Posted: April 11, 2014 Filed under: 2016 elections, Affordable Care Act, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Bobby Jindal, morning reads, New Orleans
So, I’m sorry but I have to go all local today on ya! There are just so many deliciously nonsensical things going on here that I cannot resist.
First, you know about our “kissing Congressman” if you’ve been awake and on line for several days. I first wrote about Congressman McAllister back in November when he won the special election. There were several things that separated him from the politics as usual up there in Crackerland Central.
First, he had never run for office before but he was rich enough from that old grifter business known as the funeral parlor to self finance and win. Second his buddies the let’s get ducks all horny and shoot’em for fun dudes helped him with commercials and such. Third, he’s been telling Louisiana that we really need to take that federal money and extend medicaid benefits under Obamacare.
Now, we already know that it’s worked for the poor folk in Kentucky. The difficulty down here is that our Governor doesn’t govern, he prepares his resume for his next political office and he’s got a small, tiny hard on for at run a the presidency. Which, brings us to Jindal Gate. Some of us think some of his buddies leaked the photos of congressman kissy face with Mrs. Peacock in the Alley by the camera.
The day this story broke was basically a day the press jumped on the usual republican family values dude falls short kinda headline day. But, over on facebook, a bunch of us who watch Louisiana politics like most folks watch the Saints thought hmmmmmmm, this is a little weird. Lamar–who actually manages to stay up later than me–got to writing the story first and he gets tremendous Scooby Snax for it. His article basically went viral but it seems that some folks are still trying to get back to the Congressman up in your family values face who was caught on video passionately smooching a friend’s wife who was also one of his paid staffers.
The deal is this folks. Check out the date on the video that’s been every where. The kiss happened before Christmas in his office with Mrs Peacock right in front of the security cameras which was also the office and the security cameras of his predecessor. This is the predecessor that retired early so Bobby Jindal’s handpicked buddy could go to congress. That hand picked buddy called McAllister a liberal for supporting the federal extension of medicaid that Bobby Jindal doesn’t like, won’t take, and has chosen as the first little policy roll out of his pathetic attempt to get national attention. Then, notice how quickly Politico got the tape. The story originated from the Oachita Citizen whose owner backed the opponent and basically runs a virtual small town paper that’s about as notable as the PTA minutes from your local elementary school. Lamar’s got a tick tock that really lays it all out for you.
The story was first broken at 12:19PM by The Ouachita Citizen, a fledgling website that claims to have a paid readership of more than 5,200 people but, based on third-party web traffic analytical data, likely has a daily audience of between 200-300 unique visitors. An hour and a half later, the story was on the front page of Politico. An hour later, it was covered by almost every national news outlet in the United States- Fox, CBS, The Washington Post, NBC.
With all due respect to John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman, the two Politico journalists who broke the story nationally, it defies logic that they somehow randomly stumbled on a story published on a website that even most Louisianians have never heard of and verified the authenticity and provenance of a blurry surveillance video (which, by the way, was behind a paywall) all within a span of 90 minutes. No, this leak was coordinated and planned, and more than likely, considering it was recorded nearly four months ago, it had been in the works for a long time.
Notably, The Ouachita Citizen strongly supported State Senator Neil Riser, calling Mr. McAllister a “liberal” in a bizarre, apoplectic rant, which, ostensibly was an endorsement of Riser but reads more like a scathing attack against McAllister for supporting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. In its report on the McAllister video, The Ouachita Citizen claims to have received the video from an “anonymous” source, but somehow, inexplicably, they were able to verify the video’s provenance. The Ouachita Citizen, in my opinion, bordered on recklessness in their reporting, publishing Mrs. Peacock’s home address and implying, without any evidence whatsoever, that she may have never actually married her own husband. It seemed, to me, nasty and personal, motivated by more than a mere desire to inform the public.
So, the fun part started yesterday when the head of the Louisiana Republican Party and then Jindal got all in a righteous huff about the kiss. They called for his resignation because you know!!! Religious right wing indignation and all that! Funny thing is that both these asses were not so outraged when Diaper Dave Vitter was found on the list of the DC Madam and his diaper escapades went viral on the internet. So, blogger, journalism professor, and political junkie Bob Mann can’t help but wonder if Vitter’s wet dreams of being governor aren’t going to wind up in the diaper pail? I’ll see your kiss and raise you a felony soliciting prostitutes. You know, the same kinda thing that forced a New York Governor to resign. But, not David Vitter, he’s pathetic entitled lily white ass just keeps on going and going and going …
Vitter, as you will recall, was embroiled in a sordid sex scandal in the summer of 2007, finally admitting to a “serious sin,” which everyone knew meant he had paid prostitutes for sex.
As Louisiana Republican Party leaders from Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Louisiana Republican Party called for McAllister’s resignation, a logical question for many journalists and other observers was: “If simply kissing a female staffer is a moral outrage that should cost someone his seat in Congress, why is it a lesser offense for a U.S. senator to pay prostitutes for sex?”
It’s a very good question and one which neither Jindal nor party officials addressed today after condemning McAllister. Vitter, of course, refused comment, too.
I’ll save for another day a full review of the rank hypocrisy of Jindal and GOP leaders who think it’s just dandy for the morally challenged Vitter to continue serving in the United States Senate, but find themselves absolutely repulsed by the idea of McAllister’s on-camera lip lock.
That’s like forgiving a bank robber, and then throwing the book at someone who writes a bad check.
Regardless, the uncomfortable questions keep coming from reporters, from the Twitter-sphere and elsewhere. Sure, the questions will eventually go away once McAllister himself has gone away.
Yet, that almost every political observer in Louisiana – upon hearing about Jindal’s call for McAllister’s resignation – immediately thought of Vitter’s prostitution scandal should tell Vitter and his Republican allies something.
Vitter may have assumed his sordid past was behind him. It isn’t – and this time next year it may be front and center in the Louisiana governor’s race.
So what is Jindal all uptight about? He doesn’t say ONE word about Vitter but wow, the kissing congressman should resign because he’s an “embarassment”. Rank hypocrisy stinks enough, but there are those of us that really think he’s known about this tape for some time, is dropping it to get rid of a problem, and that some one close to him got that tape.
“Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment and he should resign,” Jindal said in a statement. “He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress.”
Notice Jindal’s response to Vitter’s gubernatorial aspirations and the one thing that really stands out in this announcement is what little issue here?
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R): “It is far too early for me to be making an endorsement.”
“I appreciate his working with us on an issue that I think is one of the most important issues in the state of Louisiana.” — regarding Jindal’s 2012 education overhaul.
“I also appreciate his steadfast opposition to Obamacare, to the ACA.”
Yeah. Like I don’t smell that unique mix of Curry and Watergate salad coming from the Capitol City. Bobby and Diaper Dave may hate each other, but Jindal does not want any one messing with his foray into health policy wonkery. I really really want the FBI to go for it, believe me. Just in case you want to see the response to the Vitter thing by Jindal. Well, here it is.
While we are disappointed by Senator Vitter’s actions, Supriya and I continue to keep David and his family in our prayers. This is a matter for the Senator to address, and it is our hope that this is not used by others for their own political gain.
Other uber embarrassing things are just adding to my desire to see New Orleans ask France to negotiate a retake. This one tops my list. Please, please, please can some one read these idiots the first amendment with emphasis on the establishment clause?
Legislation that would make the Holy Bible the official state book of Louisiana cleared the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs with a vote of 8-5 Thursday afternoon. It will now head to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, originally filed a bill to declare a specific copy of the Bible, found in the Louisiana State Museum system, the official state book. But by the time he presented the proposal to the committee, he changed language in his legislation to make the generic King James version of the Bible, a text used worldwide, the official state book.
Still, Legislators became concerned that the proposal wasn’t broad enough and did not reflect the breadth of Bibles used by religious communities. In particular, some lawmakers worried that singling out the King James version of the Bible would not properly reflect the culture of Louisiana. The Catholic Church, for example, does not use the King James text.
“Let’s make this more inclusive of other Christian faiths, more than just the ones that use the King James version,” said Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro.
A few committee members fought the bill vehemently, saying the legislation was likely to upset some citizens who are not Christian and open the state up to legal challenges.
“I am so bothered by this bill that I just called my pastor. My pastor just said that he thinks we are going to have a legal problem,” said Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, who voted against the legislation.
Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey, tried to amend the bill to declare “all books of faith” the official state books of Louisiana, but the proposal failed 5-8. When asked if he would be open to making “all books of faith” a group of official state books, Carmody was fairly adamant in his opposition.
Well not even New Orleans is exempt from the usual asshattery. After being found guilty of basically emptying the city’s accounts for personal trips, home improvements, clothes, family vacations, and all kinds of meals and stuff, we now have a plea for a legal defense fund for Ray Nagin. Yeah, try not to trip all over yourselves helping him get more money from others.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s legal defense fund is real, and it has at least one donation.
After rapper 9th Ward Gucci (@IAM9THWARD) tweeted a pic of a digital receipt acknowledging his donation, Nagin (@RayNagin) retweeted the shot, appended with a shout out. “Maximum respect. Donated, spoke out, not intimidated. U the man!”
Try not to spend that $10 all in one place Ray Ray!
I did want to point to a story about one recent story about a crime here in uptown near the Tulane Campus. This crime is really strange for a variety of reasons. Not the least is the name given to the victim by the perp.
She first encountered the man, who introduced himself as “Patrick,” on April 1. She was visiting the Carrollton home of a friend, and saw the man staring at her from behind cars parked in the driveway next door.
“He was this huge, beefed-up young guy,” she said, “and the neighbors are middle-aged. My friends and I are all in our 30s. This guy just didn’t fit in.”
She remembers him saying, “Hi, I’m Patrick.” Uninterested in engaging with him, she didn’t respond and he walked away toward Carrollton Avenue.
The next day, she returned to the Green Street home. She started getting out materials to finish painting the trim on her friend’s front porch. It was still daylight. She thinks it was 5:30 or 6 p.m.
Suddenly, there was “Patrick” again.
This time he approached within eight to 10 feet and began pestering her with questions, small talk, and overtures to go out. He even raised his tight-fitting T-shirt, trying to impress her with his hairless, hardened abs.
“I’m sure I rolled my eyes and probably snorted or something,” she said. “I can be pretty icy, but he just kept on. I was getting kind of pissy, because I came here to paint a house, not listen to some college boy chat me up. I’m old enough to be this guy’s mom, practically.
“He said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry if I offended you. Let me introduce myself.’ And I’m 90 percent sure he said his last name was Bateman.”
Patrick Bateman, she later learned, is the name of the fictional rapist, sadist and serial killer who narrates Bret Easton Ellis’ novel “American Psycho,” made into a 2000 film starring Christian Bale.
Tired of his advances, she packed up her paints and brushes and went back inside her friend’s house and locked the door behind her. She was alone.
The man in the front yard walked away, she recalled.
So a few minutes later, she went to the restroom, closed the door, and drew a bath. As she finished bathing, she heard the stereo turned on and assumed her homeowner friend was home early from work.
“But it was really loud, and it was NPR,” she said. “Like, who blasts NPR?”
The woman dried off and got dressed in a shirt, blue jeans and socks. Her boots, and a canvas bag with her cell phone, were left behind as she came out of the bathroom. She called out to her friend, then to her friend’s husband, momentarily forgetting he was out of town on business.
She came down the hall to find “Patrick,” staring at her impassively. A black rope was in his left hand.
“He looked so much bigger inside the house than he did outside,” she recalled. “This dude was massive.”
The woman — 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 130 pounds — says she has taken Krav Maga self-defense classes and is physically fit from a job requiring manual labor. “But this guy was probably 6-1 or 6-2, and he probably outweighed me by 100 pounds,” she said. “All that self-defense stuff just doesn’t work when somebody is that much bigger than you.
“It was like fighting a tree.”
It seems women and children are never safe.
Some times a kiss is not just a kiss.
Here are some other headlines that you may want to check out:
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Resigning via ABC NEWS.
CBS announces that Steven Colbert will be David Letterman’s Replacement and Rush Limbaugh gets the sads. “THE LATE
Some lady threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton in Los Vegas .
Well, that’s it from me. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: April 10, 2014 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics, War on Women | Tags: "Gospel of Jesus's Wife", "The 20 stages of reading", ancient papyrus, Dagestan, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Edward Snowden, Emir Muaz, FBI, Glenn Greenwald, Heartbleed bug, Jesselyn Radack, Lynda Barry, Mike Huckabee, Rep. William R. Keating, Russia, Sexism, Tamerlan Tsarnaev
We’re approaching the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings–next Tuesday April 15–so it’s not surprising that more stories related to last year’s attacks are appearing in the media.
In a surprising and revealing story, the LA Times yesterday broke the news that shortly before last years’ marathon, alleged Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev tried to change his first name to “Muaz” in tribute to Emir Muaz, a militant anti-Russian fighter who was killed in Dagestan in 2009. From the LA Times:
Less than three months before the Boston Marathon bombings, a bitter, frustrated Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited a federal immigration office in the Boston area and signed forms seeking to legally change his first name.
Eager to recast himself in the model of a well-known rebel figure killed by Russian forces in 2009, Tsarnaev chose as his new name “Muaz,” according to a previously undisclosed Homeland Security Department petition form, which was obtained by The Times. It was not only a tribute to Emir Muaz, a celebrated fighter in Russia’s Dagestan republic, it was also the nickname rebels had given Tsarnaev during his six-month visit to the region in 2012, law enforcement officials say.
Asked as part of the Jan. 23, 2013, application to explain his name change request, Tsarnaev described the decision in political terms, according to a federal law enforcement official close to the Boston bombing case. “He said, ‘The Russian people have been terrorizing my home country for all these years.’ This is why he needed to come back to America and help,” the official said.
Emir Abu Muaz
The name change request was an update to a citizenship application filed in 2012 that was held up by Homeland Security because of a domestic violence conviction against Tsarnaev and because officials learned that the FBI had investigated Tamerlan in 2011. The younger Tsarnaev brother, Dzhokhar had been granted citizenship at a ceremony on September 11, 2012. From the NYT, April 20 2013:
The record of the F.B.I. interview was enough to cause Homeland Security to hold up Mr. Tsarnaev’s application. He presented those papers several weeks after he returned from a six-month trip overseas, primarily to Russia, and only six days after his brother, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, had his own citizenship application approved. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in custody and is in serious condition in a hospital.
Late last year, Homeland Security officials contacted the F.B.I. to learn more about its interview with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, federal law enforcement officials said. The F.B.I. reported its conclusion that he did not present a threat.
At that point, Homeland Security officials did not move to approve the application nor did they deny it, but they left it open for “additional review.”
Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have argued that the FBI most likely tried to enlist Tamerlan as an informer and his resentment of the pressure they put on him may have contributed to his radicalization. The FBI claims they only met with Tamerlan one time, but his mother Zubeidat Tsarneva said last year that FBI agents “followed them for years.” Lawyers for younger brother Dzhokhar also say there were multiple contacts between Tamerlan and the FBI. From the LA Times:
…according to his brother’s lawyers, the FBI’s involvement went further. They said in court papers that there was “more than one” FBI visit to talk with Tsarnaev and his parents, that he was questioned about his Internet searches, and that the bureau “asked him to be an informant.”
“Tamerlan misinterpreted the visits and discussions with the FBI as pressure, and they amounted to a stressor that increased his paranoia and distress,” defense attorneys argued in the filings.
Federal prosecutors, however, told defense attorneys in a March 14 letter that they had “no evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was solicited by the government to be an informant.” They did not comment on whether there were multiple FBI visits….
The new revelations about Tsarnaev have prompted defense lawyers for his brother to characterize him as the key player who “supplied the motivation, planning and ideology behind the Boston Marathon attack,” according to recent filings.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
A couple more tidbits: Massachusetts Rep. William R. Keating revealed yesterday that Russian warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev after his trip to Russia in 2012 included a suggestion that he might try to change his name.
Keating said in an interview that Russian intelligence letters sent to both the FBI and CIA in 2011 about Tsarnaev predicted he would seek to change his name. The letter did not say what name Tsarnaev would take, according to Keating. Keating said Russian intelligence agencies read him a copy of the letter they sent to the FBI and the CIA. He took notes from the conversation, but was not given a copy of the letter.
“It’s amazing how much information they did know, the Russians,” Keating said. “Look at everything that’s there. The change of the name, that’s corroborated. That he wanted to travel back to Russia, that’s been corroborated. That he wanted to enlist with extremists, that’s corroborated. I mean, everything that was in that [warning] has been corroborated.”
However the Globe uncovered a different explanation for the desired name change:
During six months in Dagestan in 2012, Tsarnaev fell in with members of an Islamic advocacy group that believes in the establishment of an Islamic caliphate governed by sharia religious law that would span the Caucasus. They are sharply critical of US interventions in Muslim countries, but they do not openly espouse violence, and they are not outlaws.
His associates in Dagestan told the Globe that when Tsarnaev learned that he was named after a medieval Mongol warlord who conquered much of Central Asia, he wanted a new name. They said they chose the name Muaz, after an early Islamic scholar, and Tsarnaev adopted it. All of his friends in Dagestan know him as Muaz.
Finally, the NYT reported yesterday that Russia also withheld some of the information they had on Tamerlan.
Russian officials had told the F.B.I. in 2011 that the suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer” and that Mr. Tsarnaev “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”
But after an initial investigation by the F.B.I., the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Mr. Tsarnaev, according to the report, a review of how intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing.
At the time, American law enforcement officials believed that Mr. Tsarnaev posed a far greater threat to Russia.
The new inspector general’s report found that it was only after the bombing occurred last April that the Russians shared with the F.B.I. the additional intelligence, including information from a telephone conversation the Russian authorities had intercepted between Mr. Tsarnaev and his mother in which they discussed Islamic jihad.
Phew! Lots of Boston bombing news all of a sudden. I wonder what else will come out in the run-up to this year’s Marathon, which will be held on Monday, April 21.
In other news . . .
Yesterday tech sites and Twitter were abuzz with the news of the “Heartbleed bug” a software encryption vulnerability that has the potential to give hackers access to “two-thirds of the internet’s servers” as well as to private encryption keys such as those used by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. Read all about it at Ars Technica.
In fact yesterday Cryptome.org published a supposedly private e-mail from Jesselyn Radack, who claims to be Snowden’s “legal adviser” and Glenn Greenwald. Radack had been tricked into responding to a fake Greenwald key created by an unknown hacker. The bug has been out there for two years, so tell me again how Snowden and Greenwald are so sure the stolen NSA data is safe from Russia and China?
This encryption stuff is all Greek to me, but here are a few more links to explore:
Washington Post: Heartbleed bug causes major security headache
The New Yorker: The Internet’s Telltale Heartbleed
CNet: Which sites have patched the Heartbleed bug?
Mike Huckabee is at it again. From TPM, Huckabee: Men Hunt Together, Women Go To The Restroom Together
Mike Huckabee played up gender stereotypes in a speech delivered Tuesday night in Iowa.
As she live-tweeted the former Arkansas governor’s speech at a fundraiser for Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition on Tuesday in Waukee, Iowa, Des Moines Register columnist Kathee Obradovich passed along this line on Twitter,”.@GovMikeHuckabee says men like to go hunt/fish with other men. “Women like to go to the restroom with other women.”
“Yes, he really said that,” Obradovich said in an email to TPM on Wednesday, adding that she ultimately did not write a column about the event….
His joke about women going to the restroom together came after he challenged those in attendance to stand for their convictions, even if they have to do it alone.
You see, I have a concern that one of the reasons we lose battles we should win is because we wait to see whether or not the crowd is going to be with us. My question to you tonight — it’s nice to see a nice, full crowd of folks here in this wonderful Point of Grace Church — but I just wonder if you were the only one who showed up tonight, would you still be ready to take on the cause? Because the fact is we don’t like to do things by ourselves. We really don’t. Guys like to go fishing with other men. They like to go hunting with other men. Women like to go to the restroom with other women. I don’t get that. I can tell you this much: if I ever say, ‘I have to go to the restroom’ and some guy says, ‘I’ll go with you,’ he ain’t goin’ with me. That much I know.
I wonder what Huckabee will have to say about this? Papyrus Referring to Jesus’s Wife Is More Likely Ancient Than Fake, Scientists Say. The NYT reports:
A faded fragment of papyrus known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery.
Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’ ” Too convenient for some, it also contained the words “she will be able to be my disciple,” a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests.
The papyrus fragment has now been analyzed by professors of electrical engineering, chemistry and biology at Columbia University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who reported that it resembles other ancient papyri from the fourth to the eighth centuries. (Scientists at the University of Arizona, who dated the fragment to centuries before the birth of Jesus, concluded that their results were unreliable.)
The Times hastens to add that
The test results do not prove that Jesus had a wife or disciples who were women, only that the fragment is more likely a snippet from an ancient manuscript than a fake, the scholars agree.
My response: There’s no proof he didn’t have a wife either, and the manuscript seems to suggest he might have.
I’ll end with this wonderful cartoon on reading over a lifetime by Lynda Barry, The 20 stages of reading. Check it out at the WaPo. I loved it and I think you will too!
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comment thread.
Posted: April 9, 2014 Filed under: 2014 elections, Congress, Foreign Affairs, morning reads, Pakistan | Tags: Anne Frank, Eric Holder, Kate Mulgrew, Louis Gohmert, Occidental College, war
Portrait by Nico Jungmann
We have a variety of links for you today, shall we just get down to it?
By the way, the images are from the Sketchbook of Nico Jungmann… enjoy them.
They have heard another series of pings, this time it lasted longer than 7 minutes, via USA Today: Official: Plane may be found in ‘matter of days’
Meanwhile: Ukraine says separatists hold hostages; activists deny charge | Reuters
Congrats to UCONN: Another National Championship for Connecticut Women’s Basketball
Out of all the news hitting the internets this past day or so, the one story that was more moving to me was this one…about the sapling that is being planted at the Capitol.
A very special sapling it is: WASHINGTON: Sapling from Anne Frank’s “bare chestnut tree” coming to the Capitol
Congressional leaders will plant an Anne Frank Memorial Tree on the U.S. Capitol’s west front lawn April 30.
The sapling was taken from a chestnut tree that stood outside the Amsterdam annex where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II.
In her February 23, 1944, she talked about the tree:
“From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the sea gulls and other birds as they glide on the wind…I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
The tree itself collapsed in 2010, but its stewarts crated saplings. Eleven have been given to sites throughout this country.
Isn’t it a pretty thought to have a connection to a little girl who equated “solace in all troubles” to the very branches that brought forth this sapling? What I am yearning for right now is solace in all troubles, bet you are too.
Here is an picture of the tree viewed from inside the attic where Anne Frank hid, it was taken before it fell back in 2010: Anne Frank tree knocked down by storm
In this Nov. 14, 2007 file photo the chestnut tree which comforted Anne Frank while she hid from the Nazis during World War II, as seen from the attic window in the secret annex at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands The monumental chestnut tree has fallen over on Monday, Aug. 23, a spokeswoman for the Anne Frank Museum says.
As I was saying, we could all use some solace now, with this kind of shit going on: Los Angeles Times Was Wrong to Retract Article on Rape at Occidental
On March 14, 2014, The Los Angeles Times issued a retraction of an article in which reporter Jason Felch stated that Occidental College failed to disclose 27 sexual assaults in its 2012 Annual Security Report (ASR). The retraction states that “Occidental representatives approached the Times early this month to seek a correction. Documents reviewed by The Times this week show that the 27 incidents did not fall under the law’s disclosure requirements for a variety of reasons.”
However, The Los Angeles Times did not perform due diligence in their investigation of the numbers, and they never should have issued a retraction. Felch had incontrovertible evidence that the College did not include anonymous cases in their 2012 ASR and had verification that the college could not lawfully account for 27 missing cases.
Given the evidence, The Times should issue a mea culpa, and especially after Occidental spokesperson Jim Tranquada recently admitted to the LA Weekly that Dean of Students Barbara Avery ignored federal Clery reporting requirements that year. “In 2012, out of concern for student confidentiality, the Dean of Students office did not always communicate to Campus Safety when a student initiated the sexual-misconduct process or otherwise reported a sexual assault.”
Harrumph…I think Jezebel is on to something there, don’t you?
Since we are talking about issues of “due diligence” or maybe somehow having the wool pulled over one’s eyes, there is an update to a little news story regarding a former Star Trek actress and a Scientist who had No Clue How He Ended up in Holocaust-Denier’s Creationism Documentary
A new documentary titled “The Principle” is the latest from creationists and geocentrists. The film perpetuates the long disproven notion that the sun revolves around the Earth. It is narrated by “Star Trek’s” Kate Mulgrew, who starred as Capt. Kathryn Janeway in both “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Nemesis.” From the looks of the trailer, this film is the antithesis of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s scientific look at the universe in “Cosmos.”
The film was funded by the ultra-conservative, ultra-Roman Catholic Robert Sungenis, who also appears in the film. Sungenis is also known for denying the Holocaust, and for his anti-Semitic articles, which his bishop demanded he stop writing.
According to Raw Story, the film features several scientists — some without permission. Clips from the trailer show Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss and Max Tegmart. Krauss is incensed, and tweeted:
For all who asked: Some clips of me apparently were mined for movie on geocentricism. So stupid does disservice to word nonsense. Ignore it.
— Lawrence Krauss (@LKrauss1) April 8, 2014
Krauss also wrote a piece for Slate to explain his complete bewilderment at being included. He is also unsure the means taken to get the clips. Krauss will probably not take legal action, in order to not further stoke the publicity for the pseudo-scientific doc. He also lampoons the idea of geocentricism, saying, “The notion that anyone in the 21st century could take seriously the notion that the sun orbits the Earth, or that the Earth is the center of the universe, is almost unbelievable.”
Okay, so this in the lack of due-diligence I was referring to: OH THANK GOD: Kate Mulgrew Is Mad About the Geocentric Documentary, Too
Yesterday, we ended the day on a major bummer when we learned that Kate Mulgrew, the actor best known for playing Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager, would be narrating a documentary backed by geocentrists and Holocaust deniers. Today, she’s set the record straight.
Mulgrew took to her official Facebook page about an hour ago to address growing concerns that her involvement with The Principle, a documentary about how NASA is totally trying to hide the truth that the Sun revolves around the Earth from us or whatever, in some way reflected her own views.
“I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called THE PRINCIPLE. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused. Kate Mulgrew”
Seems to me that she needs to, along with her assistants…agent, be a little more diligent when it comes to accepting offers to narrate a documentary as batshit crazy as this one. Unless the producers of the documentary have fraudulently re-edited her voice over to fit their agenda…but I believe she was a voice for hire as she states and just did not do the proper homework on the matter, and only seeing a check at the end of a day.
Speaking of crazy, have you seen this? Baby Accused of Murder Plot Goes Into Hiding in Pakistan
A 9-month-old Pakistani baby accused of raiding a state-run gas company and plotting to murder police has gone into hiding following his first court appearance last week.
Alleged infant criminal mastermind Muhammad “Musa” Khan was charged with conspiracy to commit murder Feb. 1, along with his father, grandfather and around 30 others. The group was protesting an increase in gas prices and a lack of available electricity in their area.
Baby Musa was granted bail in a Lahore court last week, and has another court appearance scheduled for April 12. His family hasn’t decided whether he’ll show up.
“Police are vindictive. Now they are trying to settle the issue on personal grounds, that’s why I sent my grandson to Faisalabad for protection,” the baby’s grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, told Reuters.
I guess the reasons for his arrest are being explain as, guilt by association?
A police sub-inspector apparently claimed in a report that Yasin’s entire family beat him up during the protest. That sub-inspector has since been fired.
What else would we expect when they also will stone women for adultery when they are raped.
With all the talk on equal pay these days, Researchers: More U.S. mothers staying at home because of unemployment | The Raw Story
More mothers in the United States are staying home, but the increase is linked more to unemployment and demographic changes than to choice, a study published Tuesday suggested.
In 2012, nearly one in three mothers, or 29 percent, did not work outside the home, up from 23 percent in 1999, said the study from the Washington-based Pew Research Center.
Most of the homemakers, 85 percent, indicated they stayed at home to look after their children. However, six percent said they did so because they could not find employment — up from one percent in 2000.
And another article dealing with numbers: This Map Shows The Deadly Aftermath Of War Right Here At Home
In 2008, The New York Times compiled a list of 121 cases in which veterans were charged with a killing after returning home, and Current TV, GOOD and MGMT.design collaborated to update the research in 2010. The Huffington Post collected data from these sources and more recent news articles to create the infographic below, which shows that at least 194 veterans have been charged with killings after returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. It also shows that there has been a concentration of such incidents around military bases. Our research may not be a complete tally, but these were the cases we could confirm.
Infographic at the link above.
Alright then, the rest of the links are all dealing with shit, whether it be bullshit…fish shit, Japanese print fart shit, or GOP dipshit(s). (yes plural)
First the GOP assholes…GOP Candidate Wants To Get Elected To Keep His Daughter From Learning Evolution
I don’t know where the hell these people come from and yet…they keep getting elected or in this guy’s case, backed by those politicians already in office.
Aaron Miller, a Republican congressional candidate in Minnesota, said a big reason he’s running is to end classroom instruction on evolution, according to the Mankato Free Press.
Miller, a hospital account manager and Iraq War veteran, said during the congressional district’s Republican Party convention in Albert Lea on Saturday that Minnesota needs more religious freedom. He cited an incident in which his daughter was forced to learn evolution in school.
According to the Mankato Free Press:
He also called for more religious freedoms. He repeated his story about his daughter returning home from school because evolution was being taught in her class. He said the teacher admitted to not believing in the scientific theory to his daughter but told her that the government forced him to teach the lesson.
Miller first mentioned his daughter’s evolution lesson at the Blue Earth County convention in March, according to the Mankato Free Press.
“We should decide what is taught in our schools, not Washington, D.C.,” Miller, who won the Republican endorsement for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District on Saturday, said during his speech.
Despite Miller’s attacks on Washington’s influence on education, Minnesota’s academic standards in science are set by the state Department of Education.
Not only is this guy a dipshit, he is a dumbshit.
Eric Holder got in some good jabs yesterday, Eric Holder to Louie Gohmert: ‘Good Luck With Your Asparagus’ | The Daily Banter
Gohmert brought up the “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal (because of course he did) and reminded Holder that he was hit with contempt of Congress charges by the House two years ago for failing to turn over Justice Department documents which the House had subpoenaed. Holder warned Gohmert, “You don’t want to go there, buddy.”
But that wasn’t the really good one. At the end of Gohmert’s time, Holder got the last word. As the chair recognized a different committee member, Holder said to Gohmert, “Good luck with your asparagus.”
This was an hilarious reference to an exchange between Holder and Gohmert last year when Gohmert inexplicably said that Holder “cast aspersions” on his “asparagus.”
Yes, Louie Gohmert said “cast aspersions on my asparagus.” What?
Oh Gohmert, you round-headed nincompoop. You’re lucky that’s all Holder said to you regarding that. If I was Holder, I’d make it a point to work the word “asparagus” into every other sentence. Why? Because this is exactly how a nutbag like Gohmert deserves to be treated.
Videos at the link.
Oh, be glad we don’t have this kind of trouble to deal with: Carnivorous piranhas found blocking sewers in Shropshire
The fish, which are known for their voracious appetites and are commonly found in slightly more tropical climates than Shropshire, had been blocking the sewers after a resident chose to dispose of the dead fish down their toilet.
Matt Final and Jay Slater, who went to investigate the blockage for Severn Trent said: “We’ve certainly seen some weird things in the sewers over the years but we were a little shocked to remove piranhas.
Yeah, dead piranhas down the drain is a bit strange indeed. But at least they were not let out into the local pond or river while alive…I know it isn’t much of a news story, but fish down the shitter is only a segue to the final link: Today We Learned: Japanese “Fart Battle” Scrolls Exist
Let’s talk about farts. Specifically, fart battles as depicted in these hundreds-of-years-old Japanese “he-gassen” scrolls. They’re a real thing, and they might be the best real thing we’ve seen today. Check out some more examples below.
Besides just being incredibly fun to look at, because farts being funny is as much a universal constant as the speed of light, he-gassen scrolls also served some political function in their day. They were sort of like New Yorker cartoons—but with farts. The joke, according to Dangerous Minds and The Daily Mail seems to be that at the time, Japan’s view of foreigners wasn’t a favorable one.
When I saw that headline I immediately thought of Monty Python’s….I fart in your general direction..and it seems that the person who wrote the post thought the same thing.
More pictures of Japanese prints at the link, as well as more info on the artwork.
That is all I have for you this morning. Have a good day and please share your thoughts with us today.
Posted: April 7, 2014 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics, War on Women | Tags: Anita Hill, Diane Feinstein, Game of Thrones, Michael Hayden, Mickey Rooney, Sexism, Susan Merk, Thomas Greason, Women
Well, the women in Game of Thrones may be looking towards a year of kick ass revenge. The women of the United States of Superstitious nonsense still have to deal with mansplaining and not being taken seriously. These two stories just iced my cupcakes this weekend. First, CIA stooge Michael Hayden accused Senator Dianne Feinstein of being “too emotional”. This is basically the most hackneyed insult a man can throw at a woman in power.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, may be too “emotional” to have produced a fair report on the CIA’s use of torture, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” about a Senate Intelligence Committee report which criticizes the CIA program as excessive and ineffective at fighting terrorism, Hayden said Feinstein “wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American brutal program of detention interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.”
“That motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator, but I don’t think it leads you to an objective report,” Hayden said.
Hayden claimed a lack of knowledge about the report itself, but admitted that key information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden from a detainee who was later tortured by the CIA was actually attained before he was ever turned over to the CIA.
Still, Hayden said he believed that “the totality of information, including information from this program” led to finding bin Laden.
This tidbit came directly after my reading this bit of nonsense from a Virginia Republican.
A Republican Virginia lawmaker accused an elderly constituent of intellectual laziness after she urged him via email to support the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, the Loudoun Times-Mirror reported on Tuesday.
“How intellectually lazy are you?” state Thomas Greason (R) wrote Susan Merk as part of a series of emails between the two. “You are the problem. Good luck to you. You can not insult your way to ‘victory.’ If you are not willing to have a civil discussion, please do not write me again. It is a waste of my time.”
Greason’s remarks were the culmination of a contentious correspndence. Merk, a resident at a retirement community in Loudoun County, wrote Greason on March 24 saying it was “imperative” that lawmakers vote to support the state program under the Affordable Care Act. But Merk took issue with Greason’s response, in which he opposed such a move because the law “as already proven to be inefficient, costly, and an utter disaster.”
“This reply is pitiful — it’s nothing but partisan rhetoric, false accusations and invalid excuses,” Merk wrote back. “I will be sure to vote you out the next time you’re up for election.”
Greason’s ensuing response took a more aggressive tone towards Merk.
“Pitiful because I am willing to enter a dialogue with you?” he wrote. “All you liberals are the same. As soon as someone doesn’t agree with you, you shut down communication, call the other side names, take your ball and go home. I understand and am saddened by this approach at the federal level … but your reaction below is THE problem. I did not have to write you back … but I did. I think discussing differences is the only way to solve problems.”
On Monday, Greason told the Times-Mirror that he “must have been having a bad day” when he wrote his latest response to Merk.
I really get tired of the way these politicians treat older women. I hope their wives/mothers/daughters/grandmothers give them a good what for.
Those of you in larger cities can get your anger on with a new film about Anita Hill. I will. NEVER. get over that travesty of a hearing.
Against a backdrop of sex, politics, and race, ANITA reveals the intimate story of a woman who spoke truth to power. Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Freida Mock, the film is both a celebration of Anita Hill’s legacy and a rare glimpse into her private life with friends and family, many of whom were by her side that fateful day 22 years ago. Anita Hill courageously speaks openly and intimately for the first time about her experiences that led her to testify before the Senate and the obstacles she faced in simply telling the truth. She also candidly discusses what happened to her life and work in the 22 years since.
93 year old Mickey Rooney has died.
Rooney had been in ill health for quite some time.
He was one of the most famous child actors in entertainment history. He play the role of Andy Hardy in 20 films.
Rooney also teamed up with Judy Garland for “Babes in Arms” which was a huge hit back in 1939.
He was the first teenager ever to be nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in “Strike Up the Band” in 1940.
Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor stared in one of the biggest movies of the 40s — “National Velvet” — which launched Taylor’s career.
That’s about all I can find at the moment, I’m afraid. I’m going to search for some more headlines as the day wears on.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: April 6, 2014 Filed under: A My Pet Goat Moment, abortion rights, Africa, Art, child sexual abuse, children, China, court rulings, Crime, Egypt, Foreign Affairs, History, Homeless, income inequality, Injustice system, morning reads, poverty, Psychopaths in charge, Real Life Horror, Reproductive Rights, Spain, Violence against women | Tags: amazonfresh, Black Death, Chase Elliott, Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City school, measles Orange County, Medieval Shit Stinks, MH370, NY Subway, rape, Southwest Early College Campus, Vogue Italia, Ziguinchor Senegal
Good Morning All…
It was so distressing for to see one of our Sky Dancing family have such a traumatic reaction to one of our post a few days ago, I could somewhat understand, as my rape experience comes back in nightmares…and even in flashes of memory during times when I least expect it. But I could not think of anything to say, of any words to offer that would be consoling…it was like I froze up. I was afraid to even look at the comments yesterday. I did not want to face up to it.
Why couldn’t I do that? What was making me recoil from the blog like that?
I feel so bad, and still do not know what to say to my dear one, who know who she is…
I’ll try to keep from lingering on the issue, but there are a few disturbing stories I am bringing y’all today that will probably rub salt in old wounds.
First some good and happy news, on Friday Bill Elliott’s son Chase Elliott won his first Nationwide Series NASCAR race: Dawsonville’s Chase Elliott wins first Nationwide race at Texas
Hometown hero Chase Elliott used a strong move on the outside to pass Kevin Harvick for the lead at Texas Motor Speedway and then sailed away his first career Nationwide Series victory.
The 18-year-old won in his sixth career start and is the second youngest winner in series history. He’s roughly four months older than Joey Logano, who was 18 years and 21 days when he won his first career Nationwide race in 2008.
Elliott won in a Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, driving the No. 9 as a tribute to his father, 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott.
“I can’t believe it, just to have the opportunity to race with these guys at JR Motorsports, just to have this opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any racer who wants to make it to the top,” Elliott said. “It just means the word for me to be here.”
Elliott became the fourth driver in Nationwide history to earn his first series victory at Texas, joining Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Trevor Bayne.
Chase is finishing his senior year of high school…my dad worked for Bill here in Banjoville when Chase was born…and it is a funny thing. See, Daddy put up the wallpaper in Chase’s nursery, and now look at what the kid has done!
On another personal note, hurray: UConn beats Florida 63-53 to make NCAA final. (I went to UConn for my Paralegal degree…)
And…one more, the title of this post is referring to the Housewife Bakery in Tampa, Florida.
When I was a little girl we would drive by this bakery every day except Sundays. It was on the way to my ballet studio…and the name of the place always pissed me off!
I would always complain, “Why would they call that Housewife bakery, how sexist!”
Ugh, it still rubs me the wrong way.
Okay on with the rest of the links.
News on MH370: Second pulse detected in hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines plane
A Chinese ship searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has detected a pulse signal for a second time, Australian co-ordinators say.
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston called the discovery in the southern Indian Ocean an “important and encouraging lead” but warned that there was no confirmation of a link to flight MH370.
He told reporters that the second signal was monitored for about 90 seconds and was detected less than 2 km (1.2 miles) from the original.
Update on a case in China where the school children were poisoned to death: Chinese kindergarten head sentenced to death for child poisoning | The Raw Story
A Chinese court has sentenced the head of a kindergarten and an accomplice to death for killing two children with poisoned yoghurt in northern China, state-run media reported Sunday.
Kindergarten head Shi Haixia poisoned the children last year in a revenge attack aimed at a rival school in Hebei province which had higher enrollment, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
A court in Hebei sentenced Shi and an accomplice to death, while another person was given a five-year jail sentence, the report said.
Two village girls died after their grandmother found the yoghurt, which was laced with rat poison and placed on a roadside along with several notebooks, state media reported earlier.
The children, whose ages were not given, were found “foaming at the mouth,” the report said. One died before reaching hospital while the other died after receiving treatment.
China has a shortage of state-run kindergartens, and competition between private profit-driven institutions can be intense.
And in another horrifying news story dealing with a young girl: Senegalese law bans raped 10-year-old from aborting twins | Global development | theguardian.com
A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant with twins after she was raped by a neighbour has been forced to continue with her pregnancy after human rights campaigners lost their fight to secure a legal route to abortion.
The plight of the girl, who is five months pregnant and lives in Ziguinchor in the south, highlights the heavy cost women and children are paying for a Napoleonic law on abortion that is still in force in the former French colony.
“She is going to have to go through with the pregnancy,” said Fatou Kiné Camara, president of the Senegalese women lawyers’ association. “The best we can do is keep up pressure on the authorities to ensure the girl gets regular scans and free medical care.
“Senegal‘s abortion law is one of the harshest and deadliest in Africa. A doctor or pharmacist found guilty of having a role in a termination faces being struck off. A woman found guilty of abortion can be jailed for up to 10 years.”
It is sickening.
But there is more disgusting shit…this time back here in the US: 6 suspended amid Missouri school rape allegations – Yahoo News
Months after vowing to boost security at a Kansas City school where a student says she was dragged to a room and raped, district officials have suspended six employees amid new allegations from a 14-year-old girl who alleges a boy repeatedly raped her at school.
The girl in the latest case, who the police report describes as autistic, told authorities the 14-year-old boy raped her “on numerous occasions” over the last month at Southwest Early College Campus while a 13-year-old girl stood in the hall as a lookout. The boy and the alleged lookout were charged Wednesday in juvenile court with one count each of rape and sodomy and ordered to remain detained Friday.
The school district began its own investigation after learning of the new allegations Wednesday. Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green said in a statement released Thursday the district has placed “a number” of school employees on administrative leave and that other personnel could be put on leave depending on the outcome of the district’s probe.
“Once the investigation is complete, a final decision will be made about whether they will continue as employees of KCPS or will be dismissed,” Green said in his statement.
Please read more of the details of all these stories at the links.
I am going to move on to more newsy reads for you after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 5, 2014 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Affordable Care Act, Air Force cheating scandal, billionaires, bison stampede, CIA enhanced interrogation program, David and Charles Koch, earthquakes, Gerald L. Chan, Harvard Square, health insurance, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., nuclear weapons, Obamacare, Senate Intelligence Committee, Torture, torture report, Yellowstone supervolcanoes
Panoramic view of Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
Recently Dakinikat wrote about how gentrification has affected her adopted hometown, New Orleans, since Katrina. Well this morning I read some surprising news about Harvard Square–a place I’m very attached to because I either lived nearby, worked, or hung out there for so many years. I’ve written about it before of course. I moved here from Indiana in 1967. It was the “Summer of Love,” and Harvard Square was the center of local hippie-dom, plus there were endless bookstores to feed my addiction to reading and possessing books.
So this morning I read in the The Boston Globe that Chinese billionaire Gerald L. Chan has been quietly buying up prime real estate in Harvard Square, and he now has “enough clout to influence the square’s look and character for years to come.” Harvard Square has already changed a great deal since the late 1960s, of course, so I don’t know why this should shock me. But the Square is still unique–a special place, with a traditional look and feel. What will happen to it now? From the Globe article:
First he grabbed an apartment and retail building in the heart of Harvard Square. Months later, he bought another apartment and retail complex on the other side of John F. Kennedy Street. Then came the deal for a building known as the American Express travel office, quickly followed by the purchase of apartments behind the Harvard Lampoon office.
Over the course of 18 months — and without calling attention to himself — billionaire businessman Gerald L. Chan spent about $120 million to amass an impressive portfolio of Harvard Square real estate that includes nearly a dozen properties….
“Take Harvard University out of the equation, and I don’t know of anyone who owns more real estate in Harvard Square than he does,” said Peter Bekarian, executive vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate firm in Boston.
Chan and his brother, Ronald, control the Hang Lung Group, a leading Hong Kong real estate development and management company that has made them billionaires. Forbes pegs their combined wealth at nearly $3 billion.
Chan is a Harvard graduate who now lives in Newton, MA. He says he loves the place and he’s just investing in “properties that have the potential to generate a good return.” He says he doesn’t have a plan to remake the Harvard Square area according to his own vision, but some local business people have expressed concern–and some have abruptly been put out of business. In their places, Chan has installed business owned by his children.
Some tenants in Chan’s newly acquired buildings, including local landmarks such as UpStairs on the Square and nearby Leo’s Place diner, did not have leases renewed and shut down earlier this year.
Chan paid $6.8 million for 93 Winthrop St., where he is replacing UpStairs on the Square with another restaurant, Parsnip. His daughter, Ashley Chan, is listed in corporate documents as one of the managers of the Morningside-controlled entity that operates the restaurant. UpStairs co-owner Mary-Catherine Deibel said, “It was time to wind down the business after 31 years.”
New restaurants — the Noodle Project and Night Market, a Japanese eatery — will replace Leo’s Place, a haunt of movie actor Ben Affleck, and Indian bistro Tamarind Bay, on JFK Street. Ash Chan, Gerald’s son, is operating both. He’s a West Coast restaurateur known here for Churn2, a Harvard Square stand that services liquid-nitrogen-chilled ice cream.
I guess we local peons will just have to wait and see what happens…
Speaking of billionaires, Brian Beutler has written a response to the views on the Affordable Care Act expressed by Charles Koch in his truly strange op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that I wrote about on Thursday. From Salon, Greediest family on earth: Proof Koch brothers have just one political principle.
David and Charles Koch
Beutler argues that the Kochs opposition to “Obamacare” is less about ideology than selfishness, greed, and desire for power.
Would you believe me if I told you that the Koch brothers actively participate in, and benefit from, a healthcare system in which the government subsidizes private insurance; carriers are prohibited from discriminating against the sick; the young cross-subsidize the old; and qualified beneficiaries who opt out suffer a big financial hit?
Well, they do. Not Obamacare, of course — they want to repeal that. But as employers, they can and do compensate their employees with tax-exempt health insurance benefits, their employees are all part of one risk pool, and everyone contributes the same amount for equal coverage….
despite the fact that employer-sponsored health insurance resembles Obamacare in many ways, the Koch network is not actively trying to repeal ERISA — the law that regulates employer-sponsored health plans — or to repeal the tax expenditure that allows them to advantageously provide the benefits they claim they’re working so hard to maintain.
So why do they so vehemently oppose the Obama health care plan?
To the Koch brothers, there’s apparently a big difference between government subsidizing and regulating health insurance for their employees and government subsidizing and regulating insurance for the self-employed, individuals whose employers don’t provide health benefits, and the unemployed.
This might seem strangely contradictory, unless you stop and consider what the existence of a universal right to health insurance coverage means for employers and the people who work for them. When the Congressional Budget Office updated its analysis of the Affordable Care Act’s labor market effects, it concluded that the existence of a coverage guarantee for all, and subsidies for many, would reduce employment by more than 2 million people over the coming decade. Opponents of the law pounced on this as proof that Obamacare would be a job killer, but for the most part what CBO actually meant was that Obamacare would shift the center of power between workers and employers a bit closer to the workers.
For some of those workers, that shift will mean the freedom to quit — hence the “job killing” canard. But for other workers — current and prospective — it will mean the freedom to ask for more money. All thanks to a program that’s financed largely by taxing people like Charles and David Koch. And I think therein lies the key to understanding why they’re devoting so much time and so many resources to destroying Obamacare.
That’s a very interesting argument, one I never thought about. Read the rest at the link.
At The Washington Post, the former head of the CIA interrogation program Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. defends the Bush policy on torture. I ran the CIA interrogation program. No matter what the Senate report says, I know it worked.
On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify and release hundreds of pages of its report on U.S. terrorist interrogation practices. Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIA’s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold. Unlike the committee’s staff, I don’t have to examine the program through a rearview mirror. I was responsible for administering it, and I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate al-Qaeda and save American lives.
Rodriguez says the committee never questioned him or other CIA leaders and they were not permitted to review the report. He says the committee began with conclusions about the program and simply looked for evidence to support those conclusions. On the “harsh” interrogation methods the CIA used, he writes that they were approved “the highest levels of the government,” were declared legal by the Justice Department, and were subject to Congressional oversight, and most of all they were effective.
When we captured high-ranking al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida in 2002, we knew he could help us track down other terrorists and might provide information to allow us to stop another attack. Those who suggest we should have questioned him more gently have never felt the burden of protecting innocent lives.
Second is effectiveness. I don’t know what the committee thinks it found in the files, but I know what I saw in real time: a program that provided critical information about the operations and leadership of al-Qaeda. Intelligence work is like doing a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box top and with millions of extra pieces. The committee staff started with the box top, the pieces in place, and pronounced the puzzle a snap.
Perhaps so, but Rodrigues seems to be ignoring the primary point about torture: it is immoral. Sometimes a civilized people must choose to accept some risks to safety in order to remain civilized. As for the government officials, Congressional committees, and the Bush Justice Department, they too should be subject to criticism and even prosecution. Unfortunately the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress took those options off the table.
There’s a new AP report (via the Christian Science Monitor) on the Air Force nuke team cheating scandal: Did report on nuclear Air Force overlook signs of trouble?
Service leaders took an assessment last year of the nuclear Air Force as an encouraging thumbs-up. Yet, in the months that followed, signs emerged that the nuclear missile corps was suffering from breakdowns in discipline, morale, training and leadership.
The former Air Force chief of staff who signed off on the 2013 report is now being asked to dig for root causes of problems that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says threaten to undermine public trust in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
The Air Force may have taken an overly rosy view of the report — it was not uniformly positive — by a Pentagon advisory group headed by retired Gen. Larry Welch. The study described the nuclear Air Force as “thoroughly professional, disciplined” and performing effectively.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, right, and Tech. Sgt. Justin Richie riding in a work cage at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.
It sure sounds like it.
The inquiry itself may have missed signs of the kinds of trouble documented in recent months in a series ofAssociated Press reports. In April 2013, the month the Welch report came out, an Air Force officer wrote that the nuclear missile unit at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., was suffering from “rot,” including lax attitudes and a poor performance by launch officers on a March 2013 inspection.
An exam-cheating scandal at a nuclear missile base prompted the Air Force to remove nine midlevel commanders and accept the resignation of the base’s top commander. Dozens of officers implicated in the cheating face disciplinary action, and some might be kicked out, the Air Force said last week.
Welch began the new Hagel-directed review in early March, teaming with retired Navy Adm. John C. Harvey, who was not involved in the earlier reviews but has extensive nuclear experience. Much rides on what they find, not least because Hagel and the White House want to remove any doubt about the safety and security of the U.S. arsenal and the men and women entrusted with it.
Lots more to read at the link.
A little science news . . .
Apparently, there have been some videos floating around of terrified bison stampeding out of Yellowstone Park. Since there was a small earthquake there recently, some people have been asking if these are signs the “supervolcano” is coming soon? From Discovery News:
Recent videos of animals fleeing Yellowstone Park have many tourists and local residents concerned that a volcanic eruption may be imminent.
After earthquakes and tsunamis, stories often circulate of animals acting strangely or seeming to know of the disaster long before humans. Animals that detect impending earthquakes don’t have more senses than humans; they just have much higher sensitivity. Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell, birds can migrate using celestial cues, and bats can locate food with echoes. Elephants can detect faint vibrations and tremors from fantastic distances.
It’s not some unexplainable gift: Animals may sense unusual vibrations or changes in air pressure coming from one direction that suggest they should move in the opposite direction.
If a herd of animals are seen fleeing before an earthquake, all that is needed is for one or two of them to skittishly sense danger; the rest will follow — not necessarily due to some supernatural earthquake-detecting sense, but simple herd instinct.
Bison on the road in Yellowstone
Scientists pooh pooh these paranoid fantasies. From The Week: Don’t Sweat the Supervolcanoes:
Scientists estimate that another mega-eruption — which would send billions of cubic meters of choking ash up to 15 miles in the air, blackening the skies and drastically changing the climate — could possibly occur in the next 100,000 years. Such an event would present a huge danger to human civilization — killing millions in the initial blast, and then disrupting agriculture, infrastructure, and the global economy for many years to come.
But although the recent earthquake was the strongest in the area since 1980, experts say there’s nothing to fear. So what signs would indicate the supervolcano is imminent? And what could be do about it anyway?
If we were moving toward a massive geological event, then we should see massive geological signs of change. We could expect large earthquakes as opposed to the small rumble we saw last week, which registered a humble 4.9 on the Richter scale. We should also see the earth around the volcano swelling by tens or hundreds of meters, as opposed to the centimeters of uplift we see regularly.
But for the sake of it, let’s assume Yellowstone will erupt tomorrow. Could we do anything about it? Although some scientists are experimenting with the idea, to date there have been no successful efforts to stop or reduce a volcanic eruption. These kinds of geological events remain stubbornly outside human control even on the smallest scale — and Yellowstone is absolutely the largest scale.
If Yellowstone blows in 10,000 or 50,000 years, maybe technology will have been developed to mitigate or contain its effects. But if it unexpectedly blows tomorrow, we can do nothing whatever to stop it. At best, with warning signs, we could conduct an evacuation from the surrounding area.
Read more at the link.
Those are the stories that caught my eye today? What’s on your mind? Please share your thoughts and links in the comments