White Candidate Wins Houston Election by Misleading Voters into Thinking that He is Black

Dave Wilson ran for a seat on the Houston Community College board without expecting to win. Wilson is a white conservative who ran in a heavily black and liberal district. His opponent, Bruce Austin, had served for 24 years. The results: Wilson won by 26 votes. How he did that is the real story.

Wilson freely admits that he led voters to believe that he was black by not putting his picture on campaign literature. Wilson didn’t even use photos of local residents to support his campaign. Instead, Wilson lifted photos of African-Americans off of websites and placed them on his campaign literature. Austin responded with literature that had Wilson’s picture on it, but that wasn’t enough.

Wilson also misled the voters with a key endorsement. Wilson claimed to have been endorsed by Ron Wilson, a prominent local black politician. Ron Wilson never endorsed Dave, at least not the Texas Ron Wilson. Dave has a cousin in Iowa named Ron. That is who endorsed Dave. The literature referred to Dave and Ron as cousins but voters aren’t going to realize that the Ron endorsing is in Iowa and not the Texas Ron.

Wilson seems to have done this more as a joke than a serious dirty campaign trick. Yet, it still involved political deceit. Nevertheless, this only shows how easy it is to manipulate voters with slick, deceptive and organized campaign tactics. It highlights how the advent of professional campaigns mock democracy. Winning elections is not about being forthright and truthful. It is about deception and image. No wonder good candidates are hard to come by. They are destined to lose to the sleaze balls. Wilson may not be one of those because he did this more out of fun than political trickery, but he has highlighted how modern campaigns aren’t a truthful measure of the popular will when people are easily fooled with a little disinformation.

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Puts an American Flag in Every Jail Cell

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio already plays “God Bless America” and the national anthem for inmates in his Arizona jail every day. He has added to his patriotic theme by installing American flag decals in every jail cell to honor veterans. There is no correlation between patriotic fervor and abiding the law, but if it gives Arpaio a thrill then there’s not a lot that can be done because he is the sheriff.

Arpaio realized that some inmates would not appreciate the image of Old Glory in their cell. He imposed strict punishment for defacing the flag. However, his punishment is over the line. An inmate who defaces it is placed on a diet of bread and water.

Shouldn’t a punishment like that be intended for abuses more serious than scratching or writing on a decal?

The bread and water diet is a bit of a misnomer because it includes the nutraloaf, which is finely chopped ingredients cooked meatloaf style. It does include some vegetables and fruit, but it is heavy on the starches and tastes unpleasant. Inmates hate it. It is also constitutional, but a court ruled that it does constitute punishment and a due process hearing.

Arpaio has been investigated by the feds for civil rights abuses and has many critics because of his unusual prison policies. Of course, he also has many supporters. The irony is that Arpaio wants to emphasize a symbol of the good ol’ US of A while thumbing his nose at the Constitution and rights that the flag is supposed to symbolize. More helpful than putting a flag decal in every cell would be a copy of the Bill of Rights in Arpaio’s office.

Indiana Sen. Coats Argues ENDA Infringes on Religious Freedom of Business Owners

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on his or her sexual preferences or gender identification. For Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, that’s a slap in the face of religious freedom.

“The legislation before us raises very serious concerns regarding religious freedom. The so-called protections from religious liberty in this bill are vaguely defined and do not extend to all organizations that wish to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs in their hiring practices,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) said on the floor Thursday. “For example, the religious beliefs of faith-based child care providers and small business owners would be disregarded under this legislation. Faith-based daycare providers could be forced to hire individuals with views contrary to the faith incorporated values of the daycare providers.”

“Do we want to support policies that discriminate against an employer’s religious beliefs and require employers to hire individuals who contradict their very most deeply held religious beliefs?” Coats said. “This bill also would allow employers to be held liable to workplace environment complaints opening the door to the silencing of employees who express their deeply held beliefs. This possibility runs counter to everything America stands for in the realm of free speech.”

Uh, no. No one is taking away the right of employers to freely express themselves or for their employees to express themselves. There are widely accepted limits to one’s freedom when it comes to the workplace, just as there are widely accepted limits to free speech when it threatens someone’s well-being. A person can’t yell fire in a theater or fire someone based on a protected classes.

If Coats is correct, then religious freedom is being violated all over the country. If not being able discriminate against someone whose “views are contrary” applies to gays and lesbians, then it should apply to the rest of America as well.

Religious employers should be able to discriminate against atheists too. Why not Catholics against Muslims or Muslims against Protestants or Jews against all of them? What about someone who belongs to a fundamentalist sect that believes the role of women is in the home but not the workplace? Embracing those religious beliefs would mean that women could be discriminated against. Racists will only need to create an Aryan religion that forbids contact with non-whites and take a free ride to racial and ethnic discrimination. At least, that is the direction Coats argument leads us.

Fortunately, none of this is going to happen. Society is past the point of accepting blatant discrimination against blacks, women or religious minorities. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite reached that enlightenment when it comes to sexual preference.

As long as people like Coats are in power, convinced that what goes on with other people’s sex lives threatens their religious beliefs, it is going to be a slow journey to change.

Pennsylvania Governor Compares Same-Sex Marriage to Incest

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage. He responded to a reporter’s question about a previous comment that he made that gays and lesbians marrying was as illegal as children marrying in his state.

“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?” Corbett said.

Actually, no. Two unrelated people of the same-sex marrying is not the same as a brother and sister marrying. As a matter of fact, they have absolutely nothing in common except marrying. There are sound biological reasons for not having siblings marry, while opposing same-sex marriages rests only on bigotry. Corbett can’t comprehend that difference.

Republicans More Likely to Believe in Conspiracies than Democrats

Public Policy Polling has released a poll on Americans and conspiracies. While it has some strange results, 32% think the Super Bowl is rigged, there is some hope for common sense. Only 3% think the federal government has conspired with aliens to create technological advances. However, the disconcerting part is when the questions break down into Republicans and Democrats. There are far too many Democrats who believe in some nutty ideas, but that is a fraction of the Republicans’ total. Close to half of Republicans are willing to believe in the worst about some conspiracies, even if there is no evidence to support such foolishness.

PPP’s latest round of conspiracy-theory related questions finds that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to believe various government-related conspiracy theories, similar to results we found on our first round of conspiracy polling last April. Overall, 36% of Americans and 62% of Republicans believe that the Obama Administration is secretly trying to take everyone’s guns away; just 14% of Democrats believe the same. One in four Americans say that President Obama is secretly trying to figure out a way to stay in office beyond 2017 – including almost half of Republicans (44%). And 26% of Americans think that Muslims are covertly implementing Sharia Law in American court systems, while 55% don’t think so and another 19% aren’t sure. There’s a huge partisan breakdown on this one as well – 42% of Republicans fear Sharia Law making its way into America’s courts while just 12% of Democrats agree.

13% believe that the U.S. government engages in so-called “false flag” operations, where the government plans and executes terrorist or mass shooting events and blames those actions on others, 70% disagree. Republicans (21%) are more than twice as likely as Democrats (9%) to believe this theory. 19% say there is a secret society such as Skull and Bones that produces America’s political and financial leaders to serve the wealthy elite. And 17% of voters said they think a group of world bankers are slowly eliminating paper currency to force most banking online – only to cut the power grid so regular citizens can’t access money and are forced into worldwide slavery. Nearly one in three Republicans (27%) believe the electronic currency theory while just 10% of Democrats agree.

Perhaps the heavy tilt by Republicans to believe in the worst is because a Democrat is President. While that might account for some of the difference, there is stuff in PPP’s poll that reveals more than just an ideological disagreement. For example, 42% of Republicans think Sharia law is threatening to overrun America. This is a long-running story with less validity than birtherism. That more than two out of five Republicans believe this may be inspired by the fallacy that Obama is a Muslim. When Bush was President, few believed that Sharia law was just around the corner.

Nevertheless, even if Obama is directly removed from the picture, almost one-third of Republicans believe there is a worldwide currency conspiracy to enslave the world. It’s bad enough that one out of ten Democrats buy into this, but nearly three times as many Republicans are ready to accept it as the truth. It isn’t just Obama making some of these people crazy. They just are crazy.

Congressman Wants to Keep His Paycheck During Government Shutdown to Prove that He is Working

In an interview with Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita, CNN anchor Carol Costello persistently questioned why Rokita was continuing to take his paycheck while the government was shut down and why Obamacare had to be wrapped into the government funding debate. Rokita’s answer: He wants to continue getting a paycheck as a Congressman to show that he is working.

I’m sure the 800,000 federal employees on furlough would like a paycheck too so as to prove they are on the job.

Rokita’s going to have a hard time selling that argument since it is Congress’ responsibility to keep the government operating. When the funds aren’t there, and it has to shut down, it becomes obvious that Congress is not doing its job.

Rokita states that because Obamacare costs money to operate, then it is connected to the running of the government. Yes, he has a point. Yet just about everything costs money. His argument that Obamacare should be pulled out and exclusively debated along with a continuing resolution to fund the government isn’t justified by any uniqueness. Why not yank the farm bill or homeland security funding and tie them to funding the government too?

Rokita goes onto call Obamacare “one of the most insidious laws ever created by man.”

Rokita must have a new bottle of hyperbole that he wants to use. One of the most insidious laws ever? Hitler’s making the Jews wear the Star of David was insidious. How about the anti-civil rights laws that sprouted up in the South after the Civil War that kept African-Americans from fully experiencing their rights as citizens for over a century? The Patriot Act’s encroachment on civil liberties by a creeping police state is insidious as well. And Obamacare is more of a threat to our well-being than just about any other law in the 8,000 years of civilization? Hardly.

If Obamacare is really so horrible, then why aren’t the Republicans allowing it to be fully enacted? It will collapse into itself in inefficiency or so irritate Americans that they will despise it, Obama and the Democrats. The GOP will sweep the Congressional elections in 2014 and the Republicans will take the White House with a Cruz-Bachmann ticket in 2016.

Obamacare would be the best thing to happen to the Republican Party since the Soviet Union collapsed under the Reagan-Bush administrations.

In reality, there is something else going on. The extremists in the GOP are concerned that Obamacare just might be popular, and they will have spent half a decade fighting something that made America healthier and the Democrats stronger.

Towards the end of the interview with Rokita, the Congressman makes an unnecessary and unprofessional remark when he refers to Costello as “beautiful.” It’s a dismissive, almost sexist, remark that tries to take down her criticism of him. Rokita doesn’t say she is smart, but… Nope, he tells her she is beautiful, which has nothing to do with her question-asking ability. It is true that anyone who attains the position of anchor on a network is going to get there partly on looks, but it takes more than that. If it had been a man asking Rokita the questions, he wouldn’t tell that man that he was “handsome.” Therein rests the problem.

“People Are Probably Going To Realize They Can Live With A Lot Less Government Than What They Thought They Needed”

It has been widely accepted that a government shutdown will hurt the Republican Party. A Quinnipiac poll supports that assumption. Americansoppose the shutdown of the government with attempts to defund Obamacare by a 72% to 22% margin. Yet, this is exactly the strategy the Republican Party is using. A CBS/New York Times poll last week reported that Americans would place the blame on the Republican Party over Barack Obama and the Democrats by a 44% to 35% edge. While that is only a 9% difference, the Republican strategy is trounced in the Quinnipiac poll by 50%. All it takes is a little more of the American people adding one plus one to come to an inescapable conclusion.

It appears likely that the longer the shutdown continues and the more people are familiar with the particulars of the roles of both parties in Congress, then the blame on the Republicans is going to grow. So why are the Republicans in Congress pursuing a strategy that looks certain to weaken them politically? That’s because of a disconnect from reality.

Here is Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn explaining that Americans are going to love not having their problems solved by the federal government because they don’t need it anyway.

“I think you may see a partial shutdown for several days,” she said Tuesday on Fox News, “but people are probably going to realize they can live with a lot less government than what they thought they needed.”

People aren’t going to realize they can get along with less government because of a shutdown for a few days or weeks. The people who need to get government business done are not going to be able to do it. They aren’t going to see it the way Blackburn does. The rest of America that doesn’t need to deal with the government in the shutdown is going to hear horror stories from the media and friends who can’t get their bureaucratic problems solved.

The simple fact is that when people are inconvenienced they aren’t happy. When the unhappy people look to point a finger, it is going to point straight at Congressional Republicans who s

Texas Rep. Compares Fighting Obamacare to 9/11 Terrorists

The hyperbole is bad enough in Washington. Yet Texas Rep. John Culberson has decided to crank up the exaggerations and fear another couple of notches. Culberson compared the efforts to defund Obamacare to Flight 93’s famous passenger Todd Beamer when he said, “Let’s roll.”

House Republicans meet during a closed-door session and enthusiastically shouted, “Let’s vote” to the efforts to defund Obamacare. Culberson told the press what happened:

“The whole room: ‘Let’s vote!’ I said, like 9/11, ‘let’s roll!’”

Obamacare is now like 9/11? Culberson is imagining fanatical, deranged Democrats trying to fly Obamacare right into the heartland to destroy the country. It takes great heroes like him to bring that Obamacare threat down. That the government might shut down, leaving essential services unperformed and government workers unpaid doesn’t seem to bother Culberson. It also doesn’t bother him that thousands of military who are putting their lives at risk in Afghanistan aren’t going to get a paycheck either.

There is no comparison between Obamacare and 9/11. In addition, to compare Congressmembers strolling onto the House floor to vote with a hero like Beamer, who gave his life to save other people, is not just ludicrous. It is disrespectful to Beamer’s courage.

What a Sham, Ted Cruz I Am

Colorado Rep. Jared Polis has made one of those perpetual pleas for money that all members of Congress do. Something comes up in the news, and out goes the fundraising email as the politician takes a case either for or against.

Of course, the issue before Congress now is whether the federal government will shut down over the failure of Congress to authorize new funding. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did his famous filibuster with Green Eggs and Ham, and Polis saw an opportunity. Polis’ mother is a poet so he thought that he would give it a try.

What a Sham

I do not like Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham

I do not like it, patriot I am.

I do not like him reading it when government is in a jam

I do not like his fake filibuster scam,

I do not like it when we’re recovering from a flood,

I do not like it when we need help clearing mud,

I do not like it when Obamacare repeal he tries to ram

or says to breast-cancer survivors “Sorry ma’am”

“I will not insure you in a boat,”

“I will not insure you across a moat,”

“I will not insure your child with asthma”

“I will not insure your disorder of plasma”

“No I will not ensure you or your fam,”

“I will not insure them, Ted Cruz I am”

No, I do not like Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham

And shutting down government without giving a damn,

No I do not like it, I do not like it,

I do not like it, patriot I am.

A Very Foolish Situation Developing in New York’s Anti-Corruption Investigations

Corruption is rife in Albany. New York state lawmakers have been carted off in handcuffs on bribery and corruptioncharges. In response, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the forming of a 25-member anti-corruption commission. The commission is headed by Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney, who lost to Schneiderman in the Democratic primary in the attorney general race and is a close ally of Cuomo.

The forming of the commission and appointment of Rice seemed like a proper step to restore some public trust in the shenanigans at the state capitol.

The commission was proceeding when a situation involving Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arose. While it is difficult to find a single fool in this complicated mess, this scenario is ripe for multiple candidates. Before getting into the anti-corruption commission’s work, here is some background information on sexual harassment cases involving Assemblyman Vito Lopez. In attempts to settle the situation, Silver entered the negotiations. From The New York Daily News:

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics — which had been criticized for limiting its probe to allegations of sexual harassment made against Assemblyman Lopez — approved on Monday an expanded investigation that will include Silver’s handling of a $103,000 taxpayer-funded settlement with two victims, sources said.

Following a closed-door meeting of JCOPE’s board, Chairwoman Janet DiFiore announced its unanimous decision to launch a “substantial” probe. She refused to provide details, but a source said the panel would conduct a “sweeping investigation that will go where it leads.”

Silver confirmed the widening probe, and said he welcomes it.

Gov. Cuomo, who threatened to create his own commission with subpoena power to look into the settlement if JCOPE did not, defended Silver against charges he cut a secret deal.

“It wasn’t true and it wasn’t accurate,” Cuomo said on Albany radio, referring to that characterization. “It wasn’t a secret deal. It had a confidentiality (clause), but there was no secret deal by the speaker.”

But Kevin Mintzer, an attorney for two other Lopez accusers, said it’s time for Cuomo to stop defending Silver, who he believes should admit what the Assembly knew about Lopez’s actions.

So Cuomo is defending Silver by declaring that there is nothing “secret” just “confidential.” Either way, the public was not being provided the details on misbehavior by an elected official. This is particularly distressing if it is true that Silver and much of the Assembly knew of Lopez’ behavior. It sounds like confidential is just code for not wanting to embarrass politicians.

The situation surrounding Silver gets more complicated because of some legislation that he pushed through for some rich buddies. Details on that are provided by the New York Daily News too:

The anonymous benefactor who tucked lucrative tax breaks for five major city developers into a housing bill was Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Daily News has learned.

Several sources involved in the process identified Silver as the source of the quintet’s gold.

Bill sponsors and legislative officials speculated and pointed fingers for weeks when asked about the origin of the controversial abatements. One 57th St. building in Manhattan was projected to save $35 million over 10 years.

Once again, there is an attempt to do things under the radar of public attention. Once again, Silver is at the forefront of that attempt. Enter the state’s anti-corruption commission:

The anti-corruption commission appointed by Gov. Cuomo is looking into the matter, having subpoenaed the five developers.

Silver spokesman Michael Whyland wouldn’t confirm or deny Spinola’s account.

“Like any bill involving the city, it was the product of four-way negotiations” with the city, the Assembly, the Senate and the governor’s office, Whyland said.

Nice, once again the Governor and the Speaker are intertwined in a complex deal. There is no evidence that the Governor is responsible for any questionable activities. It is just that he is too close to some of the questionable dealings. To be fair, the Governor and Speaker must work together, but that doesn’t ease reasonable suspicions.

The matter gets worse when details about the anti-corruption commission’s chair, Kathleen Rice, broke recently.

Silver makes around $400,000 a year moonlighting as “counsel” for the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg, prominent trial lawyers. The law firm, its partners and their wives have also given $300,000 to Rice for her political campaigns since 2006. Fortunately, no one else on the anti-corruption commission has taken money from Weitz & Luxenberg.

The problem here is not just one of appearances, but practicality. Rice needs to immediately recuse herself from the Silver investigation. Here connections are extensive. Taking 300K from any political contributor is a problem in itself, but when it is from employers of someone who is being investigated by the recipient of that money, there are red flags as big as the state of New York. Many people are questioning how enthusiastically Rice is going to head an investigation into Silver.

At this point, it is increasingly difficult to believe that a thorough investigation is going to be conducted on Silver or any of the other suspects in the multitude of questionable dealings going on in Albany. All this points to the real problem of politicians investigating politicians. They have a vested interest to sweep things under the rug unless the media keeps the spotlight of public attention on it.

Since corruption is an ongoing problem in New York, the state should look at following California’s lead on its redistricting commission. In California, redistricting became a game in which Republicans and Democrats protected each other’s incumbents with safe districts. The voters created an independent commission that has created multiple competitive races that were lacking for years. Other states need to follow that pattern on redistricting, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to follow that model for anti-corruption commissions as well.

While we can’t target a fool at this point, although Silver is a likely candidate, this is a setting with multiple actors auditioning. All the pieces are together for a whitewash before this is over.