Saturday Reads

Dec. 7, 1941: The destroyer Shaw's forward magazine explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (LA Times).

Dec. 7, 1941: The destroyer Shaw’s forward magazine explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (LA Times).

Good Morning!!

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, “a date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941. From the LA Times:

An Associated Press story on the Dec. 8, 1941, front page of the Los Angeles Times reported:

Japan assaulted every main United States and British possession in the Central and Western Pacific and invaded Thailand today (Monday) in a hasty but evidently shrewdly-planned prosecution of a war began Sunday without warning.

Her formal declaration of war against both the United States and Britain came 2 hours and 55 minutes after Japanese planes spread death and terrific destruction in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor at 7:35 a.m. Hawaiian time (10:05 a.m., P.S.T.) Sunday.

The claimed successes for the fell swoop included sinking of the United States battleship West Virginia and setting afire of the battleship Oklahoma.

On Dec. 8, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started his famous speech:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

Within an hour, Congress passed a declaration of war against Japan, bringing the United States into World War II. On Dec. 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

There are more dramatic photos at the link. There aren’t many survivors of that day left, but at least two of them talked to news outlets yesterday. From the Denver Post:

COLORADO SPRINGS — No one asked Navy Lt. James Downing to hurriedly memorize the names on the dog tags of the dead and injured during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But Downing, then 28, did it because he could not bear the thought of families not knowing the fate of their loved ones. He wrote to as many families as he could.

The Colorado Springs resident, who celebrated his 100th birthday in August, is the oldest known survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese sneak attack that killed more than 2,400 Americans .

Downing fought to save lives that day, all the while wondering whether it was the day his own life would end.
Downing was a gunner’s mate 1st class and postmaster, assigned to the USS West Virginia. The battleship had just returned to base after more than a week on patrol.

His wife of five months, Morena, was cooking Sunday morning breakfast for a few servicemen in the couple’s home near the harbor when they heard explosions in the distance, Downing said.

“Then an anti-aircraft shell landed right outside and blew a crater about 25 feet across,” Downing said, illustrating with outstretched arms.

In those days, there was no way for survivors to let their families know they were okay–it took until Christmas for some to be able to to contact loved ones. Another Pearl Harbor survivor, Richard Pena, spoke to Huffington Post.

It was life and business as usual for Navy veteran Richard Pena until the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor just before 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941.

Pena was eating breakfast and was about to head out for his morning duty as quartermaster to raise the flag when the attack started, he told HuffPost Live. As far as he recalls, the flags never went up that day, Pena said.

Before the attack, Pena said he and his fellow officers were living “the good life” stationed in Hawaii. Coming from San Antonio, Texas, it was his first time away from home.

“In the blinking of an eye, a split second, your life is turned topsy-turvy,” Pena reminisced. “It’s hard to describe what you’re feeling. People tell you you’ve trained for this all the time, but you didn’t know that it was going to happen the way it did.”

 

Back in December 2013, much of the country is dealing with stormy weather. CNN reports: Power outages, travel nightmare — and snow in Vegas?

More sleet and subfreezing temperatures are predicted to hit areas from Dallas to Memphis until Sunday, and Little Rock, Arkansas, until Monday.

The nation’s capital will not be spared from the cold either. Snow or sleet is forecast for Washington on Sunday.

In the central Appalachians through central New England, snow is expected into early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.

In addition to the plummeting temperatures, the drastic swings were startling. Hot Springs, Arkansas, experienced a record high of 75 on Wednesday. By Friday, it was in the middle of an ice storm.

The Dallas/Fort Worth area is among the hardest hit. It will have a high of 27 degrees Saturday, a day after the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport canceled almost 700 flights, about 80% of those scheduled.

And, yes, Las Vegas will be in the 20′s over the weekend.

The bad weather across the South and Midwest came from winter storm Cleon. Out in the Northwest, winter storm Dion is gearing up to rush across the country, impacting the south and moving up into the Northeast. You can get live updates on Dion here. For once, eastern New England could be one of the least affected areas. We got some freezing rain last night and the streets are slippery this morning, but it’s no big deal. The only other impact on us will probably be some sleet and freezing rain on Monday morning. I’m really feeling for those of you who are suffering from these storms. Trust me, I know what you’re going through! Here are some of the records that have been set around the the country:

  • Denver: Record low of -13 degrees on Wednesday beat the old record of -5 degrees set in 2008. Thursday’s low of -15 tied the daily record. Denver dropped to -13 degrees on Saturday morning, tying another record low.
  • Ely, Nev.: Record low of -17 degrees on Wednesday crushed the old record of -5 degrees.
  • Great Falls, Mont.: Record low of on Wednesday topped the old record of 22 degrees below zero.
  • Casper, Wyo.: Record low of -22 degrees on Wednesday beat the old record of -11 degrees set in 1972.
  • Medford, Ore: Record low of 18 degrees on Wednesday and a record low of 14 on Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, this is the coldest air mass in the city since 1998.
  • Portland, Ore. and Astoria, Ore.: Three straight days with daily record lows through Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Spokane, Wash.: Saw its first high in the teens since Feb. 26, 2011 on Thursday.
  • Glasgow, Mont.: Recorded its first subzero high temperature since Jan. 18, 2012 on Thursday.
  • Great Falls, Mont.: Low of -33 degrees on Saturday was the coldest temperature recorded so early in the season. Previous record was Dec. 8, 1972 (-36 degrees).

Some good news: North Korea has released (they say “deported”) 85-year old Korean war veteran Merrill Newman after holding him prisoner for more than a month and forcing him to “apologize.” The Independent reports:

North Korea has deported an elderly US tourist and Korean War veteran detained since October for alleged hostile acts against the country.

The country’s official state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Merrill Newman has been expelled on “humanitarian grounds” because of his age and health after he “confessed” to crimes during the 1950-53 war and apologised.

The 85-year-old flew to China this morning where he boarded a flight to San Francisco. Speaking to Japanese reporters at Beijing airport, he said: “I’m very glad to be on my way home. And I appreciate the tolerance the DPRK government has given to me to be on my way. I feel good, I feel good. I want to go home to see my wife.”

[Newman] has been in detention since being taken off a plane on October 26 by North Korean authorities following a 10-day tour of the country. KCNA claimed that Merrill had ordered the deaths of North Korean civilians and soldiers during the war. His family say he was a victim of mistaken identity.

I have some more new and some longer reads for you, which I’ll list link dump style.

MassLive: President Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, to face deportation hearing in Boston.

According to a court docket, the case will be heard by Immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro on Tuesday afternoon in Boston Immigration Court at the John F. Kennedy Federal Building.

Onyango Obama is the president’s father’s half brother.

A judge issued a deportation order against Onyango Obama, who is from Kenya, in 1992. But Obama never left the country. The Boston Globe reported that Obama was working as a liquor store manager when the Framingham Police arrested him for drunk driving in August 2011. He was sentenced to probation in that case, and the charges brought renewed attention to his immigration status.

The Globe reported that Obama has been living in the United States since 1963, when he came to enroll in school here as a 17-year-old. He was first ordered deported in 1986, although appeals continued in that case for six years.

For Pete’s sake, why can’t they just let the poor guy stay in the US? He’s been here for 50 years! Meanwhile, President Obama acknowledged that he lived with his uncle briefly in the 1980s. It had been thought that the two had never met, but no one bothered to ask the President directly about it until now.

New research on Toxoplasmosis  gondii, the parasite associated with cat litter boxes, undercooked meat, and other sources, shows that it can have some positive effects on the brain.

New neuroscience research says that Toxo—the cysts in our brains from cats—can improve our self-control. For the 30 percent of people who have this infection, it’s about more than promiscuity, schizophrenia, and car crashes.

I’ll let you read the details at the link if you so desire. I decided not to read about it, since there’s nothing I can do if I have it…

This article in the Atlantic is from September, and it’s long; but I highly recommend it if you like human interest stories and/or true crime tales. Murder by Craigslist: A serial killer finds a newly vulnerable class of victims: white, working-class men. Fascinating and surprising reading–I highly recommend it.

From Technology Review: Identifying Signs of Chronic Brain Injury in Living Football Players

Eight former pro football players learned this year that they have signs of a degenerative brain disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition linked to depression, dementia, and memory loss. These somber findings were uncovered using a new method of brain imaging that, for the first time, enables researchers to spot signs of the condition in the living brain. Previously CTE could only be identified after a victim died.

The new method could help quantify the risks of repetitive blows to the head (see “Images of a Hard-Hitting Disease” and “Military Brains Donated for Trauma Research”). It could also help future players avoid the degenerative and sometimes lethal condition by limiting their exposure, and it may help scientists develop better protective gear and treatments.

Two interesting reads from Alternet:

20 Things the Poor Do Everyday That the Rich Never Have to Worry About

This one partially explains why I’m so down on Glenn Greenwald: Why Atheist Libertarians Are Part of America’s 1 Percent Problem

This morning’s stupid right winger stories:

Rick Santorum: Nelson Mandela Fought ‘Great Injustice,’ Just Like Republicans Are Battling Obamacare

Eric Cantor Calls the Police on Children Who Were Singing In His Office

House Majority Leader Brushes Off Young Girl As She Asks Him To Help Her Undocumented Father

The Right Wing’s Campaign To Discredit And Undermine Mandela, In One Timeline

Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following? Please let us know in the comment thread, and if you are in the path of Cleon and/or Dion, please stay safe and warm and update us on your situations if you can.


Moments of Lucidity, Working the SEO and a Weekend Filled with “Fear and Darkness” …Oh Yeah, this is an open thread too.

c1407bb0d326d9cc7b36793cbec25dabGood Evening!

Hey, how is everyone doing?

Hope you will bear with me a few paragraphs while I ramble on a little, with a quick observation and story before I get to the few links I have for you tonight.

Y’all know that I was recently put on Topamax for my epilepsy…and as a bonus, it would help my debilitating migraines. I’ve mentioned the dopamax effect it has had on me, and you have probably noticed the other side effect, shall we say dopamax induced blogging Tourette syndrome.

My mom was the one who pointed it out to me last week. While reading one of my posts she said out loud, “JJ, what a foul mouth you have.” Of course, her bit of criticism surprised me, considering that the woman knows every other word out of my mouth is damn, shit, asshole….well, you get the picture. But, what my mom was commenting on was that my posts of late have become more “colorful,” in that I was dropping shit bombs left and right. (Not only shit bombs, but several ass holes and even a few fuck wads.)

I think this is a side effect of the topamax. What I usually could control in my writing is now finding it’s way in uncontrollable outbursts…dopamax induced blog…shit…swear word…damn…Tourette syndrome….ass…ass…asshole fuck fest.

Wow, don’t know where that came from. (My apologies to anyone who may be offended by my comments…this is meant as a joke, to be taken in a humorous way and not intended to degrade or demean anyone who suffers from dopamax induced uncontrollable curse word blogging or Tourette Syndrome.)

Which leads me to this little story…here in the land of Banjoville, we have a bit of an ongoing scandal, what I call Cheergate.  It seems that a lot of the parents are pissed off that their girls did not make the competition cheerleading team. So, it was decided that a new open tryout will be held.  Obviously, this is not fair, and reeks of sour grapes and bullshit…so being the woman I am, I took it upon myself to call the powers that be and voice my opinion.

Now, since the dopamax makes me completely loopy, imagine my surprise when I had a few moments of lucidity and spoke in a coherent manner….even talking in words more than three syllables long. According to my mom, who was listening to most of my side of the conversation, I was impressive…sounding like a real professional, mentioning Georgia High School Sports Associations, Rules and Regulations and I have to say, whatever was said, it sure did shut the principal up…they had no response.  Of course, moments after I hung up the phone I couldn’t even remember what the hell I said. It was so bad that when I tried to explain to my daughter what happened, all I could get out was…”It had to do with lying and making something up, it begins with an f or an s and it has more than 2 syllables.”  Who the hell knows what word I was trying to tell her.

Well, now and then we all have our moments of clarity…even if they are just fleeting at that.

One more thing, a mention about the blog. Wow, we have had so many hits the past couple of weeks. It is quite something to see the numbers of people visiting our little blog that come from all over the world…Google is a strange and wondrous thing.  Kind of like the catch 22 you have with the SAG card in acting. You can’t get an acting gig without a SAG card and you can’t get a SAG card without the acting gig. We got big notice with the Google gods a couple of weeks ago with Boston Boomer’s Too Good Looking post, and with that surge in hits and outside links…it makes getting those higher ranking search results a lot more frequent.

So, the reason I mention this is just to say hello to any new readers out there who do come back and give Sky Dancing another look, we are glad you are here! (And to our regular readers, y’all know that obviously goes without saying…)

Now…for the links.

Y’all may have missed this, it is magnificent!

Jon Stewart Tears Apart NRA’s False Choice Between Freedom And ‘Obama-Sponsored Government Mom Rape’ | Mediaite

Jon Stewart opened Monday night’s edition of The Daily Show by looking back at the weekend’s NRA convention and its not-so-singular focus on guns. With Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and others in attendance, Stewart realized, “this is the same lineup, with the same laundry list of conservative grievances, that we saw at CPAC a month and a half ago.”

Eventually the speakers did get to the primary issue of guns, with Glenn Beck going after President Obama for his “tactics of fear and darkness.” Stewart congratulated Beck for acknowledging that “fear mongering is wrong” before playing another clip of him saying, “the only difference between your mom and sister getting raped and then walking home unmolested is a gun.”

“At the heart of the NRA’s message,” Stewart said, is “don’t let liberals say it’s a dangerous world and scare you into gun control. Let us say it’s a dangerous world and scare you into gun-a-pa-looza!” But, of course, the NRA’s real mantra comes from executive Wayne LaPierre: “Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.”

Based on Beck’s warnings against tyranny, the “government is the bad guy.” But based on LaPierre’s praise of the Boston police, “government is the good guy.” By the end of the segment, Stewart said he believes we all want the same thing: for “bad guys not to have guns.” While he and other Democrats want background checks, it appears some on the right want to “wait for a bad guy to draw and then draw faster.”

But if that’s the case, he said, “stop pretending that background checks are the last barrier standing between a free America and Obama-sponsored government mom rape.”

You have to go and see the clip…I know that I quoted most of the Mediate post, but seriously, Stewart just nails it…and that summary is just right.

There was also this from Ian Reifowitz: Gun Owners of America Is ‘Primarying’ the NRA From the Right

The NRA is even more extreme than it was just a few years ago. And that’s saying something. We’ve seen the shift in their rhetoric and in their policy positions. They just elected a new president, James Porter, who called the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression,” who referred to Barack Obama as a “fake president,” and who believes that one of our highest priorities should be to train and arm all our citizens so that, when the time comes, they can “fight tyranny.”

Wow. Take a deep breath. Yes, the new NRA president is a far right-wing extremist whose rhetoric makes his predecessor, David Keene, look like a Rockefeller Republican.

That is no news to us of course,

There’s no one simple reason why the NRA has moved even further to the right in recent years. Certainly, the right wing overall has become more extreme and paranoid since the election (and reelection) of President Obama. The Southern Poverty Law Center has plenty of material on the most extreme among them.

But within the gun movement, we are seeing something very specific, something that has a parallel within Republican electoral politics as a whole. In the last few years, conservative — not moderate but conservative — Republican senators like Richard Lugar of Indiana and Robert Bennett of Utah were defeated in reelection bids by insurgents who have come at them from the right. This is exactly what is happening to the NRA.

I didn’t see much room to the right of the NRA. At least I figured that any group to their right would have to be so extreme as to be unable to achieve any kind of influence. Wow, was I wrong. Gun Owners of America, led by its executive director, Larry Pratt, has done exactly that. The New York Times gave them a large degree of “credit” for mobilizing conservative opposition to the recent gun control package on Capitol Hill.

And I don’t think the word “extremist” truly captures where Pratt stands. Pratt’s been fomenting hatred and paranoia about President Obama’s desire to create a private army, and claimed that the president was “definitely capable” of using that army to start a race war.

The things Pratt has said should have made him 100 percent persona non grata to any senator or congressman. That he and his organization were able to spearhead a lobbying campaign in the halls of Congress tells you everything you need to know about the Republican Party’s tolerance of hateful, bigoted extremism.

Again nothing new there….

But this kind of extremism represents a real challenge to the NRA. If they don’t step up, they could lose credibility and eventually even leadership of the gun movement to a group like Gun Owners of America. GOA’s website prominently features a statement from former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the gold standard for extremism among national politicians, praising it as “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.”

Notice who that praise is aimed at. The implication is that the NRA is a bunch of weak-kneed compromisers, squishy moderates. You want a real gun rights organization, then come over to the GOA.

There’s no formal primary, no election day where the NRA and the GOA are on competing ballot lines. But make no mistake that there is a competition. The NRA has a huge head start, and should have no trouble winning. But they aren’t taking any chances. The NRA won’t be out-crazied by anyone.

Uh…Okay then.

Hmmmm.

Personally, I think they are all batshit crazy fuck-faced asshole bastards with tiny dicks and even smaller brains! (Same goes for the women gun-nuts too…sans penises.)

Anyway, I will end this post with this cartoon…

NRA Takes a Turn to the Right – Political Cartoon by Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, Inc. – 05/07/2013

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - NRA Takes a Turn to the Right

Y’all have a great evening, my daughter has a chorus concert tonight so I won’t be around until late.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Delusional Republicans, Complicit Media, and Lots More

off-to-see-the-wizard

Good Morning!!

Yesterday the House Republicans made a so-called “counteroffer” to President Obama’s initial proposal for avoiding the fiscal cliff that basically consists of the Romney/Ryan plan that voters already rejected. The plan called for cutting Medicare by raising the eligibility age to 67, cutting Social Security by change the COLA, and supposedly “raising revenues” without raising rates on the rich–with specifics to be determined next year.

The White House rejected the offer immediately as basically a joke and will not be making a counteroffer, according to CNN’s Jessica Yellin.

Senior administration officials said the offer House Speaker John Boehner submitted to the White House on Monday wasn’t serious enough to merit a counter-proposal from the administration. So the president’s team plans to wait for the GOP to come around on the idea of raising tax rates or let the nation go over the fiscal cliff.

In a statement Monday White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer blasted the Republican plan, arguing it “does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill.”

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Republicans have gone over the rainbow and have lost touch with reality. They simply can’t accept that they lost the election, and they just aren’t in “Kansas” anymore.

The talk in DC is that the Republicans have talked about a “doomsday plan,” actually another tantrum in which they metaphorically throw themselves down on the House floor screaming and kicking until they get their way. According to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl:

Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely. It’s quite simple: House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more: no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes. Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling.

Two senior Republican elected officials tell me this doomsday plan is becoming the most likely scenario. A top GOP House leadership aide confirms the plan is under consideration, but says Speaker Boehner has made no decision on whether to pursue it.

Under one variation of this Doomsday Plan, House Republicans would allow a vote on extending only the middle class tax cuts and Republicans, to express disapproval at the failure to extend all tax cuts, would vote “present” on the bill, allowing it to pass entirely on Democratic votes.

It’s a mystery what Republicans think they would gain by doing this, so I guess the childish temper tantrum metaphor continues to fit.

What bothers me even more than the Republicans’ nonsensical refusal to accept reality is that the media has apparently decided to go over the rainbow too and pretend that the childish tantrums make some kind of sense. During the presidential campaign, I got the feeling that corporate “journalists” were beginning to face up to reality when they began actually admitting that Mitt Romney’s was telling bald-faced lies with regularity. But no–they’re returned to the default position of pretending that “both sides do it.” A few days ago, Michael Grunwald wrote a great piece about this at Time’s Swampland blog: Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn’t Full of It.

It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.

This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.

I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.

Dakinikat has written about this repeatedly, of course, but it’s nice to see it in the corporate media for a change.

Speaking of media madness, I don’t watch CNN much anymore but it seems like any time I click by the channel one of two people is on the air–Wolf Blitzer or Erin Burnett. Do they even have any other reporters working there in the afternoon an evening?

What’s the deal with having Erin Burnett covering serious news stories, even foreign policy stories? Burnett’s background is as co-anchor of a show on CNBC as an adviser to Donald Trump on Celebrity Apprentice! She recently “interviewed” Julian Assange and failed to ask him even one significant question.

Unfortunately, I don’t get Current TV, but apparently Cenk Uygur has been criticizing Burnett relentlessly for the past couple of years. Most recently, he accused her of ‘Guarding The Fortress’ By Abetting Gutting Of Medicare. From Mediaite:

“Erin Burnett is someone that represents the rich, powerful, the establishment, in my opinion,” Cenk said, “and you can see it in her CNN reports all the time.”

Cenk set up a clip from Burnett’s show, in which Rep. [Peter] DeFazio explains how deficit reduction can be achieved without gutting Medicare benefits. “Listen to her be incredibly incredulous about this,” he said, before playing a few snippets from OutFront.

“(President Obama) has said ‘Yes, I support raising the age on Medicare from 65 to 67,” Burnett says. “Simpson-Bowles talked about raising the age. Most people do, and say that’s really going to be the only way to get out of this. You really think we don’t have to make real changes, or is that just, I understand your constituents don’t want you to say anything…”

The implication is that DeFazio is opposing the change on nakedly political grounds, and not the merits of the policy.

“That doesn’t deal with the cost of prescription drugs,” Rep. Defazio replied, “and with overpriced and unnecessary medical care.”

“Fair,” Burnett interjects, as the clip cuts ahead to Burnett saying “Interesting point, but I still find it a little bit hard to believe. when you say we don’t have to make substantive change to a program that’s going to consume all of our federal spending if we keep going the way we’re going, we do need to make substantial changes. It’s going to hurt.”

See what I mean? As Dakinkat has said, CNN is trying to compete with Fox News, though not very successfully. But why are they doing it when their ratings keep falling? And why don’t they hire some real reporters?

Have you heard that former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has begun blogging at right wing conspiracy site World Net Daily? According to Raw Story, Santorum’s first post is about a supposed UN conspiracy involving Harry Reid.

In keeping with the WND tradition of promoting various fringe conspiracies, Santorum’s debut column claimed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has an objective of “ceding our sovereignty to the United Nations.”

Santorum warned that a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty adopted in 2006 “has much darker and more troubling implications” than to simply improve the treatment of disabled people in other countries.

The staunchly anti-abortion Republican worried that the treaty would “put the government, acting under U.N. authority, in the position to determine for all children with disabilities what is best for them.”

And taking that thought to its absurd conclusion, Santorum suggested that the U.N. treaty would have meant the death of his daughter, who has a rare genetic disorder.

Sigh…

In more serious news, a very sad story this morning: David Oliver Relin, co-author of the book Three Cups of Tea, has committed suicide. Last year I wrote about a 60 Minutes report on the other co-author Greg Mortenson’s fabricated stories in the book. Relin was very disturbed by the revelations and had become deeply depressed, according to the NYT.

David Oliver Relin, a journalist and adventurer who achieved acclaim as co-author of the best seller “Three Cups of Tea” (2006) and then suffered emotionally and financially as basic facts in the book were called into question, died Nov. 15 in Multnomah County, Ore. He was 49.

His family said Mr. Relin “suffered from depression” and took his own life. The family, speaking through Mr. Relin’s agent, Jin Auh, was unwilling to give further details, but said a police statement would be released this week.

In the 1990s, Mr. Relin established himself as a journalist with an interest in telling “humanitarian” stories about people in need in articles about child soldiers and about his travels in Vietnam.

“He felt his causes passionately,” said Lee Kravitz, the former editor of Parade who hired Mr. Relin at various magazines over the years. “He especially cared about young people. I always assigned him to stories that would inspire people to take action to improve their lives.”

Relin obviously had no idea that his co-author Greg Mortenson was a fabulist.

And another sad story from the Times: Homeless Man Is Grateful for Officer’s Gift of Boots. But He Again Is Barefoot. You probably heard about the police officer who recently took pity on a homeless man whose feet were freezing and bought him a pair of $100 boots. Unfortunately the boots put the man’s life at risk.

After Officer Lawrence DePrimo knelt beside a barefoot man on a bitterly cold November night in Times Square, giving him a pair of boots, a photo of his random act of good will quickly took on a life of its own — becoming a symbol for a million acts of kindness that go unnoticed every day and a reminder that even in this tough, often anonymous city, people can still look out for one another.

Officer DePrimo was celebrated on front pages and morning talk shows, the Police Department came away with a burnished image and millions got a smile from a nice story.

But the unnamed homeless man was living in another, more painful reality.

His name is Jeffrey Hillman, and on Sunday night, he was once again wandering the streets — this time on the Upper West Side — with no shoes.

The $100 pair of boots that Officer DePrimo had bought for him at a Skechers store on Nov. 14 were nowhere to be seen.

“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” Mr. Hillman said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. “I could lose my life.”

Meanwhile, years of Republican rule in New York City have led to skyrocketing homelessness in the city. From Alternet: How One GOP Plutocrat Helped Make 20,000 Kids Homeless

There are 20,000 kids sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City, according to the city’s latest estimate, a number that does not include homeless kids who are not sleeping in shelters because their families have been turned away. Up to 65 percent of families who apply for shelter don’t get in , and their options can be grim.

“Some end up sleeping in subway trains,” Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless, tells AlterNet. “Some go to hospital emergency rooms or laundromats. Women are going back to their batterers or staying in unsafe apartments.”

Families that make it into shelters are taking longer to leave and move into stable, permanent housing. Asked by reporters why families were staying 30% longer than even last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “… it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”

Man, that’s cold. Bloomberg could probably help all those homeless kids with money out of his own pocket and not even notice it, but instead he has banned gifts of food to the homeless even after Hurricane Sandy!

The edict, issued last March by Mayor Bloomberg, is part of a larger move by the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) that dictates serving sizes and other nutritional requirements. These include limits on calorie contents, minimum fiber amounts and condiment recomendations [sic]….

Mayor Bloomberg’s clampdown on food donations can be seen as a greater restriction on New Yorker’s freedom to eat or drink what they want. He banned the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces last September, baby formula to new mothers in local hospitals last July, smoking in parks and open spaces in May 2011, implemented a plan in January 2010 to cut the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant food, forced fast food restaurants to post calorie content in October 2007, and forbid restaurants from using trans fats in cooking oils in 2006.

Real human beings are cold and hungry, and Bloomberg is worried about calorie control and nutritional requirements!

Uh-oh. This post has gotten way too long and I’m way to late in putting it up, so I’ll end on this down note. I hope you’ll have some more upbeat stories to share in the comments.


Thursday Reads: Demographics, Anti-Science Republicans, and Biblical Views of Rape

Good Morning!!

The meme of the day yesterday was that Latino voters reelected President Obama. As usual, the role of women in the election is getting short shrift. In fact, the gender gap this year was even bigger than in 2008. At HuffPo, Laura Bassett writes:

According to CNN’s exit polls, 55 percent of women voted for Obama, while only 44 percent voted for Mitt Romney. Men preferred Romney by a margin of 52 to 45 percent, and women made up about 54 percent of the electorate. In total, the gender gap on Tuesday added up to 18 percent — a significantly wider margin than the 12-point gender gap in the 2008 election.

Women’s strong support in the swing states gave Obama a significant advantage over Romney, despite his losses among men and independents. While Obama lost by 10 percentage points among independents in Ohio, he won by 12 points among women in the state. In New Hampshire, women voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of 58 to 42 percent, while men preferred Romney by a narrow 4-point gap. Pennsylvania showed a 16-point gender gap that tipped the scale toward Obama.

Yes, Latinos voted for Obama by a wide margin, but guess what? There was a gender gap there too.

Overall Obama won three out of every four votes (75%) cast by Hispanic women and 63% of Hispanic men, a 12-point gender gap. Four years ago the gap was only four points as Obama won 64% of men and 68% of Latino women. Romney won 35% of Latino men and 24% of women.

Here’s another interesting demographic factoid: there isn’t much of a gender gap when it comes to voters wanting to keep abortion legal, and that holds true with Latinos as well as voters overall.

Exit poll results found that about two-thirds of Hispanics (66%) said that abortion should be legal while 28% disagreed. Among all voters, a somewhat smaller majority (59%) would allow legal abortions while 37% were opposed.

There is no gender gap on views on abortion among Hispanics or among all voters, according to national exit polling. About two-thirds of men (64%) and Latino women (67%) would permit legal abortion, as would 58% of all male voters nationally and 60% of women.

As Dakinikat noted yesterday, Republicans are busy trying to figure out how to attract Latino voters, who represent about 10% of the U.S. population. But they refuse to recognize the power of women voters, and they apparently haven’t noticed that overall, the majority of both men and women disapprove of Republicans using the government to control women’s bodies.

If the anti-science-and-math Republicans hadn’t disdained Nate Silver’s predictions, they could have been forewarned. On October 21, Silver wrote about the “historically” huge gender gap in 2012.

If only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election, equaling or exceeding his margin of victory over John McCain in 2008. Mr. Obama would be an overwhelming favorite in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and most every other place that is conventionally considered a swing state. The only question would be whether he could forge ahead into traditionally red states, like Georgia, Montana and Arizona.

If only men voted, Mr. Obama would be biding his time until a crushing defeat at the hands of Mitt Romney, who might win by a similar margin to the one Ronald Reagan realized over Jimmy Carter in 1980. Only California, Illinois, Hawaii and a few states in the Northeast could be considered safely Democratic. Every other state would lean red, or would at least be a toss-up.

IMHO, it would behoove both Democrats and Republicans to keep in mind that women are more than half of the electorate, and we are sick and tired of being pushed around.

In other news,

it came out yesterday that Mitch McConnell offered Marco Rubio the opportunity to run the NRSC for the midterm elections in 2014, but Rubio turned the job down. From Real Clear Politics:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been courted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take over the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2014 midterm season, but the freshman lawmaker declined the entreaty, sources told RCP.

It might seem early to think about the next campaign cycle, but Senate leadership elections will take place in short order. And given the GOP’s losses in Senate races Tuesday night, the party is looking to make some changes.

McConnell probably hoped that Rubio could help the party with it’s diversity issues.

Rubio, a rapidly rising star in the party after his huge but unlikely victory in the 2010 election, is a favorite of McConnell’s. And as a 41-year-old Cuban-American capable of delivering some of the party’s best speeches, he’s someone the GOP brass likes to put in front of the cameras. Not only is he inspirational, but he helps the diversity-challenged party bridge several divides with voters.

What’s more, Rubio is a star fundraiser who was able to pull in hundreds of thousands of dollars for Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid, a skill that would be a boon to the Senate campaign committee. Of course, he can still be used by the NRSC to raise money, but he wouldn’t have to deal with the party’s divisive primaries as one of its leading strategists.

Much to McConnell’s chagrin — and for the second time in several months — Rubio’s career will not go in the direction that the Kentucky senator had been hoping for: When Romney was poring over running-mate prospects, McConnell was pining for Rubio, and he made his preference well known.

I just had to share this:

Dick Morris’ attempt to explain why he was so wrong in his prediction that Romney would win the election in a landslide, taking 325 electoral votes.

I’ve got egg on my face. I predicted a Romney landslide and, instead, we ended up with an Obama squeaker.

According to Morris, if Romney had won with 325 electoral votes it would have been a landslide. If Obama wins Florida, he’ll get 335 electoral votes, and it won’t be a landslide–it’ll be a “squeaker.”

The key reason for my bum prediction is that I mistakenly believed that the 2008 surge in black, Latino, and young voter turnout would recede in 2012 to “normal” levels. Didn’t happen. These high levels of minority and young voter participation are here to stay. And, with them, a permanent reshaping of our nation’s politics.

In 2012, 13% of the vote was cast by blacks. In 04, it was 11%. This year, 10% was Latino. In ’04 it was 8%. This time, 19% was cast by voters under 30 years of age. In ’04 it was 17%. Taken together, these results swelled the ranks of Obama’s three-tiered base by five to six points, accounting fully for his victory.

Morris could have done what the Obama campaign did and looked at the latest census numbers, but right wingers don’t believe in empirical evidence. But the real cause of Morris’ failure to make the correct prediction was Sandy and Chris Christie.

But the more proximate cause of my error was that I did not take full account of the impact of hurricane Sandy and of Governor Chris Christie’s bipartisan march through New Jersey arm in arm with President Obama. Not to mention Christe’s fawning promotion of Obama’s presidential leadership.

It made all the difference.

See? Morris’ mistaken prediction had nothing to do with Morris’ stupidity and the fact that he lives in the Fox News right wing bubble.

Harry Reid says he will take action to reform the filibuster rules.

From HuffPo:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged on Wednesday to change the rules of the Senate so that the minority party has fewer tools to obstruct legislative business….

“I want to work together, but I also want everyone to also understand, you cannot push us around. We want to work together,” Reid said.

“I do” have plans to change the Senate rules, he added. “I have said so publicly and I continue to feel that way … I think the rules have been abused, and we are going to work to change them. We will not do away with the filibuster, but we will make the senate a more meaningful place. We are going to make it so we can get things done.”

I sure do hope he means that.

Finally, a longer read.

I think we all agree that the Republican Party has been taken over by right wing religious nuts who claim to take the bible literally–even though they tend to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to pay attention to and which parts to ignore.

During the past couple of years, we watched Republicans in statehouses around the the country do their darnedest to take away women’s access to abortion and even contraception.

Mitt Romney chose as his VP a man who tried to change the definition of rape and who believes that rape is just another method of conception.

A string of Republican officeholders and candidates unself-consciously revealed themselves to be utter troglodytes who had bizarre notions about rape and who were quite willing to force victims of rape and incest who were impregnated to bear their perpetrators’ offspring.

If anyone thinks Republican crazies will change their minds just because women successfully voted down Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and Rick Berg, I think they’d be sadly mistaken. I want to recommend an article I read at Alternet a few days ago: What the Bible Says About Rape. It’s long, but a very important read. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Christians of many stripes are scrambling to distance themselves, their religion, or their God from Republican comments about rape . The latest furor is about Washington State congressional candidate John Koster, who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and added for good measure that “incest is so rare, I mean it’s so rare.” Before that, it was Indiana candidate Richard Mourdock, who said, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” backed up by Texas senator John Cornyn insisting that “life is a gift from God.” These men share the January sentiment of Rick Santorum: “the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.”

Those Christians who see the Bible as a human, historical document have the right to distance themselves. Those who see the Bible as the unique and perfect revelation of the Divine, essentially dictated by God to the writers, do not. The fact is, the perspective that God intends rape babies and that such pregnancies should be allowed to run their course is perfectly biblical.

I am not going to argue here that the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. It doesn’t. The Bible writers had no concept of conception, and no Bible writer values the life of a fetus on par with the life of an infant or an older child. One does say that God knows us while we are developing in the womb, but another says he knows us even before . Levitical law prescribes a fine for a man who accidentally triggers a miscarriage . It is not the same as the penalty for manslaughter. Therapeutic abortion is never mentioned, nor is the status of the fetus that spontaneously aborts. Under Jewish law, a newborn isn’t circumcised and blessed until he is eight days old, having clearly survived the high mortality peri-natal period. For centuries the Catholic Church believed that “ensoulment” occurred and a fetus became a person at the time of quickening or first movement, sometime during the second trimester.

However, if we take the viewpoint of biblical literalists and treat the Good Book as if it were authored by a single perfect, unchanging Deity, then a man is on solid ground thinking that rape babies are part of God’s intentions.

As long as the Republican Party is controlled by “christians” who take the bible literally, women’s rights to autonomy are threatened. No woman should vote for any Republican as long as this state of affairs continues.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Live Blog: Republican Convention Speeches

Screen displays “Over The Top” as Mitt Romney reaches the total number of delegates needed for the nomination (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Good Evening!!

Well, the deed is done. Mitt Romney is finally the official nominee of the Republican Party. We thought it might be fun to live blog the speeches tonight.

First up will be Rick Santorum, scheduled for 7PM. Santorum’s speech will focus on Work and Welfare, according to Real Clear Politics.

It’s not the timeslot he would have preferred, but Rick Santorum’s speech to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night is being touted as “particularly good” by the Romney campaign.

That was the praise issued by senior Romney strategist Russ Schriefer, who said that he has seen a copy of Santorum’s speech, which is slated to open the evening session in Tampa at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

In keeping with themes that he often homed in on during his own presidential run, Santorum’s convention speech is expected to touch upon his blue-collar roots and social conservatism, but the hot-button issue of welfare reform will be at the center of his remarks.

Doesn’t that sound delightful? He’ll probably say something like this:

Seriously, the Christian Science Monitor explains why Santorum’s speech is so important to the Romney campaign.

Tuesday night in Tampa, Santorum brings to the stage his newly won star power as a leading voice of social conservatism – and an unspoken message that Romney, who governed Massachusetts as a moderate, can now be trusted.

Santorum’s appearance represents “another piece of the mosaic they’re trying to put together of a united Republican Party and conservative movement,” says Gary Bauer, a social-conservative leader who endorsed Santorum for president. “Republicans only win when they bring together social, economic, and foreign policy conservatives. I think it’s happening.”

Here is the full schedule for tonight, from the Houston Chronicle:

7 p.m. Reconvene
Remarks by Speaker John Boehner
Remarks by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Video and remarks by Mayor Mia Love (Saratoga Springs, UT), U.S. congressional candidate
Remarks by Janine Turner
Remarks by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum
Remarks by Host, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
8 p.m. Remarks by U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH), accompanied by Jack Gilchrist
Remarks by Governor John Kasich (OH)
Remarks by Governor Mary Fallin (OK)
Remarks by Governor Bob McDonnell (VA), accompanied by Bev Gray
Remarks by Governor Scott Walker (WI)
9 p.m. Remarks by Governor Brian Sandoval (NV)
Remarks by Sher Valenzuela (small business owner, candidate for DE Lt. Governor)
Remarks by Senate Republican Candidate Ted Cruz (TX)
Remarks by Artur Davis
Remarks by Governor Nikki Haley (SC)
10 p.m. Remarks by Mrs. Luce’ Vela Fortuño
Remarks by Mrs. Ann Romney
Remarks by Governor Chris Christie (NJ)
Benediction by Sammy Rodriguez
Adjournment

I’m guessing Ann won’t speak until at least 9:00, maybe later. Then Chris Christie will give the keynote. In between Rick and Ann, we’ll see such charming personalities as Bob “Vaginal Probe” McDonnell and Scott Walker, representing the Koch Brothers. What? No Todd Akin?

If we fill this thread up, we’ll start another one. Have fun documenting the atrocities!