Friday, January 31, 2014

When I Say "Democratic Values," This Is What I Mean

This is what disappointed Democratic voters want to hear. This is what will get disappointed Democratic voters off their asses and into the voting booth. This is what can beat repugs in any blood-red district in the land.

And this is what you will never, ever hear from repug-lite not-dems like Alison Lundergan Grimes.


Lux writes:
The kind of politics Elizabeth Warren represents is at its heart a moral kind of politics. She doesn’t worry about party politics, as she has always taken on the powers-that-be of both political parties. She doesn’t shy away from a tough fight, instead she has always been willing to push for what is right no matter how powerful the lobbyists on the other side are. And it was fitting that the event we did with her was in a church, because the politics she preaches are deeply moral - the politics not of right and left, but of right and wrong.

She has become an icon for an important new kind of politics, a political movement focused less on the size of government than on, as she talks about in her speech, which side is our government on, everyday people or the rich and powerful. Her willingness to hold both big business and government officials accountable when the playing field is tilted in favor of wealthy special interests is something that has been all too rare in modern American politics, and it is the reason so many people are responding to her the way the crowd in that New York City church was.

And it isn’t just activists who are responding: she is remarkably effective, especially for a first year Senator. It is clear that her calls for tougher Wall Street prosecution drove the bigger, tougher settlements JP Morgan and other bankers have had to agree to in the last year. Larry Summers would be the Fed Chair if it wasn’t for her. Her speech on Social Security was a major factor in taking discussion of Social Security cuts off the table for the time being. And her passionate pursuit of a higher minimum wage have helped create the atmosphere that led to President Obama’s executive order and focus on the issue in his SOTU.

What AFV is seeking to build is a broad national movement around this brand of politics. We want to help Elizabeth Warren and other progressive allies take on the powers that be and fight the good fight for the American people no matter who is on the other side. When she said that “our time has come”, I believe she was right, but only if we join her in the battle. When she said “we have found our voice”, she wasn’t talking about her being the voice of progressives, she was saying we all have to find our voice and join this movement. Join is in that fight by signing up on our website, and enjoy watching Elizabeth Warren at her best.
I post these stories and videos featuring Senator Warren and always feel as if there's nothing left to say. She says it all. And she says it perfectly. All I can do is say, "what she said."

Warren is one of the very few elected officials who is explicitly aligning herself with the progressive movement and is totally unafraid to make that known. That takes guts. She will not be rewarded by the Party apparatus for doing this. But then, she has us.

Iceland Let the Banksters Die, and Now the Country's Thriving

What are the chances that throwing Jamie Dimon into solitary confinement would create jobs? If there's even a one percent chance, I say let's give it a try.  At worst, it couldn't hurt. And it would make millions of people so very happy.


At one time there was a big debate about whether or not Iceland came out on top during our current depression, largely due to it's hard core treatment of its banks. It was always pretty obvious that they made the smarter decision.  It looks even more obvious today:
Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save.

Now, the island is finding crisis-management decisions made half a decade ago have put it on a trajectory that’s turned 2 percent unemployment into a realistic goal.

While the euro area grapples with record joblessness, led by more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain, only about 4 percent of Iceland’s labor force is without work. Prime MinisterSigmundur D. Gunnlaugsson says even that’s too high.

“Politicians always have something to worry about,” the 38-year-old said in an interview last week. “We’d like to see unemployment going from where it’s now -- around 4 percent -- to under 2 percent, which may sound strange to most other western countries, but Icelanders aren’t accustomed to unemployment.”

The island’s sudden economic meltdown in October 2008 made international headlines as a debt-fueled banking boom ended in a matter of weeks when funding markets froze. Policy makers overseeing the $14 billion economy refused to back the banks, which subsequently defaulted on $85 billion. The government’s decision to protect state finances left it with the means to continue social support programs that shielded Icelanders from penury during the worst financial crisis in six decades.
We, on the other hand are making nearly 7% official unemployment (along with many millions not even being counted) the new normal. And we're slashing our meager safety net, even food assistance. But our megabanks are doing very well which is what matters.

Fuck You, MSNBC President Cowardly Worm: That Tweet Was Dead-on Right

Motherfuckers will probably give Chris Hayes' show to Avik fucking Roy.
Daniel Strauss at TPM:
MSNBC President Phil Griffin has apologized to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for a tweet by the network that ignited a conservative firestorm

Griffin issued a personal apology for the entire episode on Thursday.

"The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable. We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it. We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet," Griffin said in a statement according to The Huffington Post. "I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended. At msnbc we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change."
 The tweet that started it all suggested that conservatives would hate the image of an "adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family." It was a reference to a 2013 Cheerios commercial that featured a biracial family.
In response to the since-deleted tweet Priebus told conservatives to boycott MSNBC
How many liberals does FucksNews have to flay alive on air before MSNBC learns the facts of broadcast life?
A. Never, never apologize when you are correct and have the facts on your side. 
B. Never, ever, EVER apologize to repugs or conservatives for any reason even if you are dead wrong.
C. No conservatives watch MSNBC unless they are masturbating to their own appearances.
D.  If no conservative ever watched MSNBC and the network responded by no longer booking motherfucking liars like Avik Roy and Katon Dawson, it would gain millions of viewers who know life is too short to listen to repug lies.

Don't Cross Any Bridges in Pennsylvania

- Pennsylvania finally decided to fix its bridges. It’s decision, however, was to just privatize the bridges and let the market update them. Not good.
First, the corporate motherfuckers who now own the bridges will build toll booths and charge you to cross the bridges your tax dollars are already paying for.

Then, they won't do any maintenance or repair at all.  They'll just wait until the things collapse then skip town with their taxpayer booty. Never mind the dead bodies.
And don't forget the bribes - also from your tax dollars - paid to the legislators and bureaucrats who sold public property to private greedheads.

KY Senate Rushes to Let AT&T Kill Rural Phone Service

Quick, somebody go check the copy of the U.S. Constitution in the National Archives; somebody must have scratched out the third word of the Preamble and added a new one, so that now it reads:
We the Corporations
Because we are truly a nation of the Corporations, by the Corporations and for the Corporations
A bill that would further reduce state regulation of telephone service in Kentucky could speed through Senate committee and floor votes Thursday.
Senate Bill 99 is the newest version of what many at the state Capitol call "the AT&T bill," because that company has played a key role in pushing the deregulation proposal for several years. Critics blocked it in the past, saying it could leave rural Kentuckians stranded without cheap and reliable land-line service while freeing the major phone companies to pursue more profitable high-tech customers.


Since 2011, AT&T's political action committee has given about $55,000 to state election campaigns in Kentucky, including $5,000 to the Senate Republican majority's chief fundraising committee and $5,000 more to the House Democratic majority's chief fundraising committee. The company spent $108,846 last year on legislative expenses related to its 22 Frankfort lobbyists.
The article fails to mention the biggest problem with eliminating landlines and forcing people to use cell phones: electricity service in the Commonwealth is extremely unreliable. Every time a puff of wind knocks a tree limb onto an overhead power line, power goes out to thousands of people for hours if not days. No electricity, no cell phones.

Not that the Kentucky General Assembly or the Public Service Commission, which have consistently refused to force utilities to bury power lines, gives a shit about citizens injured and dead from being unable to call for help.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

People Who Steal Kids' Lunches Should Be in Prison

Alternate title: Nurse Ratched comes back to life as Utah child nutrition administrator.

There is no earthly reason for anyone to do this but pure spite:
Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches.
As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said.
But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.
The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another.
Children whose lunches were taken were given milk and fruit instead.
Sorry, little kids. You don't get lunch today because your parents forgot to reload the debit card to pay for them. Not only that, but we're going to toss that perfectly good food right in front of you in order to teach your parents not to get behind on their lunch bill.

Some heads need to roll for that.
Anybody care to bet that the manager is a "pro-life" repug?

Juanita Jean:
Any day of the week I would prefer to go to prison than have my child humiliated like that.

Dan Patrick lives high off the hog now by erasing his old debts.  These parents have to watch their children be shamed.  What the hell is happening in my country?

And where in the whole damn world is it okay to throw away food?

Pro-Hemp Farm Bill Starves Children While Enriching Big Ag

Yeah, the fucking farm bill passed the U.S. House yesterday, and the hemp provision was about the only good thing in it.

From the press release:

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer applauded news that the proposed federal farm bill contains language that would take a giant step toward restoring industrial hemp production to Kentucky and the nation.

“For months, we have tried to get some assurance at the federal level that Kentucky producers can grow industrial hemp without fear of government harassment or prosecution. This is what we’ve been waiting for,” Commissioner Comer said. “I appreciate Sen. Mitch McConnell’s efforts to get hemp language in the farm bill. Without his protection of the language, there is no way it would have survived the process. I’m also grateful to Sen. Rand Paul and Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie for supporting our efforts from the beginning. And I again want to thank state Sen. Paul Hornback for having the courage to sponsor Senate Bill 50, which makes industrial hemp production legal under Kentucky law.
But what the bill really does is ensure that working poor families have neither food nor heat this record-breaking winter. ADM, ConAgra and the Koch Brothers meanwhile are burning piles of stolen-from-the-taxpayers $100 bills and laughing themselves sick.

Down with Tyranny:
After all Obama's talk about equality of opportunity in the State of the Union last night, at 11 this morning House conservatives rammed through a horrendous $100 billion farm bill taking another $8 billion a year from the food stamps program and preserving subsidies for wealthy farmers. It passed 251-166, most Democrats voting NO and most Republicans voting YES. 

The 20 Richest Americans Are Just the 20 Greediest Moochers

You'll never go wrong if you just assume every rich person you meet inherited, stole or grifted from the taxpayers every dime they've ever owned.

The top individuals on the 2013  Forbes 400 list are generally believed to be makers of great companies or concepts. They are the role models of Paul Ryan, who  laments, "We're going to a majority of takers versus makers in America." They are defended by Cato Institute CEO  John A. Allison IV, who once protested: "Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let's call it an attack on the very productive."

But many of the richest Americans are takers. The top twenty, with a total net worth of almost  two-thirds of a trillion dollars, have all taken from the public or from employees, or through taxes or untaxed inheritances.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates may be a knowledgeable and hard-working man, but he was also  lucky and opportunistic. He was a taker. In 1975, at the age of 20, he founded Microsoft with high school buddy Paul Allen. This was the era of the first desktop computers, and numerous small companies were trying to program them, most notably Digital Research, headed by brilliant software designer  Gary Kildall. His CP/M operating system (OS) was the industry standard. Even Gates' company used it.

But Kildall was an innovator, not a businessman, and when IBM came calling for an OS for the new IBM PC, his  delays drove the big mainframe company to Gates. Even though the newly established Microsoft company couldn't fill IBM's needs, Gates and Allen saw an opportunity, and so they hurriedly bought the rights to another local company's OS -- which was based on Kildall's CP/M system. Kildall wanted to sue, but intellectual property law for software had not yet been established. Kildall was a maker who got taken.
David Lefer, a collaborator for the book  They Made America, summarized: "Gates didn't invent the PC operating system, and any history that says he did is wrong."

Warren Buffett

At first glance, Warren Buffett seems to be a different breed of multi-billionaire, advocating for  higher taxes on the rich and a  reasonable estate tax. But his company, Berkshire Hathaway, hasn't been paying its taxes. According to the  New York Post, "the company openly admits that it owes back taxes since as long ago as 2002."

A review of Berkshire Hathaway's  annual report confirms that despite profits of over $22 billion in 2012, a $255 million refund was claimed, while $44 billion in federal taxes remain deferred on the company's balance sheet.

Berkshire Hathaway has another little surprise hidden in the small print of its income statement. It shows an income tax expense of almost $7 billion, all of it hypothetical.


Koch Brothers
This is an easy one, sad to say. Koch Industries is  taking away our clean air and water,  taking its waste to Detroit and Chicago, trying to take away the  minimum wage, seeking to  take down renewable energy initiatives, and  taking away jobs

And trying to take us for fools, with statements like this from  Charles Koch: "I want my legacy to be...a better way of life for...all Americans."
They also inherited everything from their daddy, then surfed the stock market boom collecting dividends off the work of the middle class.
The Walmart Family

Where to begin?  Walmart takes from employees, takes from the taxpayers, takes from competitors and suppliers, takes from foreign workers, takes from the environment.

Walmart sales associates make about  $9.00 per hour, which comes to $18,000 per year for a full-time worker, well below the  poverty threshold for a family of four (and even below the threshold for a family of three).

Walmart makes more than that from profits and subsidies. In the U.S., the company makes over $18,000 per employee, including  $13,000in pre-tax profits (after paying salaries) and a taxpayer subsidy of  $5,815 per worker.

On top of all the business profits, the four members of the Walmart family made a combined  $28.9 billion from their investments last year. Less than a third of that would have given every U.S. Walmart worker a $3.00 raise, enough to end the public subsidy.


The richest Americans keep making money. And they're taking the rest of us for all they can get.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ignore Bullshit Calls For An Imaginary Consensus

You can't compromise with people who want you dead.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:

I can’t imagine that Jon Huntsman’s strangely anachronistic call for non-partisanship on behalf of the “No Labels” organization at WaPo today is going to strike many chords. Huntsman’s plea to his own party for a less stridently ideological message and agenda during his wildly unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign didn’t exactly win over the GOP. But more importantly, he doesn’t seem to understand that getting leaders of the two parties together to embrace extremely general goals for the country would leave them a million miles away from practical cooperation.


Trouble is, Republicans by and large think “creating 25 million jobs in the next 10 years” should begin by radically reducing benefits under “Social Security and Medicare,” which is how these programs would be “secured,” and how we would achieve a “balanced budget.” Democrats by and large think insisting on a “balanced budget” any time soon would make “creating 25 million jobs” impossible. They also tend to think the path to a “balanced budget” inevitably involves a stronger public role in health care to hold down costs, a strategy which Republicans almost universally reject not only as unworkable but as a direct threat to both economic growth and essential liberties. How does one sit down and work out a “national agenda” for reaching common goals when the two parties diverge so fundamentally on the very basics of how these issues fit together?

As I’ve argued in the past, a “split the difference” approach to economic, fiscal, health care and energy issues, even if it could happen, would produce an incoherent agenda arguably worse than a tyranny of either party.

Despite a decisive election victory and Democratic control of Congress (including a super-majority in the Senate), Obama reached out repeatedly to the opposition and had his hand repeatedly slapped away. And while some of that triumph of partisanship reflected a strategy of obstruction by the GOP, a great deal of it represented genuine differences of opinion and principle on how to achieve common goals. Just asserting that unity will be achieved when people of good will desire it is not only naive and obtuse, but an insult to those in a divided country who are trying to offer a clear path ahead.
Repugs think compromise is surrender and consensus is for suckers. Repugs respect power and the threat to use that power violently.  I swear, Obama would get more cooperation from congressional repugs if he implemented his domestic agenda by exercising the "unitary executive" power that Smirky/Darth used to kill 10,000 Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And threatened to spend billions in corporate campaign cash to take out every repug congress critter who so much as uttered a peep in protest.

Power and violence. That's what they respect. That's the only thing they respect.

QOTD: Rude Pundit

On the President failing to call out the repugs in the SOTU:

It needs to be said again and again: We never got to see what an Obama presidency would be like because Republicans decided that there wouldn't be an Obama presidency.

Republicans changed the rules of the game on Obama. If they had been playing baseball, they'd have said, "Okay, we demand four outs, five strikes, and no foul balls, just for us." And Obama would have said, "Sure. Now can we play?" And they would have said, "And you have to play without shoes and gloves." And Obama would have said, "Sure. Can we start the game?" And they would have said, "And each of us gets to fuck your wife in the ass on the pitcher's mound while you watch." And when Obama said, "No, that's bullshit," they'd've said, "Why don't you want to play baseball?"

New Tunisian Constitution More Progressive Than Ours

Of course, they've had the advantage of being able to avoid our bad example.

Think Progress:

After what had at times been a slow and frustrating process, the Tunisian National Assembly on Sunday evening voted to approve what is one of the most progressive constitutions in the region, with only 12 members of the 216-member legislative body voting against. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and outgoing Assembly chief Mustapha Ben Jaafar signed the document on Monday morning, bringing it into effect.

With its new constitution, Tunisia, the starting place of the massive protests that swept Western Asia and North Africa in 2011, manages in some ways to surpass even the United States in terms of enshrining progressive ideals. According to the most recent unofficial draft available in English, the government takes on responsibilities that the U.S. government has had to struggle to provide. Most of these principles are laid out in a Chapter 2 of the constitution, a section titled “Rights and Liberties” in the translation, which lays out 29 areas that the Tunisian state must provide for the betterment of the people — both now and in the future. Here are three highlights that showcase some of the most progressive of these guarantees:

1. Climate change Given the conservative attempts to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency and deny the very existence of climate change, it would seem improbable at best that the U.S. will mention conservation efforts in the Constitution anytime soon. But Tunisia has done just that. “Contribution to a sound climate and the right to a sound and balanced environment shall be guaranteed,” the constitution promises. “The state shall provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution.” Given Tunisia’s location in the Maghreb, with portions of the country within the Sahara Desert, the state also is given custody over ensuring the “conservation and rational use of water” as one of its duties.
2. Health care Health care policy-making in Tunisia’s capital of Tunis has also managed to leapfrog that in Washington as of Monday. “Health is a right for every person,” the document announces, declaring that Tunisia shall “guarantee preventative health care and treatment for every citizen and provide the means necessary to ensure the safety and good quality of health services.” Even as the U.S. begins to implement the Affordable Care Act, and Republican governors block the implementation of the portions that expand Medicare, the new Tunisian constitution promises “free health care for those without support and those with limited income.”
3. Women’s rights The new constitution also goes further than the American version in explicitly promoting women’s rights, a goal of the now-dormant push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. “The State shall commit to protecting women’s achieved rights and seek to support and develop them,” the constitution reads. “The State shall guarantee equal opportunities between men and women in the bearing of all the various responsibilities in all fields.”
The draft version also committed the government to try to balance the number of men and women serving in elected councils, which would far outstrip the current 82-17 split between the two in the U.S. Congress last year. Given the struggle to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in the United States last year, it would seem that Tunisia has American beat there as well. “The state shall the necessary measures to eliminate violence against women,” the constitution guarantees.
4. Workers’ rights Tunisia’s laborers get a huge boost under the new constitution, particularly in comparison to their American counterparts. Under the terms of the document, the right to form trade unions in guaranteed along with all of the powers that grants laborers — including the ability to strike. Members of the army and security services are the one exception to this rule, while unions and all other political parties and associations are required to reject violence and abide by all areas of the law.
The constitution also promises that all citizens, male and female alike, shall “have the right to adequate working conditions and to a fair wage.” As the debate over raising the minimum wage kicks off anew in the U.S. — and women are still paid far less than their male counterparts for similar jobs — the Tunisian guarantees look almost idyllic.
Despite the desperate need to update the U.S. Constitution on campaign finance, corporate personhood, voting rights, women's rights and more, I oppose a new Constitutional Convention. As long as repugs, conservatards and freakazoids backed by the Koch Brothers' billions maintain their stranglehold on our politics, we can't take the risk of them turning our democracy into a cross between a Galtian paradise like Somalia and a Dominionist theocracy that would make the Taliban seem liberal.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why Lynch, When You Can Just Shoot?

Between the shoot-first cops and the stand-my-ground assholes, is there any circumstance whatsoever under which a white person can be prosecuted for shooting and killing a black person in this country today?

Doktor Zoom at Wonkette:

This time out our Second Amendment Hero is Mr. Rodney Black of Barboursville, West Virginia, who protected himself from a home invasion by shooting two men dead because he thought they were on his property and breaking into his shed to steal all his worldly goods. And property, as we all know, is a sacred right in our Constitution.

Oh sure, there are a couple of teensy details that the gun-grabbers will inevitably fixate on, like the fact that the two men were not actually on Mr. Black’s property — in fact, one of the men, Garrick Hopkins, had just bought the land and was showing it to his brother Carl at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon — and also, too, the shed was not actually Mr. Black’s either. And he shot them from about 50 yards away. But he really REALLY thought they were trying to rob him, so from his perspective and God’s, it was a clean kill. What part of “shall not be infringed” don’t you understand?
Mr. Black is white. Can you guess the race of his now-dead new neighbors?

Mychal Denzel Smith at The Nation:

In my (short, incomplete) list of ways to fight racism in 2014, the first thing I mentioned was reclaiming the definition of racism—from one primarily concerned with individual acts of bias or discrimination to a definition that understands the systemic nature of the problem. The good folks at Race Forward (formerly Applied Research Center) and Ill Doctrine vlogger Jay Smooth have wasted no time in doing just that. Last week, they released a new research paper, “Moving the Race Conversation Forward,” detailing the ways in which the media mishandle stories about race and racism. In the accompanying video, Jay Smooth lays out the differences between individual and systemic racism:


This report and video arrived around the same time we found out a grand jury chose not to indict Randall Kerrick, the police officer responsible for shooting and killing 24-year-old unarmed black man Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte, NC. We also learned that Darrin Manning, a 16-year-old Philadelphia high school student who was stopped and frisked so aggressively that one of his testicles was ruptured, would face charges for assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, and reckless endangerment.

This is what systemic racism looks like. Whether Kerrick or the officer who assaulted Manning have a personal animosity toward these young men as a result of their race doesn’t matter. What matters is the institutional mechanisms that degrade black life. Kerrick shot an unarmed Ferrell after receiving an emergency call that he was attempting to rob a home. Only he wasn’t. Ferrell had been in a bad car accident and was seeking help. Before he could explain that to the police who arrived on scene, he was shot dead. Nothing will happen to Kerrick. He will go free.

Manning and his friends ran from police because they were being stared down. Manning then stopped because he felt he had no reason to run. He hadn’t done anything wrong. For that, he received a ruptured testicle and a set of misdemeanor charges. In a racist country, Manning’s black body is guilty by virtue of existing. The officers responsible for his assault and injury are only doing what’s necessary. Her punishment, so far as this system is concerned, need not go beyond desk duty.

When these are the institutions that govern us, when black life is disposable, when black bodies are guilty before and after being proven innocent, when there is no recourse for injustice or even a belief that injustice has been done, when these institutions actively work to push inequality, we are dealing with something much more dangerous than a personal beef with blackness.

The control of black bodies is foundational to American democracy. It is a structural reality. Our institutions are built to protect that reality. White supremacy is our core identity. Ignoring this reality prevents us from building an alternate reality. Ignoring the reality of racism only makes us more racist.

The "Radicalization of the Politics of Great Wealth" or "Why the Rich Are Colossal Dicks"

Josh Marshall has a great piece on why the obscenely rich are suddenly so defensive about their wealth. ("Colossal Dicks" is my phrase (lifted from Charlie Pierce), not Josh's.)

There is a disconnect there that is so massive and glaring that it demands some sociocultural explanation. I've written about this before. But I confess not terribly well because I've found it a difficult issue to get my arms fully around and to reorient my focus on day to day events to the longer horizon. But I do think it's one of the core political and economic issues of our time and deserves real explanation.

I first started noticing this when I saw several years ago that many of the wealthiest people in the country, especially people in financial services, not only didn't support Obama (not terribly surprising) but had a real and palpable sense that he was out to get them. This was hard to reconcile with the fact that Obama, along with President Bush, had pushed through a series of very unpopular laws and programs and fixes that had not only stabilized global capitalism, saved Wall Street but saved the personal fortunes (and perhaps even the personal liberty) of the people who were turning so acidly against him. Indeed, through the critical years of 2009, 10 and 11 he was serving as what amounted to Wall Street's personal heat shield, absorbing as political damage the public revulsion at the bailout policies that had kept Wall Street whole.

Let's start by stipulating that no one expects the extremely wealthy to react happily to mounting discussion of wealth and income inequality or left-wing diatribes about "the 1%." But again, the reaction is extreme and excessive and frequently runs into less comical versions of Perkins' screed, with weird fears of persecution and threat from the folks who quite truly rule the roost.
To oversimplify: socioeconomic acrophobia, 2008 whiplash, genuine fear of loss and the first progressive president in 40 years.

Put it all together and you get the climate in which someone like Perkins writes something as ridiculous as he did. As I said up top, his Holocaust analogy is so hyperbolic and ridiculous that he's getting dumped on by almost everyone. But we miss the point if we see this in isolation or just the rant of one out-of-touch douchebag. It is pervasive. The disconnect between perception and reality, among such a powerful segment of the population, is in itself dangerous. And it's led to what I would call a significant radicalization of the politics of extreme wealth. My evidence for this is only anecdotal. But it's come up in conversations I've had with many business reporters who cover these folks on a daily basis.

We take it more or less rightly as a given that people in finance will have generally right-leaning politics - low taxes, tight money, lax regulatory regimes. Basically traditional money Republicanism. But over the last few years (since 2008), I think there's been a pretty dramatic growth in what we'd call Tea Party politics in that set - extreme conservatism that goes beyond hands off fiscal and regulatory policy, the kind of feverish mindset in which you could write with a straight face that progressives might be building toward some sort of mass wealth confiscation or internment or even extermination for the likes of Tom Perkins.
Like I said. Colossal Dicks.

Stand for Voting Rights - Call Kentucky State Senators Today

From Kentuckians for the Commonwealth:

Momentum is building for a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights in Kentucky, but your voice is needed now to move HB 70 forward in the state senate.

Please call the Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181) today. Ask to leave the following message for your state senator and all members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee:

“Make this the year to pass HB 70 and restore voting rights! This bill has strong support and deserves a vote in the Senate. Please oppose attempts to make voting harder or the bill more restrictive.”

“I am a Kentuckian. I have never seen the inside of a prison, but my right to vote has been taken away. I often wonder, how much is my community losing out because my voice and the voices of 240,000 others have been silenced in our democracy?”

– Mantell Stevens
The Legislative Message Line is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and until 6 p.m. on Fridays.

Thanks for taking action!


HB 70 is a state constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights to most former felons who have served their full sentence. Kentucky is one of a small handful of states (along with Florida and Iowa) that permanently takes away the right to vote from all people convicted of a felony, unless they receive a pardon from the Governor.

The bill recently passed the Kentucky House with a vote of 82-12, including strong support from Republicans and Democrats in that chamber. House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover spoke in favor of the bill in a committee hearing and on the House floor, saying that it is the “right thing to do.”

Former Republican representative Lonnie Napier also a spoke in favor of the bill at a voting rights rally at the Capitol. He reminded the audience that his father, who owned a general store in Garrard County, would allow local farmers to purchase goods on credit until they sold their tobacco crops in the fall. “When they came into his store to pay off their debts, he would stamp those receipts with the words, ‘Debt Paid in Full.’” Rep. Napier reminded the crowd that once a person has paid his or her debt to society, their punishment should cease and their rights should be restored. He also praised bill sponsor, Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, for his persistence and leadership on voting rights issues in Kentucky.

More information:

An estimated 243,842 Kentuckians are barred from voting as of 2010 due to felony convictions, including 180,984 who have completed their sentences. The number of Kentuckians who have completed their sentence but lack the right to vote is bigger than the population of Bowling Green, KY’s 3rd largest city.

As a result Kentucky has among the highest African-American disenfranchisement rates in the country. One in five voting age African-American Kentuckians is not allowed to register to vote.

Thirty-nine states automatically restore voting rights to all people, although they do so at different points in the process. Of these, 19 restore voting rights when a person is off probation. In 13 states and the District of Colombia, the right to vote is restored when people are released from prison. In 5 states, the right to vote is restored after parole. And in two of these states the right to vote is never taken away.

The language of HB 70 is the result of a bi-partisan compromise reached in the Kentucky House 7 years ago. The bill automatically restores voting rights to most former felons upon completion of their full sentence. However, it preserves the existing case-by-case process for people who are convicted of murder, bribery in an election, or sex offenses. These exclusions mean that when HB 70 passes, Kentucky will move from 3 most restrictive states for felon voting rights to the next group of 8 very restrictive states.

HB 70 has passed the Kentucky House every year for the past 8 years (including 2014) with wide bipartisan support. It has never had a vote in the Kentucky Senate. However, momentum in that chamber is building and we remain hopeful that the bill will be allowed a vote during this legislative session.

Not Religion

Gone to Flowers, Our Best One

I saw him perform live back in the '80s. He sang "This Old Man" with new lyrics referring to Ronald Reagan and everybody roared.

The audience was full of middle-aged lefties who sang every word of every song with him.

Even then, in ostensible "peacetime," his music and words were so powerful. I couldn't imagine what it must have been like to sing his songs at wartime protests in the '60s. Until I sang them at wartime protests in the aughts.

The Permanent War may have outlasted Pete Seeger, but it will never outlast his songs.

Choke on This, Mitch: Steve Beshear is President's SOTU Guest

Yeah, yeah, Kentuckians hate Barack Obama. But we know an honor when we receive one, and we also know opportunities for positive national exposure of the Commonwealth are scarce as hen's teeth.

So whether outwardly or inwardly while pretending otherwise, today we're all shouting  "Kentucky, Fuck Yeah!"

From the Herald:

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane, will sit with first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday night as President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress and the nation in his State of the Union speech.

Beshear told the Herald-Leader on Monday that he and his wife were "honored" to receive the invitation in a call last week from Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Obama repeatedly has hailed Beshear's work in implementing Kentucky's health-care exchange as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, and if tradition holds, he probably will do so again during the televised address. (The speech is set to start at 9 p.m. and will air on major broadcast and cable networks.)

"I appreciate his hard work in getting the Affordable Care Act passed to give me the opportunity to change the course of Kentucky's history when it comes to health care," Beshear said of Obama.
Hey, Alison: come out of that repug-lite closet you're cowering in and acknowledge this honor and the reason for it.  There are tens of thousands of disappointed Democratic voters in Kentucky just waiting for a reason to start voting again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The State of the Union is Raped By the Rich

In tomorrow night's State of the Union address, President Obama will certainly not call for the immediate, public execution of the obscenely wealthy.
That's a damn shame, because it's what the majority of Americans want right now. Why? Because this, from Digby:
It seems almost superfluous to point out the obvious, but there are some very good reasons that animosity toward the top tenth of one percent of incomes is so high. They're simple enough that they can easily be expressed without comment in chart form.

Reasons like this one:

Or this one:

And it wasn't by accident, or because "captialism" or "invisible sky wizard likes me better." It's because the one percent steal the rest of us blind.


Responding to the depressing news that the administration has succumbed to elite pressure to "tone down" the rhetoric about wealth inequality, Damon Silvers, special counsel for the AFL-CIO, points out the uncomfortable truth:

[T]he president faces a choice of rhetoric on Tuesday night—but that choice is not just about political gamesmanship. It will have serious policy implications. But there is also an issue of simple credibility. The American people are watching, and they are furious about inequality. Large majorities in poll after poll want a more progressive tax system, accountability for bankers, less power in public life for corporations and the rich and, most of all, higher wages.

The public’s anger shouldn’t be a surprise—anyone whose eyes are open who lives in today’s America knows that inequality doesn’t just happen. The 1% make it happen.

Just look around.

This week, as the president drafted his speech, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase got a 74% raise, taking his salary from $11 million to $20 million. Since much of his compensation is in the form of stock and stock options, he will pay 20% taxes on those gains, less than the marginal tax rate for many middle-income Americans.

Jamie Dimon runs a bank that just paid the largest civil penalty in American history for a single company, for misconduct in the mortgage markets. Nonetheless, Dimon and his colleagues at JPMorgan Chase appear as of now to have avoided all criminal penalties and all personal responsibility for their actions.

And meanwhile since 2008, 10 million families have been thrown out of their homes and more than 3 million Americans have been incarcerated, the majority for non-violent offenses involving sums and social consequences a bit smaller than what went on at Chase.

Then there is Walmart. Walmart is the largest employer in the country—1.4 million people work for Walmart. Last summer, Walmart associates went on strike, demanding that Walmart pay a minimum of $25,000 a year. Walmart is majority owned by the Walton family, the richest family in the world. Walmart has responded to its employees’ exercising their legal right to ask for a wage barely enough to keep a family of four out of poverty by firing people brave enough to stand up to them. The National Labor Relations Board has issued formal complaints against Walmart, but our labor laws are so weak the Walton family is much less worried than Dimon that making money by breaking the law might actually come back to haunt them.

Finally, there is the actual policy agenda of America’s elites—measures that will put more downward pressure on wages. Every trade agreement we have done since The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been based on the same template, and the cumulative effect has been a huge trade deficit that saps our economy, loses millions of jobs and continues the relentless downward pressure on wages. Yet the Obama administration is using that same template again in drafting the Trans Pacific Partnership, the biggest trade deal the United States has ever done, and the implementing the same process, Fast Track, that gave us NAFTA with no questions asked.

As Silver adroitly points out:

Grotesque inequality kills the American Dream because the American Dream is not the fantasy that we can all be rich, or the fact that a few of us will be rich. It’s about what happens for the vast majority of people who work hard, who contribute to the life of our country, who will never get rich but who deserve lives of economic security and dignity, who should get their share of the vast wealth they produce. Our economy used to do just that, and now it doesn’t, but it can again if we choose to make it so.
Elites believe that all that matters is that the possibility exists for someone to get rich. After all, that's their highest value, so it must be that for everyone. But acquiring great wealth isn't the holy grail for most people --- the vast majority just want to live a decent, fulfilling life and provide well for their children. That was the American Dream as I understood it many years ago, anyway. Sure, some people have the drive and ambition to make a lot of money. But that's not the be all and end all of human experience and if you build a Darwinian system based solely on those values I think it's fairly obvious what kind of society you end up with. It isn't pretty.

Would You Do Any of These Jobs for $7.25 an Hour - or Less?

Funny how the people who really keep this country running day to day get paid the least.

- Here are 11 jobs that feature low-pay and would greatly benefit from a significant minimum wage increase
Truckers. Housekeepers. Home Health Aide. Big-box Store Worker. Fast-Food Counter Person.

Seriously those are not people you want distracted from their work because they are worried about feeding their children or pissed off at everyone who makes more money than they do - which is everybody.

If wages had kept pace with productivity over the last 40 years, minimum wage would be $20 per hour. Congressional proposals to raise the minimum to $10.10 are insulting, but apparently the best we can do.

Rep. Alan Grayson:
Every person who works full-time should make enough money to survive. Yet the federal minimum wage is only $7.25 an hour, and millions of people are saying, "I can't survive on $7.25."

$7.25 an hour - if you work full-time, that's only $1,257 per month. If you make only the minimum wage, that's all you have available to pay for food, rent, transportation, utilities, clothing, healthcare and taxes. For yourself, and your children. What about paying for education or vacations, or saving for a rainy day? Forget about it.

$7.25 an hour doesn't seem like very much - unless you're a waiter or waitress. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is a measly $2.13 an hour.

Waiters, waitresses, bellhops, porters and other tipped employees are three times more likely than other workers to suffer poverty. They are twice as likely to need food stamps to avoid hunger. It's absurd to pay any American only $2.13 an hour for his work. That's less than the minimum wage in Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

For four years now, no one who makes the federal minimum wage has received a raise. Tipped employees who work for the federal minimum wage haven't received a raise in more than a decade. As a result, millions of Americans, who are working forty hours a week, and 52 weeks a year, are mired in poverty. They are struggling to feed their children, and keep a roof over their heads.

It is time to raise the minimum wage, and I'm trying to do just that. I've introduced a bill called the 'Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2013' (H.R.1346). My bill increases the federal minimum wage to $10.50 per hour, and applies that figures to waiters, waitresses and all other tipped employees. Sign our petition to raise the minimum wage at

Let me tell you why I call it the 'Catching Up to 1968 Act.' In 1968, the federal minimum wage was $1.60 per hour. If we had increased that with the cost of living, just as we do for Social Security benefits and military pensions, today's minimum wage would be $10.50 per hour. In terms of purchasing power, today we pay our lowest-paid workers less than what we paid them in 1968 - much, much less.

My bill would increase wages for 30 million Americans. What will they do with that money? Spend it, and strengthen our economy. Every one of those minimum wage workers also is a consumer. That's one reason why more than 100 economists support my bill. They explained that raising the minimum wage will improve "the living standards for low-wage workers and their families and will help stabilize the economy."

Let me put it this way: You shouldn't have to work for chicken feed, unless you're a chicken. You shouldn't work for small potatoes, unless you're a field mouse or a raccoon. You shouldn't get a Mickey Mouse paycheck, unless you're . . . .

You get the idea.

Let's show our respect for hard work by showing our respect for workers. Let's help the people who need help, and who deserve help.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Abortion Smarm

Anyone who advises you to "compromise" with an opponent who won't accept anything less than your death does not have your best interests at heart.

And pro-choice "centrists" are no friends of reproductive freedom.

Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money

Another reminder that the “centrist” arguments that pro-choicers should concede that abortion is icky and accede to a grab bag of arbitrary abortion regulations in order to attract the non-existent opponents of legal abortion who would settle for expanded access to contraception instead of banning abortion were smarm before it had been definitively defined.

Create a Secular Safe Zone

It doesn't have to be in a school.  Every place I've ever worked - especially the supposedly secular government offices - bullied and demeaned non-believers.  What I wouldn't have given to have known that in one office I could find relief from the scorn and the pressure.

Via Divine Irony and the Atlantic:

Despite secularism and atheism being on the rise, some areligious students feel discriminated against—at times violently. Now teachers across the U.S. are creating Secular Safe Zones to “curtail anti-atheist bullying, discrimination, and social isolation.”
The Secular Safe Zone initiative is designed to create “safe, neutral places for students to talk about their doubts without fear of religious bullying.” That’s done by recruiting “allies” and training them to recognize and respond to anti-atheist bullying. The initiative is modeled off of Gay Alliance’s LGBT Safe Zone program, which was started several years ago, in that it allows mentors at schools to explicitly demarcate spaces where “students know that bullying won’t be tolerated.”
School faculty members who affiliate with the program never have to say a thing; they hang the yellow, green, pink, and blue emblem, and students come to them.
“It’s shocking how often people tell secular students that they don’t belong in America,” Jesse Galef, communications director for the SSA told me. “Sometimes there are threats of violence against students who openly identify as atheists … We’re calling on supportive role models nationwide to stand up for these students.” That can include “teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, RAs, even chaplains, who want to create safe places for people to discuss their doubts and be open about their identities.”

Give Me Human Justice Every Time

Via Divine Irony:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Everything the Antis Say About Abortion Is A Lie

They have to lie: all the facts and all the science are on the side of reproductive freedom and the women who practice it.


In case you were wondering:

Getting a legal abortion is much safer than giving birth, suggests a new U.S. study published Monday.

Researchers found that women were about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion.

Experts say the findings, though not unexpected, contradict some state laws that suggest abortions are high-risk procedures.

The message is that getting an abortion and giving birth are both safe, said Dr. Anne Davis, who studies obstetrics and gynecology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and wasn't involved in the new study.
The point being that all these anti-choicers who insist that abortions are dangerous are liars. What else is new?

Income Inequality Is Easy to Fix: Just Stop the Wealthy Moochers

Yeah, all that bullshit about the deficit and the country can't afford it and shared sacrifice is just misdirection to keep you from noticing that the motherfucking parasitic rich are stealing everything the middle class has built.

Pierce Nahigyan at Nation of Change:

The wealth and income inequalities in America do not require socialist reforms to fix, and capitalism is not the problem. The problem is that we have let inequality advance in this country so gradually that its obviousness is masked by its familiarity. 


1) 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. To put that into context, as of 2013 there are an estimated 316,128,839 people living in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just 400 Americans have more money than over 158 million of their fellow citizens. Their net worth is over $2 trillion, which is approximate to the Gross Domestic Product of Russia. This ratio has been verified by Politifact and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. One explanation for the vast discrepancy in wealth is the definition of “worth,” which includes everything a person or household owns. This means savings and property but also mortgages, bills and debt. Poorer households can owe so much in debt that they possess a negative net worth. 


4) Non-union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. The Economic Policy Institute claims that 20% of the growth in the wage gap between high-school educated and college educated men can be attributed to deunionization. Between 1978 and 2011, union representation for blue-collar and high-school educated workers declined by more than half. This has also diminished the “union wage effect,” whereby the existence of unions (more than 40% of blue-collar workers were union members in ’78) was enough to boost wages in non-union jobs - in high school graduates by as much as 8.2%. Not only did unions protect lower- and middle-class workers from unfair wages, they also established norms and practices that were then adopted by non-union employers. Two prime examples are employee pensions and healthcare. Today about 13% of workers belong to unions, which has reduced their bargaining power and influence.


6) Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs. Krueger also revealed that the tax cuts of the 2000s for top earners did not improve the economy any better than they did in the 1990s (meanwhile, income growth was stronger for lower- and middle-class families in the 1990s than in the last forty years). Tax rates for the top income earners in America peaked in 1945 at 66.4 percent. Following decades of gradual reductions, they have since been cut in half. During the same time, the payroll tax has increased since the 1950s and individual income tax has bounced between 40-50% through the present day. Conversely, corporate tax declined from above 30% in the 1950s to under 10% in 2011. All of these tax cuts are made ostensibly to improve the economy and create jobs. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that it is young companies, “regardless of their size,” that are the real job creators in America. Tax cuts to the wealthiest do not create jobs

7) Incomes for the top 1% have increased (but the top 0.01% make even more). Between 1979 and 2007, the average incomes of the 1% increased 241%. Compare that to 19% growth for the middle fifth of America and 11% for the bottom fifth. Put another way, in 1980 the average American CEO earned forty-two times as much as his average worker. In 2001, he earned 531 times as much
Average income across the 1% is actually stratified into widely disparate echelons. Compare the $29,840 average income for the bottom 90% to the $161,139 of the top 10%. Compare the $1 million average income of the top 1% to the $2.8 million of the top 0.1%. Yet both still pale beside the $23 million average income of the top 0.01%. 

If those numbers seem a bit overwhelming, Politizane has created a video that illustrates this staggering inequality:

Don't Hold Your Breath for Beshear and Rogers to Keep Broadband Promise

I've been covering the broadband-coming-to-Kentucky lies for going on five years now, and we have yet to see a pixel of actual high-speed access.

Anybody care to bet me that this time last year we still won't have seen a new pixel?

Governor Steve Beshear joined Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers today to announce an ambitious state and federal investment to extend critically-needed high-speed broadband Internet access to the furthest reaches of the Commonwealth. 

The underserved eastern Kentucky region will be the first priority area for the project, which will be supported by $60 million in state bonds and $40 million in federal and private sources.

“Access to high-speed and high-quality Internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity in the 21st century economy.  Businesses and schools demand it,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our communities that lack reliable high-speed access will lag behind in economic development, distance learning and advanced health technologies, and that’s unacceptable.”

“The new ‘Super I-way’ will level the playing field,” said Congressman Rogers. “It takes away our historic barriers to better jobs, the difficult terrain and isolation. All of a sudden, the world is flat and the famed superior work ethic of our people will be able to compete with the world from home.”

Currently, Kentucky ranks 46th in high-speed broadband Internet availability. Nearly a quarter of the Commonwealth’s population -- 23 percent -- have no access to broadband.  The Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway will offer affordable and accessible high-speed broadband to reduce the barriers of geography for businesses and citizens.

The Commonwealth will partner with the Center for Rural Development for the first phase of the project in eastern Kentucky, leveraging various federal funds and private investment to attain access throughout the region.  The Center has initiated a feasibility study that will be complete in the next several weeks outlining the costs and plans of meeting eastern Kentucky’s broadband needs.
It goes on for thousands of more mendacious words, but I'll spare you.

High-speed broadband goes two places and two places only: densely-populated cities where telecoms can make obscene profits on minimum investment, and small towns whose progressive governments provide universal broadband at public expense.

As long as the Beshear/Rogers plan is dependent on private companies to serve rural counties, it's doomed to fail.

Fun fact: this press release from Governor's Beshear's Office is nowhere to be found among all the state press releases on But it is prominent on Hal Rogers' website, to which no, you may not have a link..

"Sexual assault is an affront to our basic decency and humanity."

You could start, Mr. President, by taking military sexual assault cases out of the chain of command while holding officers responsible for rapists under their command. Then you could add factual sex education that corrects rape culture to the new common core standards for public schools.

Full transcript here.

AynRandy Just Can't Stop Thinking About All Those Sluts Fucking for Free

If you think women shouldn't have more kids, how about giving them free birth control?  And free abortions? And free vasectomies for their partners?

Because that's not the point, is it?

Sam Youngman at the Herald:

During a Lexington luncheon Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul discussed the possibility of cutting government benefits for unwed mothers who have multiple children, though the potential Republican candidate for president in 2016 didn't directly endorse such a policy.

During a question-and-answer period following his remarks at a Commerce Lexington luncheon, Paul responded to a question about workforce development by including a warning about unwed young mothers doomed to poverty.

Although he said the job of preventing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies should be left to communities and families, Paul left open the possibility of a role for government.

"Maybe we have to say 'enough's enough, you shouldn't be having kids after a certain amount,'" Paul told the business group at one point.
Yep, starving their children will teach those whores the right lesson.

As Mike Huckabee so recently illustrated, the real problem here is that repug men simply cannot deal with female sexuality.

I'll bet that this that gets to the nub of the problem a lot of these conservative men don't want to think about. Their wives don't want to have a lot of sex with their husbands, and their wives are good women. Therefore, women who want to have sex are dirty sluts. They must be. Otherwise the fact that no one wants to have sex with the Mike Huckabees of the world (at least unless they are paid to do so) might just reflect badly on the men rather than the women.

After all, if a man can't even be bothered to figure out how birth control works, I'm going to guess he hasn't spent a lot of time figuring out how a woman's sexual response works either.
I sincerely hope for her sake that Mrs. Tribble-Toupeed One is fucking the brains out of the pool boy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Whatever You Do, Don't Ask a Cop for Help

From Firedoglake:

- In North Carolina, a police officer shot a man 10 times and killed who asked for help after his car crash. The officer’s punishment? Well the jury found him not guilty so he’s scot-free!

Climate Scientist Wins First Round Against Denialists

This, children, is why you must always stand up to bullies, fight them and fight them hard until they go down and stay down.

Mother Jones:
In 2012—after writers for National Review and a prominent conservative think tank accused him of fraud and compared him to serial child molester Jerry Sandusky—climate scientist Michael Mann took the bold step of filing a defamation suit. The defendants moved to have the case thrown out, citing a Washington, DC, law that shields journalists from frivolous litigation. But on Wednesday, DC Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg rejected the motion, opening the way for a trial.
Although public figures like Mann have to clear a high bar to prove defamation, Weisberg argued that the scientist's complaint may pass the test. And he brushed aside the defendants' claims that the fraud allegations were "pure opinion," which is protected by the First Amendment:
Accusing a scientist of conducting his research fraudulently, manipulating his data to achieve a predetermined or political outcome, or purposefully distorting the scientific truth are factual allegations. They go to the heart of scientific integrity. They can be proven true or false. If false, they are defamatory. If made with actual malice, they are actionable.
Weisberg's order is just the latest in a string of setbacks that have left the climate change skeptics' case in disarray. Earlier this month, Steptoe & Johnson, the law firm representing National Review and its writer, Mark Steyn, withdrew as Steyn's counsel. According to two sources with inside knowledge, it also plans to drop National Review as a client.

As for Mann, he welcomes the recent ruling. "I'm pleased that the judge has reaffirmed the merit of our case and has allowed it to now move on to the discovery phase," he told Mother Jones. Beyond that, he declined to comment, but he has written about his reasons for coming out aggressively in his own defense. "As the staid scientific journal Nature put it, climate researchers are in a street fight with those who seek to discredit the accepted scientific evidence, and we must fight back against the disinformation that denies this real and present danger to the planet," he explained on the liberal blog ThinkProgress. "The worst thing we can do is bury our heads in the sand and pretend that climate change doesn’t exist."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

QOTD: Charles Pierce

Re the plant explosion in Oklahoma:

Kendrick Houston was brave enough to go back into the fire. Yet too many of our politicians, local and national, don't have the simple stones t stand up to a corporate class that has come to represent nothing but death and pillage. But they will show up at the funerals, boy. They will do that, and they will talk about the indomitable spirit of American individualism, through which people will run back into the fire, and then they will go out onto the stump next fall and talk about how the dead hand of government regulation is stifling that same spirit, and that freedom demands more victims. The American Dream becomes the province of the dead, Moloch with stock options, and that is the country today, where things fall down and things blow up and almost nothing ever changes.

Take It Up the Ass Just Once, Mike. You'll Feel Better

I try to never underestimate repug ignorance and insularity, but do these guys really not realize what saying shit like this reveals about their pathetic personal lives?

You, too, Steve.

Kentucky Senate Passes Women-Are-Just-Incubators Bill

As long as Steve Beshear is governor and Democratic legislators hold the state House, this motherfucker is going nowhere.

But right now it's looking highly likely that repugs will take the state house this fall for the first time in decades, and even more likely that repug Jamie Comer will take the Governor's Mansion in 2015.

Then we will find out just how terrible life is in Mississippi, because that's where repugs will take us.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Get Your "Legal" 'Bortions Quick Before They're All Gone

I wasn't going to post anything about the Roe anniversary today, because jesus fucking christ it's so infuriating and depressing and stupid beyond description.

But then I read Kaili Joy Gray at Wonkette, who takes all the righteous anger and the bottomless grief and turns it into something goddamned funny that also sends you out into the streets to fight - again.

Forty-one years ago today, the Supreme Court made the bold declaration that what a woman does with her uterus is her own fucking business (before a fetus is viable, and then it gets kind of murky). And we Vagina-Americans have been fighting to remind the country that no, seriously, this is our legal right for reals, ever since.

And of course we’ve had state after state after state come up with all kinds of donkeyshit legislation (that’s a technical term) to restrict abortion so that it’s basically illegal. Like, you can only have an abortion if you have eleventeen appointments with your doctor first, and your doctor has to describe to you how if you don’t KILL YOUR BABY, it might grow up to be blond and blue-eyed and be a star quarterback and maybe the next Jesus and/or Mozart so are you SURE you want to kill your baby, you whore? Go home and think about it for 24 hours, or even 72 hours, and then come back, hear the speech again, look at some pictures, and then MAYBE you can have that abortion if you still really want it. Whore.
Many of those laws have been overturned because of that whole Roe v. Wade thing that says abortion is legal so you can’t actually make it illegal because it is legal, you dumbasses. But that does not stop them from trying again and again and again some more.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in 1973, the great defenders of “life” (where “life” means unborn babies, but not people who are executed because that’s totally not the same thing, and funny how “pro-lifers” are also super pro-death penalty and also pro-war, but hey, let’s not bother to point out the hypocrisy because that would be mean), we’ve also seen thousands and thousands of terrorist attacks on abortion providers and their patients because nothing says “pro-life” like bombing a clinic or assassinating a doctor IN HIS CHURCH. (Now is a good time, because it’s always a good time, to remind you that Cheryl Sullenger, the senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue, one of the nation’s most prominent anti-choice organizations, served actual time in actual prison for trying to blow up an abortion clinic. You know, for life.)
Sigh. We are depressed (whatcha gonna do about that, Justice Kennedy?) that more than four decades later, we are still fighting this stupid war to remind the country that we are TOO allowed to make our own decisions about whether and when to pop some babies out of our bodies. We are even more depressed that we have less access and more restrictions now than we did in 1973. We are damned near suicidal that when we look in the mirror, we do not see PROPERTY OF THE STATE tattooed on our lady parts, but apparently it is there in invisible ink only men can read.
So we are going to go to the nearest abortion clinic — which, in most parts of the country, is now several counties and many hundreds of miles away, since those bastards have been so effective at shutting down clinics — and get ourselves some abortions while we still can, before the “pro-lifers” asterisk our rights right out of existence altogether.

Privatization of Public Service Steals from the Poor

It's not just traffic tickets. Everywhere I go these days, contract employees pretending to be public servants demand money in the form of fees for providing public services that my tax dollars already pay for: parks, libraries, community centers, and more.

The working class pays higher taxes to provide public services that are free only to the rich, who pay lower taxes. Worked like a charm for lords and serfs in the Middle Ages.

Kevin Drum;

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is now behind an Iron Curtain-like paywall, which is too bad since apparently they ran a great story yesterday about Georgia's practice of using private companies to collect fines and fees in the criminal justice system. I'll farm out the job of summarizing the story to the Economist's Jon Fasman:
It works like this: say you get a $200 speeding ticket, and you don't have the money to pay it. You are placed on probation, and for a monthly supervisory fee you can pay the fine off in instalments over the course of your probation term. The devil, as ever, is in the details....Those supervisory fees vary markedly: in Cobb County, for instance, just north of Atlanta, the government charges a $22 monthly fee. Private companies charge $39, and often add extra costs on top of that to cover drug testing, electronic monitoring and even classes they decide offenders need.
....Even worse, people who fail to pay the fines imposed by these private companies can find warrants for their arrests sworn out and the period of their probation extended. I spoke with an attorney for a couple in Alabama who say they were threatened with Tasers and the removal of their children if they did not pay the company what they owed. In 2012 a court found that the fees levied by private-probation companies in Harpersville, Alabama, could turn a $200 fine and a year's probation into $2,100 in fees and fines stretched over 41 months.
Isn't that great? It's the free market at work, all right. It reminds me of last year's piece in the Washington Post about the privatization of the debt collection in Washington DC:
For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.
But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.
As the housing market soared, the investors scooped up liens in every corner of the city, then started charging homeowners thousands in legal fees and other costs that far exceeded their original tax bills, with rates for attorneys reaching $450 an hour.
You may remember this as the story of the 76-year-old man struggling with dementia who was thrown out on the street and had his house seized because of a mix-up over a $134 property tax bill. That in turn might remind you of all the stories you've heard about civil asset forfeiture, where local police agencies groundlessly extort property from people convicted of no crimes, and then use the money "for purchasing equipment and getting things you normally wouldn’t be able to get to fight crime."
Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How Repugs Will Keep Winning State Elections Forever: Anti-Educating Future Voters

Do you know what's in the textbooks your tax dollars are buying and using to indoctrinate the generation that will vote to take away your civil rights?

Better find out.

PZ Myers:

Zack Kopplin has a very thorough exposé of the Responsive Ed charter schools in Texas. Charter schools are an alternative to the standard public school system, but they receive public funding, your tax dollars, and are therefore required to follow the same legal strictures as all public schools. And that means no religious indoctrination.

The Responsive Ed schools are simply yet another manifestation of the creationist ideal: they teach creationism flat out, and they also mislead and cast false doubts on evolutionary science. They also use the Christian bible as a source.
Outright creationism appears in Responsive Ed’s section on the origins of life. It’s not subtle. The opening line of the workbook section, just as the opening line of the Bible, declares, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
There’s the usual ignorance of how science works, too.
Another Responsive Ed section claims thatDo  evolution cannot be tested, something biologists have been doing for decades. It misinforms students by claiming, “How can scientists do experiments on something that takes millions of years to accomplish? It’s impossible.”
The Texas legislature ought to be sitting up in alarm at these gross illegalities…but as it turns out, state senator Dan Patrick, chair of the Texas Senate Education Committee, is also promoting Responsive Ed. Sorry, Texas, you’re doomed. As long as you keep electing these assnuggets to run your educational system, you’re not going to have competent education.

It’s not just evolution, either. Kopplin lists all the lies that are taught about history, other countries, feminism, stem cells, gay rights, sex ed, you name it.

Texas: screwing over another generation. Thanks, guys.
But it's not screwing over the next generation; it's screwing over us: the liberals and minorities and atheists and feminists whose rights that next generation will vote to eliminate.