Wednesday Reads: Flowered Floats and Fiscal Cliffs and Fruitless Lawsuits

3f05186vGood Morning

How did y’all spend your first day of 2013?

Were you watching the fiscal “parley” of enemies down in the swamp?

After seeing what as become Obama’s calling card, his apparent need for approval and for people to “like” him…that makes Obama a shitty negotiator, I could not stand the constant cliff talk on all the news channels.

If, you avoided the news frenzy over the fiscal bunny slope, as Dakinikat calls it, you can read the updates as it happened here. Boston Boomer also posted this link in the comments, you should not miss it:

Political Animal – Obama and the Anxieties of the Financial Meritocracy

Otherwise, you can take a look at the following two articles:

‘Fiscal Cliff’: Congress Passes Compromise to Avert Recession – ABC News

Amid Pressure, House Passes Fiscal Deal – NYTimes.com

(Check out Biden’s grin at that NYT link…he sure is pleased with himself.)

Yesterday was the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade . The still make those floats out of all natural flowers and plants, and even though the Rose Parade commentary can be annoying as hell, I still like to see the pictures of the floats and performers.

FireShot Screen Capture #369 - 'The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade I Jan_ 1, 2013 - Framework - Photos and Video - Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times' - framework_latimes_com_2013_01_01_2013-rose-para

Dole’s “Dreaming of Paradise” float, love the flaming volcano! Click image for more photos of the parade.

This year Dole won the top trophy, the third time in a row…The colors are wonderful and brilliant, way much nicer than the other tropical color we have seen a lot of lately. You know, that tangerine orange skin tone of the big man on the hill.

Blossoming with lush tropical flowers and fresh fruits grown by Dole just for the Rose Parade, the award-winning float “Dreaming of Paradise” honored the independent family farmers from around the world that Dole partners with, and paid tribute to the beauty and bounty of Latin America’s tropical paradise.

The float, which heralded Dole’s mission of being actively involved in the communities of independent family farmers, also served as a reminder that with responsible, sustainable growing and operating practices the dream of paradise can remain alive.

To capture the essence of a tropical landscape, the Dole float featured a 26-foot erupting volcano complete with smoke and real fire shooting 20 feet into the sky over prowling tigers, fluttering butterflies, chimpanzees, parrots, dragonflies and three life-like waterfalls cascading more than 1,000 gallons of recycled water. Fully completing the spirit of Latin America, twenty Costa Rican dancers dressed in traditional costumes performed alongside the exotic and rare flowers from around the world.

That Paradise float is over 22 tons! Ooof!

FireShot Screen Capture #370 - 'The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade I Jan_ 1, 2013 - Framework - Photos and Video - Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times' - framework_latimes_com_2013_01_01_2013-rose-para

This image is also from the parade, you can click that photo of the Korean dancers to see more Rose parade pictures.

Of course, New Year’s Day does not only bring floats of flowers, it also brings plenty of college football. One state university that was nowhere to be seen on any bowl game field was Penn State. Their football program was punished by the NCAA for ignoring the obvious child abuse that was taking place within their “winning” football machine. A punishment that I thought lacked enough oomph in relation to the level of pain and trauma Penn States non-action caused. Well, guess what? The State of Pennsylvania is suing the NCAA. Money is honey and it is all that matters. State of Pennsylvania to file lawsuit against NCAA

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett will announce a federal lawsuit against the NCAA tied to the historic sanctions levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Corbett will hold a press conference on Wednesday morning in State College, Pa., to announce the suit, which will be filed by the state.

Penn State, which has been working in concert with the NCAA since the scandal, is not involved in preparing the suit. It is being handled solely by the state.

Corbett’s office has been vague in regard to the specific aim of the suit, but it appears to be dedicated to the overall sanctions issued by the NCAA in July. Corbett referred to them on Tuesday as “illegal sanctions.”

A wholesale suit against the NCAA by a third party as powerful as the state of Pennsylvania could loom as an important case in testing the ultimate power of the NCAA.

This suit against the NCAA could also have repercussions with any civil cases yet to be brought against Penn State University, as well as, the State of Pennsylvania because PSU is a state-run university.

Another possible suit that floated about news headlines this past week was proposed by the parents of a surviving victim of the Sandy Hook Shooting. However, it required prior approval by the state’s claims commissioner for the lawyer to even file a lawsuit against the state. Though the child’s attorney has withdrawn the request, I still feel it is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

The State of Connecticut has some of the most wealthiest residents in the nation, it also has a law that gives the state sovereign immunity against lawsuits…the only one in the country were only one person has the power to approve a suit brought against the state.  Check this out…for an Attorney to seek permission to sue the State they must first get one man to sign off on it. For a…

…lawsuit to proceed…(you) need a single man in an obscure agency in Hartford to agree — J. Paul Vance Jr., the state’s claims commissioner.

Vance’s power is unparalleled. Connecticut’s system, experts say, is unlike that of any other state.

“From the lawyers I have spoken to in other states, this is not something they have ever heard of,” said David Cooney, immediate past president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association.

Seems like this one man is the all powerful Oz when it comes to “who” can hold the state accountable for their actions.

The position, which dates back to the 1970s and is appointed every four years by the governor and Legislature, determines whether many types of claims of damages or injury lodged against state government are “just.”

The commissioner, after reviewing evidence and if necessary, scheduling hearings, can: Approve immediate payment of claims worth $7,500 and under; recommend the General Assembly pay or reject claims over $7,500; and allow lawsuits against Connecticut to proceed.

His decisions can only be appealed to the Legislature.

According to a decade’s worth of reports, the fewest number of claims submitted were 288 in fiscal year 2006-07, with the most — 586 — in 2004-05. Since 2004, an average of two dozen lawsuits have been allowed to proceed each year.

Hey, the state’s claims commissioner is an important and influential post. I’d imagine this dude has many ethical decisions to make every day…not just whether lawsuits are justified to move forward, but also addressing any conflicts that arise from who or what company this commissioner associates with…I mean, this is a sensitive position to hold.

The role of the claims commissioner originates with the principle of sovereign immunity: Governments should be protected from paying damages private citizens can be held liable for.

“Sovereign immunity is something we got from England,” said Richard Kay, a University of Connecticut law professor. “It originates in the phrase, `The king can do no wrong.’ Nonetheless, in modern times, given all the things a state does … you want the state accountable for its wrongs.”

So, Kay explained, processes were established for states to grant the right to be sued. Initially in Connecticut, claims were filed with the General Assembly, then a commission was created and whittled down in the 1970s to one person.

Michael Tardif, a Washington-based lawyer who in 2005 helped author a report on sovereign immunity, said many states have decided to waive that protection, instead setting damage caps to protect finances.

“In most you can go to court and file a lawsuit,” Tardif said.

Other states may also have commissions or boards that must approve lawsuits against the state, but they have several members who must vote on whether the suit can go forward or not. In Connecticut, only one man holds ALL the cards.

“It’s a bizarre, convoluted and arcane system,” said state Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, a senior member of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, the first stop for claims appeals. “Hopefully it weeds out bad claims. The risk is it also weeds out legitimate claims.”

Cooney, who has handled around two dozen claims cases, argued, “You have one person who has the complete discretion to say either you can file a lawsuit or not … I don’t see any reason why the state should have this mechanism in place to make it incredibly difficult to sue the state when no other corporate entity or individual has the same shield.

“If a judge hears it and there’s no legal basis for a claim, the judge will render a judgement for the state,” Cooney said. “Our clients would feel they’re getting a fairer shake because they get their day in court.”

And just who is this man? Well, his name is J. Paul Vance Jr., and he gave up his Waterbury mayoral bid when he was first appointed to the position by Gov. Daniel Malloy in the Fall of 2011. (You can read about the politics of this appointment here.)

Vance, Jr’s comments have caused some concerns from litigation lawyers in Connecticut. When he was given the claims commission job, Vance’s comments to the Waterbury Republican American were:

“I’ve always been a litigator, primarily defense, so this is the perfect fit for me.”

According to Bridgeport Attorney Charles Willinger, who represents the victim of a chimp attack and has been waiting for Vance’s decision on their request to sue the state.

“The claims commissioner has been described by the Connecticut Supreme Court as `the conscience of the state.’ What he is supposed to be doing is not defending the state against claims.”

Vance declined to discuss pending matters, but he said he knows his responsibilities.

“My job is not to protect the state,” Vance said. “It’s to make sure it’s a fair process for people.”

“There is that (sovereign) immunity, and there are situations where that immunity should be yanked.”

That is a huge responsibility for Paul Vance Jr. to hold, and if the claims commissioner’s name sounds familiar, it should. His father is J. Paul Vance, Sr., the official “spokesman” for the state police in charge of the Sandy Hook investigation.

We have seen Vance Sr. in action during the past few weeks giving information, or should I say…not giving information, during press conferences about the Newtown shooting.

I’ve stated repeatedly that I have a gut feeling about the peculiar attitude of Lt. Vance Sr. at these press conferences. There is something strange about the lack of information coming forward too. As Dak mentioned in a comment a few weeks ago:

….people are trying to understand what caused this to happen or at least what factors contributed to it. The only thing that I’ve noticed about this particular shooting is that the police haven’t been very forthcoming with anything. In some of the other shootings, we had all kinds of people coming forward and the police offered up a lot of different bits and pieces of information. The Head of the State troopers hasn’t been saying anything which leads to all kinds of rumors and speculation as people try to understand how something this horrible could happen. I think it’s just people looking for answers when no information has been forthcoming from the traditional sources. Think of how we knew immediately from the Aurora Mall shooter’s school and the Tuscon Mall shooter’s school and parents about their issues. They both had to even go through the criminal justice system so it’s rather odd that the Connecticut State Police seem so tight about whatever it is they have. Again, I think it’s just rampant speculation because no has come forward with anything concrete. Probably doing the community a lot of injustice and likely the shooter and his mom who both are the sources of all kinds of media rumors.

I got the impression Lt. Vance was very defensive about giving information on the investigation. You can click this link below to review the press conference I am talking about:

WATCH: CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE UPDATE ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TRAGEDY

Lt. Vance has a defensive attitude about his position as the singular voice of authority for all the various agencies investigating the shootings.

Maybe that has something to with Lt. Vance’s immediate family connection to the man who must approve any lawsuits the shooting victim’s families bring against the state.

Sounds like a conflict of interest to me…

And there is a difference in the tone and substance of the information they are releasing.  Take the Columbine shooting, and how that was handled in the press:

Officials In Newtown Follow A Well-Worn Media Script

In setting himself up as the sole source of reliable information, the state police spokesman was following a well-worn script for getting control of a big, growing story, says Steve Davis, who experienced similar challenges as the official liaison to the media covering the 1999 mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

‘Brutally Honest’ When Needed

On the day of the Columbine shootings, Davis was on the phone and first realized something was wrong when officers rushed out of the office. Within minutes, he was in a car on his way to the high school, trying to make sense of dozens of early and contradictory reports.

“I know it’s hard to imagine now that it could have been any worse, but there were reports that day that we had as many as eight gunmen in the school. Some were [reportedly] hiding in ductwork,” remembers Davis, who is now the spokesman for the police department in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.

Davis said he told reporters at Columbine, “Look, let’s try to understand that there’s going to be a lot of misinformation here. I will try to confirm it and reconfirm it before I give it to you.”

But Davis said he also was “brutally honest” when needed. “Sometimes I had to tell them, ‘You know what? I do know the answer to your question, but … I can’t release it quite yet.’ “

He set up on-the-hour news conferences to keep reporters informed and control the flow of information.

“A big part of each news conference was just rumor control,” Davis says. But he took all questions and did his best to get timely answers for reporters, he says.

Davis seems to have been genuinely concerned with relaying information to the public, more forthcoming with information and less arrogant with his attitude.

Considering the state has also decided to keep affidavits and warrants sealed, is there something the state wants to keep out of the press?  Sandy Hook affidavits remain sealed

A state Superior Court judge said Thursday that search warrant affidavits for the cars and home of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza and his mother would stay sealed for another 90 days.

Judge John Blawie granted motions filed Wednesday by Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky to extend the statutory sealing period for the five warrants, including three for the Yogonanda Street home where the 20-year-old Lanza fatally shot his mother, Nancy, four times in the face on the morning of Dec. 14, before embarking on the rampage that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.

The judge’s order also covers the two other search warrants, for the 2010 Honda Civic Adam Lanza drove to the school and for Nancy Lanza‘s 2009 silver BMW, which was parked in the garage attached to the home.

“The court finds that due to the nature and circumstances of this case and the ongoing investigation, the state’s interest in continuing nondisclosure substantially outweighs any right to public disclosure at this time,” Blawie wrote.

Those warrants and affidavits would have been made pubic 14 days after the being filed with the court.  Danbury’s State Attorney Sedensky said…

 …his applications that the affidavits contained information “not known to the general public” and that premature disclosure would “seriously jeopardize the outcome and success of the investigation” by “divulging sensitive and confidential information” known only to investigators.

Although no arrests have been made and “none are contemplated,” Sedensky also said the possibility has not been ruled out, and that releasing the information would make it difficult to solve crimes that others might have committed.

I understand the need to control the information coming out, and keep rumors and false media reports at bay, however much of the information first given by Lt. Lance was incorrect. (Like the name of the shooter, the weapons used to kill the students and faculty, etc.)

We have heard absolutely nothing new from Lt. Lance, in fact the only recent update to the investigation is reported by The Hartford Courant: Police To Re-Create Scene Outside Sandy Hook School

State police are considering partially re-creating the scene outside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14 as the first police officers responded to the mass shooting to try and answer a nagging question: Did Adam Lanza fire at police officers?

Police are discussing bringing back some of the cars that were in the school lot as the first Newtown officers and state police troopers arrived following 911 calls that was a shooter was on the loose. The cars will be placed exactly where they parked that morning as will the police cruisers of the first responders. The plan is to receate the scene in the coming week.

[...]

Police have found numerous bullets outside the school that hit at least three cars, including the one owned by Lauren Rousseau, who was killed by Lanza in her classroom along with 14 of her students and a special-education aide. The three cars that were hit, belonging to Sandy Hook staffers, were near where at least one of the first group of officers parked before running into the school, sources said.

Why weren’t these bullet holes investigated earlier?

Sources said the bullets that hit cars outside probably were fired from teacher Victoria Soto’s room. That was the second room Lanza entered as he firing at teachers and students. Soto and her aide, Mary Ann Murphy, were killed there, as were six students. Six other children escaped because, police believe, Lanza stopped firing briefly either because his gun jammed or he had trouble reloading his gun. Seven other students survived because Soto hid them in a closet.

Investigators are trying to determine if the bullets fired into the parking lot were strays as Lanza fired in Soto’s classroom or if he saw officers arriving and fired through the window at them. Investigators have done trajectory work in the classroom but now want to line up the police cars and see if it is possible some of the bullets were aimed at them.

No cruisers were hit and none of the officers interviewed so far has indicated that they were shot at. But several of the officers involved in the initial response have not been interviewed yet because they are still traumatized and they may not have realized they were being shot at as they ran towards the school.

Now, that article was published on Dec. 29th…and it states several of the initial response officers have not been interviewed yet? That seems strange to me….what do you think?

The partial re-creation will likely be one of the last things state police do at the school before wrapping up that part of the investigation. There are no plans to recreate what happened inside the school or to interview any of the students who survived, police say.

Well, it seems like police should talk to the students who survived for possible information relative to the case, it would also help these kids talk through this violent shooting that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

There have been several shooting deaths since the Sandy Hook massacre, and we know more about those crimes than we do about this shooting in Newtown. Think back to the information that was released in the days and weeks after the Holmes shooting in Aurora. The press had plenty of reports about James Holmes and what evidence they had found.

I sound like one of those conspiracy nuts, but there is a nagging in the back of my mind, and I can’t quiet let it go.

So, that is what I have for you this morning, be sure to post links to what you are reading today…hope to catch up with you later in the comment section.


Tuesday Evening: Darkness and Updates

Good Evening!

Today the sky grew dark early. I don’t know, with the autumn months, it does bring the night much earlier than during the summer, but for some reason…it got very dark around 5pm.

I am not in the mood for thoughtful observations and commentary tonight, so I will just post a few links and leave it at that.

First an update from Miriam, she made this comment four hours ago:

As talks of a possible pending ceasefire seem to be negotiated,- the predictable chaos ensues…lots and lots of rockets fired all day long and I feel like I’m spending more time in the shelter than out of it. I’m hopeful that we’ll see an end to all this soon. I miss my regular boring life.

I will keep you updated on her, I think it is important to maintain some kind of personal connection to the events playing out over there.

I’ve got some more updates for you all.

I wrote about this “stand your ground” case a while back, it dealt with a black man who killed a white man on a neighborhood basketball court. The dead man’s daughter was a witness and had to testify during the trial. Well, 71-year-old black man found guilty of manslaughter, jury rejects ‘Stand Your Ground’ claim | theGrio

A Tampa jury have found Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old black man,  guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of his white neighbor, 41-year-old David James, in front of James’ then-8-year-old daughter Danielle.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the jury rejected Dooley’s claim of self-defense under the state of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

One of the jury members said the law did not apply to this case, while jury foreman Walter Joss said, “The whole silly thing was over a skateboard … and it just escalated.”

However, the Jamaican-born Dooley believes that racism played a big part in his conviction.

He told reporters, “Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different we would be here today? … We wouldn’t.”

Hmmmm, let’s see how this case reflects the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, which is set for June 10th of next year.

Elmo has resigned…you may have heard by now that more accusations are coming forward in the matter of the annoying red muppet created by Kevin Clash.

Elmo Puppeteer Resigns After Fresh Allegation

Kevin Clash, the longtime voice and puppeteer behind “Sesame Street’s” Elmo character, resigned on Tuesday after a new allegation was made that he had underage sexual relationships.

Announcing the decision with what he called a “very heavy heart,” Mr. Clash said in a statement, “Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

His statement came at around the same time that a lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York accusing him of “sexual activity” with a 15-year-old. The accuser, Cecil Singleton, is now 24. The suit said that Mr. Singleton “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.” It sought $5 million in damages.

Mr. Clash had no comment on the lawsuit. He was first accused last week of sexual improprieties by a man who later recanted and said they had an “adult consensual relationship.” That man has remained anonymous and has not filed a suit.

Coincidentally, Buzzfeed reports that Penn State Takes Down A Photo Of Elmo Being Given A PSU T-Shirt

Penn State University appeared to make private a photo on their Flickr feed Tuesday of Elmo receiving a Penn State T-shirt during a visit to the university in March. The rest of the photos of the event remain online.

Shame they didn’t have the…geez what is the word? The humanity? No, the consideration? The responsibility? To act as quickly to the obvious sex abuse happening under their noses…

That is all I have for you…like I said, not up for much of anything tonight. This is an open thread, a tired…apathetic open thread.


Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m going to start out with an economics link today because I really get mad when partisan politics pushes an agenda that puts ignorance ahead of unbiased studies.  This is a prime example of why I no longer trust a single Republican to do what’s best for our country.  Congress asked for a study from the CRS –a nonpartisan, highly respected research source for Congress–on the relationship between high tax rates for high incomes and economic activity. It didn’t produce the results sought by Republicans so they squashed it.  I’ve shared a lot of studies over our years together that show the same thing including one a few weeks ago.  This is just one study showing that taxing rich people really doesn’t hurt the economy.   This just makes me want to scream.

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Mr. McConnell and other senators “raised concerns about the methodology and other flaws.” Mr. Stewart added that people outside of Congress had also criticized the study and that officials at the research service “decided, on their own, to pull the study pending further review.”

Senate Republican aides said they had protested both the tone of the report and its findings. Aides to Mr. McConnell presented a bill of particulars to the research service that included objections to the use of the term “Bush tax cuts” and the report’s reference to “tax cuts for the rich,” which Republicans contended was politically freighted.

They also protested on economic grounds, saying that the author, Thomas L. Hungerford, was looking for a macroeconomic response to tax cuts within the first year of the policy change without sufficiently taking into account the time lag of economic policies. Further, they complained that his analysis had not taken into account other policies affecting growth, such as the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates.

“There were a lot of problems with the report from a real, legitimate economic analysis perspective,” said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee’s Republicans. “We relayed them to C.R.S. It was a good discussion. We have a good, constructive relationship with them. Then it was pulled.”

The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical.

This is just one of a series of topics important to our future where we can depend on Republicans to ignore data, theory, and scientific evidence.  The worst ones come within the hard sciences like those dealing with in utero fetal development and climate change but this is just more of the same.  They want their ideology and have no regard for empirical evidence found through scientific research that shows just how wrong they really are.  More evidence that Republicans are insidious.

So, it’s Friday and we’re going to entertain my weird obsession of learning about people through graves and grave goods yet again.  Here’s my secret treasure trove of links and how Hurricane Sandy has exposed an interesting grave site. 

Superstorm Sandy  shut down Archaeology News for two days, and uprooted a tree in New Haven, Connecticut, that revealed a human skeleton. Authorities think the burial dates from the colonial era, when the site was used as a cemetery. The tree was planted in 1909 to commemorate the 100thanniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

In the 1950s, a skeleton with metal spikes  through its shoulders, heart, and ankles was found in central England, but a report on the discovery has just been made available. The burial dates to between 550 and 700 A.D. Such treatment of the dead was considered to be appropriate for individuals thought to be capable of returning to life and causing problems for the living. Scholars are no longer sure where this particular rare burial is located. “Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the punishment of being buried in water-logged ground, face down, decapitated, staked or otherwise was reserved for thieves, murderers, or traitors or later for those deviants who did not conform to society’s rules: adulterers, disrupters of the peace, the unpious or oath breaker. Which of these the Southwell deviant was we will never know,” said archaeologist Matthew Beresford.

Guess we’ll have to wait to see what they think about this newest find.

So, I think we need a little more female representation, experience and wisdom in our government so I’m so happy to see that Tammy Baldwin is ahead in Wisconsin and will play a key role in what goes on in the Senate in the upcoming Congress.  She’s been targeted by the worst of the worst and is running against Tommy Thompson who is a Republican favorite son.

New polls show Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, with a four-point lead over her Republican challenger, former governor Tommy Thompson, in a race which may determine control of the Senate and had previously been considered a lock for Republicans. If Baldwin is elected she would likely follow in the footsteps of Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold and be one of the more independent and progressive members of the U.S. Senate.

Outside groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity are spending millions on ads tagging Baldwin as “too liberal” for Wisconsin, and a variety of Democratic groups have criticized Thompson for his work at a lobbying firm with ties to outsourcing, helping make the state’s close Senate race the second-most expensive for outside money in the country and themost expensive in state history. The intensity of the race has also made it exceptionally negative , underscoring how close the race has become and its national importance.

Another race that is exciting is in Illinois where Tammy Duckworth will most likely take down Joe Walsh who is one of the worst of the worst Tea Baggers.  However, tons of big money is flooding into the race so we need to show Tammy all of our love and support.

Though the latest polls say U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is likely to lose to Democrat Tammy Duckworth next week, key members of Chicago’s corporate community and a couple of huge super PACs are coming to his aid, leading to a furious exchange of verbiage over whether at least the spirit of the law has been broken.

The corporate cash comes from the Exelon Corp. PAC, the Hospira Inc. PAC and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer John Carpenter, each of whom donated $2,500 to Mr. Walsh’s campaign committee in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week.

There’s nothing particularly controversial in those donations, though some Republicans say privately that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

But much bigger cash — and a much larger flap — has arisen over a late $1 million “independent” expenditure on Mr. Walsh’s behalf by the Missouri-based Now or Never super PAC.

If you’ll recall, Now or Never spent $2 million and said it was “seriously considering” dropping in another $2.5 million here, but then said it changed its mind. But last night, the group sent reporters an email saying it had changed its mind again and decided to spend another $1 million on anti-Duckworth TV ads.

“This is a resource and opportunity-based reversal,” Now or Never spokesman Tyler Harber emailed me. Recent negative reports about Ms. Duckworth “presented us with an opportunity to deliver an effective closing message.”

But Mr. Harber didn’t respond when I asked him who paid for the late blitz. That’s pertinent because earlier this year, Now or Never had been getting the vast bulk of its funding from another group, Americans for Limited Government, which does not disclose its funding. And the Duckworth campaign says ALG Chairman Howard Rich and his wife both have donated to Mr. Walsh’s personal campaign committee in the last year, raising questions of whether the ALG/Now or Never spending truly is uncoordinated, as the law requires.

Please send the Tammys some money!!  Donations to Tammy Baldwin can be sent here.  Donations to Tammy Duckworth can be sent here.

The CSM has an interesting article up on Penn State’s former President–Spanier– who was indicted for a variety of things related to Sandusky’s horrible, serial, long term acts of  child sexual assault.  I find this an interesting set of law suits given similar actions by Bishops and others from Catholic Archdioceses all over the country and the hierarchy of the Boy Scouts. Both organizations have engaged in similar patterns of behavior when confronted with the sexual assault of young boys on their watch and have not been confronted with the same tough legal retributions.  Schultz here refers to a now retired VP who is yet to be charged.  Hasn’t there been evidence of prior knowledge and cover-up in other institutions?  Why can’t we protect our children and decrease the incidence of sexual predators in our society?

Schultz kept a file about the 1998 and 2001 incidents involving Sandusky at his campus office and told staff members never to look in the file, Kelly said.

It was removed from the office on the day charges against Sandusky were announced and delivered to Schultz’s home.

The file’s existence, along with other information relevant to the grand jury investigation, was not disclosed until after Spanier was fired and trustees ordered full cooperation with the probe, she said.

Unbelievable.

I’m going to end with a thought from a female Buddha since I’ve just about had it with male energy after reading that article.  She’s an emanation of female wisdom and wow, do we need some of that today.

‎”When you arrive at the extinction of reality, there is nothing but the spontaneity of pure potential. There is no other way to dance in the sky.”

- Yeshe Tsogyal (757–817)

Anyway, those things have been on my reads list.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Rouge no…it’s blush-on

Good Morning

Funny how sometimes you miss things, little things.

While writing this post I am watching Taxi Driver, I’ve seen it many times, but for some reason I must have missed the director’s cameo. I don’t know maybe I’ve just forgotten that Martin Scorsese was sitting on the steps, watching Cybil Shepard walk by…in that white dress.

(Of course Scorsese has that speaking role in the cab as the crazed husband…but that scene is one I remember.)

Anyway, seeing this film again only makes those later Scorsese films, particularly the ones he did with Leonardo di Caprio even more disappointing.

Strange introduction I know, but I am dieting, and my fuzzy memory may just be the result of my body going through popcorn withdraws. Seriously, you have no idea just what kind of popcorn “freak” I am…and this no-fat Greek yogurt just is not giving me the same kind of satisfaction as those greasy salt covered popped kernels do.

I am so glad to see this week come to an end, my dad is refusing to listen to the doctor’s recommendations…so it is back to the same old story. Damn it’s so frustrating, it’s like living a re-run every six to seven months.   I really don’t mean to ramble on like this, but when you see the paltry selections of links I have for you today, you will see that I am just too tired…and to hungry to write a long post.

On Friday, I posted a bunch of cartoons about the Penn State cover-up. Well, this first story reads like something you would see in one of those cartoons. (Especially the ironic bit about the Blue Ribbon.) You will see what I mean, check it out, emphasis mine.  Artist paints over halo on Joe Paterno mural

An artist has removed a halo from a mural of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno amid the school’s child sex-abuse scandal.

On the left, the original mural depiction of Joe Paterno. On the right, the updated version.

Michael Pilato had put a halo over Paterno’s image after the beloved coach’s death in January, but said he felt he had to remove it Saturday after a report that Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier and others buried allegations of child sex-abuse against ex-assistant Jerry Sandusky. Paterno’s family denies the claim.

Pilato added a large blue ribbon, instead, on Paterno’s lapel symbolizing support for child abuse victims, a cause the artist said Paterno had endorsed.

Pilato earlier removed Sandusky from the downtown mural. He said he hasn’t made a decision on Spanier’s image. Spanier has not been charged. Sandusky has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

Paterno wearing a ribbon to support child abuse victims? A cause Paterno supposedly endorsed, it just makes me sick!

Ugh, my guess is that I am not the only one feeling ill after reading that crap. This next link is not as disturbing, it discusses some pathetic statistics about uninsured women…however there is some hope that as the ACA kicks in, many of these women will finally get some coverage. Nearly Half Of American Women Afraid They Can’t Afford To Get Sick

In England, getting sick is a health issue, not an economic one.

Indeed, a full 91 percent of U.K. women are confident they could afford the costs associated with a serious illness. Not so in the United States, where 48 percent of women can’t express such confidence, according to a recently released study by The Commonwealth Fund.

No doubt a lot of that has to do with a lack of insurance. In 2010, roughly 18.7 million women in the United States, or 20 percent, did not have access to health insurance. This amounts to 6 million more women without insurance than just ten years before. (h/t: EurekAlert)

This new report by the commonwealth fund says the number of uninsured has increased since 2010. Now one in four Americans are uninsured.

This is all important because the decision to seek help is tremendously influenced by whether someone has insurance. While only 32 percent of insured women were put off from seeking care because of cost-related issues, that percentage more than doubled among uninsured women, the study found.

The report does estimate that the percentage of women in the United States without access to health insurance will fall to 8 percent upon the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In Texas, which today is estimated as having the highest percentage of uninsured women, approximately 11.6 percent of women will remain uninsured after the act’s full implementation.

As I mentioned up top, I recently started a diet, everyone in my family has. We are trying to eat healthier. I guess keeping a journal will be another way to help to lose the weight. Keep a journal, don’t skip meals to shed weight: study

Want to drop those extra pounds without starving yourself? Keeping a food journal, not skipping meals and eating out less often, particularly for lunch, will help, according to new research released on Friday.

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, in a study that looked at the impact of various self-monitoring techniques in older overweight and obese women, showed that simple changes in behavior can make a difference on the scales.

They found that in the year-long study women who kept journals lost six pounds (2.7 kgs) more than those you didn’t, but if they skipped meals they dropped eight pounds (3.6 kgs) less than women who ate regularly.

Ladies who lunched in a restaurant at least weekly lost on average five fewer pounds (2.3 kgs).

Maybe a journal will help keep track of what I eat, but I fear my notes will turn into nothing more than bitch sessions, full of long passionate run-on sentences about the foods I am craving, intertwined with the typical cursing associated with someone whose put off dieting for so long.

Again I go off on a tangent.

Hillary is in the news again, Hillary Clinton most-traveled Secretary of State ever -

Hillary Clinton most-traveled Secretary of State ever

Jul. 14, 2012 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues on her marathon diplomatic trip around the world in Egypt, marking her 9th country in 13 days. Clinton has traveled to 102 countries as diplomat to the world.

Wow, what a woman!

I will end this post with two clips, the first one is from the movie Taxi Driver, and the scene is one of the most famous in all cinema. You talkin’ to me?

Then we have the same scene, only with a South Park finish…as Mr. Garrison goes shopping for just the right gun. I’ve tried to embed the video on this post, but it may not be working correctly. Anyway, be sure to check it out.

Buying a Gun (Season 1, Episode 2) – Video Clips – South Park Studios

Weight Gain 4000
Get More: SOUTH
PARK
more…

Weight Gain 4000
Get More: SOUTH
PARK
more…


Sunday Reads: Three, Eight, Eleven, Fifty and Leap

Good Morning

I spent most of Saturday inside a mall in Atlanta. The place was packed but people were not spending much, aside from the pretzel joint and The American Girl store. Geez, those dolls were everywhere. Some girls even carried two of these freaky “Talky Tina” incarnate dolls, and what a sight…all three wearing the same outfit. Hmmm, I wonder how many of those dolls come to life and wind up telling Telly Savalas, “My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you.” (Yes, I know it is a cheap reference to Twilight Zone, don’t worry I have some other stories to share with you that will also have literary or film references.)

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a link in the comments that I think deserves front page mention. The article is about the latest revelation out of the Catholic Church…and I’m not talking about contraception. Court filing: Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing.

The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese’s Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month.

They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him.

Cardinal Bevilacqua died this past January 31st

The revelation is likely to further cloud Bevilacqua’s complicated legacy in the handling of clergy sex abuse and could shape what happens at the historic trial, the first for a cleric accused of covering up sex abuse. Jury selection began this week. Opening statements are March 26.

Prosecutors say that Lynn, as the secretary for clergy, recommended priests for assignments despite knowing or suspecting that they would sexually abuse children. Facing trial with him are two former parish priests accused of molesting a boy in the 1990s, the Rev. James J. Brennan and Edward Avery.

The Defense is arguing that the recently discovered memo is proof that the cover up of repeated child sex abuse was directed by church officials.

This story reads like a pitch for a Showtime movie of the week, or maybe a sick mini-series on Lifetime.

After becoming secretary for clergy in 1992, they say, Lynn began combing the secret personnel files of hundreds of priests to gauge the scope of misconduct involving children. He did it, his lawyers said, because he “felt it was the right thing to do.”

The result was his February 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of abuse or pedophilia. Lynn allegedly gave it to his superior, Msgr. James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration, who shared his duties documenting abuse complaints.

Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Molloy and Bishop Edward P. Cullen, then the cardinal’s top aide, the filing says. After the meeting, Bevilacqua allegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo.

One week later, Molloy allegedly destroyed four copies, with the Rev. Joseph Cistone as a witness. “This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua,” say Molloy’s handwritten notes.

But Molloy apparently had second thoughts. Without telling anyone, he took a copy of the memo, and his notes, and placed them in a portable, locked safe.

According to the motion, that safe remained untouched and unnoticed until 2006, when archdiocesan officials found it and hired a locksmith to open it. It’s unclear why the records inside were only recently turned over to Lynn’s lawyers and prosecutors, although church lawyers have said they have been reviewing thousands of files to comply with trial subpoenas.

Back in 2002, Bevilacqua had mentioned a list of 35 suspected priests, of which the archdiocese had giving information on to the Philadelphia District Attorney. However…

…He did not mention any memo from eight years earlier or his order to shred it.

During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to Lynn.

“I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up,” he testified.

This now places some concern about the Cardinals videotaped testimony, and whether he perjured himself…and what effect this will have on the prosecution’s case. James Molloy died in 2006. The article mentions an interview he gave before his death that may have hinted at the memo and extra copy of the list of abusive priest.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Molloy described reaching a point when “I couldn’t be sure that I could trust my superiors to do the right thing.” So, he said, he became diligent about documenting his actions.

“I wanted my memos to be there if the archdiocese’s decisions were eventually put on the judicial scales,” Molloy said then. “This way, anyone could come along in the future and say, this was right or this wrong. But they could never say it wasn’t all written down.”

It looks as though Lynn has been used as a scapegoat…but if this is all true it sounds eerily similar to the abuse situation and cover-up at Penn State. .

Think about the parallels between the two cases. Though they are not exact, they seem to mirror one another.

In the Sandusky scandal, an assistant coach walks in on Sandusky anally raping a young boy in the school’s gym shower. He goes to the men in charge, head coach, college president and head of college security…and tells them what he saw. The cover up goes from there…and nothing is done to protect the children who are being abused by Sandusky.

In Lynn’s case, two of the main players, the Cardinal Bevilacqua and Msgr. Malloy are now dead…with Penn State, Head Coach Joe Paterno died last month. Testimony was given in both cases to a grand jury before the men died…it would be something if the Feds find a “smoking” gun or memo in the documents they have subpoenaed from Penn State this past week.

Since I have brought up the Sandusky Child Abuse story, I might as well update you on that.

Feds seek PSU hard drives, financial info in Sandusky case

Penn State adds detail about Sandusky subpoena

Jerry Sandusky scandal:  Feds subpoena Penn State for top officials’ info

I am going to stick with US news for now…so more after the jump.

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