Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Are You Being Oppressed? A Quick Quiz

First, Amanda Marcotte concludes a brilliant piece on "religious liberty" with this:

And this is why liberals are revolting. The religious freedom question was best handled by telling people to mind their own business, not just because it’s the fairest way to deal with this, but also the simplest. Christian conservatives want to pinch away everyone else’s religious freedom by creating a society full of small coercions—denial of service here, penalties at work there—that make it hard for people who disagree with them to live our own lives as we see fit. If we don’t stand up to this now, they will keep turning up the heat.
And here's the quiz, three years old but still dead on, from Rev. Emily C. Heath:
"How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions." Just pick "A" or "B" for each question.
1. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.
2. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.
3. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.
4. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.
5. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.
6. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.
7. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.
8. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.
9. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.
10. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.
Scoring key:
If you answered "A" to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you can fight for your equality -- not your superiority.
If you answered "B" to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.
In closing, no matter what soundbites you hear this election year, remember this: Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority. The only way to ensure your own religious liberty remains strong is by advocating for the religious liberty of all, including those with whom you may passionately disagree. Because they deserve the same rights as you. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Cowardly Conway Not Your Liberal Hero

Attention Jack, and you, too, Adam Edelen:  Alison Lundergan Grimes lost by 15 points to the Most Hated Man in the Commonwealth because she pretended she hadn't voted for Barack Obama.

Steve Beshear is the most popular politician in Kentucky because he refuses to run away from his president, his party leader and the man whose signature legislation is saving the lives of thousands of Kentuckians.

Failing to notice, comprehend and act on these two facts is political malpractice.

Nick Storm at CN2:

With President Barack Obama making his first presidential visit to Kentucky since 2011, Democrats on the ballot in 2015 are seeking geographical distance when Air Force One touches down.


Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen, who is running for a second term in office, said Tuesday that he has plans to be in eastern Kentucky when Obama visits Louisville on Thursday.


Attorney General Jack Conway, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, told reporters this week he too had official business in the eastern portion of the state later this week.

Still, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is term limited in his position, said he planned to meet with Obama during his trip to the state and dismissed the political ramifications of Obama’s visit.

“Look, I’m happy anytime the president of the United States comes to Kentucky, particularly if he’s coming to talk about the economy or jobs, because that has been my top priority for the last seven and a half years,” Beshear said.
 Eastern Kentucky my ass. Not just cowards: morons and liars, too.

To Torture and to Murder

That's what cops do now.  Catching bad guys is way down on the priority list but not as low as actually preventing crime. Serving the public got deleted long ago.
In March alone, 111 people died during police encounters — 36 more than the previous month. As in the past, numerous incidents were spurred by violent threats from suspects, and two officers were shot in Ferguson during a peaceful protest. However, the deaths follow a national pattern: suspects were mostly people of color, mentally ill, or both.
Digby explains:
This is what tasers were supposed to be used for --- as substitutes for lethal force when dealing with potentially dangerous situations that should not call for gunfire. But most police believe tasers are there to punish people who are already in custody for being non-compliant or to shut people up who are asking too many questions. They believe that lethal force is perfectly justified in all situations where they could conceivably claim they felt afraid. So basically the taser has done nothing to prevent gun deaths and basically just serves as a legal torture device.

Studies show that it's likely half the people killed by police are mentally ill. And it's not as if police aren't aware of better strategies out there to deal with the mentally ill.  Apparently, they just couldn't be bothered.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

20 Years in Prison for Pooping Too Hard

A:  "Feticide" is not a crime.  It is not even a thing. You cannot "kill" a piece of your own body. Getting rid of the equivalent of a tumor is not a crime.
B.  Abortion is not a crime either.  It is a federally-protected legal procedure.  It is no more a crime if you do it yourself than if you sew up a cut on your own hand.
C. Nuke Indiana.  Do it now.

Michelle Goldberg at The Nation:
Indiana’s law allowing discrimination against gay people is not the only reason that the state deserves our opprobrium. It’s also about to become the first state to imprison a woman for what it says is the death of a baby born after an attempted abortion.

On Monday, 33-year-old Purvi Patel, an unmarried woman from a conservative Hindu family who bought abortion drugs online, was sentenced to twenty years in prison for the crimes of feticide and neglect of a dependent. It was not the first time that feticide laws, passed under the guise of protecting pregnant women from attack, have been turned against pregnant women themselves. Indiana, after all, was also the state that jailed Bei Bei Shuai, an immigrant who tried to commit suicide by poisoning herself while pregnant, and whose baby later died. But the Patel case is still a disturbing landmark. “Yes, the feticide laws in other states have been used to arrest and sometimes punish the pregnant women herself,” says Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which advised Patel’s defense. “This is the first time it’s being used to punish what they say is an attempted self-abortion.”

Steve Beshear on Anti-Gay Hate Law: Moron or Liar?

And the law, in its non-discriminatory majesty, makes it illegal for rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal food.
Shame on you, Steve Beshear. You're done in politics in seven months. You really want your legacy to be not "Breaking the back of endemic poverty in Kentucky through Obamacare" but "Stupidly Lying to Pander to Hateful and Sex-Terrified Freakazoids and Deny Human Rights to Human Beings"?

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says the state's ban on gay marriage should be upheld in part because it is not discriminatory in that both gay and straight people are barred from marrying people of the same gender.

In an argument labeled absurd by gay marriage advocates, Beshear's lawyer says in a brief filed last week at the U.S. Supreme Court that "men and women, whether heterosexual or homosexual, cannot marry persons of the same sex" under Kentucky law, making the law non-discriminatory.

The argument mirrors that offered by the state of Virginia nearly 50 years ago when it defended laws barring interracial marriage there and in 15 other states, including Kentucky, by saying they weren't discriminatory because whites were barred from marrying blacks just as blacks were barred from marrying whites.

The Supreme Court in 1967 rejected that argument in the historic case of Loving v. Virginia, in which Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman, were charged with a crime for marrying.

Bye-Bye Jamie: Acknowledging Obamacare Just Killed Comer's Gubernatorial Chances

You've drifted into Reality World, my boy, and the conservatard base will declare you UNCLEAN!

Sam Youngman at the Herald:

While proclaiming President Barack Obama's health care law "the worst piece of legislation in my lifetime," Kentucky gubernatorial candidate James Comer unveiled a health care policy platform Monday that assumes "Obamacare" will be the "rule of law" for the next governor.

Two of Comer's opponents — former U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin and recently retired state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott — have said they would end Kentucky's state-run health insurance exchange, Kynect, on their first day in office.

Although Comer described Kynect as a "tool to greatly expand Medicaid," he stopped short of calling for its demise. Doing so probably would increase costs for Kentucky taxpayers, the state's commissioner of agriculture said at a news conference packed with health care executives.
Ah, there it is:  "packed with health care executives."  The ones whose profits depend on the Affordable Care Act surviving and thriving.  The ones who will not be writing campaign checks to candidates who swear to destroy Obamacare.

But can even corporate money overcome Comer's apostasy?  The primary election is May 19.  Stay tuned.

Read more here:

Monday, March 30, 2015

AynRandy on "religious freedom:'' Moron or Liar?

The Tribble-Toupeed One is living down to all of our expectations.  From isolationist to warmonger, small-government champion to Pentagon budget-stuffer, anti-banker to Wall Street cocksucker and now liberty-loving brogressive to freakazoid bibble-fucker.

(Sniff!)  I'm so proud!

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:
The religious right movement is looking for a presidential candidate to rally behind. It seems the junior senator from Kentucky believes he can be that candidate – and if that means shameless pandering, so be it.
Speaking to a group of pastors last week, Rand Paul went so far as to say, “The First Amendment says keep government out of religion. It doesn’t say keep religion out of government.”
Oh my.
If the Republican senator is going to quote the First Amendment, he should probably read it first. The first 16 words of the Bill of Rights are as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As Thomas Jefferson later explained, the point of the language was to “build a wall of separation between church and state.”
I don’t have a problem with Rand Paul swearing fealty to constitutional language, but if he’s going to do so, it’s important that he at least get the language right. The senator claims to have deep, passionate beliefs about the First Amendment, but it appears we now have yet another issue that the Kentucky Republican addresses without any real depth of understanding.
That said, the larger political point of the senator’s efforts is also coming into focus. Social conservatives and so-called “values voters” are looking for a standard bearer, and in general, this constituency doesn’t see Rand Paul as a natural ally. Clearly, the senator hopes to change that impression, emphasizing his opposition to marriage equality, his opposition to reproductive rights, decrying the nation’s moral crisis, misquoting the First Amendment, and even telling pastors, “We need a revival in the country. We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals.”
Time will tell if this has the desired effect on the religious right, but in the meantime, one wonders if Paul’s libertarian-minded allies will stop recognizing their one-time champion.

Why No Hate for Kentucky's Hate Bill? Boycott Us!

If the NCAA sacks up this week and pulls the tournament from hoosierville because Indiana passed a right-for-freakazoids-to-discriminate bill two years AFTER Kentucky passed its own version, the only reason they wouldn't bring it to Rupp Arena in Lexington is because it's the home of the UK Wildcats, current favorites to take the championship.

Because nobody seems to notice Kentucky's only-god-botherers-can-discriminate bill passed in 2013.

Maybe because it passed over Governor Steve Beshear's veto and therefore there is no repug hate-figure like Steve Pence?

Or because the corporations who think gay-bashing discrimination is stupid and anti-business don't do business in Kentucky?

Or is it because big corporations headquartered in Kentucky are perfectly happy with their employees and customers being treated like shit by the freakazoid motherfuckers who run this state?

Hey, Humana: Why do you hate your gay employees and customers?

Hey Brown and Williamson:  You just sponsored the ACLU of Kentucky's annual Fairness Dinner - open bar and four-course meal shindigs for 400 don't come cheap.  Are you trying to cover up for the fact you're not holding the General Assembly accountable for this abomination?

Why all the hate for Indiana and none for Kentucky, national business leaders?  Boycott us, too!  And make sure no repug state legislators get national corporate campaign cash.

Taking away their money is the only thing likely to get through to them.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Things It's Hard to Believe Most People Don't Understand

Yeah, I'm a liberal elitist and so are all my friends.  You know why?  Because we know what's true.

PZ Myers:

Here’s a great list of 9 things many Americans just don’t understand — I’ve distilled it down to just the main headings, but you should read the whole thing.
1. Universal Healthcare Is Great for Free Enterprise and Great for Small Businesses
2. Comprehensive Sex Education Decreases Sexual Problems
3. American Exceptionalism Is Absolute Nonsense in 2015
4. Adequate Mass Transit Is a Huge Convenience
5. The Bible Was Not Written by Billionaire Hedge Fund Managers
6. Learning a Second or Third Language Is a Plus, Not a Character Flaw
7. Union Membership Benefits the Economy
8. Paid Maternity Leave Is the Norm in Most Developed Countries
9. Distrust of Oligarchy Is a Positive
You know who doesn't understand these obvious things, and you know why they don't. So what do we do about it?

Just Tax "em All

Somebody tell these morons that far older, more popular and long-lasting religions than the sex-terrified Abrahamic ones made temple-based sex their primary focus.

If sex-celebrating churches have to pay taxes, so should all the motherfuckers.

PZ Myers:

A church, Panama City Beach’s Life Center is no longer tax exempt, because authorities decided that they didn’t like its sacraments…which involved nude body-painting events (but the human body is one of god’s greatest creations, how can you object to celebrating it?) and selling sexually explicit t-shirts (again, sex is holy, isn’t it?). They were specifically appealing to college youth who were in town for spring break.

The city appraiser passed judgement in a clear act of discrimination.
"A bottle club, charging $20 at the door and selling obscene T-shirts is not being used as a church," Sowell said. "A God-fearing, God-honoring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March."
He does have a point. Here in Minnesota, the churches don’t encourage debauchery until late May, when the weather is a bit more forgiving. But Florida has been blessed by the Lord with warm sunny weather, and debauchery season reasonably starts a little earlier.

But otherwise, why is selling sex grounds for removing a church’s tax exemption, but selling threats of damnation and false promises of paradise not?
Wonkette has the sexy deets.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Piss Tests for the Real Moochers

Wonkette, on the fact that drug tests for welfare recipients don't work:

As of this writing, no recipients of corporate tax credits, farm price supports, federal military contracts, oil subsidies, or tax incentives to build union-free factories are required to prove that they can pass a piss test.

"I don’t think our top economic priority should be helping a tiny number of Americans who are already doing extraordinarily well, and asking everybody else to foot the bill."

Thank you, Mr. President, for calling out the repugs on this one. Keep doing that.

Full transcript here.

The Threat of Solar Energy

They hate what they're afraid of, and they're afraid for good reason.

Remember Solyndra, that failed solar tech startup the GOP tried to hang around President Obama's neck like an albatross? Mitt Romney campaigned in front of the closed Solyndra factory in 2012, trying to deflect attention from his vulture capitalist record at Bain Capital. See, the problem was that Big Gummint was perturbing the economic gods with clean energy subsidies, "stifling free market competition by picking economic winners and losers."

Yesterday, I concluded a post noting that it is some kind of article of faith on the right that "government shouldn't pick winners and losers." Rather than call them hypocrites this fine Sunday morning, let's just say they apply that principle somewhat unevenly.

The Washington Post this morning looks at the growing threat rooftop solar poses to the big utility companies. Industry executives met in Colorado three years ago to plan how to fight back, Joby Warrick reports:
If demand for residential solar continued to soar, traditional utilities could soon face serious problems, from “declining retail sales” and a “loss of customers” to “potential obsolescence,” according to a presentation prepared for the group. “Industry must prepare an action plan to address the challenges,” it said.
The warning, delivered to a private meeting of the utility industry’s main trade association, became a call to arms for electricity providers in nearly every corner of the nation. Three years later, the industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency that is rattling the boardrooms of the country’s government-regulated electric monopolies.
Those free-market zealots among the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been trying to roll back solar expansion that threatens the fossil fuels industry with "potential obsolescence," as the Post described it above. They've been trying to leverage their influence with Republican lawmakers. The free-marketeers want government help in guaranteeing they stay winners. There's one big problem:
The average price of photovoltaic cells has plummeted 60 percent since 2010, thanks to lower production costs and more-efficient designs. Solar’s share of global energy production is climbing steadily, and a study last week by researchers from Cambridge University concluded that photovoltaics will soon be able to out-compete fossil fuels, even if oil prices drop to as low as $10 a barrel.
Turns out that instilling that free-market fervor can really bite when you're operating a government-sanctioned monopoly and even conservatives and evangelicals in red states like Utah like putting solar panels on their church roofs. Trying to impose a solar surcharge offends their free-market sensibilities, so carefully cultivated by the right.
Legislative efforts in Indiana and Utah to slow down solar's expansion by outlawing "net metering" (homeowners selling excess power they generate back to the grid) have failed. "Some of the proposals were virtual copies of model legislation drafted two years ago by the American Legislative Exchange Council," Warrick writes.

It's not easy being mean.
Hawaii is on track to pass legislation this year requiring the state to go 100 percent renewable by 2040.

Earlier this month, committees in the Hawaii House and Senate both unanimously recommended bills that would raise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) from the current target of 70 percent by 2030 to the ultimate goal of 100 percent by 2040. Hawaii has had an RPS since 2001, and right now the state gets just over 21 percent of its power from renewable sources — a 12 percent increase in just six years.

This is huge for our state’s future.

“Even our utility is saying we can hit 65 percent by 2030, so 100 percent is definitely doable,” Sen. Mike Gabbard (D), sponsor of the Senate bill, SB 2181, and chair of Hawaii’s Energy and Environment Committee, told ThinkProgress. “This is huge for our state’s future. Each year, we spend $3 to $5 billion importing fossil fuels to power our economy. Our electricity bills are roughly three times the national average.”

Friday, March 27, 2015

Repugs Pass an Austerity Budget That Would Make Greece Look Prosperous

Five Trillion dollars cut from every domestic spending program that does not engorge the already obscenely rich, fossil fuel companies and military contractors.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has the details.

Fortunately, it's dead on arrival, thanks to the Kenyan Usurper.  Unfortunately, the budget that would actually rescue the country from Greece's fate will never make it to the president's desk.

But it's amazing what you can do with a budget when your goal is to make the economy work for the non-rich.

Crooks and Liars:

Once again, I've yet to hear our corporate media talking about this progressive budget, which includes things that voters actually want. I wonder why! Via Vox:
Every year, the Congressional Progressive Caucus releases a budget proposal, and every year it gets roundly ignored. As the big budget plans — the White House's, the House Budget Committee's, the Senate Budget Committee's — are vigorously covered in the press (including by me!), nary a word is said about the CPC's offering.
This makes sense, of course. The CPC represents a little more than a third of the minority party in the House and has one member in the Senate; its plans are objectively less important, and less likely to shape policy, than ones coming from the president or the majority parties in the House and Senate.
But its budget — or "the People's Budget," as CPC likes to call it — deserves your attention. It's a far better contrast to the aggressive spending cuts of the House and Senate GOP budgets than President Obama's much more timid offering. Like the congressional GOP, and unlike Obama, the CPC isn't trying to lay out a realistic spending course or create a starting point for negotiations. It's trying to lay out a comprehensive vision for transforming the federal government, to give grassroots activists something to rally around and to pressure presidential contenders. It sets out a clear theory for where the Democratic Party should head next that Hillary Clinton and others need to reckon with.
House and Senate Republicans would cut trillions from the budget, mostly from health and social welfare programs. So naturally the CPC budget adds trillions to the budget. While the Congressional Budget Office projects the federal government will spend about $49 trillion between 2016 and 2025, the progressive budget envisions $52.4 trillion in spending — a net increase of about $3.4 trillion.
And with those trillions, it does just about everything a progressive could ask for, short of fully implementing Swedish social democracy in America:
$745 billion goes to an infrastructure program, meant to both create jobs and repair deteriorating roads, bridges, and the like.

$128 billion goes to a new tax credit for low- and middle-income workers.
The debt limit deal of 2011 — including the budget sequestration — is repealed in full, and more spending on non-defense discretionary programs is added on top of that, for a total discretionary spending hike of nearly $1.9 trillion.
A bevy of new education programs are introduced, including universal pre-K and a matching fund to help public universities "increase aid to students to help them cover the total cost of college attendance without taking on debt."
While the budget declines to change Social Security (believing that to be an issue best addressed outside of the budget process), it calls for the program to be significantly expanded.
Go read the rest, and share with your friends. The media continues to turn this into the Invisible Budget -- don't let them!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

KY Repug Gov Candidates Caught Lying About Jobs

Of course they are lying; they are repugs and their mouths are moving.  The news here is that they were caught and statewide media considered it newsworthy.

Last week, Gov. Steve Beshear and a state economist took Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner to task for saying that Kentucky had lost 20,000 jobs over the last two years.

Since then, Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer's claim that Kentucky had lost 50,000 jobs had disappeared from his campaign website.

"Kentuckians are frustrated at the lack of good-paying jobs in Kentucky," the website said last week. "In fact, Kentucky has lost nearly 50,000 jobs over the last two years."

On Monday morning, the second sentence was gone.

Edwin King, director of Comer's campaign for governor, said Monday that the claim should have specified that 50,000 Kentuckians had dropped out of the labor force, which is why Beshear and his folks took issue with Heiner's numbers.

King said the campaign was making some "cosmetic" adjustments to the site.

Looking at labor force participation does not tell the whole story, according to Beshear and his team, who say that other stats show an increase in jobs over the past two years. In essence, there are more jobs but fewer people working in them as an increasing percentage of the population retires, goes back to school or is disabled, according to the state.
I'm going to change my election prediction for the gubernatorial race: it's still going to be a repug, but Heiner instead of Comer. Not that Jack Conway could beat either of them, or even Matt Bevins, but Heiner's Louisville ties are going to crush Conway before the polls even close in Western Kentucky.