Category: Politics

New Mexico’s declining middle class


Click to access interactive/larger map

Stateline, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, put together a neat (albeit sobering) infographic this week analyzing how much the middle class is shrinking in each state.

The news isn’t good for anyone, as all 50 states saw a drop in middle class households since the turn of the millennium. But it’s especially bad for the Land of Enchantment.

New Mexico’s middle class saw a drop of nearly 5 percent between 2000 and 2013, or more specifically from 48 percent to 43.2 percent of the state’s households.

That’s comparable to states like Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina, North Dakota and Ohio. Only Wisconsin, according to the chart, had a higher middle class drop during the same time period, totaling 6 percent…

Each of New Mexico’s neighboring states’ share of middle class sit between 45 percent and 52 percent of all households—which are all higher that New Mexico.

Each of our peers at the bottom – like New Mexico – has a Republican governor.

Weed seeds publicly shared at Washington DC celebration


Potential family gardeners lined up for seedsDC Cannabis Campaign

Residents of Washington D.C. lined up for free cannabis seeds Saturday in a giveaway resulting from last year’s successful ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the District of Columbia.

The event, sponsored by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, was held Thursday and Saturday and saw hundreds of 18-and-up D.C. residents line up to receive and trade free seeds…

More than 3,500 people signed up for the giveaway, which saw distribution at Libertine bar and restaurant on Thursday and at D.C. Cannabis Campaign Headquarters on Saturday.

Legalization of marijuana for consumption and growth, known as Initiative 71, was passed 7 to 3 last November by D.C. voters who now join Colorado and Washington state in allowing use of the drug for recreational purposes.

The initiative, which went into effect in late February, allows D.C. residents to use the drug out of view and cultivate six seedlings and up to three mature plants, with a limit of 12 plants per household.

DC coppers were present. No one was bothered. Sharing or swapping seeds isn’t against the law, now.

I wonder if any of the coppers took any of the seeds? It is legal, after all. I wonder if any members of Congress had someone on their staff who is a DC resident pick up a few for the boss?

Florida scientists discover super termites


A hybrid colony of Coptotermes termites. A king C. gestroi (nutty-brown abdomen) is shown on the left, and a queen C. formosanus (orange abdomen) on the right. They are surrounded by their hybrid offspring, including eggs, larvae, workers, and soldiers.

Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) and Asian subterranean termites (Coptotermes gestroi) are the most damaging pest species in the world. Both are highly invasive and have spread throughout many areas of the world due to human activity, and their distributions overlap in some areas.

Now scientists in Florida have observed Formosan males mating with Asian females — in fact, they seem to prefer the Asian females more than females from their own species — and their hybrid offspring seem to grow colonies twice as fast as their parents…

Many hybrids are unable to reproduce…And many hybrids that actually can reproduce tend to lose vigor after one or more generations, which is why farmers often buy new hybrid seeds each growing season…But so far that doesn’t seem to be the case for these termite hybrids. In the laboratory, the Florida researchers are raising a hybrid colony that is growing twice as fast as same-species colonies, suggesting a potential case of hybrid vigor…

While these laboratory observations remain to be confirmed in the field, the results still raise a tangible concern about the hybridization of these incredibly destructive pests, which could have significant economic impacts…

However, even if they do not produce viable reproductives, the hybrids could still be problematic in the wild. A C. formosanus colony can grow to contain millions of individuals within five to eight years, and since the hybrid colony in the UFL lab is growing at least as fast as its parental species, it’s reasonable to assume that hybrid colonies will also contain millions of termites after five years or so…

What we are dealing with here is a termite colony that acts like a super organism,” said Dr. Nan-Yao Su, another UFL professor and co-author of the study. “Whether or not it produces reproductives, the colony itself poses a serious threat to homeowners.”

Florida’s Republican governor is a reasonably consistent thug. He’ll probably handle this threat to homeowners the way he handles climate change. First, he’ll deny it exists. Them, he’ll order all scientists on the state payroll to censor their work so there will be nothing on the record admitting to the danger.

Philosophical idealism is laughable outside the world of academia. Attempting to justify a causal relationship between concepts held in thought – and material reality – is always refuted simply by the absurdity of trying to prove something comes from nothing. In today’s Republican politics, molding the bigotry of neo-cons around a core of religion and superstition, politicians behave as if denying a problem will make it go away. Refusing to answer a question will somehow eliminate the physical processes that provoked the question in the first place.

Republicans will “give up” emergency rooms rather than accept Obamacare

A Baton Rouge, La., hospital is closing the only emergency room on the city’s impoverished north side, a real-world ripple effect of the ideological clash over President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The shutdown on April 1 serves as an early warning for hospitals in states like Louisiana, where Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal turned down federal money to expand the Medicaid program for the poor. Charity hospitals will lose billions of federal aid beginning late next year, a cut that was supposed to be offset as more residents were covered by Medicaid.

The combination is a looming “double whammy,” said Shawn Gremminger, a lobbyist for America’s Essential Hospitals in Washington, which represents those that care for the poor.

“It’s not survivable,” he said. “Hospitals are going to close…”

While Republican governors in states including Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey have expanded their Medicaid programs under Obamacare, Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has remained steadfast in his opposition…

The governor is putting ideology ahead of the welfare of the state,” said state Rep. Alfred Williams, a Democrat from Baton Rouge. “He has an agenda and it’s to run for president of the United States. And if that causes the people of Louisiana to suffer, then I believe he’s OK with that…”

Nationally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 has eased the strain of caring for the uninsured. The law allowed for making Medicaid available to those earning as much as 138 percent of the poverty level, or about $16,200 for an individual. The expense is fully paid by the federal government through 2016 before being phased down to 90 percent.

After the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 said it was up to states to decide whether to expand the program, the decisions initially broke down along party lines as Republicans questioned whether the federal government would keep its pledge to pay for it.

Ten of 28 states that have since decided to do so were led by Republicans. A new wave of the party’s governors in states including Tennessee, Wyoming and Utah tried to follow this year, though they have been stymied by lawmakers.

There’s a warm spot in my heart for the Charity Hospitals of Louisiana. They helped me survive a couple of hard days after seven stalwarts of Confederate policing armed with guns and clubs decided I was attacking them with my head. Reminiscences aside, hatred and contempt for the healthcare needs of Americans in general, poor Americans in specific, has become a core issue for Republicans since the days of Reagan.

Reagan set out to shut down the US Public Health Service and to close every hospital in the United States servicing the needs of folks with ordinary incomes – and especially the indigent. The furore raised by masses of individuals of conscience included a number of Republicans of that era as well as the body of Democrats, Progressives, religious and non-religious people of good will. He was halted after gutting a significant number of programs serving needs unmet by profit-based healthcare.

The confrontation has only gotten worse as the Republican Party moved further to the Right, the Democrat Party joined the economic ideology mandating the Rule of Money, becoming less and less likely to participate in anything like leadership on issues of liberty. Which, BTW, includes healthcare.

You still can’t have peace without justice.

Will Chechnya do a better job sending guns into Mexico than the NRA?


No – these are not Dick Cheney’s private personal bodyguards

A Kremlin spokesman reminded Russia’s republic of Chechnya that it is illegal for Russian regions to send weapons abroad, after the Chechen parliament threatened to supply arms to Mexico for it to fight the United States.

The Chechen parliament made the statement in response to a U.S. congressional resolution that called for sending lethal military aid to Ukraine…

U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine would be interpreted as a signal to send “the most modern weapons to Mexico” for the resumption of discussions on the legal status of “U.S.-annexed territories that now house … California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and a part of Wyoming,” Chechnya’s parliament speaker, Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov, said Tuesday in an online statement.

Mexico ceded these territories to the U.S. under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a peace deal that ended the Mexican-American War. In exchange, the U.S. agreed to pay $15 million to Mexico and to assume another $3.25 million in debt owed by the Mexican government to American citizens.

The remaining parts of present-day New Mexico and Arizona were bought by the U.S. for $10 million under a separate purchase in 1853…

Abdurakhmanov was responding to a resolution overwhelmingly approved by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week that urged President Barack Obama to provide lethal military aid to Ukraine to help it protect its territorial integrity from pro-Russian separatists in the east.

They could even make a buck from selling arms to idjit secessionists in our Confederate states or scumbags in the Bundy militia.

There is no need to detail the NRA’s commitment to the equally amoral crew of profiteers in the US gun industry. They are as devoid of ethics as any European munitions producer in the 19th Century. With matching political puppets.

Which makes the Chechen threat laughable. Gun shops, the whole range of NRA flunkies along the Mexican border already run an efficient highway providing weapons to criminals in Mexico. They’re not about to let some furriner interfere with a profitable trade. Politicians ranging from Tea Party idjits to fascist-minded Confederate revivalists will move heaven and earth to keep the dollars flowing into the United States from drug gangs. Taking their own cut as usual.

#BoycottIndiana: Republican law says religion trumps civil rights

swisher, benioff

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff says he has canceled all his company’s events in the state of Indiana after its governor signed into law a bill that makes it legal for individuals to use religious grounds as a defense when they are sued by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

And in an interview with Re/code, Benioff threatened the state with a “slow rolling of economic sanctions” if the law is not thrown out.

“We’ve made significant investments in Indiana. We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation,” Benioff said…

Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act today, and said blah, blah, blah, God’s Will, blah, blah, screw civil rights, blah, blah, and the US Constitution!

Benioff said that Salesforce employs between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the state, owing largely to its 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget, an email marketing company based in Indianapolis. Salesforce paid $2.5 billion for it, and Benioff later described the acquisition as a “perfect fit.”

Since 2007, ExactTarget has hosted its most important customer event, called Connections, in Indianapolis. Last year it drew 10,000 people and about $8 million in spending to Indianapolis. Salesforce announced it would move the event to New York in September. Benioff says there are other events that will be canceled as well. “We can’t bring our customers or our employees into a situation where they might be discriminated against,” he said. “We have a large number of employees and customers who would be impacted dramatically by this legislation. … I’m really just advocating on their behalf.”

Bravo, Benioff!

Bigots courting votes from idjits have no place in a democracy that recognizes the civil rights of all citizens.

Continue reading

ALEC, rightwing law writers, lose a really important sponsor

BP bails on ALEC
Oh well, plenty of dirty money left for us

BP has severed its ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded nonprofit group that promotes a pro-business, free-market agenda through state legislatures.

There’s nothing pro-biz or free market about the racist and outright reactionary crap they polish up for their Republican flunkies.

Other members of the council, such as EBay, Microsoft, and Google departed last year, with Google citing the group’s opposition to climate-change regulation. A spokesman for London-based BP said the company had determined it didn’t need ALEC, as the group is called, to advance its legislative priorities.

“We continually assess our engagements with policy and advocacy organizations and based on our most recent assessment, we have determined that we can effectively pursue policy matters of current interest to BP without renewing our membership in ALEC,” BP spokesman Brett Clanton said in an e-mail.

ALEC develops model legislation for state legislatures. It was behind Florida’s so-called Stand-Your-Ground law, which drew scrutiny after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer who later was acquitted of murder. The group also has pushed to repeal state mandates for renewable energy use.

One of the sleaziest and most secretive fronts for the fossil fuel finks. Like their peers in the US Chamber of Commerce, they often mask their hatred of progress in some flavor of conservatism – though always closer to Mussolini’s version of fascism as corporatism. Racism and other bigotries fit them well.

Map of the day – Republican liars

right to work for less

Let me note they stuck Arizona next to Texas for a tight, tidy map – don’t include New Mexico in with these fools. We may be poor; but, we stopped our Republican governor and Republican-controlled House from passing the right-to-work-for-even-less this past legislative session.

Though they have managed to make us one of the few states NOT to acquire jobs during the economic recovery.

Thanks, SmartAlix