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Here’s Proof Scott Walker Hates Education

One thing Scott Walker doesn’t have to worry about: He will never be called the Education Governor.

Walker’s latest budget proposal would slash $300 million over the next two years from the University of Wisconsin system of higher education, which has long been considered one of the crown jewels of the Badger State. That is a 13% decrease in state funding for the university. When asked to defend the cuts, which have been criticized by both educators and the public, Walker shifted the burden of blame to college professors and support staff, saying:

“Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work.”

University system officials said the draconian cuts will probably require them to lay off some employees and also raise tuition for students as soon as 2017. Grant Petty, president of the professional group that represents University of Wisconsin-Madison employees, directly addressed Walker’s calls for professors to work more. Petty said faculty already put in at least 50 hours a week on their professional responsibilities as educators. He added:

“As Governor Walker knows from his own family background, a pastor’s job doesn’t start and stop with the Sunday sermon. The same is true of university professors and the classroom.”

Governor Walker, who is considering a run for the Republican nomination for President in 2016, has come under fire before. In 2011, his assault on public sector unions sparked massive protests in the state capital of Madison and also led to a recall election which Walker managed to survive.

Walker is considered to be one of the darlings of the far right wing wing of the GOP and also has ties to the Koch brothers and their massive fundraising machine. Oddly, however, Walker himself does not have a college degree, and one is left to wonder if the American people would ever elect a candidate without a diploma from an institution of higher learning.

No matter how Walker fares in 2016, he is once again leading an attack on one of the main pillars of economic development and increasing wages in Wisconsin. Then again, perhaps that was his plan all along.

This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org

 

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Lindsey Graham Asks Loretta Lynch: Why Is Gay Marriage OK, But Polygamy Isn’t?

If we needed another reason to prove why South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham will never be President–or even respected–he provided us with one yesterday during the confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Graham, using the keen intellect which no doubt has served him well for years, asked Lynch:

“Same-sex marriage. This may go to the Supreme Court very soon. If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, it violates the constitution for a state to try to limit marriage between a man and a woman, that’s clearly the law of the land unless there’s a constitutional amendment to change it. What legal rationale will be in play that would prohibit polygamy? What’s the legal difference between a ban on same-sex marriage being unconstitutional but a ban on polygamy being constitutional? Could you try to articulate how one could be banned under the constitution and the other not?”

The minute Graham uttered the words, you could almost see people watching at home as they shook their heads and laughed derisively.

Lynch, without laughing, managed to reply:

“Well, senator, I have not been involved in the argument or analysis of the cases that have gone before the Supreme Court. So…and I’m not comfortable undertaking legal analysis without having had the ability to undertake a review of the relevant facts and the precedent there. So I certainly would not be able to provide you with that analysis at this point in time, but I look forward to continuing the discussions with you.”

If you look at Senator Graham’s biography, you will see that he has a law degree. Shouldn’t someone with a degree in the law be able to discern the difference between same-sex marriage and a person who is married to more than one person? Whatever one’s position on same-sex unions may be, are they in anyway comparable to having a harem of wives?

Graham has said recently that he is considering running for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2016. But I have some advice for him: save your time and money, Senator. You have finally crossed the line that separates the serious politician from the hack.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sWEavCeBjg

This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org

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Georgia Executes Intellectually Disabled Man

Just after 7:30p.m. last night, the state of Georgia executed Warren Lee Hill, 54, by lethal injection. If that’s all there was to the story, it would probably be easy to overlook.

But Warren Hill was declared “intellectually disabled” by every doctor who examined him, including by three expert witnesses who testified for the state at Hill’s capital punishment trial. Prior to last night’s execution, Hill’s attorney, Brian Kammer, said:

“Mr. Hill’s disability means that he has the emotional and cognitive functioning of an 11-year-old boy.”

Yet despite Georgia law and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court which prohibit the killing of the intellectually disabled, the Supreme Court refused to hear a petition for a last minute stay of execution. Earlier in the day, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles also declined Hill’s request for clemency. The Board did so with no explanation of its reasoning.

Hill was originally sentenced to life imprisonment in 1986 for the killing of his 18-year-old girlfriend, who was shot 11 times. While incarcerated and serving that sentence, Hill beat a fellow inmate to death with a nail-studded board. He was sentenced to death in 1991 for that crime.

Following Hill’s execution, Brian Kammer, Hill’s lawyer,  issued the following statement:

“Today, the Court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia. Georgia has been allowed to execute an unquestionably intellectually disabled man, Warren Hill, in direct contravention of the Court’s clear precedent prohibiting such cruelty.”

Only days before Hill was originally scheduled to be executed in 2013, his attorneys obtained a stay when they presented statements from three doctors who examined Hill in 2000 and declared him to not be intellectually disabled. The doctors said they had been rushed at the time of their original diagnosis and had since decided Hill met the legal standard to be spared the death penalty.

But Georgia has what legal experts consider to be the toughest standard in the nation for proving intellectual disability. It requires that capital punishment defendants prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are intellectually disabled in order to avoid being executed. The state has repeatedly maintained that Hill’s lawyers failed to meet that burden of proof.

And so, in Georgia, the state of my birth, the state where I live, once again blood has been shed in the name of a form of justice most civilized nations have abandoned.

This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org

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Mormon Church Now Backs LGBT Rights – But There’s A Catch

At a press conference in Salt Lake City earlier this morning, Mormon leaders announced, in a surprising reversal of church policy, that they will now support anti-discrimination laws which protect the LGBT community they have long fought in court and from their pulpits.

Elder Dallin Oaks, speaking for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said:

“We call on local, state and the federal government to serve all of their people by passing legislation that protects vital religious freedoms for individuals, families, churches and other faith groups while also protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation — protections which are not available in many parts of the country.”

While this may sound too good to be true, the Mormons do want something in return. Specifically, they want the LGBT community and governmental agencies to leave them alone and call a mutual truce. This despite the fact that earlier this month the church sought to excommunicate a critic of its stance against same-sex marriage, charging him with apostasy.

Make no mistake, the LDS are still vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage, which they say is “contrary to the laws of God,” and have actively worked across the country to keep it from passing in statewide referendums such as California’s Proposition 8. But they will drop their stridency on the LGBT issue as long as they are allowed to discriminate when they see fit, provided no one makes a fuss over it.

Later in his statement, Elder Oaks declared:

“When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser. Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.”

So let’s see if I have this right: the Mormon church will now support equal rights for LGBT couples, but not the right to marry, and all they want in return is a blanket protection which would make them immune from prosecution or protest when, for example, a Mormon doctor refuses to artificially inseminate a lesbian couple or a bakery owner will not bake a cake for a same-sex union because it violates his religious beliefs. Sound like progress to you?

LGBT advocates have been calling for compromise with the church for years, but it is unclear if they will–or should–be amenable to what was announced earlier today.

This article was previously published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org

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Watch Out Fox News! Indiana is Starting It’s Own Propaganda Network

No doubt the propagandists at Fox News will be shaking in their boots when they read this: the State of Indiana, under the watchful eye of Governor Mike Pence, has announced that it will start a government-run news agency using taxpayer money.

The website, which will be launched in February, will be called “Just IN” and will offer pre-written pieces to small news agencies. It will also (surprise!) offer breaking stories about Governor Pence and his administration. Pence is considered a possible contender for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination.

News from “Just IN” will be written by press secretaries employed by the state and will feature stories:

“(which) range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles.”

The as-yet-unanswered question about “Just IN” is whether or not it will be used to circumvent the press altogether. Jack Ronald, publisher of the Portland Commercial Review, said:

“I think it’s a ludicrous idea. I have no problem with public information services — the Purdue University agriculture extension service does a great job. But the notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press.”

And then there is the hypocrisy of a “small government” Republican such as Pence using at least $100,000 of taxpayer funds to bolster his own image among the press. Had a similar news site been started by a Democratic governor in a state such as New York or California, can you imagine the howling that would have taken place among talking head right-wingers such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity?

For his part, Pence has largely avoided the growing controversy over “Just IN” but did Tweet out the following message Monday evening:

“This is State of IN’s calendar for press releases: http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/mobile/mobilelist.aspx . The website will offer the same service with a new look.”

One wonders if we should all be amused or horrified by Pence’s attempts to play a benevolent Big Brother in a conservative suit and rep tie.

This article was previously published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org