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.


Tuesday Reads: Zimmerman Speaks, Cruz Announces, and Hillary Clinton Prepares to Run

the-piano-lesson

Good Morning!!

Get your barf bags ready before you read the new “interview” with George Zimmerman. I put that word in quotes, because the so-called “interview” was with Zimmerman’s divorce lawyer Howard Iken, not an objective journalist who might have asked uncomfortable questions. I couldn’t bring myself to read the whole thing, but you can do so at the Ayo and Iken website. You can also watch the video if you can stomach it. I did read a couple of press reports:

The Orlando Sentinel reported, George Zimmerman: President Obama amped up racial tension against me.

In his first public comments since the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute him for violating Trayvon Martin‘s civil rights, George Zimmerman says he was victimized by President Obama….

In it, he faulted the media for portraying him as a racist and the criminal justice system for bringing him to trial but saved his harshest criticism for Obama, whom he accused of trying to prosecute “an innocent American.”

“For him to make incendiary comments as he did and direct the Department of Justice to pursue a baseless prosecution, he by far over-stretched, over-reached,” Zimmerman said.

The president, whom he referred to as “Barack Hussein Obama,” should have told the public, ” ‘Let’s not rush to judgment,’ ” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman told his attorney that he doesn’t feel guilty about killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed and walking to his father’s home after buying skittles and iced tea at a local convenience store.

He said he’s convinced there’s nothing he could have done differently that would have allowed both him and Trayvon to survive their confrontation that night.

“In all fairness, you cannot as a human feel guilty for living, for surviving,” he said.

Talking Points Memo: George Zimmerman Compares Himself To Anne Frank, Says Obama Victimized Him.

“I believe that God does everything for a purpose, and he had his plans and for me to second guess them would be hypocritical and almost blasphemous,” Zimmerman said. “Had I have had a fraction of a thought that I could have done something differently, acted differently so that both of us would’ve survived then I would have heavier weight on my shoulders.”

His lawyer, Howard Iken, asked him whether he was the same man he was five years ago.

“Absolutely not,” Zimmerman said. “I have to have my guard up significantly. … I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”

189l

Apparently “God” actually wanted Trayvon dead and Zimmerman just happened to be the medium for “God’s” handiwork. Because, you know, “God” is a racist who hates black teenagers….

Don’t put away that barf bag just yet. The next topic is Ted Cruz’ announcement yesterday that he’s running for president. Cruz made the big announcement at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Jerry Falwell. You can read the full transcript at Time Magazine. Cruze praised the “christian” college profusely, but please note that Cruz himself chose to get his education at Princeton and Harvard.

Cruz led off the speech with a lengthy and sentimental description of his and his wife’s family history. Then he launched into his dream for the future of America.

I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America: 240 years ago on this very day, a 38-year-old lawyer named Patrick Henry stood up just a hundred miles from here in Richmond, Virginia, and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison “we demand our liberty.”

Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.

Today millions of young people are scared, worried about the future, worried about what the future will hold. Imagine millions of young people coming together and standing together, saying “we will stand for liberty.”

Piano player and still life

That’s not too specific, but I’m pretty sure that by “liberty” Cruz means taking away freedom of choice from women, taking away health care from millions of Americans, blocking immigration reform, and increasing income inequality through tax cuts and removal of government regulations that protect the environment and the health and safety of workers.

Cruz went on to provide some specifics:

Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law. Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law. Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.

Imagine health care reform that keeps government out of the way between you and your doctor and that makes health insurance personal and portable and affordable.

Yes, you’ll just have to imagine that, because you won’t get it with a Republican president.

Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends met, imagine a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.

Imagine abolishing the IRS.

So taxes would get paid on the honor system? And with a flat tax, the burden would fall mostly on lower wage earners. Again, it’s about “freedom” for the rich and the rest of us can pay for it.

Woman at the piano matisse

Women  and LGBT people can forget about their freedom under a Ted Cruz presidency.

Instead of a federal government that wages an assault on our religious liberty, that goes after Hobby Lobby, that goes after the Little Sisters of the Poor, that goes after Liberty University, imagine a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American.

Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.

There’s much more of Cruz’s “freedom” talk at the link.

Some reactions to the speech:

Think Progress: Ted Cruz Just Laid Out The Most Anti-Woman Agenda Yet.

FactCheck.org: FactChecking Ted Cruz

The Week: The Obama-like rhetoric, record, and divisiveness of Ted Cruz.

Mediaite: Jon Stewart Mocks Ted Cruz’s Televangelist-Like Big Speech.

SFGate: The Ten Best Things About Ted Cruz Running for President.

woman-at-tbe-piano

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to be getting close to announcing her own run for president. Yesterday she had a private meeting with President Obama.

From Politico: Hillary Clinton meets Barack Obama at the White House.

Clinton was in Washington for an event about the future of urban policy hosted by the Center for American Progress in the morning and the presentation of the Toner Award at a dinner in the evening.

In between, the all-but-declared Democratic presidential candidate swung by to see her old boss in the building she’s hoping to move into.

The White House wouldn’t comment about whether a meeting was going to happen earlier in the day, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed afterward that it had happened — though he provided few details.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton enjoy catching up in person when their schedules permit,” Earnest said. “This afternoon they met privately for about an hour at the White House and discussed a range of topics.”

I wonder if they talked about Clinton’s announcement and what Obama would do to back her up?

Music lesson

Also at Politico, Gabriel DeBenedetti wrote that Clinton and other Democrats are thrilled that Ted Cruz will be running for the GOP nomination.

Ted Cruz: Hillary Clinton’s wrecking ball.

Democrats from both inside and outside the Clinton camp have groused for months that the all-but-certain candidate was moving too slowly in formulating and projecting a rationale for running for the White House outside of her gender and the dreaded “it’s my time” argument. She was relying too much on a platform of inevitability, they said — the same platform that doomed her bid in 2008. But those closest to the former secretary of state have counseled patience, arguing that a core element of Clinton’s plan was to get out of the way and let the dueling wings of the Republican Party savage each other while she floats above it all.

Cruz, they say, is Hillary’s wrecking ball.

People close to Clinton smiled at the sight of the first-term senator wandering alone on stage at Liberty University, implicitly threatening a civil war with the “mushy” establishment of his party that he loves to decry — while at the exact same time Clinton sat comfortably alongside heavyweights from her own party’s progressive and labor elements, who have thus far entirely declined to challenge her.

Meanwhile the clamoring of some liberal groups to recruit Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive darling, was entirely unheard in downtown Washington as Clinton spent her morning discussing domestic policy at the headquarters of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank run by her allies. The presumptive Democratic front-runner sat near a pair of union bosses and current and former urban mayors, making sure to throw in some love for liberal hero Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, as she previewed pieces of her likely domestic policy platform.

She touched all corners of the Democratic Party in the morning performance before meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House and speaking at an award ceremony for political reporters in the evening, dogged only by barbs from her Republican critics.

So for Clinton, Monday was smooth sailing. For Republicans, her camp figures, it signaled the beginning of a wild and messy primary contest that will let Clinton appear to be the adult in the room before she takes on a bloodied GOP nominee.

Could the GOP clown car be even more packed with loonies in 2016 than it was in 2012?

What are you hearing? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great day.

NOTE: The paintings of piano players by Matisse are meant as a tribute to our fearless leader Dakinikat and her new moneymaking enterprise.


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.

 


Tuesday Reads: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

South Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade, March 15, 2015

South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 15, 2015

Good Morning!!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone who celebrates it. It has always been a big day here in Boston, “the most Irish city in the country,” where people with Irish ancestry make up 20% of the population.  Massachusetts is also the most Irish state in the U.S.).

The day tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth because I associate it with the stubborn exclusion of LGBT people from the South Boston parade and with the riots against school busing in South Boston back in the 1970s. I can’t seem to get those associations out of my mind. I do have some Irish ancestry, but I identify more strongly with the Scottish and French Candian parts of my ethnic makeup.

St. Patrick’s Day in Boston

This year there finally was a change in the traditional Southie parade. From the Christian Science Monitor:

For first time, South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade welcomes LGBT groups.

For the first time in its 115-year history, South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will include groups representing the LGBT community.

OUTVETS and Boston Pride will march in the two-mile parade, which celebrates St. Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day, the anniversary of the departure of British troops from Boston in 1776. The Allied War Veterans Council, who organizes the parade, accepted the application from OUTVETS, an organization for gay, lesbian, and transgender veterans and service members. On Friday, Boston Pride was invited to participate in the parade as well.

150315-boston-gay-groups-st-patricks-ef-1910_1c5cafcee658743c3a311dcc2f3c2b18

It’s too little, too late, but still a step in the right direction. This year the Mayor of Boston marched in the parade for the first time in 20 years because the ugly ban was finally lifted. But some people still couldn’t accept the change after all these years.

The Massachusetts chapter of the Knights of Columbus cited what they characterized as politicization of the event as their reason for not participating this year.

“We deeply regret that some have decided to use this occasion to further the narrow objectives of certain special interests, which has subjected this occasion to undeserved division and controversy,” the group’s statement read.

Last month, the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Harvard, Mass., withdrew from the parade because OUTVETS had been invited to march, according to Irish Live. The Catholic Action League, requested that the Allied War Veterans Council rename the parade.

“Call it the Evacuation Day Parade. Call it the South Boston Irish Pride Festival,” Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle wrote on the group’s website. “Call it whatever you want, but don’t debase the name of Saint Patrick by associating it with the tawdry circus that will take place on Broadway [Street] tomorrow.”

As Joan Rivers used to say, “Oh, grow up!” Some people who pretend to be Christians are sure filled with hate. You see why I’ve gotten turned off by this day?

St Patricks Montreal

But it really is a hard-won breakthrough. The New York Times reports:

Boston Celebrates End of Ban as Gays March in St. Patrick’s Parade.

BOSTON — Despite a gray chill and spits of rain that gave way to a downpour and later snow, hundreds of thousands of people celebrated a new chapter in this city’s history on Sunday as the storied South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade opened its ranks for the first time to gays and lesbians.

“To be included in this parade and be part of this parade is just really special for us,” said David Story, 65, a finance manager and a veteran of the Air Force. A member of OutVets, which honors lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans, he and other members wore navy blue jackets branded with the group’s logo and a rainbow.

“We’re marching not just for us, but for all the closeted L.G.B.T. people who have been in the Air Force, are in the military, for years past, and the ones that may be in now,” he said.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, a private group that organizes the 114-year-old parade, had banned gay groups from participating for decades, saying it was no place for people who were vocal about their sexual orientation. In 1995, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld what it said was the group’s First Amendment right to exclude whomever it wanted.

But that stance turned the parade into an annual battleground for the gay-rights movement, and it forced many Massachusetts politicians, including Boston’s mayor, to skip the parade, which is an essential part of Boston history and culture. Not only does it celebrate the city’s important Irish heritage, but the parade also honors a Revolutionary War holiday unique to Boston and its environs called Evacuation Day. On March 17, 1776, the Continental Army, under the command of George Washington, forced the British to retreat.

You can read more about the history of this conflict at the CSM and NYT links.

Politicians party at St. Patrick's Day Breakfast 2015

Politicians party at St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast 2015

Another long-time Boston tradition is the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at which local politicians get together to tell lame jokes and try to get Irish votes at the same time. This year’s version included a reportedly embarrassing appearance by Vice President Joe Biden, who might have been downing a wee bit of green beer early in the day.

From The Boston Globe: Groans outpace guffaws at St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

Vice President Joe Biden’s phoned-in appearance at the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston Sunday was a bit long. It was not terribly funny. And his ode to Irish heritage was more maudlin than moving.

After one attempted — but failed — interruption by the host, state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, and some awkward silences, the vice president finally yielded to US Representative Stephen F. Lynch….

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Sunday’s notable first came not at the breakfast, but at the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade that followed, with organizers allowing two organizations representing gay men and lesbians to take part after years of court battles and recriminations.

US Senator Edward J. Markey, echoing a line from Irish poet Seamus Heaney, sought to link the two events in a paean to inclusivity. “On a day in South Boston, when Linda is to host and the LGBT community can march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” he said, “hope and history are rhyming.”

Amid the often flat attempts at humor, a few of the speakers, riffing on Boston’s Olympic bid and the failures of the storm-ravaged MBTA, managed to elicit guffaws from the hundreds dining on sausage and eggs at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who got more laughs than most, took a shot at an erstwhile political rival.

“Since the last time I was here, I’ve really focused on the economy. There are a lot of people out there who have entirely given up on looking for work,” Warren said, pausing for a moment. “But enough about Scott Brown.”

Boston isn’t the only city with weird traditions around this day. I just noticed that in Chicago, they dye the river green!

Chicago river green

What does your city, state or country do on St. Patrick’s Day?

Today’s News

I found quite a bit of interesting news this morning, so I’m just going to throw out a bunch of links and you can take what you want and leave the rest.

It’s election day in Israel, and it will be interesting to see whether Benjamin Netanyahu can pull out a win (I hope not).

New York Times: Israel Elections: Live Coverage of the Vote and Results.

Associated Press, Via Newsday: Netanyahu’s future on the line in Israel parliament election.

Reuters, via HuffPo: Millions Of Israelis Head To The Polls To Cast Votes In Tightly-Fought Election.

Salon, Endangered Netanyahu warns supporters that Arabs are voting “in droves.”

ABC News: Israel Election: What You Need to Know, From Candidates to Coalitions.

Raw Story: Paul Krugman exposes how Netanyahu used Iran to conceal Israel’s economic disaster

And just for laffs, from TPM: Chuck Norris Cuts Last-Minute Campaign Video For Netanyahu (VIDEO).

st-patrick-570x600

The controversy over Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran’s “leaders” continues.

At Rolling Stone, Jeb Lund writes about “a long history of right wing mayhem” in a piece with the same title (I assume deliberately) of a 1964 far right anti-communist screed, by John Stormer, None Dare Call It Treason.

Rolling Stone: None Dare Call It Treason: Tom Cotton, Iran and Old GOP Ideas.

Bobby Jindal injects his weird opinions on the letter even though he’s not a Senator. From Politico: Jindal to Biden: Apologize to Cotton over Iran letter.

Steve Benen at MSNBC: Being Tom Cotton means never having to say you’re sorry.

Did you know Tom Cotton just made his first Senate speech? And the GOP let this newbie lead them down the garden path?

Huffington Post: It Took Tom Cotton Less Than A Minute To Invoke Hitler In First Senate Speech.

Cotton also made a fool of himself on Sunday on Face the Nation.

Raw Story: Huh? Tom Cotton says Iran must be stopped because ‘they already control Tehran’.

Wonkette: Tom Cotton Regrets Nothing, Except Not Paying Attention In Geography Class.

Other Miscellaneous Links

A couple of interesting stories at AL.com.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s son arrested, charged with drug possession in Troy.

Alumni won’t leave millions to University of Alabama because of state’s war on same-sex marriage.

Bobby Jindal has screwed up his state so badly that even Louisiana Republicans are getting mad.

Politico: Bobby Jindal’s tax problem: He promised not to raise them. Now, he’s got a huge budget hole to fill – and a big political mess on his hands.

mike-zero-02-12-2013-quotes

Salt Lake Tribune: Rolly: Mitt Romney’s new opponent is Evander Holyfield.

Charles Pierce on Fox News’ fuss over a town in Massachusetts and its snow days: Here’s Some Stupid For Afternoon Tea. Andrea Tantaros and Congressman Sean Duffy’s intellectual discussion about academic Boston and ethnic Boston.

More from Raw Story: Fox News host Andrea Tantaros: Snow days are a liberal plot to strip schools of religious holidays.

Politico: GOP senators block Ted Cruz move to hold up Loretta Lynch vote

AP via the Star-Tribune: NC man accused of chaining boy to porch with a dead chicken around his neck rejects plea deal.

Raw Story: San Francisco prosecutors will investigate old police cases after discovery of racist texts.

CBC News: Russia’s Vladimir Putin waves the nuclear option.

Foreign Policy: Despite Plea Deal, Petraeus Still Consults for the National Security Council.

New York Times: US Oil Prices Fall to Six-Year Low.

What stories are you following today? Please share your suggestions in the comment thread and have a pleasant St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 


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.

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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.”

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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.

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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:

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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?