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Virginia Senate GOP’s Coup Attempt Abruptly Scuttled

7:26 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Before we even had the chance to see the courts slap down the illegal re-redistricting plan put forth by the GOP Senate Caucus of the Commonwealth of Virginia last month, it got slapped down Wednesday by the leading member of the GOP-controlled House of Delegates:

Today, Speaker Howell ruled Senate Republicans’ off-year redistricting plan not germane to the underlying bill. The Speaker’s ruling ends Senate Republicans’ hopes of defying the will of the voters with an unconstitutional, partisan gerrymander.

Democrats praised the Speaker’s statesmanlike decision, noting that the composition of the Senate will continue to reflect the will of the voters, and not the will of politicians eager to expand their grip on power. Two weeks ago, Senate Republicans rammed through a blatantly unconstitutional off-year redistricting measure on a day when civil rights icon Senator Henry Marsh was away from the Capitol, attending President Obama’s second inauguration.

As Blue Virginia’s KathyInBlacksburg says, Howell’s primary interest was probably not the upholding of democracy, but how history would treat him. He didn’t want to be the person that signed off on a power grab so atrociously slimy that it would poison relations between legislators for decades. (He likely especially didn’t want to be the person that signed off on this move, only to see it get shot down in the courts.) Read the rest of this entry →

Tea Partiers, Greens, and the GOP

10:21 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Tim Pawlenty talks to Tea Partiers in February.

In a system such as the US’, with no ranked-choice voting (the same lack of which is why the French in 2002 got stuck with Jacques Chirac as Prime Minister president when they, instead of voting for Lionel Jospin, frittered their votes away on several fringe left parties and were then forced in the runoff to vote for Chirac to avoid the Nazi LePen), third parties can almost never be anything but spoilers. This is shown in how the Republican Party treats third parties on the right (which threaten to take votes from the GOP) and the left (which threaten to take votes from the Democrats).

Republicans love actual third parties, but only those that are likely to take votes from Democrats. This is why over the past couple of decades, Republicans and their big-money patrons have made a point of buying ads for various Green Party candidates (like Nader in 2000) — and have often provided (most notoriously in the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race) the bulk of a Green Party candidate’s funding.

But when a third party or even a mere third party movement is formed that threatens to take votes from the Republicans, the GOP has a much different response. When the original TEA (“Taxed Enough Already”) Party movement formed in the late 2000s, it was formed not as a branch of the Republican Party, but as an actual, separate third party movement with secular-libertarian leanings. The Republicans could not allow this to stand, so they used an old trick — create well-funded “vacuum cleaner” groups to suck up potential TEA Partiers and keep them within the GOP fold before they could find and join the real TEA Party.

Republican activists, armed with mountains of cash, much of it from the Kochs via their backing of Dick Armey’s Citizens for a Sound Economy, which merged with another conservative activist group Empower America to become FreedomWorks, created a Potemkin movement in 2009 called “the Tea Party Express” to serve as a vacuum cleaner to starve the true TEA Party of members. Armey’s movement had lots of cash available for “Tea Party” candidates — but only if they promised to a) uphold the Republican Party platform, and b) caucus, once elected, with “like-minded representatives” (in other words, Republicans).

Thus was the TEA Party neutered and reabsorbed back into the GOP.

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Prominent Florida Republicans: Yes, GOP Trying to Suppress Black Vote

1:07 pm in Elections, Politics, Republican Party by Phoenix Woman

Mugshot of former Chair of the Republican Party of Florida Jim Greer

Most Republicans will deny fiercely that their ALEC-fueled efforts to ram through voter ID and other voter-suppression laws aren’t about suppressing the votes of black Americans. But recently (h/t Meteor Blades), two prominent Florida Republicans have come forward to state, on the record, that this is exactly what the GOP is trying to do.

First off, here’s former Florida Republican Party chair Jim Greer:

In a 630-page deposition recorded over two days in late May, Greer, who is on trial for corruption charges, unloaded a litany of charges against the “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” in his party, including the effort to suppress the black vote.

In the deposition, released to the press yesterday, Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He also said party officials discussed how “minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party,” according to the AP.

Greer’s charges are being pooh-poohed by Republicans quick to point out that he is in deep legal trouble, as if that by itself somehow totally disproved what he said. But they can’t use that gambit against former Florida governor Charlie Crist who went on MSNBC recently and blasted Rick Scott, his fellow Florida Republican and his successor as Florida governor, for pushing “shameless” voter-suppression tactics such as photo ID laws, preventing former felons from voting, and heavy-handed purging of voter rolls — and agrees with US Attorney General Eric Holder that the intent of these tactics is to suppress the black vote, Jim-Crow-fashion:

Mitchell noted that Attorney General Eric Holder had recently compared voter photo ID requirements to Jim Crow laws, telling the NAACP that they were the equivalent of “poll taxes.”

“He’s on the right track,” the former governor agreed. “Anytime that you put more impediments into a citizen’s right — a legal citizen’s right to vote and make that more difficult, you impede the natural right of democracy and a citizen’s right to have their voice heard in important elections.”

By the way: Aren’t you wondering why, instead of seeing this news in your local paper or on your evening broadcast TV news, or hearing about it on drive-time radio news programs, you’re probably hearing it first from me? Yeah, me too.

Steve King on Impeachment, Then and Now

7:29 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Steve King’s for it now, but was against it in 2008 (see YouTube above). The difference? Currently, a black man who ran as a Democrat occupies the Oval Office — whereas in 2008, the very white WASP-y scion of America’s most powerful Republican political family was in the Oval Office.

Of course, Republicans have been pushing to impeach Obama almost before got into office. The debt ceiling is just the latest in a nearly-two-year-old string of pretexts-of-the-moment such as his opposition to DOMA, allegedly not being tough enough on undocumented workers, and as a way to keep the birth-certificate smear alive. The most recent effort revolved around Bruce Fein’s impeachment articles based on NATO and US involvement in Libya — which, ironically enough, even most Republicans are avoiding touching because they don’t want to look soft on war.

King’s stances then and now, truth be told, are equally incoherent — and his current one is, as is common with him, very likely imbued with that extra little touch of signaling-to-his-base racism that infects a large portion of his public commentary. But the rich and elite business interests that back and fund him aren’t interested in him sounding sane, they’re interested in never having to pay taxes if they can at all avoid it, even if it means crumbling infrastructure, so he likely will have his seat until he dies, unless he’s caught ravishing a goat or voting to increase corporate taxes. Read the rest of this entry →

UK, US Tories and their Media Circle their Wagons to Protect BP

2:23 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The intense propaganda campaign to protect BP at all costs is heating up. The wagons are being circled and the propaganda flows like a busted oil well.

The current meme in the Tory community, both here and across the ocean, is that Obama’s an evil Brit-hating Socialist out to destroy business.

Seriously, that’s what the Economist, falling in with the other Tory papers, is saying:

The Economist has a pathetic leader this week criticizing Obama for hammering BP and raising the ridiculous idea that his corporate-friendly administration is anti-business.

It actually (really!) calls the president “Vladimir Obama” and writes:

The collapse in BP’s share price suggests that he has convinced the markets that he is an American version of Vladimir Putin, willing to harry firms into doing his bidding.

The normally sober Economist has gone off the wagon here.

First, it knows better than to “suggest” what “the markets” think. Second, that blew up in its face rather quickly. Instaputz points out that BP shares soared 10 percent on news of the $20 billion fund.

Most importantly, you have a giant oil company that cut corners while drilling a mile-deep well, killed eleven people, and sprung a hole in the ocean floor that’s gushing an Exxon Valdez-size spill every four days. The company has consistently lowballed the amount of oil it’s spilling (remember the 5,000-gallon barrel days?), and has caused an environmental and economic disaster in the Southeast United States. It’s a true national emergency.

But this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Tories on both sides of the Atlantic, and the media organs that prop them up (the Economist, Torygraph and Daily Hitler Worshippers in the UK, FOX News et al in the US) have been doing everything in their power to shield the poor ickle BP from the oil-soaked pelicans coming home to roost.

One favorite meme: "BP is at death’s door because of you American meanies!" Erm, not exactly: Shares of BP actually rose nearly 10 percent once the deal to set up a $20 billion escrow fund was reached.

Another favorite Tory Story is the Blame Shirk: "BP’s not the real culprit here — Transocean/Halliburton/Space Aliens are!"

Wrong. The evidence continues to mount that BP (which ignored contractor recommendations in favor of cost- and corners-cutting on the Deepwater well) bears the lion’s share of the blame. As a result, the world’s stock exchanges are easing off of their punishment of Transocean and Halliburton stock.

And of course there’s the "Lay off BP or the grannies get it!" argument, which is undermined by the fact that UK pension fund exposure to BP tops out at 1.5%, at most.

But the new Cameron-led Tory government, which is about to unleash some nasty austerity measures on Britain’s pensioners (and everyone else who isn’t filthy rich), would probably like to see Obama and the US take the heat for Tory-instigated suffering. Think of it as David Cameron’s camouflage — or Cammie-flage, for short.

Toxic Mudpie Update: We Told You So

11:22 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The major commercial networks and even PBS were apparently all too busy pushing bogus Tory/GOP talking points on the BP spill Friday night* to mention this, so it fell to a radio network, NPR, to tell us that the sand berms that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal wants so badly a) won’t work, b) won’t last, c) are being made without any sort of oversight, much less proper scientific oversight, and d) may well make things worse (such as by choking off the wetlands) in the short time they exist before even normal wave action in the Gulf starts to wear at them:

"The structure that I see that they’re planning to build is going to erode as soon as it’s constructed, and it’s going to have a tough time making it through a hurricane season that’s predicted to be a fairly active one," [coastal geologist Rob] Young tells NPR’s Melissa Block. "I just don’t have a very high level of confidence that a project that’s going to require a lot of energy and a lot of sand and mobilize a lot of people is going to do what they promise it will do."

What’s more, says Young, there could be unintended environmental consequences.

"We don’t know how that structure will impact storm surge or waves or currents. And whether there are possibilities that it might in fact draw more wet oil through some inlets than in other areas," he says.

Of course, those of you who are regular FDL readers already know all this, because Kirk Murphy told you all about it over two weeks ago:

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Republico Dishes UP RNC Talking Points, This Time on Health Care Reform

1:35 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Want to know the latest RNC talking points, but don’t feel like listening to Lou "Birther" Dobbs, Rush "Birther" Limbaugh, or Glenn "Really Birther" Beck? Go to www.politico.com, where the smears have the coarse and overtly racist language stripped from them before they see print (or rather, pixels). There are plenty of examples to choose from, but this post is going to confine itself to taking apart just one, Glenn Thrush’s opus "5 Things to Watch During Recess".

Thrush’s First Thing: "When your product is hard to sell — and health care reform has proven to be the Edsel in the White House showroom — it’s not a bad idea to single out a bad guy, and fast." Thrush links to a prior Politico piece to back up his "Edsel" claim. What neither his piece nor the earlier piece mentions is that one of the two polls cited in the earlier story, the July 29 CBS/New York Times poll, shows that Americans trust Obama to come up with a good health care plan far, far more than they trust the Republicans on health care: 55% trust Obama, compared to a measly 26% level of trust for Congressional Republicans.
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