Friday, August 31, 2012

Photo ID requirement = voter suppression

and it hits people more likely to vote democratic. That's why republican officials are doing it. 

Universal voting is the cornerstone of democracy and the only thing preventing despotic rule.  In this world, this would most likely be a corporate feudal system.  International corporation are already nearly in control of the government in the USA.  One more purchased election, a la Scott Walker in Wisconsin, one more conservative supreme court judge and we may well see the end of true universal suffrage and democracy in America.

"The key element in the exercise of democracy is the holding of free and fair elections at regular intervals enabling the people's will to be expressed. These elections must be held on the basis of universal, equal and secret suffrage so that all voters can choose their representatives in conditions of equality, openness and transparency that stimulate political competition. To that end, civil and political rights are essential, and more particularly among them, the rights to vote and to be elected, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, access to information and the right to organise political parties and carry out political activities. Party organisation, activities, finances, funding and ethics must be properly regulated in an impartial manner in order to ensure the integrity of the democratic processes"

Some claim that demanding a photo ID is fair and necessary to guard against voter fraud. Actually voter fraud in not a problem and to the extent it is, photo ID requirements would not prevent it.  The number one deterrent already exists; fine and imprisonment for violation. It's not likely that a casual voter would run the risk when he or she is fully aware of the relative importance of one vote. We have already seen voter fraud fraud on large scale by the republicans in the recent Wisconsin recall elections and the photo ID laws would not have prevented that.

So what, republicans say, voting is a privilege not a right and if they want to vote, they can get a photo ID. Actually it's not that easy. My Mother, now deceased, could not have voted and getting a photo ID would have been nearly impossible. No car, no driver's license, no credit cards and no one to take her to DMV to get one.  She is not alone. Here are others:

Angela Hiss
Notre Dame University student Angela Hiss was barred from voting in Indiana because her Illinois driver's license was not accepted as proof of identification.  Thousands of students like Angela will have difficulty voting in the next election because of repressive voter ID laws.  Read more

Nuns from St. Mary's Convent
In 2008, twelve nuns from St. Mary's Convent were prevented from casting ballots because they did not have government-issued photo ID. This was the first election voters were required to present ID after Indiana passed its stringent voter ID law.  requiring voters to present valid government-issued photo ID at the polls in order to cast a ballot. Read more

Edward and Mary Weidenbener
Edward and Mary are a married couple in their late 80s, living in Indiana. They went to vote in the presidential primary in May 2012, unaware that Indiana had passed a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Because they did not have the required ID, and were not informed in time to obtain such ID, they were given provisional ballots. Unfortunately, those provisional ballots were never counted, because the Weidenbeners were never informed that they had to follow up with the county election board to submit identification after they voted. Read more


Wiola Lee
Wiola Lee, 59, was born in rural Georgia and moved to Philadelphia in her early youth to live with her grandmother. Ms. Lee worked for the Philadelphia Public Schools, including special needs children. She has voted for well over 30 years and has been civically active, volunteering as a poll worker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the new voter ID laws, Ms. Lee is trying to access her birth certificate which she will need in order to obtain a photo ID, but the state of Georgia has no record of her birth. Without a photo ID, Ms. Lee will not be able to vote. Read more

Barbara Decoursey
Ms. Decoursey, 79 takes voting seriously. She has been voting in every election since Harry S. Truman ran for president, served as an election judge, and has made sure her children and grandchildren are registered and vote. She was born by midwife in North Carolina and has no birth certificate which is needed to get a photo ID in Pennsylvania. Read more

Bea Bookler
Bea Bookler has voted in every election since 1940 but now 72 years later she may not be able to cast what she believes might be her last vote. At 93 years old, Ms. Bookler lives at an assisted living facility in Chester County, no longer posseses photo ID and does not have her birth certificate to obtain ID. 

Devra Mirel ("Asher") Schor
Mr. Schor is a 22 year-old transgender man (female to male) registered voter in Pennsylvania who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He works as a paralegal for a public interest law firm that provides civil rights assistance to Pennsylvania prisoners. Mr. Schor expects to formally change his name and gender identity after the transitioning process is further along, which will not be before the November election. Although he has two forms of photo ID acceptable under the new voter photo ID law - a current passport and driver's license - in both he looks like a woman and is identified as "female," but looks and presents like a man. Mr. Schor has a very real and legitimate concern that poll workers will refuse to allow him to vote on election day in November when the person in his ID photos looks so different from the person who comes to vote. 

Dorothy Barksdale
Dorothy Barksdale was born at home by a midwife in rural Halifax County, Virginia in 1926. She and her niece have tried unsuccessfully for three years to obtain a birth certificate from the State of Virginia and was recently told that they have no record of her birth. Dorothy's niece called into 1-866-OUR-VOTE after learning about the new photo ID requirement in order to vote, looking for assistance on how to get an ID. Ms. Barkdale started working as a poll worker in Philadelphia shortly after the passage of the Voting Rights Act and now may not be able to vote in November. 

Gloria Cuttino
Gloria who is 61 was born in Summerville, South Carolina and moved to Philadelphia at a young age. Ms. Cuttino's mother died when she was sixteen, leaving Ms. Cuttino alone to care for her three younger brothers and sisters. Ms. Cuttino raised four children of her own, one of whom is a Philadelphia police officer. Prior to the photo ID law going into affect she has been trying to get her birth certificate from South Carolina and has told her they have no birth record. Through the help of a pro bono lawyer, she learned that the only way to now get a "delayed" birth certificate is to seek census and other records, which will cost approximately $100, and as well as hire an attorney in South Carolina to petition the court. Ms. Cuttino will not be able to vote in November.

Joyce Block
After learning about Pennsylvania's new photo ID requirement, Ms. Block who hasn't missed an election in 70 years, went to her local PennDOT office so she could obtain her free ID. Despite having all the documentation listed on the Department of State checklist, her application was rejected because the PennDot worker couldn't read her Hebrew marriage license and the deed to her home and Pepco bill had her married name, not her maiden name. Ms. Block takes her right to vote so seriously that in 2010 she had her granddaughter take her from the hospital in a wheelchair because she couldn't obtain an absentee ballot.  

Sherry Skramstad
Sherry Skramstad is a 70-year old retired teacher and author, and she has been voting since she became eligible in the 1960s. Even though she has a valid driver's license from New York, she can't get a Pennsylvania license because her birth certificate doesn't match her married name, although it's been her name for over 30 years. A Department of Transportation spokesperson claims that Sherry should have been notified of "exception processing," but that message didn't make it to her until after multiple calls to the Governor, the Office of Aging, both Pennsylvania U.S. Senators, and the U. S.-Mexican consulate, and eventually, media outlets. Under the old law, Sherry would have been able to use a utility bill, or a bank statement to demonstrate her identity at the polls. 

Louise Furness
Louise who is 96 does not have a driver's license, which is an approved form of ID and no longer drives making it difficult for her to visit the DMV in order to get the photo ID. Like Ms. Decoursey she was born to a midwife in North Carolina and does not possess the birth certificate need to obtain an voter ID card. Many seniors like Ms. Furness now face the difficult task of finding the documents in order to get photo ID in order to vote.

Viviette Applewhite
Ms. Applewhite is was born in 1919 in Philadelphia--a  year before women gained the right to vote. Ms. Applewhite worked as a welder during World War II and has voted in almost every election since 1960. Ms. Applewhite marched to support civil rights for African-Americans with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Macon, Georgia, and traveled on several occasions to hear him preach in Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church. Ms. Applewhite does not have and has been unable to obtain photo identification required by Pennsylvania's voter photo ID law and will be unable to cast a ballot this November.

South Carolina

Amanda Wolf
Amanda Wolf used to be able to vote using her student ID card.  Under South Carolina’s new voter ID requirements, however, Amanda has had to wait 6 months to even get the paperwork necessary for her to apply for an acceptable form of ID to allow her to vote.  Adopted in Georgia, Amanda’s name was different on her birth certificate, which also included the names of her birth parents.  When Amanda went to Vital Records to ask for a change, she found out that they would only accept a major credit card, which she didn’t have.  Finally, after 6 months and with the help of a judge, she was able to get her new birth certificate and apply for an ID. 

Delores Freelan
59-year-old Delores Freelan of South Carolina lives on disability, and cannot afford to petition her home state of California to change her name and fix an error on her birth certificate.  Without a valid birth certificate, she cannot get a photo ID to vote.  

Donna Suggs
Donna Suggs, born by midwife, does not have a birth certificate.  Because her birth was never reported, Donna could not get the necessary birth certificate to apply for an ID to vote.  Only after an attorney stepped in to help was Donna able to successfully get her free ID. 

Larrie Butler
Larrie Butler, born and raised in South Carolina, is 85 years old.  Denied a new driver’s license because he doesn’t have a birth certificate, Larrie went to vital records to get one and was told he’d need to provide his school and out-of-state driving records.  When he returned with the documents, Larrie was told he had failed to prove his identity because he could not get his elementary school records, as the school had since closed.  He was then told that he could only get a birth certificate if he paid to get his name changed.

Willie Blair
Willie Blair, a 61-year-old sharecropper from Sumter, South Carolina has never been to school and cannot read.  His name, given to him by his stepfather, does not match the name on his birth certificate, meaning he cannot use the certificate to get a photo ID to vote. 


Al Star

A homeless man was initially denied a free state voter ID he requested to replace his lost driver's license. After being turned away at the Department of Safety, he contacted his US Representative and eventually received his free ID. 

Clifford Glass
Mr. Glass has been voting since 1960 and no longer has a driver's license because of an automoblie accident twelve years ago that prevents him from driving. He is an Air Force veteran but his VA card is not one of the approved forms of photo ID in Tennessee.

Darwin Spinks
86-year-old Darwin Spinks, who served in World War II and Korea, had to pay for a "free" Tennessee voting ID.  

Dorothy Cooper
96-year-old Dorothy Cooper of Tennessee could not get a free voter ID because she could not produce her marriage license.  Ms. Cooper presented a birth certificate, a rent receipt and a voter registration card, but was still denied the ID.  Now, for the first time since the 1960s, she may not be able to vote. 

Lee and Phyllis Campbell
Lee and Phyllis Campbell, a retired couple from Tennessee, were asked to pay for a new license because the free IDs involve "too much paperwork."  Mr. and Mrs. Campbell testified before members of the House Judiciary Committee about their ordeal.  

Marie Crittenden
92-year-old Marie of Etowah, Tennessee has consistently voted since 1948.  However, with the passage of new voter ID requirements, Marie almost couldn’t vote.  After being misinformed about the necessary identification and paperwork numerous times, Marie could only vote due to the determined aid of her niece, who convinced the election commission to use common sense and allow Marie to cast her ballot. 

Thelma Mitchell
For 30 years Thelma Mitchell cleaned the Tennessee state capitol, including the governor's office. Now the 93-year-old won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told that her old state ID failed the new voter ID regulations and cannot produce a birth certificate.

Virginia Lasater
91-year-old Virginia Lasater of Murfreesboro, Tennessee could not get a voter ID because, with 100 people ahead of her and no chairs, she could not physically wait at the DMV.  Ms. Lasater has been voting and working on campaigns for more than 40 years, and now may be denied her right to vote. 


Mother of Texas State Rep. Trey Martinez Fisher

Rep. Martinez Fisher's 73-year-old mother will likely not be about to vote in the upcoming elections because she does not possess photo ID. She suffers from Parkinson's and has no driver's lecense, passport or concelad handgun license--the accepted forms of photo ID under Texas' new law.

José Zuniga
José, an 83-year-old wheelchair user who lives in El Cienzo, Texas, spends the vast majority of his time at home – but he makes it out each year for Election Day. If photo ID requirements are enacted in Texas, though, Jose may be unable to continue to vote. Zuniga, who does not drive, would need to take two or three buses to get to the closest Department of Public Safety office – about 20 miles away – to get a personal identification card. Even if he makes it to the DPS office, Zuniga could face discrimination or harassment when trying to receive an ID. Juan José López Jr.

Juan, a 34-year-old Texas resident, is one of three solid waste sanitation workers in the small city of El Cienzo. While he used to have a Department of Public Safety-issued ID that would allow him to vote under a photo ID law, he has since lost that ID. Attempting to replace the identification card, though, has proved a larger hassle than he expected. In order to get a new ID, he needed documents to prove his identity and residence – like school records. At the same time, he needed ID to get access to his school records. Caught in a vicious catch-22 of identification, Juan has – for the time being – given up on obtaining ID. Dealing with the run-around of getting ID would require him to take time off work – something he cannot afford.

Encarnación Vasquez
Encarnación has always used his voter registration card to vote. At age 84, he no longer has a driver’s license. Vasquez, who is well-known in the small city of Rio Bravo, had hoped that knowing the poll workers would vouch for his identity, but without photo ID, he may not be able to vote – even with his registration card.


Anthony Sharp
19-year-old African-American Milwaukee resident does not have any of the accepted forms of photo ID under the law and does not have the income to afford the $20 certified copy of his birth certificate in order to vote.

Bettye Jones
Bettye Jones is 76 years old and has voted in every election since 1959.  Active in the Civil Rights movement, she fought for her right to vote and never dreamed it could be taken away.  Bettye’s mother gave birth to her in a time when African Americans in the South could not get hospital care, meaning that Bettye was born at home.  No birth certificate was ever filed to record her birth.  However, Bettye has a current and valid Ohio driver’s license and had never had any problems voting until she moved to Wisconsin.  Here, Bettye found that she will be denied the right to vote.  With no birth certificate on file, she cannot get the ID that Wisconsin requires to cast a ballot; the state’s law will also not allow her to use her out of state driver’s license to prove her identity. 

Carl Ellis
Carl is a U.S. Army veteran living in a homeless shelter in Milwaukee. His only photo ID is a veteran ID card, which is not accepted under the law.

Chris Larsen
Wisconsin Department of Safety worker Chris Larsen was fired after encouraging his co-workers to inform citizens that IDs are free for the purposes of voting.  To save money, Wisconsonites will only receive ID cards for free if they know on their own that they need to check a box on their application, otherwise they will be charged. 

Florence Hessing
96-year-old Florence is disabled and rarely leaves her home, voting by absentee ballot.  After writing to the state asking how to get a photo ID under Wisconsin’s new government-issued photo ID law, she was told it would cost her $28, even though Wisconsin ID cards are supposed to be free.  To even apply for the ID, Florence needed a birth certificate, of which her natal state of Iowa told her they had no official record. 

Gil Paar
Mr. Paar who served in the military for four years was not allowed to vote because his Veteran's card, which is issued by the United State Department of Veterans Affairs and contains both his photo and address is not one of the approved forms of government-issued photo ID under Wisconsin's new voter ID law. Despite having a driver's license that would have allowed him to vote, Mr. Paar refused because a VA card is the only form of photo ID that many veterans have.

JoAnne Balthazor and Jeannie Vasen
69-year-old JoAnne Balthazor of Wisconsin waited at the DMV for almost 2 hours to receive her free ID for voting.  Jeannie Vasen, 43, didn't have enough money with her to get a replacement ID, and ended up leaving without getting her ID after Wisconsin DMV workers failed to inform her the ID was free. She later returned and got her free ID.

Lauren Ehlers
A student at UW-Madison, Lauren Ehlers had registered to vote two months before the election.  However, when she arrived to the polls at 7 a.m. so she could vote before work, Lauren was turned away because her name was not on the rolls.  She had to return to the same polling place later in the day to provide a document to proving her address of residence just so she could cast a ballot. 

Marge Curtin        
62-year-old Marge Curtin has lived and voted in the same area for 40 years.  Although her name and address were listed on the rolls and the poll workers, including her friend of over 40 years, knew and recognized her, Marge was not allowed to vote because she didn’t have a photo ID.  Recently injured in a car accident, Marge said she didn’t think she’d be able to make the long trip to the DMV to get an ID and went to vote at the polls anyway, as she always does.  Unfortunately, here she discovered that she was barred from voting despite her unquestionable identity.

Rita Platt and John Wolfe
On a day off from work, Rita and John drove 45 minutes to a DMV to get Wisconsin driver's licenses so they could vote in the upcoming election.  However, when they arrived shortly after the DMV had opened, they were told that the computers were down.  The couple decided to fill out the necessary paperwork, in the hopes that the computers would be up and running by the time they'd gone through the approval steps.

After presenting a current Iowa driver's license, social security card, bank statement, and pay stub, John was denied an ID and told he hadn't proven his identity.  Rita was told that neither her expired Iowa driver's license nor pay stub from the state qualified as proof of identification and that she'd need to pay for a certified birth certificate or bring a US passport to be approved.  Even though Rita had previously had a Wisconsin driver's license and the worker could still find her in the system, Rita was informed that she could not get a license or even a voter ID. 

Ruthelle Frank
Ruthelle is an 84-year-old elected official and has served on her village board since 1996, who without a birth certificate cannot obtain an ID needed to vote under Wisconsin law.

Ruthelle explains the difficulty she faces in trying to obtain photo ID:

Unidentified Woman
A 63 year old woman and her 87 year old mother were turned away from polls in Wisconsin for not presenting photo ID despite a Wisconsin judge ruling the law unconsitutional, which suspended implementation of the program. Because of confusion surrounding the law many voters were asked to present ID at the polls for the April 3rd Wisconsin primary. The woman was able to contact GAB and eventually cast a ballot.

Mitt Romney vs King Benjamin

Over 2000 years ago, King Benjamin, knowing he was about to die, conferred the Kingdom on his son Mosiah and gathered the people together to say goodbye and impart his wisdom on how to gain eternal salvation.

Today, for the first time in our history, a Mormon, a follower of King Benjamin is running for President of the United States.  Mitt Romney is supported nearly unanimously by his fellow Mormons.  As the potential leader of the world, one who would have far more power, in secular terms, than King Benjamin, he is delivering a totally different message.

This is how King Benjamin opened his remarks to his people reminding them that he had spent is life in their service and not for riches. He told them that he had labored with his hands so as not to be a burden on them by taxes. He added that nothing should come upon them which was grievous to be born.  Many Mormons believe this meant that there should be no taxes but more realistically it means excessive taxation and excessive business profits.[1]

Romney, on the other hand, has never worked a day with his own hands.  Instead, he has made his fortune exploiting those who do work with their own hands.  As a venture capitalist, he has profited in leveraged buyouts and cutting costs by reducing wages and benefits of employees. Romney and his company made over $100 million, a 2000% return from a company that was driven into bankruptcy even after wages and benefits of employees were slashed.[2]

As King Benjamin was living in austerity during his reign, Romney would begin his having lived in opulence which is almost repugnant.  (Thorstein Veblen referred to it as conspicuous consumption).  He did this as millions in the United States lived in poverty and he avoided taxes by nestling is money in foreign banks to avoid paying taxes to support the poor or the wars he approved; and used deductions like $70,000 to train a horse to prance. Further, to advance his chances to be “king” he allies himself with a man, Paul Ryan, whose places the philosophy of an atheist super capitalist over the teaching of Christ.
King Benjamin made it clear that we are expected to take care of the poor – all of them. Warning them that if they did not do this and withheld support for them because we consider them to deserve their fate we have no place in the kingdom of heaven.[3]

Romney, on the other hand, is unconcerned with the plight of the poor and refers to a safety net which he has promised to remove.  He has chosen a man as his running mate, a man who would be assistant King, who is at least as deaf to the plea of the poor.  Their plan for tax structure would distribute even more of the wealth of the nation into the hands of the rich. Compare their plan with the admonishment of King Benjamin 2000 years ago.  Nothing has changed in the requirement for salvation but in our society today the darwinistic “survival of the fittest” capitalist system greed and disdain for the poor has not only become acceptable, it has become revered. 

Turn again to Mosiah 4 verses 21-26:

 21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

How does this accommodate taking your money out of the country to avoid paying taxes? And why would good Mormons support him?  

In verse 26 above, King Benjamin tells us to visit the sick and administer to their relief, both spiritually and temporally.  Mitt Romney would abolish the program that administers to the relief of the sick without a plan that would replace it – this in spite of the fact that he was responsible for virtually the same plan in the state of which he was governor!  

King Benjamin admonishes us in Mosiah 4: 15 to teach our children to be truthful.  Romney has been anything but truthful in his public appearance and announcements.  The most recent and perhaps the most damning is his claim, which his continues to make even after being shown to be false, is that Obama took $716 billion dollars from Medicare services to finance Obamacare. Those Medicare savings - achieved through reduced provider reimbursements and curbed waste, fraud and abuse, not benefit cuts – appear in the House Republicans’ FY 2013 budget, which Ryan authored.  Of course Obama, as do most, politicians exaggerate or even lie, but this is not about Obama.  He does not follow King Benjamin or anything else in the Book of Mormon and so far, this falsehood sets a new low for this year’s election.
In Mark 10:21, a young man who was faithful in all other ways was told by Jesus: One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Mitt Romney does not have to give everything he has to the poor, but he should not use his powers as president to take from the poor either.

This is not a discourse on economics or Medicare, it is a query on something that bothers and bewilders me. Why do Mormons so enthusiastically support a man who seems to be antithetical to King Benjamin?  Neither do I to judge Brother Romney’s qualifications to enter the Celestial Kingdom – I am not sure of my own!

But I would remind Mitt of a song we learned in Primary:
Do what is right; the day-dawn is breaking,
Hailing a future of freedom and light.
Angels above us are silent notes taking
Of ev’ry action; then do what is right!

[1] Mosiah 2, verses 12- 14
[3] Mosiah 4, verses 16-18

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Money and Lies - the GOP (not so new) strategy

Ronald Reagan was the master of the lie as a weapon. When running for President in 1976, he pulled a failing campaign out of the fire by attacking Gerald Ford on national security claiming he was giving to threats from the Panamanian leader, General Omar Torrijos, telling his audiences that the Canal Zone was a sovereign position just like Alaska and that "giving it back to Panama" would inexorably cripple our national security. His mantra became "We bought it, we paid for it, we built it and we intend to keep it. Never mind that it was all a lie, a lie that he was aware of, it carried him to the White House.

It's ironic that it was RR then and R&R now. The GOPhonies campaign is using the lie and this time with the infusion of virtually unlimited money to seek the White House. The first big lie was that Obama made the economy worse. In terms of job creation, although not enough, his job creation was much better than Bush's which was a disaster. Then, when called on it, he denied saying it.

This was followed later by saying that Obama took $716 Billion from services to Medicare and put it in Obamacare. Ryan in his speech at the convention repeated it in spite of the fact that it had been thoroughly debunked.  This is just the latest of a litany of lies that Romney has been using.

The problem is, it works. We no longer have a news media that checks into the truth. That responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of blogs, like this one, on the internet. The GOPhonies will flood television with attacks on Obama or crudely made movies like 2016 and the Obama campaign will not have enough money to counter them.  Indeed, it is the plan of the R&R campaign, financed by international corporations to bankrupt them by trying.

This next election will be a test of our democracy. Has the Citizen's United decision destroyed it?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Swiftboat 2012 by Dinesh D'Sucio

D'Sucio has made a career out of promoting hatred for African Americans. He still is yet to win over any minds but he is at least lining his pockets. Nobody is watching this movie who does not already hate Obama but their money is good. These quotes from his book The End of Racism epitomize his attitude toward African Americans:

- “The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.”

- “If America as a nation owes blacks as a group reparations for slavery, what do blacks as a group owe America for the abolition of slavery?”

- “Am I calling for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Actually, yes.”

- "…within the United States, black males have (you may be surprised to discover) the highest self-esteem of any group. Yet on academic measures black males score the lowest. The reason is that self-esteem in these cases is generated by factors unrelated to studies, such as the ability to beat up other students or a high estimation of one’s sexual prowess.”

D'Sucio incredibly sees 1982 Kenya as the root of the future destruction of American Colonialization, assuming, of course, that people still see American Colonialization as a good thing. "Invade their countries, kill their leaders and ram American style freedom down their throat (oh yeah, and drill a little of their oil as we give them their freedom)."

The movie makes the claim that “America must grow so liberty grows.”

Really? What is the real-world meaning of this line? Where are we “growing?” With U.S. military bases in the majority of the world’s countries, which direction are we to “grow” next? Fascist empires have proclaimed their naked desire to rule the world before. This film seems to champion this idea unabashedly. Code word after code word obscures the real meaning these people mean to impart. The saddest thing is that Obama himself is on board with their concerns and is in no way opposed to these aims. This is kabuki theater aimed at uneducated, irrational viewers. There doesn’t appear to be any truth in sight, whatsoever, the ideologues behind this piece so deluded by their own bullshit that they couldn’t make a valid point if their lives depended on it.
Paraphrasing from the above quoted article D'Sucio and his backers will fleece the ignorant poor white-wing who consistently vote against their own best interests. Such customers are numerous. The Tea Party will  internalize and make this nonsense part of their body of knowledge but no one will touch on any of the realities of the day!!!

Writer/director Dinesh D’Souza is a slick operator. His book was called, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.” Rage? Black must equal rage in some lexicon. The claim is as false as everything else in this moronic mind wash. Dinesh hails from the American Enterprise Institute, the minor leagues for wannabe plutocrats. He knows from which direction his cash flows.

I pity the anti-fascists who will sit through this assault on intelligence for educational purposes. The central theme of the piece can be summed up in this one sentence from D’Souza’s Rage book:

“This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son.”

It's not likely that this movie will change anyone's vote!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's not over til the fat lady sings but she is warming up!

The American public has moved too far to the right and is preparing to officiate at its own funeral!  The international corporations have owned all of the republican party and too much of the democratic party for several decades - even without their handpicked supreme court giving them voting privileges;  in American elections regardless of their nationality!  They have taken over the media - newspapers, radio and television. The "liberal media" that conservatives like to point to on those rare occasions when they actually investigate and report on an important issue is a myth. The media now is owned by the corporate world and the republican  party. The Tea Party is a poison that corporations have used to inject into the jugular of the old republican party that used to provide intelligent and civil opposition to the democratic party that trusted government just a little more than big business. Members of that group are either walking out in disgust, have learned to go along to get along with the amateur, vocal and irrational Teaparty, or are paralyzed by fear of losing their prestigious government jobs.

The Teaparty members, sometimes suicidal politically, have learned how to paralyze government, thus proving the corporate mantra that government doesn't work by keeping it from working. With the funding of people like the Koch Brothers, the help of the corporate controlled media and the laziness of the voting public, they have managed to thwart the efforts of a sometimes haplessly naive Obama to revive an economy that the republicans left in a state of entropy and successfully run on the platform of "Obama's bad economy" in order to return to the same tax and international policies that created the collapse - a collapse that Obama had rescued and actually improved. The effectiveness of this infusion of money into the political campaign was demonstrated by the Koch Brothers convincing voters to support Scott Walker even though the voters rejected his policies. This radical wing of the republican is now effectively in control and have hoisted their poster boy, Paul Ryan, to be the number two man on the republican ticket. Ironically, the religious right, including Mormons, will be supporting a man to be one heartbeat away from president whose philosophical inspiration was an atheist!

The epitome of the reckless abandon and voter acceptance of right wing radicalism can be seen in Missouri where Todd Akins, supported by the vice presidential nominee, stated that there was no such thing as a woman getting pregnant from rape because if she was actually raped her body would reject the pregnancy. Even after this statement, seen nearly universal as idiotic, Akins is still ahead in the polls. Moderation and reason is dead in Missouri and dying elsewhere.

Romney, Ryan and corporate world will win the next election. People will actually vote for their own marginalization believing they are doing the Christian thing. This, IMO, as I wrote in my book, "The Rise and Fall of The American Middle Class," will be the final nail in the coffin of the great experiment, American Democracy.

This isn’t the America I grew up in! America doesn’t make things anymore. We just finance those foreigners who do and swap money around. We have become a country of money changers. As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, manufacturing has fallen from a 28% in 1945 to 12% in 2010.  For someone my age, you don’t need statistics to know this. In the 50 years since our middle class reached a peak in the 60s, our work force has changed from blue collar to white collar. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with this; it’s a symptom not a cause of our employment problems which began in  2008.

Looking back at the days when I was a young married man, most everyone I knew either worked in the building trades or in factories; mostly small family owned factories but some worked in large corporate factories. There were a few bookkeepers and accountants and sales people. I had some friends who taught school and some who ran their own small businesses. We were the new middle class produced by the social legislation of the New Deal and educational opportunities provided by the GI bill.

Low cost real estate loans not only provided affordable housing for millions of Americans, it provided well-paying jobs for construction workers.  Housing developments sprang up all over the country. What was nice about our country then was that most of us knew our boss. The furniture, clothing, cars, and most everything we spent our money on was made in America.

But something happened on the way to Utopia: Ronald Reagan and his supply side economists were not satisfied with enough and had no stomach for sharing. They resented the limitations that the New Deal had placed on them. They wanted to return to the unfettered financial manipulation of the 1920’s, the kind of wheeling and dealing that caused the Great Depression. Thanks to Reagan, the Bush’s and Clinton, they got their way.

One of the barriers to getting more of the pie was organized labor. Reagan’s amnesty brought in hundreds of thousands of union busting laborers. That took care of the jobs that couldn’t be exported and the free trade agreements enabled the burgeoning world of multi-national firms to export the jobs to countries where virtual slave labor was abundant.  Wal-Mart whose sales exceed the GDP of many nations, including Sweden, Austria, Norway, Denmark and Saudi Arabia, is the epitome of the misery free trade has wrought and is invisible when you buy a shirt from them; a shirt we could still afford if it were made in the USA by workers earning enough money to buy a shirt themselves.

What we are seeing today, with this economic crisis is the fruit of the 30 years of Reagan’s supply side or trickle-down economics. Until, and unless, we reverse it and return the jobs back home through the Alexander Hamilton-like protectionist trade policies, most of us will be standing at the door of the elevator waiting for the driver to return and take us back up to an upper floor with 10% unemployment being the norm.

“President Grover Cleveland in the 1888 State of the Union address had this to say:
“The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor.

As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”

This unsustainable condition continued to retrogress until it reached a point in 1929 where the system collapsed from lack of consumers who could afford to buy the products they were making. In 1928, one year before the global economic collapse, the wealthiest .001% of the U.S. population owned 892 times more than 90% of the nation’s citizens. There are many micro theories for the collapse of the economy then but the lack of consumers permeates all of them. As bad as it was then, it’s worse now! Today, the top .001% of the U.S. population owns 976 times more than the entire bottom 90%. This again is not sustainable, and makes for a very volatile economy.

The recent financial crash was a result of too much money in the hands of too few people who had nothing to spend it on. Their larder was full! Had it not been for help from the government, we well may have had a collapse worse than in 1929. Bailing the banks out, however, did nothing for the average American who was thrown out of work by the collapse of the building industry and the collateral reduction in business activity. The obvious reaction would be a healthy application of Keynesian Economics. Ironically it was resisted by the very ones who survived only because of it; financial aid from government. The decision by the Supreme Court giving corporations all the privileges of being deemed a “person” without any of the responsibilities enabled them to funnel money into the electoral process and determine the outcome of elections.

We literally, now  have a government at the federal level that is de facto owned by international corporations. With the weakening of our government as a protective entity, we are in real danger of becoming what Marc Bloch describes as a “feudal society” in his book by that name, with government by, for and of the rich. It’s a cold hard fact that there is no such thing as laissez faire. It can’t exist for long. Either you have a government that controls business or business that controls government. A healthy stable economy requires a balance – as we had from the end of WWII until the slow dismantling of New Deal legislation and the rebirth of supply side economics. Capitalism is a harsh appeal to selfishness and unchristian darwinistic survival of the fittest. Its sole redeeming quality is that it has been very effective at producing goods and it will only continue to do this as long as good government prevents it from emasculating itself.

I won’t be here but our progeny will. We have four children, all adults now, of course, 14 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. In addition, our brothers and sisters all have children and grandchildren.  I can’t count the cousins. I am not able to wash my hands of the whole mess that greed and selfishness has made of my country because my genes will still be around…until the end. Every living organism has a life cycle; birth, growth, maturity, degeneration, atrophy and death. The same is true of states/empires. All have fallen and all will. I believe the end of the United States as a great dominating empire is about here. I think my generation’s life cycle runs parallel to the blossoming and impending fall of our nation as an exceptional society.

There are multiple reasons given by historians for the fall of the Roman Empire: Here are a few that are most applicable to the USA, the most dominant empire since Rome:
  1. Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor (Legislative, Executive and Judicial)
  2. Decline in Morals
  3. Political Corruption
  4. Fast expansion of the Empire
  5. Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending
  6. Failing Economy
  7. Unemployment of the Working Classes
  8. Decline in Ethics and Values

While all of these problems exist in the United States,  the most dangerous ones are the wars and the economy. The other six exacerbate the two primary problems.

"The American people, it seems, are bored with war. Like a reality show that's gone on too long, it ceases to shock, shame or even interest. Recently, when pollsters asked what the most important problems facing the country are, just 3 percent mentioned Afghanistan, the war of choice at that time. Even when combined with Iraq it had not reached double digits for several months. In a CBS poll it did not register at all. A Pew poll the same month found that just 23 percent said they were following the situation closely. And they do not like what they see. Polls show that 60 percent of Americans believed Afghanistan is a lost cause, and roughly half compared it to Vietnam and favored a timetable for withdrawal."

The war profiteers have done it. With the help of two administrations, including Obama’s, they have converted an act of mass murder into an endless war attracting very little public concern.  The rich folks' kids are not involved, there is no draft, the voters were distracted with an extension of a deficit bulging tax cuts and we are borrowing from a communist nation to pay for it. What's not to like, at least until some future group of voters are forced to pay for it....somehow. And the profits just keep rolling in.

As Milo Minderbinder, the war profiteer extraordinaire of Heller's Catch 22, said,
"In a democracy, the government is the people, Milo explained. "We're the people, aren't we? So we might as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry."

Halliburton Chevron, ExxonMobil, Blackwater and many others, with the swinging door between the Bush White House and the corporate world, has made this a fait accompli! America has become, or maybe I should say has been for some time, the most war-like country in history, only now the corporations are in charge. How has this happened?

Personally, after serving reluctantly during the Korean War, I was through with war, or hoped and thought I was. I believe most Americans felt the same way. Then along came Viet Nam, a totally political and needless war. I think that, for the most part, our government was honorable in its first. It became more and more political, more and more deadly and more and more needless. It ended tragically and we lost. We were no longer undefeated.

Again, many of us were through with war and hoped that the USA was too. Wrong again. There are just too many people of power who benefit or think they would benefit by war. I won't go into those people and their reason now but they learned a lot from Viet Nam; to the extent possible, isolate the public from the war. The Neocons made sure the military was all volunteer...avoid the war awareness that democratic participation produces! Avoid public awareness of the true cost in human life and fiscal cost by privatization. Who cares that a private contractor, a mercenary, is killed? Avoid contemporary awareness of the fiscal cost by borrowing. Who cares about the war if we are not taxed and are not required to make ANY sacrifice?

9/11 provided a fortuitous opportunity for making war. Of course, we made war with the wrong country and with tragic consequences but a profitable war all the same; and that's the important thing to Milo Minderbinder and the Dick Cheneys of the world.

Now, in addition to fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we've become embroiled in still another never ending war; this, while we are occupying South Korea, Iraq, and in a sense, Germany and Japan. We will stay in these countries indefinitely relieving their governments of the expense of a military, and who knows how long we will stay in a shooting war in Afghanistan or how involved we will subsequently be in Libya, particularly now that nobody really cares and of which fewer and fewer will be aware.

The attack on the middle class is more insidious than the attack on the Twin Towers. The plight of the Libyans is truly sad. The plight of 15 million out-of-work Americans and their families is sadder and it is at home, where our military should be.

What does this portend for our national well-being? Wealth is usually needed to underpin military power, and military power is usually needed to acquire and protect wealth. While worrying about their foes, states playing in the world arena must constantly maintain a delicate internal equilibrium. Armies are required for security, but they cost money. Military superiority by itself is often deceiving, since it may be weakening a state's ability to compete economically and fund future conflicts.

The combination of the U.S.'s declining rate of industrial growth and its extensive military commitments spells trouble: "Decision-makers in Washington must face the awkward and enduring fact that the sum total of the United States' global interests and obligations is nowadays far larger than the country's power to defend them all simultaneously." Even aside from this dilemma, American dominance is on the wane, not because the nation is growing poorer or weaker but because others are becoming richer and stronger. We can expect both China and Japan to improve their shares of world power; if the European Community can submerge national disputes and agree on common goals, then it too will find its wealth and influence increasing. The Soviet Union possesses a vast military machine and a stagnant economy; uh-oh for the U.S.S.R. India could be an awakening giant.

It simply has not been given to any one society to remain permanently ahead of all the others.  The threat to the interests of the United States can come from a failure to adjust sensibly to the newer world order.  I see no American  leaders or movements on the horizon that will recognize the fact that a healthy survival depends on our accepting a diminishing status gracefully. But until it is convincingly refuted by other theorists or the years ahead, The rise and fall of the great powers stands as a fascinating response to ancient questions about the life-span of nations.

So who will survive longest, me or the USA?   The International Monetary Fund has just announced that in 2016, China’s economy, the sum total of what she produces, will exceed ours so I’m betting on myself. How ironic that our Nation, our independence from England, resulted from a reaction or aversion to a giant corporation, The East Indian Tea Company, receiving tax breaks from the government – which in reality, it owned; and the end of our nation, as we have known it, may well result from our desire to give tax breaks to corporations - which, in reality, own the government.  I see no Eisenhowers, Trumans or Roosevelts on the horizon and my doctors tell me I’m in for 100!

Friday, August 17, 2012

New high (or low) in campaign lies

The party conventions haven’t even been held yet and this is already shaping up, if not already, to be the most duplicitous presidential campaign in the history of the United States.

Mitt Romney and his campaign have told an unprecedented number of easily exposed lies but even after being publicly debunked,  they continue telling the same lies in their appearances and commercials.

The earliest was that Obama made the recession worse – then lying about making the claim. Another early one was the claim that because of taxation on corporations from whence he earns much of his income,  he pays a 50% tax rate.

“The right-wing apologetics now focus on the claim that Romney’s taxes aren’t really low, because we should impute the taxes that corporations effectively paid on his behalf. But there are at least two things wrong with this argument.

First, $13 million of the total was carried interest, which gets taxed like capital gains but is really just commissions that receive special treatment for no good reason. No profits taxes were paid on that income; right there, a minimally defensible tax code would have levied $2.6 million more in taxes on Romney.

Second, just the other day the usual suspects were calling for big cuts in corporate taxes, arguing that these taxes don’t really fall on stockholders, they fall mainly on workers and consumers. Now, suddenly, the taxes fall on stockholders after all. Interesting.

“Meanwhile, the Romney campaign is signalling that it’s going to try to spin this as ‘he pays lots of taxes’ ”! This was effectively refuted in a column by Paul Krugman.

Then the Romney campaign took a comment out of context claiming that he demeaned the accomplishment of successful small business owners by illustrating the importance of cooperation in our society.

The most recent and blatantly dishonest statement, one which has become the campaign mantra; and apparently one on which they are going to use to obfuscate the republican party’s historical opposition to Medicare; is the claim that Obama cut $716 Billion from Medicare services to fund “Obamacare.” Actually,  cut costs of Medicare and the cuts were supported by Ryan in the senate:

“Those Medicare savings - achieved through reduced provider reimbursements and curbed waste, fraud and abuse, not benefit cuts – appear in the House Republicans’ FY 2013 budget, which Ryan authored.” It would be nice if these were the only lies and exaggerations coming out of the Romney campaign.  It’s not as if Obama hasn’t spread a few himself but they are dwarfed in significance and quantity of the Romney campaign. They are listed here:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Liberal attacks on Mormonism are irrational and hate driven.

I'm a liberal and LDS. I can't vote for Romney because of his secular beliefs and practices. I share his religious view. We (liberals) decry the venomous attacks on our liberal or progressive candidates; attacks that go beyond logic and civil discourse. We look down on them for their lack of "objectivity" and fairness.

I am seeing the same low intellect, visceral, opinionated, fact deficient, attacks on the Mormon Church. Mitt Romney is not the Mormon Church. He is not running as a Mormon and the Mormon Church is not endorsing him. I thought we liberals were above that kind of guilt by association generalization.
Apparently not. My religion is very important to me. More so than politics. We liberals claim that we want the dialogue restricted to the issues. We hated the birther baloney and the Reverent Wright nonsense but we are doing the same thing with Romney only in reverse.  Instead of attacking Romney vicariously through the church, we are attacking the church erroneously hoping it will rub off on Romney.

Thom Hartmann is the leader in this shameful activity. In a discussion with a caller, a disenchanted ex-Mormon, he referred to "Joseph Smith and his merry band of polygamists." Polygamy was practiced by less than 2% of the Mormon people and only with permission from the church leaders. Polygamy is repugnant to most of us but it is not prohibited by the Bible. As for being Merry, the Mormons had been chased out of Ohio and Missouri at the time of Joseph Smith's murder. A few years earlier 17 innocent men, women and children were murdered at Haun's Mill in Missouri. The Mormons in Nauvoo had gone through unspeakable hardship in their exodus form Missouri to Illinois.  They were driven out of their homes, leaving everything behind, by the infamous extermination order issued  by Lilburn Boggs, governor of Missouri.  At the time of his murder, they were facing the same thing and in fact were chased out of Illinois and finally settled in Utah. Does this sound like a "merry band?" What point is there in Hartmann's depiction, other than to vent his personal dislike for Mormons.

Hartmann went on in his discussion with the ex-Mormon, who claimed far more knowledge of the Mormon church than he proved in his remarks, Hartmann said that, paraphrasing, Smith was killed by two or three gunmen. In fact, Smith was murdered by men who were part of a mob and were turned loose on the Carthage Jail by authorities.

Today, Mike Papantonio, filling in for Hartmann on his talk show, took a different tack. He attacked Romney through the church, once again, talking ad naseum about polygamy which was banned when it became illegal in Utah, and the Church's former ban on blacks holding the Priesthood.  I won't try to defend that. I don't understand it. But our founding fathers, who we like to deify didn't grant blacks the vote until recently. It's possible that slavery, and the attitude that enabled it,  had something to do with the Mormon edict on the priesthood. I'm not claiming this is the case, just discussing it. Papantonio made fun of the Mormon Church having 12 apostles. Duhh, the primitive church, the Church established by Christ, which we claim to have reestablished, had 12 apostles who carried the church forward after Christ was murdered.

C'mon liberals, let's keep it clean, intellectual and go after Romney's tax plan, economic beliefs, his promise to eliminate Obamacare and privatize Social Security. His church, my church, isn't responsible for what he says.

I'll not vote for Romney but neither will I listen to Thom Hartmann anymore.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Mormon Connection

Or I should say disconnection. I am a faithful, practicing LDS.  My Mormon friends/family are the most generous, gentle, forgiving (they even forgive me for being a liberal), loving people I know. It is difficult for me to understand why Mormons resent their government, their government, doing, or trying to do, the same things we are commanded to do by the scriptures and our Church leaders.  As a Mormon, I would love to vote for and see a Mormon president but I would never vote for a candidate just because he was a Mormon. When Mitt Romney became the Republican candidate, I promised I would never malign him personally. And I won't, but I have to make the observation that not only has he made his fortune in a manner that is repugnant to me and is contrary to our four basic set of scriptures, OT, NT, B of M, and D & C, but his economic and tax policies would have a deleterious effect on the poor and even the middle class.

When I point out to my fellow members that government policies of wealth redistribution and health care are exactly what we are commanded to do by the scriptures.  The usual response I get is "but that is government" as if government is a hostile or even satanic entity. That is not, in fact, what our scriptures teach us.

The 12th Article of Faith is: We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

The Doctrine & Covenants, Section 134, 1 reads:  We believe that governments  were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men  accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

There is no reason that we should reject LDS-like policies of government because they are of the government. 

Mitt Romney made his money by hurting workers, both poor and middle class, he has no distinction of the difference in people and corporations, and his life style, his extreme opulence, and conspicuous consumption as demonstrated by his auto elevator and his expenditure of $77,000 (an amount that could support two families for a year) for his horse's ballet lesson is anathema to what we are taught by the scriptures. 

Book of Mormon - 2nd Nephi 
Chapter 9: 30 But wo unto the rich who are rich as to the things of the world For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.

Proverbs 22 
16 He that oppresseth  the poor to increase his briches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Doctrine and Covenants, 
Section 84: 112 And the bishop, Newel K. Whitney, also should travel round about and among all the churches, searching after the poor to administer to their wants by humbling the rich and the proud.

Section 56:  16 Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!

Book of Mormon - Mosiah
Chapter 4: 22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

New Testament - John
Chapter 2:  
13 ¶And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
It is not my purpose here to denegrate Romney's qualification to be President. I oppose him solely on his announced intentions to repeal Obamacare without a plan to replace it, his proposal to privatize Medicare, his belief that concentrating wealth at the top, supply side economics, creates jobs and his general preference of laissez faire over regulation of business and his confusion of the distinction of people and corporations.