Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Scott Walker is the candidate for you...if you pretty much hate everything

Infantilize women? Loathe working people? Fear youth? Despise teachers? Oppose educating future generations? Favor theocracy to the constitution? Prefer indoctrination to education? Think Wisconsin would be better off if only we had fewer educated people? Fetishize fetuses, but don't give a damn about women's lives? Love people who lie to your face?

Brother, have I got a candidate for you! Name's Walker. Scott Walker. And he's the man for the mission. Why, already in his first term he's tackled the hard stuff. Just take a look!

He's attacked education. Boy, has he ever. He's enacted the largest cuts to education in the state's history. He's cut higher education so much that he's got 40,000 + students on waiting lists for aid. He's funneled hundreds of millions from public schools to private schools -- ostensibly because these schools do better than public schools. Even though the opposite is actually true -- Wisconsin's worst public schools outperformed the private schools that were supposed to save the day. Oh, and that money that Walker has been taking away from public education? Well over one hundred million of it has been to failed private schools. And while he ultimately failed, we think he still deserves anti-education points for trying to destroy the UW system. Bonus points: he's made a point to stir up animosity against teachers and public workers. If you hate education, Scott Walker is the man for you.

He's attacked working people. Again, and again, and again. Not just by cutting their educational opportunities -- impacting current and future generations in profound fashion. He's gone after labor unions. Early in his career, he sponsored right to work legislation -- legislation that completely busts unions and devastates workers' pay and safety. While he's slippery about committing to "right to work" now, he declared his union busting only a "first step". But it's not just busting unions and cutting educational opportunities. Why, this fine gentleman has declared that a minimum wage serves no purpose at all, and staunchly refuses to raise it to a living wage (despite it being, you know, Wisconsin law...because why should a governor have to put up with THAT noise, am I right?). Yes sir, this brave man thinks that you and your children should have limited educational opportunities, should be stripped of the workplace protections unions secure, and, as a bonus, live in abject poverty. Because, really, what "purpose" is there to any of that? The rights of working people are second to the profit of business.

He's steadfastly refused to allow poor, working Wisconsinites access to healthcare. This is important to the point above, but deserves a mention all on its own. Yes sir, Scott Walker has adamantly refused to expand healthcare access to the working poor. It's not that any sane person can pretend that a person working full-time on minimum wage has enough spare cash for health insurance; it's more that providing health care for the poor really serves no purpose. Serfs are expendable. And, yeah, his general contempt for working Wisconsinites is literally endangering lives and costing the rest of us as well, but the wealthy are doing fine, so it's all good. If you can't afford healthcare, your life doesn't matter.

He's attacked women. In the war on women, Scott Walker is General, not Governor. He's repealed equal pay protections (and then had the chutzpah to release an ad bragging that he didn't make pay discrimination legal...leaving out the whole "we removed penalties for violating it" bit...presumably on the thought that women are too silly to even notice. After all, we're probably better suited to dating sites than that thinking stuff, am I right?!). Bonus points? Champion of the effort, Walker ally and missing village idiot Glenn Grothman, championed the move by explaining how any disparity is really our faults anyway, because money is just "more important for men" than women. Walker has also withdrawn funding in order to shutter women's health clinics -- resulting in closure of many that did not even provide abortions -- because the idea of a woman exercising her right to choose is really terrifying to Walker. Yes, it makes no sense to shutter clinics that don't provide abortions (that, in fact, prevent them by providing family planning services) because you hate abortion; but, really, screw logic...as long as it hurts women, it's all good. Walker also opposes abortion in every case, and advocates a 100% "pro-life" agenda -- that is, banning abortion even in cases of rape, incest and when the life and health of the woman is at stake. Granted, a non-viable fetus can't survive if its mother is dead, and a viable fetus can be birthed early rather than aborted -- so, in effect, opposing abortion when a woman's life is on the line literally just means demanding that she dies too. But, come on, we're not seriously still pretending this is about loving fetuses rather than punishing women, are we? Also, Scott Walker was one of the ultrasound governors, singing into law a mandated ultrasound. And, despite conservative protestations to the contrary, this means mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds for women who are early in their pregnancies (for whom the less invasive ultrasound will not work). Also a Walker achievement? Admitting privileges, targeted at abortion providers -- unnecessary, arbitrary and designed to erect hurdles to practicing medicine (only, of course) for abortion providers. Bonus points? While patronizingly pretending to sympathize with women and respect abortion rights in public, Walker makes no pretense about his true views in private. Because, you know, we're too stupid to catch on to that. And beyond these policies directly targeting women, Walker's indirect impact on women is devastating too. So, in short, if you hate your mom, your sisters, your daughters, your girlfriend or wife, and women in general, Scott Walker is your man.

He has attacked gay rights. And wasted lots of money in the process of trying to curtail the right of gay Wisconsinites to get married. And, rather than being shamed by his defeat on this front, rather than reevaluating his theocratic bigotry, Walker cites it as a reason for endorsement. He might have quieted down publicly about his bigotry, but make no mistake: he is as much a bigot as he ever was. Walker wasted state time and money attacking gay people, and is proud of it.

He's crafted his policies around the interests of wealthy supporters without regard for their impact on Wisconsinites. Brother, Scott is a man of principle. And his defining principle is "the love of money". He listens to the millionaires and the billionaires, to big business and moneyed interests. He does what they want, and they pay him accordingly. Remember, it was to a billionaire supporter that he promised to "divide and conquer" Wisconsin unions as a "first step" to right to work (her question, specifically, was about making Wisconsin a right to work state). He crafted a mining policy extremely beneficial to the mining company that donated $700,000 to support his election. Despite formerly being opposed to mining. You know, before the cash drop. His WEDC gave Ashley furniture a $6,000,000 tax credit to build headquarters in WI -- with permission lay off 1,900 employees (half its workforce), and no new job creation requirements. Did I mention that Ashley furniture owners are big Walker supporters, who promptly donated $20K to his reelection? And let's not forget the Koch brother prank call.  Long story short, Scotty is as bought and paid for as they come: he'll destroy worker rights, pollute our waters and land, reward business for firing employees, etc., etc. -- as long as there is a payout at the end. His priorities are the lords, and the serfs can take a flying leap.

On top of it all, Walker abhors honesty. Walker makes a regular habit of prevarication. Whatever the topic, he's got an angle at odds with the truth. Jobs? Bah! Don't trust those numbers (that I told you last election were the gold standard). Choose these ones (that we said were untrustworthy last time), because they look better for me! Abortion? Well, that's a woman's choice! (Unless I get my way...) And the list goes on. Seriously, pick a campaign topic; there's a great chance that Walker has outright lied or significantly misrepresented it. If he's talked about it, he's probably lied about it.

In short, my friend, if you hate everyone but yourself, if you're wealthy, male and a raging douche canoe on top of it all, Scott Walker has got your interests at heart. You should vote for him. If you're anything else, and you support him, you're at best uninformed. Look at the facts, my friend, before it's too late. And we're all stuck suffering for your ignorance.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Taking back your democracy"

So, Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine is at it again...infusing his (excellent) comic strip with truth:

Midterms are notorious for low voter turnout. Everywhere where the GOP has control, they've been working hard to make sure the "wrong kind" of voter (i.e. Democrat) turnout is even lower. Wisconsin is a great example -- where, until this late implementation was halted by the Supreme Court, Walker & co were going to implement a voter ID law that required a state issued ID (and sometimes difficult to attain original documents to get it) two months before the election...despite the fact that the DMV's in some counties wouldn't even be open until after the election or the day of the election (meaning that people without driver's licenses would somehow have to get a ride to a different county, or to the DMV and then the polls the day of the election [where it was open that day]). There are 300,000 Wisconsin voters without ID; the GOP did everything they could to ensure that they couldn't vote. Putting a roadblock -- insurmountable, in some cases (where, for instance, a person lives in the county where there is no open DMV before the election, and they, obviously, cannot drive to one in a different county) because of a non-issue (there has only been one actual case of voter fraud in Wisconsin -- and it involved a Scott Walker supporter) is a blatant attempt at voter disenfranchisement. The Wisconsin GOP's plan is on hold for now, thanks to the Supreme Court.
 But the fact that they tried it at all, that they will implement it for the next election, should speak volumes. Voter turnout is something they fear, so much that they're willing to target it.

And if we sit on our duffs this election, if we stay home because we're tired, or don't think we'll win, or have better things to do...we've done their work for them. If you want to keep your democracy, get out there. Vote. It doesn't matter if your line is long, if it's cold, if you'd rather be somewhere else. Your lines will never get shorter if you stay home because they're too long (the GOP has been cutting voting options nationwide, deliberately making it as unpleasant as possible to exercise your right to vote; that's not going to change if they get back in). And there's very little more important than deciding whether people who want to strip women, LGBT people, and working people of as many rights as possible will be running this country; there's little that's more important than deciding if the government will have your interests, or big business', at heart. These are things that will inconvenience your life far more than standing in line in November could ever do. Even in Wisconsin. So, please, for your own sake and this country's, get out there and vote. Before the REPO man really does show up.

I'll see you at the polls, my friends.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Incredible images from Norway

Rustad Media (http://www.rustadmedia.com/) has produced a truly stunning time-lapse video compilation of Norway’s many and varied beauties. The video is the result of 10,000 miles of the photographers' travels, through all 19 counties of Norway. It's just about five minutes long, and covers everything from southwestern fjords to northern snowscapes, countryside to city scenes, waterways to landscapes. It's amazing.

Rustad Media also has an amazing collection of photos up under their photo page. Including these masterpieces. Wow.

Lots more at Rustad Media.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Norwegian-American WWII vet gets Viking funeral

On September 29th, 2014, WWII veteran and Norwegian immigrant Andrew Haines made his farewell journey in true Viking fashion. USA Today reports:
“[Coast Guard] Station Atlantic City fulfilled the final wishes of service veteran Andrew Haines, a New Jersey resident who died in late August at age 89. Haines spent more than a decade planning his own Norse-style send-off, even building a funeral ship to carry his cremated ashes and then be burned.”
Haines had built his 54-inch ship based off of blueprints from Norway, sent by a cousin. The original plans were for a 100 foot long ship, however; Haines worked at scaling the plans down, and eventually created the replica that took him on his final journey.

All of this was done, it should be noted, with one hand: Haines had lost his other arm in an accident in 1975.

Andrew Haines’ Viking funeral 

Andrew Haines was born in Norway, but emigrated to the United States in 1927. He was a child at the time. He then went on to serve in WWII.

Burials at sea are free to military veterans, but notes Atlantic City’s operation officer, Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Christopher Fonseca, “Scattering ashes and flowers is pretty much the norm.” Despite the funeral request being unusual, the Coast Guard worked with Haines’ family to accommodate his last wishes.

And on the 29th, “three miles off the coast…” the Coast Guard “brought the miniature Viking ship down to a recess in their boat, lit the wood shavings inside on fire with a flare and sent it out to sea.

It took about 20 minutes to burn, he said. The family said some last words, and one crew member read a nautically themed Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, Crossing the Bar.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Some of the more clueless things you'll see this Columbus Day

Compliments of the right wing religious clowns at The Political Insider:

Genocide? Slavery? Rape? Don't worry, it's all cool: Columbus found "sweet consolation" in his god. He's forgiven, it's cool. Happy Columbus Day!

And this isn't the stupidest thing I've seen emanating from the right today. No, that dubious honor goes to professional crackpot Allen West, for turning Columbus Day into an opportunity to get back to...Islam!
But, today we celebrate and remember this Italian explorer who realized the world needed a new trade route because of Islamic conquest — and just so you know, the Umayyad caliphate was followed by the Abbasid caliphate. And here we are today, some 1400 years later, still confronting Islamic conquest by violence, displacement of other indigenous religions by Islam, and the establishment of a caliphate.

We thank Christopher Columbus, but now the world needs another Charles Martel.
I swear, it's like six degrees of Kevin Bacon with West: except six is probably way  more than he needs, and it's all about Islam.

Scott Walker's women's outreach: shutting clinics, repealing equal pay, mandating ultrasounds and more

Ardent women's rights advocate, Governor Scott Walker
During the first 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial debate, Scott Walker wanted to assure voters that he's very reasonable in regards to abortion, and really just has women's health in mind. He's pro-life, but he can't imagine the difficulty of the situation; he just wants to make sure women are safe. Ultimately, the choice is hers. That's what he says. Turns out, he's a liar.

Come on now, pick yourself up off the floor, sit back down, and let's go over his women's outreach strategy for the past four years. What Scott Walker says and does when he's in power -- not just the month before the election.

First, there's the repeal of equal pay protections. Like many of his other controversial measures, signed into law right before the weekend. It's almost like he doesn't want voters -- women, and men who give a damn about women -- to know that he's making gender based wage discrimination easier. Because, as champion of the repeal, Wisconsin State Senator and village idiot Glenn Grothman argued, "money is more important for men." Walker was happy to do Grothman's and other misogynist Republican's bidding, signing the repeal.
Item One on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: limit women's recourse for gender-based pay discrimination

Of course, withdrawing funds from (leading to the closure of) health clinics that primarily serve women is another win for Walker. Not women, but who cares if they need cancer screenings, birth control, wellness screenings, etc.?  This, of course, was part of his anti-abortion vendetta. The kicker? Some of the clinics that had to close didn't actually provide abortions. (Nevermind that limiting family planning options leads to more unplanned pregnancies, and consequently more abortions). Oops!
Item Two on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: close multiple Planned Parenthoods (even clinics that don't perform abortions) because he hates abortion

Speaking of abortion, part of Walker's women's outreach includes the goal of making abortion illegal. In every circumstance. Even if the mother's life is on the line. Walker talks about abortion being a woman's choice (notably, in the present tense -- that is, it is "today it's her choice") now, during the election. But in the past he's proudly owned his radical views. To Scott Walker, a woman's very life is inconsequential, if she's carrying a zygote, embryo or fetus. As he has made clear.
Item Three on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: outlaw abortion, even for rape and incest victims, and even if the woman's life is on the line

While we're on the topic, Governor Walker decided to boost his appeal to women and decent human beings in general by mandating ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. And, again, this was signed on a weekend, this time in private and quietly announced on a Friday (sensing a pattern here?). So, now women who need abortions have to get ultrasounds. They can be external, if the fetus is large enough to be picked up. But if it's too early, you know what that means: mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds. Thanks to Wisconsin's own gyonotician-in-chief.
Item Four on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: mandate invasive, costly and medically unnecessary procedures as a prerequisite to attaining an abortion

Still on the topic (yup, the governor's all about it being the woman's choice...)...in the same mandatory ultrasounds bill, Walker signed into law a requirement that abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a hospital. This is an absurd requirement, as complications are extremely rare; and one you do not see applied to any other comparable set of providers. This follows a nation-wide pattern by extreme anti-choice governors and legislators, in forcing abortion clinics to shut their doors by erecting too many hurdles to their continued operation.
Item Five on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: erect more hurdles to safe abortions

 While Governor Walker isn't busying himself specifically targeting women, he tends to take stances that disproportionately (and negatively) impact women. His dismissal of setting a minimum wage that covers basic living expenses, for instance, has a highly skewed impact on women. Wisconsin women are more than twice as likely as men to work in low-paying jobs. Scott Walker's solution? Save up for an education with your minimum wage earnings. Nevermind that an income below a living wage means no extra cash lying around for tuition; nevermind that Scott Walker cut education so steeply that 40,000 + people are on a waitlist for financial aid in this state. Nevermind that many of the women working these jobs are working mothers -- meaning their dollar, and time, has to stretch that much further.
Item Six on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: deny working people, overwhelmingly women and mothers, a chance to earn a living wage

Blaming the poor because they don't have the money to improve their situation in life is Walker on a good day. Otherwise, it's full-on demonizing. "My belief is we shouldn't be paying for them to sit on the couch, watching TV or playing Xbox," Walker told cheering campaign volunteers recently, as he promised to pursue drug testing for food stamp recipients. This is straight up Heritage Foundation-esque propaganda, in the Republican effort to convince their base to kick downwards, at the over-privileged and undeserving poor. (Also? Illegal. Federal law prohibits it. It's just pandering rhetoric, meant to incite hate against the poor "other"). And how does that impact women? Because women are, as noted above, more than twice as likely to work low paying jobs than men, and twice as likely as men to need foodstamps at least once.
Item Six on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: demonize poor people (overwhelmingly, women and their children) who need food assistance

So there you have it...our illustrious governor, working hard to infantilize, restrict and limit women by cutting recourse for wage discrimination, cutting healthcare options and availability, mandating unnecessary medical procedures, limiting educational opportunities, demonizing the poor, etc., etc. Whether it's directly targeted at women, or if women are mere collateral damage, Scott Walker's impact on Wisconsin women has been demonstrably harmful. We have fewer healthcare options, less legal protection when facing discrimination, more barriers to access and care, and a governor who completely disregards us -- except to implement patronizing, patriarchal laws.

That is Scott Walker's women's outreach. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wisconsin sinking millions into failed private schools

Long before Scott Walker was governor, he was a proponent of voucher schools; since becoming governor, he's continued to expand public monies for private schools. I've mentioned specific examples of failure before, discussed why funneling public money to religious schools is a bad idea, and pointed out that the vaunted private schools are actually doing worse than their worst public peers.

Turns out, Wisconsin taxpayers have been pouring millions of dollars into failed voucher schools.
Wisconsin taxpayers have paid about $139 million to private schools that ended up being barred from the state's voucher system for failing to meet requirements since 2004, according to a newspaper report.

State Department of Public Instruction data shows more than two-thirds of the 50 schools terminated from the state's voucher system in the last 10 years had stayed open for five years or less...Eleven schools, paid a total of $4.1 million, were terminated from the voucher program after just one year.
Of note, Scott Walker's campaign refused to answer questions or agree to an interview on the subject. Challenger Mary Burke, however, "said the spending data on terminated schools illustrates the need to scale back the program."
"I'm shocked that the program has continued to be expanded without the type of accountability that really needs to be there," said Burke.
I guess we can file this under yet another brilliant Scott Walker plan gone awry...

Matt Walsh implies that Brittany Maynard is a coward

In my latest piece on Friendly Atheist, I discuss the tragic case of Brittany Maynard -- 29, recently married, trying to start her family, when diagnosed with advanced brain cancer -- and the despicable reaction from chronically-wrong Matt Walsh. You may remember, I've covered Matt Walsh's terrible and vitriolic anti-choice arguments twice before. This one is no better. Indeed, it's much worse.

Conservative Christian blogger Matt Walsh, guest posting at The Blaze, goes so far as to declare her choice “the exact opposite of courage.” He can’t quite bring himself to utter the word “coward,” but he does everything short of it throughout his piece:
"We are given life, we take part in life, we participate in life, but we do not own our lives. We can’t take possession of our lives like a two-year-old grabbing a toy from his friend and shouting ‘Mine!’ Our lives are bigger than that, thank God."
Walsh bemoans people’s support for Maynard and her decision, calling her a “martyr for the cause of self-destruction [in] our modern enlightened society.” He is “terrified to think that [his] children will grow up in a culture that openly venerates suicide with this much unyielding passion.” He also believes that anyone who says Maynard is brave is implying that those who choose otherwise are not.

My responses, and more detail, at the link.

If the GOP has thoroughly accomplished one thing in the past 6 years, it's this

In six years of professional "No-ing," the GOP has accomplished very little. They've shut down the government, accused the president of trying to destroy the country, cooked up every sort of conspiracy theory you can imagine, attacked women, gays and minorities...but that really seems more like "activity" than something accomplished: petulant disagreeableness, throwing a wrench in the workings of the country because they're not in charge, and tearing down their scapegoats du jour.

But looking back at all Republicans have done, they seem to have achieved one goal really well: convince Americans making just enough that if only those with not enough had less, they'd be doing much better. Put another way, they've trained a certain segment of the population to kick downwards. Instead of looking at a system that makes it difficult to survive, instead of looking at the portion of the population that keeps getting richer and richer, instead of looking at how many hundreds and even thousands of times those above them make than everyone else...they look at the people just below them, getting poorer and poorer. Republicans have instilled such a level of contempt in people for unskilled laborers and the poor, that they do the work of justifying paying them less than enough to survive for the party.

Bear in mind, we're not talking about people who don't work; we're not talking about people who earn a lousy living, but a living. We're talking about people who work hard, and do not earn enough for the basic necessities. And as far as Republicans are concerned, this is good enough: the unskilled laborer's comfort, standard-of-life, independence, self-respect, health and ultimately life are worthy of only disdain. He is a failure by virtue of being unskilled, and as such deserves contempt. A cheap Big Mac is more important than the person making it being able to afford to pay his rent and put food on the table after working 40 hours a week.

Thus we see things like this (this particular image has been shared by almost 200K people, but there are many other variants around the net):

First of all, the false comparison is just a way to heap scorn on the working poor: you  just make fries, and you think you should be treated the same as an American hero?! It ignores benefits that are attached (health, etc.) to military service (still needed, but not found in fast food work...), and casts these as mutually exclusive options. Should we pay our military better? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay minimum wage employees more, either.

But that's not the worst part of this. Look at the smug contempt this person piles on fast food employees. Throughout the piece, she refers to fast food workers in only demeaning terms:
- Johnny Fry-Boy
- Sally McBurgerflipper
- Baconator
They have "failed," and if they "don't want minimum wage" they shouldn't "have minimum skills."

And, it bears repeating, this is not one bitter, hateful person spewing her contempt for her fellow man on the internet. Once upon a time, the GOP line was "get a job, earn money, it doesn't matter what it is, just get off your butt and work." It's now morphed from "the dignity of work" to "make my burgers, bitch. And hell no, you don't get paid enough to survive, because you're just a burger flipper!"

If a minimum wage worker cannot afford to live, that is his fault, because he should simply better himself. Despite the fact that, you know, he can't afford to live, much less acquire higher education....

This is the same thinking exhibited by Governor Scott Walker in last week's gubernatorial debate, where -- only after continued prodding and much prevarication -- he admitted that he didn't think a living wage should be set, but, rather, that minimum wage workers should user their earnings to better themselves (ignoring the fact, mentioned above, that minimum wage is too low to afford basic necessities of life, much less education; and that he has cut education so much in the state that tens of thousands are on financial aid wait lists -- thus narrowing a minimum wage earner's opportunities even more). 

In short, the GOP has convinced a segment of its base that the poor are poor because they're failures. They can't afford to survive not because they don't work, but because they work in the wrong type of work. If they wanted to be able to survive, they'd just save up from their less-than-enough-to-afford-the-necessities-of-life paychecks for expensive higher education. While Republicans cut funding from and access to it. The fact that the poor don't get the higher education that they can't afford (and Republicans have made it even harder to afford) indicates that they're just failures. (And let's just ignore the fact that the whole "minimum wage jobs are meant for highschool students" is a blatant lie -- as the workforce needed is far, far greater than could be managed by highschool students, operates during school hours, etc., etc.)

When it comes right down to it, the Republican answer to a living wage is as meaningful, sophisticated and compassionate as this Disney cartoon villain's:

Frankly, I can't decide which is worse: that a mainstream party would actually run with such an answer, or that so many people can be so easily swayed to view their fellow man with such unbridled contempt as to think their hard work should be given for less than enough to survive. Because, fuck them, the poor, unskilled bastards.

And this is the GOP's big success: they've convinced people to despise those whose lives are more difficult than their own, to consider the success of those beneath them as personally or societally harmful; to think that a full-time working person should make less than enough to survive, because they don't deserve survival if they don't have higher education. (But, remember, the president is a "snob" for advocating educational opportunities for all!)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Scott Walker: lies, deflections, and f#ck the poor (the minimum wage debate recap )

Governor Walker doesn't think the minimum wage should be a living wage. And he finally, with much pressing and after much prevarication, acknowledged it last night.
In last night's debate, he declared that people shouldn't live off of minimum wage jobs -- they should use their earnings from those jobs to better themselves, like he did when working at McDonalds years ago. This ignores the very crucial points that:

  1. If you can't afford to put a roof over your head and buy food without government assistance, you're sure as hell not going to be able to save up for an education.
  2.  Did I mention that Walker's cuts to education have tens of thousands on wait-lists for financial aid? So, even if you're somehow able to survive on minimum wage earnings, your educational opportunities have been shrunk. By the guy telling you to get off your ass and get an education or vocational training.
  3.  When Walker was working a minimum wage job, his earnings, adjusted for inflation, were much, much higher.
  4. There are not enough high school students and retirees looking to make a few bucks a week or other minimum-wage-part-time earners to fill all the food services, retail, etc., minimum wage jobs out there. If every person working those jobs somehow overcame all the hurdles and got a better education and found a higher paying job, those businesses would not be able to operate. In other words, many businesses rely on full-time (or equivalent) unskilled labor to keep their doors open. 

The "get off your ass" line isn't an answer to the problem, it's a deflection of the issue. Paying unskilled laborers less than enough to survive, much less better themselves, while telling them to just get off their duffs and better themselves is not only contradictory, but it's patronizing BS. Pretending that businesses don't need -- indeed, could survive without -- a lot of unskilled labor is flat out dishonest. Rather than addressing the issue, Scott Walker pretended it wasn't an issue.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Details from the Palin brawl...and has Bristol got a temper...

So the police report is out about the Palin brawl, and a few things stand out. Most of all, my goodness, but does Bristol Palin have a temper. (And the whole family seems to have a drinking problem). Anchorage Alaska reports:

Klingenmeyer told police that a fight had broken out in the cul-de-sac in front of the home, and he had asked guests not to get involved. A few minutes later, Bristol and Willow Palin came around the back of the house, and Bristol looked like she wanted to start a fight, Klingenmeyer said.

Klingenmeyer asked her to leave, he told police. “Who the f--- are you?” she responded. He told her he was the homeowner, and she responded that he didn’t own the house and she would “kick his ass.”

“He says then that she hits him in the face. He says he then tells her to hit him again if it makes her feel better and she does. He says he lets her hit him 5-6 times in the face and that she was hitting pretty hard. After about the sixth punch he grabbed her fist as she punched again and he pushed back and she falls down. He says she gets up and tries to punch him again and he grabs her fist again and pushes her away and she falls down again,” Daily wrote.

Seven other witnesses told police the same version of events as Klingenmeyer.
Bristol was, the officer noted, "heavily intoxicated and upset". Her own story borders on the absurd, but does play up the Palin victim complex quite admirably:
She [Bristol] stated she didn't know who Corey was and then said that Korey [sic] had drug her across the lawn by her legs and was calling her a cunt and a slut. She said the guy with the red shirt was dragging her., when asked how it started, she said that her little sister told her that a girl had hit her so she walked up and asked what 40 year old was pushing her sister and that's when some guy walked up and pushes her on the ground and starts dragging on the lawn and calling her names....She said didn't know what else happened and didn't have a clue whether she hit him [Corey] or not.
Bristol also alleges that someone stole her sunglasses and shoes.

Rather than being at fault and looking for a fight, as multiple people note, she was really just a victim. Someone was picking on her little sister, she merely asked who it was, and voila! She's attacked, dragged around, and beat up. Sounds really quite plausible...

For his part, Track was no shining star either. While several witnesses agree that a friend of his had been sucker-punched, many witnesses also have him looking for -- and instigating a separate -- fight throughout the evening. Furthermore, the police report lists that the responding police offer found him belligerent. Officer John Daily states that Track "was angry and intoxicated and I had a hard time getting him to calm down." He also notes in his observations:
On arrival I saw that there was a long white limousine parked in the road...and there were several people w/b towards the vehicle. They were leading a WMA to the limo and pushing him in as I approached, appearing intent on keeping him away from me. I saw that he did not have a shirt on and there was blood around his mouth and on his hands and he appeared to have an injury under his left eye, on his upper cheek.
After he got in the limo I walked over and leaned in to the car and asked the subject to step out. He appeared heavily intoxicated and he acted belligerent at first but I was able to get him to step out of the car and a female who turned out to be his mother, told him to talk to me. He came out of the car to talk and was in the presence of his father, Todd Palin, mother, Sarah Palin, and he identified himself as Track Palin.
All I can say is, I shudder to think what sort of reaction that behavior would have elicited if Track Palin wasn't white...

Oh, and even after the fight broke up, and the officers were questioning people? The Palins kept coming back for more. Officer Ruth Adolf recorded:
After I spoke to Dishion [another witness], Todd Palin came walking back to the driveway confronting Corey asking him if he called his daughter a "bitch". Willow Palin walked up and also got involved flipping Corey off and getting loud. We eventually separated everyone and the Palin family ended up leaving.
You know what they say... the family that drinks and fights together...

Monday, October 6, 2014

And here comes Pro-Life Godwin's Law...yet again...

So I just posted about this the other day, and here it is again. Only instead of a still young and brainwashed reality TV star, as in Jessa Duggar's case, this is Texas State Senator Charles Perry ("Texas" and "Perry" are really seeming to be a bad combo...).
Describing his theocratic ambitions as part of a “spiritual battle for the spirit of this nation and the soul of its people,” he emphasized that abortion and same-sex marriage will be key issues.

Some choice quotes at the article ... including his comparison of "laws that lead citizens away from God" with lining Holocaust victims up against a wall and shooting them in the throat. Nope, I'm not kidding.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Should religious belief trump secular law?

Does religious belief trump secular law? My latest piece on Patheos' FriendlyAtheist discusses a law professor's take the statutes that have been delivering a resounding "yes," in cases like Hobby Lobby -- and how they confer added benefits for believers beyond the constitutional freedom of religion.

From the piece:
...if the law can only be enforced if the government demonstrates that there is simply no other way to achieve the same means, we will be left with a bizarre and ultimately unworkable legal maze that exempts almost anyone professing almost any belief (regardless of its basis in reality) from almost any law. If closely held religious belief is all that’s needed to exempt someone from “neutral and generally applicable” laws, the law essentially loses all value, and every citizen indeed becomes “a law unto himself.”

Check it out.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Religious-based science denial in action: when you have to defend life saving chemotherapy...and still get attacked...

Answers in Genesis FB page recently reshared an article from last year, where a Christian writer defended as Biblical his decision to receive life saving chemotherapy...my latest article on FriendlyAtheist discusses his comments, the frosty reception among AiG readers, and the reason behind it. From the article:
When someone encourages his flock to dismiss science as it relates to one topic, it shouldn’t come as a shock to to find the same folks also dismissing science in other fields. And while I give Answers in Genesis props for fighting this particular brand of Bible-based science denial, it’s unfortunate that they don’t recognize that the problem is Bible-based science denial in general. It’s not just one particularly insane belief floating around; it’s all the faulty beliefs that can spring up due to one particular interpretation of the book.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jesus loves me, this I know...

So Answers in Genesis put the following cartoon up awhile ago.


The idea, of course, is to mock people who rely on reality rather than the Bible, playing off the song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so." You know, "haha, those dumb atheists and Christians who think science matters. Don't they know, we have a book that supersedes facts!" The example in question, of course, is pretty amusing...

Because the song may say that the Bible says that...but the Bible doesn't actually say that.  So, really, while the guy who professes a love of science is completely wrong here...so too is the entire point of the goofy cartoon.

Damn that reality, getting in the way of good propaganda...

"Pro-life Godwin's Law" strikes again...

21 year old Jessa Duggar (of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting) recently joined the ranks of other anti-abortion evangelical who like to trot out the "abortion is like the Holocaust!" line. And in doing, she shows a marked disregard for actual victims of the Holocaust -- who, while presumably being the topic of her Holocaust museum post, are only just referenced in order to get to the more pressing topic of...abortion, of course. As an added bonus? Racism only comes from evolutionary theory. And evolutionary science was the cause of the Holocaust.

From my article on Friendly Atheist:

Obviously, racism existed long before the theory of evolution came about, so she is flat out wrong on this one. People were using religion to promulgate racist ideas long before Charles Darwin came around. Witness the “Curse of Ham” line of thought that Christians used to justify slavery and bigotry or Martin Luther‘s rabid anti-Semitism (that found a welcome home in, of all places, Nazi Germany…).
But unlike Duggar, I’m not trying to pin the blame for Nazism on one specific idea. Evil people in general can rationalize malicious acts and twist most philosophies to their needs. That’s a given. Still, two things are absolutely undeniable (if you wish to maintain even a semblance of honesty):
  1. Nazism was embraced by Christians, promoted as Christian, and promoted by Christians as Christian. (Not by all of them, obviously.) From the belt buckles that read “God with us,” to the close ties to Catholicism, to the invocations of Luther, Nazism was rife with obvious and less obvious examples of Christian influence and support. Ancient Christian anti-Semitism played a huge role in the Holocaust.
  2. Any evolutionary support people claim for such ideas is just bad science. Now, religious people will argue that anti-Semitism is bad religion. That may well be (although, unlike science, the mechanisms to know are far less reliable — mostly coming down to the opinion of the interpreter). But science can and has demonstrated that such claims are nonsense. There is no evolutionary support for the idea that there are distinct, or more or less advanced, human species, or anything of that nature. So, while anyone can make that claim, they do so in the face of — not with the support of — solid scientific data. (Unlike the hundreds of years of established religious tradition that supports Christian anti-Semites…)

More at the link.