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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Daily Drift

Ahem ...!
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Today in History

1527 German troops begin sacking Rome. Libraries are destroyed, the Pope is captured and thousands are killed.
1529 Babur defeats the Afgan Chiefs in the Battle of Ghagra, India.
1682 King Louis XIV moves his court to Versailles, France.
1856 U.S. Army troops from Fort Tejon and Fort Miller prepare to ride out to protect Keyesville, California, from Yokut Indian attack.
1861 Arkansas becomes the ninth state to secede from the Union.
1862 Henry David Thoreau dies of tuberculosis at age 44.
1864 In the second day of the Battle of Wilderness between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Confederate Gen. James Longstreet is wounded by his own men.
1877 Chief Crazy Horse surrenders to U.S. troops in Nebraska.Crazy Horse brought General Custer to his end.
1937 The dirigible Hindenburg explodes in flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey.
1941 Bob Hope gives his first USO show at California's March Field.
1942 General Jonathan Wainwright surrenders Corregidor to the Japanese.
1944 The Red Army besieges and captures Sevastopol in the Crimea.
1945 Axis Sally makes her final propaganda broadcast to Allied troops.
1954 British runner Roger Banister breaks the four minute mile.
1960 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1960.
1962 The first nuclear warhead is fired from a Polaris submarine.
1994 The Channel Tunnel linking England to France is officially opened.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That JP Morgan admits trickle down economics  has completely failed
That New Jersey rejects Atheist license plates, accepts baptist ones
That the heartland institute misquotes George Carlin; gets royally busted
That the daily caller is servicing the creepy old dude demographic
About life as a McDonalds worker
That the prop 8 defense attorney reveals his daughter is gay and getting married
That China bans the Big Bang Theory and 3 other shows
About these 25 companies that spent more on lobbyists than taxes
That Obamacare is outselling playstation 4
That the repugicans would prefer a minimum wage of zero dollars per hour
That Matt Drudge deletes tweet incorrectly claiming clippers owner is a Democrat
That the majority of doctors think marijuana should be legal
That more than a fifth of America's children go hungry
That America's middle class is no longer the world's richest
These 6 studies prove everything repugicans know is wrong
That Apple's new commercial features a song about a large penis
That Indiana and Tennessee have the most meth labs
That New York City is considering a $15/hr minimum wage
That Paul Ryan wouldn't let poor people testify at a hearing on poverty
About gun rights as a cultural touchstone
About the progressive revolt in American cities
That this court reporter really, really hated his job
That in the new Star Wars movies: who needs girls?
About the private prison industry's alarming spread across America
About how the obscenely wealthy are strangling our democracy
That NYC cops get drunk and shoot civilians

The First Protest March on Washington, D.C.

On May the first, 1894, 120 years ago, a group of protesters called “Coxey’s Army” descended on Washington to protest income inequality. It was the first such protest the nation had ever seen. And the conditions that led to it may sound familiar.
The year before the 1894 march, the economy had crashed catastrophically. Unemployment shot up to over ten percent and stayed there for half a decade. In an industrializing economy, the very idea of joblessness was new and terrifying. There was no safety net, no unemployment insurance and few charities. A week without work meant hunger.

Suddenly panhandlers were everywhere. Chicago prisons swelled with men who purposefully set out to be arrested just to have a warm place to survive the winter. The homeless were blamed for their circumstances, thrown into workhouses for “vagrancy,” punished with 30 days of hard labor for the crime of losing their job. The wealthy took little pity. The fashionable attended “Hard Times Balls,” where a sack of flour was awarded to the guest wearing the most convincing hobo costume.

Jacob Coxey, a witty Ohio businessman and perennial candidate for office, thought he had a solution. He proposed a “Good Roads Bill,” a Federal project to help the unemployed and to give the poor the work that they needed, while also helping to maintain and improve America’s infrastructure. Coxey’s idea was radically ahead of its time—four decades ahead of FDR’s New Deal programs. But Coxey had faith in his plan, declaring: “Congress takes two years to vote on anything. Twenty-millions of people are hungry and cannot wait two years to eat.”
All kinds of people came from all over the country to join in the march. As they made their way to Washington, they gathered together in ever-enlarging groups that frightened the elite with threats of class warfare. Read about the march and find out what happened when they approached the Capitol, at Smithsonian.

When Political Conventions Go Wild

4 Knock-Down, Drag-Out Convention Floor Fights

1. The Convention Turned Klanbake

For Americans accustomed to today’s tame, scripted political conventions, the 1924 Democratic Convention went down more like a taping of The Jerry Springer Show. On one side was New York Governor Al Smith, supported by urban, Catholic voters who favored his efforts to repeal prohibition. On the other side was former Treasury Secretary William McAdoo, who drew the rural, Protestant, anti-alcohol supporters—a contingent that included the Ku Klux Klan.
A powerful political force at the time, the Klan had vowed to defeat the Catholic Smith. As politicians on both sides made speeches on the convention floor, hooded Klansmen standing outside burned a cross and defaced effigies of Smith. When a group of outraged delegates motioned to officially condemn the Klan for its actions, the convention plunged into chaos, with pro- and anti-Klan delegates shouting each other off the podium and breaking into noisy parades. Eventually, police had to be called in to restore order. The Klan measure failed by just one vote, but that was only a prelude to the nomination fight.
The delegates voted a record 103 times, with neither Smith nor McAdoo able to secure a majority. After 16 turbulent days, both candidates agreed to step aside, and the party settled on another nominee—former Solicitor General John Davis.

2. The Southerners Stage a Walk-Out

The 1860 Democratic Convention was a civil war all its own. Southern Democrats faced off with their Northern counterparts, demanding that the party endorse a federal slavery code. When neither side budged, the debate digressed into a convention-wide shouting match. “The house was in an uproar,” noted one reporter, with “a hundred delegates upon the floor and up on chairs, screaming like panthers and gesticulating like monkeys.” When it finally appeared that the Northerners had enough votes to kill the slavery platform, the Southerners responded by walking out.
Without enough delegates left to nominate Stephen Douglas (or anyone else), the convention had to be abandoned. Seven weeks later, the Northern Democrats reconvened to nominate Douglas, while the irate walk-outs held their own convention to nominate pro-slavery candidate John C. Breckinridge. With two Democrats on the ballot that year, repugican Abraham Lincoln strode to an easy victory. But the convention dust never quite settled, and much of the South seceded from the union before Lincoln’s inauguration.

3. Teddy Roosevelt’s Temper Tantrum

Theodore Roosevelt left office in 1909, passing the torch to fellow repugican William Taft. But Roosevelt regretted his endorsement after he soured on Taft’s wingnut, pro-business policies, and he became determined to regain his seat in office. Taking on his fellow repugican [in 1912], Roosevelt and his progressive-wing followers waged a reform campaign that trounced Taft in the primaries. But Taft, who controlled the repugican national cabal, stacked the convention with his own delegates. An incensed Roosevelt attended the convention in person (not customary at the time) and delivered a blistering speech in which he called Taft a thief and declared, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the lord!” When the delegates backed Taft, Roosevelt bolted from the repugican cabal altogether and ran as a third-party candidate. In the end, both men were defeated by Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

4. The Accidental President

When delegates gathered at the 1880 repugican Convention, they had to choose between the party’s three primary front-runners. Instead, they picked someone who didn’t even want the job. For a while, it looked like a battle between Ulysses S. Grant, who was running for reelection after leaving office for a term, and Maine Senator James G. Blaine. The third candidate, John Sherman, was notoriously uncharismatic and didn’t stand a chance. But his biggest supporter, Senator James A. Garfield, was quite the opposite.
After a full day of voting, it became clear that neither Grant nor Blaine could win, so the delegates searched for a compromise candidate. Uninspired by Sherman, they rallied around his messenger. Even as Garfield continued to pledge his support for Sherman and tried to remove his own name from contention, he was awarded the nomination on the 36th ballot. Upon his victory, a reporter described Garfield as “pale as death” and “half-unconscious.” He went on to win the presidency.

Dear wingnuts: If You Want to Live in a Theocracy, Get the Hell Out of the United States

by Allen Clifton
crossThe word “freedom” is something I don’t think most wingnuts understand.  While it can be subjective at times (I wouldn’t recommend yelling “bomb” in an airport, for instance) it’s not really that difficult of a concept to grasp.  Especially when it comes to religion.
See, in this country, religion is meant to be a private matter.  After all, isn’t that much simpler?  Even those who believe that this country was founded on christianity can’t tell me what denomination we should follow.  Because the fact of the matter is, catholics and baptists (while both christians) practice their faiths very differently.
“Religious freedom,” as wingnuts like to call it, means that privately we’re allowed to identify with whatever religion we want to identify with.  That doesn’t mean, however, that we’re allowed to discriminate against people just because we disagree with them.
Our Constitution, as subjective as it might be, presents one undeniable fact – the words christianity, christian, god or jesus christ appear within its text not even once.
So, if the United States is indeed a “christian nation,” our Founding Fathers sure as hell forgot to mention that.
But the truth of the matter is, wingnuts don’t want to live in a nation based on liberty and freedom – they want to live in a theocracy.  They want a nation and government based on religion.
And if that’s what they want then they need to get the hell out of the United States, because this isn’t a nation based on theocracy.  Our Founding Fathers made that perfectly clear when they wrote our First Amendment.
If they want to practice whatever religion they want, in the privacy of their own homes (or churches), by all means go right ahead. But that doesn’t give them the right to force their narrow-minded religious beliefs on those who don’t agree with them.
I always find it funny how these religio-wingnut radicals talk about how much they love this country, yet seem to hate the principles on which it was founded.  It’s especially ironic considering a large part of why this nation was founded in the first place was to escape religious persecution from a tyrannical form of government.
But for some reason these people still seem to believe that restricting their “right” to discriminate against others based on their religion is somehow an infringement on their rights.  Basically, their attempts to infringe on another person’s rights are being infringed upon and that’s ticking them off.
So to these people, I say – get the hell out.  If you think a government based on theocracy would be so wonderful, by all means, go check out Iran and Saudi Arabia then come back and tell me how “free” the people of those two nations are.
Because that’s what these people seem unable to understand.  The words “freedom” and “religion” are complete contradictions.  Religion is about control – not freedom.  You can’t say you support freedom, while trying to control people with your religion.  Because that doesn’t make any damn sense.

Four Ultra-Orthodox jews Arrested for Attacking Gay Man in Brooklyn

by Taylor Berman

Four Hasidic Jews have been arrested for attacking a 22-year-old gay man in Williamsburg last December.
Two of the four suspects had fled to Israel. All four are expected to be arraigned on Wednesday, and more suspects will likely be arrested in the coming days.
Early December 1, Taj Patterson was attacked as he walked home from a party in Williamsburg. Patterson said he was jumped by about 20 Hasidic men, who allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs-"Stay down, faggot!"-as they beat him.
"I'm walking down some block by myself and then the next thing I know, I'm surrounded by a group of Hasidic Jewish men and they're attacking me," Patterson told Gothamist in December. "I was alone. I was an easy target. I'm black. I'm gay, a whole slew of reasons."
Based on witnesses' accounts of their clothes, the assailants may have belonged to Williamsburg Shomrim, a Hasidic neighborhood watch group.
After the attack Patterson was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for a broken eye socket, a torn retina, and blood clotting.
Aharon Hollender, 28, Abraham Winkler, 39, Mayer Herskovic, 21, and Joseph Fried, 25, were charged with gang assault and other counts, but not with any hate crimes, sources said.
Just because those guilty of this crime are members of a 'persecuted' group does not give them the right to persecute others!

Faux News sends reporter to ask NBA if punishing racists is a 'slippery slope'

by David Edwards

Jo Ling Kent, a reporter for Megyn Kelly's Faux News show, was the first and possibly only voice offering a defense for Donald Sterling at Tuesday's NBA press conference by asking the commissioner if it was a "slippery slope" to punish him for racist comments.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced at the Tuesday press conference that Sterling had been banned from the league for life, and would be fined $2.5 million after audio tape emerged of the billionaire allegedly telling his girlfriend not to bring African-Americans to his basketball games.
Following those announcements, Silver invited questions from reporters.
Many journalists, like Inside Edition's Lisa Guerrero, wanted to know why the NBA had not acted sooner. Others wanted to know how quickly league owners could force Sterling to sell the LA Clippers.
But Kent became the first to offer what sounded like a defense of the accused racist.
"Should someone lose their team for remarks shared in private?" she asked. "Is this a slippery slope?"
"Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they are now public," Silver explained. "And they represent his views."

Leave it to Faux News to support the racists

Cliven Bundy supporters are setting up 'checkpoints' against residents

by Arturo Garcia

A Nevada congressman contacted law enforcement saying supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy have set up checkpoints for drivers' "residency" before letting them pass, KVVU-TV reported on Monday.
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) expressed his concerns in a letter to Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, citing comments from his constituents in the state's 4th congressional district, which includes Bunkerville, the site of the camp that sprung up following Bundy's declaration of defiance against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) earlier this month.
"We must respect individual constitutional liberties, but residents of and visitors to Clark County should not be expected to live under the persistent watch of an armed militia," Horsford wrote. "Residents have expressed their desire to see these groups leave their community."
Horford also stated in the letter that, according to constituents, members of militia groups have also "established a presence" on both highways in the area and churches and schools.
Buoyed by early support from conservative media, Bundy's dispute with the BLM won him support from several self-avowed militia members and anti-government advocates, including James Yeager, the guns and weapon training company leader who threatened to "start killing people" last year over the prospect of stiffer gun safety laws and the group known as the "Oath Keepers."
But first-person accounts from the camp posted on the Daily Kos suggest a rift has developed, with Oath Keepers members reportedly being barred by individuals identifying themselves as the Bundy camp's security leaders.
"This man and the gentlemen that obeyed that order violated my personal creed," one leader was quoted as saying. "You don't fucking walk in and say "I'm sorry' and you're back in brother. You can walk in and say you're sorry and you're lucky you're not getting shot in the back because that's what happens to deserters on the battlefield."

Social Security Administration suspends collection on old debts

The Washington Post had the story about how Treasury and Social Security had suddenly started going after old overpayments, sometimes decades-old, by garnishing the tax refunds of family members who didn't even receive the overpayments. Turns out, the Farm Bill of 2008 had a provision slipped in - so far how it got slipped in hasn't been revealed - that ended the 10 year statute of limitations on collecting debts. Treasury and the Social Security Administration have stepped up that collection in the past three years, but after the Post story, Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and recipients raised hell with the agency. Now, Social Security has announced it will be suspending the practice.
    Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said Monday she has directed an immediate halt to the program while the agency does a review. […]
    The Social Security Administration says it has identified about 400,000 people with old debts. They owe a total of $714 million.
    So far, the agency says it has collected $55 million. […]
    Colvin said she was suspending the program "pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department."
The overpayments could be the result of disability payments or survivor benefits, overpayments that the people who were being collected from had no idea about. It was a ridiculous policy for a piddly-in the grand scheme of things-amount of money, and good riddance to it. Congress needs to revisit that debt collection policy, and if it's worried about revenue for Social Security do something that will really raise some money, like raise the payroll tax cap.

The repugicans Freak Out After Polls Show Democrats Leading 3 Out of 4 Senate Races

GOP Crying Baby The repugicans are freaking out after new polls showed Democrats leading or tied in four key Southern Senate races.
The latest New York Times Upshot/Kaiser Family Foundation Senate polls contained some bad news for repugicans. In three out of four Senate races they polled, Democrats led. In the one race where a repugican led, the lead was within the margin of error. In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor leads his repugican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, 46%-36%. In North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan leads her likely opponent, Thom Tillis, 42%-40%. In Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu leads 42%-18%, but due to Louisana’s non-primary system, Landrieu has to get 50% or more of the general election vote to win another term. If Landrieu finishes first, but with less than 50% of the vote, she will face a runoff. In Kentucky, repugican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is statistically tied with his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell leads 43%-42%.
The repugicans have been trying to suppress the potential Democratic turnout in November by spreading throughout the media the idea that they were a lock to win the Senate in November. It turns out that a repugican victory in November is far from a sure thing. In fact, repugicans could end up losing some seats in red states.
The wingnut media is not taking the news well that everyone is starting to catch on that their predictions of victory are starting to look like empty hot air. Bill Kristol of the Rupert Murdoch owned Weekly Standard wrote a frantic blog post that tried to discredit the poll. Kristol wrote, “The Arkansas Senate race has been close in virtually every serious poll. The repugican challenger, Tom Cotton, probably had a small lead a month or so ago; after a massive negative assault on him by Harry Reid’s Super PAC, the Democratic incumbent, Mark Pryor, is probably now ahead by a point or two. That’s the story told by every reputable public and private poll, including, I’m told, polls by both campaigns.”
Just like in 2012, repugicans like Bill Kristol are arguing that the polls are skewed and the pollsters are in the bag for Democrats. It doesn’t matter to Kristol that every poll that hasn’t come from repugican pollsters has Pryor leading. The repugicans are trying to deny the reality that Democrats have a reasonable chance of keeping the Senate. The repugicans are freaking out for a very good reason. In order to retake the Senate, they have to defeat two of the three Southern Democrats who are up for reelection. If Pryor and Hagan win, repugicans are likely finished. If McConnell loses his seat, Democrats will probably keep the Senate.
It is too soon to tell, but the repugican predictions of a Senate takeover could end up being as wrong as the predictions of a repugican cabal takeover in 2010 and 2012. The repugican media spin is designed to discourage Democrats from voting. Ignore the spin, and trust the numbers.
If Democrats come out to vote, they have a good chance of keeping the Senate.

In a New Low For The Desperate Senate repugican Mitch McConnell Mocks Children

Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul
Mitch McConnell (r-KY) has taken flailing to a new level. Displaying a disturbing lack of character, Team Mitch will lash out wildly at anyone, including women and now children.
After the McConnell team attacked Alison Grimes for being a woman, I noted that the repugican didn’t seem to be promoting family values, since his message to women and girls was “stay home or else bully boys will make fun of you for your gender”. That was pretty low. But they’ve sunk to a new low.
The McConnell team attacked his repugican challenger’s children after they starred in an ad for their father, tea party candidate Matt Bevin. Bevin’s daughter Olivia is seen in the ad warning Kentuckians not to be fooled by the “bunch of lies” McConnell is telling about her father.
Team Mitch tweeted, “I was waiting for ‘My dad went to MIT!’” This is considered a jab given that Bevin was busted for claiming he went to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology ) when he actually attended a 3 week seminar.
When busted by reporters, Team Mitch quickly deleted the tweet and wouldn’t respond to questions about it. (Hit and runs scream “ready to lead”.)
Joe Sonka, News Editor at LEO Weekly, busted the Senator:
McConnell’s Democratic opponent’s campaign was quick to note that McConnell cried foul when his own family was attacked. “Just last year, Mitch McConnell declared that political shots on opponents’ family members should be off-limits, and I hope someone reminds the Senator of that,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said in a statement. “His campaign’s tasteless attack on Mr. Bevin’s daughters is out of bounds. Innocent children should never be mocked just to benefit the campaign of a 30-year Washington insider.”
It’s tough to claim you’re the party of traditional family values when you run around mocking women and children, since they make up the majority of the “family” in family. What’s really going on is the “family values” mask is being painfully peeled away in a very public way, as McConnell lets his desperation and his campaign’s consistently juvenile foolishness preside over good judgment.
Of course, repugicans don’t really care about families, unless they can use this as an excuse to control women and starve children. But most Americans aren’t aware of this hypocrisy. Perhaps Mitch McConnell’s real goal is to expose the repugican cabal as anti-family values, in which case, well done, Sir.
McConnell is leaving himself wide open to be hit hard on this, especially by Alison Grimes, whose first ad presented the Democrat as strongly centered around her family, the good granddaughter of a strong matriarch, someone with a strong moral center, and a dedicated mother figure of the people. These are qualities that are highly relatable and attractive to traditional Southern voters.
McConnell mocks Grimes for the very thing that is one of her major strengths, and now his people are attacking children as if he’s dead set on proving that of the three candidates, he is definitely not the best one to care for the family/voters. He’s becoming the crazy, angry uncle no one wants to invite to Xtmas, but host out of pity and for love of family.

Some good advice from Bill Clinton

A federal judge has struck down New York state's $150,000 annual limit on individuals' contributions

A federal judge has struck down New York state's $150,000 annual limit on individuals' contributions to super PACs. Buy yourselves some of that Free Speech™, y'all. It's really getting to be worth something.

Rand Paul wants to know when U.S. economy last created millions of jobs

Kentucky moron Rand Paul asks a question:

    When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs?

Unfortunately, he wasn't interested in the answer. Or, more specifically, he thought he knew the answer:

    It was under Ronald Reagan.


One way you could look at it is total number of jobs created during each presidency since Reagan. If you did that, here's what you'd get:

    Reagan: 16.1 million (8 years)
    Bush 41: 2.6 million (4 years)
    Clinton: 22.9 million (8 years)
    Bush 43: 1.3 million (8 years)
    Obama: 4.0 million (6 years, 2 months)

Or, to look at it a different way, since Reagan became president, a total of 20 million jobs have been created in the 20 years with repugicans in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, 26.9 million jobs have been created in the 14 years with Democrats in office. And here's the amazing thing: These numbers attribute 4.3 million jobs lost during Bush's Great Recession to Obama-if you factored those out, the total job tally would be 31 million jobs under Democrats to 16 million jobs under repugicans.
As Bill Scher pointed out, the absurdity of Rand Paul's misstatement of facts really disproves the case Paul was trying to make-that the repugican economic philosophy is better for regular working people. Paul believes the repugican cabal needs to shed its image of being the party of the rich, which is obviously true, but his solution for doing that is to fall back on the same old trickle-down economic policies that make the economy so much worse under repugican presidents. The repugicans don't need new spin: They need new policies.

World's plutocrats have stashed at least $4.5 trillion in offshore tax havens

Paul Krugman has been writing some devastating columns of late, most notably his piece on the ripoff of high-frequency trading - Three Expensive Milliseconds. Perhaps missed by many readers, however, was his blog mention of a paper on underground wealth written by Gabriel Zucman, a colleague of Thomas Piketty, the famed French economist with whom he produced another recent paper mentioned by Krugman, "Wealth and Inheritance in the Long Run."The Zucman paper has a title that might be passed over as too wonky by many readers: "The Missing Wealth of Nations: Are Europe and the U.S. Net Debtors or Net Creditors," published by The Quarterly Journal of Economics, the oldest professional journal on economics in English. It's a stiff read for non-specialists. Krugman goes to the heart of it:
    What Zucman points out is that we have international data on investment positions, with each country reporting its assets abroad and foreign-owned assets at home. But the numbers don't add up: globally, liabilities are substantially larger than assets. That's mathematically impossible, but Zucman shows that it's what will appear in the statistics if a lot of money is run through offshore havens, so that the ownership doesn't show up in anyone's national statistics. And he uses other data and information to show that this is by far the most compelling explanation.
By means of a method he carefully describes, Zucman estimates that the world's wealthy are using tax havens, including Swiss banks, to hide at least $4.5 trillion but more likely $6 trillion from the tax collectors. Just to make it clear, that's $6,000,000,000,000 - in the neighborhood of six percent of the entire world's gross economic output for one year. In other words, not chickenfeed.
Krugman on tax havens and why the middle class carries more of the tax burden

CEO pay keeps increasing at an incredible rate while workers' pay languishes

The latest analysis by the AFL-CIO shows that the average U.S. CEO was paid 331 times more than their average worker last year, and 774 times more than a minimum wage worker. That's a significant increase in the past three years. Keep pouring gas on that fire, fuckers.

Corporations Divest Nearly $60 Million From Private Prison Industry

by Katie Rose Quandt

Three corporations announced their divestment from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies in the United States, late last week.
Scopia Capital Management, DSM North America, and Amica Mutual Insurance pulled nearly $60 million in investments from CCA and GEO Group in the final quarter of 2013, marking full divestment for DSM and Amica and a 27 percent decrease in shares for Scopia. (Scopia has decreased its private prison stock by 59 percent since December 2012.) Their announcements mark the first round of success for civil rights nonprofit Color of Change, which has been pushing over 150 companies to divest from for-profit incarceration companies since last year. Color of Change is one of 16 organizations working towards these divestment goals as part of the National Prison Divestment Campaign.
"Companies that continue to stay with their investments in CCA and GEO Group are making a real decision about where they want their money and the ethical obligations they have to the greater society," Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson told Mother Jones. Human rights advocates strongly oppose private prisons, alleging that they prioritize profit over rehabilitation and help fuel mass incarceration. Privately owned prisons have also been shown to have higher levels of violence and recidivism.



Ohio repugicans trying to prevent college athletes from unionizing

The repugicans are always all about markets and free choice right up until they're not, and the moment they're not somehow always turns out to be about workers choosing to join together to get more from their employers, or women exercising control over their own bodies. So it's not a big surprise that Ohio repugicans are trying to prevent athletes at state colleges and universities from unionizing.Northwestern University is currently appealing a National Labor Relations Board decision that its football players are employees who are eligible to unionize. That decision would only apply to private universities, though, so the Ohio legislature is trying to be proactive about keeping the state's college athletes fully exploitable:
    An Ohio House committee added an amendment to a state budget bill  that says students attending state universities in Ohio "are not public employees based upon participating in athletics for the state university."

Koch Loving repugicans Are Trying To Shut Harry Reid Up With Bogus Ethics Complaint

reince priebus fox newsedited The repugican cabal of Louisiana sent a formal complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) claiming that Reid is abusing publicly funded resources for partisan and electoral activities. Basically, repugicans are mad that Reid keeps attacking the Koch brothers. They are claiming the abuse comes in the form of him using his official Senate Twitter account and senate.gov website to criticize the billionaire repugican donors. Apparently, the feeling is that Reid is ripping off the American public by utilizing social media and the internet by letting his feelings known.
Obviously, repugicans are looking at this as a way to shut up Reid. The Nevada Senator has been on a crusade as of late, launching a full-on assault lambasting the Kochs for their meddlesome activities in the world of politics. Seeing many red and purple state Democratic Senators, currently up for reelection, attacked by Koch-funded political ads these past few months, Reid decided it was time to shine the spotlight on these shadowy figures.
Beginning Wednesday morning, wingnut media did its best to make this into a huge story. The rnc chair-wimp Reince Priebus appeared on Faux & Friends to get the ball rolling. He tried to go for the jugular when he said, “Harry Reid is so dirty and so unethical.” Steve Doocy, with Roger Ailes almost certainly in his earpiece, helped setup Priebus’ criticism of Reid by stating that Reid’s attacks on the Kochs are only a way to distract the American people from the failure of Obamacare (Yes, Doocy really did say that.)
Evidently, the Priebus interview, along with the formal complaint being filed, was supposed to create a huge torrent of media activity, with news sites, papers and cable news shows flocking to the story. However, the overall reaction was mostly a ‘Meh.’ Obediently, the wingnut media tried to give the story traction. The wingnut sites like The Daily Caller and BizPac Review made sure to toe the line and put forth the perfect amount of repugican spin. Yet, that was about it. Most of the rest of the coverage, how little there was of it, focused more on Priebus calling Reid dirty and unethical in the Faux interview.
Perhaps one of the reasons this story isn’t being seen as huge news to the majority of media outlets is because there is almost no way anything is going to come of this. It is an extremely transparent attempt by repugicans to go to bat for their biggest benefactors and try to shut down any negative statements made about them. Also, it rings especially hollow considering the amount of negative, partisan behavior displayed by repugicans on their ‘official’ Twitter accounts.
How about Sen. Ted Cruz (r-TX) attacking other government agencies using his Senate Twitter account?
Or, how about Cruz directly criticizing the President using the same Twitter account?
Another repugican, Rand Paul, has had no issues using his Senate Twitter account to attack others:
Finally, we see it come full circle, as Sen. Ron Johnson (r-WI) used his Senate Twitter account to go after Harry Reid. The tweet linked to a post on Johnson’s senate.gov website praising the Koch brothers.
Apparently, partisanship is a one-way street. It is quite alright if you are a repugican. In fact, it is expected that you rip the President and Obamacare using your official Twitter account, or publicly provided website. However, if a Democrat has the gall to say something bad about the men writing the checks for the repugican cabal, well, that has to be an ethics violation, right?

Missouri repugicans Seek to Impeach Democratic Governor For No Real Reason

Missouri repugicans seek to impeach Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for no clear reason other than because they do not agree with him. …
Jay Nixon
In today’s hyper-partisan environment it is not unusual for repugicans to call for impeachment of Democratic office holders on the flimsiest of pretexts. Any scandal, however small in scope, can be used to drum up support for ousting an elected official through impeachment. However, Missouri House repugicans have sunken to a new low by seeking to impeach Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for no reason at all other than that they do not like the fact that he is a Democrat.
Nixon’s office has dismissed the efforts to impeach the Governor as a cheap ”publicity stunt”, and for good reason. The repugicans have not been able to settle on a reason for wanting to impeach the Governor, but instead have cast about haphazardly by pointing to three different reasons hoping one will stick. The reasons they have settled upon are far from compelling and merely illustrate how desperate the Missouri repugican cabal’s efforts are. Show-me-State repugicans have showed their hands and there is simply nothing to see.
The grounds for impeachment that repugicans are pursuing rest on three different issues. Representative Nick Marshall wants to impeach Nixon for asking state officials to accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples who were legally married in other states. Obviously, Marshall opposes Nixon’s executive order, but does he really think that policy difference warrants impeachment proceedings? 
The repugicans Mike Moon and Rick Brattin want to impeach the Governor for not moving fast enough to schedule special elections to fill vacancies in the General Assembly. Yet, the Governor has already set the dates to fill those vacancies, although I suppose one could argue that “fast enough” is a relative term and that the difference between setting the elections one day and the next is the difference between being “fast enough” and needing to be impeached.
Brattin also wants to impeach Governor Jay Nixon for not punishing officials harshly enough for allegedly sharing concealed carry endorsement information with the federal government. The repugicans allege that the Missouri Department of Revenue and the Missouri Highway Patrol are collecting data on conceal and carry permit holders and sharing that data with federal law enforcement, to help create a national gun registry although that allegation has never been proven.
Although the odds of Governor Nixon being impeached on such flimsy grounds are probably slim, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Stanley Cox (r) says he will grant a hearing to consider impeachment proceedings if the men who filed articles of impeachment seek one.
The repugicans seeking to impeach Governor Nixon are making a mockery of the legislative process and trivializing impeachment by making it simply a political cudgel by which they can bludgeon people they disagree with, even in the absence of any criminal or unethical behavior. Voters should demand that lawmakers in Missouri not turn the general assembly into an ongoing farce, and they should vote for change in November. The Missouri repugican cabal has demonstrated not only an inability to govern, but they have also shown a complete disregard for the normal legislative process. The repugican House has turned the capitol in Jefferson City into a permanent partisan circus, where compromise and reason are dismissed by one political stunt after another. The people of Missouri deserve better.

Oklahoma Court Could Face Impeachment

by Sean Murphy

A member of the Oklahoma House drafted a resolution seeking the impeachment of state Supreme Court justices who granted a delay of execution to two death row inmates.
The repugican state Rep. Mike Christian told The Associated Press that the five justices engaged in a "willful neglect of duty" when they granted stays of execution Monday to Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, both of whom were scheduled to be executed this month.

Daily Comic Relief


SCOTUS To Consider Ban On Campaign Lies

Hey, Can the pot call the kettle black?

Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be punished as a crime?That debate makes its way to the Supreme Court next week as the justices consider a challenge to an Ohio law that bars false statements about political candidates during a campaign. The case has attracted national attention, with groups across the political spectrum criticizing the law as a restriction on the First Amendment right to free speech.
Even Ohio's attorney general, repugican Mike DeWine, says he has serious concerns about the law. His office filed two briefs in the case, one from staff lawyers obligated to defend the state and another expressing DeWine's personal view that the law "may chill constitutionally protected political speech."
"The thing we see time and time again in political campaigns is that candidates use the law to game the system by filing a complaint," DeWine said in an interview with The Associated Press.
In an attempt at humor, satirist P.J. O'Rourke and the libertarian Cato Institute filed a widely circulated brief ridiculing the law and defending political smear tactics as a cornerstone of American democracy.

You Can't Trust The Supreme Court, Science Proves It!

by Ian Millhiser
The job of a judge and, most importantly, a Supreme Court justice, requires them to set aside partisanship and their personal preferences in order to decide cases according to what the law does or does not allow. Yet, a series of studies examining a phenomenon known as "motivated reasoning" suggest that many judges cannot be trusted with this task. Their brains simply are not capable of such disinterested reasoning.
A recent study adds to the growing evidence that our brains reject information that rebuts our strongly held beliefs. Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan and three co-authors presented parents with various messages intended to encourage them to vaccinate their children. What they found, however, was that "[n]one of the interventions increased parental intent to vaccinate a future child," and, among the parents who were most likely to be skeptical of vaccination, the messages actually backfired. Staunch deniers of the health benefits of vaccination actually said they were less likely to vaccinate their children after being presented with information supporting vaccination.
As science journalist Chris Mooney explains, this is not an isolated study. Similar effects have been demonstrated when conservatives are presented with information debunking a common conservative misconception regarding tax policy. Or when fans of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin are presented with information debunking her claim that the Affordable Care Act authorizes "death panels." Or when staunch opponents of President Obama are presented with information debunking the claim that he is a muslim.

Apparently the Supreme Court thinks you're stupid ...

How's Your Faith in "Our Democracy" Doing?

Justice Kennedy said in Citizens United, “Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption. . . . The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”
Chief Justice Roberts quoted Kennedy in the McCutcheon decision,  “Ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption. They embody a central feature of democracy—that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests, and candidates who are elected can be expected to be responsive to those concerns.”
How much proof does the Court need that money is corrupting elected officials, the two major parties, and their candidates for office?
Sick of this? We are too! Hold a House Party to support Move to Amend and get involved!
In March, we learned that the FBI arrested three Democrats in three different states on political corruption charges. In the same month, repugican presidential front-runners flocked to Chuck Adelson’s Las Vegas soiree in the hopes of capturing Adelson’s endorsement and the millions in campaign contributions that go with it.
An Internet search will bring up hundreds of hits revealing that corruption in government has been alive and well for many years. These days the very nature of the power that comes with election to office is a corrupting influence. When coupled with unlimited sums of money spent by corporations and special interests in elections, further corruption of the political process is a forgone conclusion.
But five justices, unelected and disconnected from the people, were unable to reach the same conclusion that the rest of us know to be as obvious as the noses on our faces.
Every time the Court decides in favor of corporations and the wealthiest 5% of Americans, it is another body blow to our battered democracyThe Supreme Court has a history of dismantling campaign finance law, undermining our democracy, and perpetuating corporate rule.
Bring your friends, family members, and neighbors together to learn more about Move to Amend, what you can do to end corporate rule, and the corruption that goes with it.

The Supreme Court Empowered White Supremacists With Affirmative Action Decision

Supreme-Court-Fail  Human nature can refer to fundamental ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that some psychologists and sociologists contend humans have naturally, but it is very unlikely they are independent of cultural influences. Human nature can have important implications in ethics, politics, and theology because it can be regarded as both a source of norms of societal conduct, or present obstacles that deny other humans their right to equal opportunities to live a rewarding life. Human nature is so very complex it is often difficult to discern if a person or group makes decisions out of naïveté borne of a lack of experience or knowledge, or if they are inherently evil and revel in causing misery for others due to their intrinsic bad character. Obviously, racism qualifies as an inherently evil part of human nature that plagues many Americans who are adamant that people of color should be treated differently and not given the same opportunity to succeed as white people.
The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday upholding Michigan’s ban on Affirmative Action based on race in college admissions, informs that both the majority of voters in Michigan and the Justices on the High Court are either naïve about the racism infecting this country or evil in removing people of color’s opportunity to earn the same higher education as white people. It is highly probable that Michigan voters were bombarded with propaganda from repugicans, white supremacists, and all manner of wingnuts decrying inequity to the white race as a result of race-based affirmative action aiding minorities have an opportunity of a college education decades of racism has denied them. However, Justices on the Supreme Court displayed yet another instance of adhering closely to repugicans’ agenda to disenfranchise people of color and deny them equal opportunities white people are afforded simply because they are regarded as superior.
One could not help but notice the High Court and Michigan voters did not ban affirmative action for what is known as “legacy scholarships” for wealthy white applicants whose parents are university alumni; they will continue receiving favored treatment during admission to Michigan colleges. It is apparent that racism and white superiority played an important role in 58% of Michigan voters’ decision to ban affirmative action for people of color only and keep in place special advantages for white wealth. If Justices on the High Court were not inherently racist, they would have banned affirmative action for all college applicants, but they have shown a predilection for targeting people of color for unfair treatment. The most disturbing aspect of the Court’s ruling is the message that it is up to voters to decide whether or not affirmative action is legal or not and it is a portent of legislation in former Confederate states for racists to ban affirmative action that will go far beyond race in the college admission process; particularly since conservatives on the court struck down crucial parts of the Voting Rights Act last year.
As SCOTUSblog pointed out shortly after the ruling was announced, the “Court cleared the way for voters elsewhere in the nation to put an end to so-called ‘affirmative action’ policies and while the ruling focused on the use of race in selecting new students for public colleges, it also would permit voters to end race-conscious policies in hiring of state and local employees and in awarding public contracts.” What the justices voting to uphold Michigan’s ban on solely race-based affirmative action policies created was a perfect storm for states in the former Confederacy to embark on a white supremacist legislative frenzy to remove any equal opportunity for people of color, primarily the Black color.
Unlike Michigan’s ballot initiative banning affirmative action, the justices in the majority, some with a high degree of vehemence against affirmative action and people of color, said policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom. It is likely that wingnuts on the Court harkened back to their ruling last year striking down major provisions of the Voting Rights Act to create a perfect scenario for former Confederate states that immediately passed voter suppression laws disenfranchising minority voters. They clearly understand that a predominately white racist voting bloc will support repugican legislatures eliminating all aspects of race-based affirmative action policies.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg comprehends the effect the majority ruling will have on racial minorities who will once again face obstacles put up by white supremacists determined to maintain their advantage over minorities. She wrote that although “The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat, neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Antonin Scalia was joined by Clarence Thomas in a display of feigned ignorance to the racism plaguing this nation and said it is not up to the courts to get involved “in the dirty business of dividing the nation into racial blocs,” and agreed the “dirty business” is best left in the hands of racially-driven white voters electing equally racist repugican legislators; particularly in the former Confederate states.
The Supreme Court majority effectively gave a nod and a wink to racists that their white supremacist mindset is back in vogue to re-start America’s two-century history of discrimination based on race. The repugican-misled states in the former Confederacy likely cheered the ruling that will make their minority voter suppression efforts pay dividends to re-enact legal racial discrimination without barriers such as affirmative action policies. Justice Sonia Sotomayor clearly comprehends the damage to anti-discrimination policies the ruling is certain to cause and said “the Constitution required special vigilance in light of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”
As if to highlight his ignorance of racial animus in America, Justice Anthony Kennedy had the gall to state that “History demands that we continue to learn, to listen and to remain open to new approaches if we are to aspire always to a constitutional order in which all persons are treated with fairness and equal dignity.” His words are meaningless after agreeing that it is now in the hands of voters in repugican-misled Southern states that spent the past year enacting minority voter suppression laws to decide that all persons are not treated with fairness and equal dignity. It is a long-desired outcome for white supremacists the High Court just empowered and certainly emboldened.

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Archaeologists call for protection of Javanese Megalithic site
  • The Still of the Night in New Orleans
  • Nobody Lives Here
  • Frozen In Time
And more ...
This mandarin duck is our Animal Picture, for today.