Thursday Reads

Lane change

Good Afternoon!!

I’m getting a very slow start today–sorry about that! This is going to be pretty much a link dump.

I just can’t stop thinking about Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman–who still isn’t getting much attention from the national media. There is a nice article about Kindra in The Independent UK today.

Kindra Darnell Chapman was booked at the Homewood County Jail on a first-degree robbery charge after allegedly stealing another person’s cellphone, AL.com reported.

Family members and activists have compared the teen’s death to the case of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman found hanged in a Texas jail cell just a day prior. Kathy Brady, the teen’s mother told AL.com that she believes police officers have killed her daughter….

A family member, who requested to not be identified, told My Fox Alabama that Chapman was a “wonderful person who did not deserve this.”

“She was a great person. She loved her sisters, her brother, she loved everybody. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Kindra Chapman

Kindra Chapman

Police claim Kindra committed suicide. Two so-called suicides of black women in two days? Their families are demanding answers and Americans need to make sure they get truthful ones.

Police claim they last saw her alive at 6:30pm and at 7:50pm, they found her hanged by a bedsheets in her cell. The teen was rushed to Brookwood Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

A Change.org petition titled “We want immediate full disclosure on the alleged suicide of Kindra Darnell Chapman” demands transparency in the ongoing investigation. Nearly 2,700 signatures supported the petition as of Thursday morning.

A spokesperson from the Jefferson County DA’s office told The Independent that the autopsy may take up to four weeks and toxicology report may take six to eight, a usual time frame for the reports in Alabama.

The Sandra Bland case is getting massive coverage. Yesterday it was revealed that the video of Bland’s arrest had serious anomalies. The first to call attention to this was journalist Ben Norton. From his website: Dashcam Video of Violent Arrest of Sandra Bland Was Edited. If you go to that link, there are a number of updates. From the original piece:

The Texas Department of Public Safety uploaded dashcam police video of the arrest to YouTube on 21 July. Parts of the approximately 52 minutes of footage it uploaded appear to have been doctored.

A man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated….

At 32:37, a white car drives into the left side of the frame, then promptly disappears in the middle of the road. Seconds later, the same car drives back into the frame and subsequently turns left. This footage is later looped several times.

A different white car also drives into the left side of the frame and turns left from 32:49 to 32:59. The previous white car again briefly enters the frame at 33:04, and once more at 33:06, yet it suddenly disappears both times. When these cuts are made in the footage, the lights on top of the truck in the center of the frame also abruptly cut out.

At 33:08, the exact same footage from 32:37 is repeated, followed by the same second white car at 33:17….

It appears that someone cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia speaking. Who exactly edited the footage is unknown, but the video was recorded by police and released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Please go to the link to read the rest along with multiple updates. Here’s just one:

They told the Texas Tribune that the video has not been edited. This seems unlikely. It is possible parts of the repeated footage are encoding errors, but it is unlikely that the 15-second repeated clip of a man leaving the truck is an encoding error.

Others have also noted that police dashcam videos usually have timecode on the footage. In this video, the timecode do not appear. Why this is is unclear. There is no answer at this point and an investigation needs to be conducted. A possibility some have suggested, however, is that, if the footage was indeed edited, as it likely was, whoever edited it zoomed in on the video or cropped the timecode.

The LA Times has also examined the police videos closely. Today they have a side-by-side comparison of the video with the anomalies vs. the “cleaned-up” video.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Waller County officials are getting plenty of pushback. From KHOU:

Police agencies and city halls throughout Waller County continue to receive angry and sometimes threatening phone calls and emails from across the country after the tragic jail death of Sandra Bland.

And along with the Bland’s death, city leaders and residents say they also mourn the negative national spotlight the incident has brought to this corner of Southeast Texas.

“We are in some way being judged and victimized by people that don’t know us and are making assumptions about us,” said Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis, who has held face-to-face meetings with the Bland family.

Oh, boo hoo. Too f**king bad. Stop victimizing black people who drive cars through your county then.

The corporate media has mostly been focusing on trying to make Bland look like a crazy, depressed drug user. It also turns out she had epilepsy; and when she told the arresting officer that, he said “Good!” as he continued to manhandle her. The simple truth is that she never should have been stopped in the first place; and once she was stopped, the officer escalated the confrontation in unconstitutional ways. Regardless of how she died, Sandra Bland should be alive today and working in her new job.

Selected headlines on the Sandra Bland case:

Huffington Post: 6 Things You Should Know About The County Where Sandra Bland Died. This part of Texas has a long, complicated relationship with race.

Think Progress: What The Supreme Court Has To Say About Sandra Bland’s Arrest.

The New Republic: Sandra Bland Never Should Have Been Arrested.

CNN: Twitter responds to jail deaths with ‘if I die in police custody.’

CBS Chicago: Apparent Voice Mail From Sandra Bland Released; Tests Revealed Marijuana, Cutting Scars.

CTV News: Sandra Bland was incredulous, aggravated in calls from jail: report.

ABC News: Sandra Bland Had ‘Lows and Highs,’ Her Sister Says. (Who the hell doesn’t? I hate to think what they’d write about me from my past history!)

More News Headlines

NY Times: Kenya Trip Takes Obama Back to a Complex Part of Himself.

Dallas Morning News: Kenya eagerly awaits Obama visit.

CNN: Obama’s trip raises security concerns.

LA Times: The Reading Life: Happy birthday to me — and Raymond Chandler. (Today would have been Raymond Chandler’s 127th birthday.)

NY Times:E. L. Doctorow Dies at 84; Literary Time Traveler Stirred Past Into Fiction.

NBC News: Donald Trump’s Border Wall Would Cost Billions, Experts Say.

NY Times: Donald Trump Threatens Third Party Candidacy.

NPR: Texas Fights Suit After Denying Birth Certificates To Children Of Illegal Immigrants.

Raw Story: Lesbian couple breaks silence: We filed complaint against Oregon bakery to ‘stop being bullied.’

Brian Murphy at TPM Cafe: How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors.

Dallas Morning News: Ted B. Lyon Jr.: Let’s get real about Rick Perry’s Texas record

 


Wednesday Reads: Stolen Head, Captured Cow and Rufus T. Lightning Bug?

Nosferatu-Original-PosterGood Morning

Only a few real news stories for you this morning, simply because I’ve no idea what is going on out there…

Let’s just start this off with a strange story out of Germany…and it does not involve Greece.

Silent film legend F.W. Murnau’s head has been stolen · Newswire · The A.V. Club

Friedrich Plumpe, known professionally as F.W. Murnau, was one of the great artists of the late silent era, producing a string of masterpieces in Germany and America—most famously Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, and Sunrise—before his untimely death in 1931, at age 42. Murnau’s death occurred under murky circumstances—his Rolls Royce was being driven by a 14-year-old boy when it slammed into a light pole outside of Santa Barbara—leading to decades of speculation and rumor.

Today, the story of Murnau’s death gets a little bit weirder: Der Spiegel is reporting that someone has broken into the Plumpe family crypt outside Berlin and stolen the director’s head.

murnauIt is unknown how or when the perpetrators gained access to the tomb, though, notably, the coffins of the director’s brothers Robert and Bernhard were not disturbed. The Plumpe crypt is located in Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf, a large woodland cemetery known for its mausolea and dense forestation. According to local police, the break-in was first noticed on Monday morning.

This is not the first time that someone has broken into the crypt, and, at present, the cemetery’s administrators are weighing whether to permanently seal the tomb or to bury the director’s body separately from the rest of his family to prevent further vandalism. Police have reportedly found wax drippings at the scene, suggesting either a ritualistic element, or that Murnau’s head was stolen by old-timey grave robbers by candlelight.

About his death: GarboForever – The Death Mask of F.W. Murnau

Murnau-1

Murnau’s Death Mask
In 1931, seven days before the premiere of his film Tabu, he allowed a fourteen year-old Filipino boy named Garcia Stevenson to ride his limo. And for some absolutely bizarre reason, he let the boy drive the Packard vehicle beside him.

Stevenson, driving too fast and swerving to avoid a truck, eventually crashed against an electric pole, killing the legendary film director. Garcia was not hurt, nor the other person in the car, but Murnau’s head was cracked open on a roadside pole and he died at hospital shortly afterwards. He was 42 years old.


Garbo and the Death Mask (photomontage)

While the scandalous rumors surrounding Murnau’s death resulted in the appearance of only a handful of mourners at his funeral, Garbo showed up during the interment. Garbo also commissioned a death mask of him, which she kept on her desk during her years in Hollywood (not for her whole life, as many may think). Decades later, Garbo gave the Mask to Murnau’s family.

Murnau was later entombed on Southwest Cemetery (Südwest-Kirchhof Stahnsdorf) in Stahnsdorf near Berlin.

[…]

Today, the Death Mask belongs to the Filmmuseum in Berlin/Germany.

sjff_02_img0783‘Nosferatu’ Director F.W. Murnau’s Head Reportedly Stolen From Grave | Variety

In a story reminiscent of one of his own movies, grave robbers opened a metal coffin to access the filmmaker’s embalmed body, said the newspaper. Stahnsdorf is about 12 miles southwest of central Berlin. The nearby graves of his two brothers were not disturbed. Spiegel Online said some wax residue had been found near the grave, pointing to a possible occult connection.

Occult or grave robbing by candlelight…the thing is freaky.

FW Murnau Last LaughFor some background and links on FW Murnau films, look here:

FW Murnau | Film | The Guardian

TSPDT – F.W. Murnau (via the website: They Shoot Pictures Don’t They…)

“He made 17 films in Germany, and a final four in America. Of these, only 12 survive. They form a body of work as startling, and as compelling, as any in cinema. Murnau is hard to pin down. His work has no unifying theme; what runs through it all is an attitude to the image on the screen and to what it can express. There is a sense of life in the whole of every frame.” –The Illustrated Who’s Who of Cinema, 1983

047-sunrise-theredlistObama to hold news conference on Wednesday: White House

President Barack Obama will hold a news conference on Wednesday to answer questions about the nuclear agreement the United States and other world powers recently reached with Iran.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One that the news conference would take place in the East Room of the White House at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) before Obama leaves for a scheduled trip to Oklahoma.

I guess we will see more about this later today.

High global political stakes require Iran deal to succeed | MSNBC

He has to earn his Nobel Peace Prize every day

Tabu_R-1978I’m not sure if Obama will ever earn his premature Nobel — blame drones — but thanks to this Iran deal he’s closer than he’s ever been

Hillary Clinton: Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch | World news | The Guardian

Main contender for Democratic presidential nomination welcomes deal on Tehran’s atomic programme but warns of ‘swift consequences’ if breached

About that cow…Polish cow Matylda captured after two years on the run | World news | The Guardian

The cow that escaped from her Polish farm two years ago and lived a free range life in a nearby forest has finally been caught.

Owner Leszek Zasada spoke about his adventure with the brown cow in a story broadcast Tuesday by the all-news station TVN24.

MurnauHe said Matylda escaped in 2013 from his farm in Zloty Stok, in Western Poland, the day after he brought her home.

She survived two frigid winters on her own, but the time on the run took its toll. She lost the calf she was sometimes spotted with and returned home with many scars.

That Planned Parenthood Video About Selling Aborted Fetus Parts is a Fake, Because of Course It Is – The Daily Banter

The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook | Pew Research Center

Great…and you thought news articles had terrible writing now…imaging how it will be as “articles” get cut down to 140 characters in the form of a tweet.

(I know they are talking about live events and news stories as they happen…and linking tweets to articles, but in this evolving world that is becoming more like Idiocracy every day, you know what it will eventually come to. Ow my balls.)

New Horizons checks in OK after Pluto flyby | Ars Technica

 

And for Firefly? or is it Lightning Bug?

Regional Breakdown of “Firefly” Vs. “Lightning Bug” | Mental Floss

“What do you call the insect that flies around in the summer and has a rear section that glows in the dark?”

Bert Vaux, a linguistics professor at the University of Cambridge, asked 10,000 Americans around the country that question and others relating to regional dialects. If you use “firefly” and “lightning bug” interchangeably, like I do, you’re in good company. bfi-00m-j9kAcross the United States, 39.8 percent of respondents report using both terms. 30.4 percent say “firefly” exclusively and 29.1 percent say “lightning bug.” Meanwhile, 0.02 percent (or two people total in the study) call the bioluminescent bugs “peenie wallie” (perhaps they wanted to hurt the beetles’ feelings).

Joshua Katz, a graduate student in statistics at NC State University, turned the survey data into the map you see above, which shows how the exclusive use of “firefly” is a western phenomenon, with a small enclave of support in Massachusetts.

 

 

I guess that explains it. Firefly is a Hollywood thing.

I will leave it at that. Enjoy the videos of Rufus T Firefly below, from the film Duck Soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tumblr_m0xkh7YZEI1r0i1g5o1_500Jake got a speeding ticket the other day, 95 in a 70 zone. Along with following too close, and something else…his license will be suspended for six months. His attitude and depression was bad before, it is worse now.  It just gets better all the time, doesn’t it?

Anyway, please post links to things. Have a good Wednesday.

 


Tuesday Reads: Altered States While Driving, Plus Some News.

rainbow-road-by-db

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a slow start today. I was exhausted after my trip home, and I slept most of yesterday afternoon. I feel as if I could do that again today, and I just might.

There is lots of news this morning, but first I want to share a small epiphany I experienced while driving through Ohio on Saturday. Traffic was light and the weather was nice, partly cloudy and warm–with just enough sun to be bright but not enough for me to need sunglasses.

I was listening to an interesting program on NPR–I think it was Radiolab–about a man who described himself as solitary–practically a hermit–because he experienced so many problems in interacting with people. He enjoyed being alone more than anything else. His marriage to his first wife had broken up and she had taken their two children, whom he loved. The only relationships he had had that weren’t problematic were with his son and daughter. At one point, he learned that his ex-wife’s boyfriend was abusing his children, and he sued for custody. He didn’t get it because when he went to a psychological evaluation, he mistook another little girl in the office for his daughter. The psychologist questioned how he could be a good parent if he didn’t even recognize his own child.

The man moved to California and found a job where he didn’t have to interact with other people except over the phone, and it worked very well for him. Eventually he met a woman who seemed to understand him, and they lived together for years and eventually married.

pathway1I really identified with the story, because I find most of my difficult experiences involve interactions with other people. I have always preferred being alone to spending time with people–especially in large groups. As a child, I loved to read and could lose myself in a book and shut out the entire world. As a teenager, I loved to listen to music alone in my room, and I still read constantly. I always felt different–as if I didn’t belong in this world. I think that is the reason I like to drive long distances–I can be alone with no one to bother me, unless I want them to.

Anyway, it turned out that the man in the NPR story had prosopagnosia, or face blindness, a visual processing disorder in which a person has difficulty perceiving faces. He discovered this while he and his wife were watching a 60 Minutes program on this unusual cognitive problem. Interestingly, famed neurologist Oliver Sacks suffers from prosopagnosia.

At the point where the man learned what his problem was after years of struggling in relationships, I suddenly had my epiphany. I became aware of a feeling and I thought to myself. This is how it feels to be happy. I’m happy right now. Of course once I had the thought, I was no longer in the present moment, but the good feeling continued for some time as I listened to other stories on NPR.

Now I don’t think I have prosopagnosia–at least I got 6 right on a video test for it–so I don’t know why the NPR program had such a profound effect on me–maybe because I think there’s something wrong with me but I don’t know what it is. It would be great to have an answer. Why am I happiest when I’m alone but still can be in touch with people over the internet or on the phone? Maybe I’ll never know, but I definitely did have one of those peak experiences that Abraham Maslow wrote about.

0db78f8c3b8b

On Sunday, the second day of my trip, I was tired all day long and had trouble staying awake. I made good time across New York despite quite a bit of traffic; but the final leg of the trip on the Mass Pike was torturous. I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for more than an hour at one point and the the traffic was hellish the entire way. Oddly, I still felt that my experience of happiness the previous day made it all worthwhile.

I tried to find the NPR prosopagnosia story on-line, but I didn’t have any luck. I’d like to listen to it again.

Now that I’ve likely bored you to tears, I’ll get on with the news.

A deal has been reached with Iran. Politico reports: U.S., world powers reach historic deal with Iran.

The United States and five other world powers have reached a deal with Iran that would place strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions on its economy, the culmination of years of delicate diplomacy pursued by President Barack Obama despite warnings the agreement could strengthen Iran’s Islamist regime and leave it dangerously close to a nuclear bomb.

The historic accord, reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and his international counterparts in Vienna on Tuesday after 18 days of intense negotiations, now faces review from a hostile Republican-led Congress, opposition from every GOP presidential candidate, from Israel’s government and from Sunni Arab monarchs. The deal’s long and complex implementation process also leaves it vulnerable to unraveling.

pathways1

Speaking from the White House Tuesday morning, Obama called the deal a victory for diplomacy that would prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and avert a possible conflict with Iran.

“No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,” Obama said. He reaffirmed America’s commitment to Israel’s security and Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia, while adding that the U.S. is “open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.”

Obama also hinted at the possibility of a larger thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations. ”It is possible to change,” Obama told Iranians, urging them to take a “different path, one of tolerance, of peaceful resolution to conflict… This deal opens an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”

“This is the good deal that we have sought,” Kerry said in a statement from Vienna.

It’s another stunning victory for Obama. More from CNN: Landmark deal reached on Iran nuclear program.

After arduous talks that spanned 20 months, negotiators have reached a landmark deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program.

The agreement, a focal point of U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, appears set to reshape relations between Iran and the West, with its effects likely to ripple across the volatile Middle East.

Representatives of Iran, the United States and the other nations involved in the marathon talks were holding a final meeting in Vienna on Tuesday.

Obama praised the deal reached Tuesday morning, saying the agreement met the goals he had in place throughout negotiations.

“Today after two years of negotiation the United States together with the international community has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said from the White House, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also praised the deal, speaking after Obama finished, as televisions in Iran broadcast the U.S. President’s statement live, translated into Farsi.

“Negotiators have reached a good agreement and I announce to our people that our prayers have come true,” Rouhani said in a live address to the nation following Obama.

The essential idea behind the deal is that in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities, Iran would get relief from sanctions while being allowed to continue its atomic program for peaceful purposes.

newmexico-122

And from The Wall Street Journal: Oil Prices Fall as Nuclear Deal Paves Way for Iran Exports.

The possibility of up to a million new barrels of Iranian oil flooding global markets—the amount Iranian officials aim to deliver within months—comes at a critical time. China’s stock-market turmoil in recent weeks could slow an economy that was expected to account for a lot of energy-demand growth. U.S. production remains strong, and oil giants such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia are pumping record amounts.

With new Iranian supply, that has raised the specter of a fresh oil glut.

After recovering somewhat from a 60% drop earlier this year, global benchmark Brent crude has lost 15% since early Ma.. It fell further on Tuesday morning in London trading, to $57.30 a barrel on London’s ICE futures exchange. WTI crude futures, a benchmark largely for American oil, was down 1.7% on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Iran’s efforts to raise oil exports could not have come at a worse time, given the market’s lingering oversupply,” said Michael Cohen, an energy analyst at Barclays.
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In 2012, the U.S. and European Union imposed strict sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, and the country’s oil exports have been cut nearly in half as a result, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Iranian exports averaged 1.4 million barrels a day in 2014, down from 2.6 million barrels a day at the end of 2011, federal data show.

The speed and quantity of new oil that Iran can export hinge upon many difficult-to-predict factors. They include when Iran might be able to satisfy various countries and the United Nations that it has met the requirements of the deal, triggering the start of sanctions relief. Western officials have said that likely won’t happen until the end of 2015.

More bellyaching from the top 1% at the link.

CapeCodBeachPathway

The other big story is the major economic speech Hillary Clinton gave yesterday. Here’s a preliminary analysis by Paul Waldman at The American Prospect: Clinton Tries to Move the Economic Conversation Beyond Jobs.

As most of us understand, “Do I have a job?” is not the only question you might ask about your economic situation. That understanding is what Hillary Clinton is counting on as she delivers her first major economic address Monday, an attempt to articulate a vision that will not only provide a means of understanding the collection of policy changes she’ll be advocating in her 2016 campaign for president, but also contrast with the now 17 Republicans who want to face her next fall.

I’m writing this before the full text of Clinton’s speech is available, so what I have to go on is only the outline and selections that have been leaked to a couple of reporters (see here and here). But it’s clear that Clinton is attempting to expand the economic conversation beyond the two measures that usually dominate the discussion: job growth and GDP growth. “The measure of our economic success,” she’ll say, “should be how much incomes rise for middle-class households, not an arbitrary growth figure.”

So while Clinton is going to offer some proposals like an infrastructure bank meant to create jobs, most of her emphasis is going to be on increasing wages and improving working conditions with things like paid sick leave. To see why this is aimed at the Republican candidates, pay close attention to what they say when they’re asked about issues like wage stagnation and inequality. What you almost inevitably get is a brief acknowledgment that these things are indeed a problem, then a quick redirection to the policies they say will accelerate growth and create jobs. The last thing they want is to get into a detailed discussion about wages. If pressed, the best explanation they can come up with for why wages are stagnant, or why inequality has been increasing for many years, is that, like everything else that is not as we would like it to be, it’s the government’s fault.

Maine-Office-of-Toursim-That’s the nature of the problem they face where their ideological beliefs meet the requirements of a presidential campaign. They don’t believe that government can do much affirmatively to improve the economy, so their proposals tend toward “getting government out of the way”—in other words, not doing something new, but stopping something that’s already happening. But if you put a Democratic proposal like paid sick leave alongside a Republican proposal like loosening environmental regulations, it’s a lot easier to understand how the first is supposed to help workers than how the second would.

So as the discussion on economics shifts, Clinton can advocate for at least some policies that are new and meant to react to the changes that have taken place in the American economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, are unlikely to advocate much beyond what they always advocate. There may be some differences in the details, but its essence will be all too familiar: Cut taxes (particularly on the wealthy), cut regulations on corporations, accelerate the decline in collective bargaining, and wait for our glorious future of prosperity to begin.

More reactions following the speech–links only:

Business Insider: Hillary Clinton just called out the economic problem of the next decade.

Washington Post: Why Hillary Clinton made gender such a big deal in her major economic speech.

FiveThirtyEight: The Numbers Behind Hillary Clinton’s Economic Vision

I’ll add a few more news links in the comments. So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the thread below.


Tuesday Reads: The Republican Party’s Mess

 tea-party-confederate-flag-rally

Good Morning!!

I’m sure you’ll recognize the image at the top of this post. The photo was taken at a Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, a couple of years ago. I’ve included other similar photos in this post. Don’t tell me the people holding these flags don’t understand that it is a symbol of racial hatred.

Since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, we have seen shocking overt racism on display by right wing Republicans, and so called “mainstream” Republican elected officials have done nothing to stop it. The simple truth is that the Tea Party is a racist hate group that was formed in reaction to the election of a black president.

As a consequence of Republican officials’ refusal to call the Tea Party what it is, we have seen extreme right wing candidates like Ted Cruz elected to high office and stupid and hateful people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann treated seriously by the media. It’s a national disgrace, and we should begin to hold Republicans responsible for it.

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Nikki Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010 as a Tea Party candidate, although she has since fallen out of favor with the group. Yesterday Haley made a cowardly, mealy-mouthed public statement calling for removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds, and yet today she is being celebrated in the media for her “courage.” Here’s part of it:

For many people in our state the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry.

The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people of our state who respect, and in many ways, revere it.

Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. They also see it as a memorial. A way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.

At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state, we can survive and indeed we can thrive as we have done whilst still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here.

We respect freedom of expression. And that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.

But the statehouse is different. And the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way….

One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come. There will be some in our state who see this as a sad moment. I respect that. But know this, for good and for bad, whether it is on the statehouse grounds or in a museum the flag will always be a part of the soil in South Carolina. But this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.

It is South Carolina’s historic moment, and this will be South Carolina’s decision. To those outside of our state, the flag may be nothing more than a symbol of the worst of America’s past. That is not what it is to many South Carolinians. The state house belongs to all of us. Their voices will be heard, and their role in this debate will be respected….

But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capitol grounds.

Confederate-Flag-Flying-in-the-Sun

Why couldn’t Haley just admit that the flag on the her state house grounds is a symbol of resistance to integration and to legal recognition that African Americans should have equal rights; and that decades after the changes brought about by Civil Rights Movement they are still not treated equally by many, including police officers? By the way, maybe she should also consider opposing the efforts of Republicans in South Carolina to prevent African Americans from voting.

Last night I watch Rachel Maddow’s show for the first time in months, and I’m very glad I did. Maddow presented a detailed history of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group whose website inspired Dylann Roof to murder nine African Americans at a prayer group meeting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC last week. The Council of Conservative Citizens grew directly out of the White Citizens Councils  that fought to maintain racial segregation in Southern cities in the 1950s and 1960s. From Wikipedia:

The Citizens’ Councils (also referred to as White Citizens’ Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954 After 1956, it was known as the Citizens’ Councils of America. With about 60,000 members across the United States, mostly in the South, the groups were founded primarily to oppose racial integration of schools, but they also supported segregation of public facilities during the 1950s and 1960s. Members used severe intimidation tactics including economic boycotts, firing people from jobs, propaganda, and occasionally violence against civil-rights activists.

By the 1970s, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s and enforcement of constitutional rights by the federal government, the influence of the Councils had waned considerably. The successor organization to the White Citizens’ Councils is the Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1985.

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Maddow pointed out that in 2010, Haley Barbour was quickly eliminated from the race for the GOP nomination when he publicly praised the White Citizen Council in his home city of Yazoo, Mississippi. Maddow also interviewed SC Rep. James Clyburn about the history of the Confederate flag that still flies on the SC state house grounds. He explained that that flag was a Virginia flag flown by Robert E. Lee and that it has nothing to do with South Carolina history. It was put up over the SC state house in 1962 as a direct response to the battle for civil rights for African Americans.

Why couldn’t Nikki Haley simply admit that in her statement? Frankly, the Republican Party has allowed itself to become the party of racism and hatred; and it’s time for decent Republicans to face up to that and and deal with it honestly.

Here’s what Melissa McEwan wrote about Haley’s statement:

She couldn’t even be bothered to say that the thing is a racist symbol. Which has nonetheless not stopped members of her party from celebrating her courage.

The thing is, it’s not really “brave” to take down a flag that never should have been flying in the first place.

I see what Haley is doing as approximately as “brave” as when I clean up cat vomit. You’re supposed to clean up gross messes in your home….

let’s not pretend that it’s a Great Leadership moment, when it took 150 years of fluttering insult, and nine deaths in the last week at the hands of one of the many white people to embrace that contemptible symbol of white supremacy, to pull it off the flagpole.

tea-party-confederate-flag

I completely agree. As I wrote in a comment yesterday, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and fear that should be in the same category as the Nazi swastika and the “n” word. Why should people be allowed to fly it on their own property? Why should more intelligent and sensitive neighbors or even people driving by have to see it?

It’s way past time for Republicans to stop beating around the bush and clean up the disgusting mess in their party, and it’s time for all Americans to recognize that racism in any form is evil.

Here’s a more serious discussion of the meaning of the Confederate flag by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic:

What This Cruel War Was Over. The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the  people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:

…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states, including Mississippi

Please go read the whole thing at the link.

Republicans are now arguing that Democrats are responsible for the confederate flag symbolism and for the South’s history of racism. It’s true that Dixiecrats fought to maintain segregation, but most of those old guys switched to the Republican Party back in the Civil Rights era. The Republicans own the mess now, and they need to get busy cleaning it up.

As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments below.


Reactions to Hillary and Her Speech: The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Hillary speech1

Good Morning!!

Dakinikat will try to put up a post this afternoon if she can find time, but in the meantime, here are a few reactions to Hillary’s speech from the media and other politicians, as well as her interview with the Des Moines Register and a good article on the Clinton Foundation for us to discuss in the meantime.

The Good

From The Des Moines Register: Clinton hears ‘eagerness’ for talk of female presidency.

Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but her campaign succeeded in addressing concerns about whether a woman could be commander in chief, she told The Des Moines Register on Sunday.

“Part of what I tried to do in that campaign was to begin to answer that question,” she said. “Now I feel like the question’s been answered.” ….

“There is an eagerness that I sense coming at me from people in my audiences, in my conversations, to engage with me about that more than I felt in ’08,” Clinton told the Register on Sunday, one of two sit-down news interviews that were the first for this presidential bid.

In the 15-minute interview at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Clinton defended the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said she’ll propose improvements to the Affordable Care Act, and expanded on her views about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. She landed on the side of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over Obama in wanting to ensure stronger protections for American workers.

Read the rest at the link.

Hillary2

Inside Philanthropy: Shut Up About the Clinton Foundation’s Problems for a Minute to Look at It’s Programs.

With all the hype in the media about the Clinton Foundation, we wonder how many Americans actually know what the foundation does—or how many members of the media, for that matter.

Listening to news reports, you’d think the sole purpose of this outfit is to help the Clintons get rich and do favors for their shady friends. And while, to be sure, some of the reports about specific donors have been troubling—and suggest questionable judgment by the Clintons—what’s missing is a broader, more balanced look at how the foundation mobilizes money for good causes and who, in reality, puts up most of that money. (Hint: It’s not dictators looking for favors from the State Department.) While people shouldn’t stop asking hard questions about the foundation, they should pay more attention to its approach and programs.

In fact, the Clinton Foundation stands as one of the more successful efforts of recent years to mobilize new resources for philanthropy. Since its founding in 2001, it has raised nearly $2 billion, according an independent review by the Washington Post. Yes, chunks of that money have come from the Clintons’ network of political donors and corporate friends, which is how fundraising often works: You hit up the rich people you know for your causes. And, sure, some of them may not have the purest motives for ponying up, especially if you’re someone who can return favors later, but that’s the nature of the game.

Philanthropic fundraising is more like political fundraising than many may imagine. You think every hedge fund guy who gives big at the Robin Hood’s annual gala is solely focused on poor kids in East New York? Or that every tech leader who recently listened to Marc Benioff’s pleas and chipped in to fight poverty in the Bay Area has a heart of gold? Or that everyone sitting on MoMA’s board is only there because they love art? Come on.

Much more at the link.

Hillary populist

Matthew Yglesias at Vox gets it: Hillary Clinton has always been to Obama’s left on economics.

At a dramatic weekend rally on Roosevelt Island, Hillary Clinton unleashed a speech that was in some ways strikingly liberal, especially for a candidate who’s not facing meaningful opposition in the Democratic Primary. Politico’s Glenn Thrush says it shows that “the Democratic Party is moving left fast” and Clinton knows it, which is why she uncorked “economic-inequality rhetoric could have been comfortably uttered by the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Stiglitz, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley.”

The truth, however, is that on the kind of pocketbook issues that Clinton spent most of yesterday’s speech discussing, she’s alwaysbeen on the left wing of the Democratic Party. She’s been in the public eye far too long to have avoided inconsistencies over the years. But in positional terms, somewhat to the left of Obama — or Bill Clinton — on economics is where she’s been this whole time.

Yglesias goes into plenty of detail on Hillary’s record. Good piece!

hillary-clinton-h-stage-roosevelt-island

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton won the weekend on social media.

According to an analysis by Zignal Labs, The Washington Post’s campaign analytics partner, 59 percent of all 2016 chatter during the weekend was about her. That means three out of every five stories or posts written about any presidential contender mentioned the former secretary of State. By comparison, the week prior, she commanded just 20 percent.

A June 11 post from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at their new site #HillaryMen: A Woman Leading America – If Not Now, When?

Our premise is that Hillary’s inclusive vision, unwavering commitment to public service, progressive policies and unparalleled experience make her one of the best (and best qualified) candidates ever to seek the presidency. If Hillarycannot become the first woman in history to cross the presidential finish line, who can? If not now, when? When will we show our daughters that a woman can be president?

Viewing the 2016 election through an explicit gender lens, the ferocious attacks against Hillary are not just about her, but underscore the deeply ingrained resistance to any woman with a viable path to the White House. Does anyone believe that another female candidate could get within reach of the presidency without running headlong into the same double standard and institutional resistance confronting Hillary?

Spotlighting the gender aspect of the 2016 race does not mean we discount the centrality of issues and competing ideologies or the complex information processing that leads voters to choose a candidate. Nor is it our intention to make specific accusations of gender bias. We are simply acknowledging the political, social and cultural barriers that have resulted in a complete shut out in national U.S. politics, at 44-0. In nearly a quarter millennium, not a single woman has occupied our nation’s highest office.

This is going to be a great site to read for inspiration during the upcoming campaign. Thanks to Beata for posting about it in the comments on Saturday.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Zippos From Hell

06.24.12.04_525Good Afternoon

War is hell.

We all know that…so take a look at some Zippo lighters from hell as you peruse this link dump of massive proportions.

(I am talking a whole heap-a-dump-a-links because I found a lot of “stuff” to wade through this morning and I couldn’t help myself.)

That being said, here is where the images of the lighters can be found, along with a bit of information and history:

Vietnam-Era Zippos Engraved With Soldier’s Personalities

Accidental Mysteries: 06.24.12: Vietnam Zippo Lighters: Observatory: Design Observer

Pinterest: Zippos

And with this Vietnam War connection, a story:

Vietnam’s War Babies – Al Jazeera English

We follow a Vietnam war baby as she searches for her roots and finds instead a new generation of Vietnamese orphans.

Okay, on with the links:

Update on the Amtrak train wreck investigation, including the GOPs typical response when the shit hits the fan…cut spending even more.

Amtrak Engineer Wasn’t Using Phone Before Crash — NYMag

Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian does not appear to have been using his cellphone during last month’s deadly Amtrak crash outside of Philadelphia. The latest investigation from the National Transportation Safety Board also shows he “did not access the train’s Wi-Fi system while he was operating the locomotive.” Bostian has not remembered anything that happened during the crash. His lawyer has said that all the engineer recalls is “coming to, finding his bag, getting his cellphone and dialing 911.”

a2dfbe1859c4eaf7a468517193853f81Amtrak to test rail safety system in U.S. Northeast but problems persist | Reuters

Amtrak said on Wednesday that it has won government approval to test a new rail safety system between New York and Washington that federal inspectors say would have prevented the deadly May 12 derailment in Philadelphia.

But the Federal Communications Commission warned that the system, which relies on radio transmissions between trains and track sensors, could face “harmful interference” from rival freight railroad systems along another busy track between Boston and New Haven, Connecticut.

The statements were contained in separate pieces of written testimony submitted by Amtrak and the FCC to the Senate Commerce Committee ahead of a hearing on positive train control, or PTC, a new safety system that railroads are required to implement before Dec. 31.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the technology would have prevented last month’s accident, which occurred when an Amtrak train derailed on a bend while traveling at more than twice the 50 mile-per-hour (80 km-per-hour) speed limit. Eight people died and more than 200 others were injured.

72f6a0696144f3e663bb1dec23fb673fAmtrak intends to have PTC operating along sections of its busy Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington and Boston.

But the passenger rail operator said it could have to terminate its Southwest Chief service between Chicago and Los Angeles, and its Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City, because a dispute over $30 million in PTC implementation costs with freight railroads for track in the U.S. Midwest.

“Amtrak can test all of its wayside base stations from DC to New York at their full designated power to be sure they communication appropriately,” D.J. Stadtler, vice president of Amtrak operations, said in written testimony.

“Once that testing demonstrates that our system setting are appropriate, we can go into full operation on all equipped trains on the NEC.”

7b6b30373dcdc37132cdc05c853749faIt is not a fix by any measures, there are still problems because the railways in the Northeast are using two radio frequencies.  According to Charles Mathias, associate chief of the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau,

Amtrak and freight railroads are deploying two different PTC systems that are not compatible. On May 29, he said, the railroads told FCC staff that the use of the two PTC systems would result in “harmful interference” between Boston and New Haven.

“This could degrade or disable communications on both systems, causing either both to function improperly or stop functioning altogether,” Mathias said in written testimony.

Now then, take all that in because…here comes the fuck you from GOP Congress: Republican-Controlled House Passes Bill To Cut $242 Million From Amtrak’s Budget

The GOP-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday to cut Amtrak’s budget by $242 million, though lawmakers added new funding for video cameras inside locomotive cabs to record engineers and help investigators get to the bottom of crashes such as last month’s deadly derailment in Philadelphia.

f2f649acc443a8d1484f4cf3d006ed50Amtrak announced last month it is going to install the cameras after years of delays. The transportation and housing measure approved by a narrow 216-210 vote contains $9 million approved last week to fund the inward-facing camera initiative in the budget year starting in October.

Amtrak is among many domestic programs whose budgets are cut or frozen by the GOP measures, as automatic spending curbs known as sequestration are again hitting federal agencies after two years of relief. Previous House GOP attempts to cut Amtrak over the years have been reversed, and Tuesday’s transportation measure is but an opening move in a longer chess match with the White House over spending levels for agency operating budgets passed annually by Congress.

[…]

657c02db5929964a689df6bff2aa01daNew data provided to Congress shows that Amtrak’s long-distances routes are losing more money, however, while the busy, profit-making Northeast corridor route is making growing profits. Money-losing routes such as the Sunset Limited, which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles at a subsidy of more than $400 a ticket, account for losses of more than $600 million, while the Northeast corridor is expected to contribute a $357 million profit this year.

There is more at the link, I just thought that tidbit about the Northeast making the money for Amtrak was interesting. Considering that is where the safety issues are in the most dire need of attention…

This too: 6 laws signed by Republican presidents today’s GOP wouldn’t dare touch – Salon.com

This has nothing to do with the train crash but it is about a plane crash that gives me chills:

680ae86b7d5cbd05698683bcb3680b98Fatal A400M crash linked to data-wipe mistake – BBC News

A military plane crash in Spain was probably caused by computer files being accidentally wiped from three of its engines, according to investigators.

Plane-maker Airbus discovered anomalies in the A400M’s data logs after the crash, suggesting a software fault.

And it has now emerged that Spanish investigators suspect files needed to interpret its engine readings had been deleted by mistake.

This would have caused the affected propellers to spin too slowly.

The aeroplane crashed near Seville, during a test flight on 9 May, killing four crew members on board.

Several countries that had already accepted deliveries of the plane – including the UK – grounded them following the accident.

ebad8788c11f4c25804285bb6de6b664You got that? The computer wiped the files clean due to a software error…

The latest revelations about the investigation were first reported by the Reuters news agency.

It said the focus of the inquiry was a theory that files known as “torque calibration parameters” had been accidentally deleted during a software installation process ahead of the plane’s first flight.

A source later confirmed this to the BBC.

The control systems of the A400M aircraft are heavily automated.

Each engine is run by a separate computer called an Electronic Control Unit.

The ECUs take the pilot’s inputs and make the engines they control respond in the optimum way.

e60590e7b6f741eacc5e87dc6504c411The parameter files are used by the ECUs to interpret sensor readings about the turning force generated by each engine – the torque – which is used to make the attached propellers spin.

Without the files, the ECUs cannot make sense of this data.

This would explain why three of the plane’s four engines did not respond properly to the crew’s attempts to adjust their power settings shortly after lift-off.

Airbus has already confirmed that its pilots had tried switching the malfunctioning engines into “flight idle” mode – their lowest power setting – in an attempt to tackle the problem.

Without the parameter files, the engines would have been left stuck in this mode.

enhanced-buzz-12755-1345131637-1This is because the planes were deliberately designed to prevent out-of-control engines powering back up, to avoid them causing other problems.

It was not foreseen that three propellers would be affected simultaneously, making it impossible to keep the plane airborne.

“We are working closely with the official investigation, and we will act in accordance with the information that is discovered but are not able to discuss the findings,” a spokesman for Airbus told the BBC.

Spain’s Ministry of Defence, which is leading the investigation, has said it is not permitted to discuss the matter.

That is frightening, fucking horrifying.

enhanced-buzz-2597-1345131634-27So you have one instance where old-ass technology causing lack of communication is killing people riding in trains…and in one, an example of aviation computer tech mode that can cause a crash because it keeps the pilots from being able to be, well…pilots.

Next up, Women….Abortion….Soccer:

I am just giving the links on these, because y’all already know what I have to say on this.

Women raped by ISIS denied aid because of U.S. abortion laws – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times – WITW

Addicting Info – U.S. Maternal Death Rate Now Highest In The Western World, Thanks To GOP War On Women

enhanced-buzz-7848-1345142998-0Young Mom Charged With Murder For Home Abortion, Another ‘Pro-Life’ Victory! | Wonkette

Georgia Woman Faces Murder Charges for Taking Pill that Allegedly Killed Fetus | Alternet

After reading the story on this Georgia woman, take a look at this story in North Carolina…I wonder if this woman will be charged with Murder?

N.C. woman who disappeared is no longer expecting: family – NY Daily News

The pregnant North Carolina woman who vanished on the day of her C-section appointment is no longer expecting, her family said Tuesday.

Carrie Bradshaw-Crowther, 49, turned up Monday afternoon in Boone, a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains roughly 90 miles from her Salisbury home, nearly a week after she went missing.

enhanced-buzz-19401-1345143451-0I will keep you up to date on this.

Ireland’s abortion law tortures women. It needs to be legal | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian

The Scarcity Of Abortion Training In America’s Medical Schools

Fifth Circuit Protects Texas Ladies From ‘Unsafe’ Abortions By Letting Them Have None At All | Wonkette

Eschaton: Real Grass Is Too Good For The Wimmin

11 Questions About Women’s Rights Every Presidential Candidate Needs To Answer To Succeed In The Primaries | Bustle

9) Should Federal Concessions Be Made To Female Youths In Their Seasonal ”War On Dress Code?”

Bye!

A photo posted by Chloë Niccole (@chloe_niccole) on

Public school dress codes may appear irrelevant to politicians in Washington, but San Mateo High School Senior Chloe Cross’s senior quote has attracted widespread media attention for good reason. In districts across the country, formal dress code statements assert that female students must avoid certain fashions to not distract their male peers and adversely affect their abilities to learn. enhanced-buzz-8426-1345143707-2However trivial public school dress codes may seem in the adult world, if a vast majority of female students feel that their male peers’ educational experiences are prioritized above their own, it’s in the interest of American politicians to address the issue.

Violence against women with disabilities much more severe, research shows | Society | The Guardian

Every Serena Williams win comes with a side of disgusting racism and sexism – Vox

Zoë Saldana Speaks Out About Her Husband Taking Her Last Name

enhanced-buzz-3451-1341667270-8Addicting Info – Tenn. Christian School Board Candidate Arrested For Trying To Have His Wife Murdered (VIDEO)

This next article is good, just take a look: Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Get A Fucking Neck Tattoo

It relates to all these links on women, I promise.

15 Tattoos That Transformed Breast Cancer Scars Into Artwork | Diply

And a quick recall: What the fuck? Did Jim Bob Duggar admit that fundamentalist families have a sibling molestation problem?

Former Homeschooler Says Duggar Family’s Fundamentalist Education Teaches ‘Rape Culture’ | Alternet

06.24.12.08_525Duck Dynasty Dude Was Molested Too, And Not Just By Family’s Gross Religious Beliefs | Wonkette

Okay, some links on Caitlyn…about the Transgender thing in the real world:

Caitlyn Jenner’s Transition Is Far From Average: Why That Matters | Kasey M. Dunton

Just a clip?

Most of us don’t have millions of dollars thanks to a long-running show. Nor do most of us get paid to film a series about our transition or to appear on the cover of a magazine. Caitlyn’s transition is paid-for, and even if no one else will hire her, she’s not in any danger of poverty.

06.24.12.10_525I think that’s why we’re eager to celebrate her. She’s the equivalent of the fluffy gay friend character: all the diversity without any of the issues. She doesn’t make us talk about poverty or hate crimes (a trans person is murdered roughly every 12 days) or not being seen the way she wants.

Which goes to the second reason we’re so excited for her: She fits the ideal of what a woman in our society “should” look like: white, slim, coquettish, glamourous, and doesn’t “looking like a man.”. As Laverne Cox pointed out this week, not all of us will ever look like that. Not all of us can, and not all of us want to. Sure, in my dream body I’d be 6′ tall with a 6 pack and a great jawline, but no amount of hormones will ever let me look like that. I suspect many cisgender people have felt the same. It’s a problem for everyone, but it’s even worse for trans people because we not only have to justify our worth as people by our conventional attractiveness, but justify that we are worthy of being called the name and pronoun we choose based on antiquated standards.

06.24.12.17_525And other Caitlyn responses:

Transitions · Savage Love · The A.V. Club

What Makes a Woman Is Less Important Than What Makes a Feminist– Cosmopolitan Magazine

And one last link on women: President Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Need First Lady, Hos Can Just Take Turns | Wonkette

Confirmed bachelor and official ladies’ man Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is under the impression he is running for president, got asked a real tough question Tuesday: Hey, since you don’t have a pretty, doting wife, who will be the First Lady of America when you are president? Graham’s answer was very bad! No for serious, this is what he said, to the Daily Mail:

‘Well, I’ve got a sister, she could play that role if necessary.’

Chuckling, he added: ‘I’ve got a lot of friends. We’ll have a rotating first lady.’

06.24.12.19_525LINE STARTS HERE, at Graham’s svelte buttocks. Does each lady (excluding his sister, GROSS) get to experience the hot presidential lovin’ we are certain will be the hallmark of the Graham White House? MAYBE!

Clearly, this should be a game show, we hope the producers of “So You Think You Can Dance Like A Fifth Grade Idol” are paying attention! It could be called “So You Think You Can Be One Of President Graham’s Beards Bitches,”

The next few links are on the Texas Pool Party:

Elisabeth Hasselbeck: McKinney Chief ‘Threw Officer Under the Bus’ | Mediaite

Black and white witnesses agree: McKinney pool party fight started when white mother slapped a black teen | theGrio

The only good news about the McKinney pool party is the white kids’ response to racism – Vox

06.24.12.20_525NYPD Chief: Recruiting Black Cops Is Hard Due to Criminal Histories | TIME

Addicting Info – Sean Hannity Defends McKinney Cop: Black Teens Could Have ‘Shanked’ Him (AUDIO)

Texas radio host: Cops used force on pool party ‘jungle animals’ because whites were ‘scared to death’

Black children are not even safe from police violence at a pool party | Steven W Thrasher | Comment is free | The Guardian

Watching a young black woman, vulnerable and almost naked in her bathing suit, being manhandled by a cop made me cry

Texas Pool Party Cop Resigns To Spend More Time Wrestling His Family To The Ground | Wonkette

I have one thing for this cop, he needs to take this quiz:

Can an online quiz spot a psychopath? | Science | The Guardian

06.24.12.22_525I think this dude, Rumsfeld, could also be a candidate for the test:

Donald Rumsfeld Blames Bush For Iraq Democracy Fail | Informed Comment

Two final links for you:

The Skyrocketing Cost of Brand Name Prescription Drugs | David Belk

and

Obama smoking? President caught on camera holding ‘pack of cigarettes’ | TheHill

President Obama, who claimed when he first entered the White House to have mostly kicked his nicotine habit, may have been caught on camera holding a pack of cigarettes.

The Commander-in-Chief is seen clutching a white object in a snapshot with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi posted Sunday on Instagram by Renzi’s spokesman.

Obama and Renzi were both In Germany attending the G7 summit.

Several social media users questioned whether Obama was holding cigarettes in the pic, with one writing, “Smoking?”

The White House did not immediately respond to ITK’s request for comment on the photo and the last time President Obama had had a cigarette.

It’s not the first time Obama’s claims of being mostly nicotine-free have been questioned.

In November, ITK broke the story that Obama invited Billy Joel to have a smoke at the White House with him.

According to a source who spoke with Joel, Obama said to the “Piano Man” singer during his 2013 visit there, “I’m going out on the North Portico to have a smoke. Do you want to come with me?”

Obama said in 2009 that he “constantly” struggles with cigarettes.

“Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No,” he said at the news conference.

Who the fuck cares!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Next thing these people will have going is that it is a packet of Kools…

These links should hold you for a while.

Have a great Wednesday!


Tuesday Reads: GOP Anxious About Upcoming SCOTUS Decisions

Oblique_facade_3,_US_Supreme_Court

Good Morning!!

The Supreme Court is in the news today, as its current session approaches its end.

The two most consequential decisions to be announced will have serious implications for the health care system and settle the question of same sex couples should have equal rights to marry and have the same benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples. Some other important decisions have already been announced.

The Obamacare case is the one making news today, after President Obama spoke publicly about the upcoming decision on the Affordable Care Act yesterday at the G7 Conference in Germany.

Politico reports, Obama: Supreme Court shouldn’t have heard Obamacare challenge.

President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, questioning why justices even took up a case that imperils his signature health insurance reform plan.

The high court is set to issue a decision on the case, known as King v. Burwell, by the end of the month. A ruling against the government would mean that 6.4 million people in the 34 states relying on the federal Healthcare.gov website would be at risk of losing subsidies that make their insurance affordable.

“This should be an easy case. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up,” Obama said at a news conference after the G-7 summit in Krun, Germany. “Since we’re going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it’s important to assume that the Supreme Court’s going to do what legal scholars would expect them to do.”

Obama repeated the administration’s contention that there’s no contingency plan or fix to keep insurance markets from going into a tailspin, predicting that the justices would decide in his favor. And in any case, he added, Congress could fix the ambiguous phrasing of the health law “with a one-sentence provision.”

Don't take my care

But Republicans made it clear that they aren’t going to allow an easy fix. From Bloomberg, GOP Swiftly Rejects Obama’s ‘One-Sentence Fix’ to Obamacare If Supreme Court Voids Subsidies.

“Let’s be clear: if the Supreme Court rules against the Administration, Congress will not pass a so called ‘one-sentence’ fake fix,” Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, who is leading Republican efforts to craft a contingency plan, said in a statement.

At issue is whether a handful of words in the Affordable Care Act mean the government cannot provide insurance tax credits for millions of Americans in 34 states enrolled through HealthCare.gov, rather than a state exchange. Without the subsidies, insurance will become unaffordable to many and premiums are almost certain to skyrocket across the board. Even so, Barrasso and his fellow Republicans say Obama acted illegally by doling out the subsidies. A victory in the case King v. Burwell would probably create chaos, and ironically put Republicans on the hook for resolving it.

In his statement, Barrasso accused Obama of “bullying the Supreme Court” and said the Republican-led Congress is “prepared to help” Americans who may be harmed.

But is it? Republicans have struggled to coalesce around a contingency plan if the ruling goes their way. A victory could backfire on the GOP without a viable response, as Democrats would be armed with attack ads accusing them of pushing for a ruling that threw millions of Americans off their health care plans without a plan to help them.

Even a simple fix is dangerous for Republicans. Conservative lawmakers in the House worry that a such a move to clarify that the subsidies are available in all 50 states would be attacked by their base as a vote for Obamacare.

Obama care scotus

According to The Hill, Republicans fear they will win ObamaCare court battle.

Republicans in Congress are worried the Supreme Court will hand them a major headache this month if it rules against the federal health insurance exchanges in more than 30 states, ending subsidies for millions of people.

While the Affordable Care Act remains broadly unpopular, two new polls show a majority of Americans don’t want to do away with its subsidies, a core component of the law.

This poses a conundrum for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). They are under pressure from colleagues up for reelection in swing states and districts to extend the subsidies, at least temporarily, if the court strikes them down. But doing so would risk a backlash from the conservative base.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in King v. Burwell, which could strip 6.4 million people of health insurance subsidies, in late June.

States that would be hardest hit by a ruling against the law include the Senate battlegrounds of Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Greg Sargent at Morning Plum: In battleground states, voters don’t want Supreme Court to gut subsidies.

As your humble blogger has tirelessly reiterated, the states with the highest numbers of people who stand to lose subsidies if the Supreme Court guts them also happen to be the main presidential and Senate battleground states. That overlap could increase the political stakes in the battle that will follow any Court ruling against the ACA.

Now a new Washington Post poll confirms the stakes here. It finds that in many key battleground states, a majority says the Court should not end subsidies for those on the federal exchange.

The Post poll finds that among Americans overall, 55 percent oppose a Court decision killing the subsidies, while only 38 percent support it. Independents oppose such a decision by 57-36, while Republicans are alone in supporting a decision against the ACA by 55-34.

Among the states in which the largest numbers of people may lose subsidiesare Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Ohio. Those are key presidential battlegrounds, and Republicans are defending Senate seats in five of them.

The upcoming marriage equality decision could also backfire on Republicans:

SCOTUS rainbow flag

The LA Times: GOP’s same-sex marriage trap: Conservatives oppose it intensely.

The Supreme Court may be just weeks away from declaring a nationwide right to same-sex marriage with a ruling likely to trigger public opposition — and private sighs of relief — from most Republican presidential hopefuls.

Why relief? The marriage issue increasingly has become a trap for Republicans, and a Supreme Court decision that takes the matter out of the political process would provide the easiest exit. The court is expected to rule this month on whether the Constitution protects marriage rights for gay couples.

new poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center highlights Republicans’ predicament. By 57% to 39%, Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. But among Republicans, only about one-third agree.

Moreover, among those who describe themselves as conservative Republicans, 40% say the issue is “very important” to them, and they overwhelmingly oppose marriage rights for gay couples.

Overall, the poll found, opponents of same-sex marriage are more likely than supporters to describe the issue as “very important.” In part, that may be because about two-thirds of white, evangelical Protestants, who make up a large share of the opposition, say there is “a lot” of conflict between homosexuality and their religious beliefs.

For would-be Republican presidential nominees, that sets up a difficult problem. Support for same-sex marriage rights would put a candidate at odds with a huge bloc of voters in GOP primaries on an issue they deem “very important.” But vocal opposition to those rights would put a candidate out of step with a large and growing majority of the public.

Love is love

Recently announced SCOTUS decisions:

Yesterday the Supreme Court decided that U.S. citizens who were born in Jerusalem cannot list their birthplace as Israel on their U.S. Passports. Richard Wolfe at USA Today:

The Supreme Court declined Monday to insert itself into the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by second-guessing U.S. policy on Jerusalem.

Ruling just a few months after a feud between President Obama and Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu, the justices refused to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to have their passports changed to reflect Israel as their birthplace, as Congress demanded more than a decade ago.

In denying the challenge waged by the Jewish parents of a 12-year-old almost since his birth in 2002, a majority of justices heeded the State Department’s warning that a simple passport alteration could “provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 6-3 decision for the court, which needed more than seven months following oral arguments in early November to decide the congressional law was unconstitutional. It was the longest-pending high court decision.

“The power to recognize or decline to recognize a foreign state and its territorial bounds resides in the president alone,” Kennedy said, citing examples from the French Revolution in 1793 to President Jimmy Carter’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1979.

Lyle Denniston has a detailed analysis of this decision at SCOTUSblog.

SCOTUS justices

In another interesting decision, the Court let stand a San Francisco gun control law. NPR reports, Supreme Court Rejects NRA Challenge To San Francisco Gun Rules.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block two San Francisco gun control measures that were fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association. At least one veteran court observer says the high court’s decision raises questions about how the justices interpret the Second Amendment.

First, the basics: A 2007 San Francisco ordinance requires residents to keep handguns under lock and key or to use trigger locks when they are not carrying their weapons. Another law, dating to 1994, bans the sale of ammunition that expands on impact, or hollow-point bullets.

Plaintiff Espanola Jackson and seven other petitioners, including the NRA, filed suit in 2012. They sought an injunction to keep the lockbox law from being enforced. But in March 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the City and County of San Francisco and left both measures intact.

Read more at the link.

Finally a new CNN poll shows that Americans don’t trust the current Supreme Court on “key issues.

With major Supreme Court decisions on health care and same-sex marriage expected this month, many lack trust in the Supreme Court’s handling of those two issues, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

Yet most approve of the way the court is handling its job generally.

A majority, 52%, say they approve of the way the court is handling its job, while 41% disapprove. That’s an improvement from an even 48% to 48% split two years ago. Still, when Americans are asked how much they trust the court on a range of issues it will be considering this term or the next, the worst ratings come on health care and same-sex marriage. Only about half say they have at least a moderate amount of trust in the court on health care (50%) or same-sex marriage (49%). There is more faith in the Supreme Court on other key issues on the docket, with most saying they trust the court at least a moderate amount on freedom of speech (69%), voting rights (65%) and the death penalty (60%).

Read the rest at CNN.

What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread, so please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments.