Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

Yesterday, Dakinikat wrote a very thoughtful post about the upside-down “morality” that has taken over the Republican Party since the Reagan years. The basis for the post was the op-ed in the NYT yesterday by former executive Greg Smith: Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.

I thought it was rather courageous of Smith to go public with his moral concerns about the Goldman “culture.” But quite a few writers are mocking him for it. For example, Sara Ball put up a post at Vanity Fair called Why I Am Leaving Pinkberry. She bills it as “parody,” but what’s her point. I don’t even think her piece qualifies as satire. Here’s a bit of it:

TODAY is my last day at the Turtle Bay-area branch of Pinkberry—you know, the one on 54th Street between 2nd and 3rd? After almost 13 months with this company—at first as a summer job while at U.S.C., then in apprenticeships at New York’s Columbus Circle and Bleecker St. branches—I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its personnel, and its flavor inventory. And I can honestly say today that I am really sick of frozen yogurt.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interest of our customers continue to be sidelined in the way we, the firm, think about making money. Day in and day out, we are so worried about the line building up, we don’t even ask people how they’re doing anymore. You can forget about spelling their name correctly on the order label. And these customer-service problems will only get worse if this unseasonably warm weather keeps up. Sometimes, in the back room, I’ve heard my colleagues call our patrons “polar bears”—since they get hungrier and sadder as the sky gets sunnier, their yogurt melting out from underneath them.

It isn’t even slightly funny. Goldman Sachs played a huge role in global financial crisis and is almost single=handedly responsible for the ongoing nightmare in Greece. Here’s another parody that makes a bit more sense in light of the evil that Goldman has perpetrated: Why I Am Leaving the Empire, by Darth Vader.

Matt Taibbi, at least, thinks the Smith piece is important enough to take seriously.

The resignation will have an effect on Goldman’s business. The firm’s share price opened this morning at 124.52; it’s down to 120.72 as of this writing (it dropped two percent while I was writing this blog), and it will probably dive further. Why? Because you can stack all the exposés on Goldman you want by degenerates like me and the McClatchy group, and you can even have a Senate subcommittee call for your executives to be tried for perjury, but that doesn’t necessarily move the Street.

But when one of the firm’s own partners is saying out loud that his company liked to “rip the eyeballs out” of “muppets” like you, then you start to wonder if maybe this firm is the best choice for managing your money. Hence we see headlines this morning like this item from Forbes.com: “Greg Smith Quits, Should Clients Fire Goldman Sachs?”

Of course Goldman immediately set out to smear their former partner, Greg Smith, with the help of the Wall Street Journal, as Taibbi notes. I wouldn’t be surprised if those “parodies” were part of Goldman’s smear tactics.

As I suspected, the soldier who recently committed mass murder in Afghanistan had previously suffered traumatic brain injury. He may also have PTSD, as do many veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq (and Vietnam).

The U.S. Army staff sergeant who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians in a dead-of-night spasm of shooting, stabbing and fire-setting is reported to have suffered a traumatic brain injury during a deployment to Iraq in 2010….

Research on traumatic brain injury has established a clear link between brain trauma and irritable, aggressive behavior that can be explosive, often without apparent warning or provocation. Sometimes, brain injury magnifies a victim’s longstanding tendency toward irritability, depression or hostility. Some brain traumas bring personality changes in their wake, causing even laid-back types to become irascible and impatient.

For many patients, particularly those who have sustained injury to their brain’s prefrontal cortex, the mechanisms that allow most of us to put the “brakes” on aggressive or inappropriate impulses do not function as well.

The injury happened in 2010, and yet he was deployed to another combat zone! Why? Because the military doesn’t want a draft army. Because then they’d have to deal with the kinds of protests that happened during the Vietnam nightmare. They want a “professional” army, and since they can’t find as much cannon fodder as they’d like, they send the same people back again and again into combat. It’s a perfect recipe for creating psychological disorders that, if not addresed, may lead people to act out violently. Read more at Danger Room, here and here. Joseph Cannon also has published a useful comment from one of his readers on this subject.

There’s another enlightening article at Reuters: Lawmakers press Pentagon on massacre suspect’s brain injury

The Army staff sergeant accused in Sunday’s shooting served three deployments to Iraq before he was sent to Afghanistan last year. The soldier, whose name has not been disclosed publicly, was treated for a traumatic brain injury suffered in a vehicle rollover in 2010 in Iraq, according to a U.S. official.

Representative Bill Pascrell, founder of a U.S. congressional task force on brain injuries, wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting details of the accused soldier’s injury, diagnosis, and when and how he was returned to combat duty.

“I am trying to find out basically whether there was a premature ‘OK’ on this guy,” Pascrell, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview.

“This is not to excuse any heinous acts; we are all sickened by it. But dammit, we all have an obligation to prevent these things,” Pascrell said. “If this soldier fell through the cracks, does that mean that others have?

Good questions! And very good reasons to get our troops out of Afghanistan ASAP. This country will be paying for these wars for a generation. Many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, like Vietnam veterans before them, will act out their psychological problems back here through suicide, murder, child abuse, spouse abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction. I’d love to go down to Congress and explain that these are human beings, not cannon fodder. End these endless wars!!

I’ve been meaning to mention another post by Joseph Cannon. I suppose everyone has read it by now, but I haven’t seen any discussion of it at Sky Dancing. In a post about several topics, Cannon linked to an article speculating on the surprising death of Andrew Breitbart.

The Fix wonders why the corporate media has so zealously avoided asking the obvious questions about Breitbart’s death. What drugs was he using? I began to suspect something fishy as soon as I heard that the family was emphasizing that the death was from “natural causes.” Later Breitbart’s father-in-law, actor Orson Bean said it was assumed to be a heart attack. But how many 43-year-old men die from heart attacks? After the autopsy, no cause of death was announced, pending toxicology tests. If Breitbart had a heart attack, why didn’t they report damage to the heart? Or maybe they want to learn whether a drug caused a heart attack. Anyway, go read the article. It’s very interesting.

Apparently Breitbart suffered from ADHD and probably was taking Adderall, an amphetamine (speed). He had confessed to heavy drinking and cocaine use in college, and he was reportedly still a heavy drinker who often seemed to to lose control. I for one will be very interested to learn the results of those toxicology tests.

Here’s a heartbreaking report of a young victim of the international war on women: Moroccan girl commits suicide after being forced to marry her rapist.

A 16-year-old Moroccan girl has committed suicide after a judge ordered her to marry her rapist, according to Moroccan media reports.

Last year Amina’s parents filed charges against their daughter’s rapist, a man 10 years older than her but it was only recently that a judge in the northern city of Tangier decided that instead of punishing him, the two must be married.

The court’s decision to forcibly marry Amina to her rapist was supposed to “resolve” the damage of sexual violation against her, but it led to more suffering in the unwelcoming home of her rapist/husband’s family.

Traumatized by the painful experience of rape, Amina decided to end her life by consuming rat poison in the house of her husband’s family, according to the Moroccan daily al-Massae.

Horrifying, isn’t it? But it’s really not that far away from the advice of Opus-Dei-style theocrat Rick Santorum to rape victims who become pregnant:

SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

I know this hasn’t been a very cheerful post, so I’ll end on a positive note. Via Raw Story, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a complaint with the IRS against Grover Norquist.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate whether Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and its president Grover Norquist violated federal law by filing a tax return that left out more than half the political activity ATR conducted in 2010. ATR disclosed more than $4.2 million in independent expenditures to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), but asserted on its 2010 tax return that it spent only $1.85 million on political activities.

“Grover Norquist’s numbers just don’t add up,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Americans for Tax Reform spent millions of dollars in 2010 trying to defeat candidates who disagreed with its agenda, then left most of that spending off its own tax return. Perhaps Mr. Norquist should sign a pledge that he won’t lie to the IRS about his group’s political activity.”

Tax-exempt organizations such as ATR are required to report on their annual tax returns the amount they spent on political activities. This information helps the IRS determine whether a tax-exempt organization is complying with its tax-exempt status and provides at least some transparency for groups involved in politics. Reporting inaccurate information can result in civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

I don’t know if anything will come of it, but it’s sure worth a try. Those are my reading suggestions for today. What do you recommend?


Shock! Obama Hugs Derrick Bell! Derrick Bell “Visits” White House! OMG!!

1991: Harvard graduate student Barack Obama hugs Harvard Professor Derrick Bell

Last night Peggy Sue wrote a great post about the late Andrew Breitbart’s supposed big revelation–that in 1991 Barack Obama appeared at a demonstration in favor of extending tenure to a female African American professor. Apparently, the most horrifying part of the story was that Obama publicly hugged Professor Derrick Bell at this event.

I’ve been noticing the development of this “story” over the past couple of days, but I’ve mostly ignored it in the hopes that it would simply go away. Sadly, the right wing bloggers, with support from Fox News personalities, are still screaming about it (here is just one example). What exactly are they trying to accomplish? Do they really want to make themselves look like complete idiots?

I honestly can’t figure out what awful crime either Obama or Bell is supposed to have committed, according to the Breitbartians, and frankly I just don’t want to submit myself to the horrors of reading their blogs. Based on a quick perusal of the some of the links on Memeorandum, I think they’ve taken to the fainting couch because more than 20 years ago, now President Obama supported racial and gender diversity at Harvard–something that Harvard desperately needed in 1991, and probably still needs today.

When these hate spasms periodically break out of the right wing blogs and into the corporate media, it’s hard for me to muster more than a heavy sigh. Like Peggy Sue, I’m obviously no great fan of Barack Obama and I didn’t vote for him in 2008. But my complaints about him aren’t that he supported racial and gender diversity at one time. When I hear about such incidents in Obama’s past, I can only wonder why he doesn’t seem to really support such issues as president. I wonder why professors like Derrick Bell and Charles Ogletree had so little positive influence on Obama that today he supports policies that remove rather than advance civil liberties in this country.

And if Breitbart was such a great muckraker, why didn’t he know that the footage of Obama speaking in favor of campus diversity and hugging Derrick Bell, far from being hidden by the Obama campaign, had been shown on PBS’ Frontline in 2008?

And what about the Heritage Foundation’s “discovery” that Derrick Bell visited the White House twice? Jake Tapper explains that little bit of stupidity:

The conservative Heritage Foundation shows some pluck by searching for the late law school professor Derrick A. Bell in the White House visitor’s logs, and finds that “Visitor logs show that Derrick A. Bell visited the White House twice since President Obama took office. The logs show two visits by an individual of that name on January 29 and 31, 2010.”

OK, so what happened? Did he have lunch with the President?

There are two problems with the Heritage post. One: it excludes some details from the visitors’ logs. There are 28 columns on the publicly released records, the Heritage blog lists seven. The data they omit includes a description of what the visit was for: in this case, for both visits: TOURS. A White House tour – not MEETING or APPOINTMENT. Another data point: TOTAL PEOPLE. This is a reference to how many people were present for the tour, meeting or appointment – in this case 304 people and 282 people.

Check out the visitors’ logs HERE.

But Bell surely could have taken a tour or two and then met with President Obama, right? Sure, it’s possible – and I asked the White House about it. The answer from a White House official: this was not the same Derrick A. Bell. He had a different birthday than the late law professor, whose birthday was November 6, 1930.

Another heavy sigh….

Eric Wemple of the WaPo decided to check with Bell’s widow to see if he’d ever met with President Obama. Here’s what she had to say:

Reached at her New York home this afternoon, Janet Bell was fully informed of the Breitbartian publicity. “I think there is no there there,” she said. “And I think that it’s pathetic and desperate on their part that they would think that this was such a bombshell. It’s typical in one sense: It’s the radical right wing making a mountain out of a molehill with distortion and misinformation.”

She watched the Breitbart editors promoting their “scoop” on Fox News’s “Hannity.” “I saw Sean Hannity — he had to twist himself up in so many pretzels to try to justify the dramatic nature of this footage.”

Yeah, but the late professor and Obama were buds, right? “They had very little contact” after Obama left Harvard Law School. “He never had contact with the president as president” — at least as far as Janet Bell can recall.

Personally, I’d think a lot more of President Obama if he had invited Professor Bell to the White House for lunch! Sorry to speak negatively of the recently departed, but Breitbart was an idiot and and his staff are just as idiotic as their former boss. All this fuss over a non-story!

The real problem is the motivation behind the hyping of this non-story. It’s beginning to look like we may be in for a long bout of out-front racism in the upcoming general election campaign–and that’s on top of the war on women that seems unlikely to end anytime soon. At the American Prospect, Paul Waldman is also fed up:

From the beginning of Breitbart’s enterprise, race-baiting was a key element of his attack on Barack Obama, one that continues even after his death. And he always had plenty of company, from Glenn Beck saying Obama “has a deep-seated hatred of white people,” to Rush Limbaugh’s repeated insistence to his white listeners that Obama was motivated by racial hatred in everything he did. “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations,” Limbaugh proclaimed. “The days of [minorities] not having any power are over, and they are angry,” he said. “And they want to use their power as a means of retribution. That’s what Obama’s about, gang.” When in 2009 he found a story about a white kid getting beaten up by a black kid on a school bus, Limbaugh said, “In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on.’” And yes, he did that last part in an exaggerated “black” accent.

The message is always the same: Obama and the blacks are mad, and they’re coming for you. Yet people like the Breitbart folks and Limbaugh have two problems. First, they’re running out of material. There aren’t any more shocking revelations to be had. The best they can do is try to make mountains of racial resentment out of the most innocuous molehills, like the fact that Obama supported Derrick Bell’s effort to diversify the faculty when he was a law student. And second, by now anyone who can be convinced that Obama is a secret Black Panther never thought otherwise. The guy has been president for three years. Americans are pretty familiar with him. He hasn’t actually started herding white people into concentration camps, and it’s an awfully tough sell to tell people that he might any day now.

It’s a tough sell to rational people, but the right wingers are eating it up. It’s not going to be pleasant–and we’ll also have to deal with either Mitt Romney’s or Rick Santorum’s war on poor people.

Heavy sigh….


Evening News Reads: Let the slugfest begin!

Hey, women can be assholes too...

Good Evening

We had a taste of summer here in Banjoland today…the sun was baking the cow patties and the top floor rooms of our house were getting hot like bun warmers.

Hmmm…speaking of bullshit. (Like how I slid into the first news link of the night?)  Limbaugh’s Misogynistic Attack On Georgetown Law Student Continues With Increased Vitriol

And it is awful and vile:

Rush Limbaugh is not backing down after widespread condemnation over his misogynistic attack on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University Law School student who testified before Congress recently about the problems caused when women lack access to contraception.

If anything, Limbaugh has increased the vitriol, at one point asking Fluke: “Who bought your condoms in sixth grade?”

Yesterday, Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

Today he stepped it up a notch…

Opening his show Thursday, Limbaugh characterized the criticism of his comments as “a conniption fit,” which he called “hilarious.” He offered what he said was a “compromise” to contraception coverage: purchasing “all the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as possible.”

Limbaugh returned to the controversy later, claiming to have “run some numbers” on contraception costs and arguing that contraception coverage was “flat-out thievery” that would force taxpayers to pay to “satisfy the sexual habits of female law students at Georgetown.”

Limbaugh later dismissed concerns over lack of access to contraception coverage and mocked Fluke’s congressional testimony, affecting a baby’s voice and pretending to cry, saying: “I’m going broke having sex. I need government to provide me condoms and contraception. It’s not fair.”

Limbaugh later questioned why insurance should cover contraception and played a portion of Fluke’s testimony laying out the problems many college-age women face paying for contraception. He asked, “Ms. Fluke, have you ever heard of not having sex? Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?”

After saying that the Washington, D.C., Department of Health “will send you free condoms and lube,” Limbaugh said: “So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Horrid, what is this asshole doing on the air? Can someone tell me? Any lawyers out there, please tell me this douchbag can be sued…

You can read more on this here: Limbaugh Doubles Down, Demands Sandra Fluke Post Sex Tapes Online

Let’s move on to another “Douche” in the news today, this one is a dead Douche…uh…those are Matt Taibbi’s words, but if the shoe fits…Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche

So Andrew Breitbart is dead. Here’s what I have to say to that, and I’m sure Breitbart himself would have respected this reaction: Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.

I say this in the nicest possible way. I actually kind of liked Andrew Breitbart. Not in the sense that I would ever have wanted to hang out with him, or even be caught within a hundred yards of him without a Haz-Mat suit on, but I respected the shamelessness. Breitbart didn’t do anything by halves, and even his most ardent detractors had to admit that he had a highly developed, if not always funny, sense of humor.

You can read the rest of the memorial at the link.

Funny how assholes like Limbaugh and Breitbart are described as “nice” guys when dealing with people away from the cameras or microphones. Women Voter mentioned in the comments that she had a twitter disagreement with Breitbart and he was never out of line…Then you have this “exclusive” from The Hollywood Reporter: Andrew Breitbart Talked Politics in L.A. Bar an Hour Before Dying (Exclusive)

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sando says he arrived at the bar in the tony Brentwood section of L.A. around 10 p.m. and soon the empty seat next to his was filled by a man with a familiar face.

“I tried to figure out how I knew him,” says Sando, a veteran publicity and marketing executive who has worked at CBS, King World Prods and Turner Broadcasting. “He was on his BlackBerry. And I said ‘Andrew?’ I told him I had seen his work.”

Sando says the duo quickly struck up a conversation that would last a little less than two hours.

“He was friendly and engaging,” Sando recalls. “I said, ‘You can’t be very happy with the slate of Republican candidates’ and he said, ‘Why would you say that?’ I said, ‘Well, they’re talking about contraception,’ and he said, ‘The conversation is being framed by the liberal media.’ I said, ‘Well, the media isn’t writing Rick Santorum’s speeches for him.’ We had a back-and-forth for awhile until we said we weren’t going to agree on some things.”

The friendly debate continued in the bar as Breitbart sipped red wine, says Sando. “We just hit it off, he was delightful. There were other people who sat down and joined the conversation.”

I have heard similar stories about Rush…I mean, isn’t Elton John a friend of his?

When Rush did the voice over for a Family Guy episode, Seth MacFarlane said Rush is a really cool, decent guy. (I know that is one misogynist calling the other cool and decent.)

And that Chris Christie is another one…who makes terrible comments about women and so many other things…yet he jokes about himself, and seems like he could be a “nice guy” when he wants to be…I just don’t understand it all.

Eeek, I better move on. I have a lot of stories about other assholes to get to.

I think this makes the third asshole I am writing about today…Sheriff Joe: ‘Probable cause’ Obama certificate a fraud

An investigative “Cold Case Posse” launched six months ago by “America’s toughest sheriff” – Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County – has concluded there is probable cause that the document released by the White House last year as President Obama’s birth certificate is a computer-generated forgery.

Number four…anyone guess who? If you said Roy Blunt, you’d win the boobie prize. Thankfully the Blunt amendment was defeated in Senate

The Senate defeated Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to allow employers to refuse to cover health services Thursday, dealing Republicans a high-profile setback in the fight over the Obama administration’s contraception coverage mandate.

The vote is unlikely to end the fight over the contraception rule, though, as Blunt said the issue won’t go away until the administration backs down and gives a broader religious exemption to the coverage mandate.

Numbers five, six and seven if you please:

Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania joined Republicans in support of the amendment.

Number eight is a nice turtle asshole: GOP Struggles To Contain Birth Control Fallout

Yet despite a growing sense that the GOP has veered into politically dangerous territory, a full-scale retreat would embarrass the party, and alienate a powerful segment of its conservative base. And that’s left Republicans little choice but to press ahead, illustrating the dangers they’ll face if election year politicking turns further from the economy toward culture war fights that voters thought were settled decades ago.

The man really looks like a turtle.

Okay, I have lost count…but here is something from a Peach State asshole: Georgia Right-To-Life Strongarms On 20-Week Ban While OB Calls Bill “Heartless”  I have to quote the short post because it all is just to important.

Debate continues in Georgia over a proposed 20-week abortion ban pushed by anti-choice advocates based on the erroneous claim that a fetus can feel pain at that point in its development.  But Georgia Right-to-Life, a key supporter of the bill, is getting concerned that some of the votes they need for passage may be slipping away.

And they aren’t going to let that happen.

Via the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Dan Becker, the president of Georgia Right to Life, is facing off with state House Republicans whom he believes might waver on supporting a bill that would cut the time for elective abortions and tighten medical exemptions for treating pregnant women. His confrontation with Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, who has anti-abortion credentials, left her flustered and complaining near noon Wednesday. Cooper said Becker threatened her political career.

Threats are apparently necessary in order to keep Republican votes in line.  The bill is being panned by numerous doctors who worry that they will not be able to perform life-saving procedures on women with medical complications due to a rule stating that a fetus “must be delivered in a way that tries to keep it alive.”

One anonymous OBGYN who specializes in later terminations calls it heartless to not allow women to abort “medically futile pregnancies.”

As a prominent Atlanta obstetrician told me this week, consider a woman who at 20 weeks discovers that her fetus suffers from anencephaly, which means it’s missing part of its head. The goal of his practice is to see high-risk pregnancies through to a healthy, successful live birth, but sometimes that just isn’t possible.
“The fetus has no skull,” he explained. “I don’t think many of us walk around without a skull. It is not going to survive no matter what you do. We tell the mother what we found, and we let her go through full counseling, grief counseling. And at the end of that, we give her the option of carrying that pregnancy or not.”
Under HB 954, that option would no longer be available.
That fetus will be carried to full term, under the false excuse of sparing it pain, and the result will be a baby “condemned to writhe in agony” as it dies shortly after birth.

Despite listening to the objections of many in the medical profession, the bill was left with no exceptions for a woman’s health or for nonviable pregnancies.

No exceptions…like so many other asshole sponsored bills throughout the country.

Some of this anti-abortion religious conscience crap has been knocked down in the courts over in Scotland. Midwives lose abortion duties case

Two senior midwives have lost a legal case in which they argued that having to supervise staff who carried out abortions violated their human rights.
The two women were challenging a decision by Greater Glasgow Health Board that neither was entitled to refuse to support colleagues involved in abortion procedures.
Judge Lady Smith ruled they were sufficiently removed from direct involvement to afford respect for their beliefs.

Video report at the link, take a look.

This next article is really going to piss some of you off.

Albany Bill Would Bar Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution –  Read the article and tell me WTF is wrong with this crap…

When she worked the streets, Yvette Gonzales said, she frequently saw other prostitutes working without condoms. But they were not having unprotected sex at the request of their customers.
Often, Ms. Gonzales said, the police would confiscate condoms when making a prostitution arrest so they could be used as evidence. And as soon as the prostitutes were released from jail, she said, they would go right back to work without protection; or refrain from carrying condoms at all, for fear of being arrested.
“It breaks my heart,” said Ms. Gonzales, who now works for a nonprofit group, the Positive Health Project, that counsels prostitutes, tests them for infection and provides them with free condoms. “The police need to understand: Don’t take their condoms. You’re taking someone’s health from them.”
Assemblywoman Barbara M. Clark, Democrat of Queens, and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Democrat of Brooklyn, have sponsored a bill to keep the possession of condoms from being used in criminal court as evidence of prostitution. The bill was first introduced in 1999 and has been re-introduced every year since, but has consistently died in committee. This year, its backers express optimism.

When is a crime to carry condoms?

The New York Police Department did not respond to questions about the proposal, but prosecutors said they wanted the option of including condom evidence at trial. “I oppose any law that would restrict our use of evidence,” said Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney. “Prosecutors in my office assess evidence on a case-by-case basis, determining what is appropriate in each situation.”

Excluding certain types of evidence from criminal court is rare, but not unprecedented. One example is the rape shield law, which limits evidence or questions in rape trials about a complainant’s previous sexual conduct.

Ms. Baskin said her organization had become involved in the issue because of the confusion on the issue that sex workers expressed during free legal workshops the group provided. “They’d ask us, ‘How many condoms can I legally carry?’ ” Ms. Baskin said, adding, “That’s a disturbing question, because it’s not a crime to carry condoms.”

I guess when you are a woman…it seems outrageous that a condom, and we are talking unused condoms, in the wrapper…can be used as evidence.

Most criminal cases end with plea deals. But in one that went to trial last year in Manhattan, the defense lawyer, Kate Mogulescu of the Legal Aid Society, tried to have the court exclude from the trial a condom that had been found in her client’s purse. The police said her client had confessed, but that alone was not enough to win a conviction. So prosecutors were using the condom, along with other evidence to corroborate the confession.

The judge, Richard M. Weinberg of Manhattan Criminal Court, said he would take the evidence for what it was worth, but his opinion became apparent when he added, “I’ll tell you again, in the age of AIDS and H.I.V., if people are sexually active at a certain age and they are not walking around with condoms, they are fools.” He acquitted the woman.

Damnit, what kind of society are we living in? I saw a tweet sometime this week that said it is illegal to purchase a dildo in Alabama, yet they are trying to make women have one fitted with an ultrasound device shoved up their vaginas if they want to have an abortion…

It makes me so mad. I want to scream.

Alright, one last link for you…how many assholes have I talked about tonight? Well I can add three more in one shot. ‘Fox & Friends’ Expanding by an Hour

Ay Dios Mio! As if three hours with the gang of bungholes weren’t enough.

That is it, I am off to enjoy a piece of apple pie à la mode. It’s the only thing that will make me feel better. See you later in the comments.


Thursday Reads: Lying Politicians vs Truly Egregious Behavior; Crazy Republicans; and More

Good Morning!!

I’m sick and tired of the Weiner story, and I know most of you are too; but I just want to highlight a few reactions that I found interesting–all G rated.

I love this Lambert post, especially this part:

ZOMG!!!!!!! Offensive behavior online!!!!!!!! [Too tired for the riffs about the pearl clutching and the fainting couch.]

Anyhow, so Weiner’s an asshole. And so what. As William Gibson said:

“Fortunately,” he said, “it isn’t about who’s an asshole. If it were, our work would never be done.”

Love that quote! As Lambert points out, these “ethics” investigations never seem to happen to people who engage in torture, election fraud, or handing over the U.S. treasury to banksters.

Speaking of assholes, Andrew Breitbart claims he still has one more “lewd picture” of Weiner that he hasn’t released–and it’s not the one going around today. Talk about an evil human being. Breitbart is disgusting. If you read to the end of that piece, you’ll find out Breitbart’s notions of female sexuality.

One person who seems to have a little sympathy for Weiner is Charlie Rangel.

“His most serious problem is keeping his wife and family together at this time,” Rangel said in an interview on Fox Business Network set to air Wednesday evening.

Rangel did not suggest that Weiner resign. Here’s what he had to say about “ethics” investigations:

“They may do that, and God knows, I know what people feel they have to do as politicians to protect themselves. It’s totally unbelievable, but it happens,” Rangel said. “They love you, but they love themselves better and they make political decisions not to how it affects you, but to how it affects them and their reelection.”

They are all slime, yet they presume to sit in judgment on others. What Weiner did makes me sick, but the rest of them make me even sicker.

Melanie Sloan of CREW says there is a double-standard operating in the many calls for Weiner to resign.

“This is a massive overreaction and I don’t understand it,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

She points out that Charlie Rangel was censured for serious ethical breaches, yet was not forced to resign.

Sloan explained that the mounting pressure on Weiner may stem in part from the early precedent set by House Speaker John Boehner when, at the first sign of sexual misconduct, he urged Reps. Mark Souder (R, Ind.) and Chris Lee (R, N.Y.) to resign, even though their behavior didn’t appear to involve any abuse of their office.

“A lot of people really hate Weiner, too,” she said, referring to Weiner’s colleagues in the House, some of whom are said to have been rankled by his personality and frequent media appearances.

What about Weiner’s denials before he owned up?

“A politician lying is not that unusual,” Sloan said. “If the new standard is that politicians are out the second they lie to us, then a lot of politicians could be gone.”

How true.

As egregious as Weiner’s behavior was, it wasn’t a crime. Here’s an example of truly egregious behavior: U.S. pediatrician on trial for raping toddlers

A Delaware pediatrician went on trial for allegedly raping or sexually exploiting 86 young patients, all girls except one and almost all younger than three.

Earl Bradley has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts against him, and sat quietly in gray prison scrubs as a veteran state trooper spent hours Tuesday describing the doctor’s cache of home videos of the assaults.

They were so “horrible,” testified state police detective Scott Garland, a specialist in forensic computer evidence. “They were beyond anything I had ever witnessed. Nothing prepared me for it.”

And then there’s this: Casey Antony told a fellow inmate that she used chloroform to knock out her daughter Caylee when she (Casey) wanted to party.

And how about this?

Gaddafi bought Viagra-like pills for troops to attack women

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he may ask for a new charge of mass rape to be made against Gaddafi following the new evidence. The chief International Criminal Court prosecutor is expecting a decision from judges within days on his request for crimes against humanity charges against the Libyan leader.

“Now we are getting some information that Gaddafi himself decided to rape and this is new,” Mr Moreno-Ocampo told reporters.

He said there were reports of hundreds of women attacked in some areas of Libya, which is in the grip of a months-long internal rebellion.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said there was evidence that the Libyan authorities bought “Viagra-type” medicines and gave them to troops as part of the official rape policy.

“They were buying containers to enhance the possibility to rape women,” he said.

“We had doubts at the beginning but now we are more convinced that he decided to punish using rapes,” the prosecutor said. “It was very bad — beyond the limits, I would say.”

Let’s move on to the horrors of the Republican 2012 presidential field. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, voters aren’t ready for a Mormon president.

Sorry, Mitt. John Huntsman is also a Mormon. I guess voters don’t mind looney religionists as long as they claim to be Christians though. Have you heard about Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan?

Pawlenty calls for sweeping tax cuts dubbed by some as “breathtaking.” He’d cut the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 15 percent, and eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest income, dividends and inheritances. There would be two tiers of personal income taxes — 10 percent and 25 percent.

Pawlenty would require Congress to reauthorize all federal regulations and radically reshape the federal government by privatizing services such as the U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak. He also would support an ill-advised balanced budget amendment. You could almost hear the corporate special interests uttering “check, check and check!” as the South St. Paul truck driver’s son ticked off items on their wish lists and then one-upped them.

Just reading about it makes me want to run out into the street screaming and tearing my hair out.

Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are supposedly feuding now because Ed Rollins said that Bachman is more “serious” than Palin. I had to really look around to find an article that didn’t call it a “cat fight.” Here’s Rollins, quoted by NPR:

“Well I’m going to work for Michele Bachmann if she runs. That’s the one that intrigues me the most at this point and I think to a certain extent she’s articulate, she’s a conservative. She’s got a great story to tell. She’s on the Intelligence Committee. You know, she’s unknown to the national audience, but she’ll become known and that’s the candidacy that I’m going to work for if she runs.

“Sarah has not been serious over the last couple of years. She got the vice-presidential thing handed to her. She didn’t go to work in the sense of trying gain more substance. She gave up her governorship. You know, I think Michele Bachmann and others have worked hard. She has been a leader of the Tea Party, which is a very important element here. She’s an attorney, done extraordinary things with family values and what have you. So I think she will connect. She’s a great, great communicator and I would say in the race today she is probably the best communicator.”

Kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Now check this out: Santorum Calls Abortion Exceptions To Protect Health Of The Mother ‘Phony’

Longshot GOP presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum stomped for votes in Iowa on Tuesday, trumpeting his “culture wars” message. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Santorum is selling himself as the leading social conservative in a crowded field. Yesterday in West Des Moines, he made an appearance at a “crisis pregnancy center” called Informed Choices that tries to talk women out of having abortions. Santorum said that he “separates [himself] from the rest of the pack” and criticized the other candidates for simply “checking the box” on anti-abortion issues.

When discussing his track record as a champion of the partial birth abortion ban, Santorum dismissed exceptions other senators wanted to carve out to protect the life and health of mothers, calling such exceptions “phony”:

SANTORUM: When I was leading the charge on partial birth abortion, several members came forward and said, “Why don’t we just ban all abortions?” Tom Daschle was one of them, if you remember. And Susan Collins, and others. They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective.

In other stupid Republican news, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a painting of poor and homeless children removed from the governor’s mansion. From Mother Jones:

Walker has made headlines again after he removed a painting depicting three Wisconsin children—one had been homeless, one came from low-income family, and a third who had lost family members in a drunk-driving accident. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the painting was one of numerous pieces of art commissioned by the fund that operates the governor’s mansion—works that were intended to remind the governor of the constituents he or she represents.

Here’s the Journal Sentinel on the painting by artist David Lenz:

In an interview, Lenz said he carefully selected the three children portrayed in “Wishes in the Wind.” The African-American girl, featured in a Journal Sentinel column on homelessness, spent three months at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission with her mother. The Hispanic girl is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. And the boy’s father and brother were killed by a drunken driver in 2009.

“The homeless, central city children and victims of drunk drivers normally do not have a voice in politics,” Lenz explained in an email. “This painting was an opportunity for future governors to look these three children in the eye, and I hope, contemplate how their public policies might affect them and other children like them.”

He added: “I guess that was a conversation Governor Walker did not want to have.”

In other news, at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, 77 army cadets were struck by lightening and hospitalized. Let’s hope they’ll all be okay. The weather sure is strange this year!

I’ll end with this interesting story from the LA Times: Autism linked to hundreds of genetic mutations.

Autism is not caused by one or two gene defects but probably by hundreds of different mutations, many of which arise spontaneously, according to research that examined the genetic underpinnings of the disorder in more than 1,000 families.

The findings, reported in three studies published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, cast autism disorders as genetically very complex, involving many potential changes in DNA that may produce, essentially, different forms of autism.

The affected genes, however, appear to be part of a large network involved in controlling the development of synapses, the critical junctions between nerve cells that allow them to communicate, according to one of the three studies.

Although the work will have no immediate value to patients or their families, the insights provide a wealth of targets to pursue in developing treatments for the disorder, scientists said. Understanding the genetic causes of autism spectrum disorders may promote more accurate diagnoses, and research on synapse formation and function could yield treatments that address the flow of signals between nerve cells.

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