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Mar. 25th, 2012

AMERICAblog has an article by well-known progressive blogger "Gaius Publius", including a segment from Rachel Maddow, about how ordinary citizens are using local courts to fight the criminal enterprise of the US banking industry.

It's good to see mainstream progressives finally acknowledging the things I've been saying as far back as 2001: the banks are not only engaged in massive fraud, but some of their business models are fundamentally criminal; Obama and Bush Jr. are equally complicit in their crimes, which is not to say that plenty of other President's haven't been; and that this is "the greatest challenge to our legal system in modern times."

In my view, it's even bigger than that: it's the most important issue facing our society, probably more important than all other issues combined. It's why Ron Paul's "crazy" plan to gut the banking industry makes him the leading progressive candidate.

HBO: Game Change



Has anyone watched HBO's Game Change, detailing the Sarah Palin vice presidential run? Since it first premiered on Saturday night: it's the highest rated HBO movie of all time. And Julianne Moore's performance is getting rave reviews. The movie is based on the book of the same title by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, which was based on interviews with participants in all the campaigns (the book deals with a lot more subject matter than just Sarah Palin's run). Watching the movie reminded me of all the hot screaming debates on Livejournal at the time and pretty much (surprise surprise) vindicates a lot of the concerns with Palin's just in way over her head, stubborn and vindictive, and functionally illiterate on policies and even basic high school knowledge (i.e. Palin thought the Queen of England was the head of state for Great Britain). The movie included new material that wasn't in the book, including the fact that Palin's senior advisor Nicole Wallace, ended up not voting in the election because she was so disturbed at Palin being so close to the Presidency. I'm curious if anyone else had some thoughts about the movie, or read the book the movie was based on? Behind the cut is a embedded copy of the post Katie Couric interview, where Palin confronts Ms. Wallace, blaming her. Video clip behind the cut of the Katie Couric meltdownCollapse )


On Friday Night's episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, he turned the tables a bit of his running gag of Republicans that live "inside the bubble" (i.e. completely oblivious to any facts that run contrary to their opinions about various subjects such as global warming/climate change 1, the auto bailout, etc) and suggested that Democrats and moderates who think it's inevitable Obama will be re-elected, giving in the process a short history lesson on the candidate who mis-spoke the most often, did in fact win. He calls the 2000 election as a race of "I.Q. [Gore] versus B.B.Q. [Bush]." Bill Maher doesn't mention this, but President Carter's re-election team thought that a race against Ronald Reagan would be much easier to win than against a moderate like Gerald Ford (had he chosen to run again). Some polls show Obama behind in some key swing states, so Maher's warning is a real one.

Video will not embed.

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1. Speaking of living inside the bubble and not allowing any facts in it, Neil deGrasse Tyson was on the panel and was debating with the conservative vice president of General Motors Bill Lutz, who stated global warming was a complete "crock of shit." video clip of that segment is viewable here.
For the first time in this election cycle, President Barack Obama inches ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the leading Republican candidate, 47 - 43 percent in Virginia, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.... In the Obama-Romney matchup, independent voters favor the president 45 - 41 percent, compared to a 41 - 41 percent tie in December. A gender gap is opening up as women shift to the president, backing him 52 - 40 percent, compared to a 43 - 45 percent split in December. Men back Romney 47 - 43 percent, compared to 43 - 42 percent in December.

Quinnipiac poll on Feb 8, BEFORE this recent invasive procedure was offered in a bill. Women and independent voters will be critical in states like Virginia.

Oh don't like that poll? How about a more recent one? Maybe like yesterday? Rasmussen Reports. Yes, what do they say?

Oh drats, Obama is ahead!

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Virginia Voters shows Obama drawing 49% support to Romney's 43%. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate in the race.


This post on AMERICAblog echoes something I've been saying since Obama's presidency opened my eyes to the unrelenting rightward march of the Democratic Party. I'm sick and tired of the "lesser evil" sliding further and further to the right, and I intend to punish the Dems for their censure of their own progressive caucus by not voting for them any more until they shape up. The analogy of a ratchet provides a new campaign slogan for the candidate who, quite ironically and perhaps even unintentionally, is currently the most progressive in the race: "Remove the pawl - vote for Paul!"

New York Times alert



Federal Appeals Court Rules California's Ban on Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional.



The court ruled Tuesday that a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violated the Constitution, all but ensuring the case will proceed to the United States Supreme Court. he three-judge panel issued its ruling Tuesday morning in San Francisco, upholding a decision by Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who had been the chief judge of the Federal District Court of the Northern District of California but has since retired. Like Judge Walker, the panel found that Proposition 8 – passed by California voters in November 2008 by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent -- violated the equal protection rights of two same-sex couples that brought he suit. The proposition placed a specific prohibition in the State Constitution against marriage between two people of the same sex. The court ruled that Proposition 8 violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution by discriminating against a group of people, gay men and lesbians. “Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different people differently,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the decision. “There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”

Source.

New York Times alert

New York Times Alert:


U.S. Economy Added 243,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment Dips to 8.3%



The United States economy gained momentum in January, adding 243,000 jobs, the second straight month of better-than-expected gains, the Labor Department reported on Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent. The promising jobs numbers came as various economic indicators have painted an ambivalent picture of the recovery’s strength.

Source.

Stock market has jumped over 100 points in the first hour of trading on this news. And the day is young.
Given a loophole in the law, Super Pacs were able to delay reporting their donors until after several important primaries (I talked about this in a previous post). So finally yesterday we found out who is donating to these organizations and it is deeply concerning. In my opinion the best way to judge the dangerousness of this new system is by whether the billionaires who are contributing have anything to gain personally from the election of their chosen candidate. The more they have to gain, the more room their is for later corruption in our system when it is payback time.

So, what do we see? When we look at the donors to the individual GOP candidate Super Pacs and the republican giant Crossroads we see donations from oil and gas executives, land developers, hedge fund execs, and chemical company execs. These individuals have a lot to gain by any loosening of environmental regulations, business regulation, and/or oversight. If their candidate is elected and the massive amount of money these groups raised helped, isn't it obvious that there will be pressure to pay back these groups with favorable legislation to ensure that the money will again be available for reelection?

Political Truth Serum: Finding the lies, omissions, and exaggerations in each political campaign

Foxes in the Henhouse: Political Leaders who have hidden loyalties and dual roles

SuperPACs - Looking for opinions

So I have to admit I do understand the decision, at least in part, that the Supreme Court made in "Citizen's United". If I'm wealthy, perhaps I should have the right to spend what I want to express my opnion in a country that guarantees free speech. Yes there is a compelling argument that in a democracy everyone should have an equal voice, but that is not the point of this particular post. But I have two questions about the ruling:

1. Corporations and unions - If people look at the history the idea that "they are people too" is actually not as grounded in the law as you'd think. This idea was actually a throw in by a court reporter who may have misconstrued what was being said in the court one day. So do we really believe that corporations and unions are individuals? Can ExxonMobil or Nike show up at the polls and cast a vote?

2. Okay, so let's assume we accept #1 and say that they are individuals. It still seems that if I am a union member of a corporate shareholder that the union or corporation should not be allowed "like an individual" to use my money to express it's free speech without my permission, no?

Unfortunately, since one side of the aisle is benefiting more from the ruling than the other (and this is not to begrudge the GOP - either side would likely resist change when they have an advantage), we are unlikely to see anything change unless citizens as a whole force the issue. Anyway, I'm curious about opinions...
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My blogs:

Uncovering what politicians won't talk about, or how they manipulate what they do say: Political Truth Serum

A site dedicated to promoting open and honest debate: A Collective Good

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