Wednesday Reads: Back in the saddle again…

f4b5c963d201a5f61710522d22df3735Good Morning!

Hey, it’s been nice to have a week off…I haven’t read much news items lately, in fact I don’t really have any idea what’s going on in the world outside of Banjoville. (Just this last weekend we had a murder, involving an 80-year-old former cop from Florida who killed his daughter, shot his great-grandson in the leg, and kept two county swat teams busy in a stand-off for three hours before they threw a flash bomb and finally got him in custody…you should see the list of weapons he had in his house.)

Other news from Banjoville (good news), my son played his first varsity football game and kicked five for five, scoring four extra points and one field goal in the season’s game opener.  My daughter also cheered in her first varsity game as well…it was quite a Friday Night!

Little Luther

Little Luther

This weekend I added a little furry bugger to the family too. He is a tiny little thing, at three months he weighs just over a pound.

So as you can see, it has been a busy week…but since I am clueless about the latest debates on Syria, in the dark on the fire in Yellowstone, unsure of new draconian laws against women’s rights that have passed in state houses over the past week…I will just stick with a few links that I have saved from some days back.

Here is one article that is recent however, Fukushima Disaster: Japan To Build Costly Subterranean Ice Wall To Stop Nuclear Reactor Leaks:

The Japanese government announced Tuesday that it will spend $470 million on a subterranean ice wall and other steps in a desperate bid to stop leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant after repeated failures by the plant’s operator.

The decision is widely seen as an attempt to show that the nuclear accident won’t be a safety concern just days before the International Olympic Committee chooses among Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid as the host of the 2020 Olympics.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has been leaking hundreds of tons of contaminated underground water into the sea since shortly after a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the complex. Several leaks from tanks storing radioactive water in recent weeks have heightened the sense of crisis that the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., isn’t able to contain the problem.

“Instead of leaving this up to TEPCO, the government will step forward and take charge,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after adopting the outline. “The world is watching if we can properly handle the contaminated water but also the entire decommissioning of the plant.”

I don’t know how negative an impact the radioactive disaster will have on the IOC’s decision on Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics, I mean… look at the nuclear bomb getting ready to explode in Sochi. I get the feeling the IOC would prefer a radioactive leak of Godzilla proportions than to stand up and do what’s right in Sochi.

Down in Florida they are digging up some graves of a terrible past. Human remains believed uncovered in search at Florida boys school

The first of many to die at a Florida reform school infamous for inflicting beatings and abuse is identified in official records only as “Unknown colored boy.”

Researchers say he died in 1911. But his name, final resting place, and the reason for his early death remain a mystery.

He’s not alone.

The whereabouts of nearly two dozen others who died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys are also unknown, researchers said.

Those who once stayed at the reform school — and were subjected to regular lashings by school officials — say many more could be buried on the property of the now-shuttered state-run school, located in Marianna, a small town in Florida’s panhandle.

“I think there’s at least 100 more bodies,” Robert Straley, who was at the school for 10 months starting in 1963, said in a telephone interview.

“From 1900 to 1940 were the most brutal years in that place. Back then, a white boy’s life wasn’t worth much and a black boy’s life wasn’t worth anything.”

A clearer view of who died at the school, and why, may soon surface. On Saturday, a team of researchers began a year-long exhumation of burial sites on the school’s property.

But the abuse and suspicious deaths did not end in the 1960s,

Former residents at the school, including Straley, have led the push for setting the record straight about the school’s treatment of its young inmates, which came to light in a 2008 expose in the Miami Herald.

An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded in 2010 that, although it found dozens of graves, there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges related to allegations of physical and sexual abuse of boys at the school.

The state’s Department of Juvenile Justice closed the school in 2011 as the federal government was investigating allegations of maltreatment and abuse. The federal government ultimately faulted the state for poor oversight and violating the rights of the inmates.

Take a look at the link to that LA Times article to read more about the project being carried out by my alma mater, University of South Florida.

Now I will give you a few updates on some stories from earlier in the year.

Check it out…they are calling bullshit on the stories that there were bottles full of shit at the Texas Capitol during the Special Session back in July: Still No Evidence Abortion Rights Protesters Had Excrement In Texas Capitol Ahead Of Bill Debate

And in Utah, Welfare Drug Testing Catches Only 12 Users

From August 2012 through July 2013, the state prescreened 4,730 applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program with a written test. The state followed up with an actual drug test for the 466 of those whose written answers suggested a likelihood of drug use.

The 466 tests turned out 12 positive results, as the Associated Press first reported. The results were similar when Florida launched welfare drug testing in 2011 and just 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive. National surveys usually find that about 8 percent of respondents used drugs in the previous month.

Utah’s drug screening cost the state about $31,000. But state Rep. Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) told HuffPost he thinks the bill saved more than it cost. He said an additional 247 Utahns dropped out of the TANF application process after they were told to expect a drug test.

“We had 247 who once we told them, ‘our test shows that you are likely using controlled substances, we need you to take a drug test,’ they refused to move forward with the process,” said Wilson, who sponsored the new law. “The Department of Workforce Services here in Utah estimates the benefits of those folks would have received would have been approximately $369,000 of, basically, benefits we didn’t pay to people who were most likely using controlled substances. We spent $31,000 on this program over the last year but we think we’ve saved at least $370,000, if not more.”

[...]

Utah’s law differs from Florida’s in that it first subjects TANF applicants to a questionnaire and only tests those whose answers give the state a reasonable suspicion of drug use. The reasonable suspicion standard makes the law less vulnerable to a civil liberties lawsuit alleging the tests violate the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search. Florida’s law called for blanket testing and was halted by federal courts after only a few months.

The Florida law also denied benefits to anyone who failed a test. Utah’s law asks applicants to enroll in drug treatment. Wilson said the 12 people who tested positive for drugs are still receiving benefits.

The article states that the twelve are currently in treatment.

One last update, this one is something that hits home for me, y’all know that my brother Denny has Down Syndrome…so please read this one in full…and then, take some time to read the comments. Opinion: Justice for Down syndrome man who died in movie theater – CNN.com

Robert Ethan Saylor died on January 12 after three sheriff's deputies tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater.

Robert Ethan Saylor died on January 12 after three sheriff’s deputies tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater.

One day last January, Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, went to see the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” When it was over, Saylor briefly left the theater, then decided to return and see it again. The manager called security because Saylor didn’t pay, and three off-duty deputies, moonlighting at the mall, came in to confront him.

According to Frederick County, Maryland, police statements, he swore at them and refused to leave. The deputies tried to remove him, despite Saylor’s caretaker’s warnings and pleas for them to wait and let her take care of it. What happened next is a little unclear, but witnesses say the deputies put Saylor on the floor, held him down and handcuffed him. Saylor, called Ethan by his family, suffered a fracture in his throat cartilage. He died of asphyxiation.

The death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury failed to indict the deputies and they returned to work without charges.

My son has Down syndrome, so I have been following this case closely. But for months, it seemed as if only people in the disability community cared about it.

Petitions for independent investigations sputtered out with just a few hundred votes. Local reporting on the case never made a splash in national media. Meanwhile, the Frederick County sheriff investigated his men’s conduct, ruled they had followed procedure correctly, and tried to move on.

Police violence against people with disabilities is not uncommon, but the cases don’t seem to get a lot of publicity. Most people see the disabled as, at best, passive victims, objects to care for, perhaps to love, but not people with whom we automatically identify.

This is a mistake. We are all only temporarily able-bodied. Accidents, illness, and age wait for us all. What happened to Ethan Saylor could happen to you.

In July, his death began to get more attention. Heather Mizeur, a member of the Maryland House of Representatives and candidate for governor, seized on Saylor’s story and called for new training for law enforcement. Debra Alfarone, an investigative journalist in Washington, began to broadcast and write about the case. A petition asking Gov. Martin O’Malley to investigate went viral in mid-August, garnering 300,000 signatures in just a week. This petition fueled a renewed, suddenly national, media narrative. Ethan Saylor and #JusticeForEthan are now an official cause.

It is heartbreaking to know that the cops who killed Ethan are walking about…back at work, without being charged. Where is the outrage?  Perhaps Ethan should have worn a hoodie? Maybe this injustice would have gotten more attention.

It is sickening.

Like I said, read the whole piece, it moves on to focus on people with disabilities…and what rights they have…or in the case of Ethan, what rights he was denied that invariably caused his “homicide” and allowed the men who killed him to walk free.

Okay, one last nugget or link for you today. Over at TCM they are presenting a special series that will be on every Monday and Tuesday for the next 15 weeks! .: The Story of Film :.

TCM IS PROUD to present the U.S. television premiere of The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011), a 15-episode documentary directed and narrated by Mark Cousins, adapted from his 2004 book The Story of Film. Beginning in September and continuing through early December, one new episode, or “chapter,” will be introduced each Monday on TCM, with a lineup of related films. Tuesday evenings the thematic programming continues, and includes a re-airing of the previous night’s episode. By December, the entire festival will include 119 feature films and dozens of short subjects from 29 countries.

Cousins, a film critic from Northern Ireland, will appear as co-host with Robert Osborne in introducing the documentary, which uses film clips, interviews with filmmakers and location footage around the world to take viewers through filmmaking history from the late 19th century to today.

Here is the schedule in PDF format and you can find the Episode Guide is here.

The first episode was shown this week, and it was so damn interesting, be sure to catch the rest of the series if you can.

So…it is good to be back, guess I need to get caught up on current events. Seriously, I don’t know if I can do that just yet. Y’all have a good morning and I’ll see you around in the comments.


Wednesday Morning Reads: It’s a man’s world, still.

Ah, Good Morning!

I am sitting here on my bed, with my legs crossed, and my laptop propped up on top of them…it’s cold in here, so my blankets are up over my head. Funny. Just like a child who stays up late at night, reading under their covers with a flashlight. (Damn, do kids even do that these days?) I feel quite insignificant under these cozy blankets, and that was before I read this article on Congress. Now I can add that I am  feeling mad and insignificant.  Congress and its men. Specifically, the House of Representatives. House committee chairs all men

At the top of House committees, it’s a man’s world.

Not a single woman will lead any of the major House committees in the 113th Congress.

Figures, damn it pisses me off!
After a day of meetings closed to the public, the House Republican Steering Committee announced an all-male slate of committee chairs, including 12 returning lawmakers who will head up some of the most important panels in Washington.
They still have not chosen the leaders for the House Ethics and the Administration committees, but…as usual, nothing ever changes.

The top female contender to lead a major committee was Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, who lost a battle for the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee to Texas Rep. Mike McCaul.

Women did make big gains in Republican leadership. Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will be House Republican Conference chairwoman, Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins will be her vice chairwoman and North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx will be conference secretary.

Wow, shame they could not find any women to fill those slots ay?

New chairmen include Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Texas atop Financial Services, Ed Royce of California on Foreign Affairs, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia on Judiciary, Lamar Smith of Texas on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania atop Transportation and Infrastructure.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was the only lawmaker to obtain a waiver to bypass House GOP rules to remain as a chairman for a fourth term. He will lead the Budget Committee again.

House Democrats are likely to have five women as ranking members committees: Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.) or Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) on Appropriations, Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) on Financial Services, Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) on Rules, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) on Science and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.) on Small Business.

Uh, two dudes from Texas are heads of these committees? Well, I guess that Texas and their Secessionist leaning GOP wingnuts are well represented in these committees, don’t you?
I am going to stick with the GOP members of congress a bit longer, in fact…it is about my Congressman, Saxby Chambliss. He got kicked down by Erick Erickson yesterday.  Balloon Juice tackles this latest temper tantrum here:  Erick Erickson for Senate (Primary)!
…the Voice of the GOP Gated Community is very disappointed by his so-called ‘elected representative’ for talking about going off Grover Norquist’s reservation:

In a 900-word indictment of Sen. Saxby Chambliss, RedState editor and CNN contributor Erick Erickson described the Georgia Republican Tuesday as “waffling around like a dog off its leash for the first time.”…The RedState post, which laid out the conservative case in full against Chambliss, read a lot like a campaign manifesto, which maybe it was: Erickson said Tuesday evening on his radio show he’d been approached “by serious people” to consider a primary challenge and is giving it “prayerful consideration.”

An Erickson primary challenge would certainly make for great political theater. He’s won elected office before—he served one term on the Macon City Council—and could complicate Chambliss’s re-election bid. But as a leading conservative blogger, radio talk show host and frequent cable television presence, Erickson’s also got a long trail of writing and video that might not be so helpful in a statewide campaign…

Murphy the Trickster God does not love me enough to make this travesty happen. Almost certainly, Erickson is just scrambling to re-establish his Master-of-the-Universe status with the RedState tribalists while not losing his ‘sane moderate’ credentials at CNN, because C.R.E.A.M. But every bloviator political blogger looks in the mirror and sees a solon, and a ‘true conservative’ challenge to that dishonorable pus-sack Chambliss (the chickenhawk who got his seat by attacking actual veteran Max Cleland) might cause me to break my lifelong commitment to never donating to a Republican primary contender.

Please, someone get me a bucket…and a cleaning lady. Maybe speculating on a Erickson ticket is yet another sign that the Mayans were right about that end of the world thing. If asshole aka son of Erick is seriously considering running, my little part of Georgia will surely love to have the head of Red State as their representative. I am so sick of all of this.

Moving on.

Dakinikat called this weeks ago, New Treasury Secretary Jack Lew: Chief of Staff will get the job.

I was considering doing a post with chin-stroking speculation about who the next Treasury secretary will be, but instead let me just tell you. It’s going to be Jacob Lew, the current White House chief of staff.

Why? Well, because the White House has decided that it wants the Treasury secretary to be deeply involved with budget issues, and who better than a former Office of Management and Budget director? What’s more, Obama has been working with Lew for a while now and likes him, and they’ve been working well together. All the other ideas kicking around involve bringing someone in from the outside who’d be taking over midstream and trying to establish a working relationship with the president and the Treasury team while simultaneously hammering out thorny bargains with House Republicans. It doesn’t really work.

See the link if you want to read the rest. Personally it is old news to us, because Dak brought up these points before…

There has been another killing of an unarmed young black man in Florida. Jordan Davis: Another Unarmed Young Black Male Gunned Down | Angry Black Lady Chronicles

http://angryblackladychronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/20121127-211557.jpg

Another senseless shooting death of a young unarmed black man in Florida:

Michael Dunn, of Satellite Beach, Florida, was in Jacksonville this past weekend for his son’s wedding.

Jordan Davis, 17, and some other teens were sitting in a SUV in a parking lot when Dunn parked next to them and asked the youths to turn down their music.

Jordan Davis and Dunn argued over the music, then Dunn, who is a gun collector, pulled a gun and shot eight or nine times, hitting Jordan twice, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Jordan Davis’ father Ron Davis said his unarmed son died in the arms of a friend in the SUV.

Dunn and his girlfriend took off, but witnesses wrote down their license plate number, according to the police.

The couple was staying in a Jacksonville hotel when they heard a news report Saturday morning about the shooting, so they drove home to Satellite Beach, Florida.

Dunn was arrested at his home on Saturday and charged with murder and attempted murder. He is being held without bail.

Because this occurred in Florida, we can expect another round of likely unfruitful discussions about the “stand your ground” laws that were at issue in the Trayvon Martin case. There will be handwringing and a public outcry, but nothing will be done, ultimately, because the ALEC-sponsored gun laws in this country are just fine, and if black kids don’t want to get shot for wearing a hoodie, or playing loud music, then that’s just too damn bad. They should stay home.

It is such a sad thing to read about…think about it for a moment. Makes you mad too?

I don’t want to finish on a down note.

Check out this feature from Vanity Fair, Photos: Iconic Film Stills Photographed in Their Real-Life Locations

Journalist Christopher Maloney walks to work through Central Park on most days, and last summer he made an observation. “Every day I walked past tons of locations from popular—and not-so-popular—movies,” he explains. He decided to start printing out stills from the films and comparing them to their real-life counterparts. “Since then, I’ve re-created more than 250 scenes around the city.” His work—which includes movies as varied as Midnight Run, The French Connection, and Shaft—can be found at his Web site, FILMography. “I’m actually surprised that locations used in the 1940s and 1950s haven’t changed that much,” he says. “But places used in movies last year are virtually unrecognizable.” New York also changes depending on the director, Maloney adds. “You can tell just how much filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee love the city. It’s sometimes hard to believe that those three very different places are all the same city.”

Look at this:

Can you guess what film that is from? Yes, it is Cary Grant…in?

There is also this interesting read from Gin and Tacos: THE CONTEST EVERYBODY LOSES  It is a post about writing…crowdsourcing and giving the “middle finger.” Enjoy it…I did.

And I have to end this post with this funny cartoon. (Although I think it is missing something.) 11/28 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Stones | Mike Luckovich

mike112812

There should be a big set of lips on at least one of those stick figures!

Have a great day and let us know what is on your mind!


Saturday Reads: Romney Succumbs to Radical Right on VP Pick

The 2012 Republican presidential ticket joyfully waving goodbye to Medicare and Social Security

Good Morning!

It’s been a long strange night. I wasn’t feeling that great yesterday, so I went to bed early. At 12:30AM, my phone rang. It was Dakinikat with the stunning news that Mitt Romney has chosen the man Charlie Pierce calls “the zombie-eyed granny starver from Wisconsin” as his nominee for Vice President. Let’s get Pierce’s reaction:

Leave it to Willard Romney, international man of principle, to get himself bullied into being bold and independent.

Make no mistake. In his decision to make Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, his running mate, Romney finally surrendered the tattered remnants of his soul not only to the extreme base of his party, but also to extremist economic policies, and to an extremist view of the country he seeks to lead. This is unimaginable to those of us who lived under Romney’s barely perceptible stewardship of the Commonwealth (God save it!). If he’d even hinted that he agreed with a fraction of a smidgen of a portion of the policies on which Ryan has built his career, Romney would have been hanging from the Sacred Cod by the middle of 2005. And it’s hard not to notice that the way the decision got leaked — in the dead of a Friday night, with the Olympics still going on, after two weeks in which Romney and his campaign had demonstrated all the political skills of a handball — fairly dripped with flopsweat….

Which is not to say this isn’t a shrewd move. In one great swoop, he has recaptured a good portion of the elite political media, which has been crushing on Ryan’s “courage” to take on the “tough choices” — none of which, it should be pointed out, likely will affect Ryan, who’s already got himself an education out of the social safety net he now intends to shred, and certainly will never affect the haircut at the top of the ticket, or his great-grandchildren, for all that — and the coverage of the pick in the middle of the night last night showed that many of our finer chattering heads are already practicing tying the stem of the cherry with their tongues in preparation for covering the new Republican ticket.

In just a little more than two weeks, this ticket will be announced in Florida of all places–the home of millions of Medicare recipients. Yesterday, Romney was complaining about a Democratic superpac ad that implied that his (Romney’s) actions at Bain Capital led to the death of an unemployed man’s wife. Today, Romney signs onto the goal of throwing America’s grandparents into the streets and letting them figure out how to survive with no social safety net.

More reactions:

Fox News: Romney picks Rep. Ryan as running mate, plans to make official at Va. rally.

LA Times: Romney’s VP pick is Paul Ryan, sources say

Washington Post: Romney picks Paul Ryan as running mate

Politico: Paul Ryan veep prospects split GOP.

CNN: Paul Ryan, top GOP voice on fiscal matters.

Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker: LOOKS LIKE RYAN: MITT’S PICK. Lizza posted a lengthy profile of Ryan a few days ago: FUSSBUDGET: How Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P.

Well, at least Romney’s tax returns are off the front pages for the moment. The official announcement comes at 9AM. Please add your own reactions and news links in the comments.


Evening Open Thread: Horse Ballet is Frou-Frou

Good Evening

The word is Gold for the USA...so as I sit here tonight watching the events, of which I know the results…we will take a look at a few items making headlines tonight.

First some things that are upsetting to say the least. Warning, graphic images. GOP Rep. Steve King Defends Dog Fighting | ThinkProgress

If you believe that the United States should legalize dogfighting because we allow humans to fight, fear not. You’ve got an ally in the United States Congress.

During a tele-townhall late last week, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) fielded a question about his opposition to animal rights and recently introduced legislation that would undermine local standards preventing animal torture. “It’s wrong to rate animals above human beings,” he told the questioner. To make his point, King argued that “there’s something wrong” for society to make it a “federal crime to watch animals fight” but “it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting.”

KING: When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.

I mentioned this in the comments earlier but I want to put it up front. Florida Man Charged With Hate Crime Says He ‘Only Shot a N*gger’ | Video Cafe

Authorities in Port St. Joe, Florida say a man charged with a hate crime felt inconvenienced by his arrest because he had “only shot a n*gger.”

Walton Henry Butler, 59, was arrested by Gulf County Sheriff’s deputies on Monday night for shooting 32-year-old Everett Gant, who is black, in the head with a .22 caliber rifle.

According to a charging affidavit obtained by The Star, Butler had referred to Pamela Rogers’ child and other children at his apartment complex with racial slurs.

Gant was shot between the eyes when he went to Butler’s apartment to confront him over the remarks, the documents said. Butler allegedly closed his sliding glass door and left Gant bleeding on ground outside.

The suspect contacted 911 and had finished his dinner before Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent arrived.

Nugent recalled that Butler appeared “inconvenienced” by the arrest, saying that “he had only shot a n*gger.”

I am glad they got him and he is being charged with a hate crime.

This is something BB has written about all day, but it is still trending…

Mitt Romney aide’s gaffe exposes rift – Dylan Byers – POLITICO.com

Romney on Gaffes: It’s the Media’s Fault – Matthew Shelley – NationalJournal.com

Romney says press focusing on overseas stumbles to aid Obama – The Hill’s Video

Romney now seeking to introduce himself to voters – News – Boston.com

Drew Peterson trial is on, and today was the first day, and in opening statements Drew Peterson Lawyer Attacks Dead Wife Kathleen Savio – ABC News

Drew Peterson’s lawyer told the jury in his murder trial today that the woman he is accused of killing was bossy, lied, had a furious temper and went to therapy.

Lawyer Joel Brodsky, Peterson’s lead defense attorney, attacked the character of Kathleen Savio, Peterson’s third wife, in his opening statement. Brodsky’s opening argument was interrupted by objections from prosecutors, just as the prosecutor’s opening statement was marked by objections from Brodsky.

The contentious start to the trial foreshadows what is expected to be a battle over the prosecutor’s key evidence: comments that Savio made to others before she died in 2004, and comments that Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy Peterson made to people. Stacy Peterson has been missing since 2007.

Well, things are still flying on the moon…flags that is. Apollo Flags on the Moon Still Standing : Discovery News

Apollo-flags

Flags at the Olympics may come and go, but there’s one U.S. record that remains unchallenged. New images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show all but one of the U.S. flags planted during the six Apollo missions to the lunar surface are still standing.

Lro flag

“I was a bit surprised that the flags survived the harsh ultraviolet light and temperatures of the lunar surface, but they did,” LRO researcher Mark Robinson posted on the project’s website.

“What they look like is another question,” he added.

Colbert Corrects Krauthammer’s Dressage Diss: It’s Not Hoity-Toity; It’s Frou-Frou! | Mediaite

Stephen Colbert — long cable television’s most ardent defender of the sport, neigh, the art of dressage — found himself once again defending the Olympic event.

This time, he found himself up against criticism by conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.

I know tonight’s post is a little lame, but I am very distracted at the moment…this is an open post.


Queen Ann Lays Down the Law on Mitt’s Taxes as Obama Opens a New Campaign Front

Thanks to Delphyne, who posted this link on the morning thread: Ann Romney: We’ve Given ‘All You People Need To Know’ About Family Finances

Mitt Romney’s wife is reinforcing her husband’s refusal to make public several years of tax returns, telling ABC News “we’ve given all you people need to know” about the family’s finances.

“You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he’s been financially,” she said in her interview with Robin Roberts. “He’s a very generous person. We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person that is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn’t take a salary in the four years.”

Roberts pressed: “Why not show that, then?” and reasoned that people could “move on” if her husband released his returns.

Romney responded, “Because there are so many things that will be open again for more attack… and that’s really, that’s just the answer. And we’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life. And so, the election, again, will not be decided on that. It will be decided on who is gonna turn the economy around and how are jobs gonna come back to America.”

Queen Ann has spoken, and that’s that, you people. Ann’s attitude puts me in mind of this famous quote from Leona Helmsley: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes…”

Meanwhile, President Obama is opening a new campaign front today in Florida. The Bain attacks were just a warm-up for an even more lethal attack in which the consequences of Mitt Romney’s stated support of the Ryan budget will spelled out in detail. From MSNBC’s First Thoughts:

Here comes Medicare: The past few weeks on the presidential campaign trail have featured aggressive attacks and counterattacks. On outsourcing by Bain Capital. On Mitt Romney’s post-1999 association with that firm, as well has his tax returns. On charges of “crony capitalism” in the Obama administration. And on President Obama’s views about business. And today when Obama begins a two-day swing through the crucial state of Florida — with all of its seniors — he’ll introduce another attack: hitting Romney on Medicare and the Ryan budget. Per the campaign, the president “will discuss his commitment to strengthening Medicare, and a new report tomorrow that highlights the devastating impact Mitt Romney’s Medicare plan could have on the 3.4 million Floridians that rely on Medicare.” Bottom line, per the campaign’s guidance: Obama will argue that Romney — through his support for the Ryan budget plan — advocates ending Medicare “as we know it.” Obama starts his Florida swing with a 1:25 pm ET event in Jacksonville, and then he heads to West Palm Beach at 6:20 pm. Tomorrow in the Sunshine State, he hits Ft. Myers and Winter Park.

As Ed Kilgore wrote this morning, Jonathan Chait predicted this two-front strategy last month.

I strongly suspect that Obama is currently in the first stage of a two-part assault on Romney. The first is to define his motives and perspective: a rich man who sees the world from the perspective of the CEO suite and blithely assumes what is good for people like himself is good for everybody.

This is the essential predicate for part two, which I would guess (I have no inside information) will dominate the last half of the campaign. Part two is Romney’s fealty to the Bush-era low-tax, anti-regulatory ideology and the radical Paul Ryan plan. The average undecided voter pays little attention to politics and might not understand why a candidate would return to failed Bush-era policies or slash the social safety net in order to clear budgetary headroom for keeping taxes on the rich low. Defining Romney’s business career is a way of making sense of those choices.

This morning, Chait announced that phase two begins today.

Greg Sargent explains why stage two is necessary:

Keep in mind: A focus group convened by the pro-Obama Priorities U.S.A. found that voters simply refused to believe that Romney or Ryan would really transform Medicare into a quasi-voucher program while also cutting taxes for the rich. This is what the assault on Romney’s Bain years is really about. It’s an effort to establish an image of Romney that will make it easier for voters to accept that this is indeed the agenda Romney has embraced and would carry out as president.

As the Obama campaign will point out, Republicans expect Romney to essentially rubber-stamp the Ryan’s agenda. ”We want the Ryan budget,” Grover Norquist recently said. “Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.”

The attacks on Romney’s business background and core rationale for running for president may enable the Obama campaign to fight Romney to a draw on the economy — by persuading swing voters who are unhappy with Obama’s performance that Romney certainly doesn’t have the answers to their economic problems, and could even make things worse.

I heard on the Morning Joe show today that Obama’s Bain attacks aren’t working because polls still show Obama and Romney deadlocked after weeks of the Obama campaign pounding Romney on Bain, outsourcing, and tax evasion. But I agree with Jamelle Bouie that it’s way too early to know for sure whether the attacks will work.

In the summer of 2004 it seemed that the Swiftboat attacks weren’t hurting Kerry, but only political junkies like us are really paying attention right now. The real tests will come after the conventions and during the debates. Bouie writes:

Given the extent to which commentators have analogized this controversy to the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry, it’s worth looking back at how the former nominee fared during the period in which he absorbed withering attacks on his military record. The Swift Boat ads aired from the beginning of May until the end of August. During this period, according to Gallup, Kerry held a small lead among likely voters.

Kerry’s position began to decline in August, but even then, he ended the month with only a small deficit. George W. Bush didn’t begin to build a large lead until the fall. The growth in Bush’s lead corresponded with a decline in Kerry’s net favorability. It’s possible Kerry was unaffected by the Swift Boat attacks. But it’s also possible that they didn’t begin to have an impact until later. It’s also too early to say whether the attacks on Bain will work. But there’s a chance they’ll have the most effect after the conventions, as undecided voters begin to make a choice, and draw on overall impressions built up over months as they make their decision. Given the new $8 million ad buy from Crossroads — meant to deflect Obama’s attacks on Bain — it’s clear Republicans see long-term danger here.

I have to say, this campaign is getting a lot more interesting. I’m not thrilled with either of the candidates, but I have no problem saying that Romney is much much more horrible than Obama. I probably won’t end up voting for either of these candidates, but as a true political junkie I love watching a hard fought campaign.


Sunday Reads in Darkness and Truth: All for Nothing…All for Everything

Good Morning

Yesterday I spent some time watching movies with my son, first we saw Sergeant York, with Gary Cooper, and after that we saw Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom and Eva Green. It felt good to sit a few hours watching these films, and while we were watching, my son would ask me about things…like historical accuracy…or sometimes he would comment on the actors, and the way the scenes were shot.

The reason I bring all this up is because there is a line in that movie Kingdom of Heaven, when the character of Balian surrenders the city of Jerusalem to Saladin…

What is Jerusalem worth?  Nothing….Everything

I thought that line was fabulous, and while looking for articles to feature in this morning’s post, it seemed like an interesting shadow of a theme.

Not all of today’s articles will relay a message of nothing and everything, but some will.

Former Dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced yesterday to life in prison, or as the Judge described… “30 years of darkness.”  After the sentencing, Egyptians protested in the streets. There is an op/ed In the Independent by Robert Fisk that you should take a look at. Robert Fisk: Mubarak will die in jail, but that’s no thanks to us

Twenty-five years is death, isn’t it, if you’re 84 years old? Hosni Mubarak will die in jail. And Habib al-Adli, his interior minister, 74 years old, maybe he will be killed in jail if he doesn’t live out his life sentence. These were the thoughts of two old Egyptian friends of mine yesterday. And Mubarak was sentenced for the dead of the 2011 revolution. That’s 850 dead – 34 people for each year of his term. Quite a thought.

Of course, we were not asking about the death sentences at the military courts in the 1980s and 1990s – and we can’t, can we, when the military is still in power in Egypt. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the field marshal who runs the country, never suggested these courts – and their death sentences – were wrong. Mubarak was fighting “terror”, wasn’t he? On our behalf, I believe. For he was a “moderate”, a friend of the West, and maybe that’s why Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, got off. Will they leave the country? Will they quit Egypt? No doubt.

So that’s the story. Let’s not mention Bashar al-Assad here. The Egyptian court was meant to be a lesson for him. Kofi Annan was down in Qatar, talking about the Syrian government’s sins yesterday. But, then, there are some problems, aren’t there? Didn’t Mubarak receive a few “renditioned” prisoners from George W Bush; tortured them, too, at Washington’s behest? And didn’t Damascus also torture a few “renditioned” prisoners – the name Arar comes to mind, a Canadian citizen, sent off from JFK for a touch of torture in the Syrian capital? Yes, our “moderate” Arabs were always ready to help us, weren’t they?

Read the rest at the link…and think about the nothing, everything quote.

Meanwhile, in Greece there have been some arrests involving recently elected MPs from the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, who were arrested over a racist attack.

Nikolaos Michaloliakos

Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, led by Nikos Michaloliakos, won 21 seats in last month’s election. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Two newly elected MPs from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were among six people arrested over an attack on a Pakistani man in Athens, in the latest in a series of incidents that have raised fears that Greece‘s immigrants are being targeted in the runup to this month’s crucial elections.

Ilias Panagiotaros and Ioannis Vouldis were briefly held alongside the daughter of Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, but were later released. According to police, the attack took place late on Friday when a group involved in a protest turned on a 31-year-old Pakistani bypasser.

Golden Dawn confirmed two of its MPs had been held, but denied they took part in the attack. “[They] could not have been involved because they were miles away,”it said in a statement.

Golden Dawn caused consternation across Europe after winning 7% of the vote in Greece’s elections in May, giving them 21 seats. It is the first time the far right has sat in parliament since the fall of the military junta in 1974. With their neo-Nazi insignia, violent rhetoric and calls to expel Greece’s immigrants, Golden Dawn’s leaders are hoping to exploit political instability in Greece to gain further ground in elections called for 17 June after no party was able to form a government following last month’s vote.

This group ran disturbing ads prior to the first election,

…with the campaign slogan, “Let’s rid this country of the stench.” On election night Michaloliakos dedicated their success to “all the brave youngsters who wear black T-shirts with Golden Dawn written in white”. Unemployment in Greece now stands at at 22%, and 52% among young people, and the party has sought to capitalise on a mood of fear across a country that is struggling to come to terms with rising crime, falling living standards and a feeling that it is on the brink of economic and political meltdown.

Greece’s 1 million immigrants have become an easy target for neo-Nazi and other far-right groups, who regularly parade through Athens chanting racist slogans.

Connie mentioned this group in the comments a couple months ago when the Greek election results came in. I had no idea they were so “out there” with their hate. I mean, look at that campaign slogan…wait a minute, that sounds like something one of the GOP Border Patrol candidates would say.

Now, I am going to bring it back to the US…and another op/ed. This time from Charles M Blow in the New York Times. Darkness in the Sunshine State

Florida ought to know better. And must do better, particularly on the issue of voting and discrimination.

But, then again, we are talking about Florida, the state of Bush v. Gore infamy and the one that will celebrate the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, with a statewide holiday on Sunday.

What am I getting at? This: Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities — than Florida.

Voter interference is very prevalent with the GOP, and it seems that the Dems aren’t speaking up loud enough against the purge going on in the Sunshine State. You are all well aware of the anniversary this past week, when Florida’s Democrat voters were disenfranchised by their own party.

I can’t quote the whole Blow op/ed, so again I will encourage you to read the entire post at the link above.

Some of what Blow touches on in his piece is the type of voter this tactical discrimination is aimed at, poorer minorities.

So, I think this next article about Income Inequality, Racism and Imprisonment sure seems to be a good follow-up to the Blow link. It has both the US rates and foreign country rates, but I will just quote the US ones.

Rates Increased in Unequal States.

The average rate of incarceration in the U.S. is 576 people in prison for every 100,000 people. Just as there are fewer persons per 100,000 in Japan (40 per 100K) who are in prison, there are differences between U.S. States in rates of imprisonment: Louisiana has an incredibly high rate, above 700 people per 100,000. Compare that to Minnesota, below 200 per 100,000. Maybe a difference of five or six times the percentage of people locked up between Louisiana and Minnesota. The chart below shows that these differences are correlated to income inequality differences in each State:

The article describes the way researchers came up with these graphs, but it also brings other things into the discussion.

Racism and Imprisonment.

TheSentencing Project graphs (see the bottom of page 4) show how the rate of incarceration for blacks is 6.70 times the number compared to the rate of incarceration of white people. The New Jim Crow book demonstrates how people of color are being persecuted and exterminated through the misuse and abuse of the U.S. courts and prison systems. The link to the Wikipedia summary is comprehensive and informative.  Stop and Frisk laws routinely sweep communities of color, arresting and imprisoning urban youth from impoverished communities. The war on the poor and people of color in the U.S. make manifest the extreme income inequality and deprivation of the class system in the U.S.. Racism is the penultimate expression of the worst, most oppressive but essential dynamic of income inequality.  The American imprisonment of people of color on a massive, genocidal scale is a direct outcome of a class based, extremely unequal society. In the U.S. a person of color is 6.04 times more likely to be in prison than a white person. In the courts, black youth are more likely to receive a harsher sentence than their white peers.

Again, I suggest going to the link and reading the whole thing. (And are you keeping that quote up top in the back of your mind…)

This next link is very personal…connected to me and my family. As you are all aware, my husband is a survivor of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. I completely disagree with the people below who feel that no mention should be made of the hijackers that flew the airliners into the Twin Towers. They must be made part of the museum, because truth must be told.

It seemed self-evident at the time: A museum devoted to documenting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would have to include photographs of the hijackers who turned four passenger jets into missiles. Then two and a half years ago, plans to use the pictures were made public.

The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

New York City’s fire chief protested that such a display would “honor” the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center. A New York Post editorial called the idea “appalling.” Groups representing rescuers, survivors and victims’ families asked how anyone could even think of showing the faces of the men who killed their relatives, colleagues and friends.

The anger took some museum officials by surprise.

“You don’t create a museum about the Holocaust and not say that it was the Nazis who did it,” said Joseph Daniels, chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation.

This anger surprised me too.

James Estrin/The New York Times

The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Such are the exquisite sensitivities that surround every detail in the creation of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which  is being built on land that many revere as hallowed ground. During eight years of planning, every step has been muddied with contention. There have been bitter fights over the museum’s financing, which have delayed its opening until at least next year, as well as continuing arguments over its location, seven stories below ground; which relics should be exhibited; and where unidentified human remains should rest.

Even the souvenir key chains to be sold in the gift shop have become a focus of rancor.

But nothing has been more fraught than figuring out how to tell the story.

It is a very long article…like most of the links today, I hope you take the time to read it.

The “Tribute in Light” memorial is in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, in honor of the citizens who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks. The two towers of light are composed of two banks of high wattage spotlights that point straight up from a lot next to Ground Zero. The ÒTribute in LightÓ memorial was first held in March 2002. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park, New Jersey on September11, 2006, the five year anniversary of 9/11. USAF photo by Denise Gould.

My husband saw first hand the “body parts that littered lower Manhattan.”  He smelled the death and burning for months after the buildings fell. The suit he wore to work that day is covered in dust…remains of those who were killed…remains of friends he saw everyday.

This is not something that should be portrayed with kid gloves. The horror of the attack must be shown for what it was. So many people have put that day out of their minds, and I think it is wrong to sugar coat the facts and hide the truth.

Yes, I get that the Memorial should be a solemn place for remembrance. I am not talking about that…I am talking about the Museum, which is something that needs to be frank in its representation of that day. Everything must be laid out.

The quote up top comes through my mind once again….with the museum that depicts the tragedy of that September day…What is it worth? Nothing…Everything.


Sunday Reads: Memorial Days and One Hot Summer Ahead

Memorial Day 1909, click image to see more vintage postcards.

Morning all!

This is a long weekend for many of you, and I hope that you all are enjoying it! Take care because it is during these weekends that bring about travel and water related fatalities.

Earlier this week, Boston Boomer mentioned something in a comment about the origin of Memorial Day. So I thought this link from the New York Times was interesting… Many Claim to Be Memorial Day Birthplace

James Rajotte for The New York Times

WATERLOO, N.Y.: OFFICIAL RECOGNITION Col. Lars Braun, who had just returned from 14 months in Iraq, in a Memorial Day parade in 2008 with his daughter, Rachel. In 1966, a presidential proclamation designated the town, in the Finger Lakes area, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Right on either side of Alabama, there are two places with the same name.

Like the one over in Mississippi, this Columbus was founded in the 1820s and sits just a few minutes from countryside in almost any way you drive.

Residents say it was here, in the years after the Civil War, that Memorial Day was born.

They say that in the other Columbus, too.

It does not take much for the historically curious in either town — like Richard Gardiner, a professor of teacher education at Columbus State University here — to explain why theirs is the true originator of a revered American holiday and why the other is well-meaning but simply misguided.

“I’m going to blame Memphis to some degree,” Professor Gardiner said, about which more later.

Oh boy, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned squabble about something that dates back to the Civil War.

The custom of strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers has innumerable founders, going back perhaps beyond the horizon of recorded history, perhaps as far as war itself. But there is the ancient practice and there is Memorial Day, the specific holiday, arising from an order for the annual decoration of graves that was delivered in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group made up of Union veterans of the Civil War.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday, an assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged avowals of local historians across the country.

Yet each town seems to have different criteria: whether its ceremony was in fact the earliest to honor Civil War dead, or the first one that General Logan heard about, or the first one that conceived of a national, recurring day.

The article mentions several of the towns that claim being the first, but it focuses on two specific towns.

the claims of the two Columbuses, eyeing each other across Alabama, are among the more nuanced and possibly the most intertwined.

[…]

Columbus, Miss., was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that Columbus where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.

As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son. A lawyer in Ithaca, N.Y., named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.

“My view is it’s really the poem that inspired the nation,” said Rufus Ward, a retired district attorney, sitting in his basement and sipping a mint julep (his grandmother’s recipe, he said, the one she shared with Eudora Welty).

The Georgians dispute little of this. But they argue that the procession in the other Columbus was actually inspired by the events in their Columbus.

And what about Georgia’s Columbus?

…Professor Gardiner points to a local woman named Mary Ann Williams, who in the spring of 1866 wrote an open letter suggesting “a day be set apart annually” and become a “custom of the country” to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.

That day, described as a national day, was chosen to be April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The letter, or a summary of it, ran in newspapers all over the South, and as far west as St. Louis and as far north as New Hampshire, leading to widespread ceremonies on that day.

It also ran in the The Memphis Daily Avalanche on March 27, 1866. But the paper had the wrong date — April 25.

“This misprint right here is the difference between what you’ll hear in Columbus, Mississippi, and here,” Professor Gardiner said, concluding that the Memphis misprint traveled to the other Columbus. The Mississippi commemoration did take place a day earlier, he admitted, but they go too far in claiming they came up with it independently. “I just can’t — I don’t buy it.”

But this day set by Mary Ann Williams was only for the Confederate dead. And still to this day the south celebrates Confederate Day, our Banjoville courthouse is closed on that day.

However, according to Professor of History David W. Blight, Yale University…the event that brought about Memorial Day is…

…a mostly forgotten — or possibly suppressed — event in Charleston, S.C., in 1865 at a racetrack turned war prison. Black workmen properly reburied the Union dead that were found there, and on May 1, a cemetery dedication was held, attended by thousands of freed blacks who marched in procession around the track.

He has called that the first Memorial Day, as it predated most of the other contenders, though he said he has no evidence that it led to General Logan’s call for a national holiday.

“I’m much more interested in the meaning that’s being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who’s first,” he said.

I agree with Blight’s assessment too. The meaning of the day is what is most important.

So with that in mind, please take a moment today and remember all the soldiers who have died in the service of their country.

More news links after the jump.

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