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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah we're talking to you ...!  
 
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Why must members of Congress fly first class?

Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would prevent members of Congress from using taxpayer funds on first-class plane tickets. The bill would also ban lawmakers from using government funds for long-term car leases for personal use.

"It's a commonsense idea that Republicans and Democrats can both agree on: members of Congress shouldn't be able to charge taxpayers for first-class airfare or long-term personal car leases," said Graham, who will likely be one of the most vulnerable House Democrats in the next election cycle.
I cannot conceive of any "commonsense idea that Republicans and Democrats can both agree on," but I wish her the best of luck in pushing this legislation.

Debates over voting rights are debates over definitions of democracy

Democracy, via Creative Commons
Do outcomes matter more than process? 
The GOP seems to think so.
Definitions of democracy

There's Your Problem

GOP Suffers More Humiliation As Kerry Announces Deal With Iran Likely ‘In The Next Days’

(Image courtesy of YouTube) Sorry, Republicans — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry thinks a temporary deal can be reached with Iran “in the next days.” Ouch! The shame...

Here are 10 horrifying facts about one of the worst bullies in the Senate — Tom Cotton

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) (Facebook)
Hailing from Arkansas, 37-year-old Senator Cotton boasts the title of being the youngest member of the Senate, but he spouts the old warmongering rhetoric of 78-year-old Senator John McCain.

And I Quote

Debunking A Union-Hating, Walker-Loving Columnist

Scott Walker ABC This Week
Another syndicated scribe has taken to slashing and burning unions. He’s a Tribune News Service columnist. With apologies to the intrepid Carrie Nation, I’ll call him “Hatchet-Man” (HM). He wrote a lengthy piece, laughingly titled “Unions don’t like concept of fair play.” His name isn’t important. [Editor’s note: The author’s name is Jay Ambrose.] Just another highly paid, right-wing propagandist.
The guy groveled at the feet of Governor and would-be seeker of the Republican presidential nomination, Scott Walker. Walker is yet another Koch addict who has managed to turn Wisconsin into a Right-to-Work (RTW) state. In currying the favor of Walker and union-busters everywhere, the “columnist” wielded his ink-stained hatchet with a mean-spirited, misleading and largely erroneous take on today’s unions.
It’s not that I’m particularly concerned that one of my favorite institutions is being attacked. Whack away! I am equally unconcerned about my right to set things straight. That’s what I do for PoliticusUSA. Let’s agree on one thing, shall we? If you didn’t want a union shop and yet, somehow, one managed to squirm its way into your company in a RTW state, you should be paid non-union wages and benefits and the union members should be paid union wages and benefits. I mean we all want “fair play”, right? No? You don’t want to pay dues, but you expect all the moolah and benefits? Whatta leech! The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the weekly wage numbers for non-union workers at 79% of union workers.
Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), is also a Hatchet-Man target. Ms. Weingarten was quoted by a Wisconsin online news service uttering this pithy and dead-on observation, “If you want good jobs, then you must stand up for the workers who hold them. If you want a strong middle class, then you can’t take out the unions that built them. If you want higher wages, then workers need a voice.” Certainly sounds reasonable to reasonable people.
In his response, HM insists Walker neither reduced jobs nor hurt the middle class and, by golly, he did give the workers a voice and an extension of rights. As for the latter, I’ve already identified the so-called anti-union parasite’s “rights.”
HM must be highly clairvoyant considering Walker just signed the enabling legislation a few days ago. But, if the other 24 right-to-work states are any guide, the bill will create deep resentments (as intended) within the workplace and will do great harm to the middle class when major corporations continue bringing in their union-busters who make huge money by using deceit and lies to keep unions from darkening corporate doors. As for not reducing jobs, it may surprise you that RTW has been around since 1947. Most RTW states have had the law on the books for more than 30 years, so there’s a body of evidence to debunk the suggestion that the job picture will suddenly become rosy.
The inestimably valuable Economic Policy Institute (EPI) did a comprehensive study on the subject and discovered that all RTW states did not experience employment growth after passing the legislation. Oklahoma was given as an example where manufacturing and relocation reversed their upward trend and went the other way. In rebuttal, RTW, as all rogues invariably do, messed with some numbers.
The National Right to Work Committee asserted that non-agricultural employment in RTW states averaged growth that was twice as fast as in non-RTW states. The declaration is true with an asterisk. These stats are based on “average” instead of “median” figures. Average is when you lump all the numbers together and divide them by the number of participants. In salary averages for instance, if a couple of people earn a million a year and the rest of the included workers make $7,000 a year, depending on numbers, the “average” could be as high as $50,000, when the overwhelming percentage of participants make around 7K.
Median is a much more objective figure. In median household income for example, one-half of households are below the median; one-half above. In the RTW case, some states did, indeed, go crazy with employment increases (most not related to RTW, by the way), while others tumbled into the abyss. But with “averages” the RTW Committee managed to make the numbers look like every RTW state benefited. That was clearly not true.
And for you non-union, non-thinkers, virtually all states are “at will” states, meaning you can be fired if the boss doesn’t like the way you part your hair. Union members can only be fired for “just cause.”
A still worthy, timeless read on the subject is the 1993 tell-all non-fiction work, “Confessions of a Union Buster” by reformed buster, Martin J. Levitt. He tells all the inside secrets of how he was able to build up a sterling record of successfully keeping unions out of all but 5 of roughly 250 union-hating, filthy rich corporations. It’s still available on Amazon. There are also Levitt interviews on YouTube.
Levitt was predictably attacked by the anti-union hacks as a liar, cheat and fraud in revealing how the ‘kill unions’ game was, and still is, played. Let’s concede their point. It still doesn’t change the nature of his job.
HM then went on to decry Weingarten’s outrageous salary of $375,174 PLUS $182,701 in expenses. Why, that’s over a half-mil a year! Now, let’s do a little comparison shopping here. Let’s start with the average compensation for the CEO’s of the Fortune 500 list, union-busters included. TEN MILLION big ones annually and I would dare say there are many hundreds more, maybe even thousands, of upper management types that far outdistance 500 grand. Hell, Salon reports that in 2012, David Koch made $3 million an HOUR in investments alone.
HM was thrilled that an earlier bill signed by the governor allowed teachers to drop out of their unions. A third of them did (Brains, A; judgment, F.) Be that stupid, but don’t irreparably harm your fellow teachers in the process. This bit of news served as an entrĂ©e into the issue of a United Federation of Schools (UFS) charter school that failed miserably in Brooklyn. There’s no challenging the fact that the school was an embarrassing disappointment, especially since it was the brainchild of a teacher’s union.
A Wall Street Journal article quoted a former teacher as saying that the UFS Charter School, was an exciting place to work with an exceptional and carefully chosen faculty, a high degree of enthusiasm and a promising student body.” The core reason for the downhill slide was the loss of the best teachers who had an agreement with the public schools that they could retain tenure if they returned after 3 years. That’s when the slide started.
Of course, other charters and private schools can cherry-pick the best and brightest and expel the troublemakers. Forbes cited a Washington DC charter expulsion rate 28 times greater than DC public schools. And there’s the matter of accountability. Still, charter schools manage to trail public schools in numerous categories. Forbes cited for-profit charter numbers from a 26-state Stanford study that charter reading scores were about the same and math scores were worse.
Huge charter money goes to mostly Republican legislators who are bent on destroying the public system.
So there’s your column as it should have been written.



Scott Walker and the ‘home-state haters’ problem


by Steve Benen
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gestures while speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 26, 2015. (Photo by Cliff Owen/AP)As he makes the case for his national candidacy, Scott Walker (R) frequently touts his success in his blue-ish home state. When it comes to presidential elections, Wisconsin is considered a key battleground, but it has voted Democratic in seven of the last seven races, including two easy wins for President Obama. And yet, as Walker is eager to remind folks, he’s also won twice – three times if we count the recall election.
The point is obvious: the Republican governor has demonstrated an ability to appeal to voters in a state that leans in Democrats’ direction. That’s the kind of quality that should matter, the argument goes, as GOP voters weigh their 2016 choices.
The problem with the pitch, though, is that Wisconsin doesn’t seem too keen on Walker’s White House bid.
Gov. Scott Walker may be soaring in national presidential polls, but his job performance rating in Wisconsin has dropped to its lowest point since the 2011 protests, according to the latest Wisconsin poll from Public Policy Polling. […]
Those who say they approve of the job Walker is doing fell to 43 percent, while those who disapprove increased to 52 percent. In late October, the same Democratic-leaning poll found 49 percent approved of Walker’s job performance, while 47 percent disapproved.
In a hypothetical general election match-up against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the poll shows Walker trailing in his own state by nine points.
This is obviously just one poll, and the governor hasn’t even formally announced his presidential campaign just yet, but at this point, the governor has been in office for over four years – he was just re-elected last fall – and the fact that his constituents aren’t exactly rallying behind his national ambitions has to be a little discouraging.
But what I find especially interesting is how increasingly common this is among the other Republican presidential candidates. It doesn’t look great for Walker that his own state’s voters are skeptical about his White House campaign, but he can take some comfort in the fact that so many of his GOP rivals are in the exact same boat.
In New Jersey, for example, Chris Christie’s (R) approval rating isn’t just dropping; Garden State voters seem to believe his presidential bid is a bad idea. In a match-up against Clinton, polls show the Republican governor trailing the likely Democratic candidate badly.
Things aren’t much better for the Floridians in the field. A recent Mason-Dixon poll found that only 15% of Florida voters want Marco Rubio (R) to pursue the presidency this year. For  Jeb Bush (R), 42% of Floridians believe he should run for the White House, which is better than Rubio, but short of a majority.
A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in decent shape among his Republican constituents, but the same poll found former Gov. Rick Perry (R) running a distant fifth in the state he led for over a decade. In fact, the governor was in single digits among GOP voters in his own state.
Politico recently called it the problem of the “home-state haters,” which is remarkably wide spread. Louisianans aren’t on board with Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign; Pennsylvanians aren’t backing Rick Santorum’s latest White House run; and South Carolinians clearly don’t think much of Lindsey Graham’s national ambitions.
Several years ago the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake suggest home-state skepticism is routine for presidential hopefuls and that’s “true everywhere.” I get the familiarity-breeds-contempt thesis, but I’m still not sure that’s right.
As longtime readers may recall, Illinois voters were awfully fond of Barack Obama in 2008; Texans were very enthusiastic about George W. Bush in 2000; and Arkansas strongly supported Bill Clinton in 1992. In fact, candidates rejected by their own constituents – Mitt Romney in Massachusetts and Al Gore in Tennessee, for example – tend not to do particularly well.
It is, of course, early in the process and the likely candidates still have time to win over their neighbors. But as we talked about a month ago, the fact that so many Republican presidential hopefuls have so little support from their own constituents is an inauspicious sign.

Walker Compares ISIL To A Computer Virus

Walker Compares ISIS To A Computer Virus
Scott Walker's foreign policy is apparently making a fool out of himself.

Scott Walker Caught Lying About Ronald Reagan And The bible

Scott Walker Caught Lying About Ronald Reagan And The Bible (VIDEO)Isn’t it some sort of major sin for a wingnut christian to lie about both the bible and Reagan?

Wage Gap

Legal Scholars Explain Deep Flaws in The Texas Ruling to Block Immigration Action

HanenIn a legally sound and blistering statement made public on Friday, 104 legal scholars and instructors of immigration law described Texas Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision to block President Obama’s immigration executive action  as “deeply flawed.”
The programs at issue are the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA)  These programs would have shielded millions of people from deportation and provided them with permission to work.
The statement identifies several problems in Judge Hanen’s decision beginning with his claim about the legal basis for DACA and DAPA. Hanen asserts “there is no specific law or statute to authorize DAPA”. However, the group of lawyers point to the statutory basis for deferred action in general, then address the specifics of Hanen’s claim about DAPA as a form of deferred action.
In the Texas decision, Judge Hanen declares that “The Government must concede that there is no specific law or statute that authorizes DAPA. However, the government need not concede anything here, because there is strong legal authority for deferred action in general, and for DAPA and DACA in particular as forms of deferred action.
The group goes on to point to a Supreme Court ruling about deferred action as one of many forms of prosecutorial discretion.
To explain why his reasoning is erroneous, it is crucial to understand that deferred action is a longstanding form of prosecutorial discretion. In its decision in Reno v. AADC, the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly recognized “deferred action” as a form of prosecutorial discretion—namely, a choice to interrupt or abandon efforts of trying to deport someone by offering them temporary protection from deportation.
The group also faulted Hanen for equating deferred action with work authorization.  While deferred action provided such authorization in the past, they are not one and the same thing.
Judge Hanen also confuses deferred action with work authorization, which is based on an independent statute and governing regulations. He goes to great pains to distinguish prosecutorial discretion in immigration law through “nonenforcement” from deferred action because it comes with “other benefits” like work authorization. But the deferred action program has operated for decades in this way, and among other things, has provided qualifying grantees the opportunity to apply for work authorization upon a showing of economic necessity.
According to the group, Hanen also erred when he suggested that a person cannot obtain a “lawful presence” through programs like DACA and DAPA.  He erroneously conflated “lawful status” and “lawful presence.
The source of his mistake is overlooking the difference between “lawful presence” and “lawful status.” The lawful presence awarded to deferred action recipients is a modest aspect of deferred action with its own statutory basis. The limited significance of unlawful presence is that it determines whether the person’s presence will trigger future inadmissibility when he or she departs. In contrast, lawful status, which neither DAPA nor DACA would grant, is associated with whether a person’s status is secure or liminal.
Hanen’s misunderstanding of the difference between “lawful presence” and “lawful status” begins in the very first paragraph of his ruling. ”This program is designed to provide legal presence to over four million individuals who are currently in the country illegally and would enable these individuals to obtain a variety of both state and federal benefits.”
All of these are serious technical errors, especially for a judge with Hanen’s lengthy experience in immigration law. However, there is something else Hanen did to compromise the legitimacy of his ruling.  Contrary to his assertion that public opinions and perceptions of the country’s policies do not have a place in resolving a judicial matter, he let his own opinions and perceptions about the President’s policies cloud his judgement.

GOP Asshat Resigns After Saying Purpose Of Voter ID Is To Suppress Votes Of Democrats

From the Archives:

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office workers will soon have less space than supermax prisoners
why companies reward investors instead of investing in the real economy
the wingnut attempt to rewrite u.s. history
most pediatricians will turn away patients who refuse to vaccinate their children
the Alaskan village that needs to be relocated due to climate change
gun deaths are expected to surpass automobile deaths this year
marijuana may be safer than previously thought
poll finds huge support for tax on the rich
the researcher who found undiscovered fairy tales even darker than the Grimms
a map of which disease will probably kill you depending on where you live
a secret stash of moon artifacts found in Neil Armstrong's closet
college students prefer dead tree books
why don't we tax the 1% as much as we tax the poor?
everything you know about addiction is wrong
Ferguson's government was run like a racket
white people aren't considered terrorists unless they liberate animals
the town where everyone got free money
basic personality changes linked to unemployment
you heard about Pluto?  that's messed up, right?

Democratic Legislator To Make Homophobic Businesses Publicly Declare They’re Bigots With Genius Amendment

Democratic Legislator To Make Homophobic Businesses Publicly Declare They’re Bigots With Genius Amendment
This amendment to a “religious liberty” bill is genius.
Read more

We’re Pretty Sure Oklahoma Is Legalizing Polygamy To Stop Gay Marriage

After a landslide of states either recognizing or being forced by federal courts to recognize same-sex marriages, many states’ Republicans are in full damage control mode attempting to keep bigotry ingrained in their state’s law books. In doing so, Oklahoma may have just legalized one of the “slippery slope” arguments they used to fight marriage equality all along: polygamy.
Oklahoma Legalizes Polygamy
Oklahoma Rep. Todd Russ authored a bill, which has now passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, that removed the responsibility of issuing marriage licenses from the hands of court clerks. In fact, the bill will pretty much abolish marriage licenses altogether.
Instead, the responsibility of issuing marriage certificates would fall onto the lap of clergy members. Rep. Russ pointed out his reasoning, although it’s clear his main motive is continued ignorant bigotry, by saying this:
“Put it back to what it was supposed to be and was originally: a holy matrimony and a very solemn and spiritual vow.”
It’s apparent that Russ thinks this will hinder gay marriages in the state due to clergy members who may share his bigoted beliefs. What he failed to consider — something that it seems a intellectually disabled 3-month-old orangutan could have figured out — is the fact that not all churches in Oklahoma share his bigotry.
There are undoubtedly churches of all denominations in Oklahoma that will have no problem issuing marriage certificates to gay couples. There are also, however, several Mormon institutions. As of 2014, this included two Mormon missions, 86 congregations, one temple and 24 Family History Centers.
While many sects of Mormons don’t recognize polygamous marriages, the Apostolic United Brethren, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other splinter groups do support the practice. Similarly, there are between 50,000 and 100,000 American Muslims who live in families where polygamous relationships exist.
By granting the clergy the right to issue marriage certificates, rather than the state issuing licenses, Republicans have essentially poured barrels full of K-Y Jelly down that “slippery slope” they were always talking about. The state will no longer be able to regulate marriages, and if a certain religious sect thinks a guy having three wives is okay, how will the state stop them?
One would think that, if a man rolled up with his three wives and a marriage certificate from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a clerk of the court could say “Sorry, we’re not filing that certificate.”
Funnily enough, though, The Huffington Post had this to say:
“The legislation… amends language in the state law that governs the responsibilities of court clerks. All references to marriage licenses were removed.”
So in reality, the clerk’s sole job would be to record the marriage certificate so that it will officially be recognized by Oklahoma. That’s it. No more, no less.
For the moment, let’s ignore the fact that this bill is insanely discriminatory towards atheists and non-theists who might not want clergy performing their weddings. Let’s ignore the fact that Rep. Idiot Russ said this about non-theists getting married:
“They don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage.”
Let’s go ahead and also ignore the fact that Marshall Dyer, a family law attorney, stated:
“Oklahoma law currently recognizes common law marriages where there is cohabitation coupled with evidence of an intent to act as married, and holding out to others as a married couple. Currently there is no method of filing an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage with the Court Clerk.”
Let’s also ignore the fact that, as indicated by Dyer’s statement, if two individuals don’t want to live together until after they’re married, they will be unable to secure an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage.
Let’s ignore all of these idiotic side effects of this deranged law authored by an even more deranged Republican.  Instead, let’s think about whether or not Russ is a little smarter than we think.
Could he possibly be purposefully creating this “slippery slope” so that, in two years, Republicans can look back and say “See? We told you gay marriage would lead to polygamy!”  Could he possibly be smart enough to pull off such a charade in a long-term effort to make conservatives look good while hoping no one notices that it was Republicans themselves who laid the groundwork for legalized polygamy?
Who are we kidding?  The guy is just an idiot, and thankfully, there’s no way this unconstitutional law will ever hold up in court.

Republicans Oppose Science

GOP senators oppose probe of scientists who question climate change. a group of republican senators have voiced opposition to an investigation by a democratic congressman into funding sources of scientists skeptical of the impact of climate change. - More

No need to be PC about it - Republicans are stupid

Life was good before we got all Politically Correct… (1960’s)
Via