Poligags :: America's Fix Tank


Mike Huckabee Had A Brain Fart – But We’re Here To Help

Former Arkansas governor and presidential never-gonna-happen Mike Huckabee took to the airwaves in the wake of the Paris terror attack. Although indicating that he knew it was impolitic to be a wing nut bigot and hypocritical Christian publicly, he charged ahead: Muslims leave their worship  “like uncorked animals – throwing rocks and burning cars.”

He is also reported to have said, “I don’t know of any other group of people uniquely that are targeting innocent civilians and committing these acts of mayhem.” Really, Mike?


So you don’t recall an America citizen shooting a member of Congress and several of her constituents…or another fine “patriot” who took out a federal building, the ground floor of which housed a day care center? How about the DC Beltway Snipers who took out random targets of opportunity from a hole in the trunk of their car? Surely you recall the neo-Luddite who sent bombs through the mail as well as the US Army veteran who declared “holy racial war” against Sikhs. How about the American-raised (naturalized) citizen who wreaked havoc at the Boston Marathon? And, as in France, even casual dining isn’t safe in the good ol’ US of A, as evidenced by the San Ysidro McDonald’s episode.

These “acts of mayhem” were all homegrown. So maybe you want to dial down the derision and take a more temperate tone about who is “uncorked”.

(c) 2015 Poligags



When Bernie Promised to #SayHerName #SandraBland

When will your candidate #SayHerName?

“That’s Bernie Sanders,” my sister said, indicating an unpretentious man with a full head of white hair that had slipped past me and tucked himself into a table in the shadowy corner of East Street Cafe, a Thai restaurant in Washington DC’s Union Station.

“Really? Are you sure?” I asked her doubtfully, as I took another bite of my basil chicken across the table from Ms. Geneva Reed-Veal. For better or for worse, he was not a man who had quite the signature look that more polished politicians cultivate; which is probably part of his charm.

IMG_0746 (2)I honestly was not sure if it really was him, but my sister has been working around DC politicians for almost 20 years, so I took her word for it. “Someone should go talk to him. You know he has been saying Sandra Bland’s name for months. Someone should tell him you guys are…

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Larry Lessig is Brilliant – But His “Referendum Candidacy”..?

Lawrence Lessig is an ivy league professor, political activist, and amazing mind. He helped define Internet law and was on the founding board of Creative Commons. He has sought to correct campaign finance inequity through his Mayday (Super) PAC’s influence, helping to elect those who would advance campaign finance reform legislation. Recently, he announced plans to possibly run for the presidency in 2016 as a “referendum candidate”.

Lessig’s Plan

Lessig’s attention is laser focused on fixing the rigged electoral system first, recognizing this fatal flaw as the one from which other national woes originate. Lessig would run for president and his candidacy would be a referendum. If elected, the theory holds, a mandate supporting that referendum will have been achieved.

The Election

The referendum presidency would exist solely to pass the Citizen Equality Act of 2017. Once that goal has been achieved, Lessig would quit and turn the balance of his term over to his VP.

Before any of this can begin, however, Lessig needs to bank $1 million by Labor Day (which will be returned to donors if the threshold isn’t met). He raised $150,000 by the end of the day after he announced.

The Citizen Equality Act of 2017

Lessig proposes – or, more accurately, proposes to propose the Citizen Equality Act of 2017. According to his website, if the million dollar goal is met by Labor Day, he will “crowdsource a process to complete the details of this reform, and turn it into proposed legislation by January 1. In other words, he’s got nothin’ right now.

However, that “nothin’” consists of three fundamental parts:

The Equal Right to Vote – at present, this consists of the Voting Rights Enhancement Act of 2015 (S. 1659), which would amend the Voting Rights Act, and the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015 (HR 12), which amends the National Voter Registration Act.

Equal Representation – achieved through the termination of gerrymandered districting, with the Fair Vote plan serving as the model to achieve equality.

Citizen-funded Elections – it is proposed that some hybrid of the Government by the People Act (HR 20) and a plan floated by Represent.US (which does not appear to have been introduced yet) be drafted.

At present, none of these challenge the concept of corporate personhood or would overturn Citizens United and cases associated with it. To accomplish that requires that either the Supreme Court reverse itself or a constitutional amendment be passed and ratified by the states.

So What’s Wrong With The Plan?

Wrenches in the ‘Works’

The Presidential Bid – Lessig appears to be running as the personification of the referendum he proposes. This country elects presidents, not referenda, with the victor ultimately decided by the Electoral College.

Likewise, he will choose his vice president with a little help from those who “vote” via https://lessigforpresident.com/vote4vp/ There is no means for determining whether those who “vote” via the website are eligible voters, which calls into question the legitimacy of such an “election”. Nevertheless, Lessig’s choice would succeed him upon his stepping down.

The US Constitution says that the President and the Vice President are chosen separately; in practice, however, they are chosen together. In the event that a vice presidential choice fails to receive an Electoral College majority, then the Senate selects the VP. Lessig’s plan appears to be outside of this legal framework.

A National Referendum – A referendum is a right reserved to the people to approve or reject an act of the legislature, or to approve or reject legislation that has been referred to them by a legislature. Referendum power is derived from a state’s constitution; people do not have the right to challenge federal legislation by referendum. Likewise, the Constitution does not provide for a national initiative.

The subject of initiatives and referenda (I&R) is addressed by the I&R Institute, which says “[t]here have been two distinct approaches to obtaining a national I&R process in the United States. One is working through the states and the other is by getting Congress to pass an amendment establishing the initiative process.” In other words, a constitutional amendment proposed, passed and ratified in accordance with Article V of the Constitution would be a prerequisite.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution

Should Lessig’s referendum candidacy be successful, he hopes to be in office for a mere day, have Congress approve his Act, and allow him to step down. Given their record over the years, this single-day scenario is unlikely. So what of the nation’s other business while Lessig waits for his Act to move through both chambers? In an August 19 interview with Rolling Stone, Lessig said he “has to convince the public that, in the case of something extraordinary, they could act as a kind of leader that the nation needs at the time of crisis. That tepid response does little to inspire confidence.

Existing Legislation and Candidates

As noted, the as-yet-written Lessig plan is a patchwork of existing and proposed legislation. One of the declared candidates for president already introduced legislation that would overturn Citizens United; the other bills mentioned above can stand, be amended and pass or fail on their own merits. Lessig, through his Mayday PAC, could advocate for the advancement of any or all of them.

© 2015 Poligags


UPDATE (September 8, 2015) – Lessig achieved his million-dollar goal over the Labor Day weekend, and officially announced.

Are Anti-immigrant Republican Candidates “American Enough”?

It started when then-Senator, Barack Obama first ran for the presidency: the “birther” movement was born. People of this mindset sought to prove that Obama did not meet the constitutional mandate of “natural-born citizen” in order to have him declared ineligible to run. Once elected, however, the focus shifted to removing him from office.

The 2016 campaign started off relatively quietly. Recently, though, in part because immigration is a key issue in the race and because of the expansive field of candidates, the birthers have re-emerged. Some have indicated that FOUR Republican candidates are actually ineligible because they are not, somehow, “American enough”: Cruz, Jindal, Rubio and Santorum.

Where do they get this notion? Our research showed that a significant number of them cite a 1758 text by a Swiss author (Vattel), titled Law of Nations. According to The Free Dictionary’s law dictionary, “[i]t is a system of rules deducible by natural reason from the immutable principles of natural justice, and established by universal consent among the civilized inhabitants of the world”. The birthers believe that it expressly instructs them as to who may become POTUS. This, despite the book having been written before the U.S. became a country.

So who is a citizen? The US Constitution (14th Amendment) says: All persons born…in the United States…are citizens of the United States… This has been further codified in 8 USC § 1401, which says:

The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;

(b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe…

(c) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;

(d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is a national, but not a citizen of the United States;

(e) a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person;

(f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States;

(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years..; and

(h) a person born before noon (Eastern Standard Time) May 24, 1934, outside the limits and jurisdiction of the United States of an alien father and a mother who is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, had resided in the United States.

Some of the candidates themselves would terminate “birthright citizenship” and deport newly-declared non-Americans – nearly all of whom have no connection to or knowledge of the nations to which they do “belong”. But what of people whose ancestry includes members of multiple countries? To which would they be deported? How far back in one’s lineage would we have to go before someone’s family “earned” their citizenship? And which candidates among the Republican field are American enough?

We did some masterful Googling and found the following:

The Winner: Rick Perry

Perry has ancestors on his mother’s side who were members of the Choctaw tribal nation. That’s about as American as you can get. His family has had a presence in Texas since it was Mexican territory. Prior to that, they were in Tennessee.

Pre-colonial Roots – American enough?

Jeb! Bush

John Ellis Bush (J.E.B. – get it?) comes from a family of primarily English and German descent. However, the last traceable European ancestor was one John Bush, who lived from 1593-1670. Bush family members are among those who dwelled in the Plymouth Colony, according to Wikipedia.

Mike Huckabee

Someone went to a lot of trouble to document Mike Huckabee’s ancestry: http://www.wargs.com/political/huckabee.html Members of his family have been on this continent since the 1600s. They migrated to Arkansas in the 1800s.

Rand Paul

Likewise, the Paul family has been on this continent since the 1600s.

Antebellum Period

Ben Carson

Through a PBS series called “African American Lives,” Carson’s lineage was traced back to before the Civil War.

Cara Carleton “Carly” (Sneed) Fiorina

Like the Bush family, Fiorina’s heritage is mainly English and German. She was born in Texas and her traceable family roots date back to the Civil War. In fact, her name came from one of those who died in that war. Although biographies are careful to omit for which side, the Sneeds mostly resided in Texas and Tennessee. See: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=PED&db=nancybesspeyton&id=I1886

Lindsey Graham

While he’s actually been for immigration reform in the past and called other candidates’ positions on the issue “gibberish,” apparently Lindsey doesn’t like birthright citizenship, either. His family have been in the US since at least 1850.

Jim Gilmore

We found it very curious that the former Governor of Virginia has almost nothing that we could find about his family history beyond his parent generation. He appears to be a Virginian through ‘n’ through, though, so we lumped him in this category.

More Recent Arrivals

Chris Christie

Christie’s father is of German, Scottish, and Irish descent. His mother was of Sicilian ancestry. Little is published beyond that much. We’re going to peg him at second generation American.

John Kasich

Kasich’s father was the son of Czech immigrants. His mother was the daughter of Croatian immigrants. So he’s “only” second-generation American.

George Pataki

Pataki’s paternal grandparents were Hungarian and came to the US in the early 1900s. On his mother’s side, his grandfather was Italian-born and married a woman who emigrated from Ireland. Pataki, too, is a second-generation American; when he’s deported, to which country do we send him?

Donald Trump

Trump’s grandfather emigrated to the US in 1885 and became a naturalized US citizen in 1892. His son (Donald’s father) married an English immigrant who gave birth to Donald ten years later. So he is first-generation American on his mother’s side and second-generation on his father’s. And, although he’s made quite a fuss about the immigration topic, three of his children have a Czech-born mother. A fourth child has a Slovenian-born mother.

“Anchor Babies”

Finally, we get to those to whom some might apply the derogatory term “anchor baby”. These would be defined as children born to a non-citizen mother in a country having birthright citizenship.

Rafael “Ted” Cruz

Ted was famously born in Canada of a Cuban father and American mother. Now we ask you to return to 8 USC § 1401(d); whether he is a “natural” citizen of the US is entirely predicated on his mother’s status and residence around the time of his birth. A formal request has been made by birthers for information on this subject. We’ll see how it plays out.

Piyush “Bobby” Jindal

Jindal’s parents were both living in the US – legally, on visas – when little Bobby was born. According to the US Constitution and 8 USC § 1401(a), he is a natural-born citizen, eligible to run for the presidency. Birthers call him an “anchor baby” and further cite that, under the Law of Nations, he and/or his family would necessarily have divided loyalties.

Marco Rubio

Despite his own lack of clarity on the subject, it is well documented that his parents applied for visas to leave Cuba in May 1956. Like Jindal, Rubio would ordinarily be considered a natural-born citizen under the Constitution and 8 USC 1401(a), but some birthers define him as an “anchor baby” with the potential for divided loyalties to a commie country.

Richard John “Rick” Santorum

Santorum’s father arrived in the US from Italy at the age of seven; his mother is of Italian and Irish ancestry. Some birthers take issue, apparently, with his father having been an immigrant; even they, though, admit their case against him is weak. Other birthers have decided he’s “American enough”. http://www.birtherreport.com/2015/01/attorney-rick-santorum-is-article-ii.html

© 2015 Poligags

Beat The 1% At Their Own Game

Guest post by X382163

They control every aspect of your life: when you get up in the morning, what you do during the course of the day, what you eat and how (or whether) foodstuffs are labeled, the commodities you can buy, what media you can take in. In some instances, they tell you who to vote for or even “buy” elections outright. They profit from your labor and impinge on your “off” hours, expecting a reply to their every email, call and text, regardless of how you might be spending “your” time.

They’re the 1%. And they “own” you.
After all: without them, you don’t have an income.

Capitalism goes through cyclical crises every 40 or 50 years. These are often triggered because the avenues for accumulating more wealth cease to be productive enough and the system has to be “restructured” in order to keep the Almighty Dollar coming in. The TTP and TTIP “trade” agreements are evidence of a very typical effort to rein in social welfare programs and re-subordinate labor through deregulation, union-busting and the creation of the “flexible” workforce.

Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich believes that the “flexible economy” or “gig economy” or “share economy” – it’s known by several names – assures a return to sweatshop conditions, because those living it operate in a variable cost sphere while existing in a fixed cost world. While the latter part of that statement is true enough, it doesn’t have to portend a return to the 19th Century.

A recently-released GAO survey demonstrates some confusion who to – and who to not – classify under the heading of “contingent worker”. The GAO surmises that “flexible” workers comprise somewhere between 5 and 33% of the workforce. That’s quite a spread. They also assume that “flexible” workers are under-educated and impoverished as a class.

Yet the “flexible economy” is exactly where we can beat them at their own game.

Freelancers Union and Elance/o-Desk teamed up to conduct their own survey. In the process, they learned that 53 million people – a third of the workforce – were engaged as so-called contingent workers some or all of the time. This segment of the population already contributes an estimated $715 billion to the economy. While fully half of the respondents indicated that lack of a stable income was a concern, technology continues to make freelancing an entirely viable means of earning a living. Groups such as Freelancers Union, The Next System Project, Collaborative Commons and others are springing up to address the need for and to support the members of this burgeoning community.

Uniting 53 million people represents a lot of economic clout. Economic clout is what the 1% understands. Through commoning, co-ops, employee-owned enterprise, commerce can shift from corporate entities to worker-centered businesses. The 1% do not seem to grasp that the very people they disdain and marginalize are the same people who make for and buy from them and elevate them to positions of privilege. By withholding productivity from them, workers can disrupt the existing power dynamic in favor of one in which the profits remain in their hands.

Begin by uniting with and patronizing other independent contractors, consultants, freelancers, co-ops, commons and virtual workers whenever the opportunity rises. A free-to-join and free-to-access directory is being compiled, with the first edition scheduled for release by Independence Day. Celebrate your independence by beating the 1% at their own game.

Dear PayPal – you really blew it this time!

PayPal recently announced that, beginning on July 1, there would be a new Terms of Service going into effect. This is because baby bird is finally leaving the nest and its parent company eBay. They will be entirely separate companies.

New Terms of Service. Yawn, right?

Well, let’s start with the fact that this Terms of Service is 60 pages long! Who needs 60-page Terms of Service? You know at the get-go that there has to be a lot of stuff buried in there that can’t be good for the consumer.

One of those things can be found on page 53 – a point long past which narcoleptics fell asleep with their finger on the “Agree” button:

PP ScreenShot

That’s right. By agreeing, PayPal gets forever rights to your intellectual property posted and tied to a PayPal account. To use if they want, when they want and how they want. You have no say in the matter and (per the paragraph that follows) and you will not receive any compensation or royalties. Oh. And they can resell any or all of it to anyone they want.

And eBay, the separate company? They have the identical language in their Terms of Service, which already went into effect!


When providing us with content or causing content to be posted using our Services, you grant us a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) right to exercise any and all copyright, publicity, trademark and database rights and other intellectual property rights you have in the content, in any media known now or developed in the future. Further, to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law, you waive your moral rights and promise not to assert such rights or any other intellectual property or publicity rights against us, our sublicensees, or our assignees.

You represent and warrant that none of the following infringe any rights mentioned in the preceding paragraph: your provision of content to us, your causing content to be posted using the Services, and use of any such content (including of works derived from it) by us, our users, or others in contract with us that is done in connection with the Services and in compliance with this User Agreement.

We’ll be making some changes. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled before hitting that “Agree” button!

© 2015 Poligags

UPDATE (May 27): Just in case you think we’re being paranoid, check out this article. Some people are turning others’ posts into “art” and selling them for $90,000: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2015/05/25/a-reminder-that-your-instagram-photos-arent-really-yours-someone-else-can-sell-them-for-90000/?postshare=9371432648650700

The “Malling” of America – Mega-Mall Proposed for the Grand Canyon

Teddy Roosevelt ascended to the presidency in 1901 and used his authority to create the U.S. Forest Service and establish 51 federal bird reservations, four national game preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks. He used the 1906 Antiquities Act to establish 18 National Monuments. In total, Roosevelt protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land, proclaiming, “people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

Some people’s ideas of “forever,” “beauty” and “unmarred” are a bit different than Roosevelt intended. A group called Confluence Partners is proposing a mega-mall and theme park (including trams and an IMAX theater) for one of the most iconic sites in the US: the Grand Canyon. Don’t believe us? They have a website detailing the entire plan and explaining their year-long silence while “negotiating” with the Navajo Nation: http://grandcanyonescalade.com/

Of the partners, there are several stand-outs:

You can “just say no” to this ill-conceived plan and those promoting it via a SumOfUs petition: http://action.sumofus.org/a/grand-canyon/?

© 2015 Poligags

The Fight for $15: Legislative Update

There are a few bills in play or being drafted in some state legislatures that aim to address the plight of low-wage workers. As near as we can tell, their main intent is to apply pressure to major employers – those that directly employ a certain number of people within that state who earn less than the strived-for threshold of $15 per hour – to voluntarily adopt paying a living wage.

Across the country, full-time minimum wage earners find themselves having to apply for food stamps and other forms social assistance. Their employers encourage them to; their employers show them how. The public subsidizes these bad players through their taxes.

So, you would think we would welcome an effort in Connecticut that proposes to force employers with 500 or more direct employees and paying less than $15/hour to pay an assessment of $1 per employee as described in the Hartford Courant. The truth is, we’re not so sure about it as it is written.

The Courant did not, in its roughly 1150-word article, mention the bill number. So we did the research. It turns out that there are actually two similar bills – one in each chamber of the state’s General Assembly.

The one mentioned in the article corresponds to SB 1044. If passed, it would apply to employers of 500 or more people, and would impose a tax / fee / fine on every one who is not paid $15 per hour or greater. The money would go straight into the General Fund to be re-distributed to state social service agencies “to support and improve the quality of state-supported consumer-directed services for elderly and disabled persons” and to increase access to “school readiness programs, the child care subsidy program…Head Start, Early Head Start or other programs…” Funds would also be allocated for administering and enforcing the law.

The second piece of legislation is HB 6791. This one would apply to employers of 250 or more direct employs. Like SB 1044, a wage threshold is established, as is an assessment for every person not being paid at or above that rate. Again, the money goes to the state treasury. And, after that, it seems to do nothing other than pay for the program itself!

There is not one word in either of these bills about direct assistance to the affected workers on whose backs these funds would be generated. Elder and child care are certainly worthy social services, but if a low-wage worker has neither elderly relatives nor young children requiring these programs, how are workers’ lives in any way improved by these bills?

© 2015 Poligags

Dear TransCanada: We Have Great Plains Land Narwhals

On April 3, the environment-decimating tar sands oil company, TransCanada, announced that its $12 billion Energy East project was now set to come online in 2020, instead of 2018 as originally planned.

Why? Because their environmentally-conscious, corporate-person heartstrings were tugged at by endangered beluga whales.

Yes, the same people who want to transect the US with their KXL pipeline also plan a nearly 3000-mile tar sands delivery line running from Alberta to the Atlantic. Those plans included marine and tank terminals situated unsettlingly close to the St. Lawrence River, where a population of those dratted-but-undeniably-cute, pipeline-thwarting belugas reside.

Being a bit on the jaded side, we’re more inclined to believe that political opposition in Canada and the requirement for TransCanada to submit a climate impact statement (Energy East may generate around 30 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually) just might have something to do with the decision, too.

And, with their domestic plans on hold, it is possible that TransCanada will again look southward and renew its efforts to build KXL through the US heartland. Perhaps it’s time to convince them that nation’s breadbasket is the habitat of the ultra-rare cousin of the belugas: the Great Plains Land Narwhal.

 photo GP20Land20Narwhal_zps7mnr3jqi.jpg

♪♫ Narwhals, narwhals poking at the pipeline
Causing an explosion, like some kind of land mine ♪♫

(apologies to whoever came up with the original “Narwhals” song)
© 2015 Poligags

Rand Paul – No BS

A number of people are talking about Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree. Those who are concerned may find it equally interesting that Rand Paul did not complete his undergraduate program, either.

Literally no BS (Bachelor of Science) degree:

“Paul attended Baylor University between 1981 and 1984 but never graduated. Yet he was able to attend Duke University Medical School and received a degree there in 1988. At the time, Duke’s medical school did not require students to have a bachelor’s degree…We’re not sure what to make of it, given that…he said his degree was in biology and English. [S]ome well-credentialed readers have emphatically noted that a medical degree is not a degree in biology.”

Washington Post, February 13, 2015

And, as far as his ophthalmology credentialing:

“Rand initially did the right thing and became certified; but when his 10 years were up, he decided he’d had enough and chose not to recertify. Rather, he organized his own certifying program for ophthalmology based right there in his hometown of Bowling Green. He then appointed himself president of the group, which he named the National Board of Ophthalmologists, and better yet, declared his wife (not a doctor) VP and his father-in-law secretary.”

The Daily Beast, June 15, 2010

© 2015 Poligags