Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Conservative Cult of Optimism

It's poisoning not just public education, but issues from pollution to foreign policy.   They really think if you don't call attention to a toxic mess, it will go away - or at least the people complaining about it will go away.  They really think if you just keep proclaiming America is the greatest nation ever, that will make it true.

Rick Perlstein:

But there is an even more crucial factor at play here: American conservatism’s historic addiction to the power of positive thinking.

“It doesn’t emphasize any positive things,” said Jane Robbins, a fellow at something called the American Principles Project. “History class, echoed Julie Williams, the leader of the Jefferson County School Board’s three-member conservative majority, should predominantly concern “present positive aspects of the United States.”

And that, above all, is what pushed conservative buttons the hardest.

The cult of optimism in education is an old impulse on the right. In 1967, the target was the eighth grade text Land of the Free by the esteemed African-American historian John Hope Franklin. Pasadena’s “Land of the Free Committee” said the book’s “negative thought models” would give our children a “guilt complex.”

Acolytes availed themselves of a clause in the Supreme Court’s anti-pornography Miller v. California decision giving municipalities the right to ban expression violating “contemporary community standards”; thus armed, a Ridgefield, Connecticut, school board banned Mike Royko’s biography of Mayor William J. Daley, Boss, explaining that it “portrays politics in an un-American way and we don’t want our kids to know about such things as corrupt politics”—a particularly neat example of the right-wing tendency to confuse patriotism with burying your head in the sand.

Liberals—including those who might not even self-identify as such, since a vision of patriotism that insists on civic self-criticism is indeed ineluctably liberal, just as the conservatives charge—counter with the civic value of history that provides “a full measure of truth about our promises and our problems as Americans” (the president of the California Council of Social Studies, speaking in 1967), asking questions like, “Does that mean we’re going to eliminate slavery from class discussions, because that wasn’t a particularly positive time in our history?” (Jefferson County’s PTA president, just last month).


But the underlying war will continue. Because whistling past the graveyard has become as much a part of the right wing’s political religion as, well, religion.

Which is funny. I thought conservatives were supposed to believe in America. Don’t they believe it’s strong enough to teach our kids how to think like grownups?
That's the conservative weakness liberals can't seem to exploit: the pants-shitting fear of everything and refusal to face facts.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A White Cop Killing an Unarmed Black Man is NEVER An Accident

Fire all white cops.  Do it now.

Black Cat

"Immigration keeps our country young, dynamic, and entrepreneurial."

Not to seem ungrateful, Mr. President, but for most of our history the only immigration requirement was to get any part of your body over the border, and you were a citizen.  That's the only immigration requirement we need.

Full transcript here.

KY Adopts Corporate Slave Labor Policies for State Workers

I don't even know where to fucking begin with this shit. 
First, they're lying about it taking two more months to get a new employee.  Retirees have to give at least two months' notice; obviously the Labor Cabinet decided not to even attempt to hire a replacement, because they have slave labor right there in the building.

Second, are the snow shovelers going to get hazardous duty pay and retirement benefits?  Snow shoveling has killed 8 people in Western New York just this week.

Third, reason the infinite that public employees, like all employees, need strong, independent unions to prevent shit like this from happening.

From the Herald:
It's not in their job descriptions, but several state Labor Cabinet office employees were in line this week to be drafted to shovel snow from sidewalks and the parking lot at the cabinet's headquarters this winter.

One came forward to volunteer for the job, but David Smith, president of the Kentucky Association of State Employees,* is still outraged that office workers would be called on for snow-removal duties.

"This gives me great concern," Smith said Thursday. "There are people trained and hired to do such work, not these folks. This is so unfair. Why in the world do they get office employees who are untrained in shoveling snow to do this? It's so ironic that this is happening in the Labor Cabinet."

The cabinet's website says its primary responsibility is "to ensure the equitable and fair treatment of the commonwealth's 1.9 million wage-earning employees."

Five employees — men and women — at the Labor Cabinet who work in office jobs learned Wednesday in an email from cabinet human resources manager Patricia Dempsey that "winter help" was needed.
And fourth, if the Labor Cabinet gets away with this, office workers throughout state government are going to be doing maintenance work for which they are not qualified, trained or physically able to do.

* KASE is not a union, and has no power to collectively bargain, much less to enforce the few employee protections that still exist in Kentucky.

Friday, November 21, 2014

QOTD: The War on Science

Charlie Pierce:

There are some decent liberals who wonder why some of their fellows jump all over every case, no matter how small, when some school board attempts of bootleg creationism -- or Intelligent Design -- are put into the science classes in some very small town. It's because creationism is the index patient for the triumph of the irrational over reason. If, in the face of all scientific evidence, we must Teach The Controversy in high school biology classes, why, in the face of all the available evidence, should we not Teach The Controversy about climate change, or about Liberal Fascism, or about vaccinations, or about Confederate nostalgia,  a self-regulating oil industry, or about supply-side economics, for all that. There is a concerted effort to make room for ignorance in our most serious public debates concerning our most pressing public policy problems. That effort is being made, consciously or otherwise, on behalf of a class of modern plutocrats whose profits depend on muddying the issues, and on injecting irrationality as a paralytic agent in our politics. And, believe me, there's a lot more of this to come.

How to Do "Civil Disobedience" on Immigration

I'm afraid their real plan is to set up sniper nests on the Mexico border to mow down anyone they see, but a TPM reader has a better idea.

Yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn suggested that President Obama's immigration executive order might lead to "civil disobedience", "anarchy", or even political "violence." I asked just what that civil disobedience might look like and TPM Reader FS has an idea of what anti-immigrant forces might have in mind ...
My suggestion for what civil disobedience should look like is to move to Phoenix, trade their imitation Army rifles for shovels, and do a protest march through the residential subdivisions, pulling weeds as they go.
They should march into restaurant kitchens, offering to wash dishes for free. Or volunteer to man the drive through at any of a hundred fast food joints. Maybe ask a California cabbage farmer if they have anything needs harvesting. Those are the jobs illegal immigrants might be taking away.
 Read the whole thing.

Love and Peace

(via christgoldman-deactivated201308)

No, Your Ancestors Did Not Come Here Legally

(Apologies to TPM for stealing their entire post AND its headline, but this is that important, and the best short explanation I've ever read. And you should be reading TPM every day anyway.)

I repeat: unless you are a 100 percent full-blooded Native American, shut the fuck up.
I guarantee you’ll hear the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” in the aftermath of President Obama’s immigration address. It’s almost impossible to find any conversation about immigration—between elected officials, pundits, online commenters—in which at least one participant doesn’t use the phrase. It’s an understandable position, through which the speaker can both defend his or her family history and critique current illegal immigrants who choose to do things differently. It helps deflect charges of hypocrisy (since most Americans are descended from immigrants). It’s hard to argue with. And it’s also, in nearly every case, entirely inaccurate.

Prior to 1875’s Page Act and 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, there were no national immigration laws. None. There were laws related to naturalization and citizenship, to how vessels reported their passengers, to banning the slave trade. Once New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Station opened in 1855, arrivals there reported names and origins before entering the U.S. But for all pre-1875 immigrants, no laws applied to their arrival. They weren’t legal or illegal; they were just immigrants.

Moreover, those two laws and their extensions affected only very specific immigrant communities: suspected prostitutes and criminals (the Page Act); Chinese arrivals (the Exclusion Act); immigrants from a few other Asian nations (the extensions). So if your ancestors came before the 1920s and weren’t prostitutes, criminals, or from one of those Asian nations, they remained unaffected by any laws, and so were still neither legal nor illegal. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but it’s much more; the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” implies that they “chose to follow the law,” yet none of these unaffected immigrants had to make any such choice, nor had any laws to follow.

The 1892 opening of Ellis Island didn’t change these fundamental realities. Ellis arrivals had to wait in line and answer a list of questions, and could be quarantined if they had a communicable disease or were visibly insane. But if they weren’t in those aforementioned few illegal categories, they still weren’t affected by any law, made no choice of how to immigrate. Moreover, many arrivals during this period came not through Ellis but across the borders, which were unpatrolled and open.

Only with the 1920s Quota Acts did Congress establish national immigration laws encompassing most arrivals. But those acts were overtly discriminatory, extending the Exclusion Act’s principles by categorizing arrivals by nationality and drastically limiting certain groups; South Carolina Senator Ellison Smith put it bluntly: “It seems to me the point as to this measure is that the time has arrived when we should shut the door.” Since immigrants had no control over their nationality, it’s difficult to argue that post-1920s arrivals “chose” to immigrate legally or illegally. And since the borders remained largely open and there were multiple entry points, it’s hard to say that any individual arrival was under the quota and thus legal or illegal.

The 1965 Immigration Act ended national quotas, instituting preferences based on less overtly discriminatory categories such as family connections and educational/professional training. Subsequent laws (such as the 1986 IRCA) further adjusted national policy. But as the ubiquitous “my ancestors” phrase proves, current immigration debates aren’t just about present policies—they’re always informed by ideas about history, and specifically about legal and illegal immigration in our past. So it’s vitally important that we begin to use those terms accurately—to recognize that for so many of us, our ancestors were neither legal nor illegal immigrants. That they came in the same way contemporary undocumented immigrants do: by crossing a border.

Ben Railton is an Associate Professor of English at Fitchburg State University and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rand Paul Votes to Let the NSA Take Naked Pictures of You

We have a variation on the old Stupid or Evil question: Does the Tribble-Toupeed One not even realize he is contradicting himself? Or does he think repug primary voters are too stupid to notice all of his weather-vaning and flip-flopping?
Now, yes, yes, unlike most of his Republican colleagues, Paul ostensibly opposed the bill because it wasn’t robust enough. But this makes about as much sense as most heighten-the-contradictions arguments (i.e. none.) This was, to be clear, far from a great bill. But it’s also quite clearly better than anything that’s going to be passed by the next Congress.


McConnell strongly opposed this legislation as doing too much to rein in the NSA, and especially with Udall losing the chances of a better bill emerging next year can be safely estimated at 0%. So Paul’s motives for opposing the legislation are irrelevant; he’s a cat’s paw for the Mukasey/Hayden team when the rubber hits the road, and all the showoff filibusters in the world won’t change the fact that he voted for this one too.

Fire All the White Cops. Do It Now.

No, not Ferguson, MO.  Louisville-fucking-Kentucky. It's just not worth the lawsuits and national embarrassment any more.


Remember, America has a black president, so racism is over.  Especially here in Kentucky.
In a Bullitt County Sheriff’s deputy’s body camera recording obtained by WDRB, Southeast Bullitt County Fire Chief Julius Hatfield can be heard discussing a car accident on I-65 in September. 
Hatfield first goes out of his way to provide assistance to Loren Dicken, who is white.
“You got a jack, ain’t you?” Hatfield asks the driver. “If you show me where them things is at, I’ll get my guys to start changing the tire for you.” 
At first, Dicken turns down the offer, but Hatfield insists, saying, “It will save you a bill.” 
Firefighters working for Hatfield even picked Dicken up from the hospital and took him back to the firehouse, where his car was ready and waiting.
Seems like a nice guy.  Bullitt County is just south of Jefferson County and Louisville, so it's not totally in the boondocks, and I-65 runs north to south through it. It's about a hour and change from here.

Yep, seems like a nice guy, Chief Hatfield.
But Hatfield treats the family of four black motorists completely differently. 
“Well, I’ve got a family of four from Cincinnati, I got to do something with,” the Bullitt County deputy tells Hatfield over the radio. 
“We ain’t taking no n*ggers here,” Hatfield replies, laughing
Instead of offering to help driver Chege Mwangi, the deputy recommends that he call the AAA motor club.
Oh. I see.  Well then.

Remind me not to take 65 down through Bullitt County anymore.

Actually, Bullitt County is just an extension of the all-white suburbs around downtown Louisville.  The ones who spent decades blocking the merger with Louisville.  The ones who torpedoed the school busing agreement that was actually working. The ones black mothers warn their children away from.

The ones that shouldn't get another dime of federal or state tax dollars until they fire all their white cops and hire only non-white ones for the next 100 years.  We'll see how the racist motherfuckers like that.


Lower Gas Tax = No Road Repair

Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.  Five cents less per gallon isn't going to pay for the thousands of dollars you'll spend repairing tire and undercarriage damage from unrepaired roads.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

Kentucky motorists will pay less taxes for gas starting New Year's Day, but the change will mean fewer road improvements, state officials warned Wednesday.

Kentucky's tax on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol motor fuels will drop by 4.3 cents a gallon on Jan. 1, resulting in a loss to the Kentucky Road Fund of about $129 million on an annualized basis, according to the state Transportation Cabinet.

Kentucky's gas tax fluctuates with the average wholesale price of gas, which has dropped in recent months.

"The gas tax accounts for more than half of the revenue in the Kentucky Road Fund," state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a news release. "A loss of revenue is always concerning, but a revenue impact of this magnitude is crippling. It means less money for building, improving, maintaining and repairing our roads, streets and bridges."

A loss of $129 million would amount to about 6 percent of Kentucky's highway funding, which was forecast to collect $2.25 billion in the current fiscal year from all revenue sources, including state and federal motor-fuels taxes and a state usage tax on motor vehicles.
Somalia. That's what the anti-taxers want. A Galtian paradise with no taxes, no government, no infrastructure, just warlords rapiong and killing indiscriminately.

I say ship 'em all to their no-government paradise and let the rest of us get on with funding a government that makes life civilized.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Evolution of Religion

(Source: diaphanousair)

Ed Whitfield Even More Corrupt Than You Thought

I guess if you've gotten away for years pretending to represent Western Kentucky while living in Florida, you think you can get away with anything.

Even ginning up federal legislation to put money in your wife's pocket.

LaserLock Technologies, a firm that sells anti-counterfeiting products, won a powerful congressional ally on Capitol Hill after recruiting a Kentucky congressman’s wife.

Representative Ed Whitfield, a senior Republican lawmaker from western Kentucky, personally submitted company documents on behalf of LaserLock to the congressional record in support of legislation crucial to the firm’s business. Whitfield’s wife, Constance Harriman, a registered lobbyist, has come under scrutiny from Office of Congressional Ethics investigators for unduly influencing Whitfield and his staff for her client, the Humane Society. But new revelations about her role with LaserLock, a company in which she is an investor and where she serves as a board member, reveal that Representative Whitfield may have used his congressional office to boost the fortunes of his wife’s company.

Whitfield’s effort to assist LaserLock is captured on video. A tape of a subcommittee hearing on the morning of April 25, 2013, shows the congressman intervening to endorse LaserLock-backed legislation to create a national standard for tracking the distribution of pharmaceuticals.

Five months prior to Whitfield’s advocacy on behalf of the firm, in November of 2012, LaserLock appointed Constance Harriman, Whitfield’s wife, to its board of directors.
 Yep, I'd say conservatard, repug-voting Western Kentucky got exactly the congressfuck it deserves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rosebud Lakota to XL Pipeline: You. Shall. Not. Pass.

A: They're Lakota, not "Sioux."

B: They're not fucking around.

The Guardian:

A Native American tribe in South Dakota has called a congressional vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline an “act of war” and vowed to close the reservation’s borders if the US government tries to install a pipeline there.

The prospective route for the pipeline, which would connect Canadian tar sands fields to the Gulf coast, runs through the 922,759-acre (1,442 sq mi) Rosebud Sioux reservation in south-central South Dakota. The House of Representatives voted 252-161 on Friday to approve the pipeline.

“I pledge my life to stop these people from harming our children and our grandchildren and our way of life and our culture and our religion here,” the tribe president, Cyril Scott, said on Monday. He represents one of nine tribal governments in the state.

Scott said he will close the reservation’s borders if the government goes through with the deal, which is scheduled to come up for a Senate vote on Tuesday.

Scott said the creation of the pipeline would violate the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, an agreement between the Sioux and the US government allocating parts of the Dakota territory to the Sioux. He also said he has not been consulted by the US government or TransCanada, the Canadian company behind the 1,700-mile pipeline.

“Did I declare war on our government? No I did not,” said Scott. “Did I declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline? Hell yeah I did.”


Because We Always Let Our War Criminals Skate

When was the last time America even tried to prosecute our own war criminals?  J. Edgar Hoover died in his bed. Henry Kissinger still walks free and dares to give advice on foreign affairs. Jamie Dimon is still committing the crimes that brought the global economy to its knees.  Exxon-Mobil and BP keep turning the planet into a hellscape that will destroy human civilization. 

And bloody-handed SmirkyDarth goes on book signings.

The Rude Pundit:

Why are we doing this? Why is Bush allowed to go anywhere without crowds pelting his car with shit and rotten tomatoes and eggs? Why aren't there riots at his book signings, demanding his arrest for crimes against humanity? Why hasn't he been run so far out of any town that he has to live in an underground bunker so that the angry masses don't tear him limb from limb? Are we that brain-damaged a nation that we've forgotten? Are we that delusional that we can't just say, endlessly, "Shut the fuck up," and mean that we never want to hear from him again until we all jubilantly join hands and do a crazy jig on his grave?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Meteor Shower 6 a.m. Don't Miss It

With our usual clouds in Kentucky, we don't get a good view of this stuff very often, so take advantage of a clear, dark, and extremely fucking cold pre-dawn.

Late night November 17 until dawn November 18, 2014, the Leonids
Radiating from the constellation Leo the Lion, the famous Leonid meteor shower has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history – at least one in living memory, 1966 – with rates as high as thousands of meteors per minute during a span of 15 minutes on the morning of November 17, 1966. Indeed, on that beautiful night in 1966, the meteors did, briefly, fall like rain. Some who witnessed the 1966 Leonid meteor storm said they felt as if they needed to grip the ground, so strong was the impression of Earth plowing along through space, fording the meteoroid stream. The meteors, after all, were all streaming from a single point in the sky – the radiant point – in this case in the constellation Leo the Lion. Leonid meteor storms sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years, but the Leonids around the turn of the century – while wonderful for many observers – did not match the shower of 1966. And, in most years, the Lion whimpers rather than roars, producing a maximum of perhaps 10-15 meteors per hour on a dark night. Like many meteor showers, the Leonids ordinarily pick up steam after midnight and display the greatest meteor numbers just before dawn. In 2014, the waning crescent moon shouldn’t too greatly interfere with this year’s Leonid meteor shower. The peak morning will probably be November 18 – but try November 17, too.

"Shortly before dawn" means shortly before 7 a.m. here in Central Kentucky, so I'm going to be outside in the freaking minus 4 freaking degrees below freaking zero windchill because I am a science geek. With a death-by-pneumonia wish.


(Source: darthgnarface)