a perfect arena of achievement where the talented and strong triumph, because they’re better than everybody else and they work harder, and everybody else watches from the sidelines or works the concessions stand, or worse. 

In Ayn Rand’s books, I found really romantic fables of people persecuted for being smart and capable and hard-working. All government should do, or should be able to do, I believed, is free the smart and capable and hard-working among us to do what we want and need to do, and everything will take care of itself.

And I still don’t believe the smart and capable and hard-working should have a whole lot of roadblocks to doing what they want and need to do, as long as they’re not infringing on the rights and the health of others. 

What I’ve learned in my brief time in the real world is, there aren’t a whole lot of impediments to smart, capable, hard-working people doing what it is they want and need to do. Not governmental ones, anyway. But the threat of Big Government inhibiting these high achievers from raising all our boats with their tide of good ideas and prosperity is often used to make life very, very hard for lots of other people, including, yes, a lot of the smart, the capable, and the hard-working. Harder than it needs to be, given our relative affluence as a society.

Here’s the thing:

The world doesn’t need help being harder... please click to read the whole amazing essay.

Mitt's 10 Most Destructive Policies, Robert Reich, Salon, November 5, 2012.

In Romney's world, money is king.
And he who has the most money,
is entitled to be king.
By now, in these last remaining days before the election of 2012, we have learned enough about the beliefs of the Republican presidential candidate to see them as a worldview all its own – a kind of creed that explains Mitt Romney. Those who say he has no principles are selling him short.

Despite its contradictions and ellipses, Romneyism has an internal coherence. It is different from conservatism, because it does not intend to conserve or protect any particular institutions or values. It is also distinct from  Republicanism, in that it is not rooted in traditional small-town American values, nationalism, or states’ rights.

The ten guiding principles of Romneyism are...click to continue.




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Voter Suppression Kicks Into Overdrive



Voter intimidation methods that were dusted off in 2008 have been buffed to a blinding sheen in 2012 by groups connected to the Republican party or by actual elected Republicans.

The FBI is Investigating Florida Voter Intimidation, Emily Deruy, abc news, October 25, 2012.

The New York Times notes that the Republican Party came under fire after suspicious voter-registration applications were submitted in ten Florida counties by a company run by Nathan Sproul, a Republican who has been dogged by allegations of voter fraud.
Florida law enforcement officials have been investigating multiple claims that registrations used false addresses or dead people's names.
As the Times reports, Sproul's companies have collected more than $17.6 million from Republican committees, candidates and the Super PAC "American Crossroads." And the Republican Party paid Sproul about $3 million this year to work in five states before severing ties with him following allegations of voter-registration fraud.
Sproul did not respond to a request for comment.

How GOP Voter Supression Could Win Florida for Romney, Tova Andrea Wang, Salon, October 25, 2012.

Florida Republicans launched their plan to make voting harder in 2011 when they effectively shut down community-based voter registration drives, responsible for registering hundreds of thousands of new voters every year. The Legislature and governor pushed through a law imposing onerous requirements and procedures on organizations seeking to conduct voter registration drives and steep fines for noncompliance. Nefarious outfits such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote were forced to completely shut down their registration activities.  At the same time, a teacher who brought registration forms into class for her seniors turning 18 was charged with violating the law.

What made the change in the voter registration law so particularly suspicious is that community groups focus most often on youth and minority and low-income communities, whose opportunities to register are more limited. In 2008, for example, while only 6.3 percent of white Floridians registered to vote through registration drives,  12.1 percent of Latinos and 12.7 percent of African-Americans did.
A judge recently put a halt to the new requirements, ruling them “burdensome” and “harsh and impractical,” not to mention unconstitutional. But the damage has been done – mostly to Democratic voters. The number of Democrats in the state who were registered to vote increased by only 11,365 voters from July 1, 2011, to August 1, 2012. In 2004, nearly 159,000 new Democrats were registered in that period. In 2008, the number was nearly 260,000. Remember: 537 votes.


True the Vote has said it is mobilizing one million poll watchers to go to voting places across the country. The problem, critics said, is that those watchers are mostly white and many of the polling places they target serve mostly black or minority voters.
In 2010, people in Texas complained that poll watchers who were affiliated with True the Vote were being overly aggressive and intimidating. According to Douglas Ray, the senior assistant county attorney for Harris County, Texas, the county where Engelbrecht lives, there were several complaints of True the Vote volunteers being disruptive to voters.
Ray said he went to the True the Vote offices and saw push pins on a map that he interpreted as the group's intention to target specific minority areas. This year, he said, his office has already received complaint calls about True the Vote volunteers at early voting locations.
The county attorney's office directed "Nightline" to an early voting location in Houston where there were Caucasian poll watchers in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, where citizens have already begun to complain.
Despite all the controversy the group has kicked up, study after study -- by the U.S. Department of Justice, investigative journalists and a bipartisan commission -- has found voter fraud to be virtually non-existent.

Bullies At the Ballot Box:Protecting the Freedom to Vote Against Wrongful Challenges and IntimidationLiz Kennedy, Tova Wang, Anthony Kammer, Stephen Spaulding, Jenny Flanagan,September 10, 2012.

Now active in 30 states, True the Vote has made it clear that it intends to ratchet up its activities in 2012.13 The group is coordinating efforts throughout the country to purge the voter rolls, issue citizen challenges to registrations based on its own criteria and recruit poll watchers for Election Day. At its annual 2012 conference, leadership of the group announced that it “anticipates training 1 million poll watchers around the country for this year’s election.”14 In itself the training of poll watchers might not be worrisome, but the inflammatory language used to inspire this group of volunteer activists makes it so.
For instance, True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, has said “we see again with this administration . . . it’s just stunning the assault on our elections that we’re watching gain steam with every passing day, so we found ourselves to be unwittingly on the front lines of an issue that I think will be the inflection point for this election.”15 A reporter attending True the Vote’s Colorado State Summit described how one speaker told the crowd that “they should enjoy bullying liberals because they were doing God’s work. ‘Your opposition are cartoon characters. They are. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate,’ he intoned. ‘You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars.’”

Eleventh Hour Voter Suppression Could Swing Ohio, Ari Berman, The Nation, November 4, 2012.

“Our secretary of state has created a situation, here in Ohio, where he will invalidate thousands and thousands of people’s votes,” Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgessOhio, said during a press conference at the board of elections in Cuyahoga County yesterday in downtown Cleveland. Added State Senator Nina Turner: “‘SoS’ used to stand for ‘secretary of state.’ But under the leadership of Jon Husted, ‘SoS’ stands for ‘secretary of suppression.’ ”

GOP's push to suppress vote threatens the democracy, Ilyse Hogue, CNN, November 4, 2012.

This election year is the culmination of years of Republican efforts to foment confusion and fear to keep certain Americans from voting. That is a subplot of this election, but one that will have massive consequences. In close and bitterly fought elections, there's far more at stake than who occupies the White House: Americans' belief in the integrity of our democracy hangs in the balance.
These efforts are pernicious, pervasive and professionalized. In a recent New Yorker article, Jane Mayer profiled Hans von Spakowsky, a legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who has been hyping the myth of voter impersonation fraud since 1998, despite mountains of evidence refuting his claim. (The Brennan Center for Justice has concluded that many more people are struck by lightning than commit in-person voter fraud.) Rep. John Lewis -- a civil rights hero who bled to get all Americans the right to vote -- describes von Spakowsky as waking up every morning thinking "What can I do today to make it more difficult for people to vote?"
Spakowsky is a close adviser to True the Vote, a Houston-based organization funded by wealthy conservative donors that has led challenges against the registration of minority voters across the country.

Voter Intimidation Fears Renewed As Election Nears, Jack Feeley and Kristofer Rios, abc news, October 19, 2012.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has monitored the progress of state bills that could limit or restrict citizens from voting and found a sharp increase in the last two years. In some instances, the Brennan Center partnered with civil-rights groups to challenge these laws. Many of the state bills that were passed have since been blocked by court injunctions or overturned, because states have failed to prove that the laws would not have a discriminatory effect on voters.
But restrictive laws are not the only hurdle some voters have to get over. Several conservative grassroots organizations like True the Vote, a Tea Party group, used voter fraud concerns as a reason to challenge students' and minorities' voting rights throughout the country. For example, in June, True the Vote volunteers harassed students during Wisconsin's recall election by citing concerns that students were violating a state photo ID bill that was already blocked by two judges.
In recent months True the Vote has also challenged thousands of voting registrations, and held rallies across the country to train and recruit so-called poll watchers.

It is not just imperative that Americans "get out the vote" this year, but it is now necessary to ensure that citizens' legal right to vote is protected from a campaign to disenfranchise even longtime voters with no reason to think their voter registration would be problematic. Seniors, disabled citizens who do not and cannot have a driver's license, and millions of poor working Americans - for whom acquiring the notarized documentation, filling out the legal paperwork, paying fees and taking time away from their jobs to file for government IDs present insurmountable hurdles - all face potential disenfranchisement in the upcoming election.

Republicans continue to argue disingenuously that they are protecting voter rights by placing more and more roadblocks in the way of the poor, the elderly and the disabled because, they claim, they are protecting us all from potential voter fraud. Repeated studies and investigations into voter fraud have proven that it isexceedingly rare, and that the threat that potential voter fraud poses to the electoral process is minimal. Conversely, the potential for harm to the democratic process resulting from voter suppression practices is very high. In third world countries, American observers stand by to ensure that evidence of voter intimidation and suppression can be recorded and publicized. Who is watching out for the same thing in the USA?

This is a democratic Republic and it is the right and the duty of citizens to protect our own rights and freedoms. Knowledge is power, but action is even more powerful. Let's start paying attention, spreading the word, and mobilizing our fellow citizens to hold our government representatives accountable when they overstep the bounds and try to impede our right to vote.

ACLU on voter suppression:
"During the 2011 legislative sessions, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely."

Rolling Stone   Ari Berman's excellent article on Florida's purge of voter rolls to suppress Democratic vote:
"Imagine this: a Republican governor in a crucial battleground state instructs his secretary of state to purge the voting rolls of hundreds of thousands of allegedly ineligible voters. The move disenfranchises thousands of legally registered voters, who happen to be overwhelmingly black and Hispanic Democrats. The number of voters prevented from casting a ballot exceeds the margin of victory in the razor-thin election, which ends up determining the next President of the United States.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it happened in Florida in 2000. And twelve years later, just months before another presidential election, history is repeating itself."

CBS  Lucy Madison reports of mass mailings and robo-calls falsely telling voters that they should not or could not vote in the June 5 Wisconsin recall election.
"(CBS News) As voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, reports out of the state suggest that robocalls are being placed informing voters, falsely, they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition.
There have also been reports of mailings going out to voters telling them they can't vote unless they did so in 2010, and of people going door-to-door telling voters they don't have to go to the polls if they signed the recall petition, both of which are also untrue."

Raw Story offers a disturbing national roundup of stories from numerous states whose Republican governments are pulling out all the stops to disenfranchise voters. One excerpt (from LAWeekly):
"In a brazen attempt to steal this fall's election, Florida's Republican lawmakers have outlawed voting on Sunday, an African-American tradition. Indeed, across the United States, from Montana to Maine and Texas to Tennessee, 41 states have recently passed or introduced laws to restrict voter registration and early voting, and generally limit suffrage.
It's the greatest show of racially fueled political chicanery since turn-of-the-century laws banned scores of African-Americans from casting ballots. More than 5 million voters — largely nonwhite — could be kept from the polls, according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice:
'State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws that could make it significantly harder for as many as 5 million eligible Americans to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting'. "

Don't be caught off guard by voter suppression tactics. Go online and be sure that your voter registration is secure and that you will not be disenfranchised this November.  Here are some handy links to information and resources:

FAQs About Voting, Smart Voter (League of Women Voters).

USA Gov. page on voting information, including a link to voter registration deadlines by state and easy-to-navigate information links to answers for frequently asked questions about voting, registration, voting from overseas, working on elections and trouble-shooting.

USA Gov Resources for voters

Brennan Center of Justice Election 2012, information for voters and resources for assistance with barriers to your right to vote.

It is time to recognise  the danger of ideologically-driven "news" and talk radio; people listen to the lies, the fear-mongering and the demonization of "others" and they believe it.  The Republican base believes that they are under attack by dark forces from the "other side". Not just an other side with whom they do not agree, but literally an evil, foreign OTHER side bent on destroying "their" beloved America. Throw in a Bible-based "great commission" to bring the whole country to Christianity by any means, and we see that lying and intimidation to serve that "higher purpose" is easy for true believers to do.

Will Americans allow their religious and political ideology to destroy democracy?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oh, Sandy! Why You Make Mitt Look Foolish?

























The line is:
 “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans (13 second pause)
And to heal the planet (3 second pause)
My promise is to help you and your family.”

Watch it carefully because the delivery is a meticulously choreographed mime. Romney breaks his gaze from the audience, and does a little eyes to heaven, lip biting act that is all about communicating clearly to the audience that this is not a podium style rhetorical pause ( such as “think not what your country can do for you…….) but a Jack Benny stand up comedy pause. The body language suggests that he is like a long suffering but resigned parent holding in his real views about the President’s ‘stupidity’.  Watch it and see what I mean. 
George Marshall, Climate Change Denial, August 31, 2012. (see video below)


The news from the northeast this morning is both uplifting and sobering. The people of New York and New Jersey have surged into recovery mode with energy and determination. Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast harder than any other storm in memory, and yet this morning public transportation services have all reopened (the fare is free for the next couple of days!): bus service is 80% back on the streets, limited subway service has begun again and the Amtrak train service is also up and running, albeit with limitations in the hardest hit areas. If it isn't under water or hasn't suffered severe flood or storm damage, the people of the northeast are putting it back to work! That is the spirit of American resilience. It is also - crucially - the effect of a well-prepared and well-funded public infrastructure. My hat is off to the people who were affected by Sandy all through the eastern half of the country.

I wrote earlier this month about the danger of the willful blindness - some would call it criminal negligence - of those unholy allies: corporate special interests and the religious right. Scientists, environmentalists and thousands of ordinary citizens have recognized for decades that human lives on this planet are in peril and that we must take action to reverse the damage before it is too late. But powerful lobbies of energy corporations - backed up by religious hardliners with an eschatological agenda - embarked on a systematic campaign of climate change denial. In a self-serving exercise which may go down in history as the worst ever crime against humanity, they succeeded in suppressing the scientific data, creating an utterly false "controversy" and undermining the scientific community's effort to warn the world.

And we have been allowing it to happen.

Mitt Romney's sarcastic jab at the President about sea level rise - not to mention his party's enthusiastic laughter - points to a kind of insanity which has infected American society like a relentless and deadly virus. The tragedy of it all is that we knew better. We know better. We had the science and we had the engineering know-how to slow down the greenhouse effect which has accelerated the earth's natural warming cycle so precipitously. We have (or at least we did have) the ability to slow global climate change - maybe just long enough to develop coping strategies for the new age of melted polar ice and increasingly violent storms, droughts and deluges - but we have allowed plutocrats to call the shots, using religious fanaticism to sway enough voters to defeat greenhouse gas mitigation initiatives.

The United States has always had a dangerous vulnerability in that the vast swathe of good, sensible moderate Americans have always had a fatal blind spot: uncritical respect for religious belief. We have always given religion too much credit as a force for "good" in society, even when it is blatantly perpetrating evil.  Perhaps to protect our own cherished religious identity, we have been too willing to ascribe extreme and harmful religious beliefs to fringe groups out there somewhere who are not "real Christians" like ourselves or anyone we actually know.

What we keep forgetting is that effective religious leadership and indoctrination can transform millions of followers into foot soldiers for evil. We forget that authoritarian movements in the 20th century appealed to religious belief to justify their vicious regimes, yet the ordinary people - believers all - had little sense that it was they who had allowed evil to happen. Religious belief suspends moral judgement. It opens the door for scriptural justification of immoral behavior - everything from lying to mass murder can be justified by the Bible - and lets in opportunists who intend to cash in on that fact.

In The United States thirty years ago, those opportunists were energy corporations and other special interests who stood to gain from climate change denial and Christian Dominionists who, with corporate financial backing,  hoped to gain power enough to completely control the United States and eventually the world. Corporations had money for climate change denial campaigns, but needed popular support to get business-friendly congressmen elected. Christian Evangelicals had the potential to rally millions of voters and a religious zeal for Christian Dominionism which saw opportunity in corporate financial backing for their proselytizing effort. In the early days of the global environmental movement, energy plutocrats joined forces with ambitious Christian evangelicals under the Republican party banner to further their separate goals through political power.

More than a generation has passed since that unholy alliance was forged by the Reagan Republicans. That political victory ushered in a new era of corporate deregulation and religious infiltration into the public sphere. While huge corporations enjoyed historic tax cuts and corporate welfare, draining the public coffers on one side, Christianists' power grew through schools, colleges and the homeschooling movement (rejuvenated and expanded in the Reagan era). The reality-denying, Bible-based belief system was disseminated throughout the culture eventually moving into the mainstream as the religious influences on education, media and the public perception of reality became ubiquitous and seemingly unstoppable.

We let down our guard against the dark underside of religious belief. We stood by smiling tolerantly as religion quietly and stealthily renewed its campaign to take over western society. On some level, most of us know that religion has ferociously demanded to rule the world for most of human history, yet, how quickly we 'forget' when challenging Christian Dominionism might threaten our own cozy Christian identities!  How easily we believe that "American Exceptionalism" means that destructively radical religion cannot happen here.

We did not protest as religion attacked science in schools and in society, even as the theories and scientific discoveries - truthful reality upon which nearly all of modern medicine and technology are built - were being treated as mere rival "beliefs" to the supernatural Bible-based mythology of the religious.  We did not point to the hypocrisy and irrationality of religious extremists both using modern medical research and claiming that the science upon which it rests is false. We allowed false religious mythology to be injected into public education as science, misleading a generation of schoolchildren and undermining our ability to compete in the world of technological and scientific progress while we pretended that Christian fundamentalism was a fringe movement and a benign one at that. Thanks to the gutting of public education and the rise of "Christian" schools, nearly half of all Americans no longer accept the theory of evolution, deny global climate change is happening and believe that the world will come to an end during their lifetimes.

These people will vote Republican, the party which is owned by the energy corporations in whose interest it remains to limit environmental protection laws and to deny that human-assisted global climate change poses a real threat to human life on this planet. They think they can buy their way to safety. What is your plan?

We allowed this to happen. But we can stop it from continuing.

Vote on November 6!

"He didn’t simply dismiss global warming, or reject policies intended to address or mitigate against sea level rise, which is closely tied to global warming. Politicians do those things all the time. It’s ill-informed and irresponsible. But Romney took this a step further: he used the very idea of controlling sea level rise as a mere rhetorical device, a laugh line to mock Barack Obama‘s grandiosity. And he milked it for a few long seconds as the crowd at the Republican National Convention laughed...
 This is becoming a severe social and political problem because so many people around the world, and millions of them in the United States (including Romney’s Boston headquarters) are located along coastlines. Approximately 10% of the world’s population lives at elevations of 10 meters or less above sea level, the Science paper notes, and many of these places suffer from subsidence, erosion, and other problems that hasten their exposure and possible demise.
 The biggest risk here is from storms, which can suddenly pump up sea levels by many meters, with little warning. People like living near coastlines, and, in the U.S. and other parts of the developed world, coastal development has surged in recent years. But most assumptions for development and flood protection assume a certain stability that no longer exists. Denying this (as some state and local governments are doing) is crazy: sooner or later, the people living in these places, and the businesses they built there, will pay the price.
 So Romney’s notion that helping families and protecting communities against sea level rise are somehow diametrically opposed is silly. He knows better."
The polar ice cap is melting and sea levels are rising...
 President Obama has pledged to do something about it.
Mitt Romney pretends he has a direct line to God, and
condescendingly cracks jokes for his base who think they
will be able to buy their way to safety while the rest of the
world can go to hell.
Romney's Rising Oceans Joke, John McQuaid, Forbes, August 31, 2012.

It is also a step change in the way that politicians talk publicly about climate change.  So this is no longer a debate about the science, or  the policy response (as it was under Bush)- it is now a debate about competing versions of reality and fantasy. The line about slowing the rise of the oceans is skillfully chosen as it frames climate change as both a natural cycle and an inevitability. The mocking pause clearly signals that attempts to stop it are therefore a self aggrandising  folly. Here in Britain the resonance would be with King Cnut (Canute) who ordered the tide to stop coming in. I suspect in America is more likely to be with Moses. It is a quote that appears on some Christian Conservative sites as evidence that Obama claims to be the Messiah.
Romney Channels Beck, George Marshall, Climate Change Denial, August 31, 2012.

If you’ve followed the U.S. news and weather in the past 24 hours you have no doubt run across a journalist or blogger explaining why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.
Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy? Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, October 30, 2012.

Is Global Warming Happening Faster Than Expected?  John Carey, Scientific American, October 29, 2012. (excerpt from an earlier article).


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Young Americans Vote!



Thanks to rockthevote for this informative and entertaining video.

Young Americans, you know what you need to do!  Share this video and

VOTE!


Youth Apathetic About Election: Are You Kidding Me?






















Vote as if your future depends upon it 
- because it does!

Youth Engagement Falls; Registration Also Declines, Pew Research Center, September 28, 2012.

Come on, young American adults! Is this really you? I don't believe that!

Does your state have early voting? If so, take advantage of it!

"In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered." (RegistertoVote.org)

Let's do the math: There are more than 300 million citizens of the United States. 30% of 300,000,000 is 90 million people.  Even if only half of those people are over 18 years old and eligible to vote, there would be 45 million eligible voters who have not yet registered to vote.

Come on, young Americans!  Don't be the No-Show cohort!
Among the 70% of eligible citizens who have registered to vote, the number who actually do vote is shockingly low. The per centage of actual voters by age cohort ranges from less than 30% for registered 18-29 year olds, to a high of just over 60% for 60-69 year olds.  There is not a single age cohort from age 18-49 years old which has a voting record of more than 40%.

Why is it that in a nation that fought a historic battle for independence - not to mention the right to representative self-government - so few of the people today actually exercise that right by voting?  In a world where self-government and constitutionally-guaranteed individual freedoms are a rare and precious commodity, it beggars belief that people who have it do not appear to cherish it and fail to guard it vigilantly. The assumption seems to be that gains once made can never be lost. But history teaches another, grimmer, lesson.

"...that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.

There is a lot of talk right now about a tiny cabal of extremely wealthy and influential people pouring billions into the upcoming election in order to ensure an outcome which will suit their own interests and not those of the people of the United States. In a democratic Republic, the idea that wealthy or religious elites could rise to such power and influence that they could establish a de facto feudal economic system and authoritarian theocracy - almost exactly the conditions over which this country fought the War of Independence - could only be possible if a majority of the people allow it to happen, through ignorance, through apathy, through intimidation.

But the American people are made of sterner stuff than that.

Don't just stand there...do it!
When all eligible voters in the country perform their civic duty at every election, and when all eligible voters make it their business to stay informed about the issues that face the nation, then it becomes far more difficult for any one group, no matter how well-organized and determined, to seize control of the government.

Make sure you are registered to vote. Don't assume that you are registered. During the primaries, thousands of people were shocked to discover that their names had been stricken from the voter lists without their knowledge. Florida has purged nearly 200,000 names from its voter list, including seniors and veterans. Pennsylvania is preparing to deny voting rights to nearly 10% of its eligible citizens.

Voter suppression threatens our Republic, but there are still enough voters to put a stop to it, if only every citizen who can vote, does so. There are as many eligible voters who do not vote as there are who do -more, in fact. Voter turnout could potentially be double what it has historically been. The current voter suppression tactics - ambitious though they undeniably are - would not disenfranchise enough people to overcome the will of the people if only the majority would take a stand, register now and vote in November.

Your vote counts. It really is that important.

Remind your friends and family to be sure to register and be sure to vote.

Resources for Eligible Voters:

Can I vote?  Need help with voting? You've come to the right place. This nonpartisan web site was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. Choose a category below to get started.

Rock the Vote   Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.

Our Time.org   Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign to empower and encourage every eligible 18-29 year-old in America to register and vote in local and national elections.

League of Women Voters  The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

Register To Vote. org  In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered. RegistertoVote.org is a nonpartisan organization committed to reaching the remaining 30 percent. We simplify the voter registration process, making it faster and easier for you to get involved and become an active voice in our democracy.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mitt Romney And His "Binders Full Of Women"

Within minutes of the infamous remarks being uttered, this Facebook page was launched. 

























“And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can't we—can't we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.” Mitt Romney, October 16, 2012.

There are good reasons why the interweb was abuzz last night about Mitt Romney's "binders full of women", all of them pointing to a bad, though perfectly justified, debate outcome for the Republican candidate. While it was hardly the only misstep in Romney's testy, truth-challenged performance, it was the distillation of everything that he - and the Republican party - believes about the intrinsic inequality of women to men that makes him the worst possible candidate for women voters.

Before we take a closer look through the window into Mitt's attitude toward women, let's look at what he did not say in his remarks.

Katherine Fenton, a participant in the Town Hall audience, asked this question:

In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

In response, Governor Romney had this to say:

Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about (but not nearly enough, apparently), particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.
And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some — some women that are also qualified?".

"Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some
— some women that are also qualified?"
Gee, Governor, can we?
(Fact check: Governor Romney succeeded a woman governor, Jane Swift;  his lieutenant governor was a woman, Kerry Healey, and his opponent in that gubanatorial race was a woman, Democrat Shannon O'Brien - (fun fact!) whom Romney portrayed literally as a dog in his ads during that campaign. His claim of not being able to "find" qualified women rings particularly hollow in light of his equally false claim of bi-partisanship).

And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.

(Fact check: 'What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected'. David S. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.)

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

(Fact check: a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office. Bernstein)

Or, let's have pay equality and improved
access to decent child-care for families
so that parents (usually mothers)
are less burdened and can actually
focus on the careers they love without
being forced to "choose" work or family.
Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce (like, if you really, really, must have women in the workforce and not, you know, at home with 5 or 6 children, right, Mitt?) that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.
She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

(For this nugget of horse hocky, Romney plumbed the depths of cultural gender discrimination by conflating two popular myths about the reasons for wage inequality: the myth that female employees are inherently less reliable and not "team players" like their male counterparts and the myth that unless an enlightened employer hands out special privileges and accommodations, women won't even try for demanding, highly-paid jobs, so they don't deserve them. This is a corollary to the ever-popular "women don't ask for equal pay" myth which studies have proven are false).

We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.

This is not a "women's issue". Bad Republican policies
hurt women, men and the families that both women and
men are trying to support. 
(Indeed. The Great Recession caused by the Bush administration and the financial policies - which both enriched Mitt Romney and continue to be the foundation of his financial vision for the country - have been hard on both men and women. Women, who typically have been relegated to the poorest-paying and least secure jobs (except, at least for now, those in the public sector) have always suffered greater job insecurity. In both single-parent families and in families where women and their partners are struggling together to make ends meet, this is a serious issue for both men and women, and for most American families. Legislation such as the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act might have helped prevent thousands of women and their families from slipping further into poverty, but the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, does not support these efforts, and his party blocked them in Congress).

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

(Got that, American women? The Guv promises that if you will just quit asking awkward questions about fair pay and reproductive security and let him get back to business, he will create such a great economy that all those employers out there will overlook your deficiencies and special needs and hire even you! Awesome.).


This is what I have done. It's what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.

(Really? "I know what it takes to make an economy work" What is that, exactly? The question was "How are you going to address inequalities in the workplace?" and you have neither answered that question, nor explained how you expect to create your "new economy". Governor, you're a little too long on "just trust me, you don't need to know what I know",  and much too short on specifics).

Actually, Governor, women already know what they need
to succeed: affordable education, wage parity, reproductive
freedom and social support for American families.
Wait, we already have a president who understands that! 
I'm going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

(You still haven't answered the question, Governor. How are you going to float this "stronger economy" within which, we presume, all boats (even those with flighty female skippers) will be lifted? And, again, what are your new ideas to address pay inequity?).

Mitt Romney may or may not actually "know" what needs to be done to fix the economy and to address the inequalities in the workplace, not just for women but also for millions of men who have also been denied a level playing field in the workplace. He may know, but he has no intention of doing what it will take.

Working toward economic equality for women - and for most men, too - is not Mitt Romney's goal. It never has been his goal, and it certainly is not the goal of his backers in the moneyed elites. This is a continuation of the 47 % narrative. Romney believes that like his 47% who will never "take personal responsibility and care for their lives", women are not getting good jobs because they don't try hard enough to get them. Romney thinks that like the 47% whom he says "believe they are victims...who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing", women want everything handed to them. He barely hid his opinion that women demand special treatment in the workplace - like the right to leave the office before 7 or 8 in the evening to care for small children; forcing employers to provide "flexibility" like fewer than 60 or 70 hours of time spent in the office each week. "See?" the Governor seemed to say, "I did everything for them, while they did nothing to help themselves."

Romney's blindness to the qualified women who surrounded him during the Gubanatorial race itself and then in the office when he was presented with the "binders" containing resumes of a long list of qualified women - gathered proactively by women's groups in Massachusetts and not by his own people at his request as he claimed - speaks to his apparent habit of neither seeing nor hearing women as peers in his professional life. His claim that his record of hiring female staff was due to his efforts to "recruit" women, not to the initiative and qualifications of the women themselves, and his whining that one of his female staffers asked for what he clearly considered to be special treatment (shockingly, she wanted a workday that ended before 7 or 8PM!) speaks to both Romney's disrespect for women's abilities and his dismissal of the workplace challenges of parents. Presumably no male staffer would have dared to talk about family obligations at all, of course. In the conservative Romney culture of rigid patriarchal roles for women and men, it is women who annoyingly demand special treatment to balance work and family, while men at work must behave as if they have no family obligations at all.

Mitt Romney did not misspeak at that private fund-raiser for his wealthy supporters. He really does believe that at least 47% of Americans are lazy takers who sit around waiting for their government to bail them out of their sloth. Last night, as he struggled to sugarcoat his disdain for women and his disinterest in the question Ms. Fenton asked, everything about Romney - his halting, careful remarks, his patronizing demeanor, his refusal to actually answer the question - pointed to a deeply contemptuous attitude not only toward women, but toward all Americans who are being crushed between the competing demands of scarcer job opportunities (thanks Mr. CEO of Bain, et al) and family responsibilities.

The final irony is that, in a bid to secure more women's votes, Romney threw out the bone of pointedly boasting that he "recruited" women for great jobs in his Massachusett's administration. Such affirmative action goes against not only the Governor's own professed views, but it flies in the face of the ideology and agenda of the conservative right wing that supports him. Mitt Romney has attempted to dodge the issue recently, in the latest of his notorious "flip-flops" - although to be fair, his silence on affirmative action (except when holding it out as a carrot to lure women voters) cannot really be called change.  In this case, it is more like concealment of his true intentions while hoping the issue will go away. Too bad that glib tongue ran away with you last night, Governor!

Why the Republican gender gap mirrors women's pay disparity, Moira Herbst, The Guardian, September 6, 2012.

Mind the Binder, David. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.

Presidential debate transcript, questions, October 16, 2012. Politico staff, October 16, 2012.

Mitt Romney to Gubanatorial Staff: "Find some women that are qualified", Christina Wilkie, HuffPost Business, October 17, 2012.

Mitt Romney's "Binders Full of Women" Comment Sets Internet Ablaze, Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast, October 17, 2012.

ETA:

Mitt Romney's Binders Full of Women is a Trapper Keeper Full of Lies, Sarah Jones, PoliticusUsa, October 17, 2012.

In Debate, Romney Struggled on Substance, Ezra Klein, Washington Post, October 17, 2012.

Romney and the Women Who Still Don't Love Him, Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, October 17, 2012.

The frat boy bully Mitt Romney is coldly furious that he was schooled by that ... oops!  Is that a camera?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's National Voter Registration Day!























You know what you need to do. Remind a friend - and your mom, dad, brothers and sisters and everyone else you know - but most of all, don't just sit there, DO IT!

( Links to more voter registration information at bottom of post.)

"In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered." (RegistertoVote.org)

Let's do the math: There are more than 300 million citizens of the United States. 30% of 300,000,000 is 90 million people.  Even if only half of those people are over 18 years old and eligible to vote, there would be 45 million eligible voters who have not yet registered to vote.

Among the 70% of eligible citizens who have registered to vote, the number who actually do vote is shockingly low. The per centage of actual voters by age cohort ranges from less than 30% for registered 18-29 year olds, to a high of just over 60% for 60-69 year olds.  There is not a single age cohort from age 18-49 years old which has a voting record of more than 40%.

Why is it that in a nation that fought a historic battle for independence - not to mention the right to representative self-government - so few of the people today actually exercise that right by voting?  In a world where self-government and constitutionally-guaranteed individual freedoms are a rare and precious commodity, it beggars belief that people who have it do not appear to cherish it and fail to guard it vigilantly. The assumption seems to be that gains once made can never be lost. But history teaches another, grimmer, lesson.

"...that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.

There is a lot of talk right now about a tiny cabal of extremely wealthy and influential people pouring billions into the upcoming election in order to ensure an outcome which will suit their own interests and not those of the people of the United States. In a democratic Republic, the idea that wealthy or religious elites could rise to such power and influence that they could establish a de facto feudal economic system and authoritarian theocracy - almost exactly the conditions over which this country fought the War of Independence - could only be possible if a majority of the people allow it to happen, through ignorance, through apathy, through intimidation.

But the American people are made of sterner stuff than that.

Don't just stand there...do it!
When all eligible voters in the country performed their civic duty at every election, and when all eligible voters made it their business to stay informed about the issues that face the nation, then it becomes far more difficult for any one group, no matter how well-organized and determined, to seize control of the government.

Make sure you are registered to vote. Don't assume that you are registered. During the primaries, thousands of people were shocked to discover that their names had been stricken from the voter lists without their knowledge. Florida has purged nearly 200,000 names from its voter list, including seniors and veterans. Pennsylvania is preparing to deny voting rights to nearly 10% of its eligible citizens.

Voter suppression threatens our Republic, but there are still enough voters to put a stop to it, if only every citizen who can vote, does so. There are as many eligible voters who do not vote as there are who do -more, in fact. Voter turnout could potentially be double what it has historically been. The current voter suppression tactics - ambitious though they undeniably are - would not disenfranchise enough people to overcome the will of the people if only the majority would take a stand, register now and vote in November.

Your vote counts. It really is that important.

Remind your friends and family to be sure to register and be sure to vote.

Resources for Eligible Voters:

Can I vote?  Need help with voting? You've come to the right place. This nonpartisan web site was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. Choose a category below to get started.

Rock the Vote   Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.

Our Time.org   Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign to empower and encourage every eligible 18-29 year-old in America to register and vote in local and national elections.

League of Women Voters  The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

Register To Vote. org  In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered. RegistertoVote.org is a nonpartisan organization committed to reaching the remaining 30 percent. We simplify the voter registration process, making it faster and easier for you to get involved and become an active voice in our democracy.