NADA

New American Dark Ages

Apr 012015
 

Republicans have a gun to their head and are saying “do what we say or we’ll shoot.” Let ‘em. The not-so-GOP is torn between two masters: the business people who shop for candidates and the base, which votes for loons. Not a strong position going into 2016. However, never underestimate money or lunacy.

Indiana debate exposes Republican divisions | Albuquerque Journal News By Steve Peoples / Associated Press

It is a debate many Republicans hoped to avoid.

But as the backlash intensifies over a so-called religious freedom law in Indiana, the GOP’s leading White House contenders have been drawn into a messy clash that highlights the party’s strong opposition to same-sex marriage and threatens to inject social issues into the early stages of the 2016 presidential primary season.

The debate has also energized Democrats nationwide while exposing sharp divisions between Republicans and local business leaders who oppose a law that critics say allows business owners to deny services to same-sex couples on religious grounds. …

Polling suggests a majority of the American electorate supports gay marriage, but the most conservative Republicans do not.

“It’s a total head-scratcher,” former Illinois Republican chairman Pat Brady said of the GOP presidential hopefuls who defended the law. “We’re trying to attract voters and win elections. We can’t scare people away.”

Yet the Republican 2016 presidential class overwhelmingly defended the new law, breaking with local business leaders in favor of conservatives across the country who cheered such laws as a necessary response to overreach by the Obama administration.

“I think Gov. Pence has done the right thing,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a Monday radio interview. He said the law was “simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday tweeted: “I stand with” Pence, and “Religious freedom is worth protecting.”

“We must stand with those who stand up for religious freedoms,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced his GOP presidential campaign last week, said the Indiana governor was “holding the line to protect religious liberty” in his state.

Some economic-minded Republicans saw it another way. …

Democrats were united in their opposition to the law.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, expected to launch her Democratic presidential campaign in the coming weeks, tweeted last week, “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today.”

Indiana debate exposes Republican divisions | Albuquerque Journal News

Q&A: The debate over the religious freedom law | Albuquerque Journal News By Michael Doyle / Mcclatchy Washington Bureau

Q: Where did the Religious Freedom Restoration Act come from?

A: Peyote, in part. In the 1980s, two Oregon men were fired from their jobs with a private drug organization because they ingested peyote as part of their sacred obligations as members of the Native American Church. The state denied them unemployment benefits on the grounds they had been fired for misconduct.

The Supreme Court, in a 1990 decision authored by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, declared that the First Amendment’s religious protections don’t override “the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability.” As long as a law doesn’t explicitly favor or target religion, Scalia reasoned, it can be enforced even if it burdens someone’s religious practice.

Congress responded in 1993 by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. States began passing their own versions after the high court clarified in 1997 that the federal law did not apply to them.

Q&A: The debate over the religious freedom law | Albuquerque Journal News

 Posted by at 2:33 pm on Wed 04/01/15
Nov 262014
 

Cognitive dissonance: believing government is always wrong but cops and grand juries never are.
Injustice: ignoring Wall Street thieves while shooting shoplifters.

Regarding police violence against the public they serve: I’m starting to wonder if we’re not reaping the harvest of the same seeds being sown in education, the election process, and elsewhere: The goal is to undermine the public’s confidence in the every facet of government, public systems, and the common good. Why? Aside from pure evil, look for who profits. Who profits when we arm and train cops like soldiers? Who profits when we say we can’t adequately patrol the streets? Who profits when we dismantle public education?

Who profits from privatizing everything? Who profits from your fear and your anger? Who profits from a divided nation full of angry and mistrustful citizens? The Profiteers are pulling our strings.

 Posted by at 2:30 pm on Wed 11/26/14
Nov 062014
 

Interesting take from overseas. Read it all at the link.

US midterms: ‘Republicans didn’t win as big as you think they did’ by Gary Younge of the Irish Times

According to a CNN exit poll , eight in 10 Americans disapprove of how Congress has been handling its job, while almost six in 10 are displeased with Obama.

A full 44 per cent have a positive view of Democrats; 40 per cent have a positive view of Republicans. Americans have just elected the party they like the least to run the government body they least trust. Even greater cynicism is the most likely outcome.

US midterms: ‘Republicans didn’t win as big as you think they did’

[hat tip to Pat Lyford]

 Posted by at 2:10 pm on Thu 11/06/14
Nov 052014
 

Just as your freedom of speech is proportional to your bankroll, your vote counts as much as the party in power says. One person, one vote – not so much. And they bray endlessly about voter fraud.

Gerrymandering Rigged the 2014 Elections for GOP Advantage | BillMoyers.com

In 2012, the first congressional election after the last round of gerrymandering, Democratic House candidates won 50.59 percent of the vote — or 1.37 million more votes than Republican candidates — yet secured only 201 seats in Congress, compared to 234 seats for Republicans. The House of Representatives, the “people’s house,” no longer requires the most votes for power.

As the results from this year roll in, we see a similar dynamic. Republican gerrymandering means Democratic voters are packed tightly into single districts, while Republicans are spread out in such a way to translate into the most congressional seats for the GOP.

There are a lot of structural issues that influence congressional elections, from voter ID requirements to early voting access. But what does it matter if you’ve been packed into a district in which your vote can’t change the composition of Congress.

Gerrymandering Rigged the 2014 Elections for GOP Advantage | BillMoyers.com

Corporate Triumphs, Progressive Victories and the Roadmap for a Democratic Revival | BillMoyers.com

After the 2010 Census, Republicans succeeded in redrawing House districts to favor their party, creating increasingly “safe” districts for GOP candidates. The GOP’s control of the majority of state legislatures and governors’s offices gave them an advantage that made it possible to redraw the districts to their liking. In 2012, Democrats won 1.3 million more votes than Republican in all 435 House race – 59.6 million and 58.2 million. In other words, Democrats won 55 percent of the two-party vote but GOP candidates won 54 percent of the 435 House seats. In Pennsylvania, for example, Democrats won 83,000 more votes than Republicans, but Republicans won 13 seats and Democrats won 5 seats. On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Republicans increased their margin to 14 seats. Nationwide, the GOP widened their congressional majority to by at least another 8 seats to 243. This was more a reflection of partisan mapmaking than voter preferences.

Corporate Triumphs, Progressive Victories and the Roadmap for a Democratic Revival | BillMoyers.com

 Posted by at 4:07 pm on Wed 11/05/14
Nov 052014
 

“In 2014, you elected us to bring change to Washington. For the past two years, Republicans have endeavored to move the nation forward but have been stymied by an obstructionist in the White House. We need a Republican President to complete the work of the nation.”

If anything gets past Obama’s veto, it will be an unlikely compromise that Republicans will take 100% of the credit for. Mitch McConnell wrote this game plan years ago.

We need to keep recording and replaying the words of Republicans when they let their masks slip, as Allen Weh did when he spoke of lowering the minimum wage. “So what?,” he intoned with such disdain his voice finally matched his mean ugly mug. That was a perfect echo of Romney’s disdain for the 47% (really, the 99%). These are the scoundrels, the old, rich, white men who aren’t going to let go of power until we tear it from their cold dead fingers. So be it. (Not a call to violence but a play on one of their many bullshit phrases we’ve all memorized through endless replay.) Record every word. Replay them every chance. Bring truth to corrupt, self-serving power. REAL truth, not Fox ‘truth’. They will stumble; the mask will slip again.

 Posted by at 1:01 pm on Wed 11/05/14
Oct 122014
 

Seizures of cash from Americans fuel police spending nationwide

The Washington Post

Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly steps down from the department's Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. © Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly steps down from the department’s Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.

Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.

The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize. The Washington Post obtained 43,000 of the reports dating from 2008 through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents offer a sweeping look at how police departments and drug task forces across the country are benefiting from laws that allow them to take cash and property without proving a crime has occurred. The law was meant to decimate drug organizations, but The Post found that it has been used as a routine source of funding for law enforcement at every level.

“In tight budget periods, and even in times of budget surpluses, using asset forfeiture dollars to purchase equipment and training to stay current with the ever-changing trends in crime fighting helps serve and protect the citizens,” said Prince George’s County, Md., police spokeswoman Julie Parker.

Brad Cates, a former director of asset forfeiture programs at the Justice Department, said the spending identified by The Post suggests police are using Equitable Sharing as “a free floating slush fund.” Cates, who oversaw the program while at Justice from 1985 to 1989, said it has enabled police to sidestep the traditional budget process, in which elected leaders create law enforcement spending priorities.

“All of this is fundamentally at odds with the U.S. Constitution,” said Cates, who recently co-wrote an article calling for the program’s abolition on The Post’s editorial page. “All of this is at odds with the rights that Americans have.”

Of the nearly $2.5 billion in spending reported in the forms, 81 percent came from cash and property seizures in which no indictment was filed, according to an analysis by The Post. Owners must prove that their money or property was acquired legally in order to get it back.

Seizures of cash from Americans fuel police spending nationwide

 Posted by at 1:58 pm on Sun 10/12/14
Aug 312014
 

Leonard Pitts, Jr.: U.S. is exceptional — and stupid, too – Leonard Pitts Jr. – MiamiHerald.com

[W]here gun laws are concerned, the United States of America is — individual dissenting voices duly noted and exempted from the following descriptive — dumber than a bag of bullets. This, after all, is the country where you can take a gun into a bar. Where you can erect a shooting range in your own backyard. Where a blind person can get a gun permit. You think it’s insane that Arizona allows a 9-year-old to shoot at a firing range? ABC News reports that one in Texas allows them to do so at age 6. Six.

God bless America. We legislate against Sharia law in places where there are no Muslims, much less an inclination toward Sharia. We pass laws to curtail election fraud despite the fact that election fraud, as a practical matter, does not exist. Yet we endure a yearly toll of gun carnage that makes civilized people in civilized places shake their heads in wonder and our only action is inaction.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.: U.S. is exceptional — and stupid, too – Leonard Pitts Jr. – MiamiHerald.com

 Posted by at 3:08 pm on Sun 08/31/14