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Artist's conception. Not actually  a Republican primary voter

Artist’s conception. Not actually a Republican primary voter

So this is a bit scary. From a poll of likely Republican primary voters, and consider these are the people picking a major party candidate:


q23 Do you think that the Government is trying to
take over Texas or not?
The Government is trying to take over Texas 32%
The Government is not trying to take over Texas 40%
Not sure 28%

How nice that a plurality could recognize stupidity. However, add the believers and the undecided, and 60% of Republicans believe it’s somewhere between plausible and true that Jade Helm 15 is a cover for martial law or locking up the “patriots” in empty Walmarts. The only patriots locked up in Walmart are the workers locked in when their shifts are over but their managers want some free labor.

The PPP poll asked about presidential candidates and the results will affect #ThisGuyWantsToBePresident, but first, a slight tangent related to Jade Helm 15. A different poll had an unexpected result:

The Rasmussen survey found that particular concern was partisan: 50 percent of conservatives believed military training exercises would lead to greater federal control of some states. By contrast, 67 percent of liberals and 58 percent of those who identified as moderates said they weren’t concerned, according to the survey.

That’s right, you’re not seeing things. Liberals trust the armed forces more than conservatives do. This is foolish when there were troops in the streets of Minneapolis just today. I saw them! Are they seizing my guns? Are they planning to lock us up? Are they … having lunch in the same restaurant I am … oh. Right, Fort Snelling is close by. Never mind.
OK, enough laughing at the loonies and back to how the PPP poll affects #ThisGuyWantsToBePresident. The beginning idea is that by the time we know who the Republican candidate will be, the foibles of early 2015 will have gone down the memory hole no matter how relevant. So the hashtag can be searched on Twitter (and maybe Facebook to some degree) and the hashtag or the title can be searched here. Since the candidate could be anyone being talked about in national media, the idea was to just track them all. That seemed more plausible when there were fewer of them, but Rachel Maddow the other night counted 20 that are either officially running, unofficially running, or making “look at me!” noises and are too plausible as candidates to be blown off. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I give in. I can’t follow that many. Time to cull the sprouts, much earlier than planned, but I still don’t want to rely on my own sense that “no way this guy is going to win”. I want some data, and that linked PPP poll is rich in it.


We have an issue in our legislature relating to sex and science.  Not surprising, we have a divide along political lines relating to the issues, with conservatives rejecting the science and medical opinion.


Conservatives are consistently wrong on these issues, and their being wrong does real harm to real people.  Conservatives have faulty information, and worse values.  Transgender children and LGBT children are as much a part of their families and communities as any other children.


Hooray for the democrats in the Minnesota legislature, especially in the Senate for their vote in support of transgender children in our schools, as part of the education policy omnibus bill.

Boo! No! Wrong! Bad! to conservatives, republican or more fringie extreme for pushing an anti-transgender children legislation that would not benefit any of our children or adults, but which only promotes ignorance on the subject of gender identity.


The largest organization focused on factual information and policy on this topic is WPATH, which sides with the Dems against the GOP:


The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recognizes the right of all people to legal identity recognition and to identity documents consonant with their gender identity.


Conservatives want to push sexual attitudes and knowledge back to another century, to a reproductive and sexuality dark ages.  Conservatives as a group, as a voting block, as a demographic, are terribly lacking in knowledge and have a failed attitude towards any aspect of human sexuality.


what the reality of
conservative ignorance
looks like – an avoidable
chlamydia outbreak

They do not understand gender identity, and they do not understand their own human sexuality — if the rate of divorce, cheating on spouses in marriage, use of pornography (including homosexual porn), and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and underage teen birthrates are anything to go by as a metric.


We see this in the Chlamydia outbreak in Texas, in a school which has embraced religious rightwing  abstinence only sex ed, which provides factually inaccurate information to students, and which largely do not provide sexual information at all.


In Crane High School, in Crane, Texas, the superintendent of schools finally admitted that abstinence only sex ed does not work — although this has been clear for a long time, by objective, scientific research. From the WaPo:


“We do have an abstinence curriculum, and that’s evidently ain’t working,” Rumage told KFOR. “We need to do all we can, although it’s the parents’ responsibility to educate their kids on sexual education.”


In spite of not accomplishing the stated goal of abstinence only sex ed, conservatives in Texas have thrown more money down this s*it hole of abstinence only sex ed. Keep in mind that in addition to equipping students for life as adults with complete and factually accurate information on all aspects of sex and human reproduction, including sexually transmitted diseases and safe sex.  Most recently in Texas, as another example of failed conservative thinking, the legislature defunded HIV Prevention, to fund instead more abstinence only sex ed.  From the Texas Observer:


House Votes to Defund HIV Prevention to Pay for Abstinence Education

Texas has the third highest rate of HIV infections in the country, but that didn’t stop lawmakers from passing an amendment that defunds HIV/STD prevention programs Tuesday. The amendment to the House budget proposal—offered by Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman)—diverts $3 million over the next biennium to abstinence-only sexual education programs.
House Democrats fought against the amendment in a debate that rapidly devolved into awkward farce, with Rep. Spitzer revealing details of his own sexual history as proof of the effectiveness of abstinence. For those keeping tabs at home, he was a virgin until marrying his wife at age 29, although he declined to answer a question from Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) on whether she was the first person he propositioned. “Decorum,” shouted state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs).
Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) asked Spitzer just how much money is needed for abstinence education in Texas, which receives more federal funding than any other state. Spitzer responded that additional funds are needed as long as people are still having sex before marriage.  His goal, he said, was for everyone to know that “abstinence is the best way to prevent HIV.”
“My goal is for everyone to be HIV/AIDS free,” Turner said.


For all the good it would do, Turner might as well religiously sacrifice a goat or a chicken, on an alter on the Texas legislature steps to accomplish the same thing… or more precisely FAIL to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.



Salute to the U.S. flag devised by pledge of allegiance author Francis Bellamy, known as the Bellamy salute

This series on flag propaganda by the radical right details specific examples of  how lies and manipulation of information is being used to polarize this country, and how it acts to create a vulnerable and gullible group of well meaning conservatives susceptible to ginned up wedge issues to turn out the vote.


We had another one of these many and continuing stories this past week or so, all over the right wing propaganda machine, pandering to conservative prejudice and ignorance.


The latest pseudo-scandal in the ongoing misinformation campaign about our flag by conservatives comes from Florida, specifically the Miami PD where this propaganda is being combined with conservative fascism to attack both freedom of religion, feminism and immigrants — the ultimate in Us vs Them politics — by targeting a black  Muslim woman who is an assistant chief of police in a deep southern state  as the most recent example of flag propaganda.


From the
Miami PD Supports Muslim Assistant Police Chief Who Was Criticized For Not Pledging To Flag

A muslim Assistant Police Chief was within her rights to not salute the American flag during a police ceremony

The Miami Police Department said Assistant Chief Of Police Anita Najiy followed proper code when deciding not to salute the American flag while in uniform during a recent promotional ceremony. According to the Miami Herald, Maj. Delrish Moss said,

“the military code of conduct supersedes police code and that Najiy properly followed that code. While the department’s code of conduct allows for a reprimand if an officer doesn’t salute the flag, it makes no mention of covering the heart during the pledge.”

Najiy was harshly criticized by the Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Javier Ortiz, who publicized the incident insisted that Najiy, who did stand at attention during the ceremony, did not place her hand on her heart because she is a Muslim.

Najiy, a 31-year veteran of the agency and devout Muslimah, made history in Miami last year as an African-American and as a female by being appointed Assistant Chief of Police. It was the first time in the history of the Miami Police Department that a female member was appointed to Assistant Chief of Police. During the ceremony last year, Chief Manuel Orosa said, “I am privileged to select Commander Najiy as one of my assistant chiefs. Our 116-year city has witnessed many milestones, but this, by far, is one of the greatest of our history.”

In response to Ortiz statements, The Miami Police Benevolent Association released a statement on Wednesday criticizing Ortiz’s obsession with tearing down Naijay, saying Ortiz was being hypocritical, considering he himself did not salute the flag because he was busy taping Najiy. The Association said,

“Racism cloaked in patriotism is a huge insult to the American flag, the city of Miami Police Department and the countless hate and anti-Muslim filled rants generated by the recent antics of the FOP president; those two things seem to be the genesis of the current false controversy.”


So, NO, this woman did not fail to put her hand over her heart because she is a Muslim (gasp! <sarcasm>) who hates America, as conservatives want people to believe.  She did it because that was the correct protocol, the correct FORM of respect for her to follow.  There was no anti-American sentiment, no disloyalty or disrespect involved whatsoever.  But THAT is not the factual version circulated by flag propagandists like Fox News and Breitbart seeking to factually alter the real ‘narrative’, as noted by Freethoughtblogs,com:



Abortion rights in the Minnesota legislature

by Dan Burns on April 29, 2015 · 0 comments

prochoiceFirst, a bit of kind-of-good news, from the Capitol.

Minnesota legislators voted down an amendment last week that would have required increased inspection and licensing requirements for clinics that provide abortion services, increasingly common regulations passed by GOP-dominated state legislatures.
An amendment sponsored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) to the Minnesota Health and Human Services omnibus bill was defeated in the state senate by a 32-29 vote, mostly along partisan lines, with four anti-choice Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure.
(RH Reality Check)

But that didn’t stop the zealots, yesterday, in the House.

There were amendments pertaining to the unborn, as well.
Offered by Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston), one would require licensure of clinics that perform 10 or more abortions per month. It passed 76-57.
Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights) called the amendment a “red herring” that seeks to restrict abortions by causing clinics to go out of business due to expensive licensing requirements.
Rep. Tama Theis (R-St. Cloud) successfully offered an amendment to prohibit state-funded abortions. Called “unconstitutional” by minority-party members, it also passed 76-57.
(Session Daily)

According to an e-mail I got from NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, the first of those, which would set ridiculous conditions for licensure, could close down 80% of the state’s facilities where women can currently choose to exercise their rights to safe, legal access. That was the deal with the Senate bill, too.
Respect for women’s rights has not been the case in most current political contexts. Among other things, sworn fealty to harsh, senseless 20-week abortion bans seems to be required for all GOP presidential candidates.


marriageEqualityForAllAs we see the religious right take another hit or two on the chin from the masters of the conservatives — Business, NOT Jesus, not conservative organized religion — it is worth a mention of some of the history behind legislation against same sex marriage.

Conservatives want us all to take their sloppy scholarship view that marriage has always been exclusively between one man and one woman.  Apart from the painfully obvious facts that monogamy is not a societal or historical by any stretch of the imagination, the idea that same sex marriages have not been a fixture in human history is also a mistaken one.  For those of you contemplating sitting across from crotchety old relatives as likely to be wearing a tin foil as wrapping up holiday leftovers with it, here is a bit of background for you, should you opt to present the facts to the minds inside those tin foil hats.


The current challenge for the legality of same-sex unions arguably can be traced to Hennepin County,  Minnesot, back in 1971, when two gay men attempted to get married.  The case went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which found that while there were no actual laws defining marriage one way or the other, they found instead that a basis for exclusively heterosexual marriage existed in common law.  That argument is still being pushed — factually falsely — by some conservatives, including the radical (one might say rabid) religious right.


From an article about the case, in the HuffPo back  in 2012:


International Women’s Day – 2015

by Dog Gone on March 8, 2015 · 1 comment

Celebrate the women and girls in your life, your world, their value and their equality.


Learn from Women’s History month this month what women HAVE accomplished to better understand and encourage what women and girls can NEXT accomplish.


Katherine Johnson is 96; she is still with us. Because she is both a woman, and a black woman who lived through and made advances during the civil rights era, it is doubly apt that she be given recognition on the day that is also the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma. For all of her remarkable abilities and contributions, Katherine Johnson would have had to sit at the back of the bus, use colored only restrooms, could be denied service in restaurants before civil rights legislation and civil rights SCOTUS victories. From a 2008 NASA biography:

Not that she ever thought she wasn’t equal.

“I didn’t have time for that,” said Johnson in her Hampton home. “My dad taught us ‘you are as good as anybody in this town, but you’re no better.’ I don’t have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I’m as good as anybody, but no better.”

But probably a lot smarter. She was a “computer” at Langley Research Center “when the computer wore a skirt,” said Johnson. More important, she was living out her life’s goal, though, when it became her goal, she wasn’t sure what it involved.

Johnson was born in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va., where school for African-Americans stopped at eighth grade. Her father, Joshua, was a farmer who drove his family 120 miles to Institute, W. Va., where education continued through high school and then at West Virginia State College. He would get wife Joylette a job as a domestic and leave the family there to be educated while he went back to White Sulfur Springs to make a living.

Katherine skipped though grades to graduate from high school at 14, from college at 18, and her skills at mathematics drew the attention of a young professor, W.W. Schiefflin Claytor.

Katherine Johnson.

Katherine Johnson’s work at NASA’s Langley Research Center spanned 1953 to 1986 and included calculating the trajectory of the early space launches.

Photo Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.
Click on the images for a larger view

“He said, ‘You’d make a good research mathematician and I’m going to see that you’re prepared,’ ” she recalled.

“I said, ‘Where will I get a job?’

“And he said, ‘That will be your problem.’

From FB’s Daily Random Science Fact:


{ 1 comment }

Today’s fact-check on choice

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2015 · 0 comments

oconnor“10 Things I’d Tell the Pro-Life Fanatics.”

However, 46% of women who get abortions weren’t using a contraceptive method the month they got pregnant, indicating that conservative policies that discourage regular contraception use—everything from abstinence-only education to objecting to any measures that make contraception cheaper and easier to obtain—have been effective in keeping women from using contraception as regularly as they should. In addition, abortion rates are much higher for women living in poverty, and three quarters of women getting abortions say they can’t afford a child. If anti-choicers start moaning about the high rate of abortions, ask them what they intend to do about it. Do they want to make birth control free for all women? What about expansive social welfare that makes it easier for pregnant women living in poverty to say yes to having this baby? Most anti-choicers are generally conservative, and most will get really angry really quick if you start to mention concrete solutions to lower the abortion rate.

Apparently a few anti-choice zealot bills have been introduced in the Minnesota legislature. They’re pretty much the same things that appear every session, from the usual suspects, and thankfully they won’t get far. No way am I scanning the many hundreds of House bill introductions, yet again, to track down the individual numbers. My understanding is that one would create an effective ban on medication abortion, by requiring a degree of medical supervision far beyond all reason for a procedure known for exceptional rarity of adverse side effects.

A large new study in the journal Contraception effectively debunks the rationale for passing restrictions on abortion-inducing pills, a legislative trend that often slips under the radar but that threatens to make it all the way up to the Supreme Court. In light of the findings, the lead researchers conclude that “politics should never trump science.”
The new research, which tracked more than 13,000 women’s medication abortions at Planned Parenthood health centers in Los Angeles over a five-year period, confirms that an off-label regimen for providing medication abortion is very safe. That finding stands in direct contrast to an increasing number of state laws that specifically prevent doctors from prescribing this effective regimen – legislation that is misleadingly framed in terms of women’s “health and safety.”
(Think Progress)

(Regarding the image, I checked, and unlike so many memes from Facebook, O’Connor really did write that.)


Minnesota tries to move forward on sick leave

by Dan Burns on February 10, 2015 · 0 comments

mncapitol2Here’s the Minnesota Benefits website.


Minnesota Benefits advocates for new legislation to create earned sick days for more than one million Minnesotans. This would benefit people who currently don’t have the right to earn any sick days whatsoever. The plan will allow one hour of earned sick time per every 30 hours worked.
Those with full-time jobs will be able to earn up to nine sick days, and those with part-time jobs can earn up to five. Small companies will also have a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave for employees per year.
Sick leave is not the only issue that Minnesota Benefits aims to address. The proposed legislation also brings up “safe time,” or time taken off because of domestic violence, stalking or assault. Some women are currently in danger of losing their job because they choose to stay home for reasons relating to domestic violence.
(Minnesota Daily)

The bill is HF 549. I don’t know what its chances might be, in this largely gridlock session. I have my doubts, and hopefully am in for a good surprise. Minnesota would become the fourth state in the country, to deal with this.


Senate attacks choice in multiple ways

by Dan Burns on January 12, 2015 · 0 comments

prochoiceThe United States Senate got busy, pandering to the zealots, in a hurry.

(Sen. “Diaper” Dave) Vitter’s (R-LA) proposed requirement that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges with a local hospital would likely close many safe, legal clinics for no sound medical reason, which has already happened in Texas and other states.
His proposed ban on sex-selective abortions is one that reproductive rights activist decry as being both unnecessary and racist.
And under the guise of “non-discrimination,” another bill would allow health-care providers to refuse women abortion care even in cases of emergency.
Combined with the U.S. House’s speedy introduction of a national 20-week abortion ban bill on Tuesday, Republican legislators introduced a total of five anti-choice bills in the first three days of the new Congress.
These aggressive moves sharply contrast with the promises of the midterm election campaign, when many conservative candidates downplayed their anti-choice views, misled about their views of abortion and contraception access, and scoffed at the idea of a “war on women.”
(RH Reality Check)

It doesn’t look like Senate Republicans will remove the easy, non-talking filibuster for legislation. GOP leaders know the odds are that in 2016 Democrats will hold the presidency and take the Senate back, and they don’t want to have lost the filibuster, themselves, when back in the minority. (Yes, I know the concern trolling about Hillary’s election is already endemic. Much of it from the same people who were absolutely certain that President Obama had no chance at reelection.)
However, there are, according to NARAL, currently only 37 reliably pro-choice votes in the Senate, in a country where over 70% oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. Just how hard those in charge will push the extremism there, in practice, remains to be seen. That they let a national laughingstock like Vitter introduce this legislation may indicate, not all that hard. But that’s not definitive.


Conservative economic war on poor women

by Dan Burns on December 29, 2014 · 0 comments

LnYAxnmXFRKfSBF-556x313-noPadI put “conservative” instead of “Republican” in the title, because plenty of Democrats are shamefully complicit as well. This article notes that much of the “Cromnibus” in general was a status quo thing, which means that low-income women didn’t do well. Conservative socioeconomic priorities are essentially grounded in exploitation.

Another step backward is a $93 million cut (about 1.4 percent) to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which gives food aid to low-income families.
But the status quo is already backwards, and has been for a long time, for groups who struggle to access safe and legal abortion care.
Lawmakers had little appetite this year to even consider lifting several long-standing prohibitions on federal funding for abortions, which hits women of color and poor women the hardest.
(RH Reality Check)

TANF continues to erode.

Cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children fell again in purchasing power in 2014 and are now at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 38 states, after adjusting for inflation. While eight states raised Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits between July 2013 (the start of fiscal year 2014 in most states) and July 2014, the remaining states did not, allowing inflation to continue to erode the benefits’ value. (No state cut TANF benefits in nominal dollars in the past year.) For 99 percent of TANF recipients nationally, the purchasing power of their benefits is below 1996 levels, after adjusting for inflation. As the country moves past the economic downturn and public coffers regain strength, states should halt the erosion of TANF benefits and begin restoring the purchasing power lost over the past 18 years.
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)