I Came THIS Close To Buying iPad Mini!

I went looking around today. I went to Stanford Mall, where there are Sony, Microsoft and Apple stores. I almost bought an iPad mini, but Apple talked me out of it.
At the mall I went through the Sony store mostly to get from the parking lot, but then saw the new Vaio Duo, which is a touchpad and computer. (This is what the new Windows 8 enables, and I love it.) My next computer will be something like this, a full computer with a touch-screen of some sort, maybe one of these tablets with a keyboard rather than a computer with a touch-screen.
Then I went to the Apple store to see the iPad mini. This is like the perfect tablet! The size and feel are just right. After playing with one I picked up an iPad, and it was this big heavy thing. I need something to read with, and instead of buying a new Kindle, figured I get some kind of tablet, this is just perfect for this.
It costs too much, but I would have bought one one the spot anyway. But then I found out it doesn’t have a GPS in it. To get one with a GPS you have to pay another $130 to get the cell-enabled device. Apple wanted to both save themselves a quarter, and force people to buy the higher-priced device. I need this for use in the car, when we travel my wife likes to be the map person, this would have been perfect.
Apple. This is the company that charges $30 for a 5-cent cord. So, no sale. Android devices have GPS, and I have a wireless hotspot on my phone so I do not need a pad with cell service in it.
Then I stopped at the Microsoft store. The new Surface is beautiful. I might have bought one except I had just been holding that iPad Mini… It’s a bit early for the Surface, but it going to stomp Apple when there are enough models out there and the prices are down. And all the new touch-screen ultrabooks, etc. Just wow!
As I wrote earlier,

Apple is an aggressively predatory company. (Oh, and there is no excuse for not making things in the USA, and no excuse for their aggressive tax avoidance schemes which deny the American public good schools, etc. Apple is an aggressively unpatriotic company.)

By aggressively predatory, I meant preying on their customers. Screw that, tired of it. No matter how nice the iPad Mini is, like everything else from Apple they charge too much, (and avoid paying their taxes, and use slaves instead of paying reasonable wages, etc.) and this greed is going to catch up and hurt them.

Democracy Pushes Forward

In the last election the forces of concentrated wealth and corporate power played the same old divide-and-conquer game they have been playing for decades, but this time it didn’t work! They tried to divide us by race, religion, sex, sexual preference, class and every other wedge they could find, and it didn’t work! The era of dividing the people for profit is over. Democracy pushes forward.

The Conservative Con Game

For decades a simple formula has played out. Divide us by religion, race, whatever, divert our attention, get us to vote out of feat and hate or just get us to stay away from the polls, and they can pocket the spoils. The game has been to pump a few hundred million a year into the Karl Rove/Grover Norquist/conservative movement con game and pull out billions in tax breaks, subsidies, wars-for-profit, grants of monopoly and the other fruits of the lobbying/corruption game.
This time it didn’t work.

The Era Of Division Is Over

Today TPM’s Josh Marshall wrote about the Nixon years, when Pat Buchanan prepared a strategy memo titled “Dividing the Democrats,” advising Republicans to “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have by far the larger half.” They’ve played it out that way in the decades since, usually with great success. Marshall notes, “But now, in this election, you see the Republican party still cutting the country in half but now having the smaller part.”
This time it didn’t work, and won’t work again. Businesspeople and investors are practical and pragmatic. They don’t like to pour money down a rathole. The conservative movement con game has turned into a freakshow, and the money it sucks up has nearly stopped paying off. They still have the House — largely the result of gerrymandering Congressional districts and not by the preference of the people. So the game is ending.
Division didn’t work. Absorb that — the implications are vast. The professionals who look at the electorate and figure out how to manipulate us into giving them tax cuts and free reign are certainly absorbing this. The billionaires and corporations are not going to pump more hundreds of millions — billions, in fact — into the same old politics of division because they understand that now it is a bad investment. The demographics have passed them by. It didn’t work. They don’t get the big payoff. They aren’t likely to play the game again.
Dividing us didn’t work, and won’t work again. This is a center-left nation. The “brown people,” gays, poor and working class, single women, union members, combined with people in other demographic groups who “get it” — We, the People — are together enough and strong enough to fight back, so it didn’t work.

Fiscal Cliff — The Next Fight

Now we face another DC elite manipulation designed to shovel even more favors to the wealthy and their corporations. It is called the “Fiscal Cliff” fight.
This is what is going on: Very soon the Bush tax cuts expire. And then the “sequestration” budget cuts — the result of the “debt ceiling” hostage-taking fight — begin to slowly kick in. Some of these cuts, like cutting the huge, vast, bloated military budget, are good, and others will hurt as they are phased in. But this is not an emergency, they phase in and can be changed.
In typical “shock doctrine” fashion, the end of the tax cuts and the beginning of the budget cuts are being cast as a “fiscal cliff” that will destroy the economy. A “grand bargain” is proposed to head off the military cuts, cut Social Security and Medicare, and cut tax rates for the wealthy and corporations.
The negotiations for the Grand Bargain take place soon, after the election and between elites, so that democracy is kept at bay. Democracy is messy and gets in the way of the things the elites want. But this view is just wrong.
The Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand anti-democracy belief that the public consists of “takers” is just wrong. Our prosperity comes up from the people. We, the People invested in good schools, infrastructure, public structures like our system of laws and courts and universities and libraries and scientific research and we demanded good wages and worker protections and that is what brought us prosperity. Democracy brought us our prosperity.
The fruits of democracy – Social Security, Medicare and health care, good wages and benefits, worker rights and worker safety and the rest of the things We, the People get out of the bargain – are not the problem.
Repeat: the fruits of democracy are not the problem.
And democracy is not the problem. Democracy is what brings the prosperity. A “grand bargain” struck after the election so the bargainers cannot be held accountable is a mistake. It is a corrupt deal and it will hurt our economy.
Let’s stop them. If we stop them again, so soon after we stopped them in the election, they will have to face that this is a bad investment, that the demographics have passed them by, that the public has wised up, that democracy pushes forward.

Now We Move Forward

Democracy has pushed forward. It is not an accident that the economy does best in the periods when our democracy is strongest. It is not an accident that the “regular people” economy has stagnated in the decades since Reagan, when the plutocracts corrupted our democracy.
We are on the road to taking our country back for We, the People. Democracy will push forward.
Just before election day Politico presented the official DC elite view that minorities, single women, etc. are not “real” Americans that count, writing,

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.
A broad mandate this is not.

The elites understood where power rested, and it was not with the people. But that was then, and this is now. What a difference a few days makes.
If minorities, women, gays, working people, elderly, students, clap their hands, does it make a sound in Washington? Does it make a mandate? They think not, we think so. They will find out that it did. Democracy will push forward.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Stopping People From Voting? Seriously, Why Do We Put Up With This For One Minute?

More than 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement and conservatives are still fighting to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting. A 97-year-old in Georgia — who has voted in every single election since she was old enough to vote — is denied her right to vote. Florida is making citizens stand in line 4,5,6 hours to vote. Why are we putting up with this for one minute? Why isn’t our government sending the US Army into these states that are trying to stop “the wrong kind of people” from voting?

This Was Settled!

This country already settled this: you can’t keep people from voting! In the 1950s and 1960s conservatives tried to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting and going to school. As a country we did something about it. We stopped putting up with it and ordered the army to push the conservatives aside and let people into the schools and voting booths.
In 1957 a Republican president sent the US Army into Little Rock to escort nine of “the wrong kind of” students into a school:

President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard after George Wallace blocked the schoolhouse door to prevent “the wrong kind of people” from entering:

Once again conservatives are trying to keep “the wrong kind of people” from fully participating in the rights and privileges that we are all entitled to as citizens. (They really hate the idea that as citizens We, the People are “entitled” to certain things. We all are ENTITLED to share in the fruits of democracy — that is what an “entitlement” is!)

Georgia Blocking Voters

Georgia is one of those states that has found a way to keep lots of “the wrong kind of people” from voting. They have imposed “Voter-ID” laws that are designed to keep lots of the elderly, minorities and students from being able to vote.
For just one example of how this has made it difficult for “the wrong kind of people” to vote, read Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade

Which brings us to the story of 97-year-old Peggy Cobb of Sandy Springs … Peggy has voted in every presidential election since she was eligible, and most if not all others, too. …
She has a Fulton County voter registration card and has voted in every election when she’s been here. Her expired Indiana driver’s license used to be enough ID at the polling booth. No more.

The story describes the obstacles she encountered trying to get the right ID to vote… most people would be forced to give up — which is exactly the intent because she is “the wrong kind of person.”

Florida Blocking Voters

Florida is one state making “the wrong kind of people” wait 4,5,6 hours in line to vote. People who work, the elderly and the simply fed up can’t or won’t do that so they don’t, and that is the intent. Florida cut early voting time in half — because 2008 showed that it made it too easy for “the wrong kind of people to vote” — for the wrong kind of people. The effect is that minorities, students and elderly people find it difficult or impossible to vote. Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post reports, in Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge.

While many Democrats viewed it as a victory when a few offices opened absentee balloting on Sunday, the process is not the same as early voting — and could result in more individuals not having their votes counted.
“Absentee ballots have a much higher rejection rate for minorities and young people, if you look at the Aug. 14 primary,” said Smith.
A major reason there are so many problems at the polls is that last year, Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, meaning all early voters are trying to cast their ballots in a shorter window. …
… Smith said that he and Dartmouth professor Michael Herron found that in 2008, voters 65 or older were much more likely to cast ballots in the first five days of early voting than members of other age groups, alleviating some of the pressure at the polls in the remaining days. Those extra days, however, are gone this year, leading to a compression that the system has been unable to handle.

Other States Blocking Voters

Conservatives in state after state have set up barriers to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting. Pennsylvania conservatives tried to implement a restrictive voter-ID law to keep “the wrwong kind of people” from voting. Several other states have implemented them. Ohio — already famous for putting lots of voting machines in conservative areas and few in the areas where “the wrong kind of people” vote — threw up barrier after barrier to voting including attempts to cut early voting hours.
Now Ohio will even throw out your provisional ballot if you write down that a drivers license was your ID when it was really some other valid ID!!! And the provisional ballot is set up to trick voters into doing that! Groups file emergency motion over last-minute move that could toss Ohio provisional ballots,

Husted’s order requires poll workers to not count provisional ballots where voters make any errors in filling out their provisional ballot and affirmation, including the part of the form detailing what forms of identification they are presenting in order to vote. The problem: Ohio law states that filling out the ID portion of the form is the responsibility of poll workers, not voters.
… Husted changed the voter affirmation form, moving the portion where the ID information is entered above the signature line, despite the fact that by Ohio statute, it is supposed to be below the voter’s signature, in the section of the form to be filled out by a poll worker.

This is just blatantly trying to keep citizens from voting because they are “the wrong kind of people.” We just should not put up with this for even one minute. Why isn’t Husted in jail?

Where Is Our Government?

Conservatives who run several states are trying to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting for “the wrong kind of people.” Where is our Federal government? Why are they allowing this? Why are they not sending the Justice Department to force those states to let people vote? Why are they not sending the US Army into those states that are trying to keep people from voting, so American citizens can vote?
I am getting fed up with accommodating these bigoted conservatives, just because they are backed by billionaires and giant corporations this time around. We are theoretically a country of laws. I mean, unless you’re a banker.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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What’s Up With Ohio Vote-Counting Machines?

This might just be a wild-ass rumor, or it might be something to look into. Apparently new software is being installed on Ohio’s vote counting machines, just before the election and without the testing and approval that is required.
This is not about the voting machines, that is an entirely separate story. This is a new story about the vote counting machines. These machines have a different function, and this is a different company from the one that the Romney associates purchased.
Please read this at Brad Blog, Why Was Uncertified ‘Experimental’ Software Installed on ES&S Tabulation Systems in 39 OH Counties Just Days Before Presidential Election?

… text said to be from a November 1 memo sent from the OH SoS Election Counsel Brandi Laser Seske to a number of state election officials confirming the use of the new, uncertified software on Ohio’s tabulator systems. The memo claims that “its function is to aid in the reporting of results” by converting them “into a format that can be read by the Secretary of State’s election night reporting system.”

“Said to be from” is a warning bell that this might just be a wild-ass rumor right before the election. On the other hand, if they are installing new software in the vote-tabulating machines this is a very big deal. IF they are changing the software in Ohio’s vote-counting machines just before the election, the public needs to know what is going on.
But then it gets interesting:

According to Pam Smith, President of the non-partisan watchdog group VerifiedVoting.org, her organization also sought explanations for the last minute software changes from the Sec. of State’s office.
She tells me that she was told that “the Secretary of State team installed the EXP tool” themselves in the counties that use the ES&S system. “It was not left to the counties to figure out the installation or the configuration.”

So apparently the Ohio Sec State IS confirming that new software is being installed on the machines.
Before going on, this is not a “conspiracy theory” or a charge that vote-rigging is taking place. This is honest questions about some disturbing reports. I and others would like to know what is going on. That does not make us kooks.
Is voting machine company ES&S in Ohio suddenly installing new tabulator software to “improve” the counting that takes place tomorrow, and if so why now, and why without the proper approval process? This is supposed to require the approval of a state board, which has not been given.
Please read this at Huffington Post by Art Levine, >As Ohio Faces Vote-Rigging Lawsuit, Are Dems, Liberals, Election Officials Ready to Safeguard Votes?

Those worries about a rigged election were given new urgency today as The Ohio-based Free Press editor-in-chief Robert Fitrakis, also a Green Party candidate for Congress, announced plans to file a lawsuit later today seeking an immediate injunction against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and the ES&S manufacturer to halt the use of secretly installed, unauthorized “experimental” software in 39 counties’ tabulators in an alleged violation of state election law. His attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, has also referred the case to the Cincinnati FBI for a criminal investigation. Arnebeck says, “It’s a flagrant violation of the law. Before you add new software, you need approval of a state board. They are installing an uncertified, suspect software patch that interfaces between the a county’s vote tabulation equipment and state tabulators.”

Art’s post asked the key question,

As one progressive election protection leader told me privately, “Who is watching the election officials [on voting machines]? That’s a good question. Where are the boots on the ground? We don’t have watchdogs on election officials.”

Here is what I want to pin down:
1) Did Ohio allow this company to install new software on the vote counting machines? It looks like this happened.
2) Will all the votes in Ohio be hand-checked against what the various machines report? And if so will this happen before the election is “official?”
If #2 happens, things are fine. If not we have a serious problem as far as being sure about the election results.
All I want to know is, are enough of the election results double-checked against the PAPER that shows how each voter voted? If they are, then it does not matter about the machines. If they are not — or especially when there is no paper that the voter either marked or checked — then there is obviously a problem and the “results” should not be trusted.
It is essential that every voter demand that their county double-checks the paper against the reported results. This is as simple and basic as checking to be sure the ballot box is empty before you open the polling places.
It is not a “conspiracy theory” to say all you have to do is check the results against the paper.
Finally, please visit No More Stolen Elections

Bravo Governor Christie Of New Jersey

Governor Christie of New Jersey has shown himself to be a true leader, a great governor. From everything I have seen, it appears to be genuine, and he appears to actually care and mean the things he is saying.
Bravo Gov. Christie.
I’m wondering to see how this affects his ideas about government, etc. I suspect it will.

A Fascinating Look At Hurricane Sandy

Wow, watch this! A big-picture look at Sandy, what made it so big, and what it means:

Owen Kelley, a research scientist at NASA Goddard, works with data from the TRMM satellite to image the insides of storms. TRMM looked into the eye of Sandy the day before it made landfall and saw something surprising. Satellites also took snapshots of Sandy. J. Marshall Shepherd, president-elect of the American Meteorological Society and the director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, explains some of Sandy’s unusual features.

MUST See – Not Funny Mitt

Mitt Romney made jokes about global warming. Now we really know they were not funny.
See Forecast the Facts | Tell Mitt Romney: Climate Change Isn’t A Joke

Much of the nation is reeling from Superstorm Sandy. As families rebuild from Sandy’s destruction, our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific, fossil-fueled storm.
When Gov. Mitt Romney made climate change a punch line at the Republican National Convention, he mocked a real threat to the lives of Americans.
We can’t let Mitt get away with his laughing dismissal of the threat of rising seas caused by the carbon polluters who fund his campaign. Share this ad with friends and family to tell Romney: climate change isn’t a joke.

I Am Guest-Hosting Fairness Radio

I am sitting in for Patrick O’Heffernan’s Fairness Radio show through Tueaday. Weekdays at 2pm EST / 11am Pacific time.
You can tune in online at www.cyberstationusa.com or on www.blogtalkradio.com – just click on “Listen Live” (or on your local station in our coverage area.) Call in at 424-675-6806 or email questions live to [email protected] to be read on the air.
The specific Blog Talk Radio link for today is: