Category: Politics

FERGUSON FALLOUT: TOP MISSOURI GOP LEADER PREFERS BULLETS TO BALLOTS

On July 17, 2014 NYPD cops used an illegal choke hold on Eric Gardner resulting in a homicide. On February 4, 1999 NYPD cops pumped 41 bullets into Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black male who had just returned home and was entering the apartment building where he lived, and on November 25, 2006 NYPD cops unleashed a barrage of over fifty bullets on Sean Bell, an unarmed black man who was leaving a night club after celebrating his upcoming wedding.

In each of these cases people demanded justice through peaceful protest and lawful means. Time will tell with Eric Gardner, but in other cases where NYPD cops murdered unarmed black men the cops got away with it, and little was done to address NYPD’s systemic problems of brutality and murder.

Within days of the police shooting of Michael Brown some 40 FBI agents launched an investigation, the Ferguson Police were relieved of authority to police the protesters and Democrats and Republicans in congress began efforts to curtail the militarization of police.

Rioting seems counter productive, but, if one objectively looks at the results, one is forced to acknowledge that the rioting in Ferguson did more in days, than years of peaceful activity to curtail NYPD violence have ever accomplished.

Why is it that the NYPD continues to get away with brutality and murder?
One is forced to wonder if riots are the only way to get the federal government to pay attention when police murder and brutalize whole communities. If riots had occurred in New York would 40 FBI agents be investigating that homicide of Eric Gardner?

Deaths at the hands of police are not rare incidents or aberrations, but a national issue. The StolenLives.org project has documented over 2000 murders by police since 1990 alone. Yet police brutality and murder continues to escalate. What can be done about it?

Those in Ferguson seeking peaceful solutions turned to political organizing. They have marched peacefully, discouraged violence, and set up voter registration tables urging people to “register to vote, get on juries and choose your leaders.” Channeling energy into peaceful efforts like voter registration is something we hope everyone would prefer to violence.

Well, perhaps not everyone. According to a report on Breitbart.com when Matt Wills, the Executive Director of the Missouri Republican National Committee learned that voter registration tables were being set up in Ferguson he replied ” I think it’s not only disgusting, but completely inappropriate.”

So what, Mr. Wills, is an appropriate response? Do nothing while unarmed black people are shot to death? Riot? Carry firearms to protect ones self from the police? Actually, a Texas group, calling itself “The Huey P. Newton Gun Club” thinks that is precisely what is needed. So, in Texas, about thirty mostly black protesters, marched with shot guns, rifles and signs demanding justice for Michael Brown. Such offers a frightening reminder of Malcom X’s prediction that racial injustice would be resolved by “the ballot or the bullet.”

Why, under these circumstances, does Matt Wills, a high level Missouri Republican National Committee member so oppose the very idea of voter registration that he calls it disgusting and inappropriate? Does he speak for the Republican Party? If not why has he not been fired? Does the Republican Party actually prefer the bullet to the ballot?

If Republican leaders oppose peaceful methods like voter registration and the ballot, what is left? Riots and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club.

DEMOCRATS WON’T AGREE TO SPEED CHILD DEPORTATIONS

With just days to go before the August recess Republican House members still haven’t come to an agreement on a bill to address the crisis created by the surge of Central American immigrant children entering the country. House Republicans remain divided on what to do, with conservatives opposing any bill that would send Obama money for immigration purposes other the deportation, while other House Republicans recommended amending the 2008 human trafficking law to speed up deportations of Central American immigrant children as part of a $1.5 billion spending package. House Republicans are scheduled to hold a meeting Friday morning to discuss how to proceed.

Because Conservative House members may oppose any bill that gives Obama funding for anything other than deportations House Speaker Boehner will need the support of House Democrats to pass a measure. But regardless of what House Republicans decide it appears House Democrats may not provide the votes needed to speed deportations, despite the fact quicker deportation is something that both Republicans and President Obama agree on.

According to a report in The Hill, a newspaper that covers congress, Democrats are largely in agreement with the due process protections in the 2008 human trafficking law that both Republicans and Obama would like to change.

According to Luis Gutierrez (D. Ill.) “Almost every Democrat I talk to says we should hold the line on laws passed to protect children from sex-trafficking and smugglers.”

According to The Hill, Gutierrez said President Obama was wrong to seek changes in the law. “I understand that people here are used to saying, ‘Oh, but you’re a Democrat, aren’t you going to follow the president? No, if the president’s wrong , the president’s wrong. I don’t think we should change the law.” Gutierrez concluded.

Republicans denounce Palin as irrelevant following anti-immigration rant

On ABC’s “This Week” several Republicans commented on Palins’ statement that the unsecured border crisis was  the last straw, and that it’s now time for impeachment.

But the Republicans interviewed all seemed dismissive of Palin and seemed determined disassociate the GOP from their former Vice Presidential candidate.

Ana Navarro, a GOP strategist pointed out that the Central American children were not sneaking across the border as Palin implied, but were instead seeking out border patrol agents and turning themselves in. A statement that exposed Palin’s claim that an “unsecured border” as the source of the current crisis was false with regard to most of the Central American children arriving in the U.S.

Navarros’ comment followed a segment on the same program by House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R. Virginia). Goodlatte, a conservative Republican, ridiculed Palin’s call for impeachment saying impeachment was not being considered because Obama had committed no criminal act that could justify impeachment.

Even Bill Kristol, whose conservative publication “The Weekly Standard,” had once run a glowing profile of Palin to bolster her reputation as a Vice Presidential candidate during the 2008 election campaign, stated that “no responsible Republican official has called for impeachment,” agreeing, in essence, that the Democrats would welcome an effort to impeach because it would be likely to enhance prospects for Democratic candidates in the 2014 congressional races.

Republican strategist Ana Navarro best summed up the mood of Republicans toward Palin saying “Nobody of responsibility, nobody in leadership, nobody of relevance has
talked about impeachment.”

With Palin now declared irrelevant by members of her own party the only question that remains is whether or not tea party types still have enough clout to force GOP to impeach. My guess is they do not.

COMIC RELEIF: Former Republican Governor Implies Republicans are A-Holes

I just couldn’t resist!

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who Republicans once hoped to run for president against Obama, had a few choice words his colleagues at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Speaking about the failure of Republicans to win the White House Barbour said that Romneys’  entire campaign strategy needed a “brutally honest assessment” and that the Republican Party needs “a very serious proctology exam.”

Considering what a proctologist examines  it says a lot about Barbours opinion some of his fellow Republicans.  Make no mistake about it, this may be good news.

It indicates an opening for bipartisan, since so many Democrats undoubtedly share Barbours assessment…

BITTER TEA: Thank You Tea Party, for Helping Re-elect President Obama

This was a pivotal election that may determine national policy for the next 50 years. It was an uphill fight. Obama could easily have lost. Indeed, no president since FDR had ever been re-elected with this high a jobless rate. And so it is time thank the Tea Party. They deserve the credit. Sure, there were plenty of factors: Romney was an inauthentic candidate; Obama had a better get out the vote effort, but in a very close election, where every vote mattered, the Tea Party pushed a lot of votes toward Obama.

Since the election I’ve been reading Tea Party sites to understand their thinking. Clearly, the tea they drink alters reality more powerfully than the marijuana brownies Colorado and Washington voted to legalize. Let’s examine four major reasons Obama won, and compare them with what  Tea Party Republicans say.

The four voter groups most responsible for re-electing Obama were women, Hispanics, blue collar white voters in states like Ohio, and independent/late deciding voters. I’m not saying other issues/voters did not matter, just that these voters tipped the balance in favor of Obama.

The Republican “war on women” cost Romney big time. Eliminating Planned Parenthood frightens many women, including those who oppose abortion, but rely on Planned Parenthood for pre-natal care, cancer screenings, and birth control.

RedState, a Tea Party site, admits Republicans have a problem, but opposes softening their positions, suggesting Republicans instead improve on the 7% edge Romney had with married women to offset what they call the “free contraception vote.” (RedState, 11/11/12, 21 Thoughts and Observations on the Election, point 9).

Nor was Romney helped by Republican candidates saying things like pregnancy from rape is the will of god, pregnancy of rape victims means the rape was not legitimate.

“Legitimate rape?” “pregnancy by gods will?” “free contraception vote”? What exactly is in that tea they drink?

Romney lost with Hispanic voters because Republicans supported discrimination. The Arizona law targeting Hispanics for harassment was widely embraced by Republicans. That drove Hispanics to the polls delivering to Obama the 49 electoral votes of Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. Historically, Florida Cubans vote overwhelmingly Republican, in this election Romney received less than 50% of Floridas’ Cuban vote!

According to RedState, Hispanics voted Obama not over discrimination, immigration or citizenship, but because “…most minorities will succumb to the class warfare and insidious identity politics employed by Democrats…” (RedState, 11/11/12 “21 Thoughts and Observations on the Election” point number 6).

Tea Party Republicans say immigrants are free loaders. One Tea Party blogger wrote: “It is not immigration policy that creates the strong bond between Hispanics and the Democratic Party, but the core democratic principles of a more generous safety net, strong government intervention in the economy, and progressive taxation. (Hot Air “Quotes of the Day” 11/9/12). In other words Hispanics were among the 47% Romney can’t worry about.

The reality is that non-citizen Hispanic voters have friends and family members that vote. Romney basically told these voters their friends and family members should leave the country. Is it any surprise they voted Obama? Some Republicans, even House Speaker Boehner and Sean Hannity of Fox news, recognize this reality, but the Tea Party wants none of it.

I say “go Tea Party” make your point loud and often, immigration reform will happen, and many voters will remember your bigotry, and deliver anti-Republican votes, for years, if not generations.

Now let’s talk about two demographics that Romney won: late deciding independents, and white, blue collar male voters in states like Ohio.  Romney could have prevailed in Ohio, most agreed, if he had received more votes from white, male, blue collar voters. Why didn’t more of them vote for Romney? Simple, they realized they had jobs because of Obamas decision to save the auto industry.

RedState published two articles cataloging over 50 reasons for the loss (11/7/12, “50 Reasons Republicans Lost the Election” and 11/11/12 “21 Thoughts and Observations on the Election”). Did these articles discuss support for the auto industry as an issue in losing Ohio? No. Instead RedState blamed black voters! (point 5, 21 Thoughts and Observations on the Election). True, increased black voter turn out – responding to voter suppression efforts such as voter ID requirements and reduced opportunities for early voting – did increase the black vote, but had more white, blue collar men voted Romney, Obama would not have won Ohio.

Finally, RedState writers found it “stupefying” that Obama won 55-44% among voters who said unemployment was the most important issue. It’s very simple: These voters saw an economy in trouble, a president who saved the auto industry. They remember Obama asking congress for a jobs bill, Republican leaders obstructing that effort, saying their number one priority was make Obama a one term president. This convinced enough late deciding/independent voters Obama had a plan to fix the economy that Republicans torpedoed for purely political reasons.

Romney on the other hand said it is not his job to worry about 47% of the country. Extremist Tea Party rhetoric convinced a lot of  voters re-electing President Obama was the best option. Now let’s see what happens…

BLOOD LIBEL OR NOT, SARAH PALIN IS AN ACCESSORY TO MURDER

Sarah Palins whining that she is being libeled because some are taking her to task for creating the type of political environment that encouraged the attempted assassination of Representative Giffords is nonsense.

When Republican senate candidate Sharron Angle called for using “Second Amendment remedies” to remove liberals from congress Palin did not condemn those comments, instead she decided to endorse Angle.

When people criticized the violent gun-laced shooting metaphors and warned it could lead to the very type of violence that Jared Lougghner engaged in Palin responded “Don’t retreat, instead reload.”

It is moral cowardice for Sarah Palin to now play the victim and deny all responsibility for creating this atmosphere after some wacko took her advice seriously.

Palin is clearly responsible for her deliberate decision to use gun laced metaphors in calling for political action. Plain is responsible for continuing to use such rhetoric even after many people, including Giffords herself, warned Palin of the danger, and Palins’ language, magnified by the national megaphone of FOX TV, certainly engendered an atmosphere of political hatred.

Palins decision to play the victim card is both bizarre and narcissistic when one considers that 9 year old Christina Green and 3 other people are dead,and 16 other people in Tucson were shot.

Under such circumstances Palins’ decision to complain she is being subject to “blood-libel” or any other kind of libel, is especially perverse.

A mentally unstable person acted on the vicious snake oil that Sarah Palin, FOX news, and their supporters deliberately choose to pedal, and while Palin may not be responsible for the shooting itself it is cowardly for her to deny any responsibility for the atmosphere she helped to create.

Much of the defense of Sarah Palin is built around claims that she can not be held responsible for the actions of a killer who is mentally deranged, and that much may be true, but to the extent that Loughner claims he heard voices telling him to kill, those voices were not hallucinations, they were the very words Palin and her supporters routinely filled the air waves of over the past two years…

Obama's call for nuclear power will not protect risky nuclear investments

Despite President Obama’s call for the development of nuclear power in the State of the Union address, events in Florida, Vermont and as far away Abu Dhabi make clear that the Obama administration can not protect nuclear investors. Even with federal government support, other factors, such as cost overruns, state regulation, nuclear waste storage, decommissioning cost, and the hit portfolios would take in the event of a nuclear accident, combine to make nuclear an awful investment.

Despite the green energy rhetoric the Obama seems to prefer the two most environmentally harmful sources of energy — nuclear and coal.

The Obama administration seems uninterested in the cleanest fossil fuel alternative — natural gas, and are doing only token projects with regard to solar and wind energy. But despite Obama’s  call for building more nuclear power plants those considering investing should be wary.

As recent events summarized below make clear, nuclear power continues to be plagued by problems, and remains a bad investment idea.

Advisory downgrades Florida Power and Light to “sell” after cancellation of nuclear project

The Florida Public Utility Commission rejected Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) request for a major electricity rate increase, which would have paid for the construction of two Toshiba-Westinghouse nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Miami. FPL responded by halting plans to build the two nuclear reactors.

Although state law authorized the Public Utility Commission to bill ratepayers in advance to build nuclear reactors, years before any electricity is actually delivered the Utility Commission decided to refuse FPL’s effort to burden ratepayers with the financial risks. of building new reactors, while offering little to none of the projected profits in return.

Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor facing problems

Radiation levels at least 40 times higher than that permitted for drinking water were found in a monitoring well at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Although no drinking water samples have shown contamination the evidence that radiation has escaped into ground water have endangered not only the health and environment, but efforts to obtain an extension of the plants operating license. The extension may be denied because rising radiation levels indicate radioactive water is leaking and contaminating the soil. The rising radiation levels have so spooked state residents that the state’s health department have been posting updates almost daily on the monitoring efforts.

If Vermont Yankee is denied the extension it will be the first such denial since 1989, when residents of Sacramento voted to close the Rancho Seco nuclear plant owned by a municipal utility in California. Although such decisions are usually decided by the federal government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission, state agencies have played an increasing role in recent years.

Since Entergy bought Vermont Yankee in 2002, it has shown itself to be incompetent at running nuclear facilities. In 2007 a cooling tower at Vermont Yankee literally collapsed. A vice president for Entergy lied to state officials, telling them the Vermont Yankee plant did not have underground piping that carried radioactive water, when in fact it did. And the likelihood of further yet to be disclosed problems are believed to be the motivating factor in Entergy’s efforts to obtain permission to spin off Vermont Yankee and five other nuclear plants, and thus limit Entergy’s legal liability.

Areva loses an investor and a reactor deal with Abu Dhabi

The French oil company, Total, has canceled plans to invest in Areva after the French nuclear company lost a bid to build two new reactors in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Total’s director general also questioned if EPR – Areva’s flagship new reactor – could be built less expensively without compromising safety following a joint statement by the Finnish, British and French nuclear safety bodies, stating the EPR’s control and safety systems should be changed to avoid both failing at once. Areva has been struggling financially because the EPR nuclear design has been subject to postponement and cancellations in major markets like the U.S. and China because of unsafe design.

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