In case you were wondering why there were so many vagina lines on Twitter tonight, it’s because of this stupid story:

Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on the floor of the State House today after she used the word “vagina” in a speech Wednesday, according to the Detroit News.

Concluding her remarks about an abortion regulation bill Wednesday, Brown said: “Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.'”

House Republicans flipped out, and House Speaker James Bolger announced in a statement that Brown would not be recognized to speak on the floor because of her “lack of decorum.”

“What she said was offensive,” Republican state Rep. Mike Callton told the Detroit News. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

But Brown lashed back, defending her speech in a last-minute press conference today.

“If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” she said. ““I’m outraged. I’m outraged that this legislative body not only wants to dictate what women can do, but what we can say.”

KKK denied “Adopting a Mile” in Georgia

The International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County, GA had their application to the Georgia “Adopt a Mile” program denied. Keith Golden of the Georgia Department of transportation said in a letter to April Chambers, a member of the group, stating “The impact of erecting a sign naming an organization which has a long-rooted history of civil disturbance would cause a significant public concern.”

The application, submitted by the group on May 21st, proposed adopting a stretch of Highway 515 in the North Georgia Mountains. The county seat, Blairsville and a town nearby, Blue Ridge, are in popular resort areas in the state.

The Georgia DOT stated that the program is for “civic minded groups.” Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D – Atlanta) agrees:

“It’s a terrorist organization. This is the right decision, and I commend the Department of Transportation for reaching a decision in due speed.”

The group has now turned to the American Civil Liberties Union for assistance.

“We are considering next steps and whether or not we will support the group,” said Debbie Seagraves, executive director for the ACLU of Georgia.

“We know this is unpopular,” she admits, but if her organization helps the International Keystone Knights of the KKK, it is not because it agrees with their beliefs. It will be based on legal precedent and a legal view of whether the KKK’s freedom of speech has been violated.

Harley Hanson, a member of the group, had this to say regarding litigation:

“If this does go into a litigation situation, the state really cannot afford to be wasting the money on something based on somebody else’s beliefs”

There have been other similar cases in Missouri, Delaware and California.

In 2008, the California Department of Transportation was forced to pay a $157,500 legal settlement relating to a lawsuit by the San Diego Minutemen, an anti-illegal immigration group. According to the Orange County Register, the group had adopted a piece of a highway near a Border Patrol checkpoint. Immigrant groups were angered, and state officials moved the Minutemen’s stretch of highway to another, more remote location. The group sued, arguing that its freedom of speech was violated.


Word of the week: crimogenic

No surprise that the adjective was used in connection with House Republicans:

In criminology, we recognize that one of the leading restraints on the effectiveness of law enforcement is “systems capacity.” Indeed, my mentor, Henry Pontell (UC Irvine), defined the concept. In the context of crimes of the street (other than Wall Street), there is normally no lobby trying to allow the typically lower class criminals to commit their crimes with impunity. In crimes of the business suites, however, it is the norm that there are well-funded, powerful, and seemingly legitimate lobbyists for the elite criminals who seek to allow them to commit their crimes with impunity. Similarly, it is rare for street criminals to consult a lawyer before they commit their crimes. Elite white-collar criminals often consult with expert legal counsel before, during, and after they commit their crimes in order to try to minimize the risk of being sanctioned.

One of the most obvious ways to produce a criminogenic environment is to create systems incapacity to detect and sanction crime. House Republicans are doing that in the context of elite white-collar crime. That context also happens to be the leading campaign donors for both parties…

Read the whole story.

Dimon’s dogs

I think “rotten to the core” is the expression that works best here:

BILL MOYERS: This week Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase testified before the Senate Banking Committee on how his bank got it wrong on risk management– in London. What would you think if I told you that seven members of the Senate Banking Committee have been big recipients of money from JPMorgan Chase?

THOMAS FRANK: I would not be surprised, (LAUGH) not in the least. That’s obviously where JPMorgan would be spending its lobbying dollar would be on the– the– you know, giving to the campaigns of the people on that committee. That’s the wisest strategic choice for them…

Fatal attraction to inaccurate data on carbon emissions

From Take Part:

A nation of 1.3 billion people, China surpassed the United States as the world’s leading greenhouse gas polluter in 2007. But scientists and policymakers alike have questioned whether data on carbon emissions in China is reliable enough to tell the full story.

A paper published yesterday in Nature Climate Change validates those concerns. China’s carbon emissions could be 20 percent higher than previous estimates, the study suggests, indicating that climate change may be occurring at an even more rapid and dangerous pace than previously thought…

The implications of this finding for global climate change are tremendous—the implications for policy perhaps even more so. The study’s authors warn that reliable national statistics are imperative for “global negotiations about future emission targets.”

Rather than addressing the inconsistencies in their data, the Chinese government earlier today argued that the climate crisis has been caused by developed nations, and that China has already taken appropriate steps to deal with climate change.

Obtaining accurate information on emissions isn’t just a problem in China, experts say.

“Much of the world does not have in place the capabilities and procedures for accurately reporting emissions of greenhouse gases,” wrote Rick Piltz, the founder and director of Climate Science Watch, in an email to TakePart. “This is something that must be improved over time as one important component of developing climate policy and implementing international agreements.”

Rather than addressing the inconsistencies… Isn’t it amazing how certain individual governments — not just China — would rather defend their abuse of the ecosystem than make corrections that could benefit the entire human race? Meanwhile, average temperatures around the world keep rising.

Why economic recovery isn’t happening

Good old Robert Reich apparently still thinks Americans are able and willing to learn the lessons of history:

The major reason this recovery has been so anemic is not Europe’s debt crisis. It’s not Japan’s tsumami. It’s not Wall Street’s continuing excesses. It’s not, as right-wing economists tell us, because taxes are too high on corporations and the rich, and safety nets are too generous to the needy. It’s not even, as some liberals contend, because the Obama administration hasn’t spent enough on a temporary Keynesian stimulus.

The answer is in front of our faces. It’s because American consumers, whose spending is 70 percent of economic activity, don’t have the dough to buy enough to boost the economy – and they can no longer borrow like they could before the crash of 2008…

…What to do? There’s no simple answer in the short term except to hope we stay in first gear and don’t slide backwards. Rarely in history has the cause of a major economic problem been so clear yet have so few been willing to see it.

Over the longer term the answer is to make sure the middle class gets far more of the gains from economic growth.

How? We might learn something from history. During the 1920s, income concentrated at the top. By 1928, the top 1 percent was raking in an astounding 23.94 percent of the total (close to the 23.5 percent the top 1 percent got in 2007) according to analyses of tax records by my colleague Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. At that point the bubble popped and we fell into the Great Depression.

But then came the Wagner Act, requiring employers to bargain in good faith with organized labor. Social Security and unemployment insurance. The Works Projects Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps. A national minimum wage. And to contain Wall Street: The Securities Act and Glass-Steagall Act…

A nation of losers

Charles Pierce is on to something regarding the casino mentality that has slowly poisoned this country over the years since the first non-Nevada casinos in America opened:

…Consider: Most every state in the Union, including the Commonwealth (God save it!) here, would rather build 20 casinos than risk raising taxes a dime, as though gambling itself were not a brutal tax. (How do I know this? Because once, long ago, on the night Mark McGwire and his pharmacist went past Roger Maris and his bartender for the single-season home run record, I sat in a casino in Tunica, Mississippi, and watched a 300-pound woman with oxygen tubes up her nose feed quarters into a slot machine while wearing a T-shirt that said, “Jesus Is The Answer.” This was the same trip on which I saw a billboard outside Vicksburg that suggested, “Sell Your Car For Cash.”) The entire Republican economic plan is one long gamble on a bunch of economic theories that already have failed twice in my lifetime. Ask even earnest young liberals how you manage to get a middle class without a manufacturing base, an active government, and strong unions, and you get the same kind of shrug you get along the rail when you ask someone why they bet the 5-horse when the creature plainly has hooves the size of a country ham. Ask Willard Romney the same thing, and he makes even less sense…

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