Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anti-Woman = Anti-Sex

I remember laughing at the Monica Lewinsky hysterics back in 1998 and wondering if any of them realized just how obvious they were. Apparently none of them had a friend close enough to say "Honey, all that red-faced screeching at the mere mention of a blow job does make you seem to be taking this a bit personally."

But amidst all our snorting over the what's-a-little-cocksucking-between-friends jokes we never imagined that these people really are anti-sex and dead fucking serious about it.

Much less what it would mean for the sexual revolution we thought we'd won in the '60s.
Sarah Posner's profile of the most important right wing anti-feminist you've never heard of is must read. I think Phyllis Schlaffly may have found her successor:
Some people have been making the case that the abortion wars were never about "life" from the beginning. It was a very specific marketing decision to pit adorable innocent babies against selfish, immoral bitches who spawned them. But it was always about the sex. And now they are emboldened to make their real argument.
Alvaré and her cohorts might seem absurd — after all, having sex isn’t like jumping out of an airplane — but in conservative circles, both academic and political, her views are given currency. She contends that what she calls “sexuality-ism” — essentially, sexual freedom — is “the most pronounced opponent of religious freedom right now.” But, she adds, with both honesty and portent: “Who is the biggest opponent of sexuality-ism? It’s us.”
Read the whole thing. It's actually quite bracing. The years of fighting against being portrayed as heartless baby killers has demoralized many feminists and made them forget what these people really care about. It's a testament to the power of the propaganda --- and women's primal understanding of and sensitivity toward their role in human reproduction --- that this has worked so well in spite of the obvious hypocrisy. After all, these are the same people who believe that there should be no food, shelter, health or education guarantee for actual children, which should give the game away.

It's long past time we put away the sanctimony about "life" and got down to the real argument. Are women fully human or aren't they? Do they have the right to physical pleasure, personal freedom, bodily autonomy or don't they? Historically the answer has usually been no, or at best, a very qualified yes. We have begun to think differently these last few decades and some people don't like it, which is what this is really all about. I'm happy to see it out in the open. Now we can have a fair fight.

Raise the Minimum Wage

Some Democratic representatives in Congress are not sitting around as convenient punching bags for repug thugs while waiting for the election to be over. Some Drmocratic representatives are proposing legislation that will actually boost the economy and help working people.

A group of House Democrats have proposed increasing the minimum wage to $10, which, as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) pointed out would allow the wage to “catch up” with where it would be had it been allowed to grow with inflation: 


The minimum wage hit its peak buying power in 1968; to have the same buying power today, the minimum wage would have to be $9.92. If the minimum wage had been indexed to the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.
But what kind of socialist hell-hole would that kind of livable income usher in?
An analysis by the Center for American Progress’ Nick Bunker, David Madland, and the University of North Carolina’s T. William Lester, however, found five recent studies showing that increasing the minimum wage — even during periods of high unemployment — does not have a negative effect on job growth.

While increasing the minimum wage likely has no effect on job creation, it does have a tangible benefit for workers. Eight states increased their minimum wage at the beginning of 2012, providing extra benefits to 1.4 million workers. More than half of the workers directly affected by a minimum wage increase, as well as more than half who would be indirectly affected, are women, meaning increasing the wage provides help to a segment of the population that already faces significant disadvantages in the workplace.
And let's not forget that unlike the billion-dollar Wall Street salaries that go to fatten secret offshore bank accounts, the money paid to minimum-wage workers goes immediately and completely to buying food, clothing, shelter and transportation, thus growing the local economy.

Find more quick, easy facts about the minimum wage here.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Message"

Uploaded by djbuddyloverootsrap on Apr 25, 2011


"All Hands On Deck"

Speaking of things only government can do ....

 Full transcript here.

Slut Shaming Never Goes Out of Style

As someone who both remembers when schools banned blue jeans and also deplores droopy pants, let me assure you that this latest school stupidity has nothing to do with dress codes and everything to do with shaming women to preserve patriarchal power.

This (month) students at New York’s Stuyvesant High School (my alma mater) protested a discriminatory dress code by participating in “Slutty Wednesday”—a day in which students deliberately violated the code that bars them, among other restrictions, from wearing anything that bares their shoulders. (The horror!)

Senior Madeline Rivera told the New York Times that the way in which the dress code is enforced singled those out those with certain “body shapes” or those who were “more curvy.” In fact, according to reports from students over the past few months, the code almost exclusively targets women in language and practice—a possible violation of their Title IX rights.


In addition to the violation of female students’ rights, the thinking behind the code sends a dangerous message to young women – that they are responsible for the way in which society objectifies and sexualizes them.

Take this comment from Principal Stanley Teitel: “Many young ladies wear denim skirts which are very tight and are short to begin with, and when they sit down, they only rise up, because there’s nowhere else to go…. The bottom line is, some things are a distraction, and we don’t need to distract students from what is supposed to be going on here, which is learning.”

It’s not the responsibility of female students to mitigate the male gaze. You find female bodies “distracting”? That’s your problem, not women’s. Society teaches that women exist to be looked at, objectified and sexualized—it’s up to others to make sure that they don’t contribute to that injustice.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Explaining Roberts: Business Uber Alles

Short version: Corporate America didn't want the ACA overturned (it's profitable and it postpones demands for single payer), and little johnny always does what his corporate masters tell him to do.


Unlike his right wing brethren on the Court, it would appear that Roberts is ideological to the extent that ideology serves money. Most of the time that makes a majority with Thomas, Alito, Scalia and Kennedy. In this case, due to the nature of the law and its goals, it swung the other way. But Roberts wasn't being inconsistent. He delivered
The Supreme Court is where the real conservative revolution --- the corporate revolution --- is going to be taking place over the next several years. Today Chief Justice Roberts went a long way toward ensuring that it will have the legitimacy to get that done.
Read the whole thing.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Merchandise"

Uploaded by serpas86 on Jun 19, 2008

When we have nothing left to give
There will be no reason for us to live
But when we have nothing left to lose
You will have nothing left to use
We owe you nothing you have no control
Merchandise keeps us in line
Common sense says it's by design
What could a businessman ever want more
than to have us sucking in his store
We owe you nothing
You have no control
You are not what you own

Are Firefighters People?

 Firefighters are about to become the most important public employees in the country, if they haven't already. We would be smart to take extra-good care of them.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

As brutal wildfires spread in Colorado, federal fighters, along with state and local first responders, are doing everything they can to deal with the disaster.

But Sarah Kliff noted a detail yesterday that I did not know: thousands of federal firefighters do not have health insurance.


For what it's worth, the Affordable Care Act would extend health care subsidies to these firefighters -- many of whom make modest salaries between $25,000 and $35,000 a year -- making insurance affordable for them in 2014.


Postscript: Incidentally, didn't Mitt Romney and his campaign just spend a week telling voters it's absurd of President Obama to want to hire more firefighters? Given the developments, maybe that wasn't the smartest thing Romney has ever done?

Update: John Lauer, a 27-year-old member of a Colorado-based "hotshot" crew, is one of the uninsured first responders, and he's created a petition on in support of health benefits for firefighters. As of this afternoon, it has a little over 116,000 signatures.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Case the Supremes Will Use to Eliminate Environmental Laws

Right now, John "Traitor to the Cause" Roberts is frantically searching for a case that will let him crush the dirty fucking hippies once and for all and most importantly cancel the hit Karl Rove and the Kochs just took out on him.

This is that case.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the first-ever regulations aimed at reducing the gases blamed for global warming.

The rules, which were challenged by industry groups and various states, including Kentucky and Indiana, will reduce emissions of six heat-trapping gases from large industrial facilities such as factories and power plants, as well as from automobile tailpipes.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said that the Environmental Protection Agency was “unambiguously correct” in using existing federal law to address global warming.

The ruling is perhaps the most significant to come on the issue since 2007, when the Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases could be controlled as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.


Kentucky’s top environmental regulator, Len Peters, said it was “unfortunate” that the appeals court “chose to ignore Kentucky’s assertion” that the EPA regulations were “unlawful attempts” to “rewrite the text of a statute enacted by Congress.”


Industry groups vowed to fight on. “This decision is a disappointment to Kentucky (electric utility) ratepayers and the coal industry,” and one that will harm the economy across Appalachia, said Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association. He said he expects further legal challenges.
Would the Supremes overturn their own five-year-old precedent? The same Court that overturned a century of precedent and shit all over the Constitution for the sole purpose of destroying the Democratic Party forever and guaranteeing a permanent Corporatocracy? They can't wait.

Concern-Trolling Electric Cars

This is how repugs win issues that should be dead-bang losers for them: they hide their real agenda behind a reasonable-sounding proposal that liberals feel obligated to support because it's so reasonable.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

Since 1920, Kentucky has taxed gasoline at the pumps to pay for road construction and repair. But with the advent of motor vehicles that do not use gasoline as their chief source of fuel, an advocacy group is pushing for legislation to require "next generation" vehicles to pay for road usage.
Kentuckians for Better Transportation, whose 240 members include local governments, road contractors and other businesses, wants the General Assembly to consider adding a fee to annual auto registrations for electric cars and other vehicles that run on fuels other than gasoline.
Translation: Electric cars are putting the fossil-fuel industry at risk, so let's blame them for crumbling roads and make everybody hate the dirty fucking hippies who drive them.

This nation desperately needs trillions of dollars to repair and rebuild our transportation system. The place to get those dollars is by cancelling the billions in subsidies to Big Oil, Big Gas and Big Coal, then levying massive taxes on their trillions in profits.

Not by punishing the electric car industry that is saving all our oil-soaked asses.

Repugs Already Stealing This Victory

Chief Justice Shithead found a way to avoid upholding the Commerce Clause while making the Wall Street Court look reasonable and convicting Democrats of the Biggest Tax Increase in History - all at the same time.

The repugs are already three scores up in this fight. So listen to the coach, then get out there and fight back!

Full transcript here.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Liverpool Lullaby"

Uploaded by dbootle on Feb 9, 2009


Let Them Eat Silage *

The flip side of the egregious corporate giveaways to obscenely wealthy Big Ag in every "Farm" Bill is the egregious cuts in the pennies of food stamp funding grudgingly doled out to starving children in the very same bill.

Or as Melissa Harris-Perry put it on Saturday:

"The farm bill makes sure that cereal makers have their corn syrup, but it won't make sure that hungry kids have cereal for breakfast."

Part One

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

Part Two

* This is silage.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Monument to Anti-Women Hate, Murder and Terrorism

Not a metaphorical monument; an actual, physical, concrete celebration of their horrible cult of death

And they plan to build it in the very place where one of their pet terrorists assassinated a genuine hero of the Right of Every Woman to Life.

Stan Finger at The Wichita Eagle:

A Wichita church is hoping to raise millions of dollars to construct a National Pro Life Memorial and International Life Center.

The center will be built on land at Meridian and 37th North that has been donated for the center, said Mark Holick, pastor of Spirit One Christian Ministry.

“We’re just in the beginning” of fundraising efforts, Holick said Monday. “We haven’t raised anything.”

Organizers envision “a place of repentance, mediation and healing,” according to a brochure on the project. Plans include an exact replica of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and memorial gardens.

Sixty crosses memorializing the estimated 60 million abortions that have been performed since the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade will be placed around the grounds.

A board of directors, website, telephone number and temporary office space “will soon be announced,” a promotional brochure states.

Want to support the organization that Dr. George Tiller founded to protect the rights of adult women? Donate to Trust Women.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Jacob's Ladder"

Uploaded by MarkWillsMusic on Sep 19, 2010


Repugs Playing PAC Hardball in Kentucky

Mitt Romney is shamelessly coordinating his campaign with Super-PAC master Karl Rove and dems don't make a peep, but let a dem PAC use old campaign footage, and the repugs are in court charging high crimes and misdemeanors.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

A Lexington attorney has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler's re-election campaign illegally coordinated ads with an independent expenditure group.

The complaint filed by Mark A. Wohlander deals with an ad launched last week by Patriot Majority USA that touts Chandler and his role in Medicare.

Wohlander has contributed to the campaign of Chandler's rival, Republican Andy Barr, but said he was not asked by Barr or anyone in the Barr campaign to file the complaint. Chandler and Barr are in a rematch this year for Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District seat. Chandler narrowly beat Barr in 2010.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "I'm Afraid of Americans"

A reminder that one of the plutocracy's crimes is pushing people to spend ourselves into debt slavery.

Uploaded by chocolateheroine on May 25, 2006


The Lucky Ones

To the many ways repugs and conservatards deny reality, you can add their refusal to acknowledge the role of dumb luck.


Here's Lance Mannion, talking about what these people really have. (It's not freedom.)

[A]t their wake some Republican friend looks down into their coffin and says, “Your own fault, pal.”

“You should have planned better. You should have made smarter decisions. You should have managed your money more wisely. You should have taken better care of yourself, and don’t give me any crap about genetics. You should have lived your life the way I lived mine. You should have arranged things so that you were as lucky as I’ve been.”

Well, no they don’t.

At least not that very last bit.

You’d never hear one say, “I’ve been lucky.”

They haven’t been lucky.

They’ve been deserving.

They’ve deserved everything they have because they’ve earned it.

They earned having the parents they had. They earned being born in the richest, freest country in the world. They earned having no genetic predispositions to high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, schizophrenia, cancer. They earned not being hit by a bus when they were in grade school. They earned having a roommate in college who was able to explain general relativity or Hamlet to them the night before that midterm. They earned not having the plus sign turn blue. They earned that the company they went to work for didn’t go belly up when the market crashed or let them go in the round of mass layoffs that followed. They earned having children who didn’t get deathly sick or have disabilities or develop emotional problems or drug habits that required them to take their focus off their jobs, take time off work, and cause their bosses to say, “We feel your pain, but we can’t afford to carry you anymore if you’re not here to pull your weight. Here’s your hat, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Make sure you give your cell phone to security. And, no, we don’t have any idea what you’re going to do about insurance now and we don’t care and we don’t have to care and anyway you should have planned better. You should have saved more. You should have worked harder. You should have been luck…You should have deserved not to have what’s happened to you happen to you.”

They deserve it. They earned it. You? You didn’t. If you had, you’d have it. QED. And what you didn’t earn and don’t deserve, you don’t get. Simple as that. You suff.

It's even more egregious among the parasites of the one percent, where they get away with it because liberals refuse to call them out on it.

David Atkins:

.... what has been missing from much of leftist discourse isn't just economic inequality or the struggles of working families. What's missing is discussion of luck.

After all, what could be more iconoclastic to the edifice of the neoliberal and conservative systems? Declaring the Masters of the Universe incompetent is a given. Calling them evil is commonplace and mostly worth a chuckle. Using words such as heartless, bumbling, uncaring, greedy, inept, callous, and self-serving barely makes a dent.

But to call Lloyd Blankfein "lucky", or to say that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were simply "fortunate"--that's something altogether different. That's revolutionary. It cuts against the dominant discourse of the institutional left and right to reorient the entire social contract. It challenges not only the ethic of equality of opportunity, but also the legitimacy of much of the inequality of outcomes.

Hard work is still a key to success, of course. But what has been lost in modern culture is that many fail to achieve traditional measures of success despite high intelligence and hard work, while many "succeed" despite constant failure. Social connections are a huge factor. Most of our governing elites come from Ivy League universities, despite the fact that a huge number of very bright and highly competent people never attended an Ivy League institution. And then there's just being in the right place at the right time: how many Internet millionaires would have succeeded just as well had they been born in a pre-Internet world? How successful would Michael Jordan have been, had he been born in a country where soccer was the dominant sport?

Hard work is one factor in success, but it pales in comparison to good connections, family privilege, and dumb luck.

How have you been lucky?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Homeless"

Published on Dec 20, 2006 by almirCCR

African Concert - Graceland -live in Africa

Rally for Single-Payer in Kentucky

From KY


On the Day Following the Supreme Court Decision
Join Us in Response to the Court’s Decision on the ACA
Forward to Single Payer!

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before the end of June.  Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care invites you to be with us as we join demonstrations for single payer all across the country with the positive message--Forward to Single Payer Health Care.  We march for single payer, regardless of what the court’s decision is.

At 4:00 pm on the day following the Supreme Court’s announcement, we will gather in Jefferson Park at 6th and Jefferson in downtown Louisville. There will be brief remarks.  We will have signs, but you are welcome to bring your own.

Beginning at 4:30 pm we will walk the two blocks to the Humana Headquarters at 5th and Main where we will issue a statement stressing the urgency of adopting a single-payer health system – an improved Medicare for All – as the only way to assure truly universal, comprehensive and affordable coverage, eliminate financial barriers to care, improve efficiency and control costs.

Our main message:
“To save lives and money, enact HR 676, an improved Medicare for all.”

If the law is declared unconstitutional in whole or in part, we will point out that single payer is clearly constitutional.

The Schedule for the Day Following the Supreme Court Decision:

        4:00 pm: Gather in Jefferson Park at 6th and Jefferson
        Around 4:30 pm:  Begin Walk to the Humana Headquarters at 5th and Main
        Around 5:00 pm:  5th and Main, Rally and release statement to the press

We ask that all organizations help by forwarding this message to your members and turning out a crowd that will signal a positive, humane direction in health care for our people and the nation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why Unions Are Necessary

It's obvious to those of us who understand, but in the face of 100 years of repug corporate lies repeated continuously, this cannot be said often enough.

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic allowed me to respond to his forum asking whether unions are necessary. And in the leadoff position no less. Here it is:
The question of whether unions are necessary is misguided. There is no other proven method to ensure that working-class people receive decent wages, safe working conditions, or a voice on the job. Unions continue to provide workers high-quality representation, helping them receive a fair share of the income their work generates while protecting them from capricious bosses, hazards on the job, and harassment from superiors. There are no other known systems that provide workers these benefits.

The better question is why unions have declined. There is a clear answer to this question: a half-century of intentional union-busting from corporations with assists from federal and state governments. Historians have shown that the supposed “Grand Bargain,” where companies agreed to unionized workplaces in return for an end to radical workplace action was never accepted by corporate America. Even before World War II, corporations looked to move their unionized factories to non-union states. When unions proved too popular across the United States and when federal labor and environmental protections began affecting profit margins, corporations lobbied the federal government to promote globalization, first through the Border Industrialization Project that allowed American companies to build on the Mexican side of the border and then through a full-scale race to bottom, as companies traveled the globe looking for easily exploited labor. None of this has made unions irrelevant; rather, recent labor defeats are simply the next round in this corporate assault upon the rights of working people.

Simply asking a question like whether unions are necessary gives credence to right-wing talking points about organized labor. We need to focus on how to fight back against the corporate malfeasance and greed that has undermined the American working class and plunged the economy into stagnation that has already reached a half-decade. Organized labor is central to any solution to our current economic problems. It is worth noting that the heyday of organized labor coincided with the longest period of growth in the history of the American economy. Only strong unions can provide a fair piece of the economic pie to the working and middle-classes, creating a robust economy that benefits all Americans.

The Barefoot and Pregnant States

Yes, of course Kentucky is one. See what a DINO governor and state house will get you?

Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress:

Half Of States Protect Men’s Health More Than Women’s | Twenty-two states will not offer coverage of contraception to women on the same basis as it is offered to men if the Affordable Care Act is overturned. The Progressive States Network put together this map, which shows that no matter how the Supreme Court rules on the law, women in 28 states will have contraceptives covered on the same basis as men’s reproductive care. In the other states, though, women are less lucky:

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Hole in the Bucket"

Uploaded by pangaeaspeople1 on May 31, 2011

Black Lesbian Defeats Incumbent DINO in Nevada with No Money

I don't know whether this story flying under the radar is a sign that non-traditional candidates winning is now dog-bites-man, or a sign that Our Liberal Media still refuses to give such candidates any oxygen.

Either way, tell all your friends!

Down with Tyranny:

Which brings us to something remarkable that happened in Nevada, of all places, (June 12).

Short version: another out-of-touch, entrenched political scumbag, this time state Senator John Lee, had his ass handed to him... by an African-American lesbian with no money. John Lee was like the king of North Las Vegas and a grimy part of the state Democratic Machine. Everybody was backing him-- Harry Reid, the big lobbyists, all the politicians... everybody but the people. Patricia Spearman a gay minister won a landslide victory over him in Tuesday's primary-- and in a district so blue that no Republican even bothered to run. Have you noticed that those blue districts have been unkind to Republican-lite Democrats lately?

Democratic state Sen. John Lee was defeated in a stunning upset Tuesday by political newcomer Patricia Spearman despite having a huge money advantage and the backing of the Democratic establishment.

With about 90 percent of the precincts reporting in Senate District 1, Spearman, a gay minister, had more than 60 percent of the vote to top the incumbent from North Las Vegas, Lee raised more than $200,000 for his re-election bid, dwarfing Spearman's estimated $13,000 fund-raising take.

But he was targeted by environmentalists and conservationists upset over Lee's sponsorship of 2011 bill that paved the way for Nevada to withdraw from a partnership with California that governs development and environmental regulations at Lake Tahoe.

Lee, who has served in the Senate since 2004, also ran afoul of the more liberal members of the Democratic Party for opposing a 2009 domestic partnership law that extended rights to cohabitating gay and heterosexual couples. Lee also opposed a failed Democratic plan last year to raise taxes.

And, by the way, Pastor Spearman is the vice-chairwoman for the Stonewall Democrats of Southern Nevada. She's savvy and she's another harbinger of big changes that are coming to this country, changes for the better.

The Real Religious Terrorists

Because Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph and Scott Roeder aren't muslims.

David at Crooks and Liars:

Texas Congressman Al Green (D) says he wouldn't mind Rep. Peter King (R-NY) repeatedly calling hearings on "radical Islam" if he would also conduct a "hearing on the radicalization of Christians."

During a Wednesday House Homeland Security Committee hearing on "The Radicalization of Muslim-Americans," Green wondered why the chairman had only focused on one religion.

"If you agree that radicalization exists within all religions to some extent, would you kindly extend a hand into the air," Green, who is the grandson of a Christian minister, asked the witnesses testifying before the committee. He noted that "all the hands are raised."

"I don't think that most people oppose hearings on radicalization," the congressman explained. "I do not, not -- N-O-T -- oppose hearings on radicalization. I do oppose hearings that don't focus on the entirety of radicalization. And if you agree that we have Christians, as has been mentioned by more than one member, Christians who become radicalized, they become part of Islam and they become radicalized as is being said, why not have a hearing on the radicalization of Christians?"

He added: "I do think that it is a problem of perception. People who see the hearings and never hear about the hearing on the radicalization of Christianity have to ask themselves, 'Why is this missing?' Why don't we go to the next step and ask, how is that a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, white female in the United States of America can become radicalized to the point of wanting to do harm to this country? We don't have that type of hearing. That's the problem."

Green pointed out that he had often been mistaken for a Muslim because of his appearance.

"I do know what it feels like to look like a Muslim in the minds of some people and to be demeaned in a public venue," he said. "I look forward to the day that we'll have that hearing that deals with the radicalization of Christians in America."

An analysis (PDF) by Council on American-Islamic Relations of King's first four hearings on Islamic radicalization determined that the chairman had "failed to produce the promised evidence to support his stigmatization of America’s Muslims."

"King’s record of leveling unsubstantiated allegations and biased attacks on the Muslim community and habit of naming people with records of anti-Muslim bias as potential witnesses and information sources denies him any current credibility in discussions about American Muslims and homeland security," the group concluded.

Click here for video.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Are You One of Those People?"

The ridiculous, counter-productive and democracy-destroying witch hunts of American muslims is far from over, much less free of long-term consequences, as The Nation documents in a special issue.

From Laila Al-Arian's article "When your father is accused of terrorism."

Aref, knowing nothing about the supposed missile sale, was asked to witness the loan payment. The informant spoke in code, using the word chaudry—a common South Asian surname—to refer to the missile. Aref was arrested and, in March 2007, sentenced to fifteen years in prison on terror charges, including support for a foreign terrorist organization and money laundering.

“It’s fabricated police work,” says Andrew Shryock, a University of Michigan professor, regarding these types of prosecutions using government informants. “And the disturbing thing is not that it produces arrests but that the public tolerates it.”

Aref’s case galvanized peace activists in Albany, who held vigils and wrote letters to the judge calling for Aref’s release. Among them was Steve Downs, a former attorney for New York state, who volunteered in his defense. The day after Aref’s conviction, he visited his client in prison. “He looked at me and said, ‘I want to fire you as my lawyer,’” Downs told me, smiling. “But he said, ‘I want to hire you as my brother.’ He said, ‘I don’t have any family in this country, and I need family more than I need lawyers.’”

Downs and the Muslim Solidarity Committee, as the mostly non-Muslim Albany activists called themselves, raised thousands of dollars to help cover the rent for Aref’s wife and four children. Downs and others also drove Aref’s children to visit their father in prison, fourteen hours away in Indiana.

“I’m not sure I would’ve had the guts to do any of this by myself,” Downs says of the activism around Aref’s case, which drew strength from the number of people involved. Now 70 and retired, Downs says his profession long discouraged him from involvement in political causes, so that for twenty-eight years, he was in a “cocoon.” Today, he is glad to have broken free of it.

“When I was 3 years old, my father died in World War II,” he recalls. “He was a Navy doctor. Later, I asked my mom, ‘Why did he die?’ She would say, ‘Well, there was this war—the Nazis came to power in Germany.’ I would ask, ‘How did Hitler come to power if he was so bad?’ And she would say, ‘Because good people who could have stopped him didn’t do anything.’

“A lot of time growing up, I was angry at good people who didn’t do anything,” Downs says. “Until one day, I realized I was one of those people.”

Real democracies aren't afraid of pluralism. Real democracies don't take their failures to solve big problems out on defenseless little people. Real democracies don't bully their own citizens.

Yet More Polls Showing Most Americans Are Redistributive Socialists

Think you're in the smart minority for wanting higher taxes on the rich, less military spending and more social spending? Sorry, you're not that special. Most of your fellow Americans agree. Travis Waldron at Think Progress:

Nearly 70 percent of Americans now say that cutting the deficit is an important goal for 2012, with 84 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Democrats, and 64 percent of Independents rating it as their top priority. There’s a major problem, though: when asked about specific programs, wide majorities almost always favor either increasing spending or maintaining the current level, according to the Pew Research Center.

On education, for instance, 62 percent favor increases and 25 percent favor maintaining the current level. More than 90 percent favor either an increased level or the current level of spending on veteran’s benefits; and more than 80 percent favor increasing levels or maintaining the current level on college financial aid, public school spending, Medicare, and Social Security. The only program that even gains a plurality of support for reduced spending levels is aid to the world’s needy, as the chart from Pew shows.

Of course, cutting aid to the world’s needy would do virtually nothing to reduce the deficit. Though Americans think it represents anywhere from 10 percent to one-third of the federal budget, in reality, it makes up less than one percent of federal spending.

By contrast, Americans actually do support one way to reduce the federal deficit: raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. (HT: Sarah Kliff)
Yes, you are not just surrounded by dirty fucking hippie commies. You are one of them.

No, it doesn't matter that stabbing someone in the back and then running away is pretty much the exact opposite of "standing your ground."

Andrew Wolfson at the Courier:

Citing Kentucky’s controversial “stand your ground” law, a divided state Court of Appeals Friday threw out the conviction of a man who fatally stabbed another man in the back in a Newport street brawl, then ran away.

So-called “stand your ground,” or “no retreat” laws — enacted in 21 states, including Kentucky and Indiana — have come under fire in the wake of a high-profile Florida case in which neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and initially avoided criminal charges under that state’s version of the statute.

Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel has criticized the Kentucky law as giving people “a license to kill.”


In a dissent, Judge Kelly Thompson of Bowling Green wrote: “Lemons was not defending his ‘castle’ but was a participant in a brawl outside a nightclub. The autopsy report indicated that the victim died from stab wounds in the back. Lemons had no defensive stab wounds, and only Lemons’ version of the facts supported his self-defense theory.”

Yep, it's pretty much open season on anybody who pisses you off. Or gets in your way. Or just happens to be standing there doing nothing.

Push your wheelchair-bound grandmother down the stairs? You're standing your ground against her annoying guilt trips! Shoot up a college quad full of freshmen? You're standing your ground against godless liberal indoctrination!

Use your imagination - under Stand Your Ground laws, anything is possible.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Factory"

Uploaded by on Mar 20, 2010

Strip-searched for Drinking Beer

Note that no one involved in this blatant case of state-sanctioned sexual abuse of two children has been fired, much less arrested, charged, convicted and imprisoned.

Apparently that's because the guards were following orders, their supervisors didn't know what the guards were doing, state officials didn't know what the policy was and the department commissioner has been allowed to retire.

As a Kentucky taxpayer, I sincerely hope the parents of these molested teens take the state for millions.

Jennifer Hewlett at the Herald:

A federal judge has ruled that a Kentucky juvenile detention center's screening of two Perry County teen half-siblings while they were naked was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure.

U.S. Senior District Judge Karl S. Forester made the ruling June 14 in a 23-page document that also addresses other legal issues in the case, which stems from the intake screenings of the two juveniles at the Breathitt Regional Juvenile Detention Center in 2009. The teens were jailed after being charged with underage drinking, charges that were later dismissed.

The parents of the Perry County teens filed suit against the two jail guards who conducted the screenings, Mitchell Gabbard and Rebecca Harvey; Breathitt detention center director Gary Sewell, superintendent Gary Drake and assistant superintendent Jeff Voyles; then-Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice commissioner J. Ronald Haws; and then-deputy state juvenile justice commissioner A. Hasan Davis.

The two were arrested for "public intoxication," a ridiculous charge that cops use as an excuse to grab and intimidate anyone they don't like.

At the very least, I hope this disabuses everyone of the notion that juvenile detention facilities are "kiddie jails." They are full-fledged prisons, complete with locked-down, windowless, solitary-confinement cells; mandatory silence and sexually predatious staff.

"Ccmmon-sense policies that would make a difference"

In case it is not clear, your skyrocketing student loans and your cratering public highways are 100 percent the fault of the obstructionist repugs in Congress. Tell all your friends, then register them all to vote.

Full transcript here.

How to Talk to Red-State Voters About ObamaCare

I'm sure cowardly worm Ben Chandler won't follow Heidi's lead (yet another reason why he'll lose to the real repug in the race, but maybe stand-up dem Bill Adkins will.

Down with Tyranny:

Democrats running in red districts or red states are in a tough situation with voters who are uninterested in nuance and long used to voting against their own financial interests. The campaign video (above), released yesterday by Democrat Heidi Heitkamp handles it exceedingly well. It's a response to the latest DC special interests attacks funded by secret donors. They've already spent over half a million dollars-- which goes a LONG way in North Dakota-- smearing Heitkamp and bolstering the campaign of the state's biggest, and most hated, landlord, Rick Berg. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look, or even watch it again. Key line: "There are good things, and bad things in the health care law, but we have to make coverage more secure, not less. Unlike my opponent, I won't vote to deny coverage to kids or let insurance companies deny coverage for pre-existing conditions."

Heitkamp has reminded the media that just months after filming a campaign ad attacking his opponent for eliminating waste within Medicare, Berg voted to maintain these very same savings. According to the Associated Press: “In a post-election reversal, House Republicans are supporting nearly $450 billion in Medicare cuts that they criticized vigorously last fall after Democrats and President Barack Obama passed them as part of their controversial health care law. The cuts are included in the 2012 budget that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled last week and account for a significant share of the $5.8 trillion in claimed savings over the next decade.” Rick Berg... a hypocrite? No one who's ever dealt with him as their landlord would have to wonder. He also voted, right after being elected to the House, to allow insurance companies to deny health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, a part of ObamaCare that is even popular with Republicans.

Even with all the money Big Business has been dumping into the North Dakota race, polls show that Berg is still losing. Heidi's a real fighter and she's not going to be pushed around by Karl Rove and his financiers. As Attorney General, she took on Big Tobacco and won. When she was diagnosed with cancer-- just two months from election day-- she underwent chemotherapy and she still managed to campaign. The DSCC was smart to back her, even in a tough electoral environment

Friday, June 22, 2012

Being Anti "Illegals" Makes You Racist

Yes, it does.

Ran into a repug-hating, Obama-supporting, professed liberal the other day who started foaming at the mouth at the faintest suggestion of immigration reform.

"They broke the law!" in smug superiority. "I have nothing against legal immigrants."

Bullshit. And racism.

Because the only difference between "legal" immigrants and "illegal" immigrants is time and race. Except for a few thousand full-blooded natives, everyone in this country is the descendant of immigrants. And the vast majority of those immigrants arrived before there were legal quotas restricting immigration.

Legal quotas, by the way, that until 1924 never applied to white people.

My immigrant ancestors got here because they accepted deportation to the colonial wilderness as an alternative to being hanged for theft. Almost immediately, they broke the law again by breaking their contract for indentured servitude and fleeing across the mountains. If the authorities could have found them, they would have been hanged, not deported.

I'd say most white Americans have similar fine citizens in their ancestral closets. We have no right to look down on anyone who risked her life to cross the border without papers.

So unless you are full-blooded Native American, Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Coal-State Senator Calls Out Big Coal for Lies

No, of course it's not Mitch orAynRandPaul. The same week that the Senate slapped down Mitchie-poo's whine to leave Big Coal alooooooooone!, the senior Senator from the only coal state more backward than Kentucky had an attack of reality.

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

Jay Rockefeller deserves major kudos for finally calling out the coal industry for lying to workers and the state that the EPA and environmentalists are costing coal jobs:
    This EPA rule – two decades in the making – also moves utility companies ahead on employing technologies that will help guarantee coal jobs well into the future. Some utilities, including some in West Virginia, already have invested in technology and are ready to comply with the rule.

    But across our state, there also are smaller, older and less efficient coal-fired plants slated for closure, not because of EPA regulations alone, but – as corporate boards decided long ago and companies themselves will tell you – because they are no longer economical as compared to low-emission, cheaper natural gas plants.

    I remain deeply concerned about job losses. And I believe we need not only an immediate plan for job transition opportunities, but also a renewed and collective focus on the future – on the jobs that will come with new manufacturing and next generation technology.

    In West Virginia, we need allies – not adversaries. But coal operators have yet to step up as strong allies and partners ready to lead, innovate and fight for the future.

    Instead of moving the conversation on coal forward, some in the industry have demanded all-or-nothing, time and again, for the ill-sighted purpose of a sound bite or flashy billboard. These efforts make no progress, they don’t pursue attainable policy change, and they certainly don’t create or save jobs.

    Change is upon us – from finite coal reserves and aging power plants, to the rise of natural gas and the very real shift to a lower-carbon economy.

    Denying these factors and insisting that the EPA alone is going to make or break coal is dishonest and futile. Feeding fears with insular views and divergent motivations will leave our communities in the dust.

    West Virginians deserve better.
Damn right they do.
It's still light years away from the whole truth about coal, which is every day we delay abandoning coal for good actually kills jobs - but it's a start. And a shitload more than you'll hear from any state official in Kentucky.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Fast Car"

Uploaded by on Jul 20, 2008
You've got a fast car
I wanna a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Any place is better
Starting from zero, got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
Me, myself, I've got nothing to prove

You've got a fast car
I've got a plan to get us out of here
Been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
Won't have to drive too far
Just cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

See my old man's got a problem
Live with the bottle, that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
His body's too young, to look like his
When mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did

You've got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way

Say remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You've got a a fast car
We go cruising entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
Now I work in the market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a bigger house and live in the suburbs

Say remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speeds so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You've got a fast car
I've got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me'd find it
I got no plans and I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

Say remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speeds so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You've got a fast car
Is it fast enough so you can fly away?
You gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way

A Real Worker vs Parasite Jaime Dimon

An underpaid janitor has the balls to do what our overpaid underworked senators won't: confront congenital thief Jaime fucking Dimon.

david at Crooks and Liars:

As this article points out, Houston has the fastest-growing group of millionaires in the country, and local companies are making obscene profits. Guess who's not making money? That's right, the people who cook and clean up after this gang of heartless bastards like Jamie Dimon. Nice to hear that at least one working person got to confront him yesterday - even if she will probably be fired for it. I hope Stephen Colbert invites her on as a guest:
Earlier today, following JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's testimony in front of the House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Committee regarding his company's recent massive banking loss, Adriana Vasquez, a janitor who cleans the JP Morgan Chase tower in Houston, Texas confronted him with a simple question: "Despite making billions last year, why do you deny the people cleaning your buildings a living wage?"
Dimon evaded Adriana's question but told her to "call his office" to arrange a meeting.

Each night, Vasquez cleans 24 bathrooms across 11 floors in the JP Morgan Chase tower in downtown Houston. "I work hard each and every day scrubbing 24 bathrooms just to support my children, to keep food on the table and a roof over my head – but it still isn't enough," explained Vasquez. "I traveled to Washington, DC to confront Jamie Dimon because it is not acceptable that while he makes billions, he denies the people cleaning his buildings a living wage."
"I want Mr. Dimon to walk a day in my shoes," she says.
In a hearing otherwise focused on 'too big too fail', Rep. Green (D-TX) raised the critical issue of income inequality rippling through communities across the country and secured a commitment with Mr. Dimon to meet with him to discuss the issue. "The average janitor in Houston is making less than the poverty level," Green explained, "I want to meet with you about something I call, 'too small to live off.'"
Janitors in Houston, including Adriana, make just $10,000 annually – some make less – and have been offered only a $.50 raise across the next five years. JP Morgan Chase is a major player in the real estate industry nationwide, including in Houston where more than 3,000 janitors have voted to authorize their bargaining committee to strike.
"My coworkers and I are sick and tired of working hard but not being able to make ends meet. We are uniting to fight for better wages and a better life for our families," Vasquez continued. "We do not deserve to suffer abuse just because we are poor."

The contrast of Jamie Dimon – one the richest men in the United States and the 12th highest paid CEO in the country – and the janitors who clean his building – many make as little as $10,000 a year— poignantly illustrates both what's wrong with the economy and the growing gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us. A Houston janitor would have to work more than 2,500 years in order to earn JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon earned last year.
Click here for the video.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Save Democracy: Repeal Taft-Hartley

Unions haven't gotten soft, gone corrupt, forgotten where the came from or any other corporatist bullshit. Corporate repug attacks kneecapped them 65 years ago at the height of their power, and they've been fighting for bare survival ever since. 

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

On this date in 1947, President Harry S. Truman vetoed the odious Taft-Hartley Act, the most vile piece of labor legislation in American history.

Sponsored by Robert Taft (R-OH) and Fred Hartley (R-NJ), the Taft-Hartley Bill was a direct response to the explosion in strikes immediately after World War II as well as a sign of how mistrusted unions remained in the United States. The mid-1940s saw American labor at the height of its power in American history, even after their greatest successes. Labor had played a key role in electing Democratic politicians for the past 15 years, had helped create a huge swath of the nascent American welfare state, and had forced many of the most recalcitrant corporations to acquiesce to unions in the workplace. And this increasingly powerful labor movement was antsy. Fifteen years of delayed consumer spending came to an end in late 1945 and American labor wanted its share of the pie. Despite a wartime pledge from both the AFL and CIO not to strike, the rank and file, angry that prices were rising during the war while wages were not, had to be wrestled away from strikes throughout the war. Once the war ended, millions of Americans went on strike in the largest walkout wave in American history. Over 5 million Americans went on strike in 1946, perhaps most famously in the Oakland General Strike.

Responding to this strike wave, conservatives introduced over 250 anti-union bills into Congress during 1947. Despite the growing power of the American working class, unions, and especially the CIO, were hated by business and distrusted by regular people in many rural and southern states. As Robert Caro notes in Means of Ascent, both Lyndon Johnson and Coke Stevenson strongly supported Taft-Hartley in the 1948 Senate election in Texas–virtually every southern politician had to in order to survive. Labor unions were seen as suspicious not only because of traditions of American individualism that may be myths but are myths people believe in, but because they were concentrated on the coasts and in the Upper Midwest, because people with weird foreign names were their members, and because some had ties to communism.

The Taft-Hartley Act banned most of the actions labor used in the 1930s and mid 40s to force companies to recognize unions and to give working people a voice in American life, including wildcat strikes, secondary picketing, mass boycotts, the closed shop, and union donations to federal political campaigns. States were allowed to pass right-to-work laws that would force unions to represent people in the workplace who did not pay dues. It also expanded the ability of the government to get injunctions to end strikes if the strike impacted national health and safety, which the courts have defined quite broadly over the past 65 years. It allowed companies to terminate anyone in a supervisory position who did not follow the company line on labor issues. Finally, it required union leaders to pledge they were not members of the communist party, which for some CIO unions was a major blow.

Harry Truman, fighting for his political life after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1946, could have decided he needed to prove his conservative credentials and sign the bill. Instead, Truman took the brave stand and vetoed this odious piece of legislation. Truman was willing to support some mild curbs on union activity. But this went way too far. From Truman’s veto message:

The bill is deliberately designed to weaken labor unions. When the sponsors of the bill claim that by weakening unions, they are giving rights back to individual workingmen, they ignore the basic reason why unions are important in our democracy. Unions exist so that laboring men can bargain with their employers on a basis of equality. Because of unions, the living standards of our working people have increased steadily until they are today the highest in the world.

A bill which would weaken unions would undermine our national policy of collective bargaining. The Taft-Hartley bill would do just that. It would take us back in the direction of the old evils of individual bargaining. It would take the bargaining power away from the workers and give more power to management.

This bill would even take away from our workingmen some bargaining fights which they enjoyed before the Wagner Act was passed 12 years ago.

If we weaken our system of collective bargaining, we weaken the position of every workingman in the country.

This bill would again expose workers to the abuses of labor injunctions. It would make unions liable for damage suits for actions which have long been considered lawful.

This bill would treat all unions alike. Unions which have fine records, with long years of peaceful relations with management, would be hurt by this bill just as much as the few troublemakers.

The country needs legislation which will get rid of abuses. We do not need—and we do not want—legislation which will take fundamental rights away from our working people.
And the evil of Taft-Hartley was defeated.

Except that Congress overrode Truman’s veto three days later by the wide margin of 68-25. Thus began the decline of the American working class.

The AFL and CIO went to the mat for Truman after this; without their help he would have lost in 1948.

Labor has tried ever since to repeal the worst parts of Taft-Hartley, but despise some hope during both the Carter and Clinton Administrations, they have never succeeded. 
Short of overturning Citizens United, the best thing we could do to save democracy in this country is repeal Taft-Hartley.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Day They Closed the Factory Down"

Uploaded by SongsofHarry on Jul 3, 2011

There's a short intro to this song at the end of copper I'll probably add to this later - "This is really, actually a song about about a one-horse town when the one horse decides to up and leave". "She said, "I watch him walk down Main Street A sweet one man parade. He'd tip his hat and just like that another score he'd made I'd watch the girls all watch him; moths drawn to the flame. The money showed, the laughter flowed from the way he played the game. He played the game. "Some said he was a rambler, some said he was a rake . Some said he was a gambler, some said he was a fake. But I knew him like no one else, a gentleman was he. His days belonged to himself, his nights belonged to me. Belonged to me. "And they're talkin' in the town square, In the taverns and the shops I hear them talkin' everywhere. Their talkin' never stops. But all their words of wisdom won't make you go away. The day they closed the factory down they had nothing, Nothing left to say. She said, "I take care of my momma now, since my father died. I'm raising baby brother, too, the way my father tried. His thirty years in the factory ended in that furnace blast. But they settled up for ten bucks a week and the bitterness is past, It did not last. "So they're moving somewhere else now With their cloths and fabric press. They found themselves another town where they'll make shirts for less. And that is why he said last night he won't watch the old town die. But I would not take what he tried to leave, when he told me 'Good bye' Ah, it's good bye "And they're talkin' in the town square, In the taverns and the shops. I hear them talkin' everywhere. Their talkin' never stops. But all their words of wisdom won't make you go away. The day they closed the factory down they had nothing, Nothing left to say" "So they're talkin' of the changes the closing brings about. Talkin' of the hard times and the young folks moving out. Yes, they're talking as if talking can make everything all right. But all the talking ever done won't bring him back tonight. Ah, tonight. And they're talkin' talkin' talkin' talkin' Talkin' in the shops I hear them talkin' everywhere. Their talkin' never stops. But all their words of wisdom won't make you go away. The day they closed the factory down they had nothing Nothing left to say." "

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Crime to be Broke in America"

Uploaded by SuperLuchadore on Jul 4, 2010

Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Is Exactly What We Have

Because it's not about global warming or pretty forest streams; it's about an unnecessary industrial practice that destroys whole communities. James Carroll at the Courier:

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-3rd District, and a dozen other House Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday that would impose a moratorium on new or expanded mountaintop mining in Kentucky and other Appalachian states. “The Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act will provide the families in these communities the answers and the protection they deserve,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who is the chief sponsor of the bill with Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. Yarmuth is the only Kentucky lawmaker co-sponsoring the bill. He said mountaintop mining “destroys entire ecosystems, contaminates the water supply in mining communities, and makes people sick.” “In addition, it has cost Kentucky more than half of its mining jobs,” the Louisville congressman said. “If it takes a government health study to finally end this destructive practice, I support it.” The legislation would put a hold on new or expanded mountaintop-removal mining operations until scientific research identifies the potential health risks from such mining.
Find out more about mountaintop removal mining and the efforts in Kentucky to stop it here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"A Gentle Man Who Never Claimed to be a Saint"

Beautiful tribute from John Fugelsang on The War Room:

How to Lose Re-election, Cowardly DINO Edition

I'm trying to list all the congressional repugs so terrible that I would not vote for them over despicable piece-of-shit DINO Joe Manchin of West Virginia. There aren't that many, and Evan McMorris-Santoro at TPM explains why:

Three of the biggest names in West Virginia Democratic politics will skip the Democratic National Convention this summer, once again highlighting President Obama’s rocky relationship with the state’s electorate.

But if Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick Rahall — all Democrats — thought pulling out of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this September would earn them the respect of Republicans, they’re wrong.

Tomblin made it clear the decision was an Obama snub. Like Manchin, he’s refused to say whether he’s voting for Obama this November, and has publicly distanced himself from the president more than once.


Machin didn’t mention the president in his statement announcing he won’t attend the convention.

“I intend to spend this fall focused on the people of West Virginia, whether that’s representing them in my official U.S. Senate duties or here at home, where I can hear about their concerns and ideas to solve the problems of this great nation,” he said. “I will remain focused on bringing people together for the next generation, not the next election.”

Manchin and Tomblin face re-election fights in the fall, as does Rahall.


The state Republican Party told TPM the trio’s decision to skip the convection won’t earn any toned-down treatment from the GOP.

“Absolutely not,” said West Virginia GOP Executive Director Chad Holland.

“The fact that they’re running and hiding from the Democrat convention when everybody knows that the only reason they’re doing it is so they don’t have to answer the question yet of who they support for president shows a profound lack of leadership,” he said. “West Virginia has serious problems and it needs serious men and women to resolve these problems. And if you can’t step up and say you support for president, I don’t know how we can trust you to solve the problems facing fellow West Virginians.”

Do Manchin and the others think voters won't notice they're Democrats if they don't attend the convention?

So, these three are not just racist, cowardly, traitorous, lying motherfuckers, they're bone stooopit.

And come November, they'll be losers, too.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Coming of the Roads"

Uploaded by Johnson28316 on Feb 21, 2012

Mitch: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Because repugs can't ever win a straight-up election, they have to cheat. Or at least rig the rules.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

For decades, when Republicans made the case against campaign-finance reform, they invariably touted disclosure as the panacea that made restrictions unnecessary. As Fred Hiatt explained, "Republicans always dangled this apple in the most alluring way. Political money will find a path, they would insist. Give up! Give in! We will post every donation on the Web, instantly! We will give you transparency! Sunshine! Accountability! What could be more democratic?"

Except, of course, that the right never really meant it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a staunch opponent of campaign-finance reform, spoke at the American Enterprise Institute the other day and condemned the Obama administration's efforts to "silence" political speech.

"It is critically important for all conservatives -- and indeed all Americans -- to stand up and unite in defense of the freedom to organize around the causes we believe in, and against any effort that would constrain our ability to do so," McConnell told AEI.

And what are the "efforts" that have McConnell so outraged? The senator "cited a Democratic proposal to require corporations and unions to disclose their spending on political advertising."

Yes, in Mitch McConnell's mind, the DISCLOSE Act is "nothing less than an effort by the government itself to expose its critics to harassment and intimidation, either by government authorities or through third-party allies."

As far as the Senate Minority Leader is concerned, there's nothing wrong with wealthy interests buying American elections -- the real scandal is a proposal to let American voters know who's doing the buying.

In reality, the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections) is a fairly modest proposal. In the wake of the Citizens United ruling, Democrats thought it made sense to require corporations, unions, and other interest groups that pay for campaign ads to identify themselves, allowing the public to know who's saying what.

It wasn't even a partisan initiative, at least not completely -- in the House, the proposal even had a Republican co-sponsor.

It would have become law in 2010 were it not for a Republican filibuster. When the bill reached the floor, it had 59 supporters and 39 opponents, which in the broken Senate, means the legislation failed. Proponents only needed one GOP vote, but every Republican in the chamber, including alleged "moderates" like Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) refused to give the bill an up-or-down vote.

But McConnell is still afraid the bill might make a comeback, and has taken a firm stand in support of front groups that keep donations secret. This, as far as the Minority Leader is concerned, makes him a champion of the First Amendment.

Because nothing says "freedom" like secret billionaires quietly buying elections out of public view.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Big Yellow Taxi"

Uploaded by thesixtiesarchive on Sep 24, 2010

Mitchell got the idea for the song during a visit to Hawaii. She looked out of her hotel window at the spectacular Pacific mountain scenery, and then down to a parking lot.

Joni said this about writing the song to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 1970s:

" I wrote 'Big Yellow Taxi' on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart... this blight on paradise. That's when I sat down and wrote the song. "

The song is known for its environmental statement (from the lyrics "Paved paradise to put up a parking lot", "Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now") and sentimental sound. The line, "Took all the trees, put 'em in a tree museum/And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em" refers to Foster Botanical Garden in downtown Honolulu, which is a living museum of tropical plants, some rare and endangered.

In the song's final verse, the political gives way to the personal. Mitchell recounts the departure of her "old man" in the titular "big yellow taxi", referring to the old Metro Toronto Police patrol cars that until 1986 were painted yellow. In many covers the departed one may be interpreted as variously a boyfriend, a husband, or a father. The literal interpretation is that he is walking out on the singer by taking a taxi; otherwise it is assumed he is being taken away by the authorities.

Unions Winning Votes on the Ground

Unions aren't dying; they're getting murdered. This is how.

American Airlines lobbied for a law change to fight unionization. Under the old law, if 35% of workers signed a union card, then a vote had to be held to determine if the workers wanted to form a collective bargaining unit. American Airlines got that raised to 50% of workers. Communications Workers of America claims they got the 35% of America Airlines’ passenger service employees signed up before the law was changed and that the law wasn’t retroactive anyway. Stay tuned.

I think the passenger service reps are the only employees at American who are not yet represented. Wouldn't more content counter staff makes life more pleasant for all of us?

Meanwhile ...

”Registered nurses at Research Medical Center [of Kansas City] have voted in favor of union representation [260-92].”

Both via Firedoglake.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

All-American Poverty

Via Scott Lemiuex at Lawyers, Guns and Money, the kind of journalism you don't get any more from the media giants.

Monica Potts at the American Prospect:

Going to college was an accident of timing. The previous spring, SourceCorp, the data-entry company where Sue worked, had closed, which had come as a shock. The company had received a five-year contract from the federal government, but a year and a half into it, the company shut down its Booneville office. “It’s like these data-entry companies either work you to death or lay you off,” Sue told her husband, J.C. Since the age of 15, Sue had used her only marketable skill—typing fast—to get minimum-wage jobs at data-entry companies. They were the only ones around. While her two children, Kody and Ciara, were in elementary school, she often worked the second shift to earn night pay. For most of their adult lives, the Christians have made less than $22,113 a year, the poverty line for a family of four. This makes them like a lot of families in Owsley County, where 40 percent of the population lives in poverty and 30 percent lives just above it. More families rely on food stamps than make the national median household income of $49,445.


While most of Appalachia is poor, Southeast Kentucky, where the mountains start turning into hills, is the worst off. There was never enough coal for deep mining that would at least provide well-paying jobs. The ground, mostly black slate, is too rocky for farming, though some families grew tobacco on a few flat bottomland pastures until the government bought them out in the 1990s. Five of the poorest counties in the United States—Owsley, Clay, Lee, Knox, and Wolfe—touch here, huddled along a swath of wilderness, the Daniel Boone National Forest, that divides them from the rest of the state. Owsley County does the rest of these small, poor counties the favor of being a little bit smaller and a little bit poorer. Less than 200 square miles, slightly bigger than the city of New Orleans, it’s shaped like a bowl with hills on the edges and the low, slow south fork of the Kentucky River cutting through. It has the distinction of being the poorest county in the United States with a majority-white population.

Kentucky began calling Owsley County a “pauper county” as far back as the 1890s, because it took more state tax revenue than it contributed. Since the federal government began tracking poverty rates in 1959, Owsley has ranked as one of the nation’s poorest counties. By the 1960s, when much of the United States had moved into prosperity, Southern Appalachia’s shoeless children, living in mountain shacks without electricity or plumbing, seemed like relics—trapped in a sticky poverty that modernity had yet to solve. The people of Owsley County translated all the80�we’re getting helped to death.” Government benefits, from welfare to Social Security to the Earned Income Tax Credit, account for 53 percent of all the county’s income.

For many years, the way to be successful in Owsley County was to leave—the students who could make it to college stayed away. The population, which in 2010 was 4,755, started to fall seven decades ago. There were few opportunities to keep young people in Owsley County, and the first thing that federal anti-poverty programs did was connect the poor here to opportunities elsewhere. What was good for individuals drained the community as a whole. About 40 miles in any direction there’s a bigger town with a Walmart and enough jobs for Owsley County’s young to go make their living.

Read the whole thing:

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Songs to Figh the Plutocracy By: "Aragon Mill"

Uploaded by Bigglers789 on Aug 9, 2009

Si has worked for 44 years as a civil rights, labor and community organizer and musician. His songs of family, community, work and freedom such as Aragon Mill, Gone, Gonna Rise Again and Wild Rose of the Mountain have been recorded by over 100 artists. Si has released 15 albums of his original songs, plus a collection of traditional labor, civil rights and women's songs with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp. Grassroots Leadership, where Si has served as Executive Director for 30 years, has taken on a national Campaign to End Immigrant Family Detention, the policy made infamous at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. Hutto is a former medium-security prison operated by private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America. Since opening in 2006, the facility has held immigrant children and their families from more than 40 countries and drawn international condemnation.

Beshear Goes Pro-Obama

He was talking to Obama partisan Jennifer Granholm and he's term-limited, so it's no longer a risk anyway, but still - he finally admitted President Obama is good for Kentucky.

Prison for Atheist Posting

Find a repug - just one - who thinks this is something America should avoid doing.

PZ Myers:

Atheist Alliance International is condemning the jail sentence for Alexander Aan. Aan is the Indonesian man who wrote “god does not exist” on a facebook page, and has now been sentenced to 2½ years in prison for blasphemy. I’m mentally adding up the number of years I’d get for Pharyngula…I’m just relieved I’m not posting from Indonesia.

The whole ruling is confused and inconsistent, but that’s what religion does to you. Here’s an interview with a newspaper editor that’s also confusing: he can’t come out and say that there’s a problem with this decision, and I can’t tell whether it’s because he agrees with it or he’s afraid to say. The comment about the problem being that they are extending tolerance to intolerant groups (the Muslims) suggests that maybe he is seeing the problem, but is being cautious in expressing it.

The Indonesian constitution mandates freedom of religion, but requires everyone to have a religion. Right. They have a little discussion about Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant place…I’m sorry, I don’t see it. If they ever had such a reputation, it’s gone now.

Note that the crime here is not worshipping the wrong invisible sky wizard; it's denying the existence of any sky wizard. This man is going to prison for expressing facts and rational thinking. And it's happening in a pluralistic, modern nation that prides itself on "religious freedom."

Because to the freakazoids, there is no such thing as the freedom to not be religious.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Another Day in Paradise"

Uploaded by philcollins on May 10, 2010

"What's Holding Us Back is a Stalemate in Washington"

No, Mr. President: it's not a "stalemate" and you know it. Democrats are proposing and in the Senate passing desperately-needed legislation. It's the repugs who are preventing any action to save the economy.

Full transcript here.

"Poor confused military contractors"

Did you see the nation's top military office in front of Congress this week spouting nonsense about how cutting defense spending would destroy the country? Yeah, here's what's really going on:


And they call the unions thuggish. Get a load of this:

Facing economic uncertainty, defense contractors are plotting to spur Congress to nix the automatic budget cuts set to begin next year.

The plan? Threaten to send out layoff notices — hundreds of thousands of them, right before Election Day.

Congress, industry leaders contend, has left them few options. Federal law, they say, requires employers to give notice of 60 days to workers facing layoffs.


“I’ve been told by some of our major employers that layoff notices are going to come before the election,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), a member of the Armed Services Committee and a vocal critic of the automatic cuts. “It’s dangerous and irresponsible for Congress to play with this.”

“Negotiations in Congress can’t wait for the lame-duck session because there’s going to be a devastating impact to our defense industrial base before then,” she told POLITICO.

Right. It's dangerous and irresponsible for the congress to play with this. But playing chicken with the debt ceiling, domestic programs and massive tax cuts every few months.

“Kicking the can has become such an acceptable policy that it wouldn’t surprise anybody,” he said.

Every day that goes by without a Grand Bargain struck by foolish politicians and their billionaire owners is a good day for America. It would be a better day for America if we could get some relief for homeowners and a real fiscal stimulus but I'm trying to stay in the real world here. The best we can hope for is that the partisan desire of the GOP to destroy their enemies will allow us to live to fight another day. It ain't much.

Digby follows up:

I wrote earlier about how the MIC is threatening to destroy the country if the congress follows through on its earlier deal to cut defense. The Senators are all in a dither because the economy will be destroyed if the MIC has to lay off all those workers.(And here I thought the government couldn't create jobs ...)

Guess what? Aside from the issue of all the useless killing machines they produce, defense contracts are the costliest way to create jobs. The PERI institue of UMass issued a report showing that for every $1 billion spent by the Pentagon, roughly 11k jobs are created while that same money on domestic priorities (or even tax cuts) would create far more jobs:

Also too, they are making record profits at the moment and Lockheed's CEO took home $25.4 million (twice what Goldman's CEO made) in 2011. Maybe they could hold off on the panic for just a little while.