September 2011

Stand Against Land Grabs

When we remember how the land was stolen from native tribes in this country, it usually instills a sense of outrage in us—at least, in those of us with any sort of ethical compass in our hearts. We know what our ancestors did was wrong—particularly the lies the told and the massacres they led—and we would never want to perpetuate the same wrongdoings in our own times.

Mary Pat Christie & Talkatoo Cockatoo

Bird brained New Jersey First Lady is secretly colorful hippy.

If you are looking at this picture and thinking to yourself "what a striking resemblance", then you are not alone. In fact, I am personally pretty confident that bird brained First Lady of New Jersey, Mary Pat Christie and Zoobilee Zoo's Talkatoo Cockatoo are the same person. I just need to find proof. Unfortunately those wise guys who keep records of everything in New Jersey have lost all of the important documents that I need. Oh, you may think you won this time Mary Pat Christie... but it is I who will have the last laugh when your cover is blown!

Is Your Food Safe?

The state of food safety in the United States.

 

Cantaloupes are the new tasty fruit guilty of killing innocent fruit-lovers; thirteen people are dead as a result of a food-borne illness that happens more frequently in cantaloupes. Seventy-two people are sick because of cantaloupes which contain the Listeria outbreak, which originated from Colorado's Jensen Farms. 

Review of Obama's West Coast Tour

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign is in full swing. In an effort to raise funds and make his presence known to a region of the nation that, let's face it, pretty much acts like its own, independent country most of the time, Mr. Obama spent a few days touring the west coast. This is a review of his experiences in California, Washington and the non-coastal but still fairly wealthy state of Colorado.

Pressuring Obama To Refuse Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

President Obama has to sign a permit to allow Transcanada's pipeline to cross international borders. This is why he shouldn't.

A recent "open letter" by Jamie Henn to president Obama, published on The Huffington Post, is a seriously reply to one of President Obama's fundraising letters. The letter, responding to Campaign Manager for the Obama for America Campaign, Jim Messina, effectively refuses to donate a single dollar to President Obama's reelection campaign until he commits to stopping TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline. The 1,700 mile-long pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from the Canadian border to Texas oil refineries, is proposed to be built over precious Midland agricultural and nature preservations through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the rest of our the U.S. bread basket. Furthermore, the pipeline travels over hundreds of mile of the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest freshwater source for millions of Americans in the midwest. Were any portion of this pipeline to rupture, it could have catastrophic effects on natural wilderness, food production, and our water supply. Its easy to see why Henn, and hundreds of thousands of other Americans, feel so strongly about stopping this pipeline, and why they're willing to lean on President Obama, in an election year, to do it.

Tea Party Freshmen Fundraising On Capitol Hill

A battery of fundraisers by the transformative "outsider" candidates of 2010 show that reps can go establishment in no time.

It's an unfortunate truth in American politics that without dollars (big ones) you can't be competitive in campaigns, which creates an awkward situation for candidates that are elected as "outsiders", but are required to act like "insiders" in order to raise funds for subsequent elections. This is exactly the situation that many of the Tea Party elected House Republican freshmen are facing in the upcoming 2012 races. If they want to return as House sophomores, they're going to need to shake all the right hands, pat all the right backs, and maybe even start passing some special interest legislation. With the 2012 Republican Primary campaign season officially underway, POLITICO reports that House freshmen are gearing up for the race by scheduling at least 100 fundraisers around Capitol Hill.

Political Muckraking in the Workplace

How I learned to stop fearing politics in the workplace and own my liberal soapbox.

Being the smurf in the red state, it's inevitable that my political views would come up at work. Conservatism is such a foregone conclusion here that my boss casually makes remarks in meetings and cracks conservative jokes, which usually sound like Hannity sound bites. Often when politics does come up, I would hear grumbling about "Obamacare", or this "damn administration", or some factually-challenged comment about socialism; and these comments would cause me to clam up, bite my tongue in two, and rant about it to my weary wife later (she gets a lot of ranting). Then I found a far better tactic that allows me, for the most part, to just go ahead and join the conversation from my own left-wing soapbox.

School Voucher Debate Rages On

Debate will impact upcoming 2012 elections

At the end of 2010 there were more than 5400 charters schools in America servicing more than 1.7 million students and the number of charter schools continues to grow. 465 new schools have opened in 40 states and the District of Columbia for the 2011 school year. Not only are new charter schools increasing but existing schools are seeing increased demand by parents with 65% having growing waiting lists.

    The school voucher issue continues to be a topic of much debate in state capitols and local municipalities. The Pennsylvania Senate recently passed a bill designed to subsidize private school tuition for lower income families. A bill to provide school vouchers that included provisions for increasing the number of charter schools was recently signed by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. The school voucher issue is also a hot topic in the Lakewood, Colorado elections scheduled for November, in spite of the fact, that Colorado’s school voucher bill, passed by the legislature, is now on hold pending a court appeal.

    One of the primary reasons for the increased attention to the school vouchers issue in the upcoming election is a result of the last election. Republicans made strong gains in Governor seats with the Republicans holding 29 states and Democrats 20 with 1 independent. State legislatures also moved to the right with 14 chambers changing to Republican control bringing the total to 25. Republicans picked up over 500 state legislative seats with more than 100 in New Hampshire alone.

    Conservatives typically support more choice in schools while education unions, a democratic constituency, typically oppose charter schools decrying the reduced funding to public schools. Politics as the old saying goes “make strange bedfellows“. Much of the increased demand for school voucher programs has been driven by members of the black community with children in poor performing schools.

Many communities have seen property tax payments ( the primary source of local public school funding )  fall due to the recession putting increased pressure on politicians and school boards to retain funding levels. As the 2012 election season gets underway issues related to Education will remain a high priority issue for many Americans and voters, elected officials, and candidates will have to face thorny questions about school funding and school voucher issues.

Increase Union Membership for Healthy Middle Class

A recent study by Center for American Progress shows increase in union membership translates to decrease in income disparity.

Labor unions have been a vital part of the American middle class for almost 100 years, safeguarding workers and their workplace environments, negotiating for livable, fair wages, and standing in the way of unjust or unfair policies and practices. That said, national opinion and active support (including membership) of unions is at an all-time low. This is, in large part, because stagnant growth and high unemployment are stretching municipal and state budgets thin, and many point to labor unions as a convenient scapegoat for cutting costs. The truth is the weakening unions may create more budget room int he short-term, but long term it will lead to lower wages and high unemployment. Attacking labor unions to spur economic growth is counterproductive and short-sighted.

Rick Perry: Not So Cute

Sorry, I don't think Rick Perry is all that cute.

 

The Washington Post loves Rick Perry. Oh, don’t worry too much. The Washington Post loves Rick Perry the same way that they would love “a big ape.” 

Great. Just what we need. Another lovable idiot running for president. 

 

I’m sorry, but it’s really not all that charming in my eyes that Rick Perry brags about the number of executions while under his watch. Death by execution is never all that cute. Sorry. 

 

And, while it’s kind of charming that Rick Perry actually stood up for the children of illegal immigrants in Texas, it doesn’t necessarily make Rick Perry all that lovable. 

Dark Money and Super-PACs: Campaign Finance in 2012

Citizens United decision clear-cuts campaign finance regulations and public disclosures, which means big bucks for 2012.

The Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Committee (FEC) decision by the Supreme Court in 2010 has lead to a litigious slash and burn of campaign finance regulations and disclosure policies from the past twenty years. Citizens United, as it is commonly referred to, stated that, "Independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption," in a court summary by Justice Anthony Kennedy. In lower courts, that immediately opened the way for rulings allowing non-profits, corporations, and individuals do donate unrestricted, and in many cases un disclosed, amounts of money to organizations whose sole purpose was to fund candidates and campaigns. The result has been the creation of so-called Super PACs, and an astounding increase in the amounts of money generated during political campaigns.

Remnants of Iraq Invasion A Potent Reminder of Bush Administrations Excesses

The U.S. is to hand over billions in equipment and infrastructure with troop withrawal.

The Iraq War is turning into one of the costliest and most over-wrought military endeavors in recent American history, and a referendum on the excess and ego of the Bush administration. Now, in the second year of the Iraq pull-out, roughly $2.4 billion in equipment and infrastructure, including famously outsized military bases, will prove too costly to ship back to the U.S. Instead, the Pentagon has decided to hand over these assets to the Iraqi government and avoid the cost of transport. . To date, there has already been equipment handed over to Iraq worth almost $250 million by "fair market value", which means in reality it may have cost taxpayers much more. However, with the largest military bases still active, and much of the equipment warehoused in those bases, the greatest portion of the hand-over has yet to take place. The sheer amount of waste, all purchase with borrowed money (of which has added over a trillion to the deficit in interest alone), shows an incredible lack of responsibility in the administration of the war, starting at the top.

No Nukes? Tell the White House to Stop Nuke Subsidies!

Anti-nuke voters, are you ready to stop funding nuclear materials? Are you ready to put your money with your no-nuke letters and signs and t-shirts are? If so, please consider signing this new petition from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

The petition calls for President Obama to stop asking for nuclear reactor funding from taxpayers, as well as research funding. It also makes the important point that no nukes are safe nukes—that the Fukushima nuclear disaster has proven that there’s no such thing as green nuclear technology, and that our own technology was used in that horrible event. We don’t need to develop even more toxins and poison to kill people over the world—whether at home or abroad.

UK Bans Farm Ad for Misleading Content

A few happy pieces of animal rights news have me feeling hopeful tonight. A fur ban has been implemented in West Hollywood, and now I’ve read that the UK recently banned a pork ad for not being honest with consumers. The sausage ad apparently depicted the pigs used for the meat as happy little animals who had plenty of room to run around, with unrestricted outdoor access and an open, homey barn—which the Advertising Standards Authority found to be false and deceptive. So they pulled the ad.

Want to Ward Off Sickness? Tell Big Farm to Stop Using Antibiotics

My parents just shake their heads when my daughter and I sing “Ranger Ricky had a Park,” my alternative version to Old McDonald. I tell them that I don’t need her to develop an image of farms being happy places where animals smile and sing when so much of the meat in our country comes from big factory farms where they are sad, tortured creatures who die. It’s not like I’ve shown her images; I just don’t want to promote that illusion so many kids live with.

Birth Control Recall

Attention women who use birth control: there has been a recent birth control recall from the company Qualitest. If you use the brands Cyclafem, Emoquette, Gildess, Orsythia, Previfem, Tri-Previfem, your birth control may be affected. To find out if you’re affected, to report problems, or to return your prescription, you can call 1-877-300-6153.

It’s a voluntary recall due to the packaging, so your health shouldn’t be in danger; still, if you have questions or you’re worried, go ahead and give them a call to make sure you can use your meds. There are some concerns about the placebo pill week being inserted where active pills should have been, so you might want to back up your birth control with another contraceptive, such as a condom, for a little while.

Don’t Want to Do the Time? Go to Church Instead

In an absolutely outrageous but apparently legal piece of judicial news, a judge in Alabama is giving people convicted of misdemeanors a choice: they can either do the time and pay their fine, or go to church every Sunday for a full year.

According to the judge, you can go to whatever denomination of church you want—as long as it’s every Sunday and you report to a “pastor,” two words that indicate the church has to be of a certain faith, if you know what I mean. What if you head over to the Universalist Unitarian place and report to a priestess on Saturdays, after all?

Pulling Over Pretty Girls

Women voters need to demand more from our law enforcement.

Sometimes all I can say is, “Really?”

What am I supposed to tell my child when she asks if she can trust a cop, when everywhere I look there are cops who target people—especially girls—to use for their own kicks? There are often local cops in the paper being charged with sexual assault—I’ve seen several with teen girls listed as the victims—and right now, there is a whole precinct nearby being charged with all kinds of things, from stealing to rape.

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