Fourth of July Reads

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Good Morning and Happy 4th of July!!

The media is continuing to breathlessly report that 73-year-old registered Independent Bernie Sanders is threatening Hillary Clinton’s chances for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Can you get the Democratic nomination if you are not registered as a Democrat? Earth to media: it’s not even 2016 yet–not even close. Sigh . . .

CNN: Sanders snags key endorsement in New Hampshire. Wow! Some woman with a strange name that no one has ever heard of before is rooting for Sanders. Bernie-Mentum!!!

Longtime New Hampshire Democratic activist Dudley Dudley told CNN Friday that she has decided to endorse Bernie Sanders for the Democratic 2016 nomination. Her decision comes less than two months after she hosted O’Malley at both her Durham, New Hampshire homes.

Since then, according to a recent CNN/WMUR New Hampshire primary poll, frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s lead over Sanders has shrunk from 38 percentage points to 8, with O’Malley trailing both. Likely Democratic primary voters are now more apt to see Sanders as the candidate who “best represents the values of Democrats like yourself,” the poll found.

Sanders recently finished a two-day swing through the state that saw 500-person crowds and high attendance at more intimate house parties.

Dudley told CNN she was won over by Sanders focus on money in politics, but was particularly impressed by his style of delivering his message.

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How nice for Bernie and Dudley Dudley. Meanwhile Hillary “the fighter” Clinton is defending her liberal record, according to Politico.

Hillary Clinton: ‘I take a backseat to no one’ on liberal record.

Hanover, N.H. — Hillary Clinton arrived in this liberal New England enclave with a message for anyone thinking about voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders of next-door Vermont: “I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values.” ….

“We have to take on the gun lobby one more time,” said Clinton, speaking without notes or a teleprompter in front of a crowd of about 850 Dartmouth students and native Granite Staters. “The majority of gun owners support universal background checks, and we have to work very hard to muster the public opinion to convince Congress that’s what they should vote for.”

She said it was the “height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.” Sanders, who represents a pro-gun constituency, has voted against the Brady Bill, which required federal background checks for gun purchasers, as well as other major bills supported by gun-control advocates.

She also signaled that she would have no problem defending President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda.

“If the country elects a Republican president, then they will repeal the Affordable Care Act,” she warned. “Let’s elect a Democratic president who is committed to quality affordable health care.”

She praised Obama’s moves to help the country recover from the economic crisis and said Republicans who say the recovery is too slow “just don’t know the theory of original sin,” blaming “the kind of poor management and bad economic policies that put us into the ditch in the first place.”

Go to the link to read some ignorant negative comments about Hillary that CNN was able to dig up.

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If I sound irritable, it’s because I am. I read JJ’s Friday night post before I started this one and got really angry about the woman who was denied life-saving care at a Catholic hospital. That and the constant burning and itching that is still spreading all over my body are making me so agitated that I’d like to find the nearest low-information voter and strangle him or her.

ABC News on Hillary:  Hillary Clinton Not Fazed by Bernie Sanders’ Crowds.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, the Democratic presidential front-runner responded to a question from a reporter about the massive crowds her challenger, Vermont Sen.Bernie Sanders, has seen at his own campaign events this week.

“We each run our own campaigns and I always knew this was going to be competitive,” Clinton said at Dairy Twirl ice cream shop in Lebanon, New Hampshire, when asked about the growing support behind Sanders and how he’s seeing crowds even bigger than she is.

“I want to have a great debate in the primary and caucus around the country and that is what I am looking forward to,” she added.

Not that anyone in the not-so-liberal media will take her words at face value. They will continue to insist that she is in danger of losing to someone who isn’t a Democrat and that she’s worried sick about it.

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George Talei had the temerity to speak the truth about Clarence Thomas a couple of days ago, and now he has been pressured into apologizing.

Huffington Post: George Takei Calls Justice Clarence Thomas A ‘Clown In Blackface’ Over Marriage Equality Dissent.

George Takei has come under fire this week for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface” over the judge’s stance on marriage equality. However, the “Star Trek” actor insists that his comment was not racially motivated.

During an interview with Fox 10 Phoenix, Takei, who is gay, discussed the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Takei said he was “angry” at Thomas, who dissented to the decision, for his position on the issue.

“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court,” said Takei. “He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there.”

What did Thomas say that made Takei so angry? Some pretty awful stuff.

In his dissent, Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government,” adding: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

Takei, whose family was held inside a Japanese internment camp during World War II, took issue with this logic.

“For him to say slaves have dignity, I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back?” Takei said. “My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified?… This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”

I think Takei was absolutely right about Thomas. But the pressure was too much for him, I guess.

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CNN reports: George Takei walks back ‘blackface’ remark about Clarence Thomas.

Takei said on Friday that his words “were not carefully considered.”

“When asked by a reporter about the opinion, I was still seething, and I referred to him as a ‘clown in blackface’ to suggest that he had abdicated and abandoned his heritage,” Takei said in a Facebook post. “This was not intended to be racist, but rather to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts. While I continue to disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered.”

The full apology is on Takei’s Facebook page.

A few follow-ups to previous big stories:

WBAL TV11: Sign inside Baltimore police van under investigation. Sign posted inside van: ‘Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!’

The Baltimore City Police Department has launched an internal investigation after a WBAL-TV 11 News viewer shared four photographs of a sign inside a city police wagon.

The photos show the doors of the parked police van left open. On the inside of the back door is a sign, attached or possibly stenciled on, that reads: “Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!”

The pictures were taken Tuesday near the Central District Police Station on Baltimore Street.

The sign’s placement makes it clear that this is a message for people who are arrested to see after they’re put in the back of the van and the doors are shut.

Police Department officials told 11 News the photos are real and they triggered an internal investigation.

Nice, after the BPD killed Freddie Gray with a rough ride in a police van.

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Now deceased prison escapee Richard Matt sent a letter to his daughter before he and David Sweat broke out of a “maximum security” prison in Dannamora, NY.

From the Buffalo News: ‘See you on the outside,’ Matt said in letter delivered to daughter in Buffalo suburb.

“I always promised you I would see you on the outside. I’m a man of my word,” a portion of the letter stated, according to information obtained by The Buffalo News from law enforcement officials.

The letter was postmarked prior to the June 6 escape and arrived June 9.

Matt had maintained a correspondence with his daughter while serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life for murder, acquaintances of the daughter confirmed.

But authorities say the daughter had no idea in advance that her father was planning an escape from Clinton Correctional Facility. Once he and David P. Sweat broke out, she fully cooperated with investigators. In fact, she requested round-the-clock protection, fearing that Matt would attempt to see her while he was on the run. That never happened.

The State.com: EXCLUSIVE: Charges possible against church shooter’s associates.

A joint state and federal investigation into the activities of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof has widened to include other persons of interest, according to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing investigation.

The expanded scope of the investigation now includes people with whom Roof associated in the weeks before the June 17 shootings of nine African-Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the sources said. Roof, 21, of Columbia, is white.

Although it appears Roof traveled alone to and from Charleston on the day of the killings, it is possible others had some knowledge of what he planned to carry out, said the sources, who are not being identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Investigators began to explore how much Roof’s associates knew, and when they knew it, after reviewing his cellphone and computer records, the sources said.

Prosecutors are still studying exactly what charges, if any, some of those associates might face, the sources said.

The New York Times Friday, citing sources with knowledge of the investigation, also said federal and state authorities have found Roof had been in contact with white supremacists online, though it does not appear they encouraged him to carry out the massacre.

More details at the link.

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Do you have blue eyes?

If so, you might find this story from Pioneer News interesting and/or alarming: New Study Suggests Potential Link Between Alcoholism and Eye Color.

Alcoholism is a major problem in the United States. Previous studies have identified that genetics may play a factor in dependency but a new study suggests that blue eyes might also encourage the eventual development of alcoholism.

Study co-author Dawei Li is an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. He says, “These are complex disorders. There are many genes, and there are many environmental triggers.”

Additionally, lead study co-author Aris Sulovari is a doctoral student in cellular, molecular, and biological sciences at the university. He adds, “This suggests an intriguing possibility – that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis.”

The researchers looked at data from 10,000 people—mostly those of African or European America descent—who had been diagnosed with more than one psychiatric disorder which might include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, in addition to alcohol or drug dependence.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a fabulous holiday weekend.


Friday Nite Lite Up Your Ass: Because Religious Freedom 

 

Debbie Harry ftom back in the day…celebrated her 70th birthday this past week … notice the word JUST in the headline .

And a big fuck you to those who support this shit…sorry I should have warned y’all the language was going to be “just” a bit over the dam in the….are you Goddamn killing me with this Religious Freedom shit.
Well, no….they almost killed her, but what is “just” one more female life anyway?

(Just being in quotes mind you….Google Exec: Women, Stop Saying ‘Just’ So Much, You Sound Like Children)

Back to the story at hand….

 

 

 

Miscarrying Lady Almost Dies At Catholic Hospital, But At Least She Didn’t Get An Abortion | Wonkette

How cool is Steve Brodner? Cool enough that he gave us permission to use this within five minutes of asking!

…you’re going to want to remove any heavy objects from the vicinity of your computer before you read this one, lest you hurl anything through your monitor (mobile users are advised to tie down their throwing arms). Tuesday, a federal district judge in Michigan dismissed a woman’s lawsuit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and three chairs or former chairs of the Catholic hospital chain that owns Mercy Health Partners’ hospital in Muskegon, Michigan. In 2010, Tamesha Means was only 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke and she went to Mercy — one of only two hospitals in Muskegon County, which are both owned by the same Catholic company, Trinity Health. We’ll let the ACLU tell you how that went:

Based on the bishops’ religious directives, the hospital sent her home twice even though Tamesha was in excruciating pain; there was virtually no chance that her pregnancy could survive, and continuing the pregnancy posed significant risks to her health.

Because of its Catholic affiliation and binding directives, the hospital told Tamesha that there was nothing it could do and did not tell Tamesha that terminating her pregnancy was an option and the safest course for her condition. When Tamesha returned to the hospital a third time in extreme distress and with an infection, the hospital once again prepared to send her home. While staff prepared her discharge paperwork, she began to deliver. Only then did the hospital begin tending to Tamesha’s miscarriage.

The severely premature baby she delivered died after a few hours. With the help of the ACLU, Means sued, seeking damages and a ruling that the Bishops’ directives — the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” — were negligent, since they precluded her from receiving potentially life-saving care, including an abortion. Even though, one more time, she was miscarrying and there was virtually no chance the fetus could be saved. The ACLU sought not only compensation for Means, “but also to prevent other women in her situation from suffering similar harm in the future,” as the legal complaint put it.

Ya know, it ain’t the first time this has happened…it is definitely not the last time it will either. But that it is even happening in the first place is enough of an outrage. Read the rest of the horror at the link. I just want to give you one more nugget:

…you can’t sue bishops for setting up hospital rules that might injure or kill women, because Religious Freedom. Judge Robert Holmes Bell dismissed the suit without a hearing on the evidence, as explained by the Muskegon Chronicle:

Bell cited two basic reasons for the dismissal:

  • Michigan federal courts have no jurisdiction over the bishops’ conference for policy directives issued by the Washington, D.C.-based organization.
  • It’s improper for courts to interfere in religious doctrinal decisions, which Bell concluded was behind the anti-abortion policy directives. Considering the Muskegon woman’s negligence claim would “impermissibly intrude upon ecclesiastical matters,” the judge wrote in his opinion.

Yeah…ah, she could still sue the doctors, but so fucking chance of touching the church, or the church backed hospital. Because, Religious Freedom. Those two words breed hate, discrimination and death where ever they are used as justification for anything.

Now for the funnies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

List of X: 10 Reactions To Supreme Court’s Legalization Of Same-Sex Marriage | List of X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an open thread….


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I guess Dakinikat told you about what happened to me. I did some yard work on Monday and had a terrible allergic reaction to something–probably poison oak, judging from the pictures on the internet. My nephews and I were cutting down a bush that had other weeds entwined in it, but the boys didn’t have any reactions.

I’ve gotten this rash before in my mother’s yard, but this time it was much worse than I’ve ever experienced. It started on my left inner arm where I was holding things to cut. Soon it was on my right arm, and next all over my face and neck. I had huge hives under each eye. I even have it on my eyelids! My face is completely red and it has spread into my ears, behind my ears, the back of my neck, my outer arms, hands, and upper arms.

I tried to treat it with Benedryl and anti-itch creams, but yesterday I felt so sick that I went to an urgent care clinic where they gave me Prednisone. I took the first dose yesterday, but the stuff is still spreading and I have new hives on my arms this morning. I’m taking Allegra, and the doctor told me to take 50 mg of Benedryl every six hours on top of that. So please send me some good vibes, and thanks for your sympathetic comments yesterday. I hope you’ll understand if this post isn’t too fancy.

Now for some news:

Bobby Jindal continues to be a dick about the SCOTUS same sex marriage decision. As of Wednesday night, he was still refusing to recognize gay marriages in Louisiana. First he claimed that he needed to wait for a lower court ruling; and when that court told him to allow marriage equality, he said he still had to wait for a another court decision. That kind of bigoted might work in Southern states and maybe Iowa, but I don’t think it will go over too well in New Hampshire.

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The Times-Pickayune reports that as of today, the Bobby Jindal administration will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in downtown New Orleans.

New Orleans is finally allowed to join the rest of Louisiana and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Following a court ruling ordering it to do so, Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s administration agreed Thursday (July 2) afternoon to allow the state Department of Vital Records in downtown New Orleans to issue the marriage licenses. Every other marriage license office in the state began doing so earlier this week.

“Today the Eastern District Court of Louisiana ordered the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who complete a marriage application at the Department’s Office of Vital Records in Orleans Parish,” said Olivia Hwang, spokeswoman for the agency on Thursday afternoon.

Orleans Parish is the only place where a state agency — not a court clerk — is in charge of authorizing marriage documents.  So, unlike elsewhere in the state, Jindal had more control in Orleans over the issuing of marriage licenses. Same-sex couples who wanted to be married in Orleans were having to travel to the 2nd City Court in Algiers for a license this week.

The administration was forced to relent following Thursday’s U.S. District Court ruling that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The district court was responding to the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court last week to recognize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Is there a bigger asshole on earth than Bobby Jindal? Come to think of it, he has lots of competition among the GOP presidential candidates. Case in point, Donald Trump.

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CNN: Trump defends inflammatory comments, asks ‘Who is doing the raping?’

Businessman Donald Trump continued his verbal attack against illegal immigrants on Wednesday, in an interview on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.

He has stirred up controversy in recent days for claiming “rapists” and “killers” are migrating over the United States’ southern border. Univision and NBC Universal have cut ties with the businessman, refusing to air the “Miss Universe” pageant he partially owns as a result, and Macy’s announced Wednesday it was also discontinuing his clothing line.

On Wednesday, Trump, who is a Republican presidential candidate, told Lemon he was pulling his facts from a Fusion article.

“Well if you look at the statistics of people coming, you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything coming in illegally into this country it’s mind-boggling!” he told Lemon, in a clip previewed on CNN’s “Situation Room.”

“If you go to Fusion, you will see a story: About 80% of the women coming in, you know who owns Fusion? Univision! Go to Fusion and pick up the stories on rape. It’s unbelievable when you look at what’s going on. So all I’m doing is telling the truth,” Trump said.

Lemon replied that the press stories are about women being raped, but not about criminals coming across the border.

“Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don! I mean somebody’s doing it! Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?” he asked.

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At the National Journal, Lauren Fox asks, Why Is Donald Trump Polling So Well?

Macy’s is ditching him, NBC has let him go, and Univision refuses to broadcast his famed beauty pageant. But American voters are still entertaining the idea of President Donald Trump.

In a Republican presidential field rich with esteemed governors and senators, tough-talking businessman Trump has managed to rise in the polls to be a top-tier candidate even after he elicited controversy for his statements about Mexican immigrants during his campaign announcement.

A CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday showed Trump had 12 percent of the vote among Republicans and Republican-leaners, second only to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who earned 19 percent. A Quinnipiac poll, which was also out Wednesday, revealed Trump was also tied for second with Dr. Ben Carson among likely Republican caucus voters in Iowa. Carson and Trump each had 10 percent of the vote. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker led the pack with 18 percent.

Fox writes that “so many qualified Republican presidential contenders out there, Trump’s rise is not expected to last.” I wonder who these GOP candidates she thinks are so “qualified”?

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The media mavens are all excited because Bernie Sanders is attracting big crowds. From The Christian Science Monitor: Support swells for Bernie Sanders, he attracts biggest crowd to date (+video).

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont joined the Democratic race for the White House as a long shot, but he continues gaining momentum since he first emerged as Hillary Clinton’s biggest primary challenger.

The self-described “democratic socialist” has been gaining ground on the front-runner in Iowa, an important early marker of primary success. His support has more than doubled since May, with 33 percent of Democratic caucus-goers in the state favoring the Vermont senator, compared with 52 percent for Clinton, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

A stop in Wisconsin on Wednesday garnered his biggest crowd to date, with 10,000 people packing the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison.

I don’t know why anyone is surprised that Sanders has some strong support in Madison, Wisconsin, but good for him.

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From ABC News: How Bernie Sanders Is Attracting Monster Crowds (and Whether Hillary Should Be Worried).

The event [in Madison] was not an anomaly either. In June, 5,500 people came out to see Sen. Sanders in Denver, Colorado. In May, another 3,500 people attended a rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Sanders. And approximately 5,000 people gathered in April in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont, for his campaign launch, roughly the same number who attended frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign kickoff event in New York City.

“Also impressive,” Briggs added, “In Rochester, Minnesota, this morning — on a Thursday morning — we had 600 people for an hour-long town hall meeting,” The list of these smaller, but still relatively impressively well-attended events goes on and on. In the end of May, 300 people turned up for an event for Sanders in Kensett, Iowa, a rural town where only around 240 people live.

The campaign gauges interest in upcoming events based on RSVPs through their website and has had to change venues on more than one occasion based on a large number of people signed up to attend. It has already changed its venue for an event in Portland, Maine, on Monday, where the campaign expects more than 5,000 people to attend.

All this buzz is translating to movement in the polls, too. According to a Quinnipiac poll out today, the independent Vermont senator now trails Clinton (52–33 percent) among likely Democratic Iowa caucus goers. And in New Hampshire, WMUR has Sanders within eight points of Clinton (43-35), when just two months ago a previous poll there had him down by over 20 points.

Sanders does not have a PAC and he says he does not want donations from corporations. Still, according to a note out from the campaign today, he has raised an impressive $15 million since launching his campaign on April 30. They say that total comes from 250,000 individual donors, with the average donation size around $33 dollars.

I don’t want to hear any of these Sanders fans complaining about Hillary Clinton’s age. He’s 73 and she’s 67. BTW, Jim Webb, who announce his candidacy yesterday if 69. Has anyone remarked on how old he is?

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Meanwhile, Hillary raised a stunning $45 million in primary money over the first quarter. From The Washington Post: Here’s just how impressive Hillary Clinton’s $45 million haul is, by Philip Bump.

Hillary Clinton’s team teased its first fundraising numbers on Tuesday, suggesting that the campaign had pulled in over $45 million from April to June. That’s a lot of money by “normal American” standards. It’s also a lot of money by “presidential primary candidate” standards.

First, some perspective. If I handed you a dollar bill every second, starting at midnight on April 1, you wouldn’t have $45 million until September. If I handed you a $5 bill every second — you still wouldn’t have as much as Clinton raised by the time July 1 rolled around.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Clinton’s quarterly total is the highest for a non-incumbent in the year before an election. She even raised more than two of the three quarters Barack Obama was fundraising as an incumbent president in 2011.

Check out some charts at the WaPo link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great Fourth of July weekend!

 


Thursday Reads

jackson squareGood afternoon!

BostonBoomer got into a bad fight with a bush that needed trimming and came out the loser yesterday.  She’s laid up at her mother’s house with a terrible, horrible, awful, very bad rash.  So, I’m writing today’s post and it’s on the tardy side as usual these days.  I’ve never been a morning person but now I have no reason to be since all my lectures, etc. happen in the evening. So, I’m just going to get us caught up on some thoughts today on the cultural shift of the last few weeks and give you a few suggested reads.

There’s some interesting things going on in New Orleans that I thought I’d share with you.  We’re a southern city in a southern state even though our history is more nuanced that some of the other southern states and cities.  There are two very prominent statues in the city from our past.  The first is one of Andrew Jackson atop a stallion to recognize his role in the Battle of New Orleans.LA-Bldg_0170_1_2_3_4_tone-merge-1024x605

The second statue stands on top of a huge column and is part of a traffic roundabout called Lee Circle.  It is, of course, a statue of Robert E. Lee the Confederate General.  Lee looks more than a little defiant with his back to the Mississippi and his arms crossed. He faces due North.  

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has decided that he’d like to take down the statue and rename the circle because he feels that it’s a little too much of a monument to a confederate general.  My question is when do we cross the line from glorification of past sins to erasing some history that we need to really discuss and understand.

Lee was not exactly Nathan Bedford Forrest, the ex-Confederate General who helped to found the KKK. Nor, was Lee a particularly gung-ho Confederate General to start out with if you remember your history.  Lee did something completely different than Forrest after the Civil War.  He became an educator and an advocate of educating black Americans. Lee also freed his slaves 10 years before the war. So, he was a complex man with a complex history as are most of our historical figures.  Still, both of these men who led an insurrection need to be understood without glorification. Can a monument area become an outdoor teaching museum made to elucidate instead of glorify just as many of our National Parks and Museums already do.

After the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson became a U.S. President who is notable for the “Trail of Tears” which was the policy of forcibly and violently removing Native Americans from their land.  The Chocktaw nation was removed from their land in the south and sent on what amounted to a death march west to what is now Oklahoma.  There are two National Parks where Jackson figures prominently. One is the Chalmette Battlefield site where the Battle of New Orleans took place.  The other is Trail of Tears National History Trail.   One is a site of national pride.  The other is a site of national shame.  Jackson, you may recall, is still etched on our $20 bill. If any one’s statue needs to come down it is surely that of Andrew Jackson.

However, history is a nuanced bitch and should never be white washed or banned or removed.  While I fully support removing the Confederate Battle Flag off of public buildings that aren’t museums, I question the wisdom of Mitch Landrieu and others who want to remove monuments rather than use them as an opportunity to teach.

Again, If any one deserves to have all his monuments torn down it is the genocidal Jackson.   Yet, without the win at the Battle of New Orleans we might have a totally different history with the British.  The citizenry who could vote at the time made him President.  He was an extremely controversial President and at times very unpopular for a variety of reasons.  Studying the variety of reasons helps us to learn about past mistakes and the ramifications of these mistakes to our present and future.

Andrew Jackson had long been an advocate of what he called “Indian removal.” As an Army general, he had spent years leading brutal campaigns against the Creeks in Georgia and Alabama and the Seminoles in Florida–campaigns that resulted in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of acres of land from Indian nations to white farmers. As president, he continued this crusade. In 1830, he signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the “Indian colonization zone” that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. (This “Indian territory” was located in present-day Oklahoma.)

The law required the government to negotiate removal treaties fairly, voluntarily and peacefully: It did not permit the president or anyone else to coerce Native nations into giving up their land. However, President Jackson and his government frequently ignored the letter of the law and forced Native Americans to vacate lands they had lived on for generations. In the winter of 1831, under threat of invasion by the U.S. Army, the Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether. They made the journey to Indian territory on foot (some “bound in chains and marched double file,” one historian writes) and without any food, supplies or other help from the government. Thousands of people died along the way. It was, one Choctaw leader told an Alabama newspaper, a “trail of tears and death.”

This is what Mitch says about removing the Lee Statue and redoing Lee Circle. 

Now is the time to talk about replacing the statue of Robert E. Lee, as iconic as it is controversial, from its perch at the center of Lee Circle, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced Wednesday (June 24) during a gathering held to highlight his racial reconciliation initiative.

“Symbols really do matter,” he said. “Symbols should reflect who we really are as a people.

“We have never been a culture, in essence, that revered war rather than peace, division rather than unity.”

[Listen to Landrieu’s speech on why Lee Circle should be renamed, or read a full article on his announcement here. ]

The slaying last week of nine black people in a historic Charleston, S.C., church at the hands of Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist, has sparked heated debate about whether the Confederate battle flag and other symbols associated with the country’s racist past ought to be displayed in public places.

Just two days ago, Landrieu was noncommittal when asked whether the Lee statue should be removed, though he called for a larger discussion on it and other Confederate monuments in New Orleans. The 2018 Tricentennial Commission, whose tasks include addressing the city’s complex racial history ahead of its 300th anniversary, would also examine the propriety of the monuments continued display on public property, the mayor’s office said.

“These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols — statues, monuments, street names, and more — still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future.”

Now, I will give him credit if he manages to get Jefferson Davis Parkway renamed.  That shocked me the first time I saw it.  But, there’s an opportunity lost in the Lee Circle suggestion.  That opportunity is to highlight a complex moment in history and a complex man.  One of his former slaves Rev. William Mac Lee wrote some fascinating bits about their lives together.  

There are many more things that we could learn about the horrible institution of slavery and the men that enabled it. That’s a real conversation we need to have about race.  That institution has shaped race relations in this country.  We can’t bury or white wash the past by removing all elements of it.  We need not glorify the men, but we do need to understand the history and work to ensure we correct the sins and errors of the past. We also, need to instruct on how their actions inform our lives now by including more into these monuments or parks. Rev William Mac Lee wrote this about his former owner.

I was raised by one of the greatest men in the world. There was never one born of a woman greater than Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to my judgment. All of his servants were set free ten years before the war, but all remained on the plantation until after the surrender.

trailoftears05We have an opportunity in these places where monuments reside to discuss the sins, the complexities, and all of the people impacted both past, present and future.  There’s more than enough land there to introduce us to William Mac Lee and his descendants as they struggle to navigate the post Civil War South as well as understand the ways that Lee atoned and evolved.

Even statues of the nasty Nathan Bedford Forrest give us an opportunity to put a face and history on the horrible acts of the KKK including lynchings which were frequent and savage in many parts of our country. So, rather than just bury this history and these men, why not use the sites to explore the history of the lives they shaped?  Lee became an advocate of black education even while maintaining the racist notions of the time that African Americans were savages that could eventually be brought to full status through education.  That’s an attitude that needs elucidation because it still informs many in the South. I remember thinking of Lee when Barbara Bush made her pronouncement at the AstroDome on Katrina refuges.  Forrest created the original domestic terrorist organization.  How did these men take such different paths? How far have we come or not come since then?

So, in all of this call to bring down monuments, I hear no similar call to remove the statue of the genocidal Jackson that is also surrounded by enough land for us to be regaled not only with his victory at the Battle of New Orleans but his savage treatment of the Southern Tribes.  The square could be used to connect the Jackson of Chalmette Battlefield to the Jackson of The Trail of Tears.  For some reason, we seem incapable of grabbing teaching moments when they are upon us.  But think, no one plowed under the major concentration camps and there are Holocaust Museums.  They are are there for us to learn, understand, and evolve.

The SPLC has asked that holidays celebrated in the names of Jeff Davis and Robert E Lee be dropped.  This is appropriate.  It’s important to remove the glorification even while we search for deeper understanding of the acts, men, and history.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has launched an online petition asking that Alabama and four other states drop holidays honoring Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

“It’s time to stop the celebrations,” the petition says. “We should honor those who represent American ideals, not those who led the fight to preserve slavery.”

The other states listed are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

The petition follows other calls to remove symbols honoring the Confederacy since the murders of nine African-American worshipers at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., two weeks ago.

Gov. Robert Bentley had Confederate flags removed from a monument on the north side of the state Capitol last week.

In Birmingham today, a city board voted to explore removal of a Confederate monument from Linn Park.

SPLC President Richard Cohen said it was a good time to act on the organization’s concerns about holidays honoring Confederate President Davis and Lee, the South’s top general.

“We thought that now, while the public is sensitive to these issues and in some sense has a broader understanding of the nature of these kinds of symbols, that it would be a good time to put this issue on the public agenda,” Cohen said.

He said the petition was a way to start conversation.

“Why we honor people who fought to preserve slavery is a question I think the public has to ask itself,” Cohen said.

Again, it is a completely different thing to revere or honor bad actors.  So, I’m a firm advocate of museums, parks, and national historic sites that tell the full picture.  I’m not in favor of glorification.  Maybe, we should also have a conversation on the true stories behind the Thanksgiving myths eventually.  Plus, some one needs to talk to Mitch Landrieu about Andrew Jackson.  The man committed genocide plain and simple. But that’s enough from me!!!

Here’s a few interesting things that you might want to read today.

So, that’s my thoughts and suggestions for today.

What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Wednesday Reads: Clowns, Rainbows and Pandas

1ccca3098165d541a0f317a49e6fa02aGood Morning

What a fabulous week it has been for those of us with GLBT family and friends. It does feel good to know that my 7926e78cc651b090851ec2da26316142uncle…my friends here on the blog, my good friends from high school…my daughter’s best buddies, my son’s friends too…can legally gain the rights, respect and dignity that they deserve…as human beings.

This is the point of all these rainbows innit? And here we are days after the ruling, and still people are posting hateful shit on social media. They don’t get it.

I want to share something with you, written by one of my daughter’s very good friends…Her name is Jemha, it was written last week but it still does make a huge point:

Jemha

 

Smart cookie isn’t she.

10999985_966134726743787_4490115553396602658_n

And what about all the fuss doing with flags, black ones with dildos…confederate ones? This is another point that bothers me, as I look around at social media (Facebook) because this is where my “friends” are mostly found hanging out.

13d9e92cb0f60a7ffc5deb268f88d52dAgain, I am amazed at how many people don’t “get it” but I will use Jemha again as an example…she is half-black, half-Haitian. When my daughter is enjoying a Blizzard in a Blue Ridge Dairy Queen with Jemha, and they actually feel so intimidated…they are all afraid, because of the racist assholes glares and scowls and threatening looks…with the confederate flag on display everywhere. This is Hate. And it is directed at both girls.

That is a reality, that is what so many don’t understand, and it is so frustrating for me that many of my friends who are very intelligent…don’t get it. Yes, freedom of speech is one thing. But there is a line that is crossed when freedom of speech becomes: hate motivated intimidation, terroristic threats, hate crimes, etc.

The actions and statements made by assclown right-wing religious racist bigots of late hurt my family and friends. And I do not like to see my people treated unfairly, unkindly or disrespected.

Am I going to stand up for my friends and family? You bet your fucking ass I will…

be7c9dc5f379c77a754ef804c2dfcc46I am so sick of folks using religion as an excuse to discriminate and spread their hate and racist agenda against people of color (Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Green, whatever.) And….when they plead religious freedom as an excuse to manipulate and control women and deny us reproductive healthcare, or scream religious liberty against GLBTs to avoid following the law of the land….this is not what the Constitution is all about.

They preach their righteousness and pass judgement when hypocrisy is the cornerstone of everything they stand for….This does not sit well with me. Whatever the religious folks want to do in their own private lives within their own house is their business….but do not come and force their version of religion liberty upon everyone else, by taking away the liberty of those they hate and despise.

Anyway, that isn’t anything new for you all to read. Boston Boomer said the same thing last week. Now, here are your links for today.

3d7eac43e8de493cb1314cbc88b8ce3eA Southern Black Church fire raged overnight, this makes 8 in the last 10 days. 

Another Black Church Burns in the South, the Eighth in 10 Days | TIME

Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent African-American church in Greeleyville, S.C., caught fire late Tuesday. It is the eighth black church in the southern U.S.A. to burn in 10 days.

[…]

Mount Zion was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1995, part of a string of 30 fires in black churches that spanned two years.

An investigation into the fire’s cause will begin after it is safely extinguished, chief of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Mark Keel told the Post and Courier. He noted that that the thunderstorm that pounded the town of 375 Tuesday evening could have ignited the church. Meteorologist Pete Mohlin of the National Weather Service told the paper there was a lot of lightning in the area around 7 p.m. but he could not say if it had caused the fire.

Parishioners across the south are surveying the damage a string of similar fires has caused this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, starting in Knoxville, Tenn. on June 21 and moving to Macon, Ga and Gibson County, Tenn on June 23; Charlotte, N.C. on June 24; Elyria, Ohio on June 25; and Tallahassee, Fla. and Warrenville, S.C on June 26.

413d202e8248e164760965ca1ddb8178Three of those fires have been ruled arson, one was determined to be caused by a falling branch and faulty wiring, and the others remain under investigation. Several have been blamed preliminarily on lightning; weather in the south this week has been turbulent.

“Lightning?”

FBI Investigates Southern Church Fires 

The Rev. Nelson Rivers said Tuesday night that he worked closely with ATF while they investigated a string of arsons at black churches in the 1990s.

“My prayer is that we’re not having a repeat,” Rivers told ABC News 4. “But we’re not going to take chances and we are plotting where the churches have burned so far, reaching out to the pastors and the congregations, and also talking to the authorities in those areas to see what they think.”

A federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said a Friday fire at a church in Aiken County does not appear to have been intentionally set. The official had direct knowledge of the investigations but spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the official was not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Tfdbba6534f4afe1dab9c84c7fa784bcfhe official said another fire Wednesday at a Charlotte, North Carolina, church appeared to be set by vandals, and investigators have found no graffiti or other evidence that it was racially motivated.

In Georgia, FBI Special Agent in Charge Britt Johnson said Monday that authorities are also looking into whether a June 23 fire could be a hate crime, which is common practice for fires at houses of worship.

“Opening a preliminary inquiry doesn’t suggest that a hate crime has occurred, but rather ensures that it is getting additional scrutiny for hate crime potential,” Johnson said in a statement.

6feee645c8b7de2354c807def2c12eb7Another fire was reported at the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist church in Knoxville,Tennessee, a predominantly black congregation. Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk had said previously that the fire was not being investigated as a hate crime. Authorities have said bales of hay outside the church were set on fire, and a church van was damaged in the blaze.

Federal investigators are tracking the Knoxville blaze and several others in an arson database to determine whether there are any trends or similarities, but none of the fires appear to be related, said Michael Knight, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tennessee.

In Elyria, Ohio, arson has been ruled out in the burning of the College Heights Baptist Church, fire Chief Richard Benton told The Chronicle Telegram newspaper.

98b6042b0a1d32264e7f569aefbcc382Okay, when “vandals” are burning down black churches in the South, after the murders of 9 black people, inside a Southern black church…when the confederate flag is under threat of being banned…to say that there is no evidence of racial motivation. Or…that lightning is the cause of eight black churches burning down?  Come on…seriously.

More links on this story:

Mt. Zion AME church burns in South Carolina

Rash of fires at African-American churches continues: Blaze at South Carolina church

Feds notified of fire at African-American church in South..

BREAKING: African American Church In South Carolina, Previously Burned Down By The KKK, Is On Fire | ThinkProgress

Just a few more links on white supremacist.

a319b13562f8901d35401ee1500d5745White supremacists want a race war. They must not fight America’s wars | Matt Kennard | Comment is free | The Guardian

After the horrific massacre at Charleston’s historic black church, Americans are slowly realizing the threat posed by white supremacist and neo-Nazimovements. But few know that their presence has grown within one of the most powerful institutions in America: the US military.

According to the FBI, there are hundreds of white supremacists in the US army or in the veteran community. Some analysts even estimate the number is in the thousands. In America, 203 white supremacist “extremist cases” investigated by the Bureau from 2001 to 2008 involved veterans. The problem hasn’t gone away. Neo-Nazi veteran Wade Michael Page attacked six worshippers at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012.

f5abd9516a7b695d8be8d05a35bf5dcdI spent a number of years investigating how neo-Nazis and white supremacists had infiltrated the US military, with very little push back from the Pentagon, which was desperate to keep the supply of troops flowing for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of my research, I spoke to veterans who had become white supremacists before service and joined to gain access to weapons and training, as well as veterans who had been radicalized after returning from the war.

Charles Wilson, spokesman for the National Socialist Movement, one of the top neo-Nazi groups in America, was frank about his attempts to populate the US armed forces with extremists: 76779a38c3c8eb34fc32c9ce0520e9b0“We do encourage [our members] to sign up for the military. We can use the training to secure the resistance to our government. Every one of them takes a pact of secrecy … Our military doesn’t agree with our political beliefs, they are not supposed to be in the military, but they’re there, in ever greater numbers.” He claimed to have 190 members serving.

Read the rest at the link, it is fucking scary.

And then think about how many former military are in the police force…

Map: The United States of Confederate-flag shopping – The Washington Post

This map by Jody Sieradzki of Dadaviz shows which flag people in different states searched more on Google Shopping between January 2008 and June 2015: the U.S. flag or the Confederate flag. The states in black — most of them — shopped more for the American flag. The states in red — Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois and Texas — searched more often for the Confederate flag.

Hmmmmm, notice that one state there in the middle, near the one of the Great Lakes?

Illinois?

Yes? Yeah….and what would be in Illinois that would make confederate flags so fucking popular?

Illinois Nazis.

This next link is a couple of days old, but: KKK plans SC Statehouse rally, says Dylann Roof ‘was heading in the right direction’

3f1566f9577e3cbf8b2eea495ca792b1North Carolina-based Ku Klux Klan group announced plans to hold a rally in front of the South Carolina Statehouse on July 18, the Charleston Post and Courierreported on Monday.

State officials confirmed that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls itself the “largest Klan in America,” filed a permit saying they expected between 100 and 200 people to attend the event on the north side of the building, where the Confederate battle flag is currently being flown. If the permit is approved, the event would be held between 3 and 5 p.m. on July 18.

The South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved the application Monday, and spokesman Brian Gaines explained that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

“This is our state, and they are not welcome,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. Haley called for the flag to be removed from outside the building in the wake of the terrorist attack committed by 21-year-old Dylann Roof earlier this month. Lawmakers will discuss removing the flag on July 6.

ecca12bb9a91947f629be051a3b5e172While Roof faces nine counts of murder in connection with the attack, the group’s leader, Robert Jones, expressed support for him.

“He was heading in the right direction; wrong target,” Jones told the Post and Courier.“He should have actually aimed at the African-American gang-bangers, the ones who are selling the drugs to white youth, the ones who are robbing and raping every chance they get.”

You can see more about how the history books are mistreating the KKK and Confederacy at the link…if you like.

9d3fdba07590d2443cebf0328ca45633About this rally in South Carolina: South Carolina approves KKK’s pro-Confederate flag rally at capitol | New York Post

But according to the newspaper, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved an application filed by the “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan for a July 18 rally in favor of the flag.

Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the newspaper that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

Ugh.

And this…which has nothing to do with white supremacist. It does deal with Jeezus freaks, but how one preacher is reacting in a positive way: Read what this Christian pastor promises to do if his children are gay | Gay Star News

It is a long open letter, just go and take a look. It is no way a blanket acceptance of all religious actions, but it is a good response, one that illustrates how the mass christian right should act.

The rest of the links in dump format:

Boy had been on park swing two days when he was found dead, officials say – The Washington Post

That is a sad situation, and it looks like it will only get worse as the story develops.

Woman gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire in Northern California – LA Times

A woman fought off bees, started a fire and survived on apples — all after giving birth in a lonely stretch of Northern California forest, she told a Bay Area TV station.

The woman, Amber Pangborn, 35, of Oroville, made a hasty decision to take an unfamiliar shortcut while driving to her parents’ house after going into labor Thursday.

Instead, she got lost.

“I thought we were going to die,” she told KCRA-TV. “And there was no cell service, there was no … there was nothing.”

But Pangborn’s baby wouldn’t wait and she had no choice but to give birth alone. She named her daughter Marisa.

I think it is ironic that the woman’s name is Pangborn…which is the Norse/Celtic term for labor pains…in childbirth.

This will probably be big news today: Greece, Missing I.M.F. Payment, Is Called Effectively in Default – The New York Times

Along with this: The U.S. roars into World Cup final with fierce win over Germany | For The Win

And if you want proof of PLUBs Pro-Life-Until-Birth…especially for those GOP ultra conservatives in the South:

Addicting Info – One Simple Infographic Shows How Bloodthirsty The ‘Pro-Life’ South Really Is

state by state executions death penalty texas

 

 

This next story is amazing news, and at the same time…puts things in perspective:

c72a7501098a3990a6ba02e4cb9c7ea9Cuba Is The First Country To Eliminate Mother-Baby HIV And Syphilis Transmission

 

The World Health Organization on Tuesday declared Cuba the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

The WHO said in a statement that an international delegation that it and the Pan American Health Organization sent to Cuba in March determined the country met the criteria for the designation. In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.

“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.

Also, U.S. and Cuba agree to open embassies and restore diplomatic relations – LA Times

In other news: U.S. now home to more Spanish speakers than Spain: study – NY Daily News

Shit that should scare the hell out of the GOP.

Last few links for you:

58331bd183f2c64adacc94b5957f8f15An interesting read: The Moment I Knew I Had To Break Up With My Best Friend especially with all the back and forth and disagreements on Facebook…over gay marriage rights.

And last Sunday I posted a link to a story about Misty Copeland, the first African American lead in Swan Lake in ABT history…well, check it out:

Misty Copeland Promotion Part of A New Era at American Ballet Theatre – WSJ

Misty Copeland made history Tuesday, becoming the first African-American woman to reach the top rank of principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

Her promotion, announced by Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, marks a significant milestone for diversity in ballet.

“So many young dancers of color stop dancing at an early age because they don’t think there will be a path for them,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference following the announcement. “I hope this will change that.”

She had said this was a dream for her…to become a principal dancer.

Misty Copeland leaps past racial barrier in U.S. ballet | Reuters

Copeland, the author of a best-selling memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina” and the subject of a documentary film, “A Ballerina’s Tale,” has been a supporter of diversity in ballet. She had also been open about her goal to be lead dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT).

“My dream has been ABT since I was 13,” she said fighting back tears. “I’m excited to continue to grow as an artist and hopefully see more brown dancers come into the company in my lifetime.”

Copeland has already been credited for being an inspiration for younger dancers and for bringing in more diverse audiences to ballet. In her best-selling memoir, she recounted how weird it was for minorities just to buy tickets to the ballet.

Copeland has also appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Earlier this year she took on the lead role in the American Ballet Theatre production of “Swan Lake.”

“It’s been a long journey but it is just the beginning,” she added.

Misty Copeland Is Promoted to Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theater – The New York Times

Misty Copeland was fast becoming the most famous ballerina in the United States — making the cover of Time magazine, being profiled by “60 Minutes,” growing into a social media sensation and dancing ballet’s biggest roles on some of its grandest stages. But another role eluded her: She was still not a principal dancer.

Until Tuesday, when Ms. Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater.

[…]

“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday afternoon. “At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”

da2111baf115692d55262ffae5ec9cb7Fittingly, the moment of her promotion was captured on video andshared on Instagram. “Misty, take a bow,” Kevin McKenzie, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, could be seen saying, before colleagues congratulated Ms. Copeland, who seemed to be fighting back tears. Her promotion was lauded on social media by, among others, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Prince, who had featured her in a video.

Over the past year, whenever Ms. Copeland, 32, danced leading roles with Ballet Theater, her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. After she starred in “Swan Lake” with Ballet Theater last week — becoming the first African-American to do so with the company at the Met — the crowd of autograph-seekers was so large that it had to be moved away from the cramped area outside the stage door.

Read more at the links, there are videos too…she is an amazing artist…and now Principal Dancer of ABT! I think it is about damn time!

Have a great Wednesday, and share your thoughts with us. What are you finding interesting today?


Tuesday Reads: Indiana Summer Blogging

Summer thunderstorm in Indiana

Summer thunderstorm in Indiana

Good Morning!!

I’m still staying with my mother in Indiana. Her 90th birthday party was a huge success. Everyone that we expected showed up, and I got to talk to some cousins I haven’t seen in ages–except on Facebook. The weather sort of cooperated. It had been raining for days, but we just had intermittent showers on Saturday, the day of the party. We had the canopy set up over part of the driveway so the tables were on solid ground. We had too much food, so we donated some of it to a local homeless mission, ate some leftovers, and froze the rest. Since that day, we’ve had gorgeous sunny weather.

The image above of the first lighting strike of an Indiana thunderstorm comes from Schweiger Photo. I’m including other scenic photos of various parts of Indiana throughout this post.

Supreme Court Decisions and Reactions to Them

A country road in Randolph County, Indiana

A country road in Randolph County, Indiana

The U.S. Supreme Court continues to dominate the news today. I know you have already heard about the terrible decision to allow Oklahoma to continue using drugs that cause intense, extended pain for their inhuman executions. The U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, but Samuel Alito thinks it’s much more important to preserve the death penalty than to worry about whether the victims feel like they are being burned alive.

Carimah Townes at Think Progress: It’s ‘The Chemical Equivalent Of Being Burned At The Stake.’ And Now It’s Legal.

By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the use of the lethal injection drug midazolam does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling comes more than a year after the botched executions of several inmates who remained conscious and experienced pain as they were put to death.

According to the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, “petitioners have failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the use of midazolam violates the Eighth Amendment. To succeed on an Eighth Amendment method-of execution claim, a prisoner must establish that the method creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain and that the risk is substantial when compared to the known and available alternatives. Petitioners failed to establish that any risk of harm was substantial when compared to a known and available alternative method of execution. Petitioners have suggested that Oklahoma could execute them using sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, but the District Court did not commit a clear error when it found that those drugs are unavailable to the State.”

In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote, “as a result, [the Court] leaves petitioners exposed to what may well be the chemical equivalent of being burned at the stake.”

The Indiana Dunes at Lake Michigan

The Indiana Dunes at Lake Michigan

Alito’s “reasoning” is that since the death penalty is “settled” law, whatever drug is available must be used even if it causes extreme pain and does not cause unconsciousness. Remember when Clayton Lockett “gasped for 43 minutes” before he finally died?

Cristian Farias at New York Magazine: In Lethal-Injection Case, the Supreme Court Essentially Ruled That Death-Row Inmates Have to Pick Their Poison.

Now we know why the Supreme Court left Glossip v. Gross a contentious case about the constitutionality of lethal-injection protocols — for the very last day of its term. Four out of five justices who had something to say in the case announced their opinions from the bench — an extremely rare occurrence that the American public won’t get to hear for itself until audio of the session is released sometime in the fall.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the justices ruled that the death-row inmates in the case failed to establish that Oklahoma’s use of midazolam, a sedative they claimed was ineffective in preventing pain, violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The case’s various opinions and dissents run a whopping 127 pages — far longer than even the Obamacare and marriage-equality decisions. And they’re a sign that states’ methods of punishment are a major point of conflict at the court.

But Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the lead opinion, went further: He said it is up to the death-row inmates and their lawyers — and not up to Oklahoma — “to identify a known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain,” which is “a requirement of all Eighth Amendment method-of-execution claims.” In other words, it is the responsibility of those condemned to death to plead and prove the best alternative method to execute them. They have to pick their poison — otherwise, no harm, no foul under the Constitution.

And just so that there aren’t any doubts, even though the case was not about the death penalty proper, Alito went out of his way to remind us that “we have time and again reaffirmed that capital punishment is not per seunconstitutional.”

Samuel Alito should never have been approved by the Senate. He’s a monster.

Indiana corn, "knee high by the Fourth of July."

Indiana corn, “knee high by the Fourth of July.”

The Court ordered that abortion clinics in Texas could remain open for the time being. Ian Millhauser at Think Progress: BREAKING: Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Remain Open.

The Supreme Court issued a brief, two paragraph order on Monday permitting Texas abortion clinics that are endangered by state law requiring them to comply with onerous regulations or else shut down to remain open. The order stays a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which imposed broad limits on the women’s right to choose an abortion within that circuit.

The Court’s order is temporary and offers no direct insight into how the Court will decide this case on the merits. It provides that the clinics’ application for a stay of the Fifth Circuit’s decision is granted “pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition” asking the Court to review the case on the merits.

Ugh. I can hardly wait for the final decision./s

And then there’s the continuing unhinged right wing response to the Supremes’ decision on gay marriage. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been in dangerous meltdown mode ever since the announcement on Friday.

A Converse County, Indiana road.

A Converse County, Indiana road.

Politico reports: Ted Cruz: States should ignore gay-marriage ruling.

“Those who are not parties to the suit are not bound by it,” the Texas Republican told NPR News’ Steve Inskeep in an interview published on Monday. Since only suits against the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky were specifically considered in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which was handed down last Friday, Cruz — a former Supreme Court clerk — believes that other states with gay marriage bans need not comply, absent a judicial order.

“[O]n a great many issues, others have largely acquiesced, even if they were not parties to the case,” the 2016 presidential contender added, “but there’s no legal obligation to acquiesce to anything other than a court judgement.”

Izzat so?

While Cruz’s statement may be technically true, federal district and circuit courts are obligated to follow the Supreme Court’s precedent and overrule all other states’ same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional.

The Texas senator then went on to suggest that Republicans who have called for following the court’s decision are members of a “Washington cartel” and are lying when they say they do not support same-sex marriage.

“[Republican Party leaders] agree with the rulings from last week, both the Obamacare ruling and the marriage ruling,” Cruz said. “[T]he biggest divide we have politically is not between Republicans and Democrats. It’s between career politicians in both parties and the American people.”

I guess Cruz hasn’t bothered to look at the polls that show most Americans support same sex marriage–or, more likely, he couldn’t care less what Americans think about it. Get over it, Ted. Marriage equality is “settled law” now.

Another view of the Indiana Dunes.

Another view of the Indiana Dunes.

From The Hill: Cruz bashes ‘elites’ on Supreme Court.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday bashed “elites” on the Supreme Court for imposing their will on America’s heartland in its decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

“You’ve got nine lawyers, they are all from Harvard or Yale — there are no Protestants on the court, there are no evangelicals on the court,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate said on NBC’s “Today,” echoing criticism from Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion.

“The elites on the court look at much of this country as flyover country; they think that our views are simply parochial and don’t deserve to be respected.”

ROFLMAO! Earth to Ted: You graduated from Princeton and Harvard and worked under former Chief Justice Rehnquist. Obviously you think the inhabitants of “flyover country” are too stupid to know that.

A couple more reactions:

AL.com: Roy Moore: Alabama judges not required to issue same-sex marriage licenses for 25 days.

The Texas Tribune: Some Counties Withholding Same-Sex Marriage Licenses.

Following the Charleston Massacre,

A windmill on an Indiana farm

A windmill on an Indiana farm

a number of black churches have been burned in the South, according to Think Progress.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least six predominantly black churches in four Southern states have been damaged or destroyed by fire in the past week. While some may have been accidental, at least three have been determined to be the result of arson.

The first arson fire was on Monday at the College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Knoxville fire department has said that the arsonist set multiple fires on the church’s property and the church’s van was also burned. On Tuesday, a fire in the sanctuary of God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia was also blamed on arson, although the investigation is ongoing. And on Wednesday, a fire at the Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was determined to be caused by arson, destroying an education wing that was meant to house a summer program for children, impacting its sanctuary and gymnasium, and causing an estimated $250,000 in damage.

The cause of a fire that destroyed the Glover Grover Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina on Friday is unknown, while lightning is suspected in a fire that destroyed the Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee on Wednesday and a tree limb that fell on electrical lines is suspected in a fire at the Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida on Friday that destroyed the church and caused an estimated $700,000 in damage.

That is truly frightening. Read more details at the link.

A log cabin in Brown County, Indiana

A log cabin in Brown County, Indiana

Blue Nation Review: EXCLUSIVE: Bree Newsome Speaks For The First Time After Courageous Act of Civil Disobedience.

Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Read all about it and see photos at the link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below and have a terrific Tuesday!

 


Monday Reads: As the SCOTUS churns

165584_600Well, it’s Monday and it feels like a Monday to me.

There are more Supreme Court decisions out today on all kinds of things.I’m going to give you a brief description of the major ones.  It’s hard to top the Marriage Equality ruling and the saving of tax credits for “Obamacare”.  However, a few of them are just as important in their own right.

One of the most stand-out decisions today had to do with voting and voter id.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider letting states require evidence of citizenship when people register to vote for federal elections, rejecting an appeal from Arizona and Kansas.

The rebuff is a victory for the Obama administration and voting- and minority-rights groups that battled the two states in court. It leaves intact a decision by a U.S. agency that blocked the states from requiring proof of citizenship for voters in federal elections.

It’s the second high court defeat on the issue for Arizona. The state has a law that requires evidence of citizenship, but the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that it couldn’t be enforced when people use a standard registration document known as the “federal form” to register to vote for Congress and the president.

That 7-2 ruling left open the possibility that Arizona could impose its requirements through a different avenue. The court said the state could submit a request to the agency that developed the form, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, asking it to tell Arizona voters they needed to supply proof of citizenship.

SCOTUS also struck down three provision of the various Three Strikes laws that were designed to penalize “career” criminals. Scalia wrote the majority opinion in this case.

While the country was busy celebrating the Supreme Court’s long-awaited marriage equality ruling, the justices issued another ruling in the Johnson v. United States case that dealt a crucial blow to the prison industrial complex. The SCOTUS ruled that a key provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act, which lengthens the sentences of “career criminals,” is unconstitutionally vague. The ruling paves the way for thousands of prisoners to have their sentences reduced and will cause the private prison industry to lose millions of dollars in profits.

In 1984, Congress passed the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), the law required judges to sentence people to 15 years to life if they have three prior convictions for “serious drug offense” or “violent felonies.” However, what exactly qualified as a “violent felony” was frustratingly vague and was used as a sentence enhancer in many non-violent cases. A “residual clause” in the ACCA allowed third time felons to be sent to prison for any crime that ” presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” That potential risk could include drunk driving, fleeing police, failing to report to a parole officer and even attempted burglary. It seemed to be used as a catch-all sentence enhancer for the sole purpose of throwing people in prison for years longer than they deserved to be. This practice has become increasingly more common as more states allow for-profit prisons in their states.

In the Johnson case, the government used the ACCA to enhance Samuel Johnson’s prison sentence because of a prior conviction of possession of a sawed off shotgun. Johnson argued that he shouldn’t be subjected to a harsher sentence, because the definition of what was considered “violent” was unconstitutionally vague. The SCOTUS agreed with Johnson and issued a 7-1 ruling in his favor.

5888077939_4a120fd991_bAnother finding allows independent panels to redistrict congressional and other political districts.  This could be a key step to stopping the practice of gerrymandering. Arizona’s decision to let independent panels redistrict was declared constitutional.

By ruling that Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission is constitutional, the Supreme Court of the United States kicked plutocrat-loving Republicans in the gut.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, joined by Justices Breyer, Kagan, Kennedy and Sotomayer.

The crux of the majority’s reasoning can be found in last paragraph of the ruling.

Our Declaration of Independence,  drew from Locke in stating: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” And our fundamental instrument of government derives its authority from “We the People.” U. S. Const., Preamble. As this Court stated, quoting Hamilton: “[T]he true principle of a republic is, that the people should choose whom they please to govern them.” Powell v. McCormack, 395 U. S. 486, 540-541 (1969) (quoting 2 Debates on the Federal Constitution 257 (J. Elliot ed. 1876)). In this light, it would be perverse to interpret the term “Legislature” in the Elections Clause so as to exclude lawmaking by the people, particularly where such lawmaking is intended to check legislators’ ability to choose the district lines they run in, thereby advancing the prospect that Members of Congress will in fact be “chosen . . . by the People of the several States,”

Even though this case got much less attention from the media compared to the health care and marriage equality cases it is in some ways as important as the aforementioned cases.  The reason is it will shape the meaning of vote equality in the years to come. Had the court ruled the other way, frankly, it would have removed the last real hope of stopping the Koch controlled Republicans from rigging elections in their favor.

In one disappointing decision, SCOTUS removed EPA limits on Air Pollution.5631103843_5db90091cb_b

The US supreme court struck down new rules for America’s biggest air polluters on Monday, dealing a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to set limits on the amount of mercury, arsenic and other toxins coal-fired power plants can spew into the air, lakes and rivers.

The 5-4 decision was a major setback to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and could leave the agency more vulnerable to legal challenges from industry and Republican-led states to its other new carbon pollution rules.

The justices embraced the arguments from the industry and 21 Republican-led states that the EPA rules were prohibitively expensive and amounted to government overreach.

But the EPA pointed out that most plants had already either complied or made plans to comply with the ruling.

“EPA is disappointed that the court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance,” the agency said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

The EPA “remains committed to ensuring that appropriate standards are in place to protect the public from the significant amount of toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired electric utilities and continue reducing the toxic pollution from these facilities,” the agency added.

Monday’s decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, ruled that the EPA did not reasonably consider the cost factor when drafting the toxic air-pollution regulations.

The Clean Air Act had directed the EPA to create rules to regulate power plants for mercury and other toxic pollutants that were “appropriate and necessary”.

images (6)There’s some discussion in legal blogs about a possible softening of the Court in terms of it’s tendency to follow Scalia and Thomas to hard right conclusions.  Are Kennedy and Roberts becoming more moderate or showing a bit more judicial restraint and temperament?  Here’s some analysis by Tom Goldstein writing for SCOTUSBlog.

There is a lot of commentary about the unusually liberal results of this Term.  I thought I would mention a few data points which back up that view of things.

For present purposes, I treat four Justices as sitting to the Court’s left: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.  I treat four Justices as sitting to the Court’s right:  Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.  I treat Justice Anthony Kennedy as the Court’s “center.”

I count 26 cases this Term that were both close (5-4 or 6-3) and ideological (in the sense that they broke down principally on ideological lines, with ideology seemingly an important factor). 

Of the 26 cases, the left prevailed in 19.  Those included the first 9 of the Term.  The right prevailed in 7.

In the 26, a Justice on the left voted with the right a total of 3 times.  In 2 cases, those votes determined the outcome and produced a more conservative result, because Justice Kennedy or one of the conservatives voted for the more liberal result.

In the 26, a Justice on the right voted with the left 14 times.  In 6 cases, those votes determined the outcome and produced a more liberal result, because Justice Kennedy voted for the more conservative result.

I also considered the 10 cases I consider most significant.  Of those, the left prevailed in 8.  Those included the first 7 of the Term.  (I mention the early cases to give a sense of how the results must have appeared inside the Court as the Term went along.)  The right prevailed in 2, both in the final sitting of the Term.

In the 10, no Justice on the left voted with the right; the four Justices on the left voted together in every one of those cases.  A Justice on the right voted with the left 4 times.  Those votes determined the outcome in 2 cases, because Justice Kennedy voted for the more conservative result.

Note that the analysis above is skewed against finding the Term particularly liberal by treating Justice Kennedy as the Court’s “center.”  That is true ideologically, but he is certainly a conservative.  If he were characterized that way for my analysis, the number of defections to the left would be much higher.

By that measure, a Justice on the right voted with the left 25 times (compared with 3 times the reverse happened).  That occurred in all 10 of the 10 major cases (because no Justice on the left voted with the right in any of those cases), and determined the outcome in all of them.

Real Clear Politics also had a take on this. It’s obviously an interesting question to ask given the current hissy fits happening with in movement conservatives who are calling for the essential overthrow of the 5928104071_8f42d73da8_bcurrent court since a few decisions did not go their way.

Conservatives were disheartened by the Court’s rulings Thursday in King v. Burwell and Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Project. They probably will be disheartened if the Court rules that gay marriage is a constitutional right, which seems likely. I suspect I got the authorship of the Arizona redistricting commission case wrong in my Supreme Court Bingoarticle: the opinion assignments make more sense if Justice Kennedy lost his majority in Din, which would suggest Justice Ginsburg is writing the redistricting commission opinion. That means conservatives may well be disappointed in the outcome of that opinion as well.

Unsurprisingly, conservatives are up in arms about the supposed “selling out” from Chief Justice John Roberts. Their reaction is something along the lines of Obi-Wan’s final words (from Obi-Wan’s point of view) to Anakin Skywalker: “You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them!”

plenty of today’s “liberal” decisions would have been considered downright reactionary in the 1960s (or 1970s). Consider the NFIB case, which upheld Obamacare in 2012, while finding that the individual mandate could not be supported by the commerce power. Until 1995, many scholars believed that the Commerce Clause had all but given Congress a general police power; the Lopez decision, which placed the first limits on congressional power in 60 years, was on the outer fringes of even conservative legal theory. NFIB actually reinforces, and to a certain extent expands that decision.

This says nothing of the Court’s holding that there are real limits to the spending clause, which garnered the votes of seven justices. I’m not sure there would have been more than one or two votes for this in the 1960s. By the standards of the 1970s, NFIB was a radically conservative decision, even when the substantive outcome is taken into account. By the standards of, say, the 1920s on the other hand, this was a radically liberal opinion, insofar as it accepts the basic New Deal framework (that there is at least one justice who is prepared to jettison that framework entirely shows just how far to the right the Court has gone).

Or consider the opinion validating Obamacare’s subsidies. While the plaintiffs’ theory of the case was perfectly plausible under current statutory interpretation principles (enough so that several Democratic-appointed lower court judges were cautious when ruling against plaintiffs), it also represented something of a reductio ad absurdum of textualism. If we were to have a debate over textualism in, say, the 1970s, one can imagine a purposivist asking, “So what if there is an obvious drafting error in a section that threatens an entire massive statute? What then?” The fact that conservatives expect the Court to go “full textualist” even in that circumstance – and that even liberal scholars like Abbe Gluck accept the basic textualist framework – again shows how far the debate has moved in the past 30 years.

What about the redistricting commission case? Assuming conservatives lose this one, it’s worth remembering that this position on the elections clause only had the support of three members of the Court in 2000 (when a similar argument was raised in Bush v. Gore); Justices Kennedy and O’Connor avoided the issue and may well have been against it. So even a 6-3 ruling against conservatives here would probably reveal no net shift in the positioning of the Court over the past 15 years. It is just that the expectations for conservatives have shifted.

The article is interesting because it compares some of the different courts over the last 50 years and you can see exactly how illiberal this court still is.5894062539_dff4c78611_b

One more case is worth discussing.  This one will be in the works.  “The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider whether the University of Texas’s race-conscious admissions plan is constitutional.”

Two years ago, the court voted 7 to 1 to send the plan back for further judicial view and told the lower court to apply the kind of rigorous evaluation that must accompany any government action that considers race.

“Strict scrutiny imposes on the university the ultimate burden of demonstrating, before turning to racial classifications, that available, workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote.

This will be another interesting case to watch.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?