Tuesday Reads: Back Home Again In Indiana

Mounds State Park, near Muncie, IN with the Great Mound in the distance.

Mounds State Park, near Muncie, IN with the Great Mound in the background.

Good Morning!!

My family moved to Indiana when I was ten years old. My Dad had been offered a job as a professor at Ball State Teachers College (soon to be Ball State Univerity) in Muncie. He bought his first house there in one of those brand new 1950s developments that were springing up all over to respond to the needs of returning WWII vets and other upwardly mobile couples with growing families–like my parents.

I went to school in Muncie from 6th grade on. I graduated from Muncie Central High School in 1965, and then attended Ball State for two years. Muncie is a very different city now then when I was growing up there. At that time, Muncie was home to many auto parts factories that supported the car makers in Detroit. Thousands of people traveled from rural areas in Kentucky and Tennesee to find good paying jobs there.

I never felt like I fit in in Muncie. My parents were liberals and our family was Catholic. Only one other person I can recall–my best friend–had a father who was a professor. Muncie was mostly Republican and only about 10 percent Catholic. There was actually quite a bit of prejudice against Catholics there, and that was troubling to me. Other kids seemed to look at me oddly when they found out what my Dad did. I wanted to get out of there, and after two years of college, I moved to Boston.

Even though I wanted out of Muncie as a young woman, I’ve never lost my attachment to the natural beauty of Indiana. It’s still a largely rural state in which the geography varies widely depending on the region. Northern Indiana is lake country, Southern Indiana is filled with rolling hills and gorgeous scenery. The central part of the state where I grew up is flat and is still filled with the corn and soy fields that many people believe are all there is to Indiana. It’s not true. That’s just where the Interstate highways are. But I think the farm country is beautiful too.

As the car industry fell on hard times, so did Muncie. Unemployment skyrocketed, and stayed high for decades, as the car parts factories disappeared. Today Muncie is a majority Democratic “college town,” and Ball State is the city’s biggest employer. I think I could be happy in Muncie now, and I’ve often thought of moving back there in my old age. For one thing it’s a much less expensive place to live than Boston. For another thing, I miss those open spaces where you can see the horizon in the distance on all sides.

I’m telling you all this so you can understand that I still love Indiana, and why I am so deeply saddened by the way the Tea Party movement has captured the state’s government. Dakinikat has been posting quite a bit about the latest outrage–an extreme, post-Hobby-Lobby-decision version of the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Indiana has also been a leader in the right wing attacks on voting rights (strict voter ID law) and women’s reproductive rights (attacks on Planned Parenthood and attempts to pass extreme anti-abortion measures). Historically Indiana has tended to elect Republican Governors and Democratic Senators. I don’t know why that is, but it’s also true here in deep blue Massachusetts where for nearly 50 years I’ve lived under GOP rule. Indiana’s current governor is a very far right extremist, as the entire country now knows.

I thought I’d post some of the reactions to this horrible new law from inside Indiana.

This morning, the conservative Indianapolis Star–which endorsed Mike Pence in 2012–published a rare front page editorial:

 

Indy star fix it

 

Gov. Pence, fix ‘religious freedom’ law now.

We are at a critical moment in Indiana’s history.

And much is at stake.

Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.

All of this is at risk because of a new law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that no matter its original intent already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future.

The consequences will only get worse if our state leaders delay in fixing the deep mess created.

Half steps will not be enough. Half steps will not undo the damage.

Only bold action — action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens — will be enough to reverse the damage.

Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly need to enact a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Those protections and RFRA can co-exist. They do elsewhere.

Laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity are not foreign to Indiana.

Indianapolis, for example, has had those legal protections in place for nearly a decade. Indy’s law applies to businesses with more than six employees, and exempts religious organizations and non-profit groups.

The city’s human rights ordinance provides strong legal protection — and peace of mind —for LGBT citizens; yet, it has not placed an undue burden on businesses.

Importantly, passage of a state human rights law would send a clear message that Indiana will not tolerate discrimination. It’s crucial for that message to be communicated widely.

That would bring Indiana in line Illinois where the “religious freedom” laws is overridden by a strict non-discrimination statute; but for the moment, Pence seems determined to stick with his bigoted stance because of his ridiculous fantasy of running for president. Before this, he had no chance in hell. Now he’s becoming a laughing stock like Bobby Jindal. But even Jindal probably has a better shot at the GOP nomination than Pence does.

 

Bridgeton covered bridge, Indiana

Bridgeton covered bridge, Indiana

 

Fox 59 Indianapolis: Indiana’s reputation taking a hit over religious freedom bill.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 30, 2015)– Those who work in tourism in Indianapolis fear the economic impact and damage the religious freedom legislation could bring to the city and state’s economy. Sunday, Visit Indy said conventions had expressed questions about the controversial legislation, but none had expressed interest in leaving.

Monday, labor union AFSCME announced it would pull its women’s conference out of downtown Indianapolis. It was scheduled for October 9th through October 11th. Visit Indy said the conference was to be held at the JW Marriott downtown, with 800 expected attendees and an estimated $500,000 in economic impact.

Meanwhile, the state remained in the crosshairs online Monday, with the hashtag #boycottIndiana going strong on Twitter.

Cher criticized Governor Mike Pence over the weekend, and Apple CEO Tim Cookpenned an editorial in the Washington Post calling religious freedom laws like Indiana’s dangerous.

Visit Indy said they’re in crisis mode reassuring conventions Hoosiers are welcoming. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is taking a stand, too. Open for service stickers are affixed to the museum’s windows.

“We wanted to reaffirm to the community that we welcome everyone,” said Brian Statz, Vice-President of Operations and General Counsel.

Then Statz had better get busy and put serious pressure on Pence and the legislature, because this backlash has reached critical mass and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Bean Blossom covered bridge

Bean Blossom covered bridge

CBS 4 Indianapolis: City-County Council passes resolution opposing RFRA, sends loud message to state leaders.

INDIANAPOLIS (March 30, 2015)–The Indianapolis City-County Council passed a resolution Monday night opposing the new Religious Freedom Restoration law. The measure was sponsored and introduced by 16 council members on both sides of aisle. It passed in a 24-4 vote.

The resolution will now be sent to Statehouse for Gov. Mike Pence’s viewing.

Supporters of the measure say the current version of the law hurts Indiana commerce, repels young talented professionals and further tarnishes the Hoosier image.

“As the representatives of the city and the county, we feel it is our job to make sure we are doing everything to fight back and let the world know that Indianapolis is a welcoming place,” said John Barth, City-County Council vice president.

“If they need to repeal it then repeal it. If they can fix it, then fix it! But make it count and that’s really what we are saying tonight,” said Councilor Jeff Miller.

Before the meeting, those opposed to the new law rallied in-front of the City-Market. Chants and signs sent a clear message to the rest of the world: “No hate in our State.”

“Under no terms or wording is discrimination acceptable,” said Patrick Dutchess.

“The support that our community has had here in Indiana to say we don’t agree with the governor is amazing,” said Angie Alexander.

 

Indiana's Brown County State Park in Fall.

Indiana’s Brown County State Park in Fall.

 

CBS 4: Butler, Purdue and other Indiana university presidents issue statements on religious freedom bill.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 29, 2015) — Presidents of universities in Indiana are speaking out after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week.  Questions remain about what Indiana’s new religious freedom bill means and the power it holds….

The president of Butler University, James Danko, released a statement on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Sunday. The statement reads:

As president of Butler University I am particularly sensitive to the importance of supporting and facilitating an environment of open dialogue and critical inquiry, where free speech and a wide range of opinion is valued and respected. Thus, it is with a certain degree of apprehension that I step into the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

However, over the past week I have heard from many Butler community members—as well as prospective students, parents, and employees—who have expressed concerns about the impact this law may have on our state and our University. As such, I feel compelled to share my perspective and to reinforce the values of Butler University.

While I have read a variety of opinions and rationale for RFRA, it strikes me as ill-conceived legislation at best, and I fear that some of those who advanced it have allowed their personal or political agendas to supersede the best interests of the State of Indiana and its people. No matter your opinion of the law, it is hard to argue with the fact it has done significant damage to our state.

Like countless other Hoosier institutions, organizations, and businesses, Butler University reaffirms our longstanding commitment to reject discrimination and create an environment that is open to everyone.

Today, more than ever, it is important that we continue to build, cultivate, and defend a culture in which all members of our community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the public—can learn, work, engage, and thrive. It is our sincere hope that those around the country with their ears turned toward our Hoosier state hear just one thing loud and clear—the united voice of millions who support inclusion and abhor discrimination.

Butler is an institution where all people are welcome and valued, regardless of sexual orientation, religion, gender, race, or ethnicity; a culture of acceptance and inclusivity that is as old as the University itself. Butler was the first school in Indiana and third in the United States to enroll women as students on an equal basis with men, was among the first colleges in the nation to enroll African Americans, and was the second U.S. school to name a female professor to its faculty.

I strongly encourage our state leaders to take immediate action to address the damage done by this legislation and to reaffirm the fact that Indiana is a place that welcomes, supports, respects, and values all people.

Click on the link to read statements from the presidents of Ball State University, Hanover College, and Perdue (former governor Mitch Daniels is president).

Versailles State Park, Indiana

Versailles State Park, Indiana

 

Where are these so-called “religious freedom” laws coming from? The Christian Science Monitor tried to find out. The obvious candidate is ALEC, but they claimed to CSM that they aren’t drafted the legislation.

Who’s pushing the religious freedom laws in states?

But when asked whether ALEC was involved in supporting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, ALEC spokesperson Bill Meierling responds: “We do not work on firearms, marriage equality, immigration, any of those things people frequently say are ours.”

Still, North Carolina state Rep. Graig R. Meyer of (D) Durham says that ALEC is having a profound effect on how state legislators in his state are picking their targets.

“While ALEC may not be directly distributing the template legislation we’re seeing pop up all over the country, they are primarily the network for legislative exchange that is operating as a provider of educational seminars and conferences,” Mr. Meyer says in a phone interview.

One such ALEC conference was held in North Carolina. “While nobody can say for sure where the next religious freedom law bill will pop up, it’s probably a safe bet to look at where their most recent national conferences were held and where the next one will be,” says Meyer.

The last ALEC national conference was held in December in Washington, D.C. The next one coming up will be in San Diego, Calif., according to ALEC’s Meierling. He describes the organization as “an exchange of legislators and entrepreneurs who come together to discuss policy.”

Nevertheless,

A Source Watch report on the legislative authors of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) shows many are also on the ALEC Indiana membership list.  Three of the bill’s co-authors are also ALEC Task Force committee chairs, including Indiana state Sen. Carlin J. Yoder (R) of District 12, Sen. Jean Leising (R) of District 42, and Sen. Jim Buck (R) of District 21, according to Source Watch.

Other Democratic legislators say ALEC is shaping conservative legislation in their state. For example, Arizona state Sen. Steve Farley sees the non-profit group as a driver of debate on gun legislation and the recently aired idea of mandating church attendance in his state.

Mandating church attendance???!!! I certainly hope that doesn’t catch on. I don’t trust this Supreme Court to protect us.

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


Lazy Saturday Reads: Signs of Life After the Snowpocalypse

 crocus snow

Good Morning!!

I can’t wait for spring flowers and warmer weather, can you tell? I have all the symptoms of Spring fever, including inability to concentrate on anything serious, like politics or plane crashes. But I’ll do my best to give you some interesting links on this lazy late March Saturday.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Amanda Knox has finally been freed to live her life without the bizarre Italian legal system breathing down her neck. From the Chicago Tribune: Amanda Knox conviction thrown out by Italian court, closing legal saga.

Amanda Knox, who maintained that she and her former Italian boyfriend were innocent in her British roommate’s murder through multiple trials and nearly four years in jail, was vindicated Friday when Italy’s highest court threw out their convictions once and for all.

“Finished!” Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late Friday. “It couldn’t be better than this.”

The surprise decision definitively ends the 7½-year legal battle waged by Knox, 27, and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, 31, to clear their names in the gruesome 2007 murder and sexual assault of British student Meredith Kercher.

The supreme Court of Cassation panel deliberated for 10 hours before declaring that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding insufficient evidence to convict. Instead, had the court-of-resort upheld the pair’s convictions, Knox would have faced 28 ½ years in an Italian prison, assuming she would have been extradited, while Sollecito had faced 25 years.

“Right now I’m still absorbing what all this means and what comes to mind is my gratitude for the life that’s been given to me,” Knox said late Friday, speaking to reporters outside her mother’s Seattle home.

This case has made me grateful that in the U.S. Constitution contains a double jeopardy clause.

crocus

Things are getting really ugly in Yemen. From The Washington Post: How the Yemen conflict risks new chaos in the Middle East.

The meltdown in Yemen is pushing the Middle East dangerously closer to the wider regional conflagration many long have feared would arise from the chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring revolts.

What began as a peaceful struggle to unseat a Yemeni strongman four years ago and then mutated into civil strife now risks spiraling into a full-blown war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran over a country that lies at the choke point of one of the world’s major oil supply routes.

With negotiators chasing a Tuesday deadline for the framework of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, it seems unlikely that Iran would immediately respond militarily to this week’s Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, analysts say.

But the confrontation has added a new layer of unpredictability — and confusion — to the many, multidimensional conflicts that have turned large swaths of the Middle East into war zones over the past four years, analysts say.

The United States is aligned alongside Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and against them in Yemen. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who have joined in the Saudi offensive in Yemen, are bombing factions in Libya backed by Turkey and Qatar, who also support the Saudi offensive in Yemen. The Syrian conflict has been fueled by competition among all regional powers to outmaneuver one another on battlefields far from home.

Scary. All this because George W. Bush lied us into two needless, unwinnable wars.

Crocus in Boston

Ahramonline: Arab leaders pledge support to Yemen.

Although Saturday’s Arab League summit was due to cover a range of regional topics, the ongoing crisis in Yemen took the lead spot as the summit opened with speeches from Arab leaders.

A Saudi-led military offensive is underway against targets held by Houthi rebels in the turmoil-hit country, with the backing of a number of Arab states.

In his opening speech, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that military action was  “inevitable” to restore legitimate rule in Yemen.

El-Sisi also said that Egypt has accepted a proposal by a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to form a joint Arab military force to counter the “unprecedented threats” facing the region’s stability.

Arab foreign ministers agreed on a draft resolution to form a joint Arab military force to counter growing security threats in the region. The proposal requires the endorsement of the Arab leaders during the two-day summit this weekend.

Saudi’s King Salman vowed in his opening speech that the military intervention will not stop until Yemen is stable and safe. The monarch said that Saudi Arabia supports the Hadi government’s legitimacy in Yemen and wants stability for the Yemeni population.

He further stated that the situation in the region necessitates an Arab coalition to fight terrorism.

More details from CNN: Arab League to discuss military operation in Yemen.

crocus-in-snow

The Wall Street Journal on the incredibly selfish, suicidal co-pilot of that crashed Germanwings jet: Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Concealed Depression From Airline.

BERLIN—Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed an airliner into a French mountainside, was being treated for depression, a fact he concealed from his employer, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mr. Lubitz had been excused from work by his neuropsychologist for a period that included the day of the crash, this person told The Wall Street Journal, but he decided to ignore the advice and reported to work.

The Germanwings tragedy highlights a broader industry dilemma: reliance on pilots themselves to disclose serious physical or psychological ailments to their employer—and what can happen when secrecy urges or privacy considerations trump full disclosure, safety and medial experts say.

Despite mandatory, regular medical exams—supplemented by company-specific safeguards intended to periodically check on aviators’ skills and psychological state—airlines ultimately depend on employees to honestly assess and report when they shouldn’t be flying.

In return, Germanwings, a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, and many other airlines around the globe promise to avoid punishing pilots who comply with that guiding principle.

Read more at the WSJ. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, this guy could have just shot himself or jumped out of a high window, but instead he decided to take 149 other people–including babies and high school kids–with him when he committed suicide.

Life after Snowpocalypse

A few stories on the terrible explosion in NYC’s East Village:

Newsweek: A Slice of New York City History Goes Up In Smoke.

An explosion in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday injured an estimated 25 people and destroyed a row of landmarked buildings that have held meaning for generations of New Yorkers. At one time the mayor’s residence was there, and another building housed an iconic vintage-clothing store made popular in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.

“It’s a real tragedy. It was scary,” says Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s shocking when this happens in an area that’s so close-knit. People really live on the streets here, in a good way. There’s a real community.”

City officials say the March 26 explosion happened at 121 Second Avenue and also damaged the neighboring buildings at 119, 123 and 125. The buildings all were awarded landmark status in October 2012 as part of a designation of an East Village/Lower East Side Historic District. The buildings in that district date mostly to the mid- to late 1800s, a time when wealthier New Yorkers started moving uptown and selling off their properties, which were often turned into tenement housing.

European immigrants began moving into the area in large numbers in the second half of the 19th century. An early influx consisted mostly of Germans, and the area became known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe moved there too and established a vibrant theater district.

“The East Village and the Lower East Side are remarkable in that they’ve seen successive waves of immigrants and new populations coming in and really shaping and affecting the physical environment, bringing with them their social clubs, their gathering places,” Bankoff says.

By the middle of the 20th century, the Village became an epicenter for artists and bohemians.

The historic district, one of 114 in the city, runs north-south from around East 7th Street to East Second Street and east-west from First and Second avenues to the Bowery.

crocuses-in-snow

Click on the above link to continue reading. More details on the fire at ABC News: NYC Building Fire: Restaurant Owner Smelled Gas Before Massive Explosion, Officials Say.

From The New Yorker, a thoughtful and interesting essay on living in the East Village by Sarah Larson: The East Village Fire: Love Saves the Day.

Finally, one of the passengers in the GOP Clown Car, faux libertarian Rand Paul, opens his big mouth and spews nonsense and hate.

From Charles Pierce’s “Stupid for Lunch” cafe: Rand Paul’s Take On Defense Spending. In which the cafe staff starts the five minute clock for Senator Rand Paul.

The staff at the Cafe has a small clock in one particular booth. The booth is reserved for Senator Rand Paul, whenever he stops by for a quick lunch, for which he invariably undertips, when he doesn’t try to beat itout the back door.

Time was when Senator Aqua Buddha entertained us all — five minutes at a time — about how the country was wasting its money on a whole mess of sophisticated boom-boom. The staff knows when to begin the countdown and they begin invariably to whisper again…

Continue reading at the link.

Atheist Ayn Rand must be spinning in her grave over this from TPM.

Rand: ‘Moral Crisis’ Led To Gay Marriage, US Needs Religious Revival.

“Don’t always look to Washington to solve anything,” Paul said during a private prayer breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club.

“In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Raw Story: Rand Paul calls for ‘tent revivals’ to resolve the ‘moral crisis’ of gay marriage.

“The moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think there would be some other sort of marriage, ” he explained. “I think the exhortation to try and change people’s thoughts has to come from the countryside.”

The libertarian lawmaker then took a slightly religious turn, saying “You know, I’ve said this before, we need a revival in the country.”

“We need another great awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, you know,’reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform’.”

In a recent interview with Brett Baier of Fox News, Paul admitted that the use of the term ‘marriage’ for same sex couples offends him.

Watch the video at Raw Story. Honestly, I think that cartoon JJ post last night is beginning to make sense. Someone must have put LSD in Rand’s grits when he was a kid. Why would anyone vote for this wacko?

I’d write about the latest “revelations” about Hillary’s emails, but I don’t want to completely depress myself. I have to believe this will all die down before the 2016 primaries.

What have you been hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of March. April is coming soon!

 


Wednesday Spring Fever Open Thread

Matisse: Tea in the Garden, 1919

Matisse: Tea in the Garden, 1919

Good Afternoon!

I just found out that JJ isn’t feeling well enough to do a post this morning, so I’m filling in. I have things to do this afternoon, so this will have to be a very quick link dump.

Personally, I have Spring Fever! It has been sunny and not so cold here for the past few days and I’m loving it. We still have piles of snow, but they are shrinking steadily. I think March is going to go out with like lamb here in Boston. AND . . . soon it will be staying light here until almost 7PM. Isn’t Spring great?

Latest Ted Cruz Reactions

The Week: Ted Cruz isn’t really running for president.

Ted Cruz is running for president. Or at least that’s officially what’s happening, according to his FEC filings. But if you actually listen to him, it seems like he is running for something else.

Cruz’s announcement speech at Liberty University was less like a first step toward the Oval Office, than the latest of many steps he has taken to becoming the political leader of the conservative movement. This is distinct from being the nominee of the Grand Old Party, of which that movement is just a devoted part.

There is nothing about Cruz that appeals to people beyond his political sect. The one rhetorical move independents and Democrats may relate to in Cruz’s speech was the tribute to his mother as a glass ceiling–smashing computer programmer. But otherwise his mode of speech is much like Mike Huckabee’s: sentimental, broadly evangelical, and reliant on personal charisma. Although it isn’t easy to pinpoint what about a candidate’s personality rubs a larger demographic cohort the wrong way, Huckabeefared terribly among non-rural, non-Evangelical voters in 2008. Cruz may be headed for the same fate.

Consider Cruz’s overt sense of personal destiny. He makes Mitt Romney seem positively shy. Cruz’s speech implicitly compared Ted Cruz to Patrick Henry, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.

Salon: “I may owe Mitt Romney an apology”: Jon Stewart mocks Ted Cruz’s absurdly creepy presidential announcement.

“I may owe Mitt Romney an apology,” Jon Stewart said on Monday’s “Daily Show,” after learning that Cruz and his wife actually practiced waving and kissing before the announcement.  “Even the Mitt Romneytron 3000 didn’t have to rehearse waving and kissing,” he continued.

If you were wondering why so many of the students in the audience looked bored out of their minds (and why one girl was even wearing a Rand t-shirt): It’s because the conservative Christian university required students to attend the Ted Cruz announcement as part of their weekly convocation. No word on whether the university also required students to text “constitution” to an undisclosed number, as per Cruz’s orders.

“Let me clarify this a little bit: Students at Liberty University were required to attend a partisan political speech where a small-government conservative who had just promised he would respect privacy rights, told them if they cared about freedom, text your information to a mysterious address that collects your cell phone number for undisclosed purposes,” Stewart said.

More good stuff in the video (see link). Can you believe Cruz and his wife practiced kissing before the event?

Washington Post: Ted Cruz’s phenomenally bad idea.

Sen. Ted Cruz says he wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service. This is a phenomenally bad idea, one so obviously wrongheaded it’s hard to believe he really means it….

This is not the first time Cruz has proposed this. He pitched it on Facebooktwo years ago and in multiple interviews since, even calling it the “single most important tax reform” and priority “No. 2” (after repealing Obamacare) in recent talks. The fact that he might make ending the IRS a centerpiece of a presidential campaign, though, is singularly scary, particularly given Republicans’ demonstrated appetite for cutting the agency’s funding to the bone and beyond….

Well, sorry to say it, but someone has to collect the money that keeps our government up and running, funding everything from Medicare to the military. The IRS is a cash-flow-positive agency, collecting an estimated$255 for every $1 appropriated to it, and dumping it would vastly widen existing government deficits. This is something fiscal conservatives, Cruz included, presumably already know. Yet the view that the IRS’s budget should be minimized, and perhaps zeroed out entirely, is peculiarly popular on the right.

Read more at the WaPo.

Some satire from Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker: President Signs Order Making Ted Cruz Ineligible for Obamacare.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Just hours after Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN that he had no choice but to sign up for Obamacare, President Barack Obama signed an executive order making Cruz ineligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“Clearly, the hardship of receiving Obamacare was causing Ted a great deal of pain,” the President said. “This should take care of that.”

Obama acknowledged that the executive order, which makes Cruz the only American expressly forbidden from signing up for Obamacare, was an extraordinary measure, but added, “I felt it was a necessary humanitarian gesture to protect Ted from the law he hates.”

Germanwings Plane Crash

New York Times: Details Emerging of Passengers Aboard Crashed Germanwings Jet.

A clearer picture began to emerge on Wednesday of the 150 people believed to have lost their lives in the crash of a Germanwings jet in southernFrance.

According to the airline, at least 67 Germans, including two infants, were on the Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday on its way to Düsseldorf,Germany, from Barcelona, Spain. Many Spaniards were also aboard. The passengers included two opera singers, as well as a class of 16 German high school students returning from a study program near Barcelona, along with their two teachers.

Germanwings was working to notify families before releasing further information about the 144 passengers and six crew members who were on the plane. But some countries whose citizens were aboard began to confirm their identities, and details also emerged from other sources.

Also from the Times: Challenges Weigh Heavily on Recovery Efforts in Crash of Germanwings Jet.

Read all about it at the paper of record.

Iran and Israel News

Jerusalem Post: US Democrats say Israel’s efforts on Iran are backfiring.

Following months of intensified calls by Israel to block any deals with Iran, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress, members of the US senate say that theiropinions on a nuclear deal with Iran have not budged.

Read the responses from Senators at the link.

Politico: Boehner ‘shocked’ by reports Israel spied on Iran talks

Speaker John Boehner said he was “shocked” by a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday morning that said the Israelis were spying on negotiations by the U.S. and other world powers to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.

“I read that story this morning, and frankly, I was a bit shocked because there’s no information revealed to me whatsoever,” Boehner, a Republican from Ohio told reporters Tuesday morning. He added, “I was shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the Israelis to members of Congress. I’m not aware of that at all.”

He probably had a few too many before the meeting at which the leaks were discussed.

LA Times: Iran nuclear deal close; both sides face harsh politics at home.

If all goes according to plan, U.S. officials will return home from here next week declaring they have reached a historic agreement that will restrict Iran’s nuclear program forever.

Iranian officials will be in Tehran triumphantly explaining that they have secured a deal that will free Iran in a few years to pursue its nuclear program just like any other country.

Major international agreements usually require both sides to acknowledge they’ve given ground. Because of the brutal politics of the nuclear issue, however, neither side has much room to acknowledge compromise.

As a result, over the next few months, U.S. and Iranian officials are likely to be making starkly contradictory cases about the deal they have reached, both seeking to sell it at home.

Inside windowless negotiating rooms here, “we can talk about looking for a middle ground,” said a European diplomat said, who declined to be identified discussing the sensitive negotiations.

“Outside in the light, it’s harder.”

GOP Clown Car

Salon: Jeb’s “James Baker” problem: Why hawks are turning on the “anti-Israel” Bush

Aren’t GOP presidential politics just great? You wake up one morning and suddenly Jeb Bush is the “anti-Israel candidate” in the Republican presidential primary field.

 How did this happen? Last we checked, Jeb Bush loved the dickens out of Israel. He’s been very clear about his deep affection for any and everything that (the right wing of) Israel does. “Governor Bush’s support for Israel and its Prime Minister is clear,” Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy Campbell said Monday night. This is perfectly in line with his support for the dumb Tom Cotton letter, and his insistence that the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran is “bad” and should be rejected because Israel. Et cetera et cetera, SO ON, AND SO ON. Jeb Bush has no interest in straying from the prevailing party line on Israel, which is that American foreign policy should be conducted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But why, pray tell, was Kristy Campbell issuing this reassurance of Jeb Bush’s deep, unwavering, total love for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel late on a Monday night? Because James Baker, the former White House chief of staff, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of State under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., had just addressed the annual J Street conference.

J Street is the advocacy group founded as a more liberal counterpart to AIPAC. It is critical of the Israeli right wing and does not see it as helping the prospects for peace in the Middle East. So naturally conservatives see J Street as a radical extremist left-wing terrorist organization in bed with the mullahs of Iran and hellbent on securing the total annihilation of Israel. (The views of American Jews at large, meanwhile, tend to align with J Street’s.)

Fascinating. I actually don’t think Jeb has a serious chance for the nomination. For one thing, he has zero charisma. He comes across as stuffy and boring.

Raw Story: Bill O’Reilly tells David Letterman: I’ve never ‘fibbed’ on the air ‘that I know of’

“Have you ever fibbed on the air?” Letterman asked the Factor host.

“Fibbed? Not that I know of,” O’Reilly responded. “What I do is analysis — different from what other people do. So I bioviate and give my opinion, as you well know. But it’s not worth it for me to do that.”

Letterman countered that there was a common factor linking O’Reilly’s editorializing and NBC’s Brian Williams’ position as a network anchor.

“Trust is the residue of both positions,” the Late Showhost said. “People must trust you to the same degree. They might disagree with you, but they must trust you, the same way they trust Brian Williams.”

Fibbed? No, but he’s told hundreds of bald faced lies; and Fox viewers trust him because they can’t tell the difference between reality and propaganda.

Raw Story: Watch Sarah Palin push a Koch-backed scheme to kill the VA and replace it with vouchers.

Sarah Palin is using recent scandals to apparently push for the dismantling of the Veterans Administration.

The federal agency has been rocked in recent months by scandals – including the deaths of at least 40 veterans awaiting care at facilities in Arizona — that resulted in a shakeup of its top leadership.

New VA Secretary Robert McDonald was recently forced to apologize after misstating his military service record while speaking to a veteran during a photo opportunity, which Palin said called his character into question.

Palin cited these and other incidents in a Facebook video posted Tuesday evening as justification to “clean house” at the VA and “fire bad employees like we do out in the private sector.”

“It’s time to reform the VA so thoroughly that vets don’t have to depend on it for their basic needs,” Palin said.

That’s about as good an idea as Ted Cruz’s proposal to abolish the IRS.

Spring Clean by Mariette Voke

Spring Clean by Mariette Voke

So . . . . What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your early Spring Wednesday.


Sunday Reads: I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do

e0f3c331ce18ab009f8553da817ad441Good Afternoon

Yesterday, Boston Boomer posted pictures of baby animals, in honor of spring. Today I post pictures (vintage ones) of Brides and Grooms, in honor of Dakinikat’s youngest…who got engaged last night.

So to E. and her Man:

Congrats girl, we wish you both the best of everything!

Now for the linkage, in basic dump form because I am moving so damn slow this morning, we’ll be celebrating the harvest before this thread gets posted.

For starters, a few choice headlines. I am not linking to them because I don’t want to deal with the trolls.

50f52d5ec3d9543f8053aa494b3f2995Dems want to empower Boehner | TheHill –

Israel: Beware of Obama By Michael Goodwin | New York Post

Ted Cruz to announce presidential bid Monday

Hey, Gays: Leave Aaron Schock Alone – The Daily Beast

The Dangerous Chaos of Barack Obama
By Larry Johnson

LOYAL TO LIBERTY- Glenn Beck leaves the GOP

That is some frightening stuff.

3ed23256331e2b781c676fdab34194e8But for a little more perspective…how about links to articles that won’t draw out the trolls.

Racism’s sinister word games: What a white-supremacist talking point tells us about modern politics – Salon.com

All-white Fox News panel demands apology for school’s Black History Month event – Salon.com

Black girl’s parents banned from school after complaining about racist threats warning, ‘N****rs don’t belong’

What are my chances of going to prison? – Metro – The Boston Globe

Supreme Court to decide case over Confederate flag license plate – CSMonitor.com

Mayoral Candidate Apologizes For Performing In Black Face

Oklahoma politician dressed up in black face, drag named ‘Pollyester Kotton’ | theGrio

Screen grab

An Elk City mayoral candidate is now in some hot water after several YouTube videos were shared around town. In the videos, Bill Helton, an Elk City commissioner and mayoral candidate, is seen dressing up as a black woman called “Pollyester Kotton.”

a5e923cb6d593398e62a7da7c7dc7680His critics say the character he plays is offensive, buy Helton who owns a salon says it was playfully inspired by a woman who frequents his shop.

“The character came about from one of my clients, who was African-American, from Texas,” Helton said. He also pointed out that she helped him transform into his alter ego, who he dresses up as mostly when emceeing charity events.

Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget

Trillion Dollar Fraudsters – NYTimes.com

cb5c75989bf028ef568f0dedd0bc6d36Georgia getting federal funds to get people off of food stamps | www.wsbtv.com

The state of Georgia is getting $15 million in federal money to try to reduce the number of able-bodied Georgians who are drawing food stamps every month.

About 200,000 Georgians fit into the target category: healthy adults with no dependents and on food stamps.

The requirement to work or go to a school was eased during the recent recession, but the requirement is back.

5 Signs Your Fingernails Are Trying To Warn You About Your HealthHigher Perspective

House Medicare Deal Hits Senate Turbulence Over Abortion – NYTimes.com

Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget

704ed19921700dc262685087add6a198‘How Totally Wrong Was I’: Prosecutor Publicly Apologizes for Putting Innocent Man on Death Row | Mediaite

10 episodes that show how Maude debated American culture in the ’70s · TV Club 10 · The A.V. Club

Department Of Education Study Finds Teaching These Little Shits No Longer Worth It | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

5 Horrific Things Fraternities Have Done in Just the Last Week | Alternet

That should be more than enough links to get you going this morning.

Have a great day and enjoy the rest of the post:

 

 

 

Wedding pictures found on…Pinterest

Other fun pictures here:

41 Insanely Cool Vintage Celebrity Wedding Photos

12 Beautiful Vintage Photos Of Brides From 1850-1920s

60 Adorable Real Vintage Wedding Photos From The ’60s

Slide show of additional images at bottom of the thread.

Lets end this post with the full Abba song, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do:

Can you believe this song is 40 years old this year?

 

 

“I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”
Love me or leave me, make your choice but believe me
I love you
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
I can’t conceal it, don’t you see, can’t you feel it?
Don’t you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

Oh, I’ve been dreaming through my lonely past
Now I just made it, I found you at last

So come on, now let’s try it, I love you, can’t deny it
‘Cos it’s true
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

Oh, no hard feelings between you and me
If we can’t make it, but just wait and see

So come on, now let’s try it, I love you, can’t deny it
‘Cos it’s true
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
So love me or leave me, make your choice but believe me
I love you
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
I can’t conceal it, don’t you see, can’t you feel it?
Don’t you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Wednesday Reads: Nessie makes another appearance…

tumblr_mv8molh3hr1rph6wgo2_1280Good Morning

And…the news of the world…Loch Ness Monster shows herself to tourist…is “captured on film.”

(Hey, after days of Hillary Hate, I will take a story about the shy lost creature of the deep any day.)

A mother and daughter visiting Scotland for the first time believe they may have caught a glimpse of the elusive Loch Ness monster.

Consuela Ross and her daughter Reyshell Avellanoza were visiting from the Philippines when they visited the scenic body of water.

They were enjoying the view when something appeared to raise itself out of the water in front of them.

nessie

The object sank out of sight…nessie

… leaving a “whirlpool” behind itRoss told the Scottish Daily Record they were taking pictures when someone pointed out a disturbance on the lake.

She said: “She said it looked like a big black belly. We looked and could see this big disturbance quite a way out and this big black object in the middle of it.

Wow.

I was a little disappointed when I saw the pictures. I thought for sure that with a head line like: “captured on film” the beastie would have showed a lot more skin, scale, or whatever it is covered in.

Loch Ness Monster: Tourists Capture New Footage Of Legendary Beast

The group claims the monster dove under the waves just as they began filming, narrowly missing capturing the beast on camera.
Reyshell Avellanoza and her daughter were visiting Scotland last week from the Philippines, touring Loch Ness while they were in the country, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal. While on the shores of the loch, they claim to have observed a large object rising from the waves, which they are convinced was the Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately, they were so transfixed by what they were observing that they neglected to photograph it in time, instead capturing the monster’s wake after it dove once again.

Video at that link, you can see just how big the whirlpool gets after the thing goes under.

However, Nessie was not the only thing at Lock Ness making a big show…check this out: Stunning image shows meteor streaking across sky above Loch Ness | Fox News

It’s an incredible image – the bright tail of a meteor streaking across the clear night sky above Scotland’s Loch Ness. The image, which has been trending online, was an “absolute fluke,” according to John Alasdair Macdonald, a tour guide based in the Scottish Highlands, who captured the rare shot.

meteorpic1

Macdonald told the Independent that he headed outside Monday night with his Sony RX100 compact camera to take shots of what he described as a beautiful evening. While walking, he noticed the meteor shooting across the sky.

“As my wife said, it was just sheer dumb luck,” he said. “It was a complete fluke, an absolute fluke.”

 

765b492eb5202a4a8e5dc13b434379fcThat is some picture. Perhaps the meteor is what summoned Nessie to the surface?

Could it be a sign that the alien apocalypse is shortly upon us?

I mean, the being’s from another world certainly would not be coming to earth looking for intelligent life, right?

Missouri executed an inmate who had asked for a stay because part of his brain was removed – The Washington Post

More than four decades after an accident at a sawmill sent a piece of wood into Cecil Clayton’s skull, costing him a portion of his brain, the state of Missouri executed him Tuesday night for shooting and killing a police officer.

Clayton, 74, had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his lethal injection. His attorneys argued that because of the sawmill accident, he had an intellectual disability and therefore cannot be put to death. However, the Supreme Court denied his stay requests on Tuesday evening, rejecting all of his petitions for the justices to intervene and prevent his execution.

Clayton was sentenced to death for shooting and killing Christopher Castetter, a sheriff’s deputy in Purdy, Mo., in 1996. Attorneys for Clayton are not arguing that he is innocent, but instead point to his brain injury in asking the justices to act.

ff06b8375ead4a83eed456fb9630de6cBrain injury? Yeah, the dude was missing a chunk of it.

Clayton’s attorneys outlined the crime that resulted in his death sentence. They wrote that the police were called about Clayton trespassing around the home of his girlfriend’s mother. When Castetter was dispatched, they say, Clayton shot him and later said that Castetter “probably should have just stayed home” and “shouldn’t have smarted off to me.” But they note that Clayton also said he “wasn’t out there,” before going on to outline issues involving his intelligence and memory.

This argument has its origins in an accident that occurred in 1972. Clayton, who was a logger and sawmill operator, was working at his sawmill when a piece of wood broke off and stabbed into his skull. He was taken to a hospital, where he stayed for nine days, and he ultimately lost 7.7 percent of his brain and 20 percent of his frontal lobe, according to his attorneys.

As his attorneys describe it, Clayton “changed drastically and immediately” after the injury. Before the injury, they write that he was a married father who stopped drinking, became a preacher and traveled the country with his family, singing gospel and playing his guitar; afterward, he began drinking again, became depressed and violent, suffered memory loss and experienced hallucinations.

6621abfd5d4c619ef79bc25223227782Damn. See what I mean, give me a fucking monster story or flaming rock picture any day.

Penn State is in the news and it is because of some possible sex abuse, but it does not involve little boys this time. It does involve a fraternity and some secret Facebook pictures: Penn State Fraternity’s Secret Facebook Photos May Lead to Criminal Charges – NYTimes.com

Within the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Pennsylvania State University, the Facebook page and its photographs — of drugs, hazing and nude, unconscious women — were supposed to be among its brotherhood’s secrets.

But the clandestine website, known as 2.0 after a previous manifestation was discovered and shut down, has, since mid-January, been the subject of a police inquiry that this month led to the suspension of the fraternity’s Penn State chapter and could result in criminal charges.

3833a4f65a9b0b825e1406f12689e82b“The evidence offered by the Facebook postings is appalling, offensive and inconsistent with the university community’s values and expectations,” Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs, said Tuesday in a statement. “We are confident that the various investigative and review processes, both internal and external to the university, will determine responsibility in this case. The university will hold accountable any groups and individuals found responsible.”

This is disgusting.

The Police Department here learned about the website in January when a former member of the fraternity walked into a police station and asked to meet with the authorities about what he thought might be criminal conduct. The man, who has since been declared a “cooperating informant,” eventually showed investigators printed copies of some of the photographs that appeared online.

“Some of the postings were of nude females that appeared to be passed out and nude or in other sexual or embarrassing positions,” a detective wrote in an affidavit included with a January search warrant application. “It appears from the photos provided that the individuals in the photos are not aware that the photos had been taken.”

e929632af9a7fb9998bf81a171bf4c44You must go to the link to read the rest of the details. I hope the investigation is a thorough one, and that people are held accountable…and not let of the hook.

Last night Boston Boomer linked to a news alert: White House is mailed package with cyanide – CNN.com

The White House received an envelope this week containing a substance that testing revealed to be cyanide, the Secret Service confirmed Tuesday.

“On Monday 3/16/15, an envelope was received at the White House Mail Screening Facility. Initial Biological testing was negative; however, on 03/17/15, the chemical testing returned a presumptive positive for cyanide,” said Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary in a statement. “The sample was transported to another facility to confirm the results.”

[…]

61FIQ72NndLThere were no injuries or exposure concerns for the person at the mail sorting facility who opened the letter, said a law enforcement official.

The envelope was initially reported by the Intercept, which received an internal law enforcement document that alerted staff to the incident.

“An envelope containing an unknown milky substance, in a container wrapped in a plastic bag, received at the White House Mail Screening Facility, tested positive for cyanide,” the alert read.

According to the Intercept, the alert identified the man listed as the return address on the envelope as having a long history with the Secret Service, dating back to 1995. That history includes an incident in which the man sent a package covered in urine and feces.

Nice. So does this mean the possible suspect doesn’t like the Clintons either?

How many of you think the address led to this guy’s house:

The caption on this picture is, "Newt does wicked deeds."

The caption on this picture is, “Newt does wicked deeds.”

Surely, you think I say that in jest?

I mean, they are traitors in my opinion…at least those 47.

Hey, the GOP is willing to get further along in the covert area of special ops:

Did James O’Keefe Try to Plant an Undercover Operative in Ferguson to Incite Protesters to Violence? – Little Green Footballs

41b62a7e3f852cc40e62e52b9e49a2d7I think you can guess what is going on with that shitfest of plenty. Go to LGF to read the details.

In other gut wrenching news: Racist dad doesn’t allow daughter at black girl’s birthday – NY Daily News

You just can’t make this shit up:

A 10-year-old girl was trying to have a birthday party and a race relations discussion broke out.

African-American child Harmony Jones invited a friend to her party on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn., but the young girl got a stunning magic marker note in return: her friend’s dad wouldn’t let her attend due to the birthday girl’s race, WREG-TV reported.

The unidentified child wrote in blue, green and pink, “Maby [SIC] I will not be able to come to your birthday sleepover, because my dad will not let me go because you are black.”

The girl added, “Not trying to be races [SIC], but my mom let me go. Happy birthday!”

Despite the shocking illustration of one parent’s prejudice, the episode shouldn’t be viewed as either a reflection on the children’s school, Highland Oaks Elementary School, or the community that’s changed around it in the Hickory Hill area, Highland Oaks PTA president Barbara Davis told the Daily News.

“We have a lot wider variety of populations at the school, but, in saying that, we’ve been a very close group,” said Davis, who has three children attending the school and denounced the letter as a regrettable isolated incident. “I’m calling them ignorant, but it’s their choice to feel that way, right or wrong.”

Don_Quixote__Man_of_La_Mancha_by_ContrappostoDavis declined to state the racial breakdown of the elementary school, noting that the birthday party was not a school-sanctioned event. But she acknowledged that the area had changed in recent years, a story told vividly by census data for the zip code occupied by the school.

How the hell do these assholes sleep with themselves.

I don’t know, it makes me think that we are all chasing windmills…

Researchers find remains of ‘Don Quixote’ author Miguel de Cervantes (+video) – CSMonitor.com

Archeologists announced on Tuesday that the remains of Spain’s most renowned writer, Miguel de Cervantes, have been discovered in a convent in Madrid.

imglarge-honor-daumier-quixote-HD01Cervantes, who died in 1616, is known as the father of the modern novel. He wrote Don Quixote, a tale of an errant knight and his loyal sidekick, Sancho Panza. Originally written in Spanish, this two volume epic has been translated into more than 60 languages.

Now it seems that his remains, along with those of his wife and several others, were found by a team of researchers in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid. Cervantes had asked to be buried in the convent after the order of nuns helped free him when he was captured by pirates in 1575, but the exact location was forgotten when the convent was rebuilt in the 17th century.

“He’s there,” historian Fernando de Prado told the Guardian, referencing fragmented bones found in the floor of the crypt. “We know that some of these bones belong to Cervantes.”

Take a look at the link to learn more about the legend of Cervantes grave…they are hoping to have the crypt open to the public in time for the 400 year anniversary of Cervantes death which comes around next year.

27d3b4077f973deb36203d559afc3ca6

I will end with this clip from the film The Milagro Beanfield War.

The Coyote Angel says, “Don Amarante de Cordoba, I see windmills…on your horizon.”

Exactly.

Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival in Israeli Elections

See what I mean…Windmills indeed.

More links to come in the comments below.

 


Lazy Saturday Afternoon Reads: Pi Day Edition

7-art-of-π

Good Afternoon!!

I’m no mathematician, but when something happens only once in a lifetime, I figure could be worth paying attention to. From MassLive: Pi Day 2015: 3.141592653 comes around for 1st time in 100 years.

Pi Day is a holiday, not a federal one, mind you, that celebrates pi, the mathematical constant that’s calculated by dividing the circumference of a circle by its diameter.

This year, Pi Day (named for the first three numbers of the mathematical constant and first officially celebrated in 1988 in San Francisco) has special significance – at 53 seconds after 9:26 a.m. and p.m. (9:26:53), the date and the time will represent the first 10 digits of pi – 3.141592653 (some argue that 9:26:54 is a more accurate time, since the 11th digit is 5, so the 3 should be rounded up.)

So what is Pi anyway?

The concept of pi – essential in calculations ranging from classical geometry to the most advanced physics and cosmology – dates to Egyptian pyramid builders of the 26th century BC. The constant was first represented by the Greek letter in 1706.

Pi was calculated out to 2,576,980,377,524 decimal places on April 29, 2009 at theCenter for Computational Sciences at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. It took more than 29 hours and 13.5 terabytes of computer capacity.

17257968-mmmain

According to the article, lots of colleges mark the day, and M.I.T. even times their acceptance letters to go out on Pi Day. And get this: Albert Einstein was born on March 14.

I’ll let a real math whiz explain why Pi is important. From The New Yorker:

Why Pi Matters, by Steven Strogatz.

Why do mathematicians care so much about pi? Is it some kind of weird circle fixation? Hardly. The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach. Even young children get this. The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi.

Pi touches infinity in other ways. For example, there are astonishing formulas in which an endless procession of smaller and smaller numbers adds up to pi. One of the earliest such infinite series to be discovered says that pi equals four times the sum 1 – + – + – + ⋯. The appearance of this formula alone is cause for celebration. It connects all odd numbers to pi, thereby also linking number theory to circles and geometry. In this way, pi joins two seemingly separate mathematical universes, like a cosmic wormhole.

But there’s still more to pi. After all, other famous irrational numbers, like e (the base of natural logarithms) and the square root of two, bridge different areas of mathematics, and they, too, have never-ending, seemingly random sequences of digits.

Infinite beauty of Pi

What distinguishes pi from all other numbers is its connection to cycles. For those of us interested in the applications of mathematics to the real world, this makes pi indispensable. Whenever we think about rhythms—processes that repeat periodically, with a fixed tempo, like a pulsing heart or a planet orbiting the sun—we inevitably encounter pi. There it is in the formula for a Fourier series:

Strogatz_Fourier_60H

That series is an all-encompassing representation of any process, x(t), that repeats every T units of time. The building blocks of the formula are pi and the sine and cosine functions from trigonometry. Through the Fourier series, pi appears in the math that describes the gentle breathing of a baby and the circadian rhythms of sleep and wakefulness that govern our bodies. When structural engineers need to design buildings to withstand earthquakes, pi always shows up in their calculations. Pi is inescapable because cycles are the temporal cousins of circles; they are to time as circles are to space. Pi is at the heart of both.

For this reason, pi is intimately associated with waves, from the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides to the electromagnetic waves that let us communicate wirelessly. At a deeper level, pi appears in both the statement of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and the Schrödinger wave equation, which capture the fundamental behavior of atoms and subatomic particles. In short, pi is woven into our descriptions of the innermost workings of the universe.

Pi Day

From the Guardian: Pi Day 2015: meet the man who invented π, by Gareth Ffowc Roberts.

In 1706, William Jones – a self-taught mathematician and one of Anglesey’s most famous sons – published his seminal work, Synopsis palmariorum matheseos, roughly translated as A summary of achievements in mathematics.

It is a work of great historical interest because it is where the symbol π appears for the first time in scientific literature to denote the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

Jones realised that the decimal 3.141592 … never ends and that it cannot be expressed precisely. “The exact proportion between the diameter and the circumference can never be expressed in numbers,” he wrote. That was why he recognised that it needed its own symbol to represent it.

It is thought that he chose π either because it is first letter of the word for periphery (περιφέρεια) or because it is the first letter of the word for perimeter (περίμετρος). (Or because of both).

The symbol π was popularised in 1737 by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707–83), but it wasn’t until as late as 1934 that the symbol was adopted universally. By now, π is instantly recognised by school pupils worldwide, but few know that its history can be traced back to a small village in the heart of Anglesey.

Read more about Jones at the Guardian link.

And now, sadly, we must move on from the sublime to the ridiculous, our pathetic corporate media and their sick obsession with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Pi_pie2

We’re all sick and tired of being sick and tired of the media’s insane hatred of the Clintons, and Hillary isn’t even running yet. What is it that causes these pathetic excuses for reporters and editors to hate these two people so much? Under Bill Clinton the U.S. economy was strong and healthy, and times were good for the middle class.

Before Clinton, we went through eight years of “Reaganomics” that left us with huge economic problems and four years of Jimmy Carter malaise.  Since then the economy has been in a shambles. Since Clinton, the economy has only been good for the ultra-rich, and we’ve been mired in two wars in the Middle East, and Republicans are trying to get us involved in a third war with Iran.

What was so terrible about peace and prosperity that the media, the GOP, and the Emoprog libertarians just couldn’t tolerate and don’t want to repeat?

If you’re thinking there a huge double standard in the media coverage of the Clintons vs. Republicans who held the same positions, you’re not imagining things. Over at Media Matters, Eric Boehlert has published a series of great pieces on this disparity.

The Clintons And Another Media Guttural Roar

Offering up some advice to the political press corps as it prepares to cover the 2016 presidential campaign, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently stressed that reporters and pundits ought to take a deep breath when big stories broke; to not immediately promote stumbles and campaign missteps to be more urgent and damaging than they really are.

“We may wish certain snags were roadblocks and certain missteps collapses, because we think they should be or they’re sexier that way,” wrote Bruni.

That was in his February 28 column. Four days later Bruni abandoned his own advice.

Pouncing on the controversy surrounding which email account Hillary Clinton used while serving as secretary of state, Bruni tossed his counsel for caution to the wind and treated the email development as an instant game changer and even wondered if the revelation indicated Clinton had a political “death wish.”

Pi-Pie-day

But that fits the long-running pattern of the D.C. media’s Clinton treatment: Over-eager journalists hungry for scandal can’t even abide by the advice they dispensed four days prior. Or maybe Bruni simply meant that his advice of caution was supposed to apply only to Republican candidates. Because it’s certainly not being applied to Hillary and the email kerfuffle coverage.

Instead, “The media and politicos and Twitterati immediately responded with all the measured cautious skepticism we’ve come to expect in response to any implication of a Clinton Scandal,” noted Wonkette. “That is to say, none.”

Just look how the very excitable Ron Fournier at National Journal rushed in after the email story broke and announced Clinton should probably just forget about the whole running-for-president thing. Why preemptively abandon an historic run? Because she may reveal herself to be “seedy,” “sanctimonious,” “self-important,” and “slick.” This, after Fournier denounced Bill and Hillary Clinton two weeks ago for their “stupid” and “sleazy” actions.

Why can’t these people see how ridiculously over-the-top they are when it comes to Hillary and Bill? How do they treat similar behavior by Republicans? Boehlert reported on March 10:

FLASHBACK: When Millions Of Lost Bush White House Emails (From Private Accounts) Triggered A Media Shrug.

Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many asfive million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications.

PiDay2

As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.

The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday’s Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC’s This Week.)

By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the Press, Face The Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton’s “email” or “emails” were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage.

Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of “analysis,” most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons.

And what about Colin Powell? And what about announced presidential candidate Jeb Bush? Boehlert wrote on March 11:

Pi pie

Two Names The Press Omits From Email Coverage: Colin Powell And Jeb Bush.

As the press demands answers regarding which private emails Clinton handed over to the State Department and which ones she withheld because she deemed them to be personal in nature, many journalists fail to include relevant information about prominent Republicans who have engaged in similar use of private email accounts while in office, specifically former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

By omitting references to Powell and Bush and how they handled private emails while in office, the press robs news consumers of key information. It’s also material that deflates the overheated suspicions of a wide-ranging Clinton cover-up.

Appearing on ABCs This Week on Sunday, Powell was asked how he responded to the State Department request last year that all former secretaries hand over emails from their time in office. Powell confirmed that he had used private email while secretary but that he didn’t hand over any emails to the State Department because his private emails were all gone.

“I don’t have any to turn over,” he explained. “I did not keep a cache of them. I did not print them off. I do not have thousands of pages somewhere in my personal files.”  Powell’s revelation is important because it puts into perspective the email protocol of a former secretary of state. By his own account, Powell’s emails, unlike Clinton’s, include his regular communications with foreign dignitaries. What was he emailing them in the lead-up to the war in Iraq? We’ll never know.

To date however, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have largely downplayed references to the fact that Powell’s private, secretary of state emails are all gone.

We simply have no “Fourth Estate” any longer. The media simply reports whatever fits their “narratives” from the 1980s and 2008 and ignores everything that doesn’t fit.

I know there is much more happening today. What Saturday reads would you recommend?


Thursday Reads

my-morning-coffee-leon-zernitsky

Good Morning!!

Actually, my morning hasn’t gone very well so far, but I’m hoping that will turn around soon. I’ve been having strange computer problems that are still ongoing, but I’m going to do the best I can to get this post up anyway. For some reason I can no longer use any browser on my computer and let me tell you, posting to WordPress with Internet Explorer is a %$^&&& nightmare!

Anyway, on to the news of the day.

News broke early this morning that two police officers had been shot outside police headquarters in Ferguson, Missouri. The two wounded officers are not from Ferguson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: Two police officers are shot in Ferguson.

The shots were fired just after midnight as police were confronting protesters who had gathered outside the police station.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said one officer was with his department and the other was with the Webster Groves department. Both were being treated at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where Belmar spoke, and were in serious condition.

The chief said at least three shots were fired. He described the injuries of both men as “very serious gunshot injuries.” Neither injury was considered life-threatening….

The Webster Groves officer was shot in the face. He is 32 and has been on the force five years.

The county officer was hit in the shoulder. That officer is 41 and has been in law enforcement for 14 years.

Belmar said no suspects have been identified in the shootings.

Read much more detail at the link. Presumably we’ll hear more about this story soon.

Reactions to the “open letter” addressed to unnamed Iranian “leaders” sent by 47 GOP morons Senators are getting more and more negative. Yesterday, Politicus USA reported: National Outrage Grows As 22 Newspaper Editorials Blast Senate Republican Letter To Iran.

Newspapers all across the country are ripping the 47 Senate Republicans who attempted to sabotage President Obama by writing a letter to Iran. Here is a sampling of the criticism from no less than 22 newspaper editorial boards.

The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire took Sen. Kelly Ayotte to task for signing the letter, “Ayotte and the rest of the gang of 47 would like nothing more than for the American people to view the letter as a necessary defense against misguided negotiations and flawed policies, a comeuppance for an arrogant commander in chief who flaunts his contempt for the Constitution. They want you to know, America, that they wrote the letter for you because Obama must be stopped. In reality, they are playing a political game dangerously out of bounds.”

The editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote that the senators who signed the letter should be ashamed, “America’s partners in the talks are among the world’s most important nations — China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. They can only be appalled at seeing Secretary of State John Kerry and the president, who are charged with making the nation’s foreign policy, hit from behind by one house of the federal legislature. The senators who signed the letter should be ashamed.”

The Sacramento Bee wrote that Senate Republicans need a civics lesson, “It’s the Republican senators who signed the letter – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and potential presidential candidates Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida – who could use a remedial civics class. The Constitution gives the president broad authority to conduct foreign policy. The Senate’s “advise and consent” role covers formal treaties. The potential deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not a treaty. It is a multinational agreement that involves Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, as well as the United States and Iran.”

Read more examples at the link.

The New York Times editorial board was particularly scathing yesterday:

Republican Idiocy on Iran.

After helping to ignite a firestorm over a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, is now sort of acknowledging his error. “Maybe that wasn’t exactly the best way to do that,” he said on Fox News on Tuesday.

He was referring to the disgraceful and irresponsible letter that he and 46 Senate colleagues sent to Iran’s leaders this week that generated outrage from Democrats and even some conservatives.

The letter was an attempt to scare the Iranians from making a deal that would limit their nuclear program for at least a decade by issuing a warning that the next president could simply reverse any agreement. It was a blatant, dangerous effort to undercut the president on a grave national security issue by communicating directly with a foreign government.

Maybe Mr. McCain, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, should have thought about the consequences before he signed the letter, which was drafted by Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas, a junior senator with no foreign policy credentials. Instead of trying to be leaders and statesmen, the Republicans in Congress seem to think their role is outside the American government, divorced from constitutional principles, tradition and the security interests of the American people.

Wow!

John Kerry was incredulous about the letter. Here’s AP video from a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the use of force against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Here’s Steve Benen at MSNBC with more on Kerry’s appearance:

Kerry teaches Rubio the basics about the Middle East.

At the recent CPAC gathering, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a likely Republican presidential candidate, seemed to stumble on one of the basic facts of the Middle East. “The reason Obama hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS is because he doesn’t want to upset Iran,” the Florida Republican said.

The senator seemed confused. In reality, President Obama has put an anti-ISIS military strategy in place, and that’s fine with Iran, since Iran and ISIS are enemies.

I’d hoped that Rubio just misspoke, or had been briefed poorly by an aide, but apparently not – -at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this afternoon, the far-right Floridian continued to push this strange theory, pressing Secretary of State John Kerry on the point. “I believe that much of our strategy with regards to ISIS is being driven by a desire not to upset Iran so they don’t walk away from the negotiating table on the deal that you’re working on,” Rubio said. “Tell me why I’m wrong.”

Whoa! Rubio is even stupider than I ever suspected. He has no f**king clue about what’s going on in the Middle East or probably anywhere else in the world for that matter.

John Boehner’s little stunt with Netanyahu hasn’t turned out that well either. From Politicus USA:

Bibi’s Speech To Congress Backfires As Netanyahu’s Popularity Crashes In US And Israel.

Polls released in the United States and Israel on March 11, 2015 tell the same story in two different countries. Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress has backfired on the Israeli Prime Minister in a spectacular way. In the United States, a Gallup Poll, conducted from March 5-8, finds that Bibi’s popularity has dropped considerably since his address to Congress.

In February, a Gallup survey found 45 percent of Americans held a favorable view of Netanyahu, compared to 24 percent who viewed him unfavorably. After his speech to Congress, Netanyahu’s favorable rating dropped to 38 percent. His unfavorable numbers climbed to 29 percent. Overall, that represents a 12 percentage point decline in his favorable to unfavorable spread….

If Bibi and Congressional Republicans had planned his speech to win over support from Americans, the propaganda ploy flopped badly. While he gained an incremental 3-point jump in popularity from Republicans, the trade-off was losing a net 29 points in his approval rating from Democrats.

As a re-election ploy back home, the gambit also appears to have failed. 35,000 Israeli citizens took to the streets of Tel Aviv, in an “Israel wants change” public protest against Netanyahu after his address to the U.S. Congress.  While large public protests do not always signify that a political leader is in jeopardy, a series of recent polls find Netanyahu losing support as well.

Bibi’s right-leaning Likud Party, which was deadlocked with Isaac Herzog’s center-left Zionist Union Party in February polls, is now losing ground. An Israel Army radio poll projects Herzog’s slate to win 24 seats in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) to Likud’s 21 seats. A Channel 2 poll conducted on Tuesday put the totals as 25 to 21 in favor of the Zionist Union over Likud. The polls both show Bibi’s support declining from his February numbers.

Hilarious.

Speaking of GOP morons, have you heard the latest from supposed presidential candidate Lindsey Graham? From Raw Story:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vowed that, if elected president, he would use the military to force Congress to reverse cuts to federal defense spending, Vox reported.

“I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to,” Graham said at an event in New Hamphsire over the weekend. “We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We are not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.”

The remark was first posted online by journalist Ron Noyes at BenSwann.com. Noyes wrote that, when reached for comment, a spokesperson from Graham’s office said via email, “Due to the large volume of mail I receive, I regret that I am only able to respond personally to inquiries from South Carolinians.”

Vox noted that, while Senate leadership is legally authorized to employ Capitol police to assure a quorum, Graham’s apparent idea stretches far beyond that.

“What Lindsey Graham is proposing is to physically force members of Congress to vote how he commands,” Amanda Taub wrote. “His plan violates constitutional separation of powers in just about the most extreme way imaginable, by forcing the executive branch’s will on the legislature. And it is a pretty safe bet that Senate rules do not grant the president authority to have the 101st Airborne Division occupy the Capitol until Congress votes the way he wants.”

I don’t even know how to react to that.

I’m going to have to end here. I’m have to try to figure out why I can’t install a decent browser on my computer. I’ll post more in the comments. What stories are you following today? I hope to see you in the comment thread.