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RandySF's Journal
RandySF's Journal
November 23, 2013

BART Boasts of $128 Million in Savings on Same Day it Spurns Workers' Family Leave

BART's Board of Directors yesterday sent the transit agency's already Wagnerian labor imbroglio skittering off the tracks and into a dark and unforeseen place.

In spurning a contract provision providing workers with up to six weeks of paid medical leave -- which management claims was, somehow, erroneously ratified earlier -- BART's directors have set the stage for what could be the third strike of 2013 and resultant transit Armageddon.

At this point, BART management could do just about anything and it wouldn't raise eyebrows. By the time its $399,000 hired gun Tom Hock missed a bargaining session to go to Disneyland -- taking a break from artless, deal-free negotiations to deliver a lecture titled "The Art of Negotiating the Deal" -- any and all Rubicons had been crossed.

So, it might come as little surprise that, on the very day BART's board declared a family leave provision pegged at between $1.4 million and $10.5 million a year too costly, it gratuitously boasted of $128 million in savings via an accelerated train car procurement deal.


November 23, 2013

Hatred of Catholics led some to cheer JFK's assassination: Jarvis DeBerry

On Nov. 22, 1963, my home state of Mississippi was, like every other state in the South, solidly Democratic. And yet, according to my American History teacher, who was standing before a class in Columbus that day, when the intercom blared that President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, had been assassinated in Dallas, her students responded with applause.

Imagine: Americans cheering the death of their own leader. Students whose parents almost certainly identified themselves as Democrats whooping it up that the leader of that party had been killed. My teacher, Judy Morris, was telling that story to another Mississippi classroom nearly 30 years later to illustrate the virulent anti-Catholic hatred that pervaded the South. She said her own grandmother, who given Ms. Morris' age must have been born in the late 1800s, had eventually reached a point where she could be cordial to black people. But the Catholics? No, sir. She could never stand the Catholics. And didn't mind saying it.

Understand how shocking that story was for a black boy raised in Mississippi: You mean there were some folks here reviled more than black people? Or at least as much?

Ms. Morris was a great teacher, and I heard what she said, but I didn't fully comprehend the strife she was describing until a couple years ago when I took the time to read the introduction to the King James translation of the Bible. To many Christians, the King James translation is the only "real" Bible there is; everything else is a poor imitation. Imagine, then, picking up the book you rely upon for moral and spiritual guidance and being confronted with a harshly worded polemic at those "Popish Persons" working to keep the masses "in ignorance and darkness." That's what the translators of the Scriptures write to King James.


November 23, 2013

In 1963, Dallas was Tea Party Central

A confederacy of like-minded men had coalesced in Dallas: the anti-Catholic leader of the largest Baptist congregation in America, the far-right media magnate who published the state’s leading newspaper, the most ideologically extreme member of Congress, and the wealthiest man in the world—oilman H.L. Hunt. Together they formed the most vitriolic anti-Kennedy movement in the nation. And they began to attract others who were even more extreme to the city.

Ex-Army General Edwin A. Walker had been relieved of command by Kennedy for brainwashing his troops with John Birch Society propaganda. After angrily resigning from the service, Walker knew exactly where to go to lead his new anti-Kennedy campaign. He moved to Dallas, where he was welcomed by the mayor and given an honorary Stetson in a public ceremony witnessed by thousands.

For Walker and many others in the high-powered quarters of the city, Kennedy threatened to subvert everything the Republic stood for. As they saw it, Kennedy worshipped a dangerous, foreign religion. He was spending the country into bankruptcy trying to buy the votes of minorities. He favored expanding government health care with his Medicare proposal. He was plotting to surrender the sovereignty of the United States to the United Nations.

Perhaps worst of all, Kennedy supported integration. Reverend Criswell, the leader of Dallas’s First Baptist Church, had already spoken clearly on civil rights: “Let them integrate! Let them sit up there in their dirty shirts and make all their fine speeches. But they are all a bunch of infidels, dying from the neck up!” Ex-General Edwin Walker would make his own views known soon enough, leading the deadly riots at Ole Miss, where two people were killed and dozens of U.S. Marshals were seriously wounded by gunfire on September 30, 1962 when a black student, James Meredith, attempted to register for classes. Walker was arrested for sedition and insurrection on Kennedy’s personal orders.


November 23, 2013

Air Force Academy used to send gay cadets to Ted Haggard to be `cured`

Rachel Maddow digs even further into the story AMERICAblog broke earlier this week about the Air Force Academy hiring an “ex-gay” “heterosexual confidence” expert to run its “character coaching” program.

[UPDATE: We learned this morning that the acting-Secretary of the Air Force has directed the Air Force Academy to investigate its own cover-up of the anti-gay culture at the academy. That should go well. More on that, below.]

Rachel starts with a look at Colorado Springs, Colorado, the city the academy is located in, and the inordinate power that one of the main religious right organizations, Focus on the Family, welds in that town.

She then gets into the Air Force Academy’s sorry history of infiltration by the religious right, and how they used the academy to basically jam conservative Christian religion down the throats of the cadets.


November 23, 2013

Texas Board of Education holds up biology book over evolution debate

The Texas Board of Education voted on Thursday to nominate a three-person expert panel to determine whether a prospective biology text contains “errors” as relates to the theory of evolution, the Associated Press reported.

Some of the board’s more conservative members opposed recommending the book for use in the state’s classrooms after the publisher, Pearson Education, objected to complaints from similarly conservative “volunteer reviewers,” some of whom argued against the existence of climate change. Another reviewer reportedly called for lessons based on biblical texts. Pearson has challenged the reviewers’ claim that the book contains 20 errors.

The ensuing debate among board members led to conservative Republicans facing off with more moderate party colleagues, who joined with Democrats in questioning the reviewers’ motivations.

“I believe this process is being hijacked,” vice chair Thomas Ratliff was quoted as saying. “This book is being held hostage to make political changes.”


November 23, 2013

A question about JFK that's more important than who killed him.

If what would America look like if he had lived and been re-elected (assuming that surviving an attempt would have enhanced his popularity)?

My take is that the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts would have stalled because he was not the master dealer that LBJ was. The failure of the Civil Rights Act might have taken away Nixon's wedge to win the election, or at the very least, we might have had a different Republican in 1968. We would not have completely pulled out of Vietnam, but it would have have escalated to the point it did. And we might have made more progress sooner with the Soviet Union.

November 23, 2013

Fla. poll: Hillary Clinton beats Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would top former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in their home state in 2016, a new poll finds.

Clinton holds a narrow lead over Bush, 47 percent to 45 percent, and leads Rubio 50 percent to 43 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Friday.

The former first lady also tops the other possible Republican candidates in the poll. She leads New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by 4 points, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan by 8 points, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul by 10 points and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by 16 points.

The Clinton vs. Bush match-up appears the most likely: Bush topped the Republican field in a hypothetical primary. The former Florida governor nabbed the support of 22 percent of Florida Republicans polled, while Rubio was in second place, at 18 percent. Christie got 14 percent and Cruz got 12 percent.


November 23, 2013

Right-wing “family expert”: Treating husbands and wives as equals is unchristian

The Southern Baptist Convention’s “top expert on family concerns” says that treating men and women as equal partners in a relationship isn’t just wrong, it’s downright unbiblical.

“God designed us in such a way where we learn about him through family relationships,” Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore said in a recent interview. “We learn about the nature of reality in family relationships, and in terms of what it means to image God, by being faithful fathers and husbands and mothers and wives.”

“Often, I think, the gospel is obscured because God has designed a picture of the gospel in the one-flesh union of husband and wife. When that is broken down, you have a false gospel that is being preached,” he continued. “And sometimes you have people who are preaching a false gospel to themselves in their homes by men who aren’t loving their wives as themselves and wives who aren’t submitting to their husbands,” he said. “That then plays itself out in other ways later on in that person’s walk with Christ.”

As regressive as Moore’s remarks are, they become more alarming when you realize that this view of men and women’s relationships is nearly identical to the views held by “dating expert” Justin Lookadoo, who was recently invited to lecture students at a Texas public school about “healthy relationships.”


November 23, 2013

Whoops! Obamacare turns out to be great deal personally for Boehner

Poor John Boehner.

Thanks to a Republican amendment to the Affordable Care Act, most members of Congress will see their government-provided health insurance lapse at the end of the year, leaving many of them no other choice but to enroll in dreaded Obamacare.

As speaker of the House, Boehner is technically exempt from the requirement, but in order to avoid accusations of special treatment (i.e., because of politics) he decided to take the plunge, too. And he wants you to know how difficult it was. He even wrote a blog post about it.

“Earlier this afternoon, I sat down to try and enroll in the DC exchange under the president’s health care law,” he wrote. “Like many Americans, my experience was pretty frustrating. After putting in my personal information, I received an error message. I was able to work past that, but when I went to actually sign up for coverage, I got this ‘internal server error’ screen”: [Here he embedded an image of an internal server error screen.] Despite multiple attempts, I was unable to get past that point and sign up for a health plan. We’ve got a call into the help desk. Guess I’ll just have to keep trying …”

It’s a bummer Boehner got that error message. Tyranny almost. But if he’d reached the point at which he was signing up for coverage, it means he’d already had a chance to shop around and pick a plan. His post is oddly quiet about that part of the experience. Which is curious. As a 64-year-old heavy smoker, it’s a marvel Boehner will be able to purchase individual market coverage at all. I wonder what crazy law guarantees that he can?


November 23, 2013

Fighting Obamacare: The South’s New Lost Cause

The comparisons of President Obama to Lincoln fade with every day of the shrinking modern presidency. As for the broken-promise scale: Lincoln said an entire section of the country could continue to enslave more than one in three of its people. Obama wrongly assured about five million people that they could keep their bare-bones health plans if they liked them (later amended when it turned not to be true).

As inapt as those comparisons are, what is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States.

And they are doing it out of spite. Elsewhere, the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, has been one of the few success stories of Obamacare. It may be too complicated for the one-dimensional Beltway press. Either that, or it doesn’t fit the narrative of failure.

But in the states that have embraced a program that reaches out to low-wage workers, almost 500,000 people have signed up for health care in less than two months time. This is good for business, good for state taxpayers (because the federal government is subsidizing the expansion) and can do much to lessen the collateral damages of poverty, from crime to poor diets. In Kentucky, which has bravely tried to buck the retrograde tide, Medicaid expansion is projected to create 17,000 jobs. In Washington, the state predicts 10,000 new jobs and savings of $300 million in the first 18 months of expansion.


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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
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Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
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About RandySF

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.
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