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Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Here are 5 ways it's become a crime to be poor in America - punishable by further impoverishment

The criminalization of America's poor has been quietly gaining steam for years, but a recent study, "The Poor Get Prison," co-authored by Karen Dolan and Jodi L. Carr, reveals the startling extent to which American municipalities are fining and jailing the country's most vulnerable people, not just punishing them for being poor, but driving them deeper into poverty.
"In the last ten years," Barbara Ehrenreich writes in the introduction, "it has become apparent that being poor is in itself a crime in many cities and counties, and that it is a crime punished by further impoverishment."
A few months ago, the Department of Justice's Ferguson report revealed how that city has disproportionately targeted its majority minority population with traffic and other minor infractions that heavily support the municipality's coffers. But Ferguson is far from alone. Municipalities like New York City have greatly increased the number of minor offenses that are considered criminal (like putting your feet up in the subway) or sitting on the sidewalk. Wealthy white people in business attire are rarely targeted for such summonses, and if they are, they can quickly pay the fine or hire counsel to get out of it. The over-punishment of minor offenses is just another way the rich get richer, and as the report says, the "poor get prison." They also get poorer and more numerous. In one striking statistic, the Southern Educational Foundation reports that 51 percent of America's public schoolchildren are living in poverty.
Perversely, it is the poor who, according to Dolan and Carr, are subsidizing municipalities' budgets and becoming reliable sources of enrichment for the private companies contracted by local governments to carry out what used to be government duties.
Here are five troubling trends from the report that show us how the government is financially abusing poor people.
1. Jailing probationers who can't pay fees and fines. More than four million people are sentenced to probation in America, according to the report. Because state funding for probation services is on the decline, more private companies are talking over the responsibility of managing them. Private probation companies don't charge local governments for their services, so there is no fee to the taxpayer. Probationers, however, are charged a supervision fee, and if they can't afford to pay, they face jail time. Despite the fact that it is unconstitutional to jail people because they can't pay fines, the reality is that many probationers are poor and unaware of their rights and they end up in modern-day debtors' prisons.
2. Taking poor people's property through asset forfeit seizures. More than $3 billion in cash and property has been seized by local and state police agencies through a Department of Justice asset seizure program. Eighty percent of the assets collected through this program stay with the law enforcement agencies that collect them, the Washington Post reported. Under asset forfeit seizure programs, cops can take someone's property simply under "reasonable suspicion" it was used to commit a crime; the burden of proof is on the property owner that the seizure was unjustified.
3. School-to-prison pipeline. Black students make up just 16 percent of the population but represent 32-42 percent of students who are suspended or expelled, according to the "The Poor Get Prison" report. Many school districts around the country use local police to provide security, which further increases these students' chances of arrest.
4. Hyper criminalization of petty infractions. The New York City Council is considering proposals to make petty crimes like peeing in public and drinking from an open container civil instead of criminal offenses. This follows years of hyper-policing and criminalizing an increasing list of tiny infractions.
5. Fining the homeless for being homeless. If you are homeless in America and have nowhere to go and are down on your luck, it is increasingly difficult to find a safe space in which to exist without being fined for loitering. According to the report, an estimated 600,000 people are homeless on any given night. Though nearly 13 percent of the nation's low-income housing has been lost since 2001, and many people simply cannot afford housing, 34 percent of cities ban public camping, 18 percent prohibit sleeping in public and 43 percent prevent people from sleeping in vehicles, according to a study the report cited.

Guns and money: Calls mount to probe NRA finances

A leading national gun safety group, joined by members of Congress, is calling for investigations of the National Rifle Association’s fundraising practices and finances in response to a Yahoo News investigation published last week.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) has launched a nationwide petition campaign asking the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service to investigate “violations of federal law” by the National Rifle Association. The petition drive cites the Yahoo News report which disclosed that the NRA had violated multiple provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act, failed to report its political expenditures to the IRS for six consecutive years, and appears to have avoided paying federal taxes. CSGV spokesman Ladd Everitt called the NRA violations “hugely significant.” Everitt said his goal was to press the two federal agencies responsible for enforcement of tax and election laws to “launch investigations into the NRA’s fraudulent activities immediately.” The CSGV is made up of 48 organizations, among them religious, social justice, political and child welfare groups. Yahoo News reported that the NRA misled prospective donors by telling them that money was being raised to support the tax-exempt operations of the organization when the money was, in fact, deposited to the account of its political action committee. Federal law — as well as multiple state laws — requires that fundraisers explicitly inform donors who the beneficiary of a contribution will be.
Guns and money: Calls mount to probe NRA finances  “If donations have been used to support candidates or causes with deception to the donors, there is a likely violation of law,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a former Connecticut attorney general. “NRA donors deserve to know where their donations are going without any misinformation, and the solicitations described by Yahoo News merit scrutiny.”
Federal law also bars organizations like the NRA from raising funds for their political action committees (PACs) from the general public, and from using publicly accessible websites to finance their PACs. Tax-exempt corporations like the NRA are only allowed to solicit from their members. The NRA violated all of these provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act in soliciting contributions during the 2014 elections. Responding to the Yahoo News report and the CSGV petition drive, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., said, “Everyone needs to play by the same set of rules. If the evidence reported is true, the FEC and IRS should conduct a full and thorough investigation into its [the NRA’s] fundraising and reporting activities.” Thompson, the chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said, “Many Second Amendment supporters and responsible gun owners contribute to the NRA because of the work it does to promote gun safety and support the hunting community. They have a right to know whether their money is going to these causes or to Beltway-NRA political efforts that undermine common-sense laws designed to keep criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from getting guns.” Thompson was referring indirectly to the NRA’s support for candidates who backed its successful 2013 campaign to thwart expanded background checks for gun purchases. The measure died in the U.S. Senate. The CSGV’s petition notes that NRA executives — including Chris Cox, who heads both the NRA lobbying arm, which solicited the donations, and the NRA political action committee, which deposited the funds to its account — had yet to comment on the findings in the Yahoo News report. “They apparently believe they are above the law. They are not, and it’s time to hold them accountable.”
Chris Cox — shill of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of the NRA 
The NRA also failed to respond to a request for comment on the CSGV petition. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., whose district includes the Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 children and adults were shot to death in 2012, said her office had heard from advocacy groups about the issues raised in the Yahoo News report. “I join with gun safety advocates in calling for an immediate and thorough investigation,” she said. “The NRA is not above the law.” The NRA has twice been challenged by the FEC for illegally moving corporate funds to its PAC. In 1983, the NRA signed a consent decree declaring that it would “no longer spend corporate funds in connection with any federal election” and would limit its “partisan communications” to members. Eight years later, in 1991, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Sporkin held that a $415,000 payment by corporate NRA to the PVF was an “illegal contribution” in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act. But an appeals court ruled that the FEC as then constituted lacked authority to enforce the law. Although gun control groups have scored a number of significant victories in the states in recent years, at the national level they are largely playing defense. But representatives of these groups say the campaign finance and tax law violations reported by Yahoo News may provide an opening to rein in the nation’s most powerful gun lobby. Beyond the call for two separate federal investigations, these groups are exploring the possibility of filing complaints with state attorneys general and state election boards. CSGV’s Everitt suggested that individuals and smaller local organizations could play an important role in pressuring state agencies to investigate the NRA. He cited the 2014 case of Sam Bell, a 24-year-old Brown University graduate student who singlehandedly shut down the Rhode Island division of the NRA for several months by filing a complaint with the state Board of Elections. The board eventually imposed a $63,000 fine on the NRA, which admitted it had improperly funneled money to its Rhode Island PAC and filed inaccurate reports with the Rhode Island board.
State election and campaign finance laws vary widely from one state to another, making it difficult to say whether the NRA violations reported at the federal level would provide any cause of action before state election boards. But the NRA’s online fundraising appears to have violated a variety of state laws designed to protect consumers from fraudulent fundraising. In California, to cite just one example, the law declares that a charitable organization “shall not misrepresent … the nature or purpose or beneficiary of a solicitation,” and requires that contributions be deposited to an account “that is solely in the name of the charitable organization on whose behalf the contribution was solicited.” Those procedures were not followed in the cases of solicitations Yahoo News reported. Many legal experts believe that state attorney generals are in the best position to probe the NRA’s fundraising — so more investigations may lie ahead.

Obama Stands Up For Veterans By Vowing To Veto GOP Bill That Cut Benefits For 70,000 Vets

While Congressional Republicans wave the flag with one hand, they are trying to cut benefits for 70,000 veterans with the other. President Obama has vowed to veto the bill, and House Democrats are promising to sustain that veto.
On Tuesday, President Obama threatened to veto the Republican bill, “The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2029, making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes. The bill fails to fully fund critical priorities, including veterans’ medical care and military and VA construction. Furthermore, the legislation includes a highly problematic ideological rider that would constrain the President’s ability to protect our national security. If the President were presented with H.R. 2029, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
Today, House Democrats also stood up for vets by opposing the legislation.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said the GOP’s bill would scale back health benefits for roughly 70,000 veterans, while also denying funds for medical research, education and veterans’ cemeteries.
“The secretary came and sent a very strong message, something we rarely hear: ‘Please don’t let this funding bill become law if you care about our veterans. We must do better for them,'” Becerra said.
Republicans didn’t just take away a little bit of funding from veterans. The Republican funding bill is $1 billion short of what the VA needs in order to be able to provide care and services to the nation’s veterans. Since taking control of the House, Republicans have tried to cut veterans’ benefits on a nearly yearly basis. In 2012, House Republicans tried to cut benefits while privatizing healthcare. In 2013, House Republicans tried to cut food assistance for 170,000 vets and their families. In 2014, Senate Republicans blocked a veterans’ benefits bill.
President Obama and his party have defied the partisan rhetoric coming from the right by trying to provide veterans with the support and services that they earned. The nation’s promise to its veterans should be sacred, but Republicans consistently demonstrate that if given the choice they will always put the wealthy and corporations ahead of those who have risked their lives for their country.

Republicans Prove They Can’t Govern As Military Funding Bill Collapses Into Chaos

boehner-face-485-wideThe ghost of chaos past haunted the House Wednesday night, as Republicans tried desperately to navigate around their own sequestration level spending caps in order to appease the war hawks in their party.
Republicans slipped a nifty $532 million deficit-funded credit card to the DoD to get around the Republicans’ own spending caps – only to be busted by both a Republican war and budget hawk and a Democrat who wants to return to the way budgets are supposed to be done, pre-sequester days.
It was a clustermuck of epic proportions, immediately recognizable as the House that Speaker Boehner (R-OH) runs. Naturally, the vote was “stalled”.
Emma Dumain reported how the cluster went down for Roll Call, noting that Republicans have been bragging about their early start to appropriations season, “but consideration of the very first spending bill — considered the least controversial of all 12 annual measures — hit a snag Wednesday night.” Republicans tried to float innocuous reasons for giving up, but Roll Call got the real scoop.
But several senior House aides, including those who work in leadership offices, confirmed to CQ Roll Call that part of the reason for stalling MilCon-VA votes had to do with GOP leaders’ anxiety that members on both sides of the aisle were prepared to adopt an amendment that would strip from the underlying bill the ability to spend money from the Overseas Contingency Operations account.
This was all put an end to by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), who used amendments to kill the secret money:
House Republican leaders included that $532 million account to make the spending bill, which is limited due to sequester-level spending caps, more attractive to defense hawks who insist the Pentagon needs more cash to fight terror. But Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., teamed up on three related amendments to eliminate the ability to use the money.
Mulvaney (the Republican) was not impressed, objecting that the money wouldn’t be used on war-related matters, noting that there was not enough money under the (Republican) spending caps imposed by sequestration:
“It spends $532 million in the OCO budget for matters that the Department of Defense admits are not war-related,” said Mulvaney, a two-term budget hawk who said last month he’d rather raise taxes than add to the deficit.
“These are matters that the Department of Defense included in its original base defense budget request, but which there isn’t enough money under the … caps,” he said during House floor debate earlier Wednesday. “The appropriators have taken those requests, which are admittedly not war-related, and buried it in this appropriations bill using the OCO money.”
Van Hollen (the Democrat) said in a statement reported by Roll Call that there was clearly bipartisan objection “to using the Overseas Contingency Operations budget as a slush fund for non-war related projects.” He called for a return to the debate process.
Last night’s cluster is awkward since Republicans have been bragging that they are starting the appropriations process super early. Woo hoo! They were going to get to work finally and do something. Republicans announced that they were starting early to avoid “another Washington-made cliff.” Apparently “Washington-made” is way of saying “Republican-made”. The Department of Veterans Affairs and Military Construction Projects appropriations bill was meant to kick off Republicans showing America “YES THEY CAN GOVERN!”
Yet, on their first go out of the gate, Republicans are already mired in the quicksand of their own flawed fiscal beliefs, being called out by a Republican no less, who would prefer to raise taxes rather than add to the deficit, proving that not all Republicans are immune to the realities of math.
The takeaway here is that Republicans continue their sequester spending caps because they allow them to avoid facing debate about issues that are not popular with the public. Instead, they plan to sneak money to their pet causes behind everyone’s back, while pandering to voters with falsehoods about their fiscal restraint. Austerity, as imposed by sequester level spending caps, will continue for everyone else.
There have been no new updates thus far on Thursday. The stalled vote is stalled still.

The Toxic Chickens Have Come Home To Roost As Republican Sequester Is A Total Disaster

paul-ryan-sadThe Republican Holy Grail of sequestration, the idea they were so proud of that they bragged about it and begged for it for years, has turned out to be a total failure.
The fallout resulting from their slapdash, chaotic efforts to drown the baby with the bathwater continues.
In written testimony for an April 29 Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing titled “The Homeland Security Department’s Budget Submission for Fiscal Year 2016″, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson basically begged for relief and protection from the careless, random cuts of the Republican sequestration, saying that unless Congress acts, sequestration will kick in again in 2016 leaving DHS “funding to its lowest level, adjusted for inflation, in a decade.”
The President’s budget request for FY 2016 also proposes to end sequestration. Unless Congress acts to prevent it, sequestration kicks in again in 2016. This would bring homeland security funding to its lowest level, adjusted for inflation, in a decade. Now is not the time to take such a huge step backward in our Nation’s homeland security funding. At a sequester level, funding for the Department would be inadequate to continue paying for our current workforce and programs. Meanwhile, pay and inflation costs would automatically increase notwithstanding sequestration. Many other key initiatives that were funded in FY 2015 would be discontinued or sharply curtailed. These initiatives include added border security on our southern border, more CBP officers, more ICE attorneys for immigration enforcement, and more HSI agents. Furthermore, the FY 2016 budget includes requests to implement recommendations of the United States Secret Service Protective Missions Panel. If sequestration returns, our ability to fully fund this, too, is jeopardized. We need to move forward, not backward, in our funding of homeland security.
Our FY 2016 Budget focuses resources in each of the Department’s mission areas: prevent terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage our borders, enforce and administer our immigration laws, safeguard and secure cyberspace, and strengthen national preparedness and resilience.
And it’s not just the Department of Homeland Security. As Congress addresses spending levels for the 2016 budget, they are realizing that they can’t keep going at sequestration levels because the numbers do not even meet inflation. How’s that for efficiency.
Chad Pergram of Fox News noted today, “Hse Apps Chair Rogers on $ bills: There’s a realization by people we have to do something. We can’t pass bills at these sequestration levels… Hse Apps Cmte Chair Rogers on the challenges to pass spending bills this yr. Says the numbers ‘don’t even meet inflation’ due to sequester.”
Sequestration is basically modern Republican fiscal ideology in a nutshell. Cut everything, don’t ask what makes sense to cut, just cut and let the collateral damage find its targets. All of this so that they can continue to give billionaires tax cuts and subsidize big business with tax payments from the people.
Sequestration makes no sense; it is not based on responsibility, but rather on irresponsibility. It’s someone’s idea of an Ayn Rand novel come to life. Someone who clearly doesn’t understand the difference between reality and fiction (Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), this one’s for you).
Most people will agree that government is bloated and inefficient. But then, so are most major corporations. A real leader doesn’t run around cutting budgets without looking at them first and learning what they do.
Republicans like to pretend they are the party of personal responsibility and national security, but with this one move they have destroyed that narrative. And the bad news for Republicans is, they weren’t doing so hot on either narrative before sequestration. This is just another outcome that tells the story of the epic failure of the modern Republican party’s “ideas”. These folks can’t govern their way out of a paper bag. They can’t be trusted with national security, which they repeatedly treat like a hostage to advance their own political pandering.
Republican sequestration is a failure. It’s a disaster. It is the worst of Republicanism — drunken frat boys swaggering about, quoting Ayn Rand while they shut down the government and undermine national security for the momentary high of the illusion of power.
Back down here on the ground with the grown ups, Republican fantasies aren’t working out like they do in Rand’s fiction.

David Koch Wants A Walker-Rubio Ticket

David Koch Wants A Walker-Rubio Ticket
“I am supporting Scott Walker,” Koch told one guest in the ballroom of his 30,000-square-foot mansion.

Imagine That: More Errors In 'Clinton Cash' Book

Imagine That: More Errors In 'Clinton Cash' Book
Just for the record, this author is the opposition hit man we always said he was.
Well, Imagine That

Florida House Adjourns Early To Bring The Senate To Heel Over Medicaid

Florida House Adjourns Early To Bring The Senate To Heel Over Medicaid
They left everything on the table, adjourned three days early, and went home.

Kansas Crippled As Republican Tax Cuts Fail To Magically Boost Economy

Featured image by http://www.cgpgrey.com. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Welcome_to_Kansas_4892142218.jpg#/media/File:Welcome_to_Kansas_4892142218.jpgKansas Republicans sold tax cuts for the wealthy as the stimulus they needed to increase state revenues. Their plan has utterly failed.

Charles Koch Admits Climate Change Is Real

Charles Koch Admits Climate Change Is Real
Yes, Charles Koch says CO2 causes unnatural climate change, but holding true to his denier roots, Mr. Koch stops short of acknowledging that global warming poses any threat. Welcome to Denial 2.0.

Senators Approve Bill To Stop EPA From Using ‘Secret Science’

For the first time, the Senate is advancing the "Secret Science Reform Act."

House Republicans Go After Birthright Citizenship

Elise Foley Headshotby Elise Foley

Democrats in Congress frequently accuse the GOP of attacking immigrants, and on Wednesday, House Republicans gave them more fodder by holding a hearing on whether the U.S. should continue the longstanding practice of granting citizenship to all children born here.
Some Republicans argue that birthright citizenship incentivizes unauthorized immigration and birth tourism. They add that the 14th Amendment, which states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States," has been misinterpreted to apply to children of undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) have both introduced bills this year to end birthright citizenship, but neither has gone for a vote.
Even if those bills never get a vote -- and they likely won't -- the fact that the issue got a hearing at all provided fuel for Democrats, who were fiery in their defense of the right for babies born on U.S. soil to be citizens.
"This birthright citizenship legislation and a decision to hold a hearing on its merits are outrageous examples of just how far shameless Republicans are willing to go to demonstrate their hatred for immigrants," Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said at a press conference, accusing Republicans of using the bill to stigmatize and sow hate for immigrants.
At the same press conference, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said, "In Spanish-language media there will be one more piece of evidence that Republicans will do anything and everything to keep their nativist wing happy."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement accusing Republicans of pandering "to the most radical, anti-immigrant corners of their party" and called the idea "one of the most loathsome, xenophobic proposals in recent memory." In a separate statement, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) called the hearing "a humiliating reminder of the jingoistic insensitivity of the few toward multiculturalism and the changing face of America in the 21st Century."
The same day, a coalition of pro-immigration reform groups released a report detailing what it called the "2015 GOP mass deportation agenda."
Many Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), defended the decision to hold the hearing.
"The question of whether our forefathers meant for birthright citizenship in all circumstances to be the law of the land is far from settled," Goodlatte said at the hearing. "In any event, we must still determine if it is the right policy for America today."
King was the most adamant that it was not the right policy. He questioned what would happen "to the demographics of America if this policy is not reversed," and implied that Democrats may support birthright citizenship because they want to win elections.
"I don't think I'm hearing an argument as to why it would be a good idea to grant automatic citizenship to any baby that could be born in the United States to any mother who could find a way to get into the United States," he said. "That hands over the immigration policy to everyone except Americans. So I don't know that that's even a debate before this committee unless you want to expand your political base by any means necessary."
Witnesses from the Republican side -- John Eastman of the Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Jon Feere of the Center for Immigration Studies and University of Texas law professor Lino Graglia -- all argued against granting automatic citizenship to everyone born in the U.S., either as unnecessary under the law or bad policy.
"It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one that makes unauthorized entry into the country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry: a grant of American citizenship," Graglia, who was testifying on behalf of himself and not the university, said during his testimony.
Graglia's appearance gave another chance for Democrats to go on the offensive. He has a long history of racially insensitive remarks, from allegedly using the derogatory term "pickaninny" to saying black and Hispanic students cannot compete with white students and that it therefore was not "good for whites to be with the lower classes." Both Gutierrez and Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) brought up his past comments during the hearing.

Missouri Satanist: 72-hour waiting period for abortions violates my ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’

Woman makes timeout gesture (Shutterstock)
A Missouri Satanist plans to challenge her state’s 72-hour waiting period for abortions by claiming the delay violates her religious beliefs.
The woman, identified only as Mary by her local Satanic Temple, said she regards the waiting period as “a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion” and plans to challenge the law on religious grounds, reported the Friendly Atheist blog.
The waiting period places an “unnecessary burden” on her religious belief that her body is subject to her will alone, she said.
“The waiting period interferes with the inviolability of my body and thereby imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs,” she said.
Her statements echo language in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, under which Hobby Lobby claimed protection in its successful U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.
Under the law Mary plans to challenge, she would be required to wait three days between her initial appointment, where she must undergo counseling, and the abortion procedure.
The Satanic Temple set up a GoFundMe page to help Mary pay transportation and lodging costs to travel hundreds of miles to St. Louis, where the state’s only abortion provider is located.
Lucien Greaves, head of the Satanic Temple, said his organization had encouraged women to challenge “informed consent” laws that he described as “scientifically dubious” and intended to “create guilt” so women would decide against abortion.
“The waiting period is another facile and insulting attempt at making abortion services less available,” Greaves said. “With a dearth of abortion clinics, some women are made to travel a great distance for services they then have to wait three days to receive, adding the expense of accommodations and time away from work.”
He said Mary would deliver an exemption form for the waiting period when she arrives at Planned Parenthood, and Greaves said the group would pursue legal action if her religious waiver is not respected.

This Texas Teabagger Wants To Force Women To Carry Non-Viable Fetuses To Term

Ah, the Republican party. The party of “personal freedom.” The party that wants to get government out of your wallet, out of your church, and into your body — if you are a woman, that is.In 2013, Texas passed a ban on abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy. The current law permits exceptions to that 20-week cutoff, in cases where continuing the pregnancy would cause serious health problems for the mother, or in cases of severe fetal abnormalities.
Teabagger Republican Matt Schaefer, who represents an east Texas district that includes the city of Tyler, offered an amendment to a bill reauthorizing the state’s Department of Health Services, that would remove the fetal abnormalities exception from the law. Schaefer’s amendment would require a woman to carry her pregnancy to term, even if it was known that the baby would only live for a short time after birth.
Schaefer’s Facebook page contains the following, amazingly callous statement:
Fetal abnormalities should not justify taking the life of unborn babies. Unfortunately, Texas law allows that. Today we tried to end the practice of aborting babies with disabilities.
Republicans support Schaefer’s amendment.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Republican representative Stuart Spitzer, speaking in favor of the amendment, told of a mother who decided to carry her baby to term even after she was told it would not survive. Spitzer said, “She was able to hold her child. I want parents to be able to have that child and have that experience, not destroy it and chop it up.”
Since one woman felt that continuing her pregnancy was the right thing for her; since she made that choice, Spitzer wants to force the same choice on all other women.
The Dallas Morning News says the amendment has even caused concerns among some Republicans.  Representative, J.D. Sheffield, who is a family practice physician, said that forcing women to carry unviable pregnancies to term was unethical. “Why should the heavy hand of government come into that most heart-rending decision?” he said.
A valid question, especially for members of a party that claims it stands for “limited government.”
Schaefer had an answer for Sheffield, and of course that answer was, because “God.” According to RH Reality Check, during debate on the amendment, Schaefer said that suffering is “part of the human condition, since sin entered the world.”
Schaefer tells Breitbart:
I came to Austin to do the right thing, to do things that matter. This is important. If we are not going to get the chance to have our bills heard in committee or get to a hearing, then we will use the procedural mechanisms that are available for us, including amendments. We have to value what God values.
Breitbart features a photo of Schaefer, who is a naval reservist and an Afghanistan veteran, in his uniform, holding an assault rifle. I can’t help but wonder whether he took his extreme “pro-life” views to war with him, and refused to shoot anyone, or whether killing Afghanis was what dog would want him to do. You know, we have to “value what dog values.” And, as every teabagger Republican will tell you, Americans are the most valuable people in the universe.
Schaefer’s amendment passed the Texas House of Representatives by a margin of 82-49. But, the bill it was attached to was pulled by its sponsor and sent back to committee, after Democrats raised procedural objections that threatened to kill the entire piece of legislation.
Democratic representative Jessica Farrar, said that Schaefer wouldn’t even discuss the amendment with her. According to RH Reality Check, she says that this year’s legislature is the most anti-woman in her 21 years as a representative. Matt Schaefer would probably say that dog wants it that way.

Texas' Abbott Orders State Guard to Monitor Possible Military Takeover of Texas

From the "What the FUCK is wrong with Texas" Department: Tleiuic0dpaoew5j9axc
Texas Republican Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15” amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover.

Ted Cruz Goes Full Fevered Militia On Government 'Tyranny'

Ted Cruz Goes Full Fevered Militia On Government 'Tyranny'
Guess he's not doing too well in the polls?
Ted Cruz Is Insane

Texas Teabaggers Rail Against 'dogless' and 'Socialistic' Preschool Funding

The teabagger brain trust deficit is at it again, in Texas. Republican Governor Greg Abbott has broken GOP tradition and has proposed spending more money for existing half-day pre-schools to serve kids who come from poor and military households, and children who are learning English.
"We must improve early education." Abbott said in a February speech to both chambers of the state legislature. However, some of Abbott's fellow Republican, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's advisors say that the socialist pre-K program creates a "dogless" environment for children.
Patrick's Grassroots Advisory Board, which consists of "18 hand-picked Tea party consultants," slammed the House Bill that would enact the funding in a letter on Tuesday. The advisors said that children would be placed in a "godless environment" through the program. The eighteen teabaggers compared the program to something "historically promoted in socialistic [sic] countries."
"We are experimenting at great cost to taxpayers with a program that removes our young children from homes and half-day religious preschools and mothers' day out programs to a dogless environment with only evidence showing absolutely NO LONG-TERM BENEFITS beyond the 1st grade," the letter read, in part. "This interference by the state tramples upon our parental rights. The early removal of children from parents' care is historically promoted in socialistic countries, not free societies which respect parental rights."
Patrick says that he did not read the letter until after it had been distributed, and that he did not authorize its release. "The letter in question was unsolicited and expresses the individual viewpoints of Texas citizens," spokesman Alejandro Garcia said on behalf of the governor.
The teabaggers are not the only group that opposes aspects of the legislation. As Texas currently offers half-day pre-K to low income households, military families, and those learning English, the bill would do nothing to expand pre-K eligibility. Instead, it would provide money to improve the programs - something education groups and Democrats have called a half-measure.
In response to the letter, Abbott spokeswoman Amelia Chasse issued a statement saying the plan is "a wingnut antidote to ineffective pre-K programs" that adds accountability and implements higher standards, rather than the dogless and 'socialistic" indoctrination scheme the teabaggers claim it is.

Kansas could put teachers in prison for assigning books prosecutors don’t like

A Blast from the (recent) Past:
State Senate passes measure allowing prosecution of teachers who distribute "harmful" literature
Kansas could put teachers in prison for assigning books prosecutors don't like
A bill approved by the Kansas Senate on Wednesday would enable prosecutors to bring charges against teachers and school administrators for assigning or distributing materials judged harmful to students, the Kansas City Star reports.
The bill, proposed by conservative state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee), deletes a provision in current state law that exempts schoolteachers and officials from such prosecutions. Senators passed the bill 26 to 14.
After introducing the bill earlier this month, Pilcher-Cook told the Topeka Capital-Journal that she did so in response to a poster displayed at a Shawnee Mission middle school in 2013. The poster posed the question,  “How do people express their sexual feelings?” and listed such examples as oral sex, kissing, intercourse, and talking. Media outlets pounced on the controversy after some parents complained, and though the poster was part of a broader sex education curriculum that emphasized abstinence, the school suspended use of the material.
Pilcher-Cook and other supporters of her measure also say that it’s necessary to prevent the distribution of pornography in schools — a problem that has not hitherto arisen. The Star reports that earlier this week, state Rep. Joseph Scapa (R-Wichita) cited as pornographic a book by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

A brief history of the word ‘thug’ — it doesn’t mean what you think it means

A groups of Thugs strangling a traveller on a highway in India in the early 19th century (Columbia University)
After the funeral of Freddie Gray ignited protests in the streets of Baltimore, several elected officials used a word to describe those people who were setting fire to buildings, stealing from stores and smashing car windows and taillights: “thugs.”