Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How to Survive

The news about the fascist tangelo just gets worse every day.  It's easy to give in to despair, but don't do it. Get busy instead.  And keep your eyes on the prize: saving democracy.

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:
Similarly, every American should read Yale History Professor and Holocaust scholar Timothy Snyder’s “20-point guide to defending democracy under a Trump presidency.” 
Among his most important words of advice are “do not obey in advance,” to be wary if the Trump regime attempts to use a terrorist attack or similar tragedy to consolidate its power, and to adhere — especially if you are a lawyer, judge, government worker or other individual who may be called upon to shepherd Trump’s goals into fruition — to professional ethics.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Real Job Deal

Not that anyone who voted for ill presidente understands, believes or cares.
Another metric: Trump would have to do one Carrier-sized deal a week for 30 years to save as many jobs as Obama's auto bailout

The People We're Supposed to Make Into Allies

Ain't happening. 

The fact that 44% of Republicans either think Trump won the popular vote or aren’t sure is disturbing on its own. But perhaps more disturbing is the situational ethics: not only have many Republicans changed their mind about the electoral college, but they know their insistence on it is rigging the election against the winner of the popular vote, and they don’t care.
Currently, 19% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents favor basing the winner on the popular vote, down from 49% in October 2004 and 54% in 2011. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents already widely favored having the popular vote determine the winner and are slightly more likely to do so now than in the past.
This is all part of the post-objectivity trend in Republican politics. There is no objective truth, no objective morality. It’s only about what it takes to win. The ends justify the means.
We used to define that as moral evil. It still is.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Mean and Moronic Will Always Be With Us

This is nothing new.  For the 10 millennia of human civilization, reactionaries have harnessed fear and bigotry and stupidity to block or reverse progress. They didn't need the Internet or Fox news or talk radio, and trying to connect our current iteration of Leading by Lies to technology is a snipe hunt.

Progress waxes and wanes, but over time stays ahead of Reaction and increases its lead.  If it didn't, Reaction wouldn't need to exist.

But Progress never advances by persuading the fearful and bigoted and stupid.  Those belong to Reaction always.  Progress advances by expanding the ranks of the Human.

Ten thousand years ago, Reaction defined "human" as "people who live in my village." Everyone else was not-human.  The Enemy.

Nine thousand eight hundred years later, Progress had expanded the definition of Human citizen-entitled-to-vote to male, wealthy and white.

And while Progress thinks it has since expanded the rights of full humanity to people of color, the poor and women, to Reaction, the non-male, non-white, non-wealthy are still the Enemy.

Reaction always and only appeals to fear, bigotry and stupidity. Progress advances always and only by fighting fear, bigotry and stupidity. Because Progress never has, never can and never will win over Reaction's fear, bigotry and stupidity.

Progress advances only by increasing the ranks of the Human people who vote.

That means we have two fights:
  • Stopping voter suppression and ensuring full access to the polls for everyone - ideally, vote-by-mail.  We have to fight this one like rabid ferrets, because this one is literally the life and death of our democracy.
  • Turning out the vote.  Anyone who is non-white, non-male, non-rich, non-straight and/or non-christian and who does not vote is a traitor to democracy and to every ancestor who fought, bled and died for that right.  Once you get the right to vote, it's not a right any more.  And it is absolutely fucking not a "privilege."  It's a duty.
Everybody votes.

Or Progress dies.

Family Business

Saturday, December 3, 2016

HaHa! Oh, those crazy scientists. What kidders they are.

Brush up on your landscaping skills, y'all: there's no place for you in the post-trumpian dystopia.

James Bruggers at the Courier:

At least 15 Kentucky scientists – several of them from Louisville – have joined 2,300 other scientists from across the country in signing a letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to rely on science as a key input for crafting public policy.

The letter, posted on the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists, is also addressed to the incoming Congress. It asks these political leaders to make sure "science continues to play a strong role in protecting public health and well-being." From disease outbreaks to climate change to national security to technology innovation, people benefit when our nation’s policies are informed by science unfettered by inappropriate political or corporate influence," the letter says, while also calling for scientists to be able to do their jobs "without fear of reprisals or retaliation."

Repugs Yet Still More Than Ever Before Dead Wrong About Raising Minimum Wage

Only the latest of dozens of studies to show the same damn thing: small businesses and communities benefit from hiking the minimum wage.
It’s good to see that Seattle is maintaining a tradition of liberal empiricism: they raised the minimum wage there a few years ago, against conservative howling that it would destroy the local economy. They’ve now acquired enough data to test that prediction, and guess what? The conservatives were full of it.
The unemployment rate in the city of Seattle – the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments – has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%, as the city continues to thrive. I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. The doomsayers were wrong. The sky has not fallen. The restaurant business, by all accounts, is booming (in fact, probably reaching a saturation point when one looks at eateries per capita). I think it’s safe to say we’ve got enough data – over almost two years now – to declare that Seattle has not suffered adverse consequences from its increases in the minimum wage, and has certainly not experienced the dire effects foretold by the anti-min wage crowd.
Not that evidence matters to that group. Nor, unfortunately, to very many voters in the homeland.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Answer is "Never"

You know what happens when you attempt to "work with" people who are openly trying to kill you?
They kill you.
Refuse. Resist. Fight.
What’s this? Principles? Taking a stand? I am thankful for Charles Blow. He doesn’t hold back at all in his criticism of Donald Trump’s recent meeting with the NY Times.
The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your “I hope we can all get along” plea: Never.
You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.
I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.
Here are our next few years: one long and consistent struggle.
No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.
I know this in my bones, and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Molly Knew

No, the Orange One Did NOT Save Those Carrier Jobs

It is, as usual, bullshit, bribes and lies.  Repug governor offers company big tax incentives to keep a few jobs in state.  Tax incentives worth WAY more than the actual jobs, meaning state taxpayers get ass-fucked as per standard GOP operating procedure.

The other 1,100 jobs, apparently, will still be lost to Mexico. There are several things to say about this:
  • From a PR perspective, this is genius. If you want to demonstrate that you care about blue-collar workers, what better way than a big televised announcement surrounded by actual blue-collar workers who will be keeping their jobs?
  • We don't know yet what incentives Pence has promised, but it's worth noting that this is really nothing new. State and local governments offer financial inducements to keep companies from moving all the time. Trump is following a wheezy old playbook here, but even at that he can only do this because of the lucky coincidence that his vice president happens to still be governor of Indiana for a few weeks longer.
  • Compared to Carrier's 1,000 jobs, Obama's auto bailout saved something like 250,000 jobs at GM and Chrysler, and 1-2 million total jobs throughout the entire automotive supply chain. Just sayin'.
  • Needless to say, showering incentives on manufacturing companies to stay in America is not a sustainable national manufacturing strategy. And anyway, aren't Republicans opposed to the government picking winners and losers?
  • Carrier is a big company, but it's owned by United Technologies, a gigantic defense contractor that does a lot of business with the federal government—soon to be headed by one Donald J. Trump. Would Trump stoop to sabotaging UT's government business if it didn't play ball on the Carrier plant? Maybe. Hell, even Bernie Sanders thinks Trump should promise that UT will never get another government contract if it moves any jobs to Mexico. This would be a massive abuse of power, of course, but who wants to take a chance that Trump cares? Probably not UT.
  • Just for the record, the biggest supplier of working-class and middle class jobs in Indianapolis is not Carrier—or any other heavy manufacturing company. The top ten are Eli Lilly, Indiana University, Purdue University, St. Vincent Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, CNA Financial Group, Methodist Hospital, the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, Roche Diagnostics, and FedEx.
  • All that said, this is, once again, a genius PR move. Donald promised he'd keep those Carrier jobs in Indianapolis, and by God, he delivered.
What to pay attention to next: the exact terms of the deal that Carrier got. Just how big a bribe did Pence have to pay them to save those 1,000 jobs? After all, Trump was probably pretty eager to have this chance to show off, and he's got a long history of giving away the store when he really wants something.

Fighting Trump the Albuquerque Way

Don't be afraid to stand up for people under attack.  The moment one person helps, many others will join.  We're not alone.
It was an unpleasant experience for Smith’s shoppers in Albuquerque Wednesday morning, particularly for a woman wearing a hijab, when another customer accosted her.
Barney Lopez was in the store at Coal and Yale when it happened around 9:30 a.m. He remembers walking in and passing the woman with the head scarf as she was checking out.
“I went down the aisle to go get sodas and then all of a sudden I hear somebody starting to yell at her,” he recalls, “And they’re saying things like ‘Get out of our country, you don’t belong here, you’re a terrorist!’”
At that point, Lopez says, practically everyone in the store stopped what they were doing and ran to the defense of the woman in hijab.
Lopez snapped a picture, albeit a bit shaky, of the person screaming at the woman in the hijab. The lady is wearing a hat and sunglasses. A Smith’s employee appears to stand in the way to keep her back.
“There was even another woman that like went over to the woman in the hijab and put her arm around her and gave her hug and held her while the Smith’s employees came,” he says.
Employees shuffled the shouting lady out of the store, but Lopez says the screaming woman waited in the parking lot for the woman in the hijab to come out.
“So all the Smith’s employees gathered around this woman and escorted her to her car and helped her load her groceries,” he recalled.
This is how we have to react. Right now, racists are fully empowered to yell and scream and beat and kill people of color. The way we stop them is to stand up collectively and fight for those we see oppressed. That’s what people did in Albuquerque yesterday. The only way this could have been improved upon is that someone took down the license plate of the racists who did this so she could be investigated by the police.
 Hate lost the election and is now trying to win by intimidation.  We can't let it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Only Free Speech is Praise For the Orange One

Try it, motherfucker.  The smoke from burning flags across the country will block out the sun.

President-elect Donald Trump sent out an early-morning tweet Tuesday musing that burning the American flag should result in jail time or “loss of citizenship."

It is unclear what prompted the message.

Flag burning is a protected act of free speech under the U.S. Constitution. In Texas v. Johnson, a 1989 ruling, the Supreme Court invalidated prohibitions on desecrating the American flag that were enforced by 48 states. A law passed the same year by Congress making it a federal crime to desecrate the flag was also struck down by the Supreme Court.

A constitutional amendment to ban flag burning or desecration has been proposed multiple times in the years since, but failed to pass, most recently in 2006.

Despite this precedent, Trump spokesperson Jason Miller remained unconvinced by CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s insistence that flag burning is a “protected constitutional right” during a Tuesday appearance on “New Day.”

“Can we agree on that?” Cuomo asked.

“No, we completely disagree,” Miller replied.

Miller repeatedly said that such a “despicable” act “should be illegal” and tried to pivot to a discussion of Trump’s cabinet appointees.

“You have to defend what is legal in this country under the Constitution. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean that it's not legal, it's not right for somebody. What do you want this country to be, only what you like? Only what President-elect Trump likes?” Cuomo asked.

“Flag burning should be illegal,” Miller said again, insisting there was a “big difference” between protecting the First Amendment and burning the American flag.

You know what's "despicable" and already is illegal? Profiting from your position as an elected official.  Like shaking down foreign leaders for bribes if they want a meeting with El Presidente.

But even setting aside Trump’s unconstitutional call to criminalize flag burning, which became a staple of American conservative politics long before Trump emerged as a presidential candidate, Trump is calling for something even more extraordinary. He wants to strip citizenship — and with it, voting rights — from political dissidents. Federal law does permit Americans to lose their citizenship after “committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States,” but flag burning is a far cry from treason or armed rebellion. It is a political statement, and democracy depends on the free expression of political ideas.

The president-elect of the United States has proposed stripping a political protester’s very status as an American. In the process, he would take away that person’s ability to vote — and thus to vote for someone other than Donald Trump. Today, Trump proposes this consequence for a very specific category of speech that most Americans view as odious. But once a person’s voting rights can be made contingent upon their beliefs, or their silence, then elections become increasingly meaningless.
Not to mention that criminalizing protest is yet another dead give-away of fascism, as if we needed another example.

KY Board of Ed Ready to Kill Public Education

Charter schools are a scam.  Period.

The private ones funnel tax dollars directly from the public purse into the pockets of corporations without spending a dime on actual, you know, education.

The supposedly "public" and "nonprofit" ones steal tax dollars for religious or corporatist indoctrination free from any oversight or accountability.

Public education is exactly that: public education.  Any diversion of a single dime in tax dollars to entities not currently paid to, you know, teach is an absolute abdication of public responsibility and grounds for impeachment of every public official who advocates it.

Members of the Kentucky Board of Education appear open to charter schools for Kentucky, although the panel did not take a position after a daylong study session Monday.

The board is going to review other states’ laws and is expected to come to a consensus at its December meeting in advance of the 2017 General Assembly.

No legislation had been prefiled in the General Assembly by Monday. In 2016, a bill failed in the legislature that would have allowed charter schools as a pilot in Fayette and Jefferson counties, urban districts that are grappling with an achievement gap between minority, disabled and low-income students and other students. But a charter school bill is much more likely to pass in the coming legislative session after Republicans won control of the state House in the election earlier this month.
 PZ Myers reminds us that nothing about charter schools improves education.  Because, again, their purpose is not to educate; it's to profit.
The longest running voucher program in the country is the 20-year-old Milwaukee School Choice Program. Standardized testing shows that the voucher students in private schools perform below the level of Milwaukee’s public school students, and even when socioeconomic status is factored in, the voucher students still score at or below the level of the students who remain in Milwaukee’s public schools. Cleveland’s voucher program has produced similar results. Private schools in the voucher program range from excellent to very poor. In some, less than 20 percent of students reach basic proficiency levels in math and reading.
Vouchers are simply a means to an end: the demolition of the public school system. The DeVoses can afford the best private schools, and if you can’t, you deserve to be uneducated.

We thought Trump would be bad. We had no idea how awful electing an incompetent sould be, because it’s clear that the first thing he’s doing is appointing more incompetents solely on the basis of ideological fanaticism.
 And the truth about privatization has been known for decades.

Via The Nation, from a 1975 article by Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier, later assassinated by Pinochet's thugs for daring to tell the truth.
This situation recalls the story of a Latin Amer­ican dictator at the beginning of this century. When his advisers came to tell him that the country was suffer­ing from a very serious educational problem, he ordered all public schools closed. Now, more than seventy years into this century, there still remain disciples of the anec­dotal dictator who think that the way to eradicate pov­erty in Chile is to kill the poor people.