Code Blue :: Activism

Putin's nominee in Cleveland Email Print

Tonight, as Donald Trump offers his acceptance speech at the Quicken Loans Arena, the delegates and fans celebrating will be blissfully unaware of who else, two continents away, is toasting Trump's rise.

That's Vladimir Putin, along with Russia's propaganda arm RT (Russia Today), a channel shown across cable-and-satellite networks in the US and worldwide, and funded directly from Moscow.

The fawning between Putin and the Donald is public, and mutual.  On Sunday's Meet the Press in December, Trump boasted to Chuck Todd, Putin "called me brilliant. He said very nice things about me. I mean, I accept it."  Then the Republican then-future nominee returned the compliment to President Putin: "He's a strong leader. And I'm not going to be politically correct. He's got an 80% of approval rating done by pollsters .... And it would be very nice if we got along with Russia, Chuck."

The Leningradian Candidate

It goes far beyond mutual admiration. Trump employs and consults with top advisors who hold mysterious ties to Moscow. And Donald and son Donald, Jr. have flown to Russia multiple times trying to launch  mega-hotel projects.

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Clinton wearing Brunei Bling!! (says Trump) Email Print

Associated Press:  "Clinton is not sporting Brunei bling"

TRUMP: 'Hillary Clinton accepted $58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei when she was secretary of state -- plus millions more for her foundation. The sultan of Brunei has pushed oppressive Sharia law.'

"THE FACTS: Clinton is not sporting Brunei bling.

"In September 2012, she accepted a $58,000 jewelry set with gold, sapphire and diamond earrings, a necklace and bracelet, given by the queen of Brunei when Clinton visited for meetings and to inaugurate an English-language training program, according to the Federal Register. The gift was not to her, but to the United States.

"Federal law prohibits officials from keeping such gifts unless they pay the estimated value to the U.S. government. According to the State Department's protocol office, Clinton chose not to buy the jewelry, and instead turned it over to the General Services Administration -- the standard procedure for most gifts from foreign leaders.

"It's true that Brunei is an Islamic nation that observes Sharia law and has been widely criticized for its human rights record, particularly when it comes to gays and lesbians."

But gift exchanges are standard practice. As with almost all gifts to all officials, the Federal Register notice says "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government."

More fact-checking of the accusations here.

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Trump follows Hillary's lead: like her, says now we should consider No fly-No buy Email Print

3 days after the mass shooting in Orlando, now Trump tweets he will go meet with NRA leaders, to see if persons who are too risky to fly should not be allowed to purchase guns.

Reuters has the story.

Is it better late than never, for Donald Trump, Mr. Second Amendment?  So far, Republican members of Congress, including Speaker Paul Ryan, have blocked Democratic efforts to get anything like this done.  Speaker Ryan has literally gaveled the Democratic congressmen out-of-order this week for moving to put this out on the floor of the House.

Two days ago, on Monday, Hillary Clinton and President Obama spoke out on the recent massacre in Orlando, Florida, and pushed for common-sense restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of persons deemed too dangerous to fly.


Tips for voters and new voters - IA and CO have same-day Register-and-vote. Email Print

The reason every vote counts, even yours, is that several races are much tighter than some reporting tells you, so the Senate majority will be at stake. (Today, Chuck Todd said, "Republicans in Iowa are starting to worry". That's because the turnout #s and last week's early voting so far are not reassuring to GOP, as they cannibalized their Election Day voters, just to gin up the EV #s.)  Another state, Alaska also has had mixed polling signals, and has reported EV#s encouraging to Dems, a possible boost in a surprising state.

IOWA polls are open to 9:00.

If you're young or you're old, and not yet registered - note that any Iowa potential voter can register and vote even on Election Day. If you reside in Iowa and are a US citizen you need to select from one of these documents in order to Register:   - a photo ID that is current and contains an expiration date that is either:

  an out-of-state driver's license or non-driver card (for proof of identity),

or an Iowa driver's license,

or student ID from an Iowa high school or Iowa college,

or employer ID card,
US military card,
or US passport.

If the document above does not show your current Iowa address then you can use one of these documents to prove your address in Iowa: cell phone bill or utility bill, residential lease, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document.

If you don't have these documents to demonstrate your identity / residency, another registered voter from your precinct can attest for you.  You and the attester will both sign written oaths to accomplish this.

Polls stay open TIL  9 pm, in IOWA

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Place your Early Vote (or Absentee): NC, GA Email Print

Here are tips to bank your rightful vote in your state.

For NORTH CAROLINA, Early Voting is available through Saturday 11/1, until 1 p.m. at many sites, each county. Check the link to list below [a couple of centers close at noon].

Bank your vote ahead at one of the vote centers in your county – so you don't get caught up in the "precinct shuffle" (disqualifying shenanigans) that can happen on Election Day.

Click to reach the interactive map, and List of early voting sites, with hours.


The printed list is organized by county, and the order is semi-alphabetical, not fully alphabetized. (Some Brunswick and Mecklenburg come lower than Yancy, at the bottom, for example).

During early voting, you can vote at ANY early vote center in your county. This is an advantage: it can be better than on Election Day, where if election officials switch or move your precinct assignment (sometimes there are different precincts at different tables in the same building for voting), they will disqualify your vote for voting in the "wrong precinct".

So I recommend early voting.

1 thing you need to know.

ID:  It's not needed in 2014 in No. Carolina. But poll worker in 2014 will ask about it anyway.

In 2014, the poll worker will ask you for ID, but this year you can say, I didn't bring ID, and you can vote anyway in 2014. This is important!  So know the rules, and the bureaucratic procedure you'll encounter!

= = = =
In Georgia -- Friday was the last day to request an absentee ballot -- at the County Registrar's office -- or to head to an Early vote center to cast an early in-person vote.  For in-person voting or early voting in Georgia, a strict voter photo ID rule applies. Some counties have Early voting open Friday, see list of early voting sites, and hours, here.

To return an absentee ballot to the County Registrar, if you already supplied identifying info when you registered, you generally don't need to supply ID documents again.
[List of County Registrars can be found here].

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Info to Early vote - in GA, NC, COLO - Some locations have Sunday (10/26) voting Email Print

Here are some resources to find availability, and hours, of vote centers to use for early voting, and info about voter ID for:
  • -  North Carolina
  • -  Georgia
  • -  Colorado
N CAROLINA.  As shown in next post, a handy list with interactive map gives the locations by county. (A bunch have Sunday (10/26) early vote centers open.)
 ID in North Carolina will be asked for, but does not need to be shown until the 2016 election, except for some 1st-time voters whose identifying information wasn't verified with registration.

The early voting advantage is this -- you can vote at any center in your county during the early vote period to have your vote counted. Votes will not be disqualified for being "out of precinct."

GEORGIA.  In a few places you can find the locations for early voting. I've found a list here  
[ g-locations ] – with dates and hours for Bibb County, Chatham, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Dougherty, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Muscogee, and Richmond.

The list shows some with Sunday (10/26) early voting, at some of the locations in >> Chatham County, Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, and Richmond.

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Early Vote (now!) in North Carolina. Here's handy county Location list, map and Hours. Email Print

Early voting started Thursday. Bank your vote ahead at one of the vote centers in your county – so you don't get caught up in the "precinct shuffle" (disqualifying shenanigans) that can happen on Election Day.

Click below to see link to interactive map, with hours.


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Chris Christie. The Governor (of the National Pork Producers Council, Iowa) Email Print

Why did Chris Christie veto the agriculture bill to ban the farming practice that confines pregnant sows inside narrow, immobilizing "gestation crates"? Does it owe to Iowa being first-in-the-nation to hold its voting caucus for the Presidential nomination, in 2016? Iowa is the No. 1 hog producing state.

In May, the Des Moines based National Pork Producers Council (NPCC) contacted governor Christie and instructed him to not let the bill become law. The bill to ban the inhumane caging of pregnant sows passed the New Jersey legislature overwhelmingly in the spring, by votes of 60 - 5 in the Assembly and 29 - 4 in the state Senate.


  The 2' x 7' cages for breeding sows are too narrow to permit the animals to turn around freely.  They are widely regarded as inhumane confinement. Supporting the assembly and Senate vote, a survey of New Jerseyans (Mason-Dixie) has 91% in favor of ending the practice, 4% opposed.

Christie vetoed the bill in June. Two months later, he vetoed 3 gun-control measures, one he had first proposed himself — after the lobby group Pro-Gun New Hampshire sent warnings they were watching him on these bills. (More info on the gun vetoes here.)

Increasingly, Christie will govern with an eye to Iowa and New Hampshire, instead of his own state interests.

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House: a Majority in name only. Is John Boehner Speaker in name only (SPINO)? Email Print

Let's face facts. When the votes were counted in November 2012, Democrats running for the House collected 1.7 million more votes than Republicans. For Democratic members, the ballots totaled 60.2 million and for Republican members, 58.5 million. (see link, pdf pg 15)

So it's fair to ask: is John Boehner of Ohio a SPINO, a Speaker in Name only?

The House majority from 2012 was manufactured almost entirely from the gerrymanders rammed through statehouses in 2010 that sent more R's than D's to the Capitol to take seats in the House of Representatives, 234-201.

The House is supposed to be proportional representation. It's not.

Vote counts by party for House of Representatives, 2012

HR result  

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Will Boehner get rid of premium rebates? Email Print

In August, insurers who overbilled subscribers in 2012 refunded $504 million. The rebates are required by law by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

From the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Aug. 5:

Next round of health insurance rebate checks going out

by Christopher Snowbeck

In two years, St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis has received nearly $25,000 in rebates from its health insurance company.

The rebate checks have been so large that they cover nearly all of the cost of the church's feeding ministries, said Sally Cuningham, a lay leader with the church.

"Our Sunday night supper costs us about $8,000 per year -- just for that one feeding," Cuningham said during a news conference Monday at the state Capitol. "And that's just one of the three ministries."

Cuningham joined U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., at the St. Paul news conference timed to coincide with the mailing of rebate checks, which were scheduled to be sent by Aug. 1.

The federal health care law of 2010 created the rebate rule, which requires certain insurance companies to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on patient care and quality improvement. If too much of the premium dollar goes to other things, insurers must issue consumer rebates.

The full list by state is published here at website (pdf page)

The rebates vary by state. Here are some for individual subscribers (not in a group employer plan).

 - In FLA, 300,000 covered individuals get a rebate check averaging $164 per family ($40 million to individual households in Fla.)

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Dec 12, 2012 school attack with knife, 23 assault victims. 23 survived. Email Print

It's time to overcome timidity, the common wisdom and "consensus" seeking lawmakers -- and move to the floor of the Senate all major proposals for gun control. Time to face down the opposition. Senators can recognize what a majority of Americans have now come to realize and accept.

On December 12, 2012, in a primary school in Henan province, China, a 30-year old man carrying a long knife and unfiltered rage inflicted a senseless attack on 22 helpless children and 1 adult at the Chenpeng village school.  That fateful morning 23 victims were stabbed and wounded, and needed hospitalization.

In Henan China, 23 assault victims survived. In Newtown Connecticut, USA,  20 children and 6 adults succumbed to multiple gunshots. And lost their lives.

In the aftermath of the murders in Newtown, a convincing majority of Americans now desire curtailing assault weapons, says a recent poll from Quinnipiac University. In the April 4 poll, 59% favor a "nationwide ban" on the sale of assault weapons, and 36% are opposed.  

Even in GOP-friendly regions, the support holds up.  58% in the West and 60% in the South favor the ban.

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Hide this Presidential poll (Investors Business Daily) Email Print

The IBD-TIPP poll now has an even national race (O +0.7), and reports "Obama holding a slender 46.7% to 46.0% edge over Romney" (Likely voters).

* Obama's slight edge, which has emerged in the last 3 days, has in large part been built on a drop in independent support for Romney

On the front page of Investor's Business Daily:

"IBD/TIPP Poll: Obama Up 0.7 Point For 3rd Day"

It is a turn from what had been a 5-point lead for Romney in the IBD/TIPP poll release three days earlier, and from a 2-point lead for Romney four days earlier.

Yesterday's release of reults for IBD/TIPP was similar:

Day 5: Oct. 13, 2012

Obama: +0.7

Obama 46.4% | Romney 45.7%

In a further sign of a tight presidential race, the results remained unchanged in our most recent sounding of likely voters.

The bounce that took place immediately after Romney's strong performance in the debate with Obama seems to have diminished.

You'll have trouble finding any of the 3 days of poll releases posted at the usual suspect places (the wires, politico, networks etc.).

Here is today's update.

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John Boehner: Repeal THIS. Email Print

Rebate checks to subscribers from insurers

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives stages a dramatic – and pointless – spectacle to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  aka Obamacare.

For the GOP reps, the grounds they've claimed for reversing the law is to hold off costs for patients and keep the feds out of all things health and insurance related. Medicare excepted.

But what if a true repeal actually stopped your insurance carrier from sending a check in the mail to you? Not a future, theoretical check but an immediate, summer/2012 (due August 1) rebate.

For some Americans who hold individual policies, insurance carriers are rebating to 4 million of their subscribers excess premium collected, $390 million worth, required to be refunded Aug. 1.  Across 44 states, the average family refund, if your insurer overbilled, is $152 (sorry Arkansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont - at least in the initial published list, your carriers were efficient enough that your states are out of the running).

There's wide variation across states:  $240 on average for 300,000 subscribers in FLA, $193 for 24,000 in LA, $205 for 99,000 in Michigan, $139 for 181,000 in Missouri, $651 for 15,000 in Mississippi, $203 for 16,000 in Montana, $218 for 26,000 in NC, $267 for 30,000 in Nebraska, $106 for 130,000 in Oklahoma, $360 for 13,000 in OR, $238 for 133,000 in PA, $227 for 105,000 in SC, $356 for 657,000 in TX -- a whopping $134 million for the state of Texas alone.  Also $383 for 10,000 in WV, and $356 for 5,000 in Wyoming.

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How to End Campaign Finance Worries with Internet Voting Email Print

Like the horseless carriage 100 years ago, Internet voting is coming to the USA. Not only is it convenient and green, but security has been proven manageable by e-commerce.

An Internet voting system, rightly organized, can even neutralize the power of Big Money in all US elections. Democracy in the US can be enhanced immensely.  But how would that work?

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A Jobs Recovery - but are lawmakers cutting positions as fast as they can? Email Print

Firms in the private sector have added positions steadily since the spring of 2010, after painful shrinkage in 2008 and 2009.

The numbers, in thousands (000) and seasonally adjusted, are tallied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they show a persistent drag on the economy from repeated reductions in headcount for teachers and public sector union employees.

These are decisions made in statehouses by our elected officials.

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