Friday, March 27, 2015

Move Over Food Trucks, Food Bikes Are Taking to the Streets

Charlie Wicker of Trailhead Coffee Roasters makes
all of his deliveries within the 6-mile radius of Portland,
Oregon on one of his custom-built cargo bikes.
Photo credit: John Lee / Trailhead Coffee Roasters
Yes, they're really cool, but they're also eco-friendly.

While food on-the-go is nothing new—wheeled food carts delivering food to cowboys and soldiers date back as early as the late 1800s—food bikes are seeing a sudden urban resurgence likely fueled by the recent food truck craze.

According to IBISWorld market research, food trucks are a booming industry with $857 million in sales in 2015 with an estimated 4,000 businesses employing nearly 15,000 people nationwide. While the industry is expected to continue to thrive, the drag of costly equipment, unfavorable regulatory conditions and gas-guzzling trucks has a new crop of traveling food entrepreneurs opting instead for cheaper eco-friendly food bikes.   READ MORE

WORKMAN CYCLES BUILDS THEM HERE
 

Robert Reich Demolishes Myth that College Is Gateway to the Middle Class

The suffering kids experience over college admissions is intense and largely unnecessary.

I know a high school senior who’s so worried about whether she’ll be accepted at the college of her choice she can’t sleep.

The parent of another senior tells me he stands at the mailbox for an hour every day waiting for a hoped-for acceptance letter to arrive.

Parents are also uptight. I’ve heard of some who have stopped socializing with other parents of children competing for admission to the same university.

Competition for places in top-brand colleges is absurdly intense. With inequality at record levels and almost all the economic gains going to the top, there’s more pressure than ever to get the golden ring.
A degree from a prestigious university can open doors to elite business schools and law schools – and to jobs paying hundreds of thousands, if not millions, a year.

So parents who can afford it are paying grotesque sums to give their kids an edge.
They “enhance” their kids' resumes with such things as bassoon lessons, trips to wildlife preserves in Botswana, internships at the Atlantic Monthly. They hire test-prep coaches. They arrange for consultants to help their children write compelling essays on college applications.

They make generous contributions to the elite colleges they once attended, to which their kids are applying  – colleges that give extra points to “legacies” and even more to those from wealthy families that donate tons of money.

You might call this affirmative action for the rich.

Excuse me, but this is nuts. READ MORE

Guess Which Ultra Liberal State Is About to Become a Hellish Place for People to Work in?

Bad news for Bernie Sanders' back yard.

Vermont, a state perceived as a liberal utopia by many, is being hit with a barrage of anti-labor policies. In a recent budget address, Gov. Peter Shumlin called out Vermont State Employees' Association, declaring he expected VSEA to reopen its contracts to ditch pay increases. The governor also announced that he plans to hack away at state jobs by consolidating emergency call centers and closing a school that serves state prisoners. In addition, he said that Vermont parents should “expect better outcomes for our students at lower costs.” He’s called for education cuts and higher student-teacher ratios, moves that will probably result in layoffs. This past fall, he announced he wants to outlaw teacher strikes in the state. That idea might soon become a reality: a bill prohibiting public school teachers from striking was recently introduced by Republican Rep. Kurt Wright and passed the House Education Committee by a vote of 8-3.

Shumlin is a Democrat who has received support from Bernie Sanders and owes much of his success to the working people of Vermont. He was supported by VSEA when he first ran for governor in 2010, after he criticized his Republican predecessor’s proposed layoffs and budget-cutting methods. The union continued to support him during his re-elections in 2012 and 2014. Before the last election, in 2014, Shumlin met with all the unions and assured them that he could be counted on. He insisted that layoffs would be a last resort. He won that election by less than 2,500 votes and, because he received less than 50% of the state's vote, his win had to be approved by the Vermont General Assembly. If Shumlin hadn't obtained support from the unions, there's a very real chance he could have lost. READ MORE

Exposing America's Billionaire Welfare Ranchers

America's .01 percent like the Kochs and the Hiltons are collecting massive subsidies from the federal government.

Americans love ranchers: Gritty ranchers, mom-and-pop ranchers, renegade ranchers — especially those who raise livestock on the vast open prairies of the West through a mixture of hard work and rugged independence. But there’s another side to the ever-popular rancher mythology— a side the media doesn’t cover and the public never sees. The Koch brothers, Ted Turner, the Hilton family and nine other powerful ranchers share an uncommon privilege: giant public subsidies, unknown to U.S. taxpayers.

It’s the other side of the Cliven Bundy story, the other side of the Wright brothers saga—the bronc-riding, ranching family at the center of the New York Times photographic essay published this March.
That “other side” of those stories is the federal grazing program that enables the Wrights to run their livestock on public lands for cheap; allows ranchers to have thousands of protected wild horses removed from public lands at public expense. It’s also the program that earned Cliven Bundy the title of "welfare rancher."  READ MORE

9 Things Many Americans Just Don’t Grasp (Compared to the Rest of the World)

Americans' lack of worldliness clouds their views on everything from economics to sex to religion.

To hear the far-right ideologues of Fox News and AM talk radio tell it, life in Europe is hell on Earth. 
Taxes are high, sexual promiscuity prevails, universal healthcare doesn’t work, and millions of people don’t even speak English as their primary language! Those who run around screaming about “American exceptionalism” often condemn countries like France, Norway and Switzerland to justify their jingoism. Sadly, the U.S.’ economic deterioration means that many Americans simply cannot afford a trip abroad to see how those countries function for themselves. And often, lack of foreign travel means accepting clich├ęs about the rest of the world over the reality. And that lack of worldliness clouds many Americans' views on everything from economics to sex to religion. 
Here are nine things Americans can learn from the rest of the world.  READ MORE

Cop Arrested After Video Shows Her Shoot Unarmed Man in Back Lying Face Down in the Snow

The fatal incident occurred during a routine traffic stop gone awry.

Harrisburg, PA– Hummelstown police Officer, Lisa J. Mearkle was charged with criminal homicide on Tuesday in the shooting death of 59-year-old David Kassick on February 2.
Mearkle shot Kassick as he laid face down on the ground in the snow, unarmed, during a routine traffic stop gone awry.

Mearkle had attempted to pull Kassick over for an expired inspection sticker, but the situation escalated when Kassick attempted to flee from the officer.

Eventually Mearkle caught up to the motorist close to his sister’s home where he was staying, but Kassick got out of the vehicle and fled on foot.  As he was attempting to run away, he was incapacitated by the officer’s taser which she held in her left hand. With her right hand, she unnecessarily pulled out her service gun and shot the unarmed man twice in the back as he lay face-down on the ground. READ MORE

6 Heroes Who Refused to TortureKoch Group Gets Hostile Reception in Montana Over Medicaid Expansion

Rep. Frank Garner
Residents didn't tolerate Americans for Prosperity's propaganda at a town hall meeting.

The Koch brothers have made stopping Medicaid expansion under Obamacare a top priority for their state efforts. It worked last week in Tennessee. Their allies did it in Wyoming, too. But not all states are as receptive to their interference. Take Montana, where a Koch road-show against Medicaid expansion was greeted by some well-informed and angry Montanans.

Seems that Americans for Prosperity has been having "Healthcare Town Hall" meetings around the state, trying to relive the glory days of August recess 2009 when they terrorized politicians and citizens alike with stories about death panels and the evils of affordable health insurance. They decided to have one in Kalispell targeting Rep. Frank Garner, a Republican who has refused to sign their pledge to vote against Medicaid expansion. They did, though, without inviting Garner to appear as well.

Garner, who made the eight-hour round trip from Helena to attend the meeting, took umbrage with the postcards and said the group never told him about the meeting, which he learned about from a reporter on the House floor at the Capitol. […] READ MORE

6 Heroes Who Refused to Torture

They showed that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney didn't have to endorse inhumane methods.

Why was it again that, as President Obama said, “we tortured some folks” after the 9/11 attacks? Oh, right, because we were terrified. Because everyone knows that being afraid gives you moral license to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. That’s why we don’t shame or punish those who were too scared to imagine doing anything else. We honor and revere them.

Back in August 2014, Obama explained the urge of the top figures in the Bush administration to torture “some folks” this way: “I understand why it happened. I think it’s important, when we look back, to recall how afraid people were when the twin towers fell.” So naturally, in those panicked days, the people in charge had little choice but to order the waterboarding, wall-slamming, and rectal rehydration of whatever possible terrorists(and innocents) the CIA got their hands on. That’s what fear drives you to do and don’t forget, at the time even some mainstream liberal columnists were calling for torture. And whatever you do, don’t forget as well that they were so, so afraid. That’s why, says the president, “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious,” too quick to judge the people in the Bush administration, the CIA, and even the U.S. military who planned, implemented, and justified torture.  READ MORE

The Banking Giant That Helped the 1% Hide Billions in Taxes

The banking giant used secret Swiss accounts to help the world’s wealthiest people evade taxes.

Robert Reich: The Wealthy Have Pulled America Back to the 19th Century

Wall Street and enormously rich individuals have gained political power to organize the market in ways that leave most Americans behind.

Oh Look, Turns Out A Strong Welfare State Produces More Entrepreneurs

I don't know why the author of this Atlantic piece sounds so surprised. Has he never been in a poor neighborhood? Guys selling T-shirts, handbags, produce and used appliances on the street -- of course putting an economic floor under people encourages them to take a shot at something bigger and better. Walter Frick for The Atlantic:
Reagan was right about the link between startups and growth, but wrong in assuming that small government was the way to encourage them.
His belief in a tradeoff between taking care of citizens and promoting innovative new businesses is at odds with the evidence. In fact, one way to get more people to start companies, according to a growing body of research, is to expand the welfare state.
Pundits and researchers often note the negative correlation between government spending and entrepreneurship, both within the U.S. and internationally, and conclude that growth requires trimming social welfare programs. Jim Manzi of theNational Review, for example, a thoughtful commenter on economic policy, wrote last year that, “we must accept some amount of social dislocation in return for innovation.”
Yeah, he kind of lost me at the point where he describes a National Review writer as "a thoughtful commenter on economic policy," but do go on: READ MORE

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Missouri Republican Suggests We Return to Community Values of 1820s. A Reminder of What's Changed

Preserving the rich cultural heritage of a state can guide many lawmakers to look at the past for a point of reference of how to build their state going forward.  Missouri Jeff Pogue, R-Salem, may have taken this nostalgia just a bit too far.
http://www.columbiatribune.com/...
“I’m wanting to protect the social norms of our state, the same social norms that have operated in our state since the organization of Missouri in 1820,” Pogue said in an email. “These Missourian cultural rules, the status quo, are nearly 200 years old, and have operated well throughout our state.”

Pogue said in a statement that if the state “were to change a social norm of this magnitude,” the General Assembly or voters should make the decision, through a bill or a ballot measure. The result should apply statewide, he said.
Rep. Pogue's big issue?  It's this sign:
Proposing that state funding should be denied for any unisex bathroom - unless it is a single stall - Rep. Pogue points out that tradition deserves to be protected.

Rep. Pogue has also proposed this piece of legislation, which goes one step farther, by announcing it will remove funding from any "project, program, or policy that creates or attempts to create a gender-neutral environment."

No word as to how this would impact universities that have co-ed dormitories - something that existed when I was in college some time ago.

Because of the proud cultural history and the need to uphold the past, I think it is important to remember the significant social issues of 1820 and beyond in Missouri. READ MORE

Boehner: 11 million gaining health insurance is a 'legacy of broken promises'

The Centers for Disease Control released a pair of reports on Monday calculating that 11 million people who had been uninsured now have insurance, thanks to Obamacare. While 37 million people are still uninsured—some 4 million who would be eligible for Medicaid expansion if the states took it, the remainder undocumented immigrants and people either unaware of or purposefully boycotting insurance—this is the lowest uninsured population in more than 15 years.

The CDC reports compared the first nine months of 2014 with annual statistics going back as far as 1997, from the National Health Interview Survey. Among the highlights: — The number of uninsured dropped from 48.6 million in 2010 to 37.2 million for the period from Jan.-Sept. last year. That amounted to 11.4 million fewer uninsured since the signing of the health care law.

— In 2014, about 27 million people said they had been without coverage for more than a year.

— Some 6.8 million people were covered through the health care law's new insurance markets during July-Sept. of 2014.

— The most significant coverage gains last year came among adults ages 18-64. Nearly 40 million were uninsured in 2013. But that dropped to 32.6 million in the first nine months of 2014.

— States that moved forward with the law's Medicaid expansion saw a bigger decline in the share of their residents uninsured.  READ MORE

Drugs More Likely Used By Whites, But Blacks More Likely Jailed for It

heroin-drugs_2539867b

*It’s becoming more and more apparent that white people are more likely to use drugs, but black people are more likely to go to jail for it. This country’s criminal justice system is top-heavy with black men in particular being arrested for nonviolent drug use; while their white counterparts continue to get high in the privacy of their wherever. It is important to not forget just how much of a role the War on Drugs and its disproportionate impact on Black families and communities plays in the perpetuation of racism and inequality.  

Did you know that black people now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people who fill America’s jails and prisons? Blacks find themselves incarcerated at a rate nearly six times that of whites.

And it is the disparity in drug prosecutions and sentencing that contribute significantly to the disproportionately high numbers of black people who are incarcerated. The NAACP reports that despite the fact that five times as many white people are using drugs as black people, black people wind up being sent to prison on drug related charges 10 times more often than white people. 

Unmitigated Gall! Chinese Restaurant in Africa Won’t Allow Blacks After 5PM (Watch)

chinese-restaurant, no africans policy
*From the title alone, the height of your rising blood pressure is not lost on me, readers. You are enraged for several reasons. Allow me to vent for a sec on your behalf. One, you might be thinking, “How dare these mother*******! Black people are not even allowed to live in China for any significant amount of time -let alone start a business there. So why are Chinese people allowed to open a restaurant in Africa? And now, they have the unmitigated gall to refuse admission to black Africans after the 5 o’clock hour?

Yeah. I feel you. And if I were with you physically right now, I would at least consider your request to, “hold you back!”

Hey, do we really need any more signs proving that racism is real? And it is at times like this, when these little tidbits of information comes out, that we might recall all those “warnings” from our friends on their individual soapboxes, that chide us for loving shows like ‘Empire.’ The images they say “are about buffoonery and other negative things” that ignorant asses all over the world RELY ON to learn about us. Or help form their perception of us.  READ MORE 
Video near page bottom after the jump.

Republicans Object To Tighter Regulations On Shady Businesses


Today's Fox and Friends segment with the Doocy, tries to rile up their gun-crazed audience over the feds cracking down on the banking practices of these unsavory businesses that are often fronts for money-launderers.
"This is a very clever way to get around the Second Amendment,"
claims Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R). Remember Pretty Boy Duffy? The guy who bitched and moaned about his paltry $174,000 per annum salary? He's beyond livid that some of the death merchants, a.k.a. "gun dealers" in his district are facing scrutiny by the D.O.J.'s Operation Choke Point.
What is Operation Choke Point? (It) is a federal initiative that aims to crack down on fraud by honing in on banks and payment processors—the companies that serve as middlemen between merchants and banks on credit card transactions. Financial institutions are not supposed to do business with companies they believe might be breaking the law. But Justice Department officials suspect that some payment processors ignore signs of fraud—like high percentages of transactions being rejected as unauthorized—in transactions they process, and banks go along for the ride, earning massive profits. READ MORE

Mike's Blog Round Up 3/26/15 5:00am

Mike's Blog Round Up
SCOTUSblog: How broad are the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Alabama redistricting case?

Lawyers, Guns and Money: Who knew “GOP” stands for “Grifters on Parade?”

Kevin Drum: What is the California Miracle?

Plunderbund: How much has Obamacare helped Ohio?

Speaking of which, your quote of the day:
“When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he's probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he's going to ask you what you did for the poor. You'd better have a good answer.” (Ohio Governor John Kasich , on GOP opposition to Medicaid expansion in Ohio, June 26, 2013)

Guest blogging Mike's Blog Round this week is Jon Perr from Perrspectives. Send your tips, recommendations, comments and angst to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com.
FROM THE SITE

Kamala Harris Moves To Stop Advance Of 'Kill The Gays' Ballot Initiative

Crazed Lawyer Matthew McLaughlin
This story is the reason I absolutely hate the California ballot initiative process. There are no filters, and nothing to prevent ugly, hateful measures like this one.
The proposal -- unlikely to advance, as it requires over 360,000 signatures to proceed -- was submitted by lawyer Matthew McLaughlin to the California Attorney General's office late last month.
The "Sodomite Suppression Act" ballot proposes that gay people "be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method."
Under the normal procedure, Attorney General Kamala Harris would have to issue a title and summary for the initiative so proponents can gather signatures. Instead, she's going to court to have it declared unconstitutional in advance.
“As Attorney General of California, it is my sworn duty to uphold the California and United States Constitutions and to protect the rights of all Californians. This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society. Today, I am filing an action for declaratory relief with the Court seeking judicial authorization for relief from the duty to prepare and issue the title and summary for the "Sodomite Suppression Act." If the Court does not grant this relief, my office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism.” READ MORE

Tantaros Trolls Feminists: 'I'm Going To Speak Slowly' So They Learn Rape Culture Is A 'War On Boys'


Fox News host Andrea Tantaros suggested on Tuesday that feminists had created a "war on boys" by encouraging false rape reports at universities.

On Tuesday's edition of Outnumbered, host Harris Faulkner called for an investigation of Rolling Stone in the wake of the news that the Charlottesville police department could not find any evidence to support the claim that a rape reported by the magazine had occurred at the University of Virginia.
"I want an investigation into what Rolling Stone was thinking," Faulkner said. "I don't know that an apology really does it."

"We know from our own reporting here on the couch that they let a reporter determine that she just wasn't going to track any further than the website -- she just wasn't going to do the complete job that we learned in Journalism 101."  READ MORE

Janus In The White House: A Review Of Martin Parlett's Book 'Demonizing A President'

During his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama described himself as a blank screen on which people project their inner realities. For Martin Parlett, the British public relations expert who has written Demonizing a President: The Foreignization Of Barack Obama, this explains both Obama's electoral success and the obsessive conspiracy-mongering we most often attribute to the political…
 
Ed. Note: There have been many books that sought to undertake the unprecedented right-wing reaction to Obama's presidency, but this is the first I've read which does so with an eye to what they did as well as how he set the stage for them to do it. It isn't easy reading, but definitely worthwhile. If we don't learn history's lessons, we're doomed to repeat them.  FROM THE SITE

Lobbyist Fails His Own Pesticide Challenge On Camera

Dr Patric Moore former Greenpeace guy.
Today's lesson is brought to you by Dr. Patrick Moore, who has worked for pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto, refusing to drink Monsanto's product just seconds after claiming it's safe to do so:
Once upon a time, Dr. Patrick Moore was an early Greenpeace member. Now he is a public relations consultant for the polluting companies that Greenpeace works to change: Big Oil, pesticides and GMO agribusiness, forestry, nuclear power... anyone who puts up the money for truth-benders who appear to carry scientific and environmental authority. (video won't embed,  see it after the jump) READ MORE

Launching A New Southern Strategy Based On Gunsense And Voter I.D. Laws

A "Good ol' Boy"
It's nice to see someone keep track of statistics on the disproportionate effects of gun violence on poorer, minority populations. Dr. Arthur Kamm extensively explains this awful phenomenon via factual data and statistics in his paper entitled Guns Government Race and Rights: The Demographics Stupid.

This paper examines the effect of our changing demography in elections, the racial and ethnic targeting of voter suppression laws, the Manchin-Toomey Senate vote vs Blue Wall States vs the State Ballot Initiative, effective deployment of capital, and, unapologetically, a consideration of obstacles in achieving this objective.
For the purpose of this article, I will focus on Dr. Kamm's suggestions for helping the South shake the domination of Republicans who absolutely do not represent the majority of the state(s)'s citizens.
The title of this piece is a play on the phrase coined by Democratic political strategist James Carville during Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential run, ‘The economy, stupid’. And regarding the attempts by activist groups to change the national political landscape on such issues as gun violence, voter discrimination, healthcare, income/wealth inequality, immigration reform and so much more, well, ‘It’s the demographics, stupid’. With this country having just observed the 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ in the fight for African-American voting rights, the minority vote has over the past 50 years grown into a powerful force that, in 2012, showed the ability to more than off-set the ‘Southern Strategy’ and, if fully realized, the potential to flip the South back to Democratic control (no small matter for the progression of human and civil rights), perhaps even sooner than later. emphasis mine. READ MORE

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pew Report: Wisconsin No. 1 State In Household Income Decline

My guess is that the same Very Serious bobbleheads who have pronounced Scott Walker a "formidable contender" will delicately avoid talking about this study. Because FREEDOM:
Wisconsin ranks worst among the 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class, with real median household incomes here falling 14.7 percent since 2000, according to a new report.

The Pew Charitable Trust report showed Wisconsin with the largest decline in the percentage of families considered "middle class," or those earning between 67 and 200 percent of their state’s median income.

In 2000, 54.6 percent of Wisconsin families fell into the middle class category but that has fallen to 48.9 percent in 2013, according to U.S. Census figures compiled by Pew.
All other states showed some decline but none as great as Wisconsin’s 5.7 percent figure.  READ MORE

Ted Cruz Signs Up For Obamacare





Oh, the Goddess of Irony is certainly on my side today. The only thing that would be better is knowing that Ted Cruz had to sign up for Obamacare using the federal exchange as a Texas resident. That way, if the US Supreme Court screws up the subsidies for people, he could pay exorbitant insurance rates along with the rest of his fellow Texas citizens.

Ted Cruz, one of the loudest critics of Obamacare, will soon be using it for health insurance coverage.
READ MORE

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Fantasizes About Atheist Family’s Brutal Rape And Murder




Who would Jesus rape and murder? What a sick, sick man.

'Duck Dynasty' Star Imagines Vivid Rape And Murder Scenario For Atheist Family:

"Duck Dynasty" star and conservative icon Phil Robertson told a gruesome, vivid story on Friday about the hypothetical rape and murder of a family to illustrate the perils of atheism, according to audio surfaced by Right Wing Watch.

The website reported that Robertson made the remarks during a speech at a Florida prayer breakfast that was later broadcast by the conservative radio program TruNews.

From the Right Wing Watch report on Robertson's speech: READ MORE

Bill O'Reilly Bemoans The Decline Of American Journalism Standards


Bill O'Reilly needs to take a good long look in the mirror if he wants to know why journalism has declined in this country.

While discussing the latest news on the police in Virginia saying that they had found “no substantive basis” to support a Rolling Stone magazine article depicting a horrific gang rape at UVA, O'Reilly and his guest John Stossel wondered if the fraternity was going to be able to sue Rolling Stone, never mind this statement from Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo: READ MORE

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Where are the Arrests for Ferguson Law Enforcement & Government Leaders for RACKETEERING & EXTORTION?

The UNITED STATES Department of Justice shared its investigative report on the town of Ferguson last week.

Folks RESIGNING and any FIRINGS is NOT good enough, nor is it JUST! It sends a message that their actions are still acceptable, only if they aren’t EXPOSED.

And once they get EXPOSED for their acts of racism, extortion, racketeering, etc, they become a few sacrificial lambs from the herd, and move on to another institution that practices the same SYSTEMIC RACISM, HATE, WHITE PRIVILEGE. The laws don’t apply to these folks, just the NON-WHITE FOLKS.
Ferguson corruption
 READ MORE

Indiana governor 'looking forward' to signing bill that ensures sweeping discrimination

Looks like a winner.
The Indiana House of Representatives passed a religious "freedom" bill Monday 63-31 that will allow private businesses, individuals and organizations to discriminate anywhere at any time against any person they so choose based on religious grounds.

A similar bill already cleared the state Senate. Once the two bills are reconciled, it will head to the desk of Gov. Mike Pence, who can't wait to sign it into law.
"The legislation, SB 101, is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact. I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue. I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk."
What a great opportunity for Pence to enact policies that will allow a chosen few to trample all over the rights of everyone else—as was made clear while the bill was being debated. READ MORE

American companies are hoarding cash—and slowing economic growth

American companies are sitting on a gold mine—or
a cold, hard cash mine to be exact:
Corporate America has so much cash sitting in the bank that it could purchase the Dallas Cowboys 437 times without borrowing a dime.
For what it's worth, the Dallas Cowboys were last evaluated to be worth more than $3 billion. All told, American companies are sitting on $1.7 TRILLION. Here's why the cash hoarding is bad for the economy:
The bad news is that at least some of these corporate giants still aren't willing to spend their cash on new equipment, new hires and new research. It would be a big economic boost if companies went on a spending spree. Shareholders would also like bigger dividends given all this cash companies have on hand.
There are a few bright spots:
Six sectors in the S&P 500 are projected to boost spending for the next 12 months, led by technology and health care.
Bloomberg News reports that the Affordable Care Act is actually unprecedented level of entrepreneurial activity: 

READ MORE

Investigation reveals that four Florida officers filmed KKK video, texting about 'killing n*ggers'

After a five-month investigation, three Fort Lauderdale officers were fired and one resigned when it was determined that they regularly exchanged racist text messages and filmed a video promoting the KKK. The disturbing full photocopies of their text messages are below the fold.

Included in their exchanges with one another are messages where they openly talk about "killing nigg*rs". In another exchange about looking for suspects, they state:
I had a wet dream that you two found those n-----s in the VW and gave them the death penalty right there on the spot. READ MORE

Wisconsin Republicans Eliminate Weekends

Act 10 and RTW weren't enough, now Wisconsin Republicans want to give us a 7 day work week.

The Nation: These Republicans Want to Take Away Your Weekend

As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the so-called "right to work" bill on March 9, making Wisconsin the twenty-fifth right-to-work state in the country, labor advocates braced themselves for the stream of anti-worker bills that were almost certain to follow. Many assumed the first target would be Wisconsin's 1930s prevailing wage laws, which require that workers on public works projects be paid the established going rate for their labor, rather than allowing contractors to try to outbid each other by lowering workers' wages. Few, however, expected the legislative cluster bomb that is currently being referred to committee by a pair of Republicans: a bill to repeal the weekend.

(snip)

Walker hasn't said he would sign the bill, but he hasn't spoken out against it either; nor did he when it was introduced last year. The elimination of a guaranteed weekend would fit nicely with the rest of Walker's anti-worker platform, which includes his having ended collective bargaining rights for most public sector employees and signing the deceitfully named "right to work" law, which prohibits requirements that private-sector workers join unions or pay a representation fee as a condition of employment. Right-to-work laws in general are associated with poorer workplace conditions and lower pay than in union-friendlier states.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinal reporting on last years proposal: GOP state lawmakers propose allowing 7-day work week
READ MORE

MO lawmakers introduce bill to prevent food stamp recipients from buying fish (among other things)


Better put that steak and lobster back!

Missouri lawmakers are on a new quest to further demoralize and degrade citizens who rely on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced a bill that would, among other things, prevent food stamps from being used to purchase fish and steak. From House Bill 813:

A recipient of supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits shall not use such benefits to purchase cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.
More from the Riverfront Times:
"There's a long history of trying to dictate what somebody should be buying on food stamps. The program itself has been really stigmatized," says Washington University professor Mark Rank, who authored Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America. .........
"There have been a lot of studies on fraud, when there were actually people buying, trading and selling their EBT cards, but it was a very small percentage of the overall population," he says. "But fish is good for you -- why should that be prohibited? READ MORE

Liberty students cheer for Cruz's call to end Obamacare, apparently too dumb to realize they benefit

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) pauses to look at the crowd as he confirms his candidacy for the 2016 U.S. presidential election race during a speech at Liberty College in Lynchburg, Virginia March 23, 2015. Cruz, a conservative firebrand who frequently clas
"Man, these kids are idiots!"
 
Here's a little snippet from Ted Cruz's speech to kick off his 2016 presidential run, delivered earlier today to the attendance-was-mandatory throng of students at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University:
Cruz: Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law Audience: BOO

Cruz: Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law
Audience: APPLAUSE

Cruz: … imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.
Audience: APPLAUSE
And from the Liberty University Student Health Insurance Plan guidebook: READ MORE

GOP Rep. Steve King doesn't understand how American Jews can support their own president over Israel

U.S. Representative Steve King (R-IA) talks at the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing
attribution: REUTERS
One of the uglier forms of modern American anti-Semitism takes form in the belief that Jewish Americans are more loyal to Israel than to the United States. Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King has managed to take this form of anti-Semitism to its next level. King so takes for granted that American Jews should be loyal to Israel first that he's baffled that they aren't:
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) criticized "Jews in America" who, in an effort to align themselves with President Obama's stance on Israel, are "Democrats first and Jewish second," BuzzFeed reported on Friday.

King's comments were made during an interview on Friday with Boston Herald Radio about the members of Congress who refused to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress on March 3.

"Well, there were some 50 or so Democrats that, that decided they would boycott the president's speech," King said. "Here's what I don't understand, I don't understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their President."
Um.
There are so many ways to go with this. Not that someone with a cantaloupe where his brain should be is capable of understanding, but let's try explaining this as one would to a child. A very small and not particularly bright child. Perhaps "Jews in America" can be Democrats first because to whatever degree they hold national loyalties they are loyal to the United States first. Because Israel is a foreign country and Jews in America are, you know, American.

Perhaps "Jews in America" can be Democrats first because they feel that the Democratic Party in the two-party system of their home country (you know—the United States) best represents their political values.

Workers at biggest fast food companies need billions in public assistance

Bar graph showing share of workers with family member enrolled in one or more public programs by industry. Restaurant and food services is nearly 45%.
Walmart isn't the only corporate giant relying on government assistance to make up for the low, low wages it pays its workers. According to a new report from the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center, 52 percent of front-line fast food workers are on some form of public assistance, at a cost of nearly $7 billion a year. And the 10 largest fast food companies account for $3.8 billion of that, the National Employment Law Project estimates.   READ MORE

/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-//-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-//-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/
GOP Wars against: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Immigrants, Mexicans, Blacks, Gays, Women, Unions, Workers, Unemployed, Voters, Elderly, Kids, Poor, Sick, Disabled, Dying, Lovers, Kindness, Rationalism, Science, Sanity, Reality.

Will Jesse Helms Sink Ted Cruz’s Presidential Campaign?

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in September 2013, he lavishly praised former Senator Jesse Helms. “The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic in this town, and you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then. We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate,” Cruz said. READ MORE

Liberty Students Forced To Attend Ted Cruz Speech Or Face 'Fine'

I think it's safe to say that Senator ted Cruz' demographic of voters falls more in line with Bill O'Reilly than Lena Dunham so Cruz decided to announce his presidential aspirations to a crowd of 10,000 evangelical students who were forced to attend his speech.

If they failed to attend they had to pay a fine.

LYNCHBURG, Va.—Sen. Ted Cruz took the stage to declare his presidential candidacy at Liberty University Monday, surrounded by upwards of 10,000 cheering students. They weren't all here by choice.

Attendance at convocation at Liberty is mandatory, and a group of students clad in "Stand With Rand" shirts sat center stage—directly in view of the cameras—to log their displeasure with having to be here.  READ MORE

George Zimmerman Breaks His Silence, Complains About 'Barack Hussein Obama'

Like a bad penny, George Zimmerman pops up yet again with his tale of victimization and woe. That poor, poor baby. Is it fundraising season for him?

His divorce attorney posted a video of him going on about Barack Hussein Obama's meanness and how unfair life has been to him. I can't post it here but if you're really anxious to watch him whine, you can see it here.


When asked who in the government was most unfair to him, Zimmerman replied, "By far, the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama. He had the most authority and in that sense I would hold him in the highest regard believing that he would hold that position and do his absolute hardest to not inflame racial tensions in America."

Oh no, that wasn't scripted at all, was it?

But Zimmerman was far from finished with that topic. READ MORE

Jeb's Wife's Father Was An Undocumented Immigrant. Will GOP Primary Voters Be OK With That?

I knew that Jeb Bush's wife, Columba, was born and raised in Mexico, but until I read this Washington Post story over the weekend, I didn't realize that her father was an undocumented worker in America for a while, and later became a legal worker under a program that I'm sure would be described by right-wingers as "amnesty":
Jose Maria Garnica Rodriguez, who died at 88 in 2013, grew up in Arperos....
After World War II, it was common to cross the border without proper papers, said Columba’s uncle, Antonio Garnica Rodriguez, who made the trek, too. “We just went across the border, worked, stayed there for a while and came back.”

He said his brother later joined the “bracero” program, which allowed manual laborers temporary legal entry to the United States. Jose Maria got his “resident alien” card on Feb. 4, 1960. READ MORE

McCain Shrugs Off Racial Campaign Tactics In Israel: Netanyahu Can't Be 'Held To Everything' He Says


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Sunday lashed out President Barack Obama for what he said was a "temper tantrum" after Israeli Prime Minister used a racial ploy to get out his voters, and then seemingly revoked his support for a Palestinian state.

Over the weekend, the president told the Huffington Post that Netanyahu had not followed "the best of Israel's traditions" when he warned that Arab Israeli voters were coming out "in droves."
"Although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly," the president said.

On Sunday, McCain insisted to CNN that the "president should get over it."
"Get over your temper tantrum," the former Republican presidential nominee quipped. "The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during an election campaign." READ MORE

Mickey Kaus: Why Conservatives Fear To Criticize Fox News


Former Daily Caller writer, Mickey Kaus joined CNN's Brian Stelter on Reliable Sources to explain in some detail why he quit Carlson's website and why conservatives are afraid to ever criticize Fox News.

KAUS: Well, that's right. I had no problems with them before. But I posted this piece on the web early in the morning Monday morning, very early. I stayed up all night doing it.

And I went to sleep and I got up and it disappeared. There's a note from Tucker saying, "Can't trash FOX on the site. Sorry, I work there." So, I wrote back saying, "Is that really the rule? Because if it is, I have to quit." READ MORE

Insane Conspiracy Theories Ted Cruz Actually Believes

This guy just announced a run for President... 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Paul Ryan Presents New Republican Healthcare Plan: Deathcare!

Freedom to become a pauper, freedom to hurry up and die! Digby says:
So Paul Ryan is out there instructing states not to set up state exchanges if the Supremes knock down the federal exchange subsidies. He said he's been assured that Justice Alito will convince the majority that they need to delay kicking people off of insurance until the Republican congress can offer a conservative alternative that will be acceptable to the Republican Governors in every state.

Guess what they're talking about as the alternative?
His remarks Thursday offered the most detailed vision yet of the House Republicans’ thinking. Mr. Ryan suggested the GOP caucus was most enthusiastic about allowing states to strip some of the health law’s requirements that insurance plans must provide certain minimum benefits and a requirement that insurers sell to all customers equally regardless of their medical history.

“We think things like community rating and other regulations make insurance needlessly expensive for most people and that there are better more targeted ideas out there to help those with pre-existing conditions get affordable care,” he said. “We just want to give people market freedom and personal freedom so that they can buy what they want.”
The single most important aspect of Obamacare, the one thing that one would assume nobody would try to mess with --- the ban on denying insurance because of a pre-existing condition --- is the main provision they want to get rid of. In other words, they want to make sure that people who are sick are either tied to their insurance companies (with back-breaking premiums that go with that) for life. Or maybe death since a lot of people just won't be able to afford insurance at all so they'll just die.
READ MORE

How Political Consultants Took A Texas Oilman For A Ride


Kenneth W. Davis Jr.
This story was co-published with the Daily Beast and the Houston Chronicle.
Throughout the booms and busts of his Fort Worth oil empire and during his brother’s notorious murder trial, Kenneth W. Davis Jr. largely kept to himself. At 89, he still does. He puts in full workdays at his small downtown office, with drapes drawn against the North Texas sun. He usually dines at an exclusive club across the street, often alone, using distinctive silverware set aside just for him.

Davis has long shut out politics, too. He remembers voting only three times – for Eisenhower, Goldwater and Reagan. Yet last year he thrust himself into the public eye by starting his own super PAC.

His group, Vote2ReduceDebt, aimed to move the needle in eight key U.S. Senate races by energizing disengaged conservative voters. It spent almost $3 million to boost Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm election – ranking it among the top right-leaning groups of its kind.
But now it’s dead in the water, with its main operatives expelled amid questions about where the money went.

Even within the free-wheeling world of U.S. campaign finance, Vote2ReduceDebt stands out as a cautionary tale for donors, activists and voters.

Since the Supreme Court helped open the gates with the Citizens United ruling, unprecedented millions have flowed into super PACs, groups that can accept political donations of unlimited dollar amounts.
But, as Davis discovered, federal election laws do little to ensure these contributions are used as donors intended.

In addition to escaping donation limits, no rules prevent the people running super PACs from using contributions to hire themselves or companies owned by their relatives and other insiders.
The story of Vote2ReduceDebt is an egregious example of what can happen in the absence of such controls, but similar scenarios have played out on a smaller scale at dozens of PACs in the last three election cycles.

Vote2ReduceDebt collapsed amid allegations of faked campaign events, destroyed records, fabricated expenses, contracts routed to cronies and a plot to siphon the Texas oilman’s money to a reality TV show.  READ MORE

FEMA To States: Admit Climate Change Is Real To Get Preparedness Cash

It isn't George W. Bush's FEMA for sure. Now they're playing hardball with those climate-denying conservative states that suck up the disaster money like it's candy while continuing to deny the impact of global warming.

FEMA says no more.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change. Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that address climate change.

This may put several Republican governors who maintain the earth isn't warming due to human activities, or prefer to do nothing about it, into a political bind. Their position may block their states' access to hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA funds. Over the past five years, the agency has awarded an average $1 billion a year in grants to states and territories for taking steps to mitigate the effects of disasters. READ MORE

Tehran Tom: U.S. Shouldn't Say Anything To Undermine Negotiations In Israel

OH NO HE DIDN'T. Oh yes, he did. Steve Benen:

Earlier in the day, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that when it comes to the U.S. policy towards Israel, “We’re currently evaluating our approach.” The comments were important, but not surprising – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent antics were bound to carry some consequences. But Cotton, the right-wing freshman in his second month in the Senate, called Psaki’s comments “worrisome“ – for a very specific reason.
“While Prime Minister Netanyahu won a decisive victory, he still has just started assembling a governing majority coalition. These kinds of quotes from Israel’s most important ally could very well startle some of the smaller parties and their leaders with whom Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently in negotiations.

“This raises the question, of course, if the administration intends to undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu’s efforts to assemble a coalition by suggesting a change to our longstanding policy of supporting Israel’s position with the United Nations.”
READ MORE

Maher Spars With Conservatives Who Refuse To Admit Economy Improved Under Obama


I've been really tired of seeing this Kochhead Republican "strategist" Mercedes Schlapp all over the cable news shows in the last few months and turning up as a regular on Hardball more and more often, but I have to admit, I'd be a whole lot less tired of it if she received the same treatment she did on this Friday's Real Time every time she was allowed on the air.

Bill Maher wrapped up his panel segment with a discussion on Sen. Ted Cruz' appearance at an event in New Hampshire -- where he scared a three year old with is rhetoric that the "whole world is on fire" -- and President Obama's speech in Ohio this week, where he took some jabs at Republicans for their predictions of doom and gloom and the supposed disastrous impact his policies would have on the U.S. economy.

After getting a few jabs in on Cruz, Maher asked this of his guests.
MAHER: There are statistics on how much the world is on fire and Obama came back with them on Wednesday in Cleveland. He said what are you talking about, the economy is a disaster? Unemployment was 10 percent six months into my term, now it's 5.5. The Dow was under 8000 when I took office. Now it's almost 18,000. GDP was -.5.4 percent. Now it's 2.8 percent. The deficit was 9.8 percent of GDP. Now it's 2.2 percent.
At what point... these are facts... at what point do Republicans look foolish for being on the talking point page that no longer exists?  READ MORE