Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pathetic: Mitchie-Poo Pays for YouTube Hits

As usual with repug chicanery, it's a toss-up as to whether Mitch is this stupid, or just thinks you are.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

On his best day, McConnell videos might get 1,000 views on YouTube. The Republican senator has an online presence -- Twitter followers, Facebook friends, etc. -- but it's quite limited.

And we're to believe a silly, two-minute campaign video generated over 1 million views in a day and a half? Including 400,000 views over the course of 16 minutes?

No. Bullpucky.

The questions for McConnell, then, are pretty straightforward: how many donor dollars were spent to inflate the video's reach and why does one of Congress' most powerful lawmakers feel the need to pretend his videos are more popular than they really are?
Maybe he's fishing for a Politico headline: "Great Republican Leader Sets Social Media Record."

Rand Paul Abandons Kentucky, Endorses Governor Argentinian Nookie

Well of course the Tribble-Toupeed One doesn't give a flying fuck about Kentuckians; we don't even have enough electoral votes to help him get elected president.

Political Wire:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is organizing a series of public and private appearances across the first-in-the-South primary state in June, CNN reports.
The trip is "an effort to get to know Republicans across the state.
He's also set to endorse former Gov, Mark Mark Sanford (R) in the special election in South Carolina's 1st congressional district.
Endorsing Sanford might not be the stupid move it seems to be: Sanford claims he's just a point behind Stephen Colbert's sister, and if turnout is low enough in next Tuesday's special election, he could win.

Put Not Your Faith in Billionaires - Even Liberal Ones

First, because rich people are out to enrich themselves at your expense, no matter what they claim to support.
Secondly, because abandoning the political process for the vain hope that Big Daddy Billionaire will rescue us is the death of democracy and the final step into serfdom.


But on the whole, I just can't help but mourn for our poor rickety system of democracy to see yet another billionaire jump into the arena and decide for the people what issues are important. I can now easily imagine a time at which we simply choose our billionaires rather than our politicians or parties and pledge our loyalty to "Team Bloomberg" or Team Koch" just like the serfs we are rapidly turning into.
But don't worry, you have the same right to free speech as they do --- and if you can afford to spend billions, you too can buy the television advertisements to compete with what they're selling. So, it's all good.
As I said, if there's one discrete issue that I exempt from this complaint it's climate change which is such a huge challenge with such catastrophic implications that I wouldn't complain if every liberal with money decided to focus on fighting it. But now that we are seeing the emergence of a new aristocracy dedicated to fighting our battles for us, it would be useful if some of the ones who've taken up the liberal standard would build a few ideological political and media institutions to match the right wing's advantage.
I'm surely grateful for my new liberal liege lord and just hope that he won't lose interest once he finds that it's hard to make a difference as so many previous noble liberals have done. I even bow my head to my centrist ally Lord Bloomberg on the gun issue --- he's making a difference. But overall this country is looking less and less like a democracy every day.

This Is What A Feminist President Looks Like

President Obama's speech to Planned Parenthood last Friday:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Number 110

Kentucky's 110th sacrifice to the insatiable maw of Baal that is the Permanent War on a Tactic in Iraq and Afghanistan is 30-year-old Daniel N. Fannin of Morehead, in Eastern Kentucky.

Jim Warren, at the Herald:
Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin's family remembered him Monday as a kind-hearted young man who enjoyed the simple pleasures of camping and fishing, and died serving the country he loved.

Fannin, a Morehead native, was killed Saturday in the crash of an Air Force reconnaissance plane about 100 miles from the Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan. He had turned 30 on April 9.

The U.S. Defense Department said authorities were trying to determine what caused the crash. Officials said, however, that no enemy activity had been reported in the area at the time of the crash.

Daniel Fannin grew up in Morehead, and joined the U.S. Air Force shortly after graduating from Rowan County Senior High School in 2001.

He had lived for several years in Oklahoma with his wife, Sonya Fannin, of Oklahoma City. He was assigned to the Air Force's 552nd Operations Support Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.
 The only question now is whether Kentucky's last Afghanistan War casualty will die before or after its first Syrian War casualty.

The impenetrable stupidity of this shit is beyond comprehension. 

Democratic Candidates Who Run On Democratic Values Win

Yes, Massachusetts is a blue state. But Kentucky's deplorable tendency to elect repugs to national office hides this salient fact:

The five of Kentucky's six congressional districts that are represented by repugs are still technically Democratic districts by registration. For the nth time: IT'S THE TURNOUT, STUPID.


So Elizabeth Warren is pleasing Democrats and independents through her outspoken economic populism, while marginalizing herself among Republicans. The end result is that her approval rating is double her disapproval.

Other Democrats can pull off the same trick. Other states are often more conservative than Massachusetts, of course, but it's not independents in Montana are any friendlier to hedge fund manager and other Wall St. types than independents on the eastern seaboard.

Elizabeth Warren is not just supporting good policy. She's channeling what Americans really feel. That's not just good policy; it's good politics. Unless you're a Democrat representing a majority Republican district, there's no reason not to do likewise. Any Democrat in a blue state or district falling short of the Elizabeth Warren standard is doing so because they want to, not because they have to.
Don't bother trying to explain this to Kentucky's repug "Democratic" Party. Talk to your neighbors. Go to your city council and fiscal court meetings and community events. That's where you'll find real Democratic voters who can be real Democratic candidates. Or maybe you'll find one staring back at you from the mirror.

Run on Democratic values and win.

What War on Women?

There is just no end to the abuse our society eagerly heaps on poor people. They're just serfs, after all. Not really human. Especially the ones without a penis.

karoli at Crooks and Liars:

Imagine being a domestic violence victim who is routinely stalked and beaten by a former boyfriend. Imagine being that same victim and trying to work and raise a three-year old daughter, while living in HUD Section 8 approved housing.

Now imagine being that same victim and being threatened with eviction because your ex-boyfriend's penchant for beating the crap out of you whenever he felt like it was considered to be a "nuisance" for which your landlord was held partly responsible. Because your landlord was held partly responsible, your landlord also has the right to evict you if that nuisance thing gets in his way.

This is what happened to Pennsyvania resident Lakisha Briggs. By her landlord's own admission, she paid her rent on time and didn't cause any trouble. That's true, she didn't. But her ex-boyfriend was trouble any time he came around, and that trouble led her down a path of near-eviction:
You can read the full text of the lawsuit here (PDF). It's not unique to Norristown, PA. A similar law was passed in Providence, Rhode Island last year. After an outcry from domestic violence groups, the mayor promised to amend the law to exclude victims of domestic violence. That's one city. Many others don't really care. They're more interested in conserving police resources and if that means a few women lose their homes, oh well.

Women in general, yes. But more often than not, it's not simply women in general. It's poor women of color. This recent study confirms the frequency that women of color in poor neighborhoods are likely to receive a nuisance citation from police rather than the protection they deserve.
A recent study of Milwaukee's nuisance ordinance showed that domestic violence was the third most common reason that police issued a nuisance citation, far above drug, property damage, or trespassing offenses. The study also established that enforcement of the ordinance disproportionately targeted African-American neighborhoods. The result? Women of color, like Ms. Briggs, were less able to access police protection.
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the city of Norristown. If successful, cities across the country would have to amend their nuisance laws to exclude calls for domestic violence. I would think this is a no-brainer. It's unthinkable that a law put on the books to deal with noisy parties and drug dealers is capturing battered women in the net and victimizing them again.

As things progress, I'm certain efforts will be made on the right-hand side of blogging and news to demonize this woman for whatever they can dig up on her. They should rot for that. Domestic violence toward anyone -- male, female, white, black or otherwise -- is a worm that eats society from the inside out. No city or police department should be punishing the victims.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

GMO food labeling

The fierceness with which Big Ag fights every attempt to require food producers to label their products that contain Genetically Modified Organisms as such is a dead giveaway that Big Ag knows no one will knowingly buy much less eat GMO foods.

And if Americans suddenly started seeing GMO labels on virtually every food product in the grocery, there'd be a backlash that would threaten to topple the entire GMO empire.

From Firedoglake:

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have “introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act [requiring] the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods” as such.
Carey L. Biron at Nation of Change:
A decades-long push to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients in the United States received a significant boost Wednesday, when bipartisan bills on the issue were simultaneously proposed in the House and Senate.

Advocates of such measures are reacting with excitement, noting that the new bills appear to be far better positioned than previous such attempts, in terms of both public and Congressional support. If the bills pass, the United States would join 64 other countries that have already put in place similar laws or regulations.

“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Senator Barbara Boxer, a key sponsor of the new bill and author of the 2000 proposal, said Wednesday.

“This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”

Indeed, public opinion on the matter appears to be overwhelmingly on the side of the new proposal, which would direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the main government regulator on food-related issues, to require food producers to clearly label their products if they contain genetically engineered (GE) components.

According to multiple polls in recent years (including here and here), more than 90 percent of people in the United States favor the FDA requiring the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

“The fact of the matter is that, for far too long, the FDA has been playing politics over science,” Colin O’Neil, the director of government affairs at the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group, told IPS.

“Corn that produces its own insecticide, or a fish that grows twice as fast as normal, or an apple that doesn’t turn brown for 30 days – we know these are material changes and that those are novel foods.”

Mandatory Prayer in Mississippi

I think Antonin Scalia is behind the last year's spate of blatantly unconstitutional atni-abortion and religion-establishing laws and policies in the Stupid States.

He's so sure that once these cases reach his bench, all that First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendment bullshit will get the Supreme Court heave-ho it so richly deserves.

Scott Keyes at Think Progress:

A high school in central Mississippi finds itself in court after allegedly holding a mandatory religious assembly earlier this month.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed by the American Humanist Association on Wednesday, students were given no advance notice about the nature of the assembly, but were told that attendance was required. It soon became clear, however, when a member of Pinelake Baptist Church opened his presentation by talking about finding hope in Jesus Christ.

The assembly allegedly also warned students against premarital sex, pornography, and homosexuality. As the lawsuit detailed, the program included a video of four speakers explaining how their troubled lives had been saved by Christianity:
Soon after, “the assembly immediately turned into a full-blown lecture on the supposed miracles, powers, and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church Representative encouraged all students to find sanctity in him,” and no one was permitted to leave. “The School’s truancy officer, Jeff White (“Officer White”), harassed several students who attempted to leave and told them to sit back down,” read the complaint.

According to the complaint, the school repeated the same assembly for 11th graders on April 10. A few juniors had been tipped off that it would be a religious assembly and “attempted to go to the library or another classroom instead but they were prevented from doing so by Officer White.” A third mandatory assembly was held this Monday for 10th graders, the suit alleges.

The Supreme Court ruled more than 50 years ago in Engel v Vitale that school-led prayer is an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, a decision they reaffirmed in the 1992 case Lee v. Weisman.
What I find most amazing about all the various attempts to force high-school students to listen to freakazoid lies and stupidity is that the school and state officials involved have failed to learn the most basic fact about adolescents:

The quickest way to get teenagers to reject something is to make it mandatory.

Are You Smarter Than the Average Earthling?

I got 12 out of 13, but in my defense, the one I got wrong is the one most people got wrong, and I did spend some time considering the correct answer before rejecting it..

Via Divine Irony.

How much do you think you know about science compared to the average Earthling?
Take Pew Research Center’s 13 question Science and Technology Knowledge Quiz and see where you stack up.
Hopefully reading It’s Okay To Be Smart will help you all get 100%. How’d you do?

Rand Paul, Dominionist

And what better state for the freakazoid-cock-sucking Tribble-Toupeed One to represent than the one whose legislature just made it the Talibangelical Republic of Kentuckystan?
Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:

The Constitution Party’s goal is to “reestablish” Biblical Law as the foundation for American society. Part of the ability of the Constitution Party to endure, despite structural impediments to third parties in the American political system, is no doubt due to longstanding support from Ron Paul, Rand Paul and a dedicated core of their supporters.

Rand Paul spoke at a Constitution Party event as recently as 2009. His father actually endorsed the Constitution presidential ticket in 2008, and after his retirement from Congress, has devoted much of his time (as Sarah Posner has reported) to the promotion of a home-school curriculum whose development was supervised by Gary North, a major Christian Reconstructionist theorist with links to the Constitution Party, who has also been cited as an influence by Rand Paul.

I wonder how aware some of the young hip libertarians attracted to the Family Paul—or for that matter, the MSM journalists who occasionally interpret the Paulite message in the image of their own economic conservative/cultural liberal views—about the Christian Reconstructionist associations of Ron and Rand. Sure, it’s possible to systematically dislike government on purely libertarian or even anarchist grounds, but it’s also possible to hate “government schools” because they compete with strict conservative evangelical madrassa training and wish to undermine government generally for interfering with the imposition of biblical law. If Rand Paul does emerge as a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 or later, I do hope he’s asked early and often about Howard Phillips and the Constitution Party, and exactly how much freedom he actually wants us to have from the Revealed Truth as he understands it.
"Christian Reconstructionist" does not convey the full horror that Dominionism would impose upon the nation. Saudia Arabia is San Francisco in comparison.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

From Ramallah to Boston, With a Plea for Freedom

In the three decades since I visited Israel and Egypt, I have evolved from an Israel partisan who looked down on Arabs to a Palestine partisan who despises Israel's anti-Arab policy. And that is entirely the fault of the Israeli government's abusive, murderous and unconscionable apartheid of Palestinians and the successive U.S. governments that enable it.

And still I am amazed that hope survives the hate.


From the "hate us for our freedom" files

In case you missed it:
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- With the Boston Marathon bombings on their mind, hundreds of Palestinian and international runners participated Sunday in what was billed as the first Palestinian marathon.

The Right to Movement Palestine Marathon kicked off in front of the Church of the Nativity in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Before it began, Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, asked runners to bow their heads in silence for one minute in remembrance of the Boston Marathon victims.

“As we stand here at the Nativity Square, we should bow in silence for one minute for the victims who died in the terrorist act last week in the Boston Marathon,” he said.
He went on to say that he wanted freedom. Which means, I guess, that he hates America. Or something.

The New York Charter School Disaster Kentucky Legislators Want to Bring Here

Last week, Governor Beshear removed the single biggest obstacle to charter schools in Kentucky. As House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Carl Rollins repeatedly stopped charter school bills from reaching the House floor. 

Now, as head of the state higher education agency, he'll get to watch from the sidelines as the repug-lite "Democratic" house leadership teams with the repug state senate to hand the education of Kentucky's children over to the most vicious, rapacious, conscience-less corporations this side of Exxon.

What will the results look like?  Here's what is happening in New York:

The expansion of charter schools has been another source of widening inequity. Bloomberg has been an aggressive proponent of charter schools, which receive public funds but are run by private corporate boards. The mayor, together with a set of wealthy philanthropists, successfully lobbied to have the cap raised on charter schools in 2007 and again in 2010. Recently, it was revealed that he plans to start his own chain of such schools when he leaves office, and has assigned city employees to the task of designing them.

Charter schools enroll fewer special-needs students, English-language learners and children in extreme poverty than do public schools in the same communities. In the Bronx, they enroll half as many ELLs and children with disabilities as the neighborhood public schools. As the number of charter schools has proliferated, the concentration of the most at-risk students in nearby public schools has risen, with less space and fewer resources to serve them.

The siting of charter schools in public school buildings has led in many cases to such overcrowding that the pre-existing schools have lost pre-K programs, classrooms, art rooms and libraries, forcing students with disabilities to receive their services in hallways and closets. Many parents and students perceive separate but unequal conditions, as the charter schools often have refurbished classrooms and bathrooms and more computers and whiteboards, as well as smaller classes and more staff. In addition, many of the higher-performing charters have a “no excuses” philosophy, with rigid disciplinary policies and long school days, which in turn contributes to a high rate of suspensions and children who are “pushed out”—especially those with special needs. Teacher and principal attrition rates also tend to be very high, signaling dissatisfaction with the harsh working conditions and classroom environment.

How an Underdog Dem Candidate in a Red State Won on a Campaign Finance Platform

No, of course I don't blame you for thinking the Democratic Party is dead in Kentucky. Between repugs owning the congressional delegation, the repug-lite "leadership" in the state house killing all progressive legislation and the state party rolling over for repugs at every opportunity, it's easy to think a real Democratic candidate doesn't have a chance.
That's when you throw the rule book out the window and just go for it. The way political neophyte Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins beat an 8-term incumbent.

Russell Mokhiber at The Nation:
“To represent, I believe you need to know who you’re representing,” he wrote in one. “That means spending time in communities, knocking on doors, building relationships, listening and learning. There aren’t any shortcuts to spending time in the place that you represent.”

And he pounded his opponent for voting for that $2 billion tax break for the oil industry—a hot-button issue in oil-rich Alaska. The tax break was killed last year in the state Senate, but a smaller tax cut for the industry is expected to pass this spring.

“There was the process. The process was: I put in the time, I showed I care,” Kreiss-Tomkins says. “That was important. But we also ran our campaign on an issue endemic to Alaska—oil taxes. State government is entirely dependent on oil royalties. And the question is: What percentage of the money that comes from that oil patch is retained by the state, and what percentage goes to BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips? Our governor, and most but not all of the Republicans in the Legislature, supported a tax cut that would shift $2 billion from the state to BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips.”

But it wasn’t the issues that hurt Thomas so much as it was the perception that Kreiss-Tomkins cared more. In what many believe to be one of the biggest upsets in Alaskan legislative history, Kreiss-Tomkins defeated Thomas by thirty-two votes, 4,130 to 4,098. And though he ran as a Democrat, Kreiss-Tomkins doesn’t believe that party affiliation was a determining factor.

“The kind of campaign I ran was so personal, the party label didn’t make that much of a difference,” he says. “Alaska politics aren’t highly partisan relative to other states. There is a strong sense of community across the state. You know the candidate as a person, not necessarily as a Democrat or a Republican.” Kreiss-Tomkins adds that he could have run and won as an independent.
In New York, another upset win by a campaign finance reform challenger has given Governor Cuomo the legislative votes to establish clean elections in the state, if he chooses to do so.

Meanwhile, all 100 members of Kentucky's state house and 19 of the 38 state senators are up for re-election in 2014.  The dems are on the verge of losing the house majority, which would not be bad if it got ride of Greg Stumbo and company, but which would put fucking insane repugs in charge.  Nobody expects a challenge - general or primary - in these races.  They're wide open for somebody with balls and passion to step in and take it.  The deadline for filing to run is January 30, 2014. 

Time to Replace the Sequester

Too bad you blew your best chance to do just that this week, Mr. President.

Full transcript here.

A Bill to Save the Post Office Needs Your Help

Congress created the fake crisis that is killing the Post Office, and now finally a member of Congress has proposed legislation to reverse that stupidity.  
Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress:
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has introduced legislation to try to save the US Postal Service from its incipient bankruptcy, and he is asking for the public to help him pass it. 
DeFazio’s bill would repeal the needless requirement — one no other business or entity must face — that the Postal Service pre-fund 75 years’ worth of employee health benefits. That requirement has hugely contributed to the USPS defaulting for the first and then second time in its history last year. Analysis from 2012 estimated that the USPS would have a $1.5 billion surplus without the benefit requirement.

But DeFazio recognizes that facts alone will not influence his colleagues to take up and pass the legislation, so he has also turned to the White House’s petition platform, We The People, to petition President Obama to take a stand against the health benefit requirement. He also points out many of the other flaws in how Congress has managed the postal service:
Some conservatives have made the argument that having a national postal service is frivolous in the age of private delivery companies and email, but that ignores the fact that rural Americans don’t enjoy those services with the same regularity that urban and suburban Amercians do. For the elderly and for rural Americans, closed post offices and slowed delivery mean less consistent communication. It can also mean more economic inequality.

President of the National Association of Letter Carriers Fredric Rolando told ThinkProgress that he was happy with DeFazio’s efforts, which he called a fight “for meaningful comprehensive postal reform aimed at strengthening the Postal Service so it can continue to provide Americans with the world’s best and most efficient delivery service.”
 Go sign the petition right now, and send it to all your friends.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Year of Right-Wing Terror

Why are the Rechwingnuts so frantic to turn the Boston bombing from a straightforward crime into the Terror Attack of the Century?

Other than to create something new to beat President Obama and the Democratic Congress with, it's to cover up their own culpability.

Indeed, just in the past year alone, we've observed the following entirely successful acts of domestic terrorism, perpetrated by extremists animated by various kinds of far-right ideologies and their eliminationist rhetoric:
An Army veteran named Wade Michael Page walks into a Sikh temple and opens fire, killing six and wounding four
Two Tulsa men embark on a killing rampage targeting black people, killing three and wounding two
A group of Louisiana "sovereign citizens" kills two sheriff's deputies when they try to serve warrants
A Utah skinhead shoot six police officers, killing one, when they try to serve a warrant
A black man named Ray Lengend torches a Muslim mosque
An ex-convict tries to blow up a Wisconsin women's clinic because it performs abortions
We've also had a couple of unsuccessful plots broken up:
Seven members of a racist skinhead organization arrested for training to launch a terrorist race war
"FEAR" militia plot broken up when members are charged with murder of member and his 17-year-old girlfriend
Of course, the violence and terror emanating from right-wing extremism has not been limited merely to the United States. Easily the worst case in recent memory was that of Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing Islamophobe who massacred a school-camp full of children in Norway because they had been "polluted" by liberal education, and set off bombs in Oslo that killed more people.

Recall the eagerness with which media and right-wingers leapt to assume that this was a case of Islamist radicals. Instead, it turned out that Breivik was inspired by a bevy of right-wing American pundits who fueled his fanatical Islamophobia with their vicious smear attacks on Muslims.

And it is this same powerful impulse to scapegoat minorities, liberals, and the powerless that fuels the violence that spews forth on a regular basis from right-wing extremists:
Right-wing movements attract people who are likely to act out violently because they indulge so overtly and, in recent years, remorselessly in the politics of fear and loathing: indulging in eliminationist rhetoric, depicting their opposition as less than human, and aggressively attacking efforts to blunt the toxic effects of their politics as "political correctness" -- or, in the case of both Anders Breivik and Andrew Breitbart, "Cultural Marxism".
Scapegoating is, as Chip Berlet explains, "the social process whereby hostility and aggression of an angry and frustrated group are directed away from a rational explanation of a conflict and projected onto targets demonized by irrational claims of wrongdoing, so that the scapegoat bears the blame for causing the conflict, while the scapegoaters feel a sense of innocence and increased unity."
It just depends where on the very real spectrum of right-wing thought each happens to fall. You see, the reason they call these people right wing extremists is that they begin with simple, perhaps even mainstream, conservative positions and extend them to their most outrageous and illogical extreme.

Conservatives are, for instance, skeptical of the power of the federal government to intervene in civil-rights matters; right-wing extremists believe it has no such power whatsoever, but it has been usurped by a Jewish conspiracy that is imposing its will on white people.

Conservatives are skeptical of internationalism and entities like the United Nations. Right-wing extremists believe the U.N. represents a diabolical plot to overthrow American sovereignty and impose totalitarian rule.
Conservatives believe that abortion is murder of a living being and oppose its use on demand. Right-wing extremists believe that this justifies committing murder and various violent crimes in order to prevent it.
Conservatives believe affirmative action is a form of reverse discrimination. Right-wing extremists believe it is part of a plot to oppress white people.

Conservatives oppose taxation, and tax increases in particular, on principle. Right-wing extremists believe that the IRS is an illegitimate institution imposed on the body politic by the aforementioned Jewish conspiracy.

Conservatives oppose increased immigration on principle and illegal immigration as a matter of law enforcement, and believe the borders should be secure. Right-wing extremists believe that Mexicans are coming here as part of an "Aztlan" conspiracy to retake the Southwest for Mexico, and that we should start shooting border crossers on sight.

You get the idea.

Moreover, the claim that right-wing extremists have nothing to do with the Tea Party is just flatly risible. I have two simple words regarding that claim: Oath Keepers.

But the conspiracist Oath Keepers are hardly the only extremist element that has been absorbed within the ranks of the Tea Party. The list is long, but it's headed up by the Minutemen who have become Tea Party leaders. Moreover, as I explored in an investigative piece for AlterNet, the movement became a functional extension of the Patriot/militia movement in many precincts, especially in rural areas, away from the television crews. You can see the video for yourself below.

The Taxes Corporations Don't Pay

Would put 15 million Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, treat 10 million substance abusers thus eliminating the need for the war on terror, replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, expand Medicare to cover everybody in the country and get damn close to eliminating poverty.

From Firedoglake:

One “single tax break, for executive stock options” allowed Fortune 500 corporations to avoid paying $11.2 billion in income taxes in 2012. The top 25 benefiting during 2010-12:  Apple $3.2bn, Facebook $1.6bn, JP Morgan $1.1 bn, etc.
 Much more here.

Solve 90 Percent of Our Problems In One Stroke: Take the Rights of People Away From Corporations

Friday, May 10 is the 127th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad. If you don't understand why corporations - and their executives - get away with lying and stealing and killing when regular citizens have to go to prison, the answer is Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad. 

In that 1886 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals. Every anti-American, anti-democratic, anti-middle-class law, policy and decision favoring corporations since then derives from the travesty of Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad.

The Citizens United decision in 2010 that opened the floodgates for criminal billionaires to buy Congress, state legislatures and the presidency is only its latest destructive descendant.

Find out just what catastrophic damage to our economy, our living standards, our environment and our politics that decision has done by watching The Corporation in Lexington on May 11.

Central Kentucky Move to Amend will be showing the film The Corporation on Saturday May 11, 2:00 PM, at the Farish Theater in the Central Library, downtown Lexington.

The film explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Taking its status as a legal "person" to the logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist's couch to ask "What kind of person is it?" The Corporation includes interviews with 40 corporate insiders and critics - including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva and Michael Moore - plus true confessions, case studies and strategies for change.

To see the trailer, click here: https://movetoamend.org/toolkit/recommended-documentaries.
Admission is free, and it's open to the public! 
Move to Amend is also encouraging people
to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper for publication ahead of May 10, explaining the significance of that case to corporate control of our government, in fact, our lives.  If you'd like some tips on what to include, you can use information at movetoamend.org 
The U.S. Constitution opens with the Preamble, which begins:
We the People
 not "we the corporations."  Corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution, and there are very excellent reasons why.

Court: Kentucky Students Are Human Beings With Rights

Let's hope this is the first in a series of decisions that will put an end to the egregiously unconstitutional practice of slamming (primarily minority and disabled) kids into jail for the terroristic practices of talking back to teachers and throwing spitballs.

Andrew Wolfson at the Courier:

Kentucky students must be given Miranda warnings — that they have right to remain silent and to have a lawyer — if they are interviewed by principals with a school officer present, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In a 4-3 opinion that dissenting justices warned could endanger school safety, the court held that a statement from a Nelson County student who admitted giving two pills to another student must be suppressed because he was not read his rights first.
The case began in 2009 when a Nelson County High School teacher found an empty prescription pain pill bottle on a restroom floor with a student's name on it.

School officer Stephen Campbell, an armed deputy sheriff, and Nelson County assistant principal Mike Glass escorted the student to Glass’ office, where he was questioned with the door closed.

The student, identified only as N.C., admitted that he did “something stupid” — brought three pills from home because he'd had his wisdom teeth pulled and was in pain, and that he'd given two to another student.
Three pain pills? An armed deputy sheriff in the school? The fascistic treatment of a student who poses no threat at all is only the beginning of the problems at this school and all Kentucky schools.
  • That alleviating pain is a crime in Kentucky is turning thousands of law-abiding but suffering citizens into felons whose lives are destroyed because they sought pain relief..
  • I hope the parents of the first child killed by an armed deputy sheriff in the school - and I'm amazed NC wasn't the first - sues the school system, the principal, the school board members and the guntard state legislators for every dime they have and ever will have.
  • Speaking of lawsuits, NC's got a bunch of great ones. Sue every single one of the motherfuckers involved, kid, and don't forget to have your phony conviction overturned and your record scrubbed clean.

Corporate Terrorism, April 17, 2013: 15 Dead, 200 Wounded, Hundreds Homeless

Why are this company's executives not in jail charged with 14 counts of felony homicide?
Because it's Texas, where Bidness Rulz and the rest of you are disposable.

Waco Tribune, on the terror captured in 911 calls:
Less than five minutes after the first explosion call, dispatchers also knew West’s own emergency resources were severely hampered.

“Listen to me, my ambulance station just completely exploded,” a West EMS supervisor can be heard saying on one call. “I’ve got a nursing home and an ambulance station and an air evac. I need as many ... trucks as you can send this way.”

“The roof completely collapsed on the building. I’m doing a walk through now. I think we got everybody out,” he said. “I don’t have radio communications, I have lost my repeater.”

The blast left the city with one functioning ambulance.

An EMT training class was in the building that evening. The trainees already had passed their practical exam, so they left the class to go help, said Dr. George Smith, West EMS’s medical director.

Four of the 18 in that class died. “Every one of them were friends of mine,” Smith saiid.
Waco Tribune, on the plant's secret explosives:
He said ammonium nitrate can become highly explosive at the temperatures that might be found in a building fire, and it would be dangerous for firefighters to attack it at close range.

“I think if they had known there was (ammonium nitrate) fertilizer there, the best protocol was to get away,” he said.

Several volunteer firefighters still are missing after the explosion.
Yeah, they're dead, along with an off-duty captain from a professional fire department in Dallas.
West Fertilizer Co. owner Don Adair and general manager Ted Uptmore of West did not return calls Thursday. They were not injured in the blast
Of course they weren't. Which is why we have the death penalty.

Waco Tribune, on the damage:
Only three of 157 homes in West that were in the zone closest to the explosion site have been deemed safe by building inspectors, West City Council members were told Thursday.
 This. Is. A. Crime. Not an accident. Not an incident. Not the price we pay for abundant food.

A Crime. For which the company executives who lied to federal and state regulators about the danger the plant posed and the Texas state executives like Gov. Rick Perry who gutted the state regulatory system should pay with their lives.

After they cough up every dime they've ever made.

Voter ID is Suppression of Democratic Voters, Exhibit No. 8.392

Remember this when the GOP Supreme Court overturns the Voting Rights Act.

Think Progress:

At a social conservatives’ conference this week, Iowa’s Secretary of State argued that Republicans need to pass voter ID in order to advance their top policy goals, including banning abortion and same-sex marriage.
There’s a reason why Schultz couldn’t provide any evidence that people are using voter fraud at the polls to rig elections: None exists. In-person voter fraud is extraordinarily rare; a study in nearby Wisconsin found a fraud rate of 0.0002 percent, far less common than even being struck by lightning. Still, a dearth of actual voter fraud hasn’t stopped conservatives from using it as a phantom menace to gin up support for voter ID.

Schultz isn’t the only Republican official pushing voter ID as a means for enacting the Party’s policy goals. Indeed, because approximately 1 in 10 Americans — particularly young voters and minorities, groups who tend to vote Democratic — lack photo ID, a strict voter ID requirement would help Republicans win more elections. Last year, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai famously declared that voter ID would help Mitt Romney win the state of Pennsylvania. Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman similarly argued that voter ID would help put Romney over the edge “in a close race.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Now Shut the Fuck Up About "Big Labor"

It's outgunned in every measure by Big Corporation.

From Firedoglake:

Chart showing contributions by donor groups to Democrats and Republicans, 2011-2012.  Labor contributed $141,187,722, almost all to Democrats, while Finance/Insurance/Real Estate contributed $656,923,622, mostly to Republicans.

Punishing Anti-Gun Dissent

Shame on Harry Reid and Joe Biden for allowing this disgusting display of fascism. Silencing dissent is what authoritarians who can't make a winning argument have to do.  It's beneath a Democratic chamber in a democracy. But then, the Democrats don't really run the Senate, do they?

Think Progress:

“Shame on you!” Patricia Maisch and Lori Haas yelled in rapid succession at the 46 senators who had just voted to kill a compromise amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or online. The women were sitting in the gallery with a large group of gun violence victims as the Senate responded to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut by defeating the measure advocates and law enforcement officials consider crucial to keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

The pair has first-hand experience with the consequences of the broken system. In 2011, Maisch was hailed as a hero for disarming Tucson shooter Jared Loughner by preventing him from reloading a fresh magazine. Haas’ daughter Emily was shot twice during the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and survived, leading her to become a proponent of stronger gun regulations. But on Wednesday afternoon, the two women faced tighter scrutiny for interrupting a Senate proceeding than many individuals seeking to purchase guns.

As they left the Senate gallery, a police officer approached and asked them to follow him. The three walked downstairs to a public hallway, where they were peppered with questions: “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What are your Social Security numbers?” The officer left to run a background check on the women, who were instructed to sit on a bench. Another uniformed officer watched over them, even escorted Haas to the bathroom and told her she couldn’t lock the stall door.

Sitting there, waiting for the officer to return, Haas stewed over the failed vote. “I just can’t fathom that these people don’t have a heart,” she told ThinkProgress in a phone interview. “If they had seen, just one miniscule of the pain I’ve seen from the Virginia Tech families and so many other families that I’ve worked with in the last 6 years, they couldn’t help but want to do something about stoping gun violence.”

An hour and a half later, another law enforcement official approached and quizzed the the two women further. He asked them about their intentions and where they were from, why they were in D.C., how long they planned to stay and when they were leaving.

The entire ordeal stretched for almost two hours — approximately 115 minutes longer than a background check at a federal gun dealer. Haas noted the irony of undergoing hours of questioning while permitting gun purchases without any screening at gun shows or online.

“The irony is not lost on me and it’s not lost on the American public,” Haas said. “Very ironic that an hour and a half investigation into two women shouting in the Senate gallery takes place and yet real criminals and other prohibited purchasers get willy nilly access to fire arms.”

Why It's Pointless to Try to Work With Repugs

Because if you're not one of them, you're evil incarnate.

Steve M.:

You see, we can simultaneously believe that a person is guilty of horrible things and is also a human being. We can believe that a person is capable of decency and can lose his grip on the ability to be a decent human being.
And Limbaugh's inability to hold those two thoughts in his head at once tells us a great deal about American right-wing thinking in general.
Right-wingers can't regard Barack Obama merely as a guy with whom they have very strong disagreements. No -- he has to be the Antichrist. He has to be literally committed to the goal of destroying America. He has to intend the enslavement and impoverishment of the population. He has to intend the dismantling of the nation as it's existed for centuries. He has to be pure evil.
The same for the rest of non-conservative America -- we're all Hitler. The media is guilty of treason. The universities are disloyal. Hollywood wants to destroy the nation's foundations. Democrats in Congress are tools of Satan.
This is the conservative mind in our time. To them, everyone is either saved or damned. They don't acknowledge the existence of any point in the middle. This is why we can't work with these people.

When Obama Disappoints/Infuriates You Again - and You Know He Will - Read This

Think Progress:

The five living presidents will meet in Texas on Thursday to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. And while Bush and his aides are using the occasion to soften the 43 president’s image and solidify his legacy, a recounting of Bush-era policies — from his deregulation of Wall Street to the invasion of Iraq — greatly undermine the new rosy narrative of the Bush years:
Read the whole thing. Read it every time you wonder why the fuck you voted for Obama.

How Repugs Are Responsible for Kermit Gosnell's Torture Chamber

Abortion restrictions kill women.
Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money:
The key problem is not that the Ridge administration are pro-choice, but that they’re Republicans. The fact that Gosnell was allowed to continue to butcher women in spite of repeated complaints is what happens when a party committed to not enforcing safety regulations (especially if doing so might clash with powerful interests such as insurance companies) come into power. The proper comparison to Ridge’s Department of Health is George W. Bush’s FEMA. The Ridge government brought the same kind of lack of regulatory oversight national Republicans have long sought to bring to all health and safety issues. 
There is a bigger problem with the argument. Given the horrors of Gosnell’s clinic, why on earth would it be desirable to return to an era in which clinics like Gosnell’s were the only option? Taranto has an answer — of remarkable disingenuousness:
The grand jury’s report should also be seen as an indictment of America’s post-Roe abortion industry. Its indifference—at best—to legal limits made possible the deaths of untold numbers of babies, lending credence to the argument that legal abortion is a slippery slope to infanticide.
Meanwhile, the claim that Roe v. Wade made America safe from back-alley abortion stands exposed as a cruel hoax, and a deadly one for women and children alike.
This is all nonsense. What makes the Gosnell case so striking is precisely that it’s an outlier. In the post-Roe era abortion has become an extremely safe medical procedure, safer than childbirth. There’s no slippery slope, just the simple fact that abortion doctors (like any other kind of medical professional or business) are liable to threaten public safety when they are not subjected to basic regulatory oversight. The idea that because Roe v. Wade has not (because it cannot) entirely eliminated unethical practitioners we should therefore go back to an era in which all non-affluent women were compelled to seek abortions on entirely regulated black markets is utterly absurd.
 The only way to prevent more Kermit Gosnell's is Abortion. On. Demand. No questions, no restrictions, no charge. Preferably in hospitals.

KY Dems Ignore 2014, Set Sights on 2015

Conway proved in 2010 by losing to the Tribble-Toupeed One that he's a terrible candidate, but he's not stupid enough to run against McConnell.

Joseph Gerth at the Courier:

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said Wednesday “there’s a good chance” he will run for governor in 2015 and that he won’t “defer to anybody” when making his decision.

“I think I have enough statewide experience that I could go and talk about state issues, issues that are concerns all across the state as well as look out for Louisville’s interests,” Conway, who is in his second term as attorney general, said in an interview Wednesday with The Courier-Journal’s editorial board.

Conway, 43, has said for some time that he is considering the race, but he edged ever closer in the one-hour interview Wednesday, which was live-streamed on the newspaper’s website.


He also again stated that he would not attempt a run against U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., next year.
Yawn. Here's the real question: Does "won't defer to anybody" mean he knows Crit Luallen is not running for governor, or that he's willing to challenge her in a primary?

I still think Luallen is not going to run for governor. But what if she declared for U.S. Senate? There's Giffords and maybe Bloomberg money lining up against Mitch now, and Luallen's a sight tougher than Ashley Judd.

Luallen vs. McConnell would be one for the history books.

But this would be one for the comic books.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Giffords vs. McConnell

Go on, Mitch: attack Gabby Giffords. I dare ya.

Pema Levy at TPM:

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Gifffords (D-AZ) and her husband Mark Kelly to promote moderate gun control laws, will begin airing radio ads in Kentucky and New Hampshire Wednesday in order to hold Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) accountable for voting against background check legislation.

The New Hampshire ad attacks Ayotte for ignoring her constituents' support of background check legislation. The ad asks listeners to call Sen. Ayotte and will air in Concord, Manchester, Keene and Seacoast. The Kentucky ad targets women voters and will air in Lexington and Louisville. McConnell is up for re-election in 2014 and Ayotte in 2016.

The group is spending several hundred thousand dollars on the ads, which will run for two weeks, a spokesperson told TPM.

“As Gabby said last week, if we can’t keep our communities safer with the congress we have, we will work to change congress, “ said Pia Carusone, the group's executive director, said in a press release. “Senator McConnell and Senator Ayotte turned their backs on their constituents at home in order to do the bidding in Washington of the corporate gun lobby. We’re going to make sure their constituents know that, effective immediately.”
Here's the McConnell ad, called "Listen":

(Montage of News clips from Newtown of the shooting).
Announcer: We watched. We listened. We felt it. Newtown.

But Senator McConnell won’t listen to us.

Eighty-two percent of Kentuckians support universal background checks.

But Senator McConnell voted against them.

McConnell opposed common sense checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Written by a Republican and a Democrat. Supported by law enforcement officers. It was a common sense plan that protected Second Amendment Rights.

But Senator McConnell ignored the will of the people. Making our children and our families less save…. And putting the Washington special interests ahead of Kentucky… AGAIN.

Call Senator McConnell at 202-224-2541. And tell him to start listening to us, for a change.

Paid for by Americans for Responsible Solutions.
I can't wait to see what kind of attack ad is designed by the same McConnell staff chuckleheads who thought it was the height of campaign effectiveness to make fun of a 12-year-old girl's depression.

Rolling Jubilee of Debt Comes to Louisville

I have mixed feelings about the Rolling Jubilee:  while I absolutely support relieving non-rich people of ridiculous debt, I hate that the rapacious corporations who imposed the debt get paid off, even in pennies on the dollar.

Jere Downs at the Courier:

A New York-based nonprofit says it has bought up more than $1 million in medical debts owed by more than 1,000 people in the Louisville area, as part of a protest of the credit industry.

The Rolling Jubilee Fund, founded by Occupy Wall Street protesters, said it has forgiven the debts, which ranged from $25.50 to $8,790 so they no longer have to be paid.

“We believe that no one should have to go into debt for the basic things in our lives, like healthcare, housing and education,” said Thomas Gokey, the organization's vice president.

The goal of the project, which began last fall, is to “to buy and abolish personal debt,” said Gokey, who argues there is a double standard with debt — Wall Street banks that owe billions of dollars are bailed out, while “the same options are not available for the 99 percent.”

The Rolling Jubilee said it used donations from people sympathetic to their cause to purchase the debt, which was owed to local doctors and then sold on the credit market after the doctors were unable to collect. The group said it bought the debt from a debt broker and a collection agency in the Louisville area.
It's also counter-productive for the debt of the parasitic rich to get paid off by the tax dollars of the working class while the debt of the working class gets paid off by donations from their fellow workers. Workers get screwed three ways, while the motherfucking rich laugh all the way to the Caymans.

Our whole modern concept of debt is inhumane and self-destructive, as David Graeber explains in his book Debt: the First 5,000 Years.

Will Grimes Be This Round's Sacrifical Lamb to McConnell?

You'd think her Daddy at least would have noticed that the repug-lites Kentucky Democrats run against Mitch McConnell all suffer the same fate:  not just losing the election, but disappearing from politics forever thereafter.

Allison Lundergan Grimes has a bright future in Kentucky and maybe national politics, but only if she refuses to fall on her sword for the good ol' boys of the Kentucky "Democratic" Party.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

After a busy legislative session and a business trip to Taiwan, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is pondering whether to run for the U.S. Senate next year against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.

Grimes, a Democrat, said Tuesday she is "now going to take the time to reflect with my family, my supporters on how I can best continue to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky."

Grimes did not set a timetable for making a decision, saying only that she will "give it the due diligence it deserves."

Political observers differ on how quickly Grimes should decide.
Meanwhile, the pro-Mitch money continues to pile up.
A new, independent super PAC is being formed to help U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in his re-election bid next year.

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership announced Tuesday in an email that it is filing incorporation papers with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office.

"President Obama and his liberal allies know they can't achieve the rest of their big government agenda unless they take out Senator Mitch McConnell, and we will raise and spend whatever it takes to prevent that from happening," said Scott Jennings, the PAC's senior advisor, in a statement.

He said the group expects to set spending records for an independent political action committee.
No, there's no chance at all this is the repug version of the anti-McConnell stumblebums who set progressive politics in Kentucky back a century.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/04/23/2612570/new-group-formed-to-support-mcconnells.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/04/23/2612079/grimes-still-pondering-a-run-against.html#storylink=cpy

The Real Existential Threat to America

With apologies for stealing almost the entire thing, but it's too important to excerpt.  You should be reading the Rude Pundit every day anyway,.

The Rude Pundit:

The Boston Distraction: Republicans Are More of a Threat to America Than Bombers:
There's something that's been deeply bugging the Rude Pundit lately in the wake of the continued, seemingly unstoppable Republican obstructionism in the Senate (and leaving aside whatever the hell goes on in the House, which has just become a stage for a weird psychodrama between John Boehner and the wacko right-wingers). By making the threshold for any bill 60 votes, a pretty hard mark even in times of comity and genuine compromise, the Republicans have declared that the minority backseat drives the Senate. Now, if Republicans take back the Senate in 2014, and assuming they don't knock down the filibuster rules, Democrats will be able to do the same, and, even if they can't, President Obama could still veto.

So Republicans have said, through their actions, that the only way the federal government can function is if they rule it. All of it. This is not a blithe assertion. Even when bills are crafted in a way to make the GOP happy (like the background check legislation or, going back to 2009, the bank bailout), even when they are in the room writing the damn things, even when they get to propose a bunch of amendments, they filibuster or threaten to vote them down. And don't get them started on Obama's judicial and other nominees.

While any party wants to have total control of the processes of government, the periods of that are rare (and Democrats can thank enormous piece of shit Senator Max Baucus, among others, for blowing the 2009-2010 shot at it. Baucus should be pantsed, spanked bloody, and forced into the streets of DC as his retirement send-off). But it's something else entirely for one party to assert that they will not allow government to function unless they are in charge. That is new. That is insidious. That is frightening. And it is more of a threat to the United States than a dozen Bostons.

The Boston Marathon Bombing is not that significant an event. Unless you're a victim, it's just not. The West, Texas chemical plant explosion is far more important to our personal security. But not Boston. It's not 9/11. It's not Oklahoma City. It's not Sandy Hook. It's a crime that has been solved. With few loose ends, it is already over. But the GOP just absorbed it into their bloodstream, using it as an inoculation against doing anything, on guns and, ultimately, on immigration. Goddamn, how jubilant Republicans must have been, inside, yes, for the most part, when it happened so that they could bray and point and say, "Look, look, Obama can't keep us safe." Christ, the 2014 ads that'll say, in essence, "Come back, come back to our savage conservative arms and we will protect you." But until they are voted back in, with a supermajority in the Senate, they will simply not allow the nation to move from an enforced stasis.

We are their hostages. Their price is our capitulation

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Privatizing the Stuff of Life

You can live without almost all the formerly public goods that Big Corporation now demands you pay them for: electricity, transportation, phone service, television/internet, consumer goods and even education.

You can't live without water and air. Now the motherfuckers want to find out how much you're willing to pay for the privilege of living another day.
Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars:
Amidst the fast and furious tweets of often contradictory information regarding the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber, this little gem caught my eye: "Nestlé CEO wants to privatize water". Now at first I thought that the headline was merely a grabber to talk about the booming bottled water industry, but then I watched the video and realized, no this guy really thinks that it is a great virtue to be able to privatize water in the future.
Activists accuse Nestlé, the leading seller of bottled water – which accounted for nearly 8% of its total 2011 sales of 83.6bn Swiss francs (£58bn) – of being more interested in lining its own pockets through a back-door privatisation of countries' water supplies, than in saving the planet.
Last year, a documentary film, Bottled Life, accused Nestlé of extracting ground water for its bottled brands at the expense of local communities, often in poor countries. While the company refused to take part in the film, it did post online a rebuttal of the allegations.
There's no question that global climate change and the population boom has resulted in vital resources like water being in short supply. But listen to this guy fly his Ayn Rand freak flag and ask yourself, does this sound like he's interested in protecting a resource for impoverished populations or looking to make a buck?
How long before they start charging for air?

The Cowardly Tribble

Has anybody tried just walking up to these cowards and shouting "Boo!"?  Because they're that afraid of their own shadows.

Digby, on Rand Paul begging Harry Reid to protect him from the scary white boyz with funny names.

The principled libertarian Rand Paul wets his pants

For anyone who ever expects the allegedly principled libertarian Rand Paul to be anything more than an ephemeral civil liberties ally to be used for your own purposes and nothing else, here he is in all his glory, letting his little white slip show once again:


This is what "liberty" looks like to the poster boy for libertarian freedom. Funny, it looks very much like a standard issue, right wing, pants-wetting, panic artist to me. They all seem to believe that we will be so much freer if only we allow the authorities more "freedom" to decide who does and doesn't hate us for our "freedom" and make sure they don't get into our "free" country. Because that's totally doable.

Meanwhile, freedom loving Americans must be "free" to buy as many guns as they want, no matter the carnage gun violence causes. That's the American way. Because they're fighting tyranny. You know, like when the government uses "biometrics" to track people.

We have lost our bearings again (if we ever had them.) And sadly, I'm going to guess we've lost our chance at an immigration reform for the time being. Clearly, the Republican party has lost its nerve. And the Democrats never had much to begin with. I'm sure everyone's relieved.

Your Repug Public Servant

First, he denies you the information you need to live your life freely and safetly, then he denies your right to say anything about it.
Laura Conaway at Maddowblog:
North Carolina State Senator Tommy Tucker wants to let local governments out of the requirement that they publish legal notices about important government decisions -- like planning a sewage treatment plant by your house, for instance.

The Charlotte Observer reports that after Tucker jammed his bill through committee, he told a newspaper publisher, "I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet."

The paper also notes that Tucker's proposal may be too much for his fellow Republicans, who now have unilateral control in North Carolina. Several of them are pushing the opposite kind of bill, one that would make it easier for governments to publish notices in the local paper.

(H/t Jim Romenesko)
If you've ever been to a meeting of your local county or city commission, you know this attitude - if not behavior this blatant - is common.

The only response is this:

"Wrong.  I am the citizen and you are the public servant.  You work for me."


"What are you hiding?"

Monday, April 22, 2013

The NRA's Personal Responsibility for the Murdered MIT Police Officer

Let's make it simple: if a corporation or organization is enough of a constitutional "person" to exercise free speech and the right to buy the Congress of its choice, then it's enough of a constitutional "person" to get its executives thrown in prison for murder.

Down with Tyranny:

The inability to quickly track the gunpowders in the Boston bombs is due to government policy designed and promoted by the NRA, which has found a way to transform every massacre associated with weapons into an opportunity for the munitions companies that sustain it to sell more guns, gunpowder and bullets.

The price for such delays was put on terrible display Friday morning when the two brothers, who had been caught on video placing the bombs, killed one police officer, wounded another and carjacked a motorist, creating conditions so unsafe that the 7th largest population center in America spent Friday on lockdown.

But for the NRA-backed policy of not putting identifiers known as taggants in gunpowder, law enforcement could have quickly identified the explosives used to make the bombs, tracking them from manufacture to retail sale. That could well have saved the life of Sean Collier, the 26-year-old MIT police officer who was gunned down Thursday night by the fleeing bomb suspects.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Are We Invading Russia?


And unless we need "intelligence" because we are getting ready to invade Russia to stamp out the Chechnyan threat to America (and no, I wouldn't completely rule it out) I'm going to guess that we can keep the babies safe and still follow the constitution in this case.
This person is charged with committing a heinous crime on American soil which means this really is not complicated at all.  The bill of rights clearly applies along with all other protections accorded to criminal suspects under the constitution. It shouldn't even be a question. And the fact that it is means we still have a long way to go shake off our panic and infantile retreat to authoritarian illusions of "safety" after 9/11. I'm afraid if we don't do it soon we won't ever be able to.

Gitmo Stupidity

The torture-lovers are hiding under the bed, demanding that the Boston bombing suspect be gitmo-ized asap. Digby has some pertinent thoughts.

The one thing this suspect has going for him is that he's a legitimately naturalized citizen which, while it should have no bearing on anything (the constitution applies to everyone on American soil), which means that while they can throw him in prison indefinitely under section 1021, they cannot try him by military tribunal. They still need to be mindful of the normal rule of law, even if he's called an "enemy combatant" (a term that has no legal meaning --- the Obama administration doesn't use it) if they hope to have a trial and a resolution. So, we live in hope.

On the other hand, he does have a ferrin sounding name and he wan't born here --- and the national security psycho caucus obviously doesn't find the fact of his citizenship to be a hindrance, so who knows?

This is going to be a big test of the Obama administration. I'm fervently hoping they do the right thing here. Their early endorsement of an indefinite detention policy is worrisome, but I'm hopeful they wil understand that they simply must come down on the right side of this one for the sake of out constitutional foundation.
Someday, when historians study the long-gone American empire, they are going to identify the point at which the American Experiment when totally, irrevocably wrong: Guantanamo detention.

Kevin Drum:
Marcy Wheeler tweets:
I'd really love some pollster to figure how what % of Americans know how many Gitmo detainees have been cleared for release.
I believe the answer is about 40 percent—but, like Marcy, I doubt that many people know this. Her tweet was prompted by an op-ed (laste week) in the New York Times by Samil Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a Yemeni hunger striker at Guantanamo who is being force fed:
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial…The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense…I do not want to die here, but until President Obama and Yemen’s president do something, that is what I risk every day.
Where is my government? I will submit to any “security measures” they want in order to go home, even though they are totally unnecessary.
Yemen's previous administration prevented the release of many detainees by demanding enormous payments from the US before it would accept them. The current administration has changed course, and has requested that all Yemeni nationals be repatriated to Sana'a. But now it's the U.S. that refuses to deal.

Some detainees are tougher to deal with than others. But those who have already been cleared for release, and which Yemen is willing to accept, should be the easiest. Moqbel might or might not fall into this category (his status is unclear), but there are at least a couple dozen Yemenis who do. Obama should let them go.
 Especially since it turns out that the bad guys in the warren terra is us.

But holding torturers accountable is a violation of the Constitution.

Mitchie-Poo and The Tribble-Toupeed Do Earth Day, Repug Style

A fertilizer plant?  Five days after one exploded, killed 12 people, injured 200 and flattened a town?  Really?

Why don't you just pour arsenic into Louisville's water supply?

James Bruggers at the Courier:

Kentucky’s two senators will observe Earth Day Monday by helping to open a $13 million sulfur fertilizer manufacturing facility at LG&E’s Mill Creek power plant, LG&E and KU Energy said Friday.
LG&E claims this plant is "green" because it supposedly turns waste from coal-burning electric plants into fertilizer, but it's just another iteration of the long-debunked "clean coal" myth.
Some may question taking coal-combustion byproducts that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering regulating like hazardous waste and turning them into a fertilizer for crops such as corn and wheat.
Like the bumper sticker says:  "Clean coal is like dry water."

SUL4R-PLUS soil amendment: the next best thing to sprinkling coal dust on your breakfast cereal.

Your No-Abortion Future

This is what it will look like.

PZ Myers:

El Salvador has an absolute prohibition on all abortions — they can’t even be done to save the life of the mother (it’s a very Catholic country, are you surprised?) Now a situation has made the news that exposes the villainy of that policy. 
A young woman named Beatriz is petitioning El Salvador’s supreme court to be allowed to get an abortion
Why? There’s a couple of really good reasons.

The four-month fetus is acephalic — no brain has formed. It’s doomed. It will never be viable. At best, it will be born, live a few days as a vegetable on life support, and die.

The mother is suffering from complications from lupus and kidney disease. The fetus won’t even get to the point of being born — the mother will be killed by this pregnancy first.

The heartless, amoral, religiously-based rules of that society are condemning this woman to death. In addition, if any doctor honors their Hippocratic oath and helps her live, they can be prosecuted and sentenced to long terms in prison for it.

Beatriz has been refused a necessary and simple medical procedure because the demented fuckwits of the Catholic Church have prioritized dogma over human life. She has to beg authorities, right up to the highest levels of government, for the right to live.

All because some old assholes believe god has told them that the dying lump of meat in her belly is more precious than a woman’s life.
 Because of course the point is not saving embryos, and certainly not saving women's lives.  The point is maintaining control over women and sex.

Regardless of who dies.

Seriously, Kermit Gosnell is not as bad as this.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Just Cops Was All It Needed, and Just Cops Was All It Took

Not Terrorists.  Criminals.  Not Supervillains.  Criminals.  Not Existential Threats.  Criminals.

Charlie Pierce, who was there:

The one thing we should all remember about this is that it was always a police action. There was no need for Patriot Acts, or for warrantless wiretapping, or for "enhanced interrogation techniques," or for anything else out that bag of horrors the previous administration filled so fatly after the attacks of 9/11. The waterboard was left in the closet. This was cops being cops, albeit with some fairly impressive modern-day technology. (I didn't know police helicopters had thermal-imaging capabilities. I will now respect more those signs in New Hampshire that say, "Speed Monitored by Aircraft.") There has been grinding forensic work ever since the bombs went off. There was all that basic shoe-leather detective work yesterday, house after house, block after block. And that's not even to get into the horrific events of Thursday night, which nonetheless did not require a military response. Just cops being cops.

And now there should be a trial. And not just a trial, but the greatest, fairest trial in the history of trials. The defendant should get the best possible legal assistance money can buy. The "public safety exception" to Miranda should be allowed to expire. He should get the best jury we can empanel and, if we have to move the trial to Guam on account of pre-trial publicity, then godspeed. And then he should be tried and, if convicted, in the greatest, fairest trial in history, he should get shipped off forever to federal prison, never to be heard from again. We should ignore all the predictable howling from John McCain, and from his maiden aunt, Lindsey Graham. This guy is accused of being a multiple murderer. He committed his crimes against the people of Suffolk and Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts. These were not acts of war. They were crimes, more garish than most. This was a day for cops, not for grandstanding celebrity politicians who were not here this week.