Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Supreme Voter Suppression

The Supreme Court handed Johnny Mac a major victory today by upholding the voter suppression laws in Indiana (excuse me, voter ID laws):
    WASHINGTON — By a 6-3 vote in a closely watched election-year case, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld Indiana's strict voter-identification law, rejecting the claims of Democratic and civil-rights challengers that the law infringes on the right to vote.
    The decision by Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the most liberal members of the court, emphasized that the challengers had not presented sufficient evidence that voters were kept from the polls or otherwise hurt by the law Indiana says prevents fraud.
As noted by the blogger dday:
    This is, as we know, a solution in search of a problem. Voter fraud is a made-up conservative issue, backed by no evidence. While Stevens suggested that there are no "excessively burdensome requirements" imposed on voters who must show ID at the polls, he's answering an unknowable question. We simply have no idea how photo ID centers (if there will be any outside the DMV) in Indiana or anywhere else would be managed, whether the same groups that truck elderly and poor voters to the polls on Election Day will be able to do the same to get people their IDs, and so on. If they require the same documentation that the DMV does, many poor and elderly people simply don't have them. If it requires an application fee, how is that not a poll tax?
The Republican sheet heads who passed this modern version of Jim Crow had to add a provision that IDs would be issued free of charge to people without driver's licenses (can't have any appearance of a poll tax because of that pesky 24th Amendment). However, these are the combination primary and secondary documents needed for a "free ID":

This list the definition of what is an acceptable primary document:

I won't even bother listing the acceptable secondary documents. Bottom line is you need a birth certificate unless your military. Is a birth certificate free and easy to obtain in Indiana? You have got to be kidding:

    Birth records in the ISDH Vital Records office begin with October 1907. Prior to October 1907, records of birth are filed only with the local health department in the county where the birth actually occurred. Fees are established by law (IC 16-37-1-11 and IC 16-37-1-11.5 ). Each search for a record costs $10.00. The fee is non-refundable. Included in one search is a five-year period; the reported year of birth and, if the record is not found in that year, the two years before and after. One certified copy of the record, if found, is included in the search fee. Additional copies of the same record purchased at the same time are $4.00 each. Amendments made to the record are an additional $8.00.
Oh yeah, did I mention that you will need to show some ID to purchase a birth certificate:

But what the heck, it is not like any of this is a real burden to those that wish to vote. And if you believe that, I got a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you.

The Master blogger Digby sums it up:

    First of all, let's not forget that this may be the biggest political land mine the Bush administration has set for Democrats. "Voter fraud" was, you'll remember, at the bottom of the US Attorney scandals and one of their main tools for suppressing the Democratic vote. This is the realization of a very long term plan to chip away at the Voting Rights Act. Republicans, like all aristocrats, know that if enough average people vote, they will lose. Period.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Patraeus Testimony: A Snapshot of Bush World

When the spoiled brat from Texas was elected appointed 7 years ago, anybody with half a brain who followed Politics as a hobby knew what was going to happen by the time his term ended in 2008. The United States would be transformed into the Military Industrial Complex, a 2nd Gilded age.

Corporations would be free to bribe their way to success, and if caught a newly transformed Department of Justice would happily accept a bribe themselves so the Plutocrats could avoid prison:
    In Justice Shift, Corporate Deals Replace Trials
    Published: April 9, 2008

    In a major shift of policy, the Justice Department, once known for taking down giant corporations...put off prosecuting more than 50 companies suspected of wrongdoing over the last three years.

    Instead, many companies...have avoided...criminal charges with a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, which allows the government to collect fines and appoint an outside monitor to impose internal reforms without going through a trial. In many cases, the name of the monitor and the details of the agreement are kept secret.
While independent reporting and gonzo documentary films still exist, the average citizen who relies on Major Media (print and electronic) for information would find his knowledge carefully filtered. The so called 4th Estate would function as a house organ for the Government, ensuring that mindless drivel (h/t Glen. You and Digby are the best) would replace any serious examination of Government Policy:
    The U.S. establishment media in a nutshell
    Glen Greenwald
    Saturday April 5, 2008 08:11 EDT
    Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

    "Yoo and torture" - 102

    "Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73

    "Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16

    "Obama and bowling" -- 1,043

    "Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

    "Obama and patriotism" - 1,607

    "Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079

    And as Eric Boehlert documents, even Iraq...has been virtually written out of the media narrative in favor of mindless, stupid, vapid chatter..."The Clintons are Rich!!!!" will undoubtedly soon be at the top of this heap within a matter of a day or two.
And as for President Washington's pleading against "the mischiefs of foreign intrigue...the impostures of pretended patriotism", forget it. War would be a source of profit disguised under the false flag of protecting America from "The Enemy".

But for all of this I was naive enough to believe that no Professional Soldier would ever allow himself to be used as a political tool. With the promotion of David Patraeus as Commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, I was an idiot:
    Petraeus' Testimony: Everything His President Wants to Hear

    By undercutting the widespread support for getting out of Iraq, Petraeus did indeed betray the American public, siding with an enormously unpopular president who wants to stay the course in Iraq for personal and political reasons that run contrary to genuine national security interests...

    It is an abdication of civilian control of the military...to assign a central role to an active duty general to make the decision to end the war. It betrays the legacy warnings of our two most famous wartime generals, George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
I retired from the Army 5 years ago shortly after the start of the Iraq quagmire. In June of 2003 I was Channel surfing when I came across a Military Retirement Ceremony broadcast on CSPAN. The retiree was Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki; which blew me away because NOTHING had come down the chain of command about the date and time of this event. I soon found out why:
    Soldiering On
    By: Jennifer Reingold

    There were a few empty chairs at General Eric Shinseki's June 2003 retirement ceremony. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld didn't make it to the event...Neither did Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz...For a four-star general concluding a brilliant career, it was a major breach of protocol....

    ...as the general testified before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the looming war in Iraq, Senator Carl Levin asked him what kind of manpower he believed it would take to keep the peace in postwar Iraq. "Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required," he said.

    But it was not the answer [Rumsfeld] was looking for.... Shinseki could have parroted the party line, or hedged his answer to appear more neutral, but he didn't.
As the title of this post says, a snapshot of Bush World.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Johnny Mac, Johnny's Mouthpiece, and Market Madness

While browsing James Wolcott's Blog, I came across the following dust up that started when Elizabeth Edwards commented on Johnny Macs Health Care Program (he does not have one).

Once again attempting to fool the rubes, Johnny Macs Mouthpiece was quoted as saying:

    Edwards’ comments were disappointing and that they revealed she did not understand the comprehensive nature of the senator’s proposal.
Big mistake (h/t to The Field). Health Care is one subject Ms. Edwards knows too well (she has terminal cancer). In a blog post at Think Progress, she proceeds to educate McCain Spokesmen Douglas Holtz-Eakin (Mouthpiece) on what happens to stupid people who confuse politics with policy (to quote Mr. Wolcott, they get a return volley upside the head).
  1. Under your plan, Senator McCain, would any health insurer be required to sell you or me (or those like us with pre-existing conditions) a health insurance policy?
  2. You say your plan is going to increase competition to the point that it actually lowers costs. Isn’t there competition today among insurance companies? Haven’t costs continued to go up despite that competition?
Unfortunately these questions were answered 35 years ago in a book by David Hapgood called The Screwing of the Average Man (No. Yes. Yes. Hell Yes). People get sick, and they die.

If you have seen Mike Moore's excellent documentary Sicko, you're already aware that Insurance Company's maximize payment by denying customers treatment with a variety of scams (yes they are scams). The high cost of health care reflects the administrative overhead of denying legitimate claims.

One more reason, if you need any, to make sure Johnny does not get appointed President. And while health care does not affect me (I'm Retired Military), a hell of a lot of people will get sick and die if his Market Madness becomes law.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Press, The Hand Grenade, and Murphys law of Combat

I read two recent post by the Master Blogger Digby about the Kewl Kidz (thank you Ornicus) openly displaying contempt for the Democratic Nominee. She states in absolute terms the liberal/progressive movement's relationship with the Press:
    ...liberal bloggers declared war on the press many years ago. I'm not sure that this is even controversial. Pushing back on biased, anti-Democrat and pro-Republican lies and editorial judgment is supposed to be one of our primary raison d'etres.
The press is a hand grenade with the pin pulled. To quote from Murphy's law of Combat: "When the pin is pulled, Mr. Hand Grenade IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!