Friday, December 19, 2014

No, Greg Fischer is Not a Liberal Democrat

Just your standard bizness motherfucker.

Think Progress:

The Democratic majority on Louisville, KY’s city council plans to vote for a $10.10 minimum wage on Thursday, but the city’s Democratic mayor has promised to veto the measure because he feels it is aggressive. Mayor Greg Fischer has said he would sign an increase from the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour to $8.50 or $8.75, but the future of the measure is cloudy.

Fischer, who has described himself as “a business guy that just happens to be mayor,” had previously indicated that he might accept a $10 minimum wage if it were phased in very gradually. But Fischer said on Monday that he worries that the council’s bill would cost the city jobs, a claim that is not supported by the most precise studies of how businesses and economies respond to minimum wage laws. Reports vary on whether or not council Democrats are willing to compromise with Fischer and lower their sights from $10.10.
Now Fischer has agreed to a $9 per hour wage to rise with inflation.  Given that inflation is around two percent, that's more insulting than no increase at all.

Shame on the council for caving.

Thank You, Ted Cruz

President Obama's nominees are not, of course, the far-left liberals needed to just begin to offset the far-right wingnut extremist crazies appointed by Reagan and both Bushes who now dominate the federal courts.
But they are a slight improvement over vacancies.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:
Thanks to Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) blunder, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was able to move 12 more judicial nominees towards confirmation this week, which may ultimately bring the overall total for the year to 88 -- more than double last year's tally, and the most since Bill Clinton's second year in office.
As of this minute, 291 of Obama's judicial nominees have been confirmed to the federal bench -- one more than Reagan at this point in his sixth year, 37 more than W. Bush, and just seven fewer than Clinton. If, however, the 12 pending nominees are approved this week, Obama will be outpacing them all.
Brookings' Russell Wheeler told the AP that Obama and the Democratic-led Senate have "changed the face of the judiciary."
The rest of the AP article makes clear just how true that is:
Of Obama’s judges confirmed so far, 42 percent have been women, 19 percent black and 11 percent Hispanic, the White House said. That exceeded the percentages of his immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Clinton, the White House said.
Another measure of Obama’s impact is on federal appeals courts, which have enormous influence on their regions of the country and can be conduits for cases to reach the Supreme Court. When he took office, 10 of the 13 appeals courts had more judges appointed by Republican than Democratic presidents. Now the balance has switched, with Democratic-appointed majorities on nine of the courts.
Most significantly, that includes the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, considered the nation’s second-most powerful court because its jurisdiction includes actions by the White House and federal agencies.
Of course, for the White House, Senate Democrats, or anyone else who wants to see the courts move in a more progressive direction, the good news is poised to come to a screeching halt. Dems have controlled the Senate for each of the last eight years – and for all of the Obama presidency – which generally made it possible to advance many of the White House’s preferred jurists. A Republican-led Senate begins next month, at which point, the confirmation process will slow to crawl, if not a complete stop.
In the meantime, though, this is the part of a president’s legacy that will matter long after he or she has left office.

Is Your Local Sheriff Counting Cop Killings? Now It's Federal Law

No more fucking excuses. Now they have to count them. And to count them they have to keep records. And to keep records they have to create records. With facts. And evidence.

This is a huge step forward.  Take advantage of it.  Demand your local law enforcement start obeying this law today, and demand reports every month.

Nicole Flatow at Think Progress:

This week as all eyes were on budget deal wrangling, with little attention and fanfare, Congress actually got something done to reform the police. It passed a bill that could result in complete, national data on police shootings and other deaths in law enforcement custody.

Right now, we have nothing close to that. Police departments are not required to report information about police to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Some do, others don’t, others submit it some years and not others or submit potentially incomplete numbers, making it near-impossible to know how many people police kill every year. Based on the figures that are reported to the federal government, ProPublica recently concluded that young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than whites.

Under the bill awaiting Obama’s signature, states receiving federal funds would be required to report every quarter on deaths in law enforcement custody. This includes not those who are killed by police during a stop, arrest, or other interaction. It also includes those who die in jail or prison. And it requires details about these shootings including gender, race, as well as at least some circumstances surrounding the death.

New York Bans Fracking; Why Hasn't Kentuckyt?

Because while New York's governor may be wholly owned and operated by Wall Street, Kentucky's is wholly owned and operated by the granddaddy of fossil fuels: Big Coal.

From the New York Times:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the controversial method of natural gas extraction.
State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health.
That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting convened by Mr. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.
The question of whether to allow fracking has been one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years, pitting environmentalists against others who saw it as a critical way to bring jobs to economically stagnant portions of upstate.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NOW Grimes Decides to Challenge Repugs

UPDATE: AynRandy responds

The best part of this will be the screaming toddler tantrum the Tribble-Toupeed One throws at not getting his way.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

* In Kentucky, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) made clear yesterday that Sen. Rand Paul (R) cannot legally run for president and the U.S. Senate at the same time in 2016. She's prepared to take him to court to prevent the Republican from trying to circumvent Kentucky law.

Anti-Choicers Win Only By Lying

The biggest obstacle to solving the existential threats of our time - global warming, religious fanaticism and right-wing terrorism - is the disappearance over the last 40 years of any punishment of right-wingers for blatant lying.

Amanda Marcotte at RH Reality Check:

It’s long been a media and political truism that the abortion debate is primarily a struggle over morals and values, pitting concern for embryonic life against women’s right to bodily autonomy. That really did used to be the case, I’d say. Looking over the political landscape now, though, it’s becoming clear that the anti-choice movement has basically abandoned that moralistic strategy when it comes to their actual political activism.

Sure, anti-choicers still lean on the “pro-life” angle in internal messaging to supporters and while harassing women outside of clinics. But when it comes to making change happen on a legislative or judicial level, the anti-choice movement is borrowing a plan of action from climate change denialists and creationists: Create the illusion of a scientific controversy where none exists, and use that as a pretext to push a right-wing agenda. Climate change denialists have had great success claiming there’s a scientific dispute over whether global warming is real, when in fact there’s overwhelming consensus that it is happening. Creationists have also successfully confused the public about research regarding evolutionary biology, which is so ridiculous at this point it’s like saying that there’s debate over whether gravity is real.

Now, anti-choicers seem to be favoring this strategy over old-school declarations that embryos have a right to life, which supersedes a woman’s right to her own body. The idea is to create the illusion—in other words, flagrantly lie—that there is a serious medical debate over the dangers of abortion to a woman’s physical and mental well-being, and use that to argue that a bunch of laws making it harder to obtain abortions are necessary.

As Sofia Resnick recently documented for RH Reality Check, lying about the dangers of abortion for women is the go-to method for passing abortion restrictions at the state level these days. And, when the restrictions are inevitably challenged in court, the sleazy operators declaring themselves “experts” even as they spew unscientific, falsified information are being called up to give testimony to justify these restrictions.

SNIP

Despite the clear evidence that abortion is not dangerous, anti-choicers have come to realize what climate change denialists and creationists have figured out: There is evidently no political or legal way to separate truth from lies, as long as the liars stand firm and refuse to change their story. If a legislator or a judge prefers the lie to the truth, there’s almost nothing scientists and doctors can do to fix that. Take the situation in Texas, where Dr. James Anderson and Dr. John Thorp falsely testified that abortion was too dangerous to perform without hospital admitting privileges—and were paid by the state to be expert witnesses at trial. The main issue here is there is no mechanism in place to make lawmakers listen to facts instead of honeyed lies they wish were true.

This problem isn’t restricted to the lower courts and state legislatures, either. In 2007, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion justified the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a ban on the intact dilation and extraction later abortion procedure by leaning heavily on anti-choice misinformation, which claimed that women are in great danger of being traumatized and unable to heal after getting abortions. That’s not true, but Kennedy apparently wished it were—so he made his decision on wishes and not facts. That’s almost surely the main cause for the current explosion of laws being passed with a bunch of lies about abortion risks as their justification. Anti-choicers have good reason now to believe the highest court in the land will play along with their game of telling convenient lies to get their way.

SNIP

Right now, it’s hard to say if the false claim that abortion is dangerous is as convincing to the public as false claims about creationism or global warming have been. It does seem like the media has been better overall than they’ve been on global warming about not letting a bunch of liars sow doubt about abortion safety on TV and in the newspapers, though of course some always sneak through. But sadly, in our courts and legislatures, the liars have far too much power.

America's Fifth-Craziest Politican Is Ky's Very Own Ayn Randy

I don't give him the crazy pass; he's just plain a fucking moron.

Via Juanita Jean, GQ's 20 Craziest Politicans:

5. Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.]

Just how crazy?
Said the Obama administration going after BP because of the Gulf oil spill was "part of this sort of blame-game society, in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault, instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen." Warned that unchecked illegal immigration would lead to a "borderless mass continent" that used a currency known among conspiracy theorists as the amero.

Honor Those Who Said No to Torture

If we don't prosecute and imprison the torturers and the ones who planned, justified and excused it, then at the very least let us honor those who refused to torture.

Jon Weiner at The Nation:
Hidden in the Senate torture report are stories of some heroes—people inside the CIA who from the beginning said torture was wrong, who tried to stop it, who refused to participate. There were also some outside the CIA, in the military and the FBI, who risked careers and reputations by resisting—and who sometimes paid a heavy price. They should be thanked and honored.

But President Obama hasn’t mentioned them. Instead, he praised the CIA officials who presided over the torture regime as “patriots.”

We should “celebrate the ones who stood up for what was right,” says David Luban of the Georgetown University law school, author of Torture, Power and Law. Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, author of the definitive book on Bush administration torture, The Dark Side, calls them “the real torture patriots.”

SNIP

The heroes in the torture report include Ali Soufan, former FBI agent and interrogator of terrorists who, according to Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower, came closer than anyone to preventing the 9/11 attacks. Soufan has argued publicly against torture and in favor of “rapport-building” as the best technique to get information from suspects. The CIA heavily censored his memoir The Black Banners in what Wright called an effort “to punish a critic and to obscure history.” He was featured in a Frontline documentary made by Martin Smith and James Gilmore.

Another hero: Alberto Mora. As general counsel of the Navy in 2004, Jane Mayer reported, he tried to stop the torture program. He told his superiors at the Pentagon that the Bush torture policy violated the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition of torture and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” He described the Bush program as “unlawful” and “dangerous,” and warned that the torturers could face criminal prosecution. He was featured in the documentary Taxi to the Dark Side by Alex Gibney (which won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2007).

Some of the heroes were ordinary soldiers, like Sgt. Joe Darby, who first revealed the Abu Ghraib abuses. As a result,” Luban points out, he “had to live under armed protection for six months.” Others were high officials, like Philip Zelikow, an adviser to Condoleezza Rice, who, Luban reports, wrote an “anti-torture memo” that the White House “attempted to destroy.”

And there was Ian Fishback, an army captain who reported that his own unit was abusing Iraqi prisoners. Eventually he wrote an open letter to Senator John McCain, asking, “Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security?” His answer: “I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is ‘America.’ ”

Finally we have the case of Guanta√°namo prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who refused to prosecute a teenager who had been abused in US detention in Afghanistan and Guant√°namo. For that decision, Jameel Jaffer and Larry Siems report, Vandeveld was “barred from the prosecutors’ office, confined to his residence and threatened with dismissal from the Army.”

SNIP

The ACLU has set up a web page with a petition to President Obama to “honor those who said no to torture.”
And make sure everyone knows that waterboarding was the least of it and the CIA wasn't alone.
Digby:

I think people don't realize how much anal rape was going on. It wasn't just those "high value" detainees and it didn't happen just a couple of times.

SNIP

Folks, they were raping these prisoners and they knew they were raping these prisoners. It wasn't just the CIA, it was the Pentagon too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"A Call for Justice Shouldn't Warrant An Apology"

And cops who claim to be offended by a call for justice probably have good reason to fear real justice.




It's Not the Protesters Who Are Missing the Point

John Marshall posts a reader rebuke.
We supporters don’t “miss” the “deep wells of support and trust” police have in the majority population. They have always had such support and trust. It just doesn’t matter here. What you seem to miss is that the reason that such support and trust exists is due to the fact that what they are protecting the majority population from, in the minds of far too many in that population, is us! From the Slave patrollers to the rural sheriffs, to the modern police forces, the threat perceived most vividly by the population they “protect and serve” is that of the (violent) black person. Even a cursory look at the history and culture of this nation will reveal that in popular culture for many decades the majority culture was told to be scared of people of color. The result of this villainization of Black, Brown, Red and Yellow skin is a populace that believes, at least subconsciously, that any stranger with a dark skin is a potential threat. Thus the differing rates of charging and conviction between white and minority populations. It is that perception that drives a lot of the injustice minorities complain about.
Read the whole amazing fucking thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Let's Steal Tea Party Tactics to Beat Their Ideology

Responsible people should be pushing back strongly on the notion that the progressive faction is somehow as dangerous as the Tea Party just because it has the courage to stand up to what Wall Street-friendly corporate centrists want. The progressive wing is right on the policy, and tactically it isn’t drawing any red lines that Republican legislators wouldn’t be able to sell to their base if they cared to.

Unless, of course, the Republican base isn’t their voters but rather the top tenth of one percent of incomes. But then, isn’t confronting and exposing that reality what decent politics is supposed to be all about?

Read the whole thing.

QOTD: The Dangerous Banality of Torture

Digby:

Our government officials showed us that they are hysterical panic artists who cannot be trusted to keep their wits about them during a crisis. They proved they will revert to superstition and primitivism when they are afraid. They are openly admitting it this week with all the excuses about how we need to understand the "atmosphere of ear" they were living with in the aftermath of 9/11 and how the panic and hysteria of the moment led to all these "mistakes."

These are supposed to be professionals, people whose jobs it is to stay calm when the public is frightened. They are supposed to have the cool heads and the experience and training to keep it together in these situations. They are not supposed to be running around in circles, unable to figure out the difference between the enemy and some random guy who had a new passport. They were supposed to already know what countless studies dating back decades (centuries!) have shown: that torture doesn't work. They were supposed to be good at this.

How can any American feel secure now knowing that the most powerful military and intelligence services in the world are run by misfits like Michael Hayden? How can we feel safe now that we know the nuclear arsenal is secured by a bunch of cheating careerists?

What we know now is that we have entrusted the security of this country to a group of cruel, inept, bureaucratic whiners who wouldn't know how to find water if they fell out off the side of an aircraft carrier.

I have never felt so unsafe --- and I went through the nuclear fallout drills of the 1960s.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Shut Down Is Preferable

The government-killing repugs in the House got everything they wanted in the Cromnibus.  And given that they did it with 54 votes from scum-sucking DINOs, the chance the "Democratic" Senate can fix it are slim and none.,

Digby:

Dday has an important piece today about the CRomnibus  in which he illustrates just how much of the battle over the vote last night was actually a bit of misdirection. The disputed provisions in the bill (to roll back derivative regulations and campaign finance reform measures) were terrible, of course. But they were the tip of the iceberg:
But there’s so much more to the CRomnibus than just those two riders. Under the bill, trustees would be enabled to cut pension benefits to current retirees, reversing a 40-year bond with workers who earned their retirement packages. Voters in the District of Columbia who approved legalized marijuana will see their initiative vaporized, with local government prohibited from taxing or regulating the drug’s sale. Trucking companies can make roads less safe by giving their employees 82-hour work weeks without sufficient rest breaks. Pell grants for college students will be cut, with the money diverted to private student loan contractors who have actively harmed borrowers. Government financiers of overseas projects will be prevented from stopping funding for coal-fired power plants. Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be allowed to count “quality improvement” measures toward their mandatory health spending under Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” provision, a windfall saving them millions of dollars.

I’m not done. The bill eliminates a bipartisan measure to end “backdoor” searches by the NSA of Americans’ private communications. It blocks the EPA from regulating certain water sources for farmers. It adds an exception to allow the U.S. to continue to fund Egypt’s military leadership. In a giveaway to potato growers, it reduces nutrition standards in school lunches and the Women, Infant and Children food aid program. It halts the listing of new endangered species. It stops the regulation of lead in hunting ammunition or fishing equipment. It limits contributions to the Green Climate Fund to compensate poor countries ravaged by climate change. I could go on. And even if the offending measures on derivatives and campaign finance were removed, all of that dreck would remain.
He goes on to make the important point that this is going to be the new normal. I think that's right. The progressive Democrats will now be free to make losing stand after losing stand --- which is a nice bit of theatre that excites people like me without having to disrupt business as usual --- while the Democratic centrists and the Republicans make "deals" for the benefit of their benefactors and trade off cuts to various benefits and regulations like they were baseball cards.  If any consensus exists in the US Congress it's that we need to protect the most vulnerable among us: rich people.

The Most Horrible Reason of All

My theory is not as despicable as Charlie Pierce fears: I think they kept torturing because they were getting off on it.  The methods are just too similar to BDSM practices for coincidence.

I do not want to believe what I am about to write. I think it's possible that the barbarians in the White House tortured people in order to produce statements they could use to validate further their bullshit case for their bullshit war. Even I don't want to believe that we were ruled for eight years by that species of monster. If that is the case, however, somewhere at the CIA there's a memo, and somewhere there's somebody in a cubicle that knows where the memo is, and who knows the phone number of a reporter. I suspect the Christmas card list at the Cheney household will be lengthy for the next several decades.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Louisville Police Shootings More Deadly This Year

They're holding die-ins at UK and Fayette Mall, and candlelight vigils in Shelbyville.  Southern-mannered Kentucky is officially fed to the teeth with this shit.

Scott Utterback at the Courier:

The 15 rounds the deputies fired at him in that parking lot last March were the first shots in what has become the deadliest year for local police in at least a decade. Law enforcement officers in Louisville have shot and killed five people in 2014 — more than in the last five years combined.

While the total number of police shootings has not drastically increased — officers have fired at suspects seven times this year, compared to an annual average of six — more of those targets have died.

The police report no change in policy, weaponry or training that might account for the sudden shift.

SNIP

The surrounding debate has opened old wounds about race and policing in Louisville, a decade after a string of black men were killed by officers and an infuriated citizenry criticized police as too quick to pull the trigger.

Last month, hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Louisville to march when a Missouri grand jury declined to indict the white officer who shot Brown. Other vigils and demonstrations have taken over courtyards, events and sidewalks across town. For a month, activists have gathered every Monday afternoon outside the police department, accusing the police of brutality and racial profiling.

"No justice, no peace. No racist police," they chant.

Bible Drinking Game

ummagumma.co:


(Source: ramblingboyofpleasure)

And the Slime-Off Begins

Looks like the son of Gov. Steve "Savior of Obamacare" Beshear came up with a twist on the usual owned-by-Big-Coal corruption of his father's generation.

John Cheves at the Herald:

Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, practices "attorney general defense" at Stites & Harbison in Louisville, helping companies that have run afoul of the state's top law-enforcement officer. He's also the only declared candidate for attorney general in 2015.

Although Andrew Beshear wants voters to make him responsible for protecting Kentuckians from civil and criminal offenses, the Democratic candidate won't discuss his legal work or identify any of the clients he has represented before the attorney general.

"Under the Rules of Professional Conduct published by the Kentucky Supreme Court, identifying clients in this situation could constitute a legal ethics violation that could result in sanctions," Andrew Beshear's campaign manager, Jared Smith, wrote in an email to the Herald-Leader last week. Andrew Beshear himself did not return calls seeking comment.
 C'mon, repugs:  I know you've got candidates slimier than this.  Surely you are not going to leave this big juicy target out there untouched.

Effectiveness

ummagumma.co:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Problems

ummagumma.co:


(Source: andlookatthestars, via bookporn)

Pardon the Torturers? Convict Them First

Our current problems started when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before Nixon had been charged with his many crimes, much less convicted.

That put every fascist motherfucker in the repug party on notice that governmental power was a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card.

It's been an out-of-control slide downhill every since, from wiretapping through Iran-Contra (google it, children) all the way to torture.

Pardoning won't stop it.  Pardoning will make it worse

Digby:

President Obama will not do this, I'm sure. It would open the door for some successor to "pardon" him to make a political point. But it's a very potent statement anyway: the only way we can even acknowledge that a crime was committed is to pardon the people who committed it after the statute of limitations has run out.

And I'm afraid I don't see that it would close the Pandora's box of torture. The minute they get the chance the torture advocates will simply make it legal. The taboo has been broken and banking on the law is a losing propositions in these situations. This is now a cultural problem more than a legal problem.

Back in the day the conservatives all used to wring their hands over what was happening in Bill Clinton's pants, asking the plaintive question, "what can we tell the children?" Sex is always a dicey thing to talk about with kids and I'm sure there were some uncomfortable moments around American dinner tables. What else is new?

But what in the hell do you tell your kids about torture? That some people think the "effective way to get to the truth"? That they shouldn't swing the cat around by the tail but in the hands of trained investigators it's ok? This was never a hard question before. Torture was never ok, always wrong, you simply cannot do it ever. That's not true anymore. Leaders in our country, very important people, are now saying that torture is not immoral. We're going backwards.
He concludes:
For the foreseeable future, we will never arrive at a bipartisan consensus that torture is wrong. Support for what they still consider mere "enhanced interrogation" is as much a tribal marker for conservatives as opposition to Obamacare or climate-change denialism. We lost the right on this issue a decade ago, John McCain and his friends excepted. They're not coming back.