Monday Reads

Morning Coffee, by Christina Madden

Morning Coffee, by Christina Madden

Welcome to Morbid Monday!!

 

I haven’t had a regular work schedule for  years, so why do the days of the week still affect me as they did when I had a 9-5 job or when I was in school? Is it because I need some kind of structure in my life? I still look forward to weekends and I still dislike Monday mornings. Why is that? Is it because the world around me is structured that way? Or is it because I was conditioned from childhood to our society’s weekly scheduling?

Anyway, I’m still recovering from a combination cold and stomach virus, and it’s Monday; so I’m slow on the uptake today, and I just hope this post will make sense. Healthwise, I’m better off than Dakinikat and JJ. Actually, Dakinikat and her computer are both under the weather, so I’m filling in for her today. The photos of giant coffee cups show how I feel about Mondays!

Here are the stories that most interested me this morning.

Ferguson, Missouri

Did you read that awful New York Times story that reported on leaks from “officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation” into the shooting of teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson? According to the Times, these “officials” were not members of the Ferguson police department or from “officials whose activities are being investigated as part of the civil rights inquiry.” So does that mean Justice Department “officials?” Or are these “officials” from St. Louis? Who the hell knows. But the slant of the story was toward exonerating Wilson and making it appear that Brown deserved to die.

Here’s a summary of Wilson’s version of events from Newsweek:

The official testimony that Officer Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, gave to authorities was revealed for the first time in a Friday New York Times report.

During the struggle, the officer claimed that Brown reached for his gun. Wilson told investigators that the two struggled over the weapon before the fatal shooting, that Brown assaulted him and he “feared for his life” that day. He also said that Brown had scratched and punched him multiple times, which resulted in cuts and swelling on his face and neck.

According to forensic tests, the gun went off twice in Wilson’s S.U.V., and shot Brown in the arm once. The test also confirmed that Brown’s blood was found in Wilson’s car, his uniform and his gun. The autopsy confirmed that Brown had been shot a total of six times upon his death.

monday coffee1

In my opinion we’re being softened up for the blow that will come next month when the Grand Jury fails to indict Wilson. Whoever the “officials” who talked to the NYT are, they apparently don’t want the Justice Department to find that Wilson violated Michael Brown’s rights. Otherwise, why would they be leaking this information? The Washington Post story is also slanted toward Wilson’s version of events, and they cite anonymous “county officials.”

Forensic evidence shows Michael Brown’s blood on the gun, on the uniform and inside the car of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, law enforcement officials said, information they believe potentially corroborates the officer’s story that the unarmed 18-year-old tried to take his gun.

The evidence will make it harder for the Justice Department to prosecute Wilson on federal charges that he violated Brown’s civil rights, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Such evidence would also make it difficult for a county grand jury to indict Wilson on state charges, such as murder or manslaughter, said county sources who also are prohibited from talking on the record about the pending case.

Multiple media sources are now parroting anonymous sources who claim the “evidence” supports Wilson’s story. I just don’t see it. Of course Brown’s blood would be inside Wilson’s car, since Wilson reportedly shot Brown in the arm at close range. Blood would have spattered all over. It makes sense that it would be on the gun, Wilson’s uniform, and elsewhere in the car. As for the alleged scratches, cuts, and swelling on Wilson’s face (where are the photos?), that could have happened because, as the closest  witness–Dorian Johnson–said, Wilson pulled Brown into the car by the neck and tried to choke him. Brown could have been defending himself. Furthermore, none of this justifies Wilson chasing Brown and shooting him as Brown was trying to surrender with his hands in the air, which is what a number of witnesses reported.

Al Sharpton isn’t buying it. From Colin Campbell at Business Insider:

Speaking at his weekly National Action Network rally in Harlem, Sharpton panned Wilson’s claim to be in fear of his life as the “same excuse” as others who fatally shot African-American teens.

“We were involved in Trayvon Martin. We were supportive of Jordan Davis,” Sharpton said, ticking off the recent controversies. “The strange thing is that all of them used the same excuse … The only gun there was Darren Wilson’s! Strange parallels with all of these cases.”

“First of all, if you stopped him — Michael Brown and his friend — walking down the street, what led to the scuffle? … Secondly, how does he and you get in your car? You trying to do what by yourself?” Sharpton asked. “Now, if I go with you with your story all the way to that — that Michael Brown was shot, gets up off you in the car — why are you trying to tell me that a man … ran back at you when he knew you had the gun and you already shot him?”

Extra-Large-Coffee-Cup

The story makes no sense, but I’m guessing the Missouri Grand Jury will believe it. And then it’s going to get ugly. From The Daily Beast:

The Rev. Carlon Lee, pastor of Flood Christian Church in Ferguson, Mo., was sending out links to a New York Times story Friday night to friends, family and community members who have spent the last two months absorbed in the events surrounding the death of teenager Michael Brown. The story cited forensic evidence offered by federal officials that showed Brown’s blood on officer Darren Wilson’s uniform and gun, which was found to have been fired inside Wilson’s patrol car. Lee’s link came with a personal thought:

“If there has ever been a time to pray, this is it,” he told recipients of texts and emails.

There was really nothing new about the Times’ story—Wilson has maintained since day one that Brown was reaching for the officer’s gun, which led to a struggle ultimately ending in the teenager’s death. Now, though, evidence seen only by a St. Louis County grand jury has been made available for the world, including the residents of Ferguson.

“I believe that when people have received (the Times) article and see what’s going on it will infuriate people and set us back,” Lee said. “No matter what happened in (Wilson’s) car, Michael Brown’s hands were up. No matter if he beat the crap out of Officer Wilson, his hands were up—a universal sign of surrendering.”

Protesters in Ferguson are going to believe Wilson’s story, says St. Louis photojournalist Bradley Rayford.

“The protesters didn’t believe Officer Wilson’s story in the first place, so they’re not going to believe this story,” Rayford said of the Times’ reporting….

It’s impossible to tell whether the story being sent out by Lee on Friday night would result in increased action on the streets of Ferguson, but one thing, as it has all along, remains clear: If Wilson isn’t indicted chaos will once again reign.

“If there’s a non-indictment I think you’ll see an immediate uproar,” Lee said. “I don’t think people have seen the amount of unrest and anger that will come if there’s a non-indictment.”

 Check out these photos of black protesters and white St. Louis Rams fans fighting over an American flag. How symbolic is that? Here’s one of the photos:

St. Louis

At the end of the confrontation, white police officers are shown targeting a black woman.

St. Louis2

Serial Killers

On Saturday, a body that is most likely that of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham was found in Albemarle County a few miles from where suspect Jesse Matthew grew up. WTVR.com reports:

Just four short miles from the abandoned Albemarle County property, now lined with police tape and full of detectives investigating the discovery of human remains, sits the house Jesse Matthew Jr. and his mother once called home.

“She wanted to try to keep Jesse out of the city away from gang activity — if there was any in the city. She was just trying to make it safe for her son,” said neighbor Cliff Hunt.

Hunt said Matthew’s mother wanted the best for her son, who is now the prime suspect in the disappearance of Hannah Graham, who was last seen Sept. 13 on Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall.

Hannah Graham’s parents wanted the best for their daughter too, and so did Morgan Harrington’s parents. How many more women did Jesse Matthew rape and kill? The safest place for him to have been was prison after he was accused of raping college classmates at two Virginia colleges in 2002 and 2003. 

More from NBC 12: Albemarle neighbors recall Jesse Matthew and his family.

Jesse Matthew and his family lived at a home on Ponderosa Trail, just a few years ago, according to the neighbors and people who live here now. And this spot is just four miles away from where the remains were found by investigators scouring for any trace of evidence left at the scene….

This area is known to suspect Jesse Matthew, who is charged with Graham’s abduction with intent to defile.

Matthew’s former neighbor Bernard Blue said Matthew, his sister and mother lived in this home just miles from where search crews made the gruesome discovery Saturday. Blue says he’s unsettled that the man he knew is now the main suspect in a high-profile case. “Never dreamed he’d do something like that if he is guilty,” he said. “Never dreamed about it, because he was a fine boy when he was up here.”

Blue said Matthew’s mother also worked at UVA hospital, and that she’s stayed in touch. “She was a sweet lady. She came up to see me about four or five months ago,” he said. But Bernard says Matthew left a somewhat different impression. “He was a little strange. But, fine guy, all I know.”

“Strange,” but “a fine guy”?

morning coffee2

Also in this morning’s news, a serial killer has been arrested in Indiana. From the Chicago Tribune: 7 women found dead in Gary, Hammond over weekend.

Bodies of three more women were found in Gary Sunday evening after officials discovered bodies of four women earlier in the weekend at various locations in Gary and Hammond.

One of the recently found women was discovered around 7:50 p.m. Sunday in the 4300 block of Massachusetts Street in Gary, according to a press release from the Lake County coroner’s office. The cause of the woman’s death was strangulation, same as in the case of the first woman found dead Friday night.

Two additional bodies of women were recovered around 10 p.m. in the 400 block of East 43rd Avenue in Gary, according to another press release from the Lake County coroner’s office. The cause of both women’s deaths was unknown.

Deaths of all three women, who were not immediately identified, were ruled homicides, the releases said.

Police have detained a suspect whose name won’t be released until he is charged. The man confessed to the most recent murder and then led police to three more bodies. Fox News reports:

The women were found throughout Hammond and Gary, according to the Lake County coroner’s office. The Chicago Sun-Times cited police sources saying the man in custody is a 43-year-old resident of Gary. Hammond Chief John Doughty said police will have more information at a press conference Monday.

The flurry of grisly discoveries began when Hammond police responded to a call of an unresponsive person Friday evening at a Motel 6 and found the strangled body of a woman identified as Afrika Hardy, 19. As part of the investigation into her death, police executed a search warrant on a home in Gary, where they also took the person of interest into custody, Hammond Police Lt. Richard Hoyda told the Chicago Tribune in an email….

Police discovered the body of Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, around 11:20 p.m. Saturday in an abandoned home in Gary. Her family had reported her missing on Oct. 8.

Jones’ sister, Yolanda Nowell, previously described her as “very street savvy” and said she had moved 10 years ago from Chicago to Indiana, where she operated a stand at a nearby flea market.

Police found the next body around 1 a.m. Sunday and a third body less than an hour later, according to the Tribune.

Late Sunday, the coroner’s office confirmed the discovery of three additional Jane Does, all of which were found in Gary.

All seven deaths have been ruled homicides, according to the coroner’s office. Most of the bodies were found in or around abandoned or fire-damaged homes in blighted neighborhoods, according to reports. The house near where Jones was found was described as being located in a thriving neighborhood, although it is unkempt, with overgrown grass and weeds.

As I have often said, it’s a bloodbath out there. Violence against women is a daily reality in this country.

jack-and-coffee

Nazi War Criminals Living on Social Security

From AP via Yahoo News: Expelled Nazis got millions in Social Security.

OSIJEK, Croatia (AP) — Former Auschwitz guard Jakob Denzinger lived the American dream.

 His plastics company in the Rust Belt town of Akron, Ohio, thrived. By the late 1980s, he had acquired the trappings of success: a Cadillac DeVille and a Lincoln Town Car, a lakefront home, investments in oil and real estate.

Then the Nazi hunters showed up.

In 1989, as the U.S. government prepared to strip him of his citizenship, Denzinger packed a pair of suitcases and fled to Germany. Denzinger later settled in this pleasant town on the Drava River, where he lives comfortably, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. He collects a Social Security payment of about $1,500 each month, nearly twice the take-home pay of an average Croatian worker.

Denzinger, 90, is among dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards who collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation found.

The payments flowed through a legal loophole that has given the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal government records.

Like Denzinger, many lied about their Nazi pasts to get into the U.S. following World War II, and eventually became American citizens.

Read more details about the AP investigation in the lengthy article.

Read “brief profiles” of some of these Nazi social security recipients in this AP story via The Elkhart Truth

coffee huge1

What if Republicans Win Control of Congress?

Here’s Joan Walsh’s take on the silly argument that losing would be good for Democrats: America’s Looming Freak Show: How GOP Control Will Terrorize a Nation – With No Political Repercussion.

I’m an optimist who’s expert at finding silver linings – American progressives have to be — but the case rapidly picking up steam that another midterm loss will be good for Democrats is both silly and a little dangerous.

Bill Scher made the argument from the left as well as anyone could, while  this piece by the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib, coming from the center-right, was more predictable and vexing. (Paul Waldman took a shot at it back in August,  here.) The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump followed and endorsed Seib’s argument. But those takes rely at least in part on the notion that if Republicans gain the Senate, they’ll either have an incentive to help “govern” – or they’ll shame themselves in the eyes of the American public if they don’t. Unfortunately, neither premise is true.

In fact, I’m concerned that worsening political dysfunction perpetuates itself by convincing more Americans that politics is futile. The Obama coalition in particular – younger, less white, less well off than even prior coalitions of Democrats – has gotten so little that’s tangible from its history-making turnout in 2012 (and yes I’ve read that Krugman piece and I mostly agree.) The prospect of its coalescing to become a permanent force in American politics has been at least postponed, if not thwarted entirely, by the deliberate GOP sabotage of the political process.

For me, the backdrop to this depressing midterm election is not merely ISIS and Ebola, but continued unrest in Ferguson, Mo., where it seems unlikely Officer Darren Wilson will face consequences for shooting Michael Brown. From New York to Los Angeles, the issue of police violence just gets worse. There’s increasing activism on the issue, which is great to see – the crowds that turned out for “Ferguson October” over the weekend, and into Monday, were inspiring.

Read the whole sordid thing at the link. Have I told you lately how much I hate the term “progressive?” I’m a liberal and proud of it. The “progressives” who have been undermining Obama for years and are now rooting for a Republican victory make me sick to my stomach. Maybe that’s why I came down with this virus I have.

I should write something about Ebola, but this post is already far too long. I’ll put those links in the comment thread.

So . . . what stories have caught your attention today?


Sunday Reads: Hello is there anybody in there?

92ec4136a38bb759a3e7149d4ac263e7.jpgGood morning

Well, I am starting this post in a new way. I am writing it on my iPhone using the talk to text thingy. You know, that app where you talk and it writes what you say. So far… it has disappeared on me once, and has gone black a couple of times so if it does work I will be amazed.

I feel like I’ve gone down the rabbit hole, into techie hell. (Actually isn’t it Apple “Genius” hell?)

Let’s get on with this post, whose theme song should be Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb

With the Ebola virus making the rounds, and since I’ve been sick over the last two weeks…the words to this song hit home. (And now Boston Boomer is out for the count, hopefully she will be feeling better soon.  )

During the rest of the post, the lyrics to Comfortably Numb will be in dotted here and there…starting with the title of this thread.

 Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?

Honestly? I wonder if the Ebola hysteria has caused people to lose it completely. Take this latest bit of…you fucking kidding me…out of Maine:

0e4244cf01d3e0016892d7a3566ebadeMaine school board puts teacher on leave after she traveled to Dallas – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

The teacher, who has not been named, attended a conference 10 miles from the hospital where Ebola patients have received care.

A teacher at Strong Elementary School was placed on a 21-day paid leave of absence after parents told the school board they were concerned that she might have been exposed to Ebola during a trip to Dallas for an educational conference.

The teacher, who was not named, attended a seminar held by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that is still meeting in Dallas.

“At this time, we have no information to suggest that this staff member has been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to Ebola,” the district wrote in a statement published on its website. “However, the district and the staff member understand the parents’ concerns. Therefore, after several discussions with the staff member, out of an abundance of caution, this staff member has been placed on a paid leave of absence for up to 21 days.”

It takes two to 21 days for someone who has been infected with Ebola to show symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The decision to place the teacher on leave was made by the MSAD 58 school board Thursday evening, after parents and community members expressed frustration that they were not notified that the teacher would be traveling to Dallas, where the nation’s first Ebola case was diagnosed.

Wow. What can you possibly say about that?

Things have gotten almost up to 11, and I know that as the days get closer to Election Day 2014, certain politicians will continue to use the fear as campaign fuel.

Come on, now,
I hear you’re feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.

I have some quick links for you now. Updates on some stories:

Darren Wilson says he feared for his life, struggled over gun with Brown | theGrio

Sounds like Wilson is taking his cue from Zimmerman.

The police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old in a St. Louis suburb last summer has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as they struggled over his gun, The New York Times reported.

Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson has told authorities that Michael Brown reached for the gun during a scuffle, the Times reported in a story posted on its website Friday night. The officer’s account to authorities did not explain why he fired at Brown multiple times after emerging from his vehicle, according to the newspaper.

You can read the rest if you want.

By the way, did y’all ever see John Oliver’s take on the Ferguson mess?

Now when you watch it, make sure you keep a mental note on the pumpkin festival (it starts at min 7:12)…and the big ass tank that is used to protect it…because it may just have a connection to this next story:

077243eba9ee62f0063adb315cc19958College Pumpkin Festival Careens into Violence and Arrests

Keene State student Ellery Murray told The Boston Globe she was at a party that had drawn a large crowd when people started throwing things. She said police responded in riot gear and used tear gas to break up the crowd.

“People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins,” she said. “People just got too drunk.”

The Southwestern New Hampshire Fire Mutual Aid organization said on Twitter that several people were injured from thrown bottles at a party involving hundreds of people.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said state and local safety officials worked to defuse what she called “the situation.”

Hours after the commotion broke out, emergency officials said they were still working the scene and couldn’t provide any details.

I wonder if the local police put the military tank/truck thing to good use?

Another cop tale for ya, and yes it is in Georgia: Georgia teen forced to ground at gunpoint for seat-belt violation files $12.5 million lawsuit

The family of high school athlete who was pulled over and forced to the ground at gunpoint over a seat-belt violation has filed a $12.5 million lawsuit against the Waycross, Georgia police department contending the officer involved was only given a slap on the wrist for his actions, according to News4GA.

Saying “I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Montre’ Merritt explained to reporters how the traffic stop in front of his home where officer Officer Cory Gay held a gun to his head and ordered him onto the ground still haunts him.

“That night when it happened, I felt like I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Merritt said. “And just hearing how Mike Brown went about his case for doing the right thing. He still got shot. I just feel like I don’t want any of my friends or family, I don’t want that to happen to anybody.”

According to the suit, Merritt was pulled over by Gay on Jan. 18, in front of his home and instructed at gunpoint to get out of his car and on the ground where Gay handcuffed him. When Merritt’s mother came outside to see why her son was being arrested, the officer told her it was for a seat belt violation.

The Merritt family subsequently filed a complaint with the Waycross Police Department over Gay’s actions.

Following an investigation by police authorities, Gay was found guilty of using excessive force and was suspended for five days without pay. Gay was also ordered to take Judgmental Use of Force Training.

Unhappy with Gay’s punishment, the family filed the lawsuit against the police department.

Good luck with that.

Okay, if you have another 16 minutes…take a look at this segment from John Oliver’s show on Prisons.

Up next a story that reflects on another side of the prison system. I don’t know if you remember a horrible shooting and dual murder here in Georgia a few weeks ago, a young couple was kidnapped and held for ransom, only to be shot execution style. The woman, who was 7 months pregnant, was kept alive long enough to give birth to her daughter. They finally caught the people responsible, and as you can imagine…this is not the first murders the dudes have committed.

DA announces plan to seek death penalty in couple’s… | www.wsbtv.com

Friday, District Attorney Paul Howard announced a big decision to seek the death penalty for the two men accused of kidnapping and murdering a man and his pregnant fiance.

Channel 2 Action  News learned the suspects were accused of a combined seven killings.

Families present for the announcement told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh they were shocked to see how many lives were impacted by just two suspects.

“I’m going (to) hope that justice will do what’s necessary because obviously it failed us before; they got out,” said Beverly Fowler, godmother to victim Briana Brooks.

The families stood united with Atlanta investigators who helped put two murder suspects back behind bars.

Friday, a grand jury handed up a 30-count indictment of Andre Gay and Richard Wilson.

“We will continue to do the job we need to do to make sure they are never released again,” said Atlanta Detective

If you can, watch Briana Brooks mother as she describes what happened to her daughter, it is emotionally wrenching.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said both Gay and Wilson have served time for prior murders. Gay, who was sentenced to life, was just paroled in January, but victims’ families were never notified.

“I believe that the parole board should personally notify the family members,” said Howard.

Howard thinks that should happen within 60 days.

Howard said he was shocked to learn what the state means by “electronic monitoring” of parolees.

“That does not mean they will wear ankle bracelets and it doesn’t mean that — the monitoring doesn’t go on during the entire time that they are on parole,” Howard said.

“Overwhelming that so many families are affected by two individuals who really don’t care for life,” Strong said.

Kavanaugh contacted the state parole board to get their reaction to these criticisms. A spokesperson emailed the following statement:

“The Parole Board recently met with DA Paul Howard to discuss the Andre Gay case and Mr. Howard shared information with the Board.

“Prior to this case, the Parole Board has been working on determining how additional notifications may be made to victims and law enforcement regarding board decisions and how new notifications above those that are statutorily required, can possibly be implemented.

“The Parole Board’s supervision of offenders on parole in the community is consistently under review to ensure those on parole are in compliance with their supervision.

“The Parole Board is committed to public safety and will continue to make supervision of offenders its number one priority.”

See, how the hell did these guys get approved for release to begin with? I don’t know but this is a perfect example of the criminals that need to remain behind bars.

Relax.
I’ll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?

After this next video segment from Oliver…you will be hurting between your head something fierce!

Unbelievable, innit?

In endangered animal news: Death of white rhino in Kenya leaves only six animals alive in the world | Environment | The Observer

Sudan northern white rhino
Sudan, one of the six remaining northern white rhinos, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nairobi. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

An endangered northern white rhino has died in Kenya, a wildlife conservancy has said, meaning only six of the animals are left alive in the world.

Suni, a 34-year-old northern white, and the first of his species to be born in captivity, was found dead on Friday by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nairobi. While there are thousands of southern white rhinos in the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, decades of rampant poaching has meant the northern white rhino is close to extinction.

Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world as no northern white rhinos are believed to have survived in the wild. Though the conservancy said Suni was not poached, the cause of his death is currently unclear.

I hope his death was natural causes…read more about Suni’s life at the link.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.

We started the post off with the results of Ebola fear mongering is bringing folks here in the US, Digby had an interesting graphic on her blog yesterday:

Hullabaloo-Fear for all

It was interesting at least…

The rest of today’s post will have links dealing with fun stuff…yeah we are half way through, so you can either keep going…or come back later, but the next series of links deal with a huge inflatable butt plug that was installed in some plaza in Paris.

Art for controversy’s sake: If they’ll build a giant ‘sex toy’ in the middle of Paris, then surely anything’s possible

13-ParisTree-AFP

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a tree, apparently. The 80ft green structure called Tree has attracted at lot of attention since it appeared in Paris’s Place Vendôme. Created by Paul McCarthy, an American artist, as part of his exhibition Chocolate Factory, the installation is officially described as a Christmas tree. Social media wags, however, have suggested that it looks more like something rude (ask your mother). Vandals took it a step further yesterday when they cut the cables holding the structure upright, forcing security guards to deflate and remove it.

Surely Tree is exactly what a great work of public art should be – controversial. Just like the adjacent Vendôme Column was, back in its wild youth. That now venerable monument, constructed between 1806 and 1810 to commemorate Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz, was first attacked by a mob on horseback in 1816. That attempt to dislodge Napoleon’s statue from its perch failed, but the Vendôme Column has been dismantled and rebuilt on several occasions since. As for obscenity, is Tree really that much more blatant than the Vendôme Column and the many other giant phallic symbols that hide in plain sight in civic centres the world over?

Yeah, more at the link…but for now…it is a flaccid butt plug.

Giant Butt Plug in Center of Paris Deflated by Prudish Vandals

An 80-foot inflatable butt plug by American artist Paul McCarthy was cut down from its supports early Saturday morning by vandals, forcing authorities to deflate the installation that many prudes in the city of Paris saw as an eyesore.

According to The Guardian, the vandals waited until the attention of security guards was elsewhere and then cut the cables keeping the sculpture, titled “Tree,” in place. Police are investigating the incident; it had only been two days since the sculpture was inflated in Place Vendôme.

During the inflatable butt plug’s grand unveiling on Thursday, one man’s response was to slap McCarthy in the face three times, “yelling that he was not French and that his work had no business in the square, before running off,”Le Monde reported.

The FIAC (a French contemporary art fair), who was responsible for bringing “Tree” to Paris, said they will reinflate McCarthy’s work “as soon as possible.”

Now, a group of links on women, starting with a great quote and photo editorial from actress Danai Gurira for Byrdie | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

Danai-Gurira-Byrdie-Walking-Dead-Editorial-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-3

“The Walking Dead” actress Danai Gurira is featured on Byrdie photographed by Justin Colt and styled by Zoe Costello.

On female struggles and feminism: “There’s a saying in Africa, if you give a woman empowerment, you empower a community, you empower men, you empower man. When women become empowered and live in their strength it’s beneficiary to others, and I think as young women today we sometimes forget that we are standing on the struggle of other women. Those women had to stand up to make a change, and they were not popular, and now we’re making them unpopular again.”

I especially love what the “Uncles” had to say about this editorial:

O to the MG, that shot in the Sacai is the very definition of FIERCE.  Actually, scratch that. While that shit is FIERCE, it doesn’t hold a candle to that soundbite about feminism. GIRL. That was awesome.

Sorry for the RANDOM all-caps words, but WE tend to lose all control WHEN we see a fabulously fierce LADY in stunning CLOTHES saying really SMART things.

Damn you got that right! Click the link to see the other gorgeous shots…and to read another bite about her Walking Dead character, Michonne.

When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Here we go….UN Woman launches campaign in India for greater participation of men in promotion women’s rights | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

The UN Women launched a campaign in New Delhi on Saturday, aiming at ensuring greater participation of men in promoting women’s rights and gender equality.

“We need boys and men to work with us. ‘HeForShe’ is a global solidarity movement to end gender inequality by 2030. The goal is to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change in the effort to achieve equality. When women are empowered, the whole of humanity benefits,” UN Women Representative, Rebecca Tavares, said.

The ‘HeForShe’ campaign in India was launched by Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. UN Women believes that it is critical to engage all stakeholders in support of women’s rights, including the active participation of men and boys.

This is good.

But all the talk over in Vatican City is sounding hollow on the women’s issues front: Our favorite Pope still needs to address one major issue | Grist

Pope Francis, a.k.a. the Ultimate Chill Dude Pope of All Time (UCDPAT), has been a publicity dream for the Catholic Church. Even on Grist, we’ve sung his praises for his love of public transit and calls to action regarding climate change. There’s just one little area, however, where ol’ UCDPAT’s climate action plan leaves a lot to be desired: contraception.

The draft document from the 2014 Synod on the Family (which comes to an end on Sunday) includes a significant reworking of the language used to address homosexuality, premarital cohabitation, and divorce. Let’s be clear: This is no small deal! That the Church would begin to make moves around welcoming gay, unmarried, and no-longer-married couples (for the record, that covers about 95 percent of the couples I know) into the Catholic community represents an enormous — and positive — step forward.

But guess what? When it comes to women, and the control that they can have over their own bodies, not much has changed.

6a8d22a0ac38f9e429c8a6bb80de3ef0The next link I have for you is a good one, from a couple of weeks ago: Men deserve everything women get: waiting periods, purity control and science-free sex education | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Enjoy that one in full…it is so good.

This op/ed however…was published today: A woman’s option to freeze her eggs should never be a job perk – Comment – Voices – The Independent

Go and check that one out in full as well…it is good too.

Oh, and don’t forget to eat your Wheaties! A Former Secretary of State Is Now on a Box of Wheaties | Mediaite

But with all these links on women, there was some sad news a couple of weeks ago: Jerrie Mock, First Solo Female Pilot to Circumnavigate the Globe, Dies at 88 – NYTimes.com

Jerrie Mock, who as a relatively untested pilot accomplished in 1964 what Amelia Earhart could not — becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world — died on Tuesday at her home in Quincy, Fla., near Tallahassee. She was 88.

Photo

Jerrie Mock in the Spirit of Columbus, the single-engine Cessna 180 she piloted around the world in 1964. Credit Robert W. Klein/Associated Press

Her grandson Chris Flocken confirmed her death.

When she took off on March 19, 1964, from Columbus, Ohio, Ms. Mock was a 38-year-old homemaker and recreational pilot who had logged a meager 750 hours of flight time. She returned there on April 17 — 29 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes later — after a 23,000-mile journey over the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Pacific, with stops in the Azores, Casablanca, Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok and Honolulu, among other places.

She was stalled by high winds in Bermuda and battled rough weather between Casablanca and Bone, Algeria. She navigated 1,300 miles over the Pacific from Guam to tiny Wake Island, three miles in diameter, without the benefit of ground signals. Between Bangkok and Manila, she flew over embattled Vietnam.

“Somewhere not far away a war was being fought,” she wrote later, “but from the sky above, all looked peaceful.”

The thing she said when asked about why she made the trip is a perfect answer…

Ms. Mock and her husband, Russell, were half-owners of the plane, an 11-year-old single-engine Cessna 180 named the Spirit of Columbus (evoking the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Charles Lindbergh flew in becoming the first to cross the Atlantic solo 37 years earlier).

The Mocks’ plane had been modified for the journey. Three of its four seats had been removed and fuel tanks were installed in their place. And the radio and navigational equipment had been augmented, although as she recounted in her 1970 book, “Three-Eight Charlie” (a reference to the plane’s serial number, which ended in 38C), she soon discovered that a crucial radio wire had been disconnected, leaving her cut off from the ground during the first leg of the trip, to Bermuda.

That summer, Flying magazine asked Ms. Mock why she had undertaken such a treacherous journey alone.

“It was about time a woman did it,” she said.

And that is all we have on links that focus primarily on women.

O.K.
Just a little pinprick.
There’ll be no more aaaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it’s working, good.
That’ll keep you going through the show
Come on it’s time to go.

There is a story over at the Times which hits home for me: Unable to Meet the Deductible or the Doctor – NYTimes.com

Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.

But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best.

“To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.”

About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.

Once my family gets our insurance sorted out, I will have a long post about it, because it really is a frightening mess.

The rest of today’s links are in dump format:

11551cac58847b2c364753828245ef0dWhy some newspapers are abandoning endorsements Editors see a risk to credibility, and search for different ways to foster debate -: Columbia Journalism Review

Perhaps it is because of assholes like this?

Rick Perry’s demented world order: Why this man can get nowhere near the White House – Salon.com

Hey…in other turd news: Hurricane Gonzalo Sucked the Water Out of People’s Toilets in Bermuda

Okay, that was a stretch. But what about some other science links?

See one of the year’s best meteor showers, thanks to Halley’s comet

dfb80cb75000b46cbc240ec01601fc3bHow Whooshes and Beeps Can Make Babies Better Listeners – The Atlantic

U.S. Dust Bowl Conditions Not Rivaled in 1,000 Years – Scientific American

Yeah up next….Book Reviews:

Their Struggles: Bristol Palin & Malala Yousafzai’s Memoirs, Compared -Now that is one hell of a compare and contrast theme.

And then there is the controversy about the new Scrabble dictionary: New Scrabble Dictionary Disrepects The Game | FiveThirtyEight

Hmmm….how about some books about film directors?

New Book Explores Masculinity in Scorsese Films | New Republic

Silent Movie Bookshelf: Charlie Chaplin – A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd | Movies Silently

This next link is not a book review, but it is an article, originally published on December 6, 1954… about one of my favorite authors: In Praise of Oscar Wilde, on His Birthday | New Republic

f51e0b8e3f6366d6b0e4bdeb456ebf57Back to Hollywood:

Hollywood’s men in black: A history of cinema’s favourite colour from Brando to The Matrix – Features – Fashion – The Independent

Review: Princess Kaguya (Just Watch It Already!) | The Mary Sue

Early 20th C. Sphinx Recovered in California – Archaeology Magazine

Here is a hint…”I must have killed more people than Cecil B DeMile.” Jim- Blazing Saddles

This leads us to our history section of the thread:

a21b8145676475d1c0943be69d311c7cA Century Later, Relics Emerge From a War Frozen in Time-Retreating ice in the Alps sheds new light on high-altitude battle in World War I.

Are Government Acts still translated into Norman French? – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

The Relationship of Light and Colour in Medieval Thought and Imagination-Medeivalist.net

A quick segue to court themed articles and links:

Horrible Legislation In American History  : Lawyers, Guns & Money

Court vacates restraining order that barred journalist from contacting Georgia county commission candidate – The Washington Post

Georgia Reporter Served With Stay-Away Order After Writing Critical Profile Of Candidate

09524b15857b08aad3295cb10a62c667Now for something funny:

SNL’s Impoverished Africans Ask Bill Hader for More Than 39 Cents a Day, or Else… | Mediaite

You need to go to that link to watch the video clip…but don’t watch it while your drinking that 39 cent coffee…or you may choke on your java beverage.

We are getting near the end of our post…so the next few links deal with a subject that y’all know is quite an obsession for me:

Woman who slept with dwarf stripper at her bachelorette party gives birth to dwarf  – NY Daily News

This is the headline that Digby thought was hilarious: Dwarf stripper impregnates bride-to-be at her bachelorette party – Los Angeles Strange News | Examiner.com

While reading that NY Daily News piece…this other midget story got my attention: Dwarf on dinner date with fiancée given coloring book, crayons by waitress – NY Daily News

That is horrible. How could the woman even confuse the dude for a kid? Go look at the picture.

And yes, I know I used the word “midget” …here is a look at that very thing: This Little Person Asked Passersby How They Feel About The Term, ‘Midget’

The term “midget” comes from midge — a small insect that resembles a mosquito.

It’s not a term of endearment, of course, but as Aaron Beelner pointed out in the video above, not too many people realize it’s a “very dehumanizing” way to refer to someone.

In a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, Beelner walked the streets of New York City asking strangers about their thoughts on the term. He also pointed out that October is Dwarfism Awareness Month — a fact no passerby in the video knew.

Beelner stars in “The Little Tin Man,” a film following the life of a struggling dwarf actor that Beelner said is relevant to any minority group fighting for equality.

There are many variations of dwarfism, a condition where an adult’s height does not surpass 4 feet 10 inches, according to the Mayo Clinic. But the most common type among short-limbed dwarfs, achondroplasia, occurs in 1 in 15,000 to 40,000 newborns, as the National Human Genome Research Institute noted.

I still have a hard time giving up that word midget…sorry. I don’t mean disrespect. If anything my admiration is something beyond anything I can explain or control. It goes way back…

Me and my cousin David at a family wedding...I'm around 4 years old, and in the back of the photo...a midget in a tux with a flower in the lapel.

My cousin David and I at a family wedding…I’m around 4 years old, and look in the back of the photo…a midget in a tux complete with a flower in the lapel.

And that leads me to the final link. It has a combination of three things I adore, and I hope you love it too. The Men Of Flamenco: Meet The Dancers Who Turn Gender-Based Traditions Upside Down  It is a photo gallery that includes Flamenco dancers…naked gorgeous men (The one photo on the cover of the book is tasty.)…and….

slide_375322_4387192_free

They are magnificent!

That post should have taken you all day! LOL

 There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.


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.

images (1)
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: 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? 

 


Friday Reads: Darwin’s Grab Bag

Good Morning!

platypus-2 Temple came home last night in our latest battle against heartworms. She got two shots and now has two distinct shave marks on each hip. She’s sort’ve a last of the Mahican swamp dog right now. She’s hanging out on the bed which is the good and bad news. The cats have been having a happy dance celebration there for a few days thinking it was once again cat territory. They’ve now been disabused of that notion.  So there’s a lot of odd news that came out today.  Both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are said to be considering presidential runs.  Republicans seem to find themselves caught between the aristocratic yawn zone and crazy town.

Let’s start with crazy town first.  It seems more likely to wake you up. I thought I’d remind you that ISIL isn’t the only set of religious whackos out to rule the world.   This brings us to the “values voters” summit which is always good for shock and awe.  Yes, folks, some of these people live in your neighborhood and vote for politicians that seem to have genuine mental issues.  But, among the funniest things I found about this year’s group of whackadoos is a hat tip to Jewish Americans as the summit proceeds to trample all over their Holy Holidays.  Yes, they really are Jew-friendly.  Forget all that Jews killed Jesus anger of the past.  Or not.

For all the effort that the conservative movement has put into trying to woo Jewish voters, the timing of the Values Voter Summit, one of the top conservative events of the year, has been a real shanda.

The summit, organized by the Family Research Council, has been held for the past nine years in either September or October at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C. The problem is that, in the eight times that the event has been held, it has coincided three times with Rosh Hashanah and twice with Yom Kippur. The event is coming back to D.C. this weekend, where it will once again conflict with Rosh Hashanah.

Bethany Mandel, a former editor at the conservative Commentary, first pointed out this unhappy coincidence on Twitter. Mandel told The Daily Beast that the timing of the conference was very “frustrating.” In her opinion, “a lot of the Value Voter’s positions could align with those of Jews, particularly the Orthodox.”
“Evangelicals, and conservatives in general, are really limiting themselves by not looking outside the box and seeking Orthodox Jewish support on common ground issues”

Mandel noted “there’s a general unease among Jews about becoming involved in conservative politics and with Christians in particular, because they feel unwelcome and nervous about people just trying to convert them.” Needless to say, scheduling major events on the Jewish High Holidays does nothing to assuage those concerns.

“Evangelicals, and conservatives in general, are really limiting themselves by not looking outside the box and seeking Orthodox Jewish support on common ground issues,” she said.

But not all Jewish conservatives seemed to mind. Noah Pollak, the executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, shrugged off the issue. “The organizers and attendees of the Values Voter Summit are not just strongly pro-Israel, but genuinely pro-Jewish as well,” said Pollak. “The world would be a better place if more people felt about Jews the way those associated with the Values Voter Summit do and I wish them a successful conference this year.”

Oy. This conference always provides some major hate right before the elections.  So much, that a group of ministers in Louisiana from mainstream denominations begged our Governor to refuse the invite for a change.  I guess Presbyterians dffdfc4c3f75b0ebaed06e75d096687fand mainstream Catholics just don’t have that old time religion vibe.  That, or they’re not likely to like my governor who I swear is a sociopath.   I remember when I learned that being a Methodist wasn’t actually being a real christian.  Sure was a surprise to me!

A group of Louisiana religious leaders is urging Gov.  to reconsider attending the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which begins Friday in Washington, D.C.

The group of 13 leaders sent a letter to Jindal with their request. They hailed from various denominations of Christianity including Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian and Catholic.

The leaders feel Jindal, a Catholic, should avoid the FRC summit because the organization has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their repeated “use of known falsehoods to attack and demonize members of the LGBT community.”

“As Pope Francis recently said, ‘When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person,'” the leaders wrote in their letter.

The leaders recognized that Jindal is opposed to same-sex marriage, but said that shouldn’t mean he should embrace an “extremist” organization.

Jindal’s office said the governor would attend the event.

“The great thing about America is that we believe in religious liberty and people have the right to express their beliefs,” said Deputy Communications Director Shannon Bates. “We’re glad the folks who issued this letter have this right. We look forward to speaking to the Values Voter Summit about religious liberty.”

The summit was created in 2006 to “provide a forum to help inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong,” according to its website.

Jindal is a scheduled speaker at this year’s event, which includes a number of high-profile national figures that include Sarah Palin, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Oliver North and Glenn Beck, to name a few.

ba295b92d9479f59ff5268db5f5de262Wow, it seems that there should be a critical level of crazy at that conference.   So, I’ve found some rather disheartening news about what is funding all this insanity and I’m afraid we’re going to be stuck with it for some time.  First, I’d like to recommend this Rolling Stone piece on the Koch Brothers and their toxic empire. 

In “the science of success,” Charles Koch highlights the problems created when property owners “don’t benefit from all the value they create and don’t bear the full cost from whatever value they destroy.” He is particularly concerned about the “tragedy of the commons,” in which shared resources are abused because there’s no individual accountability. “The biggest problems in society,” he writes, “have occurred in those areas thought to be best controlled in common: the atmosphere, bodies of water, air. . . .”

But in the real world, Koch Industries has used its political might to beat back the very market-based mechanisms – including a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution – needed to create the ownership rights for pollution that Charles says would improve the functioning of capitalism.

In fact, it appears the very essence of the Koch business model is to exploit breakdowns in the free market. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free. It racks up enormous profits from speculative trades lacking economic value that drive up costs for consumers and create risks for our economy.

The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet. Now nearing 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a protection racket for Koch Industries’ profits – Charles Koch is not about to see the light. Nor does the CEO of one of America’s most toxic firms have any notion of slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans: “I’m going to ride my bicycle till I fall off.”

Here’s hoping that bicycle meets a semi head on.

So we know that the libertarians and the tea party are full speed ahead.  What about the stodgy face of Republican Politics?  Well, cheer up!  We may get another Bush to kick around.   Is he really prepping for a run?  

It’s looking more and more like the 2016 presidential race will include John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, the former governor of Florida and a favorite of centrist Wall Street Republicans.

Bush, who friends say will make a final decision after the November midterm elections, is said to be deep in preparation on issues beyond his traditional areas of focus on education and immigration policy.

One person who met with Bush recently told me the former governor spoke passionately on foreign policy and economics and sounded very much like someone who plans to mount a presidential campaign. This person said Bush’s main concern remains the impact of a campaign on his family, particularly his wife Columba, who does not like politics or the limelight.

And even if Columba Bush manages to tolerate a campaign, people close the family ask, could she accept the public role demanded of first ladies?

But others say the family concerns are overblown and that barring a late change of heart, Bush is almost certain to run. These people say Bush’s father, former president George H.W. Bush, strongly urged his son to mount a campaign at a recent gathering at the family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

9b0e086f36387d1cecf928e7b436c893Well, isn’t that special? Will the right wing conspiracy focus on him or Hillary?  Here’s a great list of companies for you to add to your boycott list.

The NCF was created, back in 1982 or so, to maximize hard right-wing evangelical Christian philanthropic giving. It was so novel and complex, the architects got a special ruling from the IRS, to make sure it was legal. The NCF has multiple overlapping legal entities and holding companies, but at the core is a huge donor-advised fund. The NCF is now the 12th biggest charitable foundation in America that raises money from private sources.

“The story of the politicized religious right is one of the biggest untold stories of our time.”
Since its founding, the NCF has given away over $4.3 billion, $2.5 billion of it in the last three years. The NCF gave away $601,841,675 in 2012—and is estimated to have given out $670 million in 2013.

One reason the NCF, a donor-advised fund, has been so successful is that it ensures anonymity for its philanthropists. Many of these individuals may fear a backlash, given the controversial causes that they support.

But we do know about the NCF’s leadership. Two of the NCF co-founders were tied to Campus Crusade for Christ, and the late Larry Burkett, a NCF co-founder, was also one of the co-founders of the Alliance Defense Fund/Alliance Defending Freedom, now the religious right’s preeminent umbrella legal defense fund. NCF’s other co-founder, Atlanta tax lawyer Terrence Parker, sits on the board of directors of the Family Research Council, and also The Gathering Foundation, which puts on The Gathering.

From 2001-12, the NCF gave $163,384,998 to leading anti-LGBT organizations. These include Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), Campus Crusade for Christ (aka CRU), the National Organization for Marriage, and the Alliance for Marriage. They fund ex-gay ministries like Exodus International, exporters of homophobia like Advocates International, you name it.

The NCF is just getting started, though. The Green family—who were at The Gathering in 2008 and 2013—have said they intend to leave much of their fortune to it. And in 2009, Hobby Lobby-related contributions were the No. 1 source of NCF funding (about $54 million), which we know because Eli Clifton, funded by The Nation Institute, somehow got hold of an NCF 2009 990 Schedule B form, which shows NCF’s top funders that year (Hobby Lobby was No. 1, Maclellan Foundation No. 2).
On another note, Chick-fil-A’s VP and CFO, James “Buck” McCabe, is on the board of the NCF, and in 1999 no less than three of Chick-fil-A’s top leaders spoke at The Gathering (S. Truett Cathy, Dan Cathy, and Don “Bubba” Cathy).

Having worked in philanthropy myself, I can say that these figures are astounding. The leading private funder of LGBT issues gives out about $16 million a year. Which other funders will be there?

Other major players include the John Templeton Foundation ($104,863,836 in 2012 grants), the Barnaby Foundation ($39,939,489), the Christian Community Foundation (an NCF “spinoff”), and the family foundations of the DeVos families (including Rich DeVos, one of the original funders of the Christian Right), Howard & Roberta Ahmanson (operating as Fieldstead & Company—and among the most notorious right-wing funders in America), Adolph Coors, and many others.

Interestingly, some more secular right-wing funders—Scaife, Olin, Bradley—are not known to attend The Gathering.cf5c079b2323056f98ece7f7da3a47db

That’s a lot of bucks and clucks.

Okay, so I’ve featured some about Bobby Jindal today and I’ve also fond some pix of some really cute unusual animals.  I’m going to end with Bobby Jindal and a good question from blogger and intrepid fellow Lousyianan Lamar White.  Check out Bobby’s official photo—over exposed and whitened like a molar–and a press photo.  Do some of these folks get attached to the Republican Party because they hate themselves deep down inside?  We’ve talked about women with Stockholm Syndrome and self-loathing gay men who join the Log Cabin association, where does little Peyush fit?

Of course, we are now the prison capital of the world, and entire generations of predominately African-American men are locked behind bars for decades for non-violent crimes. Last session, legislators approved a bill that would provide 99-year minimum mandatory prison sentences for repeat heroin dealers, because locking people up for the rest of their lives on drug charges is a whole lot easier than addressing the underlying problems.

We are told that Obamacare is somehow a nefarious socialist ploy, and while we deny billions of dollars to expand access to health care services for those who need them the most, we simultaneously also offer billions in incentives for wealthy multi-national corporations willing to set up shop; our rich may be getting richer, but our poor are also getting poorer. Our sick are getting sicker.

And we are being led by, no doubt, a preternaturally smart guy, a man who changed his own name from Piyush to Bobby when he was four, who converted from Hinduism to Catholicism when he was eighteen, allegedly because he was so torn up by Roe v. Wade, who declared exorcisms could cure cancer when he was twenty, an experience he wrote about in one of the world’s leading Catholic journals, and who, in his early forties, essentially torched his own college degree in biology from Brown University, enacting laws that allow the teaching of New Earth Creationism as “science” in Louisiana public schools. “I’m not an evolutionary biologist,” he recently explained to the few people left in the world who still don’t realize that all biologists are, in fact, evolutionary biologists.

But Bobby Jindal’s official portrait (on the left) on the fourth floor of the Capitol building is, perhaps, the best example of what I’m talking about. Sometimes, a picture can speak 1,000 words, and these juxtapositions should.

Please book mark CENLAMAR because Jindal’s going to run for President and I don’t want him to inflict any more damage any where else.  Lamar really stays on top of things and I think you’ll find him useful for any of your crazy republicandownload uncles or aunts that want to use Jindal as a sign of “No Racism here” in the Republican Party. I’d say using portraits that are overexposed to lighten the appearance of your skin color makes a statement.

So, there just seems to be a lot of folks getting creative with the gospels these days.  How about an evangelical Bob, Ted,and Carol and Alice?   I should mention that Bob has pink hair and they are putting a twist on loving thy neighbor.

Devout Christians looking to spread the word of God sometimes need to get creative about where they’re preaching—after all, anywhere could be the right place to convert an unbeliever. So why not discuss Bible verses with the guy you’ve invited over to fuck your wife?

For Florida couple Dean and Christy Parave, their swingers’ lifestyle doesn’t conflict with their deeply-held Christian beliefs. Rather, it provides an outlet where they can share the gospel (along with sexual partners). “I’m getting to people that probably never even visited church,” says Dean. “Hey, God’s not gonna put a lion with a bunch of elephants, so what’s he gonna do? He’s gonna put a swinger with a bunch of swingers to spread his word.”

Preach.

Christy is solidly on board: “I feel like right now, this is God’s plan.”

44503-ilyke.net-large-27God’s a swinger!  Who knew!  What happened to all that Old Testament wrath on adultery?

So, that’s enough from me.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?