Already starting the second week of 2015 and things just aren’t looking like it is going to be a good year. (I am talking about the crap in Congress and so forth. Which it appears payback is a bitch: Payback? Two GOP Boehner foes kicked off House committee | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC)
So today the links are going to focus on main news items and a few history links.
The images you see are vintage magazine covers from the month of January…some may spark a memory or two…
Let’s start with the news that will be blasted all over the MSM this morning:
“The tail has been found,” Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the rescue agency, known as BASARNAS, told reporters at a news conference, adding that tail numbers were visible on wreckage. Finding the tail is significant because it may contain the plane’s voice and data recorders, or black boxes. Soelistyo said no black boxes have yet been found.
Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, said on Twitter Wednesday that “if right part of tail section then the black box should be there.”
“We need to find all parts soon so we can find all out (sic) guests to ease the pain of our families,” Fernandes said. “That still is our priority.”
They even have pictures of the tail from underwater:
From what the pictures show, it looks like the plane is upside-down.
According to the news in Australia, via the Sydney Morning Herald:
The discovery came within what’s now known as the “second additional area” — a search zone to the west of the original focus area, because strong underwater currents have been sweeping wreckage westwards.
Mr Soelistyo said divers would now be deployed to try to recover the bodies that his agency, Basarnas, is sure are trapped in the wreckage.
A number of bodies were found overnight, bringing the total of those recovered to 40 out of a flight with 162 passengers and crew.
As bodies floating free in the ocean are decaying fast, authorities hope most of the rest of the victims will be capable of being recovered from the four or more large pieces of wreckage believed to be on the ocean floor.
Basarnas and the Indonesian National Transport Safety Committee were now trying to find the black box using the pinger locator.
It also looks like there is some strange suspensions and such taking place. Air Asia is a airline that advertises flights for the average person…with a slogan of “now everyone can fly”…meaning they are not your high dollar air travel carrier. You can read more about their launch into Indonesia/Malaysia with budget flights here Air Asia X to launch UK-Malaysia flights – Telegraph, it is a link to an article from 2008.
The breakthrough came as the government’s crackdown on what it sees as unauthorised flights continues, carrying grave risk for AirAsia’s reputation in Indonesia.
More airport and flight approval officials were suspended for allowing the doomed flight to leave Surabaya on a day (Sunday) that it was not authorised to fly the Singapore route.
The feared Corruption Eradication Commission, KPK, has been deployed to see if there was any corruption involved in that process.
But the government appears to have pulled back on its heavy-handed treatment of domestic AirAsia flight routes.
On Tuesday, airport officials announced that they had banned AirAsia from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport, including three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung.
But the general manager of the airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said that, after the flights were cancelled, some more negotiations led to the suspension being revoked.
“The airline has already been asked for changes, and the permit was just issued for all of those flights,” Mr Trikor said.
The crackdown, followed by the backdown, seems to the be result of over-zealous regulation in an environment that is increasingly unfriendly and difficult for commercial operators in the wake of the crash.
A spokesman for the Transport Ministry, JA Barata, tried to clear up the confusion: “Those whose flying schedule is not in accordance with their permit must be suspended, but if the changes are only about flying time or hour, they should not be suspended,” he told Fairfax Media.
“The respective airlines can simply apply for new flying time to the respective division at Transportation Ministry. This is a regular practice and it is very simply done.”
More on the banned flights here: AirAsia banned from key routes amid government crackdown
AirAsia has been banned from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport as part of a government crackdown on previously unenforced regulations in the wake of the crash of flight QZ8501.
The bans on the flights – three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung – will deal another blow to the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier, which had already been suspended from the Surabaya-Singapore route entirely.It’s part of a broader government crackdown on lax administration of flight permits from Surabaya Airport. The fast-growing Indonesian-owned low cost carrier Lion Air has been stopped from flying nine of its weekly services, and smaller aircraft Trigana and KalStar have also been affected.
The general manager of Indonesia’s airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said he had made the decision because the airlines had changed aspects of their scheduling and so lacked permits to fly some services. He told news portal Detik.com he had, “tightened the rules of the game”.
But the sudden move will cast Indonesia’s teeming aviation industry into disarray, and is likely to mean long delays for passengers as they are transferred to other flights.
The Indonesian government’s regulation of its burgeoning airline industry has been judged one of the worst in the world. The International Civil Aviation Organisation ranks its ability to administer aviation as worse than that in Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
There was another shooting last night, this time at a VA hospital in Texas: Gunman kills doctor, then himself, at VA hospital in El Paso, Texas – CNN.com
One person died Tuesday when a gunman opened fire at the El Paso VA Health Care System in Texas, Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty told reporters.
“The alleged shooter is dead, and we have one casualty. That casualty is deceased. All other VA patients and staff are safe. This is an active crime scene, and the shooting incident is under investigation,” he said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement saying it was saddened by what happened.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with military and civilian authorities at Beaumont Army Medical Center. The safety and continued care of our Veterans and the staff will be our focus throughout this situation,” the statement read.
A Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that a doctor was shot by a gunman, who later died from a self-inflicted wound.
The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. The VA facility will be closed Wednesday.
Of course this violence is in addition to the bomb at the NAACP office in Colorado, Suspect sought after blast near Colorado Springs NAACP office | Al Jazeera America
Authorities are looking for a man who may have information about an explosion set off near the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.
The Tuesday blast outside a barbershop next door to the group’s building caused no injuries, police said. There was only minor damage to the site which is which is about an hour south of Denver.
FBI spokeswoman Amy Sanders says an explosive was detonated against the building, but it’s too soon to know whether it was aimed at the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
She says investigators are looking for a balding white man in his 40s who may be driving a dirty pickup truck.
In other depressing news: Food stamp benefit cut may force a million people into ‘serious hardship’ | Al Jazeera America
I won’t quote that one, you can go and read the thing for yourself…
Now for a few history links, these are from the History News Network website:
Now that the Republican Party―the conservative voice in mainstream U.S. electoral politics―has attained the most thoroughgoing control of Congress that it has enjoyed since 1928, it’s an appropriate time to take a good look at modern conservatism.
Conservatives have performed some useful services for Americans over the course of U.S. history. Alexander Hamilton placed the nation’s financial credit on a much firmer basis during the late eighteenth century. Determined to make knowledge available to all Americans, Andrew Carnegie funded the development of the free U.S. public library system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the early twentieth century, Elihu Root and other conservatives played key roles in the establishment of international law. Also, in the mid-twentieth century, Robert Taft staunchly denounced the peacetime military draft, arguing that it smacked of a totalitarian state.
But, increasingly, modern American conservatism resembles a giant wrecking ball, powered by hate-spewing demagogues to undermine or destroy long-cherished institutions, from the U.S. Post Office (established by Benjamin Franklin in 1775 and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution) to minimum wage laws (which began to appear on the state level in the early twentieth century). Sadly, the rhetoric of modern conservatism―focused on small government, free enterprise, and individual liberty―seems ever more divorced from its behavior. Indeed, conservatism’s rhetoric and its behavior are often quite contradictory.
Is this allegation fair? There certainly seem to be plenty of discrepancies between words and deeds, and conservatives should be asked to explain them. For example:
Go to link and read the 10 questions…
Peter Stearns is a Professor of History and Provost Emeritus at George Mason University. He served as Provost from 2000-2014. This article was the basis for a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New York in January.
I offer here some brief comments on shame, its history, and opportunities in the history of emotion. I’ve been concerned, despite the impressive flurry of work on emotion by historians at major centers that have sprung up in several countries, that we’ve not maintained adequate connections with the other fields that dominate research on emotion, notably psychology and sociology.
We know one key thing about shame and history, thanks particularly to work by John Demos some decades ago. Widely displayed in colonial America, complete with public stocks, it declined in popularity by the mid-nineteenth century. Recent Googlebooks data confirm this, by the way. But after this core discovery, historians have been silent on the emotion.
Not so social scientists, who have been pouring out impressive amounts of work on current patterns of shame, and particularly the emotion’s harmful effects. Whether we’re talking about prisoners, children, or fat people, shame targeting simply makes things worse, causing resentment and sometimes counterproductive reactions.
You know what to do, right?
This month, with little fanfare, Palomares begins its 50th year as “the most radioactive town in Europe.” If you’ve heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island but are unfamiliar with Palomares, you might wonder why. All appear in Time’s top-ten list of the world’s “worst nuclear disasters.” Palomares moreover has been called the worst nuclear weapons accident in history. So why do so few people outside Spain know about it?
So what exactly happened? On 17 January 1966, a US Air Force B-52 collided with its refueling plane, killing seven airmen and dropping four hydrogen bombs. Conventional explosives in two detonated on impact with the earth, blowing them to bits and scattering radioactive plutonium—a mutagen and carcinogen—over the farming town of Palomares, population 2000.
English-language journalists, though late on the scene, rushed their books into print, replicating oversights of the rushed cleanup operation and circulating the myth of a single lost bomb. Pioneering female foreign correspondent Flora Lewis screamed One of Our H-Bombs is Missing, borrowing a title from 50s Red Scare pulp fiction. Likewise demonstrating their national allegiances, British reporter Christopher Morris lamented The Day They Lost the H-Bomb and American science writer Barbara Moran, four decades later, decried The Day We Lost the H-Bomb.
Only New York Times correspondent Tad Szulc pluralized the threat with The Bombs of Palomares. He further measured the relative importance of events. “Although the long spectacular search” for the harmless fourth bomb—at the bottom of the Med for eighty days—“was to overshadow the village’s radioactivity problem in [U.S.] public opinion, the contamination was in reality the most significant” calamity.
So what was of greatest significance in early 1966? In addition to the seven airmen, plus eight more killed in a Palomares supply plane crash, people in Palomares suffered—and still suffer—potentially fatal radioactive exposures. At the time, no was evacuated; no one was officially informed for six weeks. Even then, U.S. Ambassador Angier Duke told the international press corps an unconscionable lie: “This area has gone through no public health hazard of any kind, and no trace whatsoever of radioactivity has ever been found.” Why then were nearly 5000 barrels of hot soil and crops shipped away for burial in South Carolina? Why today is plutonium found throughout the food chain in Palomares? Why is radioactivity evident downwind, in neighboring Villaricos?
See, you need to go and read the rest of those article to find the answers to the questions.
I thought this was another interesting history link for you this morning: Nazi super cows: British farmer forced to destroy half his murderous herd of bio-engineered Heck cows after they try to kill staff – Environment – The Independent
Hey, remember that time capsule that was found in Boston a couple of weeks ago? Time capsule that was in Massachusetts State House is opened – Metro – The Boston Globe
Using a porcupine’s quill, several small pieces of paper, a strip of polyester film, and a small metal pick that resembled a dental tool, Museum of Fine Arts conservator Pam Hatchfield carefully plucked history from a box Tuesday night.
The box was a time capsule, many of its items first placed beneath the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House 220 years ago to mark the start of the building’s construction. The history came in many forms.
There were five neatly folded newspapers, a collection of 23 coins dating as far back as 1652, a medal depicting George Washington, a replica of Colonial records, and a silver plate commemorating the erection of the new State House.
One of the coins in the box, a Pine Tree Shilling, was printed in 1652 for the use of Massachusetts’ colonists, without the knowledge of the British monarchy. Writing about the shilling, historian Mark Peterson tells the story of the colonists’ monetary defiance, which initially went unpunished during the king-less time of Oliver Cromwell. With the Restoration in 1660, Peterson writes, Charles II “demanded a reckoning of the colony’s conduct.” In a “dexterous act of verbal tribute,” the colony’s representative convinced the king that the pine was, instead, a royal oak, “the emblem of the oak which preserved his majesty’s life.” For the moment, Peterson adds, “the bluff succeeded.” Revere and Adams may have chosen to include the shilling as a token of the colony’s early independence.
From history to science:
Some children are more sensitive to their environments, for better and for worse. Now researchers have identified a gene variant that may serve as a marker for these children, who are among society’s most vulnerable. The study found that children from high-risk backgrounds who carried a common gene variant were very likely to develop serious problems as adults, but were also more responsive to treatment.
One of eight new planets spied in distant solar systems has usurped the title of “most Earth-like alien world”, astronomers have said.
All eight were picked out by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope, taking its tally of such “exoplanets” past 1,000.
But only three sit safely within the “habitable zone” of their host star – and one in particular is rocky, like Earth, as well as only slightly warmer.
The find was revealed at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, now in its fifth year of seeking out the shadows of planets circling other stars, has spotted hundreds, and more and more of these other worlds look a lot like Earth — rocky balls only slightly larger than our own home, that with the right doses of starlight and water could turn out to be veritable gardens of microbial Eden.
As the ranks of these planets grow, astronomers are planning the next step in the quest to end cosmic loneliness: gauging which hold the greatest promise for life and what tools will be needed to learn about them.
HAVANA — The signs of the times speak loudly in Cuba, sometimes through their silence.
A 17-hour drive across the heart of the island in a battered burgundy and gray 1956 Ford Fairlane included long stretches in which there was surprisingly little ideology on display, few of the billboards that once trumpeted revolutionary slogans.
“Florida advances through its own effort,” said a sign in the town of that name.
“Quality is respect for the people,” said another.
Another said simply, “Work hard!” — a notion stripped of the ideological imperative that used to complete the thought with phrases like “to defeat imperialism” or “to build socialism.”
Dispatched to Cuba in December after the surprise announcement by President Obama that he would renew full diplomatic relations, I set off on a road trip from Havana, near the west end of the island, to Guantánamo, at the east end.
The mileage chart on my map said the distance was 565 miles. It felt a lot longer sitting on the cream-colored, quilted vinyl seat of the Ford, which had lost a lot of its spring in the years since Fidel Castro swept into power.
The vintage Ford was not part of the original plan.
I think you will enjoy that long read. Pictures too at the link…
Hope everyone stays warm, we are very cold today in Banjoville. The low tonight is 7… So, what are you all reading about today?
Did you hear about the speech John Boehner gave on Tuesday? He was talking to the International Franchise Association. He warned owners of McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and other franchise businesses that Obama’s NLRB is out to destroy them. My goodness! If these one-percenters were forced to pay their employees something approaching a living wage, it would be a nightmare! From The Hill, Boehner warns biz: NLRB is ‘coming right at you’.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), lamenting the rise of “arrogant agencies” he said is threatening the American dream, warned the franchise industry on Tuesday that a politically motivated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is intent on unionizing its workers.
In brief but forceful remarks to the International Franchise Association, Boehner called the NLRB a “political horse,” controlled by Republicans when they occupy the White House and by unions when a Democrat is president.
“They’re going to do everything they can to try to change the rules and try to find a way to organize your businesses,” Boehner told the group.
He cited the NLRB’s recent finding that the McDonald’s corporation has joint-employer status, along with its franchises, over the chain’s thousands of workers.
The designation, if upheld, could force corporate managers to the table in collective bargaining discussions and expose them to claims of labor rights violations from workers at chain stores and businesses.
Horrors! Because everyone knows the American Dream is about a few rich assholes getting richer on the backs of millions of minimum wage workers who can barely feed their families.
But here’s the good part. During his remarks, Boehner complained about the Republican “knuckleheads” he has to deal with as Speaker of the House. The Hill reports:
“On any given day, 16 of my members decide they’re going to go this way, and all the sudden I have nothing,” he said. “You might notice I have a few knuckleheads in my conference.”
As a result, Boehner claims he only has a “paper majority.”
A group of the most conservative Republicans has frequently plagued the Speaker and upended plans for votes, most recently in July when GOP leaders were forced to pull a vote on their bill responding to thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border.
In April, Boehner mocked some members of his conference for being reluctant to vote on immigration reform. “Here’s the attitude: ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,’ ” he said.
Boehner added in his comments on Tuesday that “dealing with Democrats is one thing, dealing with the knuckleheads is another.”
A specialized sort of barometric collapse hit Washington, D.C., last night: a sudden knowledge that the capital’s stocks of Merlot and unfiltered cigarettes had been depleted, and Speaker John Boehner was turning surly. And the target of his abuse, yet again, were the very specimens over whom he attempts to leverage power: the House Republicans conference.
Boehner, speaking to the International Franchise Association (read: people who don’t want to pay their fast-food workers more), described the House majority over which he lords as a “paper majority,” and then went on to label a dissident faction within his conference as “knuckleheads.” ….
Newell mentions Boehner’s complaint about House Republicans who are afraid to vote for an immigration bill (see above in The Hill piece), and an earlier rant by the Speaker from 2012.
“We got some of the smartest people in the country who serve here, and some of the dumbest. We got some of the best people you’d ever meet, and some of the raunchiest. We’ve got ‘em all.”
Why don’t Democrats pull together a bunch of these Boehner quotes and use them in the Midterm campaigns, Newell asks. As for Speaker Boehner,
Why was Boehner insulting members of the House GOP less than two months ahead of an election? Because he’s a strange dude, for starters. Gets his Irish up sometimes, as Paul Ryan would say. But Boehner’s comments were also part of an elaborate pitch to the assembled franchisees to elect more House Republicans this November. He has a “paper majority” in which a few wiseacres can separate themselves from the herd and force the House leadership to pull legislation from the floor. Pity the speaker.
It’s a midterm election cycle in the sixth year of the Obama administration, so the odds are that any new members added to the speaker’s Republican roster this November will be natural fits for the Knucklehead Caucus. The problems Boehner has had (not) moving pieces of legislation these past four years won’t go away, because they’re problems with Boehner’s leadership style. He’s too tentative to threaten the knuckleheads’ committee assignments and access to party campaign cash. He’s abandoned earmarks. And his members know that, except in a handful of cases, his threats to pass legislation with Democratic votes are bluffs. The new knuckleheads will find him just as easy to roll as the previous ones have.
We’ve talked many times here about the differences between liberals and conservatives, and how hard it is for us to understand right-wingers’ thought processes. Well, did you know that liberals and conservatives even smell different?
From The Washington Post, Study: Liberals and conservatives sniff out like-minded mates by body odor.
According to a study published this month in the American Journal of Political Science, people can literally sniff out ideology — and this may explain why so many couples share political beliefs. Or, as the study’s title says, “Assortative Mating on Ideology Could Operate Through Olfactory Cues.”
Researchers led by Brown University political scientist Rose McDermott found that, to a small but significant degree, people prefer the body odor of those who vote as they do.
Previous studies showed long-term mates are more similar when it comes to politics than anything else besides religion. Researchers set out to determine whether this is a purely socially driven phenomenon, or whether biology plays a role.
To test the link between smell and party affiliation, researchers rounded up 146 people aged 18 to 40 from “a large city in the northeast United States.” They used a seven-point scale to determine where they fell on the political spectrum. They sent 21 of these —10 liberals and 11 conservatives — home with fragrance-free soap and shampoo and a gauze pad taped to their armpit. The subjects were told not to smoke, drink, use deodorant or perfume, have sex, eat fragrant foods, sleep with people or pets or linger near strong odors.
They returned the stinky armpit pads 24 hours later. Then 125 participants sniffed the stinky pads, taking a break between whiffs to cleanse their nasal palate with the aroma of peppermint oil. The sniffers, who never saw the people whose smells they were evaluating, then rated the attractiveness of each armpit sample on a 1 to 5 scale.
The subjects found the smell of those more ideologically similar to themselves more attractive than those with opposing views.
Read about the conclusions researchers drew from these results at the WaPo.
How about some archaeology news? German archaeologists have discovered a “long lost Roman fort.” dating to the 1st Century. From Science Daily:
In the course of an educational dig in Gernsheim in the Hessian Ried, archaeologists from Frankfurt University have discovered a long lost Roman fort: A troop unit made up out of approximately 500 soldiers (known as a cohort) was stationed there between 70/80 and 110/120 AD. Over the past weeks, the archaeologists found two V-shaped ditches, typical of this type of fort, and the post holes of a wooden defensive tower as well as other evidence from the time after the fort was abandoned.
An unusually large number of finds were made. This is because the Roman troops dismantled the fort and filled in the ditches when they left. In the process they disposed of a lot of waste, especially in the inner ditch. “A bonanza for us,” according to Prof. Dr. Hans-Markus von Kaenel from the Goethe University Institute of Archaeology. “We filled box after box with shards of fine, coarse and transport ceramics; dating them will allow us to determine when the fort was abandoned with greater accuracy than was possible before.”
Up until now, little was known about Roman Gernsheim, even though findings from the Roman era have been cropping up here since the 19th century. “Previously, the only thing that seemed certain based on the finds was that an important village-like settlement, or “vicus,” must have been located here from the 1st to the 3rd century, comparable with similar villages which have already been shown to have existed in Groß-Gerau, Dieburg or Ladenburg,” explained dig leader Dr. Thomas Maurer. He has been travelling from Frankfurt to South Hessia for years and has published his findings in a large publication about the North Hessian Ried during Roman imperial times.
“It was assumed,” continued Maurer, “that this settlement had to have been based on a fort, since it was customary for the families of the soldiers to live outside the fort in a village-like settlement.” “We really hit the jackpot with this excavation campaign,” said a delighted Prof. Dr. Hans-Markus von Kaenel. “The results are a milestone in reconstructing the history of the Hessian Ried during Roman times.” For almost 20 years now, von Kaenel has been studying this area with the help of his colleagues and students using surveys, digs, material processing and analyses. The results have been published in over 50 articles.
Read the rest at the link.
There was more bad new for the NFL yesterday. Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer (pictured in cuffs at right) was arrested for two domestic violence incidents that happened in July. Dwyer reportedly attacked his wife and caused a bone fracture in one incident, and in the other he threw a shoe at his 18-month old son. He is also charged with preventing his Kayla from calling 911 for help. Fortunately, Kayla immediately took the child and left the state. The New York Daily News reports, Arizona Cardinals shut down running back Jonathan Dwyer over domestic violence charges.
Police said Dwyer hit his wife, causing a fracture. It was not immediately clear if the shoe hit their baby, Jonathan Jr.
Officers went to Dwyer’s home on July 21 after neighbors reported a domestic disturbance. His wife brushed cops off, but later told detectives Dwyer was there when authorities were looking for him, but hid in a bathroom until police left.
The following day, Dwyer snatched a cell phone from his wife’s hand and threw it from the second floor of their home to prevent her from calling the cops, Crump said.
Dwyer is also accused of sending his wife text messages threatening to harm himself if she reported the assaults.
The Cardinals immediately deactivated Dwyer. They really had no choice after what happened with the Vikings and Adrian Peterson.
“We became aware of these allegations this afternoon when notified by Phoenix police and are cooperating fully,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities.”
One local Boston sports station has nominated Dwyer for “biggest asshole in the NFL.” I’ve been listening to the two Boston sports stations and ESPN radio quite a bit, and I’ve been really heartened by the reactions of the male program hosts and callers. One host said yesterday that he had read a parenting book over the weekend. He has never hit his kids, but he was so shocked by Adrian Peterson’s reported behavior that he wanted to know more about good parenting. Another host said that he had been beaten as a child, and for the first time he has begun to understand that his parents abused him.
Also yesterday, attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference in Atlanta with the best friend and the father of Rasheeda Watley, a survivor of abuse by Chicago Bears player Brandon Marshall and called for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to step down. WSB TV Atlanta:
At a news conference Wednesday, Allred detailed the case of Rasheeda Watley, who claimed then-boyfriend Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos had physically abused her….
Allred was joined by Watley’s father and best friend, who both said they reported the abuse to the NFL and Goodell but nothing was done.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of family violence issues has come under fire in recent weeks after a video was released showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee Janay Palmer twice inside the elevator of an Atlantic City casino in February.
Allred said the investigation process is flawed within the NFL organization and it needs to change.
“Our focus is on the process and we want the process to be fair. We want the investigation that is conducted in the future, investigations, of NFL players to afford due process to victims as well as NFL players,” Allred said. “The present process is obviously not fair.”
According to Watley’s father, no one from the NFL even talked to himself, his daughter, or any witnesses of the abuse.
I need to wrap this up, but I want to mention one more article from Bloomberg Businessweek, Roger Goodell at the 50-50 Yard Line. It’s a fairly long read that explains why Goodell’s job is not yet on the line. He has made tons of money for NFL owners, and–let’s face it–money is all they really care about.
So . . . what else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great Thursday!
Well, another storm is hitting here in Banjoville. The weather people are saying we should get a total of 6 to 12 inches of snow when it is all said and done.
Down south things are a lot worse…if you have not seen the big headlines over at Huffington Post or Drudge, take a look at this:
HISTORIC ICE STORM UNFOLDS IN SOUTH...
GEORGIA WARNED: 'CATASTROPHIC'...
SEEN FROM SPACE...
Hundreds of flights cancelled...
Panicked Shoppers Fight Over Food...
Nor'easter Could Be 'Biggest Of Season'...
'Snow Rage' Afflicts Storm-Weary Locals...
Conditions were expected to worsen overnight, with up to an inch of ice predicted in parts of Georgia and central South Carolina.
Two to 6 inches of snow fell in north Georgia on Tuesday, with another 5 to 9 inches expected by Thursday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Darbe.
But Darbe said ice was the bigger worry, with a quarter to three-quarters of an inch expected in the area that includes metropolitan Atlanta.
Officials were quick to make plans for dealing with the weather after being criticized for inadequate preparation before a storm two weeks ago. That storm paralyzed Atlanta area roads and forced more than 11,000 students in Alabama to spend the night at their schools.
Oh you bet your ass they were ready this time…
Ending three years of brinkmanship in which the threat of a devastating default on the nation’s debt was used to wring conservative concessions from President Obama, the House on Tuesday voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, without any conditions.
The vote — 221 to 201 — relied almost entirely on Democrats in the Republican-controlled House to carry the measure and represented the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was not attached to other legislation. Only 28 Republicans voted yes, and only two Democrats voted no.
I guess you could say hell froze over?
Simply by holding the vote, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio effectively ended a three-year Tea Party-inspired era of budget showdowns that had raised the threat of default and government shutdowns, rattled economic confidence and brought serious scrutiny from other nations questioning Washington’s ability to govern. In the process, though, Mr. Boehner also set off a series of reprisals from fellow Republican congressmen and outside groups that showcased the party’s deep internal divisions.
“He gave the president exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want,” said a Republican representative, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who last year unsuccessfully tried to rally enough support to derail Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker. “It’s going to really demoralize the base.”
The NYT article goes on to say it was a victory for the President and the Dems…but considering the shit we have dealt with the last few years, and those poor people who will be dealing with lower food stamp funds, how can that be a victory?
Meanwhile in West Virginia, another spill is causing the citizens grief: ‘Significant’ slurry spill blackens Kanawha creek
More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a “significant spill” from a Patriot Coal processing facility.
Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.
“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill.”
“When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”
That is disgusting. I don’t think the people of West Virginia will ever be able to drink the water again.
For a little laugh, here is my favorite actor of today…I know the reason for the video is not funny, it is disgusting, but of all the other “black actors doing commercials” it is good to see Sammy call the asshole out:
Local TV stations have a reputation for goofy unprofessionalism and quirky hiccups. This segment at KTLA in Los Angeles is something so much worse. Veteran entertainment reporter Sam Rubin begins his interview by asking about Jackson’s Super Bowl commercial, and things get real ugly real quick.
“What Super Bowl commercial?” responds a flabbergasted Jackson. ”See, you’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!” (Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in “The Matrix” for a Kia spot.) “We don’t all look alike!”
He then goes on to list other black actors in commercials, who he is not.
Just as uncomfortable as Rubin’s attempts to brush off the blunder by saying, “Really my big mistake … let’t talk about ‘Robocop,’” are the hoots and howls coming from Rubin’s peers who clearly don’t get how terribly offensive this “mistake” is. Rubin later apologized and claimed he was referring to a commercial for Jackson’s upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Regardless, the incident (and Jackson’s blunt response) is a reminder of Hollywood’s serious race problem that was starkly evident at the Golden Globes.
You can see the look on Jackson’s face at the end, it really does show how tired he is of all the shit.
I noticed yesterday y’all were talking in the comments about books you were reading, I just started to read this one about cuss words as discussed in this link here: Here’s the first recorded instance of the F-word in English
And it’s a monk expressing his displeasure at an abbot. In the margins of a guide to moral conduct. Because of course.
Technically, “fuck” appeared two times before this. In 1500, it was used in a satirical poem to describe some friars. In that case, nothing like “fuck” was actually written out. Instead, the word was hidden in a code. And in 1513, it appeared in a Scottish poem as “fukkit.”
But for English’s first use, we’ve got a dissatisfied 1528 monk. He’s written “O D fuckin abbot.” Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, says this “fuck” could be either literal or metaphorical:
It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.
So, either this monk was recording his abbot’s sex life or he was the first person to be so angry that only “fuck” could convey it’s scope.
Did you all see the big joint news out of New York and Italy? I’ve got a few articles on this mass arrest from both Italian and US sources:
‘Ndrangheta ‘snatching U.S. Cosa Nostra drug trade’ – GazzettaDelSud
Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia, once a poor relation of the Sicilian Mafia, has grown in heft and reach thanks to its dominance of the European cocaine trade and is even muscling in on the drug operations of one of Cosa Nostra’s historic five families in New York, investigators said after a major Italian-FBI bust Tuesday. “This was an important operation because we proved that the power of the ‘Ndrangheta now far surpasses that of Cosa Nostra”, Reggio Calabria prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told ANSA from New York after 26 arrests in a probe into a new drug route from Guyana to Europe via the ‘Ndrangheta-infiltrated Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro.
According to the Gazzetta Del Sud, this ‘Ndrangheta Mafia even used Mexican cartels in a joint venture in their set-up to traffic cocaine.
As for the US side of the take down: Arrests in New York and Italy Thwart Mob Drug Scheme, Authorities Say – NYTimes.com
“They put a hundred grams, two hundred grams in each fish” and “it takes a day to defrost and then it takes a day to take out,” Franco Lupoi said, according to prosecutors who say the conversation was recorded by investigators.
On Tuesday, federal authorities announced the arrests of Mr. Lupoi, the owner of a Brooklyn bakery, and six other people in New York on charges that included narcotics trafficking and money laundering and that were the culmination of a two-year undercover F.B.I. investigation. In Italy, the police announced the arrests of 17 people in connection with the investigation.
What made the case remarkable were not the charges but the defendants’ links to the ’Ndrangheta, the organized crime group based in Calabria that is notorious for kidnappings and for its success importing cocaine into Europe.
More from the LA Times: Italian-U.S. Mafia drug trafficking ring busted, FBI and police say
The FBI and Italian police said they had broken up a global heroin and cocaine trafficking ring Tuesday after stumbling upon a fledgling alliance between a Calabrian Mafia group and associates of New York’s notorious
Twenty-four arrests were made in Italy and the United States after a two-year operation that relied on both wiretaps and an American undercover agent named by investigators as “Jimmy,” who is said to have infiltrated the Gambinos and fooled Italians into believing he was a heroin dealer. Seventeen of the arrests were made in Italy and seven in the United States.
Those arrested in the U.S. were arraigned before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn. The men, some of them suspected of being members of the Gambino and Bonanno “families,” were listed as using various street aliases such as “Lello,” “Freddy,” and “Charlie Pepsi.”
I am sure more information will be coming forward, but…
The coordinated sting halted the planned shipment of more than a ton of cocaine from Latin America to Italy in liquid form, smuggled with help from Mexican cartels in coconut and pineapple cans, law enforcement officials said. They put the street value at $1 billion.
One more link…on the additional discovery of ‘Ndrangheta connections with the Far East heroin trade: Gambino, Bonanno family members held in joint US-Italy anti-mafia raid – CNN.com
Raffaele Grassi, head of the Criminal Unit of the Italian State Police, told reporters that the operation demonstrated that the “‘Ndrangheta is one of the strongest organizations in the world in illegal drug trade.”
He cited its sophisticated network of contacts and its ability to adapt and find new markets, including “expanding beyond Italian borders.”
Grassi said that historically, the Gambino family had had ties with the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. But their involvement in the illegal traffic of heroin, known as the “Pizza Connection,” was dismantled or severely curtailed in the 1980s, he said, and they are now trading mainly cocaine.
The latest operation, according to Grassi and FBI officials, shows that the mafia families of the “new continent” are still seeking and relying on “old country” connections — which is why investigators dubbed the operation “New Bridge.”
According to Grassi, the Italian-American mafia families “need this new bridge to connect and support the traffic of cocaine.”
While the existence of a connection between the Calabrian mafia and U.S. mafia families has been well known, Tuesday’s operation shows its great strength and reach, investigators said.
One of the more alarming discoveries to emerge from the operation was evidence that ‘Ndrangheta has also reached out to the Far East in the heroin trade, another investigator said.
While on the subject of the Mafia, 10 Real-Life Inspirations For Characters In The Godfather – Listverse
It’s one of the immutable laws of nature: You’re channel surfing, and there, between some cooking show and an infomercial, you come upon The Godfather. Even though you own the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD box set with three weeks’ worth of special features, you are glued to that station until the credits roll. And if it’s the first in a Godfather marathon, your day is shot. You’re not moving, except to warm up some frozen lasagna between Godfather 2 and Godfather 3.
The Godfather is a classic of American cinema, and Godfather Part 2 is considered by some an even better movie. This story of the patriarch of a New York crime family, and his son who takes over the “family business,” is largely based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, with director Francis Ford Coppola and Puzo producing new material for the films.
Puzo based many of the characters on the real underworld players he heard about growing up and working in New York City.
That thing about getting stuck watching the trilogy on TV, it is so true…it just happened to my mom and me last week, and it was on one of those channels with the commercials. (So you know how annoying that can be, and how “glued” we were to stick it out for the three full movies.)
In wrapping this post up, I will end with this tune…a perfect finale to a mob focused post. I know that I have used this song before, but what can I say…
If you gonna be a square
You ain’t a gonna go nowhere
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Have a wonderful day, and if you are in the storm’s wake, please stay safe and warm.
And be sure to share with us, what is on your reading list today?
The Woman in Red: Protector of the Uteri, Defender of Vajayjay Rights and Fighter Against the #WarOnWomenPosted: January 22, 2014
I suppose you can guess from the title…it is time for another episode of the Woman in Red. Only this time it will be a little more than a few tweets, lets just say this will be a “full” treatment. Yeah…this time you get a real full blown story!
(As for the morning reads, well…I haven’t really been paying attention to the news lately. Think of this as an open thread and post links to news stories down below in the comments.)
Now…meet Peggy Allen ——->
She is smart as hell, and like you, she knows just what the GOP is up to.
That is a shitload of anti-woman legislation.
Peggy has decided to use her special superpowers for something more than volunteering as an escort at her local Planned Parenthood or spending time blogging and protesting against the GOP’s war on women.
<——— Peggy Allen is The Woman in Red, protector of the Uteri, defender of Vajayjay Rights and fighter against the war on women.
Just this week alone you can see some examples of the shit women have to deal with, and it isn’t just abortion issues…its poverty, birth control, health care and so many other things:
The list goes on and on…and if I kept on posting links to this shit I would never get to the strip.
And what do you know, today is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
The Woman in Red comic is Public Domain, which is fortunate, because that means I can do whatever I want with her. It is lucky too that I found some images and copies of her comics online, otherwise this creative little anti-PLUB comic romp would never have gone further than those few tweets.
As an added bonus, just this morning I found this link to an article by Jessica Valenti: Back The Fuck Up: Protect Women’s Rights by Getting Out of the Way | The Nation
(Original photo: AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
Feminists are constantly on the defensive. Whether it’s fighting back against sexist media depictions of women, working to hold ground on reproductive rights or arguing that rape is an actual thing that really happens—feminism’s fights are largely reactionary. In the wake of the Supreme Court fight over buffer zones, it occurs to me that we need something a bit more proactive to protect women and their rights. So I’d like to suggest that we implement a national call—a feminist addendum in the social contract—for people to Back The Fuck Up.
Read Jessica’s piece…I think it goes perfectly with our supershero, The Woman in Red, and I think Jessica’s idea kicks ass!
So without any more waiting or whatever, here is….
It’s an open thread!
Uh, this post will be a quick one. I have another staph infection and the dermatologist cut deep this time, so I really do not feel good at all! (I will try and stop by later, but I may just be too dang tired or hurt to get online.)
First we will start with some links that will probably enrage you, like they did me. Sorry if these stories are repeats, I am writing this post blind…not having read up on the blog or the comments.
Hey, check this out…in my state of Georgia: Man’s Family Says They Called 911 For Paramedics, But Police Showed Up And Shot Him Instead
A 911 call for medical assistance ended in the fatal shooting of Georgia resident Jack Lamar Roberson Friday. Roberson was acting erratically after possibly overdosing on his diabetes medication, leading his fiancé to call for paramedics and an ambulance. Instead, Roberson’s family charges that police showed up and killed the 43-year-old in front of his mother, fiancé, and 8-year-old daughter.
Waycross Police said they were responding to reports of a man trying to commit suicide and that he had become combative. Police Chief Tony Tanner said Roberson lunged at officers with weapons and refused to drop them.
Roberson’s fiancé, Alicia Herron, disputes the police story, comparing the scene to a “silent movie.”
“He didn’t have nothing in his hands at any time or period at all before they came, any time while they were here, anything. They just came in and shot him,” Herron told First Coast News. “He didn’t say nothing, the police didn’t say nothing, anything, it was like a silent movie. You couldn’t hear anything, all you could hear were the gun shots go off and I seen them going into his body and he just fell down.”
Roberson’s mother, Diane, lamented, “I saw my son go down with his hands up in the air, Lord Jesus, he had nothing in his in hands, we don’t even own a decent kitchen knife and they shot my baby down.”
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution the GBI is investigating the man’s death..and the officers have been placed on standard administrative leave. Supposedly an overdose of diabetic medication can bring about the side effects that Roberson was exhibiting, from the TPM link above:
An autopsy was performed Monday, but results have not yet been released. If Roberson did indeed overdose on his diabetes medication, he may well have been experiencing the tell-tale symptoms of intense anxiety and a general sense of confusion.
Such a sad ending…where the hell do these cops get their training?
So, you may have heard about this other story out of Georgia…I read about it early yesterday morning on the North Georgia Access site...but it was only a quick blurb, Huffpo has more here:
An email shared among the members of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity at Georgia Tech was quickly condemned Monday after it began spreading online.
The email, with a subject line of “Luring your Rapebait,” was posted online by TotalFratMove Monday, and in turn picked up by several other websites. It was apparently an attempt by an active member of Phi Kappa Tau to explain how members of the house could get laid at parties:
Ok, if it is before midnight … A group of girls is standing around, grab a bro or pledge bro and go talk to them. First, introduce yourself and get their name, ask if they are having a good time, and then ask if they want anything to drink. If they say yes, walk them to the bar and tell them what we have to drink. If they say no and they look like they are in a sorority, ask them if they are in a sorority (DUH). If not, choose one of the following: where are you living, where are you from, have you been here before, how are classes going, or where all have you been tonight. Then proceed to have a conversation. IF THEY ARE HAMMERED AT ANY POINT BEFORE MIDNIGHT, JUST SKIP THE CHIT CHAT AND GO DANCE.
The email’s author is apparently really excited about the prospect of dancing, and a couple paragraphs later he explains dancing to him is essentially just having a lady grind against a brother’s crotch. Then he instructs how to “escalate”:
Try to twist her hips around to face you and dance front to front. FROM THERE THE OPTIONS ARE UNLIMITED! You can make-out with her (tongue on tongue), you can stick your hand up her shirt (not right away though), you can go for a butt grab (outside or inside the shirts), or use your imagination. ALWAYS START WITH THE MAKING OUT!!!! NO RAPING.
The writer lays out what he calls “the 7 E’s of HOOKING UP!” They include “Encounter,” “Engage,” “Escalate,” some words describing male arousal, and then “Expunge (send them out of your room and on their way out when you are finished. [sic].” He concludes, in all capital letters, “IF ANYTHING EVER FAILS, GO GET MORE ALCOHOL.”
(Read the whole email at TFM.)
Georgia Tech has known about these emails for a couple of weeks now, but they will not comment on the matter. You can read more at the link.
There is another Fraternity email “discovery” this time its Dartmouth: Dartmouth’s Most Wholesome Frat Bros Send The Classiest Emails
For about a year, the brothers of Dartmouth College’s Beta Alpha Omega—the straight-laced fraternity that famously hosted Rick Perry after a Republican debate in October 2011—have corresponded about house debauchery, fraternity rituals, and other key topics using Google Groups, apparently to avoid using Dartmouth’s own servers (and the eyes of college administrators).
We recently discovered that whoever set it up forgot to lock it down, enabling anyone to find a complete, updating archive of Beta’s internal conversations on Groups.google.com. We’ve dug up the choicest excerpts below.
(Update: The Google group is now locked. We’ve uploaded an archive of the emails mentioned here to DocumentCloud.)
I guess you can imagine where this is going?
Nothing here is particularly shocking. Within the fraternity system, this is how bros bond. But it’s a bit less funny when your house is under suspicion for supplying alcohol to a rapist.
We came across the list-serv while researching Beta’s involvement in a sexual assault that took place on Dartmouth’s campus. On Saturday the house threw a rager at its Hanover, New Hampshire mansion, where, according to a college-wide email, brothers served a male guest and Navy sailor who later that night allegedly raped a female student.
In an email sent to brothers on Sunday afternoon, the chapter’s president warns:
I hope you all saw this email from earlier this afternoon. If ANYONE has any information about this, or knows anyone who might, please let me know asap. This could very quickly get very bad for the house if we do not get on top of it.
The concern (albeit for the house’s reputation, rather than the victim’s safety) is understandable: The fraternity was kicked off campus in 1996 after a series of violent/homophobic/sexist incidents involving pledges and other fraternities, and is rumored to have installed hidden cameras throughout the house for the purpose of watching other brothers copulate with sorority sisters. (Perhaps the progenitor, in a much more extreme form, of the house’s taste for creepshots.)
You can read the rest of the disgusting “stuff” at the link…it makes me think about the story in the New York Times, where young college women are looking for this kind of hook-up. Remember that?
More twisted shit…from the politicians this time: The Latest Voter Suppression Fad: Two Tiers
Remember this phrase: two-tier voting. You may be hearing more about it.
Officials in Arizona and Kansas are making preparations for elections with two categories of voters. There will be those who provided proof of citizenship when they registered to vote, and will therefore be able to vote in all local, state, and federal elections. And then there will be those who did not provide proof of citizenship when they registered. Those people will only be able to vote in federal contests — if at all.
In both states, the preparations underway are reactions to the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, the legal battle over Arizona’s 2004 voter identification law, known as Proposition 200. While the headlines in June painted the ruling as a blow to Proposition 200, officials in both Arizona and Kansas have chosen to focus on the leeway the Supreme Court left them. Kansas State Election Director Brad Bryant laid out the argument in an email he sent to county election officers at the end of July.
“As the Supreme Court made clear, its decision applies only to ‘federal registration forms’ and covers only federal elections,” Bryant wrote, according to a copy of the email provided to TPM. “States remain free to require proof of citizenship from voters who seek to also vote in state elections.”
Using that logic, both states have made moves toward two-tier systems.
More at the link…you can read about how this new system is going into effect in Kansas.
I guess you can see the rest will be in link dump format.
Then you have this nut, from Arizona: GOP Lawmaker: National Park ‘Thugs’ Carrying Out Work of ‘De Fuhrer’
Brenda Barton, a Republican state representative in Arizona, took to her Facebook page Monday evening (possibly because her own website is down) to decry the National Park “thugs” who were “carrying out the order of de Fuhrer”:
Barton was upset over the closure of the World War II Memorial and other national parks, shuttered last week due to the ongoing government shutdown. The Arizona lawmaker called upon local pair-having sheriffs to intervene and prevent the park rangers from arresting visitors.
Barton wasn’t finished, either, going on to call Obama “this man in the People’s House” and an “Imperial President”:
Arizona Democrats were quick to point out the irony of Barton’s objection to the closures, as it was her party that precipitated the shutdown.
Geez, what an idiot! Wait, check that…batshit right wing lunatic! But I mean what do you expect right? Arizona is The only state that stopped welfare payments.
Now a look at what judges can do: Can a Teen Get an Abortion if She Doesn’t Have Parents to Give Consent? That’s Up to the Judge | Care2 Causes
Or a government website? Problems with Healthcare.gov Likely More Than Just Traffic | Geekosystem
Speaking of which, I am sure you’ve seen this from a couple of nights ago: Stewart Grills Sebelius on Obamacare: ‘Level of Incompetence That’s Larger Than What It Should Be’ | Mediaite
I have to add a few cartoons to this post, they are too good to put off until Friday.
Seriously…it may be a joke, but it seems like the truth to me: Headline of the Day | BobCesca.com
Here’s something you won’t see every day or even every generation.
I have no idea how something so depressing can be so funny, but I’m laughing.
Here’s the context of the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.
Voters say they have a higher opinion of hemorrhoids than Congress, by 53% to 31%.
Yup, I’m laughing too…
Finally, tonight is the South Park episode that tackles George Zimmerman. Go to that link to see the clip to the show, also check out a link to a script written by a fan a few months ago, it actually is pretty sweet.
From the clip it looks like Cartman is dressed like Brad Pitt from World War Z…guess we will just have to wait and see what Trey and Matt come up with later tonight.
Okay, what ever happens today…I hope you all talk about it in the comments. So, what are you reading and thinking about this morning…afternoon…or evening?
I’ve made plans to go to Seattle next month again to stay with my dad and hope that I can also spend time looking for the possibility of a job since my daughter is joining a small ob/gyn practice about an hour north of Seattle. It’s hard not to long for the safety of a blue state given what’s been going on recently and given the conversations that I have with people that safely dwell in the Faux News Reality of Welfare Queens, Pedophile Gays, Scary Black People in Hoodies, and Invading Mexicans. I’ve been in a long Facebook conversation trying to explain the Affordable Care Act details and why the exchanges are not “government-backed” insurance until I’m blue in the face. No amount of numbers convinces them that all the jobs are not becoming part time. I was just told I obviously don’t have common sense if I don’t see the Affordable Care Act as a giant give away to lazy poor people even though I’ve tried to explain that Medicaid still exists and it still is the plan for poor people. There just exists this ever deepening divide between the realities of Red and Blue States. Did Nixon’s Southern Strategy doom our Democracy?
In a merciful twist of fate, Juan Linz did not quite live to see his prophecy of the demise of American democracy borne out. Linz, the Spanish political scientist who died last week, argued that the presidential system, with its separate elections for legislature and chief executive, was inherently unstable. In a famous 1990 essay, Linz observed, “All such systems are based on dual democratic legitimacy: No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature about which of the two actually represents the will of the people.” Presidential systems veered ultimately toward collapse everywhere they were tried, as legislators and executives vied for supremacy. There was only one notable exception: the United States of America.
Linz attributed our puzzling, anomalous stability to “the uniquely diffuse character of American political parties.” The Republicans had loads of moderates, and conservative whites in the South still clung to the Democratic Party. At the time he wrote that, the two parties were already sorting themselves into more ideologically pure versions, leaving us where we stand today: with one racially and economically polyglot party of center-left technocracy and one ethnically homogenous reactionary party. The latter is currently attempting to impose its program by threat upon the former. The events in Washington have given us a peek into the Linzian nightmare.
Traditionally, when American politics encountered the problem of divided government—when, say, Nixon and Eisenhower encountered Democratic Congresses, or Bill Clinton a Republican one—one of two things happened. Either both sides found enough incentives to work together despite their differences, or there was what we used to recognize as the only alternative: gridlock. Gridlock is what most of us expected after the last election produced a Democratic president and Republican House. Washington would drudge on; it would be hard to get anything done, but also hard to undo anything. Days after the election, John Boehner, no doubt anticipating things would carry on as always, said, “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
Instead, to the slowly unfolding horror of the Obama administration and even some segments of the Republican Party, the GOP decided that the alternative to finding common ground with the president did not have to be mere gridlock. It could force the president to enact its agenda.
It used to be that elections came with the usual majority rules ramifications. This current group of Tea Party insurrectionists evidently has changed that equation. The question now is what can we do about it?
And as the saying goes, elections have consequences. It’s how Democratic victories in the 1930s paved the way for Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, how Dem victories in the 1960s led to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, how Republican victories in the 1980s resulted in Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, how Democratic majorities in 2006 and 2008 led to Obama’s health-care law, and how the GOP’s midterm wins in 2010 extracted spending-cut concessions from Obama the following year.
Yet what’s extraordinary about this current political fight is that Republicans are seeking another round of concessions — over the president’s signature domestic achievement — after losing the last election, which was viewed in part as a referendum on the health-care law.
“It’s as if Ted Cruz slept through the entire 2012 cycle,” a senior Democratic aide tells First Read. “It’s not like Obamacare, spending and debt weren’t major issues in 2012. They were central — and we won.”
Nevertheless, Cruz and House Republicans maintain that Obama and the Democrats must negotiate over the health-care law to re-open the federal government. And House Speaker John Boehnersays Democrats must negotiate to raise the debt ceiling. “The nation’s credit is at risk because of the administration’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation,” he told ABC News. “The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”
I found that Boehner comment about the lack of votes to be really strange given that he seems to think that the Democrats in the House and their votes do not matter. What exactly is the conversation and why should the rest of the country have it when we thought we decided that about a year ago during the election? Why is Boehner willing to weaponize the debt ceiling again? (This is the same Jonathan Chait article I referenced above.)
The debt ceiling turns out to be unexploded ordnance lying around the American form of government. Only custom or moral compunction stops the opposition party from using it to nullify the president’s powers, or, for that matter, the president from using it to nullify Congress’s. (Obama could, theoretically, threaten to veto a debt ceiling hike unless Congress attaches it to the creation of single-payer health insurance.) To weaponize the debt ceiling, you must be willing to inflict harm on millions of innocent people. It is a shockingly powerful self-destruct button built into our very system of government, but only useful for the most ideologically hardened or borderline sociopathic. But it turns out to be the perfect tool for the contemporary GOP: a party large enough to control a chamber of Congress yet too small to win the presidency, and infused with a dangerous, millenarian combination of overheated Randian paranoia and fully justified fear of adverse demographic trends. The only thing that limits the debt ceiling’s potency at the moment is the widespread suspicion that Boehner is too old school, too lacking in the Leninist will to power that fires his newer co-partisans, to actually carry out his threat. (He has suggested as much to some colleagues in private.) Boehner himself is thus the one weak link in the House Republicans’ ability to carry out a kind of rolling coup against the Obama administration. Unfortunately, Boehner’s control of his chamber is tenuous enough that, like the ailing monarch of a crumbling regime, it’s impossible to strike an agreement with him in full security it will be carried out.
The standoff embroiling Washington represents far more than the specifics of the demands on the table, or even the prospect of economic calamity. It is an incipient constitutional crisis. Obama foolishly set the precedent in 2011 that he would let Congress jack him up for a debt-ceiling hike. He now has to crush the practice completely, lest it become ritualized. Obama not only must refuse to trade concessions for a debt-ceiling hike; he has to make it clear that he will endure default before he submits to ransom. To pay a ransom now, even a tiny one, would ensure an endless succession of debt-ceiling ransoms until, eventually, the two sides fail to agree on the correct size of the ransom and default follows.
This is a domestic Cuban Missile Crisis
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday said changes to President Obama’s signature healthcare law should be tied to a debt ceiling increase.
The Texas Republican said any deal on raising the nation’s borrowing authority should include some “significant structural” plans to reduce government spending, avoid new taxes and “look for ways to mitigate the harm from ObamaCare.”
“The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Of the 55 times Congress has raised the debt limit, Cruz argued that 28 of those times Congress has attached “very stringent requirements,” many designed to reduce spending, including the 2011 sequestration plan.
So, a debt-ceiling increase should “respond to real harms coming from ObamaCare,” Cruz said.
Cruz said Republicans have leverage because of “so many nasty partisan jabs from Democrats” proving that “we’re winning the argument —Obamacare isn’t working.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reiterated on Sunday that the federal government will run out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17.
And the world thinks we’ve completely lost it. Here’s a taste of the German press as excerpted by Der Spiegel.
Munich’s national Süddeutsche Zeitung offers a slightly more depressing take, pointing blame at all sides. “What has already been apparent in America for a few years now is the self-destruction of one of the world’s oldest democracies. And the great tragedy here is that this work of destruction isn’t being wrought by enemies of democracy, greedy lobbyists or sinister major party donors. America’s democracy is bring broken by the very people who are supposed to be carry and preserve it: the voters, the parties and the politicians.”
The argument? The Republicans who have brought Washington to stillstand are repeatedly and democratically elected by voters and given a mandate to block. The parties themselves are fomenting an increasingly radicalized culture that deepens political, societal and geographic divisions in the country, argues the newspaper. And finally, there are few politicians in America who are willing or capable of thinking beyond their own electoral constituencies.
“At the moment, Washington is fighting over the budget and nobody knows if the county will still be solvent in three weeks,” the paper concludes. “What is clear, though, is that America is already politically bankrupt.”
America enjoys the “exorbitant privilege” of printing the world’s reserve currency. Its government debt is considered a safe haven, which is why Uncle Sam can borrow so much, so cheaply. America will not lose these advantages overnight. But anything that undermines its creditworthiness—as the farce in Washington surely does—risks causing untold damage in the future. It is not just that America would have to pay more to borrow. The repercussions of an American default would be both global and unpredictable.
It would threaten financial markets. Since American Treasuries are very liquid and safe, they are widely used as collateral. They are more than 30% of the collateral that financial institutions such as investment banks use to borrow in the $2 trillion “tri-party repo” market, a source of overnight funding. A default could trigger demands by lenders for more or different collateral; that might cause a financial heart attack like the one prompted by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. In short, even if Obamacare were as bad as tea-party types say it is (see Lexington), it would still be reckless to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to repeal it, as some Republicans suggest.
What can be done? In the short term, House Republicans need to get their priorities straight. They should pass a clean budget resolution without trying to refight old battles over Obamacare. They should also vote to raise the debt ceiling (or better yet, abolish it). If Obamacare really does turn out to be a flop and Republicans win the presidency and the Senate in 2016, they can repeal it through the normal legislative process.
So how did it get to this point? “Its fear-driven behavior,” says Voss. “They get angrier because they feel they’ve been defeated. People notice losses twice as much as they notice wins. It’s a sports metaphor you hear all the time: ‘I hate losing more than I like winning’…I think there’s a very strong sense of loss on their part over what they refer to as Obamacare and resentment over that is carried forward.”
But hostage negotiators aren’t the type to give up hope. “Ultimately, everybody wants success. And there are a lot of definitions of success,” Voss says. “Bottom line, they want to be made to look like they were effective and got things done for their side. So it’s a matter of refocusing on what’s in everybody’s best interests.”
He’s looking to the Obama White House to help start the reset: “I would ask them to start saying, ‘I understand that the people on the other side of the table have the best interests of the American people at heart.’ Simply recognize that. Everybody wants to do what’s best for the American public. Those sorts of statements repeated on a regular basis, it’s the start of dialogue. It’s not concession; it’s the beginning of dialogue.”
But the prison siege mentality Voss describes is exacerbated by an absence of strong calming leadership in the congressional GOP. “Those guys are sitting on the sidelines,” Voss says. “There are quite a few Republican politicians that I have a tremendous amount of respect for that are exceedingly silent these days.” He mentions House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers: “I’ve never heard anything out of Mike’s mouth that wasn’t really thoughtful and nuanced.”
Another possible constructive calming voice on the conservative caucus could be former President George W. Bush. “I think there’s a possibility that he would be somebody that you would talk to behind the scenes, and potentially an intermediary himself. I think he absolutely has the ability to be a stabilizing influence.”
But how to do you deal with the hyper-partisan congressional bomb-throwers? “Well it’s like a game of tic-tac-toe with the tantrum throwers,” Voss says. “In tic-tac-toe, if you’re going second, the best you can possibly do is tie—if you play the game. There’s a first-mover advantage. The minute you stop playing that game the first mover advantage goes away. So you don’t play their game at all. That’s the way you respond.”
So, the craziness continues and escalates. If things come apart at the seams, I do not want to be stuck in Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana.
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