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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coburn 'out-Foxes' his idiot Conservative followers - AGAIN

Audit of BP claims facility results in $64 million in additional payments
- from the New Orleans Tribune[/

The ever-corrupt Tom Coburn, who lives his life amid the lint of the deep pockets of big oil, big pharm and other big money spent on PAID-triots. It's no secret who buys members of the House and Senate to do their bidding.

And it's no secret that Coburn, leaving this year due to ill health, has NEVER really been against waste. He's just a hatchet man for his buyers, a long term buy-to-lie guy.

On his way out the door, he's done his donor's bidding one last time, this time via the right wing propaganda machine over at Fox (not really)News. It's good to use Fox to lie to the gullible conservatives; neither Fox, nor the Conservatives who consume their drivel, will ever fact check anything. They tend to be science illiterates on both sides of the television - the sending and the receiving, and they are consistently wilfully ignorant.

Let's look at the recent Fox dishonest headline:
$10G to watch grass grow: Coburn report details worst examples of gov't waste

As American taxpayers worried about the terror threat from the Islamic State, the crisis at the border and the economy, the U.S. government spent their money to give rabbits massages, to teach sea monkeys to synchronize swim and to literally watch grass grow.

These and other examples of wasteful government spending were detailed by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn in his annual “Wastebook,” his final edition since he is retiring early next year.

...Other examples vary from the serious, to the aggravating, to just plain bizarre. One that takes the cake is the $10,000 the government spent to watch grass grow --- seriously.

That project is the brainchild of the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is paying for the growth of the smooth cordgrass to be observed on a Florida reserve. The money covers “the cost to monitor grasses, restore two acres as a demonstration and publish a guide on best practices for cultivating the cordgrass, known formally as Spartina alterniflora.”
So.......IS the government wasting money on Spartina alterniflora, just 'watching grass grow'? OR is there a connection to Coburn trying to discourage funding something useful on behalf of big oil, again?


Here is the actual study, INCLUDING the actual purpose, which is completely and totally different from the description of the research in Coburn's 'wastebook'. The biggest waste here is the wastebook itself.

Here is the link to the study and the information about this very special kind of grass, with some excerpts below of the pertinent parts:
Smooth cordgrass provides cover for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds,
and muskrats; and habitat for commercially important fish and shellfish.
Smooth cordgrass was direct-seeded successfully on damaged marshes found
on dredge spoils from Connecticut to Virginia. Lower littoral zones
were seeded in locations where heavy wave action caused by storms did
not erode away the often top-heavy plants before their root systems
developed sufficiently. Smooth cordgrass seeds and seedlings were also
planted successfully on dredge spoils produced in the maintenance of
navigational channels within sounds and estuaries

Smooth cordgrass is an important component of Gulf Coast salt marshes
which stabilize shorelines against erosion and filter heavy metals and
toxic materials from the water column [13].

The presence of smooth cordgrass indicates sites with high salinity,
which can be managed for shrimp ponds [20].

Gulf Coast marshes, because they provide soil stabilization and enhance
water quality, receive the highest priority for protection in
comprehensive oil spill response plans for coastal areas [13]. Effects
of oil spills on salt marshes vary depending on oil type, plant
coverage, season, and marsh elevation [24]. Flushing with seas water is
the most effective clean-up method for oil-contaminated salt marshes at
present. However, once oil penetrates the sediment, not even flushing
will remove it. Flushing is also ineffective at reducing damage to
cordgrass and enhancing long-term plant recovery. If natural tidal
flushing occurs, no other clean-up measures are recommended because
impacts on the community cause more harm than good. Overall, clean-up
responses have limited effectiveness; therefore, primary emphasis should
be placed on contingency planning and protection of salt marsh habitat
from oil spills.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We’re SO lucky NOT to have a Republican majority — Elections and Voter ID

Unlike the poor citizens struggling under a Republican Governor and a Republican majority in their legislature, we have honest and well-run elections, without right wing voter suppression and racism ruining the foundational premise of a free nation -- honest and open elections by citizens.

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg blisters Voter ID in her recent dissenting opinion on the Jim Crow-like legislation of backward and benighted Texas, it is worth a review not only of her comments, which are widely reviewed elsewhere, but also a couple of studies that directly reflect on this American tragedy of racist Voter ID/ Voter Suppression.

One of the more interesting academic studies that got the WI Voter ID tossed by the courts was this one:
Employment and Training Institute banner

Research Update

Voter Photo ID Law Court Cases Utilize ETI Research
A research report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute on The Driver License Status of the Voting Age Population in Wisconsin has received renewed attention as public officials and the courts assess disparate impacts of state and local laws requiring photo IDs as a condition for voting and the Supreme Court examines challenges to the photo ID voter law.

In May 2014 federal Judge Lynn Adelman found Wisconsin's state photo ID law unconstitutional given its adverse impact on many Wisconsin citizens. The 90-page decision is posted online. In it, in note 32 Adelman cites the ETI research that only 47% of black adults and 43% of Hispanic adults compared to 73% of white adults in Milwaukee County hold valid driver's licenses as do 85% of white adults in the rest of Wisconsin compared to 53% of black adults and 52% of Hispanic adults. In October 2014 a three-judge federal appeals court panel found the law constitutional based on the Supreme Court Indiana decision. Here, in the court's decision Judge Frank Easterbrook referenced the 2005 ETI data but suggested that it was evidence that fewer nonwhites without licenses have registered to vote (putting aside the "felon-disenfranchisement" issue). Subsequently, the full 10-member panel deadlocked 5-5 on rehearing the case. On October 9, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to block the law's implementation for the immediate Wisconsin elections scheduled in November.

The Employment and Training Institute study was the first research available that measured driver's license disparities by race and age. The ETI was able to measure possession of driver's licenses for subpopulations in Wisconsin, having reviewed the state license files for employment-related research, and particularly for lack of licenses among working age African Americans and Latinos in Milwaukee County.
And the quite excellent and exhaustive report goes on for many more pages of similar information.

Now of course, Conservatives BRISTLE with anger whenever they are called out on right wing racism, and they bitterly protest concerns about honest elections, and at most inadvertently insist that their restrictive voter laws, not just Voter ID, but reducing voting hours and polling places, and cutting early voting, are perhaps PARTISAN, but NO! NO! NEVER EVER Racist!


Take a look at the ethnicity and racial make up of those who are disenfranchised under Wisconsin law. Wisconsin law is pretty consistent with other right wing voter legislation (thank ALEC for that 'coincidence', since the right lets ALEC special interests write the legislation they sponsor), including the Texas law addressed by Justice Ginsburg, in which she specifically and in detail calls it racist.

NOW, take a look at this study from the University of Delaware, a study published shortly before the LAST election:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Not Ebola, Not ISIL that we should be worrying about MOST

Fossil fuels are over, antiquated, obsolete. Time to MOVE ON, before doing more harm

Conservative failed ideology. Again.

It is a difference in Conservative philosophy to prefer the punitive, no matter how harsh, to the supportive or constructive.

Via facebook, the contrast was made visually.  We could easily do the social safety network solutions, but instead waste money on the unsuccessful military option, waging combat against ourselves -- but conservatives love it, whether it works or not. GUNS GUNS GUNS, and BIGGER GUNS, and GUN RELATED SHIT!  YAY!

No.  Conservative ideology is a failure, a failure we cannot afford, not philosophically, not in actual policy.  It is a misspending of our money, and our future.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kline vs. Kids and Purple Penguins

There is nothing so ugly, so anti-family as "family values" conservatives and their bigotry, their desire to harass and abuse people they see as 'other' in us vs them thinking. The hypocrisy of claiming family values while hating on other people's children is stark.

October 8th, the National Review ran a right wing propaganda story
with a headline reminiscent of a continuing school issue here in MN:
School Told to Call Kids ‘Purple Penguins’ Because ‘Boys and Girls’ Is Not Inclusive to Transgender
Nebraska teachers are instructed to ask students what their preferred pronouns are.
By Katherine Timpf
A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.
“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.
The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”
“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.
The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”
And this is making the rounds of right wingnut email as well; it wouldn't surprise me to see it turning up in the content of the radical religious right in MN, or in the fund raising literature of our own John Kline.

Of course, this is NOT TRUE, as written in the Nat Review. Good ol' Snopes debunked it:

Gender Trolls

Claim: A school district in Lincoln, Nebraska has banned the use of gender pronouns and ordered teachers to use neutral terms such as "purple penguins" instead.

TRUE: Lincoln Public Schools have provided educators with materials to help them better understand gender identity issues.
FALSE: The Lincoln school district has banned all reference to gender in favor of calling students "purple penguins."
Examples: [Collected via e-mail, October 2014]
A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by "gendered expressions" such as "boys and girls," and use "gender inclusive" ones such as "purple penguins" instead.
"Don't use phrases such as 'boys and girls,' 'you guys,' 'ladies and gentlemen,' and similarly gendered expressions to get kids' attention," instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at Lincoln Public Schools.

I just read an article saying that Nebraska will now start requiring that all students be called "Purple Penguins" instead of boys and girls. Is this true? It was on, so I'm skeptical.
According to that article, educators within the school district had been ordered to refrain from using specifically gendered terms when speaking or referring to students in favor of gender neutral terms such as "purple penguins." The article made specific reference to materials provided by Gender Spectrum, an organization whose website states a goal of fostering "gender sensitive and inclusive environment for all children and teens." National Review cited paraphrased materials purportedly provided to educators that painted a picture of a full-scale ban on genders in the Lincoln school district:
"Don't use phrases such as 'boys and girls,' 'you guys,' 'ladies and gentlemen,' and similarly gendered expressions to get kids' attention," instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.
"Create classroom names and then ask all of the 'purple penguins' to meet on the rug," it advises.
The document also warns against asking students to "line up as boys or girls," and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer "skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening."
"Always ask yourself ... 'Will this configuration create a gendered space?'" the document says."
Word of Lincoln Public Schools' gender inclusivity training quickly spread across blogs and on Twitter, morphing into a cautionary tale of political correctness run rampant:
Teachers are encouraged to hang signs on their classroom doors insisting that "all genders" are welcome while discontinuing the time-tested practice of lining boys and girls up separately before leaving class.
"Instead," the guidelines dictate, "use things like 'odd and even birth date ...'
Educators should prominently display photographs of gender-benders in the classroom, the new policy insists, and give students at least four choices when it is imperative that gender be determined.
Much of the airtime given to the matter of gender sensitivity training in Lincoln framed the materials supplied as mandates or rules imposed on all schools within the district. However, as Brenda Leggiardo, LPS coordinator of social workers and counselors clarified to the Lincoln Journal Star after the issue gained widespread attention, the materials were provided as guidelines for educators to better understand gender identity issues and were not intended to impose rules mandating how those issues should be addressed:
The handouts, provided by a staff member on a district equity team, were meant only for teachers, not for students or parents, she said.
And they were not meant as rules staff had to follow, but as suggestions for how teachers can make students feel comfortable. It also stresses the impact words can have on others, Leggiardo said.
"If there's a staff member that's uninformed and unsupportive, that can be pretty scary for a family maybe struggling to understand transgender issues themselves," she said.
LPS Superintendent Steve Joel also held a press conference to assert that the district had made no changes to their policies and imposed no mandates; the material in question consisted only of suggestions for "how teachers could reach all students in their classroom":
Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel pushed back against what he said was misinformed reaction to the district's gender identity training by national commentators and news outlets.
"It's indeed regrettable that for the last week and a half we've had to dedicate as much staff time and resources to address an issue that is not founded in fact," he said at a news conference.
"Never once has anyone inside our system mandated that a teacher take (the words) 'boys' and 'girls' or 'ladies' and 'gentlemen' out of their interactions with children or interaction with adults. There's no policy, there's no procedure, there's no changes being made to bathrooms in schools."
Fox News and other national outlets picked up on local news reports about the district's gender identity training, specifically handouts used with teachers at Irving Middle School that included one from the nonprofit organization Gender Spectrum entitled "12 easy steps to gender inclusiveness."
Joel said the handouts were suggestions and strategies, not mandates, about how teachers could reach all students in their classrooms. The training occurred at the request of an Irving teacher looking for guidance dealing with students.
"This was about adults, professional educators, who care deeply about trying to reach and establish relationships with children," Joel said. "They are looking for strategies about how to be more effective in the classroom."
During administrative leadership days prior to the beginning of the school year, LPS officials shared several recent news stories about transgender persons to help administrators better understand the issues that face some students, so they feel comfortable and welcome at school.
How does this relate to John Kline, representing Minnesotans in Congress and controlling the educational policy of the nation?
From the Dignity in Schools Campaign site, whose mission statement says:
The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) challenges the systemic problem of pushout in our nation's schools and advocates for the human right of every child to a quality education and to be treated with dignity. The DSC unites parents, youth, educators and advocates in a campaign to promote local and national alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment and removal.
and the part about John Kline in sharp contrast to Al Franken (hooray Senator Al!):
Student Non-Discrimination Act Needed to Protect LGBT Students from Bullying
When the ESEA is brought to the floor of the Senate in either December or January, there is a push to attach the Student Non-Discrimination Act, HR 4350 (SNDA), to it.
SNDA includes comprehensive federal prohibitions against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would forbid schools with public funding to discriminate against LGBT students or ignore harassing behaviors.
The bill was re-introduced, having not been added in committee in ESEA, by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.). (watch the video, grab a tissue.) Co-sponsored by 34 senators, it needs the approval of 60 senators to attach it to the ESEA before going to the House for a vote before it becomes law.
“Is it needed?” you may ask. Only 13 states have laws protecting LGBT students from harassment at school; this is not a surprising statistic when you also realize that 15 states do not even include sexual orientation and gender identity on the “hate crimes” list; in 29 states you can still be fired for being gay; and in 34 states you can be fired for being trans.
Come on, it is really necessary to pass another law? Lots of kids are bullied in school; that is “just the way it is.” Research shows highly rejected LGBT youth were at a very high risk for health and mental problems when they become young adults. Highly rejected LGBT youth were:
  • More than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide;
  • Nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression;
  • More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and;
  • More than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.*

and from the same source, the callous and shameful comments of Congressman John Kline:
Now is the time to voice to your senators and representative that it is their duty as public servants to serve the most vulnerable of their constituents: LGBT children.
Tell them to get on record now in support of the Senate bill and the version that comes to the House. Any senator or representative that votes against the protection of vulnerable children should not hold that position of trust.
I am a Mom too, with two straight, adult children. I am a straight, Evangelical Christian compelled by my faith to stand for justice and against oppression. The argument of some conservative family groups and lobbies against this bill is the fear that this bill will “victimize people of faith by turning religiously-based, anti-gay comments into ‘thought crimes’ ” (Rep. John Kline R-Minn.). This is fear-based rhetoric. Anti-discrimination laws punish actions, not opinions or beliefs.
Kline, Bachmann, Paulsen, and Emmer if he can succeed Bachmann -- every one of these radical rightwingers adamantly oppose any action which would interfere with THEIR religious bullying, in the name of religious freedom. Religious freedom is not a free pass to terrorize and harrass and demean other people, including children. But that is exactly what the right wants, and exactly why they should all be removed from any role in government. But that is MOST true of Kline, chairing the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Kline wants to permit kids to be bullied, he wants them less safe, he wants to prevent government from protecting them -- and if that also means that they get a poorer education, he doesn't care. Those kids, those families - they don't matter to John Kline.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

So much for the Second Amendment protects the First's Freedoms.

Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist known for her critical look at how women are portrayed in popular media cancelled a talk at Utah State University, citing Utah gun laws, after an email threatening a campus shooting was sent to the school.

The e-mail threatened "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if Anita Sarkeesian was allowed to speak at the school. The email is purported to have been written by a student with access to a semiautomatic rifle, several pistols and pipe bombs.

"I'm giving you a chance to stop it," the message reads, demanding that Sarkeesian's presentation be canceled.

The writer of the threatening email called Sarkeesian "everything wrong with the feminist woman" and blames feminism for the emasculation of Western men. The message also referred  to Marc Lepine, the gunman behind a deadly attack against women at a Canadian university in 1989, as a hero and promised a similar shooting at USU, specifically referencing Sarkeesian, attendees at the presentation, and students and staff at the women's center.

Sarkeesian asked school officials whether firearms would be allowed in the auditorium where she was scheduled to speak. USU officials replied that, in accordance with Utah law, anyone with a valid concealed carry permit would be able to enter with a gun, according to a statement released by the university.

Sarkeesian said she requested pat-downs or metal detectors for those coming to the presentation but was denied based on Utah's firearms laws.

Of course, the lawful gun owners would be protecting a crazy.

Or else become yet another mass shooter thanks to crappy US gun laws.

Or as one person commented on Facebook:
But only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun! So clearly what was necessary was for pro-Sarkaasian partisans to also show up armed, and then we could have a multi-way shoot-out in a crowded auditorium. Freedom!
To be honest, guns don't guarantee freedom--they never have. What guarantees freedom are people who are willing to speak out, especially if what they say is unpopular.

Those who kill only create martyrs.

See also: