I must be a political junkie because I certainly have the elections of fall 2014 on my mind. Democrats appear to be gaining some ground. I just can’t help but wonder how far right of bat shit crazy the Republican Party will go because it certainly seems that it’s gone far off the rails these days. It seems odd that the party whose roots came from the civil war and the fight to preserve the union while ending slavery has switched to the party of sedition and oppression.
The problem is that so many billionaire donors–in a system that favors billionaire donors–have made sure that only those willing to sell their souls to them will get money. It is also clear that only those pols that will sell their souls to the misogynistic, homophobic, religious crazies in this country will get the grass roots support.
How much more of this can the country take? Are the Republicans sounding a swan song or a death trumpet for our democracy? It is clear that the Republican Party has now established itself on a white identity that doesn’t even include all the white people in this country. Republicans are losing ground with Asians and Hispanics each election cycle. It isn’t because they don’t agree with some of their economic or even social positions. It’s the racism, the xenophobia, the religious exclusivity, the homophobia, the misogyny, the anti-science bent, and the general tendency to hate all things not white and male. Larry Bartels at the WaPo:
A working paper by Alexander Kuo, Neil Malhotra and (my Vanderbilt colleague) Cecilia Hyunjung Mo examines the basis of growing Democratic identification among Asian Americans. Among other analyses, they report the results of an experiment in which Asian American college students were randomly subjected to a seemingly incidental but carefully staged “microaggression”—having their U.S. citizenship questioned by the experimenter. This minor but socially charged interaction boosted Democratic partisanship by 13 percentage points, a remarkable shift. (The corresponding effect among white students was only three percentage points.)
Asian Americans who experienced the insensitive questioning were also “more likely to view Republicans generally as closed-minded and ignorant” and to express more negative feelings toward them — despite the fact that Republicans were never mentioned by the experimenter or connected to the microagression. Thus, the authors’ findings “suggest that Asian Americans associate feelings of social exclusion based on their ethnic background with the Republican Party.”
Those folks are not homogeneous in that they have the same interests, aspirations, or even religions. However, they all feel that there is a key demographic of white people that reject their claim to the identity of America and the American Dream. I can’t help but wonder if the rest of the country is watching those states run by republicans and wondering wtf is going on? Right now, in Baton Rouge, our legislature is debating making one particular version of the bible the state book and what to do with alcohol infused ice cream. Why just this week I learned that Phyliss Schlafly thinks all women should be glad that men make more money because it makes women head straight for the altar.
Now three days later, a prominent member of the Republican movement further undermined the party’s campaign to appeal to women voters by suggesting that the current pay gap isn’t wide enough. In an op-ed published by the Christian Post, Phyllis Schlafly — the founder of the Eagle Forum — maintained that increasing the pay gap will help women find suitable husbands:
Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don’t have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.
While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.
Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.
Obviously, I’m not saying women won’t date or marry a lower-earning men, only that they probably prefer not to. If a higher-earning man is not available, many women are more likely not to marry at all. [...]
The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap.
Schlafly has long been crusader for “traditional values” within conservative movement and the Republican party, serving as a member of the National GOP Platform Committee as recently as 2012 and as a delegate to the National Convention. Her Eagle Forum PAC has also donated thousands to prominent Republicans like Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Ted Cruz.
Then, I found out that nullification can work downwards as well as upwards if you want to improve the lives of working people. Big government is good as long as it’s used to stamp out the local efforts to improve people’s lives.
At a time when many states and cities are working at passing minimum wage increases, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has gone in the opposite direction and signed a law banning cities from passing higher wages. The bill also bans them from enacting paid sick days or vacation requirements.
The law will stymie the efforts of activists in Oklahoma City, where a labor federation has led the push on a petition to raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The state’s current minimum has been set at the federal level of $7.25. In 2012, 64,000 workers in the state earned $7.25 an hour or less, making up 7.2 percent of all hourly workers, a larger share than the 4.7 percent figure for the country as a whole.
Fallin said she signed the bill out of the worry that higher local minimum wages “would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers.” She also argued that “most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry level jobs” and that “many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle-class families.” She warned that increasing the minimum wage “would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers” and harm job creation.
But that’s not what the typical American minimum wage worker looks like. Nearly 90 percent of workers who would be impacted by an increase in the wage are older than 20, while the average age is 35. More than a quarter have children to support. More than half work full time, and 44 percent have at least some college education, while half a million minimum wage workers are college graduates.
Meanwhile, experts have analyzed state minimum wage increases over two decades and found that even at times of high unemployment, there is no clear evidence that the hikes affected job creation. Five other studies have come to the same conclusion. The same has held true for the city of San Francisco, where employment grew by more than 5 percent after it passed a higher minimum wage while nearby counties experienced declines.
Oklahoma is not the only state to pass a blanket ban on raising the wage. Wisconsin lawmakers recently considered doing the same, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R)signed a law that prevents local governments from requiring contractors to pay higher wages last year. According to Paul Sonn, general counsel and program director at the National Employment Law Project, a handful of mostly Republican-leaning states passed these kinds of bans about a decade ago, including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, and Texas. But the states that are the most likely to see campaigns to raise minimum wages are not the ones that are likely to pass similar bans, he told ThinkProgress.
What is it about abortion that gives it such political staying power? One obvious answer it is that for opponents it is an issue of life and death. For pro-choice women, it is a question of personal autonomy and bodily integrity.
Take a look at the history of the fight for women’s rights, as argued by the feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon. In her 1989 book, “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State,” MacKinnon wrote, “male dominance is perhaps the most pervasive and tenacious system of power in history.” The goal of the feminist project, she argued six years earlier, “is to uncover and claim as valid the experience of women, the major content of which is the devalidation of women’s experience.”
Lisa Tuttle, in the “Encyclopedia of Feminism,” described reproductive freedom “as a basic human right, it includes the right to abortion and birth control, but implies much more. To be realized, reproductive freedom must include not only woman’s right to choose childbirth, abortion, sterilization or birth control, but also her right to make those choices freely, without pressure from individual men, doctors, governmental or religious authorities. It is a key issue for women, since without it the other freedoms we appear to have, such as the right to education, jobs and equal pay, may prove illusory.”
These thoughts are by no means the opinions of women only. In an effort to explore the politics of abortion rights I contacted a disparate group of contemporary experts.
While none of these theorists could be categorized as politically correct – if anything, some have been accused of just the opposite — all see the anti-abortion movement as driven in part by the determined effort to control the reproductive rights of women.
Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, is no stranger tocriticism from feminists. In his book “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,” Pinker wrote: “Feminism as a movement for political and social equity is important, but feminism as an academic clique committed to eccentric doctrines about human nature is not. Eliminating discrimination against women is important, but believing that women and men are born with indistinguishable minds is not. Freedom of choice is important, but ensuring that women make up exactly 50 percent of all professions is not. And eliminating sexual assaults is important, but advancing the theory that rapists are doing their part in a vast male conspiracy is not.”
When I asked Pinker in an email about abortion, however, his response was very much in line with the thinking of feminist theorists.
Abortion may “touch on a characteristic male obsession: controlling the sexuality of women,” he said, noting that in most traditional societies “a woman’s male relatives, and then her husband, will try to control her sexuality in a variety of ways: veils, wigs, clothing, chaperones, segregation by sex, chastity belts, engagement rings, terms of address (‘Mrs. John Smith’), ceremonies (as when a father gives away the bride to her husband), and laws that make a woman the property of her husband.”
These efforts, Pinker said, are driven, in part, by fears of “paternity uncertainty”: “The ultimate evolutionary reason is presumably to guarantee paternity, since a cuckolded man is in the worst imaginable evolutionary scenario: investing in the child, and hence the genes, of a rival man.”
Along similar lines, John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who specializes in the study of how “biological variations mitigate the way in which individuals respond to politically relevant environmental occurrences,” argues that reproduction is both a core political issue and a core evolutionary issue.
Hibbing’s comment focused on themes consistent with Pinker’s: “Those most concerned with security and tradition tend to be politically conservative and those most open to new lifestyles and who are less focused on security will tend toward the political left. Issues of reproduction are likely to be at the core of the conflict between tradition and new lifestyles since these issues are about as basic as they come. Fundamentalism in some parts of the world is often driven by the desire of males to control reproductive opportunities. These issues form the evolutionary core.”
We have one of the two major political parties showing signs of radical extremism and elements that are truly dangerous, and yet, no one pays attention. I have written a lot about right wing terrorism and it grieves me to see that we saw yet another predictable incident in Kansas City. I can’t imagine what it feels for the folks who have been following this inside law enforcement and inside groups that truly fear these hate groups. If you didn’t see this bit from Rachel Maddow, you should. It sums up a lot of history that we’ve basically ignored since the 1980s. There are some really dangerous, violent white men out there.
In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security concluded a years-long study of right-wing extremism in the U.S. and released a report saying that ultraconservative white nationalists and other extremists pose a much greater threat to U.S. citizens than Islamic terrorists from overseas.
Conservatives like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh pitched a huge tantrum, accusing the Obama administration of staging an anti-conservative pogrom, even though the DHS study was commissioned by the Bush administration. In the end, the full study was never released, and the outcry forced DHS to divert resources away from U.S. extremists.
When authorities raided the apartment of deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, they found stacks of right-wing conspiracy theory newsletters, angry screeds against blacks, Jews and the New World Order.
“How weird is it to have Chechen-speaking Russian immigrant Muslim guys reading 9/11 ‘Truther’ conspiracies and ads for Nazi message boards while also espousing violent jihad and allegedly setting off bombs that killed Americans?” Maddow asked.
According to the New America Foundation, she said, since the 9/11 attacks, 21 people have been killed in the name of Islamic extremism in the U.S., whereas the number of people killed by right-wing extremists stands at 34 after the three deaths in Kansas.
Nevertheless, huge swaths of U.S. policy are dedicated to fighting Islamic terrorism abroad, “But when it comes to the proven and interconnected threat of the armed, American extreme right wing, we’re still treating every attack by them like a surprise, still treating those attackers like a lone wolf, regardless of however many letters you find between them,” regardless of the places where they talk to each other online, “regardless of the tide of evidence that these organizations exist and are operational.”
Why won’t the country at large acknowledge the real threat of right-wing extremism, she asked. “Should that change?”
There is a huge movement made up of angry, armed, white men that is threatening the health and safety of a huge number of people. They are not a majority of people and they are not a majority of white men. But, they are central to maintaining the power structure right now and can run amok in white male privilege and get away with a lot more than any one else would.
At the heart of this murderous continuum are race and xenophobia (a fear of others) and a violent reaction to those fears. To many in the dominant culture, their America is changing. The “browning” of America has evoked a return and acceptance of the murderous continuum. Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo best expressed this sentiment when he proclaimed: “I want my country back.”
Conceal Carry permits, Stand Your Ground laws and inept prosecutors are creating a climate that provides the Zimmermans and Dunns of the world with a license to kill as long as juries are predisposed to letting them do so.
As the American economy continues to contract and full-time, well-paying jobs become harder to find, the face of poverty in America is changing. The stereotypical “urban” or “black” poor have now become the “suburban” or white poor. According to CBS, “Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures . . . More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line . . . accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.”
According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Suburbs are increasingly becoming the address of America’s poor. Suburban poverty across the country grew 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, more than twice the rate of urban poverty . . . ” Many of those newly poor suburbanites are white and many of them are angry, blaming people of color for their misfortunes, instead of directing their ire toward corporate greed, the outsourcing of factory jobs to overseas companies, and governmental policies that favor the wealthy.
Local journalists covering Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s case stress he is no victim and is breaking the law, regardless of conservative media’s sympathy for his defiance of government orders to remove cattle from federal land.
Those reporters and editors — some who have been covering the case for 20 years — spoke with Media Mattersand said many of Bundy’s neighbors object to his failure to pay fees to have his cattle graze on the land near Mesquite, NV., when they pay similar fees themselves.
“We have interviewed neighbors and people in and around Mesquite and they have said that he is breaking the law,” said Chuck Meyer, news director at CBS’ KXNT Radio in Las Vegas. “When it comes to the matter of the law, Mr. Bundy is clearly wrong.”
Bundy’s case dates back to 1993, when he stopped paying the fees required of local ranchers who use the federally owned land for their cattle and other animals. Local editors say more than 85 percent of Nevada land is owned by the federal government.
Bundy stopped paying fees on some 100,000 acres of land in 1993 and has defied numerous court orders, claiming the land should be controlled by Nevada and that the federal government has no authority over it.
Last year a federal court ordered Bundy to remove his cattle or they would be confiscated to pay the more than $1 million in fees and fines he’s accumulated. The confiscation began earlier this month, but was halted because the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had “serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public” when armed militia showed up to block the takeover.
But for local journalists, many who have been reporting on him for decades, that image is very misguided.
“He clearly has captured national attention, among mostly conservative media who have portrayed him as a kind of a property rights, First Amendment, Second Amendment, range war kind of issue,” Meyer noted. “That’s how it has been framed, but the story goes back a lot longer and is pretty cut and dry as far as legal implications have been concerned.”
He added that, “Cliven Bundy and his supporters are engaged in a fight that has already been settled. There are a number of people around these parts who have strong reservations about Bundy’s actions.”
Las Vegas Sun Editorial Page Editor Matt Hufman said depicting Bundy as a victim is wrong.
In what is undoubtedly one of the worst stories I have read in years, Police in California actually had GPS trackers on two serial killers/rapists who went out then killed women while they were under surveillance.
Two parolees raped and killed four women while wearing GPS trackers, and there may be more victims, a California police chief said.
Registered sex offenders Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, were both wearing ankle bracelets when the female victims were assaulted and killed last fall and earlier this year, Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada said Monday at a news conference. The suspects were arrested on Friday and are each facing four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape, reportsCBS Los Angeles.
The naked body of Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, 21, was found March 14 on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim trash-sorting plant. Quezada said it was the key to breaking the case, according to CBS Los Angeles. The probe led detectives to connect the two suspects to her slaying, and the disappearance of three women – Josephine Vargas, 34; Kianna Jackson, 20; and Martha Anaya, 28 – who frequented a Santa Ana neighborhood known for drug dealing and prostitution.
The Orange County Register reports that Cano and Gordon were convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on children under 14 years old. As a requirement of the convictions, both were required to wear GPS tracking bracelets.
Authorities at the news conference did not explain how Cano and Gordon allegedly managed to carry out the killings while under GPS supervision, but Quezada said data from the devices “was one of the investigative tools we used to put the case together.”
Our country spends billions of dollars tracking foreign terrorists who practice what is a minority religion in this country, while domestic grown terrorists who follow the majority religion appear to get a pass. Not only do they get a pass, they get enabled by the likes of Schafly and other Republican Politicos and financed by John Birchers like the Koch Brothers who now have a hand picked Supreme Court.
I’m really getting tired of reading and writing about this stuff. Are there only a few of us that really see the connections here between the nullification efforts and the neoconfederate longings of folks like the Pauls and their droogies? Are there only a few of us that object to the racism, the homophobia, and the misogyny of these folks? It doesn’t seem so if you read polls and if you see the demographics. But, damn, getting rid of the entrenched group that benefits from all the damage they’ve done over the years is just getting more difficult all the time. I cannot wait to upload a Youtube of myself Dancing On Their GRAVES.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Well, what can I say?
My daughter is home from her bus ride from hell! I don’t know or care what is going on in the world outside of my little bubble here in Banjoville….
I am happy that my child is home safe, and that the rest of her friends are home too…that this post is all about dancing in the street!
Y’all post any links you want in the comments, this is an open thread.
One year ago today, this was the scene at the Boston Marathon finish line.
One year ago today, the finish line of the Boston Marathon was rocked by two explosions that left three young people dead and 260 people injured–many with with limbs blown off by the crude bombs. A year later, the survivors–and the city are still recovering. Last year I was listening to the radio when suddenly I realized something terrible had happened. I rushed to turn on the TV and try to figure out what was going on. It was a disaster. People were lying in the street bleeding along with separated body parts. What could have happened?
Just watching it on TV, I was so shaken that for the next week or so I was in shock. My hands shook, I was easily startled, and I felt an inner tremor that wouldn’t go away. I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like to be on the scene or to be one of the injured. But that wasn’t the end of it. Late at night on April 18, word came that a campus police officer had been shot at killed at M.I.T. and an SUV had been hijacked, presumably by the shooter or shooters. I stayed up all night listening to police scanners on line a following reports on Twitter. I knew immediately this must have something to do with the suspected bombers, whose photos had been released to the public earlier that day.
The suspects had driven through Brighton, Watertown, Waltham, and back to Cambridge. They had driven through Watertown three times–who knows why. I suspect they thought there was someone there who would help them hide from the police. One of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died that night after a dramatic firefight; but the other, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev somehow escaped in the stolen SUV. He wasn’t caught until the next day.
At some point the Governor asked people to “shelter in place” in much of Boston as well as Watertown and nearby suburbs. There’s a misconception that this was “martial law,” but there was no “order” for people to stay indoors, and many went out and were not arrested or anything. Still it was shocking. Even more shocking were the massive numbers of law enforcement officers in the streets of a residential neighborhood–knocking on doors and asking to search houses. At one point, hundreds of rounds were fired at a boat in a backyard where the second suspect was believed to be hiding. It was clear that the response by law enforcement was not particularly well organized.
Now, a year later there are still many questions about what happened, about the suspects, and the response by federal, state, and local law enforcement. I’ll spare you further details, but here are a couple of news links to anyone who cares to click on them.
Boston Globe: Marathon victims’ families, survivors gather in Boston
Jun Lu and Ling Meng felt they had to make the 7,000-mile trek from their home in China.
After losing their only child, Lingzi Lu, at last year’s Boston Marathon, they wanted to be at the race, cheering on runners.
“We cherish everything that Lingzi was a part of,” Jun Lu said through an interpreter. “Even though last year’s Marathon [was tragic], we want to be there to witness something good come out of it.”
Lu and Meng will be among the many family members of victims coming to Boston this week for official remembrances that are stirring up hope, but also pain.
Survivors, too, will make the trip for informal reunions with the EMTs and police officers who stanched their bleeding and the doctors and nurses who helped them heal.
On Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the bombings, Vice President Joe Biden will lead a ceremony at the Hynes Convention Center, followed by a flag-raising and a moment of silence at the finish line.
“The last year has been very painful,” said Lu, whose daughter, a 23-year-old graduate student at Boston University, is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery. “But fortunately, we’ve received so much love from people all over the world. We’re humbled.”
Boston Globe: A year since Marathon attacks, many of wounded struggle
A year later, shattered bones have knitted back together, burned skin has regrown, and the survivors who lost legs are walking on prosthetic limbs. What remains for many are the relentless injuries nobody sees.
While there have been remarkable stories of recovery and perseverance among the 275 wounded in the twin explosions on Marathon Day 2013, many still battle hearing loss, ringing ears, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.
One shakes so badly from anxiety that he has a hard time working as a carpenter. Another, college freshman Sydney Corcoran of Lowell, has developed an eating disorder. Corcoran has endured leg surgeries, complications, and more surgeries, but her emotional scars run deeper. She is often on edge, startles easily, and has trouble sleeping, symptoms of PTSD.
Her mother, Celeste Corcoran, was seriously injured in the blast, too, with legs so mangled both had to be amputated. “My legs were blown off and that’s huge,” she said. “But so many more people suffer in silence because everybody looks at them and sees this whole person.”
On a day for gauging how far they have come, many of the survivors are thankful for the progress they have made in the hands of skilled and caring doctors, nurses, and therapists. Still, some have nerve damage in their legs that has not healed, and the 16 people who lost legs have had to get their prosthetics adjusted repeatedly as their residual limbs shrink.
Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing that left three dead, wounded 264 runners and revelers, and began a bizarre manhunt for the attack’s perpetrators that would end in a shootout four days later.
President Barack Obama and his senior advisers scheduled a moment of silence in the Oval Office at 2:40 P.M., according to Politico. The attacks took place at 2:49 P.M. local Boston time….
Mental-health experts also told the Globe that anxiety is likely to affect children and other victims of the attack as the anniversary approached, and that such concerns affect not only those who witnessed the actual bombing but also those who endured the ensuing lockdown of much of the city.
I can vouch for that. I’m feeling very shaky this morning and I have that familiar fluttering tremor in the center of my chest and an anxious knot in my stomach. As for the questions:
An investigation by Vocativ into the alleged national-security failures that left the Tsarnaevs—who the F.B.I. had been told to look out for by Russian authorities—unaccounted for in the days before the attack revealed that the F.B.I. had indeed lost track of the eventual bombers. In an unclassified report, agents admit a “huge lapse” could have “changed everything.” Meanwhile, the A.C.L.U. has sued the F.B.I. for more information in the death of Ibragim Todashev, an alleged Tsarnaev associate who an F.B.I. agent shot and killed while he was allegedly confessing to he and Tamerlan’s involvement in a 2011 triple murder. A year after the marathon bombing, it seems as though questions of justice surrounding those accused of perpetrating the attack are far from answered.
In other news . . . one silly story and a link dump:
Do you remember Tom Lehrer? Back in the ’50s he wrote a sang darkly humorous satirical songs. A few days ago, Ben Smith had an interesting article about him at Buzzfeed, Looking For Tom Lehrer, Comedy’s Mysterious Genius. Here a bit of it:
Lehrer had been a sensation in the late 1950s, the era’s musical nerd god: a wryly confident Harvard-educated math prodigy who turned his bone-dry wit to satirical musical comedy. His sound looked further back, to Broadway of the ‘20s and ‘30s — a man and a piano, crisp and clever — but his lyrics were funny and sharp to the point of drawing blood, and sometimes appalling. One famous ditty celebrates an afternoon spent “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.”Another cheerful number, “So Long Mom,” dwells on the details of nuclear holocaust. “I Got It from Agnes” is an extended joke about sexually transmitted disease….
In the recent history of American music, there’s no figure parallel to Lehrer in his effortless ascent to fame, his trajectory into the heart of the culture — and then his quiet, amiable, inexplicable departure. During his golden decade, he appeared on The Tonight Show twice,drew a denunciation in Time magazine, and by the early 1960s, seemed poised for a lasting place on an American cultural scene that itself was undergoing a radical upheaval.
Then Lehrer simply stopped performing. His entire body of work topped out at 37 songs. He bounced around Cambridge, never quite finishing his doctorate on the concept of the mode — the most common number in a set — in statistics. He kept the Sparks Street house but began spending most of his time in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he became a beloved instructor in math and musical theater for some 40 years.
“There’s never been anyone like him,” said Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the legendary Broadway producer who created Tom Foolery, a musical revue of Lehrer’s songs, in the ’70s. “Of all famous songwriters, he’s probably the only one that, in the great sense of the word, is an amateur in that he never wanted to be professional. And yet the work he did is of the highest quality of any great songwriter.”
It turns out Lehrer is still alive at the age of 86. Buried deep in Smith’s article is a brief, off-hand mention that Lehrer once worked for the National Security Agency (NSA). It was while he was in the army from 1955-57. Calling Greenwald and Snowden! Time to demolish Lehrer for his perfidy! Amazing, it’s even in his Wikipedia entry–who knew? And he worked at Los Alamos before that.
From an interview with Lehrer I found; I don’t know the date:
>GEO: I was surprised to learn that you enlisted in the Army back in 1955.
TOM LEHRER: That’s one way of putting it, but probably not the appropriate verb. The point is that they were drafting people up to the age of 35. So I dodged the draft for as long as anybody was shooting at anybody. And then when I realized that I would have to go — there was really no way out of it except getting an essential full time job, which I didn’t really want to do — I waited until everything was calm and then surrendered to the draft board. I wouldn’t call it “enlist”. “Enlist” means that you have to spend another year. I allowed myself to be drafted. I was 27 at the time and there were a lot of graduate students who were like me who had gotten deferred as graduate students and now had to pay up. So it was a kind of an odd group there, a lot of educated people in my “outfit”, I believe is the word. And we had a lot of fun. So I did that for two years in Washington DC and had a great time — especially since there was no war — though vice president Nixon was trying to get us into one in Indo-China even then. So there was that little threat. And there was Suez and a few other little things that looked a little tricky. But it didn’t look like there was going to be a real war. So it seemed to be safe to go in. And I’m sure that a lot of my cohort felt the same way.
>GEO: And what did you do?
TOM LEHRER: It was NSA. I think I’m allowed to say that now. I asked around before I surrender [sic] to be sure that I would not be in special services or something playing volleyball with the troops in Korea. I wanted to make sure that I got a nice cushy job. We were called “The Chair Borned”. And I found out that they were hiring mathematicians. So I arranged to be hired.
A few more interesting stories:
So . . . What are you hearing and reading. Please share your recommended links in the comments.
We have another dreadful mass shooting. This time in a Kansas City suburb and with horrid anti-Semitic overtones. Three people are dead and one more is in critical condition. The shooter is one of those right wing racists who had been spewing right wing hate propaganda for an extensive period of time. He even has served time in jail. So, of course, he has easy access to guns because FREEDOM!!!
Three people died Sunday when a gunman opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center and a senior living facility in Johnson County.
Police arrested the suspected shooter, a man in his 70s with a beard, outside Valley Park Elementary nearby by 2:45 p.m. He smiled and reportedly made anti-Semitic statements as he was led away. Police said the man, who was not from Kansas, used a shotgun in the slayings at the Jewish Community Center. He also had a handgun when he was arrested.
“We are investigating it as a hate crime,” said Overland Park Police Chief, but investigators are not sure of the motive.
Media reports identified the gunman as Frasier Glenn Cross Jr., 73, of Aurora, Mo., a small town in Lawrence County, southwest of Springfield.
Public records show that Cross also uses the name Frasier Glenn Miller.
A dispatcher with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday night that officers were working with Johnson County authorities and the FBI. Another source close to the investigation acknowledged that Miller was the person of interest.
A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Frasier Glenn Miller said she did not know where he was, and then began to cry.
Miller has a long history of anti-Semitic and racist statements. In 2010, as a self-proclaimed write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri, Miller purchased or tried to purchase advertising time on several Missouri radio stations, including at least one in Kansas City. The ads bitterly denounced Jews, the federal government and African-Americans.
“We’ve sat back and allowed the Jews to take over our government, our banks and our media,” one radio commercial said.
The ads were considered so offensive that the Missouri Broadcasters Association asked for permission to ban their use. In June the FCC said Miller wasn’t a bona fide candidate, and the ads need not be aired.
Two of the victims Sunday were 14-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood and his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, who attended the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.
Max Blumenthal–along with others–has been researching Miller’s background. Miller is a well-known white supremist . “Miller’s goal was ‘southern independence. The creation of an all-white nation within…mother Dixie’”
The White Patriot Party (WPP) was a paramilitary, Christian Identity faction of the Ku Klux Klan founded by Glenn Miller in 1980. WPP was extremely racist: they supported apartheid, and set up hotlines featuring telephone recordings of a black man being lynched. WPP won considerable support in North Carolina by blaming the bad economic climate for farmers on international Jewish bankers. Some estimates put the WPP’s peak membership at 3000. Miller’s goal was “southern independence. The creation of an all-white nation within the one million square miles of mother Dixie. We have no hope for Jew York City or San Fran-sissy-co and other areas that are dominated by Jews, perverts, and communists and non-white minorities and rectum-loving queers.” (Miller, quoted in Ridgeway, 119)
The Order gave some of the $3.6 million they stole to Miller and the WPP. Miller was subpoenaed to testify at The Order trial because Order member Bruce Pierce said that Miller received $300,000 from the Order. Miller testified that he had received $200,000.
He has been on the watch list of Southern Poverty Law Center for some time. He is a former KKK Grand Dragon from the Carolinas and has published an extensive amount of hate material. He hates women, any one that’s not white, and believes in every Jewish conspiracy theory Hitler and his droogies ever invented.
Frazier Glenn Miller, who went by Glenn Miller, is the former “grand dragon” of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which he founded and ran in the 1980s before being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and using intimidation tactics against African Americans. After subsequently forming another Klan group, the White Patriot Party, he was found in criminal contempt and sentenced to six months in prison for violating the court settlement. He went underground while his conviction was under appeal but was caught by the FBI with a weapons cache in Missouri. He served three years in federal prison after being indicted on weapons charges and for plotting robberies and the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees. As part of a plea bargain, testified against other Klan leaders in a 1988 sedition trial.
In 1986, Miller was convicted on a federal contempt of court charge after violating the terms of a consent order that settled a lawsuit filed against him and his Klan group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was sentenced to a year in prison, with six months suspended. However, he disappeared while out on bond awaiting an appeal and was later caught in Missouri along with four other Klansmen and a cache of weapons.
In 1987, he pleaded guilty to a weapons charge and to mailing a threat through the mail. He had been indicted along with four other white supremacists for conspiring to acquire stolen military weapons, and for planning robberies and the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees. In an agreement with federal prosecutors, he received a five-year prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against 14 white supremacist leaders in a sedition trial. He served three years of that sentence.
In His Own Words:
“White men have become the biggest cowards ever to walk the earth. The world has never witnessed such yellow cowards. We’ve sat back and allowed the Jews to take over our government, our banks, and our media. We’ve allowed tens of millions of mud people to invade our country, steal our jobs and our women, and destroy our children’s futures. America is no longer ours. America belongs to the Jews who rule it and to the mud people who multiply in it.”
– U.S. Senate radio ad, 2010
“Today, true statistics be told, we’re less than half. And we’re dropping fast, while the dark peoples multiply like rats all around us, and as more tens-of-millions of them invade our country from all over the world. Our race is drowning literally in seas of colored mongrels. Our people buy almost twice as many caskets as cradles. Your race is dying before your eyes.”
– “Attention White Youth!” Miller’s website, March 12, 2010
“That’s a sad commentary for our politicians in Washington. They’re all a bunch of whores for Israel. They’re all corrupted to the core. And they are traitors to America.”
– Interview with Howard Stern, April 6, 2010
“Woman have always chosen cowardice and slavery over war and violence for the obvious reason they’re the weaker sex. And they have responded to White male cowardice in the only way they could. They kiss up to every male but White ones.”
– “Cowardice is the White Man’s Survival Strategy!” Miller’s website
“Our forefathers were absolutely right to be racists and to discriminate in favor of themselves. That racism and discrimination insured racial security, prosperity, and racial survival and procreation. ZOG and the Jews-media tricked us and shamed us out of our racism shame that has weakened us and divided us as a people, therefore cowards, unwilling to resist Jewish enslavement and genocide.”
– “Cowardice is the White Man’s Survival Strategy!” Miller’s website
President and Michelle Obama have sent their condolences to the families of the victims. The murders are being investigated as hate crimes. I’d like to say we’ll hear more about the need to register and restrict gun ownership but I know that conversation will go no where outside of most of the population of the United States.
Right wing meme enabler Sharly Attkisson is embarrassing herself once again. What a better place to make an ass of oneself than on Fox News?
Sharyl Attkisson, an investigative reporter who recently resigned from her post at CBS News, took shots at both her former employer and the Obama administration on Media Buzz Sunday morning, accusing CBS News of being too compliant with the White House, and the White House of overtly trying to stifle reporting.
“I didn’t run into that same kind of sentiment [at CBS] as I did in the Obama administration when I covered the Bush administration very aggressively,” Attkisson said, adding that when CBS has a problem with a story, “It never runs. Or it dies the death of a thousand cuts, as some of us say. If it’s something they don’t want it will be changed and revised and shortened and altered so much that it’s a shadow of its former self if it does air.”
Attkisson distinguished herself through continued reporting on various Obama administration issues, from Fast and Furious to0, especially, Benghazi. She called the White House efforts to influence reporting a more intense version of what she encountered under previous administrations:
Now there’ve always been tensions, there have always been calls from the White House under any administration I assume, when they don’t like a particular story. But it is particularly aggressive under the Obama administration and I think it’s a campaign that’s very well organized, that’s designed to have sort of a chilling effect and to some degree has been somewhat successful in getting broadcast producers who don’t really want to deal with the headache of it — why put on these controversial stories that we’re going to have to fight people on, when we can fill the broadcast with other perfectly decent stories that don’t ruffle the same feathers?
Attkisson said that efforts to paint her as a conservative journalist was “part of a strategy or campaign from people who don’t like what you’re doing.”
It’s good for a laugh at least.
I really did try to warn you that the news wasn’t pretty today! Anyway, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The blossoms reached peak Thursday and should still be putting on a good show this weekend. Because of the variability of weather, they aren’t always this near peak at parade time.
The parade proceeds west along Constitution Avenue from Seventh to 17th streets.
Further south, in Augusta GA, the azaleas are in full bloom just in time for the Masters Tournament, which is going into its third day despite the loss of Tiger Woods to back surgery this year and Phil Mickelson’s failure to make the cut. Left-hander Bubba Watson was leading the pack by 3 strokes as of last night.
From the Augusta Chronicle: Bubba Watson storms to 3-stroke lead.
Bubba Watson never led during the first three rounds of the 2012 Masters Tournament but rallied on the final day and won in sudden death. The former Georgia Bulldog is on top now, halfway through the 78th Masters, with some breathing room.
Watson, 35, ripped apart the second nine at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday with five consecutive birdies en route to 4-under-par 68 – which included bogey on No. 18 – to build a three-shot lead over John Senden, of Australia. It matched the largest 36-hole lead since 2006.
Senden, who qualified for the Masters on March 16, when he won the Valspar Championship, also had a second-round 68 and is alone in second place.
Australian and defending champion Adam Scott made a spirited comeback to stay within shouting distance of Watson. Scott, who opened with 69, was 3-over after five holes Friday but played his final seven in 3-under, finishing with 72, tied for third place, four behind Watson.
Tiger’s absence has hit ESPN hard: ESPN’s Masters ratings plummet without Tiger Woods.
There was a feeling around the Masters that the absence of Tiger Woods might not hurt as much as expected. With Tiger having ceded some of the spotlight to younger golfers in recent years, the sport was healthy enough to survive without him in Augusta.
Television viewers apparently had a different opinion.
ESPN’s first-round telecast was down 800,000 viewers from last year to a record low of 2 million. That’s the lowest Thursday viewership in the seven years the network has been broadcasting the Masters.
Okay, I know it’s unlikely that anyone else here cares about professional golf; I just wanted an excuse to post some pretty photos of spring flowers.
Up here in southern New England we’re just beginning to see a little yellow showing up on the forsythia bushes, but it’s going to be warm for the next few days, and soon Arnold Arboretum will showing off acres of yellow blossoms like those in the photo to the right. And it won’t be long before our cherry trees and azaleas are in bloom too!
Spring has sprung!
Can you tell I’m trying to avoid the news?
In a little over a week, Boston will host its big spring event, the Boston Marathon, and between now and then we’ll be hearing endless talk about what happened here last year.
I’d like to avoid all the coverage, but I’ve decided instead to try to pay close attention to the coverage in corporate and alternative media and notice how the powers that be attempt to shape the narrative of last year’s dramatic events as well as the public process of dealing with them.
Yesterday, Boston NPR station WBUR had a very good discussion of Unanswered Questions Around The Marathon Bombing on the local program Radio Boston. It’s worth a listen.
I was quite surprised that one of the participants, Janet Reitman of Rolling Stone Magazine brought up the fact that nearly every breaking story on the events of last year came from CBS’ John Miller, who was obviously the designated target for FBI leaks. And Reitman was actually permitted to discuss this issue at some length.
Miller began working for CBS in 2011; before that he worked for the Federal Government as “Associate Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Transformation and Technology”; and before that he was “Assistant Director for Public Affairs for the FBI.”
Currently he is working with his old friend Bill Bratton as “Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence” for the NYPD. Is this guy a journalist or is he a tool of law enforcement? He did work for ABC News in the 1990s. As such, he got an interview with Osama bin Laden in 1998. I wonder how that happened?
Here’s a piece about Miller in Men’s Journal from March 2013–shortly before last year’s Boston Marathon.
John Miller’s office at CBS News is filled with keepsakes from his two lives as top cop and leading reporter: badges from his tours with the New York and Los Angeles police departments; a photograph from his 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan; his FBI badge and ID; even an LAPD Beach Patrol cap. (“The one job I never got,” Miller jokes.) “When I was covering the cops, I wasn’t one of those guys who showed up to work everyday saying ‘I’ve gotta find the scandal in the police department,’” says Miller. “And when I was with the police department, I didn’t hate the press for doing its job, either. Which I think has made it easier to toggle back and forth.”
But is avoiding anti-cop stories really the best attitude for a “journalist?” And how can such a journalist be expected to critically analyze leaks handed to him by law enforcement sources? I think the answers to those questions are obvious. And yet Miller basically shaped the news narrative on last year’s Boston Marathon bombings.
Last night NBC aired an hour-long program on the Boston attack: 108 Hours: Inside the Hunt for the Boston Marathon Bombers, hosted by Brian Williams. It was interesting for me to watch the video of the events that took place in Watertown as police hunted for the accused bombers; but of course no hard questions were asked. Everything law enforcement officials had to say was taken at face value.
One tidbit I learned was that President Obama had been on the phone with Governor Patrick during the lockdown of much of the city, and Obama had expressed concerns about the notion of government officials shutting down a major American city. I found that fascinating considering that critics on both the left and right have portrayed Obama as a tyrant who was probably in control of those kinds of decisions.
The news event that I’ve really been avoiding is the deadly bus accident in California.
I find it so painful to read or hear about children being hurt that I generally avoid such stories, but today I feel I have to cover the terrible bus crash in California. You may recall that we had a terrible bus accident in Boston just about a year ago. In fact there have been bus crashes all over the country. What’s going on?
Despite new regulations mandating seat belts on recently built tour buses, passengers are still losing their lives in crashes.
A crash Thursday in Northern California killed 10 people and injured 34 when a tour bus carrying Los Angeles-area students collided with a FedEx truck. Eerily, the crash occurred almost exactly one year from the date of a tour bus crash in Irving that killed three people and injured dozens of senior citizens.
The history of serious crashes involving tour buses or motor coaches stretches back into the 1950s and highlights a pattern of danger that federal regulations have just begun to attempt to mitigate.
Congress wrapped bus safety improvements, including a provision for seat belts in recently built tour buses, into a larger transportation bill which was signed into law in 2012. Those regulations, however, only apply to buses produced in 2007 or later. The regulations do not order buses built before 2007 to be retrofit with safety belts.
The industry opposes requiring that existing buses be retrofitted with seat belts saying the seats are not designed for them and may not be strong enough to withstand the repeated pulling of straps. Retrofitting is also more expensive than adding belts to new buses.
Read more at the link. The story references numerous other articles about bus accidents.
Reuters on the latest incident: Investigators focus on cause of deadly California crash
Investigators were focusing on Saturday on what caused a FedEx tractor-trailer to collide with a bus in a fiery crash in northern California that killed 10 people, five of them teenage students en route to a college recruitment event.
It remained unclear whether the FedEx driver was somehow distracted or lost consciousness, or whether a mechanical failure occurred when his truck swerved across the median of Interstate 5 and slammed head-on into the motor coach full of students from the Los Angeles area on Thursday.
The California Highway Patrol also raised the possibility that a separate collision on the truck’s side of the highway might have been a factor in Thursday evening’s fatal crash.
According to early highway patrol accounts of the accident, the truck side-swiped a car after crossing the center divider but before hitting the bus. Two witnesses, Bonnie and Joe Duran, who were reported to be in the clipped car, told California media outlets that the truck was on fire before the collision. “I was heading along in the outside lane and I looked over and saw the FedEx truck coming straight for me and he was in flames already,” Bonnie Duran told a local CBS-affiliate.
More at the link.
I have a few more interesting reads for you today that I’ll just list briefly.
I highly recommend reading this op-ed at the WaPo by former SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens: The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment. It’s an excerpt from his new book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.
See also Scott Lemieux’s review of Stevens’ book at The American Prospect: How John Paul Stevens Would Amend the Constitution.
Here’s a brief but encouraging story by WBUR (NPR) about the three women running for governor of three New England states: Women’s Groups Target New England Gubernatorial Races.
I really liked this thoughtful post about the internet, privacy, and the NSA leak story at Haft of the Spear blog: You Were Promised Neither Security Nor Privacy.
Don’t miss this troubling story at the WaPo: Inside the FBI’s secret relationship with the military’s special operations. Can we all agree that the FBI (and CIA) are a lot scarier than NSA metadata storage?
Those are my offerings for today. What stories have you been following? Please share your links in the comment thread and have a nice Spring weekend!
Have you heard the latest crazy ass ridiculous scheme going on the voter disenfranchised movement?
I think the best way to bring it to you tonight is to give it to ya via List of X:
If you thought voting was hard, especially in places like Florida where during the 2012 election many voters had to wait in line for several hours, then Florida’s most populous county Miami-Dade just made it even harder. In future elections, voters standing in lines will not be allowed to use the polling place’s bathrooms while waiting for their turn to perform their civil duty. (Yes, I said “duty”.) Here are 10 reasons why Miami-Dade county has banned voters from using the restrooms.
That list is great, which goes hand in hand with this one: 10 Reactions To Supreme Court Decision on Campaign Finance | List of X
Alright, now for the cartoons.
I always love the way the following cartoonist draws his figures: WINDFARM BUFFER ZONES FOR SCOTLAND AGAINST SPIN by Political Cartoonist Iain Green
Innit that fat cat awesome?
This is an open thread…