Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Abuser Here is Not Education; It's Daddy

Does he really think there's a veterinary school on the planet that will accept a student who thinks biology comes down to goddunit?

No; he doesn't really care about his daughter.  He just wants an excuse for a judge to declare jeebus rulz and science droolz.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of Father Freakazoid finding a repug-appointed judge who will agree with him is dangerously high.


Kenneth Smith's lawsuit says that education officials are violating the Constitution and infringing the civil rights of his daughter by "propagating" the "religion" of evolution, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.

“Their actions during the 2014-2015 school year affects my child’s future directly through the state grading system to enter college and the ability to earn economic security and a good job in her chosen veterinarian medical field of work, by being taught a faith base (evolutionary ideology) that just doesn’t exist and has no math to back it,” the lawsuit reportedly said.


Divine Irony:

↵ Reblogged from hemantmehta

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Kill the Reaganism Poison

There's much more to the conservative freakazoid rot that is undermining the nation, but "Reagan" is an accurate and convenient short-hand

The disease of Reaganism—the disease that said government couldn’t do anything right, that government got in the way, that government was bad and evil—has killed far more Americans than Ebola ever did. That disease directly led to bridge collapses in Minnesota, levee breaches in Louisiana and derailed trains in Pennsylvania.

Reagan officially may have had five children, but he fathered so many bastards in American politics and culture. Reagan’s obliteration of the Fairness Doctrine led to the rise of Rush Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated program, as well as a slew of Limbaugh imitators, while progressive radio voices were pushed to the margins. Reagan created the culture of irrationality and extremism on the right; when you hear Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson spout off, you’re hearing the baby talk of Reagan’s ideological offspring.

“I gave up when they elected Ronald Reagan president,” Steely Dan singer Donald Fagen stated in a 2006 interview. “I’ve never watched political news since then. I figured that if the American public elected Ronald Reagan — if they can be duped on that level — then it’s really not worth paying attention to. Like H.L. Mencken said, ‘No one ever lost any money underestimating the American public.’”

I can certainly understand Fagen’s frustration—and I’ve certainly quoted Mencken myself!—but with the cult of Reaganism having led to the disaster in Pennsylvania, it’s time for a national commitment to reverse course and bring an end to this rotten legacy.
Don Henley only scratched the surface when he called Reagan ”the tired old man that we elected king” in 1989. Reagan was a malevolent figure whose poison still flows through the American bloodstream.

Yet we have the antidote, an antidote that can prevent the body of our democracy from dying. We have the ability to lift the curse of Reaganism, an opportunity to heal the wounds that deranged man inflicted.

We can get big money out of politics. We can fight harder for fairer wages, reproductive choice, sharp reductions in carbon pollution, equal treatment for women, and the restoration of confidence in government’s ability to do good by and for the people. We have it within ourselves to send Reaganism to the dustbin of history.

I certainly understand how people can feel despair about what Reaganism has done to this land. I expressed such despair myself two weeks ago when I predicted that this country would fall to pieces on racial fault lines. Yet there’s still reason to hope, still reason to believe that a better day can come if we fight and work and dream for it.

We can get America back on track. We can get America to move past the selfishness, irrationality and recklessness of Reaganism. We can get America to move once again towards liberty and justice for all.

"My greatest responsibility is the safety of the American people."

No, Mr. President.  Your greatest - your sole - responsibility is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. You know, the one that says nothing about the safety of the American people.  The one that does have something quite specific to say about the right of the American people to be free from government spying.

Let the Patriot Act die. Give us back our Fourth Amendment Constitutional Rights.

Full transcript here.

Your Occasional Bernie

This is how you fight a class war.  This is how you win.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Rich White People Are Evil in So Many Ways

Think about it.  Every single terrible thing that has happened in this country has been perpetrated by rich white people, from slavery and native genocide through 9/11 (yes, bin Laden is the spawn of an obscenely rich white family), the Iraq Catastrophe and the Great Wall Street Economic Fuckery.

Michael Kraus, Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner, social scientists at the University of California, did research that led them to conclude that the poor have more empathy than the rich. The poor, they argued, do not have the ability to dominate their environments. They must build relationships with others to survive. This requires that they be able to read the emotions of those around them and respond. It demands that they look after each other. And this makes them more empathetic. The rich, who can control their environments, do not need to bother with the concerns or emotions of others. They are in charge. What they want gets done. And the longer they live at the center of their own universe, the more callous, insensitive and cruel they become.

The rich white family has an unrivaled aptitude for crime. Members of rich white families run corporations into the ground (think Lehman Brothers), defraud stockholders and investors, sell toxic mortgages as gold-plated investments to pension funds, communities and schools, and then loot the U.S. Treasury when the whole thing implodes. They steal hundreds of millions of dollars on Wall Street through fraud and theft, pay little or no taxes, almost never go to jail, write laws and regulations that legalize their crimes and then are asked to become trustees at elite universities and sit on corporate boards. They set up foundations and are admired as philanthropists. And if they get into legal trouble, they have high-priced lawyers and connections among the political elites to get them out.

You have to hand it to rich white families. They steal with greater finesse than anyone else. If you are a poor black teenager and sprint out of a CVS with a few looted bottles of shampoo, you are likely to be shot in the back or sent to jail for years. If there were an Olympiad for crime, rich white families would sweep up all the medals; blacks would be lucky to come within a mile of the first elimination trial. I don’t know why black people even try to compete in this area. They are, by comparison, utter failures as criminals. The monarchs of crime are rich white people, who wallow in their pilfered wealth while locking away in prisons a huge percentage of poor men of color.

Rich white families are also the most efficient killers on the planet. This has been true for five centuries, starting with the conquest of the Americas and the genocide against Native Americans, and continuing through today’s wars in the Middle East. Rich white families themselves don’t actually kill. They are not about to risk their necks on city streets or in Iraq. They hire people, often poor, to kill for them. Rich white families wanted the petroleum of Iraq and, by waving the flag and spewing patriotic slogans, got a lot of poor kids to join the military and take the oil fields for them. Rich white people wanted endless war for the benefit of their arms industry and got it by calling for a war on terror. Rich white people wanted police to use lethal force against the poor with impunity and to arrest them, swelling U.S. prisons with 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so they set up a system of drug laws and militarized police departments to make it happen.
 Read the whole amazing thing.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Our Useless Cold-War Military

War ain't what it used to be, and neither is our military.  In The Nation, a veteran explains one reason why we can't win anymore.

While the old-fashioned, uniformed military guards its Cold War turf, preserved like some set of monstrous museum exhibits, the mutant military strives with great success to expand its power across the globe. Since 9/11, it's the mutant military that has gotten the lion’s share of the action and much of the adulation—here’s looking at you, SEAL Team 6—along with its ultimate enabler, the civilian commander-in-chief, now acting in essence as America’s assassin-in-chief.

Think of it this way: a quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military is completely uncontained. Washington’s foreign policies are strikingly military-first ones, and nothing seems to be out of bounds. Its two major parts, the Cold War-era “big” military, still very much alive and kicking, and the new-era military of special ops, contractors, and paramilitaries seek to dominate everything. Nuclear, conventional, unconventional, land, sea, air, space, cyber, you name it: all realms must be mastered.

Except it can’t master the one realm that matters most: itself. And it can’t find the one thing that such an uncontained military was supposed to guarantee: victory (not in a single place anywhere on Earth).
Loaded with loot and praised to the rafters, America’s uncontained military has no discipline and no direction. It never has to make truly tough choices, like getting rid of ICBMs or shedding its obscenely bloated top ranks of officers or cancelling redundant weapon systems like the F-35. It just aims to do it all, just about everywhere. As Nick Turse reported recently, U.S. special ops touched down in 150 countries between 2011 and 2014. And the results of all this activity have been remarkably repetitive and should by now be tragically predictable: lots of chaos spread, lots of casualties inflicted, and in every case, mission unaccomplished.

The Future Isn't What It Used to Be

Say what you will of the Cold War, at least it had an end. The overriding danger of the current American military moment is that it may lack one.

Once upon a time, the U.S. military was more or less tied to continental defense and limited by strong rivals in its hegemonic designs. No longer. Today, it has uncontained ambitions across the globe and even as it continually stumbles in achieving them, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, or elsewhere, its growth is assured, as our leaders trip over one another in continuing to shower it with staggering sums of money and unconditional love.

No military should ever be trusted and no military should ever be left uncontained. Our nation’s founders knew this lesson. Five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower took pains in his farewell address in 1961 to remind us of it again. How did we as a people come to forget it? WTF, America?
What I do know is this: Take an uncontained, mutating military, sprinkle it with unconditional love and plenty of dough, and you have a recipe for disaster. So excuse me for being more than a little nervous about what we’ll all find when America flips the calendar by another quarter-century to the year 2040.

KY Fighting "Clean Power" Regs It Already Meets

How stupid is Kentucky about coal?  Not only hasn't Kentucky noticed that Big Coal died about 20 years ago and its rotting corpse has been stinking up the place ever since, but Kentucky is wasting time and tax dollars fighting EPA clean power regulations that the Commonwealth already meets because that's how dead coal is.

And this is the headline of the day:  "Kentucky May Accidentally Comply With EPA's Clean Power Plan"

Kentucky has consistently opposed federal efforts to impose environmental rules on the state's power plants.  First, lawmakers passed a bill to exempt the state from submitting a plan to meet the proposed air regulations that work against coal. Then it sued the Environmental Protection Agency over the rule.

Now, the state may go from defiance to compliance––without meaning to.

Cheap natural gas is flooding the market as environmental regulations take effect and because upgrading aging plants is cost-prohibitive, coal-fired power plants across Kentucky are shutting down, as they are across the country. In Kentucky alone, more than a quarter of the coal-fired plants have already shut down, or are expected to in the next two years.

Last year, the Obama administration released the draft version of the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and sets emission targets for each state. Kentucky is supposed to reduce emissions 15 percent by 2020––and a total of 18 percent by 2030––from 2012 levels. It's also required to submit a plan showing how it will reach those goals.

With the announced retirements alone, Kentucky will reach the EPA's goal, energy analysts and state officials believe.

"Kentucky could be well in compliance with the targets" provided the state replaced the coal power with clean energy sources, said Amlan Saha, a vice president at M.J. Bradley and Associates, an environmental consulting group. "That’s not the case with many other states."

Coal is a vital part of Kentucky's culture. Despite flagging production numbers and new lows in coal jobs, the attachment to coal runs deep, and the industry continues to maintain a hold over the state’s politics.

Natural gas, of course, is not only not remotely close to "clean," but considering the effect of leaked methane on exacerbating global warming, fracked natural gas may be even worse than coal.

Shame on EPA for counting natural gas as "clean" energy.  If EPA counted only genuinely renewable energy as clean, Kentucky would be further from meeting clean power standards than it ever has been.

You Don't Deserve President Sanders, America, But You Do Need Him

Or as Wonkette Commenter LizzeTish put it: "Now I have to go change my panties."


Rejoice, Liberal-Americansians, for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist and proud of it!) officially declared on Tuesday that he is running to be president of U.S. America. Awwwwww yeah! And lest you think Sanders is just some silly vanity candidate — like, for example, every single Republican in the race or pretending to maybe be planning to get into the race to boost ratings or sell books — nope, he is dead serious about this, and he’s already raised millions of dollars since announcing in April that he is seeking the Democratic nomination. 
“We begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially, and environmentally. Today we stand here and say loudly and clearly, Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires.
On his website, Sanders describes his three main campaign issues, and none of them are about whether he’d go to a gay wedding or which countries he will bomb to smithereens. Nah, he is all about income inequality, breaking up the big banks, and saving the environment from the “planetary crisis” that is climate change.

“American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and buy elections,” he said during his speech. He reminded his audience that the Koch brothers intend to spend more on the election than the Democratic or Republican parties and that, Sanders said, “is not democracy, that is oligarchy.”

As for climate change? Duh:
The debate is over. The scientific community has spoken in a virtuously unanimous voice. Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating problems in our country and around the world.
He called for a massive federal jobs program, a huge investment in infrastructure, equal pay for women, expanding Social Security benefits, and universal single-payer healthcare. And of course Sanders has already been speaking about his plan to tax the bejesus out of Wall Street so everyone can get a college education for free.

You want more? There is more. He will also play nice with the other countries, to defeat terrorism through diplomacy instead of doing war to everyone all the time. And, he reminded his audience (cough cough), he voted against the Iraq War because he knew at the time that it was bad and wrong, AHEM.

You can read all of his words, which will make you liberals liberal-swoon and then swoon some more. Sanders is hitting the road and heading to the early primary states, just like any other presidential candidate, but without ginormous corporate super PAC sponsorship, and he is going to have a civilized debate with the other Democratic candidates, like a grown-up, what a novel idea!
In conclusion, vote Bernie Sanders, for socialized healthcare, killing the banks with fire, making the government give everyone free stuff, saving the middle class and the planet, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in every freezer.
Excuse me, I choked up there for a minute.  I'm an Oldz, and I have not heard a liberal platform like that from a Democratic candidate in my lifetime - no, not from Jack Kennedy and not even from Bobby Kennedy. Jesse Jackson came close.

Bernie is the candidate we thought Barack Obama was.  Bernie is the candidate my parents grew up worshipping FDR for being.  Only better.

But most importantly, Bernie Sanders running a real, serious campaign for president means that the mainstream media has to actually cover actual liberal policy positions.  You know, the ones actual majorities of actual Americans have held for DECADES.

And no, Wonkette Commenter GayerThanThou, Martin O'Malley is NOT more fap-worthy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reversing Extremism

What appears to be a final conservatard/freakazoid victory is inevitable only if we let it happen without a fight.

Those of you who read my book on the 2014 midterms might find this argument from the esteemed political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson kind of familiar:


They conclude with this sobering thought, which like most of their analysis I would emphatically endorse:
We are under no illusion about how easily or quickly our lopsided politics can be righted. But put yourself in the shoes of an early 1970s conservative and ask how likely the great right migration seemed then, when Richard Nixon was proposing a guaranteed income and national health insurance and backing environmental regulations and the largest expansion of Social Security in its history. Reversals of powerfully rooted trends that threaten our democracy take time, effort, and persistence. Yet above all they require a clear recognition of what has gone wrong.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

See the Movie: How a Small Group of Determined Kentuckians Defied Big Fracking and Won

This Saturday at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.  Email for reservations.  It's a true story, a Kentucky story, a story to infuriate and inspire for all the battles to come.

Greg Kocher at the Herald:

Filmmaker Sellus Wilder hopes audiences will take to heart the message of his new documentary about citizen opposition to the Bluegrass Pipeline in 2013-14.
"Grassroots movements can win fights against multi-billion-dollar corporations," Wilder said. "The people can win the seemingly unwinnable fight."

The 90-minute film, The End of the Line, premieres Saturday at an invitation-only screening at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.

Through interviews and footage from public meetings, the movie tells how ordinary people protested plans to build a natural gas liquids pipeline through 13 Kentucky counties. Eventually, in April 2014, the two companies that partnered to build the line halted the project because they didn't have the necessary customer commitments to move forward.

But Wilder and others believe organized opposition and a key court decision on the taking of private property played a decisive role in scuttling the project.

Pipeline representatives were "really caught off guard by the level of resistance they encountered across the state," he said.

Read more here:

Not to mention failing to notice that right smack in the middle of the pipeline's path was a community of nuns, with whom you must never, ever mess.  Because they always win. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

It's Decoration Day: Be Solemn and Respectful

From TPM:

Yet Memorial Day’s original meanings and narratives are significantly different from, and would add a great deal of complexity and power to, how we see them nowadays. The holiday was first known as Decoration Day, and (per thorough histories by scholars like David Blight) was originated in 1865 by a group of freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. The slaves visited a cemetery for Union soldiers on May 1st of that year and decorated their graves, a quiet but very sincere tribute to what those soldiers have given and what it had meant to the lives of these freedmen and women.


Yet despite this telling national shift, former slaves continued to honor the holiday in their own way, as evidenced by a powerful scene from Constance Fenimore Woolson’s local color short story, “Rodman the Keeper” (1880). Woolson’s protagonist, himself a Union veteran living in the South, observes a group of ex-slaves leaving their decorations on the graves of the Union dead at the cemetery where he works as a caretaker.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Behind the Trappings

Imputing a lack of "morality" to atheists is bigotry as vile as imputing a lack of "intelligence" to non-whites.

PZ Myers:

You know, you don’t have to believe in gods and ghosts to find meaning, values, tradition, consolation, community, and transcendence, right? No one is objecting to community or values. We’re objecting to the dishonesty of using community and values as excuses to prop up irrelevant falsehoods. The real problem isn’t that most atheists are ignoring the assorted useful cultural baggage that religion claims to own, but that religion is such an emotional issue that its proponents refuse to distinguish the important core of human values from the gaudy supernatural dressings that faith drapes over them.
As science fiction master Arthur C. Clarke put it: "The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Get the New Blue Courage Training for Kentucky Cops Now

Before another unarmed kid, mentally ill homeless person or slow-to-respond citizen gets murdered by a militarized cop.


The friendlier attitude reflects a campaign underway here and elsewhere around the U.S. to "demilitarize" the police and produce officers who think of themselves as guardians of their communities, not members of an occupying force.


That includes getting cops to use their wits rather than their weapons whenever possible, as well as instilling a strong moral compass. Supporters say the approach could reduce cynicism, corruption and maybe even suicides among officers.


For the past few years, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, which trains the state's local police and sheriff's deputies, has emphasized such skills.

The state academy relies heavily on a curriculum called "Blue Courage," developed by a former Aurora, Illinois, police commander with support from the U.S. Justice Department. It was first used in 2013 at Arizona's largest police academy, after local chiefs listened to a presentation.

"It struck a chord," said Lyle Mann, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. "There was this feeling that the militarization, the focus on officer safety, this whole confrontational kind of thing was morphing in a way that didn't feel good to those progressive chiefs."

The Justice Department has spent $1.5 million so far on Blue Courage, and it has been introduced at the New York City and Baltimore County police departments, as well as academies in Nebraska and Arizona.
 Kentucky's State Police Academy at Richmond considers itself the premier training facility in the nation. But it's not, and won't be until it incorporates Blue Courage.

The Great Scam That Is "Whiteness"

It's not just that there is no such thing as biological "race," it's that whiteness is the justification for history's greatest crimes against humanity.

Chauncey De Vega at We Are Respectable Negroes explains:

The idea of "whiteness" as a strict racial category superior to others is an invention of Europeans, who needed to legitimate and normalize a system of white on black chattel slavery, global empire, and colonialism as being preordained by nature and God.
Yet the “common sense” belief that the racial ideology known as Whiteness has always existed is one of the greatest tricks in human history.

In all, Whiteness is a new invention. The ways in which it has been naturalized signals to its powerful role in an American society that was built upon a foundation of white supremacy, and that continues to maintain institutionalized systems of white advantage over people of color in the 21st century.

Of course, all white people do not benefit in the same way from the racial ideology known as Whiteness: class, gender, sexual orientation hugely impact their lives, among many other identities.

However, as a group, all white people benefit from Whiteness relative to non-whites.
And of course the mooching rich use the whiteness scam to suppress and con non-rich whites by pitting them against non-whites.

The enemy is the rich. Nothing changes until they lose the class war.

Read the whole thing.

"Around the world, our men and women in uniform continue to serve and risk their lives. "

And shame on you for that, Mr. President.  End the Permanent War. Make this the last Memorial Day we have to remember new casualties.

Full transcript here.

kynect Is Doomed No Matter Which Repug Becomes Governor

Really, NPR?  You think Comer or Heiner were going to save Kentucky Obamacare? Fuck, if the state House goes repug in 2016, not even the president's BFF Steve Beshear could save kynect from the repug armageddon.
More than 500,000 people have gotten health insurance in Kentucky through the state's health care exchange Kynect and through expanded Medicaid. Kentucky has seen the second-steepest drop in uninsured of any state.

Supporters of the health care law point to it as one of the success stories, but the man who very well could become the state's next governor is vowing to "dismantle" Kynect and cancel the Medicaid expansion.

"We will have a very spirited discussion as it relates to health care in our state. Trust me on that," vowed Republican Matt Bevin, the surprising apparent winner of the contentious GOP gubernatorial primary. The Tea Party-backed Bevin finished just 83 votes ahead of James Comer, the state's agriculture commissioner, out of more than 200,000 votes.


In Kentucky, the governor has the power to unilaterally create or disband programs like Kynect, Cross said. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear chose to both set up a state exchange and expand Medicare. But he is term-limited.

Bevin, a venture capitalist who lost badly in a Senate primary last year to Mitch McConnell, would face off with Democrat Jack Conway. Conway, the state attorney general, starts as a slight favorite, but Kentucky is a conservative state, and Conway struggled in his 2010 Senate bid against Republican Rand Paul.
Bevin made getting rid of Kynect and the Medicaid expansion central to his campaign. He is also vowing to implement right-to-work laws and shrink government, in part, through attrition of public-sector workers.


But now it will be Bevin's policies that come under sharper scrutiny. He argues the state cannot afford the Medicaid expansion, which was the biggest reason for the drop in the uninsured. Federal funds currently pay for it, but that money will eventually go away.

"The fact that we have one out of four people in this state on Medicaid is unsustainable; it's unaffordable," Bevin said during the campaign, "and we need to create jobs in this state, not more government programs to cover people."

But Medicaid expansion is different than Kynect, which has been held up as one of the best-functioning state exchanges in the country.

"He won't get away with it," Cross maintained of Bevin's promise to get rid of Kynect. "He'll have to get serious about it at some point and stop conflating Kynect and the Medicaid expansion."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kentucky Landowners Deal MotherFrackers a Setback

Do you like your backyard?  Do you prefer it not have a giant, ready-to-explode high-pressure pipeline full of toxic waste running through it? Then thank Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain (KURED), who just won a victory over the Bluegrass Pipeline terrorists.

Today, the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the Franklin Circuit Court ruling from last year that purveyors of fracking waste, oil, gas or anything else that is not a public utility cannot use eminent domain to force their way onto your land.

Renowned environmental attorney Tom Fitzgerald, representing KURED and Franklin County landowner Penny Greathouse, sued to stop the Bluegrass Pipeline from using the threat of eminent domain to terrify landowners from Pendleton County to Marion County into signing over their land for a toxic-waste pipeline.

Although the initial ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd applied only to Franklin County, today's Court of Appeals decision applies throughout the Commonwealth.

That means that Kinder Morgan, which is trying to get federal approval to re-purpose a pipeline through east-central Kentucky to carry fracking waste, also cannot use eminent domain powers to force easements from landowners.

Bluegrass Partners, whose Bluegrass Pipeline project has been suspended for the last year, may still appeal to the state Supreme Court.

But meanwhile, this is a victory for genuine grassroots organizing and determination.  KURED members are not out-of-state groups or politicians or celebrities; they are the people whose land Bluegrass Partners threaten: retired people, farmers, women religious, young couples who started asking their neighbors about these strangers with the lying faces and the papers to sign.  They got together, educated themselves, found landowners threatened in other counties, stood together and shouted NO!

And won.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No, the First Amendment Doesn't Stop Me From Telling You to Shut the Fuck Up

The First Amendment right of free speech refers only to government action.  The government - state, local or federal - cannot stop or punish you from saying any idiotic thing you want, including hateful, racist tirades.

But I can.

As a private citizen, I can call you out for being a hateful, racist piece of shit.  If you are a motherfucking liar, I can call you out for lying about fucking your mother. I can match or exceed you scream for scream, insult for insult, obscenity for obscenity, and neither one of us can cite the First Amendment against the other.
But there's a Faux News pay bonus for being extra-egregious Whiny-Ass Titty Babies.

Fox News pseudo-Democrat Kirsten Powers has a tendentious new book out> It's called The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech.
Lifelong liberal Kirsten Powers blasts the Left's forced march towards conformity in an exposé of the illiberal war on free speech. No longer champions of tolerance and free speech, the "illiberal Left" now viciously attacks and silences anyone with alternative points of view. Powers asks, "What ever happened to free speech in America?"
In it, she alleges free-speech violations that aren't violations at all:


Palin's argument was: If you say bad things about my speech, you're suppressing it. Grenell, on behalf of Powers, is taking that a step further -- he's saying, If you report basic biographical information about Powers that fleshes out the selective biography she's chosen to put forward, you're suppressing all the speech to which she's attached that biography.

For the record, despite the fascistic tweets of Willis, just this week Powers has either published articles or been written about in the following publications: the Daily Beast, National Review, Christianity Today, Breitbart, the Frisky, Real Clear Politics, the Washington Examiner, The Washington Times...

But she's being silenced. Right. Got it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bernie's Voting Guide for the Rich

How the "Home School" Scam Lets KY Kids Drop Out

Kentucky has zero standards, zero requirements, zero regulations of any kind on "home schools." 

Wanna keep your kids at home to work in the fields so they never learn to read or write? Kentucky is fine with that.

Wanna make sure all your kids ever know is Leviticus and supply-side jeebus? Kentucky is fine with that.

Wanna prevent your local gubmint skools from earning the funding they need to educate children by keeping your own at home?  Kentucky is fine with that.
Read between the lines and it's obvious school officials know that kids and parents are lying about dropouts being "home schooled."  But either out of their own freakazoid ignorance and stupidity or out of fear of the freakazoids' power to destroy school officials' careers and lives, they are going to just take parents' word that "home schooling" is going on in homes that lack a single book, much less instructional materials.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said in February that the state was going to start tracking high school students who withdraw to attend home school to make sure they aren't just dropping out.

As of May 18, the number of students who withdrew from public schools to be home-schooled in 2014-15 was 5,129, said Nancy Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the state education department.

Holliday said he had heard a complaint that some school officials, in an effort to keep dropout numbers low, were encouraging students to withdraw and say they were in home school when, in actuality, no home school existed.

To determine if the concerns are valid, he said, a new annual report will monitor the number of high school students who withdraw each year to attend home school.

Holliday said in an interview that he had no problem with parents who think home-schooling is appropriate for their children.

But he said in February that districts with an increase in numbers might need additional support with alternative programs, student support programs, and career and technical education.
Bullshit. Without state laws and regulations forcing "home schools" to use professional instructional materials and home-school "graduates" to pass strict testing before getting a diploma, all the "support programs" in the world are useless.

Kentucky does have one requirement regarding graduates of "home schools" and xian madrassas: state universities must accept them without question.

Not to worry though; they all flunk out first semester.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No, Sam: The Winner of Today's Repug Primary is NOT Jack Conway; He's the Loser

C'mon, Sam.  You've been in Kentucky long enough now to know that repug voters are never fractured, dismayed, discouraged or dissuaded from voting in the general election.  It doesn't matter which piece of shit "wins" the repug primary, because repug voters never vote for the repug nominee in November. They vote against the evulmuslincommieterrist running as the Democratic nominee.

That's what they live for: defeating Democratic candidates.  Nothing - not even the repug nomination of a likely abortionist, because driving your girlfriend to the clinic is the exact same thing - will stop them from turning out in droves to defeat Jack Conway and put a repug - any repug - in the Governor's mansion.

Comer will likely lose the primary today because of the abortion allegations, but if he wins somehow, every single anti-abortion freakazoid who voted for a different repug will be in line at 6 a.m. Nov. 3 to make sure the Democratic candidate goes down to ignominious defeat.

And then they will immediately start working on defeating every Democratic candidate in the state House in November 2016, so that the new consolidated repug regime in Frankfort can get down to the essential, buybull-mandated job of turning Kentucky into Somalia, just like Kansas repugs have done to their state.

The sun will come up Wednesday morning, and it will dawn on a fractured state Republican Party.
Going into Tuesday's primary, it is all but impossible to tell which Republican will emerge victorious.
But it's easy to see that the winner of the primary is Conway.


They are divisions that have been around in some cases for 20 years, but now they are deeper, far more entrenched and a good reason for Kentucky Democrats to smile for the first time since before last November.

There are always concerns that a contentious primary might leave a party divided in the fall, but this primary has taken an unusually dark turn, and those fears are unusually well-founded.

To be sure, there is still hand-wringing within the Democratic Party. It's what they do, and it is appropriate given the state's increasingly conservative electorate.

There are concerns, born of Alison Lundergan Grimes' disastrous U.S. Senate race, that Conway did not do enough — or really anything — to define himself in the minds of voters this spring as the Republicans ripped one another to shreds.

This Isn't Public Safety; This Is Stealing From the Poor to Engorge Rich Corporations

We've all forgotten our Willie Sutton: You tax the fuck out of the rich for the same reason Willie robbed banks: because that's where the money is.

Stealing from the poor just impoverishes the rest of us.

Think Progress:

With federal action expected this summer to regulate the cost of prison phone calls, the National Sheriffs’ Association announced they may “significantly limit or eliminate altogether” the right of prisoners to make those calls.

Incarcerated people and their families — who are disproportionately low-income — have fought for decades against the often exorbitant rates charged for a phone call home by companies that hold exclusive contracts and provide kickbacks to the jails themselves.

In 2013, they appeared to win a major victory when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed an interim rule to cap the cost of calls between states at 25 cents per minute — meaning 15-minute calls that used to be as high as $17 could no longer cost more than $3.25. In announcing the change, the FCC said the current fee structure is “unjust and unreasonable.”

But this reform has sparked a revolt from those who benefited financially from the old system: the prison phone industry that makes more than a billion a year in profits, and the state and county governments that get “commissions” from those calls that they use to pad their budget. In some states, commissions make up as much as 94 percent of the cost of the call, funneling millions of dollars to cash-strapped local jurisdictions.

Deborah Golden, an attorney with the DC Prisoners’ Rights Project, told ThinkProgress she views these commissions as “another tax on poor people and people of color.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

These Marines Did Not Die in Vain

Because they weren't killing brown people or otherwise furthering U.S. imperialism.
The wreckage of a U.S. military helicopter lost on an earthquake relief mission in Nepal was found on Friday high on a mountainside, with all eight on board presumed dead, U.S. officials said.

A U.S. search team identified the wreckage as that of the missing Marines UH-1Y Huey helicopter deployed after the Himalayan state was hit by a massive earthquake last month that killed more than 8,000 people.


The Huey went missing while it was distributing aid on Tuesday, the day a strong aftershock hit Nepal and killed more than 100 people.

Six Marines and two Nepali soldiers were on board when it went missing, after the crew was heard over the radio saying the aircraft was experiencing a fuel problem.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter mourned the loss of the Marines, and a Pentagon spokesman said U.S. officials were in touch with the families.

"This tragedy is a reminder of the vital but dangerous role that American servicemembers play in delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," Carter said in a statement.

U.S. officials said the crash would not affect ongoing relief operations.

"We will continue to stand by Nepal as long as they need our help," Wissler told reporters.
That's the America people around the world love.  That's the America we should be all the time.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Never Trust

Divine Irony:

No, Your Freakazoid Lies Are Not Education

Now we need the same ruling on teaching creationism as science, supply-side jeebus as economics and "original intent" as history.

In a decision that’s being hailed as “historic,” a judge in California has ruled that health classes focusing exclusively on telling students to remain abstinent until marriage fall short of the state’s comprehensive sex ed requirements.

In his opinion, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black concludes that, given the high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy in the U.S., medically accurate sexual health information is “an important public right.”

Black’s decision narrowly applies to about 40,000 students who attend the Clovis Unified School District. However, since his opinion represents the first-ever ruling on California’s decade-old sex education standards, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — whose legal counsel represented the plaintiffs in the suit — believes it sets an important precedent for the rest of the state.

“This is the first time that abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula have been found to be medically inaccurate,” Phyllida Burlingame, the director of reproductive justice policy at the ACLU, told the San Francisco Chronicle. She added that the ruling should send a strong message to other schools that “young people need complete, accurate health information required by law.”


Plaintiffs alleged that the district was showing students abstinence-focused videos that contained “egregiously inaccurate and biased information,” like comparing a woman who has engaged in sex to a dirty shoe, and suggesting that men are physically unable to stop themselves once they become sexually aroused. One video, entitled Never Regret The Choice, suggested that homosexuality doesn’t exist by encouraging students to adopt the mantra, “One man, one woman, one life.”

The suit was dropped in 2014 after Clovis Unified School District changed its sex ed policies to bring them more in line with California law. Black, however, ruled that the district is still responsible for paying the parents’ legal fees, since their lawsuit prompted the policy changes.

California is hardly the only state where students receive biased health information that focuses solely on abstinence. There aren’t any national requirements for comprehensive sex ed instruction in public schools, which allows 19 states to continue to require health materials to emphasize the importance of engaging in sexual activity only within marriage. In addition to failing to include information about birth control and condoms, abstinence-only programs typically tell kids that having sex will make them dirty — comparing people who have had sex to chewed up gum, used tape, dirty chocolate, and glasses of spit.

Even though a significant body of scientific research has confirmed that abstinence-only curricula are ineffective at convincing students to delay sex, and don’t prepare them to safeguard their sexual health, these programs continue to be propped up with state and federal funding. Just last month, Congress quietly appropriated $25 million in additional funding for the very same type of abstinence education programs that Black ruled violate the public right to medically accurate sex ed.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Kentucky Sheriff Shows Why We Must Fire All White Cops Now

Seriously, Bardstown?  You with the cutesy-fuck historical downtown and the 100-Best-Small-Towns award and the distilleries in a county that barred alcoholic beverage sales until 2014?

Congratulations.  You're now famous for having a sheriff who's not just racist, but criminally stupid.


Sheriff Ed Mattingly’s comments were made during a press conference on Monday, video of which was posted to YouTube by the Nelson County Gazette.

“We are glad that he is white, and we shouldn’t have to be worried about that,” Mattingly said. “We do not want any backlash or violence in this community because people have been misinformed.”

“The media has not done a very good job of informing the public, and the public is not educated on how the system actually works,” he continued. “We don’t want those type of troubles in our community.”
Embarrassing. I wonder how Nelson County's non-white residents - including the many undocumented farm workers - would characterize "troubles in our community."

It's Economic Violence That's Killing Our Cities

There's not a rich person or corporation in this country that didn't get that way by cheating and stealing from the poor. That doing so also keeps the blahs down is just a bonus.


Charles Warren details in The Atlantic how Ferguson, Missouri spent years using its police as a taxation force, harassing the (mostly black) citizenry to raise money to run the local government despite Ferguson being the home of a $24 billion Fortune 500 corporation.
Take a walk along West Florissant Avenue, in Ferguson, Missouri. Head south of the burned-out Quik Trip and the famous McDonalds, south of the intersection with Chambers, south almost to the city limit, to the corner of Ferguson Avenue and West Florissant. There, last August, Emerson Electric announced third-quarter sales of $6.3 billion. Just over half a mile to the northeast, four days later, Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. The 12 shots fired by Officer Wilson were probably audible in the company lunchroom. 
Outwardly, at least, the City of Ferguson would appear to occupy an enviable position. It is home to a Fortune 500 firm. It has successfully revitalized a commercial corridor through its downtown. It hosts an office park filled with corporate tenants. Its coffers should be overflowing with tax dollars. 
Instead, the cash-starved municipality relies on its cops and its courts to extract millions in fines and fees from its poorest residents, issuing thousands of citations each year. Those tickets plug a financial hole created by the ways in which the city, the county, and the state have chosen to apportion the costs of public services. A century or more of public-policy choices protect the wallets of largely white business and property owners and pass the bills along to disproportionately black renters and local residents. It's easy to see the drama of a fatal police shooting, but harder to understand the complexities of municipal finances that created many thousands of hostile encounters, one of which turned fatal.

The familiar convention of the true-crime story turns out to be utterly inadequate for describing the social, economic, and legal subjection of black people in Ferguson, or anywhere in America. Understanding this requires looking beyond the 90-second drama to the 90 years of entrenched white supremacy and black disadvantage that preceded it.
The key to Ferguson's plight is nothing less than decades of a regressive "race to the bottom" taxation system designed exclusively to benefit white property owners and businesses at the expense of black tenants and renters.
Like most of the rest of St. Louis Country, mid-century Ferguson was defended by exclusionary zoning codes and whites-only collusion in the real estate market. In the 1960s Ferguson was known as a “sun-down” community: African Americans, mostly from neighboring Kinloch, came in to work in the houses of wealthy whites in Ferguson during the day, but were expected to be out of town by the time the sun set. To this day, the adjacent cities are joined by only two through streets, the Ferguson city line runs down a neutral zone lined on either side with mirror-image three-way intersections. If you have been to St. Louis, you likely landed in Kinloch. Over the last three decades, the vast majority of that city’s black residents have been displaced to accommodate the expansion of Lambert-St. Louis Airport. Over the same period of time, a small number of African American homeowners and a much larger number of African American renters have gradually replaced whites in Ferguson. Ferguson, which was almost entirely white in 1970, today has a black majority. 
In 1981, a federal judge in Missouri declared that the “severe” residential segregation of the St. Louis metropolitan area had produced a constitutionally impermissible degree of segregation in the region’s schools. The court tasked the East-West Gateway Government Council and the Missouri Housing Development Commission with developing a plan to desegregate the metropolitan area, but they simply ignored the ruling. At the turn of the 21st century, almost one-half of St. Louis County’s 90-odd municipalities had black populations under 5 percent.
And that brings us to Emerson Electric.
For tax purposes, Emerson’s Ferguson campus is appraised according to its “fair market value.” That means a $50 million dollar solar-powered data center is only worth what another firm would be willing to pay for it. “Our location in Ferguson affects the fair market value of the entire campus,” Polzin explained. By this reasoning, the condition of West Florissant Avenue explains the low valuation of the company’s headquarters. 
In fact, the opposite is true: The rock-bottom assessment value of the Ferguson campus helps ensure that West Florissant Avenue remains in its current condition, year after year. It severely limits the tax money Emerson contributes to the Ferguson-Florissant district’s struggling schools (Michael Brown graduated from nearby Normandy High School, a nearly 100 percent African American school that has been operating without state accreditation for the last two years), and to the government of St. Louis County more generally. On the 25 parcels Emerson owns all around St. Louis County, it pays the county $1.3m in property taxes. Ferguson itself receives far less. Even after a 2013 property tax increase (from $0.65 to the state-maximum $1 per $100 of assessed value), Ferguson received an estimated $68,000 in property taxes from the corporate headquarters that occupies 152 acres of its tax base—not even enough to pay the municipal judge and his clerk to hand out the fines and sign the arrest warrants. 
St. Louis County doesn’t just assess Emerson a low market value. It then divides that number in three—so its final property value, for tax purposes, ends up being one third of its already low appraised value. In some states, Ferguson would be able to offset this write-down by raising its own percentage tax rate. Voters would even be able to decide which services needed the most help and raise property taxes for specific reasons. But Missouri sets a limit for such levies: $1 per $100 of property. As Joseph Pulitzer wrote of St. Louis during the first Gilded Age, “millions and millions of property in this city escape all taxation."
A $24 billion company generates just $68,000 in taxes for the city in which it resides.  One percent of assessed value.  Put the $50 billion data center in a place like Ferguson and it becomes nearly worthless to tax.

America is broken.

"We have to do everything in our power to make this country’s promise real for everyone willing to work for it."

Because for the past 40 years, Mr.President, this country's promise has been real only for the mooching rich and criminal corporations.  And your pet Trans-Pacific partnership will only make that foundation of inequality a thousand times worse.

Full transcript here.

AynRandy is a "disgusting piece of work"

You could come to that conclusion about the Tribble-Toupeed One from any number of directions, but this time Digby nails him for abandoning simple human decency.

Oh this is clever. Rand Paul isn't trusted by the GOP base because of his alleged (and I do mean alleged) isolationism. But he's one of them. And he can prove it:
While speaking with Iowa-based radio host Jan Mickelson yesterday, Paul criticized efforts by the U.S. and the United Nations to settle Iraqi refugees in the country.

That goes straight to the diseased moral center of the right wing. Sure, these Iraqis may have helped the US when it illegally invaded their country and turned themselves into pariahs among their own people but fuck 'em. They're Mooslims, amirite?  And anyway, we always knew all that stuff about Saddam and the rape rooms and "let freedom reign" was a pile of crapola, right? We never gave a damn about any of those people. Let 'em rot over there.

If you didn't know that Rand Paul was a disgusting piece of work before, it's surely clear by now.

Friday, May 15, 2015


But the truth is painful and clear: Iraq wasn't a good faith mistake. It was a calamity based on lies and willful deceptions. Much of that was clear at the time. It's all clear now.

Ten Percent Turnout is a Crime, Alison: Fix It.

This is not a voter fraud problem; this is a voter apathy problem.
One of every 10 registered voters in Kentucky is expected to vote in Tuesday's primary elections.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says the low turnout forecast is based on about 5,100 absentee votes cast and results from previous elections.
And it's going to keep getting worse until we make voting easy for everybody.

Vermont is about to become the latest state to advance voting rights after the State House passed a bill to permit citizens to register on Election Day.
The House voted this week by an 87-54 margin to allow Election Day Registration. The Senate already approved S. 29 a month ago, so the bill will now head to Gov. Peter Shumlin’s (D) desk. According to an email from Shumlin’s spokesman Scott Coriell to the Burlington Free Press, the governor is “supportive of the bill,” likely clearing the way for EDR to become law.

Following Shumlin’s signature, Vermont would become the 13th state (plus Washington D.C.) to enact EDR, including neighbors Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

Studies have shown significant benefits from allowing citizens to register to vote up through Election Day, rather than imposing an arbitrary deadline well beforehand. Academics found that eliminating registration deadlines improved overall turnout rates anywhere between seven and fourteen percentage points.

This boost would be particularly welcome in Vermont, where voter turnout in 2014 ranked in the bottom half nationally, even with a hotly contested gubernatorial election. Indeed, turnout was the rationale given by the bill’s main sponsor, Progressive Democrat Sen. Anthony Pollina. “Anything we can do to increase voter turnout, we should do,” Pollina said, according to the Free Press. “Frankly, there is no reason not to do it. There is no downside.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fake Libertarian Massie's Got His Hand Up Your Vagina Just Like All the Other Freakazoids

Northern Kentucky repug congress critter Thomas Massie loves to flash his teabagger, faux-libertarian creds: He has a solar-powered-house!  That runs his electric car!  He's hip and with-it!

Unless you're poor, black, gay, muslim ... or female.

Yeah, sure those culture wars are definitely over:
The House on Wednesday voted to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, approving a revised version of a bill that Republican leaders abruptly pulled in January amid objections from some of their own members.

The measure passed in a 242-to-184 vote, with one member voting present. The bill dropped a provision in the original version that would have required women who became pregnant through rape to report their assault to law enforcement authorities to be eligible for an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Under the new bill, such women would have to receive counseling or medical treatment at least 48 hours before having an abortion. In cases involving minors, abortion providers would have to alert the authorities for the girls’ protection. The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would also make it easier to sue a noncompliant abortion provider.

“No matter how it is shouted down, or what distortions, deceptive what-ifs, distractions, diversions, gotchas, twisting of words, changing the subject or blatant falsehoods the abortion industry hurls at this bill and its supporters,” said Representative Trent Franks, the Arizona Republican who introduced the measure, “this bill is a deeply sincere effort, beginning at their sixth month of pregnancy, to protect both mothers and their pain-capable unborn babies from the atrocity of late-term abortion on demand.”
Thank you daddy for protecting women from themselves.

Meanwhile, with their hands firmly implanted in women's vaginas, they went on to denounce big government and federal interference in their wallets.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Responsible KY 2-year-old gun wielder shoots mother

Again, there is no such thing as a gun "accident." A shooting may not be premeditated, but any gun discharge is the result of deliberate actions by the owner of the gun, in this case leaving it loaded with the safety off in the reach of a child.

Child endangerment is the least of it. How about felony charges for leaving a loaded gun anywhere, anytime, beyond the immediate possession of its owner?  How about requiring all firearms to have true "safeties" that disable them when not in the owner's possession? How about showing some fucking sense?
Police say a woman is expected to be OK after she was accidentally shot by her 2-year-old son Saturday night.

The shooting was reported on Sunset Court, off New La Grange Road, around 9:30 p.m. The child was not hurt, according to police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley.

Three people were in the residence at the time, Smiley said. The mother, believed to be in her 30s, was taken to the hospital with injuries that are not expected to be life-threatening.
It is not clear how the child managed to get to the gun. Police are still investigating the incident.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Big Coal Stealing Even More of Your Money

It's really easier to just remember that all fossil fuel companies are evil motherfuckers, all corporations are blatant thieves, and all the rich are parasites.
A seemingly low-profile proposal from a little-known natural resources agency in the Department of the Interior (DOI) has attracted a record-breaking 210,000 public comments from taxpayers, who argue that they are not receiving a fair share of revenues from the mining of coal on U.S. public lands.

The public outcry came in response to a proposed rule from DOI’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue that aims to close a regulatory loophole that allows coal companies to avoid paying royalties owed to taxpayers. Critics argue that the proposed rule does not go far enough to guarantee that western states and U.S. taxpayers are receiving a fair value for the coal mined on America’s public lands, due to additional subsidies given to coal companies under the rule.

“We just got done with this Legislature where there were a lot of needs that couldn’t be met,” said Steve Charter, a rancher from north of Billings, Montana told the Billings Gazette. Meanwhile, he said, “since 2008 Montana has lost over $30 million in coal royalties that should have been revenue to the state.”

In January, a report from the Center for American Progress uncovered evidence that coal companies are dodging royalty payments owed to taxpayers by selling coal to their own subsidiary companies and then paying royalties on artificially low prices.

Reviews of the Department of the Interior’s coal program have also found that coal companies are taking advantage of up to $1 billion a year in royalty rate reductions and subsidies for washing and transporting coal.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Here: Have a Candidate Who Actually Wants to Do What Most Americans Want

For decades, liberals have been driven crazy by the fact that majorities of Americans repeatedly tell posters that we want the whole liberal, socialist agenda - higher wages, unions, more money for poor people, environmental protection, health and safety regulations, strong activist government, women's rights, minority rights, secular society, open immigration, gay rights, you-name-it - yet keep voting the most backward, ante-diluvian repugs morons into office.

That is because nobody outside of Berkeley actually runs on the liberal socialist agenda Americans actually want.

Until now.

PZ Myers:
(#12 is to urge his supporters to hire editors and proofreaders.)

Shouldn’t that just be the Democratic party platform?

When the Minnesota caucuses roll around, I’ll be there to vote for Sanders. But this next election is also too important to screw up — we have to get rid of the Republican poison — so at the election itself, if Clinton is the official nominee, I’ll vote for her.

But there is no excuse to not vote your conscience in the primaries. If nothing else, let’s put some pressure on the corporate candidate to move to the left.

Digby has more details:

"People should not underestimate me. I've run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country."
In case you wondered what that message will be, here's a good rundown:
Move to a single-payer health care system

The major issue on which Sanders embraces "full socialism" is health care, where he maintains his longtime support of a single-payer health-care system. At an Iowa event last year, Sanders called Obamacare a "modest step forward." But he said much more work needed to be done on expanding coverage and reducing the costs of care: "We are the only major nation on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people." The problem, he said, is that in the current system, "the goal is for the insurance companies and the drug companies to make as much money as possible."

Sanders was a key supporter of Vermont's plan to implement the United States' first single-payer health care system. "If we do it and do it well, other states will get in line and follow us," he said. "And we will have a national system." But the plan has since foundered over cost concerns, and implementation has been indefinitely postponed. "It's not that it hasn't worked out, it hasn't been implemented," Sanders told The Hill this February.

Overturn Citizens United, publicly fund elections

Sanders has harshly criticized Supreme Court rulings allowing for increased spending on elections by individuals and outside groups. "We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the disastrous 5-4 Citizens United Supreme Court decision," he's said. "Billionaires like the Koch brothers should not be able to spend hundreds of millions to buy elections in the US." He's also called for moving toward public funding of elections, saying, "We are losing our democracy in this country."

Free trade's expansion has been a "disaster"

"Unfettered free trade has been a disaster for the American people," Sanders told me. "It was pushed by corporate America with many Democrats including Bill Clinton and the Republicans working to support him." He said that during his two and a half decades in Congress, "I voted against all the trade agreements." He has been harshly critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and will make his opposition to it a key feature of his campaign.

Combat climate change with a carbon tax

"Global warming is the greatest environmental threat facing the planet," Sanders has said, "and averting a planetary disaster will require a major reduction in the burning of coal, oil, and other fossil fuels." To that end, he supports a carbon tax, which he calls "the most straightforward and efficient strategy for quickly reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Don't cut Social Security — expand it (by taxing the wealthy more)

Sanders scoffs at the idea that the US faces a deficit problem that necessitates cuts in benefits or domestic spending. He mocks "entitlement reform" as a "code word" meaning "cutting Social Security and Medicare," and fought against President George W. Bush's proposal to partially privatize Social Security in 2005.

For Social Security in particular, Sanders says improved benefits could be funded by simply increasing payroll taxes on the rich. He's suggested applying the tax to all income over $250,000 a year. "You do that, you bring in enough money to extend Social Security for decades — and you also give us the resources to expand benefits, not cut them," he said at an event in Waterloo, Iowa, last year.

More spending on infrastructure, less on defense

Sanders has proposed spending $1 trillion on modernizing infrastructure, saying it would both put people to work and generate more economic activity. As for deficits, he wants big cuts in military spending, saying, "It is absurd that the United States continues to spend almost as much on defense as the rest of the world combined." He's frequently suggested that any increases in defending should be fully funded by tax increases on the wealthy.

Don't tax the middle class more — they're already getting squeezed

As seen above, Sanders has frequently called for greater taxation of the wealthy. However, despite proposing a great deal of increased spending, he has not called for tax increases to the middle class or low-income people to fund these efforts.

Instead, he generally argues that the middle class is already getting squeezed — his speeches tend to include a blizzard of statistics about growing inequality. "The most significant issue facing this country is the 40-year decline of the American middle class," he's said.

Raise the minimum wage quite a lot

"If we are going to be serious about cutting poverty," Sanders said in a speech last year, the minimum wage should be raised "to a living wage." He supports raising it from the current level of $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, but says "that is not enough," and wants more of an increase "in the coming years."

Supports immigration reform — but not guest worker programs for unskilled labor

Sanders supports a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants here now, and voted for the Senate's 2013 immigration reform bill. However, he criticized the bill's expansion of guest worker programs, particularly those involving unskilled workers. "I'm very dubious about the need to bring foreign unskilled labor into this country," he said in 2013. "What I do not support is, under the guise of immigrant reform, a process pushed by large corporations which results in more unemployment and lower wages for American workers."

Does not support drug legalization

"I have real concerns about implications of the war on drugs," Sanders told Time in 2014. He said it's lasted decades, to "a huge cost and the destruction of a whole lot of lives of people who were never involved in any violent activities." But he added that especially considering Vermont's heroin epidemic, "I am concerned about the overuse of dangerous drugs." Asked about marijuana legalization, Sanders said he'd "look at it," but that "to me it is not one of the major issues facing this country."

Label foods with GMO ingredients

Sanders strongly supported Vermont's law requiring labels on foods with genetically engineered ingredients — the first such law in the nation. Vermont's law is facing a court challenge, but Sanders has proposed federal legislation to ensure states can pass labeling laws. He has said that "a movement to allow the people of our country to know what is in the food they eat" is standing up to "Monsanto and other multinational food conglomerates."

Supports more gun control — but hasn't always

Sanders has been a consistent supporter of laws to toughen gun control in recent years. But earlier in his career, he was hesitant to engage on it — likely reflecting his rural constituents' views. He voted against a bill requiring a waiting period for a handgun purchase in 1991, calling it "symbolism" and saying gun control shouldn't be a federal issue. However, in 2013, Sanders voted for the Democrats' post-Newtown gun control bill, which expanded background checks and restored the assault weapons ban. He said there was "a growing consensus" that "we have got to do as much as we can to end the cold-blooded mass murders of innocent people."

Much more government funding for higher education

Frequently, Sanders argues for the importance of making college affordable. "Because of the high cost of higher education, many bright young people can no longer afford to go to college, and millions of others are leaving school saddled with debt. This is absurd," he's said. At an event last year, he said it's "time we thought about" making college free for everyone. As a first step, he's suggested that there should be no tuition for the first two years for any public college or university, saying, "We need a revolution in the way higher education is funded."

Less foreign policy interventionism

Sanders is a critic of most large-scale military interventions abroad, saying they are frequently expensive and counterproductive. He opposed the Iraq War, says Republicans are now "itching" for a war with Iran, and said he had "reservations" about Obama's intervention in Libya.

"ISIS is a brutal, awful, dangerous army and they have got to be defeated," he said last year. But, he added, "this is not just an American problem," and called on Arab nations to take the lead in the fight. "This is a war for the soul of Islam and the Muslim nations must be deeply involved."

Stop the NSA's "out-of-control" surveillance

"The National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies are out of control," Sanders has said. " We cannot talk about America as a 'free country' when the government is collecting information on virtually every phone call we make, when it is intercepting our emails and monitoring the websites we visit. That is not what a free society is about." He was one of the few members of Congress to vote against the first version of the Patriot Act, back in 2001.

Supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage

Sanders is pro-choice, and he has long been a supporter of LGBT rights. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. He backed Vermont's civil unions law in 2000 and its full marriage equality law in 2009.

Network neutrality is essential for free speech

Sanders strongly supports efforts to preserve network neutrality. "Our free and open internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world," he has said. "We must not let private corporations turn bigger and bigger profits by putting a price tag on the free flow of ideas."

Reform the Export-Import Bank

Sanders has long been a critic of the Export-Import Bank, as David Dayen documents at Salon. In a 2002 speech, Sanders asked why US taxpayers should give "huge subsidies and loans to the largest multinational corporations in the world, who pay their CEOs huge salaries … and companies take this money from the taxpayers and say, thank you very much, and oh by the way, we are laying you off because we are going to China and hiring somebody at 20 cents an hour." He voted against reauthorizing the bank in 2014.

There's a lot to like in that list. A whole lot.

But, as with Clinton and the Republican field, he's going to have to answer some tough questions too. It's part of the deal. And I can't wait to see what he says about all of it. The Democratic nomination is already more interesting and useful for having him in the race.
And Jay Ackroyd on what Sanders' candidacy means:
Put the real issues on the table this time

I’ve had a lot of excited email come into my inbox last few days, excited about Bernie Sanders. At this week’s Virtually Speaking Sundays, I talked to Cliff Schecter and Dave Johnson about Sanders. I really feel like we have an opportunity here. Not an opportunity to make Clinton say things she’d rather not say. Not an opportunity to raise a big huzzah because, finally, we have a candidate from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.

What Sanders offers is the opportunity to change a narrative that has been beating on us for at least the last fifteen years—a narrative that excludes good, popular public policy from consideration. Raising the minimum wage to where it was in the 70s, adjusted for inflation, is good, popular public policy. Recognizing that the 401K experiment for replacing pensions has failed, and we need to increase social security benefits to make up for that failure is good, popular public policy. Making it possible for a student to graduate from college without a crushing debt burden is good, popular public policy. So is the adoption of trade and industrial policies that benefit everyone, not just the rentiers.

This stuff polls well. Really well. In the 70s, even the 80s. We don’t hear about it because the gatekeepers—the centrist media and the campaign funders--don’t want these issues on the table. These are unifying issues. How do you think 50 something white men in West Virginia feel about medical coverage in the years between the corporate job with health benefits and Medicare? How do you think they feel about their retirement security?

Sanders presents us with an opportunity for an inclusive campaign, a coalition of people across a broad spectrum of American society who have been, not to put too fine a point on it, screwed. They know it—they can read the 401K statement. They get the student loan bill. They’re gonna be working at Home Depot to carry them from their last real job to retirement at 67. They hate the banksters, coming and going.

We liberals have had some success shifting the Social Security narrative. We wouldn’t let the president get away with claiming that he just wanted some “tweaks.” We can do it again by using our now much more open media environment to say that what Sanders is advocating isn’t just gonna win votes in the liberal Iowa precincts. It’s gonna win votes in the general as well, because these issues transcend the identity politics embraced by our friends at Politico, and This Week and, sadly, Clinton’s campaign staff.

It’s a good time to write an LTE, talk to your neighbor, tweet Ezra or David Leonhardt and say “Aren’t these American policy positions? Don’t they poll really well across a broad spectrum of voters? Doesn’t that matter?” Because it does matter. Sanders presence in the race makes it much harder for the gatekeepers to pretend that it doesn’t.