McConnell Campaign Strategy Session Was Taped From Hallway

mcconnell

POST UPDATED (See end)

The FBI can stand down now. The “mystery” surrounding the alleged “bugging” of Mitch McConnell’s oppo-research meeting is solved. Via TPM, WFPL News reports:

A secret recording of a campaign strategy session between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his advisors was taped by leaders of the Progress Kentucky super PAC, says a longtime local Democratic operative.

Mother Jones Magazine released the tape this week. The meeting itself took place on Feb. 2.

Jacob Conway, who is on the executive committee of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, says that day, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, who founded and volunteered for Progress Kentucky, respectively, bragged to him about how they recorded the meeting.

Conway says neither the local nor the state Democratic party had any part in the incident.

Instead of wasting the FBI’s time, McConnell might want to invest in some soundproofing for his Kentucky campaign headquarters.

Morrison and Reilly did not attend the open house, but they told Conway they arrived later and were able to hear the meeting from the hallway.

“They were in the hallway after the, I guess after the celebration and hoopla ended, apparently these people broke for lunch and had a strategy meeting, which is, in every campaign I’ve been affiliated with, makes perfect sense,” says Conway. “One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording and they left. That was what they told to me from them directly.”

The meeting room door is next to the elevators on that floor. McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton has told multiple media outlets the door was shut and locked on Feb. 2. But the door has a vent at the bottom and a large gap underneath….if the conversation was audible from a hallway, it’s disputable whether recording qualifies as eavesdropping.

And perhaps McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton might want to tone down his public statements just a tiny bit. From Mother Jones:

A day after Mother Jones published audio of a Louisville meeting in which Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his campaign staff discussed opposition research on prospective challengers, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton has validated Godwin’s law by playing the Hitler card. In an interview with NBC News, Benton compared the leaking of the recording to Nazi Germany. “This is Gestapo-kind of scare tactics, and we’re not going to stand for it,” Benton told Michael O’Brien.

The Gestapo, who served as Hitler’s secret police from 1933 until 1945, were best known for enforcing a reign of terror typified by abductions and executions, as well as aiding and abetting genocide. That’s all quite a bit different than recording 12 minutes of a political strategy session or publishing a legally-obtained tape.

And there’s no evidence that the audio was the result, as the McConnell campaign has insisted, of a Watergate-style bugging operation. Still, that hasn’t stopped McConnell from taking the opportunity to play the victim, blasting out a fundraising pitch accusing the “liberal media” of “illegal and underhanded tactics.”

In other news, Mother Jones reports that

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit government watchdog, has asked the Senate ethics committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigationto probe whether aides to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell improperly conducted political opposition research on federal government time.

tape of a February McConnell campaign meeting that Mother Jones released Tuesdayincludes a section in which a McConnell aide states that McConnell’s “LAs”—congressional parlance for legislative assistants—helped gather background information on Ashley Judd, who was at the time considered a potential opponent in McConnell’s 2014 reelection race. The tape also refers to a “Josh” who worked on the research, which CREW’s complaint speculates might be Josh Holmes, McConnell’s congressional chief of staff.

Senate ethics rules forbid legislative assistants and other Senate employees from participating in political activities on government time. “In general, however, the ethics rules do not bar staffers from engaging in campaign activity provided they do it on their own time and do not involve government resources or property,” Tara Malloy, a government ethics expert at the Campaign Legal Center, told Mother Jones on Tuesday. You can read the relevant section of the ethics rules here. Bottom line: If McConnell’s aides did the research in their free time, they’re in the clear. But if they used government resources or worked on political matters on government time, they could be in trouble.

Bwwwwaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

This is an open thread.

UPDATE

More is coming out on this story. TPM reports:

Progress Kentucky Co-Founder Denies Taping McConnell Meeting

The co-founder of Progress Kentucky, a liberal group accused of recording a private strategy session by aides of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell on the potential candidacy of actress Ashley Judd, has denied doing so, at least according to Joe Arnold, a political editor for the local TV station WHAS11.

Democratic Official Now Talking To FBI About Progress Kentucky

The county Democratic Party official who outed two Democratic super PAC operatives in the Mitch McConnell secret tape case has been contacted by the FBI.

Jacob Conway, who sits on the executive committee of the Jefferson County, Ky. Democratic Party, told TPM on Thursday that he was going in to be interviewed at the bureau’s Louisville, Ky. office….

According to Conway, the FBI contacted him only after a local NPR station published its story in which Conway claimed that two local activists from the group Progress Kentucky, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, had admitted to him that they were the source of the recordings published by Mother Jones earlier this week.

Erik Wemple posted yesterday on the legal issues related to David Corn receiving the tape of McConnell and aides: How did Mother Jones obtain McConnell tape?

I’ll post any further updates in the comments to this post.


Tuesday Reads: Margaret Thatcher’s “Dark Legacy,” Death of a Feminist Revolutionary, and Mitch McConnell’s Ugly Plans

jason-patterson-hand-comes-out-of-basement-to-get-morning-paper-new-yorker-cartoon

Good Morning!!

The death of Margaret Thatcher is still dominating the news this morning.  It seems she was one of those public figures that inspired varied but passionate reactions–you either loved her or hated her.

Andrew Sullivan loved her it seems.

I was a teenage Thatcherite, an uber-politics nerd who loved her for her utter lack of apology for who she was. I sensed in her, as others did, a final rebuke to the collectivist, egalitarian oppression of the individual produced by socialism and the stultifying privileges and caste identities of the class system. And part of that identity – the part no one ever truly gave her credit for – was her gender. She came from a small grocer’s shop in a northern town and went on to educate herself in chemistry at Oxford, and then law. To put it mildly, those were not traditional decisions for a young woman with few means in the 1950s. She married a smart businessman, reared two children and forged a political career from scratch in the most male-dominated institution imaginable: the Tory party.

She relished this individualist feminism and wielded it – coining a new and very transitive verb, handbagging, to describe her evisceration of ill-prepared ministers or clueless interviewers. Perhaps in Toynbee’s defense, Thatcher was not a feminist in the left-liberal sense: she never truly reflected on her pioneering role as a female leader; she never appointed a single other woman to her cabinet over eleven years; she was contemptuous toward identity politics; and the only tears she ever deployed (unlike Hillary Clinton) were as she departed from office, ousted by an internal coup, undefeated in any election she had ever run in as party leader.

Her policies “inspired” the revolutionary reactions that created a “cultural transformation.”

Thatcher’s economic liberalization came to culturally transform Britain. Women were empowered by new opportunities; immigrants, especially from South Asia, became engineers of growth; millions owned homes for the first time; the media broke free from union chains and fractured and multiplied in subversive and dynamic ways. Her very draconian posture provoked a punk radicalism in the popular culture that changed a generation. The seeds of today’s multicultural, global London – epitomized by that Olympic ceremony – were sown by Thatcher’s will-power.

And that was why she ultimately failed, as every politician always ultimately does. She wanted to return Britain to the tradition of her thrifty, traditional father; instead she turned it into a country for the likes of her son, a wayward, money-making opportunist. The ripple effect of new money, a new middle class, a new individualism meant that Blair’s re-branded Britain – cool Britannia, with its rave subculture, its fashionistas, its new cuisine, its gay explosion, its street-art, its pop music – was in fact something Blair inherited from Thatcher.

Of course Sullivan no longer lives in Great Britain, and he has the means to avoid the worst effects of the elite’s austerity policies regardless of where he lives. Others aren’t so fortunate.

The Guardian reports: Margaret Thatcher’s death greeted with street parties in Brixton and Glasgow; Crowds shout ‘Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead’ during impromptu events.

Several hundred people gathered in south London on Monday evening to celebrate Margaret Thatcher‘s death with cans of beer, pints of milk and an impromptu street disco playing the soundtrack to her years in power.

Young and old descended on Brixton, a suburb which weathered two outbreaks of rioting during the Thatcher years. Many expressed jubilation that the leader they loved to hate was no more; others spoke of frustration that her legacy lived on.

To cheers of “Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead,” posters of Thatcher were held aloft as reggae basslines pounded.

Clive Barger, a 62-year-old adult education tutor, said he had turned out to mark the passing of “one of the vilest abominations of social and economic history”.

He said: “It is a moment to remember. She embodied everything that was so elitist in terms of repressing people who had nothing. She presided over a class war.”

Builder Phil Lewis, 47, a veteran of the 1990 poll tax riots, said he had turned out to recall the political struggles the Thatcher years had embroiled him in. “She ripped the arsehole out of this country and we are still suffering the consequences.”

Just as Ronald Reagan did to the U.S.–and we’re still suffering the consequences.

Here’s a video from Brixton.

Hugo Young, Thatcher biographer, writes in The Guardian: Margaret Thatcher left a dark legacy that has still not disappeared. For Young, a positive was Thatcher’s indifference to her popularity with the public.

I think by far her greatest virtue, in retrospect, is how little she cared if people liked her. She wanted to win, but did not put much faith in the quick smile. She needed followers, as long as they went in her frequently unpopular directions. This is a political style, an aesthetic even, that has disappeared from view. The machinery of modern political management – polls, consulting, focus groups – is deployed mainly to discover what will make a party and politician better liked, or worse, disliked. Though the Thatcher years could also be called the Saatchi years, reaching a new level of presentational sophistication in the annals of British politics, they weren’t about getting the leader liked. Respected, viewed with awe, a conviction politician, but if liking came into it, that was an accident.

But this attitude “didn’t come without a price” and “Thatcher left a dark legacy…”

What happened at the hands of this woman’s indifference to sentiment and good sense in the early 1980s brought unnecessary calamity to the lives of several million people who lost their jobs. It led to riots that nobody needed. More insidiously, it fathered a mood of tolerated harshness. Materialistic individualism was blessed as a virtue, the driver of national success. Everything was justified as long as it made money – and this, too, is still with us.

Thatcherism failed to destroy the welfare state. The lady was too shrewd to try that, and barely succeeded in reducing the share of the national income taken by the public sector. But the sense of community evaporated. There turned out to be no such thing as society, at least in the sense we used to understand it. Whether pushing each other off the road, barging past social rivals, beating up rival soccer fans, or idolising wealth as the only measure of virtue, Brits became more unpleasant to be with. This regrettable transformation was blessed by a leader who probably did not know it was happening because she didn’t care if it happened or not. But it did, and the consequences seem impossible to reverse….

[I]t’s now easier to see the scale of the setback she inflicted on Britain’s idea of its own future. Nations need to know the big picture of where they belong and, coinciding with the Thatcher appearance at the top, clarity had apparently broken through the clouds of historic ambivalence.

At least the British media isn’t trying to canonize Thatcher as the corporate media in the U.S. did to Reagan.

A Less Remarked Upon Death: Shulamith Firestone

At The New Yorker, Susan Faludi pays tribute to a feminist icon of the 1970s, “Death of a Revolutionary: Shulamith Firestone helped to create a new society. But she couldn’t live in it.”

When Shulamith Firestone’s body was found late last August, in her studio apartment on the fifth floor of a tenement walkup on East Tenth Street, she had been dead for some days. She was sixty-seven, and she had battled schizophrenia for decades, surviving on public assistance. There was no food in the apartment, and one theory is that Firestone starved, though no autopsy was conducted, by preference of her Orthodox Jewish family. Such a solitary demise would have been unimaginable to anyone who knew Firestone in the late nineteen-sixties, when she was at the epicenter of the radical-feminist movement, surrounded by some of the same women who, a month after her death, gathered in St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery, to pay their respects.
The memorial service verged on radical-feminist revival. Women distributed flyers on consciousness-raising, and displayed copies of texts published by the Redstockings, a New York group that Firestone co-founded. The WBAI radio host Fran Luck called for the Tenth Street studio to be named the Shulamith Firestone Memorial Apartment, and rented “in perpetuity” to “an older and meaningful feminist.” Kathie Sarachild, who had pioneered consciousness-raising and coined the slogan “Sisterhood Is Powerful,” in 1968, proposed convening a Shulamith Firestone Women’s Liberation Memorial Conference on What Is to Be Done. After several calls from the dais to “seize the moment” and “keep it going,” a dozen women decamped to an organizing meeting at Sarachild’s apartment.

I well remember reading Firestone’s book, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. It was mind-blowing stuff in those days.

In the late nineteen-sixties, Firestone and a small cadre of her “sisters” were at the radical edge of a movement that profoundly changed American society. At the time, women held almost no major elected positions, nearly every prestigious profession was a male preserve, homemaking was women’s highest calling, abortion was virtually illegal, and rape was a stigma to be borne in silence. Feminism had been in the doldrums ever since the first wave of the American women’s movement won the vote, in 1920, and lost the struggle for greater emancipation. Feminist energy was first co-opted by Jazz Age consumerism, then buried in decades of economic depression and war, until the dissatisfactions of postwar women, famously described by Betty Friedan in “The Feminine Mystique” (1963), gave rise to a “second wave” of feminism. The radical feminists emerged alongside a more moderate women’s movement, forged by such groups as the National Organization for Women, founded in 1966 by Friedan, Aileen Hernandez, and others, and championed by such publications as Ms., founded in 1972 by Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin. That movement sought, as now’s statement of purpose put it, “to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society,” largely by means of equal pay and equal representation. The radical feminists, by contrast, wanted to reconceive public life and private life entirely.

What a brilliant tribute by Faludi. It’s well worth the read.

Mother Jones’s David Corn has gotten his hands on a tape of “a private meeting between the Senate GOP leader and campaign aides reveals how far they were willing to go to defeat” Ashley Judd.

On February 2, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, opened up his 2014 reelection campaign headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, and in front of several dozen supporters vowed to “point out” the weaknesses of any opponent fielded by the Democrats. “They want to fight? We’re ready,” he declared. McConnell was serious: Later that day, he was huddling with aides in a private meeting to discuss how to attack his possible Democratic foes, including actor/activist Ashley Judd, who was then contemplating challenging the minority leader. During this strategy session—a recording of which was obtained by Mother Jones—McConnell and his aides considered assaulting Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views….

For much of the Judd discussion, McConnell was silent as aides reviewed the initial oppo research they had collected on Judd and weighed all the ways they could pummel her. The recording was provided to Mother Jones last week by a source who requested anonymity. (The recording can be found here; a transcript is here.) McConnell’s Senate office and his campaign office did not respond to requests for comment.

The aide who led the meeting began his presentation with a touch of glee: “I refer to [Judd] as sort of the oppo research situation where there’s a haystack of needles, just because truly, there’s such a wealth of material.” He ran through the obvious: Judd was a prominent supporter of President Barack Obama, Obamacare, abortion rights, gay marriage, and climate change action. He pointed out that she is “anti-coal.”

But the McConnell gang explored going far beyond Judd’s politics and policy preferences. This included her mental health. The meeting leader noted:

She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.

So what? Mitch McConnell is a sick, closeted, hateful old freak who appears to lack any semblance of human feelings.

I’m running out of space, so I’ll add a few more links in the comments. I hope you’ll do the same. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Evening Open Thread: Grrrr…..

$(KGrHqQOKkYE0+BgvkjUBN(F0pVDgw~~_35Good Evening

I’m in a bad mood, hopefully the Relpax I took will kick in.  Teenagers!  Nuff said.

I had a couple of links from Financial Times for you tonight, but the pay-wall is keeping me from posting them.

So, this is all I’ve got for you:

Sleep problems? Scientists warn of possible early sign of Alzheimer’s

Sleep loss can be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s, new research suggests.

The findings, from a study of apparently healthy volunteers, point the way to new methods of detecting and monitoring the disease, say scientists.

Evidence indicates that the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s runs in two directions. Alterations in the brain caused by the disease may disrupt sleep, and poor sleep also promotes the changes.

Lead scientist Professor David Holtzmann, from Washington University School of Medicine in the US, said: “This link may provide us with an easily detectable sign of Alzheimer’s pathology.

“As we start to treat people who have markers of early Alzheimer’s, changes in sleep in response to treatments may serve as an indicator of whether the new treatments are succeeding.”

Sleep problems are common among people with full-blown Alzheimer’s. The new research suggests they may also be a sign of early-developing disease and symptoms to come.

That article alone was enough to keep me awake all last night.

And then there is this crap: Ashley Judd Is Making Kentucky Democrats Nervous

What the hell is it with the democrats in Kentucky? That is ridiculous.

This is an open thread, and angry one at that….feel free to rant and rave in the comments.


Early Evening Open Thread: Housework Blues

106679084892834038_Ixq8WE7X_bGood Evening

Hey, I’ve got some funny things for you today. I am actually in a good mood. My laptop is getting fixed tomorrow, finally!

Early this morning, I saw a link on Drudge..about Ashley Judd. It went to the Daily Caller and it was your typical Drudge hyped-up link.  I wish I had taken a screen shot of it. But…anyway. I figured I would wait and see if anyone picked it up.

Yes, Potential Senate Candidate Ashley Judd Has Gotten Naked On Screen. So Have These Political Figures | Mother Jones

Late Sunday evening, the Daily Caller‘s entertainment editor Taylor Bigler posted a short item on actress, activist, potential US Senate candidate, and rape survivor Ashley Judd. The post notes that Judd, who seems to be laying the groundwork for a 2014 challenge to Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, has appeared in a bunch of movies naked, half-naked, or partially naked. The Caller piece cites her performances in films like Norma Jean and Marilyn and Eye of the Beholder, and is based on data from MrSkin.com, an online database of nude and sex scenes celebs have done on-screen. MrSkin.com—which I will decline to link to in this post—gives Judd four stars and ranks her as “Hall of Fame Nudity!”

(Click here to read my podcast partner Alyssa Rosenberg’s rage-filled rebuttal to Bigler’s post.)

Judd has discussed her nude scenes candidly before. She turned down an audition for the female lead in a 1992 Christian Slater film because the audition demanded a topless screen test. “My mother worked too hard for me to take off my clothes in my first movie,” she told People magazine. And in this interview with Delaware County Magazine, Judd opened up about stripping down for the sex scene in Double Jeopardy, one of the films referenced in the Daily Caller story.

“But will Judd be the first potential senator who has — literally — nothing left to show us?” Bigler wrote, with tongue firmly ensconced in cheek.

Actually, no.

MoJo goes on to document the Republicans who have bared all.

Another double standard link for you, There Is A Solution to the Housework Wars | The Raw Story

The Atlantic has been running content from this new book out about how middle class American families manage in this era of two-income families, a book called Fast Forward Family that I am now curious to read. I made gentle fun on Twitter of an earlier dispatch deeply analyzing who says hi to whom when they get home, but of much more interest to me is their research into the gendered division and management of housework. Hurt feelings when you get home from work are one thing, but the continuing expectation that women devote more time to childcare and housework than men is a major roadblock for women finally achieving social, political and economic equality. From every work level from working class jobs to executive offices, women lose out in the workplace because they have more to do at home, and find that they have less free time and opportunity to enjoy the lives they work so hard to maintain.

But the discussion of how to rectify this problem always stalls out the second anyone suggests that men step up and do their fair share of housework. Women are usually blamed, with men invariably complaining that their wives are somehow just born with higher standards for cleanliness and order.* Women are also blamed for not speaking up more, as if the time and energy investment—as well as the negative reaction you invariably get—that goes into nagging isn’t a loss for women. Women are also blamed for being control freaks that don’t “let” men do more around the house. The entire discussion gets so derailed into blaming women that men are conveniently forgotten. The problem of men not doing more is inevitably cast as women’s problem, and so if men don’t do more, it’s inevitably cast as women’s failure.

So what did the researchers find about division of labor and the stability/happiness of marriages? A lot that will disappoint the woman-blamers out there. The big thing is that they acknowledged what I call the “nagging differential”: Even if a couple agrees to split the housework fairly, the expectation remainst that it’s a woman’s job to keep track of what needs to be done and to do the hard work of assigning chores. Beyond just being unfair—keeping track of stuff is a chore and quietly leaving it off the mental spreadsheet is bullshit—this puts women in an impossible situation. If she assigns her partner his chores, she’s a nag, which no one wants to be. It often ends up being less work to do it yourself than to nag him into it. Thus, even when couples supposedly agree to do more, the fact that he’s waiting around for instructions effectively means he gets to do less work.

And one last link for you this evening…but in this link…the girl is getting the praise in a mostly male dominated scene.  Six-year-old breakdancing girl wows crowd at international competition | The Raw Story

Watch this video, this kid is amazing:

A 6-year-old breakdancing phenom is on the verge of becoming an online star after video of her performance at an international competition was posted on YouTube on Sunday.

The girl, identified as “Bgirl Terra,” was filmed competing in the “Baby Battle” division of the Chelles Battle Pro tournament in Paris against an unidentified older boy. The footage of their battle has already drawn more than 250,000 views in just two days.

Though no slouch himself, the boy quickly found himself just as impressed as the crowd; at one point in their battle, he points toward Terra in acknowledgement of her skills.

This is an open thread…


Sunday Reads: Pythons, Pooches and Dump-Blossoms

campanha_da_boa_bebida_coffee_brazil_ad_poster-p228037272153972480qzz0_400Good Morning

This past week I was watching TCM, and realized just how whacked out this world has become. Well, not this world, more specifically our world…here in the US.

Here is what I mean…while watching Anna and the King of Siam, the one with Irene Dunn and Rex Harrison, one particular scene got me thinking.

Remember when the King summons Anna one late night, because he has a question to ask her about the Bible and Moses claim of how long it took God to make the world ?

Anna and the King of Siam (1946)

King: Mem, I think your Moses shall have been a fool.

Anna: Moses?

King: Moses, Moses, Moses. I think he shall have been a fool. Here it stands, written by him: ‘The world was created in six days. ‘

[...]

King: Then what is your opinion of this thing as stated by Moses?

Anna: Your Majesty…the Bible was not written by men of science. It was written by men of faith. It was their explanation of the miracle of creation… which is just as great a miracle… whether it took six days or many centuries. I think science does not contradict the Bible. It has only made us more aware of how great the miracle was.

King: Well, I still think your Moses shall have been a fool. You may go.

 

I think the King would thing our current day GOP representatives are fools. What do you think?

Transvaginal Ultrasound: Rape Is Not A Medical Procedure

Judges split over birth control coverage and religious liberty

Birth control rules: The Catholic bishops are not impressed

Creationism Advocate Bobby Jindal Warns GOP Against Becoming ‘the Stupid Party’

Dennis Kruse, Indiana State GOP Senator, Pushes Creationism In Schools Via ‘Truth In Education’ Bill

“Intelligent design” bill in Missouri | NCSE- Local Story

Republican Bill That Would Allow Creationism To Be Taught In Colorado Schools Called ‘DOA’

A stealth antiscience bill in Indiana | NCSE

Leonard Pitts: Can GOP end the ‘carnival of the crazy’?

Howard Kurtz: GOP Swears It’s Not Stupid

I have to say, the GOP is not only “stupid” it is “crazy!”

Anyway, here are your links for today, the GOP has started blaming the Sequester on Obama…

From the Maddow Blog:  The 2011 ransom note and the GOP’s sequester

A Republican National Committee spokesperson, echoing his party’s favorite new talking point, insists this is all President Obama’s fault.

Tim Miller obviously isn’t the only one making this argument. On the contrary, every speech, interview, and press release I’ve seen from GOP officials in recent weeks includes an obligatory reference to Obama having come up with the sequester.

This next link makes me thing that perhaps the GOP are not completely “stupid” by showing they are a little frightened of Ashley Judd making a run on Mitch McConnell. From Vanity Fair:  Karl Rove, Apparently Not a Fan of Kiss the Girls, Launches Aggressive Anti–Ashley Judd Campaign

As evidenced by his embarrassing Election Night temper tantrum last fall, Karl Rove is not one to concede easily. Not when it comes to presidential elections; caloric restrictions, we guess; and completely speculative political runs by Hollywood figures. Proving the latter point, the Republican strategist’s American Crossroads Super PAC unveiled a digital ad against Ashley Judd on Wednesday. It has previously been reported that Judd is considering a senatorial run against Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the considerably less photogenic Senate minority leader who was voted the nation’s least popular senator late last year.

Emptywheel takes a look at a new law per Homeland Security:  Every Laptop and Cell Phone in Detroit (and Dearborn) Can Be Searched at Will

I’m not really sure how Detroit is supposed to pursue an arts-based resurgence if the Department of Homeland Security maintains that it can seize any electronics along the nation’s borders — which extend 100 miles and therefore include the bulk of the population of Michigan.

This next link was very interesting, a quick look at the Dawes Act in relation to Labor Laws: This Day in Labor History: February 8, 1887 – Lawyers, Guns & Money

On February 8, 1887, President Grover Cleveland signed the Dawes Severalty Act into law. The Dawes Act created a process to split up Indian reservations in order to create individual parcels of land and then sell the remainder off to white settlers. One of the worst laws in American history, the Dawes Act is not only a stark reminder of Euro-American colonialism and the dispossession of indigenous peoples, but also of the role dominant ideas of work on the land have in promoting racist and imperialist ends.

We might not think of the Dawes Act as labor history. But I want to make the beginning of a case that it is absolutely central to American labor history, a point I will expand upon in the future. Labor history is not just unionism. It is histories and traditions of work. The Dawes Act was absolutely about destroying traditions of Native American labor and replacing it with European notions of rural work. That it did so while opening more land to white people was a central benefit.

Read the rest at the link.

Looks like that python hunt in the Everglades isn’t doing so hot:  Florida Python Challenge Unsuccessful – Everglades Burmese Python Hunt Not Going Well

The idea for the competition — which ends on Sunday, the first day of the unloved Year of the Snake — was partially brain-fathered by Gov. Rick “I’ve ridden elephants — I’ve never tried to shoot one” Scott. The hope was to at least partially rid the land of the invasive Burmese pythons that have set up their own stronghold. The guy or team that grabs the most wins $1,500. The one who snags the longest, gets $1,000. Over 1,500 people from across the nation have waded into the park so far, and some, like the two dehydrated men, who are from Tennessee, have slept in their cars during the hunt. It costs them $25 to participate.

But even before the rescue, the competition hasn’t been going too well. As of Tuesday, only 50 had been captured. Not that it would’ve really mattered. As U.S. Geological Survey python expert Robert Reed told us a few weeks ago, “You won’t find any fewer than 10,000. But between 10,000 and 100,000? That’s anyone’s guess.”

Okay, from nasty snakes to cute puppies, Pooches on parade: man’s best dressed friend at carnivals across the world

Here’s a selection of dogs that are making a statement in dog parade sections of carnivals around the world.
AP
Click here to view the gallery

Last night on Discovery, they had their show on The Giant Squid.  This next article is also about squid, the flying kind…Revealed: the secret that makes flying squid faster than Usain Bolt

Scientists in Japan have calculated that squid can fly through the air faster than Usain Bolt can run, in a study that confirms the extraordinary aerial prowess of the edible mollusc.

A study based on photographs of flying squid in the Pacific Ocean estimates that they can reach a speed of up to 11.2 metres per second, which is significantly faster than the 10.31 metres per second that Bolt averaged in the 100 metre final at the London Olympics.

Over the past few years, a number of anecdotal accounts have emerged of squid streaking through the air above the sea for several metres and now a team of Japanese marine biologists have photographed them doing it en masse.

Be sure to take a look at that link, there are some images and diagrams that are so interesting…not only from the nature perspective, but also on  aerodynamic and hydrodynamic levels as well.

We started this post talking about stupidity and now we end it with a few links about stupidity. The first one is real, Thieves jailed after losing £2m loot

Two inept thieves who stole Chinese artefacts worth £2m from a museum but then could not find where they had stashed them were handed lengthy jail sentences.

These guys couldn’t remember where they stashed the loot. Guess in real life there are crooks that are too dumb and stupid to become successful crooks.

Earlier this week TCM also had another great film, Big Deal on Madonna Street, which if anyone has a chance to see it…needs to see it. It is hilarious. An Italian film from back in the late 50′s, in fact this link below is from the New York Times original review of the film, published in November 23, 1960.  Movie Review – Big Deal on Madonna Street – The Screen: Italian Parody of ‘Rififi’:’Big Deal on Madonna Street’ in Premiere Toto Among Bungling Burglars at the Paris –

A LONGTIME popular subject for vaudeville and music-hall farce, the butter-fingered burglar who thoroughly goofs while trying to rob a safe, is given a full-scale treatment and knocked out by a top name cast in the new Italian comedy, “The Big Deal on Madonna Street.” Directed by Mario Monicelli, one of the bright new directors on the Italian scene, this eventually explosive kit of cut-ups opened at the Fine Arts yesterday.

Obviously the film was calculated as an out-and-out parody of the French melodrama, “Rififi,” which was a bit in Italy. For the “big deal” referred to in that title (which was not the Italian title, by the way) is the contemplated burglary of a smalltime jeweler’s safe, and the fellows who conspire to do it try to lay out their plans in the same “scientific” fashion as did the robbers in that serious French film.

But, of course, they are not successful. In the first place, they have a terrible time getting all of their elements together and headed the same way. There’s that nice fellow (Marcello Mastroianni) who has a wife temporarily in jail and so has to mind the baby, which takes a lot of would-be burglar’s time. Then there’s the former prizefighter (Vittorio Gassman) who finds himself much more interested in the maid in the apartment through which the burglars will have to travel than he is in the burglary itself.

There’s the youngster (Renato Salvatori) who falls hopelessly and helplessly in love with the guarded sister of another of the conspirators (Tiberio Murgia), a Sicilian of hot and vengeful moods. There’s the little shrimp (Carlo Pisacane) who is forever concentrating on food. And finally there is the “expert,” a role that the wonderful Toto plays.

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This “expert” acknowledged as a genius in the business of blowing safes, knows all the techniques, all the laws, all the loopholes and all the slang words for the chisels and drills. He gives an exquisite lecture (which nobody quite understands). But he gracefully takes a powder when it comes time to the job.

And when that time comes, everybody—everybody who is left—becomes all thumbs. They sneeze, drop their tools with a horrible clatter, they drill holes into water pipes that jet cold streams and they set up a monstrous apparatus with which they laboriously punch through a wall—into an easily accessible adjoining room. At that point, in the cold, gray morning, they all give up and go home.

It was sooooo damn good, see a few clips at the TCM link below, you will not be disappointed.

Videos for Big Deal On Madonna Street

Well, I know this was a major link dump, but please enjoy these morning’s reads and try to stay warm. What are you reading and thinking about today?