Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why Freakazoids Should Never Run Anything

Or do anything difficult or dangerous that could hurt anyone but themselves.

And if you think that cartoon is a literal interpretation of a metaphor, you don't know many freakazoids.  They ruin everything.

When You Don't Know



Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Limitless Benefits of Being White

Not to mention the infrastructure and economic foundation built by slaves and slavery.

White people benefit each and every day from the legacy of slavery and racism. They can move to the suburbs to “give their children the best education” because they have better jobs and histories of redlining, restrictive covenants, job flight, and violence made the suburbs traditionally a white-only space. They benefit from a lack of police violence. They benefit from better jobs and education. They benefit each and every day. The middle class is built on a foundation of slavery and racism. If we are going to accept those benefits, we also need to pay up to even the playing field. Otherwise, we are just continuing to invest and benefit from a racist society.

Friday, May 27, 2016

For Memorial Day: little trumpie Cheats the Veterans

I want to make this simple. Here's what Donald Trump did recently:
  • He pledged $1 million to help veterans.
  • He tried to weasel out of it for months and hoped no one would notice.
  • When he finally got caught, he ponied up grudgingly and insulted the reporter who caught him.
Even among sleazebags, this is not normal behavior. This is pathological sleaziness. It's literally beyond belief. Do not let Trump distract you with his latest barrage of insults. Do not turn your attention to the latest polls. Do not let this be normalized away as "just another Trump thing."
Maybe we need to put this in simpler terms. $1 million is one ten-thousandth of Trump's claimed wealth. The average American household has a net worth of about $50,000. One ten-thousandth of that is $5. In terms of its effect on his personal finances, what Trump did was the equivalent of promising five bucks to a homeless vet and then trying to weasel out of it. What kind of person would do that?
This deserves far more attention than it's gotten. If character is supposed to be important in our presidents, this is evidence of the most contemptible kind of character imaginable. He tried to cheat a bunch of veterans! Can we please not shrug our shoulders and let this fade away?
but-but-but Kevin! If little trumpie is worth far less than $10 billion, as some investigators claim, say only $100 million, then a $1 million pledge is actually an entire one percent of his net worth.  And that's the equivalent of $500 for an average household.  Quite a bit bigger bite.  
Still, a pledge is a pledge.  And little trumpie is a lying sociopath.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

This is the Immigrant the Trumpies Want to Deport

Tears tream down the face of West Point Cadet Alix Idrache during the 2016 commencement ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy.

I single him out not because he's unusual, but because he's typical.  All "real Americans" are immigrants or descendants of immigrants.  There is no such thing as an American who is not an immigrant or the descendants of immigrants.

As I have said before, the only people on this continent with the right to demand deportation of immigrants are full-blooded natives, who have a genuine grievance against the interlopers who have ruined their home.

This young man is us.  We are him and we always have been.  It's silly to say immigrants are the best of America, because immigrants are all of America.

From the Herald:
As 2nd Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache stood at attention during the commencement ceremony at West Point, New York, on Saturday, he was overcome with emotion. Tears rolled down both cheeks, but his gloved left hand held firm on his white, gold and black "cover," the dress headgear that Army cadets wear.

The photograph of Idrache, by Army Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant, was published Tuesday on the Facebook page of West Point's U.S. Military Academy, and it almost immediately went viral. Part of that is Idrache's background: He worked his way through one of the nation's most prestigious military schools after immigrating to the United States from Haiti, earning his citizenship and serving for two years as an enlisted soldier with the Maryland Army National Guard, according to Army records.

"I woke up this morning and found my face all over Facebook and with it myriad of amazing comments about my accomplishments," Idrache wrote Tuesday on Facebook. "I am humbled and shocked at the same time. Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth."

Read more here:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Stay Out of West Virginia

West Virginia set the standard for smart moves by states when it seceeded from Confederate Virginia and threw its lot in with the Union.
Its decision-making has been downhill ever since.
Starting today, May 24, 2016, legislation goes into effect that will allow most West Virginia residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit.

They also aren't required to have any training. At all. As in zero. Nadda. Zilch.

That means no safety training with a gun is required. No live-fire training with a gun is required. They aren't even required to watch a 5 minute video on gun safety.

This is insane.

West Virginia is now one of eight states where no permits are required: Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi and Vermont.

I watched some of the video of West Virginians legislators talking about this decision and it boggles my mind this passed.

Friends who carry concealed guns take the required training very, very seriously. One has explained how dangerous it is for people from states with weak or no training requirements to be allowed reciprocity carry with his state.
The people in the conceal carry world hammer on the need for training. I was watching a live fire conceal carry training video today. A guy who regularly carries a gun and spends hours at the firing range froze up and screwed up in a live fire training session. And he knew this training was happening!

But apparently the good legislators from West Virginia know better than the experts in the conceal carry world and their own experts in law enforcement.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Yes, Paul: Your Insulting Labels Are Demonizing and False.

Not to mention missing me and all my Bern-feeling friends.

We're not all white, not all men, not all young, not disaffected, not bitter with Hillary-hate, not pie-in-the-sky dreamers, not BernieBros.

We supported Bernie out of hope for change, if you'll forgive the expression.  We never thought Bernie would get close to the nomination.  But we thought it possible he could change the conversation.

We always knew Hillary would be the nominee. We always knew we would vote for her.  Even those of us who opposed her in 2008 and who still see her militarism as the greatest danger to the republic know we cannot vote repug and cannot sit this one out.

But it gets more difficult to support her when Hillarybots like you insult us like this. It makes us think you don't want our votes.

The point is not to demonize, but, if you like, to de-angelize. Like any political movement (including the Democratic Party, which is, yes, a coalition of interest groups) Sandersism has been an assemblage of people with a variety of motives, not all of them pretty. Here’s a short list based on my own encounters:

1.Genuine idealists: For sure, quite a few Sanders supporters dream of a better society, and for whatever reason – maybe just because they’re very young – are ready to dismiss practical arguments about why all their dreams can’t be accomplished in a day.

2.Romantics: This kind of idealism shades over into something that’s less about changing society than about the fun and ego gratification of being part of The Movement. (Those of us who were students in the 60s and early 70s very much recognize the type.) For a while there – especially for those who didn’t understand delegate math – it felt like a wonderful joy ride, the scrappy young on the march about to overthrow the villainous old. But there’s a thin line between love and hate: when reality began to set in, all too many romantics reacted by descending into bitterness, with angry claims that they were being cheated.

3.Purists: A somewhat different strand in the movement, also familiar to those of us of a certain age, consists of those for whom political activism is less about achieving things and more about striking a personal pose. They are the pure, the unsullied, who reject the corruptions of this world and all those even slightly tainted – which means anyone who actually has gotten anything done. Quite a few Sanders surrogates were Naderites in 2000; the results of that venture don’t bother them, because it was never really about results, only about affirming personal identity.

4.CDS victims: Quite a few Sanders supporters are mainly Clinton-haters, deep in the grip of Clinton Derangement Syndrome; they know that Hillary is corrupt and evil, because that’s what they hear all the time; they don’t realize that the reason it’s what they hear all the time is that right-wing billionaires have spent more than two decades promoting that message. Sanders has gotten a number of votes from conservative Democrats who are voting against her, not for him, and for sure there are liberal supporters who have absorbed the same message, even if they don’t watch Fox News.

5.Salon des Refuses: This is a small group in number, but accounts for a lot of the pro-Sanders commentary, and is of course something I see a lot. What I’m talking about here are policy intellectuals who have for whatever reason been excluded from the inner circles of the Democratic establishment, and saw Sanders as their ticket to the big time. They typically hold heterodox views, but those views don’t have much to do with the campaign – sorry, capital theory disputes from half a century ago aren’t relevant to the debate over health reform. What matters is their outsider status, which gives them an interest in backing an outsider candidate – and makes them reluctant to accept it when that candidate is no longer helping the progressive cause.

So how will this coalition of the not-always disinterested break once it’s over? The genuine idealists will probably realize that whatever their dreams, Trump would be a nightmare. Purists and CDSers won’t back Clinton, but they were never going to anyway. My guess is that disgruntled policy intellectuals will, in the end, generally back Clinton.

The question, as I see it, involves the romantics. How many will give in to their bitterness? A lot may depend on Sanders – and whether he himself is one of those embittered romantics, unable to move on.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Punishing the Poor Just Keeps Them Poor

The policy of deliberate impoverishment is not new; it's been around at least as long as the idea of some people having more than others.

But it's conservative America in which the policy has reached its highest achievement.  Not coincidentally because in America the policy has been from the beginning justified by racism.

One of the two fundamental problems with American welfare policy is that at its core, it assumes that the poor are morally deficient and need to be fixed instead of just poor. So rather than just increase the money in these programs, politicians blather on about the morality of the poor, which is an excuse not to fully fund them.
We know growing up poor is bad for kids. But instead of focusing on the money, U.S. anti-poverty policy often focuses on the perceived moral shortcomings of the poor themselves. We don’t try to address poverty directly, or alleviate it; we simply try to change the way poor people behave, especially poor parents. Specifically, we offer two choices to poor parents if they want to escape poverty: get a job, or get married. Not only does this approach not work, but it’s also a cruel punishment for children who cannot be held responsible for their parents’ decisions.
Policy that addresses poverty by punishing the poor for their perceived misdeeds plays on some popular misunderstandings, especially about marriage and parenting. Many non-poor people mistakenly believe that our lax attitude toward marriage is behind the child poverty problem. That’s why a Heritage Foundation claim that marriage reduces the chance of living in poverty by 82 percent has been a staple on the Republican campaign trail this season, and welfare money has been diverted from alleviating poverty to promoting marriage among the poor.
First, single parenthood doesn’t just cause these social ailments, it also reflects them. Some of these problems are merely the consequence of whatever caused their parents to be single in the first place: poverty, illness, incarceration, weak relationship skills, and so on. In other words, successful people are more likely to raise successful children and to have successful marriages. Research on marriage among poor Americans clearly shows that the majority want to be married, but they aren’t for a variety of reasons related to their poverty. Faced with poor prospects in a marriage partner, some women reason, “I can do bad by myself,” as reported in the book “Promises I Can Keep,” by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas. Some couples place marriage on a pedestal, and plan to postpone it until they are financially stable. As one young man with a pregnant girlfriend put it, “I’d rather get engaged for two years, save money, get a house, make sure … the baby’s got a bedroom.” For too many, however, that moment never arrives.
Poverty clearly lowers the chance of a successful marriage, even as being single may make it harder to escape poverty. This pattern is the subject of a long-running debate among social scientists. Although we can’t agree on the exact breakdown of cause and effect, any reasonable researcher will concede it runs both ways.
But the second answer is perhaps more important for today’s poverty debates. It is that the number of single-parent families doesn’t drive the poverty rate – rather, it mostly helps determine which families and children will be poor, not how many will be. How many people live in poverty is largely the outcome of our policy choices, about jobs and wages, and support for poor families. A key study compared poverty rates and family structure in 18 countries, finding that the United States had the highest rate of poverty among single-mother families – more than 40 percent, compared with 5 or 10 percent in the Nordic countries. No country had as large a difference in poverty rates between single mothers and the rest of the population as the United States – that’s our unique penalty for single parenthood.
This has always been a problem with the nation’s response to the poor. From the early charity programs of the antebellum period to Social Darwinism to the Salvation Army to the present, the poor’s poverty is consistently seen as their own fault and something that can be fixed if we intervene in the right way. So the problem becomes unwed mothers instead of a lack of economic opportunity. Why blame capitalists when you can blame 23 year old women who lack a GED?
Meanwhile what the poor actually need are good-paying jobs for people without college educations, which are fewer and farther between in our outsourced, automated, subcontracted, franchised, temp worker economy.

The other fundamental problem with our welfare policy is racism. While not all the poor are people of color or immigrants, many are. And if West Virginia and eastern Kentucky they are mostly white, we find ways to denigrate them anyway. The problem of the poor is also “the problem of black people.” Or Mexicans. Or the Irish in 1850. Or Italians in 1910. Or whatever. But always black people. Focusing on actual poverty alleviation would mean having to deal with the inequalities at the heart of our society, which means dealing with white supremacy and structural racism. And we can’t be having that, now can we.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

When State Governments Go Bad

Outlawing abortion.  Criminalizing peeing in public restrooms. Restricting religious freedom to freakazoid bigots.

Perhaps there should be a national registry to monitor state governments with a history of committing terrorist acts against the United States. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least eleven.

Friday, May 20, 2016

People Over Share Price

That's how you fight capitalism:  reject the premise.  Refuse to wage a futile battle on the false grounds of Profit Over All.  Demand to fight on the grounds that individuals and communities, not corporations, represent the Highest Value of civilization, and must be treated as such in every decision about our economy, our politics and our future.

Workers before employers. Voters before elected officials.  Customers before corporations. 

People Over Profits.  Every time.

Nancy LeTourneau at Political Animal:

I am reminded of what David Simon said years ago about what he was witnessing that became in inspiration for his HBO series The Wire.
We are in the postindustrial age. We do not need as many of us as we once did. We don’t need us to generate capital, to secure wealth. We are in a transitive period where human beings have lost some of their value. Now, whether or not we can figure out a way to validate the humanity of the individual, I have great doubts…
As for the characters on the program, their lives are less and less necessary. They are more and more expendable. The institutions in which they serve are indifferent to their existence…
I didn’t start out as a cynic, but at every given moment where this country has had a choice - its governments, institutions, corporations, its social framework - to exalt the value of individuals over the value of the shared price, we have chosen raw unencumbered capitalism. Capitalism has become our god. You are not looking at a marxist up here, but you are looking at somebody who doesn’t believe that capitalism can work absent a social framework that accepts that it is relatively easy to marginalize more and more people in this economy. Capitalism has to be attended to. And that has to be a conscious calculation on the part of society, if that is going to succeed. Everywhere we have created an alternate America of haves and have-nots. At some point, either more of us are going to find our conscience or we’re not.
All of that was happening years before the Great Recession and isn’t necessarily a result of trade agreements. It points to the need to attend to capitalism in a way that puts the value of human beings into the equation of our social framework. In other words, it requires that we expand our moral imagination.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Matt Bevin is a Vicious, Lying, Motherfucking Piece of Shit, and This Man Proves It

I TOLD you guv cowardly liar's "felony expungement" law was a bait-and-switch way to forever prevent any real restoration of voting rights.  I TOLD YOU.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — Before sunrise on Tuesday, hours before Democratic voters across Kentucky would head to the polls to cast ballots in the presidential primary, Alonzo Malone Jr. sat awake in bed, writing a letter to President Obama.
The 55-year-old Louisville resident said he was inspired at that hour as he finished watching thefilm Selma, which tells the story of the 1965 marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders who fought for voting rights for African Americans across the United States.
“It’s 3 a.m. in the morning and while many are still sleeping and preparing to get up to exercise their right to vote, I do not have that right to vote,” Malone, who served three years in prison for two felony convictions, wrote to the president.
“I went on to share in the letter that I had a somewhat colorful past, but my life has changed and today I am the pastor of a church and I would love to exercise my right to vote,” he told ThinkProgress, sitting in a Louisville coffee shop later Tuesday morning. He wore a bow tie, vest, and thick-rimmed glasses, behind which his eyes showed little sign of his sleepless night.
“Seeing the struggle of those folks to vote, I was reminded of my dilemma and not being able to vote,” he said, referring to the film and the movement that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Malone is one of more than 140,000 Kentuckians who are permanently disenfranchised because of felony convictions. The commonwealth is one of three states with the strictest felon disenfranchisement laws. Just over five percent of Kentucky’s voting-age population cannot vote because of a felony convictions, but for African Americans, that number is 16.7 percent.
Things were looking up for formerly incarcerated Kentuckians like Malone late last year when former Gov. Steve Beshear (D) set up an application process for people with felony convictions to regain their rights. But few had the opportunity to take advantage of the change. In December, shortly after taking office, current Gov. Matt Bevin (R) issued an executive order undoing the work of his Democratic predecessor, claiming that Beshear had acted beyond his authority.
Last week, Bevin signed legislation that will make it easier for some former felons to have their records expunged, but it does not apply to people like Malone who have more than one conviction on their records.
Meanwhile, Michael Hiser, who's been fighting to get his voting rights back for years, just now got a pardon from the shit squatting in the governor's mansion.

I wonder if you can see the difference between Hiser and Malone.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

KY Dems Oust House DINO While Saving Seat

Now come the hard part: preventing the repugs - who have candidates in 91 of 100 House seats - from netting three Democratic seats in November and turning the beautiful Bluegrass into an all-repug Haitian hellscape.

Two of the 11 state House incumbents facing party opposition Tuesday in Kentucky’s primary election went down to defeat.

Louisville lawmakers Tom Riner, a Democrat, and Ron Crimm, a Republican, lost their bids for re-election.

Riner, a Baptist pastor who has been in the House since 1982, was ousted by Attica Scott, a former member of the Louisville Metro Council, in the 41st House District. She has no opposition in the fall election.

Scott was helped by state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, and former state Rep. Eleanor Jordan, D-Louisville, who signed a direct-mail letter to voters in the district saying Riner didn’t share their values.

Riner has been criticized by some Democrats for not caucusing with House Democrats and for introducing Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to the conservative Liberty Counsel group for legal advice in her battle against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Riner also surprised his House colleagues in 2013 when, in a floor speech, he gave a forceful speech against sexual harassment shortly after two veteran employees filed complaints against a state lawmaker.


Tuesday’s House elections to select party nominees set the stage for a contentious fight between Democrats and Republicans for control of the Kentucky House of Representatives in the Nov. 8 general election.

Republicans think they have a good chance of wresting control of the House from Democrats for the first time since 1921. They fielded candidates in 91 of the 100 House districts up for election this year.

Republicans now control the state Senate and the governor’s office. The Kentucky House is the last legislative chamber in the South with a majority of Democrats.


Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the state House 53-47 after winning three of four special elections in March.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Road to Dominionism

Still doubt this is what's on the way?

David Barton Will Train Christians To Take Control Of Government And Transform America Into The 'Nation That God Wants It To Be' | Right Wing Watch

“Last month, we noted that right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton plans to launch a "School of Practical Government” at Andrew Wommack’s Charis Bible College in Colorado, which will be based heavily in Seven Mountains dominionism.

Seven Mountains theology teaches that conservative Christians are to take control of the seven primary institutions, or “mountains,” that shape and control our culture — (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion — and use them to implement biblical standards and spread the Gospel.

In a promotional video from the new school, Barton again specifically linked it to Seven Mountains theology, saying that Christians are commanded to take control of the Seven Mountains but have failed to do so when it comes to government, which is why he is launching a school of “practical” government to train people on how to do just that…“


To those prepared to engage in (Abrahamic) child sacrifice…speaking out against child sacrifice…is blasphemy…
To those prepared to engage in (Hebrew) animal sacrifice…speaking out against animal sacrifice…is blasphemy…
To those prepared to engage in (Christian) human/deity sacrifice…and ritual cannibalism (eating it’s flesh and drinking it’s blood)…speaking out against human/deity sacrifice and ritual cannibalism…is blasphemy…
To those prepared to engage in (Televangelist) fleecing the gullible……speaking out against fleecing the gullible …is blasphemy…
Everyone’s freedom of expression…requires scrubbing legislation of any sectarian religious coercion…of other/different believers, or non-believers…

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bevin Terrified of Tinkling Trans

As Trevor Noah pointed on the Daily Show, we've all been sharing public toilets with transwomen and transmen all our lives.

Also, that the number of attacks by trans people on cis people in public toilets has now reached a grand total of - wait for it - zero.

In the entire country.

I don't know what Governor Lying Coward's bathroom fears are and I don't want to know.

I do know that these ridiculous bathroom bills have nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with forcing trans people back into the shadows.

From the public statement:

FRANKFORT, KY (May 13, 2016) – Governor Matt Bevin released the following statement regarding President Obama’s proposed bathroom rules for public schools:

“It is difficult to imagine a more absurd federal overreach into a local issue.  Under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the federal government has no authority to interfere in local school districts' bathroom policies. The President is not promoting unity. In fact, he is doing quite the opposite. He is intentionally dividing America by threatening to sue or withhold funding from our cash-strapped public schools if they do not agree with his personal opinion on policies that remain squarely in their jurisdiction. They should not feel compelled to bow to such intimidation. My administration is researching the options available for ensuring that this local issue is decided by Kentuckians, not by bureaucrats in Washington.”

The Real Price of Louisiana's Medicaid Expansion Is Thousands of Women Dead From Illegal Abortions

Yeah, Louisiana has a Democratic governor who expanded Medicaid for a quarter-million people.  But it's never white men who pay the price.

As Digby has so often written, when DINO Dems prevail, women always suffer.  Because whenever dems think they have to give up something in negotiation, somehow it's always women's reproductive rights.  Because who cares about those.

The Louisiana legislature on Wednesday passed a bill requiring women to wait three days before receiving an abortion, tripling the state’s existing waiting time in one of the most stringent regulations of its kind nationally.

Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign the bill championed by anti-abortion groups. It passed with wide support from the Republican-controlled legislature.

The bill requires a woman to wait at least 72 hours after a state-mandated ultrasound for the procedure. The current waiting time is 24 hours, the same as in most states with waiting periods.

Only five other states require 72-hour waiting periods: Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah.

The measures are among a wave of laws being adopted by states as conservatives seek to chip away at the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion.

Opponents of the legislation see it as the latest attempt to block women’s access to abortions.

“Politicians in Louisiana have made it their mission to restrict access to safe and legal health care — with women in the state left to pay the price,” Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement, urging the governor to veto the measure.

Louisiana also requires women to make two separate visits to a clinic to obtain an abortion, seen as an additional burden on women forced to take extra time off work and away from families, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health policy.


Friday, May 13, 2016

War in Kentucky on Freethought and Free Speech, Not Freakazoids

And big fat raspberries to the billboard companies too cowardly or freakazoid to take Atheist money.
A group of atheists based in Northern Kentucky raised $10,000 for a billboard protesting the soon-to-open Ark Encounter amusement park, a place where Christian scripture is taken so literally that a Noah’s Ark replica is being built using ancient measurements called “cubits.”

But two billboard companies have rejected the Tri-State Freethinkers’ interpretation of the story of Noah’s Ark as one of “genocide and incest.”

The proposed billboard design shows a Noah’s Ark with people drowning around it and the words “Genocide and Incest Park: Celebrating 2,000 years of myths.”

The advertisement has been turned down by Lamar, a national billboard company, and Event Advertising and Promotions LLC, a mobile billboard company.

“We default to accepting most all copy, but if there’s something we deem not appropriate then we don’t run it,” said Tom Fahey, manager of the Cincinnati office of Lamar. “It seemed more inflammatory in nature than anything else.”
Really?  How do you feel about child abuse, motherfucker?  Because that's what those freakazoid assholes are committing.
Event Advertising and Promotions told the Tri-State Freethinkers that the company was worried about its drivers’ personal safety, said Jim Helton, president of Tri-State Freethinkers. Company officials did not return calls seeking comment.
So, they're afraid the freakazoids will attack the drivers for working for a company that accepts filthy lucre from Atheists?  Who's the abuser in that scenario?  

And the company sure wasn't afraid of Atheists and liberals attacking them for taking filthy freakazoid money to display motherfucking lies and insults on their billboards.
In 2014, Lamar displayed several billboards around the state from Ark Encounter with the statement: “To all of our intolerant liberal friends: Thank God you can’t sink this ship.”
Helton said the 1,500 members of his group from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana oppose the amusement park for several reasons, including its policy of hiring only devout Christians. The park recently received approval to claim $18 million in state sales tax credits, which Helton said is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s requirement for separation of church and state.

The Freethinkers also contend that the story of Noah’s Ark is not appropriate for children.

“God killed everyone,” Helton said. “And the second time he populated the world through incest,” because everyone was descended from Noah.

“We’re not saying they can’t build it, but it’s not an appropriate family park,” Helton said.

The Freethinkers formed in 2013, and soon made themselves known to Answers in Genesis, the parent company of the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, by adopting the highway in front of the museum.
Helton said the group managed to raise the $10,000 in just a few days on the crowd-funding website IndieGoGo, and they continue to look for someone to display their billboard. He hopes the campaign will pick up national traction, especially since the Ark Encounter is not expected to hire openly gay employees.

“We had a record number of memberships once we said we’d do this,” Helton said.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Low Turnout Elects Repugs: Get the Fuck Out and Vote

Yes, low turnout elects them in primaries, too, when Democratic voters sit and home instead of voting for our strongest candidates.

I'm not talking about Bernie vs. Hillary.  I'm talking about the Democratic majority in the state House, which is the only thing standing between us and Haiti. Every state representative in Kentucky is up for re-election. The Dems have a three-vote margin, which is standing with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

Get. Out. And. Vote.  Tuesday, May 17, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Find out where here.

Adam Beam, AP:
Kentucky's top election official says she expects 20 percent of Kentucky's more than 3.2 million registered voters to cast ballots in Tuesday's primary elections.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said more than 12,000 people have already cast absentee ballots for a host of local, state and federal races. Of those, 7,533 were cast by registered Democrats and 4,821 were cast by registered Republicans.

A 20 percent turnout would be about average for the past three primary elections in presidential election years. Turnout in the 2004 and 2012 primary elections was 14 percent and 13.9 percent respectively. Turnout in the 2008 primary election was 32.2 percent, the same year Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were locked in a fierce battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Kentucky has closed primary elections, meaning only registered Republican voters can vote in Republican primaries and only registered Democratic voters can vote in Democratic primaries. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Beware polls of Kentucky "Democrats"

Kentucky's primary is Tuesday.  Before pissed-off coal miners in West Virginia handed that state's Democratic primary to Bernie Sanders, I would not have given him a chance here in Clinton Country.

But apparently Secretary Clinton's misinterpreted remark about coal jobs hit hard in the Mountain State.  Coal miners - even unemployed ones - are a much smaller percentage of the population here in Kentucky than they are in West Virginia, so I still expect her to win.

Next Tuesday and in November.

Back in March, David Atkins wrote at Political Animal about a poll of Kentucky voters.

The poll also shows Donald Trump capturing a surprising percentage of Democratic primary voters in head-to-head general election matchups against both candidates. Donald Trump receives a shocking 37% of the Kentucky Democratic primary vote in a hypothetical contest against Clinton, and 38% against Sanders.
No.  Donald Trump received in this pretend vote precisely zero percent of the actual Democratic vote. If Donald Trump gets the actual repug nomination, he might possibly take Kentucky even against Hillary Clinton, but not because he'll get any actual Democratic votes. 
Kentucky conservatards have been registering Democratic since Jefferson beat Adams in 1800. They stopped voting Democratic in federal races in 1966. But they're still registered Democratic because that's what their traitors-in-defense-of-slavery great-great-grandpappies did, because it lets them fuck with the Democratic primary, because it lets them laugh every year at the pundits who think Kentucky's going blue because voter registration is majority Democratic and because it drives actual Democratic voters like me around the bend.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Doing Justice

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch concluding her announcement about suing the ever-loving shit out of the state of North Carolina:
Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.
Now that's what I call a Department of Justice.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Justice Dept. to Locals: Stop Fleecing the Poor

Are you old enough and Southern enough to remember referring to impoverished white people as "white trash"?

That racist expression distinguished people who were trashy but white from people who were just trashy - that is, all non-white people.  Blacks in the South east of the Mississippi; Blacks, Mexicans and American Indians west of it.

The need to distinguish white trash from regular trash arose from the legal and social structures that sought to punish economically all non-whites - who were almost all poor - but which sometimes swept up poor whites, too.

After 150 years, the U.S. Justice Department might finally put an end to at least that vestige of slavery and Jim Crow.

(In March), officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to chief justices and court administrators across the country warning them against operating modern-day debtors’ prisons and deploying other tactics that harm the poor.

In the letter, Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Civil Rights division, and Lisa Foster, director of the office for access to justice, warn against seven practices that turn courthouses into a source of revenue, rather than justice.

The letter reiterates that courts shouldn’t jail people who don’t pay fines and fees levied by the court without first determining whether they are able to pay. It says that courts should also consider options for those who can’t afford to pay the fines and fees that don’t include jail time. The letter mentions money bail schemes that result in poor people being jailed “solely because they cannot afford to pay for their release,” and condemns the use of arrest warrants or drivers license suspensions as a way to coerce people into paying. Those tactics make it more likely that the poor will be arrested, fined, and jailed simply because they couldn’t afford what they were charged with in the first place — while also making it likely they will miss work and fall further behind on payments.

In some places, the letter notes, defendants can’t even start a judicial hearing until their debts are cleared, an “unconstitutional practice” that is “often framed as a routine administrative matter.” The letter also warns against the practice of using private companies to enforce debt collection or probation, allowing them to profit from discretionary fines tacked on top of what defendants owe courts.

“Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape,” the letter says. “Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared not toward addressing public safety, but rather toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.”


While debtors prisons were abolished in the 1800s and Supreme Court cases found that jailing people because they can’t pay debts without assessing their ability to pay violates the constitution, these practices have seen a resurgence across the country. Courts, particularly those in municipalities that are strapped for resources, levy fines and fees against defendants, and when they can’t pay often put them in jail until they can come up with the sum. Other municipalities turn the debtors over to private probation companies that can tack on fines and fees to what the defendants already owe at their discretion and have been accused of using intimidation tactics like threatening jail time to get clients to pay up. Yet those who have the resources to pay court fees on the spot can avoid jail time and probation.


The department has also had its eye on problems with the money bail system. “When bail is set unreasonably high, people are behind bars only because they are poor,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at the White House in December. “Not because they’re a danger or a flight risk — only because they are poor. They don’t have money to get out of jail, and they certainly don’t have money to flee anywhere. Other people who do have the means can avoid the system setting inequality in place from the beginning.”

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Something Much Deeper

From Pharyngula

Deporting Immigrants Will Crash the Economy

Even if the deportations manage to avoid immigrants here legally, which would be nearly impossible, the effect on our economy will be catastrophic.  And that's not counting the enormous cost of rounding up and shipping out 11 million men, women and children.

Immigration briefly seized the podium at the Florida Democratic debate, with both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton trying to calibrate their message toward Latino voters by vowing to pursue a more humane immigration policy and critiquing President Obama’s record of mass deportations. Still, there was precious little discussion of undocumented immigrants as anything but a problem to be dealt with.

The candidates could have looked at new economic data showing that in Florida, undocumented immigrants contributed some $588 million annually in state and local taxes. That revenue, which is paid by people who are powering the local economy like all other Floridians are, through their labor and consumption, is drawn from sales and excises taxes ($454 million) and property taxes ($134 million).

Altogether, according to the fiscal analysis—published by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP)—undocumented immigrants contribute about $11.6 billion to the economy annually, including nearly $7 billion in sales and excise taxes and $3.6 billion in property taxes. They are, in economic terms, productive citizens, and pay a higher effective tax rate than the top one percent income bracket. That alone is not the primary reason they should be embraced as neighbors and coworkers. But it dissolves the myth that immigrants do nothing but drain public coffers.
Not to mention that undocumented immigrants still pay into the social security and medicare systems with no hope of being able to draw from them, thus funding the retirement and health care of all the white, repug,Trump-voting olds screaming for deportation.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Only Government Can Protect Your Water

Quote of the Week.

President Obama in Flint, via Wonkette:
But volunteers don’t build county water systems, and keep lead from leaching into our drinking glasses. We cannot rely on faith groups to reinforce bridges and repave runways at the airport. We can’t ask second graders — even ones as patriotic as Isaiah Britt who raise all that money — to raise enough money to keep our kids healthy. You hear a lot about government overreach … Listen, it’s not government overreach to say our government is responsible to make sure you can wash your hands in your own sink, or shower in your own home, or cook for your family. These are the most basic services. There is no more basic element to sustaining human life than water. It’s not too much to expect for all Americans that their water’s gonna be safe.

KY Missed Chance to Jump On Big Anti-Choice Bandwagon

Not a single anti-choice or sex-panic or guns in kindergarten bill got so much as a vote in the Kentucky General Assembly this year.  I don't understand.  All the repug freakazoid anit-sex women-hating states are doing it!

I keep hearing that the Republican Party will never be the same after the rise of Donald Trump. I'm told that litmus-test conservatism is dead and that the party is in utter disarray.

I hear that, and then I read something like this:
Voters would get a say on whether fetuses should be given constitutional rights under a measure that won first-round approval in the Missouri House on Tuesday.

The House voted 112-36 to advance the legislation....

Opponents said the resolution was the most extreme abortion-related proposal the Legislature has taken up this year, potentially outlawing abortion in cases of rape or when the life of a mother is in jeopardy. They also said it could make contraception illegal in the state.

“This bill doesn’t just take the issue over the edge of the cliff,” said Rep. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City. “It rockets the issue into outer space.”
This is happening shortly after the Oklahoma House voted to effectively ban abortion:
Oklahoma is dangerously close to making abortion illegal. The state passed a bill in the State Senate this March and in the House of Representatives just last week that makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions, the only exception being if a woman’s life is in danger or she’s already had a miscarriage that they’re removing. The bill is an amendment to the state’s description of what’s considered “unprofessional conduct” by a physician. Now, “performance of abortion” is included in that description, unless it’s necessary to “preserve the life of the mother.” There’s no other exception -- not even rape.
Elsewhere, Republican-dominated states are enacting gun laws so extreme that even Southern police chiefs oppose them:
In more than a dozen states with traditions of robust support for gun ownership rights, and where legislatures have moved to relax gun laws during the past year, the local police have become increasingly vocal in denouncing the measures. They say the new laws expose officers to greater danger and prevent them from doing their jobs effectively.

“We are a gun society and we recognize that, but we should be writing gun laws that make us safer,” said Leonard Papania, the police chief in Gulfport, who opposes part of a new state law that creates exceptions to the rules for concealed-carry permits. “Do you want every incident on your street to escalate to acts of gun violence?”
And, of course, Republicans such as North Carolina governor Pat McCrory still defiantly defend transphobic laws regarding public bathrooms.

All this is striking for two reasons. First, we're being told that the Republican Party is falling apart, riven by internal conflict. We certainly see that in the presidential campaign -- but where's the evidence of it in the states?
But but but Kentucky!  Our repug freakazoid asshole "governor" Matt Bevin would have signed all the anti-women, anti-sex, pro-guns-for-toddlers bills they brought him!
Maybe they'e just waiting until after November, when repugs will sweep the state House elections and kill all the Democrats forever.  Then they can turn the Commonwealth into Kansas/Haiti without having to listen to whining from the House dems.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pouring Fucking Prayers in Kentucky

Just the latest proof that if you are not a freakazoid of the white, male, straight, rich, christian repug flavor, you are not welcome in the Bluegrass State.

From the Herald:

Evangelist Franklin Graham urged Christians in Kentucky to get more involved in political elections Wednesday during a prayer rally on the steps of the Kentucky Capitol.

His “Decision America Tour,” an effort to hold events at every state capital this year, said it attracted about 5,800 people to the front terrace of the Capitol for about 40 minutes of singing, praying and listening to Graham, the son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham.

“We’re all here today because we know that our country is in trouble,” Franklin Graham told the crowd. “We are in trouble spiritually, racially, economically, politically and there’s no political party that is going to turn this thing around.”

He said he has “zero hope” in the Democratic and Republican parties. “The only hope for the United States of America is almighty God.”

He urged attendees to pray and confess to God the sins of the nation, specifically mentioning abortion, same-sex marriage, pride, worship of profits, racism, lack of concern for the poor and entertainment that displays sex and violence.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was among those who attended the event. “It is an honor to have him here and it means a lot to the people of Kentucky,” Bevin said in a statement. “It’s significant what he is doing, what he is encouraging people to focus on and I hope it inspires people to take action.”
 Pay your fucking taxes, Graham, you criminal. You just shit all over your tax-exempt status.

As for Governor Lying Coward, he is right now leading an Only-Us-Freakazoids-Are-Fully-Human prayer clusterfuck at the Capitol.

From the Media Advisory:
Gov. Matt Bevin will hold a National Day of Prayer event and proclamation signing Thurs. at noon on the front steps of the State Capitol.

The annual event will be filled with prayer for our state and nation and for leaders in the areas of government, church, military, family, education, media and business. The event will open with the blowing of the shofar to summon us to prayer, posting of the national colors and the national anthem. Gov. Bevin will then read the proclamation and pray for our state. Additional prayers will follow.

Gov. Bevin will be available at the conclusion of the event for media interviews.

WHO:             Gov. Matt Bevin
                        Allison Ball, State Treasurer
                        Spike Latimer, State Coordinator
Ky. National Guard Color Guard

WHAT:          National Day of Prayer Capitol Event and Proclamation Signing

WHEN:          Thurs., May 5, 2016 at noon ET

WHERE:       Front Steps of the State Capitol
If that's not an unconstitutional "establishment of religion" I don't know what is.

Yeah, Beshear did it too.  Shame on him.  Doesn't excuse Bevin. Or Ball. Or the National Guard.

Why the Moral Justice Movement Rejects People Like Me

Because its most prominent leader thinks that only religious people have morals.

I admire Rev. William Barber.  What he's started in North Carolina and is spreading across the country is already a huge achievement and may turn out to be, indeed, the Third Reconstruction.

So I was eager to read his book of that name, to learn about the years-long organizing that led to Moral Mondays and how he drew hundreds of thousands of people to it in what Charlie Pierce calls "the consistently insane state of North Carolina."

Unfortunately, his own words in this book put the lie to his claims of having a truly "fusion" coalition that welcomes and values everyone.

The book jacket's summary describes the movement as uniting "black, white and brown, rich and poor, employed and unemployed, gay and straight, documented and undocumented, religious and secular." (my emphasis.)

But that's not how Barber himself describes it.  Rather, he writes that his coalition "welcomes people of all faiths, as well as those who struggle with faith."

He repeats that sentiment several times in the book, but never once uses the word "secular." Or "humanist." Or "agnostic." And of course never "atheist."

Is he really under the impression that seculars, humanists, agnostics and atheists "struggle with faith?"  Of course not.  He is an intelligent, educated, cosmopolitan man.  He uses "struggle with faith" deliberately and advisedly, to belittle and exclude those of us who do not share his baseless belief in an invisible sky wizard who runs the world.

He even used a prominent atheist to tell a monstrous lie on national television.  In an attempt to "fit in" on Bill Maher's show, he claimed he himself was an atheist because he didn't believe in the "god" of hating poor people, immigrants and "gay folks."

As atheists like to point out, "people of faith" disbelieve in tens of thousands of gods.  We just disbelieve in one more than they do. Barber adding the god of hate to his disbelief list of tens of thousands while keeping babby jeebus doesn't make him an atheist.

Of course there are seculars, humanists, agnostics and atheists in the moral justice movement, even the religious-only one Barber has established in North Carolina.

That's because we of no faith have always been the worker bees of every movement for justice - racial, economic, social, political, sexual, environmental and especially moral.

Because morality is not, never has been and never will be the exclusive province of the religious.

Not that the religious will ever admit that.

So we the moral godless toil anonymously in the movement, unacknowledged at best, disrespected and despised at worst.

Shame on you, Rev. Barber.  Without the moral godless, your movement would have died in the cradle.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Forget the Money: The Problem is Corporate Personhood

Don't be distracted by the hysteria about the billions of dollars corporations are pouring into political campaigns, both national and local.

First, it's not the majority of political money. Via Political Animal:

Nick Penniman and Wendell Potter wrote an op-ed in the LA Times today titled: Citizens United is Only 15% of the Political Cash Problem.
According to theBut Center for Responsive Politics, of the $3.7 billion spent in the 2014 congressional midterms, super PACs, nonprofits and other outside spenders made up around $560 million, or roughly 15%. In contrast, $1.5 billion, or 42%, was spent by candidates themselves, with the rest left to party committees.
Two other inside-the-Beltway terms — call time and the cash committee — illustrate why hard money is the core problem…
Overturning Citizens United or regulating super PACs would, alas, do nothing to free our politicians from this frenetic fundraising. That can only be accomplished by cutting the ties between lobbyists and legislators and redirecting politicians’ time and energy toward small donors. 
Far more importantly, the real harm of Citizens United is in its legitimization of corporate personhood.

The only way the corporatist conservatives on the Supreme Court could justify allowing corporations to give as much money as they wanted to political candidates - to literally buy elections - was to give corporations the same rights that the U.S. Constitution gives to individual people.

And the only way to do that was to declare - in violation of face of logic, common sense, biology, democracy, justice and the plain meaning of the First Amendment - that corporations are, indeed, people.

Yet such corporate personhood does far worse than allow corporations to buy elections. It erases all protections actual people have against the power of corporations. And it opens the door to abominations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has little to do with trade and everything to do with giving multinational corporations the power to eliminate national sovereignty by overturning any law that costs a corporation a penny in income.

That would be minimum wages, worker safety, food safety, clean water, clean air, anti-pollution, property rights, health care, education and even gun rights.  Anything that any company can claim reduces their profits by a single penny can be outlawed under TPP.  Thanks to Citizens United.