Sunday, September 25, 2011

Herman Cain: Pizza Guy for President?

Ex CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain
On Saturday, Herman Cain won Florida's straw poll, and by quite a large margin. He's showing himself a serious threat to Rick Perry in the fight for the Republican candidacy.  Unfortunately, Herman Cain is an incompetent, inexperienced bigot who has absolutely no business being considered for President.

First, let's talk about his political experience.  Well, there is none.  That was easy.  He's never held any political office.  He's absurdly proud of this, going so far as to claim it's a good thing:
Knowing how Washington works isn't necessarily an advantage. As a businessman going in, I don’t want to know how Washington works. I want to change Washington D.C. and so by not knowing how it is supposed to work I can ask tough questions that will help change the culture.
That's wonderful.  He doesn't want to know how Washington works.  Cain apparently thinks that being President of the United States is like being in a comedy movie, where pluck and audacity is enough to succeed at pretty much any task in the world.  Maybe he imagines that he's like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde 2, and that his ignorance of political culture will be just what's needed to shock all those stuffy old codgers out of their ruts and get something done for a change! He's definitely shown that he doesn't have the slightest idea how government works, with bizarre statements about how he'll only sign bills that are three pages or shorter.  I guess he just doesn't like to read.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Did Georgia Kill an Innocent Man?

Short answer: Probably.

Slightly longer answer: Probably, but there's no way to know for sure, since they killed him

Troy Davis was charged with killing a police officer in 1989.  There was no physical evidence of the murder, only witness testimony and circumstantial evidence.  Since then, out of nine eyewitnesses, seven of them have recanted.  They signed affidavits changing their testimony.  Witnesses stated publically that they had been pressured by the police to implicate Davis.  But the prosecution argued that the affidavits were not admissable in court, and that the statements of the other witnesses were not relevant.  The court ignored the fact that witnesses implicated someone else as well.

Another man confessed to the murder.  Three witnesses signed affidavits stating that he confessed to them.  But this man was not subpoenaed, so the evidence was dismissed.

They executed him last night.  With no direct evidence of guilt.  With the majority witness testimony that was used as proof recanted by the witnesses themselves.  With the witnesses stating that they had been pressured to implicate him.  With another man having confessed.

Anyone who doesn't think that any of these developments is enough to cast some doubt on the case is an idiot or they're just blood-thirsty.  Any one of these things casts doubt, and all of them together casts a whole lot of it.

And he wasn't even given another trial.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Class Warfare

Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to the media knows that the GOP loves to accuse liberals of something they call "class warfare."  By the Republican definition, it seems that anything that doesn't benefit the rich is a form of class warfare.  Raising taxes on the wealthy, lowering taxes on the middle class, increasing social benefits for the poor, it's all somehow class warfare.  A liberal can't order coffee in the morning without a gaggle of Repubicans shouting, "Class warfare!  Class warfare!" 

It's ridiculous.  It's also dishonest.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bigotry is Bad for Business

Chris Hughes, Co-founder of Facebook
As you can tell from my previous post, I don't have much patience with people who are willing to deny an American citizen their rights.  It's simple: this is America, and we have rights.  Those rights don't get to be threatened and denied just to make some people feel like they're better than others.  Because of that, I didn't get too much into any other reasons.  If we're arguing against slavery, should we have to bring up economic reasons to end it?  That's nothing short of insulting.

But there are other reasons, too.  Chris Huges, one of the founders of Facebook and a native of North Carolina, explains too the Wall Street Journal that discrimination like this is more than just morally reprehensible, it's bad for business, as well.

Hughes . . . who is engaged to social activist Sean Eldridge, says the move will chase entrepreneurs like himself out of the region and hobble job-creation efforts at a time when state unemployment is above 10%.
He's even said that he'll donate $10 for every person who "Likes" the Facebook page of Equality NC, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to equal rights.  (Up to $10,000.)  Good for you, Chris.

Lots of people talk about conservatives as if they just have different priorities.  Republicans are said to care about business so much because they think that happy, unregulated  and un-taxed businesses are the only thing that can pull us out of our economic slump.  And sure, 90% of the time, a Republican lawmaker will go out of his way to give a corporation anything it wants, regardless of the individual citizens that he hurts along the way.

But then you see something like this.  It's pretty clear that when it comes down to the line, Republicans are more concerned with controlling our lives than they are helping businesses.  Or maybe they just don't want any new businesses.  After all, their campaign trails are paid for by the old businesses, who feel like they'd do better without the competition from any fresh new business.

Maybe it's more fair to say that they "making things better" isn't really something Republicans care about at all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

North Carolina's Amendment One

Throughout the nation, conservatives are working hard taking away our rights as American citizens.  In many cases, it's not enough for them to simply deny a person's liberty.  The average Republican respects strength, brutality, and clear statements of superiority.  What could be more brutal than stomping down on the face of someone you've already defeated?  Conservatives are never happy with merely winning a fight, they need to grind their opponents into the dirt, laughing at their own barbarism.  Anything to feed their sense of superiority. 

North Carolina remembers that it's supposed to be bigoted
This is happening right now in North Carolina.  The opponents of freedom in the state's House and Senate have passed a bill that could amend the state's constitution to deny the right to marry to anyone who doesn't meet the state's stringent "moral standards."  This anti-rights amendment could be put on ballots as early as May of 2012, during the primary election.

Friends, there's something you need to understand.  North Carolina already has laws against the freedom of marriage.  Can two men get married in North Carolina?  Can two women?  No.  That's illegal, and has never been allowed.  So why an amendment to the state constitution? 

That's the stomping I mentioned earlier, the grinding into the dirt.  It's not enough that gay marriage is illegal, they want it to be unconstitutional, enshrined into the very basis of the law.

Regressives have been fighting to amend the state's constitution for years, but every time the legislation was put forward, the House and Senate stopped it.  That changed this year, as Republicans took control of both chambers for the first time in over one hundred years.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The pro-death Republican party

Don't let anyone ever tell you that the Republicans are "pro-life."  My friends, that is a bald-faced lie.  The GOP is many things -- pro-business, pro-intrusive government, anti-science, and anti-liberty -- but pro-life is not one of them. 

Republicans do tend to be pro-embryo.  I'll give them that.  They'd rather a woman die in child-birth than to have an abortion, and they'd execute a woman for having a miscarriage, if she can't prove her innocence.  But pro-life?  Not at all.  Republicans love death.

Republican Congressman Ron Paul
Did anyone catch the GOP debate last night?  At one point, Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul what should be done with a 30 year old without insurance, but who needed hospitalization to live.  Ron wouldn't come out and say it, but his answer did imply that he should be left to die.  But as horrible as that is, that's not what scares me the most. 

Blitzer followed up by asking point blank, ""Are you saying society should just let him die?" 

And the crowd cheered, "Yeah!"

These people don't care about life.  They don't care about people at all.  The candidates themselves might be too timid to come out and say it, but their supporters aren't.  They like death.  I won't claim to know why.  Maybe it makes them feel powerful, to know that others are dying while they continue to live.  Maybe they get a visceral thrill from imagining anyone they disagree with dying, unaided.

Republican Governor Rick Perry
After all, this is the same group of people who cheered at Rick Perry's record breaking 234 executions.  It was the biggest applause of the night, and for what?  For Rick Perry's callous disregard of human life.  For his driving desire to kill a man, even when the evidence shows that the prisoner is innocent.  When a government committee gathered evidence disputing the conviction, Perry fired them, rather than have the new evidence considered.

One Republican voter commented about the charge, "It takes balls to execute an innocent man."

You read that right.  The execution of an innocent man might have actually helped Rick Perry's campaign.

Friends, I'm not entirely against the death penalty.  The sad fact of the matter is that there are some people out there that just don't have any business being alive anymore.  If a person disrespects the lives of others to that degree, then maybe we don't need to respect his, either.  The problem is that there's no court in the country that's 100% perfect, all the time.  People make mistakes, even when they're judges, even when they're jurors.  And until someone's killed, there's always a possibility that person will turn out to actually be innocent.

Now look at how Rick Perry does things.  He suppressed evidence that could have freed an innocent man.  And why?  Because he'd rather kill that innocent man than let him go. There's no word for that other than bloodthirsty.  And it was that bloodthirstiness, that blatant disregard for an American citizen's life, that got Perry a cheering applause at that GOP debate.

So what have we got here?  We've got two viable Republican candidates: Rick Perry, whose supporters applaud the reckless execution of innocent citizens, and Ron Paul whose supporters call out for the lingering death of anyone without insurance.

Don't ever let the Republican party tell you they're pro-life.  They're nowhere close.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Poll Tax is Back

What do you think of when you think of America?  Do you think of pie?  Sports?  Or do you think of something more important, more visceral, more righteous?  Do you think of freedom?

I do.
The most important freedom of all.

One of the most important freedoms we have is the freedom to vote.  Unfettered access to the polls is one of the most vital freedoms that an American citizen can have.  Voting is the foundation of our liberty, for through voting, our government is made answerable to us.  If we cannot freely vote, then we cannot take part in the most fundamental activities that make our country "free."  Let me give a brief history lesson.

In the past, states have passed laws that required voters to pay for the privilege to vote.  These laws were largely considered "Jim Crow" laws,  enacted largely to keep the black population from having equal legal footing.  Through these poll taxes, states could say, "Everyone has the equal right to vote, it costs the same for everyone."  But while most whites could easily afford the tax, African Americans were significantly poorer, and had a much harder time doing so.  The poll taxes effectively barred a large population of blacks from being allowed to vote in their own governmental elections.

That's right.  States passed laws disallowing their own citizens from voting.  They took away the most basic freedom possible.  They were citizens, but without the ability to vote, how could they stand against their own government?  How could they make their voices heard? 

Fortunately, the Supreme Court disallowed this practice entirely in 1966.

And yet today, right now, as you are reading this, states like Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas, and more are enforcing laws nearly identical to those ruled unconstitutional nearly fifty years ago.  The Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has signed legislation requiring a citizen present a photo ID before they will be allowed to vote.

Republican Governor Scott Walker
"What's so wrong with that?" you might ask. Surely it's important to verify a voter's identity before letting them vote.  Indeed, that's the rationalization that the Republicans have given.  Time and time again, they have insisted that voter fraud is a huge problem, and must be dealt with!  They've been crying "voter fraud!" since 2008, when it became possible that Obama might actually win the presidency.  But there is no problem with individual voter fraud.  Indiana has not been able to cite a single instance of voter fraud in its entire history.  Kansas has had more UFO sitings than it has had allegations of voter fraud.  No, my friends.  These laws have nothing to do with stopping nonexistent fraud.   They have everything to do with keeping undesirables from having a say in the government.

And we have to remember, government IDs cost money.  Money that for many people may be inconsequential.  What's thirty dollars?  But not everyone has that money, and those most likely to not have an ID (the poor and the elderly) have had no reason to obtain one.  After all, if they didn't drive, they didn't need one.  Until now.

Now, these states do have to comply with the letter of the law.  They can't require money in exchange for the ability to vote.  If a citizen asks for a free voter ID, they have to be given one.

But a recently surfaced internal memo from the Republicans shows that DMV employees were specifically instructed to not tell citizens that voter IDs could be had for free.

So by law, they are required to let people vote without paying a tax.  But they've built a situation where people are told that they need to pay.  The only way to be able to vote without paying a government fee is to specifically ask if you can vote for free.

It's obvious that the poor are being targeted by these laws.  After all, the poor have the most to lose if these Republican regimes stay in power.  Governor Walker and his counterparts in other states are afraid of the poor vote, and so they're stomping down on it as hard as they can.

If we needed any more proof of this blatant discrimination, then pay attention to this: after passing the voter ID law, Governor Walker began shutting down DMV offices in primarily Democratic areas.  At the same time, he began expanding the hours of DMVs in Republican-heavy areas.  In many of the poorer areas of the state, DMVs are now open only one or two days a week, and only for a couple hours a day.

This isn't just Wisconsin, folks.  Similar laws have been passed in Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  All Republican controlled, all with reason to fear the disenfranchised.

Jim Crow laws are back, but this time they're targeting anyone that the Republicans think might stand against them.