Category Archives: State Politics

Tennessee Legalizes Bullying Gays as Christian Fundie Right

Excerpt from TheGailyGrind -

Tennessee’s “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” actually mandates that schools allow students the use of public school facilities — including the school’s public address system, classrooms and school assemblies — and makes schools “[p]rovide the forum in a manner that does not discriminate against a student’s voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint.”

An evangelical student, or example, could preach the gospel during a science class, or “witness” during English. Attacks on LGBT people and same-sex marriage are automatically protected under this bill, offering anti-gay students a state-sponsored license to bully. And of course, a student could claim they worship Satan and subject their classmates to that “religious viewpoint” as well.

The bill, of course, likely violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but that rarely stops conservative lawmakers on a religious mission.

Republican governor Bill Haslam hopefully will show moral courage and veto this bill. If he signs it, he’ll be forcing all Tennessee students to be subjected to the religious beliefs of their classmates, and forcing Tennessee into a costly battle in court.

But given that the Tennessee senate passed the bill yesterday on a 32-0 vote, and the House passed it 90-2, any veto Haslam considers likely will be overridden.


Paul Douglas, born March 26, 1892


When we think of Illinois politicians today we are reminded of those who are currently serving prison sentences — 4 of the last 7 Governors were residents of the old graybar hotel. And too many of those who aren’t in jail are flitting about in ecstatic confusion doing errands for Wall Street.

But there was a day not so very long ago when Illinois produced honest men who labored in the public’s interest. Adlai Stevenson was the name of three such public servants — a Vice President in 1893-1897 who was Adlai I, the Democratic nominee for President in 1952 and 1956 later Ambassador to the UN was Adlai II, and Adlai III who served as a U.S. Senator 1970-1981. Good men, honest and true.

Another servant of the people hailing from the State of Illinois was PAUL DOUGLAS who was born on this date in 1892 one-hundred twenty-two years ago. Douglas served his State and the Nation as a Senator for 18 years until retiring in 1967.

Paul Douglas became politically active in Chicago where he taught at the University of Chicago have earned a Ph.D. in economics. He helped the Legislature draft pioneering bills for old age pensions and unemployment compensation. He sought to build a new political party modeled on the British Labour Party and when that failed to transpire joined the Farmer-Labor Party in the 1930s.*

When the war broke out although he was 50 years old, Douglas joined the U.S. Marines as a private. Working his way up the ranks, he fought in the Pacific theater earning two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star (makes you wonder about the Republicans who continually disparage Democrats as soft and weak). Douglas left the service as a Lieutenant Colonel.

When Douglas returned to civilian life he renewed his commitment to politics and ran as the Democratic candidate for Senate in 1948. Although discounted by most, including pros in his own party, he gained 55% of the vote for an electoral victory. An early advocate for fair housing, environmental conservation and consumer protection, he was one of the Senators at the core of the Liberal Coalition which dominated Democratic politics through the 1960s.

Today, we honor a good man, a good Marine, a good Senator and a good Democrat.


* The FARMER-LABOR PARTY was an active, and successful political party in the Twenties and Thirties. In 1946, the Party merged with the Democratic Party in Minnesota to become the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). The DFL remains one of two State affiliates of the Democrats which were formed by uniting with local Socialist parties. The Democrats in North Dakota merged with the Nonpartisan League, a Socialist organization which also crossed the border into Canada becoming first the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and now the New Democratic Party of Canada.


Former Louisiana Governor EDWIN EDWARDS has announced his candidacy for a Congressional seat. He has already set the State record as Governor having held that seat for 16 years. Now at the age of 86, having also served a term in prison allegedly for corruption, and then marrying a woman who became his third wife and having a 7 month old baby, Edwards has proved  that he is more than capable of doing what many others consider the impossible.

EDWARDS, like those earlier lovable rascals, the brothers Long, Huey and Earl, proves that the impossible in Louisiana only takes a little longer than the possible. The Media, of course, are snootily dismissive. Louisiana media because it is bought and paid for by the ONE PERCENTERS and national media because they prefer their politicos to be easily pigeon-holed, and ED is not.

We wish EDWARDS well for a number of reasons: first, a colorful politician has the wherewithal to be a mover and shaker on his own without the strings which encumber most conventional politicians; second, because we acknowledge that criminal prosecutions in Louisiana are but politics by other means, they are not the neutral arbiter of truth and justice; and, finally, because any 86 year old man who marries a woman 52 years younger than himself and fathers a baby should be recognized as a leader of grand inspiration!


Edwin and Trina Edwards on their wedding day

What the Republicans Are Closing, and What They Keep Open


It is a sad commentary on our country that in State after State, Republican Governors and Legislatures are closing worthwhile programs as unnecessary while building more prisons, usually operated as for-profit enterprise.

At the National level, the same crowd wants to bomb every other country on Earth while abolishing Food Stamps, gutting Medicare, and stealing Social Security for the Banksters.

Politics used to be an avocational interest, no longer, it is now as essential to living as working and buying groceries.

Government Spending for Salvation

Is there something strange in the water in Arizona?

In Phoenix, Arizona, someone arrested for prostitution may be brought to a Church for counseling. So a taxpayer-paid agent of the government compels one arrested for a crime to go to church. The accused is then counseled that they have a choice to make, they can choose to enter a church-run program to divert them away from prostitution or they opt to be run through the legal system and face imprisonment.

A self-respecting atheist, agnostic or humanist doesn’t really have a choice. They can be “saved” or imprisoned. If choosing to be saved they are obligated to reject their own beliefs. And this is all done under the power of the State and funded by taxpayers, regardless of the taxpayers’ personal beliefs.

When I was in Air Force boot camp, I was given a similar choice. I could choose to spend a restful Sunday morning in Church or I could do the units’ laundry. Less burdensome than imprisonment but a similar violation of my rights to hold religious opinions counter to that of established authority. Someone accused of prostitution does not lose their rights of conscience and should not be compelled by public authority to attend a religious program. Nor should nontheist or non-Christian taxpayers be compelled to fund such programs.

Unfortunately, such programs are popping up everywhere albeit perhaps guided by “good intentions”. The Obama administration has continued its predecessor’s Public-Faith Partnerships and is intentionally building upon a public policy foundation which diverts public dollars into the pockets of churches and church-related enterprise. It may not be Constitutional but it is a helluva good way to buy Christian votes.

Wendy Davis Wins Democratic Primary in Texas


Wendy Davis, who came to national attention filibustering an anti-abortion bill in the Texas Legislature, has won the Democratic Party’s primary election to run for Governor of the State of Texas.

Texas Republican Supported by “Sex Predator” Ted Nugent

WENDY DAVIS is a Democratic candidate for Governor in Texas. Her opponent Republican Gregg Abbott has the support of known draft dodger, child molester, & gun nut Ted Nugent, who has also threatened the life of President Obama.  


Labor Movement Must Be More Than Just a Union Movement

Richard Wolff commenting on the UAW loss of the union election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattenooga, Tennessee. Unions need to develop allies throughout the community in order to win the hearts & minds of the workers.

Organizations of business, the wealthy and the conservatives (think tanks, foundations, hired public relations firms, advertising enterprises, major newspapers, mass radio and TV stations, internet outlets and social media) work constantly to shape workers’ life experiences and thus how they see the world. Because of their dependence on financing from businesses and the wealthy, most Republicans and Democrats avoid conflicts with their campaigns to shape public opinion. Conservatives pander to them.

No alternative, different way to see the world similarly surrounds workers in their daily lives. Workers’ organizations (unions, think tanks, independent media) are many fewer, poorer and much weaker. “Outside influences” shape workers’ consciousness one-sidedly because of the gross disparity of resources available to those exerting that influence. What made local Republicans and conservatives’ billboards persuasive was public opinion; the shape of that opinion defeated unionization in Tennessee. How differently “outside influences” work in other countries is suggested by this simple fact: virtually all of VW’s 105 factories elsewhere are unionized.

During the middle 1930s, millions joined unions for the first time: the greatest unionization drive in history.

The history of unionization in the US reinforces the point. During the middle 1930s, millions joined unions for the first time: the greatest unionization drive in history. We had never seen anything like it before, nor have we since. Unionization then was achieved by a remarkable alliance: unions (allied in the Congress of Industrial Organizations or CIO) plus large, active socialist and communist parties. Those parties widely and effectively contested the “outside influences” stemming from business, the wealthy and conservatives. Socialists and communists mobilized their own media, writers, artists and academics into play. Their demonstrations on many social issues made news and their organizations disseminated a distinctive interpretation of that news. They contradicted what business, the wealthy and conservatives asserted and not only around particular issues. Many among them also contested the economic system arguing that the US could and should do better than capitalism. Interested teachers, clergy, students, immigrant and racial minorities and the general public thus continuously encountered perspectives other than those of business, the wealthy and conservatives.

Excerpt from MOYERS & COMPANY

Years Before Wisconsin Was a “Red State”, Wisconsin Was a Red State

It wasn’t that long ago that the State of Wisconsin was one of the best governed States in the Union. The reason for this was a homegrown Progressive movement initiated by “Fighting Bob” Lafollette and a local Socialist Party that complemented its good ideas with practical political action. Daniel Hoan was one of those practical Socialists who knew how to get elected and how to govern. Here is an excerpt from the LaCrosse Tribune about Hoan, the Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee.

“I will always be true to the working class,” promised the mayor of Milwaukee in 1935.

Today, Wisconsin’s so closely associated with the nation’s resurgent conservative movement that it’s hard to imagine a major politician making such a statement. But 100 years ago, the state’s political pendulum swung far the other way. Mayor Daniel Hoan is a good example of its popular leftist leadership.

He was born poor in 1881 and worked menial jobs while taking evening classes. In 1908 he passed the bar and in 1910 was chosen Milwaukee’s city attorney. He made a name for himself prosecuting corruption and in 1916 was elected mayor. He was successively re-elected until 1940, the longest continuous socialist administration in U.S. history.

Hoan’s initiatives in Milwaukee were nicknamed “Sewer Socialism” — government-run services that improved residents’ quality of life in the most basic ways. He made public health and transportation more efficient, reformed the civil service, provided public markets and built low-cost housing.

In 1936, Time magazine claimed that “under him Milwaukee has become perhaps the best-governed city in the U.S.”

Silly Time in Arizona

It seems that every news cycle provides a report on some new incredible outrage being proposed or enacted by one or another State Legislature dominated by Wing Nuts. Every report breaks a record and sets a new standard for stupidity, rudeness, and wackiness.

Most recently we hear that the Arizona Legislature actually wants to Legalize Discrimination against Gays. It would do so by using religion as a cover. Under the Law, a police officer could refuse to protect a gay person being attacked if he or she had a religious objection to homosexuality; a teacher could refuse to teach a gay; a doctor or nurse could refuse to treat a gay; a restaurant could refuse to feed a gay; and, a hotel could refuse lodging to a gay.

The precedent for this has been the statutory exemption for religion which would allow a pharmacist or physician to refuse to provide birth control devices or information based on religious belief. This is the result when we allow a small concession to religious nuts, it will be taken and magnified into an obscenity. What was supposed to be a freedom for some becomes a burden on all.

If someone is licensed or otherwise authorized to provide a service or a product then they must be legally obligated to provide it to all who seek to be a customer, client or patron. If they have a religious objection then they should not enter the profession or practice serving the public.

People have a right to their beliefs, they do not have the right to impose those beliefs on the rest of us.