Thursday, January 31, 2013

Liberal, Teabaggers and Mitchiepoo Unite on Industrial Hemp

Now that's a trio you couldn't get to agree on lunch, but they're together on the one thing that can save Kentucky's economy from Death by Coal.
From the Kentucky Department of Agriculture:

Today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement of support for Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and the effort to re-introduce industrial hemp into Kentucky agriculture. Leader McConnell’s office issued the following statement:

“After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. Commissioner Comer has assured me that his office is committed to pursuing industrialized hemp production in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real, and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times, that sounds like a good thing to me.”

Comer expressed enormous gratitude for McConnell’s support:

“When the most powerful Republican in the country calls to discuss your issue, that’s a good day on the job,” Comer said. “Leader McConnell’s support adds immeasurable strength to our efforts to bring good jobs to Kentucky.”

In unprecedented bi-partisan cooperation, U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie are confirmed to testify alongside U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner Comer in support of Senate Bill 50, state Senator Paul Hornback’s legislation on industrial hemp.

“Our federal delegation is showing tremendous leadership,” Comer said. “They recognize this is not a partisan issue. It’s about jobs. And we will continue to push forward to make sure Kentucky is first in line for them.”

Adding to this momentum, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce today voted unanimously to support SB 50 after hearing arguments on its behalf from state Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer and Senator Hornback. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is also expected to pass a resolution endorsing the industrial hemp initiative today.

SB 50 will be heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Feb. 11, 2013 at 11 a.m. EST.
Call or email your Kentucky legislator to support SB 50.

Poll: Kentuckians Are Not Guntards

That sound you hear, liberals, is opportunity knocking. A door momentarily open to persuasion.

Joseph Gerth at the Courier:

A majority of Kentuckians support gun-control measures proposed by President Barack Obama — even though they believe the right to own firearms is more important than the need to control them, according to the Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

The poll of 700 Kentucky residents, conducted by SurveyUSA, found that 56 percent favor stricter gun-control laws, but 65 percent said they believe guns protect law-abiding citizens more than they make society more dangerous.

Poll respondents also said they favor several specific gun-control measures, including background checks, registration and limits on the amount of ammunition that can be purchased at one time.
Yes, two-thirds still erroneously think guns are more protective than dangerous, but that's mostly ignorance. That 56 percent favoring gun control will listen to the facts. So let's get out there with some.

How Raising Sales Taxes Will Kill the Economy

Right now, Kentucky legislators from both parties are huddling to figure out how they can use the Governor Steve "Cowardly Waste of Oxygen" Beshear's bullshit "tax reform" commission's recommendations to eliminate taxes on their rich individual and corporate campaign contributors and raise taxes on the poor and working class. 
I wish it were just the repugs.
Stymied at the national level, Republicans have spent the past couple of years focusing a lot of their energy at the state level. And they've had considerable success. Hundreds of abortion restrictions have been passed. Voter ID laws were enacted all over the country. Just recently half a dozen Republican-controlled states have started efforts to game the Electoral College in preparation for the 2016 election.
So what's next? Apparently state sales taxes. CBPP's Elizabeth McNichol reports:
In an alarming trend, governors in Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Carolina have proposed eliminating their state’s personal and corporate income taxes and raising the sales tax to offset the lost revenue....Proponents claim that eliminating income taxes and expanding the sales tax would make tax systems simpler, fairer, and more business-friendly, with no net revenue loss. In reality, they would tilt state taxes against middle- and lower-income households and likely undercut the state’s ability to maintain public services. Specifically they would:
  • Raise taxes on the middle class.
  • Require huge sales tax hikes.
  • Levy those new, higher rates on a much larger number of transactions.
  • Create an unsustainable spiral of rising rates and widening exemptions.
  • Fail to boost state economies.
  • Make state revenues much less stable.

There's more detail at the link. But the bottom line is pretty simple: This is a transparent effort to reduce taxes on the rich and increase taxes on the poor and the middle class. No matter how flowery their speech, Republicans remain hellbent on cutting taxes on the rich no matter what the consequences. Given how well the rich have done recently and how poorly the middle class is doing, this is nothing less than jaw dropping.
Travis Waldron at Think Progress:
The poorest Americans are subject to a tax rate at the state and local level that is twice as high as the tax rate paid by the wealthiest earners thanks to “fundamentally unfair” state tax laws, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Middle-class taxpayers also pay higher effective rates than the wealthy.
Believe it or not, Kentucky is currently not among the ten worst states for soaking the poor to benefit the rich. But by the time the General Assembly adjourns in March, the Commonwealth is likely to join serfs-n-lords havens like Louisiana.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Will Anyone Ask Hagel About This?

Tomorrow the Senate will hold its confirmation hearing on Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense.

I'm sure someone will ask him how he would deal with the end of the military ban on women in combat.

But will anyone ask him what he would do about this?

The trailer up top is for Kirby Dick's documentary The Invisible War, about the military rapes McKeon is covering up and which has been nominated for an Academy Award this year. The film features one of Congress' most outspoken proponents of the rights of the victims of this tragedy, Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Unlike McKeon's shady hearings next week, the documentary includes interviews with numerous survivors of sexual assault. A member of McKeon's Armed Services Committee and an effective thorn in his side, Pingree has urged her colleagues-- and her constituents-- to watch the film. "This nomination," she said, "is an honor to the people who made the movie, and that includes the incredible brave veterans who told their stories on camera. It's only because people like them have had the courage to talk about what happened to them that the scandal of sexual assault in the military has been brought to light." McKeon, however, is still trying to shut them up.
All due respect to Hagel's experience as an enlisted man in combat, the issues facing today's military are simply beyond the ken of white straight men of his generation.

Obama missed a huge opportunity by not nominating Michele Flournoy for Secretary of Defense.

Fourth District's Teabagger Tom Votes to Crash Economy

I hope all you Democrats who sat at home in November instead of stopping this conservatard from representing us in Congress are proud of yourselves.

From Votenote:

Short-Term Suspension of Debt Limit – Final Passage - Vote Passed (285-144, 3 Not Voting)

The House temporarily defused a looming crisis over the debt limit last by passing a bill that, rather than raising the limit – that is, setting a new cap on the federal government’s borrowing authority – actually suspends it – meaning there technically is no limit – until May 19, at which point the limit would be reset at a new, higher level, to reflect government borrowing activity in the interim period. In addition, the bill would institute an enforcement mechanism for each house of Congress to pass a FY 2014 budget resolution. Beginning April 15, if a chamber has not passed a budget, that chamber’s members would not receive their paychecks. This would carry on until the earlier of passage of a budget or the last day of the 113th Congress. Though House Democrats mostly decried the bill as a gimmick, President Obama has stated he will sign the bill if it reaches him.

Rep. Thomas Massie voted NO......send

Drug War Hysterics Attack Hemp

Of course they're terrified; any step toward rational policies regarding harmless agricultural products threatens their jobs.

Janet Patton at the Herald:

Two law enforcement groups on Monday criticized efforts to revive hemp production in Kentucky as economically unsound.

In a joint news release, the Kentucky Narcotic Officers' Association and Operation UNITE said they opposed Senate Bill 50 and House Bill 33, both of which would license farmers to grow industrial hemp.

"All the rhetoric you're hearing from the small group of proponents seeking to reintroduce hemp cultivation is based on desired outcomes, not reality," said Dan Smoot, vice president of Operation UNITE, an anti-drug organization covering 32 counties in southern and Eastern Kentucky. Its name is an acronym for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has been lobbying for SB 50, sponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Paul Hornback. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, will testify.

In a statement, Comer said he was very concerned about the law enforcement groups' stance.

Comer said the law enforcement officials "stepped way out of their lane" by attacking the economics of hemp.

Read more here:

The Herald, to its everlasting shame, has instituted a paywall on most articles.  As a lifelong subscriber, I have full access but of course most blog readers don't.  I will therefore paste as much of paywall articles as can be justified by fair use, and hope the vast drop in website visits caused by the paywall causes the Herald to come to its senses. Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Taking Mooching to a New Level

When these motherfuckers bitch and moan about people using government services they don't pay for, do they ever look in the mirror?

Rick Perlstein in The Nation:

Check out what the loopy Ayn Randroids are up to now. In long-suffering Detroit, a libertarian real estate developer wants to buy a civic crown jewel, Belle Isle, the 982 acre park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead—think the Motor City's Central Park—and turn it into an independent nation, selling citizenships at $300,000 per. Not, mind you, out of any mercenary motives, says would-be founder Rodney Lockwood—but just "to provide an economic and social laboratory for a society which effectively addresses some of the most important problems of American, and the western world." (Sic.)


Never let it be said Rod Lockwood (Perfect pornstar name? You be the judge) hasn't thought this thing through. The plan is foolproof: "Belle Isle is sold by the City of Detroit to a group of investors for $1 billion. The island is then developed into a city-state of 35,000 people, with its own laws, customs and currency, under United States supervision as a Commonwealth." Relations with neighboring, impoverished Detroit will be naught but copacetic, and not exploitative at all: "Plants will be built across the Detroit River....with the engineering and management functions on Belle Isle. Companies from all over the world will locate on Belle Isle, bringing in massive amounts of capital and GDP." (Because, you know, tax-dodging international financiers of the sort a scheme like this attracts are just desperate to open and operate factories.) Government will be limited to ten percent or less of GDP, "by constitutional dictate. The social safety net is operated charities, which are highly encouraged and supported by the government."
Let's see how many essential public services this asshole expects the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and U.S. governments to supply tax-free:
Drinking water: comes from the city of Detroit. I think $5,000 per faucet and toilet per year ought to cover it. Plus the same per-gallon charge Detroit residents pay.
Wastewater: goes to the city of Detroit. Don't even THINK about dumping it in the river, unless you plan to purchase Lake Huron. $10,000 per year per toilet and drain - treating wastewater is way more expensive than treating drinking water.
Trash: No, you can't burn it, unless you pay huge fines for pollution or build state-of-the-art and Michigan-regulated incinerators. Weekly trash pickup and removal to the mainland: $10,000 per cubic yard per year.
Transportation: for use of public waters, roads, bridges and airspace you do not own nor pay taxes to maintain the safety of, $10,000 for each exit from and return to Belle Isle.
Public safety: Your private security service is going to be understaffed and underpaid, so they won't be able to afford to live there, so you're going to need city and state firefighters and law enforcement.  $10,000 per person-hour of city or state employee time.
I'm sure there's lots more I haven't thought of, so I strongly encourage the City of Detroit, State of Michigan, and U.S. government to invoke the power of the free market to come up with monster charges for everything under the sun.
Pay up, motherfuckers.

Time's a Wastin', Ashley: Declare Now

Joseph Gerth at the Courier:

With his re-election bid just a year away, those opposed to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell outnumber his supporters 2-1 among Kentucky voters, according to the latest Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

In the poll of 609 registered voters, 34 percent said they plan to vote against McConnell — while just 17 percent say they will vote to give him six more years. Forty-four percent said they will wait to see who is running against him before deciding, and 6 percent said they are not sure.

This sign is posted just outside Frankfort on Versailles Road, the main drag into the state capitol.  Driving into or out of Frankfort, you can't miss it.


This is the same property on which, throughout the Iraq clusterfuck, the owner posted in large wooden figures the total number of American casualties.  This person is not fucking around.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pension Panic Just Another Attack on Workers

There are at least seven separate bills in the Kentucky General Assembly that are ostensiblly aimed at "fising" Kentucky's supposed public pension "crisis."

Every single fucking one of them hands more tax dollars to Wall Street criminals at the expense of already-exploited workers.

From Firedoglake:

It’s a common refrain in local papers: State faces pension funding crisis! Retiree benefits out of control! Public pensions bog down taxpayers! Pension costs seem to loom over so many state and local budget battles like a sinister sword of Damocles, a dark reminder of Big Government’s tyrannical profligacy.

Should we panic? Well, according to a new report by the Pew Center on the States, 61 cities face a collective fiscal retirement burden of more than $210 billion, in part because consistent underfunding of benefits leaves yawning gaps in long-term cost projections. The report surveyed all U.S. cities with populations over 500,000, along with the most populous city in each state. Some cities are doing better than others in maintaining funds, but gaps persist, according to Pew’s estimates for fiscal years 2007-2010, especially in municipalities where local governments have lacked the “fiscal discipline” to keep up pension fund contributions—a situation exacerbated by the Great Recession.

But different political actors have different motives for expressing alarm over pension gaps. In some cases, dubiously calculated figures have inflated public concern.

Sometimes, politicians frame cost-cutting proposals as if “generous” benefits themselves are the problem, as opposed to officials failing to uphold the commitments they’ve made to civil servants.
 Read the whole thing.  And don't fall for the lies.

Killing the Post Office for Profit

Congress is doing to the U.S. Postal Service is exactly what Mitt RMoney did to all those companies he destroyed: strip their assets, load them up with debt, then fire all the employees and sell the empty husk to another vulture to exploit.

Read the transcript here.

Does your mail arrive six days a week despite how far off the beaten path you may live? Can you send a letter five thousand miles for less than fifty cents? How long do you think that will last when the first priority is profit, not delivery?

Privatizing public services always - always - has the same result: plunging quality of service at skyrocketing cost.

What KY Democrats Can Learn from Texas

It's not rocket science, but it's what the Kentucky Democratic Party refuses to do. Note it starts with a party chair who's an actual Democrat and grows though the base, not consultants.

Juanita Jean:

The good news is that this influx of money into Texas, unlike the last time this happened ten years ago, will not be consultant driven.  It will not end up in the pockets of same-ole, same-ole consultants who pocketed millions of dollars with diddle squat to show for it.  This influx will be used for a ground game.

In the past, Texas Democrats have not been able to turn out their base because they never knew where the base was.  And even when they accidentally stumbled across it, they had no idea how to get it to vote.

Now we have a new chairman, a new staff, and real, live, actual plans from the newly empowered State Democratic Executive Committee to make those plans happen.  This Party is no longer run by 5 guys in Austin.  This Party is run by the people elected to run it.

A big ole thank you to Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa for trusting in the elected Executive Committee and empowering Texas Democrats to be a part of turning Texas blue.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Unique Slavery Exhibit Coming to Louisville Museum

I've never been to the Frazier History Museum, but I'm going to see this.

From the Courier:

The Frazier History Museum is opening an exhibit Feb. 2 on slavery that the museum is promoting as “one of the most powerful and important exhibitions it has ever displayed.”

Titled “Spirits of the Passage: the Story of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” the exhibit will explore the power of the human spirit through a display of nearly 150 historical objects covering more than 350 years.

The 4,000-square-foot exhibit will run through June 16, or the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. (sic)

The museum, the beneficiary of a recent exhibit on Princess Diana that drew record crowds, said the slavery display will be the first exhibition of its kind to examine the entire history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade -- from the 16th through the 19th centuries, while also presenting up-to-date research to the public.

The exhibit will feature the latest marine archaeological discoveries, new research on key African societies and an exploration of the slave trade’s modern day legacies, a Frazier news release said.

Produced by the Frazier Museum in partnership with the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Fla., “Spirits of the Passage” allows guests to see authentic artifacts from the wreck of an actual slave ship. That includes restraints, tools, plates and trade goods, as well as dozens of other objects from West African societies that show the uniqueness of the individual cultures they represent, the release said.

Unions Grow Democracy - But Only the Democratic Ones

Union density in the private sector is now below seven percent. Wonder why democracy seems thin on the ground these days? The decline of unionism is a big part of it. 

Alan Grayson by email blast:

When I was elected to Congress in 2008, I asked to join the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Why? Because I was a government employee. The AFGE negotiates benefits for government employees, including me. If I were going to benefit from that, I felt that I should pay my dues. I'm not the "free rider" type.

I was told that this was an unusual request. In fact, no one could remember any Member of Congress making that request before. That didn't bother me in the least. I joined the AFGE, and paid my dues.

There is another, deeper reason why I wanted to join the union: I don't see a lot of other organizations fighting for the common good.

After I was elected again in November, I was inundated with correspondence from all sorts of groups who wanted me to do something for them. Not for us. For them. Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme. Now, to be fair, some of these requests were for worthwhile causes. More were not. Either way, it was "gimme."

With one exception.

Here is a letter that I received from Joseph Hansen, the President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):

Congratulations on your election to the 113th Congress.

The American people spoke loud and clear on Election Day.

They want a Congress that works for all Americans, not just a wealthy few.

They want a Congress that fights for Main Street, not Wall Street.

They want a Congress that helps create good-paying jobs that can support a family.

They want a Congress that balances the budget responsibly, by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share while protecting programs like Social Security and Medicare.

They want a Congress that protects the rights of workers, women, and minorities.

Most of all, they want a Congress that works with President Obama to give more families access to the American Dream.

I look forward to working with you toward that end.

Sincerely, Joseph T. Hansen.

Amen to that, brother. Yes, President Hansen, I look forward to working with you toward that end.

You see what's missing from this UFCW letter? Gimme, gimme, gimme.

On the letterhead of the UFCW's stationery is the motto, "A VOICE for working America." That's something that I would be proud to have on my stationery, too.

This is a time of hyper-partisan warfare, when selfishness parades itself as a virtue. But amidst all that smoke there are still some of us - the UFCW, me - who can discern the bare outlines of something called "the common good." The common good -- that's our flag. And that's why unions are different.
But not all unions are equally democratic or equally effective.

Eric Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money:
Alec MacGillis’ profile of the recently deceased union activist Jerry Tucker has led to a lot of discussion in labor circles over the last week. Tucker was an activist for a different kind of union, one that eschewed the board room and the lawyers for direct action, worker empowerment, and union democracy. In other words, MacGillis wonders if Tucker is “The Man Who Could Have Saved Organized Labor.”

Tucker himself was quite an amazing individual. A committed anti-racist, Tucker led what was seen as an impossible but successful campaign to defeat a right to work law in Missouri in 1978. He promoted work-to-rule tactics, which are ways workers can slow down production or otherwise drive employers crazy without breaking the contract or the law. He won struggle after struggle, becoming a hero for those wanting a rejuvenated and active labor movement. For all of this, Tucker was loathed by many leaders of the United Auto Workers, his home union, because work-to-rule and direct democracy challenged bureaucratic union structures and the AFL-CIO’s preferred strategy of working out issues with lawyers in Washington and the state capitals.

As MacGillis states, what Tucker recognized is that the corporation is always the enemy of the worker. When union leadership wanted to be chummy with politicians and corporate bosses, Tucker understood that the only real bulwark for long-term union success was the kind of mass mobilization and individual empowerment for the collective good that spawned the great period of American unionization in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

That lesson is just as strong today. Union executives, even of so-called progressive and organizing-centric unions like SEIU, are as wary of grassroots organizing and union democracy as they were in the George Meany and Lane Kirkland eras. It’s hardly surprising that the big union stories of 2012 have followed a track of success for grassroots movements and failure for institutionalized structures. The Chicago Teachers Union was the big win last year precisely because of its extremely democratic nature. The Madison protests showed the power of militant grassroots protests. The decision to channel those protests into the recall Scott Walker campaign was a giant mistake, especially when the Democratic candidate to replace him wasn’t even strongly pro-union. Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO found itself completely taken aback by the Michigan right to work law and from what I can tell, nothing on the ground is happening there to challenge this.
In short, for American labor to revive itself, we need more Jerry Tuckers and less Andy Sterns.

You Don't Need Ashley Furniture, Either

It is so very helpful of freakazoid, Reichwing motherfuckers to publicly expose themselves so we know who they are and can avoid them like the plague.

Well, if the President is serious about his commitment to equality, as he mentioned in his inaugural address (“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law“), he may want to take a look at that non-discrimination executive order again. After all, Ashley Furniture is a federal contractor and would have to stop this behavior right quick if he signed it.

Isabel Perez is suing the Ashley Furniture HomeStore of Secaucus, N.J.,  Ashley CEO Eugene Chrinian and Ashley’s director of people services and development Kathy Martin, in Federal Court because she she was fired for being a lesbian.
On October 5, 2012, Martin and and Isabella were walking in the parking lot and approached  Isabella’s car when Martin asked her about an HRC decal that she had on her car. Isabella explained to Martin that the decal was an ‘equality symbol.‘  Martin then asked Isabella if  it was for ‘the gays’ and then told her that she was not sure that she made the right decision about hiring her because she did not fit the ‘culture’ at the company. Martin then explained that she was going to ‘speak to God’ about it and wheather Isabella should continue her employment with Ashley Furniture.
The next day Isabella was called into a meeting with Martin and Alfred Nunez (sales manager) where Martin told Isabella that she had prayed about it and that God had spoken to her and told her that she needed to let Isabella go.  Martin told her: You just don’t fit our culture. … I need someone in your position that can embody our mission statementYour beliefs just don’t fit them‘ although Martin stressed that Isabella was very competent at her job and stated that  ‘We all know you are very capable and can easily manage the entire department.’”
And Ashley Furniture receives bonus points for employing someone who cultivates a racist environment by its purported “Christian” Martin (Courthouse News):
“During this meeting, Martin made a number of derogatory remarks about homosexuals, stating that ‘lesbos and gays would be judged’ and that she follows the ‘word of Leviticus’ – which purportedly condemns homosexuality – and that ‘there are many who call themselves true Christians, but they don’t know what that means.” (Brackets in complaint.)

On her first day of work, Perez claims in the complaint, she heard Martin refer to an employee as “nigga.”
When she asked Martin not to use that language in the workplace, Martin told her, “‘Girl, please. They’re different. It was nigga, not [the n-word].’ Martin then advised plaintiff that she needed to be more understanding of the company’s ‘culture,’” according to the complaint. (Brackets in complaint.)
Two other human resources employees told Perez “that Martin often directed derogatory and discriminatory comments to them, including referring to them as ‘nigga’ (as well as the n-word), ‘bitch,’ ‘heifer,’ ‘ghetto,’ ‘lesbo’ and ‘fag,’ among others,” the complaint states.
 Fascinating how the volcano of hate inside them just keeps erupting.

"Freedom Plus Groceries"

Best definition of liberalism I've ever heard. It's especially useful in distinguishing liberals from "progressives" who sometimes give the distinct impression that they don't support freedom plus groceries.

Rick Perlstein at The Nation:

In the 1930s, a congressman named Maury Maverick defined liberalism in three words: “Freedom plus groceries.” That’s how I define it, too. Liberalism is a both/and philosophy. There is no freedom without groceries. There are no groceries without freedom. What people call “capitalism” and “socialism” are actually one and inseparable. It’s a virtuous circle.

Consider healthcare. We all of us—libertarians, conservatives and liberals—want a growing economy. And we all agree that a growing economy requires entrepreneurial dynamism.

So ask yourself this: In a country in which health insurance isn’t guaranteed, how many millions of Americans with great ideas find it impossible to become entrepreneurs because they’re terrified to leave their job, because then they would lose their health insurance and ruin their lives if they get sick?

Now, in response to something like that, you’ll hear my fellow debaters repeat a curious fallacy, a crushing intellectual failure. They’ll act like only governments have the power to deprive citizens of freedom.

Consider, however, a corporation like Walnart, which had $447 billion in revenue this year, bigger than the gross domestic product of all but seventeen of the world’s nations. But according to libertarianism and conservatism, Walmart can only produce liberty. It can never curtail it. Even if they fire you for no reason at all—and by law there’s nothing you can do about it.

Conservatives and libertarians somehow believe that you are freer if an entity bigger than the economies of Austria, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates is simply left alone to act against you in whatever way it wishes. Only liberals know how to make you freer on the job, which is where most of us suffer the gravest indignities in our lives.

Exploding 10 Myths About Atheism

I wouldn't call them myths as much as lies, but Sam Harris refutes them nonetheless.

This is my favorite:

10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.
Read them all.

Rand Paul: GOP Must Pretend to Be Something It's Not

The jig is up, repugs: everybody knows who you really are, and your shrinking base won't let you pretend otherwise anymore.

And the Tribble-Toupeed One just sabotaged his presidential hopes with the Tolerance Heresy.

Barry Horstman at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The Republican Party needs to broaden its appeal by softening its edge on some volatile social issues and altering its image as the party always seemingly “eager to go to war,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul told more than 500 Cincinnati-area Republicans Saturday.

“We do need to expand the party and grow the party and that does mean that we don’t always all agree on every issue,” the Kentucky Republican said at the Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club’s annual pancake breakfast at the Sharonville Convention Center.

To help the party rebound from two successive losses in presidential races, Republicans must find new strategies and messages to reach voters who now often look askance at the GOP, Paul said.

Toward that end, the party needs to become more welcoming to individuals who disagree with basic Republican doctrine on emotional social issues such as gay marriage, Paul said.

Until They Get Full Dominion, They'll Settle for the Company Town

This is what every religion is all about: authoritarian control. It's why the freakazoids and corporate criminals are such natural allies.

From Divine Irony:

Religious freedom and worker exploitation: Christianity Today wants to bring back the company town
Christianity Today is required by law to provide every member of its staff access to booze and porn.
Most of us don’t think of it that way. We would just say that Christianity Today is required by law to pay its workers for the work that they do. The wages paid to their workers then belong to those workers, and since that money no longer belongs to Christianity Today, it has no say in how those wages are spent. The compensation has changed hands. It no longer belongs to the employer, but to the employees, and it’s up to them what to do with it.
But CT says this isn’t fair. It is, after all, a religious company with religious values, and it seems to them to be a violation of their religious values if the pay they pay their workers can be spent on things like alcohol and pornography. Labor law, they say, restricts their religious liberty to ensure that wages they pay are not later spent on anything that would contradict their core religious convictions.
This is their argument.
(Source: azspot)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

If You're Happy You're a Liberal, Buy Some Guns

Steve M figures out a path to gun control that might just work.

Since when are right-wingers are against tax avoidance? Or profiting while claiming to do good for society? (Isn't that what school and prison privatization are all about?) And since when are righties against fossil fuels? Or authoritarian despots? Or rich people depriving the Treasury of their money, especially when they're giving it to charity instead?

Well, they're not -- unless liberals are doing these things.

Here's what this has to do with guns: the right is unalterably opposed to all gun control measures -- but that would change if liberals became seriously interested in guns.
Read the whole thing.

Where the Banksters Have to Pay Something

In the U.S. not only can't we put admitted criminal banksters in jail, we can't even make them pay their fair share in taxes.
But in Ecuador, President Correa passes legislation that raises taxes on financial sector to finance a "Human Development Bond" 

Repug Aims at the Browns, Hits Everybody Else

I wish this were a satirical attempt to point up the unconstitutional absurdity of denying birthright citizenship, but apparently this motherfucker is serious.
He is also so blinded by fear and hate of everyone who is not white he can't see that his bill would strip the citizenship of every single American who is not 100 percent full-blooded Native American Indian, since everybody who ever came to America from somewhere else was undocumented under our current laws, so therefore all their descendants would be illegal under this bill. Including himself.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution expressly provides that nearly anyone born in the United States is a citizen, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Yet, despite the Constitution’s clear command, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wants to ignore our founding document and prevent the children of undocumented immigrants from becoming citizens:
It’s the first week of the 113th Congress, and one House member is already trying to stop children born in the United States to undocumented parents — whom he calls “anchor babies” — from gaining citizenship.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an outspoken hardliner on immigration, introduced a bill on Thursday that would “clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.” The Supreme Court has consistently held that anyone born in the United States, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, should receive citizenship under the 14th Amendment.
King disagrees, as do 13 co-sponsors on the bill, including Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).
The Constitution is clear that King’s bill is unconstitutional. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The word “jurisdiction” refers to people that are subject to American law. Thus foreign diplomats and their families, who are granted broad immunity from U.S. law, are not entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment. Likewise, at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was drafted many Native Americans were subject only to tribal law and thus were not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. Undocumented immigrants and their children, by contrast, are not immune to U.S. law. And thus fit squarely within the Fourteenth Amendment’s command.
In the past two years, more than 200,000 parents have been removed from the country who say they have a U.S. citizen child.
 Really, they'd have better luck if they just came right out for deporting/executing everyone who is not white, straight, freakazoid and repug.

A Church Sign to Live By

I pass almost a dozen churches on my drive into work every day, and I'm always amazed at the utter nonsense they display on their message signs. "Give your troubles to God." How exactly does that work? There's a hostile one on the way out to my parents' place that once displayed the claim that only those who hate their mothers can love jeebus. On Mother's Day.

Never yet seen one that made sense, much less inspired me to take its advice.

Until now.

westboro being liberal on fb.jpg
Credit: Being Liberal page on Facebook.

Via Crooks and Liars

Make the Electric Company Pay You

Dreading the arrival of your next electric bill? The one that will cover this last week of single-digit temperatures?  What if instead you were looking forward to a check from your power company? It can happen, with the feed-in tariff in the Clean Energy Opportunity Act proposed for the Kentucky General Assembly.

From Kentuckians for the Commonwealth:

The Clean Energy Opportunity Act would create a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard requiring utilities in Kentucky to get an increasing share of their electricity from clean, renewable sources and energy efficiency programs.

It will also establish a Feed-in Tariffs that set a guaranteed rate for renewable energy producers.
But you don't have to be a corporation to be a renewable energy producer.  All you have to have is a couple of solar panels on your roof.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has paid a Kentucky school district a little more than $37,000 for producing electricity.
Richardsville Elementary School in Bowling Green earns money from the energy it produces.School district spokeswoman Joanie Hendricks said the payment from TVA goes into a separate account, which will be used to replace solar panels at Richardsville when they wear out.
A feed-in tariff is not the energy credit system in which the power company just credits your account for the energy your roof solar panels produce, but you never get paid for the extra energy beyond the amount you use.

A feed-in tariff requires the power company to pay you in actual money, not energy credits.

After an initial investment for solar panels - the price of which is dropping every day - it's pure profit.

Gainesville Florida pioneered the technique years ago, but it's been a slow slog getting other states to pass legislation requiring power companies to pay.

Call or email your legislators and ask them to sponsor the Clean Energy Opportunity Act.

Kentucky Can't Have Nice Hemp Things

If it's legislation that might help Kentuckians - even white, middle-class, male Kentuckians - you can count on Kentucky's repug state senate to kill it.

Janet Patton at the Herald:

A bill to license Kentucky farmers to grow hemp if federal restrictions are lifted is likely to get a hearing Feb. 11 in the state Senate Agricultural Committee, where it will be assigned once the General Assembly reconvenes next month. It isn't clear, though, whether the bill will get a vote.

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Georgetown, chairman of the committee and sponsor of Senate Bill 50, said the Senate Republican Caucus might block the committee from voting.
You'd think the paleo-cons in Kentucky would love the idea of industrial hemp, given that it's a symbol of antebellum life when women and blacks knew their place.

Read more here:

Beverly Fortune at the Herald:
For advocates of reviving industrial hemp production in Kentucky, the state's past as a leading hemp producer shows the crop's potential.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul are among those pushing to revive industrial hemp in the state.

It's ironic, Comer said in a recent interview, that until the Civil War, Kentucky led the nation in industrial hemp production.

The earliest settlers westward brought hemp seed in their baggage, James F. Hopkins points out in A History of the Hemp Industry in Kentucky. During the early 1800s, Kentucky hemp fibers were in demand for rope, sailcloth and rough fabrics used to wrap bales of cotton and make pants that were called Kentucky jeans.

Lexington was at the center of that production. 
Read the whole fascinating thing.

"People Whose Job It Is to Stand Up for You"

I'll give you Cordray, Mr. President, but Mary Jo White is a Wall Street handmaiden not much better than Tim Geithner.

Full transcript here.

Stop-and-Frisk to Molest

Just as rape is a crime of violence and a weapon of war, sexual assault by police is brutality intended to humiliate.
Imagine you're 17 years old. A man with a gun and a badge has stopped you on the street and jammed his hand inside your pants, touching your penis. The girl you have a crush on is watching from nearby. That's the reality for many young men of color in New York City.

Stop-and-frisk is the controversial policing tactic in which street cops looking for weapons stop and pat down young men. Discussions of this policy in the media most often consist of alarming stats, like what percent of men targeted are black and brown ( 87% in New York) or the breach of constitutional rights the searches entail. But the reality on the ground is far less abstract. The policy amounts to a constant disruption of the lives of hundreds of thousands of young black and brown men. It's a belittling experience that could be better described as sexual assault.
Don't think it's not happening in your town.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Now From Frontier Airlines: Free Strip Search

Don't think you're safe because you look like a Ril Murkin; they can do this to anybody they decide they don't like that day.


On the ten year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, an Ohio mother was flying on a Frontier Airlines flight from San Francisco to Detroit. The plane landed and heavily armed agents boarded the plane and removed her. She was handcuffed, pat searched and then strip searched and locked in a cell at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. There she was interrogated and then released with no charges after being detained for four hours. She has now filed suit against Frontier Airlines and government agents and officers involved in arresting and detaining her without probable cause.
In a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), it describes how Shoshana Hebshi is an American citizen, who was born in California. Because she has an “Arab last name and was seated next to two men of South Asian origin, who each allegedly used the lavatory for ten to twenty minutes during the flight,” Frontier Airlines staff provided her name to both federal and state authorities when reporting the “suspicious conduct” of the two men sitting next to her. Mark Fraley, Frontier Airlines Sector Operations Control Shift Manager, provided the names of the men engaged in “suspicious conduct” and added Hebshi’s name because he thought she might be with the two men.

Heshi did not know the two men and there was no evidence to suggest that she did. That did not matter. As the complaint argues, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Wayne County Airport Authority Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), arrested her even though they had “no articulable facts” connecting her to “criminal activity” and no probable cause. (Both South Asian men were arrested as well.)
Don't tolerate racial profiling. And don't fly Frontier.

American Freedom: We're Number 7

Given the severe attacks on civil liberties since 9/11, I'm surprised we still rank in the top 10.

 Nonny Mouse at Crooks and Liars:

We Americans like to think, and in fact have been indoctrinated for decades to believe, that we are the greatest country in the world, the best at just about everything. Sadly, that hasn’t been true for quite some time. Words patriots once gave their lives for, like ‘freedom’... and ‘patriots’... have become almost meaningless.

So if you’re curious about who’s taken our crown, you might be surprised. The latest international index of 123 countries released by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank, and Germany's Liberales Institut, ranked New Zealand number one for offering the highest level of freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong. Australia, Canada and Ireland tied for fourth spot. The survey measured the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties - freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly - in each country surveyed, as well as indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women's freedoms. Pretty extensive stuff.

The United States tied Denmark for seventh. We didn’t even get bronze.

As for the idea that the United States is the envy of the world when it comes to free markets and business? Wrong again. The U.S. continues to lose ground against other nations in Forbes’ annual look at the Best Countries for Business. The U.S. placed second in 2009, but in 2012 it ranks 12th, trailing fellow G-8 countries Canada (5th), the United Kingdom (10th) and Australia (11th) The world’s biggest economy at $15.1 trillion scores abysmally when it comes to trade freedom and monetary freedom.
It gets worse, especially on education and health care.
One of the smallest countries in the world is kicking our ass when it comes to actually living up to the standards we Americans pretend we still have. Isn’t it about time we stopped kidding ourselves, stopped living on past glories that mostly never were, and started actually trying to be at least as good as one of the smallest nations on earth?

The Free-Fire Zone at the Library

I am not anywhere near cynical enough, because I cannot believe this stupidity, even of Kentucky.

Jesse Halladay at the Courier:

People can now openly carry a firearm in any city-owned facility in Kentucky — including libraries, parks, the zoo, city council chambers and city hall — thanks to a revision made to state law last year.

The law, which applies to any legal firearm, also states that in some places, like suburban firehouses run by special districts, people with the appropriate permit may carry concealed weapons.

The revision, which became subject to enforcement this month, clarifies that firearms may only be regulated by the state, voiding all local ordinances and restrictions.

“Local governments can’t regulate firearms,” said Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, who sponsored the bill, which was passed in 2012.
In the wake of Newtown, is there a state legislator with the balls to stand up and demand this be repealed?
The bill passed the state House 88-8 on March 14 and the Senate less than two weeks later 34-2. Gov. Steve Beshear signed it into law April 11. A spokeswoman for Beshear had no immediate comment Thursday.

Of the eight House members voting against the bill, seven were from Jefferson County: Democrats Tom Burch, Joni Jenkins, Mary Lou Marzian, Reginald Meeks, Darryl Owens, Tom Riner and Jim Wayne. In the state Senate, Louisville Democrat Tim Shaughnessy, who has since retired, voted against the measure.
 It's not like there's ever been a problem with violence in public meetings in Kentucky.
But Councilwoman Madonna Flood, D-24th District, said the law “flies in the face of common sense.”

It is not far-fetched that people may use weapons in meetings when they become upset, she said, citing the fatal September shooting of two men at a Spring Creek Homeowners Association meeting.
 The law's sponsor is a shining example of the dangerous shitheads that pass for Democrats in Kentucky:
While Damron said he would be willing to look at whether the revised law is causing unexpected consequences, such as the concerns raised by fire districts, he firmly believes regulation should rest with the state.

He also sees no problem allowing guns in libraries, parks or other public venues.

Generally, “I’m in favor of giving people the right to protect themselves wherever they are,” he said. Areas may be safer “if you have a carry concealed holder in those areas than if they were gun-free zones.”
 In fact, armed civilians cannot stop mass shooters. Damron's a moron or a liar or both.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Your Grammar Nazi

"As such" is not a synonym for "therefore" or "thus," although a lot of bad writers use it to try to make themselves sound sophisticated.  Trust me, you all: it makes you sound illiterate.
Suzy Khimm at Wonkblog:
Right now, their plan seems to be that “Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will introduce a budget that will balance in 10 years — a proposal to cut dramatically more than his spending plan last year,” my colleagues report.
As such, the House and Senate would almost certainly have to go to conference to come up with a compromise between each chamber’s budget resolution ...
Here's the rule with examples:
Increasingly, the phrase as such is misused as an all-purpose (but grammatically incorrect) transitional phrase.  Such is a pronoun that must have an identifiable antecedent, but in today’s usage it often has none.

            Example 1 (correct):

            She is the committee chair.  As such, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.

            Explanation: Here, the antecedent of such is chair.  It can replace such:   She is the committee chair.  As chair, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.
            Example 2 (incorrect):

            Congress intended to provide an exhaustive list of examples, and it did not mention websites.  As such, the statute does not cover websites.   

            Explanation:  Such has no antecedent here; it cannot be replaced with list or any other word in the first sentence.  The writer of example 2 incorrectly used as such as a generic transitional phrase.  “Therefore” would be a better choice.

Only One Democratic Governor Has Not Yet Expanded Medicaid

Oh, Steve "Cowardly Waste of Oxygen" Beshear, you never disappoint. Even in your last term you can't bring yourself to help Kentucky's most vulnerable for fear of upsetting the repugs.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:
One of the more bizarre phenomena transpiring across the country—sort of a slow-motion riot—involves the efforts of (mostly Republican) governors and state legislators to deny their citizens the benefits of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which would significantly expand access to health insurance at a relatively small cost to states (a cost which is offset partially or even entirely by the reduction of uncompensated care).

At this point the leadership of ten states, all with Republican governors, have rejected participation in the Medicaid expansion. Five more states—again, all with Republican governors—are said to be “leaning against” participation. And things are entirely up in the air in twelve other states, eleven of them with Republican governors.
 From's Medicaid Map:

  • Kentucky: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) when asked about the expansion in July said, "If there is a way that we can afford that will get more coverage for more Kentuckians, I'm for it." However, state lawmakers are putting pressure on Beshear to reject the expansion (Office of Gov. Beshear release, 6/28; AP/Evansville Courier & Press, 6/28; AP/Evansville Courier & Press, 7/17; Autry, WYU, 7/5; Cross, Louisville Courier-Journal, 6/29).
  • What the Fairness Ordinance Does Not Do

    Kentuckians working to get Fairness Ordinances passed in their communities might use this story as an educational tool. Too many opponents falsely conflate laws to prevent discrimination against LGBT people with gay marriage.

    Louisville has a Fairness Ordinance, but its gay citizens still cannot marry.

    Andrew Wolfson at the Courier

    A Louisville gay minister and his partner have been released on their own recognizance Wednesday after they were arrested on trespassing charges for refusing to leave the Jefferson County Clerk’s office when they were denied a marriage license.

    Rand Paul Exposes His TIny Member

    Back during the Watergate hearings in Congress, questioning was conducted by congressional staff members: experienced lawyers who knew how to draw out witnesses and conduct fruitful cross-examination.

    The reason congressional hearings are such farces today is because the elected members insist on doing the questioning themselves.  Even the few who know how to question witnesses are handicapped because accommodating every egomaniac member of a committee means that each member gets about a minute and
    a half to showboat for the cameras, instead of the hours of direct questioning and cross-examination by staff attorneys.

    Returning the questioning to staff professionals would not only make hearings more effective and efficient, but would also save members from making asses of themselves on national TV. 

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    It's Always Been About Race

    Everybody who's surprised the repugs are still claiming that the very existence of Barack Obama on the planet is cause for impeachment, stand on your head.

    Last week it was the "scandal" of a president daring to issue exercutive orders.

    What's really scandalous and unconstitutional to them is that there is a NI**ER IN THE WHITE HOUSE! Of course everything he does is an immediate threat to the very survival of the nation. Repugs have been fighting this unspeakable abomination for four years now and haven't even been trying to hide their reasons.
    Racism is the source, the inspiration, the reason for everything repugs do. Even the fraudulent "pro-life" movement is nothing but cover for their racism.


    In discussions with Falwell, Weyrich cited various social ills that necessitated evangelical involvement in politics, particularly abortion, school prayer and the rise of feminism. His pleas initially fell on deaf ears.

    "I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed," Weyrich recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. "What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter's intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation."

    In 1979, at Weyrich's behest, Falwell founded a group that he called the Moral Majority. Along with a vanguard of evangelical icons including D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye, Falwell's organization hoisted the banner of the "pro-family" movement, declaring war on abortion and homosexuality. But were it not for the federal government's attempts to enable little black boys and black girls to go to school with little white boys and white girls, the Christian right's culture war would likely never have come into being. "The Religious New Right did not start because of a concern about abortion," former Falwell ally Ed Dobson told author Randall Balmer in 1990. "I sat in the non-smoke-filled back room with the Moral Majority, and I frankly do not remember abortion ever being mentioned as a reason why we ought to do something."

    As I said, it's not fair to attribute the current evangelical opposition to abortion to this shady history. It's been a long time and I assume their feelings are sincere. But I also think it's important to realize that this evangelical opposition was conceived as a purely political strategy to organize in the wake of desegregation. These ancient fault lines are all connected.
    So let me add my voice to so many others saying to repugs: PLEASE impeach President Obama, and do it before the 2014 elections.

    The GOP's Fifth Column Takes Aim at McConnell

    I said it before: McConnell let That Ni**er back into the White House, and the baggers are going to primary his ass for it.

     Jack Brammer at the Herald:

    Many of Kentucky's Tea Party leaders are plotting a strategy to defeat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary, a spokesman for a group calling itself the United Kentucky Tea Party said Tuesday.

    Tea Party groups in the state are so dissatisfied with McConnell that "we are working on a battle plan with the ultimate goal to retire him next year," said John T. Kemper III of Lexington, a spokesman for the group.
    Don't celebrate yet. While it seems logical that it would be easier for a Democratic candidate to defeat a relatively unknown teabagger rather than the richest and most ruthless repug official in the country, that's what we all thought about Jack Conway and Rand Paul, to our and the nation's dismay.

    On the other hand, Rand Paul benefited from the support of his father's rabid fanatics. Kemper or somebody else probably won't have that support.

    We'll see if McConnell has an intimidating enough response to discourage more Democratic candidates from jumping into the race.

    Read more here:

    "The Price of Poverty in Kentucky"

    No, the price of poverty is not the pittance we dole out in food stamps and welfare; it's the cost to society of failing to provide the good jobs, child care, decent housing, health care and education that will lift people out of poverty and benefit all of us.

    KET's promotion:

    James Ziliak, an economics professor at the University of Kentucky and founding director of the U.K. Center for Poverty Research says the Bluegrass state has the fifth highest poverty rate in the nation. He says the boom and bust cycles in manufacturing and resource extraction leave Kentucky particularly vulnerable to sharp economic downturns — such as the one from which we’re trying now to rebound.

    Then there’s the issue of the “persistently poor” counties in Kentucky, of which almost two dozen are situated in eastern Kentucky. By federal definition, these areas earn that classification when they’ve been economically distressed for at least 30 years. Michelle Tooley, a religion, social ethics, and public policy professor at Berea College, says there are “scarce resources…isolation, often poor transportation, sometimes not the access to utilities. But you also have this resource gap that is more than just money.” Professors Tooley and Ziliak frame the issue further in this report.

    Poverty is a multi-dimensional problem. But, it is not without solutions, as I’ve learned while producing/hosting (with Bill Goodman) a KET special that airs Monday at 8 pm ET. Community leaders, anti-poverty advocates, educators, and economists share their insights and lend recommendations on how — in the words of Dr. Martin L. King — “to make the invisible visible.”

    Watch it online.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    "Roe is Here For Good"

    From Cecile Richards at Planned Parenthood:

    It's been 40 years since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in this country.

    Forty years of protecting every woman's fundamental right to make the most personal medical decisions.

    Forty years of ensuring that abortion remains a safe and legal procedure for a woman to consider, if she needs it.

    And, it's been 40 years of facing a vocal minority of politicians and others who continue to insist on interfering with a woman's decisions about her own health.

    That's why, as the 40th anniversary approaches on Tuesday, those of us who trust women, who value their health and rights, have something to say — Roe is here for good.

    Roe is here for the good it has done for our mothers and grandmothers, and every woman who fought for the right to make her own health care decisions. We will not give up what they fought so hard and suffered so long to achieve.

    Roe is here for the good it does me and women nationwide. We won't allow a small band of politicians and out-of-touch activists to interfere with a woman's personal health care decisions. We won't allow lawmakers to stand between women and their doctors.

    Roe is here for the good of our daughters, who deserve to live in a world that respects their decisions and their rights. They are counting on us to protect their health, to move forward and never turn back. We won't return them to the world that generations of women before them left behind. We will secure their right to make their own decisions today, so they don't have to fight for them tomorrow.
    Scott Lemiuex at Lawyers, Guns and Money refutes Five Myths of Roe v. Wade. This is the one that makes me craziest:
    Roe is only a rich woman’s right. This critique from the left actually has a plausible basis and a limited amount of truth.   Since the Supreme Court has narrowly upheld the constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment and the regulations upheld by Casey disproportionately burden poor women,  the current legal regime protects abortion access for poor women much less than it should.   But even as diluted by Republican-dominated courts, Roe matters to poor women most of all. Affluent women, who will generally either have the connections to obtain gray market abortions or the resources to travel to a jurisdiction where abortion is legal, are likely to have reasonable access to abortion under any plausible legal regime.   To women who lack these advantages, Roe matters substantially, even though both courts and legislatures should be doing more to protect abortion access for poor women.  (Amanda has more on this general point.)

    Because Incubators Have No Rights

    Abortion is as old as conception.  What was new about Roe v. Wade was codifying in constitutional law a woman's control over her own body, including a non-viable fetus.

    So reversing that autonomous control means reversing the primacy of the adult woman over the non-viable fetus.

    Thus the lie not only that a fetus - a zygote, a blastocyst, a single fertilized cell - has an independent life, but that the "life" of an undifferentiated clump of cells takes precedence over the life of the adult woman who gestates it.

    From that lie, forced pregnancy is the logical next step. And not just forced pregnancy, but shackling and imprisonment for any woman who dares to put her own health and life ahead of a fetus'.

    Hundreds of women have been arrested, convicted, jailed, detained in mental institutions or forced to endure medical procedures as a result of the "criminalisation of pregnancy" over the last four decades, a new report has found.

    In the first study of its kind, to be published on Tuesday, researchers from the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) identified 413 criminal and civil cases across 44 states involving the arrests, detentions and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women's liberty between 1973 and 2005. NAWP said that it is aware of a further 250 cases since 2005. Both figures are likely to be underestimates, it said.

    The report, which will appear in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, found that women were denied a wide range of basic human rights, including the right to life, liberty, equal protection and due process of law "based solely on their pregnancy status".

    It found a wide range of cases in which pregnant women were arrested and detained not only if they ended a pregnancy or expressed an intention to end a pregnancy, but also after suffering unintentional pregnancy loss.
    The cases of detention and forced medical intervention varied widely and included one in which a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her having an abortion.

    Another involved a woman in Oregon who refused a doctor's recommendation for additional testing for gestational diabetes. She was held in a locked psychiatric ward. Another case involved a court in Washington DC, which ordered a critically ill woman to undergo caesarian section over her objections. Neither she nor the baby survived.
    Lynn Paltrow, executive director of NAPW and lead author of the study said: "Our analysis of the legal claims used to justify the arrests found they relied on post-Roe measures such a foeticide laws and the same arguments made in support of so-called 'personhood measures' – namely that state actors would be empowered to treat fertilised eggs, embryos and foetuses as completely legally separate from the pregnant women."
    McVeigh gets this wrong: it's not the criminalization of pregnancy, it's the criminalization of female autonomy. Because the anti-abortionists don't give a flying fuck about the fetus "pre-birth" much less post-birth; they care only about controlling women.

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    Rub It In

    It's real. We won, they lost, fuck those motherfuckers forever.

    Official transcript here.

    Savor it. Relish it. Then get to work taking the House back in 2014.

    Charles Pierce, as clear-eyed an observer of the President as lives, heard a liberal hard-ass. 

    The speech was a bold refutation of almost everything the Republican party has stood for over the past 40 years. It was a loud — and, for this president, damned near derisive — denouncement of all the mindless, reactionary bunkum that the Republicans have come to stand for in 2013; you could hear the sound of the punch he landed on the subject of global warming halfway to Annapolis. But the meat of the speech was a brave assertion of the power of government, not as an alien entity, but as an instrument of the collective will and desires of a self-governing people. 

    Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Why I Sing the Blues"

    Uploaded by on Jul 29, 2010

    B.B. King Live In Africa '74 is a rare - extremely rare - intimate view of B.B. King in concert.

    "The People of Kentucky Need a Fighter"

    No, it's not too early to start working on a campaign to unseat the most powerful, wealthy, nasty and unscrupulous repug official in the nation.  It's almost too late. Make up your mind and get to work, Ashley.

    James R. Carroll at the Courier:

    Actress and activist Ashley Judd said Saturday she is “taking a close look” at running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the 2014 race.

    Judd would not say whether she had decided to mount a campaign, but her brief comments in an interview with The Courier-Journal and Politico were the strongest indication yet that she may be a serious candidate.

    “The people of Kentucky need a fighter,” Judd said as she walked through a Washington hotel lobby on her way to the Kentucky Society of Washington’s Bluegrass Ball. “And certainly going back 10 generations, I’ve got some fighters from those hills in my family.”
    Kentucky has a long, proud, deep and broad progressive tradition despite its tendency to elect conservatives to national office. But even there, McConnell is an anomoly: a petty partisan unworthy of the mantle of republicans like John Sherman Cooper and Thruston Morton.

    Nor is McConnell personally popular, benefiting from a series of inept opponents rather than a strong fan base. Judd is beloved.

    McConnell can waste a billion dollars from the Koch Brothers bashing Judd as a "Hollywood liberal;" Kentuckians know she is one of us the way Alabama-boy McConnell never will be.

    The Constitutional Right That's Really Under Siege

    If the governor of Massachusetts, or California, or Oregon, were to state publicly on multiple occasions her determination to eliminate individual gun ownership in her state, what do you think the reaction would be?

    Probably not the deafening silence that is greeting the successful efforts by at least one U.S. governor to eliminate a woman's constitutional right to control her own body.

    Deafening, except for one determined voice.

    Part One

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

    Part Two

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    Part Three

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

    After the Supreme Court decided Roe, most abortions in this country were performed in hospitals, anonymously.  You couldn't tell by looking at the people passing through the hospital's multiple doors who was a patient, much less who was there for an abortion.  Hospitals wouldn't tolerate protesters blockading entrances or harassing patients.

    But hospital abortions were expensive, and once the Hyde Amendment barred Medicare and Medicaid from paying for abortions, hospitals stopped providing abortions to women without private insurance or significant cash. 

    The anti-woman forces could not get any leverage as protesters until they forced abortions out of the safe haven of hospitals and into isolated clinics vulnerable to attacks.

    So the Hyde Amendment wasn't about saving tax dollars; it was about throwing women and the doctors who care for them to the wolves.

    The one piece of legislation that could end this denial of constitutional rights is one requiring that every hospital that receives any federal dollars also perform abortions.

    Take abortions out of the clinics that are nothing but juicy targets for freakazoid psychopaths and put them back into hospitals where patients are safe and private.