September 2012 Archives

Moyers Report on Alec

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Moyers & Company presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a "nonpartisan public-private partnership". But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC's self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as "a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests."

In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers -- each accomplished without the public ever knowing who's behind it.

The Worst Campaign Call Ever

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GOP Corruption in Florida...Again

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Update PSA:

Mike Joba of PA asked me to pass on this link to a page where students can check a map on which states have Student Voter ID Requirements

Voter registration problems widening in Florida

By Gary Fineout

What first appeared to be an isolated problem in one Florida county has now spread statewide, with election officials in nine counties informing prosecutors or state election officials about questionable voter registration forms filled out on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida.

State Republican officials already have fired the vendor it had hired to register voters, and took the additional step of filing an election fraud complaint against the company, Strategic Allied Consulting, with state officials. That complaint was handed over Friday to state law-enforcement authorities.

A spokesman for Florida's GOP said the matter was being treated seriously.

"We are doing what we can to find out how broad the scope is," said Brian Burgess, the spokesman.

Florida is the battleground state where past election problems led to the chaotic recount that followed the 2000 presidential election.

The Florida Democratic Party called on the state to "revoke" the ability of state Republicans to continue to register voters while the investigation continues. Oct. 9 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election.

"It is clear that the Republican Party of Florida does not have the institutional controls in place to be trusted as a third-party, voter registration organization," said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.

The Republican Party of Florida has paid Strategic Allied Consulting more than $1.3 million, and the Republican National Committee used the group for work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.

The company said earlier this week that it was cooperating with elections officials in Florida. It said the suspect forms were turned in by one person, who has been fired.

"Strategic has a zero-tolerance policy for breaking the law," Fred Petti, a company attorney, said Thursday.

An email request to the company seeking additional comment, following the company's instructions, was not immediately returned Friday.

In Florida, it is a third-degree felony to "willfully submit" any false voter registration information, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

In recent years, Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature - citing suspicious voter registration forms turned in by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN - has cracked down on groups holding voter registration drives.

The League of Women Voters filed a federal lawsuit against some of the restrictions and Florida agreed earlier this month to drop a new requirement to turn in registration applications within 48 hours after they are signed. The state has reinstated a 10-day deadline.

The questionable forms tied to the Republican Party have showed up in South Florida, including Miami-Dade, as well as counties in southwest and northeast Florida as well as the Florida Panhandle.

Election officials in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties on Thursday handed over more than 100 suspect forms to local prosecutors. They did so days after officials in Palm Beach County also alerted prosecutors.

Ann Bodenstein, the elections supervisor for Santa Rosa County, said her staff started raising questions after an employee saw a form that changed the home address of a neighbor.

Paul Lux, election supervisor for Okaloosa County, said questionable forms in the Florida Panhandle appear to have all come from Strategic's effort based at the local Republican Party headquarters. He said his office has turned up dozens of suspect forms.

Lux said there have been forms that listed dead people and were either incomplete or illegible. He met with local prosecutors on Friday, but added that his staff was still going through hundreds of forms dropped off by Strategic employees.

Lux, who is a Republican, said he warned local party officials earlier this month when he first learned the company was paying people to register voters.

"I told them 'This is not going to end well,'" Lux said.

But Lux added that he did not blame the Republican Party of Florida.

"I can't place the blame on RPOF if they hired a firm and that firm wasn't following the rules they were given to follow," Lux said.

The state party filed the complaint against Strategic Allied Consulting with state election officials, who late Friday handed the case over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

An FDLE spokeswoman said the agency would not automatically open a criminal investigation, but would review to see if there were "possible criminal acts."

Paradise or Oblivion

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It's not necessary to overthrow the system, it will collapse of it's own accord.

Even FOX Polls the President 5% Up

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Vampiric Capitalism On Display

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Viagra's Head Office in Toronto

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hat tip to Yvonne P

Or how a Las Vegas toad with bad hair and billions is annoy-ting himself some sort of "Mob Go To King" and building a stable of conservative sycophants begging to stretch for the soap just to amuse himself.

It's a good clip:

Another Effect of Big Money in Politics

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The Internet Is Not a Cloud

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When a squirrel chewed through a cable and knocked him offline, journalist Andrew Blum started wondering what the Internet was really made of. So he set out to go see it -- the underwater cables, secret switches and other physical bits that make up the net.

Existential Cat

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Westwing Reunion

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Now that's a non-partisan political ad!!

If you're a West Wing fan desperate for just one more episode with President Jed Bartlet, CJ, and the rest of the crew, today is your lucky day. A handful of actors from the Emmy award-winning TV series reprised their roles in a campaign ad for the sister of Mary McCormack, a.k.a Deputy National Security advisor Kate Harper.

Bridget Mary McCormack is running for Michigan state Supreme Court. In a sketch littered with inside jokes, The West Wing team came together to bring attention to the not-so-sexy issue of filling out the non-partisan section of the voting ballot. This is how Michigan and 14 other states select their supreme court justices. As Bradley Whitford, who reprised his role as Josh Lyman, explains, "In non-partisan elections all across America, voters are leaving part of their ballot blank. And they don't even know it."

So who is Bridget Mary McCormack? According to the ad, she's a "married mother of four, dean at Michigan law. Bridget has spent her entire career fighting for justice for ordinary people for families with sick kids. For families of domestic violence. She's fought to free innocent men and women and get the actual criminals behind bars."

And in a TV-turned-reality twist, McCormack's husband, Steve Croley, currently works in the real West Wing as deputy counsel in the White House Counsel's Office.

While voting for Supreme Court justices may not be particularly racy, it is important. In fact, state Supreme Courts' decisions could influence the general election. Just this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on the state's voter ID law, sending it back to a lower court to ensure that all voters can get an ID by November 6.

Thinking about Death Clarifies Life

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In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: "Before I die I want to ___." Her neighbors' answers -- surprising, poignant, funny -- became an unexpected mirror for the community.

(What's your answer?)

Even Brooks Sees Romney's Problem

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Thurston Howell Romney

by David Brooks

In 1980, about 30 percent of Americans received some form of government benefits. Today, as Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out, about 49 percent do.

In 1960, government transfers to individuals totaled $24 billion. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700 percent over the last 50 years. This spending surge, Eberstadt notes, has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.

There are sensible conclusions to be drawn from these facts. You could say that the entitlement state is growing at an unsustainable rate and will bankrupt the country. You could also say that America is spending way too much on health care for the elderly and way too little on young families and investments in the future.

But these are not the sensible arguments that Mitt Romney made at a fund-raiser earlier this year. Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people "who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."

This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn't know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn't know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.

It says that Romney doesn't know much about the political culture. Americans haven't become childlike worshipers of big government. On the contrary, trust in government has declined. The number of people who think government spending promotes social mobility has fallen.

The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.

Romney's comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan's second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can't help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.

What the wealthy say to one another behind closed doors about the rest of us is caught on tape:

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Who Romney was speaking to and where he was saying it:

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And sometimes there's just no accounting for cultural fads.


Poverty and Schooling Connection

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The Birthers Move On

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The amazing thing about stupidity is that it is truly bottomless.

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You're not liable.


Is someone sneaking onto your Wi-Fi network to download pirated movies or music? Are you legally liable if they do? A judge in a federal case says you are not.

An adult video company sued a California man, Joshua Hatfield, after it was learned his Wi-Fi connection was being used -- not by him, though -- to download pirated copies of the company's videos.

The man, said AF Holdings, had a "duty to secure his  Internet connection," and "breached that duty by failing to secure his Internet connection."

As a result, the company contended, Hatfield was liable for copyright infringement. 

U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton disagreed. In her ruling dismissing the suit, she said, in part:

Hatfield had no duty to AF  Holdings to secure his Internet connection in order to protect AF Holdings' materials from infringement.

Hatfield is also protected under the federal Communications Decency Act, the judge said, which says that no provider or user of "an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," and that "no cause of action may be brought" or liability imposed in such cases.

The judge's ruling reaches the same conclusions as another federal judge's in New York in July, notes the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

As EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz writes on the organization's blog:

There are still many open cases in the federal courts where copyright owners are trying to use this bogus legal theory. People caught up in these cases should be able to use the Hatfield and Tabora (New York) rulings to get these suits dismissed quickly, without high legal fees. They may even be able to get their legal fees paid by the plaintiff, as 'copyright
negligence' claims move ever closer to being declared a frivolous and harassing misuse of the legal system. If you've been targeted by a copyright troll, visit this page for resources.

The Real Terrorist Threats

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David Byrne is Simply the Best

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All Memories Are Fake

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Fallon's Romney & Bain

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All about them and how they affect your health.

ketone.jpgIn chemistry, a ketone is an organic compound with the structure RC(=O)R', where R and R' can be a variety of carbon-containing substituents. It features a carbonyl group (C=O) bonded to two other carbon atoms.

Many ketones are known and many are of great importance in industry and in biology. Examples include many sugars and the industrial solvent acetone.

Getting to Know Ketones

Richard M. Weil, MEd, CDE

People with diabetes, particularly those with Type 1 diabetes, have been at least vaguely aware of the word ketones for a long time. With the recent resurgence of popular interest in low-carbohydrate diets, however, just about everyone seems to be talking about ketones these days. But does anyone really know what a ketone is? Are they a danger to your health (as in diabetic ketoacidosis), or a sign that you have lowered your carbohydrate intake enough to cause weight loss (as some people who follow low-carbohydrate diets believe)?

What are ketones?

Ketones are end-products of fat metabolism in the body. That is, they are formed when fat is burned for energy by the muscles. Chemically, they are acids known as ketone bodies, and there are three types: beta-hydroxybutyric acid, aceto-acetic acid, and acetone. But you don't have to be a chemist to understand what role they play in the body.

To get to know ketones, it's helpful to understand how your body burns fuel. A simple analogy is that of an automobile. For a car engine to run, the engine must burn fuel (gasoline), and when the fuel is burned, exhaust (carbon monoxide) is created. The carbon monoxide is the end-product of gasoline combustion.

Your body also has an engine that must burn fuel to operate. The engine is muscle, and the fuel is fat, carbohydrate (glucose), and, in certain conditions, protein. When fat is burned, the "exhaust" is ketones, and when glucose is burned, the "exhaust" is lactic acid.


Fat is more desirable as a fuel than glucose because there are more calories in a gram of fat (9 calories per gram) than there are in a gram of glucose (4 calories per gram), so you get more energy per gram of fat burned. In a sense, you could call fat a high-test fuel. But there is one catch to burning fat: To burn it efficiently, with little "exhaust," you have to burn glucose at the same time. If you don't have glucose available for fuel (because you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, for example), you will form ketones when your muscles burn fat.

For most people, the ketones that form as a normal product of fat burning and weight loss are nothing to be concerned about because they are simply burned for energy by the body, and any excess are passed out of the body in the urine. In fact, while the brain normally uses glucose for energy, during exercise -- and particularly during long-distance events like marathons, when glucose reserves may drop very low -- the brain can use ketones for energy. Your liver makes extra ketones when glucose reserves are low so that your brain has enough energy.

For people with Type 1 diabetes, however, having measurable amounts of ketones in the urine (or blood) is cause for concern. Ketones in a person with Type 1 diabetes may be a sign that his diabetes is out of control, he is ill or has an infection, or he is under extreme stress. Because above-normal levels of ketones in the blood can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition, people with Type 1 diabetes who have measurable ketones in their blood or urine should speak with their diabetes educator or doctor promptly.

Two things

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1) The Higgs Boson Explained

2)Weak Gavity and Extra Dimensions

Why Would a Woman Want an Abortion?

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Some men don't think abut that, even if they are vehemently against women being able to pursue one. Seriously?

Bill Clinton: Just Wow

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Political genius.

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One thing taken away from the first night of the Democratic Convention is that there is no so-called enthusiasm gap.

Would I Cry If Ralph Reed Were Shot?

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Melissa Hits a Sunday Homer

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A snippet from a much broader and deeper overall program.

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Cruel Conservatives Throw a Masquerade Ball

By Maureen Dowd

MESSAGE: They care.

Republicans care deeply. They really do.

They care deeply about making us think that they care deeply.

That's why they knocked themselves out producing a convention that was a colossal hoax.

They did that for us. Because they care. With exquisite timing, they started caring last Tuesday at 7 p.m., when suddenly the party was chockablock with tender souls in rainbow colors, with strong-minded women and softhearted men, with sentimental rags-to-riches immigrant sagas.

We all know Republicans prefer riches-to-riches sagas and rounding up immigrants, if the parasitic scofflaws aren't sensitive enough to self-deport.

That's why my heart swells to think of the herculean effort the G.O.P. put into pretending its heart bleeds.

Even if it's been bleeding for only five days. Better never than late.

It was remarkable to watch Mitt Romney ignore the empty seats and airless mood and reach deep inside himself to give a speech in which he appeared genuine. It was also remarkable to see that even when he looks genuine, he still seems fake. And despite the soft quiver in his voice, and Ann's nonstop transfusions of emotion and wrenching testimonials from Mormons forced to publicly relive family tragedies simply to give Mitt a personality, the terribly erect candidate still seemed as remote as Jupiter.

It was truly thrilling to watch the blindingly white older male delegates greet their young, blue-eyed future: Paul Ryan, the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman who turns out to be more talented than anyone had anticipated -- a prodigy of prestidigitation.

In his speech Wednesday night, the altar boy altered reality, conjuring up a world so compassionate, so full of love-thy-neighbor kindness and small-town goodness, that you had to pinch yourself to remember it was a shimmering mirage, a beckoning pool of big, juicy lies. (The fitness freak may have also fibbed about running a sub-three-hour marathon in 1991; Runner's World reports that his time was 4 hours and 1 minute.)

As the writer Dermot McEvoy notes, Ryan has "the so sincere, so phony air of a gloomy Irish undertaker standing outside the funeral parlor where you've come to plant your mother, shaking his head consolingly and giving you that firm two-handed Irish handshake."

Except with Ryan, it's the safety net in the coffin.

The convention was an unparalleled triumph of mythmaking, or Mittmaking. Romney was so eager to woo Hispanic votes and join the cascade of speakers sharing immigrant family tales, from Rick Santorum to Ann Romney to Marco Rubio, that he made his father, George Romney, sound Hispanic.

"My dad had been born in Mexico," he said, "and his family had to leave during the Mexican revolution."

It was fitting that David Koch was the beaming financial god presiding over this Orwellian makeover of Republicans as generous communitarians who care about grandmas, cherish immigrants and defend Medicare, so movingly described by the vice presidential nominee who tried to turn Medicare into a voucher system as "an obligation we have to our parents and grandparents."

Koch leads the Orwellian movement of oil billionaires playing grass-roots activists. The industrialist ideologue wants to use his money to shrink government the way those vacuum sealers on infomercials suck the air out of plastic bags stuffed with clothes until they're a mere sliver -- shriveling all the social services, environmental regulations and taxes on the wealthy.

Koch, who infuses gazillions to build up the Tea Party and tear down the president, was a member of the New York delegation. On Tuesday, he was in the hall, sitting in what had to be one of the most expensive single seats that anyone ever bought.

The stage show looked like America, but the convention hall did not. The crowd seemed like the sanctuary of a minority -- economically wounded capitalists in shades from eggshell to ecru, cheering the man from Bain and trying to fathom why they're not running the country anymore. The speakers ranted about an America in decline, but the audience reflected a party in decline.


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