Monday, October 6, 2014

Last Call For Philly Staked And Cheesed

Pennsylvania GOP Gov. Tom Corbett's numbers are in freefall these days, and with a month to go before he loses in a landslide to Democrat Tom Wolf, Corbett is reminding everyone of what Republicans have done to Pennsylvania's union heritage: Philadelphia teachers have had their contract summarily canceled in order to take their health care benefits away.

The state panel that oversees Philadelphia’s cash-strapped public schools abruptly canceled a contract with teachers on Monday, despite nearly two years of labor negotiations, and said teachers would have to begin paying for healthcare benefits.

The move, which a labor expert said was likely unprecedented in the United States, would free up $43.8 million for the district this school year. Next year, it is facing a $71 million budget shortfall.

The system’s long-running financial woes have become a full-blown crisis over the past couple years, leading to thousands of layoffs, dozens of shuttered buildings and program cuts.

The move will affect the roughly 16,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers, assistants, nurses, counselors and others.

Keep in mind the Republicans on the state education board simply canceled the teachers' contracts.  No negotiation, no bargaining, no appeal, just zap and gone.  Contract law simply means nothing in the state now, because Republicans will crush teachers in order to destroy public education in the state.  Corbett and state Republicans simply decided that Philadelphia's school district was under this provision, and then they used it.


That's what "right-to-work" means.  You have the right to work for what your bosses tell you you'll work for, or poof.

But please, continue to believe the problem is "greedy teacher's unions" because schoolteachers are such awful human beings who have to be punished whenever possible, the slime.  Meanwhile, more tax cuts for the rich!



It's what you voted for, Pennsylvania.  Please fix that in November.

The State Of Red State Abortion

The recent 5th Circuit ruling allowing Texas's clinic-closing regulations on abortion to become law is, as the Washington Post's Paul Waldman reminds us, just the next step in the complete elimination of abortion in America by the right.

But the kind of law that Texas passed is aimed at shutting down clinics entirely. It does so by imposing a set of requirements on clinics that are designed to be nearly impossible to meet. The best known is the requirement that the physician performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within a certain radius of a given clinic. This would have precisely zero effect on whether a woman suffering complications from an abortion could get care at any hospital; a doctor without admitting privileges can still bring her patient to the hospital if it becomes necessary. It just means that one of the hospital’s doctors would have to officially admit the patient. 
Because of an organized campaign of terrorism aimed at abortion doctors over the last couple of decades, which has included bombings and assassinations, many doctors come from out of state to provide abortions, and therefore can’t have admitting privileges; hospitals are also reluctant to bestow the admitting privileges on a doctor providing abortions for fear they too could become a target. 
Like other restrictions, the admitting privileges requirement was concocted by Republican legislators precisely because they knew many abortion clinics would be unable to satisfy it and would therefore have to shut down. Texas’ law also requires that facilities performing abortions meet the building standards of ambulatory surgical clinics, which can mean millions of dollars in unnecessary upgrades. 
This decision wasn’t surprising, given that the 5th Circuit is a particularly conservative court. But the reasoning of the judges was breathtaking all the same. The Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision written by Sandra Day O’Connor in 1992 established the “undue burden” standard, which says that a state can restrict abortion so long as the restrictions don’t impose an undue burden on women. This court decided that despite the fact that Texas’ law would mean that one out of every six women in the state would live more than 150 miles from the nearest abortion clinics after the law shut so many of them down, that wouldn’t constitute an undue burden. As Jeffrey Toobin wrote: “The members of the Fifth Circuit panel seem to believe that anything short of a nationwide ban on abortion does not amount to an undue burden on women’s rights. This is the argument that will soon be heading to the Supreme Court.”

There's no reason to believe the result in the eventual Supreme Court ruling will be anything other than a 5-4 agreement with the 5th Circuit, with Anthony Kennedy's lasting legacy being the effective end of abortion in red states.

It just goes to show you that Republicans don't care about non-intrusive small government at all, they just want a government that punishes their political enemies and refuses to help them when they come looking for relief.  It also goes to show you that Republicans consider unmarried women to be their political enemies (as well as married ones who may not want to carry a child to term.)

But there's no war on women, and you should probably stay home because you're mad at Obama and not vote next month.

BREAKING: SCOTUS Punts On Marriage Equality

Today the Supreme Court denied requests to take up any of the five state cases appealing lower Circuit court rulings finding those state bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, letting those decisions stand.

Which means in Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, Utah, and Wisconsin, same-sex marriage is now 100% legal.

Oh, but there's more:

Other states under the jurisdiction of appeals courts that struck down the bans will also be affected, meaning the number of states with gay marriage is likely to quickly jump from 19 to 30.

The other states would be North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado
The high court’s decision not to hear the cases was unexpected because most legal experts believed it would want to weigh in on a question of national importance that focuses on whether the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment under the law means gay marriage bans were unlawful. 
The issue could still return to the court, but the message sent by the court in declining to hear the matter would be a boost to gay marriage advocates involved in similar litigation in states that still have bans on the books.

The Sixth Circuit's decision pending on Kentucky's appeal is still forthcoming, but I can't imagine SCOTUS acting now until a Circuit Court finds same-sex marriage bans Constitutional somehow.  At this point, without a ruling challenging this, SCOTUS will keep punting until all 50 states have marriage equality.

The Loan Rearranger Rides Again

Time for this week's helping of Right-Wing Millennial Shaming(tm) from an unlikely source, TIME Magazine via, as recent college graduate Jessica Slizewski gives her treatise on why those of us who took out student loans in the last ten years or so have only yourself to blame.

I can’t pretend I completely understand how these people feel after the fun is over and the repayments begin, but I can say that I really don’t feel bad for them.

Why not? Because I worked hard to avoid taking out loans. My wonderful parents and grandmother helped me pay for my education, but in the end, it was a few decisions I made that saved me the burden of borrowing money I would never have been able to pay back. Unlike the majority of my friends who went to schools less than an hour from their parents’ homes and chose to live on campus rather than commute, my college roommates were named Mom and Dad. I chose state schools that were half, sometimes one-quarter, of the cost of the schools my friends were attending and worked a part-time on-campus scholarship job in addition to full-time hours at my retail job. I spent the four years of my life designed for partying essentially reliving my high school years. And yes, it was awful.

Imagine the stereotypical American college experience. You pick some private university in the middle of a cornfield with a tuition price of about $36,000 a year, plus room and board, party it up every night since you’ve finally escaped the teenage hellhole known as your family’s home, and stumble into your Symbolism in Harry Potter seminar at 11 a.m. still half-drunk and probably reeking of Icehouse. You join a sorority, get vomit in your hair more times than you’re willing to admit publicly, and spend half the day on whatever flavor-of-the-week social media site the guy you currently like is active on.

Sounds fun — until you realize all this will probably leave you at least $30,000 in the hole upon receiving that diploma. And guess what? Unless you absolutely needed some highly specialized major that was only offered at a few schools, chances are you probably could have gotten your education/accounting/psychology degree at a much more affordable university closer to home. You might have even been able to — gasp — live with your parents.

It seems to me that the real problem is the ridiculous cost of a college education in 2014, and in several states, cuts to state university systems are only making this worse.  The college system we have and the methods we have of paying for it aren't going to survive this generation, I expect.

But the cost of college isn't the fault of the Millenials.  You might not feel bad for this Jessica, but you should.  Like it or not, we're all in this together, and this is badly hurting our economy, including wherever you're employed at.  It's great that you worked your way through college, that takes a lot of discipline.  Apparently however, it took more discipline than you have to realize that it doesn't make you a goddess, nor does it fix the fact that you're still dependent on a bunch of Millennials with huge college debt to power the economy you're a part of going forward.

Of course, the article notes she lives in New Zealand now.  That actually says a lot.


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