Miami Assistant Police Chief Criticized for Not Putting Hand Over Heart During Pledge of Allegiance

How horrible must your life be if you get irrationally offended every time someone doesn’t salute the flag to your liking during the Pledge of Allegiance?

In Miami, Assistant Chief Anita Najiy — the highest-ranking female cop in the city — kept her arms at her side during the ritual instead of putting a hand over her heart. Now, the head of the Miami police union is flipping out because ‘Murica.

Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz wants Najiy reprimanded for not saluting the flag or covering her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Since she clearly has no respect for the flag or the United States, on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am requesting that Assistant Chief Najiy is removed as the commander of the MPD Honor Guard Detail,” Ortiz said in a letter Monday to Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes.

“If she isn’t loyal to the United States of America, what country is she loyal and shows allegiance to?” he asked.

As much as I’d like to say Najiv was protesting the Pledge, she was actually just following protocol:

Police Maj. Delrish Moss produced a section of the conduct code for U.S. military personnel, which he says supercedes police code. It reads: “When in uniform, indoors, stand at attention, remain silent, and face the flag.”

So she was following military rules… and that, in Ortiz’s eyes, makes her un-American. What he has against her, I don’t know, but even if she sat down during the Pledge, it wouldn’t make her any less patriotic. If you equate being a True American with participating in a mindless ritual, your priorities need adjustment.

Thankfully, it looks like no one is taking Ortiz seriously. After all, he’s the same guy who went to Ferguson, Missouri to show solidarity… with the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/04/26/miami-assistant-police-chief-criticized-for-not-putting-hand-over-heart-during-pledge-of-allegiance/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Let’s Meet Republican hypocrite Justin Harris, The Arkansas House’s Godly Child-Abandoner

Yesterday we introduced you to the honorable Justin Harris, a proud Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, who kinda-sorta hid from the public the fact that he’d adopted two little girls out of foster care, tired of them after a year in his home, and given them to another family to raise. The other family wasn’t so great, seeing as how the new adoptive father, Eric Francis, raped the older of the girls, all of six years old. Francis had also briefly taught at the Christian daycare owned by Harris and his wife, “Growing God’s Kingdom Preschool,” and when the news of the sexual assault broke last year, that was the only connection Harris admitted publicly; the Arkansas Times broke the full story this week. It’s a horrible story, and the more we find out about Rep. Harris, the more charming he seems.

For instance, Justin Harris is a small-government conservative who likes to say that government spending never created a single job — and whose daycare business depends almost exclusively on taxpayer-subsidized tuition, as an Arkansas Times column noted in 2011:

Harris’ business operates on almost $900,000 a year and serves about 150 kids. Of that, all but about 6 percent comes in the form of state and federal dollars in a program aimed at developmentally disabled and poor children. The money provides Harris and his wife almost $60,000 a year in salary and benefits. It also covers the mortgage on his privately owned building and rent payments to the Harrises. So the government spending hawk lives on government spending, a double dip of payroll, perks and rent payments.

In addition, while Harris was pushing a bill to deny state services and in-state tuition to any Arkansas residents who couldn’t prove they were U.S. citizens or legal immigrants, Growing God’s Kingdom Preschool was happy to take government subsidies for “perhaps a dozen undocumented students among his 150 pre-schoolers” — not that undocumented kids shouldn’t get daycare, but it’s rather rich that Harris was seeking to deny benefits to some undocumented people while collecting taxpayer money for others. As columnist Max Brantley put it:

An anti-tax, anti-government-spending, anti-illegal-alien legislator is living off a government program that includes payments for kids who haven’t produced proof of citizenship.

Oh, but that’s not all. God’s Little Acre Growing God’s Kingdom also came under fire in 2011-2012 when Americans United for the Separation of Church and State lodged a complaint against the state’s “Arkansas Better Choice” (ABC) program for granting funds to the Harrises, even though Growing God’s Kingdom explicitly advertised that it provided religious instruction, and would even turn out little evangelists. The preschool’s handbook promised parents that teachers and staff would:

“strive too [sic] ensure that your child feels the love of Jesus Christ while preparing them for Kindergarten.” The preschoolers, it continues, will be taught “the word of God” so that they can “spread the word of God to others.”

Harris insisted that it wasn’t no thing, since parents had the option of letting their kids sit out during daily prayers and Bible readings, but the ABC program later revised its guidelines to specify that no state funds could be spent on religious instruction during the school day. So Harris once again took a strict course of sorta-compliance, saying he would shift the prayers and religious instruction to after-school hours only. And of course, he complained that his state-subsidized clients were being discriminated against, because while he can’t stand Takers, he sure loves parents and little children:
Read more at http://wonkette.com/578427/lets-meet-justin-harris-the-arkansas-houses-godly-child-abandoner#bK52fw3JB8jTbHYB.99

 

Poverty Denialism in a Culture of Cruelty: Bashing the Poor as Right-Wing Amusement

http://www.timwise.org/2014/11/poverty-denialism-in-a-culture-of-cruelty-bashing-the-poor-as-right-wing-amusement/

 

In 1981, Texas Senator Phil Gramm lamented: “We’re the only nation in the world where all our poor people are fat.” It was, to Gramm, clear evidence of how exaggerated the problem of economic hardship in America was, and how horrible the nation’s welfare state had become. Apparently, poor people aren’t really suffering or deserving of much sympathy until their ribcages are showing and their eye-sockets have all but swallowed their eyes. If the poor are fat, it’s not because so many of the cheapest and most readily available foods in poor communities are high in empty calories, sugar and non-nutritional ingredients—or because, in general, the U.S. food supply is overly-processed and unhealthy—but rather, it must be because poor people have it too good and are able to do a lot of fancy eating at public expense.

America’s culture of cruelty has long been fed by this kind of thinking: namely, the belief that the poor and unemployed really aren’t suffering that badly. This “poverty denialism” rests on three claims: first, that America’s poor are fabulously wealthy by global standards and thus, should essentially stop complaining; second, that the poor buy expensive food with their SNAP benefits and have all manner of consumer goods in their homes, which means they aren’t poor in any sense that should cause concern; and third, that large numbers of welfare recipients commit fraud in order to get benefits, and then misuse the benefits they receive. In short, these are not the deserving poor—their pain is not real.

The Fallacy of Global Poverty Comparisons

As for the idea that the poor in America are not really poor, one can almost understand why this notion might seem persuasive even to those who are not particularly callous or cruel. Someone who has worked in the Peace Corps for instance, or the military, or has merely traveled widely and witnessed the kind of abject deprivation that is common in much of the world, where billions of people live on less than a dollar a day, might find this part of poverty denialism compelling. Most all of us have seen at least one if not several late-night infomercials seeking charitable contributions to bring running water and vaccinations to the globe’s poorest inhabitants. By comparison to the poverty highlighted by such efforts, one might not find the moral claims of America’s poor to be particularly pressing.

That said, to diminish the real hardship faced by the poor in the United States, solely because it is usually not as crushing as suffering elsewhere—and I say usually, because in some poor counties of America, conditions and life expectancy actually do rival those in some of the poorest nations on Earth—is neither a logical nor ethical response to that hardship. Even though in absolute terms it is true that America’s poor are not poor in the same way and to the same extremes as say, Sri Lanka’s poor, such a reassurance is likely not much comfort for America’s struggling masses. After all, Americans are notSri Lankans, and they are trying to stay afloat and compete in a society against other Americans. This is why the international standard for evaluating poverty is not simply a set dollar equivalent amount, since poverty in a poor country is by definition different from poverty in a rich country, but is determined by looking at what percentage of a country’s citizens live at half or less of the nation’s median wage. To be at half or less of the median in any society, no matter what that median might be, is to be at a significant disadvantage relative to others in the job market, housing market, in terms of the quality of education your children will likely receive, and in terms of the health care you can access. If the median income is well above your own, you will be effectively priced out of the market for any number of opportunities; as such, even if you are objectively richer than someone in Bangladesh or Ghana, the life you will be able to carve out for yourself in the place you actually live will be far removed from the mainstream there.

This is why the reassurances of economics blogger Catherine Rampell at the New York Times, to the effect that “the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants,” or that “America’s poorest are, as a group, about as rich as India’s richest,” are vapid to a point that would be laughable were the subject matter not so serious. Contrary to Rampell’s breathless excitement at the chart demonstrating these fun facts—which she found in a book by World Bank economist, Branko Milanovic and to which she refers as an “awesome chart” that “kinda blows your mind”—there is nothing awesome, mind-blowing, or even remotely relevant about the statistics in question. Nor are the protestations of Sean Hannity—who assures us that “poor in America is not poor like around the rest of the world”—helpful in understanding the real face of need in the United States.

If anything, to be poor in a rich country, where one’s worth is sadly too often presumed to be linked to one’s possessions (unlike in a poor country where people still know better) is to create a particularly debilitating kind of deprivation. To be poor in a place where success is synonymous with being rich is to find oneself marked as uniquely flawed. To live in a place where wealth is not only visible but flaunted, where the rich make no pretense to normalcy, and where one can regularly hear oneself being berated on the airwaves as losers and vermin and parasites precisely because you are poor or working at a minimum wage job, is to be the victim of a cruelty that poor folks in poor nations do not experience. The poor of Vietnam, for instance, do not have to listen to those who are doing better than they put them down on a daily basis. And why? Because those who are doing better than they, for the most part, are not the kind of people who would bash them for their poverty. The culture of cruelty is not as well developed there. It’s quite an American thing, which unlike most American things we haven’t yet exported to the world. So in a poor nation, the poor are still viewed as belonging to a common humanity, unlike in the United States, where the humanity of poor people, and certainly their right to full citizenship is increasingly under attack.

Ultimately, the politics of comparative suffering is always a losing and amoral proposition. It’s the kind of argumentation that would justify telling a Japanese American who was herded into an American internment camp during World War Two that they have nothing to complain about and should actually be grateful: after all, they could have been in Tokyo when we firebombed it, or in Hiroshima or Nagasaki when we dropped the atomic bombs. It’s the kind of position that would rationalize saying to someone who survived the Holocaust of European Jewry that they had no legitimate complaint against the Nazis, since had they lived in the Soviet Union they may well have perished in Stalin’s gulag (or for that matter, the reverse of this argument). To forward this kind of position is like telling an African American during Jim Crow segregation to get over it, since King Leopold killed roughly ten million Africans in the Congo under Belgian colonialism. In other words, this kind of comparison between the suffering one is currently experiencing and the much greater suffering one could theoretically experience elsewhere lacks all moral and practical relevance.

Not to mention, there is something ironic about this kind of argument coming from elites who regularly push for greater tax breaks so they can have more money with which to “do great things,” or just because they think they’ve earned it. After all, to whatever extent the poor in America are rich by global standards surely the wealthy in America are obscenely, disgustingly, perversely rich by the same; and yet they always seem to want more. They don’t seem satisfied with the kind of wealth that would allow them to literally buy entire countries outright, and which certainly dwarfs the wealth of the so-called rich in less wealthy nations, but yet they have the temerity to lecture poor people about gratitude?

Consider a recent commercial paid for by the Charles Koch Foundation that seeks to remind Americans how good they have it by noting that even if one earns only $34,000 a year, that’s enough to vault one into the top one percent of the world’s population in terms of income. Or consider the remarks of Bud Konheim, CEO and co-founder of fashion label Nicole Miller, who recently said those who are poor or working class in America should stop complaining since their incomes would make them wealthy in India or China. To whatever extent one finds this kind of thinking even remotely persuasive, shouldn’t the logic of such an argument run both ways? Shouldn’t the rich in the U.S. stop complaining about their taxes? The regulations they have to put up with? The minimum wage they have to pay employees? Talk about ingratitude! If they lived in any other industrialized nation the taxes they paid would be higher, regulations would be just as strict or more so, and their workers would have far greater protections and safety nets than in the United States. So when it comes to shutting one’s mouth and being grateful for what one has, perhaps the rich should lead by example.

Ontario election 2014: Lessons from Kansas, After Huge Tax Cuts For The Rich, Kansas’s Economy Is Foundering

The Future of Ontario will look like this  if Tim Hudak and company is elected

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In a time of slack economic growth and high unemployment around the country, Kansas lawmakers thought they had the solution: massive tax cuts for the wealthy would lure economic activity and jump-start the state’s economy. But after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed $1.1 billion worth of tax cuts into law over the past two years, the state is behind the national average for economic growth.

A new forecast from Kansas’s budget officials projects that “personal income in Kansas will grow more slowly than U.S. personal income in 2014 and 2015,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) writes. The projections come from Brownback’s own Division of the Budget, which expects personal income growth of 3.8 percent this year and 4.2 percent next year. The state’s overall economic growth is now projected to fall behind the nation’s after two decades of keeping pace, the think tank adds.

At the same time that Brownback’s promised economic growth is failing to materialize, his critics‘ predictions about the tax cuts are largely coming true. The tax package is starving the state of revenue. With less money coming in, Kansas is cutting public services. The state Supreme Court has ordered lawmakers to restore funding to poor school districts, saying that the spending levels they enacted were so low as to be unconstitutional. But given the state’s revenue problems, the way that the legislature is going about correcting the underfunding problem simplytakes money away from other schools that need it.

Things are also getting worse for the neediest people in the state. Last fall, Census data revealed that the poverty rate in Kansas had risen each year since the governor was elected after vowing to reduce child poverty. A study by Kansas Action for Children last fall found that child poverty continues to rise in the state.

Brownback’s official response to the state’s poverty problem was a brief report that advocated fighting poverty by encouraging traditional family structures througheight-hour “pre-marital education” classes for couples wishing to wed, kicking tens of thousands of residents off of food stamps so that they will work harder, and finding mentors for the state’s kids.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/05/16/3438587/kansas-growth-projections/

Cliven Bundy wants to tell you about ‘the Negro.’ I want to tell you about Cliven Bundy

When a 67-year-old white Republican begins a sentence with “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” you know the sentence is not ending well. But deadbeat rancher and domestic terrorist Cliven Bundy wasn’t content to stop with mere racism, however undisguised. No, he went ahead and added a dose of flagrant hypocrisy to the mix:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro … because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked.

Oh! Basically on government subsidy. Well, a man who’s been grazing his cattle on federal land for 20 years without even paying the ridiculously low (effectively: subsidized) rates he legally owed should know a thing or two about government subsidy. This is a man who sparked an armed standoff with the federal government in an effort to avoid paying the more than $1 million he owes. And he’s talking about how the effects of government subsidy on black people are that:

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Does government subsidy somehow work differently for white ranchers with 14 children? Sorry! Stupid question, I realize. Cliven Bundy is a special snowflake to whom no rules apply, ever. He gets to illegally graze cattle on public land for decades and take up arms against the federal government, and then when the New York Times comes calling to write about them, he gets to hold forth about how the Negroes were better off under slavery and it not only doesn’t make the headline, you have to read down 11 paragraphs to get to what would seem to be significant information about who this guy is. But apparently the Times thought the more significant piece of information in the article was that Bundy “savors the audience that rallied to his side.” What a piece of hard-hitting news that is—deadbeat on ego trip savors ego trip.

 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/24/1294275/-Cliven-Bundy-wants-to-tell-you-about-the-Negro-I-want-to-tell-you-about-Cliven-Bundy#