Monday, November 30, 2015

Last Call For A Play In Three Acts

A man argues about the facts of his past in Act I:

The man who recently led a group of armed protesters outside a Texas mosque says that he's being "attacked and smeared" for posting local Muslims' home addresses to Facebook earlier this week.

David Wright, who leads a group of anti-Muslim protesters that calls itself the Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR), listed "the name and address of every Muslim and Muslim sympathizer that stood up for Sharia tribunals in Irving TX" on his Facebook page Tuesday. The list of names appeared to be copied from a document showing which residents urged the Irving City Council to vote against a bill they said was motivated by baseless rumors that a local mosque housed a "Sharia law court."

Wright told local TV station KDFW that the anyone could access the information he posted through the city's website.

He claims in Act II that it wasn't his fault, you see.

But The Dallas Morning News, which first reported the list, noted Thursday that the list of names had disappeared from BAIR's Facebook page. The newspaper also noted that the personal Facebook profile Wright posted the list of names on had disappeared, although he appears to have created a replacement page. Wright posted the list of names again Wednesday afternoon on that new page.

"I am being attacked and smeared by the liberal media for legally exercising my 1st and 2nd Amendment rights and for using public data to defend my credibility when they make accusations against me," Wright wrote on Thursday.

And in Act III, we reveal he has learned nothing.

Wright went on to describe his group as "self defense only" and wrote that none of its members had killed any Muslims.

"You know as well as I do if it was my intention to use this as a hit list then it would have already happened," he added in a comment on the post.

Exeunt actors, Fin.

Cause And Defects

In Paris today, President Obama told a gathered climate change conference of world leaders that the US was partially responsible for increasing global warming through carbon emissions, and that it was America's job to do something about it.

President Obama told world leaders who gathered northeast of Paris on Monday for a climate conference that the United States is at least partly to blame for the life-threatening damage that environmental change has wrought, and he urged world leaders to join him in fixing the problem.

I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter,” Mr. Obama said, “to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.”

In a speech interrupted by repeated beeps warning that he had exceeded his time limit, Mr. Obama said in Le Bourget that the climate conference represented an important turning point in world history because the leaders attending the meeting now recognize the urgency of the problem.

“No nation — large or small, wealthy or poor — is immune,” he said.

The greatest threat to reaching a binding climate accord may be a loose coalition of developing nations, led by India, who argue that they should not be asked to limit their economic growth as a way of fixing a problem that was largely created by the others, and Mr. Obama conceded that point.

“We know the truth that many nations have contributed little to climate change but will be the first to feel its most destructive effects,” he said.

He promised money to help the poorest nations transition to economies that depend less on burning fossil fuels, but he said a delay was not acceptable.

For I believe, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that there is such a thing as being too late,” Mr. Obama said. “And when it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us.”

Imagine any of the GOP 2016 clown car crew saying this.  You'd be far more likely to have the official position of the US government be that climate change is a fraud, that scientists have to be investigated and prosecuted, and that America needed to level sanctions against countries that did believe in the science.

Needless to say, the right will go insane over this.  Watch.

Not The RIght Kind Of Terrorism To Be Terrorism

If you're somehow curious as to what Ted Cruz's response would be as President to abortion clinic violence, it's exactly what you'd expect it to be, as he displayed at a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after a stop here Sunday afternoon, Cruz rejected a potential connection between anti-abortion activism and the shooting, instead taking issue with "some vicious rhetoric on the left blaming those who are pro-life.” The shooting, which happened Friday in Colorado Springs, left a police officer and two civilians dead, and a suspect, Robert Dear, has been taken into custody.

"The media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life movement when at this point there’s very little evidence to indicate that," Cruz said.

When a reporter reminded Cruz it has been reported Dear made a comment about "baby parts" while being apprehended, Cruz retorted, "It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist. If that’s what he is, I don’t think it’s fair to blame on the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer.”

Cruz's claim appeared to be based on a voter registration form that lists Dear's gender as female. "We know that he was a man who was registered to vote as a woman," Cruz said.

Asked if we could call the shooting an act of domestic terrorism — as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has — Cruz again urged caution about drawing conclusions from the shooting at this point.

“I would call it a murder, and we’ll see what the facts are," Cruz replied. "It was a multiple murder of what appears to be a deranged individual. And it was horrific, it was evil, and we’ll find out more out about the facts, but I don’t think we should jump to conclusions.”

Cruz is a couple hash browns short of a Waffle House on the best of days, but this is calculated.  Just days after Republicans started screaming that Democrats couldn't protect us from scary brown Muslims who would shoot us up and kill us all at shopping centers on Black Friday, the people actually killing folks (including cops) in places of business are Christian right-wing anti-abortion soldiers.

Ergo, the right can't have this reality be reality. It reminds voters that there might be people more dangerous to average Americans than ISIS, and that our terrorism problem isn't with Muslim fundamentalist nutjobs, but the Christian ones.

That would mean the threat to America is white Christian guys with guns, and we can't have that, hence Cruz's bonkers assertion that the guy is a "transgendered leftist murderer" and not a right-wing white guy with an AK-47.

Voters might ask questions about the kind of rhetoric the GOP has been using in the wake of those Planned Parenthood videos earlier this year, you see.  And we can't have that.

The terrorists we have aren't the right kind of terrorists, you see.  People who kill Iraq War vets, campus cops, and married mothers of two have to be Muslim terrorists on a rampage (or worse, liberals) not right-wing Christian conservatives blasting people in abortion clinics.

And they will deny Colorado Springs forever.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Last Call For Hillary On Race

Michael Eric Dyson puts up a big piece in TNR on how awful Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were on race, but thinks Hillary has learned from those mistakes, proving that Michael Eric Dyson may actually be even more clueless than Cornel West on the Blackademic front.

I was once a vocal surrogate for Obama. But I grew disillusioned with his timid responses to racial crisis, with how willing he was to disclaim his racial affiliation, and more grievously, his shirking of his political duty—“I’m not the president of black America,” he has said. Obama will undoubtedly go down as one of the most important presidents in our nation’s history. But his accomplishments on race will not be what gain him that distinction.

All of which leaves us with an important question: What can Hillary Clinton do for black people as president? She possesses neither her husband’s performative charisma with black folk, nor Obama’s undeniable blackness. She must instead wield the sort of power that politicians would, in a better world, solely rely on: public policy. If we were betrayed by Bill Clinton, and suffered dashed hopes under Obama, maybe, just maybe, we will get from Hillary Clinton what we most need and truly deserve: a set of political practices and policies that reinforce the truth that black lives must, and do, finally matter.

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has exhibited a greater sophistication about race, increased sensitivity about how blackness is lived in our country, and a deeper awareness of how the small brutalities of racism rend the fabric of the social compact after first spoiling the flesh of those at the bottom of society. If there were disturbing racial echoes in Hillary’s first attempt to gain the White House, what’s to guarantee we won’t get blinkered in a fog of racial sensitivity now? Has Hillary Clinton changed? Have we?

And Dyson goes on to answer his question with "Well, I spent time with Hillary and she seemed to listen to me (unlike her husband and Obama) which is good because I have all the answers."

No really, that's the other 85% of the article.

Also please buy his book on Where Obama Went Wrong, coming soon.

Depressing, huh.

The Debt Millenium

Wealth inequality is only getting worse among young people of color, because their families can't help them out.  Even worse, for a lot of black and Hispanic families, younger people are expected to help their parents instead of the other way around.  Generations of wealth inequality have left people of color out in the cold for decades now, but it's never been as bad as it is now, as Mel Jones at The Atlantic details.

Wealth inequality can’t be discussed without talking about race; within the American context, they are inseparable. So the fact that Millennials of color feel the impact of a precarious financial foundation more acutely is not a surprise. For black Millennials in particular, studies point to a legacy of discrimination over several centuries that contributed to less inherited wealth passed down from previous generations. This financial disparity stems from continuous shortfalls in their parents’ net worth and low homeownership rates among blacks, which works to create an unlevel playing field.

As a result, the median wealth of white households is 13 times the median wealth of black households. In addition, the most recent housing bust is estimated to have wiped out half of the collective wealth of black families— a setback of two generations.

“It was just incredible,” Shapiro said. “It hit hardest those groups latest to becoming home buyers.” Homeownership makes up a large amount of black families’ wealth composition, accounting for over 50 percent of wealth for blacks, compared with just 39 percent for whites. Shapiro also pointed out that the people impacted by the housing crisis were likely to be the parents of Millennials.

Even with equal advances in income, education, and other factors, wealth grows at far lower rates for black households because they usually need to use financial gains for everyday needs rather than long-term savings and asset building. Each dollar in income increase yields $5.19 in wealth for white American households, but only 69 cents for black American households. In addition, while many Americans don’t have adequate savings, the rate is far higher for families of color: 95 percent of African American and 87 percent of Latino middle-class families do not have enough net assets to meet most of their essential living expenses for even three months if their source of income were to disappear. If Millennials of color aren’t getting as much financial help, it’s because there’s just not as much help for their families to give.

It’s more than just lack of “pocket money” from parents that impacts Millennials of color. The last significant stop on life’s journey is often an economically definitive one too, when parents and grandparents pass away and leave an inheritance.

According to the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, white Americans are five times more likely to inherit than black Americans (36 percent to 7 percent, respectively). And even when both groups received an inheritance, white Americans received about 10 times more. “It’s really a double whammy,” Shapiro said. On the flip side, black Millennials and other low-asset groups are much more likely to go into debt when a family member passes away. It’s not uncommon for some families to throw bake sales and engage in other fund-raising activities to bury their relatives.

A 2013 Washington Post article also noted that “black families rarely benefited from inheritances and gifts to help them make down payments on homes. The result was that black families typically bought homes eight years later than whites, giving them less time to build equity.”

“That’s an eight-year window of not paying rent and building equity,” Shapiro said.

And the life cycle of homeownership-related matters is an onerous one for black Americans to begin with. The researchers Kerwin Charles and Erik Hurst found that black mortgage applicants were almost twice as likely to be rejected for a loan in the first place, even when credit profile and household wealth were controlled for.

All that adds up to a nightmare, especially for black Millennials.  White families can pass on inheritances, gifts, and financial help to get started when times are tough.  Black and Hispanic families cannot.

The playing field has never been level in America, and it never will be in your lifetime. And now we have a generation of white politicians in the GOP making sure it never, ever happens, period.

The stage for this was set hundreds of years ago.  Every time black wealth was created, it was destroyed and moved up the ladder to whites.  America has been doing that for its entire existence.

Why would 2015 be any different?

Sunday Long Read: By The Rich, For The Rich

Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner is showing the way how to turn a blue state into a red one, and he's got enough money at his back in a post-Citizens United America now to pull it off...because the real people running Illinois are only concerned with one color:


The richest man in Illinois does not often give speeches. But on a warm spring day two years ago, Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, rose before a black-tie dinner of the Economic Club of Chicago to deliver an urgent plea to the city’s elite.

They had stood silently, Mr. Griffin told them, as politicians taxed too much, spent too much and drove businesses and jobs from the state. They had refused to help those who would take on the reigning powers in the Illinois Capitol. “It is time for us to do something,” he implored.

Their response came quickly. In the months since, Mr. Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.

Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.

“It was clear that they wanted to change the power structure, change the way business was conducted and change the status quo,” said Andy Shaw, an acquaintance of Mr. Rauner’s and the president of the Better Government Association, a nonpartisan state watchdog group.

The families remaking Illinois are among a small group around the country who have channeled their extraordinary wealth into political power, taking advantage of regulatory, legal and cultural shifts that have carved new paths for infusing money into campaigns. Economic winners in an age of rising inequality, operating largely out of public view, they are reshaping government with fortunes so large as to defy the ordinary financial scale of politics. In the 2016 presidential race, a New York Times analysis found last month, just 158 families had provided nearly half of the early campaign money.

Many of those giving, like Mr. Griffin, come from the world of finance, an industry that has yielded more of the new political wealth than any other. The Florida-based leveraged-buyout pioneer John Childs, the private equity investor Sam Zell and Paul Singer, a prominent New York hedge fund manager, all helped elect Mr. Rauner, as did Richard Uihlein, a conservative businessman from the Chicago suburbs.

Most of them lean Republican; some are Democrats. But to a remarkable degree, their philosophies are becoming part of a widely adopted blueprint for public officials around the country: Critical of the power of unions, many are also determined to reduce spending and taxation, and are skeptical of government-led efforts to mitigate the growing gap between the rich and everyone else.

The robber barons are splitting up the country among themselves with their billion dollar fortunes and have been so successful that there are only a handful of blue states left to break.  Illinois is in the ringer now.  Massachusetts, Maine, and the rest of New England are next, Minnesota, New York, and the West Coast are holding out.

But what does that matter when the vast majority of the country is controlled by the ultra-elite anyway, and all of them are dedicated to making themselves richer?

Especially since there is nothing we can do to stop them?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Everything Is Always Obama's Fault Forever

Right-wing noise machine on police with military equipment in 2014: Tyrant Obama's jackbooted thug cops will used tanks against law-abiding Americans! It'll be Obama's fault when people die i the streets!

Senators blasted the Pentagon on Tuesday for providing police forces with an over abundance of military equipment, which they say laid the groundwork for what unfolded in Ferguson, Mo., last month.

"Tell me what the difference is between an increasingly militarized police force and a standing army,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the first congressional hearing on the militarization of police. 
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed deep skepticism about the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which since the 1990s has provided local police departments with more than $5 billion worth of surplus military equipment, including assault rifles, body armor, and armored vehicles.

The Pentagon says the program is intended to help police combat terrorists and drug cartels, but the senators suggested some police departments may be overstepping their authority by using this military equipment for crowd control at riots.

Coburn called the militarization of police an overreaction “on the basis of 9/11.”

"When was the last time that equipment was used for true counterterrorism?” he asked.

Right-wing noise machine on police with military equipment in 2015: Weak Obama has neutered police who can no longer protect you from ISIS! It'll be Obama's fault when people die in the streets!

Frequent Fox News contributor, former NYPD cop, and professional smear-man Bo Dietl was commenting on the then-active crisis unfolding in Colorado when he had what can best be described as incomprehensible, waking stroke:

Again, this is our president acting like a fool. I mean to see something like this, we noticed when the attacks occurred in Paris, when the cops were in their car getting attacked, we have to prepare ourselves. This is a war. We’re against... terrorists are against this country.

It’s going to open up here in America, and we’ve got to be prepared. And we’ve also got to start training all our officers in the use of high powered equipment. We’re dealing with bad people. Our little 9 millimeters are not going to do anything against somebody with an AK-47. [unintelligible—moreso] This is an attack on us; it’s going to be for the next generation. We have to deal with it. We have to prepare ourselves for the worst, and pray that the worst don’t happen.

In other words, Bo strung a whole lot of gun-nut buzzwords together in no discernible order—but boy can he yell loud!

Always Obama's fault forever, whee!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Mayor May Not

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass argues that if the Laquan McDonald video had come out a year ago when the shooting actually happened, Rahm Emanuel would have been annihilated in the city's mayoral runoff election.

He's right.

If the video had been out, if Chicago had watched it before going to the polls, Emanuel would have lost the black vote. You'd have to be a meat puppet to think otherwise. And you're not a meat puppet, are you?

But just to make sure of my theory, I called the one guy who'd know: Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, the mayor's opponent in the 2015 election.

"Yes," Garcia told me over the phone. "That video would definitely have changed the political environment.

"The rug would have been pulled out from under many political leaders' feet. Things would have been different," he said.

"And now, with the video out and people seeing it, everywhere I go people ask me about it. Everywhere I go people tell me it would have been a game changer. If people had seen it, they would have said, this city is so corrupt, it's time for a change."

But they didn't see it, until it was too late.

"There's just some basic Chicago arithmetic in there. He wouldn't have received as much votes from the African-American community," Garcia said. "It isn't rocket science. It's arithmetic. And so yes, this tragic video would have had a profound impact."

Which is why Rahm didn't want it to be seen, why he had to do everything to keep it under wraps. And he did do everything to keep it under wraps, until the other day.

"And that's the Chicago Way," Garcia said.

Yes it is.

Exit question:  Why is Rahm still Mayor now after this?

Holiday Long Read: Black Friday Blues

A short schedule this weekend as I'm taking it easy, but a not-so-subtle reminder that if you're hitting the stores today to get those low price holiday deals, remember the folks working today and the lengths that the largest retailer in the world will go to in order to keep those employees in check.

In the autumn of 2012, when Walmart first heard about the possibility of a strike on Black Friday, executives mobilized with the efficiency that had built a retail empire. Walmart has a system for almost everything: When there’s an emergency or a big event, it creates a Delta team. The one formed that September included representatives from global security, labor relations, and media relations. For Walmart, the stakes were enormous. The billions in sales typical of a Walmart Black Friday were threatened. The company’s public image, especially in big cities where its power and size were controversial, could be harmed. But more than all that: Any attempt to organize its 1 million hourly workers at its more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. was an existential danger. Operating free of unions was as essential to Walmart’s business as its rock-bottom prices.

OUR Walmart, a group of employees backed and funded by a union, was asking for more full-time jobs with higher wages and predictable schedules. Officially they called themselves the Organization United for Respect at Walmart. Walmart publicly dismissed OUR Walmart as the insignificant creation of the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) union. “This is just another union publicity stunt, and the numbers they are talking about are grossly exaggerated,” David Tovar, a spokesman, said on CBS Evening News that November.

Internally, however, Walmart considered the group enough of a threat that it hired an intelligence-gathering service from Lockheed Martin, contacted the FBI, staffed up its labor hotline, ranked stores by labor activity, and kept eyes on employees (and activists) prominent in the group. During that time, about 100 workers were actively involved in recruiting for OUR Walmart, but employees (or associates, as they’re called at Walmart) across the company were watched; the briefest conversations were reported to the “home office,” as Walmart calls its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
The details of Walmart’s efforts during the first year it confronted OUR Walmart are described in more than 1,000 pages of e-mails, reports, playbooks, charts, and graphs, as well as testimony from its head of labor relations at the time. The documents were produced in discovery ahead of a National Labor Relations Board hearing into OUR Walmart’s allegations of retaliation against employees who joined protests in June 2013. The testimony was given in January 2015, during the hearing. OUR Walmart, which split from the UFCW in September, provided the documents to Bloomberg Businessweek after the judge concluded the case in mid-October. A decision may come in early 2016. 

If you want to know why I've long stopped shopping at Wal-Mart, this is but one reason why.  The power it has over the American economy and the American worker is enormous. It employs 2.2 million people worldwide, more than the entire population of New Mexico, or the combined population of New Hampshire and Vermont.

They crush unions.  They crush the people in them.  They crush wages and lives.

And OUR Walmart was just another enemy to be crushed.

Enjoy those Black Friday deals, kids.  The people paying the price to bring them to you are the least able to afford it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Last Call For Thanksgiving, 2015

I'm thankful for all you guys who continue to humor me and let me think I'm decent at this political analysis thing.

I'm also thankful I don't have to put up with assholes jumping over my fence while I'm eating dinner.

Have a good holiday, folks.

Black Lives Do Matter, Con't

President Obama weighed in last night on the Laquan McDonald execution (and it was a summary execution by the police, point blank, six seconds after that cop got out of his car) and posted to Facebook:

Like many Americans, I was deeply disturbed by the footage of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. This Thanksgiving, I ask everybody to keep those who’ve suffered tragic loss in our thoughts and prayers, and to be thankful for the overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform who protect our communities with honor. And I’m personally grateful to the people of my hometown for keeping protests peaceful.

That's a good sentiment, but what we need is something like the Department of Justice coming in and breaking up the Chicago PD leadership, and putting the police under federal control.  The fact that no Chicago PD officer has ever. Been. Charged. With. Murder. Until now astonishes me.  No police department in the country has ended more black lives than Chicago.  The entire department needs to be disbanded and reformed.  It is by far the most corrupt police department in the country.  They torture people there, you know.

Oh, and I'd like to see the President go to Chicago, go see his buddy Rahm Emanuel, and just deck him in public.  I know that won't happen.  I know Rahm is definitely part of the problem and I know the President has always been blind to Rahm's foolishness.

Maybe Michelle can deck him.

They Tell Me The Smart Money's On Rubio

I'm not worried about President Trump or Carson.  I'm worried about President Rubio.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says religious believers are called to “ignore” laws that violate their faith.

“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin — violate God’s law and sin — if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that,” Rubio said in an interview with CBN on Tuesday.

“So when those two come into conflict, God’s rules always win,” he added.

Rubio said Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision creating a constitutional right to abortion, is open to revision.

“It’s current law; it’s not settled law,” he said. “No law is settled. Roe v. Wade is current law, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to aspire to fix it, because we think it’s wrong.”

The Republican presidential candidate, who is rising in the polls, encouraged the faithful to work within the political process to change laws that violate their conscience.

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called to participate in that process to try to change it,” he said.

Once again, this is a supposedly serious presidential candidate openly saying that rule of law and the US Constitution are both meaningless, because God.  What the Supreme Court determines as constitutional has no value because no law is settled.  Rubio will just ignore the laws he doesn't like.

There's a word for that.

It's called "theocracy".  And this is supposedly the least insane of the GOP candidates.

Republicans cannot be allowed to win in 2016, or we lose the country.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Last Call For Happy Holi-Daze

Greetings from Red State America, folks, where in Harris County, Georgia, the local constabulary would like to remind you that there's no better way to spread Christ's word of redemption and forgiveness than by pissing off liberals with official county signage.

Georgia sheriff has staked out his ground in the U.S. culture wars by posting a large sign cautioning visitors that his community is proud to be “politically incorrect.” 
“WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect,” reads the sign posted on Tuesday under a welcome banner and the official seal of the county, located in central Georgia near the border with Alabama. 
“We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag,” says the sign placed in front of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. “If this offends you … LEAVE!” 
Sheriff Mike Jolley said the concept was suggested by his staff members, who “saw the verbiage on the Internet somewhere.” 
The elected sheriff, a U.S. Army retiree who has been in the position for 23 years, personally paid for the $553 sign, which includes an image of the county’s official seal. 
I believe it’s time for the silent majority to speak their minds,” Jolley told Reuters on Wednesday in a phone interview.
So far the response has been “overwhelmingly, humbling positive,” said Jolley, noting that his office has received phone calls of support from as far away as Hawaii. He has also heard from critics. 
There are some people who don’t like it, and I respect that,” the sheriff said. “That’s why I put on the sign that if you don’t like it, leave.”

Seems to me that telling people to get out who might be offended by a government entity taking an official position advocating a religion is the opposite of respect.  ACLU is going to have a field day with this one, and rightfully so.

That's what we're reduced to in 2015, governments not having enough money for roads or bridges or schools because we're broke, but we pay county sheriffs enough money where they can go buy signs with Crazy Republican Facebook memes on them.

Truly America is blessed.

These Disunited States Of America

At least one Texas Republican wants to put a measure on the state's primary ballot next year for a "non-binding" referendum on Texas seceding from the United States.

Tanya Robertson, State Republican Executive Committee member for Senate District 11, which covers parts of Harris, Galveston and Brazoria counties, said she'll present the resolution at the committee's December 4 meeting in Austin, and that she already has support from a few other members. 
"There's been a big groundswell of Texans that are getting into the Texas independence issue," she said, citing conversations she's had with constituents. "I believe conservatives in Texas should have a choice to voice their opinion."

Texas GOP chairman Tom Mechler said Tuesday that many resolutions are presented each year for consideration on the primary ballot, but that he did not believe sufficient support existed within the SREC to approve the secession item.

Still, Robertson will present the resolution to a 12-member resolutions committee, which will decide whether or not it will face the full 60-member assembly on December 5 for a vote on its placement on the March 1 ballot. 
Robertson got the idea for the resolution from the Texas Nationalist Movement, a small secessionist group that has tried but so far failed to raise the necessary 75,000 signatures to put a non-binding secession vote on the March ballot. When she heard that news she thought she could help, though she isn't a member of the TNM. 
She cited dissatisfaction with politicians in Washington D.C. and dismay with federal spending as reasons for a secession vote.

Oh, this is definitely about white assholes in Texas wanting to get away from an America that elected a black President, but it's also about undermining the legitimacy of said government.  Last time I checked we fought a war over this thing 150 years ago, and the guys that wanted out lost.  The "not MY president" petulance is disgusting, frankly.  When your candidates lose, you work harder to get your candidates elected next time, that's how it works.

When that no longer works, well we get secession referendums, and worse.

The fact that one of the major parties is openly pushing secession shouldn't surprise you.  The modern Republican party is "our way or burn it all down."

Mr. Rubio, In The Senate, With The Policy RIder

The Hill's Sarah Ferris details how the Republican who has had the most success in sabotaging Obamacare has been Sen. Marco Rubio, his push to sink risk corridor payments last year has now started to pay dividends when it comes to the GOP plan to wreck the individual health insurance market.

While Rubio’s attempt to scrap risk corridors altogether was unsuccessful, his push contributed to a policy rider that was inserted into a 1,603-page spending bill passed at the end of 2014.

Under the provision, which is still in effect, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could no longer tap other accounts — like its overall appropriations or its Medicare funding — to fund the risk corridors program.

Now Rubio is taking his crusade against the "bailout" program to the presidential campaign trail.

The senator and dozens of other Republicans are seeking to renew the policy rider — or repeal risk corridors altogether — in the year-end budget bill that Congress must pass by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown.

“So far, we’ve succeeded in stopping the Obama administration from bailing out healthcare companies under ObamaCare, and it’s critical that Congress once again stand with taxpayers to stop any taxpayer bailout of health insurers from happening,” Rubio wrote in a letter to GOP leaders of both chambers on Tuesday.

Surprise!  Republicans now want to tie extending Obamacare's sabotage to the budget bill due in two weeks.  Shutdown or wreck Obamacare...Obama's choice, they say.

The damaging effects of the budget-neutral requirement became clear in October.

The Obama administration disclosed it could only afford to pay 13 cents of every dollar owed to the insurance companies — after insurers had already locked in their rates for the upcoming year.

“Obviously what happened was exactly what we thought would happen – there’d be an imbalance. Most of the companies lost money,” said Joseph Marinucci, a senior analyst with Standard & Poor.

“You have to be able to deal with unanticipated events, such as the legislation that would restrict the funding of its corridors,” he said.

Within weeks, about a dozen start-up insurers known as CO-OPs announced they’d be shutting their doors, in most cases because they lacked the cash flow to stay solvent. And at least two other insurers — WinHealth Partners in Wyoming and Moda Health in Washington — pulled out of the exchanges.

Then came the shocking announcement from the insurance giant, UnitedHealthCare, that it might cut its losses as well.

“Essentially what is happening now, and why you’re seeing all of these plans reevaluate their participation [in ObamaCare], they have to rely on their reserves over the next two years,” one industry source said. “It’s caused everyone to reevaluate and consider what changes they have to make to remain viable and stay in the market.”

So yes, the Republican plan to make sure Obamacare wouldn't work correctly has been pretty effective, and now they want to break it to the point where the whole individual insurance market system collapses. And they're willing to shut down the entire government in order to get that done.

Think about that.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Last Call For Beshear Does Right

I will say this about Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear: his last few weeks in office are shaping up to be legendary.

The outgoing Democratic governor of Kentucky signed an executive order Tuesday to restore the right to vote and hold public office to thousands of non-violent felons who've served out their sentences. 
The order from Gov. Steve Beshear — who leaves office next month — does not include those convicted of violent crimes, sex offenses, bribery or treason. Kentucky already restores voting rights to some nonviolent convicted felons, but the felon must apply to the governor's office, which approves them on a case by case basis. 
This new order automatically restores voting rights to convicted felons who meet certain criteria upon their release. Those who have already been released can fill out a form on the state Department of Corrections' website. 
"All of our society will be better off if we actively work to help rehabilitate those who have made a mistake," Beshear said. "And the more we do that, the more the entire society will benefit." 
Kentucky was one of four states that did not automatically restore voting rights to felons once they completed all the terms of their sentences. About 180,000 in Kentucky have served their sentences yet remain banned from casting ballots. 
The Kentucky legislature has tried and failed numerous times to pass a bill to restore voting rights to felons. The Republican-controlled Senate would agree only if there was a five-year waiting period, which Democrats refused.

Governor-elect Matt Bevin has been quick to tout "criminal justice reform" in the past, and all he's really meant has been tort reform so far.  He has an opportunity here to do some real good by not reversing this order.

Democrats control state government until next month, when Republican Gov.-elect Matt Bevin takes office. Bevin could repeal Beshear's order or allow it to stand. Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said Bevin supports restoring voting rights to nonviolent offenders, but added he was not notified of Beshear's order until a few minutes before he announced it. 
"The Executive Order will be evaluated during the transition period," she said.

We'll see.  I wouldn't celebrate yet.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Business Intelligence, Applied

As French President Hollande continues his whirlwind diplomatic tour trying to drum up enough international firepower to destroy ISIS coming off a visit to London yesterday, a visit to President Obama today, Berlin on Wednesday and Moscow on Thursday, the US is trying to figure out which Islamic State oil rigs are making the most money so they can be bombed to bits.

Since last month, U.S. warplanes have struck Islamic State's oil infrastructure in Syria in a stepped-up campaign of economic warfare that the United States estimates has cut the group's black-market earnings from oil by about a third. 
In finding their targets, U.S. military planners have relied in part on an unconventional source of intelligence: access to banking records that provide insight into which refineries and oil pumps are generating cash for the extremist group, current and former officials say. 
The intent is to choke off the Islamic State's funding by tracking its remaining ties to the global financial system. By identifying money flowing to and from the group, U.S. officials have been able to get a glimpse into how its black-market economy operates, people with knowledge of the effort have said. 
That in turn has influenced decisions about targeting for air strikes in an effort that began before Islamic State's Nov. 13 attacks on Paris and has intensified since, they said. While Islamic State's access to formal banking has been restricted, it retains some ties that U.S. military and financial officials can use against it, the current and former officials said. 
"We have done a really good job of largely keeping the Islamic State out of the formal financial system," said Matthew Levitt, who served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence at the U.S. Treasury in the George W. Bush administration. "But we haven't been entirely successful, and that may not be a bad thing."

Economic warfare taken to a literal stage, then.  We'll see if that slows down ISIS at all, but as long as the countries buying oil from the group are still acting like it's not a big deal, they'll just find other ways to fund terror.

They always do.  There's only so much economic warfare you can wage before there's no economy left.

One Yooge Thanksgiving Turkey

Trump is definitely the biggest turkey as we head into the long holiday weekend, the notion that he's America's lousy racist uncle at the Thanksgiving table certainly plays out in a new Public Policy Polling survey. It also finds that at some point, Obama Derangement Syndrome became a living, breathing beast slouching towards your Thanksgiving dinner.

Donald Trump leads PPP's newest poll by a wide margin...on which candidate Americans think would be the most likely to say something inappropriate at the table and ruin Thanksgiving Dinner. 46% say they think Trump would be the candidate most likely to ruin Thanksgiving, as much as all the rest of the candidates combined. Hillary Clinton at 22%, Bernie Sanders at 7%, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson at 6%, Ted Cruz at 4%, and Marco Rubio at 1% round out the standings on who people think would be most likely to wreck the holiday. 
When it comes to which Presidential candidate people would actually like to have over for Thanksgiving Dinner Clinton wins out with 24% to 18% for Carson, 17% for Trump, 11% for Sanders, 8% for Cruz, and 6% each for Bush and Rubio. Interestingly even though Trump leads the Republican field when it comes to who people want to be the nominee for President, Carson beats him out on the dinner invitation front, 31% to 24%. Clinton leads Sanders 51/17 among Democrats. 
The examples of the GOP's reflexive opposition to President Obama's agenda are many but this may be the best one yet: by a 27 point margin Republicans say they disapprove of the President's executive order last year pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (Macaroni and Cheese) instead of the customary one. Only 11% of Republicans support the President's executive order last year to 38% who are opposed- that's a pretty clear sign that if you put Obama's name on something GOP voters are going to oppose it pretty much no matter what. Overall there's 35/22 support for the pardon of Macaroni and Cheese thanks to 59/11 support from Democrats and 28/21 from independents.

The old joke that if Obama came out for mastication, there would be a national epidemic of Republicans choking on food suddenly seems a little less like humor and more like a possible national health issue.

One covered by Obamacare, thankfully.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Last Call For The Moral (No Longer A) Majority

A new Pew Research study on American religion finds that White Christians are no longer the majority, and those who are increasingly identify with the Republican party.

As the na­tion re­lent­lessly di­ver­si­fies, both in its ra­cial com­pos­i­tion and re­li­gious pref­er­ences, White Chris­ti­ans now rep­res­ent just 46 per­cent of Amer­ic­an adults, ac­cord­ing to Pew data provided in re­sponse to a re­quest from Next Amer­ica. That’s down from a 55 per­cent ma­jor­ity as re­cently as 2007, and much high­er fig­ures through most of U.S. his­tory.

Yet even as White Chris­ti­ans shrink in their over­all num­bers, they still ac­count for nearly sev­en-in-10 Amer­ic­ans who identi­fy with, or lean to­ward, the Re­pub­lic­an Party, the Pew study found. White Chris­ti­ans, in fact, rep­res­ent as large a share of the Re­pub­lic­an co­ali­tion today as they did of Amer­ic­an so­ci­ety over­all in 1984, when Ron­ald Re­agan won reelec­tion. A clear ma­jor­ity of all White Chris­ti­ans across the United States now identi­fy as Re­pub­lic­an, Pew found.

In sharp con­trast, the Pew data show, the Demo­crat­ic co­ali­tion has evolved in­to a three-legged stool that di­vides al­most evenly between White Chris­ti­ans, non-White Chris­ti­ans, and those from all races who identi­fy either with a non-Chris­ti­an faith or, in­creas­ingly, with no re­li­gious tra­di­tion at all. Most Amer­ic­ans who don’t identi­fy with any re­li­gious faith—a rap­idly grow­ing group—now align with Demo­crats.

These di­ver­ging pro­files cre­ate elect­or­al chal­lenges for each side. Re­pub­lic­ans face the ten­sion of bal­an­cing the mor­ally con­ser­vat­ive pref­er­ences of their re­li­giously de­vout base with the deep­en­ing in­stinct to­ward cul­tur­al tol­er­ance of a so­ci­ety that is grow­ing more sec­u­lar, par­tic­u­larly among the young.

Demo­crats must weigh the cul­tur­ally lib­er­al in­stincts of their now mostly sec­u­lar wing of up­scale Whites with the of­ten more tra­di­tion­al in­clin­a­tions of their Afric­an-Amer­ic­an and Latino sup­port­ers, who are much more likely than White Demo­crats to identi­fy with Chris­ti­an faiths. In a land­mark shift, few­er than half of White Demo­crats with a col­lege de­gree now identi­fy as Chris­ti­ans; that’s a much smal­ler per­cent­age than among the party’s Blacks and Lati­nos.

Above all, the end of ma­jor­ity status for White Chris­ti­ans marks an­oth­er mile­stone in Amer­ica’s trans­form­a­tion in­to a kal­eido­scope so­ci­ety with no single dom­in­ant group.

For 230 plus years this has been a country dominated by white Christians.  That is no longer the case., whether the reason is a truly growing secular population, growth of religions outside Christianity, or a borderline White Christian nation with people who finally feel alright to mention they are not religious at all...or all three.

All three represent a threat to the GOP, and they know it.

In 1944, polls showed that White Chris­ti­ans ac­coun­ted for more than eight-in-10 Amer­ic­an adults, notes John C. Green, an ex­pert on re­li­gion and polit­ics and dean of the col­lege of arts and sci­ences at the Uni­versity of Ak­ron. Sur­veys found that num­ber de­clined only slightly, to just un­der eight-in-10, by 1964. Even in 1984, White Chris­ti­ans still ac­coun­ted for just un­der sev­en-in-10 Amer­ic­an adults. The an­nu­al merge of res­ults from oth­er na­tion­al sur­veys con­duc­ted by Pew, though not dir­ectly com­par­able with the huge Re­li­gious Land­scape poll, sug­gest that White Chris­ti­ans dipped be­low ma­jor­ity status some­time between 2012 and 2013. The latest fig­ures pla­cing White Chris­ti­ans at just 46 per­cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion con­firm a trend, Green says, in which “the re­l­at­ive size of White Chris­ti­ans [has] fallen at an in­creas­ing rate over the post-W.W. II peri­od.

Going from 68% to 46% in 30 years is a major change for "first black president" and possibly "first woman president" level change.

Both parties will need to adapt.  One party however has clearly decided to try to go backwards.

The Mask Slips Again...

...And again, Republicans accidentally tell the truth about what they are thinking and doing.  Today's contestant: Sen. Marco Rubio.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has found a silver lining in the Paris terror attacks that left 130 people dead: he said the violence prompted Americans to have a serious conversation about national security, and he suggested that conversation in turn has benefited his presidential campaign.

Rubio made the comment while discussing his rising poll numbers with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace. When Wallace asked whether Rubio thought his foreign policy credentials gave him a polling boost in the wake of the Nov. 13 terror attacks, the Florida Republican replied that his team doesn't put much stock in polls that were "going to fluctuate" this early in the primary race. 
He went on to argue that the attacks led to a "positive" shift to national security in the political conversation, one he wanted to see continue "not just for political advantage." 
"I obviously am not happy about the events that happened last week in Paris," Rubio told Wallace. "But I think it's a positive development that it suddenly has forced Americans to confront more carefully the issue of national security because it is the most important thing a President will do and it is the most important function of the federal government.
"I hope that we focus on that note more, not just for political advantage but because the world has become a very dangerous place," he added.

Rubio is counting on the steady diet of fear and hatred in the wake of the Paris attacks to be good for Republicans in general and specifically for Marco Rubio, I see.

I mean, he's not lying about what he thinks is going to happen.  Certainly with Rubio calling for sending enough US ground troops into Syria to inflict "humiliating defeats" on ISIS, he's not lying about what he thinks there either.

Now, whether or not it will help him with voters when Trump is calling for rounding up Latinos and Muslims and such?  Probably not.

But with the economy improving and unemployment down sharply from 2010 highs, suddenly the only thing that matters is ISIS.

The Vitter End, Con't

James Hohmann at the Washington Post concedes that GOP Sen. David Vitter's last minute attacks on John bel Edwards (and President Obama) over the Paris attacks made Democrats very, very nervous over the weekend.

Democrats felt very good about winning the Louisiana governor’s race until the Paris attacks happened on Friday the 13th. 
Republican Sen. David Vitter, trailing by double digits in the polls, immediately seized on whether the United States should admit Syrian refugees. The issue let him get off the mat after weeks of attacks over his 2007 prostitution scandal. He went to Washington to give a floor speech on Syria, publicly sent a letter warning of a “missing” refugee and got on TV just a little more than 48 hours after the carnage in France with an advertisement invoking the horror. 
Vitter and his Republican allies had struggled mightily to make the red-state, off-year race against Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards a referendum on President Obama. This gave them the chance. 
Elisabeth Pearson, the executive director of Democratic Governors Association, suddenly had flashbacks to last year’s midterm elections. Several winnable contests broke away from them at the last minute because of voter fears about the Ebola outbreak, ISIS beheadings and children pouring across the border. Particularly in Maine, the Democrat was considered the favorite but Republican Gov. Paul LePage came from behind to win by publicly chastising quarantined nurse Kaci Hickox for returning to the state.

The difference this time?  Democrats moved fast to attack Vitter on Syria, and Edwards quickly distanced himself from the Obama administration.

The Democratic candidate initially botched his response. A note on Edwards’ Facebook page said he’d work to “both accommodate refugees who are fleeing from religious persecution and ensure that all our people are safe.” Then he edited “accommodate” to “assist,” before putting out a statement that declared, “In light of the recent tragedy in Paris, it’s imperative for us to pause the influx of refugees flowing into our state without more information on the security measures in place.”
Gumbo PAC got its counterattack ad on the air by Wednesday. “It’s David Vitter who said he didn’t believe Syria posed a threat to the United States or our allies,” the narrator said, insisting that Edwards opposed allowing refugees in. The response ad also borrowed a page from the Republican’s 2014 playbook, attacking Vitter for missing “two-thirds of the committee hearings he was supposed to attend on Syria.”

Again, Vitter was such a terrible candidate that Edwards won anyway, but the lesson here is that Democrats in the South especially will continue to run against Obama.  Whether or not they'll run against Hillary too, we'll see.

Still, Edwards won here, and he's willing to expand Medicaid for Louisiana where Vitter was not.  It's a win, even an ugly one, and a bad Dem is still better than any Republican.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Post-Racial America Update

Trump supporters are exactly who we thought they were.

A black protester reportedly was tackled, punched, and kicked Saturday during a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama.

The incident was recorded by CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond. In the video, an altercation in the middle of a crowd is visible.

CNN later reported that at least six white attendees at the rally punched, kicked, and tackled the protester, who appeared to have shouted “black lives matter.”

According to Stephon Dingle, a reporter for WIAT, the protester also yelled “dump Trump” before the incident began.

During the altercation, Trump reportedly stopped his speech to say “get him the hell out of here.” Law enforcement then escorted the protester out of the building, which Dingle recorded.

This is how the Trump people deal with dissent.  It's a perfect microcosm of what will happen to black America under Trump.  There won't be a place for us.

But Post-Racial America.

Meanwhile, In Fortress Texas...

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is so petrified of Syrian refugees that he's threatening to eliminate state funding for non-governmental, non-profit organizations that help them.  You know, church charities.

Gov. Abbott announced last Monday that he, like dozens of other xenophobic governors, would stop efforts to allow Syrian refugees into his state in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris. Part of the governor’s announcement included the sending of a letter from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to local non-profits, demanding that they comply with the Governor’s request by Friday afternoon.

The state could forseeably choose not to accept federal funding for the organizations that don’t comply, according to immigration attorney Gordon Quan.

“It puts them in a situation that I think is very uncomfortable,” Quan told local KHOU News. “This is basically saying, ‘Don’t do resettlement. If you do resettlement of these Syrian refugees, you may be endangering the whole program that you have’.”

As Friday came and went, some agencies that work with refugees in Texas balked at the directive, arguing that because resettlement is a federal responsibility, Gov. Abbott does not have the authority to make such a directive.

Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact, which works closely with resettlement agencies, wrote in a letter to the state that the move “constitutes an unprecedented attempt on the part of a state agency to pressure private, nonprofit organizations to violate federal law and their federal contractual obligations.”

The letter asks the state to meet with resettlement agencies and federal authorities to decide whether Abbott actually has the authority to tell organizations to ignore the pleas of homeless people.

Abbott clearly believes he does have the authority, and at least some non-profits are now calling his bluff. He's turning to a Breitbart story that "proves" refugees coming over the Texas-Mexico border are really ISIS terrorists, which of course is false.

But this is where we are right now.

You will see Muslims beaten, hurt, shot, even killed in the US before you ever see a "Paris-style" assault on a US city.  I guarantee this.

Sunday Long Read: Building Bevinstan

ProPublica's Alec MacGillis takes a crack at explaining why working class blue states have gone blood red in the last five years and argues that pro-union New Deal Dems have sat out election after election and will continue to do so.

In his successful bid for the Senate in 2010, the libertarian Rand Paul railed against “intergenerational welfare” and said that “the culture of dependency on government destroys people’s spirits,” yet racked up winning margins in eastern Kentucky, a former Democratic stronghold that is heavily dependent on public benefits. Last year, Paul R. LePage, the fiercely anti-welfare Republican governor of Maine, was re-elected despite a highly erratic first term — with strong support in struggling towns where many rely on public assistance. And earlier this month, Kentucky elected as governor a conservative Republican who had vowed to largely undo the Medicaid expansion that had given the state the country’s largest decrease in the uninsured under Obamacare, with roughly one in 10 residents gaining coverage.

It’s enough to give Democrats the willies as they contemplate a map where the red keeps seeping outward, confining them to ever narrower redoubts of blue. The temptation for coastal liberals is to shake their heads over those godforsaken white-working-class provincials who are voting against their own interests.

But this reaction misses the complexity of the political dynamic that’s taken hold in these parts of the country. It misdiagnoses the Democratic Party’s growing conundrum with working-class white voters. And it also keeps us from fully grasping what’s going on in communities where conditions have deteriorated to the point where researchers havedetected alarming trends in their mortality rates.

In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.

MacGillis argues that voting, and even getting political news has become so onerous for the poorest Americans now that they simply don't care anymore: who has time to vote when you literally cannot put food on the table for your family?

Meanwhile, many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all. Voter participation is low among the poorest Americans, and in many parts of the country that have moved red, the rates have fallen off the charts. West Virginia ranked 50th for turnout in 2012; also in the bottom 10 were other states that have shifted sharply red in recent years, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The poorest Americans are least likely to vote, and least likely to be organized to vote.  Meanwhile, the second lowest quintile of Americans have become sharply Republican.  The result, in Southern and Midwestern states, has been catastrophic.

Kentucky is just the latest state to fall.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Last Call For The Vitter End

AP has called Louisiana Governor's race for Democrat John Bel Edwards.

Looks like Sen. David Vitter will lose by about 8-10 points when all is said and done.

A good night for the blue team.

It Feels Like 2002 Again

Greg Sargent takes a look at a new Washington Post/ABC poll in the wake of last week's Paris attacks and finds America's clock has been set back to early 2002.

— By 54-43, Americans oppose taking in refugees from the conflicts in Syria and other Mideast countries even after screening them for security.

— By 52-47, Americans are not confident that the U.S. can identify and keep out possible terrorists who may be among these refugees. (One bright spot: 78 percent of Americans don’t think religion should be considered in determining whether to accept refugees.)

— By 81-18, Americans think it is likely that there will be a terrorist attack in the U.S. in the near future that will cause large numbers of lives to be lost.

— By 55-45, Americans are not confident in the ability of the U.S. government to prevent further terror attacks against Americans here.

— By 72-25, Americans say that it is more important for the government to investigate terror threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy, rather than refraining from intruding on personal privacy.

In fairness, this is pretty vague — “intruding on personal privacy” could mean a lot of different things in terms of actual policy — but it’s still pretty lopsided, perhaps another reminder that public fear sends concerns about civil liberties right out the window.

60 percent of Americans want to see an “increased use of U.S. ground forces” against ISIS, and 73 percent of Americans want to see increased air strikes.

— Americans say by 59-37 that the U.S. is “at war with radical Islam.”

So Democrats are on the minority side of a fair amount of these. Hillary Clinton has aligned herself with Obama in coming out against sending in ground troops (though Republicans have been vague on this point, too, and Clinton has called for stepped up air strikes). Clinton and virtually all Democrats have called for the program for admitting Syrian refugees to continue, while the GOP candidates and many Congressional Republicans have called for it to be “paused” or for an outright ban on their entry. There is little confidence in the current administration’s ability to keep us safe — at least right at this moment — and Marco Rubio and Donald Trump have ramped up the calls for a beefed up surveillance state.

Sargent is being kind, as both Trump and Rubio are calling for effectively suspending the US Constitution and tracking the country's Muslims, treating all of them outright as terror suspects that need to be marked.  Trump in particular wants to close down mosques and "do the unthinkable" because it may be "necessary".

Exit questions:

One, aren't you glad Obama is president right now as opposed to any of the Republicans over the last seven, eight years?

Two, if Obama really was a crypto-neocon warmonger, as I have repeatedly been assured he is by "real liberals", we'd be at war right now with tens of thousands of ground troops on the way to Syria, wouldn't we?

Three, do you believe Hillary would send ground troops like Trump, Carson, Rubio or Cruz would?

Democrats need to ask themselves and answer these questions.

Belgian (Not) Waffles

The Belgian government has put Brussels on high alert as they expect an "imminent" Paris-style assault.

A week after Paris bombings and shootings carried out by Islamic State militants, of whom one suspect from Brussels is at large, Brussels was placed on the top level "four" in the government's threat scale after a meeting of police, justice and intelligence officials.

Soldiers were on guard in parts of Brussels, a city of 1.2 million people and home to institutions of the European Union and the headquarters of NATO.

"The result of relatively precise information pointed to the risk of an attack along the lines of what took take place in Paris," Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference on Saturday after a meeting of the national security council. The Paris attacks left 130 people dead.

"We are talking about the threat that several individuals with arms and explosives would launch an attack perhaps in several locations at the same time," Michel said, adding people should be alert but not panic.

He declined to elaborate, but said the government would review the situation on Sunday afternoon.

The metro system is to remain closed until then, in line with recommendation of the government's crisis center. Major shopping centers and stores did open on Saturday morning, with soldiers deployed outside shops.

However, many began closing their doors from around midday.

I'm not terribly surprised by this, given the connection to Brussels by the militants who hit Paris eight days ago, the Belgian capital seemed like the obvious next target in Europe.  I'm hoping that nobody else is hurt and that Belgian police can find these guys before they strike.

Democrats Behaving Badly, Con't

Of all the political excuses to use when embroiled in scandal of your own making in 2015, "I didn't know this would go viral" borders on gross incompetence.

The mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, apologized Friday for his recent remarks comparing the current threat of terrorism in the U.S. to the national mood after Pearl Harbor, invoking the internment of Japanese-Americans in his call to block Syrian refugees.

Mayor David Bowers said in a statement released Wednesday he's "reminded" of the internment of Japanese-Americans with "the threat of harm to America from Isis [sic]" now "just as real and serious."

The remarks were met with nearly universal condemnation, with members of the community calling on the mayor to resign, and prompted TV actor George Takei to invite the mayor to a musical about internment camps.

One, assume everything can go viral.

Two, read a history book once in your life.

Three, the really bad parts of America's history?  Try to remember that they should not be repeated.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Last Call For The Kids Are Not Alright

American Millennials are far more likely than older generations to say the government should be able to prevent people from saying offensive statements about minority groups, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data on free speech and media across the globe.

We asked whether people believe that citizens should be able to make public statements that are offensive to minority groups, or whether the government should be able to prevent people from saying these things. Four-in-ten Millennials say the government should be able to prevent people publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups, while 58% said such speech is OK.

Even though a larger share of Millennials favor allowing offensive speech against minorities, the 40% who oppose it is striking given that only around a quarter of Gen Xers (27%) and Boomers (24%) and roughly one-in-ten Silents (12%) say the government should be able to prevent such speech.

Compared with people we surveyed in dozens of nations, Americans as a whole are less likely to favor the government being able to prevent speech of any kind. The debate over what kind of speech should be tolerated in public has become a major story around the globe in recent weeks – from racial issues on many U.S. college campuses to questions about speech laws in Europe in the wake of concerns about refugees from the Middle East and the terrorist attacks in Paris.

We've gone over "vile speech" before.  You may not like it, it's hateful, it's awful, but the Constitution is pretty clear about the government banning it.  It's not going to happen.

Welcome To Bevinstan, Con't

Lexington Herald-Leader cartoonist Joel Pett goes right for the jugular on Matt Bevin's response on Syrian refugees: can definitely make the argument that this cartoon is out of bounds and that Pett went way over the line here, involving Bevin's four adopted children from Ethiopia.

But there's no such debate on the propriety of Bevin's response, via BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner:

Embedded image permalink

Like Pett's cartoon or not (I do not, and I think Pett should apologize) he still has free speech rights, and the direct threat of a governor saying that a political cartoonist or any member of the press's opinion "will not be tolerated by our administration" is flat-out unconstitutional.

There's no argument there to be had.

But welcome to Bevinstan.

Post-Racial America Update

There are people who are unconscionably awful human beings out there doing unspeakable things to their fellow humans, but I'm pretty sure the folks behind this are absolutely bound for the lower planes.

Two brothers in Horry County, South Carolina are facing charges that they treated a mentally handicapped black employee like a slave for years, beating and overworking the man, who lived in squalor on property owned by their restaurant. 
According to the Charleston Post and Courier, two Charleston attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Christopher Smith, who worked at the J&J Cafeteria in Conway for 23 years, but was hideously abused and exploited from 2010 to 2014. 
The suit lists 14 counts against J&J owner Ernest J. Edwards and manager Bobby Paul Edwards, including false imprisonment, discrimination and exploitive labor practices. Bobby Edwards, 50, was arrested a year ago in connection with the case. Those charges are still pending. 
Last October, Smith was rescued when social workers received a tip from an anonymous source who expressed concern for the man’s safety. Attorneys Mullins McLeod and David Aylor said that while the civil suit cannot change the past or rectify the harm done to Smith, hopefully it will “bring about positive change in the future.” 
The Post and Courier explained that Smith worked at the Edwards brothers’ business for more than two decades, but it was when Bobby took over as manager in 2010 that Smith’s situation turned ugly. 
Smith was routinely called the N-word, according to the suit. He was savagely beaten with a frying pan, hot tongs, butcher knives, belt buckles and fists. He worked 18-hour shifts Monday through Saturday and 11-hour shifts on Sundays with no breaks, receiving little pay. His total wages for each year added up to less than $3,000. 
The complaint against the Edwards said that Smith was often abused on the job, dragged into the walk-in freezer where he could be heard screaming in terror and pain by other employees and begging his abusers not to kill him.

And they kept him as an effective slave for years.  Please, please tell me these assholes are going to prison for a very long time.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Last Call For Marked By The Beast

Are we surprised that the same Donald Trump calling for an Eisenhower-era "Operation Wetback" style roundup of eleven million Latinos is now calling for a national database to identify and track the country's Muslim citizens?

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump believes that the war on terror will require unprecedented surveillance of America’s Muslims.

We’re going to have to do thing that we never did before,” he said during a Yahoo interview
“Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. 
Certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy,” he added. “We’re going to have to do things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.” 
Trump would not rule out warrantless searches in his plans for increased surveillance of the nation’s Muslims, Yahoo reported Thursday. 
He also remained open toward registering U.S. Muslims in a database or giving them special identification identifying their faith, the news outlet added
“We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Closing mosques, tracking Muslims, perhaps giving them armbands to identify them?  Hey Republicans? This is your current front-runner for President saying this.

And I don't blame Trump for his racist idiocy, I blame the "moderate Republicans" for accepting this and supporting this and the voters for electing Republicans who don't have a problem doing this to fellow American citizens.

Time to reclaim your party and clean house, guys.  Or live with your racist, awful party's consequences.
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