Monday, November 30, 2015

Terrorism Is White, Christian, Republican

And always has been.  Timothy McVeigh.  Eric Rudolph. Scott Roeder. And now Robert Lewis Dear.

Friday afternoon, one week after elected officials all over the country tried to block Syrian refugees from entering their states in an apparent effort to fight terrorism, a white man in Colorado committed what appears to be an act of terrorism in a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Though the details of Robert Lewis Dear’s motives for killing three people in the clinic and injuring nine others are still being revealed, Dear reportedly told law enforcement “no more baby parts,” an apparent reference to heavily edited videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress, which numerous politicians have cited to falsely claim that Planned Parenthood sells “aborted baby parts.” Dear’s actions, in other words, appear to be an act of politically motivated terrorism directed against an institution widely reviled by conservatives.

Though terrorism perpetrated by Muslims receives a disproportionate amount of attention from politicians and reporters, the reality is that right-wing extremists pose a much greater threat to people in the United States than terrorists connected to ISIS or similar organizations. As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June in the New York Times, Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.”

Kurzman and Schanzer’s methodology, moreover, may underestimate the degree to which domestic terrorists in the United States are motivated by right-wing views. As they describe the term in their New York Times piece, the term “right-wing extremist” primarily encompasses anti-government extremists such as members of the sovereign citizen movement, although it also includes racist right-wing groups such as neo-Nazis. Thus, it is not yet clear whether Dear, who made anti-abortion remarks but also reportedly referenced President Obama, was motivated in part by the kind of anti-government views that are the focus of Kurzman and Schanzer’s inquiry.

Kurzman and Schanzer also surveyed hundreds of law enforcement agencies regarding their assessment of various threats. Of the 382 agencies they spoke with, “74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction,” while only “39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations.”

Meanwhile, the percentage of refugees that are connected to terrorist plots is vanishingly small.

KY's Fucked-By-Fracking Future: Bevin Appoints Oil-and-Gas Motherfucker to Staff

Earthquakes by the hundreds per day, like in Oklahoma.  Groundwater poisoned by toxic fracking fluid, like in Pennsylvania. Farmland permanently ruined by fracking operations and waste disposal, like in North Dakota.

Not to mention the libertarian paradise economy of Haiti.

Tom Loftus at the Courier:

Gov.-elect Matt Bevin on Wednesday announced two appointments to positions in the new Governor's Office: Andrew V. McNeill as a senior advisor, and Adam M. Meier as deputy chief of staff for policy.

"Andrew McNeill has decades of experience in the public and private sector. He will be a key advisor..." Bevin said in a news release. "Adam Meier has been an invaluable resource in shaping our policy agenda and will add a steady hand to the process in the Governor's Office."
McNeill, 42, of Louisville, has been executive director for the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association since December of 2012. He worked in the administration of former Gov. Ernie Fletcher as legislative director for the Governor's Office, chief of staff to the secretary of commerce, and executive director for the Office of Energy Policy. He also has worked for ConnectKentucky.
And how very convenient that the new Attorney General, who alone has the power to put a stop to this shit, is himself a mouthpiece for the fracking industry.

Bend over and grab your ankles, Kentucky: the ass-raping hasn't even started yet.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Reverence for All Life

Digby, on the cheering for the Planned Parenthood killer, who shot five cops and killed one of them:

I wish I could see how these people with such alleged reverence for life are any different than the nihilistic Islamic fundamentalists who cheer the shooting of people in restaurants and concert halls.
They're not.

Stop Thinking

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Defensive Crouch Always Attracts Attacks

Ever since the Hyde Amendment tore the heart out of Roe v. Wade, female bodily autonomy has been cowering in a corner, whimpering "please don't hurt me."

Which only encourages the freakazoid women-haters to strike harder.  Doctors murdered. Casey and Carhart giving men the right to treat women as non-sentient reproductive vessels. Clinics attacked. Trap laws closing clinics. Thousands of women vessels dying from illegal abortions.

This is the result not of trying to make abortion legal and safe, but of constant retreat from the only position that will win:

Abortion. On. Demand.

No restrictions.  No delays. No charge. Clinics on every corner and in every mall.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Your Tax Dollars At Work


That's what we're reduced to in 2015, governments not having enough money for roads or bridges or schools because we're broke, but we pay county sheriffs enough money where they can go buy signs with Crazy Republican Facebook memes on them.

Mayors Fischer and Gray: Are You Going to Let Matt Bevin Push You Around?

Kentucky's governor-elect is a racist, motherfucking moron.  Mayors of Louisville and Lexington are not.  They should follow the excellent example of their counterparts in Michigan and Texas.

The mayors of Detroit and Austin said Monday they are welcoming Syrian refugees despite pushback by their states’ Republican governors following the deadly attacks in Paris.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his city can support 50 Syrian families annually for the next three years and is “moving down that road.” Mayor Steve Adler said Austin has accepted three Syrian refugees in the past two years and another is coming.

The Democrats spoke during a White House-arranged conference call, a week after numerous Republican governors spoke out against federal refugee policies.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has instructed refugee-resettling organizations to stop helping Syrians. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has lobbied federal officials for refugees and immigrants, urged a pause in the resettlement program until security concerns are addressed.

Duggan, who discussed refugee issues with Obama administration officials last month during a two-day Washington trip, said he remains comfortable with the refugee-vetting process. He said the city has vacant housing that could accommodate refugees, as well as support agencies and a large Syrian and Middle Eastern community in the surrounding area.

He said all mayors are “conscious of this terrorist threat,” which is “very real.” But he called accepting refugees a “very human issue.” Providing “refuge” to victims of terror, he said, “is what this country is all about.”

“We stand in Detroit prepared to do our share,” he added.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful for Alternatives to War

 From Veterans for Peace:

Friday, November 25, 2015

At Thanksgiving, Veterans Call for Return to Nation's Founding Values

Fourteen years after the fall of the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan, Paris, a city beloved by the world, has been dealt deadly blows by fanatical terrorists. It is the worst attack on Paris since World War II.

Amid the clamor for revenge, and despite the clear failure of the United States’ so-called war on terror that sparked the destabilization of the Middle East and the rise of ISIL, French President François Hollande has promised a “ruthless” campaign against ISIL, in other words, a war that will be cruel, uncompromising and merciless.  <Full Statement>

Download VFP's Suggested Solutions to Confont ISIL which do not include U.S. military action.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Are You Off Work Thanksgiving? Do Not Shop Where the Workers Aren't

On Thursday, most Americans will gather together with family and friends to have dinner and celebrate Thanksgiving. But not everyone will be able to enjoy the holiday the way they’d like.
Eleven brands say they will be open on Thanksgiving this year, requiring millions of workers to show up for shifts during the national holiday.

CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos

Bevin to Bankrupt Kentucky on Refugee Lawsuits

Our repug guv-elect said Kentucky won't accept them. That stupidity is going to cost Kentucky taxpayers millions.

Governors do not have the authority to block refugees from living in their states, since the federal government sets immigration policy. And experts say that targeting refugees from certain regions is unconstitutional and could invite lawsuits.

But the lawsuit filed by the ACLU notes that when Exodus had to redirect a Syrian refugee family to Connecticut at the last minute, the agency had to spend its own funds to find the family a new home.

"Exodus Refugee Immigration had expended both staff time and resources in preparing for the Syrian refugee family who did not come to Indiana. These resources were necessarily diverted from other projects and from assisting other refugees," the complaint reads.


In a statement issued in response to the ACLU lawsuit on Tuesday, Pence's office said that the state will continue to suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana.

Moron.  Stand up, Hoosiers and impeach this idiot before you lose everything.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's come to this. And it's just the beginning

White racists shooting unarmed and peaceful African-Americans?  Check

Police pepper-spraying the victims while the shooters get away?  Check

Authorities blaming the unarmed, peaceful protesters for bringing white violence down on themselves?  Check

Presidential candidates inciting the racist hatred and celebrating the violence?  Check and check and check.

A group of white supremacists opened fire on an encampment of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis on Monday night, according to witnesses. Five protesters were shot and sustained injuries.

The police are seeking three white male suspects. They were reportedly “wearing masks and bulletproof vests.

“I am obviously appalled that white supremacists would open fire on nonviolent, peaceful protesters,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said from the site of the shootings.

The encampment was in response to the shooting of of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot by the police on November 15.

The New York Times reports that some witnesses claimed “they had been sprayed with Mace by the police following the shooting.”
What's this?  A white mayor in Texas says that white supremacists are a greater danger than scary browns?
The mayor of Dallas is pushing back against politicians who say Americans should be skeptical of Syrian refugees, saying he is “more fearful” of armed white men than people fleeing civil war in the Middle East.

Speaking to MSNBC on Saturday morning, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was asked to discuss the growing anxiety over Syrian refugees entering the United States, purportedly over concerns they could be potential agents for militant groups such as ISIS. Rawlings staunchly rejected the assertion that Syrians are somehow uniquely prone to violence, saying he is more concerned with the rise of white supremacy and the recent flurry of mass shootings committed by white men.

“I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up, but we don’t isolate young white men on this issue,” Rawlings said.

Steve Beshear Pulls Cruel Joke with Voting Rights Executive Order

That order will last all of seven 14 days, one hour and 48 minutes from signing. Because one second after Bevin is sworn in on Dec. 8, he'll reverse this order.  Even before he issues his promised "Kim Davis is the jeebusiest jeebus lover in the world" executive order.

Shame on Beshear for giving false hope to people unjustly denied the right to vote.
Gov. Beshear Signs Executive Order Restoring Right to Vote, Hold Office to Certain Offenders
Order excludes persons convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 24, 2015) – Governor Steve Beshear today signed an executive order  that automatically restores the right to vote and hold public office to certain offenders once all terms of their sentences have been satisfied.

The order excludes persons convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason.

“The right to vote is one of the most intrinsically American privileges, and thousands of Kentuckians are living, working and paying taxes in the state but are denied this basic right,” Gov. Beshear said. “Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens. A key part of that transition is the right to vote.”

Under the terms of the order, for felons who are currently incarcerated or under probation or parole supervision, the Department of Corrections (DOC) will verify prior to issuing a restoration of civil rights that there are no pending criminal cases, charges or arrests, or outstanding court-ordered restitution. Individuals meeting those criteria will be granted automatic restoration and a certificate of Restoration of Civil Rights will be issued.

Individuals who have already left the correctional system may pick up a restoration of rights form at any Probation and Parole office, or by contacting the Department of Corrections at 502-782-2248 or online at, and return it to the address listed. DOC will verify whether they meet the criteria set out in the executive order. Offenders who do will have their voting rights restored “without undue delay” and receive a certificate of Restoration of Civil Rights in the mail.

Offenders who don’t meet the criteria for automatic restoration, including those convicted of federal crimes, may still individually apply to have the Governor restore their civil rights under the current restoration process.

“This approach strikes an effective balance between the need to re-enfranchise thousands of Kentuckians who have paid their debt to society, and the recognition that there are some crimes of such a nature that they require a more deliberative review,” Beshear said.

Under the state’s constitution, persons convicted of a felony are stripped of their rights to vote, hold public office, own a firearm or serve on a jury. Kentucky is one of only four states that does not automatically restore felons’ voting rights upon final discharge of their sentence. An estimated 180,000 Kentuckians have served out their sentence but lack the right to vote.

Today is a wonderful day for all Kentuckians,” said former state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, of Lexington. “The steps that Gov. Beshear has taken through this executive order will allow for democracy at its best.”

“Gov. Beshear should be congratulated,” said Sen. Gerald Neal, of Louisville. “Restoring the voting rights of ex-offenders enhances the credibility of the justice system in Kentucky. Kentucky now joins all but a few states in discarding this reactionary, useless restriction.”

“It has long been my belief that once offenders have paid restitution for their crimes, they deserve to have their voting rights restored,” said Sen. Denise Harper Angel, of Louisville. “As someone who has co-sponsored legislation numerous times to restore voting rights, I am very pleased that Gov. Beshear has taken this bold step to move Kentucky forward.”

“This is a major step toward fully re-integrating individuals into society who have paid for their past mistakes,” said Rep. Darryl T. Owens, of Louisville. “I appreciate the leadership of Jesse Crenshaw on this issue and I commend Gov. Beshear for taking this bold action.”

In signing the executive order two weeks before his terms ends, Beshear noted he has consistently supported legislative efforts to permit a constitutional referendum on restoration of rights, and wanted to allow that process to play out. When those efforts failed, he said, he waited under after the November election so as not to politicize the issue during the campaigns.

“The ACLU-KY applauds Gov. Beshear for taking an important step toward breaking down barriers to ballot boxes in Kentucky,” said Michael Aldridge, Kentucky executive director of the ACLU. “We know the Commonwealth’s disenfranchisement policies, some of the harshest in the country, have negatively impacted families and communities, especially those of color, by reducing their collective political voice. Studies have shown that individuals who vote are more likely to give to charity, volunteer, attend school board meetings, serve on juries and are more actively involved in their communities.”

Today’s order transforms the process for restoring voting rights in Kentucky and makes it accessible to thousands of Kentucky citizens, some of whom have waited many years for this,” said Tomas Lopez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “Everyone eligible should act now to take advantage of this important reform.”

Loving America ... and Kentucky

Looks like the theme for the 2016 elections is going to be "Democrats Hate America; Real Americans Vote Republican."

Here's an old but still relevant response:

"We[Liberals] love America just as much as they[Conservatives] do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world. That’s why we liberals want America to do the right thing. We know America is the hope of the world, and we love it and want it to do well."

-- Al Franken

Monday, November 23, 2015

Make Voting a Condition of Public Assistance

David Atkins is an excellent analyst of Democratic voting behavior, especially at the local level, but I think he misses the obvious solution on this one.

If formerly Democratic strongholds in Eastern Kentucky are going repug because the working class votes and the poor don't, the solution is not to keep digging the bottomless hole of pandering to the middle class.

The solution is to get the poor who are not voting out to the polls to vote.

And the way to do that is to provide government assistance only to people who prove they are voting.

Repugs are so enamored of piling conditions on people who are starving and homeless; Democrats should propose this one and make repugs explain why not.

It's the turnout, stupid.

David Atkins at Political Animal:

Alex McGillis at the New York Times has one of the most intriguing and important pieces of political analysis I’ve seen in quite some time today. Most of us are familiar with analyses reliant on racial and cultural resentments to explain why poor white communities seem to vote against their own interests: voters with racist tendencies and those who fear the changing of social mores vote for Republicans in order to thumb their nose at minorities and coastal social liberals—even if the impact of conservative policies is worst in their own communities. But McGillis’ analysis suggests that conservative voters in these areas are just as resentful of their white neighbors on public assistance, and that most of the poor whites on public assistance aren’t voting for Republicans but have simply stopping voting altogether:
In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.
McGillis points to data showing that people who struggle economically are most likely to hold liberal views on economics, but are also least likely to vote. The more they need government help, the less connected they feel to their communities and the less interested they become in politics. Crucially, 57% of these nonvoters are white—mostly living in conservative communities.

In the meantime, those who vote Republican in these areas are the ones doing somewhat better economically who feel not just sublimated racism and generalized cultural resentment against coastal elites, but also direct anger at the increasing number of their neighbors and acquaintances in need of assistance:

Democrats don’t really have a good answer for this problem. As a matter of public policy, obviously reducing inequality and improving working-class economics broadly should make progressive politics more palatable in these communities. But that’s a long-term project. From a communications standpoint, if voters are willing to give away tax breaks to Wall Street while intentionally voting for policies that will throw their friends and neighbors into the street and deny them lifesaving medical care, there’s not much you can do.

These mostly suburban and rural communities are infused with a Calvinist ethic that attributes success to moral virtue and failure to moral weakness. The cultural and psychological pull of that doctrine is incredibly powerful and buoyed by hucksters preaching the prosperity gospel that God will make you rich if you are faithful enough and want it badly enough. This toxic stew creates an instinct to push down the person below them rather than up against the person above them, and transcends simple racism and cultural resentment at this point.

From a communications standpoint, one approach Democrats can and should take is to strongly promote policies that not only help those who have fallen through the cracks, but also those who have middle-class jobs as well. Many of those policies already exist, but are hidden from voters in the form of tax credits rather than direct transfers. A more radical analysis would suggest that the forces of mechanization and globalization may require a universal basic income that would supplement the incomes of the employed and unemployed alike in a way that might make welfare payments seem fairer and more democratized to these voters. And, of course, a more full-throated progressive economic message (and laws that create easier access to voting) from Democrats may be able to encourage more of the downtrodden to make their voices heard at the polls.

Ultimately, though, there may be little Democrats can do to win over these surburban and rural white voters. Their shift to the GOP has been overwhelming, and if they’re willing to throw their friends and neighbors under the political bus there’s not all that much to be done. We can excuse it with economic, religious and social analysis, but at the end of the day that approach to life and ethics is usually described with negative moral language designed to invoke shame. Urban voters and minority communities don’t share this dog-eat-dog moral value system, and their numbers are growing. A more powerfully aggressive progressive politics and economic egalitarianism would likely help, but ultimately the solution may simply be a matter of waiting for demographic change and limiting the impact of gerrymandering designed to artificially increase the influence of these voters.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Arm Yourself for the Class War

Compared to the masters of the new Gilded Age, foreign terrorists are amateurs.

It's been going on for a very long time, and the obscenely rich are winning again, piling up victories that would shock their predecessors in the Gilded Age.

There is a class war going on in the New Gilded Age. If “war” is the term we want to use for “massacre of the defenseless.”
Time for everyone to update your Class War Calendars with the latest income inequality figures. The Economic Policy Institute this week released the most recent figures on wages, and here is what we learned:
The “annual earnings of the top 1.0 percent of wages earners grew 4.9 percent in 2014, and the top 0.1 percent’s earnings grew 8.9 percent.”
In the past year, wages of the entire bottom 99 percent of earners grew less than 2 percent.
The “earnings of workers between the 99th and 99.9th percentiles have reached their highest level of all time,” and the earnings of the top 0.1 percent were only higher in 2007, just before the global economy crashed.
Since 1979, when the Reagan era ushered in our current age of American inequality, average annual earnings of the bottom 90 percent have increased by 16.7 percent; average annual earnings of the top 1 percent have increased by 149.4 percent; and average annual earnings of the top 0.1 percent have increased by 324.4 percent. It is not just that the rich have more money than the rest of us; their income is also growing much faster than the income of most people.

Nuke the Saudis. Do It Now.

We've been fighting, overtly or covertly, in the Middle East for a century.  Yet despite battles in nearly every nation, we've never confronted the one country that is really the cause of it all.

At The Nation, Laila Lalami pointed a very direct finger at one kind of Muslim source of violence: the Wahhabi sect that has received vast subsidies from the Saudi government to spread its beliefs via propaganda, mosque construction, and “good works” in a not-so-good cause.
We must call to account the Saudi kings—Salman, Abdullah, and Fahd—whose funding of Wahhabi doctrine gave rise to the scourge of Islamic extremism.
When I was a child in Morocco, no clerics told me what to do, what to read or not read, what to believe, what to wear. And if they did, I was free not to listen. Faith was more than its conspicuous manifestations. But things began to change in the 1980s. It was the height of the Cold War and Arab tyrants saw an opportunity: They could hold on to power indefinitely by repressing the dissidents in their midst—most of them secular leftists—and by encouraging the religious right wing, with tacit or overt approval from the United States and other Western allies. Into the void created by the decimation of the Arab world’s secular left, the Wahhabis stepped in, with almost unlimited financial resources. Wahhabi ideas spread throughout the region not because they have any merit—they don’t—but because they were and remain well funded. We cannot defeat ISIS without defeating the Wahhabi theology that birthed it. And to do so would require spending as much effort and money in defending liberal ideas….
 The beheadings, the crucifixions, the destruction of cultural heritage that ISIS practices—none of these are new. They all happened, and continue to happen, in Saudi Arabia too. The government of Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people this year than ISIS. It persecutes Shias and atheists. It has slowly destroyed sites of cultural and religious significance around Mecca and Medina. To almost universal indifference, it has been bombing Yemen for seven months. Yet whenever terror strikes, it escapes notice and evades responsibility. In this, it is aided and abetted by Western governments, who buy oil from tyrants and sell them weapons, while paying lip service to human rights.
Not to mention nurturing and funding the 9-11 terrorists.

Military intervention has done nothing but exacerbated the problems in the Middle East.  But we've never tried military intervention in Saudi Arabia.

Nuke the Saudis.  Do it now.

Friday, November 20, 2015

George Does It Again

Just. Nails. The. Motherfuckers. To. The. Wall.

On Wednesday, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, wrote a controversial letter explaining why his administration won't be welcoming Syrian refugees. The letter from Mayor David Bowers invoked America's history of interning Japanese Americans during World War II as a precedent for his own actions. He wrote, "President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then."

Star Trek actor turned internet celebrity George Takei takes this subject very personally, because he was one of the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were targeted by Roosevelt's policies. And in a powerful Facebook post, he pointed out that the lesson Bowers has drawn from this history is totally wrong:
1) The internment (not a "sequester") was not of Japanese "foreign nationals," but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It is my life’s mission to never let such a thing happen again in America.

2) There never was any proven incident of espionage or sabotage from the suspected "enemies" then, just as there has been no act of terrorism from any of the 1,854 Syrian refugees the U.S. already has accepted. We were judged based on who we looked like, and that is about as un-American as it gets.

3) If you are attempting to compare the actual threat of harm from the 120,000 of us who were interned then to the Syrian situation now, the simple answer is this: There was no threat. We loved America. We were decent, honest, hard-working folks. Tens of thousands of lives were ruined, over nothing.

Cowards Who Think America is Weak

This is simple: If you say that the United States or your state or your city or your little shithole by the ditch should ban refugees from Syria because ISIS fighters or Islamic terrorists or Sharia-packin' mules might get into the nation. you are a pussy. Because what you are saying is that you are so afraid of a couple of goatfuckers getting through and blowing themselves up that you would rather cringe in the dark and hide. And you think the nation is so pathetic and weak that those goatfuckers could actually have a shot at destroying Our Way of Life (spoiler: they don't).

Repugs Already Taking Over KY House While Dems Lick Wounds

Three Democrats are all that stand between Kentucky and the anti-government catastrophe that will be guv Bevin with a repug legislature. Three more Dem losses and we're fucking Kansas, on our way to being Haiti. 

State Rep. Denver Butler, a longtime Democrat from Louisville, filed Thursday to seek re-election as a Republican — a move designed to help the GOP win control of the Kentucky House next year for the first time in about 90 years.

Butler, a retired homicide police sergeant who has been in the state House since 2013, said in an email that he made the party switch “after a great deal of thought, reflection and prayer.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Butler’s announcement, noting that Butler’s father had also been a Democratic state lawmaker.

“In short, I find it hard to believe that he made this decision, but we will field a strong candidate in this district, which has been reliably Democratic,” Stumbo said. “Our caucus remains strong.”
No, Greg: your caucus is falling apart. Filing deadline for 2016 elections is January 29. By then, you may not still have the majority.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Repug Pants-Wetters Determined to Create Radical Muslims in America

Their hysteria over muslinterrists under the bed is pure projection: America's real domestic terrorists are the very right-wing, freakazoid gun nuts repugs have been growing and cherishing for 60 years.

And now their screaming hate-mongering is going to create in reality the myth they lie about.
Michael Cohen makes a good point in this column about the various myths surrounding the Paris attacks and US policy toward ISIS:
Myth No. 1: America Is Next

From the pages of Politico to the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” this argument has been made repeatedly since Friday night, and it demonstrates a glaring ignorance about the differences between the U.S. and Europe when it comes to vulnerability to terrorism.

The biggest difference is that the United States simply doesn’t have a radicalized Muslim population, as is the case in France and elsewhere in Europe. That matters a lot because foreign terrorists operating in the United States, especially in a post-9/11 environment, would need local assistance, safe houses, access to weapons and explosives, logistical support and more. In short, they would need Americans, or people who know American culture and who can operate in the country freely. Yet, in the 14 years since 9/11, there’s been no serious emergence of radicalization among American Muslims. The Fort Hood shooter and the Boston Marathon bombers are obvious exceptions, but exceptions nonetheless.
Europe is a very different kettle of fish than the US. They have large Muslim populations with long-standing social unrest and cultural alienation. It's quite possible that the radicalization, at least among some of them, has as much to do with their own issues as Europeans as it has with their religion or solidarity with the aims of ISIS.

We have not had this in the US. But from the way the Republicans are acting, it appears we're jealous and would like to get some. At the very least they seem petulant that we aren't in the center of the  fight. Treating Muslims like aliens and talking about closing mosques and rounding up and interning or deporting them is one way to get there.

Keep it up boys. This demagoguery may very well keep out Syrian refugees but if you want to create some American homegrown Islamic radicals you're doing a heckuva job.

Choosing Brave and Smart Over Scared and Stupid

Ever notice how real heroes are never the ones screaming "OMG we're all gonna die!"

I've been aghast at the panic stricken bellowing coming from mainstream US media in the wake of Paris and needless to say, Fox News has been worse than most.  But once in awhile someone surprises you. Here's Fox's Shep Smith:
In the face of terror, will we panic or be calm and deliberative in approach?” Smith asked in a 90-second monologue. “Confronted with those who want to change our way of life, will we abandon our freedoms and the rights granted to us by the creator, or will we welcome huddled masses, yearning to breathe free? Will we take extreme measures to fundamentally alter who and what we are?” 
“Our shining city on a hill is vulnerable,” he continued. “We’ve always known that. If we change it to accommodate the savages, have they won? And what then would be left to protect? We profess to stand as an example for all the world. Our unique experiment in freedom, tolerance, openness, and equality, is our gift to societies and peoples everywhere. Come, join us. Enjoy a chance at the American dream.” 
He concluded, “Today we mourn but we cannot allow ourselves to become like those who want to destroy us. We cannot resort to tactics of the barbarians. We must fight for what we believe in and who we are. Guard our freedoms faithfully for the generations to follow. And we must not let the rhetoric of potential and political extremists among us lead us to self-destruction. When there’s panic, we show resolve. When there’s calm for extremism, we resist. We are America. We must lead.”

Cut Administrators and Tuition, Not Faculty

Wonder why UK tuition is so ridiculously high even while tenured faculty is shrinking and temps are teaching what professors should be? That tuition is going to pay for too many non-teaching administrators.

Top level administrators are being hired at the University of Kentucky at more than twice the rate of full-time faculty, according to UK employee statistics.

The number of upper-level administrators rose 21 percent from 2007-08 to 2014-15, compared to an 8 percent increase in full-time teaching faculty during the same period. That’s a net gain of 100 people in each category.

Full-time faculty have been augmented by specialist and administrative faculty, bringing the total growth in faculty to 12 percent. Specialist and administrative faculty are researchers, librarians and administrators who also teach in addition to their other duties.

Student enrollment grew about 13 percent at UK during the seven-year period.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

QOTD: Refugees

If America is not the beacon of freedom to every oppressed person on earth, then it is nothing at all.
... the proper response to calls for an end to accepting Syrian refugees is to point out that such a policy is grotesquely inhumane, as it buys Americans an infinitesimal decrease in the already infinitesimal risk that we as individuals will be victimized by jihadist terrorism, at the cost of failing to do anything to ameliorate the vast suffering of the actual victims of ISIS, 99.99% of whom are in Syria and Iraq.

Not Gonna Be Nice: The Mother Fuckers Are Wrong

Via Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo:

Doctor Zoom at Wonkette crystallized the absurdity:
Of course U.S. America should take in refugees. It’s our fucking job. The alternative is to leave them stuck in hell, where they will either die or become radicalized against the United States. Or else we might as well replace the plaque on that nice welcoming statue in New York Harbor with one that reads, “Sucks to be you.” The lesson of World War II was supposed to be “Never Again,” not “leave ’em to die because they’re scary foreigners with the wrong religion.”

If only they weren't so very wrong, so very often, perhaps we could take the fear-mongering politicians seriously. 

A cartoon from the New York Daily Mirror at the time (June 6, 1939).
Embedded image permalink

Republican America is mean, narrow, ill-informed, bigoted, angry, self-destructive ... and incredibly well-armed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bevin Doesn't Know What the Fuck He's Doing, Part 1

First, you moron, refugee policy is set by the President, not by faux-libertarian bros who think a governor's race makes them king. If President Obama wants to send five million Syrian refugees to Kentucky, there's not a fucking thing Bevin can do about it.

And as has been pointed out by others, ISIS is what the Syrian refugees are running away from.  You want to hurt ISIS and help America?  Welcome the refugees with open arms and make sure they become grateful American citizens.
You know, like the immigrant ancestors of every single fucking person in this country.

As Kentucky refugee advocates worked to calm fears and stave off a backlash against Syrian refugees, Gov.-elect Matt Bevin on Monday joined with a chorus of governors, including Indiana's Mike Pence, calling for suspending the refugees' resettlements to their states.

"The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a warning to the entire civilized world that we must remain vigilant," Bevin said in a statement. "It is imperative that we do everything in our power to prevent any similar attack by evildoers from taking place here in America."

Bevin, who is to be inaugurated Dec. 8, said his primary responsibility as governor would be to protect Kentuckians.

About the same time, Kentucky's outgoing governor, Steve Beshear, issued a statement saying the commonwealth would be following federal immigration laws under him. "In terms of the impact of this violence on refugees, obviously, these are women and children and people who are in desperate need, and if America needs to help out, we will help out," he said. "But we have to be very careful and make sure that we screen people so we only bring folks into the United States who are truly looking for a safe haven.”

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another KY Town Courts Bankruptcy With Freakazoid Vote

Millions of dollars in settlement to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which eats freakazoid fools like you for breakfast.  Not counting legal fees and the cost of re-repainting all the cop cars.

Kim Davis, Wilmore, now Hodgenville.  Is there some kind of morons-in-court contest going on?

The Hodgenville City Council has unanimously voted to allow the words "In God We Trust" to be lettered on the town's police cars.

WDRB-TV reports ( the idea came up when the five-officer department got two new cruisers recently. Police Chief Marcus Jackson said he will leave it up to the individual officers whether they want the decal on their vehicles.

Mayor Kenny Devore said he will pay for the new decals personally, so that the money won't come from taxpayers.

Larue County Judge Executive Tommy Turner told the station he knows a lawsuit is possible. But he said in an email, "I am supportive as I think allowing 'In God We Trust' on our cruisers reflects the majority feeling of the community."
First, the unconstitutional part is the religious expression on a city-owned vehicle.  Who purchases the stickers is irrelevant.

Second, even if every single person in Hodgenville vowed to sacrifice their first-borns rather than allow the stickers to be removed, it wouldn't make the stickers any less unconstitutional.

And third, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has a perfect all-wins, no-losses record against morons like you.  You. Will. Lose.  And you will Pay. Big.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

American Less Religious, But More Subject to Xian Sharia

It's going to take more than a growing minority of the non-religious to stop the race to theocracy.
Is the American public becoming less religious? Yes, at least by some key measures of what it means to be a religious person. An extensive new survey of more than 35,000 U.S. adults finds that the percentages who say they believe in God, pray daily and regularly go to church or other religious services all have declined modestly in recent years.

But the Pew Research Center study also finds a great deal of stability in the U.S. religious landscape. The recent decrease in religious beliefs and behaviors is largely attributable to the “nones” – the growing minority of Americans, particularly in the Millennial generation, who say they do not belong to any organized faith. Among the roughly three-quarters of U.S. adults who do claim a religion, there has been no discernible drop in most measures of religious commitment. Indeed, by some conventional measures, religiously affiliated Americans are, on average, even more devout than they were a few years ago.
Which is exactly why the freakazoids are accelerating the xian sharia takeover of the American legal system, and why they are getting away with it.

The New York Times’ series on the use of binding arbitration to “privatize” disputes usually resolved by the courts continues today with a piece (again by Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg) focusing on the use of arbitration requirements which substitute religious for secular law. A sample:
For generations, religious tribunals have been used in the United States to settle family disputes and spiritual debates. But through arbitration, religion is being used to sort out secular problems like claims of financial fraud and wrongful death.
Customers who buy bamboo floors from Higuera Hardwoods in Washington State must take any dispute before a Christian arbitrator, according to the company’s website. Carolina Cabin Rentals, which rents high-end vacation properties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, tells its customers that disputes may be resolved according to biblical principles. The same goes for contestants in a fishing tournament in Hawaii.
Religious arbitration clauses…have often proved impervious to legal challenges.
Scientology forbids its followers from associating with former members who have been declared “suppressive persons,” according to people who have left the church. But this year, a federal judge in Florida upheld a religious arbitration clause requiring Luis Garcia, a declared suppressive, to take his claim that the church had defrauded him of tens of thousands of dollars before a panel of Scientologists, instead of going to court.
The piece also discusses at some length complaints against “Christian” counseling and rehab services—some of them mandated by actual courts—that try to “de-gay” people and exploit free labor and then defend themselves with arbitration clauses that subject all disputes to “scriptural” standards.

In other words, greed and bigotry have joined hands via arbitration requirements.

Insanity and Ignorance

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Guns of Paris

This is all I have to say.  Via Wonkette comments:


Everyday Torture

And I don't mean "torture" as a metaphor.  I mean cops everywhere subjecting anyone they don't like to lethal jolts of electricity, just because they can.

It's good to see the major media finally waking up to the fact that police are using tasers as torture devices that are killing a fair number of unarmed citizens. This story in today's Guardian goes in depth on the killing of nearly 50 people just this year with tasers:


Police often use tasers to exact street justice on people whom they feel disrespect them. It's so common that people don't even comment on it anymore. And Americans accept this as a perfectly normal police tactic. After all, it doesn't leave marks like a baton beating would so it's no big deal. Unless you fall head first and knock your teeth out. Or hit the curb and get a concussion. Or die.

This is not the only big story about tasers in recent days. This one from the LA Times about taser torture on the border is astonishing, even to me and I've been following this stuff for too long:


Using tasers in lieu of guns wherever possible should be a no-brainer. But in none of the above cases can you say that the officers would have had to fire their guns if not for the taser. They are clearly being used as legal torture devices to coerce compliance --- and as a method of punishment.

What's interesting about both of these articles is that it's finally becoming clear to people that tasers are tools for police brutality and are being commonly used for that purpose. They cause great pain and trauma and sometimes kill people. They could be useful if used with discretion. But too many police do not see them as a replacement for the gun in cases where their lives or the lives of others are not in immediate danger but simply as pain compliance --- a euphemism for torture.

It's long past time our society took a long hard look at these devices. For too long tasers were seen as  funny, slapstick comedy. (The still are by Hollywood, which really needs some education on this subject.) And that's no less creepy than laughing at police delivering a beatdown to a citizen on the side of the road. I'm glad to see that the press is finally taking up the subject and seeing it for what it has become.

World's New Progressive Leader is Former Most Backward

It gives me hope, it does, that the nation most thoroughly chained into medieval barbarism by freakazoid religion has in the span of just a few years made giant leaps of liberalism.

Gay marriage by referendum overwhelmingly, and now treating heroin addicts like human beings.  Could abortion on demand be far behind?

If Eire can do it, so can America.

As the battle to decriminalize — and legalize — weed in the U.S. continues, another country is taking a giant leap towards eliminating its stringent drug laws. In the near future, Ireland will decriminalize marijuana, cocaine, and heroin possession. Medically-supervised injection rooms will also soon be available to drug users, in order to reduce the stigma of addiction.
Ireland is following in the footsteps of countries that have started to tire of the fallout from the war on drugs driven by U.S. policy.

On Monday, during a speech at the London School of Economics, Minister of Drugs Aodhán Ó Ríordáin announced plans to open the injection centers for drug users in Dublin next year. Ríordáin also divulged that the parliamentary committee on Justice, Defence and Equality strongly supports decriminalization across the board, and will work towards making that a reality in 2016.

Calling on a “radical” shift in drug policy, Ríordáin pointed to the public health implications of decriminalization and the extent to which national funds are spent on law enforcement and court efforts to crack down on drug use.

“Too often those with drug problems suffer from stigma, due to a lack of understanding or public education about the nature of addiction. This stigma can be compounded for those who end up with a criminal record due to possession of drugs for their own use,” he said. “Addiction is not a choice, it’s a healthcare issue. This is why I believe it is imperative that we approach our drug problem in a more compassionate and sensitive way.”

By decriminalizing the drugs, addicts are less likely to wind up behind bars and more likely to receive treatment. The minister cited research that treatment reduces both drug use and drug-related crime.

As for the benefits of establishing supervised injection sites, Ríordáin explained that casual drug injection in the streets of Dublin threatens the lives of users and the general public. Users can overdose and contract blood-borne diseases, and people around them can be harmed by “syringes and other drug paraphernalia.”

By opening centers where medical professionals oversee injection, drug addiction can be diverted to safer, controlled settings. The Irish Times reports that injection facilities will spring up in Galway, Cork, Limerick, in addition to Dublin.


With Ríordáin’s announcement, Ireland is on its way to implementing one of the most progressive drug laws in the world.

“We need to have discussions like today in think tanks, universities, parliaments and small rooms across the globe so that we can develop a more modern and comprehensive response to tackling drug trafficking and consumption,” Ríordáin said.

When Facts Prove You Wrong, Outlaw the Facts

Because that's all the repugs and freakazoids have: preventing people from finding out how wrong they are about everything.

In the letter, Schaefer noted that a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis will collect and store the data for the study. As chair of the Missouri senate's interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, Schaefer investigated Planned Parenthood after edited videos allegedly showed employees at the clinic discuss the sale of fetal tissue. As a result of the state senate's investigation, the University of Missouri has canceled contracts with Planned Parenthood and prohibited medical students from learning about abortions during clinical rotations, according to the Huffington Post.

The university has defended the graduate student's study.

"As the state's research, land-grant institution, we must stay committed to the discovery, dissemination, application and preservation of knowledge to support our mission while abiding by state and federal laws," spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said in a statement, according to the Huffington Post. "We will continue performing life-saving research in our laboratories while providing the highest quality of educational opportunities to our students."
Mary Kogut, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood's St. Louis chapter, said Schaefer was trying to intimidate researchers.

"I also think what Sen. Schaefer is doing is intimidation of the higher education institutions of our state," Kogut said, according to the Associated Press. "This is about academic freedom for students and the university."
As for facts, I guess they're just chaff thrown out by secular progressives to destroy good Christians.

Friday, November 13, 2015

No, KY Did Not Elect a Black Lt. Gov.

She was not "elected" to anything, because Kentucky no longer "elects" the Lieutenant Governor.  Governor candidates choose a running mate whose name appears below that governor candidate's name on the ballot. She never appeared on her own ballot line.  If she had, not a single white repug - and in Kentucky, they're 99.9999 percent white - would have cast a vote for her.

Kentucky repugs are racist motherfuckers who never voted for her, but are happy to use her as the personification of their lies.

Hampton never made it to space, but she did rise from an unemployed tea party activist who couldn't win a state House race to become the first African-American to ever hold statewide office in Kentucky. Elected lieutenant governor alongside Republican Gov.-elect Matt Bevin, she joins Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina as the only black statewide elected officials in the South.

Republicans view her election as a rebuke to claims by some Democrats that President Barack Obama's dismal approval ratings in the state are driven by race. Kentucky's minority population is less than 10 percent, and the state had divided loyalties during the Civil War while never officially joining the Confederacy. The state Capitol has statues of both Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis in its rotunda.
As for you, Jenean: you can be sure that every repug in the state is calling you a ni**er behind your back.  And they'll never elect you to a real office.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

How Bevin's Charter Schools Will Make Both Schools and Poverty Worse

Arguing that education is the key to curing poverty is like saying swimming will prevent drowning. Of course, but could the best instructor in the world teach a child to swim if the student showed up for lessons wearing 20-pound weights on each arm?
That weight – the onerous burden of poverty – is what holds back many Louisiana children. It’s what makes the efforts of even the best teachers so challenging. When a child arrives at school unprepared or unable to learn because of circumstances beyond the school’s or its teachers’ control, why would we blame the school and its teachers?
Surely, those seeking public office, especially many now running for governor and the Legislature, understand this. They know that (on average) a sick child, an emotionally or physically battered child or a hungry child cannot learn, in the same way, at the same pace, as a child without those enormous challenges. So, why do so many of our leaders respond to questions about poverty by tossing off mindless, simplistic answers like, “The solution to poverty is a good education”?
I suspect they know it’s evasive and naive, but what else can the average politician tell you? The truth? Imagine a candidate with the courage to say the following:
“Look, I could give you the usual boilerplate answer about poverty. I could blame it on substandard schools and lazy teachers, and you’d nod your heads in agreement. That’s what you want to hear. You want to believe that if our teachers would just work harder, all our problems would disappear.
“Blaming poverty on our teachers and the schools is a cop out. It absolves us of our collective responsibility for the scandal of poverty. We’re scapegoating teachers, which is very much like blaming doctors for an outbreak of the common cold. They are only dealing with symptoms of a problem that existed before the patient arrived.
You know the primary solution for poverty is? Good jobs in the places where people live. Of course saying that we need well-paid jobs in this country is the equivalent to being a moral monster if you are a centrist Democrat. It’s a lot easier to just bust teachers’ unions and send idealistic 22 year old recent college graduates into impoverished schools without any training. That will solve our problems!
Zandar on why black voters punish Democratic candidates for defending public education.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The "Improved" TPP Only Increases Corporate Power to Enslave All of Us

Think it's bad now? If Congress OK's this fascist power grab, corporations will be able to veto minimum wage, Social Security, affordable health care, clean water regulations and anything else - like the right to vote - that they can imagine hurts their profits by a single fucking penny.

Wave bye-bye to democracy, y'all; Exxon-Mobil will own your ass.

Apologies to Charlie Pierce for lifting his entire column, but This. Is. It. The hill we die on.  Compared to TPP, the Keystone XL pipeline is an overturned trash can.

​There probably is no more (occasionally overly) judicious voice on the world economy than Jeffrey Sachs. He has taken a look at the soft spots in the monstrous Trans-Pacific Partnership and he has found them to be bad enough to vote down the bill as a whole.​
The third is a set of regulations governing investor rights, intellectual property, and regulations in key service sectors, including financial services, telecommunications, e-commerce, and pharmaceuticals. These chapters are a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Their common denominator is that they enshrine the power of corporate capital above all other parts of society, including labor and even governments. The fourth is a set of standards on labor and the environment that purport to advance the cause of social fairness and environmental sustainability. But the agreements are thin, unenforceable, and generally unimaginative. For example, climate change is not even mentioned, much less addressed boldly and creatively.
That sounds really bad. But, according to Sachs, there is worse to come.​​
The most egregious parts of the agreement are the exorbitant investor powers implicit in the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system as well as the unjustified expansion of copyright and patent coverage. We've seen this show before. Corporations are already using ISDS provisions in existing trade and investment agreements to harass governments in order to frustrate regulations and judicial decisions that negatively impact the companies' interests. The system proposed in the TPP is a dangerous and unnecessary grant of power to investors and a blow to the judicial systems of all the signatory countries. And, as in earlier trade agreements, the United States has pushed through overly strong intellectual property rights that strengthen the aggressive pricing practices of big pharma and unnecessarily extend the copyright protections far beyond their social usefulness.
​From the start, this thing has reeked of being an investment protection act. This thought has occurred to Senator Professor Warren as well.​
Because of how costly these awards can be, ISDS creates enormous pressure on governments to avoid actions that might offend corporate interests. Corporations have brought ISDS cases against countries that have raised their minimum wage, attempted to cut smoking rates, or prohibited dumping toxic chemicals. Just last month, a foreign corporation successfully challenged Canada's decision to deny a blasting permit because of concerns about the environmental impact on nearby fishing grounds, and now the company could get up to $300 million from Canadian taxpayers. Will Canada's environmental regulators hesitate before they say no to the next foreign corporation that wants to dump, blast, or drill?
​ The president's devotion to this deal is surpassed in its everlasting mystery to his implacable demand that Congress fast-track a measure that contains uncounted numbers of land mines for ordinary people and the countries in which they live. Sachs seems curious about this as well.
Perhaps most disappointing is the lack of creativity in the development, labor, and environmental chapters. Yes, they rhetorically defend global economic development, labor standards, and environmental sustainability, but they do so without specific enforcement powers. Why is it that companies can force arbitration tribunals to defend their investor rights, but workers have no such power? Why is climate change not even considered in the draft, despite the fact that it represents the most important environmental threat of the 21st century, and may have strong implications for future trade rules?
​ Outside of his education policies, the headlong rush into the TPP is going to be one of the only acts of his presidency with which the president justifies the criticisms levelled at him from the left. That's not a bad batting average, but this is an awful exception to the rule.​