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Goodbye ALEC?

September 28, 2014

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 Could it be? Could the radical right’s stranglehold on the GOP be weakening?

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has long been supporting corporate-friendly candidates and writing corporate-friendly laws, with the help of Charles and David Koch and a disturbingly long list of huge corporations. In 2012, however, thanks to ALEC’s support of Stand Your Ground laws – which drew public attention and outrage after the shooting of Trayvon Martin – ALEC lost some big sponsors: WalMart, Coca Cola, Kraft Foods, GE, McDonald’s, and Amazon. Now they’ve lost Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Yelp, thanks to ALEC’s support of voter suppression laws, climate change denial, and their purposeful dissemination of fact-free information about renewable energy.

Now, if you’re a casual observer of news and politics, you probably haven’t heard of ALEC.

And that’s by design, as it turns out. Because many of the same corporations – including those who still haven’t fled ALEC in the wake of their controversial impact on elections and our legislative process – have seeded America’s media outlets (TV, radio, print, and online) with their own CEOs. That’s right. Bigwigs from corporations, the antics of which should be news are deciding which stories get covered, and yes, you guessed it – most of the time they don’t allow coverage of anything that would put their companies in a bad light. This impacts news about climate change, fracking, corrupt big banking, genetically-modified food, trade agreements, military contractors, health care reform, food and drug safety, you name it. The news blackout, of course, also includes connections to ALEC, contributions to political campaigns, laundering of money through various Super PACs, and the general corruption of America’s legislative and judicial branches through a corporate takeover of our elections. Click here for a list of which corporations are controlling your access to news and information.

George and His Dog Salute the Troops

Where was the outrage over W’s doggie-style salute?

More evidence of a possible weakening of the wingnut grip?

Eroding influence. We saw Karl Rove’s “American Crossroads” Super PAC lose big time in the 2012 elections, while 54% of Americans voted to give President Obama another four years.

More people voted for Democrats in 2012 to fill seats in the House (but thanks to gerrymandering and how votes get counted, the GOP retained their majority).

Focusing on insane minutiae. Just this past week, we saw the GOP and its Tea Party nutjobs lose their minds over the President holding a coffee cup while saluting two Marines. Funny how nobody cared that W couldn’t stop snuggling his pooch long enough to give a proper salute when he was in office…

This comes on the heels of Obama wearing… brace yourselves… a beige suit. The humanity!!

Grasping at straws much?

This week’s links:

ALEC Loses Big Corporate Sponsors

ALEC Exposed

Speaking of Sponsors, Let’s Not Forget the Corporate Ownership of American Media

Karl Rove Helped Convict an Innocent Man?

Probably… So Free Don Siegelman!

Outta Here: James Traficant

Say What? Dr. Who Needs Subtitles in America

Build Your Own Tardis




September 21, 2014

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85% of Scottish voters turned up at the polls this past week to decide whether or not Scotland should leave the UK and become its own country. In a typical US Presidential election, fewer than half of eligible American voters show up, and in a midterm election, the percentages are even worse.

Perverts? Wait. No. Pope Francis, on a visit to Albania this week, said religious extremists are perverting religion to justify violence.”  Big difference there. And here’s the quote, in context, juxtaposing current goings-on around the world to the current peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Catholics, and Christians in Albania, a country that’s known more than its fair share of religious oppression and related suffering:

“This is especially the case in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted by extremist groups and where religious differences are being distorted. Let no one consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression!”

You hear that Islamic extremists? He’s talking about you!  But he could be talking about any religious group that uses faith as a weapon to divide people and then uses actual weapons to seek dominance. And virtually every religion has been or is guilty of it, so slamming the Qur’an as a terrorist’s handbook is naive – and dare we say it – stupid. The Bible has been used to justify everything from genocide to slavery to segregation, so it’s hardly an ode to peace and compassion.

Of course, the Pope’s statements could also just as easily apply to anyone who uses religion to confuse and divide people on any number of issues, ranging from education to race to abortion to climate change, the latter being the real threat to our existence. Pitting climate change believers against climate change deniers here in the US is putting people’s lives in true danger – and given that air and water don’t pay much attention to national borders, the entire globe is affected by our ridiculous debate on the subject.

And yes, that’s what we’re saying.

Climate change is a greater danger to our lives than ISIS/ISIL will ever be. Because squabbling over land and religion and history – even when the squabbling includes guns and bombs and video-taped beheadings – will seem like a day at the beach (which will have moved quite a bit, due to rising seas) compared to people fighting over the last drops of clean water and a dwindling food supply, on a planet heated and poisoned to the point that it no longer supports the lives of billions of hungry humans.

So once again, Americans are being led away from what should really concern them – the future of the planet – by media hype of everything from domestic violence involving millionaire athletes to Syrian airstrikes and whether or not we’re already at war again, to the state of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s marriage and their “On the Run” tour.

No wonder Americans don’t see the point in voting.

And speaking of voting, we’re also being distracted by all the talk about the 2016 Presidential election, when our eyes should be firmly fixed on November 4, 2014 - a date that’s less than 2 months away. This midterm election is important (as they all are) because depending on voter turnout, the GOP could end up with a majority in both the House and the Senate. And if you think  President Obama has had trouble getting anything done except by executive order so far, just you wait ’til he’s completely stymied by a corporate-sponsored Congress that – in an utter perversion of their jobs as our representatives – would rather do nothing about anything, and hurt millions of Americans in the process, than let the black man in the white house do the job a majority of Americans elected him to do.

This week’s links:

The Scottish Referendum: The Stay Vote Wins 

CNN Needs a New Calculator 

No Matter How High the Stakes, Americans Don’t Bother to Vote

But It’s a Great Time to be a War Profiteer

Climate Change: A People’s March or a Corporate PR Opportunity?

Naomi Klein’s Optimistic Take on the People’s Climate March 

Or Was It All About Marketing?  

Hey, EU, Get on the Ball! 

Religious Extremists are Perverts?  

Say what?

September 7, 2014

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Language matters. Because pointing and grunting and drawing pictures on cave walls only got primitive humans so far. It turned out we needed words to identify and describe things, so that instead of just waving madly, we could shout “The lion is right behind you!” and save our friend from being eaten. Then, with those basics out of the way, language became a tool for getting people to give us what we want. Because we have words, we can say things like “Pass the salt” when our diner is too bland or “Corporations are people” when the corporate overlords tell the Supreme Court they want to be able to spend freely and determine the outcome of elections.

But we can speak, too. We can say “Enough!” and demand the overturn of Citizens United. Use our links below to find out more, or click here to speak up.

It’s time to use your words. 

This week’s links:

Giving Congress the Ability to Overturn Citizens United:

Senate to Vote on September 9th

How the Congressional Amendment Gained Momentum

Senate Judiciary Votes to Back the Amendment Allowing Overturning of Citizens United

<< Contacting Congress – Call Your US Senators to Ask for Support for the Amendment  <<– Find Your US Senators Here!>>

Hyperbole from the Right:

Charles & David Koch Feel Like They’re in Front of a Firing Squad?

Minimum Wage Increase Leads to Fascism?

Speaking of Speaking:

Grammar & Cultural Identity

The Dark Side of the Subjunctive

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London – His Blog

Pretty Funny, Mr. President:

Obama Photobombs Family Visiting Stonehenge

And He’s a Really Crappy Socialist:

Obama Outperforms the GOP’s Sainted Reagan

Workers of the World Unite

August 31, 2014

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This week’s links:

The History of Labor Day:

Labor Day, First Monday in September

May Day! May Day! International Workers’ Day

To Serve & Protect? Not So Much:

The US Police Kill 400 American’s Per Year

The Militarization of Police

Lots of Links to Militarization of Police

Are We Really Free in the US?

No Pledge? You’re Outta Here

Picking Up Your Kids from School? That’s a Taser-able Offense in the US

10 Reasons We’re Not Really Free

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About ISIS:

You Can’t Talk About ISIS While Wearing a Tan Suit

The History of ISIS

ISIS Supporters Could be Its Downfall

Iraqi News – A Variety of Sources

The EU’s Interesting Regulations:

EU Bans Vacuums that Really Suck

What is a “Metric Martyr”??

Curvy Bananas & Cucumbers – EU Drops the Ban

The Upcoming Scottish Referendum:

Women’s Views of the Referendum Could Impact the Outcome

Scotland Decides: Ongoing BBC Coverage of the Referendum

Another Bucket List

August 24, 2014

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The idea of  “The Bucket List” – the term for a list of things to accomplish before you die - was popularized by the 2007 movie of the same name, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The movie and its message about making good use of one’s time on the planet was inspiring, and for most people, their bucket lists include things like running in a marathon or biking through Europe or finally finishing the screenplay they started writing in college.

For legislators, however, the idea of a bucket combined with a list – the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise funds for ALS research – got a little scary this week when the list of members of Congress who voted to cut federal funding for ALS research made the politicos being doused with ice water look… well, all wet.

It turns out that if you support shutting down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling and then have to vote on ways to cut spending so that your corporate sponsors aren’t mad at you, you look like a jerk when you’re caught engaging in what then becomes a meaningless stunt for charity. For the many Americans who aren’t in Congress, the Ice Bucket Challenge was a true act of kindness, a stunt that did some good by raising money for a worthwhile endeavor. Not so much for people like Tea Party darling Paul Ryan, who in addition to voting to cut research funding, only found it in his heart to donate $100 to the Ice Bucket Challenge fund. Really, Paul? Is that all you could scrape  up?

Now, there are those who’ll say that the real reason that Congress voted to cut the research funding is that private money – not government money taken the tax payers – should go to fund things like medical research and support for those with serious illnesses. That would be in keeping with the right-wing handbook, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, certainly. Screw the people paralyzed and dying from ALS – if people want a cure, they should fund finding it themselves.

Not surprisingly, more of the “f*ck you, I got mine” attitude can be found throughout the news, and our links below are just the beginning. From climate change deniers – who only deny the science because accepting it would be hard on the petroleum, natural gas, and coal industries – to war profiteers banging the drum to become even more involved in Iraq to companies like that routinely abuse their employees, a lot of the 1%-ers and their Tea Party reps in Congress need a bracing bucket of ice water poured over their heads.

Better yet? Let’s give them all a cold slap in the face this November. If the sane and kind among us all turn up at the polls, we can take OUR country back. You know, the country we built by demanding civil rights and a clean environment and a real chance for everyone to make good, happy lives for themselves and their families.

Sounds like a pretty good bucket list. Let’s make it happen.

This week’s links:

Ice Bucket Challenges

This Changes Everything

Amazon: Worse than Wal-Mart

Fake News

Nixon’s Treason

Eisenhower’s Prophecy

Ayn Rand vs Frank Underwood

The Who Loo

Soaking Sarah

Cruel Summer.

August 17, 2014

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I’m on vacation this week, so for the most part, the blog is, too. It’s been a very cruel summer, and it shows no sign of changing any time soon. From the sad demise of Robin Williams to the chaos in Iraq to yet another case of the police murdering an unarmed person, we’ve got the dots you may have missed in the mainstream news. Check out the links below and make the connections. Don and I will be back next week, and Andy will be back with us the following week.

And hey – enjoy the last few weeks of summer… just don’t piss off the police, and you’ll probably be OK.

This week’s links:

Fake News

Is this where it starts?

Robin Williams

What are We Bombing in Iraq?

Nixon’s Treason

Oops. Rick Perry for President

Ted Cruz Tries to Steal Yellowstone for the Kochs

Ayn Rand vs Frank Underwood

Uhh…A Map

The Downton Abbey Anachronism

The Downton Abbey Cast’s Rebuttal

It Must Be True Because We Read it In the Daily Mail

The European Subliminal Use of Penises:

Promises, promises.

August 3, 2014

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Whenever someone takes on the job of serving the public, whether they do so as police or as a member of Congress, they take an oath. Typically, the police say something similar to this, the oath preferred by the International Association of Police Chiefs:

“On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the Constitution, my community, and the agency I serve.” 

Members of Congress swear to “support and defend the Constitution” and we’ve all watched the President take the oath of office, promising to “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But does anyone mean it? You be the judge. From wanton, often racially-based abuse of power by the police to Congress purposely failing to do their job – and in so doing keeping Americans out of work, allowing our infrastructure to continue crumbling, and using immigration tensions to pit the voters against one another but refusing to do anything to solve the problem – it would seem that these public servants forget their oaths and often act in direct opposition to the public interest.  Certainly Eric Garner, NYPD’s most recent brutality victim, didn’t have his public interest served – assuming remaining alive was something he was interested in.

As you watch events unfold in this country – and around the world – remember – as long as any one of us is in danger from the people we empower to carry and use guns, write laws, declare war, collect and spend taxes, you name it – we’re all in danger from them. And any one of us could be on the ground next, a cop’s knee in our back and his forearm cutting off our air – or suffering the legislative equivalent, silenced by “voter ID” laws and gerrymandering, denied equal pay and access to medical services based on gender, or forced to remain hungry and in poverty, because our needs aren’t as important as the desires of billionaires and corporations that pay no taxes.

This week’s links:

Mitch McConnell & Allison Grimes Video – a Candidate’s Playbook?

Or is it more like comedic theater? To Andy, the McConnell/Grimes video seemed a lot like pantomime (British pantomime, known as “panto” – takes familiar fairy tales and children’s stories – Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington and His Cat, Snow White – and injects a bit of vaudeville sensibility, contemporary references and audience participation to create a raucous, noisy entertainment). Here’s his example:

NYPD Brutally Kills a Staten Island Man

New York Medical Examiner Rules Garner’s Death a Homicide

NYPD’s Long History of White Police Killing Black Men and Getting Away With It

How Many Americans Have Been Murdered by the Police? A lot.

The Tea Party Explained: White Police Brutality Against Black Suspects and a Rise in US Racism Overall Are Connected

Russell Brand Hammers Sean Hannity Over His Childish Gaza Rant

Is That a Thing? Congress Votes to Sue the President

Fact or Crap – Why the Bride Stands on the Left, and Other Wedding Tradition Roots


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