Saturday, August 31, 2013

Even Worse Than It Sounds

From Firedoglake:

A Yellowstone County, MT district judge sentenced a former high school teacher “convicted of raping a 14-year-old female student who later committed suicide” to 30 days in jail.
Guaranteed this 10-year-old will get far, far more than 30 days in prison.

Betcha can't guess the respective races of the teacher and the 10-year-old.

Protector of Water Polluters Beshear Cynically Declares "Protect Your Groundwater Day"

It's a testament to the blindness/stupidity/corruption of Kentucky's supposed guardians of clean drinking water that they insist the greatest threat to groundwater wells in Kentucky is human excrement.

Mention a "straight pipe" going from someone's rural toilet directly into a nearby stream and they call out the cavalry and start issuing citations left, right and center.

But mention the massive, widespread poisoning of freshwater mountain streams by mountaintop removal coal mining, and they yawn.

Or point out the danger to the Kentucky River - which provides drinking water to millions of Kentuckians - of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline, and Beshear dismisses it as unimportant. Or rather less important than the legal fees flowing from the pipeline company to his son's law firm.

From the press release:

Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed Sept. 10 as Protect Your Groundwater Day in Kentucky to help bring attention to the importance of groundwater to our communities and the need to protect this vital natural resource.

In signing the proclamation, the governor called upon Kentuckians to “help protect our source waters from pollution, to practice water conservation and to get involved in local water issues.”

Groundwater is a valuable resource for industry, commerce, agriculture and, most importantly, drinking water. In Kentucky, 2 million people rely on groundwater from wells and springs for their drinking water.

One way citizens can help protect their groundwater source is through proper water well maintenance, said DOW geologist Rob Blair.

“When we follow up on complaints about problems with private wells, the solution is usually related to well maintenance,” said Blair. “It helps to think about your well as you would your car – you’re better off performing routine maintenance rather than waiting until something goes wrong. It’s the same with wells – they need regular attention.”

Blair added that well users are often unaware of basic well maintenance needs – a problem his agency will address with a special Protect Your Groundwater Day to be held Sept. 10 at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Ky.

DOW is inviting the public to learn the basics of well maintenance at a hands-on demonstration to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in the parking lot of Appalshop, located at 91 Madison Ave.  A mock-up well and plumbing system complete with running water will illustrate the parts of a well, the pump and the piping, while DOW groundwater experts demonstrate the methods for proper cleaning and maintenance. The event is free and open to the public.

Blair said wells should be checked annually.

“If you are a well owner, inspect your well annually and disinfect it to prevent problems from arising,” said Blair.  “An annual checkup by a qualified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water. Preventive maintenance is usually less costly than emergency maintenance and it can prolong the life of your well and related equipment.”
The Kentucky Division of Water coordinates several programs aimed at protecting the Commonwealth’s groundwater. The Groundwater Protection Program requires the development and implementation of a protection plan by anyone conducting activities that have the potential to pollute groundwater. The Wellhead Protection Program requires public water supplies relying on groundwater to delineate the recharge area of the well or spring from which it draws its water, identify potential contaminant sources in this area and implement groundwater protection strategies for these areas. Additionally, the Drillers Certification Program regulates the construction of water wells.

"So that everyone who works hard in America has a chance to get ahead"

Right now, Mr. President, it's the ones who work hard in America who are not getting ahead.

Full transcript here.

The Solution to Everythiing?

It's very damn close to way too good to be true.  But if it is true, ExxonMobil and Monsanto will stop at nothing - up to and incuding taking over nations - to stop it.

From the Independent:

A GROUNDBREAKING new Irish technology which could be the greatest breakthrough in agriculture since the plough is set to change the face of modern farming forever.

The technology – radio wave energised water – massively increases the output of vegetables and fruits by up to 30 per cent.

Not only are the plants much bigger but they are largely disease-resistant, meaning huge savings in expensive fertilisers and harmful pesticides.

Extensively tested in Ireland and several other countries, the inexpensive water treatment technology is now being rolled out across the world. The technology makes GM obsolete and also addresses the whole global warming fear that there is too much carbon dioxide in the air, by simply converting excess CO2 into edible plant mass.
Obviously, this puts Monsanto out of the seed-monopolizing business.  But why should ExxonMobil and the rest of the fossil fuel industry hate and fear super water? A CO2-eating substance might take the pressure off CO2-producing fossil fuels.

Answer: most oil drilled out of the earth goes not for fuel but for petroleum-based products like everything plastic and - most of all - chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

Super water frees farming from its 70-year dependence on petroleum-based additives and deals a mortal blow to fossil fuels.

If it really works.  And if the inventors can prevent Exxon-Mobil and Monsanto from buying up the patent and either burying it or charging their usual bankrupting prices for it.
In recognition of the groundbreaking technology, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London, recently took the hitherto unheard-of step of granting Professor Austin Darragh and his team the right to use their official centuries-old coat of arms on the new technology – the first time ever that Kew Gardens has afforded anyone such an honour.

The Kew Gardens botanists were not just impressed with the research; they used the technology to restore to life a very rare orchid which had been lying dormant and practically dead in a greenhouse bell jar since 1942. Amazingly, the orchid is now flourishing once again.

Intriguingly, chickens and sheep fed the energised water turned into giants. . . but that's another story!

Limerick University off- campus company ZPM Europe Ltd, who are based in the National Technology Park, Limerick, is now manufacturing the Vi-Aqua technology.

Friday, August 30, 2013

"Easier" Abortions? Why Not Free, On Demand and Without Apology?

First, the good news, from Digby:

Well, just the ones in the California State Senate. Look at what they've gone and done now:

It would be easier for California women to get abortions under a bill the state Senate approved (this week).

Assembly Bill 154 expands the types of medical providers that can offer abortions by allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The bill by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, cleared the Senate on a vote of 25-11. Supporters, all Democrats, argued that the policy is necessary because remote parts of California do not have many doctors, requiring women who seek an abortion to travel for hours.

"The growing shortage of abortion providers creates a significant barrier for women," said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.

Opponents, mostly Republicans, said the proposal puts women at risk.

"It is a leveling down of health care for women," said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber. "The individuals here do not have the training, do not have the experience.... that doctors do."
Yes, it's all about the women getting the proper professional care. That's why the right wingers want to send them those medical voodoo operations knows as "crisis pregnancy centers" where their heads will be filled with nonsense about how they're going to die of cancer from an abortion.

It's refreshing to see that in one state they are actually trying to see that women can exercise their constitutional and universal human rights by expanding access not restricting it. Who knows if it will pass, but it's great to see it in the mix. This is sorely needed everywhere and maybe the old saw "where California goes, so goes the nation" is back in style.

That's a tiny step finally in the right direction, but Jessica Valenti finally promotes the real goal:
When did so many feminists get polite on abortion? I cannot take hearing another pundit insist that only a small percentage of Planned Parenthood’s work is providing abortions or that some women need birth control for “medical” reasons. Tiptoeing around the issue is exhausting, and it’s certainly not doing women any favors.

It’s time resuscitate the old rallying cry for “free abortions on demand without apology.” It may not be a popular message but it’s absolutely necessary. After all, the opposition doesn’t have nearly as many caveats. They’re fighting for earlier and earlier bans on abortions, pushing for no exceptions for rape and incest, fighting against birth control coverage—even insisting that they have the right to threaten abortion providers. The all-out strategy is working; since 2010, more than fifty abortion clinics have stopped providing services.

The anti-choice movement isn’t pulling any punches—why should we?

This may be the outcome of 2012’s “war on women”: messaging that mobilized voters, got mainstream media coverage and put reproductive rights at the center the national conversation. But efforts to appeal to all often meant framing reproductive rights issues in the most palatable way possible: by shying away from wholeheartedly supporting comprehensive abortion access.


Too many of us—especially those with access and power to the mainstream—have become convinced that public funding for abortions will never happen. But Hyde is only a given if we refuse to take it on. All feminists should be taking a cue from the work that reproductive justice organizations and activists have been doing for so long—centering the most marginalized.

“Free abortions on demand without apology” is a call for equal access to a constitutional right. More importantly, it’s a promise that feminists won’t ignore the needs of all women in favor of tailoring messages to the mainstream. Because being pro-choice means doing what’s right, not what’s popular.

Comer Races to Declare Kentucky Hemp DOJ-Approved

Not sure the feds agree, and whatever happened to the "hemp is not pot" argument, but you gotta admit there are no flies on this guy.

In a landmark ruling, the Justice Department has reversed its policy and will honor state laws regarding regulated marijuana sales, Department officials said late Thursday. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a national leader in the industrial hemp movement, believes the ruling includes the production of industrial hemp, and issued the following statement:

“It’s about time! This is a major victory for Kentucky’s farmers and for all Kentuckians. Two years ago, the Obama administration would not even discuss the legalization of industrial hemp,” Comer said. “But through a bi-partisan coalition of Kentucky leaders, we forced their hand. We refused to listen to the naysayers, passed a hemp bill by a landslide, and our state is now on the forefront of an exciting new industry. That’s called leadership.”

Comer said the passage of Senate Bill 50, the industrial hemp bill spearheaded by Comer and sponsored by state Sen. Paul Hornback, was key to ensuring that Kentucky was ready to move when this ruling was issued.

“Had we not passed the framework to responsibly administer a program, we would be lagging behind right now rather than leading the pack,” Comer said. “I am so grateful to our federal delegation for its support, especially Sen. Rand Paul and Congressmen John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie, who courageously testified in support of this job-creating legislation.”

Comer said that Brian Furnish, chairman of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, has called a meeting of the group for Sept. 12, 2013 at 10 a.m. EDT. Both Comer and Furnish will urge the Commission to move forward with the administrative framework established by SB 50.

“My hope is that we can issue licenses and get industrial hemp in the ground within a year,” Furnish said.
Kentucky Democratic candidates with gubernatorial ambitions better get in racing shape, because Comer's already rounding the first turn for 2015 and heading for the homestretch.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bombing Syria: So Much Worse Than Just Stupid

Every Congress Critter sends emails begging for money. A few send emails that contain useful information along with the begging for money. One sends emails that - along with the begging for money - inspire you to get out and do things to make a real difference.

Alan Grayson:

Bombing Syria is a bad idea. If you agree, sign our petition at

A possible U.S. attack on Syria is in the news, and on people's minds today. Here is what Congressman Alan Grayson had to say about it, in an interview on national radio this morning:

Ari Rabin-Havt: I am very pleased to welcome, to the program, Congressman Alan Grayson. Congressman Grayson, welcome back to The Agenda.

Congressman Alan Grayson: Thanks very much.

Ari: So just to be very general about it, what are your thoughts on what seems like the imminent conflict in Syria at this point?

Alan: Well, I'm against it.

Ari: Do you feel like the President needs to come to Congress? What do you feel like the conversation needs to be? Does the President need to - well, he doesn't need to - but should he go to Congress for permission, basically?

Alan: I don't think that's the more important question. I think the more important question is whether this is the right decision on the merits, and it's not.

Ari: Why not?

Alan: Because there is no vital national security interest of the United States involved, even if the Syrian government is proved to have deliberately used chemical weapons. Which is, at this point, a big "if".

Ari: What do you think this rush, and the media's kind of push to war, is all about?

Alan: Well, I think the President inadvertently boxed himself in by using a very vague phrase, in saying that the Syrian Government would be "crossing a red line" if it used chemical weapons. I don't know what that means. You know, in the world I live in, you can say, "If you do X, I'll do Y," but "crossing a red line" is a very vague remark. And now the President apparently feels that based on the evidence he's heard, which I still maintain is ambiguous, he needs to do something. And that's one of the failings of modern diplomacy. The world would be a much better place if people were clear about their intentions, rather than saying something like "crossing a red line."

Ari: Now it seems odd that we turn our national security focus to Syria, and recognizing chemical weapons is a unique [threat], when there are so many hotspots around the world. What is it about chemical weapons that get this conversation going, when millions of people around the world are dying of various causes?

Alan: Well, I don't know. To me, a corpse is a corpse. I don't want to sound flip, but when you're dead, you're dead. In this case, the 200 or so people who [are] alleged to have been killed by chemical weapons, on very ambiguous information, those 200 people join the 40,000 who died in the Syrian Civil War last year, the roughly 25,000 who died this year, and the ones who died the year before. That's a lot of corpses. I don't really understand exactly why people regard it as being different if you blow up someone with a bomb, versus killing them with gas. Historically, the reason why countries banded together to prevent the use of gas attacks is because, among other things, it ended up being used inadvertently against your own troops. The first widespread use of chemical warfare, in fact the only really widespread use of chemical warfare, was during World War I, almost 100 years ago. And what happened during World War I is, first of all, many of the gas attacks that were used ended up blinding or killing the troops that they were meant to protect, because the wind changed. And secondly, there was a very high level of injury without mortality, which left a lot of soldiers and civilians blind or otherwise permanently impaired. This, at the time, was in some respects worse than being dead. So, historically, that's why countries banded together [against poison gas]. At this point, the evidence seems to be that there are only four countries in the world that have chemical weapons, and we happen to be one of them. In fact, arguably, the United States has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world. So on the basis of that, I'm not sure we're in the best moral position to be indicating to others what to do about chemical weapons.

Ari: And what about other weapons we have in our stockpile? For example, depleted uranium ammunition?

Alan: Yes, I mean, the examples can go on and on about weapons that are generally regarded as abhorrent, that are still employed by the military-industrial complex in the United States. For example, that would be land mines. Another example of that would be cluster bombs. I mean, it's really not my desire to indict the military-industrial complex. For the purpose of this interview, I do think that unless there is absolutely unequivocal evidence that the Syrian military deliberately used these weapons, I don't even know why we are having this conversation. And if we did have this conversation on that basis, then I think I would have to come back to the question of, where is the vital interest of the United States? When it comes to intervening in yet another country, can't we just finish our wars? Why do we have to start new ones, before we [even] end the old ones? It seems really odd to me; I don't know.

Ari: Well, it seems like we can't wind down anything without starting a new one up.

Alan: Right, and you know that there could be consequences, or as they like to use the term in the military industrial complex, "blowback." Let's suppose that the President goes ahead and uses military forces in Syria. Then let's suppose that Syria stages some attack against, oh, I don't know, U.S. tourists, journalists; I don't know what exactly the best possibilities from their perspective might be. How are we then going to condemn them for that?

Ari: Well what is strange to me is the people who seem that think that this decision is easy, "Oh, we'll just lob some cruise missiles and be done with it." When in fact the author of that strategy was interviewed by today and said that's not a good strategy for dealing with this -- the very author of the strategy.

Alan: Well, right. Some people scratch their heads and wonder why we have to shut down a dozen different embassies through the Middle East, without ever questioning whether there might be some link between that and over a hundred drone attacks in Yemen alone.

Ari: And then you get people like John McCain who are out there saying, "Well, whatever the President does, it's not enough, we have to do more." Why can't we stop - after the debacle that was Iraq? And, look, you have personal experience in that debacle; you prosecuted some of the war profiteers in court. Why do we still listen to these people?

Alan: I don't know. Again, one could make arguments in favor of and against whether the United States should somehow be involved in the Syrian Civil War. I can see that, and I can understand why McCain feels the way he does. He thinks that the [rebels are] freedom fighters [against] a brutal dictatorship. I understand that. But what's actually happened is, first, an enormous amount of muddy thinking about what U.S. interests are involved here or not involved here. And that's been framed by the President making a very vague statement about red lines being crossed, which really doesn't help anybody decide what to do about the situation. And secondly, when you actually delve into the evidence, the evidence is genuinely ambiguous. I'll just give you an example. One example of this is that if, hypothetically, the Syrian government wanted to terrorize its own population into submission, it would say that it was using gas. In fact, the Syrian government has adamantly denied that it's using gas. There's no particular benefit to the Syrian government in killing these specific 200 victims. In fact, the victims, to some degree, look like they're literally innocent bystanders. The reason why people think that gas might have been used is because there's no indication of any exterior wounds, so it looks like they suffocated. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they were the victims of a gas attack. There are, in fact, other possibilities. Another possibility is that the [Syrian Army] simply made a mistake. They loaded the wrong canister into the wrong cannon, and that happens. If they wanted to use poison gas, they'd be using it every day, they'd be using it every hour, and they wouldn't be hiding it. And instead what you have, at this point, [is an] isolated situation which has all sorts of other potential explanations. It doesn't seem to serve any strategic purpose on their part to do one attack against these 200 people and then say they didn't do it, that it was something else, and then not doing anything else. That's a very strange pattern of conduct, even for the Syrian government. Second, as I indicated, there are other explanations that actually fit the evidence as well, or better. When you use chemical warfare agents, the victims themselves are dangerous to the people around them, because of the residue of the chemical agents, for quite some time to come. There have been, at this point, numerous contacts between the victims and people who came to rescue them. I'm not aware of reports at this time that there were a substantial number of the rescuers who themselves were hurt by the agents. That implies that it wasn't actually chemical agents that were used. By the way, I haven't heard any of these reports from the Administration, and that itself causes me some concern. It seems the Administration is only putting out information that would lead one to believe that the Syrian government deliberately used chemical weapons, rather than what seems to be the intrinsic ambiguity of the situation. I think that's puzzling and, to me, disturbing.

Ari: Have you been in touch with any members of the Progressive Caucus about any type of action on behalf of Members of Congress who are opposing - would oppose a military action?

Alan: I understand [Rep.] Barbara Lee is circulating a letter. The letter doesn't oppose military action, but it does call for consultations with Congress beforehand.

Ari: Well, one can hope there can be some breath before we get involved in yet another war, because these things are never as simple as those promoting them would like them to be.

Alan: You know, one thing that is perfectly clear to me in my district, and I think is true in many other districts from speaking to other members, is that there is no desire, no desire, on the part of the American People to be the world's policeman and for us to pick up this gauntlet, even on the basis of unequivocal evidence of chemical warfare by the Syrian Army deliberately against its own people. Even if there are unequivocal evidence of that, that's just not what people in my district want. I take the title of Representative seriously. I listen to people. I hear what they have to say. At a time when we are cutting veterans benefits, cutting education student loans, cutting school budgets, contemplating cutting Social Security and Medicare, I don't see how we can justify spending billions of dollars on an attack like this. I did notice, for what it's worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run on their stock value in the past 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days, as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria has become more and more likely. So I understand that there's a certain element of our society who does benefit from this, but they're not the people who vote for me, nor the people, by the way, who contribute to my campaign [laughs].

Ari: Not many Raytheon shareholders in your district?

Alan: Right. Nobody wants this, except the military-industrial complex. I think that, if the President is being used by others for their own personal interests, he should recognize that, and rise above it.

Ari: Congressman Grayson, thank you so much for joining us today on The Agenda, and giving us your perspective on this.

Alan: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

Congressman Alan Grayson - telling it like it is. Someone sure needs to.

Sign our petition at

After the Dream, the Fight Goes On

On the spot where 150 years ago resistant slaves were sold south to die in the fever swamps and cane fields, 300 gathered last night to honor the continuing fight for freedom. 

Jim Warren at the Herald:

Lexingtonians black and white, young and old, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March For Jobs and Freedom on Wednesday night, building on the excitement of a huge celebration in Washington earlier in the day.

While the event at Courthouse Square in downtown Lexington couldn't match the size and drama of the remembrance in Washington, the sense of history and promise in local memories of the march and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech carried its own significance.

The Rev. Norman Fischer, parish priest at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, energized the Lexington crowd by leading the chant "I Am The Dream."

Anthony Wright, Stan Shelby, Jonathan Lott and Halden Hunt, all seventh-graders from Lexington's Carter G. Woodson Academy who were born decades after the march and King's speech, read vivid essays that they wrote celebrating both.
Kudos to U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes as well as Mayor Jim Gray for attending and addressing the gathering. Senator Mitch McConnell rejected President Obama's invitation to speak at the Washington event earlier.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Unfortunately, Not a Commie: President Obama on the 50th Anniversary

Two facts: In 1963, the minimum wage was higher, counting inflation, than it is today. And not one single repug invited to speak today accepted.

No video yet on, what the fuck?   Video!

Here's the transcript:

Lincoln Memorial

3:07 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  To the King family, who have sacrificed and inspired so much; to President Clinton; President Carter; Vice President Biden and Jill; fellow Americans.

Five decades ago today, Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In 1963, almost 200 years after those words were set to paper, a full century after a great war was fought and emancipation proclaimed, that promise -- those truths -- remained unmet.  And so they came by the thousands from every corner of our country, men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others.

Across the land, congregations sent them off with food and with prayer.  In the middle of the night, entire blocks of Harlem came out to wish them well.  With the few dollars they scrimped from their labor, some bought tickets and boarded buses, even if they couldn’t always sit where they wanted to sit.  Those with less money hitchhiked or walked.  They were seamstresses and steelworkers, students and teachers, maids and Pullman porters.  They shared simple meals and bunked together on floors.  And then, on a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation’s capital, under the shadow of the Great Emancipator -- to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their government for redress, and to awaken America’s long-slumbering conscience.

We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike.  His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.

But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV.  Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters.  They lived in towns where they couldn’t vote and cities where their votes didn’t matter.  They were couples in love who couldn’t marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home.  They had seen loved ones beaten, and children fire-hosed, and they had every reason to lash out in anger, or resign themselves to a bitter fate.

And yet they chose a different path.  In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors.  In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in, with the moral force of nonviolence.  Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs.  A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us.  They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglass once taught -- that freedom is not given, it must be won, through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.

That was the spirit they brought here that day.  That was the spirit young people like John Lewis brought to that day.  That was the spirit that they carried with them, like a torch, back to their cities and their neighborhoods.  That steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come -- through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches far from the spotlight; through the loss of four little girls in Birmingham, and the carnage of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the agony of Dallas and California and Memphis.  Through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered; it never died.

And because they kept marching, America changed.  Because they marched, a Civil Rights law was passed.  Because they marched, a Voting Rights law was signed.  Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else’s laundry or shining somebody else’s shoes. (Applause.)  Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed, and Congress changed, and, yes, eventually, the White House changed.  (Applause.)

Because they marched, America became more free and more fair -- not just for African Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews, and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability.  America changed for you and for me.  and the entire world drew strength from that example, whether the young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid.  (Applause.)

Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts.  That is the transformation that they wrought, with each step of their well-worn shoes.  That’s the debt that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries; folks who could have run a company maybe if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm’s way, even though they didn't have; those Japanese Americans who recalled their own internment; those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust; people who could have given up and given in, but kept on keeping on, knowing that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Applause.)

On the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted, as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another, and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

To dismiss the magnitude of this progress -- to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed -- that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years.  (Applause.)  Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. -- they did not die in vain.  (Applause.)  Their victory was great.

But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete.  The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.  To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency.  Whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, it requires vigilance.  (Applause.)

And we'll suffer the occasional setback.  But we will win these fights.  This country has changed too much.  (Applause.)  People of goodwill, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history’s currents.  (Applause.)

In some ways, though, the securing of civil rights, voting rights, the eradication of legalized discrimination -- the very significance of these victories may have obscured a second goal of the March.  For the men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in search of some abstract ideal.  They were there seeking jobs as well as justice -- (applause) -- not just the absence of oppression but the presence of economic opportunity.  (Applause.)

For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can’t afford the meal?  This idea -- that one’s liberty is linked to one’s livelihood; that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security -- this idea was not new.  Lincoln himself understood the Declaration of Independence in such terms -- as a promise that in due time, “the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”

And Dr. King explained that the goals of African Americans were identical to working people of all races:  “Decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community.”

What King was describing has been the dream of every American.  It's what's lured for centuries new arrivals to our shores.  And it’s along this second dimension -- of economic opportunity, the chance through honest toil to advance one’s station in life -- where the goals of 50 years ago have fallen most short.

Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half century ago.  But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white unemployment, Latino unemployment close behind.  The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it's grown.  And as President Clinton indicated, the position of all working Americans, regardless of color, has eroded, making the dream Dr. King described even more elusive.

For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate, even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes.  Inequality has steadily risen over the decades.  Upward mobility has become harder.  In too many communities across this country, in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence.

And so as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks could join the ranks of millionaires.  It was whether this country would admit all people who are willing to work hard regardless of race into the ranks of a middle-class life.  (Applause.)

The test was not, and never has been, whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few.  It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many -- for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran.  To win that battle, to answer that call -- this remains our great unfinished business.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves.  The task will not be easy.  Since 1963, the economy has changed.  The twin forces of technology and global competition have subtracted those jobs that once provided a foothold into the middle class -- reduced the bargaining power of American workers.  And our politics has suffered.  Entrenched interests, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal -- marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools, that all these things violated sound economic principles.  We'd be told that growing inequality was a price for a growing economy, a measure of this free market; that greed was good and compassion ineffective, and those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame.

And then, there were those elected officials who found it useful to practice the old politics of division, doing their best to convince middle-class Americans of a great untruth -- that government was somehow itself to blame for their growing economic insecurity; that distant bureaucrats were taking their hard-earned dollars to benefit the welfare cheat or the illegal immigrant.

And then, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us claiming to push for change lost our way.  The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots.  Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior.  Racial politics could cut both ways, as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination.  And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support -- as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child, and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself.

All of that history is how progress stalled.  That's how hope was diverted.  It's how our country remained divided.  But the good news is, just as was true in 1963, we now have a choice. We can continue down our current path, in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations; where politics is a zero-sum game where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie -- that’s one path.  Or we can have the courage to change.

The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history; that we are masters of our fate.  But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together.  We’ll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago.

And I believe that spirit is there, that truth force inside each of us.  I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child.  I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man.  It’s there when the native-born recognizing that striving spirit of the new immigrant; when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who are discriminated against and understands it as their own.

That’s where courage comes from -- when we turn not from each other, or on each other, but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone.  That’s where courage comes from. (Applause.)

And with that courage, we can stand together for good jobs and just wages.  With that courage, we can stand together for the right to health care in the richest nation on Earth for every person.  (Applause.)  With that courage, we can stand together for the right of every child, from the corners of Anacostia to the hills of Appalachia, to get an education that stirs the mind and captures the spirit, and prepares them for the world that awaits them.  (Applause.)

With that courage, we can feed the hungry, and house the homeless, and transform bleak wastelands of poverty into fields of commerce and promise.

America, I know the road will be long, but I know we can get there.  Yes, we will stumble, but I know we’ll get back up.  That’s how a movement happens.  That’s how history bends.  That's how when somebody is faint of heart, somebody else brings them along and says, come on, we’re marching.  (Applause.)

There’s a reason why so many who marched that day, and in the days to come, were young -- for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is.  They dared to dream differently, to imagine something better.  And I am convinced that same imagination, the same hunger of purpose stirs in this generation.

We might not face the same dangers of 1963, but the fierce urgency of now remains.  We may never duplicate the swelling crowds and dazzling procession of that day so long ago -- no one can match King’s brilliance -- but the same flame that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, I know that flame remains.  (Applause.)

That tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge -- she’s marching.  (Applause.)

That successful businessman who doesn't have to but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con who is down on his luck -- he’s marching.  (Applause.)

The mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same door as anybody’s son -- she’s marching.  (Applause.)

The father who realizes the most important job he’ll ever have is raising his boy right, even if he didn't have a father -- especially if he didn't have a father at home -- he’s marching.  (Applause.)

The battle-scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to helping their fellow warriors stand again, and walk again, and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home -- they are marching.  (Applause.)

Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day -- that change does not come from Washington, but to Washington; that change has always been built on our willingness, We The People, to take on the mantle of citizenship -- you are marching.  (Applause.)

And that’s the lesson of our past.  That's the promise of tomorrow -- that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.  That when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station, can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed, as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  (Applause.)


Definitely a Commie

I was trying to choose the right "that character content bullshit is not what he meant" article to excerpt when I ended up where I should have started.

The Rude Pundit:

Luckily for you, the Rude Pundit has never forgotten just how bad-ass Martin Luther King actually was, and he has written over the years about how King would fuck up conservatives' shit. Now, as a handy guide when you scream at Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity on the radio today, here's links to all of those posts in one place, all filled with King's words:

1. Martin Luther King was against prayer in school and thought that Christianity meant that you had to help the poor.

2. Martin Luther King thought America's use of military power was immoral and that protesters loved their country.

3. This is not to mention that Martin Luther King thought that money spent on useless wars would be better spent on anti-poverty programs.

4. Unlike today's Democrats, Martin Luther King believed that radical activism, even at the risk of arrest, was more important than moderation and compromise. Principle over popularity.

5. Martin Luther King believed that a janitor was as important as a doctor and that the government had the duty to ensure that the janitor was taken care of as well as the doctor was, including a guaranteed wage, health care, and more.

6. Martin Luther King believed that the rich needed to pay their fair share to help lift people out of poverty. They should, you know, spread the wealth, especially through taxation.

7. And, after a change of heart, Martin Luther King did not believe in owning a gun.

You got it? Martin Luther King, Jr. was not conservative. And he is not your cuddly toy. He is not Marty, the Dream Bear. He was an openly socialistic, confrontational radical whose "I Have a Dream" speech asked for nothing less than a complete elimination of white privilege and the destruction of racial and economic hierarchies. As nutzoid right wingers call for the first black president's impeachment (which would leave a white man with pretty much the same beliefs in the office) and for overturning the Affordable Care Act, how are we doing with that?

Are you good to go?  Are you ready to fuck up a conservative's day? 'Cause, really, that's something that Martin Luther King would have loved you to do.
 Revolutionaries don't get shot for being too nice and accommodating.

Now, go watch the whole, entire, almost-never-seen-before-footage speech from 50 years ago on Chris Hayes.

When I Say Parasitical Rich, This is What I Mean

Gary Legum at Wonkette:

Let us begin our long, long week of snark and by crying a big ol’ bucket of crocodile tears for golfing sports-man Phil Mickelson, a person who has made a fortune hitting a little white ball, then walking after it, and then hitting it again and again until it drops into a little hole. Phil made headlines a few months ago when he mused that he might retire from playing a sport that earned him $67 million in 2012 because the gol’dang gubmint wanted its tithe, and a man like Phil can’t possibly be expected to subsist on the mere $25 million or so he cleared after taxes.


Jesus H. Christ laying up on the fourteenth at Torrey Pines, Phil. You’re maybe one of the ten greatest golfers of all time. In 2011 you were the second-highest paid athlete in America, behind only Tiger Woods. And yet here you are complaining that you don’t want to work harder because more millions of dollars means a higher tax bill? Did we miss the part where someone held a gun to your head and forced you to go play in a couple of tournaments in the socialist nightmare that is the UK?

Phil, you should take a year off from the PGA Tour and go work as a middle manager at an insurance company in Tulsa. Take the wife, take the kids, see how much fun you have trying to support them on forty grand a year and no employer-sponsored health insurance. Then you might really understand how the millions of Americans who don’t have your skills at golf or your opportunities to give quality CEOs tug jobs on national TV can struggle to get by.

Or shit, go ahead and retire. Go sit in your giant mansion in La Jolla and spend your days eating bag after bag after bag of the finest imported salted rat dicks. Anything, just so long as we don’t ever again have to listen to you complain.
And make no mistake, they're fucking everywhere.

The Permanent War Moves to Syria

It's an addict celebrating rehab with an overdose. And this one's likely to be fatal.

Kevin Drum:

All the evidence suggests that Obama is considering the worst possible option in Syria: a very limited air campaign with no real goal and no real chance of influencing the course of the war. You can make a defensible argument for staying out of the fight entirely, and you can make a defensible argument for a large-scale action that actually accomplishes something (wiping out Assad's air force, for example), but what's the argument for the middle course? I simply don't see one.

It's the act of a president who's under pressure to "do something" from the know-nothings and settles on a bit of fireworks to buy them off and show that he has indeed done something. But it's useless. The strike itself won't damage Assad much and it won't satisfy the yahoos, who will continue to bray for ever more escalation.
David Atkins at Hullabaloo:

Interventions may be needed on rare occasions to prevent brutal repression and bloodshed, particularly when the victimized side is far too weak to defend itself. But civil wars are a different problem altogether, and even the best planned and best intentions interventions can go horribly wrong.

Iraq is a divided, sectarian mess right now. Syria is far, far worse. It's hard to see what, beyond a massive and global campaign to literally stop the fighting and extradite the leaders of both sides for trials at the Hague, will work to stop it. Dropping bombs on Assad's forces in order to help the religious fundamentalist revolutionaries doesn't seem like a good plan. It seems likelier to lead to more deaths, not fewer, and heightened anger against the West in the bargain.

If ever there was a time to intervene in Syria--and I'm not sure there ever was--but it would have been before now. It would have been back when Assad was the clear perpetrator, back when secular liberals in Syria hadn't fled or been killed, back before the bloodshed on both sides was so awful that forgiveness and reconciliation seemed impossible. If there was ever a time to act, it would have needed to be credible, global and overwhelming, with an absolute minimum of missile or gunfire.

But, of course, the world wasn't prepared to do that because everyone was and still is jockeying over oil and shipping interests. Very few people in power around the world care two whits for the plight of the Syrian people being killed. They're just pawns on a chessboard. The Saudis and much of Europe would like to see Assad gone, but they would rather watch the U.S. do it and then blame us for what they encouraged us to do afterward.

And, of course, the military industrial complex in the United States rarely saw a war it didn't like. It cares little for the lives of Syrians or for the opinion of the world.

So here we go again, mindlessly and futilely. The governments of China, Russia and United States don't care about saving Syrian lives any more than they care about stopping climate change. Each nation's security and bureaucratic apparatus is so invested in doing whatever is in the national interest (read: the interest wealthiest power brokers in each country) that they never stopped to consider that very phrase "national interest" is becoming an antiquated archaism of a dying Westphalian world.
And if you still wonder why it's a guaranteed dead-bang loser:

The Middle East’s Big Knot of Enemies and Allies, Visualized In one chart, By Chris Kirk

The Rich Are Still Stealing the Economy From Us

They're not going to give it back, either. Not without one hell of a fight.


"A person of good intelligence and sensitivity cannot exist in this society very long without having some anger about the inequality - and it’s not just a bleeding-heart, knee-jerk, liberal kind of a thing - it is just a normal human reaction to a nonsensical set of values where we have cinnamon flavored dental floss and there are people sleeping in the street" ~ George Carlin

Steve M:

This is a longstanding right-wing project -- to make sure Americans never get angry at the country's real parasites, the financiers who contribute nothing of value, while demanding every cent they can get their grubby hands on. Right-wingers have been very successful in this project -- they have most of Heartland America convinced that the real parasitic "elites" are college professors and Prius drivers and unionized teachers and other folks who work for the damn gummint.

Meanwhile, Hamptons developer Joe Farrell has a theory about why the good times are back in his neck of the woods:
But most of all, he credits the Federal Reserve for the economic stimulus, which he said has helped the wealthy most of all. "The stock market's flying through the roof and who's that helping, the middle class? No, I mean that's the reality," he said. "Out here, life goes on."
To a large extent, that's Obama's fault -- and yet he would have gone for a second stimulus, and he's called for more investment in public works projects, and, of course, none of this is allowable because Republicans won't hear of it. The only stimulus we can have is the one that helps the most privileged.

And yes, maybe Glibertarian Glenn has a point about public officials getting too comfy because they get perks the rest of us don't. But he stops there. To me, that means they identify more with their billionaire contributors than with the rest of us. To Glibertarian Glenn, identifying with the rich is a good thing -- but if you're in government, you'd better make sure the rich get all the privileges, and not dare to take any for yourself, because government is evil, while rich people in the private sector are sacrosanct.
EPI put out a fascinating paper yesterday about wage stagnation. (Yes, it really was fascinating!) The upshot is that we're still a very rich country. The problem is that the wealth isn't being broadly distributed:
There are lots of problems caused by how profit-biased the recovery has been. For one, income accruing to capital-owners is less likely to recycle quickly back through the economy and generate demand (as evidence, see the huge amount of idle cash balances on corporate balance sheets in recent years). If a larger share of income growth had translated into wage-growth, this would have sparked more self-generating demand and improved the recovery. From a political economy perspective, the rapid recovery of corporate profits has also likely led to less urgency from a potential ally in asking for more macroeconomic stimulus (corporate business, which, remember, strongly supported the Recovery Act).

And, most directly, these higher profits just mean that all else equal, there’s less to go to paychecks. And as yesterday’s paper shows, that’s a sadly familiar outcome.
That is not to say there aren't solutions to this. The problem is that those solutions must come from our completely dysfunctional political system:

That's not much to hang on to. Our political system is so corrupted by money and obstructed by a rump fanatical minority that it's hard to see how we get out of it before this economic problem turns into a very big social and yes, economic problem. It's very hard to see where one ends and the other starts.

Still, it's good to know the money is still there. The greedheads who are hoarding it all should probably think hard about just how much they really need to keep for themselves. These things tend not to end well if they don't.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Repug Austerity Harming Public Safety in Kentucky

For four and half years, congressional repugs have refused to fund President Obama's requests for stimulus programs that would prevent state government layoffs like these. And Kentuckians keep suffering for it.

Valerie Honeycutt-Spears at the Herald:

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer confirmed Monday that the agency had laid off 20 troopers as a result of a projected $5.8 million budget shortfall.

Brewer said the troopers laid off Friday were involved in the Trooper R program, which brought veteran troopers out of retirement and back on patrol for up to five years on an annual contract. The troopers who were laid off had signed new contracts July 1, Brewer said.

He said he started the Trooper R program, which state lawmakers approved in 2009, to save the state money. The retired troopers were rehired at a starting salary, and there were no training costs associated with hiring them.

Eight of 16 Kentucky State Police posts were affected by Friday's layoffs. Five troopers were laid off at Hazard, four at London, three at Frankfort, two each at Ashland, Harlan and Elizabethtown and one each at the Bowling Green and Pikeville posts, Brewer said. "In late May or early June, we began to do some forecasting on our budget for fiscal year 2014," which runs July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, said Brewer.

In late July, state police officials realized there was a projected $5.8 million shortfall for fiscal year 2014. The overall annual budget is $184 million.

"There weren't many options on the table," Brewer said, noting that more than 90 percent of the state police budget consists of salaries and benefits, vehicles and fuel. The layoffs will save $1.25 million, said Brewer.

The Trooper R program had been "a big boost" for Kentucky State Police because of severe manpower shortages, he said. Even before Friday's layoffs, Kentucky State Police suffered from a manpower shortage of about 100 troopers, he said.
Yes, the conservative plan to reduce government to the point that every citizen needs an arsenal of military weapons to protect herself is going swimmingly.

More Compassionate Conservatism At Work

There is no budgetary, public safety or public health excuse for this. It is vicious, unadulterated hatred. With a sidedish of stormtrooper authoritarianism.

Conservatism at its purest.

Scott Keyes at Think Progress:

A group that for years has handed out food to the homeless in Raleigh every weekend was threatened with arrest if they continued their charity work.

This past Saturday, Rev. Hugh Hollowell and other members of Love Wins Ministries (LWM), a Christian organization based in Raleigh, shuttled over hot coffee and 100 breakfast sandwiches to feed the needy downtown. Though a Raleigh city ordinance prevents anyone from distributing food in a park without a permit, LWM had a “good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department” and had disbursed food from the sidewalk for the past six years, according to the group’s website.

However, this weekend was different, for reasons that are not yet clear. As LWM was setting up, they were approached by Raleigh police officers who informed them that if they tried to hand out their breakfast sandwiches, they would be arrested. As 70 needy people watched and waited for breakfast, LWM was forced to pack up the sandwiches and leave without distributing any food. They were told that a permit would cost $1,600 every weekend for use of the park, but the officer allegedly told them it was unlikely their application would be approved regardless.

As LWM notes, there are no soup kitchens in Raleigh that are still open on the weekends, so their work has been pivotal in making sure hungry people get a meal on the weekends.

ThinkProgress left a message with the Raleigh Police Department as to why, unlike in past years, the ordinance was now being strictly enforced, but did not hear back before publication. Police spokesman Jim Sughrue told ABC 11 that “People were simply informed the ordinance prohibits the kinds of actions some groups have been engaged in at the park.”

For her part, the mayor of Raleigh is already taking action. During a rally on Sunday in protest, Mayor Nancy McFarlane showed up and apologized for the encounter, saying, “I’m sorry for the confrontation or whatever happened yesterday, but I think the outcome is going to be good.” She said she would convene a meeting soon about how to rectify the matter. In the meantime, LWM is looking for an alternate downtown location to distribute food on the weekends, such as a private building or parking lot, and asking for any leads to contact them at

LWM are not the only people who have been threatened with arrest recently for daring to feed hungry people in public. In 2011, three members of a charitable group Foods Not Bombs were arrested in Orlando for passing out food to the homeless in a public park. Similarly, an 82-year-old Hartford, Connecticut man who had distributed free haircuts to the homeless for the past decade in a local park, was ordered to stop by police officers in June because he didn’t have a license, though he was eventually allowed to continue his charity work after the ensuing media firestorm.

AynRandy: No Jobs, No Food Stamps, So It's Cannon Fodder for You

I thought the Tribble-Toupeed One opposed military adventurism. But if you reject programs to create good jobs and reject programs to provide food and shelter to the unemployed, really the only place left to dump the people so irresponsible as not to arrange to have been born well-off is the military.

First, why food stamps turns farmers into slaves:

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) equated government programs that prevent people from dying of starvation with slavery in a new profile of his medical practice published today, revealing himself to hold a view of the role of government so limited as to nearly define the state out of existence.
Paul’s philosophical excursus is buried in the midst of the too-friendly-for-parody article (it ends with a patient waxing poetic about how Paul “loves people“), but the words are unmistakably Randian. “As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care,” Paul allowed, “but it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge, it’s servitude, you’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do."
No, it doesn't make sense, it just makes a point: no food and no jobs for you suckers graduating from high school thinking that diploma entitles you to a place in the middle class.
But don't worry!  Senator Tribble-Head knows exactly where you belong: catching mortar fire in Syria.

invite interested high school students to attend the 2013 U.S. Service Academy Information Fair on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

Featuring representatives from all five service academies:

Thursday, August 29, 2013
Carroll Knicely Conference Center
2355 Nashville Road
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Real Terrorists: White, Xian, Right-Wing Nuts

Dissidents, whistle-blowers and journalists are not terrorists. These assholes are terrorists.


Plotters wanted to abduct police officers, put them on trial in people’s courts and then execute them in order to build a following for their radically antiauthoritarian political movement. “We need to arrest the police and take them to our jail and put them in a cell and put them on trial in a people’s court,” David Allen Brutsche allegedly said, “If we run into the position that they resist, then we need to kill them.”

Weak and Cowardly Is As Weak and Cowardly Does

I hope Digby will forgive me for posting this in full

Some of the stuff I'm reading on twitter and elsewhere about Private Manning's change from Bradley to Chelsea is just depressing Honestly, I do not understand why people care so much about this stuff. She's a human being. That's all anyone needs to know. If she sees herself as a woman, then that's what she is. Human beings own their own bodies and their identities. Period.

I can't help but be reminded of this, when I read all this stuff today about what a cowardly weirdo Chelsea Manning is:

Monday, June 03, 2013

Here's a truly heroic Navy SEAL

Now this is an amazing story:

The 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ended the military’s official policy of discriminating against gays and lesbians in the armed services, but a ban on transgender service members remains in place, meaning that trans men and women are still barred from serving.

But some advocates say that may change, or may come closer than ever before to changing, with the release of a new memoir from a former Navy SEAL. Kristen Beck (formerly Chris Beck) was a SEAL for 20 years — and member of SEAL Team 6, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden — before retiring, coming out as transgender and beginning her transition from male to female in 2011.

And with all the ugliness in the world one could expect a huge backlash, especially among her former colleagues in the military. And there may be some.

But it isn't across the board:

Soon, the responses from SEALs stationed all around the world suddenly started pouring in: “Brother, I am with you … being a SEAL is hard, this looks harder. Peace” * “I can’t say I understand the decision but I respect the courage. Peace and happiness be upon you…Jim” * ” … I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you that Kris has all the support and respect from me that Chris had … and quite possibly more. While I’m definitely surprised, I’m also in amazement at the strength you possess and the courage necessary to combat the strangers and ‘friends’ that I’m guessing have reared their ugly heads prior to and since your announcement. …”

I can only say hooyah! to that.

This woman is the same person who was member of Seal Team 6. Whatever "he" could do, she can do. Maybe this will make the military --- hell, everybody --- stop and think a little bit about gender roles and how essentially meaningless they really are.

Good for Kristen. She's a real hero.

I admire Manning for a lot of reasons and this is up there. Anyone who says she's weak and cowardly is an idiot.

Libertarian Turns McConnell's Re-election Fight Into a Three-Way

Even if Mitchei-poo survives the repug primary, he'll face a Libertarian in the general to draw votes away from him. Not many, but maybe just enough to let Alison Lundergan Grimes prevail in a tight race.

From the AP:

David Patterson has announced his intention to run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky.

A 42-year-old Harrodsburg police officer, Patterson said in a statement that he's making a bid to unseat Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell because voters are looking for an alternative.
Can Mitch beat Bevins in the primary without so angering teabaggers that they'll choose Patterson in November? Or will Grimes' repug-lite, I-hate-Obama-too campaign turn off so many Democratic voters that Patterson won't matter?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When Repug Austerity Meets Compassionate Conservatism

From Firedoglake:

A deaf, blind and homeless man was given “a one-way ride from a Reno mental hospital onto the streets of San Francisco” last April.

Is the NRA Behind the Epidemic of Taser Deaths?

Because I can't think of anything more likely to make people distrust the police to the point of collecting a gun arsenal to protect themselves.

Diane Sweet at Crooks and Liars:

[Caution: This video is very graphic and may be difficult for some to watch.]

No one seems to know why 44-year-old Michael Ruiz was on the roof of his apartment building on July 28th, but when Phoenix police arrived to help him down, that day took a horrific turn for the worse.

As I noted above, the video is hard to watch. It shows Ruiz on the roof of his apartment complex, and after he jumps down, police officers converge and repeatedly Taser him, put him in a choke hold for at least three minutes, then finally his hands and feet were handcuffed, and he is dragged -- face down -- down a flight of concrete stairs. Some witnesses say they saw police use a stun gun on Michael several times while he was still on the roof.
"Many of Michael's neighbors witnessed everything and recorded it all on their phones.
Gary Carthen was good friends with Michael, and witnessed it all.
"This was bad, very bad. Because he didn't deserve that to happen, not like that," he said.
Carthen and his neighbors want answers. Verna Young says you could hear his head banging on the stairs as police dragged him down.
"I started crying 'cause that's not right, to hurt nobody like that," she said. "He didn't deserve that. He was a nice person, very nice."'
Richard Erickson, Michael's father and retired LAPD detective told reporters that his son had some drug issues, but was never violent and respected police.

"I just felt sick to my stomach," he said, referring to the video. "I'd never seen anything like this before, even when I was with the police department."

Michael Ruiz had to be resuscitated at the scene, and when his family arrived at the hospital he was on life support. The doctors said that he was brain-dead. Family members removed him from life-support on August 2nd.

Erickson has hired an attorney and wants the officers involved fired.

"I don't want to see anyone else's son killed like this," he said.

"I think the video speaks for itself," said attorney Jocquese Blackwell, who has been hired by the family to get to the bottom of what happened. "They believe the officers involved in this particular case went too far. They went outside their authority."

The family is not seeking legal action yet.
Ruiz left behind 2 children and a wife.
Here's an idea to create jobs: a massive national program to train every single cop in the country on non-violent methods of dealing with  non-violent people and situations.

Make receipt of that sweet Homeland Security cash contingent on completing the training. And make loss of that funding the consequence for violating non-violent protocols.

Where Has All the Money Gone?

Gone to war-waging, every one.


I posted the whole thing because I think its fundamental point is so important. None of this surveillance and covert activity could be rationalized if this nation didn't consider itself on a perpetual war footing (the enemies changing as necessary with the times.) This is bankrupting our country both financially and morally. It's been going on since before I was born --- and I'm old. And it has enabled a security state of unprecedented proportions. It's especially concerning now that the Manichean rationale of the cold war is long over and we can no longer make even the slightest claim to a serious, existential threat. That we've ramped this war footing up even beyond our cold war capabilities on the basis of a rag tag bunch of terrorists is mind boggling when you think about it.

We had a good run with this. The US was extremely prosperous even as it became a military behemoth. But it's not working anymore. Yet the machine just keeps on cranking creating new and different reasons for its existence. The money, the secrecy, the overriding power this national security state now produces and depends upon is distorting our democracy, our economy and our security. And we can have dozens of Snowdens revealing secrets or other whistleblowers revealing corruption in the contracting business or government officials being revealed to have overstepped their grounds --- along with all the so-called reforms that will inevitably follow --- but it won't change a thing unless we understand that the fundamental problem is our status as global military empire and the resulting necessity to find new enemies and create perpetual war to rationalize it.
Meanwhile, sequestration is making a worldwide pandemic like the 1918 flu outbreak that killed 100 million people far, far more likely.

Digby on cuts to the National Institutes of Health:
"If you want to convert this into real meaningful numbers, that means people are going to die of influenza five years from now because we don't yet have the universal vaccine," he said. "And God help us if we get a worldwide pandemic that emerges in the next five years, which takes a long time to prepare a vaccine for. If we had the universal vaccine, it would work for that too.

"The clock's been ticking on the potential of the next eruption of a pandemic outbreak from South Asia or wherever. And we've gotten lucky so far [that it hasn't happened]. But are we going to stay lucky? So, how can you justify doing anything other than pulling out all the stops in that kind of circumstance? And yet we're prevented from doing so."
Well that's certainly an upper.

Remember, this isn't because there isn't enough money. There's plenty of money. This is happening because rich people are hoarding all their money, we are spending vast sums on a global military empire and the political system is totally dysfunctional.

You are living in interesting times. If you young people live long enough --- and the country and planet survive --- you'll have quite a tale to tell your grand kids. Nobody will believe what morons we were.
 Eating our seed corn.

The Jeebus Drunks are Driving the Country

From Divine Irony:

Sometimes just being a skeptic in general, in a world full of the credulous and superstitious, feels a lot like being a sober person in a room full of drunks and no one can understand why you are annoyed by their behavior.

Sometimes just being a skeptic in general, in a world full of the credulous and superstitious, feels a lot like being a sober person in a room full of drunks and no one can understand why you are annoyed by their behavior.

Tell the Farm Bureau to Climb Out of the Conservatard Gutter

The Kentucky Farm Bureau's insurance company is above reproach: it provides coverage to remote rural property no other company will insure, and its service is excellent.

But its policies and politics could not possibly be worse. They've been getting away with supporting and funding the most regressive, hateful, conservatard laws and programs in the Commonwealth, and it's long past time to stop them.



Members of the ACLU-KY, Jefferson County Teachers Association, Fairness Campaign, and Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott joined in a protest yesterday of the Kentucky Farm Bureau's discriminatory policies, which are anti-LGBT, anti-union, anti-choice, and pro-death penalty, among others. You can download a petition listing their policies by clicking here. You can also visit the Fairness Campaign's booth in South Wing C of the Kentucky State Fair to sign a petition asking KFB to drop these policies.

The company's discriminatory policies were brought to light in 2004, when Reverend Todd Ekloff was fired from KFB for issuing public statements in support of same-gender marriage. A copy of their policies is sent annually to every elected state official in Kentucky, but not to the nearly 500,000 insurance holders who are automatically enrolled as paying members of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, the company's 501(c)4 lobbying arm.
Many policy holders who enrolled with Kentucky Farm Bureau years ago because there was no alternative may not realize that other companies have expanded their service in Kentucky. You don't have to subsidize KFB's hate any more. 

Christianist Charity at Work

Wipe that smug smile off your face, all you "liberal christians": this is YOUR fault. Your continued clinging to their myth enables and encourages them.

David at Crooks and Liars:

After 60 years of attending a Tennessee church, a family in Collegedale has been exiled because they supported their daughter while she fought for same sex benefits from the town where she worked as a police detective.
These freakazoids make a point of calling out failure to adhere to the literal word of the bible, and punishing those members who fail to repent and change their ways.  They're cruel and stupid, but they're not hypocritical.

The  hypocrites are the "liberal christians" who pretend the bible does not prescribe precisely that freakazoid attitude and behavior.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

No, Welfare Does Not Pay More Than Work

As low as minimum wage is, it's still more than welfare. The only welfare that pays more than work - way more than work - is corporate welfare in the form of trillions of dollars in subsidies to Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Gas, Big Ag, Big Pharma and Wall Street every year.
Josh Barro at Business Insider:
The Cato Institute is out with an update to their 1995 study which purports to show that, in most states, welfare pays better than work.

They add up benefits available through eight programs to a low-income woman with two children, and find total benefit values well in excess of full-time minimum wage work, or even, in some states, middle-skill work.

The study is called "The Welfare-Versus-Work Tradeoff," and it's meant to show why people don't get off welfare. And it's B.S., for three reasons.

1. Very few people actually qualify for all eight of the programs Cato looks at. Particularly, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (cash welfare) and housing assistance can provide some very expensive benefits. But fewer than two million households get TANF and only about four million get housing assistance. It is much more typical for a welfare beneficiary to be getting SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid (health insurance), but no assistance with housing or cash. So, the typical welfare benefit is much lower than Cato makes out, making staying on welfare less appealing.

2. Welfare benefits for single adults are much less generous than those for women with children.

3. Not all benefits are lost when a welfare recipient starts working. SNAP benefits phase out gradually with rising income. People who go back to work don't necessarily lose health benefits, either. Some get new health benefits through work. The children of low-income uninsured workers qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program in most states. In some states, low-income working adults even qualify for Medicaid. So, going back to work doesn't mean nearly the loss of benefits that Cato implies.
Not to mention that at least 25 percent of people eligible for food stamps, TANF, subsidized house and other "welfare" benefits don't even apply for the benefits they deserve.

And speaking of "deserving," how much do the taxpayers waste on corporate welfare? Billions of dollars per year just for the fossil fuel industry: even if you distributed it evenly among all the stockholders, it's got to be more than a single mother of two gets from our shredded safety net.

Anything on Your Cell Phone You Don't Want the Police to See?

Tough. They get it anyway. The Obama Administration says Fuck your Fourth Amendment Rights.


This would conveniently make it so that the local, state and federal police can just seize someone's phone to get all that lovely personal data without having to make up some phony rationale about it being related to terrorism. (That whole thing's getting a little touchy, dontcha know?)

If the courts ultimately side with the Obama administration, anyone can be arrested on a trumped up charge, their cell phone seized, their email and other personal info accessed all without probable cause. And heck, if they just happen to find something ... well, that's your bad luck isn't it? If you don't have anything to hide ...

This has nothing to do with keeping the babies safe and everything to do with a government that has decided that the 4th Amendment is getting in its way and that an expectation of privacy is an anachronism that only a bunch of irrelevant cranks or criminals care about. I don't see how you can interpret their actions any other way.
In a small town or rural area, this means that a local cop or deputy with a grudge can cause an enormous amount of personal and community damage and do so with impunity.

Just like the lord's minions did to serfs back in the good old days of feudalism.