Wednesday Evening Reads: Boxer steps up for women and Romney steps back on Blunt

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Good Evening

There have been destructive storms throughout the midwest, watch out they may be heading your way.

Massive storm system claims 9 lives in Midwest, heads east – CNN.com

A powerful storm system, which left a trail of destruction and nine deaths in its wake across the Midwest, moved Wednesday evening into the Mid-Atlantic region, putting more communities at risk.

The storms first hit before dawn, with one tornado packing 170 mph winds as it smashed Harrisburg, Illinois, killing six. A smaller tornado caused significant damage in the music resort city of Branson, Missouri.

Nearly 200 people were hurt, authorities said Wednesday.

We are expecting bad weather here in Banjoland, I can hear the distant rumbling…

More activity was possible in northern Alabama, extreme northern Georgia, southern and eastern Kentucky, northern Mississippi, western North Carolina and much of Tennessee, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

So this is going to be a short post, the electricity goes out so easy here…with so many trees, if one large branch falls in the wind it can create a domino effect.

I am so disgusted with Democrats who act like republicans, Sen. Manchin will vote for Blunt amendment on contraceptive care – The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will vote for Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) amendment on the Obama administration’s contraception mandate.

“While I would have preferred that both sides would have come together around a solution like we had in West Virginia, I am voting in favor of this measure to protect the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America,” Manchin said in a statement.

Manchin also notes that in his home state, West Virginia law requires contraceptive coverage but also guarantees “religious freedom for employers or institutions that object to such services.” The law requires health insurance companies to also provide contraceptive care but exempts religious institutions that object based on “religious tenets.”

He must not have listened to Boxer’s speech today:

msnbc video: Democrats attack GOP war on women

…it is pure partisan politics and we are here today to say it is not going to pass. the right wing of the republican party does not speak for most of the women in this country.

She kicked ass today on the floor…I have tried to find a video clip of her…but couldn’t.

Romney stuck his foot in it again, first he comes out against Blunt and then he is for it.  Romney comes out against `Blunt-Rubio’ – The Plum Line – The Washington Post

I just got off the phone with Heath, and he graciously played me the audio. Heath asks Romney if he’s for the “Blunt-Rubio” amendment, and defines it. Romney replies:

“I’m not for the bill. But, look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”

That’s pretty remarkable. If Romney knew what he was saying, the Senate GOP caucus, which is set to vote on this amendment tomorrow, may feel as if Romney has pulled the rug out from underneath them. And this has become an important issue for conservatives. So it’ll be interesting to see how the base reacts to this, particularly since the GOP primary is anything but over and Rick Santorum — who’s perceived as a more reliable social conservative — is likely to use this to attack Romney, who will be under continued pressure to connect with social and religious conservatives.

Then, as usual, he backtracked his comment.

UPDATE II: It’s not clear which bill Romney opposes. It was described to him as “Blunt-Rubio,” which is a term some use to refer to the Blunt amendment, because Rubio co-sponsored. But the bill was described to Romney more narrowly, in keeping with another Rubio amendment that just focuses on contraception. The question is what Romney was opposing when he said, “I’m not for the bill.”

UPDATE III: The Romney camp now says he’s for it:

“Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing,” a spokesman told TPM. “Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith.”

I guess the question was a bit convoluted, as the Blunt Amendment and the Rubio version are worded a bit differently .

However, it still does not excuse the fact that Romney is an ass.

One more link for you. It is a very good piece about the number of women writing, or lack of women writing, for the news media: Do Women Count?

Here is the answer.

Apparently, not in the news media.

Yesterday, after I made some snarky comment, a friend asked me if I was Eeyore. The truth is, I’m a mash-up of Eeyore and Tigger. Tigger bounces up and down gleefully whenever I talk about gay rights. But today I’m talking about the ladies again, so get ready for Eeyore.

The online magazine VIDA just released its count of female::male bylines in influential literary and political outlets—”thought leader” magazines, as they’re called. The numbers are absolutely dismal. In The New Yorker and The Atlantic, there are nearly three male bylines to one female. In The New Republic, the byline ratio is four to one. In Harper’s, it’s five to one.

VIDA’s introduction and its press release say nice cheerful things, like, “But we at VIDA aren’t discouraged by this fact—we know that significant cultural change takes time.”

But time isn’t making significant changes. Well, okay, in 2005, the Columbia Journalism Review found that the byline ratio in The New Yorker was 3.5 to one, and in The Atlantic it was six to one, so yes, things have inched up a bit. (In The Atlantic, though, consider which women are writing. As Caryl Rivers notes in her dead-on analysis called “The Atlantic’s Woman Problem,” “The leitmotif of much of what the Atlantic publishes about women is that female gains are dangerous—to children, to families, to marriages, to themselves, and to men.” I have a great editor at The Atlantic Online who has assigned me some very interesting stories. But she’s female—and outnumbered.) But women actually make up more than 50 percent of English literature and journalism school graduates. We’re not talking about Larry Summers’ leaky science pipeline here. We’re talking about the subject at which girls are, stereotypically, supposed to be outstanding, and where they concentrate in high numbers: reading and writing.

Please…I encourage you to read the rest of this article by EJ Graff. In this anti-woman environment, her article really makes a point about the attitude  women have been fighting against for years, and the lack of progress we have made…depressing but needs to be said.

Have a safe evening, and be aware of any serious weather that might be heading your way!


Here’s where I play the world’s smallest violin …

When I first started studying banking and finance theory, I realized that a good portion of it is dedicated to finding out if the entire industry does anything of value and why it seems responsible for a lot of instability in a “capitalist” economy.  Banking seems simple enough. You pool deposits to provide loans.  You ‘safekeep’ those deposits. You provide some payment mechanisms.  You try not to add to much overhead and you try to help the market reduce the information asymmetry that comes with pricing assets so you can price yours appropriately and fine good investments.

It’s never been  quite that simple however. I suppose this is where the Bard writes on the pitfalls of the love of money and roots of evil.  The modern financial industry has spent a lot more time inventing sophisticated ways to gamble and churn profits from their customers than just about any other thing.  Service is out of vogue and financial innovation rules the day.  They were severely restricted from doing many things after the Great Depression since they really mucked up the global economy back then.  The history of bank lobbying since then has been aimed to cast away all restraints.  So, we went full circle since 1980. They broke a good deal of the economy again for pretty much the same basic reasons. We’ve had miserably few criminal investigations.

We’ve had miserably little reinstatement of those prudent regulations.  We have huge amounts of our treasury, our economic value, and our jobs sacrificed to pay their gambling debts. None of these folks have had to ‘fess up or pay up.  Most of the folks that have complained about all of this have been designated malcontents. Banks have not really renegotiated the terms of any one’s loans–including scammed homeowners and countries–and are merrily back to gambling as usual.  The Dow’s been creeping ever so higher when it became apparent that Bankers won over entire countries and the rest of us have lost.  So, here’s one little tidbit that makes me smile.  Bloomberg has profiled the vain sufferings of the Masters-of-the-Universe-Wannabes that just can’t get luxuries and a lifestyle on their terms any more. Boo Fucking Hoo.

Andrew Schiff was sitting in a traffic jam in California this month after giving a speech at an investment conference about gold. He turned off the satellite radio, got out of the car and screamed a profanity.

“I’m not Zen at all, and when I’m freaking out about the situation, where I’m stuck like a rat in a trap on a highway with no way to get out, it’s very hard,” Schiff, director of marketing for broker-dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc., said in an interview.

Schiff, 46, is facing another kind of jam this year: Paid a lower bonus, he said the $350,000 he earns, enough to put him in the country’s top 1 percent by income, doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex.

“I feel stuck,” Schiff said. “The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.”

The smaller bonus checks that hit accounts across the financial-services industry this month are making it difficult to maintain the lifestyles that Wall Street workers expect, according to interviews with bankers and their accountants, therapists, advisers and headhunters.

“People who don’t have money don’t understand the stress,” said Alan Dlugash, a partner at accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLP in New York who specializes in financial planning for the wealthy. “Could you imagine what it’s like to say I got three kids in private school, I have to think about pulling them out? How do you do that?”

So, that’s the face to the problem that really cries out for class warfare.  Wall Street’s pay checks are shrinking. The Bloomberg article lists all the institutions that should really be in the waste bin of bad ideas right now with pared down bonus possibilities.  They show the shrinkage at Goldman Sachs, Barclay’s, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank.   Jobless is high. Poverty is high. Household net worth has shrunk.  Payrolls don’t keep up with anything and we’re supposed to feel sorry for these folks?  Oh, cry me a river!  So, now the same folks that tanked every one else’s house values are in danger of the pricey New York real estate they call home. Here’s Megan McArdle with a New York Frame of Mind.

I believe that Elizabeth Warren has made this point–when people get into financial trouble, they often say, “Well, I didn’t take fancy vacations or go to restaurants all the time or buy 17 pairs of Jimmy Choos.”  But (with the exception of some really compulsive spenders) this isn’t the stuff that gets people into trouble.  It’s the big house with the stretch mortgage that you convinced yourself you had to have because it was in a good school district and you needed a yard and a bedroom apiece for the kids.  It’s that brand new SUV (or Volvo station wagon) you persuaded yourself to buy because it was important to have a safe car.  It’s the school activities or travel sports teams that cost thousands of dollars, which you let your kids start in ninth grade because you didn’t know that you’d have to break their hearts by pulling them out in their junior year. The divorce decree you signed because you didn’t realize your income was going to drop by a third.

Pricey vacations can be cut back.  Mortgage payments can’t.  It’s not the luxuries that usually get people into trouble–it’s paying too much for “the basics”.

And in New York, it’s really, really easy to pay too much.  One of the guys in the article makes $350,000 and lives in 1200 square feet with three kids.  This is the way the lower rungs of the lower middle class lives in the rest of the country.  New Yorkers face an overwhelming temptation to push their housing budget to the limit, because what’s available on a conservative budget is really inconvenient unless you either make a whole lot of money, or lucked into a great deal in a down market or a transitional neighborhood.

So, here’s my point.  Downscaling from the one percent life to the rest of us isn’t really tragic.  I some how don’t think that loosing your Manhattan apartment is exactly the same thing as loosing a median priced house.  Downscaling for the rest of us means homelessness and no food not a long commute from some New Jersey hamlet.  Here’s some more people’s stories from Bloomberg.  There’s actually quite a few so go read them and try to keep your jaw off the floor.  Here’s McArdle’s particular charity case.

The malaise is shared by Schiff, the New York-based marketing director for Euro Pacific Capital, where his brother is CEO. His family rents the lower duplex of a brownstone in Cobble Hill, where his two children share a room. His 10-year- old daughter is a student at $32,000-a-year Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. His son, 7, will apply in a few years.

“I can’t imagine what I’m going to do,” Schiff said. “I’m crammed into 1,200 square feet. I don’t have a dishwasher. We do all our dishes by hand.”

He wants 1,800 square feet — “a room for each kid, three bedrooms, maybe four,” he said. “Imagine four bedrooms. You have the luxury of a guest room, how crazy is that?”

The family rents a three-bedroom summer house in Connecticut and will go there again this year for one month instead of four. Schiff said he brings home less than $200,000 after taxes, health-insurance and 401(k) contributions. The closing costs, renovation and down payment on one of the $1.5 million 17-foot-wide row houses nearby, what he called “the low rung on the brownstone ladder,” would consume “every dime” of the family’s savings, he said.

“I wouldn’t want to whine,” Schiff said. “All I want is the stuff that I always thought, growing up, that successful parents had.”

So, now do you get why I don’t by the rational markets hypothesis?  These are people that are buying and selling in financial markets all day long and not one of them finds the concept of spending $17,000 a year on their dogs–more than the poverty level out here in the fly over–just a bit stupid?

Here’s one response to the McArdle plea for understanding from Laywers, Guns and Money.

It now seems clear to me that the truly oppressed and misunderstood in this country are living in Greenwich, Connecticut. If my parents hadn’t spent $5000 for every season I played youth soccer, I would be smoking crack right now. Won’t somebody think about the Benetton-clad children???!!???

And another one from a poster at Balloon Juice.

When middle-class people lose their jobs, they need to suck it up and admit that they’re too fucking soft and lazy to live in dormitories like REAL workers do in China. They need to accept cuts to their health care and retirement funds and if they complain about it, they need a lecture on morality from Daddy Bobo.

When people making 400K get bumped down to 300K, it’s a three-hanky tragedy.

Tell me again that Robespierre didn’t have a point.

I’m sorry Megan.  I really really really don’t feel their pain.  Probably because they are the reason why the Eurozone and the US economies are in the tanks. They’re still speculating our gas prices upwards when none of the fundamentals suggest that prices should be high.  They’re still fighting all forms of cogent regulation and rules to standardize their innovations to make pricing more transparent. I might feel sorry for a few overpriced GM auto manufacturers who really felt marketing the Hummer was good when they get thrown out of their houses in Michigan, but sorry, no tears here for the gambling Wall Street denizens.  They can just fricking live like the rest of us.


Wednesday Reads: Civil War in Syria, Mittens Wins, and the Iceman Cometh

Good morning!

Get your coffee poured, because I have a juicy post for you today.

First things first…Romney wins Michigan and Arizona

Well, good now that is out-of-the-way, lets move on to other more important news…

I wonder, maybe Boston Boomer can give us some thoughts on why she thinks the shooter, TJ Lane, ran after the shooting, compared to so many mass shooter/killers that will eventually turn the gun on themselves.  Ohio School Shooting Suspect Confesses, Prosecutor Says – NYTimes.com

 The fatal shooting rampage in a high school in this quiet suburb of Cleveland remained a puzzle on Tuesday, with prosecutors saying that a student had confessed to the killings and had told them that he did not know his victims and chose them at random.

Prosecutors said the student, T. J. Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22-caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol to Chardon High School on Monday and firing 10 rounds at four students at a cafeteria table. He has not been formally charged, but prosecutors said it was likely that he would be tried in an adult court.

Three of the victims — Russell King Jr., Demetrius Hewlin and Daniel Parmertor — have died. Two others were wounded. One has been released from the hospital.

Sticking with stateside news, some people just don’t like Obama, hey…I am one of them, and y’all know my reasons…however, race is not one of them.

But for those who do have a problem with the color of Obama’s skin…it seems they tend to take it to a whole other level.  Ariz. police sergeant demoted over bullet-riddled Obama Facebook photo – USATODAY.com

 An Arizona police sergeant has been demoted and suspended for two weeks without pay for posting a photo of a bullet-riddled image of President Obama on Facebook.

Makes this next link even more obvious: Suit Says Obama Can’t Run In Alaska Because He’s of the “Mulatto” Race

A man from Juneau, Alaska, has filed suit with the state’s Division of Elections to bar President Obama from appearing on that state’s ballot on the basis that the President is a “Mulatto“, and “the race of ‘Negro‘ or ‘Mulatto‘ had no standing to be citizens of the United States under the United States Constitution.”

Gordon Warren Epperly, who lists his address as a P.O. Box, filed the nomination petition objection on February 21, 2012.

According to the complaint:

Barack Hussein Obama II, Aka Barack Hussein Obama, Aka Barack H. Obama has the race status of being a “Mulatto.” Barack Obama’s father (Barack Hussein Obama I) was a full blood Negro being born Nyang’oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province, Kenya and raised in the Colony of Kenya. Barack Obama’s mother (Stanley Ann Dunham) was a white Caucasian woman being born in Wichita, Kansas on November 29, 1942 and raised in the state of Washington and in the State of Hawaii.

Therefore:

As stated above, for an Individual to be a Candidate for the Office of President of the United States, the Candidate must meet the qualifications set forth in the United States Constitution and one of those qualifications is that the Candidate shall be a “natural born Citizen” of the United States. As Barack Hussein Obama II is of the “Mulatto” race, his status of citizenship is founded upon the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before the [purported] ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the race of “Negro” or “Mulatto” had no standing to be citizens of the United States under the United States Constitution.

View the entire complaint here. (PDF)

“Mulatto?”

Damn, that is horrid…

Yet, it underscores the next story I am about to bring you. The following links are from a town south of my little chunk of redneck heaven, Banjoville, Georgia. The town I am talking about is the poultry capital of the Peach State…Gainesville, Georgia.

Let me give you a bit of background.

There is a highschool in Gainesville that tallied up the students grades and found that a student named Cody Stephens received the highest GPA. So naturally, you would expect Cody to go on to be celebrated as class valedictorian.But remember, this is Georgia…and Cody happens to be black.

So what do you think the principal of the school does? He names two valedictorians. (Yup…two.) The co-valedictorian, Charlie Bryant, had a GPA that was slightly lower than Cody Stephens.  (Did I say that Cody Stephens is black?) Cody would have been the first African-American valedictorian in Gainesville history.

This caused a big stink as you can imagine, which led to a school board meeting and vote. The resulting vote, 4 to 1 in favor of having two valedictorians…you can say the shit hit the fan with that…eventually the parents of Charlie Bryant issued this letter stating:

The academic achievements of Cody Stephens and Charlie Bryant stand on their own merits and are to be celebrated, not tarnished by controversy.

After much prayerful consideration, we would like to offer an alternative perspective to those being discussed so prominently. Because of Cody’s unique position of being our first African-American valedictorian, we propose that Gainesville High School utilize the upcoming graduation ceremony to celebrate his, and only his, academic record as valedictorian of perhaps one of the most talented classes that GHS has ever produced.

Cody and Charlie, as students and friends, can deservedly share the honor at school, and we as a community, can collectively lift up Cody’s accomplishments as a unifying element to be proudly witnessed on graduation day. In support of this approach, we have made the decision to respectfully withdraw from the ceremonial recognition bestowed at graduation. We believe that this decision is in the best interest of GHS and our community. More importantly, we feel the decision is in the best interest of two incredible young men, our son Charlie and his friend, Cody Stephens.

Stephen’s mother welcomed the letter, but felt it came a bit late. Yesterday, she gave a press conference and had this to say: Valedictorian student’s mother says issue still open

Valerie Stephens credited Charlie Bryant’s parents for withdrawing him for co-valedictorian honors, but added that does not let school board members who voted 4-1 for co-valedictorians off the hook.

“That does not mean that the Gainesville City School System or Gainesville High School should not be held accountable for the things they set in place,” she said.

Stephens said Board Chairman Willie Mitchell voted the right way for Stephens sole honor but the others did not ‘vote the right way.’

Stephens vowed to campaign against board members up for re-election, and called for dismissals for superintendent Merrianne Dyer and high school principal Chris Mance.

Stephens said the co-valedictorian issue is not going away and she wants an investigation into why the system went against its own policy of granting the sole honor to the student with the highest grade point average.

“We cannot allow this situation to happen anymore to any parent or any child,” Stephens added and then she smiled and announced that “Cody Stephens is the sole valedictorian of Gainesville High School.”

Marcus Coleman, Founder of the Atlanta Chapter of Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network added his concerns on the matter.

“Here this school board on Friday had this emergency secret vote and it’s four to one,” Coleman said. “I think it’s unfair to the public and definitely unfair to the system because the honesty is not there.”

Coleman said the public was expecting a public meeting on the 28th, which was canceled after the board’s decision was disclosed Monday. Coleman added that he was glad the Bryants had some integrity because the school board did not.

“We don’t want another child, black, white, Latino, Asian, to go through this same thing when it deals with simple math,” Coleman said. “We plan to do something about the members of the School Board.”

I’m glad Cody is the sole valedictorian, bottom line is, he has the highest GPA in the school. End of story. I wonder if it were the other way around, would Charlie be sharing the spotlight with a co-valedictorian. What do you think?

I’m going to post some links on Syria now, because it is really turning into a human right’s disaster. The makings of a Civil War is going on right  before our very eyes.

Syria Crisis Highlights Paradoxes of Assad Support – NYTimes.com

Abu Ali fled his life as a Shiite cleric and student in Homs, the besieged Syrian city at the center of an increasingly bloody uprising, but it was not the government he feared.

It was the rebels, who he said killed three of his cousins in December and dumped a body in the family garbage bin.

“I can’t be in Homs because I will get killed there,” he said from this religious city in Iraq where he has taken refuge. “Not just me, but all Shiites.”

Like his fellow Shiites in Iraq, Abu Ali, who used his nickname to protect his family back in Syria, said he regards the Syrian rebels as terrorists, not freedom fighters, underscoring one of the complexities of a bloody civil conflict that has persisted as diplomatic efforts have failed. In spite of President Bashar al-Assad’s willingness to unleash a professional military on a civilian population, with lethal results, Mr. Assad retains some support at home and abroad from allies, including religious and ethnic minorities who for decades relied on the police state for protection from sectarian aggression.

“What the government is doing is trying to protect the people,” Abu Ali said, echoing the Assad government’s propaganda. “They are targeting terrorist groups in the area.”

That is one point of view, here is another:

WRAPUP 2-More than 7,500 killed in Syria, UN says, as new resolution tried | Reuters

Syrian forces kill 25 in bombardments – activists

* UN official says Syria toll exceeds 7,500

* France says Security Council working on new resolution (Adds US drafts outline of new resolution, China comment)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be classified as a war criminal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said as the United Nations announced more than 7,500 civilians had been killed by his forces since the start of the revolt.

At least 25 people were killed in the shelling of opposition strongholds by Syrian forces on Tuesday, activists said. In Homs alone, opposition groups said hundreds of civilians had been killed or wounded in the 24-day-old assault.

As world dismay grew over the bloodshed, France said the Security Council was working on a new Syria resolution and urged Russia and China not to veto it, as they have previous drafts.

An outline drafted by Washington focused on the humanitarian situation in order to try to win Chinese and Russian support and isolate Assad, Western envoys said. But they said the draft would also suggest Assad was to blame for the crisis, a stance Russia in particular has opposed.

In the besieged district of Baba Amro and other parts of Homs, terrified residents were enduring dire conditions, without proper supplies of water, food and medicine, activists said.

A wounded British photographer managed to escape from Homs, but the fate of French reporter Edith Bouvier was not clear.

She was the journalist who sustained more severe injuries than British photographer, Paul Conroy.

“There are credible reports that the death toll now often exceeds 100 civilians a day, including many women and children,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for political affairs Lynn Pascoe told the U.N. Security Council. “The total killed so far is certainly well over 7,500 people.”

Syria’s government said in December that “armed terrorist groups” had killed more than 2,000 soldiers and police.

Asked by a U.S. senator whether Assad could be called a war criminal, Clinton told a Senate hearing: “There would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category”. She added, however, that using such labels “limits options to persuade leaders to step down from power”.

More on what Hillary Clinton stated at the Senate hearing: Hillary Clinton: Syria’s Assad could be labeled a war criminal

Clinton was also asked whether she thought Assad was on his way out eventually. “I do,” she said. “I just don’t know how to define eventually.”

Please take a look at the rest of the article, it gives more details of the latest developments. Including details and quotes from the “delusional” meeting between the UN and the Syrian Ambassador.

It is painfully obvious talks are not moving forward. As we witness the struggle of those journalist remaining in Syria, whose whereabouts are still unknown… including the remains of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, who were killed last week. It truly brings the desperate nature of the situation home.  Especially with the dramatic escape this morning of Paul Conroy, in the face of Syria’s refusal to allow safe passage of the foreign press out of Homs.

Syrian activists killed in Paul Conroy rescue mission | World news | The Guardian

Up to 13 activists died smuggling the Sunday Times photographer out of the country, it has emerged.

Conroy survived the attack last week that killed his colleague Marie Colvin. Three other western journalists, including Edith Bouvier, who was badly injured in the same incident, were reported to be still trapped in Homs on Tuesday night. A claim by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, that Bouvier had also been evacuated was later retracted by his office.

I actually sighed a heavy sigh just now…so sad.

Then you have this, from MSNBC:  Fears grow of Israel-Iran missile shootout

With tensions between Israel and Iran running sky high over the latter’s nuclear program, U.S. officials and military analysts are growing increasingly concerned that Israel will launch a multi-phase air and missile attack that could trigger waves of retaliatory missile strikes from Tehran.

Such a shootout could quickly spiral into a regional conflict that would potentially force the U.S. to intervene to protect its interests.

The emerging consensus among current and former U.S. officials and other experts interviewed by NBC News is that that an Israeli attack would be a multi-faceted assault on key Iranian nuclear installations, involving strikes by both warplanes and missiles. It could also include targeted attacks by Israeli special operations forces and possibly even the use of massive explosives-laden drones, they say.

The Iranian response to such an attack is uncertain, but many experts and officials believe it is likely to include retaliatory missile strikes. Iran has more missiles in its arsenal than Israel, according to some estimates, and has the capability of striking targets in most Israeli population centers.

Now this story was published about 30 minutes after Michigan was called for Romney. Seems a bit of a coincidence to me. The article is not reporting an actual incident that has already happened, it is reporting on what could happen. It rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like the media induced fear and war mongering when it comes to Iran. I hope that we aren’t going to see another US war in the region. With all the talk of bombing Iran from the clown circus that is the GOP primaries. This kind of “what if reporting” gives me the creeps.

After all that, lets check out the latest findings in a murder that took place 5,300 years ago. BBC News – Oetzi the Iceman’s nuclear genome gives new insights

New clues have emerged in what could be described as the world’s oldest murder case: that of Oetzi the “Iceman”, whose 5,300-year-old body was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991.

Oetzi reconstruction (South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/EURAC/Marco Samadelli-Gregor Staschitz)
A reconstruction shows what Oetzi may have looked like before an arrow felled him

Oetzi’s full genome has now been reported in Nature Communications.

It reveals that he had brown eyes, “O” blood type, was lactose intolerant, and was predisposed to heart disease.

They also show him to be the first documented case of infection by a Lyme disease bacterium.

Analysis of series of anomalies in the Iceman’s DNA also revealed him to be more closely related to modern inhabitants of Corsica and Sardinia than to populations in the Alps, where he was unearthed.

My son Jake contracted Lyme disease in Connecticut when he was three years old. It never occurred to me Lyme could actually be found over 5,300 years ago.

Albert Zink, from the Eurac Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, said the nuclear DNA study was a great leap forward in one of the most widely studied specimens in science.

“We’ve been studying the Iceman for 20 years. We know so many things about him – where he lived, how he died – but very little was known about his genetics, the genetic information he was carrying around,” he told BBC News.

He was carrying around a “haplotype” that showed his ancestors most likely migrated from the Middle East as the practice of formal agriculture became more widespread.

It is probably this period of transition to an agrarian society that explains Oetzi’s lactose intolerance.

Jake is also lactose intolerant…hmmm…funny. Now I can tell him not only was he named after Jake Barnes in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises…he also has the same health problems as the 5,300 year old Iceman. Some how I don’t think he will be that impressed. Perhaps his sister Brett will get a kick out of it…Yes and she is named after Lady Brett Ashley, doesn’t it make you want to go and re-read The Sun Also Rises.

With all the disturbing news lately, I think losing myself in The Lost Generation would be a treat.

So that does it for me, catch y’all later in the comments.


Live Blogging: 2012 GOP Michigan and Arizona Primaries

Shhhh….

Did you hear that?

Sounds like the drumming of thousands of religious right wingnut feet as they get out the vote in the lands of automobile factories and Mexican immigrants.

(Okay, that immigrant jab may have been a bit too much…)

CNN is reporting this:

Breaking News: Early exit polls in Michigan’s primary show frustration with the GOP field and hints of mischief among Democratic voters.

They are live blogging the results here: Live blog of Michigan and Arizona primaries – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs

So far, TRENDING: Michigan mischief: ‘A deal with the devil’ – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs

A longtime liberal radio host asking Democratic listeners to vote for Rick Santorum in Michigan’s Republican primary told CNN Tuesday he loves making mischief.

After spending nearly all of his three hour program encouraging Democrats to get out and vote for Santorum Tuesday, Tony Trupiano made no apologies for his behavior.

I guess the big orange site is not the only one with the “hilarious” plan to get Santorum nominated.

“Because Rick Santorum is doing as well as he is doing here in the polls, we could actually take some serious delegates away from him [Mitt Romney],” Trupiano said. “What that really does is it gives America a little more time to get to know these candidates. And don’t for a minute tell me we haven’t learned a lot more about all of them in the last six weeks. What more can we learn six weeks from now?”

From one of the sheep:

At a polling station in Dearborn Heights, Crystal Larson said her vote for Santorum made her “feel like I made a deal with the devil.”

“Voting for Santorum goes against everything I believe in and everything I’ve ever stood for in my life and to vote for him takes a lot of guts I think,” Larson said.

TPM has this to offer: Will Mitt Go Quietly? | Talking Points Memo

This morning I got this email from TPM Reader SL

I don’t really hear anyone talking about what Romney would do if (he loses Michigan) and the GOP leaders look for a white horse candidate. Does anyone really think he would just step aside for a new nominee or hand over his delegates at a brokered convention?

He has been running for this job for years. He has plenty of money. They cant offer him a bigger job, financial power, etc. So what could the party leaders offer him to step aside. It wouldn’t be “wait until next time” because stepping aside would show he is damaged goods politically.

It sure looks like Michigan will be a close finish so either way the conversation of a white horse will likely get louder.

I would love to see you address this in an article.

SL’s question, I think, all but answers itself. And this is basically why the whole White Knight fantasy is so preposterous. Go quietly. Mitt? Like he did when it was time for Newt to take it away from him? Or Santorum? As I wrote a few days ago, “Okay, cool. I’m still ahead in delegates. I’ve got tons of money. I’m not sure what else I’ll do with my life at this point beside do this. But sure, I’m just going to step aside now and become the only mulligan nominee in modern history.”

Hmmm….so would Jeb Bush riding on a white horse be the MacGuffin? (Alfred Hitchcock reference.)

You can follow TPM’s results here:

Michigan Republican Presidential Primary | TPM Elections

Arizona Republican Presidential Primary | TPM Elections

Let’s go ahead and post a couple more links, these are from Huffpo:

MI Primary Election 2012: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum Battle To The End

Who’s Ahead – Huffington Post 2012 Election Dashboard

Mitt Romney Blasts Rick Santorum For Robocalls, Labels Him An ‘Economic Lightweight’

And Huffpo’s live blog:

Michigan Primary 2012 & Arizona Primary 2012: Live Updates

That should keep you all busy, stick around for the fun…I have a shitload of laundry to iron…so I’ll be here all night!

**Updated to add more links for you, I guess those links above weren’t enough for some people:
2012 Michigan Primary – Results | Politics | Fox News

2012 Arizona Primary – Results | Politics | Fox News

Breaking Politics News, Political Headlines, Stories and Video – CBS News

Politics News: Latest Political News and U.S. Elections Coverage – ABC News

Complete Republican Presidential primary Results – Politics – Decision 2012 – msnbc.com

Results from Michigan and Arizona – Live Results – Election 2012 – NYTimes.com

US elections 2012 | World news | The Guardian

Oops…did I just pull an Obama? Yup, I compromised and put links to Fox News…


Evening News: Before the results…

We will be having a live blog tonight as the results for the Michigan and Arizona Primaries come in. Michigan polls close at 8pm local time and Arizona’s closes at 7pm local time.

So before the “fun” begins, I thought it would be good to get the evening news roundup out-of-the-way.

First some humor…then the tough stuff…and then the finale…its a good one.

You just know the comedians and satirists are itching for a Santorum nomination.

Yup, that is about the right shade of pea green…don’t you think.

Now for the news…

I wonder how long it will take the clown brigade to hop on this news item from the Washington Post:  Portions of 9/11 victims’ remains taken to landfill, report says -

Some small portions of unidentified human remains recovered from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., were incinerated and ultimately dumped in a landfill, the Defense Department acknowledged Tuesday.It was the first time that the Pentagon has said that some remains of Sept. 11 victims taken to the Dover Air Force Base mortuary later ended up in a landfill.

We have a suit and pair of shoes tucked away in our basement that has human remains and ash from the towers…my guess is lots of those remains went home on the trains and buses on September 11th, 2001.

I just don’t like these people using someone’s misery to campaign against each other.

Here are some links about the results expected today…you can pretty much guess what is being said.

After Many Momentum Shifts, Michigan Is Too Close to Call – NYTimes.com

People sometimes apply the term “tossup” a bit too broadly, using it to refer to anything close enough that they don’t want to render a prediction about it.

In Michigan, however, the term is appropriate. Rick Santorum, who once trailed Mitt Romney badly in the state, then surged to a clear lead there, then saw Mr. Romney regain his footing and pull back ahead, appears to have some late momentum in the race — perhaps just enough to win, and perhaps not.

In fact, after adding in a poll from Public Policy Polling that showed Mr. Santorum ahead by five points in interviews conducted on Monday night, our forecast model of the state briefly showed a tie, with Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum each at 37.6 percent of the vote.

George Stephanopoulos has this question…which is on everyone’s minds. /snark. What Happens if Rick Santorum Wins Michigan?

That’s the question I asked ABC News contributor Matt Dowd ahead of tonight’s primary. Mitt Romney has been bouncing up and down in the polls of his home state, and is now neck and neck with Rick Santorum.

“If Rick Santorum wins tonight it’s the equivalent of a 9.0 on a Richter scale. I mean it is going to shake Washington, it’s going to shake Republican establishment it’s just going to shake things to their very core,” Dowd told me. “And I think what you’re going to see are the conversations that have been going on behind quiet doors saying we need another candidate in this race.”

But how can another Republican jump in?  After Super Tuesday, the filing deadlines will be open in only seven states.  Even if a candidate can manage to get on the ballot – and win every one of those states – he or she will still have fewer than a third of the delegates needed for the nomination.

Dowd says Republicans could recruit another candidate to shake things up and “demonstrate that these guys are not the guys that are most electable.”

“They may not be able to win the number of delegates, but if nobody gets the majority of the delegates going into the convention, if somebody comes out from behind the scene and shows up tomorrow or in the next week or two they could actually show that they could win this,” Dowd said on “GMA.”

Video interview at the link.

Whoa…What a minute…did someone say something about recruiting other candidates?  Huh? Still pushing that meme I see…Damn they really hate Mittens.

And only after backlash like those cartoons up top has Santorum walked back his vomit comment.

Santorum regrets ‘throw up’ response to Kennedy speech

Rick Santorum regrets saying that he wanted to “throw up” in response to watching a video clip of President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech about the separation of church and state.

“I wish I had that particular line back,” Santorum said Tuesday on Laura Ingraham’s radio show.

From that display of histrionics yesterday while defending his remarks, I don’t think he really wants to take that line back…

I know that you’ve heard me say it before, never underestimate the power of the Jesus Freaks. Case in point: Santorum on top in second straight Ohio poll

I guess I should also add violence loving Waffle House customers to that list as well: How Mitt Romney booked Kid Rock

And now for the finale…this is for all those sheep out there voting for Santorum in Michigan, because the big orange site told you to:   ‘Oldest sheep’ dies after falling off cliff

I cannot embed the video, but you have to watch it…and listen to what the owner says. It is priceless!

A ewe, thought to have been a contender for the title of world’s oldest sheep, has died after falling off a cliff.

An ear tag on the blackface ewe, nicknamed Methuselina, showed that she was 25 years and 11 months old.

Her owner, John Maciver, said he her longevity down to her good teeth which allowed her to graze easily.

See you all later tonight!


Tuesday Reads

Morning Muffin with Coffee Cup, by Delilah Smith

Good Morning!!

Today is the big day for Mitt Romney. Will he win the primary in Michigan, where he was born and raised? Or will Rick Santorum beat him with a little help from Democrats? Daily Kos has been advocating for Democrats to cross over and vote for Santorum in order to extend the Republican primary race, and today it was revealed that a Michigan man had engineered and e-mail and robocall campaign to push the idea. From CNN:

Michigan Democratic strategist Joe DiSano has taken it upon himself to become a leading mischief maker.

DiSano says he targeted nearly 50,000 Democratic voters in Michigan through email and a robo call to their homes, asking them to go to the polls Tuesday to vote for Rick Santorum in attempt to hurt Romney.

“Democrats can get in there and cause havoc for Romney all the way to the Republican convention,” DiSano told CNN.

“If we can help set that fire in Michigan, we have a responsibility to do so,” he said.

The Santorum camapaign apparently picked up on the idea too, according Talking Points Memo:

Rick Santorum’s campaign is locked in a tight battle with Mitt Romney ahead of Tuesday’s Michigan primary. On Monday his camp started openly courting a demographic that’s not often reached out to in GOP primaries: Democrats.

Michigan’s primary rules allow Dems to vote in the state’s GOP primaries. The liberal site DailyKos and other progressive partners have been trying to drum up enthusiasm for “Operation Hilarity” – an effort to get Democrats to vote in the GOP primary and tilt the vote against Mitt Romney. The Santorum campaign evidently decided they’d take votes from any legitimate source.

Following some speculation that the robocall may have been a “false flag” effort designed to harm Santorum, a spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed to TPM that they were indeed footing the bill, and reaching beyond party lines. “If we can get the Reagan Democrats in the primary, we can get them in the general,” he told TPM.

Nate Silver’s forecast for the Michigan primary: Romney’s Lead Looks More Tenuous.

Since we ran the Michigan numbers early Monday morning, three new polls are out that make the state look more like a true toss-up and less like one that favors Mr. Romney.

Two of the surveys, from Mitchell Research and American Research Group, in fact give Rick Santorum a nominal lead in Michigan, by 2 and 1 percentage points respectively. The third, from Rasmussen Reports, gives Mr. Romney a 2-point advantage.

We also added a hard-to-track down survey from Baydoun Consulting, which gave Mr. Romney an 8-point advantage. However, it is less recent than the others, having been conducted on Thursday night rather than over the weekend.

Among the five polls that were conducted over the weekend — including those that had been included with the previous update — three give Mr. Romney a small lead while two show an edge for Mr. Santorum.

Late last night, another poll came out from PPP Polling that suggests the momentum in Michigan has switched back to Santorum.

PPP’s final poll in Michigan finds Rick Santorum holding on to the smallest of leads with 38% to 37% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Ron Paul, and 9% for Newt Gingrich.

It’s always good to be cautious with one night poll numbers, but momentum seems to be swinging in Santorum’s direction. Romney led with those interviewed on Sunday, but Santorum has a 39-34 advantage with folks polled on Monday. The best sign that things have gone back toward Santorum might be that with those polled today who hadn’t already voted, Santorum’s advantage was 41-31.

Much has been made of Democratic efforts to turn out the vote for Santorum and we see evidence that’s actually happening. Romney leads with actual Republican voters, 43-38. But Santorum’s up 47-10 with Democratic voters, and even though they’re only 8% of the likely electorate that’s enough to put him over the top. The big question now is whether those folks will actually bother to show up and vote tomorrow.

They do note that Romney already has a big lead with the people who voted early (18% of the electorate). We’ll be live blogging the results of the primaries in Michigan and Arizona later tonight. Romney is expected to win easily in Arizona.

The forgotten candidate Newt Gingrich made some news today with a mean-spirited statement about Afghanistan.

”We’re not going to fix Afghanistan,” the former House speaker said. “It’s not possible.”

His prescription:”What you have to do is say, ‘You know, you’re going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life… Because you clearly don’t want to learn from me how to be unmiserable.’”

Gee, I wonder if all those bombs killing civilians–including children–might have something to do with Afghans being unhappy? That’s in addition to U.S. soldiers burning Korans–whether inadvertent or not–and urinating on bodies of insurgents.
Think Progress reports that Darrell Issa has finally admitted that his no-women-allowed contraception hearing wasn’t “my greatest success.”

Eight days after getting roundly-chastised for holding an all-male anti-contraception, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) admitted on Friday that the episode did not go as well as he expected.

“I won’t call it my greatest success to get a point across on behalf of the American people,” said the six-term congressman.

He still doesn’t concede that he’s incorrect about the Obama administration’s conception rule violating the First Amendment.

The White House is supporting a Canadian company’s decision to begin building part of the Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada announced Monday that it plans to begin building the southern part of the pipeline, which would ship crude oil from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf of Mexico.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama “welcomes” the news that the Canadian pipeline company is moving ahead with its plans, despite the fact that the administration halted work on the cross-border portion of Keystone through 2013 — a move that sparked outcry among congressional Republicans — until TransCanada works out a new route through Nebraska that avoids ecologically sensitive areas.

“As the President made clear in January, we support the company’s interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight year high. Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production,” Carney said in a statement.

We haven’t talked about this much lately, but the trial of Tyler Clementi’s roommate Dharun Ravi has begun in New Jersey. Clementi was the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate filmed him with a gay lover and streamed the video on the internet. Ravi is charged with invasion of privacy and a hate crime, “bias intimidation.” From the New York Times:

The trial of Dharun Ravi promises to turn less on what happened between him and Tyler Clementi in September 2010 — there is general agreement about most of the events — than on why. The most serious charge against Mr. Ravi is bias intimidation, carrying a potential 10-year prison sentence, which raises crucial questions about whether he had been motivated by antigay bias and whether Mr. Clementi had felt intimidated or had believed that his roommate was mistreating him because of his sexual orientation.

Seventeen months after Mr. Clementi, an 18-year-old from Ridgewood, jumped from the George Washington Bridge, the case still commands national interest, attested to by a crowd of journalists who were packed into a courtroom here or were watching on monitors in adjoining rooms. The case has been used by the news media, politicians and interest groups to illustrate themes that include the abuse of gay youths, teenage suicide, cyberbullying and the loss of privacy in the Internet age, and it prompted New Jersey lawmakers to adopt one of the nation’s toughest civil antibullying laws.

Mr. Ravi, who was also 18 at the time, knew that his roommate was gay and had another man with him in their dorm room, and used the webcam in his computer to watch the encounter from a friend’s room. He posted on Twitter about seeing Mr. Clementi “making out with a dude,” and two days later posted that it would be happening again and invited others to see. But Mr. Clementi, knowing that he had been spied on, turned off the computer to block another spying episode.

“It was not an accident, not a mistake,” Julia McClure, the first assistant prosecutor for Middlesex County, told the jury in her opening statement. “Those acts were meant to cross one of the most sacred boundaries of human privacy — engaging in private sexual human activity.” She said Mr. Ravi’s actions “were planned to expose Tyler Clementi’s sexual orientation, and they were planned to expose Tyler Clementi’s private sexual activity.”

Yesterday Molly Wei, the friend from whose room Ravi spied on Clementi, testified for the prosecution.

“First of all, it was shocking. It felt wrong. We didn’t expect to see that. And now that what we did, it was like we shouldn’t have seen it,” Molly Wei said told jurors. “We didn’t want people to know what had happened.”

But within minutes, she testified, she and defendant Dharun Ravi were online chatting with friends about seeing two men kissing. And within the hour, Wei said, she agreed to show a few seconds of the video stream to four other women who visited her dorm room.

Still, she said, Ravi did not intend to humiliate his roommate.

Yeah, right.

She said that she invited Ravi, whom she had known since middle school, to her dorm room for a snack a few minutes after 9 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2010. When Ravi tried to go back, she said, Clementi told him that he wanted the cramped dorm room to himself for a few hours. So Ravi returned.

Within a few minutes, she said, he used her computer to view live images from his webcam. It was then, she said, that she saw about two seconds of Clementi and an older man kissing.

Even though she said they initially agreed not to talk about what they had seen, she asked Ravi to tell a friend about it during an online chat that began at 9:20 p.m. And within minutes, word got around the dorm.

She said she agreed to turn the webcam back on at the request of a woman who was among a group dropped by her room.

“It was the exact same image, except that they had taken their tops off,” she said. “As soon as they saw it, I turned it off.”

Wei was allowed to make a deal in which she agreed to perform community service and see a psychologist.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Monday Evening Reads: Little Red Beanies

Good Evening…

I am helping my son with his history homework tonight, so this is going to be more of a “link dump” as Wonk the Vote calls it.

Here is the latest on the shooting at an Ohio high school earlier today:

1 dead, 4 wounded in shooting at Ohio school; student described as an outcast is arrested – The Washington Post

Ohio High School Shooting Leaves 1 Student Dead and 4 Wounded – NYTimes.com

Breaking News: School Canceled Following Chardon Shooting, One Dead, Four Injured | WOUB

And check it out…on the state sanctioned rape front…more states are joining the bandwagon.

Alabama Bill Could Require Women To Undergo Invasive Ultrasound To Convince Them ‘To Keep The Child’ | ThinkProgress

Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill Introduced in Idaho Breaking News | Womens eNews

The Maddow Blog – Alabama GOP wants Virginia’s vaginal ultrasound bill

Mitt Romney exhibited his usually bad taste and obvious lack of understanding when it comes to the 99%.

Romney Makes Billy Crystal Oscar Joke Real: Has ‘Great Friends That Are NASCAR Team Owners’ | Mediaite

Romney: I have friends who own NASCAR teams – Political Hotsheet – CBS News

Wikileaks published another batch of emails from Stratfor. Cannonfire has a great post about it…so check that out, the other links are interesting as well.

Wikileaks emails indicate Stratfor discovered Israel already destroyed Iran’s nuclear facilities | The Raw Story

Stratfor, Wikileaks, Goldman Sachs and the Nameless Country Cannonfire

The Global Intelligence Files – List of Releases

Get the latest from the Vatican, this is the dude who Santorum is planning on taking orders from if he is elected president.

Pope Says Couples Who Conceive Through In-Vitro Fertilization Are Guilty Of Arrogance | RH Reality Check

In other Catholic news, Dakinikat linked to this article in the comments earlier today.

Joe. My. God.: Cardinal George: We’ll Close Every Catholic Hospital Rather Than Provide Birth Control

Here is the actual link to the article Joe wrote about:

Catholic New World – What are you going to give up this Lent? – Cardinal’s Column

Personally I think if the churches want to play this game, then cut the tax exemptions and other government funding they receive.

Sorry for the quick links…have a good evening.