America needs an enema

That was one of many great lines delivered by Jack Nicholson in Batman.  At one point, I would have suggested that Washington DC was that town.  Now, I think this entire country is constipated.  Just look at the way people interact with each other.  Check the differences in how media is disseminated or viewed.  We are in a state of utter chaos, and much of it is of our own doing.

For starters, VOX ran a very interesting article on the difference in news coverage on the Trump/Russia issue between the right-wing media outlets and everyone else.

The past week of Trump scandals for people reading mainstream news outlets has gone something like this: President Trump fired the FBI director who was investigating his campaign’s connection with Russia — and then the next day, Trump shared classified information with Russian officials.

But on conservative news outlets, the narrative was very different. It was about an FBI director whose firing was long overdue, and a liberal media desperate to take down Trump.

You can find the entire article here, and it is well worth the read.  The gist of the article shows that we are living in two different realities.  People who only get their news from one source or from within their own safe zone are talking entirely different incidents with people in other news circles.  When you hear Trump supporters dismissing the news reports, it’s not a defensive measure in as much as they believe something totally different because of what their media is telling them.

Then, there’s the sheer flood of “leaked” information.  As a federal employee, I find it difficult to believe that my colleagues have suddenly found it impossible to do their jobs without potentially violating the law by discussing classified information or other things.  When administrations change, the appointed positions change.  The rank-and-file workers don’t.  I was hired in under GW Bush, and if I remain until retirement, there’s no idea of how many other presidents I’ll serve.  That said, the person sitting in the WH doesn’t change my work ethic one bit.  I still try to do my job to the best of my ability now as I did when I was first hired.

The amount of the leaks makes part of me think it’s intentionally done to sow discord.  Let’s face it, there is enough discord in America right now to circle the world about a dozen times.  People are literally at each other’s throats.  A right-wing white supremacist killed two people on a commuter train in Portland after hurling slurs at two passengers who were thought to be Muslim.  There’s all kinds of crap going on everywhere, and it seems like it will only get worse.  The pejoratives fly out of people’s mouths like breath on a cold winter morning.  We’ve found out that even the FBI had false information that was meant to disrupt the system.

This country needs to take a massive dump.  We need to purge all the bulls**t out of our system.  Some of us need to be reminded that, regardless of ideological beliefs, we are not enemies.  I cringe whenever I hear Americans referring to fellow Americans as enemies.  I don’t even refer to football rivals as enemies.  That word carries powerful and dangerous connotations.  Someone needs to find an equivalent to a giant bottle of Fleet, shove it up the figurative ass of America, and squeeze that mofo until it turns to powder.

We’re full of sh*t, both figuratively and literally.  We cannot continue as a country like this without doing damage to our society as well as relationships to our allies.  If we don’t unclog the system, something is bound to happen.  We’ve gone from being an example of democracy to looking like a disturbed red ant hill.

I don’t like it.  I don’t like it one bit.  I honestly hope that the investigators take thing seriously and act appropriately on their findings.  If nothing has occurred, then everyone should be able to see the information from the investigation to see where that conclusion was drawn.  Likewise, if there was any bad behavior between Americans and outsiders to influence the election, there should be no sparing of the powers of the judiciary to give America the justice we deserve.  That’s the only way we will begin to remove this sh*t from our system in order to recover to what we were before.

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So much for minority outreach

Last month, Sen. Rand Paul headlined the opening of a minority outreach office in Detroit, Michigan on behalf of the GOP.  As part of their post-mortem assessment from the loss of the 2012 Presidential election, there was a consensus that more had to be done to attract minorities to the party.  Seems that Art Laffer didn’t get that message.

In an interview on Fox News Channel, Mr. Laffer said the following:

“The minimum wage makes no sense whatsoever to me,” former Reagan economist Art Laffer told Fox News host Jenna Lee. “Honestly it’s just the teenage — Black Teenage Unemployment Act. And this is the very group that we need to have jobs, not be put out of work because of a minimum wage. So, I’m very much in favor of, at least for teenagers, getting rid of the minimum wage.”

Now, given that Blacks make up 16% of the total population, how can anybody suggest that the minimum wage is the “Black Teenage Unemployment Act”?  I don’t know which is worse, the fact that he stated that with a straight face, or the fact that the Fox News host didn’t call him out for that.  As high as Black teenage unemployment has been recently, there are a lot of them who are NOT getting minimum wage as they are not even earning a wage.

I won’t hold my breath on the Right Wing Outrage Machine cranking up to demand an apology for poking fun at young Black teenagers as that machine did over the MSNBC/Romney grandchild incident.  As a long-term observer of such behavior, I am already aware that these remarks do not require any retraction of sort from Fox News or Laffer himself.  Any attempt by people outside the far-Right world will simply be dismissed as “playing the Race card” by those who will defend such stuff.

In a post this morning called “In this economy, jobless benefits a lifeline”, Jay Bookman hit on the mentality that appears to fuel this particular Fox interview.

“For the past couple of years, Republicans have fought the idea of extended benefits every time the issue has come up, even though we remain in a very difficult time, with job seekers vastly outnumbering job vacancies.

“The GOP theory, if there is one, seems to be perverse twist on demand-side economics: If you make the unemployed miserable enough and threaten them with bankruptcy, foreclosure, eviction, humiliation and maybe even starvation, they will want work even more and then those jobs will magically appear. The mechanism behind the second part of that process remains a total mystery.”

“Think of it as a simple equation: If the economy is producing X number of jobs, but you have X+Y number of people needing jobs, does increasing the desperation of Y somehow increase X?”

I’m not sure if Jay listened to this interview before writing that segment there because it sounds to me as though he heard American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Michael Strain and his idea for the long-term unemployed.  Mr Strain thinks the long-term unemployed should be hired at a lower minimum wage than everybody else just because they’ve been out of a job for so long.  From the same video above:

“I certainly agree with Art that we should lower the minimum wage for teenagers, I also think we should lower the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed. You know, right now, if you’re a worker and you apply for a job and you’ve been unemployed for 7 months, the firm may say ‘hey, you know, I wonder if there is something about this person maybe previous firms have seen something that I’m not seeing — I’m not going to hire them.’ And the reason that, well a reason that a firm might feel that way is because the government says that you have to take a $7.25 per hour risk on that worker. So if we lower that down to, say, $4 an hour, then the risk is much less to the firm, firms are going to be more likely to hire these workers. Now, I think if we do that, for workers that are heads of households and that are working full-time, we don’t want them living in poverty, so, if we’re going to lower the minimum wage for those workers then we need to have some sort of a wage subsidy or an expansion of the earned income tax credit or something to make up the difference.”

Seems like one interview has given the young Black community and the long-term unemployed at least one good reason to look to the left for candidates to support.  One dumbass statement doesn’t automatically mean the entire party believes that stuff.  When you don’t hear anyone criticizing it, that does make you wonder if there is complicit agreement going on anyway.

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OMG!!! Voter Fraud has been found… sort of

As someone who is very interested in our election system, I came across a headline that caught my attention from Fox News.com that read:

Non-citizens caught voting in 2012 presidential election in key swing state

Naturally, I read through the story expecting to see some damning information in regards to Obama winning the election, and I was surprised that there wasn’t the obvious slant on the article.  I’m sure there will be people who will use this as fodder to push for Voter ID laws, but I’m not convinced that those laws would help at all, even in this case.  From the story:

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Wednesday that his office found 17 non-citizens illegally cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election — and has referred the case for possible prosecution.

The alleged crime would be a notable case of voter fraud in a key swing state. By law, only American citizens are allowed the privilege of casting ballots for the nation’s leaders.

There were 17 instances of non-citizens casting votes in Ohio in 2012.  That shows there is indeed a weakness within the system.  Unless those 17 people did not produce an ID, which is required in Ohio, those 17 instances show that simply requiring an ID will not stop votes being cast by ineligible voters.  Instead, the weakness in the system is at the point of registration.  If non-citizens were not allowed to register, then those 17 would not have been able to cast a vote no matter what form of ID they presented.  Their names would not have been on the voter rolls.  As the story continues, it appears that is more fact than fiction.

“I have a responsibility to uphold election law, and under both federal and state law you must be a citizen to vote,” said Husted, a Republican who has aggressively tried to investigate voter fraud cases in his state.

Husted also found that 274 non-citizens remain on the voting rolls.

[…]

As part of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voting rolls, election officials discovered that more than 257,000 dead people were still listed as active voters. Their names and status, Husted said, have since been removed.

In addition, election authorities note they have drastically reduced the number of duplicate registrations, from 340,000 in 2011 to just four this past November — and that more than 370,000 Ohio voters who have moved have been contacted to update their voting information.

These statistics are all due to problems with the registration process.  I’m not completely against the Voter ID laws as I have presented a photo ID since I started voting.  What I am against, however, is the discriminate way these laws are applied.  Requiring a photo ID for in-person voting does nothing to stop absentee fraud.  As shown by Ohio’s investigation, requiring a photo ID does not stop ineligible voters from casting votes when you allow them to register in the first place.  Until the registration process is solid and secure, none of the other stuff really matters in the grand scheme of things.

If I had the audience with politicians, both left and right, I would suggest they focus on securing the registration process and ensuring the voter registration rolls are continuously updated to ensure they are accurate when election time rolls around.  This should be a high priority job for the Secretary of State in each and every state and not some task that falls by the wayside because of budget cuts.  The SoS is supposed to ensure fair and accurate elections, and I think the registration process is the very first step in ensuring that we have fair elections.  Once the registration process is secure, then the ID requirements would ensure fair elections.  With sketchy rolls, showing an ID doesn’t mean anything if an invalid voter is registered and present on the roll.

I have to give Ohio kudos to both finding those 17 cases as well as only having 17 cases.  According to stats from the Secretary of State’s office, their total of official votes cast in 2012 for the presidential election was 5,633,245 votes out of 7,987,203 voters.  That means those non-citizen votes were 0.0003% of the total votes cast in the presidential election.  The 274 non-citizens still on the roll represent 0.0034% of the total registered voters as of the 2012 election.  The State of Ohio has found the needle in the haystack in this case.  The question remains as to how they will resolve the issue.  Will they ensure accurate registration, or will they stick to just asking for an ID and hoping the rolls are accurate?  For others, simply finding voter fraud validates everything they’ve said before, no matter how statistically small the proof is.

 

The best defense is sometimes no defense

Geraldo Rivera: ‘C*cksucking f*ggot’ is not an anti-gay slur if you grew up with it (via Raw Story )

In an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Thursday night, Geraldo Rivera defended actor Alec Baldwin’s use of the epithet “c*cksucking f*ggot” in an angry confrontation with a photographer. Rivera was agreeing with host Sean Hannity that…

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