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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 21:45

I am a father, a son, a husband, a brother, an engineer, a software developer, a host of several radio shows, an author, a blogger, a vlogger, a political activist, a business owner, an entrepreneur, a musician, and a black man. That last adjective to a large percentage of the police makes me a suspect. Sadly, I am a member of the #FitTheDescription hashtag/meme. I understand and feel Charles Belk’s pain. I expressed some of it in my piece “I was Trayvon Martin the day I came to America.”

But I digress. A copy of Charles Belk’s story is at the end of this post. In short, Charles Belk is a graduate of Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina, who completed his BS degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California and received an MBA from Indiana University and a Executive Management Certificate from Harvard University School of Business.

On his way to put money in his parking meter he was arrested by several police officers. He was handcuffed tightly. He spent north of 6 hours in the Beverly Hills jail. Why? Because he fit the description of a tall, bald black male who was possibly involved in a bank robbery.

He was not told why he was arrested. He was treated with disrespect as his pleas went ignored and unanswered. You see, to the cops, he was not a person. He was a black man.

Think about it. Would cops arrest the first blue-eyed blond white man that fit a description and was not acting suspiciously? Even if they did, would they be more careful and listen to his pleas to be sure they had the right person? How many stories have been heard of white criminals released just because the cops were not sure? The Beverly Hills cops did not even have the decency to validate his picture with available videos in the six hours he was held.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Egberto Willies)" Tags: "Black men, Charles Belk, Police, Suspect"
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 20:00
A makeshift memorial is pictured near where black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police over the weekend in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Bro
Again.
Among the many profoundly disturbing aspects of the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson has been the reflexive reaction of white conservatives in the media. Whether it was the quickly debunked lie that Brown had damaged Wilson's eye socket or the utterly irrelevant question of Brown's use (like millions of other American teens) of marijuana, the talking points have been rolled out, rolled around, and quickly rolled away to make room for the next talking points. What must not escape notice about the talking points is the apparently desperate need of white conservatives to find such talking points. The real problem isn't the false content of those talking points, it's that desperate need to search for them in the first place.

A young man was shot dead. An unarmed young man was shot dead. An unarmed young man who had no criminal record was shot dead. What sort of vacuum of the soul causes a person reflexively to need to rationalize and excuse something so horribly sad? An unarmed young man who had no criminal record was shot dead. And the bottom line, among white conservatives in the media, seems to be that the shot dead unarmed young man who had no criminal record was black, and his shooter white. That white conservatives in the media reflexively demonize the black victim and defend the white shooter is not a unique event. It is part of a pattern, and in that pattern the pathology is revealed.

The talking points blur. The voices drone into a monotonous buzz. Bobble-heads babble, and very earnest acting alleged experts are plopped in front of cameras no matter how many times they have proved incompetent or dishonest. Yet another unarmed young black man who had no criminal record was shot dead by a white man, and the act must be made to be seen as okay. Those who are upset that yet another unarmed young black man who had no criminal record was shot dead by a white man must be proven wrong. Those who are upset that yet another young unarmed black man who had no criminal record was shot dead by a white man must be shown that this is simply how things work. Those who are upset that yet another young unarmed black man who had no criminal record was shot dead by a white man must come to accept that this is simply how things work so that the next time it happens, as it inevitably will happen, the peace and quiet of white conservative righteous privilege will not be disturbed. This is what must be stopped. The violence is not the white men shooting dead unarmed young black men who had no criminal records, it is the reactions of those who think something about it is wrong.

The question in the title of this essay is quite simple. It is an attempt to clarify the conservative mindset. Are there any conditions under which it is acceptable for people to be upset that a white man shot dead an unarmed young black man who had no criminal record? Are there any conditions under which a white man shooting dead an unarmed young black man who had no criminal record is itself not okay?

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Laurence Lewis)" Tags: "Darren Wilson, Ferguson, Institutional R..."
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 18:14
Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks at a meeting of the Latin Builders Association in Miami, Florida January 27, 2012.    REUTERS/Joe Skipper   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
For the fourth month in a row, Florida's Rick Scott sees his re-election near the top of the Power Rankings.

If we wanted to give an alternate title to the Power Rankings this month ("back to school", from a calendar perspective, made the most sense), we could have selected from two worthy options.

This could have been:

Daily Kos Elections Power Rankings: The Governors (Revenge of the Primary Effect)
Or, perhaps it could have been:
Daily Kos Elections Power Rankings: The Governors (Everyone in the Pool!)
That's because, unlike the Senate Power Rankings, the late-developing primaries did play a small amount of Hell with the gubernatorial list this month, including launching a new #1 race that, one has to believe, won't be in the top spot come November.

Also, for the first time in the history of the Power Rankings, every single race on the gubernatorial roster scored at least single points, meaning they were either polled (which is precisely what happened) or merited a mention in our DKE daily digests.

So, with the primaries garnering attention, and everyone getting on the board, how did the monthly top ten shake out? Head past the jump to find out.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Steve Singiser)" Tags: "2014, AR-Gov, AZ-Gov, CO-Gov, CT-Gov, El..."
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 16:30
Women make less than men in almost every field 4 years after graduation.
GOP solution? ignore this and blame the poor.
"We have to quit sitting back and taking it on the chin. I think we have to play offense on this.”
--Katie Packer Gage, Republican strategist
Two conservative groups did a study about the attitudes of women voters toward the Republican Party. As reported to Politico, the results were thoroughly unsurprising: the study, which combined both focus groups and quantitative surveys, found that in general, women felt that the Republican Party lacked compassion and was "stuck in the past." The same study showed that among women, Democrats have massive advantages in perceptions of who cares about making health care more affordable, who cares about women's interests, and who tolerates the lifestyles of others.

It's not a pretty picture for the Republican Party: while they may skate by in 2014 on the basis of it being a lower-turnout and more Republican-friendly midterm election, they will undoubtedly face significant trouble in 2016, especially with the possibility looming of facing off against a very popular figure in Hillary Clinton who will motivate women to vote—and not just because of her gender, but because of her actual stance on issues important to women. So while it's conceivable that Republicans could make gains this year despite the gender gap, they will almost certainly lose the White House for a third straight time absent some sort of significant change.

And what sort of change do they think they need? According to some Republican strategists, it's to "go on offense" on women's issues. More below the fold.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Dante Atkins)" Tags: "Gender Gap, Republicans"
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 14:44

The 2014 campaign is well under way, and the ads have been flying. Most spots are unmemorable, but there are a few that stick out. Some of them offer a compelling and memorable case to voters, either in a primary or general election. Others ... don't.

What follows is a look at 10 spots from up to this point in the 2014 cycle. Five of them are good, and five of them have a serious flaw. There are plenty of great and terrible ads that didn't get included. These 10 spots were chosen because each offers a lesson in political messaging, and they are worth learning from.

Let's start with the above commercial, a spot that is almost universally mocked.

MI-Sen: Terri Lynn Land (R): This may go down as the most memorable ad of the cycle, and not in a good way. Republican Terri Lynn Land decided to counter Democratic attacks that she favors policies that hurt women by ... drinking coffee. Seriously. Land concludes the ad by declaring that as a woman, she may know a little more about women than her Democratic opponent Gary Peters.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz memorably called it "the worst ad of the political process," and it's not hard to see why. The spot is trying to use humor to point out what it thinks is an absurd idea, that a woman could be part of a war on women. Only it's not at all absurd: Peters and his allies have attacked Land for opposing policies like equal pay for women and abortion rights. By saying nothing to counter the attacks in her spot, Land is actually giving them more credibility.

What we can learn: Don't just assume that voters will immediately take your side when you're being attacked, even if you think the attacks are ridiculous. Also, don't spend two-thirds of an ad doing nothing.

Head below the fold for more.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Jeff Singer)" Tags: "AK-Sen, AR-Gov, Asa Hutchinson, Bruce Br..."
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 13:00

When I saw this video posted here recently, I had to go back and look at it again.


I saw a white man with a gun.

I heard a policeman saying, "Place the weapon down on the ground, please. ... are crossing the street illegally ... I need you to put the gun down before I talk to you. ... You have committed a crime ... you are jaywalking. ... I don't want to shoot you, I'm not here to do that. ... Why are you so angry. ... Why are you cursing at me?"

Watching the whole incident all I could think of were those dead (unarmed) black men and boys who never had the opportunity to be "talked down," called "sir," and were murdered by police.  

Or they were leaning on a toy gun in Walmart. Like John Crawford III.

a photo of John Crawford III gunned down in Walmart
John Crawford lll, gunned down by Beavercreek, Ohio police in Walmart, August 5, 2014.
I wanted to find out what happened to this white man who defied police, made obscene gestures at them and who cursed them out.

The man, Joseph Houseman, is a gun rights advocate. He got his 15 minutes (more like 40 or 50) of fame and walked.  

In the Department of Public Safety's decision not to pursue charges, Webster said later that even though Houseman did not have the rifle in a sling and was  "fidgeting" with it, it was not evident that he was "brandishing" it.
This news got covered as a "gun rights" story.

From my perspective it's a "white rights" story.  

Does anyone honestly believe a black man, or teen, or boy would have walked away from this alive?

Follow me below the fold for more.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Denise Oliver Velez)" Tags: "John Crawford lll, Police, Racism"
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 12:02
I try to stick one story at the start of these things, but sometimes you have to acknowledge two.

Michael Wines looks at police, race and the lack of actual data.

If anything good has come out of this month’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., it is that the death of the black teenager shined a spotlight on the plague of shootings of black men by white police officers. And maybe now, the nation will begin to address the racism behind it. ... few doubt that blacks are more likely than whites to die in police shootings; in most cities, the percentage almost certainly exceeds the African-American share of the population.

Such arguments suggest that the use of deadly force by police officers unfairly targets blacks. All that is needed are the numbers to prove it. ...

Researchers have sought reliable data on shootings by police officers for years, and Congress even ordered the Justice Department to provide it, albeit somewhat vaguely, in 1994. But two decades later, there remains no comprehensive survey of police homicides. The even greater number of police shootings that do not kill, but leave suspects injured, sometimes gravely, is another statistical mystery.

The government's inaction in collecting data on police activity, is exactly equivalent to the NRA's action in blocking the collection of information about gun violence. Both are very uncomfortable about what the numbers would say.

Leonard Pitts on true American exceptionalism

Sometimes you read a sentence and you think to yourself: only here, only us. Here’s one such sentence.

“A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun while he stood to her left side, trying to guide her.”

That’s from a New York Times account of the death of 39-year-old Charles Vacca, who worked for the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Arizona. He died Monday when his preteen student lost control of the Uzi. Apparently, the gun was in “repeat fire” mode, the recoil lifted the muzzle, the little girl couldn’t master it and Vacca was struck in the head. ...

What kind of shooting range allows a prepubescent girl to fire an Uzi? What kind of instructor does not guard against recoil when a child is handling such a powerful weapon? What kind of parents think it’s a good idea to put a submachine gun in their 9-year-old’s hands? And what kind of idiot country does not prohibit such things by law?

It is the last question that should most concern us. There’s not much you can do about individual lack of judgment. Some people will always be idiots. Some companies will always be idiots. But a country and its laws should be an expression of a people’s collective wisdom. So for a country to be idiotic says something sweeping about national character.

Ummm... Amen?

Come in, let's see what else is up...

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Mark Sumner)" Tags: "Abbreviated Pundit Round-up, APR"
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 04:00
It's been nearly two years since America's sweetheart, Mitt Romney, got sk[r]ewed out of the presidency (#ThanksOsama), and Republicans are still working through the stages of grief.

First came the denial, which quickly—too quickly for some—gave way to anger; oh, teh butthurt!

Many now insist that time has proven Romney right, about everything—but you just can't bargain with those people.

I mean, not even Romney himself believes that bullshit.

In fact, just last week he acknowledged that President Obama is much worse than he had expected.

So, you see, Mitt Romney isn't perfect, like a robot.

He's a human being, just like you and me—but with a car elevator.

The sooner Republicans stop acting all depressed (about their 2016 field) and accept this (have a "Come to Jesus Joseph Smith" moment, if you will), the better their chances of preventing Obama's third term, and ensuring the survival of white privilege, will be.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Silly Rabbit)" Tags: "Sunday Talk"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 22:00

What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...

  • White man jaywalks with gun ... guess what happens, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • President Bush declared Iraq a "catastrophic success" 10 years ago, by Jon Perr
  • "Stuck in the past" on women? Play offense, say GOP strategists, by Dante Atkins
  • Quick question for white conservatives: Is it ever NOT okay to shoot dead an unarmed black man, by Laurence Lewis
  • The best and worst campaign ads of 2014 (so far), by Jeff Singer
  • Daily Kos Elections Power Rankings: The Governors (Back to School Edition), by Steve Singiser
  • To fight ISIS the West must do more to integrate potentially alienated Muslims, by Ian Reifowitz
  • Can you still doubt plight of black men with police irrespective of socio-economic circumstances? by Egberto Willies

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Barbara Morrill)" Tags: "Open Thread"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 20:00
Mary Anne Hitt helping with the solar-panel
ribbon-cutting at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church in West Virginia.
Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Wednesday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 19,140 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
Labor of Love: How My Small WV Town Launched a Game-Changing New Model to Go Solar—by Mary Anne Hitt: "This week, my small town in West Virginia cut the ribbon on a solar project that isn't just the largest crowd-funded solar project in the state, but also launches a new model making it possible for any WV community organization to go solar. On a perfect sunny day, 100 elementary school students and dozens of community members joined my husband, Than Hitt, and my daughter Hazel, who cut the ribbon for a 60-panel solar system at the historic Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. It was an unforgettable day that crystalized all our hopes for the future of West Virginia, and exemplified the power of regular people to change the world. The genius of this project was that the church went solar for just $1, thanks to over 100 community members who contributed - but they donated their water heaters, not their dollars. Maryland-based Mosaic Power pays homeowners $100 per year to have smart meters installed on their home water heaters that save energy and, in the aggregate, operate as a safe, efficient mini-power plant. These community members are each donating their $100 per year to the church solar project, collectively raising enough money to pay for the solar system. The financing model was developed by our brilliant friend Dan Conant and his company Solar Holler, and now that we have proof of concept in Shepherdstown, he's taking it statewide. The church is going to generate nearly half of its electricity from the sun, reducing pollution, saving money, and living out the congregation's commitment to caring for the Earth."
green dots
Huge Dam Removed, Fish and Critters Happy, Union Jobs Saved—by 6412093: "They're done demolishing the 108-feet-tall Elwah Dam in northwest Washington State. It's the largest dam ever removed. The formerly huge runs of huge salmon are beginning to recover. The fish are reaching some river areas from the first time in over 100 years. The restored river is creating restored habitat for many critters besides the fish. The River's new estuary will allow crabs and other shoreline sea critters to get established there. Birds of every size and shape will feed on the restored aquatic life. Land mammals will nibble on the revegetated  former reservoir areas. Another thing I like about this dam removal project was the preservation of an endangered species, the Pacific Northwest Unionized Paperworker."
green dots
Solar voltaic energy production nearly doubles in U.S. in 2014—by HoundDog: "Here's some good news that may brighten up your day: US electrical generation from renewables hits 14.3%. Dennis Schroeder of NREL reports that U.S. solar power generation more than doubled in the first half of 2014 according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Data from the EIA’s latest Electric Power Monthly report indicates non-hydro renewables, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, made up a 7.3% share of electrical generation, while conventional hydropower accounted for 7%. ... Solar-generated electricity more than doubled, growing by 115.7%, while wind power increased by 9% compared to last year, accounting for 5% of the nation's electrical generation during the first six months of the year. Biomass also grew by 4%. Geothermal power, however, dipped by 1.5% and conventional hydropower declined by 4.2%. ... 'Not long ago, EIA was forecasting that renewables would not reach 14% of U.S. electrical generation until the year 2040,' noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the Sun Day Campaign. 'And even the current 14.3% figure undoubtedly understates the real contribution from renewables inasmuch as EIA's data does not fully reflect distributed and off-grid generation.'"
green dots
Why We March... Against Extinction—by JrCrone: "We March for Elephants. We March for Rhinos. We March for Lions. People have asked us—“Why do you march? What good is marching? You should be making direct contact with people in power, with people who can ‘make a difference.’ Every day 96 elephants are killed. That’s one every 15 minutes. A march does not stop this. You need to raise money and lobby politicians. And you should be writing: writing legislation.' Other people have told us, 'Why do you march? What good is marching? You can do nothing. Those with the power to make a difference, in China, overseeing the 37 ivory carving factories and 145 licensed shops, will do nothing because you march. Elephants will continue to die. No elephant will be saved because of the protest actions in the United States.' Regarding rhino horn, they say 'you cannot lessen its fashion or influence those in Vietnam who consume it.' The people who question us say that marches seem “nice” and make those who march 'feel good,' but are ultimately useless—a futile gesture good for nothing other than the egos of those who take part, far away from the halls of power, far away from the carving factories, far away from the scenes of injustice, death, and wholesale destruction of the elephant, rhinoceros, and lion populations that have been under relentless attack by poaching, wildlife trade, corruption, and consumption. They say we are too far away and our activities are merely a waste of time and resources. They are wrong to say this."

You can find more rescued green diaries below the sustainable squiggle.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Meteor Blades)" Tags: "spotlight on green news & views"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 17:55
FedEx truck
FedEx's practice of insisting its drivers are not actually its employees took a blow this week, when an appeals court panel said that groups of former drivers involved in a class action suit had been employees and can proceed with a wage-theft lawsuit against the company. Classifying drivers as independent contractors means FedEx isn't responsible for contributing to Social Security or Medicare and doesn't have to pay them overtime, among other things. So FedEx has worked hard to keep this scam going, insisting in its contracts that drivers, not the company, decide how and when to get their jobs done. The court disagreed:
"The drivers must wear FedEx uniforms, drive FedEx-approved vehicles, and groom themselves according to FedEx's appearance standards," Judge William Fletcher said in the 3-0 ruling. "FedEx tells its drivers what packages to deliver, on what days, and at what times."

Although the company does not dictate working hours, Fletcher said, it arranges workloads to make sure they work between 9 1/2 and 11 hours a day. He also noted that FedEx requires drivers to provide their own vans and specifies their dimensions, shelving and paint color.

The decision is a win for these drivers, but FedEx is appealing. What's more, even if the drivers win that appeal and ultimately win their wage-theft suit, FedEx is determined to keep finding ways to exploit its drivers going forward:
FedEx Ground, in its prepared statement, said the particular contracting arrangement for these drivers “is no longer in use. Since 2011, FedEx Ground has only contracted with incorporated businesses, which treat their drivers as their employees.” In other words, the company has shifted from an independent contractor model to a subcontractor model.

“This is FedEx’s m.o.,” said Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project. Whenever a given arrangement with drivers comes under legal attack, Ruckelshaus explained, FedEx “makes minor adjustments … and says, ‘We’re fine now.’” Drivers must then decide whether to re-litigate the matter.

Forcing companies to take responsibility for the people who work for them is one of the key legal battles for workplace rights, as large companies routinely pass the buck for their terrible wages and working conditions (and labor law violations) to franchisees, contractors, and through bogus independent contractor arrangements. Workers have gotten some wins lately, with the National Labor Relations Board saying that McDonald's is a joint employer with its franchisees and is therefore responsible for working conditions in its restaurants. A California judge also ruled recently that Walmart would have to stand trial along with a contractor for wage theft in Walmart warehouses operated by the contractor; that case ended up being settled out of court for $21 million. But these arrangements are still common and, of course, we can't exactly trust this Supreme Court to crack down on them, however abusive they are.
Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Laura Clawson)" Tags: "Education, FedEx, independent contractor..."
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 17:00

This week's source material:

Breitbart story screencap: 6 FUNERALS OBAMA CARED LESS ABOUT THAN MICHAEL BROWN
The White House has also sent three aides to the funeral: Broderick Johnson of My Brother’s Keeper Task Force; Marlon Marshall, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Heather Foster, adviser for the Office of Public Engagement.

Which begs the question: why would the Obama administration send not one but three attendees to the funeral of a strong-arm robbery suspect who allegedly punched a police officer in the face – but ignore the funerals of other, more worthy characters?

If you are dying to know who the six are, they are Margaret Thatcher, Chris Kyle, Nicholas Oresko, Lech Kaczinski, Aunt Zeituni and James Foley, whose funeral, by the way, isn't until October 18.

In case you are wondering, Kyle was a SEAL sniper who made unsubstantiated claims about being the best sniper ever, ironically murdered by a friend he had taken to a shooting range. Fucking Biden should've been at that one. Oresko was WWII Medal of Honor winner. There have been over a thousand Medal of Honor recipients since WWII, so the White House better be at all of their funerals. Kaczynski was the Polish president. He was slated to attend but a major Icelandic volcanic eruption grounded all air traffic in Europe. Obama clearly caused the eruption. DAMN YOU BARRY SOTERO! Aunt Zeituni was the sister of Obama's father, and they had no relationship. But hey, Breitbart is now apparently a champion of the Obama clan. And it's really screwed up that no one from the White House has attended Foley's funeral that isn't happening for another six weeks!

So with that bit of source craziness out of the way, let's look at their community's craziness, all below the fold.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (kos)" Tags: "Civil Rights, Ferguson, Michael Brown, M..."
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 16:00
Rose Sanderson, on trumpet cornet, demonstrates with other suffragists in February 1913.
The triangular pennants read "Votes for Women."
This week in the war on voting is a joint project of Joan McCarter and Meteor Blades

Chris Christie blasts same-day registration and voting in Illinois: The New Jersey governor, who is chairman of Republican Governors Association chairman, visited the campaign headquarters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and critiqued Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

“He will try every trick in the book,” Christie said of Quinn. “I see the stuff that’s going on. Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking,” he added sarcastically. “I’m sure it was all based upon public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.”
Houstonians without voter ID are mostly black and poor:
Texas' Voter ID law -- which requires that voters show election officials an approved and up-to-date photo ID in order to cast a ballot -- has long been a point of contention. Since the Lege passed a voter ID requirement in 2011, many of its opponents have questioned whether the law unfairly singles out minorities. [...]

[Geography professor Gerald Webster has produced some maps to see if this is true.] The maps that Dr. Webster compiled are broken down by demographics in Houston (and in every other Texas metro area), from minority neighborhoods to areas with little access to transportation. If you compare those maps to the one showing where residents are less likely to have photo ID, the pattern is pretty astounding. [...]

More on the war on voting below the orange gerrymander.
Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Meteor Blades)" Tags: "This week in the war on voting"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 15:59
Protesters rally in the rotunda of the State Capitol as the state Senate meets to consider legislation restricting abortion rights in Austin, Texas July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Stone
Women's healthcare providers in Texas have at least a temporary reprieve from the worst provision of HB 2, the law intended to shutter most of the abortion clinics in Texas. The law that launched Wendy Davis's bid for governor. A federal judge in Austin has struck down the provision of the law that requires that every abortion clinic meet the state's standards for the building, equipment and staffing for hospital-style surgery centers.
The rule "is unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a pre-viability abortion," he wrote. […]

Over all, he concluded, with the new closings that would have been forced by the surgery-center rule, many more women would be hours from a clinic. "Even if the remaining clinics could meet the demand," he wrote, the impact, between long travel times and other practical impediments many women face, would be as drastic as "a complete ban on abortion."

Judge Yeakel wrote, "The great weight of the evidence demonstrates that, before the act's passage, abortion in Texas was extremely safe, with particularly low rates of serious complications and virtually no deaths."

In his ruling, Yeakel also reinstated a block on another provision of the law that requires providers have admitting privileges in a hospital no more than 30 miles from the facility for two clinics, in El Paso and McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley. Yeakel wrote that "Even if the remaining clinics could meet the demand," the burden of travel time to those clinics as well as the practical difficulties having to travel for healthcare amounted to the equivalent of an unconstitutional "complete ban on abortion."

Davis's opponent, attorney general Greg Abbott, will appeal the decision at the first opportunity with the Fifth Circuit, the court that has reversed previous decisions overturning the Texas law. All of the clinics that were slated to close as of Monday won't have to, so far. Yeakel's ruling could be stayed by the Fifth Circuit, pending a hearing.

Please help the women of Texas by helping Wendy Davis take the governor's seat.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Joan McCarter)" Tags: "2014, Abortion, Texas, TX-Gov, War on Wo..."
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 15:28

image

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (ericlewis0)" Tags: "Animal Nuz, Cartoons, Recommended"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 15:00
Just as states with progressive lawmakers and activists have themselves initiated innovative programs over a wide range of issues, state-based progressive blogs have helped provide us with a point of view, inside information and often an edgy voice that we just don't get from the traditional media. This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes—Video -- Barbara Comstock: The Newest Voice in The War on Women:

Blue Virginia
By the way, on a related note, since the Barbara Comstock folks have been trying to stir up controversy, let's just be clear that Barbara Comstock has held numerous "real jobs" in her life. And yes, that includes being a mother - a tough job, and certainly a real one - and a job that John Foust would never denigrate in any way (yes, Comstock and her supporters are making s*** up again, psychologically projecting, cynically  working to gin up "outrage" to fire up their supporters, etc.). The problem is, other than being a mother, she's overwhelmingly had jobs that while "real," were nothing to be proud of. For instance, how about:

• Lobbyist for the Koch Brothers on "crime and environmental issues" (one can just imagine)
• Political attack dog against the Clintons.
• House Gov. Reform Committee - Investigated the Clintons, played key role in heavily editing Webb Hubbell prison tapes
• Political attack dog against Al Gore.
• Political attack dog defending the Bush administration profiling Muslims and detaining US citizens.
• Lobbied for private prison builder Geo Group and the Entertainment Software Association, which opposes regulation of violent video games.
• Represented Chiquita Brands on asbestos liability and later voted to limit asbestos company liability.
• Political attack dog defending Tom Delay.
• Political attack dog defending pathological liar Willard "Mitt" Romney.
• Lobbyist for Blackwater.
• Scooter Libby defender
• Bush Administration DOJ—ran an "intensely political operation" under John Ashcroft
• Workforce Fairness Institute—employed Swift Boat consultants, refused to disclose companies they worked for, gave $150k to Newt Gingrich's PAC
• Susan B. Anthony List—Comstock helped raise money for this extreme anti-women's-choice group
• Virginia Delegate; voted for trans-vaginal ultrasounds and many other bad things (e.g., to cut $1.5 million from early childhood foundation funding, against the 2013 transportation compromise that's so important to the 10th CD, to allow guns in bars...).

Is this the type of person 10th CD voters want representing them in Congress, especially when she's all but promised to continue doing what she's done for decades now? We can only hope not.

At Uppity Wisconsin, Man MKE writes—WISCONSIN WATER TORTURE: The drip-drip-drip of Walker corruption hurts him, but could turn off voting:
Uppity Wisconsin state blog
Another day, another round of political water torture for Scott Walker and his questionable campaign activities.

Over the weekend it was the Wisconsin State Journal reporting on how Walker's Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) held essentially secret talks to provide $6 million in tax credits to Ashley Furniture, a large Wisconsin-based company that, in return, promised not to cut about half its state work force. Such a deal.
Today it was the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporting that in a newly released court filing, prosecutors allege Walker's campaign "crossed a bright legal line" when it coordinated with a pair of independent conservative groups, both of which advertised in support of specific candidates in the gubernatorial and state Senate recall elections of 2011 and 2012.

Drip, drip, drip. It's no wonder Team Walker has sent in its political plumbers to stem the leak of embarrassing information, or at least try to muddy up the tainted political waters with murky rhetoric.

More excerpts from progressive state blogs are below the orange gerrymander.
Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Meteor Blades)" Tags: "This week at progressive state blogs"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 14:00

To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody. The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility. The right to a fair living wage.
Leading up to Labor Day, President Obama once again used his weekly address to focus on the minimum wage—specifically, the need for a raise, which congressional Republicans are blocking. Not all workers need to wait for Congress, though:
Thirteen states and D.C. have done their part by raising their minimum wages. Four more states have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this November. And the states where the minimum wage has gone up this year have experienced higher job growth than the states that haven’t.

Business leaders at companies like The Gap are doing their part. They’re raising base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they know it’s good for business.

Mayors across the country are doing their part. Mayor Emanuel in Chicago and Mayor Garcetti in L.A. are working to lift their cities’ wages over time to at least thirteen dollars an hour.

Barely mentioned in this Labor Day-focused address? Unions. Business rates five mentions, unions only one.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Laura Clawson)" Tags: "Weekly Address"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 13:00
A mysterious sailing stone in Death Valley. How these boulders weighing up almost a thousand pounds move across the valley floor has confounded scientists and skeptics for decades.
People have wondered about this odd mystery for years. Thanks to some patient scientists, it is finally documented and solved:
Sailing stones in Death Valley are seen showing signs of traveling along the ground. Tracks in the dirt clearly show the rocks made a journey across the surface, but no one knew how this could happen, until now.

The Death Valley stones, made from black dolomite, have never been seen moving. Long trails have been seen for a century, however, causing geologists and armchair scientists to ask how the rocks could move along the flat Racetrack Playa.

  • Don't look creationists: That's a walking fish!
  • You'd think Hawaii would weather climate change reasonably well. But goodbye Waikiki.
  • You might not want to read this if you're a little squeamish:
     Thanks to science (no, really, thanks), we now know that we all probably have tiny mites living on our faces. ... Co-author of the report Megan Thoemmes told NPR: ‘They’re actually pretty cute ...
    No, they're not cute.
  • The Ice Bucket challenge has turned into one of the most successful viral fundraising stories of the millennium. This week a new article appeared, widely shared on social media, alleging contributions are wasted on high exec salaries instead of treatment or scientific research. However, SNOPES has weighed in, stating this ugly allegation is flatly untrue:
    The claim made in the email above, that 73 percent of donations fund executive salaries and overhead, is demonstrably false. In their 2014 disclosures, The ALS Association reports a breakdown of their expenditures — only seven percent of their total fund intake goes to administration and salaries.
Author: "rss@dailykos.com (DarkSyde)" Tags: "Science"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 11:25

NY Times:

But it is unlikely that a merciless drubbing from the news media and other critics is going to sway Mr. Obama. His decision to seek the approval of Congress for a strike on Syria, after saying that it had crossed his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons, also drew withering criticism — setting in place a narrative of feckless leadership that has dogged him for the last year.

Less noticed is that this decision led to one of his few foreign policy successes: Mr. Assad’s voluntary surrender of his chemical weapons stockpile — the result of a diplomatic proposal from Russia that Mr. Obama grabbed as an alternative to firing Tomahawk missiles when it became clear that Congress would never give its blessing for strikes.

Although Mr. Obama has gotten virtually no credit for that achievement, the lesson of the episode is hardly lost on him.

But it's completely lost on the media, who take Republican talking points as gospel.

CBS:

The U.S. decided weeks ago to use air strikes to fight ISIS in Iraq. When the president said there's no strategy yet to do the same in Syria, he was acknowledging that the political circumstances in Syria are very different.

"I think he was just using shorthand to basically say it's a little more complicated in Syria if we want to do it smartly and within the bounds of a legal framework," Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress told CBS News. "It's spot on to say we're going to look before we leap, and that is in and of itself a strategy -- as opposed to the 'shock and awe' in Iraq."

As he articulated in a speech at West Point earlier this year, Mr. Obama's counter-terrorism strategy focuses on building more effective partnerships with countries where terrorist networks want to seek a foothold.

"If we rely only on America's military might, there's no question... they could have a substantial impact on the battlefield," Earnest said Friday. "But if we want to make sure [ISIS] doesn't come back, we need to make sure we have effective partners."

Peter Beinart:
When it comes to the Middle East, in other words, Obama is neither a dove nor a hawk. He’s a fierce minimalist. George W. Bush defined the War on Terror so broadly that in anti-terrorism’s name he spent vast quantities of blood and treasure fighting people who had no capacity or desire to attack the United States. Hillary Clinton and John McCain may not use the “War on Terror” framework anymore, but they’re still more willing to sell arms, dispatch troops, and drop bombs to achieve goals that aren’t directly connected to preventing another 9/11. By contrast, Obama’s strategy—whether you like it or not—is more clearly defined. Hundreds of thousands can die in Syria; the Taliban can menace and destabilize Afghanistan; Iran can move closer to getting a bomb. No matter. With rare exceptions, Obama only unsheathes his sword against people he thinks might kill American civilians.

Understanding Obama’s fierce minimalism helps explain the evolution of his policy toward Syria and Iraq. For years, hawks pushed him to bomb Assad and arm Syria’s rebels. They also urged him to keep more U.S. troops in Iraq to stabilize the country and maintain American leverage there. Obama refused because these efforts—which would have cost money and incurred risks—weren’t directly aimed at fighting terrorism. But now that ISIS has developed a safe haven in Iraq and Syria, amassed lots of weapons and money, killed an American journalist, recruited Westerners, and threatened terrorism against the United States, Obama’s gone from dove to hawk.

More politics and policy below the fold.
Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Greg Dworkin)" Tags: "Abbreviated Pundit Round-up, APR"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 03:00
Elise Gould at the Economic Policy Institute writes Why America’s Workers Need Faster Wage Growth:

The last year has been a poor one for American workers’ wages. Comparing the first half of 2014 with the first half of 2013, real (inflation-adjusted) hourly wages fell for workers in nearly every decile—even for those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

Of course, this is not a new story. Comparing the first half of 2014 with the first half of 2007 (the last period of reasonable labor market health before the Great Recession), hourly wages for the vast majority of American workers have been flat or falling. And even since 1979, the vast majority of American workers have seen their hourly wages stagnate or decline—even though decades of consistent gains in economy-wide productivity have provided ample room for wage growth.

The poor performance of American workers’ wages in recent decades—particularly their failure to grow at anywhere near the pace of overall productivity—is the country’s central economic challenge. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a more important economic development in recent decades. It is at the root of the large rise in overall income inequality that has attracted so much attention in recent years. A range of other economic challenges—reducing poverty, increasing mobility, and spurring a more complete recovery from the Great Recession—also rely largely on boosting hourly wage growth for the vast majority. […]

The vast majority of Americans have experienced disappointing living standards growth in the last generation—largely due to rising inequality.

• Between 1979 and 2007, more than 90 percent of American households saw their incomes grow more slowly than average income growth (which was pulled up by extraordinarily fast growth at the top).

• By 2007, the growing wedge between economy-wide average income growth and income growth of the broad middle class (households between the 20th and 80th percentiles) reduced middle-class incomes by nearly $18,000 annually. In other words, if inequality had not risen between 1979 and 2007, middle-class incomes would have been nearly $18,000 higher in 2007. […]

The large increase in income inequality that has blocked living standards growth for the vast majority has been driven by the failure of hourly wages for the vast majority to rise in line with overall productivity after 1979.

• Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers, who comprise over 80 percent of the private-sector workforce, grew just 8.0 percent. Productivity thus grew eight times faster than typical worker compensation.

• Between 1979 and 2013, median real hourly wages rose just 6.1 percent (or 0.2 percent annually), compared with a decline of 5.3 percent (or -0.2 percent annually) for the 10th percentile worker (i.e., the worker who earns more than only 10 percent of workers). Over the same period, the 95th percentile worker saw growth of 40.6 percent, for an annual gain of 1.0 percent. The tight labor market of the late 1990s was the only period when hourly wages increased across the wage distribution, with the strongest growth occurring at the bottom.

• From the first half of 2013 to the first half of 2014, real hourly wages fell for all deciles, except for a miniscule two-cent increase at the 10th percentile. Underlying this exception to the general trend at the 10th percentile is a set of state-level minimum-wage increases in the first half of 2014 in states where 40 percent of U.S. workers reside. […]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010Terminators:

In the first months of 1811, a secret army drilled on the chilly moors outside Nottingham, England. Under the shadow of darkness, these men gathered to learn guerrilla tactics —how to move as a team, how to avoid detection, how to break through locks and barriers, and how to escape when their task was complete. Only this army was not made up of soldiers.  They were stocking makers.

By the spring of the next year, nearly 200 of the mechanical "stocking frames" at local factories had been destroyed. In this following months, the destruction would spread to cloth works in Yorkshire and Leicestershire, to Lancashire cotton mills, and eventually into the factories of London. By then the army was not so secret. Handbills had arrived for months warning factory owners of their fate. Many of these were signed by the supposed leader of this rebellion—General Ned Ludd. It from from this name that the movement gained it's popular moniker: the Luddites.

The Luddite movement would fade only after rising to widespread violence that took the lives of workers, hired guards, and a few mill owners. This was followed by a swift reaction from government to imprison or hang many of those suspected of being Luddites. The breaking of machinery was itself made a capital crime, and by 1812 several men had been executed for the offense of damaging automatic looms. 

When we hear the term "Luddite" today, our reaction is to think of a brutish lout frightened by any sign of progress. A Luddite is someone who can't understand their computer, hates the Internet, and thinks that there hasn't been a worthwhile invention since the well-chipped stone. But that doesn't really describe the men (and women) who were involved in that original movement. They were not anti-technology. They were reacting to a change that was seeing many of them either lose jobs or face a sharp decrease in pay.


Tweet of the Day
Wait: People risked jail to set up bribes for Ron Paul presidential caucus votes? WHY? Not exactly talking "The Italian Job" there
@AdamWeinstein



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, we check in with the end of the Market Basket management dispute. Or was it a labor dispute? Or both? Louisiana's libertarian water, now with brain-eating amoeba! Gideon opens the door to an inquiry into the many & varied issues surrounding police militarization.
HuffPo reports that video gaming collectives are SWAT-ing their rivals' offices! Also: what's a gaming collective and why do they have offices? Courts make it increasingly difficult to hold cops accountable. Another video surfaces, this time of cops arresting an unarmed black man who answers demands for ID in exactly the same way open carry protesters do.


High Impact Posts. Top Comments
Author: "rss@dailykos.com (Meteor Blades)" Tags: "Open Thread for Night Owls"
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