Friday, February 28, 2014

Positive Thinking Will Kill You

I've always known that pessimistic cynics like me are actually far happier than opimistic idealists (who's more like to  be never disappointed and frequently pleasantly surprisde: people who expect the worst or people who expect the best?)

But now there's science to prove that positive thinking is positively negative.

From the New Yorker, via Divine Irony:

…According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images, or fantasies on the subject of transition into work life, graduating from university, looking for and finding a job.” Two years later, they approached the same students and asked about their post-college job experiences. Those who harbored positive fantasies put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers, and ultimately earned lower salaries. The same was true in other contexts, too. Students who fantasized were less likely to ask their romantic crushes on a date and more likely to struggle academically. Hip-surgery patients also recovered more slowly when they dwelled on positive fantasies of walking without pain…

In a provocative new analysis, Oettingen and her colleagues have suggested that public displays of positive thinking may even predict downturns in major macroeconomic outcomes…

It's Not Like Poor People Are Really Human

Stealing from and humiliating homeless people is not shooting them dead in cold blood, or tasering them to death for nothing, but it reveals the same vicious, psychotic mindset that has no place in public servants being paid tax dollars to protect and serve the populace - the entire populace.

Carimah Townes at Think Progress:

Months after their conduct was discovered, two police officers were disciplined for making a game of stealing signs from homeless people in Midland, Texas — and many believe the cops’ punishment was not harsh enough to fit the offense.

In the town with an estimated 300 homeless people, investigators reported 8 signs in Officer Derek Hester’s patrol vehicle, and Officer Daniel Zoelzer was discovered to have trashed an additional 10. Both officers claimed that they took the signs after issuing trespass warnings, but no such warnings were recorded in 2013. Text messages between the two show the officers expressing concerns about being found out, although one of the men’s texts read, “Oh I don’t care lol I’m not worried.” After an internal investigation, which was not originally publicized, Hester and Zoelzer were suspended for three unpaid days.

Zoelzer and Hester were first probed when another, unidentified cop reported Hester for procuring brass knuckles and refusing to turn them in as evidence; the police department learned of the game when looking into the matter. The suspension occurred two months after the police department first heard about the officers’ misconduct, but despite backlash, Police Chief Price Robinson contends that the disciplinary measure was satisfactory.
Police Chief says three days' suspension is sufficient punishment for treating like dogs people they were supposed to be helping.

I think we've identified the source of the problem, and it's not homeless people.

Midland's also oil country, and an old hangout of Smirky/Darth's.  I'll bet Dubya and Cheney think what those cops did is fucking hilarious.

But Midland's full of poor-bashing amateurs compared to Georgia, where they want the poors to just die in the streets.

If Wendy Davis Can Say This in Texas, Alison Grimes Can Say It in Kentucky

But she won't.  Because unlike true-blue Democratic candidate Davis, Grimes is a repug-lite fake dem with fear and greed where her values should be.

From Wonkette:

Wonkette hero and perpetual state legislature lady-crush Wendy Davis once again set our hearts fluttering:
“I believe that all Texans who love one another and are committed to spending their lives together should be allowed to marry,” Davis said in a statement.
And while we're on the subject, how about a Kentucky Democratic Party Chair who actually "loves being a Democrat"?

The Privilege of Gay Marriage

Mitch and AynRandy Kill Veterans Benefits Increase

All right, Kentucky veterans, I know most of you are republicans and you hate President Obama. Is this really what you want from your only U.S. Senators?  Sacrificing veterans to kick sand in the face of That Ni**er in the White House?  Do you really think McConnell and Paul are acting on "principle?"  Do you think they give a flying fuck about you?  How fucking stupid are you?

Yes, those two worthless pieces of shit are exactly what you deserve.  But the rest of us don't.

From the Washington Post:

A divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education and job-training benefits for the nation’s veterans. The bill fell victim to election-year disputes over spending and fresh penalties against Iran.


Republicans used a procedural move to block the bill after Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chided GOP lawmakers about their priorities.

“I personally, I have to say this honestly, have a hard time understanding how anyone could vote for tax breaks for billionaires, for millionaires, for large corporations and then say we don’t have the resources to protect our veterans,” said Sanders, the measure’s chief author.
The Post plays false equivalence by pretending the Democratic members are equally to blame, but that is a lie.

Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul hate Kentucky's veterans and don't you ever forget it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Same-Sex Marriages Now Recognized in KY: Fake Democratic AG Objects

Everybody who still wonders why repug-lite Jack Conway couldn't muster up enough Democratic votes to beat the Tribble-Toupeed One in 2010, stand on your head.

John Cheves at the Herald:

Same-sex marriages performed in other states are legal in Kentucky under a final order issued Thursday by a federal judge in Louisville.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II issued an order early Thursday afternoon that strikes down portions of a 1998 state law and a 2004 state constitutional amendment defining marriage in Kentucky as between one man and one woman, and that prohibited the state from recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

"To the extent (that state laws) deny validly married same-sex couples equal recognition and benefits under Kentucky and federal law, those laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable," Heyburn wrote in his two-sentence order.

Under the ruling, same-sex couples married in other states are now entitled to the legal benefits all other married couples in Kentucky receive, such as the ability to file joint tax returns.

Earlier Thursday, Attorney General Jack Conway asked Heyburn for a stay to delay for 90 days the implementation of his order.
I'm sure Allison Lundergan Grimes has something mushy and meaningless to say, but I really can't be bothered.

AynRandy: Fuck Public Health, We Need More GUNZZZZ!

Truly, only Wonkette can do the Tribble-Toupeed One justice:

Has it been more than ten minutes since Rand Paul reared his ugly reactionary head to yammer about if only you could keep a nuclear silo made of guns in the bedroom, you could defend your home against all enemies? It has? Then it must be time for another installment of How Criminally Awful Is Rand Paul? Today’s episode teaches us that he is really really awful!

The youngest cruelest Paul is trying to block Obama’s nomination for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Generally, the surgeon general post is not a particularly controversial thing, because most people dig on promoting public health, unless they are idiots named Rand Paul. (A notable exception, of course, is Joycelyn Elders, Clinton’s surgeon general that got herself tossed because she didn’t hate the idea of children masturbating enough for Republicans.) Does Dr. Vivek Murthy want children to touch themselves? Not to the best of our knowledge, but he does unforgivably believe in regulating guns so people don’t just get themselves killed all over the place, and this sentiment is completely unacceptable to Rand Paul because guns guns gunsgunsgunsGUNSGUNS.
“In his efforts to curtail Second Amendment rights, Dr. Murthy has continually referred to guns as a public health issue on par with heart disease and has diminished the role of mental health in gun violence,” wrote Paul in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “As a physician, I am deeply concerned that he has advocated that doctors use their position of trust to ask patients, including minors, details about gun ownership in the home…Dr. Murthy has disqualified himself from being Surgeon General because of his intent to use that position to launch an attack on Americans’ right to own a firearm under the guise of a public health and safety campaign.”
Ohemgee! Can you imagine a world where doctors are allowed to ask if you have guns and if that makes you feel a little bit not safe? Those doctors might as well drive to your house and steal the guns right out of your kids’ hands. Funny you should mention the whole part about how you’re a physician, Rand Paul, since pretty much every other physician believes that having shooty things in the house exacerbates public health issues because of how people get deaded from gunshots.

It gets even better.

And of course the good doctor's not-quite-Mayflower-descendant name and appearance have nothing to do with AynRandy's disapproval.

Because Who Cares If "Hosts" Suffer and Die

It's good that the vicious "pro-life" motherfuckers aren't bothering to hide their real agenda anymore, but it's also a sign of how powerful they've become, and how acceptable their real agenda is in far too many places. Like Kentucky.


I frequently use the inflammatory phrase "birthing vessels" to describe how the anti-abortion zealots see women, and have taken a fair amount of grief for it from liberal allies who think I'm unnecessarily upsetting all those millions of truly decent people who are morally unsettled by the idea that women are just getting themselves pregnant willy-nilly and killing little babies for their own convenience. After all, nobody really thinks that women are just vessels, right?

"I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive," Martin wrote. "However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it."
That's what a woman is to these people: a "host" for a child. Not even a human being.

From the beginning women have been, at best, second class citizens. First they were property, now they are "hosts", but no matter what, their basic human rights are always tenuous and always subject to being redefined.

The man who revealed this little insight into his true beliefs has changed the word "host" on his Facebook page to say "bearer of the child" instead. I think he actually believes that makes a difference.
 Because this is what they really want.


From Hullabaloo:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First Battle Won on Eminent Domain; Get Ready for the Next

It's still got to pass the full House, then the Senate, then the governor, and even then it just prevents the company from stealing land from people who oppose the pipeline.

But it's a real victory, and one we've got to build on.
Greg Kocher at the Herald:

In an 11-1 vote Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a committee substitute for House Bill 31 that prevents natural gas liquids pipelines such as the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline from invoking eminent domain.

The bill clarifies state law so that natural gas liquids — which Bluegrass Pipeline would carry through 13 Kentucky counties — would not be oil or gas products, so private land could not be seized through eminent domain to build its infrastructure. The bill's primary sponsor, Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

One lawmaker who spoke in support of the bill said it wouldn't block the pipeline.

"Any legislation we consider today is not going to kill Bluegrass Pipeline," said Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown. "They just won't be able to use eminent domain to condemn property from people who don't want it to be done."

Tom FitzGerald, a lawyer for the Kentucky Resources Council, said the bill sends a message that Bluegrass Pipeline must treat private landowners fairly.

"This is an issue that resonates all across the political spectrum," FitzGerald said. "People don't like to be pushed around. They don't like somebody saying, 'I want to voluntarily enter into partnership with you, but if you don't grant me what I want, I can take you to court and make you spend thousands of dollars you'll never see again just to vindicate your right to be left alone.'"

Asked about the bill's chances for passage in the full House and Senate, FitzGerald said it's easier to kill a bill than to pass one.

But he added: "We have felt across the board that legislators are keenly aware and keenly concerned that landowners need to be dealt with in a fair manner without this cloud of eminent domain hanging over their heads."
 Lots of work still ahead, so keep calling the Legislative Message Line1-800-372-7181 to tell your legislators and the leadership of both chambers to support House Bill 31 and Senate Bill 14. Call every day, and get your family, your friends, your coworkers and your neighbors to call, too. The company is pouring millions of dollars into its campaign of lies and intimidation; all we have is ourselves.  Call!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If Only All the Guntards Would Do This

Think Progress:

On Sunday evening, a 36-year-old was showing his girlfriend how safe his guns were by holding them to his head and pulling the trigger, when one of them fired, according to reports by the girlfriend to police. The victim, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene in his Oakland County, Mich., home. The girlfriend said the victim had been drinking most of the day, according to CBS Detroit.

Accidental gun deaths are alarmingly common. But they sometimes occur even while in pursuit of gun safety. Just last week, a Florida man accidentally shot himself in the leg just after leaving a gun safety class. He said he had been inspecting the new gun and had been “manipulating the slide,” according to the Palm Beach Post. Last year in Ohio, a gun safety instructor accidentally shot a student during class. And in 2012, a Virginia man accidentally shot himself and his wife during a gun safety class.
Gun deaths are poised to surpass car accidents as the leading cause of death among young people. A dearth of public health research on guns has left us with little direction about how best to curb these deaths.

Whatever You Do, Don't Call the Police

That's not snark; that's life-saving advice.

The plan is working: undermine public confidence in government while turning law enforcement agencies into militarized gangs of thugs so that everyone needs a personal arsenal to protect themselves and voila! It's the North American Somalia, where only the super rich enjoy civilization.


A man called police to report a bicycle accident. The police arrived and thought he failed to respond to their orders for him to leave the street quickly enough. He was brutalized, arrested and thrown naked into solitary confinement for the night. He made the mistake of thinking he had rights.

No charges were filed.
One friend told me that I should chalk this up as another of life’s brutal lessons, that I should just be quiet, move on, and record this in my personal diary (if I must), and only return to these thoughts again if I am one day rich and powerful, when my decisions and donations can make a difference in the police force and civil affairs, and even then I might not really care. Stay coy until you are out of reach of the system, he emphasized. You think you’re clear now, but how many things went the way you expected?

Is there a weird middle ground, an uncanny valley, where you have no access to justice? Unless you’re severely beaten with cameras rolling or really have nothing to lose, your wiser friends will tell you to shut up and deal.
Yes they will. This is how authoritarian societies get normal, everyday people to keep their heads down and be wary of involvement, worried that they don't have enough power to fight the system and too much to lose if they try. Don't get involved. Don't make waves. Move along.

And if it isn't the state, it's some power mad civilian with a gun looking for trouble.


Read the whole story. It could be you or me. It most certainly is anyone who makes the mistake of interacting with the wrong people without having white skin.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Proud to Be A Liberal

Where's the Kentucky Democratic candidate willing to make this speech? Because only that Democratic candidate will earn and receive the votes of tens of thousands of disappointed Democratic voters who are not going to budge from their sofas for the repug-lite likes of Alison Lundergan Grimes.


Speaking of speeches

.... this famous one by JFK on the meaning of liberalism is worth looking at once in a while:
September 14, 1960

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word "Liberal" to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a "Liberal," and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

In short, having set forth my view -- I hope for all time -- two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies...

Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world's history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

This is an important election -- in many ways as important as any this century -- and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the United States, should be associated with us in this great effort. The reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the world looked to us as a symbol of hope.
The conservative movement eventually succeeded in destroying that label and making it something shameful for average Americans to wear openly. ("I'm not a liberal or anything, but ...") So we became progressives. And that's fine, I guess. What's in a name, right? But it's still interesting to revisit what it meant half a century ago at the height of what people like to call the liberal consensus (something which obviously didn't really exist since the 1960 election was essentially a tie.) That speech is such a bold ideological statement, something you never hear Democrats do in the modern era. They hem and they haw and run from anything that might put them into a particular category they believe might offend some median voter out there whom they think could be persuaded to vote for them if only they were presented with a bucket of warm milk on the ballot.

The Republicans went the other way and adopted a hardcore identity as conservatives and it's largely worked for them, at least as it pertains to the ideas about government espoused in that Kennedy speech. The Tea Party may finally be tarnishing it a bit with its extremism, but they built up a lot of unearned credibility over the years so it will be quite a while before the Republicans feel compelled to change their label lest they be seen as out of the mainstream. I suspect they'll have a little more grit on that count than the Democrats with their irrational fear of hippies.

Born Atheists

Religion = child abuse.

Call Now to Stop the Bluegrass Pipeline

From the Bluegrass Blockade:

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED NOW! This is a crucial time in the battle against the proposed Bluegrass hazardous liquids Pipeline that is being planned for Kentucky. We are the ones who have to stop it! It can not be constructed safely in Kentucky, especially in light of the recent Corvette Museum cave-in and explosion in Adair County. The entire state is a network of sinkholes, caves and underground streams-- it should be clear what would happen if a sinkhole opened under a hazardous liquids pipeline.  Further, there is no existing technology that can detect all leaks.  If and when this pipeline leaks, the Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi rivers will become contaminated.  Millions of people will be affected.

All that stands between the Bluegrass and this pipeline are the landowners who've refused easements thru their property. Bluegrass Pipeline developers say they have eminent domain rights to put the pipeline through and legislation is now being considered by Kentucky's state legislators that would clarify eminent domain law with respect to the Bluegrass Pipeline. The property rights of Kentuckians are at stake: eminent domain should only be invoked for public utilities or a project that is clearly for the public benefit. This project will not benefit Kentuckians. The Bluegrass Pipeline is not a utility and will carry natural gas liquids to the Gulf Coast for processing and export.


Calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-372-7181 and leaving a message for all state representatives and senators.

PLEASE CALL TODAY! Please ask for their support of House Bill 31 and Senate Bill 14. We need votes from every legislator in the state to pass the eminent domain bill.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Gift of Music

The Moocher Maps

Yep, looks like the people who are doing all the aborting and the gay-marrying and the science-teaching and the humanist-valuing and the Democratic-candidate-electing are the exact same dirty fucking liberal hippies doing all the working and money-making and carrying the conservative, racist, misogynist, homophobic, freakazoid asshole parts of the country.

Two data points today, side by side. First:


I'm no economic royalist, preaching about producers and parasites. I don't much care. I believe that we're all one big human species, and that every single human being on earth deserves basic dignity and economic protection.

But it's very, very tiresome to watch a bunch of delusional narcissists taking urban tax dollars to pay for their rural infrastructure and safety nets (most SNAP recipients are white, remember) elect a bunch of jokers to Congress who prevent the people who actually pay the bills from solving big problems like climate change, healthcare, privacy, wealth inequality, poverty, and financial corruption. All while whining that "those people" in big cities are stealing their hard-earned munnee from Real 'Murica.

A bunch of people in Texas and Dixie want to secede to shed liberal America from their more perfect union. Fine. Quietly, a lot of liberals are sharing the sentiment. If we as a nation can't get started on solving our real problems, those voices are going to start growing much louder.

Proud Atheist

Churning Out Drones

Decades ago, a friend quite teaching kindergarten after many years because the "reformed" and "improved" public school system demanded she turn out what she called "peas in a pod" instead of allowing her to encourage each child's individuality.

That was the height of individualistic teaching compared to what the public education DEformers are trying to replace public education with today.


And that's really the whole point here: destroy teachers' unions, eliminate the possibility of the government being able to attract decent teachers, then use the resulting chaos to privatize the entire education system. The billionaires want to do this not only because private education is a big, booming business, but also because they want to change the way children are taught to make them more docile, pliable units fit for the brave new corporate workforce of the 21st century. That's what the anti-Proposition 30 efforts were all about, and that's what the Vergara case is all about.

It's certainly not designed to actually help children. We already know what produces good results in education, based on examples around the world: 1) incentivizing adults to pursue a career in teaching by paying a decent salary, 2) teaching real critical thinking skills instead of rote memorization; and 3) properly funding education. As long as teachers can barely make ends meet and our society encourages every bright college-age student to try to become the next Wolf of Wall Street or SnapChat millionaire, we're not going to be able to fix education--or anything in society for that matter. As long as we continue to preach the lie that anyone who can't do advanced calculus is not only destined to live in poverty but ought to do so, we can't fix education. And as long as we continue to believe that it's more important to lower taxes on billionaires than to properly fund our schools, we can't fix education.

We know how to fix education. But the billionaires aren't interested in actually fixing education. They're interested in profit. If they get their way, the country will be much the worse for it.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Intelligent Pasta Design

Have you been touched by His Noodly Appendage?

Forget the ACA; If Obama Doesn't Fill the Courts With Lefties, He'll Have No Legacy At All

Don't be fooled by the recent decisions by federal district judges to make states stop discriminating: the federal judiciary is infested with reich-wing corporatists hell-bent on reversing a century of economic and social progress.
Fortunately, there are hundreds of vacancies in the federal court system, all of them begging for far, far, FAR left judges to counteract the anti-democratic drag of Smirky-Darth appointees.
Unfortunately, President Obama has no interest in correcting the right-wing judicial threat to the Constitution.


I wrote about the Michael Boggs nomination to the Federal bench earlier, but it's worth revisiting today as it seems likely to go forward. Remember, it isn't just him, it's three more totally unacceptable neanderthal wingnuts on the federal courts in exchange for a couple of moderates. This is a result of a "painstaking process of negotiations" --- which the president obviously lost.
The White House has not backed down from the nominations, arguing that the deal was part of a long, painstaking process of negotiations that they don’t want to toss out the window. According to The Hill, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told the Congressional Black Caucus at a meeting in early February that the administration wouldn’t be withdrawing the nominations. The Obama administration is also frustrated with what they see as inadequate recognition of the fact that the administration has nominated the most diverse slate of candidates for the federal bench in history — including one who would be the first openly gay black nominee —and that the Georgia delegation failed to weigh in on the process before the deal over the Georgia nominees was cut.
Just a reminder: Clarence Thomas is black. (Also, apropos of nothing, from Georgia.) Choosing more racial minorities, women and gays alone, while a worthy goal, is not enough for a Democratic president. This is especially true of one who has inexplicably failed to even nominate  enough judges to fill the available vacancies. It's just inexplicable that he would agree to "deals" in which Republicans get to put more far right ideologues on the court after the previous president already packed it with them to the fullest extent he possibly could. If there is one area in which ideology, temperament and political philosophy simply must be taken seriously, it's this one. If he can't do any better than this, he should leave the seats unfilled and hope his successor is a Democrat who has better negotiating skills.

Now it must be recognized that the Senate, especially judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy, are clinging to their Senatorial prerogatives and that's a problem. They don't get a pass. But the administration should recognize that a major component of any president's legacy is his federal court appointments and should not be so cavalier as to allow such far right ideologues to obtain lifetime appointment under his auspices.
Why should repugs get all the obstruction fun? I'd like to see Senator Bernie Sanders block any judicial nominee to the right of  Elizabeth Warren.

The Real Existential Threat

A trillion dollars down the shitter in Iraq and Afghanistan. If since 2001 we'd spent half that on a renewable energy Manhattan Project, climate change would be a manageable problem instead of unavoidable catastrophe.

"Give America a Raise"

It should be $20 per hour, Mr. President, but if this passes with inflation indexing, it will forever challenge Obamacare as your greatest legacy.

Full transcript here.

Tennessee Cop Celebrates Black History Month: I Have A Strip of Skin From a Man My Family Lynched

Not in shame. Not in sorrow. But in pride. And threat.

The only surprise here is that the state of Tennessee actually fired him.

Crooks and Liars:

The state of Tennessee has fired a veteran investigator because officials believed that he attempted to use violent stories about how his relatives participated in a lynching to intimidate African-Americans who were trying to file claims against emergency responders.

WTVF reported that William Sewell, a medical service investigator who had been with the state for more than 40 years, told the graphic story to Shun Mullins last summer.

Mullins had filed a complaint claiming that his mother had died when the Algood's deputy fire chief refused to perform CPR because she was black. The complaint stated that the fire chief covered it up by falsifying medical reports.

Sewell had started the meeting by asking Mullins if he had ever been to prison.

"His very first question was, 'Mr. Mullins have you ever been to the penitentiary?" Mullins recalled. "That was more than insulting to me."

Before concluding the meeting, Sewell decided to tell a shocking personal story about his family's history with racism.

"Mr. Sewell goes into a story about a hanging, that he had been told, about the hanging of a black man," Mullins explained.

Nashville NAACP member Sheryl Allen and an acquaintance, Judy Mainord, were also present in the room. Mullins, Allen and Mainord all remembered the story the same way in affidavits.

Sewell said that a black man had been lynched in Baxter, Mullins' hometown.

"They hung him, and they started carving his skin out of his back," Allen said. "It was like he got excited telling this story."

"They lowered the body, and all the white men standing around took turns removing the skin from the black man's back," Mainord recalled Sewell saying.

In conclusion, Sewell said that he still owned a "strap" of the black man's skin that had been given to him by his grandfather.

"They made a strap out of his skin, and they used that strap as a knife sharpener," Allen remarked.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Number 113

Kentucky's 113th sacrifice to the insatiable maw of the Permanent Warren Terra is Marine Master Sergeant Aaron C. Torian of far-western Paducah, on the Mississippi River.

From KFVS12:

They say he died Feb. 15 while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

There are many heavy hearts in the Paducah community as the news of Torian's death on the battlefields of Afghanistan sinks in.

The Heartland Worship Center in Paducah was Master Sergeant Torian's home away from home, when he was home on leave from the military.

He was just there at Christmastime this past year.

On Saturday, the decorated and highly recognized war hero was fatally injured in a IED attack in Afghanistan. Pastor Don Young says he remembers getting the call from Torian's step-father informing him about his death.

"Jim called back and he said, "pastor, Aaron didn't make it." Well, to make a long story short, I grieved and everybody that knew Esta [Torian's mother] and her family grieved. This whole church was shook up. This city is shook up."

Now those who knew him, are sharing their thoughts of the little boy who grew up to become a Marine.

"He would make a point to come by and say hi and give us a big 'ol hug; and, just tell us about some of the things he remembered in children's church when we were his teachers," said Gail Rothrock of Paducah. "I'm just crushed, there's just no words that can say what this has done. And what he meant to us and his family. He was a wonderful young man. And what an honor and privilege to have known him."

On Sunday his Heartland Worship Center family honored the Marine with a moment of silence and prayer.

"I think there's two kinds of people. Those who run into the mess and danger to try to do something about it. And those who run from it," Pastor Nathan Joyce said. "Aaron was the kind to run into it. He loved being a Marine. And he loved what he did.

Master Sergeant Torian was serving his sixth tour of combat duty, when his military career was cut short there in Afghanistan.

He leaves behind a wife and three children.

U.S. Marine Master Sergeant Aaron Torian will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
Yes, he died for nothing. They all died for nothing. They're all going to die for nothing.

Kentucky Mandates Coal Dust Sprinkled on All School Lunches

Don't laugh - what the House Environmental Destruction and Corporate Resources Committee just approved pretty much amounts to the same thing.

John Cheves at the Herald:

Kentucky would create coal-friendly power plant emission standards in an attempt to head off tougher federal rules under a bill passed unanimously Thursday by a House committee.

By June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose strict limits on the amounts of carbon dioxide that existing coal-fired power plants can produce.Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA treats carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth's atmosphere — as a pollutant contributing to climate change. The EPA proposed limits for newly built power plants in September that would cut carbon dioxide emissions nearly in half, giving an advantage to natural gas, which burns cleaner.

State lawmakers say the expected EPA limits could force the retirement of coal-fired plants producing most of Kentucky's electricity, driving up power costs and hurting the economy. They're trying to get ahead of the EPA with House Bill 388, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, who co-owns a manufacturer of coal-mining equipment whose clients include industry giants Alliance Resource Partners and Peabody Energy.

HB 388 would instruct the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to create a plan for existing power plants that considers the economic impact of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, such as higher electric bills and lost jobs; that sets "reasonable" and "flexible" standards for plants; and that doesn't require switching from coal to other fuels, such as natural gas, or the use of nascent technologies, such as carbon capture and storage.

The House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment, of which Gooch is chairman, passed the bill Thursday, sending it to the full House. Nobody spoke in opposition.
This bill uses deliberately deceptively inocuous language to specifically exempt coal generating plants from doing jack shit to reduce the deadly gasses they emit by the ton every hour of every day.

This bill specifically condemns Kentuckians to slow deaths from lung cancer, mercury poisoning and dozens of other maladies stemming from the mining, processing and burning of coal.

This bill is a big fat Fuck You to parent, every teacher, every member of the reality-based community struggling to help Kentucky crawl out from under the stinking, rotting corpse of Big Coal.

Nobody spoke in opposition.

Not just no members of the committee, may they all suffer from painful, disfiguring, humiliating and incurable skin diseases for the rest of their miserable, inexcusable lives.

No members of the public. No professional staff from Kentucky's regulatory agencies, who absolutely know better. No representatives of environmental groups who, granted, are stretched dangerously thin to try to cover every lethally destructive bill the Kentucky General Assembly comes up with every year.


Anti-Poverty Means Anti-Rich

Let's start by taxing billionaires out of existence.

Peter Marcuse in a letter to The Nation:

Re Greg Kaufman’s “Building an Anti-Poverty Movement” [Feb. 3]: It’s good to call attention to the shameful way our economy exploits the poor and how inadequately our government responds. But calling the problem “poverty” focuses on just half of it. It accepts the idea that the poor are responsible for their own problems, and families can pull themselves up through hard work and “climb the ladder of opportunity” (Obama in the State of the Union address), perhaps with a little help up from government. It’s an idea Nation writers reject. But they skirt the fact that you then have to confront the reality that the poor are so poor because the rich are so rich.

The focus on poverty can help avoid exactly that conclusion. Criticizing the rich smacks of “class war” and raises uncomfortable questions about the 1 percent and whether they deserve to reap so disproportionate a share of the wealth that increasing productivity provides them.

Seriously addressing inequality rather than only poverty would undercut the president’s justification of inequality in the State of the Union message­—that “we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success.” Even if their efforts come from financial and employment practices that cause widespread joblessness and that very poverty that is being attacked?

Tackling poverty involves tackling inequality, tackling the wealth of the rich as well as the poverty of the poor. An anti-poverty movement needs to be willing to say that, out loud.
 The super rich are anathema to democratic society.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Cost of Libraries

We can maintain civilized society without guns, without oil/coal/gas, without billionaires, without religion and even without repugs. We cannot maintain civilized society without libraries.

Bluegrass Pipeline Down, But Not Out

Between explosions/sinkholes, Wall Street doubts and determined local opposition, the Bluegrass Pipeline has been badly battered this month.

But we're a long way from victory.  Especially if the eminent domain bills fail in the Kentucky General Assembly, the pipeline motherfuckers will be back, sneaking onto property and intimidating landowners under the radar after all the publicity dies down.


FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT/AP) - As landowners fight against a pipeline to pump natural gas liquids through Kentucky, the company behind the project announced it is being delayed.
In a 2013 earnings report released Wednesday, energy company Williams Partners LP said the controversial project's completion would be a year later than originally planned.
"In our NGL & Petchem Services business, we are moving the target in-service timing of the joint-venture Bluegrass Pipeline project to mid-to-late 2016 to better align with the needs of producers," said Alan Armstrong, Williams' president and chief executive officer. "We continue to engage in ongoing discussions with potential customers regarding commitments to this large-scale, integrated solution that connects Marcellus-Utica natural gas liquids to diverse domestic markets, fractionation, storage and export facilities in the Gulf Coast."
The announcement came the same say a bill that would protect landowners from having their land seized for a pipeline to pump natural gas liquids has received its first committee hearing at the state capitol.
There was no vote in that committee hearing, and legislative comments overheard by attendees implied that  the strategy of pro-pipeline legislators is to delay the vote until late in the session when Governor Beshear can veto the bill too late for an override. However, Governor Beshear announced that he supports the legislation.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Never Line Up to Vote Again

This is not pie-i n-the-sky; it's been working - and working well - in multiple states for years.  There's no reason not to do it.

Or rather, there's no reason not to do it if your only goal is to make voting easier, more accurate and more secure.

But if your goal is to prevent certain people from voting, then of course you want to maintain the current antiquated, undemocratic, ridiculous system.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:
As we wonder whether the sensible bipartisan recommendations of the president’s “Lines Commission” will gain any real traction, WaMo Contributing Editor (and former Oregen Secretary of State) Phil Keisling reminds us once again in a piece at Governing that there’s one election reform available that makes the whole issue moot:
During the 2012 election, an estimated 10 million voters spent at least 30 minutes — and some of them many hours — waiting in line. Amidst contentious partisan accusations about “voter fraud” and “voter suppression,” perhaps we can’t expect more than a catalog of small to mid-sized fixes to build a better polling place.
However, the core problem with America’s election system - or, more accurately, with its 8,000 separately administered election systems - isn’t too-long lines or poorly run polling stations. The real problem is our insistence on polling stations, period, and the small-ball assumption that voting lines can only be shortened — rather than abolished entirely.
The way to abolish them entirely, of course, is to adopt a universal vote-by-mail system like those already utilized by Oregon, Washington, and—beginning this year—Colorado.
Universal ballot delivery fundamentally upends the election-administration universe. In 47 states, governments require registered voters to seek out their ballots, either by going to a polling place (refurbished or not) or by applying for an absentee ballot. Meanwhile, America’s three “voter-centric” states require the government to mail ballots to all registered voters.
By eliminating polling places and the need for so many election-day workers, Oregon taxpayers save millions of dollars each election cycle. Ballot processing and verification procedures — checking all signatures against voter registration records, which also renders moot the whole photo-ID debate — can be more uniformly applied than at the precinct-by-precinct level. Recounts… are based on individual paper ballots, not software code.
Creating such a voter-centric election system also significantly increases voter turnout, especially in elections where the absence of lines is the real problem. In the 2010 mid-term elections, Oregon and Washington ranked first and second in percentage of registered voters casting ballots. (Across all 50 states, the same turnout rates would have meant about 25 million more votes cast.) More dramatic still, party-primary turnout rates of 40 percent or higher in states with universal ballot delivery are double, even quadruple, the rates in most states.
I’d note that California utilizes a limited version of this system, allowing one to register as a “by mail” voter who will automatically receive ballots (and background materials on issues and candidates) by mail that can be cast by mail or in person, so long as the voter keeps voting. The percentage of California ballots cast by mail rose to 65% for primaries and 51% for the general election in 2012.

Voting by mail is obviously more convenient for most voters—particularly those who work on Election Day—but as Keisling points out, it also eliminates much of the chicanery attempted by local election officials with respect to in-person balloting, whether it’s done before or on Election Day.

And there are no lines between your kitchen table and the mailbox.
 Hey Alison: you want an issue that will blow Mitch McConnell right out of the water?  Here it is. Take it. Run with it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Don't Laugh: This Is Where We're Headed

Words cannot express what Tom Tomorrow captures here.

Legal Hemp Will Grow in Kentucky This Spring

For the first time in 70 years. Just experimental plots for now, and a small-plot hemp economy like the small-plot tobacco economy is years if not decades away, but Kentucky is moving at speed on this.

From the Herald:

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture plans five pilot projects to grow industrial hemp throughout the state.

The projects were announced Monday by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer during a news conference in Knott County that focused on efforts to enhance farming in Appalachia.

University of Kentucky agriculture professor Will Snell, who attended the announcement, said the state would need to get research and marketing efforts in place quickly because a number of other states would try to get into the hemp market.

One pilot project in Eastern Kentucky will work with the department's Homegrown by Heroes veteran-farmers, coordinating with Kentucky State University, to cultivate Kentucky heirloom hemp seed.

Another will work European seed in Western Kentucky, under the auspices of Murray State University, to study hemp for fiber. A third, probably affiliated with the University of Louisville, might grow hemp on an urban "brownfield" to study how well the hemp removes environmental toxins.

A fourth project, in Central Kentucky, will study basic agricultural production questions, including proper planting, harvesting and yield. This project will be overseen by the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, which also will conduct research on the renewable-energy potential of the crop.

The fifth pilot project, also in Eastern Kentucky and under the control of UK, would focus on growing cannabinoids for medical research, according to an agricultural economic development plan released during the news conference.

The hemp projects are made possible by recent passage of the federal farm bill that contained language permitting state departments of agriculture and universities to grow industrial hemp for research.

The language was inserted by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, who joined Comer and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, in announcing the Appalachian initiatives.

The projects are scheduled to begin March 31.

On Friday, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Comer announced they would work together to ensure that the hemp seeds for the pilot projects were imported properly.

Conway and Comer also will pursue a "blanket waiver" for Kentucky to grow industrial hemp commercially.

Farmers interested in participating may contact the Kentucky Agriculture Department at (502) 564-4983 for more information on applying to affiliate with the pilot project.
For you fans of political irony, repug Jamie Comer's going to crush dem Jack Conway in next year's gubernatorial election.

Arkansas Man Celebrates Black History Month By Murdering Unarmed 15-Year-Old Girl

Think Progress:

An Arkansas man faces a murder charge for allegedly gunning down a car filled with teenagers who had wanted to play a prank on his son. One of the passengers, 15-year-old Adrian Broadway, died from a gunshot wound to the head on Saturday.
As Digby explains, this and so many other cases aren't a problem of people getting angry; this is a problem of angry people having easy access to guns.
This is about about power, which is probably why we see so many cases of unarmed black kids being shot. And it's having a desired effect, I'd guess. I wouldn't ever assume that someone wasn't armed anymore in this society. A European friend told me that it's common advice for travelers to the US to avoid confrontation at all costs because so many Americans are armed and have a hair trigger. That's just horrifying.

There are just too many guns around and apparently there's nothing we can do about it. So, most of us will keep our heads down and our mouths shut and let these bullies call it freedom.

What System Will Let You Have the Most Votes?

Of all the outraged responses to the proposal from parasitic billionaire Tony Perkins to let rich people cast more votes, the best is PZ Myers' who asks why base votes on money. Why not on education, military service or the light-reflecting efficiency of your skin tone? How about your astrological sign? (Pisces rule!)
ALSO: Check out PERRspectives' depiction of how good it is right now for the 1%, in charts. Also, here's who pays what in taxes, based on percentage of income (source).
And Vixen Strangely at Rumproast sees an opportunity
I could envision a system where, by virtue of greed and the complicity of the hoi polloi, the wealthy could become disenfranchised by a tax law exempting the 1%-ers from all taxation. Followed by a brief and satisfying reign of terror in the exact year they lose all the votes.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Quote of the Day

Ed Kilgore, on the supposedly business-loving Tennessee repugs who threatened an actual job-creating corporation because the company welcomed the arrival of a labor union:

I’d say they’ve internalized the ancient despicable tendency of the southern aristocracy to favor the abasement of working people as an end in itself. 

Kentucky's Darwin Award Nominee

Too bad he had a chance to reproduce and pass along his stupid genes.

Bill Estep at the Herald:
Snake-handling preacher Jamie Coots, who never backed away from his beliefs despite derision, criminal charges and excruciating bites, died Saturday night after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a church service.
Family members of Coots, 42, refused medical treatment for him. He was pronounced dead about two hours after the rattler sank its fangs into his right hand.

His son said the poison overwhelmed his father within minutes of the bite.

"It was the quickest snakebite I ever seen in my life," Coots' son, Cody, said Sunday.

Jamie Coots' death appears to be the first from a snakebite in a Kentucky church service since November 2006, when a woman died after being bitten while worshipping at a Laurel County church.

Coots, a third-generation snake handler, was the pastor of a small church in Middlesboro, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name.

He had long been prominent among the small, close-knit circle of snake-handling Pentecostal churches in Appalachia, but he gained wider notice last fall though a National Geographic Channel program called Snake Salvation, which profiled him and other snake handlers. The show was not renewed for a second season.
Read the whole long, freakazoid-excusing thing.

Those Who Forget

I'd say black believers, but the point remains.

When Austerity Hits State Troopers, That's Suicide Budgeting

From Firedoglake:

- In Maine, due to austerity from the state government, state troopers live without heat and have to get roadkill to eat with their family. I’m serious.
But big corporations get tax cuts, so fuck the cops and their starving children.

Yes, of course Maine's governor is a teabagging repug.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Something the first two have in common they don't share with the third - what could it be?

The Rich Don't Know Jack Shit About the Dignity of Work - They Never Do Any

No, Kevin: liberals are not failing to acknowledge the dignity of work; liberals are failing to call out repugs on the vicious lie that what the motherfucking rich parasites do all day long is anything resembling the real, actual work that non-rich people do.

Lounging around collecting dividends on your stock portfolio and obscene profits from exploiting your employees is not work by any definition.

As I've said before, the parasitic rich wouldn't last five minutes at a minimum-wage job serving food, watching children or caring for the elderly.

And there's nothing fucking enobling or dignified about cleaning up the puke and shit of rich people for too few pennies to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

Kevin Drum
Paul Krugman writes today about the Republican insistence that when they oppose safety net programs, they're doing it because they really care about the poor. Paul Ryan, for example, says that Obamacare is bad because it reduces incentives to work: "Inducing a person not to work who is on the low-income scale, not to get on the ladder of life, to begin working, getting the dignity of work, getting more opportunities, rising their income, joining the middle class, this means fewer people will do that." Here's Krugman:
Let’s talk, in particular, about dignity.
It’s all very well to talk vaguely about the dignity of work; but the idea that all workers can regard themselves as equal in dignity despite huge disparities in income is just foolish. When you’re in a world where 40 money managers make as much as 300,000 high school teachers, it’s just silly to imagine that there will be any sense, on either side, of equal dignity in work.
....Now, one way to enhance the dignity of ordinary workers is through, yes, entitlements: make it part of their birthright, as American citizens, that they get certain basics such as a minimal income in retirement, support in times of unemployment, and essential health care.
But the Republican position is that none of these things should be provided, and that if somehow they do get provided, they should come only at the price of massive government intrusion into the recipient’s personal lives — making sure that you don’t take advantage of health reform to work less, requiring that you undergo drug tests to receive unemployment benefits or food stamps, and so on.
In short, while conservatives may preach the dignity of work, their actual agenda is to deny lower-income workers as much dignity — and personal freedom — as possible.
There's so much here that I agree with. Massive levels of inequality are indeed corrosive to both dignity and a basic sense of fair play. Making certain entitlements universal is indeed a way of enhancing dignity. And the endless Republican efforts to shame the poor are simply loathsome.

And yet....I really hate to see liberals disparage the value of work, even if it's only implicit, as it is here. Even people who hate their jobs take satisfaction in the knowledge that they're paying their way and providing for their families. People who lose their jobs usually report intense stress and feelings of inadequacy even if money per se isn't an imminent problem (perhaps because a spouse works, perhaps because they're drawing an unemployment check). Most people want to work, and most people also want to believe that their fellow citizens are working. It's part of the social contract. As corrosive as inequality can be, a sense of other people living off the dole can be equally corrosive.

I know, I know: Krugman wasn't trying to advocate a life of government-supported sloth. I'm not trying to pretend he was. And yet....we should be careful about this stuff. Work is important for dignity, both at a personal level and a broader societal level. We all acknowledge this when we talk about economic policy, making it clear that our goal is to attack high unemployment and create an economy that provides a job for everyone. We should acknowledge it just as much when the talk gets more personal.

Your New Poster for Easter


The Future of Work is Here, and It Will Make You Long for Indentured Servitude

Competing 24-7 with millions of others to grab mind-numbing tasks for $1 an hour or less, with no rights, no benefits and no escape.

Read it at The Nation.

Relgion Monkeys

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Equal Opportunity Lynching

Black History Month isn’t just about MLK and the civil rights movement. It’s about remembering the horrible things that white people did to black people through American history. Here’s a good post detailing the lynching of black women. Some examples for your Thursday:
Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson was lynched on May 23, 1911 In Okemah, Okluskee, Oklahoma. Her fifteen year old son was also lynched at the same time but I could not find a photo of her son. The photograph of Nelson was drawn from a postcard. Authorities accused her of killing a deputy sheriff who supposedly stumbled on some stolen goods in her house. Why they lynched her child is a mystery. The mob raped and dragged Nelson six miles to the Canadian River and hanged her from a bridge.(NAACP: One Hundred Years of Lynching in the US 1889-1918 )
There are more. Lots more.

What Repugs Failed to Learn from "Dead Poets Society"

It is not an inaccurate or extreme statement to declare that ideological Republicans do not understand what it means to be human. They view human beings as economic units to be plugged at their lowest possible price into a maximally efficient market that provides the greatest possible returns on investment to the wealthy few, with any resulting human resentment and misery dulled by humility before a pleasure-fearing angry God promising rewards to the obedient in the hereafter. It is a dark, meager, shriveled and cramped vision of humanity.

To accept their worldview is to reject the essence of human identity and purpose. If human beings could create a sustainable world of plenty free from violence, war, hunger or want, a world in which human beings were free to devote 24 hours a day to the leisurely pursuit of whatever activities they wished so long as they harmed no one else, conservatives would be terrified.

It's not so much that conservatives don't believe such a world of boundless human potential is possible. It's that they don't want it to be possible.
"Ideological republicans" is redundant.

Because a Conservatard is a Conservatard, Whether In Kansas or Kandahar

"If they don’t support raising the federal minimum wage to ten-ten an hour, ask them “why not?” "

Credit where credit is due, Mr. President: your executive order raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors gave this train a big push. Now it is up to us to push our congress critters to expand it to everyone.

Full transcript here.

Liberal Tree-Huggers Right About Everything Again, Still and Forever: Corporations Poisoning Our Food and Libeling Scientists Edition

You could look it up: everything the hippies protested about in the '60s and '70s that the establishment dismissed and disparaged them for either has been proven true or is about to be proven true.

In a Black History Month coincidence, the hero of our story is African-American.

I wanted to be sure to call your attention to a really fabulous piece of journalism in the current issue of The New Yorker. It’s by Rachel Aviv, and it concerns a ruthless corporate campaign to discredit a scientist who discovered that a chemical is causing serious harm to animals and humans. This story is reads like your most paranoid, far-out conspiratorial left-wing nightmare come true. Seriously, you could not make this stuff up.

It centers on a brilliant African-American biologist at UCal Berkeley named Tyrone Hayes. Hayes grew up poor in South Carolina and attended Harvard on a scholarship. For the past 15 years, he’s been studying atrazine, a popular herbicide made by an agribusiness giant named Syngenta. Through his research, Hayes discovered that exposure to atazine was having freaky effects on the sexual development of frogs — causing frogs with deformed testes, frogs with both testes and ovaries, and other sexual abnormalities. Aviv notes that “[o]ther scientists have expanded on his findings, suggesting that the herbicide is associated with birth defects in humans as well as in animals.”

Hayes began to believe that Syngenta, determined to prevent him from continuing his research, was bugging his phone, reading his email, and following him to conferences. His colleagues thought he was losing his mind. Then, last summer, an article appeared in Environmental Health News that was based on Syngenta’s internal records, the fruits of a class action suit. My oh my, what do you know? It turns out that Syngenta really was out to get him, after all.

Hayes had

believed that the company was trying to isolate him from other scientists and “play on my insecurities—the fear that I’m not good enough, that everyone thinks I’m a fraud,” he said. He told colleagues that he suspected that Syngenta held “focus groups” on how to mine his vulnerabilities.
And of course, he was right. When their Syngenta’s public relations team listed four goals, the first was “discredit Hayes.” What was particularly vicious and sleazy was that the plan they drafted, and implemented, involved doing just as he suspected: going after him where he was most vulnerable. Some of their notes about how to destroy Hayes included: “grew up in world (S.C.) that wouldn’t accept him,” “scarred for life.” Lovely!

You’ll need to read the entire article for to get the whole, depressing story of the other slimeball tactics they used against Hayes, as well as how completely Syngenta has corrupted much of the scientific, government, and public policy establishments. The overall picture Aviv paints is of a disastrous public policy failure that has had potentially devastating health and environmental consequences. The only bright spot is the incorruptible, indefatigable Hayes — now that is what a hero looks like.
She concludes:
Well, I sure hope our kids aren’t too put out of joint by their shrunken penises and deformed urethras. I’m sure it will comfort them, however, to know that their sacrifice was not in vain. After all, a University of Chicago economist got paid $500 an hour to advocate for the very free market that shriveled their penises! That makes it all worthwhile in the end, don’t you think?

Friday, February 14, 2014


While Alison Lundergan Grimes tells LGBT Kentuckians to fuck off and die because the courts - their only hope of achieving civil rights in the Commonwealth - need to "butt out" of Kentucky banning marriage equality, more disappointed Democratic voters are sinking back into their chairs and making plans to watch West Wing marathons on Election Day.

Digby nails it:

Being a Democrat means never having to say you're sorry --- as long as you act like a Republican. It's pathetic.

Number 112


Died on the very same day as Number 111, the second of Kentucky's latest sacrifices to the insatiable maw of the permanent Warren Terra.

Spc. Christopher A. Landis, 27, of Independence died Feb. 10, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from wounds received when the enemy attacked his patrol with a rocket propelled grenade in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, the defense department said.

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. and deployed to Afghanistan in the fall.

“He gave his life to protect us and our freedom,” said Independence Mayor Donna Yeager. “We mourn for him and his family.”

Yeager said that once she receives official notice of the soldier’s death, she’ll order that flags at the Independence Municipal Center and other public buildings in the city be flown at half staff.

Landis enlisted as a cryptologic linguist in the U.S. Army in March 2011. He completed initial entry training at Fort Jackson, S.C., followed by Arabic language training at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., and then advanced individual training for Cryptologic Linguist at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas.

He had already received a Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star among others.

He is survived by his parents, two brothers and a sister. His family declined any interviews.
That wailing and gnashing of teeth you hear is not from family and friends of Spc. Landis and Pfc Gray, not that they are not grieving. No, their grieving is drowned out by the anger, the fury, the rage of combat veterans - of WWII, of Korea, of Vietnam, of the Gulf War, and of Iraq and Afghanistan - who are sick unto death of the pointless waste of American lives and treasure that is the unsalvageable shithole known as Afghanistan.

Find out more here.