“…reduces to an unsupported allegation…”

Which is all it ever was.   Can we move on now?  Better yet, can the media beat THIS drum for the next six months so it actually seeps into the American consciousness?

In all the complexity of the email controversy — involving a tangle of concerns about server technology, anachronistic record-keeping practices, and the government’s oblique classification system — a more straightforward question has lingered since news of the email account broke in March: Was it a sound decision by Clinton to, without third-party oversight, determine the emails considered work-related, and therefore part of the federal record — and to then delete the rest?

On both counts, the Justice Department lawyers argue in the affirmative.

[ . . . ]

In the brief, the Justice Department lawyers note that the State Department — as with other government agencies that task employees with managing their own emails — requires individuals to “review each message, identify its value, and either delete it or move it to a record-keeping system,” according to NARA rules.

As such, the attorneys state, “there is no question” that Clinton was legally permitted to delete correspondence she considered personal. Because State Department employees “may delete messages they deem in their own discretion to be personal,” the briefing reads, the Judicial Watch argument “reduces to an unsupported allegation that former Secretary Clinton might have mistakenly or intentionally deleted responsive agency records rather than personal records.”

The administration attorneys’ argument amounts to one of the most definitive government statements that Clinton was not in violation of the law in deciding to sort and delete the emails herself. (Buzzfeed)

banging head shirtI realize this won’t stop the haters, but can I hope that the media will start doing  their jobs and cover what the candidates are proposing and <gasp!> present them to the American people without adding their own spin, instead of the horse race and the latest faux controversy?

Yeah, right. Who am I trying to kid?

From my inbox: Stop the FACT Act

Knowing ALEC is behind this is why I am posting, word-for-word, an email I received today regarding the FACT Act.

Hi Blue Lyon Blogger,

My name is Susan Vento, and I am writing to you about a cause very close to my heart. My husband, Bruce, was a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives until October 10th, 2000 when he died of pleural mesothelioma––a rare disease caused by asbestos exposure. Recently, asbestos companies are using their political influence to push a new bill in Congress, led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It is called the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act.” In short, this bill would delay and, in some cases, deny justice to people suffering from asbestos-related diseases. The FACT Act marks the beginning of a state-by-state strategy to dismantle the rights of victims. We must take action to protect these victims before it’s too late, like it was for my husband.

In the name of so-called “transparency,” the bill places burdensome reporting requirements on victims applying to the bankruptcy trusts. Yet, the companies who knowingly caused the asbestos exposure have no comparable requirements. The legislation is a one-sided and unfair effort designed to harm those who have already been injured. You can find more information on the bill here. This legislation is not an effort to make the legal system more responsive. Instead, it is merely the latest attempt by companies  and individuals like the Koch brothers to avoid responsibility for their wrongdoings.

Because of your influence and experience in the political blogosphere, I am asking for your help. I am a spokesperson for the Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign. The ACVRC is a national campaign dedicated to protecting the rights and privacy of cancer victims and their families.  I hope that you will join our fight to defeat this unfair legislation and the potential precedent it sets. Here are a couple of simple steps you can take to make a difference:

1.     Sign the petition to stop legislation that threatens cancer victims!

Go to www.CancerVictimsRights.org/take-action/sign-the-petition/ and follow the instructions to sign the petition at the bottom of the page.

2.     Spread the word!

Share your thoughts on the bill and our cause with your blog audience. Place a link to our petition on your blog to allow your readers to sign and showcase their public support––every signature matters!

Thank you in advance for your time. Individuals and families affected by cancer already have enough on their plate. With your help, the ACVRC is committed to fighting legislation that further burdens them.

Best,

Susan

 

An idea whose time has come!

I was perusing the Bill Draft Requests over at the Nevada Legislature web site when I came upon this one that would make Lyon County’s Attorney General the ex officio Public Administrator (pdf).  I think it’s a great idea and hope it passes.

After all, we haven’t had the best track record electing them.

Cross-Post: Good Luck, Mr. President

Cross-posted from The Neophyte Photographer.

It is Inauguration Day in the United States.

For all the silliness of the election season, and regardless of the winner, I like inauguration day and the peaceful transition of power it symbolizes (or in this case, the assent of the people to the continuation of the current administration).  I’ve got a number of friends who are there and I hope they have a great time.

I took these shots of the White House last March.  You can see the lights on in the Oval Office and I wonder if they are on all the time, or only when the President is in residence. I’m pretty sure President Obama was in D.C. at the time, so seeing the lights on was kind of cool.

UPDATED to add: Okay, now I’m feeling rather foolish. I’ve been operating under the misapprehension that the Oval Office is located in the White House. It is not. Rather it is located in the West Wing, a separate building on the White House grounds.

Reprise: Go Ahead, Raise our Taxes

Let’s just do it.  Let’s just go over the fiscal cliff slope.  

The Bush tax cuts were designed to expire in ten years. For everyone. We’ve gone two years beyond that expiration date and it has cost the country dearly.

Before anyone starts talking about cutting Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or closing loopholes or what-have-you, let’s just push the re-set button. Let all the Bush tax cuts expire. End the Payroll Tax “holiday.”  All of it. 

I posted this back in November of 2010. It is timely and bears repeating:

We’re willing to bite the bullet along with the fat cats. Seriously.

I looked at our joint tax return from last year and going back to 2001 rates would mean paying an extra $102.63 in taxes between the two of us every two weeks. Basically $50 a week. At least as best as I can figure. That appears to be the maximum we would owe.

That’s the sacrifice we are willing to make.

Sweetie and I are fortunate. When it comes to household income, we land in that upper bar. Barely. But if Sweetie were to lose his job, we’d immediately plunge down to the bar second from the bottom.

We know how to live with less, but we can’t live with nothing and we have never felt so job insecure in our lives. If either one of us were to  lose our job today, there is nothing comparable in terms of income out there for us. It’s a fact.

We’ve had ten years of Bush’s tax cuts and really, what has it gotten for the vast majority of us? Stagnant wages and job losses.  Worries that Social Security is on the chopping block. Less social safety nets. Less police and fire, less education for our kids, pot-holed roads.

If tax cuts create jobs, then why have we lost millions upon millions of them? If tax cuts generate tax revenue, then why are states and local municipalities slashing their budgets to the bone, laying off employees, requiring wage cuts, freezes, furlough days, cutting vital services, and on and on?

We can live without that extra $50.00  every week.

You guys have had your chance.

“Private Industry” would never have tackled this

Private industry only jumps in when there is a chance to make money. Basic research, just for research’s sake? Not on your life.

The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases,

Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role

 

 

True Religion: Rick and Mitt edition

Rick Santorum:

“People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad,” Santorum said, “but paying $900 for a  drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.” (ABC News)

Aside from the iPad red herring, I am fed up with this straw man that people expect “free” medical care.   We all know health care costs money. What we are saying is that the inability of some to pay for their health care should not preclude them from receiving it.  By Rick’s reasoning, a person dying of thirst or hunger has no right to food or drink unless they can pay for it, regardless of how much extra food and water others may have.  Aside to Rick:  Not everyone can afford an iPad. An iPad is what is commonly referred to as a luxury. Health care is not a luxury. It is a right.

More Rick:

“Suffering, if you’re a Christian, suffering is a part of life. And it’s not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life … There are all different ways to suffer. One way to suffer is through lack of food and shelter and there’s another way to suffer which is lack of dignity and hope and there’s all sorts of ways that people suffer and it’s not just tangible, it’s also intangible and we have to consider both.” (Link)

How very Mother Teresa of him:

“The suffering of the poor is something very beautiful and the world is being very much helped by the nobility of this example of misery and suffering.”

I’ve got nothing.

Mitt Romney:

“Unemployment benefits, I think they’ve gone on a long, long, long time. We have to find ways to reduce our spending on a lot of the anti-poverty programs and unemployment programs. But I would far rather see a reform of our unemployment system, to allow people to have a personal account which they’re able to draw from as opposed to having endless unemployment benefits.” ( Iowa debate,  August 2011 – Link)

What Mitt really means is that he doesn’t think employers should have to pay into the Unemployment Insurance fund.  As far as those “personal accounts?” Many people have  a personal account they can draw on in the event of an emergency. It’s called a savings account. Of course, one would need to have held a job that actually paid enough to salt away some money every paycheck.  Even if one had been able to do so, it’s pretty much a given that said savings account would eventually run dry in the event of long-term unemployment (which accounts for 42.9% of the unemployed. (link – pdf)

Clueless. Absolutely clueless.

More Mitt:

“The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug. We have got to fight it like the poison it is.”  (Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 7, 2008)

Of course, always left out of this argument for “individual responsibility” is the fact that single people with no children are rarely, if ever, granted welfare benefits.  Unemployment is required to be paid for 26 weeks, with extensions up to 99 weeks authorized by Congress.

Mitt and the rest of the Republicans ignore the fact that welfare pays far less than even a minimum wage full-time job, so what is the incentive exactly?

Regarding the “dependency” meme:  I once sold cars for a living.  I didn’t last long.  While I made one “full commission” sale (to a drug dealer!), most were nickel and dime sales wherein my commission was a measly $50 per vehicle.  One of the things the car dealership did do was pay their sales staff minimum wage against their commission. This was done to prevent, and I quote the sales manager,  “sales people from fainting from hunger at their desks.”  Were we “depending” on our employer to keep us alive even though we weren’t “productive” sales people? Yes indeed, and the employer saw the wisdom in it!  Needless to say, as a single mom trying to house and feed my daughter and myself, this wasn’t going to cut it. I went back to waiting tables where I was paid minimum wage and “depended” on the generosity of my customers to make up the difference. I certainly wasn’t getting it from my employer.

But I digress.

You know, even if they don’t have compassion for the poor because they’re not wired that way, 2 out of 3 of their Bosses have made it pretty damned clear as to their expectations.

From the comments at this post at Pharyngula:

One has to admit the Bible sometimes has useful invective.

1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
3 What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
4 Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
or fall among the slain.

That would be Isaiah 10: 1-4 (NIV)

Then there is what Jesus had to say:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

That would be Matthew 25: 34-45 (NIV)

See also my previous post: Are we a Christian nation?