Sunday: V-J Day, Goodbye Kisses, Working Women and Warning Signs

54178c4d97b3668cb079ff3c12ef35d8Good Morning

I think it will be safe to say that today’s post is retro, super retro. And I really do not have all the space I need to post all the historic pictures I would like to post…so there will be links to other pages/galleries, and you must spend some time looking through the fascinating images.

Like the one to the right ———–>

Look at the expression on that woman’s face, if she could slam that thermos up-side the guy’s stupid head she would…but she appears too damn tired of hearing the kind of shit he is saying to even bother replying to the asshole.

At least the tag line on the bottom of the poster got it right:

America’s Women Have Met the Test!

Too bad that opinion did not last when the boys came back home.

cab40a4e5ea83e324782208ec2734216I often wonder what would have happened if the Republican push to get women and their views on politics back in the kitchen was not as successful as it was during the 5o’s…can you imagine?

Anyway, this may seem a little familiar to my post from Wednesday, but there is a reason for this opening thought:

You must have heard that the sailor in one of the most iconic pictures of World War II died last week…V-J Day, 1945: A Nation Lets Loose | LIFE.com

Glenn McDuffie, a Navy veteran who long claimed to be the sailor photographed kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J day — and whose claim was reportedly backed up by a police forensic artist — has died. He was 86 years old. (LIFE magazine — in which the now-iconic Alfred Eisenstaedt photo first appeared — never officially identified either the sailor or the nurse.)

01_00141661Made almost 70 years ago, it remains one of the most famous photographs — perhaps the most famous photograph — of the 20th century: a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day in August 1945.

That simple, straightforward description of the scene, however, hardly begins to capture not only the spontaneity, energy and sheer exuberance shining from Alfred Eisentaedt’s photograph, but the significance of the picture as a kind of cultural — indeed a totemic — artifact.

15_05531421“V-J Day in Times Square” is not merely the one image that captures what it felt like in America when it was finally announced, after a half-decade of global conflict, that Japan had surrendered and that the War in the Pacific — and thus the Second World War itself — was effectively ended. Instead, for countless people, Eisentaedt’s photograph captures at least part of what the people of a nation at war experience when war, any war, is over.

Glenn Edward McDuffie, who long claimed to be sailor in iconic Times Square  ‘kiss’ photo at end of WWII, dies  – NY Daily News

McDuffie, who passed away Sunday in Texas, had said he was motivated to randomly kiss the pretty nurse on the day Japan surrendered because it meant his brother would be getting released from a Japanese prison campTimes Square V-J Day Kiss

The Texas man who made headlines for his repeated claims to being the sailor who randomly kissed a woman in Times Square, leading to one of the most iconic photographic images of World War II, has died.

Glenn Edward McDuffie passed away at age 86 on Sunday in Texas after suffering a heart attack at a casino earlier in the day, his daughter told the Daily News.

McDuffie claimed for years he was the strapping sailor who planted one on the lips of the swooning woman on August 14, 1945. He said it was a spontaneous act of unbridled euphoria sparked by the announcement of Japan’s surrender.

The Life magazine photographer who took the famed shot, Alfred Eisenstaedt, did not record the names of the subjects, and many people have claimed to be the mysterious sailor. In 2007 noted forensic artist Lois Gibson, who works for the Houston Police Department, said she positively identified McDuffie as the sailor. Her technique was to take numerous pictures of the older McDuffie and overlay them over the original. By doing so she said she compared the sailor’s muscles, ears and other features to McDuffie’s, and found them to be a match.

Take a look at the rest of that NY Daily News piece, it has later pictures of McDuffie along with some photos of him when he was young…and other older interview quotes as well.

But back to the Life Magazine link for a little more:

…two small but significant pieces of information related to Eisenstaedt’s rightfully famous “Kiss in Times Square” might come — especially when taken together — as a real surprise to fans of both photography and of LIFE magazine in general.

First, contrary to what countless people have long believed, the photo of the sailor kissing the nurse did not appear on the cover of LIFE. It did warrant a full page of its own inside the magazine (page 27 of the August 27, 1945, issue, to be exact) but was part of a larger, multi-page feature titled, simply, “Victory Celebrations.”

Closely tied to that first point is the fact that while the conclusion of the Second World War might be something LIFE magazine, of all publications, could be expected to feature on its cover for weeks on end, the magazine’s editors clearly had other ideas. post_1267972In fact, not only did Eisensteadt’s Times Square photo not make the cover of the August 27th issue; no image related to the war, or the peace, graced the cover. Instead the magazine carried a striking photograph of a ballet dancer.

An underwater ballet dancer.

War is over! that cover seems to say.

After years of brutal, global slaughter, our lives — in all their frivolous, mysterious beauty — can finally begin again.

Amen to that.

Some of the pictures in that Life Magazine’s gallery are beautiful, they have published pictures that were not published in the original 1945 piece. Like this one below, of the V-J Day reaction in Hollywood:

11_00267533

I love that woman’s shoes! This article also is connected to another WWII era gallery at Life, Fighting Words: World War II Battlefield Signs | LIFE.com

00600729.JPGThe universe is made of stories, not of atoms,” the American poet Muriel Rukeyser once wrote, and more and more, as time goes by, that sounds about right.

But what if paying strict heed to every written word that one saw every single day meant the difference between survival and annihilation? What if the misreading of a sign on an unfamiliar road, for example, meant not the inconvenience of a missed turn, but a sudden, violent death?

Take your Atabrine, an anti-malaria drug. Sign was put up at the 363rd station hospital in Papua, New Guinea during WWII

Take your Atabrine, an anti-malaria drug. Sign was put up at the 363rd station hospital in Papua, New Guinea during WWII

Here, LIFE.com takes a look at some of the countless signs that troops encountered during the course of World War II, from the islands of the Pacific to the deserts of North Africa to the ruined cities of Europe. Official warnings; adamant instructions; wry, handwritten inside jokes — all of them silent reminders of a conflict that, until the very end, dished out one paramount, universal command: Pay attention!

So again, check that link out along with the following:

d5eb019a959d5f074b8a7121137129eeWWII Signs on Pinterest

Women in WWII on Pinterest

Alfred Eisenstaedt Life Photographer on Pinterest

WWII on Pinterest

On the Job in WWII – Rosie and Friends. on Pinterest

This last board has some posters from WWI as well:

Vintage Ads, Billboards, Signs, Posters on Pinterest

Here are your newsy links for today, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Overpriced GOP-Head Pumps and When No Means Yes

052c36fbc9a1863be6e9eb834c46544eGood Morning

What a crappy few days it has been… such terrible stories in the news lately. Yeah…text messages, popcorn, penis pumps, poor dead children, (that should be dead poor children), rich GOP dead-beat dads, murdering cops, and judge’s decisions. Oh boy, and let me tell you, things are Fukushima’d up!

Let’s start with Fukushima:  The Nuclear Disaster That Won’t Go Away

On New Year’s Day (nearly three years after the initial incident) operators of the Fukushima plant reported that “plumes of most probably radioactive steam” had been seen rising from the reactor 3 building. According to RT.com, “the Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.” Unfortunately, high levels of radiation inside the building make it nearly impossible to determine the source of the mystery steam. Although TEPCO, the plant’s operator, claims there’s no increased danger (small comfort from the people who admitted to the world that they have no control over the situation), most agree that the plant is just seconds away from another disaster.

4d45ce57c4dea24d3eef37127cf2d5e3Meanwhile, here in the US, another meltdown has been brewing. A fire arm meltdown.

The latest on the Shooting down in Tampa: Profiles Of Man Allegedly Shot For Texting And His Suspected Killer

They say the gun jammed when the killer tried to shoot a second time. Who the fuck was he going to shoot the wife of the man he just killed?

After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that’s when he removed a .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he “was in fear of being attacked.”

The sheriff said at a news conference that Reeves’ son — who was off duty from his job as a Tampa officer — was walking into the theater when the shooting happened. Nocco said Reeves briefly struggled with an off-duty deputy but released the weapon. The gun was jammed and unable to fire again.

I want to know where Reeves went and who he talked to and what was said…what was the son doing there just as the shooting occurred? The management probably to Reeves to move to another seat, I mean how ridiculous was his complaint. It was the damn previews.

Devon Detrapani and her husband Joseph were friends with the Oulsons and that the men worked together at Sky Powersports, a motorcycle and off road vehicle dealer.

Chad Oulson was the company’s finance manager and a hard worker, Detrapani said. He rode dirt bikes on the weekend and “liked” several motocross stars on Facebook, but his true love was his baby daughter, Lexi.

“They are awesome parents,” said Devon Detrapani. “They love that little girl so much.”

Detrapani said that Oulson was texting with his daughter’s daycare on the afternoon he was shot. She said that Oulson was a kind man with no anger issues.

“He is a very nice guy,” she said. “He would give the shirt off his back to help someone.”

Oulson had Monday off and his wife, Nicole, worked at USAA Insurance and took the day off so they could go to the movies together.

Detrapani said she and her husband, who attended kids’ birthday parties with the Oulsons, are in shock.

“This does not make sense. I don’t understand,” she said. “It should have never happened. Now poor Lexi has to grow up without a daddy and Nicole doesn’t have a husband.”

And…on that shooting in New Mexico:

Officials: Boy opens fire in New Mexico middle school gym, wounding 2 – CNN.com

A 12-year-old boy entered his middle school gym, pulled a shotgun out of a bag and opened fire on students waiting for school to start Tuesday, wounding two, authorities in Roswell, New Mexico, said.

A girl, 13, was in stable condition Tuesday night following surgery, authorities said. A boy, 11, was in critical condition after surgery.

The bloodshed rattled students and other citizens of Roswell, a city of just under 50,000 people 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque. Monique Salcido, a Berrendo Middle School student who saw two of her friends get shot, admitted she is “in shock.”

“I don’t want to go to Berrendo again because of what happened,” she told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “Because I’m afraid it’s going to happen again.”

The horror might have been much worse if not for one staff member. “(He) walked right up to him and asked him to put down the firearm,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

For some thoughts on this, Charlie Pierce: Gun Shootings January 14, 2014 – Two Days In Gun America

As it happens, I’m sitting in a hotel room a few exits east up I84 from the town of Newtown in Connecticut, where a crazy man named Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 26 people including 21 children. In the immediate aftermath, it was decided by elite opinion leaders that the country had reached a Teachable Moment in its insane attachment to its firearms. And this is what we’ve learned — people are coming to get our guns and we must buy more and better and bigger guns and carry them everywhere so that we can fight off the gun-grabbers and the insane people who we still must allow to have guns because the Second Amendment has no exception for insane people and therefore freedom.

That’s what we’ve learned.

And, in the past couple of days, we’ve had a school shooting in New Mexico, the killing of a man in a movie theater for the crime of texting his daughter, and a Republican group in Oregon which thought the best way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln was to raffle off a rifle. I mean, why not? Only one of those two guys was murdered with one.

It doesn’t end there. News of the acquittal of cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death is another nugget of shit from the past two days that has pissed me off and Digby has some good coverage of the story here: Hullabaloo

So they found the police not guilty of a crime in the torture and beating death of Kelly Thomas. I haven’t heard what the jury thought they were doing but the defense was based upon the idea that the officers were fighting for their lives.

Take a look at the victim after the beating he endured…

Go…go and look at it and read the rest. I could not bear to put the picture up on the post it is that graphic and disturbing.

204957f815870cda4a0013d51e8d4051I’ve got a few more stories on court rulings for you:

Federal court throws out net neutrality rules | Al Jazeera America

A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out rules from the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, that required Internet service providers to treat all Internet traffic equally, a principle known as “net neutrality.”

The decision in the case, which pitted telecommunications giant Verizon against the FCC’s Open Internet rules, might open the door for ISPs to charge major companies like Google or Facebook for speedier access to content, edging out smaller content providers.

This next one really takes the fucking cake: Judge Rules That ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’

57ca7c68eb6ae6e0777e9a5aa906aabeLast week, a Swedish judge ruled that a man who proceeded to have sexual intercourse with a woman who was screaming “NO” so loudly that she went hoarse was not guilty of rape. People were understandably upset. And so, today, the judge wrote an op-ed clarifying that what he MEANT was that rape really depends on whether or not the rapist feels like they’re raping someone. Much better!

The case that’s causing forehead slaps across Sweden involves a 27-year-old woman who met a man at a restaurant and invited him back to her home accompanied him back to his home. After some consensual kissing, the man attempted to push for other sex acts, which the woman declined. The man proceeded to have sex with her, anyway, as she screamed “NO” loudly enough for the neighbors to hear. Which, you know, is rape. Pretty obviously rape.

Hmmm…..of course, you know…no means not no.

Lund district court judge Ralf G. Larsson, who listened sympathetically to the rapist’s claim that he didn’t think the woman actually meant that “NO” (which she was yelling); rather, she meant YES, which is a common synonym for NO. The woman countered that she most certainly did not mean YES, as she was screaming NO, but the judge ruled that because the rapist doesn’t know what NO means and thought that his victim was kind of into it, that thing he was doing to her as she was yelling NO, no rape was committed.

Today, he explained his big strong man judge logic with an op ed column that was both condescending and idiotic. Larsson wrote,

If the thought had not occurred to him, that she did not want to have sex with him, then he didn’t have any intention to do what he did.

He should have been acquitted. That’s how the rule of law works and that’s how the rule of law should work if I’m going to be a part of the justice system. [...]

The woman had made very clear to the man at least six times that she did not want to do what he wanted to do. For example, oral and anal sex came up, and at each such incident the man did not proceed with what he wanted to do.

In other words, because he didn’t every kind of rape, he therefore could not have committed one form of rape. Rock solid logic.

939b54b3428aa558e12c4e80730acbfeYeah, he didn’t fuck her up the ass so he could not have “raped” her. Then this dickhead of a judge goes on to say:

If what is happening right now in mass and social media has the potential to scare less experienced judges, we’re on a dangerous path.

Raise your hand if you think Rolf Larsson has NO business being a judge. And by NO, I mean NO.

I will second that and add a NO and I mean FUCK NO!

In other ridiculous rape news: Anonymous Hacker Who Exposed the Steubenville Rapists May Get More Prison Time Than Rapists : Political Blind Spot

Deric Lostutter, the 26-year-old “hacktivist” who leaked the evidence that led to the conviction of two of the Steubenville, Ohio rapists is now facing more time behind bars than the rapists he exposed. The Steubenville Rape Case made national headlines when a video made by the rapists themselves, and their friends, proved that their victim was unconscious and unable to consent.

Instead of giving Lostutter thanks for exposing these criminals, however, the FBI raided his house last April. At first, Lostutter had denied that he was the man in the video, but he decided to come forward after the appalling reaction of the rapists after they were exposed.

Lostutter is now facing ten years behind bars if indicted for obtaining tweets and social media posts which revealed the details of the rape as well as for threatening action against the Steubenville rapists and school officials who helped to cover up the crime. Lostutter posted the video to the Steubenville High School football team website, bringing national attention to the case and the cover-up.

Word of Lostutter’s 10-years comes just as one of the rapists themselves, Ma’Lik Richomond, 16, was just released from prison for “good behavior.”

8ebc91cb27492af220d6e075ce8c4ed9More at the link…outrageous. The rapist gets less time than the dude who got the news of the rape and cover-up out to the public.

I think we need a new Superhero…make it a SuperShero. She is defender of rape victims everywhere, and she pulls a Bruce Wayne ala Peter Parker con Clark Kent on your ass if you rape or attempt to rape a person. Fuck yeah…this is gonna be good. Someone has to help me come up with a good name for her. And a good cover story and job and superpower.

She could be the Sky Dancer mascot…no that won’t do, it doesn’t go with the Buddhism thing.  The idea of kicking someone’s ass to a pulp is not very peaceful is it. (I guess that is why the 5th season of Dexter resonated so much for me…not to mention the film Thelma and Louise.)

And while we are on the topic of Women’s Issues and how bad the situation is in the United States: America Gets An Embarrassing C- In Women’s Reproductive Health

The Population Institute has released its annual State of Reproductive Health And Rights report card, and it seems that in the opinion of the massive educational nonprofit, America isn’t doing so hot. If America were a high schooler, America would be grounded until America gets its grades up, otherwise America won’t be getting into any colleges.

The report consolidates information most people who have been paying attention to the news probably suspected: as the federal government attempts to expand access to reproductive health care, right wing ideologues at the state level are working busily to ensure that women can’t physically access the care the federal government is trying to expand. It’s like the federal government built a dream house halfway up a mountain and handed women the keys, but states were like, let’s make it illegal to build a driveway and then put a fence around the house and remove all the doors. And the women of states run by conservatives are like, hey, why can’t I get into my house? And the state legislators are like, use your bootstraps to get in. Monday morning analogy!

Because of this, the United States still lags embarrassingly behind other developed countries in women’s reproductive health (half of pregnancies in the US are “unintended,” which is absurdly high) and, if social conservatives at the state level get their way, could slip even further.

055bd132a3f262985577fda60aa6a09aWell, nothing else would be more depressing then the attitude of those right-wing assholes once those pregnancies come to fruition. They just don’t give a damn. Like this next story out of Indiana, which is so upsetting, I can’t even tell you how it disturbed me to read about it. Three Children Died During The Polar Vortex After Their Heat Was Cut Off | ThinkProgress

Like the rest of the mid-west, the town of Hammond, Indiana, spent the first part of last week plunged below zero degrees. But while some families tried to shut out the cold by turning up their heat and staying under blankets, the bitter temperatures turned deadly for the family of a man named Andre Young.

The house that Young was renting for himself, his wife, and five children had its electricity cut off since March, gas since April, and water since October, according to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune. On that fateful night last week, the family was getting by on propane space heaters. Authorities suspect that’s what sparked a flame that engulfed the house around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8th.

According to witness accounts, Young ran in to the house to try to rescue his five children inside. He successfully saved two — a two-year-old and a six-year-old — before the flames caused serious injury and he collapsed into the snow. Another man tried to kick in the door and save the three children who remained inside, ages four, three, and seven months. But the attempts were unsuccessful; when first responders arrived, they found the three and the four-year-old holding on to one another, just feet from the door. The seven-month-old was nearby. All three children died.

Young, who remains hospitalized in critical condition, works in lawn care, according to the Tribune. His wife worked at Walmart, but most recently was a stay-at-home mom. As is the case with so many low-income families across the U.S., neighbors say the money was not enough to make the utility payments. 1f7bdb424636fcc5aaa8c0abda64a005On two occasions, he had tried to take electricity from meters hooked up to other houses.

Turns out the house had not been inspected and the landlord was ignoring officials and refusing to pay fines, in fact the landlord was supposed to be in court this past Thursday, but did not show. The mother worked at Walmart, the father was in lawn care.

“We inspect every rental property and this one was not inspected,” City Attorney Kristina Kantar told ThinkProgress. “No water, no power, no electricity, that’s bad. But we can’t tell that from the outside of the property.”

Kantar said that she sees cases like this “every day.” Sometimes people are squatters, or sometimes, like Young, they’re just behind on utilities, and no city officials realize there is a family inside. “It’s only because there’s a fire that you even know about this,” Kantar said.

There are some programs meant to assist families like Young’s. In Hammond, Indiana, the North Township Trustee administers the federal money provided by the federal low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP). The office can give amounts between $100 and $500 starting in October to individuals and families within 125 percent of the poverty line. Indiana’s utility, NIPSCO, also offers a hardship program and a discount program. NIPSCO spokesperson Kathleen Szot confirmed to ThinkProgress that Young was on some form of assistance, though she did not specify which kind.

Read the rest of this story. It is heartbreaking. These fucking Republicans have so much blood on their hands. Real human being blood, and not a zygote clump of cells. PLUB assholes.

73fd00d5b52a80c0759d6b04b83efa83 Robert SchulzCheck this out, Rich GOP Donor Gets Lawmaker to Draft a Bill to Lower His Child Support Payments | Mother Jones

After Michael Eisenga, a wealthy GOP donor and Wisconsin business owner, failed to convince several courts to lower his child support payments, he came up with an inventive plan B—he recruited a Republican state legislator to rewrite Wisconsin law in his favor.

A set of documents unearthed Saturday by the Wisconsin State Journal shows Eisenga and his lawyer, William Smiley, supplying detailed instructions to Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch on how to word legislation capping child support payments from the wealthy. Kleefisch began work on the legislation last fall, weeks after an appeals court rejected Eisenga’s attempts to lower his child support payments.

For example, in a September 13 letter, a drafting lawyer with Wisconsin’s legislative services bureau complained to a Kleefisch aide, “It’s hard to fashion a general principle that will apply to only one situation.”

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eisenga’s current child support payments for the three children he has with his ex-wife are set at $216,000 a year. (Per the couple’s prenuptial agreement, the divorce settlement left his $30 million in assets untouched.)

The balls on these guys!

In 2010, Eisenga donated $10,000 to Kleefisch and his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, according to the Journal Sentinel. Eisenga also donated $15,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The drafting documents, available on the Wisconsin legislature’s website, leave little not doubt that the bill was written to Eisenga’s specifications. According to the documents, on September 5, Eisenga’s lawyer briefed him on changes he was suggesting to a draft of Kleefisch’s bill. “We focused only on the portion that would require the court to modify your child support order based solely on the passage of the bill,” Smiley wrote. Eisenga then forwarded that letter to Kleefisch and one of his aides, saying, “Please have the drafter make these SPECIFIC changes to the bill.” The next day, Kleefisch’s aide forwarded the letter to the legislative lawyer drafting the bill.

A hearing for the bill is scheduled Wednesday before the Assembly Family Law Committee.

Eisenga and Smiley declined to speak to local news outlets about their emails with Kleefisch. On Saturday, Kleefisch told the Journal, “I do a gamut of legislation with the help and assistance of many, many constituents, and whether they gave a contribution or not has not made a difference.”

Oh…I think Kleefisch is full of Bullshit!

1340a3e360de713968f28bbd404135aeWhile on the subject of inflated dickheads: Medicare Is Grievously Overpaying for Penis Pumps – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic

Perhaps you had assumed that penis pumps were merely novelty items, sold mostly by email spammers and in a few musty sex shops. If so, you might be interested to learn that they’re actually considered a medical fallbackoption for men whose erectile dysfunction cannot be cured by drugs like Viagra—and that Medicare has been vastly overpaying for them for years.

So says a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, descriptively titled: “Medicare Payments for Vacuum Erection Systems Are More Than Twice As Much As the Amounts Paid For the Same or Similar Devices By Non-Medicare Payers.”

A “vacuum erection system,” in case anybody’s unclear, is just a penis pump. Between 2006 and 2011, Medicare spent a total of $172 million to purchase 473,620 such devices, at an average cost to the government of $360 each. The Veterans Administration, by comparison, pays just $185 per pump. With a little Google searching, the OIG found options available for an average of $164.

Had Medicare paid those sorts of prices, it could have saved $14 million during each of the five years the report examined.

Ugh…go and read the rest of that shit too.

This next link is full of information, and it is just neat. 40 more maps that explain the world

Maps seemed to be everywhere in 2013, a trend I like to think we encouraged along with August’s 40 maps that explain the world. Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. You might consider this, then, a collection of maps meant to inspire your inner map nerd. I’ve searched far and wide for maps that can reveal and surprise and inform in ways that the daily headlines might not, with a careful eye for sourcing and detail. I’ve included a link for more information on just about every one. Enjoy.

And I will end with this wonderful tweet from NYC:

Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander Seen Outside Tom’s Restaurant In NYC (PHOTO) (UPDATE)

Innit it great to see the two of them outside that familiar diner once again?

Have a great day and stop by for a comment or two.


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 »


Saturday Reads: Obama’s “Grand Bargain” Rears Its Ugly Head Again, and Other News

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Good Morning!!

Just in time for Halloween, Obama’s nightmare “Grand Bargain” once again rears its ugly head. Yesterday morning Bloomberg’s Joshua Green followed a hunch and attended a briefing by the President’s top economic adviser (who is not an economist). According to Green, Sperling told Democrats “they’ll have to swallow entitlement cuts.”

In his usual elliptical and prolix way, Sperling seemed to be laying out the contours of a bargain with Republicans that’s quite a bit different that what most Democrats seem prepared to accept. What stood out to me was how he kept winding back around to the importance of entitlement cuts as part of a deal, as if he were laying the groundwork to blunt liberal anger. Right now, the official Democratic position is that they’ll accept entitlement cuts only in exchange for new revenue—something most Republicans reject. If Sperling mentioned revenue at all, I missed it.

But he dwelt at length—and with some passion—on the need for more stimulus, though he avoided using that dreaded word. He seemed to hint at a budget deal that would trade near-term “investment” (the preferred euphemism for “stimulus’) for long-term entitlement reform. That would be an important shift and one that would certainly upset many Democrats.

Here’s some of what Sperling had to say. He led off with the importance of entitlement cuts. (All emphasis is mine):

“Sometimes here [in Washington] we start to think that the end goal of our public policy is to hit a particular budget or spending or revenue metric—as if those are the goals in and of itself. But it’s important to remember that each of these metrics … are means to larger goals. … Right now, I think there is among a lot of people a consensus as to what the ingredients of a pro-growth fiscal policy are. It would be a fiscal policy that—yes—did give more confidence in the long run that we have a path on entitlement spending and revenues that gives confidence in our long-term fiscal position and that we’re not pushing off unbearable burdens to the next generation. That is very important.”

After Green’s article was posted, White House spokesperson Amy Brundage tried to minimize the talk of cuts in the safety net in the following e-mail:

“Gene was reiterating what our position has been all along: that any big budget deal is going to have to include significant revenues if Republicans insist on entitlement reforms. And any budget deal needs to have first and foremost the goal of creating good jobs for middle class families and growing the economy—that’s our north star in any budget deal, big or small.”

Uh huh. They know Americans are paying attention to the constant threat of cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We need to stay vigilant and keep pushing back hard.

At Daily Kos, Joan McCarter responded: No, White House advisor Gene Sperling, entitlement cuts are not necessary.

You know what would be a really, really crappy idea? Making cuts to programs that are keeping millions from poverty in order to make a bad economy marginally better. But that’s what President Obama’s top economic advisor—Gene Sperling, director of the White House’s National Economic Council—is telling Democrats they’ll have to swallow….

Yeah, that would upset many Democrats. It would upset a helluva lot of voters, too. Millions and millions of them who have every reason right now to vote against Republicans. It would probably also not go over too well with the next generation who’s going to be far less impacted by the national debt than by having no hope of a secure retirement because a handful of austerity fetishists sold them up the river when they were young.

Sperling is saying that this will have to be done because “we still need to give this recovery more momentum.” Because of course the answer to the recovery is sacrificing some old people. By all means, get their skin in the game. They maybe have an inch or two of skin to spare.

Sign the petition from Senator Bernie Sanders, Daily Kos and an enormous coalition of progressives demanding that Congress and the President oppose any grand bargain which cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Here’s an article at The Atlantic that Obama and Sperling should read: Raising the Medicare Age: A Popular Idea With Shockingly Few Benefits

Increasing the Medicare age would barely save the government any money, while increasing healthcare spending overall by keeping seniors in less-efficient private insurance (if they even have it). Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the policy is fine.

It may seem obvious that raising the Medicare age should save money. After all, the projected rise of the long-term debt is mostly about the projected rise of federal health-care spending. If we raise the Medicare age, Washington can wait longer to pay for seniors’ health care, which means they’ll pay less, overall.

Any time there’s any chance for any kind of budget bargain, “grand” or otherwise, the discussion inside the Beltway inevitably turns to hiking the Medicare age. (Call it Peterson’s Law: As a fiscal debate grows longer, the probability of a CEO proposing a higher Social Security and Medicare age approaches one). Right on cue, this got trial-ballooned during the debt ceiling talks in 2011, and then again during the fiscal cliff talks in 2012. Professional deficit hawks think of raising the Medicare age as a sign of seriousness. It’s not so much about the money it saves as the message it supposedly sends markets: that the debt will be fixed.

Except it’s all a pack of lies. Read all about it at the link.

It’s been a year since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and caused so much havoc that it was “the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.” In July 2013, it came out that four charities had been holding back millions in donations that were collected specifically for Sandy relief. Now NY is forcing them to cough up some of the money. From the NY Daily News:

Four charities that had been under fire for sitting on millions of dollars of Hurricane Sandy relief funds have agreed to pony up $10 million to aid victims of the storm.

The charities — including the American Red Cross and a fund created by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees — reached an agreement with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The deal came after revelations in July that 40% of the $575 million in Sandy aid collected by 90 charities had been disbursed within six months of the storm.

“We have been dogged about making sure that when they raise money and tell the world they are going to spend it on Sandy recovery, they in fact spend it on Sandy recovery,” Schneiderman said during an appearance Thursday in hard-hit Long Beach, L.I.

Brees’ charity had seriously dropped the ball, having received a single $300,000 donation but only allocating $75,000 of it, officials said.

Under the agreement with Schneiderman, the Brees Dream Foundation agreed to disperse the remaining $225,000 by October 2014, the second anniversary of the storm.

In less serious news–it IS Saturday after all, Gawker has learned that Fox News’ Shepard Smith began carrying on an office romance with a young producer at Fox, Giovanni “Gio” Graziano. Apparently, the two have been seen together all over Manhattan.

Gawker has learned that Smith is dating a 26-year-old Penn State grad and Fox Business producer named Giovanni “Gio” Graziano. According to multiple sources with knowledge of their relationship, the couple met sometime after Graziano started working at Fox Report in October 2011 as a production assistant. He’s the man with whom Smith frequents Bathtub Gin.

“Yes, that’s Shepard’s boyfriend,” Katya Minskova, the Bathtub Gin waitress Smith berated in March, confirmed to Gawker when shown a photo of Graziano. Another source who had seen them together at the Chelsea speakeasy confirmed Graziano’s identity as well. Both sources say they saw Graziano and Smith together at the bar on multiple occasions, and that they appeared to be romantically involved.

While Smith and Graziano’s boss Roger Ailes, a notorious homophobe, was apparently kept in the dark about the relationship—“higher ups had no idea,” a source close to Graziano said—the pair doesn’t appear to have gone to great lengths to keep the workplace romance from their co-workers.

Shep Smith arranged for Graziano to be transferred to Fox Business a year ago, so the two wouldn’t be directly working together. Now it’s not clear if Graziano is even working at Fox anymore.

Graziano’s current status at Fox is unclear. His LinkedIn profile indicates that he is currently employed at Fox Business (after three years as a production assistant at Fox News, including one year at Smith’s show). But the source close to Graziano claimed that he abruptly left Fox in mid-July. Graziano “dropped off the planet, cut off all his friends, to be with Shep,” the source said. “His former work friends are clueless about his current whereabouts.”

Very interesting . . .

I noticed this story at The Atlantic a few days ago, and saved it for today. Go to the link to check out this GIF of most popular baby girl names from 1960 to the present, based on data compiled by the Social Security Administration. Rebecca Rosen writes:

My friend Judy used to always say that whenever she met another Judy, she knew exactly how old that Judy was—to the day.

Now that level of precision might be a bit of a stretch, but, as the above map wonderfully shows, there’s good reason for that line of thinking. The most popular baby girl names in the United States are flashes in the pan—each one appearing on the map briefly, before being swept out by an up-and-comer.

The map was built in Adobe Illustrator by Deadspin‘s Reuben Fischer-Baum using data from the Social Security Administration. “Color palette,” Fischer-Baum wrote to me over email, “has to be credited to Stephen Few, from his excellent data viz book Show Me The Numbers.” Earlier drafts gave each name a unique color, he says, but in the end “it was a lot cleaner and more interesting to limit the palette to just the most popular name for any given year, and put the rest in grayscale so you could see how the different ‘eras’ of top names progressed.”

Over at Jezebel, Fischer-Baum describes the picture that emerges:

Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half. If you’re named Jennifer and you were born between 1970 and 1984, don’t worry! I’m sure you have a totally cool, unique middle name.

Finally, here’s a really scary story for you from Talk to Action: A Majority of Americans 18-29 Years Old Now Believe in Demon Possession, Shows Survey.

Are Americans becoming less religious? While church affiliation is probably declining, don’t expect the atheist revolution anytime soon:

Over one half (63 percent, to be exact) of young Americans 18-29 years old now believe in the notion that invisible, non-corporeal entities called “demons” can take partial or total control of human beings, revealed an October 2012Public Policy Polling survey that also showed this belief isn’t declining among the American population generally; it’s growing.

Please read the whole creepy article at the link. It will scare you silly!

Those are my recommended reads for today. Please let us know what stories you’re following today by posting the links in the comment thread.


Thursday Reads: Beating the Benghazi Horse to Death and Other News

coffee shop bike

Good Morning!!

I got an e-mail this morning from Dakinikat saying that she arrived safely late last night and is completely exhausted. Hopefully, she’ll get to see her Dad today and give him a great big hug.

Now let’s see what’s going on in the world this morning.

I’ve got to be honest, I’m confused about the latest GOP Benghazi hearings. I have no idea what the fuss is all about, and I really don’t even want to try to figure it out. Apparently, car thief and arsonist Darrell Issa just can’t let go of Benghazi, and is going to keep right on harping on it until someone figures out a way to stop him. I’m going to highlight some articles on this “controversy,” but, as I said, I can’t really explain it.

First, the allegations of wrongdoing:

NYT: Diplomat Says Questions Over Benghazi Led to Demotion

A veteran diplomat gave a riveting minute-by-minute account on Wednesday of the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11 and described its contentious aftermath at a charged Congressional hearing that reflected the weighty political stakes perceived by both parties.

During a chaotic night at the American Embassy in Tripoli, hundreds of miles away, the diplomat, Gregory Hicks, got what he called “the saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life” informing him that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was dead and that he was now the highest-ranking American in Libya. For his leadership that night when four Americans were killed, Mr. Hicks said in nearly six hours of testimony, he subsequently received calls from both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama.

But within days, Mr. Hicks said, after raising questions about the account of what had happened in Benghazi offered in television interviews by Susan E. Rice, the United Nations ambassador, he felt a distinct chill from State Department superiors. “The sense I got was that I needed to stop the line of questioning,” said Mr. Hicks, who has been a Foreign Service officer for 22 years.

He was soon given a scathing review of his management style, he said, and was later “effectively demoted” to desk officer at headquarters, in what he believes was retaliation for speaking up.

BBC News: Benghazi attack: Hicks ‘stunned’ at Rice explanation

After the disrupted phone call with Ambassador Stevens, Mr Hicks said he received calls from Libyans using the ambassador’s phone who said they had the envoy with them.

But Mr Hicks decided not to act on the calls, fearing an ambush.

So the “whistleblower” chose not to do anything? What is his complaint then?

UN Ambassador Susan Rice has been the focus of outrage from Republicans in Congress, for giving the news media what has been acknowledged as an incorrect explanation for the attack.

She said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had grown out of an anti-US protest, while other officials have said they knew at the time it was an organised, armed assault, possibly by an Islamist militant group.

“My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.

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I guess it’s still about Susan Rice. . . Or more likely, it’s about Hillary Clinton and attempts to hobble any plans she may have to run for president.

Washington Post: At Benghazi hearing, State Dept. officials challenge administration review of attacks

Three State Department officials on Wednesday provided a riveting, emotional account of last year’s fatal attack on U.S. installations in eastern Libya as they accused senior government officials of withholding embarrassing facts and failing to take enough responsibility for security lapses.

The testimony provided new details on the Sept. 11, 2012, assaults on U.S. installations in Benghazi and their aftermath. But the new information failed to break the political logjam the attacks spawned, with Republicans and Democrats offering starkly different interpretations of what happened and who within the U.S. government is to blame.

Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) opened the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by saying that panel Democrats had “mostly sat silent” while Republicans tried to wrest the truth from an uncooperative Obama administration.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the senior Democrat on the committee, countered that Issa’s GOP majority had launched a “full-scale media campaign . . . of unfounded accusations to smear public officials.”

But in expanding the narrative of the intensely politicized episode, the witnesses raised fresh questions about whether then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her deputies were sufficiently engaged in assessing the security posture of diplomatic posts last year.

Time Magazine’s Michael Crowley: Terror, Security, and Hillary 2016: Making Sense of the Benghazi Hearings

The hearing by the Republican-led House Government Oversight & Reform Committee was not the first on the events surrounding the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. Hillary Clinton, who was running the State Department at the time of the attack, testified for hours back in January. But the story was given fresh dramatic life and new narrative details through the testimony of two self-described whistle blowers who had not previously spoken in public: Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism; Gregory Hicks, the former deputy of mission in Libya. Joining them was Eric Nordstrom, a former regional security officer in Libya, who had previously testified on the issue.

But “[c]ould the U.S. military have done more to help?”

Not according to the Pentagon – and the hearing’s key witness. Aircraft that might have buzzed the compound where the second pair of Americans died – and scared the militants away — were 900 miles north in Italy. “Time and distance are a tyranny of their own,” Admiral James Stavridis, who responded to the attacks as the NATO commander, told Congress earlier this year. Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated it would take as long as 20 hours to get the planes above Benghazi. Hicks testified that he asked the U.S. defense attaché in Tripoli if planes could be scrambled to help those under attack in the CIA annex in Benghazi, a battle that unfolded hours after the initial assault on the nearby U.S. consulate, which killed Stevens, and led to two more American deaths. “He said that it would take two to three hours for them to get on site, but that there also were no tankers available for them to refuel,” Hicks said Wednesday. “And I said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and we went on with our work.” Hicks also testified that a four man team of Green Berets in Tripoli were denied a request to deploy to Benghazi the morning after the attack began, though officials doubt they could have arrived early enough to save lives at the CIA annex.

Apparently the complaint is that the State Department didn’t order all military resources to get to Benghazi even though there was no way they could have gotten there in time to do anything to help?

So we’re back to preventing Hillary 2016?

Whether or not Republicans intended it, the shadow of national politics loomed over Wednesday’s hearing. Hillary Clinton completed a generally well-reviewed tenure of Secretary of State, as evidenced by her sky-high public approval ratings. But Benghazi is a clear black mark on her Foggy Bottom record, one that could haunt Clinton if she runs for president in 2016. Conservatives seized on Hicks’s testimony that, in a call with Clinton on the fateful night, he told her that a terrorist attack was underway–a fact that was slow to appear in the administration’s public rhetoric. Still, despite repeated discussion about what Clinton knew and when she knew it, no smoking gun emerged from Wednesday’s hearing, leading one Congressional Democrat to dismiss questions about her role as a “witch hunt.”

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I guess that’s pretty much what it’s all about . . . A few more links:

Think Progress: Benghazi Review Board Chair Says Notion Of Cover Up Is ‘Pulitzer Prize Fiction’

“I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it,” former Ambassador Thomas Pickering said on MSNBC. He also rebutted claims that the review board tried to protect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from scrutiny:

PICKERING: I saw no evidence of it. She did publicly take responsibility for what happened below her and indeed one of the things the Congress did in preparing the legislation that established the Accountability Review Board was to say we don’t want a situation where heads of agencies take responsibility and then nobody who made the decision in the chain has to suffer any consequences for failure for performance. I believe in fact the Accountability Review Board did it’s work well. I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it.

Pickering offered to testify at the latest hearing, but Chairman Issa wouldn’t let him.

Think Progress: GOP Star Witnesses Debunk Right-Wing Benghazi Conspiracy Theories

The “whistleblowers” at today’s House Oversight Committee hearing on what really happened in Benghazi, Libya last September were supposed to break the dam that would lead to President Obama’s eventual downfall, in the eyes of conservatives. Instead, these witness actually served to debunk several theories that the right-wing has pushed on Benghazi, leaving the hearing a fizzle for the GOP.

Read the explanations at the link.

TPM: Top Republican ‘Fairly Satisfied’ With White House’s Account Of Benghazi

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) said Wednesday that he’s “fairly satisfied” with the Obama administration’s account of events that led to the deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi last year.

“We need to know were these people culpable or not. If they were, why are they still on the payroll? Other than that, I’ve been able to read all the cables. I’ve seen the films,” Corker told MSNBC. “I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied.”

He cautioned House Republicans to be “respectful” if they probe the issue further.

“Look, if the House wants to have hearings,” he said, “I hope they’re done in a respectful way and hopefully it will shed some light on what happened.”

I guess that’s enough about Benghazi. I apologize for giving it so much space, but I thought if I were confused about this, some of you might be too.

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A bit more news in the form of a link dump:

There has been another factory fire in Bangladesh! Reuters reports: Bangladesh factory fire kills eight; collapse toll tops 900

A DailyKos diary deals with a question that has been rattling around in my head: How did Jason Richwine Get a PhD from Harvard?

WBUR Boston University (NPR): Markey Edges Gomez In WBUR Senate Poll

The Hill on Suffolk University Poll: Markey builds strong lead over Gomez in Mass. Senate race

I realize the media is dying for another Scott Brown surprise, but it’s just not gonna happen.

Politico: Lindsey Graham faces down primary challenge

Unfortunately, it looks like Huckleberry Closetcase will be back in 2014.

Politico: Excessive student loan debt drains economic engine

Chicago Tribune: Cleveland kidnapping: Bond for Ariel Castro set at $8 million

Why is he getting any chance of getting out on bail??

Reuters: Wrigley halts production of caffeine gum following FDA concern

Could there be a worse idea by the candy industry? Kids would be getting that gum!

NYT: Hospital Billing Varies Wildly, Government Data Shows

Sooooo . . . what’s new with you? What are you reading and blogging about today? Please share your links on any subject in the comment thread!