Lazy Saturday Reads

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston's South End

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston’s South End

Happy Saturday!!

Once again, I’ve spent my early morning hours looking at pictures–this time I have a collection of Boston statues to share–there are gazillions of them here! I’ve got news too, of course.

Last week I wrote a post about a rape trial in Concord, New Hampshire. The case highlighted a culture of misogyny and sexual assault at St. Paul’s, an exclusive private boarding school. Well, the verdict is in.

The jury found Owen Labrie not guilty of aggravated rape, but they convicted him of several other charges, which could still result in jail time. NYT:

…after about seven hours of deliberations over two days, the jury appeared to dismiss Mr. Labrie’s insistence that he had not penetrated the girl in any way, but found that the state had not proved that what happened was against the girl’s expressed wishes.

The nine men and three women rejected the more serious accusations of aggravated sexual assault, as well as a misdemeanor assault charge of biting the girl’s chest, but convicted Mr. Labrie of three misdemeanors related to the girl’s age and involving penetration with his penis, mouth and finger. He was also convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and a felony charge involving use of a computer to lure a minor.

It seemed, one expert said, to be a compromise among the jurors.

The conviction on using a computer to abuse a child means Labrie will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Boston Globe: As victim in prep-school case feared, the jury didn’t think she did enough.

In the end, the jury believed her. Owen Labrie had sex with her when she was just 15.

But just like she feared, they didn’t think she did enough to stop him.

Over three days of testimony, the now 16-year-old girl described her encounter with one of the more popular seniors on the campus of her elite New Hampshire prep school last year. She described how Labrie, then 18, invited her to a rendezvous in a secluded St. Paul’s School building. She told of kissing him, of taking off her sweatshirt and then her shorts. And then feeling everything go way too far.

His fingers were inside her, then his tongue, then his penis. He wasn’t getting the message when she pulled her bra strap back on, held onto her underpants, pulled his head away from between her legs as she said no repeatedly, she said. She said she winced and stiffened as he penetrated her.

She should have never left her room that night, she thought, as she stared up at the ceiling and waited for it to end.

“If I had just been able to kick or yell at him,” she testified. “If I just had been able to get the point across. To push or do something. I could have stopped it.”

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

So they believed Labrie penetrated her when she was under the age of consent, but they still thought it was consensual? I don’t understand that.

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explains: The Odd Sexual-Consent Law That Explains the Bizarre Owen Labrie Verdict.

Like many states, New Hampshire has a “Romeo and Juliet” exception to statutory rape. Such exceptions allows individuals to have sex with minors if they are close in age. These laws are designed to allow teens to engage in consensual sex without fear of prosecution. Florida provides a good example: There, the Romeo and Juliet law creates a four-year bubble, so that an 18-year-old can legally have sex with a 14-year-old, but a 19-year-old cannot.

New Hampshire’s law follows this model—with a twist. It sets a hard age of consent at 13: Before then, all sex is illegal. After 13, the rules change. It isn’t illegal to engage in consensual non-penetrative sexual contact with an individual between ages 13 and 16 unless you are at least five years older than the younger person. (Think necking and fondling.) It is always illegal, however, to engage in penetrative sexual contact with any individual between ages 13 and 16. (16 is the universal age of consent in the state.)

Here, the Romeo and Juliet law only affects the severity of the punishment. If you have penetrative consensual sex with an individual between ages 13 and 16 but are within four years of age, you are guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault. If the age difference is more than four years, you’re guilty of felony sexual assault.

Labrie was 18 when he allegedly put his penis, tongue, and finger in a 15-year-old’s vagina. The jury did not find that the girl resisted, so he isn’t guilty of felony rape. But he still had penetrative sex with a girl under 16, the jury believed. Thus, Labrie is guilty on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, one for each form of penetration.

A couple more links:

Boston Globe: Owen Labrie and the ‘nerd defense’

Boston Globe: Prep-school rape trial: Read statements from the victim’s family, St. Paul’s School, and Harvard College.

The Boston Women's Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston's rich history - Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.

The Boston Women’s Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston’s rich history – Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.

 

I thought I’d share a heartwarming story with you for a change. My mom passed this one on to me.

IndyStar: Indianapolis radio contest sparks neighborhood feud in Muncie.

It wasn’t really a feud, just one nasty neighbor with no sense of humor.

High school student Hannah Brewer, with her mother’s permission, painted the garage door of their residence in an attempt to prove she is the biggest fan of the pop/punk band 5 Seconds of Summer, aka 5SOS.

“Get creative and prove you’re the biggest 5SOS fan on your garage door so the whole neighborhood can see it!” the radio station said in announcing the competition. “Color, paint, decorate … whatever you can think of! Just make sure we can see RadioNOW 100.9 … somewhere” on the door.

The winner will receive tickets to the band’s Aug. 22 concert and get to meet the four members backstage at Klipsch Music Center.

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: "Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!"

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!”

Hannah and her friend Morgan Whitmer worked on the garage door mural together “painting images of the band members, a message reading, “5SOS is kinda hot!” a skull, an astronaut and other things on the door.” An anonymous neighbor was so scandalized that she wrote the ridiculous letter:

Soon after that, an anonymous letter titled “A NOTE FROM YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD” was left in Brewer’s front door at 3305 W. Oaklyn Ave.

It said, “At first we all thought you had been a victim of vandalism on your garage, seeing how NOTHING like that has ever happened around here before … In case you haven’t noticed this isn’t LA or Chicago or Mexico and it certainly isn’t south Muncie.

“There is discussion of getting up a petition, calling the newspaper and retaining a lawyer in case you don’t do the right thing over the ghetto painting … We are all sorry we have had to do this but nobody has ever treated this neighborhood in a trashy manner!”

The author of the letter left another copy of it in the front door on another day.

Hannah’s mother Carrie Mote Craig, a teacher, called the police and learned there was nothing illegal about the painting. One police officer even came to their house and posed for a picture in front of the garage door. Craig then sent an explanatory letter to all of the neighbors and the girls ended up getting tons of support and lots of people stopping by to look at the painting.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who "challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs," and was put to death for it.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who “challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs,” and was put to death for it.

Well, it turned out that Hannah wasn’t eligible for the radio station contest, because she doesn’t live in Indianapolis. But when the station heard the story, the girls still got tickets and a chance to meet their favorite band.  Indy Star:

RadioNOW 100.9’s afternoon drive host Mike Klein and midday host Hunter personally delivered the good news to Brewer, a high school senior, at her place of work (Wendy’s) on Wednesday night.

“She didn’t actually win the contest,” Max Williams, marketing director at Indianapolis-based RadioNOW, said. “The reason why is she lives in Muncie, which is technically not part of our market. She was not even eligible to win according to the contest rules.”

However, “because of everything that happened and the extra exposure she got for us it is definitely worth her getting to meet the band,” Williams said. “The record label thought it was great extra attention to their band. They loved it, so we were able to secure the extra meet and greet and tickets. They won some pretty decent seats and will get to go backstage prior to the show and meet the band.”

It’s just a small story, but it gave me a good feeling, so I thought I’d share it.

How about some politics? I know, ugh. But there is some political news about Democrats today that isn’t about Emailghazi.

National Journal: At DNC Meeting, Hillary Clinton’s Quiet Moves Are the Ones that Matter.

MINNEAPOLIS—Hillary Clinton publicly bashed her Republican presidential rivals in the cavernous hotel ballroom here Friday, but her bigger accomplishment at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting was what her campaign was doing privately.

At a meet-and-greet at a nearby office tower, in small group sessions, and in one-on-ones behind closed doors at the meeting hotel, Clinton and her top staff worked the 700 or so “superdelegates” who will help choose the next Democratic nominee for firm commitments.

“They’re working really hard to solidify their count going in,” said Florida DNC member Alma Gonzalez. “It is a continual and consistent push.”

“This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination,” Clinton said at a brief news conference. She said the effort springs from one of the lessons learned from her failed run in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign took advantage of party rules to win more delegates even when failing to win the primary vote in a particular state.

“I got lot of votes, but I didn’t get enough delegates, and so I think it’s understandable that my focus is going to be on delegates as well as votes this time,” she said. “I’m very encouraged by the kind of response that I’m getting.”

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Two more links on this:

Bloomberg: Clinton Camp Says One-Fifth of Delegates Secured for Nomination.

Politico: Democratic elite rally around Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, other candidates were not happy.

Washington Post: Democratic challengers launch attacks against Clinton, party leadership.

What began as a routine forum of candidate speeches evolved into a surprisingly dramatic day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued thinly veiled attacks on Clinton and the party leadership.

Speaking from the dais, with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting a few feet away, O’Malley blasted the party’s limited number of sanctioned debates as a process “rigged” in favor of the front-runner. The DNC is holding six debates, only four before February’s first caucuses in Iowa, which O’Malley argued is a disadvantage for all the candidates and a disservice to Democrats generally.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” said O’Malley, who has struggled to gain traction in the polls. He added: “We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party.”

Sanders — who later told reporters he agreed with O’Malley — lamented low Democratic turnout in last year’s midterm elections and said the party must grow beyond “politics as usual” if it hopes to produce the level of voter enthusiasm required to retain the White House in 2016.

“We need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of that establishment,” said Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.

Asked later whether he was speaking specifically about Clinton, he told reporters, “I’ll let you use your imagination on that.”

Tough shit. Obama was completely ruthless in 2008, and it worked. I’m glad Hillary is following his lead.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

More news, links only:

Did you see Peggy Noonan’s latest word salad? Wall Street Journal: America is So in Play, and commentary from Gawker: Peggy Noonan’s Dominican Friend, Cesar, Works at the Deli Counter. Good for a laugh.

CNN: Church says Donald Trump is not an ‘active member’.

Meteor Blades at DailyKos: Clinton’s support for 50-state strategy the right move for any Democratic candidate.

Washington Post: Texas sheriff’s deputy ambushed in ‘execution-style killing’ at gas station.

LA Times: Manson family member Bruce Davis found eligible for parole.

LA Times: Bison attack: Man ‘played dead’ to escape after being gored.

From Vox, a very good long read: Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.

The Independent: Study reveals that a lot of psychology research really is just ‘psycho-babble’ (um . . . not quite what the study says)

Washington Post: No, science’s reproducibility problem is not limited to psychology.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend!

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden

 

 


Tuesday Reads: Black Lives Matter More Than Candidates’ Hurt Feelings

eric-garner-i-cant-breathe-protests

Good Morning!!

There has been quite a bit of discussion the past couple of days about the protesters who have been disrupting speeches by Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Why aren’t they doing this to Republicans? Why are they being so rude to Bernie Sanders, who many years ago marched for civil rights? There are people responding to these questions. Will the white people doing the questioning listen to the answers?

Here’s one response from Jamil Smith at The New Republic: #BlackLivesMatter Protesters Are Not the Problem. One year after Michael Brown’s death, both liberals and conservatives are still getting it wrong.

The activist group #BlackLivesMatter emerged out of the rage and mourning that accompanied George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin more than three years ago. However, the first time that the hashtag—and its accompanying message—entered the American lexicon to stay was one year ago this past Sunday, when Michael Brown, another unarmed black teenager, was gunned down by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, less than one month after an NYPD chokehold took Eric Garner’s life. On Sunday night, Ferguson reverted to its younger, violent self again, complete with a commemorative protest on West Florissant Avenue being met with police and things turning tragically violent in short order. And two days before the anniversary of Brown’s death, Christian Taylor became the 24th unarmed black man killed by police in 2015.

We might not have heard about Taylor in previous years because attention on black men, women, and children suffering violence and death at the hands of police, in particular, is now at a level unseen perhaps since the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo. That’s backed up by a new Gallup pollindicating that Americans describing themselves as “satisfied with the way blacks are treated in U.S. society” is lower than it’s been since before the turn of the millennium. Ever since Ferguson, it’s evident that #BlackLivesMatter, in many respects, has worked.

In the last year, #BlackLivesMatter has—much like Occupy years beforehand—fundamentally changed the national conversation about a major societal ill. The movement has made millions of people aware of the white supremacy they either perpetuate themselves or support with their silence. With the emergence of the 2016 presidential campaign, #BlackLivesMatter’s demands have become more acutely focused on the candidates, pushing for policy platforms that address structural racism. Yet, as we mark one year since Brown’s death, we’ve seen both liberals and conservatives—from Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters to Dr. Ben Carson’s—painting #BlackLivesMatter as a divisive force in U.S. racial relations. That someone might consider those fighting racism to be more divisive than racist people or structures would be laughable if black men in America weren’t seven times more likely to die by cop than white men.

black lives2

Yes, supporters of Bernie Sanders are upset that his events have been disrupted by black women protesting the killing of black men and women by police officers. Supposedly Sanders wants radical changes in the system, buit what are his proposals for changing structural racism in law enforcement?

More from Jamil Smith:

Sanders, given to touting his record of working for civil rights and uttering names like Sandra Bland since the Netroots incident, experienced a second interruption during a planned event in Seattle on Saturday. Two women and one man claiming affiliation with #BlackLivesMatter disrupted the event before the Vermont senator could speak. Some Sanders backers in the crowd booed when they were told that one of the women, Marissa Johnson, would get her say before the candidate. “Bernie, you were confronted at Netroots at by black women,” Johnson said before adding, “you have yet to put out a criminal justice reform package like O’Malley did.”

Having already responded to the crowd’s boos by telling them that they proved how “racist” the reputably liberal Seattle is, Johnson also called for a four-and-one-half minute-long moment of silence for Brown. Instead, more shouting from the crowd followed, including, per reports, shouts of “arrest her.” Sanders, rather than letting the protesters have their say and responding, left the stage. The event concluded without him speaking. A chorus of his supporters took to social media to question Johnson’s tactics—as if that’s what mattered most—and to tell anyone who dared question why Sanders didn’t have a set of racial-justice proposals that they somehow already existed. They were wrong.

A page entitled “Racial Justice” only appeared on his site early Sunday morning, containing a long list of proposals. A campaign representative reached out to me to say that those proposals, in the works for the three weeks since Netroots, were derived from a speech that’s been on the site since July 25. Given the pressure being put on them and the urgency they showed in creating the platform, it’s odd that the campaign put it online, essentially, under the cover of darkness.

The policies on Sanders’s racial justice page, while surely more welcome than none at all, are undeniably blurrier than those O’Malley put forth, and need considerably more specificity and clarity. There’s a lot of the typically forcefully liberal language Sanders likes to employ in order to inspire, but it seems even more fanciful than the O’Malley plan. But those ideas are certainly signs that he is hearing #BlackLivesMatter’s message. The problem isn’t so much him as it is his supporters, cursing protesters and later, on social media, touting their guy’s record whenever they are challenged on his (heretofore) lack of a platform regarding structural racism.

blacklivesmatter

Please go read the whole article if you want to understand the anger of the #BlackLivesMatter protesters. Personally, I didn’t know that the movement began long before the killing of Michael Brown. Here’s some background from one of the founders in a piece at The Feminist Wire dated October 7, 2014: A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza.

I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

We were humbled when cultural workers, artists, designers and techies offered their labor and love to expand #BlackLivesMatter beyond a social media hashtag. Opal, Patrisse, and I created the infrastructure for this movement project—moving the hashtag from social media to the streets. Our team grew through a very successful Black Lives Matter ride, led and designed by Patrisse Cullors and Darnell L. Moore, organized to support the movement that is growing in St. Louis, MO, after 18-year old Mike Brown was killed at the hands of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. We’ve hosted national conference calls focused on issues of critical importance to Black people working hard for the liberation of our people.  We’ve connected people across the country working to end the various forms of injustice impacting our people.  We’ve created space for the celebration and humanization of Black lives.

As their slogan spread to the mainstream, the creaters of the #BlackLivesMatter movement saw others trying to change the meaning of their words:

BlackLivesMatter-5

The Theft of Black Queer Women’s Work

Suddenly, we began to come across varied adaptations of our work–all lives matter, brown lives matter, migrant lives matter, women’s lives matter, and on and on. While imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, I was surprised when an organization called to ask if they could use “Black Lives Matter” in one of their campaigns. We agreed to it, with the caveat that a) as a team, we preferred that we not use the meme to celebrate the imprisonment of any individual and b) that it was important to us they acknowledged the genesis of  #BlackLivesMatter.  I was surprised when they did exactly the opposite and then justified their actions by saying they hadn’t used the “exact” slogan and, therefore, they deemed it okay to take our work, use it as their own, fail to credit where it came from, and then use it to applaud incarceration.

I was surprised when a community institution wrote asking us to provide materials and action steps for an art show they were curating, entitled “Our Lives Matter.”  When questioned about who was involved and why they felt the need to change the very specific call and demand around Black lives to “our lives,” I was told the artists decided it needed to be more inclusive of all people of color. I was even more surprised when, in the promotion of their event, one of the artists conducted an interview that completely erased the origins of their work–rooted in the labor and love of queer Black women.

Read more at the link.

content_copy-0f314f6905c8eaf3165a2b5681eb4152

Has Bernie Sanders responded to the prosecution of African American journalist Wesley Lowery yet? From yesterday’s Washington Post:

A Washington Post reporter who was arrested at a restaurant last year while reporting on protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been charged in St. Louis County with trespassing and interfering with a police officer and ordered to appear in court.

Wesley Lowery, a reporter on The Post’s national desk, was detained in a McDonald’s while he was in Missouri covering demonstrations sparked by a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old.

A court summons dated Aug. 6 — just under a year after Lowery’s arrest — was sent to Lowery, 25, ordering him to appear in a St. Louis County municipal court on Aug. 24. The summons notes that he could be arrested if he does not appear.

“Charging a reporter with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he was just doing his job is outrageous,” Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post, said in a statement Monday. “You’d have thought law enforcement authorities would have come to their senses about this incident. Wes Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place. That was an abuse of police authority.

“This latest action represents contemptible overreaching by prosecutors who seem to have no regard for the role of journalists seeking to cover a major story and following normal practice,” Baron continued.

It seems the powers that be in Ferguson have learned very little. Democratic candidates should address this issue and so should Bernie  Sanders, independent socialist.

content_copy-cfb117071464aadb2c9bbdd2cba04774

I’ll end with this post by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville: Sanders and #BlackLivesMatter, Again.

I can understand why Sanders was aggravated that his event was disrupted, and I can understand why people who had been waiting for an hour and a half to hear him speak were aggravated that his event was disrupted. But here’s the thing: If you are positioning yourself as a candidate who advocates for radical change, or you are supporting a candidate on the basis that he advocates for radical change, then surely you should be able to get on board with providing space to people who are involved with a campaign that advocates radical change.

If disrupting a rally is too radical for you, I don’t know how you expect to disrupt systems of institutional oppression, which will take way the hell more than an unexpected change in a campaign event schedule.

Don’t pretend you’re supporting revolution when you’re really just supporting a change in management.

content_copy-b7a6905ca2fa02868fe5d4f077ccdbcd

Sanders then released a “Statement on Seattle Protesters,” reading in total: “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.”

I’m going to go ahead and say: Maybe that’s true! Maybe there really is no other candidate currently running for president who will fight harder for dismantling racism than Bernie Sanders! Maybe it’s also true that each of the candidates currently running will take different approaches, and, because the activists involved with #BlackLivesMatter aren’t a monolith, there will be disagreement on whose approach is best. And maybe, no matter how good any of the white Democratic presidential candidates are on racial issues, it won’t be good enough. Maybe the inescapable fact is that white people must let black people speak on the large platforms created by and for white candidates.

Again, please go read the whole thing, especially if you are supporting Sanders. Personally, I support Hillary Clinton. I like Bernie, but I think it’s time for a woman President of the U.S. Sanders has no chance to win the Democratic nomination–he’s not even a Democrat! But he isn’t the problem. The problem is his supporters, who remind me of the Obamabots of 2008. Let Bernie handle this situation. My guess is he’ll respond to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, because he’s an intelligent man. He’ll probably get it right in the long run. I think Hillary Clinton will too.

This is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments to this post, and have a great day.


Friday Reads

 tumblr_mdfqgibK5W1r3vyizo1_500

Good Morning!!

Go Set A Watchman, the “lost” book by Harper Lee will be published on Tuesday, July 14, and you can read the first chapter at The Wall Street Journal this morning. Here’s the introductory blurb from the WSJ:

In 1957, when she was 31 years old, Harper Lee submitted her first attempt at a novel to the publisher J.B. Lippincott.

Titled ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ it was set in the ’50s and opened with a woman named Jean Louise Finch returning home to Alabama. Ms. Lee’s editor found the story lacking but, seizing on flashback scenes, suggested that she write instead about her protagonist as a young girl. The result was a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

‘Go Set a Watchman’ will be published on Tuesday. It has undergone very little editing. “It was made clear to us that Harper Lee wanted it published as it was,” Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins’s Harper imprint, said in a statement. “We gave the book a very light copy edit.”

The first chapter of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ introduces Ms. Lee’s beloved character, Scout, as a sexually liberated woman in her twenties, traveling from New York to Alabama to visit her ailing father and weigh a marriage proposal from a childhood friend. It also includes a bombshell about Scout’s brother.

–Jennifer Maloney

1394672188772.cached

The Irish Times on the conflicting stories about how and when the novel was discovered: New Harper Lee book may have been found years ago.

On the eve of the most anticipated publishing event in years – the release of Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchman – comes yet another strange twist to the tale of how the book made its way to publication, a development that further clouds the story of serendipitous discovery that generated both excitement and scepticism in February.

As HarperCollins, the publisher, and Lee’s lawyer, Tonja B Carter, have told it, Carter set out to review an old typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird in August and happened upon an entirely different novel – one with the same characters but set 20 years later – attached to it.

“I was so stunned,” Carter told The New York Times last winter. But another narrative has emerged that suggests the discovery may have happened years earlier, in October 2011, when Justin Caldwell, a rare books expert from Sotheby’s auction house, flew to Alabama to meet with Carter and Samuel Pinkus, then Lee’s literary agent, to appraise a Mockingbird manuscript for insurance and other purposes.

The discrepancy between the two accounts raises questions about whether the book was lost and accidently recovered and about why Lee would not have sought to publish it earlier.

Click the link to read the rest.

6888516_orig

Another interesting story from the Aiken Standard: Looking for traces of ‘Mockingbird’ in Harper Lee’s hometown.

MONROEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is always nearby in the southwest Alabama town of Monroeville.

The quiet city is the birthplace and current home of the 89-year-old author, and it inspired the fictional town of Maycomb in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book about race and injustice in the Deep South of the 1930s.

There are other spots around town that actually helped make “Mockingbird,” released 55 years ago.

Start at Mel’s Dairy Dream on South Alabama Avenue, a busy main road in the town of 6,300 people, and walk north toward the square.

The small block restaurant, ringed by service windows and a counter where customers plop down money for ice cream cones, stands on the site of Lee’s childhood home, which was torn down decades ago. Mel’s is just a short walk from the school where Lee attended classes and, by extension, her alter-ego Scout and Jem began their “longest journey together” at the book’s climax.

Lee shared the old house with siblings, her mother and father A.C. Lee, an attorney and Alabama legislator who was the basis for Atticus Finch. Finch returns in “Watchman” as his daughter goes home to Maycomb 20 years later as an adult to the town that shaped her, according to the publisher.

Next door to Mel’s and across a weathered stone fence is a grassy lot with the remains of a house foundation and a historic marker that recalls the site as the one-time home of author Truman Capote, Lee’s childhood friend and the inspiration for the character “Dill” in Mockingbird. As adults, the two collaborated on Capote’s classic crime story “In Cold Blood,” published in 1966.

Read more at the link.

120130105649-mockingbird-1-story-topTo Kill A Mockingbird was published in 1960; the film version came out in 1962. Links to some background on the movie:

Blu-Ray.com: The Making of To Kill A Mockingbird, by Robert Siegel (2012).

The Wall Street Journal: The Real Story Behind ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (2011).

The Daily Beast: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Makes Its Mark, 50 Years After the Film’s Release, by Sandra McElwaine (2012).

Turner Classic Movies: Behind the Camera on To Kill A Mockingbird.

Political News

Republicans are really excited about Bernie Sanders, and they seem to be doing everything they can to convince Democrats to vote for him instead of Hillary Clinton–you know, the woman who can beat any of the GOP candidates handily.

arts-graphics-2008_1128818aAt The Daily Beast, Stuart Stevens, one of the masterminds of Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 presidential campaign explains how Hillary is going to lose the primary to Bernie Sanders.

Here’s what we know has happened so far in the Democratic primary for president. Since Hillary Clinton started spending money, hiring staff and campaigning, she has lost votes. In Iowa and New Hampshire, she was doing better in the polls in January than she is today. Heck, she had more votes last month than she has today.

Politics is about trends and the one thing we know is that trends escalate in speed as elections near. Even starting out with the huge lead that she did, Clinton can’t allow Sanders to keep gaining votes while she loses votes in the hope that the bleeding won’t be fatal in the long run.

So far Clinton’s approach has been to try to demonstrate to the element of the party that finds Sanders so appealing that she is really one of them. This seems like an extremely flawed strategy that plays directly to Sanders’s strengths. If the contest is going to come down to who can be the most pure liberal, the best bet is on the guy who actually is a socialist. Particularly when running against someone with Hillary Clinton’s long record of being everything that the current left of her party hates.

The truth is, Hillary Clinton has supported every U.S. war since Vietnam. She supported not only DOMA, which her husband signed, but a travel ban on those who were HIV positive. She supported welfare cuts (remember her husband’s efforts toward “ending welfare as we know it”?). She supports the death penalty and campaigned in her husband’s place during the 1992 New Hampshire primary when he left to oversee the execution of an African-American man whose suicide attempt left him brain damaged.

And so on . . . bla bla bla . . .

Truman Capote and Harper Lee in Holcome during the filming of To Kill A Mockingbird

Truman Capote and Harper Lee in Holcome during the filming of To Kill A Mockingbird

Dylan Byers is very concerned about the New York Times choosing to leave Ted Cruz’s book of their best seller list.

Cruz’s “A Time For Truth,” published on June 30, sold 11,854 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen Bookscan’s hardcover sale numbers. That’s more than 18 of the 20 titles that will appear on the bestseller list for the week ending July 4. Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance,” which is #2 on the list, sold fewer than 10,000 copies. Ann Coulter’s “Adios America,” at #11, sold just over half as many copies.

“A Time For Truth” has also sold more copies in a single week than Rand Paul’s “Taking a Stand,” which has been out for more than a month, and more than Marco Rubio’s “American Dreams,” which has been out for six months. It is currently #4 on the Wall Street Journal hardcover list, #4 on the Publisher’s Weekly hardcover list, #4 on the Bookscan hardcover list, and #1 on the Conservative Book Club list.

This week, HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, sent a letter to The New York Times inquiring about Cruz’s omission from the list, sources with knowledge of the situation said. The Times responded by telling HarperCollins that the book did not meet their criteria for inclusion.

“We have uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explained when asked about the omission. “This book didn’t meet that standard this week.”

What was the problem with the sales of Cruz’s book?

“In the case of this book, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases,” she wrote.

That figures.

Gregory Peck with Harper Lee on the set of To Kill A Mockingbird

Gregory Peck with Harper Lee on the set of To Kill A Mockingbird

Following up on Jeb Bush’s “work e hours” gaffe:

Vox: Jeb Bush and longer working hours: gaffesplainer 2016.

Jeb Bush’s stated goal of 4 percent annual GDP growth, though unrealistic, in general sounds nice. But during a New Hampshire Union Leader interview live-streamed on Periscope, Bush got granular about his plan, revealing that part of the dream is for Americans to work longer hours. The Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign have both smelled gaffe and responded with mocking counter press releases, depicting Jeb as smug and out of touch.

tl;dr

Jeb is not being quoted out of context; he really said this.

Jeb is not mistaken: Longer hours worked would push up the GDP growth rate.

Americans already work abnormally long hours for the developed world.

Jeb has no particular policy ideas to make this happen.

Read the rest at Vox.

to-kill-a-mockingbird-movie-23769-hd-wallpapers

Josh Marshall at TPM: We’ve Met the Doofus. And He is Jeb.

Let’s look at what Bush said. In order to get to 4% economic growth forever, people need to work longer hours.

As our piece here notes, American workers already log dramatically more hours a week than they did a generation ago. They also work more hours a week than workers in any other industrialized economy. It’s sort of a judgment call whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. But unless American workers are part of a different species than people everywhere else in the world there are obviously limits to how many hours people can work every week without severe adverse effects on health, basic perceptions of quality of life and the quality of the work they do….

There are arguments that more people need to be working (there are also good arguments to the contrary). And there is a real problem with underemployment – people who are involuntarily working less 40 hours a week. But Bush didn’t say that more people need to be working (questionable) or that more people need to be able to get full-time jobs (true). He said people need to work longer hours….

It’s unclear to me whether Bush doesn’t even fully understand the policies his advisors are trying to explain to him or whether this is just standard patrician work ethic morality. Whichever it is, the real structural problem in our economy is stagnant wages for more than a generation for most of the population.

MockingbirdMore news, links only

Politico: Want to Meet America’s Worst Racists? Come to the Northwest.

Detroit Free Press: Judge jails kids for refusing lunch with dad.

The Hill: Pelosi ambushes GOP with Confederate flag resolution.

TPM: Rep. Behind Confederate Flag Vote: GOP Leadership Asked Me To Do It.

Raw Story: Here are 11 things other countries do way better than America.

Politico: 21.5 million exposed in second hack of federal office.

Philip Rucker at the WaPo: Hillary Clinton’s push on gun control marks a shift in presidential politics.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!


Tuesday Reads

L'Estaque, by Andre Derain

L’Estaque, by Andre Derain

Good Morning!!

I think my poison oak outbreak is improving a bit. The rash is still spreading and it’s still very itchy, but it’s a little better than it was. At least it doesn’t feel like my skin is on fire. I stopped taking the powerful antihistamine/anesthetic the doctor gave me and went back to Benedryl. I’m still very groggy this morning, but I think if I can put up with the itching and avoid taking more Benedryl, my brain fog should clear up by this afternoon.

I can’t really focus enough to do any serious reading, so this will just be a link dump of recent news stories.

I wish Donald Trump would just go away, but he’s determined to completely embarrass himself first.

TPM reports: Trump Lashes Out At Critics, Makes Incendiary New Claims About Mexico.

In the three-page-long statement posted online, the billionaire reality TV star reprinted the text in question from his now-infamous presidential announcement speech, which he says “is deliberately distorted by the media.”

“What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.,” he said in the statement.

Trump went on to say “many fabulous people come in from Mexico,” and also broadened his call for immediately securing the border by saying Mexican leaders are much more “cunning” when it comes to trade deals with the U.S. and that infectious disease is “pouring across the border.”

A Cup of Tea, Andre Derain

A Cup of Tea, Andre Derain

Read the entire creepy statement at the link. A little more from Business Insider: Donald Trump just released an epic statement raging against Mexican immigrants and ‘disease.’

“The largest suppliers of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are Mexican cartels that arrange to have Mexican immigrants trying to cross the borders and smuggle in the drugs. The Border Patrol knows this,” Trump wrote. “Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world.”

Shortly before releasing his statement, Trump gave an interview to Business Insider where he described the idea that the Mexican government is deliberately “pushing the bad ones” to the US as the one element of his position on immigration that hasn’t gotten enough attention….

Trump also argued the Mexican government “not our friend” and is taking advantage of the US on “bad trade deals.”

“The Mexican Government wants an open border as long as it’s a ONE WAY open border into the United States. Not only are they killing us at the border, but they are killing us on trade … and the country of Mexico is making billions of dollars in doing so,” he wrote. “I have great respect for Mexico and love their people and their peoples’ great spirit. The problem is, however, that their leaders are far smarter, more cunning, and better negotiators than ours. To the citizens of the United States, who I will represent far better than anyone else as President, the Mexican government is not our friend…and why should they be when the relationship is totally one sided in their favor on both illegal immigration and trade.”

Trump concluded by taking shots at some of the businesses who have severed ties with him.

“I have lost a lot during this Presidential run defending the people of the United States. I have always heard that it is very hard for a successful person to run for President. Macy’s, NBC, Serta and NASCAR have all taken the weak and very sad position of being politically correct even though they are wrong in terms of what is good for our country,” Trump wrote.

A man reading a newspaper, Andre Derain

A man reading a newspaper, Andre Derain

According to Business Insider, Republican donors are getting increasingly nervous about Trump: One GOP donor wants to block Donald Trump from the debate stage.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Worried about “Republican-on-Republican violence,” top party donors are taking action, with one firing off a letter calling for more civility and another seeking to block businessman Donald Trump from the debate stage altogether.

Foster Friess, a Wyoming-based investor and one of the party’s top 20 donors in the last presidential contest, issued a letter to 16 White House prospects and the Republican National Committee late last week calling for candidates to stay on the “civility reservation.”

“Our candidates will benefit if they all submit to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, ‘Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican,'” Friess wrote in a letter sent to Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press.

In the dispatch, Friess cites the backing of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts. “Would you join the effort to inspire a more civil way of making their points?” Friess wrote. “If they drift off the ‘civility reservation,’ let’s all immediately communicate that to them.”

Good luck with that.

Speaking of creepy people, Bill Cosby is back in the news.

The AP reports: Cosby said he got drugs to give women for sex.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby testified in 2005 that he got Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with, and he admitted giving the sedative to at least one woman and “other people,” according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The AP had gone to court to compel the release of the documents; Cosby’s lawyers had objected on the grounds that it would embarrass their client.

The 77-year-old comedian was testifying under oath in a lawsuit filed by a former Temple University employee. He testified he gave her three half-pills of Benadryl.

Cosby settled that sexual-abuse lawsuit for undisclosed terms in 2006. His lawyers in the Philadelphia case did not immediately return phone calls Monday.

Cosby has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct, including allegations by many that he drugged and raped them in incidents dating back more than four decades. Cosby, 77, has never been criminally charged, and most of the accusations are barred by statutes of limitations.

Portrait of a woman, Andre Derain

Portrait of a woman, Andre Derain

From NBC News: Judge Explains Why He Unsealed Bill Cosby Court Documents.

A federal judge said one of the reasons he unsealed court documents in which Bill Cosby admits he gave a woman drugs before sex is because of the disconnect between the comedian’s upright public persona and the serious allegations against him.

“The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct is a matter as to which the AP — and by extension the public — has a significant interest,” Judge Eduardo Robreno wrote in a memorandum Monday. The documents were released after a request from The Associated Press.

Cosby said in a 2005 legal deposition that he had obtained prescriptions of a powerful sedative to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex, according to the documents. His testimony was part of a civil suit involving a woman who accused him of drugging her and sexually assaulting her.

The actor was not charged in connection with these claims and the case was dismissed in 2006.

His lawyers had fought the documents’ release, saying it would be “terribly embarrassing.” Last month, Cosby’s lawyers and lawyers for the AP argued over whether Cosby was a public figure entitled to a lesser degree of privacy.

Robreno wrote Monday that the case “is not about the Defendant’s status as a public person by virtue of the exercise of his trade as a televised or comedic personality. Rather, Defendant has donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime.”

Crazy GOPers

Yesterday, a GOP state senator in South Carolina flipped out during the debate over removing the Confederate flag from the state house grounds, according to Raw Story.

The Dance, Andre Derain

The Dance, Andre Derain

‘The devil is taking control’: Watch SC senator derail Confederate flag debate with insane gay marriage rant.

South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright (R) began debate about removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds on Monday with a passionate plea for lawmakers to focus on same-sex marriage instead.

As the senators prepared to debate a measure that would remove the flag, Bright took to the floor to point out that President Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral for nine black church members in Charleston and then later that night the White House was illuminated in rainbow colors to celebrate a Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

“I watch the White House be lit up in the abomination colors!” Bright said. “It is time for the church to rise up…. Romans chapter 1 is clear, the Bible is clear. This nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and they are under assault by men in black robes who were not elected by you.”

Bright argued that lawmakers should be protecting county clerks from the “tyranny” of having to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples instead of debating the Confederate flag.

“Our governor called us in to deal with the flag that sits out front, let’s deal with the national sin that we face today!” he exclaimed. “We talk about abortion but this gay marriage thing, I believe will be one nation gone under like President Reagan said. If we’re not one nation under God, we’ll be one nation gone under.

Read the rest of Bright’s rant at Raw Story.

A couple of stories on the Democratic nomination race…

National Journal: Here’s the Real Reason Hillary Clinton Has a Lock on the Democratic Nomination.

Hillary Clinton is a near-lock for the Democratic nomination for many reasons, but among the most significant is that her challengers have minimal appeal to the party’s base of African-American voters….

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the challenger with the most momentum, represents a state that’s 95 percent white, where Asian-Americans and multi-racial voters outnumber blacks. He’s focused most of his campaign message on income inequality, constraining Wall Street excess, and campaign finance reform, while avoiding discussions on race relations, urban policing, or gun control. Only 25 percent of non-white Democratic voters said they’d even consider backing the senator’s presidential bid, according to last month’s NBC/Wall Street Journal survey.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, despite representing a state where nearly half of Democratic voters are black, has been unable to make inroads with his onetime political base. In fact, he drew some jeers when he returned to Baltimore in the wake of violent rioting that tore apart the city. As mayor, his tough-on-crime measures were popular with Maryland voters, but the no-tolerance approach alienated many African-American voters in the state’s largest city. Even some of his base-pleasing accomplishments as governor—such as his early support for gay marriage—hold limited appeal with black voters. In a recent speech, he awkwardly compared his experience as a “minority white candidate” for mayor to the broader African-American experience.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s other rival is more conservative than the entire Republican presidential field when it comes to the Confederate flag. Former Sen. Jim Webb, who was the Democrats’ Senate majority-maker less than a decade ago, now finds himself badly out of step with his party on civil rights issues. On Facebook, he called for “mutual respect” when considering the Confederate flag in a way that “respects the complicated history of the Civil War.” He will struggle to make inroads with minorities, given how out of step he is with an increasingly progressive Democratic base.

Polls in Iowa and New Hampshire may show Clinton with less-than-commanding leads over Sanders and everyone else, but take those results with a grain of salt; they don’t mean much going forward. Iowa and New Hampshire have among the most homogeneous Democratic electorates in the country, demographically disconnected from the party’s base in most other states.

The Trees, Andre Derain

The Trees, Andre Derain

At Vox, Jonathan Allen admits that reporters still follow the Clinton Rules: Confessions of a Clinton reporter: The media’s 5 unspoken rules for covering Hillary.

The Clinton rules are driven by reporters’ and editors’ desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family’s political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest.

I understand these dynamics well, having co-written a book that demonstrated how Bill and Hillary Clinton used Hillary’s time at State to build the family political operation and set up for their fourth presidential campaign. That is to say, I’ve done a lot of research about the Clintons’ relationship with the media, and experienced it firsthand. As an author, I felt that I owed it to myself and the reader to report, investigate, and write with the same mix of curiosity, skepticism, rigor, and compassion that I would use with any other subject. I wanted to sell books, of course. But the easier way to do that — proven over time — is to write as though the Clintons are the purest form of evil. The same holds for daily reporting. Want to drive traffic to a website? Write something nasty about a Clinton, particularly Hillary.

Read Allen’s take on the Clinton Rules at the link.

Finally, from Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: Why Bernie Sanders Is the Left’s Ron Paul.

In just a few months, Sanders has moved from the periphery of American politics to the mainstream, as the most visible and popular alternative to Clinton, vastly outpacing former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who recently announced his candidacy. But visibility isn’t viability, and there’s almost no chance Sanders will become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, even ifhe sustains his momentum into next year.

Despite the polls and the voting, presidential primaries aren’t popularity contests. Instead, they’re closer to negotiations, where interests and individuals work to choose a leader and representative for the entire group. That person has to appeal to everyone, from ideological factions and political power centers to wealthy donors and ordinary voters and activists. The candidate also has to show that he or she can do the work of a national campaign, from winning debates to raising money.

Clinton has done this. She came close to winning the 2008 nomination and spent the next seven years—right up to the present—building her stature in Democratic politics. A moderate liberal committed to most of Barack Obama’s domestic and foreign policy agenda, she’s acceptable to almost everyone in the party—in a national poll of the Democratic field from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, she has a whopping 75 percent of the vote.

Which brings us back to Bernie. Sanders is a fascinating candidate with a vital, underrepresented message in American politics. But the same qualities that make him unique—relative independence from the Democratic Party, a foundational critique of American politics—make him unsuited for a major party nomination, much less the Democratic one. The more moderate and conservative parts of the Democratic coalition won’t support a left-wing candidate like Sanders, and the more strategic voters—party stalwarts like black Americans—will be skeptical that Sanders could win the White House, even if they agree with his ideas and policies.

Read the whole thing at the link.

So . . . . what else is happening? Please let us know in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday.


Thursday Reads: The American Dream

The American Dream - post-war abundance

The American Dream – post-war abundance

Good Morning!!

What is the American Dream? Is it prosperity for everyone? Is it access to nature and a clean environment? Is it a good job, a house, a family? Is it a good education and the chance to be upwardly mobile? Is it a better future for your children and grandchildren? Is whatever it once was dead? Is it even worth talking about?

This morning there’s a Washington Post op-ed in which Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio describe their vision of “How to revive the American Dream.”

In this land of big dreams, there was never a dream bigger or more important than the one so deeply rooted in our values that it became known as the American Dream. Across generations, Americans shared the belief that hard work would bring opportunity and a better life. America wasn’t perfect, but we invested in our kids and put in place policies to build a strong middle class.

We don’t do that anymore, and the result is clear: The rich get richer, while everyone else falls behind. The game is rigged, and the people who rigged it want it to stay that way. They claim that if we act to improve the economic well-being of hard-working Americans — whether by increasing the minimum wage, reining in lawbreakers on Wall Street or doing practically anything else — we will threaten economic growth.

They are wrong.

That thinking is backward. A growing body of research — including work done by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and the Roosevelt Institute — shows clearly that an increasing disparity between rich and poor, cronyism and an economic system that works only for those at the top are bad for the middle class and bad for our economy.

american-dream

Warren and de Blasio are correct that the dream went terribly wrong after Ronald Reagan became president.

When the economy works for everyone, consumers have money to spend at businesses, and when businesses have more customers, they build more factories, hire more workers and sell more products — and the economy grows. For decades, our economy was built around this core understanding. We made big investments in the things that would create opportunities for everyone: public schools and universities; roads and bridges and power grids; research that spurred new industries, technologies — and jobs — here in the United States. We supported strong unions that pushed for better wages and working conditions, seeing those unions improve lives both for their members and for workers everywhere.

And it worked. From the 1930s to the late 1970s, as gross domestic product went up, wages increased more or less across the board. As the economic pie got bigger, pretty much everyone was getting a little more. That was how the United States built a great middle class.

Then in the early 1980s, a new theory swept the country. Its disciples claimed that if government policies took care of the rich and powerful, wealth would trickle down for everyone else. Trickle-down believers cut taxes sharply for those at the top and pushed for “deregulation” that hobbled the cops on Wall Street and let the most powerful corporations far too often do as they pleased.

109236-106995

All very true. But how do we return to fairness and prosperity for everyone, not just the wealthy few? Warren and de Blasio offer a familiar list of government policies that could turn things around–read them at the link–but they don’t explain how to accomplish these goals in the age of Citizens United, a Republican-controlled congress, and a Supreme Court that favors the rights of corporations over those of individuals. How do we get past the hopelessness and inertia and get Americans to get out and vote for candidates who will stand up for the bottom 99%? How do we even find those candidates?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m basically an optimist and I always have hope for change. But how do we get there from here?

I do think there are some positives signs.

Hillary Clinton is beginning to convince some folks that she’s really a separate person from her husband–a more liberal candidate than he was in the 1990s. In fact Bill Clinton might be more liberal now too. Despite what the Villagers preach, people can change and grow and develop new ideas an opinions. Imagine that Chris Cillizza!

American dream Tbird

One journalist who seems to be catching on is Charles Pierce. Here’s what he had to say yesterday: One Of These Is Not Like The Others: Two Clintons, No Waiting.

For all the noise about e-mails and honoraria, and all the passive-aggressive nostalgia for the Great Penis Chase of the 1990’s, something very interesting has been going on with Rodham Clinton’s campaign since she announced its official launch….

All during her husband’s administration, HRC was considered to be the more progressive of the two. She supported the accommodations he made to get re-elected, some of which were pretty damned ghastly. She also was one of the most vocal in defense of that administration against the organized ratfking that sought to destroy it. (The only mistake she made, as Calvin Trillin pointed out at the time was that she referred to a “vast right-wing conspiracy” rather than a creepy little cabal.) I once had a long conversation with a former Clinton lawyer. He told me that, if there were 1000 people in a room, and 999 thought Bill Clinton was a direct descendant of Jesus Christ, and one of them thought he was the spawn of Satan, Clinton would seek out that one person and spend the rest of the night and all the following day trying to change that person’s mind. That is not something anyone ever has said about Ms. Rodham Clinton. The edges of her triangulations are all sharp ones.

All of this is to point out that not only is the whole “two for the price of one” trope beloved of people whose politics came of age in the 1990’s outdated and inadequate, but so is the political strategy of the first Clinton Administration. Clinton herself seems to be acknowledging this political reality. She started talking on economics like Elizabeth Warren. Her speech on criminal justice reform was aimed at excesses many of which have roots in her husband’s law-and-order compromises in the mid-1990’s. (So, it should be noted, do many of the Patriot Act’s more controversial provisions.) For the moment, I choose to believe this is not merely a bow to political expedience, but something genuine and, if progressives are smart, infinitely exploitable.

the-american-dream-occupy-wall-street-27079246-593-261

Most of them will never get it, but maybe, just maybe Hillary can get her message out to the people who count–voters–and get them fired up enough to go to the polls in November 2016.

I also think it’s a good sign that Bernie Sanders has decided to run for president. No, he has no chance in hell of getting the nomination, but he might be able to get the media to publicize some of his ideas. He could also be a foil for Hillary, giving her an opportunity to draw attention to her more innovative and liberal ideas. Some of the latest news about Bernie’s efforts:

Reuters: Why socialist Bernie Sanders may just shake up the 2016 presidential race, by Robert Borosage.

Sanders is a funhouse mirror image of Clinton. She has universal name recognition (by her first name), unlimited funds, national campaign experience and a powerhouse political operation. He has scant name recognition, paltry funds, no national campaign experience and hasn’t begun to build a campaign staff. With a net-worth ranking among the lowest in the Senate, Sanders can be an authentic populist — the real deal. As one supporter said, he is the candidate of the “12-hour filibuster and the $12 haircut.”

Sanders’s announcement was treated with respect by a press corps eager for any kind of race on the Democratic side. Pundits dismiss his chances in part because Clinton is expected to raise a billion dollars or more for her campaign. Sanders hopes to raise $50 million.

But Sanders is likely to do far more than exceed low expectations. His candidacy could have a dramatic effect in building an already growing populist movement inside and outside the Democratic Party.

As Sanders made clear in his announcement, his focus will be on the central challenges facing this country: an economy that does not work for the vast majority of its citizens and a politics corrupted by big money and entrenched interests.

Sanders refuses to take part in politicians’ usual, incessant pursuit of large donations. So he is a political rarity: Someone free to speak forcefully to the often insidious connection between the two.

pdfbuddy_split2-page-001

Will people pay attention? I think it’s possible. So does David Horsey of the LA Times: Bernie Sanders’ ‘socialism’ may have mainstream appeal.

Finally, conservatives have a real socialist to go crazy about. Instead of concocting dark fairytales about how Barack Obama, a very conventional liberal Democrat, is a secret Marxist who wants to destroy the American way of life, they can shriek about Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who has never shied away from the socialist label.

Sanders is now the first person to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race to win the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Clinton, though, is not his real adversary, Sanders says. He refuses to make disparaging comments about Clinton and insists he has never run an attack ad in any campaign and will not do so against her. Sanders wants to take on the billionaires, not Hillary.

Nobody gives the 73-year-old Sanders a chance of stopping the Clinton political juggernaut, but some think he could make it veer to the left. If the Vermonter gets traction in debates and primaries with his unabashedly progressive positions, Clinton might be forced to match at least some of his rhetoric. Would that be a bad thing for Democrats? Not if enough beleaguered middle class voters get a chance to consider what Sanders’ version of “socialism” entails and like what they see.

Go to the LA Times link to read Horsey’s list of Sanders’ ideas that could interest voters.

0023ae72898c15b4310959

Sam Stein at Huffington Post: Bernie Sanders Raises $3 Million In Four Days.

With the help of a crew of former aides to President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) campaign has raised $3 million in four days for his presidential campaign — a dramatic indication that he won’t be confined simply to a long-shot role in the Democratic primary.

Sanders, who is running for president as a Democrat, announced on Wednesday that he has retained the services of the firm Revolution Messaging to run digital ads and online fundraising. The staffers with the firm who will be working on Sanders’ campaign include Revolution Messaging’s founder, Scott Goodstein, who ran the 2008 Obama campaign’s social media and mobile programs; Arun Chaudhary, who was the first official White House videographer; Shauna Daly, who served as deputy research director on Obama’s 2008 campaign; and Walker Hamilton, who was a lead programmer for that campaign.

“Like a lot of Obama supporters, we were looking for a candidate with a track record of doing the right thing — even if it meant taking on Wall Street billionaires and other powerful interests. A candidate who could inspire a movement,” said Goodstein. “Bernie Sanders is that candidate.”

Due to his long-standing criticism of the influence of big-money interests on government, Sanders has strong online and grassroots appeal, which he hopes to leverage to raise the money needed to fund a presidential campaign. And so far, the strategy looks savvy. The campaign has received roughly 75,000 contributions, and the average amount is $43. According to a campaign adviser, 99.4 percent of the donations have been $250 or less, and 185,000 supporters have signed up on the website BernieSanders.com.

Not bad.

What do you think? What does the American Dream represent for you?

As always, this is an open thread. Post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a terrific Thursday!


Monday Reads

Josep Balounek CoffeeGood Morning!

Well it’s my turn for a sinus infection I guess!  I’ve been trying to fight it with sleep and the usual but it just got the better of me yesterday.   Let me share a few quick links with you.

This one is a little out there but according to Michael Douglas, the HPV virus gave him his cancer.  He believes oral sex was the root cause.

The cause of Douglas’s cancer had long been assumed to be related to his tobacco habit, coupled with enthusiastic boozing. In 1992, he was hospitalised for an addiction which some at the time claimed to be sex. Douglas himself denied this and said he was in rehab for alcohol abuse. He has also spoken of recreational drug use.

HPV, the sexually transmitted virus best known as a cause of cervical and anal cancer and genital warts, is thought to be responsible for an increasing proportion of oral cancers.

Some suggest that changes in sexual behaviour – a rise in oral sex in particular – are responsible. Such changes might be cultural, but could also be linked to fears about the safety of penetrative sex in the wake of the Aids epidemic.

Mahesh Kumar, a consultant head and neck surgeon in London, confirmed that the last decade has seen a dramatic rise in this form of cancer, particularly among younger sufferers. Recent studies of 1,316 patients with oral cancer found that 57% of them were HPV-16 positive.

“It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the HPV type 16 is the causative agent in oropharyngeal cancer,” said Kumar, who also testified to increased recovery rates among this kind of cancer sufferer. This would help explain why Douglas was given an 80% chance of survival, despite the advanced stage of his illness.

But Kumar expressed scepticism that Douglas’s cancer was caused solely by HPV, and surprise at Douglas’s assertion that cunnilingus could also help cure the condition. “Maybe he thinks that more exposure to the virus will boost his immune system. But medically, that just doesn’t make sense.”

So, anyway, something to read more on if that’s the case.

A new Republican Woman politician has stepped into the role played by Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman. It’s called let’s sell out women! Congresswoman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) opposes Pay Equity Laws saying that women ‘Don’t want the decisions made in Washington’. 

Blackburn’s comments came during a round table on Meet the Press. The panel was discussing women’s increasing roles as the primary breadwinners in American families, and women’s general rise in the corporate and political arenas. After she asserted that companies — and her own Republican Party — had to do a better job of incorporating females into the workplace, former White House adviser David Axelrod asked Blackburn whether paycheck fairness laws would bolster women’s chances of achieving success. She responded by saying that Washington should stay out of the matter:

AXELROD: How about pay equity laws to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace?

BLACKBURN: I think that more important than that is making certain that women are recognized by those companies. You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein — that is what women want. They don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves.

But as the panel pointed out immediately before the exchange, companies are already “recognizing” and hiring more and more women. Women are now the primary breadwinners for 40 percent of all American families — a four-fold increase from 50 years ago.

The problem is that many of those women aren’t placed on equal footing with their male counterparts once they’re hired. Contrary to Blackburn’s insinuation, paycheck and workplace equity legislation isn’t about affirmative action — it’s about making sure that employers don’t discriminate against their workers on the basis of gender. Women in full-time, year-round jobs only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same level of work.

After all, who wants civil rights and liberty?vintage_cafe_posters_D285

I’ve often thought that basic idea of ‘state’s rights’ and of the right wing’s extreme distrust in the government was hooked historically to maintaining the institution of slavery in the south.  Guess I am not the only one.

Over the last several decades, the Right also built an imposing vertically integrated media machine that meshes the written word in newspapers, magazines and books with the spoken (or shouted) word on TV and talk radio. This giant echo chamber, resonating with sophisticated propaganda including revisionist (or neo-Confederate) history, has convinced millions of poorly informed Americans that the framers of the Constitution hated a strong central government and were all for “states’ rights” – when nearly the opposite was true as Madison, Washington and Hamilton rejected the Articles of Confederation and drafted the Constitution to enhance federal power.

Further, the Right’s hijacking of Revolutionary War symbols, like yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, confuses the Tea Party rank-and-file by equating the founding era’s resistance against an overseas monarchy to today’s hatred of an elected U.S. government.

Amid this muck of muddled history, the biggest secret withheld from the American people is that today’s Right is actually promoting a set of anti-government positions that originally arose to justify and protect the South’s institution of slavery. The calls of “liberty” then covered the cries of suffering from human bondage, just as today’s shouts of outrage reflect resentment over the first African-American president.

Senator Bernie Saunders has written an excellent piece in the UK Guardian saying that we can not except the status quo as the “new normal.” The worsening gap income inequality and wealth should not be acceptable.

The front pages of American newspapers are filled with stories about how the US economy is recovering. There is some truth to that. Since President George W Bush left office in 2009, significant progress has been made in moving our economy out of the abyss of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. But in the midst of this slow recovery, we must not accept a “new normal”.

We must not be content with an economic reality in which the middle class of this country continues to disappear, poverty is near an all-time high and the gap between the very rich and everyone else grows wider and wider.

The good news is that instead of losing more than 700,000 jobs a month as we were five years ago, we’ve been gaining almost 200,000 jobs a month since January. The bad news is that, in addition to those job numbers being much too low, nearly 60% of the jobs gained since the “recovery” are low-wage jobs that pay less than $14 an hour, while most of the jobs lost during the recession were decent-paying middle-class jobs.

The good news is that the official unemployment rate has gone down from 10% in October of 2009 to 7.5% in April. The bad news is that 20 million Americans still are looking for work and the real unemployment rate – counting those who have given up looking for work and those working part time when they need full time jobs – is 13.9% The very bad news is that youth and minority unemployment is far higher than that and, with the decline in factory jobs, income for poorly educated men has shrunk by nearly two-thirds over the past four decades.

I know this is a little short, but I hope you’ll understand.  I just don’t to seem to have much energy.  So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Reads: Unpredictable Weather, Rand Paul, and Other Odd News

Matisse-Woman-Reading-with-Tea1

Good Morning!!

I got about a foot of snow dumped on me by the latest storm, when the prediction the day before had been for about 3-5 inches. Boy were the predictions wrong for this one! Last night the Boston Globe weather blogger tried to explain “Why was there so much more snow than predicted?”

Now that the big storm is over, I am looking at why this was such a poor forecast. The basic reason was a bit more cold air than expected, more moisture and it lasted longer. No one expected so much snow to fall from 4 AM this morning until mid-afternoon. Storms usually need to be at roughly 40 degrees latitude and 70 degrees west longitude to give us a major snow event. Meteorologists around here call this the benchmark. If a storm passes near the benchmark, and it’s cold enough, we are often in for a good snowstorm. This storm passed hundreds of miles further east than that typical spot for a major snowstorm. One of the reasons I was confident in not seeing this size snowstorm, was the predicted distance of the storm from our area. That prediction by the models turned out to be pretty good. Temperatures were also forecast to be about 4 degrees milder. As it turn out, it’s sort of a good thing it ended up being colder because heavy wet snow of these amounts would have been catastrophic to the power situation.

I see . . . well, not really. Anyway, the stuff is melting already which is a good thing, because I wasn’t able to shovel my driveway out completely yesterday. We’re supposed to get temperatures in the 40s and 50s for the next few days, so I guess that will rescue me.  Now what’s in the news today?

I see that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is really full of himself after his “talking filibuster” the other day.

He’s got an op-ed in the Washington Post bragging, “My filibuster was just the beginning.”

If I had planned to speak for 13 hours when I took the Senate floor Wednesday, I would’ve worn more comfortable shoes. I started my filibuster with the words, “I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak” — and I meant it.

I wanted to sound an alarm bell from coast to coast. I wanted everybody to know that our Constitution is precious and that no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime. As Americans, we have fought long and hard for the Bill of Rights. The idea that no person shall be held without due process, and that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted, is a founding American principle and a basic right.

randpaulwords

I certainly agree that the president shouldn’t have the power to kill Americans without due process, but I’d be more impressed with Paul if he supported other constitutional rights like equal treatment under the law for minorities, women and LGBT people. I can’t take anyone seriously as a defender of the Constitution if he opposes civil rights and the right of a woman to control her own body.

According to Grace Wyler at Business Insider, Libertarians Believe Their Moment Has Finally Arrived. On the other hand, Chris Cillizza explains why Why the Rand Paul filibuster might not be such good news for the GOP.

Everyone seems to be calling Paul’s filibuster “historic,” and no one is even mentioning the (IMO) much more dramatic and impressive filibuster by Bernie Sanders just a couple of years ago.

Sequestration cuts, anyone?

While the Village media types focus on either fawning over or condemning Rand Paul’s performance, local journalists around the country are reporting on the damage being done by sequestration cuts.

The debate over sequestration this past week has come down to two questions: Was the administration exaggerating the impact of the spending cuts, and did they really need to shut down White House tours because of them?

It’s been the predominant theme at the White House briefings, a constant subject of discussion on cable news and a topic of fascination on Capitol Hill. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) even took up the cause at a press briefing this week, saying: “I think it’s silly that they have insisted on locking down the White House, which the American people actually own.”

Beneath that debate, however, is a different type of conversation about the impact of the $85 billion in cuts. While the national media has focused on those two questions, local coverage has been more directed at the tangible impact the budget restraints will have. The Huffington Post reviewed dozens of local television news broadcasts, using the service TVeyes.com, to survey coverage of sequestration outside of the Beltway.

Check out the many examples of real pain for localities at the link. And besides, according to Buzzfeed, Nobody Liked The White House Tours That Much Anyway. They’re only rated 3.5 on Yelp. Read the negative reviews at the link.

Interesting book review at The Daily Beast

The Girls of the Manhattan Project.

They were the employees of the gigantic uranium-enrichment plant at Oak Ridge, Tenn.—those who lived and toiled in this purpose-built secret city in the Appalachian Mountains, many of them young women, had only been told that their efforts would help bring home American soldiers. Then, when atomic power was deployed against an enemy nation for the first (and so far, last) time, Oak Ridge residents realized what they had been working toward, and why their every move had been monitored, their every utterance policed, and their every question stonewalled.

In The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II, Denise Kiernan recreates, with cinematic vividness and clarity, the surreal Orwell-meets-Margaret Atwood environment of Oak Ridge as experienced by the women who were there. They were secretaries, technicians, a nurse, a statistician, a leak pipe inspector, a chemist, and a janitor. “Site X” began construction in late 1942, and was also known as the Clinton Engineering Works (CEW) and the Reservation. Staff members were recruited from all over the U.S., but particularly from nearby Southern states, and were offered higher than average wages, on-site housing and cafeterias, and free buses.

More importantly, they were offered the chance to join the 400,000 or so American women performing non-combatant roles in the armed services, as well as those keeping vital industries afloat and helping the men on the front lines. But whereas a female Air Force pilot or munitions factory worker understood precisely her contributions to the war effort, the women at Oak Ridge were kept in the dark about the actual purpose of their workplace, a mystery heightened by the apparent lack of anything ever leaving the site. Provided with “just enough detail to do their job well, and not an infinitesimal scrap more,” workers at all levels were forbidden from taking the slightest interest in anyone else’s duties. “Stick to your knitting,” in the words of Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, head of the Project.

That sounds like a fascinating book!

ABC News reports on a scary new virus–the coronaviris.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Health officials are warning of a new virus that has sickened at least 14 people worldwide, killing eight of them.

There are no known American cases of the coronavirus, known as hCoV-EMC, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is urging doctors with patients who have an unexplained respiratory illness after traveling to the Arabian peninsula or neighboring countries to report the cases to the CDC.

Doctors should also report patients with known diseases who don’t respond to appropriate treatment, the agency said its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Close contacts of a symptomatic patient should also be evaluated.

The novel virus, which is associated with severe respiratory illness with renal failure, was first recognized last September and caused alarm because it is genetically and clinically similar to the SARS virus, which caused hundreds of deaths worldwide.

Read more at the CDC website.

A new archaeological theory about Stonehenge

The Guardian: Stonehenge may have been burial site for Stone Age elite, say archaeologists.

Stonehenge with a new moon seen through standing stones

Centuries before the first massive sarsen stone was hauled into place at Stonehenge, the world’s most famous prehistoric monument may have begun life as a giant burial ground, according to a theory disclosed on Saturday.

More than 50,000 cremated bone fragments, of 63 individuals buried at Stonehenge, have been excavated and studied for the first time by a team led by archaeologist Professor Mike Parker Pearson, who has been working at the site and on nearby monuments for decades. He now believes the earliest burials long predate the monument in its current form.

The first bluestones, the smaller standing stones, were brought from Wales and placed as grave markers around 3,000BC, and it remained a giant circular graveyard for at least 200 years, with sporadic burials after that, he claims.

It had been thought that almost all the Stonehenge burials, many originally excavated almost a century ago, but discarded as unimportant, were of adult men. However, new techniques have revealed for the first time that they include almost equal numbers of men and women, and children including a newborn baby.

I’ll end with this “chart of the day” from Business Insider:

“The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever”

moneygame-cotd-030813

I hope that’s enough to get you started on the day. Please share your recommended reads in the comments. I look forward to clicking on your links!

Have a great weekend!!