Monday Reads: The Barbed Wire Fence Treatment

Statue_of_Liberty_7It’s a Monday and it feels like it!!!

The one thing Martin O’Malley said Saturday night that really stayed with me was his assertion that the symbol of the United States is not the barbed wire fence but the Statue of Liberty.  We’re having our principles and values tested and many of our elected leaders are coming up short.  This includes my absentee Governor Bobby “the Jingoist” Jindal and the Governor of Texas both who profess to belong to a religion where the guru clearly states this:

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’…

Matthew 25:42

I am not one to quote folks’ imaginary friends.  But, this is ridiculous.  You can’t profess that religion and then totally ignore the overwhelming message of its primary teacher which is basically to love one another and help the least among us.
Unlike the self aggrandizing election propaganda pushed by the likes of David “Spy Master and professional John” Vitter and Bobby Jindal (alleged christians), there have not been 10,000 Syrian refuges sent to Louisiana.  There have been 14 relocated to the state.  Jindal and others want our doors slammed shut to the refugees fleeing an enemy of our own creation.

A day after Gov. Bobby Jindal sent a letter to the White House demanding to hear from President Barack Obama the number of Syrian refugees who have been allowed into Louisiana, the State Department confirmed the number this year was 14.

“As Governor of Louisiana, I demand information about the Syrian refugees being placed in Louisiana in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here,” Jindal wrote in his letter Saturday.

Jindal’s letter came at the end of a day in which multiple blogs reporting that 10,000 Syrian refugees had already made their way to New Orleans went viral. Many of the blogs were published earlier this month but appeared to gain new life following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

Seven Syrian refugees have been resettled in Kenner, while six have been placed in New Orleans with one placed in Baton Rouge, a State Department spokesperson said Sunday in response to a request for the numbers from WWL-TV.

The blogs that cited the figure of 10,000 refugees also include an image, purportedly of Syrian men in New Orleans, which actually is a photograph of migrants protesting outside of a train station in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 3.

While the Obama administration has announced plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refuges in the United States in 2016, the State Department on Sunday said those people will be spread across the country, not in one area.

“We do not have projections on how many Syrians will be resettled in each state. However, those allocations are made in close collaboration with the nongovernmental organizations that resettle refugees as well as with state and local government officials,” the State Department said in a statement.

Indeed, the State Department already has a rigorous background check and process in place to assure that our country is safe and that we can welcome refugees and folks that want to become part of the United States.  Here’s a transcript of a briefing on the process.  You can read more to find more about the programs in each of the countries generally impacted by the current refugee crisis.Emma_Lazarus_plaque

So we refer to the program as the USRAP, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, so if I use that acronym that’s what that means. So the USRAP is an interagency process that includes three primary U.S. Government agencies. That’s us, the Department of State, as the primary lead agency; the Department of Homeland Security, specifically U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and the Department of Health and Human Services, their Office of Refugee Resettlement.

So this USRAP involves those three government agencies as well as international organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, a number of nongovernmental organizations – these we normally refer to as resettlement agencies in the United States – as well as U.S. states, cities, private citizens, churches and mosques, and community groups. So it’s a lot of people involved, big process, fairly standard procedures.

So there are a number of processing requirements within the USRAP that cannot be waived, such as an in-person DHS interview, security checks, and a medical exam, including a TB test. And this is one way – one of the many ways in which our Refugee Resettlement Program differs from a lot of other countries’ resettlement programs. A lot of other countries can do things like waive an in-person interview. They can take a case based on dossier. They do very few security checks in some cases. Those are not options that are available to us. So because of these very strict requirements that we have and because at any given time we’re processing cases in 70 or more locations worldwide with a limited amount of resources, it currently takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months or even longer to process a case from referral or application to arrival in the United States.

And I want to focus on that for just a second and repeat that, because it’s an important point. If we had a much smaller case load – let’s say if we processed 5,000 or 10,000 or even 20,000 people a year, and if we only processed in capitals where we have a physical presence, like Amman or Nairobi – processing times would be much shorter. But because we accept referrals from UNHCR for refugees in remote locations and camps all over the world – places like eastern Chad and western Tanzania that are pretty difficult to get to – we can’t send our staff up to interview a case as soon as we have one referral or ten referrals or even a hundred referrals. We’re constantly looking for a critical mass of cases before we go and start processing those cases.

The USRAP is a labor-intensive program. Between the three government agencies, we spent last year a little bit more than $1.1 billion, so it is a labor-intensive and fairly resource-intensive program.

So I’m going to go over the main steps on the overseas processing side first. And the first important step in getting access to the USRAP is either a referral or an application. The vast majority of our referrals come from UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN Refugee Agency. U.S. embassies and certain NGOs are also qualified to refer cases to us, but we get very few from those two sources. About 75 percent of our referrals to the program come from UNHCR. Another 25 percent of the program – so about a quarter of the program – a quarter of our applicants gain access through direct applications. And so some of you are probably familiar with some of these direct application programs.

Four right-wing, hysterically christian governors are shamefully refusing to resettle Syrian refuges. 


At least four Republican governors are moving to block Syrian refugees from entering their states after Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 125 people and wounded hundreds more.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday joined Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in refusing to accept refugees from Syria. “A Syrian ‘refugee’ appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack,” Abbott wrote in a letter informing President Barack Obama of his plans not to allow Syrian refugees into Texas. “American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger.”

Abbott argued that neither the president nor any federal official could guarantee the refugees wouldn’t be part of any terrorist activity. “As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril,” he wrote.

Despite Friday’s deadly attacks, the White House has said Obama still plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.

Hutchinson, Bentley and Snyder have also announced their intentions to halt Syrian refugees from entering their states, with the latter two stating their opposition Sunday.

I cannot be happier that my governor is on his way to oblivion given this executive order. He is a small minded, mean little man who is full of self loathing and hypocrisy.    It also looks like Senator David Vitter is about to join him in anonymity and no more jobs based on tax payer dollars.  These men can’t even self govern their demons let alone the interests of other people.

Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Monday (Nov. 16) to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in Louisiana.

In issuing the order, Jindal referenced last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and injured hundreds more. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Jindal said the introduction of Syrian refugees into the U.S. without “proper prior screening and follow-up monitoring could result in a threat to the citizens and property of this state.”

He cited a section of the Louisiana Constitution that says “during times of emergency… the governor has emergency powers to protect the citizens and property of the state of Louisiana.”

Jindal also sent a letter to the Obama administration on Saturday demanding information about the refugees being placed in Louisiana.

The Governors of Alabama and Michigan joined in the lunacy. Way to let the terrorists win dudes!!!!  This is mostly symbolic which makes it even more shameful.

Legally, the states have limited power to control the flow of foreigners into their states; that authority is reserved largely to the federal government under the Constitution.

936365-statue-liberty_14196_600x450This is especially shameful because we’ve found out that the passport of a supposed Syrian refugee involved in the Paris Massacre was in fact, a false flag operation.  It was a falsified document.  The people who staged the Paris attacks are primarily native French and Belgians.  They were not Syrian refugees.

As the dust settles on the Paris attacks, intelligence agencies are scrambling to gather information on the reported attackers. Passports collected on-scene have helped identify the nationalities of a few of the attackers, most of whom are from the European Union. A Syrian passport has also been found, though authorities have warned it could be fake.

French authorities believe that as many as 20 people were involved in planning the attack, claimed by ISIS (also known as ISIL or the Islamic State). Most of the released information indicates that the attackers were born and raised either in France or Belgium. Omar Ismail Mostefai (1) and Salah Abdeslam (2) — who is still at large — are the two names to be officially released so far. Mostefai, who detonated himself in a suicide attack on Friday, was a French national who grew up south of Paris while Abdeslam was born and lived in Brussels.

The passport of an Egyptian national was also found.  That man was a victim of the attacks and is critically injured.

Additionally, it shows a shameful lack of understanding of ISIS which is a radical Sunni element that is against ANYONE that’s against its interpretation of Islam.  The primary military battles right now are with other ethnic Muslims, notably the Kurdish.   ISIS has its own strategy and agenda.  It is an apocalyptic cult–much like that of many fundamentalist christian sects in our country–with the goal of establishing a path to the end times and a theocracy based on its interpretation of Muslim theology. It’s at war with every one that’s not ISIS.  It has not singled out the west or its culture which is why it also did suicide attacks in Lebanon in close proximity to the Paris attacks.  All of the Republican candidates for President are terribly ill-informed when it comes to affairs of state as is their base.

But ISIS isn’t a civilization. In parts of Iraq and Syria, it’s a self-declared, though unrecognized, state. Elsewhere, it’s a network of terrorist groups linked by a common ideology. “Civilizations” are cultural groupings. In calling the Paris attack a “clash of civilizations,” Rubio evoked Samuel Huntington’s famed 1993Foreign Affairs essay of the same name. In that essay, Huntington defined “civilization” as “the broadest level of cultural identity people have.” And he suggested that the world contains “seven or eight” major ones: “Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African.”

The most straightforward way to interpret Rubio’s statement, therefore, is that the civilizational “they” that attacked Paris is Islam. Among the grassroots conservatives Rubio is wooing in his campaign for president, that’s a popular view. After all, recent polling in states like Iowa and North Carolina suggests that upwards of one-third of Republicans would like to make Islam illegal in the United States.

Ben Carson and Donald Trump have indulged that sentiment crudely. Rubio, typically, is doing so more subtly. But it’s worth noting how fundamentally his analysis diverges from that of both of America’s post-9/11 presidents. George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had “hijacked Islam” in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve. Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.

These Republican governors are playing into ISIS’ hand.  They want the west to look bad to Muslims all over the world.  They want us all characterized as ‘Crusaders’ and not loving humanitarians capable of discerning evil from ordinary people.   Europe has its own set of right wing xenophobes which parrot similar tropes.statue-of-liberty-sunset

The Islamic State’s strategy is to polarize Western society — to “destroy the grayzone,” as it says in its publications. The group hopes frequent, devastating attacks in its name will provoke overreactions by European governments against innocent Muslims, thereby alienating and radicalizing Muslim communities throughout the continent. The atrocities in Paris are only the most recent instances of this accelerating campaign. Since January, European citizens fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have provided online and material support to lethal operations in Paris,Copenhagen and near Lyon, France, as well as attempted attacks in London,Barcelona and near Brussels. Islamic State fighters are likely responsible fordestroying the Russian airliner over the Sinai. These attacks are not random, nor are they aimed primarily at affecting Western policy in the Middle East. They are, rather, part of a militarily capable organization’s campaign to mobilize extremist actors already in Europe and to recruit new ones.

The strategy is explicit. The Islamic State explained after the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine that such attacks “compel the Crusaders to actively destroy the grayzone themselves. . . . Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize . . . or they [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the Crusader governments and citizens.” The group calculates that a small number of attackers can profoundly shift the way that European society views its 44 million Muslim members and, as a result, the way European Muslims view themselves. Through this provocation, it seeks to set conditions for an apocalyptic war with the West.

Unfortunately, elements of European society are reacting as the Islamic State desires. Far-right parties have gained strength in many European countries. France’s National Front is expected to dominate local elections in northern France this winter; on Saturday, Marine Le Pen, its leader, declared “those who maintain links with Islamism” to be “France’s enemies.” The Danish People’s Party gained 21 percent of the vote in national elections in June on a nationalist, anti-Islamic platform. The anti-foreigner Sweden Democrats is steadily growing in popularity.

I remember taking American History in Junior High School. We were beginning to delve into World War 2 in a much more nuanced way.  Since I eventually became a history major, I was fascinated by all aspects of history including our culpability in genocides and injustice.  I was horrified to find out that we turned away many European Jewish immigrants prior to the NAZI take over.  That, and our internment of Japanese citizens was my first experience at critically looking at our country’s modern history of White Christian Male privilege. I discovered the genocide of indigenous people and the horrors of slavery earlier but had thought we’d evolved with the Civil Rights Era.

  I do not want our children to ask us why we did not act to save innocents from evil. Being Jewish in German-occupied Europe was a death sentence for those folks. We were complicit.   We should not be complicit in this again because we can do something.

Just as my mind knows the faces of Jewish friends who lost family in Germany, I know Syrians with family dead, dying, and trying to escape the horror there. I condemn strongly the hatred, bigotry, and ignorance of any one playing into the hands of ISIS.  This is not the Iron Age.  This is not the Dark Ages.  American is better than people like David Vitter, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and the likes. Notice that TWO of these folks are the children of immigrants too!   What if we had closed our doors on them because they were Catholic? They were dark skinned and from India?  How dare they redefine our country?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

H/T to Winter Claire Randall for the Matthew quote and to David Bernstein for the State Department link.

Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!

$_1Well, I really didn’t think I’d end up writing my next morning reads about Scott Walker although we’ve covered his reign of terror in Wisconsin quite a bit.  It appears the Koch sponsored Governors are not doing very well this year.  Walker’s coffers were full of funds but his campaign was as empty as bucket with a hole much like his rhetoric and ideology.

After a dramatic fall from the top tier of Republican presidential candidates over the last several weeks, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ended his bid for the White House Monday.

“Today, I believe that I’m being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” Walker announced at a press conference in Madison, Wisconsin on Monday. “With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.”

“I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front runner,” Walker went on to say, referring to current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

Walker’s run started on July 13 and lasted 71 days.

The move comes just two months after polls showed Walker leadingTrump in the crucial, first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa. Many pundits considered Walker to be a favorite for GOP nomination after his successful recall election in Wisconsin in 2012 and his establishment support.

But over the last several weeks, Walker has fallen dramatically in national polls, registering at less than 0.5 percent in the latest national CNN/ORC poll this weekend. In Iowa, where for much of the year Walker was considered the favorite to win the first in the nation caucuses, Walker slid from 19 percent to 5 percent in just six weeks of NBC News/Marist polling.

Walker first gained attention in Iowa for a speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January. But after riding high in the polls in that state for over half the year, Walker was outpaced in the polls following a lackluster performance in the first televised Republican debate.

Walker, never having graduated college, pitched himself as an outsider to Washington and argued that the next president needed to be a governor.

Walker’s governorship was ideological from the get go. Anyone with a critical eye toward results can see the damage he’s done to Wisconsin.   Kansasil_214x170.606870553_gs4t and Louisiana also stand out as failed states in the ALEC/Koch style.  It’s not like any of these guys can run on a successful economy or stewardship of their state’s funds. Walker’s jihad against teachers and police officers and their unions took on a nasty tone.  His actions spoke far louder than his words on the campaign trail.  I found his debate manner insipid. Even one of his slighted former campaign aids said he tried to please every one and came off as having no real core ideals.  

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose early glow as a Republican presidential contender was snuffed out with the rise of anti-establishment rivals, announced Monday that he was quitting the race and urged some of his 15 rivals to do the same so the party could unite against the leading candidate, Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Walker’s pointed rebuke of Mr. Trump gave powerful voice to the private fears of many Republicans that the party risked alienating large parts of the electorate — Hispanics, women, immigrants, veterans, and most recently, Muslims — if Mr. Trump continued vilifying or mocking them as part of his overtures to angry and disaffected voters.

Still, Mr. Walker’s exit was not a selfless sacrifice: He was running low on campaign cash, sliding sharply in opinion polls, losing potential donors to rivals and unnerving supporters with a stream of gaffes, like saying he would consider building a wall along the Canadian border.

Appearing ashen and drained at a brief news conference late Monday in Madison, Mr. Walker said the Republican presidential field was too focused on “how bad things are” rather than on “how we can make them better for everyone.” Without naming Mr. Trump, Mr. Walker issued a plea to fellow candidates to coalesce around a different Republican who could offer a more “optimistic” vision and guide the party to a victory next year that, he admitted with sadness in his voice, he could not achieve himself.

The Great Wall of Canada may have been the first whiff of how absolutely clueless the man was on the world outside.  What was he planning on doing?  Stopping Americans from getting cheap Canadian drugs?

GutsNutsHis last speech was a rail against big labor. That’s hardly a zinger in a country where labor membership can’t get much lower.

Walker’s decision to quit followed two lackluster debate appearances, tepid fundraising and several statements that attracted a flurry of negative headlines, including those that followed the candidate’s assertion that building a wall along the Canadian border was a possibility that deserved further examination. It may have also been hurt by the fact that Walker is essentially a life-long politician in an election season in which Americans are so far embracing outsiders.

While Walker’s union-bashing record provided his ticket into the race, the narrative that brought him headlines and donors didn’t prove to be a white-hot issue. At a time when organized labor is already losing membership, reducing its clout hasn’t been a top national priority for most Republicans. In the first debate on Aug. 6, the word “union” was used just three times, and only once by Walker, in his closing statement.

“I took on the big-government union bosses, and we won,” said Walker, who saw his state and national poll numbers fall almost as soon as Trump entered the race. “They tried to recall me, and we won. They targeted us again, and we won.”

The references were to Walker’s 2011 fight with public-sector unions, as well as his 2012 recall and 2014 general election victories, both contests that included heavy union spending against him. His ability to remain “unintimidated” in those battles has become a central theme of Walker’s campaign.

On the campaign trail, however, Walker wasn’t that intimidating. In an often monotone Midwestern voice, his speeches virtually never changed and he wasn’t as quick on his feet in interviews or during debates as some of his opponents. While he worked extremely hard to stress his common-man credentials, seemingly making almost continuous references to his love of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, it also kept him from looking presidential.

6532890991_0befd2f40cHe just couldn’t hold a candle to The Donald.  Or, so he says and they say …

But Walker began the 2016 campaign season in a promising spot. He had a record of fighting for conservative priorities in Wisconsin in a way that impressed both the GOP’s base and its elites. Since he wasn’t so identified with pro-immigration policies as Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, it seemed to some that he was well-positioned to unite the party’s disparate factions. And despite some early rockiness on policy issues, Walker took the lead in Iowa caucus polls in mid-February, and held it for the next five and a half months.

Then Hurricane Trump rolled in. The billionaire’s showmanship and disdain for what he called “political correctness” on the topic of unauthorized immigration excited the Republican right, and powered him to the front of polls nationally and in Iowa.

In comparison, Walker looked like a typical politician, had an unimpressive speaking style, and failed to stand out from the crowd in the two debates so far. In last week’s second debate, the Wisconsin governor spoke the least of any candidate, and twopost-debate surveys asking Republican voters who won this week’s debate found Walker in last place of the 11 primetime debaters. After the first debate, he plummeted in the polls both in Iowa and nationally. Currently, he’s in 11th place nationally and in 7th place in Iowa, according to RealClearPolitics’s poll averages.

There are some other candidates that are on the ropes but seem oblivious to their problems.   Hillary was in Baton Rouge yesterday. Jindal challenged her to debate health care with him. Instead,  she took the stage and left him to his less than 1% standing in the polls among Republican voters.  She’s not backing down on the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Hillary Clinton defended President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, during a campaign stop in Baton Rouge on Monday and took aim at her Republican rivals who say they want to repeal “Obamacare.”

“It’s not just a political issue, it’s a moral issue,” the Democratic presidential front-runner told a crowd of 1,200 cheering supporters and schoolchildren at the Louisiana Leadership Institute.

Attendees circulated volunteer sign-up sheets and texted their information to the campaign during the rally, which was the first of several stops on Clinton’s latest effort to campaign on the importance of the federal health care law and her plans to protect and build on it.

“I’m not going to let them tear up that law, kick 16 million people off their coverage and force the country to start the health care debate all over again,” she said as supporters waved bright blue “Hillary” signs.

Clinton won several bouts of applause from the friendly crowd, particularly as she took jabs at Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, both Republicans.

Jindal, who is seeking the GOP nomination for president, has been a vocal opponent of Obamacare and has repeatedly called for its repeal. He also blocked the state from expanding its Medicaid program for the poor and uninsured through an optional piece of the federal health care law — a point that Clinton was quick to point out.

“He put ideology ahead of the well-being of the people and the families in this state,” Clinton said, noting that some 190,000 people in Louisiana would have been eligible for Medicaid if Jindal had supported expansion.

The ACA has faced near constant backlash from many Republicans since it was signed into law in 2010. Jindal, through his America Next policy group, released hisown proposal to repeal the law and replace it last year.

But Clinton said such a move would be too disruptive and vowed to fight any effort to repeal the law, if elected.

“I want to build on the progress we’ve made. I’ll do more,” she said.

Clinton said she would announce a plan this week to further address health care costs, including rising drug prices.

The equity markets are evidently betting on Hillary.  The viral story of the day was of a dudebro hedge fund manager who bought aimages (4) drug on the cheap and hiked its price to the stratosphere.  Hillary demanded investigation in to price gouging and the entire industry felt the discipline of the market and the expectation she’d do it too.  One company who’d gotten a patent from a non profit associate with Perdue for a Tuberculous drug wound up with the patent deal rescinded.  The dudebro’s move still stands for the time being.

Mania-prone biotech stocks were in the market’s doghouse Monday, after a 21-word tweet from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ripping a drug company’s pricing policy sparked a sharp selloff for the group.

Referencing a New York Times report on a steep price hike for a drug recently acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals, Clinton lambasted the often-astronomical price tags for specialty drugs being developed by biotech and pharmaceutical companies and pledged to provide a plan to keep such therapeutic costs in check.

You can read more about both situations here.

A huge overnight price increase for an important tuberculosis drug has been rescinded after the company that acquired the drug gave it back to its previous owner under pressure, it was announced on Monday.

However, outrage over a gigantic price increase for another drug spread into the political sphere on Monday, causing biotechnology stocks to fall broadly as investors worried about possible government action to control pharmaceutical prices. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell more than 4 percent.

“Price-gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous,” Hillary Rodham Clinton, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a tweet on Monday. She said she would announce a plan on Tuesday to deal with rising drug prices.

Ms. Clinton was referring to the actions of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which last month acquired Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug used to treat a serious parasitic infection, and raised its price to $750 per tablet, from $13.50.

It’s really interesting to watch the difference between a campaign on fire and one going doing in flames.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Woman in Red: Debate, Election and the Shutdown…The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate



Good Morning

As promised…I bring you the latest edition of The Woman in Red….(It has taken me days, in fact almost the last 24 hours has been straight on through.)

You can read the earlier issues at these links:

The Woman in Red: Protector of the Uteri, Defender of Vajayjay Rights and Fighter Against the #WarOnWomen | Sky Dancing

The Woman In Red: Against The Monsters On The Hill… A comic-ill perspective observation | Sky Dancing

The Woman In Red: Battle of the Sexes…Fight Until the Vacuum Cleaner is Broken | Sky Dancing

As before, click the image to see the full size…and then click on the image itself to enlarge the picture, otherwise you will not be able to read the captions.

So….here we go!

Woman in Red:


Debate, Election and the Shutdown…

The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate

6947293c4905e79cc9ba71531ba17361 (1)


Tonight is the Republican Presidential Candidate Debate…..

4 things to watch in Wednesday’s Republican debate | MSNBC

Republican Presidential Debate 2015: Start Time, TV Channel, Radio Info For Second GOP Debate

Gloves likely to come off at second GOP 2016 debate – NY Daily News


Let’s take you to the debate venue, shortly before the event is to begin……


wir debate


wir debate2


wir debate3




outside of debate


immgr lgbt


debate in progress


fox cover debate


debate result





wir spe

wir spe c



wir spe com




Bloody hell, I am exhausted!

Hope you enjoyed this edition of The Woman in Red, and the introduction of the new arch nemesis…S.P.Ermand…The Sperm Man!

This is an open thread.

Late Sunday Reads

16195811-standardGood Afternoon!

Sorry this is so late.  JJ’s mother-in-law passed so she will be taking the week off.  It’s my turn today to fill those big shoes!  However, my A/C went out yesterday afternoon late. I thought it was only struggling to keep up with the heat when I left for a cocktail hour gig.  When I got home from that gig last night, I opened the door on a very hot home and three very miserable animals. It was obvious that the A/C wasn’t just struggling.  It was pretty dead.  I spent the night trying to get to sleep and only did so at about 4am with the help of Benadryl. Fortunately, I got some relief at 8 am when the owner of the local repair shop got to me and fixed it quickly! I was lucky to meet Julian Marin at my local watering hole awhile back because he ended our suffering here at the KatHouse. I went back to sleep and didn’t get up until around 2 my time.  Fortunately, it’s a bad capacitor that’s still under warranty.  It turned out to be a quick fix.

So, I’m not letting this mass shooting in Lafayette go for awhile.  Several things stand out to me.  First, the killer was a rabid misogynist who went on Talk Radio shows screaming about the Biblical roles of women. It shouldn’t be lost on any one that he chose an Amy Schumer movie which was going to have a larger than normal number of women in attendance and that a solid majority of his victims–including the dead ones—were women.  Second, there are mass shootings in New Orleans all the time.  Gun Violence is a near every day occurrence here and many victims are innocent children playing in the street and elderly people sitting on porches.  Where is the national news media on those instances?  Third, Louisiana’s gun laws are among the loosest in the country and our deaths attributable to guns are the second highest.  Our governor is eager to show the NRA and the state his gun fetish.  His policies of disabling whatever few gun laws the state had are exactly why these kinds of problems happen.  He can pray to his imaginary friend as much as he wants and focus on the victims.  But, he needs to realize that the blood of every gun victim in this state–since he’s started disabling the few reasonable restrictions that we’ve had–is on his hands.  If he and others only say “no one could imagine” then he and those others join the ranks of the deliberately avoiding the obvious club.

A governor issuing a call for prayers in the wake of a fatal mass shooting is almost boilerplate by now, but what good does it truly do? Prayers will not pull the bullets out of those people, nor repair their flesh. The frequency of these terrible events has somehow numbed us, and the lack of political courage on the right (and at times, on the left) to do anything to stem the flow of guns into our country is staggering. But can it help, somehow?

“Prayer in these moments serve two basic functions in my opinion: one as a sincere attempt at showing sorrow and hoped for comfort for the deceased, and second, as a hope the violence will stop,” Butler told me. “However, these prayers, while sincere, tend to be diffuse, non focused, and often are not prayers that are about the root cause of the situations: usually people’s actions, changes in gun laws, or repentance—sorrow for being a part of a culture that promotes the violence. Personally, I think it is more about soothing of those who have lost loved ones, and a way to forget the real issues at hand that need to be addressed.”

Jindal is asking us to comfort ourselves in this moment, which sounds right. There he was in Lafayette on Thursday night, recommending prayer as the first recourse and saying,“We never imagined it would happen in Louisiana,” and expecting to be taken seriously. Having now suspended his presidential campaign, he’s going back to being just the governor of the state with perhaps the nation’s weakest gun laws and definitely its worst gun violence. Jindal uses guns as campaign props, frequently touting his hunting acumen, A+ grade from the NRA, and enthusiasm for firearms in speeches, interviews, and in his Twitter feed. “In Louisiana and all across America,” Jindal told the CPAC audience in 2012, “we love us some guns and religion.”

Both came into play on Thursday night in Lafayette. But comforting people after mass shootings, by definition, makes them comfortable after mass shootings. Praying may make you feel better in the moment, but Jindal is essentially asking that citizens do nothing to solve the actual problem of gun violence. People can talk to God if they want, but someone had better be calling Wayne LaPierre at the National Rifle Association. A few members of Congress, too.

As Slate writer Jamelle Bouie noted Thursday night on Twitter, we live in a country willing to accept dozens of murdered children—in a tony Connecticut suburb, no less. Also, we seem to be able to swallow a child and five others being killed in an assassination attempt on a sitting member of Congress, Gabrielle Giffords. Urgency on this issue seems to be out of style, but I’d think that perhaps even out of sheer boredom, this nation would not simply shrug its collective shoulders in grief and resignation for nearly a hundred times in the last several years, and join those actually trying to make our national gun policies make sense. In the absence of any faith that can be done, it will take work.

The words “well-regulated militia” are always the ignored parts of the second amendment when you’re around the gun nuts.  Their answer to gun violence is always more guns.  Let me ask you something, if you sawguns mental illness a child throwing rocks at other children in a playground would you give those other children rocks and expect the problem to be solved? And, what would you think about arming every one in a dark crowded theater then calling for a virtual shoot out at the OK Corral? Certainly, responsible gun owners know that kind of environment is not likely to produce a positive outcome.  However, white male apologists like Rick Perry always blame mental illness and are blaming “gun free zones”.  It’s never about the issues of right wing extremists and their racist, misogynist, radical christianist screeds. It’s always about mental illness and not enough guns.

Rick Perry said in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, earlier this week shows why gun-free zones are “a bad idea” and said he believes people should be able to take their firearms to the movies.

“I think that it makes a lot of sense to send a message across this country,” Perry said when asked by host Jake Tapper if the former governor believed a way to prevent such violence would be to allow moviegoers to take guns inside. “If we believe in the Second Amendment, and we believe in people’s right to protect themselves and defend themselves, and their families.”

John Russell “Rusty” Houser on Thursday shot 11 people, killing two, in a theater using a handgun he legally purchased from a pawn shop, authorities have said. Houser, who authorities say had a history of legal and mental problems, then turned the gun on himself.

“I will suggest to you that these concepts of gun-free zones are a bad idea,” Perry said. “I think that you allow the citizens of this country, who have appropriately trained, appropriately backgrounded, know how to handle and use firearms, to carry them. I believe that, with all my heart, that if you have the citizens who are well trained, and particularly in these places that are considered to be gun-free zones, that we can stop that type of activity, or stop it before there’s as many people that are impacted as what we saw in Lafayette.”.

Perry said shootings in gun-free zones like movie theaters and churches — such as the one in Charleston, South Carolina, the scene of a racially-motivated bloodbath that killed nine last month — happen because of a failure to enforce existing gun laws. He said current laws should have prevented Houser from obtaining his gun.

“I think we have the laws in place. Enforcement of those laws is what seems to be lacking, both in Charleston and here in Lafayette, Louisiana,” he said. “We see individuals who are obviously mentally impacted. These are individuals who I think that somewhere, somebody didn’t do their job in the standpoint of enforcing the laws” that are already on the books.

Governors like Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry aren’t about enforcing laws already on the books. They are about eliminating them and installing some Hollywood version of the Wild West in every state in this country. Blogger Julian Drury discusses the steps Jindal’s taken to appease the NRA and to remove any sensible gun regulation.  Remember, even the constitution uses the worlds “well-regulated”.

Why does New Orleans have so much gun violence? Yes, many nuances and history of gangs and crime are to be taken into account. City crime is always complex to certain degrees. Yet, one of the major contributing factors in Louisiana is the fact that the availability of guns is much higher than in states like New York, Illinois, and California.

Louisiana has one of the most lax gun laws in the country. Gun sales are hardly regulated properly. You can buy a gun at a pawn shop quickly, provided you are 21 years old and have a Louisiana state ID. If that doesn’t work, well there are the gun shows that Louisiana has held.

The gun show loophole is problematic, and allows anyone to buy military grade firearms without proper background checks. As long as the cash is in hand, many retailers at these gun shows will sell guns if the buyer has proper ID or not.

Now who would show up to a gun show with thousands of dollars in cash, and not want a background check? Hmmm? Criminals, perhaps?

Then factor in Bobby “Louisiana Loves Guns” Jindal, governor of the state, who seems to sit deep in the NRA’s pocket. Under his terms in office, Jindal has regularly weakened gun safety regulations, and often appears at gun stores during his campaigning, to have pictures of himself with whatever the shop’s biggest rifle is.

bobby_jindal_gun_ap_imgIn 2013, Bobby Jindal signed six gun laws.   Most of these laws made it easier for criminals and mentally ill people to obtain laws.  He should’ve known he was setting the state up for more mass shootings but as usual, he’s more concerned about things that would contribute to his presidential ambitions.  He did sign bills into laws to increase the ability of state and federal agencies to share information on people who should not have access to guns.  However, the gun show loop hole alone means that nothing will ever be done with that information. The Lafayette shooter is perhaps a textbook example of some one that should not have access to guns, yet he legally acquired one.

The most discussed piece of legislation in the batch signed Wednesday was House Bill 8by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City. The new law will enforce penalties on the intentional publication of the personal information of concealed handgun permit holders.

Citizens face penalties of up to six months in jail and $10,000 for those who “intentionally disseminate for publication” the personal information, such as names and addresses, of permit holders. Law enforcement or public safety employees who share such information will face up to six months in jail and a fine of $500.

Thompson, who helped found the pro-gun group Defend Louisiana this year, said the legislation was introduced largely as a reaction to the publication of New York gun permit holders’ names and addresses by The Journal News last year. He said permit holders’ lives and property were put at risk by the release and he wants to ensure such publication will be penalized in Louisiana.

“It is a great day in Louisiana and across this nation for those of us who refuse to give an inch when it comes to defending our right to protect our families and we will stand strong in the defense of the Second Amendment,” Thompson said Wednesday.

“Responsible, law-abiding citizens should not be villainized simply because they are concealed carry permit holders,” he added.

The bill received significant push-back from journalists, including Baton Rouge Advocate Executive Editor Carl Redman and Louisiana Press Association Executive Director Pamela Mitchell. Penalties will not be imposed if the permit holder had approved the information release or if it was already in the public domain. Publication would be allowable if the permit holder committed a felony involving a gun or if the information is subject to a court order.

jindal gun shopBobby Jindal says “Lousiana Loves us some guns”.  That’s not exactly obvious to any of us that live in a city where gun violence costs many lives every day.

“We love us some guns,” Bobby Jindal once said of his fellow Louisianans. Two of them were killed, and nine others wounded, on Thursday night when a man walked into a movie theater in Lafayette, sat for a while, and then fired more than a dozen rounds from a .40 caliber handgun.
“We never imagined it would happen in Louisiana,” Jindal said afterward, though the state has the second-highest rate of gun deaths in the country, more than twice the national average. Louisiana also has some of the laxest firearm regulations, for which Jindal bears much responsibility. During his eight years as governor he’s signed at least a dozen gun-related bills, most intended to weaken gun-safety regulation or expand access to firearms. One allowed people to take their guns to church; another, into restaurants that serve alcohol. He broadened Louisiana’s Stand Your Ground law, and made it a crime to publish the names of people with concealed carry permits. At the same time Jindal has pushed for cuts to mental health services.

Jindal treats guns not as weapons but political props. On the presidential campaign trail he’s posed repeatedly for photos cradling a firearm in his arms. “My kind of campaign stop,” he tweeted earlier this month from an armory in Iowa. After the Charleston massacre, he called President Obama’s mild comments about gun violence “completely shameful.” The correct response then, according to Jindal, was “hugging these families,” and “praying for these families.”

So, today on MSNBC, imagine my shock and surprise when I heard that Jindal said the Layfette shooter should’ve been denied access to guns.

The gunman who opened fire in a Louisiana movie theater should not have been allowed to legally buy the gun he used to kill two people and injure nine because of his mental history, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Sunday.

Shooter John Houser “should have never been able to buy that gun,” Jindal told NBC News. “That should have never been able to happen.”

Houser had been involuntarily hospitalized for mental conditions in Georgia and denied a concealed weapons permit in Alabama in 2006 because of a domestic violence complaint and a previous arrest connected to an arson plot.

Jim Cavanaugh, a retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent and now NBC News security analyst, said those red flags should have kept Houser from buying a gun in any state.

“If he’s adjudicated as a danger to himself or others, or not able to handle his affairs due to his mental capacity, he is also barred from having a firearm,” Cavanaugh said.

Still, Houser was able to legally buy a Hi-Point .40-caliber handgun in Alabama in 2014. And that is the gun he used to fire more than a dozen shots into a Thursday night movie audience of about 25 people before killing himself, officials said.

It is unclear whether officials in Georgia filed records about Houser’s involuntary hospitalization, which would have been funneled to the FBI’s database and therefore surfaced during a background check in any state, according to The Associated Press.

“Obviously somebody with this kind of history should have never been able to buy a gun,” Jindal said, noting that Louisiana laws would have prevented Houser from legally buying a gun.

In order to acquire a concealed handgun license in Louisiana, an applicant must “not suffer from a mental or physical infirmity due to disease,” according to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. But private owners and gun show sellers aren’t required to perform background checks to determine the mental health and arrest history of prospective gun buyers.

In the immediate wake of the shooting, Jindal, who is running for president and is generally known as pro-gun (the NRA last gave him an “A+” rating), declined to speak on gun policy, saying he wanted to give Lafayette a chance to grieve.

Authorities have yet to determine a motive for why Houser chose to attack people at the showing of “Trainwreck,” why he chose to target Lafayette and why he picked a Thursday evening.

So, let me address the mainstream media and police confusion about Houser’s “choices” of victim.  These are the same groups of people that rarely address the daily violence against and murder of women by the rick perry gunmen in their lives.  This is from a blog that tracks and monitors male misogyny called “We Hunted the Mammoth”.  The author is David Futrelle.

Police in Lafayette, Louisiana are evidently struggling to understand why the outspokenly misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic John Russell “Rusty” Houser murdered two women and wounded 9 other moviegoers at a showing of “Trainwreck,” a film written by and starring Amy Schumer, a feminist comedian with a Jewish father, known for joking frankly about sex.

[For more, see my latest post on Houser: “Did right-wing attacks on “Trainwreck” inspire John Russell Houser’s shooting rampage?”]

Col. Michael D. Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, wondered aloud about Houser’s motives at a press conference: 

Why did he come here? Why did he do that? … We may not find a motive.

It seems to me that Houser’s likely motive is staring them in the face.

Because it turns out that Houser was pretty well-known, at least to regular viewers of one local TV talk show in Columbus, GA, as an angry right-wing fanatic who hated women. As one former host of the show recalled,

He was anti-abortion. … Rusty had an issue with feminine rights. He was opposed to women having a say in anything.

Houser evidently appeared on the live show dozens of times as a “gadfly” whose appearances “would generate calls.”

When Houser’s career as a loudmouthed crank on local TV apparently came to an end years ago, he moved to another medium, leaving a long trail of hateful comments on assorted websites, many of them openly praising Hitler and talking ominously about the future of what he saw as a deeply “immoral” culture.

Yes. “Men Kill Women in the U.S. So Often that It’s Usually Not Even Newsworthy.”

When news emerged that a middle-aged white man in Lafayette, Louisiana opened fire at a showing of the Amy Schumer vehicle Trainwreck, I immediately had this sinking feeling that the movie choice wasn’t a coincidence—that this was, like theElliot Rodger and George Sodini killings, an act of rage at women. While Trainwreck is a fluffy rom-com, it’s also a popular topic of chatter in the feminist-sphere, and therefore likely to be noticed by the seething misogynists who monitor the online activities of feminists with unsettling obsessiveness.

That fear is now moving from the uneasy-feeling column to the likely-possibility column, with Dave Weigel of the Washington Post reporting that alleged shooter John Russell Houser was a rabid right-winger—he even went to one of those unranked conservative Christian law schools—who had particularly strong anger towards women for their growing independence and rights. Former talk show host Calvin Floyd had Houser on as a frequent guest, knowing that his off-the-wall opinions would generate audience interest: “The best I can recall, Rusty had an issue with feminine rights,” Floyd said. “He was opposed to women having a say in anything.” Houser also had a history of domestic violence.

It would be nice, as Jessica Winter argued in Slate after the Charleston shooting, if this country could have a grown-up conversation about gun control in the wake of crimes like this. Instead, we’re just going to hear a bunch of ridiculous rhetoric about how more guns will fix this problem, as if Lafayette isn’t one of those parts of the country where every and their poodle is packing heat. But since that’s not happening, maybe we can talk about the continuing role that misogyny plays in the relentless drumbeat of gun violence in this country.

My colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley noted today at Slatest, there were 14 other gun-based murder-suicides in the past week in this country, resulting in the loss of 36 lives. If you look down the list of the killings, an unmistakeable pattern pops out: “shot and killed his 37-year-old wife… shot and killed his ex-wife… shot and killed his 62-year-old wife… shot and killed his 23-year-old girlfriend…” and so on. Most of these killings involve men killing women that they were in a relationship with, had lost a relationship with, or likely wanted a relationship with, but were rejected. This last week also featured a bizarre story of a woman who not only survived beingkidnapped and raped by a man but also saw her boyfriend and a random other man killed in the rapist-murderer’s rampage.

So much of this stuff seem clear to us and it escape our policymakers, the police, and the media who are co-conspirators in the gun deaths that impact so many women and racial minorities on a daily basis.  I can only shake my head at the amazing lack of self evaluation by those basking in the glow of  white male christianist privilege.

The Advocate says Jindal has wound up in a “controversial spotlight”.  Well, it’s about time some one write about this.

The day after the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine people in a church June 17, Jindal said it was not the time to discuss gun control but rather an occasion for prayer and hugs.

Jindal officially announced his entry in the campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination a week later, but he was regarded as a candidate for months before then — and it was in that light that he was asked to respond to President Barack Obama’s suggestion that the Charleston tragedy fit a distinctly American pattern of firearms violence that should be addressed.

Jindal characterized Obama’s comment as a “completely shameful” attempt to “score cheap political points.”

In the hours after the Lafayette shooting, in which a gunman fatally shot two women and wounded nine others before taking his own life, Jindal again said prayers and hugs made for the appropriate response.

“There’ll be a time; I’m sure folks will want to jump into the politics of this,” he said. “Now is not the time.”

That didn’t prevent gun control advocates from landing on Jindal with both feet. The New Republic accused Jindal of enabling gun violence in Louisiana — a state with one of the highest rates of firearms violence and least-restrictive gun regulations — citing his enthusiastic pro-gun record and support for legislation that permits guns in churches and creates lifetime concealed-carry permits. In the Daily Mail, commentator Piers Morgan was particularly vehement, saying the blood of the victims was on Jindal’s hands.

But such attacks are unlikely to faze Jindal, said Bernie Pinsonat, a veteran Louisiana political pollster.

“That’s like throwing him into the briar patch,” Pinsonat said. “Democrats or anyone else who is anti-gun, they’re not voting for Jindal anyway.”

Like some one on Twitter said, once you allow a mass murderer to come in and gun down innocent children and you can still do nothing as a policymaker but talk about more guns and prayers, you’ve pretty much lost the battle to the gun industry.  You’ve also conceded to the moral high ground to greed and political ambition.

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?

Monday Reads: We Do Not Welcome our Corporate Overlords

Beetlegeuse Chewbacchus 2015Good Morning!

The Krewe of Chewbacchus rolled through my neighborhood Saturday night.  I decided to post some of the photos I took of the participants to liven up the thread today.  The parade is a celebration of Fantasy and SF books, movies, games, and TV series.  More professional pictures can be found here. See if you can recognize them!  I only wish the celebration of fantasy was limited to movies and books.  Unfortunately, it isn’t and the Koch Brothers fantasy economics plans are ruining states around the country.

I keep having conversations with people who are either politically active or politically knowledgeable about finding a way out of our current mess.   There are several key problems that seem out of the hands of voters to solve. At least, those voters that actually vote.

Things have been on the down slope since the Reagan administration but have really picked up steam with the final fifth vote locked into the Supreme Court. The Citizen’s United Decision is throttling American Democracy which is why we really need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine among other things.  It seems odd that Brian Williams can be hounded out of journalism for one mistaken memory when at least 60%–if not more–of what Fox broadcasts daily is an out and out lie.  Is Facism on the rise in America and what can we do to stop it?

As the American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Well, it it may well on our doorstep.  And the oligarchs are plotting their final takeover by using their economic dominance to capture governmental power – specifically, the governmental power which sets the rules for the very marketplace that provides the oligarchs with such massive wealth.

Once the American corporate barons own the institutions that are meant to regulate them, it’s game-over for both rational capitalism (including competition) and for democracy.

Last week, at David and Charles Koch’s annual winter meeting near Palm Springs, California, it was announced that the Koch Brothers’ political organization would spend close to $900 million on the 2016 election.  If this goal is met, the group of corporate leaders will spend far more than the Republican Party and its congressional campaign committees spent, combined, in the 2012 campaign.

Once upon a time, it would have been illegal for the Koch Brothers and their fellow oligarchs to buy an election.  Of course, that time was before the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

In 2010, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, presented the best opportunity for the Roberts Court to use its five vote majority to totally re-write the face of politics in America, rolling us back to the pre-1907 era of the Robber Barons.

As Jeffrey Toobin wrote in The New Yorker (“No More Mr. Nice Guy”): “In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.

You can see the influence of the Koch Brothers money in the states that have Republican Governors.  It is pimp darth chewbacchus 2015especially true of those Republican Governors with presidential aspirations who want the promised $1 billion the Kochs have pledged for the next campaign cycle.  I want to cover Bobby Jindal, Louisiana, and the horrible budget problems that we have from Jindal’s campaign to please the Kochs.  But first, I’d like to tell you what Scott Walker is doing to one of the nation’s premier public universities.

One of the major things the Kochs hate is people that aren’t miseducated or trained to be working zombies.  This fits right in with their agenda.This is similar to what’s going on with the destruction of public education and universities in Louisiana and similar issues in Kansas, both of which have Koch sucking Governors.

More than 35,000 public employees would be removed from state government rolls if Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal stays intact through the legislative process.

Walker’s 2015-17 budget proposal, which was introduced Tuesday, makes major changes to the operation of the state’s University of Wisconsin System. The second-term governor’s plan would split off the system into its own public entity.

By creating a separate authority for the University of Wisconsin System, it would no longer be under the direct management of the state.

According to Walker, University of Wisconsin System supporters have been asking for more autonomy for years, claiming it would help cut costs and better serve students. The Republican governor’s plan also includes a $150 million funding cut in each year of his biennial budget in exchange for the greater autonomy.

The annual reduction is equivalent to a 2.5 percent cut in total public funding. Opponents of Walker’s reform have claimed aid is being cut by 13 percent. That, however, only takes into consideration general fund spending from the state.

He also tried to actually change the mission of the University.

You might think that changing the mission of a flagship public university would be an issue put up for public discussion. Not in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker submitted a budget proposal that included language that would have changed the century-old mission of the University of Wisconsin system — known as the Wisconsin Idea and embedded in the state code  — by removing words that commanded the university to “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” and replacing them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

Walker, in a budget speech given earlier this week, didn’t bother to mention the change, which is more than a simple issue of semantics. There is a national debate about what the role of colleges and universities should be. One group, including Walker, see higher education in big part as a training ground for workers in the American workplace; another sees college education as a way to broaden the minds of young people and teach them how to be active, productive citizens of the country.

brainsHe earlier tried to tell University faculty and staff that they needed to work harder and not include “service” in their list of duties.   This is all part of the privatization craze that attempts to put union workers and public servants into the parasite category.  However, when privatized, the same workers suddenly are doing something valuable with lower compensation so that management and stockholders can skim profits from the actual work being done.

Governor Scott Walker–whom Charlie Pierce refers to as “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin”–plans to unveil a budget on Tuesday evening that will reportedly “slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s public universities over the next two years.” Alice Ollstein of ThinkProgress said that students, professors and state lawmakers “are already blasting the plan — the deepest cut in state history…” They told ThinkProgress that they are “organizing to block its passage.”

Even a Gannet owned newspaper complained about the cuts and the entire attitude towards faculty and higher education in general.  Oh, and he’s calling for nearly $500 million tax dollars for a new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Gannett Central Wisconsin Media Editorial Board thinks that Walker’s proposed cuts to the university go too deep. With regard to economics, the board wrote “the more educated our workforce, the higher our state’s overall standard of living will be. And in all sorts of intangible ways the university system improves our quality of life — injecting culture into communities, offering broad-based liberal education, helping define our sense of Badger identity.” The board added that “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed Draconian cuts to the system will undermine those values and hobble future economic growth.”

Gannett Central Wisconsin Media Editorial Board:

Walker compounded the sense that cuts are driven by political animus when, on Wednesday, he told a conservative radio host that faculty and staff should simply increase their workload to make up the difference. It was a condescending, somewhat nasty thing to say, and it was not based in fact. UW-Madison professors, a February study showed, work on average 63 hours a week; we see no reason to assume profs on stretched-thin regional campuses work less… 

Taking a chainsaw to the UW budget now is no way to make smart, lasting reforms. Insulting UW faculty is no way to demonstrate an interest in positive reform.

And $300 million in new cuts is too much to swallow.

In a commentary published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday, members of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Faculty Senate Executive Committee said that news reports had confirmed  that the “UW System campuses are slated to take a combined $150 million base budget cut (over two years, so $300 million total) in his upcoming 2015-’17 biennial budget proposal.” The Journal Sentinel claimed that the numbers were “staggering.” This will reportedly be “the largest cut in the 45-year history of the system.

Well, Wisconson, welcome to the world of Governors owned by the Koch Brothers.  Here’s our reality down here in Lousyana. We’re on our 8th of year the same kind of BS.  We’re sending tax dollars to Chinese falcor the luck dragon chewbacchus 2015corporations, Arkansas Corporations, and Hollywood, but taking money away from every school but the religious madrassas and for-profits preferred by Jindal and the Kochs.

Widespread layoffs, hundreds of classes eliminated, academic programs jettisoned and a flagship university that can’t compete with its peers around the nation — those are among the grim scenarios LSU leaders outlined in internal documents as the threat of budget cuts loom.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is considering deep budget slashing to higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1 to help close a $1.6 billion shortfall.

LSU campuses from Shreveport to New Orleans were asked to explain how a reduction between 35 percent and 40 percent in state financing — about $141.5 million to the university system — would affect their operations. The documents, compiled for LSU System President F. King Alexander, were obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

The potential implications of such hefty cuts were summed up in stark terms: 1,433 faculty and staff jobs eliminated; 1,572 courses cut; 28 academic programs shut down across campuses; and 6 institutions declaring some form of financial emergency.

At the system’s flagship university in Baton Rouge, the documents say 27 percent of faculty positions would have to be cut, along with 1,400 classes, jeopardizing the accreditation of the engineering and business colleges. Some campus buildings would be closed.

“These severe cuts would change LSU’s mission as a public research and land-grant university. It will no longer be capable of competing with America’s significant public universities and will find itself dramatically behind the rest of the nation,” the documents say.

Leias chewbacchus 2015One of the first things these folks want to do is to dumb up the population and get rid of faculty and schools that won’t teach the crap they want to continue to force their economic fairy tale.  No amount of peer review is ever going to make the trickle down economics crap do anything but float in septic tanks.  But, they’re sure doing a great job of forcing it into things by owning politicians.  Both Kansas and Louisiana are in freaking budget nightmares.

The country is full of examples illustrating the failure of Republican economic policies. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and Sam Brownback’s Kansas have become poster children for the job killing, budget busting, folly of pursuing supply side economics. Were it not for the damage that right-wing policies inflict upon working families, the Laffer curve would be simply laughable.

Yet, Grover Norquist’s army of tax-hating Governors continues to run roughshod over red state budgets promising a fiscal utopia. The fact that the utopia never materializes apparently doesn’t matter. Red state voters re-elect them anyway. The words “tax cut”, like an elixir, cures their fears, even if the people whose taxes are being cut are not the ordinary voters, but rather the ultra wealthy.

Joining Brownback and Walker on the list of Governor’s facing serious budget problems, is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Louisiana is anticipating a 1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall for next year, and that the deficit will remain in that range for years to come. When Jindal took office in 2008, the state had a 900 million dollar surplus, and the unemployment rate was just 3.8 percent. Now, in addition to having a gaping budget shortfall, Louisiana’s unemployment rate is at 6.7 percent, above the national average.Despite the state’s budget woes, Jindal has continued to resist any tax increases. He has depleted the state’s reserve funds to fill budget holes and is still coming up short on the needed revenue. Louisiana has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, and as a consequence, the state ranks near dead last in quality of education and health care. Nevertheless, the supply side dogmatism of Governor Jindal virtually guarantees that the state will continue on its current path to economic perdition.

Jindal is often mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for President. However, Jindal’s fiscal mismanagement has made him deeply unpopular even in his own state. A November 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that only a third of Louisiana voters approved of the Governor’s job performance while 56 percent disapproved. Supply side economics has been a nightmare to the residents of Louisiana.

Notice the similar policies?  Kill the Universities or warp them into places to train the zombie drone workers of the future?    Anyway, I really hope that the 2016 voters change some of this.  I can’t wait for Hillary to tackle the Republican that tries to mainstream this crap.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Sunday Reads: Is a change ever gonna come?

8227547625c9ff3ded3e33b7d71095fcA Change Is Gonna Come

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming37a9cacb762dbab7a2648de7d1518fd1
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Read more: Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come Lyrics | MetroLyrics

c9a24aed88abcbf0cedab38f28438f20When Sam Cooke wrote that song back in late 1963- early 1964,

“A Change Is Gonna Come” was partially inspired by an incident in which Cooke and his band tried to register at a “whites only” motel in Shreveport, Louisiana. On October 8, 1963, Cooke called ahead to the Holiday Inn North to make reservations for his wife, Barbara and himself, but when he and his group arrived, the desk clerk glanced nervously and explained there were no vacancies.[1] While his brother Charles protested, Sam was fuming, yelling to see the manager and refusing to leave until he received an answer. His wife nudged him, attempting to calm him down, telling him, “They’ll kill you,” to which he responded, “They ain’t gonna kill me, because I’m Sam Cooke.”[1] When they eventually persuaded Cooke to leave, the group drove away calling out insults and blaring their horns. When they arrived at the Castle Motel on Sprague Street downtown, the police were waiting for them, arresting them for disturbing the peace.[1]

01ae899dfdf6cfe0081a647323c59805I wonder, if Cooke could have ever imagined that some 51 years later we would have a Governor of color…being the brown skin of a Hindu raised Indian, however he is now (as BB puts it,) the whitewashed Governor of the  “Southern” state of Louisiana.

Yes, the very state where the Holiday Inn incident occurred that inspired this Anthem of the Civil Rights, which Cooke eventually recorded on January 30th, 1964….this Governor would compare in not so veiled words… black neighborhoods to the no-go-zone Muslim IS/ISIS laden, filled, burdened, overrun,  (whatever the paranoid idiot right wing nuts want to call it) neighborhoods that are…according to Jindal, threatening our very existence.

From CNN on January 21 of this year: Bobby Jindal slams ‘no-go zones,’ pushes ‘assimilation.’

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday stood by his criticism of so-called “no-go” zones in Europe, where sovereign nations allegedly cede authority to Muslim immigrants, a controversial idea that many critics say is overblown.

And the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate decried what he called immigrants’ insistence on “non-assimilation, the fact that “you’ve got people who want to come to our country but not adopt our values,” which he called “dangerous.”

939bba26f208b10aa5b8b519698e11d7Interestingly, Jindal’s parents are immigrants from India, and he was raised in the Hindu religion.

But pressed for specific examples of such no-go zones, Jindal demurred, saying he had met with “elected officials and others” to discuss them and noted a report in UK tabloid the Daily Mailthat purported to highlight the challenges facing law enforcement in such areas.

“I knew by speaking the truth we were gonna make people upset,” Jindal told Blitzer.

Jindal was also unable to offer examples during an earlier interview with CNN’s Max Foster, saying that he’s “heard from folks here that there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils … We all know that there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into.”

“I think that the radical Left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away,” he told Foster.

Pressed for details, Jindal said only, “I think your viewers know absolutely there are places where the police are less likely to go.”

Hmmmm. . . that sounds to me like not-so-subtle race baiting from the whitewashed Louisiana Governor.


0032d5780376c6357875f763f96b3cdaWhen I read about this yesterday from Boston Boomer’s and Dakinikat‘s post on Friday I had to pause a moment…because I was waiting for the ba-dum-dum of the drum punch line to beat out the cue to laugh.

Now I have been sick beyond all I could say, so things are a little cloudy to say the least, but a few things are clear.

I grew up in one of these supposed “places where the police are less likely to go”  that Jindal is referring to. It is an area of my hometown in Tampa called West Tampa. Now…before I get all Brian Williamsed here, I will tell you that I grew up on a street five or six blocks North of Columbus Dr. My Nana’s house was just one block away from Columbus Dr. and my Cousin Cathy…who I spent a hell of a lot of time and nights btw, was right in the heart of the neighborhood…being about 10 blocks on the South side of Columbus Dr.  I think you get the picture…right?

997d8cac806554c49f15d3f035d9c111Cathy and I would go riding on my moped, or riding on our bikes, all through the neighborhood, taking a tour through the “projects” (that is in quotes for a reason) that were built along the river all the time. Yes, two little white girls. Cathy knew how to handle herself, and believe me…there are times when I feel less save up here in KKK Baptist Jesus Christian Bible Banjoville, than I did riding that moped back in the day through the streets around the West Tampa.

I never had to pull a gun out on anyone to protect my family in Tampa back then in the early 90’s, but I had to do it up here in Banjoville around 1992, when some redneck name Robbie was harassing and intimidating my mom as she tried to call my dad from a payphone at one of the local gas stations in town.   I hope you get the point I am trying to make.

So how could Jindal be allowed to get away with this shit? How can all these other assholes be allowed to get away with this shit?

1d4990f0bbc231d7819e026696a4ca4dWar memorial separates dead by race, divides Southern city – U.S. – Stripes

Along Main Street in a small South Carolina city, there is a war memorial honoring fallen World War I and II soldiers, dividing them into two categories: “white” and “colored.”

Welborn Adams, Greenwood’s white Democratic-leaning mayor, believes the bronze plaques are relics of the South’s scarred past and should be changed in the spirit of equality, replaced like the “colored” water fountains or back entrances to the movie theater that blacks were once forced to use.

Yet the mayor’s attempt to put up new plaques was blocked by a state law that brought the Confederate flag down from the Statehouse dome in 2000. The law forbids altering historical monuments in any way without approval from legislators.

Historians, black and white, have reservations about replacing the plaques, saying they should serve as a reminder of the once-segregated U.S. military.

War memorial separates dead by race, divides Southern city - U.S. - Stripes 2015-02-08 01-24-35

“Segregation was the accepted social order of that time,” said Eric Williams, who spent 32 years as a historian with the U.S. Park Service. “If we alter the monument, we alter its historical integrity.”

c414872cfcd50ef3fb6d44a47b6a6dd9The memorial is owned by the American Legion post in Greenwood and is on city property. On two of its sides, it lists soldiers who died in World War I and World War II that were from Greenwood County. A third side lists Korean and Vietnam War dead from the county without any racial distinction because the military was integrated by that time.

Adams said he asked other South Carolina mayors and doesn’t know of any other similar memorials in the state. Several historians also said they haven’t heard of a monument where fallen soldiers are separated by race.

Maybe Sam Cooke would not be that surprised by the situation of the times as they are today…because the song is just as relevant. I mean things gonna change…right? After all, 51 fucking years is a long ass time to wait…no…150 fucking years plus/minus for something as simple as all men to be treated as equal. (Uh…I won’t even go off on the issue of Equal Rights for Women, cause I am just too exhausted…blame it on the Norovirus. )

052e64f1539f34a05a1c265900ab2dc4And just a side note…that monument in South Carolina:

The Confederate flag law says no historical monument, erected by the state or by a local government, may be relocated, removed, disturbed, or altered without a two-thirds vote from state lawmakers. The law lists 10 wars, including the “War Between the States,” — the genteel, Southern name for the Civil War.

The purpose of this part of the law was to appease people who worried 15 years ago that Confederate memorials and street and park names in honor of generals would be torn down in wake of the flag being removed from the Statehouse dome and being put in front of the South Carolina Capitol alongside a Confederate soldier monument. The flag is still a sore point for the NAACP and other black leaders.

A bill has been filed to change the Greenwood memorial and half of the members of the state Senate are listed as sponsors, but some legislators who helped craft the Confederate flag law are leery to bring the divisive issue up again.

e574d274dbc149a7573484f8d50d7b07“I’ll look at the bill,” said Sen. John Courson, a Republican from Columbia who has been in the Senate since 1985. “But I don’t want to reopen the whole debate. That was last century’s battle.”

I would like to tell this asshole Sen.Courson…the law, however, that bars the monument from being changed was passed in this century. Dick.

The rest of links in dump, I just can’t do any more.

PCH Closed In Malibu After Bruce Jenner, 6 Others Injured In Fatal 4-Vehicle Crash « CBS Los Angeles

Is his gender change for real, or is it a thing to keep his reality show going? I mean, I am skeptical when it comes to anything dealing with those Kardashians

Jordan Hits Islamic State With 3rd Day of Airstrikes

16e48a8db8c6b02c4c1fb3b5ebdba98eNeighbors: Man opened fire on ex-wife’s home killing 5,… |

Three wounded in shooting at Pittsburgh area shopping mall | Reuters

Emergency Officials in the Pacific Northwest Report on Strange Milky Ash – Pioneer News

Sochi Winter Olympic stadiums lie empty and abandoned – World – News – The Independent

Mom delivers 14-pound baby after recently learning she was pregnant | theGrio

And that was a vaginal delivery.

Mike Luckovich: Brian Williams Under Fire – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

Associated Press Confirms Flooding and Floating Bodies Near Brian Williams’ Hotel During Katrina – Little Green Footballs

3fd220e81ee68ecd7f97ff34f42e7e8fWASHINGTON: How does Islamic State justify its atrocities in name of Islam? | Syria | McClatchy DC

The History Channel – The Washington Post

DeKalb police respond to critics of officer who shot 911 caller |

UVa police investigating report of sexual assault at dorm

‘Rape dungeon’ allegations emerge in abuse report on Florida’s notorious Dozier School for Boys

High School Police Ask Judge to Let Them Pepper-Spray and Arrest Unruly Students | Mother Jones

a782007e5a0fb57b5bd70a80ac3db283Secret Teacher: exams have left my students incapable of thinking | Teacher Network | The Guardian

Repro Wrap: Woman Convicted for Both ‘Feticide’ and ‘Neglect’ and Other News | Care2 Causes

Addicting Info – Pope Francis Called Hitting Kids ‘Beautiful’ As Long As ‘Dignity Is Maintained’

Shakesville: Quote of the Day

“Hillary has my endorsement for all of her life and mine. She can have my Lasso of Truth, formed from Aphrodite’s girdle and forced whomever was bound with it to obey the commands of whomever held the other end.”Lynda Carter, who will always be THE unrivaled Wonder Woman to many of us.

db0bf4fc699889def7b47198b564659fUpdate on that little girl who was thrown from the Skyway bridge in Florida: Carlton: From Bradley to Phoebe — how many kids have to die? | Tampa Bay Times

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Legos trailer – Business Insider

Fifty Shades of Bricks….awesome.

Teaching in the Age of Minecraft – The Atlantic

A New Textbook Could Revolutionize the Way Law Students Learn About Reproductive Rights

c7b5d3615d444074016f94e5819e950fWas The Giving Tree A Chump? | Off The Shelf

The Only Baby Book You’ll Ever Need –

That is about an anthropology textbook btw…“The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings,” by David F. Lancy.

Aaaaaannnnnnd, let’s just call this an open thread.


**Updated to add these beautiful photos…most of them Victorian, but you can see a lot more here:


Pinterest– History!

Unique Victorian Images on Pinterest 

And here is a gallery of images that could not fit on this post.




Wednesday Reads: History according to Lego and other things

5116b9018bff112970689c3d9157ac0b (1)Good Morning

If you want to kill some time today, check out these images of Lego greatness:

Over a thousand pictures here: Lego Art on Pinterest 

There is even a Klimt in this one:  Lego mania on Pinterest

e7a647c998afa3841b4466b2288f71a8And more artsy fartsy stuff here: Lego Creations on Pinterest

Why do I bring all this up? Because today’s post is going to center around popular culture and nothing represents that more than Legos…used as an artistic representation in historic museums.

As a history major, and a geeky one at that…you know being a wonky sort of history geek, specifically Medieval, I don’t know how to feel about this.

cf9c84490868a589aa2b87e5ad38672dI am so enthralled with these works of Lego art, the detail, the delight it brings…but there is also a part of me that thinks…Lego? Used in a legitimate archaeological/historical sense?  Then I slap myself and say, don’t be such a pompous ass JJ…get over your fucking self. These things are not your typical play toy Lego “houses” just look at the scale models the artist create.

The latest made its debut in Sydney this past month. LEGO Pompeii Excites New Audiences – Archaeology Magazine


Professional LEGO builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught has crafted a model of Pompeii at the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, according to The Conversation. The project, which took more than 500 hours to complete and used more than 190,000 blocks, is one of the largest LEGO historical models ever built. The display shows three phases of the ancient city: as it looked in A.D. 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted; as it appeared when it was rediscovered in the eighteenth century; and as the ruins stand today. Over the past two years, McNaught created a scale model of the Colosseum out of the colorful bricks, and the LEGO Acropolis, now on display at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

This thing is amazing!

From the link to the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum above: Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum

Lego Pompeii was painstakingly recreated from more than 190,000 individual blocks across 470 hours for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum – it’s the largest model of the ancient city ever constructed out of Lego blocks. There is a mix of ancient and modern elements within the model’s narrative; displaying Pompeii as it was at the moment of destruction by the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, as it was when rediscovered in the 1700s, and as it is today.c4583b144ba8bcad2c555720b7cfc100

The historical model is the exhibition centrepiece in an archaeological museum where, until recently, displays of Lego would have been unthinkable.

The Nicholson Museum, with collections of artefacts from the Mediterranean region, Egypt and the Middle East, is a place where visitors can expect to see Greek vases, Egyptian sculpture and ceramic sherds from Jericho.

Yet since 2012, the museum has commissioned professional Lego builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught to recreate three ancient sites made from Lego. Together these models represent an interesting experiment; attracting a new audience to the museum space and demonstrating the importance of fun in a museum context.

This is not the first rodeo for The Brickman…

The first Nicholson Lego scale model was a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.

The joy of the model was its ability to contrast the old with the new. Half the model featured the amphitheatre in antiquity; the other half featured the building in ruins with Lego modern tourists.

The model proved such a success it subsequently toured several regional NSW galleries and museums. It is currently displayed at the Albury Regional Art Gallery along with Roman artefacts from the Nicholson Museum’s collection.

The second model, opened in 2013, was the Lego Acropolis, which featured buildings of ancient Athens peopled with historical Greek figures. It is now displayed at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Go to the Nicholson Museum link to read the rest of the story, and how The Brickman studied and designed his Lego city of Pompeii.


Brickman is one of Lego’s Certified Professionals, these people have amazing jobs…check out some of the artist work at that link. (Mini Bios at that link too.) It seems that most of these LCP’s are men…but I have not researched enough of the culture to be sure of this…that is just my observation as I look through the websites and images. And, the one woman that is a Certified Professional is associated with education, autism, special needs and using Lego as a teaching tool. But I will just say this is only my thoughts on the matter. Let’s just go on with the post.

b9cbb10ad2d15a817e44c0d13bac09d1Alright then, how about that Blizzard? Here’s some pictures for you:

16 Images to Illustrate the Blizzard of 2015 – Scientific American

City dwellers in New York hoping to wake up to mountains of snow will have to content themselves with trawling Instagram pictures from New England. The blizzard of 2015—or really the #blizzardof2015 if we’re doing this right—brought less snow than expected to New York Cityb1e0bc0dc37ce8abac82abbe0b4ab9d5 and a number of points south. But to the east on Long Island and north throughout New England, the storm has lived up to, and in some ways exceeded, expectations with heavy snow and coastal flooding.

Snow totals are still being updated but as of Tuesday morning, a National Weather Service weather spotter has reported the highest total from the storm so far, with 30 inches in Framingham, Mass. Other central Massachusetts and South Shore locations have also piled up more than 2 feet of snow.

The second-highest snow total comes 28.5 inches measured in Orient, N.Y., on the far eastern tip of Long Island. In both places, wind gusts are piling up drifts and sending snow cresting over the eaves of houses.


Holy shit! I hope Boston Boomer and Pat, along with X and the rest of our Sky Dancing New England regulars…Sophie and…oh…I know I am missing some others too, are all doing okay this morning!a61ff5a45e146bf46ac0a26874a97a67

But there has been some complaining. For a look at the technical side of forecast, Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Forecast Lessons from the Northeast Snowstorm

The complaints swelled quickly this morning, both in the social media and the press:

8f4ee0d3ea03c4dd2131112f6d965d17National Weather Service forecasters had predicted two to three feet over New York City and adjacent suburbs for Tuesday and only about 8-10 inches showed up.

The city had been shut down overnight–travel banned on major roadways, mass transportation systems (e.g., subways) closed, schools and businesses closed–and all for a minor snow event!  A few samples from the press illustrates some of the commentary:


And then a National Weather Service forecaster even apologized for a  “blown forecast”, something that doesn’t happen very often.

And you had to expect that some global warming critic would use the forecast troublex to cast doubt on global warming predictions.

9a403543373ad0213d1e87763d4866e9So what is the truth about this forecast event?   As I will describe below, although the forecast “bust” was not as bad as it might appear, it did reveal some significant weaknesses in how my profession makes and communicates forecasts, weaknesses that National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini says he recognizes and will attempt to fix.

The general forecast situation was well understood and skillfully forecast starting on Saturday.   A low center (a midlatitude cyclone) would develop off the SE U.S. and then move northward up the East Coast–a storm commonly called a Nor’easter.  Here is a surface weather map at 4 AM PST this morning, when the storm was near its height.  e96907b49653ca28d24ede22ef46fb92In such a location, the storm can pull cold air off the continent while swirling in moisture from off the ocean.  The result is moderate to heavy snow to the west and north of the low center, as well as strong winds over the same areas.  Thirty years ago we could not forecast these storms with any skill. That has changed.

Go and read how it has changed at the link.

In other science-ish news, y’all know that big ass rock that flew by us Monday?

Best images! Asteroid 2004 BL86, as it swept near Earth | Today’s Image | EarthSky

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar.  The image is from last night (January 25).  Image via

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar. Image via

46a3a41c379e657d458b0dd6c3bcbbd1Well…turns out the thing has it’s own moon!

Check this shit out:

Asteroid that flew past Earth on Monday has a moon! | Science Wire | EarthSky

Radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86 confirm the primary asteroid is 1,100 feet (325 meters) across with a small moon 230 feet (70 meters) across.

Wow! Scientists working with NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86, which flew closer to Earth on Monday than any asteroid this large will again until the year 2027. Closest approach was 1619 UTC (11:19 a.m. EST) on January 26, 2015. Nearest distance was about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon). The radar images confirm what other astronomers first discovered this past weekend, that asteroid 2004 BL86 has its own small moon!

cde3bc59f08305a4960d464aff53632aVideo and more info at the links.

Let us move from science to environment, but still on a pop culture connection…cause what else would you expect from something like this? Chinese Methanol Plant in Louisiana ‘Cancer Alley’ | Al Jazeera America

Uh, okay… I will just give you a quick overview of the area and the situation. This plant is poisoning people. These people are poor. They are people of color. Nuff Said!

This article is the second installment of a three-part series on China’s role in redeveloping southern Louisiana called China’s Louisiana Purchase. The first part investigated links between Chinese government officials, Chinese gas giant Shandong Yuhuang and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

ada6a7b045883973320c2fabe045b969Chinese company behind methanol plant in mostly black Louisiana town has come under fire for shirking health laws

ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — No one asked Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose if he wanted a Chinese company with a controversial environmental record to build a methanol plant in his neighborhood. But if they had, the 74-year-old Vietnam War vet would have said no.

A town hall meeting about it in July at St. James High School, which is close to the site of the plant, in a sparsely populated area with mobile homes and a few farms, took place only after the St. James Parish Council approved the project.

“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Ambrose, a coordinator at St. James Catholic Church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”

The St. James Parish Council did not respond to interview requests at time of publication.

Edwin Octave, 92, who lives with his family in the area, agreed with Ambrose. “I don’t think the way they went about getting the plant was right. They bought the property before they tell people it’s going to happen.”

The area has gotten the nickname Cancer Alley. I don’t know the state of Louisiana is becoming more and more like the poster child for all that is bad and could be bad when fuckwads get elected and have shit everything up. “Literally.”

There is a term being used, it is called Environmental Racism.

‘Environmental racism’

St. James Parish gas station owner Kenny Winchester said he hopes U.S. environmental standards will be enough to prevent any abuses too detrimental to the health of his community. “There shouldn’t be a problem if they follow the rules,” he said. “If they take shortcuts, we’ll have a problem.”

But Malek-Wiley said that hope isn’t realistic. “It’s not feasible to just hope they will abide by regulations. Most of the industry environmental reporting requirements are done by companies without a secondary check with the Department of Environmental Quality or EPA,” he said. “In effect, if a company was doing wrong, it would have to write itself a ticket. I know every time I’m going down the interstate too fast and there’s no cop, I pull over and write myself a ticket … No, it doesn’t happen that way.”

297757e9be0827b6e7a5f1944c11c44eThe only way to tell if a company breaches regulations, he said, is “after the plant’s built, unfortunately.” An environmentalist nonprofit focused on opposing petrochemical pollution in the region, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, could “teach folks how to take air samples in their community,” he said, and that tactic has led to “a number of companies to be fined for air pollution, but that’s after the fact.”

After successfully organizing legal bids around black communities not consulted on energy projects, Malek-Wiley believes that “with St. James Parish, they could have brought up concerns about environmental racism.”

f23e3a57ddb5ed39a0039b5531581e92Take this from Charles Blow, it dealing with yet another polluted area of Louisiana, a Superfund site… Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant near where Blow’s relatives call home:

Inequality in the Air We Breathe? –

How could this plant have been allowed to contaminate the groundwater for 40 years? How could the explosives have been left at the site in the first place? How is it that there doesn’t seem to be the money or the will to more safely remove them? Can we imagine anyone, with a straight face, proposing to openly burn millions of pounds of explosives near Manhattan or Seattle?

3885f12203ffd8ab775e508c93499c3bThis is the kind of scenario that some might place under the umbrella of “environmental racism,” in which disproportionately low-income and minority communities are either targeted or disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous materials and waste facilities.

There is a long history in this country of exposing vulnerable populations to toxicity.

Fifteen years ago, Robert D. Bullard published Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. In it, he pointed out that nearly 60 percent of the nation’s hazardous-waste landfill capacity was in “five Southern states (i.e., Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas),” and that “four landfills in minority ZIP codes areas represented 63 percent of the South’s total hazardous-waste capacity” although “blacks make up only about 20 percent of the South’s total population.”

More recently, in 2012, a study by researchers at Yale found that “The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans or poor residents in an area, the more likely that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe.”

Among the injustices perpetrated on poor and minority populations, this may in fact be the most pernicious and least humane: the threat of poisoning the very air that you breathe.

I have skin in this game. My family would fall in the shadow of the plume. But everyone should be outraged about this practice. Of all the measures of equality we deserve, the right to feel assured and safe when you draw a breath should be paramount.

BTW, Bullard’s website with lots of links can be found here: Environmental Justice / Environmental Racism

I just get so damn sick about all this.

But if you want some more sick shit to read, the Koch Brothers.

Koch Bros To Spend Nearly A Billion Buying The 2016 Elections | Informed Comment

And again…going back to the pop culture of the day…that link will take you to an article and then a video with a discussion from Cenk Unger and Ben Mankiewicz .

In other news, something that is really becoming too frequent a headline. Yet another college athlete is accused of raping a woman…this time it is a swimmer. Fancy that? Former Stanford swimmer accused of raping unconscious woman on campus – LA Times

…former Stanford University swimmer will face several felony charges after prosecutors say he raped a  woman as she lay unconscious on campus grounds.

Brock Allen Turner, 19, is expected to be formally charged Wednesday with five felony counts, including rape of an unconscious woman, rape of an intoxicated woman and two counts of sexual assault with a foreign object, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office told The Times.

Early on the morning on Jan. 18, prosecutors say, two men riding bikes on campus spotted a man later identified as Turner on top of an unconscious woman. Turner ran away, but the pair tackled him. A third person called police.

Turner was arrested, booked into the Santa Clara County Jail and released after posting $150,000 bail, prosecutors said. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 2.

It is a good thing those two bike dudes went after the asshole.

Just a few more pops on the pop links: Gabrielle Union Says Smart Things About Ferguson, the NFL, Hollywood

On the events in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, Yahoo points out that she generally tries to stay positive in her public comments and Union acknowledges that she makes an effort to be responsible about what she says publicly:

There’s a bit of a gap between what I really want to say and what I know is responsible to say. The general lack of compassion for your fellow man is really frustrating. I think what the protesters are saying, or at least some of them, is it’s not just about police brutality. It’s about a widespread systematic crippling of some people in this country by birthright, and no one’s acknowledging it. There may be a power shakeup if you’re really going to do something about it. A lot of people aren’t interested in that. They say, “It’s not that bad. We have Barack Obama. We’re good.” Or, “You’re not getting lynched.” They’re not acknowledging the institutional racism that impacts daily lives.

You should read the other things Unions says, it is nice to see a smart woman being quoted…too bad it probably won’t get much attention outside of Yahoo Entertainment and Jezebel.


Also, in History News, Seventy Years After Auschwitz, One Survivor Has Her Revenge – Truthdig

Eva Slonim was a child when she was taken to Auschwitz, where she was tortured and experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele.

The camps that made up the Auschwitz complex were liberated 70 years ago by Soviet troops. But not before the Nazis killed 1.1 million prisoners there.

Slonim was held with her twin sister in a special section of the camp, which had to do with Mengele’s fascination with twins.

She tells the Australian Broadcasting Corp. she is still haunted by the trauma: “I have this madness about locking the bedroom door every night, and I have a light under the door so I can see if there are any boots there.”

But, Eva Slonim says, she got her revenge in the end, by producing a large family to take the place of the one she lost. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has 27 grandchildren.


Have you seen this?

Domino’s Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History


Domino's Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History




Finally, let’s get a little Medieval on ya: Erik Kwakkel • A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great…


A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great post.



Medieval Connections to ‘Classical Roots’

This manuscript (British Library, Royal MS 20 D I) of the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César (‘Ancient history up to Caesar’) is the earliest surviving manuscript of the second redaction of this work. This redaction, like this manuscript, was produced in Naples around 1330-1340. It focuses on the story of 904fe6f6198d33fe46a60189b543f8b4Troy, which is no longer taken from Dares, a supposed eyewitness of the fall of Troy, but from the prose version of Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie. As a result, it is much more extensive.

The goal of these types of histories was to join the classical past and the medieval present. The author, therefore, did not always keep historical accuracy in mind if it did not fit his purpose. This allowed nobles to bind themselves and their families to classical founders.

I love that the horse is supposed to represent the wooden horse, and the scribe/artist drew the thing with wood-like knots and tree rings as the pattern of the horse itself.

But I wonder if a large wooden badger would not have been more appropriate?


Have a wonderful day and for Gawds sake…watch out for the Knights who say Ni!