Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Night and Joy Be With You All

From Wonkette commenter (of course!) BadKitty904:

(Rather than go with the more usual Auld Lang Syne, I've included a lesser-known Scottish ditty - The Parting Glass - dating back to the 17th-century and traditionally sung at the closing of events. This version comes from the spectacular BBC series, Cranford.)

Of all the money that e'er I had,
I've spent it in good company.
And all the harm I’ve ever done,
Alas, it was to none but me.
And all I've done, for want of wit,
To memory now I can't recall.
So, fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all!

On Second Thought, Just Fire Them All

Digby:

I continue to be stunned at these police officers' lack of maturity and professionalism. I understand that they're upset at both the protests and the shootings of their fellows in NYC and that's fine. But their antics in the face of criticism proves in living color what we see in so many individual incidents: they don't just want respect, they want submission. They will brook no discussion and accept no accountability, have no use for psychology or patience because the weapons in their holsters should be sufficient to gain instant compliance.  We cannot call ourselves a free society as long as that is the case.

Repugs Can't Budget Without Cheating


Bloomberg:

Republican lawmakers who have questioned the office’s analysis were unmoved. They agreed with calls from incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price for a new director who might introduce so-called dynamic scoring to CBO analysis.

Dynamic scoring is the idea that policy changes can induce significant macroeconomic effects, such as tax cuts partially paying for themselves. Democrats say the method is unproven and relies on too many assumptions.
"Dynamic scoring" is a thumb on the scales.  It's the intelligent design of budgeting. It's like demanding you get paid for the time you spend sleeping because that's recharging your batteries for work.

It's bullshit.  But it's the only way repugs can create a budget of gargantuan giveaways to the filthy rich and defense contractors that doesn't reveal a $100-trillion deficit.

Beth Ethier at Wonkette nails it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

QOTD: Vote or Get Screwed

Zandar:

And yes, I'm going to keep harping on "two-thirds of us stayed home in November" until things change.  At some point, we've got to learn that if we don't vote, we get screwed.

Repugs Have to Lie About Everything, Because Reality Never Conforms to Their Mythology


Remember, everything repugs say is a lie. Whether deliberate or psycopathic projection, it's a lie.

TPM:

A Baltimore Fox affiliate apologized Monday night for a report it ran over the weekend that deceptively edited protestors to look like they were chanting "kill a cop."
Gawker originally caught WBFF chopping up footage of a protest chant to sound like incitement to murder police on Monday.

The chant went "we won't stop, we can't stop, 'til killer cops, are in cell blocks," according to C-SPAN footage.

But WBFF cut the audio short and told viewers that the words were in fact "we won't stop, we can't stop, so kill a cop."

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pay Going Up Everywhere, But Not in Kentucky

It's going to be fun watching state legislators trying to explain why the only minimum wage Kentuckians who get a raise this year are the workers in Louisville.

Washington Post:

The minimum wage will rise in 20 states and the District of Columbia on Thursday, as laws and automatic adjustments are made with the start of the new year.

In nine states, the hike will be automatic, an adjustment made to keep the minimum wage in line with rising inflation. But in 11 states and D.C., the rise is the result of legislative action or voter-approved referenda, according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Two more states — Delaware and Minnesota — will get legislatively driven hikes later in the year, while New York will raise its minimum wage on Dec. 31. Twenty-nine states will have minimum wages above the federal minimum of $7.25.

The size of the hikes range from 12 cents in Florida to $1.25 in South Dakota. Among those states hiking the minimum wage, Washington state’s will be highest at $9.47. Oregon’s is next at $9.25., followed by Vermont and Connecticut at $9.15. Massachusetts and Rhode Island will have $9 minimum wages.
 The cost of living is low in Kentucky, but it ain't $14K a year low. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Of Course Xians Love Torture; It's What They Worship


No one should be surprised at this. christians are at the forefront of every backward, authoritarian, immoral, inhumane impulse in the world.

Frank Moraes at The Reaction:

As you've probably heard, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of torture. Of those polled, 59% were just peachy with what the CIA did; only 31% had a problem with it. Obviously, that was not what pleased me.

This poll subdivided people by their religious affiliations. So Benen put together the following graph that sums up the main categories:


Benen pointed out that people with "no religion" were pretty much the only group in the report that were against torture. I wish the numbers were better than they are, but they are far better than average. And the major Christian groups are all worse than average. It's disgusting, but again, unsurprising. It goes along with my primary complaint against modern American Christians: their religion is all culture and no theology. The one thing they absolutely believe is that people like them are "good" and people not like them (e.g., Muslims) are "bad." Thus they don't really care. After all, it's not like anyone is suggesting burning the evildoers alive. (Not that they would be against that either.)

As much as I'm pleased that we non-believers demonstrate more humanity than average, this information is profoundly disturbing. We are, after all, an almost 80% Christian country. And the only takeaway from that is that Christianity is "right" and that Christians are oppressed whenever someone says "Happy holidays!" to them. We live in a sad world.

Atheist Ten Commandments

Divine Irony:

Atheists have written their own version of the ten commandments. These commandments were chosen from submissions to Atheist Mind Humanist Heart’s (AMHH) Re-Think Prize, a crowdsourcing project….

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
4. Every person has the right to control over their body.
5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
9. There is no one right way to live.
10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Generous Welfare, Not Austerity, Creates Jobs

This is actually not counter-intuitive, at least to those of us who understand how difficult it is to find a job when you're drowning in student debt, you can't make the rent or afford food for your kids.

Starving families = starving economy. 

From the New York Times:

It is a simple idea supported by both economic theory and most people’s intuition: If welfare benefits are generous and taxes high, fewer people will work. Why bother being industrious, after all, if you can get a check from the government for sitting around — and if your choice to work means that much of your income will end up in the tax collectors’ coffers?

Here’s the rub, though: The idea may be backward.

Some of the highest employment rates in the advanced world are in places with the highest taxes and most generous welfare systems, namely Scandinavian countries. The United States and many other nations with relatively low taxes and a smaller social safety net actually have substantially lower rates of employment.

"Reconnect with the values that bind us together"

"Celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus,"  Mr. President? What about Winter Solstice, and Saturnalia, and Yule?  Unlike the "birth" of a mythical figure, Winter Solstice, Saturnalia and Yule actually do occur in late December. Whatever happened to diversity? 




Full transcript here.

Responsible Gun Ownership: Kentucky Christmas Party Edition

Again, there is no such thing as an accidental shooting. I'm sure the shooter did not intend the result, but that is all the more reason to lock him up for endangering public safety and terminal stupidity.

This behavior is a far greater menace to public safety than smoking pot or even selling it.

Justin Madden at the Herald:

A 16-year-old boy died Friday after being shot in the head at a party on Christmas night. 

Dnomyar Aket Russell was shot in the head at 11:50 p.m. Thursday at a home on Taylor Avenue in Frankfort, according to the Fayette County coroner's office.

SNIP

Frankfort police officers were called to the home after a man trying to load a firearm during a Christmas party shot Russell, police said.

SNIP

Frankfort police Maj. Robert Warfel said the shooting was "very tragic" and remains under investigation, although initial investigation determined the shooting was accidental. 
The tragedy, Major Warfel, is that under Kentucky law there is currently no way to get the shooter off the street.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/26/3612320/frankfort-teen-dies-after-being.html?sp=/99/164/#storylink=cpy

Friday, December 26, 2014

What We Are Supposed to Do

Maybe you have to have been a reporter back before newspapers and radio and TV stations were owned and run by corporations, to really appreciate this, but even in my day, in the waning years of Real Journalism, this wasn't unusual.

From Digby:

Reck of the Tribune

December 25, 1986|Al Martinez

It happened one Christmas Eve a long time ago in a place called Oakland on a newspaper called the Tribune with a city editor named Alfred P. Reck.

I was working swing shift on general assignment, writing the story of a boy who was dying of leukemia and whose greatest wish was for fresh peaches.

It was a story which, in the tradition of 1950s journalism, would be milked for every sob we could squeeze from it, because everyone loved a good cry on Christmas.

We knew how to play a tear-jerker in those days, and I was full of the kinds of passions that could make a sailor weep.

I remember it was about 11 o'clock at night and pouring rain outside when I began putting the piece together for the next day's editions.

Deadline was an hour away, but an hour is a lifetime when you're young and fast and never get tired.

Then the telephone rang.

It was Al Reck calling, as he always did at night, and he'd had a few under his belt.

Reck was a drinking man. With diabetes and epilepsy, hard liquor was about the last thing he ought to be messing with, but you didn't tell Al what he ought to or ought not to do.

He was essentially a gentle man who rarely raised his voice, but you knew he was the city editor, and in those days the city editor was the law and the word in the newsroom.

But there was more than fear and tradition at work for Al.

We respected him immensely, not only for his abilities as a newsman, but for his humanity. Al was sensitive both to our needs and the needs of those whose names and faces appeared in the pages of the Oakland Tribune.

"What's up?" he asked me that Christmas Eve in a voice as soft and slurred as a summer breeze.

He already knew what was up because, during 25 years on the city desk, Reck somehow always knew what was up, but he wanted to hear it from the man handling the story.

I told him about the kid dying of leukemia and about the peaches and about how there simply were no fresh peaches, but it still made a good piece. We had art and a hole waiting on page one.

Al listened for a moment and then said, "How long's he got?"

"Not long," I said. "His doctor says maybe a day or two."

There was a long silence and then Al said, "Get the kid his peaches."

"I've called all over," I said. "None of the produce places in the Bay Area have fresh peaches. They're just plain out of season. It's winter."

"Not everywhere. Call Australia."

"Al," I began to argue, "it's after 11 and I have no idea . . . . "

"Call Australia," he said, and then hung up.

If Al said call Australia, I would call Australia.

I don't quite remember whom I telephoned, newspapers maybe and agricultural associations, but I ended up finding fresh peaches and an airline that would fly them to the Bay Area before the end of Christmas day.

There was only one problem. Customs wouldn't clear them. They were an agricultural product and would be hung up at San Francisco International at least for a day, and possibly forever.

Reck called again. He listened to the problem and told me to telephone the Secretary of Agriculture and have him clear the peaches when they arrived.

"It's close to midnight," I argued. "His office is closed."

"Take this number down," Reck said. "It's his home. Tell him I told you to call."

It was axiomatic among the admirers of Al Reck that he knew everyone and everyone knew him, from cops on the street to government leaders in their Georgetown estates. No one knew how Al knew them or why, but he did.

I made the call. The secretary said he'd have the peaches cleared when they arrived and give Al Reck his best.

"All right," Reck said on his third and final call to me, "now arrange for one of our photographers to meet the plane and take the peaches over to the boy's house."

He had been drinking steadily throughout the evening and the slurring had become almost impossible to understand.

By then it was a few minutes past midnight, and just a heartbeat and a half to the final deadline.

"Al," I said, "if I don't start writing this now I'll never get the story in the paper."

I won't forget this moment.

"I didn't say get the story," Reck replied gently. "I said get the kid his peaches."

If there is a flash point in our lives to which we can refer later, moments that shape our attitudes and effect our futures, that was mine.

Alfred Pierce Reck had defined for me the importance of what we do, lifting it beyond newsprint and deadline to a level of humanity that transcends job. He understood not only what we did but what we were supposed to do.

I didn't say get the story. I said get the kid his peaches.

The boy got his peaches and the story made the home edition, and I received a lesson in journalism more important than any I've learned since.

I wanted you to know that this Christmas Day.

Now Here's How You Do Petty Law Enforcemenbt

Not really aimed at the car-less poor people who bear the brunt of petty law enforcement, but it shows that some people in Lexington city government understand the concept of public service.

Justin Madden at the Herald:

LexPark said the campaign collected more than 6,200 cans of food at its North Broadway location as payment for more than 600 meter citations.

The food for fines program ran from Nov. 17 through Dec. 19. It allowed customers to bring in 10 cans of food to pay for any meter citation. Customers who had multiple meter citations were able to bring in 10 cans for each one, including those that were past due.

SNIP
"While the national attention was exciting, we were very grateful that the local media got behind the story and really helped us get the word out," Means said. "Over 370 citizens participated by hauling in their cans, many of which donated more that was required."

All canned food donations received by LexPark were given to God's Pantry Food Bank.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/24/3610132_lexingtons-food-for-fines-program.html?sp=/99/164/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

Sick and Tired of White Freakazoids Getting Their Way? Then Get Your Ass to the Polls

They don't think both parties are the same.  They don't think voting is a waste of time. They know the only way to win is to vote our guys out and their guys in.

And the only way to beat them is to out-vote them.



Let’s start with Sarah’s November 5 piece at Religion Dispatches that contrasts the actual 2014 turnout among white evangelicals in southern states with the estimates made earlier by pollster Robert Jones, who predicted a Christian Right Waterloo thanks to declining numbers.
SNIP
The proportion of white evangelicals in Kentucky has plunged 11 points, from 43 percent to 32 percent; here Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces the Democratic Alison Grimes, the secretary of state.
But according to last night’s preliminary exit polls, in Kentucky, 52% of electorate were white evangelical or born again Christians. Just 30% of them voted for Grimes, and 68% for McConnell.
SNIP

So whatever the population numbers, it seems white evangelicals continue to punch well above their weight when it comes to voting.
That’s where today’s Monkey Cage post from Lydia Bean comes in. After observing the grass-roots as well as the elite influences that reinforce Christian right voting behavior, she notes:
Campaigns only remind evangelicals what they have already learned from their religious community: that voting Republican is a natural extension of what it means to be a good Christian. This message is not just reinforced from the top-down during campaign season, by Christian Right interest groups and campaign ads. It is also reinforced from the bottom-up by trusted local leaders who are part of people’s everyday lives.
If we want to increase midterm voting among groups who stayed home, we need to ask who the local opinion leaders might be to reach low-propensity voters. What local settings could play the role of an evangelical small group or Bible study? Where do people learn that voting is expected of them, to be a good member of their network, in a context of personal accountability? And what is the organizational vehicle that will identify and develop these local leaders, who will engage a much larger set of low-propensity voters in year-round base-building? You’ve got to hand it to conservative evangelicals: they really have all of this down.
Instead of endlessly predicting the Christian Right’s imminent demise, progressives should go to school on what motivates conservative evangelicals to become and remain politically engaged. They aren’t just going to fade away.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Your Little Darlings Are Their Cash Cows"

Looking for a good subject to start a fight over at holiday dinner tomorrow?  How about charter schools vs. public education?  That always gets the freakazoids and conservatards foaming at the mouth.

Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo:

Education corrodes extremism is a pretty concise explanation for why Wall Street has joined forces with the religious right in this country in a cynical effort to undermine public education under the rubric of "choice." For the Big Money Boyz, the "education market is ripe for disruption." Education reform is about mining public education and transferring as much as possible of that steady, recession-proof, government-guaranteed stream of public tax dollars to the investor class by expanding charter schools. For the religious right, it's about shielding their kids from knowledge they perceive as in conflict with their religious views. Like other fundamentalists, they want to keep modernism at bay. Because freedom. And because they resent having their tax dollars fund public education and not their religious schools.

Whether you're James Dobson, Charles Koch, or the Taliban, education corrodes extremism, and we can't have that.

At the Education Opportunity Network, Jeff Bryant offers a detailed, year-end roundup of vulture capitalism's predations. It's been a big year for charter school scandals:
Here and there, stories emerged: a charter school trying to open up inside the walls of a gated community while a closed one continued to get over $2 million in taxpayer funds. Stories about charter operators being found guilty of embezzling thousands of taxpayer dollars turned into other stories about operators stealing even more thousands of dollars, which turned into even more stories about operators stealing over a million dollars
While some charter schools schemed to steer huge percentages of their money away from instruction toward management salaries and property leases (to firms connected to the charter owners, of course), others worked the system to make sure fewer students with special needs were in their classrooms. Then the steady drip-drip from local news sources turned into a fire hose in May when a blockbuster report released by Integrity in Education and the Center for Popular Democracy revealed, “Fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing, or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.” 
The report, “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse,” combed through news stories, criminal records, and other documents to find hundreds of cases of charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by foregoing safety regulations or withholding service.
That's just a sampling.

As I keep saying about the new "education industry":
The impulse among conservatives to privatize everything involving public expenditures – schools included – is no longer just about shrinking government, lowering their taxes and eliminating funding sources for their political competitors. Now it’s about their opportunity costs, potential profits lost to not-for-profit public-sector competitors. It’s bad enough that government “picks their pockets” to educate other people’s children. But it’s unforgivable that they’re not getting a piece of the action. Now they want to turn public education into private profits too.
Your little darlings are their cash cows.

Conservatives And Pot

If they're not lying, they're projecting. If they're not projecting, they're redefining hypocrisy. 

Conservatives are the perfect moral relativists: morality - and the law and the Constitution - is what they say it is.

Even if that's the opposite of what they said it was yesterday, and the reverse of what they're going to say tomorrow.

Erik Loomis at LGM:

Remember friends, conservatives are always about smaller government and leaving people alone to live their lives as they want:
Two neighboring states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Colorado’s laws legalizing recreational marijuana.
The Colorado attorney general’s office says the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed the lawsuit directly with the nation’s highest court. The attorney general’s office says the lawsuit alleges “that Colorado’s Amendment 64 and its implementing legislation regarding recreational marijuana is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
In other words, right wing states decide to launch a lawsuit based upon a culture war against a liberal state (or however you want to define Colorado). Nebraska and Oklahoma are claiming that they are suffering because of the marijuana arrests no one is forcing them to make based upon their borders with Colorado. For Oklahoma, this makes almost no sense since I am sure very, very few people buying legal marijuana in Colorado are crossing it’s small and remote border with the Sooner State. Of course, the solution to this “problem” for the attorney general in these states is not to spend less money on stupid laws and reallocate that money to solving social problems. It’s to spend more money on a frivolous lawsuit. Which pretty much sums up modern conservatism.

What We Need Is A Dick Tax

From a Nation reader:

Point 5, “Men,” in Katha Pollitt’s list is the key. The pro-life movement’s male supporters know they will never, ever have to face the hard choices faced by a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. We can’t change that, but we can change that men get off scot-free.

Until such time as it is shown that women can make themselves pregnant, I propose we institute a universal “dick tax.” (Think of it as honoring Nixon and Cheney.) The dick tax would be a flat fee of $100 annually for every US male over the age of 14. Dick tax avoiders would be excluded from all government benefits, as well as driver’s licenses, hunting and fishing licenses, concealed-carry permits, etc. Such a tax would raise some $15 billion a year and could be used to support women with prenatal care, childcare and education. Men who could prove they are incapable of impregnating someone would be exempt.

Haydon Rochester Jr.
onancock, va.

I TOLD You to Fire All the White Cops, But You Didn't Listen

Now they've got total immunity to do whatever they want.

Digby:

But this just sounds like blackmail to me:
We should all be concerned about the reaction our police officers will have. I have seen times when police bashing has resulted in officers doing the minimum necessary to complete their tours and go home safely to their families.
Those officers need to find other jobs. If they are unable to act in a professional manner, "keep calm and carry on" in the face of criticism then they really are far too delicate to be cops. Imagine how agitated and flustered they must get in dangerous situations?

This very much reminds me of the CI and NSA whining constantly that if they have to follow laws, rules and norms and submit themselves to any kind of accountability they will be so reluctant to do their jobs we'll all be killed in our beds and it will be our own fault. Again, blackmail --- either let us do whatever we want and don't ask us any questions or the country gets it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Not Even Close to Good Enough

Three years until everyone in Kentucky is able to "tap into high-speed internet" is complete and total bullshit.
 
Right now, everyone is Kentucky is able to "tap into high-speed internet."  For a price. Equal to your entire annual income due every month.
 
Availability of "high-speed internet" is not the problem.  AFFORDABILITY of high-speed internet is the problem, you lying motherfuckers.
 
And just to put the vomit icing on this shit cake, "every corner of the Commonwealth" really means just eastern Kentucky, and the contract is going to a private company, which means it will cost 10 times as much and take 10 times as long and complete 10 percent of intended service as it would if Kentucky just told Bell South and Verizon to fuck and die and built statewide broadband itself.
 
By 2018, all parts of Kentucky will be able to tap into high-speed Internet service, a move state leaders say will propel the state in education, economic development, health care and public safety.
 
At a news conference Tuesday in the state Capitol with Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, called the expanded service "the modern-day equivalent of the interstate highway system."
 
Beshear and Rogers, who are partnering to improve Eastern Kentucky through SOAR, the "Shaping Our Appalachian Region" initiative, announced that the state last Friday signed a contract with Macquarie Capital of Australia to develop "a robust, reliable, fiber backbone infrastructure to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to every corner of the Commonwealth."
 

We Still Can't Breath: Don't Back Down

Don't let the crybaby antics of a bunch of KKK apologists intimidate you from calling out the racist murderers and their protectors.

Dave Zirin in The Nation is referring specifically to athletes, but it applies to all of us. 
If the athlete-activists do retreat into silence, it would be a tragic mistake. Now more than ever, players who wore the slogan “I Can’t Breathe” a week ago should wear it today. In fact, trying to find your breath when police and media are declaring war against a peaceful movement could not be more critical.

For players to say that standing with the families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and others would now be “inappropriate” is a concession to political actors who are maliciously reframing why they stepped up in the first place. The senseless murder of two police officers by a suicidal lone gunman with a history of mental illness in no way negates the single most important organizing principle of the movement: that black lives matter. Those like Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, and their ilk who are equating this movement with violence and murder have never given a damn about opposing police brutality. Instead, they see themselves as foot soldiers in a bigger project of chilling, burying or even criminalizing all criticism of anyone who wears a badge.

The entire focus of everyone involved in this movement—from the people in the street to LeBron and Derrick Rose—has been to demand that African-Americans be afforded the same humanity as everyone else: to be treated as people and not “demons” that need to be put down. There is nothing in the slogans “black lives matter” or “I can’t breathe” or the marches and die-ins that remotely suggests that projecting violence toward police is a solution to police violence. In fact, we have seen athletes like the NFL’s Reggie Bush and pro wrestler MVP who have been both part of the movement and have police officers in their immediate family. Given the explicit calls for vengeance by the NYPD and the rush by the media to place the blame for the shooting on people protesting violence, athletes could use their stature to assert that this movement is just.

I am well aware that this is easy as hell for me to say. It’s not my risk. It’s not my paycheck. It’s not my livelihood. But when you lend support to a movement, you bear a responsibility for that movement’s well being. Black lives matter, and in fact that needs to be expressed with urgency. As long-time criminal justice organizer Keeanga Yahmatta-Taylor said to me, “I can hardly imagine the fear coursing through black New York today. Don’t let your young sons out of the house. This is what we can’t give into—the siege in black communities to avenge murder in the name of the law.” It’s easy when management is patting you on the back, thousands are in the street and Fox News is in the corner mumbling to itself. But now the sunshine is gone and the chill is settling in. If LeBron or Derrick Rose—hell, if Nik Stauskas or Jeremy Lin—can turn their spotlight into even a little bit of sunlight, it will make a difference. If you believed that LeBron, Kenny Britt, Ariyana Smith, the women of Berkeley and so many other athlete activists were on the side of right a week ago, then there is no reason to not believe that they are still right today. Their voices are needed more than ever.

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Not the first, and not going to be the last"

Anti-police-brutality protesters shut down a major intersection in Louisville.  Get used to it, commuters.

Kirsten Clark at the Courier:

A protest shut down the intersection of Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway at 1:55 p.m., according to MetroSafe.

The protest began around 1 p.m., the dispatcher said, and cars had been redirecting themselves until law enforcement officially shut down the intersection.

"We had a mock funeral for the victims of police brutality," said Ashley Belcher, one of the organizers.
Watch the video.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

When Freakazoids Are In Charge of Welfare

We've tried this for millenia. It never works, except to add fuel to the "all poors are worthless and deserve their suffering" fire.

That's why we gave the job to government, which saved millions of lives during the Great Depression, and lifted millions more out of poverty for the next four decades.

The twist now is that instead of letting churches use their own donations to keep the poor poor, repugs want to give churches tax dollars to keep the poor poor.

Zandar:

Alternet's Adam Lee has a theory about why Republicans want to destroy the safety net for America's poor and let church charities deal with them instead: putting millions of Americans under a new theocratic state is exactly what they want.
Cutting government charity on the scale that Republican Congresses propose would be Armageddon," according to local charities and food banks. But I think there's an explanation that runs deeper than indifference. I suspect many religious conservatives are well aware that what they propose would mean throwing millions of people into destitution. In fact, they may be counting on it. 
Under the law, churches have wide latitude to discriminate and to put conditions on whom they'll hire and whom they'll serve, far more than any private business. In exchange for ladling out soup, they can make people sit through a sermon; they can impose an ideological loyalty test; they can refuse to serve people they think might be gay; they can discriminate for any reason or for no reason at all. (The one thing that churches can't legally do is tell their members how to vote - at least, they can't do this if they want to retain their tax exemption - but they're fighting hard to repeal even that trivial restriction, with right-wing pastors all around the country repeatedly flouting the law and daring the IRS to punish them.) 
While most evangelical churches proclaim that they want people to convert voluntarily, their actions show otherwise. When given the chance to coerce their audience, they'll do so gleefully, as we've seen in prison ministries all over the country where inmates are given special rewards and privileges in exchange for their cooperation with religious indoctrination. 
What they want, in short, is a captive audience. If government charity were to be cut off, the churches wouldn't be able to come close to supplying the wants of everyone, and so they'd have strong incentive to impose stringent conditions on the people they did help. Only the most faithful, the most compliant, the most submissive would be able to get through the door
And that's precisely the state of affairs that the religious right yearns for. What they want is to build a theocracy from the ground up, where the poor and the needy are abjectly dependent on a church that can yank away the necessities of life if it judges them insufficiently compliant, and so the masses will have no choice but to be corralled and steered. Even today, we can see this conservative vision put into practice, and witness the terrible consequences that result when it blocks the government from helping the needy. Consider Mississippi, which is both the most religious and has the most churches per capita of any U.S. state. If rosy visions like Ernst's were true, Mississippi would be the best place in the country to live. But in reality, it's the poorest and (by life expectancy) sickest state.
If you thought right wing Christians were furious with poor people getting tax money and having to jump through hoops to show they're really needy, wait until they have to go through the church to get basic needs met.  Millions of ready souls to be cared for, and the church can set whatever rules they want in exchange for help, including listening to whom they should vote for.

Which is exactly what the GOP wants.

What is Right

Yes, he was a vicious racist, homophobe and misogynist, but when it came to slapping down the freakazoids, nobody did it better.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

We Don't Have to Accept Slave-Grown Food or Anything

You already know that far too much of the produce you will buy for Christmas dinner and the clothing and electronics you will buy for gifts are made by virtual slaves in horrific conditions both here and overseas.

You, like me, try to avoid the worst, but mostly ignore it, because otherwise we'd starve naked in the dark.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  Any of it.

Erik Loomis at LGM:

Imagine if this was the standard for regulating production rather than the exception that took a decade of hard struggle to win:

Growers in the Fair Food Program are prohibited from firing workers who complain about working conditions. Paychecks must be calculated based on electronic time card systems, which are difficult to fudge. Growers must hire their workers directly rather than through labor contractors, comply with surprise inspections, and they have to fire supervisors who abuse or sexually harass worker, or who allow children to work in their fields. Workers’ complaints, collected via a 24-7 hotline, are investigated within two days of being received.
If the FFSC finds that a grower both failed to follow the rules and failed to correct them once caught, the corporate buyer switches to another approved grower, and the noncompliant grower loses business.
This fall, Whole Foods was the first retailer to introduce the Fair Food Label, a labeling program for tomatoes grown under FFSC, in stores. “It’s been a wonderful program,” says Erik Brown, senior global produce buyer for Whole Foods, adding that it helped him to bring “dignity” to his work.
In the program’s first four years, FFSC staff interviewed 7,500 workers in person, and processed nearly 600 complaints from workers, according to the report. Of those, the FFSC found about 40 percent were valid reports of violations of the Fair Food Program; another third of complaints were for conditions not covered by the program. Over the same period, the FFSC suspended seven growers from its program.
This should be the standard, with routine real inspections and a process to deal with problems. This is what needs to happen everywhere from the apparel factories of Bangladesh to the vegetable farms of Mexico. Anywhere that sends products to the United States. Instead, this is a unique program developed in response to a decade or organizing the Florida tomato fields by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a union of Latino farmworkers. The CIW is hoping to expand this to the state’s berry fields and spread it around the nation. That would be great. But it shouldn’t take this level of organizing to win these kinds of inspections. They should be government mandated.

KY Teabaggers Are Murdering Public Libraries

Few true community assets remain in our austerity hysteria age, but one of the most venerable and valuable is the one fucking 'baggers in Kentucky have set their vicious, brainless sights on.

Zandar:

The Tea Party of Kentucky will not be satisfied until the Bluegrass State is a smoking wreck of stupidity, and their next target is to destroy county library systems across the state with a massive lawsuit that, if successful, would force libraries to refund millions in tax dollars to taxpayers and shut their doors thanks to a 50-year old law.
Most of the state's public library systems could be forced to roll back their tax rates and collectively refund millions of dollars to local taxpayers under a pair of lawsuits heard Monday by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. 
The suits, filed by taxpayers in Kenton and Campbell counties, argue that many library districts have improperly raised taxes for decades without the 51 percent voter approval required by a previously obscure 1964 state law. 
"We the people own the library. Every dollar spent in that library comes from us. So we should have a voice," said Charlie Coleman, a Tea Party activist elected last month as a Campbell County commissioner. 
Circuit judges in Northern Kentucky sided with the plaintiffs in April 2013. The Kenton and Campbell county libraries appealed, warning of calamitous budget cuts if the suits succeeded. 
Making their case Monday, the libraries' attorneys said a separate law, House Bill 44, enacted in 1979, was meant to include most libraries among the special taxing districts that are allowed to raise taxes by an amount that increases revenue up to 4 percent each year without voter approval. Libraries were advised to follow HB 44 by state revenue officials in Frankfort. 
"No one objected to this for 30 years. Not one member of the General Assembly said to a library district, 'Hey, you're doing this the wrong way!'" Jeffrey Mando, attorney for the Campbell County library, told the three-judge appellate panel. 
"To now say to the libraries, 'You've gotta go back ...' That would be devastating," Mando said. "More than a 50 percent funding loss for the Campbell County library system. An equal or greater funding loss for other libraries around the state. And these library districts did nothing but operate in good faith."
It doesn't matter.  Government that works has to be government that is destroyed.  Forget the fact that libraries are links to continuing education and internet access for the poor in the state, that's exactly why they have to be shut down.  And yes, these people are looking to destroy Kentucky's libraries over a technicality, and they'll get the judges to sign off on it.

So when libraries across the state are shut down, it'll be a victory for the people, right?

Stupid poor people, get your own access to information and stop being poor!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Shame on You, EPA

People have already died from coal ash in Kentucky and Tennessee, you chicken-shit, scare-of-Mitch-McConnell motherfuckers.

And no, he's not going to leave you alone because of this; he's recognized your cowardice and he's going to triple down on destroying your agency.

And you deserve it.

Emily Atkin at Think Progress:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday issued its first-ever regulations on coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal for power. But to environmentalists’ chagrin, the agency declined to designate the substance as a hazardous waste.

Instead, coal ash will be regulated similarly to household garbage. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy assured reporters on Friday that designating coal ash as solid waste, rather than hazardous waste, would be sufficient to prevent catastrophic spills of coal ash from the ponds the substance is often stored in, and to prevent it from leaching into groundwater, as it has in the past.

“I’m very proud that the EPA is moving this over the finish line,” McCarthy said. “[The rule] is a common sense path forward that protects public health and the environment.”

Coal ash — which often contains chemicals like arsenic, chromium, mercury, and lead — is the second-largest form of waste generated in the United States. After producing it, coal companies sometimes dispose of it by dumping it into ditches, and filling those ditches with water. Those ditches, called coal ash ponds or lagoons, are often unlined, meaning the coal ash comes in direct contact with the environment. It has, until now, never been federally regulated.

Environmentalists have long been pushing for a strong rule, but they were less than enthused about the direction EPA decided to take with it on Friday. “There is simply no excuse for EPA’s dangerously weak coal ash rule, which treats toxic waste loaded with carcinogens like household garbage,” Josh Nelson, campaign manager at CREDO Action, said in a statement.
 James Bruggers at the Courier has a good piece on this.

No, Greg Fischer is Not a Liberal Democrat

Just your standard bizness motherfucker.

Think Progress:

The Democratic majority on Louisville, KY’s city council plans to vote for a $10.10 minimum wage on Thursday, but the city’s Democratic mayor has promised to veto the measure because he feels it is aggressive. Mayor Greg Fischer has said he would sign an increase from the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour to $8.50 or $8.75, but the future of the measure is cloudy.

Fischer, who has described himself as “a business guy that just happens to be mayor,” had previously indicated that he might accept a $10 minimum wage if it were phased in very gradually. But Fischer said on Monday that he worries that the council’s bill would cost the city jobs, a claim that is not supported by the most precise studies of how businesses and economies respond to minimum wage laws. Reports vary on whether or not council Democrats are willing to compromise with Fischer and lower their sights from $10.10.
Now Fischer has agreed to a $9 per hour wage to rise with inflation.  Given that inflation is around two percent, that's more insulting than no increase at all.

Shame on the council for caving.

Thank You, Ted Cruz

President Obama's nominees are not, of course, the far-left liberals needed to just begin to offset the far-right wingnut extremist crazies appointed by Reagan and both Bushes who now dominate the federal courts.
But they are a slight improvement over vacancies.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:
Thanks to Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) blunder, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was able to move 12 more judicial nominees towards confirmation this week, which may ultimately bring the overall total for the year to 88 -- more than double last year's tally, and the most since Bill Clinton's second year in office.
As of this minute, 291 of Obama's judicial nominees have been confirmed to the federal bench -- one more than Reagan at this point in his sixth year, 37 more than W. Bush, and just seven fewer than Clinton. If, however, the 12 pending nominees are approved this week, Obama will be outpacing them all.
Brookings' Russell Wheeler told the AP that Obama and the Democratic-led Senate have "changed the face of the judiciary."
The rest of the AP article makes clear just how true that is:
Of Obama’s judges confirmed so far, 42 percent have been women, 19 percent black and 11 percent Hispanic, the White House said. That exceeded the percentages of his immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Clinton, the White House said.
Another measure of Obama’s impact is on federal appeals courts, which have enormous influence on their regions of the country and can be conduits for cases to reach the Supreme Court. When he took office, 10 of the 13 appeals courts had more judges appointed by Republican than Democratic presidents. Now the balance has switched, with Democratic-appointed majorities on nine of the courts.
Most significantly, that includes the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, considered the nation’s second-most powerful court because its jurisdiction includes actions by the White House and federal agencies.
Of course, for the White House, Senate Democrats, or anyone else who wants to see the courts move in a more progressive direction, the good news is poised to come to a screeching halt. Dems have controlled the Senate for each of the last eight years – and for all of the Obama presidency – which generally made it possible to advance many of the White House’s preferred jurists. A Republican-led Senate begins next month, at which point, the confirmation process will slow to crawl, if not a complete stop.
In the meantime, though, this is the part of a president’s legacy that will matter long after he or she has left office.

Is Your Local Sheriff Counting Cop Killings? Now It's Federal Law

No more fucking excuses. Now they have to count them. And to count them they have to keep records. And to keep records they have to create records. With facts. And evidence.

This is a huge step forward.  Take advantage of it.  Demand your local law enforcement start obeying this law today, and demand reports every month.

Nicole Flatow at Think Progress:

This week as all eyes were on budget deal wrangling, with little attention and fanfare, Congress actually got something done to reform the police. It passed a bill that could result in complete, national data on police shootings and other deaths in law enforcement custody.

Right now, we have nothing close to that. Police departments are not required to report information about police to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Some do, others don’t, others submit it some years and not others or submit potentially incomplete numbers, making it near-impossible to know how many people police kill every year. Based on the figures that are reported to the federal government, ProPublica recently concluded that young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than whites.

Under the bill awaiting Obama’s signature, states receiving federal funds would be required to report every quarter on deaths in law enforcement custody. This includes not those who are killed by police during a stop, arrest, or other interaction. It also includes those who die in jail or prison. And it requires details about these shootings including gender, race, as well as at least some circumstances surrounding the death.

New York Bans Fracking; Why Hasn't Kentuckyt?

Because while New York's governor may be wholly owned and operated by Wall Street, Kentucky's is wholly owned and operated by the granddaddy of fossil fuels: Big Coal.

From the New York Times:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the controversial method of natural gas extraction.
State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health.
That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting convened by Mr. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.
The question of whether to allow fracking has been one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years, pitting environmentalists against others who saw it as a critical way to bring jobs to economically stagnant portions of upstate.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NOW Grimes Decides to Challenge Repugs

UPDATE: AynRandy responds

The best part of this will be the screaming toddler tantrum the Tribble-Toupeed One throws at not getting his way.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

* In Kentucky, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) made clear yesterday that Sen. Rand Paul (R) cannot legally run for president and the U.S. Senate at the same time in 2016. She's prepared to take him to court to prevent the Republican from trying to circumvent Kentucky law.

Anti-Choicers Win Only By Lying

The biggest obstacle to solving the existential threats of our time - global warming, religious fanaticism and right-wing terrorism - is the disappearance over the last 40 years of any punishment of right-wingers for blatant lying.

Amanda Marcotte at RH Reality Check:

It’s long been a media and political truism that the abortion debate is primarily a struggle over morals and values, pitting concern for embryonic life against women’s right to bodily autonomy. That really did used to be the case, I’d say. Looking over the political landscape now, though, it’s becoming clear that the anti-choice movement has basically abandoned that moralistic strategy when it comes to their actual political activism.

Sure, anti-choicers still lean on the “pro-life” angle in internal messaging to supporters and while harassing women outside of clinics. But when it comes to making change happen on a legislative or judicial level, the anti-choice movement is borrowing a plan of action from climate change denialists and creationists: Create the illusion of a scientific controversy where none exists, and use that as a pretext to push a right-wing agenda. Climate change denialists have had great success claiming there’s a scientific dispute over whether global warming is real, when in fact there’s overwhelming consensus that it is happening. Creationists have also successfully confused the public about research regarding evolutionary biology, which is so ridiculous at this point it’s like saying that there’s debate over whether gravity is real.

Now, anti-choicers seem to be favoring this strategy over old-school declarations that embryos have a right to life, which supersedes a woman’s right to her own body. The idea is to create the illusion—in other words, flagrantly lie—that there is a serious medical debate over the dangers of abortion to a woman’s physical and mental well-being, and use that to argue that a bunch of laws making it harder to obtain abortions are necessary.

As Sofia Resnick recently documented for RH Reality Check, lying about the dangers of abortion for women is the go-to method for passing abortion restrictions at the state level these days. And, when the restrictions are inevitably challenged in court, the sleazy operators declaring themselves “experts” even as they spew unscientific, falsified information are being called up to give testimony to justify these restrictions.

SNIP

Despite the clear evidence that abortion is not dangerous, anti-choicers have come to realize what climate change denialists and creationists have figured out: There is evidently no political or legal way to separate truth from lies, as long as the liars stand firm and refuse to change their story. If a legislator or a judge prefers the lie to the truth, there’s almost nothing scientists and doctors can do to fix that. Take the situation in Texas, where Dr. James Anderson and Dr. John Thorp falsely testified that abortion was too dangerous to perform without hospital admitting privileges—and were paid by the state to be expert witnesses at trial. The main issue here is there is no mechanism in place to make lawmakers listen to facts instead of honeyed lies they wish were true.

This problem isn’t restricted to the lower courts and state legislatures, either. In 2007, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion justified the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a ban on the intact dilation and extraction later abortion procedure by leaning heavily on anti-choice misinformation, which claimed that women are in great danger of being traumatized and unable to heal after getting abortions. That’s not true, but Kennedy apparently wished it were—so he made his decision on wishes and not facts. That’s almost surely the main cause for the current explosion of laws being passed with a bunch of lies about abortion risks as their justification. Anti-choicers have good reason now to believe the highest court in the land will play along with their game of telling convenient lies to get their way.

SNIP

Right now, it’s hard to say if the false claim that abortion is dangerous is as convincing to the public as false claims about creationism or global warming have been. It does seem like the media has been better overall than they’ve been on global warming about not letting a bunch of liars sow doubt about abortion safety on TV and in the newspapers, though of course some always sneak through. But sadly, in our courts and legislatures, the liars have far too much power.

America's Fifth-Craziest Politican Is Ky's Very Own Ayn Randy

I don't give him the crazy pass; he's just plain a fucking moron.

Via Juanita Jean, GQ's 20 Craziest Politicans:

5. Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.]

Just how crazy?
Said the Obama administration going after BP because of the Gulf oil spill was "part of this sort of blame-game society, in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault, instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen." Warned that unchecked illegal immigration would lead to a "borderless mass continent" that used a currency known among conspiracy theorists as the amero.

Honor Those Who Said No to Torture

If we don't prosecute and imprison the torturers and the ones who planned, justified and excused it, then at the very least let us honor those who refused to torture.

Jon Weiner at The Nation:
Hidden in the Senate torture report are stories of some heroes—people inside the CIA who from the beginning said torture was wrong, who tried to stop it, who refused to participate. There were also some outside the CIA, in the military and the FBI, who risked careers and reputations by resisting—and who sometimes paid a heavy price. They should be thanked and honored.

But President Obama hasn’t mentioned them. Instead, he praised the CIA officials who presided over the torture regime as “patriots.”

We should “celebrate the ones who stood up for what was right,” says David Luban of the Georgetown University law school, author of Torture, Power and Law. Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, author of the definitive book on Bush administration torture, The Dark Side, calls them “the real torture patriots.”

SNIP

The heroes in the torture report include Ali Soufan, former FBI agent and interrogator of terrorists who, according to Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower, came closer than anyone to preventing the 9/11 attacks. Soufan has argued publicly against torture and in favor of “rapport-building” as the best technique to get information from suspects. The CIA heavily censored his memoir The Black Banners in what Wright called an effort “to punish a critic and to obscure history.” He was featured in a Frontline documentary made by Martin Smith and James Gilmore.

Another hero: Alberto Mora. As general counsel of the Navy in 2004, Jane Mayer reported, he tried to stop the torture program. He told his superiors at the Pentagon that the Bush torture policy violated the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition of torture and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” He described the Bush program as “unlawful” and “dangerous,” and warned that the torturers could face criminal prosecution. He was featured in the documentary Taxi to the Dark Side by Alex Gibney (which won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2007).

Some of the heroes were ordinary soldiers, like Sgt. Joe Darby, who first revealed the Abu Ghraib abuses. As a result,” Luban points out, he “had to live under armed protection for six months.” Others were high officials, like Philip Zelikow, an adviser to Condoleezza Rice, who, Luban reports, wrote an “anti-torture memo” that the White House “attempted to destroy.”

And there was Ian Fishback, an army captain who reported that his own unit was abusing Iraqi prisoners. Eventually he wrote an open letter to Senator John McCain, asking, “Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security?” His answer: “I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is ‘America.’ ”

Finally we have the case of Guanta√°namo prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who refused to prosecute a teenager who had been abused in US detention in Afghanistan and Guant√°namo. For that decision, Jameel Jaffer and Larry Siems report, Vandeveld was “barred from the prosecutors’ office, confined to his residence and threatened with dismissal from the Army.”

SNIP

The ACLU has set up a web page with a petition to President Obama to “honor those who said no to torture.”
And make sure everyone knows that waterboarding was the least of it and the CIA wasn't alone.
Digby:

I think people don't realize how much anal rape was going on. It wasn't just those "high value" detainees and it didn't happen just a couple of times.

SNIP

Folks, they were raping these prisoners and they knew they were raping these prisoners. It wasn't just the CIA, it was the Pentagon too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"A Call for Justice Shouldn't Warrant An Apology"

And cops who claim to be offended by a call for justice probably have good reason to fear real justice.




It's Not the Protesters Who Are Missing the Point

John Marshall posts a reader rebuke.
We supporters don’t “miss” the “deep wells of support and trust” police have in the majority population. They have always had such support and trust. It just doesn’t matter here. What you seem to miss is that the reason that such support and trust exists is due to the fact that what they are protecting the majority population from, in the minds of far too many in that population, is us! From the Slave patrollers to the rural sheriffs, to the modern police forces, the threat perceived most vividly by the population they “protect and serve” is that of the (violent) black person. Even a cursory look at the history and culture of this nation will reveal that in popular culture for many decades the majority culture was told to be scared of people of color. The result of this villainization of Black, Brown, Red and Yellow skin is a populace that believes, at least subconsciously, that any stranger with a dark skin is a potential threat. Thus the differing rates of charging and conviction between white and minority populations. It is that perception that drives a lot of the injustice minorities complain about.
Read the whole amazing fucking thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Let's Steal Tea Party Tactics to Beat Their Ideology

Responsible people should be pushing back strongly on the notion that the progressive faction is somehow as dangerous as the Tea Party just because it has the courage to stand up to what Wall Street-friendly corporate centrists want. The progressive wing is right on the policy, and tactically it isn’t drawing any red lines that Republican legislators wouldn’t be able to sell to their base if they cared to.

Unless, of course, the Republican base isn’t their voters but rather the top tenth of one percent of incomes. But then, isn’t confronting and exposing that reality what decent politics is supposed to be all about?

Read the whole thing.

QOTD: The Dangerous Banality of Torture

Digby:

Our government officials showed us that they are hysterical panic artists who cannot be trusted to keep their wits about them during a crisis. They proved they will revert to superstition and primitivism when they are afraid. They are openly admitting it this week with all the excuses about how we need to understand the "atmosphere of ear" they were living with in the aftermath of 9/11 and how the panic and hysteria of the moment led to all these "mistakes."

These are supposed to be professionals, people whose jobs it is to stay calm when the public is frightened. They are supposed to have the cool heads and the experience and training to keep it together in these situations. They are not supposed to be running around in circles, unable to figure out the difference between the enemy and some random guy who had a new passport. They were supposed to already know what countless studies dating back decades (centuries!) have shown: that torture doesn't work. They were supposed to be good at this.

How can any American feel secure now knowing that the most powerful military and intelligence services in the world are run by misfits like Michael Hayden? How can we feel safe now that we know the nuclear arsenal is secured by a bunch of cheating careerists?

What we know now is that we have entrusted the security of this country to a group of cruel, inept, bureaucratic whiners who wouldn't know how to find water if they fell out off the side of an aircraft carrier.

I have never felt so unsafe --- and I went through the nuclear fallout drills of the 1960s.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Shut Down Is Preferable

The government-killing repugs in the House got everything they wanted in the Cromnibus.  And given that they did it with 54 votes from scum-sucking DINOs, the chance the "Democratic" Senate can fix it are slim and none.,

Digby:

Dday has an important piece today about the CRomnibus  in which he illustrates just how much of the battle over the vote last night was actually a bit of misdirection. The disputed provisions in the bill (to roll back derivative regulations and campaign finance reform measures) were terrible, of course. But they were the tip of the iceberg:
But there’s so much more to the CRomnibus than just those two riders. Under the bill, trustees would be enabled to cut pension benefits to current retirees, reversing a 40-year bond with workers who earned their retirement packages. Voters in the District of Columbia who approved legalized marijuana will see their initiative vaporized, with local government prohibited from taxing or regulating the drug’s sale. Trucking companies can make roads less safe by giving their employees 82-hour work weeks without sufficient rest breaks. Pell grants for college students will be cut, with the money diverted to private student loan contractors who have actively harmed borrowers. Government financiers of overseas projects will be prevented from stopping funding for coal-fired power plants. Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be allowed to count “quality improvement” measures toward their mandatory health spending under Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” provision, a windfall saving them millions of dollars.

I’m not done. The bill eliminates a bipartisan measure to end “backdoor” searches by the NSA of Americans’ private communications. It blocks the EPA from regulating certain water sources for farmers. It adds an exception to allow the U.S. to continue to fund Egypt’s military leadership. In a giveaway to potato growers, it reduces nutrition standards in school lunches and the Women, Infant and Children food aid program. It halts the listing of new endangered species. It stops the regulation of lead in hunting ammunition or fishing equipment. It limits contributions to the Green Climate Fund to compensate poor countries ravaged by climate change. I could go on. And even if the offending measures on derivatives and campaign finance were removed, all of that dreck would remain.
He goes on to make the important point that this is going to be the new normal. I think that's right. The progressive Democrats will now be free to make losing stand after losing stand --- which is a nice bit of theatre that excites people like me without having to disrupt business as usual --- while the Democratic centrists and the Republicans make "deals" for the benefit of their benefactors and trade off cuts to various benefits and regulations like they were baseball cards.  If any consensus exists in the US Congress it's that we need to protect the most vulnerable among us: rich people.

The Most Horrible Reason of All

My theory is not as despicable as Charlie Pierce fears: I think they kept torturing because they were getting off on it.  The methods are just too similar to BDSM practices for coincidence.

I do not want to believe what I am about to write. I think it's possible that the barbarians in the White House tortured people in order to produce statements they could use to validate further their bullshit case for their bullshit war. Even I don't want to believe that we were ruled for eight years by that species of monster. If that is the case, however, somewhere at the CIA there's a memo, and somewhere there's somebody in a cubicle that knows where the memo is, and who knows the phone number of a reporter. I suspect the Christmas card list at the Cheney household will be lengthy for the next several decades.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Louisville Police Shootings More Deadly This Year

They're holding die-ins at UK and Fayette Mall, and candlelight vigils in Shelbyville.  Southern-mannered Kentucky is officially fed to the teeth with this shit.

Scott Utterback at the Courier:

The 15 rounds the deputies fired at him in that parking lot last March were the first shots in what has become the deadliest year for local police in at least a decade. Law enforcement officers in Louisville have shot and killed five people in 2014 — more than in the last five years combined.

While the total number of police shootings has not drastically increased — officers have fired at suspects seven times this year, compared to an annual average of six — more of those targets have died.

The police report no change in policy, weaponry or training that might account for the sudden shift.

SNIP

The surrounding debate has opened old wounds about race and policing in Louisville, a decade after a string of black men were killed by officers and an infuriated citizenry criticized police as too quick to pull the trigger.

Last month, hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Louisville to march when a Missouri grand jury declined to indict the white officer who shot Brown. Other vigils and demonstrations have taken over courtyards, events and sidewalks across town. For a month, activists have gathered every Monday afternoon outside the police department, accusing the police of brutality and racial profiling.

"No justice, no peace. No racist police," they chant.

Bible Drinking Game

ummagumma.co:


(Source: ramblingboyofpleasure)

And the Slime-Off Begins

Looks like the son of Gov. Steve "Savior of Obamacare" Beshear came up with a twist on the usual owned-by-Big-Coal corruption of his father's generation.

John Cheves at the Herald:

Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, practices "attorney general defense" at Stites & Harbison in Louisville, helping companies that have run afoul of the state's top law-enforcement officer. He's also the only declared candidate for attorney general in 2015.

Although Andrew Beshear wants voters to make him responsible for protecting Kentuckians from civil and criminal offenses, the Democratic candidate won't discuss his legal work or identify any of the clients he has represented before the attorney general.

"Under the Rules of Professional Conduct published by the Kentucky Supreme Court, identifying clients in this situation could constitute a legal ethics violation that could result in sanctions," Andrew Beshear's campaign manager, Jared Smith, wrote in an email to the Herald-Leader last week. Andrew Beshear himself did not return calls seeking comment.
 C'mon, repugs:  I know you've got candidates slimier than this.  Surely you are not going to leave this big juicy target out there untouched.

Effectiveness

ummagumma.co:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Problems

ummagumma.co:


(Source: andlookatthestars, via bookporn)

Pardon the Torturers? Convict Them First

Our current problems started when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before Nixon had been charged with his many crimes, much less convicted.

That put every fascist motherfucker in the repug party on notice that governmental power was a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card.

It's been an out-of-control slide downhill every since, from wiretapping through Iran-Contra (google it, children) all the way to torture.

Pardoning won't stop it.  Pardoning will make it worse

Digby:

President Obama will not do this, I'm sure. It would open the door for some successor to "pardon" him to make a political point. But it's a very potent statement anyway: the only way we can even acknowledge that a crime was committed is to pardon the people who committed it after the statute of limitations has run out.

And I'm afraid I don't see that it would close the Pandora's box of torture. The minute they get the chance the torture advocates will simply make it legal. The taboo has been broken and banking on the law is a losing propositions in these situations. This is now a cultural problem more than a legal problem.

Back in the day the conservatives all used to wring their hands over what was happening in Bill Clinton's pants, asking the plaintive question, "what can we tell the children?" Sex is always a dicey thing to talk about with kids and I'm sure there were some uncomfortable moments around American dinner tables. What else is new?

But what in the hell do you tell your kids about torture? That some people think the "effective way to get to the truth"? That they shouldn't swing the cat around by the tail but in the hands of trained investigators it's ok? This was never a hard question before. Torture was never ok, always wrong, you simply cannot do it ever. That's not true anymore. Leaders in our country, very important people, are now saying that torture is not immoral. We're going backwards.
He concludes:
For the foreseeable future, we will never arrive at a bipartisan consensus that torture is wrong. Support for what they still consider mere "enhanced interrogation" is as much a tribal marker for conservatives as opposition to Obamacare or climate-change denialism. We lost the right on this issue a decade ago, John McCain and his friends excepted. They're not coming back.