Live from Austin: Texas war on women stymied by people power, for now


Political drama of the highest order unfolded here in Austin late Tuesday night. Conservative legislators planned to pass new restrictions and onerous regulations on clinics offering pregnancy counseling for thousands of women in Texas. By yesterday they were under the gun, the session due to close at midnight, with a key piece of the Republican war on women still waiting in the wings like an old sing-song bill waiting on capital hill. Then state senator Wendy Davis got the floor, refused to yield, and the people’s filibuster was on: [Read more…]

Texas GOP uses procedural technicality to silence woman lawmaker


Life feed of Texas Ledge 25 June, 2013
Update: Live Ustream outside capital … vote was taken at … 11:66 PM 25 June 2013, ahem. Texas ledge page was then “retrodated” to show just before midnight, making this one of the most shameful nights in Lone Star politics ever recorded. There is some disagreement between what Texas GOP says and what clerk is currently reporting as passed. Either way, progressives are pissed and registering new voters as you read this.

A battle has been raging in Texas, but the end may be near. A short time ago the filibuster was broken by a procedural technicality by GOP lawmakers in Texas. This story is moving fast, best followed on Twitter at #SB5 and TXLedge for starters. Context below but make no mistake folks, this bill is going through. If not tonight they’ll gin up a special session or cook up some governor magic. The idea is to make it as hard as possible and expose the clowns hoping to further restrict women’s’ rights. [Read more…]

Court strikes down part of Voting Rights Act

Via my colleague Jed Lewison at Daily Kos — The Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. According to analysis from NBC’s Pete Williams, the court upheld the Section 5 notion of preclearance—requiring locales with history of racial discrimination to preclear any changes of their voting laws with the Department of Justice—but struck down the map identifying which areas must be subject to preclearance. According to Williams, this means Congress could, in theory, pass a law creating a new map of locales subject to preclearance. Assuming the Court approved the map, it would go into effect. On a practical level, however, it essentially means the end of preclearance because there’s virtually no chance of Congress agreeing on a new map. Therefore, given the current Congress, the effect of the ruling is to render Section 5 moot, although in theory at some point in the future it’s conceivable that a new map could be drawn that would revive Section 5.

Joe Klein takes obligatory swipe at atheists

A ‘thank you’ sign left by one of the residents whose property the atheists helped clear (Kai Tancredi)

Joe Klein knows how to sling the link bait. In his world, hits matter and integrity does not. In his latest, the inexplicably successful columnist gets the warm fuzzies for religious relief orgs in Moore, OK, the community hit by devastating tornadoes. Had he stopped there and continued on talking about post traumatic stress syndrome and how well military-trained  personnel do disaster relief, he might have slid under the decency bar.

But Klein had to add “funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals”. Hermant Mehta blogging at Patheos points out not only is this offensive and just plain mean, it’s flatly untrue and Mr DC Journalism utterly failed to perform basic reporting procedure in his Time Magazine cover story. [Read more…]

The Church of the non-believer

Members of an atheist congregation at Harvard listen to music during a recent gathering. Image courtesy CNN

Members of an atheist congregation at Harvard listen to music during a recent gathering. Image courtesy CNN

What it means to be human can be surprisingly difficult to define. But many aspects of being human are easy to spot. One of those is we like singing familiar songs, hearing traditional stories, maybe some special, secret ritual stuff thrown in, feasting or sacrificing, while celebrating our individual and collective successes and comforting those in pain, and we like to do this as a group, a tribe. It’s part of who we are.

Anthropologists theorize with good reason that this informal dynamic has been at work stretching back at least to the domestication of fire, or even the divvying up of the meal, or more accurately, the social circles we formed around those activities. Some think religion has a lock on it today, but one former pentecostal pastor disagrees in a big way, he now holds services for the godless: [Read more…]

Honchos and worker bees


Watching the reaction to Edward Snowden’s revelations has been entertaining to say the least. Almost every media personality I’ve observed speak on it either talks about how they don’t trust him, or prefaces their concerns over the message with an obligatory swipe at the messenger. The latter often includes a shot not just at Snowden but at Glenn Greenwald, the UK Guardian journalist who brought the material to light.

It seems a bit over the top. Snowden and Greenwald appear subject to a standard of accuracy and at times vitriol quite different than the one facing high ranking NSA and contractor personnel. There is reason to be skeptical of spies in general, but why the high ranking spooks who have been caught splitting semantic hairs, evading, and glossing over key details are not much part of the story, while every last thing Snowden says is scrutinized for the slightest inconsistency, is puzzling. Perhaps what we’re seeing is a secret version of something many reading this would identify with: the difference in the treatment, perception and motive for corporate bigwigs vs the observations of rank and file worker. [Read more…]