Sunday, October 31, 2010

KEEPING FEAR ALIVE!! - a poem by Stephen Colbert

Colbert's poem
presented by Sam Waterston

                       Are you sure?
copyright 2010 by the reverend Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA

Did you hear that?
You're probably going deaf.
It's your kids back home cooking up some crystal meth.

Did you turn off the oven?
Did you set the alarm?
They still haven't caught the man with one arm.

Look around at these people. How safe do you feel?
Your car when you parked -- did you lock it?
Thinking reasonably now what are the odds 
That nobody here's a pick pocket.

That guy who just coughed on your neck, 
Could he have an infection?
The restaurant where you went to brunch,
Did it fail its health inspection?

A madman could set loose a virus for which there isn't a cure.
And while these things may be unlikely
Ask yourself, are you sure?

And can you be sure that you won't get Ebola
From a tainted diet cola.
Toxic waste or getting chased by a bearded Ayatollah.

Funnel clouds and hail, anthrax in the mail.
Your lover will discover your vestigial tail.

Someone's robbing your house.
I can see through your blouse.
Your mother was right, you chose the wrong spouse.
Unlabeled Drano tornados torpedoes,
The horrible sites of some Guido’s in speedos.

STDs PCBs SUVs UV light.
A giant pimple on your face.
You have a date tonight.

Choking on a biscotti,
Being wacked by John Gotti
Getting trapped overnight
In a full port-o-potty.

And I’ve one final fear to drop in your bucket
About a friend of a friend of the man from Nantucket...

There once was a man from Eau Claire, who no one was able to scare.
He wouldn't join panics about the Hispanics
And later he was killed by a bear.

True story.

Jon Stewart Closing Remarks

Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Closing Remarks:

“I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.

But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.

If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate--just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker--and perhaps eczema.

And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundations that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—but they do it--impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.

Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car, swinging, I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted.

Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you."

Video of closing speech:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't tread on my head.

In Lexington, KY, volunteer, Lauren Valle was assaulted by a Rand Paul worker.   Prior to the rally there was a crowd of people protesting, including Valle.  Paul's car pulled up, he got out and, someone wearing a 'Don't tread on me' button wrestled Lauren Valle to the ground.  A man later identified as Tim Prophet (Burbon county coordinator for the Paul campaign) walked up and stomped on her head.

During an interview with  Keith Olberman, Ms. Valle explained she had been working on a satirical project about a fictional company called Repulicorp, a conglomerate merger between corporate America and the Republican party.  As a part of the project she dresses as an executive, goes to Republican rallies and tries to have a piece of the fictional company somewhere in the same photo as the candidate. 
Prior to the incident Valle was identified by the campaign so they knew who she was and why she was there.  She said "It was premeditated.  Before it all started my partner heard someone say  'we are here to do crowd control and we may need to take someone out.' "  She told Keith that "after the car pulled up they formed a blockade around me."  She tried to go around them so they chased her around the car, grabbed her, pulled her down and someone stomped on her head. 

In the midst of the struggle you can hear a voice saying "get the police, get the cops!"  And when Mr. Prophet had his foot on her head someone else off camera can be heard saying 'No, no, no, no, come on.'  as if to tell Tim to stop.

When asked to comment on the issue, candidate Paul called the incident 'unfortunate'. He said he wanted everyone to be civil and that the campaign should be about the issues. "When we arrived we saw there was enormous passion on both sides."
Was that an apology?

Alleged head stompper, Tim Prophet was quoted as saying "it [wasn't] as bad as it looked . . . the video made it seem worse than it was."  Personally, I don't know about that.  Her body sunk when he pressed his foot down and her face seemed to scrape the sidewalk.

Lauren Valle went to the hospital and is perusing charges.   There has been a summons issued and a court date set.  Olberman pointed out it was ironic the man pulling her down appeared to be wearing a 'don't tread on me' button.

Head stomp video


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Married Gay Man to be Deported

from The Daily Beast 

Henry Valendia and Josh Vandiver legally married earlier this year in Connecticut—one of the states to allow gay marriages. It seems they still aren’t receiving equal protection under the law, however, as the Defense of Marriage Act will not allow Vandiver to sponsor the residency of his husband, who is a Venezuelan immigrant. Velandia is scheduled to go before an immigration judge in November; he and Vandiver are hoping that his deportation will be delayed until the Supreme Court rules on the Defense of Marriage Act, which a lower court has called unconstitutional.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to buy an election.

During the 2008 election primaries a group called Citizens United created a movie/documentary about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.  'Hillary: The Movie' was a right-wing, scathing criticism of Mrs. Clinton and starred people such as:

Hillary: The Movie
Gary Aldrich - "a driving force in the 1998 impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton." - website for Hillary: The Movie
Dick Armey - Co-Founder of the conservative 'Freedom Works'  
Michael Barone - Conservative columnest for the Washington Examiner and frequent guest on Fox News. 
Ann Coulter - Controversial writer who is quoted as saying, among other things "I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others."
And many others including Barack Obama during the primary campaign.

Citizens United was told they were not allowed to air it within 30 days of the election because it amounted to a multi-million dollar campaign advertisement.  So they took it to court.

At issue was a provision in the McCain-Feingold bill aka Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) saying it was not lawful for broadcast ads that "name a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or caucus or 60 days of a general election", and prohibited any ad paid for by a corporation (including non-profit issue organizations) .

United States District Court for the District of Columbia who heard the case upheld the key provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act prohibiting showing the movie.  So they appealed to the US Supreme Court.
The Supreme court 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010)  called the McCain-Feingold's bill.  " outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions. "
Corporations now have the right of free speech.
As a result there are a number of groups popping up as non-profit organizations.  Some are headed by Carl Rove some by Freedom Works.  And since they are non-profit organizations, they don't have to report where they get their donations.  The problem with this is:
1) No one knows who is funding ads nor do we know the intention of that group or person.  

2) Companies that received bail-out money are giving money to organizations funding ads.  So, technically, you are paying for the ad.

3) A single person can fund 25 - 50k ads.  Robert Mercer, a hedge fund adviser, who lives in NYC is funding attack ads against DeFazio in Oregon.  DeFazio was one of the people who helped get wall-street reform to stop allowing the misrepresentation of money going in and out of banks in the form of... hedge funds.

4) While it is not legal for the company/person to coordinate with the candidate, it is legal for them to mention afterward that they were the ones who spent x amount of money to create the ads.  It is also legal for a company to ask if it is okay to donate money shortly before the commercial airs. This buys influence.

So recently there was a bill (H.R.5175 - DISCLOSE Act) submitted to require corporations to, at the very least, say where the money came from.  The stated purpose of the bill is "[t]o amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit foreign influence in Federal elections, to prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections, and to establish additional disclosure requirements with respect to spending in such election."

This bill passed through the House of Representatives but failed a cloture vote by 1 in the Senate.  Yes, it takes 60 votes to pass anything these days since everything is met with a filibuster.

So, in this election there are some seriously extreme candidates who are getting attack ad support from . . who-knows-where - maybe you in the form of taxes.