Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Occupy the Food Supply

This is why I'm not worried about the "future of the Occupy movement." Occupy is here to stay, because Occupy has given us a way to fight back. Everywhere the One Percent is abusing, exploiting and generally making life more difficult for the 99 Percent, protesters now have a way to fight back that the whole world instantly understands and sympathizes with - Occupy!

Occupiers understand that it does not get any more fundamental than the right to control what we eat. Monsanto and Big Ag are trying to steal that right from us.

From Common Dreams:

OWS Stands With Farmers, Says Enough! to Monsanto

Movement is calling for protests to support 60 family farmers, small seed businesses, organizations challenging Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has highlighted the tremendous corporate greed and power that has benefited the 1%.

One company helping the 1% is Monsanto. Food Democracy Now! writes that:

Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.

Monsanto's genetically modified seed can contaminate non-gmo fields allowing the company to sue for seed theft. Food Democracy Now! continues:

In many cases farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

Today, the Occupy movement is seizing the moment to highlight this corporate power.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) writes:

On January 23, over 20,000 people poured into the streets of Berlin to say that they have had enough of industrial agriculture. The demands made in Germany can be heard all over the world starting with fair treatment of farmers and consumers, safe food, an end to food speculation and a respect for nature and the welfare of animals.

[Today], in New York City, the Occupy Wall Street movement is calling for protests to support 60 family farmers, small and family-owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations that are challenging Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed in federal court.

Like the Germans, it time for us to say, “We’ve had enough!” of Monsanto’s agriculture. From super weeds to pest resistance in corn, genetically modified seeds have failed. Now Monsanto is turning to even more dangerous products with new varieties that will only increase the amount of herbicides in the environment.

At the heart of industrial agriculture is a long running conflict between corporations and farmers on who will control food production. Occupy Wall Street has come out on the side of farmers and all who eat to say, “We’ve had enough!”

Writing on the Care2, Beth Buczynski adds this background:

On January 31st, family farmers from across the county will take part in the first phase of the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and open them up to abusive lawsuits.

As a result of aggressive lawsuits against farmers with contaminated crops, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

But farmers are fighting back! The Federal District Court judge has agreed to hear oral arguments in this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward.

Occupy Wall Street Food Justice, Occupy Big Food and Food Democracy Now! will assemble in solidarity with farmers on the front lines of the struggle against corporate domination of our food system.

Annoy a One-Percenter: Plant a Victory Garden.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Draft Dodger Rag"

Uploaded by farmboy10001

Bullet-to-the-Head Budget Cuts

Deborah Yetter at the Courier makes a point that needs to be repeated forcefully and frequently: state budget cuts in social services cost not only human lives, but tax dollars.

Services for elderly and disabled Kentuckians are facing another round of budget cuts over the next two years — which could force more people into nursing homes and ultimately cost the state even more to care for them, according to lawmakers and advocates.

“We’re almost to the catastrophic point in aging services,” said Rep. Jimmie Lee, an Elizabethtown Democrat, speaking at a meeting of the House human services budget subcommittee, of which he is chairman.

Rep. Jim Wayne, a Louisville Democrat, agreed. “I think it should concern everyone.”

Advocates said the state must find a way to fund services such as meals on wheels and personal in-home care, contending that the demand will only increase as Kentucky’s population ages.

“I don’t think people understand what’s coming,” said Ellen Kershaw, representing the state’s Alzheimer’s Association. “We are very concerned.”

The Courier-Journal, in a series of stories in 2010, reported that advocates are predicting a “silver tsunami” of elderly residents in Kentucky as the population ages. By 2030, the number of Kentucians over 60 is expected to hit 1.2 million — about one-quarter of the state’s population.

Yet state officials have done little to address the needs of the elderly and disabled, continuing to cut scarce resources — a move guaranteed to force more people into nursing homes, the most costly care and most often funded through Medicaid, advocates said.

That assumes, of course, that teabagging repugs and their fellow-traveling conservadems will respond to the desperate needs of elderly and disabled Kentuckians by actually paying for that more expensive care.

Silly Deborah: they'll just let the surplus population die in the streets, as an object lesson to others who might think their tax dollars are meant for anyone but the already obscenely wealthy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Barrier Falls


From the Navy News Service:

Five "Tigertails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two Five (VAW-125), embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as part of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17), flew an historic flight on Jan. 25 when they participated in the Navy's first all-female E-2C Hawkeye combat mission.

Carrier Aircraft Plane Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tara Refo, Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr. Brandy Jackson, Second Pilot Lt. Ashley Ruic, Air Control Officer Lt. Nydia Driver, and Radar Operator Lt. j. g. Ashley Ellison flew an E-2C Hawkeye- the Navy's all-weather, carrier-based tactical battle management airborne early warning and command and control aircraft. The aircraft was also manned up by multiple female maintainers including Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class LaTasha Lawrence, Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Farzana Lively, Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Ana Wilson, Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Denise Birchfield, and Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Racheal Watson who ensured the safe launch and recovery.

"I have only had the opportunity to fly with one other female pilot," Ruic said. "It is nice to be a part of history, not just because we are females, but because we are also close friends. It was a unique experience."

Ellison added, "We got the mission accomplished and had fun at the same time. It was a flight I will never forget."

"Since April 2011, when Ellison checked on board as the fifth female in the squadron, we have been attempting to organize the all-female combat mission flight. Due to operational constraints, it had not been possible until now," stated Jackson, the squadron's operations officer.

The Tigertails are one of twelve active-duty VAW squadrons in the Navy. Eleven are carrier-based, but as Driver explained, VAW-125 is the only fleet Hawkeye squadron with enough females to fill a complete flight crew.

*Air Control Officer Lt. Nydia Williams, left, Radar Operator Lt. j.g. Ashley Ellison, Plane Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tara Refo, Pilot Lt. Ashley Ruic, and Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr. Brandy Jackson, all assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, pose for a photo before flying the first all-female-crewed combat mission in an E-2C Hawkeye aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/Released)

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Roll On, Columbia"

Uploaded by uomedia:

In spring 1941, the cusp of the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor, a 28 year old, unemployed Dust Bowl balladeer, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie took a one month, temporary job with the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on the Columbia River. The BPA needed a folksinger to promote the benefits of building dams to produce cheap electricity. Guthrie, and his wife and 3 kids needed the paycheck. He wrote 26 songs in 30 days - classics like Roll on Columbia and Pastures of Plenty. This documentary is the story of the most prolific moment in Guthrie's extraordinary career. To order the complete video, visit:


Eating Too Much and Wasting Even More

Is it ironic or fitting that the generation who grew up hearing "clean your plate - children are starving in China" now presides over an economy that - despite majority obesity - wastes more food than it consumes?

Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars:

The theme of the show The Big Waste was to ask two sets of Food Network chefs to prepare a meal with ingredients that were considered waste. I'm not talking about green bologna sandwiches. Even these chefs, with decades of experience in the restaurant industry, were genuinely shocked by the sheer volume of perfectly good foods that are thrown away daily. In an age where one in four children go to bed hungry, it's hard not to be shocked at the routine waste that could answer so many needs.

Enormous food waste is the result of the old way of thinking about the agricultural economic model.

- When food prices fall below expectations or are driven lower by “Big Ag”, small farmers see themselves as having no choice but to waste tons of perfectly good food because the cost of bringing that food to market would generate an economic loss.

- As seen on "The Big Waste", grocery stores routinely throw away tons of perfectly good produce and meats due to small imperfections in appearance. Some store chains such as Whole Foods takes some of this excess product and gives it to local food pantries, but most of it ends up in landfills and compost heaps.

- Many distributors of food products routinely waste hundreds of tons of food product as a means of price control and profit protection. When these distributors find themselves with excess product with a low shelf life, they would prefer to throw it in the garbage than to sell it at a discount in order to protect the original price of the product.

One of the segments of The Big Waste involved chef Bobby Flay going to a pick-your-own farm and discovering that waste accounts for 40-50% of the crops, because too often, customers will cut produce and then see some small imperfection, or a better/larger example of the produce and toss the rejected produce back on the ground. A small grocery in NYC acknowledged that they routinely throw out around eighty pounds of produce daily because they know customers won't select the produce with cosmetic imperfections, broken stems, etc. Eggs are thrown away because of discoloring on the shells, or that they're too large or small for egg containers. Whole chickens are discarded because the skin breaks or bones are broken during the butchering process. All told, some 27 million tons of perfectly edible food is thrown away every year.

I've searched through the Food Network site in vain to find when the show will re-air. Unfortunately and quite inexplicably, Food Network is not promoting this show at all. I can't find clips on Hulu or YouTube either. But please, if you want an eye-opening experience, find this show. And the next time you're in the grocery store, don't be afraid of a little blemish. If more people paid less attention to cosmetic appearances and more to nutritional content, it would be better for all. CookingMatters offers ten additional tips to help individuals waste less food.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sympathy for the Tax Man

Mitt Romney, bless his inherited-wealth-heart, has given us all a glimpse of some of the ways the obscenely rich multiply their billions by avoiding the tax man.

But that scenario depends on enough tax collectors to actually threaten the untaxed rich with having to pay.

As the Associated Press reported, "every dollar the Internal Revenue Service spends for audits, liens and seizing property from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good the Obama administration wants to boost the agency's budget." It's an easy way to reduce the deficit: You don't have to cut heating oil for the poor or Pell grants for students. You just have to make people pay what they owe."

This problem actually started under Reagan, who deliberately under-staffed the IRS despite the fact that each additional IRS agent increased revenue by more than her salary and benefits. In other words, unlike at most agencies, at the IRS hiring more people increases government revenue.

But the repugs couldn't have more IRS agents cracking down on rich parasites and forcing the obscenely wealthy to actually pay the taxes they owe, so funding for IRS agents got slashed, and government revenues plummeted.

Seems neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama, for all their concern about deficits and jobs, ever figured out the easiest way to both create jobs and increase revenue: hire more - lots more - IRS agents.


Before Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney enter a bidding war over who will volunteer more of their millions to reduce the deficit, the government could recoup many billions of dollars every year if Congress just made it easier for the Treasury to collect what it’s already owed by law.

Meet the tax gap — the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid.

Via the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the IRS has found that in 2006, taxpayers shorted the government by about $385 billion — and an additional $65 billion was paid late. Back then, the tax gap was bigger than the annual budget deficit. With the economy still suffering, that’s likely not true today. But closing it even partially would take substantial pressure off of strained federal programs, which have been under constant attack by the GOP for over a year.

As you can see, the tax gap is on the order of the government’s biggest expenditure categories, and dwarfs the voluntary contributions Republicans suggest wealthy liberals like Buffett should volunteer to the Treasury.

Everyone Demanding Drug Tests for Others Has to Pass One First

At least they're practically admitting they're just playing for the Reichwing fascist vote.

Roger Alford of AP in the Herald:

Legislation that would require welfare recipients to be tested for drug use is gaining popularity among Kentucky lawmakers, more than 50 of whom have signed on as co-sponsors.

It doesn't matter that the measure stands little chance of passing into law. In a legislative election year, incumbents want their names on proposals that tend to be popular with blue-collar voters, as this one is.

"Everybody says they're for it," said state Rep. Lonnie Napier, the Lancaster Republican who has been pushing the measure for the past two years. "I can't go anywhere unless I'm stopped by people, and they tell me they support that bill and ask, 'How can I help you?'"


So far this year, measures have been introduced in 24 states that would require testing of people receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. In 14 states, the proposals would require testing of people receiving any type of welfare assistance, including food stamps.

Few are likely to pass, including the one in Kentucky that is expected to be quashed by state Rep. Tom Burch, chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee. Burch said he didn't allow a vote on the proposal in his committee last year, and he said he had no intention of relenting this time around.

The Louisville Democrat said the bill unfairly targets the neediest of Kentucky residents - single mothers and children who depend on welfare programs for survival.


Michael Aldridge, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said he's hopeful the legislation stays mired in Burch's committee.

"Basically, it's a violation of an individual's right to privacy," Aldridge said. "Most every American uses federal government funds on some level, whether it be for health benefits, or whether it be to the extreme of receiving welfare. And we don't think that one individual's rights should be subject to a higher level of scrutiny. We're not testing every American who receives any type of federal benefit."

Guess Napier hasn't read this:

When Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed the law requiring welfare recipients to pass annual drug tests to collect benefits, he justified the likely unconstitutional law by saying it would save the state money by keeping drug users from using public money to subsidize their drug habits. Drug use, Scott claimed, was higher among welfare recipients than among the rest of the population.

Preliminary results from the state’s first round of testing, however, has seemingly proven both of those claims false. Only 2 percent of welfare recipients failed drug tests, meaning the state must reimburse the cost of the $30 drug tests to the 96 percent of recipients who passed drug tests (two percent did not take the tests). After reimbursements, the state’s savings will be almost negligible, the Tampa Tribune reports.

Everybody who thinks the percentage of Kentucky General Assembly members who would test positive for illegal drugs is less than two, stand on your head. Among repugs, I doubt it's less than half.

Hey, David Williams: prove me wrong! Have every repug state senator publicly tested for every illegal drug available in Kentucky. They get tax money for doing nothing, and they're a negative drag on the economy and reputation of the Commonwealth - test the motherfuckers!

Read why courts - included the Supreme Court - have ruled such drug testing unconstitutional on its face here.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Ludlow Massacre"

Uploaded by ReformingMe:

Refers to the violent deaths of 20 people, 11 of them children, during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families in Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914.

Meet the Man David Williams Wants to See Dead

It's better to be hated than ignored by Kentucky legislators, especially if your calling is protecting Kentucky citizens from corruption.

John Cheves at the Herald:

Richard Beliles sat in Gov. Steve Beshear's office foyer on a recent morning, staging his weekly protest of mountaintop-removal coal mining, when Senate President David Williams walked by and suggested that he kill himself.

"He said, 'Are you occupying the office?' I said yes. He said, 'Well, why don't you set yourself on fire? Why don't you immolate yourself?' And then he left," said Beliles, who is recovering from cancer treatment. "It was a strange thing for David to say. It sort of shook me up."

Through a spokeswoman, Williams later said he clearly was joking by suggesting the protest would be more effective with Beliles ablaze.

Beliles, who turns 78 on Tuesday, is a soft-spoken, genial man — and one of the more deeply resented figures at the Capitol.

He earned this animosity as chairman of the Kentucky chapter of Common Cause, a national advocacy group that describes its mission as "curbing the excessive influence of money on government and promoting fair elections." It's only one of his many causes (hence, his weekly coal-mining protests), but it's the one that most defines him.

For 22 years, without pay, Beliles has driven to Frankfort from his suburban Louisville home to lobby for stronger government ethics laws. He files ethics complaints, as he did to Williams in 2007 after the Republican senator sponsored a lunch where lobbyists were asked to help raise $50,000 in campaign funds in apparent violation of the law. (Williams said it was a mistake by his aides, and the complaint was dismissed). He is quoted as the scolding voice of integrity in news stories when politicians get caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

None of this has won him many friends in the crowd that runs state government.

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, in Civilized Countries ...

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

• Britain allows TV ads for abortion clinics, or in other words, a clinic offering a legal medical procedure can advertise for that procedure. So, good.

Back home, via Digby:

"The most obvious thing was the 2010 election. While the headlines were all about the changing command in the House of Representatives, what we were seeing was a tidal wave of new pro-life legislators in state houses. When we saw this big wave come in, we were ready to grab the ball and run with it. Last year, 28 laws that we were involved with passed. It was breathtaking."

Another reminder that criminalizing or even restricting abortion doesn't stop abortion; it just kills women.

This fascinating story of pre-Roe abortion is important reading if you give a damn about this topic. People weren't less moral then. But they had abortions. Lot's of them. They always have.

And here's Digby introducing the video below:

You don't see the argument made this openly very often and it's too bad. The capitulation to the idea that it's a horrible thing that can be eliminated if we only put our minds to ending unwanted pregnancy was a mistake. It is what it is, what it always has been. A reality, regardless of its legality.

As that video says, women should be able to exercise this right safely and with dignity. Instead, in many places, they have to run through a gauntlet of screaming protesters and even endure an unwanted, medically unnecessary vaginal probe with the express purpose of shaming them into childbirth against their will.

As that video points out --- most women who have abortions are already mothers. It's not as if they don't know what's at stake.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shop & Share Next Saturday, Feb. 4

We all know someone who has been the victim of domestic violence, whether we realize it or not. Shelters for them are always the last to be funded and the first to be cut, despite being literal life-savers for those who can find safety nowhere else.

From Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear, who is light years better in every way than her husband:

Saturday, Feb. 4 is our annual Shop and Share Day to benefit victims of domestic violence.

On this day, volunteers will be at Kentucky Kroger stores from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. collecting donated goods for 15 Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA) shelters across the state. We’re also happy to have 13 Food City stores in Eastern Kentucky join us in collecting items for the first time this year.

If you don’t have time to shop on Feb. 4, you can still “share” by donating goods to bins in state office buildings. Shop and Share bins are located in the central lobbies of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the State Office Building and outside the Governor’s Office in the State Capitol.

Please remember that shelters need more than just canned food to help support victims. They also need items such as toiletries, diapers and school supplies.

If you want to volunteer on Shop and Share Day, please visit http://firstlady.ky.gov/Pages/shopshare.aspx.

Our domestic violence shelters do a remarkable job helping victims to get back on their feet and regain control of their lives. Donating to Shop and Share is a simple way to help these shelters make a difference in victims’ lives.

And don't forget, direct cash donations to your local shelter are always needed and welcome.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Pretty Boy Floyd"

From Down with Tyranny:

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

-- from Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd" (as
published, not word for word what Woody sings here)

"We were sent here to serve the American people."

This isn’t about me. We weren’t sent here to wage perpetual political campaigns against each other. We were sent here to serve the American people. And they deserve better than gridlock and games. One senator gumming up the works for the whole country is certainly not what our founding fathers envisioned.

The truth is, neither party has been blameless in tactics like these. But it’s time for both parties to put an end to them. I’m asking Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to stop this kind of behavior by passing a rule that allows all judicial and public service nominations a simple up-or-down vote within 90 days.

Yes, Mr. President, it is too about you. You're the ni**er in the White House and they won't stop until you're gone.

And no, both parties are not to blame. You've seen those graphs of the number of filibusters staged by each party and so have we: repugs have staged more in the last three years than Democrats have staged in the last seven decades.

Stop insulting our intelligence, stop pandering to people who will never, ever vote for you, stop pretending there's some "vast middle" of voters you can win over, and get down to the real work of shoving an anti-Wall-Street agenda down the repugs' throats.

Full transcript here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Trust Women: Join the Virtual March

Trust Women was started by the late martyr Dr. John Tiller to support a woman's right to abortion.

Dr. George Tiller was an inspiration to reproductive health care professionals and advocates. We at Trust Women shared his vision of an America where women could, without burden, control their reproductive lives, have healthy pregnancies, and deliver safely.

For many women here in the United States, these basic rights are out of reach. That’s why Trust Women will expand abortion care and maternal health care to tens of thousands of women by opening more clinics.

In every state where we open a clinic, we will create model policy agendas to expand access to care. We will build deep community support for these services and the policy makers who stand up for them.

Trust Women will:

Open clinics that provide abortion and maternal health care; full spectrum reproductive health care.
Build community investment in those clinics.
Create model state public policies to expand abortion care and improve maternal health.

We will do this in the Midwest and the South, where women’s reproductive rights have been limited more than in any other region of the country. We will measure our success by the number of women in this region who can easily access abortion and who have healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. Period.

During this anniversary week of Roe v. Wade, they are collecting signatures for a "virtual march" on Washington to support abortion rights.

Today is the last day, but they are still short of their goal of 20,000 signatures.

Join the virtual march by clicking here and signing to support the one right from which all other rights for women flow: the right to control her own body.

Of Horses, Parks, Budgets and Horses' Asses

Taking $50 million away from schools and giving $40 million to a Flintstones Truther Park that will never get built is not the only way un-Democratic Kentucky Governor Steve "Pants on Fire Lyin'" Beshear has totally fucked the state budget.

The cowardly weasel has slashed the state parks budget every year he's been in office, to the point that parks employees are working so few hours that they are losing their benefits and are having to take food stamps and Medicaid.

Kentucky's second-biggest industry - more profitable and employing more people than does Big Coal - is tourism. Kentucky's state parks are the state's crown jewels, and cutting their budget is a knife to the state's economic jugular.

Ironically, the only state park likely to get more money - a bunch more money - from the state is the one state park that declared itself so fucking special a few years ago that it's not even part of the state park system, but has its own fundraising foundation.

Linda B. Blackford and Beth Musgrave at the Herald:

As most state agencies brace for dramatic budget cuts, the Kentucky Horse Park could be getting millions of additional dollars.

In Gov. Steve Beshear’s recommended budget, the Horse Park faces no budget cuts, and instead would receive an additional $3.5 million increase this fiscal year, plus another $1.6 million each year of the next two-year budget.

State officials told lawmakers on Tuesday that the funds are needed to cover operational shortfalls that stem from utility costs for roughly 264,000 square feet of new facilities built at the park in anticipation of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Lawmakers said they want to hear more before agreeing to increase the park’s funding.

The Horse Park is a fabulous place, and I strongly recommend you visit it. But it has a fundraising arm Kentucky's State Parks don't, and giving it money taken from parks that are really hurting is just plain stupid.

Kenin NY at Down with Tyranny nails it:

Here's how Jim Hightower begins this column, happily passed along by the invaluable Nation of Change:

"Sorry, we're closed." In one of the saddest signs of the times, this message is popping up all across the country, as governors and legislators are cutting off funds (and shutting off access) to one of the finest, most popular assets owned by the people of our country: state parks.

The logic is familiar by now: If God had meant for us to have amenities like parks, if he felt we deserved amenities like parks, he would have made us rich enough to afford amenities like parks -- and He would probably have probably come up with one of His famously mysterious ways to scam it so that somebody else paid for them. (Rich people just love it when they can get somebody else to pay for their stuff. And I'm sure they can direct us to any number of bought-and-paid-for clergyfolk who''ll explain that this too is part of God's mysterious plan.)

Jim takes a rather different view, as you might expect from one of those goddamn liberal class warriors. "Parks," he writes, "are a tangible expression of America's democratic ideals,"

literally a common ground for every man, woman and child to enjoy, learn, absorb . . . or just be. Especially for the middle class and the poor -- the great majority of our people who can't jet off to luxury resorts for a getaway for vacation -- these spaces offer a form of real wealth, something of great value that each of us literally "owns," knitting us together as a community and nation.

In the wonderful world of Austerity, however, it's a perfect time to hack away at this blatant waste of what should properly be Rich People's Money, the way most all money should be Rich People's Money, at least in the minds of Rich People, and goodness knows they've gone a long way toward making it so.

"Spiritually shriveled, small-minded and short-sighted" he calls the state officials who "are snuffing out this invaluable, uniting social force." (Come on, Jim, isn't any "uniting social force" by definition class warfare?)

The majority of states have been closing many of their parks, slashing hours and services at others or simply handing the public's asset to profiteering corporations. Idaho's governor has proposed eliminating the entire parks department; California shut the gates of a fourth of the state's parks last year; officials in Arizona and Florida intend to privatize their parks; Washington state has cut off most of its park funding; and Ohio has okayed oil drilling in its parks to replace state financing.

As Woody Guthrie said of outlaws, "Some'll rob you with a six gun/Some with a fountain pen." This is theft by the in-laws, the political insiders who're stealing The People's property -- stealing from America itself.

At least in the case of his home state, Texas, Jim isn't being poetic or metaphorical when he talks about those "spiritually shriveled, small-minded and short-sighted state officials" stealing The People's property." He's here to tell us a tale.

Things tend to be bigger here -- bigger hair and hats, for example, bigger money and egos . . . and bigger thievery by political con men.

Last year, the gang of GOP hucksters who control our state government pulled off a huge heist, covering it up with an equally huge boast: "We balanced our budget. Not by raising taxes but by setting priorities and cutting government spending," bragged the gang leader, Gov. Rick "Oops" Perry. How'd they fill the $27 billion shortfall that they themselves had created by their previous budgetary mismanagement? By stealing money from already poorly funded programs -- from education to parks -- that ordinary Texans count on.

People here are justly proud of their 94 parks, but many of these treasures are now understaffed, open fewer hours and in disrepair because the system's budget was whacked by 21.5 percent in order to spare the wealthiest families and corporations in this enormously rich state from paying a teensy bit more in taxes.

But that was only part of the robbery. A state sales tax on sporting goods, dedicated by law to help finance the people's parks will generate about $236 million this year and next. But the governor and his legislative henchmen raided this pile of revenue, filching two-thirds of it for the state's general fund so they could claim that they "balanced our budget (without) raising taxes."

To replenish some of the tax money taken by The Perry Gang, the head of parks for the Great State of Texas is now engaged in a shocking spectacle: public begging. In a video played at 11 December press conferences in state parks across Texas, the chief of a major state agency is reduced to shaking a tin cup, pleading for $4.6 million in donations. "Please act now to help keep our state parks open for all Texans to enjoy," he beseeches.

These right-wing politicians howl that they want to shrink government -- but they are the shrunken ones, and the narrowness of their vision is diminishing what it means to be American.

Sorry to say, it ain't just Texas.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Alice's Restaurant"

I saw Arlo Guthrie perform this live in concert - the whole thing. It is well worth the time.

Uploaded by shrub555:

The FULL song all in one video...
Arlo Guthrie- Alice's Restaurant
This is on the new album called the massacre revisited.
This was originally released in 1967 off of the album "Alices Restaurant". It was used in the movie "Alices Restaurant" in 1969. This rendition of it was done by Arlo in the 90's.

Lyrics here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Rape the Sluts" Bill Back in Kentucky Lege

What is it about "forced penetration of the vagina is rape" that these motherfuckers don't understand?

Never mind; they understand it perfectly. Go watch these perverts debate this thing. The mere thought of forcing uterine cameras deep into crying, protesting women seeking abortions gives them all massive hard-ons.

From the Herald:

A Senate committee approved two bills on Thursday that would place more restrictions on women seeking abortions.

Republican Sen. Jack Westwood of Erlanger, who is chairman of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, said he hopes the bills will reduce the number of abortions in Kentucky.

One bill would require women to have ultrasounds prior to abortion. The other would clarify existing law by requiring women to have a face-to-face consultation with a physician, licensed nurse, physician's assistant or physician-delegated social worker prior to having an abortion.

Sen. Perry Clark, a Louisville Democrat, said that similar proposals have been included in a single bill in years past, but the sponsors are politicizing the issue by dividing them into separate measures this year.

Don't be fooled. The "ultrasound" is not an external ultrasound with a goop-covered computer mouse rubbed on the belly. The "ultrasound" this bill requires is internal and beyond merely "invasive:" it's a camera on a probe shoved up the vagina and deep into the uterus. It's painful and horrifically traumatic. It is against her will. It's rape.

(And no, morons, you don't have to use a penis to rape. Anything that forcibly penetrates is an instrument of rape.)

Your tax dollars at work. Forcing doctors to rape their patients. For the sole purpose of shaming women into back-alley, illegal abortions.

Because making abortion illegal - or just expensive, inconvenient, difficult and/or humiliating - doesn't reduce the number of abortions. It only reduces the number of women who survive them.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy by: "Union Label"

Listen up, children: not so long ago the question wasn't "is it made in America;" the question was "is it made by American union members." The competition 30 years ago wasn't between slave labor in Asia and wage-slave labor in America; it was between non-union labor in the Carolinas and Mississippi and union labor in Massachusetts and Michigan.

Uploaded by robatsea2009:

One of the classic television commercials from the early 1980s featuring members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

The ILGWU was once one of the largest and most powerful unions in the country. It earned its radical cred, having been tested literally by fire in the great Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy of 1911.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Little Boxes"

Uploaded by flouridatedwater

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
There's a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Words and Music by: Malvina Reynolds; Copyright 1962 Schroder Music Company, Renewed 1990.

Of Course You Can Do Better - So Run for Office

You've got until close of business Tuesday, Jan. 31 here in Kentucky to file for one of the literally thousands of public offices up for election this year. Every county office: constable, magistrate, city council, mayor, judge-executive, sheriff, jailer, commonwealth's attorney, district judge, county clerk, county attorney and circuit clerk. All 100 state representatives, and half of the 39 state senators. Not to mention the white whales of Congress.

Barefoot and Progressive:

Edward Whitfield (R) is filed for re-election. Currently has no opponents.

Brett Guthrie (R), incumbent, is filed and so is David Lynn Williams (D). His 2007 race against Richie Farmer brought less-than-rave reviews from Dems.

John Yarmuth (D) is on file and no one has yet tried to challenge His Awesomeness.

According to the SoS, Gary Moore is the only one filed to take Geofferson Davis’ seat, but there’s a bunch of folks coming there.

We’ve got 8 days to convince Kathy Stein to challenge Ben Chandler. Or for someone else to step forward. Who will it be now? The only candiddate on file in this race is Randolph Vance, write-in candidate. Neither Andy Barr nor Chandler appears to have filed their papers. If Scott Jennings wants to get Karl Rove on the phone, $1 Million from the Crossroads SuperPac would almost assuredly bring Ben a challenger. $1 Million, Karl. Bring it. You’re gonna have to spend way more than that in the general so why not buy the primary.


Mitt Romney is the only candidate on file ahead of Kentucky’s May primary that is likely to be the absolute deciding state in the Republican race to take on Barry Hussein. Newt, Rick and Ron have 8 days.

If you want to run for an office, the SoS is a good place to start for qualification information and procedures. For more local offices, check with the County Clerk’s office.

As Kentuckians For the Commonwealth says, if you’ve ever considered running for office, there’s no time like the present.

As I've written before, there is no law or regulation that says you have to spend a single dime on your campaign after you pay your filing fee. You don't have to campaign at all. Just get your name on the ballot, then go about your life as usual. You'll probably lose, but you would have made the point that nobody gets to run for office without a challenger.

And who knows? Anti-incumbent sentiment sent a shitload of newbies to Congress and state legislatures in 2010; you might be the one to benefit this year.

UPDATE II: Gingrich is now on the Kentucky primary ballot. Catch Newtmentum, Kentucky repugs!

Occupy Lexington Raided

No, it wasn't violent, but neither was it necessary. C'mon, Lexington - four solid months of peaceful co-existence and suddenly you go all hick sheriff on them? What, were Oakland cops calling you pussies?

Louisville Courant:

After 118 days of continued protest on the corner of Main St and Esplanade, Lexington, Kentucky police, under the supervision of Mayor Jim Gray, came by Tuesday between 12:30-1 PM and confiscated occupiers' tents and canopies.

The police brought more trailers than they needed. All in all, it only took 5-10 officers to confiscate the property. No arrests were made and they left no officers on the scene.

Protesters were allowed to save what personal items they could quickly grab and throw in the back of Ford Ranger belonging to a huge longtime supporter, the owner of Natasha's Bistro on Esplanade.

According to occupier Steven Burt, the police have been less than cordial over the course of the occupation.

"They've complained about our sidewalk chalk. They've said we were dirty and we looked disgusting," Burt said.

Occupy Lexington is located adjacent to a 14-story Chase JP Morgan bank, on the sidewalk. The rumor is that the raid was justified by Lexington police because the protest was on the sidewalk,but that leaves protesters puzzled since that had been the case for 118 days.

Passing motorists are honking and making eye contact just a few hours later, a show of solidarity that is lacking today from Mayor Gray.

"We're not going anywhere. We're needing solidarity from our supporters tonight though," says Stacie Catlett.

Click here for photos of the so-objectionable sidewalk chalkings.

UPDATE, 6 p.m.

Barefoot and Progressive:

The nation’s longest continuous occupation continued last night after police removed all the tents. Despite earlier reports that the corner of Main and Esplanade had been raided and the Occupation was over, the Occupiers met last night to chart a course for the future.

In fact, this sounded less like a raid and more like a misunderstanding leading to a cleansing. At the time, the camp was not unoccupied but the person on watch had crossed the street to get a coffee from Natasha’s. The police saw it empty and decided it was time to break it down, seeing it as abandoned (H-L).

But that’s all neither here nor there, really, since that part is done. The question quickly became “What Next?”

During a two-hour general assembly meeting last night, that question was discussed at length. The Occupiers were of different mindsets but as always, worked toward consensus. Their quick report:

- We will continue to occupy our location at Main and Esplanade. People have committed to be there for the next 24 hours, so feel free to come by and join them, or bring by some hot drinks!

- There was a great conversation tonight about the nature of our occupation and what our next steps should be. Energy is high and there were a lot of great ideas. If you haven’t been by in some time, please come out tomorrow at 6:30 for our General Assembly!

- Stay tuned to this page for more information as we have it. Again, tomorrow’s GA will be very important, so be sure to show up!

You can join them tonight at 6:30PM. Even if you’ve never been down before — there was one gentleman last night who was attending his first meeting.

What will happen next?

Watch the video.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Elizabeth Warren Does Something Incredibly Stupid

Think Progress:

The 2012 elections will undoubtedly see an unprecedented injection of third-party influence, thanks to the Citizens United ruling and the subsequent advent of super PACs, and now, “super super PACS” — groups that “not only raise mega cash to promote candidates, but give money to candidates’ campaigns” directly. Attempting to stem the tide of undue influence, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) and her opponent Sen. Scott Brown (R) signed a ban on third-party ads. Brown had sent Warren two previous proposals but Warren objected to “some of the loopholes” that remained. Warren sent back a signed proposals with “clarifications to make it stronger.” The ad ban is “designed to control what is already prodigious outside spending on the race. By some projections, the campaign could cost at least $60 million” with at least “$20 million being spent by special interest groups with an interest in the outcome.”

Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie.

What - in the name of every repug motherfucker who publicly attacked you, sabotaged you, stabbed you in the back, tried everything under the sun to literally destroy you as a public servant, as a lawyer, as a person - are you thinking?

The Super Pacs trying to prevent you from restoring Ted Kennedy's senate seat to the party that earned it are laughing their asses off and buying up commercial time as I write this.

The Super Pacs that support you will probably respect your request, even though they know Brown's Super Pacs will not. If they don't know that, then they're even more stupid than whatever insane urge possessed you to do this.

Admit it, Elizabeth: you are too naive to run for the U.S. Senate. You're going to get crushed, and you're going to deserve it.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"

Uploaded by Librarian1972

Bob Dylan's live-performance of his legendary „A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" at „The Great Music Experience", Nara (Japan) in May 1994. Dylan plays before a massive orchestral scenery, which is the Tokyo New Philharmonic orchestra -- the first time ever he played with an classic orchestra.

Show Your Love for Mountains

Show your sweetheart what kind of lover you really are this Valentine's by taking her/him to the I Love Mountains demonstration at the State Capitol in Frankfort.

From Kentuckians for the Commonwealth:

When Kentucky author Wendell Berry and the 13 other Kentucky Rising leaders emerged from the State Capitol to join the I Love Mountains Day rally last February, he said:

"We do not think of what we have done as in any sense a symbolic gesture. We are humbled, instead, by the realization that our effort cannot be carried to success by us, or by any other few of us. If the adventure of the last few days, by this small company of friends, is to be more than a symbolic gesture, that can be only because all of you who are here, and many of our friends who are not here, will take it up, make it your adventure and your cause, until this great house will become the true home of justice to all the people of this state, and of faithful care for the divine gifts of land and water, and of life itself."

So we'll be back at the State Capitol on February 14 with a powerful and visible presence as KFTC members continue to answer Wendell Berry’s call, You see, right now is our best chance in generations to end mountaintop removal mining and build a clean energy economy that generates good jobs in every Kentucky community. We won't stop until we have: a thriving democracy, clean energy jobs, affordable, renewable energy, and healthy communities.

All over eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia, residents in communities like Eolia, Hueysville, Benham, Lynch and Montgomery Creek are speaking up to protect their health and homeland from the destruction of coal and to create a more sustainable economy.

Will you join us and be one of the more than 1,200 people standing up for clean water, clean energy, and a just economic transition for eastern Kentucky?

And will you volunteer to bring with you at least one other person with you? If each us brings a friend, imagine how much more powerful our voice will be!

More information about the day, including a schedule, and registration information can be found on our website here.

The march around the Capitol starts at 12:30, and the rally at 1 p.m. Come early and buttonhole your state legislators inside.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Kids Are All Right

We've been wondering for a while what it would take to get the video-glazed-eyed slackers out into the streets; now we know.

Rebecca Leber at Think Progress:

Youth activists interrupted the State of the Energy Industry earlier this week to deliver the 99 percent’s message to polluters’ biggest lobbies, who were all gathered for a conference.

The annual event included addresses by American Petroleum Institute, American Gas Association, and the National Mining Association. During API President Jack Gerard’s speech, the activists yelled “mic check” and fact-checked the oil lobby. “Big Oil’s lies are hurting Americans, our economy, and our environment,” the group shouted. “API spends hundreds of millions of dollars corrupting our democracy. … Big Oil is raking in record profits at the expense of the American people.”

One of the protesters described her experience:

We all stood up. Our voices combined were deafening in that small room. I could see Gerard fuming under his smug grin. We were hurried out by Suits with nervous demeanor, but not before we were able to get a few powerful last words in. This was Big Oil’s crown-jewel forum – they’d been advertising this forum on NPR and even their top PR officials were talking it up online. It was clear they were embarrassed and totally caught off guard.

But this will not be the last one Big Oil hears from us. Oh no. We’ll be visiting them again and again, speaking truth to the lies, corruption, and corporate greed of dirty energy, and replacing it with a vision of transparent democracy and a just, clean energy future.

Watch the video here.

While the protesters promise to return, API is deploying an election-year “Vote 4 Energy” campaign to promote “drill, baby, drill” and deliver on its threat that rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline has “huge political consequences” for the president.

And yet, youth activists have spread the 99 percent’s environmental message across the world, recently. Thousands of protesters fought successfully against the Keystone XL pipeline, and youth voices grabbed attention at the Durban climate conference last month. Now, the 99 percent are taking that message directly to the doorstep of the oil industry.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "I Ain't Marchin' No More"

Uploaded by davedave25

False Dawn, or a New Progressive Revolution?

So, when you heard about this, did you shout and leap for joy, or did you frown and mutter because that's surely the last remotely progressive thing we'll see out of this hippie-bashing administration for a while?

Today, in a huge victory for women’s health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans, along with other preventive services, with no cost-sharing such as co-pays or deductibles. This means that after years of trying to get birth control covered to the same extent that health plans cover Viagra, our country will finally have nearly universal coverage of contraception.

Opponents of contraception had lobbied hard for a broad exemption that would have allowed any religiously-affiliated employer to opt out of providing such coverage. Fortunately, the Obama administration rejected that push and decided to maintain the narrow religious exemption that it initially proposed. Only houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt. Religiously-affiliated employers who do not qualify for the exemption and are not currently offering contraceptive coverage may apply for transitional relief for a one-year period to give them time to determine how to comply with the rule.

I did both, so there.

Mike Lux is the author of The Progressive Revolution, a book I strongly recommend as both inspiration and cautionary tale. He writes at Crooks and Liars about the meaning of recent progressive victories, including the appointment of Richard Cordray and the at least temporary stoppages of the Keystone XL Pipeline, SOPA and PIPA.

As Bob Dylan would put it, the times they are a-changin'. There's a storm outside and it's raging, baby. We really are shaking their windows and rattling their walls. Done deals are not getting done. Dead appointments are acting like Lazarus and rising from the dead. The establishment is getting very, very nervous. And grassroots activists, from the occupiers to the netroots to those chaining themselves to the White House fence or sitting in at the Wisconsin Capitol last year, are shaking and rattling things all over.


Progressive activists should feel incredibly good about all they have accomplished in the last year, and should feel good as well that President Obama -- even if it is sometimes more slowly or reluctantly than we would like -- is understanding that on a range of issues, it is politically smart of him to be aligned with these grassroots movement. But it is also no time to pat ourselves on the back: over the next 72 hours, an enormous issue will probably get resolved that will be the biggest single thing that will determine whether the dead housing market, as well as the broader economy, will get a boost that will bring it to life: the bank settlement deal. How this issue gets resolved not only will have a massive impact on the economy, it will go a very long ways in whether the President can credibly run for re-election as the guy who took on Wall Street and held them accountable when the chips were down.


I will close by noting that, as I wrote about in my book The Progressive Revolution, positive change in America happens because of the combination of big progressive movements and Presidents open to that change. The last few victories progressives have won have shown us that formula is starting to work again. Let's hope the next 72 hours show us that the progressive movement can muster its troops to make Wall Street accountability happen, and that the president remains open to change.

Stay on 'em. Join your local occupations. Harass your state legislators. Call and write your congress critters - I thought that hadn't worked since the Reagan administration, but it worked like a charm on SOPA. Remind yourself and your fellow disappointed Democrats that while President Obama may listen to us only occasionally and reluctantly, preznent Romney or Gingrich won't listen at all.

Nine months to election.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Not Dog-Whistle, Not Overt Racism, Just A Desperate Gamble

David Atkins "thereisnospoon" on Newt Gingrich's real message:

What Newt Gingrich is doing here, then, is not making a coded racist argument against Barack Obama and minority communities. He is, rather, presenting himself as the anti-Obama: the Great Conservative Racial Uniter, the man who can walk into minority communities, free them from the tyranny of the welfare state, and win back their love, re-uniting them in harmony with their Southern white brethren in defiance of the liberal media and government elites trying to keep them poor and indebted to government programs.

As with Romney's statement about firing people, the key to understanding conservative statements is often to look past the initial attention-grabbing phrase, and to watch for the context that comes afterward. In this case, the key for Gingrich lies not in his lines about "food stamp" or "pay check" Presidents. The key lies in his confidence that he is the one and only conservative who will be able to make minorities love Republicans again by freeing them from mental slavery.

Republicans are not only sensitive to allegations of racism. They also know in their hearts that in their current incarnation they face demographic extinction. The Fox News demographic is literally dying. They also know that simply putting minority faces like Marco Rubio on the same old policies won't work.

In order to survive without moderating their policies, they must subscribe to the belief that if only they eliminate every program that helps poor people (including minorities), minorities will suddenly wake from a deep sleep and learn to embrace conservatives through the power of tough love.

That's what Newt Gingrich promises them. He is their answer to Barack Obama, their Savior, their Great Racial Uniter. He speaks not ignorantly, schizophrenically nor in code. He and his base have leaped into this ideological gamble with open eyes, and are attempting to take the rest of the country with them.

Read the whole thing.

As always with repugs, it's not about helping others or improving the nation in any concrete way; it's about grabbing and keeping power.

Whatever it takes.

Why Libraries Are Better Than the Internet

There is nothing cooler than a library. And you don't have to go to the Library of Congress or the New York Public Library - or even the Kenton County Public Library in Covington, KY - to find treasures that no one will ever see online. They're waiting for you at your local library.

Cindy Schroeder at the Northern Kentucky Enquirer:

As the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I approaches, historians and genealogists will soon be able to use a rare series of books at the Kenton County Public Library system’s Covington branch.

“The Source Records of the Great War,” a set of seven, gold-leafed volumes on World War I (1914-18) were donated this month by the Sons of The American Legion and the American Legion Moon Brothers Post 275 in Independence.


Compiled by Charles F. Horne in 1923, the hard-bound books with the Legion emblem embossed on the cover are known as a definitive collection providing details of the causes and various armed conflicts of World War I, said Dave Schroeder, executive director of the Kenton County Public Library system. Each volume is about 300 pages, and the chapters are written by authoritative sources, such as WWI generals and political leaders of that era.


Because of the rarity of “The Source Records of the Great War,” the series won’t be available for general circulation, Schroeder said. However, he sees them being used by local historians and genealogists. The books will be in the history department in the Covington library “in no more than a couple of weeks” for anyone who wants to read them, he said.

“If you know that your great-great grandfather was in a particular WWI battle, this series will give you information about that battle and what led up to it,” Schroeder said.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "What Did You Learn in School Today?"

Uploaded by PopulistParty:

Pete Seeger sings Tom Paxton's song live on the "Tonight In Person" Show (1964).

Here's some of the "best" lyrics:

I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody's free.
And that's what the teacher said to me.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Rally for Kathy Stein Sunday - Today - at 4 p.m.

Come to downtown Lexington to show Governor Steve "Cowardly Weasel" Beshear and the un-democratic lack-of-leadership in the General Assembly what you think of them exiling the sole liberal voice in the state senate and disenfranchising the liberal voters of Lexington.

Barefoot and Progressive, which has been all over this from Day One and is not letting up.

The disenfranchised voters of the leaderless republic of Lexington, KY will gather on Sunday, January 22nd, from 4PM to 7PM at 200 East Main Street at the heart of Downtown to rally in support of Kathy Stein and this revolutionary new idea for a political system which we humbly call “democracy.”


Join us.

Tell your friends.

Share the news.

Bring signs.

Invite the Governor. I’m sure he’ll be interested in your thoughts.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Creating the Next Generation of Protesters

Don't think there aren't school officials in your state who are quietly - or not so quietly - applauding this abomination and plotting to how implement something similar.

Now that it's popular.

In a page right out of Newt Gingrich’s alternate-history science-fiction wingnut-polygamy utopian epic Candyland Space Land, the school district in Tucson has completely banned Mexican-American studies, seized all the textbooks and even wall posters from the classrooms, and punished the students who protested by sentencing them to janitorial duty. The self-hating Latina lady who oversees the now-illegal ethnic studies program even comically told the kids, “Mexico is where Mexican studies is taught, not America!” Why oh why does the Newt have to be in stinky old South Carolina during such a historical moment in stomping the Mexican, for freedom?

The insanely racist Arizona law, HB 2281, specifically targets ethnic studies in the public schools. Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies program was specifically shut down to meet the law’s requirements, although administrator Lupita Garcia — who sure sounds like a Mexican to us — seemed utterly delighted to shut down the district’s program and shout racist idiocy at the students.

The students bravely marched five miles from Cholla High School (better change that name!) to the Mexican-American Studies headquarters … and as punishment for this crime against white society, they were all put on janitorial slave duty. Sounds like Tucson needs to be occupied! (Weather is very nice this time of year. It’s a good season for a Mexican-sounding revolution.)

Somebody give each and every one of those kids a full Mario Savio Free Speech scholarship to Berkeley right now.

h/t Digby.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "If I Had a Hammer"

How much has the Reich Wing ruined this country? This much: in the late 1960's, in conservative Kentucky, at summer camp, I learned this song from camp counselors who taught it and many other popular songs of protest, sex and drugs to hundreds of kids with the full knowledge and approval of our very conventional parents. Nobody blinked an eye.

Try singing this song today within hailing distance of your local elementary school and see how fast you get arrested.

Uploaded by jguth3:

Live at Wolftrap, August 8, 1993. Arlo and Pete and family perform Pete's song with Pete leading the audience in his robust way. What a great concert this was!

Doing More Without Congress

I don't think "extensive background checks" is the best way to attract foreign tourists, but working around congressional obstruction is a good election-year tactic.

Full transcript here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How a Modern Democracy Regresses to the Dark Ages

By empowering conservatives and freakazoids, of course.

This week, the Republican National Committee rejected 35 years of bipartisan U.S. diplomacy to declare itself in favor of genocide in the Middle East.

The Republican National Committee (RNC), at their winter meeting in New Orleans, unanimously adopted a resolution that appears to support a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"One-state solution" is neo-con for "eliminating all non-Jews from biblical Palestine and annexing the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights - and what the fuck, Jordan and southern Lebanon, too - into Greater Israel."

For more than 50 years, we liberals held up Israel as the epitome of the modern secular democracy. Israel's founders were secular socialists who despised the Orthodox freakazoid minority and worked hard to marginalize it.

That Orthodox freakazoid minority, by the way, vehemently opposed the establishment of the Nation of Israel 64 years ago, and loudly and repeatedly denied its very existence. Their objection was that according to their invisible sky wizard, only the return of the messiah could bring about the rebirth of Israel as a nation. Not even Palestinian terrorists were as shrill in their refusal to acknowledge Israel as were the Orthodox freakazoid minority.

That is the same Orthodox freakazoid minority which is now forcing its insanity on every aspect of Israeli society. Israel today is about half an inch away from being as fanatic and ridiculous a theocracy as Saudi Arabia or Iran.


Perhaps we should all stop for a moment and contemplate how an advanced nation can suddenly take this regressive turn:

In the three months since the Israeli Health Ministry awarded a prize to a pediatrics professor for her book on hereditary diseases common to Jews, her experience at the awards ceremony has become a rallying cry.

The professor, Channa Maayan, knew that the acting health minister, who is ultra-Orthodox, and other religious people would be in attendance. So she wore a long-sleeve top and a long skirt. But that was hardly enough.

Not only did Dr. Maayan and her husband have to sit separately, as men and women were segregated at the event, but she was instructed that a male colleague would have to accept the award for her because women were not permitted on stage.

Though shocked that this was happening at a government ceremony, Dr. Maayan bit her tongue. But others have not, and her story is entering the pantheon of secular anger building as a battle rages in Israel for control of the public space between the strictly religious and everyone else.

At a time when there is no progress on the Palestinian dispute, Israelis are turning inward and discovering that an issue they had neglected — the place of the ultra-Orthodox Jews — has erupted into a crisis.

And it is centered on women.

“Just as secular nationalism and socialism posed challenges to the religious establishment a century ago, today the issue is feminism,” said Moshe Halbertal, a professor of Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University. “This is an immense ideological and moral challenge that touches at the core of life, and just as it is affecting the Islamic world, it is the main issue that the rabbis are losing sleep over.”

The list of controversies grows weekly: Organizers of a conference last week on women’s health and Jewish law barred women from speaking from the podium, leading at least eight speakers to cancel; ultra-Orthodox men spit on an 8-year-old girl whom they deemed immodestly dressed; the chief rabbi of the air force resigned his post because the army declined to excuse ultra-Orthodox soldiers from attending events where female singers perform; protesters depicted the Jerusalem police commander as Hitler on posters because he instructed public bus lines with mixed-sex seating to drive through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods; vandals blacked out women’s faces on Jerusalem billboards.

Without wading into Israeli politics, let's just say that this is disturbing on any number of levels. But one thing is clear: fundamentalist religious influence always leads to the repression of women.

And there's nothing that says a Western democracy can't go backwards. It's the whole point of conservatism.


Perhaps women, racial minorities and other "traditionally" second class citizens can be forgiven for being somewhat appalled at the idea that these people could be empowered even more than they already are. It's really not all that abstract to them.


Devolution means regressing to traditional hierarchies. It's something those who were only recently second class citizens understand in their bones.

And of course that's just the way America's Xian freakazoid minority wants it. If the freakazoids can turn back the clock to the Dark Ages in a modern secular democracy like Israel, they can do it here, too.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

Because the Plutocracy feeds on war, and feeds people to the war, and needs war to survive.

Uploaded by Thespadecaller:

On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955.
In one of Pete's darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov's novel "And Quie Flows the Don". Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as "Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?" Shortly after she sang it in German. The song's impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It's universal message, "let there be peace in the world" did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.

The Yankee Bull Connor

Which state is, right now this minute, doing the most to deny voting rights to African-Americans? It's not Mississippi, or Alabama, or even South Carolina.

It's Michigan.

Rachel Maddow Monday night:

Governor Snyder`s administration is currently considering whether or not to use the remarkable unilateral power that the Republican legislature voted to give him last year to essentially abolish the local government of Michigan`s largest city and replace it with someone he puts in charge who has unilateral authority.

In the year of really ambitious, sometimes radical policy-making in red states that has followed the very, very Republican 2010 nomination, my personal nomination for the single most radical thing implemented by any Republican legislature and governor is what happened in Michigan. It`s Michigan`s expanded emergency financial manager law. It allows Rick Snyder, the state`s Republican governor, to essentially, effectively abolish all local voting rights.

You vote for your city council, you vote for your town mayor, but in Michigan, it does not matter who you vote for, because the results of your local election can be overruled if the Snyder administration says so. The state, the governor, will decide who`s going to run your town, no matter who you vote for. He will put in who he wants.

The Snyder administration has already taken over these cities around the great state of Michigan and now, it is considering the largest city in the state. Now, it`s considering whether to take over Detroit.

As noted a couple months ago by the indispensable Michigan politics source, Ecleto blog, as reported by us thereafter, and as noted by three members of Congress, nine state senators and dozens of state representative, as well as eight Detroit City council members in a letter they wrote to Governor Snyder recently, if Governor Rick Snyder decides that in addition to these cities he`s already taken over, he is also going to overrule local decision making, local elections, and take over Detroit,
and Inkster, which are two cities now being reviewed, approximately 50 percent of all African American citizens in the state would then be living under the authority of unelected managers.

Think about that for a second.

Congratulations, Michigan. You elected a Republican legislature and Republican governor last time around. And so now, if you are black and you live in the state of Michigan, you may soon have only a 50-50 chance of your vote counting in Michigan toward who represents you in your city or town.

I like this law. Or rather, I like the idea of President Obama using a national version of this law to strip Rick Scott of all power and give the Emergency Manager of Florida job to Alan Grayson.

Think about it. Arizona in the care of Raul Grijalva. Texas under Jim Hightower. Crit Luallen here in Kentucky. Emmanuel Cleaver in Missouri. South Carolina run by - oooh, Stephen Colbert!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Transcript here. Scroll about 1/3-1/2 way down the full text page.

My favorite part of the segment was her interview with the Rev. David Bullock, Michigan state director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, senior pastor at Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church. Much as I hate giving credit to xians for anything, Rev. Bullock explained the voting rights battle in Michigan as clearly, passionately and eloquently as I've ever heard.

Watch the Bullock interview here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

KY Lege Exiles Liberal Senator; Disenfranchises Second-Largest City

UPDATE, 7 a.m. Jan. 20: Governor Beshear has not yet announced his decision on the bill to exile Kathy Stein and disenfranchise Lexington. Read details and how you can help stop this abomination at Barefoot and Progressive.

You think congressional repugs are vicious thugs and congressional dems are corrupt backstabbers? They are paragons of legislative probity compared to the shitheads of both parties that pass for the "leadership" of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Short version, from the Herald:

Just when we thought the redistricting process couldn’t get any more ridiculous or offensive, the Senate ups and outdoes the House with a plan that would leave the heart of Kentucky’s second-largest city without an elected senator for two years.

Yep, it’s the revenge of Senate President David Williams, who was rejected 3-1 by Lexington voters in his failed bid for governor last year and is now paying them back.

The Republican-controlled Senate State and Local Government Committee has approved a redistricting plan that would move Democratic Sen. Kathy Stein’s District 13, which now includes the University of Kentucky and environs, to Mason and Lewis counties in northeastern Kentucky.

The Lexington district would become Senate District 4, which is now located in western Kentucky, and for the next two years would be represented by Sen. Dorsey Ridley, a Democrat from Henderson.

With all due respect to Ridley, no one in Lexington ever voted for him to represent them. The Senate Republican plan essentially disenfranchises 90,000 residents of Fayette County.

Shrill reaction that puts Markos to shame, from Barefoot and Progressive here, here and here.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years"

Uploaded by solutioncow:

(written by "An Unknown Proletarian,' Music by Von Liebich)
(First Listed Printing, Industrial Union Bulletin, April 18, 1908)


We have fed you all for a thousand years
And you hail us still unfed,
Though there's never a dollar of all your wealth
But marks the workers' dead.
We have yielded our best to give you rest
And you lie on crimson wool.
Then if blood be the price of all your wealth,
Good God! We have paid it in full!

There is never a mine blown skyward now
But we're buried alive for you.
There's never a wreck drifts shoreward now
But we are its ghastly crew.
Go reckon our dead by the forges red
And the factories where we spin.
If blood be the price of your cursed wealth,
Good God! We have paid it in!

We have fed you all a thousand years-
For that was our doom, you know,
From the days when you chained us in your fields
To the strike a week ago.
You have taken our lives, and our babies and wives,
And we're told it's your legal share,
But if blood be the price of your lawful wealth,
Good God! We bought it fair!

Two Years Too Long for Citizens United

Hard to believe it was just a year two years ago, January 21, 2010, that the Reagan/Bush Supreme Court let corporations openly buy American elections.

KeninNY at Down with Tyranny:

It seems overwhelmingly likely to me that anyone who's found his/her way to DWT registers proper horror upon hearing the words "Citizens United." The timing of the dreadful Supreme Court decision that has bid fair to make American elections straight purchase operations by them what's got the most to spend couldn't have been much worse, but then probably wasn't coincidental. The groundwork had been laid; the necessary justices were in place; and the rich were damned tired of having to struggle so mightily to make their clout felt electorally.

At the time, I remember some super-smart progressives pooh-poohing the panic that most of us were feeling, insisting that no, it was hardly going to change things at all. And I suppose if what you mean is that the Money People would have found other ways to make their dollars count, there's a point in there somewhere. Not an important point, but a point.

Of course the people who would have to take action to in some fashion overturn Citizens United -- legislatively, for example -- tend to be people who can see its potential personal benefits to them. Still, with the anniversary of the ruling coming up, a bunch of progressive organizations have banded together (you can see a list on the United for the People webpage, United4thepeople.org.) and will launch a "national week of action" on January 16.

As the webpage says: SPREAD THE WORD!

Protest Citizens United on Its January Anniversary


The Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC has focused America's attention on the dangerous influence of corporate power in our democracy and the urgency of taking all necessary measures to undo that influence, including amending the Constitution.

Generations of Americans have amended the Constitution over the years to ensure that "We the People" means all the people, not just the privileged few. The Citizens United case, which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending to influence elections at all levels of government, has brought home the importance of amending the Constitution to ensure that "We the People" does not mean we the corporations.

We believe that America works best when our government is of, by and for the people. Although we have differences in scope and tactics, all of us are united in the understanding that the Court's decision in Citizens United must be remedied by amending the Constitution in order to restore the democratic promise of America.

From the man who's been right about this longer than anybody else:

I know that many of you are deeply concerned about the economy, health care, education, global warming and the environment, Social Security and Medicare, civil liberties, war and peace and the national debt. But here's an issue that's even more important because it encompasses all of these issues -- and much more.

Will the United States survive, in any significant way, as a democracy in which ordinary people can control their future? Or, will "democracy" simply become another commodity owned and controlled by billionaires and corporations in order to serve their own purposes?

Today, as a result of the absurd Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations and billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money, without disclosure, in political campaigns. And that is exactly what they're doing.

Karl Rove's American Crossroads has already pledged to spend at least $240 million in the elections of 2012. The extreme right-wing billionaire Koch brothers may be spending even more. And then there is Wall Street, the oil and coal corporations, the insurance and drug companies and the military-industrial-complex with all of their money.

The goal of the top 1 percent is simple. They will spend as much as it takes to elect candidates who support a right-wing corporate agenda. They will spend as much as it takes to defeat those candidates who are fighting for working families. And that's about it!

Please join me, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in pledging to fight to overturn Citizens United.

Our strategy must be equally simple. Short-term, we must do everything we can to support those progressive candidates in 2012 who are fighting for the middle class and the values we believe in. Long-term, we must overturn Citizens United and fight for real campaign finance reform which limits the power of big money.

Last month, I introduced a constitutional amendment, the Saving American Democracy bill, to overturn Citizens United. This amendment states that:

  • Corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as human beings.
  • The people have the right to regulate corporations.
  • Corporations are prohibited from making campaign contributions.
  • Congress and states shall have the power to set reasonable limits on election spending.

As we approach the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, please join me, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in pledging to fight to overturn Citizens United and to counter the unlimited resources of the right-wing in 2012.

Your pledge of support today will show the Big Money interests that while they may have unlimited sums of money, we have something more important -- the power of the people. Your support could mean volunteering on local, state or national elections, organizing against Citizens United, donating to progressive candidates or running for office yourself.

Please pledge your support today. Please stand with us so that, together, we can transform American politics.



Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator from Vermont

It's growing:

The Communications Workers of America have joined the fight against the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, which allows unlimited corporate donations in electoral campaigns. CWA joins 60 other organizations in the battle to get corporate money out of U.S. elections. The groups, under the United For the People banner, are calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling.

If Citizens United prevails, this nation will truly become a nation of the moneyed, by the moneyed and for the moneyed. Forever.

There will be demonstrations in more than 100 cities to mourn the decision. If you're in Lexington, KY, on Friday, join protesters at the federal courthouse at Limestone and Barr from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.