Archive for category Conspiracy theories

Microsoft Springs Up With A Free Voting APP Just Before The Iowa Caucus

I’m glad Bernie Sanders is casting doubt on serious concerns about his candidacy. “Some” might call him a conspiracy theorist, to shut down the conversation. It works every damn time in America. I’ve called it a post hypnotic suggestion in the past, and I’m still calling it that. As far as I know, none of the media has called out that particular big gun on Sanders yet.

I’ve always loved computers, but I’ll be the first one to tell you they don’t have any place in elections. A Computer will do anything the programmer tells it to do. The internet, in essence. is just a really, damned, big computer.

I wrote this letter to Bill Gates in mid 2006 on BradBlog:

AN OPEN LETTER TO BILL GATES CONCERNING VOTING MACHINES

Dear Mr. Gates:

I heard you on NPR’s “What I believe” series , talking about your hopes and dreams concerning computers and other very important issues facing today’s world. I too share your love of computers and have always thought they were the greatest invention of my lifetime. I even taught myself programming and published a little known program called “Cyber Print” for Atari in 1988 just before they went out of business. Don’t worry, I now own a PC and find it to be perfect for my needs.

Who could image a machine that could not only allow somebody to compose and orchestrate their own musical score, create incredible works of art, or think of virtually any question that popped into their mind and actually have the answer in the time it takes to boot up their PC and hop on the internet. Wow!

Many years ago I was with some friends, and the subject of computers came up. Somebody I had never met said something that seemed so stupid to me at the time, that for a moment, had put me in a state of rage! He said that computers were the “appliance from hell”. I was speechless that somebody could say something so ignorant and literally could not think of a thing to say.

Today, I feel he may have been right! Whether you are a conspiracy nut or not these days, nobody can argue that computers, intentionally or not, are keeping us from knowing our votes are being counted at the polls. Something so horrifying that apparently, people don’t want to believe it. This news is traveling slowly to say the least. Not from any lack of notification on my part though. Just ask anybody at the local news hotlines or members of the Voting Equipment Selection Commitee here.

I walked the streets and collected hundreds of signatures for a group of local activists in Utah last year soliciting for paper ballots. I even got to speak at a local rally for my efforts and told of my ease at gathering signatures from both sides of this 21st century political divide we find ourselves in. Although I didn’t ask, I assumed most of people I talked to must have been republican. Almost all of these people did not know that these machines were secretly programmed, but nearly everybody I talked to signed up immediately and were very appreciative that somebody was trying to fix this obvious problem.

Despite all my, and many others efforts and money, local officials elected to buy an unverifiable system for the 2006 midterm elections. I also understand the democrats aren’t planning to organize an exit poll this year. Maybe they are too busy getting one together for the next Kiev race! We all know how goofy those Russian elections can get!

This is where I hope you might come in. Although I don’t think it takes any great knowledge of computers to understand this problem, I’ll bet your thoughts on this disturbing matter would promote our cause faster then any thousand computer scientists. And I’ll bet those same scientists would be very happy to get back to their regular day jobs, and leave the task of producing verifiable voting procedures to competent professionals who get paid for that sort of thing!

I’m sure that your great American success story could only be enhanced by your bravery to come out against any corporation that would sell, or polling officials that would buy, a machine designed to count votes, without providing complete transparency. Some things are just too important to get all mixed up in a legal conundrum. In other words, they tell us we are lucky to live in the greatest democracy in the world, and I’m just asking for the right to have my ONE vote registered AND counted on election day.

Thank You!

When I got a forum on OneUtah, I published it again. I probably shouldn’t have included Bill Gates’s famous smiling mugshot. Maybe that’s why he never responded, even though it put me on Googles front page for about 8 years, and usually at the top. Try it: Type (an open letter to bill gates) into Goggle. I’m currently number one, but I’m interested to see what happens now. Read my whole post to find out why I don’t really trust Gates, and many others, in regards to voting integrity.

Here’s Microsoft’s reply to those who might have concerns about it’s new APP:

“Microsoft is providing technology and services solely to administer and facilitate a neutral, accurate, efficient reporting system for the caucuses. We are proud to partner with the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties to ensure accurate results on caucus night.”

What we need, is hand marked, hand counted ballots. I’m a true Luddite about that!

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The Shutdown is a Constitutional Crisis

So says Jonathan Chait.

In a merciful twist of fate, Juan Linz did not quite live to see his prophecy of the demise of American democracy borne out. Linz, the Spanish political scientist who died last week, argued that the presidential system, with its separate elections for legislature and chief executive, was inherently unstable. In a famous 1990 essay, Linz observed, “All such systems are based on dual democratic legitimacy: No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature about which of the two actually represents the will of the people.” Presidential systems veered ultimately toward collapse everywhere they were tried, as legislators and executives vied for supremacy. There was only one notable exception: the United States of America.

Linz attributed our puzzling, anomalous stability to “the uniquely diffuse character of American political parties.” The Republicans had loads of moderates, and conservative whites in the South still clung to the Democratic Party. At the time he wrote that, the two parties were already sorting themselves into more ideologically pure versions, leaving us where we stand today: with one racially and economically polyglot party of center-left technocracy and one ethnically homogenous reactionary party. The latter is currently attempting to impose its program by threat upon the former. The events in Washington have given us a peek into the Linzian nightmare.

Both House Republicans and the President lay claim to democratic legitimacy and there is no system to resolve the dispute.  So we’re left with a slugfest.

Sanford Levinson’s book, Our Undemocratic Constitution, lays out some of the inherent problems with the US system.  He argued:

Significant distortions and outright failures of American politics are produced because of-and not merely in spite of-the structure of the government imposed by the Constitution, whatever the contribution of other factors like the mode of campaign financing. [snip]

However divided we are as a country these days, what paradoxically may unite far more than a majority of Americans are deep feelings of inefficacy with regard to being able to participate in what are ostensibly institutions promoting self-governance, as well as feelings of dismay at the actual legislation that is passed (or not passed).

The point is incredibly simple – our system of government as designed includes too many veto points to function if a minority is able to block one of those veto points.  What we’re seeing, right now, is the result of that system in action.  The shutdown, in which a minority of the House Republicans are able to take the entire nation hostage, is a result of a governing system which diffuses both power and authority.In a parliamentary system, the head of government is chosen by the majority party (or governing coalition) from the legislative branch.  The head of government is empowered to enact a specific policy platform and is able to do so because he/she is the same party as that which dominates the legislative branch.  The US system, with two, equally powerful houses of Congress, and a separately elected President, includes multiple points at which a minority party can frustrate the will of the majority.

Our current governing crisis is a covert Constitutional crisis.  House Republicans essentially argue that the polling shows the ACA is unpopular and therefore they are on the side of the people.  That’s simply the convenient, current argument.  The deeper battle is informed by a Republican party controlled by movement conservatism which denies the legitimacy of any Democratic president.  It’s not just that conservatives deny Barack Obama’s legitimacy, the denied Bill Clinton’s as well.  As a result, what we’re seeing play out in DC right now is a slow motion attempt to strip a Democratic president, any Democratic president, of presidential power by a Republican congress which refuses to acknowledge the validity of the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.  It’s not about any specific policy.  Any and every policy supported by a Democratic president is considered inherently invalid and illegitimate.

At Americablog, Becca Morn argued:

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of AMERICAblog that many Republicans have never accepted the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. They’ve been cooking polls to make themselves and their policies seem more popular than they are. When the overwhelming majority of legitimate mainstream polls say their GOP candidates are going to get trounced, they deny the polls are accurate. When they lose elections, they cry fraud, and if there’s any way to tie up the election results in court, they’ll do so.

The Democrats, whatever their many and manifest flaws, don’t do this. Crooked Democratic ballot box shenanigans pretty much ended with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Democrats don’t need to cheat. Republican candidates and policies are unpopular enough, all the Dems really need to do is turn out enough legitimate voters.

Which is, of course, why the Republicans are pulling out all the stops to prevent Democrat-voting demographics from being able to cast a ballot. Their claims it’s because there’s rampant fraud are absolutely bogus.

Everyone is familiar with the ridiculous “birther” conspiracy theories about Barack Obama. Anybody who isn’t as loony as Orly Taitz or ego-maniacal as Donald Trump knows those allegations are total rubbish. Unfounded. Ridiculous. Would not last ten seconds in a legitimate court of law. Nevertheless, the persistence of this meme is an important insight into the psyche of the political opposition.

Birtherism, along with other lies — such as referring to Obama as a Nazi/Communist/Socialist and/or secret Muslim — plus the constant lies about Obamacare “death panels” and the like are how the GOP leaders and their wingnut media lackeys keep the rubes both afraid and entertained. While Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachman and Sarah Whatshername might actually believe the nonsense crossing their pouty, poxy lips, some ‘serious’ Republicans will dance around with birther language, but they don’t buy the snake oil they’re peddling.

The constitutional crisis is grounded in the refusal of conservatives to accept the outcomes of elections with which they disagree.  The result is that conservatives are attacking the constitutional system they claim to venerate.

And so the crisis grinds on with enough Republican believing the nonsense to keep the government shutdown and to cause yet another crisis at the next opportunity.  It’s not about any actual policy or bill or program.  Movement conservatives have defined American-ness in such a limited way that there is no way for them to accept a black Democratic president as legitimate.  And in the face of a system which seems to refuse to accept their arguments about his illegitimacy, they believe they have only the most extreme tactics available to them.

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The Fine Line Between Completely Nuts and Deeply Conservative Keeps Getting Harder to Distinguish

Educators in Kentucky have rolled out a new set of science standards.

Nearly two dozen parents, teachers, scientists and advocacy groups commented at the state Department of Education hearing on the Next Generation Science Standards. The broad set of guidelines will revamp content in grades K-12 and help meet requirements from a 2009 law that called for improving education.

“Students in the commonwealth both need and deserve 21st-century science education grounded in inquiry, rich in content and internationally benchmarked,” said Blaine Ferrell, a representative from the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, a science advocacy group that endorses the standards.

Seems reasonable right? Read the rest of this entry »

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Daylight Nonsense Tomorrow

You know the drill:

Spring forward because your congresspeople want to fuck with your head. :(

They can take away your savings in favor of the 1%, but they will NEVER stop making you reset your clock.

I know about the argument in favor of the farmers, but there aren’t any farmers anymore. It’s all Monsanto. Monsanto can suck my dick!

In other words: How does showing up early or late for work help anybody?

I’m sorry, but maybe some vivid language or reason will make this stop.

I’m not holding my breath.

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An Open Letter to all People Who Hate the President

Reprinted in full from Progressive Press

Barack Obama Smile

“It’s fine to be a conservative who disagrees with Obama politically. He is a fallible human being. Like any politician, he deserves criticism now and then. Progressives criticize him all the time because his policies are more conservative than many thought he would be.

If you would say “Obama is wrong on this issue and here’s why”, I could respect that. But it’s something else to be a hard-core Glenn Beck parroting, Bush-was-God, Obama-is-Satan, damn-the-facts, anyone-who-disagrees-with-me-is-a-communist, conservative.

Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend the level of hatred you have for President Obama. This hatred is not about dissent and it began long before he even took office and doesn’t seem to stem from anything he’s done as president. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reason Derangement Syndrome

Think Progress reported yesterday that the painfully unaware State Rep. Dennis Hedke has introduced a bill that would prohibit public funds from promoting sustainable development. An interesting story, and a great example of rightwing hypocrisy and nincompoopery. But I also think it overlooks the real story.

The article points out that Hedke is so blissfully ignorant of his own actions that he can’t see why anyone would question a connection between his day job and his latest bill. This is interesting, since his day job is contract geophysicist for some 30 local oil and gas companies. Conflict of interest? Certainly not!

“I can’t see why,” Hedke said. “I didn’t think about that. It really never crossed my mind. I’d probably just say no.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Faux News, producing parody you just can’t match

Some of my friends and family watch Fox. I make fun of them for it, just as I mock commenters here who link to their tripe. They are, without a doubt, one of the worst “news” sources on earth. They feature people who couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag and who have no connection at all to reality. They regularly lie, or just plain old regurgitate rightwing talking points as if they were news.

They are a place for the ill-informed to go to actually become even more poorly informed.

If you have ever linked to anything they produce as “evidence” to support a claim (except the claim that the entire organization should be shipped to a small asteroid for endangering the human race) you deserve to never be taken seriously again.

Hyperbole? I wish.

Fox News host Eric Bolling on Wednesday accused some schools of “pushing the liberal agenda”

That is hardly, news! They claim that all the time! You have evidence Eric?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Our Multidimensional Crisis: Institutional Breakdown

The signs are all around us – our crisis continues to deepen and to engulf us in its complexity.

Manuel Castells, in the introduction to The Power of Identity:

The Iraq invasion was the return of the state in it most traditional form of exercising its monopoly of violence, and it followed a major crisis of international governance institutions, starting with the United Nations, marginalized by the United States, and the apparent triumph of unilateralism in spite of an objectively multilateral world.  [snip]

Not only was the United States drawn into protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as al-Qaeda wanted, but its inability to build a global governance system led to a multidimensional, global crisis of which the financial collapse of 2008 was only its most damaging expression.[snip]

. . .. in the long term the trends that characterized the social structure ultimately imposed their logic, but in the short term the autonomy of the political agency could oppose such logic because of the interests and values of the actors occupying the commanding heights of agency.  When such is the case, as during the Bush-Cheney administration period, the discrepancy between structure and agency induces systemic chaos, and ultimately destructive processes that add to the difficulties of managing the adaptation of the nation-state to the global conditions of the network society.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Faux News: Iraq WMD Intel ‘Turned Out To Be Correct’

Via Media Matters. Faux News version:

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): [T]he last thing I would say, the other talking point from the administration put out through the media is, well what about Condoleezza Rice, who talked about weapons of mass destruction and still got to be Secretary of State, when there were no known weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? And the answer to that is simple — about 80 percent of the Western world and the Middle East from Egypt to Jordan thought he had weapons of mass destruction. All the evidence was there. He actually was caught with them. And there is evidence that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear program. So everything turned out to be correct. You had the world, and an eight-month investigation, and a report that was out. That’s a lot different than what Ambassador Rice was either given or said.

Real-world information:

In 2004, the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence released a final report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The Iraq Survey Group, as it was known, found that Iraq “ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program.”

As for the claim that Iraq still possessed chemical weapons, the report stated:

While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad’s desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.

The Iraq Survey Group report also judged that after 1995, Iraq “abandoned its existing [biological warfare] program in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad’s ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions.” The report also stated that Iraq destroyed its undeclared stocks of biological warfare-related weapons in 1991 and 1992.

How many times and how thoroughly does a lie have to be debunked before the Faux News Channel stops repeating it?

I’m not even going to address Faux News Channel’s Benghazi conspiracy theory, because it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

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USDA Suggests Its Employees Enjoy Meatless Monday – Republicans Go Apeshit

My headline says it all.

The USDA sent out an internal newsletter suggesting employees go vegetarian on Mondays as part of the Monday Campaign.  A group of Republicans congress critters went apeshit about the suggestion, claiming it was anti-agriculture.  And the USDA promptly folded.

Michael Klag, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health responded with an intelligent letter that pointed out that meatless Monday is in keeping with the USDA guidelines of good health, that the environmental impact of eating meat is huge and that there is more to agriculture than meat production.

Here’s what the USDA newsletter said:

“How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat.”

Being vegetarian or vegan isn’t for everyone.  But simply reducing the amount of meat you eat can have positive impact on your health.  How a group of individual as puerile as Republicans have ever managed to get elected astonishes me:

Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, for one, had this to say: “I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation [about] a meatless Monday,”

What a colossal jackass.

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Republicans Uncover A UN Plot to Conquer the US Using Bike Paths

You may not have caught the passage in the Texas GOP platform:

United Nations Agenda 21 -The Republican Party of Texas should expose all United Nations Agenda 21 treaty policies and its supporting organizations, agreements and contracts. We oppose implementation of the UN Agenda 21 Program which was adopted at the Earth Summit Conference in 1992 purporting to promote a comprehensive program of sustainable development projects, nationally, regionally and locally. We oppose the influence, promotion and implementation of nongovernmental organizations, metropolitan and/or regional planning organizations, Councils of Government, and International Council for Local Environmental initiatives and the use of American (Texas) citizen’s taxes to promote these programs.

On the American right, paranoia about the UN is old hat.  Whether it’s imaginary schemes to take over America using UN treaties or steal our children by imagining they have rights, the UN is a favorite bogeyman.  So what is this sinister Agenda 21?

Jim Galloway:

 Agenda 21 is also known as the“Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,” and was adopted in 1992 at a conference in Brazil.

In most languages, the report is a vacuous U.N. document that declares the need for a “sustainable” world environment.

Okay so?

But to a certain segment of those who speak Republican, it is a secret declaration of war.

At the state GOP convention in Columbus last month, delegates overwhelmingly condemned Agenda 21 as an attempt to “outlaw private property and redistribute wealth.”

At a debate in Paulding County two weeks ago, state Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, criticized Republican challenger Bill Carruth for labeling Agenda 21 a mere “conspiracy theory.”

“It’s not a conspiracy. This is the real McCoy,” said Heath, in dead earnest. “Their vision is to essentially conquer the world through limiting everything we do, incrementally taking our liberties away from us.”

Revolution through rezoning and land-use restrictions, in other words. In these circles, “sustainability” is no longer a friendly word.

Hat tip to Ed Kilgore.  Agenda 21 is apparently cropping up in Republican platforms all over the country (I’m afraid to read Utah’s!).  Let’s review.  20 years ago, a bunch of delegates at a UN conference adopted a largely boilerplate document in favor of sustainability.  I doubt any one has given it much thought since then.  Now, tea baggers all the country are worried that the UN is behind a sinister plot to take over the US using bike paths and zoning ordinances.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

 

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Heard Around the Intertubes

Part “like you were counting anyway” in a never ending series, because sometimes people just say great things….

Alabama Republican Primary voters:
Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or are you not sure?
Christian: 14
Muslim: 45
Not sure: 41

Do you believe in evolution, or not?
Believe in evolution: 26
Do not: 60
Not sure: 13

Mississippi Republican Primary voters:

Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or are you not sure?
Christian: 12
Muslim: 52
Not sure: 36

Do you believe in evolution, or not?
Believe in evolution: 22
Do not: 66
Not sure: 11

Ironically, these are the same assholes who think there should be a literacy requirement to vote.

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