Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bevin Shits Pants Over Order to Treat Trans People As Human Beings

Yeah, Governor Pants-Shitter really is an inexcusable piece of shit.  This press release is nothing but a regurgitation of all the anti-trans lies and fear-mongering.  Shame on him. Again.

Gov. Matt Bevin today joined a lawsuit against yet another Obama Administration regulatory overreach (SIC) that affects Kentucky’s taxpayers (SIC) and violates the medical judgment (SIC) and conscience rights (SIC) of doctors and health care professionals (SIC) across the country.
“The Obama Administration continues its attacks (SIC) on the constitutional rights (SIC) and religious freedoms (SIC) of Kentuckians,” said Gov. Bevin. “It is both appalling (SIC) and illegal (SIC) for the federal government to force (SIC) Kentucky taxpayers to foot the bill for sex-change operations (SIC). That is a ridiculous misuse (SIC) of power by the Obama administration. I intend to fight this type of liberal foolishness (SIC) at every turn and will stand firm (SIC) in protecting the rights (SIC) and values (SIC) of Kentuckians."
Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented a new rule “interpreting” the definition of “sex” (eeeeekkkk! scare quotes!  Everybody run!) within the Affordable Care Act. As the Obama Administration has attempted to do in other instances, this new rule interprets “sex” as a state of mind, not a biological fact. (SIC) When it enacted the law, Congress used the term “sex” as a biological category. (SIC) The Obama Administration is now trying to redefine the law so that the term “sex” means ones’ “internal sense of gender which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” But the President does not have the power to rewrite law. (SIC)
The impact of this new rule on Kentucky and health care workers is significant. (SIC) Not only does the rule require taxpayers to fund all treatments designed to transition to a different sex, it also forces health care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services. (SIC) Under the new rule, a physician who believes that certain treatments are not in a patient’s best medical interests may be in violation of federal law. And a physician who, for religious or conscientious reasons cannot perform a particular procedure, chooses to instead refer a patient to another health care provider may also be determined to be in violation of this new rule.
Kentucky taxpayer dollars will not fund this lawsuit.(SIC)
(SIC) is short for motherfucking liar lying about fucking mothers. Again.

From the Hill:
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, called the lawsuit "a thinly veiled attack on transgender people.
"The ACA rule does not mandate what kind of care doctors can and cannot give," Keisling said. "It bans discrimination. It's there to make sure that transgender people can get the treatment we need without facing harassment - or worse. Over a dozen federal courts have confirmed that the term "sex" in federal non-discrimination laws, including the ACA, applies to gender identity."

Keisling said the regulation not only ensures transition-related care for transgender people, but prohibits medical providers from discriminating against transgender people seeking care for other health issues "from colds to cancer."

"This regulation does not undermine medical judgment," Keisling added. "It simply requires that medical decisions be made based on medicine, not prejudice."
You'll be stunned to learn that the power behind this lawsuit is a bunch of freakazoids who think they're being eaten by lions if anyone dares to deny their babby-jeebus-given "right" to harass, humiliate, fire, attack and even kill LGBT people in the name of their precious "religious freedom."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Turning Kentucky's Proud Universities into Vocational Schools

Shame on you, Eastern. SHAME.  Tell Governor Lying Coward and the austerity-loving motherfuckers in the General Assembly to give you the goddamn money you need to educate Kentuckians to survive in an ever-changing world.

A world that demands critical thinking skills.  Critical thinking skills that can only be learned from a broad liberal arts education.  The kind of liberal arts education that Kentucky governors worked for decades to build in Bowling Green and Morehead and Murray and yes, Richmond. 

The kind of liberal arts education that is a clear and present danger to the repugs who know they appeal only to mouth-breathing, slope-headed, know-nothing morons.

The kind of liberal arts education that must be destroyed.

From the Herald:

Amid statewide budget cuts for the next two years, Eastern Kentucky University is deciding which academic majors and minors should be cut and which need more support. 

French, journalism, theater, horticulture and geography are recommended for suspension in a preliminary report by the Academic Budget Review Subcommittee of majors and minors that have had fewer students in recent years.


On the other hand, physics made the probationary list, with an average of just seven majors in eight years. But, “as a STEM discipline, the program should be supported,”
HA!  STEM, of course.  Only tech geeks will receive an education; everyone else will be indoctrinated into obeying their corporate overlords without question.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Feds Finally Admit: Privatization is the WORST

This decision addresses only privately-run federal prisons, but the issue is of course far, far bigger.  The problem with private prisons is not the prison part, it's the private part.

Giving tax dollars to for-profit companies to provide public services is worse that a mere horrific  waste of money and an even more horrific abuse of helpless citizens.  It's worse than incompetent, worse than counter-productive, worse than sabotaging the very idea of public services provided by public employees at public expense.

Privatization - which in most cases is invisible to the public - gives people the precisely wrong idea that government does not work and should be run like a business.

It's private companies making a profit off of the Common Wealth that always fails.

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”
“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote…
The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical report concluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report.
TPM took a deep look at private prisons here as part of a series on privatized government in general. 

And that's where this prison story needs to lead: the millions of government contracts worth tens of billions of tax dollars given to private companies to do everything from janitorial work to running schools to nursing patients to undermining public safety as cops and firefighters.

Only government can provide public services, because only government is accountable to the public.

Now that we have proof that private contracts always cost more than public employees and always fail to provide adequate services, it's time to put an end to companies sucking off the taxpayer tit.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Parents Warned: Ark Park "Promotes Obliteration of Human Beings"

An article in New Scientist magazine recently cautioned parents and schools not to allow children to visit a Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky, citing scientific errors and an underlying message that praises the “obliteration of humans.”
In a column published by New Scientist last week, evolutionary biologist Josh Rosenau of the U.S. National Center for Science Education explained that parents should look beyond the Ark Encounter’s petting zoo when deciding whether to allow children to attend.
“It is, in fact, a hard-core creationist extravaganza replete with pseudoscience. It is no place for field trips,” Rosenau wrote. “Perhaps because of disappointing visitor numbers so far, it is offering reduced rates – $1 a student and free tickets for accompanying teachers – to tempt schoolchildren through its doors. Schools and parents should know that a visit wouldn’t educate or entertain, it would misinform and browbeat.”
In addition to the constitutional prohibition against government promoting religion, Rosenau observed that the park’s message to students would undermine their education.
“[E]verything in the park is designed to promote scientifically impossible ideas that contradict everything that scientists know. From astrophysics to zookeeping, the visitor is deluged with misinformation,” he said. “It may be impossible to find a single sign in the park that is free of scientific errors.”
But it was the Ark Encounter’s “subtler form of indoctrination” that really disturbed the evolutionary biologist.
“The relentless message to visitors is that our world is as fallen and wicked as Noah’s, and that the destruction of the flood – including the obliteration of all humans other than a virtuous few – was not just acceptable but praiseworthy,” Rosenau lamented. “Under the pretence of illustrating a beloved tale shared by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, Ark Encounter presents a message as socially divisive as it is scientifically inaccurate, instilling fear, hatred and hopelessness.”
“Those are lessons no school or parent should want their students or children to take on board.”

Arguing With Reason

To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.

Thomas Paine
(via moralanarchism)

Your Feelings Are Irrelevant

Via Divine Irony:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fuck Off, Hillary-Loving Repugs

Like I been sayin' for years now: no repug is ever, ever, EVER going to vote for a Democratic candidate.
The second Clinton is inaugurated, impeachment proceedings will begin because that's what these GOP fuckers do. And every single one of them will run like baby rats back to their rat mother's teats and join the party in condemning Clinton for whatever made up shit they crap out this time. Their support of Clinton is just fucking cover so that they can say they turned away from Trump when he finally melts down and starts calling for death squads (which, again, would make Negroponte fucking hard).

If I were Clinton, I'd demand that each of these assholes scrambling to get away from Trump join the Democratic Party. Don't make it easy on this scum. Tell them they need abandon their party or tell them to go to hell with Trump. Leave the GOP to the extremists and the racists and the nutzoids. You know climate change is real. You know gun laws need to be passed. You fucking know that the tax laws are tilted radically towards the wealthy. You know that LGBT issues are done. You know that unless you get down and dirty with the fundamentalists and nationalists and the remnants of the Tea Party, you will be primaried. So fuck you and your support. Show you mean it. Then we can fight about the identity of the Democratic Party, which we're gonna have to do anyway.

False Equivalence


via digby

Rejecting Unions Is Racist and Misogynistic

Low-paying non-union service jobs are held by women and minorities.  High-paying unionized manufacturing jobs are held by white men.
But there's no law of physics that says service jobs have to be low-paying. All they need is a union.

That's why it's not just a Fight for Fifteen.  It's a Fight for Fifteen and a Union.

Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions. The Midwest was, at least until recently, a bastion of union strength. Southern states, by contrast, are mostly “right-to-work” states where unions never gained a strong foothold. Private-sector unions have been shrinking across the country for decades, but they are stronger in the Midwest than in most other parts of the country. In Michigan, 23 percent of manufacturing production workers were union members in 2015; in South Carolina, less than 2 percent were.
Unions also help explain why the middle class is healthier in the Midwest than in the Southeast, where manufacturing jobs have been growing rapidly in recent decades. A new analysis from the Pew Research Center this week explored the state of the middle class in different parts of the country by looking at the share of households making between two-thirds and double the national median income, after controlling for the local cost of living. In many Midwestern cities, 60 percent or more of households are considered “middle-income” by this definition; in some Southern cities, even those with large manufacturing bases, middle-income households are now in the minority.
Even in the Midwest, however, unions are weakening and the middle class is shrinking. In the Indianapolis metro area, where the Carrier plant Trump talks about is located, the share of households in the middle tier of earners has shrunk to 54.8 percent in 2014 from 58.9 percent in 2000. And unlike in some parts of the country, the decline in the middle class there has been primarily driven by people falling into the lower tier of earners, not moving up. The Carrier plant, where workers make more than $20 an hour, is unionized.
But this much is clear: For all of the glow that surrounds manufacturing jobs in political rhetoric, there is nothing inherently special about them. Some pay well; others don’t. They are not immune from the forces that have led to slow wage growth in other sectors of the economy. When politicians pledge to protect manufacturing jobs, they really mean a certain kind of job: well-paid, long-lasting, with opportunities for advancement. Those aren’t qualities associated with working on a factory floor; they’re qualities associated with being a member of a union.
When Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or anyone call to bring back manufacturing jobs per se, what they are saying is primarily that they want good paying jobs for working class Americans again. And where those good paying jobs exist, like at the Carrier plant, they need to remain there. But the reason that we think that manufacturing jobs pay well is because a century of union struggles. As we can see when those manufacturing jobs go overseas, just because you work in manufacturing doesn’t mean you have a good job. What you have is usually a hot, dangerous, exploitative job where you have no rights and that takes very little brain power. The workers of Bangladesh, Honduras, and China could tell you that just because you have a manufacturing job does not mean you have a good life. So could the workers in Lordstown in 1972. 
What made that palatable to American workers after 1935 was that they could unionize those factories and thus give their lives dignity. That legacy is still with us as manufacturing still usually pays better than fast food. But there’s nothing inherently more dignified in working in a timber mill than there is flipping burgers. The difference is that we don’t see those jobs as jobs that should be paid well and should be unionized. Popularly, they are seen as entry level jobs. But the woman in the chain coffee shop where I am writing this post is in her 40s and is probably making not much more than minimum wage, as are so many service industry workers. Those jobs should be union jobs too. They should make as much as steel workers made in 1965 or whatever. Manufacturing is never coming back to the United States in 1965 numbers. That’s for a number of reasons. Globalization is not going to put back into a box. And what jobs do come back are going to be heavily automated. This we know.

That doesn’t mean that we should ignore manufacturing. Whether in the U.S. or Honduras or Bangladesh, the goal needs to be that workers of the world make enough money to live a good life, have a say over their conditions of work, do not get exposed to pollution, and work in safe workplaces, among other things. That happens only with unions. And in the current globalized world with modern trade agreements, it happens with workers and citizens having access to the new legal systems developed to protect corporate rights and it happens with companies be held legally accountable for their supply chains.
One other critical point here, which is that manufacturing nostalgia is also nostalgia for the age of the white male single breadwinner. And while I support jobs that pay enough to support a family, there’s definitely social and racial problems here and there’s no question that these issues animate the nostalgia people feel for these jobs.

But whatever the job, wherever it is, people live dignified lives if they have unions. If they don’t have unions, their lives are worse. That’s why companies are engaging in extreme capital mobility, creating extralegal courts to protect their rights, using opaque supply chains, putting long-term temp workers on the same workplace floors as unionized workers, etc. The goal is to repeal workers’ gains of the last century.

Our goal therefore needs to be to move the gains of the last century onto the jobs of the new century while doing what we can to ensure that wherever companies move their production that those gains will also be achievable by the workers of the world. Until we do that, our dignity will be under constant threat. But fundamentally, it doesn’t really matter whether the jobs is in a steel mill, a hamburger joint, or teaching. All workers must have good wages and unions.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Candy Barr Performs Massive Pander in Desperate Play for Black Votes

Camp Nelson richly deserves to become a national park.  It's a scandal that it has been ignored by federal authorities for so long.  
I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Barr proposes this park honoring black soldiers in the Union Army just as he is facing a strong challenge to his re-election and needs every black vote he can scrounge.

An effort has begun to put a Jessamine County historic site into the National Park System.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, has introduced a bill that would authorize the Department of Interior to conduct a study that would be the first step toward bringing Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park into the National Park System.

The heritage park tells the story of black soldiers who were recruited and trained to fight for the Union. The park is off U.S. 27 about six miles south of Nicholasville.

“This is a place of national historic value,” Barr said in a visit to the park Thursday.

Camp Nelson was established by an order of President Abraham Lincoln. It was named for Maj. Gen. William “Bull” Nelson.

As many as 10,000 black troops trained there. Eight regiments were founded at Camp Nelson and five others were stationed there, making it the third-largest such center in the nation.

Other training centers for black troops in Philadelphia and New Orleans were larger, but more archaeological resources were preserved at Camp Nelson because it was in a rural area, said Stephen McBride, director of interpretation and archaeology at the park.
Get out to vote on Nov. 8, you Sixth District Democrats.  Nancy Jo Kemper will be a much stronger advocate for Camp Nelson than Candy Barr has any intention of being. 

Governor Scofflaw Urges Lawbreaking

Boy, has Judge Phillip "Honey Badger" Shepherd gotten under Bevin's skin.

Gov. Matt Bevin has urged the new University of Louisville Board of Trustees to meet in apparent defiance of a judge’s order blocking them from acting.

In an interview on WHAS-AM radio Wednesday, Bevin told host Terry Meiners that “the new board is not enjoined. The new board has authority to meet and they should do exactly that.”

In a July 29 order, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the “governor's appointment of replacement board members and their authority to act as the duly constituted Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville” was “temporarily enjoined,” pending a final resolution of Attorney General Andy Beshear’s lawsuit contesting Bevin’s power to abolish the old board and appoint a new one.

The injunction also blocked Bevin, “his agents, employees and all other persons acting at his direction from taking any actions to implement his orders on U of L."

Beshear, who won the temporary injunction, said in a statement that Bevin encouraging defiance of a court order is a "serious matter that should concern all Kentuckians. We live in a country governed by the rule of the law, which must be respected.”

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Immigrants Taking Over Just the Way the Old Immigrants Did

My Irish and German immigrant ancestors did exactly this.  They faced down the Know-Nothing Nativists screaming "dirty Micks!" and "Kraut traitors!" and voted and ran for office just as Americans have always done, and are still doing.

Over the years President Obama has come up with a line he uses whenever people at his rallies boo at things like Trump’s remarks. He always says, “Don’t boo…vote!” That is exactly what the Somali community in Minnesota did this week.
Neighborhood activist Ilhan Omar made history Tuesday by winning a fiercely competitive DFL primary in a Minneapolis House district, which means she likely will become the nation’s first Somali-American legislator next year…
Born in Somalia, Omar, 33, and her family escaped civil war and lived for four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before ultimately moving to the Somali-American neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside, where she has lived for nearly two decades and is currently director of policy initiatives at Women Organizing Women…
Tonight we made history,” Omar told the crowd. “Tonight marks the beginning of the future of our district, a new era of representation. Tonight is about the power of you.”…
Omar’s dramatic victory threatened to overshadow another upset, this one from 24-year-old Fue Lee, who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and currently works in the office of Secretary of State Steve Simon. He defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis.
Both upsets came in heavily DFL districts, which means they are virtually assured of victory in November.
And remember: unless you are a full-blooded Native, you're the descendant of immigrants, no more "American" than that Muslim Syrian refugee who just took the oath of citizenship, and who you better believe is going to be voting on November 8.

Yet Another Vicious Black Lives Matter Attack on a Harmless White Supremacist

These motherfuckers aren't expressing political opinions.  They're a clear and present danger to our democratic republic.

Think Progress:
On Tuesday night, a white supremacist in Olympia, Washington stabbed a black man on the street in an apparent crusade to fight Black Lives Matter. The suspect later reported to police that he’d taken “a blood oath to to fight on the street” and was acting on behalf of law enforcement.

The unidentified victim was standing outside a bar in downtown Olympia, smoking a cigarette with his white girlfriend, when the suspect ran up and stabbed him in the abdomen. The woman was also injured. The two survived — and were able to catch the perpetrator and report him to the authorities.
The suspect had multiple racially-charged tattoos with phrases like “White Power” and “Skinhead,” and told police that he was downtown because word had spread about anti-police graffiti there. He claimed Black Lives Matter was responsible for the graffiti, even though law enforcement never confirmed that was the case.

According to court documents filed after the incident, the suspect assured officers that he was acting on their behalf.

“At one point he stated that he knew we couldn’t hurt the black groups on the street so he wanted to let us know that he takes care of them for us,” police wrote. “That he is able to fight those fights and will continue the fight against all of the Black Lives Matters people.”

The suspect, who told police he’d done time at the Washington State Penitentiary, also informed them that he wanted to attend a Donald Trump rally to continue “stomping out more of the Black Lives Matter group.”

The stabbing on Tuesday fits into a surge of white supremacy in the U.S., which has been supported — and encouraged — by the Republican presidential nominee. Trump frequently reposts racist messages and memes on social media and refers to his “heritage” in speeches — coded language that’s earned him the support of the KKK. On Wednesday, he likened Hillary Clinton to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, borrowing language from white supremacist groups. And last week, Trump made a veiled call for white supremacists to gun down Hillary Clinton.

Black Lives Matter has been targeted in the past year. Last November, as members of the group gathered in Minneapolis to protest the police shooting of Jamar Clark, white supremacists showered them with bullets. And on Wednesday, the Ku Klux Klan announced that it would crash a Black Lives Matter rally in Long Island, New York.
And no, the murderer is not going to be tried, much less convicted, much less executed. If he gets more than a week of jail time before he gets released on his own recognizance while waiting for the charges to be dropped, I'll be amazed.