Saturday, April 19, 2014

Instead of Easter Fables, Tell Your Children This

Sasha Sagan, in New York Magazine:

One day when I was still very young, I asked my father about his parents. I knew my maternal grandparents intimately, but I wanted to know why I had never met his parents.

“Because they died,” he said wistfully.

“Will you ever see them again?” I asked.

He considered his answer carefully. Finally, he said that there was nothing he would like more in the world than to see his mother and father again, but that he had no reason — and no evidence — to support the idea of an afterlife, so he couldn’t give in to the temptation.


Then he told me, very tenderly, that it can be dangerous to believe things just because you want them to be true. You can get tricked if you don’t question yourself and others, especially people in a position of authority. He told me that anything that’s truly real can stand up to scrutiny.

As far as I can remember, this is the first time I began to understand the permanence of death. As I veered into a kind of mini existential crisis, my parents comforted me without deviating from their scientific worldview.
 Stop lying to kids; it's child abuse.

"Times for reflection and renewal"

How about some Equinox greetings to non-freakazoids, Mr. President? Or May Day greetings to the workers of the world? Hell, I'd settle for Earth Day greetings.  (Speaking of which, thank you very much for the apparent indefinite delay of the Keystone Pipeline.)

Full transcript here.

Remember Ludlow!

If you get to go home from work after eight hours in one day; if you get to spend a weekend without going to your job; if your workplace is free of lethal dangers: don't thank your employer.

Thank the union members who literally died - shot, smothered and burned to death by company goons and local militias - to secure the workplace rights we all take so for granted.

Thai Jones as The Nation:

The tents huddled together on the high prairie. For seven months, they had borne deluge, frost and blizzard. In that time, the occupants—more than 1,000 striking coal miners and their families—had also endured the fear and fact of violence. On April 20, 1914, the sun rose at 5:20 am. It was the 209th daybreak over the tent colony at Ludlow, Colorado. And it was also the last.

The next twenty-four hours, in which roughly a score of people were killed, would be the bloodiest in the entire sanguinary history of the American labor movement. Immortalized as the Ludlow Massacre, its causes and ramifications have been discussed, disputed and decried for a century. As with the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 or the Haymarket Riot of 1886, it generated martyrs, villains, monuments, social legislation and mass movements.

For years, the Ludlow Massacre was a touchstone of our radical tradition. Its legacy was fashioned and sustained by some of the brightest publicists of the left, including John Reed, “Mother” Bloor, Upton Sinclair, Woody Guthrie, George McGovern and Howard Zinn. “It was a watershed event,” wrote novelist and historian Wallace Stegner. Ludlow, he thought, had touched “the conscience of the nation, and if it did not make raw corporate gun-law impossible, it gave it a bad name. At the very least, it made corporations more careful.”

The union movement drew enough strength from the events at Ludlow—as well as its defeats and victories on untold shop floors across the country—to force the implementation of new forms of welfare support and working-class power. In the 1930s and ’60s, the battle cry “Remember Ludlow!” inspired advocates for labor and civil rights. By the 1970s, however, the fatalities in those coalfields felt like wounds from a distant past, and the massacre fell from political discourse and education curriculums.

And then the world changed back. The gains of labor began to be undone, and the factors that defined the conflict in Colorado are with us once again: class warfare, corporate monopoly, environmental ruin, the demand for workers’ justice, the influence of media and public opinion. One hundred years on, the Ludlow Massacre is a starkly contemporary tragedy.
Read the whole thing, and ask yourself if WalMart of the Koch Brothers or Citibank or Bain Capital would hesitate for a split second today to order a massacre of striking workers.

Then tell the story to everyone you know.
The export of manufacturing jobs abroad has produced an undoing of memory. Today, the nation is divided by the kind of severe income disparities last seen during the Gilded Age, and yet the traditions of labor militancy and resistance to corporate ferocity that flowered in the era of heavy industry have been largely forgotten by both workers and employers. But Ludlow is the terminus of capitalism’s regressive path. If our future is shaped by the further degradation of labor rights, there can only be more massacres and new monuments.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Buy Your Groceries in Vermont

Remember, the issue is not just lack of safety - which has yet to be proven - but the catastrophe of letting one giant corporation own the basis of the entire planet's food supply.

They couldn't make it happen in California, but ....

From Firedoglake:

- It seems Vermont will be the first state in the nation requiring GMO labeling on all foods

It's OK, AynRandy: Nobody Else Can Figure It Out Either

From the Courier:

Rand Paul Won't Publicly Say Why He Supports Mitch McConnell

Supposedly there's video, but it won't work for the Dog right now.

Humanist Expectations

Divine Irony:

Step Aside, W. Va: In KY, Our Drinking Water is Poisoned By Companies Owned by State Legislators

Note that they don't know how much of this chemical spilled, but they definitely know that it's perfectly harmless.

John Cheves at the Herald:

A coal-mining company owned by state Rep. W. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, spilled an undetermined quantity of a chemical into his constituents' drinking water supply in Pike County earlier this month, state and local officials said Thursday.

On April 4, the Phelps Fire Department responded to a report of a chemical spill at Hall's BMM Inc., according to the Kentucky Division of Water, which is now in charge of the investigation. Photos show a white, foamy liquid pouring from the front of a blue building on the property, crossing a parking lot and running into a stream that leads to Peter Creek, which flows into the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River upriver from a local drinking-water intake.

"A gel-like substance" was still "seeping from the building" on April 9 when a state inspector toured the site, but it was not running into the stream five days later, said Dick Brown, a spokesman for the Division of Water. No sample was collected, Brown said.
Of course not!  What possible reason could there be for a state agency in charge of ensuring clean drinking water for Kentuckians to collect a sample of a foamy, gel-like substance leaking from a coal-mining company into a source of drinking water?

I mean, it's not like the eastern Kentucky coal fields form the watershed for the Kentucky River, which is the source of drinking water for about half the state. Oh, wait.

Meanwhile, coal is our future!

If You Vote Democratic, Repugs Are Going to Prevent You From Voting

I'm going to keep telling this story until Kentucky gets rid of voter-fucking-ID:  For decades in Kentucky, all you had to do to vote was show up, sign the voter book next to your signature from the last time you voted, and then vote. Done. No fraud, no question, no problem.

But that was back before repugs realized that letting everybody vote meant that repugs lost elections.


The right to vote — what kind of political platform is that? Why would you make that a part of your agenda, preventing people from voting? How can you defend that?” Obama said. “This recent effort to restrict the vote has not been led by both parties. It’s being led by the Republican Party.”
That last paragraph there is the best case yet anyone in this administration has put forth as to what the true nature of the GOP voter ID effort really is:  voter suppression in order to lower turnout of traditionally Democratic voting groups.  For President Obama to publicly acknowledge this and then publicly rebuke the GOP for doing it (he later recounted the whole birther nonsense and had a good laugh along with the audience) was not only necessary but vital to our voting system.

Long-time readers will know that I harp on voting and voting rights weekly in this space.  There's a reason for that.  It's literally the last gasp of the current Republican party, the last weapon they have in order to stay in power.  They talk of "outreach" and "reconciliation" with minority groups, particularly black and Latino voters, and then make it harder for all voters to vote in a way that falls most on the shoulders of voters of color.

So to hear the President call the GOP out on this is nothing short of historic.  We need to make sure that we exercise that vote, so the people trying to take that right away do not gain more political power.

Here's the video of the speech:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If You Close Your Eyes, Reality Can Still See You

Divine Irony:

My Easter Present: Child-Raping Priest Convicted

I just want to know how many children he raped after the church knew he was raping children but before he was caught. Because in those cases, the parish, the bishop, the archbishop, the cardinal, the pope and the whole fucking catlick hierarchy are accomplices and should be in prison with the piece of shit shining example of religious morality.

From the Herald:

A jury convicted a former Catholic priest Wednesday on three counts of sodomy for sex abuse that happened at a church parish in the 1970s.
Yeah, yeah, he's dying of cancer.  Not remotely painfully or slowly enough.

Only Four Days Left to Register to Vote in Kentucky Primary

A lot of Kentucky elections are decided six months before November.  Don't wait until the general election to realize you missed your chance to vote for the person you really wanted to vote for.

And if you hate everybody on the ballot?  Then vote in the primary just because repugs are trying to deny you the right to do so.  Annoy repug voter suppressors: Vote Democratic.

From Kentuckians for the Commonwealth:

To be eligible to vote in the May Primary Election your voter registration form must be completed at your local County Clerk's office or mailed and postmarked by Monday, April 21, 2014.
Not yet registered or need to update your registration?
Visit your local County Clerk's office or download a voter registration card and mail it in by April 21, 2014. For answers to common voter registration questions please see “Voter FAQs” below or visit KFTC's website.
Many KFTC chapters have scheduled voter registration outreach events leading up to the deadline, so contact your local KFTC organizer to see how you can pitch in. 
Voter FAQs:
  • How can I check if I am registered to vote and what party I am registered with?
  • Where do I register?
  • When are the Primary Election and the General Election?
    • Primary Election Day is May 20, 2014 and Election Day is November 4, 2014
  • Can I update my political party, address, and/or name?
    • YES! For name and address changes, complete a voter registration form and submit by April 21st. For political party changes please read below:
      • Kentucky has closed party primary elections. This means you can only vote for candidates that are running within the party you selected to register with when completing your voter registration form.
      • The deadline for Kentucky voters to change their political party for the 2014 Primary Election was on or before December 31, 2013. If you are not registered with the party you cast your vote for during the Primary Election you forfeit the right to vote in either party's Primary. However, if you are registering as a new Kentucky voter this rule does not pertain to you. To find where you are currently registered and what party you are registered as, visit the Voter Information Center here
  • How old do I have to be?
    • You must be 18 years of age on or before November 4, 2014. 17-year-olds may register and vote in the May Primary as long as they will turn 18 before November 4, 2014
For more information regarding voter registration rules and regulations please visit the Voter Empowerment section of our website.

If $25 Mimimum Wage Were Put to a National Vote, How Much Would It Win By?

Assuming everyone votes, 60 points easy: 80-20.

Assuming repug voter suppression succeeds, a real minimum wage fails.

From Zandar:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Typical Job Creator

Never forget: when the one-percenters and their apologists demand workers turn over even more of our thin dimes to the obscenely wealthy because "job creators," this is who they're really talking about.

500 Jobs Saved, Thanks to the Union


- Here is some good news. After UPS fired 500 of its workers, unions came to the defense of those workers with community support. After pressure, the company rehired all 500 workers.

Restore Voting Rights in Kentucky - Call Your State Senator Right Now

From state house dems last night:

House Bill 70 – a bill championed by Democrat Jesse Crenshaw of Lexington for more than a decade - passed the House again earlier this session, but appeared to be “Dead on Arrival” in the Senate.

Just moments ago the House Democrats breathed new life into this measure by folding it into Senate Bill 58 (SB 58). Essentially, this legislation gives the fundamental and sacred right to vote back to those who have paid their full debt to society.
We believe that it is wrong to make someone a second-class citizen.  Welcoming those who have paid their debt back into normal life – a life that includes the right to vote - gives them a full chance to rejoin their communities. We believe this is essential to our Democratic values, and a more peaceful and just society.
SB58 sits in the senate now, awaiting action by that body.
The time is now: Call your Senator and tell them to vote YES on Senate Bill 58:

Never Forget, and Vote Accordingly

Via Digby:

Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Rand Paul
Ed Whitfield, KY-1
Brett Guthrie, KY-2
Thomas Massie, KY-4
Hal Rogers, KY-5
Andy Barr, KY-6

Remember in November.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Real Patriots Pay Taxes

More than any flag-waving, parading or fireworking you can do on the Fourth of July, nothing proves your true worth as an American like paying the taxes you owe to the federal government, even when it spends that money wasteful shit like Mitch McConnell's salary. Don't like the government? VOTE TO CHANGE IT.

Ed Kilgore nails it in this piece, in which he concludes:

Painful as Tax Day might be, and however unhappy we may be with this or that policy or practice of the federal government, this is indeed our government, and there’s no “country” beyond its jurisdiction to which we may pledge allegiance. So today’s a day for flag-waving, not just tax-paying, and one for rededicating ourselves to engagement in the civic and political processes, not seceding to some imaginary Republic of our own devising.
Of course he's referring to the Nevada morons, about whom I agree wholeheartedly with Juanita Jean:
Why the hell are they supporting a law breaker?  This Cliven Bundy crazy old fart says he doesn’t recognize the federal government.  Well hell, it’s on your money and your flag and your national weather service and your Bureau of Damn Ranch Management.

Get your damn cattle off my land, you crazy old fart.

Best Pulitzer Since Seymour Hersch on My Lai, Or Why We Need Real Newspapers And Fearless WhistleBlowers

I admit: As late as yesterday, I would have bet large sums of money that this would never, ever happen. I do not have the words to describe how happy I am to have been so very, very wrong.

Charles Pierce:

Hello? What's this?
Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security...Awarded to The Guardian US for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.
Precisely correct. It never has been about the who. It always has been about the what, and the how, and especially the why, which latter never has been adequately explained by the all-too-human, but curiously error-prone people who thought they'd never have to explain anything to anybody.

Unless You Demand Free Universal Abortion on Demand, You're Not A Libertarian

You're just a pathetic Tribble-Toupeed dudebro without a clue.

As always, I sincerely hope Mrs. Tribble-Toupeed One is fucking her brains out with the pool boy.

Yes We Did, Yes We Do and Yes We Will Keep Torturing Until the Bush/Cheney War Criminals Are in Prison

Charles Pierce, on the dangers of infection:

For years, our herd immunity on these matters consisted of a general consensus that there were some things that the United States simply could not do and remain the country we told ourselves and the world that we were. We believed that there were things that were unthinkable, and that kept us at least partly safe from an outbreak of our worst impulses. That herd immunity will not be rebuilt easily. It will take a steady intellectual and political inoculation against the worst in us all. And we must contain the spread of the infection as best we can, and not listen to those people who tell us that what always has worked in the past for us endangers us now.
An elderly European acquaintance of mine recently died. Someone who remembered World War II, and the American soldiers who liberated them.  Someone who loved Barack Obama because he represented what to her generation was the very best of America: our honor and our goodness and our refusal to surrender to evil.

I cannot read this report without wondering how I could possibly look her in the eye.

If Pierce's conclusion is too vague for you, try this:
Eric Fair was an Arabic linguist in the U.S. Army from 1995 to 2000 and then, in 2004, he worked as a contract interrogator in Iraq. He remains haunted by what he did there.
In April 2004 I was stationed at a detention facility in Fallujah. Inside the detention facility was an office. Inside the office was a small chair made of plywood and two-by-fours. The chair was two feet tall. The rear legs were taller than the front legs. The seat and chair back leaned forward. Plastic zip ties were used to force a detainee into a crouched position from which he could not recover. It caused muscle failure of the quads, hamstrings and calves. It was torture.
The detainees in Fallujah were the hardest set of men I’ve ever come upon. Many killed with a sickening enthusiasm. They often butchered what remained of their victims. It is easy to argue that they deserved far worse than what we delivered.
Still, those tactics stained my soul in an irrevocable way, maybe justifiably so. But as members of our government and its agencies continue to defend our use of torture, and as the American people continue to ignore their obligation to uncover this sordid chapter, the stain isn’t mine alone.
Jose Rodriguez Jr., the former head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, insists that those who suggest we question more gently have never felt the burden of protecting innocent lives. I’ve felt that burden. And when the time came, I did not question gently.
I’m dealing with my own burdens now. My marriage is struggling. My effectiveness as a parent is deteriorating. My son is suffering. I am no longer the person I once was. I try to repent. I work to confess. I hope for atonement.
As a country, we need to know what happened. We need to confess. We need to be specific. We need to open the book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Avoiding Climate Catastrophe Dirt Cheap If We Do It Right Now

But it'll cost the Koch Brothers and Exxon-Mobil a whole extra dime a day, so forget it.

Joe Romm at Climate Progress:

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just issued its third of four planned reports. This one is on “mitigation” — “human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.”

The first two reports laid out humanity’s choice as depicted in the figure above, which appeared in both reports. The first report warned that continued inaction would lead to 9°F warming (or higher) for most of the U.S. and Northern Hemisphere landmass, resulting in faster sea level rise, more extreme weather, and collapse of the permafrost sink, which would further accelerate warming. The second report warned that this in turn would lead to a “breakdown of food systems,” more violent conflicts, and ultimately threaten to make some currently habited and arable land virtually unlivable for parts of the year.
Now you might think it would be a no-brainer that humanity would be willing to pay a very high cost to avoid such catastrophes and achieve the low emission “2°C” (3.6°F) pathway in the left figure above (RCP2.6 — which is a total greenhouse gas level in 2100 equivalent to roughly 450 parts per million of CO2). But the third report finds that the “cost” of doing so is to reduce the median annual growth of consumption over this century by a mere 0.06%.
You read that right, the annual growth loss to preserve a livable climate is 0.06% — and that’s “relative to annualized consumption growth in the baseline that is between 1.6% and 3% per year.” So we’re talking annual growth of, say 2.24% rather than 2.30% to save billions and billions of people from needless suffering for decades if not centuries. As always, every word of the report was signed off on by every major government in the world.
Never in the history of humanity has there been a better reason for everyone aged 25 and under to rise up and kill everyone aged 31 and older.  Not that I would ever endorse such a thing, or ever did, even when I was young and knew better than to trust anyone over 30.

The Real Reason Cliven Bundy Isn't In Prison and We're Not All Chowing Down On His Cattle Right Now

From Zandar:

Can you imagine what the reaction of America would be to a black cattle rancher grazing cattle on federal land, without paying the feds, for 20 years? Think about how that would be reported.  Cliven Bundy is considered a patriot and hero for resisting the awful mean ol' federal government, despite breaking the law for two decades plus.  If he was black, the calls from the same exact people now hailing him as a hero would be far, far different.

Furthermore,look who showed up to help Bundy.  What do you think FOX News's reaction of an armed group of black men showing up to defend that cattle rancher from the feds?  You'd be hearing about race wars and all kinds of crazy shit.  Worse, the white militia guys showing up now to defend Bundy would absolutely be on the scene hunting down the black ranchers.

It would be chaos.  And it sure wouldn't have ended peacefully, that's for damn sure.

ABC News calls Bundy a "defiant cattleman".  If he was black, he would be a "militant thug."

And then he'd be dead.
 Steve M. makes similar points about the Kansas City KKK spree murderer here and here.

And Juanita Jean, who has an idea:

I’m a yellow dog Democrat and I believe in a sane immigration policy. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has deported over 2,000,000 people in an aggressive policy.

What if a bunch of Hispanics were to arm themselves and stand at the detention facility demanding the release of people “not following the rules.”  Do you think INS would quietly back down and release them to keep the peace?

I don’t think so.
If they were backed up and protected by a few gun-totin' liberal red-staters I happen to know personally, it might be worth a try.

The Blindness of Denial

When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
(via blackatheists)

Total Lunar Eclipse Tuesday 3 a.m., Clouds Be Fucked

Seriously, wake up your kids and make them see this.  If you're lucky, they'll grow up to be Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

James Bruggers at the Courier:

In any event, whether we can see it or not, there will be a total lunar eclipse that is predicted to have a reddish color from atmospheric conditions and scattered light, according to experts at the University of Louisville. They're calling it a blood moon.
Tom Tretter, associate professor of science education in U of L's College of Education and Human Development, had this to saw about the eclipse:
In the Louisville area the total eclipse (when the moon is fully in Earth's shadow) will begin at about 3:07 a.m. Tuesday morning. It will last until 4:25 a.m. Unlike a solar eclipse, it is quite safe to view a lunar eclipse with bare eyes or even binoculars or small telescopes. Plus, it is clearly visible even with city light pollution, so you don't have to find a dark viewing spot.
The entire event may be visible from North and South America, according to NASA. And of the clouds get in the way, there's always the Internet. You can watch the eclipse live on the NASA website, with coverage starting at 1 a.m. NASA is also providing a central location for people to share their photos. All that can be found, here.

Easy: He'll Just Lie. Because That Always Works

Political Animal:

Over 400,000 Kentuckians now have health care that Mitch McConnell thinks they shouldn’t have. How’s that gonna play?
They don't have health care thanks to Obamacare-loving liberalcommieni**erlovingmuslinterrist Alison Lundergan Grimes; they have kynect healthcare thanks to that Staunch Defender of White Privilege Mitch McConnell.

Done. Double-digit victory for the repugs. Again.

Hey, Aynrandy: There's a Lady With a Lamp Here Wants a Word With You

What part of "immigrants built his country" does the Tribble-Toupeed One not understand?

In an interview that aired Sunday, Paul said that those immigrants "are not bad people" but added the United States "can't invite the whole world" inside its borders.

Read more here:
Not to mention that our only hope of future economic security is immigrants - illegal ,dark-skinned, non-xian, gay and everything else.

Also, unless you are 100 percent Native American, shut the fuck up about "illegal immigrants."

And just by the way, moron, a good definition of "bad people" is "people who want to run the United States despite having not the faintest idea of what this country stands for."

No, a $20 per hour minimum wage is not unreasonable

It would barely begin to restore the trillions the obscenely rich have stolen from the rest of us.

Paul Campos in a post about working hours and leisure time:

In the late 1960s, median household income was nearly double per capita GDP, while today we have nearly a one to one relationship between the two metrics (Households are on average only slightly smaller today. I don’t have figures for 1967 handy, but in 1975 the average household included 2.89 people, while in 2012 it featured 2.54 persons). Or to put it another way, if over the past 45 years the nation’s increasing wealth as measured by output had ended up getting distributed equally across income groups as income, median household income in the US would be nearly $100,000 per year, rather than half that sum.
$10.10 per hour my ass. Let's demand $40 per hour and settle for $30. Motherfuckers.