31 May 2012

The many uses of police drones

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Broken Promises: Romney's Massachusetts Record

Victory for voting rights groups as judge blocks key sections of new Florida law | World news | guardian.co.uk

Voting rights groups are celebrating a significant victory against what they claim is the pernicious spread of anti-democratic legislation across America after a federal judge in Florida blocked key sections of a new state law that discourages voter registration drives.

Judge Robert Hinkle slapped down two of the most hotly contested elements of the new law, HB 1355, which he condemned in scathing terms (pdf). He said that a requirement to deliver voter registration applications to a state office within 48 hours was "harsh and impractical".

Hinkle also heavily criticised Florida's imposition of a new form that warns volunteers seeking to register new voters that they face five years in prison if they submit applications including any false information. The judge pointed out that the warning was legally incorrect and concluded that it could only be an attempt on the part of the state of Florida to "discourage voluntary participation in legitimate, indeed constitutionally protected, activities".

Florida is considered to be the ground zero of attempts to restrict voting rights in the US. The state has a long history of such measures, which are made all the more poignant given the exceptionally competitive nature of presidential elections there, not to mention the wrangling over the result in 2000 that brought George W Bush to the White House.

Florida also has a substantial population of older voters, students and African American and Hispanic voters – demographic groups that are disproportionately impacted by restrictions on voter access. In 2008, more than 100,000 Floridians were given the vote as a result of voter registration drives.

Yet several local voter registration groups, including the Florida League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, had to shut down their operations because of the onerous burdens imposed by HB 1355.

"This is a huge win and sends a strong signal to officials in Florida and other states that if you erect barriers to registering voters, we will fight back," said Rock the Vote's president, Heather Smith.

Deirdre Macnab of the League of Women Voters said they would restart their efforts across Florida as soon as they had confirmed that the court's preliminary injunction on HB 1355 had removed the legal risks to which the group's volunteers were being subjected.

The Brennan Center for Justice, which represented the Florida voter registration groups in the federal lawsuit that led to the injunction, has calculated that millions of Americans could be denied their electoral rights as a result of laws creeping across the country. The centre's report, Voting Law Changes in 2012, identifies 20 laws that have passed in 15 states in the passed year, with a further 12 bills pending.

"Those voting law changes are radical and completely unnecessary," said Lee Rowland, a lawyer with the Brennan Center who worked on the Florida case. "They especially hurt those who have been historically locked out of our electoral system – minorities, poor people, and students. Often they seem precisely targeted to exclude certain voters."

In a presidential election year that promises a tight race, any move to whittle down the size of the electorate is certain to be controversial. That is particularly the case as most of the efforts are coming from Republican-held state legislatures, while most of those potentially disenfranchised come from demographic groups that lean towards the Democrats.

This is the danger of the sore losers and whiners of the rabid, radical right.  If the people refuse to vote for them, they'll rig the elections.  Our Republic doesn't matter to them, our way of life doesn't matter to them.  All that matters is their 19th century ideology!

30 May 2012

My Profound Disgust

Droney!

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How Florida Gov. Rick Scott Could Steal The Election For Mitt Romney

On Wednesday, November 7, Mitt Romney could wake up as the President-elect thanks to one man: Florida Governor Rick Scott. With little fanfare, Scott is undertaking an audacious plan to kick thousands of Floridians off the ballot just before this year’s elections. It’s a sloppy, chaotic and possibly illegal plan. But it just might work. Here’s how:
1. Scott has created a massive list of Floridians to purge from the voting rolls before the election. Late last year, Governor Scott ordered his Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to “to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls.” But Browning did not have access to reliable citizenship data. The state attempted to identify non-U.S. citizens by comparing the voting file with data from the state motor vehicle administration, but the motor vehicle data does not contain updated citizenship information. The process, which created a list of 182,000 people, was considered so flawed by Browning that he refused to release the data to county election officials. Browning resigned in February and Scott has pressed forward with the purge, starting with about 2600 voters.
2. The list of “ineligible” voters is riddled with errors and includes hundreds of eligible U.S. citizens. According to data obtained by ThinkProgress, in Miami-Dade county alone, 1638 people were flagged by the state as “non-citizens.” Already, 359 people on the list have provided the county with proof of citizenship and 26 people were identified as U.S. citizens directly by the county. The remaining 1200 have simply not responded to the letter informing them of their purported ineligibility. Similar problems have been identified in Polk County and Broward County.
3. Scott’s list is heavily targeted at Democratic and Hispanic voters. A study by the Miami Herald found that “Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters are the most likely to be targeted in a state hunt to remove thousands of noncitizens from Florida’s voting rolls.” For example, Hispanics comprise 58 percent of the list but just 13 percent of eligible voters. Conversely, “Whites and Republicans are disproportionately the least-likely to face the threat of removal.”
4. Florida election officials have acknowledged that, as a result of Scott’s voter purge, eligible voters will be removed from the rolls.It will happen,” Mary Cooney, a spokeswoman for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, told ThinkProgress. On or about June 9, anyone who hasn’t responded to the ominous and legalistic letter informing them of their purported ineligibility will be removed from the rolls. Some eligible voters won’t have been able to respond by that time due to travel, work obligations, family obligations or confusion as to the purpose of the letter. Some will forget to open it. Others may have moved.
5. Florida will likely be a close contest in 2012 and purging eligible Democratic and Hispanic voters could tip the balance to Romney. In the latest Real Clear Politics average of polling in the state, Romney and Obama are separated by just 0.5 percent. Hundreds of eligible voters in Democratic strongholds, wrongfully purged from the rolls, could easily make the difference for Romney.
6. Winning Florida could clinch the election for Mitt Romney. Nationally, the race between Obama and Romney is within two points. It’s expected to be close all the way to election day and Florida’s 29 electorial votes would be the deciding factor in many plausable electorial scenarios.
Will history repeat itself in Florida this year? By one estimate, 7000 Florida voters were wrongfully removed from the voter rolls for the 2000 presidential election — 13 times George W. Bush’s margin of victory in that state after the U.S. Supreme Court halted the post-election recount.

In Florida, Scott Administration Vows To Accelerate Voter Purge: 'There Will Be More Names' | ThinkProgress

The massive voter purge order by Governor Rick Scott in Florida has been plagued with errors, resulting in election officials notifying hundreds of eligible U.S. citizens that they are ineligible to vote

In response, the Scott administration has vowed to intensify their efforts to remove registered voters from the rolls.

Initially, the state created a list of over 180,000 purported “non-citizens” by comparing their list of registered voters to the state motor vehicle database. The state forwarded about 2700 names from that list to local officials to remove from the rolls. Yesterday, in the face of mouting problems with the limited effort, Scott administration officials made it clear they were just getting started:
Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state Division of Elections, defended the state’s actions. “It’s very important we make sure ineligible voters can’t cast a ballot,” he said in an email to the Herald on Tuesday.
He said the state continues to identify ineligible voters, saying the state Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has agreed to update information using a federal database that the elections division couldn’t access directly.
“We won’t be sending any new names to supervisors until the information we have is updated, because we always want to make sure we are using the best information available,” Cate wrote. “I don’t have a timetable on when the next list of names will be sent to supervisors, but there will be more names.”
It’s unclear how the new procedures alluded to by Cate will solve the systemic problems with the voter purge list. There have been several individuals targeted by the list that have been citizens their entire lives. Therefore, there seems to be a major problems beyond outdated citizenship information.

Moreover, the entire process of database matching to remove voters is problematic. The Fair Elections Legal Network, which is challenging the purge, noted that database matching is “notoriously unreliable” and “data entry errors, similar-sounding names, and changing information can all produce false matches.”

The first list was also created with information accessible to the state motor vehicle administration, which the former Secretary of State Kurt Browning considered so unreliable he refused to release. Browning resigned in February.

29 May 2012

28 May 2012

Mitt Romney's Milk Gaffe

“Well Ken, maybe you can teach the vets to milk cows.”
--Mitt Romney, during his '94 Senate run, to homeless shelter executive director Ken Smith when Smith explained that the State of Massachusetts allocated $2.37 per day twice a day for each homeless veteran’s meal. Since the amount was so meager, the shelter had trouble providing each veteran with a carton of milk at each meal. Romney then walked out the door.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/mitt-romneys-milk-gaffe

Any day now...

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Remarks by the President Commemorating Memorial Day | The White House

Memorial Amphitheater
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
11:39 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please be seated.  Good morning, everybody.  Thank you, Secretary Panetta, for your introduction and for your incredible service to our country.  To General Dempsey, Major General Linnington, Kathryn Condon, Chaplain Berry, all of you who are here today -- active duty, veterans, family and friends of the fallen -- thank you for allowing me the privilege of joining you in this sacred place to commemorate Memorial Day. 

These 600 acres are home to Americans from every part of the country who gave their lives in every corner of the globe.  When a revolution needed to be waged and a Union needed to be saved, they left their homes and took up arms for the sake of an idea.  From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan, they stepped forward and answered the call.  They fought for a home they might never return to; they fought for buddies they would never forget.  And while their stories may be separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they rest here, together, side-by-side, row-by-row, because each of them loved this country, and everything it stands for, more than life itself.   

Today, we come together, as Americans, to pray, to reflect, and to remember these heroes.  But tomorrow, this hallowed place will once again belong to a smaller group of visitors who make their way through the gates and across these fields in the heat and in the cold, in the rain and the snow, following a well-worn path to a certain spot and kneeling in front of a familiar headstone.

You are the family and friends of the fallen -- the parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters by birth and by sacrifice.  And you, too, leave a piece of your hearts beneath these trees.  You, too, call this sanctuary home. 

Together, your footsteps trace the path of our history.  And this Memorial Day, we mark another milestone.  For the first time in nine years, Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq.  (Applause.)  We are winding down the war in Afghanistan, and our troops will continue to come home.  (Applause.)  After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. 

Especially for those who've lost a loved one, this chapter will remain open long after the guns have fallen silent.  Today, with the war in Iraq finally over, it is fitting to pay tribute to the sacrifice that spanned that conflict.

In March of 2003, on the first day of the invasion, one of our helicopters crashed near the Iraqi border with Kuwait.  On it were four Marines:  Major Jay Aubin; Captain Ryan Beaupre; Corporal Brian Kennedy; and Staff Sergeant Kendall Waters-Bey.  Together, they became the first American casualties of the Iraq war.  Their families and friends barely had time to register the beginning of the conflict before being forced to confront its awesome costs.

Eight years, seven months and 25 days later, Army Specialist David Hickman was on patrol in Baghdad.  That’s when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb.  He became the last of nearly 4,500 American patriots to give their lives in Iraq.  A month after David’s death -- the days before the last American troops, including David, were scheduled to come home -- I met with the Hickman family at Fort Bragg.  Right now, the Hickmans are beginning a very difficult journey that so many of your families have traveled before them -- a journey that even more families will take in the months and years ahead.

To the families here today, I repeat what I said to the Hickmans:  I cannot begin to fully understand your loss.  As a father, I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to hear that knock on the door and learn that your worst fears have come true. But as Commander-In-Chief, I can tell you that sending our troops into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make.  I can promise you I will never do so unless it's absolutely necessary, and that when we do, we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation. (Applause.)
 
And as a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that nobody should have to bear alone.  As we honor your mothers and fathers, your sons and daughters, we have given -- who have given their last full measure of devotion to this country, we have to ask ourselves how can we support you and your families and give you some strength?

One thing we can do is remember these heroes as you remember them -- not just as a rank, or a number, or a name on a headstone, but as Americans, often far too young, who were guided by a deep and abiding love for their families, for each other, and for this country.

We can remember Jay Aubin, the pilot, who met his wife on an aircraft carrier, and told his mother before shipping out, "If anything happens to me, just know I’m doing what I love."

We can remember Ryan Beaupre, the former track star, running the leadoff leg, always the first one into action, who quit his job as an accountant and joined the Marines because he wanted to do something more meaningful with his life.

We can remember Brian Kennedy, the rock climber and lacrosse fanatic, who told his father two days before his helicopter went down that the Marines he served alongside were some of the best men he'd ever dealt with, and they’d be his friends forever.

We can remember Kendall Waters-Bey, a proud father, a proud son of Baltimore, who was described by a fellow servicemember as "a light in a very dark world."

And we can remember David Hickman, a freshman in high school when the war began, a fitness fanatic who half-jokingly called himself "Zeus," a loyal friend with an infectious laugh.

We can remember them.  And we can meet our obligations to those who did come home, and their families who are in the midst of a different, but very real battle of their own. 

To all our men and women in uniform who are here today, know this:  The patriots who rest beneath these hills were fighting for many things -- for their families, for their flag -- but above all, they were fighting for you.  As long as I’m President, we will make sure you and your loved ones receive the benefits you’ve earned and the respect you deserve.  America will be there for you.  (Applause.)

And finally, for all of you who carry a special weight on your heart, we can strive to be a nation worthy of your sacrifice.  A nation that is fair and equal, peaceful and free.  A nation that weighs the cost of every human life.  A nation where all of us meet our obligations to one another, and to this country that we love.  That’s what we can do.

As President, I have no higher honor and no greater responsibility than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  And on days like this, I take pride in the fact that this country has always been home to men and women willing to give of themselves until they had nothing more to give.  I take heart in the strength and resolve of those who still serve, both here at home and around the world.  And I know that we must always strive to be worthy of your sacrifice. 

God bless you.  God bless the fallen.  God bless our men and women in uniform.  And may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Memorial day

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Thank you veterans who served in peace and war!

27 May 2012

Israel takes back promise to Obama not to attack Iran before the election — RT

Sources from inside Washington, DC are telling the international media that Israeli leadership is upset with US President Barack Obama’s handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear threat and may take military action before the November election.

The Debka news agency quotes sources from America’s capital that say Israel has withdrawn its earlier promise to avoid striking Iran before the upcoming US presidential election this fall. The reason, reports Debka, heavily revolves around President Obama’s refusal to side with Israel’s demands in dealing with the rumored emerging threat of a nuclear program in Iran.
Previously, authorities in Israel told the White House that they would refrain from striking Iran until after Election Day as to avoid marring the race by possibly involving the US in an international war. Because President Obama has not put his foot down on Iran’s alleged nuclear warhead procurement plan, Israeli officials are not reportedly willing to attack at any moment.

"There is no need to tell us what to do, and we have no reason to panic. Israel is very, very strong, but we do know that the Iranians are accomplished chess players and will try to achieve nuclear capabilities,” reads a translated statement from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered this week in Hebrew. “Our position has not changed. The world must stop Iran from becoming nuclear. All options remain on the table."

Minister Barak offered his statement on May 23, less than a week after attending a meeting in Washington. On May 17, Barak spoke with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon outside of Washington to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran, at which point Debka reports he was told that Obama had rejected the Jewish state’s plea. Debka’s sources say Obama was unwilling to demand that Iran halt their “high-grade uranium enrichment, export its stocks of material enriched higher than 3.5 percent grade and shut down production at the Fordo nuclear plant near Qom.”

Debka adds that, after the meeting with his US counterpart, Defense Minister Barak spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon over the ongoing Iran issue but was unable to have either member of the Obama administration aid in Israel’s plea to sanction Iran.

Previously, President Obama has gone on the record to say that he stands by America’s alliance with Israel and told The Atlantic earlier this year, "I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff.”

"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But (both) governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” added Obama.

President Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Washington back in March during the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, where the Iran issue was a major topic of discussion. Despite urging from overseas, however, the White House yet refused to formally side with any military strikes on Iran.

25 May 2012

Who is the lowest government spender since Eisenhower?




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A. That's right!  Barack Obama!  In your face you lying folks of the radical right!  Ain't facts a bitch!

Meet The Eligible Florida Voter Gov. Scott Just Purged From The Rolls


Maureen Russo was born in Akron, Ohio. For the last 40 years she’s operated a dog boarding and grooming business — Bobbi’s World Kennels — with her husband in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Maureen is 60 years old and has been a registered voter in the state for the last four decades. She regularly votes at the church around the corner from her home.
Two weeks ago she received a letter from the State of Florida informing her that that had recieved information that she was not born in this country and, therefore, was ineligible to vote.

She was given an option to request “an administrative hearing to present evidence” disputing the determination of the State of Florida that she was ineligible to vote. Unless Maureen returned a form requesting such a hearing within 30 days, she was told, it would result in “the removal of your name from the voter registration rolls.”
She immediately sent off a registered letter to the State with a copy of her passport. She hasn’t heard anything back.
It’s unclear precisely how Maureen was identified by the state as an ineligible voter.
Maureen’s story raises serious questions about the integrity of the massive voter purge being conducted under the direction of Gov. Rick Scott. Last year, Scott instructed his former Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to compile a list of people who were registered in Florida but ineligible to vote. Browning resigned in February after struggling to find reliable data, stating “We were not confident enough about the information for this secretary to hang his hat on it.

Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), who represents Ms. Russo, has called on the Governor Scott to “immediately suspend” the voting purge because of widespread inaccuracies and a lack of transparency.

Unfortunately, Maureen’s situation is not an isolated incident. Earlier this week, ThinkProgress reported Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, a Republican, posted a picture on Twitter of a voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport. Congressman Deutch also told ThinkProgress he’s heard from several other constituents who have been removed from the rolls without justification.
It is unclear what legitimate purpose Gov. Scott has to move forward with the voting purge in the face of multiple documented errors. Florida has no history of mass voter fraud. It does have a history, however, of mass voter disenfranchisement. By one estimate, 7000 Florida voters were wrongfully removed from the voter rolls for the 2000 presidential election — 13 times George W. Bush’s margin of victory in that state after the Supreme Court halted the post-election recount.

Drones over US to get weaponized – so far, non-lethally — RT

American police officers may soon be able to use unmanned aircraft not only for surveillance, but also for offensive action. The drones may be equipped to fire rubber rounds and tear gas.
“Those are things that law enforcement utilizes day in and day out, and in certain situations it might be advantageous to have this type of system on the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle),” Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas told The Daily news app as he outlined the possible development.

The US military and CIA have used drones armed with lethal weapons to target militants overseas for years. The prospect of having “lite” versions of those remotely controlled killer-machines circling over America gave some second thoughts to rights groups.

“It’s simply not appropriate to use any force, lethal or non-lethal, on a drone,” Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told CBSDC.

She explained that an officer operating an armed drone from afar would simply not have the same understanding of a situation that an officer on location would have. So judgment on the use of force would be limited by this narrowness of observation.

“An officer at a remote location far away does not have the same level of access,”
she explained.

ACLU is also worried about the general atmosphere of pervasive surveillance that may engulf America as the use of drone technology becomes wider.

“We don’t need a situation where Americans feel there is an invisible eye in the sky,” said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at ACLU.

“The prospect of people out in public being Tased or targeted by force by flying drones where no officer is physically present on the scene,”
Crump added, “raises the prospect of unconstitutional force being used on individuals.”

There are other potential threats of a wide fleet of armed drones operating in a country. For instance, their communication is not tamper-proof, as the recent downing of an American spy drone by Iran showed. So malignant hackers may take over control of a police UAV and use it for nefarious ends.

The US Federal Aviation Administration allowed several public safety agencies to use drones domestically with fewer restrictions last week. UAVs weighting up to 11.3 kilos can now be operated by police, fire and similar departments without special approval.

The step moves forward a campaign for broader use of drones in America, which was launched by Congress in mid-February.

My break with the extreme right - Salon.com

Gosh! When did I end up in bed with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber? Could it be because I did specialize in blowing things up while serving my country for four years as an airborne combat engineer? I also watched human beings blown up. I had friends and Navy SEALs I was in battle with blown up. My own intestines exploded on the first of my four combat embeds, three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Took seven operations to fix the plumbing. I later suffered other permanent injuries.

Yet now I find myself linked not only with the Unabomber, but also Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Or so says the Chicago-based think tank the Heartland Institute, for which I’ve done work. Heartland erected billboards depicting the above three declaring: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” Climate scientists now, evidently, share something in common with dictators and mass murderers. Reportedly bin Laden was scheduled to make such an appearance, too.

You see, I’ve published articles saying I do “believe in global warming.” Yes, I’ve also questioned the extent to which man-made gases have contributed to that warming and concluded that expenditures to reduce those emissions would be as worthless as they’d be horrifically expensive. No matter; just call me “Ted.” Or “Charlie.” Or “Fidel.”

This is nuts! Literally. As in “mass hysteria.” That’s a phenomenon I wrote about for a quarter-century, from the heterosexual AIDS “epidemic” to the swine flu “pandemic” that killed vastly fewer people than seasonal flu, to “runaway Toyotas.” Mass hysteria is when a large segment of society loses touch with reality, or goes bonkers, if you will, on a given issue – like believing that an incredibly mild strain of flu could kill eight times as many Americans as normal seasonal flu. (It killed about a third as many.)

I was always way ahead of the curve. And my exposés primarily appeared in right-wing publications. Back when they were interested in serious research. I also founded a conservative college newspaper, held positions in the Reagan administration and at several conservative think tanks, and published five books that conservatives applauded. I’ve written for umpteen major conservative publications – National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among them.

But no longer. That was the old right. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.

Extremism in the defense of nothing

Nothing the new right does is evidently outrageous enough to receive more than a peep of indignation from the new right. Heartland pulled its billboards because of funder withdrawals, not because any conservatives spoke up and said it had crossed a line.

Last month U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican recently considered by some as vice-president material, insisted that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party, again with little condemnation from the new right.
Mitt Romney took a question at a town hall meeting this month from a woman who insisted President Obama be “tried for treason,” without challenging, demurring from or even commenting on her assertion.

And then there’s the late Andrew Breitbart (assassinated on the orders of Obama, natch). A video from February shows him shrieking at peaceful protesters: “You’re freaks and animals! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy raping, murdering freaks!” He went on for a minute-and-a-half like that. Speak not ill of the dead? Sen. Ted Kennedy’s body was barely cold when Breitbart labeled him “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” a “prick” and “a special pile of human excrement.”
The new right loved it! Upon his own death shortly after, Breitbart was immediately sanctified and sent to lead the Seraphim. He was repeatedly eulogized as “the most important conservative of our time never to hold office,” skipping right past William F. What’s-his-name Jr.

There was nothing “conservative” about Breitbart. Ever-consummate gentlemen like Buckley and Ronald Reagan would have been mortified by such behavior as Breitbart’s – or West’s or Heartland’s. “There you go again,” the Gipper would have said in his soft but powerful voice.
Civility and respect for order – nay, demand for order – have always been tenets of conservatism. The most prominent work of history’s most prominent conservative, Edmund Burke, was a reaction to the anger and hatred that swept France during the revolution. It would eventually rip the country apart and plunge all of Europe into decades of war. Such is the rotted fruit of mass-produced hate and rage. Burke, not incidentally, was a true Tea Party supporter, risking everything as a member of Parliament to support the rebellion in the United States.

All of today’s right-wing darlings got there by mastering what Burke feared most: screaming “J’accuse! J’accuse!” Turning people against each other. Taking seeds of fear, anger and hatred and planting them to grow a new crop.

Conservatism has also historically emphasized empiricism. Joe Friday of “Dragnet” must have been a conservative: “All we want are the facts, Ma’am.” When President Reagan famously said, “Facts are stupid things,” he meant to quote President John Adams’ observation that “Facts are stubborn things.” But how much fact was there in Heartland’s billboards, whose shock purpose has been likened to tactics of the hard-left animal activist group PETA, with whom I’ve repeatedly locked horns. Or in West’s assertion? Or Breitbart’s tirades? Rush Limbaugh compared Breitbart, who never wrote a single investigative report, to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the dynamic duo who brought down the thoroughly corrupt presidency of Richard Nixon. He actually said Breitbart’s work was superior. Oh, dear!
I know these words coming from somebody identified with the right are heresy – as defined by this new right. An invite to a marshmallow roast with you as guest of honor. Or worse. It’s to be labeled with the ultimate epithet: RINO. Republican in name only. GOP Sen. Scott Brown  bears that mark of Cain. Coming from super-liberal Massachusetts, he only has a 74 percent American Conservative Union rating. There you go, then!

So there’s an auto-da-fé out there right now with my name on it. Torquemada is holding the torch; the wieners and s’mores are flying off the shelves. Truth be known, though, I haven’t considered myself a Republican since 1982. Why? That was the year of the massive Reagan tax hike. I figured that’s what liberal Democrats are for. Tore up my donor card and never gave again. By being a conservative at that time, I was a RINO. By being one now, I’m also a RINO. A very curious animal, that.

The hate, anger and fear machine

A single author, Ann Coulter, has published best-selling books accusing liberals, in the titles, of being demonic, godless and treasonous. Michelle Malkin, ranked by the Internet search company PeekYou as having the most traffic of any political blogger, routinely dismisses them as “moonbats, morons and idiots.” Limbaugh infamously dispatched a young woman who expressed her opinion that the government should provide free birth control as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

As a conservative, I disagree with the political opinions of liberals. But to me, a verbal assault indicates insecurity and weakness on the part of the assaulter, as in “Is that the best they can do?” This playground bullying – the name-calling, the screaming, the horrible accusations – all are intended to stifle debate, the very lifeblood of a democracy.

Meanwhile, these people who practice shutting down the opposition through shouts and smears accuse President Obama of having dictatorial dreams? A recent email I received, based on accusations from umpteen right-wing groups, blared in caps-lock fury: “BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA HAS SIGNED A MARTIAL LAW EXECUTIVE ORDER!” This specific message, from a group calling itself RightMarch.org, goes on: “THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! BARACK OBAMA IS TRYING TO VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION, BECOME A DICTATOR, AND TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHTS!”

Outrageous, indeed. Obama’s order updated a National Defense Resource Preparedness act, which was essentially identical to one signed 19 years earlier and actually originated in 1950. It granted no authority to Obama that he did not already have under existing laws.
President Obama is regularly referred to as a Marxist/Socialist, Nazi, tyrant, Muslim terrorist supporter and – let me look this up, but I’ll bet probably the antichrist, too. Yup, there it is! Over 5 million Google references. There should be a contest to see if there’s anything for which Obama hasn’t been accused. Athlete’s foot? The “killer bees”? Maybe. In any case, the very people who coined and promoted such terms as “Bush Derangement Syndrome, Cheney Derangement Syndrome and Palin Derangement Syndrome” have been promoting hysterical attitudes toward Obama since before he was even sworn in.

No, I’m not cherry-picking. When I say “regularly referred to,” interpret literally. Polls show that about half of voting Republican buy into the birther nonsense (one of the more prominent hysterias within the hysteria). Only about a fourth seem truly sure that Obama was actually born here. In her nationally syndicated column Michelle Malkin wrote regarding Limbaugh’s slut remarks, that “I’m sorry the civility police now have an opening to demonize the entire right based on one radio comment.” In a stroke she’s expressed her disdain for civility and declared the new right’s sins can be dispatched as an itsy-bitsy little single faux pas, “one radio comment.”

No, Michelle, incivility – nay, outright meanness and puerility – rears its ugly head daily on your blog, which as I write this on May 23 has one item referring in the headline to “Pig Maher’s boy [Bill Maher]” and another to “Jaczko the Jerk,” [former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko]. She calls Limbaugh target Sandra Fluke a “femme-agogue” and her supporters “[George] Soros monkeys.” Pigs? Monkeys? Moonbats? It’s literal dehumanization.

Sure, there are enough hate-and-anger mongers on the left to go around. Among the worst was Keith Olbermann, who once called Malkin a “mashed up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” Very edifying, Keith! But as the Christian Science Monitor reported, his ratings recently collapsed from an average of 354,000 viewers a night when he debuted on Current TV, to 58,000 viewers by the first quarter of 2012. He was recently fired. Again. Air America was intended to counter right-wing talk radio, especially Rush Limbaugh. I was on Al Franken’s show while he made fun of a soldier from my first battle who is now permanently paralyzed. Touché, Al! But Air America also failed.

Malkin, who revels in playing the victim, says that she’s been called all sorts of horrible things, many based on her Filipina heritage. But most of what she cites come from email or anonymous comments on blog sites. It wasn’t usually from paid professionals with large audiences, like her, aimed at paid professionals like her. It’s thus hard to compare with the host of the most popular talk show host in history taking shots at an unknown 22-year-old woman. (She’s hardly that now; Limbaugh himself promoted her to a national spokeswoman.)
Incivility is hardly the domain of the new right. American society grows ever coarser. But this is cold comfort. Conservative ideology demands civility of conservatives; demands, yes, self-policing. Let others act as they will, bearing evidence of the shallowness of their positions. It also demands respect for official offices, such as the presidency. When our guy is in office, you give him that modicum of respect – and when your guy is in office, we do the same. The other party is to be referred to as “the loyal opposition,” not with words the FCC forbids on the air.

Muckraking becometh buckraking

In the grief-fest at Breitbart’s death, forgiven (and indeed practically forgotten) was his crucial role in building the single most popular liberal website, the Huffington Post. Some of Breitbart’s friends admitted he was absent of ideology. “I don’t recall Andrew Breitbart ever mentioning electoral politics,” wrote Tucker Carlson. “It bored him.” Breitbart’s inspiration, then? George Washington through Benjamin Franklin – printed in primarily green ink on cotton stock.

Limbaugh pulls down a stunning $38 million annual salary. Leaked Heartland Institute documents revealed it’s gotten over $14 million in the past six years from a single individual. RightMarch.com accompanied the Obama-cum-tyrant message with an offer to “Blast Fax” every member of Congress for $139 – for a profit of about $139. Surely these people have their fingers crossed that President Obama is reelected.

I personally know a lot of the leaders of this new rabid right. Most are very nice on a personal basis. Honestly, you’d be shocked. Unlike Breitbart, some began as real conservatives. One called me her mentor in her first book and attended my wedding. Many once sang my praises. Again, unlike Breitbart, Malkin was once a true investigative reporter. You can still see elements of actual research in Ann Coulter’s work, too.

But when times changed, and it became profitable to move from honorable advocacy to shrill name-calling, they changed too. They cashed in their reputations, as well as their ideology, for lucre. Those who didn’t – because conservatism runs against screaming, extremism and sensationalism – began disappearing from the talk shows, magazines and store shelves. They were replaced by pod people.

Conservatism, RIP

You cannot be identified by what you oppose, only by what you stand for. But this curious creature’s main claim to the title of “conservative” is that it hates liberals – as do liberals and lots of others on many points of the political spectrum. Obama is routinely bashed in such places as the Nation. The right-wing Nation?

Indeed in any violent anti-democratic revolution – Jacobite, Bolshevik, National Socialist – the first goal is to eliminate the real competition, those with ideals. The guys who really believed in liberty, fraternity and equality or rule by the proletariat were identified, isolated and eliminated early on to leave only two extremes to choose from. “It’s us or the Bourbons! It’s us or the Romanovs!” In Germany, the conservatives and liberals were dispatched to the labor camps before the Nazis felt safe to send the Jews to the death camps.

The new right cannot advance a conservative agenda precisely because, other than a few small holdouts like the American Conservative magazine or that battleship that refuses to become a museum, George Will, it is not itself conservative. Pod people are running the show. It has no such capability; no such desire. I find that disturbing for obvious reasons. But, based on my own conversations with liberals, I think – nay, I know – that if more of these allegedly godless, treasonous people understood real conservatism a lot would embrace many conservative positions.

Thus everybody realizes government spending has lost its airbrakes. But while the new right screams the most about big government, it nonetheless supported President George W. Bush as he presided over the largest expansion of government spending since uber-liberal FDR and left us with a massive debt before President Obama was sworn in. Why? Silly rabbit! Because the left opposed him.

The same has been said for the right’s otherwise seemingly unfathomable enchantment with Sarah Palin; it’s a defense of their damsel in distress. The veracity of the left’s claims about her are irrelevant. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Or so thought that uber-liberal FDR about good ol’ “Uncle Joe” right to the end, even as conservative Winston Churchill tried desperately to convince him otherwise. And so fell the Iron Curtain.

Eating its own

Obsessed with attacking, the new right will carpet-bomb positions of the old right if the left comes around to it.

Thus the right has traditionally opposed government subsidies. My first cover story was in Buckley’s National Review, arguing against ethanol subsidies that ultimately grew to $6 billion annually. But when the Senate sought to repeal the subsidy last year, right-wing guru and Jack Abramoff henchman Grover Norquist fought it – with the stunning argument that cutting a government subsidy is actually a tax hike in disguise!

And how ironic that for decades liberals unfairly accused conservatives of “McCarthyism” to shut down debate. (Oh, how I remember!) Yet now the right countenances a prominent congressman who has literally outdone “Tailgunner Joe.”

McCarthy’s infamous list comprised only 57 Communists who were merely State Department employees, not “78 to 81” of the nation’s top elected officials.
Pity the poor Onion; there’s nothing left to satirize.

Gridlock

Apart from gaining fame and fortune for a select few, all the new right is accomplishing is turning Bismarck’s words upside down, making politics the art of the impossible. It demonizes the opposition even as it brutally enforces “team loyalty.” So nothing gets done, and bad trends just get worse.
For many, the American dream became a nightmare long ago. It’s little wonder that Americans are afraid and angry.

One member of the new right seemed to acknowledge that reckless character assassination was merely stalemating the system. “Let’s come back to the issues,” he told NPR in an interview last year. “Let’s come back to talking about how do we set the conditions here in Washington, D.C., for long-term sustainable economic and job growth.” Unfortunately, that was congressman Allen West.

The right didn’t create this reservoir of fear, anger and hate. But it has both tapped into it and roiled it. Indeed, the right-wing mass hysteria is what sociologists call a “moral panic.” It occurs when a society is undergoing a wrenching transformation. Somebody then comes along and creates a “folk devil” both to provide an explanation for bad conditions, real or imagined, and a target. Kill the devil; eliminate the bad conditions. But the right has no serious incentive to help solve or ameliorate these problems. Indeed, as with the reelection of Obama, it will benefit from their continuation or worsening.

So animosity has now reached levels both hysterical and historical. The last time anything like this occurred was during World War II, when at least it was aimed outward. Before that? Just before the Civil War.

Back then a tall bearded Republican declared, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Just another one of those idiot, moron, “duplicitous bastard” RINOs.

Michael Fumento is an attorney, author, journalist and former paratrooper who has written for National Review, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, The American Spectator, Human Events, Forbes, Forbes.com, Reason, Policy Review, The Spectator (London), The Sunday Times of London, The Wall Street Journal op-ed page and many other publications. His web site is www.fumento.com.

Robert Reich (Romney's Regressivism)

by Robert Reich

Fine to nail Romney with Bain Capitalism. But let’s not forget Romney’s budget proposal, which mimics Paul Ryan’s. Take a moment to make yourself aware of both, because they’re eye-opening and scary.

Both would restore the military budget, slash Medicare (turning it into vouchers that shift costs to the elderly) and Medicaid (turning it over to the states but without enough money to keep it going), cut programs for the poor (food stamps, Pell grants, etc), and yet at the same time cut even more taxes on the super rich.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, Romney’s plan would give a $250K tax cut, on average, to everyone now earning over a million dollars a year.

Yet Romney’s plan would also — according to the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities — increase the federal budget deficit by more than $3 trillion over the next ten years. (Romney says he’ll close tax loopholes, but he assiduously avoids saying which ones — which means he won’t really close any.)

This is truly nuts, and it represents not conservativism but regressivism — a lurch backward toward the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

The same

The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.
And our governments are very much the same.

Marjane Satrapi, Iranian Graphic Novelist

Bad company

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The BRAD BLOG : 'Caught Red Handed': Voting History Records of Black Dems Systematically Purged in Tennessee

Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County (Memphis) election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list. These selective alterations appear to target the race of US Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09).
To alter voting histories for a selected set of voters, putting them at risk for strategically selected and improper removal from the voting list, is to demean them, to treat them as if they have less worth as human beings than they do. And to demean them is to wrong them. What Shelby County's election staff has done, in altering the records, is morally wrong.
The full list of voters whose voting records have been altered is here. If you know someone on this list, please let them know about this....

Read the rest of this disturbing article at the link.  This is a perfect example of why the fundamentalist radicals of the right are a danger to our democracy.  If they can't get their way, they will force it upon us by any means necessary.

And now a word from our 3rd president

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd pres of the US, wrote in 1825 to William Branch Giles of "a vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and monied incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry."

So you see boys and girls, rich folk have been traitors to the American Way for a looong time. Unfortunately for us we have TVs, video games and computers to keep us stupid, inactive and fat to do anything about it.

No worries??

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24 May 2012

GOP Newsletter Calls for Armed Revolution if Obama Re-Elected | rightwingwatch.org

The Greene County, Virginia Republican Committee publishes a monthly newsletter for members called “The Constitutional Conservatives.” The newsletter is heavy on Tea Party rhetoric about how Obama and liberals are ruining America, and so forth. But even by these standards, an item in the March newsletter stands out.
In the “Whitehouse Watchdog” column, editor Ponch McPhee says that America cannot survive four more years under Obama, a “political socialist ideologue” who is “unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized.” McPhee argues that Americans will have no option “but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November:”
We have before us a challenge to remove an ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized.
 
An individual who has come to power within a Nation which yields it’s strength over the entire world.
 
An elected leader who shuns biblical praise, handicaps economic ability, disrespects the honor of earned military might.
 
In the coming days and weeks  ~ we the people must come to grasp as a common force, our very soul’s, that our future as a sovereign nation is indeed at risk.
 
If every single individual that you know, would contact 25 other individuals  ~ we can make a difference that will be heard across the Commonwealth and in Washington.
 
The ultimate task for the people is to remain vigilant and aware  ~ that the government, their government is out of control, and this moment, this opportunity, must not be forsaken, must not escape us, for we shall not have any coarse but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November ~ This Republic cannot survive for 4 more years underneath this political socialist ideologue.
The Greene County GOP apparently realizes that McPhee and the newsletter are a potential liability, judging by the disclaimer on the back page claiming that views expressed are individual only. But that’s a cop-out. They should either stand behind McPhee’s insane views about armed insurrection or find an editor who represents their real views.

18 May 2012

17 May 2012

Extremists and Enablers - NYTimes.com

...
1. Republicans are getting ready to hold American hostage again, refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless spending is cut drastically; basically, never mind the old-fashioned idea of actually passing legislation, they’ll just blow up the country unless their demands are met.
2. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, two highly respected Congressional analysts with a reputation for being nonpartisan, have a book documenting the fact that our political dysfunction is very one-sided — it’s Republican extremism, not “both sides do it”, that’s at fault. Sales of their book have been very good, and there’s a lot of public interest. But guess what? They can’t get on TV to promote their book...

Click link for full article

08 May 2012

First Monthly Budget Surplus in Three Years - Yahoo! News

The Congressional Budget Office has  reporteda monthly budget surplus of $58 billion,  which would be a first in nearly three years.
The improved numbers are attributed to a 10 percent increase in tax revenue.  The month of April coincides with tax season which typically results in a yearly surplus, but hasn't happened since the 2008 financial crisis when tax revenue fell.
"It is a clear signal that the government's fiscal situation is finally moving definitively in the right direction," said Mark Zandi who is the chief economist for Moody's Analytics.
Next month's report will likely show a budget deficit, but the small surplus is an important milestone in the nation's struggle to fend of a future debt crisis.
Some economists argue that a rush to curb the deficit through immediate spending cuts could harm the economy in the short term.  Britain recently announced that it fell back into  recession, with  some blaming the drop in gross domestic product on harsh austerity measures.
"It goes to how important economic growth is to addressing our fiscal problems," said Zandi.
The other school of thought says that a massive budget deficit is too risky because the interest on the debt could grow to become unmanageable.
Lawmakers will likely have to find a way to cut the deficit over the long run.
"Policymakers have a lot more work to do to establish fiscal sustainability," said Zandi.
The conventional wisdom is that  Congress will address the long-term problem after the election is over.

I doubt this will be talked about in the right wing media because they first need to concoct a story to somehow make this a Bush surplus...

02 May 2012

Obama Administration Backs Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Program | Mother Jones

Thought "abstinence only" education was a thing of the past, at least at the national level? Looks like it's still part of the officially sanctioned curriculum from the US Department of Health and Human Services for teen pregnancy prevention.
The HHS Office of Adolescent Health lists the Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education as one of the 31 "evidence-based programs" that "met the effectiveness criteria" for preventing teenage pregnancy. RH Reality Check flagged its inclusion on Tuesday, noting that the program was quietly added to the list sometime in April. The program is based in South Carolina and focuses on schools in the state.
The Heritage program is aimed at middle and high schoolers and advocates abstaining from sex until marriage. Heritage Community Services, which created the curriculum, describes its programs as "a logic model that addresses the risky behavior of adolescents from the perspective of changing the behavior that is causing the problem rather than dealing with the consequences of the risky actions."
The HHS fact sheet on the program lists five different sections, on topics like "sexual abstinence" and "family formation." The "STD Facts" section "discusses how to refuse sex in different settings." Students are also taught a "four-step plan for resisting sexual activity," and provided with "role-playing exercises to help students practice it." In other words, don't count on learning anything along the lines of what young people should do if they are having sex. There's no talk about condoms or birth control. And if you're gay, forget about it.
The RH Reality Check piece notes that an August 2007 report on the Heritage program prepared for HHS found that it "had little or no impact on sexual abstinence or activity." So it's not exactly clear why it's on a list of "evidence-based programs" that "met the effectiveness criteria" for HHS.
Yet the Heritge website now proudly boasts that it is "the only authentic abstinence education program in the United States identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as having demonstrated it's [sic] effectiveness."

Yet another fine example of why I call Pres. Obama a secret Republican!

The big-talk, no-action Congress - The Washington Post

If you were to stroll by the House chamber today — or tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that — you would arrive at the ideal time to see what the lawmakers do best: absolutely nothing.

It’s another recess week for our lazy leaders. Oh, sorry: “Constituent Work Week” is what they’re calling it these days, as if lawmakers were filling potholes and making calls to Social Security rather than raising campaign cash.

By the time the Republican-led House returns next week, members will have been working in Washington on just 41 of the first 127 days of 2012 — and that was the busy part of the year. They are planning to be on vacation — er, doing “constituent work” — 17 of the year’s remaining 34 weeks, and even when they are in town the typical workweek is three days.

Good work if you can get it — but the behavior is doing quite a job on the rest of us. On those infrequent occasions the House is in session, the Senate, also enamored of recess, often isn’t, which helps explain why the two chambers can’t agree on much of anything.

To call this 112th Congress a do-nothing Congress would be an insult — to the real Do-Nothing Congress of 1947-48. That Congress passed 908 laws. To date, this one has passed 106 public laws. Even if they triple that output in the rest of 2012 — not a terribly likely proposition — they will still be in last place going back at least 40 years.

Doing nothing would arguably be preferable to what the House is actually doing. Lawmakers have staged 195 roll-call votes so far this year, which sounds like a lot until you realize that boils down to only about 60 pieces of legislation, including post-office namings. Among the 60:

●The Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act.
●The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012.
●Legislation requiring the Treasury to mint coins commemorating the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service.
●The World War II Memorial Prayer Act.
●The Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act.

The few pieces of important legislation of this Congress, such as the payroll-tax break and the debt-limit increase, have been passed by the Republican majority under pressure and duress. Republican leaders claim that a heavy schedule means bigger government, but the lax schedule has been challenged by no less a conservative than firebrand freshman Allen West.

This is not to suggest that the Democratic-controlled Senate is blameless. The Post’s Paul Kane went through Senate roll-call votes from this year and found that, of the 87 votes, the majority were on just three bills: 25 on the highway bill, 16 on the postal bill and 13 on an insider-trading bill. Sixteen others were on confirmations.

But there is a crucial difference: While a simple majority in the House can pass pretty much anything without agreement of the minority, the Senate is traditionally where bills go to die. Because the Democrats lack a filibuster-proof majority, they can bring virtually nothing to a vote without the blessing of the Republicans. Even with that high hurdle, the Senate has been able to slog through a number of bills in recent weeks: a long-term renewal of the surface transportation bill, renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, postal reform and a bill making it easier for companies to go public.

The last of those passed the House, too, but the other three are awaiting action. Of those, the failure to pass a long-term highway bill is particularly glaring. House Speaker John Boehner announced in November that he was proceeding with the bill, but so far he has been able to pass only a short-term extension. The House also has yet to act on the China currency bill the Senate passed last fall. Instead, House Republicans have voted repeatedly on budgets that will never be followed and similarly doomed attempts at repealing Obama priorities.

With such a lean agenda, filling even 41 days has been a challenge. House Republicans are now devoting full floor debates to bills such as H.R. 2087, “To remove restrictions from a parcel of land situated in the Atlantic District, Accomack County, Virginia.” That issue — allowing development on a 32-acre property — was so crucial to the Republic that lawmakers had five roll-call votes on the topic.

They dressed it up and called it a “jobs bill” — but really it was another bill showing that House Republicans aren’t doing theirs.

The Maddow Blog - Stephen King's advice: 'Tax Me for F@%&'s Sake'

 - 
A couple of months ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was asked about wealthy people like Warren Buffett who believe they should pay more in taxes for the nation's benefit. The Republican governor said they should "shut up" and rely on a voluntary system in which the rich pay more to the treasury, but only if they want to.
Associated Press
And while Christie added, "I'm tired of hearing about it," Stephen King responded this week, "I'm not tired of talking about it." The best-selling author, whose success has made him very wealthy, argued in colorful terms, "Tax me for f@%&'s sake."
It's true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions.... What charitable 1 percenters can't do is assume responsibility -- America's national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can't fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, "OK, I'll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS." That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.
What of those wealthy Republicans who insist they shouldn't apologize for their riches? King isn't impressed with this argument, either.
What some of us want ... is for you to acknowledge that you couldn't have made it in America without America..... I don't want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that -- sorry, kiddies -- you're on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay -- not to give, not to "cut a check and shut up," in Governor Christie's words, but to pay -- in the same proportion. That's called stepping up and not whining about it. That's called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn't cost their beloved rich folks any money.
It seems to me Stephen King should start a political blog. I'd read it.