Tuesday Reads: NYT and WaPo Join With Fox News and Koch Brothers to Destroy Hillary Clinton’s Candidacy

woman-reading (1)

Good Morning!!

It appears that The New York Times and The Washington Post are determined to help the Koch brothers elect Scott Walker to the presidency in 2016. Dakinikat alerted me to this story by Dylan Byers at Politico:

New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News strike deals for anti-Clinton research.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have made exclusive agreements with a conservative author for early access to his opposition research on Hillary Clinton, a move that has confounded members of the Clinton campaign and some reporters, the On Media blog has confirmed.

“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” will debut on May 5. But the Times, the Post and Fox have already made arrangements with author Peter Schweizer to pursue some of the material included in his book, which seeks to draw connections between Clinton Foundation donations and speaking fees and Hillary Clinton’s actions as secretary of state. Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative research group, and previously served as an adviser to Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Naturally, Byers article is accompanied by an unflattering photo of Hillary.

Fox News’ use of Schweizer’s book has surprised no one. The bulk of the network’s programming is conservative, and the book’s publisher, HarperCollins, is owned by News Corporation. But the Times and Post’s decision to partner with a partisan researcher has raised a few eyebrows. Some Times reporters view the agreement as unusual, sources there said. Still others defended the agreement, noting that it was no different from using a campaign’s opposition research to inform one’s reporting — so long as that research is fact-checked and vetted. A spokesperson for the Times did not provide comment by press time.

In an article about the book on Monday, the Times said “Clinton Cash” was “potentially more unsettling” than other conservative books about Clinton “both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.

Anyone who calls either the Times or the Post “liberal” these days is either lying or ignorant. It both papers are morphing into something resembling The Daily Mail.

Peter Schweizer

Peter Schweizer

The author of the new “book,” Peter Schweizer is nothing but propagandist, as Media Matters demonstrates:

Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer’s Long History Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing.

Media should be cautious with Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer’s new book Clinton Cash. Schweizer has a disreputable history of reporting marked by errors and retractions, with numerous reporters excoriating him for facts that “do not check out,” sources that “do not exist,” and a basic failure to practice “Journalism 101.”

Read a compendium of evidence at the Media Matters link.

Echidne of the Snakes asks whether the Times and Post deals with Schweizer are ethical.

The Ethics of Journalism 101: Is it OK for NYT and WaPo to use Pre-Publication Opposition Research on Hillary Clinton?

I see three potentially serious problems with these exclusive arrangements.

First, depending on what newspapers are supposed to have as their objective*, getting opposition research on only one candidate can bias the reporting in the papers.  If conservative muckrakers are more diligent than liberal ones, the American people (how I love to be able to write that!) will be mislead, assuming that the Republican candidates might also have all sorts of skeletons in their mahogany cupboards.

Second, assuming that those at the newspapers know how to judge the research of Schweizer’s book may be a form ofhubris.  Or at least we should not just be told that there will be experts looking at all the stuff.

Third, and this links to my second point, using a book BEFORE it is published means that the newspapers won’t have access to the expert criticisms which follow the publication of a book.  It’s as if the book is allowed to hold the stage all alone, when the correct approach would be to wait to see what experts in the field might have to say about it.

It’s also important to note that Peter Schweizer writes for Breitbart. And Breitbart is crowing about the mainstream publicity their author is getting.

Scott Walker

As the NYT reported yesterday, David Koch has apparently picked Scott Walker as his preferred candidate for the Republican nomination. You have to wonder if Koch is completely detached from reality though.

From the New York Observer, David Koch: Scott Walker Would Defeat Hillary Clinton ‘by a Major Margin.’

Fuel mogul and conservative activist David Koch today declared to reporters that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would easily beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a general election—shortly after the co-owner of Koch Industries heard a private speech by the midwestern Republican at the Union League Club in Manhattan.

After meeting with Mr. Walker and a group of GOP donors called the Empire Club, Mr. Koch told the Observer that he believed the governor would trounce the former first lady if a sufficient number of Republicans get involved in the race.

“I think so, no question about it. You know, if enough Republicans have a thing to say, why, he’ll defeat her by a major margin,” he said, effusively praising Mr. Walker’s performance. “I thought he had a great message. Scott Walker is terrific and I really wish him all the best. He’s a tremendous candidate to be the nominee in my opinion.”

Mr. Koch said the Republican candidates should focus their primary season fire on Ms. Clinton to reduce her appeal among voters, arguing that she will most likely be the Democratic nominee.

Koch brothers

Will it work? Hillary commented on the strategy in Keene, New Hampshire yesterday.

ABC News: Hillary Clinton Says Republicans ‘Talking Only About Me.’

During her first visit to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton brushed off accusations about the Clinton Foundation‘s acceptance of donations from foreign governments, dismissing the reports made in a new book as simply being a “distraction” from the issues of her campaign.

“Well, we’re back into the political season and therefore we will be subjected to all kinds of distractions and attacks and I’m ready for that. I know that that comes unfortunately with the territory,” Clinton remarked at the end of a roundtable discussion at a local business here this afternoon, when asked by reporters about a new book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”

It seems the Koch brothers are opening controlling the choice of the Republican nominee. Today they announced they will give Jeb Bush a chance to be their pick instead of current favorite Scott Walker. From Mike Allen at Politico:

Koch brothers will offer audition to Jeb Bush.

In [a] surprise, a top Koch aide revealed to POLITICO that Jeb Bush will be given a chance to audition for the brothers’ support, despite initial skepticism about him at the top of the Kochs’ growing political behemoth.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz debated at the Koch network’s winter seminar in January, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made a separate appearance. Those were the candidates who appeared to have a chance at the Koch blessing, and attendees said Rubio seemed to win that round.

But those four — plus Jeb – will be invited to the Kochs’ summer conference, the aide said. Bush is getting a second look because so many Koch supporters think he looks like a winner. Other candidates, perhaps Rick Perry or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, may also get invitations.

Jindal is apparently not high on the Kochs’ list. He must be deeply disappointed after he has destroyed Louisiana with Koch-backed policies in his efforts to please the the powerful brothers.

For a change of pace from the mainstream Hillary hate and GOP love, I’ll end this post with Charles Pierce’s latest assessment of Scott Walker’s chances.

ScottWalker

Watching Scotty Blow, Cont’d: Governor Of His Own Fugue State.

Because it’s fking April, and because it’s fking 2015, and because I have something of a fking life, I decided to take in the Republican floor exercises up there in New Hampshire through the kind auspices of CSPAN. I was especially interested in the evening show provided by Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. I had to wait for John Sununu, Sr. to go through an introduction that lasted longer than the Good Friday ritual. (Sununu may still be talking. CSPAN cut away to listen to Walker.) But Walker was worth the wait. We heard about how he’s going to ride his Harley to Bike Week in Laconia this year. We heard the bit about buying the shirt at Kohl’s. We heard “go big and go bold.” We heard about the death threats. And we heard a lot of stunning misdirection about how rosy things are with the Wisconsin economy. (I was especially taken with how he boasted that he had turned his state into a right-to-work paradise, Walker having denied up and down throughout the last campaign that he had any such plans.) And there is no question. Scott Walker is the best Governor of Wisconsin that New Hampshire ever has had.

What we didn’t hear, of course, was that, back in America’s Dairyland, they may never get out of the death spiral into which Walker has shown the actual state he allegedly actually governs. His new budget is so draconian that even some of the Republicans in his pet legislature are starting to get nervous. And the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, a newspaper of wild ambivalence regarding Walker and his prospective candidacy,dropped a dungbomb on him that demonstrated that, while Scott Walker may have bought a shirt at Kohl’s, he isn’t qualified to run a cash register there.
Go to the Esquire link to read the rest and get the Koch Brothers and the mainstream media’s Clinton Derangement out of your mouth.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!

Saturday Morning Reads: Assorted Nuts

nutsGood Morning!

BB had to cover for me yesterday because my allergies were just going so crazy that I was dizzy most of the morning and afternoon.  The combination of four nights of cigarette smoke and Live Oak Pollen have me suffering like crazy.

I’ve been putting ice on my red, swollen, and sore eyes, taking benedryl so I can breathe, and coughing/sneezing like crazy.  The usual antihistamines have not been enough.  My voice is so husky you’d think I was on the make for some one.

The good news is that it stormed today and I think the trees are through that phase and all bars in New Orleans go smoke free on the 25th.  I only have a few weeks left and will I be celebrating like crazy.

Speaking of crazy, an Iowa Homeschooling event hosted a few of the nuttier Republican candidates and my governor proved he was right there riding the crazy train with Ted Cruz.   Ted Cruz called the boycotts of states passing bigot bills “waging jihad” against religious freedom.   I wonder if he realizes that majority of people in this country–including christians–support civil rights over bigotry dressed up as religion.

“We look at the jihad that is being waged right now in Indiana and Arkansas going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Cruz said during a panel moderated by conservative radio host Steve Deace on Thursday. “We need to bring people together to the religious liberty values that built this country.”

The religious values that built this country are basically called “separation of church and state” not enshrinement of one cult’s pet peeves.

Yes, Jindal was there and was just as idiotic. Iowa is the state where he and his recently retired aides have Nuts01residency these days. BB rightly points out that Jindal now seems to have something against corporate America.  That ought to make the Republican Donor Class run away.

The main theme at an Iowa homeschooling event yesterday attended by four potential GOP presidential candidates was what Sen. Ted Cruz called the gay “jihad” against religious liberty in the form of nondiscrimination laws.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to add a populist bent to his remarks on the topic — an increasingly popular strategy among LGBT rights opponents — by declaring that “an alliance of Hollywood elites and corporate America” are “assaulting the rights of Christians” by opposing measures like those in Indiana and Arkansas that would have given broad leeway to business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers.

“We need to remind these elites, America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.

Remember, “elites” mean people educated in facts not fantasy.  Jindal use to fancy himself one of those up until he switched from running for governor of Louisiana to leader-in-chief of the stupid party.

Huckabee and Santorum were there too with their usual brands of hate and stupidity. 

All of the hopefuls stressed their respect for and connection to home schooling. Jindal and Huckabee touted their state legislation supporting home schooling. Santorum noted “it’s great to be here with fellow home school moms and dads.”

He implored the parents to trust their judgment in choosing a president just as they trust themselves to make the best decisions about educating their children.

“Do not defer to the experts,” he said.

Home schooling isn’t easy, Huckabee said. He hopes there are enough Americans “who have the same conviction to make the sacrifice for the country that you are willing to make for your children.”

However, he worried that too many people will not make that choice.

There are 80 million self-identified evangelicals, but only half are registered to vote and only half vote in a presidential election.

“I worry there’s not the passion, the interest, and the commitment that is needed to get our country back where it needs to be,” Huckabee said. “You represent that passion.”

Jindal warned that winning the 2016 presidential race is not optional — “not because we are Republicans, not because we are conservatives, but because it is the future of our country that is at stake.”

“I don’t think we are beyond the tipping point, but I think it’s only four more years of this president’s policies, whether it is Hillary Clinton or whoever, we will get to that point,” he said.

Cruz drew a parallel between President Jimmy Carter and President Barack Obama — “same failed economic policies, same misery, stagnation and malaise.” The solution is another “Reagan revolution” by Republicans, Christian conservatives .and conservative Democrats.

“That’s what it’s going to take to turn this country around,” he said.

We’ve had enough of that kind of crap since the first s0-called “Reagan revolution.”  I think most of us recognize that nearly everything walnut-300he did has made us less. The biggest roots of income inequality came from the changes made back then. We’re living the results of less upward mobility and less real incomes daily now.  We’ve also seen assaults on women’s health and rights as well as assaults on science, public education and unions.  None of the outcomes have been pretty.

Republicans are already planning to run ads to assault Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid announcement.  She has them running scared and ugly.  One of the ugliest comments this weekend came from the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre whooping it up with his gun fetishists in Tennessee.

At the NRA’s annual convention today, Wayne LaPierre spent quite a lot of time in his speech talking about Hillary Clinton and how much they cannot let her become the next president. He joked about her history with various scandals, called her secretive, and asked if anyone really thinks she deserves to be the first female president.

Clinton is expected to announce her campaign on Sunday, but to LaPierre, another Clinton term in office should just mean more “scandal and deceit and self-serving behavior.”

And then, he offered this over-the-top dire warning:

“She will not bring a dawn of new promise and opportunity. Hillary Rodham Clinton will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair forced upon the American people to endure.”

As for the ugly ads, you can read about it in here.

The ads, highlighting controversies while Clinton was secretary of state and questions about foreign donations to her foundation, will run in swing states: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa, according to Raffi Williams, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.

“From the East Wing to the State Department, Hillary Clinton has left a trail of secrecy, scandal and failed liberal policies that no image consultant can erase,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “Voters want to elect someone they can trust and Hillary’s record proves that she cannot be trusted. We must ‘Stop Hillary.'”

That has been a Republican imperative for months. In Ohio, a state that Republicans historically have needed to win the White House, Clinton would beat any of the Republicans now considering a run, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. But Ohioans don’t many of those potential challengers, which will change in the coming months, and Clinton’s lead has slipped from a Quinnipiac poll two months ago.

I can only imagine they will be extremely misogynistic and hateful given that’s just about the Republican Playbook these days.

images (2)So, here’s something really nutty about Jeb Bush.  Why on earth has his voter registration listed him as Hispanic? 

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush updated his voter registration the day a New York Times story revealed he listed himself as Hispanic on the form in 2009.

A Bush spokesperson confirmed the change.

Bush, whose wife and three children are Hispanic, attempted to laugh off the mistake in a tweet.

If he can’t even check the right box on a simple question, would you trust this man with the button to our nuclear arsenal? Sheesh!

Okay, so this isn’t about a Republican nut, just a rapist nut.  Former Football player and rape drug using rapist Darren Sharper will be subject to a live time of penis monitoring.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing!

Convicted rapist Darren Sharper will serve nine years in prison for his crimes, but he won’t return to a regular life after he finishes his sentence. If two New Orleans judges approve the deal instead of issuing a 20-year sentence in Louisiana, Sharper will be treated as a sex offender, and closely monitored for the rest of his life.

The New Orleans Advocate has details of the pending agreement. After prison, Sharper would be on parole in California, registered as a sex offender and narcotics offender. He’d be tracked by GPS. After parole, he’d be moved to Arizona for probation for the rest of his life. Sharper would no longer be allowed to drink alcohol, go to a bar, use online dating, or travel more than 50 miles away from his home without permission from state officials. His penis would be also be monitored:

Sharper will be subject to lie detector tests and, while on lifetime probation in Arizona, to the “penile plethysmograph,” in which a sensor is attached to the penis while an array of sexual images flashes before his eyes, to gauge arousal.

(It’s unclear what exactly what the penile plethysmograph does or proves.)

Here’s an article from the NYD that explains just that.nuts-484262_640

Many convicted sex offenders are required to undergo this testing, which involves strapping a pressure-sensitive device to a man’s penis and gauging his reactions to stimulating pictures, video and audio, experts said.

Some experts said sex offenders’ responses — especially to “deviant” material — could determine their likelihood of reoffending.

Others contest the merits of penile plethysmography because it’s intrusive and not always accurate.

The test works by having sex offenders attach the device, which resembles an arm blood pressure cuff, to themselves in a separate room from a clinician at a doctor’s office or in prison.

The device measures blood flow to the penis, either through changes in the volume or circumference, as subjects view stimuli that are tailored to their problems or fetishes, according to guidelines by Oregon’s Department of Health.

Pictures and videos show people of different ages and genders partaking in various sexual scenarios and states of undress.

How often the test is conducted depends on the offender.

Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bowman told the Daily News he could not comment on how this testing would be conducted with Sharper because he could not discuss open cases.

Some experts claim penile plethysmography can help stop sex offenders from acting on their arousal by pinpointing what they’re subconsciously attracted to.

“Once an offender’s deviant sexual arousal patterns have been identified, treatment interventions can be introduced which are designed to reduce or eliminate these deviant response patterns,” the Council on Sex Offender Treatment wrote.

“Behavioral treatment teaches the offender the sequence of events leading to the commission of his deviant behavior and then provides the offender with specific methods to disrupt the offense cycle.”

It’s important to know what sex offenders’ deviant fantasies are, especially because self-reporting can be inaccurate, they said.

“Those sex offenders with the most deviant phallometry patterns have been found to have the highest recidivism,” the Council said, calling it “among the most successful” tactics.

But penile plethysmography can’t go as far as conclude whether someone will reoffend, David Samadi, the chairman of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital, told the Daily News.

I’m not sure if this actually works. I’m sure there are studies out there somewhere.

So, this is an open thread and please post whatever you want today!  Have a great Weekend!!


Monday Reads by The Numbers

letters-and-numbers-biagio-civaleGood Morning!

One of the hazards of my occupation is the use of statistics.  Statistics can be very useful for spotting trends and outliers in all kinds of things.  Many researchers and all politicians are selective about which statistics to share.  They generally want the outcome that proves their hypothesis or case.  I came across a variety of stories this weekend that caught my eye because descriptive statistics played a role.  I thought I’d share a few with you.

We are less than a year from the Iowa caucuses.  These odd little political happenings in an odd little state generally kick off the hopes and fears of presidential wannabes.  I lived in Iowa as a kid and my father owned a business there for 30 years so I know a little about the state and its quirks.  This essay in the Denver Post  makes some very good points to argue that  the “Iowa caucuses are a poor proxy for America”. Iowa manages to put forth some of the whackiest Republican candidates possible. They usually fail miserably when New Hampshire holds its primaries and fall out by the time the bigger states come into play.  Why does the press spend so much time in Iowa then?

Considering they are the first in the nation for presidential delegate selection, the Iowa caucuses present quite the contrast to the United States as a whole. Iowa is not remotely demographically representative of our nation.

It is significantly more white, rural and Christian than the national average. Only 12.4 percent of Iowans are minorities, while nationally minorities comprise 28 percent of the population. Thirty-six percent of Iowans live in rural areas or small towns, whereas in the United States overall, 19.3 percent do. About 54 percent of Iowans identify as religious, whereas 49 percent of Americans identify as religious nationally.

While the disparity in the level of religious involvement is not shocking, the percentage of those religious people who are Christian stands out. Of the 54 percent of religious Iowans, only .5 percent identify as Muslim, Jewish, or of Eastern religion. This is markedly lower than the 4.7 percent of Americans nationally who identify themselves as religious but practice a religion other than Christianity.

On a racial basis, the Iowa caucuses skew significantly from the national average. The attendees are really white. Indeed, at the Republican caucuses of 2012, a full 99 percent of attendees were white, while nationally about 89 percent of the Republican Party is white. There was virtually zero representation at the Republican caucuses from the near 12 percent of Republicans who are from minorities.

The makeup of the Democratic caucuses is somewhat more representative of America, but not much. In 2008, the last time there were contested caucuses in Iowa, 93 percet of Democratic caucus-goers were white, with 4 percent of attendees reporting as African-American and 3 percent reporting as another race. Nationally, in 2008, the Democratic Party was 66 percent white, 16 percent African-American, and 12 percent Hispanic.

Perhaps the lack of participation among minority voters has something to do with the caucus process itself.

JJ did an excellent job covering some of the events of International Women’s Day yesterday. One of the issues that has always been near and dear to me–and Patricia Arquette it seems–is pay equity.  Here’s some 42464400depressing numbers on that.  Basically, a report by the U.N. states that it will take 70 years for the gap to close at this rate.  That’s completely disheartening.

Women will continue to be paid less than men for the next 70 years if the gender pay gap continues to reduce at the present rate, according to a report by a UN agency released ahead of International Women’s Day.

The document published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) comes 20 years after 189 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women in 12 critical areas, including health, education, employment, political participation and human rights.

The historic agreement marked the first time that the UN recognised a woman’s right to control her own sexuality without coercion, and reaffirmed her right to decide whether and when to have children.

However, despite the agreement women still lack access to education, training, recruitment; have limited bargaining and decision-making power; and still shoulder responsibility for most unpaid care work.

And while women have slowly taken up more places in the global workplace since the 1995 Beijing Platform, the percentage that women earn in comparison to men has only crawled up by one point to 77 per cent.

The report also revealed that women across the world are also faced by a “motherhood pay gap”, over and above the gender pay gap, with women in developing countries suffering the most.

3f7497dab478e8f2fec261190f95b232The country of Germany has taken one step to increase the number of women in corporate boardrooms.  They’ve legislated quotas.

Germany on Friday became the latest and most significant country so far to commit to improving the representation of women on corporate boards, passing a law that requires some of Europe’s biggest companies to give 30 percent of supervisory seats to women beginning next year.

Fewer than 20 percent of the seats on corporate boards in Germany are held by women, while some of the biggest multinational companies in the world are based here, including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler — the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles — as well as Siemens, Deutsche Bank, BASF, Bayer and Merck.

Supporters said the measure has the potential to substantially alter the landscape of corporate governance here and to have repercussions far beyond Germany’s borders.

In passing the law, Germany joined a trend in Europe to accomplish what has not happened organically, or through general pressure: to legislate a much greater role for women in boardrooms.

The law was passed after an unusually passionate debate, and much talk of milestones, cracking glass ceilings and making history. Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her 10th year in power, was on hand as deputies in her governing grand coalition of center right and center left stood to register their votes in favor of the law, which passed by a simple clear majority. The small opposition of Greens and leftist deputies abstained, believing the measure did not go far enough.

“You have to be sparing with the word ‘historic,’ ” said Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who with a Social Democrat colleague, Family Minister Manuela Schwesig, spent months steering the law over legal and political hurdles. “But I think today we can apply it.” For Germans, he called the law “the greatest contribution to gender equality since women got the vote” in Germany in 1918.

With women still lagging globally in corporate offices, on governing boards and in pay, and many still struggling with family-work policies, pressure has been growing for legislative solutions.

Norway was the first in Europe to legislate boardroom quotas, joined by Spain, France and Iceland, which all set their minimums at 40 percent. Italy has a quota of one-third, Belgium of 30 percent and the Netherlands a 30 percent nonbinding target.

Britain has not legislated boardroom quotas, but a voluntary effort, known as the 30% Club, has helped to substantially increase women’s representation. The group, founded by Helena Morrissey, a money manager, has used persuasion to help double the percentage of women on the boards of major British companies since 2010, to 23 percent.

The United States has also seen women’s representation grow slightly, up to 17 percent of board seats, without legislative mandates, though its growth has been extremely slow.

In-Control-24x36-e1358464005233 There seems to be a definite movement by corporations and religious types to make sure that schools don’t teach any form of critical thinking.  That and other trends make for an interesting question of the direction of culture in the US.  Here’s a few numbers and question on that from The American Scholar and Scott Timberg.

Traditionally, bookstores were where aspiring writers earned a living, and where readers went for sustenance and community. Yet in the two decades since the mid-1990s, during which the U.S. population has grown by 60 million—we’ve lost half of our independent bookstores, and record shops have virtually disappeared. The causes are mostly technological and involve online outlets like Amazon. Meanwhile, in parts of Europe, especially the German-speaking world and France, independent culture merchants are at least surviving rough times, and some are thriving. Are Americans hopelessly mired in neoliberal economics, technology worship, and the logic of winner-take-all, or is there something we can do to save these places and the people who work in them?

If you really want a deranged use of statistics.  Take a look at what USA just let my Governor pen for them.  There is a total disconnect between what Jindal has written and what’s in the news about the Jindal “economy” on every newspaper in Louisiana.  Why on earth would a newspaper publish such obvious bull shit and propaganda?  Who owns that damned newspaper?

Seven years ago, I ran for governor promising to make the economy bigger and the government smaller. We have lived up to that, accomplishing in Louisiana what the federal government has failed to do. We have balanced budgets, drastically reduced the size of government and empowered growth in our private sector.

Our state budget is nearly $9 billion smaller, with over 30,000 fewer state workers, than when we took office in 2008. And guess what? After reining in the size of government and lowering taxes, Louisiana’s economy is stronger than ever.

Since 2008, Louisiana’s economy has grown nearly twice as fast as the national economy, and private-sector employment has grown at a rate of two-and-a-half times the U.S. rate, while our budgeting practices have earned our state eight credit rating upgrades. We now have more people working and living in Louisiana, with higher incomes, than ever before.

For next year’s budget, a dramatic drop in oil prices has meant less money for state government. That’s OK. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we plan to address this challenge by continuing to cut the size of government without raising taxes.

This is what was on USA Editorial page however.  “Growth has been sluggish in Louisiana and Kansas, and the plunge in revenue has devastated their budgets.”images

Here’s one worth steering away from: Governors in Louisiana and Kansas have been experimenting with big tax cuts that advocates claim will unleash explosive economic growth. The results have been dismal. Growth has been sluggish in both states, and the plunge in revenue has devastated both states’ budgets:

  • In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed a big tax cut through the legislature after he took office seven years ago. Since then, the state budget has gone from a nearly $1 billion budget surplus in 2007-08 to a projected $1.6 billion shortfall for the budget year that begins July 1. Jindal, who long ago took a pledge never to raise taxes, has cut higher education and resorted to unsustainable one-time remedies such as draining reserve funds and selling state assets.

Louisiana’s jobless rate has gone from much better than the national rate in 2008 to much worse. Jindal claims his state’s economic growth has beaten the nation’s, but he cherry-picks the years and doesn’t mention that since 2010, the state has lagged behind the national recovery.

There’s like a total disconnect between what they’ve said on their editorial page and what they let Jindal blather on about. What a contrast in the Orwellian use of selected statistics by Jindal and the reality on the ground.  Oh, if you want to see what exactly type of industry that Jindal’s bringing in check out this shady deal.   This is a three part special from AJ called “China’s Louisiana Purchase: Who’s building a methanol plant on the bayou?”  It’s by the numbers, textbook environmental racism.

ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — A prominent Chinese tycoon and politician — whose natural gas company’s environmental and labor rights record recently started coming under fire in the Chinese press — is parking assets in a multibillion dollar methanol plant in a Louisiana town. And he appears to be doing it with help from the administration of likely GOP 2016 presidential ticket contender Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Not many locals in a predominantly black neighborhood of St. James Parish — halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — know that Wang Jinshu, the Communist Party Secretary for the northeastern Chinese village of Yuhuang and a delegate to the National People’s Congress, is the man at the helm of a $1.85 billion methanol plant to be built in their town over the next two years with a $9.5 million incentive package from the state. The details of the project are unclear, residents say, largely because they were not told about the project until local officials, amid discussions with state officials and Chinese diplomats, decided to move forward with the project in July 2014.

“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose, a 74-year-old black Vietnam War veteran who works at a nearby church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”

The Chinese company has filed for expedited permits to construct and operate a plant on a sprawling 1,100 acres — situated between a high school, two churches and an assisted living facility for senior citizens — from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which is set to study the impact on the local environment and deliver its decision on March 6, 2015.

The plant is part of a recent push by New Orleans–area officials to reach out to Asia’s growing economic powerhouse to redevelop communities still devastated by the effects of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Some of those projects, it appears, have since gone sour. In one instance, which Al Jazeera will explore in the third installment of this series, a company contracted by the city government stands accused of stealing millions of dollars from Chinese investors seeking U.S. citizenship in exchange for building businesses in an underserved neighborhood.

Local economic development authorities told Al Jazeera that St. James Parish is an ideal location for the methanol plant because of readily accessible deep water and cheap fuel from the shale oil boom that will help cut production costs. But it remains unclear what the impetus is behind a methanol plant that plans to send the lion’s share of its product back to China, which is struggling to find a market for the methanol already being produced.

What is clear is that there are links between Wang’s U.S. subsidiary — Houston-headquartered Yuhuang Chemical Inc. — and the Chinese government and the Jindal administration.

e64a88734d242750dfeec0f1320ffc43It seems China’s tired of being a polluted pissing pot so they’re joining with Jindal to stick it the poorest of the poor in Louisiana. This story series is a freaking eye-opener.  Be sure to read all three parts.

Here’s a very sad story.  I used to love to go pick out sheet music at the local music stores and in music stores in big cities when I was young.  It seems the very last New York Classical Sheet music store has closed. 

Even the home to Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic isn’t immune to the realities of the digital age of music.

Frank Music Company, New York City’s last remaining store dedicated to selling classical sheet music, closed on Friday. Frank’s customers, a community of artists dedicated to playing music written with quills centuries ago, must now buy them online or download PDFs.

The store’s owner, Heidi Rogers, said dwindling sales killed the shop.

“Musicians are underpaid,” she said. “How can they buy music if they’re not getting paid enough?”

Here’s a number that’s a good one.  Baby giant tortoises were born on one of the Galapagos Islands for the first time in more than a century!!

For the first time in more than one hundred years, researchers have found newborn baby tortoises on the tiny Galapagos island of Pinzón. It’s a major win for a population that has struggled after being nearly decimated by human impact.

“We found ten tiny, newly hatched saddleback tortoises on the island early last month,” wrote a trio of researchers in the January 15th issue of the journal Nature. “There could be many more, because their size and camouflage makes them hard to spot. Our discovery indicates that the giant tortoise is once again able to reproduce on its own in the wild.”

So, that’s it for me today.  Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve gone back to gigging to try to make ends meet.  Yesterday, I played the most unique church service I’ve ever done.  Well, the service wasn’t unique if you understood Norwegian.  It was at the Norwegian Seaman’s church. It’s a Lutheran church funded by the Norwegian government for expats and visiting Norwegians.  It was truly an experience!  Oh, and Norwegian waffles are the best!!!  So, that’s the first adventure.  My second adventure will be on Bourbon Street where I will be playing three shows a night (4 times a week) as the straight woman and accompanist to Ms. Jessica Duplantier who is and up and comer and sure to head straight to RuPaul’s reality show Drag Race!!! So, how’s that for a stuffy old Finance professor?  Yes, there will be pictures, I promise!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Any good news out there?


Monday Reads: We Do Not Welcome our Corporate Overlords

Beetlegeuse Chewbacchus 2015Good Morning!

The Krewe of Chewbacchus rolled through my neighborhood Saturday night.  I decided to post some of the photos I took of the participants to liven up the thread today.  The parade is a celebration of Fantasy and SF books, movies, games, and TV series.  More professional pictures can be found here. See if you can recognize them!  I only wish the celebration of fantasy was limited to movies and books.  Unfortunately, it isn’t and the Koch Brothers fantasy economics plans are ruining states around the country.

I keep having conversations with people who are either politically active or politically knowledgeable about finding a way out of our current mess.   There are several key problems that seem out of the hands of voters to solve. At least, those voters that actually vote.

Things have been on the down slope since the Reagan administration but have really picked up steam with the final fifth vote locked into the Supreme Court. The Citizen’s United Decision is throttling American Democracy which is why we really need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine among other things.  It seems odd that Brian Williams can be hounded out of journalism for one mistaken memory when at least 60%–if not more–of what Fox broadcasts daily is an out and out lie.  Is Facism on the rise in America and what can we do to stop it?

As the American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Well, it it may well on our doorstep.  And the oligarchs are plotting their final takeover by using their economic dominance to capture governmental power – specifically, the governmental power which sets the rules for the very marketplace that provides the oligarchs with such massive wealth.

Once the American corporate barons own the institutions that are meant to regulate them, it’s game-over for both rational capitalism (including competition) and for democracy.

Last week, at David and Charles Koch’s annual winter meeting near Palm Springs, California, it was announced that the Koch Brothers’ political organization would spend close to $900 million on the 2016 election.  If this goal is met, the group of corporate leaders will spend far more than the Republican Party and its congressional campaign committees spent, combined, in the 2012 campaign.

Once upon a time, it would have been illegal for the Koch Brothers and their fellow oligarchs to buy an election.  Of course, that time was before the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

In 2010, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, presented the best opportunity for the Roberts Court to use its five vote majority to totally re-write the face of politics in America, rolling us back to the pre-1907 era of the Robber Barons.

As Jeffrey Toobin wrote in The New Yorker (“No More Mr. Nice Guy”): “In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.

You can see the influence of the Koch Brothers money in the states that have Republican Governors.  It is pimp darth chewbacchus 2015especially true of those Republican Governors with presidential aspirations who want the promised $1 billion the Kochs have pledged for the next campaign cycle.  I want to cover Bobby Jindal, Louisiana, and the horrible budget problems that we have from Jindal’s campaign to please the Kochs.  But first, I’d like to tell you what Scott Walker is doing to one of the nation’s premier public universities.

One of the major things the Kochs hate is people that aren’t miseducated or trained to be working zombies.  This fits right in with their agenda.This is similar to what’s going on with the destruction of public education and universities in Louisiana and similar issues in Kansas, both of which have Koch sucking Governors.

More than 35,000 public employees would be removed from state government rolls if Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal stays intact through the legislative process.

Walker’s 2015-17 budget proposal, which was introduced Tuesday, makes major changes to the operation of the state’s University of Wisconsin System. The second-term governor’s plan would split off the system into its own public entity.

By creating a separate authority for the University of Wisconsin System, it would no longer be under the direct management of the state.

According to Walker, University of Wisconsin System supporters have been asking for more autonomy for years, claiming it would help cut costs and better serve students. The Republican governor’s plan also includes a $150 million funding cut in each year of his biennial budget in exchange for the greater autonomy.

The annual reduction is equivalent to a 2.5 percent cut in total public funding. Opponents of Walker’s reform have claimed aid is being cut by 13 percent. That, however, only takes into consideration general fund spending from the state.

He also tried to actually change the mission of the University.

You might think that changing the mission of a flagship public university would be an issue put up for public discussion. Not in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker submitted a budget proposal that included language that would have changed the century-old mission of the University of Wisconsin system — known as the Wisconsin Idea and embedded in the state code  — by removing words that commanded the university to “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” and replacing them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

Walker, in a budget speech given earlier this week, didn’t bother to mention the change, which is more than a simple issue of semantics. There is a national debate about what the role of colleges and universities should be. One group, including Walker, see higher education in big part as a training ground for workers in the American workplace; another sees college education as a way to broaden the minds of young people and teach them how to be active, productive citizens of the country.

brainsHe earlier tried to tell University faculty and staff that they needed to work harder and not include “service” in their list of duties.   This is all part of the privatization craze that attempts to put union workers and public servants into the parasite category.  However, when privatized, the same workers suddenly are doing something valuable with lower compensation so that management and stockholders can skim profits from the actual work being done.

Governor Scott Walker–whom Charlie Pierce refers to as “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin”–plans to unveil a budget on Tuesday evening that will reportedly “slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s public universities over the next two years.” Alice Ollstein of ThinkProgress said that students, professors and state lawmakers “are already blasting the plan — the deepest cut in state history…” They told ThinkProgress that they are “organizing to block its passage.”

Even a Gannet owned newspaper complained about the cuts and the entire attitude towards faculty and higher education in general.  Oh, and he’s calling for nearly $500 million tax dollars for a new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Gannett Central Wisconsin Media Editorial Board thinks that Walker’s proposed cuts to the university go too deep. With regard to economics, the board wrote “the more educated our workforce, the higher our state’s overall standard of living will be. And in all sorts of intangible ways the university system improves our quality of life — injecting culture into communities, offering broad-based liberal education, helping define our sense of Badger identity.” The board added that “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed Draconian cuts to the system will undermine those values and hobble future economic growth.”

Gannett Central Wisconsin Media Editorial Board:

Walker compounded the sense that cuts are driven by political animus when, on Wednesday, he told a conservative radio host that faculty and staff should simply increase their workload to make up the difference. It was a condescending, somewhat nasty thing to say, and it was not based in fact. UW-Madison professors, a February study showed, work on average 63 hours a week; we see no reason to assume profs on stretched-thin regional campuses work less… 

Taking a chainsaw to the UW budget now is no way to make smart, lasting reforms. Insulting UW faculty is no way to demonstrate an interest in positive reform.

And $300 million in new cuts is too much to swallow.

In a commentary published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday, members of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Faculty Senate Executive Committee said that news reports had confirmed  that the “UW System campuses are slated to take a combined $150 million base budget cut (over two years, so $300 million total) in his upcoming 2015-’17 biennial budget proposal.” The Journal Sentinel claimed that the numbers were “staggering.” This will reportedly be “the largest cut in the 45-year history of the system.

Well, Wisconson, welcome to the world of Governors owned by the Koch Brothers.  Here’s our reality down here in Lousyana. We’re on our 8th of year the same kind of BS.  We’re sending tax dollars to Chinese falcor the luck dragon chewbacchus 2015corporations, Arkansas Corporations, and Hollywood, but taking money away from every school but the religious madrassas and for-profits preferred by Jindal and the Kochs.

Widespread layoffs, hundreds of classes eliminated, academic programs jettisoned and a flagship university that can’t compete with its peers around the nation — those are among the grim scenarios LSU leaders outlined in internal documents as the threat of budget cuts loom.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is considering deep budget slashing to higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1 to help close a $1.6 billion shortfall.

LSU campuses from Shreveport to New Orleans were asked to explain how a reduction between 35 percent and 40 percent in state financing — about $141.5 million to the university system — would affect their operations. The documents, compiled for LSU System President F. King Alexander, were obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

The potential implications of such hefty cuts were summed up in stark terms: 1,433 faculty and staff jobs eliminated; 1,572 courses cut; 28 academic programs shut down across campuses; and 6 institutions declaring some form of financial emergency.

At the system’s flagship university in Baton Rouge, the documents say 27 percent of faculty positions would have to be cut, along with 1,400 classes, jeopardizing the accreditation of the engineering and business colleges. Some campus buildings would be closed.

“These severe cuts would change LSU’s mission as a public research and land-grant university. It will no longer be capable of competing with America’s significant public universities and will find itself dramatically behind the rest of the nation,” the documents say.

Leias chewbacchus 2015One of the first things these folks want to do is to dumb up the population and get rid of faculty and schools that won’t teach the crap they want to continue to force their economic fairy tale.  No amount of peer review is ever going to make the trickle down economics crap do anything but float in septic tanks.  But, they’re sure doing a great job of forcing it into things by owning politicians.  Both Kansas and Louisiana are in freaking budget nightmares.

The country is full of examples illustrating the failure of Republican economic policies. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and Sam Brownback’s Kansas have become poster children for the job killing, budget busting, folly of pursuing supply side economics. Were it not for the damage that right-wing policies inflict upon working families, the Laffer curve would be simply laughable.

Yet, Grover Norquist’s army of tax-hating Governors continues to run roughshod over red state budgets promising a fiscal utopia. The fact that the utopia never materializes apparently doesn’t matter. Red state voters re-elect them anyway. The words “tax cut”, like an elixir, cures their fears, even if the people whose taxes are being cut are not the ordinary voters, but rather the ultra wealthy.

Joining Brownback and Walker on the list of Governor’s facing serious budget problems, is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Louisiana is anticipating a 1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall for next year, and that the deficit will remain in that range for years to come. When Jindal took office in 2008, the state had a 900 million dollar surplus, and the unemployment rate was just 3.8 percent. Now, in addition to having a gaping budget shortfall, Louisiana’s unemployment rate is at 6.7 percent, above the national average.Despite the state’s budget woes, Jindal has continued to resist any tax increases. He has depleted the state’s reserve funds to fill budget holes and is still coming up short on the needed revenue. Louisiana has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, and as a consequence, the state ranks near dead last in quality of education and health care. Nevertheless, the supply side dogmatism of Governor Jindal virtually guarantees that the state will continue on its current path to economic perdition.

Jindal is often mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for President. However, Jindal’s fiscal mismanagement has made him deeply unpopular even in his own state. A November 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that only a third of Louisiana voters approved of the Governor’s job performance while 56 percent disapproved. Supply side economics has been a nightmare to the residents of Louisiana.

Notice the similar policies?  Kill the Universities or warp them into places to train the zombie drone workers of the future?    Anyway, I really hope that the 2016 voters change some of this.  I can’t wait for Hillary to tackle the Republican that tries to mainstream this crap.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Extra Lazy Saturday Afternoon Reads: Bobby Jindal’s Crusade

 

Crusade - Before Battle, Kaye Miller-Dewing

Crusade – Before Battle, Kaye Miller-Dewing

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Dakinikat wrote a very good post about the right wing’s hysterical response to President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast about violence in the name of religion. And predictably, her nemesis Gov. Bobby Jindal released a statement chiding the President later in the day.

Here’s what Jindal had to say, from the WaPo:

“It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast,” Jindal said. “Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today.”

If Jindal really wants to “keep an eye out for runaway Christians,” maybe he ought to take a look in the mirror. I could go on and and on about modern right wing Christian terrorism, but I won’t–I’ll just give you a few examples below.

Battle of Antioch

Battle of Antioch

Apparently Jindal and the rest of his fellow “conservative” whiners have managed to ignore the Ku Klux Klan–a self-proclaimed [Protestant] Christian organization that is still active today–along with the Christian Identity Movement; abortion clinic bombings and murders of abortion doctors by “God-fearing” Christians; and mass-murders by self-proclaimed Christians like Andres Brevik and Timothy McVeigh, (a Catholic). Again, I could go on and on, but I’ll just offer this top-ten list from Raw Story: America’s 10 worst terror attacks by Christian fundamentalists and far-right extremists.

From Fox News to the Weekly Standard, neoconservatives have tried to paint terrorism as a largely or exclusively Islamic phenomenon. Their message of Islamophobia has been repeated many times since the George W. Bush era: Islam is inherently violent, Christianity is inherently peaceful, and there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist or a white male terrorist. But the facts don’t bear that out. Far-right white male radicals and extreme Christianists are every bit as capable of acts of terrorism as radical Islamists, and to pretend that such terrorists don’t exist does the public a huge disservice. Dzhokhar Anzorovich Tsarnaev and the late Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev (the Chechen brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013) are both considered white and appear to have been motivated in part by radical Islam. And many terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by people who were neither Muslims nor dark-skinned.

When white males of the far right carry out violent attacks, neocons and Republicans typically describe them as lone-wolf extremists rather than people who are part of terrorist networks or well-organized terrorist movements. Yet many of the terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by people who had long histories of networking with other terrorists. In fact, most of the terrorist activity occurring in the United States in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from a combination of radical Christianists, white supremacists and far-right militia groups.

crusades

I’ll just list the incidents listed in the article, and you can read more about them at the link.

1. Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug. 5, 2012.

2. The murder of Dr. George Tiller, May 31, 2009.

3. Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 27, 2008.

4. The murder of Dr. John Britton, July 29, 1994.

5. The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 27, 1996.

6. The murder of Barnett Slepian by James Charles Kopp, Oct. 23, 1998.

7. Planned Parenthood bombing, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1994.

8. Suicide attack on IRS building in Austin, Texas, Feb. 18, 2010.

9. The murder of Alan Berg, June 18, 1984.

10. Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995.

Can anyone make a similar list of atheist terrorist attacks?

Read more below the fold . . .

Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Reads: Bigots on the Right

xl_5716_amish-family-finedininglovers-001Good Morning!

I absolutely cannot believe the hatred coming out of the Republican Party and its christianist grass roots these days.  It’s downright embarrassing that my Governor is leading the charge.  There are so many of these stories at the moment that they certainly need the light of day given that we’ve just recognized the 70th anniversary of NAZI concentration camps designed for the Jewish, the homosexual, the intellectual, and others considered outcasts of their society.

This first disturbing piece comes from Texas where Texas Muslims gathered peacefully to recognize democracy  and to teach their children about how we do things in this country.  Unfortunately, many haters gave them the wrong lesson.

They came out by the hundreds from Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, mostly women and children, girls with silver-bowed shoes and pink owl backpacks. They sang the national anthem and prayed.

But less than 20 feet from where the group of Texas Muslims gathered on the steps of the state Capitol in Austin, a small handful of protesters told them exactly how they felt about their visit.

“We don’t want you here!” shouted one. Others yelled, “Go home,” “ISIS will gladly take you” and “remember 9/11.”

“You don’t have to dress that way! Take it off!” came from a woman holding an Israeli flag. “Islam is the war on women!”

Earlier in the morning, Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, commented on the gathering.

“I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office,” she wrote on Facebook.

Thursday marked the seventh annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day in Austin, when hundreds of adherents of Islam visit the Capitol to meet with lawmakers and learn about the democratic process. This year, however, is the first that’s been marked by virulent anti-Islam protests, said Ruth Nasrullah, a prominent Muslim blogger from Houston who also hosted the event.

Christine Weick, who said she was originally from Michigan but now is “on the road,” at one point stormed the succession of speakers, grabbing the microphone and yelling, “Islam will not dominate the United States, and by the grace of God, it will not dominate Texas.”

She was carted back to her spot with the other 12 to 15 protesters holding vigil behind a wall of law enforcement officers. “Muhammad is dead!” she and other chanted, referring to the Muslim prophet.

90097-004-F5155BF8The Belton Republican was by far the most egregious bigot of the Texas legislature yesterday.

As the group of Muslims continued the event by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the interruptions persisted, with the protesters yelling, “Islam is a lie!” and “No Sharia here!”

Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, called the behavior “very frustrating.” Carroll said this was the first year protesters showed up since Muslim Capitol Day began.

“I’m more concerned with state leaders and what they say than I am about anybody else because they are the lawmakers,” he said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has sent a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus asking whether White had violated ethics rules by instructing her staff to ask Muslim visitors to her office to declare their allegiance to the United States.

“Our ethics question is: Has Rep. White violated any House rules in creating such an internal office policy that is selectively being enforced to discriminate against certain religious minorities trying to meet with her or her staff?” the letter asks. “Are House members prohibited from making constituents take oaths before meeting with their elected representatives or House staff?”

In a statement, Straus said: “Legislators have a responsibility to treat all visitors just as we expect to be treated — with dignity and respect. Anything else reflects poorly on the entire body and distracts from the very important work in front of us.” His statement did not address the ethics complaint.

Neither Gov. Greg Abbott nor Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has weighed in on the matter.

As of mid-morning, the Israeli flag was still on the desk in White’s office. By noon, she had released a follow-up Facebook post that added: “I do not apologize for my comments. … If you love America, obey our laws and condemn Islamic terrorism, then I embrace you as a fellow American. If not, then I do not.”

But at 3 p.m., White released a new statement saying she welcomed “all of my constituents who would like to come and visit our office in the Texas State Capitol.”

“As law-abiding American citizens, we all have the privilege and the right to freedom of speech granted to us by the First Amendment,” she wrote. “… As a proud Texan and American I fully denounce all terrorist groups or organizations who’s [sic] intent is to hurt and destroy the great state of Texas and our nation.”

This was not the first time White has aired her concerns about Muslims on Facebook.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s bigotry has been over the top recently.  He called for “cultural assimilation” suggesting that if every one acted white, everything would be just fine.  However, he fails to look hassid2around the country to find there are many examples of non-Muslim people of faith who are not assimilated to the culturally white WASP majority.  Peter Weber-writing for the Week–suggested Jindal take a look at Brooklyn where  there are ultra-orthodox  Hasidic Jews that live and dress as their European ancestors have for many years.

“There is a way of thinking by many on the Left in America, which disturbs me greatly,” Jindal says: “The notion that assimilation is not necessary or even preferable.” Liberals, he adds, “think it is unenlightened, discriminatory, and even racist to expect immigrants to endorse and assimilate into the culture in their new country. This is complete rubbish.”

Jindal says he believes that religious and ethnic groups make America stronger when they come to embrace America’s culture and values. But not every group qualifies:

Are they coming to be set apart, are they unwilling to assimilate, do they have their own laws they want to establish, do they fundamentally disagree with your political culture? Therein lies the difference between immigration and invasion….

To be clear — I am not suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage. But I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within. [Jindal]

Well, off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of groups in the United States that have established “a separate culture within” America, probably “fundamentally disagree” with America’s “political culture,” and are still an integral part of America’s rich cultural and religious tapestry.

The Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio, for example, don’t drive cars, use smartphones, or allow their members to wear synthetic fabrics. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves a global movement and don’t serve in the U.S. armed forces or salute or pledge allegiance to the American flag; they also don’t accept blood transfusions, or celebrate Christmas or birthdays. And is Jindal really going to tell the Cajun and Creole communities in his home state to stop speaking Louisiana French?

If Jindal is serious about his idea, though, I have a challenge for him: Go to Brooklyn.

In Williamsburg, in Crown Heights, in Borough Park, there are sizable and growing insular communities, or “courts,” of ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews. They have their own customs, language (Yiddish), 19th-century style of dress, political and religious leaders, and, in some instances, laws. Women typically don’t have the same rights as men. The Hasidic communities of Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey have not assimilated to American culture.

Peter Beinart writes that Jindal “wants Christians to stand apart from secular society, but condemns Muslims who do the same.”hobby-lobby-decision-protects-flds-cult-member

In London, Jindal said “non-assimilationist Muslims” threaten the West not merely because they support acts of violence, and not merely because they adhere to Islamic rather than national law. Most fundamentally, they pose a threat because they refuse to embrace the cultures of the countries to which they immigrate. Denouncing the left’s claim that “it is unenlightened, discriminatory, and even racist to expect immigrants to endorse and assimilate into the culture in their new country,” Jindal insisted that “it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within.”

In his London speech, Jindal made little effort to define American or European culture except to associate it with “freedom.” So it’s hard to know exactly which aspects of it he believes Muslims refuse to embrace. But in his speeches last year on religion, Jindal discussed American culture at greater length. And his verdict was surprisingly harsh. “American culture,” he told students at Liberty University, “has in many ways become a secular culture.” Many churches, he declared, now espouse “views on sin [that] are in direct conflict with the culture.” In case students hadn’t gotten the message, Jindal repeated himself: “our culture has taken a secular turn.”

Then he asked a rhetorical question: “What do we do about it?” His answer: resist. People of faith, he argued, must recognize that they are fighting a “silent war” against the secular, liberal elite. And they must keep waging that war no matter how much of a cultural minority they become. “Our religious liberty,” he insisted, “must in no way ever be linked to the ever-changing opinions of the public.

So let’s imagine a scenario. A devout Christian emigrates from Nigeria to a progressive American college town, where she takes up work as a pharmacist. She quickly finds herself at odds with the dominant culture around her. Co-workers mock her modest dress and her insistence on interrupting work to pray. When she calls homosexuality a sin, they denounce her as a bigot. Ultimately, her employer fires her for refusing to dispense contraception.

Based on his speeches at Liberty University and the Reagan Library, Jindal’s advice to this woman would be clear: Wage “silent war” against the culture that oppresses you, even if you’re a minority of one. If necessary, “establish a separate culture within” the dominant one so you can raise children who fear and obey God.

Now imagine that our devout Nigerian is a Muslim. Suddenly her resistance to the dominant culture makes her not a hero but a menace. Jindal supporters might resist the analogy. Christians, they might argue, don’t kill cartoonists or establish their own separate legal systems. But Jindal’s point in London was that the problems with Muslim immigrants go beyond issues of violence and law. The core danger, he insisted, is their refusal to assimilate into the culture of the countries to which they immigrate. And since Jindal has already declared that American (let alone European) culture is secular, any immigrant who refuses to assimilate into it is, by his definition, a threat. Our Nigerian pharmacist should never been given a visa.

Why point out the contradiction between Jindal’s heroic portrayal of Christian non-assimilators and his demonization of Muslim ones? Because it exposes his lofty talk about culture and identity to be an elaborate ruse. The only principle he’s really defending is anti-Muslim bigotry.

It’s amazing to me that 70 years after the scapegoating of European Jews led to the “ultimate solution” we could still be living with this kind of hatred propagated by elected officials. It is odd that the same people waving flags of Israel understand so little about the history that led to the demand for a Jewish state. Of course, they are only thinking that the fruition of their end times dreams comes only with building of a temple on what is now a holy Islamic site.

I only hope that people of good will speak out against this bigotry.

What is on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: You People are so Ridiculous! Edition

Morning Coffee in the City, by Michele Byrne

Morning Coffee in the City, by Michele Byrne

Good Day!!

 

Hillary and Bill Clinton are grandparents!

From the AP via The Boston Globe:

The couple’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, has given birth to her first child, a daughter named Charlotte.

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the former president and ex-secretary of state, announced the baby’s birth on Twitter and Facebook early Saturday, saying she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are ‘‘full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.’’

Clinton spokesman Kamyl Bazbaz said the child was born on Friday but did not immediately provide additional details. The couple lives in New York City. The Clintons quickly retweeted their daughter’s message on Twitter but did not immediately comment on the baby’s arrival.

Now that the announcement is out of the way, the media demands to know if Hillary will now announce she’s running for president.

The baby has been eagerly anticipated as Hillary Clinton considers her political future — she has called the prospect of becoming a grandmother her ‘‘most exciting title yet.’’ She even has picked out the first book she intends to read to her grandchild, the classic ‘‘Goodnight Moon.’’

She has said she didn’t want to make any decisions about another campaign until the baby’s arrival, pointing to her interest in enjoying becoming a grandmother for the first time. If Clinton decides to run for president, her campaign would coincide with the baby’s first two years.

Former-US-President-Bill-Clinton-Become-Grandfather

The Christian Science Monitor even put the demand in their headline to the AP story: Chelsea Clinton now a mom. Will Grandma Hillary announce run for president?

Sigh . . . Yes, I’m sure Hillary is planning to ruin their daughter’s and son-in-law’s celebration by rushing out and the media’s wish come true. Why don’t they hound Mitt Romney instead? He already has so many grandkids he probably can’t keep their names straight; and Ann Romney has been out and about in the past week.

Ann told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that if only Mitt had been elected in 2012, there wouldn’t have been so many problems in Iraq and Syria. According to Ann,

I think he would have had a status of forces agreement on — in Iraq. I don`t believe ISIS would have had the invasion that they have — they’ve had. They wouldn’t have had the ability to — I think he would have tried to arm the moderates in Syria. I think there`s other things that would have happened that would have made the equation a little bit tilted in our favor.

Those people are not going to go away. This is a generational problem. And the sooner we realize, I think, as Americans, that it`s not an easy solution and it`s not going to go away, but to be really aware of how dangerous the situation is — I think Mitt was very aware how — how precarious it was.

As for Mitt giving running for president a third try, Ann hinted that it will depend on what Jeb Bush decides to do.

One scenario out there, Mrs. Romney, is that Jeb Bush doesn`t run after all, and your husband has sized up the landscape and that a lot of his supporters, past and present, said, you have the name recognition, you have the Reagan example of the third time was the charm for him, and that it`s been done before.

[ANN] ROMNEY: Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: And — and that would be appealing.

ROMNEY: Well, we will see, won`t we, Neil?

I think Jeb probably will end up running, myself. I think, you know, he — people probably are looking at it, that he`s probably looking at it very carefully right now.

CAVUTO: But why would his entrance in the race matter to — to your supporters or not?

ROMNEY: Well, I think, you know, he would draw on a very similar base that we would draw on.

Andrew Prokop at Vox thinks another Romney run could happen: It’s not crazy for Mitt Romney to run for president again. Prokop, reports that according to conservative columnist Bryan York, Jeb is unlikely to run in 2016.

“Romney is said to believe that, other than himself, [Jeb] Bush is the only one of the current Republican field who could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election,” York writes. So there seems to be at least one candidate who would definitively win Romney’s support.

But while there have been several trial balloons for a Jeb Bush candidacy floated recently, there are reasons to be skeptical he’ll actually pull the trigger. First of all, he’s been out of politics for years and focused on making money. For now, Bush has every reason to encourage speculation that he’s running. It gives him increased media attention, perceived clout, and it makes him more valuable as a speaker and rainmaker. But he’s at odds with the GOP base on issues like immigration and Common Core, and he’s suggested that concerns from his family could be an issue. So Bush might well opt against a run, and Romney could feel that he’s the party’s only hope.

After all, writes Prokop, Romney is a known quantity and he’s popular with GOP donors. On top of that, Chris Christie has lost his luster as a candidate.

Read more details at Vox.

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But what about Mitt’s problems with women? Ann says that’s nonsense, according to Politico.

Ann Romney on Tuesday skewered Democrats’ claim that there’s a GOP “war on women,” calling the accusation “offensive” and saying it won’t work as a campaign tactic.

“It’s ridiculous, honestly, I mean I don’t think they’re getting very far with that, by the way. It’s not going to work. I think women are a lot smarter than that, and that’s kind of offensive to me, to tell you the truth,” Romney said in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News in response to a question about both the so-called “war on women” and DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent comments about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“Scott Walker’s a good guy, and he’s got a wonderful wife, and he values women and that just doesn’t fly,” Romney added.

She was responding to Wasserman Schultz’s remarks earlier this month, when the Florida Democrat said Walker “has given women the back of his hand.”

Well that’s the end of that then. Scott Walker’s wife (does she have a name) is “wonderful,” so women should just shut up and deal with having limited access to birth control, abortion, and child care, and lower pay than their male colleagues.

Wonkette responds to the Politico story with appropriate sarcasm: Ladies, Stop Offending Ann Romney With How Stupid You Are.

How many times does Her Royal Horse-Riding Majesty Ann Romney have to explain this to YOU PEOPLE? Sheesh! This so-called “war on women” claptrap Democrats can’t stop blah blahing about is so dumb and so 2012 and so not even real anyway, so why are women — who are so much smarter than Democrats think they are — so stupid as to keep falling for it?

Obviously, talking non-stop about the Republican Party’s non-stop assault on women will never work. Ann knows. She’s an elections expert. That’s why the gender gap in 2012 was only 18 points. Practically a draw! No wonder the whole Romney clan was so very shocked and awed that Ann’s 2012 pitch failed to sway the lady voters:

“Women, you need to wake up,” she urged them. “Women have to ask themselves who’s going to have and be there for you. I can promise you, I know, that Mitt will be there for you. He will stand up for you, he will hear your voices.”

Maybe it had something to do with how some of the things that spilled out of her face hole were kind of … oh, what’s the word? Offensive? Like when she said, “I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids.” Those hard-working women out there were such an inspiration to her because she also had suffered and struggled and worked really hard at never having a job, scraping by on nothing but her husband’s daddy’s stock portfolio.

How the heck did that not work with voters?!? Especially after she told YOU PEOPLE to stop being so dumb already, jeez, and vote for her hubby. And some of YOU PEOPLE even whispered in her ear that you totally agreed with her (and yet did not vote for Mitt anyway, weird!), and even ladies who usually don’t worry their pretty little heads about important issues — that’s Man’s Work, after all — were finally, for the first time ever, thinking about really important stuff, like the economy and “their husbands’ jobs.”

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For heaven’s sake, ladies. Mitt had all those binders full of women, remember? Now get over it and go vote Republican!

Of course Mitt wasn’t included in the Values Voters Summit this weekend. That could mean he’s not running or maybe that he thinks the Tea Party vote won’t matter. The usual suspects were there though.

Despite Ann’s claims that the Democrats are getting nowhere with the “war on women” talk, the “values voters” speakers appeared to tone down the anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage rhetoric, according to ABC News: Republicans Rallying Behind Religious Liberty.

Fighting to improve their brand, leading Republicans rallied behind religious liberty at a Friday gathering of evangelical conservatives, rebuking an unpopular President Barack Obama while skirting divisive social issues.

Speakers did not ignore abortion and gay marriage altogether on the opening day of the annual Values Voter Summit, but a slate of prospective presidential candidates focused on the persecution of Christians and their values at home and abroad — a message GOP officials hope will help unify a divided party and appeal to new voters ahead of November’s midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest.

“Oh, the vacuum of American leadership we see in the world,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared Friday in a Washington hotel ballroom packed with religious conservatives. “We need a president who will speak out for people of faith, prisoners of conscience.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul echoed the theme in a speech describing America as a nation in “spiritual crisis.”

“Not a penny should go to any nation that persecutes or kills Christians,” said Paul, who like Cruz is openly considering a 2016 presidential bid.

The speaking program included such potential 2016 candidates as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Several possible Republican candidates — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among them — did not attend. The group has positions on social issues across the spectrum — from the libertarian-leaning Paul, who favors less emphasis on abortion and gay marriage, to Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor whose conservative social values define his brand.

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Here’s a lovely little homily from Bobby Jindal:

Jindal, who is also weighing a White House bid, seized on what he called Obama’s “silent war” on religious freedom.

“The United States of America did not create religious liberty,” Jindal said. “Religious liberty created the United States of America.”

Anyone know what he means by a “silent war?” I have no clue. What a charlatan Jindal is!

The ABC article didn’t mention Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, but they were there too.

From Mediaite on crazy Michele’s speech:  Bachmann Rouses Values Voters Crowd with Calls to ‘Kill’ ISIS Until They Surrender. See video at the link.

Talking Points Memo notes that Sarah Palin doesn’t know the address of the White House. I wonder who lives at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Palin Goofs: Truth Is Endangered At ‘1400’ Penn Avenue. Watch it:

I wonder if the “values voters” liked Palin’s biker chick get-up?

And, of course, Ted Cruz was his usual loony self. Salon: 5 craziest things Ted Cruz just said at the Values Voters Summit (including the full video of his “deranged” speech.

Morning Coffee, by Carol Bolt

Morning Coffee, by Carol Bolt

Quick News Headlines:

The Boston Globe, 7 Questions We’d Ask Ferguson’s Chief of Police.

A man set a fire at an air traffic control facility at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, but it’s not being called terrorism–maybe because the guy isn’t an Arab American?

KTLA Channel 5, FBI: Chicago Controller Sent Facebook Message: ‘I Am About to Take Out’ FAA Facility.

NY Daily News, Illinois man charged in fire at Chicago air traffic control center

The Texas State Board of Education is at it again. Now they want teachers to tell kids that Moses is an inspiration for the U.S. Constitution (very interesting and detailed article at The Daily Beast).

AP, via Yahoo News, Police: Woman beheaded at Oklahoma workplace.

 Fox News, Four College Sophomores dead in Oklahoma bus-truck crash.

Discovery News, Japanese Volcano Erupts: Hikers Missing.

The New Yorker on the newest social media entry, Ello’s Anti-Facebook Moment.

LA Times, Water on Earth predates the solar system, and even the sun.

Raw Story, Complex life on Earth may have appeared 60 million years earlier than previously thought.

National Geographic, Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap? A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse.

M.I.T. News, Battling superbugs: Two new technologies could enable novel strategies for combating drug-resistant bacteria.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in comment thread. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!