Happy Mother’s Day!
For this second half of our Sunday Reads, let’s take a look a variety of topics sandwiched between a couple of items about “Mutha’s Day.”
Years after she founded Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis was dining at the Tea Room at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia. She saw they were offering a “Mother’s Day Salad.” She ordered the salad and when it was served, she stood up, dumped it on the floor, left the money to pay for it, and walked out in a huff. Jarvis had lost control of the holiday she helped create, and she was crushed by her belief that commercialism was destroying Mother’s Day.
Here is a little history of Anna Jarvis and Mother’s Day, in cartoon format, by Steve Brodner. Click on the cartoon to view larger image.
Makes that “Mother’s Day Salad” protest in the Tea Room at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia all the more symbolic doesn’t it?
In a story that you may have missed last week: University of Montana agrees to reform handling of rape cases | Reuters
The University of Montana has agreed to reform how it responds to rape accusations following a year-long investigation by two U.S. government agencies into complaints such cases were mishandled, federal authorities and the school said on Thursday.
The U.S. departments of justice and education had probed allegations the university failed to aggressively pursue sexual assault and harassment reports, several of which involved football players.
The inquiries stemmed from reports that women on campus had been subjected to unfair treatment that infringed on their civil rights and violated constitutional bans on gender-based discrimination.
“What is noteworthy about this announcement today is not the problems our investigation found at the university, but a shared commitment to the equality of women students and their safety,” Roy Austin, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said in a statement.
Jocelyn Samuels, the division’s principal deputy assistant attorney general, told a news conference that the set of agreements would provide a blueprint for reform for other campuses across the country as they address the “all too common problem of sexual assault and harassment of students.”
Blueprint? I should hope so. But after all this is 2013 and we are talking blueprints when it comes to the “all too common problem of sexual assault and harassment of students.” Seriously? It seems like bullshit to me when the day before this story was published on Reuters, the State Department was dealing with the actual “Blueprints” to make 3-D printed guns.
The State Department on Thursday ordered the nonprofit Defense Distributed to remove blueprints for the world’s first 3D-printed gun from its website.
“All such data should be removed from public access, the letter says. That might be an impossible standard. But we’ll do our part to remove it from our servers,” Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Forbes.
The department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance warned Wilson that posting the materials online could be a violation of export controls. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) prohibits weapons manufactures from exporting technical data to foreign persons without authorization from the State Department.
“This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately,” the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance said.
The warning from the State Department came just days after Defense Distributed unveiled the blueprints for its plastic single-shot handgun, called the “Liberator.” The firearm can be created by anyone with the blueprints and access to a 3D printer. Defense Distributed also released nine other 3D-printable firearms components.
Well….I think I made my point.
Moving on now to this, Can You Generate Electricity From Plants? Science Says Yes | Geekosystem
Plants use energy from the Sun through photosynthesis, and humans use energy from the Sun through things like solar panels. A new technique created by researchers at the University of Georgia allows humans to get electricity from plants by hijacking the photosynthesis process. This research could someday lead to some very literal power plants.
Cool innit? Go to the link to check it out.
A few weeks ago, we lost a comic genius…Jonathan Winters. I have two articles written by Dick Cavett in the New York Times. Take a few minutes to read them when you can.
No more Jonathan Winters.
What did we do to deserve this?
I’m just antique enough to remember when Jonathan first hit. Or at least for me. It was the Jack Paar “Tonight Show” and no one had ever seen anything remotely like it.
A slightly chubby, amiable, Midwesternly looking man who could have been an accountant or a bus driver, nicely dressed in dark suit and tie, stepped out, a bit timorously, from behind the curtain and, on the spot and before our eyes, created a whole mad little world.
I remember once mentioning the name Jonathan Winters to Groucho Marx.
The reply: “There’s a giant talent.”
Now for some history links, this first one is more about something that is history in the making actually. First black woman named to Ga. Civil War Commission
The first black woman has been appointed to serve on Georgia’s Civil War Commission.
House Speaker David Ralston on Friday selected Inger Eberhart for the post.
The Acworth resident currently serves on the staff of Cobb County Commissioner JoAnn Birrell. She is on the board of advisers of the Dustin Inman Society, which advocates for stricter enforcement of state and federal laws related to immigration.
Oh…that explains it.
Anyway, more history goodies, in link dump fashion:
Held a virtual prisoner by the Bolsheviks months before his execution, Russia’s last Tsar Nicholas II pasted informal snapshots of his family into an album which has now come to light in a Russian provincial museum.
The photographs, most of which have never been seen before, show the last of the Romanov rulers of Russia without pomp and in unguarded moments. Many were taken by Nicholas II himself.
There are many informal photos…with penciled names and dates written on the backs.
World View: After the Great War, Britain and France carved up the Middle East between them. Now, plans for Syria have the same potential for disaster.
The “Great East Coast Cicada Sex Invasion of 2013” is upon us.
After 17 years of feeding and living under the earth’s surface, billions of “Brood II” cicadas will emerge this summer between Connecticut and Georgia, swarming in thick, forbidding billows of shed exoskeletons and raucous insect lovemaking. (To get an idea of what the cicada mating call sounds like, click here for audio.)
For all their physical creepiness and loud public sex orgies, the (actually completely harmless) bugs have a rich cultural history in the United States. Bob Dylan wrote a song about the cicadas, for instance. But cicadas also have a rich political history in this country. Here are their greatest hits…
The 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies begins this Thursday on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. I’m moderating a legal history panel on Thursday at 1:30, in Bernhard 106, called Law as Culture: Secular Punishment and Divine Retribution in Medieval Ireland (Panel 90). Here are the paper titles:
- Beheading, Hanging, and Being Drawn Asunder: Execution in Medieval Ireland
- Property Incursions and Punitive Irish Saints
- Divine Diversion: Divine Retribution as Dispute Resolution and the Norman Invasion of Ireland
H/T to Delphyne for this one: The Medieval and Early Modern Meme Menagerie, or, Grumpy Cat is a Time Lord
I think we’ve finally found a proper Late Medieval or Early Modern Grumpy Cat.
…And, yes, Grumpy Cat is a Time Lord.
I actually love the expression on this little guy….
2. Maxwell, Disapproving Rabbit:
Even before someone discovered the “disapproval face,” Disapproving Rabbit was already fed up with your shit.
Oh, that is sooooooo true!
On to Movie news…
This next link is here because of two things… first, the movie that is mentioned is about Shanghai Kate, the woman who did two of my tattoos back in 1999 and 2000 in NYC. And second, it makes me think of when movies started to use video tape, we had VCRs and Blockbusters. Then it went to DVDs and we had NetFlix and RedBox. Now it is Digital, we still have NetFlix but more and more companies are getting into the groove. Eventually we won’t have anything real to touch or feel…it will all be digital. And that kind of sucks. Los Angeles startup Yekra nets $3M for its digital movie distribution platform
Disney is doing it again: Merida From ‘Brave’ Gets An Unnecessary Makeover, Sparks Change.org Petition (PHOTO)
Merida, “Brave’s” red-headed heroine will be crowned Disney’s 11th princess on May 11. And just in time for her royal induction, the animated character has received a head-to-toe makeover — she’s thinner, her eyes are wider and … Is that miracle anti-frizz solution she’s using? What is going on!?
New Merida, left. Original Merida, right.
Last night, my kids went to see The Great Gatsby with a bunch of their friends. When they came back home after the show, I asked my daughter what she thought of the movie…this was her response.
It was okay, but there was like…no story to it?
Well, that about says it all, doesn’t it.
She laughed and said that when they first walked into the theater there was nothing but “old people” there, and she and her friends were worried that they may have made a mistake by going to see the movie in the first place.
“As I watched the trailer, I thought, ‘This is for 16-year-olds,’ ” she says. “All of this is about gearing this toward high school and college students who may not have any notion of who Fitzgerald was or what the book actually was.
“They’re not going to care too much about whether this is a well-done adaptation,” she adds. “They’re going to care about whether it’s a Hollywood blockbuster.”
Read the article I linked to, that quote is the last two sentences of the piece, but it fit so well with what my daughter said that I had to put it in here. She also said the music sucked, and my son said the entire thing was crap…well, except for the film quality. He said it was a very “crisp” film.
I really do think there are some books that should not be made into film. My favorite, John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, is a perfect example. There is just some things that are too detailed and involved to be parsed down into a 2 hour flick.
Well, I have one more Gatsby link for you, a solemn one. The Great Gatsby: F Scott Fitzgerald’s novels are read by millions, but he was buried in near anonymity
The bard of the Jazz Age shouldn’t be buried here. On a hillside in Hollywood perhaps, where he spent his last, unhappy years, or in glamorous downtown Manhattan – or even in Père Lachaise in Paris, the last resting place of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, among other foreigners who sought inspiration or refuge in the City of Light. But not in the commercial suburbs of Washington DC, among office blocks and strip malls, in a cemetery wedged between a six-lane highway and a railway line.
That, though, is where you find the grave of F Scott Fitzgerald, at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Rockville, Maryland, an Exxon station visible from the spot where he lies. In the pre-car age Rockville must have been a small village in the countryside; the church itself dates from 1817, when America was barely 40 years old. Today, however, it is Anywhere, USA.
Boston Boomer linked to Ginsburg’s comments on Roe v Wade yesterday, oh-oh is right….I thought it should be put on the front page: Justice Ginsburg: Roe v. Wade not ‘woman-centered’ – chicagotribune.com
It’s easy to take the job description of motherhood for granted: Take care of your kids, in whatever way you can. The specifics, though, are a little trickier.
In fact, the meaning and duties of being a mom have undergone great upheaval just in the last century. Should moms work outside the home or stay with the kids full time? Does letting a baby cry scar it or strengthen it? Should moms be praised just for being moms?
The answers to these questions depend on the era in which they’re asked. Throughout U.S. history, moms have been exalted, demonized and exalted again. Their instincts have been questioned and ruled sacrosanct. And they’ve taken the most guilt upon themselves during periods where they spend the most time with their children.
Read on for five ways motherhood has changed in the United States.
So Happy Mother’s Day to you, and for everyone else…enjoy the rest of your Sunday!
I’m getting a slow start this morning, so I thought I’d put up an open thread to get us started. This story is a couple of days old so you may have heard about it already, but I just had to take note of it anyway.
On Wednesday at a town hall meeting in Chariton Iowa, Senator Charles Grassley got a strange question about some wingnut conspiracy theory from one of his constituents: From the Atlantic Wire:
Constituent: They’re saying that they’re going to start, in 2013, putting microchips in government workers and then any kid that enrolls in school, starting in pre-school, will have a microchip implanted in them so that they can track them. Is that true?
Senator Grassley’s response was absolutely priceless:
Grassley: No. First of all, nothing can be done to your body without your permission….It’d be a violation of the constitutional right to privacy if that were to happen.
Here’s the video:
In case Grassley hasn’t thought about it that carefully, forcing a woman to have a baby certainly qualifies as doing something to her body without her permission. Actually, there is no right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution, but the Roe v. Wade decision created one; and Roe could certainly be used as precedent in any case relating to violations of body integrity.
In fact, the majority opinion of Roe v. Wade clearly states:
The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution…
Roe v. Wade, of course, established the right to privacy — the kind that might spare you from a government conspiracy to embed microchips that might reveal your entire health history. Or, you know, the kind of privacy that allows women to obtain a legal abortion in this country:
This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
Grassley is a long-time opponent of abortion rights and advocate of overturning Roe v. Wade, and Naral gives him a zero rating on pro-choice issues. If Roe were overturned, where does Grassley think he’d find a constitutional “right to privacy”?
And let’s not forget the recent Republican obsession with forcing women to undergo vaginal probes before they can have an abortion.
Not to be outdone, the Indiana State Senate has passed a new law that requires a woman to have two (2) ultrasounds–before and after her “abortion”–even if she is just taking RU 487, or the morning after pill! The bill doesn’t specific intravaginal ultrasounds, but they would, in effect, be required, since most abortions are performed when the embryo or fetus is too small to be detected by a traditional ultrasound.
I’m not sure what Grassley’s position on these ultrasound laws is, but someone should definitely ask him. If forcing a woman to have two transvaginal probes in order to get a pill doesn’t qualify as the government doing something to “your body without your permission,” what does Grassley believe would qualify as a violation of a woman’s privacy? Maybe because the town hall questioner was a man, he was suggesting that only Americans with penises have privacy rights?
As the inimitable Charles Pierce once wrote about Senator Grassley in a different context:
This is also funny because, you see, if there’s one thing that Chuck Grassley is noted for, it is that he is the most spectacular box of rocks, the most bulging bag of hammers, in the history of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. If brains were atom bombs, he couldn’t blow his nose. If his IQ was one point lower, they’d have to water him. As the great Dan Jenkins once put it in another context, if the man had a brain, he’d be out in the yard playing with it.
I’ll have a Saturday Reads post up a little later on.
Earlier this week we saw one hypocrisy after another.
Can someone explain this to me?
How can a fetus…at seven months, a viable seven months mind you, not be a person? But…the clump of cells being aborted by a woman, who is executing her own right to choose, which is legal mind you…thanks to the Supreme Court….how can that clump of cells be a “child.”
I will tell you how, money…that is how fetuses are not people my friends!
Just take a look at some of these articles from this week alone. Emphasis mine…
Among the speakers at Friday’s rally was Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and staunch abortion opponent who last year unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination.
He recalled the love and support the country showed for his young daughter, Bella, who was born with a serious genetic condition and whose illness led him to take some time off from the campaign trail. He cited his daughter’s life — “she is joyful, she is sweet, she is all about love” — as a reason to discourage abortion even in instances when women are told that it would be “better” for their unborn children to have one.
“We all know that death is never better — never better. Really what it’s about is saying is it would be easier for us, not better for her,” he said. “And I’m here to tell you … Bella is better for us and we are better because of Bella.”
He said the anti-abortion cause was made up of people who every day advocate for their position outside abortion clinics and at crisis pregnancy centers.
“This movement is not a bunch of moralizers standing on their mountaintop preaching what is right,” Santorum said.
One demonstrator, Mark Fedarko, 44, of Cleveland, said he regularly stands outside of abortion clinics in hopes of discouraging women from going inside.
“There’s God’s law and man’s law,” he said. But I follow God’s law first. Like it says right here, thou shall not kill. That’s the end of the story. We need to protect these children.”
Ah…children. We must protect the children!
Addressing the crowd at the National Mall via video broadcast, Boehner said it’s time for anti-abortion activisits to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life.” Step one, he said, is making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.
“For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work,” Boehner said. “In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.”
Boehner said he will make it a national priority to “help make abortion a relic of the past.”
“Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year,” he said.
Yes….a fundamental goal…protect the sanctity of life.
But wait a moment: A Fetus Is Not a Person if it Costs us Money, Says Catholic Church
You know how the Catholic Church is always going on and on … and on and freakin’ on … about the sanctity of life and also a bunch of vague concepts about liberty ‘n stuff? We can’t have abortion because every sperm is sacred. We can’t have insurance coverage for women’s health care because something about Taco Bell and freedom. We can’t even fund cancer screening because apparently Jesus was cool with women dying of undetected breast cancer.
And all of this—all of it—goes back to the Church’s insistence that life begins with your very first hell-worthy dirty thought and must be protected at all costs, despite all consequences, including, of course, the consequence of dead women, whose lives are not nearly as valuable as the “life” of an unborn fetus. In just the past year, the Church has called upon its faithful followers to march, to starve themselves, to go to jail, to even take up arms—all to protect those fetuses. No exceptions. None. Not if the fetus is already dead inside the womb. Not if the fetus is going to kill the actual living woman carrying it. No goddamned exceptions EVER.
Well, except for one: when it’s going to cost the Church money.
Turns out, when a man sues a Catholic hospital for malpractice because his wife and the twins she was carrying inside her died when she turned up in the emergency room and her doctor never bothered to answer a page—well, things get a little tricky. Yes, the Catholic hospital adheres to the strict Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, as set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And yes, those directives include the claim that “[t]he Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn” and a mandate to uphold “the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death.’” But come on. That obviously does not apply when Catholic Health Initiatives, the Church-affiliated organization that runs the Church-affiliated St. Thomas More Hospital where a young woman and her two unborn fetuses died, is the lead defendant in a lawsuit.
What? I just read a bunch of news articles that says we must save the sanctity of life, these unborn children, from being aborted, and now the church argues a wrongful death court case because fetuses aren’t people?
Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.
As Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”
And get this, the Catholic hospital won the argument. Catholic hospital chain beats malpractice suit by saying fetuses aren’t people
Catholic Health Initiatives is a non-profit conglomerate organization that owns roughly 170 health care facilities in 17 states, with national assets totaling around $15 billion.
Catholic hospitals purportedly base their ethical practices on the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, which were authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These guidelines state that, “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death. The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”
Catholic Health Initiatives’ promotional literature states that its mission is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and be guided by “fidelity to the Gospel.” The chain’s refusal to dispense contraceptives, perform abortions or to offer end-of-life services has placed it at odds in business deals attempting to acquire secularly governed hospitals in the past.
Practicing what that “good book” tells ya to is one hell of a money maker, eh? Fucking assholes! The hypocrisy of this story against the backdrop of the anti-abortion protesters in DC makes me want to drop kick a priest, bishop, nun or a frothy….orange politician!
Hey, but in New Mexico…fetuses aren’t people either…they are considered evidence. New Mexico Bill Would Send Rape Victims to Jail for Aborting ‘Evidence’
If you thought the so-called “rape caucus” was fading away, there’s new evidence — and we mean evidence — that some Republicans are still going to make a lot of people upset with what they see as legitimate concerns about rape. New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown has now introduced a bill that, if she has her way, ultimately could see rape victims charged with felony and three years in prison if they fail to carry their pregnancies to term.
Brown’s argument is that fetuses are evidence of sexual assault, and “tampering with evidence” is a third-degree felony. Here’s a key part of the actual bill, in case this stuff still seems unbelievable to you.
This story was updated by the way…
It appears that Brown has figured out that no one really liked her bill and that her bill, as it was stated, was rather unclear. The state representative apparently is submitting a substitute bill, the New Mexico Telegram reports. Brown said:
House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims … Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist—not the victim—would be charged with tampering of evidence. I am submitting a substitute draft to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.
So, what (we think) Brown, a pro-life Republican, means is that she’s trying to punish rapists who try and cover their tracks by getting their victims to have abortions. Which is a lot different than the bill she first introduced, which stated that any person “procuring” an abortion should be punished for “tampering.”
It still is a fucked up way to handle something like rape…I mean, if a woman is raped and gets an abortion…is tampering with evidence just another charge filed against the rapist? Yeah…like it is so damn easy to bring a rapist to prosecution.
Like proposed laws throughout the country, these legislators are taking things too far…remember the one in Georgia that made miscarriages a crime? Just because Obama won, and all those idiots who made ridiculous statements about rape lost their bid to go to Washington, doesn’t mean we have heard the last of the war drums from the christian right’s fight against women.
I know that you have heard me say this before, but one area where we could get some folks who will give women a fighting chance against these PLUB dumb asses, is to put more left-minded judges to work in the federal courts. For example, take the recent decision that came down this week too, Court rules Obama recess appointments unconstitutional
A federal appeals court, dealing a defeat to President Obama, has sharply limited the chief executive’s power to bypass the Senate and to make temporary “recess” appointments to fill vacant slots in government agencies.
The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a 3-0 ruling, said the president can make recess appointments only when the Senate has formally adjourned between sessions of Congress, not when lawmakers leave Washington for a brief break.
The White House is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court, but look at this…from Susie Madrak: Judge Who Ruled Against Recess Appointments Is A Wingnut
Just thought I’d point out the long-time wingnuttery and judicial activism of D.C. District Judge David Sentelle, the Reagan-appointee circuit judge and Jesse Helms protegee — the man who appointed Kenneth Starr — who just invalidated Obama’s NLRB appointments, thus kicking off a whole potential mess o’legal chaos!
The D.C. district is second only to the Supreme Court in its importance, and of course it has three (soon to be four) vacancies, which Republicans refuse to allow Obama to fill.
Susie points to this post from Daily Kos back in 2010:
This Daily Kos post from 2010 sums it up pretty well:
Back to Sentelle, the lead judge of this circuit court, and a reminder that this is someone who, when he gets a chance, puts his right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice. Is it any wonder that the reason he became a judge is that he was appointed by Ronald Reagan, a man who also whenever he got a chance, also put his own right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who voted to overturn the convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter, for their Iran Contra crimes.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who appointed his fellow partisan hack Kenneth Starr for his witchhunt of the Clintons.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who enthusiastically supported the “Military Commissions Act” and its destruction of habeas corpus for enemy combatants; if you are David Sentelle and the government accuses you of a crime, you are guilty until you can prove innocence, rather than the other way around, and the government can throw up all sorts of roadblocks to prove your innocence. Unless, of course, you are someone like Ollie North. Then, of course, your innocence is fully presumed.
The man has no business wearing a judge’s robe, and is a disgrace to our supposed rule of law.
Another opinion on this decision from the LG&M’s blog: Neoconfederate Judges Rule NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional – Lawyers, Guns & Money
Oh, great. The opinion is an atrocity, classic “hack originalism for dummies,” relying heavily on the fact that recess appointments during nominal sessions of the Senate are a relatively recent phenomenon (although there’s precedent going back to 1867, and “[t]he last five Presidents have all made appointments during intrasession recesses of fourteen days or fewer”), without considering that the Senate systematically refusing to consider presidential nominees is also a contemporary phenomenon.
Read the rest of that post at the link.
Obama needs to put his “stamp” on those federal district court justices.
Here is one article that I saved away when I read it originally earlier this month, from Charlie Savage: Obama Lags on Filling Seats in the Judiciary
President Obama is set to end his term with dozens fewer lower-court appointments than both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush achieved in their first four years, and probably with less of a lasting ideological imprint on the judiciary than many liberals had hoped for and conservatives had feared.
Mr. Obama’s record stems in part from a decision at the start of his presidency to make judicial nominations a lower political priority, according to documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration officials and with court watchers from across the political spectrum. Senate Republicans also played a role, ratcheting up partisan warfare over judges that has been escalating for the past generation by delaying even uncontroversial picks who would have been quickly approved in the past.
But a good portion of Mr. Obama’s judicial record stems from a deliberate strategy. While Mr. Bush quickly nominated a slate of appeals court judges early in his first year — including several outspoken conservatives — Mr. Obama moved more slowly and sought relatively moderate jurists who he hoped would not provoke culture wars that distracted attention from his ambitious legislative agenda.
“The White House in that first year did not want to nominate candidates who would generate rancorous disputes over social issues that would further polarize the Senate,” said Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s first White House counsel. “We were looking for mainstream, noncontroversial candidates to nominate.”
Noncontroversial? Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Like everything else we hear out of Obama’s mouth….but that is another topic for another post.
You can read another article on Obama’s weak-ass attention to the Judicial appointments from Robert Kuttner, published last year: The Courts: How Obama Dropped the Ball
In his novel King of the Jews, Leslie Epstein sets his story in the wartime ghetto of Lodz, Poland, where the Gestapo ruled through an appointed council of Jewish elders. Epstein, researching the book, tracked down the gallows humor of the time. In one such joke, told by a character in the novel, two Jews are facing a firing squad. The commandant asks if they would like blindfolds. One of the condemned whispers to the other, “Don’t make trouble.”
“Don’t make trouble” could have been the credo of the first year of the Obama Administration. The White House calculated that if the president just extended the hand of conciliation to the Republicans, the opposition would reciprocate and together they would change the tone in Washington. This was the policy on everything from the stimulus to health reform to judicial nominations. It didn’t work out so well.
Now, spurred by the tailwind of a re-election victory and the realization that public opinion is on his side, President Obama has displayed a new toughness in his budget battle. He has declared that he won’t negotiate against himself, and the strategy is working. But the White House is still stuck in don’t-make-trouble mode on the crucial issue of judicial appointments, where the pace of nominations is only now catching up with that of Obama’s predecessors and the strategy for avoiding partisan confrontation gives Republicans something close to a veto over who is nominated.
I will leave you to read those two articles in full…and now, I give you the rest of the day’s reads in link dump fashion.
Hey Kat, Jindal is not the only one fucking things up: Sam Brownback’s Kansas is a Resort Town for “Makers”
Much like Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Governor Sam Brownback is busy turning Kansas into a right-wing paradise, with low wages, few public services, and reactionary social policy. Since 2010, when conservative Republicans—including Brownback—took full control of the state, Kansas has passed strict new anti-abortion laws as well as large cuts to education and mental health care services. And last year, Brownback signed a bill that cuts state income taxes by roughly $3.7 billion over five years, and collapses the state’s current three-bracket tax system into two brackets: 4.9 percent and 3 percent.
That tax cut took effect this month, and as the New York Timesreports, it’s the largest reduction in Kansas history. It’s also only the beginning; this week, Kansas Republicans introduced a bill that would pare taxes further, and eventually eliminate the state’s individual income tax.
As with Jindal’s proposal in Louisiana, this would deprive the state of needed revenue; existing tax cuts are already expected cost nearly $850 million in the coming year. Additional cuts will balloon those costs, and force further reductions to state services.
Now an update from Newtown, Sandy Hook probe to extend until summer, prosecutor says … WTF? I really would love to know if I am the only one who finds it strange that we still know less about Adam Lanza then we do about all those other mass shooters since Sandy Hook.
Stephen King has an essay available on Kindle: Guns (Kindle Single): Stephen King: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King’s keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.
King’s earnings from the sale of this essay will go the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Check it out! It is only $0.99.
Here is an article from a couple of weeks ago: LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPY: As plus-size sales soar, our columnist meets the models making a big impact on the high street. Nice to see real sized women models getting noticed.
Traffic police in Romania are fed up with pedestrians’ blatant disregard for designated crosswalks, opting to instead dash across busy streets at their own, oftentimes fatal, detriment. In an effort to raise awareness of this sheer idiocy, traffic police have released a series of TV ads highlighting the citizens that understand the function of those big white lines painted on the pavement are for: Stray dogs.
Semida Duriga, the director of Romania’s Next Advertising agency, created and launched the ads upon learning the unsettling statistics regarding the number of careless pedestrians killed or grievously injured when hit by oncoming motor vehicles. According to the chief of Romania’s traffic police, Lucian Dinita, roughly 360 of these collisions were fatal while another 1,200 required intense medical attention.
Unlike humans and their all-encompassing drive to reach the taco truck across the street regardless of the consequences, Romania’s stray dog population heeds the importance of traversing crosswalks and understands that the green light applies to cars and not living organisms. This uncanny level of canine adroitness is what inspired Duriga to film these dogs from various Romanian cities in action for the ads.
I am not sure if that is a compliment to the dogs or not?
Okay, here is a link to a scientific study, this one is about Socially isolated rats are more vulnerable to addiction, report researchers.
And another article on findings from a recent study, this one dealing with Household chores: Gender equality’s final frontier.
Let’s finish up with a link to an article about 3-D printers. Seriously, I thought this was a load of shit, but it isn’t…it is for real! Dutch architect to build house with 3D printer
A Dutch architect has designed a house “with no beginning or end” to be built using the world’s largest 3D printer, harnessing technology that may one day be used to print houses on the moon.
Can you believe it?
Well, this is a real long post…hope to see you all in the comments. Have a great day and share your thoughts with us!
Last week I read an op-ed at the NYT by Timothy Egan that annoyed the hell out of me. It was called “Goodbye to Gays, Guns, and God.” According to Egan,
This trio is usually trotted out in big swaths of the West, in rural or swing districts and in Southern states at the cusp of the Bible Belt. The proverbial three G’s was the explanation in Thomas Frank’s entertaining book “What’s the Matter With Kansas” for why poor, powerless whites would vote for a party that promises nothing but tax cuts for the rich.
But this year I think we’ve reached a tipping point on these heartless perennials. When George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, political sophisticates were stunned by a national exit poll in which 22 percent of voters picked “moral issues” from a list of things that mattered most — more than any other concern. This was heralded as the high-water triumph for evangelicals.
There was no mention of the war on women’s reproductive rights in the early paragraphs of the piece, but I figured it would be included under the “God” discussion. Egan was celebrating the results of a NYT/CBS poll that showed for Iowa Republicans:
Topping the list of voter concerns was the economy and jobs — picked by 40 percent of respondents, followed by the budget deficit at 23 percent. Social issues came in a distant third, with 9 percent. And the candidate who polled highest as the one who “most represents the values you try to live by,” Michele Bachmann, has nothing to show for that rating in the overall race, where she is in fifth place.
The final paragraphs of the op-ed discussed Rick Perry’s anti-gay ad and the fact that Obama has defused the “Guns” issue by doing absolutely nothing to limit access to firearms or deal with gun violence. That’s when I blew my top. Here Egan was discussing the issues favored by right-wing Evangelicals, and he made absolutely no mention of the recent wave of anti-abortion and anti-contraception laws passed in a number of states through pressure from ultraconservative “religious” fetus fetishists!
The war on women’s control of their own bodies isn’t just confined to red states either. Not long ago, a women was arrested in NYC and charged with self-abortion. I never even knew such a crime existed until recently.
Who are these people, and why do they want to turn women in their childbearing years into indentured servants who are forced to bear children against their will? Fortunately we do have alternative media available to us on the internet, and yesterday Alternet posted an article by Amanda Marcotte that spells out what is going on in the anti-choice movement and names eight groups pushing a “scorched earth” policy against women’s right to choose whether to have a child or not.
Marcotte writes that there is a split in the anti-choice movement:
As reproductive rights activists have noted for a couple of years now, there’s a war breaking out between two anti-choice groups, the incrementalists and the absolutists. Both largely agree on the goals of the movement, which is a complete ban on all abortion, with severe restrictions and possibly bans on contraception as well. What they disagree about is tactics. Incrementalists view themselves the more mainstream branch of the movement, and they focus mainly on chipping away at abortion rights. They’re wary of taking the fight to the courts, who tend to routinely shoot down any legislation perceived as an out-and-out ban on abortion.
The absolutists, on the other hand, claim this is a failed strategy and want to come out of the closet as full-throated soldiers in the war on women and sex, by directly attacking Roe v. Wade and taking the fight beyond abortion to contraception. Absolutists have managed to go around the more mainstream anti-abortion movement, passing legislation and gaining ground in the Republican Party. They’ve even managed to make Democrats cower, as evidenced by the highly unusual decision of the HHS to overrule the FDA’s decision to make Plan B available over the counter.
She goes on to name and describe eight groups that fit into the “scorched earth” category. Please read Marcotte’s article for more details, but I thought I’d list the groups and provide links to their web sites.
1. Personhood USA is focused on getting legislation passed that defines a zygote as a person. As we have discussed at Sky Dancing previously, such legislation would essentially mean a death sentence for women with ectopic pregnancies or incomplete miscarriages and would probably outlaw some types of contraception.
2. Live Action supports the personhood agenda and attacks Planned Parenthood. This is the group founded by Lila Rose that Dakinikat wrote about some time ago. Rose was 15 when she started the organization.
3. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbies elected officials (even though they claim it’s not lobbying), hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw contraception. Laura Bassett had an excellent piece about the Catholic Bishops at Huffpo last month.
5. Susan B. Anthony List pressures legislators to sign a “pro-life presidential pledge.” They also work to defund Planned Parenthood and United Nations Population Fund because they provide contraceptive services and treat women who have had botched abortions.
6. Leslee Unruh with the Alpha Center in South Dakota. Unruh fought for and failed to get a bill passed that would have completely banned abortion in South Dakota. The legislature did pass a bill requiring women to obtain “counseling” at an anti-choice “crisis pregnancy center” before having an abortion. Unruh is also against contraception and works with teenagers to “awaken them to the truth about their sexuality.”
7. American Life League is an older organization that has worked for many years to overturn both Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut, which made birth control legal for married people. This one sounds really sick–just go read Marcotte and then their website.
8. Marcotte says the anti-choice movement in Kansas is completely given over to the most extreme anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-women’s health views. She mentions the Kansas Coalition for Life, which harassed Dr. George Tiller until he was murdered and are now harassing Dr. Leroy Carhart of Nebraska. Apparently they also harass Kathleen Sibelius, which could partially explain her cowardly decision not to make Plan B available over the counter.
It’s pretty clear that there is a war on women going on in this country. Congress couldn’t even get a health care bill passed without cowtowing to fetus fetishists like Bart Stupak. Kudos to Amanda Marcotte for pulling together all this information. I know some of you are probably familiar with these organizations already, but for me googling and looking at their web sites was a real eye-opener.
You’d think Timothy Egan could have mentioned some of this anti-woman fever in his article, but either he hasn’t noticed it or he didn’t want to ruin his feel-good narrative. But women are under attack from every quarter these days. Perhaps the NYT should hire a few women to write op-eds about it.
Tuesday Reads: Debt Ceiling Chicken, Roberts vs. Roe, Rove on Obama, NewsCorp, and Casey Anthony RumorsPosted: July 19, 2011
Good Morning!! I know we’re all sick and tired of the debt limit battle, but there is going to be a vote today in the House–on a stupid bill that includes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. What a joke! And with only about two weeks to go until armageddon.
Anyway, let’s get the depressing news out of the way first. From Politico: Debt ceiling debate turns ‘scary’
Washington’s frayed nerves showed through Monday amid tough talk on the right, a White House veto threat, canceled weekend passes and the top Senate Democrat likening default to a “very, very scary” outcome even for those “who believe government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub.”
“What will it take,” asked an agitated Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), “for my Republican colleagues to wake up to the fact that they’re playing a game of political chicken with the entire global economy?”
House Speaker John Boehner confirmed a POLITICO report that he had met again privately with President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday to try to get debt talks back on track. But ignoring Obama’s veto warning, Boehner will press ahead Tuesday with House votes on a revised debt ceiling bill that shows no sign of compromise on the spending and tax policy differences behind the crisis.
Indeed, with the Aug. 2 deadline exactly two weeks away, the House GOP is doubling down its bet with 10-year statutory spending caps intended to wring $5.8 trillion in unspecified savings from the government during the next decade — more than twice the $2.4 trillion debt ceiling increase that is allowed. And in his haste to act, Boehner will bring the so-called Cut, Cap and Balance bill to the floor under exactly the type of procedure he has said he abhors: limited debate and with no real review by any legislative committee.
Yes, the psychopaths and John Birchers are in charge, and there’s nothing we can do but wait and hope.
The Nation has a good article about the ongoing war on women by Amanda Marcotte and Jesse Taylor: How States Could Ban Abortion With Roe Still Standing
The Supreme Court granting states the power to ban abortion with Roe still standing seemed outlandish even just a few years ago, but the appointment of John Roberts to Chief Justice shifted the equation. Roberts specializes in decisions that reverse the spirit of precedent while leaving intact the letter of it, like when he squashed large chunks of Brown v the Board of Education while claiming to uphold it. To make it legal to ban abortion in the states, all the court needs is a law that eliminates legal abortion while dodging the logic of Roe v Wade.
Many state legislatures appear to be doing just that, writing legislation which Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, describes as “part of an ongoing effort around the country to choke off women’s access to abortion by any means necessary – either by forcing doctors out of practice, banning procedures outright or demeaning women.”
How would the Roberts Court invalidate Roe without actually overturning it?
Until recently, Roe has been considered an insurmountable obstacle to states that wish to ban abortion. The conservative side of the Roberts bench, however, will likely view the Roe decision as a seesaw with women’s rights on one side and the state interest in the fetus on the other. Currently, most of the weight is on the woman’s side for three months, some weight moves over to the state’s side for the next three months, and then most of the weight moves to the state’s side for the last trimester.
Roberts has two options for reshaping Roe: the first is to claim the state’s interest in fetal life starts even sooner, using bogus science to claim we know more about the fetus than we did 1992, when Planned Parenthood v Casey was decided. The second option is to change the court interpretation of individual state rights and compelling state interest, while leaving Roe’s framework technically in place. The court could, for instance, define the state’s interests more broadly, allowing it to regulate differently within the (technically) still-operative Roe framework. This would allow a state like Kansas to claim to still have legal abortion while burying would-be abortion providers under so much red tape they couldn’t keep a clinic open. It would also allow states like South Dakota to create so many hoops for women to jump through to get abortion that women simply wouldn’t be able to do it. The right to choose would theoretically exist, but only to the extent states deign to recognize it.
This struck me funny–Karl Rove isn’t all that impressed with Obama’s fund-raising.
According to CBS radio’s Mark Knoller, who also serves as the unofficial White House press corps statistics king, the president attended 31 fundraisers in nine states during the last three months. That is more than a fundraising reception or dinner every three days.
Rove doesn’t think Obama can keep up that pace.
Thirty-one fundraisers in a quarter is a big strain on any president’s schedule. Mr. Obama can’t keep that pace up and not just because he’s got a day job. There are also just so many cities capable of producing $1 million and only so many times you can hold a million dollar fundraiser in them.
Here’s the funny part:
Even though at least $35 million (almost half the total Obama/DNC haul) can be credited to just 244 well-connected “bundlers,” Team Obama made a big thing of their 260,000 new small dollar donors. But that means only 292,000 donors from his last campaign have renewed their support for the re-elect so far. That’s just 6.6 percent of the 3.95 million people who donated to the ’08 Obama effort, only a quarter to a third of what most reelect campaigns could expect from renewal efforts at this point.
Perhaps there really is donor fatigue among the legions of stalwarts who put Mr. Obama in the White House the first time.
Yeah, I’d say there’s probably quite a bit of “donor fatigue” among the unemployed and underemployed masses.
British police are still insisting that the death of News of the World whistleblower Sean Hoare is not suspicious; but no one trusts the police because they were apparently taking bribes from Murdoch employees to help in stalking celebrities and other NOTW targets.
We’re being prepared to find out he died of an overdose by being reminded that Hoare had drug and alcohol problems. But so far we don’t have a cause of death. I say he was suicided. Even if he died of natural causes, no one will believe it.
Some people are beginning to question whether Rupert Murdoch can keep control of NewsCorp in the face of this growing scandal.
Independent directors of New York-based News Corp. have begun questioning the company’s response to the crisis and whether a leadership change is needed, said two people with direct knowledge of the situation who wouldn’t speak publicly. Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief who Murdoch backed until last week, was arrested yesterday in London.
“The shell of invulnerability that Rupert Murdoch had around him has been cracked,” said James Post, a professor at Boston University’s School of Management who has written about governance and business ethics. “His credibility and the company’s credibility are hemorrhaging.”
Murdoch’s son James is also in big trouble and may not survive the investigation.
Finally, despite the threats of the media and the public alike to boycott Casey Anthony and consign her to oblivion, lots of people are still obsession about her. The latest frenzy is the media’s efforts to find out where Anthony has disappeared to. I thought that’s what everyone wanted her to do?
The Orlando Sentinel asks: Where in the World is Casey Anthony? My answer is “who cares?” But it seems lots of people still do. News crews and helicopters attempted to follow the SUV that Anthony got into after she walked out of jail, but
Anthony’s exact location was lost when the SUV stopped at the parking garage of the building where fellow defense team member Cheney Mason works.
Droves of journalists and spectators waited for hours at nearby Orlando Executive Airport, where many guessed Anthony would board a private plane and head out of town.
But there was no clear sign of Anthony boarding a plane and no flight manifests immediately available that would indicate who was on board the handful of flights that departed the airport early Sunday.
The secrecy surrounding Anthony’s whereabouts continued to fuel the rumor mill Monday as the media and public tried to figure out where the 25-year-old is holing up and when she’ll resurface.
The latest rumor is that Anthony is staying at Geraldo Rivera’s residence in Puerto Rico, but Rivera denies it.
Defense attorney Cheney Mason says that Anthony is “safe” and that hundreds of people have offered to help her.
Whatever. I really thought ignoring her was a good idea, but I guess it isn’t going to happen.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?