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Sat May 23, 2015 at 09:00 PM PDT

Sunday Talk: Not enough circuses

by Silly Rabbit

Faced with the prospect of a GOP presidential field that rivals the Duggar family in size (as well as religiosity and sexual perversity/
depravity), the TV networks hosting the primary debates are being forced to make a "Sophie's choice" (#ThanksObama) about who gets to participate.

Mathematically speaking, fitting everyone in one clown car would be a logistical nightmare.

And so, this week, the Fox News Channel—which will be hosting the first debateannounced that they are limiting participation to the top ten (official) candidates.

Full Disclosure: News Corp., Fox News' parent company, has made some (allegedly) "charitable" donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Meanwhile, CNN—which will be hosting the second debate—announced that they, too, will be limiting participation to the top ten; but, unlike Fox News, they will also provide a kiddie car for the rest of the clowns.

At this point, it's unclear who will appear in the big tent, and who will be in the sideshow.

Stay tuned to find out.

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What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...

  • Do not call me girl: Women in the workforce, by Susan Grigsby
  • Memorial Day and Flanders Fields, by Mark E Andersen
  • How did you begin to unlearn racism, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • The promise of NewSpace, by DarkSyde
  • The perils of trying to define 'an accurate pollster,' by Steve Singiser
  • $15 minimum wage in L.A. is great. But it was only necessary because a Democratic Congress blew it, by Ian Reifowitz
  • American reality distorted by media coverage and police response, by Egberto Willies

A wild boar and domestic pigs from Charles Darwin's
A wild boar and domestic pigs from Darwin's The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication
In 2001, Michael Pollan authored a fine popular science book called The Botany of Desire. The work provides an interesting and insightful short history into four of the most common plants in our world: the tulip, marijuana, the apple and the potato. For each of these plants, we learn something of their origin, how they are grown today, and the path they've taken to become so utterly ubiquitous.

There are fascinating tales hidden under each leaf. Apples, as it turns out, do not "come true" from seed, and must be reproduced from grafted cuttings. As a result, every Red Delicious apple you've ever crunched into is a clone from a tree that popped up in Madison County, Iowa, some time in the middle of the 19th century. And if you were to plant the seeds from that apple, exactly none of them would look or taste like a Red Delicious. Instead you'd get apples of different colors and sizes, almost all of them just short of inedible.

The story behind each plant is so interesting that it's easy to miss Pollan's primary point. The subtitle of the book is A Plant's-Eye View of the World and that's just what he intended to do in the work: flip the way in which we usually understand the selective pressures behind domesticated plants on its human-centric head. Rather than looking at how we make plants into what we want, Pollan projects things in starkly different terms. How have some plants, by offering something that we desire (beauty, intoxication, sweetness, and sustenance in the canonical four), persuaded humans to remove them from their original, limited niches and turn them into worldwide champions? We usually look on it as people adapting plants to their needs. Pollan looks at it as plants enlisting humans to play the role of rather large bees.

It's similar to the argument that many authors have made about dogs versus wolves. Wolves, the ancestor of all domesticated dogs, are beautifully adapted predators—in a world open to creatures which need to roam long distances without being shot, blocked by fences, or flattened by automobiles. A few tens of thousands of years ago, a small group of wolves became uniquely fixated on the behavior of human beings. Currently, there are something on the order of 550 million dogs on planet Earth. There are perhaps a quarter of a million wolves. We may think that we've manipulated characteristics of a predator that was a threat (to our livestock if not ourselves) and turned them into helpmates and companions. You can look at it that way, or you can say that a few minor modifications were required to turn humans into a vector for spreading wolves around the planet.

But if it's valid to look at the relationship between people and plants, or people and animals, as being driven from either end ... how about the relationship between people and technology?

Head below the fold to find out.

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Reposted from Comics by ericlewis0

strip 252 panel 1

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Progressive State Blog Banner #1
This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At The Left Hook of California, Sarah McDermott writes—Hyatt Workers March for Justice:

Silicon Valley is booming, and it is service workers like those at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara that are making this boom possible. While the region’s top tech firms made a record $103 billion in profits in 2013, one in three Silicon Valley households does not make enough money to meet their most basic needs. It is literally a “Tale of Two Cities.”

But workers at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara are not just sitting idly by and letting this happen. They are standing up and demanding justice and respect on the job! These workers are asking all people to honor the boycott of their own workplace and pledge NOT to EAT, SLEEP, MEET, or SPEND ANY MONEY at their hotel until they achieve a fair election process to organize without intimidation from management, a process that Hyatt has agreed to at other properties all over the country!

Hotel jobs like housekeeper, cook, bellman, dishwasher, and others often pay at the poverty level, while hotels like the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara rake in millions from tech related conferences and conventions. But where workers are organized, they have won fair wages, benefits, and job security. Their continued organizing ensures that hotel workers and all service workers share in the growing prosperity of Silicon Valley.

At 11 o’clock this morning, guests and clients of the Hyatt Santa Clara will be greeted by more than the registration desk today.  A demonstration out front will demand justice for Hyatt workers, and show Hyatt that the working people of Silicon Valley will not back down!

Check out more progressive state blog excerpts below the orange gerrymander.
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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Labor organizations oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade deal in a rally outside of the Capitol in May 2014.
The Senate advanced fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday. It's still most definitely worth turning a critical eye to the deal, as the Economic Policy Institute's Josh Bivens does in a takedown of a recent New York Times article by Binyamin Appelbaum:
First, on the gains from trade policy (i.e., how much we should expect national income to rise if we sign trade agreements), Appelbaum refers to a piece from the Peterson Institute of International Economics claiming that trade liberalization added 7.3 percent of GDP to American incomes by 2005—about $9000-10,000 per American household. This is just not true. It’s a wildly inflated number that should not be in the policy debate (and if you need much smarter and better-credentialed people making the some point—here’s Dani Rodrik). This number is an effort to bully people into going along with today’s trade agreements by making them think the stakes are utterly enormous. In fact, even if it was correct (again, it’s not) this study would be irrelevant to today’s trade policy debates because the sum total of economic gains from all post-1982 trade agreements (this includes NAFTA, the completion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the formation of the WTO, and the permanent normal trading relations with China) is estimated to be just $9 per household, meaning that  99.9 percent of the gains from trade estimated in the study happened before 1982. So even if trade liberalization really did spur mammoth gains at some point in the (distant) past, the effects were over by the early 1980s.

Second, on the distribution of gains and losses from trade, it is striking to me that so many economists who favor signing every trade agreement that comes down the pike can still feign surprise that expanded trade seems to be bad for most workers’ wages. Put simply, it is completely predicted in textbook trade economics that wages for most workers will fall and inequality will rise when the United States trades more with poorer trading partners. Yes, expanded trade is predicted to lead to higher overall national income, but it is also predicted to redistribute enough income within the United States that it can (and is likely to) make most workers worse-off. This should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the topic.

Of course, there are things that shouldn't be a surprise and things that are actively covered up.

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.

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It is imminent. The end of their world. Prepare the shelterboxes for Bryan Fischer and his fellow Christian warriors who are surely going to need 'em once they arrive at the Obama FEMA camps that have been specially built just for the occasion.

Notorious RBG recently presided over yet another "marriage" ceremony between two men while totally tipping the Supreme Court's hand on how they will rule on the upcoming marriage equality case they heard this past April. This has the American Family Association's go-to psychic Brian Fischer predicting a win for Satan declaring "the fix is in." He is now preemtively calling all Christians to be prepared for mass-arrests for refusing to bake our Nazi cakes and snap our sinful "wedding" photographs. The Pink Shirts are coming, the Pink Shirts are coming!

Bottom line: we, as social conservatives, have a month to pray* and to decide how we are going to respond to this egregious and unconstitutional violation of the laws of nature and nature’s God. This must a non-negotiable red line for us.

We must categorically, unambiguously, and publicly declare that we will NEVER accept the normalization of homosexual marriage, and will NEVER capitulate to any Nazi-esque order from government at any level to violate either conscience or biblical principle on this matter.

And we must all hang together, or as Benjamin Franklin said, we most assuredly will hang separately. They can’t arrest us all, they can’t prosecute us all, they can’t lock us all up, they can’t shut down every Christian-run business, or every Christian school, or every Bible-believing church, or every Christian ministry. But our determination to resist moral tyranny must be resolute enough to prompt them to try.

Between now and the moment Ruth and her evil comrades on the bench hand down their apocalyptic verdict, Bryan wants all the good Christians down on their knees every waking moment, praying their asses to the bone with the American Family Association's pre-approved invocation, even as he admits the total futility of the effort.

Head below the fold for the blessing and a new take on it.

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exit sign for Welfare, Texas
Arizonans not welcome.
Today the Arizona legislature did what no other state in the nation has been mean-spirited enough to do: they cut lifetime welfare benefits to one year for everyone—adults and children, the physically and mentally disabled. Most states have a five-year limit, while thirteen others impose a two-year cutoff. Texas (of course) has a flexible limit that can be as short as one year, but even children are exempt in the Lone Star State. Not so for Arizona! We're Number 1!
As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state's federally funded welfare program when the budget year begins in July.
No doubt you'll continue to hear from the Cato Institute, Rush Limbaugh and other goonballs that lazy moochers sit at home because welfare pays more than work, but Arizona's payments were never generous to begin with, a whopping $275 per month for a two-person household. Now even that will be gone in a couple months for thousands of people—and as many as 300,000 total if legislators follow through with all their planned cuts to welfare, Medicaid and ACA.

The far-right fundies, who absolutely control Arizona's legislature, made the usual unproven arguments before voting to cut vulnerable families off at the knees:

"I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don't ever let them face those consequences they can't get back on the path to rewards," Republican Sen. Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu City said during debate on the budget. "As a society we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them."
"... make poor decisions and then we reward them." Oh, you mean like we did for Wall Street banksters?

Head below the fold for more.

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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
'And furthermore ...'
Ah, the political roast. Those glorious annual events in which politicians and the press get together and say terrible but perfectly true things about each other for charity:
“We don’t give a s--- about this or any of you,” Christie, a 52-year-old Republican who is considering a run for president, said to laughter and applause from about 350 people at a Hamilton banquet hall. He told one journalist to “open your eyes” and “clean the s--- out of your ears.”

“This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day,” Christie said of the New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club president. “Then just get the f--- away from me then if you don’t know what I’m doing.”

We may have found Chris Christie's wheelhouse. He should do this for a living, once he gets the notion of being president out of his system.
Of a car accident involving a reporter on his way to the event, he said: “Why wasn’t the car bigger and why weren’t more of you in it?”
The best part about these things comes in the days afterward, as reporters try to decide what parts were all in fun and which parts (see: Stephen Colbert) were too "mean" for them to enjoy. This particular event is intended to be off-the-record and unrecorded, but some spoilsport recorded it anyway, possibly because they intended to make Chris Christie yelling swear words their new ringtone. No, it wasn't me.
See OceanDiver's post.

Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) normally appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Wednesday Spotlight can be seen here. More than 22,610 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

In just five weeks, $2M climate denier lawsuit implodes—by Keith Pickering: "You may or may not have heard of Dr. Edward Wegman, a statistics professor at George Mason University, who got in very hot water a few years ago on well-founded charges of plagiarism. Wegman is most famously known for the "Wegman Report", which was commissioned in 2006 by Congressional Republicans to look into Michael Mann's famous "hockey stick" paleoclimate research. Wegman (and his report) concluded that Mann's work was flawed. But as it turned out, large parts of the Wegman Report were plagiarized, as was widely reported in USA Today and other sources. The evidence for plagiarism in the Wegman Report, and also in at least two peer-reviewed papers of Wegman and his colleague Yasmin Said, was uncovered in excruciating (and damning) detail by citizen journalist John Mashey, who currently writes for that invaluable environmental crusader, DeSmog Blog. On March 24, after an entire year of secret preparation, Wegman and Said sued John Mashey for $2 million, citing the damage his honest reportage had caused to their careers. (Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.) And who was their lawyer in this quest? Milt Johns, former law partner of uber-climate-denier (and uber-jerk) Ken Cuccinelli, the ex-Virginia Attorney General who spent his brief term in office more interested in suing climate scientists than in prosecuting criminals. But on April 30, just five weeks after filing the suit, Johns showed up in court to drop the suit, and the day after that, Johns was out of a job, having parted ways with his ex-partners in the firm of Day & Johns (which will now certainly have a new name)."

The true cost of a fossil based economy—by Mattias: "Climate science makes it clear: We need a green transformation of our way of living. This year countries are presenting their plans for how to reduce CO2 emissions, and how to turn into a low carbon development. However, we also hear complains, and arguments, stating that it is too costly to convert away from our fossil fuel dependency. Fossil fuels are cheap, renewable energy is expensive. The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has just dropped a bomb into this discussion. In a new report they estimate global energy subsidies by measuring the difference between consumer prices and the ‘true costs’ of fossil fuels, and the result is 'shocking'—to use their own words. According to their estimates, the global subsidies amount to a staggering US$5,3 trillion this year alone, which is US$168.000 per second. If you are not shocked—you should be. That is 6,5% of the world’s total GDP."

You can find more excerpts from green diaries below the orange spill.

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U.S. Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) (C) talks with reporters as he departs a meeting about debt ceiling legislation with fellow Republicans at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 28, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINES
Ever since the tea party started flexing its muscle in 2010, moderate Republicans have feared for their political lives, continually attracting primary challenges from the right.

There was Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost her primary to the tea party's Joe Miller but ultimately prevailed as a write-in candidate in the general; South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, who's primary defeat brought us Rep. Trey Gowdy; and Indiana's six-term senator, Dick Lugar, whose triumphant tea party challenger, Richard Mourdock, imploded in the general election. That's just to name a few tea party casualties.

But when was the last time you heard of a Republican getting primaried from the left? In recent years, there’s been maybe a few examples at best and they’ve all been losers.

In 2012, Florida Republican Robert Crowder challenged tea party poster child Rep. Allen West and lost big after West garnered almost 75 percent of the vote. Crowder charged that West was part of the GOP's "radical fringe" and went on to support Florida Democrat Patrick Murphy, who defeated West in the general election.

During the 2014 midterms, Kansas firebrand Rep. Tim Huelskamp survived a closer challenge from fellow Republican Alan LaPolice, who targeted Huelskamp’s sponsorship of a bill that would have cut federal subsidies for ethanol (it's about a $1.5 billion per year industry in Kansas).

So all of two notable "moderate" GOP primary challengers—both unsuccessful—spring to mind since 2010. But this week may have set up a third after news broke that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would skip the GOP’s 2016 presidential cattle call and instead simply focus on saving his gubernatorial seat.

For more on a potential GOP primary from the left, head below the fold.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Map showing how many hours per week you'd need to work at minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment, paying no more than 30% of income for housing costs.
Click map to enlarge
Minimum wage increases passed by cities and states around the country are great news for low-wage workers—but the news isn't good enough. As a new report (PDF) from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows, even those higher minimum wages are mostly not high enough for a worker to afford an average two-bedroom apartment on 40 hours a week of work without spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. Nationally:
The 2015 Housing Wage is $19.35 for a two-bedroom unit, and $15.50 for a one-bedroom unit. The Housing Wage for a two-bedroom unit is more than 2.5 times the federal minimum wage, and $4 more than the estimated average wage of $15.16 earned by renters nationwide.
While housing costs and the minimum wage both vary by state, the news doesn't get much better if you drill down:
In no state can an individual working a typical 40-hour workweek at the federal minimum wage afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment for his or her family. In fact, with the exception of a handful of counties in Washington and Oregon (where the state minimum wage is $9.47 and $9.25, respectively), there is no county in the U.S. where even a one-bedroom unit at the FMR is affordable to someone working fulltime at the minimum wage.
Rents, unlike the minimum wage, "have risen nationally for 23 straight quarters. As of the third quarter of 2014, rents were 15.2% higher than at the tail end of the Recession in 2009." While high rents are a problem most visible in urban areas like New York and San Francisco, rural renters face challenges, too.
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