Tuesday Reads: Evil is as Evil Does

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Good Morning!!!

I really don’t want this to turn into a mini version of my mom’s rants on “people are no damn good”  that I grew up hearing as frequently as some kids hear bed and supper time prayers.  However, it seems that some of the things I’m reading these days just cry out for mom’s mantra on the nature of humanity.  The last few days have seen a constant stream of evil on parade.

On Sunday, David Koch tried to convince ABC viewers that he wasn’t real “evil” because he actually was socially liberal.  Yeah, lot of good that does us when every National Park is timber and animal free, fresh water has been fracked into nonexistence, and every school in America never turns out another scientist.  Doesn’t this guy have enough money yet that he can just quit destroying the planet like some cartoon villain?

“I’m basically a libertarian and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal,” Koch responded.

Walters then asked Koch why he uses his wealth to elect socially conservative candidates if he supports gay rights and a woman’s right to choose.

“Well, that’s their problem. I do have those views,” he said.

“What I want these candidates to do is to support a balanced budget,” he added. “I’m very worried that if the budget is not balanced that inflation could occur and the economy of our country could suffer terribly.”

Asked whether he thought it was fair that he’s able to influence elections because of his vast wealth, Koch said that he obeys federal limits on how much he can contribute to individual candidates.

But Koch and his brother, Charles, also donate large sums to support the arts and other philanthropic causes. Walters asked why, then, Koch has developed a reputation as an “evil billionaire.”

“Well, I don’t understand that,” he said.

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Yeah, he sure has his priorities straight.  Fuck People. Fuck the Planet.  Fuck the Economy.  Just don’t fuck with my right to exploit every resource every where possible.

PolitiFact has named it’s Lie of the Year, 2014.  Yup, it’s the damned hyped-up exaggerations on Ebola just ready made to prime the outrage pump of dumb red state Americans.  Notice we heard nothing more about it once Fox News turned out its idiot viewership to let lose the plague of congressional republican locusts on the nation?

Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.

The claims — all wrong — distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014.

PolitiFact editors choose the Lie of the Year, in part, based on how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking. In 2013, it was the promise made by President Barack Obama and other Democrats that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” While no singular line about Ebola matched last year’s empty rhetoric about health care, the statements together produced a dangerous and incorrect narrative.

PolitiFact and PunditFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire on our Truth-O-Meter in 2014. Ten of those claims came in October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.

The Northern White Rhino will likely go extinct in a few years because a lot of Chinese Men are worried about Dick Performance.  There are only five left now and they are all elderly and in Zoos and Reserves.   This just makes me want to cry and hate people.

A northern white rhino has died at a San Diego zoo, leaving only five worldwide and bringing the species closer to extinction.

Angalifu, 44, died of old age Sunday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park announced that Angalifu, one of six remaining northern white rhinos in the world, died Sunday.\nCredit: \tSan Diego Zoo/Helene Hoffman\n
San Diego Zoo Safari Park announced that Angalifu, one of six remaining northern white rhinos in the world, died Sunday. Credit: San Diego Zoo/Helene Hoffman

“With Angalifu’s passing, only five northern white rhinos are left on the planet, including Nola, our elderly female,” the zoo said in a statement.

He was one of a handful of northern white rhinos left worldwide, including a few at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya. There are no known northern white rhinos left in the wild.

Northern white rhinos and southern white rhinos are different subspecies genetically.

Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the northern white rhino as “teetering on the brink of extinction.”

Rhinos are killed by poachers almost exclusively for their horns, which sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

Experts say that rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs. The demand is driven primarily by buyers in East Asia, who believe it cures a series of ailments.

Meanwhile, pregnant women are being victimized by state laws and health officials that can’t seem to keep their religious views to themselves. A woman was placed in jail because of Wisconsin’s personhood law.  The woman’s not a person, but war-on-womenthe 14 week old fetus evidently is now and can be protected on the word of any religious hysteric that happens to be a nurse.  Here’s a story where the state put lives at risk out of the concern of religious zealots that believe that women can’t be trusted to be pregnant.  Here’s a story that violates every citizen’s right to privacy and every health care giver’s oath to do no harm.

Tamara Loerstcher was suffering from an untreated thyroid condition and depression and had begun to self medicate with drugs when, in late July 2014, she suspected she might also be pregnant. Loerstcher, uninsured at the time, went to an Eau Claire, Wisconsin, hospital for medical treatment and to confirm her pregnancy.

After submitting to a urinalysis, Loerstcher disclosed her past drug use to hospital workers. But instead of caring for Loerstcher, who as it turns out was 14 weeks pregnant, hospital workers had her jailed.

Those are the allegations in a soon-to-be-filed federal civil rights lawsuit by attorneys from National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the Carr Center for Reproductive Justice at New York University School of Law, and the Perkins Coie law firm.

Loerstcher and her attorneys, in a call with reporters, detailed her experience, including her alleged mistreatment by Wisconsin officials and the ongoing deprivation of Loerstcher’s constitutional rights under a Wisconsin law that grants authorities the power to involuntarily detain and confine a pregnant woman for substance use if she “habitually lacks self-control” and her substance use poses a “substantial risk” to the health of an egg, embryo, or fetus.

The Wisconsin policy is similar in nature to radical “personhood” laws pushed in state legislatures controlled by anti-choice lawmakers. “Personhood” amendments, which would outlaw abortion at any stage of pregnancy, were roundly rejected by voters in several states on Election Day.

According to Loertscher and her attorneys, unbeknownst to her, as hospital workers were preparing a prescription to treat Loertscher’s thyroid condition, they were also initiating unborn child protection proceedings on behalf of Loertscher’s then 14-week-old fetus.

Loertscher and her attorneys claim that within days of Loertscher seeking care, hospital workers had already turned over Loerstcher’s hospital records to the state without Loerstcher’s knowledge or consent. They also claim that with those records in hand, state officials filed a petition accusing Loerstcher of abuse of an unborn child and held a hearing in which the state had appointed an attorney, known as a guardian ad litem, for the 14-week-old fetus, but granted Loerstcher no meaningful representation.

At the hearing, Loertscher and her attorneys allege she was ordered by the court into in-patient treatment even though she had not used drugs recently and voluntarily sought medical care. When Loerstcher refused to go to in-patient treatment, she was held in contempt of court and sent to jail, where she was held for 17 days without prenatal care and subject to abuse and harassment.

“This was my first pregnancy, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Loerstcher told reporters. “I was having lots of cramping and a lot of stress from everything and they [jail officials] wouldn’t allow me to see the doctor. They told me I would have to see a jail-appointed doctor who told me she wanted me to take a pregnancy test to confirm the pregnancy even though that’s why I was in jail, because I was pregnant. They knew that’s why I was there.”

Loerstcher claims she refused the pregnancy test, and in response, correction officials put her in solitary confinement and threatened to use a taser on her. “The jail doctor told me if I chose to miscarry, there wasn’t anything they could do about it anyways,” Loertscher said through tears.

About a week after Loerstcher’s release, she says she got a notice in the mail from the state stating they had found she had engaged in child abuse.

“It was really devastating to get that letter,” said Loerstcher. Unless it’s overturned on appeal, Loerstcher’s name will appear on the state’s child abuse registry for life. That would mean Loerstcher, who is a certified nurse’s aid, would be unable to work in her field, noted her attorney, and that she would be barred from ever volunteering at her son’s school after he is born in January. “This has very serious ramifications for her life and economic stability long term,” said Sara Ainsworth, director of legal advocacy at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and counsel for Loerstcher.

In order to be released from jail, Loertscher had to sign a consent decree agreeing to additional drug tests, so she remains under state custody to some extent, her lawyer said.

GOP and WomenMore evidence that Republicans can’t be trusted to govern as written by Steve Benen.   No idiot media seeking continual bipartisanship, there  simply is no Bipartisanship Santa.  A vote for a Republican is a vote for a destroyed economy, a destroyed ecosystem, a destroyed school system, and a lot of disenfranchised Americans who will have their rights stripped away quickly.

Just one month later, there’s already ample evidence that those assumptions about Republican maturity were completely wrong.
Republican Tom Price, the incoming House Budget Committee chairman, said his party could demand steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling next year, the most provocative comments by a senior GOP member to date on how negotiations could play out.
The Georgia congressman, during an hour-long briefing with reporters Friday, said the expected mid-2015 debate over whether to raise or suspend the debt ceiling offered Republicans an opportunity to make a sizable imprint on government policy.
The far-right Georgian added that he wants to see Republicans bring back the so-called “Boehner rule” – an arbitrary policy that demands a dollar in cuts for every dollar increase in the debt limit – that even Republicans recognized as ridiculous a couple of years ago.
“I prefer to think about it as opportunities and pinch points,” Price said, apparently using “pinch points” as a euphemism for “causing deliberate national harm.”
It’s worth emphasizing that Price isn’t some random, fringe figure, shouting from the sidelines – the Georgia Republican next month will fill Paul Ryan’s shoes as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
In other words, it matters that Price envisions a strategy in which Republicans threaten to hurt Americans on purpose unless Democrats meet the GOP’s demands.
That said, Price would be wise to start lowering expectations – his intention to create a deliberate crisis will almost certainly fail.
The gist of the plan is effectively identical to the scheme hated by House Republicans in 2011. Next year, the Treasury Department will alert Congress to the fact that it’s time to borrow the funds necessary to pay for the things Congress has already bought. As Price sees it, the GOP-led Congress will tell the Obama administration, “We’ll cooperate, but only if you slash public investments. If not, we’ll default on our debts, crash the economy, and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States.”
Why Price or anyone else would want to slash public investments right now – hurting the economy, just as the recovery gains steam – is a bit of a mystery.

No conversation on evil can forget Dick Cheney. I’m not sure how close you’ve been following the Dick Cheney Torture-rama Press tour, but it’s pretty disgusting.  I’m usually not up for Conor Friedersdorf, but even he thinks Cheney’s an Evil Dickhead.  Cheney’s interview with Chuck Todd on Sunday was like watching one of those mad scientist movies.

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That exchange leaves no room for mistaking former vice-president Cheney’s position: better to chain a man to the wall of a cell, douse him in cold water, and leave him there to freeze to death, even if he later turns out to be innocent, than to release that same man and risk not that he detonates a nuclear bomb in Manhattan, but that he ends up “on the battlefield,” where there’s a chance he could harm Americans. What if fully one-in-four prisoners tortured by the CIA were innocent?

Cheney is still unmoved:

CHUCK TODD:

Is that too high? You’re okay with that margin for error?

DICK CHENEY:

I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.

The ends justify the means.

There is no clearer illustration of the morally corrosive nature of torture than the once unthinkable position that Dick Cheney is unashamedly espousing on television. The position is even less defensible than the conceit that the Office of Legal Counsel defines what torture is. It is so indefensible that Cheney himself can scarcely maintain it.

You have to wonder where you measure on the vast barometer of human sewage if Conor Friedersorf won’t defend your evil ass as a former Republican ‘Conservative” Vice President.

Jon Stewart for the win, however.  “Puppet Master Cheney’s mind” is “the scariest fucking place in the universe.” 

“George W. Bush, thank you for not dying while you were in office,” Stewart said to the former president.

When pressed by Todd to explain his definition of torture following the release of a Senate report criticizing the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” procedures, Cheney continually defined torture as the events of the 9/11 attacks.

“I see — that’s just what meets the definition of torture in his mind,” Stewart said. “His mind, I assume, being the scariest f*cking place in the universe.”

Stewart then tried to get a peek inside the “presidential puppet master’s” mind, only to find a scene out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

“Never took him for a brony,” Stewart observed.

What set Cheney apart, Stewart explained, was his ability to set the “moral bar” for the U.S. at anything just shy of the worst thing that had been done to the country, as well as his confidence.

“He’s impervious to doubt,” Stewart said. “It never enters his mind that the confident, plain-spoken pronouncements of truth are often times complete bullsh*t.”

shutterstock_101263915-800x430There, name that republican presidential candidate for 2016 over in that line up.  Whichever one gets on the ballot, there will be a Koch entering his backside. My guess is that he’ll have Dick Cheney on the campaign trail for him too.

 And, yes, David Koch is Evil.  Amanda Marcotte gets it right.

Here’s the thing about men like David Koch: Making money is basically just a video game to them. For the rest of us, making money is about being able to pay for things we need and want, such as rent and food and actual video games. But David Koch has made so much money that he literally cannot spend it all. There is nothing he would want to buy he cannot already afford. The only purpose at this point in making more money is for the pleasure of beating your high score. In other words, it really is just a very consuming video game. But unlike when you kill people in Call of Duty or crush candies in Candy Crush, the game David Koch is playing is very real. Millions of people will suffer and die because he wants to “win” his video game by manipulating the public to avoid taking action on global warming. That is evil and hateful and selfish on a level that puts the word “selfish” to shame.

And no, being pro-choice and pro-gay doesn’t make up for it. That’s like having a hobby of strangling kittens and then saying it’s all good because you donate clothes to Goodwill once in awhile. Worse, actually, because David Koch isn’t actually pro-choice in any meaningful sense, because he gives money to anti-choice activists, as documented by Adele Stan at RH Reality CheckThe Koch brothers give money to right wing umbrella groups, who then give it to anti-choicers. Why is fairly obvious. This is about manipulating misogynist, anti-sex hysteria in order to elect politicians who are on board with the anti-environmentalist agenda. A manipulation that is, in itself, evil on a couple of levels, both because you’re manipulating people and because you’re engaging bad people who have bad motivations to hurt and control others. It’s terrible, hateful behavior all the way down.

With that, I’ll leave you to grade papers.  I’m pretty sick of humanity at the moment and I do not understand how any one with a will to survive could vote Republican anymore.

Anyway, I dare y’all to find good news today.  Please!!!


Monday Reads: No Joy in Mudville

Good Morning!

10606019_830737330303137_5287611947599042743_nWell, the Southern Strategy is alive and well and still working in the South where Republicans have officially run a campaign for a know nothing and do nothing crook based on absolutely nothing but racist dog whistles.  The whistles were really loud and clear. They worked too.

All you have to do is ask a Cassidy voter what said congressman voted for or against, or what he stands for or against, or anything based on issues or record. They go silent. Ask them about the fact he is now under investigation for bilking Louisiana taxpayers out of money and ignoring the details of his outside work agreement granted by Congress and they scream “they are all crooks”. This is just a new one.  The only other thing they say is that “Miss Piggy” is with Obama and Obama is bad  and then they add something about not being racist and trying to be politically correct but Obama has run the country into the ground.  Then, they ignore any and all contrary facts and accuse you of dissing their valid opinions because you are a libtard and a sore loser.

They cannot tell you not one thing about him other than he’s not a white woman in the party that brought you a black president.  I am clearly appalled by the audacity of it all.

Many African-Americans saw Cassidy’s TV ads as a primer in race-baiting. The spots evoked the primal myth of the Old South in which white womanhood must be defended. In ads that ran around the clock, viewers saw Landrieu’s face pictured cheek-to-jowl with the black president like uneasy lovers in a Valentine.

“They’re pandering to the lowest common denominator,” bristled Stanley Taylor, a retired African-American member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, speaking by cell phone as he canvassed voters before the election. “Those spots are racist and totally dismissive of people’s ability to figure out their own self-interest.”

The blowback of racial politics marks the end of an era that began in 1970 when the senator’s father, Moon Landrieu, as the newly-elected mayor of New Orleans ushered African-Americans into local government, while guiding an era of dramatic urban growth. New Orleans had a white voting majority at the time; today it is about 60% African-American.

“Rather than suggest some policy objectives, it’s been easier for the Cassidy campaign to enflame racial fear to motivate Republican voters,” brooded community organizer Jacques Morial, whose father Dutch was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans, succeeding Moon in 1978. His brother Marc later served two terms as mayor and is today president of the Urban League.

Landrieu’s loss showed yet again that the great power in American politics is to make people believe that something false is true. Cassidy’s campaign recast the three-term senator as a projection of the black president largely reviled by the majority of white voters here, as in the rest of the South.

I’ve found a bevy of ways that white folks can say they’re not racist while saying racist things.  One of my major clues is when they start any sentence “I’m not racist”.  I’ve been astonished at the number of racist things people say shortly after they couch it with “I’m not racist but …”   There was a Face the Nation conversation on Racism on Sunday about an interview that the President has given BET that basically states that “Racism is deeply rooted in our Nation”.  This conversation surrounds the recent spate of police murder of unarmed black citizens where threat wasn’t really present. The central pale question was why hasn’t President Obama has made everything all better when it comes to race relations.  I can give you my take.  Many people are so deeply racist that they don’t even see it and refuse to see it.  Others are unabashedly racist and think they’re justified for whatever reason.  Many people seem to just be willfully ignorant which makes me wonder if they will ever learn.  No one black man can overcome years steeped in white privilege just as one woman serving in a public office can’t overcome years of shoving women into subservient roles based on outdated notions.  It’s not their fault.  The faults lie within us.tumblr_mjway6L5L91rast55o2_1280

In a special segment, “BET News Presents: A Conversation with President Barack Obama,” the president will help find meaningful solutions to unrest after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner sparked nationwide protests.

“This isn’t going to be solved overnight,” Obama said in an excerpt of the interview to air Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.

The interview, hosted by BET host and TV journalist Jeff Johnson, marks the president’s first network discussion outlining his strategy to investigate the incidents and ways the country can unify during this time.

“This is something that’s deeply rooted in our society, deeply rooted in our history. But the two things that will allow us to solve it: Number one: Is the understanding that we have made progress and so it’s important to recognize that as painful as these instances are, we can’t equate what’s happening now with what was happening 50 years ago. If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better,”

Speaking to youth on the music-variety series targeting African Americans, Obama also cited “progress” as the second most critical step.

Charles Blow was one of the speaker’s on the Face of Nation segment which debated the progress made or unmade in race relations since the President was elected 6 years ago.  So was David Ignatius.  How is it that so many people can completely miss the institutional differences in the way people are treated simply based on surface differences.  Folks in hoodies are thugs and deserve it. Folks that don’ make the police feel safe must be themselves scary, threatening individuals whose life history must be slandered to protect the guilty. Our white male straight christian culture looks for ways to make every body that’s not them a culpable party.  We’re all deserving of pain and violence simply by not being them. Hoodie wearers deserve to be shot.  Slinky Dress wearers deserve to be raped.  Loving any one outside a sanctioned straight marriage deserves to be bullied and turned away from your business.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Charles, let me — I want to get back to this — this first finding here, that relational — race relations are worse under a Black president than they were under a white president.

>hat — what do you make of that?

CHARLES BLOW, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, I mean they…

SCHIEFFER: Or at least they’re saying that’s what people say — are saying.

BLOW: Right. So — but you have to figure — ask yourself, is it a causal relationship, right?

Is it because of him and something that he has done or is it a reaction to him actually being the president, which is — which is not really about him, but about us, right?

And — and I think that is the bigger question, that is a bigger philosophical question as to how do we respond to people who do not look like us?

Do we believe that they have our interests at heart?

Do we believe that we can — we can identify and — and empathize with that person?

And — and if we cannot, then there’s — we kind of exacerbate something that may already exist in terms of bias, in terms of how we see race relations in this country.

And I think that’s a real question that we have to ask ourselves about who we are and whether or not things were, in fact, better before this president and — and just were kind of underneath the — kind of under the surface.

SCHIEFFER: David, what do you — and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s Barack Obama’s fault.

BLOW: Right.

SCHIEFFER: But I mean I found that stunning, that this would be the finding that a lot of people say that things are worse now than they were.

DAVID IGNATIUS, “WASHINGTON POST”: Sociologists sometimes talk about a revolution of rising expectations, where because of changes, the election of the first African-American president, having Eric Holder, an African-American as our — as our attorney general, people expect things are changing.

And then when they see evidence in these cases where young unarmed black men are being shot and they’re — they’re not — the people who shoot them are not being indicted, there’s a special anger because people thought things were getting better. They thought with this African-American president that it would be different six years on.

And I think that’s part of what’s behind it, is a sense of disappointment. You know, America has had race issues. This is our original sin. And it’s a continuum in our national story.

But I wonder if the explosion of anger now doesn’t have something to do with people saying it should have been better because of the changes we thought the country had made in electing Barack Obama.

SCHIEFFER: And — and it’s not.

IGNATIUS: And it’s not…

(CROSSTALK)

IGNATIUS: Here’s this problem that — I mean how many years have we heard about driving while black as an experience that African- Americans have?

You know, white people hear this, but do we really react?

In A Tight SituationI’ve been experiencing all kinds of deja vu all over again in all kinds of things relating to civil rights issues.  Here’s another clueless white male–David Lowry–on why forcing a woman to return your kiss isn’t a form of sexual assault.  But, but isn’t it cute that I want to invade her body space and physically do things to her she doesn’t want.  She’s not saying no!  She is just being coy so I won’think here a slut!!!  Coy deserves to be force kissed!!!

National Review editor Rich Lowry on Sunday argued that “attempted forced kissing” doesn’t count as sexual assault.

During a discussion about the Rolling Stone story on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, Lowry suggested that the magazine “had an agenda.”

“Rolling Stone didn’t do basic fact-checking here, I believe because they had an agenda to portray UVA as the bastion of white male privilege, where basically rapists rule the social life,” he said.

CNN’s Van Jones then referenced the statistic that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college.

Lowry shot back that the statistic was “bogus” and complained that the survey used “includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault.”

The ABC panelists then berated Lowry for his claim.

“It’s not a crime that the police are going to be involved in and prosecute,” he insisted.

Here’s another cluess white male with his christian privilege showing.  Everybody’s beliefs are made up and not real except his.  Other people’s religions deserve to be ignored.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued over the weekend that a Satanist holiday display should be banned from the Florida state Capitol where a Christian nativity had been erected because they did not practice a “legitimate religion.”

Last week, the Satanic Temple won the right to place a display of an angel burning in hell alongside other holiday displays in the Florida Capitol building after officials initially rejected it, saying the Satanic message was “grossly offensive during the holiday season.”

“I’m assuming that there aren’t a ton of Satanists in Tallahassee,” Carlson told Bible Based Church Pastor Darrick McGhee on Saturday. “I’m assuming there really aren’t any at all, and this is purely an attempt to stick a finger in the eye of Christians in Florida.”

“So the rationale here is that Satanism is legitimate religion,” the Fox News host complained.

McGhee explained that the Satanic Temple had met the guidelines set by Florida’s Department of Management Services.

“They must be pretty stupid guidelines,” Carlson quipped, later adding that Satanist should have chosen any of the “51 other weeks in the year.”

“Just to be totally clear, you would not have an objection if a Jewish group or a Muslim group or a Baha’i group or something legitimate other religion wanted a display in the state capitol, would you?” Carlson wondered.

“No objection whatsoever,” McGhee agreed.

“I mean, this is just an inability to draw reasonable distinctions between reality and what is a pretty offensive prank,” Carlson concluded.cbe0925cd-beliefs-500

And more of this crap from states trying to put white male privilege into law.   Michigan wants to enact a religious right to discriminate.  In other words, if it offends white male christians, they can do whatever they want to the rest of us.

The Michigan House of Representatives, led by Speaker Jase Bolger (photo, above, left, with Gov. Rick Snyder,) just passed a bill that would allow discrimination to become sanction by the state. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, akin to one that made nationwide headlines in Arizona but was vetoed, appears to merely force the government to step aside if a person’s “deeply-held religious beliefs” mandate they act, or not act, in a certain manner.

Supporters of these bills claim they allow people of faith to exercise their religion without government interference, but in reality, they are trojan horses, allowing rampant discrimination under the guise of religious observance.

For example, under the Religious Freedom law, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a doctor’s prescription for birth control, or HIV medication. An emergency room physician or EMT could refuse service to a gay person in need of immediate treatment. A school teacher could refuse to mentor the children of a same-sex couple, and a DMV clerk could refuse to give a driver’s license to a person who is divorced.

Michigan Speaker Bolger fast-tracked the bill, which passed on partisan lines, 59-50. It now heads to the Michigan Senate, and if successful, to Republican Governor Rick Snyder. It is not known if Gov. Snyder would sign it.

“I support individual liberty and I support religious freedom,” Bolger said today. “I have been horrified as some have claimed that a person’s faith should only be practiced while hiding in their home or in their church.”

MLive reports that Michigan’s RFRA is “modeled after a federal version that the Supreme Court has said should not apply to states.”

I’m just having a real difficult time handling all of this.  Sometimes I believe that things will never get better.  Discrimination Nation

How do you fight back?  These folks have media outlets spewing continual hatred and crap.  They’re obviously not beneath running complete nonsense and obvious fear mongering ads and TV programs.  They’re not ashamed to lie or slander.  They also know exactly what to say and do to keep the angry sheep in line.  I’ve got very few answers these days to anything

So, want to play a little Spot the Africa to pass some time?

Have a great day!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Farewell to Senate Dignity

Good Morning!

imrsThe senate leadership meetings and results are good examples of what’s wrong with each party. The Republicans just did it.  They walked out the door. Nobody spoke to the press. All that hoopla about a Ted Cruz revolution turned out to be just that. On the Democratic side, Reid took a public bruising and there were some obvious changes made.

I’ve never been fond of Harry Reid for a variety of reasons.  He keeps giving me more reasons every day to find him unsuited for his job.  Most of them come under a big question of how this man even became a Democrat, let alone a leader?

Mitch McConnell is more like a political operative than a Senator of these United States.  I’ve never seen anyone that appears to take so much joy in tanking his own country and creating memes about things instead of doing things befitting of someone who’s sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

In that vein, here we go with today’s reads.  Mitch McConnell continues to be the concern troll of the right wing instead of acting like a U.S. Senator.

In another sign that the country is in for a tough two years of battles between the White House and Congress, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared Thursday that he was “very disturbed” by President Barack Obama’s recent attempts to exercise his executive powers.

Those include moving ahead on dealing with undocumented immigrants, cutting a deal with China on climate change and suggesting that the Internet should be regulated like a utility under so-called net neutrality rules.

“I’ve been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill soon after his caucus voted to keep him as its leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January.

With Congress gridlocked on many of the president’s agenda items, including immigration, Obama announced in January that he had a “pen and a phone” that he would use to move forward on his own, including signingexecutive orders. Among other things, he raised the wages of government contractors, strengthened protections for gay and transgender workers, and expanded the military actions in Iraq. And he had already angered Republicans by stalling deportations of children and delaying parts of Obamacare.

McConnell argued that the recent elections that expanded the House GOP majority and gave Republicans control of the Senate should have chastened Obama.

“I had maybe naively hoped the president wold look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us,” McConnell said. “I still hope he does at some point, but the early signs are not good.”

He added that Obama should look to some of his predecessors, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, for examples of dealing with a Congress ruled by the opposing party.

“They understood that the American people had elected divided government,” McConnell said. “We’d like for the president to recognize the reality that he has the government that he has, not the one that he wishes he had, and work with us.”

Asked what the GOP would do if Obama insists on pursuing his own agenda, McConnell declined to tip his hand.

2013-02-18-SenatorTedCruzSo, how many executive orders were used by Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan as compared to President Obama? Reagan used a total of 381.  In his first term, he used 213. Clinton used a total of 364 with 200 of them coming in his first term. President Obama has used 193 to date with  147 of them coming from his first term.   Where was McConnell when Dick Cheney was discussing his “robust view” of executive power?  (Yousefzadeh 2012). Yes, I’m quoting an academic paper.

This Book Review discusses Cheney’s conception of executive power. It reflects on the fact that despite Cheney’s Nixon Administration experience with agencies whose missions and activities went against his small-government instincts, Cheney did not become a skeptic of executive power. On the contrary, even as a member of Congress, he sought to safeguard executive power against what he—and others around him—saw as encroachment by Congress.

You can go to the article to read a number of Cheney quotes and examples of policy areas where Cheney clearly thought the Presidency was quite imperial. That was until a black man got elected president by some odd will of the people.  Now, the little would be dictator is a pearl clutching concern troll with the rest of those who have pivoted positions.  

Sitting for an interview to promote wife Lynne Cheney’s new book on James Madison, the former second-in-command said that, though he’s a “big advocate of the strong executive office,” he believes Obama has taken things too far.

“I really feel as though Barack Obama is ignoring the law in many cases, and going far beyond what was ever intended,” he said. “I mean he, all by himself, sort of routinely changes the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, if it suits his will.”

Cheney added that he believes the president teeters the line of unconstitutional behavior.

“I think much of what’s been done does in fact skate up to the edge of violating the constitution in terms of the way he’s interpreted his executive power,” Cheney said.

Only one day earlier, the former vice president was calling Obama “weak” over his his approach to the crisis in Ukraine and confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“He’s demonstrated repeatedly, I think, that he in fact can be pushed around, if you will, by Putin,” Cheney said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

imagesYou might be particularly interested in reading his thoughts and findings on the Iran-Contra Scandal in that paper cited above.  I’ve kept the sources of the footnotes so that you know the exact reports.

Thus, Cheney’s belief that Iran-Contra was “ill-conceived” did little to lessen his belief in the need for a strong Executive Branch. To be sure, the observation in the joint committee minority report that “[n]o president can ignore Congress and be successful over the long term”44 represents a healthy respect for congressional prerogatives. But it is quite notable that in the midst of a scandal involving the failure to properly notify Congress of executive activities, Cheney wanted to make sure that the powers of the Executive Branch would not be circumscribed.
Reflecting on the allegations that Cheney—and others around him—sought to cut out members of Congress from the ability to fully participate in continuity-of-government exercises, it is important to emphasize that whatever one’s view about the possibility of the Speaker of the House or the President pro tem of the Senate succeeding to the presidency if the President and the Vice President are incapacitated or killed, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 calls for exactly that line of succession to be observed in such a circumstance.45 Pursuant to the dictates of the Act, the rest of the government would expect the Speaker, and the President pro tem to succeed to the presidency. To the
extent that some kind of “secret executive order” was put in place to bypass the stipulated line of succession—and it should be noted anew that these claims appear to be rather thinly sourced—then the “secret executive order” in question would take by nasty surprise the rest of the United States government, which would expect the line of succession to the presidency to unfold as the Presidential Succession Act mandated that it should. As such, in any situation in which the Act were invoked, if the implemented line of succession were to differ from what the Act mandates, the result would be greater chaos and disorganization in what would undoubtedly be an already chaotic situation. If Cheney did indeed countenance the bypassing of the Act in secret, then his decision should surely be held irresponsible.

43. Id. at 147 (quoting Minority Report, S. REP. NO. 100-216, H.R. REP. NO. 100-433,
at 438 (1987)).
44. Minority Report, S. REP. NO. 100-216, H.R. REP. NO. 100-433, at 438 (1987).
45. 3 U.S.C. § 19(a)(1), (b) (2006). No. 2 Cheney’s Conception of Presidential Power 379

Mitch McConnell has announced he’s going after Elizabeth Warren so, it’s interesting that Warren is now part of the Democratic Senatorial leadership. Warren is probably one of the few Democratic Senators with a public (read PRESS) platform GR_PR_100514_HarryReidwho also seems to have a set of clear Democratic values to articulate. 

The same corporate interests who have taken over control of Congress are now gaining control of U.S. courts, warned Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Warren told a  gathering Sunday at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California that too many federal judges have been drawn in recent years from the ranks of corporate lawyers and federal prosecutors.

“For the courts to be a level playing field it’s critical that the judges presiding over these playing fields have the kind of knowledge and experience that helps them understand the full range of the issues they will confront,” Warren said. “They need to be the best and brightest practitioners of law in this country, drawn from every corner of the profession.”

“But if that’s the goal, we are in real trouble,” she continued. “Look closely at the composition of the federal bench today, and you’ll see a striking lack of professional diversity among the lawyers who currently serve as federal judges.”

She said President Barack Obama had nominated just 11 judges with a background in working with indigent clients, but she said his nominees had not been diverse enough.

“(Even after the filibuster rules change) nearly ¾ of president’s nominees have been lawyers who have had significant corporate law practice in the private sector, spending years representing those whose voices are already plenty loud and already heard in government,” Warren said.

“Our courts cannot provide a level playing field without judges who know what it’s like to represent a family about to lose a home because someone sold them a mortgage that was designed to explode,” she said, “or represented a teenager accused of a crime because he was walking down the wrong street on the wrong night or represented an employee tossed out of a job for saying that employees should unionize or represented a customer that got ripped off by a big company and can’t afford the cost or a court fight.”

Warren urged the civil rights activists to pressure the president and Congress to find “highly qualified judges whose professional experience extends beyond big firms, federal prosecution, and white-collar defense.”
“That’s our best hope for preventing the corporate capture of our federal courts,” she said.

images (1)Good luck with that Senator Warren!  The Republicans have spent 40 years stacking the courts in their favor.  It’s a little late for the Democratic Party to finally stop playing into that deck of cards. Basically, if you control the Senate, you control the courts. We better see some better maneuverings than the ones that got us stuck with Uncle Thomas and Fat Tony.

Because a majority of senators can block a nomination, control of the Senate becomes critical. If the Democrats retain their majority, they can continue to confirm President Obama’s nominees. If the Republicans gain control of the Senate, however, they will be able to block his nominees—and there is little doubt that they will do so with a vengeance.

Most people pay attention to this only in regards the Supreme Court, but the lower courts are also critically important.

Since taking office, Obama has had approximately 280 federal judicial nominees confirmed. This represents roughly one-third of the federal judiciary. This has had a profound impact on our legal system in at least two very important respects.

First, Obama’s appointments have added substantial diversity to the federal bench. Forty-two percent of Obama’s judicial appointments have been women, as compared to only 22 percent of President George W. Bush’s nominees. Thirty-six percent of Obama’s judicial appointments have been minorities, as compared to only 18 percent of Bush’s judicial appointees.

The nation must care deeply about a president’s federal judicial appointments, because they will shape the meaning of federal law for decades to come.

Second, although Obama has generally been much less ideological in his judicial nominations than Bush, there is no doubt he has appointed much more liberal judges than his predecessor, and the addition of almost 280 Obama-appointed judges has had a dramatic effect on the overall ideological disposition of the federal judiciary.

Indeed, for the first time in more than a decade, judges appointed by Democratic presidents now substantially outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents. These judges now hold a majority of seats of nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. In 2008, Republican-appointed judges held a majority on 12 of the 13 Courts of Appeals. The shift is dramatic, and it is important.

Across a broad range of issues, such as the rights of persons accused of crime, abortion, the environment, immigration, affirmative action, gun control, religious liberty, campaign finance, women’s rights, the rights of corporations, and the right to vote, judges appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents tend to take very different positions.

Thus, who controls the Senate will determine the fate of as many as 90 federal judicial appointments that are likely to arise in the final two years of Obama’s presidency. If the Democrats control the Senate, the Republicans, no longer able to invoke the filibuster, will have only limited ability to block the President’s nominees. If the Republicans control the Senate, you can be sure that many fewer Obama nominees will be confirmed, and that those who do win confirmation will be much less progressive than the judges this White House has managed to appoint in its first six years. This will have a lasting and important impact on the federal judiciary for decades to come.

Despite a lot of venting both publicly and privately about Harry, he’s back.   Claire McCaskill and Mary Landrieu publicly admitted to not voting for the Nevada Democrat.  images (2)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Thursday that she will not vote for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to remain as leader.

“Yesterday I met with Harry Reid and told him I would not be supporting him for Minority Leader,” McCaskill said in a statement to The Kansas City Star.

“I heard the voters of Missouri loud and clear. They want change in Washington. Common sense tells me that begins with changes in leadership,” she added.
Democrats are holding leadership elections on Thursday morning after a midterm drubbing that saw Republicans capture the upper chamber.

There is no known challenger to Reid, currently the majority leader, for minority leader in the next Congress. But Democrats are still frustrated after their heavy losses in the election.

“We have to do some serious soul-searching to ask why so many of our colleagues lost races,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told The Hill. “They were not bad public servants. They weren’t bad candidates. We have to ask why they lost.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) declined to commit to Reid when asked by Bloomberg on Wednesday.

“I’m interested in hearing the discussion,” he said.

Lets just mention this one little bitty thing. The number of voters voting for President Obama in 2012 were  65,915,796.    Estimates right now are that  a total of 22,524,388 votes were cast for Republican Senatorial candidates last week. That’s hardly what I’d call a mandate.  It’s more a reflection of the lowest voter turnout  for possibly of all US history. The weird thing is that more votes were actually cast for Democrats running for Senate in total than Republicans.  Just remember, a podunk state like Nebraska or Wyoming sends senators to the Hill who capture fewer votes in an election than a mayor of any  major urban area.   Tiny states send their senators based on a really tiny voting base. We basically were screwed over by the few and the driven.

Turnout was low last week. Not “midterm low,” or “unusually low,” but “historically low.” As we noted on Monday, it was probably the lowest since World War II. But it was possibly also one of the four lowest-turnout elections since the election of Thomas Jefferson. You know, before there was such a thing as “Alabama.”

The U.S. Election Project, run by Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, compiles data on voter turnout over time. It’s tricky to estimate voter turnout in the 1700s and 1800s, and McDonald explains on his site how the numbers are calculated. So comparing 2014 to 1804 (the Jefferson example) should be considered a rough comparison at best.

So, that’s one thing to hold on to as we head towards two years of hell.  We may have gotten a lot of crazies, but those crazies generally got in the back door via states that are so small they hardly contribute to GDP let alone national dialogue.

So, any way that’s my two cents for today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: The Aftermath

675485ecdb1490bbf1afb258677ce743Is it morning?

It feels like hell.

The headline over at NYTs is bold across the entire page:

G.O.P. TAKES CONTROL OF SENATE

You click the link and the headline gets a little more…I don’t know…

Riding Wave of Discontent, G.O.P. Takes Senate

A wave of discontent? There is something about that statement, something that I just don’t get. If things are so shitty for the people, and I am talking the “real” people out there…not the wealthy folks…but if things are that bad for the people, which believe me they fucking are…how in the hell do assholes like McConnell get to have moments like this: Mitch McConnell Victory Speech: “You Will Be Heard In Washington” Bullshit!

“I’ve heard your concerns, I’ve made them my own, you will be heard in Washington,” McConnell said. “When you get right down to it that’s what this campaign was really all about. It’s wasn’t about me or my opponent. It was about a government that people can no longer trust.”

21b064b721ba138897dcd46f2af16076Give me a break! From the transcript: Midterm Elections 2014: Mitch McConnell Victory Speech | Video – ABC News

My thoughts also also turned back tonight to two other people. Who aren’t here but there’s room oh great deal. My parents. I learned a lot from them both. From my dad a combat veteran of World War II. Learned an abiding. Love of this country and all that it represents not only to those of us who were fortunate enough to be born here. But to so many others. Around the world. From my mom. I’ll learn the value per parents. And got an enduring lesson. As she helped me overcome frightening bout with polio as a job. In many ways my folks were just like any other parents of their generation. They were off of us. They believe. In America. Without a Trace of cynicism may transmitted to central promise of this country on to made the promise that every generation believe the next one. A little better off. On the one before. This is a compact that every generation of Americans have made. With the one that followed. And through civil war and depression and war wars and strive. We’ve always. Made good on. c1f57f3a9c934d1d0a0b4cda2deb1d50But as I’ve traveled through Kentucky over the past year upsets new doubts. Subtly folks aren’t so sure. That that Compaq will serve if we continue down the road. That we’ve been all. They’re hungry for new literature. They want a reason to be hopeful. Above all they want some reassurance that people who run the government are actually on their side. So photo lineup pledge you this. Well you’re cold modern eastern Kentucky. Who can’t find work. Or mom and Paducah who doesn’t understand why the government just took away or family’s health insurance. I’ve heard your concerns. Made them my all. You will be heard in Washington. And look when you got right down to it that’s what. This campaign was really all about. It wasn’t about me. Or mob loan. It was about a government that people no longer trust to carry out its most basic duty to keep them say. To protect the border to provide dignified and quality care for our veterans. A government that can’t be trusted to do the basic things because it’s too busy focusing on things that shouldn’t be focused on are all. A government that’s too busy imposing his view of the world all people who don’t share that view. c2b3eff4680b18ac7315c245dbd2042eTo many in Washington forgot ended their job is to serve. So tomorrow. The papers rules. I won this race. But the truth says. And adrift is. Tonight we begin another one. One is far more important than mine. And that the race to turn this country around. To restore hope and confidence and optimism to this commonwealth and across this nation of ours. Some things don’t change after tonight. I don’t expect the president to wake up tomorrow and view the world any differently than he did when he woke up this morning. He knows I won’t either. But look what we do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree. I think we have a duty to do that. Just because we have a two party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict. I think I’ve shown. To be true at critical times. In the I hope the president gives me the chance to show it again. There’s so much that we can and should do for the good of all America. Can talk injured tired of a government that only seems to work when it is working against them. And there are also tired of hearing that those of us who fight for them and Washington are somehow the problem. I’m so honored to have doctor Noel hotter with me tonight. All got an opportunity to get to know are. What an extraordinary woman. Doctor otter was determined to get her daughter back against all odds she did. d7d2c993e09f0d66440dbd84318f80d5She did it and when all is said and done she achieved something else that a lot of people said was even more remarkable. She made mission anymore warm and public. It over the past year a lot of people from outside the state of try to telkom pelicans what motivates me to do about it. I let them have their side. But here’s the truth. Anyone who says nothing ever gets done in Washington. Here’s my Bob word out your. Tell that the Noel under. Miss this woman is the reason I arrived. She’s the reason I do what I do in Washington. We can make a difference and we do every single done. We’re proud of that in my office and yet as I’ve traveled across the state I’ve become. Acutely reminded of something else the government can do. They can do terrible damage. The families and community. Nothing to hurt in people’s an amount. It breaks your heart to see the pain that distant planners. In federal agencies are causing to so many in our state. And if you’re elected official like me it hardens your resolve to do something about it. For too long or too long this administration has tried to tell the American people what’s good for them. And then blame somebody else when their policies don’t work out. Tonight Kentucky rejected that Oprah.089e5d21d9867ae569bcdb197476f99d Tonight. Tonight Kentucky and said we can do better as the nation. Tonight they said we can have real change in Washington railtrack. O

 

 

kay. Okay. And that’s just what I intend to deliver.

He is not talking about the real people here….the people he works for (who all these Republicans work for) are the big money donors.

But more on that below…

Now that transcript is a little wonky but you get the jest of it all…the bullshit of it all.

It was about this time last night that I dozed off in front of the TV. The last few days have been exhausting, my daughter is sick and we have been in Emergency Rooms and doctor’s offices for hours on end in the last 36 hours.

0df8bb3edd4a9bb0ca89cdc581b8f2fd

While I was in this anger induced exhausted sleep deprived haze, my daughter asked me to make her a cup of Sleepytime tea.

995d4d4d960521fe8e748c8febb75345I guess a bit of time ticked by because she got tired of waiting and called out to me again…”Mama, my tea!” My response was to holler downstairs to my own mother, “Ma…please make some tea for Bebe! She is asking for some Sleepytime!” I again went back into my disgusted angry comatose state. My mother must have asked me which type of tea my daughter wanted, since she did not hear the name…and I am told my response to her was: “Fuck that fucking turtle head….” or something of that nature. My mom proceeded to look for a tea box with a turtle on it, finding only one box with a picture of a bear sitting in a rocking chair wearing a nightcap, she made that one.

I guess you can say the entire shitty results of last night was weighing heavily on my mind and even in my sleep I was cursing the McConnell bastard. Here are a list of links for you today…it is a link dump-a-thon:

Back to that New York Times Headline…GOP Takes Senate!

Then comes the actual article’s title, which gives you this:  Election Results: Republicans Win Senate Control With at Least 7 New Seats – NYTimes.com

Be sure you read this next article in full thought: Georgia Democrats complain of voting problems | AccessNorthGaff9693f8e72430a128e1e8aa10d62962

Georgia Democrats and civil rights activists complained of voting problems Tuesday, and blamed the state’s top elections official, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The DeKalb County elections office was crowded with people whose names weren’t on the list of eligible voters even though they’ve been registered for past elections. Some were told they were ineligible because they didn’t update their voter registrations to match their driver’s license. Others said they had tried to match these documents, but their applications weren’t processed in time. Many were given provisional ballots, which often aren’t counted unless races are very close, and even then the burden is on citizens to prove that they are or should be legally registered, or their vote won’t be counted at all. aaf06681cad95bf714b4394d48546350Democratic Rep. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta had gone to court complaining that 50,000 voters still weren’t on the eligible list by the end of October, but a state judge declined to intervene, saying the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the New Georgia Project had failed to prove that Kemp’s office had done anything wrong.

Seriously…go read the article and check out one of quotes.

“A registered voter changing her address required a team of national lawyers to be able to vote,” Abrams said. “That should not be happening in the 21st century in Georgia.”

The rest of the link dump:  

More voting complaints reported than in 2010 | Al Jazeera America

BREAKING! Working Poor In Florida Freed From Neoliberal Shackles of the Affordable Care Act – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

The Democrats Lost Big Tonight. Why Obama Should Double Down | The Nation

Which Supreme Court nominees from President Obama could be confirmed in Summer 2015? – The Washington Post587ac248cb50c265545dfd63deae3f44

How a Republican Congress could Entangle the US further in the Middle East | Informed Comment

Harry Reid the “unAmerican” and soon-to-be-former Senate majority leader: Good riddance – The Washington Post

Hillary and Ted Cruz are the two big winners; the GOP, less so

How Secret Millionaire Donors Bought the Midterms with Dark Money Superpacs | Informed Comment

Republicans seize Senate, dumping despair on Democrats and Obama | Al Jazeera America

Midterm gains by Republicans endanger environmental progress | Al Jazeera America9f2268310dc12be5b2e3d02eada75201

Republicans take Senate in stunning rebuke of Obama and Democrats | Al Jazeera America

At the polls, workers win some and lose much more | Al Jazeera America

WASHINGTON: Republicans widen control in Senate, governor’s races | National | McClatchy DC

Eschaton: The Morning After

Hullabaloo

Tillis win helps GOP take US Senate | Elections | NewsObserver.com

Eschaton: The 50 State Strategy

No More Mister Nice Blog-REPUBLICANS RAN A 2014 CAMPAIGN. DEMOCRATS RAN A 2012 CAMPAIGN.

What the Midterm Elections Really Say About the GOP and Obama – Truthdig

What last night’s election results mean for Obama’s final 2 years | theGrio

Top 5 Senate Races Where Dark Money and Outside Spending Ran Wild82bbbd70fb93d1ac477a59744b2d2457

US midterm elections: Republican victories are good news for old families – as a new George Bush steps on to political stage – Americas – World – The Independent

9 Things The Big Republican Win Means

From GMOs To Soda Taxes, Here’s What the Election Means For Your Fridge | Mother Jones

Live Blog: The Day After Republicans Took the Senate – NationalJournal.com

BBC News – Tax on sugary drinks passed in first US city

Still Undecided: 18 House, 2 Senate, 6 Governor Races

This is an open thread!

And yes those are pictures of people being taken for ride by turtles….and that is a girl being bitten in the ass by a couple of snapping turtles. You can make the significance and any representations on your own!


Monday Reads: Is it the End of the World as We Know It?

Good Morning!

I’m really hoping this week goes well but I’m not really looking forward to Tuesday.  It’s my birthday and a tough one at that. It’s also election day, and it still looks like some crazy Republicans will be headed to Washington DC.  However, I will start with my good news this morning.  There are two day-of-the-dead-celebration-bostonthings.  I got to hug and say hi to Hillary Clinton on Saturday.  I also got to wave good bye to the dread Daylight Savings Time which I hate with a passion.  It’s basically a ploy to get people to stop and shop and go to golf courses on their way home from work.  That’s especially true since they extended it into hours where it makes no sense whatsoever. 

Daylight Saving Time is the greatest continuing fraud ever perpetuated on American people. And this weekend, the effects of this cruel monster will rear its ugly head again. On Sunday morning, Americans across the country will have to set their clocks back one hour, and next week, the sun will begin its ambling lurch to eventually setting at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Technically-speaking, this sleep cycle-wrecking practice of setting our clocks back is because we will be going back to Standard Time after our flirty summer with DST. And the unsettling shift back to these hours, and the hour “we gain,” is the back-end of the time-bargain we have to pay for setting our clocks forward in March to “maximize daylight”—a phrase probably better suited to organisms that rely on photosynthesis—during the spring and summer hours.

Why we try and “maximize daylight” like we’re plants is actually an archaic practice first thought up in the late 1700s and often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. As some elementary school teacher may have explained to you, this was a practice to accommodate agricultural workers and farmers (wrong, and we’ll get to this in a minute) or lower the nation’s electricity usage.

A lot of that is prime b.s. There is actually no benefit or rhyme or reason we have to endure this weekend’s time shift and no reason we should even be playing with the idea of losing and gaining hours.

Basically, it doesn’t save energy, it’s bad for your health, and the shifts in time kill work productivity because it gives you jet lag.  I always hate seeing little children having to get up in the pitch black to stand on corners for school buses.  The other thing I hate is that they have to walk home or stand out to get those same buses in the worst heat of the day.

“God, I love getting up an hour earlier,” said no one ever. “Me too. I can’t wait to have my schedule messed up in the fall,” no one replied.

A 2011 Rasmussen poll (for what it’s worth, Rasmussen can be a bit skewed when it comes to conservative politicians but seems to have no known bias against time zones) found that 47 percent (ha, Romney, ha) of Americans said DST was not worth the hassle.

So how do we fix all of this? Over at Quartz, there’s an idea to just have two timezones. But let’s be clear here. The real evil here is change. No one really minds if 4 a.m. is 4 a.m. They (and their possible heart attacks) mind if for some reason or another that 4 a.m. is now 5 a.m and will be 4 a.m. in a few months. It’s time to stop this insanity.

day-of-the-deaSo, what if the worst happens?  What if we wake up to a Republican led Senate with Mitch McConnell’s ugly face and personality at the helm?   Will we face more years of nothing getting done but everything going to pieces?   Here are two things that will happen.

2. Senate confirmations: The battlefield tilts

A GOP-controlled Senate will make it even tougher for Obama to confirm nominees, a process that hasn’t exactly been plain sailing even with Democrats in charge.

Although Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said she is staying put, it remains plausible that Obama could be faced with a third chance to put his stamp on the court. Republicans would find it much easier to block his choice if they held the majority in the Senate.

Obama will also nominate a replacement for retiring Attorney General Eric Holder, and the confirmation process will likely be fraught whomever he chooses.

Obama also isn’t like to face any shortage of executive branch, ambassador and federal judicial nominations in his final two years in office. They will all need Senate confirmation.

3. Obama to stock up on veto pens

Obama has had to pick up his veto pen on just two occasions since he took office in 2009, largely because Democrats have controlled at least one chamber of Congress throughout that time.

He will need to check he has a plentiful supply of ink if Republicans take the Senate majority. He can expect to spend his final two years using his veto to protect earlier legislative victories, rather than seriously attempting to rack up new ones.

There is some chance of bipartisan progress on issue such as immigration reform and global trade deals. But it also seems likely that Obama will need to rely on executive action if he wants to pursue many of his priorities.

 But, will the Republicans get anything positive out of taking over the Senate besides the thrill up their legs from frustrating Obama?images (2)

The fact that the races in all of the presidential battleground states stayed close, despite an older and whiter electorate, suggests that Mr. Obama is not yet so unpopular as to cause the voters who remained Democratic-leaning through 2012 to vote Republicans into federal office.
This is perhaps most evident in Iowa, an overwhelmingly white state. It has tilted just slightly Democratic. If Republicans were going to gain voters who used to lean Democratic, Iowa would be the place where we would see it. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings in Iowa are particularly weak, in part because the state is full of white voters without college degrees — the group where Mr. Obama’s support has always been weakest.
The Democratic Senate candidate in Iowa, Bruce Braley, has not run a great campaign. He committed one of the more cringe-worthy gaffes of the cycle when he belittled Senator Charles E. Grassley for being “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” at a fund-raiser with a group of lawyers. Yet Mr. Braley is locked in a tight race with his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst. If Ms. Ernst wins by a margin of a point or two, that suggests she probably would have lost with a presidential-year electorate.
The story is perhaps even more troubling for Republicans in the South, where Democratic candidates are doing well among white voters.

If Republicans cannot maintain their exceptional margins among Southern white voters in the post-Obama era, their path to victory will get very narrow in states like Georgia and Florida. In both, the white share of the electorate has dropped by more than 10 percentage points since 2000.

Here are some late polls from the PPP that show McConnell will still return to the Senate and that Mary Landrieu has a fighting chance.

PPP’s final polls in Arkansas and Kentucky find Republicans in a strong position to win the Senate seats in those states on Tuesday, but the Louisiana Senate race still has the potential to be pretty competitive.images (3)

In Kentucky Mitch McConnell leads Alison Lundergan Grimes 50/42, with Libertarian David Patterson getting 3%. In a head to head match up, McConnell’s lead is 53/44. McConnell remains unpopular, with only 39% of voters approving of him to 50% who disapprove. But his campaign succeeded in making Grimes just as unpopular- her 39/49 favorability rating is nearly identical to his approval rating. For the millions and millions of dollars spent on this race it’s ended up right back around where it started- when we first polled it in December of 2012 McConnell led Grimes by 7 and in this final poll he leads by 8.

In April we found Grimes leading McConnell 45/44. At that time Grimes led McConnell by 37 points with Democrats and trailed him by 2 points with independents. Now she leads him by 35 points with Democrats and by 2 points with independents, nearly identical numbers to what they were 7 months ago. The story of McConnell’s comeback is one of getting his party to pretty universally vote for him, even if it’s still not in love with him. In April McConnell led Grimes by only 49 points with Republicans, 69/20. Now he leads her by 76 points with Republicans, 85/9. His resurgence with the GOP is the story of the race.

In Arkansas, we find Republicans leading the races for Governor and the Senate by 8-10 points. Tom Cotton is up 49/41 on Mark Pryor, and Asa Hutchinson is up 51/41 on Mike Ross. At the end of the day Barack Obama’s unpopularity in the state may be too much for the Democratic candidates to overcome- only 29% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 62% who disapprove. The Republican candidates have proven to be relatively strong in their own right though. Hutchinson has a 49/35 favorability rating and Cotton’s is 48/40, better than we’re seeing for most candidates across the country this year.

Republicans lead all the down ballot races as well. The one where Democrats have the best chance at pulling out a win is Attorney General, where Republican Leslie Rutledge leads Democrat Nate Steel only 44/40. GOP nominees are ahead by 8-12 points in the rest of the contests. There is one piece of positive news for progressive voters in the Arkansas poll- the state’s initiative to raise the minimum wage leads for passage 65/31. It has near unanimous support from Democrats (88/9), majority support from independents (55/41), and even GOP voters are pretty much evenly divided on it (46/47).

In Louisiana it looks like Mary Landrieu will finish first in Tuesday’s election. She’s polling at 43% to 35% for Bill Cassidy, 15% for Rob Maness, and just 1% for ‘someone else.’ We find that a head to head between Landrieu and Cassidy would be pretty close at this point, with Cassidy ahead just 48/47. Whether a runoff election would really be that close depends on whether Landrieu can get Democratic leaning voters, especially African Americans and young people, to come back out and vote again in December.

There’s been little movement in this race over the last 6 weeks. Landrieu led Cassidy 42/34 in late September. This is yet another contest where neither candidate is well liked. Landrieu has a 45/50 approval rating, but Cassidy also has a 36/44 favorability rating.

images (4)The Republicans will probably not fair well if they do manage to take over the Senate and will likely make 2016 a strong Democratic year.

“So what might Republicans actually do if they have majorities in both houses of Congress,”asks Reason.com’s Nick Gillespie, the longtime libertarian. “If past behavior is any indication of future performance, the short and likely answer is: screw it all up.”

There’s been plenty of pieces written in the progressive media about what a Republican-majority Senate is likely to mean. But sometimes the better source comes from the ‘takes-one-to-know one’ universe of ideological Republicans who are well acquainted with their current and possibly incoming senators.

“What Republicans can’t do is spend their time trying to chop chunks of government, obsess on the spending side, cut holes in the safety net, perpetuate cronyism or let paranoia gut anti-terror measures (e.g. drones, NSA),” wrote the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blogger Jennifer Rubin, in a recent advice-filled column. “Senate gadflies are about to learn that being in the majority is different than throwing spitballs from the minority. They will need to show they can problem-solve (or they will confirm concerns that they cannot).

What Gillespie and Ruben both are confirming, actually, is that the Republicans are not likely to do much of anything other than be the fight-picking, time-wasting, obstructionist legislators that they have pledged to be on the 2014 campaign trail.

In other words, it is all too likely that there will be efforts to: dismantle Obamacare; ignore climate change and block all kinds of pro-environmental activities; repeal pro-consumer laws; block increases in the minimum wage; ignore immigration reform; block federal judicial nominees, and maybe even pursue impeachment. Georgia’s Republican senatorial candidate David Perdue haspledged to “prosecute the failed record” of the Obama administration. Iowa’s Joni Ernst wants to ban abortions and same-sex marriage.

These examples, gleaned from recent pieces in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, and other reputable outlets, suggest that the race to the bottom in American politics is about to sink even deeper into the muck. The New Yorker’s sharp political writer, John Cassady, just wrote a piece entitled, “The Empty Elections of 2014,” where he is spot-on in noting that there’s been little substance—but a deluge of idiotic stereotypes and character assassinations—behind the “enervating output of political admen, spin doctors, and negative research shops for whom this is, first and foremost, a profit-making industry.”

Cassady’s point is that Americans are deluding themselves if they are thinking that party is somehow secretly campaigning on substance. The political ads “aren’t just an annoying sideline to, or distraction from, the real issues in the campaign. To a large extent, they are the campaign,” he wrote. “They represent the main source of information about candidates and issues. Which, if you think about it, is pretty alarming.”

There are two big late trends that are not good.  One is voter suppression. The other is the problem created by Citizen’s United.  Dark Money has entered races at the last minute. download

A stealthy coterie of difficult-to-trace outside groups is slipping tens of millions of dollars of attacks ads and negative automated telephone calls into the final days of the midterm campaign, helping fuel an unprecedented surge of last-minute spending on Senate races.

Much of the advertising is being timed to ensure that no voter will know who is paying for it until after the election on Tuesday. Some of the groups are “super PACs” that did not exist before Labor Day but have since spent heavily on political advertising, adding to the volatility of close Senate and House races.

Others formed earlier in the year but remained dormant until recently, reporting few or no contributions in recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, only to unleash six- and seven-figure advertising campaigns as Election Day draws near. Yet more spending is coming from nonprofit organizations with bland names that have popped up in recent weeks but appear to have no life beyond being a conduit for the ads.

The voter suppression efforts are in states with Republican Governors like Wisconsin.

Alexander won her office with a late race-baiting flier against her African American opponent. She’s appeared at CPAC, was named a “rising star” by dark money group American Majority, illegally accepted free legal representation from a Bradley Foundation funded lawyer, supports gay bashing Chick Fil A and has accused Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis of supporting infanticide.

Yeah, she’s a real pip, alright.

So it comes as no surprise to us in Milwaukee that she used taxpayer money to mail out 7,000 copies of her newsletter which included the information that a photo ID would be needed to vote on Election Day:

The first problem with this is the fact that US Supreme Court blocked the implementation of this voter suppression law for this election.

But wait! There’s more. There’s always more.

This matter was quickly brought before the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board who ordered her to immediately send out another postcard – again at the taxpayer expense – to correct the misinformation she distributed.images (5)

Per her Facebook page, on Friday – just days before the election – she sent out the correction notice. It is doubtful that the postcards will get to the people in time before Election Day.

Despite the fact that it cost taxpayers thousands of dollars to send out the original mailer and thousands of dollars more to send out the correction, I have a feeling that we won’t hear from the conservatives about this waste and fraud.

So, I’m going to just bury my head in work until the end of the year if all this comes true.  Then, I’ll look forward to the presidential primaries where Hillary Clinton will likely shine and the Republican Clown Car will just fill up with the worst the country has to offer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Sinatra Suite and Other Distractions

British ballerina Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948).

British ballerina Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948).

Good Morning

Two days left, and if you are sick of all the campaign commercials on TV…then I think you will agree, we all could use some distractions.

For me this is going into week three of hell, so I have been up to my ass in distractions=QatQi

But I won’t bitch about the TCM blackout again…

So let’s just start the post with a link that got the whole post going.

From HuffPo: A Brief But Stunning Visual History Of Ballet In The 20th Century

As holiday season approaches, visions of sugar-plum fairies inevitably begin dancing in our heads. ‘Tis the time of “The Nutcracker,” and other classic ballet performances that countdown to a whole new season of dance across the world. In honor of the possibilities of the 2014-2015 season, we dug into the photographic archives of Getty and the Associated Press to find the most iconic snapshots of ballerinas and prima donnas over the ages.

Below is a brief but beautiful visual history of the art form, ranging from 1911 to 1999. From Vaslav Nijinsky to Benjamin Millepied, Anna Pavlov to Sylvie Guillem, the collection of vintage portraits gives a mostly black-and-white glimpse into over a century’s worth of ballet greats. Much has changed in terms of representation and body image over the years, and while we can only hope to see more diversity, it certainly shows in these images. Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Vaslow Nijinsky

Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950) as the faun at the premiere of Ballet Russe’s production of “L’Apres-midi d’un Faune” at the Theatre du Chatelet Paris in May of 1912. (Photo by Edward Gooch/Edward Gooch/Getty Images)

 

It is brief, and they do miss out on a lot of artist…many from the 1970s, when there was a surge in professional dancers that really kicked some ass. So as you can see…I have added to the articles images throughout this thread. Enjoy the pictures of some of the best dancers evah! And be sure to watch the videos too, I bet you have never seen these performances. (Oh yeah, and keep a mental note of that picture of Nijinsky, because we will come back to it in a moment.)

Like this one, from 1984…it is Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite:

Originally broadcast in 1984 over New York’s WNET/Thirteen on “Great Performances,” as part of the “Dance in America” series Baryshnikov Dances Sinatra and More… film. Mikhail Baryshnikov, along with members of American Ballet Theatre, dance three works choreographed by Twyla Tharp: “The Little Ballet,” “Sinatra Suite,” and “Push Comes to Shove.”

 

 

Damn that man could dance…mmmm, and he was gorgeous too.

Another production from the same year that I think you will enjoy…I have a two clips featured  below but you can see the entire show here: Evening at the Met – 1984 – YouTube  100th anniversary celebration at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This performance took place on May 13, 1984.

And that picture of Nijinsky, well…in this 100th anniversary performance, Lillian Gish introduces  Nijinsky’s “Le Spectre de la Rose” danced by Patrick Dupond.


The ballet was first presented in Monte Carlo on 19 April 1911. Nijinsky danced The Rose and Tamara Karsavina danced The Young Girl. It was a great success. Spectre became internationally famous for the leap (jump) Nijinsky made through a window at the ballet’s end.

That alone is something you need to see. (Click on Lillian Gish name above…)

Along with that Huffpo link, here is a Buzzfeed post that has some beautiful images: Gorgeous Vintage Photographs Of Ballet Dancers

 

Alexandra Danilova, 1925. Joan Craven/Evening Standard / Getty Images

Alexandra Danilova, 1925. Joan Craven/Evening Standard / Getty Images

Many more at link.

Video time:

First up, two performers that were amazing together:

Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun

My favorite of the bunch has to be Taming of the Shrew…

This is the performance from the 1984  Met show:

 

Here is their version of Romeo and Juliet:

 

 

Next up,

Manon Act I Pas de Deux – Antoinette Sibley & David Wall

 

Giselle Act II Pas de Deux – Alicia Alonso & Jorge Esquivel

 

Paloma Herrera and Angel Corella – Grand Pas de Deux  ”Don Quixote”

 

Le Grand Pas de Quatre 1/2 – Les Ballets Trockadero

 

Dammit…now I have to post some news shit. Okay. But I am going to be quick about it.

10f5c7b51a78bd6683d2cfcbd2bd4b5bBoko Haram: Kidnapped Girls Have Been Married Off, Truce Never Happened

A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago had been “married off” to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed.

Nigeria’s military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posting as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man’s face as he his filmed from a distance.

But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April.

“We have have married them off and they are all in their husbands’ houses,” the man claiming to be Shekau says.

“The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die.”

The majority of the kidnapped girls were Christians.

Leslie Browne

Leslie Browne

Police seek driver in California hit and run that killed 3 trick-or-treaters | Reuters

Detectives continued their search on Saturday for the driver of an SUV who struck and killed three teenage girls trick-or-treating on Halloween in Southern California, and investigators were unsure who was behind the wheel of the vehicle, a police spokesman said.

The three girls, ranging in age from 13 to 15, were in costume and carrying candy bags when they were hit while crossing a street on Friday evening in Santa Ana, about 35 miles (55 km) south of Los Angeles.

Officers found the sports utility vehicle abandoned behind a nearby retailer, said Santa Ana police spokesman Corporal Anthony Bertagna.

Later on Friday night, police went to an address registered as the home of the vehicle’s owner, but the occupants of the house had no connection to the SUV, Bertagna said.

Detectives are unsure where the registered owner of the vehicle might be living, or whether the SUV had been stolen before the hit and run collision, he said.

I wonder if this was some sort of gang initiation thing…those kids were walking in the crosswalk when they were run over. Two of the kids were sisters, twins.

Marianna Tcherkassky. ABT

Marianna Tcherkassky. ABT

This caught my eye via Politics USA: Minority Voter Suppression In North Carolina Witnessed Firsthand

It is harder to vote in North Carolina these days. On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court, in Shelby v. Holder, gutted a landmark provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A majority of the justices struck down Article 5 of the Act, which had required federal preapproval of changes to voting practices in southern states. Eviscerating Article 5 effectively halted its protections and set the stage for sweeping efforts to disenfranchise minorities, women, the elderly and students. Six weeks later, emboldened by the Court’s ruling, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the nation’s most restrictive voting law all in the name of “preventing voter fraud.”

Marcia Haydée (born 18 April 1937) and Richard Cragun (5 October 1944 – 6 August 2012)  Stuttgart ballet, 28 November 1976. Photo by Serge Lido.

Marcia Haydée (born 18 April 1937) and Richard Cragun (5 October 1944 – 6 August 2012) Stuttgart ballet, 28 November 1976. Photo by Serge Lido.

Lawsuits challenging the law have been filed by various organizations including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. The ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sought to have certain provisions of the law stayed until the trial scheduled for summer of 2015. The request for a stay was denied at the district court level, but the district court’s decision was reversed by a three judge panel at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 8, 2014, the Supreme Court struck down the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had stayed many of the 2013 North Carolina’s laws restrictions thus instituting widespread voter suppression.

Read the rest…if you can.

Corina Dumitrescu b. 1970 Bucharest National Opera

Corina Dumitrescu b. 1970 Bucharest National Opera

In connection to the link above… Jim Crow returns | Al Jazeera America

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

Gelsey Kirkland, Don Quixote

Gelsey Kirkland, Don Quixote

At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

Until now, state elections officials have refused to turn over their Crosscheck lists, some on grounds that these voters are subject to criminal investigation. Now, for the first time, three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — have released their lists to Al Jazeera America, providing a total of just over 2 million names.

Gelsey again...

Gelsey again…

Ya got that? 2 miiiiiiiillllllliiiioooon names.

The Crosscheck list of suspected double voters has been compiled by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from participating states. Interstate Crosscheck is the pet project of Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, known for his crusade against voter fraud.

Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey

The three states’ lists are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim — ones common among minorities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities.

If even a fraction of those names are blocked from voting or purged from voter rolls, it could alter the outcome of next week’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps prove decisive in the 2016 presidential vote count.

Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux in Manon Photo by Leslie E. Spatt

Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux in Manon Photo by Leslie E. Spatt

“It’s Jim Crow all over again,” says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery, now 93, says he recognizes in the list of threatened voters a sophisticated new form of an old and tired tactic. “I think [the Republicans] would use anything they can find. Their desperation is rising.”

You know what that reminds me of, what this redneck says in this scene from Mississippi Burning:

 

 

Pertinent part starts around 0:35 min but the whole damn clip is good.

Juliet Doherty (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)

Juliet Doherty (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)

One more on race: Spike Lee: Idea that America is a post-racial society under Obama is ‘bullsh*t’

n an interview with Fusion TV, director Spike Lee dismissed the notion that America has become a post-racial society under a black president, calling the belief ‘bullsh*t.”

Speaking with Fusion host Jorge Ramos about race in America, Lee touched upon multiple subjects including the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City and the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Asked by Ramos what he tells his children about race in America, Lee replied “I don’t care who you are, if you’re African-American in this country, you know know what the deal is.”

Prompted to elaborate by Ramos, Lee continued.

Chris Farley. Look at that turnout!

Chris Farley. Look at that turnout!

“That you’re black. It just means that you’re black. And the people who get in trouble are the people who forget they’re black,” Lee explained. “You can’t just think I’m so successful that I’ve reached another realm. And I’m in a so-called post …” at which point Lee asked the audience for help remembering the term ‘post-racial’. “Yeah, that bullsh*t, where now that we have a black, African-American president that race no longer matters. And there are times, even today, it’s hard for me to catch a cab sometimes. In New York City.”

Asked by Ramos why, in 2014, incidents like the deaths of Garner and Brown by police officers still happening, Lee said, “There’s a big division for the police departments, I think, in this country, versus people of color.”

Addressing the death of Garner, Lee noted that the chokehold was banned over twenty years ago.

Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina

Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina

Lee said that, after seeing the video of Garner being held and choked to death by police officers,  he couldn’t help but notice the similarities to the chokehold that killed the character Radio Raheem (see video below), in his landmark 1989 film, Do The Right Thing.

In the film, the death of Raheem set off rioting and the destruction of the neighborhood.

Video at the link.

More right-wing shit: Arizona School Board Votes To Get Rid Of Textbook Pages That Discuss Abortion

An Arizona school district is making sure that students are not educated about abortion in biology class.

Boris Lipnitzki, Brigitte Bardot in Ballet Class, Paris, 1946

Boris Lipnitzki, Brigitte Bardot in Ballet Class, Paris, 1946

This week, Gilbert Public Schools’ governing board voted to remove pages from an honors biology textbook because the pages talk about mifepristone, a pill that can induce an abortion, reports local outlet 12 News. Members of the board contended that the pages violate a state statute, which prevents school districts from providing instruction that “that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion,” says the outlet.

The specific section in question is titled “Contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy.” It says that “complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control, but other methods are effective to varying degrees.” The passage, from the seventh edition of Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections, goes on to describe the morning-after pill and mifepristone.

Why can’t these bible thumpers keep it to themselves.

Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly behind the scenes of “An American in Paris”

Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly behind the scenes of “An American in Paris”

The issue was first brought to the board’s attention after the conservative Christian organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote a letter to the district’s superintendent in August, saying that the textbook violates state regulations, reports the outlet. The board voted 3-2 to redact the pages in question, although it is unclear whether the district will remove the specific pages or blacken unwanted passages, says local outlet KTVK-3TV.

Notably, the Arizona Department of Education previously reviewed the textbook and said it was not violating the state statute. An attorney for the district said the same, reports local outlet the East Valley Tribune. As a result, one of the board members who voted against changing the textbook, Lily Tram, called the move an example of censorship.

George Balanchine created Ballo della Regina on the famous ballerina Merrill Ashley. She is known for her speed, clarity of technique and attack in performing this joyous work.

George Balanchine created Ballo della Regina on the famous ballerina Merrill Ashley. She is known for her speed, clarity of technique and attack in performing this joyous work.

And how about this for thumping: FL Supreme Court removes judge for running Christian ministry business from her courtroom

What is it with these people?

There was almost a major accident in NYC: ‘Human Error’ Caused Drill to Hit Train — NYMag

On Thursday, a ten-inch construction drill bit pierced the ceiling of a subway tunnel near 21st Street–Queensbridge station, almost impaling a crowded F train. Luckily, the conductor hit the brakes when he felt the drill touch the train, and no one was hurt. How did this close call occur? According to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, someone screwed up.

Cynthia Gregory

Cynthia Gregory

“At this point in the investigation, the incident appears to have been caused by human error and doesn’t involve equipment malfunction,” Ortiz told the New York Daily News. That human is employed by Griffin Dewatering New England Inc., a contractor working on the East Side Access Project, which will eventually connect the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central. Ortiz also said that “officials have determined further drilling for the project isn’t needed,” which should be of some comfort to F train riders, who have been forced to put up with a lot lately.

Suzanne Farrell (in Don Quixote with George Balanchine, mid-60s)

Suzanne Farrell (in Don Quixote with George Balanchine, mid-60s)

And in world news:  Argentina asks Spain to arrest 20 Franco-era officials

An Argentine judge has asked Spain to arrest and extradite 20 former officials accused of abuses during the military rule of General Franco.

They cannot be tried in Spain because of an amnesty law but the officials could be prosecuted in Argentina.

Judith Jamison, 1970s, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

Judith Jamison, 1970s, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

The families of alleged victims asked Argentina for help because it has an extradition treaty with Spain.

In April, Spain’s high court refused to extradite to Argentina a former policemen accused of torture.

Judge Maria Servini de Cubria issued the arrest and extradition warrants for two former ministers of General Franco’s regime, and 18 other officials, invoking “universal jurisdiction” – a legal doctrine that authorises judges to try serious rights abused committed in other countries.

Cyd Charisse

Cyd Charisse

Using the doctrine, Spain briefly detained Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

The two most prominent suspects in Judge Servini’s investigation are Rodolfo Martin Villa, 79, who was Franco’s interior minister, and Jose Uteri Molina, 86, who was housing minister.

Give that a read, it is interesting…I wonder how it will all turn out.

Some of you may have gotten a chance to see this flick on TCM, Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows : moviemorlocks.com – Elevator to the Eyes of Jeanne Moreau

Here is a look at ” The study of mimicry shows a close relationship between scientific psychology and the theatre, says Tiffany Watt-Smith.”   :BBC News – The human copying machine

And our last link…Tower of London poppies: Why they make a fitting memorial – The Independent

Tube closures and warnings of a crush of visitors couldn’t keep half-term crowds from Paul Cummins’ ceramic poppies on Saturday.

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan

It is easy to visualise each poppy as a death.

…shocking splashes of colour in the poppies installation – the bloody wave over the walls, the crimson stream flowing from a window, the narrow ribbon of red in the moat. But nothing prepared early spectators for what followed. In box after box, they arrived, ceramic flowers and stalks, assembled at random heights by volunteers, many too young to have known a relative involved in the First World War.

Every evening, when the Last Post was sounded and the names of the dead were read at dusk, the installation looked complete. And then came another vivid tide, and another, and another, relentless.

6dd3f610bd5544c30e212a10a6365444How do you remember 888,246 lives? We cannot take in the numbers, though we have seen enough news bulletins to know about mass deaths. To single out one soldier’s story helps us focus, but overlooks the rest. Live footage, fictional re-creations, cannot help us with the scale of loss. But it is easy to visualise each poppy at the Tower as a death, for we have grown up associating the flower with remembrance. We do not need to see a single face or coffin to feel a lump in the throat: we know how to love and grieve.

A solemn ending I know…but it is the beginning of November. The weather is dreary and cold and damp, we even had snow in Banjoville this weekend. And as for the Fall Foilage? There was none this year.   The leaves just turned to brown. Very depressing and such a let down. I hope it is not a premonition of things to come this Tuesday. We will be here to live blog the Election Day event, so please stop by  the blog. Otherwise, if you are around today, leave a comment or thought…and have a pleasant day.

Below are all the pictures in this post, plus a few I could not fit so give them a look if you like…


Super-Lazy Saturday Reads

Avengers read

Good Morning!!

Just three more days until election day. The political pundits are hammering us day after day with the news that a Republican-controlled Senate is a foregone conclusion.That’s why I liked the NYT piece by Nate Cohn that Dakinikat included in her post yesterday on how the polls under-count Democratic voters. Cohn claims the inaccuracies may not be as important this year, because young voters and minority voters may not bother to vote. But what if he’s wrong? Democrats are making concerted efforts to turn out African American voters, and Democrats are traditionally better at getting out the vote.

Cohn’s article was based on an analysis at Huffington Post, which found that polls underestimated Democratic results in 2010 Senate races by 3.1 percent. The polls also underestimated President Obama’s vote totals in 2012. A number of important Senate races are close enough to be within the polls’ margin of error, so we really do have some reasons for hope. Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy on October 16:

For the last four weeks, HuffPost’s poll tracking model has given Republicans slightly better than a 50/50 probability of winning a majority in the Senate, largely on the basis of leads of 3 percent or less by Republican candidates in critical states like Iowa, Colorado and Arkansas. On TuesdayHuffPollster noted the real potential for late shifts or polling errors of the same magnitude, a possibility that explains why considerable uncertainty remains about our current forecast of a Republican takeover.

RealClearPolitics election analyst Sean Trende added more data on this issue Thursday morning, sharing an analysis showing that polling leads of 1 to 2 percentage points in the final three weeks of the election translate into victory just over 60 percent of the time. Even candidates with leads of 3 to 4 percentage points sometimes end up behind on Election Day.

“Be wary of Senate polls,” Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz tweeted on Tuesday, adding that the RealClearPolitics Senate race polling averages in 2010 “underestimated D performance in all 7 tossup states.” HuffPollster data scientist Natalie Jackson checked the backtesting conducted on our current model and the same result. Our final run of the model before the 2010 election would have underestimated the performance of Democratic candidates in all seven of the Senate races rated as late toss-ups, and would have miscalled winners in two states, Nevada and Colorado.

We also looked at the the prior midterm election in 2006, and found a similar pattern. The polling model understated the Democratic performance in five of seven races rated as late toss-ups (we used the Cook Political Report classifications for both years. Cook and RealClearPolitics rated the same seven states as toss-ups on 2010).

Brando readsHere’s another article by the same authors, published yesterday: How The Senate Polls Could Be Wrong.

With less than a week remaining before Election Day, HuffPost’s poll tracking model continues to report roughly the same forecast for control of the U.S. Senate as it has for the past two weeks: The polling averages show Republicans leading at least nominally in enough states to gain a 53-seat majority. The margins remain close enough, however, that the overall probability of a Republican majority is just 63 percent as of this writing. In other words, polling shows the Senate battle leaning Republican, but there is still a real potential that Democrats could hang on due to late shifts or polling errors. So how could these polling averages be wrong?

The biggest problem for pollsters is reaching people who use cell phones and have no land line. It’s often assumed that only young people do this, but I’m an old lady and I got rid of my land line years ago. There must be others like me.

…the approaches many pollsters are using to attempt to reach the cell-only population remain unproven and, effectively, experimental. Pollsters that use an automated, recorded voice methodology are barred by federal law from dialing cell phones, and many are relying on interviews conducted over the Internet to make up the difference. Live interviewer phone polls conducted at the state level in 2014 are mostly using samples drawn from cell phone directories compiled by data vendors — methods that may have their own limitations.

More important, the missing cell-phone-only voters may have been only part of the problem. Another theory is that the questions most media pollsters use to identify likely voters missed less enthusiastic Democrats who ultimately turned out to vote. In some polls, that pattern was evident in sample compositions that understated non-white voters.

The state with the greatest potential to see a repeat of these problems is Colorado, where polls understated Democratic candidates by 2 to 3 percentage points the last two elections, and two additional factors could lead to a repeat in 2014. First is the unique challenge of reaching Colorado’s Spanish speaking Latino voters, who tend to be more Democratic than those more fluent in English. Second, the state shifted to all-mail voting in 2014, with every registered voter automatically receiving a ballot via U.S. mail. Political scientists who studied similar shifts in Washington State found that a shift to all-mail voting produced a 2 to 4 percentage point increase in turnout, with the largest increases occurring among “lower participating registrants,” in particular those who had previously voted only in presidential elections. In Colorado and elsewhere, these “drop off voters” are the primary targets of the massive Democratic get-out-the-vote campaign.

Billie Holliday reads

And from Bloomberg, Why Political Polling Is Getting Harder.

…[I]t’s getting harder for survey researchers to corral enough people on the line for a representative sample.

“It’s becoming a much more difficult, nerve-wracking business,” said Geoff Garin, the president of Hart Research Associates and a leading Democratic pollster, who spoke to Bloomberg News editors and reporters Wednesday. “The willingness of respondents to participate in polls has declined, the move to cellphones has had an impact,” and more people are screening their calls, Garin said.

The challenges are acute in states like Iowa, where the highly competitive Senate election between Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst has drawn more than $54 million in general-election outside spending (including party committees). That’s a lot of TV, radio, mail, and phone calls.

According to Kantar Media’s CMAG, Iowa Senate ads have run on local broadcast stations more than 34,000 times in just the past 30 days, second only to the 38,948 ads in North Carolina, which has more than three times Iowa’s population.

“If you are in reasonably small state—there are only four congressional districts in Iowa—with a reasonably competitive election, you are getting a lot of phone calls at your home, and not just polling phone calls,” Garin said.

And the ones who don’t hang up immediately may have been polled before.

Finally, here’s a detailed post at Five-Thirty-Eight on how the polling “sausage” is made. There are lots of possibilities for polling error.

Ferguson Updates

MSU-Standard

The Washington Post is at it again, reported leaks from “law enforcement sources” who claim that the DOJ isn’t going to have enough evidence to bring civil rights charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing teenager Michael Brown.

Justice Department investigators have all but concluded they do not have a strong enough case to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., law enforcement officials said.

That is so vague as to be meaningless. What law enforcement officials? Are they from Ferguson PD, St. Louis PD, the St. Louis DA’s office? It doesn’t sound like they’re from the DOJ.

“The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson,” said one person briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

One person did speak on the record:

Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said the case remains open and any discussion of its results is premature. “This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.

But, says the Post:

Other law enforcement officials interviewed by The Post said it was not too soon to say how the investigation would end. “The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

F**k you, Washington Post!

A few more Ferguson links:

CBS St. Louis, Report: Darren Wilson Expected to be ‘Eased Out’ of Police Department.

Ryan J. Reilly at HuffPo, Police In Ferguson Stock Up On Riot Gear Ahead Of Grand Jury Decision.

KSDK.com, MSU paper prints racial slurs directed at Ferguson protesters. Stay classy, MSU!

Little richard reads

Ebola Panic

Kaci Hickox talks about the judge’s decision that she doesn’t have to be locked in her home under police guard and can simply follow CDC guidelines on Ebola. From ABC News:

A nurse who fought quarantine rules after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa said a court ruling in her favor today will ensure that other health care workers returning from Africa are given “human treatment.”

“I am humbled today by the judge’s decision and even more humbled by the support that we have received by the town of Fort Kent, the state of Maine, across the United States and even across the border,” Hickox, 33, told reporters today from her home in Fort Kent.

A judge in Maine this morning ruled that Hickox could leave her home and spend time in public spaces despite other state officials’ attempts to force her into a mandatory quarantine until a 21-day potential Ebola incubation period ends.

The judge noted in his ruling that although the state’s fears may be irrational, they are real and Hickox should be mindful of them.

“I know Ebola is a scary disease,” Hickox said today. “I have seen it face-to-face.”

I can’t begin to say how much I admire this woman’s courage. Some reactions to Hickox from the Maine town she’s living in, Fort Kent residents divided on feelings over Kaci Hickox.

SeanConnery reads3

FORT KENT, Maine — On Friday afternoon Kaci Hickox, the nurse released from isolation after returning last week to the U.S. from West Africa, where she treated Ebola patients, thanked the residents of Fort Kent for their support and assured them she was sensitive to their concerns.

But not everyone in this northern Maine community is convinced Hickox has their best interest at heart and some say the fears people have of possibly being exposed to Ebola are negatively affecting local businesses.

The situation “is bound to affect the whole town,” Steve Daigle, owner of Stevie D’s Panini Plus said Friday. “The economy around here is already so fragile, every dollar we lose hurts us.” ….

On Friday, another business owner in Fort Kent, who did not want to give his name, said he, too, has heard from customers planning to shop out of town in the wake of the Ebola concerns.

A local dentist also voiced his displeasure that Hickox has not committed to home quarantine.

“I think that is very irresponsible of her,” Dr. Lucien Daigle said. “She cannot guarantee 100 percent she will not become symptomatic [and] in that worst-case scenario the ramifications will be beyond what you can imagine.”

Daigle said he has spoken to several customers who have told him they plan to shop out of town until the 21-day incubation period for the virus ends for Hickox on Nov. 10.

“People are afraid,” Daigle said.

At least people named Daigle are afraid…

A few more links:

WaPo, These scientific studies show that airport Ebola screenings are largely ineffective.

SFGate, Stanford doctor in Ebola quarantine in Bay Area.

Boston Globe, Vermonter being monitored for Ebola, governor says.

Reuters, Oregon resident hospitalized for possible Ebola virus infection.

NPR, How Liberia Is Starting To Beat Ebola, With Fingers Crossed.

Other News

Steve-McQueen-readsMore suggested reads, links only:

Alternet, How Conservative Christianity Can Warp the Mind.

Alternet, Why the GOP Is Going to Be in Deep Trouble If Their Crazy Tea Party Candidates Get into the Senate.

Politico, Why a GOP Senate could be short-lived.

The Daily Beast, If you like personhood, you’ll love the GOP Senate.

Five Thirty Eight, Senate Update: With 4 Days Left, Here’s The State Of The Races

Raw Story, Texas GOP’s Greg Abbott met border militia leader busted days later with explosives

ABC News, 2 Adult Human Skulls Found in Trash in Connecticut.

Medium, Fountains of Blood: The Supernatural Science of Immortality and Biological Magic.

Business Insider, A Virus Found In Lakes May Be Literally Changing The Way People Think.

Raw Story, Alex Jones’ website: Global elites producing an army of ‘killer clowns’ through unemployment.

LA Times, Liberal or conservative? Brain’s ‘disgust’ reaction holds the answer.

Boston.com, How GamerGate Is Influencing MIT Video Game Teachers.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a wonderful weekend!