Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hey, What About ....

Have some fun with these - ask your downballot candidates what they think. And come up with some of your own.
Neither candidate is interested in stopping the use of the death penalty for federal or state crimes.

Neither candidate is interested in eliminating or reducing the 5,113 US nuclear warheads.

Neither candidate is campaigning to close Guantanamo prison.

Neither candidate has called for arresting and prosecuting high ranking people on Wall Street for the subprime mortgage catastrophe.

Neither candidate is interested in holding anyone in the Bush administration accountable for the torture committed by US personnel against prisoners in Guantanamo or in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Neither candidate is interested in stopping the use of drones to assassinate people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia. 

Neither candidate is against warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention, or racial profiling in fighting “terrorism.”

Neither candidate is interested in fighting for a living wage.  In fact neither are really committed beyond lip service to raising the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour  – which, if it kept pace with inflation since the 1960s should be about $10 an hour.

Neither candidate was interested in arresting Osama bin Laden and having him tried in court.

Neither candidate will declare they refuse to bomb Iran.

Neither candidate is refusing to take huge campaign contributions from people and organizations.

Neither candidate proposes any significant specific steps to reverse global warming.

Neither candidate is talking about the over 2 million people in jails and prisons in the US.

Neither candidate proposes to create public jobs so everyone who wants to work can.

Neither candidate opposes the nuclear power industry.  In fact both support expansion.

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

Uploaded by BlankTV on Nov 15, 2008

Now That's More Like It: 75 Percent Tax Rate on the Richest Motherfuckers

This is what you get when you elect a real Socialist as President.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

France has announced a massive redistributive tax program which would send the top tax rate soaring and increase taxes broadly on the top 10% of society.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said that nine out of 10 citizens will not see their income taxes rise in the new budget.
He has confirmed that there is to be a new 75% tax rate for people earning more than 1m euros (£800,000; $1.3m) a year.
The 75% rate would be on income earnings, but there will also be a wealth tax on holdings above 1.31 million euros, and a cap on tax deductions, as well as a reduction on the tax burden at low incomes.
It's not all good news: France is also slashing spending, for no good reason whatsoever.
So the best way to think of this is as a redistributive tax plan. You could alternately call it left-wing austerity, and I wouldn’t agree with the austerity label totally but for the fact that France also plans to cut spending back, and overall the budget has been called “France’s toughest single belt-tightening in 30 years.” That comes not from an analyst, but President Francois Hollande.

The question would be why. France now carries a public debt burden of around 91% of GDP. This isn’t great, but it hasn’t affected their borrowing costs at all. During the Presidential campaign, Hollande swore off austerity in favor of growth. Now he appears to be backsliding, and these kind of pullbacks in the budget don’t make a ton of sense in an environment where the country can still borrow. Hollande would no doubt respond that the Eurozone carries dangers all its own, and the bond market could turn to France and make trouble quickly.

Taking the other side, the redistributive nature of this progressive tax plan is right in line with research on how to best eliminate the negative effects of inequality.
Exactly. Study after study after study shows that for the past century, high tax rates on the wealthy correlate with strong economic growth, reduced income inequality and an expanded middle class. What's not to love?

I mean, shit - if all higher tax rates on the parasite rich did was make the motherfuckers suffer, that would be more than sufficient justification. That making them suffer with high taxes also grows the economy is just gravy.

The Emergency Room Is Not Health Insurance

Twice in the last two years I've had to go to a hospital emergency room on a weekend with a condition my personal physician could not treat, even if his office had been open.
I did not realize just how extremely fortunate I was to be able answer "yes" to the admitting nurse's question: "Do you have health insurance?" Because if I'd said no, I might still be waiting to be treated.
Not only do I still owe approximately $33,000 from last year's emergency room treatment (including $1000 for the ambulance ride), I was misdiagnosed -- possibly on purpose, to avoid surgery. Who knows? All I know is, life without health insurance is a very risky proposition, and that fact that Mitt Romney doesn't even seem to know why it is tells me that he either has the worst memory in the world (you'd have to think he was at least aware of these problems when he was a governor working on on his health care plan) or that he simply doesn't care about health care for the uninsured. Either way, it's not very flattering. I wonder if he could at least be interested enough to watch this documentary:
Eric Morgan, in his 20s and planning to get married, arrives at Highland Hospital's emergency room, shaken that he has been diagnosed with a testicular tumor that is likely cancer.
Surgeons at a private hospital have turned him away for lack of insurance but tell him it's "urgent" he get care.
Demia Bruce -- out of work for a year -- anxiously waits in the same ER with his 5-year-old daughter, her face swollen and burning with fever.
Carl Connelly has overdosed on drugs and alcohol, and Davelo Lujuan can't bear the pain of his spinal bone spurs. They, too, wait.
A provocative new documentary, "The Waiting Room," is a snapshot of Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., one of the nation's busiest safety-net hospitals, which is stretched to the limit with 241 patients a day, mostly uninsured, who need medical care they can't afford.
The film, directed by Peter Nicks and getting Oscar buzz, opens at the IFC Center in New York City on Wednesday, Sept. 26 and in the greater Los Angeles area at Laemmle Theaters in Santa Monica, Pasadena and Claremont on Friday, Sept. 28, before showing around the country. "The Waiting Room" will also be aired by PBS in 2013.
Nicks follows 24 hours in the lives of artists, small business owners, factory workers and unemployed parents who have been hit hard by the economy -- and hit harder still by a healthcare system that has left them out.
"Bring your breakfast, lunch and dinner -- everything honey," an African-American patient who has been waiting for days to see a doctor, tells a new arrival.
They take a number and they wait, sometimes coming back two or three days in a row. It might be months before they can get a doctor's appointment. With only one operating room, the most urgent cases go first and the rest wait. A man with a survivable gunshot wound has waited two days to be seen.
"It is the place of last resort," said Nicks, 44, whose wife is a speech therapist at Highland Hospital and came home with stories of patients' troubled lives.
No, Mitt Romney and the rest of your overprivileged parasite billionaire friends, emergency rooms are not the poor people's version of health insurance. Emergency room "treatment" of the uninsured is the final proof of how desperately we need Medicare For All, if not VA-style Socialized Medicine.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Your Grammar Nazi

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal, who absolutely knows better:
At TNR, Francisco Toro warns that instability in Venezuela following October elections could effect U.S. elections.
Unless he means that instability could cause the U.S. elections to take place, the word he really wants is "affect."
Among the pairs of words writers often confuse, affect and effect might be the most perplexing, perhaps because their meanings are so similar. Affect, derived from affectus, from the Latin word afficere, “to do something to, act on,” is easily conflated with effect, borrowed from Anglo-French, ultimately stemming from the Latin word effectus, from efficere, “to bring about.”
 Although there is a rare exception, the general rule to keep you off the Grammar Nazi's radar is this: when the word you want is a verb, use Affect.  When the word you want is a noun, use Effect.

Bringing Abortion Back to Wichita

FUCK YOU, Scott Roeder. FUCK YOU, Operation Rescue. And FUCK YOU, Sam Brownback.

Rebeka Dryden at Maddowblog:

The shuttered abortion clinic once operated by the late Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas has been purchased by an abortion rights group with plans to open a new clinic at the site and resume abortion services there. The sale was first reported by the Wichita Eagle. There has been no known abortion provider in Wichita since Dr. Tiller was assassinated in 2009.

The new owner is the Trust Women Foundation. Director Julie Burkhart confirmed reports of the purchase. Burkhart is a former Tiller employee. After his death she founded the Trust Women PAC  to address access to abortion in under-served states. "Trust Women" was a favorite motto of Tiller's -- he is said to have worn a "Trust Women" button every day.

Burkhart says her goal for the new clinic is a health center that would provide first and early-second trimester abortions as well as a full range of OBGYN services. She'll need doctors who are both qualified and willing to provide those services in Wichita. Burkhart says she is talking to physicians both locally and from out-of-state. Under a Kansas law enacted last year, the clinic could be required to meet strict new architectural standards, and its doctors could be required to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. That law is currently tied up in court and would only apply if it's ultimately cleared. "Our strategy is whatever the law is, whatever they throw our way we will be able to abide by the letter of the law so women will be able to come in and get services," Burkhart says.

Burkhart hopes to open the new clinic in the first quarter of next year, but she's bracing herself for the opposition she expects to encounter as she tries to make that happen:
"I suspect that [the anti-abortion movement is] going to come out and protest. I suspect that they'll have some new bills up in Topeka. And I think that they'll be looking for any and every opportunity to hold us up, to close us up, and to slow us down."
Kari Ann Rinker, the Kansas state coordinator for the National Organization for Women, talks about the news with the same tone of cautious resolve. "Getting a building is a great accomplishment. We [in the abortion rights community] are all thrilled that [Burkhart] has been successful in this part of her journey. But there are still a lot of unknowns," she says, pointing to the clinic regulations that are tied up in court, pressure from anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue, and new restrictions that may come out of what's expected to be a more conservative state legislature after November's elections. "We're happy, but we're all realistic and we know what happens here."

By "what happens" in Wichita, Rinker means what happened to local family doctor Mila Means after she announced, in 2010, her intention to begin providing abortion services in Wichita. There were protests at Means' family medical practice as well as her home, she received a letter warning that she'd need to check under her car for a bomb every day if she decided to provide abortions, and her landlord sued to block her from providing abortions at her existing medical practice.

Last year, when Dr. Means agreed not to provide abortions at her current practice, Operation Rescue declared victory and took credit for stopping her. When news of Burkhart's plans for Dr. Tiller’s old clinic broke this week, Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue said in a statement, "The abortion group may have bought Tiller’s old building, but that is still a far cry from resuming abortions in Wichita. If Trust Women wants to provide abortions then Operation Rescue will make sure the business is neither profitable nor sustainable."
I've contributed money to Trust Women since it was founded, and no donation among my annual two dozen gives me greater satisfaction. I'll be giving more this year, and with it a giant FUCK YOU, Operation Rescue.

Fourth Amendment Water Too Hot For You Yet?

Speaking of losing our constitutional rights ....
Ars Technica:
Statistics obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union provides additional evidence that government surveillance of Americans has skyrocketed in recent years. The government is legally obligated to release reports about its surveillance activities, but it refused to do so until the ACLU sued to compel the production of the documents.

The reports concern what lawyers call "pen register" and "trap and trace" records. These terms originally referred to hardware devices law enforcement could attach to the phone network to capture information about (but not the contents of) phone calls. Pen registers recorded outgoing phone numbers. Trap and trace devices recorded incoming phone numbers.

Today's telephone networks have the ability to capture this information without any special equipment. And the government has expanded the concept to include other forms of communication such as email.

The legal standard for conducting this kind of non-content surveillance is less stringent than the rules for conducting a wiretap. To get a wiretap order, the government must convince a judge that it is essential to an investigation, but pen registers must merely be "relevant" to an investigation to obtain the approval of a judge.

The statistics uncovered by the ACLU show a striking increase in the frequency of government surveillance. Here is the number of orders issued by the government over the last 12 years:
Why is the government spying on us so much more than it did just a decade ago? The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were surely one motivating factor. But it can hardly explain the sharp increase in the last two years. Another important factor is likely just supply and demand. As information technology in general has gotten cheaper and more powerful, the technology to capture and store large amounts of intercepted data has also gotten cheaper. So economic constraints that limited the amount of data the government could collect in the past has become less and less of a constraint.
That old story about slowly boiling a frog isn't true: as soon as the water gets too hot, the frog will jump out of the pot.

If only we were that smart.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Wake Up"

Uploaded by communist9 on May 26, 2009

"It left middle-class families holding the bag"

If only Bush/Cheney's TARP had put that $700 billion toward helping defrauded homeowners instead of bailing out the criminal banks, this wouldn't be a problem today.

Full transcript here.

Bipartisanship is Racist

Americans have always been viciously partisan.  The bipartisanship of the 40 years from FDR to Nixon was a freak episode due solely to the willingness of liberals to cut African-Americans out of the deal to get "socialistic" benefits for whites. Civil rights blew that deal to smithereens, and now we're back to normal: viciously partisan. 
There was something crucial that changed all of American politics after 1960: the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement and its aftershocks had a dramatic impact on the country that would not be reflected in most issues polling. One of those impacts was on political partisanship. I've noted in the past that it was largely the impact of the Civil Rights Movement (combined with the power of big money to lobby the racist vote) that gradually killed bipartisanship in the United States:
But by far the biggest is that the bipartisanship of the mid-20th century was a special artifact of the uneasy alliance between traditional urban liberal tribes and religious Dixiecratic populists in the South and Midwest. As I've written before, FDR was quite able to aggressively take on the financial and corporate interests of his time with a broad coalition. But he couldn't pass an anti-lynching law without destroying his support base, and he was all too willing to institute the Japanese internment camps. In other words, FDR could take on the power of big money with ease, but he couldn't take on the power of Big Racism.

The result of this dynamic was an uneasy bipartisanship between otherwise competing interests. Men like Strom Thurmond would vote for "socialist" policies as long as only whites got the benefits.

The advent of the Civil Rights movement marked the beginning of the end of bipartisanship. As tax dollars were increasingly seen as going toward non-whites, Dixiecrats became Republicans and allies of big business interests. Similar dynamics occurred with anti-Hispanic sentiment in the West. All the religious fervor that had been reserved for progressive social justice issues by the "Progressive" movement in the late 19th century (which included, by the way, quite conservative ideas like the prohibition of alcohol: late 19th century progressives would have strongly opposed modern liberals on issues like marijuana legalization alone...) flipped to socially conservative issues. The women's equality movement only added further fuel to the socially conservative patriarchal fire.

At this point it was easy and natural for the racist culture warriors to align completely with the corporatists. The need for uneasy alliances disappeared. The rationale for men like Strom Thurmond to support New Deal policies and chat about them at cozy cocktail parties disappeared. The battle lines were set.
I'm sure the fractured media environment is partly to blame for the increased partisan fervor. But that's not all. It's also a largely cultural phenomenon driven by a difference between the legacy of those who favor expanded rights for women and minorities, and those who don't. That in turn affects cultural issues of urbanism versus suburbanism and a host of other touchstones that are merely reflections of that same divide, but wouldn't show up on most issues-based polling that is the bread and butter of political scientists and media analysts.

Increased partisan fervor, in other words, is a real cultural phenomenon, not a media-driven tribal epiphenomenon. But to call out why that is would be hurtful to some people's feelings and cultural heritage, and thus cannot be said in polite discourse.
The problem with bipartisanship today is not that it's racist; it's that it's downright destructive.

When both parties hold the same position on a policy that's harmful to the economy - say, letting Wall Street loot the Treasury and kill Main Street - that's bipartisanship and it's bad for the country.

When both parties refuse to discuss the elephant in the room - say, the covert use of drones to murder civilians in countries with whom we are not at war - that's bipartisanship and it's bad for the country.

Vicious partisanship by both parties is essential to successful democracy.

We need Democratic office-holders who will stand up and proclaim: "cutting entitlements is wrong, and anybody who claims otherwise is lying."

Elect vicious partisans who will chew nails and spit rust. They will save the country.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

From Charlie Pierce:

The problem with the Romney campaign is not the alleged ideological incoherence of his political resume. The problem is that he's trying to appeal to a party full of moral monsters.

You Couldn't Survive on Food Stamps

This is why food stamps should be double the current allowance of $29 per week and double the maximum eligible income - not just because every food stamp dollar adds $1.70 to the economy, but because people can't work - and children can't learn - when they're starving.
I flagged a piece by Ezra the other day talking about how much effort it takes to get through life when you're poor (and how clueless he rich are when they assume otherwise.) Here's a politician who decided to see for himself, at least with respect to what it's like to live on very little money for food:
When local activist groups challenged Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to live on a food stamp budget for a week to mark Hunger Awareness Month, he took them up on the offer and found out just how hard it was. Stanton kept a diary on the challenge, which allotted him roughly $29 a week, the same amount 1.1 million Arizonans receive from the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) each week.

By day four, Stanton noted that he was “tired” and “it’s hard to focus” after leaving the house for work without time to scramble eggs or eat a decent breakfast:
OK- ran out the door today with no time to scramble eggs or even make a sandwich. So I’m surviving on an apple and handful of peanuts, and the coffee I took to the office until dinner. I’m tired, and it’s hard to focus. I can’t go buy a sandwich because that would be cheating- even the dollar menu at Taco Bell is cheating. You can’t use SNAP benefits at any restaurants, fast food or otherwise. I’m facing a long, hungry day and an even longer night getting dinner on the table, which requires making EVERYTHING from scratch on this budget. It’s only for a week, so I’ve got a decent attitude. If I were doing this with no end in sight, I probably wouldn’t be so pleasant.
See? 29 bucks will certainly buy you a big pot of beans and rice. You can throw in a couple of onions and some canned corn and couple of chicken feet or something and then just eat a bowl a day. Why you might even be able to afford an apple and a banana if you're really frugal. What are these people complaining about?

Food stamp recipients deserve empathy and respect, not this.

Shame on Kroger.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "I Won't Back Down"

Great Protest Songs:

Petty’s classic 1989 song of defiance against forces of oppression. Ironically, it was used by by George Bush in his 2000 presidential election campaign until he was threatened with legal action from Petty’s publishers. Pete made this video using images of protests from the Vietnam war era, the 1984 British Miners’ strike, the end of the Berlin Wall, 2010 London student fee protests, and the 2011 freedom struggles in the Middle East and North Africa. Enjoy!

Wake the Fuck Up

Pass it on.

More Drug War Stupidity in Kentucky

This stupidity will not stop one single person from getting prescription drugs illegally.  It will, however, bankrupt thousands of Kentuckians while enriching already obscenely wealthy insurance companies and the drug-testing companies they own.

Not to mention hacking another major limb off our Constitutional rights.

John Cheves at the Herald:

To curb prescription drug abuse, Kentucky started in July requiring people with long-term prescriptions for controlled substances to submit to urine testing. The tests determine if patients take their drugs, rather than sell them, and if other, unprescribed drugs are in their systems.

In Lexington, retired nurse Cynthia Burton grudgingly followed the rules Aug. 14 by urinating into a plastic cup so she could get a refill of her insomnia medicine. Her husband did the same for his anxiety medicine.
Last week, Burton's insurance company, Bluegrass Family Health, sent her a letter. The urine tests at LabCorp cost $533 each, and because they were not medically necessary, the insurer said, it won't pay for her husband's test. She's still waiting to hear if it will pay for hers, but she's not optimistic given that it was the same test for the same reason under the same plan.

"More than $1,000 is pretty damn big to us. We're both retired, so it's a lot of money," said Burton, 61, "What I don't like is that, under this law, we're considered guilty until proven innocent. We're having to prove our innocence at considerable expense."
Call your state legislators and tell them to fix this abomination.

Read more here:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another Way the Richest Have It Easiest

You wanna pay your slacker CEOs billions to sit around and take credit for the work real workers do for minimum wage, fine. Just don't claim they've earned it.

I don't think this will come as a big surprise to anyone familiar with the real world, but it might come as a surprise to the Fox News set that endlessly glorifies all those job creators. It turns out that the rich and powerful don't lead especially tough lives after all:
A new study reveals that those who sit atop the nation's political, military, business and nonprofit organizations are actually pretty chill. Compared with people of similar age, gender and ethnicity who haven't made it to the top, leaders pronounced themselves less stressed and anxious. And their levels of cortisol, a hormone that circulates at high levels in the chronically stressed, told the same story.
The source of the leaders' relative serenity was pretty simple: control. Compared with workers who toil in lower echelons of the American economy, the leaders studied by a group of Harvard University researchers enjoyed control over their schedules, their daily living circumstances, their financial security, their enterprises and their lives.
...."People in a company at all levels may be affected by the market and its unpredictability," she said. But while rank-and-file employees may worry about being laid off, chief executives can pretty much rest assured that "they'll keep their position in society, their superiority, their lifestyle and their income" even if the organization over which they preside suffers, she said.
Worrying about whether your division will meet its revenue goals is unquestionably stress inducing. But guess what? Worrying about being laid off, not finding a job, losing your home, and not being able to buy food for your kids — that's a lot more stressful. People in the middle and at the bottom of the pile live tough lives, and lack of money and control make their lives even tougher. The rich should probably extend them a wee bit more sympathy than they do.
 No, I don't want the sympathy of the rich. I want the money they've stolen from me and every other working stiff in this country, and I want it now.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Saltwater"

From Great Protest Songs:

In a haunting song that echos John Lennon’s music, Julian contrasts the many accomplishments of modernity with world poverty and environmental decimation. ‘Time is not a friend/’cos friends we’re out of time’ states the awful truth facing us in the early part of the 21st century.

The images in this video are particularly beautiful.

Freakazoid Asshole Is a Freakazoid Asshole

Tell ya what, Porn 'Stache, the ladies will forego abortion coverage under Obamacare for exactly as long as you give up your taxpayer-funded Viagra prescription.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

From Roger Alford at AP:

A Lexington lawmaker has drafted legislation that would prevent insurance plans made available to Kentuckians under federal health care reforms from paying for abortions.

Republican state Rep. Stan Lee said Wednesday he intends to push for the legislation when lawmakers convene in January, despite assurances from Gov. Steve Beshear's administration that abortions won't be covered.

Lee said he'd prefer to have the prohibition clearly spelled out in law, "just to make sure."

"We want to make sure that no public funding is used to pay for abortions," he said. "I would think that even the people on the other side of the abortion issue shouldn't have too much consternation about this."
Hey, Porn 'Stache:  I have a shitload of consternation about this.
  • A: It is none of your fucking business what anyone uses her health insurance to cover, as long as that person's personal physician has OK'd it.
  • B: Abortion must be on-demand, free of charge, unrestricted, no-question, available-on-every-street-corner, and paid for directly out of your fucking pocket, motherfucker.
And shame on Governor Waste of Oxygen for surrendering before battle was even joined. You just won re-election, so you've got nothing to lose by defending the human rights of half of the fucking population. Let your un-democratic, union-busting, piece-of-shit Lt. Gov. fight his own fucking election.

Read more here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Would David Williams Care About Fabian Avery?

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is reportedly contemplating appointing state senate president and infamous vicious bully David Williams to a judgeship - a traditional way of getting political rivals out of the way.

Somehow I doubt one of the considerations is how suspected or even convicted criminals are likely to fare at the hands of Williams - a man so lacking in human compassion he named Ritchie Farmer as his gubernatorial running mate.

Because in 2012 America, even the shortest prison sentence - or confinement while awaiting trial - is condemnation to torture, if not death.

Fabian Avery III was seventeen when he died.

And were it not for how he died, we might offer our condolences, maybe we’d say he was in prison anyway, but we probably would not be reading this story. There'd have been no one to write it.

You’re reading about his death because he was yet another victim of a prison system that is utterly broken and whose inmates are just about utterly forgotten.

If you have a strong stomach, here’s Fabian’s story as told by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

He died last year in solitary confinement. He died because the jail he was locked up in had only the services of a doctor and a nurse who allegedly failed to try to get any specialist professional help from anywhere else.
Fabian was sick, very sick. He died of appendicitis and complications from a bowel obstruction, according to investigative documents compiled by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He first reported being ill on Feb. 24, 2011 and was given minimal attention. He complained of nausea, stomach pains, vomiting and lower back pains, as well as frequently vomiting and defecating on himself and failing to clean himself up – reportedly the reason he was placed in solitary. Jail staff allegedly did little to help get Avery the necessary care.

He had been arrested in December 2010 on armed robbery charges. He was transferred from the Fulton County jail in late February 2011 to alleviate overcrowding and placed in a small-town lockup at the Mize Street Municipal jail in the South Georgia town of Pelham.According to Casela and Ridgeway, Fabian Avery III weighed 153 pounds when he was transferred to Pelham. He was found dead nearly a month later — on the morning of March 18, 2011 — on a mattress on the floor of his 6-by-10-foot isolation cell. They write that his 6-foot-1-inch frame had shriveled to 108 pounds.
Three weeks ago, Melissa Harris-Perry did a great segment on prison reform - or rather the lack of it.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "God Save the Queen"

I hope you will not think it's cheating that I found some great protest songs on a website called ... Great Protest Songs dot com.

Our tribute to the Royal wedding and all the poor people who will be paying for it. Isn’t it great – the poor get poorer, the rich get richer – mmm how about a revolution? Oh and just a tip to you Yanks – a lot if us don’t like the Royals so please don’t patronize us by saying how great they all are… ;-)

How Bad is the Pay Gap in Your District?

Believe it or not, Kentucky is not even close to the worst in this measure.

From Think Progress:

Women are earning less than men in 97 percent of Congressional districts, the National Partnership for Women and Families has calculated. That means that only 13 members of Congress have the privilege of representing an area where women are out-earning or making equal pay to men.

Nationally, women make just 77 cents to a man’s dollar on average, but in some districts, that number is as low as 61 cents:
Here are Kentucky's numbers:

District Percent of Men's Median Pay Amount Lost per Year 3
District 1 79 % $7,743
District 2 77 % $9,393
District 3 82 % $8,259
District 4 82 % $8,375
District 5 72 % $11,068
District 6 81 % $8,542

Districts 1 and 5 are far western and far eastern Kentucky, respectively. Along with District 2 in west-central and southern Kentucky, they are traditionally the poorest regions of the state. District 3 is Louisville, 6 is Lexington and 4 is the Cincinnati suburbs of northern Kentucky.

We are, as ever, thankful for Louisiana and Mississippi for making us look good by comparison.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beware the "Balanced Approach"

Taxes and spending are so grotesquely distorted in the federal budget that we need a decade of confiscatory taxes on the rich and trillions in increased spending on the working poor to even begin to address the current imbalance.

So let's dispense with the bullshit about how taking pocket change from billionaires in exchange for gutting Social Security and Medicare is anything approaching a "balanced approach."

A good friend questioned my cynicism the other day about Obama's newly aggressive defense of Social Security at the AARP meeting and I thought hard about that. I've been extremely hard on the administration for their stated desire for a Grand Bargain long before the fiscal cliff was even hatched -- in fact, since the beginning of the first term. And I guess I just tend to be suspicious any time a President suggests early on that he has a grandiose plan for his legacy and then uses "problems" that come along later to justify it. If Obama hadn't said straight out that he wanted to solve all the problems of the world with his Grand Bargain I might not be so cynical.

Well it turns out that I'm not the only one. This guy is cynical too:
One of the most progressive voices in the caucus, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), said he was heartened to hear Obama tell the AARP last week that he'd be open to raising the cap on income that's taxed for purposes of paying into the Social Security trust fund. Sanders also applauded the president for taking off of the table any reform language that resulted in the "slashing" of benefits (several Social Security advocates, disagreeing with Sanders, said they were worried such language was counterproductive, as it opens the door for cuts that could be deemed minor).

But the Vermont Independent worried that all of this could be posturing for the lame-duck session immediately after the election, when lawmakers are expected to rush to find another "grand bargain" on tax and entitlement reform to stave off the so-called fiscal cliff.

"That's exactly what's going to happen," Sanders said of Social Security being on the proverbial table, "Unless someone of us stops it -- and a number of us are working very hard on this -- that's exactly what will happen. Everything being equal, unless we stop it, what will happen is there will be a quote-unquote grand bargain after the election in which the White House, some Democrats will sit down with Republicans, they will move to a chained CPI."
If he's worried, I'm worried. The Chained CPI is a benefits cut. And it's one that will hurt those who remain on Social Security the longest, usually elderly women in their 80s and 90s. I suppose they can try to go out and get a job to augment their inadequate incomes, but I can't think of who will hire them. This is a prescription for catfood for these very old people.


I love how it's always this "pay a little bit more" like we couldn't possibly ask these job creating Galtish heroes to kick in more than a pittance lest something really terrible happen.


The only thing we can hope for is that either the left or the right wings of the congress --- perhaps both --- say no. It will be a lot more likely if they have a chance to organize in the new congress than if this is all done at lightening speed to avoid going over the fictional fiscal cliff in the lame duck.

Lame duck gridlock is in out best interest in so many ways. This is definitely one of them.
Confiscatory taxes to eliminate billionaires. A trillion dollars in infrastructure spending to create 10 million high-paying, full-benefit jobs. Then we'll talk entitlements.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Shock and Awe":

A reminder that the same always-wrong warmongers who started the Iraq clusterfuck are now beating the drums for war in Iran. For the same un-American, war-profiteering reasons, but to far, far worse effect.

Uploaded by sdg33 on Mar 31, 2008

Shock And Awe is the fith track on Blow Up Hollywood's CD The Diaries of Private Henry Hill

Violent Images Are the Last Refuge of the Incompetent

Yeah, we've seen these before. That's not a fetus, by the way - more like a three-year-old. Probably one killed and dismembered in one of the countless violent conflicts around the world that vicious motherfuckers like Beacham don't give a shit about.  Protesting violence against post-birth human beings, after all, doesn't provide an opportunity to act out your own sexual repression by suppressing women.

From the AP:

An anti-abortion activist who filed for Congress so he could run TV ads supporting his cause plans to air an especially graphic ad showing a dismembered fetus on nine stations.

Andrew Beacham is running in Kentucky's 2nd District but not with the intention of winning. Instead, he simply wants to use his candidacy as a bully pulpit.
Yes, of course he's an acolyte of terrorist Randall Terry and Operation Rescue. He's also an Indiana resident - doesn't even live in Kentucky.

Shame on every television station that runs this ad. It's not a campaign ad, it's blatantly false from beginning to end and it undermines the already shaky integrity of Kentucky elections.

If you're collecting examples of why we need a Constitutional amendment banning all money from elections, here's one for the top of the stack.

Read more here:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Internet Civil Liberties Getting Weaker By the Day

This is not so much about corporate and Wall Street power as it is about the Obama administration gratuitously hippie-punching because it can.
Last week brought the disturbing news that 25-year old coder and internet activist Aaron Swartz was being charged with nine new felony counts for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by downloading too many academic journal articles. Swartz, who helped invent RSS and was a co-founder of Reddit, was also among of the founders the liberal activist groups the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which works to elect liberal members of Congress, and Demand Progress, which has campaigned for net neutrality and other progressive causes. Swartz now is facing a total of 13 felony counts and, if convicted, the possibility of decades in prison plus a $1 million fine. 

The severity of the punishment Aaron faces is wildly out of proportion with the actions he has committed. After all, the journal articles he downloaded were never publicly released, no harm was done, and at least some of the “victims” were urging the feds not to prosecute. It’s hard not to believe that Aaron is being targeted and set as an “example” by corporate interests and others who want to shut down the open access movement.

The abuse of prosecutorial discretion here is completely outrageous. What’s particularly infuriating for progressives is that, for the charges to get to this stage, it’s inconceivable that Obama’s Justice Department and Attorney General Holder have not signed off on this. Like Henry Farrell, I strongly urge that “those who agree, and who have access to some kind of public platform, or otherwise can exert influence should do what they can to push back against this.”

You may also want to donate to Aaron’s defense fund, which is here. The charges are a horrendous abuse of civil liberties and a threat to anyone who cherishes the right to use the internet freely. This must not stand.
As many have said before me, the internet is just the latest frontier of the war  for civil liberties war, as once pamphlets, newspapers, radio and television were before it. The fight is what it has always been. We defend free expression online or we lose it everywhere.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Oh Fannie Mae"

 From Down with Tyranny back in March:

Ariel Zevon is Warren's daughter. And she's done a great job in putting the foreclosure crisis to song. The more I watch it, the more I love this video!

Spring is almost here and that means the Occupy Movement will be back in full force. Tomorrow they'll be confronting the Willard Wall Street campaign at the Waldorf Astoria. Keep in touch with what's going on there at the Mr. 1% Facebook page. But Ariel's song was done for the Doo-Occupy! Bail Out America project, which is all about community organizing for eviction protection, student debt relief and the other economic democracy causes motivating the 99% since the banksters and their politician cronies were caught with their hands in the till. Their statement is clear and as enticing as the song:

Our hope is to provide focus and capacity to the emerging populist uprising. We wish to help amplify its power through inspiring movement building campaigns that can are rooted in communities and deliver victories that make a material difference in people's lives.

Through this we will grow our movement from the power we have to the power we need to transform society and establish a new social contract based not on citizenship or property, but on universal human rights.

Doo-Occupy! Bail Out America is an intensive "Learning by Doing" action training that will deliver tools to take home, including stories and lesson from a couple of the hottest actions you'll ever experience. Thanks to all our allies for joining the fun.

Open Early Voting in Kentucky

Kentucky's voter ID law is fairly liberal, permitting social security cards, credit cards or personal acquaintance with precinct officials as sufficient identification.

But Kentucky practices anti-Democratic voter suppression in other ways, including barring early voting.

Scott Wartman at

Voters in Ohio, Indiana and most other states can cast ballots well ahead of the Nov. 6 election without needing an excuse.

But not in Kentucky, which remains one of 16 states that doesn’t allow people to vote before Election Day without having to provide a reason.

As the election nears, 34 states will allow people to vote early without an excuse. The percentage of early votes cast nationally has continued to rise, climbing from 20 percent in the 2004 election to 30 percent in 2008.

While Kentucky doesn’t allow for no-excuse early voting, it is surrounded by states that do. Indiana’s early voting opened Sept. 17, and Ohio’s begins Oct. 2.


Kentucky allows for people to vote early either via mail-in absentee ballot or absentee ballot at the clerk’s office, but they must cite one of several reasons listed in state statute for why they can’t vote on Election Day and sign an affidavit. Lying could result in a felony, clerks say.

The state statute specifies seven reasons for people to qualify for a mail-in absentee ballot, including being disabled, serving in the armed forces overseas and being out of town due to employment. The law specifies six reasons for being able to cast an absentee vote early by walking into the clerk’s office. People who can walk in and vote can cite surgery and temporary residence outside the state among the reasons. Women can qualify for walk-in absentee voting if they are in the last trimester of pregnancy.


Some Kentucky lawmakers said they see value in preserving the tradition of Election Day. They argue that people who vote early wouldn’t have as much information as those who vote on Election Day.
Early voting would raise the price tag on campaigns since ads would have to start earlier, said State Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger.

“It benefits incumbents who are more apt and able to spend the money,” Koenig said. “Incumbents have more money to spend on radio and TV early.”

No, early voting benefits people who have to work for a living at low-paying jobs without paid leave and can't afford to take a Tuesday off work to vote. But repug Koenig is perfectly fine with those people not being able to vote.
State Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, in 2010 tried to start a pilot program for counties to conduct elections by mail. State officials, however, estimated the pilot program would cost $1 million, and the legislation failed to get a hearing.

Rollins, however, sees merit in early voting in person.

“Unless the clerks would oppose it, I think it would be fairly easy to have one voting machine in the county courthouse, and in the time period of two weeks or so prior to election to allow people to go ahead and vote,” Rollins said.
Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes recently returned from a visit to Kentucky troops overseas with the recommendation that those troops be allowed to vote by email.

Secretary Grimes: there are tens of thousands of Kentucky voters who find it just as difficult to vote on a Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. as overseas troops find it difficult to mail an absentee ballot. You've got obvious ambitions for higher office; why not set yourself apart with a campaign to open early voting in Kentucky?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No, You Can't Tell By Looking

I'm surprised. Given the attitude of many non-Hispanics in my Kentucky county, where virtually all the scut work is done by Hispanics, from tobacco cutting to housecleaning, I'd have guessed it was more like two in three, or even three in four.

Amanda Peterson Beadle at Think Progress:

One In Three Americans Falsely Believe Most Latinos Are Undocumented 

More than 30 percent of non-Hispanics inaccurately think that a majority of Latinos in the U.S. are undocumented, according to a new poll from the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and Latino Decisions about media portrayals of Latinos and immigrants. Only about 18 percent of the Latino population in the U.S. is undocumented, and 37 percent of U.S. Latinos are actually immigrants. In its report, the NHMC said media portrayals of Latinos and immigrants exacerbates “stereotypically negative opinions” about them. “It is producing attitudes among non-Latinos that contribute to hate speech and hate crimes,” said Alex Nogales, president and CEO of NHMC. The organization plans to share its results with the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to push the agencies to study the impacts of hate speech in the media.
As I always say when this subject arises: Unless you are 100 percent Native American, you're here because of immigrants so shut the fuck up about "illegals."

Repugs Don't Need to Win the White House to Take Over the Country

In case you were feeling hopeful about the presidential election.
But there is more in the GOP playbook than electioneering.

For at least a generation, the party has also pursued power by extra-electoral means. The procedure has been to use and abuse power acquired in one institution to acquire more power in other institutions. As is well known, the framers of the Constitution established a separation of powers: each branch of government was designed to monitor and correct any abuses perpetrated by the others. The Republicans have thrown this system into reverse. They use each branch as a stronghold from which to mount attacks on the others and usurp their powers, all in pursuit of increasing and consolidating their own party’s power. Thus, in the name of protecting the Constitution—so often praised at the Republican convention—they have stood the Constitution on its head.

Court powers are used to intervene in the executive power, as the Supreme Court did so outrageously in 2000, when it overrode the decision of voters in Florida and put George W. Bush in the White House. Legislative powers are used to curtail the power of citizens, as GOP legislatures have done throughout the country to suppress Democratic-leaning poor and minority voters by raising onerous obstacles to voting, such as requiring government-issued photo IDs. Legislative powers are also used to reach into the executive, as the GOP-controlled House did when it impeached Bill Clinton in 1998 for minor offenses, mostly of a personal nature. Executive power is used to spy on and punish opposition figures, as Nixon did in the Watergate crisis, or to corrupt due process, as the Bush White House did when it fired nine United States attorneys for failing to fall into line with its voter-suppression schemes.

More than government institutions are involved. The pattern extends to trade unions, the news media and, above all, corporations. Legislative and judicial power is used to attack unions, which tend to support the Democrats, as when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker eviscerated the bargaining rights of public employee unions. Judicial power is used to increase the power of corporations, as when the Supreme Court removed limits on their ability to financially intervene in elections with its Citizens United ruling. (This decision may be to the election of 2012 what Bush v. Gore was to 2000.) Legislative power is used to generate more legislative power, as when Tom DeLay used money raised in Washington to manipulate redistricting in Texas (though, in that instance, he was convicted of money-laundering for his pains). Paralleling these moves is the transformation of the GOP itself into an organization that renegade Republican operative Mike Lofgren has characterized as “less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and…more like…one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe.” In the background is the biggest institutional shift of all: the steady transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich and corporations.

With all of this afoot, the GOP doesn’t need to abandon its dream of permanent domination. The long, slow power grab of the institutional structure reconciles its long-term and short-term ambitions. But if it succeeds along this path, then it—and the rest of us—would have to give up the dream of a fair electoral system that expresses the will of the people. The Republicans would have to suspend the Republic—in the name, of course, of saving it.
It's a never-ending fight with multiple fronts.  Democrats - and democracy - lose when we ignore even one of those multiple fronts, or relax our determination for a single election cycle.

Permanent victory is impossible, but long-term defeat is unthinkable.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Blowin' in the Wind"

Uploaded by BoboGuimaraes on May 8, 2011

No Voter ID? Get a Gun

This has been everywhere, but in case you missed it, trust me: it's genius and well worth your time.

Definitely NSFW and the really NSFW part is in the first 10 seconds, so seriously: NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

Now that you've had your laugh, read this shot of cold water in the face from Zandar, on how the only thing that will stop repugs from stealing this election is every single Democratic voter getting out and voting.

Police Near-Tasing of Combat Vet Spurs Training

Let's hope this inspires similar training across the country.

Jason Riley at the Courier:

The man’s clothes were dusty, and he had difficulty speaking. Questioned by a Louisville Metro Police officer inside Mid-City Mall, he couldn’t provide his own address.

Judging the man to be a homeless panhandler, the police officer asked him to leave, and a confrontation ensued — a Taser was drawn, other officers were called and the man was taken down and handcuffed for several minutes.

But the man cuffed and threatened with jail in the Jan. 29 incident was neither homeless nor panhandling. He was a Purple Heart and multiple Bronze Star recipient and a Kentucky National Guard lieutenant colonel going on a routine errand.

Lt. Col. Donald Blake Settle has a poor memory and difficulty speaking as the result of injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, incurred in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan and a vehicle rollover. And on this day, he had stopped to chat with an acquaintance while shopping for a gift card.

His case has resulted in an internal police investigation, sharp questioning from Fort Knox officials, and a potential lawsuit. But it also has prompted a new mandatory training program for police on how to deal with military veterans coming home with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. 
“Unfortunately this is real familiar,” Eddie Reynolds, outreach director of the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky, said of Settle’s experience. There are more than 250,000 Kentuckians with brain injuries and they are seven times as likely as the average person to have a run-in with the law, he said.
Let's also hope this training addresses broader issues of taser use. Veterans with TBI aren't the only citizens getting tased for unconventional behavior they can't control. And slurring your words in public isn't a crime. Neither is objecting to unreasonable demands from police.

Cops used to know how to talk to people. Long past time to end taze first, ask questions later.

Bush Tax Cuts and Spending Cuts Both Bad - So Cancel Them Both

Seriously, can we stop the bipartisan bullshit about how we can only prevent massive spending cuts that will throw us back into recession if we let billionaires keep their Bush tax cuts?

Because that is precisely the opposite of the facts. The opposite of reality. The opposite of the truth.

There's an easy way to avoid this "fiscal cliff' boogeyman everybody's trying to terrify you with:

End the Bush tax cuts for the rich. That makes the motherfucking parasites start paying the fair share they haven't paid in more than 30 years.

Once the too-lazy-to-even-be-cocksuckers billionaires pay back the trillions they've stolen from the working class, that puts enough money in the Treasury to not only cancel the economy-killing spending cuts, but also to launch trillions in infrastructure investment that creates millions of jobs, growing the economy and eliminating the deficit the old-fashioned way.

Travis Waldron at Think Progress:

The United States is approaching the so-called “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012, when a set of policies enacted by the debt deal reached in August 2011 will go into effect. In addition to massive spending cuts, several tax provisions will expire, including the full Bush tax cuts.

Though both the GOP and Democrats agree that the low-end Bush tax cuts, those that give everyone a tax cut but primarily affect the middle class, need to be extended, Republicans have blocked that in order to leverage an extension of the upper-income tax cuts. The logic, Republicans argue, is that not doing so will raise taxes on “job creators” at a time when the economy can least afford it.

An analysis of the fiscal cliff policies by the Economic Policy Institute, however, found that the cost of the Bush tax cuts — and particularly those for high-income earners — far outweigh the benefits:


The findings are similar to an earlier report from the Congressional Budget Office that found the expiration of the high-income Bush tax cuts, once multipliers are added, would cause far less economic damage than spending cuts to the discretionary budget favored by Republicans.
Cancel the Bush tax cuts for the rich AND the economy-killing spending cuts. Now that's bipartisan.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Your Grammar Nazi

This is the illiteracy that makes me despair for humanity.
It’s narcotic effect is predicated on that ignorance because let’s face it: most people, including most elected officials, have no idea how the tax code works.
I don't think he means to say "It is narcotic effect ..." but that's what he's written there.

"It's" is a contraction and always means "It is."

The possessive - something belonging to it - is always written "Its."

CORRECT:  "Its narcotic effect is predicated ..."

Stop the Deficit Hysterics

The fight this fall is not just over the elections; it's over stopping the deficit hysterics from killing Social Security and Medicare.
One hopes that the President will keep that last commitment and not abandon it in another feckless attempt to build credibility with the Republicans in the upcoming "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Assuming they mean this, of course. Considering how eager our allegedly liberal Dick Durbin is to push Simpson Bowles, that's debatable. Simpson Bowles, you'll recall, not only cut the hell out of Medicare and Medicaid, it put Social Security on the menu even though it wasn't part of their mandate and contributes nothing to these deficit numbers. They just did it out of the goodness of their hearts. Fortunately, they couldn't get a majority of the commission to sign on to their plan, but Durbin seems to think it's the template for the talks coming up right after the election.

If you are going to be attending any rallies over he next few weeks and are wondering what kind of signs you should take, how about "No Grand Bargains" or "Just Say No to Simpson-Bowles." Or something like that. They may not be sexy, but if that message starts showing up in the crowds maybe the politicians will realize that we are on to them. I'm not sure they care, but ...
Personally, I like "Stop the Deficit Hysterics." It's accurate and insulting at the same time. 

And if anybody gets in your face about "the debt," throw this back at them:

Regardless, in case anyone's forgotten, there is no debt crisis. The United States can easily borrow as much as it needs at low interest rates, suggesting there's nothing even close to a debt crisis. This is a fig leaf Ryan and the right is using to rationalize draconian cut to domestic priorities, which they've long wanted to make anyway.

Second, if Ryan and his allies were seriously panicked about reducing the deficit and getting our fiscal house in order, they'd consider modest tax increases on the wealthy. Indeed, we know exactly what's driving the national debt, and much of it has to do with tax cuts the rich didn't need and the country couldn't afford. When Ryan acknowledges this, he'll start to have some credibility on the issue.

And third, for all of Ryan's alleged fear about the debt, his last budget plan ignored deficit reduction altogether, and instead prioritized more tax breaks for those at the very top. Asked yesterday about tax loopholes he'd be willing to close to help pay for his plans, Ryan refused to go into any detail.

Kentucky Encouraging Kids to Garden

I'll be damned. The how-to booklet for the kids on this program actually does not toe the Monsanto line. It doesn't promote organic principles and techniques either, but I'll take a small victory where I can get it.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture usually deals with bigger farmers but has joined with the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy to work with some younger potential growers. First lady Jane Beshear and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer have launched a program to show young people how they can plant their own gardens and grow food, even on a patio.

Comer says "A Kid's Guide to Gardening" also teaches the importance of learning the source of food.
Students from Kerrick Elementary School in Louisville attended the announcement, picking up their copies of the guides and receiving hands-on experience in harvesting and planting.

More information about the initiative, called "Ready, Set, Grow," is available along with the guide here.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Whole Wide World Around"

Uploaded by rockingoldies on Jun 13, 2011

"It's time for action"

As long as that action is not a Grand Bargain to gut Social Security and Medicare in return for the change out of rich people's sofas.

Full transcript here.

Is Being Stupid and Venal a Federal Crime?

We're about to find out.

From the Courier

The FBI is investigating Richie Farmer’s stint as agriculture commissioner, his successor says.
“The attorney general’s office has notified me that the FBI is investigating the previous administration,” Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Friday. “ ... They said that the FBI would be contacting some of our employees” who remain from Farmer’s eight years as commissioner.


He said his office was notified late last week by Attorney General Jack Conway’s staff.

Comer said his staff was not told what aspects of Farmer’s 2004-11 tenure are under investigation.


 Farmer’s tenure as agriculture commissioner was blasted in an April 30 audit by state Auditor Adam Edelen. The audit criticized Farmer’s administration on a wide range of financial and management issues, including possible misuse of state and federal funds.
Don't ever forget that this is the man Kentucky repugs nominated for Lt. Governor just last year, and that Jamie butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth Comer supported him.

The Hard Work and Heavy Responsibility of Being Poor

I'll take Baby Wonk's explanation to its logical conclusion: the richer you are, the LESS responsible and hard-working you are. Only those with lots of money can be truly lazy.

From Digby:
 But America's poor and disenfranchised are hardly lazy if they are getting government benefits. As Ezra Klein points out in this piece:

Still, for my money, the worst of Romney’s comments were these: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

When he said this, Romney didn’t just write off half the country behind closed doors. He also confirmed the worst suspicions about who he is: an entitled rich guy with no understanding of how people who aren’t rich actually live.

The thing about not having much money is you have to take much more responsibility for your life. You can’t pay people to watch your kids or clean your house or fix your meals. You can’t necessarily afford a car or a washing machine or a home in a good school district. That’s what money buys you: goods and services that make your life easier.

That’s what money has bought Romney, too. He’s a guy who sold his dad’s stock to pay for college, who built an elevator to ensure easier access to his multiple cars and who was able to support his wife’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s great! That’s the dream.

The problem is that he doesn’t seem to realize how difficult it is to focus on college when you’re also working full time, how much planning it takes to reliably commute to work without a car, or the agonizing choices faced by families in which both parents work and a child falls ill. The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it.
I've always found it so amusing that the right wingers believe, for instance, that illegal immigrants are all on welfare. Clearly, they have no idea how many hoops one has to go through to get on the rolls and neither have they ever considered the absurdity of the idea that people who live in daily fear of the authorities would walk willingly into a government building and submit themselves to close inspection by security and government bureaucrats. They are convinced that these people are in the US to take advantage of our allegedly generous welfare benefits --- and to steal our jobs. But they are still lazy Mexicans who don't know the meaning of a hard days work.

They truly believe that they work harder than anyone else, that their lives are more complicated, that they are the ones who are doing everything, while the poor have it easy. I used to hear it from the wives of Hollywood executives who literally spent their days getting pampered from head to toe by immigrants who worked 80 hours a week and made less than minimum wage. I could never tell if they really believed it or if they just had to say it out loud in order to live with themselves. I suspected the former. There was not the tiniest bit of self-awareness in their complaints.

This is the dark side of America's Puritan work ethic. In order to justify their wealth the upper classes must pretend that those who are poorer have done it to themselves through their laziness and sloth. Otherwise, they wouldn't "deserve" what they have and their whole value system would collapse.
RMoney and his billionaire buddies wouldn't last five minutes busing tables, pouring concrete, nursing the elderly or teaching forty 12-year-olds all day. But I would love to watch the motherfuckers try.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Your Grammar Nazi

This one started spreading after the Boston Globe blew the lid off the Catholic Church's priests raping children scandal several years ago, and now it's ubiquitous. But still dead wrong.
Or it will be if they just agree to throw more human sacrifices on the alter:
Sacrifices, human and otherwise, are made on altars. There is no such noun as alter. There is, however, a verb to alter that means to change.

Help Your Grammar Nazi alter this common misuse by confining your sacrifices and your worship to the altar.

The Destructive Reich-Wing Lie Ben Chandler Bought Hook, Line and Sinker

Ben Chandler, DINO-KY6, was one of a handful of dem betrayers who voted with the reich-wing crazies in the House of Representatives to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for ... being a ni**er with power, apparently.
No, ol' Cowardly Worm didn't give a flying fuck what the truth was; he just saw an opportunity to suck more repug cock while poking a stick in the administration's eye.
Now there's an official report proving what everyone with an ounce of sense knew all along.
There's not much question that Fast & Furious was a cockup. ATF agents wanted to track guns that were being sold to Mexican drug cartels, but poor planning, idiotic infighting, and a tangle of laws that got in the way of arresting obvious gunrunners produced little but chaos. Thousands of guns ended up in Mexican hands, one of which was eventually used to kill ATF agent Brian Terry. Katherine Eban wrote the best take on the whole sorry affair three months ago in a long piece for Fortune called "The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal."

But this was never enough for Republicans. Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican attack dog who was the point man for congressional hearings into the affair, insisted that Barack Obama was using Fast & Furious to "somehow take away or limit people's Second Amendment rights." This was pretty much the party line in the fever swamps of the right: it wasn't just a local mess, it was a carefully planned operation from Eric Holder on down to set the stage for a massive new effort to take away people's guns. As Ann Coulter explained things, Fast & Furious put guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels "to strengthen liberals’ argument for gun control....Innocent people dying was the objective of Fast and Furious, not collateral damage."

On Wednesday that all came crashing down when Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice Inspector General, finally released his lengthy report on the operation. Horowitz is no Democratic hack. As Time's Massimo Calabresi reminds us, "Horowitz managed to impress the House GOP in briefings over the past week, and the report itself was met with support from all quarters....Issa himself called Horowitz and his report 'courageous.'" But there's more:
What none on the right are admitting is that Horowitz’s report systematically reveals how irresponsible and speculative the accusations from their side have been. The report criticizes Holder’s Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer for failing to inform Holder or his deputy that “gun walking” had taken place in the Bush administration in another case in Arizona called “Wide Receiver”. But the report shows that Breuer knew nothing about gun walking in Fast and Furious, and that therefore the scandal existed three levels below Holder (let alone the White House)....As for the source of the false statements to Congress, Horowitz finds they were the result of inaccurate reassurances given to Breuer’s deputy Jason Weinstein, by the U.S. attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke. 
....Horowitz destroys the conspiracy theories on both sides of the aisle over 471-pages, but it’s the right wing screamers who come out looking worst. Horowitz shows definitively that the Arizona ATF agents and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office there were responsible for the operation, not the White House or the Justice Department in Washington and that the primary source of the inaccurate testimony given to Congress was the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke.
For over a year, it's been an article of faith on the right that Fast & Furious was a carefully constructed scheme directed by the White House to trash the Second Amendment and build support for more gun control laws. It wasn't. Neither the White House nor Eric Holder had any idea what was going on. It was just a local operation that was badly botched. This makes Fast & Furious offically yet another lunatic conservative conspiracy theory that has bitten the dust in the cold light of reality.
So, is Cowardly Worm too fucking stupid to live, or so craven he'll vote for any repug shit they throw against the wall?

No, it doesn't matter. Either way, he's no Democrat.

Exceptionalism: Inexcusable Poverty

Record stock highs, the Wall Street casino going strong, billionaires soaking up tax-free profits; who cares about 50 million poor people?

From HalfinTen:

Today (Sept. 20), in response to new Census Bureau data for 2011 that reveal an unchanged rate of poverty and declining middle class incomes, Half in Ten, the campaign to cut poverty in half in 10 years, urged Congress and the Obama administration to take immediate action. Reacting to the data showing that the rate of Americans in poverty held steady at 15 percent, median incomes declined by 1.5 percent, and 1.4 million people gained health care coverage, Half in Ten’s leadership issued the following statements.

Melissa Boteach, Director of the Half in Ten Campaign:
When poverty is holding steady, and incomes are falling even as the economy is recovering, it is a sign that economic gains are concentrating at the top, leaving working families behind. This data should be a wake-up call to policymakers that rather than budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, we need a focus on good jobs that bring more families into the middle class.
Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, a Half in Ten partner:
The findings are clear: More work and unemployment benefits have helped keep poverty from rising, which is good news. But 46 million people in poverty and more than one in five children poor remains unacceptably high. We need to keep unemployment benefits in place while we build on these hopeful signs of progress.
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a Half in Ten partner:
Policy matters. The Affordable Care Act helped more families gain health coverage. Tax credits for working families and nutrition assistance kept millions out of poverty when counted as income. And as policymakers make key budget decisions in the coming weeks, it is critical they understand that these policies make a big difference in creating economic security and opportunity.
Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
Economic security is the civil rights issue of our time. By making policy choices that bring millions of our neighbors off the economic margins and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share, we can grow our economy and cut poverty as we reduce our long-term deficits. It’s about choices.
Check out the interactive maps:

The first column is the congressional district, the second column the district's poverty rate, third column the number of poor people in the district, the fourth and fifth columns the percentage and number of children in poverty. Here are the numbers for Kentucky.

Kentucky 1     20 %   (133,184)        30%   (45,904)
Kentucky 2     17 %   (126,955) 25%   (47,582)
Kentucky 3     17 %   (122,132)
27%   (44,058)
Kentucky 4     15 %   (110,314)
20%   (36,568)
Kentucky 5     28 %   (179,659)
38%   (54,489)
Kentucky 6    19 %   (139,033)
24%   (40,805)