Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!

The state of America’s democratic experiment really worries me these days.  It seems so railroaded by the interests of the very few.   I’m not sure if you got a girlwflagchance to read the following article at Salon by Bill Curry.  You should.  It’s about how the Democratic Party got co-opted by Wall Street interests and helped continue us down the road to complete plutocracy. It starts with out following the decline in the party’s alignment with ordinary Americans and the history of Ralph Nader’s formation of the consumer protection movement. Ultimately, it is about Nader and his new book.  But,the details of the re-alignment and Nader’s personal history are an interesting read when put into the context of our road to corporate tyranny.

In the late ’70s, deregulation fever swept the nation. Carter deregulated trucks and airlines; Reagan broke up Ma Bell, ending real oversight of phone companies. But those forays paled next to the assaults of the late ’90s. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 had solid Democratic backing as did the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. The communications bill authorized a massive giveaway of public airwaves to big business and ended the ban on cross ownership of media. The resultant concentration of ownership hastened the rise of hate radio and demise of local news and public affairs programming across America. As for the “modernization” of financial services, suffice to say its effect proved even more devastating. Clinton signed and still defends both bills with seeming enthusiasm.

The Telecommunications Act subverted anti-trust principles traceable to Wilson. The financial services bill gutted Glass-Steagall, FDR’s historic banking reform. You’d think such reversals would spark intra-party debate but Democrats made barely a peep. Nader was a vocal critic of both bills. Democrats, he said, were betraying their heritage and, not incidentally, undoing his life’s work. No one wanted to hear it. When Democrats noticed him again in 2000 the only question they thought to ask was, what’s got into Ralph? Such is politics in the land of the lotus eaters.

The furor over Nader arose partly because issues of economic and political power had, like Nader himself, grown invisible to Democrats. As Democrats continued on the path that led from Coehlo to Clinton to Obama, issues attendant to race, culture and gender came to define them. Had they nominated a pro-lifer in 2000 and Gloria Steinem run as an independent it’s easy to imagine many who berated Nader supporting her. Postmortems would have cited the party’s abandonment of principle as a reason for its defeat. But Democrats hooked on corporate cash and consultants with long lists of corporate clients were less attuned to Nader’s issues.

Democrats today defend the triage liberalism of social service spending but limit their populism to hollow phrase mongering (fighting for working families, Main Street not Wall Street). The rank and file seem oblivious to the party’s long Wall Street tryst. Obama’s economic appointees are the most conservative of any Democratic president since Grover Cleveland but few Democrats seem to notice, or if they notice, to care.

1aee802fea74274d99f1422520e26f7fThis also happened along side a group of democratic senators–including Joe Biden–that helped seat the 5 generic, oddball Catholic men that threaten everything the country stands for by deciding almost SCOTUS decisions  in oddball Catholic ways.  (You have to wonder if they listen at all to the current Pope.)  Additionally, things have gotten so right wing in the diplomacy sector that John Kerry and Barack Obama’s state department seem to be tilting in the same direction as the neocon-infested, apartheid loving Israeli government of Bibi the Butcher of Gaza.

This certainly isn’t the party of my FDR-loving Great Grandmother Nancy Anna Chisholm Williams whose father and uncle blazed the west with the Chisholm Trail and who lived and died a Depression surviving Okie.  Big political interests keep driving the Democrats into very undemocratic places.

The Obama administration deserves much of the blame for the failure of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

It had originally been hoped that the United States would present a binding framework along the lines of what moderate Israeli and Palestinian political leaders had agreed to in unofficial talks in Geneva in 2003: Israel would recognize a Palestinian state based roughly on the pre-1967 borders with mutual territorial swaps, which would leave the Palestinians with 22 percent of historic Palestine and allow Israel to keep the remaining 78 percent; the Palestinian state would be demilitarized and all irregular militias disarmed; illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory near the Israeli border—encompassing close to 80 percent of the settlers—would be incorporated into Israel while settlers in the more remote settlements would be required to return to Israel; there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel, but there would be international assistance in helping them resettle in the new Palestinian state; and some Israeli troops would remain along border crossings between the Palestinian state and its Arab neighbors, eventually to be replaced by international forces.

The Palestinian government agreed to these terms. Israel rejected them. Rather than make public this framework, and thereby hope the Israeli public would pressure its right-wing government to compromise, the Obama administration instead insisted that “both sides” had shown a lack of will to compromise.

An interview with an anonymous U.S. official close to the peace talks in an Israeli publication confirmed numerous other reports that, despite the Obama administration’s claims to the contrary, the Palestinian side made major concessions while the Israeli side essentially refused to make any, generally refusing to talk about any substantive issues.

A host of Democratic and Republican former officials—including a former national security adviser, secretary of defense, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, trade representative, and undersecretary of state for political affairs—went on record arguing that the Obama administration would have to challenge the Israeli government’s hard line towards the Palestinians in order for the peace process to be successful. Unfortunately, the White House apparently had no interest in doing so.

Instead, Washington has focused on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to give in to U.S. and Israeli demands that he recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” While the Palestinian government, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the ruling Fatah party have all recognized the state of Israel for more than 20 years, the Obama administration has effectively moved the goalposts by declaring that recognizing the Israeli government, acknowledging its right to exist, and providing security guarantees is not enough, insisting that the Palestinians explicitly recognize the state of Israel’s ethno-religious identity as well. No previous administration has put forward such a requirement. President Carter never made such demands on Egypt, nor did President Clinton require this of Jordan as a condition for their peace treaties with Israel. Abbas has said that Israel can identify itself however it wants, but—given that 20 percent of the Israeli population is ethnically Palestinian Arab—it would be politically impossible to agree to something that would acknowledge second-class status for other Palestinians.

Never in history has any country been required to recognize the ethnic or religious identity of another state as a condition for peace. It appears, then, that the Obama administration’s demand may have been an effort to destroy any chance of a peace agreement and leave an opening to blame the Palestinians—despite their agreement to virtually every other issue—for the failure of the peace process.

The failure may also come from President Obama’s trusting Secretary of State John Kerry, a longtime supporter of the Israeli right, to play such a key role in the peace talks. In 2004, Kerry unconditionally endorsed an Israeli plan to unilaterally and illegally annex large areas of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with only a series of small non-contiguous cantons surrounded by Israel as their “state,” a proposal denounced worldwide as a violation of the UN Charter, a series of UN Security Council resolutions, and basic principles of international law. Indeed, Kerry has long insisted that it was “unrealistic” to demand an Israeli withdrawal from its occupied territories. (By contrast, Kerry has demanded that Russia withdraw completely from Crimea, citing the illegality of any country acquiring “part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force.”)

A Democratic administration is basically supporting an apartheid state replete with ethnic cleansing.   Under what world does a secular, U.S. 586abc388d8e5ab94dee6a936e26ea36democracy support an apartheid-creating theocracy that won’t follow any agreements it made previously?   Why are we the lone country cowering in the corner with a government gone genocidal instead of searching out the country’s numerous moderates and secular leaders and finding a path to coexistance?  It truly worries me that  former SOS Hillary Clinton who went on Fareed Zakaria’s show on Sunday may continue down this road of letting huge political donors outweigh solutions and fairness. Yet, her interview sounded like there’s some key differences between Kerry’s handling of this situation and the previous problems handled by Clinton.  Is she distancing herself from her former boss and signalling that things will be different with her in charge?  Will US domestic and foreign policy stop lurching to the right?

ZAKARIA: Bibi Netanyahu…

CLINTON: Right.

ZAKARIA: You say you had a complicated, and it sounded like a difficult relationship with him.

CLINTON: Well, I have to say, I’ve known Bibi a long time. And I have a very good relationship with him, in part because we can yell at each other and we do. And I was often the designated yeller. Something would happen, a new settlement announcement would come and I would call him up, “What are you doing, you’ve got to stop this.” And we understood each other, because I know how hard it is to be the leader of a relatively small country that is under constant pressure, and does face a lot of legitimate threats to its existence from those around it. And I also care deeply about how Israel is able not just to survive, but thrive, and just fundamentally disagreed with Bibi in the ’90s that I was in favor of a two-state solution. I was the first person associated with any administration to say that out loud. And he did not. But then when he came back in in 2009, he did. And I’ve sat with him, as you and I are sitting, and I really believed that if he thought he could get adequate security guarantees for a long enough period of time, he would be able to resolve everything with the exception of Jerusalem, which is the hardest issue. You can get borders and if you can figure out how to do security within those borders, some of which may require having IDF and international forces in the Jordan Valley, for example, then if you could move toward a state and leave Jerusalem to be worked on, because that’s the hardest issue for all sides.

ZAKARIA: But, you know, he gave an interview recently to, I think it was The Times of Israel where he said there are no circumstances under which we will ever relinquish security control of the area west of the Jordan, meaning, the West Bank. That sounds like it’s a – it’s going back on his acceptance of the two-state solution.

CLINTON: Well, Fareed, I see that as an – as an opening negotiating position, because I’ve had the private one-on-one conversations and the private conversations with him sitting there and – and Mahmoud Abbas sitting there and George Mitchell sitting there. And I know that Abbas, in my conversations, was willing to entertain a number of years where there could be some continuing security. Remember, the IDF – the Israel Defense Forces – have a working relationship with the Palestinian Authority security forces, which have been incredibly professional. We’ve helped to provide training, as has Jordan and others, and the positions that Netanyahu has taken. Now, once they take a position, and I know the years that Abbas has said are – are permitted and – and I know the years that Bibi has demanded, you’re in a negotiation. But if there’s no process going on, which is why we can’t even leave the vacuum of no process, despite how incredibly frustrating it is, then, of course Abbas is going to say never, not under any circumstances, and Bibi is going to say absolutely forever.

ZAKARIA: In 2009, you said that you wanted Israel settlement activity to stop. In fact, you were pretty blunt. You said no exceptions.

CLINTON: Um-hmm.

ZAKARIA: You write in the book that that was a tactical mistake because it made on – Bibi Netanyahu get even more hardline.

CLINTON: Right.

ZAKARIA: But Martin Indyk has just resigned as the you know, the kind of – the sherpa of the peace process. And he says that the immediate trigger, in his view, there were many, but was the fact that the Palestinians looked at the Israeli continued settlement activity…

CLINTON: Right.

ZAKARIA: – and said these guys are not serious, we’re never going to be able to get a state…

CLINTON: Right.

ZAKARIA: – look at what they’re doing.

CLINTON: This is my biggest complaint, with the Israeli government. I am a strong supporter of Israel, a strong supporter of their right to defense themselves. But the continuing settlements, which have been denounced by successive American administrations on both sides of the aisle, are clearly a terrible signal to send, if, at the same time, you claim you’re looking for a two-state solution. Now, when I was negotiating and I had been able to put together three face-to-face meetings between Netanyahu and Abbas, it was clear that if we were working off the ’67 borders, which was our stated position that President Obama had outlined, some of the settlements would be within any responsible drawing of borders for Israel. But a number of them would not. And those that would not would have to be either dismantled or live under Palestinian rule. There are deep wells of mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides. And what I’ve urged the Israelis to do is do more to help the Palestinians in the West Bank right now. Don’t monopolize the water. Don’t make it difficult to build. So even while we’re struggling over the end issues that would resolve the conflict, like borders, don’t make life so miserable, you know, because that’s not any way to begin to try to deal with the mistrust. You know, the longer I do this, Fareed, the more convinced I am that mistrust and misunderstanding are often the real fundamental obstacles to bringing people together. And that means that people from both sides of whatever divide it is, whether it’s Israeli, Palestinian, you know, Russian-speaking, Ukraine-speaking, whatever it might be, people have to start listening and working together to build habits of cooperation that might possibly lead to greater trust.

b0e012742028c812b2cd54c4898bf81cThere are a number of articles where you read recent interviews with Hillary where she sounds more and more like a candidate these days. I want to hear that Hillary will take us back to democracy for all.  Not just for those who can purchase it.   Here’s Hillary on the US Border situation.

In a smart move, Hillary Clinton firmed up her position on the crisis in an interview that aired over the weekend — in a manner that, intentionally or not, sharpened the contrast with the position of most Republicans.

Speaking to Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Clinton came out against any changes to the 2008 trafficking law, which Republicans are seeking to expedite deportations of arriving minors as a condition for supporting any money to address the debacle.

“I don’t agree that we should change the law,” Clinton told Ramos. She added that she wanted a more strenuous effort to distinguish between “migrant” children and “refugees,” to ensure that those who genuinely qualify for humanitarian relief in the U.S. obtain it. “I’m advocating an appropriate procedure, well funded by the Congress, which they are resisting doing, so that we can make individual decisions,” Clinton said. “We should be setting up a system in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, to screen kids over there, before they get in the hands of coyotes.”

In opposing changes to the 2008 law, Clinton has placed herself a bit to the left of even Obama, who initially signaled openness to such changes before backtracking after Congressional Dems objected. And Clinton is also clarifying her previous suggestion that the kids should be “sent back.”

“Like Pelosi and Reid, she’s realized that the tough line of President Obama – change the law, send ‘em back – is not the position of most Democratic voters and lawmakers,” immigration advocate Frank Sharry tells me.  “She’s repositioned herself. Smart.”

db43999108457ef4e1738648a9984985Is it likely Hillary will move us back to more traditional Democratic policies or is she likely to continue the rightward drift of elected Democratic Leaders like Obama and even Bill Clinton?  A recent poll shows that Hillary is popular with white voters; more so than a lot of Democratic pols before her.

This entire idea of having a crazy right wing nut of  GOP while Democrats continue to cater to neocons and plutocrats still worries me. We use to have two functioning parties that represented fairly diverse groups of voters. It wasn’t all sweetness and light, but there wasn’t such a concentration of policy that benefited so few coming out of them both.  They also did the business of the people.   Now we still have two parties. It’s just that one represents crazy religionists and whacked out billionaire libertarians and the other one that occasionally does something for the common american still is likely to slide further to the right to attract rich, powerful donors.

So, that’s what’s on my mind.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Sheena, Queen of the Jungle but not Master to Herself

sheenaaGood Morning Afternoon

I am a coward. A big fat coward. I’ve spent the last countless days avoiding the computer so that I could have an excuse not to go online.

Why? Because one of my oldest childhood friends from Florida…whom I’ve lost touch with over the years, but is someone who is connected deeply to my memories of growing up that I could not even comprehend a world without her…this person who shared life dreams with me…is currently getting treatment for third-stage breast cancer.

sh1 (03)my peopleThe chemo is making her sick as hell. Her long natural curly hair is all gone, she’s bald, and the things that seem to keep her going now are the three kids (20, 15 and 6) and her crazy family and her close friends, which are more like family to her then the one she and her sister survived from.

Honestly, I cannot tell you how many adversities she has fought through. My one repeated memory of her locking her bedroom door when we were little, and sleeping with a kitchen knife under the bed should give you a hint. The fact that the mother did not “believe” the stories…or divorce the father until years later. Oh…it is amazing that the family has even worked through it, albeit understandably with tensions still intact.

sh1 (06) bobIt was something I could not face. To read her email telling me how her treatment was going, what it was doing to her physically, financially and emotionally. Shit.

I finally sent her a message yesterday and told her what a coward I was…and why I had not responded to her the past couple of days. I am so pissed at myself.

It really makes me want to check out even more, especially with so much crap going on, and so many good people like my friend…struggling to get through the day.  As if she did not have all the shitty obstacles of her life to get across, then to have additional road blocks put up by rich ass dickwad politicians and hypocritical assholes. The hoops she has jump to get her treatments covered in Gov. Rick Scott aka Voldemort’s State of Florida is ridiculous. It just adds to an already stressful situation. I hate it.

The reason for that longer than usual opening is to give you the sense of my mood. My frustrations.

Now, on to a few items of fancy this morning…you see these old comic clips?

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

sheena save himShe was the first woman “heroine” main character to have a comic book all to herself. Years before Wonder Woman!

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle is a fictional, American comic book jungle girl heroine, originally published primarily by Fiction House. She was the first female comic-book character with her own title, with her 1937 (in Great Britain; 1938 in the United States) premiere preceding Wonder Woman #1 (cover-dated Dec. 1941). Sheena inspired a wealth of similar comic-book jungle queens. She was predated in literature by Rima, the Jungle Girl, introduced in the 1904 William Henry Hudson novel Green Mansions. Sheena was ranked 59th in Comics Buyer’s Guide’s “100 Sexiest Women in Comics” list.

JumboComics115p02An orphan who grew up in the jungle, learning how to survive and thrive there, she possessed the ability to communicate with wild animals and was proficient in fighting with knives, spears, bows, and makeshift weapons.

This woman kicks ass…as you can see if you take a look at her archive of comics:

Here…at 1229_sheena2this link (which is a site Boston Boomer sent to me a little while ago The Digital Comic Museum and it is fantastic.) The Digital Comic Museum > Sheena, Queen of the Jungle

Or…here: Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (Fiction House)

Both are good sites with lots of downloadable comics that have become part of the public domain.

One thing you will notice is the change in Sheena as she transitions into the 1950’s woman.

jumbo-comics-104_03_sheena p

SQOTJ 18 09 0

SQOTJ 18 09p

Take a look at this gallery of covers and see the way she is represented, in both the artwork and situations on the covers and the various titles and headlines.

sheenaSheena went from a cover where she is alone kicking a guy’s ass in a crocodile suit and, “She rules a world of killer beast and savage men!” to an ape grabbing her suggestively around the waist, and a dudebro saving her by shooting another ape with, “Trek the jungle trails of killer beast and savage men with Sheena wild beauty of the Congo.”

Well, that was just my observation.

The Digital Comic Museum has some wonderful comics to look through. Luckily they have more Women in Red comics, so maybe another installment of our shero is in the future?

Sally_ONeil_002Other strong woman characters from the late 30’s and 40’s included Brenda Starr Reporter, Sally O’Neil Copsally oneil 1,

Sally the Sleuth in Crime Smashers (Check out the first Sally the Sleuth story here… Love the lipstick gun!), Firehair Queen of the Sagebrush Frontier, Lady Luck (who was later replaced by Wendy the Waitress) and the dames in Gangsters and Gun Molls and Underworld.

sally oneil2

sally oneil ladyI think if you spend some time, and bookmark some of those pages, you will have an enjoyable few hours wasted away…and forget reality of what is going on in the real world…where those women in the comic books from the 40’s seemed to be given more credit for being an individual “thinking” human being (flawed or not) than what the assholes give women of today. I mean I am not blind to the advances that have been made, but seriously?  Links below the jump will connect to this point.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Warm-up and melt-downs

Good Morning…

010814-toon-luckovich-ed

01/08 Luckovich cartoon: Chilled out | Mike Luckovich

Ah…tis the season for “expert” climatologist analysis on the circle box, of course I am speaking of Fox News and the other right-wing idiots. Here is a montage of clips and commentary via Jon Stewart, it is the first show of 2014, what a load of shit these folks are peddling. Jon Stewart to Fox News’ Varney: ‘Your f*cking opinion is not as valid as scientific fact’

Jon Stewart’s wish to start 2014 without “left vs. right ideological bullsh*t” was quickly dashed on The Daily Show Monday night, as he confronted conservatives’ continued spewing of hot air regarding global warming.

“There you have it: ‘War on Christmas’ is over; ‘war on carbon’ begins,” Stewart said. “Global warming: Just one more liberal conspiracy. Because even though there is a great deal of scientific data establishing climate change trends. Even though many of the models of global warming predict more extremes of weather — not just warming — apparently decades of peer-reviewed scientific study can be, like a ficus plant, destroyed in one cold weekend.”

Stewart got particularly incensed at Fox News host Stuart Varney’s argument that a Russian research ship’s getting trapped in ice in Antartica proved the world was getting colder, which he punctuated with a blithe, “That’s just my opinion.”

“That’s just your opinion — your opinion,” Stewart raged. “It means nothing.”

There is video at the link here, but I love what Stewart said about Fox News turning to Donald Trump for “expert” analysis on the weather:

“So global warming must be a hoax,” Stewart said sarcastically. “Because, I mean, Mr. Trump would never conceal bald-faced truth or go through any effort to hide when something’s clearly receding over the years.”

More on the weather:

A Bridge of Boats across Frozen Tigris River, Mosul, 1903 | Informed Comment

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 1.49.38 AM

The authors say locals in Mosul told them that the last time the river froze was 1750. That freezing became more rare after that date is significant, since 1750 marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and increased coal burning for energy. The period 1250-1850 or the medieval cooling period (often incorrectly called the ‘little ice age’) saw cool temperatures in many parts of the world.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Does the Cold Wave Imply Anything About Global Warming? The Answer is Clearly No.

The central and eastern U.S. is now in the midst of a major cold wave, with large regions dropping below zero F and wind chills reaching below -30F.    That is fact.

The problem is that the media, some non-governmental organizations, and plenty of individuals are making claims that this event has some kind of implication regarding anthropogenic global warming.

On one hand, some global warming skeptics suggest that such cold is clear evidence that global warming is nonsense.

On the other, global warming “advocates” explain the cold wave as another example of extreme weather forced by increased greenhouse gases.

The truth?  Both are wrong.

Real interesting read there.

So…if you are slowly warming up after the big chill, you may have missed a few new stories on politicians running for office in 2014.

Rep. Paul Broun: Democrats need ‘illegal aliens’ to win in Georgia | The Raw Story

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said on Tuesday that Democrats will never be able to regain a majority in Georgia without enlisting the votes of “illegal aliens.” According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, the arch conservative ex-physician believes that the Republicans will reign uncontested over Georgia for decades to come.

“The only way Georgia is going to change is if we have all these illegal aliens in here in Georgia, and give them the right to vote. It would be morally wrong, it would be illegal to do so, under our current law,” Broun said.

“Actually, all these illegal aliens are getting federal largesse and taking taxpayer’s dollars. That’s the only way this state is going to become Democratic again, in the next number of decades,” he went on.

“It only helps the Democrats if we legalize all these illegal aliens in this country who the Democrats want to put on federal welfare programs — and actually, they are on federal welfare programs today,” he explained.

“The Democrats want to make them all basically dependent on the federal government so they can continue their radical, big government agenda.”

But that may be nothing compared to Erick Bennett, Sen. Susan Collins Challenger Says His Wife-Beating Conviction Proves ‘Guts and Integrity’ – Little Green Footballs

Erick Bennett, a conservative challenger to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who was convicted of assaulting his wife in 2003, argued that his continued denial of the charge shows his political integrity.

“The fact that I have been jailed repeatedly for not agreeing to admit to something I didn’t do should speak to the fact of how much guts and integrity I have,” Bennett, whose wife divorced him after the attack, said during a news conference Monday, captured by Bangor Daily News. “If I go to D.C., I’m going to have that same integrity in doing what I say, and saying what I do, when it comes to protecting people’s rights, as well as their pocketbooks.”

Bennett’s legal efforts to fight the wife-beating charge ran out when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction in 2004. But during the news conference to discuss his primary challenge to Collins, Bennett maintained the justice system is designed to “railroad” alleged domestic abusers.

More: Sen. Susan Collins Challenger Says His Wife-Beating Conviction Proves ‘Guts and Integrity’

Crazy.

The rest of the links are in a dump this morning, because I have to admit that I’m writing this post Tuesday night, and my fingers are freezing as I type on the keyboard.

Alfred Hitchcock’s unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened – Features – Films – The Independent

It’s a little known fact that the great director made a film about the Nazi death camps – but, horrified by the footage he saw, the documentary was never shown. Now it is to be released. Geoffrey Macnab reports

The British Army Film Unit cameramen who shot the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 used to joke about the reaction of Alfred Hithcock to the horrific footage they filmed. When Hitchcock first saw the footage, the legendary British director was reportedly so traumatised that he stayed away from Pinewood Studios for a week. Hitchcock may have been the king of horror movies but he was utterly appalled by “the real thing”.

In 1945, Hithcock had been enlisted by his friend and patron Sidney Bernstein to help with a documentary on German wartime atrocities, based on the footage of the camps shot by British and Soviet film units. In the event, that documentary was never seen.

Including women on convening committees increases women speakers at scientific meetings

Women are currently underrepresented among speakers at scientific meetings, both in absolute terms and relative to their representation among attendees, but a new study suggests one way to address this deficit. An analysis of 460 scientific symposia to be published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology reveals that the inclusion of at least one woman on a convening committee increases the proportion of female speakers by as much as 86% and significantly reduces the likelihood the session would have an all-male list of speakers.

Calif. deputy waited seconds before shooting boy with toy rifle: lawsuit | Reuters

A northern California sheriff’s deputy shot a 13-year-old just three seconds after ordering him to drop a plastic replica of an assault rifle, the boy’s parents claimed in an amended civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Erick Gelhaus, a veteran deputy and firearms instructor, killed Andy Lopez as the eighth grader was walking near his home in the wine-country town of Santa Rosa in October carrying an imitation gun he planned to return to a friend, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

[...]

At least two people at the scene moments before the shooting said the 5-foot, 3-inch teen looked like a child carrying a toy gun, the complaint says.

[...]

“From the time that the deputies called out to Andy Lopez until the time that Gelhaus fired his first shot, only three seconds elapsed,” the suit says. In an interview, Casillas said the information came from two witnesses to the incident.

The suit also says that deputies knew the boy would respond to the order to drop the gun by turning to face them. The suit does not say how they knew that, but Casillas said that it would be typical for someone who is not a criminal to turn toward the sound of a police officer shouting.

Now a few articles on Newspapers, Libraries and the MLA:

How Mature | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy

The Modern Language Association (not a group with which I normally sympathize much) apparently denied the Daily Caller press credentials for this year’s MLA conference. The response of Eric Owens, “Education Editor” of the Daily Caller? Calling the MLA “douchebags” six times, plus once in the headline of the column, a headline that right now appears on the Daily Caller front page. (I assume that, at the Daily Caller, like at many online sites but not like at most newspapers, a columnist — and especially an “editor” — gets to choose the post title.) Oh, and there are six “fascist”s in there, too; that at least is not a vulgarity, but it shows a certain lack of creativity, no?

MLA to bar pro-Israel campus groups from making presentations at Chicago conference | JPost | Israel News

The pro-Israel campus groups Hillel International and the Israel on Campus Coalition were denied the right to present a discussion at the January 9-12 Modern Language Association convention in Chicago, an event that is seen as a possible precursor to an MLA academic boycott of Israel that would mirror recent boycotts by the American Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

MLA’s convention includes a roundtable discussion titled “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine,” which will feature supporters but no opponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Academics Gone Wild: This MLA Conference Craigslist Ad Is Delightful

I don’t know about delightful, but it written better than some of the crap we saw in those CPAC Craigslist ads.

Newspaper to Put All Reporters Through Social Media Boot Camp

One of the country’s oldest remaining big city newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle, is set to announce a radical plan to arrest circulation decline and remain relevant in the digital age, Mashable has learned.

Audrey Cooper, the first female managing editor in the paper’s 148-year history, will require all staff to enter what is being described as a startup-style incubator. In a plush off-site office procured from the paper’s Food and Wine section, journalists will undergo two months of rigorous training — in effect, a digital and social media boot camp.

Ugh…that social media stuff is really getting ridiculous. I realize it is becoming the communication of the future, but if we completely surrender to this shitty way of “talking” to each other…what will really become of one to one interactions…or reading books with paper pages. This is the first public library without any books | Grist

The end is near! Page-sniffers, mourn the loss of our dog-eared friends! I MEAN … HURRAH for a library that saves trees! (Sob.)

BiblioTech is an all-digital public library on the south side of San Antonio that offers 10,000 titles on 600 e-readers, 25 iPads, and 25 laptops. The library also includes 50 desktop computers and 100 Nook tablets preloaded with children’s books — just no physical books. (Patrons can read the library’s digital books on their own tablets as well.) Internet access and kids’ storytime are other, more familiar perks.

bibliotech-interior
Bexar BiblioTech

Sounds pretty green, right? Without the need for vast book storage space, the $2.3 million library can be way smaller than traditional libraries. At fewer than 5,000 square feet, BiblioTech’s smaller space means less heat and light and thus less pollution. As sage Umbra once wrote:

It hurts to say it, but e-books are looking like a good option, even perhaps the better option. Ouch …

There are caveats as usual, but I am forced to report the general conclusion that e-books produce less CO2 emissions and use less water than conventional newspapers and books.

According to Ted Genoways’ oft-cited article “The Price of the Paperless Revolution,” it takes roughly the same amount of energy and materials to make an e-reader as it does 50 books. So for BiblioTech to break even, energy-wise, patrons would need to read 50 books on each tablet. With 10,000 library users registered in its first three months, this probably won’t be an issue.

I have such a hard time getting my thoughts together, if I am trying to write something down or figure something out, without having the book in front of me in paper form.

Give me those dog-eared pages and pencil-lined notated margins any day.

Now for the big news of the morning, there is a melt-down crisis: Terrifying Velveeta Shortage Threatens to Ruin Dip Season

Terrifying Velveeta Shortage Threatens to Ruin Dip Season

One Velveeta official expressed apologies for the ill-timed shortage, right on the cusp of “dip season” which is a thing that exists, like the Holiday season or deer season or back to school season or breakup season. Dip season.

According to AdAge, in recent weeks, consumers in some grocery stores in New Jersey noticed that their favorite Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product was missing. After inquiring with store officials, they were informed that there would be no more Velveeta until Mid February. Brand officials have said that the shortage is due to a “factory issue,” but my biggest “issue” here is how the fuck is America supposed to completely submerge its head in creamy, warm queso dip while millionaires concuss each other on national television WITHOUT MOTHERFUCKING ENORMOUS BRICKS OF VELVEETA FAKE CHEESE? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO CELEBRATE A PROPER AND TRADITIONAL DIP SEASON WITHOUT NUTRITIONALLY INFERIOR MASS PRODUCED PRODUCTS?

THANKS OBAMA.

Have a good morning, stay warm….and please share what you are reading about this cold winter day.


Tuesday Reads: Liberals, Libertarians, and Concern Trolls

Matisse-Woman-Reading-with-Tea1

Good Morning!!

Between the Red Sox being in the World Series and having to have a root canal on Saturday, I’ve been a little bit disconnected from politics. The Sox won again last night in St. Louis, and they’ll be coming back home to Fenway Park leading the series 3 games to 2; so they could end it tomorrow night. If this post is a little late, my aching jaw and baseball are the reasons why.

We’ve been talking a lot about libertarians lately, because so-called progressives have been aligning with those Ayn Rand fans since libertarian Edward Snowden began leaking top secret documents about the NSA and libertarian Glenn Greenwald began lecturing the world about what a great hero Snowden is for defecting to Russia and revealing the most secret counterintelligence methods of the U.S. and U.K.

The latest shameful episode was Saturday’s “Stop Watching Us” rally in Washington, at which supposedly “progressive” groups joined with anti-woman right-wingers like Justin Amash and neo-confederates like Ron and Rand Paul to protest the NSA doing its job of collecting foreign intelligence.

Before the rally took place, Tom Watson wrote a heartfelt column warning “progressives” that libertarians don’t make good bedfellows. Watson wrote that while he dislikes mass surveillance,

I cannot support this coalition or the rally. It is fatally compromised by the prominent leadership and participation of the Libertarian Party and other libertarian student groups; their hardcore ideology stands in direct opposition to almost everything I believe in as a social democrat.

The Libertarian Party itself — inaccurately described by Stop Watching Us as a “public advocacy organization” — is a right-wing political party that opposes all gun control lawsand public healthcaresupported the government shutdowndismisses public education,opposes organized labor, favors the end of Social Security as we know it, and argues in its formal political manifesto that “we should eliminate the entire social welfare system” while supporting “unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.”

Yet my progressive friends would take the stage with the representatives of this political movement? Why? The loss is much greater than the gain. Organizers trade their own good names and reputations to stand alongside — and convey legitimacy to — a party that opposes communitarian participation in liberal society, and rejects the very role of government itself. And their own argument for privacy is weakened by the pollution of an ideology that uses its few positive civil liberties positions as a predator uses candy with a child.

This is an abandonment of core principles, in my view, out of anger over Edward Snowden’s still-recent revelations about the National Security Agency and its spying activity, particularly domestic access to telephone and online networks and metadata. It represents trading long-held beliefs in social and economic justice for a current hot-button issue that — while clearly of concern to all Americans — doesn’t come close to trumping a host of other issues areas that require “the long game” of electoral politics and organizing. Going “all in” with the libertarian purists is a fatal and unnecessary compromise; reform is clearly needed, but the presence of anti-government laissez-faire wingers at the beating heart of the privacy movement will surely sour the very political actors that movement desperately needs to make actual — and not symbolic, link bait — progress in its fight.

But it was to no avail. Watson was attacked for his argument that the anti-surveillance fever is distracting from other important issues. People like Greenwald and Snowden couldn’t possibly care less about alleviating poverty, protecting women’s rights or the right to vote. They’d have no problem with Social Security and Medicare being eliminated, and as for voting, they’re anti-government anyway. Glenn Greenwald–whom some uninformed people believe is a “progressive,” saves his worst attacks for Democrats and in the past has supported Ron Paul and Gary Johnson for president. To Greenwald, sacrificing the entire legacy of FDR and the civil rights and women’s movements is no big deal. Here’s how he characterized the values of liberals who reject Ron Paul in 2011:

Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.

Of course, Greenwald is admitting that he’d sacrifice the social safety net and the rights of millions of Americans in a hopeless effort to defeat the military-industrial complex and its technologies. If you can stand to read the whole piece, you’ll also learn that Greenwald thinks Matt Stoller is a “brilliant” writer. Greenwald is a libertarian purist, with no understanding of how politics actually works. This is the pied piper that many “progressives” are following these days.

I guess I’m getting a little carried away here, so I’ll stop ranting and offer some pertinent links.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday Reads: Hostage Situation

WP-Hostage2

Good Morning!!

I hardly know where to begin this morning. The insanity that has gripped the nation’s capital is so extreme that some kind of intervention may be necessary.

Is it possible for the UN or the IMF to step in and explain to Tea Party Republicans why the full faith and credit of the United States government cannot be held hostage in an effort to overturn the results of two elections? Or perhaps they could explain to House Speaker John Boehner that his frantic efforts to hold onto his speakership could end with voters replacing him with a Democratic Speaker in 2014?

As depicted in the cartoon above, the Republican majority in the House is being held hostage by around 30-40 delusional Tea Party wingnuts and their putative leader–John Boehner has no clue how to deal with the hostage crisis. It’s a mystery to me why anyone would even want that job, but to Boehner the job is apparently more important than the nation’s–and the world’s–economic well-being. Holding onto his job is apparently so important to him that he is willing to look like a complete fool rather than stand up to a bunch of crazy people in his own party.

Meanwhile, the media pundits are getting a little more restless–realizing that we really could reach the debt limit on October 17 without the House voting on a “clean” continuing resolution or an increase in the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills.

Normally, I wouldn’t link to the National Review, but yesterday they published a piece by Washington editor Robert Costa, who probably has a pretty good idea what insane caucus in the House is up to. Costa writes:

Speaker John Boehner may be trying to finalize a plan to raise the debt limit, but House conservatives are already skeptical of his efforts. In interviews, several of them tell me they’re unlikely to support any deal that may emerge.

Costa goes on to quote a few of the wackiest of the wackos (emphasis added):

“They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don’t think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we’ve fought so hard,” says Representative Scott Garrett (R., N.J.). “If it doesn’t have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it’s just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won’t be enough.”

Representative Paul Broun (R., Ga.) agrees, and says Boehner risks an internal rebellion if he decides to broker a compromise. “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare, so whatever deal is put together must at least reschedule the implementation of Obamacare,” he says. “This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”

“Stay the course, don’t give in on it, that’s what the people in my district are saying,” says Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.). “We did a town hall the other day, and 74 percent of people said, ‘don’t raise the debt ceiling.’”

This despite the fact that polls show their ideas are poison to the American public. These people are truly insane, and they believe they’re winning. Nothing will stop them except throwing them out of their jobs. Here are some other reactions to Costa’s piece.

David Atkins of Hallabaloo: Nothing less than Fort Sumter will do.

If you think this is insane–and it is–keep in mind that it’s only going to get worse from here.

Until Republicans are removed from control of all branches of government, the brinksmanship is going to get worse, and the demands are going to become more severe. The lunatics are running the asylum now, the revanchist movement is in full swing, and the Lost Cause is the name of the game.

Not even sequestration-level spending plus cutting Medicare and Social Security will do for these people–and that’s after losing an election. Try to picture where the Republican party was 30 years ago. Then 20 years ago. Then 10 years. Then today. Now picture 10 years from now. Anyone who thinks there’s going to be a retreat from the precipice is deluding themselves. If they lose in 2014, it will be because they didn’t hold firm against Obamacare. If they lose to Hillary in 2016, it will be because they didn’t shout loud enough about Benghazi.

If we don’t stop them somehow, the Tea Party crazies will try to refight the Civil War.

Josh Barro at Business Insider: Republicans Do Crazy Things Because They Have Crazy Beliefs. Barro responds to Georgia Rep Paul Broun’s claim that “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare….This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”

It’s one thing to oppose Obamacare. It’s quite another to believe it will “destroy America and everything in America.” As Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy, a strong opponent of Obamacare, wrote last month:

The idea that we had a free-market health-care system before Obamacare, and a socialized one after, is completely and utterly incorrect. In 2010, before the passage of Obamacare, U.S.-government entities spent more per capita on health care than all but three other countries in the world. Obamacare adds to that spending by around 10 to 15 percent. Not good, to be sure, but not the whole kit and caboodle either.

The changes from Obamacare, good and bad, are marginal. It will not fundamentally change America….

But if you already believe something crazy — that Obamacare will destroy America — then it’s not additionally crazy to favor drastic, dangerous action to stop it.

Sarah Jones at Politicus USA: From Hostage Takers to Buffoons, House Republican Ineptitude Heads for Default.

Even a short term debt ceiling agreement is up in the air now. Not the actual debt ceiling limit, but a short term agreement. We can’t even do that now, if Robert Costa’s readings are accurate.

Costa tweeted, “One of my best House R sources thinks Boehner may, just may, be able to get votes for short-term DL ext, but even that is up in air” [....]

If you’re wondering how Republicans can be so out of it when the polls keep instructing them otherwise (as if the ONLY issue here is their own political survival, forget the people or this country), perhaps this level of utter cluelessness will be informative. When asked if the Republicans have their next move mapped out and if Boehner has any legislation drawn up regarding the debt ceiling, “Negatory,” Representative Pete Sessions replies. You see, it’s all about “messaging”. “We’re going to keep with our great, positive attitude and tell the president, ‘you’ve got to sit down and negotiate.’”

So, their great positive attitude involves tanking the economy and shutting down the government because they lost an election. Huh. Also: Only in Republican world is holding a gun to the country’s head before being willing to “talk” an act of good faith.

Republicans don’t understand this president very well at all, but then, we tend to project our own values onto others so this is understandable. They never should have threatened the country. They could have threatened anything but the American people and the democratic process, and this President wouldn’t have felt compelled to take a stand.

Boehner Onion

It’s really getting to be a cliche to point out that reports of Republican behavior are for real and not from The Onion. But seriously, it’s hard to believe The Onion can keep finding ways to exaggerate these people’s insanity. Apparently there was “outrage” after this 2011 Onion story; but does it actually seem crazy two years later to claim that what the Republicans are trying to do is going to hurt–even kill–some children?

A few more comments on the hostage situation from various pundits:

Washington Post Editorial Board: The House GOP has nothing to show for its government shutdown.

WHAT HAVE House Republicans managed to accomplish in a week of government shutdown?

Damage the livelihood of millions of Americans? Check. Government secretaries, food-truck operators, cleaners who work in motels near national parks: They’re all hurting.

Waste billions of taxpayer dollars? Check. It costs a lot to shut agencies, Web sites and parks, and it will cost a lot to reopen them. Meanwhile, the House has voted to pay the salaries, eventually, of hundreds of thousands of employees whom it has ordered not to work. That’s an odd way to manage an enterprise.

Interfere with key government operations? Check. The National Transportation Safety Boardcan’t investigate an accident last weekend on Metro’s Red Line that claimed the life of a worker. That could make future accidents more likely. On the other side of the world, U.S. allies from Tokyo to Singapore are wondering whether they can rely on a nation whose president has to go AWOL from a key summit meeting in their region.

Rattle the markets, slow an economy in recovery, interrupt potentially lifesaving research at the National Institutes of Health? Check, check and check.

Derail the hated Obamacare? Ch . . . — oh, no, wait a minute.

Because it’s not really about “Obamacare.” It’s about making government itself completely dysfunctional. I keep thinking about Dakinikat’s post yesterday and the pieces she quoted by Jonathan Chait and The Economist. Have we really reached the point where the gridlock in DC is so bad that our form of government is in danger of collapse? And what can we do about it? In order to change our system of divided government, we would need to call a Constitutional Convention. Even if we could get to that point in this atmosphere, the final result could be a lot worse than what we have now. I really believe the only way to save our form of government is to somehow throw all the Tea Party Republicans out of it. Is that possible?

Alex Altman at Time: Boehner Holds Weaker Cards In High-Stakes Political Poker

President Barack Obama says he will not pay House Republicans a ransom in exchange for re-opening the government or raising the debt ceiling. House Speaker John Boehner insists he doesn’t have the votes to do either without any White House concessions.

Both men are bluffing. And while Obama’s play is a risky one, Boehner’s bluff is worse: it just doesn’t look very credible.

In a Sunday interview with ABC News, Boehner said the U.S. faced the specter of its first ever federal default if Obama didn’t cave to GOP demands. “There are not the votes in the House,” Boehner declared, to pass a so-called “clean” bill to reopen the government. “The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit,” he added. “And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”


These kinds of threats have worked for Boehner before,

But this is now a less credible threat. A few days before Boehner went on TV to talk tough about the threat of default, he was reportedly confiding to fellow Republicans that he would never allow it. Failure to hike the debt limit would unleash a chain of economic calamities, if not the first ever federal default. Boehner doesn’t want that to be his political epitaph.

To be sure, there are plenty of House Republicans who are willing, if not eager, to hold the line. But if the votes aren’t there for clean bills, that’s only because Boehner hasn’t allowed them to come forward. As Speaker, he and his leadership team control the floor. A clean bill to reopen the government, and a companion measure to lift the debt limit, would draw unanimous or near-unanimous support from the chamber’s 200 Democrats; all but five are on record supporting such a vote. Nearly two-dozen Republicans are also publicly on board. Some say the number is far higher. If Boehner let a clean funding bill hit the House floor, “it would probably get 300 votes,” New York Representative Peter King, a Republican who has been critical of the party’s shutdown strategy, told TIME last week.

Jamelle Bouie at The Daily Beast: Five Boehner Quotes—From One Interview—That Explain Everything.

To watch John Boehner speak Sunday—in a segment with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos—was to watch him issue talking points from another dimension, where legislative hostage-taking is routine and the American public is eager to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States. The interview was rife with dishonesty, but there were five statements—in particular—that stood out for their recklessness and/or brazen disregard for the truth.

I won’t excerpt any more from this one. You need to go read the whole thing–it’s not long.

In my opinion, it’s an open question whether the insanity of the Tea Party can be beaten. Certainly, our democratic Republic cannot survive much more of this. The best solution would be for the Democrats to really hold their ground this time and for President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment and abolish the debt ceiling unilaterally. But do the Democrats and Obama have the guts to do it? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are grabbing your attention today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.


Wednesday Reads: Good Day, Yes?

coffeeframe2Good Morning

Yesterday was a good day, at least for me and a few of the people I love. My daughter is feeling better from her staph infection, my friend out in the cornfields of Iowa got a new job with the Secretary of State’s office, my son is kicking the hell out of a football and this little chocolate puff I have waited months for is finally growing up.

Let’s get to this morning’s reads, here are the latest headlines…I won’t bother to quote from them for you because honestly it is the same old shit, ah…stuff.

This guy is disgusting:  Weiner admits more lewd conduct, vows to stay in New York mayoral race – The Washington Post

I secretly hope they name this kid Geoffrey, but my money is on James or George: Kate Middleton, Prince William emerge with royal baby: ‘We’re still working on a name’   – NY Daily News

Hey, talk about same old shit…only the country changes: General outlines options for U.S. intervention in Syria – CBS News

Meanwhile another rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew up yesterday: Gulf of Mexico natural gas rig blew while completing ‘sidetrack well’ | NOLA.com

And, in Milwaukee, a jury has brought a guilty verdict in another unarmed black teen murder trial: John Henry Spooner gets life sentence in death of black teen | theGrio

A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who fatally shot his unarmed teenage neighbor was sentenced to life in prison Monday, days after telling the court he killed the boy for justice because he believed he stole his shotguns.

John Henry Spooner’s home had been burglarized two days before the May 2012 shooting, and he suspected 13-year-old Darius Simmons as the thief. So he confronted the teen, demanded that he return the guns and then shot him in the chest in front of his mother when he denied stealing anything.

Spooner’s own home surveillance cameras captured the shooting, and prosecutors aired the footage in court.

A jury found Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide last week, a conviction carrying a mandatory life sentence. The judge could have allowed for the possibility of parole after 20 years, but rejected that option, citing Spooner’s lack of remorse and desire to also kill the teen’s brother.

Okay, so I had to quote a bit of that story…

I’ve got another link from the Grio, this makes a lot of sense to me: Why breast cancer kills more black women: They’re sicker | theGrio

And while you read that article, think about the affect all the defunded Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing will have on those statistical averages of fatal cancer rates in black women.  Damn, it makes me so mad.

Shakesville blog has a post up about the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision, and how North Carolina is making the most out of it: Cool Democracy We’ve Got

The Supreme Court’s garbage voting rights decision last month paved the way for this shit: “North Carolina on Cusp of Passing Worst Voter Suppression Bill in the Nation.” Among the new requirements being proposed to access voting:

Implementing a strict voter ID requirement that bars citizens who don’t have a proper photo ID from casting a ballot.

Eliminating same-day voter registration, which allowed residents to register at the polls.

Cutting early voting by a full week.

Increasing the influence of money in elections by raising the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 and increasing the limit every two years.

Making it easier for voter suppression groups like True The Vote to challenge any voter who they think may be ineligible by requiring that challengers simply be registered in the same county, rather than precinct, of those they challenge.

Vastly increasing the number of “poll observers” and increasing what they’re permitted to do. In 2012, ThinkProgress caught the Romney campaign training such poll observers using highly misleading information.

Only permitting citizens to vote in their specific precinct, rather than casting a ballot in any nearby ward or election district. This can lead to widespread confusion, particularly in urban areas where many precincts can often be housed in the same building.

Barring young adults from pre-registering as 16- and 17-year-olds, which is permitted by current law, and repealing a state directive that high schools conduct voter registration drives in order to boost turnout among young voters.

Prohibiting some types of paid voter registration drives, which tend to register poor and minority citizens.

Dismantling three state public financing programs, including the landmark program that funded judicial elections.

Weakening disclosure requirements for outside spending groups.

Preventing counties from extending polling hours in the event of long lines or other extraordinary circumstances and making it more difficult for them to accommodate elderly or disabled voters with satellite polling sites at nursing homes, for instance.

Emphasis original.

Go to the link to read more of what Melissa thinks about this crap… you can probably already surmise what her conclusion to the post said.

Ross Douchehat published a biggie yesterday, I have two links that tackle his latest opinion piece on abortion:

Your Handy Guide To Anti-Choice Concern Trolling – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Ross Douthat Abortion Texas – Cardinal Douthat’s Musings On Abortion -Charlie Pierce at Esquire

In the New York Times this week there was a very interesting article about generations climbing up the income ladder: In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

That variation does not stem simply from the fact that some areas have higher average incomes: upward mobility rates, Mr. Hendren added, often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.

The gaps can be stark. On average, fairly poor children in Seattle — those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution — do as well financially when they grow up as middle-class children — those who grew up at the 50th percentile — from Atlanta.

Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.

There are interactive maps and other goodies at that link, please be sure to check it out.  One phrase that is used a lot in the article is “income mobility”

…earlier studies have already found that education and family structure have a large effect on the chances that children escape poverty. Other researchers, including the political scientist Robert D. Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” have previously argued that social connections play an important role in a community’s success. Income mobility has become one of the hottest topics in economics, as both liberals and conservatives have grown worried about diminished opportunities following more than a decade of disappointing economic growth. After years of focusing more on inequality at a moment in time, economists have more recently turned their attention to people’s paths over their lifetimes.

I will leave any commentary on this article to Dr. Dak.

Since I’ve got a link here from the New York Times, you will find this next read intriguing: New York Times Quotes 3.4 Men for Every Woman | The Jane Dough

When the New York Times broke the absolutely shocking news on Sunday that many college-aged women like to have sex, some ladies called for an end to “women’s stories” that do nothing but foster “worry” about women in society. However, before completely dismissing this genre of journalism, we need to realize that these “women’s stories” are some of the only stories where women are actually being quoted and being heard.

In January and February of this year, University of Nevada Las Vegas students Alexi Layton and Rochelle Richards, under the guidance of their professor Alicia Shepard, scoured the 325 front-page stories published in the New York Times and found that the paper quoted male sources 3.4 times more frequently than female ones. Even in areas that are perceived to be more female-dominated — style, arts, education, health, etc. — male sources vastly outnumbered female ones.

Perhaps this phenomenon shouldn’t be surprising since men continue to dominate newsrooms and the Times is no exception. Of the 325 stories published on the front page, 214 were written by men (65.8 percent); their stories mentioned four times as many male sources as female sources. Female reporters perpetuated the bias as well; of the 96 stories written by women, men were quoted twice as frequently as women. So, as Amanda Hess at Slate pointed out, “hiring more female reporters could help lift the Times’ sourcing ratio from terrible to just bad.”

Yup, more at the Jane Dough link…go read it.

Hey, down here in Georgia a Democrat has announce she is running for Saxby’s seat:

Michelle Nunn Enters 2014 Georgia Senate Race

How Michelle Nunn puts pressure on Georgia Republicans

Gee, I can only hope she has a chance…but I know how strong the redneck vote is, I mean how strong the red GOP vote is within the state.

Now for a few links that are more along the lines of special interest, or just plain non-newsy reads to start your day off right.

Fort Tells of Spain’s Early Ambitions

In the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina, archaeologists have discovered remains of a 16th century fort, the earliest one built by Europeans deep in the interior of what is now the United States. The fort is a reminder of a neglected period in colonial history, when Spain’s expansive ambitions ran high and wide, as yet unmatched by England.

If the Spanish had succeeded, Robin A. Beck Jr., a University of Michigan archaeologist on the discovery team, suggested, “Everything south of the Mason-Dixon line might have become part of Latin America.” But they failed.

Researchers had known from Spanish documents about the two expeditions led by Juan Pardo from the Atlantic coast from 1566 to 1568. A vast interior seemed open for the taking. This was almost 20 years before the failure of the English at Sir Walter Raleigh’s “lost colony” near the North Carolina coast or their later successes in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607 and at Plymouth Rock in 1620 — the “beginnings” emphasized in the standard colonial history taught in American schools.

One of Pardo’s first acts of possession, in early 1567, was building Fort San Juan in an Indian town almost 300 miles in the interior, near what is known today as the Great Smoky Mountains. It was the first and largest of six forts the expedition erected on a trail blazed through North and South Carolina and across the mountains into eastern Tennessee. At times Pardo was following in the footsteps of Hernando de Soto in the 1540s.

Pardo was ordered to establish a road to the silver mines in Mexico…without maps or a true understanding of the New World’s geography, the belief at the time was that the Appalachians where the same mountain range that ran through central Mexico.

After years of searching, archaeologists led by Dr. Beck, Christopher B. Rodning of Tulane University in New Orleans and David G. Moore of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., came upon what they described in interviews as clear evidence of the fort’s defensive moat and other telling remains of Fort San Juan. The discovery in late June was made five miles north of Morganton, N.C., at a site long assumed to be the location of an Indian settlement known as Joara, where military artifacts and burned remains of Spanish-built huts were also found.

While excavating a ceremonial Indian mound at the site, the archaeologists encountered different colored soil beneath the surface. Part of the fort’s defensive moat had been cut through the southern side of the mound. Dr. Beck said that further excavations and magnetometer subsurface readings showed that the moat appeared to extend more than 70 to 100 feet and measured nearly 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep, in a configuration “typical of European moats going back to the Romans.”

In the area north of Banjoville, up into North Carolina they have found Spanish conquistador artifacts along the rivers, like helmets and various swords and axes and other weapons that have been dated back to de Soto. Also, some of the Indian tribes mention the Spanish visitors in their stories. Furthermore, many of the Spaniards settled in the area with the Cherokee Indians as well.  There’s some interesting history in these mountains, that’s for dang sure!

This next link is to a picture gallery: Broken dreams: Walker Evans’s 1930s Americana

New York molls, Negro churches and the barbershop home of Perfecto Hair Restorer … this enchanting series of photographs shows us 1930s America through the eyes of photographer Walker Evans as he travelled from Alabama to New York City, documenting life during the Great Depression. His images earned him the first solo exhibition ever to be held at MoMA in New York. Now, 75 years later, they’re back on public view, in Walker Evans American Photographs, which runs until 26 January 2014

Walker Evans: 42nd Street, New York, 1929

42nd Street, New York, 1929

And finally, what would all this history stuff be without a bit of Medieval nuggets thrown in?

Religious and Cultural Boundaries between Vikings and Irish: The Evidence of Conversion

Clare Downham

The March in the Islands of the Medieval West, Brill Academic Publishers, November 16 (2012)

Abstract

The Scandinavian migrations of the early Viking Age imprinted in European minds anenduring image of vikings as marauding heathens. As descendants of these ‘salt water bandits’ settled into their new homes, they adopted traits from their host cultures. One such trait was the adoption of Christianity. This was perhaps the biggest change whichaffected vikings in a colonial situation as it entailed a new system of belief and way of understanding the world. Vikings in Ireland have often portrayed as late converts, with christian ideas only taking hold over a century after vikings settled in the island. Nevertheless in this paper I seek to argue that vikings of Dublin began to adopt christianity at an early stage, although the process of conversion was protracted and possibly uneven across social ranks. The stereotype of Hiberno-Scandinavians as staunch heathens may need revision.

Ninth-century literature from Ireland expresses fear of vikings as slave-raiders and heathens. It was not however until the eleventh century that vikings ‘burst onto the Irish literary stage’ by which time (as Máire Ní Mhaonaigh has demonstrated) astereotype of heathen, plundering vikings had evolved which did not always reflectcontemporary realities. It is in accounts from the eleventh century and later that we get colourful descriptions of heathen activity linked with ninth-century vikings, for example the satirical account of the ‘druid’ Ormr who is hit by a stone and foretells his imminent death, or Auða, the wife of the viking leader Þórgísl, who was said to issue prophecies while seated on the altar at Clonmacnoise. These accounts were on the one hand meant to be entertaining, but on the other they were intended as negative publicity for contemporary viking groups which helped to justify their subjection to Irish kings.

To read the paper in full click the link here: The March in the Islands of the Medieval West

On the subject of Moons: The Night the Moon exploded and other Lunar tales from the Middle Ages

medieval moon

The Moon in the Nuremberg Chronicles

When writing about the events of the the year 1178 in his Chronicle, Gervase of Canterbury interrupts his account of kings and wars to relate a very unusual occurrence in the night sky:

This year on the 18th of June, when the Moon, a slim crescent, first became visible, a marvellous phenomenon was seen by several men who were watching it. Suddenly, the upper horn of the crescent was split in two. From the mid point of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out over a considerable distance fire, hot coals and sparks. The body of the Moon which was below, writhed like a wounded snake. This happened a dozen times or more, and when the Moon returned to normal, the whole crescent took on a blackish appearance.

This account has puzzled modern astronomers – some suggest that the monks saw an asteroid crashing into the moon, while others believe that it was a meteorite that had entered the Earth’s atmosphere at just the right spot – between the monks and the moon – making the observers believe that what they saw was happening on the moon.

For the monks who saw this phenomenon this event would be very worrying indeed. For medieval people the moon was an ever-present, fascinating and mysterious object. The moon not only brought light to the night sky, but it also marked the passage of time and could determine the personality of man or woman.

That particular blog post is full of cool things and drawings go read it because you will be amazed at some of the advanced discoveries during a time known as the “dark ages.”

Ooof, this post turned out longer than I had planned. Hope you have a great day, stay cool and please let us know what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


Wednesday Reads: Link Dump, Cheaters and Muppets

2318187700_4d91d6e5bbGood Morning

I have only a few links for you this morning. On Monday I went to the neurologist, and it turns out I did have a seizure last month. The doctor put me on Topamax, aka “dope-a-max.” As if I needed any more help in the loopy department…

The side effects are scary, I am very sleepy and my fingers are tingling like the dickens. One possible thing I am looking forward to, is this medication causes loss of appetite, weight loss and anorexia.  I know there is no way in hell I will become anorexic, but shedding some pounds is a big plus. However, as my dad says…with my luck, fat chance.

On with the news reads.

WTF is it with the GOP and their hypocrite candidates?  Mark Sanford wins GOP nomination in South Carolina

It makes me want to puke…meanwhile, in Queens, NY:

Malcolm Smith Accused of Bribery for Spot on Mayoral Ballot

BTW, Smith is a Democrat…but he wanted to run on the Republican ticket.

N.Y. Lawmakers Charged in Plot to Buy Spot on Mayoral Ballot

What the senator, Malcolm A. Smith, wanted to do, the other man explained, was going to cost “a pretty penny.”

“But it’s worth it,” replied Senator Smith, a Democrat, according to a transcript of the January meeting. “Because you know how big a deal it is.”

His plan, described by federal prosecutors in a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday, was as ambitious as it was audacious. Mr. Smith was going to bribe his way onto the ballot to run for mayor of New York.

But he needed help, from a disparate cast of characters, including a Republican City Council member from Queens, Daniel J. Halloran III, and two Republican leaders from Queens and the Bronx, Vincent Tabone and Joseph J. Savino. And he needed the help of the other man in the car, who, unbeknown to Mr. Smith, was a cooperating witness for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was recording the whole conversation.

There is a graphic here: Untangling the Arrests in the N.Y. Corruption Case

In Atlanta, cheating is in the news headlines these days.  Here is coverage from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

CHEATING OUR CHILDREN

Ex-Atlanta schools chief Hall leaves Fulton jail

Indicated APS educators
Beverly Hall leaves the Fulton County Jail on Tuesday night. | Ben Gray/AJC

All but a few of the 35 educators indicted in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal have turned themselves in to authorities.

Raw: Hall arrives at jail
Shirley Franklin: ‘Lynch mob’
Beverly Hall’s bond lowered
Photos: Jail scene
Booking photos
Video: Educators surrender
Photos: Who is indicted
Gallery: AJC reports
Read the indictment
Join Twitter conversation
AJC: Cheating Our Children
AJC editor on CNN

What a mess!

There is also some sad news as well, yesterday Jane Henson passed away, she was 78. Jane Henson, matriarch to Muppets, dies at 78

This 1960 handout photo provided by The Jim Henson Company shows Jane Henson, right, with Jim Henson and the cast of Sam and Friends, in Washington. Jane Henson died in her Connecticut home on April 2, 2013 after a long battle with cancer.

This 1960 handout photo provided by The Jim Henson Company shows Jane Henson, right, with Jim Henson and the cast of Sam and Friends, in Washington. Jane Henson died in her Connecticut home on April 2, 2013 after a long battle with cancer. / AP Photo/The Jim Henson Company, Del Ankers

Those are some scary looking muppets, must be the earlier models….but then again, nothing is more frightening than Elmo…especially now that we know what made him laugh like that. (Oooo, that was a little over the top huh?)

Well, my fingers are feeling like they are falling asleep, just think of this as an open thread.