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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah we're talking to you ...!  
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Thousands of American kids are getting free university educations in Germany

German higher education is essentially free, even for foreign students, and many courses are conducted entirely in English.US student debt now stands at $1.3 trillion. A full semester at a top German university costs $120 -- and your student card gets you unlimited free public transit. Full health insurance is $87/month. Germans welcome foreign students in the hopes that they'll settle in the country and start businesses and provided a skilled workforce. Admission generally requires a 3.0 GPA or better.
At Hunter's university, the Technical University in Munich, 20% of students are non-German. The University president is keen to have every single graduate program offered in English, and only in English, by the year 2020.
"You can feel sad and think it's a pity that we are losing our own mothers' tongue in the technical disciplines, but that's the development in the world," says Wolfgang Herrmann.
He acknowledges that people wanting to study philosophy and other cultural sciences would still have to be taught in German.
"But in the technical disciplines you could say the world is easier."
...In the capital city of Berlin, the most popular destination for international students, the state government says it has no plans to introduce fees anytime soon.
"We will not introduce tuition fees for international students," says Krach, the Secretary of Science. "We don't want the entry to college to be dependent on your social status and we don't want that the exchange between countries is only dependent on the question of finances."

A Warning To Non-Voters: 2016 Could Be Democracy’s Last Election

Voting lines in Florida
If the next presidential election year results go as expected, 2016 will be the last democratic election held in America. And when I say democratic, I don’t mean the Democratic Party, I mean democratic as in democracy, where the power is supposedly in the hands of the people, represented by elected office holders, locally, statewide and nationally. As for the party, Atlantic magazine references a Pew Research poll covering last year, found that adults leaned toward or identified with the Democratic Party by a solid 48-39 margin, yet Republicans kept sweeping elections. Here are the numbers: The Atlantic article continued with some disturbing trends.
If you are still inhaling and exhaling, you’ve undoubtedly discerned that currently, “the people” actually represent less than 1% of an estimated population of 315 million American citizens.
Another article in the June 8 edition of “The Nation” spells out our future in the reporting medium I prefer; facts and figures. Here are the stats and numbers, the politically impotent 99% face come November 8, 2016. Scroll down to “How the Money Primary is Undermining Voting Rights.” Simply put, Republican SuperPac money and additional billionaire swag will purchase every office of consequence on the national level and every office of consequence on the state level in the red states, as well as every issue of consequence at both strata. Your voice disappears.
The Nation piece reminds us of what most progressives already know: Charles and David Koch, all by themselves, are prepared to sink $920 million into the 2016 contests. Two old men with purchased influence against their corporate background of multiple fines, endless pollution and God knows how many corpses poisoned by their assorted enterprises. Even “lesser” financial campaign inputs can leave the head spinning. Sheldon Adelson, an ancient casino mogul, and his wife, Miriam, dropped $100 million on the 2012 presidential race. That total exceeds the combined contributions of every resident of 12 states.
In my home base of South Carolina, money bought every state office, all but one Congressional office, and overwhelming Republican majorities in the State General Assembly. Credit money, and a shortage of Democratic voters making it to the polls. I’ve already written of being rebuked by some Democrats for telling the truth about what is causing their state to become unwelcome to anyone not willing to renounce the entire Obama health care plan and refuse to extend Medicaid coverage for a percentage of WORKING people, many of whom will become DYING people as a result of this deplorable action. It also helps to be a racist, homophobe, climate-denier, hater of poor people in general and a laughably hypocritical right-wing Christian, (Duggars, anyone?).
Indifference to gun deaths and the consequences of pollution is a must and adoring massive incentives for huge multi-nationals keeps you in right-wing good graces. Don’t forget to favor diluting public education with private schools, tax credits and vouchers as part of an education system run by profiteers. That’s South Carolina Republicanism.
Combining hypocrisy and massive incentives, let’s examine the case of automaker Volvo. Like many other multi-nationals, Volvo plays its shell game in front of economic development rubes, bowing to every whim, no matter how much taxpayer money is involved.
After an extensive search of the USA, the alleged Swedish company selected Berkeley County, just down the road from Charleston. It’s ironic that Volvo should land in a state populated by radical politicians who accuse President Obama of being everything from a socialist and Marxist to a communist. And here they up and welcome Volvo, owned by an Auto Company, Zhejiang Geely, located in communist China. Geely bought Volvo from Ford in 2010. Henry Ford, who respected his workers and paid them well, must be turning over in his grave at the corporate machinations of Volvo.
The state is showering Volvo with roughly $123 million in incentives. An ignorant bonding scheme will cost taxpayers $87 million in interest, $20 million more than should have been paid. Even a powerful Republican was critical of the deal. Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson said, “This is probably one of the worst bonding deals we’ve ever done.” He still voted for it. More on the story here:
As I’ve indicated before, I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut about the destructive policies of the right for fear some of these literal killers, through heartless legislation custom-ordered by billionaires, will be offended. Here’s the type I’m not supposed to offend.
As I’ve written here before, in the mid-terms, a local State Republican Representative, J. Derham Cole, Jr. was elected overwhelmingly, 75-25 percent, in a district ravaged by cancer and other pollution-related health effects. There were deaths as an alleged result of decades of polymer plant pollutants in the district. The Representative’s website reaction was to refer visitors to a newspaper article on a massive lawsuit filed against numerous companies in early 2014. There’s been no question in my mind that family members related to pollution victims, still voted for Cole. People with the expertise and influence to mount a public information campaign over these deadly toxins, sadly kept their lips sealed.
So, here’s where we are on the subject of giving our country away to the super wealthy. If Democrats don’t show up at the polls in HUGE numbers in 2016, those of us who have clucked that the sky really IS falling will have failed to accomplish anything. The billionaires will have won, not only through the elective process, but the political crazy glue of judicial appointments of compliant, self-serving, on-the-take bench-buffers, “constitutionally” protecting the most unconstitutional of dictatorships.
Democrats are in danger of total irrelevance. Qualified Democratic lawyers and other professionals won’t run, and locally, those lawyers who claim the Democratic label, make sure that U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination), two political Neanderthals as ever existed, can count on piles of contributions from local, so-called ‘progressive’ fellow attorneys.
People, who could win, won’t run. No high-profile Democratic “names” will challenge Republican incumbents who have sponsored some of the most harmful legislation in history. Nationally, the Democrats who do manage to win powerful office, including, quite possibly, Hillary Clinton, will do so in the embrace of billionaires and Wall Street. It is imperative that Clinton sever those ties. She can win as the Democratic trump card of vetoes and judicial appointments.
Any hopes for Elizabeth/Bernie reform will have been dashed completely by giant opposition money. A grass roots tsunami for a draft Warren movement would be a game-changing development. I watched an inspiring documentary on “ACT UP” on Link TV Wednesday. This was the heroic and noisy movement reacting to the Reagan administration’s indifference to tens of thousands of aids deaths during the great communicators years in the White House. That kind of passion, courage and commitment doesn’t exist in the current era. Without it, no Warren.
If the status quo remains, nothing good can happen for people who care about their families and other people. I’m not even begging you to vote in 2016. I’m counting on most Democrats to spare two, of the roughly 8,765 plus hours in a year, to vote. If you don’t, I’ll be writing about the consequences, while you work 60 hours a week for peanuts and no benefits.
Is this what you want?

Republican Mayor Says Other Republicans Need To Consider How Opposing Obamacare Hurts Rural Areas

"We must demonstrate to lawmakers in D.C. how we the people can cross party lines to work on this vital issue."

Republicans Crushed As 86% Of Enrollees Are Satisfied With Their Obamacare

As Republicans are working the Supreme Court to take Obamacare away from everyone in states that have not set up their own exchange, a new Commonwealth Fund survey has found that Obamacare is actually really liked. That is to say that 86% of people who have purchased private health plans on the Obamacare exchanges or who gained access to Medicaid are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied.
More than 8 out of 10 (86% to be exact) adults with marketplace or Medicaid insurance are satisfied with it.
About half of those with new coverage said they were better off now. I only bring this up because Republicans were snidely asking “Are you better off now?” As if somehow people were going to hate having healthcare.
I’m guessing Republicans don’t like the answer.
This is no small potato when it comes to elections either, as the Commonwealth Fund survey points out, “After the end of the Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period this spring, about 22 million people had enrolled in plans through the health insurance marketplaces or had newly enrolled in Medicaid.”
And later, survey says Obamacare is improving access to healthcare, “Survey evidence suggests ACA coverage is improving access. About 68 percent of adults currently enrolled in a marketplace plan or Medicaid sought care from a doctor or hospital or filled a prescription. Of those, 62 percent said they would not have been able to access or afford this care prior to getting their new insurance.”
Sixty-two percent said they wouldn’t have had access to this care before Obamacare. Republicans are working hard to take that away.
To bring this home, here’s an example of a real person helped by Obamacare: Debra Lea Oren of Palmer, Pennsylvania suffers from osteoarthritis “so severe it put her in a wheelchair, couldn’t walk or stand for years. She was in constant pain.” Obamacare helped her get out of the chair by giving her access to care. She wrote a letter to President Obama to beg him not to let Republicans “bully” him on Obamacare:
There are so many more whose lives have been changed for the better due to getting access to healthcare via Obamacare. The President’s healthcare reform saved and improved lives. There is no way to overstate its impact on real people.
The Commonwealth Fund survey also found that contrary to Republican fear-mongering, there is no “socialist” wait for a doctor and the majority are happy with their doctors:
The latest Commonwealth Fund Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey finds the share of uninsured working-age adults was 13 percent in March-May 2015, compared with 20 percent just before the major coverage expansions went into effect. More than half of adults who currently have coverage either through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) marketplace plans or Medicaid expansion were uninsured prior to gaining coverage. Of those, more than 60 percent lacked coverage for one year or longer. More than six of 10 adults who used their new plans to obtain care reported they could not have afforded or accessed it previously. Majorities of people with ACA coverage who have used their plans express satisfaction with the doctors covered in their networks and are able to find physicians with relative ease. Wait times to get appointments with physicians in marketplace plans and Medicaid are comparable to those reported by other working-age adults.
Of course, things are not so great in red states where they didn’t expand Medicaid and many “adults” are still unaware of the Marketplace, subsidies and Medicaid expansion.
This would not be the case if Republicans hadn’t politicized Obamacare to the extent that they even threatened sports teams who offered to help educate American citizens about their options. We can also thank Fox News for keeping their cult in the dark. (I have run into multiple Fox News watchers who blame Obama for the failure of their Republican-led state to expand Medicaid.) And lastly we can thank the press for running with the drama of Republican fear-mongering instead of the real story that millions were suffering from a lack of access to healthcare due to an inability to get health insurance, even if they could pay for it.
Republicans are trying to take away insurance that 86% of Americans are satisfied with. Republicans said everyone would hate it and it would kill people, but neither of those predictions came true. As of yet, the press is not holding them accountable for their hysteria and flat out lies. It’s not like we needed a survey to know that people would like having access to healthcare. This is pure logic.
Meanwhile, Republicans still do not have an actual alternative to Obamacare. But they are working hard to kill it and thus harm the millions who are satisfied with their insurance.

Poll Reveals Bernie Sanders Shocking The World By Pulling Close To Clinton In New Hampshire

bernie sanders new hampshire
The latest Morning Consult poll of New Hampshire found that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is running closer than the experts expected to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Sanders trails Clinton by just ten points, 42%-32% in the Granite State.
According to Morning Consult, “But in the state that provided Clinton her biggest boost in 2008, the margin is much closer: Among voters who say they will participate in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary, 44 percent choose Clinton, while 32 percent pick Sanders, who hails from neighboring Vermont.”
This is definitely some of the neighboring state effect happening in New Hampshire, but the polling also shows that the support for Sanders is very real. Sanders is polling at 12% in Iowa and 10% in South Carolina. Those numbers on their own aren’t good enough, but if he pulls a New Hampshire surprise, the primaries in South Carolina and beyond could tighten up a bit.
To the surprise of many in the pundit class, Democrats may have a contest in New Hampshire. None of this is surprising to Sanders himself, who said earlier this month that he was going to win New Hampshire, “Let me tell you a secret: We’re going to win New Hampshire.”
The Clintoncentric media will try to turn Sanders’ strength into a story about Hillary Clinton’s weakness, but they will be missing the point. Sen. Sanders is tapping into a very real feeling in this country right now. It isn’t that Hillary Clinton is strong or weak, but that there are millions of people who are still reeling from the Great Recession. Bernie Sanders is speaking to them.
Bernie Sanders could win New Hampshire, and I believe it will take a primary win in order for the media to take his campaign seriously. The message is the reason why Sen. Sanders has a chance to pull off a primary upset. The messenger may not win the nomination, but the message could change America.

Koch Nightmares Come To Life As Bernie Sanders Announces He Has More Than 200,000 Donors

bernie sanders face the nation
The worst fear of the Koch brothers has always been that people will learn about their activities and fight back. On Face The Nation, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced that people are fighting back, and his campaign now has more than 200,000 donors.
DICKERSON: I want to talk about the role of campaign donations in campaigns.
Hillary Clinton in her speech yesterday talked about the unaccountable money that is distorting elections. You’re only taking small donations. She has a super PAC. Is that one of those distinctions voters — is that a big distinction or little distinction between you two?
SANDERS: I think it is, John.
Look, let me be very clear. This disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision is undermining American democracy. And when you have a family like the Koch brothers, second wealthiest family in America, going to be spending more money in this campaign than either the Democratic or Republican parties, I worry about us moving toward oligarchy, where our political system is controlled by the rich and the powerful.
I am raising money from small individual contributions. BernieSanders.com has raised now — some 200,000 people have sent in small contributions. I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t want money from the billionaires. And that’s the way we’re going to run our campaign.
DICKERSON: Senator, one last question. We have just very little time here. If the system is corrupt, does that also mean that the lawmakers who are accepting money are also corrupt?
SANDERS: It means that you have a campaign finance system which is absolutely corrupt.
Look, American democracy does not mean that billionaires should be able to buy elections and buy candidates. We have got to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. And, in my view, John, we have got to move public funding of elections.
The worst nightmare of all oligarchs is popular rebellion. Bernie Sanders is speaking for millions of Americans who are not going to sit back and allow the Kochs and corporations to purchase the federal government through a corrupt campaign finance system.
Some in the Democratic Party establishment aren’t getting why Bernie Sanders is popular. Sen. Sanders is popular because he is addressing issues that matter most to people who are just getting by or having trouble paying their bills.
The candidacy of Bernie Sanders is not rooted in protest. There is an authentic populist anger in this country that should frighten the Koch brothers and other conservative billionaires.
Bernie Sanders is bringing national attention to the role of the Koch brothers and others in our elections. The Sanders movement is growing, and the wingnut billionaires should be very afraid.

Howard Kurtz Upset That Hillary Gave A Democratic Speech And The Media Didn't Attack Her

Howard Kurtz Upset That Hillary Gave A Democratic Speech And The Media Didn't Attack Her
Fox News' hack, Howard Kurtz was frustrated that Hillary Clinton gave such a progressive speech

State, Local Governments Want Big Money Out Of Politics, To The Dismay Of National Republicans

Featured image by Donkey Hotey. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/6691077579
This issue reaches across the lines everywhere except in Congress and the FEC. What will they do as these movements continue to gain traction?

Grover Norquist’s Grip On The Republican Cabal Slips As 47 Kansas Lawmakers Break “No Tax” Pledge

668px-Grover_Norquist_by_Gage_Skidmore47 of the 53 Kansas lawmakers who signed pledges not to raise taxes, abandoned their pledges by voting for a package of regressive tax increases that will place a heavy burden on low and middle-income Kansas residents. The 53 lawmakers had either signed Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform no taxes pledge, a similar pledge offered by the Koch Brother’s Americans for Prosperity or both. By Monday, June 15th, only 6 of the 53 lawmakers had not broken those pledges.
Facing a gaping budget hole created by Sam Brownback’s fiscally irresponsible income tax cuts, the legislature discovered that it could not cut its way to solvency. Consequently, the lawmakers relented and agreed to over 380 million dollars in tax increases, with most of the tax burden falling on poor and middle-class Kansans.
The lawmakers eliminated certain income tax deductions, and they raised the cigarette tax from 79 cents to 1.29 a pack. However, the most controversial increase was boosting the state sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent. The legislature also added a 47 million dollar tax on managed care organizations in Kansas.
Democratic leaders criticized the package because it shifts the tax burden further away from the rich onto the less affluent. The Republican Cabal’s decision to raise taxes illustrates the failure of Brownback’s income tax cuts to stimulate economic growth as promised. However, the Republican “fix” is not likely to improve the state’s economy since most of the tax cuts for the rich remain intact while new taxes are assessed on the poor.
The Republican Cabal’s irresponsible policymaking is now common practice. Republican legislators know that the only honest way to fix the state budget crisis is to reverse Brownback’s stupid failed experiment.
The Republican legislators who support this bill are foisting on the people of Kansas the highest, most regressive sales tax on food in the nation.
The bad news for the people of Kansas is that the Republican tax increases will do nothing to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Kansans. The silver lining, if there is one, is that Sam Brownback’s financial emergency has become so severe that Republican lawmakers have betrayed Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers. The tax bill they supported is nothing short of terrible. Nevertheless, by cutting the puppet strings that held them hostage, the lawmakers have an opportunity to start making better decisions in the future. Foolish anti-tax pledges put Kansas on the path to financial ruin. Now that the pledges are no longer being honored, maybe common sense can slowly find its way back into Kansas politics.

UK’s David Cameron fact-checks Scott Walker

He calls him a liar 
(In a proper British diplomatic way of course)David Cameron
by Steve Benen
At major gatherings of world leaders, President Obama tends to be one of the more popular, sought-after figures on the global stage. This has been common throughout Obama’s presidency – he may be seen as a divisive leader domestically, but internationally, Obama is generally a towering figure.
Republicans are heavily invested in believing the opposite. Indeed, one of the more common GOP criticisms of the president is that Obama simply isn’t respected abroad. Republicans routinely insist that, behind the scenes, international officials voice their deep disappointment with the U.S. president, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
Wisconsin's Scott Walker (R) actually got specific on this point on Friday, saying that British Prime Minister David Cameron told the far-right governor directly that he’s unsatisfied with American leadership. Time reported:
Walker, who has taken several trips overseas in recent months to study up on foreign policy in preparation for an all-but-certain presidential bid, told a roomful of Republican donors Friday that world leaders, including Cameron, are worried about the U.S. stepping back in the world. […]
“I heard that from David Cameron back in February earlier when we were over at 10 Downing,” Walker said. “I heard it from other leaders around the world. They’re looking around realizing this lead from behind mentality just doesn’t work. It’s just not working.”
If true, this would be a break with diplomatic protocol and a legitimately big deal. It’s unpersuasive when Republicans run around telling voters, “Lots of foreign leaders don’t like Obama; we just can’t actually name any.” But here’s Walker saying the British prime minister personally told him that he’s unsatisfied with Obama’s leadership.
The problem, not surprisingly, is that Cameron quickly pushed back, suggesting the Wisconsinite, who’s repeatedly struggled with foreign policy, has no idea what he’s talking about.
“The Prime Minister did not say that and does not think that,” a Cameron spokesperson told Time.
Congratulations, Walkerr, on your latest foreign-policy triumph.
Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Cameron has felt the need to fact-check the wingnuts from across the pond. In January, Fox News’ Steven Emerson told a national television audience that the population of Birmingham, England, is now “totally Muslim,” and has become a city where “non-Muslims just simply don’t go.”
Emerson added, “[P]arts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”
Cameron, asked for a comment, said, “[T]his guy is clearly a complete idiot.”
The prime minister didn’t go nearly as far when correcting Walker.

An Unhinged Lindsey Graham Shows Why America Shouldn’t Elect A Republican President

Lindsey Graham did a service for his country today by showing how out of touch Republicans are with reality as he tried to attack Hillary Clinton while calling for more Americans to die in the Middle East. Graham demonstrated the deluded party wide thinking that should be a reminder to every American why they can’t elect a Republican to be president.
DICKERSON: The secretary of defense, in some blunt remarks, said Iraqi army is not really up to the task.

This has been a repeated story, so why, if you add 10,000 advisers, are you not just sending good after bad here?

GRAHAM: Well, the surge did work.

In 2011, we had security in Iraq, political progress. If you don’t believe me, listen to President Obama in 2012. General Keane is the guy I have been listening to, who was the architect of the surge. If you have 10,000 Americans train and advise and assist at the battalion level, it would help Iraqi army be tougher.
It you had a couple of aviation battalions of American attack helicopters, you would have a distinct advantage over ISIL in Syria, in Iraq. But you have to look at Syria and Iraq as one battle space. We’re not doing the. We have no strategy to deal with the Iraqi safe havens in Syria. You cannot win this war from the air.
Obama will go before Assad will go. So, this whole policy toward degrading and destroying ISIL is miserable failure. And when Secretary Clinton said that this country was well-positioned to deal with the threats from ISIL, Iran, Russia, and China, she is absolutely delusional.
We’re in a bad position against all the threats we face, because Barack Obama has been a weak and indecisive commander in chief. And she would be the third term of a failed presidency. We better do something different.

I will be a commander in chief on day one who takes the fight to ISIL to literally degrade and destroy it. And Assad will go. And it’s going to take more American troops to accomplish that goal. But we’re not well-positioned. If Hillary Clinton thinks we’re well-positioned as a nation, she’s disqualified herself to be commander in chief. We’re in a terrible spot.
On foreign policy, Lindsey Graham is a blood thirsty lunatic. Graham remarks are the perfect snapshot of the Republican refusal to see reality. Graham has convinced himself that the troop surge was working. He has convinced himself that terrorism was about to be defeated as if boots on the ground can win a war of the mind.
Republicans have rewritten the history of the of the shrub years. They believe that they can use shrub’s foreign policy and win the Middle East. This whole line of thinking is what makes the Republican Cabal dangerous. Lindsey Graham wasn’t unhinged as in screaming and yelling. Graham’s whole thought process was that of an unhinged mind.
Instead of learning from their mistakes, the Republican Cabal is eager to repeat them. Until Republicans show some capacity for knowledge and growth, voters would be asking for trouble if the returned the Republicans  to the White House.

The Religio-Wingnuts' Full Page Denunciation of the United States Constitution

If you want a place where you tell everybody what dog wants and then force everybody else to listen to you, you're in the wrong country…

Michigan And North Carolina Republicans Enact Un-Constitutional Theocratic Laws

Today, more so than at any time in the nation's history, evangelical Republicans are on a crusade to base the nation's laws on the christian delusion to discriminate…
There is no doubt among any sane, semi-informed, or even minimally educated American that this country was founded as a secular nation and the Founding Fathers intended that religion, especially christianity, had no place in government. In fact, according to an Episcopalian minister’s sermon in 1831; “Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion.” Still, Republicans and their evangelical base claim that America, as well as the Constitution, is founded on christianity, and that the Founders intended the hateful religion to inform the laws of the land. This absurd assertion is regardless that with unanimous consent of the entire United States Senate, then-President and Founding Father John Adams stated emphatically that, “The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the christian religion.”
Today, more so than at any time in the nation’s history, evangelical Republicans are on a crusade to base the nation’s laws on the christian delusion to discriminate against Americans who do not fall into the mold of a religio-wingnut Republican. Every day it is becoming glaringly apparent that for evangelical Republicans the most important requirement for serving in government is being mendacious as well as an evangelical bigot. It really is inconsequential which Republican one listens to, or to which agenda they are addressing, they take lying profusely as 'christian' public servants nearly as seriously as their devotion to the Koch brothers and consider it as sacrosanct as adhering to their bible’s ten commandments (there's actually over 600, but who's counting); something Michigan Governor Rick Snyder lived up to this week.
Despite claiming that in no way does he support any iteration of an evangelical “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) for his devoted subjects and oppressed peasants alike, megalomaniac tyrant Snyder signed into Michigan law a three-bill religious package that can accurately be described as a sacred evangelical RFRA for taxpayer-funded 'christian' adoption agencies.
Rick Snyder, as much of a 'christian' theocrat as he is a tyrannical Koch acolyte, said that he signed the theocratic edict into law because “The state has made significant progress in finding more forever homes for Michigan kids in recent years and that it wouldn’t be possible without the public-private partnerships that facilitate the adoption process. We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup.” What Snyder omitted is that “we,” meaning Michigan evangelical Republicans and 'christian' fanatics, only want to ensure that children are adopted to loving families so long as “their makeup” does not include same-sex couples and likely jews, muslims, wiccans, hindus, buddhists or heathens.  Like every religio-wingnut Republican RFRA, there is no mention of gays, races, or other religions to give evangelicals the greatest scope possible to discriminate against any group that fails to adhere closely to religious right beliefs.  Obviously, in signing this bill, Snyder reveals that besides being a dirty, filthy lying Republican, he is a typically-bigoted fundamentalist 'christian'.
There is no possible way that either Snyder or evangelical Republican legislators are concerned with “finding more forever homes for Michigan kids” while signing a state-sponsored theocratic prohibition on gay couples, or African Americans, or Muslims adopting Michigan kids. As a typical Republican religious fanatic, Snyder also revealed his naked contempt for the U.S. Constitution because he signed into law a bill permitting government-funded adoption agencies to use religion to discriminate against gay, or “other,” couples that fail to conform to the agency’s religious beliefs. Regardless how anyone assesses yet another Republican theocratic law, imposing religious requirements on a taxpayer-funded agency is establishing religion and although not for long, it is still a gross violation of the “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment.
It is not just the opinion of this column either. In stating the glaringly obvious, the preponderance of the new law’s critics say it amounts to government-sanctioned theocratic discrimination against gay couples and compared it to a previous religious edict in Indiana that had to be softened after a backlash from Americans who comprehend that this is still America and not Taliban-controlled Afghanistan; at least not yet. In fact, North Carolina evangelical Republicans did their best to hasten America’s lurch toward a Taliban-like theocracy with a sneak-attack vote to override a gubernatorial veto of another evangelical edict allowing biblical cover to violate the law, and the U.S. Constitution.
Early in the morning on Thursday last, with a limited number of legislators present because many, including some Republicans opposed to overriding Governor McCrory’s veto, were attending their children’s high-school graduations, a small number of legislators “present” succeeded in overriding an earlier gubernatorial veto of what is known as Senate Bill 2. Senate Bill 2 is now North Carolina law and it means that the state’s evangelical civil magistrates can now refuse to perform any lawful marriage, including same-sex marriages, if they complain that doing their government job violates their religion; or if they simply disapprove of the couple seeking to marry in a civil ceremony.
S.B. 2 started out like every other red state’s evangelical Religious Freedom Restoration Act that gives evangelicals expansive power to impose their religion on the public.  After a substantial public outcry that was not unlike those against other theocratic laws in “family-value” wingnut states, evangelical Republicans devised what they called a “compromise” to stop marriages that evangelicals hate by empowering religious magistrates to disregard their jobs according to their delusional righteous indignation.
As noted by the executive director of Equality North Carolina, Christopher Sgro, the compromise “legislation is in some ways even worse than Indiana’s, because magistrates are taxpayer-funded government employees.” It is a fact that was not lost on many legislators, including some Republicans, who were unable to attend the stealth override vote by design of Republican bigots.
According to assembly woman Mary Price Harrison (D-Greensboro), “They gaveled us right to order, and they didn’t allow any time for debate.” North Carolina’s legislature can an override a veto with three-fifths of “present and voting” members; Thursday morning’s vote was 69-41, or 62.7 percent. SB2 had originally passed the assembly by 67-43, which was only 61 percent and failed to override the governor’s veto.
So evangelical Republicans waited until they knew a substantial number of legislators would not be present to enact a religious law; one allowing evangelical government employees to “recuse” themselves from doing the job North Carolina taxpayers are paying them to do as civil magistrates and perform lawful civil marriages. The law actually says, “Every magistrate has the right to ‘recuse from performing all lawful marriages’ based on sincerely held religious objection.” That means an evangelical magistrate can recuse from the law and refuse to perform same-sex, interracial, and inter-faith marriages even though that is precisely what North Carolina taxpayers are paying them to do.
It is beyond comprehension that in the 21st Century, after 218 years as a secular nation, Republicans are crusading, and having a measure of success in the states, to enact 'christian' theocracy as the law of the land. It is particularly egregious because Republicans are using “religious freedom” as the tool to impose their bastardized version of christianity on the nation by legislative fiat; something the Founding Fathers sought to ensure would never plague the nation they intended to remain forever secular.
Sadly, until the people rise up, especially so-called “good 'christians',” and put a stop to America’s thirty-year lurch toward a Taliban-like oppressive and tyrannical theocracy, Republicans will continue passing laws that force taxpayers to pay evangelical extremists to discriminate against other Americans based solely on one religion. It is something the Founding Fathers railed against but none more than James Madison who said, “What influence, in fact, have christian establishments had on civil society? They have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny.” This week in Michigan and North Carolina the 'christian' establishment of evangelical Republicans took a giant step toward cementing political tyranny with two separate theocratic edicts under the guise of restoring religious freedom that no American would have ever thought was possible in a secular liberal democracy; particularly the nation’s Founders.

Supreme Court Spikes North Carolina’s Forced Ultrasound Law

by Tara Culp-Ressler

North Carolina will not be allowed to enact one of the most radical forced ultrasound laws in the country, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to avoid reviewing the law. The Court’s decision is a victory for reproductive rights proponents, who challenged North Carolina’s law on First Amendment grounds — pointing out that the measure essentially forced doctors to deliver an anti-abortion message on behalf of the state. The justices are allowing to stand a unanimous decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that agreed the law violated doctors’ right to free speech.
The law in question would require abortion patients to listen to a detailed description of their ultrasound before being allowed to continue with their pregnancy termination. The legislation includes very specific language that abortion doctors must relay. For instance, they must tell their patients about the fact that “the father is liable to assist in the support of the child” and “the woman has other alternatives to abortion, including keeping the baby or placing the baby for adoption,” as well as information about her fetus’ “anatomical and physiological characteristics.”
Even if the patient attempted to avoid that information by closing her eyes and covering her ears, North Carolina’s law makes doctors legally obligated to continue speaking.
So-called “informed consent” measures, which require abortion patients to receive biased counseling materials intended to dissuade them from going through with an abortion, have become increasingly popular on the state level. A recent Guttmacher Institute review of these state policies found that they typically include information that’s both politically motivated and medically inaccurate.
But the plaintiffs argued that North Carolina’s law is particularly extreme because of the lengths that doctors must go to frame this information, and the lower courts agreed. According to the panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit who blocked the law last year, “transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes.”
Abortion rights groups are celebrating the Supreme Court’s move to let that decision stand.
“Doctors shouldn’t be forced to humiliate a woman and disregard their best medical judgment in order to provide an abortion,” Jennifer Dalven, the director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “The purpose of this law was crystal clear: to shame a woman who has decided to have an abortion out of getting one.”
Medical experts are also praising Monday’s news. Mark DeFrancesco, the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), said in a statement that forced ultrasound laws “run counter to best medical practices,” adding that North Carolina’s policy specifically “violates the principle of appropriate informed consent.”
However, other abortion-related decisions are still looming. The Supreme Court has not yet indicated whether it will weigh in on a different state law in Mississippi that presents somewhat of a more subtle threat to reproductive rights. If that case is allowed to proceed, the only abortion clinic left standing in Mississippi will be at risk of closure.

Guess Which Freedom-Lovin’ Red State Got The Most Federal Dollars From Obama

There might be more hypocrisy in Texas right now than rain, although surely its residents will claim that the witch doctor in the Oval Office caused the rain. See–there’s truly an amazingly wonderful thing about being a teabagger: you get to hate gov-mint while living off of it, because you’re white and own guns and crap. Actually, it’s more make-your-eyes-bleed-maddening than amazing and it needs to stop (it won’t).In case you’re wondering what freedom-lovin’ red state sucks off the t*t of government like a crying newborn infant the most, it’s Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas–even the hypocrisy. 
Hating the government (or more specifically, the Maoist witch doctor in the oval office) is as Texan as accidentally shooting one’s self. Texas seems to never have been able to get over the fact that it was once a sovereign state, and it doesn’t take too kindly to the gov-mint doing perfectly legal military exercises within its borders. (See Jade Helm.) But while some fat white guy in a gigantic cowboy hat would like you to think Texas wears rugged individualism on its sleeve, it actually wears a big old government assistance tattoo.
Okay, so maybe Texas used to be a bastion of rugged individualism–or at least it used to pay more in federal taxes than it received in federal spending. For example, DallasNews points out that Texas used to receive “90 cent or less for every dollar its residents and businesses sent to Washington.” However, it’s now a big fat taker that gobbles up more federal dollars than Rush Limbaugh gobbles up codeine. In fact, the DallasNews article points out that, in six of the past eight years, including the entire tenure of President Barack Obama, Texans got more out of the federal Treasury than they put in.
The federal government spent about $9,000 per Texan in 2010. The state spent $2,200 — one of the lowest outlays in the country, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.
If not for federal money, there just wouldn’t be much provided at all in some public services, and it’s pretty low to begin with, said Eva De Luna Castro, a budget analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, which advocates for poor and middle-income Texans. We’re at the mercy of whatever happens in D.C. (DallasNews)
So much for ‘don’t tread on me,’ huh? The idea that Texas has benefited the most during the Obama years, and continues to do so in the wake of massive flooding, should hopefully kill the “do as I say, not as I do” teabagger hypocrisy once and for all. But with the 2016 insane clown posse getting bigger and wider (and dumber) by the day, there’s very little chance of that ever happening.

Judge Rules Walmart Violated Minimum Wage Laws, Stiffed Truckers Out Of Millions

A District Court Judge has ruled that Walmart broke California law when the company failed to pay its drivers for all the tasks they do.

Iowa open-carry gun nut gunned down mall worker who filed sexual harassment complaints against him

Alexander Kozak - Facebook
An Iowa mall cop, with a Facebook account loaded with open-carry and right-wing memes and photos of multiple weapons, is under arrest for shooting and killing a fellow mall worker because she filed sexual harassment complaints against him.

Florida Republicans Vote To Keep Their $8 Health Coverage A Week After Telling The Working Poor To Die

Fla. GOP Votes To Keep Their $8 Health Coverage A Week After Telling The Working Poor To DieFlorida, Florida, Florida… it’s so sad that such a beautiful state is marred by so much ugly. Not only do we have the crazy criminals who inevitably.

There’s No Water, Let ‘Em Drink Sand

Selfish, Rich Californians Refuse To Adapt To Drought
There’s No Water, Let ‘Em Drink Sand: Selfish, Rich Californians Refuse To Adapt To Drought
Rich Southern Californians are balking at conserving water. That’s for the peons. This attitude will cost them money, now. How will they like that?