Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Are You Off Work Thanksgiving? Do Not Shop Where the Workers Aren't

On Thursday, most Americans will gather together with family and friends to have dinner and celebrate Thanksgiving. But not everyone will be able to enjoy the holiday the way they’d like.
Eleven brands say they will be open on Thanksgiving this year, requiring millions of workers to show up for shifts during the national holiday.

CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos

Bevin to Bankrupt Kentucky on Refugee Lawsuits

Our repug guv-elect said Kentucky won't accept them. That stupidity is going to cost Kentucky taxpayers millions.

Governors do not have the authority to block refugees from living in their states, since the federal government sets immigration policy. And experts say that targeting refugees from certain regions is unconstitutional and could invite lawsuits.

But the lawsuit filed by the ACLU notes that when Exodus had to redirect a Syrian refugee family to Connecticut at the last minute, the agency had to spend its own funds to find the family a new home.

"Exodus Refugee Immigration had expended both staff time and resources in preparing for the Syrian refugee family who did not come to Indiana. These resources were necessarily diverted from other projects and from assisting other refugees," the complaint reads.


In a statement issued in response to the ACLU lawsuit on Tuesday, Pence's office said that the state will continue to suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana.

Moron.  Stand up, Hoosiers and impeach this idiot before you lose everything.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's come to this. And it's just the beginning

White racists shooting unarmed and peaceful African-Americans?  Check

Police pepper-spraying the victims while the shooters get away?  Check

Authorities blaming the unarmed, peaceful protesters for bringing white violence down on themselves?  Check

Presidential candidates inciting the racist hatred and celebrating the violence?  Check and check and check.

A group of white supremacists opened fire on an encampment of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis on Monday night, according to witnesses. Five protesters were shot and sustained injuries.

The police are seeking three white male suspects. They were reportedly “wearing masks and bulletproof vests.

“I am obviously appalled that white supremacists would open fire on nonviolent, peaceful protesters,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said from the site of the shootings.

The encampment was in response to the shooting of of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot by the police on November 15.

The New York Times reports that some witnesses claimed “they had been sprayed with Mace by the police following the shooting.”
What's this?  A white mayor in Texas says that white supremacists are a greater danger than scary browns?
The mayor of Dallas is pushing back against politicians who say Americans should be skeptical of Syrian refugees, saying he is “more fearful” of armed white men than people fleeing civil war in the Middle East.

Speaking to MSNBC on Saturday morning, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was asked to discuss the growing anxiety over Syrian refugees entering the United States, purportedly over concerns they could be potential agents for militant groups such as ISIS. Rawlings staunchly rejected the assertion that Syrians are somehow uniquely prone to violence, saying he is more concerned with the rise of white supremacy and the recent flurry of mass shootings committed by white men.

“I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up, but we don’t isolate young white men on this issue,” Rawlings said.

Steve Beshear Pulls Cruel Joke with Voting Rights Executive Order

That order will last all of seven 14 days, one hour and 48 minutes from signing. Because one second after Bevin is sworn in on Dec. 8, he'll reverse this order.  Even before he issues his promised "Kim Davis is the jeebusiest jeebus lover in the world" executive order.

Shame on Beshear for giving false hope to people unjustly denied the right to vote.
Gov. Beshear Signs Executive Order Restoring Right to Vote, Hold Office to Certain Offenders
Order excludes persons convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 24, 2015) – Governor Steve Beshear today signed an executive order  that automatically restores the right to vote and hold public office to certain offenders once all terms of their sentences have been satisfied.

The order excludes persons convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason.

“The right to vote is one of the most intrinsically American privileges, and thousands of Kentuckians are living, working and paying taxes in the state but are denied this basic right,” Gov. Beshear said. “Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens. A key part of that transition is the right to vote.”

Under the terms of the order, for felons who are currently incarcerated or under probation or parole supervision, the Department of Corrections (DOC) will verify prior to issuing a restoration of civil rights that there are no pending criminal cases, charges or arrests, or outstanding court-ordered restitution. Individuals meeting those criteria will be granted automatic restoration and a certificate of Restoration of Civil Rights will be issued.

Individuals who have already left the correctional system may pick up a restoration of rights form at any Probation and Parole office, or by contacting the Department of Corrections at 502-782-2248 or online at, and return it to the address listed. DOC will verify whether they meet the criteria set out in the executive order. Offenders who do will have their voting rights restored “without undue delay” and receive a certificate of Restoration of Civil Rights in the mail.

Offenders who don’t meet the criteria for automatic restoration, including those convicted of federal crimes, may still individually apply to have the Governor restore their civil rights under the current restoration process.

“This approach strikes an effective balance between the need to re-enfranchise thousands of Kentuckians who have paid their debt to society, and the recognition that there are some crimes of such a nature that they require a more deliberative review,” Beshear said.

Under the state’s constitution, persons convicted of a felony are stripped of their rights to vote, hold public office, own a firearm or serve on a jury. Kentucky is one of only four states that does not automatically restore felons’ voting rights upon final discharge of their sentence. An estimated 180,000 Kentuckians have served out their sentence but lack the right to vote.

Today is a wonderful day for all Kentuckians,” said former state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, of Lexington. “The steps that Gov. Beshear has taken through this executive order will allow for democracy at its best.”

“Gov. Beshear should be congratulated,” said Sen. Gerald Neal, of Louisville. “Restoring the voting rights of ex-offenders enhances the credibility of the justice system in Kentucky. Kentucky now joins all but a few states in discarding this reactionary, useless restriction.”

“It has long been my belief that once offenders have paid restitution for their crimes, they deserve to have their voting rights restored,” said Sen. Denise Harper Angel, of Louisville. “As someone who has co-sponsored legislation numerous times to restore voting rights, I am very pleased that Gov. Beshear has taken this bold step to move Kentucky forward.”

“This is a major step toward fully re-integrating individuals into society who have paid for their past mistakes,” said Rep. Darryl T. Owens, of Louisville. “I appreciate the leadership of Jesse Crenshaw on this issue and I commend Gov. Beshear for taking this bold action.”

In signing the executive order two weeks before his terms ends, Beshear noted he has consistently supported legislative efforts to permit a constitutional referendum on restoration of rights, and wanted to allow that process to play out. When those efforts failed, he said, he waited under after the November election so as not to politicize the issue during the campaigns.

“The ACLU-KY applauds Gov. Beshear for taking an important step toward breaking down barriers to ballot boxes in Kentucky,” said Michael Aldridge, Kentucky executive director of the ACLU. “We know the Commonwealth’s disenfranchisement policies, some of the harshest in the country, have negatively impacted families and communities, especially those of color, by reducing their collective political voice. Studies have shown that individuals who vote are more likely to give to charity, volunteer, attend school board meetings, serve on juries and are more actively involved in their communities.”

Today’s order transforms the process for restoring voting rights in Kentucky and makes it accessible to thousands of Kentucky citizens, some of whom have waited many years for this,” said Tomas Lopez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “Everyone eligible should act now to take advantage of this important reform.”

Loving America ... and Kentucky

Looks like the theme for the 2016 elections is going to be "Democrats Hate America; Real Americans Vote Republican."

Here's an old but still relevant response:

"We[Liberals] love America just as much as they[Conservatives] do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world. That’s why we liberals want America to do the right thing. We know America is the hope of the world, and we love it and want it to do well."

-- Al Franken

Monday, November 23, 2015

Make Voting a Condition of Public Assistance

David Atkins is an excellent analyst of Democratic voting behavior, especially at the local level, but I think he misses the obvious solution on this one.

If formerly Democratic strongholds in Eastern Kentucky are going repug because the working class votes and the poor don't, the solution is not to keep digging the bottomless hole of pandering to the middle class.

The solution is to get the poor who are not voting out to the polls to vote.

And the way to do that is to provide government assistance only to people who prove they are voting.

Repugs are so enamored of piling conditions on people who are starving and homeless; Democrats should propose this one and make repugs explain why not.

It's the turnout, stupid.

David Atkins at Political Animal:

Alex McGillis at the New York Times has one of the most intriguing and important pieces of political analysis I’ve seen in quite some time today. Most of us are familiar with analyses reliant on racial and cultural resentments to explain why poor white communities seem to vote against their own interests: voters with racist tendencies and those who fear the changing of social mores vote for Republicans in order to thumb their nose at minorities and coastal social liberals—even if the impact of conservative policies is worst in their own communities. But McGillis’ analysis suggests that conservative voters in these areas are just as resentful of their white neighbors on public assistance, and that most of the poor whites on public assistance aren’t voting for Republicans but have simply stopping voting altogether:
In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.
McGillis points to data showing that people who struggle economically are most likely to hold liberal views on economics, but are also least likely to vote. The more they need government help, the less connected they feel to their communities and the less interested they become in politics. Crucially, 57% of these nonvoters are white—mostly living in conservative communities.

In the meantime, those who vote Republican in these areas are the ones doing somewhat better economically who feel not just sublimated racism and generalized cultural resentment against coastal elites, but also direct anger at the increasing number of their neighbors and acquaintances in need of assistance:

Democrats don’t really have a good answer for this problem. As a matter of public policy, obviously reducing inequality and improving working-class economics broadly should make progressive politics more palatable in these communities. But that’s a long-term project. From a communications standpoint, if voters are willing to give away tax breaks to Wall Street while intentionally voting for policies that will throw their friends and neighbors into the street and deny them lifesaving medical care, there’s not much you can do.

These mostly suburban and rural communities are infused with a Calvinist ethic that attributes success to moral virtue and failure to moral weakness. The cultural and psychological pull of that doctrine is incredibly powerful and buoyed by hucksters preaching the prosperity gospel that God will make you rich if you are faithful enough and want it badly enough. This toxic stew creates an instinct to push down the person below them rather than up against the person above them, and transcends simple racism and cultural resentment at this point.

From a communications standpoint, one approach Democrats can and should take is to strongly promote policies that not only help those who have fallen through the cracks, but also those who have middle-class jobs as well. Many of those policies already exist, but are hidden from voters in the form of tax credits rather than direct transfers. A more radical analysis would suggest that the forces of mechanization and globalization may require a universal basic income that would supplement the incomes of the employed and unemployed alike in a way that might make welfare payments seem fairer and more democratized to these voters. And, of course, a more full-throated progressive economic message (and laws that create easier access to voting) from Democrats may be able to encourage more of the downtrodden to make their voices heard at the polls.

Ultimately, though, there may be little Democrats can do to win over these surburban and rural white voters. Their shift to the GOP has been overwhelming, and if they’re willing to throw their friends and neighbors under the political bus there’s not all that much to be done. We can excuse it with economic, religious and social analysis, but at the end of the day that approach to life and ethics is usually described with negative moral language designed to invoke shame. Urban voters and minority communities don’t share this dog-eat-dog moral value system, and their numbers are growing. A more powerfully aggressive progressive politics and economic egalitarianism would likely help, but ultimately the solution may simply be a matter of waiting for demographic change and limiting the impact of gerrymandering designed to artificially increase the influence of these voters.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Arm Yourself for the Class War

Compared to the masters of the new Gilded Age, foreign terrorists are amateurs.

It's been going on for a very long time, and the obscenely rich are winning again, piling up victories that would shock their predecessors in the Gilded Age.

There is a class war going on in the New Gilded Age. If “war” is the term we want to use for “massacre of the defenseless.”
Time for everyone to update your Class War Calendars with the latest income inequality figures. The Economic Policy Institute this week released the most recent figures on wages, and here is what we learned:
The “annual earnings of the top 1.0 percent of wages earners grew 4.9 percent in 2014, and the top 0.1 percent’s earnings grew 8.9 percent.”
In the past year, wages of the entire bottom 99 percent of earners grew less than 2 percent.
The “earnings of workers between the 99th and 99.9th percentiles have reached their highest level of all time,” and the earnings of the top 0.1 percent were only higher in 2007, just before the global economy crashed.
Since 1979, when the Reagan era ushered in our current age of American inequality, average annual earnings of the bottom 90 percent have increased by 16.7 percent; average annual earnings of the top 1 percent have increased by 149.4 percent; and average annual earnings of the top 0.1 percent have increased by 324.4 percent. It is not just that the rich have more money than the rest of us; their income is also growing much faster than the income of most people.

Nuke the Saudis. Do It Now.

We've been fighting, overtly or covertly, in the Middle East for a century.  Yet despite battles in nearly every nation, we've never confronted the one country that is really the cause of it all.

At The Nation, Laila Lalami pointed a very direct finger at one kind of Muslim source of violence: the Wahhabi sect that has received vast subsidies from the Saudi government to spread its beliefs via propaganda, mosque construction, and “good works” in a not-so-good cause.
We must call to account the Saudi kings—Salman, Abdullah, and Fahd—whose funding of Wahhabi doctrine gave rise to the scourge of Islamic extremism.
When I was a child in Morocco, no clerics told me what to do, what to read or not read, what to believe, what to wear. And if they did, I was free not to listen. Faith was more than its conspicuous manifestations. But things began to change in the 1980s. It was the height of the Cold War and Arab tyrants saw an opportunity: They could hold on to power indefinitely by repressing the dissidents in their midst—most of them secular leftists—and by encouraging the religious right wing, with tacit or overt approval from the United States and other Western allies. Into the void created by the decimation of the Arab world’s secular left, the Wahhabis stepped in, with almost unlimited financial resources. Wahhabi ideas spread throughout the region not because they have any merit—they don’t—but because they were and remain well funded. We cannot defeat ISIS without defeating the Wahhabi theology that birthed it. And to do so would require spending as much effort and money in defending liberal ideas….
 The beheadings, the crucifixions, the destruction of cultural heritage that ISIS practices—none of these are new. They all happened, and continue to happen, in Saudi Arabia too. The government of Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people this year than ISIS. It persecutes Shias and atheists. It has slowly destroyed sites of cultural and religious significance around Mecca and Medina. To almost universal indifference, it has been bombing Yemen for seven months. Yet whenever terror strikes, it escapes notice and evades responsibility. In this, it is aided and abetted by Western governments, who buy oil from tyrants and sell them weapons, while paying lip service to human rights.
Not to mention nurturing and funding the 9-11 terrorists.

Military intervention has done nothing but exacerbated the problems in the Middle East.  But we've never tried military intervention in Saudi Arabia.

Nuke the Saudis.  Do it now.

Friday, November 20, 2015

George Does It Again

Just. Nails. The. Motherfuckers. To. The. Wall.

On Wednesday, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, wrote a controversial letter explaining why his administration won't be welcoming Syrian refugees. The letter from Mayor David Bowers invoked America's history of interning Japanese Americans during World War II as a precedent for his own actions. He wrote, "President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then."

Star Trek actor turned internet celebrity George Takei takes this subject very personally, because he was one of the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were targeted by Roosevelt's policies. And in a powerful Facebook post, he pointed out that the lesson Bowers has drawn from this history is totally wrong:
1) The internment (not a "sequester") was not of Japanese "foreign nationals," but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It is my life’s mission to never let such a thing happen again in America.

2) There never was any proven incident of espionage or sabotage from the suspected "enemies" then, just as there has been no act of terrorism from any of the 1,854 Syrian refugees the U.S. already has accepted. We were judged based on who we looked like, and that is about as un-American as it gets.

3) If you are attempting to compare the actual threat of harm from the 120,000 of us who were interned then to the Syrian situation now, the simple answer is this: There was no threat. We loved America. We were decent, honest, hard-working folks. Tens of thousands of lives were ruined, over nothing.

Cowards Who Think America is Weak

This is simple: If you say that the United States or your state or your city or your little shithole by the ditch should ban refugees from Syria because ISIS fighters or Islamic terrorists or Sharia-packin' mules might get into the nation. you are a pussy. Because what you are saying is that you are so afraid of a couple of goatfuckers getting through and blowing themselves up that you would rather cringe in the dark and hide. And you think the nation is so pathetic and weak that those goatfuckers could actually have a shot at destroying Our Way of Life (spoiler: they don't).

Repugs Already Taking Over KY House While Dems Lick Wounds

Three Democrats are all that stand between Kentucky and the anti-government catastrophe that will be guv Bevin with a repug legislature. Three more Dem losses and we're fucking Kansas, on our way to being Haiti. 

State Rep. Denver Butler, a longtime Democrat from Louisville, filed Thursday to seek re-election as a Republican — a move designed to help the GOP win control of the Kentucky House next year for the first time in about 90 years.

Butler, a retired homicide police sergeant who has been in the state House since 2013, said in an email that he made the party switch “after a great deal of thought, reflection and prayer.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Butler’s announcement, noting that Butler’s father had also been a Democratic state lawmaker.

“In short, I find it hard to believe that he made this decision, but we will field a strong candidate in this district, which has been reliably Democratic,” Stumbo said. “Our caucus remains strong.”
No, Greg: your caucus is falling apart. Filing deadline for 2016 elections is January 29. By then, you may not still have the majority.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Repug Pants-Wetters Determined to Create Radical Muslims in America

Their hysteria over muslinterrists under the bed is pure projection: America's real domestic terrorists are the very right-wing, freakazoid gun nuts repugs have been growing and cherishing for 60 years.

And now their screaming hate-mongering is going to create in reality the myth they lie about.
Michael Cohen makes a good point in this column about the various myths surrounding the Paris attacks and US policy toward ISIS:
Myth No. 1: America Is Next

From the pages of Politico to the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” this argument has been made repeatedly since Friday night, and it demonstrates a glaring ignorance about the differences between the U.S. and Europe when it comes to vulnerability to terrorism.

The biggest difference is that the United States simply doesn’t have a radicalized Muslim population, as is the case in France and elsewhere in Europe. That matters a lot because foreign terrorists operating in the United States, especially in a post-9/11 environment, would need local assistance, safe houses, access to weapons and explosives, logistical support and more. In short, they would need Americans, or people who know American culture and who can operate in the country freely. Yet, in the 14 years since 9/11, there’s been no serious emergence of radicalization among American Muslims. The Fort Hood shooter and the Boston Marathon bombers are obvious exceptions, but exceptions nonetheless.
Europe is a very different kettle of fish than the US. They have large Muslim populations with long-standing social unrest and cultural alienation. It's quite possible that the radicalization, at least among some of them, has as much to do with their own issues as Europeans as it has with their religion or solidarity with the aims of ISIS.

We have not had this in the US. But from the way the Republicans are acting, it appears we're jealous and would like to get some. At the very least they seem petulant that we aren't in the center of the  fight. Treating Muslims like aliens and talking about closing mosques and rounding up and interning or deporting them is one way to get there.

Keep it up boys. This demagoguery may very well keep out Syrian refugees but if you want to create some American homegrown Islamic radicals you're doing a heckuva job.

Choosing Brave and Smart Over Scared and Stupid

Ever notice how real heroes are never the ones screaming "OMG we're all gonna die!"

I've been aghast at the panic stricken bellowing coming from mainstream US media in the wake of Paris and needless to say, Fox News has been worse than most.  But once in awhile someone surprises you. Here's Fox's Shep Smith:
In the face of terror, will we panic or be calm and deliberative in approach?” Smith asked in a 90-second monologue. “Confronted with those who want to change our way of life, will we abandon our freedoms and the rights granted to us by the creator, or will we welcome huddled masses, yearning to breathe free? Will we take extreme measures to fundamentally alter who and what we are?” 
“Our shining city on a hill is vulnerable,” he continued. “We’ve always known that. If we change it to accommodate the savages, have they won? And what then would be left to protect? We profess to stand as an example for all the world. Our unique experiment in freedom, tolerance, openness, and equality, is our gift to societies and peoples everywhere. Come, join us. Enjoy a chance at the American dream.” 
He concluded, “Today we mourn but we cannot allow ourselves to become like those who want to destroy us. We cannot resort to tactics of the barbarians. We must fight for what we believe in and who we are. Guard our freedoms faithfully for the generations to follow. And we must not let the rhetoric of potential and political extremists among us lead us to self-destruction. When there’s panic, we show resolve. When there’s calm for extremism, we resist. We are America. We must lead.”

Cut Administrators and Tuition, Not Faculty

Wonder why UK tuition is so ridiculously high even while tenured faculty is shrinking and temps are teaching what professors should be? That tuition is going to pay for too many non-teaching administrators.

Top level administrators are being hired at the University of Kentucky at more than twice the rate of full-time faculty, according to UK employee statistics.

The number of upper-level administrators rose 21 percent from 2007-08 to 2014-15, compared to an 8 percent increase in full-time teaching faculty during the same period. That’s a net gain of 100 people in each category.

Full-time faculty have been augmented by specialist and administrative faculty, bringing the total growth in faculty to 12 percent. Specialist and administrative faculty are researchers, librarians and administrators who also teach in addition to their other duties.

Student enrollment grew about 13 percent at UK during the seven-year period.