Wednesday Reads: We are the world…

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Good morning, or afternoon, or…

whatever time of day it is.

It’s been 30 years since Quincy Jones got the gang together and cut that record: ‘We Are the World’ at 30: Stars Will Never Be That Earnest Again — The Atlantic

I used to make fun of that song when it came out. But you got to admit it did have a shitload of talent on there…

 

In the late-night hours of January 28, 1985, Quincy Jones ushered some of the world’s most famous pop stars into the A&M Studios in Los Angeles. Among them were Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Smokey Robinson, and Kenny Rogers. The stars—46 of them in all, many of them at the height of their careers—were greeted with a sign: “Check your egos at the door.”

This was both impossible and appropriate. The vocalists—an ad-hoc supergroup that would come to be known, pragmatically, as “USA for Africa”—were there to record, over the course of a long night, a song that was written for them by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, inspired by Harry Belafonte, and produced, in part, by Jones. It was to be a charity drive in musical form. Proceeds from the song’s sales, the idea went, would go toward alleviating a famine in Ethiopia. It was a song that was also an idea: “We Are the World.”

…We are the dumbass racist children/GOP Senators and Governors who will not make the world a better place…so fuck your charity and peace, give us treason, war and segregation…with a good ol’ fashioned lynching/shooting on the side.

Yeah, it has really gotten fucked up since then, just a few examples from the last few days.

Regarding lynchings, treason and war, case in point as follows, in link dump format:

Hands Across America — and even if you didn't participate you still wore the T-shirt.

 

Number 1= A group of frat boys singing a sweet little sing song anthem that is sure to make the SAE,  Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity a much better place: Oklahoma Frat Boys Caught Singing ‘There Will Never Be A N***** In SAE’

The nine-second video, uploaded by an anonymous user on YouTube, shows a group of college students in formal attire clapping while they sing racist lyrics to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It” during a date function. The lyrics as heard in the video are:

“There will never be a n***** in SAE.
There will never be a n***** in SAE.
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me
There will never be a n***** in SAE.”

Video is at the link, if you want to see it. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

Number 2= The parents who produced one of the “children” on the video…say he is not racist, but I think the picture at this link says it all. Parker Rice, parents of Levi Pettit apologize for ‘horrible mistake’ made in OU SAE video | Dallas Morning News

 

Brody and Susan Pettit, parents of recent Highland Park High School graduate Levi Pettit.

049bfccbcd4e55297129aa1405eb31a3“As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply,” says the statement, which has also been posted on this website. “He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever. However, we also know the depth of our son’s character. He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting. While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends.

“To our friends and family, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. They are very comforting in this difficult time.“We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our son — but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt. We would also like to apologize to the — entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration. Our family has the responsibility to apologize, and also to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Our words will only go so far — as a family, we commit to following our words with deeds.

“We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.”

Band-Aid-Do-They-Know-Its-547971The other statement, from Rice is more typical in the usually non-apology tone…blame the booze and say you are praying for guidance.

Parker Rice — the recent Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas graduate — sent his own apology, via his father Bob. Here it is in full:

“I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same. On Monday, I withdrew from the university, and sadly, at this moment our family is not able to be in our home because of threatening calls as well as frightening talk on social media.

aid-m-b“I know everyone wants to know why or how this happened. I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the song was taught to us, but that too doesn’t work as an explanation. It’s more important to acknowledge what I did and what I didn’t do. I didn’t say no, and I clearly dismissed an important value I learned at my beloved high school, Dallas Jesuit. We were taught to be ‘Men for Others.’ I failed in that regard, and in those moments, I also completely ignored the core values and ethics I learned from my parents and others.

“At this point, all I can do is be thoughtful and prayerful about my next steps, but I am also concerned about the fraternity friends still on campus. Apparently, they are feeling unsafe and some have been harassed by others. Hopefully, the university will protect them.

This sign now sits in front of the Rice house in Northwest Dallas.

This sign now sits in front of the Rice house in Northwest Dallas.

 

“For me, this is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this and make sure it never happens again. My goal for the long-term is to be a man who has the heart and the courage to reject racism wherever I see or experience it in the future.

“Thank you for your consideration of my deepest apologies for what I did.”

Oh boy…

From TBogg:  It’s not a ‘horrible mistake’ to sing a racist song – it’s horrible that you’re a racist

Levi Pettit is super sorry that he sang that stupid racist song. Sweet ride, eh? - Twitter

Levi Pettit is super sorry that he sang that stupid racist song. Sweet ride, eh? – Twitter

In a time of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and a few other social media thingy-mcApps that allow us to share every waking moment of our lives with others because we are all so amazingly interesting, it took a surprising long time for the identities of the two OU SAE-bros who led their frat brothers and their dates in a merry old racist sing-along to be revealed.

Undoubtedly it had to do with the fact that all white entitled Bieber-haired preppy douchebags look alike and, as a white person, it is totally not racist for me to say that.

8ec765be0ea5f29c147f25077792cb39The two strapping young Leaders of Tomorrow with the destined-to-be-in-a-frat-by-virtue-of-their-names are Parker Rice and Levi Pettit. For those who had Chad or Todd in your office pool…  so close, and my condolences.

In a time-honored tradition handed down from generation to generation of white men who come from affluent families with the means to make “indiscretions go away,” the two young men, both of whom are old enough to enlist in the military and serve their country, have manned up and apologized.

And by “manned up and apologized” I mean they have issued — or had issued for them — artisanal hand-crafted statements lovingly and carefully composed by family attorneys and “crisis managers.”

TBogg’s take on their statements:

Notable in both statements is the word “mistake,” and not in the “It was a mistake that I got caught being my white privileged drunken unaccountable-for-anything dumbass self” kind of way.

[…]

Parker Rice’s…After admitting that it was the demon rum that made him sing the song while also saying that is no excuse — but still, just sayin’  ya know –  we learn that it obliterated everything he learned at Jesuit prep school (“Men for Others“), and that he is concerned for his fellow frat bros.

Rice then moves on to my personal favorite : the ‘teachable moment’

35376565e77f654c6bbb3a14dde215c5As far as Levi Pettit–and his parents comments about him being a good boy and not racist…and that they are thankful for their close friends…and shit…

if the mention of the “diverse, close-knit group of friends” didn’t make you roll your eyes so hard you detached a retina, well, there is  this:

We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.

Victims of sexual assault need time to “heal.” Soldiers who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffer from PTSD need time to “heal” — if that is even possible. Families of unarmed African-American teenagers who are gunned down in the street by trigger-happy cops who know there will be no repercussions in a country where black lives don’t matter –  they need time to “heal” although that pain will never ever go away.

But the families of privileged young men who think it perfectly fine to lead drunken sing-alongs to songs about lynching “niggers” on a party bus?

They don’t get to plead for time to “heal” while at the same time explaining that their son is actually a swell kid of sound character who deep deep down has a really  good heart… just like we raised him. Hooray for us.

He’s a racist, and racism begins at home.

Heal that, then get back to us…

But you know…It isn’t like this is something new, this shit has been going on for evah:

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Oklahoma: SAE Fraternity has Troubled History of Race Vandalism, Hazing | Informed Comment

The Racist OU SAE Fraternity Chant Was Also Sung At Louisiana Tech | News OK

The Historical Roots of Fraternity Racism- History News Network HNN.org

New video shows OU’s SAE house mom using racist slurs – NY Daily News

Sigma Alpha Epsilon says it’s investigating additional racist ‘incidents’ – The Washington Post

Sigma Alpha Epsilon is no stranger to scandal and sanctions – CNN.com

 

My husband is a SAE brother. I haven’t asked him about it, I will let you know what he says…and if they had this little diddy of a song over at their chapter at USF. (He says they didn’t have that song, but they did not have any blacks in their frat…they had all other races, Jews, Latinos, Asians etc. He said that USF had two or three other black fraternities on campus so, blah blah blah…)

03/11/2015 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

 

What number was I on?

Number 3? Alright then…

Number 3= Dumbass cops who shoot to kill unarmed naked black men, because…I don’t know, they save the tasers for the old people in wheelchairs?

Police Officer Shoots and Kills Naked, Unarmed Black Man Near Atlanta

A white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man at an apartment complex in Chamblee, Ga. Monday afternoon. The man has been identified as 27-year-old Anthony Hill; he is believed to have suffered from mental illness.

[…]

…the officer, who has since been placed on administrative leave, also had access to a Taser and pepper spray.

d48a3558e4073966af0503c2c1e6b289In other police related news:

Ferguson fallout: Ferguson manager is 5th out after DOJ report alleging bias : News

The Mayor still has his job.

Next up, Porn and the patrol car—one cop’s 2 hour-a-day habit | Ars Technica

When you watch enough porn that investigators have to compile spreadsheets, you know you’re in trouble.

I guess the question is, Are You Smarter Than a Cop?

Yeah, cops make an arrest, but don’t understand the law they supposedly used to pull the car over to begin with.

Darisse was monitoring northbound traffic on a stretch of Interstate 77 near Dobson, North Carolina. He says that just around 8:00 a.m. he saw a Ford Escort pass his car. According to Darisse, the driver looked nervous, staring forward and gripping the steering wheel, so he decided to pull onto the road and follow the car. After a few miles, Darisse says the Escort approached some traffic and braked. That’s when he noticed that one of the car’s brake lights, the right one, was out. It was all the reason he needed, he thought,to initiate a stop.

[…]

It would have been just another drug bust except for one thing: North Carolina has no law against operating a vehicle with just one brake light.

 

A misunderstanding of the law, what does that remind you of?

Which leads me to:

Number 4= The idiot traitors in our midst.

Addicting Info – Even Republicans Admit Their Colleagues Were Stupid To Send Letter To Iran

As 47 Republican Senators have taken the plunge to be treasonous obstructionists, some on the right are just now realizing the magnitude of this mistake, and they are not happy.

77a22411bb9ecc173b996b80b7392c72Only seven Republicans abstained from the letter, including Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker told The Daily Beast that a letter was not the way to go nor was is appropriate:

“I didn’t think it was going to further our efforts to get to a place where Congress would play the appropriate role that it should on Iran. I did not think that the letter was something that was going to help get us to an outcome that we’re all seeking, and that is Congress playing that appropriate role. I immediately knew that it was not something that, for me anyway, in my particular role, was going to be constructive. “I didn’t realize until this weekend  that it had the kind of momentum that it had.”

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the letter would further cause more “animosity” between Congress and the White House and that the issue of Iran was “too important to divide us among partisan lines.” Senator Flake also pointed out that what President Obama is negotiating is an agreement, not a treaty, and also sided with Corker in the assertion that the letter was inappropriate, saying:

“I just didn’t feel that it was appropriate or productive at this point. These are tough enough negotiations as it stands, and introducing this kind of letter, I didn’t think would be helpful.”

John McCain, the senior Senator from Arizona, also signed the letter. Perhaps Flake should have a talk with him. Furthermore, when you have the most power member on foreign issues in the Senate not signing a letter undermining foreign relations, maybe you shouldn’t do it. But the junior senator from Arkansas thought he’d get his 15 minutes of fame by committing high treason in violation of the Logan Act. What a great way to start your Senate career.

The rest of the seven who did not sign are at that link as well.

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BTW: Cotton digs deeper after Iran letter sparks fury | MSNBC

When asked what an acceptable deal would look like to him, Cotton answered “complete nuclear disarmament by Iran.”
“They can simply disarm their nuclear weapons program and allow complete intrusive inspections,” Cotton said.
The Arkansan added that he wants Iranians to “completely disarm their nuclear weapons program.”
It’s worth emphasizing that Iran does not have nuclear weapons. “Disarming” sounds like a worthy goal, but it’s difficult to get rid of weapons that do not currently exist.
Dumb as dirt.

(I know my words are way off this morning, and I am not making sense, but I am on zero sleep…and the fun continues. Jake’s sugar levels were at 500 this a.m.)

Number 5: Extreme punishments or prison terms or fines….this is just fucked up:

Georgia sanitation worker will no longer serve jail time for picking up trash too early | theGrio

This is a case of doing your job while black?69c82af59c214b25d4aa4c1c799b2cec

Kevin McGill was picking up trash too early. So the sanitation worker was sent to jail.

A city ordinance in Sandy Springs, Georgia, limited the trash collection times to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. McGill began collecting trash at 5 a.m., which the city solicitor said was leading to complaints about noise from neighbors.

McGill agreed to a plea deal and was originally sentenced to 30 days in jail, which could be served on the weekends. Fortunately, his sentence was suspended this week after the city’s solicitor changed his tune.

Mind you, this was a first time offense.

Next up…trying to escape an abusive relationship, while female?

This 21-year-old woman faces decades in prison for trying to escape her abuser – Salon.com

Cherelle Baldwin is serving her 21st month in prison, even after a Connecticut jury refused to convict her.

Read that if you can stomach it.

From Florida, and a town I used to live in: One apartment complex’s rule: You write a bad review, we fine you $10k | Ars Technica

The picture of this execution chair is enough to get put in the extreme category: Utah set to bring back death sentence by firing squad | Miami Herald Miami Herald

FILE - This June 18, 2010, file photo shows the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert will not say if he'll sign a bill to bring back the firing squad but does say the method would give Utah a backup execution method. Herbert's spokesman Marty Carpenter issued a statement about the bill Tuesday in response to questions from reporters. Utah's Senate is set to cast a final vote on the bill this week. It would call for a firing squad if lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained 30 days before an execution.

This June 18, 2010, file photo shows the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah.

 

30fcd4303047f594a4e152f1dcdedffbBig numbers here: 250,000 Japanese still displaced 4 years after quake

And you want to talk about emails? Emails Reveal Lobbyist Had Undisclosed Role In Cuomo Financial Crisis Investigation – ProPublica

Last few links:

The Return of the Clinton Media Persecution Complex | Mother Jones

A Defiant Clinton Brushes Off Email Controversy – NBC News.com

Ugh…

If all that was not depressing enough:

Tim Burton to direct live action Dumbo | Film | The Guardian

Shit. He ruined Dark Shadows, imagine what he will do with the Pink Elephants on Parade?

Final link is a group of stuff about women: Physics geniuses, Mexican rappers, LEGO Supreme Court: It’s Woman Crush Wednesday | Grist

This past Sunday, March 8, was International Women’s Day — although, it’s worth mentioning that because of Daylight Savings in the good ol’ US of A, we couldn’t even get a whole 24 hours to celebrate womanhood. Typical. To make up for that, we hope you take a whole hour today to relax and enjoy our WCW roundup for this week — ladies, you deserve it!

That is it, I am going to try and get some sleep.

Here is the full performance of Queen at Live Aid:

 

Catch ya later…treat this as an open thread.

Minkoff. Out.

 

 


Sunday Reads: Updates and Comebacks

DCF 1.0Good Morning

Can you believe it is December 1st? Honestly, I can’t.

What an exhausting year this has been, to think it is almost over.

Anyway, here are your reads for this morning, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians protest plan to relocate Bedouins.

Thousands of Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank demonstrated Saturday against an Israeli government plan that in some cases would relocate Bedouins from traditional lands in the Negev desert to urban communities.

Some of the gatherings turned violent, with 28 protesters arrested and at least 15 police officers injured, one of them stabbed. Police fired stun grenades, tear gas and skunk water to disperse demonstrators.

The “Day of Rage” was called as the Israeli parliament was preparing to give final approval to what has become known as the Prawer Plan, named after an Israeli government official who wrote it.

Israeli officials say the plan was reached after extensive consultation with Bedouin leaders. It would provide recognition and previously denied services for some Bedouin communities that have been viewed by the Israelis as squatters on state land and relocate others while providing some compensation.

The controversial plan faces strong opposition from many Bedouins, who say it would in effect expropriate 200,000 acres of Arab land and forcibly relocate more than 40,000 Bedouins.

The protest have even spread to the UK: Day of Rage Rocks Israel, Spreads to UK.

Meanwhile, U.S. airlines complying with China’s new airspace demands.

U.S. airline officials say they are complying with new State Department guidance urging carriers to alert China before any flights pass through that country’s new self-declared air-defense zone.

Airline officials said Saturday that compliance would not disrupt travel to Asia, since they already communicate with any government when crossing through or over foreign territory.

In US politics: N. Georgia key battleground in Senate GOP primary

At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains sits one of the most Republican congressional districts in the country that is home to Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House.

The 9th Congressional District and the nearby 14th district are considered the heart of the GOP in Georgia and will be key battlegrounds in a fiercely contested Republican primary next year for an open U.S. Senate seat, a race that will be watched nationally as Democrats look to thwart efforts by Republicans to take control of the Senate.

While not as populous or packed with deep-pocket donors as metro Atlanta, the two districts in north Georgia offer a strong and reliable base of fiscal and social conservatives and are largely up for grabs considering no major candidate has a direct link to the area.

Yeah this is my district, the Saxby Chambliss district….according to that article, 20 percent of the state’s Republican voters are in these districts.

All the top candidates have already made trips and are expected to keep visiting ahead of the May 20 primary. The voters are used to seeing their elected officials and are known for asking tough questions.

“They are a lot like Iowa caucus voters. They expect to see their candidates in the flesh,” said Lake, who recently left the Senate campaign of Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, citing differences in opinion, and is no longer aligned with a candidate in the race.

A number of voters who attended a recent congressional hearing in the 9th district said they remain undecided. Besides Gingrey, the other major candidates are tea party favorite Rep. Paul Broun of Athens; Karen Handel, who has a statewide grassroots organization from her previous campaigns; fundraising leader Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah; and David Perdue, cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue and past CEO of Dollar General and Reebok.

Ugh. More disgust at the link, with no possible chance of getting a decent representative in Washington D.C.

Another link on an asshole of another kind: Seattle Asshole Demands Employee Firing Over Bar’s Google Glass Policy

The most absolute awful thing about the story of Nick Starr is not that he exists, but that there are surely more people like him: the Seattle IT drone threw a Facebook fit when he was asked to take off his face-camera at a cafe. “I would love an explanation, apology, clarification…or her termination.”

Read the rant at the link above.

Here’s the logic: the ability to covertly take pictures of people and perhaps post them to Twitter—as Starr has done in the past—shall not be infringed upon. Any attempts to subvert this divine right will be attacked in kind. This is an ostensibly carbon-based life form arguing for garnished wages or a lost job because he couldn’t wear a face computer into a watering hole.

Those Google Glass things are over the top and cross the line…and that this asshole has taken pictures of people in the bathroom and put them online…geez what a dickhead.

Okay, two links about JFK:

PBS show on JFK assassination ‘rigged’ and ‘biased,’ author says

In Wednesday’s Nova special on the JFK assassination, private investigator Josiah Thompson is an avuncular presence, repeatedly explaining what happened on Nov. 22, 50 years ago in Dallas.

But Thursday the author of Six Seconds in Dallas said he was “outraged,” calling the program “rigged.”

He wasn’t accusing “Cold Case: JFK” of faking or staging any tests, but said the program failed to fully examine acoustic evidence that suggests four shots were fired that day, because doing so might have derailed the show’s conclusion, that Lee Harvey Oswald was probably the only gunman.

Another View: Seven reasons to reject the Warren Report – California Forum – The Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman suggested “we see what we want to see” regarding the JFK assassination (“Kennedy slaying answers elude us”; Forum, Nov. 17). Marcos Breton blamed our skepticism on advancing age: “It’s the ultimate baby boomer fetish,” he scoffed (“Count me out of the JFK club”; Our Region, Nov. 17).

If you still think the Warren Report is an example of a trustworthy, paternal federal government here to help you, listen up.

Remember the auction of Classic Movie Memorabilia? If you are curious as to how much some of those items ended up going for, check it out here: Classic Movie Memorabilia

ICONIC MALTESE FALCON LEAD STATUETTE FROM THE 1941 FILM  Sold for $4,085,000  At the TCM / Bonham's Auction Nov 23,2013

ICONIC MALTESE FALCON LEAD STATUETTE FROM THE 1941 FILM Sold for $4,085,000 At the TCM / Bonham’s Auction Nov 23,2013

Angela Lansbury is making a comeback. No, she is not dead. Hold Up–Angela Lansbury Is Returning To The Stage

Hold Up--Angela Lansbury Is Returning To The Stage

In breaking entertainment news that is sure to get me 500 billion clicks today alone, Angela Lansbury is set to make her triumphant, beautiful return to the stage. After a more than 40 year absence from the London stage, Jessica Fletcher Lansbury will star in a West End revival of Noel Coward’s play Blithe Spirit.

TCM has been showing some crappy movies lately, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Please. Hopefully they get back to the good stuff soon.

Anyway, this next article is interesting too, from BBC News – A visit to a hidden coca plantation

The Peruvian government says it is committed to eradicating the coca leaf, from which cocaine is made – but a walk in the jungle suggests that for cash-strapped farmers, it is not an easy choice.

I should probably have listened just a little more carefully when the farmer answered my question.

I had asked if she would show me where her hidden coca plantation was – and what she said was: “Yes, of course, but it will mean a bit of walking.”

Now, I like walking, I walk for pleasure. But what a Peruvian farmer means by a “bit of walking” turned out to be rather different from what I mean.

We were in the region known as the High Amazon. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Green, lush hillsides and steep wooded valleys, where the foothills of the Andes meet the Amazon jungle. Traditionally it has been one of the main production centres for Peruvian cocaine.

And from coke production to art history: Vermeer’s Secret Tool: Testing Whether The Artist Used Mirrors and Lenses to Create His Realistic Images | Vanity Fair

David Hockney and others have speculated—controversially—that a camera obscura could have helped the Dutch painter Vermeer achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. But no one understood exactly how such a device might actually have been used to paint masterpieces. An inventor in Texas—the subject of a new documentary by the magicians Penn & Teller—may have solved the riddle.

In the history of art, Johannes Vermeer is almost as mysterious and unfathomable as Shakespeare in literature, like a character in a novel. Accepted into his local Dutch painters’ guild in 1653, at age 21, with no recorded training as an apprentice, he promptly begins painting masterful, singular, uncannily realistic pictures of light-filled rooms and ethereal young women. After his death, at 43, he and his minuscule oeuvre slip into obscurity for two centuries. Then, just as photography is making highly realistic painting seem pointless, the photorealistic “Sphinx of Delft” is rediscovered and his pictures are suddenly deemed valuable. By the time of the first big American show of Vermeer paintings—at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 1909—their value has increased another hundred times, by the 1920s ten times that.

Despite occasional speculation over the years that an optical device somehow enabled Vermeer to paint his pictures, the art-history establishment has remained adamant in its romantic conviction: maybe he was inspired somehow by lens-projected images, but his only exceptional tool for making art was his astounding eye, his otherworldly genius.

That is a long read…complete with videos.

Have a good day, and think of this as an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Nothing Changes

26529085274468460_7SooAxXc_cGood Morning

Another day under the belt for 2013, and it seems like things are never going to change.

I caught a quick interview on CNN Tuesday, Dana Bash was interviewing some Congressman…I don’t remember who…but he was a Republican from Colorado. She asked him point-blank if he was going to do anything in his power to stop Obama from passing new gun control laws. Of course, he hedged and then said the usual.

(I just updated this post, I found the segment I was watching on CNN:  CNN: Not Enough Support For New Gun Laws In Democratic-Controlled Senate

It was Cory Gardner, the GOP Rep from Colorado that Dana Bash was interviewing.)

At the same time this CNN interview was going on, I was engaged in a heated conversation with my husband over the government control of bullets. He was against it, flatly. His loyalty to the GOP is really something to see. After everything he has been through and all the personal miseries we have endured because of the Republicans’ ridiculous positions on everything that would help us, he still will agree with them.

Why be against controls on ammunition? If we must show our drivers license, have it recorded in a database to keep track of our purchases and even place our signature…swearing we are who we are….just to buy the over-the-counter cold medicine Sudafed, why not make folks do the same for bullets?

Well, the response I got was typical.  It would be inconvenient, take too long, etc. WTF?

After that comment, and listening to some asshole from a state who has had more than their share of mass shootings give Dana Bash the typical GOP answer to any reasonable question about changing gun laws that do not follow the powerful gun lobby’s agenda, I lost it.  I turned the TV off and have not looked at any of news since.

The reason I am going on about this is simple, PAD…political affective disorder strikes again.

So, if these links are repeats, I apologize.

Nothing ever changes.

NRA airs new TV ad criticizing Obama on eve of White House gun announcement

Rand Paul: Obama acting ‘like a king’ on guns, vows to fight executive actions

Edwin Meese: Obama Can Be Impeached Over Guns

Rep. Steve Stockman threatens to impeach Obama over guns

Little-known laws shed light on NRA influence

Want more crazy?

Louisiana Governor’s New Plan Would Raise Taxes On Bottom 80 Percent Of Residents

This man helped save six children, is now getting harassed for it

Former Aide: Michele Bachmann Had “Unnatural Relationship” With Debate Coach

I’ve got a headache, and two sick kids to deal with…this is an open thread.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

Wall Street Royal Jamie Dimon deigned to appear before a Senate Committee yesterday, and the Senators mostly sucked up to him. I’m surprised they didn’t ask if he needed a pillow for his chair. MSNBC: Senate treats JPMorgan CEO Dimon with kid gloves

Dimon was expected to receive a frosty reception in his first congressional appearance since he announced the bank sustained a trading loss some analysts now estimate is at least $3 billion. It was a massive loss for the nation’s biggest financial institution.

Instead, Dimon, who has won praise for bringing JPMorgan (JPM) through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, was treated cordially by most of members of the Senate Banking Committee. They peppered him with questions about regulation and risky practices at the bank, but did not press him to give an update on the losses resulting from the trade. JPMorgan is expected to give an update to shareholders when it reports its second-quarter earnings July 13.

“I think it was a pretty favorable day,” David Konrad, a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods banking analyst, told CNBC. Konrad said he was surprised that the questioning of Dimon by lawmakers was so “professional.”

Excuse me, “professional” for a Senator would have been sending this man to the woodshed. NPR’s Marketplace called the treatment of Dimon “a wake for Dodd-Frank.”

Yahoo has named the winner of the “Most Tepid Endorsement of Mitt Romney” contest: it’s a bumper sticker that reads “At least he’s not a communist.”

Until recently, it appeared that no one could unseat Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as the champion of the tepid Romney endorsement. Since Yahoo News started conducting reader polls on the politicians who supported Mitt Romney in the least enthusiastic terms, Daniels has defeated original champ George Pataki and defended the crown against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George W. Bush. (The former president came the closest to unseating Daniels.)

We thought the book was closed on the tepid endorsement bracket until Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody spotted a bumper sticker at last weekend’s regional CPAC conference in Chicago bearing these words of praise: “At least he’s not a communist.”

You can read the other tepid endorsements at the link.

First Romney made fun of Obama for wanting to help cities and states pay for cops, teachers, and firefighters. Then he went on Fox News and said it was a “strange accusation” for anyone to say he didn’t want to hire teachers and first responders.

After an extended skewering of President Obama for a gaffe about the private sector last week, ending with the charge that it was proof the president was “out of touch” Romney was asked by Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade for his response to Obama saying it was Romney who was clueless (Romney’s comment comes at about the 1:40 mark) :

[BRIAN] KILMEADE: He says that you’re out of touch. He says you want to cut firefighters and teachers, that you don’t understand what’s going on in these communities. What do you say to that, Governor?

ROMNEY: Well, that’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So, obviously that’s completely absurd.

But of course the federal government does subsidize states and they often use the money to pay for these public employees. In fact, the reason so many teachers, firefighters and cops are getting laid off now is because stimulus money has run out.

Yesterday Greg Sargent pointed out that Romney’s plan would indeed cut billions from cops, firefighters and teachers

Yesterday Mitt Romney claimed that it was “ completely absurd” of the Obama campaign to argue that he favors cutbacks in cops, firefighters and teachers. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen,” Romney said, adding that they were paid by states and localities.

What’s getting lost in the back and forth here is that Romney’s actual economic plan would, in fact, cut billions of dollars in federal money that goes to cops, firefighters, and teachers — perhaps more than $10 billion a year, in fact.

This is the conclusion of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzed Romney’s plan through the prism of the debate over public workers at my request.

As Michael McAuliff reported yesterday, despite Romney’s claim, the federal government does give billions of dollars to states and localities through programs like Title 1, the COPS program, FEMA and others — which pay for first responders and teachers.

This is amazing. Romney finally broke down and decided to talk to a media source that isn’t Fox News! He will be on Face The Nation on Sunday morning.

A full year into his presidential campaign, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will venture out of his Fox comfort zone this Sunday to make his first appearance on a rival network’s political talk show.

Romney has been interviewed several times on ”Fox News Sunday” this campaign cycle, but has declined repeated invitations to appear on any of the other Sunday shows, occasionally drawing scorn from veteran anchors accustomed to interviewing presidential candidates.

Let’s hope Shieffer asks a few tough questions. One thing Shieffer will probably ask about is Romney’s choice of Vice President. One of the leading contenders, Marco Rubio, announced yesterday that he supports the illegal Florida voter purge.

“How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?” he said at a Bloomberg event, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Rubio’s comments put him in line with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) who on Tuesday declared the debate on the merits of the purge “over,” because the probe had supposedly turned up more than 50 non-citizen voters who had cast ballots.

The Department of Justice didn’t agree. Later Tuesday, it announced it was launching a federal lawsuit against Florida over complaints that the purge was taking place within 90 days of its August 14 primary election, as well as over its alleged violation of a voting rights law meant to prevent states from suppressing voters.

That might not help Romney win over Latino voters.

John Avlon has a piece at CNN on Jeb Bush and other “moderate” Republicans who are starting to fight back against Grover Norquist:

This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.

The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.

That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States.

And Jeb is not alone.

As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It’s not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge’s effective veto of deficit reduction plans “ridiculous” when talking with Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, “We’re so far in debt, that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks.”

Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators — from Maine’s Susan Collins to Iowa’s Chuck Grassley to Wyoming’s John Barrasso — and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.

In pedophile news, Jerry Sandusky had another bad day in court yesterday with three victims testifying that he manipulated and threatened them into putting up with his sick sexual behavior.

The trio of young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky on the third day of his sexual-abuse trial couldn’t have been more different in personality and temperament. Yet each of their testimonies was sexually graphic and disturbing—and midway through the prosecution’s fast-tracked arguments, a clear pattern has emerged in their allegations.

I’m not going to quote all of the sordid details–there are too many of them anyway. You can read it all at the link. I’ll just give you one excerpt that shows what Sandusky is all about:

Then, the witness told the jury of a time he visited the Sandusky home.

“We were in the basement. We were wrestling,” he said in a monotone frequently heard from abuse victims who have had to tell their stories multiple times. “The defendant pinned me to the floor, pulled down my gym shorts, and started to perform oral sex on me.” Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan what his reaction was at the time, the witness said, “I freaked out.”

“Did he ever say anything to you about it?” McGettigan asked.

“He told me if I ever told anyone I’d never see my family again,” the young man replied. “Later he apologized and said he didn’t mean it, that he loved me.”

I hope Sandusky goes to prison for life, and I want to see prosecutions of his enablers at Penn State. It’s an outrage that he was allowed to go on abusing children for years after many at the school knew about his behavior.

And then there’s the Catholic Church: U.S. Catholics still suspect priests sexually abuse children: Report

The National Review Board said that, a decade after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a child protection charter, there has been a “striking improvement” in the way the Church deals with the abuse of minors by clergy.

“Children are safer now because of the creation of safe environments, and action has been taken to permanently remove offenders from ministry,” said the report, released as the Conference began its annual spring meeting in Atlanta.

But it acknowledged: “Despite solid evidence (to the contrary), many of the faithful believe that sexual abuse by clergy is occurring at high levels and is still being covered up by bishops.”

Well, what did they expect? I’m certainly not surprised. In fact I’d be surprised if there aren’t still pedophile priests abusing children.

Forest boy

I’ll end with the strange story of “Forest Boy.”

Berlin police on Wednesday released photos an English-speaking teenage boy who wandered into the city nine months ago saying he had been living for the last five years in the forest with his father.
Police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said all attempts to identify the boy since he emerged in the German capital on Sept. 5 have been unsuccessful, and they are now hoping the release of his photo may produce some leads.

“We have checked his DNA against all missing person reports, sent the data to Interpol so that they could check it internationally, but unfortunately without any success,” Neuendorf said.
The boy has told authorities his father called him “Ray” and that he was born June 20, 1994, but claims not to know his last name or where he’s from.

He said his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident when he was 12 and after that he and his father, Ryan, took to the forest. He said they wandered using maps and a compass, staying in tents or caves overnight.

He told authorities that after his father died in August, 2011, he buried him in the forest and then walked five days north before ending up in Berlin, and showed up at city hall.

As of last night, the identity of the boy was still a mystery even after release of the photos.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Reads

Good Morning news junkies! I’m filling in for WonktheVote today. She is taking a little break from blogging, so Dakinikat, Minkoff Minx, and I are going to take turns doing the Saturday Reads for a little while. So what’s in the news today? Let’s see…

After his blow-up-the-economy plan passed the House yesterday, John Boehner gave a very defensive-sounding speech to justify his treasonous behavior.

A defiant House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late Friday defended his debt-ceiling plan by saying it is the only viable plan on paper so far….

“I’ve offered ideas, I’ve negotiated,” Boehner said in closing debate on his bill. “Not one time, not one time did the administration ever put any plan on the table. All they would do is criticize what I put out there.

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States,” Boehner continued to grumbling among Democrats. “Hey, I put revenues on the table in order to try to come to an agreement in order to avert us being where we are. But a lot of people in this town can never say yes.”

He also defended including the ridiculous balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in his bill.

“It’s time for this to happen,” he said. “It enjoys support from both houses of this Congress, and it enjoys bipartisan and widespread support across our country.”

No. It doesn’t, Mr. Speaker.

A short time later the Senate put Boehner’s bill out of its misery.
Now what?

Despite a day of frenzied legislative maneuvering and another attempt by President Obama to rally public opinion behind some kind of compromise, the two parties made no visible progress in finding common ground, leaving Washington, Wall Street and much of the nation watching the clock toward a deadline of midnight Tuesday.

Reid has made some changes in his plan, hoping to appeal to Senate Republicans. The NYT didn’t elaborate on what these changes are. At Huffpo, Michael McAuliff and Sam Stein say Reid’s plan is now a lot like Mitch McConnell’s. But whatever its contents, Republicans in the House plan to hold a “symbolic vote” on it today in order to “send a message” that whatever the Senate agrees on will not pass the House.

These people are playing with fire. It’s looking like they’re not going to meet the August 2 deadline either.

The seemingly unbridgeable impasse between the two parties as the deadline for raising the nation’s debt limit approaches has Tom Daschle losing sleep, as he never did when he was a Senate Democratic leader in the mid-1990s and Congressional Republicans forced government shutdowns rather than compromise on spending cuts.

“That was nothing compared to this. That was a shutdown of the government; this could be, really, a shutdown of the entire economy,” Mr. Daschle said. “You can’t be too hyperbolic about the ramifications of all this.”

Democrats and Republicans with legislative experience agree that even if both sides decided Saturday to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling and to reduce future annual deficits, it would be extremely difficult for the compromise measure to wend its way through Congress before Tuesday’s deadline, given Congressional legislative procedures.

But all signs point to August 2 passing with no budget bill. As we all know, President Obama could end the struggle at any time with an executive order, but then he’d have to put off gutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for a little bit longer. He can’t allow that, now can he?

Stay tuned…

There has been a disturbing string of sexual assaults on women in Ann Arbor, Michigan over the past two weeks. the assaults have taken place near the University of Michigan campus. There have been six attacks, two of which were rapes. In the others, women were grabbed and fondled, but managed to escape.

Two different composite sketches of the suspect have been developed. Police aren’t sure if there is just one perpetrator two. The FBI is now involved in the investigation.

The agency will be assisting Ann Arbor police at the city’s request, said FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold. She did not provide any details about the agency’s role.

The six attacks occurred between July 15 and 26, and between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The victims were traumatized, said police spokeswoman Lt. Renee Bush.

Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones said he did not know if the attacks were linked. He warned in a letter to university staff, faculty and students that there was a “predator or predators operating in our community.”

Emily Zinn and her boyfriend were sleeping when one of the rapes took place right outside their apartment.

…an 18-year-old woman was pulled behind a wall outside Zinn’s bedroom window and raped on July 18.

She first noticed something was wrong when she and her boyfriend, Matt McAnelly, 24, a University of Michigan graduate student, heard the girl sobbing outside about 12:45 a.m.

“We heard a girl crying and ‘Help me, help me,’ ” Zinn said. “She was saying, ‘He left, I’m alone,’ so we didn’t really know what was happening.”

The couple heard nothing while the girl was being attacked.

This monster (or monsters) must be stopped ASAP.

Is the U.S. on the verge of a revolution?

On last night’s The Big Picture with progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann, author Neil Howe discussed how he and William Strauss came to accurately predict today’s political crisis in their 1997 book “The Fourth Turning,” and offered speculation as to what might happen next….

Speaking of the generational differences between today’s new guard and the retiring baby boomers, Howe said that cultural forces have essentially forced this crisis, with “culture warriors” and “values voters” in direct contention with “gen x” for control of the national budget.

“Are we on the verge of another ‘fourth turning’ — another major crash leading to a world war and a world-wide depression?” Hartmann asked.

“No,” Howe said. “I hope it won’t be bad. I hope the destructive will be avoided to the furthest extent possible and the constructive, which always comes out of a fourth turning… will be maximized.”

Watch it:

———————————————–

A judge has ordered the release of Richard Nixon’s grand jury testimony about the Watergate scandal.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request by historian Stanley Kutler, who has written several books about Nixon and Watergate, and others to unseal the testimony given on June 23 and 24 in 1975.

Nixon was questioned about the political scandal during the 1970s that resulted from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington….

Lamberth ruled in the 15-page opinion that the special circumstances, especially the undisputed historical interest in Nixon’s testimony, far outweighed the need to keep the records secret. Grand jury proceedings typically remain secret.

The Obama administration opposed the release of Nixon’s testimony. It figures, doesn’t it?

Finally, here’s a fascinating bit of historical revisionism from George W. Bush.

In a rare interview with the National Geographic Channel, Bush reflects on what was going through his mind at the most dramatic moment of his presidency when he was informed that a second passenger jet had hit New York’s World Trade Center.

Bush was visiting a Florida classroom and the incident, which was caught on TV film, and has often been used by critics to ridicule his apparently blank face.

But Bush claims he deliberately decided to stay in his seat so as not to alarm the children and to “project a sense of calm.”

“I had been in enough crises to know that the first thing a leader has to do is to project calm,” he added.

I wonder what “crises” he’s talking about? Just about the only thing he did as Governor of Texas was execute people. Let’s watch Bush’s demeanor on 9/11/2001 and see how well he projected “a sense of calm.”

——————————————

Here’s what one of the children who was in the classroom that day had to say about it:

“The president he just sat there, and his face — he just went dead,” says Jaimie, who was among the second graders in the classroom where President Bush learned of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Jamie’s one of the kids featured in Nickelodeon’s Linda Ellerbee news special, “What Happened?: The story of September 11, 2001,” which debuts Sept. 1.

That’s all the news I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Elizabeth Warren for Senate? MA Dems Not On Board So Far

The blogosphere is all a-flutter over the possibility of Elizabeth Warren running for the Senate from Massachusetts.

The Progressive Change Campaign has begun a petition drive to draft Warren.

Taylor Marsh is reporting that Warren told Andrea Mitchell that she will think about the Senate after she gets back to Harvard.

Greg Sargent has posted a list of reasons why national Democrats want Warren to run.

So how do Massachusetts Democrats feel about all this? A few days ago, The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi wrote that President Obama was afraid to unlikely to appoint Elizabeth Warren as head of the new Consumer Protection Agency that she fought for and then built, so now her supporters are pushing a Senate run against Republican Scott Brown as a “consolation prize.” According to Vennochi, this initiative isn’t being received all that well here in Massachusetts.

On paper, her candidacy would attract women, liberals, and money from both constituencies, locally and nationally. “She’s tough as nails . . . She’s smart as hell and she could wrap Scott Brown around her little finger in a debate,’’ said Philip Johnston, [John] Walsh’s predecessor as state party chairman.

But Warren isn’t well-known, beyond a small circle of elite Democrats. She has never run for office or built a grassroots organization. And a handful of candidates already in the race won’t be happy about being big-footed, leaving current supporters in an awkward spot.

Massachusetts Democrats aren’t too pleased with the DSCC these days after they and Obama chose not to support Martha Coakley against Scott Brown. State party chairman Walsh told Vennochi that he probably wouldn’t support Warren’s candidacy, since he is backing John Kerry’s chosen candidate Setti Warren. Vennochi:

The idea of Washington Democrats imposing their will on Massachusetts Democrats is distasteful. The DSCC, especially, is not popular here after its tactics largely backfired in the special election that Brown stunningly won. A lack of initial support for Democrat Martha Coakley was followed up by a belated barrage of negative ads that hurt rather than helped Coakley.

The DSCC can also come off as bullies.

Last month, when Kerry was hosting a fundraiser for the DSCC at his Beacon Hill home, he wanted to invite Setti Warren to the event. But the DSCC said no to inviting only one candidate because the group didn’t want to look like it is taking sides – unless, of course, it’s Elizabeth Warren’s side.

Besides, would Obama pitch in to support Warren for Senate? Somehow I doubt it.


New Year’s Eve Reads

Good morning!

Today we begin to say good bye to 2010 and the first decade of the millennium and century!    What a decade and what a year it has been!  I don’t know about you, but just the last five years alone have turned my life upside down. (Think Hurricane Katrina, BP Oil Tsunami, and the financial crisis that has empowered thugs like Governexorcist Jindal to enforce absolute budget austerity on Louisiana and higher education.)   Despite all that, we’re going to have an Airing of the Gratitude thread as part of the-Little-Blog-That-Could’s New Year’s Celebration.  I’ve bought my black eyed peas and cabbage.  Now, I’m making my list of things that I resolve to appreciate for the thread.  I’d like to invite you to think about yours too and join in.   A lot of my gratitude comes under the heading of my daughters, dad and sister, and my friends.  That includes you !  We’re a blogging community that was forged from some really tough political times.

Meanwhile, here are some headlines to gear you up for the coming year and decade.  May things improve for the better!!  May peace and sanity prevail!!  May every one’s health and circumstances improve tremendously!  Many, many  blessings to each and every one of you!

Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the coming year?  A CNN poll  shows a lot of people are optimistic about the the world outlook, but less so about their personal situation. Men are much more optimistic than women.  Where do you fit in?

The Senate appears to have reached its limit on perpetually trying to find 60 votes for cloture and taking every ‘threat’ of a filibuster seriously.  Brian Beutler at TPM is following the reform movement and the possible hurdles it faces.

The consensus package will aim to put an end to “secret holds” (anonymous filibuster threats) and disallow the minority from blocking debate on an issue altogether. Those two reforms are fairly straightforward. The third is a bit more complex. Udall, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), say there’s broad agreement on the idea to force old-school filibusters. If members want to keep debating a bill, they’ll have to actually talk. No more lazy filibusters.

But how would that actually work? In an interview Wednesday, Udall explained the ins and outs of that particular proposal.

“What we seem to have the most consensus on, is what I would call… a talking filibuster,” Udall told me. “Rather than a filibuster which is about obstruction.”

As things currently stand, the onus is on the majority to put together 60 votes to break a filibuster. Until that happens, it’s a “filibuster,” but it’s little more than a series of quorum calls, votes on procedural motions, and floor speeches. The people who oppose the underlying issue don’t have to do much of anything if they don’t want to.

Here’s how they propose to change that. Under this plan, if 41 or more senators voted against the cloture motion to end debate, “then you would go into a period of extended debate, and dilatory motions would not be allowed,” Udall explained.

As long as a member is on hand to keep talking, that period of debate continues. But if they lapse, it’s over — cloture is invoked and, eventually, the issue gets an up-or-down majority vote.

DDay at FDL has a thread up that offers a more detailed explanation.  This includes a bit on what is being called ‘continuous debate’ which sounds a lot like that Jimmy Stewart movie “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” or what every one was hoping for when Bernie Sanders started talking a few weeks ago.

After 41 Senators or more successfully maintain a filibuster by voting against cloture, they would have to hold the floor and go into a period of extended debate. Without someone filibustering holding the floor, cloture is automatically invoked, and the legislation moves to an eventual up-or-down vote, under this rule change.

This would institute the actual filibuster. The Majority Leader would have the capacity, which Harry Reid says he doesn’t have now, to force the minority to keep talking to block legislation. It becomes a test of wills at this point – whether the minority wants to hold out for days, or whether the majority wants to move to other legislation.

Here’s hoping we can fix our broken government that is driven by corporate cash and interests and railroaded by imperious Senators.  I’m not very hopeful that congress can actually fix itself, but I guess we’ll see.  I will say that I do think Tom Udall is a good man. He’s one of the people that is fighting for an improved process.

I still have Louisiana and New Orleans on my mind right now. We have a new headline in our ongoing BP Oil Gusher Saga. This is from Raw Story. It appears the company that owns the rig–Transocean–is refusing to co-operate with the federal oil spill probe. I just want to find out what went wrong so we don’t ever repeat it.  I’m sure all they are thinking about is the upcoming lawsuits.

Transocean said the U.S. Chemical Safety Board does not have jurisdiction in the probe, so it doesn’t have a right to the documents and other items it seeks. The board told The Associated Press late Wednesday that it does have jurisdiction and it has asked the Justice Department to intervene to enforce the subpoenas.

Last week, the board demanded that the testing of the failed blowout preventer stop until Transocean and Cameron International are removed from any hands-on role in the examination. It said it’s a conflict of interest. The request is pending.

Our economy is in sad shape down here and a good part of it is due to Transocean’s role in destroying livelihoods and life around the Gulf of Mexico.  Human lives aren’t the only thing still struggling from the gulf gusher.  Here’s some local news on that.

Scientists at the institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport are studying why two endangered manatees died near the Gulf Coast in the past two weeks.

According to the Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Moby Solangi, cold water killed the manatees, but they should have migrated to warmer water.

Scientists are finding an unusually large number of Gulf of Mexico animals out of place since the BP oil spill began.

“It is no different than having a forest fire,” Dr. Solangi said Thursday. “The oil spill expanded, it went thousands of square miles and as their habitat shrunk, these animals moved to areas that were not affected.”

The problem, according to Dr. Solangi, is those unaffected areas were also unfamiliar to the animals.

Too many turtles, for instance, wound up in waters off the Mississippi coast, where they didn’t understand the food supply.

300 turtles died in Mississippi.

Many more were caught by fishermen.

“In the past years, we would get one or two or maybe three animals, this year we had 57,” Dr. Solangi said.

He and his staff at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies are now caring for dozens of sea turtles.

Of course, turtles in distress have to be  swimming through some pretty nasty stuff in their environment. The shores along the Gulf are still oiled. Here’s a story about 168 miles of coast in Louisiana alone.  This is from New Orleans own Times Picayune. Yes, folks, every single story I’m linking to on this is no more than a day old.  We’re still living this nightmare down here.

Louisiana’s coastline continues to be smeared with significant amounts of oil and oiled material from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, with cleanup teams struggling to remove as much as possible of the toxic material by the time migratory birds arrive at the end of February, said the program manager of the Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams, which are working for BP and the federal government.

There are 113 miles of Louisiana coastline under active cleanup, with another 55 miles awaiting approval to start the cleanup process, according to SCAT statistics. Teams have finished cleaning almost 72 miles to levels where oil is no longer observable or where no further treatment is necessary.

But that’s not the whole story for the state’s coastline. According to SCAT statistics, there’s another 2,846 miles of beach and wetland areas where oil was once found but is no longer observable or is not treatable.

Gary Hayward, the Newfields Environmental Planning and Compliance contractor who oversees the SCAT program, said that large area will be placed into a new “monitor and maintenance” category, once Louisiana state and local officials agree to the procedures to be used for that category.

“With rare exceptions, most of the marshes still have a bathtub ring that we have all collectively decided we aren’t going to clean any more than we already have because we’d be doing more harm to the marshes than the oil is going to be doing to them,” Hayward said.

Raise your hand  if you heard any thing about any of this on your local newspaper or the national TV stations.  We’re so out of sight and out of mind down here that some times I wonder if we’re even considered part of the country.  You do realize that a majority of water-related commerce and a majority of oil comes through our state, don’t you?

The South American country of Brazil is looking forward to incoming-President Dilma Rousseff.  The Nation has an article that spotlights the country’s first female elected head of state.  I only hope to see a day like that for our country.  I’d also like to end the Reagan legacy and get a real Democrat back in the White House.  Yes, I’m clapping for Tinkerbelle.

When the confetti was still falling after her victory at the polls on October 31, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president-elect, said, “I want to state my first commitment after the elections: to honor Brazil’s women so that today’s unprecedented result becomes a normal event and may be repeated and enlarged in companies, civil institutions and representative entities of our entire society.”

In a country where women have typically played a limited role in politics, the election of a woman to Brazil’s highest office signals a major break from the past. But Rousseff’s term will likely be marked by continuity with her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula, a member of the Workers’ Party (PT), is leaving office with 87 percent support in the polls. An economist, PT bureaucrat, chief of staff under Lula and former guerrilla in the anti-dictatorship movements of the 1960s and ’70s, Rousseff was handpicked by Lula to follow his lead as president. When she is sworn in on January 1, she will inherit Lula’s popular legacy and will be further empowered by the fact that her party and allied parties won a majority of seats in the Senate and Congress. Not even Lula counted on this much support.

Well, at least somewhere, women are getting their due.  I’m getting tired of living through stories where women in the U.S. watch jobs they should have go to less qualified people.  Then, they get to do all the work without the title.  What’s worse is when the boyz club in power make you participate in the charade of celebration and finding the royal heir. Like that legitimizes their malfeasance!  Here’s yet another example in a  WSJ story about Elizabeth Warren searching for a person for the job she would hold if the world weren’t so upside down.  It seems less and less about qualifications and knowledge these days and more and more about appearances and appeasing the old boyz.  Money screams!

White House adviser Elizabeth Warren and a top lieutenant are quietly asking business and consumer groups for names of people who might run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, people familiar with the matter said.

The hunt suggests that Ms. Warren, a lightning rod for some bankers, might not be selected to lead the bureau, a centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill that passed this summer. Still, many liberal groups will push to get her in the post.

President Barack Obama’s choice could signal how he intends to deal with resurgent Republicans in Congress. The feelers to business groups serve as a reminder that any nominee would likely need support from at least seven Republicans in the Senate to win confirmation.

Among the names being discussed are Iowa’s attorney general, Tom Miller; New York state bank regulator Richard Neiman; and former Office of Thrift Supervision director Ellen Seidman.

The reality is Obama fights for nothing but Obama. I know there are other Obama appointments coming up shortly and I’m trying to get a grasp on what I want to discuss with you on the proposed replacements for Larry Summers.  Well, I know what I want to discuss but it’s more like trying to figure out how to describe what I see as the problem. As some one who rides both sides of the finance and economics line, I have some insight that many don’t have.  Finance is where you make the money and it’s really based on chimera.  I know the details and the proofs behind asset pricing models and it’s simply smoke and mirrors.  Economics is where the brains and the real insight exists. There is going to most likely be a bland, uninspired replacement for Larry Summers.  A finance person will undoubtedly win that appointment.  Hence, we will get smoke and mirrors and meaningless numbers.

Once again, it’s the vision thing.  All these appointments seem to reek of employing micromanaging corporate bureaucrats that are part of the problem.  They can crank through the data but they can’t put it into perspective.  As old President Bush used to say, no one seems to be good at the “vision thing”.  No one is crafting a  blue print that incorporates a better big picture based on what we already know.  The Great Depression and the inflationary 70s–and definitely the failures of Reagan’s voodoo economics–are full of lessons that every one seems to be ignoring.   We’re seeing the appointment of types that just muck around in the already mucked up bureaucracy decimated by Dubya Bush whose only inspiration appeared to be blowing things up like a psychopathic third grade with a bunch of firecrackers and a pond full of frogs.

Finance people have tons of numbers in search of a theory.  They crunch that data until they come up with a hypothesis that fits their storyline.   Macroeconomists have a broader sense of what the system needs to look like in order to really change things.  Economics has theory proved endlessly by empiricists.  Finance people have run amok since the 1980s and really, it’s time to end overt data mining and look to bigger principles.

This White House seems really short on values, vision, and a blueprint to carry our country forward into this new decade. We need an economic strategy that includes real job creation; not imaginary ‘saved’ jobs.  We need to unwind any thing that’s too big too fail and empower small, facile, and agile companies.  Our money needs to be concentrated on developing strategies and resources that we can nurture and renew.  (No, corn ethanol is not the answer. Making higher education more expensive and less accessible to all is not the answer either.)  We need to find a way to fulfill our promises to the weakest among us.  Current income inequality is not only immoral but it’s at levels approaching the powder keg of revolutions.  (Have you listened to a Teabot recently?)   We can no longer be railroaded by the interests of the few just because they can afford to fund political campaigns.  No government law should incent a business to leave its community in need to search out obscene profits elsewhere because government policy encourages it.  We should not accommodate any country that buggers growth from us by proffering trinkets on credit.   Vision is not a difficult thing.  Fighting for what’s right should not be a difficult thing either unless you’re in the fight with the wrong motivation.

Compromise seems to come so easy these days because there’s nothing proffered but compromise.  The original positions are badly compromised from the get-go.  Law making is based on political victory and not victory for the country.  No one is shifting real strategies due to midterm elections because there’s never been an overarching plan to begin with.  Moving pieces around a chess board is not playing chess.  Government at the highest levels has just gotten to be a muddled process with no guiding principles.   The White House is intently putting mid-level bureaucrats from corporations and the Clinton administration in charge of making tasteless sausage.  It’s just making things even more muddled and more muddled is not the type of change people want.  No bold vision could ever include the likes  Timothy Geithner, Joe Biden, or  Bill Richardson in positions that require vision.  Instead, we have people of vision–like Elizabeth Warren–hunting for acceptable seat warmers.

Meh.

I would just like to say that the last two months of being more than a file cabinet has brought a lot of intriguing things to Sky Dancing.  We have a growing number of readers and front pagers and I find that all very exciting.  So, must other parts of the blogosphere.   WonktheVote’ s excellent piece ‘What if this is as good as the Obama administration gets? ‘ made Mike’s Blog Round up at Crooks and Liars. Another surprise showed up last night from Pew Research Center and the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. This time a reference and quote come  from BostonBoomer on Julian Assange and the Wikileaks.  Here’s their story and how we fit in.

Espousing a unique mix of politics, technology, free speech and transparency, WikiLeaks has captured the attention from bloggers in a way few stories ever do. It has been a focus of social media conversation for three weeks this month alone, with a discussion that moved from one dimension to the next. After centering on political blame, the value of exposing government secrets, and the importance of a free press, the debate took on yet a new angle last week.For the week of December 20-24, more than a third (35%) of the news links on blogs were about the controversy, making it the No. 1 subject, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

“It should go without saying that I do not approve of Assange’s behavior if the allegations against him are true. Nevertheless, I still believe the allegations are very convenient for the powers that be,” declared Sky Dancing.

The Center produces something that’s called the New Media Report.  Here’s the description.

The New Media Index is a weekly report that captures the leading commentary of blogs and social media sites focused on news and compares those subjects to that of the mainstream press.

PEJ’s New Media Index is a companion to its weekly News Coverage Index. Blogs and other new media are an important part of creating today’s news information narrative and in shaping the way Americans interact with the news. The expansion of online blogs and other social media sites has allowed news-consumers and others outside the mainstream press to have more of a role in agenda setting, dissemination and interpretation. PEJ aims to find out what subjects in the national news the online sites focus on, and how that compared with the narrative in the traditional press.

In similar news,  Technorati just gave us a new badge early this morning. It’s a nice little green rectangle that says TOP 100 US POLITICS. We’re currently 95.  Not so bad for a blog that was just a file cabinet 2 months ago.

Our goals here include becoming part of the bigger conversation as well as providing more links and information to news items than we get via traditional main stream media outlets dominated by the concerns of advertisers and sources.  We complement that with our commentary and explanations and yours.    Yes.  They hear us now.

So what’s on your reading, blogging and celebration lists today?