this n that

An old one I posted about several years ago, but again when people express surprise that I’m cautious around police: Police Enter Home on False Alarm and Then Taser a Hearing-Impaired Man Getting Out of the Bathtub.

h/t @alicialane Disabled less likely to use web: study. Erm. Except the deaf were excluded by this study — DONE OVER THE PHONE.

Johann Hari: Why is it wrong to protect gay children?

Yet Melanie Phillips, Richard Drax and the last raging band of homophobes are right about one thing. There is a “Gay Agenda.” They are only wrong about its contents. It has one item on the list, and one item only: to ensure that gay people are treated exactly the same as everybody else. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the sum total of our ambitions. To get there we may – yes – have to mention the existence of gay people in schools. It is the only way to save kids like Jonathan Reynolds, and make sure everyone knows – as he said in his final text, before the train hit – “I am human just like them.”

This is in the U.K. — which I generally think of as far more receptive to gay rights than the U.S. — where apparently bullying queer (or perceived queer) students is as bad of a problem as it is here — and the conservative reaction sounds very similar.

More FUD. Lots of FUD. ARGH! Debts Should Be Honored, Except When the Money Is Owed to Working People

According to the article [A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens], a main goal of state bankruptcy is to allow states to default on their pension obligations. This means that states will be able to tell workers, including those already retired, that they are out of luck. Teachers, highway patrol officers, and other government employees, some of whom worked decades for the government, will be told that their contracts no longer mean anything. They will not get the pensions that they were expecting.

Depending on the specific circumstances, they may find their pensions cut back 20 percent, 30 percent, perhaps even 50 percent. There would be no guarantees if a state goes into bankruptcy.

There has been a concerted effort to bash public-sector employees by either highlighting the few instances where pensions actually are exorbitant, or just making things up. Untruths about Goldman Sachs, General Electric, or any other major company rarely appear in the media and are usually quickly corrected when they do. However, exaggerations or outright fabrication are a standard practice for those who report on state and local budgets when it comes to public employees.

The public has been bombarded with stories of public employees retiring with six-figure pensions while still in their early 50s. There may be some instances of such inflated pensions, but that is far from the typical story. If we look to New York State, the hotbed of bloated public budgets, we find that the state’s main retirement system pays an average pension of $18,300 a year. For many workers, this is their whole retirement income since they were not covered by Social Security.

As the article notes, it’s amazing how hardline conservatives are about people paying their debts (see the widespread support for the bankruptcy “reforms” of 2006) versus their eagerness to get states — otherwise legally committed to paying their debts just like anyone else — off the hook. And I repeat these people are not covered by Social Security because they were supposed to get these pensions instead. There is no “fallback” for them — even if Social Security weren’t also under attack. It sure looks to me like conservative Republicans want to utterly destroy any sort of retirement program except that which you can hide under your own damn mattress.

Why we don’t cut where we could actually make a difference in our budget and actually improve things in this country: Cow Most Sacred: Why Military Spending Remains Untouchable.

The Pentagon presently spends more in constant dollars than it did at any time during the Cold War — this despite the absence of anything remotely approximating what national security experts like to call a “peer competitor.” Evil Empire? It exists only in the fevered imaginations of those who quiver at the prospect of China adding a rust-bucket Russian aircraft carrier to its fleet or who take seriously the ravings of radical Islamists promising from deep inside their caves to unite the Umma in a new caliphate.

What are Americans getting for their money? Sadly, not much. Despite extraordinary expenditures (not to mention exertions and sacrifices by U.S. forces), the return on investment is, to be generous, unimpressive. The chief lesson to emerge from the battlefields of the post-9/11 era is this: the Pentagon possesses next to no ability to translate “military supremacy” into meaningful victory.

When I think of how much money, time, energy, and people are poured into this, with no tangible benefits whatsoever, I just despair.

Big Coal’s Watergate? Nation Watches as Clean Water Act Scandal Rocks Kentucky Court Today

Clean water advocates and concerned citizens across the nation will be monitoring a blockbuster Kentucky court case today, which will ultimately determine whether citizens can intervene in a state’s gross mishandling of indisputable acts of contempt and egregious Clean Water Act violations by two coal companies.

According to many observers, the sheer number of fraudulent acts and mind-boggling oversights could turn this case into Big Coal’s Watergate–or Clean Watergate.

Coal’s destructive nature — starting with it’s ecologically devastating extraction from the earth to its extensive pollution when burned for energy — already meant we should wind down its usage. Add to that the contamination of local ground and water supplies by the coal companies and we have even more reason to more tightly regulate them — or shut them down altogether.

Whoa. Now that’s a bipartisan vote. What’s up with that? Senate ends practice of secret holds.

40 years ago: Looking Back At The ‘Tremendous Hate’ Of Bullies. Bullying is not new. It has always been with us. It’s being reported now, and in more cases being treated as the crime it is, but it has always been present…

Out with WH press secretary Gibbs and in with, erm… someone who goes on about Barbaric Yawpers?

The GOP’s quiet evolution on gay rights. The rightward movement that began in the 80’s — when both abortion & no gay rights (via strong support for heterosexual families) became part of the party platform (check this). Also, this probably explains the increasing hysteria of officially designated hate groups like AFA etc.

Now, though, gay rights issues are largely under the national political radar. And Christopher Barron, chairman of the board at GOProud, said that has worked in his favor. He said his group launched at an “unbelievably fortuitous” time in 2009, given that another movement was sprouting that was generally indifferent to social issues.

While the instances Blake lists are real, I’m uncertain as to whether it is in fact slipping under the radar, or what.

Why the Happy Meal is a crime—and not just a culinary one

Now, what about marketing to children? Ample science, along with statements by various professional organizations tells us that marketing to young children is both deceptive and unfair. Why? Because young children simply do not have the cognitive capacity to understand that they are being marketed to; they cannot comprehend “persuasive intent,” the linchpin of advertising. Here’s how the nation’s trade group for kids’ doctors puts it: “The American Academy of Pediatrics considers advertising directly to young children to be inherently deceptive, and exploits children under the age of 8 years.”

So, if advertising to young children is inherently deceptive, and deceptive advertising is illegal under federal law and in most states, how is it even happening? And doesn’t this mean that not just food, but all marketing to young children is currently illegal? I get this question a lot. The answer is yes.

The children! A rallying cry frequently made by the Republicans, except when it affects their profit margins…

California Lawmaker Receives Racist Death Threat Warning ‘Rush Limbaugh Will Kick Your Ch-nk Ass’. I just… Ugh!

GOP senators propose amending Constitution’s definition of citizenship. They’re certainly on a rampage to tear up the good old constitution, aren’t they? Plenty of flagrantly unconstitutional proposals coming from there these days *facepalm*

Utterly pathetic: AFA Changes AP Headline to Support Its Anti-Gay Agenda.

TOO SUBTLE? The Republicans make everything up!

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