Sunday, May 24, 2015

Behind the Trappings


Imputing a lack of "morality" to atheists is bigotry as vile as imputing a lack of "intelligence" to non-whites.

PZ Myers:

You know, you don’t have to believe in gods and ghosts to find meaning, values, tradition, consolation, community, and transcendence, right? No one is objecting to community or values. We’re objecting to the dishonesty of using community and values as excuses to prop up irrelevant falsehoods. The real problem isn’t that most atheists are ignoring the assorted useful cultural baggage that religion claims to own, but that religion is such an emotional issue that its proponents refuse to distinguish the important core of human values from the gaudy supernatural dressings that faith drapes over them.
As science fiction master Arthur C. Clarke put it: "The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion."



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Get the New Blue Courage Training for Kentucky Cops Now

Before another unarmed kid, mentally ill homeless person or slow-to-respond citizen gets murdered by a militarized cop.

TPM:

The friendlier attitude reflects a campaign underway here and elsewhere around the U.S. to "demilitarize" the police and produce officers who think of themselves as guardians of their communities, not members of an occupying force.

SNIP

That includes getting cops to use their wits rather than their weapons whenever possible, as well as instilling a strong moral compass. Supporters say the approach could reduce cynicism, corruption and maybe even suicides among officers.

SNIP

For the past few years, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, which trains the state's local police and sheriff's deputies, has emphasized such skills.

The state academy relies heavily on a curriculum called "Blue Courage," developed by a former Aurora, Illinois, police commander with support from the U.S. Justice Department. It was first used in 2013 at Arizona's largest police academy, after local chiefs listened to a presentation.

"It struck a chord," said Lyle Mann, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. "There was this feeling that the militarization, the focus on officer safety, this whole confrontational kind of thing was morphing in a way that didn't feel good to those progressive chiefs."

The Justice Department has spent $1.5 million so far on Blue Courage, and it has been introduced at the New York City and Baltimore County police departments, as well as academies in Nebraska and Arizona.
 Kentucky's State Police Academy at Richmond considers itself the premier training facility in the nation. But it's not, and won't be until it incorporates Blue Courage.

The Great Scam That Is "Whiteness"

It's not just that there is no such thing as biological "race," it's that whiteness is the justification for history's greatest crimes against humanity.

Chauncey De Vega at We Are Respectable Negroes explains:

The idea of "whiteness" as a strict racial category superior to others is an invention of Europeans, who needed to legitimate and normalize a system of white on black chattel slavery, global empire, and colonialism as being preordained by nature and God.
Yet the “common sense” belief that the racial ideology known as Whiteness has always existed is one of the greatest tricks in human history.

In all, Whiteness is a new invention. The ways in which it has been naturalized signals to its powerful role in an American society that was built upon a foundation of white supremacy, and that continues to maintain institutionalized systems of white advantage over people of color in the 21st century.

Of course, all white people do not benefit in the same way from the racial ideology known as Whiteness: class, gender, sexual orientation hugely impact their lives, among many other identities.

However, as a group, all white people benefit from Whiteness relative to non-whites.
And of course the mooching rich use the whiteness scam to suppress and con non-rich whites by pitting them against non-whites.

The enemy is the rich. Nothing changes until they lose the class war.

Read the whole thing.

"Around the world, our men and women in uniform continue to serve and risk their lives. "

And shame on you for that, Mr. President.  End the Permanent War. Make this the last Memorial Day we have to remember new casualties.



Full transcript here.

kynect Is Doomed No Matter Which Repug Becomes Governor

Really, NPR?  You think Comer or Heiner were going to save Kentucky Obamacare? Fuck, if the state House goes repug in 2016, not even the president's BFF Steve Beshear could save kynect from the repug armageddon.
More than 500,000 people have gotten health insurance in Kentucky through the state's health care exchange Kynect and through expanded Medicaid. Kentucky has seen the second-steepest drop in uninsured of any state.

Supporters of the health care law point to it as one of the success stories, but the man who very well could become the state's next governor is vowing to "dismantle" Kynect and cancel the Medicaid expansion.

"We will have a very spirited discussion as it relates to health care in our state. Trust me on that," vowed Republican Matt Bevin, the surprising apparent winner of the contentious GOP gubernatorial primary. The Tea Party-backed Bevin finished just 83 votes ahead of James Comer, the state's agriculture commissioner, out of more than 200,000 votes.

SNIP

In Kentucky, the governor has the power to unilaterally create or disband programs like Kynect, Cross said. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear chose to both set up a state exchange and expand Medicare. But he is term-limited.

Bevin, a venture capitalist who lost badly in a Senate primary last year to Mitch McConnell, would face off with Democrat Jack Conway. Conway, the state attorney general, starts as a slight favorite, but Kentucky is a conservative state, and Conway struggled in his 2010 Senate bid against Republican Rand Paul.
Bevin made getting rid of Kynect and the Medicaid expansion central to his campaign. He is also vowing to implement right-to-work laws and shrink government, in part, through attrition of public-sector workers.

SNIP

But now it will be Bevin's policies that come under sharper scrutiny. He argues the state cannot afford the Medicaid expansion, which was the biggest reason for the drop in the uninsured. Federal funds currently pay for it, but that money will eventually go away.

"The fact that we have one out of four people in this state on Medicaid is unsustainable; it's unaffordable," Bevin said during the campaign, "and we need to create jobs in this state, not more government programs to cover people."

But Medicaid expansion is different than Kynect, which has been held up as one of the best-functioning state exchanges in the country.

"He won't get away with it," Cross maintained of Bevin's promise to get rid of Kynect. "He'll have to get serious about it at some point and stop conflating Kynect and the Medicaid expansion."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kentucky Landowners Deal MotherFrackers a Setback

Do you like your backyard?  Do you prefer it not have a giant, ready-to-explode high-pressure pipeline full of toxic waste running through it? Then thank Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain (KURED), who just won a victory over the Bluegrass Pipeline terrorists.

Today, the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the Franklin Circuit Court ruling from last year that purveyors of fracking waste, oil, gas or anything else that is not a public utility cannot use eminent domain to force their way onto your land.

Renowned environmental attorney Tom Fitzgerald, representing KURED and Franklin County landowner Penny Greathouse, sued to stop the Bluegrass Pipeline from using the threat of eminent domain to terrify landowners from Pendleton County to Marion County into signing over their land for a toxic-waste pipeline.

Although the initial ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd applied only to Franklin County, today's Court of Appeals decision applies throughout the Commonwealth.

That means that Kinder Morgan, which is trying to get federal approval to re-purpose a pipeline through east-central Kentucky to carry fracking waste, also cannot use eminent domain powers to force easements from landowners.

Bluegrass Partners, whose Bluegrass Pipeline project has been suspended for the last year, may still appeal to the state Supreme Court.

But meanwhile, this is a victory for genuine grassroots organizing and determination.  KURED members are not out-of-state groups or politicians or celebrities; they are the people whose land Bluegrass Partners threaten: retired people, farmers, women religious, young couples who started asking their neighbors about these strangers with the lying faces and the papers to sign.  They got together, educated themselves, found landowners threatened in other counties, stood together and shouted NO!

And won.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No, the First Amendment Doesn't Stop Me From Telling You to Shut the Fuck Up


The First Amendment right of free speech refers only to government action.  The government - state, local or federal - cannot stop or punish you from saying any idiotic thing you want, including hateful, racist tirades.

But I can.

As a private citizen, I can call you out for being a hateful, racist piece of shit.  If you are a motherfucking liar, I can call you out for lying about fucking your mother. I can match or exceed you scream for scream, insult for insult, obscenity for obscenity, and neither one of us can cite the First Amendment against the other.
 
But there's a Faux News pay bonus for being extra-egregious Whiny-Ass Titty Babies.

Fox News pseudo-Democrat Kirsten Powers has a tendentious new book out> It's called The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech.
Lifelong liberal Kirsten Powers blasts the Left's forced march towards conformity in an exposé of the illiberal war on free speech. No longer champions of tolerance and free speech, the "illiberal Left" now viciously attacks and silences anyone with alternative points of view. Powers asks, "What ever happened to free speech in America?"
In it, she alleges free-speech violations that aren't violations at all:

SNIP

Palin's argument was: If you say bad things about my speech, you're suppressing it. Grenell, on behalf of Powers, is taking that a step further -- he's saying, If you report basic biographical information about Powers that fleshes out the selective biography she's chosen to put forward, you're suppressing all the speech to which she's attached that biography.

For the record, despite the fascistic tweets of Willis, just this week Powers has either published articles or been written about in the following publications: the Daily Beast, National Review, Christianity Today, Breitbart, the Frisky, Real Clear Politics, the Washington Examiner, The Washington Times...

But she's being silenced. Right. Got it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bernie's Voting Guide for the Rich

How the "Home School" Scam Lets KY Kids Drop Out

Kentucky has zero standards, zero requirements, zero regulations of any kind on "home schools." 

Wanna keep your kids at home to work in the fields so they never learn to read or write? Kentucky is fine with that.

Wanna make sure all your kids ever know is Leviticus and supply-side jeebus? Kentucky is fine with that.

Wanna prevent your local gubmint skools from earning the funding they need to educate children by keeping your own at home?  Kentucky is fine with that.
 
Read between the lines and it's obvious school officials know that kids and parents are lying about dropouts being "home schooled."  But either out of their own freakazoid ignorance and stupidity or out of fear of the freakazoids' power to destroy school officials' careers and lives, they are going to just take parents' word that "home schooling" is going on in homes that lack a single book, much less instructional materials.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said in February that the state was going to start tracking high school students who withdraw to attend home school to make sure they aren't just dropping out.

As of May 18, the number of students who withdrew from public schools to be home-schooled in 2014-15 was 5,129, said Nancy Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the state education department.

Holliday said he had heard a complaint that some school officials, in an effort to keep dropout numbers low, were encouraging students to withdraw and say they were in home school when, in actuality, no home school existed.

To determine if the concerns are valid, he said, a new annual report will monitor the number of high school students who withdraw each year to attend home school.

Holliday said in an interview that he had no problem with parents who think home-schooling is appropriate for their children.

But he said in February that districts with an increase in numbers might need additional support with alternative programs, student support programs, and career and technical education.
Bullshit. Without state laws and regulations forcing "home schools" to use professional instructional materials and home-school "graduates" to pass strict testing before getting a diploma, all the "support programs" in the world are useless.

Kentucky does have one requirement regarding graduates of "home schools" and xian madrassas: state universities must accept them without question.

Not to worry though; they all flunk out first semester.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No, Sam: The Winner of Today's Repug Primary is NOT Jack Conway; He's the Loser

C'mon, Sam.  You've been in Kentucky long enough now to know that repug voters are never fractured, dismayed, discouraged or dissuaded from voting in the general election.  It doesn't matter which piece of shit "wins" the repug primary, because repug voters never vote for the repug nominee in November. They vote against the evulmuslincommieterrist running as the Democratic nominee.

That's what they live for: defeating Democratic candidates.  Nothing - not even the repug nomination of a likely abortionist, because driving your girlfriend to the clinic is the exact same thing - will stop them from turning out in droves to defeat Jack Conway and put a repug - any repug - in the Governor's mansion.

Comer will likely lose the primary today because of the abortion allegations, but if he wins somehow, every single anti-abortion freakazoid who voted for a different repug will be in line at 6 a.m. Nov. 3 to make sure the Democratic candidate goes down to ignominious defeat.

And then they will immediately start working on defeating every Democratic candidate in the state House in November 2016, so that the new consolidated repug regime in Frankfort can get down to the essential, buybull-mandated job of turning Kentucky into Somalia, just like Kansas repugs have done to their state.

The sun will come up Wednesday morning, and it will dawn on a fractured state Republican Party.
Going into Tuesday's primary, it is all but impossible to tell which Republican will emerge victorious.
But it's easy to see that the winner of the primary is Conway.

SNIP

They are divisions that have been around in some cases for 20 years, but now they are deeper, far more entrenched and a good reason for Kentucky Democrats to smile for the first time since before last November.

There are always concerns that a contentious primary might leave a party divided in the fall, but this primary has taken an unusually dark turn, and those fears are unusually well-founded.

To be sure, there is still hand-wringing within the Democratic Party. It's what they do, and it is appropriate given the state's increasingly conservative electorate.

There are concerns, born of Alison Lundergan Grimes' disastrous U.S. Senate race, that Conway did not do enough — or really anything — to define himself in the minds of voters this spring as the Republicans ripped one another to shreds.

This Isn't Public Safety; This Is Stealing From the Poor to Engorge Rich Corporations

We've all forgotten our Willie Sutton: You tax the fuck out of the rich for the same reason Willie robbed banks: because that's where the money is.

Stealing from the poor just impoverishes the rest of us.

Think Progress:

With federal action expected this summer to regulate the cost of prison phone calls, the National Sheriffs’ Association announced they may “significantly limit or eliminate altogether” the right of prisoners to make those calls.

Incarcerated people and their families — who are disproportionately low-income — have fought for decades against the often exorbitant rates charged for a phone call home by companies that hold exclusive contracts and provide kickbacks to the jails themselves.

In 2013, they appeared to win a major victory when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed an interim rule to cap the cost of calls between states at 25 cents per minute — meaning 15-minute calls that used to be as high as $17 could no longer cost more than $3.25. In announcing the change, the FCC said the current fee structure is “unjust and unreasonable.”

But this reform has sparked a revolt from those who benefited financially from the old system: the prison phone industry that makes more than a billion a year in profits, and the state and county governments that get “commissions” from those calls that they use to pad their budget. In some states, commissions make up as much as 94 percent of the cost of the call, funneling millions of dollars to cash-strapped local jurisdictions.

Deborah Golden, an attorney with the DC Prisoners’ Rights Project, told ThinkProgress she views these commissions as “another tax on poor people and people of color.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

These Marines Did Not Die in Vain

Because they weren't killing brown people or otherwise furthering U.S. imperialism.
The wreckage of a U.S. military helicopter lost on an earthquake relief mission in Nepal was found on Friday high on a mountainside, with all eight on board presumed dead, U.S. officials said.

A U.S. search team identified the wreckage as that of the missing Marines UH-1Y Huey helicopter deployed after the Himalayan state was hit by a massive earthquake last month that killed more than 8,000 people.

SNIP

The Huey went missing while it was distributing aid on Tuesday, the day a strong aftershock hit Nepal and killed more than 100 people.

Six Marines and two Nepali soldiers were on board when it went missing, after the crew was heard over the radio saying the aircraft was experiencing a fuel problem.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter mourned the loss of the Marines, and a Pentagon spokesman said U.S. officials were in touch with the families.

"This tragedy is a reminder of the vital but dangerous role that American servicemembers play in delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," Carter said in a statement.
SNIP

U.S. officials said the crash would not affect ongoing relief operations.

"We will continue to stand by Nepal as long as they need our help," Wissler told reporters.
That's the America people around the world love.  That's the America we should be all the time.