Tennessee state legislature passes monstrosity called the "Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act," which would (among other things!) actually protect students from being punished if they indulge in anti-gay bullying. After all, didn't Jesus specifically instruct his Apostles to bully gays whenever they could? I kid, of course. But seriously, don't right-wingers understand that when they try to declare that they need "protection" from the natural consequences of their bigotry, they sound exactly like the whining diaper-loaded brats they constantly accuse liberals of being?
Daily Kos diarist finds some hope in the early Hobby Lobby arguments before the Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby, you recall, is the corporation claiming it (that's right, it) has the "religious freedom" to refuse to comply with the Obama Administration's mandate to cover birth control medication for its employees. I'll admit Justice Kennedy's very specific question as to the rights of employees rather than employers is the right one, even the crucial one, but Justice Kennedy often thinks with his heart rather than his head, and though that's worked toward justice in the past (cf. several pro-gay rights and anti-"tough on crime" decisions), it's also worked the other way (cf. several abortion-related decisions).
Sarah Vogel instructs us that corporations are replacing BPA in plastics with chemicals that are, or might be, even worse. Our right-wing friends may tell us that this proves that ALL YER ACTIVIZMZ FAIL!!!!!, but what it actually tells us is that activism is hard, and requires even more of us than the immense effort to which we've already committed. It also tells us we need better chemical regulations, since a lot of what's replacing BPA in plastics hasn't even been tested before it hits the market.
Fallen prey to the argument that exporting fracked natural gas will help keep our European friends from depending on Russian natural gas? Dean Baker reminds us that Europe has already committed to renewable energy sources in such a way that its demand for Russian natural gas simply isn't as high as some of our punditoids would like it to be. Better to let the demand for Russian natural gas die on its own, at the hands of solar and wind, which now account for a full quarter of Germany's energy demand.
Harold Meyerson details recent government efforts to crack down on employee "misclassification," which term describes the practice of calling full-time employees "temps" or "independent contractors" so corporations can pay them less and deny them benefits. Those efforts to crack down have an interesting side effect -- they make it far easier for the no-longer-"misclassified" employees to organize and bargain collectively. You can almost see the wheels turning in Barack Obama's head in 2010: "Blanche Lincoln stands in the way of the Employee Free Choice Act? No problem; we'll just crack down on employee misclassification, after everyone's stopped looking, of course." I'm no fan of 13-dimensional chess, as you know, but if it works here, I'm happy to be a grown-up and admit it.
Finally, Sen. Portman (R-OH) introduces the Federal Permitting Improvement Act of 2013, which would "improve" the federal permits process by limiting public comments on federal infrastructure projects. And it would create another group of bureaucrats to stop our government from considering a project's environmental impact, even though right-wingers never stop whining about all the bureaucrats we already have. Some "improvement." And yet I can't escape the feeling that it'll impress a President Obama "hungry" for "bipartisanship" and "streamlining government," which casts a worse light on that aforementioned game of 13-dimensional chess he seems to be playing.