Sunday Reads: With a Face Like a Baboon’s…

4909b9572278555f69601692965f7419Good Sunday!

Hey, Dakinikat and Boston Boomer went local the last couple of days, so I am going to take this opportunity to do the same. Only this is not going to be a whole post on the crazy ass happenings of Banjoville. It will only be a few links about a story making world headlines from my hometown of Tampa, Florida. In fact…it is specifically about the parents of my childhood arch nemesis…a girl named “Jonele”…who I once told way back in fourth grade, at Tampa Bay Elementary School, in Mrs. de la Parte’s class…that she had a face like a baboon’s ass. (When you see the picture of her mother…whom she favored especially through the eyes and nose…you will see the resemblance is striking.)

Anyway, I remember when Jonele’s parents completely remodeled their house. It was redecorated in South American style…it looked like a big expensive Mexican style veranda, with the open area and orange-red tile floors. Something the mother had seen while on vacation…I remember it so well…her mother talking about it during Jonele’s birthday party, as she was showing people the little Mayan-like statues she got from her trip.

There is a reason for all this buildup.

I don’t know why Jonele was the bitch she was…or why she seem to pick on me. But she did, and I couldn’t stand it.

450cd893db0aacf541de5557041d02d8I had only spent 2nd and 3rd grade dealing with her shit on a daily basis, that face she would give me…the look. Damn. How she would make me cry. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to school, I would fake being sick, until I got the balls to finally tell her off that day…in the hallway, just outside the door as we were walking into Mrs. de la Parte’s fourth grade class. It was magnificent. And other kids heard me too…from that point on I stood up for myself, and I stood up for other people too…no matter what.

I guess Baboon Face gave me the ability to voice my convictions. I had always been loud and demanding as a kid, but when it came to bullies…that was another matter. Thankfully Jonele empowered me that day…we never became friends. In fact my senior yearbook still has the word bitch written across her face…but the point is that she did have some positive impact on my life, and for that I say…thank you…you bullying  baboon faced shitass bitch.

And now the news story…by the way…it also hits a bitter note because of the BoA business too.

Bank of America ordered to pay Tampa family $1 million for harassing calls | Tampa Bay Times

Joyce and Nelson Coniglio sit with attorney David Mitchell, left, after they won a $1 million judgment against Bank of America.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Joyce and Nelson Coniglio sit with attorney David Mitchell, left, after they won a $1 million judgment against Bank of America.

For four years, Joyce and Nelson Coniglio were haunted by these words:

240d537df7141f1f9e20a6309aef1c91This is Bank of America calling.
Oh…yeah…I’ve heard those same words. So did my parents. Ugh…I fucking can’t stand these people. Still.

The calls started in 2009 when B of A took over the mortgage the Coniglios used to buy a second home in their Tampa Heights neighborhood. They quickly fell behind.

On their second home no less…

The bank called, the family said, while they tried to get the loan modified. B of A called even after the cease-and-desist letters. There were hundreds of robocalls, sometimes five a day.

In July, the Coniglios sued in federal court to stop the harassment. Three months later, they won — by default judgment. B of A missed the deadline to oppose the lawsuit.

Now the bank owes the Coniglios more than $1 million.

1cf0f63d987c7b49ba3bd7d4acd77916One of the family’s attorneys, John Anthony, said he’s trying to collect right now.

“Unlike Bank of America,” he said, “we’re only going to call them once.”

You know, why do some people always seem to “luck” out?

The Coniglios are both 69 and have been married for 45 years.

Joyce Coniglio spent 44 years teaching at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School. Nelson Coniglio was a trucker. In 1999 he pleaded guilty to federal charges for piloting drugs and money for a Tampa ring operating in Colombia.

The couple live in Tampa Heights, on a block surrounded by relatives. In 2006, the Conigilios bought a second home in the neighborhood for $180,000, according to records.

They didn’t have a plan for the house. Maybe another relative could use it. Maybe they would downsize. All the Coniglios knew was, they could afford it.

Then the recession hit, and so did B of A .

I don’t know, seems like they are well connected to me…

You can read the rest of the story at the link. But the thing that gets me is Nelson plead guilty for trafficking drugs and money, and here he is…winner of a million dollar lawsuit from Bank of America. There is a quote from Nelson in the article that reads:

When the bank took over the mortgage, the family said it imposed a more expensive homeowner’s insurance policy on them, doubling their payments to $2,800 a month.

“Everything changed,” Nelson Coniglio said. “Our incomes go down, our bills go up. It’s the American way.”

Uh, well…you fly in drugs and money for the mob, you get charged with a federal crime, and then you wind up winning a million dollars. (If you are white.) Then yes…it is the American Way.

Yes, I am a bitter bitch about this story and these people who got to stick it to BoA. Of all the poor people who have been through the same thing as the Coniglios, and that includes me and my family, why couldn’t the big win go to a more deserving set of BoA customers.

On with the rest of today’s links, starting with the connection to the images you will see (Not baboons):

The delicate material that takes months to weave by hand

Bangladesh is often associated with cheap clothes produced for the mass market, but the delicate and much more expensive jamdani fabric is also made here. The people who weave the material are highly sought-after employees.

Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari

On the banks of the River Lakshya – just outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital – the sun is heating the tiny corrugated iron factory I am standing in to oven-like temperatures.

Inside, under a string of bare light bulbs, six master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking a sweat at their bamboo looms.

The men are shirtless. The women wear neon-coloured salwar kameez – a traditional South Asian garment. All of them rest their arms on cheap white cotton, protecting the delicate muslin they are working on.

This dirt-floor workshop might not hint at luxury, but the special jamdani fabric made here is highly coveted and incredibly expensive.

The factory owner, Anwar Hossain, walks me past the looms. Whiplash thin and just over 5ft (1.5m) tall, he doesn’t disturb the workers as he pauses to let me admire the work of one young woman who sits below us.

Inside the factory

 

Her hands, spinning like furious atoms, interlace silky gold thread into a sheer muslin cloth the colour of oxblood.

“Jamdani is expensive since it requires dedicated work and special skills,” Hossain says, flicking a bejewelled hand over the peacock feather motif that the young woman works on. “My weavers don’t use patterns, they create only from memory.”

0003819_white_n_red_garod_jamdani_15_offPlease take the time to read the rest of that piece over at BBC, then at the end of this post I will have a few other links on the jamdani weave structure and development.

Back to the real world: Senate passes five-day budget extension, averting shutdown | Al Jazeera America

The Senate passed a five-day extension of federal funding on Saturday, staving off a government shutdown and buying lawmakers more time to resolve the fight over a $1.1 trillion spending bill led by Tea Party firebrand Ted Cruz.

It was the second time in a little over a year that Cruz, a Texas Republican freshman with presidential aspirations, has attempted to stop a key Obama administration initiative by denying government funds. In this case, Cruz was targeting Obama’s executive order that offered millions of undocumented immigrants relief from the threat of deportation.

Cruz was a central figure in a 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, when he persuaded Republicans to try to withhold funds from Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform law.

In the end, Cruz got none of what he wanted and Republicans were left with little but voter anger.

What an ass, and a hypocrite. His father is a immigrant from Cuba via Canada, right?

Cruz and senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama were demanding permission to offer an amendment that would deny the DHS any funds for carrying out Obama’s November immigration order. Critics of the order have called it an amnesty for lawbreakers.

Senators from both parties complained on Saturday that Cruz’s strategy was counterproductive and aimed at grabbing attention.

“This reminds me very much of the shutdown last year, where the strategy made absolutely no sense and was counterproductive,” Republican Senator Susan Collins said.

[…]

805792685_75cfb3110dAs reporters tried to interview Cruz as he entered the Senate chamber in the Capitol, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill shouted: “Quit giving him so much attention, that’s exactly what’s causing the problem!”

That is the first piece of sense I have heard from the Hill in ages.

In #BlackLivesMatter news:

Mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice Unite

The mothers of four slain black men and boys, three of whom were killed by police sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for a heart-wrenching interview where they made one thing absolutely clear: their sons would be alive if they were white.

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, Lesley McSpadden, mother of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice‘s mother Samaria Rice, and Eric Garner‘s mother Gwen Carr came together and spoke about their losses as well as the role of race.

[…]

All of these women have suffered immense pain, and it’s maddening that they have to justify their pain and the injustice they feel as mothers of unarmed black victims. When Cooper asked if they thought things would have turned out differently if their sons were white, he framed it as a “hard question to ask.” But for these four mothers, it was the easiest one to answer.

DSC03614More at that link.

Speaking of Anderson Cooper: Addicting Info – Anderson Cooper’s Amazing Reaction To Finding Out A Slave Killed His Ancestor With A Farm Hoe (VIDEO)

Meanwhile, Effigies of black people found hanging on UC Berkeley campus – NY Daily News

Amid national protests decrying police brutality, three effigies of black people were discovered hanging by a noose on the Berkeley campus at the University of California.

Police and students took the cardboard cutouts depicting lynching victims down Saturday afternoon from two locations on campus as demonstrations broke out to the theme of “#blacklivesmatter.”

“We’re uncertain of the intention of this. It could be related to the protests, but it could be racially motivated,” Claire Holmes told the Daily News. “We’d like to get to the bottom of it.”

The disturbing figures hanging from iconic landmarks on the Berkeley campus were reported to police just after 9 a.m., but a third effigy found through social media disappeared before police got to it.

Two of the photo effigies were labeled “I can’t breathe,” Eric Garner’s last words as NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a fatal chokehold.8019493276_b0dc005215_z

The campus is investigating it as a hate crime.

And yet, just earlier in the week over at Berkley: CA Police Chief Joins ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protest, Scolded by Police Union | Mediaite

Richmond, California police chief made quite the statement this week by standing with protesters and holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign:

#richmondca Chief of Police Chris Magnus joins peaceful demonstration along Macdonald Avenue. Richmond rocks.

A photo posted by Mindy Pines (@messageframer) on

And you’ll notice, Chief Chris Magnus is very noticeably wearing his police uniform.

That in particular was the issue taken by the Richmond Police Officers Association, which released a statement criticizing Magnus by citing the state government code’s explicit ban on police officers participating in political activity while in uniform.

One union attorney said they’re “disappointed the chief felt free to flaunt those laws by wearing his uniform during the protest.”

 

jamdaniThe protest are still going on all over the country:

Orange Is the New Black Cast at Million March NYC Protest | Mediaite

Thousands of protesters hit the streets in New York City on Saturday to protest police violence after the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island in what came to be known as the #MillionMarchNYC demonstration. Among them were several members of the cast of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.

Vicky Jeudy, who plays Janae Watson, posted this dramatic photo of the group holding “I Can’t Breathe” signs and doing the “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” gesture.

In Washington DC: ‘A Movement, Not Just a Moment:’ Thousands March in D.C. Protesting Police Violence – The Root -Read some interviews with people walking in the protest.

b97d74c9f7aada825cc3881f9a0ef85eFrom BAR: It’s Not the Law, But Prosecutors, That Give Immunity to Killer Cops | Black Agenda Report

“In refusing to prosecute, Obama and Holder demonstrate their own profound disregard for the collective rights of Black Americans as a people.”

Black Americans know all about “law and order”: the term, itself, is code for the state-wielded hammer that is relentlessly deployed against us. No people on earth are more conditioned to concentrated bludgeoning under “color of law” than African Americans, who account for one out of out eight of the world’s prison inmates. Black males are 21 times more likely than their white peers to be killed by U.S. lawmen, and make up a clear majority of young police shooting victims under the most draconian law and order regime on the planet. Of all the world’s peoples, none have been so unremittingly inculcated with the lessons of crime and punishment – especially punishment, whether merited or not.

For a people so acculturated, justice demands retribution – even for Pharaoh and his army. Thus, the simple and near-universal Black American demand that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder prosecute killer cops.

But, this they will not do.

The Obama administration has no intention of pursuing prosecution of Darren Wilson, or Trayvon Martin’s vigilante killer George Zimmerman, or the whole crew of New York City homicidal and/or depravedly indifferent first-responders in the Eric Garner case. Obama and Holder have nothing worthwhile to say to the nine grieving Black mothersnow visiting Washington demanding justice for their murdered loved ones, other than empty assurances that they feel the families’ pain.

27175339bed8e94a319f2bb4edaeb030The U.S. Justice Department, which marshals unlimited resources to pursue long and sometimes fruitless prosecutions of whistleblowers and other “national security” targets, claims it is helpless to confront police impunity in the murder of Black Americans. The law, Holder and his apologists claim, requires that federal criminal prosecutions under the civil rights statute must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers “acted willfully” for the specific purpose of violating the victim’s 4th Amendment constitutional right to life. Making that case, they say, is near-impossible, requiring that prosecutors “get inside the officer’s head” to divine his intentions at the moment the trigger was pulled. Therefore, despite Holder and Obama’s public statements of concern, no good faith attempt is made to mount prosecutions.

“Police immunity from prosecution begins with the prosecutors.”

You go and read the whole thing.

Especially when you consider: Addicting Info – White Protestors Threaten to Lynch President – No Cops, Arrests Or Tear Gas (VIDEO)

I thought this was an interesting article, it looks at words and their usage: How We Lost Our “Freedom” » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

In the wave of protests sparked by Grand Jury acquittals of the policemen who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the word “freedom” is seldom heard.

It was different in the Civil Rights era. Then “freedom” was the watchword of the entire movement.

Meanwhile, in his campaign to retain his Senate seat in Kentucky – and ultimately to become Majority Leader of the Senate – Mitch McConnell’s handlers put out a bumper sticker that read: “Coal. Guns. Freedom. Team Mitch.”

Michael Tomasky, who wrote about this in the New York Review of Books, also pointed out that Team Mitch campaigned tooth and nail against the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare.   The local version,“Kynect,” the state exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, has been unusually successful in signing up uninsured Kentuckians, and is widely popular.

Early in the campaign, it looked like McConnell would have a hard time defeating his Democratic rival, Alison Grimes. Grimes was careful to keep Obama at a distance, and she had nothing good to say about Obamacare. But she wasn’t careful enough; McConnell won handily.

In view of Kynect’s popularity, how could Team Mitch have gotten so much mileage out of running against it? The explanation speaks volumes about the Republican base. According to Tomasky, in an NBC News-Marist College poll conducted last spring, only 22% of white Kentuckians said that they opposed Kynect, while 60% said they opposed Obamacare. Shades of the Tea Party demand that the government keep its hands off Medicare!

In making Obamacare repeal their main war cry, was Team Mitch cynically exploiting the ignorance and befuddlement of Republican voters? “You betcha,” as Sarah Palin would say.

On that bumper sticker, where space was a priority, “freedom” functioned, at least in part, as a code word useful for conjuring up that ignorance and befuddlement. The thought, if it can be called that, is that because the Affordable Care Act exacts fines on people who do not purchase health insurance, it makes them less free. In other words, Obamacare commodifies health care, but it doesn’t commodify it quite enough.

64d1ede29fd285e24a9c26d321544865So understood (or misunderstood), “freedom” fits nicely with “coal” and “guns,” when they too are used as code words — for the economic and cultural anxieties of the people whose votes McConnell sought.

Bravo for Team Mitch. They came up with a brilliant slogan; brilliantly slick. American political discourse has become so degraded in recent years that “freedom” is now fits in nicely with “coal” (or “drill, baby drill” in oil states) and “guns.” Team Mitch was on top of this development, and took full advantage of it.

It wasn’t always so; “freedom” used to belong to us. It was the watchword of the Civil Rights movement and of the black power (or black liberation) movement that followed.   On the left, “freedom” – or “liberty,” the words are synonymous – was prominently and rightly paired alongside equality and fraternity (solidarity, community).

So much more to read at the link.

52de8ed807a539f1afc4ebf8beef6bedAnother long read, that looks at film, silent film: moviemorlocks.com – Slapstick While Black

Apologies: this week’s post is about racially insensitive jokes in silent comedy (Yes, Ben Martin, this one’s for you), and so I’ve got some unpleasant screen grabs, illustrating some gags most of us probably wish hadn’t been filmed, and then to make matters worse I’m going to speak clumsily and awkwardly about these things while analyzing jokes. None of which is really all that great an idea.

As recent history has tragically shown, we’ve got a lot of work do to repair race relations in America. But that’s not to say it’s on no one’s short list of priorities to pick at the scabs of ninety-year-old silent comedies.

Why am I doing this, then? Well, despite these festering wounds I love silent comedy, and I fear it’s slipping into cultural irrelevancy. The only way to keep these films and these comedians even marginally, passingly, culturally relevant is to keep bringing new audiences to them—and these racist gags are a significant barrier to that.

 

Check it out.

But y’all know those red “skinned” people are getting screwed too: Congress Screws Native Americans With Fine Print – Truthdig

Somehow U.S. lawmakers have used a defense spending bill to sell Native American burial ground to mining giant Rio Tinto. Yay, capitalism!

But seriously, here’s what happened: The Senate on Fridaypassed a defense spending bill. Like a Christmas tree dressed with ornaments, lawmakers attached a host of riders and provisions to the bill, including number of land swaps. One such swap sees the transfer of Arizona forest land considered sacred by multiple native tribes, the Apache in particular, to Rio Tinto. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the mining concern is very unpopular with environmentalists, labor organizers, human rights activists and the government of Norway.

5144b559589e83d5bec34efd1510989aCrazy innit?

I am just glad that this is not Kim Kardashian: Time Magazine Names Ebola Fighters as 2014 ‘Person of the Year’

That is all on the news links, here’s the rest of the information on the Jamdani weaving:

From the UNESCO Culture Sector – Intangible Heritage – 2003 Convention : Traditional art of Jamdani weaving

Jamdani is a vividly patterned, sheer cotton fabric, traditionally woven on a handloom by craftspeople and apprentices around Dhaka. Jamdani textiles combine intricacy of design with muted or vibrant colours, and the finished garments are highly breathable. Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of weaving because of the richness of its motifs, which are created directly on the loom 25e1214b5d8ca7b307b9552babab3670using the discontinuous weft technique. Weaving is thriving today due to the fabric’s popularity for making saris, the principal dress of Bengali women at home and abroad. The Jamdani sari is a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition and provides wearers with a sense of cultural identity and social cohesion. The weavers develop an occupational identity and take great pride in their heritage; they enjoy social recognition and are highly respected for their skills. A few master weavers are recognized as bearers of the traditional Jamdani motifs and weaving techniques, and transmit the knowledge and skills to disciples. However, Jamdani weaving is principally transmitted by parents to children in home workshops. Weavers – together with spinners, dyers, loom-dressers and practitioners of a number of other supporting crafts – form a closely knit community with a strong sense of unity, identity and continuity.

You can see a slideshow here.

Or watch a video:

2565d2d6fc95eb4918a3a8fd85259c09From Frontline: The glory of jamdani

KALNA, a subdivision in West Bengal’s Bardhaman district, is known for its temples and hand-woven saris, particularly the jamdani weave. However, over the years, the delicate art of making jamdani with homespun yarn has practically disappeared, with mill-made yarn replacing khadi. Handloom purists can easily discern the difference between a traditional handwoven fabric and a mill-made one by the texture of the fabric. Much as anyone would want to possess the whole six yards of khadi jamdani, producing an authentic jamdani with traditional motifs is time consuming.

The Crafts Council of West Bengal, a non-profit organisation affiliated to the Crafts Council of India, has stepped in to encourage this skill. Ruby Palchoudhuri, honorary general secretary and executive director of the council, has taken up the challenge of reviving the traditional form of jamdani weaving. Designs and motifs from old saris (some even three generations old) are replicated with some variations. One of the main factors behind the decline of this traditional art of making jamdani is the time required to weave it. Though weaving is usually done by men, practically everything else, from spinning the yarn to spooling, is carried out by women.

The softness of the cotton fabric and the exquisite designs lend an enchanting quality to the saris. This magic in weave is the result of tireless work which brings meagre financial returns. Unknown and cac926555af07d49ae5af9d30a668e86unrecognised, a small group of weavers continue with this line of work, primarily because it is the only thing they have been taught to do.

This is something that is taught and passed down from generation to generation.

Hemanta Nandi and his family have been weavers for three generations. For a combined effort of 14 hours a day, he and his wife earn a measly Rs.5,000 a month. “We would be better off working in the paddy fields, where we would be earning Rs.140 for four hours of work. But we are not able to do that kind of work because this is all we have learnt to do. We somehow eke out a living because we live in the village and not in a town,” he toldFrontline.

The process of making khadi jamdani is broadly divided into two parts—the making of the yarn and the weaving at the loom. The crucial pre-loom stage is usually handled entirely by women, from the spinning of the yarn to the point when it is placed on the warping drum before it goes to the loom. According to master weaver Jyotish Debnath, in whose Kalna factory the jamdani revival project is struggling to take off, the process of producing the yarn involves very delicate work, which only a woman’s hands can accomplish.

There are three other full pages at the link. Along with lots of pictures too.

From a another person’s perspective: woven air | Bangladesh textile residency

We discovered the weaving! And not just any weaving, yesterday morning we went to visit the village Vargaon Dargabari, a region near Dhaka where they produce Jamdani fabrics, the most beautiful woven textiles found in Bangladesh.

The technique resembles a tapestry technique where individual threads are woven as supplementary wefts to form geometric and floral motifs. The ground is very fine unbleached cotton, set in open density to form a gauze textile background. Jamdani fabrics are woven on a pit loom by 2 weavers working together. It is a very laborious process and a sari length (6 yards of woven fabric) can take more than 2 0d616a1f3206c757b54a1de49e5d1171months to complete. See the videos below to appreciate the speed at which the weavers are working and how slowly the fabric grows!

I love this part, what the needle is made out of…

We were greeted by Abdul Jabbar Khan, one of the head weavers of the village and we visited a number of weaving set ups. Soon we had a following of inquisitive villagers and children! I explained I am a weaver too and I was invited to sit at the loom and try my hand at this technique. MrKhan very patiently showed me how to loop the thread over the kandu, a bone tool used for the extra thread weaving(we were told it is elephant tooth?!) and soon I knew just how time consuming the weaving process is. The most beautiful jamdani cloths we saw were dyed with natural pigments (see the last pictures in the series below).

Go to that link to see all the images. They are amazing.

Finally, the technique and stylistic designs used in jamdani weaving: Sari-Tangil & Jamdani | Parul Bhatnagar – Academia.edu

The Jamdani is a type of woven figured muslin sari, and in this type of weave special skill of the craftsman can be seen, by using a bamboo splinter like a needle, he can combine weaving, embroidery and ornamentation, the motifs of flowers and buds being sewn down as the pattern is formed between the meeting places of the warp and the weft. The Jamdanis are therefore like fragile tapestry and were usually woven in soft shade of fine grey cotton, decorated either in bluish grey design or sometimes with creamy white with gold or silver threads producing fine sari’s with full embellishment on the entire material and its border and pallav (top end) patterns comprising flowers set all over in sprays butidar, or run diagonally tircha, or formed a sort of crisscross Jal or lay scattered at even distance on the surface toradar.

Jamdani or “figured muslin”, traditionally woven in Dacca, (now Dhaka inBangladesh), West Bengal and Tanda in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, refers to cotton fabric brocaded with cotton and sometimes with zari threads.

 

I think you all will find those reads fascinating. Have a wonderful day, and enjoy yourselves.


Wednesday Reads: 2014 Going Out With A Bang

165514928Morning All

I really don’t have anything to add to the picture on the left. That is pretty much how things seem to be going lately. Each day another bomb drops, and many of us sit here wondering will it stop? Will there be a moment when some decent shred of humanity will shine through the toxic stew of torture, police brutality, racism, sexism and all the rest of it…

Here are your links for this morning, many reactions to the CIA torture reports will come as no surprise.

I guess John McCain is the one GOP dude who we would expect had some words to say on the matter: McCain on Torture: A Stain on our National Honor, Produces Misleading Info | Informed Comment

“As the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report roiled Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sen. John McCain framed the argument as one of moral clarity, all the while bumping up against his party leaders.

“I rise in support of the release, the long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summarized, unclassified review of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were employed by the previous administration to extract information from captured terrorists,” the Arizona Republican said on the Senate floor. “I believe the American people have a right, indeed responsibility, to know what was done in their name, how these practices did or did not serve our interests, and how they comported with our most important values.”

McCain, who spent five-and-a-half years in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War and endured unspeakable torture, is virtually unassailable on the issue. His comments put him back in the maverick role, at least in relation to the chamber’s internal politics, that has long defined his congressional career.”

d79002a4d9795d36c23f422431ccbf3dVideo at the link.

In another link from Juan Cole’s blog: Psychologists, who Took mn. to Advise, Practice Torture, betrayed the Profession | Informed Comment

During the War on Terror, the CIA’s operations subjected hundreds of suspected terrorists to harsh interrogation techniques, which were often criticised as constituting torture. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the operation has made it clearer than ever that the CIA used many forms of “enhanced interrogation” to elicit information – very harsh methods indeed that simply did not yield the intended results.

As a leaked State Department memo put it, the report “tells a story of which no American is proud”.

This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.

It is profoundly disturbing to see that the CIA’s techniques included deprivation of basic needs (warmth, food, water), humiliation, threats and the repeated use of waterboarding.

Ironically, many of the methods adopted were based on psychologists’ previous work directed at training members of the military, intended to assist them in avoiding talking to interrogators should they be captured and tortured. This work was apparently reverse-engineered for use on terrorist suspects.

2a2130ec4f4c50723d90bf520b6784e0There is much more at that link, which is a guest post written by Laurence Alison, from the University of Liverpool.

Fox News…well, you know:

Fox Host: Forget Torture, ‘America Is Awesome’ — NYMag

After reading reports about how the CIA inadvertently killed someone during an interrogation and subjected others to repeated waterboardings, “rectal feedings,” and threats to rape and kill their family members, did you get the feeling that sometimes the United States is less than awesome? That’s exactly what the Obama administration wanted! This afternoon in the alternate reality that is Fox News, the hosts of Outnumbered explained that the report was only released to distract Americans from real problems, like the IRS scandal and Benghazi.

“The Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe,” declared the particularly incensed Andrea Tantaros. “The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome,” she continued. “We’ve closed the book on [torture], and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome” — mainly because they “don’t like this country” and “want us to look bad.”

Fox then returned to its regularly scheduled programming.

Alggpp0100nd Billy Boy: Bill O’Reilly: Torture Is ‘Morally Correct’ | Crooks and Liars

If you thought you heard it all from Bill O’Reilly, think again. Tonight he said that torture was a “morally acceptable” thing to do.

Meanwhile, across the pond: New Statesman | “Torture is always wrong”: David Cameron responds to the CIA report

David Cameron has responded to the alarming US report by Democrat senators on CIA interrogation activities in the wake of 9/11. Commenting on the shocking revelations about “brutal” techniques employed by the CIA on terrorism suspects, the Prime Minister said:

Let us be clear – torture is wrong, torture is always wrong.

For those of us who want to see a safer more secure world who want to see this extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority.

Now obviously after 9/11 there were things that happened that were wrong and we should be clear about the fact that they were wrong.

Clearly anticipating any questions emerging from this story that could drag Britain into the controversy, Cameron was keen to emphasise that he believes Britain has “dealt with” its position in relation torture policy. The United Kingdom appears on the list of countries that “facilitated CIA torture”.

Cameron referred to the Intelligence and Security Committee looking into questions raised by the Gibson Inquiry into the treatment of detainees post-9/11, and added that he has, “issued guidance to all of our agents and others working around the world about how they have to handle themselves”.

77374810001_693354346001_ari-origin06-arc-159-1291146682193The report itself has stunned the world following its release yesterday. It suggests America’s spies repeatedly lied to Congress and its foreign allies in an effort to cover up the scale and brutal nature of a secret global programme of torture.

Of course the UN has it’s own response: CIA torture: Calls to prosecute US officials involved in ‘brutal’ interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects – The Independent

The UN has called for the prosecution of those behind a ‘criminal conspiracy’ at the CIA that led to the ‘brutal’ torture of detainees.

Ben Emmerson, United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said those responsible for planning, sanctioning or carrying out crimes including waterboarding should not escape justice – even senior officials from George W Bush’s administration.

“It is now time to take action,” he said in a statement from Geneva. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy … must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth also said that the CIA’s actions were criminal “and can never be justified”.

hqdefault“The Senate report summary should forever put to rest CIA denials that it engaged in torture, which is criminal and can never be justified,” he said.

“The report shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are utter fiction.

“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a ‘policy option’ for future presidents.”

Now, over at Al Jazeera, they have an article that interviews surviviors:

Survivors of CIA torture, rendition speak out | Al Jazeera America

Survivors of alleged CIA torture and rendition programs praised the release of a damning, if heavily redacted Senate account of the agency’s “brutal” and “ineffective” practices but noted it was only a first step toward accountability — and it certainly wasn’t an apology.

article-0-11CC61E1000005DC-710_634x476“Publishing this shows the other side, that human rights apply to everyone,” said Abdelhakim Balhadj, a Libyan political dissident who the U.S. rendered back to Libya in 2004, where he was allegedly tortured over a six-year period without being charged with a crime. “The U.S. denied us our human rights. We wanted the American people to recognize this.”

After years of delay, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a 499-page executive summary of a more than 6,000-word report, which remains classified. It detailed a litany of apparently illegal methods employed by CIA officers to extract information from detainees — death threats, beatings, sleep deprivation, forced rectal feeding and other psychological torment — much of which had long since been leaked.

Significantly, the summary noted that so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques were “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented” and they were not nearly as useful in obtaining information vital to national security as the agency had previously said.

Though ex-detainees like Belhadj welcomed those findings, he was disappointed that his name had not been mentioned specifically. In a phone call from his home in Libya, Belhadj, now a prominent politician and military leader in Libya, told of how he and his pregnant wife Fatima were picked up by U.S. authorities as they were trying to leave China, where they had been living until 2004, to seek political asylum in the U.K.

750px-Castle_Bravo_(black_and_white)As well as the ex-CIA dudes…who have there side of the story: Ex-CIA officials say torture report is one-sided, flawed | Reuters

A group of former top-ranking CIA officials disputed a U.S. Senate committee’s finding that the agency’s interrogation techniques produced no valuable intelligence, saying such work had saved thousands of lives.

Former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, along with three ex-deputy directors, wrote in an op-ed article published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal that the Senate Intelligence Committee report also was wrong in saying the agency had been deceptive about its work following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The rest of the links for today’s post are in dump format, and they are not pleasant. In fact they are much of the same kind of news we have been seeing the past few weeks.

Orlando, Florida police sergeant shoots unarmed man – World Socialist Web Site

The usual story with the usual players. The men in this case were in a stolen car…that said…read the rest at the link.

 

School Counselor Threatens to Shoot Mike Brown Protestors, Blames Kid

School Counselor Threatens to Shoot Mike Brown Protestors, Blames Kid

 

“He should have to stand trial”: Rep. Keith Ellison sounds off on Eric Garner’s killing and civil rights in America – Salon.com

As the American people continue to debate about — and organize over — the lack of consequences for the police who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown, some commentators (like yours truly) have urged national Democrats to be more directly and unapologetically supportive of their African-American supporters and the #blacklivesmatter movement in general. But while it’s much too soon to tell whether Hillary Clinton or other similarly well-known Democrats will heed the call, it’s clear that one Democratic congressman, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, is listening. “The fact is, people have to demand [a] sense of justice: people in the streets are going to make the system more responsive,” he said recently on MSNBC.

atomic-bomb3New Statesman | Why Hollywood needs to listen to Chris Rock about its race problems

In a scathing editorial in the Hollywood Reporter, Chris Rock has confronted some issues that though obvious, are being blatantly ignored. He quite rightly points out that Hollywood is an exclusive, white industry that is terrible at giving opportunities to black and Latino people other than as the janitor. You only have to open your eyes to see this, but nobody, whether it be studio executives, producers, directors, other actors or critics, has been proactive in changing things. It’s OK to say it – Hollywood doesn’t care about black people.

In Arkansas, white town is a black mark | Al Jazeera America

Harrison, Arkansas billboard

Residents of Harrison try to fight off their reputation as the small town with the most hate groups in America

Thomas Robb lives 15 miles from downtown Harrison, Arkansas, past churches with signs speaking of God’s righteousness, a goat farm and a slew of rusted trailer homes. His home is a collection of nondescript white cottages that includes an office and a meeting place for the Christian Revival Center, where he serves as pastor. The buildings stretch across several acres — but don’t call the property a compound.

“It’s my home, not a compound,” Robb says, correcting a reporter with a smile. “The word ‘compound’ has such a negative connotation.”

Robb and his wife moved to the area 43 years ago from Tucson, Arizona: “You could see the handwriting on the wall of Arizona being a dumping ground for illegal aliens.” The stronger morals of people in Arkansas, he says, made the state a more attractive home for his Thomas Robb Ministries and the Christian Revival Center, which espouse a white-supremacist, “Christian-identity” theology. For the last 25 years, he’s also been the national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the group founded by prominent Klan leader and former Louisiana politician David Duke. In that role, Robb has attempted to advance the white-nationalist movement by portraying the Klan, in the words of one journalist, as more “gentle, upbeat and friendly” — an approach that’s sometimes frowned upon by other Klan members for being too mainstream.

Protest Against Police Violence

In Georgia, there was an execution last night: Injustice in Robert Wayne Holsey’s Case – NYTimes.com

Even by the abysmal standards of lawyering that defendants in capital trials regularly endure, Robert Wayne Holsey’s case stands out.

In 1997, Mr. Holsey was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy named Will Robinson, who had pulled him over for robbing a convenience store. Despite evidence that Mr. Holsey was intellectually disabled — which should have barred him from execution under the United States Supreme Court’s earlier rulings — his lawyer neglected to make that argument at trial. Mr. Holsey was executed on Tuesday evening after the Supreme Court declined to stay his execution.

The evidence of Mr. Holsey’s mental deficits included an I.Q. test score of 70 when he was 15. In school, his intellectual functioning did not move past a fourth-grade level. But under Georgia law, a defendant is required to prove his intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt — the strictest standard in the country and one unmoored from scientific reality.

Palestinian minister dies after confrontation with Israeli soldiers | Al Jazeera America

A Palestinian minister has died after clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. The circumstances of Ziad Abu Ein’s death have yet to be officially confirmed, but sources told Al Jazeera that it occurred after he inhaled large amounts of tear gas and was struck by security forces.

Abu Ein, who was head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission, died in Ramallah Hospital on Wednesday following a protest against the separation barrier near the village of Turmusayya, northeast of Ramallah.

The 55-year-old is thought to have been hit in the chest by Israeli soldiers at the demonstration, according to an Israeli journalist and a Reuters photographer who were at the scene. Other witnesses said he was headbutted and then collapsed.

Activists said they were planting olive trees by the illegal settlement of Adei Ad when the soldiers attacked them and fired large amounts of tear gas at the group.

Pictures of Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, knocked out and on the ground quickly circulated on social media sites.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas quickly condemned the death of Abu Ein, calling it a “barbaric act that cannot be tolerated.” He also said “all necessary steps” will be taken after an investigation into Abu Ein’s death is carried out.

More on the olive trees, and the significance here:

BBC News – Israel and the Palestinians: A conflict viewed through olives

Obama had a tough interview: Jorge Ramos Challenges President Obama On Immigration In Testy Interview – BuzzFeed News

Ugh….US Congressional Leaders Reach Accord on 2015 Spending Plan

Hey, this is a surprise: Police officer buys eggs for woman caught shoplifting to feed her family in Tarrant | AL.com

A woman caught shoplifting eggs in Tarrant Saturday didn’t leave with handcuffs and a court date. Thanks to a Tarrant police officer, she left with food for her family.

Officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General on Pinson Valley Parkway when employees caught the woman trying to steal a dozen eggs, Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno said.

The woman had her young children in the car. She told Officer Stacy that she was only stealing because she was trying to feed her children.

Stacy talked with Dollar General, and they said they wouldn’t prosecute. So Stacy made an offer.

“He said, ‘If I give you these eggs, will you promise that you won’t shoplift anymore?'” Reno said. “He knew that she was telling the truth and that’s the reason he went in and bought the eggs.”

Stacy bought the eggs and gave them to her, Reno said. The woman then asked if she could give him a hug.

Sorry if I am cynical…but…

“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”

Reno said this is one way police deal with issues — not every incident ends with someone being hauled off to jail.

No, they don’t get hauled off to jail, they get hauled off to the morgue.

Video of hug at link. It just is…I don’t know. Maybe y’all have a better way of putting it into words than I do?

Sounds a little like staged bullshit to me.

But again, I am a cynical bitch.

I mean, when you have a Sgt with the Tarrant Police Department police stealing evidence and selling it to other cops:

Update: Former Tarrant Police Sgt. turns himself in. – ABC 33/40 – Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

 According to Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno, former Tarrant Police Officer, Sgt. Charles Higgins, has turned himself in to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The Tarrant Police Department is asking a suspected criminal to turn himself in. But this criminal isn’t like the others.

“He was an extraordinary officer,” Police Chief Dennis Reno said.

That’s because Charles Kevin Higgins used to be a Sgt. with the department.

“Myself and every officer here feels betrayed,” Reno said.

Reno says a while back his department noticed items missing out of the evidence room, which is what Sgt. Higgins was in charge of. Higgins was confronted and was told an investigation would be happening.

“Rather than face an investigation, Sgt. Higgins rendered his resignation at that time,” Reno said.

Further investigation would show much more missing from the evidence room than anticipated.

Nine handguns were missing. Reno says Higgins told people he needed money. He sold six of them to citizens. But four of them were sold to closer friends.

“He sold them to some of his fellow police officers here at the station,” Reno said.

The serial numbers on the guns sold to the officers matched the numbers of those missing from the evidence room. Reno believes Higgins made nearly $3,500 on the guns. Reno says the officers who bought the firearms thought they were part of Higgins’s personal collection, as Reno says Higgins is a gun collector.

Reno says he could not comment whether more items were taken from the evidence room.

Or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office being investigated for racial discrimination: JeffCo Sheriff’s hiring, firing practices under scrutiny for racial discrimiation

A federal judge wants to know what Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale is doing to deal with racial discrimination.

During a status hearing over the county’s consent degree involving hiring and firing practices, U.S District Judge Lynwood Smith said he will now be focusing on the sheriff’s office.

The county’s hiring and firing is currently under the supervision of court appointed receiver Ronald Sims.

During Thursday’s court hearing, plaintiffs in the case said it came to their attention that Sheriff Hale does not have an affirmative action officer to oversee any racial complaints or violations of discrimination law.

Jefferson County has affirmative action officers in place but the question now is whether Sheriff Hale, who is already facing a tight budget, hire another person for the job or use the county’s personnel.

Jefferson County commissioner David Carrington says it’s a matter that has to be studied.

“It would be a little cumbersome for the county’s AA officer to get involved with the sheriff’s office. We have a lot of issues we need to deal with. If the judge says it’s our responsibility we will accept it and go forward,” Carrington said.

Judge Smith told Sheriff Hale’s attorney in court to get more engaged and to research what the sheriff has done to deal with racial discrimination going back to 1982, when the original consent decree was signed by Hale’s predecessor Mel Bailey.

Federal judge turns focus to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in 32-year-old discrimination order | AL.com

A federal judge, who last year installed a manager to oversee all Jefferson County personnel decisions to prevent discrimination against blacks and women, has now turned his focus onto the county sheriff’s office.

At a hearing this morning U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith asked an attorney for Sheriff Mike Hale to determine what that office has done – or hasn’t – to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate against blacks or women in hiring, firing and promotions since a consent decree was signed by county officials 32 years ago.

Lynwood Smith.jpgFederal Judge Lynwood Smith. (Huntsville Times file)

Smith said he believes “it is past time to focus on the sheriff…  He (the sheriff) is under the same duties and obligations as the county commission.”

The 1982 consent decree was issued as part of lawsuits that contended the county and the City of Birmingham had discriminated against blacks and women. County officials, including former Sheriff Mel Bailey, signed the decree. Birmingham and the Jefferson County Personnel Board were ultimately released from their decrees.

About seven years ago plaintiffs in the lawsuits asked the judge to find the county in contempt for not abiding by the terms of its consent decree. After a lengthy process the judge last year found the county was in contempt and put in place a receiver, Ron Sims, over the county’s human resources department.

At today’s status conference Smith holds once a month to check on the county’s compliance, an attorney for the plaintiff’s, Rowan Wilson, told the judge about an issue that came up.

Hmmmm…go on…

Wilson said that Sims two months ago had appointed an affirmative action officer to review personnel complaints. Recently sheriff’s employees had come to the new officer with issues, which brought up the question as to whether the sheriff had an affirmative action officer, he said.

As part of the consent decree the county was to have an affirmative action officer, but didn’t, Wilson said. The issue came up during testimony in the contempt hearings.

Take a look at the comments….interesting to say the least.

This sounds a lot like Banjoville.

But seriously…to go back to the quote from Reno, the chief at Tarrant PD:

“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”

Oh yeah, I bet they do that act of kindness all the time….

That is it for me, y’all have a good day. So? What are you reading about?


Monday Reads: No Joy in Mudville

Good Morning!

10606019_830737330303137_5287611947599042743_nWell, the Southern Strategy is alive and well and still working in the South where Republicans have officially run a campaign for a know nothing and do nothing crook based on absolutely nothing but racist dog whistles.  The whistles were really loud and clear. They worked too.

All you have to do is ask a Cassidy voter what said congressman voted for or against, or what he stands for or against, or anything based on issues or record. They go silent. Ask them about the fact he is now under investigation for bilking Louisiana taxpayers out of money and ignoring the details of his outside work agreement granted by Congress and they scream “they are all crooks”. This is just a new one.  The only other thing they say is that “Miss Piggy” is with Obama and Obama is bad  and then they add something about not being racist and trying to be politically correct but Obama has run the country into the ground.  Then, they ignore any and all contrary facts and accuse you of dissing their valid opinions because you are a libtard and a sore loser.

They cannot tell you not one thing about him other than he’s not a white woman in the party that brought you a black president.  I am clearly appalled by the audacity of it all.

Many African-Americans saw Cassidy’s TV ads as a primer in race-baiting. The spots evoked the primal myth of the Old South in which white womanhood must be defended. In ads that ran around the clock, viewers saw Landrieu’s face pictured cheek-to-jowl with the black president like uneasy lovers in a Valentine.

“They’re pandering to the lowest common denominator,” bristled Stanley Taylor, a retired African-American member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, speaking by cell phone as he canvassed voters before the election. “Those spots are racist and totally dismissive of people’s ability to figure out their own self-interest.”

The blowback of racial politics marks the end of an era that began in 1970 when the senator’s father, Moon Landrieu, as the newly-elected mayor of New Orleans ushered African-Americans into local government, while guiding an era of dramatic urban growth. New Orleans had a white voting majority at the time; today it is about 60% African-American.

“Rather than suggest some policy objectives, it’s been easier for the Cassidy campaign to enflame racial fear to motivate Republican voters,” brooded community organizer Jacques Morial, whose father Dutch was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans, succeeding Moon in 1978. His brother Marc later served two terms as mayor and is today president of the Urban League.

Landrieu’s loss showed yet again that the great power in American politics is to make people believe that something false is true. Cassidy’s campaign recast the three-term senator as a projection of the black president largely reviled by the majority of white voters here, as in the rest of the South.

I’ve found a bevy of ways that white folks can say they’re not racist while saying racist things.  One of my major clues is when they start any sentence “I’m not racist”.  I’ve been astonished at the number of racist things people say shortly after they couch it with “I’m not racist but …”   There was a Face the Nation conversation on Racism on Sunday about an interview that the President has given BET that basically states that “Racism is deeply rooted in our Nation”.  This conversation surrounds the recent spate of police murder of unarmed black citizens where threat wasn’t really present. The central pale question was why hasn’t President Obama has made everything all better when it comes to race relations.  I can give you my take.  Many people are so deeply racist that they don’t even see it and refuse to see it.  Others are unabashedly racist and think they’re justified for whatever reason.  Many people seem to just be willfully ignorant which makes me wonder if they will ever learn.  No one black man can overcome years steeped in white privilege just as one woman serving in a public office can’t overcome years of shoving women into subservient roles based on outdated notions.  It’s not their fault.  The faults lie within us.tumblr_mjway6L5L91rast55o2_1280

In a special segment, “BET News Presents: A Conversation with President Barack Obama,” the president will help find meaningful solutions to unrest after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner sparked nationwide protests.

“This isn’t going to be solved overnight,” Obama said in an excerpt of the interview to air Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.

The interview, hosted by BET host and TV journalist Jeff Johnson, marks the president’s first network discussion outlining his strategy to investigate the incidents and ways the country can unify during this time.

“This is something that’s deeply rooted in our society, deeply rooted in our history. But the two things that will allow us to solve it: Number one: Is the understanding that we have made progress and so it’s important to recognize that as painful as these instances are, we can’t equate what’s happening now with what was happening 50 years ago. If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better,”

Speaking to youth on the music-variety series targeting African Americans, Obama also cited “progress” as the second most critical step.

Charles Blow was one of the speaker’s on the Face of Nation segment which debated the progress made or unmade in race relations since the President was elected 6 years ago.  So was David Ignatius.  How is it that so many people can completely miss the institutional differences in the way people are treated simply based on surface differences.  Folks in hoodies are thugs and deserve it. Folks that don’ make the police feel safe must be themselves scary, threatening individuals whose life history must be slandered to protect the guilty. Our white male straight christian culture looks for ways to make every body that’s not them a culpable party.  We’re all deserving of pain and violence simply by not being them. Hoodie wearers deserve to be shot.  Slinky Dress wearers deserve to be raped.  Loving any one outside a sanctioned straight marriage deserves to be bullied and turned away from your business.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Charles, let me — I want to get back to this — this first finding here, that relational — race relations are worse under a Black president than they were under a white president.

>hat — what do you make of that?

CHARLES BLOW, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, I mean they…

SCHIEFFER: Or at least they’re saying that’s what people say — are saying.

BLOW: Right. So — but you have to figure — ask yourself, is it a causal relationship, right?

Is it because of him and something that he has done or is it a reaction to him actually being the president, which is — which is not really about him, but about us, right?

And — and I think that is the bigger question, that is a bigger philosophical question as to how do we respond to people who do not look like us?

Do we believe that they have our interests at heart?

Do we believe that we can — we can identify and — and empathize with that person?

And — and if we cannot, then there’s — we kind of exacerbate something that may already exist in terms of bias, in terms of how we see race relations in this country.

And I think that’s a real question that we have to ask ourselves about who we are and whether or not things were, in fact, better before this president and — and just were kind of underneath the — kind of under the surface.

SCHIEFFER: David, what do you — and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s Barack Obama’s fault.

BLOW: Right.

SCHIEFFER: But I mean I found that stunning, that this would be the finding that a lot of people say that things are worse now than they were.

DAVID IGNATIUS, “WASHINGTON POST”: Sociologists sometimes talk about a revolution of rising expectations, where because of changes, the election of the first African-American president, having Eric Holder, an African-American as our — as our attorney general, people expect things are changing.

And then when they see evidence in these cases where young unarmed black men are being shot and they’re — they’re not — the people who shoot them are not being indicted, there’s a special anger because people thought things were getting better. They thought with this African-American president that it would be different six years on.

And I think that’s part of what’s behind it, is a sense of disappointment. You know, America has had race issues. This is our original sin. And it’s a continuum in our national story.

But I wonder if the explosion of anger now doesn’t have something to do with people saying it should have been better because of the changes we thought the country had made in electing Barack Obama.

SCHIEFFER: And — and it’s not.

IGNATIUS: And it’s not…

(CROSSTALK)

IGNATIUS: Here’s this problem that — I mean how many years have we heard about driving while black as an experience that African- Americans have?

You know, white people hear this, but do we really react?

In A Tight SituationI’ve been experiencing all kinds of deja vu all over again in all kinds of things relating to civil rights issues.  Here’s another clueless white male–David Lowry–on why forcing a woman to return your kiss isn’t a form of sexual assault.  But, but isn’t it cute that I want to invade her body space and physically do things to her she doesn’t want.  She’s not saying no!  She is just being coy so I won’think here a slut!!!  Coy deserves to be force kissed!!!

National Review editor Rich Lowry on Sunday argued that “attempted forced kissing” doesn’t count as sexual assault.

During a discussion about the Rolling Stone story on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, Lowry suggested that the magazine “had an agenda.”

“Rolling Stone didn’t do basic fact-checking here, I believe because they had an agenda to portray UVA as the bastion of white male privilege, where basically rapists rule the social life,” he said.

CNN’s Van Jones then referenced the statistic that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college.

Lowry shot back that the statistic was “bogus” and complained that the survey used “includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault.”

The ABC panelists then berated Lowry for his claim.

“It’s not a crime that the police are going to be involved in and prosecute,” he insisted.

Here’s another cluess white male with his christian privilege showing.  Everybody’s beliefs are made up and not real except his.  Other people’s religions deserve to be ignored.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued over the weekend that a Satanist holiday display should be banned from the Florida state Capitol where a Christian nativity had been erected because they did not practice a “legitimate religion.”

Last week, the Satanic Temple won the right to place a display of an angel burning in hell alongside other holiday displays in the Florida Capitol building after officials initially rejected it, saying the Satanic message was “grossly offensive during the holiday season.”

“I’m assuming that there aren’t a ton of Satanists in Tallahassee,” Carlson told Bible Based Church Pastor Darrick McGhee on Saturday. “I’m assuming there really aren’t any at all, and this is purely an attempt to stick a finger in the eye of Christians in Florida.”

“So the rationale here is that Satanism is legitimate religion,” the Fox News host complained.

McGhee explained that the Satanic Temple had met the guidelines set by Florida’s Department of Management Services.

“They must be pretty stupid guidelines,” Carlson quipped, later adding that Satanist should have chosen any of the “51 other weeks in the year.”

“Just to be totally clear, you would not have an objection if a Jewish group or a Muslim group or a Baha’i group or something legitimate other religion wanted a display in the state capitol, would you?” Carlson wondered.

“No objection whatsoever,” McGhee agreed.

“I mean, this is just an inability to draw reasonable distinctions between reality and what is a pretty offensive prank,” Carlson concluded.cbe0925cd-beliefs-500

And more of this crap from states trying to put white male privilege into law.   Michigan wants to enact a religious right to discriminate.  In other words, if it offends white male christians, they can do whatever they want to the rest of us.

The Michigan House of Representatives, led by Speaker Jase Bolger (photo, above, left, with Gov. Rick Snyder,) just passed a bill that would allow discrimination to become sanction by the state. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, akin to one that made nationwide headlines in Arizona but was vetoed, appears to merely force the government to step aside if a person’s “deeply-held religious beliefs” mandate they act, or not act, in a certain manner.

Supporters of these bills claim they allow people of faith to exercise their religion without government interference, but in reality, they are trojan horses, allowing rampant discrimination under the guise of religious observance.

For example, under the Religious Freedom law, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a doctor’s prescription for birth control, or HIV medication. An emergency room physician or EMT could refuse service to a gay person in need of immediate treatment. A school teacher could refuse to mentor the children of a same-sex couple, and a DMV clerk could refuse to give a driver’s license to a person who is divorced.

Michigan Speaker Bolger fast-tracked the bill, which passed on partisan lines, 59-50. It now heads to the Michigan Senate, and if successful, to Republican Governor Rick Snyder. It is not known if Gov. Snyder would sign it.

“I support individual liberty and I support religious freedom,” Bolger said today. “I have been horrified as some have claimed that a person’s faith should only be practiced while hiding in their home or in their church.”

MLive reports that Michigan’s RFRA is “modeled after a federal version that the Supreme Court has said should not apply to states.”

I’m just having a real difficult time handling all of this.  Sometimes I believe that things will never get better.  Discrimination Nation

How do you fight back?  These folks have media outlets spewing continual hatred and crap.  They’re obviously not beneath running complete nonsense and obvious fear mongering ads and TV programs.  They’re not ashamed to lie or slander.  They also know exactly what to say and do to keep the angry sheep in line.  I’ve got very few answers these days to anything

So, want to play a little Spot the Africa to pass some time?

Have a great day!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Who Will Police the Police?

police brutality2

Good Morning!!

At least it’s a good morning for those of us who don’t have to live in fear of being murdered or having a loved one murdered for no good reason by policemen who will not be held accountable.

Yesterday it was Eric Garner’s family that had to deal with the decision of a grand jury in Staten Island not to indict the man who killed their husband, son, father. Will Tamir Rice’s family soon suffer the same fate?

From The New York Daily News, Protests, marches and ‘die-ins’ erupt after grand jury’s decision not to indict chokehold cop Daniel Pantaleo in death of Eric Garner.

Although stark video failed to sway a grand jury to indict a cop in the chokehold homicide of Eric Garner, it captured the shock and rage Wednesday on the Staten Island street where he was killed….

“He got away with a homicide!” one irate woman screamed into her cell phone. “Who gets away with a homicide? Who? Name one person, and it’s on video! Oh my God! What more do you want?”

Chants of “Justice for who? Eric Garner!” broke out in front of 202 Bay St., the beauty supply shop where Garner was placed in a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo and taken to the ground with the help of other cops as he pleaded “I can’t breathe!”

Jamillah Rivera, 25, of Staten Island said it was hard to fathom that anyone could watch the sickening video of Garner’s takedown — first published by NYDailyNews.com — and not see anything illegal.

“I was there, I saw the whole thing,” said Rivera. “The cop (Pantaleo) stuck up his middle finger to all of us. He thought it was a big joke. How does someone like that go free?”

Good question.

Daniel Pantaleo chokes Eric Garner on video.

Daniel Pantaleo chokes Eric Garner on video.

Daniel Pantaleo already had a troubled history when he choked Eric Garner to death in July. From the AP via Huffington Post:

Court records show that within the past two years, three men sued Daniel Pantaleo — the officer seen wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck — over allegedly unlawful, racially motivated arrests. Garner was black.

In the first lawsuit, settled by the city in January, two black men accused Pantaleo and other officers of arresting them without cause and subjecting them to a “humiliating and unlawful strip search” on the street in which they were ordered to “pull their pants and underwear down, squat and cough.” The men said they were held overnight on charges that were ultimately dismissed.

In a second lawsuit, a man accused Pantaleo and other officers of misrepresenting facts in a police report and other documents to substantiate charges that also were dismissed.

The first lawsuit cost the city $30,000.

The suit, which was settled in January…alleges that Pantaleo and several other officers — Joseph Torres, Ignazio Conca, and Steven Lopez — “unlawfully stopped” a vehicle on Jersey Street in New Brighton. Another officer, Christian Cataldo, arrived at the scene later.

Two of the car’s passengers, Darren Collins and Tommy Rice — a federally convicted gun felon who had been released from prison five months prior — wound up suing in Brooklyn federal court.

According to the lawsuit, after getting license and registration information from both the car’s driver, Morris Wilson, and Collins, the officers ordered Collins and Rice out of the vehicle for a search.

After they were handcuffed, “Pantaleo and/or Conca pulled down the plaintiffs’ pants and underwear, and touched and searched their genital areas, or stood by while this was done in their presence,” the lawsuit alleged.

Pantaleo then took the two men to the 120th Precinct stationhouse, where Pantaleo and Torres strip-searched them again, forcing them “to remove all of their clothing, squat, cough and lift their genitals.”

The men were charged with drug crimes, but the cases were later dismissed. Pantaleo had lied about seeing drugs in plain sight in the car in order to justify the stop and search.

Garner protests

In August, Tommy Rice reacted to the killing of Eric Garner by Pantaleo:

One of the men who filed a lawsuit against the NYPD after Officer Daniel Pantaleo falsely arrested him two years ago said he was “shocked and disappointed” the cop had been let back on the streets.

“I was kind of stunned,” said Tommy Rice, 43, of the moment he saw video of Pantaleo putting a deadly chokehold on Eric Garner.

“I went to Internal Affairs two years (ago) and they did nothing to this cop,” he said. “They let him back on the streets.”

In the second lawsuit, which is still active, Rylawn Walker accused Pantaleo of falsely arrest him in February 2012. Marijuana charges against Walker were dismissed and the records sealed shortly after the arrest.

The Daily Beast has a good piece on an earlier case similar to Eric Garner’s–it’s the story of the real life “Radio Raheem” from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

In Do the Right Thing, as the policeman squeezes the life out of Raheem, one of the onlookers can be heard shouting, “They did it again… just like Michael Stewart.” That’s because the death of Raheem was inspired by the tragic story of Stewart who, like Garner, was cut down by New York law enforcement and whose case ran into problems with the grand jury. Jonathan Moore, a famed civil rights attorney who represented the Stewart family in a subsequent suit against the city, is representing Garner’s family.

At 2:50 a.m. on September 15, 1983, Michael Stewart was spray-painting a wall at the L train’s First Avenue subway station. He was a black, 135-pound art student at Pratt Institute, as well as an aspiring model. New York City Transit cop John Kostick observed Stewart graffiti “RQS” on the wall, and after approaching him, said he surrendered without conflict. “Hey man, you got me,” Stewart said, according to Kostick. The 25-year-old was on his way home to the Clinton Hill neighborhood where he resided with his parents, and his father was a retired MTA maintenance worker.

chokehold-protestAccording to Kostick, while awaiting a van to transport Stewart to the nearest police station, his mood changed. He sprinted from him, and fell to the ground. Once inside the van, several officers allege they subdued him en route to the District 4 transit police station in Union Square. Stewart allegedly tried to run again when they arrived at Union Square. Twenty-three Parsons students later claimed to have observed a struggle between Stewart and the transit police outside the District 4 station, with student Rebecca Reiss alleging she heard him shriek, “Oh my God, someone help me… What did I do? What did I do?” Stewart was eventually booked at the station for resisting arrest and unlawful possession of marijuana (a single joint), and was then hogtied with an elastic strap, and transported to Bellevue for psychiatric evaluation. By the time he arrived there at 3:22 a.m., with a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit, he was comatose. He died 13 days later.

Read much more about it at The Daily Beast link.

Isn’t it interesting that the police officers involved in two recent police-involved shootings also had questionable backgrounds?

Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August, had previously worked for a police force that had to be disbanded because of racial problems and corruption. From The Washington Post on August 23:

After going through the police academy, Wilson landed a job in 2009 as a rookie officer in Jennings, a small, struggling city of 14,000 where 89 percent of the residents were African American and poverty rates were high. At the time, the 45-employee police unit had one or two black members on the force, said Allan Stichnote, a white Jennings City Council member.

Racial tension was endemic in Jennings, said Rodney Epps, an African American city council member.

“You’re dealing with white cops, and they don’t know how to address black people,” Epps said. “The straw that broke the camel’s back, an officer shot at a female. She was stopped for a traffic violation. She had a child in the back [of the] car and was probably worried about getting locked up. And this officer chased her down Highway 70, past city limits, and took a shot at her. Just ridiculous.”

Police faced a series of lawsuits for using unnecessary force, Stichnote said. One black resident, Cassandra Fuller, sued the department claiming a white Jennings police officer beat her in June 2009 on her own porch after she made a joke. A car had smashed into her van, which was parked in front of her home, and she called police. The responding officer asked her to move the van. “It don’t run. You can take it home with you if you want,” she answered. She said the officer became enraged, threw her off the porch, knocked her to the ground and kicked her in the stomach….

The Jennings department also had a corruption problem. A joint federal and local investigation discovered that a lieutenant had been accepting federal funds for drunken-driving checks that never happened….

All the problems became too much for the city council to bear, and in March 2011 the council voted 6-to-1 to shut down the department and hire St. Louis County to run its police services, putting Lt. Jeff Fuesting in charge as commander.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

According to the WaPo, a fellow officer described Wilson as “average,” someone who “didn’t go above and beyond” but “didn’t get in trouble” either.

Timothy Loehmann, who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland on November 22, had also previously worked for a smaller police force before getting his job at the Cleveland PD.

From The Guardian US: Officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice judged unfit for duty by police in 2012.

Officer Timothy Loehmann, who killed Tamir Rice on 22 November, was specifically faulted for breaking down emotionally while handling a live gun. During a training episode at a firing range, Loehmann was reported to be “distracted and weepy” and incommunicative. “His handgun performance was dismal,” deputy chief Jim Polak of the Independence, Ohio, police department wrote in an internal memo.

The memo concludes with a recommendation that Loehmann be “released from the employment of the City of Independence”. Less than a week later, on 3 December 2012, Loehmann resigned.

So why the hell was he hired in Cleveland in March 2014?

On a Saturday afternoon last month, Loehmann and a partner, Frank Garmack, were dispatched to Cleveland’s Cudell Commons Park after a 911 caller reported “a guy” in the park was pointing a “probably fake” gun at people. Surveillance video recovered after the incident showed Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old, handling a pistol-sized pellet gun.

Loehmann shot the boy dead within two seconds of a police car driven by Garmack arriving to the park and pulling to a stop within feet of the child. In the video, released by Cleveland police a week ago, Loehmann appears to fire his gun as he opens the door to leave the police car.

Loehmann has been taken off patrol duties in Cleveland and the shooting is under internal review.

Read more at the link.

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice

A few more details about Loehmann’s problems from The Washington Post:

Two years ago, when he was working for a police department in a Cleveland suburb, Tim Loehmann participated in firearms qualification training.

Loehmann struggled with the exercise, according to a memo penned Nov. 29, 2012, by Jim Polak, deputy chief of the Independence Police Department and obtained Wednesday by Northeast Ohio Media Group. He was “distracted” and “weepy,” Polak wrote, and did not seem “mentally prepared” for the task.

“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” Polak wrote.

The letter recommended that the department split with Loehmann, who later resigned and went on to graduate from the city of Cleveland’s police academy. A Cleveland police spokesman told the media group that officers didn’t look at the file before hiring Loehmann.

“Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need be followed to the letter, and I am under the impression Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances, will not react in the way instructed,” the letter reads.

police-brutality

The US Department of Justice is currently looking into civil rights violations in the Michael Brown case, and yesterday Attorney General Eric Holder announced there would be a similar investigation into Eric Garner’s death.

It seems to me that a nationwide investigation of police practices is called for at this point. There have been numerous cases of white police officers killing unarmed black men and boys. When will it end? This is a shocking and serious issue that must be dealt with as a systemic problem.

What do you think? What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and hug the people you love today.


Tuesday Reads: So Many Racists, A**holes, Morons, and Lunatics; So Little Patience

Obama and daughters books

Good Morning!!

Just look at those awful teenage girls wearing coats in a bookstore! How shocking! And the President in jeans and casual jacket! Impeach him immediately!

As everyone knows by now, GOP aide to Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) Elizabeth Lauten learned the hard way that when you attack the President’s family on Facebook, lots of people see it; and then your ugly words go viral on Twitter and other social media sites.

Addressing her comments directly to the Obama girls, Lauten wrote that they should ‘‘respect the part you play,’’ and added: ‘‘Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department.’’

Lauten also urged the Obama girls to ‘‘dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.’’

Lauten later apologized for the comments and deleted the original post, which drew harsh criticism across social media.

In her pathetic “apology,” as Eugene Robinson noted on Rachel Maddow’s show last night, Lauten failed to say she was sorry for insulting any of the  members of the Obama family.

‘‘When I first posted on Facebook I reacted to an article and I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager,’’ Lauten told The Commercial Appeal of Memphis in an email. ‘‘Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I’d like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words.’’

Whatever, lady. I’m glad you’re out of a job. Instant Karma is so satisfying.

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson

Speaking of f**king a**holes, I’ve managed for a long time now to avoid seeing or hearing anything about MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” or its moronic hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Unfortunately, this morning I accidentally clicked on a link to Mediaite and read something about their asinine TV show.

This morning the above-mentioned Eugene Robinson was on the program and dared to say that Michael Brown might have had his hands up when he was shot and killed by Darren Wilson. Robinson’s reasoning? A number of eyewitnesses said so and there’s nothing in the evidence that proves Brown wasn’t surrendering.

According to Mediaite’s Evan McMurry, things “got awkward.”

“I don’t believe there’s anything in the record, certainly not in the forensic evidence, that precludes the possibility that he had his hands up at some point when he was approaching the officer,” Robinson said.

“That’s an awfully low standard,” cohost Joe Scarborough replied. “There’s also no evidence that doesn’t suggest a flying saucer from Venus swooped over all of them. There’s no evidence that it’s precluded, Gene. I’m not being difficult. I’m just saying the truth actually does matter.”

“I think it’s a very uncomfortable question for you, Gene,” Brzezinski said. “Because if you say no, there’s no evidence his hands up, you’re probably insulting a lot of people. Do you feel uncomfortable with the question?”

Now what do you suppose Brzezinski meant by that? Oh yeah, Robinson is black and so Mika thinks he must have to lie in order to pacify other black people. Are you lying to please your puppet master Joe Scarborough and the racist audience to your show, Mika?

You can watch the video at the Mediaite link above.

nfl

The racists are also up in arms about the five St. Louis Rams players (all black) who had the nerve to express solidarity with Ferguson protesters by standing with their hands up before their football game on Sunday. St. Louis police officers were enraged by this mild display of support, and complained loudly in the media.

St. Louis police chief Jon Belmar then publicly claimed that the Rams organization had apologized for the players actions. A battle of words followed, in which the Rams denied apologizing and Belmar kept insisting they had. From the NY Daily News:

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the St. Louis Rams apologized to local law enforcement officials Monday after five players walked onto the field Sunday with their arms raised high in solidarity with the Ferguson protesters, a claim the team denied in a bizarre war of words that erupted overnight between the team and cops.

Police immediately cried foul at the act during the Rams’ Week 13 home blowout of the Oakland Raiders, but the NFL sacked the cops’ request and chose not to discipline the players.

There was still fallout to manage and Rams COO Kevin Demoff tried to satisfy the outcry by local cops when he called Belmar on Monday and apologized for the players’ unsanctioned actions, according to the chief.

“Mr. Demoff clearly regretted that any members of the Ram’s (sic) organization would act in a way that minimized the outstanding work that police officers and departments carry out each and every day,” Belmar said in an email to the department, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. “My impression of the call was that it was heartfelt and I assured him that I would share it with my staff.” ….

But CNN’s Rachel Nichols said Rams spokesman Artis Twyman told CNN the team “did not apologize” to St. Louis police.

And Demoff backed up that claim when reached by the Post-Dispatch late Monday. “In none of these conversations did I apologize for our players’ actions,” Demoff told the Post-Dispatch. “I did say in each conversation that I regretted any offense their officers may have taken. We do believe it is possible to both support our players’ First Amendment rights and support the efforts of local law enforcement as our community begins the process of healing.”

My advice to Belmar and police departments all over the country: Get over it and stop killing innocent citizens.

John Boehner swears in Florida's Ted Yoho.

John Boehner swears in Florida’s Ted Yoho.

And speaking of moronic a**holes, John Boehner is set to do battle with the crazy caucus today. Reuters: Boehner to seek support for plan to avoid government shutdown.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner will try to sell fellow Republicans this week on a government spending bill that avoids a shutdown fight but allows the party to strike back at President Barack Obama’s immigration order.

Republicans have a lot riding on their handling of must-pass government funding. Having scored huge wins in Nov. 4 voting that handed them a majority in the Senate and gave them a bigger majority in the House, Republican leaders want to demonstrate that they can govern responsibly next year.

But many are still outraged that Obama bypassed Congress and is moving ahead unilaterally on immigration, granting what they claim is “amnesty” to people who came to the United States illegally.

House Republicans will meet on Tuesday after a 10-day Thanksgiving break to discuss their response, including a leading option for Boehner that would fund most government agencies through September 2015, with only a short-term extension for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

House Republican lawmakers and aides say this would give them a chance to use their stronger House and Senate majorities next year to pass explicit spending restrictions on some DHS agencies, to try to stop Obama’s immigration overhaul.

More details from Bloomberg Politics:

House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republican leaders are turning to large-animal veterinarian and Tea Party darling Ted Yoho to help avoid a second government shutdown in as many years.

The freshman Florida Republican has proposed a bill that aims to remove the president’s executive power when it comes to deportations. It’s a symbolic measure that would have essentially zero chance of passing in the last days of a Democratic-controlled Senate. But Boehner and his crew hope it’s enough to pacify a Republican caucus seething over President Barack Obama’s immigration actions last month.

Boehner and other Republican leaders have vowed to avoid a repeat of the 16-day shutdown last year. Their best shot may be coupling Yoho’s bill with a measure that would temporarily fund immigration agencies and provide longer-term financing for the rest of the federal government. The deadline is Dec. 11, when current funding ends.

Yoho, whose opposition to Obamacare contributed to the last shutdown, was an unlikely star of the 2012 election cycle, knocking off 12-term incumbent Cliff Stearns in a Republican primary for a North Florida district after selling his veterinary practice to run. Since being sworn in, the 59-year-old Republican has voted against Boehner for speaker, said an Obamacare tax on indoor tanning was “racist,” and suggested that a government shutdown could stabilize markets.

Yoho sounds like a lunatic. How on earth do people like this get elected?

Bill Cassidy tries to smile and fails miserably.

Bill Cassidy tries to smile and fails miserably.

Speaking of lunatics, last night I watched the final debate between Louisiana Senate candidates Bill Cassidy and Mary Landrieu. If the result of the runoff election on Saturday weren’t so important, the “debate” would have been a laugh riot. The main topics were abortion, guns, Obamacare, Cassidy’s double dipping at the expense of taxpayers and Landrieu’s weak support of the hated black President.

It was difficult to listen to what Cassidy was saying, because he is so strange-looking, and when he forces a smile, he looks like something out of a vampire movie. Even though Mary Landrieu is a pretty conservative Democrat, I couldn’t help liking her when I noticed she had a hard time not laughing out loud when Cassidy was talking.

From NOLA.com:

The gloves came off during the testy final U.S. Senate debate Monday night between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. Controversies dominated the discussion, including assertions that  Cassidyfalsified time sheets and Landrieu used taxpayer money to take charter airplane flights to campaign events.

Landrieu worked her main allegation, that Cassidy billed Louisiana State University for work he didn’t perform, into answers throughout the debate. She said it’s an issue that should follow him beyond Saturday’s election.

“If he wins, he will be fighting more than President Obama. He will be fighting subpoenas because he padded his time sheet,” Landrieu said. “He’ll talk about everyone else’s record but his own.”

Cassidy denied the allegations and defended his record. “These charges are absolutely false. The Landrieu campaign takes these charges, and they twist them anyway they can. I’m proud of the work I’ve done at LSU,” Cassidy said.

A physician, Cassidy said his work at LSU hospitals helped people, while Landrieu’s charter flights helped only her. Landrieu countered that she had taken responsibility for the flights, which she attributed to a bookkeeping error, and paid back the Treasury.

Read more at the link.

During their extended argument over abortion, I was surprised to hear Cassidy state as fact that a 20-month fetus is viable and capable of feeling pain. I was also shocked when Landrieu said she is against all abortions and thinks they are immoral, but that the government shouldn’t be making those decisions. At least she’s “pro-choice.”

After watching that debate, I thanked my lucky stars that my Senators are Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.

That’s about all the news I could dredge up this morning. I’ll be so glad when the holidays come to an end. What stories are you following today?


Monday Reads: Counter the Culture

Joni MitchellGood Morning!

I’m going to try to go light and easy this morning since we’ve had enough trauma recently.  Here are some interesting reads! For those of you who are fans of Joanie Mitchell, there’s a great set of interviews with her on the occasion of her 71st birthday and her release of new and old music.  Mitchell has been a nearly life long muse for me.

Q: You’ve voiced concern over what you call the “push-button generation of today.” What is impairing us the most?

A: Everything is about channel changing. It has ruined attention spans. I spaced out in school but I didn’t develop attention-deficit issues because I placed attention on my imagination and ignored the curriculum. I didn’t have a million newsfeeds to contend with. It is just like when I have people over to my house to watch a film—it’s like living in a Robert Altman movie! They are always talking over each other. We are all losing the plot. It’s an addiction to phones and too much information.

Q: What repercussions do you think future generations will feel now that everyone is on their phone during concerts, etc.?

A: Here’s an example. My grandson and I were sailing on a boat and he said, “It’s boring.” I asked, “How can you say it’s boring? The sun is shining, we’re going across the water so fast . . . ” And he said, “Not fast enough.” Technology has given him this appetite.

Another inspiration from my high school and university days was Jack Kerouac.  I live less than a block where he used to jump off the train–you’ll Jack Kerouachear it frequently if you’re on the phone with me–and hang out at one of my neighborhood bars.  It seems the Neal Cassady letter that described Joan Anderson and inspired “On the Road” has been found and will be sold at auction.  It’s been lost for 60 years.

It’s been called the letter that launched a literary genre — 16,000 amphetamine-fueled, stream-of-consciousness words written by Neal Cassady to his friend Jack Kerouac in 1950.

Upon reading them, Kerouac scrapped an early draft of “On The Road” and, during a three-week writing binge, revised his novel into a style similar to Cassady’s, one that would become known as Beat literature.

The letter, Kerouac said shortly before his death, would have transformed his counterculture muse Cassady into a towering literary figure, if only it hadn’t been lost.

Turns out it wasn’t, says Joe Maddalena, whose Southern California auction house Profiles in History is putting the letter up for sale Dec. 17. It was just misplaced, for 60-some years.

It’s being offered as part of a collection that includes papers by E.E. Cummings, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Penn Warren and other prominent literary figures. But Maddalena believes the item bidders will want most is Cassady’s 18-page, single-spaced screed describing a drunken, sexually charged, sometimes comical visit to his hometown of Denver.

“It’s the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation, and there are so many rumors and speculation of what happened to it,” Maddalena said.

Kerouac told The Paris Review in 1968 that poet Allen Ginsberg loaned the letter to a friend who lived on a houseboat in Northern California. Kerouac believed the friend then dropped it overboard.

“It was my property, a letter to me, so Allen shouldn’t have been so careless with it, nor the guy on the houseboat,” he said.

As for the quality of the letter, Kerouac described it this way: “It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves.”

00d866b924c60902c085c1c947c755b9Well, I’ve always known my life in the Dismal Science as a woman wasn’t easy.  Here’s more on that.

British physicist Matt Taylor, who was involved with the Rosetta comet landing, recently found himself in the middle of a controversy about sexism and bad taste, after he was interviewed wearing a tacky shirt featuring pin-up girls toting guns. In true Internet fashion, the incident was labeled ShirtStorm, and it sparked a debate about sexism in the sciences. Taylor has since apologized, issued a series of mea culpas, and showed as much contrition as one person could for a sartorial offense. Some of his female colleagues even came to his defense.

But all of this raises a question: Why is it that the sciences look like a feminist nirvana compared with the economics profession, which seems to have a built-in bias that prevents women from advancing?

Consider this 2011 blog post by George Mason University economist Robin Hanson. Hanson writes that “gentle, silent rape” of a woman by a man causes less harm than a wife cuckolding her husband:

I [am puzzled] over why our law punishes rape far more than cuckoldry…[M]ost men would rather be raped than cuckolded…Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret…Now compare the two cases, cuckoldry and gentle silent rape.

There was no outcry whatsoever over these remarks, nor any retraction that I could find.

Or consider this similar post from 2013 by University of Rochester economist Steve Landsburg:

Let’s suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm — no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission…Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?    

The  blog post sparked protests at Landsburg’s university, but silence from the economics profession itself. Landsburg later apologized, stating that some readers “got the impression that I was endorsing rape, while my intent was to say exactly the opposite.” Although it’s good that he apologized, Landsburg has made other sexist remarks on his blog. In 2012, he seemed to call pro-contraception activist Sandra Fluke a “prostitute,” and defended Rush Limbaugh’s demand that Fluke post a sex tape for the world to view.

In physics, a shirt depicting scantily clad women is a big deal, but in economics, everyone just sort of expects these things.

These aren’t just anecdotes. There is quantitative evidence showing that economics is uniquely biased against women. According to a new paper by economists Donna Ginther and Shulamit Kahn and psychologists Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams, sexism in econ is much more severe than in the sciences.

Oh, and that’s economist Joan Robinson up there if you don’t recognize her.   She was an major influence on J.M. Keynes.  She extended Keynes’ analysis in to the long run in the 1950s and also took Keynesian analysis to Marx’s works.  She’s also a mentor to Joseph Stiglitz and one other Nobel Laureate. 

It has been claimed that Joan Robinson did not mind upsetting people with her work: “Never one to mince words, possessor of a civilized wit, sometimes bleakly rude, not always fair but always honest, as hard on herself as on those she criticized, Joan Robinson more than any other economist of the twentieth century became a model for progressive radicals, fearlessly following arguments to conclusions no matter how incompatible they proved to be.”

 Journalists are being arrested in Ferguson, MO again despite court orders and instructions. 

A Journalist’s arrest during a protest near the Ferguson, Mo., police headquarters early Sunday drew renewed attention to disputes over 1st Amendment rights in the wake of a white police officer’s killing of an unarmed black man.

Trey Yingst, a reporter with News2Share, was accused of unlawful assembly and taken into custody, according to St. Louis County police. News2Share publishes stories by freelance reporters online.
A police summary notes that Yingst was among a group that was obstructing traffic at South Florissant Road and Compton Avenue.

“The group of subjects were gathered on the street and sidewalks at that intersection. The on-scene commander engaged the crowd and instructed them that they were impeding the flow of traffic and would be subject to arrest if they did not exit the roadway,” the police summary says. “The crowd ignored the commander’s verbal commands to exit the roadway and continued to impede the flow of traffic.”

Police say most of the crowd dispersed, but Yingst and another person, David Rodriguez, 26, did not, so they were taken into custody. Several witnesses said Yingst was on the sidewalk when he was arrested.

Shortly after his release from jail, Yinsgt said on Twitter that he had been “arrested for exercising my 1st amendment rights on a public sidewalk.”

The protests in Ferguson began Aug. 9, when police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot an 18-year-old unarmed black man, Michael Brown. In August, some journalists were arrested while covering the demonstrations.

On Sunday, the American Civil Liberties Union said it was “unclear what legal authority police officers would have had to order him to disperse.”

“We are deeply troubled that the 1st Amendment rights of the media are still being violated in spite of the recent court order we secured against such action by the County of St. Louis,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary swiftly pursue aggressive action to ensure that unlawful interference with the press comes to an end.”

 A 12 year old boy that was playing in a play ground with a toy gun was shot and killed by the Cleveland Police.  I’m sure you don’t have to guess the fergusonrace of the child that law enforcement is now characterizing as a “young man”.

The 12-year-old boy wielding what turned out to be a BB gun when he was shot by police outside a Cleveland recreation center died early Sunday morning, a police union official confirmed.

The boy, whose name has not been officially released, was shot in the stomach at Cudell Recreation Center, at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard, about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.

He was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in serious condition, EMS officials said. Throughout the night his condition deteriorated and he died early Sunday, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer said.

The shooting came after a man at the park adjacent to the rec center called police when he saw “a guy with a gun pointing it at people.

The caller twice said the gun was “probably fake” and told dispatchers the person pulling the gun from his waistband was “probably a juvenile,” according to audio released by police officials late Saturday.

3568ecaa36b392f4d5b0ca08cbe0dc39Sunday news shows including shows of white men defending a system where police indiscriminately shoot black children.  The worst of them was ABC where Rudy Gulliani  blamed black people for causing white police presence in their neighborhoods.   I seriously wish these guys would actually come live some place other than white enclaves with gates everywhere and see what the real deal is.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) got into a heated argument about race and crime with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson during a discussion on Ferguson, Mo.

“But the fact is, I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here,” Giuliani said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” while discussing whether police forces reflect the demographics of the communities they serve.

Dyson called this a “false equivalency.”

“Can I say this, first of all, no black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail. Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as a agent of the state to uphold the law,” he said. “So in both cases, that’s a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn, which is exacerbated tensions that are deeply imbedded in American culture.”

Later in the argument Giuliani argued that while police officers are only present in certain communities because black people are committing crimes.

“It is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community,” he said. “White police officers won’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 percent of the time.”

Dyson shot back at Giuliani and said, “this is a defense mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind.”

So, that gives you a choice of the serious and the interesting to read this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: He Said, She Said, They Said …

Good Morning!

27771942We’re seeing some movement from the Clintons which may signal that Hillary is seriously considering the presidential run.  Hillary went on record supporting the President’s move on immigration last night.

Clinton – the Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential race — took to Twitter to thank Obama, moments after his speech from the White House.

“Thanks to POTUS for taking action on immigration in the face of inaction,” she tweeted. “Now let’s turn to permanent bipartisan reform. #ImmigrationAction.”

Bill Clinton spoke to an audience for TNR’s 100th birthday.

And so what I would like to do tonight is to say: We’re all pretty familiar with what’s happened in the last 100 years, but I think it’s important not to airbrush it too much. And by that, I mean that every attempt to make America’s republic new, every attempt to form a more perfect union (inaudible) every attempt to create a world we would like to live in and we would like our children and grandchildren to grow up in and flourish in, all of those were met with obstacles, had periods of great hope, followed by setbacks, followed by small steps, followed by struggles.

History is a messy thing. We like to think, you know, it’s just a rushing river. It may be, but there’s a lot of rocks in the river. And all of this you have chronicled. And people all along the road who have read it have benefited.

Now, you say the theme of this night is a new century of idealism and innovation. Well, the good news is, there’s plenty of innovation. It’s interesting, I pick up the paper in New York and I know I’m an old guy reading about a new world when the big struggle is, should Uber be allowed to drive along with the cabs and should Airbnb be allowed to put people up along with the Regis, St. Regis Hotel? I mean, it’s an interesting time to be alive. There’s lots of innovation. And the social networks are flourishing.

And on a more serious note, we’re getting profound benefits from the sequencing of the human genome. I spent $3 billion of your tax money on that. And it was worth every penny.

It really was. I worry about us underfunding basic research and science and technology, but…

But we announced the first sequencing in 2000, but, boy, it’s exploded since then. And there was a study about a year ago that said already $180 billion worth of economic benefits had flowed just to the United States from this effort, never mind what’s happening around the world.

09140c3ab735311981db293b2ddb1edfSome folks just know how to see the bigger picture.  Then, there are the Republicans.  Here’s a sample of what Republican officials have said in the last few days.   First up, some social commentary from the incoming Speaker of the Nevada house who has an issue with black people and appears to be a Neo-Confederate, misogynist, racist, and homobigot all wrapped up in one great big bald-headed, white, package.

He also referred to public schools as a form of “educational slavery,” writing that “[t]he Democratic coalition would split asunder if the NAACP & co. actually promoted what black Americans truly desire — educational choice. The shrewd and calculating [black] ’leaders’ are willing to sacrifice the children of their own race to gratify their lust for power and position. The relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.”

Hansen registered further displeasure with the “simple minded darkies” more directly, too, noting that “[t]he lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.”

His thoughts on homosexuality and feminism are equally regressive. For years, he wrote, he kept a “rough tally on homosexual/heterosexual molesters as reported locally,” and found that “roughly half of all molestations involve homosexual men preying on boys,” citing as further evidence the existence of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and the Catholic church molestation scandals as evidence of gay male depravity.

As for women, he wrote that their proclivity for filing sexual harassment suits made them unfit to serve their country, claiming that “[t]oday, when Army men look at women in the ranks with ’longing in their eyes’ it very well may constitute ’sexual harassment.’ The truth is, women do not belong in the Army or Navy or Marine Corps, except in certain limited fields.”

images (1) Another Oil Rig has exploded off the Louisiana Gulf Coast.  It killed one person and injured 3.  The rig was not in production so there appears to be no leaking oil at the moment.

One person is dead and three people are injured after an oil platform explosion 12 miles off the coast of New Orleans, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The three injured are being treated at an offshore medical facility. One person, who hasn’t been identified, died in the explosion, BSEE officials say. All other employees have been accounted for.

The platform is operated by Houston-based Fieldwood Energy, which reported the explosion of its Echo Platform, West Delta 105, just before 3 p.m., according to the BSEE.

The platform was not in production at the time of the explosion. Officials say no pollution was reported, and no damage to the facility was done.

I’m assuming we’ll find out more today and tomorrow.

The Obama administration appears to be pressuring a Senate Committee that’s been studying US torture and detentions during the Bush years.  Will we ever find out what those criminals did in our name?  Why does the Obama administration want the images (2)report suppressed?

The White House is fiercely resisting the release of an executive summary of a 6,300-page Senate report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, Senate aides tell Foreign Policy, raising fears that the public will never receive a full accounting of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 torture practices.

At issue is the report’s identification of individual CIA officers by pseudonyms. The CIA and the White House want the pseudonyms and references to other agency activities completely stricken to further protect the identities of CIA spies. Senate aides say many of those redactions are unnecessary and render the report unreadable. Now even after Senate Democrats agreed to remove some pseudonyms at the White House’s request, the Oval Office is still haggling for more redactions.

“The White House is continuing to put up fierce resistance to the release of the report,” said one knowledgeable Senate aide. “Ideally, we should be closing ground and finalizing the last stages right now so that we can release the report post-Thanksgiving. But, despite the fact that the committee has drastically reduced the number of pseudonyms in the report, the White House is still resisting and dragging this out.”

A White House official denied the accusation. “The president has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the committee’s report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible,” said the official. “We share the Intelligence Committee’s desire for the declassified report to be released; and all of the administration’s efforts since we received the initial version have been focused on making that happen, while also protecting our national security.”

Up until recently, Barack Obama’s administration had avoided taking sides in the public spat between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the report — a $40 million, five-year study that is harshly critical of the agency. However, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is now personally negotiating with Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California for further redactions, which is rankling some Democrats.

Cary Makes A CallHouse Republicans have passed a bill preventing the EPA from using the science provided by the scientists advising the EPA.  

Congressional climate wars were dominated Tuesday by the U.S. Senate, which spent the day debating, and ultimately  failing to pass, a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While all that was happening, and largely unnoticed, the House was busy doing what it does best: attacking science.

H.R. 1422, which  passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those pesky scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations.

The bill is being framed as  a play for transparency: Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas,  argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it  “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.

But the White House, which threatened to veto the bill,  said it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”

Yes, it’s going to be crazy go nuts the next few years.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?