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After O.J. Simpson murdered his ex-wife, then killed a witness who happened upon the scene at the wrong time, a theory of innocence developed. He was framed by a conspiracy. The theory had a number of problems.
The conspiracy involved a vast number of police personnel who did not know each other before the crime. Had a single one of many strangers not signed on, jail would have been a possibility for many.
Evidence would have had to have been planted while photographers were doing their jobs. How would an individual officer know what photos had already been taken? A picture that showed evidence that another did not would have put someone in jail.
The risk to career and reputation would have been intense. And for what? To frame an innocent man whose previous encounters with police had been so friendly they left his ex-wife without protection?
The final straw was when O.J. dismissed evidence involving Bruno Magli shoes. He would never wear such "ugly ass" shoes. Photos were eventually found in the archives of the Buffalo Bills football team of Simpson wearing those shoes while covering a game some years before the murder.
I remember thinking that now the Buffalo Bills were in on the let's-frame-conspiracy.
There are actual conspiracies, of course. We knew that well before Watergate changed our vocabulary, putting "gate" at the end of every potential scandal.
Most conspiracy stories that I encounter, at least those involving criminality, dissolve under even cursory examination. How many conspirators does a conspiracy take to succeed? Too many, and the chances of being caught expand like a balloon about to break. What is the penalty if caught? What is the motivation? If the risk outweighs the benefit, it tends to degrade any willingness to participate.
Conspiracy tales need to pass a threshold before we can buy them. A plot by a couple of Russian Muslims to blow up innocent people in Boston is believable. A plot by a majority of American Muslims in some municipality to replace secular law with sharia is not.
The numbers of conspirators needed, the risk of being caught, the penalties, convince me that the first Kennedy assassination was likely not a conspiracy. The Martin Luther King assassination was, at least after the fact, a conspiracy.
The conspiracy theory put forth by Governor Nathan Deal, Republican of Georgia, seems unlikely. It is a theory largely bereft of detail as he tries to explain the high unemployment rate in his state.
It's ironic that in a year in which Republican governors are leading some of the states that are making the most progress, that they almost, without exception, are classified as having a bump in their unemployment rates. Whereas states that are under Democrat governors' control, they are all showing that their unemployment rate has dropped.
Now, I don't know how you account for that. Maybe there is some influence here that we don't know about. But when you say that California is in a better position in terms of unemployment than the state of Georgia, there's just something that just does not ring true.
- Governor Nathan Deal (R-GA), September 18, 2014
The state unemployment rate has jumped way up to 8.1 percent. That's according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in a routine list published on September 19, 2014. That's the highest unemployment rate in the nation. It's higher than Mississippi, which had been the state with the highest rate until they got bumped by Georgia.
It's hard to say just what conspiracy Governor Deal has in mind. He's only pointing out "some influence here that we don't know about." He seems a little indignant about it.
His argument was undermined by his own administration, however. The day before the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published their list, the Georgia state labor department published its own report. It showed the exact same unemployment rate for Georgia, 8.1 percent.
So the conspiracy involves, not just the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but also the state labor department of Georgia. That would be the labor department within Governor Deal's own administration.
This is certainly a wide and ever growing conspiracy with the goal of influencing a couple of routine reports on unemployment. The governor has not yet mentioned the part played by the Buffalo Bills football team.
Slurs are slurs, even if they were commonly used when we were kids. The time of our childhood ought to be gone.
After the Governor and Senator get through the election, Kansas Republicans have nothing to worry about. Unless they do.
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My friend Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post brings us a few more Republican policies that compel him to embrace progressive politics. Jack has a special place in my heart because he posts the most frightening photos of me almost every week. The puppies and I viewed them together last night. My loved one later came home to find the dogs hiding under the bed.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist. He also is also on television a lot, explaining science in terms we can understand. This is outrageous to a strain of conservatism that goes for biblical literalism. Conservatives who deny human impact on climate change join in. Attacks on the scientist who seems to think he knows more about science than the average blogger have a racial tinge. Critics also go after his personal integrity. Tommy Christopher, at the Daily Banter, mentions the consistent patterns in the anti-science narratives but, as usual, his analysis goes deeper than most. He deconstructs the main attack points in detail. Good show, Tommy.
Mad Mike's America brings the news that the United States Air Force will no longer discriminate against atheists in their service oath. As I see it, Christians should be happy about the decision. Over the centuries, we have suffered enough, and afflicted enough, religious based hardship.
The Moderate Voice reports that the NFL is getting some attention from the Department of Defense. The DOD? Turns out there is a reason for the attention, but reports have exaggerated a little. There is no investigation and no review. But DOD spends a lot on advertising, and they do want to monitor the domestic violence situation.
tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors reports the newest goofy news from Cliven Bundy. Seems one of his cows caused serious injury to a motorist. Bundy says it wasn't his responsibility, since the state should have done something about fencing his cows.
James Wigderson, preparing to attend a conservative black tie affair, tries to rent a tuxedo at a clothing warehouse. He finds himself harassed, then sabotaged, by a clerk who disagrees with his politics. Bad show. I don't want to name the outlet, but I can point out that it is a Men's Warehouse.
Amazing what we can learn from Fox News. For example, News Corpse has discovered from Fox & Friends the newest danger our educational system inflicts on America's children. It seems American kids are learning too much.
Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot explains "devolution," the deal that tipped the vote in Scotland. He wonders why the British government didn't adopt the policy ahead of time and avoid the entire crisis.
- Vincent at A wayfarer's notes takes on human happiness. He suggests that happiness is independent of financial status, power, and love. He suggests something more immediate.
The question was about plans that have been offered by politicians ranging from Democratic President Barack Obama to Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to expand an earned-income tax credit for the poor.
Boehner then lamented "this idea that has been born, maybe out of the economy over the last couple years, that you know, I really don't have to work. I don't really want to do this. I think I'd rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our country."
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From Johns Hopkins Magazine:
Johns Hopkins researchers report that a small number of longtime smokers who had failed many attempts to drop the habit did so after a carefully controlled and monitored use of psilocybin—the active hallucinogenic agent in so-called "magic mushrooms"—in the context of a cognitive behavioral therapy treatment program.
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From The Hill:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said he has "a few knuckleheads" in his conference."
As a result, Boehner described his House majority as being a "paper majority."
“On any given day, 16 of my members decide they’re going to go this way, and all the sudden I have nothing,” he said. “You might notice I have a few knuckleheads in my conference.”
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It was a good move, and it was the right thing to do. Dick Armey took the floor of the House of Representatives and apologized to Barney Frank. During an interview, Representative Armey had earlier expressed impatience with Barney Frank.
I like peace and quiet, and I don't have to listen to Barney Fag -- Barney Frank -- haranguing in my ear because I made a few bucks off a book I worked on.
- Dick Armey (R-TX), January 27, 1995
The open secret in those days was that the mispronunciation of Barney Frank's name into an anti-gay slur was a common joke in Republican circles. It was not believable to many that Armey had simply made a slip of the tongue.
Bob Bauman (R-MD) had been a conservative Congressman before he was outed. He had resigned, accused of soliciting sex from a teenager in a gay bar. He reacted to the Armey incident with an experience of his own, during a heated debate against Maryland Democrat Parren Mitchell.
As our exchange became heated, I referred to him as "the gentleman from Africa."
Mr. Mitchell, an African American, instantly and rightfully objected. I withdrew my remarks with the lame excuse that in the passion of debate I regrettably had abbreviated my intended description of him as "the chairman of the African affairs subcommittee."
Of course the Congressional Record was doctored to excise my racial slur.
- Robert Bauman (R-MD), February 07, 1995
Barney Frank listened to a tape of the remarks and concluded that Armey had misspoken, but did not entirely let him off the hook. Dick Armey, he suggested, had heard the phrase so often in the clubby atmosphere of Republican backrooms, the phrase had come to him from the constant repetition around him. "I don't think it was on the tip of his tongue, but I do believe it was in the back of his mind." He added this: the remark was a reflection, showing "a climate of meanness and intolerance with the Republicans.
It is sometimes said that comedy comes from pain. I could be wrong in thinking that Barney Frank spoke with a weariness that came from too many slurs in too many casual encounters with those who despised him for his very existence. 17 years later, he spoke to the graduating class at Harvard University. He spoke about his support for adding sexual orientation to hate crime legislation. A few Republicans had protested that the law would curb their freedom to repeat anti-gay slurs.
I said, "Let me be clear." I was, at that time, Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. "If this bill passes tomorrow, it will still be entirely legal to call me a fag. I just wouldn't recommend it if you're in the banking business."
- Barney Frank (D-MA), May 23, 2012
I was thinking of Barney Frank as I read about Russell Pearce, the vice chairman of the Republican Party in Arizona. He resigned from that post after he proposed that any woman on welfare should be sterilized. He eventually explained that the proposal was only a misstatement. On his radio show, he has called for the return of a search-and-deport program temporarily launched 60 years ago.
In those days, immigrants were viewed with disdain, although not with the same sort of disrespect as gay people. Still, derogatory terms were fairly routine. The program that Mr. Pearce endorsed was called by a term that Pearce defends to this day, along with the program itself.
Caller: It was called Operation Wetback.
Pearce: Yes, yes it was. It wasn't derogatory and it wasn't meant to be derogatory. It was a term that was pretty commonly used back then.
- Russell Pearce Show, June 7, 2014
This is the sort of thing that surfaces about every other week from regionally prominent Republicans. It represents a large proportion of a shrinking party.
Referring to people as anything other than human, with human feelings, with human worth, is wrong. It is wrong when the target is black, or gay, or immigrant. The fact that this was not as widely recognized 60 years ago does not make it any more right.
Such ways of of talking and thinking come from those who are so used to the reinforcement of those of like mind, some political figures imagine the policies they espouse, and the terms they use to describe their own thoughts, will find the same approval from the general public.
...it will still be entirely legal to call me a fag. I just wouldn't recommend it if you're in the banking business.
It will still be entirely legal to call immigrants something less than human. It just isn't recommended if you're in the business of getting elected.
From The New York Times:
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — After eight years of a tax-cutting, free-market government, Sweden was poised on Sunday night to turn toward the center left, as a loose coalition of left-leaning parties won a slim but clear lead in parliamentary elections.
In a violent shock to Sweden’s liberal establishment, however, the far-right Sweden Democrats became the country’s third force in politics, more than doubling their share of the vote to 13 percent and setting the stage to hold the balance of power in a Parliament where the center left will struggle to build a stable majority.
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The Republican candidates gunning for federal office in New Hampshire are all trying to put the Democratic incumbents on defense over the Affordable Care Act, whose New Hampshire rollout has been rocky.
But one of the most avid critics, Second District GOP nominee, Marilinda Garcia, is declining to say how she gets coverage.
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Governor Brownback's radical style of leadership lacks Kansas common sense. It hurts our schools, weakens our financial condition, and it fails to create jobs at the rate of our neighboring states.
- Former Kansas State Senator Wint Winter Jr, July 15, 2014
The insurgent defection of Kansas Republicans from Republican candidates might be dismissed as one more cherry picking exercise that has become the recurring pattern in modern politics. When candidate Reagan campaigned to become President Reagan he was supported by Democrats for Reagan. There were Republicans for Obama.
Kansas is pretty big. The nation is a lot bigger. You can always find a few hundred citizens from the other party who don't like their candidate.
But this was different. These had been Republican office holders. They included three former presidents of the Kansas State Senate, three former Speakers of the Kansas Legislature, two former Lieutenant Governors, and a one time chairman of the Kansas Republican Party. More than a hundred Republican officials in all had joined together.
Governor Sam Brownback is in real trouble.
He isn't the only one. If United States Senator Pat Roberts survives in November, it will be because fellow Republicans contrived to keep the Democratic nominee in the race, as well as a major independent. The Republican Senator might squeak by with a fraction of the vote if the majority who opposes him is divided between two opponents.
The why of Sam Brownback's woes is performance. He applied the Laffer-curve economic theory that has driven Republican policy for a generation. The idea is that revenues to the state will go up as tax rates go down. In Kansas, Governor Brownback cut taxes for the wealthy and tax revenues fell through the floor. So cutbacks in education forced citizens to take another look.
According to Republican opponents, the anger at Brownback does not necessarily come from an overt rejection of conservatism. Wint Winter, the former State Senator who leads Republican opposition to Roberts' election, quotes what he says is frequent reasoning. "We’ve got members saying, ‘I’m joining because Sam Brownback’s a liberal.’"
Liberal? Really? Well, it makes sense if you go back a few decades. Senator Winter explains: "They say, ‘He’s spending more than he’s taking in.’" The failure of the Laffer curve, the foundation of modern conservatism means he's a liberal.
Misguided labeling may make it easier for conservatives to oppose him, but it is the opposition to conservative economics that matters, not the label used to justify the opposition.
The rejection of Senator Roberts comes from another label. Nobody wants to accuse him of extreme conservatism. So a more gentile narrative is presented. He has grown out of touch. After a narrower than expected primary win, Roberts goes to his Virginia residence. Pretty much every Representative and Senator has a place to live near Washington. That's where they work, after all.
Roberts' campaign manager unexpectedly goes to the anti-Roberts narrative. "He went back home for two days or three to rest. I think he’s going to come back here the first of next week."
Well, home is where the heart is.
So why the trouble? It may be a portend of a national trend.
It strikes me that the downward spiral of a shrinking Republican base is the likely culprit. As Republicans at the grassroots level purge conservatives as not sufficiently extreme, Republican policies grow more extreme. As Republican policies and politics grow more extreme, conservatives find a reason to leave, and the cycle starts again.
On the other hand, it is also possible that Republicans are in trouble in this most Republican of Republican states because of some unique convergence of circumstance. So, perhaps they have nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all.
Reserving to the Right People the Right to Vote (4:39) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Voting restrictions will prevent voter fraud. That's what conservatives say. Except when they say what they really mean.
The flawed review of a book about slavery teaches us more than all we could have learned from the textbooks of our past.
Whether a Senator actually resides in the state should not matter. Unless it has to.
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It is hard to tell at first read, but James Wigderson is upset after a judge stopped an investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Seems the controversial governor so closely coordinated his campaign with a big mega-money group, he virtually ran both as a joint operation. And he took steps to keep secret what he was doing. If all that is true, it was in violation of Wisconsin law. James is not upset with the Walker activities, or with the secrecy, or with the decision of the judge to order a stop to the investigation. James is angry that a newspaper thinks the judge is wrong. Seems the newspaper is "interested in curtailing the First Amendment rights of conservatives." Well, James does provide a link, so a determined reader can figure out why he is so incensed.
At The Intersection of Madness and Reality, Mike Caccioppoli argues that Ray Rice would still be in position if a video had not augmented what was already known.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, addresses the lack of female atheists by arguing that the claim is untrue. Not being among them myself, I don't feel qualified to directly participate, except to wonder why it matters.
- Through a film and musicians from the western world, Vincent at A wayfarer's notes finds himself on a slow journey of discovery toward the music of Africa.
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It is needed to prevent voter fraud, that's all.
That's how piling on additional identification requirements on top of existing IDs has been justified. In fact, voter fraud is so rare as to be pretty much a fiction. That is for very good reasons. It's easy to get caught, penalties are harsh, and it doesn't affect elections. Those who want to steal an election always do it well away from voters. Backroom ballot stuffing, changing voting totals when nobody is looking, that's how elections are stolen.
The only actual effect of photo IDs is to make it harder for some folks to vote. Those folks tend to be those who don't have a driver's license. Not surprisingly, that includes people who take the bus to work and don't drive, or who are retired and don't drive, or who are going to college and don't drive. Republicans make it harder to vote for those they think would vote for Democrats.
The efforts to impose a requirement of extra identification on those who don't drive aren't the only steps conservatives have taken. Precincts have been closed and combined, with easily accessible voting places moved farther away from minority areas.
In Ohio, the Republican in charge of statewide voting ordered ballots to be disqualified in those combined voting places if voters are directed by election officials to a wrong voting booth. If an election official tells you to vote in a specific voting booth, and gets it wrong, your vote for President, Governor, Senator, any office, would be thrown away. Fortunately, courts stepped in and told Ohio they could not go that far in keeping voters from having their ballots counted.
In Texas, Republicans have gone to court to argue that is okay to discriminate against Hispanic voters by making it harder for them to vote. That is because, so the argument goes, in their hearts politicians have nothing specifically against Latino voters. They are only motivated against voters who will support Democrats.
Let's dwell on that for another moment. We're not trying to keep minority voters from voting because we don't like minorities. We're trying to keep minority voters from voting because we don't like who they'll vote for.
It is an odd argument, but even that strange premise began to crumble.
Those supporting the right to vote in Texas went after emails and other communications sent over official channels. They said the words of the lawmakers themselves would prove that they had deliberately targeted minority voters because they are minority voters. Republican legislators, who insist they were not targeting minority voters for that reason, have been screaming foul. They insist that letters, memos, and messages about why they are targeting minorities are nobody's business.
Every once in a while, conservatives will slip. They will say out loud, in public, what they they're telling the courts they want to keep private. Here is the reason a prominent officeholder in Georgia agrees in public with what a fellow angry colleague said in private about Sunday voting at a polling place in a shopping mall:
Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise.
- State Senator Fran Millar, (R-GA), September 9, 2014
There you have it. Voting is okay. Keeping polling places open where minority voters shop and worship because those areas are accessible is not okay.
To be fair, Senator Millar later clarified. His comments had nothing to do with race. "I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters."
Voters who are more educated than the voters conservatives don't want to see at election time.
I just addressed the nation about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
Let’s be clear: While this group may call itself the "Islamic State," it is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. Nor is it a "state." It is not recognized by any government, nor by the people it subjugates.
This is nothing but a terrorist organization with no vision or goal other than to slaughter all who stand in its way. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, these terrorists have threatened America and our allies. And the United States will meet this threat with strength and resolve.
Already, our military has conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes over the past month against ISIL targets in Iraq -- strikes that have protected American personnel and facilities, killed hundreds of ISIL fighters, and helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.