Jan
31

Sunday Morning Music

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R.I.P. Paul Kantner

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President Barack Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the East Room
of the White House. January 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian)

President Obama yesterday proposed a new rule for employers to make it easier to identify discriminatory pay practices in the workplace:

Women workers in the United States earn 79 cents for every dollar men do. And President Barack Obama doesn’t want you to forget it.

Speaking Friday at a White House event celebrating the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama proposed collecting pay data from companies with 100 or more people — and breaking down the numbers by gender, race and ethnicity. About 63 million workers would be covered, according to a news release accompanying his announcement, which aims to “focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations.”

The White House also called again for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, calling it “commonsense legislation that would give women additional tools to fight pay discrimination.”

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Photo by Tim Pierce (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],via Wikimedia Commons.


If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie. – from Rigged Justice

In the first of what she promises will be annual reports on enforcement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren this morning released Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy. Calling the Obama administration’s enforcement against corporate criminals “feeble,” Warren’s report cites 20 criminal and civil cases from 2015 in which authorities punished corporate crimes – where they were enforced at all – with a slap on the wrist. Prosecutors took only one of these cases to trial. She follows up with an op-ed in the New York Times, writing, “These enforcement failures demean our principles.” The report begins:

Much of the public and media attention on Washington focuses on enacting laws. And strong laws are important – prosecutors must have the statutory tools they need to hold corporate criminals accountable.  But putting a law on the books is only the first step.  The second, and equally important, step is enforcing that law.  A law that is not enforced – or weakly enforced – may as well not even be a law at all.

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Jan
29

Friday Open Thread

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In his first act as president, Donald Trump will declare America a Megyn Kelly-free zone.

Categories : Open Thread
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Jan
28

Voter id, not voter ID

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Flickr photo by whizchickenonabun via Creative Commons

Flickr photo by whizchickenonabun via Creative Commons

All this time and money Republicans spent trying to game elections in this country seems wasted. They erected hurdles to voting in state after state, from evil-genius gerrymandering to voter IDs to slashing early voting and same-day registration to shorting voting machines in minority precincts. They could have just asked Trump. Voter id, not voter ID may determine this election.

New York magazine surveyed 100 Republican primary voters. They were all over the ideological map. The one phrase that seemed to encapsulate the voters’ mood in choosing a candidate is “testicular fortitude”:

The phrase seemed telling. If there was anything almost all of the respondents sought in a candidate, it was that testicular fortitude — or, in less colorful terms, strength. It’s why Trump has steamrolled his rivals despite his ideological inconsistencies as a Republican. And it’s why Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have failed to connect: Being labeled a nerd in this GOP primary is the kiss of death; being cast as a sissy is even worse. Machismo even seems to be Carly Fiorina’s best selling point.

This attraction to strength seems to be connected to an inchoate sense that the world is falling apart. The voters we spoke to were concerned about a lot of potential threats — terrorist, economic, and cultural — and hoped that a strong president would protect them from dangers within as well as from abroad. Voters said they no longer felt free to be themselves in their own country — policed in their speech, unable to pray publicly or even say “God bless you” when someone sneezes. “Everything’s so p.c.,” said Priscilla Mills, a 33-year-old hospital coordinator from Manchester. “And then the second you do say something, you’re a racist.” Trump, who had 21 percent of the vote in our small sample, has capitalized the most on the political-correctness grievance, which is likely to surface in the general election no matter who becomes the nominee.

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Jan
27

One dead extremist

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Notice on refuge website.

The FBI and Oregon State Police have sealed off the area around the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon after the arrest of the leader of the occupation that began there earlier this month. They promised to arrest any unauthorized persons attempting to reach the refuge. Read: reinforcements.

KATU Portland reports:

HARNEY COUNTY, Ore. — One person is dead and eight others, including Oregon occupation leader Ammon Bundy, were detained following a violent confrontation with the FBI and state police Tuesday night.

It all began with a traffic stop while Bundy and some of his followers were en route to a community meeting at a John Day senior center, about 70 miles north of Burns.

Shots were fired after FBI agents, Oregon State troopers and other law enforcement agencies made the stop on US Highway 395.

Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan W. Payne were arrested during the stop. Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy and online talk-show radio host Peter Santilli were arrested in Burns. Jon Ritzheimer was arrested after surrendering to authorities in his home state of Arizona.

The armed militants had occupied the refuge headquarters outside Burns, Oregon for nearly a month.

Arizonan LaVoy Finicum, 54, was killed, KATU reports. He had previously told reporters he would die before going to prison:

“There are things more important than your life, and freedom is one of them,” he said at the time. “I’m prepared to defend freedom.”

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Categories : National
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Jan
26

Of sowing and of reaping

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It was a bit of delicious irony yesterday to see a Texas grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood over those hoaxed “fetal tissue” videos turn around and instead indict the anti-abortion activists who made them:

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were indicted by the grand jury for tampering with a governmental record, said prosecutors for the county in which Houston is located. The felony charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

As Digby observed, there’s no telling what “tampering with a governmental record” means in this case.

There was more irony last night when CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Glenn Beck whether he bore any responsibility for the emergence of Donald Trump as the GOP’s presidential front-runner. Beck described Trump as a “dangerous man”:

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Rev. William Barber speaking at Moral March on Raleigh2015. Flickr photo by AGFE via Creative Commons

Rev. William Barber speaking at Moral March on Raleigh
2015. Flickr photo by AGFE via Creative Commons

U.S. federal Judge Thomas Schroeder in Winston-Salem, North Carolina today hears a case against the state over its sweeping voter ID bill. HB 589 changed overnight from about 17 pages to over 50 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP, the U.S. Justice Department and others claim the photo ID requirement unduly burdens black and Hispanic voters:

The trial over North Carolina’s voter ID law is set to begin Monday in front of Schroeder, a federal judge since 2008 who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.

The legal battle is one of several being watched across the nation as the courts address questions of the fairness and lasting impacts that ID laws have on voting rights.

In North Carolina, voters will be required this year to use one of six specified IDs when they cast ballots — unless they can show they faced a “reasonable impediment” for getting one.

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Guess Cruz is an acquired taste:

One of the Mounties — who refused to give his name or say if he’s even an Iowan, though he insisted he doesn’t represent any campaign or party, Democrat or Republican — also held a sign that read “Ted Cruz Likes Nickelback.”

It’s a sly attack, bordering on obscure. The stars of the oft-maligned Canadian grunge band grew up in Alberta, the same province where Cruz was born.

Categories : Presidential Race
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Jan
24

Falling in love again

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By Alan Light (Own work by the original uploader) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) orCC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

It is a cliché by now, the observation Bill Clinton once attributed to a friend, “In every presidential election, Democrats want to fall in love. Republicans just fall in line.” But being a cliché does not mean it isn’t true. Mostly. To their great chagrin, the GOP’s base seems to cheating on them by falling in love with Donald Trump.

A flurry of articles in the last 10 days have pointed out both Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ weaknesses as candidates. They also have their strengths. Those are worth debating on their merits (without rancor, please). But as the cliché suggests, what many don’t acknowledge they really want in an elected leader is a soul mate. As Seinfeld would say, not that there’s anything wrong with that. If that’s what you really want. (Cue Mick Jagger.)

I saw this phenomenon up close at ScruHoo when Heath Shuler ran for re-election in 2010. Progressive readers in the Cesspool of Sin by then had had enough of our Blue Dog and cited a catalog of sins for which they would never forgive him (and certainly would never again vote for him). I got curious. A few weeks later I posted:

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