Saturday, January 3, 2015

Journalists receive Death Threats from War Hungry conservatives for Criticizing "American Sniper."

My conservative confidant and I have gone our separate ways. What happened? I simply said there's a growing feeling on the right that liberals are threat, and they're using that vilification to justify taking up arms against the government. He wondered where I ever got that impression.

Well, the reaction to Clint Eastwood's film "American Sniper" is the latest and best example yet that sadly proves my point. Raw Story:
Two journalists, Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal, have become the target of death threats and online harassment from conservatives and Tea Party supporters for their criticism of the pro-Iraq War film American Sniper.

Khalek wrote on Friday that she and Blumenthal had aired their grievances with the film, which they see as glorifying the U.S. invasion of Iraq and lionizing a bloodthirsty killer who boasted of his pleasure in gunning down some 160 to 250 Iraqi “savages” during the height of the war.

This “kicked off an endless flood in our Twitter mentions of outraged rightwing military worshippers who’ve whipped themselves into a hateful frenzy out of blind obedience to a mass killer,” Khalek said.

That's dangerous talk from the conservative right that now seems to oppose speech and opposing viewpoints. How long before threats like these not only dampen free speech, but morph into actual vigilante "justice," protecting our "freedoms?"
Michelle Malkin’s site published a piece blasting Khalek and Blumenthal as “American Psychos,” far-left kooks trying to tarnish the memory of a great American. Blumenthal and Khalek were then flooded with death threats and harassment.

From the now-suspended account of one Robert Clemons came the exhortation, “BOTH OF YOU ASSHOLES NEED TO BE SHOT DEAD. DO ALL A FAVOR. GO KILL YOURSELVES.” Clemens also wrote, “@RaniaKhalek it is a DAMN SHAME he never had the chance to target YOU. YOU NEED TO DIE C*NT.”

Here's what some of those tweets looked like:

News Media deplorable, perpetuate false GOP Common Core Narrative that it's a national curriculum ....

Common Core isn't a curriculum, it's a higher standard. But reporters continue to allow the lie to go uncorrected, like in this Washington Post story that legitimizes this absolute nonsense. It does make for a nice debate though. Check out the screen capture below and the last paragraph, with no correction:

Friday, January 2, 2015

The best fire pit ever: "Now you too can watch the Death Star go up in flames."

A little late for Christmas, but still, if you've got gads of extra cash left over why not splurge on this?

The Force is strong with an 84-year-old New Mexico man, Kenneth Triplett, who recently whipped up a steel fire pit made to resemble the Death Star from "Star Wars." He did so at the request of his granddaughter, a Reddit user named Jennifer Allison. “He has little knowledge of 'Star Wars' or just how awesome this is," she said.

Other people seem to know exactly how awesome it is. In fact, the fire pit proved to be so popular Allison soon threw up an Etsy page that lets anyone who wants to peer into the fiery heart of the Death Star get their very own version. It'll cost $1,600 plus between $300-$600 for shipping to US destinations only, but really, what price can you put on being able to tell your friends that you're firing up the Death Star in your backyard tonight?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

GOP Predictions as Wrong as their Trickle Down Economic plan.

Think Progress reminded all of us how wrong Republicans were about the economy and just about everything else. And we're supposed to trust them with the economy now?
4 Things That Were Supposed To Happen By 2015 Because Obama Was Reelected
1. Gas was supposed to cost $5.45 per gallon. Gingrich said he would reduce gas prices dramatically by reversing Obama’s energy policies. Gingrich flanked himself with campaign signs promising $2.50 gas if he was elected. Today, the nationwide average for a gallon of gas is $2.24.

2. Unemployment was supposed to be stuck at over 8%

3. The stock market was supposed to crash: Donald J. Trump tweeted: "The stock market and US dollar are both plunging today. Welcome to @BarackObama’s second term."

4. The entire U.S. economy was supposed to collapse: Rush Limbaugh predicted that “the country’s economy is going to collapse if Obama is re-elected.” Limbaugh was confident in his prediction: “There’s no if about this. And it’s gonna be ugly. It’s gonna be gut wrenching, but it will happen.”

Walker emails expose his "dark side" agenda.

Remember, the public was never expected to see the Scott Walker campaign emails, so when they joked about their "the dark side" messaging system it couldn't have been more ironic and foreboding. 
jsonline: Scott Walker’s Milwaukee County staff had a code name for his gubernatorial campaign with which they secretly coordinated strategy and messaging nearly every day: “the dark side.”

The winking reference appears several times in emails that are among some 227,000 pages of records released Tuesday … many of the messages were sent using private email accounts. County staff also used private emails to conduct campaign business and communicate with Walker and his campaign staff, sometimes during regular working hours.

In one email from September 2009 with the subject line “county vs. dark side,” Walker’s county spokeswoman, Fran McLaughlin, warned Walker chief of staff Tom Nardelli and campaign manager Keith Gilkes about not crossing the two email systems. “I think a REALLY STRONG reminder needs to go out to everyone on the list that NO emails from the dark side can be forwarded

Republican Party's inclusive agenda includes White Supremacists.

After seeing Speaker John Boehner and others standing up for Rep. Steve Scalise, a guy who spoke to a group of white supremacists, I knew this was code for "welcome racists one and all." Republicans are going for all the apples this time around, thanks to our newly gerrymandered nation, and they're not shy about it.  

Love the title of the following article, and loved 2 ways to know you’re speaking to white supremacists. I mean really, the name of the group wasn't a dead giveaway?  
Steve Scalise, the third highest-ranking Republican in the House, said he couldn’t recall the speech and had no idea who these people were. And really, how are you supposed to know these days.

But let’s consider a few useful guidelines for knowing when you've got a problem: 
1. The group was founded by David Duke. 

3. The name of the group is the European-American Unity and Rights Organization: This is so nonsensical, really, that I had trouble even typing it without looking it up three times. Actually, Duke originally called the group the National Organization for European-American Rights, or NOFEAR, but then the sportswear company “No Fear” filed a trademark infringement suit against him, and it turned out that Duke had maybe just a little fear, because he quickly changed the name to EURO. Currencies don’t sue.

Despite Scott Walker, Health Care Exchanges helping more Wisconsinites get coverage.

The ACA’s health care exchanges have been a big success so far, as more people take responsibility and control of their insurance choices.

There is one big dark cloud on the horizon; the conservative activist Supreme Court might decide those using the federal exchange, not the state run exchanges, won’t get any tax credits or help paying down their premiums. That would end reform in those generally Republican states. Add this possible decision to corporate personhood, speech is money, guns for everybody, corporate religion, and “not so burdensome” hoops to jump through to simply vote, and you can see why. Come to think of it, they've been more destructive than any congress in recent memory.

Here are the health care exchange details for Wisconsin, despite Scott Walker intentional roadblocks: 
jsonline-Guy Boulton: In the first month of the open-enrollment period, 92,398 people in Wisconsin selected health plans on the marketplace … Slightly more than four out of every 10 of those people — 42% — bought plans for the first time on the marketplace. The remainder re-enrolled in a plan. The 92,398 people who signed up for a health plan on the marketplace in Wisconsin don't include people automatically re-enrolled in their current plan … An estimated 130,000 people in Wisconsin bought health plans on the marketplace during the first open-enrollment period.

Nine out of 10 people in Wisconsin who bought health plans on the marketplace as of Dec. 15 qualified for federal subsidies to lower the cost. That was up slightly from 88% in the last enrollment period.
As more people understand the process, the more willing they’ll be to sign up. And it’s also a chance
to educate the public, showing them just how bad this private insurance system is, even after reform. It’s not just insurers either, since device and drug makers are allowed to charge whatever they want. Some say “that’s the free market,” but is it? The fact that the government can’t negotiate a better bulk deal on drugs raises the cost to taxpayers who are paying for Medicare and Medicaid, not to mention their own company or private business health care insurance.
Chris McArdle, a broker with the Rauser Agency, which has offices in Milwaukee and Mequon said, "People are more comfortable with it. It was a much more engaged marketplace."
And for small businesses, the exchange will dramatically bring down prices, all the while keeping them competitive with big business benefits.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Junk Food for Kids Lunches, but not for Low-Income Food Stamp Recipients.

Many Republican dominated states have taken aim at what can only be called big government control over what people on food stamps can buy. They say it's something about not wasting taxpayer money on the purchase of junk food.

But wait a minute. Aren't Republicans trying to reinstate serving junk food in school cafeterias, food that are also paid for by taxpayers? Not only that, they say districts can't afford the more expensive healthier food. Oh really, and the poor can with their limited amount of food stamps?

Again, Republican ideology is trying to have it both ways, with the help of the news media that hasn't said a peep about this amazing contradiction. Here's what our new big government Republicans are saying about school lunches:
As the opening bell sounds for the 114th Congress, don’t be surprised to see GOP lawmakers take on school nutrition … included provisions to allow states more flexibility to exempt schools from the Department of Agriculture’s whole-grain standards if they can show hardship and to halt future sodium restrictions 
But those same high salt foods are the target of our hypocritical GOP food stamp Nazi's. One Borg-like follower, tax attorney Jay Miller, summed it up nicely this way:
(Some) argue that having the government regulate food-buying decisions is condescending or paternalistic. They are using food stamps, i.e., government funds, which cost taxpayers over $60 billion per year. Given this investment, the government has an obligation to ensure that the program - which is designed to improve, not harm, the health of low-income people - fulfills its purpose.
But school lunches are exempt? Beautiful. Miller assumes low-income people can afford healthy foods, but congressional Republicans whine taxpayers can't afford those same foods for school lunches? 
...sparking complaints among schools and Republicans who argue the rules are too prescriptive and costly.
Here's Millers diatribe that mirrors every other Republican lawmaker trying to have it both ways:
Whether it is cirrhosis of the liver, lung cancer or diabetes, the government should not be an enabler (Except when it comes to school kids?) 

When it comes to food stamps, however, the government seems to be saying that candy or chips are of equal nutritional value to grapefruit or fresh spinach. 
And to make things worse, food stamp recipients will have to wait for local convenience stores to start stocking the expensive health foods because demand will eventually force them to carry it: 
We know that purveyors of fried chicken, pizza and burgers line the commercial streets of the inner city, whereas merchants offering healthier products rarely can be found. But if government were to mandate that food stamps could be exchanged only for such products, the marketplace would respond by making them more available there.
Our meddling big government food watchdogs want to save us from ourselves, except in schools, where taxpayer money usurps the health of our children:
Although government can't stop people from engaging in self-destructive behavior, it shouldn't abet that behavior, either. Where, as with food stamps, government's goal is to combat hunger, it ought to avoid policies that substitute one health problem for another.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

GOP quietly conditions right wingers to kill Liberals?

This isn't a new revelation by any stretch. The whole concealed carry movement wasn't just based on an imagined right guaranteed in the constitution, it was also push back against those repressive big government socialist passing gun control laws. The most blatant was the tea party candidate threatening "2nd Amendment remedies" if lefties didn't give up their agenda.

Close to Home Liberal Vilification: Governor Scott Walker is openly using the his recall petitions to black list anyone who tried to remove him from power. Liberals are the enemy. Add to that those unqualified "liberal activist" judges (they actually say they want conservative judges) and socialist propagandist teachers in our public schools. Vilification is now standard issue group think for Republicans. And that means anything can happen, like this from Raw Story:

Just another isolated incident? Not a chance, and the numbers are no doubt growing.
Police in Clarkstown, New York have confiscated a cache of high-powered weapons and body armor from a man who was arrested for posting death threats against against many Democratic politicians and every liberal supporter of President Barack Obama.

According to WCBS, 49-year-old Larry Mulqueen was arraigned on Thursday. Mulqueen’s landlady had tipped off police after she found a “hit list” posted on Facebook that threatened Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and all members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Facebook posting said that all of the president’s follower were “traitor scum” and promised “death to them all.” 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ah, Dynamic Scoring and the Magic of Trickle Down Economics about to transform the Country....

From Common Dreams, I thought this description of trickle down economics by Robert Reich said it all. I've also included the video admission by Alan Greenspan that deregulation and trickle down was a failure, for those still not convinced. Tax cuts and deregulation are conservative concepts that go hand-in-hand. Our incoming Republican majority will be doubling down on their past failures. They're going to make this work if it kills us:  

Reich: According to reports, one of the first acts of the Republican congress will be to fire Doug Elmendorf, current director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because he won’t use “dynamic scoring” for his economic projections. Dynamic scoring is the magical-mystery math Republicans have been pushing since they came up with supply-side “trickle-down” economics.

It’s based on the belief that cutting taxes unleashes economic growth and thereby produces additional government revenue. Supposedly the added revenue more than makes up for what’s lost when Congress hands out the tax cuts. Dynamic scoring would make it easier to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, because the tax cuts wouldn’t look as if they increased the budget deficit.

Incoming House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calls it “reality-based scoring,” but it’s actually magical scoring – which is why Elmendorf, as well as all previous CBO directors have rejected it.

Few economic theories have been as thoroughly tested in the real world as supply-side economics, and so notoriously failed: Ronald Reagan cut the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent and ended up nearly doubling the national debt. His first budget director, David Stockman, later confessed he dealt with embarrassing questions about future deficits with “magic asterisks” in the budgets submitted to Congress. The Congressional Budget Office didn’t buy them. George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Bill Clinton but then slashed taxes, mostly on the rich. The CBO found that the Bush tax cuts reduced revenues by $3 trillion.

Yet Republicans don’t want to admit supply-side economics is hokum. The CBO has continued to be a truth-telling thorn in the Republican’s side.

The budget plan Paul Ryan came up with in 2012 slashed Medicaid, cut taxes on the rich and on corporations, and replaced Medicare with a less well-funded voucher plan. Ryan claimed these measures would reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office disagreed. His 2013 and 2014 budget proposals were similarly filled with magic asterisks. The CBO still wasn’t impressed. Now that Elmendorf is on the way out, presumably to be replaced by someone willing to tell Ryan and other Republicans what they’d like to hear, the way has been cleared for all the magic they can muster. Or have your benefactors finance “think tanks” filled with hired guns who will tell the public what you and your patrons want them to say. 

One nation under

Like many others, I have often pointed to the preamble to the constitution as a way to solve some of these judicial mistakes:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
But...At the Cornell University Law School website, they wrote this about the preamble that surprised me:
"Courts will not interpret the Preamble to confer any rights or powers not granted specifically in the Constitution."
I'm hoping that's just an opinion. Here's what our conservative justices foisted off on us, without a serious thought of the consequences:
Guns change the equation in so many ways. They make it harder for police to retreat, and more likely that a stand-off that might have been resolved peacefully will escalate. They make it harder for police to give suspects the benefit of the doubt, and more likely that a suspected criminal may not deserve it.

They make it easier for a mentally ill man to forever alter two families' lives in the name of "revenge."

After the killing of New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos over the weekend, it feels perhaps more satisfying to place blame elsewhere: on protesterswho've cried for better policing, on public officials who acknowledge that the protesters' grievances are valid. But both claims deflect attention toward a vague culprit — "anti-police rhetoric" — and away from a more concrete and systemic one: the ever-presence and easy availability of guns. In this country, by contrast, the ubiquity of firearms — the possibility of a gun, legal or illegal, in any coat pocket or waist band — injects a level of tension into police encounters that may be hard to entirely disarm even with the most thoughtful community policing reforms.

In the United States, the ever-presence of guns makes it seem plausible that a 12-year-old boy handling a toy might actually possess one. And it makes it more likely that an officer responding to him would pull his own trigger. The ever-presence of guns also makes it plausible that an officer interacting with a teenager might fear for his life — and act in that fear. And it makes it plausible — even responsible — that communities who often encounter law enforcement feel they must teach their sons how to respond to policemen capable of killing them.

"There’s not a big gun culture in Australia," Geoffrey Alpert, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has studied police use of force there, recently told me. "So the cops don’t have to worry the way our cops do. There’s not always a gun in every encounter. They don’t have to think about that." They're freer to retreat, to reassess, to leave their own weapons holstered.

Republicans Slow Mail Delivery Down, Creating another problem solved by Privatization.

What, the mail is late again? Don’t you just hate the post office, another big government failure?

So far nothing has changed the Republican plan to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service. Forcing the post office to fund employee health and pension plans for 75 years in just 10 short years is bankrupting the service. It’s pretty safe to say most Americans don’t know what’s happening, and are unaware of the upcoming service center shutdowns. When they did know (below), they complained.

That’s bad news, because once service delays starts pissing people off, the public will unjustly blame the post office instead of the GOP’s back breaking requirement.
No matter what Sen. Tammy Baldwin does to try and right this wrong, Republicans will be proven right; government is bad at delivering mail. Despite the intent of the founding fathers, who included the post office in the constitution, Republicans are okay with getting rid of this guarantee.
After continuing to lose billions of dollars in fiscal 2013, the U.S. Postal Service will move forward with plans to close four processing centers in Wisconsin in 2015. The centers to be shuttered are in Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire and the Wausau area.  
Funny, I remember back in 2009 when Republican Representatives James Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan bravely came to the rescue of rural communities and farmers, after they bitterly complained about distribution center closings and the resulting delays of their business mail; products, payments and shipping.  
Milwaukee Journal: As the U.S. Postal Service searches for $2 billion in spending cuts, residents in several Wisconsin communities are objecting to changes at their post offices. Consolidation of mail carriers in Oconomowoc, West Bend, Oak Creek and elsewhere has stirred complaints that mail is being delivered late and that residents feel neglected. In Waukesha, business owners fear that cutbacks in mail collection hours will undermine their ability to conduct business.

Some have found a sympathetic ear in an influential place: their (Republican) congressman. U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan both have intervened successfully on behalf of constituents who were unhappy with planned belt-tightening measures at their post office. In both cases, the Postal Service shelved its plans and re-examined its cost-cutting strategies.

Sensenbrenner ... found the cuts being imposed in southeastern Wisconsin to be too disruptive to customers. "You've got to remind the Postal Service repeatedly that their last name is service," he said.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our reluctant "incidental governor," Scott Walker; getting to be kind of a joke.

I've been having fun pointing out how Scott Walker is never quite dedicated to any particular policy, but is always a reluctant supporter and signer of right wing partisan legislation. I can almost hear him saying, "Okay, I'll sign it just to get it out of the way."

Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy thankfully put together a list of nuisance bills signed into reported by Cap Times' Steve Elbow:
Scott Walker says Republican right-to-work legislation isn't a priority in his tax-cutting, job-creating agenda. Rather, it's a distraction.

But he also said that about a bill eliminating early voting on weekends, making it harder to sue over Indian mascot names, requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion and prohibiting doctors without admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions, all of which he signed into law.

Columnist Bruce Murphy's column Tuesday documents these and other measures Walker has deemed distractions from his jobs agenda, only to give them his full support by signing them into law ... signing a right-to-work bill might be just the ticket to burnish his conservative credentials.

"In reality, Walker has supported such a measure for two decades," Murphy writes. "A right-to-work bill is one more of those pesky, distracting, non-priorities that Scott Walker, with his entire heart and soul, would love to help become law."