Saturday, April 25, 2015

The World’s Oceans Are Worth Trillions Of Dollars, Report Finds

The oceans are worth at least $24 trillion in services such as fishing, tourism, shipping and carbon sequestration, but “urgent action” is needed if the world wants to maintain that ocean economy, according to a new report.

The report, published this week by the World Wildlife Fund, states that if the oceans were a country, they would be the world’s seventh-largest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And, according to the report, even those measurements of the oceans’ value are likely underestimates: the report didn’t take into account essential ocean services such as oxygen production, temperature stabilization, and cultural services in putting a value on the ocean.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, lead author of the report and director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, told Nature that the $24 trillion represents a minimum value for the world’s oceans — but despite that, “it’s quite large,” he said.

“[The report] comes up with a very large number despite the fact that we can’t value the many intangibles — production of sand along coastlines, the value of oceans in terms of their contribution to cultures, and so on,” he said.  READ MORE

The Senate’s Top Climate Denier Redefines Chutzpah

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), shown here, is an outspoken
denier of climate science and chairman of the Senate’s
environment committee.
The traditional definition of chutzpah involves a guy who kills his parents, then pleads for mercy because he is now an orphan. The modern definition of chutzpah involves … Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

The chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has an Earth Day (!) op-ed arguing we should embrace carbon-free nuclear power because of the threat posed by global warming. You remember Inhofe, the guy who called global warming a hoax, the guy who for over a decade has trashed climate scientists, such as James Hansen, whom he called in 2006 a “NASA scientist and alarmist.”

Apparently, however, Inhofe no longer sees Hansen as radioactive. He writes, without a trace of irony:
James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in 2013 that ‘continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.’  READ MORE

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Unspoken American Experience: 1,500,000 Missing Black Men

Many of us knew this intuitively, but the numbers are still shocking:
For every 100 black women not in jail, there are only 83 black men. The remaining men – 1.5 million of them – are, in a sense, missing.
Using data collected from the 2010 Census, Justin Wolfers, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy, writing for The Upshot in the New York Times, attempt to account for those African-American males "'missing" from everyday life in the U.S.A: missing Dads, sons, grandfathers, brothers, coworkers, comrades, compadres, neighbors, and friends. They are "missing" in the sense that they are, for the most part, either dead from premature or unnatural causes-- such as homicide--or imprisoned.  They are not part of what we know as society. They are completely absent. They do not count, except as statistics.  Black males, for example, are six times more likely to be imprisoned than white males.  The biggest reason they are imprisoned is for drug-related offenses. Blacks make up 50% of the people incarcerated for drug crimes in state and local prisons, at a rate 10 times more than whites, even though five times as many whites use drugs as do African-Americans.
Perhaps the starkest description of the situation is this: More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life...Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million.
If a comparable epidemic of "missing white men" (or white women) existed in this country it's beyond question that a transformative cultural reckoning would occur to discover and correct the cause. The media would be shouting from the rooftops, white families would be marching in the streets, our Republican Congress would be busily speechifying and passing laws instead of trying to deny the entire country an Attorney General based on her race, while simultaneously stoking more racism against immigrant Hispanics and Latinos as their "justification." But there is no such "gap" of "missing whites and no such cultural reckoning has taken place, There is no media outcry. To the contrary, racism is so pervasive and endemic to this country that its consequences have gradually become an accepted fact of what we euphemistically regard as the "American Experience."  Such "missing" African-American adult males are simply the way things areREAD MORE

Actual headline: 'How recognizing gay marriage can increase abortions'

Oh, my goodness. Anti-marriage-equality idiocy may have reached its highest, most distilled form with this one. Brace yourself:

In a nutshell: A reduction in the opposite-sex marriage rate means an increase in the percentage of women who are unmarried and who, according to all available data, have much higher abortion rates than married women. And based on past experience, institutionalizing same-sex marriage poses an enormous risk of reduced opposite-sex marriage rates.
That's appellate attorney Gene Schaerr writing at the Daily Signal, if you want to dig up the link for yourself. I just ... I don't even know what to do with this. Marriage equality means more abortions? Because marriage equality undermines opposite-sex marriage and if there are more unmarried straight women there are more abortions? No such argument would be complete without cherry-picked data. For instance, Schaerr insists that marriage rates declined immediately in the early marriage equality states  READ MORE

Thad Cochran Aide Arrested On Drug Charges

This is really no way for a Senate staffer to get a date. Thad Cochran's office manager, Wesley Pagan, was arrested by the Feds for possession of 181.5 grams of methamphetamine. But his confession revealed an even more disgusting plan for those drugs.
A U.S. Senate staffer allegedly dabbled in drug importation, according to law enforcement. Fred W. Pagan, a staffer for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) allegedly told law enforcement agents that he imported drugs from China in a plan to exchange them for sexual favors, according to new documents filed in U.S. District Court.
It wasn't just meth, either.  READ MORE

Oh Goody, The Wingnuts Are Fighting Over Social Security!

Mike Huckabee, working class hero?
Via Digby, some interesting news about our Republican contenders:
So what to make of Mike Huckabee coming out swinging on this issue on Friday and taking Christie and the others to task in no uncertain terms?
“I don’t know why Republicans want to insult Americans by pretending they don’t understand what their Social Security program and Medicare program is,” Huckabee said in response to a question about Christie’s proposal to gradually raise the retirement age and implement a means test.

Huckabee said his response to such proposals is “not just no, it’s you-know-what no.”
“I’m not being just specifically critical of Christie but that’s not a reform,” he said. “That’s not some kind of proposal that Republicans need to embrace because what we are really embracing at that point is we are embracing a government that lied to its people–that took money from its people under one pretense and then took it away at the time when they started wanting to actually get what they have paid for all these years.”

New Documents: Millionaire Tulsa Deputy Did Get Special Treatment

Documents have surfaced confirming that the reserve deputy who shot Eric Harris lacked 150 hours of training to perform the duties he was certified to perform.
A newly-released report shows deputies at the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office raised concerns about Reserve Deputy Bob Bates' training for years, but were intimidated to keep quiet.

The investigation by the sheriff's office in 2009 reveals Bates received special treatment and equipped his personal vehicle as a police car.

According to the investigation report obtained by News On 6, the deputy overseeing Bates' training says he signed off that Bates had 150 hours more training than he actually completed.
The details are pretty scary:  READ MORE

Hump Day Quiz: What Is A Secular Theocracy?

Rick Santorum
I need your help with this one, because it truly makes no sense. To make it a little easier to interpret Rick Santorum's unique syntax, I will give you the dictionary definitions of secular and theocracy, along with the full quote as stated on the radio Tuesday.

Secular: denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.
Theocracy: a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god.

Surgeon’s License ‘Erased’ After He Punches Patient Under Anesthesia in the Face 10 Times

Ninian Peckitt lost his medical license because he
used unethical methods to “fix” a patient. He used
his fist and punched the patient numerous times, in
front of witnesses…Then he denied it.
*This is mind-boggling to say the least. When we go to the doctor and then into surgery and we are “put under,” suffice it to say we entrust the nature of our medical repair to the surgeon. We expect that medical professional to be exactly that…professional. So it comes as no surprise that the unusual and unethical procedures used by a British surgeon while he operated on a patient under anesthesia has landed him in hot water with the medical board.

Professor Ninian Peckitt (pictured above), 63, a leading facial surgeon, has been “erased” from a registry that recognizes licensed doctors in the UK after they learned he had one accompanying doctor hold the head of a patient while he punched the patient in the face multiple times under the auspices of fixing his fractured cheekbone.

Peckitt, who is said to have balled up his fist and struck the patient in the face 10 times, has now been found unfit to practice by the General Medical Council, who has actually brought a case against him.

Invisible Atheists The spread of disbelief in the Arab world.

The 26-year-old Palestinian author Waleed Al Husseini
was imprisoned for ten months after Palestinian authorities
believed his pro-atheism blog posts were a “threat to
national security.” He now lives in Paris.
Last December, Dar Al Ifta, a venerable Cairo-based institution charged with issuing Islamic edicts, cited an obscure poll according to which the exact number of Egyptian atheists was 866. The poll provided equally precise counts of atheists in other Arab countries: 325 in Morocco, 320 in Tunisia, 242 in Iraq, 178 in Saudi Arabia, 170 in Jordan, 70 in Sudan, 56 in Syria, 34 in Libya, and 32 in Yemen. In total, exactly 2,293 nonbelievers in a population of 300 million.

Many commentators ridiculed these numbers. The Guardian asked Rabab Kamal, an Egyptian secularist activist, if she believed the 866 figure was accurate. “I could count more than that number of atheists at Al Azhar University alone,” she replied sarcastically, referring to the Cairo-based academic institution that has been a center of Sunni Islamic learning for almost 1,000 years. Brian Whitaker, a veteran Middle East correspondent and the author of Arabs Without God, wrote, “One possible clue is that the figure for Jordan (170) roughly corresponds to the membership of a Jordanian atheist group on Facebook. So it’s possible that the researchers were simply trying to identify atheists from various countries who are active in social media.”
Even by that standard, Dar Al Ifta’s figures are rather low. When I recently searched Facebook in both Arabic and English, combining the word “atheist” with names of different Arab countries, I turned up over 250 pages or groups, with memberships ranging from a few individuals to more than 11,000. And these numbers only pertain to Arab atheists (or Arabs concerned with the topic of atheism) who are committed enough to leave a trace online. “My guess is, every Egyptian family contains an atheist, or at least someone with critical ideas about Islam,” an atheist compatriot, Momen, told Egyptian historian Hamed Abdel-Samad recently. “They’re just too scared to say anything to anyone.”
While Arab states downplay the atheists among their citizens, the West is culpable in its inability to even conceive of an Arab atheist.  READ MORE

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Walker's Crown Jewel Is Flawed

As Scott Walker has abdicated his role as governor in order to become a professional campaigner, he has traveled around the country bragging about his Act 10, the right to work legislation that he launched almost immediately in 2011. Walker likes to tell folks that he was big and bold as he took on those eeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvviiiiiilllll unions and saved taxpayers over $3 billion.

Well, he didn't really take on the unions. He boldly ran away and refused to even talk to the unions, like a cowardly bully that finds himself outnumbered and outmaneuvered.

One would be hard pressed to find anything near the tax savings that Walker has claimed. Over the four years Walker has been in office, he's saved taxpayers only a few bucks. This false claim is made worse when one considers that many Wisconsinites saw a hefty drop in their property values, some as high as What Walker did do was take $3 billion out of the economy and gave it to his wealth campaign donors.

But there is another unintended consequence from Walker's Act 10 that hasn't been widely reported. Not only has Act 10 severely cut the take home pay of public sector workers, but it has opened the door to nepotism, cronyism, waste, fraud and corruption.

Last year, Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express reported about the income maintenance program in Milwaukee County, which became a personal employment office for its administration: READ MORE

Police Allegedly Beat Up Defendant — And A Lawyer — Outside Of A Courtroom

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey attends
press conference in response to Department of
Justice report.
A public defender in Philadelphia alleges an officer hit her in the head before pummeling a 22-year old defendant who was yelling and cursing outside of a courtroom. Now, the defendant faces additional charges for terroristic threats.

According to Attorney Paula Sen, Anthony Jones was thrown out of a Criminal Justice Center courtroom after becoming upset about having to take off his hat. He continued yelling outside the room, so Sen rushed to calm him down. But as she was de-escalating the situation, six officers allegedly ran up to them, yelling. Sen contends she tried to stand between Jones and the police, before Officer David Chisholm hit her in the back of the head, knocking her to the ground. Then, three officers, including Chisholm, punched Jones, who was bleeding, before others piled onto him on the floor. READ MORE

The Surprising Religious Breakdown Of Same-Sex Marriage Support

A new poll released this week found that the majority of most major religious groups now fully embrace marriage equality, and that even groups who oppose the right to marry are abandoning anti-LGBT views at a surprising rate.

On Wednesday, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) unveiled new data from their American Values Atlas, a survey conducted last year that interviewed 40,000 people across the country. In expectation of next week’s U.S. Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage, PRRI published a list of religious perspectives on marriage equality, reporting that the majority of Catholics (60 percent), white mainline Protestants (62 percent), and Jewish Americans (77 percent) either “favor” or “strongly favor” legal recognition of marriages for LGBT couples.

“A decade ago, the most supportive religious groups were white mainline Protestants and Catholics, with 36 percent and 35 percent support, respectively,” Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI, wrote in a blog post. “Today, major religious groups reside on both sides of this issue and within many key groups—such as Catholics—support among rank and file members is now at odds with official church opposition.”  READ MORE

Popeye’s Chicken Employee Fired for Not Replacing Money Stolen from Her at Gunpoint (Watch)

*At first glance, in what can only be seen as a heartless action, an employee who was the unfortunate victim of a robbery at the place where she worked, has been fired from her job because she refused to reimburse the employer for the stolen money.

Two additional things make this employer, Popeyes Chicken, look really bad: One, the woman was robbed at gunpoint and two, they fired a pregnant woman whose life was in danger.

It happened in the Channelview Texas eatery; where approximately $400 was stolen on March 31 during an armed robbery that was recorded by the restaurants’ security cameras.
The woman, Marissa Holcomb, was informed by the store manager that she would be fired if she didn’t replace the stolen money.

“I told them I’m not paying nothing,” Holcomb told KHOU-TV. “I just had a gun to me. I’m not paying the money.”  READ MORE

Why Rep. Steve Scalise spoke to a white nationalist hate group.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)

Louisiana’s Long History of Racism

On Monday the House of Representatives’ majority whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, confirmed that he gave at least one speech to a recognized white nationalist hate group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. EURO was founded by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. The May 2002 conference Scalise participated in was billed as a workshop on protecting white “civil rights” and “heritage.”

According to a conference attendee who posted on Stormfront, a white supremacist forum, Rep. Scalise spoke about how the Department of Housing and Urban Development was a “slush fund” that gave money away to “a selective group based on race.”

Scalise’s spokeswoman, Moira Bagley, said that when the congressman spoke to EURO as a state representative, he had been unaware of the group’s views.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told me, “EURO already was well-known as a racist hate group at the time that Steve Scalise apparently spoke to its workshop, and it is hard to believe that any aspiring politician would not have known that. In any case, it’s worth noting that Scalise apparently did not leave even after hearing other racist speakers spouting their hatred.”

Why would a congressman speak to this group? Scalise’s choice to speak shows the incredible power prejudice still wields in modern Louisiana.

My friend Lamar White, a Louisiana journalist, broke the story about Scalise by publishing the Stormfront posts about the speech on Sunday. READ MORE

Steve Scalise's Voting Records

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cartoonist Dan Perkins (aka Tom Tomorrow) announced as Pulitzer finalist for 'This Modern World'

The Pulitzer Prize committee has announced that Dan Perkins, whose brilliant cartoon "This Modern World" with its often serrated humor appears Mondays at Daily Kos, is a finalist in this year's Editorial Cartooning category. It's a belated honor for Perkins, who began the cartoon 25 years ago in the Processed World, a magazine about the digital age from the standpoint of office workers. It was later picked up by alternative weeklies such as the San Diego Reader and the SF Weekly. It has since been syndicated in scores of newspapers.

The other finalist this year is Kevin Kallaugher of the Baltimore Sun. The Pulitzer winner is Adam Zyglis, the staff editorial cartoonist for The Buffalo News.

In its notice, the committee said Perkins's cartoons "create an alternate universe—an America frozen in time whose chorus of conventional wisdom is at odds with current reality."

Perkins is also responsible for putting together the Daily Kos comics page. Of the news, Markos Moulitsas said:  READ MORE

CNN: National Guard called Ferguson protestors 'enemy forces' and 'adversaries'

After analyzing thousands of pages of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, CNN's Barbara Starr and Wes Bruer released a very disturbing report on Friday morning. In it, they reveal that the National Guard saw protestors as the enemy:

As the Missouri National Guard prepared to deploy to help quell riots in Ferguson, Missouri, that raged sporadically last year, the guard used highly militarized words such as "enemy forces" and "adversaries" to refer to protesters, according to documents obtained by CNN. READ MORE

What if America Loved Black People the way they Love Appropriating Black Culture?

I'm gonna let this largely speak for itself as a statement about modern culture and modern race relations.  I will note first that this young lady is only 16 years old and then I'll add my own commentary over the flip.

Via Rawstory.
The line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred,” 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg says in the video. “But here’s the thing: Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves. Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they are partaking in.” he video, titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Corn Rows,” began as a school project but got wider attention after being posted online. Stenberg shows clips of singers Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry engaging in the behavior in both their attire and, in Cyrus’ case, her emphasis on “twerking” while using black women as “props.”
“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as black culture?” Stenberg asks.
Now Amandia Stenberg isn't just a regular person.  Well, not exactly. She's considerably media savvy since she starred as the character Rue in the first installment of the Hunger Games trilogy.
Amandia Stenberg as
She was also the target of a vicious racial backlash because many fans of the book apparently didn't know or realize that the character she played, one that was beloved by many, was always supposed to be black. Via the Washington Post.
Stenberg knows a thing or two about the world’s complicated relationship with race. She was cast in the prominent role of Rue, a young heroine in the first “Hunger Games” movie. As she was in the books, Rue is the soul of the Panem’s rebellion. Rue is also black.
Yet, when Stenberg was cast as the dark-skinned, brown-eyed character in the film, the Internet showed its ugly face. It also showed that it has an oft-times racist face — and a reading-comprehension problem: “Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins has said specifically that Rue and another character in the book and movie, Thresh, “are African American.”
In the books it's the death of Rue that sparks much of what follows all the way through to the story's conclusion.
On Twitter, some questioned why Thresh was cast as a black man. Others said their sorrow at Rue’s death was lessened because the character was played by a black girl. Some tweets included the “n-word.” The outpouring of hatred has spawned an impassioned, and sometimes witty, response. Never mind that these fans of the “Hunger Games” story misread basic descriptive sentences in the narrative. Why do some readers automatically assume characters are white?
So some perceive it as "wrong" for black characters to be played by black people.  That they have less sorrow at their deaths, and less empathy for their life - if they have to imagine that person is black. All of that is because they perceived that character as white in their own minds.

Prominent doctors write Columbia University asking them to cut ties with Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz, the once anointed by Oprah medical miracle worker, is in more hot water. This time it is not simply because he is a television "doctor" but because of the very real position he holds at the prestigious Columbia University as Vice Chair of the Surgery Department. A group of 10 physicians penned a letter and Dr. Henry I. Miller of Stanford University's Hoover Institution emailed it to Columbia University's office of communications.

"We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery.
 "As described here and here, as well as in other publications, Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.
"Thus, Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both. Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz's presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable."  READ MORE
--------------------FROM THE COMMENTS SECTION----------------------------------------------------
We already know about "The Hoover Institute" another right wing funded group with an impressive sounding name.  But there are also signatories of the ACOSAH which a commenter clarifies below.  Can't take anything today at face value,  eh?
American Council on Science and Health (2+ / 0-)(
Mother Jones expose in 2013: Leaked Documents Reveal the Secret Finances of a Pro-Industry Science Group
The American Council on Science and Health defends fracking, BPA, and pesticides. Guess who their funders are.
Bet you guessed correctly, Gooserock. Here's their list:
ACSH donors in the second half of 2012 included Chevron ($18,500), Coca-Cola ($50,000), the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation ($15,000), Dr. Pepper/Snapple ($5,000), Bayer Cropscience ($30,000), Procter and Gamble ($6,000), agribusiness giant Syngenta ($22,500), 3M ($30,000), McDonald's ($30,000), and tobacco conglomerate Altria ($25,000). Among the corporations and foundations that ACSH has pursued for financial support since July 2012 are Pepsi, Monsanto, British American Tobacco, DowAgro, ExxonMobil Foundation, Phillip Morris International, Reynolds American, the Koch family-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Dow-linked Gerstacker Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, and the Searle Freedom Trust.

Arizona government to recently insured Arizonans: F**k you.

There's a new law in Arizona designed to tell the world just how much the state's lawmakers hate Obamacare. Any hate to individual Arizonans who will be hurt by this law is merely implied.
Arizona has passed a bizarre new law in which the state effectively promises that if the Supreme Court destroys its health exchange, it won't build a new one, no matter how badly Arizonans are hurting. […]
So if the Supreme Court rules against Obamacare this year, Arizona will arguably have no legal recourse or backup option to build a new marketplace.  READ MORE

And another one: Cops kill black man in beating that broke his spine.

Black suspect dies after Baltimore cops break his spine in ‘brutal’ police beating
Freddie Gray had to undergo a double surgery on three broken vertebrae and an injured voice box on Tuesday, after he was released by the police. He died today after days of remaining in a coma.

The 27-year old was arrested last week for an undisclosed violation. The police said that he was restrained on the ground by an officer during the arrest, but appeared to be fine when he was taken to the district station. However, a cell phone video shows that the arresting officers used force that some may seen as “brutal.” READ MORE

Hillary Clinton hands a forced-birther's behind back to him on a platter.

A beautiful thing.

When Representative Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey and A-Hole in general) asked then-Secretary Hillary Clinton back in 2009 about the "sanctity of life" and banning abortion in developing nations across the world, he got char-broiled by her response.
For those of you who don't have video, here's a snippet of her response.
"When I think of the suffering around the world – I’ve been in hospitals in Brazil where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting new babies and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions.”
“I’ve been in African countries where 12 and 13 year old girls are bearing children. I have been in Asian countries where the denial of family planning confines women to lives of oppression and hardship."
This is quite true, needless to say. To get the wondrous effect of Secretary Clinton's icy disdain of Rep. Smith's whole opinion, you need to watch the video. Nothing shows the rage of a woman hearing a man say, essentially, "I believe in the sanctity of hypothetical life when the burden for 'preserving' this life lies entirely on a gender that is not my own. Through fortune of birth, I have been spared the fear of pregnancy and childbirth and will work tirelessly so that those who are less fortunate will have even more unnecessarily difficult lives because of my actions," than Secretary Clinton's expression as Rep. Smith asks his idiotic question.  FROM THE SITE


How Corporate Media Plans To Cash In On 'Clinton Cash' Scandal Book

There's another Clinton scandal book coming out in a few weeks, and the Villagers are all a-flutter. The New York Times gave it the star treatment today in a piece by lazy Times journalist Amy Chozick (she of the similarly spotty Hillary Clinton emails story).
Now look. I don't care what you think about Hillary Clinton, because this is about something much larger: namely, that the media wants to decide elections, and they will use anything against Democrats they can find. It's up to us to hold them to some kind of standard:
Here are the things you need to know:
Author Peter Schweizer is a fellow at the wingnut Hoover Institution, and the founder and president of the Government Accountability Institute. Via Wikipedia Sourcewatch:  READ MORE

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Missouri town elects first black mayor; 80% of the police, city attorney, water supervisor resign

Tyrus Byrd being sworn into office in Parma, Missouri
What the hell were they afraid of?
Born and raised in tiny Parma, Missouri, Tyrus Byrd, a Christian missionary and the city clerk of Parma, decided she wanted to give running for mayor a shot. She beat the incumbent mayor, a white man, by 37 votes. Before she could take office, police officers and city employees scrambled like roaches with the light flipped on:
Tyrus Byrd will be sworn in as mayor on Tuesday evening, April 14, at the Parma Community Building. According to Mayor Randall Ramsey, five out of six police officers resigned this week, effectively immediately.

Mayor Ramsey said the city's attorney, the clerk and the waste water treatment plant supervisor also turned in resignation letters citing "safety concerns."

Mayor Elect, Tyrus Byrd, said she was unaware of the situation and plans to ask questions about the "safety concerns" during Tuesday night's ceremony.
Safety concerns? READ MORE

Supreme Court, in flushing North Carolina GOP maps, may upend some of the most extreme gerrymanders

North Carolina's current congressional districts (click to enlarge)
On Monday, the Supreme Court vacated a ruling from North Carolina's highest court that had upheld Republican-drawn maps of the state's congressional and legislative districts. While we don't yet know what the final outcome will be, the court's decision could have a real impact on one of the most aggressively partisan gerrymanders in the nation.

Democrats had argued that the new lines were unconstitutional because they'd improperly taken voters' race into account; while this line of attack did not receive a receptive audience in state court, the SCOTUS decreed that in light of a recent decision of theirs in a similar case out of Alabama, the North Carolina Supreme Court had to reconsider its decision.

So what did that Alabama decision say? In that case, plaintiffs claimed that Republicans—who had their hands on the cartographer's pencil there as well—had packed black voters into too few districts, "bleaching" surrounding districts and thus diminishing Democratic voting strength in those areas (because African-Americans almost always vote heavily for Democrats). There as here, a lower court sided with the defendants, but the Supreme Court disagreed and sent that case back down for a re-hearing last month. We're still awaiting the results, and may yet for a while. READ MORE

What would a Rand Paul Presidency look like?

Swiftboat 2016: Why Buy The Ad When You Can Get The Press For Free?

Anyone know these guys?
Today's news is full of speculation about what the Government Accountability Institute has dredged up on Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and donors from foreign countries who gave to different initiatives promoted by the Clinton Foundation. You can read all about that here, here, or here.

Who funds the Government Accountability Institute?

Answers to those questions aren't all that difficult to find if one looks in the usual places. Since it is a 501(c)(3) public charity, donations are tax-deductible, and they're required to file the usual tax reports with the IRS. As it turns out, so are some of their funders, so the IRS reports give a pretty clear look at who's footing the bill for all of this "government accountability."

The three largest donors to the GAI are Donors' Trust, the Koch-founded and operated political slush fund through which donations are laundered and sent to various organizations connected with them, Franklin Center, and the Mercer Family Foundation in New York.

The Mercer Family Foundation is a private foundation established by right-wing hedge fund mogul Robert Mercer. The trustee of the foundation is Rebekah Mercer, who also happens to sit on on the GAI board, alongside Citizens United board member Ron Robinson, former Wall Streeter Hunter Lewis, and Heritage Foundation Fellow Owen T. SmithREAD MORE

Sunday, April 19, 2015

No thanks to Walmart

I think we can all agree that 2010 wasn’t the best of years. After all, unemployment at midyear was still bordering on 10 percent, home foreclosures were at a record high, and profits per employee at US corporations only rose 24 percent. Now, go back and read that last one again. As it happens, U.S. corporations were on their way to record profits in 2010, raking in more money at the same time as they were cutting both staff and benefits.

Think that’s a fluke? Profits per employee jumped another 22 percent in 2011. That’s as layoffs reached record heights and 312,000 jobs were eliminated. The year 2011 also marked another record year of profits for U.S. companies. Not only did Fortune 500 corporations pocket a record $824.5 billion, they generated earnings at a rate 23 percent percent higher than the historical average. By the end of that year, Apple alone had $76 billion in the bank, after generating a profit amounting to half a million dollars per employee.

Tell me again that this was a hard year. The economy is bad only in that we've allowed the economy of corporations and the economy of real, living human beings to become totally disconnected.
It’s one thing to say that middle class wages are stagnant while those of the top 1 percent are continuously growing, but there’s a deeper, more fundamental flaw in our current notion of capitalism: Everyone understands that profit is good, but no one seems to understand what profit is for. We’ve constructed a set of standard practices that would not only make Gordon Gekko blush, they’re self-destructive. American capitalism is profiting itself to death.

Few companies are as emblematic of the New American System as is Walmart. The company that in 2011 generated more revenues than any other, the company that is now the largest food retailer in the world is the same company that recently encouraged donations of food to its own employees. It’s also a company that, putting aside any losses generated when it replaces smaller, local stores, causes a net loss to every community it enters in the form of increased tax revenues needed to support the underpaid employees. Walnart not only counts on taxpayer dollars to subsidize its “low cost” stores, it counts on that same taxpayer dollars to drive its business. Walmart employees not only need food stamps to get by, Walmart is the largest place where those food stamps are redeemed. It’s a cycle that grinds employees (and communities) relentlessly down, while driving Walmart revenues just as consistently up.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way.  READ MORE

De-mythologizing the Wild West: gun laws were actually stricter then than now

It's all part of the lore of the Wild West: men armed to the teeth ready to shoot it out with one another on Main Street at a moment's notice.  And it's an image, bolstered by Hollywood, that gun-lovers and the NRA are only too happy to cultivate, as they look to our romanticized view of the past to justify having virtually no gun-control laws today. But is that the way it really was in the Old West?
Not according to Katherine Benton-Cohen, history professor at Georgetown University.

In an article she posted in Politico immediately after the Gabrielle Giffords' shooting in Tucson in January, 2011, she argues that many people have the lesson of Tombstone all wrong, that Tombstone was NOT a place of carefree gun usage and wild shootouts (except for the obvious one):
The irony ... is that Tombstone lawmakers in the 1880s did more to combat gun violence than the Arizona government does today.

For all the talk of the “Wild West,” the policymakers of 1880 Tombstone—and many other Western towns—were ardent supporters of gun control. When people now compare things to the “shootout at the OK Corral,” they mean vigilante violence by gunfire. But this is exactly what the Tombstone town council had been trying to avoid.

In late 1880, as regional violence ratcheted up, Tombstone strengthened its existing ban on concealed weapons to outlaw the carrying of any deadly weapons within the town limits. The Earps (who were Republicans) and Doc Holliday maintained that they were acting as law officers—not citizen vigilantes—when they shot their opponents. That is to say, they were sworn officers whose jobs included enforcement of Tombstone’s gun laws.
Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle to Bear Arms in America, concurs:

Yet this is all based on a widely shared misunderstanding of the Wild West. Frontier towns -- places like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge -- actually had the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation.  READ MORE
In fact, many of those same cities have far less burdensome gun control today then they did back in the 1800s.

I met some tea partiers today, and they seemed mentally unbalanced *UPDATE*

I know people object to the loose using of words like "mentally ill," but I don't know how else to describe it. This was not "wow, I disagree with their positions," this was absolute, off-the-wall, divorced from reality, frightening paranoia, on scale withe "the cia is listening to me through the walls."

To start with, I didn't hunt down tea partiers. I just ended up in a room with a dozen or so people who launched into this type of stuff. I asked, are they part of the tea party? And they cheered before announcing that, yes, they were all tea partiers, had participated in protests, and had even traveled to Washington (from Texas) to be part of a big rally up there.

They asked me if I was one of "those people" who opposed the tea party. And I said, in hopes of hearing an answer, that, no, I neither supported or opposed because I didn't know enough about what they believed. Could you explain it to me?....

And then everything went off the rails.  READ MORE

Florida Republican Submits Anti-Corporate Tax Bill Without Removing ALEC Mission Statement

Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin (R-56), a 29 year old
former legislative aide and graduate of
Moody Bible Institute
It is now the common wisdom of millions of interested parties that ALEC does not work for the vast majority of citizens, that it is a vicious corporate lobby and that it is thee main force behind the deterioration of personal liberties and workers' rights in the United States.

Arguing against ALEC's influence over state legislation has become more difficult thanks to efforts such as ALEC Exposed which display how similar bills advancing in GOP-controlled states are and from whence they originate.  Now, Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin (R-56), a 29 year old former legislative aide and graduate of Moody Bible Institute, has made the task of indicting ALEC for undue influence in state politics that much easier by forgetting to remove ALEC's mission statement from a bill (PDF) she suddenly "decided” to propose.  This bill calls on the federal government to reduce taxes for corporations (HM 685).
Burgin discovered her error, but not before Common Blog spotted it:

All ALEC model resolutions contain a boilerplate paragraph, describing ALEC’s adherence to free market principles and limited government.  When legislators introduce one of ALEC’s bills, they normally remove this paragraph. Sometimes (but only sometimes) legislators will make some slight alterations to anALEC model bill,perhaps to include something specific to them or to their state. Rep. Burgin didn’t do that.  Instead she introduced a bill that was the same as the model word-for-word, forgetting even to remove the paragraph naming ALEC and describing its principles.

As a Texas Governor might say; “Oops!” READ MORE

As It Moved To Seize Home, Bank Never Told Widow Her Loan Was Insured

WASHINGTON — For more than a decade after her husband died, Laura Coleman Biggs paid her mortgage to a Bank of America subsidiary. She was never told, even as she was weeks from losing her home, that her husband had actually protected her against foreclosure.

George "Kenny" Mitchell had taken out a special lender-pushed insurance policy to pay off most of his loan if he died.

But when he passed away on April 26, 2003, the subsidiary of Bank of America did not arrange a payoff of the $100,000 policy and continued to charge his widow an insurance premium every month along with her mortgage payment.

Now Bank of America, Select Portfolio Servicing — a company that collects mortgage payments — and a Florida insurer all face a federal lawsuit in California seeking compensatory and punitive damages, alleging negligence and fraud for their treatment of Biggs.

Her lawyers hope it will pull others out of the shadows nationwide who've faced similar problems with the nation's big banks, already forced to pay regulators billions over the housing bust. The plight of the former nurse speaks to how much dysfunction remains in the housing finance system, which nearly toppled the U.S. economy seven years ago.  READ MORE

Cashin' In Crew Attacks CEO Who Upped Workers' Pay To $70K A Year

We're already used to seeing the regulars on Fox's Cashin' In attacking minimum wage workers and and supporting companies that want a race to the bottom on wages and claiming that we don't need the government to interfere because the "free market" will take care of everything instead.

So what happens when a business decides to buck the trend we've seen where CEO pay is hundreds of times higher than the average worker at most companies, and actually pay all of their workers at least $70 thousand a year? They go on the attack, of course.  READ MORE

O’Reilly: White Men Are ‘Under Siege’ From Liberals And Race-Baiters

Fox’s Jarrett And McInerney Team Up To Blame Everything Wrong In Iraq On Obama (And Forget About Bush/Cheney)

Fox News host Gregg Jarrett and “military analyst” Tom McInerney exploited the very serious news that the Iraqi city of Ramadi might fall to ISIS in order to smear President Obama as an ISIS and/or Iran enabler. Apparently, they missed Jon Stewart’s devastating takedown that pointed a hilarious finger at Dick Cheney.

It was clear that the aim of this supposedly “fair and balanced” segment was to make Obama look bad rather than to enlighten viewers about Ramadi. For those watching the segment online, the first clue was the title: “White House hampering efforts to weaken ISIS?”

McInerney wasted no time suggesting President Obama is empowering ISIS. He told Jarrett that ISIS appears to be strengthening, not weakening. And he immediately suggested it was Obama’s fault.

McInerney called our air strikes “piddling.” He added, “We need to be up in four to five hundred strikes a day there and use our power effectively. We are deliberately not doing it. And that’s coming out of The White House.”  READ MORE

Maher: In Honor Of Earth Day, America Must Save The Republican Who Still Believes In Science

Bill Maher wants America to save that creature that's on the verge of extinction for this year's Earth Day... a Republican who still believes in science. During his New Rules segment this Friday evening, the Real Time host brought back his segment from last year, Zombie Lies with a new edition aimed at climate change denying Republicans, and proceeded to take the audience through the list of lies told on the subject by the likes of Jeb Bush, John Boehner, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz.

After getting particularly animated over Ted Cruz and his ridiculous comments where he was comparing himself to Galileo, Maher realized that getting excited is a waste of time because of the real problem with the likes of Cruz and his ilk. READ MORE

George Lucas Can't Build A Studio, So He's Doing A Really Great Thing Instead

George Luca's estate
Just one more reason to love George Lucas. After his plans to build a movie studio on his 1000+ acres of prime Marin County land were rebuffed, Lucas decided he was going to do something with it anyway, come hell or high water.

If his zillionaire neighbors didn't like the studio, I'm pretty sure they're not going to like this, and there's not much they can do about it.

His neighbors wouldn't let him build a film studio.

So George Lucas is retaliating in a way that only the cream of Hollywood could - by building the largest affordable housing development in the area.

The complex of affordable housing, funded and designed by the Star Wars director, would provide homes to 224 low-income families.

And there's very little his fellow Bay Area residents can do about it. READ MORE

Wisconsin Senator Fears Fallout If SCOTUS Kills ACA Subsidies

My first reaction to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson's pearl-clutching? When you're owned by the Kochs, you do what the Kochs want you to, consequences be damned. So forgive me if I'm not moved by Johnson's sudden fears that Republicans will be blamed if the Supreme Court guts the ACA subsidies for states without their own exchanges.

That's a little like tossing a Molotov cocktail into a crowd and then worrying that you'll get blamed if anyone gets burned. Give me a break.

In a radio interview earlier this week, RoJo worried about what would happen if his side wins.
JOHNSON: Unfortunately, President Obama's response to an adverse decision — in other words one that actually follows the law — would be really simple. Just a one-sentence bill allowing people’s subsidies to flow to federal exchanges and/or offer the governors, 'Hey, we know you got those federal exchanges. Just sign the bottom line. We’ll make those established by the state.' And of course, he'll have the ads all racked up with the individuals that have benefited from Obamacare on the backs of the American taxpayer. He'll have all those examples as well so...

WEBER: And the sad sack stories about who's dying from what and why they can’t get their coverage.