And Furthermore, Mississippi the Worst State

Mississippi has just about always been the worst state, since it became a state, a list of horrors that ranges from its stupid spelling to having just ratified the 13th amendment  in 2013.  I mean what more do you need?  But there’s more!

Blood red Mississippi loves its guns too.  No surprise.  In fact, they love their guns just slightly more than they love their Jesus, as evidenced by the Mississippi Church Protection Act, which allows guns in church.  But because it’s Mississippi, it goes farther than just allowing permitted gun owners to bring them to their place of worship, oh no.

Notably, it also goes beyond church security and would allow people to carry guns in holsters without a state concealed weapons permit, a feature that drew opponents’ criticism. That would expand on last year’s state law allowing people to carry guns in purses or briefcases without a permit.

The measure also asserts that no state official can enforce any federal executive order or administrative rule that violates the constitutions of Mississippi or the nation, challenging the principle that federal law overrides state law.

So you can have no permit or training and go out to the Make ’em Squeal Gun Emporium and buy a pistol and wear it into church.

As per usual, the more sensible law enforcement organizations find fault with this but tish tosh, who listens to law enforcement about protection issues?

The section of the bill to lower requirements for concealed-carry permits drew opposition from the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police. Executive Director Ken Winter said that provision would make it harder to stop people who appear to be engaged in wrongdoing. He also said the bill could raise the “threat level” to officers.

“We just don’t believe that it’s a good idea for people to be carrying concealed weapons and not have participated in any training,” Winter said.

The art of Southern understatement lives. Southerners, not so much.


Soak in the Differences

California, a blue state with blue leaders is raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour over 6 years. It has gotten a grasp on a very bad fiscal situation and made great inroads in bringing California back from the fiscal brink and on its way to once again commanding the position of national leader.

Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina are red states (NC is more purple) with red leaders that have gone the other way.

North Carolina is embroiled in a self-inflicted gay panic with their anti-LGBT laws.  No reason for it, but the GOP there thought it reasonable and even necessary to load a gun and aim it at their own feet. The citizenry and abundant business community is pushing back on this completely brain dead waste of time.

If you type Kansas  into Google the top search result is “Kansas Fiscal Crisis.” Gov. Brownback has legendarily fucked up the economy in that state by carrying out the dreaded Republican economic agenda: cut taxes on the rich, cut spending on the poor and middle class.  Which leads inexorably to raising taxes on the poor, closing schools, letting roads degrade to gravel, etc., real pain for people, with no actual positive result.

But since the adoption of Brownback’s tax package, which included cutting the top income-tax rate by 26 percent and increasing standard deductions for married and single head-of-household filers, Kansas has gone from a $709 million surplus to shortfalls, said Duane Goossen, who served as budget director for both Republican and Democratic Kansas governors.

Oklahoma, under Mary Fallon, (nicknamed Mary Failin’) has also gone the way of Kansas and now has a $1.3 budget shortfall, bless her heart.  They sought to fill in that big unexpected hole of money by proposing to raise the state sales tax to nearly ten percent.  Yes, that’s right, Oklahoma has a higher state sales tax than New York, California, New Jersey, etc.  What we call sales taxes are regressive, so the GOP must have thought: “hey, that’s the opposite of progressive, let’s do that there.”  Yep, sock it to the poor is the unsaid byproduct of Republican rule, that part of tax cuts for the rich in small print at the bottom of the page. Oklahomans will vote on this next November.

The Tax Foundation’s research shows that Oklahoma currently has a 8.78 percent combined state and local sales tax rate, ranking it No. 6 nationally. If Oklahoma voters approved a penny increase, Oklahoma would have 9.78 percent rate, higher than any other state. (Tennessee, which has no individual income tax, is now No. 1 at 9.46 percent.)

At least they get a chance to vote, but it’s likely to pass since schools there (like in Kansas) are going to a 4 day week because of the lack of funds.

“Republican thinking” should officially be considered an oxymoron.



When You Step in Shit You Can’t Walk it Back

The Trumpster fire keeps stepping in it because he’s not an actual politician/public servant and refuses to take advice from such individuals.

The entire bruhaha over his overly aggressive thug of a campaign manager would have been avoided by any other campaign, EVER, by condemning his actions, suspending him and letting it die down. But He, Trump can’t do that. He doubles down where others flee. But he’s so much smarter than all of us so no doubt he knows what he’s doing.

Then he walks into the buzz saw of the abortion issue.  He said what is always left unsaid or disingenuously denied: that if you consider abortion murder and make it illegal then you have to punish the mother.  But almost every other politician, again, EVER, was smart enough to not admit that. Give him credit for honesty in the face of Chris Matthews’s brow beating (he really is the only person who can interview Trump and not get completely run over). Only later did he “walk it back”, but that crap is all over your shoes forever. The ad is already being prepared by the Clinton camp, Emily’s List, NARAL, etc.

Just for the record, no matter what any anti-choicer says to seem human, of course the woman would have to be punished. In Indiana, they just dropped the mask when they made abortion illegal and now a woman who had an illegal abortion was sentenced to a 20 year jail term having been convicted of “feticide” .  (The woman claimed a miscarriage and one can almost hope that it’s a lie because to think that you could have a miscarriage and the system can then convict you for murder is unbearable. Any way you look at it it’s unbearable though.)  In any situation, anywhere, if someone pays someone to commit murder, they too go to jail.  So stop the pretense and admit that under any legislative body that made abortion illegal the woman would be prosecuted as well as the doctor.

Yes, it makes you look heartless to admit it.  Own it!

California’s $15 Min. Wage Experiment

It’s very interesting that Gov. Brown made a deal to increase the minimum wage over 6 years, when a similar but more abrupt plan was going to be on the ballot in November.

This is supposed to be some experiment in raising the minimum wage on a grand scale, but it’s not like we haven’t had states do this right next to states that didn’t and the naysayers who thought the sky would fall have no evidence to back up their nightmare scenarios. The evidence is already quite in, a minimum wage, a living wage, more money is an unqualified good thing for the recipients and the economy.

  1. The present minimum wage fosters a need for the safety net for many people on it. So we taxpayers are subsidizing those companies that refuse to pay more. The lower prices they give us (for stuff made in other countries) is offset by our higher taxes.
  2. More money circulating in the economy is double plus good, and it circulates much faster when it’s in the hands of people who spend nearly 100% of their income on essentials all the time. A lot of people going out shopping and spending another $50 a week is a lot better than a handful of people buying Maseratis or beach houses.

However, the most interesting factor here is that yes, there is a sense of the universal not making a whole lot of sense when a $15 an hour minimum wage is still not a living wage in Los Angeles or San Francisco, but it’s pretty generous in places like Fresno.

I’m having trouble embedding the chart from the article, but look at how the percentage a $15 wage in relation to the median wage varies from place to place. 40% of the median wage in San Jose, but 74% of it in Fresno. That’s a big disparity.

Why can’t the minimum wage be linked to a percentage of the median wage, period?  Math too hard?




4-4 Supreme Court is an Improvement

So far the 4-4 court has worked just fine for the cause of common sense, showing how addition by deletion is a thing.

Today a 4-4 Court ruling kept in place a ruling that allows public sector unions to collect dues

Scalia would have made it 5-4 and allowed the anti-union forces to decimate what’s left of the union movement in the country.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before an 8 member court bites common sense in the ass, but so far it’s a breath of fresh air.


Obama over Cruz by KO


“As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance,” Obama said. “Which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America. The land of the free. The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense. It’s contrary to who we are. And it’s not going to help us defeat ISIL.”

Just stay down Ted, just stay down.

Obama could be an exceptional ex-president. He excels at these kinds of verbal jabs and getting down to the rhetorical nitty gritty, kind of like Bill Clinton became the Secretary of Explaining Stuff at the 2012 Democratic Convention. But without the Clintonian baggage.

Funny how Jimmy Carter has been so recognized for his philanthropic works without apparently hobnobbing with elites at Davos. I’m sure the Clinton Foundation does good things, but they’re better known for the contributions from Saudi princes than actual accomplishments. I have a feeling Obama could end up being the most effective post-presidential communicator of the three ex-Dem. presidents.  Maybe not as saintly as Carter, but he doesn’t strike me as needing that affirmation of the elites that Clinton evidently does.

The Problem With Millenials

Every Trend story about millennials by the NYT. Hilarious.

“For me, the most important thing is expressing myself,” said Jewel Packard, 24, during an interview conducted via reaction GIFs in the communication app Slack. “Sometimes that means tattoos, and sometimes that means podcasts.”

Packard, who co-works at a bespoke underwear startup, and whose hobbies include 7 a.m. dance parties and sexting, said that she values her ability to express herself almost as much as she values her parents’ Netflix account.

An Opportunity, Maybe?

Eschaton reminds us, as if we needed reminding, that the DCCC is bad at the game of electing Democrats to Congress. Gerrymandering explains a nice chunk of the Dem’s deficit, but not all of it. By the way, that counts in the South too. I do not buy that Southerners will not elect a smart Democrat who is good at explaining why they’re the better bet for their jobs/pocketbooks/futures.

If the radically conservative Republican party needs to split apart and reform into one or more responsible sane parties again with a viable center option, so do the Democrats have to be split up, in order to have a real live lefty party. Maybe, just maybe, if the GOP does SCHISM! That will allow the Dems to take stock and do so too. We need a viable Labor/Green/Working Family’s party to push from the left.

I dream of a Congress with members of 3 or 4 parties as well as independents and the subsequent deal making that is the hallmark of a functioning legislature. Lord knows I have bemoaned the compromising nature of lawmaking (the compromise often not actually solving the issue at hand), but our recent experiment with complete stasis and government paralysis has made me nostalgic for crappy deals rather than none at all.

Fingers crossed!


Shameful and Stupid Human Rights Campaign

Looks like a lot of people owe Bernie Sanders some apologies. When he called the Human Rights Campaign “establishment” he got a lot of shit. But they just endorsed endangered Republican Senator Mark Kirk over Democrat Tammy Duckworth in Illinois.

Their own ratings of the guy are not as good as her ratings on gay issues!  And even bigger, his re-election would help to keep the GOP and Mitch McConnell in charge of the Senate.

So what the fuck are these hacks thinking?

That’s just fuckin’ crazy!!

American Politics Explained

There’s no end to the stupid, isn’t just our motto around here, it’s a catch all answer to most every question regarding politics today.

But what I really want to say is that the reason we’re really in limbo in America, having made no real progress as a society (Obamacare not withstanding) for 30 plus years is that if you want to get to the center in this country you have to start way over at the furthest left area in the Overton Window you can get to and then wait to be dragged back rightward, like a riptide.

Just to address where we should be as a society, my main premise for asserting there’s been no progress, I mean besides the epic historic dysfunction in government, stagnating wages, gaping wealth inequality, decrepit and crumbling infrastructure and growing holes in the social safety net, let’s take a realistic look at the kind of social democracy they have in the Nordic countries that have been mentioned in the election but not really discussed in any real way. See What Americans Don’t Get About Nordic Countries in the Atlantic, which is an explanation by a naturalized Finnish-American why Bernie Sanders is not crazy to tout the way of life in those social democracies as the goal we Americans should be looking at. By the way Denmark was once again named happiest country on Earth, again.

When I lived in Finland, as a middle-class citizen I paid income tax at a rate not much higher than what I now pay in New York City. True, Nordic countries have somewhat higher taxes on consumption than America, and overall they collect more tax revenue than the U.S. currently does—partly from the wealthy. But, as an example, here are some of the things I personally got in return for my taxes: nearly a full year of paid parental leave for each child (plus a smaller monthly payment for an additional two years, were I or the father of my child to choose to stay at home with our child longer), affordable high-quality day care for my kids,one of the world’s best public K-12 education systems, free college, free graduate school, nearly free world-class health care delivered through a pretty decent universal network, and a full year of partially paid disability leave. As far as I was concerned, it was a great deal. And it was equally beneficial for others. From a Nordic perspective, nothing Bernie Sanders is proposing is the least bit crazy—pretty much all Nordic countries have had policies like these in place for years.

Where the Nordic countries are is where America could, and should be. But we’re nowhere near there, as the fight over the conservative, market-based Obamacare attests to. Why? Because the left in America was demonized and decimated to the point of irrelevance. Republicans went from a big tent party with a pro-business bent to a radical, reactionary revanchist party seeking to roll back the 20th century. Democrats, the party of the New Deal and the Great Society declared a truce on progress and that the “the era of big government is dead.”

Once real, honest to God socialists and progressives were removed from the national political equation the only voices left were the very loud right and the “sensible” middle arguing not to run headlong rightward so fast you run off the cliff. And that voice was ignored, because it could be.

So since Lyndon Johnson, the last real liberal president, who doomed his presidency with the folly of Vietnam, we had:

Nixon, a traditional managerial conservative republican who gave us rapprochement with China, the EPA and the Clean Water Act. But Watergate and the interminable dragging on of Vietnam rendered him a pariah.

Carter, a center-right Southern Democrat, with a progressive energy policy and a conservative everything else, was the first victim of the grass roots conservative movement. It had been originally energized by the Goldwater debacle, and spent a decade under the radar organizing. They flexed their muscles in the early 70s fighting busing and the ERA, but really got motivated in the ’76 GOP race that created the idea that Ronald Reagan could be president. In ’80 they made a revolution happen by electing…

Reagan, the prime mover backwards, healed every heart broken by the Goldwater debacle with his avuncular defense of a pre-New Deal, pro-business, anti-labor economic agenda and not so subtle nods to states rights.  It was no less than a whitewashing and elevation of the John Birch Society to the WH. Reagan had also absorbed the lesson that no politician ever suffered by advocating a lusty military build up. It was arguably hypocritical for a small government advocate to push for a massive government build up, but Reagan’s faithful didn’t care. His picks for the Supreme Court created a 30 year attack on everything liberal, progressive and modern. He was celebrated for choosing conservative woman Sandra Day O’Connor. Yeah, she was a woman, but a reliable conservative for most of her tenure. He elevated arch conservative Rehnquist to Chief Justice.  He chose Scalia, a real ideologue who with Rehnquist influenced a profound rightward move by the court that lasted 30 years. He also chose Bork, a man that was so far out of the mainstream he was denied a seat. Instead he got Kennedy, a less fire breathing conservative who quietly voted with Scalia most of those 30 years. The lasting damage of the small government propaganda and a radically conservative Supreme Court prove devastating.

G. Bush I, was the luckiest man in America and a political cypher with virtually no record as anything more than a party functionary when he was named Reagan’s Vice President. He was considered a traditional, moderate, Eastern Republican and was essential to balance Reagan’s ticket to make Reagan palatable. Eight years later the lightweight is elevated to president when he beats the woeful Dukakis campaign. Four years of colorless political pablum, basically continuing Reaganism, but without a personality brought us…

Clinton, another  center-right Southern Democrat, but a brilliant politician. Clinton essentially continued the Reagan revolution while convincing the country otherwise. Republicans called him a liberal and hunted him (and his modern, professional, hyphenated named wife) from the moment he won. They hated him and the modest tax raise on the highest tax bracket his Budget Reconciliation Act created. Democrats were convinced Clinton was theirs, but the most resonant policies that came out of the Clinton administration and Gingrich Congress were Reagan wet dreams: deregulation of Wall Street, the end of Glass-Steagall, welfare reform and the Defense of Marriage Act. That Clinton convinced Republicans he was the devil, while giving them the policies they wanted while concurrently enjoying the enthusiastic support of Democrats as he devilishly sold all of their values down the river for 8 years was his true coup. Clinton was the Democrat who stated that “the era of big government is dead” killing FDR all over again.

Which brings us to G. Bush II, the compassionate conservative. More talk of small government while government got bigger and bigger with decidedly more shock and awe in Iraq. While Reagan made sensible people nostalgic for Nixon, the Bush administration inspired posthumous affection for Reagan. Bush/Cheney declared war on logic, math and reality besides Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the attack of the people who believe government is the problem proving their case by getting elected and fulfilling the prophesy. They were, however, very effective again at naming conservative fire breathers like Alito to the Supreme Court and appellate courts, continuing rampant Reaganism and the move rightward. The financial meltdown overseen by Bush was a product of the blithe actions of 4 administrations, and in its aftermath continued the push for small government by painfully ironic cries of austerity. At a time when people need government action to support a fragile economy at the macro scale and individuals need the safety net in the micro scale, it’s hard to provide when the coffers have been bled for 25 years and most of the political class has unlearned the lessons of FDR and will only stand behind a bare minimum of government action.

Which brings us back to Obamacare, which was the first real expansion of the great society since LBJ, albeit mostly via a market-based mechanism with some subsidization and an expansion of medicaid. It was a plan devised by the conservative Heritage Foundation, adopted by a moderate president in order to move the ball forward towards getting more people insured. It took so much political capital and caused such tumult that Republicans have done all in their power to reverse it and are still vowing to do so if it’s in their power.

It was a big deal, but a small, tiny, baby step of progress after 30 years of rushing in the opposite direction. It’s sadly true that the deck has been so stacked against progress that it would take the enactment of Bernie Sanders’ rhetorical political revolution to start moving us less furtively forward. The propaganda of small government is bedrock conventional wisdom now. The political process is stacked by gerrymandering. And legally the conservative courts have created a corporate utopia with Citizen’s United.

The left needs to agitate, motivate and push leftist, humanist ideas, arguing for their viability and effectiveness wherever they can, to counter not only the right, but the smart and smarmy cool kids who have perpetuated the idea of the center while ignoring the simple geometrical idea that there is no center without left of said center.