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Sports betting & jet set preachers

by JeffStrate on July 10, 2018 · 0 comments

This segment from the upcoming August 2018 edition of Democratic Visions stands on its own with no explanatory copy needed about Mike “Stretch” Gelfand or his ruminations about sports betting and of the private jet preachers sucking big bucks from Christian evangelical faith communities to spread their version of The Gospel.  Mike splashes tart vinegar on two of these popular pulpit scammers.
We do these programs with lefty volunteers and no budget through Southwest Community Television at Bloomington Community Access Television, BCAT. Democratic Visions is carried by community access channels in Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield, Bloomington, Champlin, Anoka, Andover, Ramsey, St. Paul, Minneapolis and, soon, St. Louis Park.



About the Janus ruling

by Dan Burns on June 28, 2018 · 2 comments

scotus2A couple of items:

A 2015 study found strong empirical evidence that unions may help children move up the economic ladder.
According to the study, the New York Times reports, “Children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. The size of the effect is small, but there aren’t many other factors that are as strongly correlated with mobility.”
The positive impact of unions on children’s upward mobility isn’t exclusive to low-income children, the Times reporters note, and they extend beyond families with union workers to nonunion families too.
(Jeff Bryant/

After holding steady for decades, the percentage of American workers in all jobs who would say yes to join a union jumped sharply this past year, by 50%, says a new, independent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The evidence is clear: The popularity of the labor movement is surging as more people want to join unions than ever before. Every worker must have the freedom to negotiate in a union over pay, benefits and working conditions.

Comments below fold.



A high-realism love doll

‘Oh, a storm is threat’ning … My very life today … If I don’t get some shelter … Lord, I might – fade away.’
                                               Gimme Shelter ~ The Rolling Stones


Now that some of the apocalyptic nuclear dust has settled from the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the civil rights of same-sex couples in federal law, but while the subject is still fresh in the minds of the media-consuming public, I can’t help but point out that Conservatives — once again — have got it all wrong. At least they’re consistent.


There IS a very real threat to traditional marriage, but it doesn’t come from sundry gay folks conjoining in wanton acts of civil union so they can learn to hate each other after 10 or 12 years of disputatious conversations about patio furniture and wallpaper — just like regular folk do.


No, the real threat to traditional marriage comes from a direction that Radioactive Crack Monkeys like Limbaugh, Hannity, Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal haven’t even thought about.


I am speaking, of course, about highly realistic synthetic human love dolls.


By any measure, traditional marriage is about to take a hard one on the chin — and not because two guys or two gals are seen engaging in shameless PDA’s like hand-holding, or what we straights sometimes call Mormon First Base. It’ll be a hard right hook arcing up hidden in the blind spot that will lift Conservatives off their heels and rock their world in the very near future, and it will be thrown from the shoulder of highly realistic, animated synthetic human love dolls.


To be clear, I’m not talking about those inflatable plastic balloons that cost $14.95, that sometimes double as a pool toy, and were once ubiquitous in the party pits of frat houses across America — required décor along with black-light posters of chesty Mexican bar maids in embroidered peasant blouses, the omni-present Farah Fawcett poster on the door in the head, pull-tab chains from countless coke cans festooning the overhead pipes and rafters, a beer can pyramid in the corner, a lava lamp next to the turntable, a Zippo® lighter the size of a hard-cover book on the spool table, and spent condoms among the dust bunnies behind the couch.


No, I’m talking about those expensive, high tech love dolls — the kind that cost $12,000 and up. That’s what a new car used to cost not so very long ago. The newest embodiments of plastic gratification that do something more than just vibrate are getting so realistic they can almost pass muster as a bed friend you’ll want to tell your buddies about. And they’re just getting more realistic and more sophisticated with every passing year.


Anita, domestic ‘synth’ in the AMC television series ‘HUMANS’

The day is soon coming — the day is well nigh, O Zion — when the new AMC television series ‘HUMANS‘ will be more docu-drama than science fiction and ‘synths’ like Anita and Niska will be commonplace in bachelor pads around the world. Let’s be honest — Anita is a babe, appearance-wise. Niska, too, is a babe. She’s a dangerous murderous babe with the strength of a male chimp and the instincts of a wolverine, to be sure; but fully babe-ified nonetheless. Stupifyingly babe-ilicious.


In real-life, it should be pretty easy to program a realistic response-curve intimacy feedback algorithm (code-named: ++INTIMACY) based on a range of different inputs that generate appropriately-timed declarations, physical contortions, and vocalizations in a high end love doll that are adequately gratifying to the end user. Human sexual response is, after all, not all that much more sophisticated than two Gooney Birds trilling, high-jumping and bobbing their heads up and down in unison, when you really get down to it.


HTLD-3Not to mention that market forces will ensure that synthetic human love doll quality will continue to improve by leaps and bounds, while cost will continue to decrease precipitously, as it does with any high tech product. It’s a sure bet that once the right cost-benefit benchmark is attained, high tech synthetic human love dolls will be found in every every bachelor’s home, as commonplace as cell-phones and cable teevee. The reason is that high-tech synthetic human love dolls offer a number of clear advantages over traditional marriage:

More Below the Fold


One can only scratch one’s head when it comes to the incredulous nature of the Fox News Network. On a day as momentous, after a week as momentous as this, the O’Reilly Factor’s nightly feature is on global terror, completely ignoring today’s SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage.
Is it any wonder why or how Media Matters found that those who watch Fox News are less informed than those who don’t follow the news regularly via any format? So much for mainstream conservative media.


The Court this week has delivered a series of devastating blows to America’s conservative movement with their second decision affirming the constitutionality of Obamacare, today’s decision on same sex marriage along with another decision on discrimination in housing.


It’s been kind of funny watching the Fox crew attempting to recover from the multiple blows sustained by conservatives this week. Conservatives have been looking with regard to upending Obamacare to additional cases wending their way through the lower courts and hoping that these cases will somehow undo what’s already been settled. Political commentator Amy Walter, appearing on Fox News last night, pointed out that many of those cases have already been dismissed and that now with a second affirmative decision on Obamacare, most of the rest will probably be dismissed too or the Court will agree not to hear them.


And conservatives shouldn’t take to much solace in the idea that Obamacare will be undone on Capitol Hill either. Let’s be honest about one reality. Conservatives on Capitol Hill have voted some 50 times to repeal the A.C.A to no avail. Their last presidential effort was based in part in undoing the A.C.A and that failed too. To date the G.O.P. has failed to come up with an comprehensive alternative to the A.C.A. Thus what will change now? Not much likely with regard to Obamacare.



Anti-choice zealots fire up for more

by Dan Burns on December 14, 2014 · 1 comment

prochoiceIt won’t be long.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans plan to reignite debate over the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed in the House in 2013. Contrary to the argument put forth by proponents of the ban, the “science” underpinning the measure — that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation — has been debunked. But that’s not expected to stop Republicans from pushing a bill that might finally have a chance in the Senate.

Fanatics in Ohio already tried to get a six-week ban. It didn’t get through the state legislature. But they’ll try again, there and in a lot of other places.

An appeals court struck down an Arizona law that tried to, for all practical purposes, ban medication-induced abortion. We’ll probably find out this week, if the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the case. (Update: SCOTUS has declined to hear the case.)

Here is a useful discussion about maybe trying to add some different emphasis to the mix.

We need to see abortion as an urgent practical decision that is just as moral as the decision to have a child—indeed, sometimes more moral. Pro-choicers often say no one is “pro-abortion,” but what is so virtuous about adding another child to the ones you’re already overwhelmed by? Why do we make young women feel guilty for wanting to feel ready for motherhood before they have a baby? Isn’t it a good thing that women think carefully about what it means to bring a child into this world—what, for example, it means to the children she already has? We tend to think of abortion as anti-child and anti-motherhood. In media iconography, it’s the fetus versus the coat hanger: that is, abortion kills an “unborn baby,” but banning it makes women injure themselves. Actually, abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children, because part of caring for children is knowing when it’s not a good idea to bring them into the world.

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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:


(Cross-posted from
This great country’s founders feared and loathed corporations; the Boston Tea Party was a revolt against that era’s largest international corporation, the British East India Company. Of the hundreds that participated or watched tea being dumped from three British ships, only one (Francis Akeley) was arrested – and released due to lack of evidence. Clearly, our Founders had no love for the East India Company. There’s no mention of corporations in the Constitution; “We the people” is.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision expanding “personhood” of corporations is leading us down a path we really don’t want to go. Where might that be? “Nations are bankrupt, gone. Corporate society was an inevitable destiny.” Pay close attention to the question at the 2:00 minute mark….

(Direct link to YouTube here)

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imagesCA3IGJT0You know, these days, in this country, you might not even get this much agreement on a question like “Is there a God?”

A huge majority of Americans favor aggressive measures to stem the influence of money in politics, according to new poll results. The survey also suggests that framing the issue as an effort to fight corruption could help win even more support for the cause.
The poll, commissioned by the group and obtained exclusively by msnbc, found that 90% of respondents said they’d support a law that imposes tough new campaign finance laws. When “campaign finance” was changed to “corruption,” that figure rose to 97%, with 72% saying they would strongly support such laws.
There was essentially no partisan difference on the issue: 82% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans said reducing corruption is important.

I’m sorry to have to note, especially with the anniversary of Sandy Hook just days away, that some polls showed majorities almost as overwhelming, favoring elements of gun regulation at the federal level, and that didn’t happen.
I’ve seen rumors, now and then, of either Anthony Kennedy or Antonin Scalia planning to retire from the U.S. Supreme Court, before too much longer. I dare not hope. I suspect that the Court’s current right-wing majority regards itself as a last line of defense in a titanic struggle against agents of evil like our progressive selves.

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Corrupt Clarence Still Needs To Go

by Dan Burns on July 11, 2012 · 0 comments

I’ve posted before about the wildly unethical behavior of ultra-conservative U.S. Supreme Court “Justice” Clarence Thomas.  After all that came to light, you’d think that he would have cleaned up his act.  No way. With a level of arrogance typically seen only in, for example, a “heel” in pro wrestling (perhaps other born-and-raised Minnesotans, in my age group, recall the likes of Nick Bockwinkel):

You know the old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”? Here we go again. Via U.S. News:
Now, just days after healthcare law was upheld (with Clarence Thomas dissenting), new financial forms show that Thomas’s wife, Ginni, continued to rake in a profit from opposing healthcare reforms in 2011-even after she previously came under fire for doing so.


Justice Thomas, along with Justice Antonin Scalia, has accepted paid vacation junkets and speaking engagements at conservative think tanks, Koch Brother strategy retreats, and Tea Party gatherings – in a few cases just weeks before ruling on cases these interests had before the court, including Citizens United.

There is no possible basis for continuing to allow, unchallenged, Thomas’s presence on the court – which, next term, will likely take up challenges to affirmative action, the very existence of both public- and private-sector labor unions, and what little regulation remains on corporate campaign finance spending, just for starters.