Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Roll the Union On"

Uploaded by PositivFritid on Dec 19, 2009

Drug Tests and Anal Probes for Rich People to Get Tax Cuts

Now that repug motherfuckers like Florida Governor Rick Scott and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell have proven:

a) receiving even a few pennies of government largesse demands you pee into a cup to prove you are worthy,

b) people receiving those pennies in food stamps, welfare and unemployment compensation are, in fact, less like than the general population to be using illicit drugs or committing crimes, and

c) a good way to punish for no reason people you don't like or are afraid of is to require them to have their genitals forcibly penetrated,

we can see that the logical conclusion is to require drug tests and anal probes for rich people before they can receive tax cuts.

Wonkette gets it right:



Extremely wealthy people discard their own spouses and children as easily as they discard thousands of factory workers. They feel absolutely no guilt as they scheme and connive, and they will rip off other rich people in massive Ponzi schemes with as little feeling as they’ll rape their housekeepers. The rich strap their supposedly beloved family pets to the top of their expensive cars for days at a time, and find the animal’s resulting terror and diarrhea funny. The rich are different, that’s for sure — they lack morals. This is the not-so-surprising result of a study by scientific academic people at a university somewhere.

ABC News reports:

Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley analyzed a person’s rank in society (measured by wealth, occupational prestige and education) and found that those who were richer were more likely to cheat, lie and break the law than those who were poorer.

“We found that it is much more prevalent for people in the higher ranks of society to see greed and self-interest … as good pursuits,” said Paul Piff, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Berkeley. “This resonates with a lot of current events these days.”

Oh, Berkeley. Whatever, hippies. Rich people get everything because American Jesus-God only loves the 1%. The rest of you can rot in Hell (America 2012).

Also, the drug tests and anal probes on rich people who want tax cuts should take place in public, live on broadcast teevee

UPDATE: I almost forgot tax-avoiding corporations. Yes, drug test and anal probe the CEO, COO, CFO, General Counsel and board members of every corporation that wants to pay less than the statutory 35 percent rate.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"A dream so strong, so brave, so true"

From Jesus' General, a poem that is always timely:

My Inner Frenchman was surprised to see a guvmint blog linking to a Langston Hughes poem. And it being Unheartlandishly-Hued History Month, he demanded that I publish it here. God damned commie.

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Know Your Enemy"

Uploaded by masterofacdcsuckaS on Dec 5, 2007:

Lyrics:

Huh!
Yeah, we're comin' back then with another bombtrack
Think ya know what it's all about
Huh!
Hey yo, so check this out
Yeah!
Know your enemy!
Come on!

Born with insight and a raised fist
A witness to the slit wrist, that's with
As we move into '92
Still in a room without a view
Ya got to know
Ya got to know
That when I say go, go, go
Amp up and amplify
Defy
I'm a brother with a furious mind
Action must be taken
We don't need the key
We'll break in

Something must be done
About vengeance, a badge and a gun
'Cause I'll rip the mike, rip the stage, rip the system
I was born to rage against 'em

Fist in ya face, in the place
And I'll drop the style clearly
Know your enemy...Know your enemy!
Yeah!

Hey yo, and dick with this...uggh!
Word is born
Fight the war, fuck the norm
Now I got no patience
So sick of complacence
With the D the E the F the I the A the N the C the E
Mind of a revolutionary
So clear the lane
The finger to the land of the chains
What? The land of the free?
Whoever told you that is your enemy?

Now something must be done
About vengeance, a badge and a gun
'Cause I'll rip the mike, rip the stage, rip the system
I was born to rage against 'em

Now action must be taken
We don't need the key
We'll break in

I've got no patience now
So sick of complacence now
I've got no patience now
So sick of complacence now
Sick of sick of sick of sick of you
Time has come to pay...
Know your enemy!

Come on!
Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American dreams (8 times)
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams


"A Remarkably Safe and Secure Place"

Some of us have known for a long time that the whole Warren Terra/Homeland Insecurity circus was a nothing but cover for massive corruption, militarization of law enforcement, metastasizing the security state and eliminating civil liberties.

But it's nice to have confirmation from the Establishment.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:

There is a useful buzz this week surrounding an article in, of all places, Foreign Affairs magazine, by Michah Zenko and Michael Cohen, with the provocative title: “Clear and Present Safety.” It argues that despite the regular alarms issued by national security experts and politicians of both parties (most notably the Republican presidential candidates who regularly accuse the Obama administration of potentially catastrophic weakness in the face of powerful and sinister enemies), the U.S. and indeed the whole world are much safer than at any recent juncture. Here’s Zenko and Cohen’s succinct summary of current conditions:

The world that the United States inhabits today is a remarkably safe and secure place. It is a world with fewer violent conflicts and greater political freedom than at virtually any other point in human history. All over the world, people enjoy longer life expectancy and greater economic opportunity than ever before. The United States faces no plausible existential threats, no great-power rival, and no near-term competition for the role of global hegemon. The U.S. military is the world’s most powerful, and even in the middle of a sustained downturn, the U.S. economy remains among one of the world’s most vibrant and adaptive. Although the United States faces a host of international challenges, they pose little risk to the overwhelming majority of American citizens and can be managed with existing diplomatic, economic, and, to a much lesser extent, military tools.

Why, then, don’t U.S. national security policies, and the political debate surrounding them, reflect this reality? Zenko and Cohen point to a host of factors, from the mental habits of national security stakeholders to a massive and continuing (if psychologically understandable) overreaction to 9/11 (on which, they note, the U.S. has expended an estimated $3 trillion). Beyond dollars, cents and lives, U.S. policy, they believe, is still dominated by Dick Cheney’s so-called “1% doctrine” whereby remote threats to national security absorb vast resources while more immediate problems, foreign and domestic, are ignored:

[T]he most lamentable cost of unceasing threat exaggeration and a focus on military force is that the main global challenges facing the United States today are poorly resourced and given far less attention than “sexier” problems, such as war and terrorism. These include climate change, pandemic diseases, global economic instability, and transnational criminal networks — all of which could serve as catalysts to severe and direct challenges to U.S. security interests. But these concerns are less visceral than alleged threats from terrorism and rogue nuclear states. They require long-term planning and occasionally painful solutions, and they are not constantly hyped by well-financed interest groups. As a result, they are given short shrift in national security discourse and policymaking.

This is a prescription for a paradigm change that is not likely to get immediate traction in a political world where Democrats are forever trying to prove they are tough enough to be entrusted with the nuclear codes, and Republicans are openly frothing for war with Iran and a confrontational stance towards many other countries (and entire religions, for that matter).

But the growing debate over this article is not a bad place to begin an effort to bring American foreign and national security policy out of its strangely anachronistic paranoid crouch and into the world we actually inhabit. It’s far from being a world without many dangers and threats, but it is one where we can actually undermine our security by underestimating it.

The people who created and maintain the 21st-century American Security State know this perfectly well, and know it's irrelevant. Because the American Security State has nothing to do with the actual state of American security.

So until the Establishment recognizes that reality and addresses the real source of our un-security, we'll keep scaring ourselves so much we hurt ourselves.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Voice of the Voiceless"

Uploaded by acidshark13 on Sep 27, 2008

Number 105

Kentucky's 105th sacrifice to the unquenchable maw of the Iraq-AfPak Clusterfuck is Air Force Lt. Colonel John D. Loftis of Paducah.

He was a Pashto speaker working on the latest futile effort to win Afghan hearts and minds. His reward was getting shot in the head by an Afghan working in the same building.

Now can we bug the fuck out of that stone age hellhole?

From the Courier:

An airman from Paducah, Ky., was one of two U.S. military advisers killed in an attack at the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Sunday.

Lt. Col. John D. Loftis, 44, died Saturday from wounds received during the attack, confirmed Air Force Special Operations Command spokeswoman Capt. Kristen Duncan.

The advisers were found dead after being shot in the head in their office, The Associated Press reported. A manhunt was under way for the main suspect in the shooting — an Afghan man who worked as a driver for an office on the same floor as the advisers, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.

Loftis was a member of the 866th Air Expeditionary Squadron and was working in the ministry as a chief adviser to a program that developed a team of U.S. service personnel skilled in Afghan and Pakistani culture and language.

He spoke the Pashto language proficiently and had limited skills in Dari and Arabic, according to the Defense Department.

SNIP

Fiel credited Loftis with helping to improve Afghan society. “We will never forget, and the Afghan people should never forget, ... the valuable contributions he made to their country and community,” he said.

Loftis leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Quote of the Day

The conclusion of Thursday's post by The Rude Pundit:

Ignorant fucking zealots are everywhere. Killing people because you think someone pissed off your god is wrong. And it doesn't matter if it's done with bricks and bullets or with long-term, untreated illnesses that could have been cured with access to health care.

Read the whole thing.

The Factory With Nine Lives

Or perhaps it should be The Workers Who Wouldn't Give Up. Regardless, it's yet another small but significant victory for labor when labor refuses to give in. And when the 99 Percent join them in solidarity.

Jane Slaughter at Labor Notes:

Members of the United Electrical Workers won another reprieve for a Chicago window factory, re-occupying the plant they famously held in 2008.

UE Local 1110 members took over the Serious Materials plant yesterday after being told by local management that the factory would close immediately.

When they were confronted with the same news in 2008, workers voted unanimously to occupy their workplace, guarding the machines at the former Republic Windows and Doors for six days until the major creditor, Bank of America, released $1.75 million in wages and benefits owed the workers.

Republic sold the plant to Serious and workers celebrated as the first sit-down strike in years won a favorable settlement in the teeth of the great recession.

This week’s plant closing came with no warning. The union got a call from the boss that he wanted a meeting, but he wouldn’t say why. Officers and UE staff were summoned to the offices of the notorious union-busting law firm Seyfarth and Shaw at 9 a.m. yesterday.

There executives said they would close the plant, effective immediately. Workers would be put on leave while management dismantled the window-making machinery and shipped it to the company’s other plants in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

SNIP

Union officers—Armando Robles, Ricky Maclin, and Vicente Rangel—and staffers spent three hours arguing with management that the closure was unacceptable. Serious had a legal and moral obligation to do more to try to save the jobs, they said.

“We wanted to find a buyer,” said UE rep Leah Fried, “but they were not interested. They said it was not an option.”

Meanwhile, the Serious workers were building windows inside the plant.

February is not a big time for demand for windows, and their numbers were down to 38 after a recent layoff. Only 75 of the original 240 workers had ever been called back after Serious bought the plant from Republic.

President Robles and Fried left the meeting with management Thursday and began calling laid-off workers, asking them to come to the plant. At 2 p.m., the end of the shift, 50 workers met to discuss their options.

Robles presented them soberly: Do nothing, or fight—stay and occupy the plant again. Without much hullabaloo, matter-of-factly, the members voted unanimously to occupy.

They had no food, no sleeping bags. Workers and leaders immediately started to phone fellow workers, allies, and the media. They called the local alderman and asked others to alert the mayor’s office. Occupy Chicago came with tacos. Stand Up Chicago arrived.

Workers from other UE locals, including recently organized railroad van drivers, were there. Republic workers who’d never been called back to Serious but who still came to union meetings were there. The crowd inside grew to 65 and outside to 100.

UE regional president Carl Rosen called Serious’s CEO Kevin Surace at headquarters in California and asked, “Do you really want to go this route? If it comes to it, we’ll be dragged out and arrested.”

Fried wondered if Serious understood who they were dealing with. “These are people who won’t take this lightly,” she said. “They take this personally. They need jobs. And the political climate has changed. Now there’s a whole Occupy movement that was inspired by us. We’re sort of ground zero of Occupy.”

Meanwhile, local management called the police. A half dozen cops informed the workers that they had five minutes to decide whether to leave peacefully or get arrested.

They didn’t make good on the threat, but they refused to let the pizzas provided by Stand Up Chicago inside until a local pastor intervened, as local TV news cameras whirred. “Let the workers eat!” chanted the crowd.

The cops backed off but wouldn’t let anyone leave and then go back inside.

By 5 p.m. a crowd had gathered outside. Occupy Chicago started to raise tents, showing how a culture to prepare and stick it out has developed since the last occupation, Fried said. The cold rain started to freeze.

Inside, workers played dominoes and tried to watch the coverage on an old, snowy TV. They had plenty of donated food—enough to share with their supporters outside.

Negotiations shifted when corporate decision makers got on the phone. Management in California took over, apparently deciding they didn’t want a big showdown.

At 1 a.m., a tentative agreement was reached that met all of the workers’ concerns. The plant will remain open, making windows, for 90 days. That’s in writing.

Serious is committed to finding new ownership. Local union leaders are also interested in the possibility of a worker-run enterprise and are talking with consultants who specialize in converting factories to co-ops.

Serious said it had never been able to get a foothold in Chicago and Midwest markets. Workers for years had offered help and suggestions, to no avail.

“We started the morning with the plant closing and ended the day with work and a chance to save our jobs,” said Robles. “We are committed to finding a new buyer for the plant or if we can, buy the place ourselves and run it. Either way, we are hopeful.”

Via Crooks and Liars.

The Serious workers are not talking pie in the sky. Cooperatives are everywhere in this country, and they work. They work better than corporations. The January issue of the Hightower Lowdown explains.

"All-of-the-above strategy" Guaranteed to Fail

Sigh. We know what you think you're doing, Mr. President. But while you're trying - and failing - to outflank repugs who have no right flank, just insanity to infinity, civilization speeds closer to a climate catastrophe dystopia.



Full transcript here.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Ghost of Tom Joad"

Uploaded by MsBrucejuice on Jul 14, 2009:

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - The Ghost Of Tom Joad at Staples Center in Los Angeles on October 23/1999


Your Freakazoid Government at Work

So, in order to avoid the dreaded "does not work and play well with others" mark on their next evaluation - and to get a dry biscuit and greasy sausage in lieu of the raises they're been denied for the past 10 years - state employees will troop to Frankfort to pay obeisance to an invisible sky wizard.

This email message went out to every Kentucky state employee:

A MESSAGE FROM GOVERNOR STEVEN L. BESHEAR

Dear Fellow State Employee:

Jane and I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to the 47th annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. For almost fifty years, Kentuckians have come together in prayerful humility and reflection to ask God’s wisdom in guiding the future of our Commonwealth, and 2012 is no different.

This year’s Governor’s Prayer Breakfast will be held Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at the Frankfort Convention Center. The doors will open at 7:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 8 a.m.

The theme for the breakfast this year is “A Humble Resilience.” This theme was chosen in honor of our fellow Kentuckians who have endured natural disasters, a global economic recession, a crippling prescription drug epidemic, and so many other troubles. They faced these with a prayerful and humble resilience that should inspire those of us entrusted with leading our Commonwealth to come together and work beyond party lines and electoral-season politics to, with God’s guidance, build a stronger future for all Kentuckians.

I hope your schedule will allow you time to attend this year’s prayer breakfast. Please go to http://governor.ky.gov/Pages/prayerbreakfast.aspx to make your reservation.

Jane and I look forward to seeing you there.

Sincerely,

Governor Steve Beshear

Political appointees, of course, must attend or lose their jobs, but that's the price of a political job.

Merit (civil service) staff can't win: if you want to attend, your boss will make it a special privilege that you have to earn with some kind of humiliating service; if you'd rather take a beating than attend, you're accused of not being a team player and making your boss look bad.

Either way, the continued existence of this abomination delivers yet another blow to plurality, reason, rationality and reality in the Commonwealth.

Big Coal Throws Scapegoat to the Enforcement Sheep

No, nothing's going to change in the mines - or the oil rigs, or the factories, or the crop fields - until owners go to prison as frequently as workers die on the job.

KeninNY:

"They're moving up in the food chain. This will cause some sleepless nights for people high up in the corporate ladder."

-- Kentucky miners' lawyer Tony Oppegard, quoted by the NYT's Sabrina Tavernise in "Mine Supreintendent Charged in 2010 Disaster"

First off, let me say that I'm not so sure about those "sleepless nights" for the mining bigwigs. But I'm guessing that this development will at least get their attention, and get them thinking about deeper questions than "Who did we pay off, or not pay off enough?"

So no, I don't think we've advanced into a New Era of Accountability. But the charging of a third mine supervisor (the NYT had to correct its report that he was "indicted" to indicate that he was merely "charged") in the wake of the 2010 disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia does raise the possibly alarming -- to the economic elites -- specter of facing paying a price for making your business economic pillage, plunder, and rape. And in this case not just economic.

Howie and I have written a fair amount about the West Virginia disaster
(see, most recently, Howie's December 11 post "India Commits A Big No-No -- Holds Elites Responsible For Something; West Virginia, On The Other Hand...") and the shocking irresponsibility of the mine owner, Massey Energy, and its head cheese, Don Blankenship. So let me make clear that by "paying a price," I don't mean the kinds of fines that predatory corporate execs of Donny's ilk have come to accept as a cost of doing business.

Actually, in the U.S. mining industry, fines don't even appear to be thought of as a cost of doing business, since the companies seem to regard payment of fines as optional. Massey Energy certainly doesn't seem to have taken them seriously. What I guess Don Blankenship and his kind consider a cost of doing business would be little mishaps like the one at Upper Big Branch. You know, a few miners maimed or killed here, a dozen there, a couple of dozen way over there -- hey, it's not as if there's any shortage of would-be miners.

I would say that something like justice has been done when erstwhile Don Blankenship and his top lieutenants begin conducting business meetings from their lockups on Death Row. (For the record, Massey Energy was sold last year to Alpha Natural Resources. I'm going to trust the prosecutors to get liabilities sorted out in time for the start of the trials and executions.)

Oh yes, here's the gist of the story.

Mine Superintendent Charged in 2010 Disaster

By SABRINA TAVERNISE

Federal prosecutors filed charges Wednesday against Gary May, a superintendent of the West Virginia coal mine where an explosion left 29 dead in 2010, continuing an emotional case that has been closely watched by the mining industry and the families of the dead miners.

Mr. May is the third mine supervisor to be charged in the disaster, the worst mining accident in the United States in 40 years. Last year charges were brought against two others -- the mine's security chief and a foreman who had not been at the mine on the day of the explosion.

But Mr. May, one of the mine's two superintendents, is the most senior, and industry observers say the charges against him are an indication that prosecutors are getting closer to the executives who ran the company, Massey Energy, which has since been bought by Alpha Natural Resources.

"They're moving up in the food chain," said Tony Oppegard, a Kentucky lawyer who defends miners. "This will cause some sleepless nights for people high up in the corporate ladder."

The way the charges were filed -- directly to the court by prosecutors from the United States attorney's office, instead of by a grand jury indictment -- indicates that Mr. May is cooperating with prosecutors, a strategy that observers say could eventually lead prosecutors to top executives, including Don L. Blankenship, the former head of Massey, who state investigations concluded had enforced a culture of cutting corners and ignoring risks for the sake of profit.

The charges, filed in federal court in West Virginia, include conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding a federal agency, a felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The charging document paints a picture of deception with Mr. May at its center, directing workers to falsify record books and speaking to them in code as a way of warning that inspectors were coming.

According to a person close to the investigation, those phrases included "bringing in a load of blocks," and "it's raining outside" or "there's a hailstorm outside." Another warning phrase was "I had a hamburger (or cheeseburger) for dinner last night," the person said.

The conspiracy charges against Mr. May were an unusual strategy, lawyers said. Few violations qualify as federal felonies under existing law, and law enforcement has been hampered by weak misdemeanor penalties. A conspiracy charge allows prosecutors to be more flexible in their strategy, and if it is successful, could give them a tool to reach senior mine officials who have traditionally been insulated from criminal charges because they are rarely involved in actual coal mining.

Mr. May began working at the Upper Big Branch mine, as it was known, in February 2008 as a foreman, according to the charging document. He was promoted to superintendent in 2009 and held that position through April 5, 2010, when the explosion happened.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters, Alpha said that Mr. May became an employee of an Alpha subsidiary after that company acquired Massey Energy last year. It said he had been placed on administrative leave.

At the heart of the charges is an accusation that Mr. May knowingly misled federal inspectors from the Mine Safety and Health Administration when they made regular checks to ensure that the mine was safe, signaling to workers on site, sometimes using code phrases, that inspectors were about to arrive. That allowed them to conceal violations for which they would have otherwise been penalized.

Charges also include making changes in the ventilation system in the mine just before federal inspectors arrived to make it appear that the parts of the mine being examined by inspectors had better air than they actually did. . . .

Mine supervisors are just a couple of life-form rungs above sub-human miners - light-years below the corporate owners and Wall Street enablers who are the real criminals.

Wake me when Don Blankenship goes to a SuperMax.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Ringing of Revolution"

Uploaded by AnarchistOpposition on Jul 21, 2009:

Phil wrote this song in 1st person, telling the story of the last of the bourgeois during a revolution, very creative and inspiring song.

Phil Ochs - "The Ringing of Revolution"

In a building of gold, with riches untold,
lived the families on which the country was founded.
And the merchants of style, with their red velvet smiles,
were there, for they also were hounded.
And the soft middle class crowded in to the last,
for the building was fully surrounded.
And the noise outside was the ringing of revolution.

Sadly they stared and sank in their chairs
and searched for a comforting notion.
And the rich silver walls looked ready to fall
As they shook in doubtful devotion.
The ice cubes would clink as they freshened their drinks,
wet their minds in bitter emotion.
And they talked about the ringing of revolution.

We were hardly aware of the hardships they beared,
for our time was taken with treasure.
Oh, life was a game, and work was a shame,
And pain was prevented by pleasure.
The world, cold and grey, was so far away
In the distance only money could measure.
But their thoughts were broken by the ringing of revolution.

The clouds filled the room in darkening doom
as the crooked smoke rings were rising.
How long will it take, how can we escape
Someone asks, but no one's advising.
And the quivering floor responds to the roar,
In a shake no longer surprising.
As closer and closer comes the ringing of revolution.

Softly they moan, please leave us alone
As back and forth they are pacing.
And they cover their ears and try not to hear
With pillows of silk they're embracing.
And the crackling crowd is laughing out loud,
peeking in at the target they're chasing.
Now trembling inside the ringing of revolution.
With compromise sway we give in half way

When we saw that rebellion was growing.
Now everything's lost as they kneel by the cross
Where the blood of christ is still flowing.
To late for their sorrow they've reached their tomorrow
and reaped the seed they were sowing.
Now harvested by the ringing of revolution.

In tattered tuxedos they faced the new heroes
and crawled about in confusion.
And they sheepishly grinned for their memoroes were dim
of the decades of dark execution.
Hollow hands were raised; they stood there amazed
in the shattering of their illusions.
As the windows were smashed by the ringing of revolution.

Down on our knees we're begging you please,
We're sorry for the way you were driven.
There's no need to taunt just take what you want,
and we'll make amends, if we're living.
But away from the grounds the flames told the town
that only the dead are forgiven.
As they crumbled inside the ringing of revolution.


You'll Like Kentucky Better When You Get to Know Us

Good news! Kentucky finally ranks in the top ten of states in something positive! It's an opinion poll, not something statistical like health, education or economic success, but we'll take it.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:

Public Policy Polling, as is its habit, has a cool, unconventional poll up on its site right now, measuring the favorable/unfavorable ratios of the 50 American states.

Overall, it shows (in order) Hawaii, Colorado, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Virginia on top, and (in reverse order) California, Illinois, New Jersey, Mississippi and Utah at the bottom. The last five states are the only ones with net negative ratios (though Louisiana is close with a tie).

I have to say, some of these findings are surprising. Certainly Hawaii and Colorado are popular tourism destinations, but so, too, are California (dead last) and Utah, and sixth-from-the-bottom Louisiana. I have no clue why South Dakota ranks so high, unless Mount Rushmore is way cooler than I’ve imagined and Americans really like extreme weather.

You have to wonder, of course, what respondents think of when they are asked their opinion of a particular state. Is it a specific city they might have visited? A historic event that happened there? A cultural stereotype? A political association? Is South Carolina (ranked 31st) “about” Charleston, Spartanburg, or Ft. Sumter? When people think of “California,” is it “about” Bakersfield or Berkeley (two places about as different as Seattle and Sylacauga)? (For that matter, Monterey and Salinas, separated by just 17 miles across the Lettuce Curtain, are vastly different in demography, culture, politics, economics, and often even weather). Is California Ronald Reagan or Jerry Brown? Hollywood or Redwoods? Summer of Love or Winter of Perpetual Political Discontent?

You can wander around PPP’s crosstabs from this survey for many hours, but the factor that does jump out is political ideology. California’s dismal ranking is basically driven by its heavily negative ratings from people self-identifying as “very conservative” (10/74) and “somewhat conservative” (12/65). Texas, ranking 38th, draws ratings nearly that dismal from self-identified liberals (22/56 among “very liberal” folk, and 17/59 among “somewhat liberal” respondents), but that’s offset by the ecstatic opinion of the Lone Star State among conservatives (62/9 for the “somewhat conservative;” 68/7 for the “very conservative”). Basically, conservatives love TX and hate CA more intensely than liberals feel about either.


Kentucky ranks ninth. Only one of our seven state neighbors has a higher favorability rating: Tennessee. (Really, people? Have you been to Tennessee?)

42 percent have a favorable opinion of Kentucky, but only 17 percent have an unfavorable opinion. 41 percent are unsure.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 55 percent of very conservative respondents and 51 percent of somewhat conservative respondents had favorable opinions of Kentucky. But 42 percent of liberals were unsure about Kentucky - more than the 28 percent who hold unfavorable opinions and the 30 percent who hold favorable opinions.

Women and men have similar opinions of Kentucky: 42 percent of women and 43 percent of men favorable, 14 percent of women and 18 percent of men unfavorable, 44 percent of women and 39 percent of men unfavorable.

Party-affiliated opinions follow political-affiliated opinions: 38 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of republicans hold favorable opinions of Kentucky; 21 percent and nine percent unfavorable, and 40 percent and 38 percent are not sure. Independents are 34, 20 and 40 percent.

The racial group with the highest opinion of Kentucky is not whites but Hispanics, with 54 percent favorable. That's just a point short of very conservative favorability. That could be because Kentucky has a large and growing Hispanic immigrant population that is tolerated even by conservatards because legal or otherwise the state's agriculture - and its economy - depends on them. Hispanic unfavorable opinion of Kentucky is half that of whites: 8 percent to 16 percent.

African-Americans are 24 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable (largest among racial groups) and 49 percent unsure. That may reflect both Kentucky's small black population (around seven percent) and that although a slave state, Kentucky never seceded from the Union during the Civil War.

Another surprise: the age group with the highest favorability toward Kentucky is young people, 18 to 29, with 50 percent. That is strange, given that Kentucky skews older and is selling itself as a retirement destination. Maybe not so strange, given that younger people also have the highest unfavorability toward Kentucky: 20 percent among the 18-29 age group and 21 percent among the 30-49 age group.

Here's the bottom line: "Not Sure" about Kentucky beats "Unfavorable" across the board. "Not Sure" beats "Favorable" in many groups.

That means Kentucky has work to do. Not just getting the word out about how fabulous we are in natural beauty and natural friendliness, but also working to improve ourselves in ways that appeal to liberals. Demographics is destiny, baby, and conservatives are disappearing by the day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Love Me, I'm A Liberal"

Yes, children, once upon a time - not so long ago - people were proud to call themselves liberals, although their actual actions did not always reflect actual liberal values.

We have the same problem today, although because of the movement of the Overton window a few light-years to the right only true liberals call ourselves that. The liars call themselves Democrats and we call them conservadems, Blue Dogs and DINOs.

In office, they vote with repugs, and out of office they vote for repugs. Either way, they are not Democrats, much less liberals, and must be exposed and rejected.

Uploaded by passingremark on Feb 20, 2011:

İ cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown out
of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
as long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I read New republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal


Watered-Down Mandatory Rape Bill Still Monster Victory for Repug Freakazoids

Because the debate now is not how to make abortions easy, frequent and free;

not about how to keep decisions about abortion between a woman and her doctor;

not about how to promote contraception to prevent abortion;

not about how to minimize the ridiculous and unnecessary obstacles to abortion;

not about preventing freakazoids from murdering doctors

not about saving the last handful of abortion clinics in the country;

not about how much to shame and humiliate women seeking an abortion;

not even about whether to force doctors to rape their own patients who seek an abortion.

Today, because of Democratic acquiescence to repug framing, the only abortion question is in what manner must doctors rape their patients.

Digby:

So, it looks as if Virginia's Governor has decided that he didn't want to sign a state rape bill after all. In his statement he cited the argument that no person should have their bodies invaded against their will:

Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.

Huzzah. No mandatory probe. But he's still spouting nonsense on the subject. He also said:

It is clear that in the majority of cases, a routine external, transabdominal ultrasound is sufficient to meet the bills stated purpose, that is, to determine gestational age. I have come to understand that the medical practice and standard of care currently guide physicians to use other procedures to find the gestational age of the child, when abdominal ultrasounds cannot do so. Determining gestational age is essential for legal reasons, to know the trimester of the pregnancy in order to comply with the law, and for medical reasons as well.

Doing ultrasounds to determine the gestational age for medical reasons is none of the state's business and the state has no business compelling them for legal reasons. Moreover, doing them in the first trimester in most cases would not necessarily be helpful in that endeavor --- in fact, that was the excuse these forced childbirth zealots gave for requiring the transvaginal ultrasounds in the first place: they couldn't properly reveal the fetus.

There is only one right way to do this. Leave it up to the doctor and the patient to decide what tests are medically necessary before having an abortion, period.

Read the whole thing.

See also KeninNY at Down with Tyranny.

Kentucky's Gamble Fails; It Has to Budget the Hard Way

Fun as it is to watch Sen. Damon Thayer throw a hissy fit over his own party leader killing his gambling bill, let's not let the hair-pulling and eye-scratching going on at the Capitol distract us from the desperate need to start making Kentucky's obscenely wealthy individuals and corporations pay their share in taxes.

Janet Patton at the Herald:

A bid to allow casino gambling in Kentucky fell short of passage Thursday when the state Senate voted 21-16 against it. One senator was absent.

Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed constitutional amendment, introduced by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, would have let voters decide in November whether to allow up to seven casinos.

"I want to congratulate Senate President Williams," Thayer said after the vote. "He has orchestrated the defeat of this amendment and he deserves credit for doing that."

SNIP

The governor, who defeated Williams to win re-election with a campaign promise to "let the people decide" on gambling, blamed the Senate president.

"Obviously, I am disappointed that several of the senators who had publicly said they would support letting the people decide did not follow through on their commitment to our citizens," Beshear said in a statement. "I am also disappointed that Senator Williams chose to sabotage the chance for our citizens to decide by scheduling the vote for today, when he knew that a senator who planned to vote 'yes' would not be in town."

In 1987 Wallace Wilkinson got elected governor on the promise to establish a lottery that would solve Kentucky's budget problems once and for all. Lottery dollars would shower billions on education and give the Commonwealth massive surpluses forever.

Two decades of the lottery have left Kentucky poorer and more in debt than ever. Casino gambling would just make that result 10 times worse.

Williams and the Senate repugs did the right thing for the wrong reasons. If only they had a budget plan other than massive cuts and austerity for everyone but themselves.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "What Are You Fighting For?"

Uploaded by s3nn5 on Jan 14, 2008

Making Good Little Corporate Drones

This is exactly the kind of thing that Kentucky's brain-dead "legislators" will embrace as a cheap way to suck up to the coal industry and stick it to those commie public school teachers at the same time.

And what a coincidence that this anti-democratic propaganda is available just when budget cuts are making public schools desperate for material to make up for the lack of actual, you know, teachers.

Brad Johnson at Think Progress:

Internal documents acquired by ThinkProgress Green reveal that the Heartland Institute, a right-wing think tank funded by the Koch brothers, Microsoft, and other top corporations, is planning to develop a “global warming curriculum” for elementary schoolchildren that presents climate science as “a major scientific controversy.” This effort, at a cost of $100,000 a year, will be developed by Dr. David E. Wojick, a coal-industry consultant.

“Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective,” Heartland’s confidential 2012 fundraising document bemoans. The group believes that Wojick’s project has “potential for great success,” because he has “contacts at virtually all the national organizations involved in producing, certifying, and promoting scientific curricula.” The document explains that Wojick will produce “modules” that promote the conspiratorial claim that climate change is “controversial”:

Dr. Wojick proposes to begin work on “modules” for grades 10-12 on climate change (“whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy“), climate models (“models are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is controversial”), and air pollution (“whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global food supply and natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions”).

Wojick would produce modules for Grades 7-9 on environmental impact (“environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather“), for Grade 6 on water resources and weather systems, and so on.

Wojick will receive $5,000 per module, with twenty modules produced a year. Wojick, who manages the Climate Change Debate listserv, is not a climate scientist. His doctorate is in epistomology.

The Heartland Institute also runs the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, a conspiracy-theorist parody of the Nobel-prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Heartland’s NIPCC project “pays a team of scientists approximately $300,000 a year to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered.” Their climate-denial work is funded anonymously.

James M. Taylor, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, told ThinkProgress Green in an e-mail why the group is developing its denier curriculum:

We are concerned that schools are teaching climate change issues in a manner that is not consistent with sound science and that is designed to lead students to the erroneous belief that humans are causing a global warming crisis. We hope that our efforts will restore sound science to climate change education and discourage the political propaganda that too often passes as “education”.

Right-wing ideologues, fueled by the fossil fuel industry, have been increasing their efforts to pollute science education in elementary schools. These attempts to hijack children’s education piggyback on the religious right’s war on biology education and the science of evolution. The National Center for Science Education, which has long led the defense of evolution education in elementary schools, has begun a new program to fight global warming denial in textbooks and classrooms.

Zandar knows what's really going on:

And these modules would start in Kindergarten. The plan of course is to continually call in to question the science behind climate change and call it "critical thinking", the same way cigarettes causing cancer isn't "settled science" and the way evolution is just a "theory". What do you expect from an outfit that calls anyone who believes in climate change to be "an alarmist", as if it's a mental disease.

Meanwhile, this is why Republicans are doing everything they can to take over local school boards and county commissions and city councils, in state assemblies and legislatures and Governor's mansions. 2010 was a crushing defeat for Dems in local and state elections, one bad enough that it will take at least a decade just for the Democratic party to come up for air at the state level.

The best way to prove your argument that government can't work is to destroy it from within.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stop Letting Repugs Define Us and Our Issues

Adele Stan is one of many liberals who have been saying this for years, but apparently some people (coughbarackobamacough) need to be smack upside the head with a rhetorical two-by-four.

What’s really at issue in Douthat’s column is the perils of accepting the right-wing frame when constructing liberal positions. By unilaterally presenting abortion as a very bad thing in the 1990s, the message mavens of the Clinton administration, with their construction of “safe, legal and rare,” gave abortion opponents a rhetorical rationale for piling on restrictions that, in many states, make abortion inaccessible to increasing numbers of women — despite the fact that the Supreme Court decided decades ago that their right to the procedure is protected by the Constitution.

A similar “moral hazard,” if you will, exists in the arguments of some LGBT rights advocates, who assert our rights via the idea that LGBT people are “born this way,” and should therefore not be penalized for sexual behavior, conducted in private between consenting adults, that falls outside the realm of heterosexuality. In rooting one’s rights in the “born this way” claim, one basically makes the case that if one weren’t “born this way,” the behavior would be wrong. How ‘bout the simple constitutional claim that, hey, it’s none of your business?

Our rights come from the Constitution, not from some set of “Judeo-Christian values” selectively defined by right-wing politicians. Leave it to the religious institutions to promote their values as they see fit. After all, that’s their constitutional prerogative.

Every time liberals cede the moral frame to the right wing, liberals lose.

Preach it, girlfriend.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: Joe Hill's Last Will

Joe Hill was executed by the State of Utah in 1915 on the orders of Big Mining furious over union organizing by the International Workers of the World. He left an actual will telling his fellow Wobblies not to mourn, but to organize.

Uploaded by Rogermiler



Uploaded by Rogermiler

The World Austerity Creates

When repugs insist on slashing public investment in the name of "fiscal responsibility," this is what they're really talking about.



More from The Real News, via Southern Dragon at Firedoglake:


"The Greek Experiment. Michael Hudson: Greek crisis used to find out how far finance can drive down wages and privatize."

"Greece’s plight proves that the Lords of Capital have no more use for democratic facades, in Euroland or anywhere else. The Greeks will be allowed to survive – barely, and just for a short while – only if they surrender to “the free movement of capital” and take no actions that would ‘influence the management or control of companies.’ For the people’s purposes, the Greek state has ceased to exist. ‘The sad truth is that citizens of supposedly democratic countries live in dictatorships of, for, and by the rich’."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The "Undeserving" Poor Get Nothiing

Next time some conservatard starts ranting about welfare recipients "living" off the taxes of workers, say: "name three." Because only 9 percent of federal government benefits go to able-bodied adults who don't work. And even among that nine percent, the benefits are too tiny to do more than barely survive.

Kevin Drum:

Republican candidates have lately been parroting Charles Murray's argument that our "entitlement society" has created a nation of deadbeats who would rather live off government benefits than find a job. In response, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a study earlier this week showing the fraction of government benefits that go to able-bodied workers.

Their estimate is about 9 percent. I linked to the CBPP study on Monday, and since their methodology was fairly complex, I added a back-of-the-envelope version that simply added up the benefits of programs that don't serve the elderly, disabled, or working poor. I figured that would make the source of CBPP's number a little more understandable.

The next day I got an email from Arloc Sherman, one of the authors of the study. You can't just add up these programs, he told me, because even a lot of programs that people think of as "welfare" actually serve the elderly, disabled, and working poor too. Medicaid is the biggest example: Most of us think of Medicaid as a program for the poor, but more than half of all Medicaid spending actually goes to the elderly and the disabled.

So what percent of each program goes to the elderly, disabled, or working poor? The bulk of both Medicare and Social Security goes to the elderly and most of the balance goes to the disabled. The Earned Income Tax Credit goes almost entirely to the working poor. But what about the others? I was surprised when I saw the complete breakdown, and you might be too. Here it is:



Eighty-three percent of Medicaid goes to the elderly, disabled, or working poor. Seventy-nine percent of school lunches. Sixty-nine percent of unemployment compensation. Sixty-four percent of SNAP (food stamps). Even TANF, the classic "welfare" program, clocks in at 46 percent—and it's a very small program. The other 54 percent only amounts to about $6 billion, a minuscule fraction of federal benefits, and ever since the 1996 welfare reform bill those benefits have been temporary anyway. It's not really possible to become dependent on TANF any longer.

Overall, only about 9 percent of government benefits go to those who could be thought of as able-bodied workers who either can't or won't find a job. And as the study says:

Moreover, the vast bulk of that 9 percent goes for medical care, unemployment insurance benefits (which individuals must have a significant work history to receive), Social Security survivor benefits for the children and spouses of deceased workers, and Social Security benefits for retirees between ages 62 and 64. Seven out of the 9 percentage points go for one of these four purposes.

Sherman adds this:

Another point: Many of those who decry the growth of entitlement spending seem to forget the most basic of all facts about it: it continues to be driven overwhelmingly by the twin engines of an aging population and the rising cost of medical care. Neither of which has much to do with dependency among the working-age population.

This is especially true for medical care, I think. We spend a fair amount of money on health care services for the poor, but even theoretically that does nothing to make them less likely to work. They still need money for everything else, after all. All it does is provide them with a bare minimum of decent health care. We can afford that, can't we?

Silly Kevin. That's money that could be going to lower Mitt Romney's taxes! Only a liberal would waste it on the poors.

Poor or Elderly in Kentucky? No Phone Service for You!

By @KYYellowDog

The lie here is that broadband internet is generally available in Kentucky outside of metropolitan areas. It is not. I myself live fewer than 10 miles from a city with cable broadband, and yet I do NOT have access to cable, wireless or satellite internet. On various "coverage maps" by phone and wireless providers, my neighborhood is listed as having "good coverage." THIS IS A LIE. Without my telephone landline, I have neither internet nor basic phone service. Without a landline, I cannot even call 9-11 in case of a fire, crime or medical emergency.

Zandar nails it:

When you privatize a utility and cry "Government has no business in business!" and leave everything up to the free market and profit motive, you invariably get people who are priced out of the market. Take for example phone companies who want to simply end landline phone service in the some of the poorest counties in the country in eastern Kentucky.

The industry is pushing Senate Bill 135, referred to as "the AT&T bill" by its sponsor and others because it originated with that company's lobbyists. The bill would strip the Kentucky Public Service Commission of most of its remaining oversight of basic phone service provided by the three major carriers — AT&T, Windstream and Cincinnati Bell — such as the power to initiate investigations into service problems.

More significant, critics say, the bill would let the companies end basic phone service in less profitable parts of their territories if other communications options. State law now requires the companies to serve as "carriers of last resort" for households throughout their territories.

AT&T says it must follow where the market leads. Among its customers, land line usage has dropped 50 percent over the last 10 years and wireless usage has jumped 300 percent, said AT&T spokesman Brad Rateike.

When you take utilities out of the public domain, this is invariably what happens. Profit motive means providing the utility to areas where it's unprofitable means the service is ended. That's where we're heading right now, and with the country needing tens of billions of dollars worth of utility and infrastructure improvements, putting those under the aegis of the free market will only make things worse.

Taxes exist precisely for things like this. But we're told government itself is evil and useless. I may joke about how glibertarians want us all to fend for ourselves, but the reality is that's exactly where we're going under "smaller government".

One of the huge obstacles to progressive legislation in Kentucky is the overwhelming majority in the General Assembly of representatives from rural counties. The annual battle is not so much Democrats vs. repugs as it is urban liberals versus rural mouthbreathing dumbfucks.

The only thing that can unite them is massive amounts of corporate campaign cash. I predict AT&T wins this one.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Outside a Small Circle of Friends"

Thanks to commenter Prup (aka Jim Benton) for the recommendation.

Uploaded by wicknerd:

Look outside the window, there's a woman being grabbed
They've dragged her to the bushes and now she's being stabbed
Maybe we should call the cops and try to stop the pain
But Monopoly is so much fun, I'd hate to blow the game
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Riding down the highway, yes, my back is getting stiff
Thirteen cars are piled up, they're hanging on a cliff.
Maybe we should pull them back with our towing chain
But we gotta move and we might get sued and it looks like it's gonna rain
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Sweating in the ghetto with the colored and the poor
The rats have joined the babies who are sleeping on the floor
Now wouldn't it be a riot if they really blew their tops?
But they got too much already and besides we got the cops
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Oh there's a dirty paper using sex to make a sale
The Supreme Court was so upset, they sent him off to jail.
Maybe we should help the fiend and take away his fine.
But we're busy reading Playboy and the Sunday New York Times
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends

Smoking marihuana is more fun than drinking beer,
But a friend of ours was captured and they gave him thirty years
Maybe we should raise our voices, ask somebody why
But demonstrations are a drag, besides we're much too high
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends

Oh look outside the window, there's a woman being grabbed
They've dragged her to the bushes and now she's being stabbed
Maybe we should call the cops and try to stop the pain
But Monopoly is so much fun, I'd hate to blow the game
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends

[ Additional verse, 1974]

Down in Santiago where they took away our mines
We cut off all their money so they robbed the storehouse blind
Now maybe we should ask some questions, maybe shed a tear
But I bet you a copper penny, it cannot happen here
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends


Monday, February 20, 2012

A Death in Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky is the most conservative section of the Commonwealth. No Democratic statewide candidate can ever be assured of victory until the late returns come in from the counties west of Louisville.

But deep in the heart of conservative Western Kentucky, Hopkinsville is rallying to a family mourning the death by suicide of its bisexual teenager.

From the Kentucky New Era:

Miranda’s death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound has sparked a local movement against bullying and teen suicide. The Miranda Campbell Challenge, started Sunday by Felty and kids from the teen center, has a Facebook page with 1,129 likes from users. Many users have left supportive comments for the movement and Miranda’s family.

The school had a memorial service for Miranda in its gymnasium Wednesday night. Friends and family spoke about Miranda during the event.

Travis Campbell, Miranda’s father, said that his daughter dealt with bullying on a day-to-day basis in school, in connection to her bisexuality. Felty, who knew Miranda for more than two years, also said bullying was a factor in her life.

Both Campbell and Felty want the movement to help discourage bullying in schools and the community.

“We are going to use (the challenge) to communicate to parents and teachers in the area the price that can be paid from lashing out and bullying,” Campbell said. “We are making sure we can turn this into something positive.”

Read the whole thing.

The I.W.W. Fight for Free Speech

February 19th marked the 100th anniversary of the great fight by the International Workers of the World to establish Free Speech Rights in San Diego.

It is a timely reminder that union fights have never been about just pay and benefits, but about forcing the plutocracy to recognize the human and civil rights of working human beings everywhere.

From the AFLCIO blog:

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the fight for free speech in San Diego after the city—in response to an organizing drive by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)—banned public speaking in a popular downtown area. In this cross-post from the California Labor Federation’s Labor’s Edge blog, Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer and CEO for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, looks at the 100-year-old fight for workers’ rights and today’s struggle for worker justice.

It started as an organizing drive for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). But 100 years ago in San Diego, when the Wobblies took to their soapboxes, it turned into a battle to defend free speech that mobilized thousands across the country.

A city ordinance banned public speaking in a downtown area, and protesters were jailed, beaten, tarred and feathered, tortured and even killed for demanding their right to stand on a soapbox and speak. The fight attracted the likes of Emma Goldman, who was nearly attacked by a mob when she arrived in San Diego, and stretched until legal picketing was finally established three years later.

Free speech itself is on stronger footing today. We’ve seen across the country and right here in San Diego that the fight for real freedom continues every day. The freedom of earning a living wage and being able to afford a decent place to live, as well as the freedom of building a secure retirement and having access to basic health care.

Thanks to great work by AFT Local 1931 and our other partners, we’ve enjoyed a monthlong retrospective celebrating those who stood up against the rich and powerful to protect the basic rights of all.

Our celebration has included a fantastic museum exhibition, music, film screenings and readings. Just last week, we partnered with other community groups to commemorate the mass jailing of free speech advocates by occupying the same downtown intersection that saw pitched battles in 1912. It featured music, speeches and readings from atop our own soapboxes (constructed by union carpenters of course), remembering the fight one hundred years ago and the battle for basic rights that continues. Click here to view photos.

This month of celebration—especially our commemoration from atop our own soapboxes—has provided a fantastic launching pad for the latest round of challenges in this election year. Extremist mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is hoping to make San Diego the “Wisconsin of the West,” with endless attacks on working families.

At the ballot, we’re up against attacks on public pensions, on project labor agreements and even the rights of workers to bargain for themselves. Not to mention our statewide effort to stop the Corporate Deception Initiative just like we did in 1998 and 2005.

Then as now, the fight pits the power of people standing up for our basic rights against rich corporate interests that want to strip those rights away. Then as now, the fight may be hard and may be bitter, but standing for basic dignity will prevail.

Via Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Who You Gonna Call?

Again, Occupy steps up to do the hard political work no one else wants to tackle.

Digby:

OWS Gets Wonky

Here's a fascinating interview by Mike Konczal with one of the writers of the Occupy SEC comment letter that's been getting so much praise. I think it's significant for a couple of reasons. The first is that it's clear they came up with a process that worked for getting a consensus document addressing a particular issue, which is a good thing. But more importantly, this document came from Occupy Wall Street, the heart of the movement and ground zero for the 99% vs the 1% claim. Beyond the specifics, which have been received as substantive, serious and important, the significance of a successful collaboration to reform a flaw in the financial system from OWS cannot be understated. As Joe Biden would say, this is a big fucking deal.

Read the whole interview and if you haven't familiarized yourself with the document, you can read these posts by DDay, Felix Salmon, Matt Yglesias, Swampland, The Nation. It's pretty great.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Get Up, Stand Up"

Thanks to commenter Prup (aka Jim Benton) for the recommendation.

Uploaded by Rastavibe13:

Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right (3 times) Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight Preacher man don't tell me heaven is under the earth I know you don't know what life is really worth Is not all that glitters in gold and Half the story has never been told So now you see the light, aay Stand up for your right. Come on Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight (Repeat) Most people think great God will come from the sky Take away ev'rything, and make ev'rybody feel high But if you know what life is worth You would look for yours on earth And now you see the light You stand up for your right, yeah! Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight Get Up, Stand Up. Life is your right So we can't give up the fight Stand up for your right, Lord, Lord Get Up, Stand Up. Keep on struggling on Don't give up the fight We're sick and tired of your ism and skism game Die and go to heaven in Jesus' name, Lord We know when we understand Almighty God is a living man You can fool some people sometimes But you can't fool all the people all the time So now we see the light We gonna stand up for our right So you'd better get up, stand up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight.


Yes, Repugs Are Lying - Still, Again and Always - About Deficits

First, deficits resulting from stimulus spending are not bad, but positively good. Secondly, repugs only care about deficits when a Democrat is in the White House. Thirdly, the causes of 90 percent of our current deficit are two Bush/repug catastrophes: the 2001 tax cuts for the parasitic obscenely rich, and the Monster Clusterfucks in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brian Beutler at TPM:

Republicans have taken to describing President Obama’s budget as “deficits built to last” — a play on Obama’s call for an economy built to last. The implication: hand the government over to us, and we’ll rid the budget of this deficit scourge. Put aside for a moment that wiping out deficits too fast would be economically disastrous, leading to rocketing unemployment rates. The truth is there are plenty of budget proposals out there, including Paul Ryan’s “Path To Prosperity,” which was endorsed by nearly every Republican in Congress. And these also project significant deficits well into the future.

Of course, Obama’s budget is very substantively different from Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity. Obama’s would draw down deficits over the coming decade with a mix of proposed tax increases on high income earners and corporations, already enacted spending cuts, and additional cuts to health care spending and other programs. But it maintains the basic shape of the existing safety net over the long term. Ryan’s calls for huge cuts to the safety net, for making Medicaid a block grant program, and, after a decade, for phasing out Medicare. But he proposes significant tax cuts at the same time.

And even with all that slashing, just what does that do to the projected deficit? The chart below tells you quite starkly:



Yes, Ryan’s plan also gives you… deficits built to last! Ryan’s own numbers project annual deficits of about $400 billion under his plan by the end of the decade. Obama’s budget draws deficits down to about $600 billion over the same time frame. That’s not nothing. But it’s not what you’d expect given the GOP’s heated rhetoric.

Note, too, that Paul Ryan’s budget and the Bowles-Simpson plan based their projections on economic forecasts that grew gloomier over the past year — so their deficit projections are outdated, and perhaps a bit rosier than reality.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

When We Fight, We Win

When we compromise, we lose.

Diane Sweet at Crooks and Liars:

The following press release announces the settlement between ILWU Local 21 and the Export Grain Terminal (EGT).This announcement marks a significant victory for the labor movement in the US.

Via:

Longview, WA – On Friday, members of the ILWU and the labor community named the Occupy Movement as key to the settlement reached Thursday between ILWU Local 21 and the Export Grain Terminal (EGT). The contract finally provides for the use of ILWU labor in the grain terminal at the Port of Longview. After staging the December 12 port shutdowns in solidarity with Local 21, the West Coast Occupy Movement planned coordinated action together with labor allies for a land and water blockade of the EGT ship in Longview, should it attempt to use scab labor to load. Occupys in states where EGT’s parent company, Bunge, has its growth and operations were also planning actions against the company on the day of the arrival of the ship.

“This is a victory for Occupy in their involvement in forcing negotiations. Make no mistake – the solidarity and organization between the Occupy Movement and the Longshoremen won this contract,” said Jack Mulcahy, ILWU officer with Local 8. “The mobilization of the Occupy Movement across the country, particularly in Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and Longview were a critical element in bringing EGT to the bargaining table and forcing a settlement with ILWU local 21.”

“West Coast Occupys had already demonstrated their ability to stage such a blockade by shutting down ports along the West Coast on December 12th, as well as the Port of Oakland on November 2nd,” said Anthony Leviege, ILWU Local 10 in Oakland. The Occupy Movement shut down ports in order to express solidarity with port truckers and Local 21, as well as responding to a nationally-coordinated eviction campaign against Occupy.

Mayor Jean Quan said on Dec.11th that the unions weren't backing this effort, and even if that were true at the time, the unions are certainly full of praise for Occupy Oakland now.

Watch video of the port shutdown here.

Kenneth Quinnell at Crooks and Liars on important labor victories in Arizona (!), Pennsylvania and Colorado:

These are all good signs that when we fight back, we can win, even in places where governors and legislatures are hostile to working families.

As for what happens when dems cave, check out this with this piece by Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money on just how thoroughly the dem cave on the transportation bill damages unions.

This Is How You Talk to Repug and Freakazoid Motherfuckers

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:

Texas federal Judge Fred Biery is a key villain in GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s narrative about why federal judges are out of control and must be intimidated into submission. Gingrich routinely cites a previous decision by Biery holding that the Constitution does not permit a public school district to sponsor a student-led prayer at graduation to justify eliminating courts that displease Gingrich.

Fortunately, the actual parties to this lawsuit were not nearly as unreasonable as Mr. Gingrich, and they eventually agreed to settle the case after mediation. In his order approving the settlement, Biery includes an unusual “personal statement” directed at the many lawmakers who, like Gingrich, have painted him as some kind of enemy of religion:

To the United States Marshal Service and local police who have provided heightened security: Thank you.

To those Christians who have venomously and vomitously cursed the Court family and threatened bodily harm and assassination: In His name, I forgive you.

To those who have prayed for my death: Your prayers will someday be answered, as inevitably trumps probability.

To those in the executive and legislative branches of government who have demagogued this case for their own political goals: You should be ashamed of yourselves.


Biery also includes a clever dig and the many Christian right groups that have attacked him: “Any American can pray, silently or verbally, seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, in private as Jesus taught or in large public events as Mohammed instructed.”

The Rude Pundit has more details and snark.

Stop FrankenFood Salmon in the U.S.

Bad enough we have to endure farmed salmon poisoned by mercury and antibiotics; genetically deformed is where I draw the line.

From Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, and Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm:

The FDA is on the brink of approving genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. This would be the first genetically engineered animal on supermarket shelves in the United States.

The salmon is engineered to produce growth hormones year-round that cause the fish to grow at twice the normal rate. The government already requires labels to tell us if fish is wild-caught or farm-raised—don't we also have a right to know if our salmon is genetically engineered? Without labels, we'll never know.

More than forty countries, including Russia and China, already require labels on genetically engineered foods. As Americans, we firmly believe that we deserve the same right to know what we are eating.

That's why I created a petition to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on SignOn.org, which says:

Commissioner Hamburg, we urge the FDA to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. We have a right to know about the food we eat and what we feed our families, but under current FDA regulations, we don't have that ability when it comes to genetically engineered foods.

Polls show that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling. Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare. Please listen to the American public and mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Will you sign the petition? Click here to add your name, and then pass it along to your friends:

Click here to sign the petition.

Thanks!

–Eric Schlosser and Gary Hirshberg

Disposable Veterans

You think Vietnam was a never-ending clusterfuck for which we still paying - not just financially but socially and culturally? The domestic blowback on Iraq is just starting.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars:

Regardless of the reason, I can't be the only person who's tired of how our troops are used up and tossed away like used tissues:

For most of his 26 years in the military, Maj. Jeff Hackett was a standout Marine. Two tours in Iraq destroyed him.

Home from combat, he drank too much, suffered public breakdowns and was hospitalized for panic attacks. In June 2010, he killed himself.

Hackett’s suicide deeply troubled Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps. Hackett had been plucked from the enlisted ranks to lead Marines as an officer. He left behind a widow, four sons and more than $460,000 in debts. To Amos, Hackett was a casualty of war — surely the family deserved some compensation from the federal government.

Amos asked John Dowd, a prominent Washington lawyer who had represented Sen. John McCain, for help. “There is absolutely no doubt that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress,” Amos wrote to Dowd. “NONE WHAT SO EVER!”

“We will raise as much hell as we can,” Dowd, a former Marine, wrote back to Amos.

Almost two years later, the high-level intercession by the Marine commandant and the Washington lawyer has produced little from the federal government for Hackett’s widow. The inability of Dowd to wrest any money from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows the limits of what the federal government can do for families of service members who kill themselves as a result of mental trauma caused by war.

Dowd and a team of nine lawyers have fought unsuccessfully for the last 18 months to convince the VA and Prudential Financial Inc., which administers a life insurance program for veterans, to pay a $400,000 claim to Danelle Hackett. The life insurance premiums were automatically deducted from Hackett’s paycheck for 26 years when he was on active duty.

If Hackett had been killed in battle or committed suicide before he retired in 2008, his wife would have received the $400,000 from the policy. But Hackett left the military and, amid mounting personal crises, let the policy lapse.

A provision in the current law allows troops who suffer from mental or physical wounds that render them incapable of “substantially gainful employment” to receive exemptions from paying the premium for as long as three years after leaving the military. That three-word phrase — “substantially gainful employment” — is the linchpin of Hackett’s case and potentially hundreds of others.

The VA, which failed to diagnose Hackett’s mental illness when he was alive, concedes that the Marine died of “severe and chronic” post-traumatic stress disorder connected to his service in Iraq. The agency, however, rejected the insurance claim.

This time, we are not making the societal mistake of ignoring veterans because the war they fought made us angry or uncomfortable. But we are making the mistake of thinking a federal government gutted by economy-killing austerity can properly support veterans and avoid devastating consequences.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Sacco and Vanzetti"


It's only a matter of time until a couple of Occupiers are framed and railroaded the same way, for the same "crime" of defying and publicly decrying capitalism.

Uploaded by fh3267

Sacco and Vanzetti the 2 leaders of the working class were executed in America 1927 song of Woody Guthrie & David Rovics

Oh say there, have you heard the news
Sacco worked at trimming shoes
Vanzetti was a traveling man
Pushed his cart round with his hands

Two good men's a long time gone
Sacco and Vanzetti are gone
Two good men's a long time gone
Left me here to sing this song

Sacco came from across the sea
Somewhere over Italy
Vanzetti born of parents fine
Drank the best Italian wine

Sacco was a family man
Sacco's wife three children had
Vanzetti was a dreaming man
A book was always in his hand

Sacco made his bread and butter
Being the factory's best shoe-cutter
Vanzetti worked both day and night
Taught the people how to fight

I'll tell you if you ask me
About the payroll robbery
Two clerks were shot in the shoe factory
There in the streets of old Braintree

I'll tell you the prosecutors' names
Katman, Adams, Williams, Kane
Them and the judge were the best of friends
Did more tricks than circus clowns

The judge he told his friends around
"Gonna put them rebels down"
"Anarchist bastards" was the name
The judge he gave these two fine men

Vanzetti docked in '98
Slept upon a dirty street
Taught the people how to organize
Now in the electric chair he dies

All us people ought to be
Like Sacco and Vanzetti
Every day find ways to fight
On the people side for workers' rights