Monday, July 6, 2015

Denying Slavery Is the Problem

James W. Loewn has been de-bunking the myths of American History since his terrific book Lies My Teacher Told Me.

In the Washington Post, he turned his talents to explaining how maintaining monuments to traitors in defense of slavery hurts the nation.

The Confederates won with the pen (and the noose) what they could not win on the battlefield: the cause of white supremacy and the dominant understanding of what the war was all about. We are still digging ourselves out from under the misinformation that they spread, which has manifested in both our history books and our public monuments.

Take Kentucky. Kentucky’s legislature voted not to secede, and early in the war, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston ventured through the western part of the state and found “no enthusiasm as we imagined and hoped but hostility … in Kentucky.” Eventually, 90,000 Kentuckians would fight for the United States, while 35,000 fought for the Confederate States. Nevertheless, according to historian Thomas Clark, the state now has 72 Confederate monuments and only two Union ones.


The politics behind the Confederate flag controversy in South Carolina(1:37)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) announced she supports removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. Here's what you need to know about the history of the flag in the state and what needs to happen to have it removed. 

In addition to winning the battle for public monuments, neo-Confederates also managed to rename the war, calling it “the War Between the States.” Nevermind that while it was going on, no one called it that. Even “Jeopardy!” accepts it.

Perhaps most perniciously, neo-Confederates now claim that the South seceded for states’ rights. When each state left the Union, its leaders made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states’ rights. In its “Declaration Of The Causes Which Impel The State Of Texas To Secede From The Federal Union,” for example, the secession convention of Texas listed the states that had offended them: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. These states had in fact exercised states’ rights by passing laws that interfered with the federal government’s attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Some also no longer let slaveowners “transit” through their states with their slaves. “States’ rights” were what Texas was seceding against. Texas also made clear what it was seceding for: white supremacy.

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

Despite such statements, during and after the Nadir, neo-Confederates put up monuments that flatly lied about the Confederate cause. For example, South Carolina’s monument at Gettysburg, dedicated in 1965, claims to explain why the state seceded: “Abiding faith in the sacredness of states rights provided their creed here.” This tells us nothing about 1863, when abiding opposition to states’ rights as claimed by free states provided South Carolinians’ creed. In 1965, however, its leaders did support states’ rights. Indeed, they were desperately trying to keep the federal government from enforcing school desegregation and civil rights. The one constant was that the leaders of South Carolina in 1860 and 1965 were acting on behalf of white supremacy.


Teaching or implying that the Confederate states seceded for states’ rights is not accurate history. It is white, Confederate-apologist history. It bends — even breaks — the facts of what happened. Like other U.S. history textbooks, “Journey” needs to be de-Confederatized. So does the history test we give to immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens. Item 74 asks, “Name one problem that led to the Civil War.” It then gives three acceptable answers: “slavery, economic reasons, and states’ rights.” If by “economic reasons” it means issues about tariffs and taxes, which most people infer, then two of its three “correct answers” are wrong! No other question on this 100-item test has more than one “right” answer. The reason is not because the history is unclear, but because neo-Confederates still wielded considerable influence in our culture and our Congress until quite recently, when a mass of politicians rushed to declare the Confederate flag unsuitable for display on government grounds.


With our monuments lying about secession, our textbooks obfuscating what the Confederacy was about, and our army honoring its generals, no wonder so many Americans supported the Confederacy until last week. We can literally see the impact Confederate symbols and thinking had on Dylann Roof, but other examples abound. In his mugshot, Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, wore a neo-Confederate T-shirt showing Abraham Lincoln and the words, “Sic semper tyrannis!” When white students in Appleton, Wis., a recovering sundown town that for decades had been “all white” on purpose, had issues with Mexican American students in 1999, they responded by wearing and waving Confederate flags, which they already had at home, at the ready. Across the country, removing slavery from its central role in prompting the Civil War marginalizes African Americans and makes us all stupid.

De-Confederatizing the United States won’t end white supremacy, but it will be a momentous step in that direction.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I'd Love to Think That Americans Trust Atheists More Than Socialists

But the poll is probably just stupid.

In one of the dumber public opinion exercises in recent memory, Gallup has asked a polling question that tests whether Americans would vote for an “otherwise qualified” candidate for president nominated by their own party if she or he had a particular identification, and then listed the following: Catholic; A woman; black; Hispanic; Jewish; Mormon; Gay or Lesbian; An evangelical Christian; Muslim; An atheist; A socialist.

And—shocker!—after mixing one and only one label associated with a political ideology with ten associated with race, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, Gallup discovers “socialist” is the only one which a majority is unwilling to support (though not by much: 50 to 47). Here’s the heavy-handed conclusion from Gallup’s Justin McCarthy:
Independent Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, is the only Jewish candidate in the race. And while a large majority of Americans are willing to vote for a candidate of his faith, Sanders’ self-identification as a socialist could hurt him, as half of Americans say they would not vote for someone with that background
I have a feeling “constitutional conservative” might have done as or more poorly.
Frankly, the most interesting data-point to me was that 26% of Republicans say they’d vote for “a socialist’ if the GOP found an “otherwise qualified” one to nominate. But they wouldn’t, of course, which is one of the things that makes this question stupid.

I’m a big believer in the “more data” theory of politics and of life, and rarely reject any polling data as useless. But this comes pretty close.

Religious Freedom

Divine Irony:

(Source: fuckyeahreligionpigeon)

Homage of Reason

Divine Irony:

↵ Reblogged from sagansense

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Freedom Without Which There Is None

Molly Ivins wrote that the history of the United States is the effort to extend the promise of the Declaration of Independence - that we are all created equal - to everyone the rich, white, privileged Founders left out. Black people and brown people and female people and LGBT people and non-christian people.

It's a fight that's never really done.  Because the rich, white, privileged men in every generation are constantly finding new ways to not just prevent freedom from being extended to those who are left out, but to take freedom away from those who just recently won it.

Thus, once female people got the right to vote and the right to work (though not for equal pay) and the right to support themselves financially, the privileged ones took away the very right to a physical body.

282 forced-birth laws since 2010; 51 just in the last six months.


Well since we're celebrating "liberty" this week-end and all, here's a little reprise of something I've posted before by my friend Debra Cooper about why this matters:

For women ALL Roads to freedom and equality - economic equality and most particularly the ability to avoid poverty START with control of their bodies. If they can't control how they get pregnant and when they will have a child then poverty is the result.

There is theory about something called the Prime Mover - the first action or the first cause. Well for women it IS reproductive rights. It precedes everything. It really is simple. Without the ability to control your own body then you are a slave to everything else.

Frankly sexism, the need to control women's lives by controlling their bodies and the things that arise from it, are endemic to any social structure. It is ever enduring and even when it seems to be quashed it returns in another form. That is the story in the modern era of women's rights. One step forward after a long struggle - suffrage and then a step back. (And no way do I say that women are not complicit in their own subjugation. We are.)

In the epilogue to The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin, he makes a point of saying that the loss of power and control is what the elite and the reactionary fear the most. More than a specific loss itself, they fear the rising volcano of submerged anger and power. And for them it's most acutely felt as a compulsion for control in the "intimate" arena. That is the most vexing and disturbing of all.

It is why they want to control women. And controlling their reproductive lives is the surefire way to control them.

It is why abortion rights are absolutely central to every other kind of freedom.
 Abortion. On. Demand. No questions, no waiting, no charge.  No abortion, no freedom.

"We honor everyone who continually strives to make this country a better, stronger, more inclusive, and more hopeful place."

For once, Mr. President, let's think about the people who have less freedom, less liberty, less to celebrate this Fourth of July.  Black people and brown people, on whom it is now open season. And female people, who no longer have control over their own bodies. They won't have a happy or safe Fourth of July.  Only the rich, white, straight, xian men who oppress them will.

Full transcript here:

Conservatives Lying About Real Objection to Gay Marriage

It's not saving "traditional" marriage when they shrug at divorce.

It's not protecting children when they cover up incest and child molestation.

And it sure as fuck isn't the bibble, which lauds polygamy and concubines.

Nope, it's about what it's always about: controlling women's sex lives.

Amanda Marcotte at TPM:

The tradition that is disappearing is the belief that marriage is a duty, especially for women. As Douthat argues, Americans are rejecting “the old rules, its own hopes of joy and happiness to chase.”

Douthat isn’t wrong on the facts, even if he’s wrong on his assessment of them. It’s true that women in modern society no longer feel like they have to be married to be granted entrance into adult society. Single women living by and supporting themselves is no longer considered scandalous. Marriage is, bit by bit, becoming more about a partnership between equals who choose each other for the purpose of love and happiness. Which means it’s becoming less about giving men control over women’s lives.

In this sense, Douthat isn’t wrong that “support for same-sex marriage and the decline of straight marital norms exist in a kind of feedback loop.” To accept same-sex marriage is to accept this modern idea that marriage is about love and partnership, instead of about dutiful procreation and female submission. Traditional gender roles where husbands rule over wives are disintegrating and that process is definitely helped along by these new laws allowing that marriage doesn’t have to be a gendered institution at all.

But it’s telling that even as Douthat decries the new liberation from traditional marriage, he declines to spell out exactly what parts of traditional marriage he would like to keep. The reader has to figure out what he is for by deducing it from what he is against. He sneers at people who believe marriage is optional, suggesting he wishes it were mandatory. He complains about “thinning family trees,” suggesting he wants people to have more children—and, considering his well-known opposition to legal abortion, he sees force as an acceptable method to get his way on this. He begrudges younger generations who see marriage as “malleable,” suggesting his desire is for a more rigid institution. He grieves that modern Americans reject the “lessons of a long human past,” but leaves it to the reader to remember that the human past is one where women were treated as chattel to be passed from father to husband, legally and socially regarded merely as extensions of their husbands instead of people in their own right.

Reading Douthat, you do get a better idea of why conservatives see same-sex marriage as a threat to traditional marriage. It’s not because straight people won’t want to get married if gays are doing it, too. It’s because it redefines marriage as an institution of love instead of oppression.

But it’s also telling that even though Douthat is willing to get closer to the real argument, he still pulls back from stating it bluntly. That’s because he knows and we all know that this isn’t even really a debate anymore. Liberals and feminists have already won this round. The longing for traditional gender roles and female submission has to be communicated covertly, because blunt statements in favor of it are treated, in mainstream America, like fringe right wing craziness.

Douthat mournfully assumes that people feel this way because they are deluded, arguing that we will all pay for our arrogant desire for love and equality over duty with “greater loneliness for the majority, and stagnation overall.” It’s the same old threat feminists have heard a million times before: Submit to men or die lonely cat ladies. But, as the majority of Americans celebrating the Supreme Court decision over the weekend know, that’s a false choice. We’ve heard the arguments before and we still choose love.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rules for Cops in U.S. States About the Same As In Somalia

Our health care, infrastructure, education, domestic safety from gun violence and social safety net all fall woefully short of standards in civilized countries.  Why should law enforcement be any different? 

And of course, Kentucky falls close to the "Somalia" standard.

Every single US state fails to comply with global standards for police use of lethal force, according to an Amnesty International USA report that was released late last week. Several states allow the use of lethal force in order to "suppress opposition to arrest," to "suppress a riot or mutiny," and even to prevent an escape from prison. In some states, the report notes, deadly force can be used in cases of less serious crimes, like burglary. Only eight states require a verbal warning before law enforcement can start firing. And nine states have no laws dealing with the issue at all. All of which, Amnesty says, is out step with international standards established by the United Nations.


Here’s a passage from the report outlining its key findings:
All 50 states and Washington, D.C. fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.
Nine states and Washington, D.C. have no laws on use of lethal force by law enforcement officers: Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Ohio; South Carolina; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin, Wyoming; and the District of Columbia.
Thirteen states have laws that do not comply even with the lower standards set by US constitutional law on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers: Alabama; California; Delaware; Florida; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; New Jersey; New York; Oregon; Rhode Island; South Dakota; and Vermont.
None of the state statutes require that the use of lethal force may only be used as a last resort with non-violent and less harmful means to be tried first.
No state limits the use of lethal force to only those situations where there is an imminent threat to life or serious injury to the officer or to others.
Nine states allow for the use of lethal force to be used to suppress a riot: Arizona; Delaware; Idaho; Mississippi; Nebraska; Pennsylvania; South Dakota; Vermont and Washington.
Twenty two states allow for law enforcement officers to kill someone trying to escape from a prison or jail: Alabama; Colorado; Delaware; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Indiana; Kentucky; Maine; Mississippi; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; South Dakota and Washington.
Only eight states require that a warning be given (where feasible) before lethal force is used, however no state meets the requirement for a warning under international standards: Connecticut; Florida, Indiana; Nevada; New Mexico; Tennessee; Utah and Washington.
Only three states provide that officers should create no "substantial risk" to bystanders when using lethal force: Delaware; Hawaii and New Jersey.
Twenty states allow for private citizens (non-state actors) to use lethal force if they carry out law enforcement activities, for example assisting an officer in making an arrest: Alabama; Arizona; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Indiana; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Mississippi; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Dakota; Pennsylvania; South Dakota; Texas and Washington.
Only two states provide by statute for training on the use of lethal force: Georgia and Tennessee.
None of the states' "use of lethal force" statutes include accountability mechanisms, including for example the requirement of obligatory reporting for the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officers.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tribble Will Marry Same-Sex Couples in Kentucky

No, not that Tribble.  The Tribble who is County Judge-Executive of ... wait for it ... Christian County in Western Kentucky.

A county-owned wedding chapel where Judge-Executive Steve Tribble has performed marriage ceremonies for more than 20 years will now accept same-sex couples. Calling it one of the hardest decisions he’s ever made, Tribble said he chose to keep the chapel open for everyone.

“I didn’t just flip a coin,” Tribble said. “I’ve poured over this since Friday. I didn’t take it lightly.”

His decision Wednesday followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Friday that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. In his position as judge-executive, Tribble has the authority to perform marriage ceremonies. If he had decided not to perform same-sex marriages, he would have stopped performing marriages altogether.

He said the final decision came down to discrimination and whether denying marriage to same-sex couples falls under that category. He said it does.

“I’ve never discriminated against anyone, whether it be a religion, gender, race — and I’m not going to start now,” he said.
Hey Chris Hayes: How about interviewing this brave Kentucky official before his freakazoid asshole constituents vote him out of office?

Dear KY Freakazoid Assholes: Stay the Fuck Off TV

I'd say embarrassing the state like this should be a crime, but refusing to do your fucking job already is.
A defiant Kentucky clerk says his conscience will not allow him to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
But your conscience will allow you to keep taking the tax dollars of secular and LGBT taxpayers while spitting in their faces and refusing to do your job.
Appearing on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes late Wednesday evening, Casey County Clerk Casey Davis said Gov. Steve Beshear should provide "some sort of relief" for clerks who have moral objections to the Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage.
How about this for relief?  Resign, motherfucker, or report directly to jail.
Davis said when he was first elected five years ago the state law he took an oath to protect said marriage is between one man and one woman.

"I did not take an oath that said I would lay my personal feelings down to do this job nor will I ever do that," Davis said. "As a matter of fact I said I would do this job to the best of my ability, so help me God, and the best of my ability does not go beyond what my conscience will allow me to do."

Davis shared those sentiments with Beshear directly in a June 29 letter to the governor's office. Read the letter here.

He said the governor's order for county clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples is forcing those state elected officials to violate their religious beliefs.

"To me, that puts me in a 'prison' and it puts government on the wrong side of, as our Declaration (of Independence) states, the laws of nature," Davis said in the letter.

Owsley County, which previously indicated it would not issue licenses, has resumed doing so. Meanwhile, the clerk's office in Green County said it will not.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

AynRandy's Friends

The Tribble-Toupeed One is trying to have it both ways again. Shhh - don't anybody tell him that one thing Cliven Bundy does not know about the Negro is that they are way too smart to fall for AynRandy's bullshit.


The senator was among the big names in the GOP who distanced themselves from Bundy last year after the rancher openly wondered whether black people had been "better off slaves" than on government assistance. At the time, Paul called the comments "offensive" and said "I wholeheartedly disagree with him."

But Politico reported on Tuesday that Bundy said he met privately with Paul to talk states’ rights on Monday after an event in Nevada.

Because What KY Elections Need is Corporate Money

Yep, the problem is that Big Coal does not have enough influence over our politicians.

Brad Bowman at the State Journal:

On behalf of a right-to-work nonprofit, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit (last month) against the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance challenging Kentucky’s law prohibiting corporations from making campaign contributions. 

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky Central Division in Frankfort on behalf of Protect My Check, Inc. against the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Chairman Craig Dilger and Executive Director John Steffen.

Jim Manley, lead attorney for the Goldwater Institute, said the group has filed a similar suit on behalf of two companies in Massachusetts.

Kentucky and Massachusetts are two of six states that have laws banning corporations from making contributions to political candidates, parties or committees. The other states include Montana, West Virginia, Minnesota and Iowa. 
The suit and the quotes from the Arizona-based plaintiff are stuffed as full of motherfucking lies as you might expect.  Here's just one corrective: Two corporate billionaires outspend the top 10 unions combined.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Homophobic Freakazoid Clerk Does Right Thing: Resigns

if your religion prevents you from doing your job, you resign or get your ass fired.

Of course not. If she were motivated by hate, she would stay in the position, collecting her salary and thumbing her nose at the gay and atheist taxpayers who pay it.

Like the asshole County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky.  Two years ago, the county seat of Rowan County - Morehead - passed a city-wide fairness ordinance to ban discrimination against LGBT people.  Although the county courthouse in which the County Clerk works is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Morehead, the County Clerk thinks she can defy city and federal law.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis told WKYT, "It is my deep conviction and belief that God ordained marriage between a man and a woman. I can't be a part of this."

WKYT is reporting that dozens of demonstrators showed up to the Rowan County Courthouse Tuesday to protest Kim Davis' decision.
Kim Davis, in the name of the tens of thousands of secular, gay-loving taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I declare that You. Are. Fired.

SCOTUS Still Not Liberal, But DAMN

Or maybe it's a trap, to lure women's advocates into a case that would let the court's conservatards kill Roe once and for all.


The Supreme Court refused on Monday to allow Texas to enforce restrictions that would force 10 abortion clinics to close.

The justices voted 5-4 to grant an emergency appeal from the clinics after a federal appeals court upheld new regulations, refusing to keep them on hold while the clinics appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court order will remain in effect at least until the court decides whether to hear the clinics' appeal of the lower court ruling, not before the fall.

The court's decision to block the regulations is a strong indication that the justices will hear the full appeal, which could be the biggest abortion case at the Supreme Court in nearly 25 years.

Choose, Kentucky: Repug Austerity or Liberal Growth

Matt Bevin wants to make Kentucky another Kansas, starving schools and roads to make billionaires richer.

Jack Conway could offer a different road, the one that taxes the rich and invests in public goods.

Via Undercover Blue at Hullabaloo:
Meanwhile in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton's Democratic leadership led the state to the top of CNBC's list of best states for business in 2015. 
Indeed, the birthplace of Spam, Scotch Tape and the supercomputer marks a new first this year. Never since we began rating the states in 2007 has a high-tax, high-wage, union-friendly state made it to the top of our rankings. But Minnesota does so well in so many other areas—like education and quality of life—that its cost disadvantages fade away. 
 But Jackie Boy is too busy sucking Big Coal's rotting cock.