Monday Reads: GOTV (GET OUT THERE AND VOTE)

Good Morning!

It’s still hard for me to believe that adult women in the US could not vote less than 100 years ago.  This is something to think about as we approach election day tomorrow.  I can’t remember when an election was this important for women.  There are many women running for office while women’s rights have been under continual assault for two years now.  This is the first time in years–make that decades–that we’ve had one presidential candidate that refuses to go on record about equal pay for equal work and the Lily Ledbetter Act.  The choices couldn’t be clearer.

This issue is over 100 years old. Belva Ann Lockwood ran for president in 1884 and 1889 as the candidate of the National Equal Rights Party.  She had to petition to become the first woman to appear before the Supreme court in 1879. All of this was decades before women could even vote.  She was also a victim of systemic voter fraud.

It’s seems hard to believe that after so many years of fighting to get this far we have to fight candidate-after-candidate running for the Republican Party to stop the assault on the rights of women and the rights of minorities in this country.  This is what you get when religious fundamentalists are allowed to ramrod their beliefs in to law.  Religious fundamentalism is a threat to democracy all over the world.  The only way to secure the blessings of liberty for all of us is to vote them out and keep them out.  Theocracy Watch has an excellent history of how the Religious Right took over the Republican Party.  There are a lot of good reads there if you’d like to see exactly how it happened.

Here’s one dangerous state amendment in Florida which is billed as a “religious” freedom mandate but is really a way for churches to get their hands on state money and to project their values on every level of government. Florida’s Amendment 8 will likely show up in a state near year if it hasn’t already.  It mandates taxpayer support of religious institutions.

“Under Amendment 8,” observed Sha­piro, “religious groups would have not only the right to seek taxpayer funding but the power to demand it in certain cases. Religious schools and other ministries of any and all religions could tap the public purse – my tax dollars and yours – and use those funds to promote their faith.”

He added, “Don’t buy the line that Amendment 8 is about protecting ‘faith-based’ social services. Those programs are in no danger. Religious groups in Florida can get tax funds to provide services to those in need – so long as they don’t use public funds to preach or proselytize.”

Shapiro opined that Amendment 8’s supporters also want to gain a foothold for school vouchers in the state. Currently, two provisions of the Florida Constitution have been interpreted to ban voucher subsidies for religious schools. If Amendment 8 passes, one of them will be removed.

Said Shapiro, “Some politicians are trying to use ‘religious freedom,’ which most Floridians fully support, as a cover for their agenda. They’d like to force all of us to subsidize various religions, whether we believe in those faiths or not. They want to give religious institutions special privileges.”

Minnesota is voting on Same-Sex Marriage on Tuesday.   An amendment to the state’s constitution will ban same sex marriage in that state if passed.

For most gay Minnesotans, particularly those who would like to marry longtime partners, passage of the constitutional amendment would put that dream further out of reach. Defeat of the measure would by a welcome but largely symbolic victory for gay couples because the state’s current gay marriage ban would still be in effect, denying same-sex couples who consider themselves married in all but name the same protections and privileges as legally married couples.

That means worrying about things like being denied hospital visits to an ailing partner; being unable to honor a loved one’s wishes after death; or being excluded from parenting rights in cases where an unmarried person adopts the child of a partner. Gay rights supporters say those are just a few of the legal privileges they are denied or may have to fight to assert because of their inability to marry.

During the long campaign over the constitutional amendment, the group working to pass it has stressed that it’s not trying to hurt gay couples. “Everybody has a right to love who they choose,” says the narrator in a commercial from Minnesota for Marriage, a coalition of religious and socially conservative organizations.

The group contends that male-female marriage is a centuries-old societal building block that benefits children, and that redefining it in law could lead to intrusions on religious liberty and the right of parents to control influences on their children.

Further information on other state ballot initiatives can be found at this link.  California is voting on labeling of Genetically modified food.  Arizona has an initiative that tries to block federal access to state natural resources.   It’s important to read up on what might show up on your ballot given ALEC and the republican party’s need to decimate local governments, economies, and lives. Oregon and several states have marijuana initiatives.  Most states have ballot initiatives that impact natural resources and wildlife.

For many folks, the issue is going to be access to their right to vote.  Just think, Constitutional Amendments and the Voting Rights Act have secured our right to vote.  Many states are trying to suppress the popular vote among the elderly, women, and minorities.  Stories of rampant voter suppression are coming from all over the country.  The one thing I always bring to the polls with me is banned now in New Mexico.

From New Mexico, Community Journalist George Lujan writes in that the Secretary of State has banned the League of Women Voters’ voting guide at early voting locations. The League’s guide is nonpartisan, and has been used to educate voters for years. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the guide, on the pretext that it amounts to electioneering, is now banned.

George also writes in that voters received deceptive phone calls informing them that early voting had ended in Doña Ana County, despite the fact that early voting continues.

Follow that link above to the Nation to get a state by state account of state-level incidents that are either supported by Republican groups or Republican elected officials.  Here’s the latest offense.  Many polls in Florida have been closed early or shut down due to bomb threats.  It seems ONE southern Florida County will have its election times extended  and it’s a GOP stronghold.

Last night, voters in Miami-Dade County were forced to wait in line up to six hours to vote. In some precincts voters who arrived at 7PM were not able to cast their ballots until 1AM.

In response, Republican-affiliated election officials in Miami-Dade have effectively extended early voting from 1PM to 5PM today by allowing “in-person” absentee voting. But this accommodation will only be available in a single location in the most Republican area of the county.

Nearly every city within 5 to 10 miles of this location — including Hialeah, Miami Springs, Sweetwater and Miami Lakes — has a substantial Republican voter registration advantage.

The most populous city among those is Hialeah where Republicans, powered by a large Cuban community, have an overwhelming registration advantage of nearly 20,000 voters. There will not be an opportunity for in-person absentee voting in downtown Miami or South Dade, where there are heavy concentrations of Democratic voters.

The decision to make the accommodation available was presumably made by Miami-Dade Election Supervisor Penelope Townsley. She is registered with no party affiliation but was appointed to her position by Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Mayor Gimenez did not request Gov. Rick Scott extend early voting throughout Miami-Dade county. Further, according to Jim DeFede, an investigative reporter for CBS News in Miami, the decision to have in-person absentee balloting was made last night but not announced publicly until 9:30AM this morning.

As the election season draws to a close, we’re beginning to see desperate campaigns do desperate things. Romney continues to harp on the President as an angry black man seeking revenge.  Romney has the misguided notion that he some how is entitle to do and say what ever he wants to on the way to his anointment.  That Romney sense of entitlement has never ceased to shock me.  Romney twists other’ people’s words worse than his own.

In the final stretch of the campaign, suddenly there is a new storyline, with Mitt Romney harshly criticizing President Obama for telling a crowd of supporters that voting would be their “best revenge.” It all began when a crowd in Springfield, Ohio responded to Obama’s mention of Romney and Republicans by booing. The president tried to quieten them down, essentially saying their jeers were pointless. “No, no, no—don’t boo, vote! Vote! Voting is the best revenge.” (Video after the jump.) Romney seized on the remark: “Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you: Vote for love of country,” he told a crowd of supporters. He also released an ad about the remarks (watch after the jump). The message? As the conservative site Daily Caller succinctly puts it: “Romney is finishing his 2012 race by calling for love, change and hope, while President Barack Obama’s deputies are struggling to explain his call for ‘revenge.’”

It was an adlibbed line that for conservatives insist highlighted the worst of the president. “He really does think that opposing him is somehow dirty pool, and that ‘revenge’ is the appropriate treatment for those who fail to bow to the mighty Barack,” writes John Hinderaker in Power Line. Yet for others, the way in which the Romney camp rushed to seize on what was obviously a play on the familiar saying “living well is the best revenge” is “one last sustained expression of that contempt for the electorate” Romney has displayed in the past, writes the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. In the Atlantic, James Fallows wonders whether it’s even “conceivable that [Romney] actually believes Obama was talking about revenge-voting as if it were basically like ‘revenge sex?’”

Obama was merely encouraging people to go to the polls, yet Romney somehow twisted the words, even if he left a basic question unanswered: Revenge for what? “Suddenly, we are in the rhetorical space of class warfare,” points out The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson. Although talking of revenge may be a new twist, it’s merely another way in which Romney has accused those who oppose him of resenting his success.

Meanwhile, poll-after-poll shows a gender gap, a Hispanic Gap, a black gap, and an age gap in voting patterns.  It’s hard not to notice that every one recognizes what’s at stake.  The Romney way-back machine takes most of us back to places that most of us fought to get out of.  Be sure to hang on as we live blog the returns tomorrow and the latest in voter suppression efforts today.  This pretty well sums up the Romney future for all of us:  Romney staff refusing to let frostbitten children leave PA rally.

This is happening right now at Mitt Romney’s rally in Pennsylvania.  Apparently it’s freezing, and Romney’s staff is refusing to let rally-goers leave. People are begging reporters for help.

Absolutely incredible.

No, it’s quite credible.  This is a group of people that wants complete control of what goes on in every American Woman’s Uterus.  This is a group that will say anything–including scaring workers about their jobs–to score political points.  This is a group that sends its VP candidate to re-rinse clean pots over the protests of charity owners and pays for a few boxes of canned goods over the requests of the Red Cross just to provide photo ops.  This one man’s sense of entitlement and republican ideology will always leave all of us frostbitten in the cold.  Just VOTE for any one but a Republican this election.  It is important. I don’t want to see us all out there on the melting ice floes with endangered polar bears.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Mitt Romney: Women Should Vote for Me Because of MA Health Care Law

WTF?! Today on Fox News Sunday, Mitt Romney told Chris Wallace that women should support him because of Romneycare. Raw Story:

During an interview that aired on Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Romney why women should vote for him after a fellow Republican, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), suggested that women could not get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

“Look, I am the guy that was able to get health care for all of the women — and men — in my state,” the former Massachusetts governor explained. “There was talking about it at the federal level. We did something”….“I’m very proud of what we did, and the fact that we helped women and men and children in my state.”

Then why does he want to repeal Obamacare? My head is spinning. Does Romney actually expect people to fall for this garbage? Does he understand that if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed, Massachusetts will lose millions in federal funds that help pay for “Romneycare?”

I guess we should take from this that Romney has no intention of repealing the ACA and just accept that he has been lying his ass off through the entire campaign. How will the Tea Partiers respond to this at the upcoming convention? He got “shredded” a couple of weeks ago when he brought up Romneycare.

What will he do in the debates? He is on record (and on tape and video) promising to repeal “Obamacare” in hundreds of campaign appearances. Is he going to get up there and talk out of both sides of his mouth with Obama standing next to him? I admit, I’m completely stumped.

Back to Raw Story:

“And then with regards to contraceptives, of course Republicans and myself in particular recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives. There is absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort and try and bring that up. And with regards to the issue of abortion, that is something where men and women have alternative views on that or different views.”

Really? Romney has stated that life begins at conception and has pledged to support a human life amendment that would criminalize abortion in every case along with in vitro fertilization, many kinds of birth control, and very likely miscarriages. Is he stupid or just crazy? Excuse me, I think I’ve got whiplash!

As JJ would say, this is a motherf##king open thread!


Friday Evening News Reads: Murphy NC Tornado Damage, Pink Slime, Spiders and Snakes

Good Evening…

Tonight, for your viewing pleasure, I have videos and images full of destruction…disgust…terror…dated perceptions and bad romance.  Those being a collection of tornado damage, pink slime, wolf spiders, early 70’s Dolly Parton and a song about Women’s Suffrage.

First, we have the debris and destruction part of this evening’s post. I went to Murphy, North Carolina today and shot some video of the damage the town received after being hit by a F2 tornado on March 3, 2012. This town is just a spit from my old house near the border of Georgia and North Carolina. The town may sound familiar to you because it was made famous by Olympic Park and abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolf...who hid out in the mountains around the town for six years, before being discovered rummaging through a trash dumpster.

My video is short so take a look:

Earlier today, a local Atlanta station had a crew shoot a story about the tornado that hit last week,  a lot of the same things I video taped are in their report…which does explain what you are looking at and interviews some residents and owners of the damaged buildings.

Transcript of the news video here:

- Residents in Murphy, N.C. are still picking up the pieces after a tornado touched down last Friday.

The twister destroyed homes and businesses throughout the town.

Wayne’s Feed Store, a somewhat local institution in the mountain town since 1951, was blown away.

Reggie Cox lost his house, but said he was grateful that his family — including his three children– are safe.

“It was scary, you know winds, debris,” said Cox.

The EF-2 tornado tore through town with winds of up to 125 miles an hour — fast enough to drive a four by four post through the side of a station wagon.

“We had over 100 homes that suffered some type of damage. We had eight that were destroyed,’ said Cherokee County, N.C. spokesman Doug Clement.

Cox’s uncle’s house was one of the those totaled, where a week later a smoke detector was still sounding the alarm.

“They just left about five to seven minutes before it hit,” said Cox. “I don’t think anybody could have survived it.”

Rebuilding has begun, bringing with it a sense of recovery.

“We feel like we are on the road to recovery. Mountain people are survivors. Well indeed make it, I indeed assure you of that,” said Mayor Bill Hughes.

While the storm caused millions of dollars in damage, there were no reports of injuries.

The same storm system did damage in Haralson and Paulding Counties

Now… I bring you the disgusting portion of the evening. I have another video for you to watch, it is from a segment of ABC News last night, and it is revolting!

Is Pink Slime in the Beef at Your Grocery Store? – ABC News

As seen in the movie Food Inc., the low-grade trimmings come from the most contaminated parts of the cow and were once only used in dog food and cooking oil. But because of BPI’s treatment of the trimmings — simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs — the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.

The company calls the final product “Finely Textured Lean Beef.” It is flash frozen and boxed. Foshee says it is more like gelatin and not nutritious as ground beef because the protein comes mostly from connective tissue, not muscle meat.

“[It will] fill you up, but won’t do any good,” Foshee said.

ABC News was flooded with questions from concerned viewers following last night’s report on pink slime.

Many, like Dale Rittenhouse, wanted to know where beef with pink slime was sold.

“What stores use pink slime?” Rittenhouse wrote.

So ABC News producers traveled across the country to the meat section to see if its in the ground beef they sell. Most couldn’t tell us for sure.

“There is no way to even know from labels or even from the butchers here whether it contains pink slime,” said ABC News producer Candace Smith in New York.

“The guy at the meat counter said that he had been getting the same question all day,” said Janice McDonald in Atlanta.

ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America. Only Publix, Costco, HEB and Whole Foods responded, saying they don’t use pink slime. No word yet from the rest.

Geez, we don’t have any of those pink slime free grocery stores in Banjoville…ABC has an update on Where You Can Get ‘Pink-Slime’-Free Beef

At most stores it was impossible to tell for sure whether the beef contained pink slime. At one store there was no way to know from the labels and the butchers did not know the answer.

ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America and seven responded:

1. Safeway
“We rely on the federal government to help guide us on food safety issues. USDA has been clear in its judgment that Lean Finely Textured Ground Beef is a safe source of nutrition. However, we are reviewing the matter at this time.”

2. Ahold (Stop & Shop/Giant)
“Stores operated by the divisions of Ahold USA do carry ground beef made with Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT), also called Finely Textured Beef (FTB). Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) is beef and is absolutely safe for consumption. To make the product, beef companies use beef trimmings, which are the small cuts of beef that remain when larger cuts are trimmed down. These trimmings are USDA-inspected, wholesome cuts of beef. This process has been an industry standard for almost 20 years. Alternatives to the conventional ground beef supply, in the form of Certified Angus Beef and Nature’s Promise ground beef products, are available to customers in stores across all of the divisions of Ahold USA. These products do not include the use of BLBT. Customers are being encouraged to ask any meat associate should they have any questions or would like to be directed to meat that does not include Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. Our labeling is in compliance with USDA regulations. BLBT is USDA tested and approved ground beef and therefore does not require labeling.”

3. Costco
Does not use pink slime.
“Anything that we sell at Costco we want to explain it’s origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef,” Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance for Costco, told ABC News. “I just don’t know how to explain that. I’m not that smart.”

4. Publix
“We have never allowed the use of LFTB (pink slime) in our meat. It’s 100 percent ground beef with no LFTB.”

5. H-E-B
“All our ground beef sold at H-E-B is 100% pure with no additives.”

6. Whole Foods
Does not use pink slime.

7. Kroger
“We do not use finely textured beef in our fresh ground beef. … We are routinely presented the finely textured beef as an option, but have always refused.”

A viewer, Miles Herbert, wanted to know, “Is there any evidence that organic meat contains this pink slim?”

It turns out there isn’t. If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.

There is a petition at Change.org  Health Petition: Tell USDA to STOP Using Pink Slime in School Food! …according to an article in the LA Times, Pink slime: In the supermarket and school lunches

Texas mom Bettina Siegel has a petition going at Change.org to get the additive out of school lunches.

[…]

Meanwhile, over at the Cattle Network, American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle  defended the process as well as the product in an article Thursday, saying the “lean beef trimmings” were “absolutely edible” and that using them ensured that “lean, nutritious, safe beef” did not go to waste.

Boyle goes on to say that media reports create an inaccurate picture.  An opinion piece on the site refers to “pink slime” as a “headline writer’s dream.”

It would indeed seem great fodder for a snarky British tabloid headline, considering that in the United Kingdom lean beef trimmings are banned for human consumption.

Damn, so the UK has banned this “stuff” for human consumption…funny, they banned the TSA’s nude screening cancer x-rays as well…I guess their government officials do not have “connections” to lobbyist that promote the TSA scanners, or get paid over a million dollars by the company that makes that pink slime, like  the under-secretary who approved of this ghastly crap. Yeah, check out what she actually said in regards to what makes this “filler” meat:

“The under secretary said, ‘it’s pink, therefore it’s meat,’” Custer told ABC News.

ABC News has learned the woman who made the decision to OK the mix is a former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. It was a call that led to hundred of millions of dollars for Beef Products Inc., the makers of pink slime.

When Smith stepped down from the USDA in 1993, BPI’s principal major supplier appointed her to its board of directors, where she made at least $1.2 million over 17 years.

Smith did not return ABC News’ calls for comment and BPI said it had nothing to do with her appointment. The USDA said while her appointment was legal at the time, under current ethics rules Smith could not have immediately joined the board.

Alrighty then, I got some terror for you this evening as well. Do you all remember those floods in Australia last year? Thousands of spiders blanket Australian farm after escaping flood Take a look at some creepy photographs of the wolf spider.

What appears to be snow is actually spider webs blanketing an Australian farm. (Daniel Munoz/Reuters)

Thousands of normally solitary wolf spiders have blanketed an Australian farm after fleeing a rising flood.

Reuters reports that the flooding has forced more than 8,000 Australian (human) residents from their homes in the city of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. But for every temporarily displaced person, it appears several spiders have moved in to fill the void.

“What we’ve seen here is a type of wolf spider,” Owen Seeman, an arachnid expert at Queensland Museum, told Reuters. “They are trying to hide away (from the waters).”

The Australian Museum’s entomology collections manager Graham Milledge told Reuters that there’s even a term for the phenomenon, “ballooning,” and that it is typical behavior for spiders forced to escape rising waters.

Click image for more photos

I don’t like spiders or snakes…you fool, you fool…
Y’all know that tune?
I remember listening to this song when I was a kid, the video is from 1974…it is very annoying, but check out Dolly Parton…no big hair and no high heels. Oh yeah, this is the part I described up top as “dated perceptions.” It is really more like obnoxious stereo-types but you will get my meaning when you watch it.
The video does present a nice contrast to the last video I have for you tonight, which rounds out our “Bad Romance…”
Hope you enjoyed that wild ride, I will catch y’all in the comments later tonight. There is a strawberry shortcake with my name all over it in the kitchen…and it is calling me. (Well, it is either that or I really am going off the deep end.)