Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Church

Don't Look Now, But Bell County's New Jailer Is Black

Bell County is in the southeastern corner of Kentucky, nestled against east Tennessee and southwestern Virginia.  It's coal country, its mountains scarred by mining and endemic poverty.

But not racism. At least not in one election for a native son.

WYMT in Hazard:

“I’ve been publisher and general manager for the paper for the last 11 years,” Ferguson said. “It gave me the opportunity to meet all sorts of people.”

He was also a state police trooper for nearly 10 years and worked for the United States Marshals Service. Ferguson said both positions prepared him to take on new challenges and responsibility.

“To get nearly 4,500 votes means there were a lot of people that believed in me and I just feel an obligation to make all of them proud,” said Ferguson.

This was his first time running for public office.

“My father, James Ferguson, is 85-years-old and the Bell County Detention Center was built in 1941,” Ferguson said. “He told me he stood on the corner and watched that jail being built and he can’t believe that now his son is the Bell County jailer.”

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Ferguson said. “Forget about the color of my skin because I have a job to do.”

Venn Diagrams Explain Everything

(Source: thethinkingsasquatch)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Thanksgiving Victory for Workers

It is within living memory, children, that federal law required - and was enforced against - employers to pay time-and-a-half for every minute an employee worked past eight hours in one work day or 40 hours in one work week.  Every minute worked on a national holiday earned double time - twice your regular pay.

I my very own self earned time-and-a-half for hours worked on Sunday back when Lexington abolished its blue laws in the 1970s.

That one employer is observing those laws after breaking them should not be considered a victory, but it is.

Erik Loomis at LGM:

Last year, Whole Foods was one of many companies to force employees to work on Thanksgiving. The employees were very angry about this and seven went on strike at a store in Chicago. In response to the negative publicity, Whole Foods stores in the Midwest are now allowing workers to sign up if they want to work on Thanksgiving and will pay them double wages to do so. That’s a victory.


"Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because, more than any other, it is uniquely American"

In other words, Mr. President, the gold-seekers in Jamestown and the god-botherers at Plymouth were the original undocumented immigrants.

Full transcript here:

Vessels Have No Rights

We're about an inch away from Gilead.

Digby, citing the New York Times:

Anti-abortion measures pose a risk to all pregnant women, including those who want to be pregnant.

Such laws are increasingly being used as the basis for arresting women who have no intention of ending a pregnancy and for preventing women from making their own decisions about how they will give birth.

How does this play out? Based on the belief that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.

In Iowa, a pregnant woman who fell down a flight of stairs was reported to the police after seeking help at a hospital. She was arrested for “attempted fetal homicide.”

In Utah, a woman gave birth to twins; one was stillborn. Health care providers believed that the stillbirth was the result of the woman’s decision to delay having a cesarean. She was arrested on charges of fetal homicide.

In Louisiana, a woman who went to the hospital for unexplained vaginal bleeding was locked up for over a year on charges of second-degree murder before medical records revealed she had suffered a miscarriage at 11 to 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Florida has had a number of such cases. In one, a woman was held prisoner at a hospital to prevent her from going home while she appeared to be experiencing a miscarriage. She was forced to undergo a cesarean. Neither the detention nor the surgery prevented the pregnancy loss, but they did keep this mother from caring for her two small children at home. While a state court later found the detention unlawful, the opinion suggested that if the hospital had taken her prisoner later in her pregnancy, its actions might have been permissible.

In another case, a woman who had been in labor at home was picked up by a sheriff, strapped down in the back of an ambulance, taken to a hospital, and forced to have a cesarean she did not want. When this mother later protested what had happened, a court concluded that the woman’s personal constitutional rights “clearly did not outweigh the interests of the State of Florida in preserving the life of the unborn child.”

Anti-abortion reasoning has also provided the justification for arresting pregnant women who experience depression and have attempted suicide. A 22-year-old in South Carolina who was eight months pregnant attempted suicide by jumping out a window. She survived despite suffering severe injuries. Because she lost the pregnancy, she was arrested and jailed for the crime of homicide by child abuse.
There is no way to escape the logic that if you assume that a blastocyst is a full human being with all the rights conferred by "personhood" then this is a possible consequence.

No, it probably won't happen every time a woman miscarries. But it could happen. And it could be you or your daughter or your best friend or your wife.

The risk of pregnancy is going up and up and up in this country.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Get Your Workers' Bill of Rights While It's Hot

If you notice, as you are driving around NOT shopping today, that there are protests at the WalMart, that's because minimum wage workers are taking their lives in their hands to demand their greedy employer treat them like human beings.

Walmart-style slave labor does not have to be the standard.  In civilized places, workers have the power.

So, what? Do these uppity, chronically stressed workers think The Economy exists to serve people instead of the other way around? Employees — I'm sorry, Associates — are supposed to genuflect and cross themselves at the sound of their master's voice, and ask how high when Job Creators says jump. What are those Left Coast socialists smoking?

Meet your new union reps: the statehouse and City Hall.
San Francisco’s new law, which its Board of Supervisors passed Tuesday by unanimous vote, will require any “formula retailer” (retail chain) with 20 or more locations worldwide that employs 20 or more people within the city to provide two weeks’ advance notice for any change in a worker’s schedule. An employer that alters working hours without two weeks’ notice — or fails to notify workers two weeks ahead of time that their schedules won’t change — will be required to provide additional “predictability pay.“ Property service contractors that provide janitorial or security services for these retailers will also need to abide by the new rule.
What's worse, these subversive notions have a way of spreading east from the Left Coast like viruses. Call out the dragoons.

Speaking of predictability, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is predictably miffed about the “Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” For struggling hourly workers, taking classes, caring for families, and raising children (and managing day care logistics) is something The Economy expects you to fit in between work shifts at multiple, part-time, low-paying, no-benefits service jobs where shift schedules vary a lot. But that's just the way it is and the way The Economy likes it. With labor unions weakened and workers disempowered, setting working conditions once governed by collective bargaining agreements now falls to local Democrats. That is, if you can find any that aren't Republican lite.

Earlier this year, 32-year-old Maria Fernandes of Newark, NJ died of asphyxiation while catnapping in her car between shifts of her four part-time jobs. The Economy did not attend her funeral.

Good Without

Privatization Set to Destroy Kentucky's Crown Jewel State Parks

The reason people flock to Kentucky State Parks for everything from vacations to business meetings is because there's not a private resort anywhere to match them.

Open the parks to private contractors and they'll be just another ratty Motel 6 overcharging to no amenities.

Bill Estep at the Herald:

State tourism officials are seeking proposals for a developer to build the first privately operated lodge at a Kentucky state park.

The state issued a request Wednesday for developers to submit proposals on building a lodge at General Burnside Island State Park, which is surrounded by Lake Cumberland in southern Pulaski County.

Having a lodge on the island has long been a dream of local officials.

Tourism is a significant part of the economy in the area, which includes not only the lake, but also nearby attractions such as Cumberland Falls, the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.


Under the state's request, a company would build a lodge at its cost and operate it, and could also include a restaurant, convention facility and swimming pool, according to a news release.

The state would get rent payments or a percentage of the revenue from the project.


The study said parking for the lodge would wipe out about 45 of the 110 sites at the campground.

The request for proposals did not estimate the cost of building the lodge. The state has an incentive program under which a developer could get a tax rebate equal to half its investment.
So: wiping out half the park's camping sites, the affordable way for most of the state's residents to enjoy state parks, sacrificing park revenue for 50-plus years and once again slashing state tax receipts so that more Kentucky children have to crowd into 60-kid classrooms because teachers have been laid off.

Just. Fucking. Genius.

Kentucky's State Resort Parks were built by government workers, starting with the Civilian Conservations Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Depression.

Private corporations nearly destroyed the global economy; government workers paid by government programs supported by tax dollars saved it.

 If a lodge at General Burnside is such a great fucking idea, let the state build it and get all the economic growth and revenue from it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Saving Lives

(via aqg818l1ycdxx654s5ok-deactivate)

Shop Stores That Treat Workers Like Human Beings

Of course you are not shopping today, when it means encouraging the slave-driving plutocrats exploiting their employees.

And you're not shopping tomorrow, on Buy Nothing Day.

But when you do start your holiday shopping, stick with the stores that acknowledge their employees' humanity by closing on Thanksgiving.

Costco, of course.  Dillard's. Burlington Coat Factory. TJMaxx and Marshall's. JoAnn Fabrics. Designer Shoe Warehouse. Petco. Barnes and Noble (just this once) Crate and Barrel.
Not to mention every locally-owned, non-chain store you can find and buy something in between now and New Year's.

Think Progress:
Instead of shopping at Macy’s or J.C. Penney, for example, consumers have the option to go to Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. Instead of Walmart, Kmart, or Target, they can go to GameStop, Barnes & Noble, or Bed, Bath & Beyond. Instead of Sports Authority, shoppers can get outdoors gear at Patagonia or REI.

And consumers may be prepared to stand in solidarity with retail employees who say they don’t want to work on the holiday. Less than one in five people who say they’re going to shop over Thanksgiving weekend say they’ll do it on the holiday itself, a drop from nearly a quarter last year, while the majority aren’t even going to shop in actual stores. Half of Americans say they think shopping on that day itself is a terrible idea. That may be why opening early didn’t juice holiday sales for the stores that made workers come in on the holiday last year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Slice the Mythology Out of Thanksgiving

Not happy feasters eager to share and be friends, but invaders bent on genocide.

Tim Weed at TPM:

It’s what might be called the Thanksgiving Myth — and it’s not wildly off base as far as it goes. But some important context is missing. This is a problem, because a nation’s foundational mythology determines its self-image and deeply affects the behavior of its government and citizenry.
From 1616 to 1619, a series of virgin-soil epidemics spread by European trading vessels ravaged the New England seaboard, wiping out up to 95 percent of the Algonkian-speaking native population from Maine to Narragansett Bay. The coast was a vast killing zone of abandoned agricultural fields and decimated villages littered with piles of bones and skulls. This is what the Pilgrims encountered when they landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Not a pristine wilderness, but the devastated ruins of a once-thriving culture, a haunting boneyard which English libertine Thomas Morton later described as a “newfound Golgotha.”
Between the freakazoid Puritans who viewed the natives as demons, and the slightly later thieves desperate for land, what Native Americans remained to assert ownership quickly became a convenient enemy.
In May of 1637, colonists from Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay, with a group of their Indian allies, set fire to a fortified Pequot stronghold on the Mystic River. An estimated 700 Pequots perished, mostly women and children, and the few survivors were shipped to Bermuda and sold into slavery. On the heels of the virgin-soil epidemics that had decimated the native population, the ghastly specter of genocide had reached the shores of America. In 1675, bloody King Phillip’s War put the finishing touches on what was more or less the total extermination of the eastern woodland Indians.

It is an inescapable fact, therefore, that this proud country was born in the aftermath of a shameful ethnic cleansing that is largely absent from the collective memory. It behooves us to refresh that memory. How would the current debate over immigration change, for example, if it were to be conducted in the light of a more honest consideration of our own deepest origins? Would self-righteous distinctions about “legal” vs. “illegal” immigrants have the same emotional currency? Recent popular histories such as Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower and Jill Lepore’s The Name of War have taken us some distance in this process of revision, but we need to keep telling ourselves the true story until it is enshrined in our national consciousness. It’s high time we updated the Thanksgiving Myth.


(Source: crime-think)

KY Protests Draw Hundreds in Solidarity With Ferguson

Hundreds in Lexington, and hundreds more in Louisville.  For Kentucky, that's a big turnout.

Karla Ward at the Herald:

There are 340 miles between Lexington and Ferguson, Mo., but a crowd of about 200 demonstrators marched downtown Tuesday night to show their solidarity with protesters there.

The peaceful but impassioned group chanted while walking down North Limestone past the federal and county courthouses, then turned onto Main Street and marched past the police station and back to the courthouse plaza.

There, speakers deplored the death of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, and a St. Louis County grand jury's decision Monday night not to indict Wilson.

"The goal is to let people in Ferguson know that injustice is not just there in Ferguson," said Lamin Swann, who helped organize the event through Stop Mass Incarceration Network KY. "They're not alone. We're here to support them."

He said "systemic institutional injustice, discrimination" was a problem throughout the nation.
Most of the marchers were young adults, many of whom identified themselves with the University of Kentucky and Berea College.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It IS A Black Thing, But It's Also a Poor Thing

daChipster nails the real reason the rich don't want to share money with the poor: because then they'd also have to share the power.
But, it’s not a “black thing.”

In fact, with all due respect to the black community, most of what’s going on is not about them, per se.

It’s not black-white. Or brown-white. Or yellow-white. It’s not a race or color thing at all.

It’s a poor thing.


Those who stand in opposition to Affirmative Action, public education, and other attempts to level the playing field bleat phrases like “Equality of Opportunity, not Equality of Outcome!” All the while, equality of opportunity is a sham.

The only people with equal opportunity are those who can pay for it.

The only people with equal justice are those who can pay for it.

The only people with equal police protection are those who can pay for it.

The only people with equal access to reproductive health are those who can pay for it.

The only people with equal political speech are those who can pay for it.

The only people with equal access to the ballot are those who can pay for it.

The only people with equal representation in Washington are those who can pay for it.


It’s a poor thing.
Remember, chipster: no one on the Ferguson grand jury was rich by your measure. But three-quarters of those jurors were white.

KY Ferguson Solidarity Rallies in Lexington and Louisville This Evening

KY Ferguson Solidarity Rallies Today


In early March, 2011, I was moved to tears by a photograph of a protester in Cairo holding a sign that read: "Egypt Supports Wisconsin Workers.  One Big Union."
Mubarek was killing protesters in Cairo, while Scott Walker was killing public workers' unions, but those protesting oppression know each other.

From PZ Myers:
It seems that Palestinians are very familiar with injustice.



(Source: 365q)

How the Repugs and Centrists Have Left Democrats and Minorities Powerless

Short version: Racism.  That's what has powered conservatives for 200 years, and looks to be powering conservatives for another 200.

Enabled by fake centrists and cowardly dems whose repeated solution to electoral defeat is to run to the right.

Where Democrats find only more defeat, and more excuses to run further to the right.

It's political suicide.  It has been political suicide for 40 years, but dems never learn.

There’s no point in sugar-coating this. In the Deep South, the Democratic Party is now the non-white party, and minority politicians don’t have the white partners they need to exercise any but the most local political power. While the problem is less severe in the border states, it has clearly made advances there. You can look at pretty much the whole Scots-Irish migration from the Virginias to Oklahoma and see that the Democrats were trounced last Tuesday. They badly lost Senate elections in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas, and they actually lost two Senate elections each in South Carolina and Oklahoma. Their seat in Virginia was only (just barely) saved by the DC suburbs in the northeastern part of the state.

This isn’t just a problem for the Democratic Party. It’s a big problem for blacks, too.
This situation is so deleterious for African-Americans in the Deep South because, unlike in Congress, where black Democrats have many white Democratic colleagues—not to mention a Democrat in the White House—in these Southern states, black Democratic state legislators (and, by extension, their black constituents) are completely at the mercy of Republican legislative majorities and Republican governors. What’s more, unlike in Washington, where control of the White House—and at least the Senate —swings back and forth between both parties, the Republican control of Southern state houses seems here to stay for a long, long time.
This loss of power is not what progressives or the black community envisioned when the first black president was elected, but the fury of the blowback is now undeniable. Both the party and its African-American base share a self-interest in doing something to combat the impression and (in these parts of the country) the increasing reality that the Democrats are not a party for white people.

This can’t be done by any simple tweaks to the party platform, and there’s a broader cultural element at play here that implicates more than race. Attitudes about religion and human sexuality are also major factors in what has happened, as the country has galloped ahead at breakneck speed to destigmatize homosexuality, for example, while Republican legislatures have furiously sought to restrict women’s rights.

Asking how the party can get white Democrats elected in these regions again isn’t something that blacks or progressive whites are eager to discuss, particularly when the answers may not be to their liking. But their power is at stake, as well as many of the values that they’ve fought for and thought, perhaps erroneously, that they had secured. At stake are basic civil rights (including voting rights), women’s reproductive health, and even the president’s landmark health care law. The black community’s political power is at stake, too, in a major and urgent way.

These problems will require fresh thinking, by which I mean that reconstructing the Blue Dog Coalition is probably not the answer. It’s not the local Chambers of Commerce we need to court, but the economically pressed white voter who must be cleaved from the plutocratic coalition that has enchanted him.

The Third Way led us here. It does not provide the route out of this maze.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Do the Right Thing

(Source: melodyriddle)

Taxes Aren't Just About the Money; They Level the Playing Field

Taxing the billionaires out of existence and the millionaires into humility will solve so many more problems than needed revenue.

Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert at the Nation:

Taxes don’t just produce revenue; they are capable of restructuring how the whole economy works. That the decline in the highest tax rates has insidiously created our runaway inequality is explored in a recent paper by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Stefanie Stantcheva, who set out to investigate the relationship between tax rates and the top 1 percent in several key countries.

For example, the top marginal tax rate in the United States was over 70 percent between the New Deal and the Reagan Revolution, but has been below 40 percent since then. The top tax rate in England went from 80 percent to 40 percent during the 1980s. These are also the two countries with the largest growth in inequality.

As shown in the graph, there’s a strong correlation between the growth in pre-tax income inequality and the decline in tax rates. The argument that economists usually put forward to explain this is a conservative supply-side argument: when people are taxed less, they work harder and thus make more money.

But there’s a more plausible—and more worrisome—explanation: wages are the result of bargaining in which the relative strength of each side is influenced by tax policy. As tax rates decline, executives have more reason to fight for higher salaries for themselves, especially through actions like stacking their corporate boards. Boards and other institutional interests are motivated to pay out the new wave of superstar salaries, since they aren’t being taxed away.
 Read the whole thing.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


What An Atheist Believes

nuts | 2 notes

The Conservative Cult of Optimism

It's poisoning not just public education, but issues from pollution to foreign policy.   They really think if you don't call attention to a toxic mess, it will go away - or at least the people complaining about it will go away.  They really think if you just keep proclaiming America is the greatest nation ever, that will make it true.

Rick Perlstein:

But there is an even more crucial factor at play here: American conservatism’s historic addiction to the power of positive thinking.

“It doesn’t emphasize any positive things,” said Jane Robbins, a fellow at something called the American Principles Project. “History class, echoed Julie Williams, the leader of the Jefferson County School Board’s three-member conservative majority, should predominantly concern “present positive aspects of the United States.”

And that, above all, is what pushed conservative buttons the hardest.

The cult of optimism in education is an old impulse on the right. In 1967, the target was the eighth grade text Land of the Free by the esteemed African-American historian John Hope Franklin. Pasadena’s “Land of the Free Committee” said the book’s “negative thought models” would give our children a “guilt complex.”

Acolytes availed themselves of a clause in the Supreme Court’s anti-pornography Miller v. California decision giving municipalities the right to ban expression violating “contemporary community standards”; thus armed, a Ridgefield, Connecticut, school board banned Mike Royko’s biography of Mayor William J. Daley, Boss, explaining that it “portrays politics in an un-American way and we don’t want our kids to know about such things as corrupt politics”—a particularly neat example of the right-wing tendency to confuse patriotism with burying your head in the sand.

Liberals—including those who might not even self-identify as such, since a vision of patriotism that insists on civic self-criticism is indeed ineluctably liberal, just as the conservatives charge—counter with the civic value of history that provides “a full measure of truth about our promises and our problems as Americans” (the president of the California Council of Social Studies, speaking in 1967), asking questions like, “Does that mean we’re going to eliminate slavery from class discussions, because that wasn’t a particularly positive time in our history?” (Jefferson County’s PTA president, just last month).


But the underlying war will continue. Because whistling past the graveyard has become as much a part of the right wing’s political religion as, well, religion.

Which is funny. I thought conservatives were supposed to believe in America. Don’t they believe it’s strong enough to teach our kids how to think like grownups?
That's the conservative weakness liberals can't seem to exploit: the pants-shitting fear of everything and refusal to face facts.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A White Cop Killing an Unarmed Black Man is NEVER An Accident

Fire all white cops.  Do it now.

Black Cat

"Immigration keeps our country young, dynamic, and entrepreneurial."

Not to seem ungrateful, Mr. President, but for most of our history the only immigration requirement was to get any part of your body over the border, and you were a citizen.  That's the only immigration requirement we need.

Full transcript here.

KY Adopts Corporate Slave Labor Policies for State Workers

I don't even know where to fucking begin with this shit. 
First, they're lying about it taking two more months to get a new employee.  Retirees have to give at least two months' notice; obviously the Labor Cabinet decided not to even attempt to hire a replacement, because they have slave labor right there in the building.

Second, are the snow shovelers going to get hazardous duty pay and retirement benefits?  Snow shoveling has killed 8 people in Western New York just this week.

Third, reason the infinite that public employees, like all employees, need strong, independent unions to prevent shit like this from happening.

From the Herald:
It's not in their job descriptions, but several state Labor Cabinet office employees were in line this week to be drafted to shovel snow from sidewalks and the parking lot at the cabinet's headquarters this winter.

One came forward to volunteer for the job, but David Smith, president of the Kentucky Association of State Employees,* is still outraged that office workers would be called on for snow-removal duties.

"This gives me great concern," Smith said Thursday. "There are people trained and hired to do such work, not these folks. This is so unfair. Why in the world do they get office employees who are untrained in shoveling snow to do this? It's so ironic that this is happening in the Labor Cabinet."

The cabinet's website says its primary responsibility is "to ensure the equitable and fair treatment of the commonwealth's 1.9 million wage-earning employees."

Five employees — men and women — at the Labor Cabinet who work in office jobs learned Wednesday in an email from cabinet human resources manager Patricia Dempsey that "winter help" was needed.
And fourth, if the Labor Cabinet gets away with this, office workers throughout state government are going to be doing maintenance work for which they are not qualified, trained or physically able to do.

* KASE is not a union, and has no power to collectively bargain, much less to enforce the few employee protections that still exist in Kentucky.

Friday, November 21, 2014

QOTD: The War on Science

Charlie Pierce:

There are some decent liberals who wonder why some of their fellows jump all over every case, no matter how small, when some school board attempts of bootleg creationism -- or Intelligent Design -- are put into the science classes in some very small town. It's because creationism is the index patient for the triumph of the irrational over reason. If, in the face of all scientific evidence, we must Teach The Controversy in high school biology classes, why, in the face of all the available evidence, should we not Teach The Controversy about climate change, or about Liberal Fascism, or about vaccinations, or about Confederate nostalgia,  a self-regulating oil industry, or about supply-side economics, for all that. There is a concerted effort to make room for ignorance in our most serious public debates concerning our most pressing public policy problems. That effort is being made, consciously or otherwise, on behalf of a class of modern plutocrats whose profits depend on muddying the issues, and on injecting irrationality as a paralytic agent in our politics. And, believe me, there's a lot more of this to come.

How to Do "Civil Disobedience" on Immigration

I'm afraid their real plan is to set up sniper nests on the Mexico border to mow down anyone they see, but a TPM reader has a better idea.

Yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn suggested that President Obama's immigration executive order might lead to "civil disobedience", "anarchy", or even political "violence." I asked just what that civil disobedience might look like and TPM Reader FS has an idea of what anti-immigrant forces might have in mind ...
My suggestion for what civil disobedience should look like is to move to Phoenix, trade their imitation Army rifles for shovels, and do a protest march through the residential subdivisions, pulling weeds as they go.
They should march into restaurant kitchens, offering to wash dishes for free. Or volunteer to man the drive through at any of a hundred fast food joints. Maybe ask a California cabbage farmer if they have anything needs harvesting. Those are the jobs illegal immigrants might be taking away.
 Read the whole thing.

Love and Peace

(via christgoldman-deactivated201308)

No, Your Ancestors Did Not Come Here Legally

(Apologies to TPM for stealing their entire post AND its headline, but this is that important, and the best short explanation I've ever read. And you should be reading TPM every day anyway.)

I repeat: unless you are a 100 percent full-blooded Native American, shut the fuck up.
I guarantee you’ll hear the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” in the aftermath of President Obama’s immigration address. It’s almost impossible to find any conversation about immigration—between elected officials, pundits, online commenters—in which at least one participant doesn’t use the phrase. It’s an understandable position, through which the speaker can both defend his or her family history and critique current illegal immigrants who choose to do things differently. It helps deflect charges of hypocrisy (since most Americans are descended from immigrants). It’s hard to argue with. And it’s also, in nearly every case, entirely inaccurate.

Prior to 1875’s Page Act and 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, there were no national immigration laws. None. There were laws related to naturalization and citizenship, to how vessels reported their passengers, to banning the slave trade. Once New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Station opened in 1855, arrivals there reported names and origins before entering the U.S. But for all pre-1875 immigrants, no laws applied to their arrival. They weren’t legal or illegal; they were just immigrants.

Moreover, those two laws and their extensions affected only very specific immigrant communities: suspected prostitutes and criminals (the Page Act); Chinese arrivals (the Exclusion Act); immigrants from a few other Asian nations (the extensions). So if your ancestors came before the 1920s and weren’t prostitutes, criminals, or from one of those Asian nations, they remained unaffected by any laws, and so were still neither legal nor illegal. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but it’s much more; the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” implies that they “chose to follow the law,” yet none of these unaffected immigrants had to make any such choice, nor had any laws to follow.

The 1892 opening of Ellis Island didn’t change these fundamental realities. Ellis arrivals had to wait in line and answer a list of questions, and could be quarantined if they had a communicable disease or were visibly insane. But if they weren’t in those aforementioned few illegal categories, they still weren’t affected by any law, made no choice of how to immigrate. Moreover, many arrivals during this period came not through Ellis but across the borders, which were unpatrolled and open.

Only with the 1920s Quota Acts did Congress establish national immigration laws encompassing most arrivals. But those acts were overtly discriminatory, extending the Exclusion Act’s principles by categorizing arrivals by nationality and drastically limiting certain groups; South Carolina Senator Ellison Smith put it bluntly: “It seems to me the point as to this measure is that the time has arrived when we should shut the door.” Since immigrants had no control over their nationality, it’s difficult to argue that post-1920s arrivals “chose” to immigrate legally or illegally. And since the borders remained largely open and there were multiple entry points, it’s hard to say that any individual arrival was under the quota and thus legal or illegal.

The 1965 Immigration Act ended national quotas, instituting preferences based on less overtly discriminatory categories such as family connections and educational/professional training. Subsequent laws (such as the 1986 IRCA) further adjusted national policy. But as the ubiquitous “my ancestors” phrase proves, current immigration debates aren’t just about present policies—they’re always informed by ideas about history, and specifically about legal and illegal immigration in our past. So it’s vitally important that we begin to use those terms accurately—to recognize that for so many of us, our ancestors were neither legal nor illegal immigrants. That they came in the same way contemporary undocumented immigrants do: by crossing a border.

Ben Railton is an Associate Professor of English at Fitchburg State University and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rand Paul Votes to Let the NSA Take Naked Pictures of You

We have a variation on the old Stupid or Evil question: Does the Tribble-Toupeed One not even realize he is contradicting himself? Or does he think repug primary voters are too stupid to notice all of his weather-vaning and flip-flopping?
Now, yes, yes, unlike most of his Republican colleagues, Paul ostensibly opposed the bill because it wasn’t robust enough. But this makes about as much sense as most heighten-the-contradictions arguments (i.e. none.) This was, to be clear, far from a great bill. But it’s also quite clearly better than anything that’s going to be passed by the next Congress.


McConnell strongly opposed this legislation as doing too much to rein in the NSA, and especially with Udall losing the chances of a better bill emerging next year can be safely estimated at 0%. So Paul’s motives for opposing the legislation are irrelevant; he’s a cat’s paw for the Mukasey/Hayden team when the rubber hits the road, and all the showoff filibusters in the world won’t change the fact that he voted for this one too.

Fire All the White Cops. Do It Now.

No, not Ferguson, MO.  Louisville-fucking-Kentucky. It's just not worth the lawsuits and national embarrassment any more.


Remember, America has a black president, so racism is over.  Especially here in Kentucky.
In a Bullitt County Sheriff’s deputy’s body camera recording obtained by WDRB, Southeast Bullitt County Fire Chief Julius Hatfield can be heard discussing a car accident on I-65 in September. 
Hatfield first goes out of his way to provide assistance to Loren Dicken, who is white.
“You got a jack, ain’t you?” Hatfield asks the driver. “If you show me where them things is at, I’ll get my guys to start changing the tire for you.” 
At first, Dicken turns down the offer, but Hatfield insists, saying, “It will save you a bill.” 
Firefighters working for Hatfield even picked Dicken up from the hospital and took him back to the firehouse, where his car was ready and waiting.
Seems like a nice guy.  Bullitt County is just south of Jefferson County and Louisville, so it's not totally in the boondocks, and I-65 runs north to south through it. It's about a hour and change from here.

Yep, seems like a nice guy, Chief Hatfield.
But Hatfield treats the family of four black motorists completely differently. 
“Well, I’ve got a family of four from Cincinnati, I got to do something with,” the Bullitt County deputy tells Hatfield over the radio. 
“We ain’t taking no n*ggers here,” Hatfield replies, laughing
Instead of offering to help driver Chege Mwangi, the deputy recommends that he call the AAA motor club.
Oh. I see.  Well then.

Remind me not to take 65 down through Bullitt County anymore.

Actually, Bullitt County is just an extension of the all-white suburbs around downtown Louisville.  The ones who spent decades blocking the merger with Louisville.  The ones who torpedoed the school busing agreement that was actually working. The ones black mothers warn their children away from.

The ones that shouldn't get another dime of federal or state tax dollars until they fire all their white cops and hire only non-white ones for the next 100 years.  We'll see how the racist motherfuckers like that.


Lower Gas Tax = No Road Repair

Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.  Five cents less per gallon isn't going to pay for the thousands of dollars you'll spend repairing tire and undercarriage damage from unrepaired roads.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

Kentucky motorists will pay less taxes for gas starting New Year's Day, but the change will mean fewer road improvements, state officials warned Wednesday.

Kentucky's tax on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol motor fuels will drop by 4.3 cents a gallon on Jan. 1, resulting in a loss to the Kentucky Road Fund of about $129 million on an annualized basis, according to the state Transportation Cabinet.

Kentucky's gas tax fluctuates with the average wholesale price of gas, which has dropped in recent months.

"The gas tax accounts for more than half of the revenue in the Kentucky Road Fund," state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a news release. "A loss of revenue is always concerning, but a revenue impact of this magnitude is crippling. It means less money for building, improving, maintaining and repairing our roads, streets and bridges."

A loss of $129 million would amount to about 6 percent of Kentucky's highway funding, which was forecast to collect $2.25 billion in the current fiscal year from all revenue sources, including state and federal motor-fuels taxes and a state usage tax on motor vehicles.
Somalia. That's what the anti-taxers want. A Galtian paradise with no taxes, no government, no infrastructure, just warlords rapiong and killing indiscriminately.

I say ship 'em all to their no-government paradise and let the rest of us get on with funding a government that makes life civilized.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Evolution of Religion

(Source: diaphanousair)

Ed Whitfield Even More Corrupt Than You Thought

I guess if you've gotten away for years pretending to represent Western Kentucky while living in Florida, you think you can get away with anything.

Even ginning up federal legislation to put money in your wife's pocket.

LaserLock Technologies, a firm that sells anti-counterfeiting products, won a powerful congressional ally on Capitol Hill after recruiting a Kentucky congressman’s wife.

Representative Ed Whitfield, a senior Republican lawmaker from western Kentucky, personally submitted company documents on behalf of LaserLock to the congressional record in support of legislation crucial to the firm’s business. Whitfield’s wife, Constance Harriman, a registered lobbyist, has come under scrutiny from Office of Congressional Ethics investigators for unduly influencing Whitfield and his staff for her client, the Humane Society. But new revelations about her role with LaserLock, a company in which she is an investor and where she serves as a board member, reveal that Representative Whitfield may have used his congressional office to boost the fortunes of his wife’s company.

Whitfield’s effort to assist LaserLock is captured on video. A tape of a subcommittee hearing on the morning of April 25, 2013, shows the congressman intervening to endorse LaserLock-backed legislation to create a national standard for tracking the distribution of pharmaceuticals.

Five months prior to Whitfield’s advocacy on behalf of the firm, in November of 2012, LaserLock appointed Constance Harriman, Whitfield’s wife, to its board of directors.
 Yep, I'd say conservatard, repug-voting Western Kentucky got exactly the congressfuck it deserves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rosebud Lakota to XL Pipeline: You. Shall. Not. Pass.

A: They're Lakota, not "Sioux."

B: They're not fucking around.

The Guardian:

A Native American tribe in South Dakota has called a congressional vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline an “act of war” and vowed to close the reservation’s borders if the US government tries to install a pipeline there.

The prospective route for the pipeline, which would connect Canadian tar sands fields to the Gulf coast, runs through the 922,759-acre (1,442 sq mi) Rosebud Sioux reservation in south-central South Dakota. The House of Representatives voted 252-161 on Friday to approve the pipeline.

“I pledge my life to stop these people from harming our children and our grandchildren and our way of life and our culture and our religion here,” the tribe president, Cyril Scott, said on Monday. He represents one of nine tribal governments in the state.

Scott said he will close the reservation’s borders if the government goes through with the deal, which is scheduled to come up for a Senate vote on Tuesday.

Scott said the creation of the pipeline would violate the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, an agreement between the Sioux and the US government allocating parts of the Dakota territory to the Sioux. He also said he has not been consulted by the US government or TransCanada, the Canadian company behind the 1,700-mile pipeline.

“Did I declare war on our government? No I did not,” said Scott. “Did I declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline? Hell yeah I did.”


Because We Always Let Our War Criminals Skate

When was the last time America even tried to prosecute our own war criminals?  J. Edgar Hoover died in his bed. Henry Kissinger still walks free and dares to give advice on foreign affairs. Jamie Dimon is still committing the crimes that brought the global economy to its knees.  Exxon-Mobil and BP keep turning the planet into a hellscape that will destroy human civilization. 

And bloody-handed SmirkyDarth goes on book signings.

The Rude Pundit:

Why are we doing this? Why is Bush allowed to go anywhere without crowds pelting his car with shit and rotten tomatoes and eggs? Why aren't there riots at his book signings, demanding his arrest for crimes against humanity? Why hasn't he been run so far out of any town that he has to live in an underground bunker so that the angry masses don't tear him limb from limb? Are we that brain-damaged a nation that we've forgotten? Are we that delusional that we can't just say, endlessly, "Shut the fuck up," and mean that we never want to hear from him again until we all jubilantly join hands and do a crazy jig on his grave?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Meteor Shower 6 a.m. Don't Miss It

With our usual clouds in Kentucky, we don't get a good view of this stuff very often, so take advantage of a clear, dark, and extremely fucking cold pre-dawn.

Late night November 17 until dawn November 18, 2014, the Leonids
Radiating from the constellation Leo the Lion, the famous Leonid meteor shower has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history – at least one in living memory, 1966 – with rates as high as thousands of meteors per minute during a span of 15 minutes on the morning of November 17, 1966. Indeed, on that beautiful night in 1966, the meteors did, briefly, fall like rain. Some who witnessed the 1966 Leonid meteor storm said they felt as if they needed to grip the ground, so strong was the impression of Earth plowing along through space, fording the meteoroid stream. The meteors, after all, were all streaming from a single point in the sky – the radiant point – in this case in the constellation Leo the Lion. Leonid meteor storms sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years, but the Leonids around the turn of the century – while wonderful for many observers – did not match the shower of 1966. And, in most years, the Lion whimpers rather than roars, producing a maximum of perhaps 10-15 meteors per hour on a dark night. Like many meteor showers, the Leonids ordinarily pick up steam after midnight and display the greatest meteor numbers just before dawn. In 2014, the waning crescent moon shouldn’t too greatly interfere with this year’s Leonid meteor shower. The peak morning will probably be November 18 – but try November 17, too.

"Shortly before dawn" means shortly before 7 a.m. here in Central Kentucky, so I'm going to be outside in the freaking minus 4 freaking degrees below freaking zero windchill because I am a science geek. With a death-by-pneumonia wish.


(Source: darthgnarface)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

They Agree on This

Tax the Churches

Yeah, yeah, free speech is your fucking right.  So is being as stupidly freakazoid and conservatard as you want.  But tax exemption is a privilege, and one that you have to earn by keeping politics out of your fucking churches.

Ed Kilgore, Political Animal's liberal christian:

We all know from watching Fox News and reading Peggy Noonan that the Internal Revenue Service has been engaged in a vicious partisan war under the leadership of Obama-puppet Lois Lerner, who shocked the conscience by dragging her feet in granting conservative electioneering groups the right to hide their donors and avoid taxes by pretending to be “social welfare” entities. I suppose the tax collectors’ insane partisanship exposed them to so much righteous anger that they couldn’t dare to crush religious liberty, too (per this report from Politico’s Rachel Bade):
A record number of rogue Christian pastors are endorsing candidates from the pulpit this election cycle, using Sunday sermons to defiantly flout tax rules.
Their message to the IRS: Sue me.
But the tax agency is doing anything but. Although the IRS was sued itself for not enforcing the law and admitted about 100 churches may be breaking the rules, the pastors and their critics alike say the agency is looking the other way….
At the same time, the number of pastors endorsing candidates in what they call Pulpit Freedom Sunday jumped from 33 people in 2008 to more than 1,600 this year, according to organizers, Alliance Defending Freedom. And this year, they’ve stepped up their drive, telling pastors to back candidates any Sunday up until the election, not just one Sunday as in past years.
One guess about which party is benefiting from this civil disobedience.
The church leaders are jumping in high-profile races that will help decide the Senate and tight governor races across the country, endorsing candidates from Thom Tillis (R) over Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in North Carolina to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) over Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in Kentucky.
Rev. Mark Cowart, pastor at Colorado Springs-based Church For All Nations, suggested good Christians should vote Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper out of office in an Oct. 19 sermon, where he endorsed his GOP rival, Bob Beauprez.
“Beauprez is against more gun control, does not support abortion and he does protect the man-woman marriage — that’s the one I’m voting for. … I’m endorsing biblical principles,” the preacher said in a video of the service, pacing a church stage and chopping his hand through the air for emphasis.
Yeah, the Bible’s real clear about the need to stockpile military weapons, isn’t it?
In any event, these folks see nothing wrong with accepting massive tax subsidies (since contributions to their coffers are tax-deductible) and then taking official political positions. And they’re spoiling for a fight in the courts. Makes you wonder if they are really the quailing, shivering victims of Police State Persecution they always claim to be.


(Source: thedragoninmygarage)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Holidays in Kentucky State Parks

Indoor or outdoor, Kentucky State Parks are the place to be for the holidays.

  • Open All Winter The Kentucky State Parks will be open this winter with a busy schedule of outdoor and indoor events. These events include wildlife viewing weekends for elk, eagles, sandhill cranes, the Winter Adventure Weekend Jan. 23-25 at Carter Caves State Resort Park, a Family Adventure Weekend at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park Jan. 16-18 and 5K races. There are more than 250 miles of hiking trails at Kentucky State Parks. For those who like to stay inside, there are special events planned for a Thanksgiving Day buffet, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, dinner theaters, and two indoor pools – at Lake Cumberland and Lake Barkley State Resort Parks. The parks’ historic homes will also have special Christmas tours.
  • Fiber Exhibit John James Audubon State Park is hosting a fiber exhibit called “Fabulous Fibers II” starting with an opening reception on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. The exhibit will fill the lower and main levels of the Audubon Museum at John James Audubon State Park. Quilts and fiber art will be on display from nine creative artists.
  • Discounts for Military and Veterans The Kentucky State Parks are offering lodging discounts to current and former members of our nation’s armed services with the “USA Military Discount” program from Nov. 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015. The program is available to those on active military duty, retired members of the military, veterans, members of the National Guard and reservists. Proof of military service is required at check-in.
  • Eagle Watch Weekends A unique Kentucky State Park tradition – Eagle Watch Weekends – will be offered once again in January and February 2015. The park system will sponsor this wildlife-watching opportunity as bald eagles gather around the major lakes of western Kentucky looking for food. The park tours allow guests to observe and learn about these beautiful birds of prey.
  • Thanksgiving Buffets What has 2,000 pounds of turkey, 1,500 pounds of sweet potatoes and 750 pounds of country ham? Don’t forget the 4,300 pieces of fried chicken, the 1,300 pounds of roast beef and 12,000 rolls. Answer: The Kentucky State Parks’ Thanksgiving Day buffet at the park system’s 17 resort parks across the state. The parks have hosted the buffet for more than four decades and usually serve about 10,000 customers on Thanksgiving Day. The buffet will be served starting at noon on Thursday, Nov. 27.
  • My Old Kentucky Home Gift Shop My Old Kentucky Home State Park is throwing a holiday shopping party and everyone is invited! The park’s gift shop will be holding a Holiday Open House, Nov. 21-22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. There will be special discounts and drawings for prizes that include a one-night stay at a Kentucky State Resort Park and two tickets to the “Stephen Foster Story.” The park will also be selling two tickets for the price of one for a tour of Federal Hill mansion, which will be decorated for the holidays.
  • Candlelight Tours Three Kentucky State Park historic sites will continue the holiday tradition with tours during November and December.
  • Corn Maze Green River Lake State Park and a group of volunteers are honoring the 90th anniversary of Kentucky State Parks with a unique corn maze design that opens Sept. 13. The maze, located near the park entrance, looks like the state park logo from the air. Most of the work on the maze was donated and the project is sponsored by the park and the Friends of Green River Lake.
  • Geo Tour The famous Kentucky explorer Daniel Boone was asked if he had ever gotten lost in the wilderness. Boone reportedly replied, “I can't say I was ever lost, but I was once bewildered for about three days.” The Kentucky State Parks invite you to summon your inner Daniel Boone and take part in the Kentucky State Parks GeoTour at all 49 state parks starting Sept. 27, National Public Lands Day.
  • Elk Tours Two state parks in eastern Kentucky will offer guests a unique wildlife viewing opportunity this fall and winter – elk viewing tours. Visitors to Jenny Wiley and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Parks can choose a weekend and stay at a state park lodge or cottage to enjoy one of these unique tours. New this year are evening tours at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park near Prestonsburg. Participants should bring their cameras – there should be great photography opportunities. The largest elk herds are located on privately owned lands that are normally closed to the public. This is one of the few opportunities available for the public to see the greatest number of elk. The return of elk to the region is considered to be one of Kentucky’s biggest wildlife management success stories. The animals, after being gone from the state for 150 years, were returned in 1997. They now number around 10,000. Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Prestonsburg Fall 2014 dates: Sept. 20, 21, 27, 28; Oct. 18, 19, 25, 26; Nov. 1, 22, 29; Dec. 6. Winter 2015 dates: Jan. 17, 24, 25; Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28; March 7 Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is sponsoring elk tours at a cost of $30 per person or $15 per child 12 and under. This fee includes your transportation via van to the viewing sites and a continental breakfast. The park also offers packages for $160 for two people that include lodging and breakfast. Because these tours fill up quickly, registration is suggested. Special group and business tours are also available. Early morning (5:30 a.m.) and evening tours (3:30 p.m.) are offered on most dates. Call 1-800-325-0142 for information and reservations. Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park, Buckhorn Fall 2014 dates: Nov. 22, 23; Dec. 6, 7. Winter 2015 dates: Jan. 3, 4, 10, 11, 24, 25, 31; Feb. 1, 7, 8, 21, 22, 28; March 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29.
  • Civil War Exhibit "The Horse Soldier," a special Civil War cavalry exhibit featuring rarely seen personal items belonging to Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan, will be displayed at Columbus-Belmont State Park through Nov. 1. The special exhibit will tell the story of the "Horse Soldier" during the Civil War and highlight items used by Confederate cavalrymen, particularly those of Morgan and some of his fellow soldiers.

Tax Exempt

"It's easy, it's affordable, and you've got three months to sign up"

Kynect is ON IT, Mr. President.  New this year is a Kynect store in Fayette Mall in Lexington, and a mobile ap for the youngs who think they're immortal.

Full transcript here.

McConnell on the Wrong Side of Coal War

Courier-Journal headline: "McConnell vows war with Obama over coal."

The only war on coal is the one Mitch McConnell is fighting on behalf of the mine owners who are murdering coal miners and their communities.

Down with Tyranny:

Yesterday NPR and Mine Safety and Health News released the results of an investigation into another class of coddled criminals who thumb their nose at lawful society and get away with it: the mine operators.
While McConnell was shedding crocodile tears for the suffering the mine workers will have to endure because of Obama's Climate Change agreement with China, NPR was broadcasting how McConnell's donors may have been sending him his bribe money while refusing to pay millions of dollars in fines. Citations and the fines that go with egregious violations of safety rules are key components of the federal law designed to protect miners, reported NPR. "They are supposed to make violations expensive-- costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for the most serious offenses-- and create an incentive for mine owners to keep workers safe."
Erik Loomis at LGM:
Ken Ward has an excellent piece on the media’s complicity in the War on Coal narrative to describe the decline of coal jobs in Appalachia. In short, blame it on Obama and the hippies. This is of course absurd because the real reasons for coal’s decline in the region and the disappearing of the jobs is depletion of the resource, automation, the turn to natural gas and other cleaner forms of energy, and investment in the Powder River basin of Wyoming and other new coal fields. Instead of explaining this though, far too much of the media just repeat industry talking points that obscure the actual reasons in favor of cheap politics that cover up industry’s fault in the disappearance of jobs. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hoping Repugs Will Change is Political Suicide


The majority of Republicans only want to pass their own policies and somehow force the president to sign them.  They do not want compromise and they do not want moderation.  Democrats, on the other hand, are much more likely to want both.

This isn't brain surgery. As long as this dynamic exists the government will get more and more conservative regardless of what the more pragmatic Republican leaders and the Democratic Party wants.  There is no incentive for the right wing to do anything but hang in there.  They may not get everything they want in one fell swoop, but they'll be getting more of what they want than if they compromise. And they simply do not want "moderation" they want to make a point.

The Democratic plan to deal with this seems to be that a bunch of Republicans will eventually wake up and realize that they have been wrong. Good plan.

Good vs. god

(Source: christinsanity)

Reality Motto

Why You Should Be Glad Grimes Lost

One fewer fucking DINO to get rid of in 2018.  Already, six Senate repugs with Ds next to their names are preparing to give Mitch McConnell his 60-vote filibuster-proof majority, and the dem leadership has surrendered the lame-duck session.

No wonder nobody wants to vote for Democratic candidates: what the fuck are they good for?
Alex Ruthrauf at Wonkette.
On Monday, beltway bullshit scorecard POLITICO reported that nominal Democratic senators like Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, and Heidi Heitkamp appear eager to help the new Republican majority advance legislation. Manchin even called the idea of not working with Republicans to promote their agenda “bullshit.” They probably think that burnishing their “moderate centrist” credentials in this way will help them keep their jobs when they face the voters in 2018. They are wrong.

Assuming a Democrat is elected president in 2016, and middle class wages remain stagnant or continue to shrink, here is what will happen to Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill and Heidi Heitkamp in 2018: They will lose.

It will not matter if Joe Manchin literally shoots every climate bill that hits his desk. It will not matter if Claire McCaskill personally lays the Keystone XL pipeline’s ceremonial Golden Pipe. And it will not matter if Heidi Heitkamp drinks a Bakken oil smoothie for breakfast every morning.

All of them will lose.


Let them lose. Then start running Democrats who are recognizable as Democrats in a blind taste test. Even in places where the conventional wisdom says they won’t play well. These candidates will almost certainly lose too, at first. But at least the party’s resources will be spent on promoting candidates who support the core agenda that rank and file Democrats go out and vote for. Maybe undecided voters in “red states” won’t trust that agenda in Round 1, but as things stand now, they’re not even being asked to evaluate it. They choose between the Republican and the Republican with a “D” next to their name.

So why do we just assume that Democrats in “red” or “purple” states can’t take liberal positions? Probably because they so rarely try, because they’re cowards who don’t deserve to be nominated. So let’s stop nominating them.
You think a candidate promising a higher minimum wage, an FDR-style jobs program funded by taxing the shit out of Wall Street and  universal pre-K couldn't get elected in Kentucky?

Prove it. Run one.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What Are You Celebrating?

There's a reason why you rarely hear celebration of war from anyone who actually fought in one.


Sadly, we are also unaware of any school districts taking Kurt Vonnegut’s advice on how to commemorate wars:
“Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.”
Cat’s Cradle
But what did he know, anyway? He didn’t think massacres were worth celebrating either. Or maybe kids could learn about what a glorious thing war is by following WW II infantryman/journalist/cartoonist Bill Mauldin’s 1945 instructions for the civilian on the homefront who wants an idea of what The Boys went through:
“Dig a hole in your back yard while it is raining. Sit in the hole until the water climbs up around your ankles. Pour cold mud down your shirt collar. Sit there for 48 hours, and, so there is no danger of your dozing off, imagine that a guy is sneaking around waiting for a chance to club you on the head or set your house on fire.
“Get out of the hole, fill a suitcase full of rocks, pick it up, put a shotgun in your other hand, and walk on the muddiest road you can find. Fall flat on your face every few minutes as you imagine big meteors streaking down to sock you.
“After 10 or 12 miles (remember — you are still carrying the shotgun and suitcase) start sneaking through the wet brush. Imagine that somebody has booby-trapped your route with rattlesnakes which will bite you if you step on them. Give some friend a rifle and have him blast in your direction once in a while … run like hell all the way back to your hole in the back yard, drop the suitcase and shotgun, and get in.
“If you repeat this performance every three days for several months you may begin to understand why an infantryman sometimes gets out of breath. But you still won’t understand how he feels when things get tough.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Good Deed

Divine Irony:

No, Jack: State Workers Are Not Your Fucking Bodyguards

The state ethics board got this one dead wrong.

Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway can use state employees on state time for his security at private or political events during his campaign for governor, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission ruled Monday.

Conway asked for the advisory opinion after a review from his office recommended he have protection at public or publicized events. While the governor and lieutenant governor have security details from the Kentucky State Police, the Attorney General does not.

Recently, people have approached Conway in public and threatened him. Someone even showed up at Conway's house and harassed his family, according to a security review by Richard Badaracco, who works for Conway as the commissioner for the Department of Criminal Investigations.

Though he doesn't give specifics, Badaracco attributes the increased threats to "the sensitivity of recent subject matter" Conway has been dealing with. He also noted a general uptick in threats against public figures who are handling "political, environmental, religious, prosecution, social, and other 'hot topic' issues of the day."
Yeah, homophobic assholes are threatening Conway for his refusal to defend Governor Steve Beshear's epically stupid lawsuit to prevent marriage equality in Kentucky.

And Conway deserves state-provided protection. While he is doing his job. Not while he is campaigning for governor.

Read more here:

Charters Schools Are the Problem, Not the Solution

This is how it starts.  Austerity hysterics slash funding to schools in impoverished neighborhoods  until they "fail" some arbitrary scoring system. Then the corporate/freakazoid privatization vultures swoop in with the same old charter lies about miraculous improvements.

And before you know it, your teachers are on the streets, your schools are factories for corporate drones and your tax dollars have disappeared into the pockets of privateers.

Don't fall for it, Kentucky.

Kentucky proponents of charter schools are pushing for the independently operated, publicly funded schools as a solution to the achievement gap.

A discussion of charter schools Monday at the General Assembly's Interim Joint Committee on Education centered on the achievement gap for black, poor and disabled children in Fayette County.

A panel discussion to introduce parents and community members to the topic was held Monday night at the Northside Branch of the Lexington Public Library, and a similar event is planned Tuesday night in Louisville.
You know why no one ever suggests charter schools for rich, white school districts?  Because those schools don't "fail." And you know why they don't fail?  Because they have money. That's what makes children succeed in school: Money

Money for small classes.  Money for highly-paid teachers. Money for after-school programs and field trips and the latest materials.

Money to eradicate poverty in neighborhood, so children have safe, secure homes to go home to where they can do their homework in peace with full stomachs and no fear.,

Charter schools don't add the money which is the only thing that creates good schools.  Charters take tax dollars away from schools and leave cities in crisis.
(It is, of course, all about the money. Wall Street wants unaccountable, minimal-cost faux "schools.")

After decades of research, we know a lot about what makes for good schools. But there is also a handy shortcut for figuring this out: look where rich people send their kids. These schools invariably boast a broad curriculum taught by experienced teachers in small classes. Wisconsin’s top ten elementary schools, for instance, look nothing like Rocketship’s: they have twice as many licensed teachers per student; offer music, art, libraries, foreign languages and guidance counselors; and provide classes that are taught in person by experienced educators. 

Thus, the charter industry seeks to build a new system of segregated education—one divided by class and geography rather than explicitly by race. Segregation may ease the politics of the industry’s expansion, allowing privileged families to see the Rocketship model as something that’s happening only to poor people, as something inconceivable in their own neighborhoods.

Read more here:

Monday, November 10, 2014


You noticed, didn't you, that the Democratic candidates - even in red states - who embraced Barack Obama won, and the "Democratic" candidates who ran away from Barack Obama lost.

In the immortal words of Jim Hightower: "There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos."

Down with Tyranny:

Wanting to Know

(Source: askepticsjourneythroughthebible, via nonplussedbyreligion-deactivate)

The Economy Sucks Because That's The Way the Plutocrats Want It

Anybody even remember the '90s, when the tech bubble make unemployment almost disappear and workers set the agenda for desperate employers?  The bosses have blood-sworn: Never. Again.


One of the subtle effects of having such a long period of high unemployment is the way it infuses this idea into the bloodstream of the workforce that you have to work beyond your agreed-upon hours. People will do whatever they have to do to keep their jobs in a bad economy. And it's going to take a long period of low unemployment to convince people that they have rights in the workplace again.
130 years ago, work speed-ups were the primary issue that lead to industrial workers joining unions and striking.

Speed-ups, which also included the increased workload from under-staffing and extended hours, were the cause of permanent disabilities at least and horrific accidents and deaths at worst.
Now, the New Gilded Age is bringing back not just widespread poverty, massive income inequality and theft by the disgustingly rich, but also the speedups that national labor laws banished in the 1930s.

Esther Kaplan at The Nation:
But the crush of work these nurses face also exemplifies a hidden side of the recent economic recovery: in industry after industry, speedups are turning work into a hazard, with increasing numbers of injuries and dangerous levels of stress. While 18.6 million people remain underemployed, millions of others are working more hours, and more intensely, than ever.

Take the meatpacking industry. By age 39, Juan Martinez, who worked at a Cargill beef processing plant near Omaha, had hands so disfigured from making repetitive cuts that he could no longer work; he is now surviving on disability. He still experiences pain so intense it feels like nails are being hammered into his fingers. His crew had to slice up 4,600 twenty- to thirty-pound pieces per shift. In the four years he was at the plant, from 2003 to 2006, the number of people at his station dropped from eight to six or seven, while the parts kept coming. Since they couldn’t keep up with the line when someone took a bathroom break, supervisors responded by simply denying break requests. “There are people who would pee in their pants,” he told me, “because they didn’t give them permission to go.”

Whether the USDA recognizes it or not, the costs of overwork extend beyond the growing army of exhausted, shattered or broken workers. Few of the meatpackers I spoke with in Nebraska had paid sick days, so they routinely handle meat while sick with colds or with fingers infected so badly they’ve lost their nails; one organizer told me there are foods he’ll no longer eat after seeing the inside of the plants. “If it were slower, we could do the work more carefully,” one longtime Cargill worker says, “and the food would be safer to eat.”
Speedups, like those at the plant or the hospital, have produced some of the most spectacular industrial disasters in recent years.


 In our increasingly polarized economy, it seems, squeezing workers to the breaking point is just another way to maximize gains at the top. But we’re all absorbing the cost of doing business, if not in broken backs and ribs and shattered sleep, then in unsafe food and roads and hospitals. Little in our regulatory system takes on the risks of work speedup. “During a fatality investigation, OSHA doesn’t ask the question why: Why was the guard off the machine?” Celeste Monforton says. “And it’s typically off the machine because they can operate quicker without it.” She circles back to the Massey mine explosion, which she helped investigate: “The technical way it happened was the coal dust exploded—but the cause was the production pressures, the way the company had no respect for the workers’ lives.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Atheist Wasteland

(via datrobutt-deactivated20130120)

With the world's strongest and most successful cradle-to-grave welfare system.

Get Married By An Atheist

Just one of the many, many ways U.S. laws and cultural mores discriminate against those of us who are god-free and proud of it.

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:
If you are religious, and you want to get married in Minnesota, the state will license the clergy of your faith to perform your ceremony. Minnesota law even contains special carve outs for individual faiths, such as Quakers, where weddings are not generally performed by ordained ministers. Yet, if a couple prefers a secular ceremony, their options are more limited. Couples who do not wish to be married by a “minister of any religious denomination” can only have their wedding performed by a short list of government officials — mostly judges, retired judges and court administrators. So religious couples can have a deeply personal ceremony at a venue of their choosing, performed by a religious official that they may already have a relationship with. Secular couples who prefer not to be married by a minister, by contrast, are likely to have fewer options unless they are personal friends with a judge.

A lawsuit filed by an atheist group and one of its members, however, could change this calculation. The suit makes several arguments claiming that “representatives of atheist organizations” should have the same right to solemnize marriages that ordained ministers have. Among other things, the suit relies on the Supreme Court’s 2005 holding in McCreary County v. ACLU that “the ‘First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.‘” It also quotes heavily from a recent federal appeals court decision “allowing certified secular humanist celebrants to solemnize marriages in Indiana.”


Additionally, the atheist group acknowledges that “obscure or fake religions” such as “the Universal Life Church and the Church of the Latter Day Dude, a religion of the Big Lebowski” offer online ordinations that can be used to get around the Minnesota law. Nevertheless, the group says, “many atheists who want to be certified as marriage celebrants do not want to engage in the hypocrisy of pretending they are ministers of phony churches.”