Saturday, March 31, 2012

Through the Media, GOP Winning the War on Women

This is how the GOP has won every other war on liberal values that everyone said they couldn't possibly win: by making sure their misleading rhetoric is the language the media uses.

Teddy Partridge at Firedoglake:

America’s media landscape is being subtly changed by the War on Women being waged by the talibangelicals. And our news media need to be alert to their own participation in it. Congressman Ron Paul discussed his completely legal ob/gyn practice and the legal pharmaceuticals he legally prescribed for patients. Read how Yahoo! News introduced its report on Dr Paul’s appearance on “The Tonight Show”:

Ron Paul, during an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” Tuesday night admitted that he prescribed birth control pills during his time as a practicing OB-GYN in Texas.


Why is the entirely legal prescription of entirely legal birth control pills an admission? Nothing surreptitious happening here, nothing illegal, nothing but the above-board practice of medicine.


Why is the completely routine issuance of prescriptions within a medical practice an admission, Yahoo!? No illegality, no hypocrisy, no shock value. What makes this an admission to your news desk?

The War on Women is changing America’s media. News editors and reporters need to check their bias against women and routine provision of women’s health care when producing news stories. There’s no admission here. Ron Paul didn’t admit anything. He merely described an entirely non-salacious, routine aspect of any ob/gyn practice. He’s a women’s health doctor. Women’s health doctors prescribe birth control pills.

And when an ob/gyn tells you he’s prescribed birth control pills, he’s admitting nothing.

Might as well say he was bragging.

How Compromise Kills

Yes, Virginia, there is an alternative to the budget of the Austerity Thieves, although you won't hear about it from the Beltway Babblers.

The Budget for All increases funding for a variety of successful job creation programs, restores high earner’s marginal tax rates to Clinton-era levels, and preserves Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid without making benefit cuts. The plan builds on the successes of the CPC 2012 proposal, The People’s Budget, which garnered praise from notable economists such as Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs and outlets such as The Economist.

A one-page summary is available at and the executive summary is available at

From David Atkins at Hullabaloo:

Digby asks the right question:

While everyone coos and drools over Paul Ryan's Very, Very Serious plan to cut the deficit, the progressive caucus can't even get progressives to pay attention to their budget. This is a budget that preserves all the things we care about, even raises benefits for the elderly and cuts the deficit more than Paul Ryan does...Evidently anything that doesn't demand pain from ordinary people just doesn't interest the Villagers or anyone else. Why is that?

The easy answer, of course, is that public policy is designed by and conducted on behalf of the very wealthy. But there's another connected factor, too: the fact that at least a significant portion of one side is willing to compromise, and the other is not.

The reason the progressive budget doesn't get a second look by the media is that it has zero chance of passing. It would take a full 60 uncorrupted Democratic/Sanders Senators, a majority of Democratic representatives, and an unwavering Democratic President to pass the thinot the world in which we live.

In this case as in so many others, Democratic compromise doesn't beget centrist policy and an appreciation for the grown-up willingness of the left to cooperate with its adversaries for the good of the country (not that such a thing is desirable.) Rather, it begets a media fetish for extremist conservative policy because only the latter falls within the realm of the possible.

Tell everyone you know: there is a progressive, reality-based budget that creates jobs and grows the economy, and it needs your support.

A one-page summary is available at and the executive summary is available at

The Guilt of Black Bodies

The repugs must force guilt onto Trayvon Martin because to acknowledge his innocence is to refute their claim that only whites are the victims of racism.

More pertinently, if Trayvon Martin is not guilty, then neither is President Obama.

Melissa Harris-Perry at The Nation:

Liberal democracy — based on commitment to individual liberty and dignity — does not exist if the government legislates against particular bodies in public spaces, as it did during Jim Crow, or when it is complicit in the violent policing of those bodies by other citizens, as in the Trayvon Martin slaying. For more than two years, vocal pockets of conservative activists and politicians demanded proof of President Obama’s citizenship — as if a black man was trespassing simply by being elected to the Oval Office. As the president was being asked to show his papers to the nation, state governments in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina empowered police officers, school officials and merchants to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they deemed suspicious of immigration violations—suspicions that are triggered primarily by racial, ethnic and linguistic profiling. Despite the dramatic legal changes brought about by the ending of Jim Crow, it is once again socially, politically and legally acceptable to presume the guilt of nonwhite bodies.

This is the political setting for the moment when George Zimmerman approached Trayvon Martin as he walked home in the rain with a bag of Skittles. During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Zimmerman’s neighbor Frank Taaffe suggested “if he [Trayvon] had just answered him [Zimmerman] in an appropriate manner, ‘I’m just here visiting. My mother’s house is around the corner,’ and be upfront and truthful, there wouldn’t be any problem.” Fox News host Geraldo Rivera weighed in on the case by saying, “I’ll bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way.” Conservative commentators and websites piled on, pointing to Trayvon’s gold teeth and his tattoos. These statements suggest that the unarmed teenager was culpable in the encounter that led to his death, not because of any aggressive or illegal act but because he was not following the appropriate protocol for being black in public. A black body in public space must presume its own guilt and be prepared to present a rigidly controlled public performance of docility and respectability.

Sagging-pants laws in Louisiana, Georgia, Florida and Arkansas attempt to legislate that public performance of black bodies by making it illegal to enact particular versions of youth fashion associated with blackness. Philadelphia, New Orleans, Cleveland, Chicago and other cities have responded to violence in predominantly black communities by imposing curfews on young people and then policing these rules most vehemently among black youth—making it a crime for them to be in public space. New York City’s “stop and frisk” law empowers police to temporarily detain a person based merely on “reasonable suspicion” of involvement in criminal activity, which in practice has been vastly disproportionately applied to young men of color.

It is easy, but wrong, to write off Zimmerman as a deranged man whose violence against Trayvon Martin was tragic but unpreventable. Zimmerman was acting in ways entirely consistent with the long history and contemporary reality that assumes the criminality and potential danger of black bodies.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy: "Talking About a Revolution"

Uploaded by eduardopereira2201 on Jun 2, 2007

"Everyone Should Do Their Fair Share"

You do realize, don't you Mr. President, that to repugs "everyone doing their fair share" means the non-rich supporting the rich?

Full transcript here.

Go Dark For Earth Hour Tonight

C'mon, it's just an hour. Turn it off, go outside, and count the stars.

For the fourth consecutive year, Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear have pledged to participate in the international “Earth Hour,” sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation.

Earth Hour is in an international call to action that directs lights be turned off for one hour in recognition of the need for energy conservation and the protection of our environment.

“Once again, we will proudly dim the lights at Kentucky’s Capitol in support of Earth Hour to demonstrate our commitment to reducing energy usage in state government and in our Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our state remains a national leader in developing and promoting progressive energy conservation measures, so we recognize the importance of taking small, everyday actions, like turning off lights and appliances when not in use.”

On Saturday, March 31, beginning at 8:30 p.m. EDT, non-essential lights on the state Capitol campus, including the Capitol Dome and the spotlights that illuminate the exterior Capitol walls, the Capitol Annex and the Governor’s Mansion, will go dark as state government joins people all over the world in a stand for energy savings and the global environment.

“The concept for Earth Hour this year is ‘I will if you will,’ and we hope that many Kentuckians will join us and tens of millions of other individuals, governments and businesses from across the world on Saturday in turning off their lights to support Earth Hour,” said First Lady Jane Beshear. “This gesture is a great way to teach our children that small actions play a big role in our environment now and in the future.”

Kentucky was recently recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as a 2012 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for outstanding contributions to environmental protection through energy efficiency, marking the first time a state has received the honor.

Reducing energy use in government buildings is a critical element of “Intelligent Energy Choices for Kentucky’s Future,” the state’s first-ever comprehensive strategy for energy independence. In that plan, Gov. Beshear set ambitious, aggressive goals for the reduction of energy use in public facilities. By 2015, state facilities will reduce their energy consumption by 15 percent and 25 percent by 2025. By 2025, public facilities will reduce their carbon footprint by 50 percent.

In January 2012, Gov. Beshear announced the launch of the Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System’s (CEMCS) pilot project that allows building managers to optimize energy management in the 43 participating state buildings at 23 sites across the state.

“I am proud of the many great accomplishments Kentucky has made in the past few years on saving energy in state buildings and facilities and engaging businesses, schools, agriculture, industry, local communities and citizens to embrace energy efficiency in their daily lives,” said Gov. Beshear.

Earth Hour has grown from a one-city initiative in 2007 to a 5,251 city strong global movement, last year reaching 1.8 billion people in 135 countries across all seven continents.

Several national monuments and iconic landmarks will also go dark this weekend during the observance including: the Las Vegas Strip, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Gateway Arches in St. Louis and the Empire State Building. International landmarks such as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Buckingham Palace and the Colosseum in Rome will also take part.

For more information about Earth Hour 2012, visit

Seeking Health Care Earns Death By Taser

The latest taser outrage via @by PZ Myers:

Here’s how it’s going to work. You’re a 68 year old black man with a serious heart condition, and a medic alert bracelet, just in case. You accidentally press it one night.

Don’t expect an ambulance with EMTs. The police will come to your door and demand admission.

You will say, “Please leave me alone. I’m 68 with a heart condition. Why are you doing this to me? Can you please leave me alone?”

The police will tell you they don’t give a fuck. They will call you a nigger. They will force open the door as much as the chain allows.

They will taser you. You’re a 68 year old man with a heart condition, remember?

They will shoot you with a beanbag shotgun.

Then, they’ll shoot you dead with live ammo.

Sounds like some grim dystopian fantasy, doesn’t it? Nah, that could never happen. In what insane world would police, rather than doctors, respond to a medical alert, and treat it with deadly gunfire rather than medicine?

It happened in America, in White Plains, NY, last November. It happened to Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.

What the hell is wrong with this country?

Racism, militarized law-enforcement, abuse of the poor, freakazoid patriarchy - same old, same old.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Irish to the Austerity Theves: Fuck Off and Die

This is what they fear: a critical mass of people who simply refuse to be robbed.

James Murphy at The Nation:

CAN’T PAY, WON’T PAY: March 31 marked the deadline for Irish households to register and pay a new property tax—the latest deficit-reducing initiative introduced by 
the government at the behest of its bailout partners in the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. But in cities like Dublin and Waterford, and across rural towns from West Cork to Donegal, a network of “Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay” groups has called on citizens to boycott this “unjust tax.” The grassroots movement was initiated by political organizations from across the left, trade unionists and residents’ associations, and the campaign has spread like wildfire. Local campaigns recently elected delegates 
to form a national steering committee.

An unemployment rate of 14 percent, swingeing cuts to local services and stalled economic growth have sown seeds of discontent. But no issue has galled the Irish people more than the continued payment 
of billions of euros to the unguaranteed bondholders of Irish banks. That the proceeds of this new household charge will go to the same faceless agencies that spec­-
ulated and lost on Irish banks—many of which are now defunct—has been enough to ignite the anger stirring beneath the surface. And the fact that the deadline falls on the same day $4 billion in government money 
is to be paid to service a fraction of the catastrophic debts of the Anglo Irish Bank—
itself disbanded and the subject of a criminal investigation—has fanned the flames. 

Town hall meetings on the issue have regularly drawn crowds of several hundred people. A recent gathering in Dublin attracted 3,000. The movement has found resonance across all sectors of Irish society, uniting financially stretched communities.

Less than a week before the deadline, 
a full 80 percent of Irish households had 
not paid the charge. Although quiet and restrained, this degree of civil disobedience is sure to be heard loud and clear in 
Dublin. And more pertinently given Ireland’s receivership status, Brussels and Frankfurt too.

Stay in your house. Move your money to a local credit union. Demand every government service that keeps this country civilized and operating. Defy the Austerity Thieves.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Days Like These"

Because if the repugs prevail in even one house of Congress this fall, the Reagan/Thatcher years will seem like paradise in comparison.

Uploaded by greatprotestsongs on Feb 26, 2011

From Great Political Songs:

This is a most poignant critique of the Thatcherite right-wing Conservative government. Trailing in the opinion polls, Thatcher glorified in a war with Argentina about British sovereignty over islands in the South Atlantic. Riding on a wave of patriotism she stayed in power through the 1980s pursuing an elitist, anti union, anti gay, anti working class, anti public service agenda. Pete made this video because in 2010 the Conservatives regained power and their policies make this song as relevant as ever.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Congress Critters Now Ordering Solitary Confinement for Emailers

So, you're doing a six-month stint at your local minimum-security federal prison farm for disturbing the peace and a little property damage while celebrating UK's win over Indiana in the NCAA tournament.

Your congress critter, to whom you have sent emails criticizing his votes and questioning his ancestry, puts in a call to the Bureau of Prisons and gets you transferred to solitary confinement at the SuperMax hellhole in Marion, Indiana.

Wait, what?

Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake:

Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, who was given a two-year sentence in prison for making fake bids in a Utah public land auction that was later found to be corrupt, has reportedly been moved to solitary confinement after a member of Congress contacted the Bureau of Prisons.

Peaceful Uprising, a climate change activism group which DeChristopher co-founded, states in a press release posted on March 27:

On the evening of Friday March 9th, Tim DeChristopher was summarily removed from the minimum security camp where he has been held since September 2011, and moved into the FCI Herlong’s Special Housing Unit (SHU). Tim was informed by Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington DC, complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his legal fund contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own. According to Prison officials, Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation. There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU — often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.

In the SHU, Tim’s movement and communications are severely restricted. In the past two weeks, he has been allowed out of his 8 X 10 cell (which he shares with one other inmate) four times, each time for less than an hour. The SHU could have been designed by Franz Kafka. Tim is allowed one book in his cell, and four in his property locker. His writing means are restricted to a thin ink cartridge which makes correspondence extremely difficult. He can still receive mail from the outside, but has no other form of communication other than 15 minutes of phone calls per month.

First off, this congress person who ordered DeChristopher into solitary confinement is a coward and should be unmasked. DeChristopher is powerless in prison. He is already being punished.

If the description of events is correct, it seems like a congressman is trying to intimidate DeChristopher for wanting to return money. To amplify the punishment because of an email is cruel. That the punishment is to place DeChristopher into solitary confinement is even more inhumane. In fact, it is what a fascist country would do to a political prisoner.

There do not appear to be any other instances known where a congressman called up the Bureau of Prisons and was able to get a prisoner moved. That seems terribly arbitrary and unjust. So, why is the Bureau of Prisons granting the unnamed congressman this power? Did DeChristopher violate some regulation he is supposed to abide by when he wrote the email?

Peaceful Uprising is correct. To get this sorted out could take months. It took months to get Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, moved out of solitary confinement at Quantico Marine Brig to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Though there was political support for the pre-trial confinement conditions being imposed, no congressman is known to have ordered the brig authority to keep Manning under the prevention of injury (POI) watch that led to his cruel and inhumane treatment. So, what is happening to DeChristopher may be even more appalling.

Note also that what DeChristopher did was entirely non-violent and far less damaging to society than setting a sofa on fire in celebration. He shouldn't be in prison at all. His real crime, of course, was fighting the plutocracy.

This is what comes of treating elected officials like petty princelings instead of the servants of the people they are supposed to be.

The motherfuckers work for us, and it's way past time they got reminded of that.

Song to Fight the Plutocratic Theocracy By: "Sing If You're Glad to Be Gay"

Uploaded by topekadiyver2 on Feb 15, 2008

Great Protest Songs writes:

Originally written for the 1976 London Gay Pride Parade, this powerful attack on the ‘straight’ establishment was banned by the BBC. It was one of the first songs to deal directly with Gay Rights, pointing to the hypocrisy of the legal system and the media regarding homosexuality. Later Robinson sang it at an Amnesty International fundraiser to protest the Amnesty policy of refusing to regard gays as political prisoners.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dear ExxonMobil

We are not worthy.

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

I love Rand Paul. He’s like his father, but with even fewer principles. This Paul speech about oil companies on the Senate floor is classic:

Instead of punishing them, you should want to encourage them. I would think you would want to say to the oil companies, “What obstacles are there to you making more money?” And hiring more people. Instead they say, “No, we must punish them. We must tax them more to make things fair.” This whole thing about fairness is so misguided and gotten out of hand.

Dear Big Oil Executives,

My name is Erik Loomis. I like to drive and heat my home and eat. Because of that, I really want you to profit off of me. I was thinking about eating three meals a day this year, but it’s really more important that your shareholders kick some more indigenous people in Ecuador off their land so you can maximize profits. I’d like to support your in your task, as it is as destined by God as 19th century Manifest Destiny or the Christian Holy War against Iraq in 2003. Is my unwillingness to only eat twice a day an obstacle to you making money? I apologize for my selfishness. As my social betters, you deserve anything you would like from me. Do you own any coal mines in China? I would love to support your mission by dying in a Chinese coal mine. My sacrifices are easily worth if it you can add another 10,000 square feet to your mansion. Please tell me how you can better profit off of my life.

Yours in the exploitation of me.


Rationality Breaks Out in Kentucky House

"Hey, y'all: the feds already have this covered, so we don't have to waste the taxpayers' time and money on it!"

That never stopped repugs looking for a racist vote to rally the mouthbreathing base, but Kentucky Democrats stood up and said "not this time, morons."

Joseph Gerth at the Courier:

A House committee killed a bill Tuesday that would block illegal immigrants from receiving government assistance after state officials testified that they are already prohibited under federal law from doing so.

Senate Bill 118 was tabled during a meeting of the House Local Government Committee, effectively killing the legislation. Committee Chairman Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, said he will not recall it before the session ends.

Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said he sponsored the legislation after hearing from an anonymous source that it was a problem.

When Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, quizzed him about who that was, Wilson said, “Someone who works for the Cabinet (for Health and Family Services), and I will not name names.”

But officials from the cabinet, which oversees aid to low-income people, said food stamps and other assistance going to people who are in the United States without proper documentation has never been identified as a problem in Kentucky.

Not to call Mike Wilson a liar, but that's smoke coming from his pants.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Biko"

Uploaded by 25million on Sep 7, 2006

The final date of the 1986 Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour. This was the set closer, an emotional version of Biko.

Great Protest Songs writes of this Peter Gabriel song:

Political songs are rarely more powerful than this. Released in 1980, it is about the South African black writer and activist Steve Biko. In late August 1977, Biko was arrested and tortured by the South African police. He sustained series head injuries in the ‘interrogation’ and died in prison shortly afterwards on 12th September. Gabriel often ended his concerts with this song, encouraging the audience to join in and leaving only a drummer on stage at the end.

Why Newspapers Are Dying - Part 8,692

The corporations that own then are suicidally ignorant of how journalism is supposed to work.

Brad Friedman

Out of scores of journalists who work for the Gannett Wisconsin Media-owned Green Bay Press-Gazette, just seven were willing to offer their personal, non-business related support for a recall of Wisconsin's controversial Gov. Scott Walker. They are now being disciplined.

The rest, the vast majority of Press-Gazette employees, all cast a vote for their support of the Republican Walker's fitness to complete his term as governor by refusing to sign the petition for his recall.

How can we now trust them to report without bias on the Walker story they are tasked with covering in a neutral fashion?!

Despite the clear and unethical conflict of interest demonstrated by their support for Walker --- for which the Governor is almost certainly grateful --- those journalist are somehow still expected to cover the Democratic Party and union-supported political challenges against him and his administration in an impartial manner.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Buckle Up; The Supremes Are Sending This Election Into Orbit

So, all the constitutional experts and former Supreme Court law clerks who were sooooo sure just yesterday morning that no way would the Supreme Court overturn the Affordable Care Act are now dead-certain that health care reform is doomed.

My prediction has not changed: the repugs on the Court are just as determined as repugs in Congress to destroy the Obama administration, the Constitution be damned.

Citizens United proved that.

Anybody who ever thought said otherwise is a moron or lying.

Technically, the decision won't come down until June or July, so we've got 60 to 90 days to get two instant responses ready:

1) Obamacare is dead: Long Live Medicare for All! It's the only way to save the things about Obamacare that everybody loves: no pre-existing conditions, no coverage limits or refusals, kids covered to age 26. Here's the best part: letting people younger than 65 buy into Medicare drastically lowers Medicare's per-patient cost and saves the program with no premium increases or service cuts. Ta-da!

2) Repugs Killed Obamacare! Sic 'em, Democrats! Anyone who does not vote for Democratic candidates this fall is voting to Let Little Children With Leukemia Die In The Streets.

This is easy, people, which is exactly why dems will fuck it up totally unless we're ready for it.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Sound of Silence"

By @KYYellowDog

Uploaded by aaag25 on May 9, 2010

Live in Central Park, 1981.


Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turn my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools," said I, "you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Austerity That's Killing Florida

As we contemplate the racist hellhole that is the "state" of Florida, let's keep in mind that any attempt by rational residents to restore civilization and the rule of law is undermined at the start by the radical budget austerity established by the fanatic repug regime in Tallahassee.


From Jacobin Magazine:

The Left should be paying attention to Florida. If you’ve ever desired a nightmarish vision of the legislature-driven austerity measures as what we’ve seen in Madison and Zucotti Park. I don’t want to downplay the noble efforts of the Floridian Occupiers (yes, they exist) but the state’s overwhelmingly suburban geography, its lack of density and dearth of prominent public space, prevents the sort of spectacular urban reclamation that made Occupy so compelling. And unionized public workers, the warp and woof of the Madison eruption, are a tiny minority of Florida’s total employed. Fittingly, the 2012 budget disproportionately harms university students and state workers, the two groups actively resisting the descent into austerity.

One might also wonder about the Florida Democratic Party, but they are not present either. It's the same everywhere. The Party looked at its massive losses in the 2010 elections and decided its only hope was to support austerity and elect more conservatives. After all, they lost to Republicans who ran on that platform, right? It must be what the people want. That's just where their logic naturally takes them when they lose.

It's a truly harrowing tale of a descent into fiscal and social madness, with no end in sight. It turns out that America hasn't been spared the European style austerity after all. It's just happening in the states.

What's being sacrificed to austerity in your state's budget? Trust me, something is. And it's something society needs.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Say it Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud"

Written by the immortal James Brown in the aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination.

Uploaded by crabby68 on Jan 12, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Case for Indentured Servitude

This is what comes of encouraging racist hate among the mouthbreathers too stupid and incompetent to support themselves economically: they can't even pay the court judgments against them.

From the Courier:

Winning a million-dollar judgment against a former leader of a Kentucky-based Ku Klux Klan group might have been the easy part for Jordan Gruver, a Latino man who sued after he was beaten at a county fair in 2006. Collecting the money could prove to be impossible.

“It’s one thing to have a judgment,” Theresa Radwan, a professor of bankruptcy law at Stetson Law School in Gulfport, Fla., said Friday. “It’s another to have money in hand.”

A jury awarded Gruver $2.5 million in 2008 in a judgment against Ron Edwards, former grand wizard of the Imperial Klans of America in Dawson Springs, and another former Klan member. Edwards was responsible for $1.3 million. The other Klan member settled out of court with Gruver.

Kyle Burden is the attorney for Edwards. Burden said Gruver and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represented him, won’t be able to collect anything because his client has no assets.

Richard Cohen, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s president and one of Gruver’s attorneys, said he plans to try anyway.

“Whatever we ultimately get from Mr. Edwards … will only be a small fraction of the verdict,” Cohen said. “I think his earning potential is low.”


Property liens and wage garnishments are the usual ways someone can collect on a judgment, said Radwan, the law professor. Frequently, with larger judgments, the defendant will go bankrupt or is virtually “judgment-proof” because of a lack of assets, Radwan said.

Either way, collecting becomes much more difficult, she said.

“The challenge is, if there is nothing, how much money do you spend going after nothing?” Radwan said.

Before christianity popularized execution or maiming for even the smallest crimes, some cultures require malefactors to compensate their victims with goods of comparable value. Criminals without assets could pay compensation in the form of a period of months or years as servant to the victim.

It doesn't sound like Edwards would be much good for anything but manual labor, and even then would have to be supervised closely and constantly.

But a court has ordered him to pay, and stupidity-caused poverty should not get him off the hook.

No Justice Without Representation

African-Americans figured this one out a long time ago: you can't get justice from a power structure that doesn't look like you.

So once the Voting Rights Act opened the door for black voting and black candidates, black faces began showing up on city councils and in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. Through four decades, progress was steady.

But suddenly, the faces are disappearing.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

There are 100 members of the United States Senate, and none is African American. There are 50 governors, and only one, Massachusetts' Deval Patrick (D), is African American, and he won't be able to seek re-election due to term limits.

Perhaps the 2012 elections will help bring some additional diversity to statewide offices? Apparently not. Jamelle Bouie reported (March 14) that there will very likely be no African-American candidates even running for governor or senator in November.

[S]ince the momentous 2008 election, there has been no great flowering of black political life, no renaissance in black political leadership. In a year when the first black president is running for re-election, the only African American bidding for a top statewide office is Maryland state Senator C. Anthony Muse, who is challenging Ben Cardin -- a well-liked incumbent -- in a hopeless race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. At most, by the end of 2012, two of the nation's 150 governors and senators will be African American.

Yes, David Patterson became governor of New York after the resignation of Eliot Spitzer, but he bowed out of running for a full term after struggling with low approval ratings and accusations of corruption. Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate, former Illinois lawmaker Roland Burris, operated under a cloud of scandal and didn't even attempt to win the seat in his own right. In 2010, a historically bad year for Democrats, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was the only African American to win statewide office.

If the number of officeholders was in line with African Americans' share of the population -- 12.2 percent -- there would be at least 12 African American senators and six governors. By contrast, the percentage of African Americans in the House of Representatives is nearly consistent with their share of the population -- 42 members, or almost 10 percent.

Jamelle's point wasn't just to recite the data, but rather, to consider what's responsible for these circumstances. Of particular interest, he takes note of the African-American House members who could, in theory, use their seats to springboard into statewide campaigns, but don't -- these lawmakers have lower name recognition, tend to be too liberal for statewide campaigns, and generally represent less-affluent districts, making fundraising far more challenging.

As for concerns about racism, Jamelle went on to argue, "[O]utright racism isn't the main reason that keeps African Americans locked out of the highest statewide positions. Rather, it's the accumulated effects of long-term racial discrimination -- the limitations associated with representing heavily black House districts or leading majority-black cities -- that block further advancement."

The result is that Deval Patrick will remain the only member of a very small club.

I don't think it's a coincidence that it took a grass-roots rally to get policy-makers to pay attention to the murder of Trayvon Martin at the same time that fewer powerful faces look like Trayvon.

On her new Current TV show "War Room," former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has been pushing hard for more women to run for public office. Let's all push for that, and for more African-Americans and Hispanics as well.

And the next time you get a chance to question a white, male candidate for public office, ask this: "How will you represent the interests of people who don't look like you?"

Songs to Fight the Plutocratic Theocracy By: "I Am Woman"

By @KYYellowDog

As we are having to re-fight battles we thought we had won 35 years ago, we could use some inspiration from the song that inspired feminists of all sexes back then.

Uploaded by saw1110 on Jun 4, 2009

Going Organic: Tools for Transition

If you're still getting pushback from neighbors, farmers and extension agents when you reject chemical additives for your garden and yard, here's an idea to get started in your county.

Phoenix woman at Firedoglake:

While browsing around the website of Lanesboro Local, a cooperative dedicated to promoting local foods in southeastern Minnesota (and filling the gap left when Lanesboro, Minnesota’s last grocery store shut down three years ago), I ran across this:

Tools For Transition is a project, partially funded through a grant at the U of MN, that will compile actual production and income/expense data for farmers transitioning to certified organic production. This data has been deemed important and useful to the extent that it has long been anecdotally surmised to cost too much money to transition to organic. This data is compiled through the Farm Business Management (FBM) programs throughout the state. FBM is basically an accountant for the farm that assists with developing annual cash-flows, business plan development and tax-planning. Once the data for the farms is collected, it is anonymously compiled into a database that provides analysis on profit and loss measures for the various enterprises (i.e. dairy, beef, row-crop, vegetable, swine, etc.) which then can be used to measure financial and production performance of transitioning farms against conventional or certified organic farms.

In 2001, Paul Schmidt and a select few organic farmers who were participating in the FBM program met with U of MN and developed the criteria and specific account codes to be used for organic enterprises for the FBM system. Since that time, there has been specific data compiled for organic producers, but it has not been differentiated between transitioning and certified. Hopefully this project will provide the data.

This sounds like a really good project, and just the thing to help put smiles on your faces after a long week of hard work.

Here’s some more info about it. Got anything similar going on in your neck of the woods?

For 70 years, since Robert Rodale founded Organic Gardening and Farming magazine, Big Ag and Big Chemical have pushed the same myth among farmers: "Organic is really cute, and may be OK for backyard hippies who don't mind losing 90 percent of their crop to bugs and weeds, but it can't work on a large scale for cash crops and livestock."

It was lies then and it's still lies today. Learn the facts about organic here.

The Unfairness of Child Porn Laws

On this gorgeous spring Sunday morning, how about something to get you riled up enough to go outside and pull weeds?

The Louisville Courier-Journal tackles the question head-on:

Born with spina bifida and dependent on a wheelchair, 26-year-old Jon Michael Fox cannot hurt a soul, his mother and lawyer say.

But after being caught with more than 1,200 images of child pornography on his computer, some of which he traded with others, Fox was sentenced in 2009 by a federal judge in Louisville to 14 years in prison — with no option of early release.

The Justice Department says that long sentences for offenders such as Fox — even if they have had no contact with children — are vital in slowing the demand for child porn and the abuse of children exploited in making it.

But Fox’s attorney, Frank Campisano Jr., called Fox’s sentence “ludicrous,” saying his client “never could be a threat to anyone, including a child.” Fox’s mother, Kathy, said, “He could have killed someone and got less.”

The facts appear to back her up.

I carry no brief for child pornography or anything that remotely smacks of the exploitation of the powerless by the powerful.

But the failure to distinguish between viewers of child pornography and producers of child pornography - like the failure to distinguish between flashers and molesters or sexually active teens and rapists - is an indictment of our criminal justice system.

It is particularly egregious in light of the failure to so much as investigate - much less prosecute, convict and imprison - the Wall Street criminals who destroyed trillions of dollars in middle-class income and equity.

That crime cost millions of jobs and will continue to cripple the U.S. and global economy for years if not decades.

Is what Jon Michael Fox did really so much worse?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Hunt Blue Dogs

If you are still giving money to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, stop right now.

All three are sabotaging Democratic efforts all over the country by helping repug-lite Blue Dogs beat real liberals in primary contests.

What do you do? You fight back against the Blue Dogs in your back yard.


There is a supposed truism among many progressives that the only thing the Democrats understand is pain and until they are soundly defeated they will not learn that they must listen to us. I agree that the worst Democrats must be defeated --- but it truly matters who defeats them. And that's because the lesson they learn from being defeated by conservatives is that they lost because they weren't conservative enough. Indeed, they run as hard and fast as they can to the right the next time. It is, after all, more rewarding for them anyway, in any number of ways.

Howie has a post up ... with all the big news about how the Blue Dogs and New Dems are reconstituting themselves as a power base in the wake of the 2010 Tea Party tsunami that nearly destroyed them. Let's just say they didn't exactly decide to become less beholden to corporate America or more ideologically progressive.

"Howie" of course is at Down with Tyranny, the go-to blog for superb, detailed coverage of liberal and progressive candidates fighting Blue Dogs in primaries around the country.

My favorite so far is Cecil Bothwell.

Few Democrats-- and none from North Carolina-- voted more frequently with the GOP since the 2010 elections than fumbling Blue Dog Heath Shuler. It made him so unpopular among Democrats in his western North Carolina district that polls showed that he would be defeated by progressive Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell. So, Shuler, a bigot and religious fanatic who voted with Republicans against equality for women and against equality for the LGBT community, decided to scale back on his plans to become Speaker or senator or governor or something big. Instead he'll settle for something rich-- as he trundles over to K Street to take up the mantle of a sleazy lobbyist. Lee Fang wondered yesterday if Shuler is engaging in bribery by negotiating for a lobbying job with the corporate shills at the Majority Group while he's still in Congress. It's one of several Blue Dog-oriented lobbying firms that launders corporate cash into political campaigns for Democrats who will get in bed with anti-family interests-- perfect for Shuler.


At least he's out of Congress-- or soon will be. Shuler's ProgressivePunch score this session is 38.55. That means crucial votes during 2011 and 2012 he voted with Cantor and Boehner over 60% of the time. And he has a chief of staff he wants to leave in his place to continue his work against the middle class and working class families who live in the district-- and, of course, to be available for all the lobbying he plans to do.

Shuler endorsed his staffer, Hayden Rogers, and last week the Blue Dog caucus came right in after him. That means the countdown for a check from Steny Hoyer and the nod from the DCCC can't be far behind. The flawed theory behind conservative Democratic support for Rogers is that the district is very conservative and that Rogers will have the best chance to beat the Republican. The problem, of course, is that conservatives in the district will support the Republican and that the only way for a Democrat to win in the newly gerrymandered district is to offer a vigorous alternative to the toxic, failed Republican agenda. But conservatives would rather lose with Rogers than win with Bothwell.

Democratic voters showed their regard for the Blue Dogs in 2010 when more than half of them were either defeated at the polls or forced to retire rather than be defeated. Since then, many of the most extreme right members of the Blue Dog caucus have announced their departure from electoral politics-- like Shuler. Rogers was Shuler's campaign manager before he was his chief of staff. Before that he was roommates-- at Princeton-- with Lyle Menendez, who was convicted with brother Eric in the 1989 shotgun slayings of their parents in Beverly Hills, Calif. Rogers worked for Lyle Menendez at the restaurant he bought after getting his parents’ life insurance money. Rogers hasn't been indicted for being part of the murder plot and he refuses to discuss his relationship with the Menedndez brothers.

Rogers may not be a murderer but he's a typical corrupt conservative careerist hack. The Democrat likely to beat him in the primary is Cecil Bothwell, who has been endorsed by Blue America . They couldn't be further apart on issues or approach. Last week Bothwell addressed women's health issues, issues where Rogers finds himself in bed with the Republicans (of course).


Last week the Bothwell campaign held a Family Fun Night Funder in a small town in District 11, with three bands, jugglers, face painting, balloon animals, pizza and beer with a suggested $15 donation at the door (kids free). One farm couple showed up with empty pockets, but offered two dozen eggs in lieu of admission which the campaign happily accepted. Meanwhile, Hayden Rogers was hosting a $2,500 a plate steak dinner, 250 miles east in Raleigh, the state capital. Bothwell quipped, "I guess with WNC ranking #3 in hunger in the United States, we both felt a need to feed our constituents."

Blue America's great hope Ilya Sheyman lost to a Blue Dog in Illinois on Tuesday, but a Blue America liberal in another district beat his Blue Dog:

So now that Dr. Gill has won the Democratic primary, the Democratic Party will step up and make sure he gets all the support he needs to win this swing district from vulnerable Republican Tim Johnson, right? Sure... and Steny Hoyer and Steve Israel will deliver that help on the back of a white unicorn. Wednesday Israel couldn't wait to add all the Illinois corporate shills the Machine had delivered to the DCCC's Red to Blue program. Every winning Democrat was added but one-- David Gill, the one progressive, the one anti-corruption candidate, the one candidate insisting on single-payer and insisting on thinking for himself instead of parroting the Beltway Democrats' claptrap. If we're going to get a Prairie State progressive into Congress this time, we won't be counting on DC Dems. This is something progressives and reform-minded citizens will have to step up to the plate for.

You don't have to settle for a corporate-owned Blue Dog. Find your liberals and progressives, and help them win.

True Barbarism

When the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act - and they will, Anthony Kennedy made that crystal-clear last week when he denied state employees the protection of federal law - when Obamacare dies, along with millions of suddenly uninsured Americans, remember this from Jonathan Chait:

Here [Romney] is in keeping with what has become almost a blood oath among Republicans. The conservative movement’s fanatical determination to achieve this goal — through the courts, through the election, through sabotage of its implementation by denying funds and refusing to confirm administrators — reveals an even higher level of commitment to the principle of denying health insurance to the undeserving. It is one thing to simply ignore the problem of the uninsured, by failing to act on it when you have power. But to actively crusade to throw vulnerable people off their newly-won health insurance is a higher sin, a sin of commission rather than omission.

In every other advanced country, the provision of universal access to medical care is a public responsibility. In every other advanced country, this principle has been accepted by the mainstream conservative party. Only in the United States does the conservative party uphold the operating principle that regular access to doctors and medicine should be denied to large chunks of the population. This sort of barbarism is unique to the American right.

Via Hullabaloo.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Calm Like a Bomb"

Uploaded by yurksemesh on Sep 11, 2008:

Artist: Rage Against The Machine
Song: Calm Like A Bomb
Album: The Battle Of Los Angeles


feel the funk blast,
feel the funk blast,
a yo-yo-yo-yo-yo-yo-yo, check it out yo-yo-yo
I be walkin god like a dog
My narrative fearless
Word war returns to burn
Like Baldwin home from Paris, Uh
Like steel from a furnace
I was born landless
Yes its tha native son
Born of Zapatas guns
Stroll through the shanties
And tha cities remains
Same bodies buried hungry
But with different last names
The vultures robbin everything
Leave nothing but chains
Pick a point on the globe
Yes tha pictures tha same
Theres a bank, theres a church, a myth and a hearse
A mall and a loan, a child dead at birth
Theres a widow pig parrot
A rebel to tame
A whitehooded judge
A syringe and a vein
And the riot be the rhyme of the unheard

What ya say? What ya say? What ya say? What? (x4)
Calm like a bomb
(ignite ignite ignite ignite ignite ignite)

This aint subliminal
Feel the critical mass approach horizon
Tha pulse of the condemned
Sound off Americas demise
Tha anti-myth rhythm rock shocker
Yes I spit fire
Hope lies in the smoldering rubble of empires
Yes back through tha shanties and tha cities remains
Same bodies buried hungry, uh-huh
With different last names, uh-huh
The vultures robbin everyone
Leave nothing but chains
Pick a point here at home
Yes the pictures tha same
Theres a field full of slaves
Some corn and some debt
Theres a ditch full of bodies
Tha check for the rent
Theres a tap, tha phone, tha silence of stone
The numb black screen
That be feelin like home
And the riot be the rhyme of the unheard

What ya say? What ya say? What ya say? What?(x4)
Calm like a bomb
(ignite ignite ignite ignite ignite ignite)

There's a mass without roofs
There's a prison to fill
There's a countrys soul that reads post no bills
There's a strike and a line of cops outside of tha mill
There's a right to obey
And a right to kill

There's a mass without roofs
There's a prison to fill
There's a countrys soul that reads post no bills
There's a strike and a line of cops outside of tha mill
There's a right to obey
And there's a right to kill!

"Once again, we're waiting on Congress"

I think you were misled, Mr. President, by Congress passing both the (no)JOBS and STOCK acts in one day last week. But those weren't "bills" so much as they were massive deregulatory gifts to Wall Street. Actual legislation - the kind that actually creates jobs and builds infrastructure - is anathema as long as repugs hold the House.

Full transcript here.

Two Years Later, What We Have to Lose

From Think Progress:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Maybe Homeland Insecurity Doesn't Have Enough Work to Do

Occupy is most certainly an existential threat to the power structure, but not the way they think. Or at least, not the way they approach the threat. Because, as usual, the "security" goons are spying on the wrong groups.

Digby on "Homeland Occupation:"

So, we found out (last month) that Homeland Security was doing some tracking of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It they've only done what was reported, it seems to be fairly benign, limited to tracking and analyzing the movement through public media. Here's the main thrust of its reasoning:

Mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas. Large scale demonstrations also carry the potential for violence, presenting a significant challenge for law enforcement.

I suppose that's true. But why is it the federal government's problem? No large scale political demonstration is going to be big enough that it could "disrupt" beyond the borders of a major metropolitan area or certainly not state borders. Lord knows there are plenty of local and state police around to handle anything that happens. There is no federal implication to any of it, unless it's happening in Washington DC.

These are explicitly political demonstrations, even if they aren't partisan, and great care needs to be taken to ensure that the government isn't interfering with that. I realize that we have a huge new federal policing apparatus with Homeland Security that needs to play with its toys, but I don't think it was designed for the purpose of monitoring domestic political demonstrations. After all, we already have the FBI for that --- and I would imagine they are doing their own monitoring, (also for no good reason, by the way.)

Local police are perfectly capable of handling demonstrations. There's no reason for the Feds to be involved.

But I do wonder, considering this revelation, if Homeland Security is monitoring the Tea Party at all? After all, there was a fairly good chance that some of the fringe far right characters who were involved were actually planning some terrorism. My guess is that the locals and maybe the FBI would have also been capable of dealing with that, but one could at least see some remote reasoning for DHS to be concerned with them over Occupy, which hasn't shown the slightest inclination toward any kind of terrorism or violent national threat.

DHS did warn of some threat from the Tea Party back on 09, of course. But you'll recall that they were harassed by the right wing into withdrawing their warnings. In fact, they ended up closing down the whole unit that was devoted to right wing extremist groups:

In an in-depth interview published in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, [former DHS analyst]Johnson reveals the level of sway the political right had in thwarting intelligence work on right-wing extremism. He says DHS deliberately "mischaracterized the report as unauthorized, even though it had passed through proper channels" and "instituted restrictive policies that brought the important work of his unit to a virtual standstill." As a result, Johnson "left DHS in dismay and was followed by almost all the members of his team, leaving a single analyst where there had been six." In comparison, there are at least 25 analysts devoted to tracking Islamic terrorism.

When questioned about Johnson’s claims -- which have been confirmed by current and former department officials in the Washington Post – DHS officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have repeatedly disputed his account and insist that "the level of activity by right-wing extremist groups has remained consistent over the past few years." In addition, they claim "the perception of increased extremist activity may be due to increased awareness of the threat by the government and the public." But the numbers beg to differ.

I wonder how many analysts they put on Occupy?

The fact is that right wing terrorist groups are growing and have been quite active over the past few years, which anyone who reads the paper knows. But the political pressure that was brought to bear was instantaneous and crushing. That was the end of that. So I would imagine they held back on doing any assessment of those who brought guns to political events for intimidation purposes or investigated any of the militia groups that have infiltrated the Tea Parties.

Again, I'm not sure what Homeland Security's role is supposed to be in all this to begin with. We already had the FBI for national law enforcement, which includes domestic terrorism.(And lord knows they have historically been eager and willing to infiltrate and monitor political movements.) I thought DHS was going to be for bringing all the federal authorities together to assess foreign threats to the "Homeland."

That it would end up infiltrating and duplicating the FBI and local law enforcement's jurisdictions was inevitable, however. If you build it, they will use it. And it appears they are using it to monitor events such as peaceful political demonstrations against domestic industries. Just don't ask them to monitor violent white supremacist groups or anti-government terrorists. It would go against the constitution and that would be wrong.

This week, DHS responded to a FOIA request by turning over documents on its Occupy spying to Truthout. Read more here.

Stop Praising Trayvon Martin

I don't want to read another fucking word about what a wonderful kid Trayvon Martin was. He was, of course, exactly the kind of smart, well-behaved, clean-cut, destined-for-success black kid white elitist repugs all claim to love to pieces.

And that's exactly the problem.

The murder of Trayvon Martin is an outrage and a tragedy not because Trayvon Martin was - in the words I am sure have been uttered many times in the repug cesspool that is the Florida legislature and law-enforcement community - "a good colored."

The murder of Trayvon Martin is an outrage and a tragedy because Florida law allows racist, mouthbreathing cop-wannabe crackers like George Zimmerman to gun people down for no reason.

If the person George Zimmerman shot had been a black, 6-foot-6, gang-tattooed, 300-pounds-of-muscle high-school dropout with a long juvenile and adult record of drug crimes, who did not live in the neighborhood, who was actually casing the area for burglary targets, and who was carrying a concealed weapon (Florida lets anybody carry concealed), the shooting still would have been murder.

Make no mistake; George Zimmerman is not going to spend a day in jail. I seriously doubt there's a judge or jury in Florida that would award Trayvon's parents a dime in wrongful-death compensation.

That's because the Stand Your Ground Laws - in Florida and a dozen other states - makes cold-blooded murder for fun legal.

Basing opposition to those laws on what a wonderful kid Trayvon Martin was is - you should excuse the expression - a dead-bang loser.

Victims of this law are far more likely to be big, ugly, dangerous felons than they are to be cute fluffy bunnies like Trayvon Martin.

But even big, ugly, dangerous felons who are not breaking the law have not earned execution

Best Appointment of this Administration

Maybe a better appointment than Richard Cordray. Damn close, anyway. And as it doesn't require Senate confirmation, I'm going to put it in the (nearly empty) container of evidence that Barack Obama might actually govern more liberally if he had a Democratic Congress.

Anyway, I have been a supporter of Partners in Health for years, and I'm here to tell you that anyone strongly connected with PIH is a Good Egg.

From PIH Founders Paul Farmer & Ophelia Dahl:

It gives us great joy to share the news that our Partners In Health co-founder and dear friend, Dr. Jim Kim, has been selected by President Obama as the United States’ nominee for the Presidency of the World Bank.

Jim is an inspired choice to lead the World Bank. Having seen him work in settings from inner-city Boston to the slums of Peru, from Haiti to Rwanda to the prisons of Siberia, we know that for three decades Jim has committed himself to breaking the cycle of poverty and disease. This has been his goal as a physician, a teacher, a policy maker, and a university president; it was ever his goal as a founder and director of Partners In Health, which now operates in more than a dozen countries.

Click here for more information on Dr. Jim Kim and Partners In Health.

Jim has worked in rural villages and squatter settlements, just as he has worked in the halls of power and privilege. Again and again, we, his friends and colleagues, have seen Jim imagine a better future, one that harnesses new technologies and older but sound notions of justice and equity, and links this vision to much more than talk and reports and studies.

Jim is all about delivery and about delivering on promises often made but too seldom kept. We can think of no one more able to help families, communities, and entire nations break out of poverty.

As poverty continues to claim lives, and as inequality deepens, the Bank -- and other institutions charged with lessening poverty -- need bold and experienced leaders and implementers like Jim Kim. Today is a proud day for us at PIH, and it is a great day for the poor and all who serve them.

Even superb World Bank president candidate Jeffrey Sachs says Kim is the best candidate and backs him 100 percent. This isn't a slam dunk. This is a full-court shot, nothing but net, at the buzzer to win the NCAA championship.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Battle of Los Angeles"

Uploaded by masterofacdcsuckaS on Feb 21, 2008:

Rage Against The Machine
Mic Check
The Battle Of Los Angeles


To tha young R to tha E tha B to tha E tha L
Never give up just live up
Fed upon America
We be spittin' it up
Rippin' it up
For an even amount in each cup
To my brothers burning bare feet on black top
Whose curled 'neath tha shadows
From tha gaze of tha cops
Whose huntin' for 9 to 5's through factory locks
Is now hunted on this modern day auction block

Flexin' and mashin'
With complex text
Fast and in a fashion
That snap back necks
Quicker than a fed cash tha company checks
Come with tha fire only Marley could catch
This be tha flame in tha cellar beware
Nameless cold millions gaspin' for air
Those naked and wageless
Now scream within cages
They make you pull your shit
Just to get your share

With this mic device
I spit nonfiction
Who got tha power
This be my question
Tha mass of tha few
In this torn nation?
Tha priest tha book or tha congregation?
Tha politricks who rob and hold down your zone?
Or those who give tha thieves tha key to their homes?
Tha pig who's free to murder one
Or survivors who make a move and murder one back?

Occupy the Racist Censorship

"Librotraficantes." I love it.

Students and activists set up ‘Underground Libraries’ of books prohibited in suspended Mexican American Studies classrooms.

Watch the video here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


The Rude Pundit, on guns, Trayvon Martin and the NRA:

Seriously, if the ACLU were as deranged in defending the First Amendment as the NRA is in defending its distorted version of the Second, you'd be able to walk up to a crucifixion statue in the middle of St. Boyrape's Cathedral, shit on Christ's face, and claim "freedom of expression," and the laws would back you up and how dare anyone be such a pussy as to claim that shitting on Christ's face isn't free speech.

Cell Tissue More Human Than Women

"The only reason they keep Qumari women alive is to make more Qumari men."
--- C.J. Cregg, West Wing episode "The Women of Qumar."

It hasn't changed. Not in 5,000 years. Women are not really human. They are just mechanisms for creating more men. Which is why the current "anti-contraception" hysteria among the repugs is not about contraception, abortion or even non-marital sex. It's about enshrining in law and society that a clump of cells is more human than any woman.

And it's working.

Digby on "Murderous Birthing Vessels":

War on women? Why do you say that?

March 14, 2012 marks the one-year anniversary of Bei Bei Shuai’s unprecedented and inhumane incarceration for having experienced such a profound sense of depression while pregnant that she attempted to kill herself.

Ms. Shuai was arrested, charged, and has been held without bail based on the claim that Indiana’s murder statute (death penalty or 45-years-to-life) and attempted feticide statute (up to 20-years) may be used to punish pregnant women who cannot guarantee a healthy birth outcome.

We hope that you will sign the grassroots petition to the Marion County Prosecutor telling him to drop the charges. The petition, in short, says: Unless it is your intention to make clear that in Indiana the “Pro-Life” position is “Pro-Life-Sentences-For Pregnant-Women” position, we urge to you drop all charges and Free Bei Bei Shuai now.

When I use the unpleasant term "birthing vessels" this is what I'm talking about --- this woman is only valued for the fact of her pregnancy. It's directly out of Handmaid's Tale.

Katha Pollitt wrote about this case in The Nation:

In December 2010 Shuai was running a Chinese restaurant in Indianapolis with her boyfriend, Zhiliang Guan, by whom she was eight months pregnant. Just before Christmas, he informed her that he was married and had another family, to which he was returning. When Shuai begged him to stay, he threw money at her and left her weeping on her knees in a parking lot. Despairing, she took rat poison and wrote a letter in Mandarin saying she was killing herself and would “take this baby with me to Hades”; friends got her to the hospital just in time to save her life. Eight days later her baby, Angel, was delivered by Caesarean section and died of a cerebral hemorrhage within four days. Three months later, the newly elected prosecutor, Terry Curry—a Democrat—brought charges, claiming that the rat poison that almost killed Shuai had killed her baby. If convicted, she faces forty-five to sixty-five years in prison.

Pollit goes on to point out that suicide attempts are unfortunately fairly common among pregnant women. I don't know if this prosecutor has heard, but pregnancy affects women's hormones, which can often result in personality and mood changes. It's completely horrifying to criminalize this sort of behavior and as Pollit points out, the medical profession worries greatly that this will result in women failing to seek help or be honest with their doctors. It's a recipe for disaster.

But it seems to be a very popular recipe:

Unfortunately, punishing women for their behavior during pregnancy is becoming more and more common, fueled by the passage of “unborn victims of violence” laws in at least thirty-eight states declaring the fetus (or, in twenty of those states, even the embryo or fertilized egg) a separate victim in cases of homicide. In most instances these laws were intended to protect pregnant women from violence, especially from abusive partners, not to apply to the women themselves. But that is not what has happened, as the antiabortion forces have gained power. “The prosecution’s legal arguments are exactly based on legal arguments behind the personhood measures now moving through the states,” Lynn Paltrow, executive director of NAPW, told me by phone. “They treat the fetus as completely separate within the pregnant woman. How can you be separate and within?”

That's the ultimate question, isn't it? And yet, we are rapidly becoming a society that not only values the potential person within, but values it more than the full realized person who contains it.

Pro-choicers have focused on the dangers fetal personhood measures present to abortion rights. That danger is real: they’re part of the antiabortion strategy to build up the legal status of the fetus as a person in so many parts of the law that when the Supreme Court finally revisits Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy will look like a bizarre exception. But these laws pose broader dangers to women, because they hold pregnant women liable for any conduct during pregnancy that a local prosecutor suspects caused a bad outcome—and bear in mind that every year 15-20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, 1 percent end in stillbirth and another 19,000 end in neonatal death. Under these laws, hundreds of pregnant women have been arrested, often on only tenuous evidence that their actions, including drug use, harmed their fetuses. In Alabama sixty women have faced such charges.

I've always felt that, at least for some, the intention of these fetal personhood laws was to make women responsible for "being bad" during the only time their lives matter --- pregnancy. And I never thought it was just about abortion. I've heard too many people making judgments and casting aspersions on even mundane aspects of pregnant women's behavior (like eating sweets or refusing to stop working) not to know that the impulse runs deep. For some people, a woman is never less human than when she's pregnant, which is bizarre indeed.

Read Pollitt's entire piece. And then go sign this petition. I don't know that it will do much good, but the war on women is getting some attention, so perhaps the time is ripe.

It's everywhere.

The Colorado House just passed a "first degree homicide of the unborn child" bill, which punishes pregnant women, not their abusers.

In Tennessee, if women won't behave themselves, the state will make sure everybody knows who they are so the bitches can be shot down in the street like they deserve.

Here's a reminder from - where else? - Arizona that you don't have to have a penis to be a misogynist.

In light of which, this Alaska bill merely requiring the sluts to get a permission slip from their rapist seems mild.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Can't Make It Here Anymore"

Uploaded by lame54 on Jun 7, 2006

A Reality-Based Budget for All

No, of course not Paul Ryan's pseudo budget, which would literally eliminate 80 percent of all spending that is not defense, social security and medicare and use the savings to fund still even more tax cuts for still even more obscenely wealthy parasites.

Down with Tyranny:

In the aftermath of Ryan's smoke and mirrors budget proposal (Tuesday), Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison convened an emergency meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus this morning to set the budget priorities for the Democrats' biggest and most influential House caucus. Grijalva pointed out that Ryan's feckless budget "compounds last year’s mistakes: reckless cuts that slash millions of jobs, an end to the Medicare guarantee, and higher health costs for America’s seniors. The GOP scheme gives more tax breaks to billionaires, Big Oil, and corporations that ship American jobs overseas."

Stressing, as they did last year when they presented the People's Budget, that "getting our fiscal house in order will require tough decisions. In charting a fiscally sustainable path and addressing the jobs crisis, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s "Budget for All" adheres to a vision of this country espoused by all Americans: We believe in lending a helping hand; keeping an eye out for our neighbors; a shot at the American dream for everyone; hard work, responsibility, and equal opportunity; and ensuring basic fairness."

In striking contrast to Ryan's budget, which is basically a roadmap to impoverishment for working families and a further collapse of the middle class, the CPC proposal asks "the most fortunate to contribute a sensible share, and help remake a country badly shaken, but whose best days have yet to come. We ask because we value a teacher as much as a CEO, a grocer as much as a venture capitalist, working moms as much as working dads, and our rough neighborhoods as much as our safe suburbs... The American living on Main Street believes in the covenant made between a government and its citizens. We hear them, and honor the promises made by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The CPC Budget protects these basic guarantees: When you are old, you will not live in poverty; when you are sick, you will have affordable health care; and when you’ve fallen on tough times, you will have financial support. Those promises are not up for negotiation or experimentation."

In essence this is a brief summary of what came out of (Wednesday's) meeting:

Americans believe, and experts agree, that the solution to our debt and deficit woes should rely on three components: Job growth, increased revenues, and spending cuts. The Budget for All-- like any legitimate budget plan-- relies on all three. Government is not the panacea for the issues that we face, but it is not the singular cause of our nation’s strife as some would suggest. Our budget is a plan for those that believe in a government that works for them and helps find solutions.

Our Budget Invests in Job Creation Now & Lays the Foundation for the Future

When middle-class Americans earn a paycheck, the entire economy succeeds. By focusing our investments in targeted areas such as transportation infrastructure, domestic manufacturing, and small businesses innovation, while supporting tax credits for working families, the Budget for All gets the economy back on the right track.

Our Budget Eliminates the Deficit by 2022

The CPC budget eliminates the deficit in a way that does not devastate what Americans want preserved, specifically, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Instead of eroding America’s hard-earned retirement plan and social safety net, our budget targets the true drivers of deficits in the next decade: unsustainable tax policies, the wars overseas, and the causes and effects of the recent recession. By implementing a fair tax code, building a resilient American economy, and bringing our troops home, we achieve budget balance by 2022 and a debt to GDP ratio that falls below 60%.

Overview of Our Policies

Our Budget’s Top Line

• Deficit reduction of $650 billion ($7.6 trillion relative to current policy)

• Primary spending cuts of $749 billion relative to adjusted baseline

• Revenue increase of $2.7 trillion

• Public investment and job creation measures of $2.36 trillion

• Budget surplus of $2 billion in 2022, debt at 58.7% of GDP.

Comprehensive Economic Recovery Package

• Infrastructure Bank

• Surface transportation investment (we propose a six-year $556 billion reauthorization bill that, over ten years, would lead to a $213 billion increase in transportation funding)

• Making Work Pay tax credit for 2013 through 2015

• $1.45 trillion domestic investment package including:

The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act-- School Improvement, Park Improvement, Student Jobs, Neighborhood Heroes, Health, Community, and Child Care Corps Job Creating Initiatives from the President’s FY2013 Budget

o Temporary 10 percent tax credit for new jobs and wage increases ($18.4 billion)

o Additional tax credits for investment in advanced energy manufacturing ($3.5 billion)

o National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes ($1 billion)

o Capital access for entrepreneurs and small businesses ($2 million)

o Manufacturing Communities tax credit ($4.4 billion)

o Tax credit for the production of advanced technology vehicles ($1.9 billion)

o Tax credit for alternative-fuel commercial vehicles ($1.7 billion)

o Double the amount of expensed start-up expenditures ($3 billion)

o Enhance and make permanent the research and experimentation tax credit ($108 billion)

Individual Income Tax Policies

• Allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the top 2% of earnings at the end of 2012, while extending marriage relief, credits, and incentives for children, families, and education.

• Allow the 28% and 25% brackets to sunset once the economy is on solid footing, in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

• Maintain refundable credits’ expansion as outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit)

• Index the AMT for inflation for a decade (the AMT patch is fully paid for)

• Enact the Fairness in Taxation Act - millionaire and billionaire tax rates proposal (adding 45%, 46%, 47%, 48%, and 49% top rates)

• Tax all capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income

• Repeal the step-up basis for capital gains

• Adopt sensible, pre-2001 estate tax policy

• Limit the rate at which itemized deductions can reduce tax liability to 28% for high earners

• Eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for vacation homes and yachts

• Replace the tax exclusion for interest on state and local bonds with a subsidy for the issuer

• Enact a high net worth surcharge (0.5% on wealth over $10 million, phased out over 10 years)

• End the exclusion for foreign-earned income

Corporate Tax Reform

• Eliminate corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies

• Enact a financial crisis responsibility fee

• Enact a financial speculation tax (derivatives, foreign exchange)

• Reinstate Superfund taxes

• Price carbon pollution together with a robust rebate that holds low and moderate income households harmless

• Close various corporate loopholes that distort true tax liability

• Adopt the international tax reforms in the President’s FY2013 budget

Health Care

• Enact a public option

• Allow Medicare to negotiate cheaper prescription drug prices in Part D

• Adopt the CMS program integrity and other Medicare and Medicaid savings in the President’s budget

• Adopt the generic prescription drug development and release proposals in the President’s budget

• Reduce fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicaid in the President’s budget

• Adopt the Narrowing Exceptions for Withholding Taxes (NEWT) Act

• Prevent a cut in Medicare physician payments for a decade (the “doc fix” is fully paid for)

• End subsidies for junk and fast food advertising to children

Social Security

• Eliminate the taxable maximum on the employer and employee side, phased in over 5 years.

• Maintain benefit structure, increase benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side

Defense Savings

• End overseas contingency operations emergency funding starting in Fiscal Year 2014, providing funding for a secure redeployment in FY2013

• Reduce baseline defense spending by reducing strategic capabilities, conventional forces, procurement, and end strength

Other Policies

• Enact Comprehensive immigration reform

• Reduce agriculture subsidies

• Adopt public financing of elections

Looking for new political role models for your children? Can't do better than Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Union Plan for Destroying the Nation Exposed!

Saving Social Security. Supporting working families. Reducing income inequality. Securing contraceptive availability. Cleaning up political campaigns. All of it right there on their website.

They are just shameless.

Kenneth Quinnell at Crooks and Liars:

In addition to their endorsement of Barack Obama's re-election campaign, the AFL-CIO at its recent convention outlined an ambitious platform of solutions to the problems that are undermining the country, the economy and the political system. The issues they tackle go beyond just worker's rights and represent one of the more aggressive political statements from labor unions in recent years. They issued a series of statements announcing their positions, including Citizens United:

The AFL-CIO supports the overturning of the Citizens United decision and calls for immediate action to end the dominance of our political system by corporations and the 1%. The AFL-CIO has long advocated for measures to bring about greater fairness, openness and participation in elections—reforms that enfranchise voters and ensure that wealth does not wield disproportionate influence. We support public financing of campaigns, limitations on individual contributions to candidates and parties and public disclosure of political expenditures. We also support measures to enable citizens to vote more easily, and we oppose voter identification and similar measures that are aimed at seizing partisan advantage through disenfranchisement. And, we oppose misleadingly labeled “paycheck protection” measures that would exacerbate inequality by hampering union political activity while leaving corporate and rich individuals’ political spending unimpeded.

The Citizens United ruling has opened the floodgates to massive spending by corporations and even more so by wealthy donors. They are pouring money into our electoral system and threaten to drown out the voices of hard-working Americans. Common-sense restrictions on their spending are needed, along with robust disclosure of their contributions and expenditures—including their contributions to organizations engaged in electoral activity.

The AFL-CIO also supports reforms aimed at restoring business corporations to their proper role as commercial institutions and limiting their influence in the political sphere. Business corporations are not people—they are manmade creatures of law that exist to generate economic activity and create jobs and income in communities. The notion that they should enjoy the same rights and protections as natural persons is absurd and it is destructive to our democracy. At the same time, for more than a century, corporations have enjoyed certain constitutional protections, such as due process protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, which are consistent with basic American values. We support reforms, including changes to our tax laws and corporate laws, that address corporate dominance of our political system and that restore corporations to their proper role in our democracy.

Congress should pass and the Supreme Court should uphold the necessary reforms to protect our democracy from the power of money. As long as Citizens United remains the law of the land, constitutional change may be the only option. Amending the U.S. Constitution should be a rare act, done with the greatest of care. To earn our support, any such amendment must be carefully and narrowly crafted to protect our democracy from the economic power of the 1%, while at the same time protecting the public’s right to organize politically through democratic organizations and movements.

On Social Security:

If America were to craft a solution to the retirement crisis, it would have the same components as Social Security—shared responsibility, pooled resources, portability and security, for example. But instead of increasing Social Security benefits to meet the real needs of real working families, foes of Social Security are attempting to cut it and "have spent enormous amounts of money spreading misinformation about the program."


It's good to see the AFL-CIO coming out with strong statements about their values and the action we should take moving forward. Unions are the backbone of the American left and when they are strong, we are all strong.

There's much more. Read the whole thing.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Stone in My Hand"

Uploaded by BlankTV on Nov 15, 2008