Thursday, February 17, 2011

Last Call

Arizona really is the craziest, meanest state in the nation, mainly because it's full of crazy mean Republicans.

It's not quite a scarlet letter.

But a Chandler Republican lawmaker wants the debit cards now given to food-stamp recipients to be bright safety orange. And if there's any doubt what the card pulled out of someone's wallet at the checkout is, that would be erased by the words "Government Food Stamp Card" stamped across it in large black print.

First-term Rep. Jeff Dial said his goal is not to stigmatize those who qualify for the aid, formally known as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Instead, Dial said he wants to prevent fraud.

"If that does concern people that they have a bright orange card, I hope they go get a better education or better jobs and stop using that card," he said.

Yeah, he doesn't want to stigmatize people who have to resort to SNAP, he's just hoping the bright orange card will embarrass people enough to make them start their own business.  SNAP cards are run by the credit card and bank companies anyway, they have quite a bit of fraud protection on them (that taxpayers are paying the credit card companies and banks to handle.)  The bright orange thing is just to remove any dignity they might have left, because there are really tens of millions of jobs out there, people are just out of work and on SNAP because they're all lazy welfare queens driving Cadillacs.

There but for the grace of God goes this nitwit.  Can they pass a law that forces this guy to wear a bright orange jacket that says "Arizona Government Employee" on it?

South Dakota's Dead Or Alive Abortion Provider Bill Gets The Hook

Somebody needs to give MoJo's Kate Sheppard an award, because if she hadn't noticed this law, it probably would have passed before anyone did.

A state bill to expand the definition of justifiable homicide in South Dakota to include killing someone in the defense of an unborn child was postponed indefinitely Wednesday after an uproar over whether the legislation would put abortion providers at greater risk.

The House speaker, Val Rausch, said that the legislation had been shelved, pending a decision on whether to allow a vote, amend the language or drop it entirely. A spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard said, “Clearly the bill as it’s currently written is a very bad idea.”

The bill, approved by the House Judiciary Committee last week on a 9-to-3 party-line vote, establishes in part that “homicide is justifiable if committed by any person in the lawful defense of such person, or of his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person.”

The phrasing caused concern and disbelief on both sides of the abortion debate, with activists in the abortion rights and anti-abortion movements calling the language poorly conceived at best, and perhaps an incitement to violence. The bill was cheered, though, by those anti-abortion activists who argue that the use of violence is justified to stop doctors from carrying out abortions.

Dr. Marvin Buehner, of Rapid City, S.D., who is the only doctor in the region to provide abortions for women whose health and safety are at risk, said he was shaken by the measure.

“Once you get the sense that the Legislature will tolerate violence against abortion providers, even if the legislation is not enacted, it crosses the line into intimidation,” he said. 

Brave guy, when a state legislature decides to look the other way while your death is sanctioned.  It seems however that the media storm has done its job and the bill's not going anywhere without a major rewrite.

Well Boss Hogg Didn't Think It Was Trouble, But The Duke Boys Knew Better

Ol' Boss Hogg's lips have to be getting tired blowing on that racial dog whistle.

Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, declined to denounce a group's proposal that the state issue a license plate honoring an early Ku Klux Klan leader.

The idea, put forth by the white heritage group Sons of Confederate Veterans, would create a state-issued license plate by 2014 in honor of Confederate General and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. It would include a car tag and a series of other Civil War license plates.

Mississippi lawmakers are considering the proposal, and Barbour said it's unlikely to be approved but refused to stake out a position against it.

"I don't go around denouncing people," Barbour told reporters Tuesday in his home state when asked about the idea, according to The Associated Press.

Look, your personal opinions about Gen. Forrest being honored with a license plate aside, if this chucklehead really did have anything close to a shot left in 2012, it just died this week.  From a political standpoint Boss Hogg here just shot himself through the foot with a large enough round for both feet at once.  Then again, given the state of the competition in 2012, maybe Barbour figures this is his ace card.

Won't he make a good President after Obama.

Being Civil In The Aloha State

Less than a year after Republican governor Linda Lingle vetoed a civil unions bill in Hawaii, Democrat Neal Abercrombie is now ready to sign the bill into law.

By a vote of 18-5, the chamber approved Senate Bill 232, legalizing civil unions in Hawaii.

The measure now goes to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports civil unions and has promised to sign the bill into law.

By law, the governor has 10 days from the time the bill reaches his desk to decide on the bill, putting his deadline on or about March 3.

The governor's office said details on the bill's signing were forthcoming. Abercrombie is scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., next week for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association from Feb. 26-28.

In a written statement, Abercrombie said civil unions "respect our diversity, protect people's privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha."

"This has been an emotional process for everyone involved, but that process is now ended," he added. "Everyone has been heard; all points of view respected.

"For me, this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii."

And while "anything can happen" is the mantra often heard among veteran Capitol watchers, most supporters seemed unworried.

"No concerns whatsoever," said Alan Spector, co-chairman of Equality Hawaii. "The bill is passed and Gov. Abercrombie has promised to sign it.

"It was one of his campaign promises. He supports this. We have absolutely nothing to worry about."

Once signed into law, couples would be able to enter civil unions starting Jan. 1.

Hawaii would become the seventh state to grant civil unions to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself. Five states and Washington, D.C., permit same-sex marriage.

It's a step in the right direction, and more and more states are taking them.

Military Fails To Protect Female Soldiers

WASHINGTON – A group of U.S. veterans who say they were raped and abused by their comrades want to force the Pentagon to change how it handles such cases.

More than a dozen female and two male current or former service members say servicemen get away with rape and other sexual abuse and victims are too often ordered to continue to serve alongside those they say attacked them.
In one instance, a woman who was bruised from her attack itself and from being restrained was told she didn't fight hard enough and wasn't acting like a rape victim.  Another woman was threatened with physical harm for speaking to her commander. This example says it all, I think:

Kori Cioca, 25, of Wilmington, Ohio, described being hit in the face by a superior in one incident in 2005 and being raped by the same man in a second incident soon after while serving in the Coast Guard in Bay City, Mich.

Even though the man confessed to having sex with her, Cioca said in the lawsuit she was told if she pressed forward with reporting the sex as a rape, she would be court-martialed for lying. She said the man pleaded guilty only to hitting her and his punishment was a minor loss of pay and being forced to stay on the base for 30 days. She said she was discharged from the military for a "history of inappropriate relationships."

Women have valuable roles in the military.  They are also risking their lives (and apparently a whole lot more) to serve their country.  They deserve better from their fellow soldiers, their chain of seniority, and their country.  The rationale that directors don't want something like that on their record doesn't lessen the fact that an innocent person was purposely harmed.

TSA = They Steal Anything

A TSA supervisor stole money from passengers who went through his security checkpoint and accepted bribes and kickbacks from a colleague.

Michael Arato, a supervisor at Newark Liberty Airport, admitted on Monday that he regularly took money from passengers during security screenings and deliberately targeted foreigners who could not speak much English.
The 41-year-old, from Ewing, admitted in federal court that he permitted a worker he supervised to steal $10,000 to $30,000 in cash from traveller's bags over a 13-month period.

So does anyone else think they should go through those scanners when they leave their shift?  The TSA is going to have to earn the public trust if they are going to insist that we run through hoops and make it easy for them.  Any business can hire a thief, it happens to the best of them.  However, creating an abusable system is on them, and the failure to make the screening process more transparent (pun intended) will benefit everyone.

Orange You Supposed To Create Jobs?

Dana Milbank's number came up this week in the "Random Acts Of Actual Journalism" lottery and he turns in a column that actually asks a decent question:  Just how many jobs will be lost by the Republican budget cuts?

"So be it."

That was House Speaker John Boehner's cold answer when asked Tuesday about job losses that would come from his new Republican majority's plans to cut tens of billions of dollars in government spending this year.

"Do you have any sort of estimate on how many jobs will be lost through this?" Pacifica Radio's Leigh Ann Caldwell inquired at a news conference just before the House began its debate on the cuts.

Boehner stood firm in his polished tassel loafers. "Since President Obama has taken office the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs, and if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it," he said.

"Do you have any estimate of how many will?" Caldwell pressed. "And won't that negatively impact the economy?"

"I do not," Boehner replied, moving to the next questioner.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I do. I checked with budget expert Scott Lilly of the Center for American Progress, and, using the usual multipliers, he calculated that the cuts - a net of $59 billion in the last half of fiscal 2011 - would lead to the loss of 650,000 government jobs, and the indirect loss of 325,000 more jobs as fewer government workers travel and buy things. That's nearly 1 million jobs - possibly enough to tip the economy back into recession.

So be it? 

Of course, that didn't stop Orange Julius's own party from stabbing him in the back today as they shot down the F-35 jet's second engine project (which would of course been built partially by GE in Boehner's backyard of Dayton and nearby Evendale.)

He's against government jobs, willing to put one million Americans out of work this year and then blame Obama for it, but he sure as hell tried to save his own orange ass with government money, eh?  Even his own party wasn't going to buy that and they left him hanging out to dry as the vote failed.

So if the jobs are in Boehner's district, he cares.  The other 434 congressional districts can rot.  These crazy Republicans are going to literally wreck the economy and cost the country a million jobs just to try to win in 2012, and they think you're stupid enough to fall for it.

Nice guys, huh?

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims this week up 25k to 410k, so that's not good.  We really need to stay below 400k.

Core inflation up slightly, but still not enough to indicate anything more than stagnant princes on big ticket items.  Commodities are another story. 120k people fell off the 99er cliff last week of January, too.  Not good.

Want A Job? Better Have A Job Then

More and more employers are requiring prospective employees to already have a job before they'll even consider looking at them.  If you're unemployed, don't bother to apply.  Turns out the EEOC is taking a look.

As if finding work weren't hard enough already, a federal agency warns that some employers are excluding jobless workers from consideration for openings.

The practice has surfaced in electronic and print postings with language such as "unemployed applicants will not be considered" or "must be currently employed." Some ads use time thresholds to exclude applicants who've been unemployed longer than six months or a year.

Evidence of the practice has been mostly anecdotal, and information about how widespread it may be is sketchy.

But with unemployment at 9 percent and millions of people struggling to find jobs, the practice has caught the attention of regulators, lawmakers and advocates for the unemployed.

"At a moment when we all should be doing whatever we can to open up job opportunities to the unemployed, it is profoundly disturbing that the trend of deliberately excluding the jobless from work opportunities is on the rise," said Christine Owens, the executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

Expect more and more companies to do this until somebody takes it to court.  It's a lot easier to strip minorities, women, people with kids and older Americans from the applicant pool by saying "unemployed need not apply" and leave the folks who will work 70 hours a week on a flat salary without complaining.  But hey, after years of stripping unions and collective bargaining from the workplace, this is what you get.


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