Sunday, October 21, 2012

We Found the Voter Fraud!

Ladies and gentlemen, there's no need to worry.  Do you remember all those reports of voter fraud that Fox News tried to convince us of?  Well it's ok, folks.  We found the fraud!

But let's be honest, we already knew the real voter fraud problem... the problem, to Republicans, was that it wasn't happening.  But that didn't matter.  As the conservatives figured out that they were losing key states (Ohio and Pennsylvania, to start), they rushed to enact voter ID laws.

These laws didn't make sense, and that was ok, as long as they passed.  Sarah Silverman sums up why that was stupid in this lovely, and completely NSFW video.

But wait, there's more, night-time shoppers!

Reports then came out that the GOP voter registration campaign hired a man known as Nathan Sproul.  He was the executive director of the Arizona Republican party, but after that, he made a good career out of ... well, voter fraud.

Examples of Nathan Sproul's firm's sterling accomplishments include posing as democrats and destroying voter registration forms, only registering voters if they vote Republican, and yet they still seem to be paying Nathan Sproul's firms.

Oops.  Also suspected to be connected to Nathan Sproul's firms is this upstanding citizen, who was caught (surprise!) throwing away voter registration forms.

Along with these delightful coincidences, along comes the fact that "in all 234 counties of Texas, the entire states of Hawaii and Oklahoma, half of Washington and Colorado, and certain counties in swing state Ohio" are using electronic voting machines supplied by Hart Intercivic.  Machines supplied by this company have been notoriously unreliable, to the tune of adding 10,000 non-existent votes in the Ft. Worth area alone.

Along with the fact that these machines are, well, fucking awful, is the fact that the majority of the directors of Hart Intercivic come from H.I.G. Capital.  If you didn't know H.I.G. Capital has 49 partners and directors, 11 of whom, including founder Tony Tamer, have work experience listed on their resume with Bain Capital.  H.I.G. Capital employees have given $338,000 to the Mitt Romney campaign, putting them in a solid 11th place for largest donor to the Romney campaign.

As a comparison, Bain Capital, Romney's previous firm, has only given him $268,000.

Not only that, but it appears that Romney himself, along with his wife, son Tagg, and brother G. Scott, are also invested in this company.  And even worse, some Republicans are perfectly ok with this whole idea.

Now, this is infuriating to me.  I've called many of my friends out for being bold conspiracy theorists.  I have friends from a lot of different walks of life, and I love them for who they are.  But dammit, they can be crazy sometimes.  They've accused President Obama of everything from being Muslim to, for whatever reason, trying to make him seem like he didn't care about the recent assassination on the Libyan ambassador.

I know they're wrong.  It's ok. I let that brush by me.

But I cannot understand how this is not a big deal.  I completely agree with this article: if these occurrences were happening in favor of the Democrats, I cannot even imagine the outcry.  It would be Watergate all over again.  Or Lewinsky.  Or [insert famous scandal here].

But it's not.  And that's a problem.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rick Santorum doesn't care about the economy. Surprise?

I'm having a really hard time with this.  The Right wing has given me so much material to work with and blog about, but every time I try to write, it just seems... too easy.  I want my blog to be informative, full of information and facts, and be fairly well thought-out and researched.  And then the Republicans do all this stuff, and it feels cheap.

But screw it, let's get to work.

My favorite Republican candidate, Rick Santorum, has recently proclaimed (quite publicly, which just shows the monstrosity of his balls) that  ... hold on, let me get this quote right: "I don't care what the unemployment rate's going to be.  Doesn't matter to me."

I want to provide information.  I want to do research.  I want to be a good source of detailed analysis.  But when you're working with this kind of statement, what more do I need to do?  It just makes me feel lazy.

He later recanted, saying "Of course I care about the unemployment rate."  Thanks for clearing that up, Rick. He made claims that this nomination is all about securing our freedoms.  Which makes sense, because since Obama's been in office, I've seen all of my freedoms disappear left and right.

Oops, sorry, my mistake.  That hasn't happened.

Mr. Santorum, if this race was really about freedoms, why are women who want birth control, or even women in general, suddenly under attack from right-wing activists and politicians (This article is particularly revealing and disgusting at the same time)?  Why are you trying to ban pornography?  Why are you suggesting that women who are RAPED should carry to term this gift from God?  What types of freedoms are you protecting?

The issue is not freedom.  The issue that you are fighting for is your personal moral code, and that's not right.  I believe Obama said it best:

"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.  It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason.  I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teaching of my church or evoke God's will.  I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

Your personal moral code is NOT the issue of this election, and it should never be a political matter.  That's not the President's job.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Post In Which I Flex My Conservative Views

Get ready everyone.  I'm about to talk about one of the issues that causes me to label myself as a moderate, or independent.

For whatever reason, I've been hearing a fair amount of chatter on the news networks and social networks about food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and welfare.  I will say, with complete honesty and conviction, that I despise the current welfare system.

Let me be more clear: I understand and embrace the need for a nation to offer and provide food stamps and welfare.  It could be a great system for a productive society, in order to help its citizens who are down on their luck.  The people who use the welfare system properly are those who got laid off and needed help to get back on their feet for a few months, or those who were hit with an unexpected financial obligation, such as a monster hospital bill, or a death in the family.

The responsible welfare users are out there, I am sure, and I would never say that they are even a minority (because I just don't know those facts, and they would be hard to verify by any study).

However, from what I've seen in my daily life, far too many people on welfare have been on welfare far too long.  A column written by a Wal-Mart cashier goes into depth on this issue even more.

Welfare does not exist to support your family forever.  It exists for emergencies.  Anyone who has used welfare and who isn't actively looking for a way to support him or herself, boggles my mind.  I cannot imagine relying on government handouts for my well being without making any effort to rectify the situation.  I also cannot imagine winning the lottery and trying to convince ANYONE that I still needed food stamps.

Welfare, SNAP, unemployment, are all GOOD things.  But as of right now, the system is abused far beyond what it should be.

I've always been taught that if you are discussing a problem and you don't have any solutions, you're just complaining.  That being said, fixing our government's welfare and social benefits programs falls well outside of the scope of my knowledge of economics and financial structures.

I'm sure that further along in my blog journey, I will delve into the more intricate parts of welfare policies and laws, and I shall discuss them with you at length.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Obama, Why Is Gas So Expensive?!

It's been growing more and more clear that the Republican party is drowning for this election, and they've been reaching out for any straw that they can possibly find.

I say that because the new rhetoric I've been hearing often is how gas prices are so high.  Newt Gingrich jumped on this train by announcing that under his Presidency, gas would be $2.50 a gallon.  The morning show Fox and Friends spent a fair amount of time lambasting the President for the gas prices.

As I watch and listen to these attacks on Obama, I couldn't help but think to myself: "Wait... the President is responsible for gas prices?"

And as I researched what dictates gas prices, I found my answer: not really, and certainly not nearly to the extent that the Conservatives have been saying.

So let's go into this.  First of all, what we have here is an economics lesson in supply and demand.  When Obama first came into office, gas was around $1.81 a gallon.  Now the national average sits somewhere in the upper $3 dollar range (one article from Time where I got a lot of my information says $3.53).

It's no coincidence that the low price of gas fell during the deepest part of the recession that Obama inherited. When people don't have a lot of money, or are worried about the economy, they drive less.  When the demand for a product goes down, so too does the price.  (That same article I mentioned earlier states that "If future President Gingrich were to somehow be able to deliver $2.50-a-gallon gas, it would probably mean the economy had tanked again" which was an interesting concept to think about.)

One other factor that people claim Obama has a lot of control over, in reference to gas prices, is domestic oil production.  But that's not necessarily true either.  In fact, under the Obama Presidency, domestic oil production has actually increased.  This is because new oil reserves had been found, but, no matter who's in the White House, those would have been tapped.

Also under consideration is the pipeline that was proposed, known as the Keystone XL pipeline.  This pipeline would transport 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day into the southern region of the United States.  But saying this would have affected CURRENT gas prices holds no basis in fact, since it would take years to build and have any effect on our oil reserves.

Even so, domestic oil doesn't matter as much as people seem to think it does, since oil is a global commodity, and functions within a global market.

According to this Gather Business article, oil prices are determined by two variables: the price of crude (which has a 55% effect on gas prices), and the cost of transport, taxes, and refining the crude (the other 45%).

The only effect an American President could have on oil prices is with his/her international diplomacy policy.  But even that's a shaky correlation at best.  Acts of war that cause exports to stop coming out of Iran, for example, would be detrimental to the oil imports of some countries, but most have reserves. Gas prices would increase, but not by much.  The recent Iranian threats of closing the Strait or Hormuz affected the gas prices by only about six percent (If gas was $3.00 in your area, and it suddenly cost $3.18, now you know why).

The real lesson we can use here is that the Republican party in America seems to be uneducated in the ways of global economics... so why would I want them running a country?

Actually, the more realistic lesson to be learned here is not that they don't know how the oil markets work, but, even worse, are willing to lie and deceive to win the hearts and minds of the American people.

Which is way, way worse.

Monday, February 20, 2012

God: Please Go Away.

I worked and worked to find a way to begin this blog post that would entice readers in, while parrying and feigning away, and towards, the topic that I'm going to be discussing tonight.  But in the end, the only way to do this is, really, just to say it.

Keep your religion out of my government.

There are really no words to describe just how horrified I've been recently over the increasing amount of people crawling out of the woodwork demanding American values to be synonymous with Christian values.  Abortion, healthcare, homosexual marriage, the ten commandments, and don't even get me started on this fantasy-world "War on Christmas."

Let's be very clear about one thing right now: I do not mind religions.  What I DO mind is that, even with the establishment clause of the First Amendment, somehow people have gotten it into their heads that since this nation is, I will concede, mostly Christian, our government should mirror those Christian values.

We, as American people, should not stand for this.  There is a reason for the establishment clause, and it is valid and important.

As our government moves more and more towards the world of secularism, we start to be more accepting, as people.  The First Amendment guarantees that a person of ANY religion can be considered an American.  And America should never try to make anyone feel LESS American because they praise Allah, or Kali, or Zeus, or whichever Deity they choose.

I will say it once, just as many people have said before me: America is NOT a Christian nation, nor have we ever been, nor should we aspire to be.  We all know what happens when the government and religion of a country are one.  If that happens...

We have Rome, during the 1300s (give or take), when scientists were trying to make huge discoveries, but were silenced by the Catholic Church.

We have Spain, during the 14 and 1500s, murdering and causing mass terror in the name of the Church.

We have the Ottomans of the 1400s, conquering, murdering, pillaging, declaring jihads in the name of Islam.

There's a reason for the separation of church and state, and it should never be removed.  Because then, America looks a lot less like the home of the free, and begins to look like this:
Picture from

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's 2012; Why Is This OK?

When I first started thinking about writing this blog, I decided that my first post was going to be about the woman's health issues that have been making the news recently.  Contraception and birth control being covered by insurance, personhood being redefined, the fact that EIGHT men and TWO women were used as witnesses in a women's health debate, whether or not  aspirin is a valid contraceptive, the list was virtually endless.  Yet, one topic of this whole universe of recent news brought itself to the forefront recently.

Last week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill titled "Abortion; informed consent."  This bill states that " a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion."

Let's just pause right there.

Can anyone please enlighten me: why is this necessary?  The backers of the bill, specifically the Governor, Bob McDonnell, would like to believe that they are just giving more information, and, hey, who wouldn't want that?

But that's the problem: if a woman wants more information before her abortion, she should be allowed to have it.  But who is to tell her that she needs it?  Governor McDonnell?  ANY Legislator in Virginia?  No.  None of them.

But the deeper, more sinister goal of this bill is--and I believe this firmly--to put a woman through even more hell about the procedure she has decided to undergo.  No one is uninformed as to what an abortion is; and I've yet to meet a woman who would make such a decision lightly.  Tracy Weitz, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California-San Francisco, published a study to that effect, reporting that "[w]omen do not have abortions because the believe the fetus is not a human or because they don't know the truth."

But I have a very hard time imagining that seeing an ultrasound of the fetus that a woman is currently carrying does not place undo emotional strain upon a person who is already probably making a decision that will forever change her life.  It's cruel, and it's unnecessary.

That being said, most abortions occur before 12 weeks.  That means that the only way to have the required ultrasound would be an "invasive transvaginal probe."

I am a man (or, at least, a guy).  I have no idea what this procedure would feel like, but I have no delusions that it would be a pleasant ordeal, especially under these circumstances.  The article where I've gotten a lot of my information for this post is subtitled "Under the new legislation, women who want an abortion will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason.  Where's the outrage?"

"Forcibly penetrated for no medical reason."

It's 2012.  This is not OK.  It is no longer OK to make women feel like second-class citizens about the decision of their own health.  It is no longer OK to think that the government has any place to tell a woman what to do with her body.  And it is certainly not OK that any type of legislation would demand an "invasive transvaginal probe" that yields no medical information before a woman makes quite possibly the biggest decision of her life.

Really, it never has been.