Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rick Scott Chooses Indiana's Most Incompetent Public Official For Florida Schools

His name is Tony Bennett - spelled just like the guy who sings Anything Goes, Rags To Riches and If I Ruled The World.  But the only world that this Tony Bennett rules is Florida's education system.  To explain his journey is to tell you why Florida's Republicans are just a little bit more insane than Indiana's Republicans - and that's really saying something.

Florida's Republicans are gullible, selfish, incompetent or all three simultaneously. Florida is home to Rush Limbaugh, whose trademark has been rather worthless, as it turns out.  Florida's Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor have received nothing but bad press from day one and all the negativity is richly deserved.  Even some Republicans will admit that Rick Scott is the worst Governor that Florida has had since Claude Kirk.

It's important to note that under Rick Scott's leadership, Florida changed the way it selects an Education Commissioner from being an elected position to being an appointed one.  Then, seven months ago, when Scott chose Tony Bennett for the position, the Tampa Bay Times wrote:
"He is a former teacher, principal and local school superintendent, and he sounds passionate about public education. But he will have to be a better communicator in Florida than he was in Indiana."

One of these ways that politicians become "a better communicator" is via Email.  In Bennett's case, he has failed in this regard because he apparently left a trail of digital breadcrumbs leading right up to a huge scandal regarding a charter school that he fostered in Indiana.

Indiana Republicans are old fashioned and as such, they are not very web savvy.  They don't understand the digital age and they certainly don't understand the basic principle that "the internet never forgets".  You would think the party that chose an elephant as its mascot would find that to be a point worth remembering.  But just recently Indiana's new Governor, Mike Pence, came under fire for deleting facebook comments that were not wholly supportive of his office and their politics.

In Bennett's case, the evidence shows that he altered scores for privatized charter schools to make them appear better than their traditional public school counterparts.  Indiana has more religious-based private schools that receive public funding than any other state in the Midwest.  In fact, there is only one state in America that has more religious public schools than Indiana and that's... Florida!  That unto itself is scandalous enough without the added lying, manipulation and propaganda.

According to the Tampa Bay Times yesterday:

The Associated Press first reported this week that as head of Indiana schools last fall Bennett insisted that a charter school founded by a powerful Republican donor receive an A grade instead of a C. Bennett's emails left no doubt about his intentions for Christel House Academy even as his staff questioned whether it would be legal to change the letter grade.

So, what is the Christel House Academy and why is it so important to Bennett that he would lie for it?  It's a privatized charter school that operates with public funds in Indiana.  This is the Republican ideal for education.  It's a way to steal public education funds and use them against the system as it was designed.  By funding charter schools instead of real public schools, they can avoid all the regulations inherent in a public school system.  They can teach religion as scientific fact, they can serve gallons of high fructose corny syrup for lunch and they can hire loosely trained, armed security guards to stand over students with assault rifles if they want to.

The values statement on Christel House Academy's website states that they strive to teach students about "Integrity" above all else... That's a damn shame.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ABC's Exclusive "Zimmerman Rescue Hero" Story Falling Apart

Was George Zimmerman's Heroic Scenario Cooked Up or Staged By A Friend And Supporter In the Seminole Sheriff's Department?

ABC News is getting a really bad reputation lately.  First, they screwed up a bunch of reporting on the Boston Marathon Bombings and didn't run retractions on most of it... Then, they went to press with FAKE emails to support the "Benghazi Scandal" that Republicans cooked up.  Now they may have really out-done themselves.

Everyone in America heard about only TWO news stories over the past couple of days.  The first, understandably, is that the Royal Family has a new member.  Congrats.   The 2nd was that George Zimmerman, a recently freed murderer had heroically saved a family of four from a "fiery auto accident", thereby proving that he's just an honorable man who only wants to do good in the world and is misunderstood.

The latter story is preposterous on the face of it... and anyone who can't see that is blinded by wishful thinking.  But let's look at some things that are coming to light about this incident now that ABC got their mileage out of it.

According to some industrious bloggers with a poorly designed site, the officer who responded to the auto accident that is the subject of this story is named Patrick Rehder who lives in Lake Mary, Florida.   Here's a supposed copy of that incident report (and I say "supposed" only because I have not personally verified it myself):

Now, this is also supported by Patrick Rehder's facebook posts after the incident which look like this:

But the story doesn't end there... No, it can never be that simple, can it?  Patrick has a number of other facebook posts from before the incident took place and it turns out that he's been a very public supporter of George Zimmerman's defense for a long time... Isn't THAT a coincidence?

Here are just a couple of examples:

In fact, MOST of Rehder's facebook posts have been about the trial... So how is it that a member of the same Sheriff's Office which is tasked with guarding Zimmerman, just happens to be same officer who responded to a car accident that Zimmerman just suddenly showed up at to become a hero?  And what are the odds that the same Sheriff's Officer would have 128 friends who are ALSO Zimmerman supporters as well as staunch 2nd Amendment Rights advocates?

Friday, July 19, 2013

3 Well-Known Cases That Defy Zimmerman's Defense

Or "Why The National Review is Always Wrong About Everything"...

The National Review, a popular conservative magazine, has been getting a lot of traction with its recent spate of attacks against Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman trial.  Their articles feature unflattering photos of Corey that portray her as an angry black woman with gritted teeth and flaring nostrils. Their foundation for these attacks, however, appeals to our liberal side...

The NR brings up cases that tug at our heart-strings like the one about the young boy who was tried as an adult.  They also talk about how supposedly nobody likes Corey or gets along with her.  They recruit statements from lawyers like Alan Dershowitz who can't wait to speak ill of her... with such vociferousness that we are left to once again wonder who is the "aggressor" in this sequel to the Zimmerman trial.

But the crux of the National Review's argument against Corey is that she is incompetent and doesn't even know what 2nd Degree Murder is or how to define it.  Ian Tuttle writes: "[2nd Degree Murder] almost never applies to one-on-one encounters. Second-degree murder is the madman who fires indiscriminately into a crowd or unlocks the lions’ cage at the zoo."

That quoted statement is patently false.  The reality is the opposite.  Angela Corey knows this.  The web that NR is weaving is a tangled one but the idea is that whether you think Zimmerman is guilty or innocent, you should blame Angela Corey. Blame her, they say, because she doesn't know how to do her job... supposedly even rising to the level of prosecutorial misconduct.

But the National Review is not the only publication joining in on the Angela Corey hatefest... Certain popular Tea Party bloggers have even taken it upon themselves to doctor up FAKE court documents as some kind of evidence of Corey's supposed wrongdoings.  It's absurd.  It's a racist attempt to blame a black woman for the murder that Zimmerman is so clearly guilty of.

Here are three relatively well known cases of 2nd Degree Murder that are not at all what Ian Tuttle asserts in the National Review with the utmost authority.

1.  Robert Hall is a white man who tried to claim self-defense when he murdered the other white man who was sleeping with his wife.  Like Zimmerman, Hall pursued the person he killed but claimed that he wasn't looking for a fight when his victim doubled back on him.  Here's a photo of him being found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder:

2. Phil Spector's attorneys maneuvered in much the same way Zimmerman's attorneys did.  They tried to refocus the jury on the state of mind of the victim instead of that belonging to the shooter.  Victim blaming is all too common of a practice among defense attorneys and it reached a fever pitch when Spector claimed that the woman he murdered had just inexplicably gone crazy and shot herself with his gun when she arrived at his house.  He was also found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder.

3. Chrishaun "CeCe" McDonald is a black transgender woman who was attacked by a group of straight, white people. They cut deeply across her face with a broken bottle and the lacerations (mainly to the left cheek of her face) were permanently debilitating and severed her salivary gland... When McDonald finally fought back in an effort to save her own life, one man in the group was stabbed to death as a result of that. This is a clear case of self-defense in a hate crime situation but because McDonald did not back down, that is to say, because she "stood her ground" in the situation, she was charged with 2nd Degree Murder as well and currently sits in prison.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

8 Ways that Republicans have Been Acting Like Nazis Lately

In the past few years since President Obama assumed office, Republicans have been getting "more extreme".  The evidence of this is everywhere - from their sudden passion to restrict women's choices, to their outlook on subjects like rape, to their lock-step anti-gay views and blatant racism.  This sudden bent toward fascism is forcing liberal Democrats to repeal "Godwin's Law" left and right... but mostly right.

Here are just a few examples that are pretty hard for anyone to defend:

1) Republican states can't find enough drugs to execute as many prisoners as they want to so now they are considering the use of GAS CHAMBERS.   That's right, we haven't seen gas chambers look like a favorable option for anything in awhile, have we?   Missouri is the state that draws focus here and while their Governor is technically a conservative Democrat, both chambers of their legislature are ruled by the Republican Party.

2) Some Republicans apparently think it's okay to display a Nazi Swastika flag in their front yards as a protest of President Obama.  But lest ye think that it's his clever way of calling Obama a Nazi himself, Joseph Sincavage of Connecticut also proudly flies the Vatican Flag and the Marines Flag right next to the Nazi Swastika, presumably in approval with the former two organizations.   Neighbors say that Sincavage has also flown the confederate rebel flag in years past as a protest against Democrats.  But don't think of this as an isolated incident because a man in Elkhart, Indiana has been doing the exact same thing since the Boston Marathon terrorist attack.

3) There are actual Nazis within the Republican Party too.   Yes, you read that correctly.  The Republican choice to defeat a congressional Democrat in Lyons, IL last year was a 64 year-old man named Arthur Jones and he holds Birthday Parties for Hitler and says "The Holocaust never happened."

4) Republicans have gone to extreme lengths to defend racist killers too.  Just recently, it was discovered that a man named Larry Klayman, a Tea Party activist and Republican blogger, had propagandized the public in an effort to defend George Zimmerman, the murderer who shot an unarmed black teenager in his neighborhood in Florida.  Klayman made up fake court documents alleging that the black female prosecutor in that case had been indicted on criminal charges... She had not.

5) Texas Republicans have tried to infiltrate public education with classes taught by White Supremacy groups.  A recent decision to put a halt to educating children about the Constitution was questioned until it was discovered that those lessons weren't as benign as originally thought. 

6) Sinclair Lewis once famously stated: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."   Nowhere is that more evident now than in Lousiana, where Republican officials are attempting to ban any kind of flag from being waved on public property other than an American flag.  This is, of course in response to complaints about gay rights marchers waving their rainbow flags on courthouse steps and in parks. 

7) It doesn't stop there with the anti-gay sentiments from Republicans.  One Republican-affiliated Pastor with a Christian Church (Pastor Charles Worley of North Carolina) has even suggested "rounding up homosexuals and putting them behind electric fences".  CNN had a field day with this guy, particularly a newly-out Anderson Cooper.  You can watch all that drama by clicking right here

8) Republican legislators are teaching their children to say horrible things.  That might not sound so dramatic unless you consider the circumstances.  Arizona is the only state where a Jewish Female Democrat was shot in the head by an armed attacker with a shaved head who said on YouTube that "Mein Kampf" was his favorite book...  That alone is damning enough for the Copper State, but then Republican Senator Jeff Flake had to go on an apology tour for his son who unleashed a hateful, violent slew of rants against gays, Jewish people and other minority groups on both Twitter and gaming boards.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bachmann Tea Party Activist Fakes Court Documents on Behalf of George Zimmerman

Once again, proving another link between the Tea Party and their racist underpinnings, Larry Klayman, who operates the Republican Tea Party website, has been caught faking a news story about the special prosecutor in the George Zimmerman murder trial...

Larry Klayman is a Tea Party activist who is frequently seen everywhere you see Michele Bachmann.  He is also a racist.   This week, he created a FAKE indictment of Angela Corey by creating a group called "Citizens Grand Jury" and then using that moniker to write up an almost-authentic looking indictment.  Then he posted the faux court document as a news blast on his other website (FreedomWatchUSA) and allowed his conspiratorial followers to believe it was the real thing...