|So far, the dirty hands|
are not the President's
DSWright and a lot of the regular commenters at FDL discuss the possibilities. Here's a hint: the possibility that Obama really means to veto and make it stick is not seriously discussed.
|So far, the dirty hands|
are not the President's
My father knew firsthand the most likely result of introducing guns into the school environment: once, using his Navy training, he disarmed a mentally disturbed girl who brought a loaded gun to school with the intention to shoot (at least) the principal. She got as far as the administrative offices before my father spotted the outline of her gun in a coat pocket.
Legislation filed last week in Texas would allow teachers to use deadly force in order to protect school property, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Texas Aggie pistol
State Rep. Dan Flynn (R), who's previously fought to roll back concealed handgun license requirements, filed the Teacher's Protection Act authorizing educators to use deadly force to protect themselves or another person on school grounds.
The bill would also authorize the use of deadly force to protect school property and shield any teacher who uses deadly force from prosecution should they cause injury or death.
Texas law already offers immunity from discipline to teachers who use "reasonable" force against a student, according to the Chronicle. State law also allows any adult to carry a firearm in a school with the principal's permission.
|A bargain price... only 1 arm, 1 leg!|
On December 19, 2014, just a few weeks after [Low Pay is Not OK's] biggest fast food strike to-date, the National Labor Relations Board made a groundbreaking ruling: McDonald’s can no longer hide behind their franchisees and will be held responsible for violations against the rights of their workers.Over the years, Stella and I have occasionally driven through the line at a local McDonald's to satisfy our sweet tooth with a McCafe™. We prefer Starbucks's Frappucino™, but the McDonald's product is cheaper and very few Starbucks outlets have a drive‑thru.
The ruling states:
[NLRB's] investigation found that McDonald’s, USA, LLC, through its franchise relationship and its use of tools, resources and technology, engages in sufficient control over its franchisees’ operations, beyond protection of the brand, to make it a putative joint employer with its franchisees, sharing liability for violations of our Act. This finding is further supported by McDonald’s, USA, LLC’s nationwide response to franchise employee activities while participating in fast food worker protests to improve their wages and working conditions.
McDonald’s has long claimed no responsibility for working conditions — placing all the blame for bad practices on the franchisees. But the NLRB made it clear that the McDonald’s corporation is the real boss, and it’s up to them to take responsibility and treat their workers fairly.
Read more about the historic ruling here [at NYT].
|Mickey D feels Rosie's muscle|
(organizing really works!)
that was THIS long!
...(Bolds mine. - SB)
Speaking to Republican presidential primary voters in New Hampshire, [Sen. Rand] Paul said that most Social Security disability recipients are in fact malingerers and scofflaws who have no business receiving benefits in the first place.
Paul the Younger; Paul the Snot-nosed
"The thing is that all of these programs, there’s always somebody who’s deserving, everybody in this room knows somebody who’s gaming the system. I tell people that if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting a disability check. Over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts? Everyone over 40 has a back pain."As Michael Hiltzik explains here (and others have in other publications), as a narrowly factual matter these claims are demonstrably false and by a huge margin. Even if you think that severe anxiety disorders and chronic back problems aren't real disabilities, they don't make up anywhere that number of recipients. But the headline isn't really the point. It's the subtext. The score rather than the libretto. The point is that this is taxpayer money for people who don't want to work, people complaining about everyday problems that most of us get by with no problem as an excuse to get a government check.
...Indeed. There's scarcely any point in getting worked up about all the stunts the GOP is pulling this week. The only one that might have real consequences is McConnell's threat to eliminate the possibility of filibustering a Supreme Court nominee, and it's not clear to me that he would win that one hands-down.
At least there are some in the [Republican] party who recognize how much trouble Republicans make for themselves by breaking the armistice in the culture wars and launching battles that cannot be won. It looks as if the nation will have to stand by until GOP realists and ideologues reach some sort of understanding, which may take some time.
...Every time I've pointed this out to a rank-and-file Republican, s/he has waved hands in the air and ranted about some other imaginary cause for the reduction in the number of abortions. I know people need to pat themselves on the back for how effective their political stunts are, but American opinion on abortion in the four decades since Roe has been all over the map, and it's a simple fact that if you're not pregnant, you don't need an abortion.
You might think the [anti-abortion] demonstrators already had reason to cheer. The abortion rate is at “historic lows,” having dropped by 13 percent in the decade between 2002 and 2011, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The main reason is that there are fewer unwanted pregnancies, which suggests logically that if Republicans really want to reduce abortion, what they should do is work to increase access to birth control.
...Republicans need to recognize... c'mon, it isn't that difficult... that any time they attempt to compromise a woman's ability or legal permission to obtain an abortion when she has been raped, they are only confirming in the public's mind that they, GOPers, truly are waging a War on Women.
At issue, apparently, is that, in making exceptions for abortions of pregnancies resulting from rape, the [failed House] bill specifies that the rape must have been reported to law enforcement. This restriction cannot help but bring to mind the grief Republicans suffered in 2012 over Senate candidate Todd Akin’s appalling attempt to distinguish between “legitimate rape” and some other kind of rape.
Two arch-conservatives unveiled legislation on Friday to revoke the U.S. citizenship of anyone who seeks to join a group designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Expatriate Terrorist Act, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), amends the Immigration and Nationality Act so as to deny an American passport to — or strip the existing citizenship of — an individual
whom the Secretary has determined is a member, or is attempting to become a member, of an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist pursuant to section 12 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 13 U.S.C. 1189)."I believe these American terrorists have voluntarily renounced their citizenship upon taking an oath to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO)," King said in a statement.
[Digby]Great... you could be stripped of citizenship without even a trial. And seriously... can an ex post facto application of the law be far behind? An American citizen joins an organization, e.g., an Islamic charity; then the State Department (or FBI?) declares it a terrorist organization...
In case you are wondering why this is considered necessary, I'm guessing it's so that they can deny Americans their rights under the constitution. I would hope that it isn't possible to do this before they are convicted of anything (under the constitution) but once they are, I guess they could be sent to Guantanamo after President Huckabee expands it.
Facing a rebellion led by women in the party, House Republican leaders abruptly pulled legislation on Wednesday night to ban late-term abortion, unable to reconcile differences over language involving rape.(Bolds mine. - SB)
Instead the GOP decided to hold a vote on a measure seeking to outlaw taxpayer funding for abortion on Thursday, the day of the annual March For Life, a massive anti-abortion rally in Washington.
The original legislation would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a move polls say Americans support. The language that caused the chaos required women to report a sexual assault to the authorities in order to seek medical treatment to terminate a pregnancy.
...Just before the last election, the GOP answer was apparently "NO" ... they wouldn't substantially whack Social Security; there was ample political support for the 80-year-old program across the political spectrum. But there's nothing like winning an election to turn mild-mannered GOPers into raging, raving, right-wing demons. And apparently, post-election, this proposal is doing exactly that.
House Republicans have been transparent about their intentions of using the new rule to force a debate on changes to the program, while advocates and Democrats warned that the rule could lead to benefit cuts. But there is another possibility: Republicans could pass a short-term reallocation that would set up another shortfall a few years down the road -- and one that could arrive under a new Republican president.
It would in theory turn Social Security reallocation into something akin to the debt ceiling of the last few years: A formerly routine accounting move that the GOP is now trying to use as a leverage point to advance conservative proposals. Advocates told TPM that it was a scenario they were taking seriously.
"Just as with the debt limit, Congress could require regular short-term action, keeping a climate of crisis and requiring new legislation frequently," Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, told TPM. Advocates are pushing for a clean reallocation, which is projected to keep both funds solvent until 2033.
|See how your money flies!|
PERIES: So, Gerry, let's begin with what you see as changes as a result of this budget to Dodd-Frank rules and legislation.Read the whole thing; see the whole sorry scam. As CSN&Y sang in "Deja Vu," we have all been here before. Remember the S&L scandals and bailouts from about 1986 to 1995? Who paid for that? (Hint: it wasn't the scandalous S&Ls themselves!)
EPSTEIN: Well, it's outrageous what is going on. The Republicans and the Democrats are negotiating this huge budget bill, as you described, in order to prevent another government shutdown, which is an admirable thing to do.
But, of course, when this happens, people try to sneak in all kinds of irrelevant sort of wish-list bills in--provisions into these bills. And one of the most outrageous ones is the banks have stuck in a provision that's going to [blunt (?)] one of the most important aspects of the Dodd-Frank legislation, which, as you said, was designed to reduce the chances of another big financial crisis, and therefore it was designed to reduce the chances that the taxpayers would have to bail out these massive banks.
A provision of the Dodd-Frank that they're repealing by sticking this into this budget bill was designed to prevent the big banks from speculating using derivatives. These derivatives are these complex financial instruments that they use to speculate to make billions of dollars. But when they turn south, they caused Citicorp and Bank of America and these other big banks to virtually go bankrupt, and then the government bailed them out.
So the Dodd-Frank bill said, look, financial institutions can engage in these kinds of complex derivatives speculation if they want, but banks that are supported by the government through FDIC insurance, through deposit insurance, and through having access to the Federal Reserve bailouts and so forth, they can no longer engage in this kind of speculation. ...
And now they see the chance to get into this big must-do bill, and it's going to gut even further the Dodd-Frank legislation and make it much more likely that these big banks could start speculating or continuing to speculate, and it makes it much more likely that the taxpayer is going to have to bail them out again. ...
EPSTEIN: Well, first of all, they don't need to be doing this. There are all kinds of other institutions that can do it. But second of all, that's not how they use the derivatives. They use the derivatives to speculate on commodities. They use derivatives to speculate on municipal bonds, as we saw in Detroit. They use derivatives to cheat their customers. They use derivatives to cheat homeowners when they write these mortgages and pack them into these complex products, like collateralized debt obligations. And they do it with subsidized funds. That is, when these big banks that have deposit insurance and that they know the Federal Reserve will bail them out if they get into trouble, they get to borrow money more cheaply. Therefore, they get to speculate using cheaper money. They make much more profits. They pay their CEOs and their rainmakers millions and millions of dollars each year. And then, when things go bust, we have to bail them out.
What could go wrong? The bottom line here is that the legalities and the contractual relations and whatever moral commitments were made don’t really matter. What does matter is that whenever there’s a big pot of money lying around that theoreticallly should go to working people — say, retirement funds, but it could be anything — Congress can retrade whatever deal put the money into the pot, and years after the fact, too. Oh, and workers lose the right to challenge the cuts in court. Nice!
When House Republicans signaled last week that they would provoke a fight over Social Security in the next two years, progressive stalwarts like Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren decried the action, with Brown alleging the GOP wanted to "set the stage to cut benefits for seniors and disabled Americans.”(Bolds mine. - SB)
But notably silent on the Republican stance, which prevents what has been a routine transfer of revenue between the retirement and disability funds, upping the chances of a crisis for the latter in late 2016, was the Democratic official who might actually be at the table if conservatives succeed in forcing negotiations in the next Congress: President Barack Obama.
Who's our friend?
TPM asked multiple times last week for the White House's position on the House action, but never received a formal response, a stark contrast to the loud public pronouncements of Brown, Warren, and others. It also invokes the uneasy relationship between the White House and Social Security advocates, who were dismayed by Obama's willingness to accept cuts to the program during the 2011 grand bargain talks with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
...(Bolds mine. - SB)
... So what would [Republicans] say?
Well, I didn’t see that one coming: They’re claiming credit. Never mind the fact that all of the good data refer to a period before the midterm elections. Mitch McConnell, the new Senate majority leader, says that he did it, that growth reflected “the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
The response of the Democratic National Committee — “Hahahahahahaha” — seems appropriate. I mean, talk about voodoo economics: Mr. McConnell is claiming not just that he can create prosperity without, you know, actually passing any legislation, but that he can reach back in time and create prosperity before even taking power. But while Mr. McConnell’s self-aggrandizement is funny, it’s also scary, because it’s a symptom of his party’s epistemic closure. Republicans know many things that aren’t so, and no amount of contrary evidence will get them to change their minds.
At least Mr. McConnell didn’t do what many of his colleagues have done when faced with inconvenient facts: resort to conspiracy theories.
|Things Republicans Know|
PARIS — Two suspects wanted in the deadly terror attack on a satirical newspaper were killed in a police assault Friday north of Paris that coincided with an assault at a second hostage standoff at a kosher supermarket in the capital, according to multiple news sources.Not many details at the moment. I don't have any details on the second hostage situation, but I haven't stopped looking.
Cherif Kouachi, 32, and his older brother Said, 34, who had been cornered in a printing warehouse in the village of Dammartin-en-Goele, were killed in the operation, according to multiple news sites, including CNN, Le Monde and the AFP news agency,
|Geezer Bandit steals Congress|
...(Bolds mine. - SB)
The incoming GOP majority approved late Tuesday a new rule that experts say could provoke an unprecedented crisis that conservatives could use as leverage in upcoming debates over entitlement reform.
The largely overlooked change puts a new restriction on the routine transfer of tax revenues between the traditional Social Security retirement trust fund and the Social Security disability program. The transfers, known as reallocation, had historically been routine; the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said Tuesday that they had been made 11 times. The CBPP added that the disability insurance program "isn't broken," but the program has been strained by demographic trends that the reallocations are intended to address.
The House GOP's rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund -- but only if an accompanying proposal "improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds," per the rule, expected to be passed on Tuesday. While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts.
Councilman Kirby Delauter of Frederick County, Maryland lashed out on Saturday at a reporter for using his name in an article without his permission.I have a few words for Kirby Delauter. Mr. Delauter: you are an asshole. You do not even have Louie Gohmert's distinction of being an entertaining asshole. Your attitude makes me sorry I live on the same planet with you... but most of all it makes me grateful you do not represent me in any government body. You are just an asshole, no more,
In a Facebook post, Delauter slammed reporter Bethany Rodgers of the Fredericks News-Post "for an unauthorized use of my name and my reference" in an article over the weekend.
"So let me be clear," he continued, apparently addressing Rodgers, "do not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future."
Rodgers responded, telling the council member that reporters are not required to seek a public figure's permission before using his or her name.
Delauter responded with a threat: "Use my name again and you'll be paying for an Attorney [sic]."
|Who was that hirsute man?|
Clean Technica points out that the battery-making factory is on track to reduce battery prices by 30% by 2017, making EVs indisputably cheaper than fossil fuel-driven internal combustion, at less than $100 per kilowatt
hour. (Of course, if externalities are taken into account, like the cost of environmental disruption caused by global warming, EVs are already far, far cheaper than gasoline engines. Moreover, if coupled with rooftop solar panels, i.e. with free fuel, their pay-off time is even quicker and households can cut tons of CO2 emissions each year). [Bolds mine. - SB]
Not only will the gigafactory lead to cheaper auto batteries, it will also lead to better battery storage for home solar panels so you can store solar power and use it at night.
|Roadster (source: Wikipedia)|