Tabloid Tuesday Reads

TabloidCoverGood Morning!

I’ve had a bout of a really bad stomach flu and I’m just beginning to get some energy back, so I’m not going to post anything that takes any analysis.  Hopefully, this will be a fun post after week after week of horrifying news.  Oh, these tabloid covers don’t come from Fox News or any right wing blog, just so you know.

Jane Fonda has had a really interesting life.  She recently gave an interview that opened up a lot of the more distressing things that she’s endured.   You need to go to the link to watch/listen to the interview.

She talks about losing a parent to suicide (4:00), how being a tomboy with no period made her wonder if she was really a girl (4:30), how failed marriages forced her to look inward for strength (7:30), how she said goodbye to a slowly dying parent (13:30), how she manages being a caretaker for her partner with Parkinson’s (22:00), and what sex is like after celibacy (26:15). She’s not scared of anything anymore. You’ll love it.

She’s still working and has done these interviews as part of  blitzing the airwaves for her new movie.  Fonda’s life has been an open book but now so are many of her feelings about that life.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, the two time Oscar winning actress has always been hard to ignore. Before she was the video work-out queen of the 80’s, Fonda was a noted activist for Civil Rights and an outspoken opponent to the Vietnam War. She has repeatedly expressed regrets about the photographs taken of her posing with North Vietnam guns that shot down American planes.

“At your level of fame the easy thing to have done throughout your entire career was to seek privacy and instead you’ve spoken out about causes that you believe in. Why?” asked Bryan.

“I’m my father’s daughter, explained Fonda. “I grew up with Tom Joad. The Grapes of Wrath. 12 Angry Men. The Wrong Man. Ox-bow Incident.

“My dad never spoke much. He was very taciturn.But I knew that these movies had characters that he loved, and that’s what he felt the world should be like and he believed in sticking up for the underdog, for fairness and justice.”

“And so at a certain point in my life I found myself going in that direction and it’s made me a better person for sure. And I’ve learned a lot. I didn’t just sort of give money out like it’s a charity. I was down in the trenches and it really made me a better actor too, I must say.”

There’s something else Jane inherited from her famous father Henry. A tendency to get teary.

“My dad always said ‘Fondas cry at a good steak’, Fonda said.” It’s a sign of empathy I think. Because the crying doesn’t mean sad. It means your heart is open and your soul is open. And I found ( This Is Where I Leave You) full of those kind of moments that opened my heart and my empathy gene and I hope that it does for audiences. And I think it will.”

Yet another study has shown that the most conservative areas of the country are the most porn-addicted.  Is it the misogyny, the down home religion, or the repression?  This study argues that it’s correlated with defense mechanisms.3fa31e84082c747957312117249f4e7c

In October, two Toronto researchers, Cara MacInnis and Gordon Hodson, published a study that correlated the popularity of sex and adult material-related search terms across various regions or states with information from a Gallup pool asking about religious and political attitudes. Their study design involves a number of different comparisons and considered the effects of poverty, population, and other variables.

Unsurprisingly, higher levels of religiosity and conservatism correlated higher search rates sexual content – specifically, it meant more searches for phrases like “sex,” “gay sex,” or “sex images.”

While aggregate data can’t be used to draw conclusions about individual behavior and is open to alternative interpretations, it fits with information from other sources. For instance, Business professor Benjamin Edelman at Harvard found that states that place a higher esteem on traditional gender roles and sexuality have higher rates of paid subscriptions for adult materials – which seems to imply they have no idea how the Internet works in these states, as well.

It dovetails with claims made by strip club owners that they make up to three times as much during Republican conventions than Democratic conventions or even the Superbowl. MacInnis and Hodsen quote an exotic dancer named Layla Love who said in 2001 that the arrival of the RNC brought with it “15 to 17 hour shifts, every day” until the convention ended.  She added that “So, for basically seven days straight, I will be in the club, every day, day shift and night shift.”

So we’ve stated the obvious; what’s this got to do with defense mechanisms?

There are several that are relevant to this discussion:

  • Denial means simply refusing to acknowledge that some event or pattern is real.
  • Repression involves pushing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to the far recesses of the subconscious mind.
  • Reaction formation is saying or doing the opposite of what you really want but won’t allow yourself to express.
  • Projection means assuming that others share the impulses, feelings, and vices that you find unacceptable in yourself.

We’ve all encountered at least one of these before when dealing with a religious conservative: for instance, the Religious Right projects more than an IMAX theater. When factored into this discussion, however, it becomes easy to picture a group of so-called “Values Voters” at the convention after a night painting the town (Republican) Red:

Projection: Godless liberals are destroying this country-feminazi sluts demanding sex with no consequences and faggots pushing their gay agenda on our children.

Repression: What?

Reaction formation: This town is full of trashy dancers who wag their big tits and tight asses at honest businessmen. We should lock them up and throw away the key.

Repression: What?

Denial: Real Christians, through prayer, have the power to resist temptation. Only righteous men in public office can stop the moral decay of this sex-obsessed country.

Repression: Did you say something?

We all have our failings; nobody is perfect. But if you’re going to demand perfection from others and make no allowances for failure, you better damn well be perfect yourself. Not just “saved” – perfect.

owns Here’s an interesting portrait of King Tut.  Did he really have “girlish hips” and boy boobs?

Earlier this year, egyptologists from the American University in Cairo shed light on some of the bizarre burial rituals discovered in the tomb, including the fact the king’s penis was embalmed at a 90-degree angle – the only mummy to have ever been found with this feature.

On the outside of the tomb, decorations depicted Tutankhamun as underworld god Osiris, while wall paintings (pictured) showed the king being embraced by the underworld god. It is believed that if Tutankhamun was shown to be this powerful god it would quash a religious revolution taking place in the 1320s BC

Researchers from the American University in Cairo believe the king’s appendage was embalmed at a 90-degree angle to make the young pharaoh appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld.

The angling of the penis was a feature worn by ‘corn-mummies’, created in honour of Osiris.

The mummy was also covered in black liquid to resemble Osiris’ skin.

Elsewhere, Tutankhamun’s heart was missing when the tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

Religious texts claimed Osiris’ heart was similarly removed by his brother Seth.On the outside of the tomb, decorations depicted Tutankhamun as Osiris.

They claimed that this may have been carried out on purpose to make the king appear like Osiris, the god of the underworld, in an attempt to frighten religious revolutionaries.

At the time of his death in 1323 BC, the father of the teenage Egyptian king was said to be leading a religious revolution in the country.

It is believed Akhenaten wanted to destroy the belief in the Egyptian gods and instead worship a sun disc called the Aten.

Tutanhkhamun was trying to tackle this revolution when he was believed to have broken his leg and died from an infection in the wound. DNA analysis in 2010 also found traces of malaria in his system.

During mummification a decision was made to not only embalm the erect penis, but also to cover the king’s body in black liquid – similar in colour to the skin of Osiris – and remove his heart.

These rituals, according to Professor Salima Ikram from the university, were done in order to make people think Tutankhamun was the underworld god.

His DNA also showed some weird things.wwn-cover1

Albert Zink, from the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Italy, deciphered the truth about the ruler’s parents by studying the royal family’s DNA.

He found that Tut was born after his father Akhenaten – dubbed the heretic king – had a relationship with his sister. Incest was not frowned upon by the ancient Egyptians and they did not know about the health implications for any offspring.

Hutan Ashrafian, a lecturer in surgery at Imperial College London, said that several members of the family appeared to have suffered from ailments which can be explained by hormonal imbalances. He said: ‘A lot of his family predecessors lived to a ripe old age. Only his immediate line were dying early, and they were dying earlier each generation.’

Egyptian radiologist Ashraf Selim: ‘The virtual autopsy shows the toes are divergent – in layman’s terms it’s club foot. He would have been heavily limping.

‘There is only one site where we can say a fracture happened before he died and that is the knee.’

Evidence of King Tut’s physical limitations were also backed up by 130 used walking canes found in his tomb.

 Republican Candidates for all levels of office continue to say strange things too. This one is really weird.  Is it just me or does it appear that many of them seem to have mental illnesses that should be treated?  I mean isn’t religious delusion like an indicator of some really awful problems?

Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) Republican challenger referred to same-sex couples as “gremlins” and “bullies” in a Facebook post urging supporters to oppose gay marriage at the polls this fall.

Anthony Culler, the GOP nominee for Clyburn’s seat, wrote a Facebook post on Oct. 14 decrying same-sex marriage as “a pestilence that has descended on our society, against our will, by those in the courts and government that do not value the traditional family.”

“Same sex couples that seek to destroy our way of life and the institution of marriage are NOT cute and cuddly but rather (for those of you that are old enough to remember the movie), Gremlins that will only destroy our way of life,” he wrote.

He adds: “These people are bullies and now that they are winning their true and hateful nature is much easier to see and hear.”

Culler goes on to charge that gays have “a strong tendency for substance abuse,” and urges readers to avoid the ” ‘over the top’ and ‘anything goes’ ceremonies or parties that these people revel in.”

“Stand against this and we will reverse it and drive it back into the darkness,” he writes.

One more before I go go too.  This one is real but sounds like tabloid stuff.  I kid you not.  Although, really, what is Politico any way if not a beltway tabloid and only journalism in the minds of the originating stooges?images (2)

Federal law enforcement officials are taking an ISIL threat against Michele Bachmann so seriously that Capitol Police have given the Minnesota Republican her own security detail.

An online threat against Bachmann emerged recently, according to multiple law enforcement officials familiar with the situation. Last week, Bachmann was provided a security detail in response, according to the sources.

Members of the U.S. Capitol Police’s Dignitary Protection Division were briefed on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The police security will continue until Bachmann, who will retire at the end of this Congress, is no longer in office.

A police detail of this type typically means 24-hour protection when a member of Congress is on Capitol Hill or back in the home district.

Officials declined to outline the specific nature of the threat.

Bachmann’s office referred news media inquiries to Capitol Police. A Capitol Police spokeswoman declined to comment.

“The U.S. Capitol Police does not discuss law enforcement operations or security regarding Members of Congress,” spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider wrote in an email.

Bachmann has been publicly critical of not only ISIL, but also Islam, calling on President Barack Obama to declare war on the religion during a speech at the conservative Value Voters Summit at the end of September.

“And I believe if you have an evil of an order of this magnitude, you take it seriously,” Bachmann said. “You declare war on it, you don’t dance around it. Just like the Islamic State has declared war on the United States of America.”

Have a great day!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today, because it’s a WIDE OPEN thread!


Thursday Reads: “But where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.”

Good Morning!

I’m still a little out of it but I’m nowhere out of it compared to what’s going on in this midterm election season.  I’m not about to gamble where it’s going to end up, but I will tell you that it’s just about as strange as any election season I’ve ever seen.  8170291676_8431de6a3c_z

First up, Republicans that refuse to debate for some reason or another.  Perhaps it’s because they open their mouths and turn people off?  However, Florida’s governor now has the Temper Tantrum Toddler award for this one.

The Florida gubernatorial debate got off to a rocky start Wednesday night when Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) refused to come out because his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, asked for and received a fan under his podium.

The debate moderators at CBS Miami seemed shocked, wondering aloud what to do for several minutes until Scott finally consented to join Crist on stage. Scott apparently told the hosts that the debate rules banned fans from the stage.

“We have been told Governor Scott will not be participating in this debate,” CBS moderator Elliott Rodriguez said. “Now, let me explain what this is all about. Governor Crist has asked to have a fan, a small fan, placed underneath his podium. The rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign said that there should be no fan. Somehow there is a fan there and for that reason, ladies and gentlemen, Governor Scott will not join us for the debate.”

The announcement was met with jeers and boos from the crowd.

“That’s the ultimate pleading of the Fifth I’ve ever heard,” Crist said from the stage.

knowRepugClownsRick Scott has all kinds of issues.  First, let’s start out with the legal and political issues that have haunted his term and campaign.

Look to a Ponzi state running eternally on the next out-of-town sucker, administered by a gerrymandered GOP hammerlock and overseen by a man who the president of Public Policy Polling once said could be trounced by “a ham sandwich.” That man is Florida Governor Rick Scott, who bought one election and feels like having another, who — depending on your point of view — makes the Sunshine State either more of a national punchline than it already is, or a paradise where every political malignancy can sizzle and bloat before coming home to fuck up wherever it is you live. Meanwhile, the man sent as an alternative to the theory that government’s job is to die quietly is Charlie Crist, a Republican conveniently converted to Democrat, for whom even long-time friends say pursuing policy takes a distant second place to holding office as an end in itself.

That Rick Scott is a Republican is no surprise. He has a classic up-from-his-bootstraps story that doesn’t involve a coal-mining immigrant granddad but actually features himself. And like so many conservative biographies, it’s ideologically impure — estranged from an abusive father, raised at points in public housing, getting a government job, starting a business in part via GI benefits, eventually becoming CEO of Columbia/HCA, the nation’s largest private healthcare company, which grew by undercutting non-profit hospital fatcats with cutthroat private bottom-line policies.

Why he ever wanted to become a Republican candidate remains bit of a mystery, because while CEO of Columbia/HCA, the company was assessed the largest penalty for Medicare and Medicaid fraud in history. In yet another instance of the GOP Cult of the Leader at work, Scott presented the ideal candidate because of the success of his business, which was owed to his vision; the fact that it ultimately paid nearly $1.7 billion in penalties for a criminal enterprise was someone else’s fuckup. Scott himself admitted to exercising his Fifth Amendment privileges in a civil deposition 75 times when it might relate to the federal investigation of Columbia/HCA — not to use his right to avoid self-incrimination but because he didn’t want to indulge a “fishing expedition.” That’s not a legitimate application of the Fifth Amendment. Your chief executive at work: a man for whom the rules of the justice system are just, like, thishassle.

His 2010 candidacy felt spectacularly surreal because, to paraphrase something I wrote then, he was a proud, self-celebratory embodiment of unpunished white collar crime. It was like seeing the executives of Merrill, AIG, Lehman Brothers and Countrywide simultaneously going through Senate confirmations to the Federal Reserve while drawing fingers across their necks at the committee chairperson and mouthing the words, “YOU’RE NEXT.” Scott could run on his record only in the most oblique and vacuous manner, since floating away via golden parachute after bumping your revenues by defrauding the federal government is not a viable state economic model.

Instead, Scott snorted the Tea Party miasma and duly acted as if his gubernatorial opponent were Barack Obama and health insurance. If elected, Scott would move the State Capitol from Washington, D.C. back to Tallahassee. To sell this vision, he insulated himself from campaign accountability in almost every respect. He sent his own mother to a news conference as a substitute, refused to subject himself to interviews from newspaper editorial boards and ducked debates. Reporters were ignored with an almost princely disdain and fed bland focus-group-tested answers to unrelated questions. He instead largely campaigned on television, pouring over $73 million of his own money into saturating the state with ads whose studio magic made him look like an approximation of a human being. It didn’t work. Florida residents and critics nationwide simply call him Voldemort.

Once in office, the limitations of running on his record and as not-Obama immediately showed. Despite going on to set the record for one-term executions since 1970, he admitted he hadn’t considered the responsibility of signing death warrants before he decided to run for office. In fact, the Tallahassee rumor mill suggested he wasn’t even aware that he physically had to sign each order. His office maintained the same level of lockout contempt for the press corps and expressed dismay and outrage at the “partisan” criticism of the office. Such micromanaged disdain for access and devotion to imaging doubtless increased focus on the revelation that Scott made a show on the trail of adopting a rescue dog, then ditched it once it had served its purpose. The secretive nature of the Scott administration continues to this day, with revelations that Scott and aides used private emails and private phones to circumvent the state’s Sunshine Laws.

Meanwhile, despite claiming on the stump that he would create 700,000 new jobs in seven years, on top of the projected job growth of 1,000,000, for a rate of roughly 242,857 jobs per year, Scott almost immediately ratcheted his pledge down by 1,000,000, claiming he merely needed to create 700,000 jobs total. This is akin to pledging 2 billion years ago to build a grand hotel and canyon on the site of the Colorado River, then showing up 2 billion years later to take credit for the Grand Canyon and hope everyone forgot about the hotel. And, as the Tampa Bay Times reports, he still comes up short according to his own office, reporting growth of 620,300 jobs in four years, far short of the 971,428 he should be on track for. Worse, even his own office’s numbers are fudged, because they don’t count public sector job losses — despite the fact that they are jobs — because, well, fuck ‘em. Factor in jobs lost to Scott’s budget slashing and elimination of regulatory oversight — 15,000 in just the first eight months alone — and he’s only at 594,900.

Rick Scott is a scary and crooked clown.  He’s a tea party sweetheart and a complete nightmare.  We’re waiting for him to announce that he is not a witch.esq-republican-clowns-120811-xlg

Even before he was elected in 2010, Scott spent $5 million of his own money—earned leading a health care companythat derives much of its revenue from government payments—to fight Obamacare. Florida was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case challenging Obamacare, and even after the court upheld the law, Scott refused to take steps to implement it. His fellow tea partiers are urging lawmakers to do the same: At a hearing in December, activist John Knapp told state legislators, “The American Constitution which you just swore an oath to uphold and defend has been contorted, hijacked, and reduced.”

To get Medicaid in Florida, you have to make less than $3,200 a year—and the state seems set to reject Obamacare subsidies that would fix that.

Obamacare is a particular target of tea party wrath in Florida, but it’s hardly the only one in a state where the movement’s ideology has permeated every layer of government. In just one year, Scott and his conservative allies slashed state spending by $4 billioneven as they cut corporate taxes. They’ve rejectedbillions in federal funds in one of the states hardest hitby the recession. They’ve axed everything from health care and public transportation initiatives to mosquito control and water supply programs. “Florida is where the rhetoric becomes the reality. It’s kind of the tea party on steroids,” says state Rep. Mark Pafford, a Democrat. “We’ve lost all navigation in terms of finding that middle ground.”

Similar shifts have occurred in other states where the tea party has amassed political power, including Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. But no state has gone as far as Florida, where small-government advocates have seized the economic crisis and fiscal downturn to reshape the state, often sacrificing benefits for residents to make a broader political point.

imagesWell, that’s just one race.  How bizarre can races in the other 49 states be?  You probably don’t want me to ask that , do you?  Take South Carolina’s Nikki Haley.  PLEASE.  If the nation’s CEOs aren’t worried about the Confederate flag, why should any one else bother with it?

Haley retorted by claiming that the Confederate flag has not kept companies from coming to the state.

“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag,” she said.

She also said that she herself has helped combat the state’s image problem.

“But we really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-American female governor,” Haley said. “When we appointed the first African-American U.S. senator, that sent a huge message.”

Libertarian candidate Steve French said that while he doesn’t mind if individuals display the Confederate flag, he doesn’t think businesses should be able to.

“So, if you want to paint your house in the Confederate flag, I am completely fine with that,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, it’s evidently fashionable to buy the governor’s seat now and forget everything else.

It costs real money to blanket the state with wall-to-wall commercials, a fact borne out by the quarterly filings of the candidates running for governor.

Republican Bruce Rauner spent $20.3 million in the months from July through September, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. During the same period, he took in $20.5 million in contributions, including a $1.5 million check he wrote to himself last week.

However Rauner said the rest of his take was fueled by 11,000 individual donors.

“Our campaign is gaining supporters every day and we’ve picked up even more momentum since Pat Quinn admitted that he wants another massive tax hike in exactly three weeks,” Rauner said.

Rauner still had nearly $3.7 million left in his kitty, giving him plenty of ammo to continue waging his televised battle with Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn had yet to post his totals for the quarter, but at the end of the previous quarter, he was flush with nearly three times as much ready cash as Rauner.

Actually, it’s no big deal for a guy that makes about $60 million a year.  What’s more American these days than buying out a Democracy?gallery_298_17_57445

Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner made $60.15 million last year — up from $53 million the year before, according to cover sheets of his tax returns his campaign released Friday.

All told, Rauner and wife Diana reported paying $17.25 million in federal and state taxes for 2013. That’s only slightly more than the $17.1 million of his own fortune that Rauner has put into his campaign against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. That total includes a $1.5 million contribution the Republican challenger reported making to his campaign fund Friday.

In keeping with past practices, Rauner’s campaign released only copies of the 1040 federal and state forms but did not provide copies of other forms, attachments and schedules that would provide more information about the sources of Rauner’s income, business losses and tax deductions. Rauner released his tax information late Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend, a time when the public tends to be less focused on the news.

State law does not require candidates to release their income tax filings, but it has become commonplace for office seekers to do so. Quinn and many other candidates also provide copies of their entire filings, including attachments and schedules.

Rauner had filed for an extension for the April 15 filing of his federal and state income taxes. That made them due next week, less than a month before the Nov. 4 election.

Prior to launching his campaign in March 2013, Rauner left his position as a name partner at private equity firm GTCR. The candidate’s economic disclosure with the state showed he kept a partnership interest in a lengthy list of the firm’s investment funds.

Rauner, Quinn meet for first televised debate
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports on the first major debate of the Illinois gubernatorial election.
The federal tax information Rauner released Friday showed the bulk of his income — more than $41 million — took the form of capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than regular income. Another $14 million came from interest and dividends.

Rauner’s tax return cover sheet showed more than $10.1 million in federal deductions, but the materials the campaign released did not specify what they were. Instead, the campaign issued a statement saying the Rauners and a separate family foundation made charitable contributions of more than $5 million.

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I’m not sure Louisiana is going to stand up to any more of Jindal’s presidential aspiration set loose on us frankly. Meanwhile,  Rick Perry has taken off to Europe while his states completely dysfunctional Public Health System appears to be shipping Ebola around the country. I sincerely wouldn’t recommend electing any of these clowns to your statehouse.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Surreal and Surrealer

Good Morning!

tumblr_m33kteHAjW1qex560o1_r1_500There are some things you just can’t make up.  This would include Republican Senator John McCain telling CNN’s Candy Crowley that Obama needs to appoint an “Ebola Czar”.  Wasn’t one of the main right wing talking points a few years ago that Obama was czar happy?  Also, why wasn’t McCain asked about the stalled appointment of our US Surgeon General?

Remember a couple years ago how President Barack Obama had eighty million czars and it was bad because czars = Russia? Well czars are good now.

“From spending time here in Arizona, my constituents are not comforted,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told State of the Union host Candy Crowley Sunday morning. “There has to be more reassurance given to them. I would say that we don’t know exactly who’s in charge. There has to be some kind of czar.”

Hard to see what good a czar would do, given that McCain added that he “was impressed” with Crowley’s panel of experts, in the sense that he nonetheless didn’t believe them.

Yes, that’s the deal.  Thanks to the Republicans we have no Surgeon General.

Currently the U.S. does not have a permanent surgeon general. President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy to fill the spot last November after the previous surgeon general vacated the position.

Murthy’s nomination has been tied up in the Senate since March amid concerns from conservative gun rights group, the National Rifle Association, that the Harvard and Yale educated doctor would seek to implement restrictions on the Second Amendment if he were confirmed for the position.

British-born Murthy is a supporter of President Obama’s efforts to reduce gun violence by restricting the sale of certain firearms.

In October of 2012 he sent the following tweet out from his twitter account: ‘Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue.’

The NRA and it’s powerful lobbying arm pounced on the statement after Murthy, who also co-chaired a group called Doctors for Obama, was nominated and warned Senators that they would punish them if they voted to confirm the 36-year-old doctor as the spokesman for the government’s public health initiatives.

At a nomination hearing before a Senate subcommittee in February, Murthy testified that his views on gun control would not affect his ability to serve as surgeon general

‘My concerns with regard to issues like gun violence have to do with my experience as a physician, he further explained and ‘seeing patients in emergency rooms.’

But that didn’t quell the NRA’s concerns that he may allow his political beliefs to seep into his medical work.

In mid-March a spokesman for the organization told the New York Times that ‘given Dr. Murthy’s blatant activism on behalf of gun control, that’s not a gamble we’re willing to take.’

As a result, Murthy’s nomination has still not come for a vote before the Democratically-controlled Senate – more than six months later – as vulnerable Democrats in conservative-leaning states have tried to distance themselves from anti-gun efforts ahead of November’s federal elections.

Not only that, but the Republican Sequester has cut funds to the very agencies tasked with preventing the spread of diseases.bearded lady

Two weeks ago in the Senate, committees on Appropriations and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions convened a hearing to “discuss” what kind of resources are necessary to address, and stop the virus from spreading. According to the director of the CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Dr. Beth Bell, the epidemic could have been stopped if more had been done sooner to build global health security.

Bell asserted that if the Republican sequester had not cut aid budgets and global health programs indiscriminately by $411 million, and USAID by $289 million, the epidemic could been reduced to a manageable situation if not stopped altogether. Bell said, “If even modest investments had been made to build a public health infrastructure in West Africa previously, the current Ebola epidemic could have been detected earlier, and it could have been identified and contained. This Ebola epidemic shows that any vulnerability could have widespread impact if not stopped at the source.” Now it has the possibility of impacting Americans.

Despite warnings from economic experts and myriad agencies across the government, Republicans parlayed their fear-mongering about deficits, debt, and “foolish, wasteful, out-of-control, and unnecessary spending” into a devastating sequester that put a major dent in the CDC’s budget that is bearing exactly the fruit experts warned Republicans about. NIH representative Anthony Fauci reiterated Bell’s conclusion and told the committees, “honestly it’s (the sequester) been a significant impact on us. It has both in an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats. And in my institute particularly, that’s responsible for responding on the dime to an emerging infectious disease threat, this is particularly damaging.”

The Republicans’ precious sequester required the NIH to cut its budget by $1.55 billion in 2013 across the board that had the desired result of affecting every area of medical research within the agency. Bell agreed with Fauci that her department is leading the U.S. intervention in West Africa, but complained the agency is being hamstrung by a $13 million sequester cut that a minuscule increase in 2014 and 2015 is not going to make up in time to effectively stop the virus’s inevitable spread.

b15f13a4fd7ec67cd8ad262ce330a138Stopping the spread of the disease means stopping the disease in West Africa.  However, Republicans won’t approve money to do this because the money would go to Africa.  Yup, the usual suspects are also holding up Ebola aid.

A Republican senator is urging his colleagues to hold up the $1 billion the White House has requested to combat the Ebola virus in part because the plan “focuses on Africa.”

“I ask you to oppose fully allowing the additional $1 billion in reprogramming requests until previously requested additional information is available for members of Congress to be fully briefed,” Louisiana Senator David Vitter wrote in a letter to members of the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services committees. The $1 billion that the administration has requested would be redirected from funds from the war operations budget to pay for the construction of medical facilities, supply distribution, medical training and for military and civilian personnel. Most of the money has been held up for nearly a month, as Republicans on key committees demand more details from the administration.

While Vitter criticized Obama for not fully presenting a plan, he apparently knows enough about it to be concerned that it “focuses on Africa, and largely ignores our own borders.” Vitter wants the United States to bar noncitizens traveling from countries affected by Ebola from entering the country.

While Congress delays, world leaders are pleading for assistance. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Thursday that twenty times more aid was needed in West Africa to fight the epidemic. Speaking at the same World Bank conference, the director of the Centers for Disease Control called for swift action. “Speed is the most important variable here,” Thomas Frieden said. “This is controllable, and this was preventable. It’s preventable by investing in core public health services.”

Senator Chris Murphy, in an interview on MSNBC on Thursday morning, called the delay in Congress “unconscionable.” He said the committees should release the full funds this week. Murphy acknowledged that some of the questions committee members have about the administration’s plan are “legitimate,” but noted that his colleagues only selectively care about missing details.

“In contrast to the lack of questions we asked when we made a decision to get involved in a war in the Middle East that’s going to cost us $10 billion a year, we seem to have a different level of inspection when it comes to questions being asked about money that’s going to protect the United States from a very real and very present threat of Ebola,” Murphy said.

Many lawmakers (and the media) are in a frenzy about the prospect of Ebola spreading through the United States, but there’s a conspicuous lack of urgency when it comes to doing more to treat the epidemic where it’s already having a devastating effect. Members of Congress have been far quicker to criticize the president for inaction than their colleagues. On Thursday, twenty-six lawmakers wrote to Obama asking him to “take aggressive action to combat and prevent the spread of this disease in the United States,” specifically by banning travel to the US by citizens of affected countries. Meanwhile, the congressional committees that have to approve the redirected funds have blocked most of it until they get a more detailed plan from the administration.

Here’s a few quick things to read that might interest you.  If you watched American Horror Story: Coven last year, you know about the mythical axman.  Here’s some information about the real axman murders in New Orleans and the infamous mass murderer.163961958dd25f0c0ab5504c98c525aa

It was the screaming that awakened Esther Pepitone.

The woman and her husband, Michel “Mike” Pepitone, had turned in for the night at their Mid-City home. They operated a corner store at the front of their building at South Scott and Ulloa streets, and with a circus on Tulane Avenue just a block away that weekend, their day had been busy.

She woke up shortly before 1 a.m. on October 27, 1919, when she heard her husband’s cry, “Oh my God!”

Esther Pepitone found her husband unconscious. Their mattress was saturated with blood. A picture of the Virgin Mary that hung above the bed was specked with crimson, and the walls were splattered from the floor nearly to the ceiling.

Mike Pepitone’s head had been bashed 18 times with at least one weapon. But it was hard to tell just what had happened because his skull was so badly damaged. “It was battered into an almost unrecognizable mass,” reported The Times-Picayune.

Esther Pepitone told police she had caught a glimpse of two shadowy figures in the darkened bedroom, but she could not identify the men. The two wordlessly slipped toward the back of the house, she said, through the room where the Pepitones’ six children were sleeping, and exited through the back door, heading down South Scott Street toward Canal.

Mike Pepitone was in agony. “Every time he turned his head, blood came from his head and face,” Esther Pepitone was quoted as saying by the New Orleans States. “It simply poured over the bed.”

She threw open a window and began screaming, too, and their 11-year-old daughter ran outside to get help.

The first one on the scene was Ben Corcoran (or Cochran, depending on the source), a sheriff’s deputy who lived on the block and who was on his way home from work. He found Mike Pepitone mortally wounded and a weapon, described alternately as a large bolt with a heavy nut attached to it and as a stake used to secure a tent at the circus, sitting on the chair next to him. Five of the Pepitone children were still in bed, fast asleep. The door to the back yard and the gate that opened onto South Scott Street remained ajar.

Mike Pepitone, 36, was rushed to Charity Hospital. Within two hours he was pronounced dead.

His savage murder was never solved. It was the last in a string of attacks commonly attributed to a now-mythical serial killer known as the Axman.

1c250bcd95f95a23306c3e34f200b065I’ve started watching this year’s American Horror Story: Freak Show which is visually interesting but hasn’t really grabbed me yet.  It’s all about those freak shows of old times.  If you’re watching it, let me know what you think.  The sociopathic killer in this season’s horror story is scary clown Twisty.  It appears that Bakersfield, California is also experiencing an invasion of scary clowns.

Reports of creepy clowns carrying knives and other weapons have been scaring people in the California city of Bakersfield for the past week, police said on Sunday.

In the latest incident, a person telephoned the Bakersfield Police Department on Saturday night, reporting a clown armed with a firearm, said watch commander Lieutenant Jason Matson.

“We’ve been having sightings all over the city,” Matson said. “They range from anywhere from a guy carrying a gun to a guy carrying a knife running up to houses.”
The Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported earlier in the week that at least some of the reports were hoaxes. Matson said he did not know whether the incidents were pranks.

At least one of the reports was not a hoax – police arrested a teen on Friday who had dressed up as a clown and was chasing children on the west side of town, Matson said. The juvenile, whose name was not released, said he was doing it to perpetrate a hoax he had seen online.

He was arrested on suspicion of annoying a minor and booked into the Kern County Juvenile Hall, Bakersfield police said in a news release.

A child who had been chased “was clearly scared,” the release said.

Here in Louisiana, it’s right wing Christians that are scaring the local children.tumblr_n340f1jgWI1swr6ugo3_400

This is is an open letter to the Christian terrorists living in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Since I don’t know you, and there’s no threat of you leaving notes in MY mailbox — “We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.” — I’m not going to be as polite as the atheist you’ve decided to persecute with “God’s love.” Go to hell — whatever form that concept takes inside your sick brain, just pull up a chair and stay while. There’s not one chance in a million you actually understand the “love and message of the Lord” you claim to follow.

Those voices inside your head? That’s not God, Allah, Yahweh or any other monotheist notion of an eternal being. He (or She) who tells you “I am who I am,” is most likely just an auditory hallucination — a symptom of a schizophrenic disorder, manic depression or psychosis. Look, if talking to your inner voice gives you peace of mind — God bless. Did those voices tell you to harass a neighbor and threaten their children? A qualified psychiatrist will most likely prescribe some pretty heavy-duty tranquilizers; the bad news is, medication probably won’t rid your diseased mind of the voices.

 So, who are the real freaks?  That’s the question asked in the FX show.  

Jon Jeffels, whose family received the anonymous notes, is handling this as well as he possible can. He reported the messages to the police and moved the other members of his family to an undisclosed location for the time being. Jeffels also wants to reiterate that this appears to be the work of one or two people, certainly not representative of the religious population at large.

Frankly, if I wanted to put up pictures of the real freak show it would mostly contain Republican Presidential Candidates of the last few elections and their buddies.

Anyway, wouldn’t want you to get too scared!  Just scared enough to vote on Novemeber 4th!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Zombie Memes

zombie-apocalypseGood Morning!

The Ebola Virus and the epidemic in Africa is real.  The right wing hysteria about the virus is rivaling the bad plots of the Zombie movies I’m watching during SyFy’s Countdown to Halloween.  I thought I’d spend some time separating the facts from the conspiracy theories today.  So let me start with one of the most outrageous Zombie Memes from one of the most vile women on the planet. Dementia or further evidence of the advanced stages of evil?  It’s your choice.

In an interview with WorldNetDaily published today, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly weighed in on the unfounded theory gaining traction in the right-wing media that Central American young people are to blame for an outbreak of a childhood respiratory illness in the U.S.

“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly told WND, adding that “of all the things [Obama has] done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”

She went on to imply that President Obama is intentionally allowing people infected with Ebola into the United States because he wants America to be “just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”

Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly – author of “Who Killed the American Family?” – said she agrees Obama is responsible for allowing diseases to enter the country.

“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly said. “And it’s Obama’s job to keep them out.

“Out of all the things he’s done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”

Schlafly said the government should screen immigrants for disease before they enter the country, as was done at Ellis Island a hundred years ago.

“That was the purpose of Ellis Island – to have a waiting place where it was decided whether people were healthy enough or responsible enough to come into our country,” she said. “The idea that anybody can just walk in and carry this disease with them is just an outrage, and it is Obama’s fault because he’s responsible for doing it.”

When asked why the current administration hasn’t done more to prevent diseased illegal aliens or Ebola carriers from Africa from entering the country, Schlafly said Obama wants to make the U.S. more like the rest of the world.

“Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional,” Schlafly said. “He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”

Yup, it’s despicable She. Still foaming at the mouth after all these years too.

Okay, so as not to overwhelm you with teh crazy all at once.  Let’s go to some science and medicine.zombies1

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a top-level forum in Washington, D.C., that the Ebola outbreak is unlike anything he’s seen since the AIDS epidemic.

“I would say that in the 30 years I’ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS,” Frieden said before the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, according to AFP.

Frieden added: “We have to work now so that it is not the world’s next AIDS.”

Frieden’s comments come as the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died Wednesday despite intense but delayed treatment. The U.S. government also announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease.

The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.

The new screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport and then expand to Washington Dulles and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. An estimated 150 people per day will be checked, using high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin.

The White House said the fever checks would reach more than 9 of 10 travelers to the U.S. from the three heaviest-hit countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

President Barack Obama called the measures “really just belt and suspenders” to support protections already in place. Border Patrol agents now look for people who are obviously ill, as do flight crews, and in those cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is notified.

It’s unlikely a fever check would have spotted Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital Wednesday morning. Duncan wasn’t yet showing symptoms when he arrived in the U.S.

signsofthezombieapocalypse_wpid-signsofthezombieapocalypse_zombies-cementerio1So the disease is ravaging West Africa.  That’s where the problem is and needs to be solved.

There are the facts about the state of the Ebola crisis. In West Africa, more than 8,000 people have contracted the disease and nearly half have died. In the U.S., there’s just one confirmed casethat of Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who passed away in Dallas on Wednesday. Experts say that the caseload in West Africa is likely to get much, much bigger. As many as 1.4 million people could get the disease, with a large fraction of them dying from it. The same experts expect no similar outbreak here, even if a few more cases appear, because we have the personnel and the resources to limit exposure.

But all of the news on Wednesday was about developments here in the U.S.in particular, new screening efforts at five major U.S. airports, Duncan’s death, and reports of possible new cases in the U.S., including one in Dallas. You could tell by the questions that Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, fielded during a late afternoon press conference.  He got more than a dozen of them. Only two were about the situation abroad. (And one of them, it so happens, came from me.)

The preoccupation with what’s happening here, as opposed to what’s happening over there, is perfectly understandable. On Tuesday, a Gallup poll revealed that Americans today are as worried about contracting Ebola as they were about contracting H1N1, the swine flu, during that outbreak two years ago. By that time, millions of people had gotten H1N1 and thousands had already died. But people die from flu all the time, usually because they are very young or very old or already otherwise infirmed. It’s a threat that people have factored into their daily lives, if at all. Ebola is quite literally a foreign menace, one to which almost nobody gave much thought until a few weeks ago. The virus kills about half the people who get it, with little regard for age or health status of the person infected.

That fear goes a long way to explaining why the U.S. is implementing the new screening process at the airports. Customs and Border Patrol agents were already on the lookout for people with visible signs of the disease. Now they will add another layer of scrutiny. They will use questionnaires to screen for people who have been in affected countriesand, then, subject these people to temperature tests and more questioning. People who have fever or show other Ebola symptoms will be evaluated by quarantine officers from the CDC, then referred to local health authorities who will decide how to handle the cases. The primary goal is to identify any passengers infected with Ebola before they leave the airport.

But yes, the right wing is hysterical and afraid and lying as the right wing is prone to do.

Of all the issues that you would think would be non-partisan, Ebola should be at the top of the list. The disease is just a mindless germ that doesn’t check your race, gender, social class, sexual orientation or party identification before it strikes, suggesting both liberals and conservatives ¿Quién Está Creando Zombies Y Para Qué¿ 3have a stake in treating people exposed to the disease with compassion and care. And yet, to flip on Fox News or turn on any conservative media at all, you’d think that ebola was some kind of plague designed by the Democratic party in order to wipe out Republicans.

Blowing the threat of ebola out of proportion and trying to link it to Obama has been a constant theme on the right in recent days. Elisabeth Hasselbeck of Fox News literally demanded that we put the country on lockdown, banning all travel in and out. In a bit of race-baiting, Andrea Tantaros of Fox suggested that people who travel to the country and show symptoms of ebola will “seek treatment from a witch doctor” instead of go to the hospital. Fox host Steve Doocy suggested the CDC is lying about ebola because they’re “part of the administration”. Fox also promoted a conspiracy theorist who is trying to claim the CDC is lying when they caution people not to panic.

Other right wing media joined in. Tammy Bruce blamed ebola on the “Obama legacy”. Laura Ingraham said Obama was prevented from doing more to stop the disease because of his “core ties to the African continent”. Rush Limbaugh even went as far as to accuse Obama of letting the disease spread because he supposes liberals believe “we kind of deserve a little bit of this”.

Okay, so here’s a zombie mistake and a big one.   Justice Kennedy’s Typo Accidentally Stops Same-Sex Marriage in Nevada.

Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stunned America when he ordered a halt on Nevada’s same-sex marriages, less than a day after the Court voted to overturn a ban on gay marriages in that state. Turns out that it was a total accident. Yes, a big ol’ “oops, my bad” incident.

According to SCOTUSBlog, what happened was the following: The Ninth Circuit recently heard challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, who, for the purposes of convenience, had combined both of their challenges into a single case. In two different rulings, the federal appellate court struck down both of these states’ bans, allowing same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada, and issued a mandate on the ruling to immediately enforce the new law. In other words, the moment that the Ninth Circuit struck down the ban, gay and lesbian couples could get married immediately.

This did not make Idaho happy, so they filed a request to Justice Kennedy asking him to put a stop on same-sex marriage in Idaho, so that state officials could review their case before the Ninth Circuit. Kennedy allowed it, but in a total brain fart moment, issued an order that put a stop on weddings in both Idaho and Nevada, even though nobody in Nevada had asked for a review, either.

Thankfully, same-sex marriages can still occur in Las Vegas for the time being, but unfortunately, nobody knows what the eff is happening anymore. As a result, the Ninth Circuit has recalled its order implementing same-sex marriage in Idaho and are asking for briefs as to whether they need to do the same in Nevada.

Good job, Kennedy. Look how much confusion your typo has caused.

Oh, another Zombie Meme replacing Benghazi these days.  It’s not only Ebola that’s Obama’s fault but also ISIL.  It’s all about killing white people!!!  Here’s some great links and proof from Politicus.toht-facepalm-jeff-robertson

We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of Ebola exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that, Oh my God! Oh my God! It’s going to kill us all! Cue to Rand Paul diving under his bed.

We have also been closely following the rise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and have tried to show you the contrast between the Republican and the Democratic reactions.

We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of ISIL exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that Oh my God! Oh my God! They’re going to kill us all! Cue to Lindsey Graham diving under his bed.

It is surely significant that yesterday Time Magazine should profile the Republican response to the ISIL “scandal”: GOP Ad Claims ISIS Plot to Attack U.S. Via ‘Arizona’s Backyard.’

As Time’s Zeke Miller and Alex Rogers describe the ad, which was posted to YouTube yesterday,

The National Republican Congressional Committee ad opens with grainy footage of black flags and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) holding rifles on military vehicles. “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” an ominous voiceover states. “Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard.” The spot goes on to recount how Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), locked in a close re-election fight with Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, has voted against border security legislation, suggesting that she “leaves Arizona vulnerable.”

Chris Wallace of Fox News has already planted the suggestion in viewers’ facile minds that Ebola could come across our Southern Border and that it could be used as a weapon. It doesn’t matter after those words are spoken than an expert debunks them. The damage has been done.

The brain damage was done to any one that actually believes these things years ago.

So what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Why Voting Matters more than Ever

imageGood Morning!

I spent some time this weekend canvassing the Esplanade Ridge neighborhood of the 7th Ward.  I hadn’t canvassed neighborhoods since I ran for office 20 years ago.  I’m about this close to going back to being a clinic escort volunteer also.  I was scared to death of the nascent right wing radical christian movement back then, but now I’m just mad as hell and not going to hide from them any more.

I was sitting next to a seventy-three year old black woman in my first organizational meeting for Mary Landrieu’s GOTV effort here in New Orleans a few weeks ago.  We were mostly surrounded by very young and optimistic activists.  Demographics that have a lot to lose depending on the outcome of these midterm elections were well represented.

We were asked to introduce ourselves by telling others why we were there.  My answer was pretty easy.  I’m tired of the backlash on rights around the country. I explained that my grandmother was a middle aged mother before she could even vote and that every young woman owed it to their grandmothers to get out there and defend their rights. I said restrictions on voting and rights were pulled down by people that wanted to make life better for us and now we have to turn around and do the same for those that come after us.  That woman sitting next to me said that every time a black person does not vote it’s a slap in the face of Dr. King.

Think about that.

It may seem futile.  It may drive you nuts to read about all the insanity going on.  But, we have to stop this wherever we are right now because the kids coming after us deserve better.  Many of us are the children of people who did a lot of fighting and activism to give us the rights that we have today.  We owe it to them to pass a better situation forward like they did for us.

My Great Uncle Jack died from the lingering effects of Mustard Gas in the War to End all Wars.  We now seem to have perpetual war and even though we have no money to feed our nation’s starving children, there seems to be more than enough money for drones, air strikes, and military advisers.

Quite a few of us spent years trying to get police departments to put violent crimes and rapes against women and children in the major crimes divisions instead of the property crimes area that housed them 40 years ago.  We fought for laws that gave credence to the victim’s testimony so that she didn’t require at least two witnesses to prove sexual assault and so that any personal information about her other than what was going on at the time of the crime couldn’t enter into the courtroom.

Yet, look at the problems we still face.  Many fought for my girls and me so we could control our bodies and not rely on back alley abortions or rich relatives to get us to where we could get birth control or abortions. We are nearly there again. Look at things now.  Why, they’re even trying to tell us that slavery ended voluntarily and that we shouldn’t make a point of teaching our kids about the internment of Japanese Americans during WW2 or atrocities that were committed along The Trail of Tears or at Wounded Knee. Right wing nuts say that history should be glossed over and forgotten in case any kids find out that our past wasn’t all parades and prayers in the classroom to the proper imaginary friend.

f5ac82c403345cc091c80fad60a44326Elections matter now more than ever.

Here, in Louisiana, we are losing so many things to the damage done by oil companies and the attempt to make the river more compliant to commerce.  We have a very ambitious lawsuit pending against these interests and the governor and government of Louisiana is doing everything it can to hurt YFT123suffragettethe people and environment of Louisiana.  Whoever voted these jerks into office is killing themselves, their livelihoods, and the living things down here up to and including people. The companies that have damaged our coasts and wetlands should pay for their destruction and its consequences.

Beneath the surface, the oil and gas industry has carved more than 50,000 wells since the 1920s, creating pockets of air in the marsh that accelerate the land’s subsidence. The industry has also incised 10,000 linear miles of pipelines, which connect the wells to processing facilities; and canals, which allow ships to enter the marsh from the sea. Over time, as seawater eats away at the roots of the adjacent marsh, the canals expand. By its own estimate, the oil and gas industry concedes that it has caused 36 percent of all wetlands loss in southeastern Louisiana. (The Interior Department has placed the industry’s liability as low as 15 percent and as high as 59 percent.) A better analogy than disappearing football fields has been proposed by the historian John M. Barry, who has lived in the French Quarter on and off since 1972. Barry likens the marsh to a block of ice. The reduction of sediment in the Mississippi, the construction of levees and the oil and gas wells “created a situation akin to taking the block of ice out of the freezer, so it begins to melt.” Dredging canals and pipelines “is akin to stabbing that block of ice with an ice pick.”

The oil and gas industry has extracted about $470 billion in natural resources from the state in the last two decades, with the tacit blessing of the federal and state governments and without significant opposition from environmental groups. Oil and gas is, after all, Louisiana’s leading industry, responsible for around a billion dollars in annual tax revenue. Last year, industry executives had reason to be surprised, then, when they were asked to pay damages. The request came in the form of the most ambitious, wide-ranging environmental lawsuit in the history of the United States. And it was served by the most unlikely of antagonists, a former college-football coach, competitive weight lifter and author of dense, intellectually robust 500-page books of American history: John M. Barry.

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005, John Barry was a year and a half into writing his sixth book, “Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul,” about the puritan theologian’s efforts to define the limits of political power. Barry is not a fast writer; his books take him, on average, eight years to complete. “I tend,” Barry says, “to obsess.” Earlier in his career, he spent nearly a decade as a political journalist, writing about Congress, an experience he drew upon for his first book, “The Ambition and the Power.” But after that book’s publication, he quit journalism and cocooned himself in research, reading and writing. He took on vast, complex episodes in American history that in his rendering become Jacobean dramas about tectonic struggles for power. “The Ambition and the Power” would make an appropriate subtitle for any of his books — particularly “Rising Tide,” his history of the 1927 Mississippi River flood, the most destructive in American history.

Barry’s research for “Rising Tide” had made him an amateur expert on flood prevention, and in the days after Hurricane Katrina, he received requests from editors and television-news producers for interviews. He accepted nearly every one of them and within days of the storm had become one of the city’s most visible ambassadors in the national press. “I felt I had an obligation,” Barry told me, “to convince people that the city was worth rebuilding.”

Like many others, Barry was frustrated that he couldn’t figure out why New Orleans had flooded so catastrophically. When he studied the numbers — the wind shear on Lake Pontchartrain, the storm surge, the inches of rainfall — they didn’t add up. After making calls to some of his old sources, he concluded that the levees hadn’t been overtopped, as officials from the Army Corps of Engineers assumed, but had collapsed because of design flaws. (He was among the first to draw attention to this fact in an Op-Ed article published in The New York Times that October.) Barry concluded that just as in 1927, people died because of cynical decisions made by shortsighted politicians drawing on bad science. For Barry, Hurricane Katrina was not the story of a natural disaster; it was a story of politics, science and power.

a2f886cad0b9662f2e5a35761211db3bThe interest of we the people is not served by protecting the very few rich that control so much wealth and income in our country.  They are not job creators.  They are wealth extractors.  Just yesterday, JJ reminded us how important the Senate Race is in her state.  The Republican Candidate may talk about Job Creation on the campaign trail but to the folks that matter he brags about Job Outsourcing.

Yes, it’s late in the cycle, and of course all sorts of “fundamentals” are baked into the cake, and without question, many voters probably won’t hear about this or understand what it’s about. But still, having said all that, this report from Politico’s Bresnahan and Raju is not good news for GA GOP Senate candidate David Purdue, who’s already been hammered in both the primaries and the general election for being a Mitt-Romney-like specialist in corporate downsizing:

David Perdue has run aggressively as a “job creator,” touting his record as a top executive with Fortune 500 companies as the chief selling point in his Georgia Senate campaign.
Yet during a controversial chapter in his record — a nine-month stint in 2002-03 as CEO of failed North Carolina textile manufacturer Pillowtex Corp. — Perdue acknowledged that he was hired, at least in part, to outsource manufacturing jobs from the company. Perdue specialized throughout his career in finding low-cost manufacturing facilities and labor, usually in Asia.
During a July 2005 deposition, a transcript of which was provided to POLITICO, Perdue spoke at length about his role in Pillowtex’s collapse, which led to the loss of more than 7,600 jobs. Perdue was asked about his “experience with outsourcing,” and his response was blunt.
Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that,” Perdue said, according to the 186-page transcript of his sworn testimony.
The Georgia Republican then listed his career experience, much of which involved outsourcing.

A good part of the rest of the story involves Perdue and his campaign spot bobbing and weaving and explaining that “sourcing” doesn’t always mean “outsourcing” and that “outsourcing” isn’t always overseas, and this is just cherry-picking, and let’s blame the government for businesses shedding workers, bark bark woof woof. But the reality is that when you are defending your “outsourcing” record, you have lost at least half the argument, especially in a state currently leading the nation in unemployment.

A Hash Bash party at U-M Diag leads to arrests in Sept. 1973.

So, we’re not supposed to complain or dissent.  We’re supposed to just shut up and appreciate the appalling violations of our rights and destruction of our democracy.  Yesterday, Reince Preibus actually said that the  GOP Shuts Down Abortion Clinics because women ‘deserve compassion, respect’ and evidently forced birth no matter what the pregnant woman believes about the nature of life or the circumstances of the pregnancy.

NBC host Chuck Todd on Sunday pressed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus about why his party opposed most regulations on business, except when it came to abortion clinics.

“One of the things is you don’t like a lot of regulations on business,” Todd noted during an interview on Meet the Press. “Except if the business is an abortion clinic.”

The NBC host pointed out that 80 percent of the clinics in Texas could be forced to close because of a strict Republican-backed anti-abortion law.

“Too much regulation, is that fair?” Todd wondered. “Why regulate on the abortion issue now [instead of waiting until] you win a fight in the Supreme Court and ban abortion altogether? Why restrict a business now in Texas?”

“The fact of the matter is we believe that any woman that’s faced with unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling,” Priebus replied.

“But 80 percent of those clinics are gone,” Todd pressed. “So they have to drive for 2 or 300 miles. Is that compassion?”

Priebus, however, shot back that Republicans were most concerned with “whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion.”

“I mean, that’s the one issue that separates this conversation that we’re having,” he insisted, adding that the 2014 election would be decided on other issues.

“Obamacare, jobs, the economy, Keystone pipeline,” Priebus opined. “So you can try to steer — talk about abortion again, but the fact is of the matter is, if you’re in Skagway, Alaska, you’re thinking about the fact of why my life isn’t better off today than it was when this senator was elected six years ago.”

But the women in Skagway may also be concerned with the scarcity of reproductive services in their area. The nearest Planned Parenthood clinic is about 100 miles away in Juneau, but the trip takes over six hours because the route includes a five-hour ferry ride.

morty-jeanne-manford-1972-d1af71c54b419cd5803f30251d62031f2a4db4b3-s6-c30There are three SCOTUS justices over the age of 75 and one of them is Ruth Bader Ginsburg whose dissent from the tyranny of the majority has been an essential release to those of us that have had our rights destroyed.

Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have? If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court. [The Senate Republicans] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court. So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided.

She knows how good she is and she is not afraid to judge others. (When Weisberg asks why the Court, while moving forward on gay rights, has swung in such a conservative direction on women’s rights, Ginsburg says, “To be frank, it’s one person who made the difference: Justice [Anthony] Kennedy.”) Given her profession, that’s as much as saying that she’s not afraid. And she is quite right: if she had resigned when the party-line worriers would have liked her to, one wouldn’t have her magnificent dissent in the Hobby Lobby case, or her matchless voice. That 1973 case was about whether the husbands of soldiers had to prove that they were economically dependent before getting benefits, while wives got them automatically. The Court’s jurisprudence on gender is something that Ginsburg has been building since then. And not only on gender: she, not John Roberts, deserves the credit for saving the Affordable Care Act. The Court is, no doubt, an extremely partisan institution. But that doesn’t mean that its members are just pegs to be traded. The Court is also an institution where seniority matters. There is no Ginsburg whom Ginsburg is holding back.

Do Democrats want to make sure that a President of their party is in office when Ginsburg leaves the Court? Then win the next election; battle it out, rather than fretting and sighing about how an older woman doesn’t know when it’s time to go. (Ginsburg is urged to be selfless a lot more loudly than is Stephen Breyer, who, at seventy-six, is only five years younger, and less of a presence.) If all this talk reflects sublimated doubt about the candidate that the Democrats look likely to field in 2016, then be open about that, and deal with it. Or make sure that the same constraints that—as Ginsburg quite correctly points out— the Republicans, even as a minority party in the Senate, place on Obama, are put on any Republican in the White House. As Dahlia Lithwick put it in a thorough dismantling of the Ginsburg-should-go nonsense, “It’s perverse in the extreme to seek to bench Ginsburg the fighter, simply because Senate Democrats are unwilling or unable to fight for the next Ginsburg.” (Lithwick adds, “I have seen not a lick of evidence that Ginsburg is failing…. If anything, Ginsburg has been stronger in recent years than ever.”)
But, the counter-argument goes, Obama could appoint a fifty-year-old Democrat—maybe not, to borrow Ginsburg’s phrase, “anyone I would like to see in the court,” but also not a Republican, and that would be enough. (That thinking helps explain why the President tried to name Michael Boggs to the federal bench, despite his anti-choice, anti-same-sex-marriage votes in the Georgia legislature; earlier this week, Democrats effectively killed his nomination.) Justices can be unpredictable: John Paul Stevens, admired by liberals, was appointed by Gerald Ford (and was on the Court until he was ninety). But this is clearly not a good moment to get anyone with ambitious positions—anyone interesting—through the Senate. Why seek it out? An exchange that requires the certain sacrifice of Ginsburg for the uncertainty of whomever Obama could get through is not even sensible in a coldly pragmatic way.

There is another reason why Ginsburg should be on the Court for this particular stretch of its history. In the Elle interview, Ginsburg speaks about the period after Sandra Day O’Connor, the only other woman on the Court at the time, retired (to take care of her dying husband). “When Sandra left, I was all alone,” she says.

I’m rather small, so when I go with all these men in this tiny room. Now Kagan is on my left, and Sotomayor is on my right. So we look like we’re really part of the court and we’re here to stay. Also, both of them are very active in oral arguments. They’re not shrinking violets. It’s very good for the schoolchildren who parade in and out of the court to see.

MAKERS_RightsProtest1969_tx800We have no guarantees these days other than enough votes gets these folks out of office.  We also know that there are entire channels that are supposed to be dedicated to news but are dedicated to propaganda and to getting angry, ignorant people  out to the polls.  They do so by using fear and lies.

Miles O’Brien, the science correspondent for PBS Newshour, lamented on Sunday that he was embarrassed at some of the coverage of Ebola on Fox News that had a “racial component,” and seemed intended to scare viewers.

On the Sunday edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter looked back at the last week’s coverage of Ebola on Fox News. In one case, Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck seemed almost disappointed when an expert downplayed the threat of the disease in the United States.

“We’ve heard the words ‘Ebola in America,’ a lot the past few days,” Stelter noted. “It’s technically true. There is a case of Ebola here in America. But to say Ebola is here, doesn’t that sort of inflame people’s fears?”
“It borders on irresponsibility when people get on television and start talking that way when they should know better,” O’Brien explained. “They should do their homework and they should report in a responsible manner.”

“Unfortunately, it’s a very competitive business, the business we’re in, and there is a perception that by hyping up this threat, you draw people’s attention,” he added. “That’s a shame to even say that and I get embarrassed for our brethren in journalism.”

Stelter also pointed to Fox News host Andrea Tantaros, who had warned viewers that West Africans might come to the U.S. infected with Ebola, and then go to a “witch doctor” instead of the hospital.

“We could digress into what motivated that and perhaps the racial component of all this, the arrogance, the first world versus third world statements and implications of just that,” O’Brien remarked. “It’s offensive on several levels and it reflects, frankly, a level of ignorance which we should not allow in our media and in our discourse.”

The success of these lies plays out in politics.  This vile human being votes and is active in politics.BwI6YDqIMAA9ksR

The  former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party is coming under fire for the novel solutions to the Ebola epidemic he is posting on Twitter.

The vehemently pro-life Todd Kincannon began by arguing that anyone who contracts Ebola should be summarily executed:

Today is the last day to register to vote for many states including Louisiana.  Please make sure you are registered and that you vote.  Encourage every one you know to vote.  It’s important.

People DIED so you could vote.   Don’t ever forget that.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Reads: History Future, History Past

Good Morning!

Emily DickinsonThe election of Wendy Davis to the Texas governor’s office has taken on new urgency as thirteen Texas abortion clinics– in rural and poor areas–have shut down due to a court ruling that’s likely to lead straight to the grim group of radical catholics on the Robert’s Court.  How can Roe or Casey stand given 80% of this huge state’s clinics just shut down in an obvious attempt to block the exercise of a woman’s constitutional right to privacy and abortion?

Thirteen abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close overnight as a result of a Thursday ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Texas, the second largest and the second most populous state in the country, will now have only eight abortion clinics to serve its more than five million women of reproductive age.

The decision upheld Texas’ House Bill 2’s requirement that abortion clinics meet ambulatory surgical center standards. These centers are hospital-like centers abortion providers say are unnecessary for a relatively simple procedure that often takes five to ten minutes.

This ruling by a three-judge panel overturns U.S. District Court’s Judge Lee Yeakel’s August decision that found HB2’s surgical center rule unconstitutional. He said that the rule placed an undue burden on women trying to access abortion services and that the reduction of clinics in such a large state functioned “just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion.”

This is the second time the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a notoriouslyconservative federal appellate court, has overturned Yeakel’s rulings. Several months ago, they overturned his decision that HB2’sadmitting-privileges rule was also unconstitutional.

HB2 has already closed half of Texas’ abortion clinics. The state went from 41 in June 2013 to 20 in June 2014. Today, the state has eight.

I’m not holding much hope for anything coming out of SCOTUS.  Catch Fat Tony’s latest.

The separation of church and state doesn’t mean “the government cannot favor religion over non-religion,” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued during a speech at Colorado Christian University on Wednesday, according to The Washington Times.

Defending his strict adherence to the plain text of the Constitution, Scalia knocked secular qualms over the role of religion in the public sphere as “utterly absurd,” arguing that the Constitution is only obligated to protect freedom of religion — not freedom from it.

“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion,” the Reagan-appointed jurist told the crowd of about 400 people.

“We do Him [God] honor in our pledge of allegiance, in all our public ceremonies,” the conservative Catholic justice continued. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It is in the best of American traditions, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I think we have to fight that tendency of the secularists to impose it on all of us through the Constitution.”

Earlier this year, Scalia joined the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway, which held that the New York town could continue opening legislative sessions with sectarian prayers.

Scalia has since used the case to press for the approval of public prayers in schools, legislatures and courtrooms.

In June, Scalia criticized the Supreme Court for declining to review Elmbrook School District v. John Doe, a case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that a public school district’s decision to conduct graduation ceremonies in a church violated the Establishment Clause.

In a dissent joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, Scalia argued that “at a minimum,” the Supreme Court should remand the case for reconsideration, noting that “the First Amendment explicitly favors religion.”

Policy decisions like these are driving our country to third world status.  Here’s an update on rewriting US History from the information I wrote extensively about on Thursday  Today in revisionist history:  Slavery in the US ended voluntarily.   So, how do we explain the Civil War exactly then?6aeb695543ff3c5edbeb0c32f2567a5c

A member of Colorado’s state Board of Education argued that the fact that the United States voluntarily ended slavery proved “American execptionalism” and this perspective should be taught to students in a recent Facebook post about the AP U.S. History curriculum.

Businesswoman Pam Mazanec, who was elected to represent Colorado’s 4th Congressional district on the board, jumped into a discussion about the AP History course framework Saturday on a Facebook page that describes itself as “a place where teachers and parents are encouraged to speak freely about their issues, questions, and concerns in the Douglas County School District.” The Colorado Independent flagged her comment on Thursday.

Mazanec’s first posts in the thread raised the possibility that the AP History course framework may have been conceived by people with an “agenda,” prompting an AP English teacher to respond by explaining that experienced AP teachers compile the courses’ exams.

She then wrote that her concern for the course “is an overly negative view of our history and many of our historical figures (if mentioned)” and cited history professors with “impressive credentials” who told her that the AP History curriculum is designed to “downplay our noble history.”

She used slavery to illustrate the point:

As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn’t our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH Framework support or denigrate that position?

Students and teachers outraged over proposed changes to the AP History curriculum have staged protests and walk-outs over the past two weeks in Jefferson County, which lies in the state’s 7th Congressional district. The original proposal called for promoting “patriotism” and downplaying “civil disorder,” although the Jefferson County school board voted Thursday night to adopt a compromise plan.

Elaine Gantz Berman, one of Mazanec’s Democratic colleagues on the state Board of Education, told TPM on Friday that she was “appalled” and “embarrassed” by Mazanec’s remarks.

Meanwhile, Climate Scientists have linked the California Drought to Global Warming.  How long can reasonable people ignore finding after finding?Beautiful maori woman Wetekia Ruruku Elkington

Stanford University professors recently released a study showing how the prolonged drought in many areas of California is linked to climate change. Stanford reported on the findings in a September 30 article on its website:

“Our research finds that extreme atmospheric high pressure in this region – which is strongly linked to unusually low precipitation in California – is much more likely to occur today than prior to the human emission of greenhouse gases that began during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s,” said [Noah] Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

The exceptional drought currently crippling California is by some metrics the worst in state history. Combined with unusually warm temperatures and stagnant air conditions, the lack of precipitation has triggered a dangerous increase in wildfires and incidents of air pollution across the state. A recent report estimated that the water shortage would result in direct and indirect agricultural losses of at least $2.2 billion and lead to the loss of more than 17,000 seasonal and part-time jobs in 2014 alone. Such impacts prompted California Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency and the federal government to designate all 58 California counties as “natural disaster areas.”

In a commentary yesterday, BuzzFlash drew attention to how global warming is currently causing 35,000 walruses to be stranded on an Alaskan beach due to the ongoing melting of the Arctic ice shelf. The California water crisis provides more evidence that the abuse of our atmosphere is beginning to directly impact humans, not just animals. Indeed, The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article headlined, “Drought Has 14 Communities on the Brink of Waterlessness“:

[A total of] 28 small California communities that have since January cycled onto and off of a list of “critical water systems” that state officials say could run dry within 60 days. Amid the drought that is scorching the state and particularly the Central Valley, the State Water Resources Control Board decided this year, for the first time ever, to track areas on the brink of waterlessness.

Currently, that list is composed of 14 generally smaller towns and cities in the US’s largest state. However, the larger cities in California, particularly Los Angeles, receive their water via aqueducts and pipelines from sources far from the urban areas. If the drought worsens, there is a strong likelihood that millions and millions of people will feel the impact of insufficient water.

annybonnypirateAs we close in on the midterm elections, each party is bringing out its big guns.  Hillary Clinton has a full schedule planned.   I’ll be out in the 7th Ward this afternoon in the Treme neighborhood!  I’m not a big gun but I really really want to make sure this midterm election comes out to the benefit of we the people.

Hillary Clinton has mapped out much of her political schedule through Election Day, an itinerary that focuses on helping Senate candidates and includes trips to a half-dozen states, including Kentucky and presidential early states Iowa and New Hampshire, according to details obtained by POLITICO.

The plan, which could see adjustments and additions as races hit critical points in the coming weeks, was the product of close work between Clinton chief of staff Huma Abedin and the Democratic campaign committees.

The final stretch of the midterms will mark Clinton’s most extensive political activity since she left the State Department early last year and requests for her to appear began pouring in from all corners of the country.

A major goal has been to navigate the former secretary of state’s concerns about spending time with her daughter and newborn granddaughter, Charlotte, other commitments she’s made like book signings and some political commitments put in place weeks ago, along with her desire to help candidates facing tough races this fall, people close to her said.

“She is working to help Democrats win in order to help protect core Democratic values. That is the goal,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said.

Her primary concern is the Senate, where she served for eight years and where she wants to help her colleagues retain the majority. To that end, she’s added another fundraiser to her list to help the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, hosted by movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, in California on Oct. 20.

Brian Beutler compares the Republican Strategy to the Seinfeld show. It’s a campaign about nothing.  Well, it is about connecting every democrat to the President.  Republicans are running away from debates, issues, and any group that’s not safely in their corner.  How successful can they be running against a lame duck president with a do nothing congress of their own making?black cowboys

As if to signal his awareness that there’s a gaping void in the GOP’s midterm election strategy, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus did something a little unusual for a party chairman, and gave a speech about policy.

Republicans have made little secret of the fact that they hope to recapture the Senate in November by exploiting President Obama’s unpopularity rather than pitting their substantive agendas against their opponents. When Priebus says, “People know what we’re against. I want to talk about the things we’re for,” what he means is that his candidates’ conspicuous silence on substantive matters has become a little too conspicuous.

To combat that, he has laid out a list of eleven “Principles for American Renewal.” Most of these will be familiar to students of Republican politics. Some contradict each other, or previous iterations of the Republican agenda. The first principle holds that “Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored,” while the third proposes a Constitutional amendment that would force Congress to shred government spending. The eleventh calls for a secure border, whereas the GOP’s 2012 post-mortem called for comprehensive immigration reform.

But the main problem is that Priebus isn’t on the ballot anywhere. The implication is that he’s speaking on behalf of his candidates, but in recent weeks the GOP has worked assiduously to orient those campaigns around trivia. Some of these efforts have been more effective than others, but the playbook has been remarkably consistent. As a counterpose to Priebus’s 11 principles, below are five of the most trivial stories Republicans have seized on in order to define campaigns around issues other than, well, issues.

Here are the kinds of things that will shape our future if we fight for them.  More than 3000 New Voters have been registered in Ferguson Missouri. 

Voter registration jumped 30 percent in Ferguson, Missouri between August 9 — the day unarmed teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by Officer Darren Warren — and September 30. As protests and clashes with police continue, the town’s residents want to see more race representation in their local government in the near future.

Approximately 3,300 citizens in the town of 21,000 registered to vote after Brown’s death, totaling two-thirds of new voters in St. Louis County. Currently, 5 of 6 Ferguson council members are white, but roughly 70 percent of the city’s population is black. And Ferguson’s mayor is white Republican James Knowles.

Recent voter registration is due, in large part, to community efforts to boost civic engagement. Organizations like the NAACP and League of Women Voters, in addition to sororities and fraternities, are actively involved in registering the city’s residents. Other community members are handing out registration cards for voters to mail them in.

But some are not pleased with the surge of registered voters. In August, Matt Wills, the executive director of Missouri’s Republican Party, denounced protesters’ voter registration efforts, saying, “If that’s not fanning the political flames, I don’t know what is. I think it’s not only disgusting but completely inappropriate…Injecting race into this conversation and into this tragedy, not only is not helpful, but it doesn’t help a continued conversation of justice and peace.”

Nevertheless, residents are bracing for elections on November 4. The most important racefor voters is between Republican State Representative Rick Stream and Democrat County Councilman Steve Stenger, who are both vying for the St. Louis County’s executive position. Elections next April are also on new voters’ minds, with 3 open seats on Ferguson’s city council.

Japanese Americans headed towards internment campsAlso, from Missouri, the state court ruled that same sex couples married in other states must be recognized as married in Missouri.

Missouri must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples that were granted elsewhere, state Judge Dale Youngs ruled on Friday.

“[T]o the extent these laws prohibit plaintiffs’ legally contracted marriages from other states from being recognized here, they are wholly irrational, do not rest upon any reasonable basis, and are purely arbitrary,” Youngs wrote.

The ruling followed a hearing in September on the case, which was brought by 10 same-sex couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Missouri has finally recognized our couples’ marriages as being no different from any other marriage,” Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said in a statement.

“As of right now, the injunction and order requiring the state to recognize marriages entered into in other jurisdiction is in effect,” Rothert told BuzzFeed News.

As for whether state officials will appeal, he said that he would not be surprised if they do appeal, but added, “We hope that they will accept this disposition.”

Asked for comment, a spokesperson from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office said only that the office is reviewing the ruling.

The struggle happened. The struggle continues.  The history of this country has not always been pretty or exceptional.  A lot of our progress was built on the suffering of others.  Much of our best history came from those inspired to end the suffering of others.  We should always seek truth and find a better way.  This happens not by protecting the privileges and delusions of a few but by championing the progress of many.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Wingers!!! Leave those Kids Alone!!!

3c6e465545c26487a559cb0f0eefa34bGood Morning!

Well, the papers these days are just full of violence and idiocy due to religious extremists. I’m not going to focus on the nutjobs on the other side of the word.  I prefer to focus on those trying to see that our children get very bad educations.   Texas Religious Whackos are at it again!  They’ve decided that American History needs to be rewritten to their specification and are once again trying to put out textbooks that have very little basis in reality and overplay the role of religion in the formation of the country.  

They are also on a full scale attack against AP History and its associated testing.  They believe that history classes and history books should be more friendly to their fairy tales rather than reality.  Scholars find the books “inaccurate, biased, and political”.  But then scholars had nothing to do with the writing or choice of textbooks.  It seems theologians of a specific sort played a much bigger role.  They also refuse to recognize that the idea of a “free market” economy is about as nonsensical as a Marxist Utopia. But, when you are gullible enough to embrace a literal view of an ancient world mythology as truth, you’re likely to buy just about any lunatic idea some one throws at you.

There’s a new fuss about proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools that are based on what are called the Texas Essential  Knowledge  and  Skills.  Scholarly reviews of 43 proposed history, geography and government textbooks for Grades 6-12 — undertaken by the Education Fund of the Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog and activist group that monitors far-right issues and organizations — found extensive problems in American Government textbooks, U.S. and World History textbooks,Religion in World History textbooks, and Religion in World Geography textbooks.  The state board will vote on which books to approve in November.

Ideas promoted in various proposed textbooks include the notion that Moses and Solomon inspired American democracy, that in the era of segregation only “sometimes” were schools for black children “lower in quality” and that Jews view Jesus Christ as an important prophet.

Some of the distortions are just outrageous.35705051c988b021358ff5ca61e185be

Two government textbooks include misleading information that undermines the Constitutional concept of the separation of church and state.

McGraw-Hill School Education – United States Government

The text states: “Thomas Jefferson once referred to the establishment clause as a ‘wall of separation between church and state.’ That phrase is not used in the Constitution, however.’”

What’s Wrong?

The statement is factually correct, but it could give students the inaccurate impression that Jefferson’s view was personal and lacked significant connection to the First Amendment. The text neglects to mention, for instance, the significant support for the separationist position shared by both Jefferson and James Madison, the Founder with the greatest influence on the drafting of the First Amendment’s religion clauses. The text also neglects to mention reference to Jefferson’s “wall” metaphor in important Supreme Court establishment clause cases, such as Justice Hugo Black’s decision in Everson v. Board of Education, the first Supreme Court case to apply the establishment clause to the states and local government.

Perfection Learning – Basic Principles of American Government

This product does not mention Thomas Jefferson’s use of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state” at all. The text also includes an unbalanced discussion of the background to the Supreme Court’s seminal ruling against school prayer in Engel v. Vitale. The discussion has four paragraphs that are devoted primarily to examining the logic of the rulings of lower, state courts in favor of school prayer. These paragraphs mention that a state court decision notes that “neither the Constitution nor its writers discussed the use of prayer in public schools” and that the judges in these cases “noted that the prayer did not fall into the same category as Bible readings or religious instruction in public schools.”

What’s Wrong?

The four-paragraph discussion of lower courts’ logic in favor of school prayer is followed by only a single paragraph about the Supreme Court’s majority opinion striking down school prayer, which contains little discussion of the logic of that opinion.

Several world history and world geography textbooks include biased statements that inappropriately portray Islam and Muslims negatively.

Social Studies School Service – Active Classroom: World History

The text states: “Much of the violence you read or hear about in the Middle East is related to a jihad.”

What’s Wrong?

This broad charge effectively blames Islam for a very complex cycle of violence and counter-violence, a cycle driven by a host of factors (e.g., natural resources, population pressures) besides radical Islam.

WorldView Software – World History B: Mid-1800s to the Present

The text states: “The spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism which opposes Western political and cultural influences and Western ideology.”

Also, at various points in this product, parts of the Middle East and North Africa are referred to as being “occupied” by “the Muslims” or “in Muslim hands.” The text also adopts the revisionist trope that Islam synthesized, stored, and annotated Classical Greek and Roman learning but did not do much to add to it.

What’s Wrong?

The statement about international terrorism is inaccurate and misleading. Not all international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism; for example, ETA in Spain and the Irish Republican Army are unrelated to Islamic fundamentalism. Further, the use of loaded terms like “occupied” makes little sense when discussing the Middle Ages, when the population of those regions were by and large Muslim themselves. While there is a lengthy section on Islamic scholarship in this product, in nearly every instance the “original” scientist whose work inspired the scientist described is identified, which serves to minimize the contribution of Islamic scholarship.

Evidently they don’t consider the Salem Witchhunts or the Spanish Inquisition or for that matter the Crusades which kicked off with killing Jewish folks in the Middle East.  I guess some religious violence is holier than others.  That also 1f04bbbf61c69f6be549c8da9dd84599doesn’t count the number of times Hitler’s speeches refered to NAZIs as being part of a Christianity identity that was eliminating–among other things–atheists.

“There is far more violence in the Bible than in the Qur’an; the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam.”[1] So announces former nun and self-professed “freelance monotheist,” Karen Armstrong. This quote sums up the single most influential argument currently serving to deflect the accusation that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant: All monotheistic religions, proponents of such an argument say, and not just Islam, have their fair share of violent and intolerant scriptures, as well as bloody histories. Thus, whenever Islam’s sacred scriptures—the Qur’an first, followed by the reports on the words and deeds of Muhammad (the Hadith)—are highlighted as demonstrative of the religion’s innate bellicosity, the immediate rejoinder is that other scriptures, specifically those of Judeo-Christianity, are as riddled with violent passages.More often than not, this argument puts an end to any discussion regarding whether violence and intolerance are unique to Islam. Instead, the default answer becomes that it is not Islam per se but rather Muslim grievance and frustration—ever exacerbated by economic, political, and social factors—that lead to violence. That this view comports perfectly with the secular West’s “materialistic” epistemology makes it all the more unquestioned.

Therefore, before condemning the Qur’an and the historical words and deeds of Islam’s prophet Muhammad for inciting violence and intolerance, Jews are counseled to consider the historical atrocities committed by their Hebrew forefathers as recorded in their own scriptures; Christians are advised to consider the brutal cycle of violence their forbears have committed in the name of their faith against both non-Christians and fellow Christians. In other words, Jews and Christians are reminded that those who live in glass houses should not be hurling stones.

All three of these religions are responsible for violence and have roots in the same violent prescriptions like “an eye for an eye”.   Far right whacko, possible Republican Presidential candidate and Fox Contributor Ben Carson believes that the current AP History curriculum will cause students to join ISIS.

Fox News contributor thinks that a new framework for Advanced Placement U.S. History courses will cause students “to go sign up for ISIS.”

When speaking at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Action Summit this week, Ben Carson, an author and retired neurosurgeon who provides commentary on Fox News, implied that the College Board’s new course framework has an anti-American bias. Over the past few months, conservatives have rallied against the course’s new framework, saying it shines an overly harsh light on American history and leaves out information about important historical figures. In August, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution calling for a push against the course, claiming it “deliberately distorts and/or edits out important historical events.”

Carson, who has said he will likely run for president in 2016, apparently agrees with the RNC resolution.

“There’s only two paragraphs in there about George Washington … little or nothing about Martin Luther King, a whole section on slavery and how evil we are, a whole section on Japanese internment camps and how we slaughtered millions of Japanese with our bombs,” Carson said at the event.

He continued, “I think most people when they finish that course, they’d be ready to go sign up for ISIS … We have got to stop this silliness crucifying ourselves.”

In recent weeks, controversy surrounding the course has gained increased national attention, as hundreds of students from the Jefferson County School District in Colorado have staged ongoing protests after a conservative school board memberproposed forming committees to review the course and make sure it properly promotes patriotism. Teachers in the district have also participated in numerous “sick-outs,” where large groups called in sick to protest the proposal.

673d47eed79fa897acb1142c225d05a4We continue to see right wing religious whackos attack science, history, and facts in an attempt to drag the country into their reality. Afterall, an ignorant population benefits their personal crusades against modernity. Part of their hysteria appears to be grounded in the fear they could be losing their grip on the Republican Party.  I doubt that but they don’t seem to like that many Republican leaders are trying to re-message their completely out of the mainstream views on the rights of GLBT, women, and things like birth control and social safety nets.

At this year’s Values Voters Summit, held this past weekend, religious right leaders were showing fear of being left behind. “There was a palpable fear throughout the conference that the Republican Party is moving away from the Religious Right,”writes Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch. At one panel, social conservatives tried gallantly to argue that opposition to abortion and gay rights is actually somehow libertarian, because supporters of those rights are “using the government to impose this new, strange sexual orthodoxy.” And at one point,Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage defensively said, “It’s not our fault” that Republicans keep losing.

The Family Research Council—the religious right group that hosts the Values Voters Summit, along with Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage—released a letter right before the conference announcing its plans to “mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots” for Republican House candidates Richard Tisei of Massachusetts and Carl DeMaio of California, as well as Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby of Oregon. The two men are gay andWehby is pro-choice.

At one panel, titled, “How Conservatives Can Win With Millennials and Women,” Kristan Hawkins, Kathryn Jean Lopez, and Catherine Helsley Rodriguez tried to convince Republicans to stay on the anti-contraception message in order to reel in the votes. Nathalie Baptiste of the American Prospect described the scene:

Though birth control is popular among, well, everyone, panel members seemed indignant that anyone in the GOP would support over-the-counter birth control, as several Republican senatorial candidates have done. According to Hawkins, birth control is carcinogenic and so the people providing these “dangerous chemicals” to women are waging the real War on Women.

According to Emily Crockett at RH Reality Check, Hawkins also compared contraception “to asbestos and cigarettes.”

It really is time the entire Republican Party shut down this kind of disinformation.  The entire gambit of reactionary social issues from abortion to being against climate change or the civil rights of GLBTS is basically rooted in falsehoods.  It’s3b47cc8763699e24ebce3558b547dfaf amazing one of our two political parties continues to let these kooks air their disturbing lies. Indeed,  potential Republican candidates seem to line up to deny their educations and spew outright lies about science, psychology, history, and any other topic that these religious extremists find unpalatable.  Stephen Colbert took a huge swing at Governor Bobby Jindal who seems to have forgotten everything Brown University taught him in its honors Biology program.

Comedian Stephen Colbert took aim at Gov.Bobby Jindal on Tuesday night during a segment of “The Colbert Report.”

Colbert suggested Jindal, who has an honors degree in Biology from Brown University, is running from his academic record to cater to voters, specifically religious voters that don’t believe in the theory of evolution.

“Jindal is off to an impressive retreat from knowledge, but there’s a lot more science he could run away from. For example, he should insist thunder is just God bowling,” Colbert said.

Colbert also mocked Jindal’s apparent presidential aspirations, citing a 4th place finish in last weekend’s Values Voter Summit straw poll and getting just 3 percent of the vote in a recent CNN poll. That 3 percent fell below “No one,” which got 4 percent.

“I say he can use it to his advantage. Jindal 2016: No one is more popular,” Colbert said while flashing a fake campaign sign.

Colbert picked apart the Values Voter Summit, particularly Jindal, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. He joked about Palin referencing the White House being at “1400 Pennsylvania Avenue,” which is actually a plaza for the Willard Hotel.

Palin referenced the mistake in her recent visit to Louisiana where she campaign for Senate candidate Rob Maness. She joked that Sen. Mary Landrieu actually lived at that address, a reference to a residency controversy stirred by Maness and other Republicans.

On Wednesday morning, Jindal shot back at Colbert on Twitter with this series of four tweets, sent between 10:28 a.m. and 10:37 a.m., mostly focused on Colbert’s evolution comments.

0a7efda04b1a04931847d38d13644146Yes, that last statement basically says my governor spent around 10-15 minutes trolling Stephen Colbert.  What a moron!   It amazes me that any one even takes anything he says seriously any more.  Oh, one more absolutely bugfuck crazy thing he’s doing right now instead of governing my state.

Gov. Bobby Jindal will join the billionaire family behind the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts stores at the company’s campus in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, according Zeke Miller at TIME.

The Louisiana governor will attend an evening event with the Greens supporting their plans to build a museum dedicated to the Bible in Washington D.C.

The family’s Bible museum has raised some eyebrows, particularly since Steve Green — Hobby Lobby’s president — has referred to the Bible as a “reliable, historical document.” The Greens have already acquired a $50 million site near the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum and plan to open the facility’s doors in 2017, according to The New York Times.

The Hobby Lobby family is best known for a successful U.S. Supreme Court fight to get out from under a new federal mandate that required businesses pay for birth control. The Greens, who identify as evangelical Christians, have objections to certain types of birth control and didn’t want financially support employee access to some forms of contraceptive.

Jindal has expressed his support for the Greens and Hobby Lobby several times. He mentioned the family during a speech about religious issues at Liberty University in May. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the craft store chain last June, he sent out several tweets in support of the decision.

Read some of the governor’s tweets in support of the Greens below.

This man just has to be look for money and a job at some right wing thought-free tank.  He can’t seriously think he’s got a shot at the presidency chasing morons like a dog on an ambulance.

Extremism is showing up in many races through out the country.  I’m amazed at the Iowa Governor’s race among others. Ed Kilgore wonders when extremism will be considered a character issue.

Braley has gamely stuck to issues, primarily by hammering Ernst for very unpopular right-wing positions on the minimum wage and Social Security. But he’s also used issues to raise his own “character” issue: the claim that this mild-mannered hog-castrating war veteran woman in the soft-focused ads is actually an extremist. And in that pursuit he’s found plenty of ammunition in Ernst’s record in the Iowa legislature and on the campaign trail, particularly early in the 2014 cycle when she was looking for wingnut traction.

Ernst is crying “unfair,” most notably in an exchange in their first debate last Sunday. Braley criticized her for sponsoring in the legislature a state constitutional amendment establishing prenatal “personhood” from the moment of fertilization, which he accurately said would outlaw now only the very earliest abortions but also IV fertility clinics and several types of contraception. This was Ernst’s response:

“The amendment that is being referenced by the congressman would not do any of the things that you stated it would do,” Ernst said. “That amendment is simply a statement that I support life.”That’s true in a highly technical sense — perhaps using the reasoning of a trial lawyer — insofar as constitutional amendments don’t inherently create the laws they rule out or demand, but in a more basic sense, it’s just a lie, as Ernst and her campaign surely know. “Personhood” amendments are so extreme they have been routinely trounced when placed on the ballot (twice in Colorado and once in Mississippi). And if sponsoring one of them is a “statement” of anything, it’s a statement of absolute submission to Iowa’s powerful antichoice lobby, in the sense of ruling out any of those weasely “exceptions” to a total abortion (and “abortifacient”) ban.

But the impulse to let Ernst off the hook for outrageous positions is fed by media cynicism as well as candidate mendacity. Consider another Ernst primary campaign theme that some Democrats have criticized, in the eyes of the outstanding political reporter Dave Weigel:

The individual attacks on Braley, at this point, aren’t individually important. They’re important as bricks in a wall. Democrats are pursuing a similar strategy, plunking down tape after tape of Ernst, who spent a long time as the right-wing candidate in the primary, sounding like a … well, right-wing candidate. Meredith Shiner [of AP] has the latest example, a debate clip in which Ernst promised that she would oppose the threat posed by the U.N.’s Agenda 21 to suburbanites and farmers. Democrats seek to make voters see Ernst as a Sarah Palin golem; Republicans seek to make voters see Braley as an unrelatable, lawsuit-happy snob. It’s all very inspiring.So Democrats calling attention to Ernst’s multiple passionate statements subscribing to the insane, John Birch Society-inspired conspiracy theory that the United Nations is behind land-use regulations of every kind is treated as the equivalent of Republicans howling about Braley’s “chicken suit.” The reason, I suppose, is that you can’t criticize a pol for pandering to “the base” during primaries and then “moving to the center” in general elections. It’s just what you do.

I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. Extremism is, or should be, a “character” issue. And so, too, should be flip-flopping. Personally, I respect “personhood” advocates for taking a dangerous position based on the logical extension of strongly-held if exotic ideas about human development. I don’t respect those like Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst who try to weasel out of such positions the moment they become inconvenient.

71c2e1ab64ceb6b443e37db0d14dd447We’ve got to stop this.  The children of the United States deserve better.  This reminds me.  In a day and age where Republicans are obsessed that every missed period is an abortion, where are they on this embarrassing show on US Infant Mortality?   Go look at what kinds of country do better than us at just keeping their infants alive from birth to age 1. 

The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan. That same American baby is about twice as likely to die in her first year as a Spanish or Korean one.

Despite healthcare spending levels that are significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see his first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland or Slovakia. Or in Belarus.Or in Cuba, for that matter.

The U.S. rate of 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births masks considerable state-level variation. If Alabama were a country, its rate of 8.7 infant deaths per 1,000 would place it slightly behind Lebanon in the world rankings. Mississippi, with its 9.6 deaths, would be somewhere between Botswana and Bahrain.

We’re the wealthiest nation in the world. How did we end up like this?

I hate to break the news to the author of this but we’re not the wealthiest nation on the earth any more.   I would also like to add that it’s imperative that you vote in November.   Also, one more pitch for a few donations so we can renew our domain name and our specialized format on wordpress.  We don’t need much so just small amounts will help push us over!  Thanks!!!

So, what’s on your news and blogging list today?