Tuesday Reads: The First Democratic Debate

Dem debate cnn

Good Morning!!

Tonight’s the night! Hillary Clinton will be center stage for the first Democratic Debate, hosted by CNN. To her right, Bernie Sanders will probably have to wear a suit instead of rolled-up shirt sleeves. The other three spots will be filled by people most Americans have barely heard of: Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee.

Hillary is obviously the most experienced debater of the five, although I imagine Bernie Sanders will be able to hold his own. Can Martin O’Malley increase his visibility and voter recognition? Will Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee be able to explain why they are supposedly running for President? We’ll find out tonight.

We’ll have a live blog tonight beginning around 8PM, and I hope you can join us. It’s always more fun watching these events with friends.

So what are the pundits saying this morning?

From CNN: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders finally face off.

Though Clinton and Sanders have rarely mentioned each other’s names, they are clearly reacting to each other and their rival’s potential weaknesses. Sanders took aim at Clinton’s Wall Street record and Iraq vote over the weekend; she put him on the defensive on guns and his poor standing with minority voters.

Until now, they have each had good reason for avoiding full contact with the other. Clinton hasn’t wanted to elevate Sanders and his surprisingly strong poll numbers, while Sanders has wanted to maintain his untraditional, above-the-fray image.

On Tuesday, that calculus will change. And the distinctions they’ve subtly staked out on a range of issues are only likely to grow sharper.

dem debate 2

The focus of the article is mostly on ways that Bernie will be able to attack Hillary.

As he limbered up for their clash, Sanders threw down the gauntlet on the Iraq War — a thrust that Clinton has struggled to counter in the past — hinting that she has hawkish views that are out of step with the majority of Democratic voters.

His campaign issued a statement reminding voters that he, then a member of the House of Representatives, voted against authorizing the Iraq war in late 2002. At the time he argued that the conflict would destabilize the Middle East, kill large numbers of Americans and Iraqi civilians and hamper the war on terror against al Qaeda….

“Democrats are no more fond of the Iraq war now than they were back then. That could be a problem,” Peter Beinart, a foreign policy expert and CNN contributor, said Monday. He added that another Democratic candidate, former Virginia senator and Vietnam war veteran Jim Webb, who was also against the war, could double-team with Sanders to cause trouble for Clinton on the issue.

Sanders has also been staking out territory to Clinton’s left on Syria. The former secretary of state recently distanced herself from Obama’s much-criticized policy on the vicious civil war by calling for a no-fly zone to be set up to shield refugees.

Sanders issued a statement earlier this month pointing out that he opposes such an idea, warning that it could “get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never ending entanglement in that region.”

Fine, but Hillary’s Iraq vote was a very long time ago. Right now, she has laid out specific policy proposals to deal with America’s present-day domestic problems. Tonight, she’ll get a chance to explain her policies. Will Bernie have specifics about how he plans to achieve his ambitious policy goals?

CNN's emergency Joe Biden podium

CNN’s emergency Joe Biden podium

CNN is still fantasizing about getting Joe Biden on stage tonight. They supposedly have a podium ready for him if he shows up at the last minute. Last night Stephen Colbert poked fun at CNN’s “Biden fever.” Read about it and watch the clip at the Washington Post.

The New York Times’ Amy Chozick had an interesting article on Hillary as debater on Friday: In Debate, Hillary Clinton Will Display Skills Honed Over a Lifetime.

When Hillary Rodham’s high school government teacher in Park Ridge, Ill., insisted she play the role of Lyndon B. Johnson in a mock debate of the 1964 presidential election, she protested.

Ms. Rodham, one of the school’s standout debaters, was a proud Barry Goldwater supporter (she wore a hat with an “AuH2O” logo) and an active member of the Young Republicans. But the teacher, Jerry Baker, was intent on challenging her to argue the other side.

Always a dutiful student, she agreed, settling into the library to pore for hours over Johnson’s positions on civil rights, foreign policy and health care. She prepared with such ardor and delivered such a compelling case that she even convinced herself. By the time Ms. Rodham graduated from college, she was a Democrat.

Chozick notes that Hillary is a genuine policy wonk.

The first Democratic primary debate Tuesday on CNN will provide Mrs. Clinton with an opportunity to present her policies to voters — policies that have been largely overshadowed in the news media by developments over her use of private email at the State Department and by the rise of her insurgent opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

But more important, the debate — perhaps more than any late-night appearances or social media gambit — will provide Mrs. Clinton with the largest platform yet to make a connection with voters and show off her genuine passion for policy.

“It’s who she is at her core,” said Patti Solis Doyle, who was an aide to Mrs. Clinton from 1991 to 2008 and managed her last presidential campaign. “She’s an avid studier. She does her homework. She’s a massive preparer.”

The characteristics that viewers will see in Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday are in many ways the same ones that Mr. Baker spotted in his ambitious high school student a half-century ago.

Read much more at the link.


Here’s a hilarious headline from today’s Washington Post: Hillary Clinton’s declining image numbers inch upward. The article itself is quite revealing (emphasis added). The charts are from the article by Philip Bump.

This is the story of Hillary Clinton’s favorability that’s usually told: a steep and accelerating drop over time.

New polling data from The Washington Post and ABC News, though, paints a different picture. Since August, Clinton’s approval rating is . . . up slightly, to 47 percent from 45 percent. Her net favorability — the percentage of people who view her positively minus those who view her negatively — is up six points.

Clinton’s net favorability didn’t change among Democrats, we’ll note, while both Bernie Sanders and non-candidate-and-maybe-never-candidate Joe Biden saw improvements with Democrats. Clinton gained with independents — and Republicans, where she essentially had nowhere to go but up. Biden saw the biggest gain in net favorability with Republicans, though, gaining 12 points.

Clinton and Biden both saw improvements in their favorability and declines in their unfavorable numbers. For Sanders, the picture was different. Since August, both his favorable and unfavorable numbers increased by about the same amount, nine and eight points, respectively, among registered voters, even as he became much better known….

We’ll note that, for her recent improvement, Clinton is still the least positively viewed Democrat among the three that poll the highest. At least on net. She is also the most popular Democrat among Democrats, with 79 percent favorability to Biden’s 72 and Sanders’s 47. It’s just that she’s viewed far worse by Republicans.


Gee, I wonder why Biden’s favorability has improved so much among Republicans? /s

How have the candidates been preparing for tonight’s debate? Politico claims to have the lowdown on what Clinton and Sanders have been up to. In the article on Clinton, you have to look for informative tidbits scattered through the Hillary hate. Inside Hillary Clinton’s debate prep.

Her debate strategy is now expected to be two-pronged, according to campaign officials and people with knowledge of the debate preparations: She will attempt to embrace some of Sanders’ ideals while dismissing his solutions, and simultaneously try for a third time to introduce herself to the American public and explain her rationale for running.

She will arrive on the Las Vegas debate stage having poured over briefing books that underscore Sanders’ problematic gun control votes, like his lack of support for the Brady Act, which established mandatory checks on gun sales, and his vote for the 2005 law that gave protection to firearm manufacturers from lawsuits filed by victims and their families. (She also unveiled her own specific gun control policies Monday, just eight days ahead of the debate.)

She is also expected to hold her ground on any attacks that question her fight for progressive values, and hammer home the point that it’s not about great rhetoric or speeches, it’s about results and who can deliver them.

Clinton’s team has also discussed how to inject skepticism into the minds of viewers by questioning how her challenger plans to pay for trillions of dollars in new initiatives he has proposed (The Wall Street Journal tallied his proposals to cost $18 trillion over 10 years), sources said.

The article had little to say about Hillary’s actual debate prep methods, but there’s a more informative article at Glamour Magazine by Jackie Kucinich. It’s an interview with Neera Tanden, who helped prepare Hillary for the debates in 2008. It’s well worth reading. According to Tanden, Hillary likes to participate in mock debates and practice question and answer sessions. She is always very well versed on the issues.


Politico on Bernie Sanders’ “unorthodox debate prep”:

Hillary Clinton has had aides lined up to run her debate prep for months. A Washington super lawyer is mimicking Bernie Sanders, and her top policy staffer is acting as Martin O’Malley.

Sanders started studying for next Tuesday’s event not even a full week ago. And that’s because his two top aides sat him down in Burlington on Friday and asked whether he had a plan.

Sanders has briefing books, a couple of meetings with policy experts and an abiding aversion to the idea of acting out a debate before it happens. He knows the stakes are high, his staff says. But the candidate, whose New Hampshire polling and fundraising prowess have put a scare into Clinton, is uninterested in going through the motions of typical debate practice.

The Vemont senator’s debate preparations, in other words, don’t look a ton like debate preparations.

While CNN is billing the event as a showdown, Sanders’ team sees the first Democratic debate as a chance to introduce a fairly niche candidate to a national audience. So his team intends to let him do what he’s been doing. Far from preparing lines to deploy against Clinton — let alone O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee or Jim Webb — Sanders plans to dish policy details, learned through a handful of briefings with experts brought in by his campaign.

Hmmmm….I’m just wondering if he’ll have any specifics about how to implement and pay for his proposed policies. It sounds like he’ll mostly be arguing that he’s the best because he opposed the Iraq War, the pipeline, and the TPP “from day one.” We’ll find out tonight, I guess.


I couldn’t find anything about Chafee’s or Webb’s preparations, but Huffington Post has a short piece on Martin O’Malley: Martin O’Malley’s Spin On Debate Prep: An Open Mic Night In Vegas.

O’Malley’s last best chance to become a factor in the race arrives on Tuesday night, when he is set to share a debate stage here with Clinton and Sanders. His goal will be a simple one: to introduce himself in a positive light — with a particularly well-timed one-liner or two as an added bonus — to the millions of Democratic voters who still have no idea who he is.

Many of them may end up liking what they see, as O’Malley’s relative youth and executive experience presents an immediate contrast to his better-known rivals.

As we discovered when we spent a day on the campaign trail with him in Sin City last week, O’Malley is a more compelling figure than his relatively anonymous profile would suggest.

Sure, he can still eat lunch at a strip mall Subway without any substantial risk that he might be recognized, as he did with our cameras rolling. But O’Malley is also able to boast of having complied a host of progressive accomplishments during his tenure in Annapolis on issues ranging from gun control to immigration reform and beyond.

Oh, and he can really sing, too, as he showed us during his guitar-picking open mic night performance on a rainy evening at a dimly lit bar in downtown Vegas.

Okay…..nothing too substantive there.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and don’t forget to come back tonight for the debate live blog!

Monday Reads

I’ve been highly distressed by so many things recently. The House of Representatives has been overrun by right wing article-2621295-1D95D15200000578-232_634x817extremists who don’t seem to have a grasp on much of anything related to the U.S. Constitution, governance, or reality for that matter. Most of the donors to political parties come from 158 extremely wealthy people which is why we can’t seem to hold any power brokers–like Wall Street Bankers–to account for crime and fraud. We have a broken criminal justice system with out-of-control and ineffective police and we seem caught up in a perpetual global policing role which costs us trillions of dollars and the world millions of lives.  Then, there’s the out-of-control gun violence.

Can we really hold any viable claim to the idea of “American Exceptionalism” or cling to the idea that we are some kind of bright shining city, a beacon of light any more given that you’ve got a pretty good chance of being shot just about any where you go or don’t go these days?  William Rivers Pitt posted a brilliant essay calling the concept a “deadly fraud” that’s been reprinted on Bill Moyer’s site.

This past weekend, Doctors Without Borders volunteers were treating people in a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, when the building erupted in fire and screaming. A US airstrike by a massive AC-130 gunship laid an ocean of ordnance on the building at fifteen-minute intervals for more than an hour, and when it was over, 22 people were dead including three children and ten Doctors Without Borders staff members. One nurse who survived recounted how the hospital was all but destroyed, and when the survivors went in to look, they found six patients on fire in their hospital beds.

For its part, the US said it wasn’t us, then said it might have been us, then said the hospital was a nest of Taliban fighters – a claim the doctors dispute vehemently – before saying Afghan officials asked us to do it. Yesterday, President Obamapersonally apologized to Dr. Joanne Liu, the organization’s international president, for the attack. Doctors Without Borders is not having it, and is not mincing words. Immediately after the attack, the organization’s General Director, Christopher Stokes, said, “We reiterate that the main hospital building, where medical personnel were caring for patients, was repeatedly and very precisely hit during each aerial raid, while the rest of the compound was left mostly untouched. We condemn this attack, which constitutes a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law.” The organization’s Executive Director, Jason Cone, described it as the “darkest couple of days in our organization’s history,” before going on to call the attack a “war crime.” After the apology, Dr. Liu demanded an independent investigation into the incident.

Never fear, however: The Authorities are on the case. The Pentagon is going to investigate the Pentagon to see if the Pentagon obliterated a hospital in Afghanistan by bombing it with precision munitions fired from a massive gunship for more than an hour, incinerating civilians, children and doctors. Sounds legit.

American Exceptionalism in full effect.

Speaking of which, the 247th mass shooting in the United States during this current calendar year took place in Room 15 of Snyder Hall at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on October 1. The man who did it shot down a roomful of students, including a professor and a woman using a wheelchair.

A lady in the next classroom over with gray hair using a cane went to investigate when the noise began, and staggered back moments later covered in blood with part of her arm blasted away. “Don’t go in there,” she said before collapsing. An Army veteran named Chris Mintz attempted to thwart the attack and was shot five times, on his son’s sixth birthday. He survived his service and his deployments overseas intact, only to come home to a rain of gunfire in the 45th school shooting incident this year alone.

UNITED STATES, CIRCA 1902: Vintage US Postage Stamp celebrating George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, circa 1902.

UNITED STATES, CIRCA 1902: Vintage US Postage Stamp celebrating George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, circa 1902.

How related is all of this to the fact that 158 families now dominate political contributions?  Can we say that we’re a plutocracy now?

After looking at the donations made to the current crop of presidential candidates, the New York Times reports that $176 million, roughly half of all the money contributed during the first phase of the campaigns, came from only 158 families and the companies those families control. The demographic details about these donors, all of whom gave $250,000 or more, will not likely come as a surprise: The majority are conservative, with 87 percent supporting Republican candidates, and the majority are also white, male, concerned about their privacy, and most of their money has not been made via inheritance or more established American corporations, but has been self-made from risky endeavors in the finance and energy industries. In addition, most of the donors lived near just nine U.S. cities, often as neighbors. One family who earned billions in the recent natural-gas fracking boom, the Wilks of Texas, have donated a nationally leading $15 million, all to Texas senator Ted Cruz. Indeed, the report says that many of the donors, regardless of political affiliation, have supported revolution or reform-minded candidates like Cruz. Also, an additional 200 families donated $100,000 or more, meaning that well more than half of all presidential campaign contributions during the targeted time period came from less than 400 American households.

Is any one as frightened by this as I am?

You can couple that bit of Plutocracy evidence with this one. Writer Rich Cohen found some deeply disturbing trends goingWorld_War_II_Patriotic_Posters_USA_Conservation_Food_Canning_1LG on with extreme poverty in the South and the donations of corporations mostly known for outsourcing all of their production business to oversea sweatshops.

Hooray for Paul Theroux, who, as he toured the rural South, found the community desolation that some of us have long seen and known and realized that the sentiments and programs of corporate moguls to lift the poor out of poverty are often so much palaver. Much of his argument was against the export of American jobs to other nations, reflecting the much greater mobility of capital than labor in the global economy. In Nike’s move of almost all of its manufacturing overseas, it has impoverished American communities under the fiction that in doing so, Nike’s Phil Knight was motivated to lift the developing countries’ poor out of poverty, helped along by the even greater fiction that Americans wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to be employed in factories making Nike shoes stateside rather than watching their unemployment benefits run out and their communities decline.

Given less prominence in his piece was his eviscerating critique of the likes of Phil Knight at Nike and Tim Cook at Apple (on Nike’s board) that the charity of these moguls will somehow uplift the poor. Hooray, again, for Theroux, calling out the hypocrisy behind the congratulatory humanitarian accolades America’s enlightened corporate intelligentsia awards to itself. The notion that the exploitation and devastation wrought by corporate profit-seeking is mean to uplift the poor is hard to swallow whole when one takes into account the total picture of the billionaires’ income amounts, sources, and impacts.

As Theroux put it, “The strategy of getting rich on cheap labor in foreign countries while offering a sop to America’s poor with charity seems to me a wicked form of indirection. If these wealthy chief executives are such visionaries, why don’t they understand the simple fact that what people want is not a handout along with the uplift ditty but a decent job?”

Like some foundation execs who sit atop erstwhile progressive grantmaking machines, these mega-donors and mega-grantmakers attempt, we presume, to make the economic system that generates their economic growth work for everyone. In reality, under current dynamics of charity and philanthropy they are falling pretty short from making the economy work for everyone. For the most part, they sit on their assets, distributing in the realm of five percent, and watch their corpuses grow while the assets of the small towns in the Mississippi Delta and the Alabama Black Belt shrink—and the poverty of their residents grows. Even within their frame of operating within the current economic system, they could be doing much more.

We already know trickle-down economics which is the heart and soul of the Republican Party Denial of Reality platform is a complete fraud.  As you know, depending on the kindness of strangers doesn’t appear to cut it either.  We’re in a full throttle back lurch to the philosophies of before and during the civil war.

UNITED STATES, CIRCA 1922: Vintage US Postage Stamp celebrating Nathan Hale, soldier for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, circa 1922.

UNITED STATES, CIRCA 1922: Vintage US Postage Stamp celebrating Nathan Hale, soldier for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, circa 1922.

How can you claim to be a civilized country when one of the two parties has gone completely off the deep end and the other really refuses to do much to point that out?  The brilliant Charles Pierce shows the complicity of the Democratic Party in the enabling of insurgency. Have Democrats allowed the crazy to fester?

Where the hell has the Democratic Party been on the most basic issue of Republican madness?

Time and custom – and the limitations of the Constitution – have decreed that we only should have two political parties at a time in this country. Throughout history, the two major parties  have come and gone with some regularity – Yo, Hugh L. White, represent! — although usually not as quickly as the consistently vain attempts at launching a third-party have. The primary obligation of each of the two parties to their members is to win elections. The primary obligation of each of the two parties to the country is to govern it. Therefore, given all this, if one of the parties goes as thoroughly, deeply, banana-sandwich loony as the present Republican Party has, the other party has a definitive obligation to the Republic to beat the crazy out of it so the country can get moving again. This is a duty in which the Democratic Party has failed utterly.

Republican extremism should have been the most fundamental campaign issue for every Democratic candidate for every elected office since about 1991. Every silly thing said by Michele Bachmann, say, or Louie Gohmert should have been hung around the neck of Republican politicians until they choked themselves denying it. (I once spoke to a Democratic candidate who was running against Bachmann who said to me, “Well, I’m not going to call her crazy.” She lost badly.) The mockery and ridicule should have been loud and relentless. It was the only way to break both the grip of the prion disease, and break through the solid bubble of disinformation, anti-facts, and utter bullshit that has sustained the Republican base over the past 25 years. Instead, and it’s hard to fault them entirely for their sense of responsibility, the Democrats chose largely to ignore the dance of the madmen at center stage and fulfill some sense of obligation to the country. (In no way does this excuse the far too many Democrats who chose to join in the dance, however briefly. Hi, Joe Lieberman!) Now, as we saw on Thursday, it well may be too late. The national legislature has been broken by crazy people.

Now, of course, is the time where the political elites try to wish it back into order, like those people in the Monty Python skit who live in an apartment building constructed entirely by hypnosis.  We’re seeing it already in today’s hot political story – that all the Republicans are begging Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from the state of Wisconsin, to sacrifice himself and become third-in-line to the president of the United States because Ryan is the only one who can “unify the party.”

The problem, of course, is that, on most issues, especially on the economic issues that are supposed to be his wheelhouse, Ryan is just as daffy and just as extreme as the rest of his party is. He keeps trotting out “budgets” that cause the rest of his party to hide behind the couch when he comes down the hall, and that also cause actual economists to fall into their sherry in hysterical laughter. On issues with which he is not familiar, Ryan’s performance as the 2012 vice-presidential candidate was quite literally laughable.

If you live in a state run by the crazy party, then you’re trapped in an endless round of watching your infrastructure and institutions fall apart while watching tax dollars bleed to private jails, private schools, and whatever donor class writes the check. In my neck of the woods, it’s chemical companies and oil companies that pollute a fragile ecosystem with abandon.

libertyThere are so many problems with the US Justice system these days that it’s hard to keep track of the inequities.  But, try this one for size.  You can go to the Sixty Minutes site and watch this interview. Be sure to have tissues handy because you will weep.  This is from Louisiana which is the prison capitol of the world.

The following is a script from “30 Years on Death Row” which aired on October 11, 2015. Bill Whitaker is the correspondent. Ira Rosen and Habiba Nosheen, producers.

There may be no greater miscarriage of justice than to wrongfully convict a person of murder and sentence him to death. But that’s exactly what happened to Glenn Ford. He spent nearly 30 years on death row, in solitary confinement, in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison until new evidence revealed he did not commit the murder.

He was one of 149 inmates freed from death row since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. In all those exonerations, you have likely never heard a prosecutor admit his role and apologize for his mistakes in sending an innocent man to death row. But tonight, a prosecutor’s confession. Marty Stroud, speaks of an injustice he calls so great it destroyed two lives: Glenn Ford’s, and his own.

Marty Stroud: I ended up, without anybody else’s help, putting a man on death row who didn’t belong there. I mean at the end of the day, the beginning, end, middle, whatever you want to call it, I did something that was very, very bad.

It was 1983, Shreveport, Louisiana, and 32-year-old prosecutor Marty Stroud was assigned his first death penalty case. A local jeweler, Isadore Rozeman had been robbed and murdered. Quickly, Stroud zeroed in on Glenn Ford. Ford had done yard work for Rozeman and was known to be a petty thief, and he admitted he had pawned some of the stolen jewelry. All that was enough to make him the primary suspect. Stroud knew a conviction would boost his career.

Marty Stroud: I was arrogant, narcissistic, caught up in the culture of winning.

Please watch or read about this.

Please also consider that SCOTUS let a man die that Oklahoma killed with the wrong drug. This is all kinds of wrong.a5bc29e57bbeeaa14bfc46152dbadc63

You need five Supreme Court justices to halt an execution. In January, Charles Warner got four. Oklahoma executed him that same day.

But the court did something strange eight days later: It agreed to hear Warner’s case. For that, you only need four votes. That case, initially docketed as Warner v. Gross, was posthumously renamed Glossip v. Gross, one of the highlights of the last Supreme Court term.

No one knows which of the nine justices voted to hear the Warner case, but it was probably the same ones who would have spared his life a week earlier. Dissenting from the one-sentence order that refused to keep Warner alive a little longer, the four justices said a few things about Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol. They were none too pleased.

“The questions before us are especially important now, given States’ increasing reliance on new and scientifically untested methods of execution,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in January.

Those words now ring prophetic.

On Thursday, The Oklahoman revealed that an autopsy report for Warner showed that he had been executed using potassium acetate, a chemical not approved for such use in Oklahoma. The state’s drug protocol calls for potassium chloride.

The Warner case marks the first time that any state has administered potassium acetate in an execution, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. Oklahoma almost used it a second time on Richard Glossip last week, except Gov. Mary Fallin (R) gave him a last-minute stay after state Department of Corrections officials discovered the mix-up involving the wrong drug the day of his execution.

Then, there’s the so-called “sharing” economy where a few of your neighbors claim the right to ignore zoning laws and make money off creating misery in your backyard. No one wants to freaking act like their neighbor’s keeper any more.  It’s all about grabbing what you can for yourself.

The houses are often among the nicest on the block, or at least the biggest. They may be new construction where a smaller structure once stood, or an extensively renovated home with cheery paint in shades of yellow or blue.

But then the telltale signs appear, including an electronic touch pad on the door that makes it easy for people to get in without a key. The ads on HomeAway or Airbnb eventually confirm it: A party house has come to the neighborhood.

Some neighbors have warmed in recent years to travelers dragging suitcases through their residential neighborhoods, and they are happy that the visitors spread their money around. But when profit-seeking entrepreneurs furnish homes they do not live in to make them attractive to big groups and then rent out those houses as much as possible, parties and noise are nearly inevitable.

This article is on Austin but it really describes what goes on and about in New Orleans and I’m sure other destinations too. This is awful but hey, a few carpetbaggers can collect their checks without even living in the state.

So, today we celebrate a holiday where one of the absolute worst human beings in the world is given a complete make over.  Read some of these quotes from Colombus and then think about it what the day really meant to the indigenous people he ‘discovered’.  Some times I think we’ve really not come that far along.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

(Oh, and before I forget, a word from your sponsors.  We have a bill coming due on the 20th which needs to be paid.  Several of you have already contributed some and I really appreciate it.  It basically houses us here in our current form and it provides a bit more memory and our nifty address.  If you could see your way to sending us a little bit of cash, we’d appreciate it.  We’re close, but not close enough!  The donate button on the left works just fine. Thank you!)

Saturday Reads

000d3235I still can’t believe we celebrate a holiday that basically recognizes the start of the mass slaughter of indigenous Americans. Does any one still believe that some dead European “discovered” a continent teeming with existing civilizations?   Many Americans and states are deciding if we should celebrate mass murder and occupation in the name of “discovery.”  But then again, I still can’t imagine why we let sports teams use stereotypes and caricatures as mascots still.

About four miles from the world’s largest Christopher Columbus parade in midtown Manhattan on Monday, hundreds of Native Americans and their supporters will hold a sunrise prayer circle to honor ancestors who were slain or driven from their land.

The ceremony will begin the final day of a weekend “powwow” on Randall’s Island in New York’s East River, an event that features traditional dancing, story-telling and art.

The Redhawk Native American Arts Council’s powwow is both a celebration of Native American culture and an unmistakable counterpoint to the parade, which many detractors say honors a man who symbolizes centuries of oppression of aboriginal people by Europeans.

Organizers hope to call attention to issues of social and economic injustice that have dogged Native Americans since Christopher Columbus led his path-finding expedition to the “New World” in 1492.

The powwow has been held for the past 20 years but never on Columbus Day. It is part of a drive by Native Americans and their supporters throughout the country, who are trying to rebrand Columbus Day as a holiday that honors indigenous people, rather than their European conquerors. Their efforts have been successful in several U.S. cities this year.

“The fact that America would honor this man is preposterous,” said Cliff Matias, lead organizer of the powwow and a lifelong Brooklyn resident who claims blood ties with Latin America’s Taino and Kichwa nations. “It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.”

But for many Italian Americans, who take pride in the explorer’s Italian roots, the holiday is a celebration of their heritage and role in building America. Many of them are among the strongest supporters of keeping the traditional holiday alive.

Berkeley, California, was the first city to drop Columbus Day, replacing it in 1992 with Indigenous Peoples Day. The trend has gradually picked up steam across the country.

Last year, Minneapolis and Seattle became the first major U.S. cities to designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

This month, Portland, Oregon, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Bexar County, Texas, decided to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with the new holiday. Oklahoma City is set for a vote on a similar proposal later this month.

So, this is going to be an odd little post since it’s Saturday and I’m still nervous that my computer will go bonkers on me.  I’ve never liked Gore Vidal and I’ve really never liked a kiss and tell all but you may find this Native_American_Indian_STOCK12_by_Lady_Timeless_STOCK_largeinteresting.  Vidal is opening up about a lot of his life including this narrative about meeting and doing Jack Kerouac.

“What did you and Jack do?” Allen Ginsberg asked Gore Vidal one cold January night in 1994.

“Well, I fucked him,” Vidal was pleased to reply. On the night of August 23, 1953, the two men of letters had banged one out in a Chelsea Hotel room following a Greenwich Village bar crawl. Kerouac published a fictionalized account of the assignation in The Subterraneans but, aside from a morning-after moment of “horrible recognition,” he left out the sex. Vidal was annoyed, and said so:

I challenged Jack. “Why did you, the tell-it-all-like-it-is writer, tell everything about that evening with Burroughs and me and then go leave out what happened when we went to bed?”

“I forgot,” he said. The once startlingly clear blue eyes were now bloodshot.

Palimpsest, the first of Gore Vidal’s two memoirs, fills in the lacuna with a detailed record of the evening’s events. It began with William S. Burroughs. Kerouac and Vidal had met before, and in a 1952 letter to Kerouac, Burroughs expressed interest in meeting the author of The Judgment of Paris:

Is Gore Vidal queer or not? Judging from the picture of him that adorns his latest opus I would be interested to make his acquaintance. Always glad to meet a literary gent in any case, and if the man of letters is young and pretty and possibly available my interest understandably increases.

imagesWe see so much violence today.  Yesterday, there were at least two more shootings on college campuses.  It’s good to remind ourselves that violence comes from anger, not mental illness since so many pro-gun fetishists want to blame everything but the guns and the anger.   We are a country filled with very angry people.

In the wake of a string of horrific mass shootings by people who in many cases had emotional problems, it has become fashionable to blame mental illness for violent crimes. It has even been suggested that these crimes justify not only banning people with a history of mental illness from buying weapons but also arming those without such diagnoses so that they may protect themselves from the dangerous mentally ill. This fundamentally
misrepresents where the danger lies.

Violence is not a product of mental illness. Nor is violence generally the action of ordinary, stable individuals who suddenly “break” and commit crimes of passion. Violent crimes are committed by violent people, those who do not have the skills to manage their anger. Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill. Violence is a product of compromised anger management skills.

In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, the reference book used by mental health professionals to assign diagnoses of mental illness, does very little to address anger. The one relevant diagnosis is intermittent explosive disorder, a disorder of anger management. People with IED tend to come from backgrounds in which they have been exposed to patterns of IED behavior, often from parents whose own anger is out of control. But the DSM does not provide a diagnostic category helpful for explaining how someone can, with careful advance planning, come to enter an elementary school, nursing home, theater, or government facility and indiscriminately begin to kill.

0da93ce18f0d4951d92d7bcc21ae9cbeWe came to know the conspiracy that was the Tobacco companies’ concealment of the link between illness and cigarette smoking.  We now find out that Exxon’s done similar studies and found connections between fossil fuels and climate change.  Like Big Tobacco, Exxon has concealed its findings.

The same thing has happened with climate change, as Inside Climate News, a nonprofit news organization, has been reporting in a series of articles based on internal documents from Exxon Mobil dating from the 1970s and interviews with former company scientists and employees.

Had Exxon been upfront at the time about the dangers of the greenhouse gases we were spewing into the atmosphere, we might have begun decades ago to develop a less carbon-intensive energy path to avert the worst impacts of a changing climate. Amazingly, politicians are still debating the reality of this threat, thanks in no small part to industry disinformation.

Government and academic scientists alerted policy makers to the potential threat of human-driven climate change in the 1960s and ’70s, but at that time climate change was still a prediction. By the late 1980s it had become an observed fact.

But Exxon was sending a different message, even though its own evidence contradicted its public claim that the science was highly uncertain and no one really knew whether the climate was changing or, if it was changing, what was causing it.

Exxon (which became Exxon Mobil in 1999) was a leader in these campaigns of confusion. In 1989, the company helped to create the Global Climate Coalition to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change and prevent the United States from signing on to the international Kyoto Protocol to control greenhouse gas emissions. The coalition disbanded in 2002, but the disinformation continued. Journalists and scientists have identified more than 30 different organizations funded by the company that have worked to undermine the scientific message and prevent policy action to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Too bad that our Congress is so divided between people that seek to govern and people that seek to overthrow our form of government to tackle the problems and issues head on.

So, that’s a little something from me.  What interesting things have you found today out there on the web?

Friday Reads: Hillary Clinton Takes On Wall Street

It’s Friday!!!

Things continue to be a little crazy around the kathouse but every time I read political news I feel as though the crazy contagion started from politicians and the media that obsess on them.  We’re getting close to 148402_600the first Democratic Presidential Debate so candidates and their proxies are dialing it up to 11.

Former Congressman Barney Frank is on the trail for Hillary Clinton.  He penned an op-ed at Politico at Politico in July in which he said progressives supporting Sanders are basically helping the GOP win.  He also questioned a return to Glass Steagall, as supported by Elizabeth Warren.

In the post, titled “Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie,” the former Massachusetts congressman urged Democratic primary voters to steer clear of his fellow New Englander, warning “wishful thinking won’t win the White House.”

Frank pointed to the gleeful cheerleading of Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton from neoconservatives like Bill Kristol to argue that Sanders only serves to weaken Clinton before her general election match-up. According to Frank, a Sanders candidacy — with his poll number steadily gaining on Clinton’s lead — would only distract from the circus that is the 15-person Republican primary.

You can find this quote and the rest of the article at Politico. 

I believe strongly that the most effective thing liberals and progressives can do to advance our public policy goals — on health care, immigration, financial regulation, reducing income inequality, completing the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination, protecting women’s autonomy in choices about reproduction and other critical matters on which the Democratic and Republican candidates for president will be sharply divided — is to help Clinton win our nomination early in the year. That way, she can focus on what we know will be a tough job: combating the flood of post- Citizens United right-wing money, in an atmosphere in which public skepticism about the effectiveness of public policy is high.

I realize that before explaining why I am convinced that a prolonged prenomination debate about the authenticity of Clinton’s support for progressive policy stances will do us more harm than good, that very point must be addressed. Without any substance, some argue that she has been insufficiently committed to economic and social reform — for example, that she is too close to Wall Street, and consequently soft on financial regulation, and unwilling to support higher taxation on the super-rich. This is wholly without basis. Well before the Sanders candidacy began to draw attention, she spoke out promptly in criticism of the appropriations rider that responded to the big banks’ wish list on derivative trading. She has spoken thoughtfully about further steps against abuses and in favor of taxing hedge funds at a fairer, i.e., higher, rate.

This is reflective of her role in the 1990s, when she was a consistent force for progressive policies in her husband’s administration. And as Paul Krugman documented throughout the 2008 nomination campaign, she was, on the whole, to Barack Obama’s left on domestic issues.

Barney Frank

On Wednesday, Politico published an article by Zachary Warmbrodt that describes how Frank is advising Hillary on her plan for dealing with Wall Street.

Frank told POLITICO on Wednesday that he has been working with campaign staff including Gary Gensler — a key ally in the eyes of Dodd-Frank supporters and often a foe of big banks during his time as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates derivatives markets.

“He was a major formulator in this plan,” Frank said of Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs partner and a Treasury Department official during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

The input of Frank and Gensler could help Clinton’s standing among Democrats aligned with Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, and allay any lingering concerns that Clinton would go easy on a sector that her husband helped deregulate before the 2007-09 crisis that prompted the passage of Dodd-Frank.

Frank had more to say about the notion of bringing back Glass-Steagall.

In Iowa on Tuesday, Clinton gave a brief preview of the direction of the plan, which she said would be released “in the next week.” Clinton was responding to a question about whether she would try to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banking activities — an idea backed by Warren and Clinton’s Democratic primary competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton said, “Big banks are not the only things we have to worry about.” She said she also wants to target risks among insurance companies, hedge funds and other entities in the so-called shadow banking sector. Clinton added that she was willing to work to change the law to make sure individuals are held accountable for financial wrongdoing.

“What she has proposed is in the spirit of Glass-Steagall but in contemporary terms,” Frank said. “The Glass-Steagall debate is an artificial debate at this point. It’s 85 years old. Most people can see if we had it in effect, it wouldn’t have stopped AIG. It wouldn’t stop subprime mortgages that shouldn’t have been granted.”

Today at Vox, Matthew Yglesias wrote that: Hillary Clinton’s plan to tame big banks shows her at her wonkish best.
Hillary Clinton has often stood accused of pandering or shaping policy proposals for political purposes, but her proposals for improving regulation of the financial system show her doing exactly the opposite — tackling the issue of mega-bank risk in a thoughtful way that is likely to prove politically thankless.

Her idea — not exactly optimized for a 15-second television spot — is to “charge a graduated risk fee every year on the liabilities of banks with more than $50 billion in assets and other financial institutions that are designed by regulators for enhanced oversight,” with fees scaled to be “higher for firms with greater amounts of debt and riskier, short-term forms of debt.”

It’s a mouthful. Banks will hate it. It doesn’t feature a crowd-pleasing, populist applause line. And it’s a pretty great idea.

Hillary Clinton’s risk fee, explained

The problem Clinton is trying to address here is that when a big bank goes bankrupt, it creates huge problems for the broader economy. Because of that, governments have a tendency to prevent big banks from going bankrupt.

And because of that, big banks have a tendency to engage in a riskier pattern of business than you see from other kinds of companies. All companies spend money to make money, but banks finance a much larger share of their spending with borrowed money (as opposed to retained profits) than you see from non-banks. And many banks rely very heavily on short-term borrowing, and fund ongoing operations by counting on their ability to get new short-term loans tomorrow. Financing investments with debt magnifies profits when your bets pay off, but it also magnifies losses when they don’t. Using short-term debt rather than long-term debt lets you pay lower interest rates, but also exposes you to the possibility of unexpectedly finding yourself unable to get the money you need in an emergency situation. Both tendencies magnify risk.

Clinton is proposing to clamp down on those risks by imposing a tax on bank debt.

That compensates the public for the financial cost of bailouts and the social cost of bank failures, while also creating new incentives for banks to manage their affairs in a less risky manner.

Read the rest at the link for more wonky goodness.


Hillary’s plans for Wall Street demonstrate the progressive values she has always had. If you watched TV last night, you probably saw the talking heads carrying on about Hillary’s so-called flip-flops on the Keystone Pipeline and the TPP. The problems these folks have is that they have assume that Hillary and Bill are basically the same person with the same political views. They also refuse to understand that when Hillary was Secretary of State she was working for Obama and had to carry out his policies. Now she’s on her own, and she’s expressing her own views–not Bill Clinton’s or Obama’s.

There’s a great post by Peter Daou at Hillary Men about this: TPP to KXL to WTF! Heads Explode as Hillary Goes Progressive. I hope you’ll read the whole thing. It is a wonderful reflection on how Daou came to be such a strong Hillary supporter and how he came to understand that she is a true progressive. Here’s the conclusion:

In the years I worked for her and in the time since, nothing I saw or heard dissuaded me from my first impression: Hillary is a progressive at heart. I’m perfectly aware that anything she does and any position she takes will get savaged by her detractors, but as a lifelong progressive, I know I’m supporting the candidate who is the most capable of anyone in America to advance the things I care most deeply about. Not Bernie Sanders, who I admire greatly; not Joe Biden, who I also like and respect. Certainly none of the out-of-touch and dangerously narrow-minded Republicans. For that matter, not Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.

Hillary will make an exceptional president. On women’s rights alone, her impact will be history-changing. As the father of a young girl (born during the 2008 campaign), nothing matters more to me.

I’ll conclude with a pithy observation from Lane Hudson, another blogger friend from the early days:

The same people criticizing Hillary for taking a position opposing Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal are the same people who wanted a Warren or Sanders challenge to pull her to the Left.

It’s going to be fun watching the Villagers’ heads explode as Hillary reveals more and more of her true, liberal self.

 What stories are you following today?

Thursday Reads: Authenticity and Politics


Good Morning!!

Yesterday J.J. posted an article from Vox by Andrew Prokop that discussed the Politico article about Joe Biden that I blogged about on Tuesday and the idiotic obsession the media has with politicians and authenticity.

Imagine how the press would react if Hillary Clinton did what Joe Biden just did.

Since Joe Biden has been weighing a run for president, members of the press have repeatedly praised him for his “authenticity.” This has largely been in contrast to Hillary Clinton, who is frequently pilloried by the media as secretive and calculating, and has its members yearning for a more natural candidate. “With Joe Biden, what you see is what you get,” Mike Barnicle wrote for the Daily Beast.

Even the anecdotes about Biden’s political calculations have portrayed him as a conflicted, grieving father. On August 1, New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd narrated a heart-wrenching private moment that occurred among the Biden family. Dowd wrote that the vice president’s dying son Beau, his face “partially paralyzed,” sat down with his “anguished” father and urged him to run for president — “arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”

Dowd’s column was extremely vague about how she got this information, but it kick-started the buzz that Biden might really be serious about a 2016 campaign, which is still going strong this week.

Now it turns out that her source — according to a report by Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere today — was Joe Biden himself.

authentic def

As Prokop points out, if Hillary had done this, she would be “ripped to shreds.” But Prokop’s main point is that all politicians are inherently calculating, trying to present themselves to the public in the best light.

Some politicians — like Biden and John McCain (particularly in 2000) — are deemed to be genuine individuals, while others — Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Mitt Romney — are viewed as calculating, contrived phonies.

The rationale for these judgments differs from candidate to candidate. They could involve flip-flops on issues, real or perceived dishonesty, or even just wooden campaign styles.

But frequently, “authenticity” seems to be a synonym for “better at working the press” or “more fun to cover.” The candidates who are more extroverted and freewheeling and less scripted — and those who joke with the press and give them lots of access — tend to get that label.

It’s an odd construct. The campaign trail is not in any sense a “natural” environment, and presidential contenders’ words could have very real consequences — it makes sense for a candidate to be guarded and careful about what he or she says. But reporters get bored covering candidates who give the same stump speech all the time, and yearn for more excitement in their lives.

Importantly, once a candidate gets the “authentic” label, his (it’s usually “his”) flip-flops, calculations and strategic acts are excused, or at least viewed as unrelated to his true character.


Prokop refers to an October 1 column by Brian Nyhan: Hillary Clinton’s Authenticity Problem, and Ours.

Is Hillary Rodham Clintonnot presenting her true self to voters? As with candidates like Mitt Romney and Al Gore, claims that she is inauthentic have fueled endless cycles of negative coverage of her campaign.

In reality, all politicians are strategic about the image and behaviors they present to voters. Some just hide the artifice better than others.

The refrain that Mrs. Clinton is calculating and inauthentic has recurred throughout her political career. During this campaign cycle, reporters and columnists have already questioned who the “Real Hillary” is, said that she “wrestles with the authenticity issue,” and described just being herself on the campaign trail as “a tricky proposition.” The Daily Beast’s Mike Barnicle reflected the conventional wisdom in writing that the “nagging question” that “won’t go away” is “Who is she? Really, who is she?”

Nyhan also points out that once the media has labeled a politician as either “authentic” or “inauthentic,” this perception is set in stone and can never be altered.

Once these narratives develop, candidates like Mrs. Clinton can get stuck in what I’ve called the authenticity doom loop — the same fate that plagued Mr. Gore and Mr. Romney. In this phase, candidates are criticized for not being sufficiently authentic and urged to reveal their true selves. But any efforts to demonstrate authenticity prompt the news media to point out that the candidate is acting strategically and is therefore actually still inauthentic. This coverage in turn motivates further efforts to reveal the “real” person, and the pattern then repeats.

Mrs. Clinton has gone through this cycle many times, which leads to headlines like “The Making of Hillary 5.0” and “Re-re-re-introducing Hillary Clinton.” Consider, for instance, a recent column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who criticized her for “the latest of many warm-and-fuzzy makeovers — perhaps the most transparent phoniness since Al Gore discovered earth tones.” He calls for Mrs. Clinton to “shed those who orchestrate these constant makeovers” so she can “be spontaneous — and regain some semblance of her authentic self.”


I think it’s a bit much to compare Hillary with Mitt Romney or Al Gore. She’s not “wooden” except to people who already hate her and just accept the decisions of the pundits. Hillary comes across as genuine to people who have open minds. I saw this happen in 2008 in New Hampshire and in a number of important swing states. I think it’s mainly the media who hold onto this perception of her. She is just going to have to be tough and fight through it–expecting nothing but negativity from most of the media.

Fortunately, there are some writers who know Hillary well and view her in a positive light. Here’s Gene Lyons on the recent admission by Rep. Kevin McCarthy that the Benghazi select committee has never been anything except a way to lower Hillary’s poll numbers.

The Death Rattle Of A Fake Scandal.

To hardly anybody’s surprise, it turns out that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” has been right in front of our eyes. Always was, actually, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s politically disastrous on-air admission made plain. Or maybe you thought a seventh Benghazi investigation lasting as long as the Pearl Harbor and JFK assassination probes combined was exactly what America needed.

Hillary has already released an ad in response to McCarthy’s admission.

She has also agreed to testify before the committee this month. If she does testify, Lyons warns the committee’s chairman Trey Gowdy that he’s not likely to get what he wants from her.

Chairman Gowdy would be well advised to invest in a pair of super-absorbent Depends when Hillary testifies before his committee on October 22. All he’s got is a handful of long-disproved conspiracy theories and selectively edited witness transcripts leaked to the news media to create a false impression.

So he’s an ex-federal prosecutor. Whoop-de-doo. Arkansas was overrun with them during the late Whitewater investigation….

As the Washington Post‘s GOP-oriented columnist Kathleen Parker points out, Rep. McCarthy has “tried to cram the bad genie back into the bottle, but the damage has been done and can’t be undone….any previous suspicions that Republicans were just out to get Clinton have cleared the bar of reasonable doubt.”

Meanwhile, if Trey Gowdy doesn’t already know that Hillary Clinton’s a lot smarter and tougher than he is, he’s about to find out. Truthfully, they’d be better advised to fold the committee and file some weasel-worded report.


Lyons has a few choice words for the media too:

Then there’s our esteemed national news media, repeatedly burned by inaccurate leaks from Gowdy’s committee. The New York Times has run one phony exclusive after another. First, her famous emails were illegal, except they’re not. Then they were contrary to regulations enacted, oops, 18 months after she left office. Next Hillary was the subject of an FBI criminal probe. Except that too turned out to be false. Now they’re making a big deal out of the exact date she changed email addresses. Seriously.

And why? Because as Bill Clinton recently explained to Fareed Zakaria, they’re essentially fops and courtiers, “people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns of rural America.”

Let the Villagers call Hillary “inauthentic.” They’ve been doing it since Bill Clinton first ran for President, and they’re not going to stop. She just has to go out and talk directly to voters and let them judge whether she’s a real, genuine individual. I believe she can win this thing despite the tired old media narratives.


A few more headlines:

It looks like Jeb Bush has been dubbed “inauthentic” by the media too. From Politico: Jeb Bush’s identity crisis.

Here’s an old Politico story on Biden that I got from the Vox piece on authenticity: Ex-Biden aide pens angry tell-all.

Have you heard? Hillary has a close circle of friends and advisers who will ruin her chances to be President. Vanity Fair: How Hillary Clinton’s Loyal Confidants Could Cost Her the Election

Here’s something from AbeBooks for J.J., Beata, and anyone else who loves vintage Hollywood photos.

An important, heartbreaking article from The Guardian about Amanda Kimbrough, the woman in Alabama who has been imprisoned for having a stillbirth: Alone in Alabama: dispatches from an inmate jailed for her son’s stillbirth.

George Zornick at The Nation: Hillary Clinton Just Made Passage of the TPP Much More Difficult.

Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair: Why Donald Trump Will Always Be a “Short-Fingered Vulgarian.”

Ben Carson had a gun stuck in his ribs at Popeye’s, according to The Hill: Carson: I faced a gunman.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.

Wednesday Reads: Huff and Puff and Blow


Good Morning

Isn’t she beautiful?

What is it about old Cubano ladies smoking some big ass cigars?

c0c4fa6d9b127c60feca87f0488104ddAnyway, it has been a busy couple of days, so this is just going to be a link dump.

Let’s start with the political bullshit:

Tennessee county seeks protection from God’s wrath over same sex marriage – CNN.com

The Blount County Commission has a full agenda planned at its meeting tonight: Deal with budget issues. Restructure committees. Approve a resolution condemning judicial tyranny.

And petition God’s mercy.

c8798b40751b34193064ddab78022993Apparently some in Blount — a county of 122,00 people, just south of Knoxville — still aren’t happy about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this summer that legalized same sex marriage nationwide.

So, Commissioner Karen Miller has sponsored a resolution that both slams the Supreme Court and begs for God to spare the county when He eventually, goes the reasoning of the resolution, destroys America over same sex marriage.

I guess that bullshit should be spelled with a capital “B”?

84db91e7b7f5f70168cf5979e6dfff7eWe adopt this Resolution before God that He pass us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our County as He did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities,” Miller’s proposal reads.

Apparently no one in Blount County government is going the Kim Davis route and actively trying to stop same-sex marriages from taking place. But the resolution makes clear that some in the county feel they’re being forced to go along with something that’s sinful.

aed97f27e90d3d89871465048202155cGeez, this is fucking 2015 people! It is crazy.

How the Media Inspires Mass Shooters | Mother Jones

Since the 1980s, forensic investigators have found examples of mass killers emulating their most famous predecessors. Now, there is growing evidence that the copycat problem is far more serious than is generally understood. Ever since the 1999 massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been studying what motivates people to carry out these crimes. Earlier this year, I met with supervisory special agent Andre Simons, who until recently led a team of agents and psychology experts who assist local authorities in heading off violent attacks e7a1d083c158a9fd78d5f9413d419a6faround the country, using a strategy known as threat assessment. Since 2012, according to Simons, the FBI’s unit has taken on more than 400 cases—and has found evidence of the copycat effect rippling through many of them.

Evidence amassed by the FBI and other threat assessment experts shows that perpetrators and plotters look to past attacks both for inspiration and operational details, in hopes of causing even greater carnage. Would-be attackers frequently emulate the Columbine massacre; one high-level law enforcement agent told me that he’s encountered dozens of students around the country who say they admire the Columbine killers. 618e9184a81dfaa9e4ad55228efec4a2“Some of these kids now weren’t even born when that happened,” he said. The 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech and other attacks that generated major publicity have also spawned many copycats, according to several law enforcement officials….

Very interesting indeed. Please give that a full read. Makes me think of the old west, in a way…the gunfighters, who would have younger guns always gunning after them to outdo them, to get that renowned price on their head. Notoriety. Become a legend. Get their names in the papers…get their faces printed on a wanted poster.

78d9c5db154f99098099c6afa09aeb43Or, in the case of batshit crazy politicians, Florida Senate candidate admits to sacrificing goat, drinking its blood – Orlando Sentinel I really don’t know what the hell they want to gain from admitting to something like that.

Two years ago, Augustus Sol Invictus walked from central Florida to the Mojave Desert and spent a week fasting and praying, at times thinking he wouldn’t survive. In a pagan ritual to give thanks when he returned home, he killed a goat and drank its blood.

Now that he’s a candidate for U.S. Senate, the story is coming back to bite him.

a910ad01c0d330ebb323ea2c1917eab1The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida has resigned to call attention to Invictus’ candidacy in hopes that other party leaders will denounce him. Adrian Wyllie, who was the Libertarian candidate for governor last year, says Invictus wants to lead a civil war, is trying to recruit neo-Nazis to the party and brutally and sadistically dismembered a goat.

It’s an awkward situation for the small party that’s trying to gain clout.

“He is the absolute exact opposite of a Libertarian. He’s a self-proclaimed fascist. He’s promoting a second civil war,” Wyllie said. “It’s absolute insanity. We must explain to people this is the opposite of Libertarians. This guy has no place in the Libertarian Party.”

cc7ac33349b0ad857b7c5daec0644404Have you all heard about this dude? He changed his name to Invictus. Laugh, it is true. Yeah.

Invictus, a 32-year-old lawyer who changed his given name — which he declines to reveal — to a Latin phrase that means “majestic unconquered sun,” says Wyllie is just running a smear campaign and is twisting his words into lies. No, he says, he’s not a white supremacist, pointing out his four children are Hispanic — though he acknowledges that some white supremacists support his campaign. No, he says he isn’t trying to start a civil war, but he says the government already is at war with its citizens and that it’s certain to escalate.

ba4e9853f4ac1dce3607282d0ec0fa5dHe is not a white supremacist, because he has “spic” oops, I mean Hispanic children…who does that remind you of? Zimmerman? I bet Georgie boy is one of Invictus greatest supporters.

Okay, more bullshit:

Oath Keepers call for Waffle House boycott after KY guardsman told to leave gun outside following fight

Oath Keepers are calling for a boycott of Waffle House over its ban on guns.

The boycott was prompted when employees at a Kentucky franchise asked a uniformed National Guard member to leave his weapon outside after employees recognized him as a participant in a fight inside the eatery.

5f969bd0ba50eb0dc4a65f5e1fcda133“I don’t feel comfortable taking my firearm away from me,” guardsman Billy Welch told WLEX-TV. “I always keep it with me and they said, ‘It’s one of our policies.’”

Welch said he wouldn’t eat there without his gun, so he left — and a witness described the incident in a viral Facebook post.

The restaurant owner said the gun ban had been in place for years, and he believes the policy keeps his customers safe, but he said the ban is loosely enforced for military members.

5388c60985ed540b16189d1493412711The Oath Keepers, however, don’t feel safe at any Waffle House without their guns, so they want to make an example out of the restaurant chain in hopes of forcing other businesses to let them carry their guns.

“Waffle House would actually be a great candidate to single out and make an example of,” said David Codrea, an Oath Keeper and pro-gun blogger. “If they dig their heels in and go belly-up, who cares? And if they end up doing the right thing, it will be an in-your-face victory that’ll cause a very public Demanding MILM hysterical meltdown.”

5ad803509a77fb58a1929f26fde3a10aMILM is an acronym for “mother I’d like to meet,” which is apparently a slightly less sexualized “MILF” reference to the anti-gun group Moms Demand Action — which Codrea frequently targets with complaints.

Now, these assholes want to boycott Waffle House.  Like that is going to bring down this restaurant chain?

85aaad755c23827959a607faf1f87e81These are the same restaurants that are used by FEMA to gauge disasters…it actually has a name. The Waffle House Index.

Waffle House Index

The Waffle House Index is an informal metric used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine the impact of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. The measure is based on the reputation of the Waffle House restaurant chain for staying open during extreme weather and for reopening quickly, albeit sometimes with a limited menu, after very severe weather events such as tornados or hurricanes. The term was coined by FEMA 08c8d5b2320f41b9af8433a7c252bcbfAdministrator Craig Fugate in May 2011, following the 2011 Joplin tornado; the two Waffle House restaurants in Joplin remained open after the EF5multiple-vortex tornado struck the city on May 22.[1][2] According to Fugate, “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”[3]

The Index has three levels, based on the extent of operations and service at the restaurant following a storm:[3]

  • Green: the restaurant is serving a full menu, indicating the restaurant has power and damage is limited.
  • 574f4d6857bbdf804755ff209d411051Yellow: the restaurant is serving a limited menu, indicating there may be no power or only power from a generator or food supplies may be low.
  • Red: the restaurant is closed, indicating severe damage.

13b74b7fee3ac5d8a63f9cccec69c463It was even used recently in South Carolina: Measuring the Charleston storm by the Waffle House Index | Eat | Charleston City Paper

Many metrics will be tossed around in the next week measuring the damages Charleston’s weekend storm produced, but the one we’re interested in here on the Cuisine blog is the Waffle House Index. Yes, that’s a real thing.


There was no answer at the FEMA news desk, so we cut to the chase and contacted Wilson White, the district manager for Charleston’s Waffle Houses to see how we fared. The Lowcountry, he says, was a level green.b913723d174b5e480d97f0be8bf2872f

“We have 24 Waffle Houses in our district — that’s from Beaufort to Sumter — and I think only one closed due to a little flooding,” says White. According to White, the Waffle House in Ladson saw the flooding, but got back up and running fast.

In order to stay operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, White says Waffle House has Jump Teams or groups of employees who will come from another area to help staff up. In the case of the storm this weekend, 17 employees came up from Savannah to Charleston, 16 employees traveled from Atlanta to Columbia, and 36 senior vice presidents in Atlanta for a corporate meeting are flying into Columbia today to help out.

885c4672ac87959a8ae4fb419a506209“One of the things we explain to interviewees is that we do our best to serve customers year round. We work every holiday. We’re always open,” says White. Sometimes that means getting employees hotel rooms during severe weather, “so they can sleep, then come back to work,” he says, or having managers give workers rides to work.

“We always make sure it’s safe,” White adds. “Our goal is to serve our community when they have no place else to eat.”

Colbert had a segment on The Waffle House Index:

c1099f9717bd36179e3daba5ae4dfa25FEMA’s Waffle House Index – Video Clip | Comedy Central

Waffle House becomes FEMA’s syrup-smothered canary in a coalmine, which is also available on their menu. (3:53)

More crazy now, let us look more at these stories:

New Analysis Ranks Presidential Candidates By Their Supporters’ Grammar | ThinkProgress

Oregon shooter’s mother wrote about guns in online forum | Miami Herald

I also read somewhere that she is a Trump supporter. (I will find the link.)

79a2163e73551438f42c55a577d8516bImagine how the press would react if Hillary Clinton did what Joe Biden just did – Vox

Mapping the United Swears of America – Strong Language

 Wait, back to the news links:

Woman in Hmong community breaks code of silence to report ‘rape and forced marriage’ | Americas | News | The Independent

Glass walkway suspended 3,540 feet above ground cracks under tourists’ feet

Why funerals are the new weddings | Fay Schopen | Comment is free | The Guardian

1fc70783791c310bdaba2d947491bd42That is not a joke, the answer is the cost of the damn funeral.

Kitty Genovese’s Brother Reëxamines Her Famous Murder – The New Yorker

From political bullshit to science stuff:

Decapitated toddler has head reattached by surgeons after car accident | Australasia | News | The Independent

4b07d76e83e1de401719f0a89fe1c2c1Optics: The True Nature of Light – Al Jazeera English

Asteroid targeted by explosive space mission named – Al Jazeera English

Wildlife flourishing in Chernobyl says science study – (But they glow green…) NY Daily News

Sneezing monkey, ‘walking’ fish found in Himalayas: WWF

Thousands of photos by Apollo astronauts now on Flickr

And lastly:

50 Amazing Puns From Past Pun Competitions | Mental Floss

I asked a horse if he had a dollar. He said “no, but I have fore quarters.”

 This is an open thread.

Tuesday Reads

Canoe, Eric Vanasse

Canoe, Eric Vanasse

Good Morning!!

I’ve been so busy helping my Mom for the past few days that I haven’t been able to keep up with the news as much as I usually do. Fortunately Mom is doing well, and I plan to get back home before Halloween. I did have jury duty scheduled on October 20, but I was able to postpone it until next May. I want to avoid having it fall during a snowstorm or when the roads are really bad. I really hope the coming winter won’t be as bad in Boston as it was last year, but you never know.

Look at what’s going on down in South Carolina. The Washington Post has a helpful explanatory article on it: The meteorology behind South Carolina’s catastrophic, 1,000-year rainfall event.

The rains are tapering off in South Carolina after a disastrous weekend that brought over two feet of rain and catastrophic flooding. Dams have been breached, rivers are at record flood stage, homes and cars are filled with water and multiple people have been reported dead in the disaster.

Authorities in South Carolina on Monday urged people to stay home if it was safe to do so, saying that flooding was expected to continue in more than half the state for several days. On Sunday, authorities responded to hundreds of reports of trees in roadways and hundreds of reports of flooded roads. Tens of thousands of sandbags were used by state and local agencies, while a stretch of Interstate 95 was shut down and traffic rerouted. Overnight, several cities and counties declared curfews, while others have declared states of emergency….

According to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, South Carolina’s torrential weekend rain has well surpassed a 1,000-year rainfall event — one that, on average, we would expect to see about every 1,000 years. A three-day, 1,000-year rainfall event for Charleston County would have been 17.1 inches. A four-day, 1,000-year event would have been 17.5 inches. Boones Farm Plantation, just north of Mount Pleasant, in Charleston County, reported more than 24 inches of rain through Sunday morning, which essentially blows NOAA’s 1,000-year events scale out of the water.

Apocalypse Wave, Paul Cumes

Apocalypse Wave, Paul Cumes

So this must have been caused by Hurricane Joaquin, right?

Hurricane Joaquin did play an indirect role in South Carolina’s weekend deluge, but there’s much more to this meteorological story.

As Hurricane Joaquin tracked north, well east of the coast, a separate, non-tropical low pressure system was setting up shop over the Southeast late last week. This system drew in a deep, tropical plume of water vapor off the tropical Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, this upper-level low pressure system tapped into the moist outflow of Hurricane Joaquin.

The moisture pipeline fed directly into a pocket of intense uplift on the northern side of the non-tropical vortex. Within this dynamic “sweet spot,” thunderstorms established a training pattern, passing repeatedly over the same location and creating a narrow corridor of torrential rain stretching from Charleston to the southern Appalachians.

The remarkable thing about this process is that it was sustained for three days.

Read much more at the link. Gee, you don’t suppose this has anything to do with global climate change, do you? Naaaaah.

Doctors Without Borders hospital before the bombing

Doctors Without Borders hospital before the bombing

The U.S. military and the Obama administration are having a hard time explaining why they bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan over the weekend. The Washington Post reports:

A heavily-armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend, Pentagon officials said Monday.

The attack occurred in the middle of the night Saturday, when Afghan troops—together with a U.S. special forces team training and advising them—were on the ground near the hospital in Kunduz, the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began in 2001. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Monday the airstrike was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire, contradicting earlier statements from Pentagon officials that the strike was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.

The new details of the attack, and the continuing dispute over what exactly happened, heightened the controversy over the strike. In the two days since the incident, U.S. officials have struggled to explain how a U.S. aircraft wound up attacking a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. On Monday, the medical humanitarian group said the United States was squarely responsible.

“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” Doctors Without Borders’ general director Christopher Stokes said in a statement. “With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”

The weekend’s disastrous airstrike reinforces doubts about how effectively a limited U.S. force in Afghanistan can work with Afghan troops to repel the Taliban, which has been newly emboldened as the United States draws down its presence.

The strike also comes as the Obama administration is currently weighing whether to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2015, according to senior officials. Obama has not made a final decision on the proposal, but the recent advances by the Taliban have certainly complicated the president’s calculus.

Kunduz Hospital after the bombing.

Kunduz Hospital after the bombing.

The truth is that US forces have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East, but most of them didn’t have the cachet and the ability to engage the media that Doctors Without Borders does. Unfortunately, the administration’s explanations for the strike on the hospital have been all over the place. Also well worth reading is Amy Davidson’s column at The New Yorker: Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz.

Dakinikat had a great post on guns and gun control yesterday. I didn’t have time to read it carefully until this morning, so naturally gun stories caught my eye when I started to look at today’s news. There’s never any shortage of tragic stories involving guns. The worst ones are incidents in which children kill children.

From NBC News: Tennessee Boy, 11, Charged With Killing Girl After Argument Over Puppies.

An 11-year-old Tennessee boy was charged with shooting an 8-year-old girl to death with a 12-gauge shotgun after an argument over puppies Saturday, NBC affiliate WBIR reported.

A neighbor told the station that the girl, MaKayla Dyer, had been playing with neighbors on Saturday night in White Pine, outside Knoxville.

She started talking with the boy, who has not been identified, through an open window at his home.

“He asked the little girl to see her puppies,” the neighbor, Chasity Atwood, told WBID. “She said no and laughed and then turned around, looked at her friend and said, ‘Let’s go get the — ‘ and never got ‘puppies’ out.”

The boy had already shot her in the chest.

Dyer was transported to Morristown-Hamblen Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The boy is being held in juvenile court on charges of first-degree murder.

gun violence

This kid had access to a loaded shotgun in his home? What the hell is wrong with his parents?

In Ohio, an 11-year-old South Carolina boy accidentally shot and killed his 12-year old brother. CantonRep.com reports:

A 12-year-old South Carolina boy was fatally shot Friday in what authorities say was an accident during a target-shooting outing.

The victim was identified as Joseph Baily of More, South Carolina. The shooting occurred in the 8400 block of Bay Road in Carroll County’s Lee Township, southeast of Carrollton.

“It was an accident,” county Sheriff Dale Williams said Monday. “It (shooter) was a juvenile. It was a brother. His brother was 11 years old.” ….
“They were actually target shooting,” Carroll County Coroner Mandal Haas said. “They were visiting a friend they knew here in Ohio. This was real ammunition. It was a head wound.”

The weapon was a handgun.

“The 11-year-old picked up a weapon off of a picnic table,” Sheriff Williams said. “He accidentally shot it.”

While the shooting was accidental, Carroll County authorities, however, could file criminal charges. Those charges could be filed against who ever failed to secure the weapon.

Looking down the barrel of a gun, Adam Mysock

Looking down the barrel of a gun, Adam Mysock

Too little, too late. And check this one out from Georgia. CBS46.com Atlanta: Road rage suspect points gun at car, police let him go free.

A motorcycle driver who was caught on camera pulling out a gun and pointing it at another driver Sunday was allowed to go free, and a witness wants to know why.

It happened on State Highway 54 in Coweta County near the Fayette County line. To the man who captured the incident on his private dashboard camera, it looked like an incident of road rage, plain and simple.

The witness who recorded the video is a former Georgia police officer. CBS46 News is protecting his identity because of the nature of his current work. He said it’s his opinion that the motorcycle driver put everyone near him in danger.  If the rider felt threatened, it appeared he had the power to get away from the situation, the witness said.

“Drawing a firearm, in just about every case, should be an absolute last resort.  It seems like it was this guy’s first resort,” said the witness.

The witness followed the motorcycle while on the phone with 911 and helped police catch up with him. The rider was put in handcuffs, but in a surprise move, Coweta County Sheriff’s deputies decided to let him go.

“This guy is college-age.  We know what just happened in Oregon. How do you not take a firearm out of the hand of a guy who’s going to behave this way- who’s going to act this reckless?” asked the witness.

So what was their reason for not arresting him?  The witness said deputies told him they didn’t think the people in the black car would be in town to testify at the first appearance in court.  It’s an excuse the former police officer said he’s not buying.

Nice. The guy who got off scot-free could be the next mass murderer.

Stop Child Killing painting

Stop Child Killing painting

But what about when gun victims are shot by the police? Ordinarily, I don’t agree with Connor Friedersdorf, but he has a great piece in The Atlantic: Police in California Killed More Than 610 People Over 6 Years.

The ACLU of Southern California has been working to understand how many people have been killed by law enforcement in America’s most populous state. What they found is alarming. Over a six-year period that ended in 2014, California’s Department of Justice recorded 610 instances of law enforcement committing homicide “in the process of arrest.”

That figure is far from perfect. It excludes some homicides in 2014 that are still being investigated. And it understates the actual number of people killed by police officers and sheriffs deputies in other ways. For example, after Dante Parker was mistaken for a criminal, stunned with a Taser at least 25 times, hog-tied face down, and denied medical care, California authorities classified his death as “accidental.”

Still, the official number is 610 homicides attributed to law enforcement “in the process of arrest.”

Officially, 608 are classified as justified. Just two are officially considered unjustified. In one unjustified killing, there’s video of a policeman shooting Oscar Grant in the head as he lay face down in a BART station. In the other, there is extended video of police brutally beating a mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas, to death.

Officially speaking, only police officers who were being filmed killed people in unjustified ways. Whether law enforcement performs less professionally when cameras are rolling is unclear. But it seems more likely that the spread of digital-recording technology will reveal that unjust killings are more common than was previously thought.

Read the rest of this important article at the link.

I’ll end with a couple of political stories. Politico has an exclusive on Joe Biden this morning: Biden himself leaked word of his son’s dying wish.


Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.

Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.

According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because “the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”

It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.

But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.

What an a-hole.

By every account of those surrounding Biden, Beau is constantly on his father’s mind. But so are Clinton’s poll numbers — and his own, as the vice president notes in private details, such as the crosstab data that show him drawing more support from Clinton than Bernie Sanders. So is the prospect of what it would mean to run against a candidate who would make history as the first female nominee, and potentially first female president. So is knowing that the filing deadlines are quickly closing in and that he almost certainly has to decide in roughly the next week to make even a seat-of-the-pants campaign possible.

“Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that’s what it is,” said one person who’s recently spoken to Biden about the prospect of running. “The head is further down the road than the heart is.”

Ugh. There’s plenty more disgusting stuff at Politco, including some tidbits about Biden’s “secret” meeting with Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump

Finally, the king of a-holes continues to act unpresidential. From Business Insider:

Real-estate developer Donald Trump took his feud with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) to a rather unique place this week, sending a gag gift to Rubio’s presidential campaign office.

According to CNN, Trump’s campaign sent Rubio a “a care package” on Monday containing a 24-pack case of “Trump Ice” bottled water, two “Make America Great Again” towels, and a note that said: “Since you’re always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!”

As much as I can’t stand Rubio, Trump is the worst of the worst.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!