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Today in Racists

[ 97 ] February 6, 2014 |

Texas Attorney General and likely next governor, Greg Abbott:

Greg Abbott unveiled his latest policy proposal in Dallas yesterday, a border security proposal that Abbott called his “Securing Texans Plan.” Abbott’s proposal would double spending on border security, costing $300 million over the next 2 years. He has called for hiring 500 more state troopers and spending millions on new high-tech security equipment.

In his speech, Abbott justified his proposal by comparing the South Texas border region to a third-world country. Said Abbott: “This creeping corruption resembles third world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroy Texans’ trust and confidence in government.”

His entire proposal was replete with militaristic rhetoric that characterized South Texas as a war zone that wasn’t really part of Texas. In describing his border plan, Abbott said, “We must do more to protect our border going beyond sporadic surges…I’ll add more boots on the ground, more assets in the air and on the water, and deploy more technology and tools for added surveillance.” He instead proposed a “continuous surge” of state troopers to the region.

I like the subtle equation of “Texan” as “white” by defining South Texas as un-American. Those are dog whistles that many in the Lone Star State hear loud and clear.

Dead Horses in American History (I)

[ 66 ] February 5, 2014 |

How have I blogged here for 2 1/2 years without exposing you all to my collection of dead horse images? Over the next week, it’s time to change that and fill a gap in your life you didn’t know existed.

Dead horse washed into tree by flood, near Louisville, Kentucky, 1937

Good News from the NLRB

[ 15 ] February 5, 2014 |

This is very positive news from the National Labor Relations Board:

A proposal to streamline union elections that was slammed by Mitt Romney and scrapped by a Woody Allen-quoting judge is being revived by the National Labor Relations Board, the agency announced Wednesday morning.

“Unnecessary delay and inefficiencies hurt both employees and employers,” NLRB chairman Mark Pearce said in an emailed statement. While emphasizing that “No final decisions have been made,” Pearce argued the proposed changes “would modernize the representation case process and fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act.” The new move by the NLRB, the federal agency charged with interpreting and enforcing private sector labor law, was made by a 3-2, party-line vote. It sets in motion a multi-month process, including an April public hearing, leading up to a final vote.

By changing how challenges to voter eligibility are handled, the proposed rule change has the potential to shorten the period between when non-union workers petition for a government-supervised election to win union recognition, and the date when the election actually takes place. Then-presidential contender Mitt Romney slammed the proposed changes in 2011, charging that Obama’s “out-of-control labor board continues to trample on the rights of workers, the interests of job creators, and the rule of law” and would “force employees into ‘quickie’ union elections” and thus “benefit only union bosses, while preventing employees from making an informed decision about unionization and preventing employers from challenging illegal activity.”

But hey, those Obama appointed NLRB members making it easier for workers to join unions show once again that there is no meaningful difference between the two parties and thus Rand Paul is the only progressive alternative in 2016.

Water News and Notes

[ 26 ] February 5, 2014 |

Variety of water related news on a work filled Wednesday.

1. Richard Lyon has a good run-down on the political side of the California drought. House Republicans are looking to pass a bill that will gut environmental protections for San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin delta and divert a ton of money into more and bigger dams that won’t really solve any of the real problems involved in California’s water supply. Jerry Brown opposes this bill, as does Dianne Feinstein. And for good reason:

The bill unwinds key parts of a landmark 1992 law that directed more water to protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It repeals an expensive San Joaquin River restoration program that Congress approved five years ago. It strips wild-and-scenic protections from a half-mile of the Merced River in order to potentially expand McClure Reservoir. It lengthens federal irrigation contracts and preempts some state law.

It’s also strongly opposed by the Brown administration in California, whose top natural resources official wrote House leaders Friday to say the bill “falsely holds the promise of water relief that cannot be delivered.”

“This is not a time to start an argument over water we don’t have,” Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird said in a telephone interview Friday. “It would be really helpful not to do something that pits one part of the state against another.”

Effectively, California Republicans are taking advantage of an environmental crisis to gut environmental laws and regulations. Get out your fainting couches, I know this is shocking.

Beth Pratt has more on the issue. And clearly, salmon protections are the ultimate problem with California water supplies….

2. Oceans are getting might toasty. And in 2013, ocean temperature skyrocketed. This, to say the least, ain’t good.

3. Greg Hanscom on one of the most contentious issues surrounding water today–to what extent should taxpayers subsidize people living in flood zones along the coasts through the National Flood Insurance Program. There is no easy answer to this question. If developers choose to rebuild in areas destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, what should the insurance look like? And if we choose not to subsidize that development like in the past, who will pay the cost when the next hurricane hits? The developers? Homeowners? The poor increasingly forced to live in flood zones because land will be cheaper? The politics around this are very hard.

Prosecuting The People Who Caused the Economic Crisis Would Be Just Like Auschwitz

[ 304 ] February 4, 2014 |

The Wall Street Journal doubles down on the claim that criticizing the 1% could lead to the next Holocaust.

Fluke for Congress!

[ 142 ] February 4, 2014 |

Well this is certainly interesting:

Reproductive health care advocate Sandra Fluke has filed papers to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in California. According to the Washington Post, the former Georgetown University student is running in the Democratic primary to fill the seat left vacant by the retirement of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

A spokesperson for the California Democratic Party confirmed to the Post that Fluke has filed paperwork to run in the primary for California’s 33rd District. Other candidates for the seat include former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel (D) and state Sen. Ted Lieu (D).

Since I’m not in California, I can’t speak to the qualities of Greuel or Lieu, but certainly Fluke seems to combine the national exposure and professionalism one would want in a candidate. She’ll be a huge fundraiser and really could be a rising star in the Democratic Party. Plus this will send conservatives a-frothing like never before. I don’t know her position on economic issues and I definitely want to hear more about that, but this is quite promising.


[ 23 ] February 3, 2014 |

On Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to see the amazing guitarist Marc Ribot play. The show was filmed, albeit with a stationary camera. Here is the first 19 minutes of the first song (the rest of the show is also on YouTube in various clips). You can really watch Ribot’s hands operate here, which is great to watch. Actually, you can see them much better than at the club since he sits hunched over his guitar not really facing the crowd. The rest of the band is pretty awesome too. Henry Grimes is on bass. You can kind of see the back of Cooper-Moore’s head as he plays piano. Chad Taylor is the drummer. This show was 1:25 of amazing free jazz at its finest. Plus that’s me clapping in the background (with the 50 other people who were there).

Picturing the French Revolution

[ 14 ] February 3, 2014 |

The French Revolution Digital Archive is now online, providing us access to 14,000 digitized images from the time. Good stuff for all you who teach this stuff and for those who are generally curious. They include some rather NSFW politicized erotic images as well. Although does NSFW apply to the 18th century?


Where Mexican-Americans Live

[ 359 ] February 3, 2014 |

An examination of where Mexican-Americans live in the United States shows they still mostly live in Mexico, or at least what Mexico was before the United States unjustly stole it between 1846-48. When we talk about immigration, we too often forget that Mexicans (along with indigenous peoples) were the rightfully owners of this land and that they did not cross the border, the border crossed them.

Your 2014 Super Bowl Champions

[ 42 ] February 2, 2014 |

I’d say my 40s have started out pretty well.

The Ballad of Two Brothers

[ 60 ] January 30, 2014 |

A very special treat for everyone tonight. Of all the right-wing anti-hippie country songs from the late 60s and early 70s, none, and I mean none, reach the magisterial bizarre glory of Autry Inman’s “The Ballad of Two Brothers.” This is very, very special.


[ 154 ] January 30, 2014 |

Thing is, Mitt actually seems more electable than most of the frequently mentioned possible 2016 GOP candidates.

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