I just found out that JJ isn’t feeling well enough to do a post this morning, so I’m filling in. I have things to do this afternoon, so this will have to be a very quick link dump.
Personally, I have Spring Fever! It has been sunny and not so cold here for the past few days and I’m loving it. We still have piles of snow, but they are shrinking steadily. I think March is going to go out with like lamb here in Boston. AND . . . soon it will be staying light here until almost 7PM. Isn’t Spring great?
Latest Ted Cruz Reactions
The Week: Ted Cruz isn’t really running for president.
Ted Cruz is running for president. Or at least that’s officially what’s happening, according to his FEC filings. But if you actually listen to him, it seems like he is running for something else.
Cruz’s announcement speech at Liberty University was less like a first step toward the Oval Office, than the latest of many steps he has taken to becoming the political leader of the conservative movement. This is distinct from being the nominee of the Grand Old Party, of which that movement is just a devoted part.
There is nothing about Cruz that appeals to people beyond his political sect. The one rhetorical move independents and Democrats may relate to in Cruz’s speech was the tribute to his mother as a glass ceiling–smashing computer programmer. But otherwise his mode of speech is much like Mike Huckabee’s: sentimental, broadly evangelical, and reliant on personal charisma. Although it isn’t easy to pinpoint what about a candidate’s personality rubs a larger demographic cohort the wrong way, Huckabeefared terribly among non-rural, non-Evangelical voters in 2008. Cruz may be headed for the same fate.
Consider Cruz’s overt sense of personal destiny. He makes Mitt Romney seem positively shy. Cruz’s speech implicitly compared Ted Cruz to Patrick Henry, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.
“I may owe Mitt Romney an apology,” Jon Stewart said on Monday’s “Daily Show,” after learning that Cruz and his wife actually practiced waving and kissing before the announcement. “Even the Mitt Romneytron 3000 didn’t have to rehearse waving and kissing,” he continued.
If you were wondering why so many of the students in the audience looked bored out of their minds (and why one girl was even wearing a Rand t-shirt): It’s because the conservative Christian university required students to attend the Ted Cruz announcement as part of their weekly convocation. No word on whether the university also required students to text “constitution” to an undisclosed number, as per Cruz’s orders.
“Let me clarify this a little bit: Students at Liberty University were required to attend a partisan political speech where a small-government conservative who had just promised he would respect privacy rights, told them if they cared about freedom, text your information to a mysterious address that collects your cell phone number for undisclosed purposes,” Stewart said.
More good stuff in the video (see link). Can you believe Cruz and his wife practiced kissing before the event?
Washington Post: Ted Cruz’s phenomenally bad idea.
Sen. Ted Cruz says he wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service. This is a phenomenally bad idea, one so obviously wrongheaded it’s hard to believe he really means it….
This is not the first time Cruz has proposed this. He pitched it on Facebooktwo years ago and in multiple interviews since, even calling it the “single most important tax reform” and priority “No. 2” (after repealing Obamacare) in recent talks. The fact that he might make ending the IRS a centerpiece of a presidential campaign, though, is singularly scary, particularly given Republicans’ demonstrated appetite for cutting the agency’s funding to the bone and beyond….
Well, sorry to say it, but someone has to collect the money that keeps our government up and running, funding everything from Medicare to the military. The IRS is a cash-flow-positive agency, collecting an estimated$255 for every $1 appropriated to it, and dumping it would vastly widen existing government deficits. This is something fiscal conservatives, Cruz included, presumably already know. Yet the view that the IRS’s budget should be minimized, and perhaps zeroed out entirely, is peculiarly popular on the right.
Read more at the WaPo.
Some satire from Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker: President Signs Order Making Ted Cruz Ineligible for Obamacare.
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Just hours after Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN that he had no choice but to sign up for Obamacare, President Barack Obama signed an executive order making Cruz ineligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
“Clearly, the hardship of receiving Obamacare was causing Ted a great deal of pain,” the President said. “This should take care of that.”
Obama acknowledged that the executive order, which makes Cruz the only American expressly forbidden from signing up for Obamacare, was an extraordinary measure, but added, “I felt it was a necessary humanitarian gesture to protect Ted from the law he hates.”
Germanwings Plane Crash
New York Times: Details Emerging of Passengers Aboard Crashed Germanwings Jet.
According to the airline, at least 67 Germans, including two infants, were on the Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday on its way to Düsseldorf,Germany, from Barcelona, Spain. Many Spaniards were also aboard. The passengers included two opera singers, as well as a class of 16 German high school students returning from a study program near Barcelona, along with their two teachers.
Germanwings was working to notify families before releasing further information about the 144 passengers and six crew members who were on the plane. But some countries whose citizens were aboard began to confirm their identities, and details also emerged from other sources.
Also from the Times: Challenges Weigh Heavily on Recovery Efforts in Crash of Germanwings Jet.
Read all about it at the paper of record.
Iran and Israel News
Jerusalem Post: US Democrats say Israel’s efforts on Iran are backfiring.
Following months of intensified calls by Israel to block any deals with Iran, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress, members of the US senate say that theiropinions on a nuclear deal with Iran have not budged.
Read the responses from Senators at the link.
Speaker John Boehner said he was “shocked” by a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday morning that said the Israelis were spying on negotiations by the U.S. and other world powers to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.
“I read that story this morning, and frankly, I was a bit shocked because there’s no information revealed to me whatsoever,” Boehner, a Republican from Ohio told reporters Tuesday morning. He added, “I was shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the Israelis to members of Congress. I’m not aware of that at all.”
He probably had a few too many before the meeting at which the leaks were discussed.
If all goes according to plan, U.S. officials will return home from here next week declaring they have reached a historic agreement that will restrict Iran’s nuclear program forever.
Iranian officials will be in Tehran triumphantly explaining that they have secured a deal that will free Iran in a few years to pursue its nuclear program just like any other country.
Major international agreements usually require both sides to acknowledge they’ve given ground. Because of the brutal politics of the nuclear issue, however, neither side has much room to acknowledge compromise.
As a result, over the next few months, U.S. and Iranian officials are likely to be making starkly contradictory cases about the deal they have reached, both seeking to sell it at home.
Inside windowless negotiating rooms here, “we can talk about looking for a middle ground,” said a European diplomat said, who declined to be identified discussing the sensitive negotiations.
“Outside in the light, it’s harder.”
GOP Clown Car
Aren’t GOP presidential politics just great? You wake up one morning and suddenly Jeb Bush is the “anti-Israel candidate” in the Republican presidential primary field.How did this happen? Last we checked, Jeb Bush loved the dickens out of Israel. He’s been very clear about his deep affection for any and everything that (the right wing of) Israel does. “Governor Bush’s support for Israel and its Prime Minister is clear,” Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy Campbell said Monday night. This is perfectly in line with his support for the dumb Tom Cotton letter, and his insistence that the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran is “bad” and should be rejected because Israel. Et cetera et cetera, SO ON, AND SO ON. Jeb Bush has no interest in straying from the prevailing party line on Israel, which is that American foreign policy should be conducted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But why, pray tell, was Kristy Campbell issuing this reassurance of Jeb Bush’s deep, unwavering, total love for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel late on a Monday night? Because James Baker, the former White House chief of staff, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of State under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., had just addressed the annual J Street conference.
J Street is the advocacy group founded as a more liberal counterpart to AIPAC. It is critical of the Israeli right wing and does not see it as helping the prospects for peace in the Middle East. So naturally conservatives see J Street as a radical extremist left-wing terrorist organization in bed with the mullahs of Iran and hellbent on securing the total annihilation of Israel. (The views of American Jews at large, meanwhile, tend to align with J Street’s.)
Fascinating. I actually don’t think Jeb has a serious chance for the nomination. For one thing, he has zero charisma. He comes across as stuffy and boring.
“Have you ever fibbed on the air?” Letterman asked the Factor host.
“Fibbed? Not that I know of,” O’Reilly responded. “What I do is analysis — different from what other people do. So I bioviate and give my opinion, as you well know. But it’s not worth it for me to do that.”
Letterman countered that there was a common factor linking O’Reilly’s editorializing and NBC’s Brian Williams’ position as a network anchor.
“Trust is the residue of both positions,” the Late Showhost said. “People must trust you to the same degree. They might disagree with you, but they must trust you, the same way they trust Brian Williams.”
Fibbed? No, but he’s told hundreds of bald faced lies; and Fox viewers trust him because they can’t tell the difference between reality and propaganda.
Sarah Palin is using recent scandals to apparently push for the dismantling of the Veterans Administration.
The federal agency has been rocked in recent months by scandals – including the deaths of at least 40 veterans awaiting care at facilities in Arizona — that resulted in a shakeup of its top leadership.
New VA Secretary Robert McDonald was recently forced to apologize after misstating his military service record while speaking to a veteran during a photo opportunity, which Palin said called his character into question.
Palin cited these and other incidents in a Facebook video posted Tuesday evening as justification to “clean house” at the VA and “fire bad employees like we do out in the private sector.”
“It’s time to reform the VA so thoroughly that vets don’t have to depend on it for their basic needs,” Palin said.
That’s about as good an idea as Ted Cruz’s proposal to abolish the IRS.
So . . . . What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your early Spring Wednesday.
Get your barf bags ready before you read the new “interview” with George Zimmerman. I put that word in quotes, because the so-called “interview” was with Zimmerman’s divorce lawyer Howard Iken, not an objective journalist who might have asked uncomfortable questions. I couldn’t bring myself to read the whole thing, but you can do so at the Ayo and Iken website. You can also watch the video if you can stomach it. I did read a couple of press reports:
The Orlando Sentinel reported, George Zimmerman: President Obama amped up racial tension against me.
In his first public comments since the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute him for violating Trayvon Martin‘s civil rights, George Zimmerman says he was victimized by President Obama….
In it, he faulted the media for portraying him as a racist and the criminal justice system for bringing him to trial but saved his harshest criticism for Obama, whom he accused of trying to prosecute “an innocent American.”
“For him to make incendiary comments as he did and direct the Department of Justice to pursue a baseless prosecution, he by far over-stretched, over-reached,” Zimmerman said.
The president, whom he referred to as “Barack Hussein Obama,” should have told the public, ” ‘Let’s not rush to judgment,’ ” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman told his attorney that he doesn’t feel guilty about killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed and walking to his father’s home after buying skittles and iced tea at a local convenience store.
He said he’s convinced there’s nothing he could have done differently that would have allowed both him and Trayvon to survive their confrontation that night.
“In all fairness, you cannot as a human feel guilty for living, for surviving,” he said.
Talking Points Memo: George Zimmerman Compares Himself To Anne Frank, Says Obama Victimized Him.
“I believe that God does everything for a purpose, and he had his plans and for me to second guess them would be hypocritical and almost blasphemous,” Zimmerman said. “Had I have had a fraction of a thought that I could have done something differently, acted differently so that both of us would’ve survived then I would have heavier weight on my shoulders.”
His lawyer, Howard Iken, asked him whether he was the same man he was five years ago.
“Absolutely not,” Zimmerman said. “I have to have my guard up significantly. … I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”
Apparently “God” actually wanted Trayvon dead and Zimmerman just happened to be the medium for “God’s” handiwork. Because, you know, “God” is a racist who hates black teenagers….
Don’t put away that barf bag just yet. The next topic is Ted Cruz’ announcement yesterday that he’s running for president. Cruz made the big announcement at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Jerry Falwell. You can read the full transcript at Time Magazine. Cruze praised the “christian” college profusely, but please note that Cruz himself chose to get his education at Princeton and Harvard.
Cruz led off the speech with a lengthy and sentimental description of his and his wife’s family history. Then he launched into his dream for the future of America.
I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America: 240 years ago on this very day, a 38-year-old lawyer named Patrick Henry stood up just a hundred miles from here in Richmond, Virginia, and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison “we demand our liberty.”
Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.
Today millions of young people are scared, worried about the future, worried about what the future will hold. Imagine millions of young people coming together and standing together, saying “we will stand for liberty.”
That’s not too specific, but I’m pretty sure that by “liberty” Cruz means taking away freedom of choice from women, taking away health care from millions of Americans, blocking immigration reform, and increasing income inequality through tax cuts and removal of government regulations that protect the environment and the health and safety of workers.
Cruz went on to provide some specifics:
Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law. Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law. Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.
Imagine health care reform that keeps government out of the way between you and your doctor and that makes health insurance personal and portable and affordable.
Yes, you’ll just have to imagine that, because you won’t get it with a Republican president.
Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends met, imagine a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.
Imagine abolishing the IRS.
So taxes would get paid on the honor system? And with a flat tax, the burden would fall mostly on lower wage earners. Again, it’s about “freedom” for the rich and the rest of us can pay for it.
Women and LGBT people can forget about their freedom under a Ted Cruz presidency.
Instead of a federal government that wages an assault on our religious liberty, that goes after Hobby Lobby, that goes after the Little Sisters of the Poor, that goes after Liberty University, imagine a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American.
Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.
There’s much more of Cruz’s “freedom” talk at the link.
Some reactions to the speech:
Think Progress: Ted Cruz Just Laid Out The Most Anti-Woman Agenda Yet.
FactCheck.org: FactChecking Ted Cruz
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to be getting close to announcing her own run for president. Yesterday she had a private meeting with President Obama.
From Politico: Hillary Clinton meets Barack Obama at the White House.
Clinton was in Washington for an event about the future of urban policy hosted by the Center for American Progress in the morning and the presentation of the Toner Award at a dinner in the evening.
In between, the all-but-declared Democratic presidential candidate swung by to see her old boss in the building she’s hoping to move into.
The White House wouldn’t comment about whether a meeting was going to happen earlier in the day, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed afterward that it had happened — though he provided few details.
“President Obama and Secretary Clinton enjoy catching up in person when their schedules permit,” Earnest said. “This afternoon they met privately for about an hour at the White House and discussed a range of topics.”
I wonder if they talked about Clinton’s announcement and what Obama would do to back her up?
Also at Politico, Gabriel DeBenedetti wrote that Clinton and other Democrats are thrilled that Ted Cruz will be running for the GOP nomination.
Democrats from both inside and outside the Clinton camp have groused for months that the all-but-certain candidate was moving too slowly in formulating and projecting a rationale for running for the White House outside of her gender and the dreaded “it’s my time” argument. She was relying too much on a platform of inevitability, they said — the same platform that doomed her bid in 2008. But those closest to the former secretary of state have counseled patience, arguing that a core element of Clinton’s plan was to get out of the way and let the dueling wings of the Republican Party savage each other while she floats above it all.
Cruz, they say, is Hillary’s wrecking ball.
People close to Clinton smiled at the sight of the first-term senator wandering alone on stage at Liberty University, implicitly threatening a civil war with the “mushy” establishment of his party that he loves to decry — while at the exact same time Clinton sat comfortably alongside heavyweights from her own party’s progressive and labor elements, who have thus far entirely declined to challenge her.
Meanwhile the clamoring of some liberal groups to recruit Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive darling, was entirely unheard in downtown Washington as Clinton spent her morning discussing domestic policy at the headquarters of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank run by her allies. The presumptive Democratic front-runner sat near a pair of union bosses and current and former urban mayors, making sure to throw in some love for liberal hero Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, as she previewed pieces of her likely domestic policy platform.
She touched all corners of the Democratic Party in the morning performance before meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House and speaking at an award ceremony for political reporters in the evening, dogged only by barbs from her Republican critics.
So for Clinton, Monday was smooth sailing. For Republicans, her camp figures, it signaled the beginning of a wild and messy primary contest that will let Clinton appear to be the adult in the room before she takes on a bloodied GOP nominee.
Could the GOP clown car be even more packed with loonies in 2016 than it was in 2012?
What are you hearing? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great day.
NOTE: The paintings of piano players by Matisse are meant as a tribute to our fearless leader Dakinikat and her new moneymaking enterprise.
I’m going to just give you some links to look at today since I’m probably going to bed to sleep as you’re waking. Such is my life right now. I’ve been trying to keep up with some of the recent political news but frankly, it’s somewhat disturbing and hearkens back to BostonBoomer asking if Republicans are even human beings these days.
The clown car is going to get its first passenger this week and it’s one of the whackiest of the whackadoodles. Dominionist and ego-maniacal fruit cake Texas Senator Ted Cruz is set to kick off with some kind of announcement. You may notice that I have an interesting set of vintage photos up today. These are haunting imagines of the residents of historical bedlams. It reminds me that some times the most dangerous people are not the ones we lock up.
Sen. Ted Cruz plans to announce Monday that he will run for president of the United States, accelerating his already rapid three-year rise from a tea party insurgent in Texas into a divisive political force in Washington.
Cruz will launch a presidential bid outright rather than form an exploratory committee, said senior advisers with direct knowledge of his plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made yet. They say he is done exploring and is now ready to become the first Republican presidential candidate.
The senator is scheduled to speak Monday at a convocation ceremony at Liberty University in Virginia, where he is expected to declare his campaign for the presidency.
Over the course of the primary campaign, Cruz will aim to raise between $40 million and $50 million, according to advisers, and dominate with the same tea party voters who supported his underdog Senate campaign in 2012. But the key to victory, Cruz advisers believe, is to be the second choice of enough voters in the party’s libertarian and social conservative wings to cobble together a coalition to defeat the chosen candidate of the Republican establishment.
The firebrand Texan may have few Senate colleagues who will back his White House bid, but his appeal to his party’s base who vote disproportionately in Republican primaries could make him competitive in Iowa and beyond.
We’ve said this here before, but Ted Cruz and his brand of Dominionism is a dangerous extremist movement that hopefully will be placed in the air and sunshine for all to see. This article by Chris Hedges reminds us of exactly how deluded these folks can be. BB has done extensive research on the Dominionist movement and its Washington DC insider cult of the “Brotherhood”. You can find her writings in our SkyDancing files. However, I’m going to point at the Hedges article as a good description of the crazy Cruzs.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz—whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire ministry—and legions of the senator’s wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism. This ideology calls on anointed “Christian” leaders to take over the state and make the goals and laws of the nation “biblical.” It seeks to reduce government to organizing little more than defense, internal security and the protection of property rights. It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism. The intellectual and moral hollowness of the ideology, its flagrant distortion and misuse of the Bible, the contradictions that abound within it—its leaders champion small government and a large military, as if the military is not part of government—and its laughable pseudoscience are impervious to reason and fact. And that is why the movement is dangerous.
The cult of masculinity, as in all fascist movements, pervades the ideology of the Christian right. The movement uses religion to sanctify military and heroic “virtues,” glorify blind obedience and order over reason and conscience, and pander to the euphoria of collective emotions. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and ultimately slaying nonbelievers. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is appealing to the powerless. It stokes the anger of many Americans, mostly white and economically disadvantaged, and encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is fostered by bizarre conspiracy theories, many of which are prominent in the rhetoric of those leading the government shutdown. Believers, especially now, are called to a perpetual state of war with the “secular humanist” state. The march, they believe, is irreversible. Global war, even nuclear war, is the joyful harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms billions of apostates to death.
Dominionists believe they are engaged in an epic battle against the forces of Satan. They live in a binary world of black and white. They feel they are victims, surrounded by sinister groups bent on their destruction. They have anointed themselves as agents of God who alone know God’s will. They sanctify their rage. This rage lies at the center of the ideology. It leaves them sputtering inanities about Barack Obama, his corporate-sponsored health care reform bill, his alleged mandated suicide counseling or “death panels” for seniors under the bill, his supposed secret alliance with radical Muslims, and “creeping socialism.” They see the government bureaucracy as being controlled by “secular humanists” who want to destroy the family and make war against the purity of their belief system. They seek total cultural and political domination.
Between this odd cult and the Opus Dei Catholics–who the church itself considers a cult–we’ve seen some pretty odd policies come to fruition. The GOP’s current budget recommendations are just one example of the absurdity of giving policy making to people who believe in a literal Satan and think some kind of end time is upon us. It’s back to the 19th Century and then some. Please go read the complete essay written by Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir. I’ve skipped the part where he points to the complicity of the Democratic Party which has been essential to this entire debacle.
No period of recorded history made possible the accumulation of so much wealth so quickly, or represented a purer laboratory to experiment with the operations of unfettered and unregulated capitalism. As Marx documented in hair-raising fashion in Chapter 10 of “Capital,” the early 19th century saw industrial wages driven down to the level of bare subsistence, while the advent of gaslight and then electricity stretched the working day deep into the hours of darkness, beyond any limits imagined by the most ruthless feudal aristocrat. (Even the divine right of kings, he observes, could not compel medieval peasants to work after the sun went down.) Profit became the object of stringent mathematical analysis for the first time, and Victorian capitalism learned to maximize profit – or “surplus labor,” the work an employee performs after covering the cost of her own continued existence – with magnificent precision and endless ingenuity.
But there’s more to the allure of the Victorian era, and the renewed class war of the 21st century, than unmitigated greed. Class interests shape ideology, and ideology shapes class interests. I’m inclined to think that the Kochs and their political hobby-horses are not entirely hypocritical, or at least that they genuinely believe the path to renewed American greatness lies in unregulated profit-taking and the political defeat and disempowerment of the working class. All that wealth that was so rapidly created by driving the laboring people of the British Isles into such spectacular misery – by working 7-year-old children 16 hours a day, in numerous documented instances — fueled the rise of a mighty industrial economy, and a globe-spanning empire.
This is where the belligerent foreign-policy stance of Cotton and other Republican radicals, and their naked yearning for war with Iran and an expanded American military presence around the world, dovetails with their Mr. Bumble approach to the ungrateful and undeserving poor. They believe that a nation ruled by the rich – by the very, very rich – is a great and powerful nation, and that in the long run the lower orders will be better off if they do as they’re told. It’s a contradictory blend of macho fantasy, discredited supply-side economics and wishful thinking, which reveals all their rhetoric of fiscal responsibility as utter bullshit (as, in fact, a pretext for class war). But through it all runs a strong current of neo-Victorian and neo-Calvinist morality, and a confused nostalgia for the fixed social hierarchies and uncontested global dominance of the British Empire. Why should we wonder (they ask) at America’s declining superpower status? We have surrendered our moral fiber to minimum-wage laws and environmental regulations and the $121 a month in food-stamp benefits provided to Tom Cotton’s poorest Arkansas constituents.
Big Capital’s mission to remake America through renewed class war is far from complete, and there is no near-term version of reality in which Cotton and Cruz live out their wild fantasies of repealing Obamacare, killing food stamps, privatizing Medicare and Social Security, and all the rest of it. But if I had told you a few years ago that public-sector unions would be eviscerated across a wide swath of the labor-friendly Midwest, that would have sounded outrageous too. Inch by inch, the stealth strategy of the Koch brothers is winning a war that most Americans don’t even recognize as a war, between classes we no longer see as classes. In the greatest victory of all, Marx’s history-making proletariat has been broken down by the scrubbing bubbles of class-war ideology into millions of individual “consumers,” who all happen to have low-wage, non-union jobs in the service sector. Only one side is fighting the class war; the other has been persuaded that no war is even possible, and therefore it must surrender.
Some right-wing outfits contest these numbers and try to make the dubious case that Israel can annex the Palestinian territories and still survive as a democratic Jewish state. Those were the type of voters Netanyahu was fishing for when he said before the election that he would not allow a Palestinian state — and when he warned on election day that “Arab voters are coming out in droves.” But in the end there can be no democratic Jewish state unless there is also a Palestinian state.
My friend Jeffrey Goldberg, in a powerful new article in the Atlantic on the tenuous future of Europe’s Jews, recalled an event he attended in the fall with American Jewish leaders at Vice President Biden’s residence. Biden, Goldberg recalled, told the story of a long-ago visit with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who told him that Israel’s “secret weapon” was that the Jews “have no place else to go.”
“Folks,” Goldberg quoted Biden as saying to the American Jews, “there is no place else to go, and you understand that in your bones. You understand in your bones that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States . . . there’s only one guarantee. There is really only one absolute guarantee, and that’s the state of Israel.”
Goldberg thought Biden had “antiquated notions about Jewish anxiety.” And it’s true that Jews are safe and happy in the United States today — but that could change. This is why I plunged my baby in the mikvah. And this is why I was appalled by Netanyahu’s disavowal of a two-state solution.
Without two states, there won’t be even one Jewish state if — God forbid — my daughter or her progeny someday have no place else to go.
The army closed a mess hall to women and barred a female officer from entering when new recruits of the ultra-Orthodox Nahal battalion were having lunch, the Israel Defense Forces said.
The incident happened at the Tel Hashomer induction base Thursday. The IDF explained the move by saying the army had promised that there would be no women around ultra-Orthodox recruits during their induction.
According to Channel 2 News, the battalion commander, Col. Uri Levi, said he thought most of the battalion’s new recruits were not ultra-Orthodox. “A minority come from ultra-Orthodox homes and some are not observant at all,” he wrote in a letter.
According to a reservist at the base Saturday, about 80 recruits were inducted into the battalion, most of them wearing the knitted skullcap identified with the religious-Zionist movement, which is generally more liberal on social affairs.
The reservist said a female officer who arrived at the mess hall was told she could not enter and eat because of the presence of the ultra-Orthodox recruits.
“If a female officer can’t sit in the mess hall on this day, we’ve gone crazy,” said the reservist, who said he knew ultra-Orthodox society well. “What if a group of settlers said they didn’t want to sit with Arabs or Druze, or that we couldn’t serve with Muslims?”
This is really over-the-top discrimination so as not to offend one small minority group of fundamentalists. How does that work in a democracy?
Islamic State has posted online what it says are the names, U.S. addresses and photos of 100 American military service members, and called upon its “brothers residing in America” to kill them.
The Pentagon said after the information was posted on the Internet that it was investigating the matter. “I can’t confirm the validity of the information, but we are looking into it,” a U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Saturday.
“We always encourage our personnel to exercise appropriate OPSEC (operations security) and force protection procedures,” the official added.
In the posting, a group referring to itself as the “Islamic State Hacking Division” wrote in English that it had hacked several military servers, databases and emails and made public the information on 100 members of the U.S. military so that “lone wolf” attackers can kill them.
The New York Times reported that it did not look like the information had been hacked from U.S. government servers and quoted an unnamed Defense Department official as saying most of the information could be found in public records, residential address search sites and social media.
What sort’ve hornets nest has been whacked that has created a swarm of buzzing, stinging, religious pests? More importantly, why are they in high places in governments? This is truly just one of the disturbing trends of this century. Who would think in an age of science and knowledge that religious fundamentalism and cults would carry so much sway?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Yesterday, Boston Boomer posted pictures of baby animals, in honor of spring. Today I post pictures (vintage ones) of Brides and Grooms, in honor of Dakinikat’s youngest…who got engaged last night.
So to E. and her Man:
Congrats girl, we wish you both the best of everything!
Now for the linkage, in basic dump form because I am moving so damn slow this morning, we’ll be celebrating the harvest before this thread gets posted.
For starters, a few choice headlines. I am not linking to them because I don’t want to deal with the trolls.
Israel: Beware of Obama By Michael Goodwin | New York Post
Ted Cruz to announce presidential bid Monday
Hey, Gays: Leave Aaron Schock Alone – The Daily Beast
The Dangerous Chaos of Barack Obama
By Larry Johnson
LOYAL TO LIBERTY- Glenn Beck leaves the GOP
That is some frightening stuff.
An Elk City mayoral candidate is now in some hot water after several YouTube videos were shared around town. In the videos, Bill Helton, an Elk City commissioner and mayoral candidate, is seen dressing up as a black woman called “Pollyester Kotton.”
“The character came about from one of my clients, who was African-American, from Texas,” Helton said. He also pointed out that she helped him transform into his alter ego, who he dresses up as mostly when emceeing charity events.
The state of Georgia is getting $15 million in federal money to try to reduce the number of able-bodied Georgians who are drawing food stamps every month.
About 200,000 Georgians fit into the target category: healthy adults with no dependents and on food stamps.
The requirement to work or go to a school was eased during the recent recession, but the requirement is back.
That should be more than enough links to get you going this morning.
Have a great day and enjoy the rest of the post:
Wedding pictures found on…Pinterest
Other fun pictures here:
Slide show of additional images at bottom of the thread.
Lets end this post with the full Abba song, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do:
Can you believe this song is 40 years old this year?
“I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”
Love me or leave me, make your choice but believe me
I love you
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
I can’t conceal it, don’t you see, can’t you feel it?
Don’t you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
Oh, I’ve been dreaming through my lonely past
Now I just made it, I found you at last
So come on, now let’s try it, I love you, can’t deny it
‘Cos it’s true
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
Oh, no hard feelings between you and me
If we can’t make it, but just wait and see
So come on, now let’s try it, I love you, can’t deny it
‘Cos it’s true
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
So love me or leave me, make your choice but believe me
I love you
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
I can’t conceal it, don’t you see, can’t you feel it?
Don’t you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
Today is the second day of spring! Isn’t it wonderful? March came in like lion and it looks like it’s going to go out like a lamb; so I’m going to illustrate this post with baby animals to offset the contents of this post, which will be about police violence. Spring fever and computer problems have combined to put me in the mood for baby animals photos. I hope you’ll enjoy them too.
I got really down the last few days because my computer went haywire–after only six months! But I’ve accepted it now, and I’m determined to deal with it as gracefully as I can. I have to send it back to the manufacturer for repairs, so I’ll be without a good computer for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, I have a backup. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it works.
The University of Virginia is back in the news. Martese Johnson, an honor student at UVA was beaten by Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) officers outside a Charlotte bar on Wednesday night. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that this young man is black. The incident has led to anger and protests on the UVA campus. From the LA Times:
Following a night of heated protests, officials in Charlottesville, Va., on Thursday scrambled to defuse the anger sparked by the arrest of a black University of Virginia student outside a bar.
Martese Johnson, 20, had just been denied entry into a bar near the University of Virginia campus early Wednesday when he was questioned by agents with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the agency said.
Johnson’s attorney said during his client’s arrest he was thrown to the ground and hit his head on the pavement, gushing blood and requiring stitches.
Johnson was charged with two counts: obstruction of justice without force and public swearing or intoxication.
Oh dear. Public swearing? No wonder he got his head bloodied. /s
In a news conference Thursday, Johnson’s attorney called him an “upstanding young man” and a scholarship student with “no criminal record whatsoever.”
“As the officers held me down, one thought raced through my mind: How could this happen?” Johnson said in a statement read by his attorney, Daniel Watkins….
Watkins also said that despite media reports claiming Johnson had furnished a fake ID, the student supplied a “valid Illinois state identification card issued in 2011″ when an employee at the bar asked him for one.
Oh. I see. He was under age, so of course he deserved the beating. /s
Governor Terry McAuliffe has ordered an investigation, and UVA President Teresa Sullivan has asked for witnesses to the incident to “come forward.”
Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: Bloodied UVA Student Martese Johnson Is Left to Ask: ‘How Did This Happen?’
The official answer was that agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) had seen the 20-year-old University of Virginia student being denied entry to the Trinity Irish Pub in Charlottesville.
But that does not explain why the ABC agents chose Johnson in particular.
He surely was not the only person to be turned away from an Irish bar at the edge of a college campus on St. Patrick’s Day.
Yet, he seems to have been the only one who was arrested.
Interesting. Of course he happened to have black skin and that probably made him stand out to the ABC officers.
Johnson had never been in trouble with the law and was understandably surprised to find himself suddenly grabbed by the ABC agents who asked him about a fake ID. He told them he did not have one and reflexively asked them to let go of his arm.
The ABC agents responded by slamming him to the sidewalk like he was a gunman after a shootout, causing a head wound that would require 10 stitches to close.
Johnson repeatedly declared himself to be a legitimate college student.
“I go to UVa! I go to UVa! I go to UVa!” he cried out.
What other explanation is there for this incident other than racism? Read the rest at the link.
A group of black students walked out of a University of Virginia student meeting in protest this afternoon, claiming they were left out of the planning of the event that stemmed from the bloody arrest this week of fellow African-American student Martese Johnson.
Johnson, who was in attendance, also left after the group dominated the first part of the sometimes contentious meeting with their questions for panelists, who included the Charlottesville police chief, the state’s secretary of public safety, which oversees state alcohol control agents, and UVA police. An overflow room contained more people, in addition to the 350 attendees in the main room….
Today’s on-campus meeting, set up by the student council and local and state officials, was titled “A Conversation with Law Enforcement.” Members of the black community at UVA said they were angry that they were excluded from the planning of the event by the student council. A group of black students quickly dominated the first part of this event with their questions.
Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo acknowledged this has been a hard year for everyone in the university community, noting that the school has been put on the national stage three times in the last seven months. “What happened this past week has shaken your trust. It is my responsibility as the police chief to regain your trust. I commit to you today to do that,” Longo said.
But often when he and other speakers were asked a question, students standing in the aisle said together: “Answer the question we asked” with their fists in the air.
The student protesters brought up an incident that happened Wednesday evening, where a University of Virginia police officer allegedly arrested a student in a chokehold. Captain Mike Coleman with the UVA PD said that situation is currently under review.
About 100 of the student protesters walked out of the meeting chanting, “Black lives matter.” The meeting continued for about 40 minutes afterwards, though most people had already left.
That doesn’t sound like a very productive meeting….
At Slate, Jamie Bouie writes “if you want to understand the anger over the brutal arrest of a UVA student, you must also understand UVA.” Of course the incident also relates to police violence against black males–an issue that has been front and center since the Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri last year. It’s a long article, and you should go read the whole thing, but I’ll give you a couple of excerpts.
Johnson is black, and for himself as well as other students, this linked his experience to other incidents of police violence against black men, part of a larger narrative of race and policing, and reflected in the rhetoric of the protests. Students, black and white, chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” the slogan derived from early—and false—reports of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. No, Johnson wasn’t killed, but his experience resonated with black students at UVA. “It’s still hard for me,” said one law school student at a Wednesday rally for Johnson. “I can’t believe I’m even up here right now, I have no words—because I’m sick and tired of this,” he said. “What I’m going to do is to continue to say that black lives matter until it’s true.”
Bouie describes the state of race relations at UVA:
What’s more, there’s the particular racial atmosphere of the university. It would be inaccurate and unfair to say that all black students at UVA share a common experience of the school and its institutions. Some find community in the student mainstream, others in the rich collection of black organizations and clubs, and others still in their particular networks of friends and classmates. But while experiences vary, many black students can speak to moments of racial tension and outright racist aggression. “People call you the N-word and say that you don’t belong here. They don’t realize what that does to the psyche. Then you have to go to class,” explained one protester in an interview with ThinkProgress. To that point, I spoke with one alumnus who was once taunted with racial slurs while walking through campus, and another who could point to multiple incidents across his college career. Indeed, my first month at UVA was marked by a rash of racial disturbances, including one in which a black student living in a prestigious “Lawn” room—adjacent to the Rotunda, at the center of the university—was greeted with racist epithets (including “Nigger”) on his door.
And beyond these individual experiences is the broad context of black life at the UVA.For most of the last decade, first-year black enrollment held steady at 9 percent. As of 2012, it had dipped to 6 percent, which school officials attribute to the recession, weak economy, and a lack of outreach to younger students and their families. It says something of the present university environment that, out of the 47 Lawn room assignments for the 2015 school year, not a single one of the honors went to a black student….
At a school as large as UVA, shrinking black enrollment—and the persistence of racial microaggressions—can create the feeling of isolation, even as the school keeps its commitment to programs and services for black students and other students of color, from a strong mentoring program and dedicated Office of African-American Affairs to merit scholarships for minority students and a dedicated team of minority college recruiters.
It all adds up to a fraught environment of unresolved problems, where police violence against a black student sparks mass protests of dissatisfied students—black and white—and the school administration joins the criticism. UVA President Teresa Sullivan declared her “commitment to seeking the truth about this incident,” while Marcus Martin, joined with the school’s dean of African-American affairs, Maurice Apprey, to condemn the entire incident. “We are outraged by the brutality against a University of Virginia undergraduate student that occurred in the early hours Wednesday, March 18, 2015,” reads their statement. “This was wrong and should not have occurred. In the many years of our medical, professional and leadership roles at the University, we view the nature of this assault as highly unusual and appalling based on the information we have received.”
When will it end? We need a serious effort in this country to seek law enforcement officers at every level who understand racial prejudice and are committed to ending it. Officers also need to be trained in techniques to deal with violent and/or mentally ill suspects other than shooting and killing them. There have been a number of recent incidents of violence against black men by law enforcement officers around the country. This issue must be addressed, if necessary at the Federal level. A few more links to recent stories on police violence:
Chicago Tribune: Kenosha officer kills man upon return from leave for other shooting.
ABC 5 Cleveland: Teen shot & killed by Cleveland Police on east side identified; source says he did not have a gun.
It just goes on and on. When will it ever end?
Now, what stories are you following today. I hope you’ll post links in the comment thread, and I promise to click on every one. Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!
I don’t know, it has been a rough week in my family. Three deaths…very sad.
So when I tried to find some funny comics for tonight’s post, there was just not much in the way of choice cartoons to link and share with y’all.
Anyway, the limited selection for tonight:
This is an open thread.
I’ve spent this week getting used to some changes in my schedule and activities while trying to find a way to get all the things paid for above and beyond teaching for what seems like next to nothing any more. One of the things I learned this week is that some things really never change.
Bourbon Street, New Orleans is pretty much an endless parade of the same kinds of people in the same groups with the same clothes and looks on their faces. I’ve never gigged on Bourbon Street until this week even though I’ve gigged around New Orleans and the French Quarter a lot over the 20 years I’ve lived here. I usually play at upscale restaurants so mostly, I’m very much in the background.
I’m still somewhat in the background but now it’s more like being the music behind the performance. I’m accompanying a very talented drag performer with an awesome voice and having great fun! I hope you enjoy the pictures! I’m going to share a few other stories that are locally relevant and not as happy. So, this top picture is Miss Jessica Duplantier singing with me checking out her show last week. You’ll see a lot more of her and Eureka Starfish as the post goes on.
I’ve been thinking once again on how tribal human beings can be and how easily we forget how badly we can treat each other. I also think we all have convenient short memories and long standing insensitivities to wrong done to others. I’m getting tired of watching racism parade its ugly head. I’m also getting extremely tired of people acting willfully ignorant about things that seriously represent injurious historical actions.
I‘m pretty sure we all know about “pickaninny” culture even though many of us were not raised in the deep south. It was a staple of Hollywood movies, literature, advertising, and many other aspects of popular culture prior to the civil rights movement. I’m not going to actually reproduce any of that here on the post but I will point to the links and to this article highlighting the new poster for the North Shore Strawberry Festival.
The 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival poster was unveiled Tuesday (March 17), and immediately provoked a social media debate, with some calling the image racist.
The poster, created by artist Kalle Siekkinen, depicts two faceless children rendered in dark brown or black paint. One holds a flat of strawberries. The poster made the rounds on various Facebook pages, with some saying the image, done in a folk art style, implied cultural insensitivity. Others wrote that such concerns were misplaced.
Shelley Matherne, public relations director for the Strawberry Festival, said that the annual poster is produced by the Ponchatoula Kiwanis Club and that officials of the festival had not seen the work until Thursday’s unveiling. They became aware of the controversy via social media. Festival organizers are meeting with Kiwanis representatives Thursday (March 19) evening to discuss how to proceed, Matherne said.
The festival put a post about the poster on its Facebook page. The comments under the post — 81 as of 5:15 p.m. Thursday — were no longer public.
I have followed, spoke to and seen most of the social media storm. I cannot believe that folks do not recognize the “pickaninny” stereotype and what it means to the historical movement to dehumanize and infantilize Black Americans. You can look at the variety of comments there exclaiming that it’s racist free ‘folk art’ showcasing black children and judge for yourself. The Festival people are standing by the poster and the poster’s defenders are vociferous. I’m still appalled and I stand by that.
I’m appalled on many levels by several recent events indicating that the struggle does indeed continue on many fronts. There were several notable absences in the Selma commemoration including the Congressman that spoke at a White Supremacist gathering on his way to his seat. He was in a posh resort being wined and dined by the AEI. That’s obviously much more important than making a symbolic gesture to his constituents many of whose lives were profoundly changed by the civil rights movement.
U.S. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 3 House Republican who has been criticized in the past by civil rights leaders, stayed at a posh Georgia resort with his wife earlier this month rather than attend events in Alabama marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma civil rights march.
A newly filed congressional “post-travel” disclosure dated Wednesday shows Scalise skipped the Selma event to attend a Republican “off-the-record” retreat hosted in Sea Island, Ga. The event was hosted by the American Enterprise Institute from March 5-8.
Not far away from us, Mississipi Trees still bear “strange fruit”. All of this is a haunting reminder that our President may be black, but our American Society still has far to go to achieve the dream of liberty and justice for all.
CLAIBORNE COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -The FBI and the MBI are investigating a suspicious death in Claiborne County.
A body was found on property located off of Rodney Road.
The Coroner, J.W. Mallett, confirms the man was found hanging from a tree. Officials say the body was hung using bed sheets.
According to the Coroner the body has not yet been identified because the body has apparently been there so long that identification, by visual means, is nearly impossible. The body has been sent to the State Crime Lab for autopsy.
The Claiborne County branch of the NAACP is indicating the man found hanging is Otis Byrd.
The FBI is only saying that he is a “man last seen March 2nd; and his family filed a missing persons report with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department on March 8th.”
In a news release, the FBI say the body was found during a ground search by the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks.
54-year-old Otis James Byrd was last seen when a friend dropped him off at Vicksburg’s Riverwalk Casino earlier this month.
His family and friends hadn’t heard from him since then.
The NAACP has now sent an email requesting the US Department of Justice “join the current investigation of the suspicious hanging death of Mr. Otis Byrd.”
The email goes on to say: “Mr. Otis Byrd’s body was [found] today, Thursday, March 19, 2015. After several days of missing, [he] was found hanged to death.”
The FBI says the body was found “a half mile from his last know residence.”
Some odd things have been happening in the city that relate to a really strange true crime case. I thought I’d bring up the arrest and extradition of Robert Durst. It’s one of those stories that makes you wonder how our society can manage to let so many folks rot in jail for very little while a true sociopath can wander about at will. I guess you shouldn’t wonder too much because the guy is and was rich and can pretty much afford to work the justice system. It’s a strange story, nonetheless.
Durst was arrested Saturday in New Orleans in connection with the 2000 fatal shooting of Berman at her Benedict Canyon home. He was charged Monday with murder, and the next day transferred to the mental health facility at a state-run prison in Louisiana.
His extradition to California has been delayed as authorities in New Orleans deal with the drugs and weapons allegations.
Meanwhile, New York authorities remain interested in Durst as they continue to investigate what happened to his first wife, Kathleen, who disappeared in 1982.
Kathleen Durst vanished after she expressed the desire for a divorce. To a friend, she had confided worries about what her husband might do.
Following the disappearance, Berman acted as an “informal spokesman” for Durst. The pair had met at UCLA, where they went to school together.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles allege that Durst killed Berman to prevent her from speaking to police about the disappearance of his wife. Durst could face the death penalty for the murder charge with special circumstances.
Less than a year after Berman’s death, Durst turned up in Galveston, Texas, in connection with the killing of an elderly neighbor, Morris Black. Black’s dismembered body, in several plastic bags, was discovered in the waters offshore. A trail of clues led to Durst’s arrest.
Durst didn’t deny dismembering Black, but he said he inadvertently shot him while wrestling a gun from him.
A jury acquitted him in 2003.
The making of the documentary had opened up some new evidence. Durst’s New Orleans Hotel Room is turning out to be one of those FBI forensic crime scenes from TV dramas mixed with crime psychologists and crime scene scientists. Check out the picture on this one. The guy oozes sociopath.
Murder suspect Robert Durst, subject of HBO’s ‘The Jinx,’ had more than $42,000 in cash, a fake ID and a latex mask when authorities arrested him in New Orleans last weekend, newly obtained records show.
Inside Durst’s hotel room at the J.W. Mariott on Canal Street, police say they found $42,631 in cash, mostly in $100 bills packed in small envelopes, according to an affidavit for a warrant to search Durst’s home in Houston, signed by a judge in Harris County, Texas, on Tuesday (March 17).
The new details were made public Wednesday after authorities in Houston searched the real-estate scion’s home at the request of Los Angeles officials, who have charged Durst in the 2000 death of his longtime confidante and spokesperson, Susan Berman.
According to the document, members of the FBI’s Violent Offenders Task Force found Durst on in the lobby of the hotel a little before 7 p.m. Saturday. When FBI Special Agent William Williams approached the 71-year-old man from behind and identified himself, Durst had a small backpack with him but claimed he did not have any type of identification.
When agents searched Durst’s room — he was staying in room 2303 under the name Everette Ward — they found a Texas ID with the same alias, and not his real name, the record states.
“That’s pretty good,” Durst said to the agents when confronted with the fake ID, according to the Texas document.
So, now I suppose I will have to watch the HBO thing.